Two cents’ on winter and capital punishment (because they go hand-in-hand, right?)

Winter sucks. I know very few people who claim it as their favorite season, and to be honest, I probably don’t like those people very much.

Winter is cold, it’s cruel, it’s boring, and it is devoid of light. As a self-professed vampire, a feeling that is embedded deep in my soul, I don’t need sunlight, but it really does help with things like Vitamin D, the growing of all things, and the absence of the cold bullshit. It also helps to chase away my depression.

I’ve been extremely fortunate and blessed in that I haven’t careened into a downward, seasonal spiral….yet. I am hopeful, yet resolute in my eternal belief that this albatross I have around my neck may occasionally leave to take a piss, but then it will return because it likes my neck; it may be arthritic and stenotic but it is sturdy. I think Depression also respects the fact that I accept it into myself in much the way one accepts a cantankerous and gossipy aunt into their home. You don’t want to, but she’s family.

Winter finds me binge-watching a lot of stuff and always searching for something fascinating to absorb. Serial killers and their capture are always a good tale, so I was pretty psyched when Netflix announced that it would be airing Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes. It promised to be a really binge-worthy event.

After spending a couple evenings, huddled on the couch underneath a blanket and the comforting weight of 3-7 cats, I can now understand the fascination with Ted Bundy. He was smart, handsome, and engaging. I’ve never delved deeply into his crimes, and I don’t think I need to. On the surface, just watching this guy interact with others, it does seem implausible that he could have been anything other than a successful, career-driven young man. A monster? A cold-blooded rapist and murderer who tortured and savaged his victims? No one would suspect it.

….Until you look into the eyes, and hear the tone of his voice change on those tapes. That was a very dangerous guy, and people like him have no use to society. I’m glad that the FBI was able to glean information from him that was useful in profiling, because he really was the first of his kind, in a long line of serial killers, who could be observed, interviewed, and provide valuable insight into what makes a malignant narcissist tick.

I do have to say that the circus atmosphere of his execution – the shameful “spectators” outside the prison – was one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen.

I will never understand the human fascination with executions; be it the Middle Ages, or the public hangings and much of the past.

Cheering, holding up signs, selling t-shirts, setting off fireworks? As the documentary showed the death chamber, the electric chair, and the narrator – an actual witness – described what happened, I was physically sick to my stomach. The finality of the situation was palpable to me and I realized how frightened he must have been as they strapped him into that chair. I don’t feel sorry for Bundy, but as an empath, I tend to feel things like a slap across the face or a punch in the stomach. I do feel for those who were tasked with carrying out the sentence and for those who were there as official witnesses. What an awful burden on the heart and mind that must be; the narrator who witnessed it now says he is ashamed that he was “overjoyed”. That’s encouraging to have heard; a person who gets enjoyment out of either the doing or the witnessing of such a thing is not a person who I would care to know, I don’t think.

How is the capital punishment meted out in this country somehow more palatable than the public executions we gasp about and wring our hands over, that are shown whenever there’s some genocide or terrible takeover in a third world country? Why is it perfectly acceptable to celebrate the execution of a death row inmate, but we were taken aback and disgusted when the Iraqis did the same thing to Saddam Hussein? “I don’t want to see this,” more than one American complained. Why not? He was responsible for the deaths of not just 30, but thousands. And yet, the execution of a monster like that was somehow distasteful and shocking to the sensitivities of people who may have been in that crowd in the days and minutes preceding 5:00am on January 24, 1989.

They gathered by the thousands, singing raucous songs, buying “Old Sparky” pins and “Burn, Bundy, Burn” t-shirts; drinking themselves silly while they cheered. If this isn’t the perfect representation of ‘Murica, I don’t know what is. We are nothing if not proud of our hypocrisy.

Am I against the death penalty? No, I am not. Some crimes are deserving of it. However, glorifying it, celebrating it? Gathering for it as if it was some celebration? The irony of this is not lost on me. As much as Ted Bundy killed his victims in order to reach that sadistic, sick, frenzied moment of euphoria, those who gathered at his execution did the same, damned thing.

Think about the individuals, at that very moment, who are taking part in taking a life, exacting the revenge for the victims and families and carrying out a punishment handed down by a group of peers. That is a tremendously sobering, serious moment, especially when you take into account that many of these individuals – guards, the warden, medical staff, and the executioner – could very well be Christian and as such, doing something that their God considers a mortal sin. Even the chaplain sent to provide comfort to the inmate, must be feeling the weight of such a final judgment.

It isn’t a celebration. It is a funeral. It is a moment to think, very seriously, about the fragility of life and the immense, awesome power we have over each other and all living things. It is a moment to take in solemnly and quietly, and to reverently dedicate to the victims. As a final thought, why would we want to give these sick fucks like Bundy the attention they crave? They may have celebrated his death, but in doing so, they sent him to his execution pleased with the knowledge that he was somehow important. He ended up getting what he wanted most in life: attention, his name in lights, books written about him, and the fact that, 30 years later, people are sitting on their couches, underneath blankets and 3-7 cats, watching a show about Ted Bundy.

I think that, when we make a party out of something as final as exacting an eye for an eye, the message is truly lost. The lesson is lost.

And with that, I’m taking my two cents’ and putting them down into the cushions of the couch, where my ass will be planted for much of this polar vortex bullshit. Underneath this soft, warm feline blanket, amongst 3-7 others of his clowder.

There is no applicable title for this think piece, except, maybe COMMON SENSE. Duh.

Warning: I’m pretty sure this isn’t going to be a popular opinion. I don’t usually keep mah trap shut when I feel strongly about something – big shocker there! – so why should this be any different?

Or, “that’s her. The one with HER OWN OPINION.”

People are simply losing their shit about the New York State bill that was signed into law that allows abortions up to full-term. Opinions are everywhere, and most of them are the voices of outraged people who fear that New York State is about to lose its moniker, “The Empire State” and become “The Infanticide State”. I’ll admit, on the very face of it, the words are shocking and carry a very, heavy weight when you think about the reality of it. I was initially taken aback; when you read the words, “full-term” your mind conjures up immediate visuals of sweet, cherubic newborn babies, swaddled in blankets and smelling of baby powder.

Then, the more analytical, common-sense part of my brain said, “Wait a minute. Read the whole thing.”

Who in their right mind thinks that this law is for simple birth control and “killing of babies”? If your answer is “Religious and Evangelical Right-To-Lifers” I would then insist that you revisit my words “in their right mind” and then answer. I know, the rusted ass turd holding the Oval Office (and the nation) hostage right now threw out the words “babies ripped from the womb” into the mainstream, but you need to first consider the source and then remember that he has allegedly paid for a few abortions, if you want to believe pretty credible sources. I don’t know anyone that disgusting or heartless that they’d carry a child to full-term, or near, and then decide, “Yeah, I can’t be bothered” and decide abortion is the answer. People can be hateful and I am a pretty harsh critic of most humans, but even I believe that this isn’t a line most would cross. No, this law won’t hurt innocent babies or allow irresponsible whores to continue to be whores. It will assist parents in making the most humane, loving, difficult decision when they have an unviable pregnancy. It will allow them to make it without the shame foisted upon them by others or the questionable legalities. It will not assuage their own, personal pain or pangs of guilt, but those are human conditions we all experience and are as such, ours to own.

Late-term abortions are mercy killings, as much as I deplore the term. Is it killing if it gives peace to the afflicted? We have such a tumultuous, terrible struggle with the idea of euthanasia or even putting our sick pets down; this is a whole other kettle of fish. Why is it somehow more merciful and compassionate to have your vet inject your pet with something to end their suffering, or to allow a terminally-ill person to make the same choice? Why is it completely unthinkable that a parent or parents should be allowed to make the same, agonizingly heartbreaking decision to give their unborn child the same measure of peace?

Here’s a simple explanation, if you’ve been reading and you still want to say, “But….”:

The Reproductive Act only does three things:

– Decriminalizes abortion. Neither a woman or her doctor can be jailed for performing this procedure.

– It allows them to remove a fetus beyond 24 weeks who has died in utero (or has a malformation making it unviable), thus making a tragic situation maybe a fraction less devastating than it already is.

– It will allow other qualified health professionals to perform the procedure. And not in your run-of-the-mill Planned Parenthood Clinic, either.

This does NOT allow the abortion of a healthy full-term baby from a healthy mom, no matter how many Bible thumpers tell you it does.

I’ve recalled all the sad stories I have read and heard, secondhand, about babies who were born with unsurvivable conditions; babies whose mothers carried them to term, heartbroken by the knowledge that their child, if it survived the birthing process, would only live for a few minutes or an hour. Babies with conditions so terrible, the doctors were certain that every moment, as fleeting as it would be, was going to be filled with pain and agony. I’m not talking about chromosome abnormalities or even physical limitations; I’m describing malignant tumors, brain malformations, and fatal organ abnormalities. These aren’t just “quality of life” conditions. They are terminal, and by terminal, I mean that every moment these babies spend, both inside as well as outside the womb, is characterized by unendurable suffering.

Think about that for a moment. Is there anything worse for a parent than when their child is in pain? From simple colds to broken bones and even the unthinkable: a serious, life-threatening condition or injury; a parent will do anything to “make it better.” Now, imagine carrying a child who you have yet to meet, but who you have grown and nurtured, shared hopes and dreams for, and anticipated his or her arrival so excitedly; the love you feel for this little stranger who is also not a stranger is infinite and all-encompassing.

Then imagine an ultrasound, thought to be just a look at your baby; maybe this is a 20 or 21 week appointment. When the technician goes quiet and then leaves the room, returning with a more senior colleague, you are gripped with a fear so great it threatens to swallow you whole. They tell you that something isn’t right. There are urgent consultations, more tests, and then a final, terrible sit-down with experts. Your baby, that growing, kicking, part of you, is missing part or most of his or her brain, or has a malignant tumor that has tentacled into their brain, lungs, heart, and spine. Your baby will perhaps breathe at birth, but your baby will feel nothing but agony. Your love cannot fix this. Modern medical science cannot fix this. There is only pain, and then the memory of your child taking a first breath and then a last in the haze of perhaps an hour or less.

Would you want that? Or would you want the pain to end for your child as quickly as possible? Could you survive weeks and months of carrying a child who you know is in agonizing pain and who will die in your arms as soon as you deliver? Every time your baby kicked, would you want to lose your mind, wondering if that was because they were hurting and there was nothing you could do to make it better?

I couldn’t. Maybe you could. Maybe you just believe that’s how it has to be. That’s your right. But this same right, in the other direction, should be extended. Your beliefs are yours. Mine belong to me. And there are others who don’t feel the way you might, and they deserve a choice without repercussions. Abortion is legal in all 50 states. Each state has its own set of rules. In some, abortion is illegal after 20 weeks. In others, it’s 22 or 24. I would also state that abortions at this stage are not the typical, $400 procedure one receives in a clinic. They cost upwards of $20,000 and while the baby is injected with a drug to stop its heart quite painlessly, the mother still has to deliver. I would fervently hope that any serious medical conditions that would affect the viability of a baby would be discovered before the second trimester is over, but that is not always the case. And that is absolutely heartbreaking. But why compound that pain by saying, “Sorry, we know your baby is going to die and is in pain as we speak, but you need to give birth naturally, as was intended”?

There is also the language within this law that provides for the termination of a pregnancy if the mother’s life is at risk. I, personally, don’t know a single mother who would make that choice willingly. I had a high-risk first pregnancy and had my doctor asked me to choose when I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, I would have told her to get fucked. I know that I was never more frightened when I was told that both our lives were in danger and that a cesarean section needed to be performed right away. Had you asked me then, in my petrified state, to choose in the event of a catastrophic event, Zachary would be telling you this story; not me. There are mothers whose lives are at a significantly higher risk, where one or both lives could be lost, and I can only imagine how hard that is. While some might argue that this makes things more manageable, I would argue that it is much more complicated than a simple decision. But isn’t it at least comforting to know that no one else can make that choice but you?

Isn’t that the point? Your body, your choice.

There are some things that the government, and churches, and perfect strangers should “scroll past”, as technology dictates these days. As I dictate, it’s a bit blunter:

Mind your own, fucking business.

A shamelessly political blog because we are a country without shame.

Facebook is a massive pain in the ass with all its idiosyncrasies. We all feel that sense of frustration every day, I think.

Sometimes, though? Facebook gives me just what I need. The Facebook Memories posts can be happiness-inducing, and they can be painful. The one I got today was illuminating.

Here I go, saying what’s on my mind. Facebook asked, and tonight, I will answer.

I am, first and foremost, a human being. I have thoughts, feelings, insecurities, moments of great pride and moments of disappointment. I bleed red blood. I cry salty tears. I poop. I sometimes pee a little when I laugh very hard. I’m blessed with intelligence and an articulate way of putting things, even though there are times when my grammar is generously peppered with obscenities. I am human. It’s what I do.

I am, secondly, an American woman. (Mama, let me be..see….errr, wait) I am proud to be American, and prouder still of what women have accomplished in this country. The blood, sweat, and tears of many women who came before us paved the way for the human rights we enjoy today.

I have compassion, empathy, and I understand that not everyone is the same as me. Not everyone agrees with or has the same opinions and beliefs as me. And guess what? That’s okay. I understand how hard it was for those who came before us to secure the rights we, as Americans, have today.

I didn’t suffer as an American over the last 8 years. I believe President Obama to be a brilliant, kind, eloquent, and yes, forgiving man and leader. I was never more proud of my right to be an American and to cast a vote as I was the first time I voted for him.

Except maybe when I voted for Hillary Clinton last November.

A lot of people will ask, “Why? Because she’s a woman?” No. That did not register at all with me, because in my opinion, she’s got bigger balls than much of the male population in DC. I was proud because I was allowed to vote my own mind. Not my conscience; those are two entirely different entities within this body. My choice was not popular amongst many of the people I interact with this very depressed, very Republican part of Pennsylvania. When asked why they were voting for Trump, I was told, on more than one occasion, “He’s better than Hillary.” No one gave a shit about his vague policy declarations and his lack of any moral ethics. “Grab them by the pussy” was met with laughter and “So what?” No one had any sort of answer when asked, “What if that was your daughter, your wife, your sister?” He was just “talking”. They laughed at his crude mimicry of a disabled reporter. He didn’t mean it LIKE THAT, they said. Like what? I asked – me, the sister of a mentally handicapped man who makes some similar motions when agitated. He was just joking, they said.

Um, please.

I don’t want a president who is so thin-skinned that he tweets insults in the middle of the night. I don’t want a president who doesn’t realize that the health insurance that he LIKES – The Affordable Care Act – is, in fact, the same Obamacare that he is vowing to abolish. I don’t want a president who has declared bankruptcy so many times that there ought to be an amendment to the word – like Obamacare. It should be called “Declaring a Trump”. I don’t want a president so devoid of a sense of personal responsibility that he takes for granted the awesome job he now has in front of him. It is time to be serious, and he is anything but. Even those who voted for him – many of them – are now saying, “Well, we had two shitty choices.” Maybe we did, but don’t you DARE vilify me for making as “shitty” a choice as you did. You do not get to do that just because, in your words, you won. Nobody won. Nobody.

Guess what, though? He’s what we got. I don’t have to like it. I don’t have to keep my mouth shut about it either. I get to say, with all seriousness, that those who call me and “my kind” liberals and snowflakes and whatever else derogatory that they can muster, well, they all can fuck right the fuck off, fucking hypocrites that they are, because this is America, and while they’re on their high and mighty “We won so nah bah bah boo boo” horse, I’m still wishing for a country united, a Congress working together and for the good of the people, and for human kindness and compassion to come back into vogue. I get to do that, so fuck you.

He’s what we got. I respect the Office of the President. I have respect for any man or woman who hears a higher calling and answers because that takes a lot of courage and an infallible belief in oneself.

I do not like the man. I do not have to. I do want to see this country mend itself. I don’t think he’s the one to do it. At this point, I don’t really know who IS up to the task. What this election did was expose the passive-aggressive relationship we have with racism and intolerance. It brought these things screaming to the forefront. As far as we thought we had come, we found out that we had not. Everyone is old and cranky and wants you off their lawn. Out of the country if you aren’t the same. Let’s build huge walls and keep all outsiders as far away as possible. Welcome to Panem. May the odds be ever in your favor.

Tomorrow begins a new era. And for fuck’s sake, don’t you think that I’d like to see this country regain the greatness we saw in past times of great tests of strength, integrity, valor? This IS one of those times. And God or Satan or whoever the hell is in charge of this mess help us…..he’s what we got to lead us.

As always, dissenters have every right to disagree. On your own page. My page, my rules, my opinions. I don’t disagree or protest your fervent memes and accolades crowing about how much you like the guy. Your page, your right. I do not invite your discussion here, though. This is America, and we get to disagree. You are my friend for a reason. Let’s keep it that way.

God bless America.”

Two years down the road of the Trump Presidency has shown me one thing: I was fucking right on this day, two years ago.

Have we “Made America Great Again”? Are we “winning”?

We are not.

And I knew what was coming. The sad thing is, I truly hoped for better. I didn’t want the fucker to fail, because if he failed, he failed us all. We’d suffer for his failures. The myopic base of his argues that he’s doing wonderful things. I argue that he has sown more hatred and dissension in this country than any other elected official we’ve had. Where we are today isn’t wonderful.

The only thing I can say about January 19, 2017, is that she didn’t think it would be as bad as it has gotten.

Come on, people. We need to fix this mess.