Friday, November 30, 2018

The Needle Incident

This week was the 20th anniversary of an embarrassing incident from my teen years:

Home economics was not my favorite class in junior high school. For the valuable life skills they offered, I was far more concerned with earning a good grade. On alternating weeks, we would either be in either one of two specially designed classrooms, one for the sowing unit (which doubled for health classes) and one in a kitchen. The elective was taught by Ms. Schnorr, an obese, middle-aged woman who usually yelled directions from behind a desk and chair.

The first big project we had in the sowing unit was creating our own multipurpose aprons. First, we had a preliminary introduction to the sowing machines, with a safety and component quiz. Then, we created pockets for the aprons before moving on to the apron itself.

I didn't quite feel comfortable using the machine, but I went along with the assignments in a cautious manner. The machines were in special tables with detachable platforms, with a pedal connecting to wire. About halfway through the apron, I stood up to adjust the fabric, accidentally stepped on the pedal, and the sowing needle went straight through the tip of my thumb. 

I screamed for a couple of seconds, loud enough to get the semi-immobile teacher to rush to my care. I nudged the pedal out of the way with my other foot, and Ms. Schnorr was able to get the needle out of the machine. One of my classmates walked me to the nurse; I was too panicked to even notice who it was. The school nurse removed the needle very gently, put some astringent on it, and bandaged me up. After calming my nerves, I walked myself back to class.

Junior high can be a hornets' nest of gossip and misinformation, and Herrick was no exception. By the time lunch period (5A) half of the school was not only talking about my thumb, but were spreading misinformation and blowing things out of proportion. Some of the kids even thought I'd had my thumb amputated. I had to show off my wounded thumb in the lunch line to prove it was a relatively minor injury.

Even though the wound was skin-deep, the thumb incident messed with my head for the duration of that trimester. I was even more nervous about using a sowing machine, and even though I passed the class, I have no interest in operating a sowing machine ever again. Its a life skill that I've learned to do without. About a month after needle met fingertip, I suffered some first degree burns on my left hand in the same class. I had to put my hand in cold water for the duration of third and fourth period, but the needle was marginally more traumatizing. I guess those are the real scars you carry.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Two Quick Things

The results of the 2018 midterms, mixed as they were, were an undeniable rebuke of President Trump. Purple went blue, but the overwhelming majority of red areas stuck with their man. This gives the president actual checks and balances for the first time in his administration, but that silver lining is tamped down by at least two more years of gridlock. At worst, this gives Trump a new (and very tangible) punching bag, an obvious scapegoat for anything and everything that goes wrong in his administration. Impeachment only seems marginally feasible now.

+ Finally, it just isn't Thanksgiving without my annual thanks/no thanks list.

I Give Thanks To: enduring friendships, consistent work, morsels of self-actualization, and anyone and everyone who has been reading this blog here and on for the last 13 1/2 years.
And No Thanks: a lack of common sense gun laws, property taxes, writer's block, and poor communication.

Next week: the thumb incident.


Monday, November 5, 2018

Some Final Thoughts on the 2018 Midterm Elections

Tomorrow, November 6th will be the crucial midterm election in recent memory. In fact, it might be most imperative midterm vote in American history. That might seem cliche, but between 2016 and this year I don't think I've seen democracy at a greater crossroads. This election is undeniably a moratorium on President Trump and the perceived long-term damage he is doing to the United States.

Like millions of Americans, I voted early. I was relieved not only to see so many people brag on social media about voting before November 6th, but a disproportionate number under age 40 do so. For some, who you voted for is no one's business but your own (and maybe the Russians) and you can boast about participating in the process without expressing a specific political stance. I'm sure at least one person reading this disagrees vehemently with my political views, and that's your right. Your participation in the process is what matters most.

Granted, a fair percentage of the candidates are not your cup of tea. For the umpteenth election in a row, the governor's race in my home state is an uninspiring shitshow. For the unfamiliar, a proto-Trump multimillionaire political novice is running for reelection against a bizarro Trump multimillionaire political novice. In reality, the political power in Illinois still rests in the hands of the prematurely fossilizing, Emperor Palpatine wannabe we call our Speaker of the House. Someone will win, but Illinois keeps losing.

Even if a handful of races are unsavory or a lost cause, that should not deter you or anyone else from filling out a ballot. If 2016 was undercut by progressives' inability to coelesce behind a common cause, this is our one opportunity to redeem ourselves. The notion of a liberal litmus test is ridiculous. Maybe some of the stereotypes are true: we're too sensitive, whiny, needy and anal. That by no means is meant to de-legitimize triggers and aggressors.  For one day, we have to show a united front, and check our egos at the door.

In other words, don't let the bullies win.

This is the seventh election (midterms, presidential, or otherwise) in which I've given a pre-vote pep talk to anyone willing to read my ramblings. This is the second such pep talk I've given where I've been unabashedly partisan; our president is a narcissistic, con artist buffoon who still demonstrates a remedial knowledge of how the world works after nearly two years in office. If we can't get rid of Donald Trump, then we can at least undercut him.

In short, for the love of all things good, please vote.