Monday, April 15, 2019

A Moment of Your Time

Hello, and welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we stray from the main message more frequently than we address it! I'm Anne Johnson, a wishy-washy Pagan ... but still a Pagan, thank you very much.

A scholar at American University is conducting a survey of Pagan values. If you would like to participate, here is the link:

It took me about 20 minutes and didn't feel particularly threatening or judgmental.


Friday, April 12, 2019

Katy Is Living My Dream

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" I'm Anne Johnson, a has-been, over-the-hill, wannabe this-and-that. Just think! I always wanted to write a novel! (And I did, but it sucks.)

I digress. I think I'm about to start a new little series of posts here called "Living My Dream," about people who are doing what I would love to do, but couldn't or can't.

Katy is first on the list. She is my next door neighbor, and she is 10.

Every evening Katy comes out with her glove and her baseballs and practices pitching. She's got a wicked delivery for a fourth grader. And guess what else she has? She has a spot on a Little League roster!

When I was 10, I wanted nothing more than to play Little League. My mom and I used to go watch the games. (The fields were between two huge cow pastures.) In my dreams I was on the team, swinging for the fences.

But in 1969, girls were not allowed to try out for Little League. Probably just as well in my case, because my hand/eye coordination is the only thing in the world that's worse than my novel.

Anyway, last evening I went to the Haterville Little League field to watch Katy play. She pitched two innings and hit a triple. She struck out a few batters. And she was the only girl on either team.

I'm glad Katy didn't settle for playing softball. Don't get me wrong, softball's great and all that. But if you want to play baseball, you ought to be able to take a shot at playing baseball.

Katy is a proud tomboy, and this I heartily endorse. At her age, so was I.

All hail Katy, living my dream!

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Can't Please Everyone

Hello, and welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where no good deed goes unpunished! Have you ever noticed that? The nicer you are, the more you're squashed. I'm Anne Johnson, a veritable pancake.

Today I arrived home to find the following note on my back porch:

To: Anne Johnson
From: Haterville Squirrels LL.C
Re: Ornamental Maple

It has come to our attention that you have made your ornamental maple inhospitable to hungry squirrels. Rest assured that we will bring this matter to the attention of the proper authorities. You can expect to hear from our attorney, as well as the local and/or national press.

Don't think for one moment that the many peanuts you put in the back yard every day will mitigate this debacle. We are tired of peanuts and need some tender greens in our diet.

This isn't over.

Okay, okay! I have a maple tree that I planted as a seedling, grabbed from another yard. It's the same age as my daughter The Fair, and so I call it "Fair Tree." Last year the squirrels got up in the canopy and ate all the buds. The tree had scant leaves the rest of the summer.

So yes, I committed a nefarious act, and to be honest I expected some kind of retaliation.

That's cayenne pepper. I admit, it's really, really mean. But the tree won't survive another year of having all its buds eaten. It's a small tree.

I will continue to put peanuts out for these local, snobby, Haterville squirrels. Don't tell them the peanuts are for the blue jays. Next thing you know, I'll get another memo.

Monday, April 01, 2019

One Job Should Be Enough

What's wrong with the Democrats? Is it me, or is everyone missing the real problem in this country?

How long can this end-stage capitalism last, when our young people can only be employed in "gigs" as "independent contractors," as "part timers" when really they should be full time (and are, in terms of hours performed)?

Did you see this week that Lyft, whose entire work force is "gig," went public with an IPO? Shareholder value! The entire company is built on people who qualify for Medicare and food stamps!

What we have right now is a workforce that is losing all of its power to self-sustain. I am so tired of it. So. Tired. Of. It.

If I was running this world, I'd stick it to the oligarchs, and not just in this country, but everywhere. There ought to be an international cap on wealth, agreed to by all governing bodies.

Know why that will never happen? The politicians are either bought by the stinking rich, or they are the stinking rich.

One job should be enough. Enough to rent an apartment, enough to support a child, enough to afford a modest savings, a fun vacation, a car. That's not asking much. Why isn't it a platform of the Democratic Party?

Oh, by the way, sweet readers ... I missed you guys! You can comment, and sorry about the stupid verify thing. I'll try to police the sleaze bags.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Not On This Site!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," serving downsized deities since 2005! Wow! Another follower! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I have had to change the privacy settings on my comments link. "The Gods Are Bored" has been overrun with sicko spammers for Asian escort services. There are few things I find more loathsome.

Asian children from Nepal and parts of India are often trafficked into Red Light districts in the larger cities of the region. Poverty-stricken Chinese girls are convinced they will be getting good-paying jobs in America, only to be smuggled into massage parlors where rich old bastards use and discard them like sticks of chewing gum.

SMITE! I won't have this evil as part of my blogging package!

This is me when someone disrespects my blog. Any questions? If you have them, they will be moderated.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Minding My Sacred Space

Every year in March the Pagan community holds an event called Sacred Space at a hotel in Baltimore. I have never gone.

March is the hardest month when you are a school teacher. You get Daylight Savings Time as well as a level of ennui that puts the bored gods to shame. Everyone is praying for spring, praying for June, praying for evaluations to be over. It's still cold and often gray, raining but not snowing. The end of the year seems to be miles and miles away.

I lack the kind of energy I would need to go to Sacred Space and be really present there. So I stay home.

This spring I need to tend my own sacred space. The lavish new McMansions across the street are finished and inhabited. There are now 6 children under the age of 7 in those two houses. My whole block is suddenly running with kids. It wasn't that way when Heir and Fair were growing up.

It's time to tidy the outdoor surroundings, to buy screening plants for the porch and perhaps a fountain. I need a new bird bath and some more shiny stuff to please the faeries and Nature Spirits.

It will be a creative challenge to block the view of those ugly houses. If you have any suggestions, fling them at me. I need for my little piece of ground to be an oasis of peace in a desert of chaos.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Mandescending and Mindfulness

You've heard the term "mansplaining," and I really like it. Whoever coined it was pretty smart. The definition is basically a man explaining to a woman something that the woman is either more knowledgeable about because it's her lived reality as a female, or something she has trained to do and knows how to do already.

For instance, my daughter The Fair was filming an event the other night with high-end equipment she is well trained to use, and some dude tried to tell her how to set up the tripod. Really?

I'm going to add a new term of my own: mandescending. This is where a man is condescending to a woman and dismisses her out of hand, even though her concerns are serious, maybe either health- or job-related.

Yesterday my school district had a professional development workshop, and part of it was yet another session on how to use the baffling new web site for which the district spent tons of money to purchase a full package. The web site does a gazillion tasks but is about as user-friendly as a potted cactus. Every time we get a demonstration, the same guy comes. He's yet another of those paid consultants who spent a few years in the classroom, couldn't wait to get out, and saw this web site as a ticket.

Honestly, I'll be the first to admit that if I had trained as a teacher I would have been looking to move into corporate somehow after five to ten years. The teaching profession is poorly-paid, overly scrutinized, underappreciated by the public, and physically and emotionally exhausting.

Part of what makes it exhausting is trying to learn the web site du jour.

To return to my narrative, I was attempting to keep up with the blistering pace of this man's presentation, and as usual I fell a step or two behind. When I asked why my page didn't look like his, he came to my station, flicked a few buttons, and said, "There you are." And sniffed with derision.

I went to the vending machine and bought a Snickers bar. First one I've eaten in two years.

The joy of the Snickers soon abated, but my fury has not.

This country treats its elders with condescension. Or mandescension, you decide.

In the summer of 1979, I was working in the Milton S. Eisenhower Library of the Johns Hopkins University. I had a job with a special archive of psychiatric documents that belonged to a prominent Hopkins physician named Adolf Meyer. In order to prepare a documentary list of the voluminous records this man kept (which included extensive correspondence with Freud, Jung, and other psychiatric luminaries), the university purchased a word processor. It was the first one any of us had seen.

A technician wheeled the word processor into our office space and showed the lead archivist how to use it. But then an interesting phenomenon occurred.

One by one, the oldest professors in the Hopkins community dropped by to see the word processor. These were men (of course, it was 1979) who had probably written multiple scholarly tomes, using Royal typewriters or even legal pads. They wanted to see the machine in action. And so did I.

A few years later, I found myself working for a publishing house, preparing copy for encyclopedias. The work was done with pencil and electric typewriters. Then the company bought two word processors, but no one was particularly interested in using them. Having had a little bit of exposure to one, I gladly accepted a spot at the word processor. I got a raise.

I know I should have kept up with computing. I know I should be more capable when it comes to new web sites. Perhaps it shouldn't count that I was the most proficient with technology when certain workshop presenters were probably learning to use the potty.

I know my mental capacity isn't what it once was. I don't even write for this site like I used to. But to be dismissed with such thinly-veiled disdain was a nasty jolt. I'm old. I'm obsolete. I'm female. Thanks for reminding me.

But wait, there's more.

After being humiliated in the web site training, I had to go back into a general faculty meeting for both of the Vo-Tech campuses. When both campuses get together, it's a lot of teachers. A good two hundred plus, I should think. We fill an auditorium.

The rest of the long day was spent in mindfulness training. We had to ground, center, follow our breath, feel our feet on the floor (mine were cold), yada yada yada. Be in the moment, and if your thoughts drift, pull back to breath.

First of all, when I do this practice, it is tied to my religion, which I firmly separate from my work responsibilities. So I deliberately let my thoughts go as haywire as they wanted to. Here's the short list:

1. Wow, that guy is such an asshole! Karma's gonna come for him when he's 60, for sure. I'd like to be there when he gets confused over the communication system between himself and teachers on Mars. He won't have tenure. Maybe he'll get fired! Maybe a woman supervisor will tell him, "You're all washed up. Hit the road!"

2. I wonder where that mindfulness facilitator got her dress. Is that drip-dye, tie-dye or some other process? I like the way it drapes too.

3. Damn, I wonder what's going on with this student teacher I got assigned all of a sudden! Did she flake out on her previous assignment? What's up with that? Why did I even agree to do it?

4. Getting old sucks. I'm so tired all the time. I'm sick of people. I don't want to go out for lunch. I don't want to go to the gym anymore. My body is so weary, and my feet are cold. Why don't they turn on some heat in here? Dammit, I thought about putting foot warmers in my shoes, and I didn't do it! Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

5. I wonder if I should pull back the ivy in the back yard just a foot or two. But grass doesn't grow well, and Mr. J never mows the lawn. Isn't the ivy better? But pulling the ivy would be good exercise. Yeah, but you know how annoying it is working with that English ivy. Yeah, maybe I'll just leave it. But if I had a nice straight line down the back, I could put up a stone border, like a rock wall ... what, am I supposed to be feeling my back against the chair? Fuck that. Fuck this whole thing.

6. I think I'll stop by Woodstock on the way home and see how they're doing. It's sort of on the way. Let's see, if I take Haterfield-Berlin Road to White Horse Road, and then ... that leads right to Springdale. Easy! Because it's such a long slog up Route 73. Oh! Why does everyone have their hand up in the air? Did I miss something? Who cares?

7. I can't believe I'm hungry after wolfing down that Snickers.

8. Donald Trump is an asshole. All powerful men are assholes. Geez, even Bernie Sanders couldn't run a tight ship. But this country will never elect a woman. Women won't vote for a woman. I wonder why that is? But I know it's true.

9. Camping or a hotel? I'm too old for camping! I'm not sleeping in a tent on the ground. But the hotel is so expensive. I could use that money to improve the front porch, so I don't have to look at the disgraceful, hideous house across the street ... Is it time to go yet? FUCK! Another two hours? I can't even. Like, camping isn't as bad as all that. You wake up in the cool morning air ... snap, I would have to buy so much equipment. But then I would have all the equipment, and I could use it again! Yeah, use it again to go camping. I'm done with camping! I spent my whole teenage decade in a tent! You know what else I'm done with? Mindfulness! Just another trendy stupid thing our school district is flirting with. You'd think they would train us on what to do when angry parents start shouting in our faces.

10. Whoa, look at the shop teachers! They are giggling like kids. Welding and mindfulness: perfect together.

If you've gotten this far, I know you get the drift.

Readers, my stats tell me that I have had over a million page views here at "The Gods Are Bored." I think a significant number of those are spammers of the pornographic variety. Still, someone has been reading my drivel. If that is you, do you want me to bake you a pie?