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His Hate Taught Me to Love

June 23, 2020

Originally, I set out to paint a portrait of my dad. I think it ended up being me instead.

My father is a racist. Luckily for me, he was also a deadbeat.

Since I only had to see him on holidays and the occasional weekend, I was only subjected to an endless string of racial slurs a few times a year.

Nobody ever talked to me about race when I was a kid. I mean nobody ever really talked about anything with me as a kid. I think I was an unfortunate accident. My parents married in 1969, divorced in 1970, and I was born in 1971. According to my math, I was the result of a Valentine’s Day booty call. I know he didn’t really want me. He made that clear the time he called me to tell me I needed to tell my mom to have child support to get off his ass. You see, she got cancer and had to file for welfare, which made the State of Ohio aware that he’d never paid child support. So, he told me to tell my mom to call them off or he would say I wasn’t his kid. That moment is like a cement block that’s permanently tied to my ankle. As his words fell into my ear through the phone line, all I could think about was that last birthday card he had sent that he signed “Love, Dad.” I remember going to my room after that call and putting that card in a safe place, in case I needed evidence.

As I sit here writing this, I try to think of a good memory of my dad. I can’t come up with anything other than that one year that he got me the Evil Knievel doll with the motorcycle and ramp. Man, I loved that thing. But more often than not, my memories of him are about sadness, fear, and disappointment. He looked a lot like Willie Nelson, and at one point, I had convinced myself that the reason my dad was never around was because he was Willie Nelson and he was out on tour making other people really happy with his music. It’s inconceivable at times to try to grasp the lengths the human brain will work to reconcile cognitive dissonance. That was my childhood.

He used the N word a lot and when he used it, he said it with such hatred and vitriol. Not long after Michael Jackson’s Thriller came out, I remember I had this black faux leather jacket with lots of zippers and I had adorned it with Michael Jackson buttons. My mom dropped me off on his doorstep for a rare overnight visit. When he opened the door, he looked down at me in disgust and said, “You’re gonna have to take those N-word things off your jacket before you come into my house.” I remember turning my head and seeing the tail lights of my mom’s Ford Elite driving off in the distance and feeling scared, standing there on his porch in the dark and the cold, stuck there for what seemed like an eternity and being forced to take those buttons off my jacket before I could go inside. I was 11.

Now at this same time, I spent a lot of time with my Grandma who lived in a neighborhood that was predominately black. All the kids played with each other and became friends. We didn’t care about the color of each other’s skin. Matter of fact, I think the only other white kids in the neighborhood were the two girls who lived across the street and their step-dad was black. Mr. Stone frequently took us to the city pool and picked us up after a long day in the sun. He also had the sweetest ride on the block and I felt special on the occasions I got to ride in the backseat of that brown Cadillac. It was the first time I’d ever sat on real leather seats.

So on these forced weekends with my dad where he often left me alone or with his mother, I couldn’t understand the hatred he had for the other people in my life who I spent a lot of time with, who showed me more love than he ever did, who spent long summer days playing with me, or their parents who took me places, fed me cookies, and never turned me away. How could he hate these people he didn’t even know?

Our haphazard relationship held on by a very thin string for many years. Months would pass between awkward phone calls. He seemed more interested in me after I had kids; perhaps he thought being a grandpa would be cool. I’d hear from him on Christmas and Easter, when he wanted to bring my kids presents and be the cool grandpa. He stopped into my office in May of 2013. I told him my oldest was graduating from high school soon. I wrote the date and time on a post-it and tucked it into his shirt pocket. I never heard from him again.

I used to be mad about having a father who didn’t care about me. After I had my own kids, I couldn’t even understand how someone could be so indifferent to a human being they created. Now that I am older, I realize his hatred was so deep, he couldn’t love anyone. Not even me.

Making America Sick

May 27, 2020

 

We could’ve done better.

This is supposed to be the greatest country on the planet. The land of the free; the home of the brave. 

What I’ve witnessed in the last few months makes me question that. I feel like I’m in a perpetual King’s Island Hell on a runaway roller coaster that hasn’t been inspected for safety and there’s no way I can get off this ride because 30% of the group I’m with voted that this is the best ride around. 

The naysayers will say I’m a snowflake and they can’t understand why I wouldn’t want to go on a ride that only has a death rate of 6%. They argue that there are other rides that kill less people per year, so why shouldn’t I take my chances with this ride? And if I don’t take my chances on this ride, then King’s Island will completely shut down and cease to exist, thus humanity and the home of the free and brave will also cease to exist, and then the people who work at King’s Island won’t have a job. 

Maybe I’m being stupid, but if you kill all the people who could ride the roller coaster, then King’s Island is probably going to go out of business anyway. But this analogy is flawed. It assumes that people are choosing to ride a roller coaster and they simply have a 6% chance of dying from doing so. 

The reality is that we aren’t talking about an activity that one does and that activity has no impact on the other people around them. We are talking about a virus that is highly contagious. And we are dealing with a leaderless, selfish population that only cares about themselves and their immediate desires. They need haircuts, pedicures, and a fucking gym workout. 

They don’t care if your wife just had chemo. They don’t care that your kid has asthma. They don’t care that your 80 year old diabetic grandma is recovering from a hip replacement. Well, just stay at home if you’re scared, gotdamnit! They need to get haircuts, manicures, and lift weights. So, fuck you and your unfortunate circumstances. 

They don’t understand how viruses work. Apparently science is as taboo as porn used to be. I never want to hear these asshats preach to me ever again about abortion or having to breath the same air as a nearby smoker. Where is the freedom of those people to kill other innocent people? You can argue it’s not the same, but you’re wrong. 

Yes, the flu kills 50,000 people per year. And that’s absolutely horrible in a developed nation who claims to be the best on the entire planet. You actually should be mad about that. Corona Virus killed 100,000 people in 3 months. You should be fucking outraged by that. But, apparently here in the US, we don’t teach people about exponential virus growth, public health, or common decency. 

 

Happy Mother’s Day

May 10, 2020

Covid Death Toll
5/7/20

Every Friday, I make art representing the weekly death toll. It’s become a sad, yet cathartic night.

Heretic or Hero: The Great Fourth Grade Rosary Battle

May 3, 2020

Helle 2020

I’m going to tell you a story about that time I went to Catholic school for a year in small town Ohio during the early 80s. It’s now almost 40 years later and every time I think about my friend in this story, it makes me smile. You know how Ferris Bueller got over on Mr. Rooney? Well my friend Dena did that with Sister Francis in 1981. Except it was more glorious. I think I might have even heard the angels singing on high.

Now, you need to know some things about Dena first. Both of her parents were academics and she was an only child. They provided her with the neatest toys I had ever seen. In my old age, I now recognize these were educational toys, but back then they were magical creations that could only be found one street over in the immaculate, calm house with purring fat kitty named Tigger. I couldn’t take my eyes off the prism; a stunning triangular piece of cut, shiny glass that made an amazing light show with a ray of sunlight and a flick of the wrist. And there were always healthy snacks. Most kids might turn their noses up to such a thing, but for me they were intriguing. For me, entering Dena’s house was like entering Narnia.

So anyway, Dena and I were both in Sister Francis’s 4th grade class at St. Peter’s Elementary School. Sister Francis was the epitome of the old school Catholic nun. She was old. She was large. And she was mean. I still remember her weathered hands with brittle, ridged nails, which appeared to be bitten back by her gnarly teeth. The lady never smiled. The whole atmosphere of the classroom was gloom and doom. It was almost like God hadn’t sent his only begotten son to sacrifice his life for our sins and that we should be grateful for that.

After several months of torture, Sister Francis gave us an assignment. We were ordered to replicate the highest of Catholic symbols – the rosary. Now, even as a child brought up in the Church, I felt this task was well beyond my expertise. Plus, I was a latch key kid whose mother worked and never helped with projects, so it seemed like the most daunting of tasks. I mean I was 10. How in the fuck was I supposed to get to a craft store to get the supplies to make an intricate piece of religious symbology? Somehow it happened and I don’t really recall how.

But what I do recall is the day that we were all supposed to come to school with our rosaries. I had somehow fashioned a haphazard string of wooden beads with a cross. Lauren had her rosary. John had his. Everything was fine until Sister Francis called upon Dena. Dena proudly stood up and said that she did not have a rosary to share with the class.

Sister Francis sternly asked her why she did not complete the assignment, to which Dena replied that she was not Catholic and therefore would not be creating a relic of religious symbology to entertain the Sister (OK, I’m paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it. It was almost 40 years ago).

What followed was a very heated exchange, nothing like I had ever seen in my 10 years of life, and I had an alcoholic father and distant mother who married and divorced before I was even born, so the visitation exchanges were lit, y’all!

However, I do remember Sister Francis calling Dena a heretic in front of the whole class, to which Dena responded that it wasn’t possible for her to be a heretic because she wasn’t Catholic. That really got under the Sister’s skin. I quietly laid my head into my crossed arms and smiled while thinking to myself that Dena was my hero and in a few short hours maybe I’d be at her house eating carrot sticks with peanut butter and raisins (and I loathe raisins) and playing with that cool ass prism.

I think Dena’s parents got called to the office after that. I don’t know all the details but I know that Dena had to make the rosary after all. But, it was the most untraditional rosary I had ever seen – made completely of seashells. It was actually quite beautiful. And of the 20 kids in that class, it is the only rosary I remember almost 40 years later. Actually, when I think about it now, that rosary is the one thing I can clearly remember after all these years.

Many years later, Dena told me that she remembered her mother taking her to the craft store to buy the supplies to make the rosary. She picked the shells because she felt they were the most antithetical to what a rosary should be. It was her one last fuck you to Sister Francis.

And while she made it, the shells crumbled and cut her hands. It was her own personal stigmata.

Pink Super Moon

April 7, 2020

Pink Super Moon
April 7, 2020

Storm

March 31, 2020

Storm
Helle 2020

Pondering the Pandemic*

March 20, 2020

Virus
Helle 2020

Pandemic Playlist

So, I’ve been doing the socially responsible thing of self-isolation and social distancing. I’ve only bought what I needed to sustain my family for a week. I’ve probably also watched too much news. I mean what else is there to do? Have you seen the choices for daytime TV lately? There’s only so much Dr. Phil a normal human being can take before losing their goddamned mind. Yesterday, I actually found myself watching a Facebook live video of a funeral for someone I don’t even know, and only because one of my friends shared it. Let me just say, I will haunt for eternity, all people who broadcast and share my funeral on Facebook.

I am by no means an expert in epidemiology or actually anything other than perhaps chocolate martinis, but I am telling you that this shit is BANANAS. I did work for a for-profit treatment center for a year and I will tell you, that convinced me that for-profit healthcare is the fucking devil. There is absolutely no way that someone making a profit off of your misfortune is doing what’s best for your health.

But besides that sickening fact, the thing that strikes me as just unfuckingbelievable is that for the supposed greatest nation on the planet, many people don’t even have health insurance. They can’t afford it. Many of them have almost full time jobs making $10 an hour working for places like Walmart. Yeah, when people work less than 40 hours a week, a company doesn’t have to give benefits. So guess what? You and I get to subsidize some of those Walmart workers who perhaps work 35 hours a week so they can have Medicaid and maybe food stamps. By the way, the Walton Family, owner of the Walmart, is one of the richest families in America.

Equally disheartening is that we also have people who work full time jobs who don’t get paid sick time. Couple that with the toxic American work culture and we have people who are sick showing up to work because they can’t afford to take off. Perhaps they are making your lunch time Big Mac meal or looking after your kids in the daycare. And when they have, oh let’s say the Corona Virus, then you may be exposed to it as well. Your kids could get it. Maybe your 80 year old granny will get it. And she could die, all because some guy couldn’t call off at McDonald’s and still be able to pay his bills for the month.

And don’t tell me you’ve never worked at a place that actually had sick leave but made sure you never used it. What kind of wimp calls off sick and makes her coworkers pick up the slack? Oh what’s wrong, you little pussy, can’t handle a cold? America is the inventor of the toxic work culture that expects you to show up no matter what. In some work places, you can’t even take a vacation day, let alone a sick day.

The United States of America, land of the free, home of the brave, is the only industrialized country in the world where people go bankrupt because they were unfortunate enough to get cancer. People who have diabetes die because they can’t afford their insulin. Women still die in childbirth in the US. Last year, the average life expectancy for US citizens dropped for the 3rd straight year in a row.

Yet during this pandemic, we have communities who are afraid to shut down schools for fear that children won’t eat. We have people who can’t miss work or they won’t make their rent. We have people who are one paycheck away from financial disaster. We also have people who just don’t fucking care that their actions affect other people.

In the midst of all of that, we have no real leadership in the White House. We have GOP senators selling off their stocks after receiving classified briefings of the economic damage this pandemic is having on our country, while they simultaneously vote against measures that could help hard working Americans. NBA players, actors, and the wealthy get tested and treated, while veterans and nursing home patients languish and die.

I don’t know about y’all, but it doesn’t seem like we’re really concerned about being best or making America great.

*This is my very first blog where I personally painted the image, wrote the entry, and procured a playlist for your listening pleasure. It’s basically a full time job that I didn’t get paid one penny for, but it’s ok because I like you. The least you could do is like it or maybe even share it. If the bars weren’t closed, I’d say you could buy me a drink. Thanks for reading, love you all, and stay the fuck home. ~helle xoxo

Liz

March 10, 2020

I’ve waited 48 years. Now I have to wait another 4 years. Blows my mind that this country is still so misogynistic, that y’all afraid of a female president. On the eve of International Women’s Day, our Secretary of State used his twitter account to mock the pinky promises Elizabeth Warren used to encourage young girls to run for office. I actually remember when our leaders at least pretended to put on the air of having a modicum of virtue.

Female candidates have to perfect. She can’t show emotion, but she needs to smile. She can’t be a cop, but she can’t be progressive. If she’s moderate, she’s not aggressive enough. She’s not electable because some orange buffoon might stalk her on a stage. And she’s probably sent emails.

But males running for president have to be (checks notes) breathing. The average life expectancy for a white male in the US is 76.2. Both of the male dem candidates have passed that milestone. One of them had a heart attack in October. But the collective has decided these are our best bets to beat trump?

Elizabeth Warren had a plan for everything that you’re concerned about. But instead, the majority of dem voters were split between 2 old white guys. Yes, Joe has name recognition. Bernie has some great ideas. But neither has laid out any concrete plans to move us in a forward direction. And let us not forget that Liz is the reason that gazillioniare Bloomberg couldn’t buy his way into the election because she eviscerated him in the debate.

Apparently, Americans (and I use the term “Americans” loosely because many Republicans have decided they can’t abide by the socially accepted rules that only democrats vote in the democratic primary, because they can only win elections through voter suppression, gerrymandering, and voting in dem primaries because they are scared little bitches) decided that two really old guys, one who just had a heart attack, have a better chance of beating a guy who brags about grabbing pussy & paid $130K to keep a porn star quiet, who separates families at the border and puts kids in cages, had a better chance than the woman who has spent a lifetime making sure that consumers were treated fairly and wanted to make sure that the super wealthy finally paid their fair share to support this country.

The people who vote for this shit deserve what they get. I didn’t vote for this. I’m not Bloomberg rich, so I can’t move. When I look at my fellow rural, low income, social security, welfare dependent neighbors, I don’t understand why they vote for this.

Nevertheless, I persist.

Creating Sanity

February 25, 2020

The news cycle of the last few weeks has me feeling like I’m losing my mind. So, I decided to take a break from the news for a week. Thing is, it’s really hard to break a routine and my routine was having a news channel on in the background all day.

Yesterday, I binged The Stranger on Netflix and finished up the last two episodes early today (by the way, highly recommend). Then I took a bath. And then, I flipped through all the channels to find something else to watch. Did you know there’s actually a show about people who voluntarily go to jail for 60 days?! I thought Naked & Afraid was horrific, but jail seems much, much worse (note to self: don’t go to jail).

Anyhoo, the jail show wasn’t cutting it for me. So, I decided to paint. I haven’t painted in forever. My daughter is quite a talented artist and she once told me the reason she started painting was because of an old painting I did that still hangs in our house. It’s really not a great painting, but when I look at it, it reminds me of a time when I used to be creative. It also reminds me of a time when being creative made me feel alive.

So, I decided to give it a wing again. I painted something last week, but I wasn’t terribly happy with it. Today, I gave it another go round, and while it’s not museum worthy, I don’t mind sharing it. Perhaps, it will inspire you to create something or share something you’ve created.

We certainly need to continue paying attention to what’s happening in our country. But we also need to be mindful of self care. However cliché it sounds, it’s like the instructions you hear at the beginning of a flight: put your oxygen mask on before trying to help others.

Creating is my oxygen mask. Now, put yours on, too. We have a long road ahead.

Menage a Trois: More Creepy Valentines

February 10, 2020

So, I’ve been bombarding you with heavy stuff and cussing a lot (LOL JK I’m not going to stop cussing), so I thought I’d get back to my roots and write some funny stuff. Some of my favorite blogs are the Creepy Valentines (click here for Part 1 and Part 2) and since it’s February (although sometimes it still feels like January), I grabbed a cocktail or 5 and hit the google to see what I could find.

I have to say I’m torn between being disturbed and laughing my ass off. As I mentioned before, it seems like vintage Valentine’s cards all have 3 central themes: guns, violence, and phallic symbols, which all seems quite odd for a holiday devoted to love. But then I remembered that St. Valentine got his head chopped off and then it all made perfect sense! So in honor of the decapitated St. Valentine, let’s look at some creepy Valentine’s Day cards of yesteryear.

Hey Twitter followers! I found the perfect card for the object of your affection. I think that’s all I need to say about that.
I think he got too close to her butt and now he has a black eye. Obviously, she’s a Facebook girl.
If your lady isn’t stabbing you, is it even real? The guy who gets this card has 99 problems and the bitch is all the problems. Red is the color of love, after all.
See our obsession with guns isn’t a new thing. For hundreds of years, women have had to worry about deranged men shooting them for unrequited love. The recipient of this card needs a protection order, stun gun, and Rottweiler.
Swipe left.
Swipe right. Because you love a girl who’s a little crazy.
Now here is some kink. We’ve got some bestiality, some sort of simulated oral sex with a banana, possibly some child porn. I don’t know who this is trying to turn on, but as Susan Collins would say, it’s very concerning.
Hey, kids! I think this right here is the birth of shade. I mean sure, there’s still that element of bestiality (never thought I’d type that twice in the same blog), but that burn is deep.
Ladies, if his hose is burning, don’t touch that shit, unless you have an excellent employer sponsored health care program. But even then, do you have sick leave for all the doctor appointments that burning hose is going to inflict? Plus, are you sure those droplets don’t have the Corona Virus?
My sources tell me this is the official White House VD card for this year. Personally, I wouldn’t let that dick get anywhere near my nether regions, because I’m worth more than $130K. Be Best!
Happy VD, Rush.

I hope you have the best February 14th ever & I hope you get some good stuff for VD, and not the VD.

xoxo~Helle

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