WHAT CENTURY IS THIS? (PART 3.04)

I MAY HAVE UNDERGONE 7 BRAIN SURGERIES AND STILL COGNITIVELY ALRIGHT FOR THE MOST PART, BUT I CANNOT COMPREHEND THE WORLD WE ARE LIVING IN RIGHT NOW

As I stated in the prior Sections of this series, when I originally thought of this Post, I had a very basic outline in this lil ol’ brain of mine. Yet, as I began putting “paper to pen” shall we say, I never realized how many of my ideas tied-in together in such detail. So, what was intended to be a single Post became two and then three. Part Three then became a series all touching on different aspects of the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Also as I previously stated, to gain a full perspective of my viewpoint I recommend reading Parts 3.01 – 3.03 in this series. You can begin here: https://braincancerbabe.blog/2020/06/15/what-century-is-this-part-3-01/


So, here we are! Part 3.04, finally!

I’m not going to delve as deep in this Section because it doesn’t require too much analysis. What is transpiring is just ALL wrong. Here, I wanted to round out this discussion starting with the looting and rioting that is not a part of this Movement. Although I’m sure if you’re a Fox News enthusiast, it’s all you’ve seen. (I am who I am, and Fox News is blocked on my television. Sorry. Not Sorry). I believe it’s crucial to point out the Black Lives Matter Movement’s key principles though because they are completely antithetic to this vandalism.

You also cannot address the looting without getting political, and that’s unfortunate because this Blog was never ever intended to be political. Yet, I never thought I’d be seeing what I see in the year 2020 either.

Finally, I have to address the right-wingers, who have taken it upon themselves to “rise up” purposely to intimidate, threaten and assault marchers. Again, this Movement is about equality for all marginalized people and not just a black liberation movement. Understandably, the focus is on people of color. However, this is our generation’s civil rights movement. In 2020, we should not need one, but racism remains alive and well here in ‘Merica. Yet, while young black children are groped and pepper-sprayed, needing milk poured on top of them to get the sting out (see photos in my Part 3.03 Post) while rallying against police brutality and unwarranted deaths, white people storm State Capital Buildings demanding freedom to get haircuts, Yes, haircuts, with little to no repercussions.


Looting and Rioting

Rioters setting fires in the streets – A scene far too often seen across the country these days

An estimated 450 businesses across New York City were vandalized and in some cases looted in late May and early June, according to the City’s Department of Small Business.

The Department is still evaluating the damage and doesn’t yet have an estimate for the total cost. Demonstrations sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have been largely peaceful, but looting followed early protests in several cities, including New York.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL; June 12, 2020 https://www.wsj.com/

My prior post in this series discussed police brutality in depth, yet even law enforcement believe that the vandalism, looting and destruction of property were caused by people “taking advantage of a situation to steal”. (See above citation for full quote).


Organizers from the Black Lives Movement condemn these actions. They are understandably angered by the destruction. These destructive actions go against the message of the Movement, as well as detract from its true message of justice, equality and peace.

In fact, the Movement’s website has various toolkits and resources on how to avoid and/or deescalate violence. They focus on “healing justice” and condemn destruction or harm.

About “Healing Justice”
The Movement’s Guiding Principles

To Learn More, go to: https://blacklivesmatter.com/resources/


Therefore, what you see below is NOT what the Black Lives Movement encourages, teaches, or supports.


Apparently, Monday June 1st was the worst day/night for looting in New York City with at least 2,330 stores burglarized.

This coincided with a curfew ordered by the NYC Mayor. The last time New York City was under curfew was in February 1945. Fiorello H. La Guardia was mayor and Franklin D. Roosevelt was president!

I certainly never heard of a curfew in New York City! We’re the City that never sleeps. Well now I know why-because the last one was 75 years ago!

I grew up in the suburbs of the City. NYC in the 80’s and early 90’s wasn’t exactly very safe. I remember distinctly being told as a kid to “never look anyone in the face” while walking around the City. I remember those grimy subway cars covered in spray paint. I was dragged around to every single damn tourist attraction when the Irish came over to the States.

Totally Unrelated Aside: 100% Truth. If you are from Ireland you will understand. Especially in the 80’s, but it still happens these days, if an Irish person knew you lived in the States, and they had ANY connection to you (like 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon connection) you’d no doubt one day get a knock on the door. It could be relatives or total strangers. They would simply be standing on your doorstep expecting you to “put them up”. You never knew how long they’d stay, I mean you never even knew they were coming! Nevertheless you’d welcome them in! Offer them a “cuppa tea” or a beer, and set up some makeshift bed. Since you lived close to New York, well you’d have to take them ‘round as well. So, I’ve gone to the Statue of Liberty, for example, umpteen times! Almost every time I was dragged along to show some Irish relative or total stranger, the Big Apple. Yet, my mother put the fear of God in me convinced that if I looked at a stranger in the eyes, we’d be robbed, stabbed, or I’d be kidnapped. Oh, the 80’s… such innocent times.

These are heavy topics so a little lighthearted storytelling is not a bad thing.


Okay, back to burning and pillaging…


According to NYPD officials, on June 1st the vast majority of the looting took place in downtown SoHo. Police were not stationed in the area and were essentially taken by surprise at the concentrated effort to break into the high-end stores in that neighborhood. For example, a 20-year-old female was arrested carrying $9,000 in handbags from Dior. Another man, 21 years old, was caught with stolen “red strappy women’s Gucci shoes,” yellow Dolce and Gabbana sneakers, GStar sneakers, Beats headphones, multiple single D&G sneakers and two wrenches. The majority of those arrested were in their 20s and some were not even from New York, but came from Virginia and the Carolinas – just to steal and cause chaos!

None of this acceptable. In a City already so badly hurting from this pandemic where people are seriously struggling to stay afloat, small businesses were also vandalized. It’s not right to steal anything, but Chanel will survive. The bodega owner who had all the money in his register taken and his windows smashed – he’s only going to hurt more.

Thankfully, in New York at least, these actions have fizzled out.

Now, I do not condone any of this, but at the same time I’ll admit:

If I were a person of color my rage over what has transpired during peaceful protests would have me wanting to smash some windows. TRUST – I’d definitely be throwing some dishes in my apartment at the very least!


This is Where I Get Political, So Feel Free to Disregard My Points Because Again, This Blog Is Not Meant to be Political, but Please, Please, Please Understand Why Politics Cannot Be Ignored

This is the U. S. President’s actual statement

First, I’d like to begin with a general statement and/or personal belief.

Twitter should not be used by the President of one of the most developed nations in the world to address his/her stance on issues. Dear, God, please let there be a female U.S. President before I die!

If you cannot utter more than 280 characters in a coherent, logical manner in a formal address to the press and people of this country, then maybe you should not be President. If more than half of those 280 characters include 30 “Uh” and “Um” with you consistently repeating yourself (i.e. “We’re doing a great job, a great job, just the best job that’s ever been done ever in the history of the world”), you DEFINITELY should not be President.

NOW, onto this Twitter statement by the actual President of the United States. We all know this is not the first time Trump used “inflammatory language” tending towards inciting violence, though I don’t think he’d know what that phrase means anyway…

I imagine the scenario going something like this:

  • Trumps reads “inflammatory language”. He turns to some crony in the White House.
  • Trump: “What? I mean, language means words, right?”
  • Crony: “Yes, Mr. President.”
  • Trump: “And inflammatory, that’s like fire, right?
  • Crony: “Yes, Mr. President.”
  • Trump: “Can words go on fire?”
  • Crony: “No, Mr. President.
  • Trump: “FAKE NEWS! WHO SAID THIS, OBAMA? WELL, WE WILL TELL EVERYONE IT WAS OBAMA. NOW, GET ME STORMY ON THE PHONE.”
  • Crony: “Yes, Mr. President.”

Crony then tries to put his head into a hot oven, but it won’t fit.


OKAY, NOW SERIOUSLY, onto this Twitter statement: The phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” was originally used in 1967 by Miami Police Chief Walter Headley during hearings about crime in that city, invoking angry reactions from civil rights leaders.

Headley “had a long history of bigotry against the black community,” said professor Clarence Lusane of Howard University. “The NAACP and other black organizations had for years complained about the treatment of the black community by Miami police. At this hearing, in discussing how he would deal with what he called crime and thugs and threats by young black people, he issued this statement that the reason Miami had not had any riots up to that point, was because of the message he had sent out that ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts,‘ ” Lusane said… During the hearings, Headley further stated, “We don’t mind being accused of police brutality.

Headley’s use of the phrase is thought to have contributed to intensified race riots, including one of the most serious ones in Miami in 1980, when a black man, Arthur McDuffie, was beaten into a coma by up to a dozen white Dade County police officers after he ran a red light on his motorcycle. He later died from his injuries.

Segregationist presidential candidate George Wallace also used the phrase during the 1968 campaign.

https://www.npr.org/2020/05/29/864818368/the-history-behind-when-the-looting-starts-the-shooting-starts (emphasis added)

Though Trump claimed he did not know the origins of the phrase, he admitted he had heard it used before – yeah by racists!


If I went into detail about every ridiculous Tweet sent out by this megalomaniac, I’d never stop writing. However, the point is very simple:

WHEN YOU HAVE A PRESIDENT THAT DOES NOT CONDEMN, BUT INSTEAD APPROVES OF, UTILIZES (REMEMBER THAT WHOLE BIBLE PHOTO-OP) AND RALLIES BEHIND VIOLENCE USED AGAINST PROTESTORS OR ANYONE FOR THAT MATTER, YOU CREATE A SOCIETY WHERE VIOLENCE IS PERCEIVED TO BE ACCEPTABLE.

THIS LEADS TO MY FINAL POINT.


The Right-Wing Has Come Out In Full Force to Purposely Intimidate, Threaten and Assault Peaceful Black Lives Matter Protestors, Yet They Staged Protests Across the Country Over Their “Right” to a Haircut With Essentially No Police Repercussion

Let’s start with this beauty…

Kathy Bennett – Remember Her Name Too!

Kathy Bennett, sporting a camo Trump “Make America Great Again” cap, waved a Confederate flag at a Black Lives Matter protest in Branson, Missouri, while she praised the KKK and vowed to teach hate to her grandchildren. As she graciously stated, “I’m teaching them to fuckin’ hate all of you people”. No surprise, she spoke from the bed of a pick-up truck, waved the flag, raised her fist and said, “KKK belief!

Beyond being simply atrocious is “KKK belief” even proper English, or a real thing? Obviously, the KKK exists, they have “beliefs” but I’m not sure this moron has any idea what she’s talking about.


Who looks like the “thug” here?

These are mostly fully-armed men attending, or preparing for Black Lives Matter Movement rallies across the country. Why do they need guns? Why are some in balaclavas? Why do they look like they’re going to war, in full camo fatigues? Uh, you’re not “blending in”. We can see you.

If ya want to go to war, join the armed forces, guys!

Do you see any police surrounding them? Shooting them with “beanbag rounds”? Spraying them in the face with pepper spray? The answer is flat-out: No.


Do you know about “Operation Haircut”? Yes, Operation, as in the military sense of the word, and Haircut! While hundreds of people were dying daily in the NYC Metro Area from the Corona virus, these idiots staged massive protests so they could get haircuts…

Oh, and I guess they were also protesting their “Constitutional right” to play golf. I studied quite a lot of constitutional law, both in undergrad and law school. I don’t recall a single case where it was an absolute right to golf or get a haircut. Yet, what does the Constitution mean these days anyway?

Now, you see police officers in these photos. Are they armed, in riot gear, aiming guns at anyone? The answer is flat-out: No.

These protests were not just held in city streets. They actually swarmed State Capital buildings, like in Michigan, ARMED NONETHELESS! (pictured below)

Let’s be honest… the guy on the left looks like he hasn’t had a haircut or even a shower in quite a while. Not to mention, he’s practically bald. By the way, his name is Brian Cash, and he described his experience at the protest as “awesome”. Naturally.  

The guy on the right looks insane, but he isn’t exactly bordering on the Chewbacca look.

Chewbacca

Just watch this video to see how intensely these people felt about haircuts, golf, and apparently vaccines (one protestor’s sign visible in the video): https://twitter.com/AdamParkhomenko/status/1256941104383045632?s=20

Do you all really need a haircut that badly?


So, it’s very clear that protesting “while white” is very, very different to protesting “while black.If you cannot see the difference then you may need to have your eyes, and probably head, examined.

Yet, an old, sort-of white/orange man sits in the White House tweeting away hate speech towards Black Lives Matter protestors, while armed white men scream and push police all in the name of the new “haircut rights movement”.

Tell me: Who looks more peaceful? Who would you feel safer standing with?

The group fighting for equal rights, for people of color to be seen as human beings, for equal justice?

Or

The guys looking like they’re about to shoot up a State Capital Building, screaming in the face of police, armed – locked and loaded?


Very Temporary Pause

Very Temporary Pause

I’ve been working on my next Post, but I’ve got to hit a very temporary “pause button”.

I’ve been suffering with migraines and major emotional issues. I’ll be back in a few days with my next Post.

Even after being cancer-free for 5 years now, the wicked side effects of so much treatment continue haunting my poor body.

WHAT CENTURY IS THIS? (PART 3.02)

I MAY HAVE UNDERGONE 7 BRAIN SURGERIES AND STILL COGNITIVELY ALRIGHT FOR THE MOST PART, BUT I CANNOT COMPREHEND THE WORLD WE ARE LIVING IN RIGHT NOW


When I originally thought of this Post, I had a very basic outline in this lil ol’ brain of mine. Yet, as I began putting “paper to pen” shall we say, I never realized how many of my ideas tied-in together in such detail. So, what was intended to be a single Post became two and now three.

Part Three is so now even divided into subsections. As you see This is Part 3.02. So if you haven’t read Part 3.01, I’d suggest checking it out so you understand my overall premise. You can read it here: https://braincancerbabe.blog/2020/06/15/what-century-is-this-part-3-01/

If you have time and appreciate my writing, please read all the Posts under this series.


In Part 3.01, I discussed several issues:

  • as a white girl, I cannot speak for the Movement, but simple research shows that the “Black Lives Matter” Movement is obviously a “Black liberation movement” but it seeks justice and equality for all marginalized within our society. See the website for detailed information https://blacklivesmatter.com/about/
  • white privilege, with a focus on our judicial system
  • sexism, racism and inequality
  • why the Movement is so important and “Remember their Names”

Throughout this series of Posts, I’ve touched on the issue of police brutality and the “police state” I believe we’re now living under. So this Post will focus on: the militarization of our police forces in the States; more on the demonstrations; my experience with police; and recent actions by some officials to actually help de-militarize the police.

As this is a major issue today, and frankly a trend I’ve personally noticed over the years, I wanted a full subsection dedicated to the police. So, Part 3.04 will focus on the riots and looting , which are not a part of these demonstrations, yet people are pointing to this vandalism and blaming the Movement; and, how the right-wing has taken it upon themselves to carry firearms and purposely intimidate demonstrators, acting as their own civilian police force.


Our New “Police State”

This is what American city streets look like right now:

  • Photo Number 1 Swarms of police in riot gear in Minneapolis, surrounded by illuminated “beanbag rounds”, a method now used to disperse crowds, which consist of small, fabric beanbags filled with lead weights fired from 12-guage shotguns.
  • Photos Number 2 & 3 depict officers carrying “beanbag” shotguns. Obviously, Photo 3 is very disturbing as the people depicted have their hands up, yet the officers have “beanbag” shotguns aimed directly at them.
  • Photo Number 4 depicts the injuries just one demonstrator suffered from these “beanbag rounds”
  • Photo Number 5 may actually be the most disturbing to me, personally.
    • Martin Gugino, a 75-year-old “Black Lives Matter” demonstrator, was forcibly shoved by 2 Buffalo, NY officers on June 4, 2020. As he lay on the ground, bleeding officers simply continued stomping past him. Currently, he is recovering from a fractured skull and is unable to walk. He remains hospitalized. The entire video of the encounter can be viewed here. However, it is very disturbing (if you have a heart, anyway). https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/16/us/martin-gugino-protester-skull/index.html
  • Despite being designed to cause “minimum long-term trauma and no penetration”, a direct hit from a “beanbag” or rubber bullet gun can cause:
    • muscle spasms
    • a round to the chest may break the ribs and send the broken ribs into the heart
    • a shot to the head can break the nose, crush the larynx, or break the neck or skull
    • a shot in the abdominal area can cause internal bleeding
    • a shot in the eye can cause the eyeball to rupture
    • there is one known case in which a direct hit also resulted in death

On May 31, 2020, 20-year-old Justin Howell, a Texas State University college student, was shot in the head with a “beanbag” round by the Austin, TX police while he was filming a protest. Someone next to him threw something towards officers. While intending to hit that individual, police shot Justin “by mistake”. He suffered a skull fracture leading to a seizure and brain trauma. As if that were not horrific enough, there are videos showing the police firing at volunteer paramedics and protesters carrying Howell’s limp body to get him medical attention!

Initially, his injuries put him into a coma, and as of several weeks ago, he remained in critical condition. Doctors told his family the skull fracture resulted in brain damage.

Literally the day after Justin Howell’s shooting, on June 1, 2020, a 16-year-old, Brad Levi Ayala, also suffered a skull fracture after being shot in the head with a “beanbag” round by the Austin Police! He was simply standing alone on a hill after work in a deli.

He had to undergo a seven-hour surgery, which included a skin graft (something I know about all too well), but thankfully did not suffer permanent brain damage.


AUSTIN, TEXAS POLICE ARMED DURING PROTESTS, AS PEOPLE YELL, “DON’T SHOOT”

The stories of Martin Gugino, Justin Howell and Brad Levi Ayala are the stories nightmares are made of! They were totally innocent of any wrongdoing. Yet, they suffered devastating injuries by police “high on their own power”.

I know what it’s like to try and recover from a brain injury! I will never be the person I was before. I cannot do so many of the things I loved to do. No matter how hard I work to stay strong, my brain just does not communicate with the rest of my body like it did before brain cancer.

I fear Martin, Justin, Brad and likely many others will experience these same issues, all because they wanted to be involved in a movement for civil rights. It truly breaks my heart.


Police Brutality against protestors had gotten so bad, Seattle created a police-free district, known as “Chaz”, where people are gathering to demonstrate, listen to speakers and attend events without fear. In reaction to this, Trump referred to the protestors as “domestic terrorists” and threatened to “invade” the City. Seattle’s Mayor spoke out that such rhetoric was an attempt to divide and incite violence, that it would not only be unwelcome but also illegal.

The streets of Seattle BEFORE the “Autonomous Zone” was created

Yet, on June 7th a white man drove his car into a crowd of protesters in the area, then shot and wounded a black demonstrator who confronted him as he came to a stop. Then, in the early morning hours of June 20th, a 19-year-old man was killed and another person was in critical condition after a pre-dawn shooting in the area. No information on the shooter was available at the time I sit here writing this Post, hanging my head in shame.

Why can’t people in this country simply accept peace?

Welcome to “Chaz” – Seattle’s police-free “Autonomous Zone”

My Personal Experience In Our Not-So-New “Police State”

I briefly mentioned in Part 3.01 that I never liked “authority figures”. I have respect for city police, who do truly risk their lives and put themselves in danger to protect society as a whole. It’s like firefighters, who actually run into burning buildings to save lives, going against our human instinct to run away from those situations.

In the burbs, where I grew up though-honestly, the police were mostly jerks on a power trip just busting kids for underage drinking… not exactly life or death scenarios.

I was pre-law in undergrad. I took political science classes with guys who were planning on careers in law enforcement, and they weren’t doing so believing it was their “civic duty”. They were weasely guys (no surprise) on a power trip believing they’d become State Troopers. I’ve also heard the racist comments from Sheriff’s Officers in courthouses while interning for judges, and then as a practicing attorney. As if that weren’t vile enough, I know one fellow graduate from law school, who clerked for a criminal judge after graduating and relayed some of the racist rhetoric that judge would spew back in chambers, behind closed doors. I’m blatantly honest in this blog. Soooo… I’ll admit that I’ve never totally loved the police or any authority figure, for that matter, who believe they’re untouchable.


Thankfully, I have not had many interactions with police officers, but hey, I’ve gotten 2 tickets when I did drive. Both times the officers acted like Commando, pulling me over for the dumbest violations, though everyone probably says that, right? However, two personal incidents with the police still gnaw at me to this day.

Let me be clear: These are extremely minor in comparison to what is going on today. However, I think they demonstrate the mentality of many in law enforcement. Hence, the problems that arise when people with way too much power believe they can do anything they want without reprecussion.

This is NOT wartime. This is a photo of police at a demonstration in Los Angeles

One incident occurred when I had just started working at my first firm. These were the days when if you had a GPS system, you’d have to mount it onto your windshield or dashboard. No Google Maps or Waze yet. My car was parked on the street and I had come back very late from work. So, I forgot to take the GPS out of its mount and bring it inside. In the morning, I had a court appearance or conference on a case. Already nervous being new to the firm and having to argue a case, I went out to my car only to find my driver’s side window totally smashed, shattered glass all over the seat and my GPS stolen. What’s the normal reaction when that occurs? You call the police, right?

Now, I was living in an area just outside of Manhattan in New Jersey. So, it was not the burbs. It was an urban area, yet not a dangerous one. It was also about 7:00 or 8:00 am – not a bustling time for crime. The police refused to come and told me if I needed a report (which I did for insurance purposes) I’d have to drive to the station. Thankfully, a group of kind construction workers saw my car and me ugly-crying because I didn’t have a clue how I’d drive a car covered in shattered glass. They cleaned off the seat as best they could and one even gave me his gloves to wear! Kindness, it goes a long way. Such a novel idea!

Once I got to the police station, I was berated by the desk officer blaming me for leaving the GPS visible. He actually said, “What did you think would happen leaving the GPS out?” Hmmm, I wonder how he would feel if someone smashed his window and stole his property? He even tried pushing me to NOT to file a report (i.e. he didn’t want to bother his @ss writing the report).

As an aside: A couple I knew in law school lived in this town. Most of us did, or in the surrounding areas. Their apartment was broken into while they slept! They got the same treatment. A broken window and a stolen GPS is one thing. Having your home violated AND your property stolen is a whole ‘nother thing. Yet, the police could have cared less!


The next incident occurred in the same town. As I’m writing this, I wonder why I didn’t just move away, but hindsight is 20/20. Anyway, I saw a girl outside a store with what was clearly a “bait dog” used for dog fighting. I’m a severe animal lover and my dog is a rescue. This poor thing was emaciated and covered in both old and fresh wounds. Yet, it was only about 5-6 months old. I didn’t handle myself, admittedly, in the most gracious manner. I approached her and asked her where she had gotten the dog from (maybe she had rescued it, for all I knew). She just ignored me and turned away. So, in my mind that convinced me – this was no rescue dog! The scene escalated, as her mother came out of the store screaming and cursing at me. She hurled insults at me. I’ll say, I was not so pleasant in return. I called the police, hoping they’d see this dog obviously in distress, and take it. Nope!

Now, it turned out the girl was apparently deaf. I do not feel proud of myself or defend myself for yelling at a deaf teenager/young adult. However, she did not sign or indicate she was deaf. So, I frankly had no idea. The mother-I have no regrets for my actions. Now to the point: a Suburban SUV and a squad car pull up. Slow day, I guess?

At least 5, maybe 6 police officers get out. Who do they surround? Me. The “Head Honcho” steps up about 2-3 feet from me, armed crossed, legs sprayed out in his “tough guy” stance with his minions behind while the mother continues screaming and cursing at me. At least he quieted her down. He begins to interrogate me why I would yell at a deaf person (Oh yeah, the mother had called the police on me too). My reply, “Well obviously I didn’t know she was deaf!” So, in his tough guy voice, he begins to berate me that I “attacked a deaf person”. I’m disabled myself! I would NEVER intentionally do that. As I’m attempting to explain why I was questioning the girl I stated to the officer, “That is clearly a bait dog” the mother began her rant again. She even admitted, the police had just taken the dog away from her because it was “in a fight” so she just got it back!!! Despite the fact she was basically admitting to what I accused her of, did “tough guy” listen to her admission? Nope!

He continued standing there basically in my face, I suppose trying to intimidate me. Well, I may be tiny, but I don’t intimidate very easily. His minions kept looking down at the dog and I could see in some of their faces, they knew I was right. Finally, “tough guy” turns his attention to the dog, it wags its tail at him and he literally says, “It looks happy enough. I don’t see any basis to take the dog from its owner.” I literally threw up my hands, because I could actually do that then, and said, “Well, you’re the authority. It’s your decision. That’s a bait dog and it’s on YOU for not taking it.”

I walked away just shaking my head in disgust. Part of that was because a swarm of police officers, driving expensive, shiny new vehicles came to the scene of a minor, ridiculous incident, and THEN acted as if they had just seized a major amount of drugs from a wanted dealer or something. The show of force was utterly needless, and only meant to intimidate the “suspect” i.e. Me.


Commuting in and out of NYC, I always noticed what I felt was an excessive show of force in Port Authority, Penn Station, Grand Central, and just along the streets of Manhattan. Do we REALLY need National Guard and cops with giant machine guns every few hundred feet? If they don’t intimidate me, are they really going to intimidate someone who wants to do major harm?

It’s the same thing at airports. TSA – ya ain’t stoppin’ a terrorist by making everyone take off their shoes, so lose the attitude!


The town where I was raised when we came here from Ireland is an upperclass suburb of NYC. You can even see the skyline from the highway, as the elevation is high enough and it’s only a 30-40 minute drive into Manhattan. Yet, literally nothing happens in our town except maybe kids drinking in the woods and smoking some weed. However, the cops drive around in massive SUVs. They even got some kind of giant armored car years ago. It sits at the volunteer fire station, where we joke that all the “townies” who never left just sit around and drink beers.

I mean, do you REALLY need that many police driving around in Suburbans and brand new Explorers, doing nothing except maybe pulling someone over for going 35 mph down Main Street, which is 25 mph? I’m just glad my tax dollars aren’t paying for that nonsense. Yet, my parents’ tax dollars sure are, as they still live there.


In writing this Post, I became curious about the police budget in my small, extremely safe, upperclass hometown. The 2020 budget for the entire town is around $25 million. The budget for the police-$5.45 million! Wha what?

The police are allocated about 1/5th of the entire town’s budget, who mostly just sit in their cars and stroll into Dunkin Donuts on the regular! I’m not joking. Two friends back in high school worked there and HAD to give every cop who came in everything for free-it was a LOT of free coffee and donuts! More importantly, the budget is likely so high because their AVERAGE ANNUAL SALARY is $122,000! At the very least, the minimum requirement to join the police in my hometown is a 4-year college degree, or active military service for 2 years plus a 2-year degree. So, at least they have some education under their belts.

Yet, there are a whole lot of attorneys out there who don’t earn that even after 10 years of practice. Yet, we had to complete 4 years of college, take the LSAT to enter an accredited law school, then complete 3 years of school to acquire our J.D. degree and THEN pass the bar exam just to practice law. You know what I earned when I left law school? $35,000 because I clerked for a judge and salaries are capped!

There Are Very Honorable, Good Police Out There

Listen, I’m definitely focusing on the negative here. There are many honorable men and women, who “wear blue”. There are many, who have even kneeled in support with the protestors.

However, thousands of people are risking their own safety to ironically protest the actions of the VERY people whose duty it is protect us! It’s not “just a few bad apples.” It’s orchards and orchards of bad apples, and no apple carries a gun and shoots oranges dead because they have a different skin type! Let’s just call it what it is …

There is a systematic problem within our police force today.

It’s not a new phenomenon.

So, is police brutality just getting more attention now? Do we know about more because anyone can pull out their phone, and video anything these days? Or, have marginalized people just had enough and simply will not tolerate this anymore?

Let me address just a few prior examples to demonstrate that police have been brutalizing people and/or using their power in sick, sick ways.

Daniel Holtzclaw-Oklahoma City Police Officer convicted and sentenced sentenced to 263 years in prison for preying on black women he encountered while patrolling poor neighborhoods of the City in 2013 and 2014

Daniel Holtzclaw, the lowest of the low, was an Oklahoma City officer who purposely preyed on black women in the City. He used his position as an officer to run background checks and find information that could be used to coerce victims into sex while on patrol in 2013 and 2014. He specifically targeted black women in poor areas knowing they had outstanding warrants and/or past criminal charges. Holtzclaw was found guilty in 2015 of 18 charges, including rape, forcing women to perform oral sex on him, and sexual battery involving eight women, although there were more women he did this to. He was sentenced to 263 years in prison. Yet, there’s an entire Facebook page dedicated to having him released!


Remember the “cannibal cop”? I don’t know if it reached national news but an NYPD officer, Gilberto Valle III (I appreciate that he used Roman numerals in his name, like some kind of royal prince) was arrested after his wife discovered he was spending time in Internet chat rooms describing detailed plans to abduct, torture, rape and cannibalize women. Valle claimed it was all “mere fantasy”!

The problem with his case – he never actually “committed the crimes”. He was arrested on conspiracy to kidnap and for accessing the federal National Crime Information Center database without authorization. He was convicted by a jury in March 2013. However, the judge overturned the conspiracy to kidnap charge. I’m unclear why the charge was permitted to be considered by the jury, if the judge just went and overturned it. However, there’s enough to discuss without me going “down that wormhole” of research. He served 21 months in jail, and was fired by the NYPD.

Yet, he went on to work as a “security manager” for a friend’s construction company. Oh, and then he published a book, “A Gathering of Evil”, which detailed “his fascination with killing and eating women through the lens of a group of sadists who kidnap two young New Yorkers.” https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ex-nypd-cannibal-releases-extremely-violent-horror-article-1.3745322

I hope I am NEVER ANYWHERE NEAR any construction site where that company works!


NONE OF WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW IS REMOTELY ACCEPTABLE


Can We Fix Something So Utterly Broken?

In a country where there are literally more guns than people (Firearms per 100,000 residents: 1.) UnitedStates 120,413 2.) Yemen 53,144 3.) Canada 35,650 4.) Pakistan 21,422 5.) Germany 19,604);

In a country where people of color are STILL fighting to be seen simply as human beings and not obstacles for police target practice;

In a country where we claim to support “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and laud overselves as “The Land of the Free” yet, in reality that’s just for the 1%ers;

In a country where police time and time again kill innocent people and we say, “Oh, they were just doing their job.”;

In a country where the police are no longer police – they are truly their own mini-military forces;

In a country where children are being pepper-sprayed and need milk poured over their faces to relieve the pain;

In a country where an elderly man with a cane is shoved to the ground by police and a woman out buying groceries ends up looking like this;

In a country where police swarm in and members of the media even have to lay down on the ground for fear of being assaulted: https://twitter.com/jonnykip21/status/1267630906442948608?s=20

In a country where protestors sit peacefully, yet are assaulted and tear gased by police (Yes, they were in the road but there was mass confusion whether police blocked off the road): https://twitter.com/jonnykip21/status/1266797622662176770?s=20

In a country where the National Guard and police roll down residential streets shooting paint canisters at people on their own porches: https://twitter.com/tkerssen/status/1266921821653385225?s=20

Can we truly end, or by God, at least reduce police brutality?

Police Reform Bills

After all the pain and suffering, the deaths, the beatings, and the protests, some states and city councils are indeed passing police reform bills.

NY Governor Cuomo signing a package of police reform bills

The District of Columbia’s City Council passed a series of reforms, which prohibit the use of chemical agents, riot gear and stun guns against people exercising their 1st Amendment rights.

A protestor in Washington D.C.

Yet, not all attempts at police reform have been successful. While The Minneapolis City Council announced plans to disband its police department and instead, invest in community-based public safety programs, the Minnesota legislature failed to pass a state-wide police reform bill.

So, while reform is being passed in some places, attempts at reform are failing in others. Yet, protests continue and in turn, more stories of police brutality are coming to light.

Derrick Ollie Scott (42), an Oklahoma City man, died at the hands of police during his arrest in 2019. Before the murder of George Floyd, police refused to release bodycam footage of the incident. However, due to protests and the Floyd case, the Oklahoma City Police Dept. finally released the footage. It is disturbing, at best. Now, Scott was running from police and a gun was found in his pocket. However, he did not aim the gun or brandish it towards the police. In fact, watching the video, it appears to me he was running for his life, which ultimately he rightfully should have been given what transpired.

Once he began to run, Scott was tackled and thrown to the ground by a male officer. Immediately, Scott began gasping, stating, “I can’t breathe”. Another officer so kindly replied, “I don’t care”. Scott repeatedly said “I can’t breathe”, “Okay” and “Please” while one officer straddled him and handcuffed him. A female officer dug her knee into his shoulder, and threatened to tase him. Then the officers rolled him onto his side while pushing his head onto the ground. Medical personnel arrived at the scene, put him on a stretcher and fully strapped him down. At this point, Scott was crying out while being told, “Don’t resist. You’re fine.” He died while in custody shortly afterward.

Scott’s family saw the video. His mother stated, “[t]hey treated him…So inhuman. Like he was an animal.”

The three officers involved were absolved of any wrongdoing.


George Floyd did not deserve to die. His life was taken in such a brutal way. However, his name will live on in infamy. We will remember him. We will honor his name, as well as so many other people of color who died at the hands of police, believing they had the RIGHT to take those lives.

My heart breaks

No child should EVER have to hold a sign like this. Please know, whoever you are, lil man – YOU MATTER!

I PRAY YOU GROW UP IN A KINDER, GENTLER WORLD. IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US TO ENSURE THAT HAPPENS.

WHAT CENTURY IS THIS? (PART 3.01)


I MAY HAVE UNDERGONE 7 BRAIN SURGERIES AND STILL COGNITIVELY ALRIGHT FOR THE MOST PART, BUT I CANNOT COMPREHEND THE WORLD WE ARE LIVING IN RIGHT NOW


When I originally thought of this Post, I had a very basic outline in this lil ol’ brain of mine. Yet, as I began putting “paper to pen” shall we say, I never realized how many of my ideas tied-in together in such detail. So, what was intended to be a single Post became two and now three. There will be a Part Four, dedicated to our healthcare heroes and essential workers.

However, this topic deserves its own Post. Hence, here we are – Part 3.01. This is 3.01 because this issue is so critical right now, I’ll have to write a few sub-sections to the Post. OTHERWISE, anyone reading this would have to get through a whole bottle of wine before they finished reading. 😉

Although not necessary if you haven’t read my prior two Posts, it will give you a clearer perspective. Just click here: https://braincancerbabe.blog

Briefly, Part One was a discussion of George Orwell’s incredible, dystopian novel 1984. I mentioned in Part Two, his books, particularly 1984, continue to resonate throughout the generations. I imagine he’s rolling over in his grave seeing the circumstances we’re currently living through. I personally feel like I’m living in a sci-fi novel most days! A worldwide pandemic coupled with a government here in the U.S. that very clearly chose not to properly warn and protect its citizens from a virus they not only knew about, but also knew could spread quickly through close human interaction. Instead of protecting us, members of our own government sold off millions of dollars in stocks, getting rich while people were daily dying by the hundreds just in the New York Metro area alone. Disgraceful doesn’t even describe how low that all is, but karma will get them. I do believe that!

I feel especially disgusted by this given that my own doctors and nurses were working 12-hour shifts in hazmat equipment desperately trying to save the lives of so many, yet so many passed away all alone on ventilators (if they were even lucky enough to get one). So, that is why Part Four will be dedicated to them.

Also in Part Two I detailed how similar these days in America are to the era I was born into in Northern Ireland, known as “The Troubles. Again, that era from the late 60’s all the way until 1998 was a horrific time in Northern Ireland. There was constant violence, a true “police state”, bombings, shootings, etc. Yet, it all began when the Catholic minority in N. Ireland came together to stage marches and demand an end to the systematic discrimination against them. Much like today, that resulted in vicious police brutality, innocent lives being taken, the British army occupying the area until 2007, and essentially what turned into the war zone I was born into in 1980.


THE “BLACK LIVES MATTER” MOVEMENT

I ended Part Two discussing how although I am a tiny, white Irish woman, given my background as well as my family’s background, I can understand the pain, fear, anger and sadness people of color are experiencing, and have experienced for much too long in the U.S.

No matter what age, race, color or creed, I believe we ALL must discuss this Movement.

Though it may be uncomfortable, there must be a dialogue about: discrimination and “white privilege”; police brutality, as well as those in law enforcement who stand with the protesters; and, the extreme violence minorities in the U.S. face.


THE BASIC STARTING POINT: WHAT IS THE MOVEMENT ABOUT?

Obviously, not being a person of color, I will not pretend to speak on behalf of the “Black Lives Matter” Movement.

What I will say is that those who seek to discredit the “Black Lives Matter” Movement do not even realize that it actually is NOT just about the color of one’s skin. The Movement also seeks equality for Black queer and trans individuals, the disabled, undocumented immigrants, and women. Additionally, the Movement seeks equality for people with criminal records. Thus, while it’s obviously a “Black liberation movement” it also seeks justice for those who have been marginalized within our society. Go to: https://blacklivesmatter.com/about/ to learn more.

Again, as a white girl, I cannot speak for the Movement. However, just from the most basic research, this is a call for people to rise up against:

  • Racial injustice
  • Police brutality
  • Economic injustice
  • Environmental injustice
  • Voting rights and suppression

Further, this Movement seeks:

  • Access to healthcare
  • Access to quality education
  • Criminal justice reform
  • Immigration, LGBTQIA+ and human rights

Throughout history, beyond the confines of America, people have sought these basic rights.

Hell, the entire American Revolution was founded upon many similar ideals! Yet, we don’t question flying the American flag, celebrating the 4th of July, and draping yourself head-to-toe in ‘Merica gear. (Okay, I DO question those people wearing an American flag bandana, T-shirt and shorts). Also, just to throw it out there, quoting one of my favorite movies, Dazed and Confused :

“Hey, this summer when you’re being inundated with all this bi-centennial, fourth of July, broo-ha-ha just remember what you’re celebrating, and that’s the fact that a bunch of slave-owning aristocratic white males didn’t want to pay their taxes.”


WHITE PRIVILEGE: IT EXISTS, PEOPLE!

What I can absolutely speak to is “white privilege”. It is indeed very real, and NOT “fake news” or some “liberal fallacy”. I know it. I’ve seen it.

If you don’t believe it exists or that it is prevalent in every aspect of our society, just take a look at the amount of white Congressmen, state governors, and even City mayors. Now that’s just government representatives. If you really want to delve into it: look at the percentages of whites v. people of color in jail; look at the how many white CEOs of Fortunate 500 companies there are compared to how many are people of color; and, the list goes on and on.

Being an attorney, I know all too well how differently an individual is treated based on their race and/or gender in the eyes of the judicial system. I’ve studied the caselaw in-depth. I’ve seen how DNA evidence has exonerated so many black people, predominately men, not just from prison sentences, but from DEATH ROW! How do you give a man or woman back 30 years, 20 years, even 5 years of his/her life spent in jail, caged like an animal, for something he/she never did and was frankly only convicted because of the color of his/her skin? Answer: YOU CAN’T.


Yet, white preppy boys get a slap on the wrist for horrendous crimes.

Remember this gem?

BROCK TURNER, 19 years old when he was arrested for attempted rape of an unconscious woman behind a dumpster near his frat house

Yeah, “Brock” (I mean, even I have to give an eyeroll to the name alone) was indeed convicted in March 2015 of the “intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person“. Prosecutors asked for 6 years. The Judge gave him 6 months. Why?

Well, despite the fact that he tried to rape the victim behind a dumpster and ONLY stopped because 2 bystanders saw him and intervened; despite the victim’s 12-page letter detailing her traumatic ordeal, not just by lil Brock’s actions but also having to undergo multiple hours of a rape exam plus an attack on her character during the trial thereby traumatizing her over and over; and, despite the fact that he was indeed convicted of 3 felonies…his daddy submitted a letter to the Judge asking him to “go easy on his son”. Oh daddy’s letter also stated that a long sentence would be “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 years of life“. He added that Brock was having trouble eating his favorite food — steak! Are you ——- kidding me?

Well, I guess not being able to eat steak really trumps attempted rape by a complete stranger behind a dumpster while unconscious. In his ruling the Judge stated, “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him…. I think he will not be a danger to others.” (emphasis added)

It just so happens that Brock was a white male and star athlete at Stanford, a very prestigious university. Guess where the Judge had gone to school? Yep. Stanford.

Oh and he only served 3 months out of that 6 month sentence. Brock got to go home and eat his steak after only 3 months.


If you haven’t heard about this more recent case, well buckle up!

In New Jersey, judges are not elected like in many states. In this instance this particular judge retired in December 2012, but continued to work three days a week as a “recall” judge, occasionally filling-in due to a backlog of cases. Well, in my humble opinion, he should have stayed retired!

In 2018, this judge presided over the matter of an alleged rape at a pajama-themed party the previous year. Teens were drinking at the party. A group of boys sprayed the 16-year-old victim with Febreze and hit her so hard she found hand marks on her body the next day! Why Febreze? I have no idea… does that get you high, like when kids would sniff Scotchguard when I was a teen? Anyway…

To the point – after the Febreze and being hit by multiple boys, one 16-year-old boy took the girl off to a dark area, then filmed himself assaulting her from behind. He then sent the video around, which showed the girl clearly had “slurred speech and stumbled”. He captioned the video: When your first time having sex was rape.Just typing that makes me ill.

Well, this wonderful judge in determining whether to try the 16-year-old as an adult v. as a juvenile, stated on the record:

“This young man comes from a good family who put him into an excellent school where he was doing extremely well…He is clearly a candidate for not just college but probably for a good college. His scores for college entry were very high.” (emphasis added)

New Jersey Judge James Troiano

The judge expressed doubt about whether the boy showed any “calculation or cruelty on his part, sophistication or a predatory nature”. THEN, he suggested the girl’s allegation did not meet the standard of rape. Why?

“There have been some, not many, but some cases of sexual assault involving juveniles which in my mind absolutely were the traditional case of rape, where there were generally two or more males involved, either at gunpoint or weapon, clearly manhandling a person into . . . an area where . . . there was nobody around, sometimes in an abandon[ed] house, sometimes in an abandon[ed] shed, shack, and just simply taking advantage of the person as well as beating the person, threatening the person.”

New Jersey Judge James Troiano

So, a 16-year-old privileged white kid rapes an incoherent drunk girl, films it, sends the video around to his friends and captions it: “When your first time was rape”. However, he could “possibly” go to a good college, so we’ll just let it slide! AND apparently now rape can only happen by law if there’s 2 or more boys, or if it’s by gunpoint, or in some remote area where the girl is beaten or threatened…

Thus, the judge determined the 16-year-old would NOT be tried as an adult, but the case would remain within the juvenile system.

Sickening. Truly and utterly sickening. After the controversy over his decision, which only came to light because it was overturned by the Appeals Court, the judge stepped-down in 2019, yet kept his pension of $123,750 a year.


Now those are just two examples of how different white males are treated within the judicial system. Imagine if they had been black boys/men who committed these crimes? I can tell you, lil Brock wouldn’t be eating any steak after only serving 3 months if he were a man of color!

Remember the notorious “Central Park Five” case back in the late 1980’s? If you don’t know about it, I highly suggest reading up on it.

In short, a young, white woman was jogging in Central Park on the night of April 19, 1989. She was brutally beaten and raped. After she was found, she remained in a coma for 12 days. While police rounded up multiple people in the Park that night, 3 black and 2 Latino boys (under 18) were indicted on May 10th on charges of assault, robbery, riot, rape, sexual abuse, and attempted murder of the jogger. Even though they were minors, police questioned them without parental or guardian supervision, and without counsel. After hours of interrogation, all 5 defendants “confessed”. They recounted those confessions, pled not guilty, and refused plea deals on the rape and assault charges. None of the boys’ DNA matched the DNA found at the scene (Of note: the semen DNA collected matched that of only 1 person, and none of the 5 boys). Thus, there was no physical evidence that could connect any of the boys to the rape. Yet, each was convicted in 1990 of related assault and other charges.  Four were tried as juvenile defendants and served 6–7 years each in juvenile detention centers.

Notably, the 16-year-old, Korey Wise, was tried and sentenced as an adult and served 13 years in adult prisons on counts of sexual abuse, assault and riot. First, he was placed in Rikers’ Island Prison in 1990 – a 16 year-old in Rikers! Then, he moved to Attica Correctional Facility in 1991, Wende State Penitentiary in 1993 and Auburn State Correctional Facility in 2001. By some divine intervention, while in Auburn Wise met Matias Reyes, the actual rapist. Reyes confessed as he was already serving a life sentence for serial rape, murder and robbery. They found that his DNA matched what police had collected at the scene, and Wise was released in 2002. However, Wise suffered so much violence in prison, he continuously asked to stay in isolation for extended periods and that is why he transferred to so many different facilities – upon his request because of the torment he had to undergo.

All 5 of the convictions were overturned and in 2014, the City of New York paid the men $41 million to settle a civil lawsuit. Although they sought an additional $52 million in damages, they received a settlement of just $3.9 million from the New York State Court of Claims in 2016.


Circling back to our current state of affairs… Donald Trump was always in the limelight in the 80’s and 90’s especially in New York City. Well, Trump was on the news, talkshows and in 1989, Trump placed full-page advertisements in four New York City newspapers, including The New York Times, regarding the case. This is what it stated:

Attorneys for the 5 men believe Trump’s advertisements helped “inflame public opinion about the case.” One of the defense attorneys, Michael W. Warren said, “I think Donald Trump at the very least owes a real apology to this community and to the young men and their families. Protests were held outside Trump Tower in October 2002..  Trump did not apologize. I will leave it there, as I have strong feelings about that fact. Yet, I WILL say, “Has he ever apologized for anything?”


Interestingly, this leads to my next issue/incident involving a white woman and black man in Central Park, which just occurred in May 2020.

Amy Cooper, the dog lady, and Christian Cooper, the birdwatcher – Or as I like to call it: “Cooper vs. Cooper”

Imagine heading out on Memorial Day weekend to Central Park while NYC is still pretty locked down over the pandemic. One white woman goes out to walk her dog. A gay, black man well-known in the Park as an avid birdwatcher, heads out to an area where he loves to watch the birds through a set of Swarovski binoculars (not a cheap item I imagine). Both are highly educated with very good jobs, living in Manhattan. We all know NYC is a pretty liberal place, where you’d expect these 2 people couldn’t possibly have serious beef, right? Nope. Their exchange is the perfect example demonstrating how racism is alive and well, even here in NYC in 2020.

In the particular area of the Park where Mr. Cooper was quietly watching his birds, dogs must be leashed. Ms. Cooper had her dog off-leash when she came across Mr. Cooper. She was loudly yelling out her dog’s name, as it came near to Mr. Cooper. He asked her to put the leash back on her dog, yet she refused. Some words were exchanged. As it so often must happen now, Mr. Cooper had to begin filming the incident on his phone. Ms. Cooper held her RESCUE DOG by its collar, at times so harshly the dog was lifted off the ground and flayling around, whimpering rather than simply following the rules and putting its leash on. She decided to tell Mr. Cooper she was calling the police! She proceeded to hold the dog up by its collar while speaking to 911 dispatch stating, “There is an African-American man threatening me and my dog.” As she continues to repeat herself, she finally leashes her dog.

You can watch the brief video here: https://nyti.ms/3hpStHH

I think I’ll just let my “friend in my head” John Oliver (seriously, if you know ANY WAY I can meet him, please contact me ) take this one:

 “But it’s hard to overstate how clearly we’ve been reminded lately of the hostility of our existing order toward black people who’ve been killed by police on the street [George Floyd], killed by police in their own home [Breonna Taylor], killed by wannabe police in the street [Ahmaud Arbery], and threatened with state violence while literally birding [Christian Cooper]. And collectively, that has just got to be some brutality bingo right there.”

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, Air Date: May 31, 2020

So, this is 2020. You’d think that by now we’d have progressed a bit further than calling the police on a black man while birdwatching! Also as John Oliver put it on Last Week Tonight, could there be anything LESS intimidating than a person birdwatching?

Despite Dr. Martin Luther King’s “dream”, we aren’t progressing but rather, it’s like we’re moving backwards in time these days.

Hell, it only became legal for an interracial couple to get married in this country 53 years ago. If you think about it, I’m 40 years old. Only 13 years before I was born, it was still illegal – meaning you could go to jail and considered a felon – for marrying someone you love simply because they were of a different race than you.

Loving v. Virginia was a landmark civil rights decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on On June 12, 1967 that struck down laws banning interracial marriage as violations of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the 14th Amendment. However, initially they were brought up on felony criminal charges, pled guilty and were sentenced to 1 year in jail with the sentence suspended on condition that the couple leave Virginia and not return together for at least 25 years.

WORKING AS A YOUNG, FEMALE PROFESSIONAL IN THE “OLD BOYS’ CLUB”

In my personal life, working as a younger female in a very white, male-dominated, extremely “old boys’ club” profession, there were countless instances in which I was immediately judged and treated entirely differently than my male counterparts. And I’m white!

The legal profession still remains an “old boys’ club”

Directly out of law school, I clerked for a judge. I learned so much from him! He remains one of my greatest mentors. He treated everyone with respect, decorum and equality (even attorneys who frankly, I would not have been able to handle so well).

So, after clerking for one year, I went into civil practice. Throughout my career as a defense litigation attorney, I always looked much younger than my age. Not complaining about looking young – guess it’s the good Irish genes! Yet, attorneys and many judges believed I was fresh out of law school. Thus, they believed they could take advantage of me, push me around, talk down to me and outright demean me. Now I may be tiny (5’2 and about 100 lbs.) but I have never been one to step away from confrontation. I hold my ground. I push back! Boy, were those guys not expecting my Irish temper! One of my bosses actually told me that other attorneys said I was a “real hard ass”.

Treat me with respect. You will get respect in return, always. Try to disrespect me or demean me… well, just don’t.

Yet, when it came to judges, i.e., authority figures, that’s when I had to just sit there and take it. You couldn’t risk your client’s position, your firm’s reputation, or your own by pissing-off a judge. Thus, I hated every solitary second of it. I was utterly miserable. Once I got sick, I stopped practicing at just 35 years old. I always wanted a “way out” of being a lawyer. I just didn’t think it would be by getting brain cancer, twice!

As an attorney, in what was supposed to be a “professional” setting, I always had my guard up. I didn’t know if the judge or other attorneys were going to see that I was an experienced, capable, intelligent professional, and actually listen to my statements/arguments. Or if they’d simply see “some young girl” whom they assumed was fresh out of school and they’d “get one over on”. Now, none of these people were law enforcement, carrying guns prejudging me – they couldn’t kill me! Yet, all those negative experiences built up and affected me so much that EVERY DAY I walked into a courtroom or deposition expecting a confrontation. IT WAS SOUL CRUSHING TO LIVE THAT WAY.


WHY THESE PROTESTS ARE SO IMPORTANT

I cannot begin to imagine what a person of color immediately thinks and feels when approached by the police. However, I imagine especially in these times that it’s similar to what I experienced – they expect a confrontation, or at the very least, have to be prepared for one! Again, I had to deal with tons of B.S. Yet, it was not a matter of life or death.

Feeling afraid and frankly, scared for your life as a person of color dealing with the police is legitimately based upon decades and decades of police harassment, interrogation, corruption, brutality and the use of excessive force, racial profiling and racism in general, both individual and systematic. It also doesn’t help that the police now look more like Storm Troopers.


I never liked authority, even as a child. That’s just me. While I know, and will highlight police who are doing good and even joining in protests in my upcoming 3.02 Post, the fact remains:

People of color face a higher likelihood of being killed by police than white men and women do, that risk peaks in young adulthood, and men of color face a nontrivial lifetime risk of being killed by police.”

“Risk of being killed by police use of force in the United States by age, race–ethnicity, and sex”; Edwards, Frank; Lee, Hedwig; Esposito, Michael (emphasis added)

REMEMBER THEIR NAMES

We likely have all seen the video footage, as Eric Garner was choked to death by NYPD officers in July 2014.

In August 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed 18 year old, was shot multiple times by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer.

Also in August 2014, Ezell Ford, a man known by police to have a mental illness and a very low IQ (some described him as having “the mental capacity of an 8-year-old”) was shot and killed after 2 of the LAPD’s Newton Division got out of their cruiser while Ford walked down the street. Ford had no firearm on him and despite claims by the officers that they “believed” he had drugs on him” no drugs were ever found.

In November 2014, Tamir Rice, only 12 years old, was killed in Cleveland, Ohio by a police officer. Rice was carrying a replica toy “Airsoft gun“. He was shot almost immediately after the officer arrived at the scene. Notably, that officer had been deemed “an emotionally unstable recruit and unfit for dutyin his previous job as a police officer in a Cleveland suburb.

Just before Christmas in December 2014, Antonio Martin, 18 years old was shot and killed while running away from a Berkeley, Missouri police officer suspects. Although a gun was found at the scene and believed to be Martin’s, no shots had been fired from the gun.

In April 2015, Freddie Carlos Gray Jr., 25 years old was arrested by Baltimore police officers for possessing a knife. He went into a coma while being transported in a police van. He died on April 19, 2015 from injuries to his spinal cord. Eyewitnesses said the officers used unnecessary force against Gray during his arrest and then did not secure him inside the van while driving to the police station. His death was ruled a homicide.

Also in April 2015, Walter Scott, was stopped for a non-functioning brake light. He was unarmed, but fled on foot. While fleeing, the North Charleston police officer who stopped him shot, firing 8 rounds, 5 of which hit Scott and killed him. The murder was caught on video. That officer was actually sentenced to 20 years in prison.

In July 2015, Sandra Brown, an outspoken activist for the “Black Lives Matter” Movement, was literally pulled from her car by a Texas State Trooper during a “routine traffic stop” – what transpired was far from “routine”. She was pulled over for “failure to signal a lane change”, there was a heated exchange recorded between the 2, and after being ordered out of her vehicle the Trooper forcibly pulled her out of the car. She was forced onto the ground, and arrested. Held for 3 days in jail, she was found dead in her cell. Her death was ruled a suicide.

Also in July 2015, Samuel DuBose, unarmed, was pulled over by a University of Cincinnati police officer for a missing front license plate and a suspended driver’s license. After pulling over, DuBose started his car and the officer fatally shot him. The officer claimed that he was dragged because his arm was caught in the car. Yet, his own body cam footage refuted that.

Back in Part 2 of this Post, I referenced the murder of Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old EMT, who was killed by Louisville Metro police officers on March 13, 2020, who were executing a “no-knock search warrant”. They shot her eight times in her own apartment. She was unarmed.

Then, On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, just 46 years old was killed by Minneapolis police, during his arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. Derek Chauvin, one of the arresting officers knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd remained handcuffed and lying face down, begging for his life and repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe”. Two other officers even further restrained Floyd, while a fourth prevented bystanders from intervening.

So currently, people of color, TOGETHER with all races, religions, etc. are protesting, gathering together to stand-up for black lives, basic civil rights and the rights of those still marginalized in our society decades after the original civil rights movement led by Dr. King, who of course was killed fighting for those rights.

TO ALL THOSE MARCHING, PROTESTING PEACEFULLY STAY SAFE!

WHAT CENTURY IS THIS? (PART 2)


I MAY HAVE UNDERGONE 7 BRAIN SURGERIES AND STILL COGNITIVELY ALRIGHT FOR THE MOST PART, BUT I CANNOT COMPREHEND THE WORLD WE ARE LIVING IN RIGHT NOW


When I began writing my last Post, I expected it to be long, detailed and thorough. However, once I got going, I really got going! I anticipated it all to be just one Post, but there was just too much to address. Although, not necessary if you haven’t read my prior Post, it will give you a clearer perspective. Just click here: https://braincancerbabe.blog

My prior Post addressed my feelings on how I relate America’s current state of affairs to George Orwell’s bleak vision of the future set forth in his novel 1984. I focused primarily on the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this Post will focus on: my roots – Ireland and “The Troubles”; police brutality; living under what looks very much like a “police state”; and, how what we escaped from in Northern Ireland seems to now be occurring all across America.

I realize now too, there will be a Part 3 to this.

POWERFUL

Going back to Orwell’s main premise in 1984, he envisioned a world in which people were controlled through:

  • Governmental propoganda
  • Misinformation, or lack of information 
  • Totalitarian rule – a system of government that is centralized and dictatorial and requires complete subservience to the state
  • A society in which any criticism or questioning of the government was absolutely forbidden and immediately silenced through torture, or worse
  • Freedom of expression or speech simply did not exist, at least openly
  • Failure to care for, protect and serve the common man – Only the powerful with allegiance to the current government mattered

Orwell’s novels, not just 1984, have remained so popular in part because they seem to constantly resonate with what is going on the world at the time. Since 1984 was published, there’s been war, dictators taking hold of countries all over the world, attacks on democracy and freedom of speech, and on and on.

However, in my lifetime (40 years now!) I don’t recall ever being so truly frightened of what I see happening with my own 2 blue eyes on the streets of America . So, before I once again really get going, let me take a step back.


NORTHERN IRELAND HISTORY 101

EERILY SIMILAR TO WHAT IS GOING ON IN AMERICA RIGHT NOW

I was born in 1980 in Northern Ireland. If you know anything about Ireland and that time period, commonly known as “The Troubles”, then you understand I was basically born in the middle of a war zone. I’m going to dive into some detail here, not an entire 30+ years worth, but it helps to understand how I personally view our current situation in America. However, no matter who you are or where you were born, the two situations are eerily similar. So, this is very basic “Northern Ireland History 101”.

As a fundamental starting point, you need to know that the Republic of Ireland and N. Ireland are separate. Surprisingly, many people actually do not know this. N. Ireland is governed under British rule and part of the U.K. The Republic is independent. It is NOT part of the U.K.

Further, the Republic is considered to be primarily Catholic, and certainly was when “The Troubles” began in the late 1960’s. By contrast, in those days N. Ireland was primarily Protestant. If you are not Irish, you might ask, “Is there really much of a distinction?” Well, back then and even in some parts today, Yes, there’s a major distinction.

Catholics tended to be loyal to the Republic and believe Ireland should be one, unified nation (Republicans). Protestants tended to be loyal to the “Crown”/Great Britain. Hence, they did not believe that the 6 counties of Ulster, Northern Ireland should join the Republic, but instead remain unified with the U.K (Unionists or Loyalists).

Another fundamental point is that the Catholic minority in the North were openly and systematically discriminated against by the Protestant majority. As a minority class, they also tended to be poorer. Thus, there was a socioeconomic factor as well.

Nevertheless, you had religion and politics all rolled into one! Never good. Ever!

Northern Ireland in the late 1960’s – this photo depicts British soldiers armed and in full battle gear

The Troubles: How They Began & Similarities to Today’s Crisis

Overall, “The Troubles” were a viciously violent period in N. Ireland, which lasted from technically 1969 to 1998. In total, approximately 3,500 people were killed in the North where the population was only about 1.5 million people. Over 50,000 people were reportedly injured.

The year 1969 was the technical start to “The Troubles”. However, the violence had already begun in 1968.

A group of Catholics formed a civil rights campaign against this discrimination in 1968. They asserted:

  • The government was systematically blocking their right to vote through blatant “gerrymandering” (Catholics were grouped into one constituency, so they could only elect a smaller number of representatives in proportion to their actual population in the North). Additionally, in the local government, only ratepayers (those who owned property) could vote. The ratepayers were overwhelmingly Protestants. Thus, Catholics essentially had no vote.
  • Catholics were being discriminated against in employment and the allocation of social housing (One prominent example was an unmarried Protestant woman, the secretary of a local politician, was given a house ahead of Catholic families with children)
  • One particular law, “The Special Powers Act” allowed for detention without trial. So, Catholics believed they were specifically targeted by the police under this law, as the vast majority of the police were Protestant and Unionist.
  • Irish nationality was not recognized in N. Ireland. In fact, the Irish Republic flag was deemed illegal. Schools would not teach Irish history. Side Note: This is still true in England today, so many students never learn about the Irish famine or Irish Rebellion!

SO IN 1968, YOU HAD:

  1. A minority group
  2. Systematic, open and accepted discrimination against that minority group
    • in the voting process
    • total exclusion and/or underrepresentation in the government
    • employment disparities
    • economic disparities
    • housing problems
    • failure in the educational system to even acknowledge that minority group’s history
  3. Police specifically targeting that minority
  4. Members of that minority group coming together to initiate a civil rights movement

Hopefully you see where I’m heading with this…

So, several Catholic civil rights activists began to hold marches in cities across the North. One march was announced to take place in October. In an attempt to stop the Catholic minority’s march, a Loyalist Protestant group announced they’d also march. Therefore, the government banned all marches.

Despite the ban, the Catholic civil rights group marched anyway. The local police surrounded the marchers and beat them indiscriminately and without provocation.  Over 100 people were injured. This led to 2 full days of serious rioting between Republicans and the police.

Eerily similar images of police in riot gear during these past 2 weeks in response to the “Black Lives Matter” demonstrations


1969: The Troubles Officially Begin

I would never make light of what occurred during these times, but can I just ask – WHAT DIDN’T HAPPEN IN 1969?

Onto much more serious things…

The local police force in the North was known as the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). As you can imagine, they were primarily Protestant Unionists.

Following the incidents in ’68, more civil rights protests arose as early as January 4, 1969. That day, both civilian Protestant Unionists and off-duty police (RUC) officers armed with iron bars, bricks and bottles attacked the marchers. It was reported that on-duty RUC officers failed to protect the marchers. The marchers reached the City of Derry (the City where I was actually born) and by then the RUC broke up the march. That led to major riots between the Irish nationalists and the RUC. That same night, as a show of force RUC officers went on a “rampage” in a Catholic area of the City, known as the “Bogside”. RUC officers (again this is the police) attacked Catholic homes and residents. The violence was so intense, the Catholic residents had to barricade the area – from the police!

Tensions continued. As a result, more protests were held across N. Ireland leading to even more violence. In N. Ireland’s Capital of Belfast. In total, seven people were killed and hundreds were wounded.


As an aside: My father lived half of his childhood in Belfast. Even now in his 70’s he still will not speak of his childhood, or growing up as a Catholic in Belfast in a predominately Protestant neighborhood. He was born in Dublin City into a wealthy family. His father, my grandfather who I never met, was very well-known. While still in Dublin, my father attended Belvedere, one of the most prestigious schools in Ireland with plenty of renowned past pupils, one of the most notable being the author James Joyce. However, before divorce was legalized his father abandoned the family. Let’s just say he was not a very good man for numerous reasons.

Thus, with no recourse against my grandfather to demand child support, alimony, etc., my grandmother moved herself and her 2 children north to Belfast. So not only was my father a Catholic born in the Republic, he was also a “Dub” (A nickname for those from Dublin), which in the North was NOT a good thing! From the little I do know, my father was constantly, sometimes viciously attacked simply for being an Irish Republican and a Catholic.


Moving on, during another march in Derry in April, RUC officers entered the house of an uninvolved Catholic civilian, Samuel Devenny (age 42), a father of nine, and beat him along with two of his daughters. Official reports confirmed that Mr. Devenny had been watching the march from his window inside his home. As it became violent, several young boys who had been throwing rocks at RUC officers began to run as officers tried to chase them down. Sadly, the boys ran straight into Mr. Devenny’s flat (the term used for apartment in Ireland and England). Although he locked his door, officers broke it down and proceeded to beat Devenny and the girls with clubs. One daughter was beaten unconscious and had to undergo surgery.. Mr. Devenny was hospitalized with a suspected fractured skull, wounds to his eyes and mouth, He remained hospitalized until May 19th. However, due to his traumatic internal injuries, he suffered a heart attack and died on July 17th from his injuries.

If this is all resonating with what is going on in America right now,

well, it should!

Breonna Taylor was shot 8 times and died on March 13, 2020 after Louisville, KY police officers were investigating two men who they believed were selling drugs out of a house far from Ms. Taylor’s home. Yet a judge signed a search warrant allowing the police to search Ms. Taylor’s residence because the police said one of the two men may have used her apartment “to receive packages”. The judge’s order was a “no-knock warrant,” which allowed the police to both enter with NO WARNING and  without HAVING TO IDENTIFY THEMSELVES. Breonna was just 26 years old, an ER technician who hoped to become a nurse. Her death has sparked the #SayHerName campaign, as well as a major part of the “Black Lives Matter” protests

July 13, 1969 marked what was considered to be the first death of “The Troubles”. During continued protests and clashes with police in Derry, Francis McCloskey, a 67-year old Catholic civilian, was hit on the head with a baton by an RUC officer. She was found unconscious and passed away the next day from her injuries.

Then, in August, the citizens of Derry became embroiled in the infamous “Battle of the Bogside”. For three straight days, the RUC and thousands of Catholics/Irish nationalists clashed. Protesters were gassed, sprayed by water cannons and shot at by the police. Once again, residents had to build barricades and set up first aid posts.

DERRY, N. IRELAND THEN v. AMERICA RIGHT NOW – LOOK SIMILAR?


While the “Battle of the Bogside” raged in Derry, protests were also being held across N. Ireland.

The Divis Tower housing complex in Belfast was a targeted area throughout “The Troubles”. On August 14, 1969, there were protests/riots going on near the Divis Flats. The police used armoured cars to break up the crowd. The mayhem then moved into the actual housing complex.

While there’s always different sides to every story, what remains undisputed is that the RUC began firing machine guns from their armored vehicles into the housing complex. Notably, those shots murdered Patrick Rooney, only 9 years old, who was the first child to be killed in “The Troubles”.

Patrick Rooney, murdered at 9 years old, when N. Ireland police fired guns from armored cars into his housing complex .

Sadly, Patrick would not be the only death in that attack. Hugh McCabe was also shot dead around 1 a.m. on August 15, 1969 as the raid on the Divis Flats lasted into the early morning. While police claim, Mr. McCabe was armed when he was shot, that is heavily disputed by witnesses in the area, including his father, a former sergeant during WW2. Rather, it is claimed McCabe was pulling an injured man off a balcony, trying to help the man, when he was shot. Nevertheless, McCabe was a solider at home on leave visiting his family. Thus, he would’ve had the right, it seems to me, to carry a weapon.


Not only did the protesters have to contend with the violence and brutality of the police, but also those loyal to the British government (unionist Protestants). Catholics were driven out of their homes, businesses and homes were burned. It’s also known that the police failed to protect Catholics/Irish nationalists being attacked by unionists.

Civilians heavily armed, and masked at “Black Lives Matter” demonstrations clearly there to intimidate protesters through a “show of force”. Yet, there are no police anywhere near them!


1969: “Operation Banner”

Up until this point, the violence involved the RUC/police in N. Ireland. Well, then the British government deployed the British Army on August 14, 1969, under the name “Operation Banner”. They remained stationed in N. Ireland for another 37 years, the longest continuous deployment for their Army in history! Further, the British government called in the Ulster Special Constabulary (“USC”), who were essentially a special reserves police force.

Guess who the Republic called for? A United Nations peacekeeping force.

– ALL THIS BECAUSE CIVIL RIGHTS PROTESTERS BANDED TOGETHER TO DEMAND AN END TO DISCRIMINATION –

And so, as part of their “operation” the British Army worked with the RUC to guard check-points throughout N. Ireland, patrolled the streets and the border with the Republic, raided homes and businesses, conducted searches of both persons and places, tried to quell any protests or “riots” and conducted what was termed “counter-insurgency”.

Our current military state

Thus, the 1969 protests were seen as the beginning of “The Troubles”, which continued until 1998 when “The Good Friday Agreement” was signed. Yet, the British Army remained until 2007.


I COULD’VE EASILY BEEN A VICTIM TO THIS VIOLENCE

Northern Ireland even at the time I was born in 1980 was a true military state. The British Army patrolled the streets, controlled the border between N. Ireland and the Republic, and was purposely stationed to “assert the British government’s authority”.

You weren’t seen as a person, but only by your religion/allegiance to the Republic vs. The Crown. Violence. Terrorism. Bombings. Police/military brutality. Guns were a show of power and not protection. If you looked at an officer the wrong way, you could wind up with a gun butted against your head. A class of people who truly believed they were superior. People lived in true fear for so long.

Admittedly, there was violence on both sides. I won’t deny that.

However, when I was a baby a car bomb went off outside our flat/apartment. We lived on the street level, so the window next to my crib smashed due to the blast. Broken glass fell into my crib. Thankfully, I somehow wasn’t hurt, but I shudder to think that I could have been another child lost to “The Troubles”.

I recall my parents telling a story of how my mother had to care for one of their friends, who was from the Republic and Catholic. He had come up to the North to visit them. Well, he “fancied a pint”, went out and happened to walk into the wrong pub – a Protestant one! The thugs in the pub beat him so badly they nearly broke his jaw.

We finally left N. Ireland when I was around 2 years old to live in the States, the “Land of the Free”.

However, in 1996 when I was 16 years old, I spent the summer in Ireland and returned to Derry. I recall seeing the murals all over the City, paying homage to “The Troubles”. The images below are some I found online. However, there was one in particular that I cannot find now. It was of a masked man holding a machine gun. It shook me with fear.

Also, while in Derry my friend and I needed to take the bus. We had the timetable with us and couldn’t understand why the bus was so incredibly late. Now, I know things run a little slower back there, but this was extreme! So, an old man came walking by, saw the two of us standing there and said, “What are ye waiting’ for?” Politely, we explained the bus. Almost with a laugh, he said, “Sure don’t ye know there was a bomb threat? Ye won’t be gettin’ that bus home.” That was eye-opening, to say the least.


Thankfully, that day there was no bomb. However, two summers later a horrific event occurred on a sunny afternoon in one Northern county where we had lived prior to coming to the States.

The notorious Omagh car bombing occurred on Sunday, August 15, 1998 in the town center of Omagh, County Tyrone. A group called the “Real Irish Republican Army”, a Provisional Irish Republican Army splinter group opposed the IRA’s ceasefire and the Good Friday Agreement. It killed 29 people (including a woman pregnant with twins, alongside her mother Mary and daughter Maura) and injured approximately 220 others. Many of those who died and were injured were children. It was the deadliest single incident throughout all “The Troubles”.

Instead of parking where they had allegedly intended, the bombers parked closer to the stores where so many people were out-and-about, some of whom were buying school uniforms for the upcoming start of the next school year. A photo of the red car that held the bomb was taken by a Spanish tourist just before the bomb went off. It is pictured below.

Apparently, the intended target was the courthouse in Omagh. Yet, because it was a beautiful Sunday, many people were out shopping in town. So, the bombers couldn’t find parking close enough to the courthouse! Yes, they couldn’t get proper parking…

Beyond that: The RUC had been warned almost 40 minutes beforehand but the location of the bomb was inaccurate. So, instead of moving crowds away from the bomb, the police ACTUALLY moved people closer toward the bomb!

That day was so horrific that like September 11th, Irish people remember where exactly they were when news got out.

So, imagine how many lives, how much agony and pain could have been saved if:

  • We could just treat one another kindly, or at the very least, not judge one another by race, religion or creed?
  • We had a way to stop police brutality?
  • We had the right to peacefully stand-up for our rights?

WARNING: PHOTOS BELOW ARE GRAPHIC


Yes, not all police are bad. Not all of any race, religion, creed is bad.

What is very bad is allowing systematic discrimination coupled with police brutality and violence to continue. Permitting violence under the guise of “police authority” resulting in not just unwarranted imprisonment, but multiple deaths of people of color MUST END NOW.

They say, “If you do not know or understand history, you are doomed to repeat it.” Well, unfortunately not too many people in this country know or understand history.

I MAY BE A WHITE WOMAN, BUT I UNDERSTAND THE PAIN, THE FEAR, THE ANGER AND THE SADNESS PEOPLE OF COLOR ARE EXPERIENCING RIGHT NOW, AND HAVE EXPERIENCED FOR MUCH TOO LONG IN THIS COUNTRY.


SO THIS IS WHERE I WILL END PART TWO. HOWEVER, ONCE AGAIN, EXACTLY WHERE I’M LEAVING OFF IS EXACTLY WHERE I WILL BEGIN MY NEXT POST.

WE ALL NEED TO DISCUSS THIS MOVEMENT; THE ACTIONS OF THE POLICE; DISCRIMINATION; and, VIOLENCE AGAINST MINORITIES BECAUSE WE’VE ALREADY LOST TOO MANY LIVES.

REST IN PEACE GEORGE FLOYD

WHAT CENTURY IS THIS?


I MAY HAVE UNDERGONE 7 BRAIN SURGERIES AND STILL COGNITIVELY ALRIGHT FOR THE MOST PART, BUT I CANNOT COMPREHEND THE WORLD WE ARE LIVING IN RIGHT NOW


Get comfortable. Grab a glass of wine. Settle down before reading because this is gonna be a long one! It’a also not the most uplifting post, for sure.

George Orwell’s 1984

1984 is my favorite book of all time. Even as a young teen, I read several George Orwell books. My father encouraged it. He told me they would help me understand the world, and society as a whole. My father is extremely intellectual, so while most girls my age were reading Nancy Drew books, I read Animal Farm and 1984. I was so obsessed with 1984 that I recall writing a book report on it, and buying the movie on VHS. Yes, I am a child of the 80’s and we watched movies on a VCR.

There’s some racy scenes in the novel and movie, beyond it being an incredibly sophisticated, dark and cynical view of what Orwell imagined the world would or could become. However, I was never censored from those things as a child. It’s very likely why I was always a rather cynical person even when I was young.

If you’ve never read 1984, I cannot decide if this is the greatest time, or worst possible time to delve in. I guess it depends on your anxiety level at this stage. If you have read it, you can breeze through the synopsis. However, it is critical to my point.

1984 is considered a “dystopian” novel. Hence, it will not make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Quite the opposite. It was written and published after WWII, while Orwell was dying from TB, living on a remote island after his first wife had died unexpectedly. So, obviously this was not the work of a happy man, but truly one of a tortured soul.

Again, if you’ve never read the novel it’s very hard to sum up in a brief paragraph. However, I’ll stick to the key points and how it relates to our current state of affairs as I see them.

First, the story is set in a world dominated by war, perpetual government surveillance that is both open and secretive (Big Brother is watching), propoganda and a totalitarian state. There are Thought Police that terrorize and persecute any individual/independent thinking, termed “thoughtcrime”. Thus, there is absolutely no freedom of speech or expression. As well, even perceived thoughts against the leader, Big Brother, and the government is strictly forbidden. Yet, the people are not even sure Big Brother actually exists. Although a face touted to be Big Brother is literally everywhere. His image is on posters, projected on screens at work and even inside each person’s home.

I’m going to make it a point to re-read the novel during what seems to be such an overtly insane time in history.


OUR CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS

These days, I constantly find myself asking:

What century is this?

Are we actually living out the clear warnings of what could happen if we become like sheep, and permit the rise of a true “Orwellian society”?

I won’t get too openly political in this blog. It’s not the place. However, there are indisputable facts that will likely NEVER be forgotten when we look back at this time in history.

LOOKING AT THE NUMBERS:

Now, the following may seem a bit tedious, but again, it’s KEY to my point and trust me, I will get there.

CURRENTLY:

  • We are living through the worst pandemic the U.S. has ever seen.
  • We do not even know the exact death toll, but as of May 1, 2020 the estimated number stands at 135,000; In the area where I live, the number stands at over 30,000 in New York and over 10,000 in New Jersey
  • As of May 1, 2020 the estimated number of cases across the country stands at 1.8 million
  • We are now learning of cases spreading at alarming rates throughout Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and again in Asia at an estimated 100,000 per day
  • U.S. unemployment claims have now surpassed 40 million (this number doesn’t even account for those unentitled to unemployment benefits, i.e. undocumented workers; people who have recently started working, like recent graduates; and, people who have been fired for cause, whether that cause was valid or not)

Those are ALL staggering, frightening numbers! Yet, it’s difficult to grasp the true state of affairs just by reading numbers.

People have been living under quarantine restrictions for months now. Personally, besides the hospital and going to necessary doctors’ appointments, I’ve left my apartment maybe 3 times simply to go grocery shopping. People are in masks and wearing surgical gloves. We are told to stand 6-feet apart from others in public. New York’s formerly bustling streets are ghost towns… or were until several days ago. I’ll get to that.

HOWEVER COULD THIS ALL HAVE BEEN AVOIDED, OR AT LEAST CURTAILED?

  • The World Health Organization (“WHO”) announced as of January 23, 2020:
    • “new epidemiological information” from Chinese authorities revealed an increase in the number of cases, of suspected cases, of affected provinces, and the proportion of deaths in currently reported cases of the novel Corona virus (now, let’s be honest – the Chinese government is not exactly known for its open dialogue and expression… Ahem, 1984‘s entire premise)
    • It was informed about the spread of the virus now in Japan, Republic of Korea, and Thailand, and that one new possible case had been identified in Singapore (clearly the virus was quickly spreading)
    • “Human-to-human transmission” was occurring
    • Of confirmed cases, 25% were reported to be severe
    • It gave China very explicit directives on various measures to attempt to contain the spread of the virus
    • However, ALL OTHER COUNTRIES were warned that cases could appear anywhere

So, on January 23, 2020, the WHO concluded:

Thus, all countries should be prepared for containment, including active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing and prevention of onward spread of 2019-nCoV infection, and to share full data with WHO

Citation with emphasis added: https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/23-01-2020-statement-on-the-meeting-of-the-international-health-regulations-(2005)-emergency-committee-regarding-the-outbreak-of-novel-coronavirus-(2019-ncov)

AND YET:

  • New York City reported its first confirmed case of the virus on March 1, 2020. However, not a single restriction had been put into place at that point, more than a month after the “WHO’s” warnings. Further, not even one single testing site was available.
  • Just 5 days later, on March 6, 2020 35 cases were reportedly linked to just one man in Westchester County, a suburb of NYC where many live, but work in the City. Only then did officials begin to discuss quarantines, BUT only if a person believed they were in contact with that man or knew they had been in contact with someone who tested positive.
  • Finally, on March 7, 2020 Governor Cuomo declared a state of emergency for New York with 89 confirmed cases throughout the State. Following suit, New Jersey Governor Murphy declared a state of emergency with 11 cases. Yet still, no testing sites were available. Instead, people were flooding into hospitals in droves.
  • By March 10, 2020 Governor Cuomo deployed the National Guard to a Health Department command post in Westchester County, setting up a satellite testing facility and naming a one-mile, two-week containment area but just in one town, New Rochelle, where there was a clear cluster of cases linked to that one man from that County.
  • 2 days later, on March 12, 2020 NYC Mayor de Blasio declared a state of emergency for the City, stating they projected there would be at least 1,000 cases by the following week. Yet STILL, no testing sites were available.
  • Then, one day later on Friday the 13th (figures), several specialized schools in New York announced they would close temporarily, and New Jersey Governor Murphy announced that positive cases in the state reached 50. He also said it was inevitable that all NJ schools would close for the remainder of the year, but did not close them.
  • March 14, 2020 marked the announcement by Governor Cuomo of the 1st two virus-related deaths in NY. Yet, in both cases officials were keen to point out these people had severe underlying conditions.
  • March 16, 2020 was a significant turning point in the NYC Metro area.
    • By that time there were over 1,000 known positive cases in the tri-state area
    • Due to the lack of response by the federal government, all 3 Governors of NY, NJ and Connecticut announced a tri-state effort to curtail the virus spread and ordered:
      • gyms and casinos would close March 16 at 8 p.m. until further notice;
      • bars and restaurants would close for sit-down service and would only be open for take-out delivery starting at 8 p.m. until further notice; and
      • gatherings of more than 50 people were banned until further notice
    • New Jersey schools would close March 18th for “at least two weeks”. Also, all non-essential retail, recreational & entertainment businesses were to close on the 16th after 8 p.m.
    • FINALLY, Governor Cuomo planned to open drive-thru testing sites in Long Island, Staten Island and Rockland County. NYC Mayor de Blasio ordered 5 drive-thru testing sites in the City (yet, the vast majority of NYC residents either don’t drive or own cars…)
  • The NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade was cancelled for the 1st time since 1762. Also on March 17th, Mayor de Blasio warned of a possible “shelter-in-place” order. By then, there were at least 900 confirmed, known cases in NYC alone. At that point 7 NBA players were also known to have the virus.
  • March 18th was a bleak day for New York. Governor Cuomo announced more than 1,000 new cases had been confirmed overnight! In NYC alone, cases had now risen to over 1,870! The Governor ordered that all businesses were required to have at least 50% of their employees work from home, excluding essential workers.
  • By just the next day, with significant testing now being conducted in New York, the States’ cases totaled at least 5,638 and 3,954 of those were in NYC. New Jersey confirmed another 300+ cases overnight! So, by March 19th, the tri-state had at least 6,538 known cases, 48 deaths that included 4 people in one NJ family!
  • Then by the following day, New York State confirmed 8,300 cases with at least 5,600 in NYC.
  • On March 21st, NYC saw 3,000 additional cases with Governor Cuomo attributing that to an increase in testing.
  • If that wasn’t shocking enough, NY State added 5,000 more positive cases the next day, and NYC now had at least 10,764 known cases with at least 1,800 people hospitalized and at least 450 in ICU. Further, by this point NYPD, FDNY, NYC’s subway and transit workers, prisoners and corrections officers in the City’s notorious Riker’s Island jail, and of course health care workers were all reporting significant numbers of cases.
    • Also on March 22nd, the President finally announced federal action to assist, New York, Washington and California (the 3 hardest hit states) and that the National Guard would be sent to NY, as well as 1,000 medical beds

***NOW WE GET TO THE 2-MONTH MARK, AFTER THE “WHO” HAD MADE ITS ANNOUNCEMENT, WARNING OF THE VIRUS’ POTENTIAL TO SPREAD AND HOW COUNTRIES SHOULD PREPARE***

By March 23, 2020

  • Governor Cuomo mandated all New York hospitals to increase their capacity by at least 50 percent, although they should aim for 100 percent!
  • 5,707 new cases had been reported, bringing the State’s total to 20,857, with the majority of the cases (12,305) in NYC. However, later that day the City added hundreds more cases, bringing the total to 13,119 — with the death toll in the five boroughs hitting triple-digits after climbing to 125 by the end of the day.
  • NJ announced 935 new cases, bringing that State’s total to 2,844 and 27 deaths.
  • Connecticut’s cases rose from 327 to 415. Two more people died in the state, bringing their total to 10.

The rest, they say is history… and not one the history books should ever look upon favorably, but rather with disgrace.

If this all doesn’t INFURIATE you, considering how many lives could have been saved, considering how early, simple precautions could have eliminated so much pain, considering the toll on our healthcare workers & essential workers, well then I have no words for you.


This is meant to be blatantly sarcastic

HOW THIS ALL RELATES TO ME, AS A BRAIN CANCER SURVIVOR, AND TO ALL THOSE WITH UNDERLYING CONDITIONS

How this applies to my personal life is startling when I look back. It almost leaves me speechless, but clearly I’ve got A LOT to say on the matter.

First, I underwent surgery January 17th. So, I was in ICU when the “WHO” made their recommendations. I doubt I would have even known of the warnings. Nevertheless, I was in a very critical recovery period from my 7th brain surgery.

From ICU, I went straight to acute rehab. I remained hospitalized until February 12th. So, officials knew the virus was out there. Cases of the virus had already been confirmed in Italy (or to be more frank-this wasn’t contained to Asian countries) and the numbers kept rising. At the time I was discharged, Italy was officially under a state of emergency. Yet, no one warned me to stay home, wear a mask or utilize any precautions.

TO BE CLEAR: I do not in any way blame my doctors for this. There were no guidelines in place. There were no tests available, to my knowledge anyway. I frankly don’t where the disconnect occurred, as I imagine hospitals and doctors follow the “WHO”. Yet, without governmental policies or procedures in place, what could have been done?

Moving on, I had been cooped up for nearly a month in the hospital, but came out feeling strong, resilient and ready to just get moving again! However, there were numerous post-op appointments and several appointments I had to make-up that I’d missed while in the hospital.

My first was an MRI and post-op appointment with my neurosurgeon, which was in the Main Hospital Building on February 26th. Now, my hospital is one of NYC’s largest and was frankly, bombarded by virus patients. Yet again, I really was not informed about the potential of the virus hitting us. There was so much rhetoric about how this was a “Chinese virus” and that it was no worse than the common flu. Yet, I was less than a month and a half out of major surgery, and had been living in a totally sterile environment in the hospital. In the streets and in the hospital buildings, NO ONE was wearing masks, practicing social distancing or in quarantine, from what I knew. So, I walked around the hospital and NYC freely.

Then, on March 6th, I landed in the E.R. I fell and hit my head so I was quite concerned about my poor brain. Was something wrong with the shunt? Was I suddenly declining again? Lucky for me, I texted my neurosurgeon and he had his resident take me back very quickly. I got an isolated room, but I noticed things seemed a bit strange in the triage areas. I’ve been to my share of E.R.s and they never look “normal”, but I remember saying to my husband that things looked really off. Now I can’t assume, but we know the virus hit NY well before that first case was announced March 1st. I shudder to think of that day, not just for my health but also my husband’s who being the wonderful man that he is also came to the E.R. Anyway, my CT was clear and I was discharged God knows how many hours later.

On March 9th, I had my outpatient PT and OT evaluations. I was so excited to get back to a regular workout schedule to continue getting stronger. Little did I know, I would not return!

As an aside, in that facility people tend to be immune-compromised. The cancer center is there. Plus, those undergoing PT & OT can be quite disabled because I treat on the brain injury floor.

Two days later, I had multiple appointments in different buildings of the hospital. Again, no one was wearing masks. I certainly wasn’t.

On the day I’d typically be celebrating my Irish heritage (and not by getting drunk and puking all over the streets, like people tend to do on St. Patrick’s Day) I marched instead into the Main Hospital Building on March 17th for an EEG and to see a general surgeon because I had serious digestive issues ever since the shunt surgery in January. At that point, the surgeon was in PPE but neither my husband nor I was instructed to wear a mask. If you look back at my timeline, by that point there were nearly 1,000 confirmed cases of the virus in NYC alone! Plus, to add fuel to the fire, 1,000 cases were then reported overnight! While the announcement had come on the 16th that drive-thru testing sites would be put in place, they weren’t set up the day I strolled into the hospital. So, where were people going if they suspected they had contracted the virus? The E.R. And where were they being treated? The Main Hospital Building!

I also have to admit that I “drank the Kool-Aide”. I believed people who told me this would just be like the flu. That this was America acting hysterical again, like when they warn of snow in winter… yeah, it’s winter and it snows in the Northeast. I made fun of people literally fighting over toilet paper.

No toilet paper here!

I travel constantly so I never worried about Zika, Dengue fever or malaria. I was a scuba diver and wanted to dive with sharks and sting rays, and I did. I never had a fear of flying. I felt safer in a plane than in a car. That was all even before cancer. So, my MO was always, “You can’t live your life in fear”.

Well, I will tell you that after all I’ve learned I should have been scared to hell of this virus!


Where virus patients were kept in NYC. 1.) A navy vessel, the U.S.N.S Comfort, docked at a Manhattan pier March 30th. Originally, it was meant to relieve NYC hospitals overrun by virus patients and accept non-virus patients. After severe scrutiny, it chose to accept virus patients. However, the 1,000-bed hospital ship treated just 182 patients. 2.) A portion of the 68-bed field hospital, created to treat Covid-19 patients from the Mount Sinai hospital system located in Manhattan’s iconic Central Park. 3.) A “surge tent” at NY Presbyterian-Weill Cornell for patients with “mild respiratory illnesses”. 4.) Another iconic NYC space, the Jacob Javits Center was converted into a military-run field hospital


SO WHAT DOES ANY OF THIS HAVE TO DO WITH 1984?

It’s clear at least in my eyes, that vital information was kept from the general public by government officials, regardless of what party they belonged to.

It’s known that four U.S. senators sold off stocks after receiving sensitive briefings in late January about the emerging threat of the coronavirus, sparking concerns that they put safeguarding their private finances before their duty to protect public health.

Senator Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, and Kelly Loeffler, a Republican from Georgia, both completed their sales at a time when the Trump administration and GOP leaders were downplaying the potential damage the virus might cause in the U.S. and before drastic stock-market plunges set off by the pandemic… Two other members of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, and Senator James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, also sold stock after the briefings, according to financial records.

Citation: https://www.google.com/amp/s/fortune.com/2020/03/20/senators-burr-loeffler-sold-stock-coronavirus-threat-briefings-in-january/amp/

Burr is Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and receives frequent briefings about threats facing the country. Loeffler sits on the Health Committee and is married to the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, Jeffrey Sprecher. Huh, convenient!

Besides selling shares for millions of dollars, we know high-ranking officials in our government:

  1. Were briefed as early as JANUARY of the threat the virus posed
  2. We know of at least these 4 Senators (and I don’t doubt there’s many others) who made significant monetary gains from that information all while us-the people they swore to serve and represent-suffered and died excruciating deaths! While the economy imploded. While millions of hardworking Americans lost jobs. While invaluable doctors and nurses lost their lives by simply trying to save the lives of others. While families struggled quarantined in their homes for months, and still are! While we “the people” were uninformed and frankly misled to believe this virus would not affect us.

Frankly, it disgusts me that our officials were briefed in January yet NOTHING WAS DONE TO PROTECT US.

I very easily could’ve contracted the virus and given my condition at the time, it could’ve been extremely bad. I could have wound up on some Navy ship docked where I could see it from my home. Yet somehow by the Grace of God, I didn’t. My fellow cancer survivors and those undergoing treatment could have just as easily gotten very sick.

Our government made a strategic decision to hide vital information from its people, information that was literally a matter of life and death. Not only that, despite this knowledge they failed to put a single precaution, restriction and/or regulation in place to protect its people. Yes, that generally falls within the purview of the States. That’s not the point though.

So, what’s our current state of affairs got to do with Orwell’s bleak vision of the future? Well, everything.

  • Governmental propoganda
  • Misinformation, or lack of information
  • Failure to care for, protect and serve the common man – Only the rich and powerful with allegiance to the current government matter
  • Totalitarian rule – a system of government that is centralized and dictatorial and requires complete subservience to the state
  • A society in which any criticism or questioning of the government is immediately silenced by deeming it “fake”
  • A country where the 2nd Amendment is praised and must be protected at all costs. Yet, the 1st Amendment is absolutely suppressed

SO THIS IS WHERE I WILL END THIS POST. HOWEVER, EXACTLY WHERE I’M LEAVING OFF IS EXACTLY WHERE I WILL BEGIN MY NEXT BECAUSE WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THIS COUNTRY RIGHT NOW IS AS EQUALLY DISGRACEFUL AS EVERYTHING OUTLINED IN THIS POST.

Stay Safe America, and God Help Us All.

It’s ALL About Everyone Else

I grew up as many Irish children do. I never worried about being grounded or punishments. (Okay, many Irish kids did get punished, but not my point here).

No. What I got was the “Irish guilt” – the constant feeling of how I was disappointing my parents, not doing what was expected of me and/or a whole assortment of ways in which Irish parents make you feel like you’ve committed felony murder. Many times when I hadn’t actually done anything wrong, mind you.

They say there’s a stereotypical “Jewish mother”. Well, Irish mothers are that times 10! Yes, an Irish mother will love her children with every ounce of her being. Yet, don’t ever cross her, or do anything that she would interpret as crossing her. She will guilt you until you bleed – even if you’re sick.

Funny Because It’s True!

Given recent circumstances that arose within my family, I was compelled to write this post.

While this issue has come up countless times, this particular situation truly hurt my heart because as the perceived “sick” person – it’s not about me. It never is. It’s ALL about EVERYONE ELSE!

This unfortunate truth relates to family, friends, work, and on and on. However, this particular post is focused on my relationship with my immediate family.

I cannot begin to count how many times my mother has said, “I’m just worried sick over you” or “I can’t sleep I’m so beside myself over you”. Not once is it ever about how I’m feeling. It is ALWAYS about her. As for my father, he will not visit me in the hospital – absolutely refuses. Apparently, “he can’t handle” seeing me in the hospital. He does not call. He occasionally sends a text of a photo of our dog, which my parents take care of when I’m hospitalized. I may get an email or two, if I’m lucky.

Yet, because he is a doctor he constantly has an opinion on the course of action my doctors take, and it’s usually something I do not agree with.

Just one instance that exemplifies this perfectly is when I consulted with a particular neurosurgeon at the hospital where my prior surgeon had retired. He was the Chief of Neurosurgery and a man I loved and respected. We had a fantastic relationship, so trusting my brain to anyone else was terrifying. While this consult was with someone who trained under my former surgeon, to say he paled in comparison is a huge understatement.

This man really only spoke to my husband and father, while he either ignored both my mother and I, or scoffed at our questions. He proposed an extremely invasive procedure. Admittedly, I ultimately did have the procedure but only after a much less invasive procedure failed to remedy the problem, and I had it performed at another hospital. Anyway, I asked very direct, difficult questions that this surgeon did not want to answer. Yet, when my father asked the same questions, he indeed answered them. He constantly diminished my concerns – the number one concern being that he proposed inserting a shunt into my brain that would drain fluid into my abdomen. Yet, when I questioned him on the fact that we were uncertain if there were cancerous cells in my brain and he was now proposing to drain this brain fluid into my abdomen, I was told, “You don’t need to be concerned with that. It’s unlikely”.

Well, sorry but “unlikely” is not good enough! What if there was cancer in my brain? What then? Oops, we made a mistake! Nope. Just. Nope. Not. Good. Enough.

I say all this to say that my father lit into ME after the consult stating “how obnoxious” I was to the doctor – as if I was to blame for his arrogance, male-chauvinist attitude and total ineptitude! I may not have gone to medical school, but I did earn a law degree, passed 2 bar exams and knew I was asking the proper questions for my own protection. I’m no idiot, especially when it comes to my health. Yet, my father chose to try and make me feel guilty, for some unknown reason, despite how openly disrespected I was by a stranger. He chose to berate me about pushing a doctor on serious issues related to MY health!

My father and this surgeon totally played into one another’s “God complex”. That ish does NOT fly with me though. Especially the male dominant BS. Not to mention, this man had us wait over 3 hours to even get back into the exam room and literally ran out the door with not even so much as a goodbye! The four of us just stood around looking at one another, asking “Is he coming back?” The answer was, No, he did not come back. About 5 minutes later his awful nurse entered the exam room as if nothing had happened. Needless to say, I found another surgeon who is so kind, gracious and much more competent.

Side Note: I did file a complaint with the patient advocate over this doctor’s behavior. He called and apologized, but clearly he did not even recognize how poorly I was treated. How could I trust my brain with someone so unprofessional and unaware of his behavior?

Moving on…

Now my mother has her own unique brand of guilting me because of my sickness. I am reminded pretty much daily that I’ve been sick. The constant barrage of questions: “How are you feeling today?” “Did you have a seizure?” “How is your hand?” “Are you walking okay?” “Any falls?” After 6 straight years of this, it’s gotten pretty old. Despite telling her that I don’t need to be reminded of my condition constantly, all I get in response is, “Well I’m just so concerned about you.” While that may be true, I’m 40 years old, not 4 years old. Also, Irish people LOVE misery. Walk into a local pub back there and there’s 3 topics. The first: Who died. Second: Who is sick, what do they have and a list of 10 other people who had it or have it. Finally: The weather. Always the bloody weather. It’s either “freezin” “roasting” or “lashing rain”. There may be some gossip about this one or that one, but guaranteed it always comes back to those 3 topics. It’s like misery is in our DNA or something.

Not only does my mother’s guilt involve feigning concern but also claiming she’d do anything to help. However, if I actually asked for help, I’d get 300 excuses why she “just couldn’t”. And every 300 of those excuses would ultimately circle back to one thing – work.

What it all boils down to is simple: my entire life, all my parents did was work. I often wondered why they even had a child because in their list of priorities it would be: 1.) Work; 2.) Each other; and, 3.) Me.

Do my parents love me? 100%. Have I ever wanted for anything material? Never. Did they do the best they could? Yes, but the caveat was always and forever will be, as long as it doesn’t conflict with work or requiring that they leave the 2-mile radius of their clinic/home. Yes indeed, their practice is in the home I spent the better half of my childhood in.

My parents are the epitome of the immigrant mentality that “America is the land of opportunity”. Yet, in order to build a successful practice, they’ve worked their fingers to the bone and still have not retired despite being in their 70’s. They do not believe in vacation or days off. And sick days? Forget it. So in a nutshell, this was the environment I was raised in.

Of course, when I was diagnosed with brain cancer over 6 years ago their work did not slow down. In fact, I was guilted into the notion that now, they’d have to work even harder to supposedly support me. I have a husband with a job. I don’t live beyond my means. I get disability. Has their financial support helped? Definitely, but as I mentioned, it comes at the price of constantly feeling guilty that because I got sick, they still have to work.

On top of all this, add my husband’s Irish family and you’d swear I only got sick to spite all of them! It drives his sisters insane that he loves me so much. One is in the midst of a divorce and the other… I could write a book on the dysfunction of that marriage! While my husband will always be a Mommy’s boy, I know deep down they all blame me for being sick and not giving him a child because well, that’s all women are supposed to do. Forget a career or anything except push out some kids. Since I was diagnosed just a year and a half into our marriage, I am once again the guilty party for failing at my “womanly duties.” It’s safe to say his sisters and I equally despise one another, but then again – my sickness is ALL about everyone else, right?

At this point, I’m done with managing everyone else’s emotions, feelings, etc. about MY health! I am no longer going to speak to anyone who I do not trust with my emotions. I will remain silent because as the quote below states: I am tired of fighting. So very, very tired.

“Untamed”

Throughout this whole blogging experience, the majority of my posts have focused on my own personal experiences.

Lately, I kept seeing the book “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle pop up on the Best Seller’s List, and see friends post about it on social media. Now, I’m a sucker for True Crime novels and really didn’t think “Untamed” would be my cup of tea. So, I didn’t look into it until last night.

In the last year or so I’ve been buying audiobooks. Despite my love of holding an actual book in my hand, I cannot focus on those like I can an audiobook. Whatever damage my brain suffered over these last six years, I just cannot read a physical book anymore. It almost pains me, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. So I now have quite the collection of audiobooks. And yes, I have an Audible subscription.

More to the point, I decided to see what all the fuss was about and bought the “Untamed” audiobook. Admittedly, I have not even finished it yet. However, I’m going to buy the physical book because I want to underline, highlight and make SO many notes in the margins!

As I listen to the audiobook, I want to constantly scream out, “Yes!” I purposely began listening to it on my iPad with phone in-hand, so that I could utilize the microphone and repeat quotes into my “Notes” App. Of course, I have to rewind the audiobook multiple times to get the full quote. Hence, it completely disrupts the flow of the book.

Even if I never finish the book, which just simply will not happen, Glennon Doyle has already taught me so much.

I hesitate to use the word “lessons” because I feel it implies that Doyle is preaching to her readers, which I don’t believe she is at all. Blame my catholic school upbringing, I suppose! Nevertheless, the stories and “lessons” about pain have provided me with a whole new outlook.

No spoilers here, I hope.

One thing Doyle emphasizes is to, “Feel it all.” In other words, it’s OK to feel all the “stuff you are feeling”. As she herself comes to realize, “feelings are for feeling-even the hard ones”. As humans, we are supposed to feel everything! Pain is included in that.

Despite the endless pharmaceutical ads that try to convince us otherwise, sometimes we’re meant to feel sad, depressed, overwhelmed, etc. Now, let me be clear-clinical depression and/or a mental health disorder is not what I’m talking about here. With that being said, sometimes we have really sh@tty days or weeks, maybe even months. Although they’re obviously not enjoyable, those days, weeks, and/or months are simply part of the human experience.

Once we realize this, and don’t just turn to a pill or booze (or whatever harmful means people find) to numb the pain, we can fully live. Again, as Doyle states, “Feel it all!” Further, she emphasizes that we need pain “to become”. Now, this may sound totally ambiguous and vague. Maybe even a little hippy-dippy. Yet, she uses two fantastic examples to clarify her point.

One image of the Buddha

Doyle briefly discusses the Buddha. He was actually born a prince. He literally lived like royalty – a very, very comfortable life. However, when he was 29 years old he snuck out of his palace only to find poverty, sickness and death. He had been shielded from this his entire life. So he chose to leave his life of riches to seek enlightenment. After a long search, he went into a deep meditation and found that enlightenment. Thus, he realized that his “conditioned experiences” could not provide lasting happiness or protection from suffering. He had to experience all emotions to find true joy. He even had to experience pain.

Another strong example Doyle points to is Jesus. Regardless of your faith, Jesus is historically believed to have been indeed a real man. Whether your faith teaches you he was our Lord and Savior is 100% yours to feel and believe. I frankly believe that all religions have their validity, unless a religion teaches harm to others. Fundamentalists are present in every religion.

Depictions of Jesus

Back to the point, in discussing pain Doyle states that Jesus walked straight to his crucifixion. He was not afraid of pain, as it is part of our life on Earth.

In utilizing these two examples, her concept that “pain is magic” becomes more clear and understandable.

The concept that truly struck me, given all I’ve been through these last 6 years, is:

“I can feel everything and survive”

She comes to the realization that she can “survive again and again”. After that momentous realization, she naturally became less fearful. Phew! If that’s not an epiphany I don’t know what is!

Now, I’ve read multiple Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, Gabby Bernstein, Mitch Albom, and other widely respected authors who write about the human condition and our life’s purpose. I listen to guided meditations. I’ve been to wellness events and retreats. Yet, something about how Doyle discusses the purpose of pain (something I’m constantly focused on) just resonated so clearly.

Doyle elaborates on this further, stating that:

“You can survive pain, and feel it all, and still survive…What I thought would kill me didn’t…I was wrong”

In her personal journey, Doyle finds that:

“Pain is the fuel of revolution!”

She further explains that if you know the pain is present, you also know “the rising” will come and welcome you. I understand that to essentially mean:

Always remember the pain will eventually end. You will get through it and in fact, be a stronger, better person for having gone through it.

People constantly ask how I’ve gone through all that I have and continued to remain so positive. I think Glennon Doyle has summed it up pretty darn well in “Untamed”.

Now I’ve got to go and finish the rest of her book.

Today, I was told to “DIE!”

Today was Mother’s Day in the States. Obviously, with a pandemic in full blast people celebrated a bit differently. Some families are together, so maybe mom got breakfast in bed or a nice lunch set out for her. Many families are separated though, so they turned to Skype, Zoom or an old-fashioned phone call.

Presents or flowers were likely shipped. Perhaps some gifts, like mine for my mother, dwell “in the cloud” of the “due to the coronavirus your item may be shipped at a later date than normal and we will continue to keep you updated” category. Maybe others were home-made, well because we’re all home!

I am not a mother, and an only child. All my family besides my parents is back in Ireland, so no aunts or cousins around. Beyond my amazing friends, the only other woman directly in my day-to-day life is my mom.

My mother is incredible and literally the hardest working person I’ve ever met, and she’s 70+. We did the old school conversation over the phone today. It was hard not seeing her, but it doesn’t bother either of us much. I’d say though she’s a bit high-strung, (sorry, Mom) we’re quite alike. Neither of us become pit-bull, Fighting Irishwomen until you /the situation offends us or our ideals. Otherwise, we’re both intelligent, rational people. I think so anyway.

I won’t get into much detail, but I don’t have a fantastic relationship with my in-laws. We’re all opinionated, stubborn, pit-bulls. Don’t get us angry. It’s ugly. You’d think being so similar we’d get along. Nah. No. Nope. As the line in the movie My Cousin Vinny goes, we don’t “blend”.

Not having a child is an underlying issue. By not giving my husband and their family a child, I’m really of no worth. “Being a mother” is the only thing they do. As a couple with no children then, my husband and I naturally matter less to his family. The fruitless, barren ones! His entire immediate family also all live within 5/10 minutes from each other. We live a nice 40 minutes away. Thank god! Nevertheless, they’ll constantly be together and my husband never gets a call to come by.

The reason, in my opinion is simple: ME. I’ve achieved in blackballing my poor husband from his family because his sisters switch-hit on who hates me that particular day. First, they don’t want to be around the “sick person” or “expose” their children to a sickie like me. Add on the fact I don’t have a child, and it’s safe to say it’s been less than an ideal situation.

Well today, on Mother’s Day (and the irony does not escape me) after a huge argument amongst my husband and his family, I was screamed at by an insane SIL to, “DIE!” Yes, I was told to leave my husband, leave their family alone and “DIE!” I wasn’t even involved in the argument! Yet, who does the blame fall on? ME. The fruitless, barren one worth less than, hmmmm, dirt.

It’s hard. No, it takes every single bone in my body not to stoop to that level and just go after her and all his family, who would want nothing more than to see us apart. As an aside I joke, although I’m not really joking, that they’ve probably got a line of women ready for him hoping I do in fact die. Every surgery I go in for, they’ve likely got the rosary beads out, because after all they’re such devout Catholics, praying this time I finally go.

So, so true

My husband is so much more important than their evil, petty attempts to drive us away from each other. However, if I was in fact to succumb to this horrid disease one day, there would definitely be an all-out, no holds barred extravaganza!

So, here’s to all us fruitless barren women out there! Let us enjoy sleeping in, doing what we want when we want, vacations when we choose, oh and quiet! Lots and lots of quiet. And to any single women reading this: Find a man with ONLY brothers!

You just can’t make this ish up…

It’s okay to be married and NOT have kids

Another Surgery Down! Now, Recovering In So Many Ways (Post Surgery No.6)

Since my diagnosis in 2014, I’ve had some type of brain surgery…every… single… year with the exception of 2018. So, in 2019 just to make up for it, I guess, I had to get 2 “surgery notches” under my belt!

I’m now one week out from my 6th brain surgery. It was something termed a “Burrhole Craniotomy”. In real-people speak, I basically had a GPS-guided needle inserted into my skull to drain fluid from a lesion/cyst that sat in my brain for years caused by the insane amount of radiation I received between 2014 (initial diagnosis) and 2015 (recurrence). When I met with my neurosurgeon’s N.P. before he came in to discuss our options, I basically ticked-off every box for issues related to fluid in my brain. Yes, including being “ticked off” at everyone and everything. Yet, she asked politely, “Are you feeling more irritable?”. My husband had a good laugh at that one. We both answered with an emphatic “YES!”

Prior to the surgery, I became extremely angry and depressed. I never really had those feelings for such an extensive period without them being caused by some horrid med… ahem, Keppra, Dexamethasone. Nope. This time it was all me. Facing a 6th brain surgery, admittedly, gives me some leeway to feel so utterly miserable. I am only human after all.

I know full-well going to that “dark place” isn’t just damaging to my mental health, it makes me physically weak. I need to go into surgery healthy in all aspects-physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, etc. Yet, I couldn’t pull myself out of the darkness.

The one thing I was 100% confident in was my neurosurgeon. If I ever turn this into a book, I will absolutely name him. However, for now we will remain anonymous. I know for sure he truly lives and breathes by the Hippocratic Oath, most especially

  • the duty to “do the least harm”; and,
  • “there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

Fortunately, I’ve made wonderful connections within the brain cancer community since my diagnosis. I have no doubt some of those connections are why I’m still here. They’ve led me into the exam rooms of some of the most impressive physicians in this country. My neurosurgeon is one of those people.

So, despite all my neurological issues, including losing total use of my left hand, falling on the daily, constantly losing my memory or at least feeling such brain fog I literally forgot the year, I knew my doc would get me through this. And he did.

Without getting into too much detail, I had consulted with another surgeon first. Wait, I actually wrote a whole post about that experience. Oh well… “blame brain cancer brain”Totally off topic – Can we stop saying, “oops! Must be Mommy brain!”? No, like I’m literally missing a part of my brain that was infected with cancer – twice. Then, it got lots and lots of radiation beamed into it. We just forget shit! Mommies, don’t hate me, please.)

So, that other surgeon had proposed a much more invasive surgery. I was incredibly uncomfortable with his plan. I was very open that I was going for another consult at another hospital. The hospitals in NYC seem to compete with one another like spoiled school girls. I’m not too too concerned with that B.S. I’m trusting my brain with whoever is going to stick by that whole “least harm” idea.

My surgeon utilized the least invasive means possible, I only spent one night in the hospital. My left hand is working again. I’m walking better. The brain fog is still around, but I’ve been on Percocet the last few days. I’m not quite so “irritable “. My husband is very happy about that! I’ve got another surgery notch under my belt. Thankfully, I’m finding myself again too.