I’m using ‘weird’ as a euphemism.


I was laid off 3 weeks ago. I saw it coming; oil had been at less than $60 a barrel for a year, with no recovery in sight. A corporate social responsibility specialist who’d worked in gold mining had told me in January that our positions – CSR, public affairs, communications, community outreach – are always first to go in industries like ours, and he’d been laid off the month before we chatted. Add to that the fact that my boss hadn’t stopped in to chat politics (pretty much a daily event for the past two years) in the two weeks leading up to the Event, and I knew. 

But this post isn’t a pity party (though I’ve thrown myself plenty of those!). It’s not a post to rail against the company I worked for (because there were hard decisions to make, and I still adore the people I worked for and with). 

In the three weeks that I have been out of a job, and wearing out the funemployment-phase of things, I have:

  • Gone to Fairplay with my dog and the Boy for a couple days
  • Applied to jobs with a purpose 
  • Played with my ponies
  • Watched a ton of Netflix, Hulu, and HBOGo – though, amazingly, I’m still not done with Game of Thrones
  • Crafted my little heart out – I have projects strewn about my house currently, and a Silhouette Cameo on its way to me via AmazonPrime right now
  • Wondered which pictures from my recent Brazilian vacation with Bestie I should frame

Don’t get me wrong, I have a sense of urgency in finding a new job. But that sense of urgency comes from a deep seated need in my bones to do something, not because I need to survive. 

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but currently there’s some crazy shiz going down. Just this morning, while I’ve been contemplating adding holiday bows to my chairs, I’ve read numerous tweets and Facebook statuses hellbent against Syrian refugees entering the US. The first article I read this morning was posted in a listserv I’m a member of by a Colorado political strategist about how nearly a quarter of a million Texas women have tried to end a pregnancy by themselves, with methods including getting punched in the stomach.

These are very different topics, but the thing they both have in common is that they fuel a very hot, bright rage within me. It makes me angry that I’m furiously crafting bows while this is happening. It makes me angry that I have to be furious with myself for crafting bows because this is happening.  

Join me in a thought exercise here. You’re in your kitchen, surrounded by your family – and yes, pets count. You’ve all heard the same thing: one militant group or another is making their way to your town, and reports are that they destroy everything in their wake. If they don’t destroy it, airstrikes by NATO, Russia, or other forces will. But you’ve built a life here, you have a kitchen to gather your family in, a bed, a community. You have (or had) a job. It might not be much, but you also have everything you’ve worked for here: sentimental items; art; a garden. 

But there are ruthless people who want to take your town to improve their stronghold in your country. 

Homs, Syria, 2014. From PRI, Omar Sanadiki/Reuters

So you’re at a crossroads, and there is no easy choice. You can’t just jump on a plane with your family and fly out of your country to some better place. Because there are 9 million other people making or who’ve made the same choices that you now have to make. If you leave, you leave everything. Look around your kitchen. Look around your home; your community. Everything. To stay either in a refugee camp, with millions of others in UNHCR tents – with no A/C, no heat. Or to try and gain refugee status in Europe or elsewhere. That means traversing harsh conditions too, on a gamble that someone will take you in. If you stay, though, you could be left with nothing as well, as the terrorists and those combatting them move in. 

Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan. 160,000 refugees live here.
Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan. 160,000 refugees live here.
Refugees stopped at the border of Hungary and Serbia.
Refugees stopped at the border of Hungary and Serbia.






This is the choice that 9 million Syrians have made – as many people as in the Chicago metro area. That’s 9 million people, who are just like you, with family, friends, maybe a love of the same foods, the same art, the same  music, who have left everything. Who have lost family members, pets, and an entire way of life along the way. And too many Americans want to shut out 10,000 of them – barely a blip – because one terrorist claimed to be a refugee in Paris. This line of thinking completely discounts the fact that refugees in America are highly vetted, moreso than those entering the country with student visas, jobs visas, or as tourists.

Where is our empathy? Where are our American values? Or have those values become “I Myself Above All Else”? Like it or not, this is a globalized world. Global problems are our problems, and it is no longer acceptable in a respectable society to look at 9 million people  just from one country, one place of origin for refugees and say “nope, you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here” like a bad 2000s song. All because of one terrorist who claimed to be a refugee. 

Inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty, which was given to us by France. There's irony or something there somewhere.
Inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty, which was given to us by France. There’s irony or something there somewhere.

In any case, I am proud to be a Coloradan where our Governor Hickenlooper has maintained our willingness to take in those who have no where else to go. 

Anyone who reads this post (admittedly approaching novel status) may not know a refugee. But I can guarantee you that you know someone, probably a lot of someones, who have had an abortion. The latest figures approximate 1 in 3 women have had one by age 45. If you don’t know who these women in your life are, you can thank the fact that abortions are safe and legal in the United States, making it a procedure that can be discreet and private. Because, you know, the women you know aren’t being admitted to the hospital with internal bleeding or side effects of illicitly obtained pills of dubious origin. Or alcohol or drug poisoning. Or broken bones from hurling themselves down stairs. 

With the retraction of abortion clinics in the US, this is what nearly a quarter of a million women in Texas are resorting to without easy access to medical care. This, in a country where abortion is a legal, constitutionally protected procedure (at least until the next challenge of Roe v. Wade in the next SCOTUS session). This, in a country where it’s supposed to be safe to either terminate or carry to term a pregnancy. Just because you don’t want it to happen, or think it’s not happening, doesn’t mean women are simply shrugging their shoulders and saying, “Welp, I guess I’ll carry this one to term.” It means that women are putting themselves at risk to terminate. This for a myriad of reasons including decreased access to care, bad experiences with doctors, or other lady-procedures like pap smears. 

Me too, Hills. Me too.
Me too, Hills. Me too.

My dad, wise man that he is, once told me that ours was a benign world. That I didn’t really know weird. I don’t remember the context of that particular conversation (though I suspect it had something to do with our always entertaining West Virginia clan and ways). It didn’t have anything to do with hard choices, or being laid off, or being unemployed. But this is what came to mind this morning as my focus was directed at refugees and women making choices for themselves.  It’s what came to mind as my morning drifted between job searching and crafting. 

I suspect the vast majority of those opposing refugees, or who make women’s access to healthcare difficult to the point where women no longer seek it, live in relatively benign world as well, where they don’t really don’t know weird at all. 


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