bookmark_border“Hateful”

“Hateful.”

This was the word used by Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry to describe a flyover by the organization Save Southern Heritage Florida, in which an airplane carrying a banner that read “Put Monuments Back” flew over a Jacksonville Jaguars game.

How exactly is it “hateful” to argue that people like me have a right to a life worth living?

How exactly is wanting to have a life that is actually worth living “hateful”?

Apparently, only Mayor Curry and people like him are allowed to have lives that are worth living.

And I am not.

Believing that I am actually entitled to the same respect and the same protections as others… is hateful.

Daring to ask that I be treated equally… is hateful.

Apparently, I am required to just put up with everything that makes my life worth living, being destroyed. Other people are allowed to hurt me as badly as they want, with complete impunity, and I am not allowed to defend myself. I am not allowed to point out that actually, destroying everything that makes a person’s life worth living, is bad. I am not allowed to state that I would like the things that make my life worth living, returned.

In the eyes of Mayor Curry, asking for the world to allow you a life that is worth living is “hateful.”

No, Mayor Curry. You are the one who is truly hateful.

bookmark_borderThe abyss

In this post, I am going to explain in more detail how Stonewall Jackson helps me.

First of all, it would be a lie if I said that Stonewall completely ameliorated my grief at the statue genocide. This grief is always present, and will be for the rest of my life. But that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t make a huge and positive difference. He absolutely does.

For the first two weeks after Stonewall arrived, I thought that perhaps the misery of the past two and a half years had finally come to an end. But unfortunately, on Columbus Day, my state of mind completely changed. The excruciating pain, which had been mercifully absent for two weeks, returned with a vengeance. Looking back, I think the reason for that was that I came to the realization: as awesome as Stonewall is, he is not Columbus. They are two different people. I have Stonewall living in my yard, for me to clean, care for, and keep safe, which is absolutely awesome. But Columbus is still out in the world being smashed to pieces, strangled, set on fire, beheaded, tortured, and eviscerated. Every time Columbus is hurt, it makes me feel that my soul is being eviscerated as well. And there is nothing that I can do about any of it. Like I said, having Stonewall is wonderful. But it does not do anything about Columbus (or any of the other historical figures who are being smashed to pieces, strangled, set on fire, beheaded, tortured, and/or eviscerated as well).

Sometimes I can go about my life relatively normally, and even be in a good mood. But sometimes the sense of loss hits me. Sometimes it hits me when I am lying in bed and haven’t fallen asleep yet, because there are no tasks to occupy my mind. Sometimes it hits me because of something I see, hear, or read. For example, I recently saw an ad on TV for the Armenian Heritage Park, a section of the Rose Kennedy Greenway with a meandering path and an abstract sculpture that represents the experience of Armenian immigrants in the U.S. Three guesses which park that reminded me of? (Hint: it’s a park dedicated to immigrants of a different nationality, which no longer contains a sculpture.)

When the sense of loss hits, I am filled with an overwhelming mix of sadness, rage, horror, and disgust. My stomach drops. Both the quantity and the severity of the atrocities that have occurred are so huge as to be completely incomprehensible. It’s like a tidal wave of badness, crashing into me just like a real tidal wave crashes into a city, destroying all the buildings, flooding the streets, and carrying the people away. My brain can’t hold the totality of what has happened. Picturing any one instance of the statue genocide makes me feel that every fiber of my being is exploding in agony and my soul is being eviscerated. If I were to somehow picture in my mind each instance of brutal, horrific cruelty, each abhorrent social media post, each appalling article, opinion piece, and editorial, and each nauseating statement by a politician, then I would be completely psychologically destroyed. When the loss hits, it’s as if I am staring into an abyss that threatens to swallow me. An abyss filled with such profound badness that it can’t be fully comprehended. It’s as if I am being sucked into the abyss.

The difference is that now, there is also something pulling me in the opposite direction. That something is Stonewall Jackson. It’s kind of like a seesaw, or possibly the scales of justice. On one side, the abyss is trying to suck me in. But on the other side is Stonewall. Because of him, I have a reason to go on living.

So the problem is not fixed. But before, there was nothing on the other side. There was only the abyss. There are still times when I feel excruciating pain. But there are also times when I don’t. Thoughts of Columbus and how cruelly he has been ganged up on and brutalized still overwhelm me. But thoughts of Stonewall fill me with such joy and pride that it is difficult not to start jumping up and down and telling everyone in the vicinity. I love Stonewall, I love Columbus, and I love all the historical figures from the Confederacy. And because of this, I hate what our society has done to them.

For the rest of my life, I will wrestle with these sometimes contradictory thoughts and feelings. I live now with both the good and the bad, where before there was only bad.

That is a huge difference. And it is all because of Stonewall.

There is also the possibility that I might get additional statues in the years to come. Perhaps I will become the guardian of a metal or stone Columbus one day, or perhaps Jefferson Davis or Robert E. Lee. That might help to ease the excruciating pain that I feel for those historical figures. It would be cool for Stonewall to have a group of friends living in the yard with him. Although I still become filled with despair sometimes, when the sense of loss hits me, there are also times that I feel excited when thinking about these possibilities. Having dreams, hopes, and plans for my future is somewhat new to me. For most of my life, getting through each day was so difficult that the future was something I never really thought about.

The ability and desire to think about the future is another huge change for me. And that’s because of Stonewall as well.

bookmark_borderThe Minnesota state capitol

On Thanksgiving night, the Patriots were playing the Vikings in Minnesota. Full from my feast of turkey, stuffing, various side dishes, and various pies, I turned on the TV, looking forward to relaxing with a night of football. The usual pregame fanfare took place – analysts making predictions, players running onto the field, the crowd clapping their hands together and chanting “skol,” and gymnast Suni Lee blowing the huge Viking horn to kick off the game. The teams alternated touchdowns and field goals.

And then, coming back from a commercial break, the NBC broadcast showed a shot of a stately-looking white building topped with a gold dome. Lights shone from within and around the building, illuminating it against the night sky. Announcer Mike Tirico informed the audience that it was the state capitol building in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Immediately, my stomach dropped.

When I think of the Minnesota state capitol, the only thing I can think about is the man that I love, being murdered.

A mob of people, yelling and chanting. Tightening a noose around his neck. Pulling on the rope until his body smashes to the ground with a sickening thud. The mob surrounding him, kicking him and screaming. One member of the mob after another, standing atop the pedestal where the man that I love ought to be standing, raising their arms in sadistic triumph, posing for the news cameras. People (and I use that term loosely) posing with their knees on his neck in a perverse imitation of Officer Chauvin and George Floyd (as if recreating the very thing you are protesting against is somehow an appropriate form of protest). Police officers, at least two dozen of them, standing by in their blue uniforms with their hands behind their backs, making no attempt to intervene as the man I love, the man who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and discovered this continent, is strangled, brutalized, and tortured. Doing nothing as everything that makes my life worth living is destroyed.

To me, these are the most disgusting and horrifying images that it is possible to imagine. The actions that took place at the Minnesota state capitol in 2020 were actions of unspeakable brutality, sadism, and cruelty. The pain that these actions have inflicted on me is the worst pain possible for a human being to experience.

Not only did the police make no attempt to stop these reprehensible actions, but they did not arrest any of the perpetrators. The ringleader was charged with vandalism, but the case was resolved by holding a “talking circle” in which he got to explain the immoral motives behind his vicious actions. He received no punishment. No jail time, no fine, no house arrest, no community service. Nothing.

The lieutenant governor of Minnesota stated that she was “not disappointed” in the actions of unspeakable brutality, sadism, and cruelty that were perpetrated against the man that I love.

The actions that took place at the Minnesota state capitol demonstrate that people like me no longer have any protection under the law. To our society, my feelings don’t matter, my thoughts don’t matter, my perspective doesn’t matter, and my happiness doesn’t matter. A mob of bullies and bigots was allowed to murder the man I love in the most brutal of ways with complete impunity. To our society, his life means nothing.

When Mike Tirico told the audience that the building being shown on the TV was the Minnesota state capitol, he didn’t mention any of this. To NBC, the life of the man I love apparently doesn’t mean anything, either.

It was difficult to care much about the outcome of the football game after that.

bookmark_borderI am thankful for Stonewall Jackson

I am generally not a big fan of the concept of gratitude. In my opinion, gratitude is overrated and over-emphasized in our society, both as a personal characteristic and as a practice. Some people might call me a negative, entitled, or arrogant person, but my general tendency is to focus on things that I find unjust and wrong, as opposed to finding the positives in every situation.

But this Thanksgiving, I have something very significant for which to be thankful. That thing is General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Or rather, Jackson in statue form. He is made of bronze, measures 4 feet tall, weighs 120 pounds, and lives in my backyard.

Stonewall Jackson in his new home

Stonewall arrived at my house on September 23, 2022. Even though he doesn’t move or speak, he has immediately made a huge and positive difference in my life. Instead of watching helplessly as everything that makes my life worth living is destroyed, I have something that makes my life worth living, right outside my door. And I am his legal owner, which means that no one (unless they trespass on my land and vandalize my property, which is illegal) can take him away. Instead of having to continue my life without the historical figures that I love, I have a historical figure right by my side. This might sound strange, but I move through the world with more self-confidence and courage now than I did before. I move through the world as the guardian of a historical figure. Whatever comes my way, Stonewall Jackson will be with me as I face it. Legally and biologically, my statue is an inanimate object. But to me, my statue contains a piece of Stonewall Jackson’s soul. 

Stonewall is a source of joy, hope, and beauty in these incredibly dark times. For two and a half years, I have experienced more grief, anger, frustration, pain, and despair than I ever thought possible. For most of this time, I have felt that I have absolutely nothing for which to be thankful. Stonewall brought me a sense of happiness and pride that had been completely missing from my life and that I thought I would never feel again. It has been so cool to choose the spot for Stonewall, make a little flat area for him to stand, and decorate his spot with flowers and a stone wall (no pun intended!) as you can see in the photo above. 

Stonewall hasn’t yet experienced snow, but he has so far survived bitter cold, drenching rain, and howling wind with no problems. Even in November, his shiny bronze surface is warm to the touch when the sun shines on him. I can always see him through the window of my house, and I like to go outside and say hello to him as often as I can. On warm days, I like to sit outside with him while I work on my laptop. You might think I am insane, but sometimes when I am upset about something or wrestling with a difficult situation, I tell Stonewall about it, and he helps me to feel better.

The best thing about Stonewall is that I don’t have to explain or justify my actions, decisions, or choices. He doesn’t ask questions. He doesn’t pressure me to do anything I don’t want to do. He doesn’t demand my time or interrupt me when I’m in the middle of an important task. He gets what I am saying, even when I don’t explain it perfectly. Whatever is on my mind, he will listen nonjudgmentally.

Thank you, Stonewall, for making my life better.

bookmark_borderMy thoughts on the 2022 elections

Before 2020, two things were essentially treated as non-controversial and universally agreed-upon. First, the fact that the existing collection of statues and monuments in the United States would continue to exist, with possible additions from time to time. Second, the right to decline medical intervention. In other words, the fact that no adult should be required or forced to undergo any medical procedure.

Unfortunately, beginning in 2020, these two things became controversial, to put it mildly. Politicians from one of the two major political parties began to support both the destruction of the statues and monuments that I need in order to have a life that is worth living, as well as policies that force people to undergo medical intervention against their will. 

For me, the issues of statue destruction and vaccine mandates are by far more important than any other political issues. Both the continued existence of the statues that make my life worth living, as well as the right of people to decline medical intervention, should be universally accepted and completely non-controversial. When one of the two major political parties decided to take positions opposing both of these things, it became a complete no-brainer for me to support and vote for candidates from the other party. There really isn’t much of a decision to be made when one political party supports destroying everything that makes your life worth living and the other one doesn’t.

Last Tuesday night, while watching coverage of the election results, I felt my mood slowly begin to go downhill. Even though I was watching Fox News, the channel least prone to anti-everything-that-makes-life-worth-living bias, the banter of the pundits and the victory speeches of the winning candidates started to get to me for several reasons.

First of all, it seems to be the general consensus among pundits and the general public that Republicans weren’t as successful in this election as expected. This is disappointing because, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, the party that supports destroying everything that makes my life worth living is the Democratic Party. 

But watching the election results was also depressing because even the Republican Party generally doesn’t place as much importance as it should on the issues that truly matter. It is frustrating to see politicians bickering about inflation, the economy, the cost of gas, the war in Ukraine, abortion, whether “drag queen storytime” events are appropriate for kids, and which bathrooms people should be allowed to use, while everything that makes life worth living has been destroyed and no one seems to have any interest in remedying this or punishing the perpetrators. 

The news coverage was depressing for a third reason as well. Given the severity and pervasiveness of the statue genocide, the mere mention of states and cities is enough to trigger overwhelming feelings of grief for the statues that were removed and/or destroyed in those states and cities. For example, when the Fox broadcast showed a map of the county-by-county election results in Virginia, along with the locations of major cities such as Charlottesville and Richmond, my entire being was flooded with stomach-sickening disgust and rage.

The atrocities that have been perpetrated against historical figures have been so devastating to me that for quite some time I gave up consumption of news entirely. Although I used to read the newspaper every day, browse news websites, watch the news on TV, and follow numerous local organizations and public figures on social media, the constant stream of horrifying new developments became so traumatizing that I made the decision to reduce, and then eliminate, my exposure to information. Consuming news used to be an important activity for me because I found it interesting and believe that there is inherent value in being knowledgeable about what is happening in the world. Giving it up was a significant sacrifice but necessary in order to prevent myself from being completely psychologically destroyed. Lately, my mental state has stabilized somewhat (knock on wood), and I have experimented with adding back some of the activities and information sources that I had eliminated. But the past week seems to have demonstrated that I added back the TV news a bit prematurely. I will have to wait before I can safely resume it, if I am ever able to at all. 

Unfortunately, the reality is that I live in a country where the President and Vice President want the people I love to be dismembered and tortured to death. And now I live in a state whose governor-elect wants this as well. But even many politicians from the opposing party, including my state’s current governor, don’t particularly care about the dismemberment and torture of the people I love, either. This demoralizing situation is exemplified by the election of Glenn Youngkin as governor of Virginia last year. Although he was certainly an improvement over his morally repugnant predecessor, Youngkin made no move to repair, restore, or defend the statues that were so viciously brutalized.

Prior to 2020, the continued existence of the people I love was taken for granted, the nation’s collection of statues a backdrop of sorts, atop which politicians bickered over various issues. During the summer of 2020, when the frequency of dismembering and torturing was at its nauseating peak, the outrage of those on the conservative side of the political spectrum made me feel seen and heard. But now, the post-2020 collection of statues, so diminished as to not even be worth fighting for, has become the new backdrop. In other words, the existence of the people I love used to be taken for granted, but now their non-existence is taken for granted. This horrific, incomprehensible, and profound loss no longer seems to register to politicians of either party.

It’s a disturbing situation, to put it mildly, and it is a reality that I have to live with every day. If my day is going relatively well, I can manage to function and possibly even be in a good mood while the disturbing reality lurks in the back of my mind. But other times, the disturbing reality comes to the forefront. Overall, it is very difficult to live in a society in which the political establishment, and likely the majority of people, support the destruction of everything that makes my life worth living.

I believe that it is never acceptable to destroy or remove a statue. I believe that it is never acceptable to require a person to undergo a medical procedure. Without the people I love being allowed to exist, life is not worth living. And without the freedom to make decisions about my own body, life is not worth living, either. Any politician or public figure who disagrees with me on these issues wants me to have a life that is not worth living. And I can’t support any politician or public figure who thinks that, regardless of how mainstream those views are, and regardless of what party the politician is from. 

bookmark_borderAlternate universes

Since the statue genocide began almost two years ago, numerous activities that I used to enjoy have been ruined. I used to love exploring Boston and its suburbs, photographing buildings and landmarks. I used to love trains and buses, both as a mode of transit and as a cool thing to learn about and photograph in and of themselves. I used to love sports, particularly the Bruins, and frequently attended their games and practices.

However, now that Boston has become a city without my statue of Christopher Columbus in it, I do not love Boston anymore. I no longer get much pleasure from exploring or photographing it, nor do I really enjoy rooting for Boston’s sports teams. Whenever I think “Boston,” the fact that there is no Christopher Columbus anymore is front and center.

The same concept applies to almost all cities and states in the U.S., and many foreign countries as well. The fact that places do not have the statues and monuments that they are supposed to have, and therefore are ruined, significantly negatively impacts my ability to enjoy my former hobbies and interests.

I have struggled to figure out what to do about this. I have unfollowed some athletes, organizations, and photographers on social media either because they specifically expressed support for anti-statue ideology, or because I found their content to be particularly painful. But I am still following many social media accounts that are related to Boston, photography, public transportation, and/or sports, and seeing posts on these topics causes a variety of different emotions. 

Yesterday, I saw a post about the Route 71 and 73 buses that go through Cambridge and Watertown. What is unique about these buses is that they are connected to overhead wires that power them as they make their way through the streets, as opposed to using diesel or gas. Sadly, this past weekend marks the end of these buses’ lives. Due to a major road construction project, they are being taken out of service and will eventually be replaced with more high-tech buses. A train and bus enthusiast that I follow on Instagram took a trip on one of these buses over the weekend and posted photos and videos documenting the journey.

Seeing these images, I thought to myself, “I should have done that!” The old me, in fact, probably would have done that. An old-fashioned bus line is exactly the type of thing that the old me was into. The old me would have wanted to experience that and document it as a part of Boston history. I felt bad that I didn’t ride and document the bus this weekend; I felt that it was something I should do.

But then I had an epiphany. Riding the 71 or 73 bus is something that I would have done in a parallel universe, or an alternate reality. An alternate reality in which the statue genocide hadn’t happened. But unfortunately, the statue genocide did happen. I don’t live in a parallel universe; I live in this one. And in this universe, my priority is defending, honoring, and glorifying the historical figures who are under relentless, brutal attack. Each person has only a finite amount of time and energy, and given the horrific things that happened, my time and energy are best spent celebrating historical figures through art, poetry, and writing. 

Thinking about it that way, I am able to find some semblance of peace with regards to the activities that I used to do and the things that I used to be into. These are things that the version of me that exists in a parallel universe would do, but this version of me doesn’t do. Given what happened in this universe, these activities aren’t the most meaningful use of my time and energy.

I don’t mean to imply that the statue genocide was even remotely good in any way, shape, or form, but at least it has narrowed down my interests to a manageable amount. Before, there were so many hobbies and activities that interested me that I was constantly frustrated that I didn’t have enough time and energy to do them all. There was no way I could learn about all the topics that I wanted to learn about, no way I could explore all the places that I wanted to explore, and no way I could attend all the events that I wanted to attend. I lived in a constant state of exhaustion, time pressure, and overwhelm. For a while, the pandemic cut down on the amount of activities that were available, which was hugely beneficial for me (I know that sounds like a weird thing to say about a pandemic, but it’s true). The statue genocide, as horrific, unjust, and immoral as it has been, has given me clarity on my priorities in life, and on which activities are the best uses of my time and energy. 

I have gone through an unimaginable amount of pain over the past two years. What happened is not okay, and I will never feel that it is. But slowly, very slowly, I am adjusting to the fact that this version of the universe differs from the version I expected and imagined, and my hobbies and interests differ as well.

bookmark_borderOn death, grief, and loss

As everyone knows, dying is an inevitable part of life. I remember the moment I first realized this. I was five, and I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep and mulling over various topics. I knew intellectually that everyone eventually dies, but until that moment it hadn’t fully hit me exactly what that entailed. Somehow, at that moment, I came to the realization that one day, I would completely cease to exist. It would be like I was asleep, but permanent. I would not be conscious ever again. The events of the world would go on, but I would not be around to witness them. The entirety of what it meant to be me – seeing, feeling, thinking, perceiving – would come to an end.

That thought disturbed me tremendously. It caused a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. After a while, I fell asleep. Although I never again dedicated significant amounts of time to focusing on that realization, the knowledge of my mortality has been around ever since, an ominous presence lurking in the back of my mind.

Last October, my grandfather passed away. He was 91, had lived a full life, and suffered from various medical conditions that were gradually growing worse and reducing his quality of life. Over the past four months, my mom has struggled with this loss more than I have (not surprising since it is usually considered a bigger loss to lose a parent than a grandparent). One day she asked me how I was able to handle my grandfather’s death without getting sad. I thought this over for a while and then answered:

For me, Papa’s death is not truly a loss. First of all, because his medical conditions caused him so much discomfort and so many limitations, he is better off dead than continuing with that same quality of life. But more than that, the experiences that I’ve had with Papa are not gone. The memories of playing poker, watching football, and going to the racetrack with him, are still inside me. They always will be. Papa’s death means, of course, that no new experiences with Papa will take place. No more memories will be added to the collection. But that is okay. I am happy with the existing collection of experiences and memories, and that collection remains intact.

Papa dressed as Napoleon for my 13th birthday

My feelings about the loss of my grandfather stand in sharp contrast with my feelings about the destruction of historical statues and monuments that has taken place over the past two years. Although I love my grandfather very much, the latter has proven far more painful for me. I think often about the reasons why this might be the case. Why am I not able to view the deaths of the statues that I love in the same way that I view the death of Papa?

Perhaps it is because statues, unlike human beings, are supposed to last forever. They are not supposed to die. The loss of them was not a possibility that I ever considered I might one day have to deal with. Perhaps it is because, unlike my grandfather who died of natural causes, the statues were killed on purpose. Perhaps it is because, with the exception of the statue of Christopher Columbus in Boston, I had not actually seen these statues in person. The knowledge that they existed was enough to fill me with happiness. I intended to visit them eventually but hadn’t yet made specific travel plans. Now, because people decided to brutally and selfishly destroy them, I will never get to view these monuments, photograph them, take in the atmosphere surrounding them, or simply be in their presence. Now, I am robbed of the ability to ever have those experiences. I am robbed of exciting and interesting things to look forward to, robbed of any desire to explore the world around me, and robbed of hope for the future.

Maybe one day the anguish, grief, and rage that I feel will fade into the background and become bearable. Maybe there will be more days when I am able to go about my routine with lightness in my heart and images of beauty in my mind, and fewer days when I am completely beaten down by the leaden, sickening feeling of overwhelming injustice and loss. But more than one year and eight months after these disastrous events began, that has not yet happened. For now, the pain continues unabated.

bookmark_borderThe blizzard of 2022

In this blog post, I will be taking a break from politics to focus on something less controversial but still interesting: weather!

Today I made a brief expedition outdoors into the “Blizzard of 2022.” As someone on the autism spectrum, I have particular sensitivities to wind, cold, and precipitation, which arguably makes going out into a blizzard potentially one of the dumbest things to do. However, I also enjoy photography and exploring and documenting the world around me. So I decided to venture out into the frozen tundra that is Malden, Massachusetts.

The thing that was most remarkable about today’s blizzard was the almost complete lack of visibility. From inside my house, I could barely see the (admittedly few) vehicles passing by on the street, something that hasn’t been the case during any previous snowstorm. As soon as I stepped outside, the wind almost literally hit me like a ton of bricks. It forced me to walk backwards down my driveway in order to avoid snow violently pelting my face. Fortunately, because of the direction the wind was blowing in, I was able to resume normal walking when I reached the end of the driveway.

Everything around me was white and/or gray, the only pops of color being street signs, traffic lights, a fire hydrant, a flag, and occasional red leaves still clinging to branches. As I made my way down the street, the snow for the most part was higher than the tops of my boots. Because of the vicious wind, the snow was much deeper in some places on the sidewalk than others. I tried, with mixed success, to step in the random places with relatively little snow in order to avoid snow getting into my boots and making my feet disgustingly wet and cold.


I passed through the large intersection where my house is located, and headed down the street past a playground, tennis courts, soccer field, baseball diamond, and cemetery, taking photos as I went. Very quickly, my fingers began to hurt because it was so cold, so I put gloves on.



Along the way, a few plow trucks passed, as well as the occasional car, but for the most part the landscape was eerily deserted.

I proceeded to the pond at the end of the street, surrounded by a park and wooded area. The pond itself was almost invisible in the blowing snow, but I took some photos of the view. I considered turning back at that point, but the sidewalk going around the pond had some relatively snow-free parts, either because someone had shoveled or because the wind had blown the snow away. So I followed it for a bit and took pictures of picnic benches, a trash can, and some trees.





By that point, my fingers were hurting even with the gloves, and a sudden, particularly violent gust of wind came out of nowhere and made me scream in pain, so I knew it was time to head home. Unfortunately, because I was now walking in the opposite direction than I had been before, I once again faced a situation where snow was being violently and ceaselessly whipped directly into my face. Because this is something that I find physically painful due to my sensory sensitivities, I opted to walk backwards along the sidewalk for most of my journey home. In addition to looking extremely strange, this made it difficult to navigate the uneven snow and, alas, resulted in more instances of accidentally stepping into really deep snow and getting my feet soaked.

As my luck would have it, the only person that I saw on my exploration was a guy shoveling his walkway, whom I passed while walking backwards and simultaneously muttering about how annoying it was that the wind was forcing me to walk backwards. Oops. Another interesting thing I noticed while walking home was that my footprints, left just a little while earlier, were almost completely gone! A testament to how much snow was coming down and how wildly it was blowing around.

By the time I got back to my house, my hands were numb, my face hurt, my feet were disgustingly wet and cold, and I was quite irritated at the wind and the fact that it had put me in the position of either walking backwards or being subjected to constant torture for my entire walk home.

Even though one would expect a blizzard to be cold and windy, the Blizzard of 2022 was even colder and windier than I expected. It was striking how deserted the streets and sidewalks were, and how severely visibility was affected. Overall, I guess I’m glad that I went. I am definitely happy to be indoors with a cup of (decaf) coffee, looking out the window at the plows doing their job and the snow glittering quietly on the ground.

bookmark_borderA tiny sliver of justice

A couple days ago, someone on Twitter wrote a nasty reply to one of my tweets. I clicked on this person’s username to find out more about them and to view the rest of their tweets and found that their page was filled with exceedingly vicious content ridiculing and insulting Ashli Babbitt, the woman who was killed by a police officer while protesting at the Capitol building on January 6, 2021.

First of all, in his/her bio, this person (and I use that term loosely) bragged about having been blocked by an account dedicated to remembering and seeking justice for Babbitt, as well as an account dedicated to supporting the January 6 defendants. The fact that someone would brag about having acted nastily towards people who stand up for justice and fight back against authority is messed-up and bizarre.

This “person” repeatedly tweeted images of Babbitt bleeding to death on the floor of the Capitol building, accompanied by words ridiculing and insulting her and calling her a domestic terrorist.

In response to tweets about an artist’s tribute to Babbitt, the “person” responded with something to the effect of “my dog creates tributes to Babbitt twice a day,” accompanied by a picture of a dog going to the bathroom.

The “person” suggested to those who wish to commemorate Babbitt on the anniversary of her death that if they cannot find a suitable picture of Babbitt, they should instead use a picture of Timothy McVeigh, Charles Whitman, or another name from a list of murderers.

The “person” claimed that Babbitt’s family and friends were to blame for her death for failing to attempt to persuade Babbitt to change her political views, and that if they truly loved her they would have intervened to try to change her views as opposed to accepting her for who she was. (This despite the fact that trying to change who someone is as opposed to accepting them is immoral and the opposite of love.)

In tweet after tweet, this “person” repeatedly ridiculed and insulted Babbitt, the January 6 defendants, and anyone who had the audacity to express support for them.

In short, this person went out of his/her way to take the side of an authoritarian government against a woman brutally killed by said government. This person, who lives in a society where the political establishment and the majority of the population shares his/her views, and therefore where he/she gets his/her way on essentially every policy issue, chose to ridicule and insult a woman who was killed for questioning authority and expressing political dissent. This is incomprehensible, disgusting, repulsive, and despicable. 

Tonight, I returned to Twitter to look up this person’s account again for the purpose of composing a blog post criticizing them, only to find that their nasty reply to me, and their account itself, appear to be gone. 

So instead of rebutting the person’s disgusting statements point by point with screenshots, the only thing I have to say in this blog post is that a tiny sliver of justice appears to have been done. Whether the “person” deleted their nasty reply to me, deleted their account entirely, or had their account deleted by Twitter for violating its terms of service, the world is a better place without such nastiness in it. It is always a victory when a blog post rebutting someone’s disgusting statements turns out to be unnecessary.

bookmark_borderStop the Mandates rally in Boston

Today I attended an event called the “Show Up Strong: Stop the Mandates” rally in Boston, MA. Several hundred people gathered outside the State House to protest against vaccine mandates in general, and the city of Boston’s vaccine mandate for restaurants, gyms, theaters, and sporting events in particular. 

As a band played pro-freedom rock music, protesters lined both sides of Beacon Street, holding signs, waving flags, and chanting “Wu Has No Heart.” I held a sign that read, “My body my Choice / No vaccine mandates.” Starting a few minutes after noon, a variety of speakers addressed the crowd from the steps in front of the State House, including a state representative, a rabbi, the owner of a popular Italian restaurant, the chairman of the Constitution Party, a veteran and gym owner, a police sergeant who lost her job for opting against the vaccine, and an occupational therapist who lost her job for the same reason. The crowd of protesters was racially and politically diverse. Unsurprisingly, Gadsden flags, F— Biden flags, Trump signs, and “Let’s Go Brandon” apparel dotted the crowd, but there were also left-leaning types and signs containing the “A” for anarchy symbol. People of all races danced and chanted about love, truth, health, and freedom. 

Numerous drivers honked their horns and gave the thumbs up from their vehicles as they drove past, including a UPS driver, a school bus driver, a taxi driver, and drivers from various food companies, a flower shop, HVAC companies, and construction companies. A pickup truck with signs saying “Impeach Biden” and “Impeach Warren” drove by several times, honking loudly to express support. Photographers and videographers from various news outlets captured images of the crowd, and a few police officers milled about.

The only aspect of the rally that I did not enjoy was the weather. As someone on the autism spectrum, I am particularly sensitive to cold, wind, and rain, and I considered not attending because the forecast called for exactly those things. A cold rain came and went throughout the afternoon, not enough of a downpour to drench anyone, but enough to make everything and everyone damp and shivering. 

Shortly before 2:00, the protesters took to the streets, marching from the State House to City Hall (where Mayor Michelle Wu had decided to close the building and order staff to work from home) past Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market and on to the North End. Chanting “Let’s Go Brandon,” “Shame on Wu,” and “My Body, My Choice,” we took over the streets of Boston, forcing cars to stop and paying no attention to traffic lights. At the head of the procession were people with bullhorns, as well people holding a large banner that read, “Medical freedom: the new civil rights movement.” Along the way, people going about their business stopped to watch and take videos on their phones. Construction workers in bright yellow vests cheered, and old guys hanging out near the “Connah Store” clapped their hands. People peered down from the windows of apartment buildings, some flashing the thumbs up, some simply gawking in curiosity, and only one giving the middle finger. Along the way, we passed the statue of boxer Tony DeMarco. Noticing that someone had placed a mask on the statue’s face, one of the rally leaders promptly removed the mask and threw it on the ground.

At 2:30, we arrived at the Paul Revere statue in the North End, where we posed for a group photo and sang “America the Beautiful” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” By the time the march concluded, I was shivering uncontrollably from the cumulative amount of time spent in the cold and rain, and my hands were numb. My sign, as well as numerous other people’s signs, was soaked, and the letters were starting to smudge. However, it would be a no-brainer to say that I was glad I went. All of the horrible things happening in the world have really been getting me down, particularly comments on social media saying that people like me are not welcome in Boston and that we should stay out of “their” city. Participating in this rally and march gave me the sense that I am not alone and that I do have a place in the city of Boston. Marching en masse through the streets, bringing traffic to a halt, and attracting stares from passerby, was truly a powerful and exhilarating experience. For a couple hours, at least, I felt that I had a voice and a community. That in itself is a big victory.

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