Michelle's Musings

Fri
26
Mar
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Stop Asian Hate

When Donald Trump was running for office and began hateful rhetoric about immigration, immigrants and migrants, I became worried. When it looked like was going to win, I called my brother in Des Moines and insisted he get a passport. You see, my brother is Asian and a naturalized citizen. While I was expecting Trump to start banning migrants from the country, I also worried that he might turn on naturalized citizens as well if he didn’t like their race.

My brother thought I was overreacting, but with no parents, I feel the need to look out for him. Once he secured the passport, I was a little more at ease. If necessary, he could flee the country until Trump was gone, I thought.

Fri
19
Mar
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Overlapping Insurance

For over a decade my husband and I did not have employer subsidized health care insurance and have been at the mercy of the Health Care Marketplace, an entity that formed after the American Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, was put in place. Prior to the marketplace, before my husband and I were married, he had insurance through work, and I bought a private policy because I could not be on his coverage if we weren’t married. 

Fri
12
Mar
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I Learned it on YouTube

I love YouTube. Not for watching cat videos or bloopers or workout videos or any other number of videos to waste the day away, but as a means for instruction. Although, I will admit that there is one YouTube channel I follow for entertainment. TwinsthenewTrend is a favorite because these college age boys listen to an array of music they have never heard and give commentary. Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” is my personal favorite. 

Anyway, over the years I have learned how to do a plethora of repairs, crafts and even found story ideas. 

Mon
25
Jan
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Honoring Dr. King

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we honor King, and likely hindered the normal amount of volunteer hours people put in on Monday. Often the remembrance of his birthday, which was actually Jan. 15, is marked by volunteering within the community. 

Volunteerism is something that was important to King, and also something that was instilled in me early on. Helping others is something that anyone can do, and often only involves your time.

I was surprised to learn from a recent Middleton survey that volunteerism is low. Maybe it’s partly due to the pandemic because people are less inclined to leave their homes, or maybe people don’t know how to connect with volunteer organizations. 

Thu
14
Jan
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Looking for Hope

In January 2009, I was working at the Anamosa Journal-Eureka, a newspaper nestled in the rolling hills of Jones County, Iowa. It’s the county seat and a hotbed for political activity as the vast majority of presidential candidates visit the town at least once while campaigning.

My coworkers and I had all gathered around a single computer screen to watch the presidential inauguration of America’s first Black president, Barack Obama. Most of us had met, or at very least seen him on at least one occasion. He was charismatic, articulate, intelligent and laid back. He easily won over the people of Jones County in 2008 with his message of hope, his promises to repair infrastructure, end the war in Iraq and improve education. 

Thu
24
Dec
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Unmasked

I want to apologize to all of you that had the displeasure of seeing my unmasked face on Saturday at the Santa Parade in Middleton. 

As anyone who reads this column knows, I am a big proponent of mask wearing. I am not someone who weighs the risk of being outside versus inside, and absolutely refuse to do anything that requires removing a mask anywhere in public. I have been preaching it (and living it) since March. I wear a mask everywhere, even when I am outside hiking on the trails across from my house. Even though many people in the park are unmasked, I don’t trust that people stay home when they are sick, especially if it is a mild illness. 

Thu
17
Dec
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Postal Limbo

Not one, not two, but six packages that I sent more than a week ago seem to be lost in postal limbo. Some of these packages just contain a variety of candy that I spent an entire Saturday crafting. Each year I send tins full of treats to my relatives and, in I have no idea how many years, they have never been lost. 

In addition to the treats, which are not that big of deal, it’s the other presents, which included some holiday gifts and also my brother’s birthday present that I am displeased about. These are the items that will have to be replaced and will not make it in time for either his birthday or maybe even Jesus’. 

Sat
28
Nov
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Hugs

Many years ago, before I became an editor and subsequently jaded by “humanity,” I was a super hugger. I hugged everyone and everything all the time. It’s my family’s fault, they are all huggers and kissers and cheek pinchers. Gradually, though, I became more of a handshaker because people in a professional setting become troubled when you walk up and hug them at introduction.

I still hug strangers, often, or at least I did. I almost always, at very least, offer my hand to strangers and of course people I know through work. That has all changed in 2020.

Back in March people stopped touching each other. I remember being at the International Mustard Competition at the National Mustard Museum in early March and at that time people were bumping elbows rather than shaking hands. Then that came to a halt as well, replaced by a brief wave or nod from behind the disguise of a mask.

Fri
13
Nov
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Common Ground

I am not going to call for unity in the wake of this debacle of a presidential election. It seems too trite, simplistic and cliché to implement in a country that is divided in half.

That is not to say, however, that I don’t think we need to work together to find common ground because I think we fundamentally all want the same things as Americans. We want food, shelter, health care, education, religious freedom, living wages, a means of retirement and peace, just for starters. But it isn’t just Americans that want those things, people the world over wish for the same.

Thu
01
Oct
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RBG

Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) was a champion for human rights, those of women, minorities and the LBGT community. She was one of a small handful of women accepted at Harvard Law School in the early 1960s before transferring to Columbia Law School, something that was unheard of at the time.

I was 26 years old when she was appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), and remember it was a big deal because she was only the second female Supreme Court Justice and the first female Jewish justice. At that time, she was considered a moderate, and had previously been appointed to an appeals court in the District of Columbia by President Jimmy Carter. As the SCOTUS shifted to the right, she became a more liberal voice on the court and would often dissent.

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