Judge Dread

I know the degree to which this is ridiculous, but I have been so stressed out because of jury duty. I got to go to work on Friday, and was able to take care of a few things, but I spent most of the weekend wrapping up projects and preparing to be out for the week. I don’t consider myself to be an especially flexible person, and I am a planner to the point of fault. I struggle with uncertainty, and my goodness it is rough to not know what the schedule is during jury duty.

Someone at work said, “Just think of it like you’re on vacation” regarding getting work stuff done. But, it’s not the same at all. For one, I’m not in a fun place, so that is a dumb point. Secondly, when I go on vacation, I spend weeks preparing so that everything that can possibly be taken care of is complete before I leave. I prepare information for the people who work with me and report to me so they know the status of everything I was working on, and spreadsheets of where to find various documents or resources they may need. I create more spreadsheets of who can be contacted as a back up in case an unexpected situation arises. So, basically, I just assault people with spreadsheets until they submit and are afraid of the sheer number of columns. And I didn’t have time! I do my best to make sure my coworkers are not inconvenienced by my absence. When I am out sick, I am still available via phone and email, and respond to people so that they can continue their work. A last minute week to a week and a half away from work is causing me GREAT ANXIETY. I know that everything will be fine, but my civic duty is really inconvenient right now.

Hannibal! I am into the third season now, and as Jennifer noted, it is “artsy.” I don’t understand a lot of what is happening, but it’s quite pretty. Also, did Alana’s fall knock some lesbian into her? I’m so confused. I don’t believe that sexuality is discrete data with clear categories, but I felt like the scene where she is in bed with the Verger sister came out of nowhere. Her style also totally changed. Before she wore a lot of tight wrap dresses and now she kind of dresses like Hannibal and wears bright lipstick (she looks amazing, but still, it’s totally different). I assumed at first that she had transitioned to pants because the shoes would be more practical for a healing pelvis, but everything is different. I love a sharp suit on a lady, but I missed where and how this all evolved. Oh well, good for her.

Gillian Anderson also talks SO SLOWLY in this show and I find myself wanting to scream “SPIT IT OUT.” Anyway, struggling through this season. I hate knowing that it is the last one and had an abrupt end. I am preparing myself for an unsatisfactory ending.

Other than working, I made it to OTF on Saturday morning and Sari and I went to see Thoroughbreds on Sunday afternoon. We were both excited to see it, but it was beyond slow. Lots of scenes of staring and chewing.

I survived my first day of trial yesterday, and I am dreading deliberation. The judge said it can take DAYS and ain’t nobody got time for that. Just getting through the basic instructions to the jury was absolute misery.

Marvelous Woman Monday

There is no other way to describe Phoolan Devi other than complete and total badass. She is a controversial character, but a deeply interesting woman. Devi was known as the “Bandit queen” after she essentially become the Robin Hood of India. Oh, and then she went on the become a Member of Parliament. Not a gal to be trifled with.

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Phoolan was born in 1963 into a low-caste family in poverty in rural Uttar Pradesh, India. She got her start as an outraged woman when her cousin tried to cut down a tree on their property which she felt was his family’s effort to establish control over the family land. Despite being only 11, she took to publicly taunting her much older cousin. She eventually gathered a few girls from the village to stage a sit-in on the land, but she was eventually beaten unconscious with a brick when she wouldn’t abandon the protest. BEATEN UNCONSCIOUS WITH A BRICK. Age 11. Jesus.

Shortly after the incident, a marriage was arranged for with a man who was at least 15 years older than her (accounts vary on his age) and lived a few hundred miles away. Her family traded her for a cow. Unsurprisingly, she suffered sexual and physical abuse at his hands. When she tried to run away, she was sent back by her family who deemed her a disgrace. Phoolan was 11.

Her cousin (of the tree drama) lied to the police and claimed that she had stolen from him, so Devi was jailed for a few days. During her imprisonment, she was physically abused. After sending generous gifts, her family convinced her husband to take her back. The abuse began again and several accounts of her life include marital rape. She managed to run away again, and this time became a social outcast for abandoning her husband. This all happened at just 16 years of age.

It is unclear as to how it transpired, but Phoolan fell in with a gang of bandits (dacoits). The situation immediately went south when the leader of the gang attempted to rape her after she refused his attempts at courting. He was killed by Vikram Mallah who then took leadership of the gang. It was not long before they were living together. A few weeks after their relationship began, Phoolan and members of the gang attacked her husband. She herself dragged him out of the house and stabbed him. He was left for dead (tragically, he did not die) with a note for warning older men not to marry younger girls.

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I don’t typically condone violence, but I am okay with all of this. Don’t abuse children and you won’t get shanked in the night, okay? On the bright side, because he was still legally married to Phoolan, he was never able to marry again. He lived out the remainder of his life as a recluse because the townsfolk were worried that association with him would bring the violence of the bandits.

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Phoolan was the only female member of the gang, and she was soon participating in gang activities in upper-caste villages. This included looting, kidnapping prosperous people for ransom, and highway robberies targeting the wealthy. Things started to fall apart in the gang as jealousy and dislike over Phoolan erupted. Eventually, a gun fight ensued and Vikram and Phoolan escaped alone in the night. They were eventually tracked down and Vikram was murdered. The victors took Phoolan to a house in Behmai village where she was beaten and raped for three weeks. Two members of the gang who were in her same caste helped her escape, and she started a new gang.

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She eventually went back to the Behmai village to seek revenge on those who had abused her. She couldn’t find the original men, so instead she lined up every man of the caste that her abusers had been in (Rajput). A total of 22 Rajput men were murdered. Phoolan absolved herself by claiming that she had not actually pulled a trigger. While the murders were regarded as outrageous by the upper caste, those in the lower castes and the “untouchables” believed she was an incarnation of the Goddess Durga.

Phoolan was on the run for two years when Indira Gandhi’s government negotiated a surrender. Phoolan was in poor health, and in 1983 she agreed to surrender. The surrender took place in Chambal ravines in front of a crowd of around 10,000 people and 300 police. She was charged with 48 crimes, but sat in prison while her trial was delayed for 11 years. She was finally released on parole in 1994 and the cases against her were withdrawn.

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She married Ummed Singh and in 1995 converted to Buddhism. Two years after her release from prison, she won an election as a Member of Parliament of the 11th Lok Sabha. She lost in 1998, but was reelected in 1999. She was a sitting Member of Parliament when she was shot dead by three masked gunmen in July 2001 outside of her home in Delhi. The single man convicted for her death claimed that his actions were in revenge for the men who had been gunned down in Behmai.

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Her life was a controversial one and not without violence, but what an incredible story. It is a tragedy that at 37 she was murdered when she had just found a way to make change in a world that had so brutally abused her.

More reading:

“India’s Bandit Queen: A saga of revenge—and the making of a legend of ‘the real India'”


Killer of Phoolan Devi, India’s ‘Bandit Queen’, given life sentence
Phoolan Devi
Phoolan Devi: A Dacoit, a Rape Survivor, a Politician, a Legend
Remembering the Bandit Queen: 10 things to know about Phoolan Devi
Who was Phoolan Devi, India’s original ‘Bandit Queen’?

Hate Skate

I was planning to go camping this weekend, but anxiety and tiredness got the better of me. I typically pack the weekend before I go somewhere, but as of Thursday night I had not gotten a single thing ready, so I took that as a sign. I am glad I cancelled because I didn’t realize how much work I needed to get taken care of this weekend. Sometimes you just have to let it go I suppose.

I got home from work on Friday night and immediately fell asleep for two hours. I was quite bewildered when I woke up. I managed to stay awake for another hour, then went to bed at 10 and proceeded to sleep for 10 more hours. I do not know what is going on with me. I barely managed to get myself to Orange Theory on Saturday morning, but i had to since it was it was the first time I’ve gone in a couple of weeks.

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I am a bit relieved that the Olympics are actually over now because I completely rearranged my life around them and totally stopped trying to exercise. It’s ridiculous, but whatever. I am also still having feelings about Zagitova winning gold. I normally like a more athletic skater, but loading all of her jumps on the back end of the performance for extra points didn’t work for me. It seemed like she spent half the program just skating back and forth across the ice, then the latter half just JUMP JUMP JUMP. It didn’t feel like a performance at all. I thought Medvedeva had both the technical perfection and the artistry, and I am BITTER that she lost.

It’s Michelle Kwan all over again! The injustice of it all! Tara Lipinski’s op-ed about why American women aren’t medaling in figure skating was interesting. I still think Kwan and Medvedeva are the better skaters, but I understand how Zagitova leveraged the system to her advantage. It’s also crazy to me that neither of these skaters will likely be back because Russia has a figure skating farm. There’s a thirteen year old who almost landed a quad salchow in competition. THIRTEEN! Anyway, I have a lot of thoughts on this considering I can’t hardly stay upright on ice for even a few seconds.

While watching curling (which scientists can’t even agree on how it works, so HA) on Saturday, I did some meal prep. I’ve been basically living on candy and bread for the past couple of weeks, so I needed to get it together. That night we went to brewery in Elk Grove with Tracy and Matt. We tried a bunch of their beer while playing games until they closed. We got a little miffed because 30 minutes before they closed they just shut down the bathroom for no reason. When we asked about it, they told Tracy that she could use the mirror for “selfies” but the bathroom was otherwise closed. It wasn’t even out of order! You own an establishment where people are DRINKING and you won’t let them use the bathroom! We were outraged.

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I spent Sunday catching up on work and prepping more food to freeze for lunches. I also finished this season of Victoria and just BREAK MY HEART why don’t you. I was so so happy for Lord Alfred and Drummond, then devastated the next episode.

Also, Albert hate skating on that pond cracked me up. He’s so emo – even for a German.

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I also finally started Hannibal and whoa I made the huge mistake of eating beef stew while watching.

I am about halfway through the first season and Mads Mikkelsen is so handsome and I loooooooooove Beverly so much. She is not here for your baseless assumptions!


I am not done talking about guns! Yay! To start with some humor, the best part of the gun control debate are all of the people I know who are talking about what responsible gun owners they are. Having known them for my entire life, I heartily disagree with several of them (also, if we start denying guns to assholes, then they are out of a hobby). One in particular was passionately writing about how her entire family are responsible law-abiding citizens who don’t deserve to have their guns “taken away because of other idiots.” I swear to God, her son not only accidentally shot a hole in the floorboard of his truck, but he did so THROUGH HIS OWN FOOT. There’s your idiot. Image result for tina fey sarah palin gun gif

I’ve also been disappointed by the number of people who I like and respect who have blamed this on the “pussification of a generation” and “weakness.” I don’t know what planet they live on, but calling people weak or “pussies” is exactly they kind of behavior that keeps people from asking for all that mental health help that will solve everything. And, it contributes to the toxic masculinity that drives these shooters. Sarah Palin’s own son has this problem.

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On to the main point of today which is talking about Trumps’s comments about arming teachers in the classroom. To anyone who agrees with this, have you actually lost your minds? Teachers already work in a largely underappreciated and underpaid profession, so if they wanted to add a gun to that job, then they would have just signed up to be police officers. Arming teaching is honest to God one of the stupidest ideas coming out of this entire debate, but let’s talk it out.

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First, teachers are already spending hundreds of dollars on basic school supplies, so who do you think is going to pay for the training and buying of an actual firearm? Hmmm?  If a teacher brings their personal firearm, are there rules around what they can have? Who is responsible for that gun when it is fired? What happens if a student steals it or it is damaged? What kind of firearm do they get? Do they get to pick? Is it a shotgun or Glock or AR-15? Who buys it? Is it school issued? Who maintains the safety and function of the firearm? Is the district going to pay for training? Will there be a shooting range on campus so that teachers can spend their free period (which many don’t even have anymore) practicing shooting instead of grading or providing support to students? Or do teachers have to pay to go to a gun range on their own?

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Storage. Where is the gun stored? Is it in the desk? Do teachers get new desks that students can’t easily break into (have you seen how janky most teacher’s desks are???)? Does the teacher carry it on his or her person? Are you going to have a gun safe? Who is paying for the gun safe? Who is maintaining the gun safe? Is the campus going to hire a master-at-arms? Who has access to the safe? How much time will it take to open when there is a shooter charging down the hall? Is the gun in there unloaded or is it loaded? How much time will it take to load? Who will ensure there are enough bullets? Are you ready to pay more taxes to fund this?

If the teacher has to leave the classroom with the gun to get to the school shooting range or off-campus to practice, then how do they get the gun safety from storage to the range? Who ensures the safety of the students and the teachers when the gun is out of storage? Is someone going to check that gun in and out each time? Who is going to make sure the gun is in the safe every day and that it hasn’t been stolen by a rogue teacher or student? Do substitute teachers get access to the safe and have to demonstrate gun proficiency before they can cover a class?

What if a teacher doesn’t want to have a gun in the classroom? Do they have a right to opt out? What if they have religious objections? What if parents don’t want their students in a classroom with a firearm? What if a teacher fires on a student who they *think* has a gun? Do teachers get immunity for shooting students who aren’t armed? Who is going to pay their legal fees and keep them out of prison? I have issues with police shootings that involve them *thinking* that a person might have a gun, and they are actually trained and prepared for that kind of situation. Are you okay with that being your kid who gets shot because someone thinks he has a gun? And how many stories do we see of kids who bring a gun or something that looks like a gun to school? Do they deserve to die for making a bad decision even though they didn’t fired it?

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What happens when a kid gets that gun or overpowers the teacher? I’ve seen fifth graders who are taller than me. Also, knowing the nature of most people who work in education, I can’t even fathom putting my teacher friends in a position where they even have to think about shooting and possibly killing a student. In my experience in education, the majority of people will go to the ends of the earth to help a student get the support and resources they need to be healthy and successful. Maybe I’m just a big ol’ pussy, but I cannot even fathom shooting at a student under any circumstances.

So, once teachers take that shot, what are chances that they are actually hitting the intended target and not your kid who is desperately running down the hall away from the shooter? The NYPD has “some of the most comprehensive and sophisticated firearms training of any police force in the country,” yet they still only hit their targets an estimated 30% of the time. Is this because they are just a shitty shot? No, it’s because firing “accurately in a stressful situation is extremely hard.”

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As I said before, I have a lot of other thoughts about police shootings, but I have no doubt that it is an extremely stressful situation. So, if police officers who are rigorously trained to use a firearm miss their targets 70% of the time, then what does that mean for a teacher? What happens to the teacher who accidentally shoots innocent bystanders? Also, millions of people in this country live with mental illness. Some of those people are educators. Are teachers who are good enough to teach your kids not good enough to have access to a firearm to protect them? Do people stop hiring teachers with mental health issues because they can no longer access a firearm? How are you going to work that out?

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What are you going to do when we lose thousands of outstanding educators because they refuse to work if they or their peers are armed? We already have a teacher shortage!!!!! The last thing we need are less teachers. It’s already hard enough to convince people to do that job and then to keep doing it.

Until we are wiling to stop creepy, angry, narcissistic men from accessing firearms, then I’m still going with “No one becomes a mass shooter without a mass-shooting gun.” And, if you’re a Texan of a certain age, then you’re going to come back with “BUT LUBY’S.” Yes, George Hennard (who did NOT have mental illness, but hated women, was racist, and was known for his explosive temper) killed 23 people at a Luby’s in 1991 with a Glock 17 and a Ruger P89. Yes, those are both pistols and not assault rifles. You know what else he had though? High capacity magazines. But can you imagine how much more horrible it could have been if he had an AR-15 and hundreds of bullets that could be shot in minutes? The Texas Legislature was scheduled to vote the next day on an anti-crime bill that would have banned some weapons and magazines that were similar to the ones he used. GUESS WHAT? It did not pass.

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Suzanna Hupp, who was at the massacre and watched both of her parents be murdered by Hennard, lobbied that she would have been able to stop him had she had her gun on her. Then Governor Ann Richards was against concealed carry, but when George W. Bush took office in 1995, he signed concealed carry into law. Instead of limiting access to especially dangerous guns, Texas opened the gates.

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