The Winter Fundraiser ends here. Instead of a bang or a whimper, let’s go out in full voice with hope for the future, whatever it holds…
We ran out of time before we ran out of Odd Jobs. Interesting ones remain, but I’ve asked the Baron to save the best of them for another time. The tale is worth the telling, but we’ve past the right time — the kairos moment — to pass it on. However, it could well serve as the foundation for another theme in another quarter — closer perhaps to Christmas.
Looking Back One Last Time
We also ran out of time before I was able to adequately ‘end’ my own recitation of Odd Jobs. We (rightly I think) focused on the enormous changes which occurred when the Baron’s good friend invited him to do real work — you know, the kind where you dress up in business clothing and go to an office to work with grown-ups? This new job required new clothing, and even where men’s attire was concerned, discovering what they now wore had a learning curve. Many years before, when this same friend got married, the Baron was woefully ill-dressed for their wedding; our friends always had great forbearance. They could have said, “Hey, you know those two paintings we bought at the last show? How about you take some of the proceeds and get some threads for our wedding, dude… oh, wait. Maybe not “threads”. He was already wearing those. But you get the idea.
The start of that job was an abrupt right turn in the Garden of Forking Paths and it happened just in time. The future Baron’s college expenses loomed, and there was that last piece of high school tuition to get through. I am still amazed at the way things seemed to just ‘happen’… even though, in hindsight, each step of the way seemed to follow naturally from the previous decision.
I was still working in town, but it was getting harder and harder to make the drive. I began to fall asleep at the wheel. Sometimes I would get to a job — a big house to clean — haul in my equipment and then sleep on the floor for an hour before I could start. Running up and down the stairs with my favorite heavy vacuum cleaner became harder and then it became impossible. I finally had to tell all my customers goodbye. I saw this as temporary and had no idea what was wrong except that I was sooo VERY tired. I couldn’t get enough sleep.
The exact order of things is gone now, but it probably took about seven years until we understood what was wrong. I began to have strange body aches and my doctor referred me to physical rehab. The exercises made my condition worse, so I’d sleep it off. By then our son was driving himself to school and the Baron was home twice a week to spend the night before returning to work. He had moved on from that first contract to consulting work in Richmond so it was easier for him to stay with family than make that long drive each day…
… After long months of fatigue I began to feel a bit better. Garden work before the weather turned very hot seemed to help, though I noticed I was losing my depth perception and even my proprioception. So I tripped over my own feet. A lot. If I remember correctly we went on vacation several times with friends but I mostly slept while they went out and did things. Thus began my years of “I’ll feel better tomorrow”…
The doctor nagged me to get a mammogram and they found a lump. Not a small lump, mind you, but one big enough for its own zip code. Within two weeks I’d had a full mastectomy, “just to be sure”. There was no hormonal involvement and no the nodes were free of any cancer cells. They tried to shoehorn me into a series of radiation treatments but I refused. I knew the chances of leukemia down the road if I were to agree to their “gold standard” of treatment. When I mentioned my concern about leukemia, the radiologist left mad, slamming the door behind her. I did reluctantly agree to chemotherapy and I regret doing so. In cases like mine, it’s a scam. In others, it might help but the whole Breast Cancer Awareness hype gave me the creeps. Chemo permanently altered/poisoned my brain and my ability to perceive. I never fully recovered from that “treatment”.
But to the extent I did recover, I wanted to try working again. This Odd Job was advertised in the paper — imagine, a job the old-fashioned way. The Drop-In Center for the chronic but stable mentally ill adults was looking for a case worker. Any previous mental illness would be considered a plus… I almost fell off the chair laughing. These people were going to love my PTSD.
Okay, it was a quasi-governmental job, partly funded by the local Community Services Board with some monies from the city. The latter had a vested interest in keeping the Center open since it was an alternative to having the rather fragrant homeless people sleeping in those pretty library chairs downtown. Win-win, right?
The job was part-time, which was ideal for me. It involved facilitating group discussions about the problems people encountered “out there”. I took people who weren’t homeless to the grocery store: we had a regularly scheduled run every Tuesday. Thursday was devoted to medication visits to the psychiatrist at the Community Services Board. It was my job to sit in and listen so I’d have some understanding of the person’s relationship to his or her very necessary medication; those meetings helped a great deal. I was in charge of pizza parties — actually those guys were in charge of it all — it was my job to make sure the oven was off and the food was put away.
And laundry was mine by choice: I helped homeless ‘customers’ figure out the washer and dryer and I nudged their own fine selves toward the shower so they’d smell as nice as their clothes. I began to see that brain disorders really can alter your senses; they had no idea how they smelled, not even when they came into the house after being out on a cold day and got the full frontal attack on their own olfactory nerves from their warm friends sitting around on those grimy couches… “Smell? What smell?” That extended to their sense of taste, too. Many of my new friends loved cold things or spicy foods. They liked — or strongly disliked — certain textures. Ice cream was a favorite, though a number of them were indifferent to flavor, just concerned whether or not it had “lumps and bits” in it. Some loved the chunks; others were suspicious of them.
I told the director if they hired me someone else would have to do the bureaucratic record-keeping since I was allergic to government forms. He got that completely and immediately: we arranged that each day I’d spend a few minutes telling someone in the office what I’d done that day — e.g., who I’d helped and what form my “help” had taken. They’d jot it down and at the end of the month, I’d sign off on my record so they could keep the funding flowing.
I started a flower garden after the first month. There were three steps leading up to the porch and next to the steps was a retaining wall filled with both city dirt and more than its fair share of cigarette butts, coffee lids, and other urban detritus. The director thought it was a great idea to put in some flowers so one of our… err… “customers” [“stakeholders”, “clients” — oops, not clients, please. That was not politically correct anymore. Labeling is such manure; the euphemisms are like diapers. Eventually they smell as bad as the bad word they’d replaced] so one of our friends… was enthusiastic about digging in the dirt, too. I brought in some good country dirt, two pairs of garden gloves, and some soil amendments. We signed out enough petty cash to buy some six-packs of pansies. We drew out our “plan” and while we were planting, also made future plans for what to add when the hotter weather arrived. I was afraid that “youths” would come along and destroy our work, but we all agreed it was worth a try. The flowers remained unmolested.
I hadn’t been there long when my co-worker’s mental health “issues” began to affect her stability. I was fortunate; just plain old low-level PTSD had never interfered with reality. For my co-worker, her bipolar disorder had ruined her life over and over again. I saw first-hand that when one lived alone, or lived in a conflicted relationship, it was much harder to maintain one’s fragile equilibrium. I could see she was headed back to institutional care till she stabilized again. We all mourned the loss and I began to take on more of her tasks; I was aware that my very presence as her co-worker had helped drive her away.
The chance to work someone else into her slot — my fatigue was still too great to permit me to work full time — never came for me. Instead, the phone rang early one morning — far too early to be good news — and we learned that my daughter had died suddenly sometime during the night. Funny, but the funeral preparations remain clear to this day. When I woke up the next morning, having been to town to begin making arrangements, my daughter’s voice was clearly laughing. “Well, Mom, what are you going to do with this, the first day of the rest of your life without me?” As deeply sad as I was, she still could make me laugh — her specialty always had been the gallows humor bon mot. It seemed she would retain that quality.
Obviously the fatigue doubled back, but not immediately. I remember thinking that if I could just keep planning her funeral I could get by okay… forever. But once it was done, once family and friends had gone, I was so very tired. We jumped from that to the future Baron’s Eagle Scout ceremony and then his high school graduation, and then… he, too, was gone to a better place: college and a whole new life.
The Baron was such a solace. He had to return to work, but there was time to talk while he waited for programs to run or whatever it is senior analysts do. I had loved that last Odd Job at the Center; it was probably the most enjoyable usefulness I’d ever known — next to babies, anyway. But I couldn’t go back. It was the town where my daughter had lived. Her grave was so near to where I’d worked. The last time I saw her alive had been in that parking lot at the Center. No, there was no return. Besides, my strange symptoms were increasing…
By then I’d begun reading blogs on the internet. I was especially drawn to the Belmont Club. Wretchard’s essay was the first stop of my day. I began to comment and the Baron began commenting and reading. We became fascinated by this world, by finding kindred souls who bore the same concerns about where the world was headed. Gradually, the Baron began suggesting that we write a blog ourselves. I’d begun a journal-type blog meant for family and friends. A mom blog even though my “mom” duties were up. But this was a bigger idea: to begin to address our growing concern with the inroads Islam was making into our culture and with the degradation of that culture from the inside.
In addition, the Baron said he thought writing essays would help me through my grieving. As he’d said, it had been my intellect which had allowed me to survive before. Why not put it to work again? He was in Richmond and I was at home, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t weave a connection via the internet. He needed something too: his boy was grown and gone and the physical part of his father work was over. A blog would serve even better than Scrabble for entertainment. He chose the name — after explaining what had happened in Vienna (two times) and why the latest September 11th wasn’t the first attempt. His choice of nic made me laugh — an obscure, peripheral character from his favorite science fiction author slapped onto a picture of Otto von Bismarck. As for Dymphna, that patron saint of herbalists and lunatics, we could only find the kitsch statue. And someone else already had taken the “Saint” part, so Dymphna it was. Besides, her life paralleled my own, and she was Irish.
So here we are, almost 15,000 posts later. We still keep on keeping on, though we’re hoping for the next generations to begin showing up — and they are. In fact, here comes one now…
Looking Forward With Great Expectations
Meet a college student in Canada, a donor from this quarterly. She’s been talking to the Baron. First she said, along with her donation:
“The lights continue to dim in Europe, and it is only work such as yours that keeps them flickering. Odd job, but noble. Thanks.”
And then, when the Baron wrote to thank her, she followed on with this:
The increased traffic and those attacks mean you’re doing something right, and they’re getting increasingly nervous. Every attack, no matter what counter-jihad site, I consider a badge of honour.
My donation is a sacrifice I’m more than willing to make, because as I’ve said before, the price of truth is steep. It is sad that truth has a price at all, but that’s neither here nor there. You give us so much valuable information, it is the least I can do to help you out when you need it.
Your theme for this fundraiser, as always, got me thinking. Odd jobs: for a counter-jihad blog, the title is, dare I say, oddly fitting. It isn’t exactly the sort of job one can put on a resume, or announce at dinner parties. Perhaps what only adds to its oddity is that so few are willing to take it on.
In fact, it is probably the most grueling, miserable, and exhausting job there is. And yet, the tantalizing pay out at the end is worth it. Because, despite everything, doing this sort of odd job is right, and it needs to be done.
Even for myself, though I am a mere consumer and commentator on the blogs, this has become a bit of an odd job. Friends of mine, in fact, who know of my involvement in this movement, have often commented it’s like I have two jobs: my “regular people” job, and counter-jihad.
Of course, one friend slyly remarked that counter-jihad was more like my boyfriend, but that’s another matter entirely… !
When I first discovered counter-jihad less than a year ago, I had no idea the impact it would make on my life. I was in the midst of contemplating life after my undergrad, and searching through my options. Did I want to be a teacher? A lawyer? A perpetual student?
Fast forward to the present, and those jobs don’t seem to matter much anymore. How can they? Being a high-profile lawyer is not going to shield the West from submission into Islam, or in fact, shield me. I suppose if I become wealthy enough I could escape to some mythical tropical island, but I could never do that, knowing what I know, in good conscience.
Steadily, this “odd job” of mine has taken up more prominence in my life, infecting every facet, something I never intended or foresaw going when I first discovered GoV. Suddenly, my priority is informing as many people as I can (14 and counting so far!) about the truth about Islam, what’s really going on, and what movement is trying to stop it. Suddenly, I can see issues regarding Islam pop up in my own day to day life and interactions.
Suddenly, this is beginning to matter.
I’m sure it was a similar situation for you and other counter-jihad bloggers when they first began this journey, not sure how it would end up, or that someday your paymasters would take on international dimensions. I don’t think there’s anyone who suddenly woke up on morning and said, “From here on out, my career is being a counter-jihadist!” And yet, for many of you, that’s how it ends up.
I’ll leave you with an anecdotal example of the fruits of my (admittedly limited compared to your sacrifices) labour from this odd job. I’ve had a better response than I expected in slowly and strategically telling people of what I’m involved in and why. In fact, all of the 14 people I’ve so far told, have been supportive, and some are even more enthusiastic than I am!
And then, I’ve noticed, some are even telling their friends, who are telling their friends. I’ve had conversations like, “Hey, so I was talking to someone about immigration and Islam or whatever, and then I mentioned you — what was that thing you’re into again? Anti-?”
“Right! So anyway, yeah I mentioned that I had a friend who was really involved against that stuff, and they were like, ‘Well finally someone’s doing something about it!’ You guys have more support than you think.”
You have more support than you think. Something all of them have expressed to me. Such a sentiment is especially welcome for someone my age. It is my generation, after all, who have grown up indoctrinated from grade school in multicultural, Marxist dogma. That our history, our culture, our civilization was something to be ashamed of. It’s safe to say, the indoctrination has not infected all of us, and there are plenty of youth around who think like we do. Know in their hearts this is right. I’ve seen them with my own two eyes, in my own circle of friends and associates.
All they need is someone brave enough to stand up and say, “It’s okay to think like that. It’s right to resist what is being done to us.”
An odd job indeed.
I hope that this fundraiser surpasses your expectations just like the last one, and that you’ll be well-equipped to deal with more attempts to extinguish your light in the darkness. Your paymasters are as much indebted to you, as you are to us.
The Baron keeps the totals and he said this one did indeed “surpass expectations”. Our deep appreciation to all of you.
For this final accounting, here are the last of the places we’ve heard from:
Stateside: Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin
Near Abroad: Canada
Far Abroad: Australia, British Virgin Islands, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Israel, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, and the UK
Okay, y’all, let’s do this again. in May? June? Somewhere around there.
Maybe by then my fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue will be cured, right? Right!