How to unscrew.

Grocery stores on the west coast had to shut down last week.

Workers pulled meat and perishables off the shelves because refrigerators were malfunctioning under the extreme temperatures. They threw away what had already gone bad and covered the rest in plastic to keep it from thawing. That’s what happened in Washington during a heat dome that killed hundreds and split roads open. Massive pyro-storms unleashed hundreds of thousands of lightning strikes across Canada over a single night. Entire towns burned to the ground. Once again, meteorologists told everyone they’d “never seen anything like this.”

But we have.

Every day…


Our survival depends on it.

In 1955, Jonas Salk saved the world.

He developed a vaccine for polio, a brutal disease that terrorized humanity for decades. Then he did the unthinkable.

He gave it away.

Salk continued to do research on medicine. In 1981, he started working on a book titled A New Reality, which his son Jonathan finished decades later. It just might save the world again, if we listen. The ideas here explain exactly what’s going on in western countries, especially our problems with inequality and injustice. The key problem? …


Inequality relies on emotional invalidation.

Invalidation happens everywhere these days, especially cults of wannabe entrepreneurs who worship at the altar of “personal responsibility.” Ask anyone with a little firsthand experience.

It doesn’t stop there.

We have politicians who grew up on welfare chanting to gut it for everyone else. We have politicians who giggle about dying children. We have “news anchors” who lie for money. No, they don’t speak for everyone. They speak for tens of millions, though, and that’s too many if you ask me.

I’ve felt what invalidation does.

My mom used to pull me aside to say, “You’re not abused. You know…


The question is, do they?

The water in our toilet froze at night.

Room temperature hovered in the 40s during the day. At night, we ran space heaters to keep from freezing. We couldn’t use them all the time. It jacked up the electric bill, sometimes above $300. I did little exercises to warm up my fingers before using the computer. I walked a mile to work when it was -20 degrees, to save on gas (and because I didn’t have a parking space). You’d be surprised what your body gets used to.

That went on for a few years. It’s how I lived as…


Expression takes different forms

a racoon peering over a large garbage bin
a racoon peering over a large garbage bin

I’ve been called “nasty” before.

I’ve been described as rude or mean for telling my truth in ways that made someone else squirm a little. I’ve also been ignored for speaking my mind too quietly, and for being too subtle. Sometimes I’ve even muffled myself in order to protect someone else’s feelings. It never turned out well for anyone. Maybe you know what I’m talking about.

Maybe you’ve been there.

In the south, we have very polite upbeat politicians who only share “good news,” when they’re not banning books. Guess what? It fails. Scores of people are getting sick with…


Not all women, either…

In linguistics, there’s a concept known as speech repair. When two people miscommunicate, they collaborate for a resolution.

Sometimes it’s over the definition of a word. Other times, it’s over different life experiences that inflect the way we talk or write. Repair means you trace the source of the misunderstanding, then you have the conversation again. You repeat yourself with a correction.

Speech repair plays a huge role in how we learn languages. It plays an even bigger role in how we deal with conflict.

I’m not a big fan of apologies.

I’m a fan of repair.

Here’s a little…


It requires a lifetime of care.

One puts oneself through such psychological damage trying to avoid the threat of insanity, you start to approach the very thing you’re scared of.

— David Bowie

“There’s a 24-hour Kroger. I’ll be back soon.”

That’s what I said to my brother one night as we cleaned my mom’s pee and poop off the carpet. I’m using the word poop here to introduce a little levity. It’s a useful coping mechanism.

Anyway, we were out of cleaning product. My brother said, “Don’t worry about it. This isn’t your job anymore.”

“It’s fine.”

This was just another night. We were lucky…


A lesson on fairness.

Another writer recently published an essay about fairness, calling anyone who writes about injustice “an adult baby.” It describes fairness as some kind of utopia, where everyone’s a billionaire.

It bothered me.

Sometimes I have to wrestle with a difficult question.

Would I go back and change my life?

For me, the answer is no.

I’m mostly fine with how things turned out. My mom suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. She spent most of my birthdays in a mental hospital. The times she didn’t, I wished she had. I wanted her to stay there forever. …


Understanding anti-science conspiracies.

Our hospitals are full again.

We’re literally out of beds. If someone has an accident, or a heart attack, they’re screwed. Soon doctors and nurses will start sending patients to other hospitals, or back home to die — like last winter. This is what it’s like to live in the middle of anti-vaxx country. While everyone else is trying to get back to normal, we’re headed for our worst surge yet.

Moms are confessing their sins on social media. They’re telling the world how they infected their children as they lie in the background — breathing through a tube. Teens…


They just need gullible voters.

We finally have the proof. Russia helped Trump get elected, according to documents leaked by someone in The Kremlin.

Yawn.

Nobody I know cares. Like, at all. We know what crimes were committed. There was a time when we all wanted justice. Now we know better. Justice strikes like lightning, at random.

Here’s what does matter:

Our kids won’t get to start school next month, because our states are neck-deep in waves of Covid. Our relatives won’t get vaccinated. We don’t know if we’ll ever get to visit our families again. Russia didn’t do that to us. Neither did Trump…

Jessica Wildfire

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