All edited and unedited material to be published

Given the circumstances and essential need for some information to be shared as quickly as possible, I have temporarily relaxed my high standards for what I am publishing. Most of what I have written still needs editing, citations, etc. I have not had the time to perfect each piece of writing and realize now that if I continue to hold myself to such a high standard, the messages will be compromised.

Henceforth, all works in all states of complete or incompleteness will be published first and edited later. Desperate times call for desperate measures and I am not only a writer but also an activist and philosopher. We have a great need right now for writing that is uncensored. This is why you will see published posts in various states of completion.

Collective Societal Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by Kristina Tehrani 4/7/2021

Due to the urgent nature of this topic- I have chosen to publish the unedited work in progress. Please forgive any grammatical errors and such.

Work in progress…

The United States, and many other countries are suffering from PTSD. A world plunged into the unknown, our rules, beliefs and ways of life turned upside down. Most people prefer not to think about it. They desperately want it all to make sense.

From this wreckage of society, come the scavengers. Those who use a legitimate (or perhaps not- depending on who you’re asking) medical crisis and exploiting it for unethical purposes.

For over an entire year, most of the United States has existed in a state of panic. As early as April of last year, people were already dissociating from reality. They escaped by various means such as movies, television, fiction, and outright denial.

Many escaped reality by accepting leadership of a virtual stranger, but whom promised every single day, on every form of media that he would solve the problem. That things are “great”, “our state is great”. People yearned to not think for themselves. Already, so much had changed- it was not possible for the average person to process both all of the changes to our daily lives, our fear of the unknown virus and simultaneously to ask questions of our new hero- thrust into a position of unilateral power over 5.6 million people.

Many people did not have the time nor the desire to question the rhetoric. Nor did they have the language to do so. Not everyone had recently taken a masters level course in epidemiology at George Washington University. Not everybody had extensive experience in investigative research.

A hallmark of PTSD, especially when the trauma is still occurring, is that the brain remains in a hyper aroused state- incapable of reason. “Fight or flight” instincts. For those that have overcome complex PTSD in the past, we know when we are unable to bring our frontal cortex (the rational part of our brains) into the situation. The trauma must first cease before a the brain can begin to make sense of what happened.

Our country is currently still in a trauma state, perpetuated by misinformation coming from the highest sources of government. Many doctors, nurses, and scientists have been effectively silenced by a multitude of threats- not limited to our careers. Verbally assaulted for asking simple questions on social media, for example, for few people would have the nerve to call me a fascist Nazi to my face. It has become dangerous to think critically. Asking questions is now asking for trouble.

Is there any doubt in anybody’s mind that we have not suffered tremendous trauma this year? Isolation, the unknown, death, a complete restructuring of our society and government as we know it. We no longer have representatives. We have a leader. One leader. This is not a constitutional republic. For those of us who have studied both politics and epidemiology- to watch this play out has been especially difficult.

For those of us who just barely survived Covid-19, the mandates have come as a final blow to finish us off. We have been deprived of all the essential things we need to be happy. We have no way to exercise, no contact with friends or family, no sports, no school. This impacts the morbidity of our lives. We fear going anywhere. And it doesn’t matter because so many places of amusement have now been forced out of business.

I do not deny that Covid-19 has killed a lot of people- I came close to being one of them due to autoimmune disorders that I have. But I have found little joy in a life without bowling, arcades, the gym, eating out, movie theaters, concerts, and congregation with other Jewish people. I have not been to temple in over a year. This is not my choice.

I challenge anyone reading this to do the research. Think for yourself. Ask the difficult questions and be ready for answers that you may not like. As a public health RN, it was a huge blow to me when I discovered that the CDC was hiding information from the public. I had aspired to work for them someday. I voted for the current governor. I feel so betrayed sometimes, how could I have known?

Clowns

When I was a kid, maybe eight or nine years old, I was enrolled in the “Big Brother, Big Sister” program. Coming from a family in which I was the only sister to my three younger brothers, I really appreciated my “big sister”. Lisa was in college at St. Thomas and we did things like drink Diet Coke and play truth or dare. Lisa also liked to buy me little keepsakes, mostly journals and books. I liked the journals and books; I loved to read and write.  

A few months into our budding sisterhood, for some reason that I cannot fathom now, my sister Lisa started buying me these dolls.  I don’t recall having a particular fondness for dolls and these were no ordinary Barbie or Raggedy Ann dolls. They were these elaborately painted ceramic clowns with ornate satin costumes. In retrospect, I would call the dolls “noir”, in a way. They were not happy clowns. Their faces were lifelike, but weary, as if they had already seen too much of the world. They were certainly not meant to be played with. At my age, I had never really experienced the idea of a toy to not play with.

The dolls also came with individual display stands inside their large and partially transparent boxes. The clowns ranged in size from about 8 inches to more than a foot and a half. This was the 1980’s, I don’t remember if there was a sad clown doll fad or not, but I think I remember being with Lisa in the mall one day and seeing such a clown in an upscale gift shop and Lisa asking me if I liked it and I must have said yes or had some sort of positive reaction. To be agreeable, of course. As it turns out, I should have been honest and said “they’re a bit creepy”, but how was I to know what would follow?  To be honest, I may have manufactured that memory in order to make sense of how these clown dolls ended up becoming such a bane to my existence.

It was not very long until I found myself the reluctant recipient of one such decorative clown. After receipt of the first clown, I brushed it off as a curious but isolated incident. However, I must have too enthusiastically accepted and given her the impression that I was a serious collector because the clowns became a regular gift, almost as regular as the diaries. I recall liking one clown. It was very feminine with bubblegum pink paint and white and pastel pink ruffles. Even as a child, I could appreciate couture to some level. Perhaps that was the first clown, because they progressively became larger and more frightening from then on.

I could not tell Lisa that the clowns scared me. After accepting a half dozen of them with false enthusiasm, I was too deep into it. I didn’t consciously make the connection between these garish porcelain clowns and the evil child-eating clown portrayed by Tim Curry in the Stephen King movie “It”, which I had recently seen with my elderly Persian grandmother. However, I did notice that I had begun to develop anxiety around these clown dolls. The clowns were stored out of sight in a closet, buried underneath things I would never have a use for. I hoped that the clowns would go away on their own, but that hope remained unfulfilled as apparently, the mother of all decorative clowns was soon to be bestowed upon me. A reckoning was coming.

The final clown I got from Lisa was the largest yet. I don’t know where she found these dolls, but this one must have been nearly half my height. The most imposing stationary clown I had ever seen in person. Real people dressed as clowns had never frightened me that I can recall. It was the glassy eyes and the ivory, motionless skin of the dolls that awoke a sense of fear. The possibility of demonic possession seemed very real in some of the more sinister looking clowns.

The night that Lisa had gotten me the clown doll to trump all others, I was sleeping in her dorm room (as I often did), in the living room on a couch-alone. The clown was stationed directly across the room from me; I was right in its line of sight. The clown appeared to be watching me out of the corner of one painted eye across the room. I tried not to make eye contact and a couple times looked away, and then glanced back to find that it seemed to have crept a millimeter closer to me. I was almost in a state of panic. I felt imminently in danger and could not turn my back to this clown. I didn’t even want to breathe too heavily for fear that it would notice me, come to life, and attack. I was not sure exactly what the clown would do to me in terms of physical harm, but it was obviously menacing. Who knows what these clowns are capable of? And did I really want to find out?

I lay rigid and sleepless most of the night on the couch, uncomfortably aware of my potential assailant in the corner resting (waiting?) against its display stand. At some point, Lisa came out of her room, noticed that I was wide awake and managed to pry the truth out of me. The charade was over. Somehow, Lisa made the connection between me having seen “IT” at the age of 8 and my fear of clowns.

You see, my grandmother had shown my three younger brothers and I the IT entire mini-series on tape. Bless her heart, she sincerely believed that because there was a clown in the movie, it was funny and appropriate for small children. She truly thought that we would love it. I am not sure about my brothers, but for me, not a single night passed for the next several years that I was not plagued by dreams of murderous clowns of every variety. Almost thirty years later, I remember the details of some of these nightmares.

When I confessed my embarrassing secret to Lisa that not only was I afraid of clowns at the time, but I had also been afraid of them for awhile, Lisa realized that pretty much all of the clown dolls she had given me were resulting in anxiety and nightmares, and thankfully, she was very understanding about my white lies. I was ashamed that not only had I been lying to her by pretending to like the clowns for months, but I was also old enough to know that porcelain dolls really don’t come to life and kill people- in theory. I was embarrassed about it for quite awhile, so much so that I avoided her for some weeks afterwards. Despite the fact that she had also seen the movie and insisted that I was definitely not ridiculous at all for being terrorized by a collectible clown, I remained a bit ashamed for years. In retrospect, it must have been pretty comical for her to realize that with her limited college student finances, she had spent a moderate amount of money on accidentally scaring the hell out of me. How could she have possibly known that my clueless, foreign grandmother would show a Stephen King movie to little kids?   Even at the time, I recall my grandmother being confounded that we children were frightened by the evil clown that lured children into the sewer, severed limbs, ate them and could emerge from any water pipe it desired, not to mention a career defining performance by Tim Curry that helped bring the movie to life. When I revealed to my mother that my grandmother had subjected all four of us children to this four part bloodbath, my mother was furious. Many expletives in Farsi ensued.  

I received no further clowns following the revelation that what I felt for them was the opposite of gratefulness. If there was a lesson to be learned from this, perhaps it would be that one should not pretend to like a gift, for that gift may become a curse. Or maybe the lesson is that it’s better not to let a person who thinks Stephen King is appropriate for children babysit your kids carte blanche for extended lengths of time? I suppose I learned both.

The Murderer Part II

A few months after I gave birth to my daughter, I met another murderer. Not on purpose, of course. It was summer, and I was standing outside my car smoking a cigarette outside the corner store. You see, I have been on and off smoking for years now. I go for as long as I can to stop and then eventually give in. Sometimes it takes a few days, sometimes a few months, but I’ve yet to quit for good. Anyways, the point of that is that I couldn’t wait to have a cigarette in a better place than a shady parking lot in the questionable part of town.  

As I was smoking and scrolling through my phone, I saw a tall male approaching from all the way across the street from the parking lot. He must have been a couple hundred yards away, but he was looking right at me and I said to myself, “Here comes trouble”. And I was right, he was headed straight towards me. I watched him with curiosity as he made his trek sauntering across the street towards me. He walked right up to me and asked if I had a lighter. Rather than tell him to go away, which would have been the sensible response, I offered him my lighter and waited to hear his pitch.  

And let me tell you, it was worth the wait. The first thing he told me was that he just got out of prison after having served some 12 years and didn’t know how to meet women “these days”. Now, I really should have ended the conversation immediately, but I was intrigued, starved for attention and in the middle of a custody battle that was fucking with my head. So, I pounced on his very questionable pickup line. I immediately started asking questions. The first thing I said, as I am no stranger to the legal system, was, “12 years! That’s a hell of a long time. What did you do, kill someone?!” His face darkened for a moment and I could tell that he didn’t really expect the conversation to start this way. He replied that he had killed someone but “it was an accident”. In my previous murderer experience, I had heard basically the same thing- it was an accident. But I decided to listen to his story.  

He lit his cigarette and told me how he came to be a convicted murderer. He said that it occurred during the 1990’s and peak gang activity in the Cities. This much was true, I knew from experience, having gone to an inner-city school and seen the violence first hand. He said that his case was sensationalized and an example was made of him because his murder was the first drive-by shooting in the area at the time and also because he shot a white, blonde woman. He was clearly not white, but I could not tell what his ethnicity was by sight alone. However, he also clarified that the blonde woman had not been his intended target. His intended target had been the driver in another vehicle- a threatening black man who had been waving his gun at him while the two were driving parallel to each other in separate vehicles. According to the murder, the man in the other car had apparently been tailgating him and making threatening gestures with his firearm. So, my new acquaintance, who just so happened to have a gun with a laser target pointer on him, had aimed his weapon at the driver in the other vehicle and pulled the trigger. Saul, my new acquaintance, said that he didn’t know that the gun would discharge. He said that he only meant to scare the other driver off by illuminating his laser at him in order to show that he was able to defend himself, if necessary. He never meant to actually shoot anyone. Anyways, he said that the bullet accidentally hit the blonde woman and because Saul is a person of color, an Arab to be specific, he was punished more harshly due to racism in convictions. He also blamed his court appointed attorney for failing to represent him properly.  

I listened to his story with skepticism. I could tell he was lying about something. He seemed like a sociopath and I had recently done quite a bit of research on sociopaths as I was embroiled in a custody battle with my ex, whom I suspected of being a sociopath. And by research, I mean I bought dozens of books on the subject, both recently published and classics, such as Without Conscience, written by a doctor who had 25 years of clinical research under his belt. I decided that as I was currently battling a sociopath in court, the ideas and perspective of a sociopath might be useful. I was absolutely not going to date him, but I did give him my phone number. As I said before, this was a particularly bad time in my life and I wasn’t thinking clearly. On the other hand, I had learned from my research that there are many murderers walking among us that we (non-sociopaths) are unaware of because they are not broadcasting this information or using it as a pickup line (!). So, I knew then and know now that I probably have interacted with all kinds of violent people in my daily life without knowing it. Of course, this doesn’t justify anything, but I did decide that the guy, although clearly a maniac, had paid his debt to society and there was nothing wrong with picking his brain.  

He called me that very night. It was late, he sounded drunk and I assume he was looking for a hot date. Obviously, that was off the table. However, from prior experience, I knew before I spoke to him further, I would need to know the full story of his crime. I demanded a photo of his driver’s license, which infuriated him. He started arguing with me about it and since I have no common sense, again I fell back to experiences that I had with individuals who got angry when asked to divulge personal information. Point being, if he had nothing to hide, why would he be asking to come to my home without giving me any legitimate background information? Some may argue, well identity theft and all that…BUT he already told me he was a murderer, I had just met him, AND he wanted to be alone with me in my home? So, no I did not think it asking too much at all.  

I WAS shocked however, when he provided it. First, he yelled at me for being paranoid and unreasonable. Then he hung up on me. Then a minute or two later, he sent me a photo of his driver’s license. I could immediately see why he was reluctant. First of all, he had lied about his name. It was completely different than the name he gave me. I don’t remember what it was now, but it wasn’t even a disambiguation of the name he gave me. Rather than inviting him over, which I would have NEVER done, even if I had been drunk or for any other reason, I decided to google him and his criminal record.  

As I suspected, his story and his criminal record and related newspaper articles (where do I find these nutbags!) were significantly different. I ended up gathering a pretty significant amount of information about him through various online sources, all credible. According to the internet, Saul had changed his story with the police enough times to make him look really bad to the police. First, he claimed that another passenger in the vehicle he was driving pulled the trigger. Then, he claimed he was holding the gun and it went off accidentally. Then, he gave what I believe is probably the true story, that he was looking to intimidate the other driver by flashing the laser and possibly didn’t expect the gun to actually go off. I do believe his target was the man, not the woman. However, turns out that was a thick slice of baloney though, too. Witnesses reported that it was, in fact, Saul who was driving aggressively and intimidating the other driver. Furthermore, and this was the most fucked up part, the other guy didn’t even HAVE a weapon, gun or otherwise. It was basically a hate crime. Saul hated black people.  

I had many questions for Saul that I would have never asked, partly because it didn’t matter, but also because they’re really more like criticisms than questions. For example, Saul committed the crime as a teenager. What is a law-abiding, upstanding member of society doing with a gun that has a fucking laser pointer?? I can’t imagine that was legal in any way, shape or form. Further, he had admitted fault to me, saying he felt terrible for what had happened to that woman and that he felt better after having “paid for” taking her life by serving in prison for 16 years. BUT…that’s not what court documents revealed. He poorly appealed his case repeatedly, like a total maniac and clearly did not feel responsible at all. Somehow, I was even able to read prison records of his “inside” behavior. Which was apparently vulgar and he got into a lot of minor trouble just being a jerk, mainly to women. He told me himself that he faked mental health symptoms because he thought the prison therapist was attractive. Classic sociopathic behavior, from what I’ve read.  

So, really this psycho was totally off his game.  Giving me a copy of his driver’s license, telling me about the murder, he even told me about the abuser’s handbook to relationship domination called The Art of Seduction. If you aren’t familiar with it, check it out. It is literally a step by step handbook on how to manipulate, isolate, victimize, gaslight and torture women who believe that they are in a loving relationship. I remember how he mentioned the book in passing, then seemed frustrated when I clarified the name of the book and then wrote it down. He didn’t tell me it was the abuser’s handbook. He described as “relationship advice for men”.  

So, I was hoping to get something out of this “friendship”, as I mentioned. I was looking for advice from the perspective of a sociopath on how to handle my sociopathic ex during the custody battle and I guess, in general. However, what I ended up getting was Saul repeatedly attempting to seduce me and being accused more than once of being an undercover cop. I saw him twice after our first meeting. The first time, I asked him for advice on my custody case. This was useless, as he gave me the advice that as he seemed to be under the impression that as the non-sociopath parent, I had some kind of edge. He also thought that as the primary parent and mother, my case would be open and shut, in my favor. He was wrong. The second time I saw him, he resumed his seduction attempt, then begged me to sell him some of my psychiatric medications for next to nothing. I refused on both counts.  

After that, we went our separate ways. I assume he’s still out there, probably online, looking for a woman to sponge off of until he commits his next major crime. My guess is that he probably found a woman who bought his story without looking into it, because a sucker is born every minute. I probably taught him not to go for women with any prior sociopath experience, as he was pretty textbook evil. He likely also learned that academic women, like myself, would view more as a curiosity than as a potential mate. Most sociopaths do not end up in jail. Most of them are walking around free, prowling for their next victim. I am glad my ex taught me well, but I must say, I’m ruined for dating- possibly for the rest of my life, never knowing if the next guy will be a better liar than Saul or have better hidden his online footprint.  

Thoughts on Freedom of Speech in an Orwellian Time: 2084

“Cancel culture” supposedly started with the “me too” movement a couple years back. As a woman and a feminist, I supported women speaking out about sexual harassment. I still support it.

I am not sure if that truly qualifies as “cancel culture” now in 2021 (or as I like to call it 2084) as almost everything is being censored. I have never, ever seen so many white people angry about everything.

I’ve noticed that it IS usually white women (who fancy themselves as the voice for the oppressed, I suppose) taking offense at everything including asking simple questions like “I didn’t get my saliva COVID test in the mail, did you get yours?” The reactions are over the top, illogical and immature. I was called a “Nazi Fascist” for suggesting that black and white people could probably work together on some things. I was called this by a bunch of white “liberal” women. I was shocked. Do people even know what a Nazi or fascist is?

Freedom of speech is very important. Americans who don’t support freedom of speech make no sense to me. Why would anyone WANT censorship? The book 1984 is one of my favorites. It’s a classic. It was probably even banned at some point. All the other rebellious teenagers I grew up with read 1984 and denounced “Big Brother”. As an adult in 2021 in the US, we’re rapidly approaching this dystopian society. Censorship has become trendy somehow. Erasing history and banning books is en Vogue. I never thought I’d see the day that I would be arguing with the same teenagers I grew up with who seem to now be wanting “Big Brother”?! What changed? Is it the whole “I didn’t sell out, I bought in” thing? Because that’s how it’s coming across.

There are a number of stand up comics, black, white, women, Asian, every type of person- all for free speech. It’s not even a liberal/conservative thing. It’s a slippery slope to silence people for anything, really. I don’t use hate speech, I don’t agree with hate speech. But should it be completely illegal? I don’t know. Maybe. But once you go after someone for using a term like, for example, “kike”- what’s to stop people using other terms, terms that have been adopted into communities and reclaimed by those who are meant to be disparaged by such terms.

I like “heeb”. I AM a “heeb” and I like joking around too. Do I have family members that died in the Holocaust? Actually yes. I never met them of course, having been born in 1981, but I have visited Israel and my German Jewish sort of second cousin by marriage- her whole immediate family was incinerated. I would have loved to talk to her more but unfortunately I speak neither German nor Hebrew. So communication with this cousin was mainly gesture based.

Things are constantly changing. They say “the only thing you can count on is death and taxes”, but I think the only thing you can count on is that every element of the universe is constantly changing, for better or for worse. Astrophysicists recently found that every element in the periodic table “move” constantly. And we already know from chemistry and physics that those elements can change and form new elements under various circumstances.

Any effort to homogenize individual thought is going to ultimately be futile, as it is not natural by the laws of science or reasoning that this is possible. Our genes as human beings even resist homogenization. When you inbreed, you have problems because too much of anything leads to problems. You don’t have to be a scientist to know that.

The Epidemic That Doesn’t Make The Papers

By: Kristina Tehrani

2/10/2021, revised 3/16/2021

          Today I stopped by the gas station and as I was browsing for my favorite bottled tea, I happened across the newspaper stand. There were two publications- The Saint Paul Pioneer Press and the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The headlines were nearly identical. This is not a direct headline from today because I don’t recall exactly how it was phrased, but it was something along the lines of “Pandemic Rages On With No End In Sight”. As I mentioned, I don’t remember the exact wording but I DO remember how I felt reading that- depressed. I tend to not watch network news because I noticed some years ago that there seems to rarely be GOOD news; lots of death, destruction and gossip though. For the last year, the newspapers and general media has been milking the sensational nightmare of the Novel Coronavirus.

          Covid-19 began making in earnest American headlines around February of 2020. That is over one year past at this time. As of late, I have a difficulty considering Covid-19 to continue to be called “novel” because usually, the term “novel” implies “new” and often “temporary”. In early spring last year, the novel coronavirus efficiently and swiftly swept across the nation, sending probably the entire American population into a collective panic. Different people reacted differently, but I think it’s fair to say most people were terrified, or at least unusually bothered. When the pandemic came to my state of Minnesota, I reacted to it the same way I react to almost anything. I spent hours poring over research, data, studies and anecdotal accounts.

          Initially, I concluded that the virus was primarily airborne, supremely deadly, and unpredictable. The pandemic did not start in the United States; other countries had been dealing with it for weeks or months. I read studies that described the molecular structure of the virus as to be so small that it could be aerosolized and due to its miniscule weight, could take 20 minutes or so to sink to the ground. As a public health nurse, I looked to the CDC for answers. Incidentally, this is when I lost faith in the good intentions of the CDC. Their recommendations were to stay home as much as possible, wash your hands, avoid standing near others and avoid sick people. I can’t recall exactly what the recommendations were but they were saying generally “this is a symptomatic disease, and likely not airborne”. These recommendations did not seem to align with the studies I had read or any other general conclusions coming from the other countries who had been “infected” for some weeks or so earlier.

          I became suspicious of how it was that a “stay at home” mother, with some masters work in public health and no background in creating or administering a scientific study could find so much information contradicting the CDC in about 7 hours of online research. How was it that a huge organization filled with doctors, PhDs and scientists would not reach the same conclusions which the CDC later confirmed by summer of 2020? Initially, face masks were not recommended. Testing for the virus was unavailable and there was no contact tracing system in place that I was aware of.

I used to aspire to work for the CDC. Now my trust in them had wavered, to say the least. I used to accept their recommendations on most health subjects. After a year in grad school pursuing my master of science in public health, I had already been taught epidemiology. I also have a substantial background in exotic and tropical diseases due to several years working as a medical travel consultant. This novel coronavirus was not the first epidemic in the US. Not even the first pandemic. There had been epidemics and major public issues before. I did not understand the CDC’s secretive approach at all for this virus. The CDC even has an “outbreak response protocol”, which is logical, clearly stated and applies to everything from E. Coli outbreaks being traced to certain vendors to the seasonal flu. I wondered why this protocol did not seem to be occurring at any level of government health groups. They were treating Covid-19 as if all prior outbreak rules and experience were thrown out the window.

          Shortly following the (likely) inevitable spread of the virus to Minnesota, the freshman Governor of our state, Tim Walz declared a statewide emergency, which made sense at the time. However, this also seemed to cement the government’s control over everything having to do with the pandemic, which apparently was every aspect of life. Walz had just been elected Governor a few months prior to the pandemic. He ordered schools closed for 2 weeks (“to flatten the curve”) and closed most businesses with the exception of pharmacies, gas stations, grocery, liquor stores and chain department stores that sold groceries. The government endorsed reasoning behind this was “we know we’re all going to be exposed, so let’s try to minimize the entire population being sick at the same time, get our hospitals prepared so that we don’t end up with the entire population in emergency rooms at once overwhelming the health care system”. Seemed like a reasonable enough idea, although I DID wonder Well, maybe EVERYTHING should be closed for two weeks and then maybe the virus will not spread at all? However, I pushed my doubts aside since I had no decision making abilities anyways.

          However, once two weeks had passed, the emergency seemed to be either unaffected by the “lockdown” or the rhetoric changed to “we’re going to keep this at emergency level until further notice”. So two weeks became six, which then became months and now it’s been over one full year that the emergency is still at its peak or even worse. There have been constant messages by both the media and some government officials that “the worst is yet to come”. Is it though? Many people all over the world died from Covid-19, some did not die but had lingering damage to organs but many simply got sick for a week or so and bounced back.

In the spring of 2020, most people did not have access to be tested for the virus. This continued for a very long time. So, initially, most of the cases that we heard about were the severe ones- in which the patient had died or came very close to death. I had a more moderate experience. I got sick in March or April 2020. For about a week, I suspected that I was going to die. But I didn’t want to go to the hospital just in case I was wrong OR to surround myself with other sick people and catch something else that would do me in. So, I filled out a living will sort of thing, outlining where all my important documents were kept and all that, took every anti-inflammatory medication I had hoarded over the years, forced myself to eat and drink and lay in bed having mild hallucinations. After a week or two, I was feeling well enough to put trash into the trash can. From then on, I continued to feel mildly confused much of the time and had a swollen ear drum for a couple more months. It lasted all summer, really. Individual experiences with the virus have varied from asymptomatic (fairly common) to cold/flu like symptoms to death (which in the total number of infections has remained rare). So, that was my experience.

Over the summer, I met a woman who was involuntarily placed in a hospital psychiatric unit. She was in her late 60’s and had been living in a retirement home for years due to a moderate physical disability. She came to be in the psychiatric unit because after six months of isolation within the nursing home, she attempted suicide. She was not the only resident to be isolated- all of the residents were prohibited from interacting with others, both within the community and without. As far as I was told, she did not have a history significant for suicide attempts or other serious psychological disorders. She told me, “I am old, I’ve lived my life, I was lonely and I couldn’t stand it anymore. I was going crazy being alone all of the time. No visitors, no pets, no interactions with anyone. I felt like it was time to end my life”.

Would this woman have attempted suicide if she had not been isolated from nearly all human contact for several months? No. No, she wouldn’t have. Isolation is a form of psychological torture that has been used historically mainly in prisons as punishment.

Minnesotans had been experiencing an almost continuous isolation for almost a full year. More often than not, there is no in person school, people are not allowed to gather in small groups, holidays have been essentially canceled, Minnesotans are being mandated to not see anyone outside of their household, ever. The rules change sometimes, but overall, we’ve been isolated from each other. I used to celebrate Jewish holidays at a synagogue. I can’t do that anymore.

My son used to look forward to going to school to interact with other kids, now “school” is him staring at the computer for hours. He was an accelerated math student. Not anymore. He used to get services for autism. Not anymore. He hasn’t played with another child since the summer, when we would go to the playground. Not anymore, not in Minnesota. It’s too cold.

My daughter is four years old. She does not understand why she has nowhere to play. It’s affecting their mental health. It’s affecting my mental health. We used to go to the art museum. Not anymore. My kids are depressed. Schools may be opening again, but for how long? Kids are also failing in this distance learning model. All kids are being affected, but those with a lack of access to technology in addition to increased barriers to special education, barriers to sports, barriers to mental health services are particularly affected. These children are supposed to be the future. What kind of environment is this to raise healthy children??

I am concerned about the increased number of suicides in our state. I am concerned about friends I’ve lost last year to drug abuse during the pandemic. I am concerned that this is going to become “the new normal”. Violence by youth is up, I believe as a direct result of lack of structure. Many people have no way to get physical exercise as gyms have been on almost permanent lockdown since March 2020.

Governor Tim Walz has had “emergency executive powers” for over a year. Some Minnesotans are fighting it, some have already moved away, some have given up. The icing on the cake for Minnesotans is that none of these measures have been proven to stop the spread of covid-19. But these measures have been proven to destroy Minnesota- financially, emotionally, educationally, and effectively. In the course of one year, it feels as if we are on the brink of a partisan civil war. It’s past time to end the Governor’s dictatorship of the state. 

Where are the cost-benefit analysis for the mandates? Where is the public attention for kids and seniors that are so lonely, they want to die? Where is the publicity for the majority of kids literally failing school? Why are we ignoring all of this? How bad do things have to get before the real emergency is dealt with? As bad as Nevada, where youth suicide became such a problem that the government mandated schools open? The warning signs that our state is crumbling are here. Please heed them. This should not and cannot be the “new normal”. This imposed isolation is unsustainable at best and killing more Minnesotans than the actual virus at worst. We need to start healing our state before the executive branch of government completely eliminates representatives and we are in the position of seeking refuge elsewhere. I am not leaving my home state.

“The Pandemic Catfisher of 2020”

By Kristina Tehrani, April 2, 2021

A few weeks ago, I “met” somebody online. Not just anybody- a man. He sent me a message on Facebook at 3 in the morning “how are you doing??’. I often receive messages from random men online, so I ignored it initially. But after a few days, I became bored and curious, so I ended up responding to his message. I wanted to know where he got the audacity to send a random woman a middle of the night message which smacked of “I don’t know you but talk dirty to me, baby”. Thus began my first, and hopefully only, “catfishing” adventure.

For those of us who have only heard the term “catfishing” without having any solid knowledge of it: it is basically pretending to be someone else, having a pretend long distance romantic relationship- generally with the goal of extracting money from the “fish”, otherwise known as the victim. I did not know “the signs” of catfishing specifically, but I am generally skeptical of single men sending me messages or otherwise attempting to engage me in an unprovoked conversation.

Prior to getting involved with the catfisher, albeit from a distance and only through messaging, I investigated his profile. It was notably sparse and confusing. For example, his “likes” included two pages: Black Lives Matter and Donald Trump. That seemed a bit contradictory. His biographical information was also scant, including very few photos and a paragraph written in Spanish explaining that he “isn’t on Facebook much”. Allegedly, his name is Powell Woods, he speaks fluent Spanish, was born in Spain, and is a pilot for a somewhat reputable private airline that I had never heard of but does have a website. Obviously, I knew that anyone could say anything or claim to be anyone online, so I adopted a curious “why not?” sort of attitude about his profile and probable motivations.

As we messaged back and forth, he “revealed” more details about his personal life. Details that I did not particularly care to know. Frankly, he came to bat with a creative (in my opinion) sob story. In a nutshell, he is the widowed father of a teenage daughter and he is heartbroken over not being able to spend enough time with her. He had dated many women in the hopes of finding true love, but alas, he was not only unable to find a suitable partner, but ironically, he has also been a victim of catfishing. He found many women that he dated to be “unable to handle being a potential stepparent”.

Thankfully, I saved his communications. Not because I knew I would soon be writing an unflattering story about him, but because I saw no reason to delete anything. I can’t even delete all the spam in my email from a single day, so it’s all on record now. I’m happy I saved the exchanges, I can quote him verbatim. And I will say that within minutes of the start of our “relationship”, I was thoroughly amused. Here is a good one from a week or so after we started chatting “Your smile is the sunshine and it brightens up my day, (sic) Your thoughts in my head create the sweetest melody, (sic) You are every reason, every hope and every dream I’ve ever had, (sic) If I was given one last wish before I died,(sic) I’d ask to look into your eyes so that I can get a glimpse of what heaven looks like, (sic) You have the most beautiful eyes in the whole world, darling, (sic) I like you because you are beautiful, charming, warm, loving, caring, and pretty, (sic) But most of all, I love you in a way that’s harder to put into words, I love”….Holy run- on sentence! Had this person never learned grammar? Many of the messages were like this. It was like love poetry written by a 10 year old. The odd part was that when we would message about other things, it seemed that his English was perfect, so I am assuming he copied and pasted some of this nonsense from the worst poet ever.

The communications between he and myself were mostly chatting and joking around. He was witty and entertaining. When he would mix in wild statements like “I love you, you’re my heart and soul, I can’t wait for us to be married”…et cetera, I would usually redirect the conversation. Because obviously, that was ridiculous and I wasn’t going to participate in that part. I DID ask him for a phone conversation. Somehow, that was never possible for him. Also, he had four photos. Total. I have no idea if that was really him or not. Whoever it was though- very attractive guy.

Inevitably, he finally started to get around to his scam. First, he laid a bit of groundwork. His daughter lives in Texas and he’s a widower and a pilot, so his daughter was often with a “nanny”. He mentioned this maybe in the first week of chatting. He proposed marriage the second week, if memory serves. I accepted, of course, as I knew it would never happen and it was kind of fun to play along. We even declared “our engagement” on social media. I was heartily congratulated, but did not reveal that it was totally fake. I was enjoying my pretend relationship. We never spoke on the phone, I never met him, and there was no risk of meeting him- the perfect relationship for someone who didn’t really want to be in a relationship.

After we “got engaged” via messenger, he asked me to be his beneficiary should something happen to him. And not just financial beneficially, but also naturally, I would continue to raise his fictitious daughter. You see, he had just started working at this airline and it was part of the routine paperwork. And as we were obviously engaged to be married, of course I would be his benefactor. What was amusing about this part of the scam was that I told him that there would need to be an actual document with our names, addresses and birthdates on the will, plus it would probably have to be notarized. He did not particularly care for that. He gave me a fake address, and also seemed to have forgotten his birthdate. We sorted it out though and both signed it. I did not offer to change my will, and he did not ask me to.

Finally, the last phase of his scam was then put into motion. The whole process took three weeks, it may have even been a month. He really invested a lot of time on me. I was both flattered and confused. Confused because I did not understand where he got the idea that I had any spare money. All he knew was that I’m an RN with two kids and live in a condo. That does not scream money to me, but who knows what other research he had done on me. Maybe I have money I don’t know about? Flattered because I must come across as wealthy enough to be worth spending a month “wooing me”.

Of course, I was aware that the end game for him was getting money from me somehow. Which he did not get, of course. But here’s how he came to asking for it….As an international pilot, he travels to some countries where there is more pickpocketing and general theft. He claimed to be in Turkey for a day or two and went out for a drink with some coworkers. He ended up walking back to the hotel alone for some reason. However, he was robbed (at gunpoint!) while walking and the thieves took everything he had, but not his mobile phone for some reason. He couldn’t explain why they did not take his phone, but thank God they didn’t because how else could he relay this story to me??

So, here he is- an employed pilot NOT stranded in another country, as he was due to fly back in a day or two- as the pilot- and completely without money, credit cards, access to a bank…However, there was a reason he needed money immediately. In an unfortunate turn of events, his beloved daughter’s nanny in Texas needed to be paid (right away!) otherwise the nanny would leave his young daughter all by herself! So, he really needed me to loan him some money as soon as possible to pay said nanny. And we’re engaged to be married, so of course I trust him, right?! And of course I am deeply concerned about the welfare of my future stepdaughter; I wouldn’t dream of her being abandoned and alone. What a pickle!

Thus, I knew the fun was over. I took my time in responding to his heartbreaking situation, but when I did it was to express my deepest sympathies about his being robbed (poor guy!) and I suggested he ask for money from his employer. He did not catch on right away that I wasn’t going to give him money. He pleaded for about a day and I continued to be emotionally supportive, but unfortunately, I really didn’t have any money to spare. That’s what I told him and it was probably actually true at the time, but even if I did have money, he wasn’t getting a penny out of me. I just don’t fund scams if I can help it.

 I never let on that I knew he was trying to scam me. I played along to the abrupt end. Mostly because I was curious about how he would respond. And what would be the point in confronting him? Shockingly, I didn’t hear from him again after the impassioned plea for money day. He never formally broke off our engagement, but I’m assuming the wedding is off. I almost, almost, felt a tiny bit sorry for him that he had spent all this time and energy trying to scam me and it was completely fruitless. I enjoyed it, though. I sort of wonder now if he knew that I knew. Alas, I’ll probably never find out as his profile disappeared shortly afterwards and he never gave me a phone number. C’est la vie!