All posts by marymurray22

About marymurray22

I live in South Minneapolis with my cat Milhouse, work full time in human services and am taking MDST 485 (Communicating with New Media) and PSYC 302 (Adult Development and Lifelong Learning) for the Spring 2022 at Metro State.

The Things I Love Most About Knitting

A WIP (Work In Progress)

I have been knitting for about seven years (I learned from my mom when I was about 10 years old, but didn’t pick it back up until I could afford to buy my own yarn). I’ve made scarves, mittens and hats for friends and family over the years, and have enjoyed collecting instructional books and stitch dictionaries to learn new patterns. During the pandemic, it has been a way for me to stay safe (by having something productive to focus on while maintaining social distancing), and has also connected me with others who are curious about knitting and sharing techniques.

Ravelry

Technology has been a miracle in helping me expand my techniques, organize my stash (yarn collection), make connections with other fiber art enthusiasts around the world and plan my projects for Christmas and birthdays. Ravelry is one of my favorite websites because it helps me keep track of so much of this information, and I can view/interact with others around the world who have created projects I’m interested in or have questions about. There are forums, paid and free patterns, yarns, and tools to use for managing yarn inventory, patterns, needles, projects and more.

Stitch Fiddle

Another one of my favorite knitting-related websites is Stitch Fiddle, a free website you can use to create graphic charts for knitting, crochet, cross stitch and more. The chart seen above is a quick sample I made for a scarf my niece had requested for Christmas a couple years ago:

Maggie and Jack!

As long as you don’t need written instructions created (that will cost you), you can design all sorts of pictures and graphic designs for your own projects or to sell.

StevenBe in South Minneapolis

Shopping at local yarn shops over the years has helped me feel more connected to a larger global fiber arts community; it’s easy to talk to staff and owners about what I’m working on, what they’ve been working on, and many of them also feature classes on techniques I haven’t been able to master just by watching YouTube videos.

My mom and her cat Oscar

I love making things for my family not just because it saves money I would otherwise spend on other gifts, it also makes me feel happy to see something I worked hard on be admired by the people I’m closest to. I especially love making things for my mom, since she is the one that first taught me!

Thoughts on the Evolution of Stromae’s Music

I first heard the Belgian musician Stromae around 2012 when I was working at the Electric Fetus, a record store in South Minneapolis. The new album at the time was Racine Carrée, which translates from French as Square Root. My manager at the time told us her daughter’s French class had presented a performance piece for the parents at the end of the school year which featured a couple songs from this album, and while I still don’t really know much French (I instead took Japanese in high school), I was drawn to the overall feeling of the album. I bought it at the end of my shift and listened to it for weeks, looking up the translation of the lyrics to understand the language behind the emotions and complexities of his work.

Stromae is a Belgian national of Belgian and Rwandan descent. His father Pierre Rutare was killed during the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, and the subject of his song “Papaoutai” (Dad, Where Are You?) is about the heartbreaking perspective of a child questioning the implications of losing his father, and what the fate of himself and others becoming fathers one day will be.

As someone who works in the human services field, I often think of the resilience theory; it’s not about the nature of adversity that is most important, but how each one of us deals with it. There are seemingly infinite examples of the resiliency theory in art and in music, and I am often drawn to narratives that express one’s own adverse experiences through these mediums. These are common themes in many of his songs.

I found Stromae’s new album “Multitude” on Tidal after one of his songs came up on my “suggested” playlists, and I realized I hadn’t thought about him and his music in depth for ten years now. I hadn’t noticed his absence that other fans and music critics did, and now there has been much to read about his return to music.

Something I found out while reading about his new album is the reason for his absence from the public eye; in 2015, he had taken an anti-malarial drug called Lariam, which caused him deep depression and debilitating panic attacks. In 2018, he began appearing in public more and talked about his experience with suicidal ideations, and the support system he had through his wife Coralie Barbier, who is also his stylist.

https://www.thefader.com/2022/03/07/stromae-fils-de-joie-video

After listening to Multiverse the first time last week, I became more curious about the experiences he went through since I first heard Racine Carrée, and because I still don’t know French I wanted to look up the translation of his lyrics.

“Fils de Joie” (Son of Joy) struck me as being painful and heartfelt like Papaoutai before, and so when I saw the English lyrics in the music video for this song, I could see that he was singing from the perspective of a child again. I admire his capacity to connect with others who are often forgotten about, such as the children of sex workers, and to create art through music with those narratives. Perhaps it is because of the tragedies and threats to his own mental health he went through that he is able to empathize with these children, but it cannot be overlooked that he is also incredibly talented musically.

I am looking forward to hearing more of his work in the future, and in the meantime will be reading about his experiences and projects he continues to work on – and will not be waiting 10 years again to do so!

Why Masking Should Be Here to Stay

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2022/02/covid-mask-mandate-washington-dc/622860/

Of all the lessons that have scared me during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that you don’t know who you will hurt or kill if you catch the virus and silently pass it on to someone else. I have medical professionals in my family who have been taking care of extremely sick patients who sometimes would end up on ventilators and pass away, the majority of them being unvaccinated.

I am pro-vaccine, pro-masking and consider myself pro-public health. I grew up receiving the round of required vaccines for going back to school like many other children across the US. I have learned to accept the choice people have to decide whether or not they will receive a vaccine (even though it affects my family members working in the medical field who will end up caring for them if they get horribly sick), but I find it hard to accept a person’s choice to not wear a mask in public spaces during a pandemic.

Consider the fact that other countries who have faced deadly viral outbreaks like the SARS epidemic in 2003-04, where approximately 8000 people died from 29 different countries [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7159403/ – Overview on SARS in Asia and the World], where wearing masks in public expected. Yes, eastern cultures are typically more community-oriented – and in the west, particularly the United States, we embrace individualism and certain personal freedoms – therein lies some of the reasons why there is tremendous public discourse over things like vaccine mandates and mask mandates. The personal choice we have to wear a mask (or not) during COVID-19 pandemic is different than other freedoms we embrace, because it is a choice that affects the personal safety and well-being of others (if the virus is passed on from one infected person to the other).

The recent ruling by Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle to toss out the federal mandate for wearing masks on airlines has been deeply disappointing, and has no basis in supporting public health measures. “When U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle tossed out the federal government’s transportation mask mandate on Monday, she relied in part on her interpretation of the term “sanitation.”” [(https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/04/19/1093641691/mask-mandate-judge-public-health-sanitation#:~:text=When%20U.S.%20District%20Judge%20Kathryn,of%20the%20term%20%22sanitation.%22)%5D. I am hoping to see this overturned or challenged in the court system as soon as possible, because not only have many of us been looking forward to traveling safely, but it still affects the immuno-compromised who cannot get vaccinated and have a significantly higher chance of getting sick and passing away. Wearing a mask is a personal choice, but it is one that affects people around us and should continue to be mandated in public areas by the government to protect the health and well-being of everyone.

“Tucker Carlson: Revoking Disney’s self-governing status will cost them, and Democrats, a lot of money” – analysis

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/tucker-self-governing-revoke-will-cost-disney-lot-money

The idea that Democrats as a whole are going to be paying the price (in actual dollars) is a lofty statement and I’m not seeing a lot of evidence in any other articles so support this idea, considering other analysts are saying it’s going to be the residents in Orange and neighboring Osceola County in Florida that will be seeing their taxes raised by up to 20% [https://www.npr.org/2022/04/22/1094316591/disney-world-desantis-florida-counties-taxes].

Additionally, the idea that this “Don’t Say Gay” bill is just about teachers not being able to talk about their own sexual orientations and preferences is false. While yes, the bill itself doesn’t contain the word “gay,” it forbids teachers in the state of Florida from talking at all about gender identity and LGBTQ issues in the classroom. There are many parents who support this bill because they agree with Governor Desantis on the notion that parents should be leading this conversation, not teachers – however, this opinion piece misrepresents what the bill is entirely about.

Disney is not the first large corporation to come out in support of or against legislation. Consider just one of the controversies of Hobby Lobby, an American company that sells arts and crafts supplies:

Additionally, the iconic statement I will never forget by Mitt Romney in his 2012 Presidential Campaign:

What I see the act of stripping Disney of its self-governing status in response to its criticism of the new anti-LGBTQ law is a stunt by Governor Desantis to position himself well for a 2024 presidential candidate for the Republican nomination. Both the anti-LGBTQ bill and the revoking of Disney’s self-governing powers won’t actually happen until June of next year, however it may face some constitutional challenges:

Time will tell what happens to Disney World; perhaps this will end up being challenged in the Supreme Court, or maybe things will move forward and they will lose their self-governing status. Either way, we have mid-terms coming up in the fall and we can expect to see more of these legislative actions on schools, healthcare (the ongoing efforts to overturn Roe vs. Wade), and I guess Disney now..

Mary Lucia and the Power of System Change

https://www.thecurrent.org/profile/mary-lucia

https://bringmethenews.com/minnesota-lifestyle/in-aftermath-of-mary-lucias-final-show-the-current-announces-her-boss-is-gone

Mary Lucia

There is tremendous courage in bringing up workplace toxicity, especially when said toxicity is coming from the top, to the ones that sign your paycheck. Additionally, there often isn’t an incentive in it if you are speaking up on behalf of your coworkers who are the recipients of the toxic behavior. “I’ve been concerned with equity and fair treatment of all of my sisters at the station. Past, present and future. Know your worth, embrace your unique talent and voice and lift each other up.” After working there for 17 years, you know that the situation had to be pretty awful.

The Current has connected many people to music over the years – shows like Rock The Garden sell out in seconds instead of hours like it did before the radio station existed. The archives listed for Mary Lucia on the Current’s weblink above shows that she created a powerful following through her own scheduled shows and curated playlists.

In the Bring Me The News article listed above, the shock of Jim McGuinn abruptly leaving his post will certainly stir up some more chatter – is there a shake-up going on in public radio? Are they going to hire an external system-change consultant to address the ongoing allegations of sexual harassment, gender pay-gap issues etc.?? Either way, it cannot be understated how much of an impact Mary has had (and will continue to have) on the Twin Cities music scene, and how serious and consequential for The Current her departure has been.

The lesson that public radio administrators would benefit to learn from this to keep their fans and stakeholders happy is that classical management and gender pay inequality is becoming a thing of the past, and tenured employees will leave because we are in a new era of what we (working people) will and won’t accept. The world is already full of uncertainty and stress because of COVID, why does it have to be in the workplace? Take Mary’s lead; state your boundaries, state your concerns. Just like any other relationship, if you are heard and understood (or not), you have your options to stay or to leave. Listen to your gut and trust there are people who will support your decision.

Finding a Work/Life Balance When You Work from Home

March 2020 Mood

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sensation/202007/making-working-home-work

In this blog post from psychologytoday.com, Dr. Thalma Lobel discusses the impact the COVID pandemic had on many workers across the US. I had never worked from home a day in my life before the pandemic (although when I used to work retail, I would joke with my coworkers about how working from home would be “the life,” wishing I could earn money from the comfort of my couch.). Many of the things mentioned in this blog post are things that I have encountered and have worked to overcome in terms of adjusting to my new work “normal.”

Milhouse learning how to become my new office support!

Staying connected with colleagues: I have been working for Hennepin County as a case manager/job counselor for about seven years and had worked in one of our satellite offices at Sabathani Community Center in South Minneapolis until the end of March 2020. I said goodbye to my coworkers that had become very near and dear to know, not fully realizing I wouldn’t see them again to this day. Skype meetings and friendly email updates serve as the social exchanges I have with them in place of the coffee or tea breaks we’d share in the office. While I did feel a great loss in my newfound work space with the absence of my coworkers, I had always felt thankful that my employer enforced safety measures for all of us considering the new threat of the COVID pandemic.

Make sure your room is well lit: While my new WFH office started out as my bedroom (not a good fit for mental or physical health) and is now my living room, the lighting everywhere in my apartment is no match for the bright lights at my now shuttered Sabathani office. The solution: keep the curtains open during the work-day and be sure to keep those lights on during those gloomy winter and thunderstorm days.

Minnehaha Falls

Establish boundaries during work and leisure time: I have often felt lucky being in Minnesota in particular during the pandemic because while we did shut down everything but “essential businesses”, we did not have lockdown like they did in New York where people could not leave their homes. The summer of 2020 here in Minneapolis was marked by the tragedy of George Floyd being killed by Minneapolis police, and if you were living close to Cup Foods at the time like I was (I lived on the block of 37th and Columbus at the time, 400 feet away), it could’ve been difficult to get out of your WFH environment and feel like you could find a place to go to unwind from your work day. These days, I am living just south of uptown and am able to bike around in the spring/summer/fall to obtain the work/life balance that works best for me.

We all have unique experiences related to what happened to us and our families in the last two years. Many people did not get the opportunity to work from home and were either laid off (and received unemployment hopefully) or continued to work in essential services positions to keep things like food, goods (remember toilet paper shortages?) and medicine available to society. Their achievement of a healthy work/life balance matters just as much, and probably even more if their positions require intensive contact with the public – I admire their resiliency and imagine their need for a structure to support a “new normal” looks relatively similar in terms of setting up the home environment to support a safe space to unwind.