Thursday, December 8, 2016

Where Did I Come From?


Every few years in elementary or middle school, maybe even high school, some teacher would get the bright idea to want to do some kind of family tree assignment. Sounds harmless, or fun, right? Well, sure, if you know anything about your background. Some people have family crests, their lineage goes back to the Mayflower, and they know all this stuff. My parents seemed to know nothing.

It's not like I had this big, close, family experience. Or like we could really claim a country. Italians, Germans, French- they all seem to know where their ancestors are from. Down to the town. Seinfeldian Jews* like myself, not so much.

Even my friend A, whose family is Russian, but also Jewish, asked me how I identify myself as Jewish, even as an atheist*, when that's a religion, not an ethnicity. I know I've discussed this before somewhere, but I'm not searching my blog for it. What I'll say as succinctly as possible is that in America, Jewish is a culture. Because we don't identify with a country, and Jewish, while a religion, also has it's own food, music, traditions, etc, that don't identify with any one country. My friend, A, is Russian first- she speaks the language, identifies with the culture, knows the food and is Jewish second. If someone asks her, "What are you?", her answer, logically, is Russian. Because her Russian identity is stronger than her Jewish identity.

She asked me if my ancestors are most likely Eastern European, why I wouldn't say that. I told her because I don't identify with anything Eastern European, so if that ethnicity conversation went any further, I wouldn't be able to answer anything. I don't even know anything about Eastern Europe. And if I have Russian or Polish ancestry, there are plenty of Russians & Polish people who aren't Jewish. It's a lot easier to say I'm Jewish. For someone who doesn't even know what country their ancestors come from, we only have "American Jew" to have any kind of culture to associate with. By saying that I'm Jewish, I'm essentially saying that I'm not any kind of Christian and I don't have a country. That I'm most familiar with "New Yawk Jewish culture". Bagels, neuroses, pop culture, liberalism, loud talking, a lot of talking, therapy (psychology related), brisket, (attempted) guilt, kugel, & totally getting Seinfeld.

Just FYI, just because I'm Jewish does not make me Israeli. Most people asking you what you are are looking for some common ground. So saying I'm Eastern European without any knowledge of what that even entails isn't going to form any same-ethnicity bond.

My parents never seemed to have an answer where their grandparents were from. I don't know if they weren't interested, no one talked about it, or what. Not that I could trust Rita's answers anyway*, because she was known to make things up, by her own admission. My father probably wasn't interested or motivated in finding an answer. His parents weren't people I'd just call for information and my mom's parents lived in Florida. I don't remember ever talking about it. No one liked to talk about their childhood, the past, or much of anything. It was very different than B's upbringing where he heard tons of stories about his family's past.

It's weird though, being this forty-something age. I still feel young. I had pink hair not that long ago! I wear purple Uggs. I don't ever want to be called ma'am and I'm annoyed when it happens. Why would someone even think of me as a ma'am? Thank you to Chris, the cable guy, who called me "Miss" all evening the other night. Maybe it's like my bizzaro mirrors that never seem to tell me when I've gotten chubby, until I see a photo and am like, WTF? How did I not see that happening?? I'm seeing gray hairs now, like more than I can pluck, so I have to face that I'm sort of older. E is in second grade and I know he's going to have questions I can't answer. Some questions, I'll never be able to answer.

My mom's whole immediate family is gone. My mom's sister died at forty-four of a rare form of cancer in 1988. My maternal grandmother died when I was in college, in the early 90's. My mom died in 2009 and my maternal grandfather died in 2010. I have no one to ask any questions. It's weird when a whole immediate family is dead. It's like *poof*, no one. All their stories, answers, secrets, went into thin air. I have extended family but we've never been close so I wouldn't even feel comfortable asking questions. Nor do I even really know what I'd be asking. I don't even know if they know anything. Like I said, none of this history ever came up with any family member I've ever spoken with. I had a hard time even remembering last names of extended family I used to know the surnames. Babies steal your brains.

B found out some interesting stuff, this past year, when a family member did one of those Ancestry DNA kits. I saw a coupon for one, so I finally bit the bullet and bought a kit myself. A guy I knew from a class I took with E as a baby told me he did one, because he was adopted, and there were kind of shady circumstances of his adoption. His parents "were not the kind of people you ask questions of that nature" and now it's too late because his dad passed and his mom is not of sound mind. He did a very comprehensive DNA kit when they first came out and found out an amazing wealth of things. Like, his parents were fairly religious, Catholic, while he was growing up. He was an altar boy. But he is genetically Jewish. He was shocked. Then I saw a post on Facebook from a friend who did a kit and she found all kinds of extended relatives who told her stories she'd never heard about her grandparents. It all sounded so cool.

23 and me is way more expensive than Ancestry so I opted for Ancestry. Maybe if I want to go further, I'll try 23 and me. But for now, I think Ancestry will suffice. I'd gone to a Jewish Genealogy seminar that Hadassah put on recently, but I think you had to know more than I know. And to be honest, it seemed like a lot more work, and with my A.D.D coupled with what a condescending a-hole the woman doing the seminar acted like, this spitting in a vial or whatever seems like way more up my alley.

So many people, Jews included, have said :::suspiciously::: over the years- "You don't look Jewish"(whatever that means to them), including the Rabbi that B originally asked to marry us. That just makes me more curious what my DNA heritage is, because if I did all that work for my Bat Mitzvah for nothing, I'm going to be pissed. However, now that hate/antisemitic crimes have gone up since the 2016 presidential election, maybe I'd be better off finding out I'm actually as Irish as my name instead of Jewish....but I digress. I couldn't help myself.

So when I bought my kit, I got a referral coupon for anyone who wants one. It makes a great, unique, gift also for that person who has everything and you don't want to just give a gift card. I think there are so many people that would want to do it but don't feel like they can justify the cost for themselves. Ten percent off a DNA kit. Use my link and we both get a deal- https://refer.dna.ancestry.com/s/gysga

*All things I've written about before. Use the search function on the main page of the Desktop version.


Mom's side: Rita, Barbara. Me, Edna & Milty







Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Rainbow Life


I was walking into Starbucks this morning when a woman stopped me and made a comment about my boots. I'm wearing purple/plum colored Uggs today. She said something like- "I always see people with different colored Uggs on and I like the way they look. But I never do it....".

I was just surprised. Suprised she said something like it was a big deal to have purple shoes. You know how long it took me to pick out something to wear on my feet today? As short as opening the closet and grabbing these boots. I'm wearing black, which I don't usually do, so I didn't go for the black boots. They were right next to each other- black and purple. I always choose the "color". Actually, when I got the black, the only reason I did, was because back in the day, they only came in black, brown or sand. I don't ever want anything in the beige or brown family, but I wanted this particular style of Uggs, so black was my only choice.

My newest coat is a raspberry color, which I was wearing today, with my purple boots. I have a lot of coats- I never get rid of anything. I think only one is black and I never wear it. I got it at Burlington Coat Factory just after college maybe, for my first post-college job. I keep it in case of a funeral or something. Every other coat is in color- hot pink faux fur, blue-green wool, light blue, green, teal, red, purple satin shiny, and more. Colors pique my interest. Make me happy. Put a spring in my step.

I just find it interesting that there are people who are afraid of color. For anything. Like the fashion police are going to jail them or something. We have this problem at work when people assume they have to have all white, eggshell or beige lampshades "just in case I change my color scheme". Most people are never changing the colors they naturally gravitate towards. Like if you're a beige person, you're never having the light bulb moment to switch over to hot pink. Or jewel tones. If you love jewel tones, you're most likely not switching to pastels. If you did, I'd be very surprised.

A customer came in to get a lampshade. She looked way cooler than her worry about a beige lampshade. She is in her late forties, was wearing jeans and boots, and funky bracelets in colors. I thought she'd be a fun customer- just by looking at her. Instead, she told me she got paint colors to exactly match each color in her oriental rug to match with the lampshade, chairs, couch, etc. I just stared. I told her that no one is taking her lampshade off to match it to the carpet to see if the colors are exact matches. I couldn't even believe she went to the trouble of getting paint swatches. If it's in the same color family, you're good. But no. She couldn't make a decision, she had to call her husband to get his input, and then she opted for eggshell. It's like a non-color. It might as well be invisible. Yes, there is decorating where you want the shade to be invisible, I know. I just don't get it or why you'd come to me to do that. For her, my point is, she was too afraid of doing it "wrong" so she opted for safe.

Another woman was in my store when this all went down. We were talking about opting for safe over taking a risk, just with color. She said she thinks it's a confidence thing. I can get on board with that. I definitely know that people care what other people think. I just find it odd, when you're over thirty, that just wearing or buying something for your home, in a color other than neutral would rock your world so hard. These seem like such minor decisions. It's one thing to LIKE neutral colors like beige, brown, tan, gray, etc - I get when there is a certain look with neutrals that someone is going for. It's another thing to be afraid because you feel like it's a big risk somehow. I even understand not wanting to feel like you threw away a lot of money. Maybe you don't want to have to second guess on a teal couch because it's over a thousand dollars and you don't have that to waste. But I got my purple Uggs for fifty-six dollars when The Find first opened. I don't consider that a huge investment to try a color if you think you might like it.

Aren't we supposed to have barren fields of fcuks (thanks for that one LaurenPetro) by the time we pass thirty? Are plum covered feet really going to make that much of an adverse difference? They might make you really happy. If so, then why would you even care if someone else thought they looked weird or whatever you're afraid of people thinking. When I had pink hair, a lady came into my store and said- "I would love that but I could never pull it off!". Why not? You only live once, right? If it's not dangerous, you can't get fired from your job, or arrested, then buy the purple shoes. Or get the pink hair. You'll feel better. We think people think about what we're doing or wearing WAY more than they actually do. I'll never tell you to get the beige lampshade though.

**Speaking of hair- I just got the best hair dryer. Don, my hairdresser of like twenty years, told me to get a Sam Villa dryer. So that's why I did. Now, my hair is probably down to my bra strap, and I'm drying it with this dryer in four to five minutes. I'm not exaggerating. I always take Don's hair advice- especially since my last dryer lasted me eleven years. And I don't know if it's just my imagination but I feel my hair looks smoother after using it too. This is the one you want- https://www.samvilla.com/products/hair-dryers/professional-ionic-hair-dryer - Read the reviews- they're all really good. I think I read it has the best rating of all the ionic hair dryers. It's really light too.


I first tried blue.

Then I did pink mixed with my highlights.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Cat Tales

We got a cat! E had NO IDEA a cat was even a possibility. We totally surprised him.



B had been saying no for so long, I didn't really think it would happen. I don't think I ever wrote about it but he'd said yes, like two years ago, but then pulled back just as I was about to go meet a cat down in Philly. I had been hoping for a Russian Blue and they had one at a shelter down there. Then, B, E and me were all at Houston's where B dropped the bomb- "Sorry, I can't do it". And that was that. He was worried about the cat smelling, hair all over, and the expense. He also just isn't a cat person. He's always had dogs. 

Our lifestyle doesn't lend itself to having a dog. We never go away, but in the summer, we'd been spending our Saturday nights sleeping over my cousin's condo down the shore, to go to the beach on Sundays. You can leave a cat overnight without a problem, expense, etc. You can't do that with a dog. We also don't have a yard at home, really. Not one a dog could just run. It's just not fair to the dog. Because we also don't have the time to be going to dog parks or whatever. The dog would be alone way too much. I had a hamster, when I was in middle school or early high school, I think. I wasn't getting involved with a pet that I had to clean out a cage. That would bring me NO joy whatsoever. I had enough problems with that damned Betta fish and the tank. What a PAIN in the ass.

You might say, "yeah, but what about a litter box? You have to clean that!". A litter box is NOT a cage. A cage has to be washed out and it's trapping stink in there. I can't explain it but even with a regular litter box- just a plastic box with litter, it's still different than an enclosed cage of what hamsters and guinea pigs live in.

Especially because I got the Litter Robot III - Open Air. This thing is like the egg from Mork & Mindy. It's huge. It's so cool. Basically, the cat goes in, does it's business, then depending on the time set- mine is the factory setting of seven minutes- the globe rotates, sifting out the pee and poop, and the waste falls into a drawer that has a bag/liner. There's a light indicator when the waste area is full, but I've been emptying it every or every other day. You just open the drawer, close up the bag and throw it away. I asked my cleaning people if they smelled cat and they said no. They said they do go into houses that stink from cat. So I'll take their word for it. I also have a baking soda box thing near the Robot. And B of course filled the house with his Vanilla Plug-Ins. Litter Robot

Acorn took to the Robot immediately. She likes to watch it cycle.

**I do want to add that our power went out this past Sunday morning. I'm kind of glad it did, because I realized- Omg, what am I going to do about the litter stuff?? Apparently other people have considered this because the Litter Robot company makes a back-up batter for it. Of course it's like $70 but I just bought it. Better safe than sorry. I got my Litter Robot on eBay for like a hundred dollars less than it costs retail so I felt like I could buy the back-up battery without feeling totally taken on this expensive poop house. Litter Robot Back-up Battery



The cat- Acorn. She's four. The rescue lady told me she's three, but clearly in her paperwork, she's four. Also, looking in her paperwork, apparently her name was Baby until she was surrendered. Then she was named Acorn. E took to Acorn so it stuck. I was thinking her name should be Hillary. As in Clinton. Since the only reason B really relented was because we were shell-shocked by the election and I was in a full on Ativan-taking state of depression. We were at work the next day, and in my listless haze, I saw a different cat (that turned out not to be available) that he agreed to let me get. Anyhow, Acorn stuck.

Acorn and the D-K family had some early growing pains though. Acorn is front declawed. (WE DID NOT DO THIS. My friend Coley told me not to tell people she's declawed. But- we didn't do it, and wouldn't do it. When they're surrendered, especially not a kitten, they still need a home and have a hard time getting one. No reason not to take one that already had this horrific surgery. It's not their fault). I don't know if it's because she's declawed, but she bites. The animal hospital tech where I met and picked her up from told me she does "love bites". But overstimulate her or who knows why else, she had been hiss/biting. Not to me though. It was like a horror movie, like The Bad Seed, where all these awful things are happening behind the scenes, but the main character is not seeing it. She didn't hiss/bite me, but she did it to E and B. It was bad.

E's hand on top, B's on bottom
I read in her paperwork that she bit the original owner in aggressive play and she was hospitalized with cellulitis for five days. Okay, well, seniors get cellulitis, so that isn't the bad part. But I couldn't have my husband and son scared of the cat. Especially since we got the cat mostly for E. I wasn't sleeping or eating because I was so stressed out. If I finally fell asleep, I was waking up in the middle of the night traumatized by it. The biting was mostly unprovoked. Yes, it could partially be because it's a new place, new people, and E was basically Lenny from Of Mice And Men with her. In her face.

You don't realize how much you don't know about cats until you get one. While I was up all night, I'd be reading cat information and blogs. I didn't know you have to let a cat come to you first- so they think it's their choice. I've been around cats, plenty. I just never really thought about it. With Cohen's cat, Maximus, he just immediately comes to me. I don't have to go to him. Acorn is ours though, and a new focus, I guess, and we go to her because she's there and it's a new thing to have a pet there. She also seemed okay with us touching her belly, but then she also bit B and maybe E for doing that. I then read that belly touching, even if they turn over and show it, is a real no-no. Who knew?? She's showing her belly- so you assume, that like with a dog, she wants you to touch it. Not so.

*See blog post about the cat belly- https://gocatgosf.com/tag/cat-belly/

The above link is written by a friend, Dan, that I've known since I was in middle school. He was my best friend's brother's friend so I saw him at her house all the time. He's a cat behaviorist. I know that sounds funny- not because I think it's funny, but everyone I've said this to thinks it's funny. It's real profession and for people with cat problems it must be a necessity. He's out in San Francisco though. But I needed help. I contacted Dan and he was going to do a Facetime/Skype call with me to discuss these behavior things.

*Dan's main page with a blog and other useful cat information, including his services, fees, etc:
Go Cat Go!

I was at my wits end. I had picked Acorn up on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (November 23). She hid under this gross couch in the basement, that came with our house, for two days. We didn't even know if she was alive or if this was normal (It is.). Then when she did come out, she'd be loving, then bite. I started calling her Cujo.

From the jump, I'd thought the whole process was too easy. The first time around when I was looking at cats, and I'd contacted rescues, I had to fill out extensive paperwork, I would need references from friends, family, vets. I practically had to sign in blood. With Acorn, I asked if she was good with kids, good for a first time cat owner. Rescue lady said "the cat is very sweet and gentle. Seems unfazed by dogs and cats. Always friendly to anyone who meets her".

She wanted me to set up a visit to meet. I chose two days later on a Saturday. Rescue lady told me she was away, and it "gets busy" on Saturdays, but I could visit Acorn where she was staying. I didn't know what busy meant. Like, if someone else came before me and wanted her, would they get her? I left my house at 8:15a so I'd be the first person there when they opened. When I went to visit her, the people there thought I'd take her right then if I wanted her. I was surprised- I thought this was just to meet her and see her temperment. I told them I wasn't prepared yet, but I wanted to come back that Wednesday, which was four days after I met her.



I still thought I had to be "chosen". I'd emailed the rescue lady that I wanted her but didn't hear from her for two days. I called the place Acorn was staying directly and they said I was set for Wednesday. My friend Alex and I went and picked Acorn up, got no information, and I was on my way with a cat. I didn't hear from the rescue lady again until Wednesday November 30th! I think that's a long time to check-in, when she knew this was our first cat ever. I've never had a dog either. I told her about the biting that day and she got back to me on December 2, in the afternoon.

She said, "Sorry for the delay". Yeah, me too Lady. She pretty much said that cats sometimes bite, she just needs to get acclimated. I sent her the pictures of E and B's hands. She said, (paraphrasing), that if it doesn't work out they take their animals back. I told her that I wasn't up to that yet- but I felt like I had no support, so I was going to a vet, have the behaviorist appointment set and I'd get back to her after. I didn't want to give Acorn up- when she's not biting, she's great. However, I was on the verge of tears every day and didn't know what to do. I'd point blank asked Rescue Lady if the cat was good with kids. I'd read in the paperwork after I took her, that the cat lived with a senior woman. How the hell would she even know if Acorn was good with kids?

I went to Dr. Dennis Sepulveda at Veterinary Wellness Center on Rock Road in Glen Rock. I can't rave enough about them all, especially the doctor. My appointment was for 4p. I'd had a difficult time getting Acorn in the carrier, and once I did, I ran out the door, with Acorn and E. It was 3:45p. I'd stopped at the bank across the street to activate my debit card because I didn't know how much it would cost. Of course my card wouldn't work. No time to fix it then. The vet's office told me the appointment would be about thirty minutes. I thought that was plenty of time to get E to swim practice in Ridgewood by five thirty. 

By the time I got to the vet at like 3:50p, I was already super emotional. This was a nightmare. I told them at the vet earlier, when I made the appointment for later, that I was just really upset and gave an overview of what was going on. When we got there at 4p, they took us in an exam room, and listened to my story, in depth. I went to show the pics of the bitten hands, but I couldn't find my phone. I thought maybe I left it at the bank or in the car, but I couldn't think about that at the moment.

The doctor came in, showed me all his bites and scratches, told me had six cats, and immediately put me at ease. Acorn was happily resting on the exam table, of course, not hissing, biting, or doing anything. The doc looked her over, said she has good teeth, and said she looked good all around. He told me about cats acclimating, gave me tips, printed some information out for me, answering questions I had that the rescue lady didn't bother to answer. Dumb questions, like do I leave lights or music on for her when we're not there. Is she going to eat my make-up if we let her all over the house? Then the techs cut her back nails and cleaned the wax out of her ears. Biting or hissing at no one. All in all, I was there until after five o'clock. The doctor spent a ton of time with us, making me feel like I didn't have to give Acorn back. That everything would be okay.

I went to pay and they said it was on them. IT WAS ON THEM. What? I've been to twenty doctors for E's tics, they spend very little time with him, and then charge me my fifty dollar copay, seeming like they don't give a crap. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude and hopefulness, that I just started bawling. Literally. I couldn't stop. They definitely earned my trust, respect, love, gratitude, etc. I highly recommend them. You know they have you and your pet's best interest at heart. My friend Carolina happened to see me, clearly crying, through the window of the vet and waited until I came out. I couldn't even tell her what was going on because E was going to already be late for swim practice. *Sorry Carolina. I told you I'd call you, but clearly, I've had a lot going on. 

Veterinary Wellness Center

I ran the cat in the house, didn't even look around, then took off toward the Ridgewood YMCA. Normally I could get there in like seven minutes or so, even at the five o'clock hour. BUT EVERY ROAD WAS CLOSED ON THE WAY. It was Ridgewood's Tree Lighting. I still didn't know where I left my phone. I dropped E at swim, then without even telling him, I left, went to the bank, went back to the vet (who probably thought I totally lost my mind), and still no phone. I stopped home, went to the basement, where the cat was living, and there was my phone, on the chair, where I left it when I was trying to get the cat in the carrier. Yay for no lost new iPhone, but my nerves were shot, man. SHOT.

I cancelled my appointment with Dan because I felt like I got all the information I needed for the time being. But, like I said, his blog is a great resource too. Part of me wanted to keep the appointment just so I could write about it. I have a lot of curious friends who were waiting to hear about it. But I really couldn't justify the expense when I have the vet right here to help me. At least for now.

Update: Acorn is doing better. No more hiss-biting. She's still doing the love bite thing. She's still nipping. For instance, she likes to climb up on me, sniff in my face, maybe lick my face and lay on me like a baby, with her head above the crook of my arm. But then I put my hand near her face, which she normally loves, and she went to bite at me three times this morning. It didn't seem like it was mean or angry biting, and had she connected, it may not have hurt, but it seemed like more than the love bite thing, and biting is biting. It's scary! And she's the one crawling and laying on ME. I didn't just grab her and put her there, so it is definitely confusing.

The problem is the unpredictability factor. Like, I don't mind her in my face at all, but I can't say I'm not afraid she'll bite me in the face. But it's only been two weeks. We're taking our time to get acquainted.

She's ventured upstairs now. Today was the first day I gave her the run of the house while not there. Just not our bedrooms. The doors are shut. Yesterday was a complete clusterfcuk. The cleaning people were coming for the first time since she moved in. The cable guy was coming too. They both needed to get into the laundry room where we are not allowing her. Too many places to hide where we couldn't get to her. And that's where all the cleaning supplies are. I'd thrown out my back and I had to keep following both the cleaning people and the cable guy around every time they went to the basement to make sure while they did what they needed to do, she didn't run in there while no one saw and locked her in. I ended up locking the cable guy in there at one point because he was so quiet in there, but that's another story. And only for a few minutes.

She was strutting around like she owned the place this morning. When I left she was under the couch in the living room. I guess I will see if there was any mass destruction or anything when I get home. Just like with kids, it's always the stuff you don't think about.



**Update #2- I'm home, she was under the couch in the living room where I left her at 10a. But she must have gone down to the basement at some point. She came out when E and I came home. Then someone rang the doorbell and she booked downstairs. 


***Other cat accoutrements that have made my life easier***

Pet Feedster Plus- https://www.petfeedster.com/

I'm only feeding dry food which I got the okay for from the animal hospital she was staying at, and the vet here. I'm using Wysong Vitality which the doctor said was a really good choice. This feeder is programmable for up to 10 meals in a day, I think. I only use two meals but I guess if you have multiple pets? I don't know. It's easy to program and holds ten pounds of food. 

Pioneer Pet drinking fountain- https://www.chewy.com/pioneer-pet-stainless-steel-drinking/dp/49052?

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Wanna Go Below Deck?

So, this woman who casts for the show Below Deck called me yesterday. She thought I might want to travel around the Caribbean on a yacht with five to eight friends for a once in a lifetime trip. She wasn't aware that I don't want to go anywhere. Or that I can't go anywhere. Aside from the Jersey shore. Below Deck sounds lovely but it's just not feasible for me to leave my kid, husband and store to cruise. I think my reality tv days ended after Blind Date. How can I top that anyway? Unless someone wants to do a reality show about Shades Of Soho.

B asked how she found me. I think I forgot to ask that. Or if I did ask, I forgot the answer. #Old

He says I always forget to ask the important stuff. Oh well. I told her I might know people who want to do this. Stein- I'm looking at you. This sounds right up your alley. I'm sure they have a gym on this yacht. DiRese, maybe? Heller? Someone? Bueller?

I told her I'd post the casting call for this though- in case it's something you want to do. #OnceInALifetime



Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Activism Not Slacktivism



It's been a week since Election Day and I've said nothing. Here. I don't know what to say. I have three rambling, disjointed, drafts of entries, but nothing I could post. I think for now it's safer to just tell you what you can DO. If you're not happy with how the election turned out, there are things you can do. I don't mean anything violent. I don't mean take to the bed. I don't mean fight on Facebook. And trust me, I've done my fair share of that. All I realized is that fighting with people on Facebook just makes me angrier and keeps me from sleeping. Rage sleeping is not healthy either. My Fitbit has been telling me I'm sleeping, on average, one hundred and forty-one minutes a night. I'm pretty sure that's not a recommended amount.

So I don't want to discuss the election right now. It's all too raw. A lot of us are walking around, not like the "whiny crybabies" we're being called, but as raw, open wounds. We're worried for the rights of our ourselves, friends, neighbors, coworkers, family members, and strangers. I'm feeling a lot like I've been talking to walls. Or banging my head against them. It's frustrating as hell for me and not making any difference that I can see or tell. Instead, I'd like to make the most of my limited free time.

I don't want to talk about Donald Trump. He's the President Elect. There are things I cannot control in life and this is one of them. I can't get bogged down in what I can't control. I can only control my reactions and give you the information to do what you're going to do to make sure no one loses any of the rights they currently have as Americans and as humans. My advice, to make any of this palatable, is to be an activist, not a slacktivist.

I need a little space and time, I think, to write anything else about my feelings, thoughts, etc about the whole thing. I'm cried out, talked out, and fought out. My contribution, for now, is the following:

If you want to do any Planned Parenthood volunteering, in NJ, these are the links to the community action nights calendars.

Hackensack: www.ppaction.org/site/Calendar?id=130679&view=Detail

Morristown: www.ppaction.org/site/Calendar?id=130680&view=Detail

Princeton: www.ppaction.org/site/Calendar?id=130681&view=Detail

Montclair: www.ppaction.org/site/Calendar?id=130686&view=Detail

Shrewsbury: www.ppaction.org/site/Calendar?id=130685&view=Detail

Something that will take probably 10 minutes of your day: Call your senators and reps local offices, as well as the offices of Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell. Ask that they refuse to work with the Trump transition team until Steve Bannon, a white nationalist and anti-semite, is removed from his staff. For those of us with an outgoing rep, I plan to call the outgoing and the incoming

Senators: http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

For those looking for something to do here is another opportunity should you be concerned about the Myron Ebell appointment: petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/do-not-allow-myron-ebell-lead-epa-transition

I took this list from Jezebel. But I wanted to make sure I have ALL the info RIGHT here, as to give even the laziest of the lazy the tools to do something with the most minimal of effort.
The article I took the list from: http://jezebel.com/a-list-of-pro-women-pro-immigrant-pro-earth-anti-big-1788752078

Here are a few organizations that work to fight for the rights of our most vulnerable populations, and ways you can volunteer or donate to make sure they are able to work harder than ever.

The American Civil Liberties Union works to defend individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. Donate here.

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Today, it fights against anti-semitism and bigotry as one of the largest civil rights organizations in the country. Find your local affiliate here and donate here.

Border Angels is an all-volunteer non-profit that advocates for immigration reform and social justice focusing on the U.S.-Mexico border. It offers educational and awareness programs and migrant outreach programs to San Diego County’s immigrant population. Donate here.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America offers enrichment programs and support for children when they’re not in school. Donate and learn about ways to volunteer here.

Campaign Zero advocates for policy solutions to end police violence in America. Fill out this survey to learn how to get involved.

The Center for Reproductive Rights is the world’s foremost legal advocate for securing women’s access to quality reproductive health care. Donate here.

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) is an advocacy and organizing group focusing on achieving human, civil, and labor rights for immigrants. Donate here.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is the country’s largest Muslim civil liberties organization. Donate here or find your local chapter here.

The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) is a national civil rights law and policy center devoted to advancing the rights of people with disabilities through advocacy, training, education, and public policy. Donate here.

EarthJustice is the largest nonprofit environmental law organization in the country, working to protect wildlife, for healthy communities, and for cleaner energy options. The organization represents its clients free of charge. Donate here, and sign up for action alerts here.

EMILY’s List is a political action committee that works to elect pro-choice Democratic women candidates to public office. Donate here, or find out how to how to run for office here.

Lambda Legal is a national legal organization dedicated to fighting for the civil rights of the LGBT population and people with HIV through litigation, education, and policy work. Donate here.

The Mazzoni Center offers healthcare services to LGBTQ population in Philadelphia, including trans clinical care services, walk-in HIV and STI testing, primary care, and addiction and recovery services. Donate here and find information about volunteer opportunities here.

NARAL Pro-Choice America is a political advocacy group focused on fighting for women’s reproductive rights and freedom. Click here to donate and here to volunteer.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) works to promote the civil rights of people of color and to eliminate race-based discrimination. Donate here, and find your local chapter for more ways to get involved here.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund fights for racial justice through litigation, advocacy and education. Donate and learn about ways to get involved here.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) advocates for victims and attempts to change policy surrounding domestic violence. Click here to donate.

The National Immigration Law Center is dedicated to fighting for the rights of low-income immigrants through litigation, policy analysis and advocacy, and various other methods. Donate or learn how you can attend a local training here.

The National Immigration Forum is another leading immigrant advocacy group that offers various programs to integrate immigrants into the workforce and obtain citizenship. Donate here.

National Organization for Women (NOW) is an activist organization, foundation and PAC that advocates for equal rights for women. Donate here, and look for volunteer programs, like clinic escorting, on your local chapter’s page.

The National Women’s Law Center has worked for over 40 years to enact policies and laws on behalf of women and families. Donate here.

The Native American Rights Fund provides legal assistance to Native American tribes, organizations, and individuals nationwide who may otherwise go without adequate representation. Donate here.

The New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault lists a number of ongoing volunteer opportunities in childcare, community training, rape crisis counseling, and legal advocacy here.

NextGen Climate Action works politically “to prevent climate disaster.” Click here to donate and click here to volunteer.

PEN America works to protect free and open expression in the United States and across the world through literature and writing. Donate here.

Planned Parenthood is the country’s leading sexual and reproductive healthcare provider. Click here for nationwide volunteer opportunities (including as a clinic escort) and click here to donate. Local chapters also list more extensive volunteer opportunities, so take a look at your specific chapter (here’s New York’s page) for more.

***Just for fun, you can make your donation IN HONOR OF Mike Pence. NOT in Mike Pence's name. Or he will receive the tax break. He will receive a certificate for every donation.***
Office of Governor Mike Pence
State House
Room 206
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2797

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) is the country’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, which operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-HOPE; online.rainn.org; rainn.org/es) and programs to help victims of sexual violence. Click here for information about how to volunteer for the hotline or in your community, and click here to donate.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press offers legal resources, support and advocacy to reporters to protect the First Amendment and freedom of information rights. Donate here.

The Reproductive Health Access Project is a non-profit that trains clinicians to make quality reproductive healthcare more accessible. Click here to donate.

Running Start is another organization dedicated to educating young women and girls about the importance of politics, through the Young Women’s Political Leadership Program and various other fellowships and internships. Donate here.

She Should Run is a non-profit that aims to get more women into elected leadership roles. You can donate here or anonymously ask a woman you know to run for office.

The Sierra Club is the largest grassroots environmental organization in the county, and works to protect millions of acres of wilderness and pass legislation like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. Click here for ways to give.

The Southern Poverty Law Center fights hate groups and bigotry using education, litigation, and advocacy. Donate here.

The Sylvia Rivera Law Project provides legal services specifically to low-income people and people of color who are transgender, intersex, or gender non-conforming. Click here to donate, and click here for to volunteer.

The Union of Concerned Scientists works to create solutions to the planet’s most pressing scientific problems through research, advocacy, and policy. Donate here.

The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights works to protect the best interests of children who come to the U.S. on their own. Donate here or learn about how you can volunteer as a Child Advocate in Chicago, New York, Houston, and Washington D.C. here.



Friday, October 28, 2016

Be Seen!

ATNY FALL KIDS & TEEN
5-INDUSTRY SHOWCASE DAYS
FREE IMPROVISATION CLASS INCLUSION

Now, Open to Just 8 Non-ATNY Class Actors
who want to be Seen!  Ages 7 - 25

917.763.1777

TELEVISION    FILM    COMMERCIAL    MUSICAL

Saturday, Nov 19th, 11:00pm - 3pm, Just $99
Sunday, Nov 20th, 11:00pm - 3pm, Just $99
Free Improvisation Class Included

Opportunity is Everything.
At our Last Agent Showcase Day,
16 of 23 Actors in class were requested.

Go for it.  First 8 Actors Each Day. 
CALL ATNY FOR INDUSTRY GUESTS. 

KIDS & TEENS, Ages 7 - 25

5-Top TV/Film & Musical Industry
Agents & Managers

11:00pm - 3:00pm


NYC'S TOP AGENTS & MANAGERS
BRING YOUR OWN MONOLOGUES, SCENES, COMMERCIAL OR SONG!

You got some talent, look or special skill and still need to be seen?  This semester, ATNY is opening it's Fall Showcase Day to 8 Non-Fall Students.  Why? Because we're getting requests.  So, register now. 

Call ATNY for Saturday & Sunday Industry List.
Great Opportunity for Actors w/o Reps.


Just $99
ATNY will follow up with Day Selection
Future Workshop Credit Only for Missed Night

Friday, October 21, 2016

Where Is Seinfeld?


 If only Seinfeld was still on, I'd be bombarding Jerry with requests to do a show about doctors and trying to get an appointment. At least I'd get a laugh about the current state of doctor's office staff. This is one of those things that's so stupid and annoying, I can't believe I have to even write about this. If I don't write about it, my head is going to explode. Between politics, other people's driving skills, and this, I don't know I'm not just walking around yelling in the streets like lunatic. I don't need any extra head explosion material.

This isn't even about the healthcare debate. It's not about Obamacare or rates or anything like that. It has to do with the simple task of just trying to make an appointment. Oh just call. No, no. You can't "just call" to do this seemingly easy thing. Why not? I HAVE NO IDEA.

Now, what happens, is, you have to find a provider. You go to the health insurance site. You do their "Find a Doctor" process, whatever that may be. Don't think you can just go ahead & trust that resource though! You have to double check with the doctor's office if they really do participate with your insurance! Then, it often becomes a game of "Who's on first?". IF, someone answers the phone, you ask them if they participate with XYZ insurance and they may know that. Try to find out any other details and it's probably a bust. They tell you to ask insurance. Insurance says "check with the doctor". By the time you've screamed at both of them you're too exhausted to even make any appointment. But that's only IF you get someone on the phone.

The new way stuff is going down is there isn't even a person answering the phone. No, you have to LEAVE A MESSAGE and someone will call you back. Except NO ONE CALLS YOU BACK. If they do call you back, guaranteed, you don't hear the phone, you're driving & can't pick up, you reach for it and hit decline by accident. It goes to voicemail. Only for you to call back and GET THE F'ING VOICEMAIL AGAIN. Another day, another lost day of getting an appointment. By the time you get someone and try to make the appointment, the only thing they have is months away.

Today is Friday. I've been trying to make doctor appointments for both E and I since MONDAY. Any idea how many I've successfully made? One. One out of five. When I do call a doctor's office, someone answers and it's actually easy, I get teary-eyed and thank the person profusely like they just handed me a Publisher's Clearing House check for a million dollars. I know they think I'm crazy and I might be. But just the act of getting the appointment is like jumping through rings of fire, naked except for nipple pasties soaked in lighter fluid.

There are SOME doctors who allow you to make appointments online and I'm even more thankful. That's the most efficient way. Let me SEE what's available and then put myself in there. Make me give notes, so if my case seems like it's going to be longer or not at a good time for the doctor, then they can call me to reschedule. But let me book the time and go from there! I feel like making-out* with any doctor that has any online booking. *Just to clarify: Only if they want to make-out, of course. I don't just pop a tic tac and grab them. 

Doctor's offices- they HAVE appointments, they just don't know how to GIVE the appointments. 

 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Maybe You're The *Cool* Mom


People post parenting articles all the time. Not "how to" parenting articles, but more like personal blogs about being a mom. They're stories about other moms, cliques, feeling like an outsider, and they usually equate being one of the "cool moms" with people who seem like they have it all together. Hair and make-up done at eight o'clock in the morning drop off at school, kids who are on time and look neat and stylish and everyone having everything they're supposed to have with them.

One of my friends shared one of these articles a couple of weeks ago and I've been thinking about it here and there ever since. They write about messy cars, messy faces, and messy life. They ask where "their" people are who share their inevitable mommy mess and love of carbs.

I think they don't notice that it sounds like their being "shunned" is their own doing.

I'm all for being inclusive. From children to adults. Mean Girls was supposed to be a tongue in cheek movie, not real life. It was about teens and shouldn't be going on in real life circles. I know that it does go on with adult women. All these mommy bloggers can't be lying about "Queen Bee Syndrome" where it's super hard to break into the mommy cliques, especially if you're the newbie.

However- if this goes on where I live, in small town suburbia, I have no idea. Because I really don't care. Am I crazy for not wanting to be part of any clique? I totally get wanting to belong, wanting to have friends, even wanting to be part of something bigger. I was in a sorority, believe it or not. But even back then, anyone in my sorority could tell you, I was in it, but I wasn't "IN".

What does not being "in" mean? It means, I joined, I found people I liked, I was closer to some more than others, but it wasn't my whole identity. I wasn't trying to be a social climber. I was still my own person and I didn't have a specific group within the group. If there were cliques, I was vaguely aware, but it wasn't a thing for me to ruminate over. It's the same with the mommy scene. I've lived in the same town for a little over ten years now. I've had a kid for seven and a half of them. I've joined some groups, was part of the same preschool for four years, and now I'm in the public school, so I've met a lot more people.

I have friends in town. But I'd say it's only been in the last two years I've found "my people". They live in town but some don't have kids at the same elementary school, one has kids younger than mine. We're only a group when and if I bring them all together for one night to celebrate my birthday, but we're not a clique. Other than that, I'm a lone mama and I've never thought much about it.

By the way, I never look washed to go to drop off and most of the time, I don't look any more put together in the afternoon for pick-up. Maybe because that's my choice, and not a casualty of having a bunch of kids causing mayhem. It's just me staying on the treadmill in the morning until the last second before coming up to make sure all is ready for school. Or I've gotten too involved in social media arguments to have time to put on make-up before work. I can't even wear mascara if I wanted to for like at least a month because my eyelashes are falling out.

I don't go to school scoping out any particularly unwashed and slovenly moms to bond with though. Or look at ones who are decked out like I'm Janis Ian coveting a spot in The Plastics.


Didn't we all learn not to judge a book by the cover? I have mom friends that are all different. One doesn't leave the house without full hair and make-up, jewelry and heels. HEELS. Another just looks put together no matter what. I don't know what makes her look more put together than the average person, without trying. It's just life. Then there are some more like me, where it just depends on the day and what's going on. Of all the things to judge, looking put together or hasn't been a topic of conversation, as far as I've paid attention.

This frame of mind that as a mom, you have to be either polished and primped, or you're the one with french fries falling out of your minivan is the one that makes a person feel like an outsider- to themselves. There is no rule. Why would you automatically assume the "cool mom" group is the one you perceive yourself to be the opposite?

For me, any kind of expectation is a standard I don't feel like dealing with. I don't even like Halloween. Never did. Never wanted to be anyone or anything than me. Same with life. I just don't want to be anyone but me. It would be too much pressure, time & effort to wash my hair enough for the fancy crowd. I'd never drive a minivan either. My kid is always on time and dressed nice, but I forgot it was ice cream day today and didn't give him money to buy. What group should that put me in? Besides the "my kid is going to be pissed at me after school" one. Am I supposed to care? People either like me or don't. I can be an acquired taste. Whether they do or don't has little to do with how E or I look on a given day. I'd bet anything on that.

Maybe mommy cliques are like how I think of family. B and I don't like obligations. The people we see are people we want to see and spend time with. The family we've made, not the families we were born into. I don't want to be obligated into a group. From what I've seen, groups now are no different than in fifth grade, when I first learned that a group is nice until people turn on each other from within. I'm sure there are some groups where that doesn't happen, but from my limited view, I've seen it. It's natural though. You're just going to have more of a connection with some over others. I guess it depends on how catty the people in your crowd are as to how, when, why or if people are going to turn on each other enough to have hurt feelings.

There is also perception of cliques. Do you really know that all these people really like each other and hang out all the time. One article referenced seeing events on social media where they weren't invited. As if it has to be said, social media is a glimpse. You make up your own story about the photos. Even if these people do hang out all the time, who knows if you'd even want to do what they're doing? I don't often invite people I don't know to hang out outside of the school yard. And I'd consider myself somewhat of an extrovert. I don't invite them because if I don't really know them, I don't really think about them. Sometimes an outing of moms happens organically because they just happened to be in the same place at the same time. 

If you have a clique and you're happy, great. If you don't but you want to be in one, that's fine too. I just think that if you're looking for "your people", you can't just automatically stereotype people by how they appear. Maybe some of my friends befriended me thinking they were doing a mitzvah for a homeless lady. Only for them to find out later, I often look like I do in public because I want to be incognito. Incognito out of fear someone is going to try to sell me multi-level marketing products. If I look like I don't shower, no one is going to try to sell me expensive face creams, diet shakes or pants with pictures of doughnut holes on the crotch.

These articles remind me of online dating profiles that say "I'm just as comfortable in sweatpants as I am in a little black dress". You should be! You don't have to pick one or the other. If moms where you live tell you that do, maybe you should think about moving. You live around assholes. Or if people seem to get to know you, then don't want to hang out with you, maybe it's time to think about what you're doing to put people off. But, if no one is telling you this, and you're just making the assumption because you feel somehow less than the other moms around you, that's on you Girlfriend. Then instead of moving, you need a good therapist and that character Stuart Smalley to teach you how to tell yourself, "I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!".





If you have just one person to complain about  not being in the "cool moms" to, then you have more than you think you do. It's all in how you look at it. Maybe there are moms looking at you and your one friend as a clique they wish they were in.

Why is it always the pajama-drop-off mom that writes these articles anyway? If you are pajama mom, then just own being pajama mom. You don't need to self depricate about being pajama mom or thinly veil feelings about the moms that aren't just because their version of looking like a mom doesn't mirror yours. Get over your lack of desire or ability to get dressed.

Confidence is attractive. If you believe you are worthy of friends, then friends you will have. They just don't appear overnight. Good friendships take time to cultivate. You put yourself out there, meet people, and then after some time, you decide who you want in your circle. YOU decide. Not "who is going to let me in?". It took me years to find my people. I can appreciate them for who they are. Like the Breakfast Club, I have the Type A, the Introvert, the Ethel or Lucy, the Oracle, the Mary Poppins, the Extrovert, the Mama Bear. Also like the movie, everyone one of them, including me, could be any of those on any given day. That's how I like it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Stuff Him With Books




I've lost all attention span since trashing my Blackberry for an iPhone. I think that was in 2008. Believe it or not, I was one of the last hold-outs I think. It may have even been later. Not that my attention span was strong before, but I was able to at least read a whole book. I'm a fast reader too. Since the iPhone, I get distracted too easily. I always almost exclusively read entertainment memoirs. Like celebrity, actor, musician, sports star memoirs.

Prior to the phone, I'd get engrossed in a book, and just read all the way through. Now, I'm reading, get into it, and get to a part where I want more information, I pick up my phone and start going down the Google rabbit hole. I do this with magazines too! I was reading People, reading the Jana Kramer (actor/singer) story, where she was talking about being in an abusive relationship with a guy who went to jail for attempted murder (on her).Of course, I started Googling her/him and I forgot to even go back to the article. I'm convinced that's why people stopped reading print magazines. Because you can get all the info online.

When I was kid though, I read ALL the time. I LOVED reading. I can remember two of my favorite books- The Girl With The Silver Eyes and another one I can't remember the name- one girl wished she had this other girl's life. Somehow they did a body switch. The main character knew but the other girl, who was then in the main girl's body, didn't know what was happening. She flipped out and everyone thought the main character lost her mind. It was a young adult book. I read all the Sweet Valley High books lovingly. I read a lot and fast. I just assumed all kids liked to read. No, no. That's not the case. I assumed my own kid would love to read. No, no. That is not the case either.

He just doesn't care. He doesn't have trouble in any subject in school. He's just disinterested in reading. He can read. He loves learning things. He'd just rather be active. Ask him what his favorite part of school is, he'll tell you recess. I'm sure that's typical, but as a parent, you worry. Or at least, you'd just prefer a more cerebral answer.

The lack of reading enjoyment was bumming me out. I want him to love reading. We've read to him almost every night of his life. He'd be into what we'd read him. Just never interested in doing it himself. I would buy him books through the Scholastic order for school, picking things I'd think he'd totally love, and he just wasn't into them. I do think maybe I tried too soon. Before he was fluent enough. He'd get frustrated, then bored, and give up.

For some reason, I got a free three month trial to Audible. I didn't realize Audible is owned by Amazon. I think I bought something on Amazon that gave me this free trial. I already knew I'm never listening to books. I have a hard enough time keeping up with Howard Stern and the For Crying Out Loud podcast, where incidentally, Audible advertises on. I don't need someone reading to me- I need my mind not to wander. Even as I'm writing this, I'm going back and forth to Facebook. I have multiple tabs open and see I have FB notifications I can't let myself ignore.

I got this free trial and with it, I got a book credit for every month I stay on it. I didn't realize this because I never went on the app. I had put in my calendar when I needed to quit so I wouldn't be charged the fourteen dollars and change it normally costs a month for membership. When I opened the app to see how to cancel, I saw I had three credits good for any books Amazon carries that come in audio. I thought- well, if I can't get E to read, maybe it would be good to have HIM listen to voice books. However I can stuff him with the books, it's positive for him. Of course I'd rather have him read, but even with homework, for the past two years, the teachers put on the homework sheet- "Read for fifteen minutes or be read to for fifteen". This would be like us doing it. We'd still do it, but he could do this instead of playing games on the iPad.

Now, the iPad and video games is sort of B's hill to die on. Lax about other things, B hates the video game phenomenon. We NEVER give him the iPad in the house because it's just not necessary. I don't limit "screen time" in terms of the television. I turn that bitch on as I walk in the door and I practically have a tv in every room. HOWEVER, E will do other things when the tv is on. And I don't even always let him watch his stuff. If we're home together, I may be watching General Hospital, so that's just what we're watching. He has never even thought to ask to go in another room to watch his stuff, because the sunroom is just where we hang out and where his toys are. He gets into GH, but he'll also build Legos or Lincoln Logs, Playstix, puzzles, etc. With the iPad, it's just catatonic holding the screen.

The iPad makes both B and I crazy. There is a weird crappy attitude that comes over him with the iPad and we're not having it. When people ask about limiting screen time, I say he's only allowed the iPad on long car trips or swim meets. They think that's excessively strict. But we don't ever use the iPad to watch tv shows or movies so I think that's the difference. We use the tv to watch tv. He doesn't need the iPad to play games because he acts like an a-hole when playing games.

I used my three Audible credits to get three books for E. I put Audible on his iPad. I don't know why but no matter how much the book costs on Audible, it's worth one credit. So I "bought" the first Harry Potter book in the series, because B and E had just read the newest one together and they were REALLY into it. I also bought The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. I thought it seemed Harry Potter- ish. Lastly, I bought a medley of the Ramona Quimby books. That cost like twenty-nine dollars in comparison to the others which cost somewhere between fifteen and twenty dollars. But it was "free" with my credit. Even if I was paying for Audible though, that's part of the deal - you get a free credit a month.

He started listening to Ramona and he said he liked it, but he didn't seem JAZZED. Then he listened to a little Harry Potter and he liked it more than Ramona, but still not taken with it all. I thought, ok, this isn't going to do it. I'll just cancel. Then, the next day, he started listening to The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe and something CLICKED. He wanted to listen to it for at least a little while every day. Then, he had library at school. I told him to ask the librarian for something like that book. He did. He was so excited after school that we went to go play on the playground and he said he was going to sit on a bench and read for a little while first. I was VERKLEMPT! That never has happened before. So, instead of running around with his friends, he literally walked over to the bench and started reading. Of course that only lasted like ten minutes but it was certainly a great start!

Then, last night he wanted to read some of it to B instead of B reading to him. Then he asked to listen to some more of The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe before he went to sleep. I'm kvelling. Of course you can! Now, he's still gullible and he thinks I have an app that can see what he's doing on the iPad and in life at all times. I just wanted to put that out there so you aren't thinking he's conning us and really playing games.

So I'm here to say, don't despair if you don't have a naturally interested reader. You just have to find their *thing*. I know that seems like common sense, but I really didn't think we'd find his thing to spur an interest in reading. I thought he'd be like B and just not be that into it. Or me with no attention span. I think the last full book I read in a three day period non-stop was Corey Feldman's memoir- I couldn't put it down. If you don't have a kid who seems to like reading, try Audible or some other book on tape thing. I don't even know other alternatives. Someone was telling me yesterday that you can get digital "books on tape" at the library in town. Audible seems to work fine so I'm sticking with it for now. I'll take whatever works!


Update: 9:17p, still reading, p.85!





*I'm in no way affiliated with or getting paid by Audible to write this. 


Monday, October 10, 2016

Rape Culture and Triggers



Yes. People are tired of hearing about the upcoming election. They're tired of hearing slams on "their" team, their player. They're tired of hearing about this tape of disgusting conversation between Billy Bush and Donald Trump. I've heard- "It was ten years ago!" and "Trump wasn't running for president then!" and my favorite- "But Bill Clinton...!". If you're tired of reading about it, close out this window.

Guess what? I'm tired of people defending Donald Trump, no matter what he says or does. There is no defense as a candidate for the presidency. I think Maya Angelou was the one who said- "If someone shows you who they are the first time, believe them". Donald Trump has shown from ten years ago through today exactly who he is. Supporters are filtering out the garbage stuff as "not really him" and just twisting the rest of it to their own interests.

Nevermind anything else- perpetuating rape culture in this country is what I want to discuss now though. It's a trigger for many of us who have been in some way sexually assaulted or harrassed, for other women to accept this behavior as "men will be men". Or calling this "just locker room talk that all men engage in at some point in life". Even if you wanted to talk about a less mature person making stupid comments, Donald Trump was fifty-seven when he made those comments about grabbing women's pussies and getting what you want sexually when you're a "star". He can't get a pass on being young and stupid. Especially since he continues to degrade women. He may not have been caught talking about grabbing pussies this year, but he still fat shames and objectifies. None of which is presidential in the least.

I mentioned triggers. Every time someone says what he said "isn't that bad" and doesn't affect his ability to be a great leader, it's a slap in the face to those who have been on the receiving end of that kind of deplorable, disgusting, treatment. It's unfathomable how anyone can give a plausible explanation to their daughters how they can excuse this away. Someone on Facebook said, "Don't we have bigger things to worry about than him having a potty mouth?". No, we don't. Because clearly you don't know the difference between potty mouth and talking about taking women sexually without their consent. There IS a major difference. *I* have what would be considered a potty mouth. I'm not offended by potty mouth. By cursing. This and that is comparing apples and oranges. One thing IS actually just words. The other is discussion actions where someone is dominant and someone is unwillingly submissive. One is called potty mouth and one is called rape culture.

I have a story. I don't know if I've ever even told my husband this story. I don't think I told my boyfriend at the time either. Because when this happens to you, there is part of you that feels like maybe there is something you could've done to prevent it from happening. Did you give off a signal? Give him the wrong idea?

It's a little scary to tell this kind of story even now, because I know there are going to be people judging. The internet is always judge and jury. But it is what it is. I'm forty-two now and of course hindsight is 20/20. Nothing I can do about that now.

I was seventeen years old. I was in a pretty serious relationship for about eight months or so by the time this happened. I was always a flirt but never indulged in willy-nilly sexual behavior. I'd had boyfriends, all had been pretty good to me by that point. Very respectful. Guys who cared, didn't pressure me to have sex. So I didn't. My parents told me that if I didn't have sex, I'd have the upperhand. I believed them. I was a virgin until this boyfriend I had when I was seventeen. Up until this boyfriend, other guys had coined the nickname for me- V.A.P.O.I. (Virgin And Proud Of It). Even losing my virginity was a really good experience though because he really loved me. I never felt used or experienced pressure with him or anyone prior. He was a little older than me but careful to let me be in control of that aspect of our relationship.

Like I said though, I was always very social and what you'd call- a flirt, but I thought that was normal. I liked the attention but never planned to act on it and no one ever made me feel like I had to act on it. I was naive and very trusting. I had no reason not to be.

I worked like three days a week at a telemarketing place my senior year of high school. I met all these new friends there, of all ages, guys and girls. Of course it was more fun with the guys though and there were more guys that worked there in general than females. We worked in four hour blocks, different people doing different surveys. You would sit next to the people working on the same survey. If the managers were feeling nice, they'd let you work on the same survey as your friends so you could sit together.

I started sitting next to this guy a lot and we struck up what I thought was a friendship. He was twenty-three, sort of good looking in a nerdy kind of way. He wasn't big- not much taller than me and not stocky. He was in law school. He was smart and he seemed interesting. He lived a few towns over from my hometown. I had my boyfriend who I loved and had no plans to cheat on. But flirting with him was a way to pass the time in between surveys. It's funny, I still call it flirting, putting the onus on that, when really, it could've just been misinterpreted talking. I call it flirting because somehow he got an idea that there was going to be more than talking, so here, I assume still I must have projected that. When the reality is, he was twenty-three and I was seventeen. He shouldn't have been thinking anything of the sort. Or at least thinking that maybe the conversations wasn't meant the way he was taking it.

I had ongoing community service hours to do at a church near his apartment because of a motor vehicle ticket. That's another story entirely. It was a lot of hours over many months. He kept telling me that I should stop by his apartment some night, on  my way home from community service. Just to see his apartment and hang out. I hadn't taken him up on that but something made me impulsively decide to do that one night. I thought I'd just stop by quickly, chat a little, and leave. It was a school night and I think I was done at community service at eight o'clock. I thought I'd hang for like an hour and go home.

I stopped there. I can still picture his apartment. It was the upstairs of a two family house. Or some kind of apartment in a house. It was very private and had it's own entrance. I can remember going up a pretty long staircase and all of a sudden getting a weird feeling, like maybe this was a bad idea. I ignored that feeling and continued in to his apartment where there was nowhere to really sit but the bed. Then I really felt weird. I talked for a few minutes and then said I was going to go home.

He proceeded to grab my arm and try to kiss me. I told him to stop and tried to get away. I told him that he knew I had a boyfriend. He said that I knew what I was coming there for, not to play dumb. That I wasn't leaving because I being a total dick-tease. I got really nervous, like, how did I get into this mess? Did I subconsciously know what I was going there for? I didn't think I did. I was second guessing myself, but I just knew I had to get out of there. He had a grip on my arm, but I said I was going. I'd never felt like he was imposing, physically, till that moment. But as I write this, I feel like I'm remembering he was into some kind of martial arts.

I really think when he really looked at my face, he got nervous in that moment too, because he was in law school and working or interning for a law firm. I didn't know anything about law firms then, but it was probably a prestigious law firm and lucky for me, I think he saw his future career flash before his eyes. The thought of what might happen to HIM in an aftermath outweighed what he wanted sexually. He let go of my arm and basically threatened me. He said something to the effect of I better not tell anyone, especially because he knows and I know that I wanted it. That I was a child trying to act like an adult and I'd be "sorry" if I told anyone.

I felt so dirty when I left. I felt dirty and not like myself for weeks after. I had to see him at work for another few months until I left for college. Some would say that nothing really happened. That I was lucky to have escaped without anything else besides the grab of my arm and the threat. I didn't feel like I could tell anyone because I thought people would think it was my fault for going there. I didn't tell my boyfriend, who was also who I considered my best friend at the time. I didn't tell him because he was very jealous and I knew he'd get angry that I even went there. He always said I was naive to guys liking me. I didn't tell my mom because I wasn't supposed to go anywhere but home after community service. I had to just live with it and be glad I got away relatively unscathed.

What ever happened to that guy? I've followed his career somewhat. I obviously never forgot him. There was no internet until years after he did what he did to me. Once there was, I looked him up. I didn't know what I hoped to find but it wasn't what I found! Guess what he's doing these days? Well, he's a highly-respected JUDGE. Yes, folks, a judge. AND, he's presided over rape cases. Awesome.

Now, granted, he may have never done something like that again. I don't know. What I do know is I will never forget that night. I will never forget him. And when people, especially woman, make light of or excuses for vile things a man says about taking a woman sexually against their will, I think about that night again. And how I felt like no one would care or be on my side. How they'd say I deserved it. How I felt like I may have deserved it.

If we don't hold the person trying to be elected to the most powerful position in the world to a higher standard of treatment and talk of others, who do we hold? If we don't hold the POTUS nominee to that higher standard, why would a twenty-three year old law student feel like he should be held to any standard? If we let it just be men being men, those are men going out with your sisters, your moms, your daughters. Nevermind that they're just people on their own- but it seems to have to be put in a closer perspective for some. As parents, how do you explain this kind of talk and thinking to your daughters? Do you tell them men are just pigs? How do you explain why you would be with a man at all if they all just talk like that? Do you just tell them not to do anything to deserve it? What about your sons? Is this what you want them to think is acceptable talk and action toward women?

Sure, the country has big problems as we stand. But I'm stymied that the perpetuation of rape culture isn't as high up on the priority list as the other things. How do you quantify sexual assault or attempted sexual assault as less than other things. We don't live in caveman days where men just club and grab their women by the hair to do as they please. I have a son. There is no way I'd ever allow it to be acceptable for him to talk or think that way. Somehow, we excuse the person who is seemingly wants the job to lead us all. Billy Bush got suspended from his job. Rightfully so. Just for not speaking up. Yet, the person who actually talked the talk is allowed to run for the biggest, most important job in the land. With people clapping. Condoning calling her the C-word and worse.There is something very wrong with that.

Don't tell me that rape culture in this country doesn't exist. Every time discussion comes up about lewd and vile things that Donald Trump has said about women, people bring up Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton who isn't running for office. And you can think anything Bill did or was accused of is horrifying. But that doesn't make this other wrong any less important. You can concurrently feel like they're both horrifying and still neither is Hillary's fault. It doesn't make Trump's behavior any less wrong because someone else did something wrong. Wrong is wrong. And wrong is wrong when someone is running for President. People want to blame and call Hillary out now for Bill Clinton's indiscretions, for staying with her husband. Accusing her of covering up for his cheating and whatever other sexual atrocities of which he's been accused. Hear me. Really hear me. SHE was a victim. In our rape culture, she's to blame. There is also something very wrong with THAT.

Kelly Oxford, author and social media personality tweeted asking women to tweet back with their own sexual assault stories. She thought if no one responded she'd take the tweet down. By Saturday night she said she had NINE POINT SEVEN MILLION TWITTER INTERACTIONS. Read that number again and then try to deny there is rape culture here. Read more here: Kelly Oxford rape culture tweets