Monday, January 23, 2017

Marching for ALL

So much has been written about the Women's March this past Saturday. It almost seems redundant to write about it some more. But I want to remember this day, being part of the right side of history. I'm writing about my experience so I can burn this experience into my brain, and remember how amazing it felt, being part of all that unity and positive energy, coming together, with all different kinds of people, for a common cause.

My friend Amy organized a group going to NYC. I knew I couldn't go to DC because I had a commitment I couldn't change on Sunday morning. I couldn't take the chance of not being back on time from DC, and having no way to control it going by bus. A lot of my local friends were going on the buses.

I'd been on the fence about going to the march in NYC. Just because it didn't really fit into my busy schedule and I didn't have childcare. B works every Saturday, he has no choice. That's just how it works. I thought about bringing E. B wasn't too keen on that. I think if I pressed the issue, he would've been fine with it, but I wasn't sure myself. I wanted to be able to be on the go and what if he needed to go to the bathroom? There were just too many variables.

My friend Megan happened to ask me to walk last Wednesday night. I mentioned going to the march to Megan and how I had no one to watch E. She volunteered to watch him before I could even get it out of my mouth. My first question was, "Why?!". She has two boys and I can't imagine wanting to add another one in. She said that she can't march, so she'll watch E, so I can march for both of us. It just goes to show how it takes a village. Once Megan offered, I knew I had to go. Yes, I was marching for both of us. It was so much bigger than me. Or me and Megan. It's marching for ALL.

Me, before the march.
Realizing why you're involved and participating in peaceful protest is energizing, inspiring, and extremely powerful. I marched for everyone who will be affected by the new administration's policies and for generations after me.There's this ignorant blog post going around social media. I don't want to talk too much about it because I don't want to give the post any credence. It's basically an over privileged woman who plagiarized a bunch of other people's posts & comments and cobbled it together to make her own blog entry. It was about how she doesn't support the march because the march was only about people who think the same and people who hate Trump "even though he hasn't done anything yet". I almost couldn't go on reading it because my brains exploded. It was so poorly thought out and written that I'm most offended as a writer.

She went on to say that she can't take anyone seriously wearing a "va-jay-jay" hat. Well, I can't take someone seriously who can't use the word vagina. Not to mention, it wasn't a vagina hat. It was a pussy hat. It was a pussy hat, with ears, because our President said he can grab women by the pussy. So he can say it and it's okay, but women can't wear a hat and call it pussy because that's crass? Or disgusting? Help me logic, HELP ME. There was a whole tear about how she can do anything as a woman and women aren't oppressed in any way. For some reason, she then listed a bunch of other countries where atrocities happened to women and called us out for not caring about them. Which of course, she has no idea what any of us care about, and has nothing to do with anything anyway. She said none of us were marching "for her". Some people applauded her and said we weren't marching for them either.

Really? Aside from the complete untruth that there were people unwelcome at the march, whether you want to believe it or not, we WERE marching for all of you. It was a WOMEN'S MARCH. It was a march to benefit women. Maybe you personally don't have to worry about any of the issues we were there for- autonomy over our bodies, equal pay, immigration, sexual assault, LGBTQ rights, workplace discrimination and/or harassment, etc. You, YOU, don't need to worry about any of these things.

You can say your daughters, granddaughters and great granddaughters don't need anyone marching for them, because you assume they'll live the same life as you? Unless you are clairvoyant, you don't know what's coming down the pike for your offspring, and their offspring. I'd assume you'd want them to be able to live in a world where they can do and be anything they choose, get equal pay for it, and be able to make choices over their own bodies. Not want them to have abortions. Want them to be able to do whatever they have to do for their health, safely and legally. Regardless of your own personal beliefs for you, at this time. To me, this movement isn't about me and my beliefs. Or what affects just me. It's about the future and the bigger picture. I want to leave this world knowing I left it better for the women after me.

I don't know what my great-grandmother believed in. She probably never even thought about a woman president. Women only got the right to vote in August of 1920, nevermind a woman for president. Someone had to march and protest for me to have the right to vote. For you to have the right to vote. Whether my great grandmother believed in it or not- someone else marched. Someone else protested. Someone else got it done. So don't tell me we weren't marching for you or other girls or women in your family last Saturday. If we have rights it's because people were willing to fight for them. It came a little too late because we got this...person in the white house now, but better late than never.

I've seen people talk about how disgraceful we all were. I posted a photo of some fellow marchers holding a sign that said the F word and "No". That was it. On Saturday at some point, a girl I knew from college wrote on my page, under the photo, "Disgraceful". I thought about answering- I mean, I had an answer- "I know, it's disgraceful that we have to do this at all. It's disgraceful that a man who describes sexual assault in a jokey manner and a right for him to do is our president. It's disgraceful that you have a daughter and think marching peacefully for her rights in the future is disgraceful, but having a man who speaks to people the way he does, makes fun of people with disabilities, and picks apart women's appearances as sexual assault-worthy or not worthy is not disgraceful. Yes, it's disgraceful that he's spending his time fighting with celebrities and trying to discredit any press that writes anything negative (but true) about him. It's pretty disgraceful that he's picking cabinet members that don't believe in science, want to decimate public schooling and who don't even understand the jobs they're being appointed to do".

I didn't answer, at all. I didn't feel like fighting on a day that I had a high on from all the positive energy I was taking in. I just deleted the comment.

I met amazing men and women on Saturday. My fighting spirit was renewed. It got people off their couches watching the Kardashians to do something. Most of the people I see calling us all disgraceful were and continue to be doing it from behind a computer screen. Meanwhile, I'd like to know what they've actually done to better society. What do they stand for? I keep hearing financial conservatism. Are we going to see thousands of people dressed as hundred dollar bills marching? I doubt it. Because most can't articulate what they stand for beyond- "What about Hillary? She's a liar and a criminal! Lock her up!". Someone I know, who lives in a bubble of money and privilege said- "The working white man has been forgotten". I don't even know how to answer that one. Clearly, there are a decent amount of people who believe that. So I guess that's what they stand for? The forgotten working white man. I wish I had an emoticon of my best stare for that one.

I'll take real activism over social media slacktivism any day. It felt so good to be surrounded by people who want to take action over real issues that should concern everyone.

People like this blogger girl want to keep saying how we're all judging Trump "before he does anything". Wake up. He's done enough. We've all been watching since November 10th. Stop saying to give him a chance. We HAVE. And every day, every appointment, every tweet, is worse than the last. How about, that now, the words "alternative facts" are going to go down in history? It's been chance after chance after chance and he's been in office for a few days.

I totally gave him a chance. I said, "Self, maybe he's not Orange Hitler steeped in buffoonery and assholery. He has this chance- maybe he'll take it. He can pick a dream team of the best of the best- the smartest, most accomplished of both sides- say F party lines and create an amazing cabinet of extraordinary people."

Then we got the parade of fools that most average citizens wouldn't even take calls from. A collective douche canoe of ignorant, unqualified, over-privileged, extremely wealthy, self-serving, marble-mouthed, dregs of society who have to defend and back peddle on their racist, antisemitic, xenophobic, homophobic, sexist, anti-science, hateful, past public remarks. I'm not sure I can choose which cabinet pick is most distressing and should be most distressing to everyone, but for today, I'm going with Betsy DeVos, the woman chosen to be Secretary of Education. I'm really wondering how the Trump supporters with kids in public school, and those in public school with disabilities are feeling right about now. I know I'm scared shitless about what this woman would do to public education.

We are not whining and complaining because our candidate lost. We are rightfully scared that we and/or other people will have rights stripped away. We are rightfully scared because of all the things Trump has said he's going to do and the scary assembly of people he's put together to help him do it. Anyone who says we need to just "get over it", really doesn't get it. No one is going to just get over having their rights trampled on. No one should. That's how WWII happened. By people just laying down and rolling over, and saying, "I didn't think they were coming after me". 

Does marching *DO* anything? Yes. It shows that we're here, we're loud, we care, and we're not going away. If anyone wants to pick up a history book, there have been protests all through the time we've been here. If no one protested and marched, women wouldn't vote, black people would still be in the back of the bus and drinking from separate fountains, and gay people would all be in conversion therapy somewhere and definitely NOT be allowed to marry. People are always fighting for something or some group. We all have reaped the benefits of other people's activism, whether we were part of it, believed in it, or not. Even the right to protest is a benefit we have here in this country that doesn't exist in others. 

Do some people give peaceful protest a bad name by using violent protest? Of course. There are always going to be bad eggs with their own negative agenda. However, lumping us all together, calling all the protesters disgusting, just shows ignorance of epic proportion. I know plenty of Trump supporters who are indignant as hell as being lumped in with the KKK. Do I believe that every Trump supporter I know is home goose-stepping in white hoods? Come on. Of course not. So don't throw everyone in a pussy hat in the same category as those looting and causing damage.

This fight isn't even about party. It shouldn't be. That's the telling part of this whole thing for me. For the the millionth time, I feel, I will say that I do actually have friends who are registered republicans.  I doubt that they ever voted democrat in a presidential election. I don't know that they've voted democrat in any election. We've disagreed on candidates before, have had intelligent and friendly debate. They still aren't Trump supporters, didn't vote for him, and went out of their way to tell me so. They wanted me to know that this isn't the kind of "republican" they believe in. I also have friends who voted for Trump or might have but we never discussed it on purpose. These are people who are still willing to learn and hear the opposing views. Or said- I don't necessarily believe in everything you believe in, but I'm proud of you for marching. They've wanted to understand why I'm so passionate the other way in our political conversations. At least those are people I can work with.  

Total loyalty to your party doesn't make you a patriot. Wanting the best for your country makes you a patriot. Best, by the way, means best for everyone. I'm not sure how any of these cabinet picks points to anything in the realm of "Making America Great Again". Unless you just mean that you want to substitute "great" for "white" and "Christian".

I spoke to the father of one of E's friends yesterday. He said to me that this is good- the uprising, the protesting, etc, even if it doesn't seem that way. It's what incites change. Without opposition, there is no growth. The pendulum swings back and forth and this election lit the fire under people that is needed for real change. We got complacent and that's on us. Now, we're ready to fight. As much as I'm upset at what we're up against, I agreed. That's what I teach my child- to fight for yourself and for those who can't fight for themselves. I really don't know how much I will personally be impacted by all the stupidity Trump and his cabinet want to put into law. I do know that it will affect others drastically. As a mother, I need to BE the change that makes the world better. I need to walk the walk. THAT is why I marched on Saturday. I want my son to know that we don't just look out for ourselves and what's best for our pocket. We look out for others and their needs because we're part of a working society.

So yes, I marched for you. And your daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughters. The same way someone marched for me to have choices in this life and the ability to protest and stand up for what I believe in. I also did it wearing a PUSSY hat (and slightly uncomfortable shoes). And I'm proud to be part of this revolution. I'm proud to have walked with and next to so many smart, accomplished, amazing women. I'm not forgetting the men, babies and children who also marched with us. I'm proud of us all. 

I got the link to the video of my friend Patricia Teffenhart, the Executive Director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, speaking at the Womens March in Asbury Park, NJ on Saturday. She's amazing. Lucky to know her! 

Look how many people! It was YUGE!

Fellow marchers we met in Duane Reade

Amy, Tricia & Me

Sylvia Rusin, who I might have a girl-crush on. She's like a tiny, beautiful, kick-ass warrior woman.

This is something someone re-posted today that I think is worth a read:

"To all my conservative "sisters" mocking and complaining about this historic protest yesterday, a gentle reminder:

Each time you go to the voting booth to choose your candidate--republican or democrat-- you are doing so because of women who marched. Each time you practice your right to have an opinion about politics and the workings of your democracy, you are doing so because of women who marched.

Each time you get up in the morning and go to a job outside the home to provide for you or your family, you are doing so because of women who marched.

Each time you get a refill on your birth control so that you can plan and decide the best time for your family to have children (or how many), you are doing so because of women who marched.

Each time you open a checking account or credit card, buy a property, or make an independent financial decision, you are doing so because of women who marched.

The things you have today are a product of protest, social unrest, activism, and resistance. Even the most anti-feminist 21st century woman still lives in the shadows of female activists who were willing to fight for generations they would never know. Of course, none of this means that you must subscribe to any particular political party, but I do wish it would cause you to look at protestors with whom you disagree with a degree of respect. The women who marched 100 years ago were also considered deceived and radical. While our struggles are thankfully not identical (and perhaps small in a global context), the spirit of the fight is similar.

I am proud when women march in the streets to reclaim their bodies and I am proud when my students stand on tables to call out racial injustice and I am proud when people "make a fuss" and disrupt the status-quo, and I am even proud when we can argue about it, because that's what it means to live out this messy democracy. Complicated and at moments imperfect protest by ordinary citizens has laid the very foundation of human rights, and yesterday was a reminder that it likely always will." 

- Katie Lynn Jahn

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

When Kayla Was Kyle

When Kayla Was Kyle is a book, by Amy Fabrikant. She came to Glen Rock to do a book reading last night, in our town's middle school media center. She's a professor at Columbia. She also has a transgender child. That's what her book is about- a transgender child and the journey of the child, family, and friends. That's what the seminar was about last night in the school. It was a reading and then a discussion.

It started at seven o'clock. I wanted to get there early because I thought there would be a lot of people. Who are we kidding- I would've been early regardless, because that's how I roll. I do like to get a good seat, whatever that was going to be, and I figured there would be a big turnout. I mean, how could there not be? We have at least four transgender kids in the public school system here, that I know about. It seems to be a progressive town, in that sense.

So where was everyone? 

There were about eighteen to twenty people there. What I found interesting, and hopeful, were the kids who were brought by their parents. Young kids were there. Besides for E, who turns eight in a week, there was a boy who looked to be his age. A girl a little older and a girl a little younger. I saw two teen girls sitting in the back. I was most happy to see the little kids. Because people don't realize that normalizing all people needs to start as young as possible. I always say, "it's not a thing, unless you make it a thing". E gets that. I have to assume the other kids present have parents that feel that way too.

Unfortunately, that's like preaching to the choir. I get the feeling that all the people there are already open-minded and champions of the underdog. It's those who aren't that NEED to be at seminars and readings, getting all the education they can get.

I can't lie and say I'm not disappointed that more of my peers and people I know in town weren't there. We all have kids. Just with the law of averages, we are going to encounter transgender kids. This town is like Children of the Corn. I think graduating classes here are over three hundred students. That's a lot of kids for what would be considered a "small suburban town".

Is it convenient to drag your two, three, four or five kids out in the rain to hear about a children's book about a transgender child? No. It's not convenient. That doesn't mean it's not important. I showed E the television reality show, "I am Jazz" when he was five. He's been to the PRIDE parade since in utero. He has a transgender "friend" around his age that he thinks is the bravest kid he knows. (I put friend in quotes because this person lives across the country and they've only met through sharing videos. But to E, everyone is his "best friend").

E doesn't really need a book reading and discussion like this because he is already educated and enlightened on what transgender is, discrimination, bathroom debacles, and such. I'm always looking for a good teaching or learning experience though, for all three of us, so I brought my little posse. You never know when you're going to hear something new or just get an opportunity to take someone's story in and learn from it.

I'm sure other parents and kids need these opportunities to learn though. When it's right there in our own backyard that's the time to make life a little inconvenient and take your kids. Yeah, it messes up dinner, bedtime, and last night, we got a little wet in the rain. It's worth it.

Maybe it wasn't publicized enough. I did get a reminder in an email blast from my son's elementary school. The email said the reading was appropriate for all ages. I don't know if parents of kids in elementary school think it's not a subject they need to think about, or talk to their kids about? If they don't know anyone transgender, it may not have seemed as important to come out in the rain?

I used to be a social worker of kids who were in the age group twelve to eighteen, who were abused, neglected and/or delinquent. Some had gender issues as well, but that wasn't the main focus of my work with them. What I can say is that waiting until kids are older, in middle school, it's too late. There are transgender kids who show strong signs of knowing that they are "in the wrong body" by the time they're toddlers. Kids are mean. They're mean about more benign things like glasses, clothing, hair styles. They're mean about things that are harder to "fix" like speech impediments, birth marks, and other physical differences.

They're definitely mean about not fitting into the gender box they're supposed to fit in. I can remember a kid I must have met by fifth grade, if not sooner, randomly. I think he went to the other elementary school in my town but we all funneled together into the middle school. I didn't know him well, he wasn't in my grade. It is a small town though, and you definitely knew of the kids who didn't seem to fit in.

He did not present as "typical boy". I don't want to speak for him, but in my memory, he was pretty tortured. I think he'd agree he was definitely "bullied". He was harassed by people I grew up with and considered more than acquaintances, but less than friends. People I thought were decent enough people, back then. I don't know what he thinks about his time in school. I think about him often. While even then, I was for the underdog, he was only in my periphery. I never did any bullying but I'll never feel like I did enough for those who were bullied.

It's ironic to me, that the vice principal of my high school when I was there turned out to be gay. He's married to a man, he's out and proud, and he sometimes puts photos on social media of himself in drag. Everyone I went to school with seems extremely supportive, on social media- to and of him. Yet, some of the same people, as I've also seen on social media, have issues with transgender kids using the bathrooms they identify with. The reasoning against that's been given is so flawed and uneducated. They are only supportive when it doesn't touch them or their kids. That's not how it works. That's why everyone needs to show up when there's a program on subjects they know little to nothing about.

My son was just diagnosed, finally, with Tourette's Syndrome. There were rumblings in the twenty-three doctors I'd seen prior to the one who finally gave me a diagnosis. Nothing ever concrete, and no doctor I trusted anyway. In the past, I'd looked up tic disorders and Tourette's. Guess what? Even at this point, after twenty-four doctors, now, now it's the final diagnosis, I found out that I could FILL A BOOK, with all I DON'T know about Tourette's. Why? I really didn't *need* to know anything. It hadn't really touched me- yet. Guess what I've been doing? Learning about Tourette's.

This is the SAME. Except you can't wait to educate yourself and your kids. The chances of Tourette's becoming something you need to know about? I don't know. I don't know anyone personally, with a kid in my son's elementary school, that has Tourette's. They may be there, but no one I'm acquainted with, has mentioned it and it hasn't come up. The chances of you or your kids coming into contact with someone from the LGBTQ community is pretty high.

Like I said, I've been told of at least four kids in our town. That doesn't seem like many, but it's enough that the bathroom and locker room issues have had to be addressed. If that has to be addressed, then it affects the general population. The general population needs education. Otherwise it's just logical that there will be discrimination issues. Bullying issues. Self-esteem issues.

When I brought E's tics to one particular teacher's attention, she said, "Maybe if the other kids start making fun of him about the tics, he'll stop". If we had a different kid, or were different parents, we could've freaked out about that. Our kid doesn't have a problem with confidence and his tics never bothered him. He also can grow out of his tics. He could get medicated if the tics were really bad. You don't grow out of transgender. You don't medicate it. So that kind of ignorant thinking (and talking) from a teacher, administration, or other kids, could lead to serious consequences for everyone. 

Back to the book reading, the reading was put on through GLSEN. GLSEN (pronounced "glisten") was founded in 1990 by a small, but dedicated group of teachers in Massachusetts who came together to improve an education system that too frequently allows its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) students to be bullied, discriminated against, or fall through the cracks. There are chapters all over the country, but I believe the one in North Jersey, who put on this program has only been around for a little over a year (Don't quote me). The North Jersey chapter is on Facebook here- This is the main page of the whole organization-

The principal from Hamilton School, one of the elementary schools in town, was there. I heard amazing things about her and how she handled having a transgender student go through her school before and after transitioning. I'm thankful we have a principal like that working in our district.

The reading specialist from Byrd school was there. There may have been other teachers from town there but I'm not sure because I didn't recognize anyone else. The Superintendent was not there. The principal from Hamilton said the Superintendent was instrumental in having this reading, and wanted to be there but couldn't. It's nice that she was instrumental. I'm happy she's supportive. However, I feel that culture and atmosphere comes from the top. In my opinion, the top down should lead by example and should've been there. All of "the top"- administrators and educators alike. Or, at least, have had someone representing them.

The Board of Education members weren't there. The principals from the other schools- Byrd, Coleman, and Central were not. The school nurses were not. The middle and high school principals were not. Do they get training on this topic specifically? I don't know. I feel like we as a community should know. We're told we have a strong anti-bullying stance in our schools. We're not told anything about this subject specifically. Anything I know about transgender kids in town, I know from the local news.

I'm not trying to be negative and only focus on who wasn't there. I'm happy there were any people there. I just wish there were more. I am very passionate about this. Why this topic? Partially, because I've seen the horror that comes from ignorance. Also because I can only imagine how difficult a road it is to feel like you're living in the wrong body. How difficult it is to be discriminated against for it, and to fear for your life if you live your truth publicly. Lastly, the fact is- transgender is. It exists. It's not going anywhere. We are going to have to make provisions for people who are different in society. We need to get used to it. That's why THIS.

I also feel like, within the school system(s), I'm seeing a lot of reactive, but not a lot of proactive. Waiting until you have to deal with "situation" is not the time to educate the staff, students, parents and kids. PRIOR, to a situation is the time to gain knowledge which also turns into compassion. I would like to see a much broader approach to inclusiveness. I would like to feel that at least in our little town, we're doing our part to be progressive in our approach to making sure there is a safe place for everyone. This is the time people's asses need to be on fire to be activists vs slacktivists. Let's harness that and work with it to do some good.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Say Your Goodbyes

"Sorry, if you did not receive your rose, take a moment and say your goodbyes..." -Chris Harrison

That's what Chris Harrison, host of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Bachelor Pad, Bachelor in Paradise and whatever else Bachelor Nation does on television. I haven't watched The Bachelor in years. I watched most of Sean Lowe's season. I think. That was Season 17. I'm sure I fast forwarded most of it. I don't need a whorey Bachelor like Ben Flajnik (I didn't watch his season at all but I did used to subscribe to US Weekly). The show is fluffed up enough with boring filler. I certainly don't want to watch these uber Christian Bachelors either- like Sean. I think he was a virgin? No, no. No one needs a virgin guy as the Bachelor. That's not fun, trashy, reality tv. Not to me. In real life, a virgin guy is fine. For reality TV, not so much.

B and I decided to watch this season of The Bachelor, with Nick Viall. Not because we like Nick or care if he finds love. We do watch Bachelor in Paradise, even not knowing the "characters" because it's extra trashy. It has an edge. Plus there are both guys and women which makes it more interesting to me, because it's not just a bunch of men or women vying for one man or woman. If you aren't feeling the Bachelor or Bachelorette, it's hard to get invested. It's boring to watch a bunch of people fighting over a person you're pretty meh about. With Nick though, he's half trash bag, you know he's going to kiss and tell, and you know some drama is going to go down. So we're in this time.

We were watching last night when we both said how ill-equipped I would be to be one of the competing women though. It's so crazy how they have to do challenges or whatever to get time with the guy. I die laughing thinking of me running a race against two other women to get in a hot tub. One, when Chris Harrison said the prize was the hot tub, the first thing I said, out loud, was, "Ew. I couldn't even do that. I'd be all, sorry, I get vertigo in a hot tub". B and I were cracking up, thinking about how we went away on business, pre-baby, and thought we'd be all romantic in the hot tub in our room. Sixty seconds in there, I was freaking out because it was too hot, I was dizzy, and felt like I was going to throw up. It didn't end up very romantic. 

Even the running- I wouldn't be running. I would've just been like- "Yeah, I'm out."

The one-on-one too, with Vanessa? That would be a no-go too. I don't want to go in a space thing where I'd be free floating. I swear, I'm not boring. I don't want adventure dates though. I don't want to puke on the guy I'm trying to date. I'm not even very vain. But puking in front of the guy I want to make out with hasn't happened since college, and not something I'd ever want to experience a second time. 

I've never wanted to jump out of a plane, bungee off a bridge, or pretend to be an astronaut. Even in my early twenties. It's bad enough to have to go on group dates, but worse yet, to have to do exercises and races? I wouldn't have even made it through Rock of Love. Those girls had to play and win football games for Bret Michaels affections. Sorry Bret. I don't want to watch it, play it, or even wear the outfit.

I was on a TV dating show once. Blind Date with Roger Lodge. It's like ten hours of filming edited down to eight minutes of reality television. They had us go on two dates in one day for filming. One was a dance lesson in a tiny, hot, walk-up studio. The other was doing trapeze in some goth chick's apartment. FYI, neither of these were fun. They were sweaty. Definitely not my thing. I've been on fun dates. One guy took me to see REM on a first date. One took me to see Maroon 5 with front row seats. Even the US Open was fun. I don't know much about tennis, but there's sitting. Celebrity spotting. But at all of those things, *I* didn't have to be part of the sporting.

Obviously not me, but props to you if you can find mine. I think it was 2003/2004

Last night, they had the girls dance with the Backstreet Boys. I would've been Corinne. Well, I wouldn't have a nanny and throw a temper tantrum. I can't dance though, so I would've been just as uncomfortable. I would've been standing in the back, dancing like Elaine Benes, trying to fly under the radar. I wouldn't have won the serenade or the date rose either. The group dates where you have to "win" time with the guy is so unfair. Nick doesn't pick who he actually wants to spend time with, he *has* to spend time with whoever wins. I guess that's nice that it forces him to get to know some of the women who might not have the moxie and/or personality to push themselves in front of him for attention. You gravitate toward who you gravitate toward though and the hot tub thing and the serenade thing wasn't really private, so it was just a little bit of extra time, in front of the other women.

The show is the show. I'm sure some of these girls must like these adventures. I'm watching. I'm equally fascinated, disgusted, and envious of a twenty-four year old who has a nanny. If anyone should have a nanny at their beck and call, it's a mom. I could totally use a nanny. Maybe it's all for television, but if it is, Corinne is a really good actress. She totally pulls off "millennial who has a nanny" like a boss. She has some good lines, that she delivers with the utmost seriousness, like, "He held my boobs. No one has ever held my boobs like that. No one ever will". I melted into my couch in mortification for her when she tried the Varsity Blues whipped cream bikini stunt. I like watching the Jersey Girl be Jersey. If I was a drinker, I could've gotten sloshed ten times over if the game was to do a shot every time Liz said "Jade & Tanner's wedding".

I already read Reality Steve so I know when everyone gets kicked off and who "wins" Nick. Knowing ahead of time doesn't diminish the fun of watching. Especially since most aren't memorable enough to remember their names. It's good to have a vague idea who they are, for when summer comes around and they show up on Bachelor in Paradise.

I just know that I'm glad I was never picked as a contestant for The Bachelor. It wouldn't have worked out well. Anyone that really knows me, knows I'm a girl's girl. I would've ended up not giving a crap about Nick and just counseling all the other girls. Treating it more like a sorority than a contest. I'm just not that competitive. I will admit, I did go to a mall try-out when I was twenty-six or twenty-seven. My downfall was most likely saying, "I won't act like a schmuck". Oh well. I'm satisfied watching these people through my fingers and listening to Stefanie Wilder-Taylor's "Rose Pricks" podcast all about the show.

Monday, January 9, 2017

What Meryl Did For Me

Everyone is talking about Meryl Streep. They were talking last night, and they're going to keep talking today. Her speech at the Golden Globes was everything- to me. It also gave me my angle. My words. I had been lost for words for the past few months. Really. I had words, but I couldn't seem to figure out how to put them together. I've been feeling all over the place and I haven't been able to write much about the election and politics, because I couldn't narrow down a focus. Meryl helped me narrow and focus.

As someone who used to watch the news at least three or four times a day, I've now become a head in the sand person. Sorry, but I have. I can't watch. I'm still in denial. I hear snippets of what's going on and that's enough for me. I just can't believe what's been going on. I went on Twitter for some reason last night. I've mostly stopped going on there too. I don't follow Donald Trump on Twitter, but I KNOW that the asinine things he's been tweeting will somehow be in retweets in my feed. I don't want to see it.

I know I said awhile back that I wasn't going to talk about Trump. He's left me no choice. People- ordinary citizens have left me no choice. The lunacy of defending his actions, all of his actions, has left me no choice. So if you didn't want to read my thoughts on him, well, you're in the wrong entry. Go to the search on my main page and look up potty training or birthday parties if you don't want to read. That's your right. I lied. I'm talking about him. Lying is going around like the flu, apparently. 

I went on Twitter last night and in seconds came across all the Meryl haters, that somehow there were people who put themselves in the position of defending Donald Trump for mocking a disabled person. There was a highly decorated military person who tweeted "I've lost all respect for Meryl Streep". When I pressed him on this opinion, he said his own daughter is disabled and there was "more to the story" in defense of the mocking done by Trump. I read this and realized, this is why this was a different election.

In prior elections, I had friends who are registered, voting Republicans who I could have healthy, open conversation and debate about politics. We didn't agree, but we could see some of each other's points, and have a mutual respect still. Because they didn't come off as batshit crazy defenders of crazy. Now, it's completely batshit thinking and there is nothing to combat that. This guy isn't my friend. I don't even know him. He's just indicative of the average Trump supporter.

How does someone with a special needs child defend this person? I've said I don't believe in God or religion. I don't really know what it means to be spiritual, so I'm not sure on that one. I will say that I often do believe that something in the universe gives certain people certain problems so they can learn empathy. Or use whatever platform they have to raise awareness. It's not karma- like, I don't believe a homophobic senator ends up with a gay kid as karma, but maybe to gain empathy?

I hate to have to believe that humankind needs adversity thrown at them to get them out of a selfish bubble but examples just seem to come up way too often. How do you prioritize the possibility of money in your pocket that may never come over programs and services for your special needs child? How do you prioritize defense of a man who mocks disabilities when you know all too well how someone you love lives daily with disabilities. How would you feel if just some random person made fun of your child with a disability. And then said it was okay to grab her by the pussy?

My kid was just diagnosed with something that *could* classify him as special needs. More on that another time. How stupid would I be to support a person that mocks special needs or disability? That tells me right there he definitely isn't an advocate of special needs. So is it just- too bad, so sad for me? I don't have funds for therapies or programs on my own. Do I champion and defend someone who clearly doesn't give a rip about making sure those who need extra help, get what they need? That instead, uses them as a target for laughter?

Yet, right now, it's like we're living in some alternate universe right now, where even people who have been thrown adversity are prioritizing their adversity without thinking. Coal miners heard Trump say he's bringing coal back and they believed that. Yet, he also said he'd repeal Obamacare and they didn't believe THAT. All of a sudden NOW they're worried about possibly losing their coverage. So they prioritized the very slim to none notion that coal jobs would become plentiful, over their HEALTH COVERAGE. Health coverage for "black lung syndrome" that only gets worse and before Obamacare, was often denied coverage because it had to be proved that their black lungs came from the job. So no coal jobs, and they get imminent death as a bonus. Awesome. 

I don't care if you don't or didn't like Hillary. We're not talking about Hillary. We've talked about Hills ad nauseum and now, she's really of no importance as far as the presidency. We're currently talking about our PRESIDENT ELECT, the leader of the free world, the most powerful position in the world, and he's TWEETING insane things. He's mocking people. He's sitting home, watching the Golden Globes, waiting to fight with celebrities. Just before that, a few days ago, he went after Arnold Schwarzenegger, unprovoked, just to mock, discredit, and I don't know what. This is the person that Republican die-hards are still willing to align themselves with and DEFEND. None of this is defensible. Yet- they're doing it.

I don't understand blind defense. That is a huge problem in this current political climate. I was very vocal about wanting Scott Garrett out of congress in my area. I was vocal about my support of Josh Gottheimer, the democrat, to take Garrett's place. I like Josh, and even hosted a meet & greet for him at my house before the election. I was thrilled when he unseated Garrett after Garrett's seven terms. Josh voted for something recently, his first major vote since taking office, that I disagree with vehemently. I don't give him a pass and defend him just because I consider myself a democrat and I voted for him.

Politicians aren't flawless and they don't deserve our blind support. They ALL need to be held accountable. They are our representatives. To other countries, they are our first impression as a people. We now have a president elect who makes the first impression as a tantrum throwing bully. Is it not embarrassing to have our leader in social media pissing contests with anyone, let alone actors and other celebrities? IS IT NOT EMBARRASSING??? IT. IS. It SO is! You just CAN'T argue this one!

I'm not going to lie. It would be really hard and only become more difficult, to have friends on the other side of the aisle, who still support him right now. I actually don't know if I do have *real* friends, (not just acquaintances- like people I grew up with or am just friended to on social media from different walks of my life), who do still support him. I haven't asked. I never asked anyone I consider a friend if they were voting for him. Friends who I know tend to vote Republican but who never said how they were voting this time. I really didn't want to know, and if I haven't found out by now, I still don't want to know for sure.

Luckily, there haven't been more than one or two friendship casualties for me out of this election. And those one or two weren't any great loss. We hadn't had anything in common in years. The only thing holding us together was shared history. Sometimes, that isn't enough.

I DO have friends, who are still registered Republicans, who went out of their way to tell me that while they still believe in old school Republican ideals, they could never vote for Trump. That, was comforting. It was comforting to know that the entire world wasn't just clinging to insanity.

I want to believe that anyone who DID see something to support in him, now sees just how unfit he is to be POTUS, but that's the batshit part of this whole scene. All I'm seeing is the bizarro-world ability to explain, defend, and deflect every egregious behavior he displays with great pride.

How do you defend Trump's bullying behavior, without resorting to bringing Hillary into it, without coming off as batshit crazy, ignorant, and just totally obstinate? How else do you describe it? Twitter ranting insults is certainly not what anyone should consider presidential behavior. He's proven he promised things and lied. He ran saying he was going to get rid of marriage equality. Then he won and said he's leaving it alone. He said we're building a wall and Mexico is paying for it. Now he's saying the American taxpayers are going to pay for it. He said he's repealing Obamacare. Then he said he's leaving "some of it". Lie. Lie. Lie.

I don't have the time or energy to look for more of the lies, but I know they're there. Yet, somehow, even mocking the disabled becomes somehow defensible and his immediate clap back at Meryl was just more blustery insults. Also defended.

So Meryl made her speech, asking for compassion. "This instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose." -Meryl Streep

What she said above, those are the kinds of things that are in that "Everything I Know I Learned in Kindergarten" book or poster or whatever that has been around forever. I appreciate that she said all this. Haters were saying that they don't want to hear politics on an award show. The definition of politics is: the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power. Meryl isn't running for office. So what she did, was simply use her allotted time to give her opinion.

Why not give her thoughts? It's her few minutes. She's no dummy. She's a well-respected, bright, articulate, worldly woman. She's won these awards before. She's thanked who she needed to thank. This was her Lifetime Achievement award. She's no spring chicken. She's seen a lot over her lifetime, and she's been entrusted to act out the stories inspired by events in her lifetime. I think her opinions on societal observations is warranted.

Right or wrong, celebrities are role models. Just like famous athletes. If you're a Trump supporter and you say that celebrities have no business talking about politics and should stick to acting, singing or being on reality tv, there's another batshit crazy response. You elected a celebrity to the highest office of the land. So whether or not it's a good idea to keep celebrities and politics separate, you said something different with your votes. That is if we're giving the Republican party credit over Putin for getting him elected. I'm not sure of which is actually worse.

You don't like Meryl's opinion, that's fine. She does still have a right to say it. For now. If you were really listening, she wasn't specifically and only talking about politics. She was talking about being kind. Holding the office of POTUS accountable. Protecting honesty and honest in journalism. Protecting and championing the arts.

Of course people, haters, focused on other things. That's what Trump has taught us. To take the focus off real issues, in a loud and insulting manner, to focus on minutiae. Get all offended that she mentioned football and professional wrestling aren't the arts. Well, they're not. She wasn't incorrect. She's in the arts. She got an award for all her time, energy, and schooling in the arts. Why wouldn't she champion them?

People said this wasn't the time or the place. When is the time or place? She has a platform. I, for one, would rather hear a positive message about not being complacent in this tyranny, than just listen to rich and famous people congratulate each other. But that's me. I like balance. With my fashion policing, I want to hear something that gives hope. The haters should be asking themselves how they got to a place of sticking their fingers in their ears to drown out someone talking about making the world a more compassionate place. It's like saying the sky is green just to disagree. But way worse. How do you explain to your children what you're against in that speech??

Son, we don't believe in a compassionate world. We don't think the POTUS should be held accountable. We don't believe we should support the arts. If a person who happens to be disabled disagrees with you, we have no mercy! Like Kreese from Karate Kid- NO MERCY! We go for the jugular and the laugh and we goof on them.

What. the. actual. fcuk?

I'm not going to have my head buried in the sand forever. I just still needed some more time to come to terms with this. Call me the P-word, if you want. I'm not going to just accept his "win" and "get over it". I think Trump lashing out at Meryl Streep, on social media, when he's supposed to be figuring out how to pull the nation together, has put me over the edge. Can you imagine any other president in the history of the country just publicly throwing out baseless insults every time someone said something against them? Then having people defend him? Of course not. IT SOUNDS INSANE. You wanted something different? Different, as a president, shouldn't have come in the package marked unpredictable, thin-skinned, childish, insulting and mocking. There is different and there is batshit.

I got my pussy hat, as part of the pussy project. It's like putting on armor. Like pink yarn mojo. I'm going to join the ranks of activists, not the social media slacktivists, and DO SOMETHING. It isn't sour grapes or being a sore loser to hold people accountable for actions you deem are wrong. Acceptance and complacency is what helped Hitler gain power in a very short amount of time. The alternate universe may not believe Trump = Hitler, but those of us who aren't willing to just get over it aren't taking that chance.

The speech that was everything:

Edit- January 18, 2017:

I just read something being passed around that was so dumb, I'm still not recovered. I know I can be verbose, but this was an avalanche of stupid that went on forever, saying nothing. Nothing of any substance. Meanwhile, people were congratulating like she wrote the Declaration of Independence. I'm offended as a writer.

If I was to write about every egregious thing Trump has done, said or is responsible for, I'd be writing every day. This isn't a specifically political blog so I'm not doing that. My head would explode anyway.

I'm just going to leave this here-

Stop, just STOP saying, "Give him a chance!". It isn't even Inauguration Day and he's already lost the chance. We've all GIVEN him a chance. He had the chance to say - To hell with party lines and old school politics. I'm going to make a dream team of the best of the best. I'm going to take all the best people from both sides of the aisle and unite the country, starting at the top. I'm *NOT* a politician. So I'm going to get the smartest, most capable people and make them my right hand. Together.

Instead, he's picked all the dregs of society. People no one else of whom would have even taken their calls. A head of education who doesn't believe in public school. Who will be detrimental to kids and families with disabilities in school. She's never been in a public school, her kids didn't go to public school, and has never taken out a loan. She knows nothing about the struggles of anything. Not poor people, not public schools, not anything. Her agenda is to create charter schools with a religious bend. Awesome pick. Add it to the line up of racists, WITH A RECORD OF RACISM, homophobes - THE VICE PRESIDENT, and more bottom of the barrel, unqualified lunatics.

So yeah, we gave him a chance. And he already failed us. I WANT THE COUNTRY TO SUCCEED. We'd all be fucking morons not to want the country to succeed. We're not going anywhere- we LIVE here. However- just stop with this give him a chance BS. Every day is a new day where he gets a chance. Every day he does or says something worse than the day before. Take your long winded nonsensical writings, shove them, and do something more productive with all of our time. Because I am now dumber for reading that drivel.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Time Travel Back to 1995

No rant today. I'm playing catch up now that I feel human. E and I were sick over the whole break. I feel like I was sicker than I'd been in a really long time. I had all these plans of things I was going to do while we were off, then I never got to anything, except my bed. Normally I could power through, especially to take care of E, but this time, it was like he was the kid from the Jungle Book. He just had to figure it out. Turned out that I had a sinus infection, of which I was unaware of the symptoms. Like your teeth feeling like they're too tight for your face. Got a Z-pack, finally finished, and good as new. E also got antibiotics, and aside from forgetting this morning's dose, he's doing better too.

While we were sick, we had tickets to see Bush at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair for Friday, December 29th. Thanks to my cousin Jana, we were made aware of that show in November, and we told Santa all about it. Santa brought E the tickets as his Christmas gift. WITH A NOTE! E was especially excited that he got a note from Santa, when he's never gotten one before.

Well, Santa had no idea how sick we'd be. We had to rally though. E has been playing Glycerine like it's Groundhog Day. Every single day with the Glycerine. I feel like I'm back in the 90's at Rider with as much as I'm hearing Bush. He's also going to sleep at night listening to B's old Bush CDs, which I hear through the monitor. Yes, we still have a monitor. He talks to us through it like a walkie talkie. We prefer that versus him coming out of his bed and downstairs. Once you're in your room, you stay there. After eight-thirty at night, it's drain the DVR time. That's *my* time.

December 29th was freezing. We drove to Montclair, found parking, and walked a few blocks to the Wellmont. It's a small venue with no bad seat in the house. We were in the balcony, but could still see just fine. B was happy because it was exactly as he'd want to see a concert- a crowd over forty, who is happy to be there, but too tired and achy to stand. A sitting concert. Fantastic. E was super excited when we first got in there, practically jumping out of his skin, but everyone else there were happy to sit nicely.

I'd filled my bag with tissues. While a completely bizarre, opening band from Chicago was playing, I realized it was loud enough in there that I could blow my nose as much as I want and no one would side-eye me. They wouldn't even know. I felt like death but I was going to power through. 

Meanwhile, I wasn't even paying attention to poor E, who was sitting in between us, with noise cancelling headphones in, struggling to stay awake. He'd close his eyes, then a song would end, and he'd wake up for the minute, do a vigorous clap, and then close his eyes again.

It was time for Bush. Gavin Rossdale came out, looking like he'd been vacationing in Miami (kickin' tan). One song, two songs, beginning of the third song and *poof*. Something happened. I had medicine head so I had no clue what was going on. I see Gavin Rossdale just standing there. Then I realized that the "Bush" sign was dark and it looked like the fire alarm was going off. No one made any announcement. Gavin just sat on the end of the stage. Some people were leaving but most of us in the balcony were just sitting there. We weren't sure what to do. Selfishly I was thinking, I don't feel like moving because if I do, my nose is going to run. Finally, someone came up and started yelling to us that we had to go.

They weren't telling us to stay, that it was just a fixable thing, we'd be let back inside, etc. I really believed that it would be way too hard to let people back in because how would they check tickets? I saw some ticket stubs in the trash and on the sink in the ladies room. It just seemed like complete chaos, with no one directing anyone. It was like thirty degrees out. I wasn't going to stand out there, sick as a dog, with a sick, tired kid, for who knows how long, only to be told we weren't going back in anyway.

We had to decide to adult in this situation. B was SO bummed. This was like, his night. He doesn't get much that he gets to look forward to, but apparently he's a bigger Bush fan than I knew. E was bummed but it was so late, I think he was more confused than anything else. He was trying to make B feel better. "At least we got to hear two songs....And I got to see Gavin play guitar...It's okay..."

All the kid wanted was to hear *his song*, Glycerine. 

The next day he decided he wanted to play Glycerine for Gavin Rossdale. Since we now have social media to connect us to our idols, like a rock idol, we thought we'd video him playing guitar and somehow pass it on. I tweeted and B put it out on Facebook. I don't know if Gavin Rossdale saw it or not but we did all we could to get it to him.

Now I'm dropping it here, because, well, you just never know. We probably are not going to get to see Bush again, because the stars just aligned this time- perfect venue, on a non-school night, and the price was right. I don't know what Gavin Rossdale could do to make up for our aborted concert, (not that it was his fault), but even just a tweet to E would be great.

So we sort of saw Bush, and we're health-wise, on the mend. I got nothing done and barely saw anyone over break, but at least E didn't have to miss school and I didn't technically miss work because I had to be home with E anyway.

B was keeping a watch on the Wellmont Theater news from that night. Turns out- they let people back in after about forty minutes or so. We still couldn't have waited outside that long and it would've been too late. B had commented, he should just drop us home and come back. He should have. I wish he could've gotten his Bush fix. Sorry B! Maybe Santa will bring *you* tickets next year.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Blame Alexa?

Happy New Year! I'm going to get to a "catch up" entry, but this came up first for me. I needed to get it out of my head before I explode. I'm going to say Happy New Year, then word vomit here a bit, then go back to what I did over break and such.

I don't know who to blame. I know it's not Alexa's fault, but her hands are totally clean either. Blame for what? For the dumbing down of society. It was happening way before Alexa, and I'm sure I've written about it, but technology is really doing a number on us as a general people. I'd blame the people as individuals, but it's just too many of us.

What am I talking about? I'm talking about people just refusing to take even a few minutes to do any research whatsoever. There is this new need to be spoon fed everything and it needs to happen immediately. Nevermind all this negative stuff going around about millenials, it's not them! It's my own peers. Those people who are forty and up, who couldn't seem to find their way out of a paper bag without asking an online community and who run to the internet to trash a business or organization, without taking any steps prior to that to try to rectify any kind of problem, issue or concern, privately. It's like my peers have totally lost the ability to think for themselves and find information that's theirs for the taking with just a hair of extra time and energy. Or they forgot how to problem solve without becoming just a virtual tattletale.

*FYI, I'm not talking about my store here. I'm speaking generally after reading posts in online groups, forums and message boards on various topics, businesses and organizations. One example that just came to mind, which wasn't even why I was writing this, was how somehow, people in my town were complaining online about our mayor being the one responsible for making a secular celebration out of what used to be a more Christmas themed celebration. He had nothing, at all, to do with making it secular, but by the complaining and erroneous, endless online commentary, you'd believe he was the one and only person responsible.

It's positively maddening. We were the generation on the phone for HOURS, watching tv shows on the phone with friends, falling asleep with the phone in hand with someone on the other end, also asleep! There used to be a popular show where the main characters all sat around for hours in a coffee shop talking face to face, exchanging information. If someone had a question, they had to do a little bit of their own investigation.

Now, we can't seem to have any face to face or mouth to phone interactions whatsoever. It's strictly running to groups on social media AND expecting everyone else to do the work. They're already ON the internet, but can't seem to take that extra step to google or read anything before posting questions for which they could've had the answers to five minutes prior. And then posting strong opinions about what they haven't even verified to be true! I know we see a late forties Mariah Carey being carried around, but that doesn't mean the rest of us are allowed to be that dependent on other people. Or technology.

I don't have Alexa by the way. For those not in the know, Alexa is that Amazon thing that I guess is like Siri, but better? You ask it anything and it answers for you. So if you're cooking and your hands are dirty, you don't have to look it up. You can get her to play music or tell you the square root of something. My friend Stephanie Klein just wrote a love note about Alexa yesterday or the day before on her own blog.

I happened to see Stephanie's entry, so that's why I referenced Alexa. I was always swayed to get an Alexa from Stephanie's blog entry. Then, I had an unpleasant interaction with a woman this morning who, while seemingly unstable in general, I have a feeling that technology has had a hand in her inability to search for her own information. Or at least that's the benefit of the doubt I'm giving her. This woman and I are both in a certain Facebook group where dumb questions run rampant. However, not only was this a dumb question because it could've been figured out with a little common sense, but it was put out in such a way, that it came off as a complaint. Instead of prefacing the question with a "Hey, just curious- I don't live here anymore, but I remember it used to be this way when I did live here....How does it work now?", it came off as an accusation.

I've seen so much complaining and lack of common sense by my peers in these groups, the question/accusation/complaint immediately gave me douche chills. 

This particular group isn't THAT busy. If she'd scrolled back just a little, she could've read not only the actual answer to her question (it's there!), she could've seen the climate of the whole broader subject. She would see why people, including me, answered as tersely as we did. If this was brought to her attention, her answer would probably be that she "didn't have time" to read back. She had time to think about her question, type it out, then come back and argue about why she asked it, then throw in some insults. In my estimation, she had plenty of time to put common sense to use AND read old posts. Instead she got completely unhinged and went on the attack. Or what she thinks was a counter-attack.

I think people underestimate how much time they actually DO have for frivolous endeavors such as needing to know random facts and information about a place they no longer live. But needing to know the daily happenings in a hometown they haven't lived in for years is another topic altogether that is so bizarre and rampant here that I could write all day about it. I have family and friends who still live in my hometown. I had a fine experience growing up there. Yet, I still can't even fathom being a vocal and active member of my hometown's Facebook pages, deeply caring and opining about what goes on in the day to day existence there.

Back to technology... I always loved looking things up. When I was a kid, it was looking up words in dictionaries and thesauruses. I don't know when I was taught this, but I'm thinking middle school or high school, but you never want to use the same adjectives or nouns twice in a paragraph if you can help it. So, I've always tried to look up similar words so I could diversify my written vocabulary. When I got on the internet, I immediately made Wikipedia and IMDB my best friends. I like to know background and I like to know where on tv or movies I've seen someone before.

If I want to know what time the pool opens in town, I don't go into the town Facebook groups, ask and wait for a response- I look up the town website, click on the pool info and LOOK IT UP. Myself. It's not that hard and it's quicker than waiting for someone to answer me. If I wanted to know when Santa rides on a fire truck around town at night during the holiday season, I'd go to the town Fire Department page and see if there is information there (there is!).

There is a man, probably in his fifties, who plans on running for congress in my county who tried to friend me on social media yesterday. He just decided not to do any research and just blindly friend people. Well, from my own research, I've learned it isn't people, but women, specifically. He didn't even bother to read the public information on any of our pages, he just hit the "friend" button liberally. It would've taken him seconds to read on my page that we have absolutely nothing in common politically. That I wouldn't pee on him if he was on fire, let alone vote for him.

All he did successfully was annoy me with private messages, arguing his political points, and get me to publicly out him as a creep on my own social media. I didn't know who he was before yesterday. Now everyone I know is aware of who he is, and that he's a creeper who doesn't pay attention to glaring details. Glaring details like, with a quick Google search, it's easy to determine that I'm not looking to help him turn Bergen County, NJ into "Trump country". 

My concern is also trust. I've seen people ask questions of peer strangers in Facebook groups they should be asking their DOCTORS. What would make someone trust random strangers for medical information over their own doctors??

Technology is here to help us. Assist. That's great. Helpful. We can get the answers to almost anything we want to know in seconds, WITHOUT asking someone else to basically Google for us. I can't even count how many times someone asked a question in a Facebook group that I Googled the answer and then just posted the link to the answer I found. Why couldn't they do that part on their own. THEN, if there's a question, after reading what they found, that's another story. For instance- instead of asking, "Where can I have my kid's seventh birthday party?", Google places to have kids birthday parties, pick one or a few that sound interesting, and then ask for personal reviews? Before these "groups", you had to do at least a little of the work yourself!

Apparently, technology like Alexa can get Billy Joel playing through the whole house by just a verbal request. If Alexa knows how to filter out fake news from real news, maybe she is the best thing to happen to society instead of being a part of the worst. Whatever Alexa does or doesn't do, be in control of your own knowledge. Don't let it take place of your common sense, and keep you from exercising your brain functions. Don't let it make you inept and lazy. If you can look it up yourself, please, do it! If you can spend a few minutes doing some due diligence, please do that! We have no right to hate on millenials when we're not acting any smarter, more capable, diligent, hard-working, or more mature.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Another Person's Treasure

Help Bag

I don't know why, but I have this thing about trial-sized stuff. I don't go anywhere I'd need it, like vacation. I just like it. I always buy it. Or I used to take it, from hotels. The shampoo, soap, mini sewing kit. I think everyone takes that stuff, or I assume people do. The weird thing is that I'm very brand loyal. So would I even use a different toothpaste or soap? As evidenced by the cabinet full of this type of thing, I'm going to say I haven't used them. I kept them though, thinking one day I might have a use for them.

In March 2011, I watched the reality show Secret Millionaire on ABC. A millionaire would go into some depressed area, meet people there, then decide how they wanted to disperse around $100,000. Every episode was a tear jerker, as it was meant to be, so I'd get hooked when I saw it on. Only one really stuck with me though. It was this guy, John Ferber (the millionaire). There wasn't anything especially memorable about him. It was who he helped. There was this hat designer guy, Amin Moinzadeh, who sells hats to famous people on Melrose Avenue (not "Place") in LA in the front of his store, but then had a back area where he assembled bags of necessities for homeless people. He'd assemble these toiletry bags (toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo), and extra clothing, then bring them to Skid Row and hand them out. The millionaire guy gave Amin money for more supplies.

Of course I was crying at the end. And in theory, I thought- what a great idea. But I still didn't get around to it. My mom had died, my kid was just two, I was going back to work. There's a lot of stuff I mean to get to and don't. B literally just walked up to my desk and asked me why we have a step-stool in the kitchen now. "Just to get to the pots and pans?", he asked. Yeah. So the wood floors don't get scraped moving the chairs over there. I've always meant to get one, but never have. "You've always wanted one, but it took ten years...". Yes. Did you just meet me?

Last school year, E swam in Lodi twice a week. Just about every single ride there, we'd see the same homeless people along our ride, in the same spots. One guy, E and I nicknamed Thor because he reminded me of the mechanic guy in the original Adventures in Babysitting. He also has long flowing blond hair. He would be waiting at the light on this one stretch of road that was the exit between two highways. He walks around with a sign asking for food or money. It felt weird to just drive by and not give anything. I started bringing granola bars for him in case I was stopped where he was walking. It was always a crapshoot whether I'd be stopped close enough to the light. This was a quick exchange kind of thing. There wasn't even anywhere to stop or pull over.

Once, I filled a duffel bag I got on our honeymoon with a bunch of B's clothes, toilet paper, paper towels, plastic utensils, an umbrella, toiletries, and more, and handed that to Thor out the window. I practically had to throw it before the light turned green. I told B and he was like- "How was he supposed to carry that around??" I did not think of that. Thor still seemed appreciative. I asked what else he needed and he asked if I could get some pants or leggings for his wife. So I did.

After that, I thought- I really should just clean out that cabinet of toiletries and make those smaller toiletry bags. I googled "bags for homeless" or something like that. Of course, I was taken to Pinterest and saw "Blessing Bags". I guess someone or more than one person call them this and put a blessing in the bag with the toiletries. However, to me, that's proselytizing, and definitely not my thing, so I'm just calling them "help bags".

I had shampoo & conditioner, travel toothbrushes, toothpaste, hand lotion, body lotion, soaps, sewing kits, wet naps (like individual ones from bbq, seafood, or hibachi), Q-tips, pens, lip balm, body wash, tissue packs, face wash, you name it. Make-up- I had tons of brand new make-up I'd never use from gifts, gifts with purchase, etc. I had remembered also reading somewhere that one of the best things to give is a handbag filled with feminine needs. Because those items aren't donated as much.

I took everything out of the cabinet and put it on my bedroom floor. I made an assembly line of sorts, making sure I had one of everything for as many bags as I could. I also had all these random plastic carrying cases from when I worked at John Abate International. They held tanning products to give to tanning salons. I also had them from gift sets - like the cosmetic bags they give you as a free gift with purchase. Some were big, like handbag size too. I think I filled about twenty bags. Then of course, in my OCD way, I started scavenging around my house for more things. I have this giant box of scarves I never wear. In my head, I picture myself wearing a trendy scarf, in a trendy way, until I realize I hate scarves and they itch me. Or they just don't look right on me. Bye-bye scarves. I also had knit hats and baseball type caps I'd gotten in swag bags or I don't know where. Bye hats. I went to the dollar store and ended up buying socks and gloves.

I buy all kinds of granola and breakfast bars for E that he then tells me he doesn't like. Healthy stuff that sounds good, but he just decides aren't going to work for him. I HATE to throw it away because it's a waste so then I had somewhere for those to go too. I put two or three in every bag. No, this is not like giving muffin stumps. I could've given the bars unwanted by my child to my husband, but he didn't NEED them. He'd just eat them out of boredom. Some other adult, who did need them, would be perfectly happy with healthy bars.

In someone's blog about the blessing bags, she wrote about giving five dollars, but in change, in the bags. In change, they could use it at a laundromat or somewhere change is necessary. Now, of course a lot of these machines take dollar bills and there are no phone booths left, but you never know when someone might need change. It just gives more options.

I'm not writing about this to pat myself on the back or anything. I'm not doing anything special. It wasn't some original idea. I'm certainly not giving away $100,000. I'm writing this because I don't know when it became December 21st already. Time just seems to FLY. I feel like "the giving season" is almost over. Around Thanksgiving, people are all about replenishing food banks, and doing acts of kindness. It extends to Christmas, but I don't know how long after people are thinking about those who don't have much. Most people are going to get gifts they can't return and that they aren't going to use. Secret Santa hats, scarves, socks, and gloves. Instead of just throwing them in a closet, put them to better use.

Last Sunday, I tried to go to Radio Shack (don't ask, but they *are* still in business), but it was closed. It looked like lights were on there so I took a chance and stopped. They weren't open but there was a dollar store next door. It was raining, I stepped in a puddle and was so annoyed. Both bottoms of my pants were soaked and it was freezing. Then I saw this guy sitting on the wet ground outside the dollar store holding Rosary beads. He just looked sad and tired. I keep these help bags in my car all the time, all year round. I went back to my car, got him a bag, and just handed it to him. I didn't say anything because what is there to say? I didn't want to embarrass him or anything. I just wanted him to have it. I made a mental note that maybe I can get cheap umbrellas to add to the bags. I saw him eating one of the granola bars right away so I was happy it didn't go in the garbage.

So, if this entry gives you that kick in the pants over school break to clean out the toiletries you're never going to use and other useful items for someone on the street, then that's what I'm here for. Remember, it's cold here, in NJ, until around the end of March, sometimes longer. That's a long time past "holiday season". There is plenty of time and plenty of need to give. We don't live in a special bubble. There are homeless people like a mile away. For me, it's just a personal preference, I like to give where I can actually see it go to where it's supposed to go, so this works for me.

Happy holidays and Happy New Year. I'm saying it early because I don't know how much time I'll have to write once E gets out of school Friday for the break!

Episode of Secret Millionaire:

H.A.T. charity:

If you live in Bergen County and want to do *something* but aren't sure what, here's a good starting point for information: 

Bergen County Volunteers-

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Chanukah Fun 2016

Hanukkah/Chanukah Fun this season! 

Menorah Lighting
Mon, December 26, 2016
Time: 5:30 PM
Location: Memorial Park at Van Neste Square, E. Ridgewood Ave., Ridgewood, NJ
Event Description

Lighting of the Menorah at 5:30pm
for families and friends.

Monday, December 19, 2016

ATNY Summer Cruise

Plan Now.  End of Summer Memories.

Young Actor's Cruise to New England & Canada!
Out of NYC.  6-Days.
Combine the Amazing Activities of Cruising' with the High Seas Education
of Great Acting Workshops with Final Presentations to the Cruise!

Cruise Open to Kids, Teens, Families, Friends
Inner Cabins or Request Upgraded Cabin.
Questions?  917.763.1777