Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Rollercoaster Life

E on the dragon rollercoaster
Last week was a weird week for me. It was like a giant rollercoaster of emotions. First, it was my favorite week of the year- Glen Rock's Fun Fair. Last week of school and the carnival. For the first time I can remember, it started on a Wednesday instead of Thursday. It was going Wednesday evening through Saturday evening. My plan was to go Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. We love carnivals, this one is in our town, it's easy, and I can eat meat on a stick to my heart's content.

On Saturday before the week of the fair, I'd seen my friend's husband at the pool. My friend had died about a year ago from cancer. He mentioned that her Unveiling* was going to be the coming weekend. It was going to be a private family thing, but of course, I just started thinking about her, how it had been a year already, and how so much had happened in that year. I just was running through old times in my head.

Unfortunately, then, in the early part of that week, an old friend of mine passed away. I wrote about her in this blog entry- Vange: This Is My Super Bowl - She had been sick but she passed away totally unexpectedly. No one thought she'd pass away. I know I didn't. It was one of those crazy things that happened as a result of a complication, not the actual illness. Like, years ago, when a friend's mom had beat cancer, only to go for a check up where she died from a complication from the testing to make sure she was cancer-free.

I was in shock from when I heard the news...through now. I am seeing her tagged on Facebook and it's jarring because I still can't believe it. I guess because she was more my FB friend than anything else. We didn't hang out but we talked online.

We went to the fair on Wednesday and Thursday. I can compartmentalize like that. I have to be able to do that. I had to do that when my mom died. We had a new baby and a new store. I had to hop to it and just keep moving. Since then, I've learned to just basically keep moving. I went to the wake on Friday in the late afternoon. I saw people I haven't seen since before I graduated high school. I thought I was fine until I saw the body and her mother. You're never prepared to see a body, but you're extra unprepared to see one that's your friend, your contemporary. I caught up with some old friends and then I kept moving. I went from tears to sadness to meeting my childhood friend and her family at the fair again.

For Saturday, I'd RSVP'd yes to a celebration of life. It was a party for a friend who just actually BEAT cancer. She got diagnosed in October with breast cancer, and without going into details, she kicked it's ass. She's ok. So one two friends lost their fight, and one is getting to celebrate life. It's just so crazy how each person fights a totally different battle.

My friend's party was at California Wine Works in Ramsey, NJ. It's a really cool place. From what I understand, my friend and her husband made wine there last fall and their wine was some of what was served the night of the party. It was a warehouse kind of space, but it also made for a great party space. The garage doors were open, it was a beautiful night, and there was room for a DJ.

It was a really inspirational evening. So many people- like eighty-something were there to celebrate. Many of the women were involved in making a video of them lip-syncing to "My Fight Song". I got the emails too late- they were in my spam folder. I didn't know the person's name who sent them and I've been hacked way too many times to open mail I don't know. I would've done a terrible job anyway. I'm not a performer. Leave that to E. It was an amazing video though and it gave me goosies. A mutual friend's husband works with Andy Cohen and he got Andy to even add a little message to her. THAT, was REALLY amazing and wonderful. I was thrilled to catch up with some friends I hadn't seen in a long time. Margaret & Ted, Salina & Bill, Sharon & Franco, Adina, Pam, Christine- loved getting to chat! I'm so happy that all is well with Jen and that she is a success story. She's thirty-six and has a lot more life left to live. I knew she'd beat it though. She's one fierce biotch who I've always known to get what she wants.

I also have to add in, just as an aside, my friend who had the party- she ditched the wig. She went with her natural, now very short hair. It looks amazing and I almost cried when I saw it. One, it reminded me of Samantha on Sex And The City, when Samantha was giving her speech and ripped the wig right off her head. Two, just that it was brave. She, as most people, has always cared what people think. She took off the wig, let go of her inhibitions in that way, and just gave a big F-U to cancer and to feeling like she needed to cover it up. Personally, she reminded me of Billie Jean Davy (The Legend of Billie Jean) as Joan of Arc - "Fair is Fair". It was hot. 

It just sucks that I'm at an age where friends are dying and having to beat cancers at all. We joke all the time in my store that our busiest days are when our ad is next to the obituaries. Because people not that much older than I am read the obits. I always thought that was humorous, but that's because I never really thought about the possibility of friends dying so young. Now I've seen two friends pass away within a year's time. Another friend of mine just posted on FB about her friend out in LA that also passed away this week. We're all in the 30-50-something age bracket. It's just not fair.

Like I said- it was just a weird, emotional week. I thought about & missed Jocelyn, said good-by to Vange, and celebrated Jen. E finished school for the year with an AMAZING teacher- Mrs H. I was so sorry to have him finish having her as a teacher, but so ready for school and (almost) all of E's extracurricular activities to end. Camp was starting this Monday, so in between all this other stuff, I was running around making sure I was prepared for that. Being so busy, I barely had time to think or feel, so that was probably a good thing.

Now the summer is kicked off and I'm in another whirlwind trying to figure out July 4th weekend. I plan on just soaking up every minute of sun and life for the next two months.

Margaret, Jen and I
Joce, Me, & Cohen in cut-outs I stuck together. Damn I was tan.

Shirley, Vange & I at an Autism Speaks benefit

*Unveiling (Jewish ceremony)- Within the first year after the passing of a loved one, mourners and their family gather at the gravesite for a ceremony called the unveiling, the placing of the tombstone. At this event, a grave marker is put into place and the monument is formally dedicated. There are a variety of specific customs that revolve around the gravesite to honor the person who is now deceased. During this ceremony, it is not necessary for rabbis or cantors to be involved. It is a spiritual time for the family to comfort each other and remember their loved one.

California Wine Works:

Monday, June 27, 2016

Love Trumps Hate

Yesterday, Sunday June 27th, was the NYC Pride parade. I had one hour of sleep but we were there. B, E, and me. It was fabulous. Beautiful weather, a good spot that had shade for a little while, and a really nice lesbian couple to our left, and a perfectly coiffed gay guy to our right who had an sunbrella to share. Not that I wanted to be shielded from the sun, but it was a lovely gesture.

Yes, it was an even more meaningful day because of the tragedy that happened recently in Orlando. But it was something else, for me. It was a time, to look at my son, who was decked out in rainbow, flags, stickers, and pins, really look at him, and let it soak in that hate is learned. It is. Hate is not born. It's taught, and it's learned. I guess there are just people who are born sullen so maybe they just don't like anything. They don't hate. They dislike. Maybe they don't like anyone in general. They don't know how to hate people based on religion, race, ethnicity, color, ability/disability, etc. THAT is all you. As the parents, of course.

I know I've been writing a lot about this stuff lately, but this is the climate we're in. It's a very tense time, and it's basically all based on who hates whom. It's people acting like politics is a team and you're either on one or the other. You "root" for your team, no matter what, even if you don't agree with it, and you bash and heckle the other team. And just like with professional sports, I'll say the same thing I always say. You're not playing. You're sitting on the couch. So instead of reposting garbage and perpetuating lies on social media, how about practicing some love?  Stand up for people who are being discriminated against instead of joining the hate train.

We've been taking E to the Pride parade in NYC since he was in utero. This year we went to two- Asbury Park AND NYC, to make up for missing NYC last year. My mantra, as I've said, is "If you don't make something a thing, it's not a thing". Let me tell you- LGBTQ is not any kind of thing to my (straight) kid. I mention that he's straight (that we know of) because I think it's important to point out that you don't have to be a minority to care about a minority. He's a minority anyway- he's Jewish, and he's a seven year old boy with both ears pierced. Those two things qualify him to be a minority. Believe me, I would've been the best parent for a gay kid, but he's still planning on marrying his (girl) crush from nursery school or his crush from kindergarten.

The night before the parade, he said- "Leave out my rainbow clothes to wear to the parade". He was decked out head to toe in rainbow tie-dye, covered in stickers, pins, a rainbow sequin fedora, holding a rainbow flag. He was cheering, dancing, waving, and smiling. All while standing next to kissing lesbians, half naked men, and drag queens. Jazz Jennings, of the "I am Jazz" show on TLC (transgender boy to girl teenager) rode by in the parade and E excitedly said, "Is that really Jazz? Is it really her?!"

There wasn't an "ew", a grimace, or even an odd stare on his part. For E, none of it has ever been a thing. He knows, per us (B & I), that there are people that don't agree, are not nice to, and hurt people who are different- especially of this type of difference. His response to that is anger and sadness- at those who mistreat those who are different. Also, make no mistake- this "differences not being a thing", translates into feeling that way about other differences- born or otherwise. It could be anything- gay, lesbian, scarred, trans, downs syndrome, obese, anorexic, cancer, amputee, blind, dwarfism, bald from genetics or chemo, cerebral palsy, wheelchair bound, autism, divorced, death of a parent, homeless. You name it- as a parent, you know differences are going to come up and you need to be proactive about making sure your kids are sensitive and welcoming to all people. If you're not making this a huge part of your teaching, then you're just not doing your job.

As a parent, you always have that moment where you see someone with a difference coming toward you and your kid. You get that anxiety of- "please, PLEASE, don't say anything rude". Even though I know my kid, I still get that momentary anxiety. But he's never said something derogatory about a person yet. I really can't imagine he would. I'm hoping that by being proactive, that will just never happen.

Some people might think it's weird that I had my then six year old watching "I am Jazz", but then when he heard about a friend of mine who has a  transgender child his age, it wasn't A THING. He couldn't wait to make the child a drawing in support of the child's journey. I've never been prouder as a parent. When he doesn't grimace or think it's weird when he saw the two women next to us at the parade being affectionate- I'm a proud mama. When he says the drag queen next to his is pretty, when he full well knows it's a guy- proud. Same feeling I had when at camp last year, he told me that there's a kid in his group that doesn't talk much and cries a lot so he decided he's be his friend because he looks like he could use one. That's the person I want to raise. The one who is always looking out for the underdog.

Watching my kid yesterday, admiring his love of life, passion for being part of a cause close to my heart, hearing him say that everyone should be equal, just fuels me to keep on the path of teaching him to love. To love everyone. This is also why I don't want to be associated with people who hate. Who perpetuate racism, homophobia, xenophobia. People who openly preach hate. People who don't even work themselves (because they don't "have" to), railing on that imaginary giant group who they *think* are gaming the system. Yes, there are people who are, but some of the people bitching about this have no idea what they're talking about. And there is much to be schooled on in the cycle of poverty. Anyway...and those who use religion as a shield for their hate. I look at my kid, and how he is pure love, and I think about how there are counterparts of his, the same age, who are being taught the exact opposite. For as long as I can orchestrate it, I want to be the one to surround him with people who just want love to win.

That way when later on, he's surrounded by those who openly hate, he is the one to stand up and do something about it. 

We say goodbye to the PRIDE NYC parade for another year. We will continue to mourn the lives of those lost in Orlando. We will keep on instilling the values that are so important to us like compassion, love, kindness, tolerance, equality, and justice for all.

If you've never taken your kids to the parade, I highly recommend it. E saw a few sets of pasties, a naked behind or two, some sick abs, and some same sex kissing. That's about it. It's not as X-rated as one might think. Remember though- if you don't make it a thing- any of it, it's not a thing. You're more fazed than they are. Trust me. In all E's recounting of the day, neither the pasties, nor the butts even came up.We parked in Chelsea, on the street, didn't even have to pay. So it basically cost us the the amount of tolls and gas to show our support.

#LoveWins #DragIsTheBestKindOfQueen #PrideNYC #Pride2016 #WeAreOrlando

Our parade neighbors in from LA

E handing out Shades of Soho flyers for our PRIDE chandeliers

PRIDE 2011
PRIDE 2010

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Summer Reality TV Stuff

Famously Single
 Let's really bring it down a notch and just talk trash tv or reality tv. I'm so enjoying most of what I'm watching right now so I wanted to discuss.

I started watching Famously Single this morning. I had missed the first episode last week but since it's E!, they replayed it a little later than this week's new episode. I didn't know who these supposedly famous people were except for Pauly D, who I quote a lot, and Brandi Glanville. I'm not a big fan of either one, although, Pauly has given me a lot of great quotes to steal over the years. Brandi got a little out of hand on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. At first she was fun and funny, but then it just got too much. She was always making up drama to start. I admit though, I was curious about this show. I actually only knew that Brandi was going to be in the cast- I didn't even know about Pauly.

I forgot about the show but Wendy Williams mentioned that it was her new guilty pleasure. I went immediately to my Optimum app and hit record. I watched this morning. I'm not super interested in any of the famous people, all living together in a sweet loft, being worked over by a therapist and two date coaches. They are not really famous, most of them, in my opinion. Maybe because I just don't know the stuff they were on or did to get famous. But whatever- their interactions with each other are interesting.

When Brandi looks like the nice, compassionate one, you sort of feel like you've entered a Freaky Friday kind of thing. Pauly is still Pauly D from Jersey Shore. He still is pretty much a shell of a real person. In the first episode, he's acting like he's in Tempts in Seaside Heights with Ronnie, The Sitch, and Vinny. He immediately was making fun of some guy's shoes in the club, by repeatedly yelling, "WHAT ARE THOSE?!" like a broken record of annoying. Brandi tried to stick up for the guy when Pauly and a woman from Love & Hip Hop (I think) were railing on him. Fighting between the women ensued, as usual. Everyone loves a good reality show girl fight.

Pauly claimed later that he was joking, that it was funny. I believe he really thinks that. Meanwhile, the therapist pointed out that because he's a "celeb", maybe there was an imbalance of power thing going on. The light bulb in his head visually went off and he saw her point. However, this is clearly why he's never been in love (by his own admission) and thinks stupidity like that is funny. He's the poster boy for arrested development. He's matured zero. Hopefully this therapy will at least advance him from a mental age of around seventeen, to about twenty-three? I don't know, but it's entertaining.

I'm watching Famously Single on my own, but B and I are watching Coupled. It's a reality show where there are twelve girls living in villas in Anguilla. They bring in guys one by one. The girls all meet the guy one on one for a few minutes. The girl, without the guy's knowledge, chooses yes or no to getting to know him better. He meets up with the yeses, if there are any (one guy got none), and then he picks two to take to some nice villas somewhere else on the island. From there, he picks which one he connected with more, and they go somewhere even nicer to meet up with other coupled off couples who met the same way. E! Tuesdays, 10p

Again, as usual, hi-jinks ensue with girl fighting, couple fighting, and man-swapping. One girl in particular is so annoying that you want to stop watching just because of her, but you don't just can't. You're sucked in. You need to know if this love junkie, caffeinated wind-up doll of a conservative radio host ever finds someone who doesn't want to buy stock in ear plugs after talking to her for five seconds. FOX, Tuesdays, 9p.

I get an awesome birthday present- Bachelor in Paradise is back on my birthday- August 2nd. I see Chad from Jojo's current Bachelorette season is all signed up. Couldn't have seen that coming. Nick Viall from some other season is in too. The perpetual crying virgin- Ashley I. will be back as will the guy she stalked last time- Jared H., the guy devoid of all personality. Beyond that, I don't know who any of them are, except James Taylor from Jojo's season. Because...well, his name is James Taylor. And he's a musician. You don't forget that.

Annoying Ashley I. & her annoying sister
B and I don't really watch The Bachelor/ette - he gave up on it before Sean's season. I watched here and there. It's just way too long of a show. Two hours of fluff. Cut it down to an hour and I'd be back. Maybe. The producers have totally missed the whole idea of getting the viewer to want more. It's like they recap every scene after a commercial break. We picked up The Bachelorette this season only for the "Two Night Event" preceding the NBA finals because of the whole Chad debacle but anything but the Chad thing was boring. I still have the one episode after that, where he comes back to the house after being let go. We're watching Orange Is The New Black though, and that is way more important.

Toni's Crazy-Eyes
Bachelor Pad was amazing though- it was almost like having Paradise Hotel back. Nothing will ever compare to the first season of Paradise Hotel, or just the era that brought us both PH and Love Cruise with Toni Ferrari. She was the original Crazy Eyes. But Bachelor Pad was close to those in quality and drama levels. Now we have Bachelor in Paradise, where there are not challenges to win stuff, but they do still have challenges. Bring on the ridiculous drama and cue up the crying.

As far as Bravo goes, I'm in for Real Housewives of Orange County, which started this week, and Real Housewives of NJ, which comes back July 20. Of course I'm continuing with Real Housewives of NY. Those ladies have been BRINGING IT this time. It's Threat Level: Scary Island over there. I think there has only been one episode where not much happened. Otherwise, it's terror in the Berkshires and terror all over Manhattan. Bethenny has been baring her teeth something fierce.

I was going to try EJ NYC - EJ Johnson's fabulous life in NYC, but I haven't gotten to it. I think I have it on the DVR. I deleted all of Below Deck because I watched a few episodes last season and I just never got hooked. It's all new people, except for one, this season, so I didn't feel invested. I'm ridiculously giddy for the Southern Charm reunion, which airs this Monday.

I'm definitely trying Greatest Hits hosted by Arsenio Hall. It's a show with music from the 80's and 90's sung by famous artists. Not sure what the hook is or what exactly it's about but I'm going to try it. I have a friend I know would be watching if she could, so I feel like I need to watch it in her honor. 

Anything else? What are you watching? I never watched Big Brother, so if that's around this summer, I'm not getting into that. Same with Amazing Race and Survivor. Not for me. I don't know why, but not my thing.

I'm going to do a separate post for scripted shows. Otherwise, with all the tv I watch, this could go on all day.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

"This Is my Super Bowl"

 "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today, to get through this thing called life....
Electric word life. It means forever and that's a mighty long time. But I'm here to tell you...There's something else. The after world. A world of never ending happiness. You can always see the sun, day or night" -Prince

"This is my Super Bowl". That was her line. The Emmy Awards, The Oscars, The Tony Awards, The Grammy Awards. Any awards involving celebrities. Or celebs with music. All of the above.

I really can't believe I have to write this. Not because I wouldn't want to write a tribute to a beautiful person, but because I am still in shock that she's gone.

I'm not writing this for sympathy for me. So please, I don't even need or deserve any condolences. Yes, I'm sad. A lot of people are sad though. It's an absolute tragedy that someone so young, beautiful, and sweet is gone. I'm writing this to celebrate someone who deserves to be celebrated. Someone I'm really going to miss- Evangeline Kartanos. I didn't want to put this all on her Facebook page. Writing is just my way of processing.

Vange and I knew each other for what feels like my whole life. She lived around the block from me growing up. We were never close, but we were friend-ly. We'd chit chat in high school, but then we lost touch, as people growing up without social media do. We reconnected on Facebook, in 2009, just after I had E. She congratulated me on the baby and then wanted to know if I wanted to go to one of those focus group things to get paid for talking about One Life To Live. I couldn't go because I was in new mom mode. But I told her to think of me again.

The next time we emailed on FB was when my mom died not that long after. She sent me a really nice message, saying how she babysat my brother a little and that my mom worked at her gym for a little while. I appreciated the message.

I must have seen her posts about our shared interests- soaps and celebrities and started commenting. We loved all the same tv and she'd always tell me when she was going to Soap fan event meet & greet so I could live vicariously through her. We were both devastated when our ABC soaps were being cancelled one by one. Sometime in early 2012, she asked me if I wanted to start and jointly admin a Facebook soaps group. Of course I said yes, and our little group was born.

When we first started the group, it was more active, but that's because we had what we were sure was a legit crazy person in it. Calling this member crazy isn't even being mean or snarky. The member had numerous accounts and thought the characters on the soaps were real people. Like when Brooke Shields was on Friends as the character who believed Joey was really Dr Drake Ramore. This woman was obsessed with the love lives of all the characters of the Bold & The Beautiful and would post incessantly. Long, diatribes on why this one should or shouldn't be with this one. Dissecting their moral fiber, their looks, their personalities. She was always trying to organize boycotts every time the characters were in romantic relationships she didn't agree with. She'd leave and make two new profiles to take the last one's place. She'd make profiles of the characters as real people. I can't even articulate this kind of crazy the way it came across. Trust me.

Vange and I had a good laugh at first. I just went back into all our "admin" messages and we were just dumbfounded at what to do with this woman. Then it got so nuts that we had to give her numerous warnings about her obsession and debated on kicking her out. We didn't want to kick anyone out but her rantings were starting to freak other members out. We were hysterical because I finally, openly told this woman that the characters are NOT REAL. She just ignored me and kept on posting. I told her again. And again. She believed they *were* real.

I think that woman left on her own or she's there still under other aliases. She'd been in and then kicked out of numerous soap groups for doing the same thing. After she left, or at least just stopped posting about B&B, the group slowed down. Down to four soaps left, there was also just less to discuss. I was always really behind too. Our main soap in common was General Hospital and Vange would always get on me to catch up because I was consistently like two months, sometimes more, behind. I couldn't comment much because I had no idea what was going on.

Sometimes, Vange and I would just basically talk to each other in there. I'd post something, and she'd answer, I think, just so I wouldn't feel like I was talking to myself. The last thing she posted was the temporary Nicholas Cassadine recast and was part of the Kirsten Storms recast conversation. I loved that we could talk about soaps and actors like we were discussing important world events. To us, they *were* important world events. We knew the characters weren't real and we weren't living in Port Chuckles, but we loved our soaps together fiercely.

As soon as I'd see a commercial for any of the awards shows, I'd know she'd be posting an announcement that it was on and say "This is MY Super Bowl".

The last time I saw her was a couple of Septembers ago, at Jacqueline Laurita's Autism Speaks event at Westmount Country Club. We talked about what we'd wear and we were excited to see which RHONJ ladies would show up. We weren't at the same table so we didn't get to chat long, but I had been happy to reconnect in person. Time flies, we were both busy, and just never got to catch up in person again. But I got lucky- due to our shared tv/celeb interests, she introduced me to her friend Shirley. Thank you Vange for forging that connection. Your shows, celeb meet & greets, and soap discussions will continue on. If there is one frivolous thing I can do for you, it's that. Shirley, I hope you're on board for that. I have a sneaking suspicion you will be.

I was at E's swim team practice when I received the news. I really just didn't expect it. I knew things weren't good, but I guess I just didn't want to believe they were that bad. I still didn't think this was it. She'd rallied before- she TOLD ME. I quickly went back through our old messages. I went back to 2011, when she told me about the neurosurgery she'd had and how the doctors didn't expect her to make it or be the same that time. Her words: Every day is a gift and that's why I celebrate my "anniversary". I'm certain everyone who knew her would agree that every day she was still around WAS, in fact, a gift - to everyone in her orbit.

RIP Evangeline Kartanos. May you be with all your favorites at an Emmys in the sky for all of eternity. I will never think of the Super Bowl or any awards show without thinking of you too. And how much I loathe football.

There is a GoFundMe someone close to Vange set up to help her family out. I'm posting it in case anyone wants to donate-

Shirley, Vange & I at the Autism Speaks event 9-2013

Monday, June 20, 2016

So You Think You Can Dance Recital

 The school year is finally winding down. E is done on Wednesday. His extra curricular activities were all still going on as well. He finishes his current swim team this week too. The only things that finished prior were acting class, gymnastics, and baseball. We had E's dance recital this past Sunday- Father's Day. It should've ended the Sunday before but it was an important Jewish holiday that I didn't even know about. They rescheduled the recital for Father's Day. It was fine because we ended up just going to the town pool and then over to the recital.

I just wanted to talk about E's dance school a little. It's called Dance Etc. in Fair Lawn. If you're looking for a low-key studio with amazingly talented teachers who CARE, this is a place you want to check out. They're new-ish. Next school year will be their third. This was their second recital.

E has danced in other places. I've gone to watch the recitals from other dance schools. I've had to get up at the crack of dawn to get recital tickets. I've seen some extremely polished recitals, that ran like clockwork, with hundreds of kids, or what looked like hundreds of kids. This is the thing- those are great, they're a lot of work and talent, but I felt like they were dance factories, just churning out dances. I know parents who have spent 20k-40k on dance in a year at some places with competitions and costumes. I also found out from a former dancer from a local school that it's the norm that solos are paid for. So, if you have enough money, it isn't necessarily talent that gets you a solo, it's cold, hard cash. I've never been a dancer, so I was totally in the dark about how it works. I don't know if it works like that everywhere, but it's not just at one place either.

None of that is "bad". It's just not what I want for E, because he has so many interests. The kid is on a swim team, takes hip hop, gymnastics, acting class, and baseball. That's what he did this past school year. In addition to having an agent and having to drop everything to learn pages of dialogue, go to auditions, or do some background work on shows that tape in NYC. I don't want him to have to choose between his interests or drop any because one takes up all his time. I feel like if I was at one of those competitive studios, he'd have to drop something. He already had to drop art class because we just didn't have the time this year. I love that he's so well-rounded and diverse so this is the perfect dance studio for him. He learned SO much and he loved every minute. Not one week, even though he could never stay to play with his friends on the playground after school, did he say he didn't want to go to dance class. 

Dance Etc may work their way up to stuff like that- I don't know. I just don't think it will ever be that kind of studio. Omar Diaz is one of the owners (along with Jackie Bodtmann, and I don't know if they have any other partners). Omar emceed the recital last year and this one. I think he's a huge part of why the recitals have been so awesome. He's funny and you can tell he really cares about all the kids. Even if he doesn't know them in person, because he isn't there when they have class, he still wants to make sure that overall, they're having fun. That's how dance for kids SHOULD be! FUN!

They charged $10 this year for the DVD and I'm happy to pay it. I think the DVD at some other schools, which costs- what- like ten cents for the actual DVD- costs like $45 for the parents. That's on top of the usual $85 for a costume. And something around $22 per recital ticket. Our tickets cost $18 per person this year, but I get that they have to rent out the space and it costs money. E's costume? I think it cost me $20 in total. They let me buy the pants from Dr Jay's online myself. They were on sale and I got him a plain black t-shirt. I didn't want him to wear a hat, so they were fine with it. I just appreciate that they didn't just try to do a money grab for an $80+ costume when I could get it myself for less.

In addition to the costume thing, there were other ways they show they care. If E's teacher couldn't come for some reason, which only happened like two times, they got a substitute teacher. It just turned out that he was the only kid in the class. They could've just cancelled but they never did. I really appreciated that. 

Something that is also really important to me, is their principles. Someone on one of my message boards asked the other day how much morals and principles come into play with your work. Would you do a job that conflicted with your morals/principles? Or work on a project that did. I said I didn't think I'd ever be in a position for that to happen. That I work for myself for many reasons and that's one of them. However- it does come into play in our work too. We made a PRIDE chandelier and posted it on social media as such. We are for equality of all people. I'm not afraid to put that out there. Dance Etc isn't either. The first dance was a contemporary piece, done by one of the fabulous teachers there, who I believe Omar said also has her own dance company. It was all about equality and love being love. (The dance was to Same Love by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis with Mary Lambert)

Both B and I give them credit, as a fairly new business, to take that stance, when they don't know how it's going to be received. It was brave. Even though it's dance, and the arts, and doing something with that theme should be a non-issue, there are always going to be those who disagree. Being as "damn the man" as I am, I'm all for it, but there are plenty of businesses who won't talk the talk or walk the walk. I actually got a bit emotional and teary watching her dance. I just felt it was exuding love in this time of such tragedy. It really set the tone for a lovely performance day.

Was it super-produced and run like a well-oiled machine? No. Omar had to change the battery of the camera in the middle somewhere. The curtain closed when it wasn't meant to close. It was funny. I liked the whole low-key scene. All that matters is that all the kids got up there, they all did their dances, and no one even cried- not even the littlest of the littles.

Because it was Father's Day, they had all the dads or whoever was representing the family, come up to dance with their kid. The kids looked thrilled and the dads or representatives looked proud. The finale had both Omar and Jackie dancing, who were amazing, then the awesome teachers, and then all the kids, freestyle dancing. I think the finale was my favorite part. It was like the end of Dirty Dancing.

It was a little bittersweet for me because my baby was no longer the one lone dancing boy baby. He was always the one cute little boy and now he's grown up a bit. There was a really little boy who was the cutest thing ever- like he just somehow happened upon the stage to dance. Then there were two other boys, both probably a year or two younger than E - one who did a ballet/jazz routine and one who did a hip hop routine. They were all great.

Zemy & E
I posted the video of just E and then the finale on my Facebook page. A lot of people watched and liked it, many commenting on how awesome it was to see. I'm hoping that by seeing E dance, it really opens the minds of the parents who are hesitant to put their little boys in a dance class. I know just from message boards and Facebook groups that most moms choose the activities when they're younger than elementary school. The first thing they think of is sports- usually soccer. Or they'd love to see their boy in a dance class, but the dad nixes the idea. I have to say that out of all E's activities, dance has given him the most confidence. Knowing how to dance is a skill. He feels totally confident to go into a group of teens at an event like a bar/bat mitzvah and bust a move. I also think it's made him more coordinated in general. I don't know that he would've picked up skateboarding as quickly as he did, if he hadn't taken three years of ballet/jazz/tap and then the past two years of hip hop.

I know his confidence soared just from being able to get up on the stage by himself and do his thing. B and I were probably more nervous than he was. 

If you have a little boy and you're local, I'll also tell you that it's much nicer to sit inside a dance studio for practice than it is to sit on a field in the elements!

OH- and they have a summer schedule. E won't be there because he's in camp, but he saw there are summer classes and he wanted to know why he can't do that too. Yeah, there aren't enough hours in the day....

E's performance to Dynamite, choreographed by Shaina "Zemy" Cohen: 

The Finale:

Dance Etc Studio
7-15 Fair Lawn Ave.
Fair Lawn, NJ 07410

*Spellcheck is not working today, so if there are errors, I'll get to them another time.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

You Are Brave

I thought I wasn't going to write about Transgender stuff for awhile, but I changed my mind. Nothing happened. My friend Christian sent me this video- it just said "I love this!". I had no idea what it was. I assumed it was politics related because he's been on a politics tear, as everyone else has, and we agree on a lot of stuff.

People ask me why I care. "Why do you care about LGBTQ issues? You don't have a gay relative, or kid or something..." Why do I care? Because one, they're people, like anyone else. Two, I'm always going to be for the underdog. I prefer people who are a little different. Not just LGBTQ. Anyone with a story. Believe it or not, there are some people who have no story. Or stories. Their lives look like a flat line on Grey's Anatomy. Nothing really bad happens and nothing really great happens. They have very little adversity because they don't take any risks, they're family life is somewhat normal or they're too weirdly private to wear any of their dysfunction on their sleeves. It's boring. I've said a thousand times, I have a short attention span. Well, it's even shorter for people with no story. #SorryNotSorry

The LGBTQ community was born into their underdog status, just by virtue of not fitting a box that other people have decided is right, normal or usual. They didn't choose to be members of a discriminated crowd. They just are the underdog because of who they are. To me, that doesn't fly. I'm not okay with discrimination and hate towards people just for living their truth, being happy, finding love. Or whatever. I don't know why anyone cares. The only reason I've seen given is religion. Well, religious persecution hits way too close to home for me. So that's a no-go right there. Since no one religion has been proven "correct", I'm not about to take that "Word" as "The Word" of who gets to love whom or who gets to live as a certain gender just because they were born with a certain set of genitalia.

Further- I watch a video like this and I see a KID. A CHILD. She's fifteen, by the way, for the haters I saw in a comments section, bitching about her faux lashes. I happen to think she applies her make-up better than people I've seen behind a MAC counter. But she's a child. Just trying to navigate life. I remember being fifteen. That was a difficult year for me, without feeling like I was living in the wrong body. Assigned the wrong gender. So, it's called compassion. Say it with me- COM-PASS-ION. It's not that hard to have. If it is, you're the problem, not this girl.  

I put this video on- at work- which I don't recommend unless you have a box of tissues nearby. I do. I watch a lot of stuff that makes me cry at work.

I have a friend, someone I known since kindergarten, who told me, he just doesn't "understand" transgender. His problem is with trans girls "who are really boys" in the locker rooms with his daughters. Or on sports teams, with his daughters, having an edge. He believes that there are boys who would pretend to be trans to have access to the girls bathrooms and locker rooms. I could explain until I was blue in the face. I think, for some people, until you put a face and a story with with who would be in that locker room, it's maybe a hard sell. But I hope he sees this and it makes an impact. He is a nice guy, who has compassion, and doesn't feel like anyone should be bullied, but he just isn't in the head space yet to grasp it. The more he's educated on the subject, the more comfortable I hope him, and people who think like him, will become.

I would challenge anyone to watch this video, look at this little girl's face and mannerisms, and tell me she should be using the boys bathroom and locker rooms. That would be ridiculous. Abso-fcuking-lutely, ridiculous. LOOK AT HER. How could someone deny this is a girl and should be allowed to do whatever comes along with being a girl? Like peeing in a bathroom or changing in a locker room. Is she threatening? Does she look like she's just trying to get a peek at your daughter's private parts? Come. On.

She said she knew she was a girl since she was two. Her mom let her buy feminine clothing when she was ten. She said it was the happiest day of her life. I'm only sorry it took until she was ten to be able to live on the outside how she felt inside. I read somewhere she wants to be a supermodel. I totally feel like she could.

Here's a girl, so HAPPY, just to be able to live as who she is. The rest of us, lucky enough to be born in the right body, the right gender, not to feel different, alone, and afraid because our parts don't match who we believe we are, get to just live. Now she gets to just live, and is ecstatic, for just that. And all it took were parents and a principal who were understanding and accepting. If the rest of the world was only so understanding and accepting. #Tolerance 

Best of luck Corey Maison. Thanks for sharing your story. Hopefully the people who think we need bathroom patrol for transgendered people will watch this and a light bulb will go off. I can't wait to show this to my seven year old son who loves to see these stories where people are able to live their truth.


The Bully Project:

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Monday, June 13, 2016

Broken Record

That's it I guess. I'm just a broken record. I'm okay with that. If you don't want to read what I have to say then just click me out. I know I totally feel like as I go forward in this entry, it's probably going to have a lot of the same stuff in it that it did when I wrote about what happened in Newtown, CT or if I wrote about France. Or Belgium, West Virginia, or any of the hundred other places there were mass shootings and massacre. So here it is- Knowitallinnj does guns, LGBTQ, and schmucks all in one. Again.

I've said it- I don't understand guns in general. I don't. I'm sorry. Or #SorryNotSorry. Guns have never been a part of my life. There has never been a time I've needed, wanted, or thought about one. I would love someone to try to argue with me, who grew up in Bergen County, NJ, and lives here now, that they have ever "needed" a gun. Want and need are two very different things. I bet a lot of these people who died the other night at the club in Orlando hadn't thought much about guns either.

I've read posts on social media over the years blustering on about how we have the 2nd Amendment, we need to be able to protect ourselves, no one can take our guns. I've seen the rebuttal about the 2nd Amendment- well, when the 2nd Amendment was made, they were taking muskets and other low level weapons. Yasssssssss. They weren't talking about assault rifles. There is no reason for anyone, any civilian, to have an assault rifle. No one hunts with an assault rifle.

The next argument for guns, assault rifles, is that gun laws don't do anything. That just takes guns out of law abiding citizens hands and puts them in the hands of criminals. No, that's horseshit. Pot is illegal here in NJ. So it's really hard to get. Yes, I'm sure if I really tried hard, I could get some. But it isn't easy, there is a stigma around it, and because it's illegal, I can't just ask around if anyone has any. Pot is an individual thing though. Someone isn't using pot to kill someone. No one is going into a night club and murdering with edibles.

If I want phentermine (diet pills), I have to go to the doctor and get a prescription. And they don't give that out freely. I know people who can get opiates before getting diet pills. It's at the discretion of the doctor and whether he or she believes it'll help you and your health history allows for it. If you type it into Google, you CANNOT get it online. I'd have to figure out how to get it on the street, if that's even something a street dealer would even have. With a prescription, you're only allowed to have it three months at a time. If you try to go to the same pharmacy after three months with it, they call the doctor and give the doctor a hard time about it. It's really strongly checked & balanced. Yet, one person taking diet pills only affects them and maybe their family. It doesn't hurt, maim or kill anyone else by extension.

Why am I talking about diet pills? Because I can't believe that I can't get diet pills if I want them, that affect no one, but I could walk into a big box store and just pick up an assault rifle. Or wherever you get them. I just Googled "Where can you buy assault rifles?", for the purpose of this entry, and now I'm probably on a watch list. I don't want to Google any further. My point is- if assault rifles are banned, sure, some criminals will be able to get their hands on them. But not in droves. And not everyone who can buy an assault rifle is going to be a psychopath, but with the anger brewing in this country- no one should be able to just buy that. Chances are- if you have an assault rifle, you have some pretty messed up views of the world, and you're just a ticking time bomb waiting....

This is the thing. I wrote about porn the other day and how it affects how young boys see sex with women. I SAID- "Porn isn't responsible for rape". I was just musing on how boys are shaped seeing sex in porn growing up now. How they are desensitized by seeing violent sex depicted in porn. But that ultimately, porn doesn't make someone rape. It doesn't. The same way in pro-gun people's argument that knifes don't make people stab, cars don't make people drive drunk. Except that I feel with their arguments, they're being deliberately obtuse. No, a car isn't responsible for a drunk driver, nor are we taking away knifes because someone stabbed someone. Knifes don't make people stabby. HOWEVER, all these other things- cars, knives, porn- they all have other uses that are perfectly legal and fine. I use a car to be my son's Uber, a knife to cut the Granny Smith apple for my salad, and there is plenty of porn that is cinematically worthwhile or good entertainment for consenting adults.

THERE IS NO OTHER PURPOSE FOR A GUN THAN TO MAIM OR KILL. None. A knife is designed to cut things, but it's main objective isn't to cut someone's flesh. It CAN be used for that, the same way Botox is used cosmetically AND for migraines. A knife is meant for many good uses not involving flesh. Cars are mainly used to get from one place to another, safely. Guns are only used for one reason. The reasons may veer slightly- like a gun for hunting, one for skeet shooting, and then one to riddle something with many bullets in rapid succession. The point, though, is to maim or kill. There is nothing you can do with a gun, besides make a lamp out of it, that would not be for those reasons. See, I sound like a broken record. How many times do I have to write or say that for people to agree or understand?

So yes, YES, guns DO kill people. YES, someone has to be behind the trigger, but when someone buys a gun, they are looking to do that kind of damage with it. Even if it's to "protect your own home", which is rarely does, according to statistics, it's still to cause severe damage. There is no way to spin the word damage into a positive one.

You want to keep your guns? Okay, then give a little something on the other end. Start with a ban on assault rifles. Tell me how civilians having assault rifles could've stopped the massacre at this night club? Even if you're allowed to carry concealed weapons, no one is bringing an assault rifle to the club for a night out. Even if someone had a hand gun, they wouldn't have been a match for an assault rifle. And you can't expect even fifty percent of the general public to just be carrying. That's ridiculous. Most people couldn't even handle walking around with a gun - me included. I'd be searching for a lip balm and shoot my leg, like that football player back in the day.

It's all politics too. You then have all these schmucks saying this massacre was just a terrorist thing. No, it's a political and religious thing too. This is why we need tougher laws on who is allowed to have guns. You have people who are angry and religious, taking their interpretation of their religion and deciding they're the ones that are allowed or responsible to be the judge and jury. Deciding they're going to use their religion to carry out the punishment I thought was supposed to be given out by the "Creator". I don't know if there is a worse idea than giving out guns to angry religious fanatics.

I know there are people who judge what I allow my son to know about the ways of the world. I have him watch the news, I teach him about differences in gender, sex, ethnicity, religion, size, shape, and whatever comes up. He knows the ins and outs of most LGBTQ issues. He's been to many a PRIDE parade. I know someone who had an eight year old daughter, who has been transitioning to living as an eight year old boy. E is fully versed in this kid's story and has nothing but love and compassion. To me, my mantra for E has been, things are not a thing unless you make them a thing. It goes for LGBTQ, someone with any kind of physical or mental disability, race, religion, and whatever else comes up.

Conservatives in politics and religion want the whole LGBTQ part of this massacre to be ignored. Blame it on the Muslims and call it a day- to further their agenda. It's not about that. It's about being in this weird time in history where we have a presidential candidate running on hate. A political party so deep in the NRA's pocket that we pretty much have no hope of any kind of reform. A time when it's actually okay and acceptable to be racist, sexist, misogynistic, homophobic, anti-semitic, etc. It's like some kind of alternate universe they'd make up for an SNL skit. A really bad, not funny one. We have a candidate that's actually pushing the whole hate agenda like it's a positive thing and people are actually responding favorably. It's the normal, thinking person's worst nightmare.

I heard Obama's speech on this massacre. "This is an especially heartbreaking day for all of our friends, our fellow Americans, who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender," he said. "This is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation, is an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country."

I felt good about that paragraph. Because it was FOR everyone. It was compassionate. It isn't bringing these senselessly killed victims back, but it was a message of love and hope. If Trump IS, in fact, to be taken at his words, then what kind of message would he have given in this moment? That was all I could think after I heard the above message. WWTD? What would Trump do? How would he have promoted any healing? How would he diffuse the situation?

The answer is- HE WOULDN'T. I shudder to think of what would happen. Just all out anarchy? Going after our neighbors with fire and pitchforks? Because I know firsthand how dumb the average American can be. I had a woman come into my store about a year ago. She was talking about how when she was growing up in a town over, Glen Rock was the hoity-toity town. But now we're always in the news for bad things happening. I said, "Oh, right, with the police...." At the time, there was some shady things going on between our police chief and his police force. She said- "Oh, no. Not the police. With those damn Muslims who are all taking over the town.". I can't put emoticons here, but just imagine my face (for those that know me in person). I was like- "What are you talking about- what Muslims?" She said- "You know, that temple at the other side of town...."

My response: "Yeah, they're Sikh and have nothing to so radical Islam". Then I literally walked right down the hallway and out the back door of my store. I couldn't even be there. How do you even respond to something so stupid? Clearly, she isn't the only moron with wrong information walking around. Racist, disgusting, information that they just have taken as fact. This is exactly why Donald Trump is so dangerous. As someone, some voice of reason has said, he appeals to the lowest common denominator. The moron who is just ready and waiting for the go-ahead to start a race war. It's not just a difference in opinion or differing politics. HE is a danger. Even if you're only business minded and just feel like he's a business man and therefore can treat the country like a business and make better financial decisions. We just have way too much unbridled stupidity walking around also on "your team". They may be interested in the country's finances, but they're way more interested in "taking the country back" to a time when no one was welcome but white Christians. Well, that doesn't work for many of us and it shouldn't work for the rest of the thinking ones either who want to continue being part of a civilized society.

Yes, this entry is all over the place. Guns, LGBTQ, Trump, politics, racism, you name it. It's all connected. I'm so emotional right now because this not the world I want my seven year old to grow up in. A world where guns and this bastardization of the 2nd Amendment takes precedence over dead kids, dead gays, dead students, dead young talented singers. *I* don't want to live in a time where I have to think about going to a movie- any movie- because of the possibility of a shooting rampage. Or think about going to the mall for dinner and being shoved into the back room of an Adidas store because there might be a shooter. I don't want to see only slacktivism on gun reform. I want to see some real shit go down. I don't understand how after twenty children were murdered everyone's hands were still tied. All I seem to be able to do is sign petitions. So whatever anti-gun petitions you want to throw at me- I'll sign 'em all. You want me to go to a rally? I'm there.

You want to hide me, defriend me on social media, stop reading- that's cool too. I'm not going to argue with you. You believe in full on access to assault rifles- you can kiss my dimpled, white, Atheist Cultural Jew, loudmouth, know it all, Jersey-bitch ass. In Macy's window.

My thoughts and positive energy go out to the LGBTQ community, the family and friends of the victims, and the rest of us that are tired of the gun violence allowed to just run rampant because money and schmucks. I am so angry and heartbroken for all people who have to be afraid just walking out their door because of hate and ignorance.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Influence-za Beside Affluenza

Ok. Never say never. Or don't count your chickens before they hatch. Or whatever the cliche would be. I wasn't saying good-bye. I just didn't know if I had anything really to write about. How many opinions can people read on the kid in the gorilla enclosure, the presidential race, or the brutal Stanford rape? Well, you're getting another musing on the rape case. But a different aspect of it. I can't talk to the lunacy of the sentence. The asswipery of that judge. The implications of the short sentence and asswipery of said judge on others not speaking out about their own rapes because seeing all this- why bother? I'm not going to talk to any of that because it's all been said. And honestly- it's so grotesque and wrong, it hurts my currently fragile heart.

Somehow, probably watching an episode of SVU, the subject of porn and kids having access to it came up between B and I. He was saying that when he was a kid- probably pre-teens or teenagers, he and his friends would come across some bad porn on Beta and all go watch it at another kid's house when they found themselves without parental supervision there. It was very crude, old porn though. Not really attractive people, not quality in any sense of the word. But this was all that was out there and it was pretty scarce. Maybe someone would find a magazine their dad had stuffed somewhere and bring it back to the rest of the crew.

I remember riding my bike to the library in New Milford one day, when it was on my side of town, and walking into the Young Adult aisle. There were too older girls there looking at a porn magazine. They showed it to me. I had to be around nine or ten. They stuffed it back behind the books somewhere and that was the only time I saw it. I'm sure there must have been some porn on VHS in my parents house but if there was, I never came across it as a kid. I remember seeing a Playboy once, but my father didn't read much. I highly doubt that was a subscription.

Our access to porn as kids and teens was very little. Not because our parents were squeaky clean. Rita used to call me at college when she worked in the video store to tell me whose parents rent porn. Can you imagine that now? Renting porn? Having to go in a little back room, pick a movie like Debbie Does Dallas, and bring it to the check out? To be checked out by Rita? That gives me a good chuckle. Never will I forget asking my mom what she was doing one night and she told me, annoyed, that she had to stay late to organize the adult room by fetish.

Back to my conversation with B, the Stanford rape case came up. B was saying that he wonders if anyone is talking about how having such easy access to hardcore porn affects kids these days. That when he was one of those kids seeing porn on Beta, either his mom knew they were seeing it or she just wanted it known if he did see porn, that isn't how women want to be treated. She said to him in her fluent Brooklynese voice- "You know, porn is fine, but that's not how women want to be treated. All thrown around like that." B said that always stuck with him. Porn is not representative of how you're supposed to treat women.

Kids seem to get smart phones around the age of ten, at least around me. In some towns, or areas, I'm sure it's earlier. I assume that means unlimited access on Safari or whatever the browser is, when using the phone. I don't know what kind of parental controls you can have. E has an ipad, but he's not allowed to use Safari or YouTube and he hardly ever is allowed to use the iPad at all. We don't have a desktop or laptop for him, so his access to the internet in general is very limited at the moment, at seven and a half years old. But the kids who do have their own phones can probably look up whatever they want. I doubt most kids are looking up porn. I do know that I have friends who told me their kid watches YouTube and got to something they shouldn't have by accident. I'm giving the kids the benefit of the doubt, because I know what I've stumbled upon unwittingly when looking something up. I'm going to assume that most kids in younger age groups come across porn or porn-esque things accidentally.

However they get there it's there. Weird porn, hardcore, trafficked kids, rape or snuff stuff- it's all out there at the click of a button. It's just so easy. So, you take a rape case like we've seen with Brock Turner. He blames drinking and promiscuity. The culture of drinking and promiscuity on college campuses. We all blame him. I don't really care of the culture of anything. He did what he did. There is no excuse. While there's no excuse, in talking to B, I'm wondering how much certain factors contribute to someone like Brock's idea of what sex, being a man, being a promising athlete all are that gave him the confidence to rape.

Clearly his parents, or more so, his father, didn't bother to teach him how to treat women. I say "clearly" because of his father's statement to the courts that he shouldn't be judged on twenty minutes of action. He said it. I'm not putting words in his mouth. When you discount rape to "twenty minutes of action", that is very telling. Telling of nothing good. Nothing I'd be proud of teaching to my own boy. Ok, check mark next to just a lack of parenting on that subject.

What about the roll of porn though? I'm not against porn. This is not the subject here. If adults want to watch porn, have at it. I've known people that I like very much, over the course of my careers, who work in the industry- directors, producers, actors. By choice. They aren't trafficked or doing it against their will. They're adults, happy and successful in their chosen career. Mazel.

There are those people though, who aren't doing it because it's their chosen field. There is dangerous porn, illegal porn, and rape porn. As adults who grew up before all this at-your-fingertips-technology, we know the difference between old, unrelateable, porn and the porn of today with girls who look like girls these boys go to school with. Girls that look like they're enjoying being dragged around, donkey punched, or taken against their will.

B asked me if girls ever did what he and his friends did. Like, find a Beta (he's five years older than I am) or VHS porn, sit around in a group and watch. I just looked at him like, "seriously?". No. We didn't. We played truth or dare. We dared each other to "french Nikki Six on that poster". We talked about boys we had a crush on and wanted to kiss. But my friends? No, porn. Maybe other girls were finding and watching it but no one that comes to mind. B said how that just speaks to a huge difference in how young boys and young girls think about sex. We're all curious, having been a young boy, he said that young boys are curious. "Oh, that's where you stick it. That's what you do". He thinks they were around thirteen to fifteen - Moped age.

Hard to get a hold of Betamax porn is where they got their ideas of what sex looks like. What happens if you're watching a lot of porn, like they can now? If that's where their ideas of what's ok to do or what girls like, come from, if no one, like parents, are telling them different? If they can watch it daily in any fetish they can dream up or just come across?

Another point he brought up was video games in comparison. We hate when E is on the iPad because he's so zoned in that he gives us attitude. He's not even playing games that people consider aggressive gaming like Grand Theft Auto. It's been said that certain games make kids more aggressive. Well, if that's true, I'd have to think that if guys are watching rape or violence porn, it's going to carry over into their lives when sexual situations come up. 

Again, it's no excuse. Rape is rape is rape. Playing video games doesn't cause violence. Watching porn doesn't cause someone to rape. I'm not blaming porn. I'm just saying that these things being so readily available and often watched, just adds to the culture of acceptance of certain behavior. I think it can definitely desensitize people to the idea of what constitutes rape. Look at all the adults who try to re-define what rape is when they're trying to get their son, friend, brother, etc out of rape charges. It just seems to roll off the tongue to blame the woman, school, culture. People take the bait too. Slut shaming happens every day. We're desensitized to a lot because of what we see every day- from using the curse words never allowed back in the day, on network tv today, to gun violence in schools. It happens so often, it feels like it's all in one ear and back to the Kardashians. 

We need to figure out how to be proactive if these things are out there. What can we do to change things? Change the way women are viewed by boys who are in partying, drinking, low inhibition scenarios. How do you get someone's bell to go off when they find themselves in these situations to prevent them from doing such horrific things?

It's not just- "get rid of porn!". That's like preaching abstinence as teen birth control. It's there. Same with technology. It's here to stay. Now what? Communicating with our kids about the embarrassing or difficult topics is a huge. No one WANTS to do to have these conversations. I read on message boards - my kid asked me where babies came from so I said she came out my belly button. Or, he found a tampon and asked what it is so I said a special band aid. We can't be afraid to talk to our kids as early as they ask. Not overload them with information they don't ask for, but give them the information they do ask for in age-appropriate ways. And sorry, we have to talk about things like porn. Violence and/or rape porn. The difference between healthy sex and not healthy sex. Because it's going to come up. We can't have parental controls on our kids friends devices. If in the 80's there were kids watching porn on Beta, they're certainly going to try it on smart phones. We can't ignore that it's out there and just hope they never see it. I can't even count how many moms I've heard say- "I looked through his history and was shocked at what I found!"

I want my son to know to be one of those Swedish kids who saved the victim. But I don't want there to be a victim in the first place. I have him watch the news with me. He's seven and he knows things I wish he didn't have to know. He knows that you always stick up for people who can't do it for themselves. He knows that he is always to be protective- not chauvinistic, but protective, of girls, if they are in situations where it seems they need protecting. I just don't want him to be desensitized- to violence, to wrong doing, to I don't know what. I know I don't want him to ever think rape is okay. And I just don't think selling him a "no means no" line is enough. I don't know what IS enough. I suppose this is out loud brainstorming.

We don't know if this guy Brock was an avid hardcore porn watcher. Or any kind of porn watcher. B and I just happened to be musing on what makes a kid think that behavior is okay. Besides parenting. Besides the affluenza buzzword. Yes, both of those factors are true. We all know if he was a same age kid of color, on scholarship for coming from less money, he'd be fried for this crime. I'm just also interested in all the other things that shaped his feelings that he was entitled to violate someone like that. He's appealing his joke of a sentence, which means he still feels entitled to his freedom- freedom from repercussions or remorse. He has a mother and it looks like from a family photo that he has at least one sister. I guess, also, as a woman and a mom of a boy, I need to make some kind of heads or tails of how he got to thinking that was acceptable behavior.

Not that I feel like my kid could do something like that, but when you hear of things like this happening and how justice is often not served, even when you have the eyewitnesses and proof, you feel helpless. The only power I have is to be able to teach my son right from wrong and how to respect his fellow humans- male and female. I can't make violence porn go away. I can't police the internet. The police can't police the internet. So, I feel like I need to understand the mind of a person who does this, to proactively make sure I do whatever I have to do to make sure my son understands that this is never what girls want.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Missing Puppies & Rainbows These Days

I feel like I'm always apologizing for not writing. Saying I don't have the time. I really have been busy, but it's not just that. I've actually been listening to a podcast for the first time ever. I can't even get through one hour's episode in one sitting. But it helps that I figured out how to listen in my car through the blue tooth! I just haven't been writing. I've been procrastinating. I don't have writer's block or anything. I think I definitely have too many things swirling around in my brain.

People seem to read my stuff because they say it's honest. That I just tell it how it is, or have no filter. They tell me that I write about things other people might be afraid to put out there. That's all true, for the most part.

Except, now, these days, I'm tired. Not from running around being busy. I'm tired of fighting. Tired of being disappointed by people I thought I liked. Tired of opinions I can't un-see, un-hear, and un-know.

It's not as simple as live and let live- we have different opinions and we'll agree to disagree. It's that there somehow became a level of "anything goes". It sounds good, in theory. I don't know what it's a commercial for, but there's a commercial I've heard a few times that goes, "Wouldn't it be great if people just said exactly what they were thinking...." Or something like that. No, actually it isn't great. Because what they're saying is so offensive. It takes a lot to offend me. But if you say things that are racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-transgender, misogynistic, then yes, I'm going to be offended. Or not even so much offended, but annoyed and disappointed. Why do I even know people who think this way?

Ugh. Like I said, I'm tired. I love social media. Except, social media is overloading me on opinions I didn't want to know. It's not as easy as getting off social media either. I'm not going to live with my head in the sand. The people I know who don't use social media are weird. Sorry- you are. And you're probably not even going to see this, because if you're not on social media, I don't even know what you look at online. Most likely not this. Those not on social media are in some weird bubble that isn't real. They don't know simple things that are going on that they should know. Being in the dark, in a general sense, isn't the answer either. Social media is used for everything now- local events, school things, etc. So, shutting it out completely isn't the answer.

I just know I'm not changing minds by the things I post, re-post, tweet, or re-tweet. I post them out of moral obligation or in the moment passion, but part of me doesn't even want anyone on "the other side" to even see the post because I don't feel like getting in the inevitable argument that I know will ensue. I used to feel like it was all balance- like, if I have to see all their racist, ignorant stuff, they should have to see my un-racist, non-ignorant rebuttal stuff. Then I realized, if you're racist, or stupid, posting stuff you haven't even vetted as true, or whatever- you're not even opening my stuff. I'm probably hidden. Or unfriended. I've had to unfriend people. I never used to do that. But there are just some things I don't want to be associated. Hey, full on out and proud racists posting & perpetuating non-factual information, I'm looking at you!

(As an aside- Facebook really is conducting a messed up social experiment. I love the "On This Day" thing where FB pulls up all your memories from whatever the date is, that you've posted every year you've been a member. All the old comments are under the posts. The most interesting thing is when you re-read the old comments, then realize you haven't seen or heard from a person on there in awhile, you click on their profile and you see they've defriended you. Thanks FB for letting me know someone else thinks I'm an a-hole.)

Back to my little rant here... I started feeling tired and disillusioned when the Josh Duggar scandal happened. I posted something about it and someone I know basically posted in his & his parent's defense. I lost faith in humanity that day. How someone could come to their defense is so disheartening and baffling that I was *almost* speechless. Almost. I was also angry. Not just angry at the moronic defense, but angry that now I know the thoughts of someone that I can't un-know. I was just like- another one bites the dust....

Even this morning, I was in the doctor's office. The nurses & other office staff were talking about the primary and who they voted for or that they didn't vote, and then...someone mentioned having a blowout debate over one candidate and what side my doctor was on. I DON'T WANT TO KNOW WHO MY DOCTOR IS VOTING FOR. I get it- they're in their "work environment" just like anyone else in an office. They were having conversation, not thinking a patient would be there listening, or that what they're talking about could even have any kind of effect. I just couldn't un-hear or un-know, and I wish I wasn't privy to that conversation.

An old friend asked a pretty loaded and controversial question on Facebook this morning. On one hand I wanted to just blow on by without answering. But I couldn't. I felt like I had a responsibility to answer. Because she isn't closeminded. She didn't ask it in the most diplomatic way but I get her, I answered, and surprisingly, it actually didn't get ugly (as of early this afternoon anyway). It's been very respectful. I just had that feeling of anxiety of what it *would* become. Just by past experience in general. Every time I get a notification that there's a new response, I can't help but get a pit in my stomach.

I don't want more people to bite the dust. I don't want to stop sharing. I do wish I could "disable comments" on Facebook like they can and do on certain kinds of news articles online. Like I can do on this blog. I have to READ the comments here, but I don't have to POST the comments. Even then, I still can't un-know, but they're not just out in the open. For the record, I don't censor comments on my blog (or on FB)- I've never had to, I guess because I implemented the whole approval thing here. No one wants to give me any grief under their real user name I guess. I do want to be able to have thoughtful back and forth - I just think it's too emotional of a time right now, for everyone. I don't know if it's social media that exacerbates it but it's all just too much.

I guess I just don't know what to write about. I think about a lot of things during the course of the day. These days, they're all pretty controversial. I also don't want to be one-note either. I don't want to keep posting about the same topics but those just seem to be what comes up for me. Maybe because all the same stuff is in the news, never coming to resolution. So I've taken a bit of a subconscious break from writing anything. Some I have started but never finished. I'll get back into writing- have no fear. I do care about more than all the Real Housewives. It's just writing about them (on Facebook), has been my mental distraction for now. Dissecting scripted reality is about the reality I can handle.

If only it could be all puppies and rainbows for a little while...