Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Mommy Makeover Part 2

Aesthetic Rejuvenation Center upstairs waiting area
I told you guys I'm doing this whole "Mommy Makeover" thing that I won in parts. Some of the things need some time to heal before whatever is the next step. Rhonda at the Aesthetic Rejuvenation Center put together a treatment plan and the order I should do them in, and I just told them the dates and blocks of time I can get there. They made the appointments for me and texted them to me.

I really appreciated this technologically advanced way of doing things. There is nothing more annoying that having to sit on the phone with the calendar and try to work out appointments. Here's when I can come, you do the puzzle and tell me when I'm coming. I don't have time to sit on the phone. I also have to call when I leave work because I guarantee if I call while AT work, someone will come in or call. If I call from my cell, then I don't have access to the calendar. I'm very pleased at how easy they made this whole thing.

This appointment was with Pamela Delacruz, a medical esthetician. I immediately felt like I was in good hands because she is so pretty and her skin looks so fabulous. I knew I was coming in for Ulthera or Ultherapy (I'm not sure which it's called but it's the same thing) and Dermapen, but I didn't research either one. Why? Why would I have something done and not know what it is beforehand? Because I trust that the people in this place know what they're doing, and I just wanted to experience it all first without going crazy reading about it. I just wanted to jump in and do it. Do I need to know the possible side effects or problems? No. I was doing it anyway. So viva la face treatments!

Pam told me she didn't think I really NEEDED the Ulthera around the eyes but I wanted to do it anyway. I did botox proactively. I had some wrinkles but I'd heard it was good to start early anyway. I figured that it couldn't hurt. Because I hadn't researched it, I wasn't exactly sure what it was supposed to do. I was doing the Dermapen because I've had acne scars from cystic acne I had in my senior year of high school and then again in the beginning of my sophomore year of college. I'd taken minocycline both time to get rid of it, and that did the trick, but it did leave some lasting marks that have always bothered me.

They told me that one treatment with the Dermapen probably wouldn't eliminate the scars but they would look better. I'm game for whatever they want to try since I don't have the money to do any of this on my own. This is my shot at trying to fix what I don't like. I think both treatments were to help with or get rid of any sun spots I have too.

She first numbed my face with LMX 4% cream. I'm familiar with this stuff because it's what the Mohel told me to get for Ethan's bris. What I didn't know what that to really get an area numb, you need to use a lot of it and you need to manipulate it around the area. You have really massage it in and keep doing it. It's not enough to just slap some on and wait. By the time she was ready to do any treatments, I couldn't really feel my face. That was just fine with me because I don't have the highest pain tolerance. She made it sound like some people find what she was going to do somewhat painful.

I felt nothing. She did the Ulthera and I felt nothing. No pain. She made sure to stop and check to see that the machine was working and it was working. I did feel a spot here or there with either the Ulthera or the Dermapen but I wouldn't say it hurt. I'd say I FELT it vs not feeling anything.

Then she did the Dermapen. I'd had microdermabrasion one time, on a work trip for John Abate, in a skincare and tanning salon (I know, I know- oxymoron). I think it kind of felt like that. I wasn't numb for the microdermabrasion so maybe that's less intense? I don't know. I think I'm getting microdermabrasion too, so I'll let you know how they compare.

With consultation (when I got there) and both treatments I was there just under two hours. I was told that I'd probably have redness and maybe a little swelling but it would be gone by either later in the night or the next morning.

Last night around 7:30p. Excuse the zombie face
I wasn't really red when I left. I got way red by the early evening. I took E to swim practice and I could tell, in that shvitz of a pool area, with the heat, my face was definitely on fire. I expected that and I was fine with it. I was still red when I got home at around seven o'clock. It didn't hurt, it was just hot.

Also last night around 7:30p
By this morning, my skin looked like when it does after indoor tanning. In a good way. You can't see my scars, not because they're gone, but because my skin is plumped up. It burned a little when I put moisturizer on after my shower this morning, but I expected that too. My face has to be a little raw, even if I can't see it as raw with my eyes. I like the way it looks. It looks healthy. I have no make up on today and I definitely have a healthy looking glow.

Sorry- I'm the worst selfie taker, but you can see I'm not really red.

Pam Delacruz
I highly recommend Pam. She was a pleasure to have an esthetician. She is friendly, open, and you can tell she knows what she's doing. I'm hoping I get another turn with the Dermapen but if they don't give it to me as part of my winnings, I'd consider saving my money and going back to her to do another treatment. I think she said that one treatment with Dermapen costs two hundred and fifty dollars. That's about how much I used to pay for Botox when I did it cosmetically. If it could really get rid of my acne scars, I would consider that two hundred and fifty very well spent.

 Pam is only there on Mondays because she has a salon down in Long Branch. If you're in Bergen County, see her at the Aesthetic Rejuvenation Center in Englewood Cliffs and if you're down the shore, see her at Kevin Alan Salon on Atlantic Ave in Long Branch, NJ.

**Update on the Cool Sculpting procedure: It's Day 8. I had it done last Tuesday. I've been wearing the waist trainer every day, all day, except in the shower and right after- until I get dressed. The itching was almost unbearable. Apparently, that's your nerves just get themselves back to normal. It was really numb up until today. I still have numbness but it's almost back to feeling like it's my own skin vs autonomous skin from my body. I don't feel itchy at all so far today which is leaps and bounds from how it felt just two days ago.

I have had some of those zinger kind of shooting pain. Those aren't really that bad. I'd say the itching is worse. There is nothing that takes it away either- not topical or oral antihistamines. I just keep repeating, "Beauty is pain..." like a mantra.

I do think I can see some difference already. I can see that in the area I'd need to suck in to see any definition, I see some without sucking in. I'm still a bit swollen though and really, you're not supposed to see much of a result until one to four months after. I've seen pics of the results and even Pam said she did it and she had amazing results. It's not like she was trying to sell me- I'd already done it. So I believe her.

I was told I have to wait until two weeks post Ulthera to do the next things. I just looked up my appointments on the calendar and those are Microdermabrasion and IPL. I also have a consult this week at Illuminada Salon for whatever they're going to do to me!

Aesthetic Rejuvenation Center: https://www.rejuvenation-center.com/

Aesthetic Rejuvenation Center downstairs waiting room

Friday, January 27, 2017

Where Did I Come From: Results

About a month after I sent in my DNA (spit) to Ancestry.com, I got my results. The results weren't a big surprise or anything. However, I did get an interesting confirmation of sorts. I wrote about it in the last entry I wrote about taking the DNA test and I'm going to reference it again. People love to argue that "Jewish" isn't an ethnicity, it's a religion. It is a religion. Even DNA considers it an ethnicity though. I realized another reason how or why.

Here are my results first:

Notice, my "Ethnicity Estimate" is eighty-eight percent European Jewish. I wasn't given a specific country. But somehow, scientists who do this work with DNA to determine ethnicity, can give me the specific that my ancestors were Jewish.

When two Jewish people get married and decide to try to have a baby, the obstetrician/gynecologist gives you a script for a "Jewish Panel" blood test. I'm putting the clinical information below instead of trying to explain it myself.

Clinical Background
The Ashkenazi Jewish panels detect mutations associated with disorders that commonly occur in Ashkenazi Jewish (Eastern European Jewish) individuals (see below). Two panels are offered: 1) a 4-test panel, which includes the genetic tests recommended by ACOG and ACMG (for Canavan disease, cystic fibrosis, familial dysautonomia, and Tay-Sachs); and 2) an 11-test panel, which also includes tests for 7 other diseases common among Ashkenazi Jewish individuals. The panels simplify test ordering for Ashkenazi Jewish individuals who wish to know their carrier status and/or their risk of having a child with any of these disorders. It is most frequently used for Ashkenazi Jews and their partners who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy. Since all of these disorders are autosomal recessive, both parents must be carriers for the couple to have an affected child. If one partner is Ashkenazi Jewish and the other is not, sequential screening, beginning with the Ashkenazi Jewish individual, is recommended. 

So it really is about blood. Atheist or not, I still have Jewish in my DNA. That, is why it's an ethnicity. For the millionth time, I don't have a country. Well, I do. I'm American. But if we're talking ancestors, where other people get countries of origin, I just have a whole general area. If you look at the map, we're talking Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, you name it. All of Eastern Europe is in there. It's not like you can say- "well, they're all the same". No, they're not. People from each one identify with their own country if they are first or second generation. Also, those countries have plenty of people born and raised in each that aren't Jewish. My DNA is unique to Eastern European Jewish but not to a specific country. That's why if you ask me- What are you?, my answer is- Garden variety American Jew. Seinfeldian Jew, if you will. 

I didn't learn anything I didn't know. I thought maybe I'd get a country. Narrowed down a little bit at least. The cool thing is they give you people who have a high probability of being related to you. I immediately got messages from people who say they are somehow related. It's definitely interesting. I don't have a lot of time to investigate with all these fourth or fifth cousins, once removed (not sure what that even means yet), but they'll be there when I do find some time. 
I don't like that I paid for the test, then have to pay for more information, because they obviously suck you in that way. To do your family tree is free, but to check out other people's trees, you have to pay. I can't see the trees of the people who have contacted me unless I pay some membership fee. I probably will pay, eventually, when I have time to use it, otherwise, doing the test and just coming up "European Jew" doesn't get me much further than what I knew. At least I have options now though. I'm glad I did the test. It's cool to know. Or even just to validate. I'm sure for people with skeletons in their closet, adoption, or whatever- it can be a really put the pieces of an ancestry puzzle together. 

I was doing some research on the Ancestry.com test vs 23 and Me. Both Ancestry and 23 and Me have the ethnicity DNA test for around the same cost. 23 and Me does an added health history component for an extra one hundred dollars. The consensus was to do Ancestry.com first because it's more user friendly and automatically connects you with possible relatives. 23 and Me is much more limited with that information apparently. But if you're really interested in your ancestral and health history, to do 23 and Me after you do the Ancestry one. I want to do 23 and Me also for comparison to Ancestry.com and for the health component, but I don't have an extra two hundred laying around. I think I will eventually do it though. Just to have. In any event, I feel like it was money well spent.

If you want the ten percent off your test and/or to buy one as a gift, use my link- https://refer.dna.ancestry.com/s/gyaka

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Go Big Or Go Home

I don't know why I get these grandiose ideas in my head, but I do. It's probably where E gets them. I've never minded baking, but my kind of baking is from a mix. People can ruin a mix. I never do. I always have gotten compliments on any baked goods I've brought to a gathering. I can never make anything easy for myself though. I realize I always seem to come up with these grandiose idea when I'm hungry. Or haven't had good cake in awhile.

This is how it happened this time too. I was in Target, hungry, and saw a box of Duff Goldman's tie-dye cake mix. Of course I was getting this. Then I was like- well, if I'm getting that, I don't know how good it tastes, so I need to make layers. I also knew I can never again eat canned icing, after having made my own strawberry buttercream. The cake is just a vehicle for the frosting anyway. When we had the meet & greet for Josh Gottheimer (congressman), I'd also made chocolate buttercream. I wasn't a fan. I don't know why it didn't taste as good as the strawberry, but it decidedly, did not. I thought I should just make a chocolate cake layer instead. Then I thought, but what about me? I don't like chocolate cake, so what if the Duff cake isn't good? I didn't know whether to get white or golden, so I went with "Blue Velvet", which is a teal color. I figured it was colored vanilla for those baby gender reveal cakes.

All of a sudden I'm making a three layer cake? Why? Well, it didn't matter why, I'd bought all the goods. How hard could it be? HAHA.

The Duff cake needs six small bowls to make each color separately. Awesome. I didn't even have six small bowls for such purpose. I used a mix of faux Tupperware and baby bowls I still had. Good thing I got that stand mixer back when there was a Nest frenzy*. Making the mix in the mixer was fine. It was doling out an even two-thirds of a cup to each little bowl. Then, using their tiny food coloring packettes to make the colors was no neat enterprise. I was stained for days. It was also just a huge mess because of pouring the batter into the six bowls. Maybe someone else could do it neater, but that's just not how it worked out.

That was the first cake I did on a Thursday evening. It took like two or three hours from prep to clean-up. I had to do this all piecemeal, was because I also over-committed  myself that week. E's activities, marching in the Womans March, playdate at Cohen's. All important things that couldn't be cancelled or rescheduled. 

I made the chocolate cake and the blue velvet cake the next night. Those were fairly easy. The buttercream I left for Saturday night. I had no choice. I went to the March in NYC by ten o'clock in the morning, was home by four o'clock in the afternoon. I decided I would at least reduce the strawberries in the hour I had before B got home and leaving for dinner. Why reduce? The recipe says if you don't, the frosting will be runny.

It was easier this time because I looked up what a small saucepan looks like. For some reason, the last time I made it, I used a skillet pan? I think that's what it's called. This time I used a saucepan and it turned out to be a better choice. It still took awhile to cut the strawberries, puree them, and reduce them. I did it, that part was over, so I only had to do the rest.

When we got home from dinner around seven-thirty-ish that night, I started the buttercream. I was doing strawberry, then vanilla. I needed to put the strawberry between the layers, then use the vanilla to do the top and outside. Part of the problem is math for me. Doubling recipes is a killer for someone with a learning disability in math. Also, since I'd never made anything like this, I didn't know that I'd need more.

I did need more strawberry, but luckily I could do that sort of easily. I had the ingredients right there. I also felt like I could make another single batch and that would be the perfect amount. It still was messy. Working with powdered sugar is not something for someone with mess phobia. Clouds were everywhere and inevitable. I had to put the cat in the basement and then listen to her meowing through the door while I was navigating sugar clouds and butter flying.

With the vanilla buttercream, I didn't know how much more I would need and I thought making a whole new single batch would be way too much. Plus, I wasn't sure if I had enough sugar and frankly, I was exhausted. The cake wasn't even really FOR anything except E and I. And if I'm totally honest, it was really for ME. I just wanted it done. It wasn't working out like it was supposed to in my head. Ann Marie and Casey, my friends, told me what I had to do to make it look better but I didn't feel like listening. It seemed like too much work and I didn't have the right accoutrements. I think if I'd had more of both flavors of frosting, it would've looked a little better.

By the way, it took an hour just to cut it and wrap it all individually. It freezes well. Now I'm not chomping at the bit to get to Red Bank for Cupcake Magician. Besides, my cousin will bring some of those up in a few weeks. 

So here's the finished product.

FYI- you can freeze just about any cake. Just cut it into individual portions, wrap in cling wrap and then put in freezer bags.

*The stand mixer was normally almost four hundred dollars. Lowes had a typo and it was advertised for one hundred and fifty. They were honoring that price and the deal ripped through the Nest message boards like wildfire.

Strawberry buttercream recipe: http://www.cookingclassy.com/strawberry-cupcakes-strawberry-buttercream-frosting/

Vanilla buttercream recipe: http://www.cookingclassy.com/my-favorite-fluffy-buttercream-frosting/

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Mommy Makeover Part I

**Please excuse any typos or misspelling. I tried to get this up quick because I'm being badgered. I will go back and check it later.

I love plastic surgery and other aesthetic enhancements, procedures, and all the accoutrements that go with it all. I would never have the money to do any of these things, until we don't have to pay for camp anymore, which is many years from now. By then, I probably will have thrown in the towel on this stuff. Or not.

There was a contest for $7500 of procedures between these two places- Aesthetic Rejuvenation Center  Iluminada Studio, in BC Magazine (Bergen County Magazine). It was to nominate yourself or someone else. B nominated me. People might think that was mean, for a husband to nominate their wife. What can I say besides, B knows me. This is right up my alley. If I had the money, I have a wish list of things I'd like to do to keep my youth. Judge if you will.

I won the contest.

Next came the consultation. I'd been sitting in the waiting room since I was early. I saw they do "Cool Sculpting". That was intriguing. I'd had liposuction on my hips, butt, and thighs, when I was twenty-seven. It was expensive. That's also "real" surgery. I'm forty-two now, by the way. It's time for some maintenance. Cool sculpting is where they freeze your fat. You can read about the actual terminology of what it does here: http://www.coolsculpting.com/. It's not surgery though. There's supposed to be no downtime. There's no anesthesia either. I guess you'd call it one of those lunchtime procedures.

They said they'd have to see if I was a candidate. I met with Gleisys Rodriguez, who does the Cool Sculpting. She is very sweet and very knowledgeable about the procedure. She researched it even before she became certified. She's also had it done on her so she knows how it feels, what makes the results better, etc. I was comfortable scheduling an appointment with her.

I'm only writing about this procedure right now, because that's all I have had done. I have others scheduled in the next few weeks like: DermaPen, Microdermabrasion, Ulthera, IPL. I will write about those after I have them done. I'm like FrankenMom for the next month or so.

Gleisys measured my fat with these plastic plates. That's how they determine how many treatments you'd need for an area. She said I needed six treatments. Not six as in needing to come back six times. Six as in, that is how many I need for a whole area. It's not like liposuction where when you get that done, it's just the whole stomach at once. Each part of the stomach is it's own section that needs treatment. I needed four on the front and two on the sides going toward the back. I drew a not-so-artistic diagram.
Crude diagram of where I was having Cool Sculpting done
Each part takes an hour. So just to do those six, which makes up my whole stomach and muffin top, takes six hours. I wanted to do it all in one shot. It sounds crazy, maybe, but I'm really good at doing nothing, and I just couldn't imagine doing it in parts. I don't really have time for that anyway. I just wanted to get it over with.

I got there and she did the before photos. I had to take them from eight different angles I think. Then I got on a bed with a comfortable pillow and blankets. They have a tv with Netflix you can watch during the treatments. I was set. B drove me and came in just to see what it was all about. And to see how painful or not it would be.

She first puts a freezing gel pad on the area. Then she connects this thing that looks like a vacuum to the area and it sucks in the fat. Depending on the area, that can be a bit painful. I actually only found it painful on three out of the six spots. The upper stomach because you almost feel like you can't breathe. Then the sides, where the muffin top sits. Gleisys said those parts hurt the least on her, so I think it really depends on the person.

She also said I had a very even distribution of fat- which is "unusual". Go me! Yay- perfect fat! Some people need two treatments on one side vs one treatment on the other because most people are apparently fat lopsided.

Then you sit. For an hour, with it sucking and freezing on your fat. I fell asleep during two of the stomach treatments. I had my laptop, iPad, iPhone, etc. During the last two hours, I re-watched some of the first season of Ally McBeal (the unisex!).

I'd say the worst part of the whole thing was when she'd pull the vacuum OFF. Something about it coming off just did not feel good. You're numb while it's on so you're not feeling anything But then it's off and you are. I can't even adequately describe what it feels like. I made the mistake of looking down, only once, and it was a visual I will never be able to unsee. I did not look again. Your skin looks like a frozen reddish purple stick of butter. It also doesn't even feel like it's on your body. Gleysis then massages the skin to get it to uncrystalize, if that's a word, and go soft like it was prior to treatment. That feels weird to, but it didn't hurt. It was a little more tender on the sides, during the massage part but I wouldn't say it "hurt".

I was totally fine after all four stomach treatments. However, I was not so fine after the sides. I fainted after each one. Now, I'm a fainter. Not often, but it's happened enough times where I knew it wasn't that big of a deal. I definitely didn't drink enough water during the day, and I didn't really eat either. I didn't ask what the deal was with food beforehand. I could've brought more stuff with me, but I just didn't. I had protein bar, a granola bar, a pint of blueberries, and a small bag of pretzels. I also had taken an antihistamine so I could've been a little dried out from that too.

It was weird fainting already laying down. One time, in 2004, I was sick, it was New Years Eve Day, and I was in the mall. I was trying to find an outfit for that night. I was achy from being sick and I thought it would be a good idea to get one of those chair massages at a kiosk in the mall. I was at laying on an angle on one of those chairs with the face-hole. It was just SO hot in there, and I knew I was about to faint. I'd fainted at Headliner over the summer (from HEAT, not drugs, as they thought), so I knew what it felt like. I figured it wouldn't be a big deal because I was already laying-ish. No, no. I fell right on to the floor, the people working the massage kiosk didn't speak English, got scared, just started throwing water on me and telling me to leave.

Anyway- I fainted on the bed table there, but I had another hour, so I just came to, and powered through for the last treatment. Once it gets in my head though, I knew it was going to happen again. Like when I fell asleep on the back of B's Harley. I don't know what happened, but I did, fall asleep. So then every time I got on there, I felt like I was going to fall asleep. I wasn't wrong this time either. After the other side was done, I was talking to Gleisys and I just said- "I'm going to faint again". She looked nervous, but I knew I'd be fine. I just closed my eyes, tried to breathe, and then I was out. I came to in a few seconds probably, and I was fine.

I do NOT think anyone else would faint unless you're prone to fainting. I often don't drink enough water so I think I'm more dehydrated than most. I think if you are hydrated enough, you'd be fine. Or if you broke up the treatments. I was just cocky about doing them all at once too, without really knowing what it would be like. 

The aftermath:

B just reminded me- it's E's birthday today. He said that it's almost eight years to the day that I felt this way. Birth. Cool Sculpting is like giving birth. Maybe not fully like birth, because giving birth once made that one time enough. I'd have these treatments again before I'd ever give birth again.

When I left the center, I didn't really want to look at my stomach. I got a glimpse and it didn't look pretty. It's like when you have a baby, and your stomach is still like jelly. It's swollen. You're supposed to wear a compression garmet after for the best results. That, they didn't tell me until I was undergoing the treatment. I wish she would've said that prior.

I have a drawer full of Spanx. I opened a new package I must have gotten at Loehmann's when they were still here. I came home, took a shower, and put the Spanx on.

I'm sore. Like with birth. Going to the bathroom is difficult because I can't get the Spanx down without pain. It's sore to the touch. Mostly around the top stomach area. The sides aren't as sore as the top.

I ordered a belly band/waist trainer type thing from Amazon for like ten dollars. I wasn't buying an expensive one because this isn't liposuction so I don't feel I needed something medical grade. I don't "have" to wear it. It just helps. If I went through all this, I'm going to do whatever I have to do to get the best results. It will be easier to go to the bathroom after I get that because it's only the belly area. The Spanx are thigh ones too so it's a whole scene trying to get them down. With just a waist trainer, I could use the bathroom without taking it off at all. Amazon $10 Waist Trainer

All in all, I have a feeling it's going to give me good results. Gleisys said I have the right kind of fat. I didn't have a hanging belly- it was more just sticking out. Like a pooch. I feel like someone with more fat would have to go through the six treatments a second time. Maybe I won't get optimal results because I'm only doing it the once, but I have a pretty low tolerance for pain. If it was free, I don't think I'd decline. But to pay to do it again, I don't know. I doubt I'd ever have that kind of F-U money anyway, so it's a moot point.

It cost around $750 per treatment, so for me, it would've been $4500 to do what I did. Cool Sculpting can be done on many different areas- stomach, thighs, arms, chin, etc. If I was to do it again, instead of doing the same spots over, I might try doing thighs. I feel like that would hurt less? Maybe? Right now I'm walking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I sometimes walk like that anyway, because of lower back problems, but this is because it hurts to stand straight.

The pain isn't unbearable though. I slept somewhat decently, but I'm also not a good sleeper in general. E also yelled out last night because he lost a tooth in his sleep. That didn't help my sleeping be restful. I went to work today. I've been able to help customers. I've just been moving slower. I'm supposed to walk tonight with Megan. I don't think I want to do our full walk, but I can definitely do a shorter one.

Gleisys told me I want the inflammation so I shouldn't take ibuprofen. Normally for this kind of pain, I'd take that. But I want the best result, so I'm just taking the soreness with no meds.

I think it was a fine experience. Only time will tell now if it worked. You see the best results in three months. You'll have to wait for the after pictures. But I will try to take pics in a month to show progress.

Here are my really attractive "before" photos:

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 also 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. There were people marching for all kinds of issues- immigration, refugees, marriage equality, autonomy over our bodies, climate, science, education- some or all of which affects everyone. 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. 

Not to mention, we aren't just marching. We're going to congressman and senators offices. We're emailing, calling, and writing letters. We're actually DOING stuff. 

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.  

Anyone still supporting him- no, sorry. Can't work with you. The only reason you can give at this point is that you're racist. Or just monumentally stubborn. The wall? The WALL? How is he getting Mexico to pay for this wall?? Yeah, he's not. Refugees? Well, if you think fertilized eggs are people but refugee kids aren't, you can't use religion as you're shield. You're racist. That's the only logical answer. You think "alternative facts" and focusing on crowd size are where his focus should be as the leader of the free world. You don't. I know you don't. You're just stubborn. You can't admit you made a really poor choice. 

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- https://www.facebook.com/GLSENNNJ/. This is the main page of the whole organization- http://www.glsen.org/

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.