Posted in A Day In the Life, Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

The Year of Convictions

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I like the “new” in front of New Year. Other than that, there’s not really anything that I celebrate. New Year’s eve is my least favorite night of the year to be out and about. People are drinking and they are driving. Restaurants over charge for big meals and staying up until midnight to yell “Happy New Year,” holds absolutely no appeal. So, like most New Year’s, I was in bed and asleep by ten.

There are no New Year resolutions for me, because every time I make a resolution, I break it. Gym memberships and diets are the worst kinds of resolutions, followed by eschewing all negative thoughts and not cursing. I exercise enough. I eat well enough and I keep my curse words close at hand and don’t judge myself for it.

But this year, I want stuff. I want certain things to happen and I know that the old phrase: become the change you wish to see, applies. If I have made one resolution, it is this: to stand in the light of my truth.

I stand in the light of my truth. I am not afraid to identify bad behavior and rhetoric when I see it. If it looks like racism, misogyny and bigotry, then I will call it what it is. I will not support any leader or any human being that defiles another with slurs and policy. I advocate for a world of inclusiveness and civility. I hold these things as personal values and I intend to nurture my character by practicing them.

I stand in the light of my truth. I will not accept the white washing of divisive language by dressing it up and calling it “strong” language, locker room talk, or bar talk. As a writer, I know that words matter and they have power.

I stand in the light of my truth. I fully reject anyone who participates in racist, bigoted behavior or anyone who bears witness to racist, bigoted behavior by stating that they “do not recall.” Experience and age have taught me that we all know when we or someone else is behaving badly, and we do recall.

I stand in the light of my truth. You who bear witness and do nothing; you who participate in the slander of groups based on skin color, religion or sexual orientation; you who try to lie to yourself and to me by telling me that these things don’t matter, but making America great again does matter. I will not be swayed by your weak argument and I will let myself feel disgust and heartbreak so that I fight against you with my vote and my advocacy.

I stand in the light of my truth. I won’t be cowed. I will not waiver. I am not interested in supporting dysfunctional politics. I am interested in doing what I know in my heart is right. And I know the disparagement of targeted groups for the reasons I have stated is wrong. I am going to fight for what is right.

2018 – look out! This is the action that I take: I will not stick my head in the sand and ignore what is going on. And I am not alone. There are many of us. And we stand in the light of our truth, and the power of our convictions.

Happy New Year.

Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

Nine Things I Want My Nieces and Great Nieces To Know

Girls & Grandma Walking Through Woods

There are certain things that I want to tell my nieces and my grand nieces before I get too old. Maybe they already know. They are all a lot smarter than I will ever be. But along with the title of “crazy old auntie” has come some wisdom. Okay dear nieces one and all, here is my list. Take note:

1.Life is too short to hate your thighs. No one ever got smarter or kinder because of the size of their thighs. Please try to remember that you are a human being and not a chicken part.

2. Life is not airbrushed. For only twenty seconds when you are 19 years old will you have perfectly flawless skin and great hair. This is just before you start to age by advertising standards. Screw advertising standards! The lines in your face and on and on your hands will tell you more about character and substance than un-lined skin or silky hair. And trust me, only women in shampoo commercials have hair that silky. The rest of us either have mouse fur or horse manes that no amount of the right shampoo can change. But I digress, so I’ll repeat: Life is not airbrushed. It’s not supposed to be. It’s full of flaws, imperfections and messiness. If your life doesn’t contain these three elements, then you are not really living.

3. Life is not nearly as fun, polite or smiling as what’s posted on Facebook. Facebook is not reality. Well it’s as real as Life With the Kardashian’s, I guess. But no one smiles that way with their husband, their partner, their boss or their friends all the time. In reality people sneer, stare, space out and chew with their mouths open. Be real. Be vulnerable. Be authentic and be yourself . . .and don’t waste too much time with Facebook.

4. Your weight is not a gage of your worth and neither is your bank account. You are lovable, precious, beautiful women and it’s the content of your heart that matters. Assess yourself and others by that single factor–the content of heart–and you can never go wrong.

5. Don’t be afraid to speak up and put yourself first sometimes. You don’t always have to take the smallest portion or sit in the aisle seat instead of next to the window. Claim the drumstick at Thanksgiving. Don’t always tell people “it’s okay,” when they hurt your feelings. Take the time for self-care. Believe me, your family will not starve or whither away because you took the time to nurture your own self. You don’t always have to come last.

6. Promise me that you will never stop reading. Fill your head and your heart with adventures and history, with fantasy and tales. Learn something new every day. It will keep you young.

7. Don’t freak out about getting old. It doesn’t have to be life’s buzz-kill. Instead make sure you eat well–yes, that means vegetables–and get outside and exercise every day. This is what really makes a difference when you push past the half-century mark.

8. Say “thank you.” You are a woman in a country at a time where women’s rights continue to expand. Never take that for granted. Make sure that you always advocate for women’s empowerment and commit to helping other women, and not judging them.

9. Practice gratitude every day. Life’s shorter than you think it is. Love your life. Love your world. Show that you know this by dancing, singing and laughing.

May your life be rich with love and goodwill and may you never forget your crazy old auntie. I keep you close in my heart.

Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

It Was The Cardinals That Got Me Going

iStock_000013167147XSmallWhat do Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, Catholic cardinals and Fifty Shades of Grey have in common? They all seek to define women in ways that lack equality, balance or common sense. Other people, mostly men, have been telling women who they are ever since the apple incident in the garden. What men seem to forget is that there were two sets of teeth prints on the apple, and that should have made us equals right out of the gate. But we have come a long way, baby. Unfortunately as with all fights for equality, extremism rides on the fringes of a movement, a fact that especially now, we would be wise to remember.

This year a group of Catholic cardinals will meet to discuss women. There will be no women present for the discussion, though a report about who we are and who we should become will be made available after the meeting. And, in the spirit of liking girls too, the Cardinals have created a little contest whereby you can make a one to two-minute video of what you think to be an important women’s issue and send it in to the Vatican for review. I kid you not!

If you know Christian history, you can attribute the exclusion of women in the all male hierarchy of the Catholic Church to Thomas Aquinas, whose document Suma Theologica is the basis for a catechism that teaches women are temptresses and seductresses. Therefore they should never be allowed to preach the word of God or hold any leadership roles. The translation of that holy diatribe indicates that women are sexually insatiable, asking for it all of the time, sucking every good man she meets into her vortex along the way, and well, they just shouldn’t be allowed to join the club, lest they create disaster in the form of a world-wide sexual implosion.

It’s not just the Catholic Church that keeps women, second-class citizens, it’s that the military model upon which this big church was built, is still evidenced in corporate hierarchy and structure. Business as usual is also a boys club, but with an occasional “some girls allowed” mentality. Though a woman doing the same work as a man is worth only .73 cents to his dollar.

Some have argued that Miley Cyrus makes a feminist statement with her unabashed sexuality. I don’t particularly like her. I think she’s gross and while I support her right to express herself as she sees fit, to me there is nothing about her that demonstrates competence beyond self-promotion. That makes her less of a heroine and more a part of the problem. Yet like Miley, I believe my body is my own. I don’t want a government in my uterus and I don’t want to explain myself for how I choose to dress.

That brings me full circle to that meeting of cardinals. It’s not news, really. Only a short time ago, Congressman, Darrell Issa paraded a group of all male religious leaders before congress to discuss women’s birth control with nary a woman in sight. The fight for equality takes a long time and it is going to be tinged with extremism on both the front lines and on the opposition’s push back. Women wanting to be seen as strong, confident, smart leaders have difficulty getting out the message when Miley Cyrus is over in the corner humping a wrecking ball with her tongue hanging out, all the while postulating our empowerment through slut-dome. Push back to that example is the congressman from Montana who wants to ban yoga pants in his state because they are too suggestive. Suggestive of what? Oh yeah that “we are so insatiable” theme. To my first point; extremism rides on the fringes of a movement and if we are honest, we have to admit that we are all trying to find the line and the crossover.

Between prude and slut is the line of my comfort zone. For instance, I won’t go see Fifty Shades of Gray because it’s about a rich white guy who thinks it’s sexy to tie up women, employ enough force to result in bruising and once again underscore the myth that we need to be oppressed because of our imagined sexual insatiability. I fear the truth about Fifty Shades is that it normalizes violence against women by dressing it up and calling it erotica. I refuse to be a sheep and go “Oh wow, what a cultural milestone.” The film is a microcosm of the macrocosm: Rich white man, proliferating the subjugation of someone for personal use or pleasure. I won’t buy into marketing that tells me I’ve missed the point and that Fifty Shades of Gray is about something else. It’s not. A hundred bucks says that both Cyrus and Kardashian will tweet what an “amazing” film it is, and of course will taint the word “amazing” for me forever.

While women have made great strides in the past hundred years, we have a long way to go. Genital mutilation, honor killings, sexual exploitations and a gender biased worker compensation that keeps women poor, continues around the globe. Women in the United States rank only 27th in the world when it comes to health and well-being.

Kim Kardashian has a right to stick her naked butt into the camera and call it art if she wants to, but I don’t think she helps the cause of moving women forward. I guess I stand somewhere between the right to wear yoga pants and Kim’s right to be an ass.

I could be wrong, but most of the women I know think as I do about this: Kim’s ass pointed at the camera, Miley’s permanent tongue hanging out to the world and the cardinals video contest for women are not symbols of liberation anymore than Fifty Shades of Grey is a symbol of erotica. These are symbols of stupidity, a far swing in one extreme direction while we continue to search for and create an authentic equality based on intelligence, competence and kindness. Until women gain that stature, we will continue to be a world out of balance.

Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

While Rome Burns–A Morning, Political, Couldn’t Help Myself RANT!

iStock_000014572082XSmallIt’s not government that I have a problem with—it’s the lack of leadership that is so damaging and disconcerting. Here we are, having barely survived a housing crisis that still has not corrected itself, while the villains who recklessly abused our economy and created untold suffering remain the fat cats of Wall Street. Criminality within the financial sector is a revered way of life these days, and the fiddler on the hill watching this Romanesque burning of our nation is the governmental leadership that has turned its back on ordinary and extraordinary Americans so that they may drink champagne with those same fat cats at the party.

This week the house decided on an abortion bill that will do nothing to create jobs, protect the economy, reduce student debt or give a morsel to the poor, but it is a masterfully manipulative pandering of what the GOP still considers to be its base. This bill, is doomed to fail in the Senate which means that the whole thing was all for posturing and has nothing to do with addressing the real issues strangling the country.

I don’t write too much political stuff anymore. It’s too upsetting and the story has been told so many times that I have become almost numb to it. But this morning, once again I read (oh I must stop reading morning news) about two GOP men, of course, who are using my tax dollars, to push forward an abortion bill that has more to do with stripping women of any legal, private, personal healthcare choices that it does anything else.

First there is Michael Burgess, who not surprisingly is a Republican from Texas. He opposes a women’s legal right to choose to abort a pregnancy beyond 15 weeks because he, as a former OB/GYN, has witnessed male fetuses masturbating in the womb! That’s right.  That’s his argument…you cannot makes this stuff up, even though he has.  He postulates that if a male fetus can feel pleasure, than surely it feels pain, a new but totally unproven GOP theory. Makes me wonder about the female fetuses that the GOP would condemn were they to be found with their little hands between their legs. Really!? And you’re a doctor?! The GOP has done everything in its power to paint women as stupid, irresponsible, sluts, whores and idiots when it comes to personal choice, but hey a boy fetus that masturbates—well, boys will be boys and it seems to have provided scientific ground for Mr. Burgess. Meanwhile, Rome burns.

Secondly and unfortunately not last, is Trent Franks also a Republican this time from Arizona, who voiced the “rape” exception quietly added to the bill last week, by stating that “very few pregnancies result from rape.” An author of the bill that will now go to the Senate where it will fail, Mr. Franks backed off of his remarks via spokes-people who tried to make the arrogant standard-bearer for women’s health issues look remotely human.

Do we need to examine our views about aborting pregnancies to a greater and deeper degree? Yes, we do. We also need better sex education for young women that will include learning about birth control, responsibility and choice, so that more abortions are prevented. That of course means, that factions of the GOP who oppose birth control are going to have to get over it and come to terms with the fact that we are all sexual beings! Similarly, we need for women to know that if they are raped, they have more than one choice. But if one more man who has never owned a vagina tells me what the psychological/spiritual makeup of the physiological condition of pregnancy or rape is; and then tells me that he knows better than me and my doctor, I most likely will hunt him down and beat him with a speculum until he shuts up!

These are the bills that our so-called leadership is working on and it will not result in the prosecution of Wall Street criminals. This type of bill will not create jobs or bolster a sagging economy; they will not heal the housing industry or help the poor. These bills, in my view, will only serve to underscore a false theology crammed down our throats by a GOP who fears sexuality in women and wants to control it! Chattel, anyone?

There it is, my morning political rant because I just couldn’t help myself and I had to get my ire out onto the page. I vote and I pray that my vote still counts. That and being vocal about the outrageous abuse of what governance is supposed to be, is about all that I can do. Yes, it is not government that I have a problem with—it truly is the staggering lack of leadership coupled with a stunning ignorance and arrogance that seems to have taken over at least half of the House and Senate and continues to fiddle while we burn.  And you thought you would be reading about baby robins and walks with the dog this morning?