What I’ve Been Reading

Independent:

Hillary Clinton is on course to receive more votes than any other US presidential candidate in history except Barack Obama – despite losing Tuesday’s election to Donald Trump.

The New York Times:

Bernie Sanders: Where the Democrats Go From Here

The Atlantic:

Clinton’s Popular-Vote Lead Will Grow, and Grow, and Grow

The Guardian:

My beef over Hillary Clinton’s loss is with liberal feminists, young and old

USA Today:

People are crying: It’s not because they lost a race

The Hill:

KKK to hold parade in North Carolina celebrating Trump victory

 

MSN:

Mike Pence might worry me the most: (although, we’re not sure who Trump may appoint yet, but if he’s seriously considering Bannon, I feel like throwing up.)  “We’ll see Roe vs. Wade consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs.”

“While we’re choosing a president for the next four years, this next president will make decisions that will impact our Supreme Court for the next 40,” he said. “… Go tell your neighbors and your friends, for the sake of the rule of law, for the sake of sanctity of life, for the sake of our Second Amendment, for the sake of all our other God-given liberties, we must insure the next president appointing justices to the Supreme Court is Donald Trump.”

The Washington Post: 

Moscow had contacts with Trump team during campaign, Russian diplomat says

The New York Times:

2016 Election Thank You Notes

6. All our media friends. Thank you for preserving reportorial balance. You balanced Donald Trump’s proposal that the military execute the innocent families of terrorists, against Hillary’s emails. You balanced pot-stirring racist lies about President Obama’s birth, against Hillary’s emails. You balanced a religious test at our borders, torture by our military, jokes about assassination, unfounded claims of a rigged election, boasts about groping and paradoxical threats to sue anyone who confirmed the boasts, against Hillary’s emails. You balanced endorsement of nuclear proliferation, against Hillary’s emails. You balanced tirelessly, indefatigably; you balanced, you balanced, and then you balanced some more. And for that — we thank you. And thank you all for following Les Moonves’s principled lead when he said Donald Trump “may not be good for America, but he’s damn good for CBS.”

Ready to Run NJ:

Campaign training for women.

Oh, and last but not least: This. Because I am a lover of science fiction and at times, I like to escape this world and move into another one, even if it’s in outer space and the end of life on earth is the catalyst.

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Please note: I am going to be posting more political stuff here. I hope people don’t mind. I’ll continue to write personal shit here as well, but I can’t deny that this election is on my mind. I am worried. I’m hopeful and inspired but I am also very worried. I’d take it to Facebook, but Facebook has become intolerable lately and some people seem to be at war with one another. I can’t go there anymore. It’s an echo chamber; no one is listening to anyone anymore. You know that scene from the movie Poltergeist where they open the door and all the toys and furniture are floating around the room in a state of chaos? That’s sort of how Facebook looks to me right now. So I’m going to stop opening the door for a while. 

Third Party Voters and the Protest Vote

I keep coming here to write and then I stop because I can’t seem to formulate much of a coherent thought. But I do wish to point something out.

Over the last several months, many people have been begging third party voters to do the right thing. Get over your protest vote and do the right thing. Hold your nose and do the right thing. Exercise your protest vote when we’re not facing a Trump presidency. And there was hope. The early Latino vote came in super strong in many states and there was even more hope.

But then on November 8th, as the votes began to trickle in and we all watched in shock as Trump won basically every single battleground state, hope fell away. In some instances, and within certain states, the candidates were really close in numbers, some of the differences could have been made up by the votes cast for Jill Stein.

I wrote this back in July:

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Here’s the deal: I understand not liking either candidate. I understand wanting to change the system. But if you’re a POC; if you’re a Muslim; if you’re LGBTQ; if you’re a woman; if you’re disabled; if you’re Mexican; if you’re an immigrant—just to name a few—you didn’t have the luxury or privilege of sitting this one out or casting a protest vote by not showing up because their candidate of choice didn’t make it. (I love Bernie, too, by the way.)

Look at Michigan, which is currently the only state not fully in yet.

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Look at how close they are. And then look at how many people voted for Stein. Some folks don’t have this privilege and are terrified. If you’re a white person, specifically a white male, you are probably rolling your eyes upon seeing the word “terrified”. But it’s the truth. So many of our fellow Americans are terrified. In fact, if there were a word more terrifying than terrified, I’d use that.

Scared shitless? Worried for their lives? Worried about their families? Terrified.

I’m so mad. I can’t believe this man has become our nation’s leader. A man who has offended basically every single living American other than the white man. I won’t go as far as to say that he’s not my president, because he sure as shit is. And, again, it comes from a place of privilege to be able to say such a thing—I can weather out a Trump presidency. Instead, I’m going to fight back. I’m going to spend the next two years working my ass off to make the tide of fear and intolerance change.

Toby and I are hosting a meeting at our home this evening with kids and families from all around town. I am hoping we can make a small change together and maybe turn the red tide a touch more purple before my kids can vote. This is not someone they can look up to. Fear got him into this position. Fear got him elected.

Fear is a terrible thing.

I think it’s time to make our nation great, not great again. Let’s make it great for the first time. Because we aren’t there yet and I love this country.

Half A World and One Street Away

We’ve lived on our new street for just over two months. When I go outside and stand on our driveway, I can see our old house. It’s blue and it peaks out at me through the trees. We didn’t move far from our old street, the street I never called home.

This morning we held a kindergarten playdate at a local park. A friend from the old street and I are the class captains. We have met up a few times since I moved away. I keep in touch with her. I like her.

We were catching up and and she mentioned having seen a concert last night. She said she had a good time. Then she got a little quiet. I could tell she wanted to say something but wasn’t sure how or if she should. I let the silence be, knowing if she wanted to talk, it’d be better if I gave her time. And then she continued. She said she saw her next-door neighbor there, one of the “popular girls” and that the popular girl had invited everyone from the street—all the women from the old street—all but her.

Tears welled up in her eyes. I gave her a hug.

It pains me that I just wrote the term “popular girls” and I’m 42-years-old. We don’t really grow up too much, do we? We just collect longer to-do lists, maybe some kids, heavier baggage, deeper wrinkles and thicker fat rolls. (Ok, well, maybe that’s just me.) But it pains me that she felt compelled to weep over something so seemingly trivial especially given all the crazy shit taking place in the world today. It pains me I hugged her almost as if someone had passed away. It pains me that grown women care about this sort of thing, but we do sometimes. I do sometimes.

I tell my kids over and and over again, “Don’t let them bother you! Things will work out. Don’t try and fit in too much, just be yourself. You’ll find your people.”

I don’t even heed my own advice. Because it bothers me.

I wasn’t very happy when we first moved to New Jersey.  And I look back on that time and I’m not sure if it was because I missed the city so much; or if it’s because I wasn’t yet being treated for my depression; or if it was simply due to the street we moved to. But I was so very unhappy.

In truth: I hated living on that street. Every day I felt like I was living within the confines of a middle school cafeteria. Every day I was reminded that I was an outsider. I would watch gatherings happen all around me. I’d see the “popular girls” gather on porches to sip wine. There would be BBQs and play dates; running groups; block parties; Stella and Dot parties; halloween parties; New Years Eve parties. And later I’d see their Facebook pictures, another outing I wasn’t invited to. Smiling faces. Another concert, movie, live show, cocktail hour, camping trip.

Blah.

I feel badly for my friend. And I bellied up and told her about my history on that street, and that I completely understood and that I was there for her and to not be too upset with herself that it bothered her so much.

We don’t really change. We just gather more baggage.

Just last week Facebook reminded me of something I’d posted two years ago, right when I was in the thick of it all on that street, miserable and lonely.

“Kids, sometimes when they tell you it gets better, what they really mean to say is you stop giving a fuck.”

How little I meant that at the time. How much I wanted to mean it. But how much I mean it now.

One street. We moved one street away. I can still see our old house from our new driveway, but one street over is all it took to stop giving a fuck.

Hearing my friend voice her frustration and pain, the pain that comes from realizing everyone around you doesn’t really care if you exist at all; or they care that you exist because it feels good to leave someone out? I don’t know. Either way, I realized just how much I’ve changed, and how good that feels. I know I have much more changing to do, but I’m going to be OK. And that feels so good to write: I am gong to be OK.

I sit in my kitchen right now, cup of tea in hand, looking out at my new backyard. I see all the light and crispness that comes with fall, like the sharpen filter, a new lens. The leaves are changing and soon the snow will fall and that’s OK with me. I have a shed full of wood and new neighbors who have a new set of priorities. I will continue to have people over and we will sip hot tea or cocoa and I will do my very best to not leave anyone out. I will cherish the people who are good to me—the people I admire and love; the people who would welcome me at their table.

“It’s good to be young, but let’s not kid ourselves/ It’s better to pass on through those years and come out the other side/ With our hearts still beating/ Having stared down demons/ Come back breathing”

And so, if you ever feel left out, even at the ripe old age of 42, it’s not weak or pathetic and you shouldn’t hate yourself for feeling badly. You’re not alone although it may feel that way sometimes especially when they’re standing in a circle at the bus stop chatting about their upcoming weekend plans, as you kick the ground and hope the bus isn’t late again. Those times you feel like a dodo in a popular henhouse, remember that it’s still just a henhouse.

And dodos are fucking awesome.

Cancer and My Face.

This past spring I was told I have more of “the good kind of cancer” on my face. Which means I will have to have it removed (again). There are options, so that’s good. But it’s my face and this pisses me right off. I still have a scar from where they removed the cancer on my upper lip. And they used Mohs for that, which is supposed cause less scarring. But it scarred. And it’s become more visible as I’ve aged; I mean, I knew that would happen, but it still sucks. I’m as vain as the next guy.

The options given to me this time were to use a cream for two weeks, three times per day; OR I could go in and sit under some blue light for three hours at their office. They both are relatively similar procedures. It all depends on “your lifestyle and whether you want to sit in a medical office for three hours” with nothing to do but zone out to silence or listen to a podcast?

Are you kidding me? Three blissful hours without any screaming children? Three hours of silence? I know! SOUNDS AWESOME.

Just kidding. I love my kids most of the time.

But, honestly, I still wasn’t sure what to do. It is my face after all. So I called my doctor and went over the differences. We discussed the redness associated with both, the swelling. She went over the recovery time. They are very similar.

“Basically, do you want it over with in one day? Or can you do it for two weeks?”

“I guess I can do the cream? I don’t know…”

“Oh, I will add that sometimes the light has an added bonus of smoothing out wrinkles.”

“…”

Three quiet hours WITH a podcast and when it’s over I might look a touch younger AND be cancer free?

Show me the light!

I can’t do it until after halloween because I plan on painting my face and getting totally decked out for the first grownup halloween party I’ll have been to in over 8 years, but I will post before and after shots and I may even live-tweet those blissful three hours.

Ok, not really.

Aaron

I found out one of my childhood friends passed away unexpectedly last week. I am flying to Raleigh today to attend his memorial service.

His name was Aaron. He was the first person to talk to me when we moved to Raleigh when I was 10. He was kind, hilarious.

My heart breaks for his family. He has kids, a wife. He was loved.

He’s the boy in the hat.

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I will write more a bit later. My head is a touch fuzzy this morning, still filled with under-processed dreams.

Tuesdays With Murray: I’m So Happy He’s Home

Corie stopped by on Sunday and took these pictures of Murray and me. I am so grateful he came home. We still don’t know what he did for 5 days alone out there because he hasn’t wanted to talk about it, but he survived, came home a touch thinner and he doesn’t seem to want to return to the wild outdoors.

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There Are Ghosts

Today is 9/11 and there are ghosts. But a lot of us have ghosts. So I’m not alone with mine. I know this.

There are a lot of things that remain unsettled when it comes to 9/11 at least for me and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone with that either. I know about the unsettled moments because trickle in at my most vulnerable times; times where I least expect it; times where my guard is down.

Like getting hit from behind; a sudden, blinding reflection from the windshield of a passing car; a dying baby squirrel, its screeching mother and a bird of prey.

On most days, I cast out lines and those lines come back to me with some sort of punctuation. At the end of each day I look at all those lines and I have some type of map, something that makes sense—an outline. Sometimes there’s something new at the end of a line. Sometimes, I let a line go. But when it comes to the lines I casted out on 9/11/01, they simply snapped. They were too taut or something, too much of my mind to handle at the time and they just snapped.

So there are ghosts. There will always be ghosts.

Last year, I spent 9/11 driving a dying baby squirrel to a vet in Madison, New Jersey, the only vet within the 20 mile radius who would accept a “wild animal” of 2 weeks old. He had fallen from his nest. His mother stood above screeching, a sound I will never ever get out of my head. Pure distress. So I scooped up his little body and drove him to the only vet willing to show this tiny creature some compassion. And we sat there together and watched him take his final breath.

When I returned home, the mother was silent but a hawk circled the nest above. And I sat in the grass and sobbed.

This year, Toby Joe Boudreaux and I are going to see DC United play the New York Red Bulls and this seems kind of OK somehow. It seems perfectly fitting to combine these two cities on this day in this manner. You see, it’s selfish, but that morning all those years ago, I had one brother working downtown right where the planes hit and another brother working in DC married to a woman who worked at the Pentagon. And I kept calling and calling and calling hoping to hear that they were OK, that everyone I knew from DC was OK. And I got though to one brother and I talked him into leaving the area where the planes hit and heading 10 blocks north to me instead of staying put, which is what the police wanted him to do—to stay put. I talked him into leaving and then the buildings began to fall and I watched them fall with my own two eyes from SoHo and was pretty sure he was dead. And I couldn’t get him on a line.

He was OK. He showed up dusted in soot, dust, and minute particles of human remains.

Everyone I knew was OK that day, well, physically at least. But I have friends who lost relatives and loved ones and I don’t have the right words to write here to them. I never have had the right words which is why I usually don’t write any. So I’ll just say today that I am so sorry.

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This year, I am going to surround myself by other people—mostly strangers—who are also surrounded by ghosts. And maybe we can cast out some new lines and find some punctuation.

And I hope to experience some joy.

And I hope that nothing falls from the sky.

And I hope you’re OK with your ghosts, too.

My Cakes!

Hello! Sorry it’s been a while. We went to Disney for a week. It was a spontaneous trip since we had to cancel our annual Rhode Island getaway due to Toby and his work situation.

And then I had cakes to create!

They can be seen here.

 

I have a lot to talk about, a lot to write about. So much has changed in the last couple of weeks. I can’t wait to sit down and actually write about it.

Anyway, thanks for reading! I’ll be back to write more especially now that school has begun.

The Diva

Olympic swimmer Fu Yuanhui exploded into the mainstream media recently and became an international sensation not because she’s a kick ass swimmer, but because she mentioned having her period on live television, apparently shattering a barrier into a world where women menstruate.

In China, menstruation is still very much a taboo. Women often won’t use tampons because it is said to rob them of their virginity. It’s simply not discussed. To many, having one’s period is seen as unlucky.

We’re no better in the states. Menstruation and shame go together. When I was a preteen, I was mortified by the idea, anxious about the day it would come. And the first time I tried to insert a tampon in order to go swimming, I didn’t put it in far enough and spent the day with too much of it sticking out. How uncomfortable that was. I was too embarrassed to ask someone for help. (Granted, this was the 80s and I do hope that things have changed somewhat.)

I had terrible periods when I was a teenager. I suffered from migraines and menstruation was so painful, I would often pass out. One time, I barely made it into the office at school before falling to the floor. I don’t remember how I made it onto the small cot at the nurse’s station, someone must have carried me. But by the time I came to, the principal and the nurse had already called my mom and were having a hushed discussion about the drugs I might be on. I was so out of it, so tired, and so embarrassed by the truth, I didn’t try and explain that I wasn’t high; I simply had my period.

(My mom set them straight.)

I once asked two, male running coaches on a live Facebook chat about what professional female runners do when it comes to menstruation and long races. My question was liked dozens and dozens of times by women. The coaches responded with, “Well, female elite runners have such little body fat, most of them don’t menstruate.”

Oh. Um. Thanks?

But that was my fault. What I really wanted to know was what every female runner might do to help ease the discomfort of having one’s period on the morning of a big race. Because most of us have body fat and therefore menstruate. So, I didn’t ask the right question.

Every single woman menstruates at some point. It’s the most boring thing ever. So why is it so taboo?

I have known men who wouldn’t go near me when I was “on the rag”. And I can’t imagine I’m alone in that regard. I’ve met women who won’t use a tampon that doesn’t have an applicator because she’s afraid of getting blood on her hands or “fingering herself”. (Which is simply hilarious.) And how many of us have heard the saying: “I don’t trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn’t die.” Yeah. Yeah. Shuddup.

So not cool. But given how often we judge and shame women for breastfeeding in public, none of this should surprise me. I can’t tell you the number of times I have read the following comment left by a man on an article about breastfeeding in public:

“Shitting is natural too, but you don’t see me doing that in public.”

But somehow I’m still surprised. I’m surprised something so biologically normal, something mammals have done since the dawn of time, something that exists so we can, is still considered so taboo.

The many double standards between men and women are so plentiful and so engrained in our daily lives, we don’t even notice how unbalanced it is most of the time. (Well, I don’t.) And then an olympic swimmer mentions having her period, and everyone goes nuts, and I’m left scratching my head, wondering how it is we are still all the way back here and not much, much further along.

Someone writes on social media about getting her period for the THIRD time on the morning of a half marathon and it’s met with an uncomfortable silence. (OK, that was me.) Maybe it’s what they refer to as TMI, but it seems strange to me that something so much of the world’s population deals with every single day can be considered Too Much Information. If I posted about pulling a muscle the morning of a big race, no one would care. If I woke up with a stomach ache, people wouldn’t think twice. But you mention menstruation and ew.

And it’s not about the blood. Noses bleed during sporting events, no one bats and eye. Nipples bleed due to chafing. Who cares? And if you forget the vaseline, chafing can happen between your thighs, sometimes runners even bleed, no biggie.

It’s not about the blood. It’s about the dreaded vagina.

Get over it. Get over the vagina. Get over all of it. Teach your kids using an open dialogue. Overcome all the shame. Fu Yuanhui should be hailed a hero for her swimming, not the fact that she admitted to bleeding every month. I mean, I am proud of her for doing so, and I think it’s awesome so many young women in China are cheering her on for her outspokenness. But we should be so much further along than this.

In truth, I sat down this morning with a cup of coffee wishing to write a post about The Diva Cup. It was going to be about how awesome it is. My friend Corie (who I adore and respect and will basically do whatever she tells me to do) made the final push. Prior this, women all over the Internet have written, “OMG! THE DIVA CUP! GET IT!” But I was always too afraid to make the leap. Until Corie told me to. And so. I did it. This is the first month I have used one and I feel like writing a broadway musical about it. It’s absolutely wonderful. I want to go back in time to when I was 13 and in that swimming pool. I want THIS wonderful invention.

I love it so much, I’m bummed I’m facing menopause and won’t need it for too much longer. THAT’s how awesome it is.

Go buy The Diva Cup*. And if you have any questions or you want to discuss just how awesome it is in the comments, I’m your gal. NOTHING is off limits.

I’ll go first: isn’t it awesome that with The Diva Cup you no longer have to pin the string between your asscheek and the toilet seat when you pee?

(P.S. This post is the blog equivalent to Pin The Tail On The Donkey. It’s as if I was blindfolded, spun around, and then told to find the point. Forgive me.)

*NO this is not a paid post. I don’t do that shit.