Keep Your Pulpit Out of my Bedroom.

It’s long, because I’m pissed.

Schedules have gone out the door.  Time means nothing. I think it’s Friday.  Nothing means anything, at least it hasn’t since three days ago when I checked my news feed after being in the sick-mom bubble all week.

Once, in an old blog, I talked about a proposed South Dakota law that would make it illegal to help someone get an abortion.  This was in February of 2011…11 years ago.

In May of 2019, I wrote about how tired I was that this was still an issue…4 years ago.  7 years between posts…seven years of the same old debate.

In September of last year, I wrote about my rage toward the Supreme Court and how they’re a bunch of asshats, and I’m standing by that observation today.

Listen…I was pro-choice before pro-choice was cool.

Picture me, a twelve-year-old Catholic schoolgirl who spends her weekends hanging with a Baptist youth group and you can pretty much figure out that I was anti-abortion…”pro-life,” as they liked to call it.  I had it coming at me from two religions, you see.  First, there was the day in 7th grade when our church got the big “Respect Life” sign installed on the front lawn, and we were taught that it meant we, as Catholics, supported life in all forms.  Which sounds great, but has caveats that they didn’t bother to explain to us.  I thought it meant you do everything you can to save a baby, and you don’t support the death penalty.  Again, perfectly great ideals, but asking a child to blindly follow something that they do not truly understand is not okay, in my opinion.  Then, there were the Baptists.  Now, I’d love to write a blog comparing the two religion’s influences in my youth because I’m sure it would be fascinating (to me at least) but for the sake of this blog, we’re just talking about abortion.

The Baptists provided more information, but it was mostly incorrect.  No, I was not invited to vigils and pickets and the March for Life-that was reserved for the high schoolers.  But I was taught that barbaric methods were used during abortions and that those who performed or received them were going straight to hell.  We were to pity those people, and pray for their souls.  I went off to my Catholic high school with this idea in my brain.

Then came October 23rd, 1998.  I was a sophomore, and Dr. Barnett Slepian of Amherst NY was murdered in his home while making soup.  He was an OB/GYN who provided abortions, and for this, a zealot shot him in the head.

This was the moment when “Respect Life” took on a whole new meaning for me.  Obviously, this man was not respecting life…I’m talking about the shooter, not the abortionist.  A true Christian, I surmised, would aid the supposed sinner, not play God and remove them.  My eyes opened then, as I realized neither my church nor my youth group seemed to take into consideration the lives that were already walking the earth.  So, I did as I do when confronted with a problem, and I researched.

Wow, was I lied to!  From both parties!

First of all, the barbaric practices the Baptists spoke of were practically nonexistent, and what did seem terrible only seemed that way if you look at the fetus as a whole human instead of a grouping of cells, which is what it is in the beginning.  Then the Catholics and their rhetoric just seemed ridiculous, because on one hand they were all “let us pray for the family of Dr. Slepian,” and on the other, “be sure to register for the Walk for Life!”  I was already seeing all kinds of Catholic hypocrisy, so this was really no surprise.

Anyway, long story short, I was anti-abortion at one time, because somebody lied to me.  A lot of somebodies lied to me, over and over again, so of course I believed them.  So, what am I saying?

I’m saying that if you’re still anti-abortion, I’m going to need you to ask yourself why.  If it’s a God thing, cool…you do you.  But that’s just it…you…do…YOU.  Not me, not her, not anybody else.  You don’t get to decide for me how I get to live my life.  No one does, in any way, ever, and that is the hill I will literally die upon.  Just like I can’t force you to get an abortion, you can’t force me not to.  I will not risk my health or sanity because you got a beef with your church.  Note I said church, not Creator, because that dude does not care, I assure you.  Jesus never said one word about abortion.  And my favorite little bit of Bible in this particular case?  “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7.  Ain’t no fetuses breathing, is all I’m saying.

But, Bible aside, (because it should be-we aren’t all Christians, and shouldn’t have to live by their dogma,) this is so not about babies at this point, and it’s so glaringly obvious, that I just don’t think I have the energy for the enemy anymore.  If you can’t see that this is a total attack on all women, you are not paying attention.  For instance, some states are proposing legislature that would persecute a woman who has an abortion for an ectopic pregnancy.  Those pregnancies are 100% not viable, and can kill the woman.  So, should I have one in one of these states, I would have to choose between letting myself die or going to prison because I had an health condition. 


So, this is just a note to say peace out to everyone I know who is supporting Alito’s document.  I am done with you.  You do not value my life, or the lives of the women I know, or the lives of the women you know.  If abortion isn’t for you, that’s fine…but you don’t get to speak for me, and if you think you do, you can just be on your merry way.  Unfollow, delete, block, do what you gotta do…but I’m not coming around on this one. 

Of course, 90% of the people I’m taking to right now are men.  All the ladies I know are outraged, while the dudes are just standing there with their hands in their pockets.  Look at your wife; look at your daughter.  Look at your mother.  Do you really believe a rich old white male politician knows more about her body than she does?  If you do…then you need to leave.  You don’t value her as a human being if you think she can’t handle herself. End of story.

We are not idiots, you see.  We are brilliant, and we are systematically held down because of our brilliance, in ways such as this.  What are you so afraid of, men?  Why is being in control so important to you?

Perhaps because you know that if the roles were switched as they are now…you wouldn’t like it.  You wouldn’t like making 72 cents on the dollar.  You wouldn’t like that 1 in 4 of your friends have been sexually assaulted and/or domestically abused.  You aren’t going to like us catcalling you on the street when you’re just trying to get through your day. You aren’t down with us making you get a vasectomy or taking birth control pills.  You have no desire to stand in our shoes, because you have made them incredibly uncomfortable, and you know it.

Oh, and don’t “well that’s a different generation” at me! I know 15-year-old boys who think they can control girls, so what the fuck makes me think they didn’t learn it from their parents?  Don’t tell me “well, if women don’t want to get pregnant they should keep their legs shut,” like you’d want to live in a world where no one is fucking you.  Don’t pull the old “well the body has ways of shutting down a nonlegitimate pregnancy,” you total goon!  Go read one of those science books their trying to ban.  I mean, MY GOD, a simple Google search, guys!

So, in conclusion, if you decide that you yourself do not want an abortion, that’s nice.  But you don’t get to speak for me, you don’t get to pity me, and you don’t get to try to change my mind, any more than I do for you.  There is one Christian tenet that I have carried with me throughout my long spiritual journey…do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  And for a bunch of folks claiming to be Christian, you sure aren’t following the main rule.  I would never force you to get an abortion.  You don’t get to force me or anyone else out of one.

Go Home, Byron

I’ve got a bee in my bonnet.

This morning I was scrolling though Twitter and one of the local news stations mentioned an upcoming Q&A with India Walton and Byron Brown.  Some background:

Brown is the current mayor of Buffalo, where I live.  He has been such for many years, and brought great progress to the area.  However, despite the fact he’s a democrat, he’s always been the career-politician sort, and that leaves a slight sour taste on my tongue.  Then I investigated a little and found a bunch of things he could definitely be doing better with, so when I heard Walton would be challenging him in the primary, I was pleased.  New blood, so to speak.  She won, and I thought “awesome!  Buffalos first woman mayor!  What a great stride for the party and city!”  But, no.

See, Brown threw a hissy-fit.  The man barely even campaigned before the primary, and he was SHOCKED to have lost.  But instead of conceding and supporting Walton like he should’ve done, he ran a campaign to get on the ballot.  When the courts struck that down, he started a write-in campaign…with a healthy dose of smear, mind you.  Now, there are signs on every other lawn in my neighborhood that say “Write Down Byron Brown!”  Where were you people during the primary?!  My own parents have one on their lawn, not because they are necessarily supporters, but because their landlord put it there, which seems shady to me, frankly.  (Sidebar: my cousin G saw it yesterday and said “hey isn’t that guy my mom doesn’t like?” Yes, sweetpea.) Anyway, the whole city is now split Brown/Walton and it’s ridiculous.  1. They’re on the same damn team, and 2. What are you even doing here, Byron?  Which brings me to this morning.

So, some newscaster posted a tweet asking what qurestions he should ask the candidates.  I only have one, honestly.

Byron-what makes you think you have the right to be an option?  You didn’t win it; you don’t deserve it.  Dude is doing the same thing “that last guy” did…refusing to concede after a fair election.  Maybe, just maybe…we don’t want you anymore.

I wrote before about how the male ego plays a part in this and I stand by that but I think a lot of it is a thirst for power and control.  I just can’t imagine it: ”Oh, I lost?  Well, I don’t wanna.  So I say I didn’t.”  That’s not how adults behave, folks.  That’s the logic of a child.

Anyway, I can’t wait until election day when India Walton stomps the crap out of Byron Brown.  No, that doesn’t seem plausible where I live because South Buffalo is very pro-Byron, but the rest of the city is a different story from what I have seen.  I am hopeful…hopeful all these signs were put out by a handful of landlords.  Hopeful that Walton can weather the storm Bryon has created for someone from his own party.  Hopeful that Brown come to his senses and concedes, though I know that’s the most unlikely outcome of all.

On Food and Funds

Not long ago, and not for the first time, I was having a conversation with a nutritionist about my diet.  This is a fun little topic that comes up on a regular basis given my gastroparesis and its tendency to make digestion an issue for me.  My diet is always evolving.  And again, not for the first time, I was encouraged to go out and buy food that I can never in a million years afford.

Because you can’t eat right if you’re poor.

I knew this a long time ago, when I went to my first food pantry at Catholic Charities.  The food was canned or frozen, and what little fresh food was available was a day away from the garbage bin.  Sometimes you got lucky, though.  I remember one afternoon when Trader Joe’s dropped off a load of almost expired products, and they put them on the shelves for anyone to take.  Some women were arguing over a pack of American cheese.  I looked in the cheese bin to see what was left, if anything, and was delighted!  Gouda? Havarti?  Brie?!  I scooped all that fancy cheese while those women were fighting over Kraft slices.  Still, the fresh food at that pantry was in low supply.  I had better luck at a secular pantry run by a health organization I was linked to, but eventually I stopped going to them and lost pantry privileges.

Then there are the grocery stores.  First of all, there’s food deserts: places with no access to fresh food, like downtown (soon to change now that Braymiller’s Market is opening, though I don’t know what their prices are like.)  I shop mainly at Savealot or Aldi’s, which are discount grocery stores.  Other options in the area are Wegmans and Tops.  These stores are very different from one another-take Wegmans and Savealot.  Firstly, you walk in the door and see the produce section.  Savealot’s is about a case and a half.  Wegmans’ is the garden of flippin’ Eden.  Then you find their bakery sections…one with packaged breaks and cakes and very little choice, the other with a million fresh baked options.  The meat and dairy sections at Wegmans are endless, but only a few cases at Savealot.  But then…frozen foods!  Savealot has two aisles for frozen food.  I’m sure Wegmans has the same or more, but in comparison to the other departments there is a huge difference between the offerings.  Almost as if there’s just more cheap and easy stuff per square foot at Savealot.  So, essentially, this low-cost store is definitely saving me money, but at what cost?  At the cost of my health.  See, the strawberries might be two bucks cheaper at Savealot, but at Wegmans, I don’t have to throw half out because they are rotting or damaged.

Another thing about the stores that Mark noticed is the way they are set up.  Savealot, has you enter in one specific spot and encourages you to follow a sort of zig-zag pattern through the aisles.  In Wegmans and Tops, is just laid out for you to go wherever and get your thing.  He noticed that when we went to buy cheese yesterday, we bought a few other things as well that we saw while walking the aisles.  Had we gone to Wegmans, that wouldn’t happen.  I would have gone directly to the dairy and got the cheese and left.  But that’s not just because of the way the grocery store is arranged; that’s because of my wallet.  I can’t AFFORD to aisle-wander in Wegmans. 

Bringing me back to how poor people can’t eat right.  My doc is from Amherst, a nice suburb, and likes to suggest I shop at Whole Foods and I like to laugh and laugh until it gets uncomfortable.  I can’t buy a head of lettuce in that store.  It’s outrageous.  It’s outrageous at Wegmans, and some days, I think it’s outrageous at Savealot, too.

When we used to get food stamps, a lot of people were always talking about how folks on EBT were spending it all on steak and lobster and I would laugh and laugh until it got real uncomfortable and then I would go on a rant about how I can barely buy ground beef and tuna fish with the 125$ a month they give us to feed ourselves and maybe you should just sit down and shut up before you make yourself into a fool in front of people who actually deserve help!  But I digress.

My point is that even with help, it’s not enough to eat right.

Mom told me Bill Maher went on a tear recently about how America is obese and her response was that maybe if we all had personal chefs and his kind of money that wouldn’t be a problem, which I think sums it up right there.  I, personally, am sick of hearing how going organic or something is better for me.  Why, I’d love to.  Just make it cheaper.

There is a ridiculous amount of poverty in this country and hunger and food-insecurity are real things in our communities, and there are just not enough services in my opinion.  I don’t feel as though people should jump though a thousand hoops just for the privilege of eating.  Furthermore, I don’t think it should be a frigging privilege.

In my research, a woman led me to FullCart, an online food bank.  I filled out the questionnaire and am hoping to hear back soon to see whether I qualify for a free box of food to be shipped to my house.  I know there won’t be a fresh thing in that box, but I’m going to try it all and find out what else is available for people who are hungry.

I could really go for a fresh garden salad with chicken and strawberries and walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette for lunch, but instead I’m having a chicken patty on white bread because that only cost me 25 cents to make.

Because you can’t eat right when you’re poor.

Blind Fury

I started writing a blog about therapy and then I had to stop because of “the feeling.”  You know, that mixture of exhaustion and rage that we’ve been dealing with for about 20 hours now?  No?  Just me?  Maybe the ladies know what I’m talking about.

When Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, I cried.  I sobbed on a boulder in the middle of the woods on a camping trip while my husband held me and promised it would be alright; everything would be fine.  Then, yesterday, the Supreme Court made my husband into a big fat liar.

All I can think of is how scared those women in Texas must be.  How terrified.  This has nothing to do with saving human life, and everything to do with persecuting it.  I am so grateful to live in NY where anti-choicer’s are outnumbered in state government, but that doesn’t mean I’m not scared of federal possibilities.  That doesn’t mean I’m not horrified by the Supreme Court’s violation of the constitution. 

Here is the Texas law, explained a little, with my reasonings for why it is horrendous:

  1. Abortions are banned after six weeks.  Many women do not even know they are pregnant at that point…I myself probably wouldn’t even think about it until after week 4 went by.
  2. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.  Disgusting.  You’re going to make a victim carry around their trauma for nine months?  Then what?  Where’s the pro-life bit there? (Also, can we retire “pro-life” when what they really are is “anti-choice?”  I mean…it’s not like they’re going to raise the baby, are they?)
  3. You can be sued for helping someone get an abortion.  So, whether you are a doctor performing it or a nurse assisting or a friend DRIVING you there, you can be sued.  So, if I lived in Texas, I would be sued, because I will absolutely always drive a woman to Planned Parenthood, if need be, and we will go get ice cream afterwards.
  4. The citizens who choose to sue don’t need to show any connection to the person they’re suing.  So, a random could totally decide to sue you.  Or, more likely, an angry ex.  Gross, on so many levels.

Now, I have questions.  Say someone says a woman is planning on getting an abortion. What if she isn’t pregnant?  Does she have to prove it?  Does she have to go down to the police station and pee on a stick?  What if she is?  Does she need to submit her private medical files?  At what point do we get into invasive exams?

Give me a little bit, I’m sure I will come up with even more questions.

God, I’m tired.  God, I’m angry. 

I don’t have much love for Texas to begin with.  My friend Molly’s parents lived in Texas and she told me they had scorpions in their shoes sometimes and I said “nope” and swore I’d never set foot in the state, but this really takes the cake.  I have a cousin from Texas, and he is a nice guy.  I think he leans conservative and that’s cool because I know he reads my blog (Hi, Kevin!) and knows that I lean the other way, but he’s the type of man that knows how to look at different points of view.  I think he truly just accepts people as they are.  Which is how I like my conservatives.  So, in my opinion, him and his wife and their tiny dog are the best things to come out of the state.  And were it not for them and their kin, I would be perfectly happy with Texas seceding and calling it a day.  That’s how mand I am.

God, I am so mad.

So that therapy blog will be upcoming, because I am drowning in angst right now.  Happy Thursday.  I guess.

Change Your Mind

I live in the state of New York.  In 2018, I voted for Andrew Cuomo to become our governor. Why, you ask?  Well, I’m a Democrat, so I wasn’t interested in Marc Molinaro, whose platform wasn’t that bad, actually…I just don’t vote against the ACA if I can help it, which he was not on board with.  Otherwise, he wasn’t so bad.  I research all candidates, including…perhaps even more in depth…Republicans, so that I know what I’m getting.  But Cuomo had the added benefit of running mate Kathy Hochul, a Western New York native.  Of course, I’m going to vote for the hometown girl, especially when WNY seems to get the shaft a lot in state-wise instances.  Seems like the focus is always downstate, on NYC, so having someone from the area in Albany was a definite pro.  Also, if you know me, you know I vote not just for the person, but for the team they assemble.  I’m not a huge Biden fan, for instance, but I like who he has hired.  That’s why I voted for him.  It’s also one of the reasons I voted for Cuomo.

Now, when the scandal broke that there were women claiming that he sexually harassed them, I did what I always do in these situations and took a “wait and see” approach.  I’m a big believer that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, so I waited patiently for the AG’s report and went about my life.  Cuomo has been a figure in it the past year, because of his Coronavirus leadership, which I will admit was very good in the beginning, but I feel has become a little muddled as time has gone on…likely because of the allegations taking up some of his time. 

Then, the other day, our Attorney General Letitia James released a report saying that Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women.  He denies it and refuses to resign.  Every Dem in a 2000 mile radius has told him to resign, including Biden.  Alas, no.

This leads me to an interesting observation.

As someone who voted for Cuomo enthusiastically in 2018, I can tell you honestly that I have now dropped him like a hot potato.  Why?  Because you are allowed to change you mind based on new information, which is something that my Republican brothers and sisters sometimes seem to just not understand.  You don’t HAVE to support a candidate after they do something screwed up.  I just want you all to know that.  You are allowed to change your mind.  Just like I changed my mind on Cuomo

You don’t need to “stand by your man” if your man is an asshole.  That’s called being in an abusive relationship.

And furthermore…what’s with this new breed of politicians who just do not see a losing battle when confronted with it?

In my home city, Buffalo, we are having a mayoral race in the fall.  The Democratic primary was won by a woman named India Walton, a Democratic Socialist.  Our incumbent mayor, Byron Brown, did absolutely no campaigning, certain that he would win the vote, and was flabbergasted when he didn’t.  But did he concede politely, as expected?  No, he started a write-in campaign and now there are signs on every other lawn emblazoned with his name.  Excellent, Byron.  Go ahead and split the Democratic vote so that the Republican wins.  Brilliant strategy to support your party!

You know what it is, don’t you?  Ego.  The male ego, to be precise, because I have been researching and men far outweigh women with this kind of behavior.  Losing is foreign to many men, and they have trouble accepting when they have lost.  Even if it hurts other people, they may continue to insist that they have won.  Is it something ingrained in them by society, or a reflection of the more primitive aspects of their DNA?  Probably both in my opinion, just another form of the patriarchy ruining perfectly good men.

Anyway, I’m boiling this down to two basic truths:  when you’re wrong, admit it.  Take your scolding, and move on to something else.  And when something no longer lines up with your ideals, you don’t have to keep pursuing it.  You can move on to something else, too.

That’s enough ranting for today.  Happy Thursday.


If you’re a regular reader, you know I take issue with gender roles and the patriarchy and all that jazz.  I have written before about how such things harm men as much as women, but I haven’t delved into the specifics.  Today, I’m going to touch on one.

Mark and I were having a discussion.  It started with a tweet I saw not too long ago in which a woman (@emrazz) wrote that “men care deeply about what other men think of them”   This struck me as interesting, since just the evening before I had witnessed a man have a full-on meltdown over the idea that another dude might think he was gay.  I brought this up to Hubs and he commented that this was a very specific issue; straight men do not want other men to think they’re gay.  I took this to a friend who confirmed that yes, dudes do care more about what other guys think, they just don’t let on that much.  They kind of transfer it over to what women think of them, because that’s the comfort zone, but men’s opinions matter, too.

So, I posed the question…what are some totally human being things that you have done that someone called you gay for?  The results are gross.

First of all, there’s the obvious life skills:  Cooking.  Cleaning.  Grooming.  Things that any living, breathing human creature needs to know to survive.  Then there’s the hobbies: gardening, sewing, interior design.  All totally non-gendered stuff that has nothing to do with sexuality and yet…here I am writing this blog.

We then arrive at the emotional elements: saying “I love you” to another dude.  Hugging a relative (more on that later.) Having a “bromance,” or even a best friend.  Admiring anything physical about another man.

Then there’s the flat-out ridiculous: your wrist going limp at any point, even if it’s just comfortable like that.  Wearing a tux on your wedding day (I really wish I was joking.)  READING.

I know at least one man who has been called gay or “f–” for everything I have listed.  And there’s still lots more.

Now one subject brought up that he’s gotten more crap from women than men, actually.  Which, makes me real mad at my sisters….do better, ladies.  However, it is MEN who do things like think its gay to NOT be homophobic.  I mean, Hubs has been called a “f–” just for being an ally…just for refusing to participate in the hate.  CMON, guys…why the hell do you care so much?

I still maintain that homophobia in men is simply their fear of homosexuality in themselves.  Whether or not they are really gay, they are scared to be gay.  And why wouldn’t they be?  Look at what they have cultivated for each other.  I mean…y’all can’t read a book without an insult being hurled your way, apparently.  You have a faction that will beat the crap out of you if you’re gay.  You’ve seen trans people get murdered and gay men die from AIDS and all the ostracization…so no, you wouldn’t want to be gay, would you?

And you certainly don’t want anyone to think that either.

Now, I had a friend in high school who thought I was a lesbian for a while.  This was because I did not care then and I do not care now about a lot of things that other girl’s I know used to care about.  I mean, I liked boys and I had tons of crushes, but I didn’t care as much for makeup and clothing and things like that the way they did.  She used to tease me often about my supposed lesbianism.  She just didn’t get that I wasn’t subscribing to gender roles, because it was 2000 and that was still a taboo topic for which I had no words.  But none of it bothered me, for two reasons:  1. I honestly did not care if the women I knew thought I was gay, because 2. I knew I wasn’t, and that was enough.  So why is it not enough for most men I know?

Likely, and this is my hypothesis, it’s because they are not allowed to openly express themselves in the same way women can.  Society does not look kindly on a crying man, unless he’s at a funeral.

Speaking of…a few years ago we were at a BBQ at my brother-in-law’s and Mark went and greeted his step-brother with a hug, for which he was promptly called a “f–” and then was smacked on the ass.  He walked away, angry and humiliated, vowing not to hug any of his brothers ever again.  Cut to their father’s funeral, where his other two step-brothers welcomed him with open arms, literally.  He hugged them and felt better, but then angry…why is it only in mourning that he gets to be sad?  Why is it only in death that men can show love to each other?

If you guessed the patriarchy…you are, as always, correct.

My husband has gender roles ingrained in him that he is still trying to unlearn, because homie (me) don’t play that.  We keep things as equal as possible, and yes, sometimes we have a spat about who is in charge of which household chore, but for the most part we resolve everything with equality in mind.  It saddens me to think there are men out there who would literally call my husband “gay” for actually giving a crap about his home. 

It boggles the mind.  Really.

Anyways, to all my male readers out there, please…try to RELAX.  Try not to care what the dude next door thinks of you, because I’ve been paying close attention to the men in my life for the past month so I could write this, and ohmygod, it has been exhausting watching you suffer by holding yourselves back.  Just relax, and be who you are, and stop worrying about what Joe Schmoe thinks of you.  Cook a fabulous meal.  Dress up to make yourself feel good.  Learn how to knit.  And for god’s sake, stop caring about what other people are doing in their flippin’ bedrooms.  Because some dudes may think you’re a super-straight-tough-guy, but most of us think you look like an idiot.

God is Not a Real Estate Agent

I am an American woman of Irish descent who is a former Catholic.  That is my basic profiling headline.  As such, there is a part of me that thinks I should sit down and shut up because I know very little about a conflict half a world away, but alas, here we are.

You see, one of the most important people in my life is an American Muslim woman of Palestinian descent, Sahar.  We have been friends since sixteen, and for us, religion has always been present in our friendship.  In youth, we examined the differences and similarities between Islam and Christianity.  We learned about other cultures from each other.  For instance, I had no idea that in some parts of the world, the land I know as Israel is actually called Palestine.  This is the land that Sahar hails from, and as the daughter of immigrant parents, she still has family there.  I can’t relate, because any close family we had back in Ireland are long dead.  I can kind of sympathize with all the disruption in the area, as northern and southern Ireland have always had their issues, but I think it’s safe to say it’s never escalated, and probably never will, to the level that it has in the Middle East. 

Growing up Catholic, we learned a lot about Israel and the Jewish people.  In school, we were taught that the Jews were like our kin.  They were the people that Christians would not exist without.  They believed in the same God as us, just with a different view on prophets and Messiahs.  It was actually used as a teaching tool to help us understand other cultures, which is cool.  But, as I’ve said before, I didn’t know what a Muslim was until I was 14.

Are you aware how similar Islam is to Christianity?  Probably not, but essentially, just like the Jews, we are all worshipping the same God, just with different views on prophets and Messiahs.  The Jews sometimes use the name Yahweh, so why do we freak out when Muslim’s use Allah?  It’s just a different name for the same basic principle. 

Anyway, my point is that I was raised to think that Israel belonged to the Jewish people because it is the land God granted to them.  And we, America, supported that.

Then I grew up and I realized that God has nothing to do with real estate.

So, for a while I was like “why can’t they just share the land?”  That seemed like the fair thing to do, and I remembered learning about Gaza in school, so I thought that the whole situation seemed fair.  After all, I was an American and taught that it was totally fair for the Native Americans to live on reservations.

Then I grew up some more and realized that was absolute bullshit and that colonizers were thieves.  I mean, you can’t just come in someone’s house and say it’s yours now.  We literally have a constitutional amendment prohibiting the military from doing exactly that, and I am positive there are other federal and state laws in place to prevent someone from just coming in and taking your house.  And this is what is happening over there…Israel came in and took the Palestinians house.

But wait!  There’s more!

Because they were sick of having their house stolen since 1948, they fought back.  Y’know, as one would in the USA had they property and a gun.  Except instead of a gun (since after all, this is not just one house, but a million,) they used some rockets.

Well, the Israeli leadership did not like this, so in a completely disproportionate response, they proceeded to bomb the bejesus out of the Palestinians.

Sahar told me that on one of the most holy days of Ramadan, they bombed the most important mosque in Jerusalem, just a few blocks from her grandparents’ house. 

For Catholic context, this would be like someone throwing a bomb in St. Peter’s Basilica on Christmas morning.

And that just disgusts me.  I mean, not as much as the photos I am seeing come out of all the dead or injured Palestinian children.  Or the fact that yesterday they bombed al Jazeera’s headquarters, which is their press hub.  Or the part where they’re blocking roads and trapping people in Gaza.  Or the bit about how they’re bombing hospitals, which is a war crime.

Tell me again why we are supporting these people?  Explain to me why Israel is in the right, and do it without God in the equation. 

I dare you.

The Cancel Wars

Recently, I wrote in regards to the Potato Head franchise.  Since then, things have snowballed.

What started with a couple potatoes that don’t have a gender in the first place segued into Dr. Suess books being “cancelled.”  Then Pepe Le Peu being “cancelled.”  Then a bunch of stuff on Disney+ being “cancelled.”

And through all of this, there is a very vocal group that is appalled and outraged and downright offended that other people seem to be…offended?  Let’s unpack this.

I already wrote about how I never gave a crap about my Potatohead’s gender when I was four, so why should you? Why should anyone?  It’s a GD potato with eyeballs.  But I am a literary person and a lover of all things Seuss, so let’s roll over there a second.

It’s six books, guys…and these were no “Cat in the Hat,” mind you.  Six underperforming books that have stereotypically racist imagery in them.  If you are defending that…what, exactly, are you defending?  What precious childhood memory is being eroded because you *just* realized we can’t be out here drawing Asians with lines for eyes?  It has nothing to do with the words and everything to do with the pictures.  Yes, they are offensive.  But you don’t get to cry and whine about people being offended when you yourself are taking offense to this supposed “cancel culture.”  Why is that more important to you than how other people feel?  Why are children’s books and toys something to get riled up about, but not the actual children we have locked in cages?

Let’s move on to television.  First of all, as any self-respecting Looney Tunes lover knows, those shorts were not all for children.  They ran in theaters between kid and adult movies alike.  So not every character is aimed at the 7-10 crowd, let alone the 4-7s.  Some are for adults, like Pepe Le Peu, a spoof on the “overly romantic European” trope of the day.  Now, I remember being a kid and thinking this was just as messed up at the Geordie Porgy rhyme (Georgie Porgy, pudding pie, kissed the girls and made them cry…um…excuse me?)  Like…she wasn’t interested.  She wasn’t even the same species.  There was no great love story there.  What, he eventually wore her down?  Kinda gross when you think about it.  So why, exactly, do you want your kids to watch that?

And Disney, the flippin gold-standard of children’s programming, DARES to put warnings before The Muppet Show??

Oh, you mean, that ONCE AGAIN adult program that you have morphed into children’s television? And people are mad because they moved some films off the kid’s profiles too, to encourage watching them with the whole family.  Again, I don’t know about you, but those crows in Dumbo were BLACK, and not just because they were crows.  They made it that way, deliberately.  Are you…are you not paying attention?

So when whole groups of people are marginalized in some way, that’s fine with you, so long as they don’t take your precious potatoes?

Except, it’s a trick, you know.

Everyone on the right is going to go out and buy that box that says Mr. Potatohead.  Then, when the new ones come out, everyone on the left is going to run out and buy the new Potatoheads.  Just like everyone is snapping up those 6 Suess underselling books now…along with record sales of his other books.  And how many folks will meander over to Disney+ out of sheer curiosity, and watch a little Swiss Family Robinson to see what the fuss was about?

You fools, they want your money.

They are riling up and dividing you so that you purchase their product and/or give them free publicity.  And we fall for it!  I’m just as riled right now as the next person, though my reasoning might be a little different.  I’m also just annoyed how the same type of people who tried to cancel the phrase “happy holidays” are railing against cancel culture now that it supposedly affects them…even though it definitely doesn’t.  Your life is not made worse by these decisions…someone else’s life might be made a little better, though.  Why are you so determined to deny other people that chance?  When did pride become more important than compassion?

Fear and Fluidity

When I was a kid, one of my favorite toys was my Potato Heads.  I had three:  a Mr., a Mrs., and a baby named Spud.  I spent hours switching around their pieces and making them look ridiculous, and then showing off my creations to my family.  Quite often, I would put Mrs. Potato Heads hat on Mr. Potato Head.  Sometimes I gave her his mustache.

So, the other day Hasbro decided they were going to drop the Mr.  My first reaction was that this was nonsensical.  Now, I’m not someone who thinks that we shouldn’t try to do better; we absolutely should. But this whole changing a brand and such kind of bothers me.  I mean, I understand what you’re doing, but there are Mr.’s and Mrs.’s still in the world, you know.  And me?  I obviously did not give a crap about their gender at any point.

Which leads me to a bigger conversation.

Recently I was arguing with someone on Facebook about the LGBTQ community.  About halfway though the argument, I realized that this person was WOEFULLY misinformed on the subject, and also not willing to learn new things about it, as it doesn’t “affect him.”  And it doesn’t.  He lives a mostly white, mostly Christian, mostly heteronormative country life.  I think it would be a safe assumption to make that he has never really known a queer person. Met one, probably, but knowing one is different.

The first gay friend I had was Mike.  He wasn’t out when we met, and I fell head over heels for him from day one.  It was about a year or so later that he told me the truth, which crushed my naive little heart.  I remember being mad at him…really mad.  Not that he was gay, mind you, but that he had kept it a secret for so long.  Gay didn’t bother me.  My dad’s two best friends were gay.  It was something I had been exposed to my entire life, and never seemed out of place.  But when Mike came out, I started to see the challenges he faced, and the anger I had towards him I redirected towards the cause. 

When I was 21, I met Qui, who was the first Trans person I have ever known.  Of course, I didn’t know it at the time, and I’m not 100% sure he did either.  He identified then as a lesbian, which was an idea I could wrap my head around.  It wasn’t until he went to college that he decided to transition.  Sadly, we have grown apart over the years, but I have watched his journey from afar and I support him totally.  He is more himself now than he ever was, and that is very clear to anyone who has known him.

My husband also grew up in that white-bread country world, so when he came to the city, he had to unlearn some things right quick.  I started with the gay thing-gay people made him nervous.  When we broke down the reasons why, and really talked about the situation, he started to understand that it was only fear of the unknown that was keeping him from embracing this entire group of people.  When we were about 8 months into our relationship, he moved in with my lesbian aunts.  Literally everything he knew about gay couples was challenged, and he came out of the experience grateful for the open eyes and heart that he had acquired.

A few years later, he was working a new job when he found out there were two Trans men on staff.  He befriended them without really knowing, so there was no turning back once the cat was out of the bag.  He had questions and concerns, and we talked it though.  Fortunately, both of these guys were very cool with him asking questions and such, and made it easy for him to embrace them.  They didn’t have to, though.  It’s not their responsibility to make it easier on you.  It’s just that they were good people, who wanted their friend to know them better.

Some people think that sex, sexuality, and gender are the same thing.  They are not.  Sex is the organs you are born with.  Gender is the type of person you feel yourself to be.  Sexuality is who you are attracted to.  Me, I identify as a cisgendered heterosexual female.  I never had an issue with the sexuality part…but I have taken issue with gender.

Gender, in my opinion, is a construct.  Growing up, I was much more interested in “boy” things than “girl” things, so I thought there was something wrong with me.  I preferred pants to dresses.  I liked Kevin’s toys better than my own.  I’d rather climb a tree than paint my nails. The things the girls in my class liked and wanted sometimes seemed silly to me.  Overall, I had a lot of trouble feeling like a “girl,” but I certainly wasn’t a “boy,” either. 

As I aged, I began to realize to the confines of gender, and rail against them.  I went to a high school that told me I was no less than any man.  It taught me that your sex organs do not determine your ability, intelligence, strength or fortitude.  Then I got to college and it was suddenly a man’s world and no…I’m not having that.  It has always been equality first, in my book.

By this age, I knew I was unlike other girls, but couldn’t put my finger on it.  I had read something about transgendered folks, and I was intrigued, so I read some more.  Eventually I learned of gender fluidity.  This is when a person feels that they have both genders inside them, and move between the two, or embrace the neither/both (though that’s more androgyny, I think.)  This made instant sense to me. 

Now, I don’t consider myself fluid, I consider myself female…but there are days I would be considered more of a “tomboy” than anything.  It has nothing to do with my sex organs, and everything to do with the person I have been formed into after playing with Potato Heads so long ago.  And no, their prefixes played no part in my gender identity.

I don’t ever remember being scared, you see.  I never feared queer people, and I still have trouble understanding those that do.  Because that’s all it is, you see: fear.  If you “don’t like” them, or won’t support them, or dismiss their autonomy, you are living in fear of your own prejudices, and likely your own sexuality and gender.  People like to say there’s more queer folks today, so it must be more prevalent now.  No…people just aren’t always dying.  People aren’t suffering an AIDS epidemic.  People aren’t regularly being killed for who they love.  Through the years, the cis community has killed off its queer people, and those that made it went into hiding.  Now, we have protections and laws in place so that people of different genders and sexualities can openly express themselves.  Of course, it still isn’t enough. 

There are still people with deep-seated hatred in their hearts.  And I maintain that this is nothing but fear, and internalized hatred for themselves.  Several trans folks have already been murdered this year.  And for what?  Because they felt like a gender that didn’t match up with what they were born with?  What skin is it off your teeth?  Get over yourself and mind your own goddamn business.

Anyway, I think it’s stupid that they changed the Potato Heads names, but I also think it’s stupid that people are still out to villainize the LGBTQ community in 2021.  I assure you…you know a queer person.  They might not be out to you, but you know them…and they can hear you.  They can see you.  They know what you do.

So, do better.

Brand New Day

I don’t know how many times I have teared up in the last 24 hours, but it has been a lot.  The tears were different than two weeks ago, when I went though another 24 hour crying jag.  Those were tears of sorrow and anger.  These are tears of relief.

I know people that are still Team Trump, and for the life of me, I don’t know why you were in the first place, and I really don’t know why you are now.  I’m not talking about decent Constitution-protecting Republicans…I’m talking about the type of people that stormed the Capitol.  I see people like that every day, even in my supposedly “liberal” city, which really isn’t, in case you were wondering. 

My current WIP is about a group of kids escaping a cult.  See, I love cults.  I think they’re completely fascinating, the way a person or small group gets massive amounts of ordinary people to believe their batshit crazy nonsense.  My dream job is cult deprogrammer.  I have watched so many videos and documentaries and read so many books.  As such, I can recognize cult-like behavior easily.  So, when those traitors attacked the Capitol, I watched and wondered why we’re just letting cult members storm our government.

Now, the definition of a cult is a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.  If we remove the word religious, or perhaps add “religious-like,” what do you have there?  Those wackos venerate and devote their lives to this man.

So, as I had this realization, I started to feel pity.  Oh, you poor hypocrites, with low critical thinking skills, who fell into a trap he laid for you.  They didn’t know what they were getting themselves into, did they?  I felt momentarily bad for these rioters.  Momentarily, mind you.  Don’t think I wasn’t gleeful the next morning as the arrests and manhunts started. 

Anyway, I was full of tears that day.  And then, yesterday.

I cried first when I saw Kamala, and who would blame me?  First woman VP.  Greatest moment of my feminist life.  Now, Joe is fine, as I’ve said, but it was his team building skills I was voting for, and she is the star of the team.   But of course, I cried when I saw Joe.  I cried while Lady Gaga sang.  I cried while they were inaugurated.  I cried while Joe spoke.

Then I woke up this morning and cried again.  Because Joe is already out there, fixing things.  I saw at least two pieces of LBGTQ+ discrimination overturned, I saw the Muslim ban lifted, I saw us rejoin the Paris Accord, and the WHO.  Now, you might not agree with some of that, and I do not care.  I’m sorry, but the time of lies is over.  It is possibly likely you don’t agree with it because you don’t understand it, and that is what has led us to our sorry state of affairs.  It is also very likely you don’t agree because you have been fed massive amounts of misinformation, so you believe what you’ve been taught.

But it’s ok.  Help is out there.  You, too, can be deprogrammed from the cult!  I mean, I suppose.  Though that guy with the antlers seems a little too far gone.

I hope I have more tears of joy than misery in the next four years, and I expect that, for the first time in a long time.  I always had hope, you know, but it got rough there those last few months.  I’m glad to see the sun coming up on the horizon.