Continuing the Work of an Ally

I did a video last week and wrote a blog post with a bunch of resources. Some people went to a protest. We’re done, right? We showed up and said we cared. I mean, Black Americans can’t expect us to keep showing up, can they? We have lives, don’t we?

You know where this is going, if not, you’ve never met me and you do not understand sarcasm. Of course there is more work to do. 400 years of racism and oppression doesn’t just get solved in a day, or with one kind gesture, or a nice social media post. I know. It would be so great if that would get it done.

We’ve got real work to do, and as a white American, I know that starts with me. I finished The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin, last week. It was incredible, but I would consider it advanced reading for white Americans who don’t think they perpetuate racism or come from a generationally racist construct.

Now I am reading White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo. My mom is also reading this. In about 3 weeks we plan to have a discussion about it, and I welcome anyone else who wants to join. Please contact me here in the comments, or on social media, so we can plan a date and time that works for everyone. My facebook is friends and family (people I know IRL) but twitter is open, and my handle is @misscrf.

The reason I am inviting people to join us, is because the initial thing I have found (so far) in White Fragility, is that white people avoid discussing racism, and that needs to stop. I can admit that I have often been apprehensive about discussing race, especially in front of a Black person. I didn’t want to say the wrong thing or offend anyone. I certainly didn’t want to be seen as racist, when that’s the last thing I want to be.

But that’s not good enough. Admitting that is the first step. Admitting I felt that way, is part of how I dig myself out of this, and I welcome other white people to do the same. We have to confront our own avoidance of talking about race. If you don’t know by now, Black Americans can’t avoid race being a part of their lives, and this won’t get better until white Americans stop avoiding discussions about race. The ability for white Americans to avoid discussing race, is in fact part of our white privilege. Our unwillingness to discuss race, is part of our white fragility.

Seriously, I’m only in the first chapter and I love this book.

I can absolutely recognize that I have been conditioned through my life to not view myself on the terms of my race, but to view Black people on the terms of their race. That, in itself, is conditioned racism. I think when white people hear the word racism, they think that means I just hurled expletives at a Black person. Racism is way more nuanced, and it involves marginalizing people, erasing first person, Black narratives, and applying a different set of rules to people, solely based on race.

Recently, I have had to un-friend some people on facebook. I know that sounds frivolous, but these are people I have known since high school. I know that I’m not alone in having to make these tough decisions, but I want to go over this, because I think it is important. As a white person, it’s really on me to check my inherent racism, but also to call it out in white people who are in my sphere.

I will never understand someone finding any value or worth in Trump, aside from white supremacists and Putin. Yet, there are so many who do, and so many of you will decry that they are not racist. I’ve called people out for this, and they have commented on my posts that underscore the inherent racism in supporting Trump.

What I found, in calling out these friends, is that eventually the arguments go flat. I reject their gaslighting, and they refuse to critically examine any evidence I show them of the Trump’s long-documented history of being racist. It goes well beyond the last 3 years, and has been evident for decades. Despite all that, it’s too inconvenient for people who are surrounded by an environment of Trump loving MAGA folk, to accept any criticism of someone who makes them feel like white people deserve their privilege and status.

What I realized, is that I had to make a decision. If I stayed friends with them, wouldn’t I just be saying that is was ok to agree to disagree? Wasn’t I dismissing their willingness to support a white supremacist, as acceptable? I realized I cannot do that. I will try to reach you, I will call out your rhetoric and implicit bias, but if you refuse to reason, gaslight the facts, make strawman arguments, and try to end the discussion, then I have to say goodbye. I cannot condone supporting white supremacy. Even if I wasn’t Jewish or a lesbian, I’d still be white, and I can’t care about Black Americans, while condoning the support of white supremacy. White supremacy is antithetical to the promise of this country, that we are all inherently equal. It’s not just that we are inherently equal, but that we have an inherent right to equality under the law. It is on me, as a white American, to demand that we make it a reality.

One thing I want to mention about this is the comments I see from white people, when we discuss racism. Again, we are not talking about hurling racist words, burning crosses, or being violent against people based on their race. I’m talking about the words we use in every day conversation. I recently read this list: 10 common phrases that are actually racist AF. I was surprised at how many phrases I use, that I didn’t know were rooted in racism. I see a common reaction from white people, when this type of thing is brought up. An eye roll and something to the effect of “you can’t say anything anymore!” or “everything has gotten so PC!”

Really, that’s just lazy. No one is saying you can’t say anything, but we are saying that you should care if your words perpetuate racism. It’s not just about your intent. It’s about the impact your words have. It’s common decency and respect. It’s about wanting to be inclusive enough that you aren’t just reluctantly willing to un-train yourself from the habit of saying certain things. It’s about actively wanting to, because you want a better world, not just for you, but for those you hurt. Because that is the reality. When you speak carelessly about someone on the basis of their race, you perpetuate the marginalization of all people within that race. You also bolster those who are overtly and violently racist. You help the racists feel that it’s ok or it’s not a big deal. Well, it is.

Another thing I want to take the time to do, is mention some of the action items I did last week, to step up and do more than just talk. This is not meant to be a point of bragging. Look at me! I’m an ally! Rather, it’s in part a way for me to be accountable. It’s a way to show that I’m not just sharing news and the narratives of Black Americans on social media. The other part of this, is that my whole point of posting these, is to encourage other white Americans to take tangible action. I hope by listing the things I’m doing, with links to resources, others may see that they can do some stuff too.

Last week I used resistbot to send a letter to my Senators, asking they demand a vote on H.R.35 – Emmett Till Antilynching Act .

It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t get a lot of likes and retweets, because it sent that letter to my Senators.

I signed on to a petition to end qualified immunity:

Another to end no-knock warrants:

and another to repeal 50-a in NY State, which kept police misconduct hidden from the public.

I’m thrilled to say this repeal has officially passed, which is not the end of our work, but it is substantial change in the right direction.

I donated to a group fund that was split between the following organizations:

I also donated to Equal Justice Initiative, twice. It wasn’t totally intentionally, but it kind of was. I watched Just Mercy, which is free on Amazon Prime. Try getting through that without a mountain of tissues. I’ve been a huge fan of the Innocence Project for years, and always been against the death penalty, but boy does this show how incredibly damaging it is.

I also did some phone banking for the State Senate candidate I am supporting, Samra Brouk. It was only about 40 calls, but hey if 50 people volunteered, that could be 2,000 calls. If you read my posts and watch my videos, you’re going to hear more and more about volunteering for candidates. Voting rights are under attack in this country, and Black Americans have never had full access to voting. That has got to change, but it will only change if we all demand it. This is our government, but only if we do the job of making sure it runs properly.

I didn’t do a video this time, partly because I’m more comfortable writing, but partly because I don’t want to repeat what I just said above. Maybe I’ll do another video in the future, but for now, let’s make sure we all get to work and keep on working. For the next week, I plan to keep reading White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo.

I have a Monroe County library card, but as a New York state resident, I am also allowed to get a New York City Library card. Check big cities in your state, and you might be able to do the same. I use the Libby app, which has both library cards in it, to search for books I want to borrow. If one library doesn’t have the book, or there is a hold/wait, I check the other library. Once you borrow a book, you can send it to your kindle, you’ll get taken to an in-app browser page that is on the Amazon side, where you choose the device to send it to, and bam. All set. You can get the kindle app, even if you don’t have Amazon Prime, and you can put it on your phone, and tablets, even if they aren’t Amazon phones.

I love reading with the Kindle app, because I can highlight passages and words I learn, and then upload all those to goodreads, where I can have that book on my reading or read list and I can write reviews of books I have read. I’m just telling you all of this, because if you want to read White Fragility, please do, and I would love to discuss it with you.

I also want to encourage everyone to watch this video:

And then make these 3 calls. I will be making these calls as well:

Call Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer at 502-574-2003 – Demand he fire officers who murdered Breonna Taylor. * Note – I did this. You have to press 4 for the directory. Then I type his name, last then first = 34724374734. That gives his ext. 5025744545. Press # to be transferred. Then it hangs up.

Call Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron at 502-696-5300 opt 1- Demand he charge the officers who murdered Breonna Taylor. *Note – I did this, and it’s interesting that they updated their phone system to put option 1 for feedback on Breonna Taylor’s murder, but they haven’t charged the officers who murdered her.

Call Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder at 502-574-7111 – Demand he complete his investigation and immediately turn it over to Breonna’s lawyers and the Attorney General. *Note – I did this, and chose opt 6 then 4 to get to the Chief’s office. The mailbox is full.

She was murdered, while sleeping, on March 13th. The investigation has not been completed, and nothing has been done. The police department released the incident report and it’s virtually blank. This is not justice.

Breonna Taylor should still be alive. There must be justice. We must demand it.

Let’s Lay out Some Facts

I don’t know about you, but I am facebook friends with lots of classmates from high school.  Recently someone I graduated with, posted something that struck me as something that could be taken as racist.  It seemed like the comments to her post were going in that direction.  This prompted me to eventually respond.  I wasn’t suggesting she was being racist, but rather her post could be taken that way.  Of course this devolved and one of her friends piled on. Both she and I tried to turn things around, add levity, and then things went off the rails, and we wound up turning to discussing Trump.  After I saw the last response from my classmate, I just felt I needed more space than a facebook comment. I needed to lay out facts with sources, so we can be clear about what is an impression someone has of someone, an unfounded conspiracy theory, vs publicly available evidence and facts.

I grabbed screenshots of the post and responses, redacting all names and profile pics, to preserve anonymity. S1 is my classmate, and the original poster.  S2 is me. S3 is a facebook friend of my classmate, and someone I have never met.  Click an image to go to a larger view and read them.

I fully acknowledge that I did not always get the best form of the argument, and I always wish I could respond to this stuff better. Nevertheless, I have to try, because silence just is not good enough.  Regardless, I need to respond to the last comment, as I haven’t yet. That’s because I cannot just ignore the willingness of people, including my fellow classmate, to dismiss all that is publicly known about Trump. It’s beyond absurd to me that people excuse everything horrible about him, when they would never give 1/10th of the same pass to Schumer, Pelosi, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, or anyone with a D next to their name.

I know there are lots of people out there, who could respond to this better than I can, but I will do my best. The first point we should lay out the facts on, are business execs in NYC think Trump is a bad businessman.  This isn’t just “people talk”. This is a common consensus, that he is really bad at business. His base will say, “then why is he so successful?”  My question back is, how do you know he is? He has towers and businesses, but he refuses to disclose his tax returns to this day, and without those, you have no idea how much money, or rather how much debt he has.  Most legitimate economic experts agree that he is likely up to his eyeballs in debt. Either way, without them, you can’t arguably say he is a good businessman, because you don’t have the proof.  This is a good primer, of his business history, and it was printed in 2016. Why Donald Trump isn’t the successful businessman he claims to be

To my classmate, and I hope friend, you are right. Actions do speak louder than words.  These are Trump’s business actions:

I could give more examples, but we only have so much time. I will say, that the idea that there is no teamwork in government is absolutely false. If you are so sure of that, I would challenge you to prove it.  In the last 20 years, Congress has become increasingly partisan and gridlocked, but there can be bipartisanship and things can get done. This is also true at the state and local level.  It’s an excuse to just write off all government as bad.  If we aren’t voting and paying attention, the ones there don’t have much incentive to make sure it works. That being said, I’ve worked at the county level of government, and people who work in military service, civil service, public service, or any type of government service, absolutely participate in team work. If they didn’t, nothing at all would get done.  People take for granted all that our government does just “keeping the lights on”.

Moving on to the next points of that last comment, I have no idea why Bloomberg is being brought up.  I am a life-long Democrat and I can’t stand him. I was never more happy, than when Senator Warren tore him to shreds.  He’s not a real Democrat. He has spent a long time attacking Democrats.  He registered as one, so he could try to buy the nomination. That wasn’t my idea, and I’m not responsible for his actions.  I don’t know why we are bringing him into this though, other than he’s another example of a greedy businessman, who thinks he can run for President to get some good press for his legacy. He has no bearing on this, as he’s not someone I’ve ever supported or ever would.

I also find it ridiculous that Biden was brought up, but no elaboration. A topic for another time? Nah, let’s discuss it now.  He was not my first, second, or third choice for the Democratic nominee, and he’s still 1,000 times better than Trump. He was instrumental in passing the Violence Against Women Act. (The Violence Against Women Act Was Signed 25 Years Ago. Here’s How the Law Changed American Culture) Since that article mentions marital rape, it’s significant to note that Ivana Trump said in sworn deposition, that Trump raped her.  There are many allegations against him, and they have a pattern that indicates these are not false allegations. (When Has Trump Been Accused of Rape or Attempted Rape? Allegations Include a Child, His Wife and a Business Associate)

Biden has worked hard in the Senate, and as VP, raising awareness on campus sexual assault.  He understands and respects the constitution. I guarantee you Trump doesn’t even know the articles, let alone the amendments. They are not on the same level. Trump is wholly uneducated on running a government and has been trying to flout laws and regulations, since becoming President.  He doesn’t respect our democratic institutions.  Putting Trump on the same level as Biden, is the same as putting him on the same level as Hillary Clinton.  Before I’m willing to go into depth on Secretary Clinton, I’ll need you to accept a challenge. Watch the four-part “Hillary” documentary on Hulu.  Really watch it, and see if you knew everything that is in it. Consider how much you’ve been told about her and how much it doesn’t actually match up with reality. Spoiler: She’s not the evil mastermind you think she is.  She is a life-long activist, and a brilliant legal and political mind. Is she perfect? Of course not. But there is not any human being who is perfect. It’s just that it seems people on the right are never willing to acknowledge criticism of their own candidates and reps. They also refuse to see anything good in anyone who is a Democrat.

Nancy Pelosi is not washed up and it’s pretty crappy to suggest someone has dementia, as a way to lob an insult.  She was the first female member of any party to lead a chamber of Congress. For more of her accomplishment, you can peruse this: Nancy Pelosi’s List Of Accomplishments As Speaker Proves She’s The Champion We Still Need.

Please don’t get me started on stocks. Pelosi’s husband exercised an option he had on stocks that were set to expire the next day. (Nancy Pelosi discloses her husband spent $5.52 million on Amazon, Facebook stock) Considering the stock dumping done by the GOP, and the fact that Trump won’t release his tax returns at all, and Jared and Ivanka have repeatedly had to amend their financial disclosures, I don’t think you really want to go down this rabbit hole. (Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner made up to $135 million while working for free)

All eyes remain on Trump, because he chose to run for President. No one forced him to do this. It is the highest position, not just of leadership but of public service, that a person can run for.  Public service is something people aspire to. It is a public trust, and that trust is made by public servants being transparent and accountable to the people. Those are two things Trump has never been. If you want to talk about people trying to profit off the pandemic, you can’t dismiss Trump. (Germany confirms that Trump tried to buy firm working on coronavirus vaccine)

I don’t know why it’s seen as a positive, the idea that he “kisses no ass” and “he tells it like it is”. I’m sure you’d like it to be that way, but that’s not the reality. The reality is that he is rude, and has no respect for other world leaders or public servants. He denigrates other elected officials and lacks all dignity in the way he speaks. He belittles the office of the Presidency.

He doesn’t tell it like it is, either. He lies constantly, and it is well documented.  These are just his lies during the pandemic: All the President’s Lies About the Coronavirus. You are welcome to google the rest. Many have laid out thousands of lies he has told. It is unprecedented, compared to other Presidents, Democratic or Republican. The way that he talks and behaves legitimately fits into the markers for narcissistic personality disorder: Narcissistic personality disorder (Mayo Clinic.

My bottom line is this. Trump is not a good guy. He’s not being attacked for nonsense. He’s being criticized for being unfit to do the job he chose to run for. He doesn’t understand or respect our democracy. He’s actively tearing it down and echoes the calls of tyrants and dictators.  If you can honestly read every article I linked to, challenge yourself to watch the Hillary documentary, and say that Trump is still a good guy, well I guess I did my best to challenge your beliefs.  I simply ask that you look at what you are using to base your beliefs on.  Are you going based on proven facts, from reputable sources, or are you listening to Fox News propaganda?

I didn’t get a chance to comment on all of the responses in that thread, but mimicking a Chinese or AAPI accent is racist. Suggesting that you like salons, sushi, and sake, but you don’t like materialism, is racist.  Chinese people, and all AAPI people, are more than just the jobs that some AAPI have, or the food and drink some of their cultures make and sell.

I got into this, because I didn’t want to let even casual racism go unchallenged.  Somehow that turned into a conversation on Trump.  While we work to correct assumptions and ensure we are agreeing on what is fact and what is not founded, let’s please consider that an entire race or culture cannot be stereotyped into a few random traits from the handful of AAPI people you have ever met.

As a Jewish person, I sat next to you in social studies in high school. I don’t know if you were aware or remember the swastikas that would be drawn on my desk and locker. I don’t know if you remember people raising their arms in a heil Hitler salute, saying “The occult’s coming out tonight, boys.” I don’t know if you recall Miss P. responding to my asking if she was going to do anything with “What do you expect me to do?”.  I don’t know if you were aware that I would get crank calls at night, from classmates telling me they were going to come kill me.

Talking about cultures and races and religions, like they are all the same people is dangerous and it is racist. We are almost 8 billion people in this world. Our materialism, our morality, and our lives are varied. They transcend our races, cultures, and religions.  I am taking this time to write this out, because I do care about you and I don’t want to just ignore what you are saying.  I know you can be better, and reject these inclinations to back a bombastic unqualified person who has never done anything but enrich himself. The movement on the right is extremely prejudice.  To support any candidate who is openly racist, is to condone and be complicit in their racism.

As I said in one of my comments, it is not enough to just not be racist. We must be actively anti-racist, which means calling it out even when it seems “casual”.  Not all white people believe one thing or act one way. The same is true for every other race on earth.  Please take some time to learn about racism more.  I recommend the documentary “I am Not Your Negro”. It appears to be on Amazon Prime, and if you have a library card, you can get it on Hoopla.

I also recommend “13th”, on Netflix, and the Netflix mini-series “When They See Us”.  Racism is a much bigger issue, than white people want to believe it is.  That is because they don’t experience it constantly.  Speaking in racist tones may not seem like it should matter, but it absolutely does. It normalizes racism and leads to violence.  This is not something I say lightly, or without proof that it is happening. (New Site Collects Reports Of Racism Against Asian Americans Amid Coronavirus Pandemic) I know that there are way better journalists and scholars who can recommend better sources to learn about this.  Maybe if any of them read this, they’ll be kind enough to add those in the comments.

I know that this was much more than a simple facebook comment, but I didn’t want to just throw back a flippant response. I wanted to respect my former classmate and friend enough to give a full response.  I know that I jumped around a bit, but I tried to hit on some points that I thought were important.  Thank you for your time, and to my former classmate and friend I wish you the best. Just as you said to me and your friend, we need people like you in the world.  We just also need to get racism out of our world too.

The Small Issue of My Mail Delivery

As the title suggests, this is not an issue of much consequence, relative to big world issues.  It’s just been in the background, the periphery, of my life recently.  I live in the city, in a neighborhood that I love.  I have been here 9 years, and I am grateful I’ve been so fortunate to be able to own this home.  It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but to me it is.  I am a woman who bought a home with no one else. I didn’t have a partner, or help from wealthy parents.  I saved up the down payment, looked at houses, and signed every paper, with the pen my firm gave me, for my 5 work anniversary working for them.

It’s been an unexpected sense of pride, that I bought this house and own it. I pay the mortgage and property taxes.  I do the required maintenance on the gutters, furnace, etc. I try to take care of my lawn and garden (Unfortunately, I do not have my Grandma’s green thumb.). It’s been a labor of love, upgrading this house, making it my own, and budgeting to take care of it, which is not always easy.

Every once in a while, I get mail for the person who lived here before me, who is now deceased.  Once in a great while, I get mail that might be for someone else or a name similar to the previous owner. I generally write on the envelope “deceased” or “does not live here”. It always gets taken away.  At least it used to.  Recently, I wrote on a piece of mail ” Does not live here”.  The next day, I was shocked to see the envelope was left in my mailbox and more writing was added.  It said, “Who Does? Put name/s on box.”

(addressee blocked out for privacy)

I was dumbfounded. I loved my mail carriers. They were always nice, delivered well, and they waved even when they were 1/2 down the block and I was driving by or walking. This guy had to be new.  Who did he think he was, telling me I had to put my name on my house? This is my home! I decide whether my name is plastered on it, for any passersby to see, or not to deface my property.

This pissed me off, but I put it aside. He comes by, before I come home. I see him on my Ring monitor, but I’m working, so that’s not ideal for discussing this with him.  Eventually, I decided I would write him a quick note to express my disappointment and explain that this was inappropriate. This is what the note said:

This is entirely inappropriate. I have owned this home for 9 years. I am not required to advertise my name on my house. I have never had an issue marking incorrect maii in this manner. Please send this back.
Thank you.

 

I put it on top of the envelope, and hope he realizes this is not cool.  I certainly did not expect that he would write an entire note back to me, on the back of the note I left him.

This is that reply: 

Hi, I can see your are confused as to why I asked for your mailbox to be labeled. I’m new to this route and I’m trying to learn the names. When people kick back a letter I simply request the box be labeled so we don’t waste each others time w/ mail thats not yours. I have asked dozens of people and you are the only one pushing back on this. Sorry to offend you.

Now I am just infuriated.  Are you kidding me? I’m confused? I don’t think so. You’ve done this to dozens of people and that’s a good thing? What do I have to do, to put this seemingly nothing of an issue, to rest? I considered filing a complaint with the post office, but I was hesitant. Postal workers have tough jobs and I don’t want to give him a hard time.  In the same respect, I don’t deserve this, and I’m getting frustrated because this is my home. No one should be able to tell me what to put on it.

I even looked up postal regulations.  https://www.mailboss.com/guide-usps-mailbox-regulations. I doesn’t say anything about putting your name, and for the record, the number of my address is on a pillar on my porch, in line with my mailbox, in big numbers. You could make the argument that it’s not on my mailbox, as my mailbox is an old fashioned milk door, on the side of my house. This is not the argument he is making.

Then, I check my mailbox and he f%^king put a label on the top of my mailbox door, with my motherf$%king name on it.  Are you kidding me, right now?

 

(my name blocked out)

This is my house! I 1/2 wanted to report him to the police for defacing my property. How dare he? What does he not get about this being my home, my property, and him being so out of line?

I decided I needed to report this to the USPS.  It’s a bit cumbersome filling out the form for this report, and I couldn’t attach any pictures, to document the situation, which is what made me want to write this completely random post about these unexpected troubles I’m having with my new letter carrier.

This is what I wrote in the box for describing the issue:

I’ve owned my home for 9 years, and always had great letter carriers. Recently I wrote on an envelope that the recipient didn’t live here.  The new carrier wrote on the envelope asking who did live here and that I should label my mailbox. He left the envelope. I wrote a note back that this was unprofessional and I am not required to put my name on my house. This is a privacy concern. He wrote back that he’s new to the route and that I needed to help him by telling him who lived here. Then he stuck a label with my name on my mailbox. I need someone to explain to him that this is unacceptable behavior and to knock it off. I can accept mail for anyone at my home, even if they don’t live here. I am not required to put a sign saying who I take mail for. I am allowed to put a note on mail that is not accepted at my address, to return to sender.  Clearly he does not respect this.

If he defaces my property again, I will file a report with the police. He doesn’t pay my mortgage or property taxes. He has no right to put labels on my mailbox, and it is frustrating that he did not just take the mail and move on.  Please deal with this. I have loved the mail carriers I had before, and they never had trouble with this.  Please re-train this carrier, or take him off my route.

So, now I’m wondering. Should I report this to the police, in case he takes it further? Am I making this more than it is?  I am looking for input.  Part of me feels this is a non-issue, but I removed the label he left, and now I don’t know what he might do next. I’m frustrated, and wondering if I even should be.  I’m hoping I will get some feedback, from anyone who thinks I am right to be upset, and those who think I am not. Should I have left the note, and taken the steps I have taken? Is reporting him to the police necessary?

Thanks for your input.

————-

Update: I got a call from the Station Manager, for the station where my mail goes through. He asked me to describe what had happened. He then said it was completely inappropriate, from the moment the letter carrier wrote on the envelope. He also let me know that this letter carrier is no longer working for the station and is now at another station. I recommended that the new station might want to submit him for some re-training. The manager said it was just completely inappropriate and should never have happened. He also thanked me for reporting it. I thanked him for calling me. 

I really appreciated that they didn’t just email me, but he called and personally addressed my issues.  Postal workers are incredibly busy and I have the highest respect for their work.  My regular carrier is back on my route, and she is fantastic. I hope the new carrier, will learn to respect the right of home owners to decide how their mail is delivered, and how their house is or is not marked. 

Owning a home is a pride I never realized I would feel. I just thought it would be a matter of fact thing.  I quickly saw that the effort of caring for a home, beyond just paying the mortgage, builds a sense of pride in the owner, at least for me.  We have our arguments, me and my personified abode, but overall I am proud that I saved up, and bought this house all on my home. 

I recall that when I was nearing the closing, I was terrified I would somehow end up over my head and lose the house in like 2 years. Having just passed 9 years of home ownership, I feel like I know myself more.  I have figured out solutions, learned to budget, learned what I like and don’t like, and I keep learning.  I love the quirks of my house, including my mailbox, which happens to be an old fashioned milk door.  I look forward to receiving mail, from awesome letter carriers, for years to come.

The end!

 

Why Bring Race Into This?

I shared a post on Facebook, to this article:

In a moment of sarcasm I wrote the post as “Man, oh man. That sounds about white.”

Someone on my facebook friends list (who will remain nameless in this post) commented the following: “Why bring race into this? You are white btw.”

I wanted to respond to that, but thought it merited more than a facebook comment.  My post was a sarcastic commentary not just on the race of the individual, but the gender.

I bring them both up, because they are part of “this”.  Justice in this country, is not delivered consistently. White men often get more lenient sentences than men of color. 

In cases of rape and sexual assault, the man usually gets the benefit of the doubt, and their future is often of more concern, than the justice or welfare of the woman. 

It’s such a prevalent issue, for so many women, someone started a post a while back about all the things they would do, if they could walk around with the freedom that men do. It went viral with women posting all the things that they would do, if they didn’t have to worry about being attacked by a man. At the same time men were reeling from all the #MeToo allegations and there was this collective outrage of how hard it is for guys to know how to hit on women etc. 

The reality is that men are often aggressive and entitled, when it comes to women. No, not all men. We are sure that you, reading this, are an angel. But many are. We are talking about a majority of the population. This really ends up being received by women as ridiculous, considering all the advice we get, to prevent being attacked or raped.  Don’t stay out late, carry pepper spray, wear a ring on your left finger, wear modest clothing, never leave a drink unattended, don’t drink too much. 

Men aren’t told to do any of this. Just women. The ring on the finger really gets to me. You have to pretend to be “owned” by a man, to prevent a man from feeling entitled to your time or your body.

Well, all of that online conversing, resulted in this fantastic ode, to what a scary time it is for guys, who don’t know how to relate to women, in comparison to what women go through.


To summarize this post…

Why bring up race? Because if that man had been a black man, he more than likely never would have been given home incarceration. He would have been put in jail with an exorbitant bail set, or no bail.

Why bring up gender? Because men have privilege and entitlement in our society, that women just do not get.

 

I highly recommend watching the documentary 13th (on Netflix), to learn about how racist our justice system is. Knowing the history, is important to improving things now and in the future.

Just to end this on a note of levity, I wanted to share this clip, in reference to the comment “you are white btw”, like I don’t know that.  I’ll leave it to the genius of Richard Pryor:

  1. Do my parents know???? 😂 Do I have to change my name to Becky? Dammit.
  2. According to white supremacists, since I’m Jewish, I’m not “really” white.
  3. My whiteness means I have undue privilege, and I choose to use that to highlight this stuff. I don’t want more than what others have. I want my friends of color to get the same treatment I get, in our justice system.A good example of this just popped up recently. A woman of color called 911, for help. When the police got there, they ended up forcing her to the ground and arresting her. We all know that if I had called, that never would have happened to me. Florida Cop Relieved of Duty After Video Emerges of Police Violently Arresting Black Woman Who Called for Help (~ The Root)
  4. White supremacy is crap. We are not superior. I don’t want race superiority. I want equality and equity, across race and gender.
  5. Being white doesn’t mean I shouldn’t criticize white people getting better treatment in our judicial system. It means I should. That’s called being an ally.

Thank you, for your time.

Let it Be Resolved: Resolutions Have Merit

Since it’s New Year’s Eve, some people will be making New Year’s resolutions. There will also be a number of “think pieces” telling people resolutions are bad. I think those pieces are bad, but that’s just me.  I have no interest in telling people what they “should do”. I also don’t like when these types of articles try to encourage people not to try.  In that vein, I thought I would break down the idea of making New Year’s resolutions, and why I revel in making them.

First off, yes resolutions can be broken. It happens, and it doesn’t make you a failure. New Year’s isn’t the only time resolutions can be made, but it is an opportunity. Resolutions are basically a commitment to change a habit, or to achieve a goal. Putting that into perspective means we can make them, whenever we want. We can do that tonight, or when it makes sense to start them. I love making New Year’s resolutions.  I also set various goals throughout the year. I like taking the opportunity to set resolutions for the New Year, because it’s a way to start the year off on a positive note of working towards positive changes in my life. We can always hope to change, evolve and do better. Why not use every chance we can get, to make that happen?

When I make resolutions or goals, be it for New Years or throughout the year, I do so with a couple of general rules, which I thought I would share:

    1. Don’t be hard on yourself. No resolution will be helpful to you, if all the resolution does is stress you out. It should be defined in a way that motivates you.It should be a positive goal, and one that lifts you up.

 

  • Make the resolution something reasonable. If it’s too steep of a challenge, it will just set you up to fail, and that kind of self-sabotage is not healthy or helpful. If you have a really big goal, break it down into sub-goals, and let each sub-goal be individual resolution/goals. Do one at a time.

 

 

  • Map out a plan. If your plan is to bring lunches into work, but you don’t shop for the groceries, or schedule time to prep those meals, it will be hard to achieve that goal. If your plan is exercise 3 times a week, consider putting 3 times in your calendar. Setting that time aside can help ensure you don’t subconsciously put it off, and end up at the end of the week, with 3 days of exercise still outstanding.

 

 

  • Give a reasonable timeline. If your goal is to lose 50 lbs, 1 month is not a reasonable timeline, and that wouldn’t be healthy. If it’s a health related goal, before your resolution start date (i.e. New Year’s Day), consult with your doctor to determine a healthy timeline. The other end of this, is to say that a timeline should exist. Having one, will encourage making milestones or phases of the goal/resolution, that should take place before the goal will be reached. Maybe that includes making an appointment to see your doctor, going to the appointment, and implementing the plan.

 

Having a deadline, can encourage you to get the ball rolling and keep it rolling. Not having some sort of goal completion date, can encourage procrastination, which I myself, am often having to battle. Just keep in mind, that as long as you are making progress, it’s ok to re-evaluate that goal date, and it’s absolutely ok to adjust it.  If your resolution timeline is 6 months, and at 4 months in, you see it’s going to take another 3 months, set a new completion date and accept that you are still working hard to achieve it.  It’s just a goal date, to encourage completion. That’s all.

 

  • Don’t start too many resolutions/goals at once. Having goals is great, but too many will be like adding ornaments to a Christmas tree. Eventually you weigh down the tree, and it will topple over. You’ll likely find more success with a few small goals, instead of a ton of big ones. A lot of small steps can take you far. Life is a journey, so a lifetime of small steps, can take you around the world. On the other hand, trying to take giant leaps, can result in injuries and set backs, and end up with you going no where.

 

 

  • If you want to be able to reward yourself for hard work, when a resolution or goal is met, make sure the reward is healthy. i.e. if your goal was to lose weight and the reward is cake, that might be a little counterproductive. Lost weight? How about a new piece of clothing? Quit smoking? How about a new piece of workout equipment, or making plans to go on a hike with friends and your cleaned out lungs?

 

 

  • Determine the best level of accountability. Some people think you have to share every time you go to the gym, or every resolution you are planning, with the entire world. Others don’t want to share any of it with anyone, until they succeed at the goal.  Both can be traps. I know, right?

 

Making everything public, can end up making you feel like there are so many people watching, it’s too much pressure. Not telling any one can make it easier to abandon the goal, because there is no accountability. Instead of having to do what those “think piece” articles say “everyone” should do, do what works for you. It’s ok if one way doesn’t work, but be aware of that, as you learn it. There are different levels of helping yourself be accountable.

  1. Journal your journey, from start to finish of your resolution or goal.
    1. This can be a hand written journal, typed, or video journal.
    2. There is no rule that you have to post this online or ever share it with anyone.
    3. Do what feels good, but not what will make you anxious or nervous.
  2. Share the goal/resolution with a therapist
  3. Share it with 1 or more close friends
  4. Share it with your facebook family
  5. Share it with the world, in a public forum of your choosing

The bottom line is this. Any chance to set goals, for bettering your life, is good. Just be sure you make it a positive experience. Set reasonable goals, reasonable timelines, and ensure the resolution, and who you share it with, are being planned in a positive framework, so they will be ones you want to embrace and not something you loath.

Good luck, and may the coming year be one of setting and achieving all you desire.

I Turn Around and am Surrounded By Love

So my Love and I are going to NYC, to celebrate my 40th birthday.  It’s the type of milestone most people generally want to avoid. Hitting that next decade, can prompt an existential if not mid-life crisis. While the existential, neurotic, musings are chilling with me lately, I’m hoping mid-life crisis is one I might avoid.  All in all, my life is pretty great, so I’m living it up.

We are going to NYC, to see P!nk on my birthday, at Madison Square Garden.  Seeing P!nk has long been near the top of my bucket list, but I never really looking into attending a concert. I figured the tickets and travel would be too much for me to justify spending.  Well, my Love surprised me with tickets, and we are off.  I’m pretty excited, and my partner in crime is going to get more than she bargained for, when I sing and dance along to the entire concert.

We won’t be in NYC for too long, but hope to do some tourist-y type stuff, while there.  Unbeknownst to me, my friends and family got together to make this trip even more epic.  I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone, for making this birthday so amazing, I might forget the small detail of my turning 40.

My family and friends contributed to the following, which is just overwhelming and wonderful:

NYC Souvenirs, Dinner on April 3rd, Birthday Breakfast, & Birthday Lunch  ~ Cathy, BJ, and kids
Pink Souvenirs and Birthday Dinner ~ Mom (Judie)
Metro Cards and LIRR Tix, and Adult Admission Tix to Rubin Museum ~ Mike & Cathy O’Keefe
Street Meat ~ Marisa
Empire State Building VIP tickets ~ Mom & Dad (Barb & Dave)
Birthday Dinner ~ Duffy
Marco Doggie Daycare ~ Lindsay, Joli, Ruby, Ozzie, and Man

I hope we are able to take plenty of pictures, of this grand adventure, as I hop over one of the 3rd rails of life, moving from 39 to 40.

I think it’s common to reflect on your life, at different moments, and to be struck by how different your life turned out to be, from what you once imagined.  I certainly had a different picture.  When I was a kid, I wanted to be a veterinarian, an astronaut, a ballet dancer and the 2nd female President (I knew you had to be 35, and thought we should have a 1st by then. I was so naive!).  Well, I might have went off that beaten, and perhaps un-realistic path, but that’s not the only thing I didn’t see coming.

I never realized that what would be more important than where I ended up, was who I ended up there with. No matter where I am, I have an incredible family, and some pretty amazing friends, plus a love to last a lifetime. I have my person, to share my life with, and I am surrounded by love.

Thank you all, for being in my life. Your love is overwhelming.

It’s Unavoidable, and When I Look Around I Want to Scream

It’s happening, and I can’t hide from it.  I am turning 40, next year.  I haven’t solved world peace, won a Pulitzer, a Nobel Peace Prize, an Olympic gold medal (ok that “one” was a long shot…). Nevertheless, 40 is coming at me fast.  That’s why, when I saw an article aimed at this precise existential crisis, I had to click it and read. I mean, generally it’s all fortune cookie wisdom, but you never know.  I still click on weight loss articles. I figure 8 of the 10 tips, I will have heard. One will be a new fad, and absurd, but one might be new to me, and have some merit.  I’m all about learning new things, or new ways to see old things.

This is the article I stumbled upon: 11 Things You Should Stop Doing When You Hit 40

Immediately, the tips were bothering me, rather than sounding applicable. First off, apologizing constantly, dressing for others vs you, obsessing over your phone.  These are not just things to notice when you turn 40. They should be addressed the minute you realize that you’re doing them too much.  It’s good to acknowledge when you are wrong, but constantly saying you’re sorry can create an environment where you are painting yourself as a mess, and that’s not a great way to present yourself.  The thing is, this isn’t something that is specific to turning 40. It’s good to notice this at any time in your life. I can handle all that, though.  It’s not a bad idea to remind people of these bad habits. It’s more to say, life is short, so don’t waste it living it for the approval of others.

Then there are some passages on kids, and you knowing what’s best.  One issue I have with all of this, is the assumption that all women have kids. The way it is presented, there is no alternate moral or lesson for women who choose not to have kids; or for those who sadly cannot. The article doesn’t acknowledge, in any way, that not everyone has kids. What lesson should we take, or can we at least be acknowledged? It would be nice, unless this is going to be explicitly geared towards women, turning 40, who also have kids, that the article make note of that. Not acknowledging that, makes the entire article a judgment that normal people turning 40 have kids, and the rest in the back, just sit there and be quiet.

I do wish we could transcend to a level, where an article like this would be about universal truths. Not just for women or men, not just for people who also have kids, but for anyone turning 40.  We are entering a new stage in life, and let’s face it together. Men, women, parents, and non-parents alike.  I get that we aren’t totally alike, but aren’t there common challenges we face?  If not, can we have articles acknowledge in the headline, or lede, that the article is geared toward one specific demographic?  I get that pitching it as universal, may garner more clicks, but it will also turn people like me off, if we click on links like this.  If I keep checking out articles, from one outlet, and they are pitched one way, but totally ignore my truths, I will eventually stop relying on that outlet.

The one tip, that pissed me off enough to want to write this post, was this one passage:

Before 2016, I was barely on Twitter. I had an account, but I just didn’t get the point.  A friend of mine was on there, but she would live tweet shows she watches, like Big Brother.  I’m a cord cutter, so that doesn’t really appeal to me.  Then the dumpster fire of the 2016 election kicked into high gear. Suddenly I was clamoring to follow Joy Ann Reid, April Ryan, Wapo, NY Times, Guardian, etc. I wanted to keep up with the news, campaigns, legislation, and any news of Trump being impeached (God, I hope it’s soon). I wanted to follow my representatives, and see what they were up to.

According to this little tip, at the age of 40, I should stop being politically active on social media.  Now, my facebook is mainly just people I know.  I was senior class president, in high school, so I have a lot of former classmates. Other than that, I have family, friends, co-workers and a handful of college friends. I do share some political stuff, but not too often.  Some of friends and family are not political, and I don’t have a need to alienate them. I do my best to keep my political activity to Twitter, but I really don’t think anyone should stop debating politics or standing up for their personal beliefs, especially because they reached 40.  Talk about a horrible tip, at any age.

I consider it actual patriotism, to participate in the political process. Much more than hanging a flag outside my house. We should embrace campaigns and being connected to our elected representatives. We shouldn’t eye roll, like it’s a badge of honor to put up with campaign ads.  It’s a small price to pay, for freedom. I’ll stop being political, when I’m in the ground. As long as I’m alive, thanks for your advice, but I prefer to participate in our democracy, for as long as we’ve got it.  I dare say, that’s the best way for us to hold on to it, and to preserve it.  Never stop being politically active, or engaging in politics. It’s how our democracy was founded.  No taxation, without representation. Representation can only happen, if we engage with our representatives, tell them what we want, and vote them out if they don’t deliver.  In the technological age, that we are in, connecting with our reps is easier than ever.  We can use @Resistbot and @Countable and most reps have twitter accounts, as well as facebook pages.

Whether you are 15, 18, 21, 30, 40, 50 or 80, it’s always the time to speak up for what you believe in.  It’s always time for you to stand up for your personal believes.  Whether in a march, in the voting booth, and on social media. Please never follow advice that tells you to stop participating in democracy. It’s the only way we will get to keep it, and preserve it for the next generation; whether we have kids or not.

Believe Me, Believer Her

I was hoping to be more active in writing posts during this election season, but being busy with my life got in the way.  I wanted to post more about my thoughts in response to the news that comes out of the Presidential campaign and the rhetoric that I am seeing on Twitter.  I have to respond to what I am seeing today, because its making me so disheartened.

Last night, two women, and then a 3rd (reporter), came out to the media. They disclosed their personal stories of being sexually assaulted by Donald Trump.  It was no shock to me that he immediately threatened to sue the New York Times, and even less of a shock that he’s telling people to “just look at her”. Of course he is going to threaten the press for publishing an account of someone standing up to him for his attacks against their person.  Of course he is going to shame the women he assaulted and claim that he wouldn’t do what they are saying, because they aren’t attractive enough.  I say of course, because his behavior is exactly what our Vice President, Joe Biden labeled it.  It is the definition of sexual assault and that of a sexual predator.

This hits home for me, because I have been raped and I’ve been assaulted more than once in my life.  Donald Trump would probably laugh at me saying this publicly.  He’d probably say “Just look at her”.  It’s his m/o. I’m over-weight. I’m unattractive. I’ve got nothing to offer.  Reduce me to rubble, and maybe I’ll stop having the confidence to speak up.  That’s what he wants to do to these incredibly brave women who are speaking up. He claims that if these incidents really happened, they would have spoken up at the time.

I’m writing this to tell you that’s bullshit.  When a woman (or a man) is sexually assaulted, it is a violation of power.  Asserting power over someone else.  That’s why it is predatory.  After that, victims are often threatened if they speak out.  In my case, it was a family member, a shrink, a “roommate”, a college hook-up (separate incidents of different degrees of assault).  I can’t imagine it being a boss.  I can’t imagine it being someone who is richer and more powerful, who can strong arm people and can just get what they want.  Talk about intimidation.  He is using his power to intimate women and it looks like he has a long history of doing this.

As for his own remarks about owning beauty pageants, so that he can “do whatever he wants”, this kind of thinking is not original or unique.  From everything I have seen, from my woman eyes, there are men who behave in ways that are sexually predatory. When frat parties are planned to separate girls from their friends and push alcohol and/or drugs on girls so they are more “pliable”.  When men corner women, making moves to get them alone, where they will have power and privacy to assault them. When men use their power to insist that “beautiful” women surround them and fawn over them.

All of this feels like it is a distraction from this election, but it is a huge part of it.  I know the graphics that came out this week, about if only women voted vs if only men voted.  It was literally a she wins vs he wins scenario.  Of course those graphics resulted in Trump supporters trending a hashtag for a call to repeal the 19th amendment. Can you imagine anything more horrendous to our democracy than repealing a woman’s right to vote? I feel pretty confident that will never happen, but something tells me a lot of Germans didn’t think Hitler would really kill millions of people.

I keep seeing polls going up and down, for Hillary and then for Trump, although less going up for him these days.  What worries me, is that the polls can be skewed.  They, for one, generally poll likely voters.  This election is definitely going to have a lot of unlikely voters, and they will make the polls look like lunacy, by the end of the day.  My hope is that people actually show up to the polls to vote for Hillary Clinton.  These polls also focus a lot on undecideds who then decide. I don’t get the rationale of having to think hard between the choice of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but c’est la vie.

Just as many of the endorsements for her have said, it’s not just because her opponent is so abhorrent. I was originally a Bernie Sanders supporter.  I also vowed to support the nominee, and I clung to my Sanders campaign support til the nomination happened.  Once it did, I gladly welcomed Hillary Clinton as the nominee.

The reality of any election is that you will likely never find a candidate that has everything you want your representative to have.  They will never agree with you on every issue.  But at the same time, we have the candidates in each election cycle, that we have earned.  In most election years, turnout is around 50%, even less in local election years.  That is of registered voters.  Many people who are eligible to be registered, don’t even bother to register.  I worked at the Board of Elections, and we did an experiment (unofficial) to time how long it took to fill out the registration form.  We must have done the test at least 10 times, filling out all information and taking our time.  It was an average of 1:30 minutes to fill it out, yet people can’t be bothered to do that, or show up 1 day (2 if there is a primary) to vote.  Talk about patriotism.  If you really looked at how many eligible citizens voted in local elections, you probably wouldn’t have 20%, which is considered a quorum.

With Hillary Clinton, she is more conservative, than what I look for in a candidate.  I am a left wing liberal.  I want to rescue the Chibok girls and help Haiti recover from the Hurricane.  I want to kneel with Kaepernick and stand side by side with #BlackLivesMatter.  I also recognize that there are many different issues that we face as a country.  These are complex issues, which sometimes intersect and sometimes don’t.  From international affairs (a big over-simplified bucket), education, infrastructure, security, health care, national debt, etc.

What really strikes me is the blind hate for Hillary Clinton.  I feel like it started when Bill Clinton ran for President in 1992.  I was only 14 at the time, so excuse me not fully recalling that time in my youth.  But I do remember that she wasn’t a demure wife. She was her own woman.  She was a lawyer, educated, and had her own opinion.  She was Bill Clinton’s equal, not his wife in the wings.  She broke a glass ceiling when she became the first lady, but didn’t act like a lady who’s job it was to just stand behind her husband and agree with his every word.  She had her own ambitions.  Yikes.  Ambitions.  How dare she!

I really think you could do an exercise in hypocrisy for everyone who is bent on never giving her a chance.  Take her resume.  Her work before being elected to Senate (leave out first lady, as that will be a dead give away).  Her votes in Senate. Not just on Iraq, but all the others.  Her work as Secretary of State.  If you take away her gender and her name, conservative Republicans would love that guy.  They’d be rallying around their golden child and Trump would have never been given this misguided spotlight.

I’d like to say I’m glad he’s been thrust into the spotlight, because it has shined a light on sexual predators and sexual assault.  I have to wait until November 9th to say that.  I have to wait until I have double confirmation, that Hillary Clinton is our next President.

I am excited to vote for her.  I’m thrilled to finally have a female President.  We have taken forever getting here. I’m giving her this term to see what she can do with this opportunity.  Can she help make $15 minimum wage a reality for all of those trying to live on minimum wage?  Can she really get our educational system to make college affordable to everyone, and not something that only happens if you have enough money, or take out enough loans?  Can she move our country towards renewable energy, in the speed that we need to, to combat climate change?  Can she stop DAPL?  Can she and will she ban fracking?  Can she and will she support organic farming and demand that products with GMO pesticides be labeled?  These are things I want, but believe me, I wouldn’t think for a minute not voting for her.

Even if she can’t get that stuff done, she is incredibly qualified to be our President, and none of the other candidates are remotely qualified for the office.  Hillary Clinton has had more mud slung at her in the last 30 years, than a pig at a trough.  Ok, that was bad.  Tried to come up with a new one, but my wit failed me.

I think she will preserve our Democracy, nominate good qualified candidates for SCOTUS, and keep us going in the direction of lowering unemployment, boosting the economy and strengthening our middle class.  I do believe she does champion the issues facing the lower/poorest class in our country.  Those who are not able to make it even pay check to pay check.  They rely on government assistance and social programs.  They deal with attacks that they are free loading, even though they literally have no other options. She has a history of working to represent the interests of the poorest of our citizens, and to look for solutions meant to empower and support all of our citizens.

So there it is.  My ramblings on what has been going on in the news this week, this Presidential election, and how I feel about it all.

Just a Reflection of My Perception

When I was young, we used to visit my grandparents, aunt, and cousin, on my dad’s side.  I would sometimes stay longer, particularly in the summers.  My aunt was a teacher, so she did academic things with my cousin and I.  We would go to the “back room” of my grandparents, and do geography lessons with the map that was on the back of the door to the room.  We had to watch the news and pick stories to write papers on.  Yep.  That was my summer vacation.  I’ll never forget when she had my cousin and I write the instructions for making a peanut butter sandwich.  We went into it, thinking “this will be easy”, and then realized what happens when someone takes your written instructions literally.

Years later, it wasn’t too surprising that I chose to study political science in college.  My dream was to be like Christiane Amanpour.  Originally, I wanted to do a dual major with journalism, but quickly found out that the journalism track at my school was more for regional news reporting, and my focus was definitely on political and social issues world-wide.  One professor told me my paper read like something out of New Republic. I was so flattered, until I realized that’s not what he wanted.  I graduated with a BS in Political Science, a second major in English Literature, and a minor in Philosophy.  This is really just a summary for those who stumble onto my blog.  This is my background, and even though I found a paycheck in IT as an application developer, my heart is still in being an aware citizen, helping not just participate in discussions of social issues, but to help frame the discussion.

I started this blog, because this election year is such an important year.  It is critically important for US citizens to wake up, start paying attention to our elected officials, and to those vying to be elected to represent us.  We have a lot going on in this country and the world. A lot of complex issues, concerning equality, the environment, and international relations with leaders of countries where we either have allies, enemies, and sometimes both.

I’m going to start writing articles (blog posts for someone who has interest in journalism, but isn’t being paid to do it), in the fashion of what my aunt taught me as a kid.  Pay attention to the news and write about what is important and why.  Hopefully my writing skills have improved some, since those days.  I don’t expect my blog to gain any huge following, but I have strong feelings about the candidates, the issues affecting our citizens, and how we as a species are treating each other globally.

To get it out of the way now, yes #ImWithHer.  I support Hillary Clinton and am so excited to vote for her in the general election.  It is past due for us to have a female President, and I hope we can flip congress to blue in November as well.  I want to see Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnel voted out.  I want to see Pence, Cruz, and Rubio shut down for good.  I want to see the rhetoric of #BlackLivesMatter get the traction it needs to affect real change in our policing and ensuring that all citizens have absolute equality.  I want LGBT rights to be secured in all states and to protect trans people from the hate of fear and ignorance.

I want people who make millions and billions to pay their fair share, and for those living in poverty to have real support, including mental health, so we can help them to heal and be provided real opportunity. I want our military budget to include real veterans support, because the first thing we should be doing, is ensuring that when they come home, there is NO red tape between them and the benefits they rightly deserve.

I am a bleeding heart liberal, who wants all Syrians to be able to go to school and not have a war in their schools, living rooms, and their hospitals.  I want to see people condemn Trump for the selfish narcissist he is, who only cares about his own gain, and not the interest of American citizens.  I want to see him defeated in November.  I want people to vote.

If there is one thing I would hope my blog will do, it would be to convince people they should pay attention to all candidates running for office in any district that they live in.  It would be to convince people that true patriotism is not waving a flag.  Its voting.  I want people to use logic and critical thinking in their debates of the issues.  I want people to hold candidates and elected officials to what they say, how they vote and what they stand for.  I want 100% voter registration and turnout, because we have no excuse for low voter turn out.  We live in a country that prides itself on our democracy, while not taking part it in.  I want that to change.  I want to help discuss the facts, so that we can shape the discussion around the truth, and engage our citizens in our democracy.

Thank you.

Billie Ferretotious Difranco 07.2000 – 01.2016

Billie Ferretotious Difranco.

 

She was my first MY cat. We had a family cat, when I was young, but she was a family cat. Even though I’m pretty sure she knew she was mine, she was still the family’s. Once I graduated from college, I got a cheap apartment. One day I was looking around and realized I wasn’t in college anymore. I could get a cat! My very own cat! I called my mom, because I knew she would be visiting soon and I knew she would love to go pick out a kitten with me. When we got to Lollipop Farm, it was packed. We signed in and had to wait in front of those in the queue ahead of us. I walked around to view the kittens and see which one I might like to adopt. I was really wanting a Persian or all gray cat. Not sure why, just what I wanted. Then I saw these 2 black kittens. A volunteer took them out of there 1 window display room, so the lady in front of us could see them. When the volunteer came back out she told us that one of the kittens had “kissed” the lady, so she was adopting that one.

I instantly forgot about the other cats I had seen. These 2 kittens had been checked out, and one was being taken. The other, presumably a sister, was being put back in the 1 window display cage to be left alone without her one friend. I couldn’t let her just be alone, so that was that. I had to adopt her. My mom drove home, so she could sit on my lap. Once we got inside, we started to try to come up with a name. My mom looked up at a poster on my wall and said “Billie”, after the photo of Billie Holiday. It was perfect. She was my Billie.

Within a week, I started to notice that every time she heard a noise (which was often in our city apartment), she would stand up on her hind legs and looked very much like a ferret. It was the cutest thing. She would just stand there and look around for the cause of the noise. I had to give her a full name, which took form of Billie Ferretotious Difranco.

She could jump from the floor to the top of the kitchen candidates in one giant leap. I would play with her, using one of those sticks with feathers and stuff hanging off the end. She would flip in mid-air and do it again and again. She was fierce and fearless. She would try to escape the apartment (which was inside a house) and run around the hallways, until realizing the apartment might be the best place, and then go back. Once, she woke me up while I was sleeping. Why is that notable? Well, I was sound asleep, and she did what she often did. She was walking around on my desk, and then decided to walk on the printer. The printer tray. Then it happened. The tray broke, and she went down with it. I woke up, saw what happened and after I stopped laughing, checked to see how startled she was. She had a fascination with printers (f%^cking lexmark piece of shit).

Billie loved when I would print something. She would stick her little paw in that printer, trying her damnedest to either attack the paper, the cartridge or the evil creature making that noise and movement. We moved around to many different apartments over the years, and finally into a home of our own. She was with me for 15 years. Through the big stuff, the small stuff, the good stuff and the bad. She was the happiness in any moment when she walked in the room to greet me, or I would find her snuggled in my clothes, or hiding somewhere.

She would come up on the bed and sleep next to me. I could put my arm around her and hold her like a teddy bear. A living, lovey teddy bear. She was the sweetest cat, and I was so lucky to get her to love her. She would meow and “talk” so much that calling her the lady who sings the blues was fitting. She loved to butt her head into me. We could head butt each other again and again. She loved it.

I’ll always miss her soft fur. I’ll always miss her meowing and telling me how hard it is to be her. I’ll always miss her love of ribbons, printers, and anything she can attack. I’ll always miss her purr, like a motorboat. I’ll always miss her big huge eyes. I’ll always miss my sweetness. I’ll always miss my Billie Ferretotious Difranco.