Author: Stephanie

When your Ride or Die Bitch, dies.

 

My Ride or Die Bitch died.

Ride or Die. Invented by bikers, adopted by soccer moms, or baseball moms, or dance moms. Adopted by suburban moms. Making mom friends is hard, doubly so as I moved here shortly after my first son was born and knew no one. A few attempts to join moms clubs failed miserably, they already had their crew and a new chick was not welcome thank you very much.

 

“It will get better when he starts preschool.” my mother in law reassured me one night when I confessed I was so lonely. In Los Angeles, I had true real girlfriends, the kind that are more family than friend and through facebook and texting we talked all the time, but I was still alone, in a town knowing no one and no one to talk too except my husband, in-laws and my toddler. And all he wanted to talk about was Yo Gabba Gabba. I am a person who needs her girlfriends and making great girlfriends has always been my superpower.

 

My mother in law was right, as she often is, and when my son Max started preschool there was a little girl in his class with white blond hair and aqua eyes and they took to each other right away. Her grandmother sometimes dropped her off and we chatted, then one fateful day her mother picked her up from school and that, as they say, was that. Her name was Kristen and she was everything I am not. Self-confident in an easy way, athletic, not- fussy. She rolled in in athletic wear, a headband and her hair up in a messy bun, she cracked a wry joke and we mated for life as friends right then and there. I don’t even know how our friendship progressed, but over those three years of preschool, we spent more and more time together joining our families for holidays and events. Texting every single day random bullshit thoughts and things to make each other laugh.

 

She was without a doubt and with no exaggeration one of the best human beings ever, and I wish you had known her because even a fleeting encounter with her left your faith in humanity restored. She was GOOD without being perfect, or precious, she was human and flawed and funny and just…ride or die.

 

She was always the first one to show up for a crisis and even better, the first to show up for a celebration. She had an endless energy, her moral code was strong, but she made no excuses for being human, her college days…well, let’s say that’s a story for another day. She was the product of two amazing, strong parents and I had never met anyone like her in the entire world.

Except one, who although totally different had the same balls-to-the-wall joy of life and relentless energy and code.

 

They both died of cancer. Carrie of lung cancer and Kristen of thymic carcinoma. The world is unfair.

 

Kristen’s cancer took her quickly, by the time the tumor was found it was large and pressing on her lungs. Chemo was scheduled and despite my trying to come and visit her after it, she would insist on showing up on my doorstep with milkshakes or something, wanting to get out and visit “while she could.” It never really occurred to me she would die, Kristen was as badass as they come, obviously she would kick cancer’s ass. Chemo worked and then it didn’t. So surgery was scheduled. I should have done more, we texted before she went in, and her family was there taking care of her, but I should have sent something funny to her hospital room. But where Kristen had endless energy, I was paralyzed.

 

She was at my hospital bed hours after my daughter arrived with steak tacos and champagne. Popping the champagne to celebrate woke my tiny newborn and she cried and we laughed and joked for the next three years that Piper would forever be traumatized by Auntie Kristen and champagne. The plan was, as soon as she was able to have visitors, to bring steak tacos and champagne to her hospital room. To pop that cork and make her laugh just enough but not enough to hurt her. Chest surgery is no joke. Instead, I was standing in the middle of Ikea when I got the call. She made it through the surgery and we were on cloud nine, but the cancer had spread to her brain and 24 hours later she was gone. The world went sideways and I’m not sure it’s righted itself yet.

 

Every day I miss her, I go to text her. So many things happen and she would just howl with laughter and she is not here to share them. She teasingly called her angelic-looking daughter with the long blond hair and aqua eyes “Regina George” because that girl has a wit that can cut with surgical precision. She’s a 9-year-old and she is stronger than I have ever been, and we teased but we love it. I want to tell Kristen that the little one she scared with the champagne is following in Regina George’s footsteps.

 

The other day Piper looked at me and said: “Mommy, Miss Kristen was your best friend.”

“Yes.”

“She died.”

“Yes, she did.” And then staring at me like Drew Barrymore in Firestarter my 3 year old said: “I’m your best friend now.”

 

Kristen would have fucking loved that. I can hear her laughter now. I wanted so badly to text her, but I can’t cause my ride or die bitch died and I am so mad about it.

 

Two days after she died my coffee maker flipped out. I pushed brew and the lights flashed and the beeps beeped and nothing happened. I hadn’t really cried, I was numb and talking to her family trying not to insert myself too much but wanting to be there all the time. I needed my coffee. Because even when your ride or die bitch dies kids still have to go to school, permission slips need to be signed, baseball games still happen, the world keeps turning. I lost my mind on that coffee maker. Pushing all the buttons, unplugging it and plugging it back in screaming at it in an ever growing hysteria. Finally, just sinking to the floor, banging my head on the cabinets and crying. Keening. Of course, it wasn’t about the coffee maker.  Eventually, my little daughter crawled into my arms and I held her tight and cried. She pulled my face up and just said “Miss Kristen?” Because three-year-olds are wiser than we give them credit for. I needed that cry.

 

My coffee maker had never done that before and it has worked perfectly every day since. If you believe in that sort of thing, and I kinda do, then that was my bitch KG forcing me forward, just like she always  did. I can imagine her laughing “that’ll make her really lose it! And she needs too.” and she’d be right. Perhaps “ride or die” goes beyond death.

 

As Mother’s Day passed I thought of her mother and her daughter, wanting to call and not being able to make myself because I knew I would be a blubbering mess, and disappointed in myself because not only would Kristen have called but she would have dropped off flowers before everyone woke up. “Thinking about you.” the card would have said. Instead I did nothing but miss her and wish I could be more like her without actually doing anything to be more like her.  “Come ON Stearns!” I hear her urging me to jump off the diving board or pitch a baseball, I am risk averse and she leaped in with a joyous freedom.

 

Reminding me of what Carrie once told me before cancer took her too quickly “You can’t fly if you don’t jump out of the plane!’ I had told her I would surely plummet to the ground and she laughed saying I’d get it eventually.

 

Kristen got it.

 

Maybe it’s not Ride OR Die. It’s ride and die, or ride through death… She might not be on this planet, I can’t text her every little thought and I can’t get the chime letting me know she had something to share, but she affects me every day. Even if I can’t call, yet. I will.

 

My Ride or Die Bitch changed my life, she showed me how making mistakes doesn’t mean I AM a mistake. She showed me so many things. My Ride or Die bitch checked out way to early, but I am still Ride Or Die for her and with her, until I die. And if there is an afterlife I bet you she will be waiting with Steak Tacos and Champs and giving me that devilish look saying “You like that thing with the coffee maker?”

 

Yeah, bitch, I did.

 

Ride till death, and then keep riding. 

Are you there Becky, Karen? It’s me, Stephie. And we need to talk.

 

As white women we occupy the most privileged place a woman can be. Yeah, we have our struggles and our fights to win, but we do have privilege. Part of that privilege is a presumed innocence. Aand when we need it, a victimhood.

Listen, I get it. We are the product of centuries of conditioning that people who are different are dangerous. That anything other than tears is an inappropriate response to any confrontation, no anger allowed for us! But then, of course, tears are over emotional or of course we must have our periods. It’s a no-win situation for us. But here’s the thing, those tears…they can and regularly are a weapon against black people.

So, Becky, Karen…me, let’s chat. The time has come and gone and come again for us to put our egos aside. No, we ourselves aren’t responsible for slavery, but we and every other white person reap the benefits of institutions and mindsets that were set in place then and still continue to this day. They are antiquated and wrong and it is on us to call it out and knock it off. Racism isn’t just big horrible things, it is as they say, a death by a thousand cuts and we must examine our own part in that, and fix our course.

Take for instance the white woman who attacked the black pregnant soldier and then CRIED that she was the victim. If the assault hadn’t been caught on tape, one hundred percent her white tears would have portrayed her as the victim, and the black soldier would have been seen as the aggressor. You even see her start to cry and play the victim to the cops on camera! Now for this women, it was a conscious decision. A tactic that has probably gotten her out of situations before. There is no excuse. But many of us may not even realize we are doing it. It’s a pavlovian response to cry in conflict for many of us, we may not know how that affects others.

After reading this there are no more excuses. We must be aware and rectify our behavior.

So, Starbucks, am I right? I live at Starbucks, I am the quintessential suburban latte loving mom. I am with all my girls at the ‘bucks on the reg. One time while we were there a white man took it upon himself to notice that my toddler touched more than one Peter Rabbit apple sauce and proceeded to scream obscenities and horrible things at me. The baristas tried to calm him down, other customers came to my defense as he called me ‘white trash’ and a ‘horrible mom’, and that’s the nice things. Now, I almost did cry. I was embarrassed my toddler had grabbed a bunch of the applesauces and was terrified at his anger and the vile things he was screaming at me. You know what the baristas did not do? Even though this man was threatening me and screaming at the top of his lungs? They didn’t call the police.

The two men who were arrested last week at Starbucks last week didn’t yell at anyone, they didn’t say horrible things, they did nothing but sit and wait, just like I do when I get there before my girls. No one has ever called the cops on me for that.

The cops were called because two black men sitting calmly waiting made a white barista uncomfortable. Black people being in a public space makes white people uncomfortable, and black people pay the price for that. Here is the thing, if you are uncomfortable because a black person is sitting near you then you need to sit with that discomfort and truly think about it. Are they actually doing anything scary? Probably not. Probably they are just trying to go about their lives doing such crazy things as wait for a friend to grab a coffee. Sit with it. Think about WHY you feel uncomfortable and seriously, KNOW it’s on you. It’s on me. It’s on US. Think about how if you are uncomfortable for -let’s admit it- no good reason, just because someone is black, think about how uncomfortable it is to be a black person in this current world. Now, I would not attempt to speak for them, they are more than capable of doing that, all we have to do is shut up and listen. In the past 24 hours, I have heard stories on twitter of people just trying to go to the store, eat lunch, get into their OWN HOME and being verbally assaulted or even worse, having the cops called on them. For walking in their own neighborhoods.

There is NO WAY to deny the people in the wrong are those (us) with racial bias that says “this person must be up to something to be in this neighborhood/Starbucks/grocery store/school”. Therefore it is on US to acknowledge it. To sit with our discomfort and NOT call the cops on someone in the store next to us just because they make us uncomfortable. Think of how uncomfortable we are making them! Read this thread of  Elon James White’s of what it is like entering a predominately white space. We are uncomfortable for ages old and non-realistic reasons. Statistically, we are more likely to be killed or injured by our own partners than a random black man.

We must start recognizing it, acknowledging it and then DOING something about it. Because our discomfort is costing people their lives and jobs and it’s unacceptable. Ladies, we need to get over ourselves, because our anxiety is not based in reality and it is WRONG.

Recently a friend of mine (this story is shared with her permission) was called into HR because someone had made a complaint against her. What was the complaint? She didn’t smile enough, she didn’t greet everyone with a joyous ‘Good Morning!”and that made this one woman, in particular “uncomfortable”. She was told she was doing a good job, she was meeting all her requirements, in fact her work was stellar. But this white woman was uncomfortable. Over several meetings she was  informed  they knew she didn’t like it there or them (she did like it there, and was just fine with them) It was suggested she needed some ‘black girlfriends’ to complain about the white people too. Then they started in, insisting she clock in though no one else on salary does. Keeping close watch on her and calling her in for any minor infraction, like being 2 minutes late for a duty though she was in fact helping someone at work and they knew it. Eventually the situation because untenable and she had to make a choice, for her sanity and to show her children what was right she let her job.

Because a white woman thought she didn’t like her, because she didn’t smile at her every morning. Since her expectations weren’t being met, surely this woman was at fault.Racism doesn’t need to be big and violent to  be destructive. The daily subtle stuff is almost worse, what could she do? Her concerns were laughed away, but in the end she still suffered the consequences. She, like these men at Starbucks, did nothing wrong. When was the last time you were followed around a store to make sure you didn’t shoplift? When was the last time you were accused of stealing an article of clothing at Old Navy just because you were wearing it, while BUYING more clothes? These things happen all the time and there is no excuse for us to be surprised by it any more.

A recent special hosted by Oprah featured photographs of lynchings and white people were SUPER upset about the photos. Not about the lynchings, but that the photos of dressed up white people smiling and cheering black bodies hanging from trees made them uncomfortable. Good. It should make us uncomfortable, the last known lynching was in 1982 and that was fucking yesterday as far as history is concerned. So, no I am not sorry if these photos made you uncomfortable, they should. Don’t look away from them. From our shameful legacy, and then realize that while we may not be hanging black bodies from elm trees, we sure do make the world more dangerous for those who just want to go about their lives.

You know who was the most uncomfortable? Those who were lynched, their families and their relatives who now look upon those photos and see their loved ones swinging. It’s brutal, its evil, and it is murder. We must reckon with our past.

 

There is no excuse to look away.None. From here on out, there is NO EXCUSE to be surprised these things happen. These things happen every single day.

 

The other day I held the door for a black woman, she looked at me like I had three heads, like that had never happened before. A white woman holding the door for her. Like things happen, a day or two later I read a thread on twitter (I will update when I find it) by a woman who had been bumped into by a white woman who then apologized. She said this was the first time it happened. Her feed was followed by similar stories.

White women. WHAT THE FUCK. Hold the door for whoever is behind you, or in front of you. If you bump into someone, say sorry. If someone passes you on the street smile and say hello. I don’t expect any praise for doing these things and neither should you…this is the very baseline of human kindness and manners.

Imagine if someone had simply said hello to those gentlemen? Imagine if we made an effort to notice when we are feeling uncomfortable in the presence of black people and KNOW that that is generationally conditioned racism?

 

No more being surprised by this. No more sitting quietly while it happens. When we know better, we do better. We must all be the starbucks patrons who stood up for those men.

It starts with us, and it starts with our children. White women, we need to get over this crap and lead the way. We are not white saviors, that’s gross, but we must not buy into the ages old soft racism that is dangerous to those around us. We must put aside our egos, and we must stand up for what is right.

It’s on us.

 

  • I am still looking for some of the twitter threads I reference here, I did not save them as they went past, so hold tight. I will update.

Uncomfy in spin class? Vaginal Surgery is the answer!

Oh my GOD you guys, do we have time to get our bits done before swimsuit season??? The audacity of heading out with the original equipment!

Dr. David Ghozland wrote a fantabulous article on his website called Labiaplasty For Comfort And Aesthetics in Spin Class. (you can read it here )

 

Thank God someone is finally addressing the reason I have never gone to spin class. It’s not that I am lazy, or don’t belong to a gym. Or am afraid of falling off a stationary bike for no reason and embarrasing myself Bridget Jones style. No, the main obstacle to my being a SoulCycle goddess is my labia.  

Lucky for me, and I am sure so many other’s whose labias shake their fists and say “no spin class on my watch, missy!” Dr Ghozland has the answer! Labiaplasty. And if you’re still not convinced that trimming off your labia will make spin class better (hey! You’ve already lost a few ounces!) he further supports his point that lopping off your lady lips is the way to go…cause lululemon. That’s right, ladies! You will look better in your expensive legging if you have less labia (I have not been able to find any articles on lessening the male genitalia in order to make spin class more comfortable and easier on the eye). Or rather than a painful surgery, you could, I dunno, wear a long shirt? Shorts? But if you are going spend all that money on fancy leggings, I guess what you want isn’t comfort, or support, what you want for reals, is everyone to look at your vajay and awe in it’s glory. If so,  what you need is a facelift for your tootie!

 

He also cites that there are 13 SoulCycle franchises in the LA area alone, so no wonder it’s trending. Don’t you know the SoulCycle seats are often uncomfortable and labiaplasty can help with that?

 

Or SoulCycle could fucking buy some more comfortable seats.

 

Let’s be honest. This is a made up issue. On a daily basis, though seeing many women in many leggings in my life I confess I have spent a stunning lack of time even noticing anyone’s area. Am I wommaning wrong? When I comment on how cute my friend’s new leggings, am I remiss in not saying  “Your vulva looks AMAZING in those new LulaRoe Celtic Knot leggings !” Most people’s lady bits don’t look like a porn stars. Let’s just start there. Nor should they. Each person is a different and just fine the way they are. A male audience member who once saw me in a production of HAIR took it upon himself to inform me of his thoughts on my body- bits and all- and what he found likable and what displeased him. Because obviously, he had the right too. And obviously, this would be important to me. Especially since he was 60 feet away in a dark theatre lit only by an on-stage fire in a barrel. Even if he had been front row center, what makes men think this is acceptable, and what made me and so many other women who have experienced similar verbal vaginal dissections not haul off and slap the shit out of them? We should do more calling out (or slapping) of men when this happens and less altering our bodies to please them. They are never pleased.

 

But wait! there’s more!

 

I had to click the when the article comes across my Facebook timeline. Knowing I would rage. How can anyone resist the clickbait headline? The new must-have for young women celebrating big birthdays is no longer boob jobs or nose jobs, it’s labiaplasty!!  Perfect for the girl who has everything! How will this play on My Super Sweet Sixteen? Will they wheel the girls off to surgery wearing a tiara straight from the party while their guest toss flower petals at them? Will they chauffeur her home from the hospital in their brand new car while being serenaded by Ariana Grande? Please don’t let there be an unveiling…I am completely heartbroken that these young girls feel the need to want to have their vaginas tightened and their labias shortened. I just want to scream into the universe WHAT THE TUCK EVERLASTING. Look, I get that the world is messed up, but this??? This really messed up. What parent signs off on this? “Happy Birthday! You were perfect the day you came into this world but now you’re sixteen and the other day you mentioned you don’t look like the girls in porn ‘down there’ so, we are gonna get you all fixed up!”  Teen boys watch porn, I know, shocking development. But now teen girls are too and they are learning quickly that not all vaginas are created equally, especially Franken-Vaginas.  And God help us, they feel insecure about their vaginas and how boys will feel about them. I want to tell these girls their bodies are beautiful just the way they are. But I don’t think heading over to the high school and telling each young women that walks by, “Hey girl! Your vagina is perfect just the way it is!” is an appropriate way for any adult to spend their afternoon.

 

How do we live in an age where everything is public, including our private parts without comparison being the thief of joy? I mean, do these parents who sign off on this need some personal reassurance? Are they living some weird past insecurities? Or were they shamed at SoulCycle?  Cause, just for the record, ladies, your labias are lovely and you know what to say to any man (or woman) who says differently.

 

Now, I don’t want to judge any adult woman. Some of our cha-chas have been around and seen some things, perhaps had a few babies and maybe, just maybe you want to get it tightened and that is your business. Your lady business. None of my business. Maybe you’ve just never liked your Altar of Venus and want it nipped and tucked, then I have your back! Your body, your choice. Or, maybe you’ve had a trauma and this is medically necessary in which case you go girl, you go. Seriously though, and I mean this will all my heart, ask for the good drugs and lots of them.

 

And if SoulCycle and Lululemon makes you want surgery….take yoga, in joggers.  If a man wants you to do it, take everything.

I was not there. A Mea Culpa from a white girl from whitesville

Ferguson

Yesterday I took my six-year-old son and we took the Metro down to the March For Our Lives. If the first Women’s March was cathartic and the second energizing, then this march was inspiring. Beyond inspiring. There weren’t words. This march was far more intersectional than the Women’s March. Though my little pocket I happened to march with was quite diverse (by chance, I went with another white suburban mom to the first and with my husband to the second) overwhelmingly it was…embarrassingly white. My friend Danielle and I even remarked on it as we applied gold glitter uterus tattoos to our cheeks and carried our INTERSECTIONAL FEMINISM NOW posters printed from the ACLU.

It was cliche. Don’t get me wrong it was a life-changing experience, for me and nothing can negate that. Not even self-reflection.

I came home from the march yesterday, emotionally exhausted. As Emma Gonzalez stood on stage silent first we were quiet, then the weeping began spreading through us, people took care of one another, many holding strangers as they became emotional, a man behind me in a blue do-rag covered his face with his sign, to hide emotion. I held my baby to me and just cried.  Someone down the way began chanting “Vote them out!” And that spread for  bit, but then we quieted again, peace signs for the older generation and Katniss tributes from the teens (and me cause, hello? Girl power) starting going up, along  tears as we rode the roller coaster of being among almost a million people held captive in silence by gun violence.

Of course, I went on Twitter because is anything really real if it’s not on twitter? I saw tweet after tweet saying  “Where were you when black kids were taking to the streets? ” and ” We have been protesting this shit for years, where were you?” The authors were filled with rage, and that rage is righteous.

It was a  gut punch. Because I was not there. And the truth hurts. I’m an extremely progressive liberal. I write op-eds, everyone knows I am a loud mouth Nasty Woman and knows where I stand. I donate money and time to causes I believe in. I write letters and postcards and call my reps I have hard conversations with family and friends, I vocally call our racism and demand our media do better.

But still, where was I? I was at home with my kids.

When Baltimore erupted after the murder of Freddie Gray I could have been there in 30 minutes. But I wasn’t. Sure, I was tweeting like crazy, amplifying black voices and sobbing with fury but I was not there.

I wasn’t on the street. It wasn’t until the Women’s March that I took to the street, it’s my regular thing now..but before? Nah. I grew up in Boulder, Colorado, possibly the capital of political navel-gazing, there were always protestors on the greens of the County Courthouse and I thought they were pathetic. As a teen I thought,  get a job, hippies!  When I moved to the Bay Area we didn’t protest, we partied. In Los Angeles? We worked…and partied. No protesting. I hadn’t thought of protests in decades and protestors to me meant white people in dreds and tie-dye banging drums on the idyllic courthouse lawn. Get a job. and wash your hair.

But then…Trump happened and though I was involved in progressive causes, suddenly the America I had taken for granted, was in my face sliding away. Just like that, I was marching.

But my America was, always had been different from others. While I knew it intellectually, peripherally, now I felt it viscerally. “We will survive this!” people say, and I think “People haven’t survived this already”

Awareness is a funny thing, I was aware before…but there are layers and layers and layers of awareness. Each one aches because how could I have NOT known before? We are only as aware as the information we have access too and I had more access than most, but still, there were atrocities happening right under my nose and I had no idea.

None of this is an excuse, or an attempt to center myself, or whitewash it. It is my mea culpa.

I grapple now, in this time of labor pains amongst us on how to speak out the right way. How do I do it without centralizing myself? How do we step up and speak out without inadvertently assuming the white savior role? (Can you hear the smallest violin playing for me?)

The landscape is changing and that is a good thing, and (cry me a river) sometimes it’s hard to get it right. For instance, I had been using POC and was corrected and told to use black people when talking about, you know, black people. I was embarrassed but I have no ego about this so, easy breezy. Using the right nomenclature for any group is a given once you know what is right. I was wrong, that’s an easy fix.

But reconciling the past, and having NOT shown up….that’s much harder. All the past. From the dawn of my ancestors landing her in 1631. That, is much, much harder. And I’ve decided the only way is brutal honesty. With myself, and with my kids. About everything.

So, where was I? Sure, this march was planned and I had time to put it on my calendar while many are not and I’d need someone to watch the kids and blah blah blah…or are there other marches planned and I am not tapped into where they are being publicized?

Whatever it is the brutal truth is I didn’t show up for Freddie Gray because I was scared. Not of the protestors, but of how the police treat the protestors. I can see with my own eyes how they roll out the military vehicles and escalate the situation. And I am scared of that. I am a coward. Because of course, every single person who is on the ground in Baltimore, in Ferguson, in Sacramento just this week is also scared. But they’ve been marching for their lives for centuries and that will to survive, to be heard, is stronger than fear.

I know that now in the safest and sweetest of ways. I have been gently lowered into marching for our lives, coddled by cops who smiled at me, and people who welcomed me. I never felt in danger at any of the marches I’ve attended and only once has a cop so much as snapped at someone near me. Yesterday I watched the National Guard take selfies at their tank-like car parked to block the street. It was, in a word, adorable.

But tank-like cars like that have plowed right down streets of protestors before and will again. And I think we know why.

So where was I? Scared as shit of being run over by those tanks. And that is no excuse.

Ferguson

It is no small thing that the path to this protest filled with cute white kids, from a good school district leading the charge is paved with cute black kids who were ignored, many also from good school districts. They sounded the call and we did not, could not or worse, would not hear.

I’m so fucking ashamed of us and so sorry.

I saw the media show picture after picture of cute white kids holding signs and I thought…I was there. There were TONS of black kids, kids of all colors and ethnicities, with yarmulkes, with turbans, kufis, hijabs all with amazing signs. Media, can you be bothered to showcase them?

The kids are not going to wait for us to get this right, as evidenced from the March yesterday. They’re not going to let us get away with showcasing only white kids. Working to protect only white kids.

I am sorry.

Perhaps the best way for us to reach some goodwill is for people who look like me to show up and shut up. To lock arms and be silent except to join in the collective cries.

Being there in spirit is not enough now, it never was. I need to be there, arm in arm with you. Because you do matter to me. I need to get over the fear. There is no other way.

We have to show up. I am late. I am sorry. It’s not enough by a longshot.

I am sorry I wasn’t there. I was ignorant and blind to it. And that’s privilege.

If women are leading the resistance, then black women are leading the resistance. Listen to black women. No one knows how to march for their lives like black women. I am in awe and still mortified that this is a country where this is their normal. Where a mother has to take her son around to introduce him to her neighbors and say “This is my son, he lives here.” Because being a black person in your own backyard with a cell phone can be a death sentence, but shooting up a high school with an assault rifle marked with swastikas and you get arrested gently. If you’re white.

This has to stop.

I was not there. I will do better.

 

 

On the matter of the Parkland Shooting

 

I’ve been at a loss for words the last few words these past few days. Which, for me, is a strange place to be. I  want to write about that racist elf, Jeff Sessions, I want to write about Black Panther and how I can’t wait to see it and it’s disheartening to see white people either fetishizing or saying it’s “too political”. I want to write about the latest indictments and what that means…but I cannot find anything in my heart right now, no snarky, funny take on anything.

All I hear are those gunshots  and screams ringing through the classrooms and halls of Stoneman Douglas high school. All I see is the bloodied broken bodies of children, barely beginning their lives, laying on the cold tile floor. I see these brave teens picking up the mantle and publicly calling out grown-ups who have failed them.

Jennifer Ansbach tweeted “I’m not sure why people are so surprised the students are rising up. We’ve been feeding them a steady diet of dystopian literature showing teens leading the charge for years. We have told teen girls they were empowered. What, you thought it was fiction? It was preparation. ” It’s true. They know this story. The adults have led us into a dysfunctional and cruel world and it is up to the teenagers to pick up the fight and put it right. These are the kids who grew up on Hunger Games, on Divergent. And if school shootings are the Hunger Games then Emma Gonzalez is Katniss.

A strange thing happened when I became a mother, I suddenly felt like all children are mine. And so, though she isn’t mine, I worry about Emma Gonzales. Who’s immediately historic speech has placed her front and center in this fight. She is now the face on the poster, the tough young woman on the news, the subject of slander on the internet already. I want to step in and protect her, all of them, from the blaming and trolling. I want to give a verbal kick to those who are grief policing them. They’re not mourning properly. They’re not grieving properly.

This is how they are mourning. This is how they are dealing. This activism and taking on the world is how they are honoring their fallen classmates.

We aren’t home with these children when it is quiet, when the sun goes down. We don’t know how a loud noise may send their pulse racing. How they may have nightmares, or be unable to sleep at all. We don’t know if they are constantly on edge or if at the moment they are numb. We don’t know how they may feel when they are all alone. We don’t know.

What we do know is they are not alone, students all over America agree with them, they don’t want to be slaughtered at school. And they will vote, sooner rather than later. I cannot wait till the entire Stoneman Douglas Survivors succeed in making our world a safer place.

I will listen to those who cry that having their guns taken is more tragic than having their children ripped away violently.

I will be happy to send them my thoughts and prayers.

Guns, my father, and knowing sometimes people don’t come back.

My dad. My middle, Huckleberry, sits and waves just like this.

 

The gunshot, the blood, the murder itself is a heavy stone dropped from a great height into our lives. Immediately everything is violently displaced. Though we continue existing, though what has been displaced settles… the ripples pullulate outward for decades. Generational repercussions lessening until it’s simply family lore. And even then, there is still pain.

A gunshot ended my father’s life when I was a young toddler. A blank canvas exists where my memories of him should be. My father figures pieced together from television shows and friend’s father’s over the years. I can’t recall his smile or the scent of him as he held me close. No sound of his voice rings in my ears. I am left with no wise words or funny dad sayings to repeat to my children now. He is a story. A tale of death.

My mother and grandparents, and aunt and uncle- the first ripple- don’t speak of him. Not much anyway. More now, that decades have passed. For survival, I believe they detached. We do what we have to to keep going. I grew up knowing very little of him. Perhaps it was too painful to share him, to see his pictures, to keep any part of him with us, so for their survival he was banished. His body cremated so there is no grave, in fact, I do not even know what happened to his ashes. This hurts. I would like to know. I searched for things to make him REAL when I was young. And there was nothing. Nothing but a violent death, a trial, a man living in a prison responsible. As I grew older and wiser I searched out more and more details on the one thing I had; his death. I know too much of what happened to my father, and not nearly enough of what made my father my father.

I was raised in the aftermath of a tragedy, a news story, a made for Dateline murder. I wasn’t shot. I feel the ripple effect every single day.

When his murderer was executed; a new ripple was created for me. For this was the first tangible thing that happened to prove my father was more than a story. And what a horrible thing that was.

As a child I often felt detached, a watcher of a movie of my life. It took a kitten, stray and depending only on me to break that barrier. Now I have children and there is no barrier and they feel a ripple everyday. They are far too young to know the details of their grandfather’s death, but they know he is gone since I was a baby.

They know they will be told I love them every time we say goodbye, they know I have hugs and kisses and reassurances for them every I drop them off at school. Even on days when a school shooting isn’t in the news. (Do those days exist anymore?)

I try to lessen the effect on them. The ripple. I try to give them the I love yous, without telling them every time I let you go I think I will never see you again. Because I grew up with that. Everytime I said goodbye to anyone I simply assumed it would be the last time I ever saw them. Because it happened. Because it happens. Because yesterday parents said goodbye to their kids and they will never see them again. Because yesterday 17 children said goodbye to their parents, to brothers and sisters and they will never see them again.

The one thing I have is knowing that my father died standing up for what was right. There is a clear, specific cause and effect for us. I ache every time someone says these tragedies are senseless. These children, these deaths…they’re not senseless, we simply choose to be blind. We refuse to tackle the perfect storm of toxic masculinity, supremacy, lack of mental health care and being able to buy an assault weapon at Walmart easier than getting a driver’s licence or adopting a rescue pet. There is sense behind their deaths. It’s a terrible sense.We must not look away.

These children’s deaths will ripple for generations, those who did not die are still wounded, their children will be, their grandchildren will be. And unless we do something, soon everyone in America will be caught in the maelstrom.

And no offence, but I don’t want you here. I don’t want anyone else here with me.

 

Opinion: Everyone Should Move On From Telling Hillary to Move On.

 

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton arrives with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for the third presidential debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Another day, another OpEd telling Hillary she should go away. It is so annoying that she reminds us constantly by existing that we elected a maniac. I mean we already told her to get lost and start knitting. It’s winter and we all need socks, so what is she doing with her free time? Then again, knitting is kinda cool, so it’s too good for her. She should really go somewhere with high humidity and only be allowed to wear a hair shirt.

Why does she insist on being so here and literate, and now that she is unleashed from campaigning she is funny and charming? What is that about? The nerve of that woman, I swear.

Another thing, how dare she even think that Comey or Russia or the gutting of the Voter Rights Act or unconstitutional gerrymandering have anything to do with her loss? I mean, sure we have all the data and male pundits and statisticians have said it, but how dare she not simply take all the responsibility? She should get herself to a nunnery for some solid soul searching. Where is her mea culpa? Why won’t she lay prostrate and let us abuse her and blame her for letting us down? When will she walk through the streets like Cersei while we cry shame! You let us down by 79,000 votes in the exact right districts! SHAME!

Who does think she is giving inspirational speeches encouraging us and raising money for down-ticket Dems? Encouraging women to run for office? Honestly. Its almost as if she thinks she still has something to contribute even though she isn’t president.

Now comes the paragraph with the qualifiers; because the rules that are you are not allowed to like, speak, or write about Hillary Clinton without qualifying. Hillary: Perfect, no. Late on marriage equality, yes. Wrong on Fracking, yes. That Crime Bill when she was First Lady, am I right? Etc etc etc.  She was, as will no doubt be included in her obituary, a “flawed candidate”. Something, by the way, every single person who ever has or will run for president will be.  Thomas Jefferson purchased a 14-year-old girl for a” love” slave, Donald Trump bragged about sexual assault on tape, Nixon was a crook, Bill got a BJ. But do go on about how flawed Secretary Clinton is. Again and again, she is expected to be perfect and to be punished for falling short. For being human.

She should go away. If you lose the presidential race you simply disappear. Like John McCain, Mitt Romney, Al Gore and John Kerry. They were never heard from again. Ghosts.

Knitting from the beyond….

Hillary Clinton has something to say. If you don’t like it, change the channel, but I myself and tired of being told to be quiet, so I am here for her voice.

 

Doritos for Girls!

 

 

I wanted to write some funny bit about the lady Doritos, cause let’s be honest there is so much comedy there, I mean come on.

 

The least of which is that non-crunchy doritos are just corn tortillas, and I will eat those bad girls wrapped around taco junk like WHOA. And I will eat them in fluffy slippers while weeping over the Notebook, hidden in my pink bedroom with my canopy bed and and write in my journal. I’m also making a fake Facebook account so I can stalk that one  high school boyfriend. OH! I super hope they make pink lady Doritos (Doritas? Dorititas?) for Breast Cancer Awareness month! The only thing better than delicate girly corn chips is pink girly corn chips!

If you make ANYTHING pink we will buy it. Right ladies? We are like pink hammer? Gimme! Pink TV’s? I am a grown up so YES! Oh! Can it have a bow? Maybe kitty ears. We love animal ears on everything! Or Pom Poms!

But as an eating disordered woman, one who is healthy now, this just hits me right where it counts. I remember distinctly seeing Scarlett O’Hara being told to eat before she goes to the barbecue at Twelve Oaks. Because the men can’t see you eat. (now, this is probably the LEAST horrible thing in that flick but stick with me) Order a salad, don’t finish your meals on dates, we are taught. By the 4th grade most girls on are on a diet or believing they need to diet. Skipping lunch becomes the norm as the only thing worse than being weak enough to need food is the shame of letting people see how weak you are. Your shame is compounded if you make noise.  A Diet Coke and a cheese stick for strength is all any girl needs.

We teach our girls to be small and quiet, complacent and pliable. To watch our tone and to not be too loud, too angry or in general too much. Now you want to tell me that eating Doritos is an affront to femininity?  Their marketing idea is making chips easier to hide and quieter to eat? Hard pass on that. Junk food already has shameful connotations, sneaking a chip, we shouldn’t be eating this, etc. etc. etc.

It may seem like a cute gimmick, well a stupid gimmick but it reinforces a very strong force on us and our girls. And it sucks.

So you’ll forgive me if the idea of non-crunchy secretive doritos made to fit in your purse doesn’t fill me with glee. Did they not fit in purses before? Are mini bags a secret only mom type women are privy too? I have three kids, at any given time I have a bag of chips…somewhere. Ladies without children, lean in, let me tell you a secret…Doritos come in little bags. You can get them at the store or even in vending machines. I know right, this is BRAND NEW INFORMATION.

 

We don’t need feminine chips. We do need feminine products for lower income girls. We need workplaces free of sexual harassment. We need female leaders who will speak for us. We need male leaders to view us as humans.

The idea that we eat Doritos too loudly and we should be ashamed of that?

We don’t need that.

 

 

Let me fat in peace

 

Yesterday Cardi-B took to instagram to comment on her weight. It was the insta heard round the world. Her video clip will certainly go down in history as it contains one of the greatest sentences ever uttered by a human.

 

It will be entered in the quote hall of fame along with:

We have nothing to fear but fear itself.

That which does not kill us makes us stronger.

Let me fat in peace.

While it’s true that as a performer Cardi-B’s image is in play with her career, but only female artists ever field questions about weight, and of course if they gain weight surely it must because they are pregnant. Cardi-B speaks for us all when she says, hell no, let me fat in peace. Even in the midst of the #MeToo movement and #TimesUp she gives us a good reminder (and a comeback I wish I had thought of, to be honest) of how every day women’s bodies are still for public consumption. I heard a lot of comments on Justin Timberlake last night, some valid, some hilarious and so wrong, but not one on his body and whether it was in and of itself acceptable. Women artists are not given the same respect. Cardi-B’s worth as a performer or a person is not lessened by an extra 5. Let the woman fat in peace!

For now, body shaming-along with slut shaming, which Cardi-B is also no stranger too, is the first weapon in the arsonal when women are too strong, too powerful too…much. There is nothing a woman can do that a man must comment on.

 

May we all fat in peace. May we all thin in peace. May we exercise in peace or relax in peace. May we all wear tie die or Chanel in peace. May we wear make up or not in peace. May we run households or countries in peace.

And pass the nachos cause right now, I am gonna fat in peace. And I dare anyone to say anything about it…

When they tell us to ‘smile’


Feminist Baby knows how to deal with this aready.

By now it has happened to you, if not it will. Some man or even the White House Press Secretary will deem your face unacceptable and insist you rearrange it to their liking. 

 

You might be walking down the street, to school or to identify a body – whatever, and some man will suddenly cry “Smile! You’re too pretty to frown!” or some variation of the same theme. It doesn’t matter if you’re dressed to the nines or in sweats and Ugg boots, men always feel free to comment on our appearance and how it somehow should be altered to make their world a prettier place.

It won’t even matter if you are at the Women’s March, some man will say “Free fuck Trump souvenirs! All you have to do it give me a smile!”

You may want to punch him in his smug probably unshaven face, a completely valid emotional response, or perhaps just scream an obscenity at him. You’d certainly be warranted. Maybe you, like most of us, give a small reflexive smile, all while wishing you had a foam capsule hidden in your cheek to suggest you have rabies and he is next. Despite the fact commenting on someone’s appearance is rude to begin with, we have been trained to take it, lest we ourselves appear rude. But enough with that. I suggest we all take a deep breath and employ all the weapons in our arsenal. Including our smiles.

 

To get you started, here are a few inspirational come-backs you can use.

 

Go for the gut:

 

-It’s just that smell…is that you?

-It just seems wrong to patronize the socially challenged.

-I don’t smile at ugly people

-Your fly is down, and there is nothing there you want to show off.

– Drop and give me twenty.

-Your mama must be so proud! Be sure to tell her when she tucks you in tonight.

 

Dark responses :

 

-Smiling feels wrong when I am about to kill you

-I lost my smile in the war

-Sorry, you remind me of my uncle that  touched me in the bad place

-I am just waiting for the results of my biopsy.

– Give them a big creepy smile with dead eyes and just stare at them. A little too long is just the right amount.

 

Hit him with TMI:

-Sorry, it’s just that my dog died and these infertility hormone shots are just making me crazy. Plus I feel like I am going to puke at any second, and I can’t eat anything but all I want is a tuna fish sandwich. Do you like Tuna? You seem like the kind of guy that like tuna but rarely gets it….

-It’s just that my uterine lining is sloughing off and it feels like the physical embodiment of that time this guy that looks a lot like you made me sit through a Lord Of The Rings marathon.

-I have nerve damage in my face. I was rendered incapable of smiling by men who think I am here to make their world more aesthetically pleasing.

– *Burst into tears*

 

Snarky

-Why, are you gonna give me a cookie?

– That never occurred to me!

Smile big, start skipping and singing

-What? What? (pretending not to hear)

– Thank you for reminding me I am only here to please you.

 

Depending on my mood these are the two favorites I use on a weekly basis:

 

-*Waving hand like Obi-Wan* I am not the woman you are looking for.

-Awe. Bless your heart.

 

Then go buy yourself a latte or a bloody mary. You deserve it for not burning it all down. And if you want to smile a self-satisfied smile while you drink it, go for it.