Are We Seriously Quaran-Competing?

“There will be so many times you feel like you’ve failed.  But in the eyes, heart, and mind of your child you are super mom.”
~Stephanie Precourt

I read an online article a week or so ago, maybe longer, (is time even a thing anymore?) with the headline 37 Things to Do Before the Lock-Down Ends.

I’m not sure what I expected when I read through the list, but if I was looking for something, I didn’t find it.  I walked away feeling more disappointed than inspired.

There were a lot of cleaning and organizing projects recommended, which are all well and good, but I suppose I was hoping for more.  Like, ideas that fell somewhere between  See if You Can Sit Long Enough to Convince Your Fit-Bit That You Died and Write the Next Great American Novel.

To be honest, most of what was listed are things I spent my pre-coronapocalypse life doing.  I’m a bit, um, OCD’ish, so my house already looks like no one lives here, and the only thing I have left to donate are organs.

I can make my own bread and my eight-year-old commandeered my Spotify account a long time ago, so I’ve already got all twenty-seven (yeah, you read that right) of his carefully cultivated and labeled playlists downloaded on every one of my devices.

As for the rest of the suggestions, meh….I’m too busy learning how to do second grade math and trying to snag curbside grocery pick-up time slots online to start my own You Tube channel, or learn a new language.

Really though, I think the issue is that I can’t live in someone else’s list.  I’m desperate to find ways to make this time count for something that matters; in ways big and small.  I want to be able to look back on this time with some gratitude for the way its forced me to slow down.

I want to come out of this feeling like I’ve learned something from the experience and that I’m better for it.  I want to feel like I contributed to something.  

But, I also I think I’ve come to understand that while we are all in the same storm, we aren’t in the same boat.  How we are each spending this time, how we have the ability and the means to spend this time, has to be about feeding our own individual needs and deciding for ourselves what is purposeful, or, let’s be honest, just base level doable and tolerable and necessary some days.  And shouldn’t that be enough?

No.  The answer is no.  At least not if you’re a parent.

Because apparently, there are some people….and let’s be honest here, we women mostly….who can’t even let a pandemic happen without the need to turn it into a parenting competition with defined quarantine philosophies and systems.

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Listen, I have never understood the mommy wars.  Who-TF is winning?  Is there a score card somewhere to refer to?

Are the Helicopter moms trailing the Free Range moms because their kids don’t know how to hail a cab, or throat punch a stranger?  Are the helicoptered kids destined to become adults who are easily lured into curtained conversion vans with signs advertising free candy?

Are the breast feeding moms raising super human children?  The kind who only get into Ivy league colleges and are immune to every disease that has ever diseased, while the formula feeding moms have children who wear Velcro shoes into adulthood and suffer from eternal ear infections and adult diaper rash?

Side note:  Has anyone considered breast milk as a cure for COVID-19?  Can’t you use it for everything from sunburns and wrinkles, to bio-fuel?

Are the Working-Outside-The-Home moms lapping the Work-At-Home/Stay-AT-Home moms (I don’t even know what the acceptable PC term is anymore), because studies show their kids are more independent and can go with the flow and cook a four course meal by the time they are five, and balance the family checkbook, AND take the family car out to pick-up milk and cereal and wine by aged ten?

OR, are the WAH/SAH moms screaming, “Eat my dust” out of the moon-roofs of their mini-vans, because their kids know what it means to be really loved?

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And what’s the prize, assuming someone is declared the winner at some point?  Is there a trophy, or a cash prize?  Or, is turning out the winning breed of child the prize?  And when we will know who won?  When adults stop complaining about all the ways in which their parents failed them and how they swear to do better?  Will that EVER happen?  I think, no.

It wasn’t that long ago that smoking cigarettes and having the occasional glass of scotch was considered A-OK during pregnancy.

My parents brought me home from the hospital riding shot-gun, nestled in a dresser drawer.

My brother and I used to roll around in the cab of pickup trucks going highway speeds down rural roads, driven by our parents….and we weren’t the only ones.

I rode my bike without a helmet, swam unsupervised and my siblings and I were left alone in hot cars while our parents and grandparents casually walked every grocery store aisle while socializing and shopping for a full months worth of groceries….was that a big deal?  NO, because back then, you could roll down the windows without turning on the car.

When I was in elementary school, you could still get sent to the principals office for a spanking.  Hell, even elderly neighbors we pissed off were allowed to take a shot if they could catch us and the only thing parents ever had to say about it was, “Get your shoes on, you’re going over there to apologize.”

It seems to me, that parenting lends itself to evolution.  Each generation tweaks the process and tries to be a little bit better….and repeat, infinity times.  So why are we so desperate to force our kids and our parenting into specifically defined boxes, instead of just trusting our instincts?

I get the need to want to connect with other parents.  It’s a hard job, for everyone, and it’s nice to find like-minded moms and dads to compare notes with.  But the second a self-proclaimed parenting expert Mommy Blogger, whose only credentials are that she’s given birth more times than I have, starts in with all the directives about all the ways we should and should not be raising our children, based on literally nothing other than the  x-number of years of parenting she’s got under her belt, I’m out.

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I mean, can we agree that definitely NO ONE knows what the hell they are doing right now?  Unless you were raising kids during the Black Death, or the Spanish Influenza?

So, to anyone who might be reading this and feeling like all those other ladies have their shit together and you should too….Or, you’re feeling like you wish you could at least be as effortlessly cool as all those moms who have made not having their shit together a trend….for whatever it’s worth, because I don’t know shit from crap….I think you’re killing it.

If homeschooling makes you feel like you are on the verge of staring in your own episode of Snapped, so you’ve given up and now you’re kids are watching TV and playing video games all day.  Or, maybe you lock them outside in your own backyard for the full length of a school day….whatever.  You’re doing awesome.  Your kids will be fine.

If you love a schedule and so you’ve created elaborate, color coded daily itineraries….and by the second day of the lockdown you had built your own backyard schoolhouse out of yard debris with your barehands….and you are committed to seeing that your children complete every teacher assigned lesson, AND learn Mandarin, AND how to split an atom by the time school starts up again (God willing) in the fall….you are amazing.  Your kids will also be fine.

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If you have managed to cook gourmet, wholly organic meals from scratch using ingredients you harvested from your own windowsill gardens and by butchering your own livestock, you are awesome.  Your kids will be fine.

If you’re family has been eating a lot of canned goods and dehydrated meals you bought in bulk from Mountain House, because you prepped like you were going to be riding this out in a bomb shelter instead of your house with electricity and a full kitchen. OR, if you guys are eating whatever you can afford to eat right now….that’s great too.  You, my friend, are awesome and your kids will also be fine.

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If you get up and begin every day with a shower, followed by full hair and makeup and your kids are so pressed and perfect they look like they could start modeling face masks and hazmat suits as soon as they are allowed within six feet of a fashion photographer, you are incredible and your kids will be fine.

If your family has started cycling through seasonal, holiday themed pajamas and Halloween costumes, because laundry sucks and the only people you see anyway are the Amazon, UPS, Fed-EX and USPS delivery drivers through your front window, and you don’t care if they think you’re cute or not….you are incredible.  Your kids will be fine.

If you and your family have spent your free time sewing hospital gear for front line workers, delivering meals and supplies to the elderly and vulnerable in your community, coordinated drive-by birthday celebrations for every kid in your town and you’ve cleared every single piece of litter, including cigarette butts, from the highways and byways and national forests within a 50 mile radius of your home….you are rock star.  Your kids will totally be fine.

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If you got up this morning and that feels good today, you’re a rock star too.  Your kids will also be totally fine.

Because here’s what I think….as a mom who swears allegiance to no particular style of parenting and thus knows nothing beyond whatever my own instincts tell me to do on a day to day/hour to hour/minute to minute basis….Do your kids know they are loved?

Just loved?

Because if you’re that mom.  You win. 

Cancer, the Sequel….and a Non-Romantic’s Attempt at a Love Letter to the Healthcare Community….

“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
~John F. Kennedy

This past October, I had my annual follow-up with my Oncologist.  “Everything looks great!”  He proclaimed after checking my vitals and lab work.  “Is there anything I should know about?  You feeling good?  No shortness of breath, any unexplained pain?  Any issues moving your bowels?”  He asked.

“Nope.”  I said with confidence, “I feel great!” and it was true, physically….mentally, I’m a shit show, but that’s to be expected.   It’s also true that I would probably die before I would ever talk about my pooping habits with him.

“Excellent!”  He said.  So, it’s time now that we add in a dermatologist for annual skin checks at your radiation site.  We have a doctor from Derm who works on our service.  I’m going to reach out to him.  His office will call you to schedule the appointment.”

“Sounds good” I said.

“It’s also time for a mammogram (joy) and we’re going to check your thyroid this year too. I’ll reach out to my colleagues and we’ll start working on getting those appointments scheduled as well,”  he said.

Me:  Has it ever occurred to you that I’m kind of like a body that has been donated to science, only I’m still alive so you get to work on a breathing corpse?

Dr. Most Amazing:  It hadn’t….

Me:  Well, you are welcome.

Less than a week later, I got a phone call from Dermatology to schedule my appointment and they were able to get me in within the month.  Before arriving for my exam, I made sure to thoroughly moisturize my radiation field, which extends from about the base of my collarbone down through my sternum.  (I could be making that up, because I’m not 100% sure where my sternum is, but I’m guessing I’m close).

Anyway, personally, I think that some maintenance/grooming effort is necessary whenever you see a doctor.  For example, before I see my gynecologist every year, I make sure I’ve shaved and moisturized my legs and armpits.  I give the old honey pot a good trim and I try not to poop before the appointment….just in case I miss a spot….could you imagine?

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Also, I ALWAYS wear socks.  Being barefoot is just too naked for me.

Before I go to the dentist, I dig out the floss I got from my last appointment, blow off the dust, do my best, and then hope that rinsing with mouth numbing/burning Listerine takes care of the rest.  Then, I tell the dentist….“Yes, of course.  I totally floss every day.  What kind of barbarian do you take me for?”  With a truthfull’ish face.

Turns out, I was NOT prepared for the dermatologist.  I hadn’t bargained on a full body examination.  Had I known I would be asked to strip down to my underwear, I would have for sure gotten a pedicure, thoroughly moisturized, shaved and most definitely, I would have worn different underwear and not the novelty joke pair that say, “Not Tonight” in big, red, block letters across the ass, that I used to think were HYSTERICAL when I assumed only my husband would ever see them.

So, as the doctor checked my scalp and in-between my toes and I tried not to die of embarrassment, I figured I would go ahead and ask about a dry patch of skin that had developed along my hairline on my left temple.  It was about the size of a dime and had been there at least a year.  At first, it was just a semi-flaky little spot that occasionally itched, but otherwise caused no real discomfort.

Then, this past summer, it began to get irritated.  The spot became itchier and then scabbed over.  Since I can’t ever resist picking a good scab, I struggled to leave it alone, which obviously made it angrier.

When I managed to resist temptation and put some effort into wound care, I would often end up accidentally brushing over it, causing the scab to break open and thus leading me to believe that I might as well just pick the rest of it off and let the scab start over.  I know, I’m gross.

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After the summer though, I resolved to really focus on healing it.  I began to properly clean and treat it.  I left it alone.  I kept anything other antibacterial ointments away from it.

After working out, I immediately cleaned it and I did my best to keep my hair pulled back and away from it.  But it wouldn’t go away.  It would sometimes take on the appearance of healing, but it never did.  It also never fully scabbed over.  Parts of it would, but other parts looked more oozy and crust-like.  Still, I wasn’t worried, not really.  There had never been a suspicious looking mole, or freckle in that area.

After everything I had been through as a cancer survivor, you’d think I would be jumping at the chance to point the spot out to a brilliant, highly sought after physician at one of the nations best hospitals and yet, even on the day of the appointment, I was on the fence about mentioning it.  I felt silly saying, “I have a scab that won’t go away, because I can’t stop picking at it.”  

Of course, it’s possible/probable that it was about more than that too.  There will always be a part of me that lives with the fear that cancer might come back and claim me.  That I’m living on borrowed time.  That the universe will eventually say, “Oh, crap, you’re still here.  We have to do something about that.”    

Sometimes, I think it’s made me crazy.  I over-exaggerate things I can reasonably explain (a minor headache must surely be a brain tumor) and over-simplify the things I can’t (that’s just dry skin).  It seems as though it’s my brains way of allowing me to run, while also caving into the underlying fear and anxiety that comes with being a cancer survivor.

But once I realized he was going to be investigating literally every square inch of my body, and I was already red-faced and ashamed at my scaly legs and chipped toenail polish and underwear choice, I figured I might as well go ahead and just speak up.

“Is there anything on your skin you’re concerned about?”  the doctor asked me politely.

(Besides the stubby beginnings of leg and armpit hair? I thought).  “Well, I’m not really concerned about it, more annoyed.  I just have this dry patch of skin I can’t seem to get to heal, even though I absolutely leave it alone (now) and have done my best to treat it with over the counter ointments (recently).”  I told him.

While the doctor took a look,  I was preparing myself for the fact that he would likely tell me it was psoriasis, or eczema.  That he would prescribe a cream and tell me to stop lying and LEAVE IT ALONE.  I was not expecting him to say, “Hmmmm….I think what we’re looking at is a basal cell carcinoma.”

Me:  I’m sorry….a what the fuck?

OK, so I didn’t really say that, but my face did.

Dr. Equally Awesome:  It’s no big deal, truly.  This is not something I want you to be worrying about.  It is the most common type of skin cancer.  Millions of people are diagnosed annually.

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Dr. Equally Awesome:  Really, you can stop scaling that wall.  Don’t worry!  This type of skin cancer doesn’t metastasize.  We’ll do a biopsy to confirm it’s a basal,, and assuming I’m right, which I’m pretty confident I am, we’ll get you in with Derm surgery and they’ll remove it and you’ll be done.

Me:
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Dr. Equally Awesome:  It’s ok, you can climb down from the top of that credenza now.   You’re going to be fine.  I wouldn’t tell you that if I wasn’t certain of it.

Here’s the thing though….to a cancer survivor, the words, CANCER and METASTASIZE and BIOPSY and mother-f’ing CARCINOMA are essentially synonymous with whatever word this would be:

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As he spoke they are the only words I heard….

So I took a deep breath and a hit of Cal–Stat and then I said.  “I hear you.  But to someone who has had the kind of cancer that can kill you, hearing that I have it, again, in any capacity, is just really, really scary.”

Dr. Equally Awesome:  I get it.  We’re going to take care of you though.

Me:  So….once it’s gone, can I call myself a two time champ?  (Because humor….always humor….)

Dr. Equally Awesome:  Hell yeah!

My streak of seeing wonderful physicians continued.  The surgeon who performed the procedure to cut out the cancer was incredible.  It took two passes to remove the spot that went from being the size of a dime, to almost the size of a silver dollar, before she was able to obtain “clear margins” (no more cancer).

Before she started to close the wound, she handed me a mirror so I could see it and when I saw how deep it was, my first reaction was to ask, “Is that my brain?”  It wasn’t, in case you’re wondering.

Then, before starting to suture, she stood there for a moment, studying the spot and pondering the exact right method for closing.  She was determined to close the wound in a way that would leave the least amount of visible scaring.

She was treating my face as though it were some kind of prized artwork she’d been commissioned to restore, instead of the face of a forty-year old who had spent her twenties shirking sun screen and, on some level, was getting what was coming to her.  It was clear I meant more to her than just another patient in a long one of patients.  Not because I was special, but because that’s the way she treats all who come to see her.

These folks who have taken care of me for the last nine years are my hero’s.  And since the Coronavirus outbreak, I’ve thought of them constantly; for all physicians and healthcare workers, really.  I am so thankful for them.

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In support of their efforts these past many weeks, I’ve been doing my best to listen to them and to hear them and to see them.  I feel like I owe it to them to read and watch everything they are doing for us right now.

I’ve seen the pictures of health care workers crouched, exhausted and grief stricken, in hospital hallways.

I’ve read news articles about healthcare workers isolating themselves away from their children and significant others; working long and emotionally draining hours and then going “home” to hotel rooms.  Alone.

And I’ve seen the photos of what many look like after a long shift.  Bruised, with deep marks from masks and face shields imbedded into their skin.

I’ve seen photos and read stories about healthcare workers holding tablets and smart phones in hospital rooms, so that loved one’s can be in touch with sick family members and in some cases, say final goodbyes.

They have no motivation beyond helping people and they are, in some cases, literally killing themselves to do it.

And to put it bluntly, I’m really fucking disgusted by the scum of humanity who are screaming in their faces at protest rallies.  Shame on you.

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You aren’t a patriot, or whatever is you’re claiming to be, no matter how many clothing items made out of an American flag you show up wearing.

This isn’t your moment to rise up against a tyrannical government because the Demolition Derby at your county fair was canceled this year.  So please, go back to making moonshine and squirrel hunting, or whatever it is you do, and let the real Americans do their jobs.

And guess what, we “snow-flakes” don’t want the economy to collapse either.  I certainly don’t want anyone to suffer financially, emotionally, physically, or mentally.

But at the same time, and I’m no genius, the inconveniences and the state of the economy  right now, are the bi-products of a global pandemic, not the result of sub-prime mortgages, or a crash in the stock market, or some other economic screw-up we need the Warren Buffets of the world to help us dig out of, at least not at the forefront leading the charge.

So while I recognize the need to reopen the economy for many important reasons, shouldn’t it be done in a way that fully aligns with the recommendations of medical experts?

And by medical experts, I don’t mean some random podiatrist from Boca Raton whose pissed his practice has taken a hit, since his elderly patients are staying home instead of having their corns removed.  Just because you took a semester of immuno-biology, or whatever, doesn’t make you an expert, so stay in your lane.

I am a privileged person.  I can stay home.  We can manage work from here and we have the resources and tools and skills (debatable) necessary to manage homeschooling.

Mentally, I’m, well, complicated, but I’m not suicidal, or depressed, or alone.  I’m not an alcoholic and no one in my home needs to be afraid of anyone else in my home.

I believe all that means I have the responsibility to not be a dick.  I can stay home and so I will.  Even if it’s annoying, or *gasp* boring.

I’m going to do it, so that those who don’t have my same privileges can go to their jobs, or seek out the help they might need, without having to worry about whether or not my ass picked up COVID-19 at a neighborhood Pampered Chef party and my sneeze isn’t just a regular sneeze.

We need to allow the time and space for our next level essential workers and their employers to develop strategies for returning to their jobs safely.

Most importantly though, we need to give our healthcare workers the time and space to breath and recoup.  Shouldn’t we be letting our scientists focus on, you know, science’ing our way out of this if possible and if not all the way out, at least into a more controlled new “normal?”

But hey, if you think it’s in your best interest to rally at what amounts to nothing more than a glorified Guns & Ammo Expo on the front steps of some government building, I guess that’s your right.

I personally think the medical community should have the right to tell you and yours to F-off should you come dragging ass through the doors of your local emergency room though.  That should be the price you pay for assuming that, just because you know how to load an assault rifle and fashion a tube top out of a confederate flag, you’re also an expert on infectious disease….but they won’t, because they are good people, the best of us.

I just hope that if nothing else, you manage to at least choke out a thank-you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

90210MG! Or, everything I needed to know about life, I learned from Kelly Taylor

“I was always taught that if it looks like a duck and it sounds like a duck!”
~Brenda Walsh, Beverly Hills 90210

I don’t know about you, but of late, my evenings consist of a lot of TV.  And by TV, I do not mean the news, or anything news related.  It’s not that I am apathetic, or prefer to remain uninformed.

It’s that I would like to be actually informed.  Instead, I feel like I’m watching a Saturday Night Live skit…..

Lasers?

Clorox and Mean Green on the rocks with a Tide Pod chaser?

Armed hillbillies protesting lock down restrictions….while wearing masks and gloves?

The Lt. Governor of Texas every time he opens his mouth….“There are more important things than living.”  

Did I see something about UFO’s yesterday?

Kim Jong Un is….??

A dog and a tiger have tested positive for COVID-19?

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WT Actual F*%k is happening?  I cannot even…and so I won’t.  Fortunately, I’m good at finding silver linings, so if this had to happen, at least it happened in the age of streaming services and DVR and On-Demand.

Can you imagine if this were the 80’s?  I can.  At my house, we would have been fist-fighting over the last can of Chef-Boyardee….on lockdown day two.  And even if there had  been anything to binge-watch on TV back then, it wouldn’t have been happening at my house.  My  mother would have for sure put her foot, or someone’s head, through our TV over a math word problem while screaming, “Fuck it!  You can just redo the third grade next year!”   

So, in the spirit of counting your blessings, I say again, if it had to happen, I’m glad it happened now, when my entertainment choices are many and my risk of losing a tooth in a domestic dispute is zero.

At this point, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve rewatched Downton Abbey and Victoria and all of the nature programs available through Disney+….when I’m in the mood for something that feels a bit more refined and educational.

The Office is a go-to favorite when I need something light that never fails to make me laugh.  And BTW….I blame Dwight Schrute….

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Also, to satisfy the beast that craves trashtacular TV, I’ve been watching the first few seasons of the various Real Housewives franchise.  Which, honestly, in its humbler beginnings….when the women weren’t obsessed with their D-list celebrity status and constantly screaming at each other during booze-fueled excursions….was actually a pretty interesting experiment that offered a glimpse into the lives of women living, working and managing families, in some of the countries wealthiest zip codes.

But there is one the program, above all others, that I hold most near and dear to my heart, the one I return to time and again.  The one that makes me feel like I’m wrapped up in the coziest blanket, nestled into the squashiest of cow-hide chairs….the OG….Beverly Hills, 90210.  

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The original show premiered in 1990, two days before my 11th birthday.  From the very first episode, I was hooked.

At various points in time, I wanted to be Kelly Taylor, Brenda Walsh and even Andrea Zuckerman.  But I only wanted to be Andrea in the earliest days of the show.

By the time the gang was in college, Andrea looked like she’d jumped from a just barely plausible teenager, to middle aged overnight.  I was like 13 by then, and so completely incapable/unwilling to be generous, or sympathetic, to the fact that she was a working actress fighting nature.

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And I never wanted to be Donna Martin.  Because honestly, WTF was up with her hair? I was no fashionista myself….I used to wear shorts with tan pantyhose and white scrunchy socks with glossy black shoes that had ribbons for laces….but hell, even I knew that whomever was managing hair and wardrobe for Donna, clearly hated her.

Anyway, over the years, whenever anyone from my past said something like, “You turned out all right….all things considered,” I joked that it was thanks to my parents; Television and Books.

But in fact, there’s a lot of truth in that statement.

When I was lost in the world of Beverly Cleary, Ann M. Martin, Francine Pascal, Judy Bloom and Harper Lee, I was learning valuable lessons about life and family and relationships and the real beauty of being a kid.  Lessons that weren’t always available to me at home.

The same was true of television.  The Tanners, Seavers, Mr. Belvedere, Alf and the Walsh family especially, helped me navigate through my childhood, adolescence and early adulthood.

I often emulated the characters I saw on TV.  I used their lines and facial expressions and mannerisms and I adopted some of their goals and achievements and hardships.

It wasn’t unusual for me to borrow scenes, or whole story lines I would attempt to pass off as real and belonging to me.  Like the time I told kids at school that I had 8 brothers and sisters named Marie, Cindy, Wendy, Connie, Sherry, Melissa, JR and Harvey and that my dad was a gym teacher named Graham.  (Just the Ten of Us)

And I was forever trying to replicate the stylish students of West Beverly High School.

In the early days of 90210, I bought a pair of round eyeglasses at a dollar store that looked like the pair Andrea Zuckerman wore.  I insisted they were prescription lenses and that I lived in an apartment with my grandmother, because my parents lived out of district.

Eventually, I stopped lying so blatantly, but I never gave up the fantasy that I could somehow morph into Kelly Taylor, but also be a Walsh.

On my first day of junior high, I wore a pair of red, plaid shorts that came with a matching blazer and enormous shoulder pads.  I paired the short suit combo with a black, sleeveless, turtleneck, and shiny black pumps I found at a thrift store.

I looked like a pee-wee football linebacker in high heels, but I thought the outfit looked like something either Kelly or Brenda would have definitely sported on a night out….and OK, I may have insinuated that the outfit came from Rodeo Drive and not the seven dollar clothing store.  But whatever, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

As I got older, I knew that from a fashion perspective, I would never come up to snuff with the likes of my idols. I lacked the acumen of a designer and the finances of someone who could afford a designer.  But, I could forever remain a mega-fan who, once a week, lived vicariously through the impossibly hip inhabitants of the Walsh House and the Beach Apartment.

For ten years, I was there for every romance and broken heart.  I watched as the cast morphed from high school students, to college students, to adults building careers.  I rooted for them through the hard times and I celebrated their successes.

I grew up right behind them and I watched closely as they dealt with topics like sex, drugs, alcohol, eating disorders and complicated relationships with parents, friends and significant others.

And through it’s various storylines that tackled all those really relevant subjects related to adolescence and young adulthood, I learned to make my way through my own; I honestly did….however theatrically and dramatically.

In case you aren’t, like me, a rabid, would totally dominate a 90210 themed Jeopardy episode with questions related to the most random factoids like:

Answer:  Karen Brown Mulligan.  Loving wife of David.

Question:  What was Steve Sanders biological mom’s name and what was written on her tombstone?

You might not know that 90210 got a reboot last year and briefly returned to television.  It was a moment I had been anxiously and excitedly, (overly and unnaturally), waiting for since the announcement the cast was “in talks,” began circulating many months before the official announcement.

Before the premier of the reboot, I rewatched the final episode of the original show, specifically for one of my all time favorite scenes; the very last one.  Many of the original cast members are dancing in a circle to Kool & The Gang’s Celebration at the wedding of Donna and David.

As the camera begins to pan back, Luke Perry raises his arms, with a huge smile on his face, and then pulls in Brian Austin Green and Ian Ziering for a hug.  Then the entire cast joins in the embrace.  It’s been nearly twenty years and the scene still makes me tear up.

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So, I would be lying if I said I hadn’t had my heart set on a reboot that picked up where the original left off, just twenty years down the road.  But alas, the show went in an entirely different direction.

Instead of finding out what happened in the lives of Donna, David, Kelly, Dylan, Brandon, Brenda, Andrea and Steve since we’d last seen them, the new concept was designed to be a show within the show, as the cast played exaggerated versions of their real life selves.

I wanted to love it, I really did.  But, I didn’t.  I get what they were trying to pull off, but for me, the approach lacked the nostalgic escapism my adolescent heart was hoping for.

I wanted to see the beach apartment again and the Walsh house and the Peach Pitt.  I wanted the show to take me back to a time that felt simple and sweet.  Back to a world before smart phones and social media and reality television and faux celebrity.

Fortunately though, thanks to syndication and streaming services, the show lives on in its natural state and right now, I need reliables.

I don’t know anymore what tomorrow is likely to bring, but I know that with 100% certainty that tonight and tomorrow night and the night after that, (at least so long as the shit doesn’t really hit the fan Walking Dead style) that there will be BBQ’s and parade float building at the Walsh house.  Someone will definitely order the Mega-Burger at the Peach Pitt and it’s just a matter of how long I can stay up before it’s time to celebrate another summer at the Beverly Hills Beach Club.

And you know what else?  It might have taken a global pandemic and twenty-years since the original show went off the air, but I think I might have become a 90210’er after all….

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Silver linings….

 

 

 

 

Is it just me, or is it starting to feel a little Hunger Games/Children of the Corn Out There?

Dr. Burt Stanton: I spy, with my little eye, something that starts with C.
Vicky Baxter: Corn.
~Children of the Corn

Not too long ago, like, last week, but I can’t be certain because time has ceased to be a tangible thing in my household….I was confusedly reading headlines that declared Trump wanted the country reopened and “raring to go” by Easter.

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I smell collusion….

Anyway, he seemed fixated on getting people back to work and church pews packed for Easter Sunday services, virus be damned, as he compared the Coronavirus to the seasonal flu and car accidents; “We lose thousands and thousands of people to the flu.”  He said.  “We don’t turn the country off.  We lose much more than that to automobile accidents.”

Of course, later, came the damage control.  “The President knew it was more wishful thinking than a realistic goal.”

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But the fact of the matter is that his words sends too confusing a message as we all struggle to make sense of what’s happening, what it all means for our families, our finances, our economy and how long it will last and even, how serious it is.

I’ll admit, we get tiny moments of what feels like real leadership from the man, but those moments are quickly followed by immature Tweets applauding his television ratings as though Covid-19, 2020 is the hot new show.

Would anyone like to bet that when this is over, he either Tweets, or says at a press conference: “Coronavirus.  You’re fired!”

Meanwhile, almost everyone else….medical experts, my state government, many other state governments and the leaders of other countries….are simultaneously directing people to PLEASE continue to stay home for the foreseeable future.  They are announcing extended school and non-essential business closures and stricter shelter in place/keep your ass at home, or so help me God, orders, etc.

Most everyone, that is, except for Lt. Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, who more or less said that grandparents, himself included, would totally be willing to die to save the economy.

Specifically, he was quoted as saying:  “No one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’ And if that is the exchange, I’m all in. My message is that let’s get back to work, let’s get back to living.  Let’s be smart about it and those of us who are 70+, we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country.”

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I asked my in-laws who are self- quarantined in Florida who, pre-Coronavirus, were loving life as retirees after having worked and scrimped and saved their entire adult lives in order to be able to comfortably enjoy their golden years, if they were ready to be rounded up and dropped into a volcano or something….so that I can go back to experiencing Target the way God intended and not this, curbside pick-up, but only essentials, (none of which are fun) crap….to which they replied, more or less, “Fuck that.”  (I’m paraphrasing….they never say the F-word).

Personally, while I appreciate Dan Patrick’s willingness to take one for the team….I really do….I feel like he’s perhaps not thought this sacrifice all the way through.  By “take care of our ourselves” is he suggesting that all those who are elderly are planning to just go ahead and, like, die at home should they become ill?  Maybe, slink off like cats to die somewhere discreet and out of the way?

Because, I’m not sure it helps anyone for our elderly to take up that shitty death march if they are also going to want medical treatment as they go about the process of dying.  I mean, isn’t that one of the key points of social distancing at the moment?  To try and control/slow the spread of this disease so as not to completely topple our already overwhelmed healthcare system?  They need time to better understand this new disease, to create treatment protocols and, hopefully, a vaccine.

But as it stands, there isn’t enough PPE to go around, physicians and nurses and support staff are getting sick, some are also dying….and that’s with current social distancing guidelines in place and sort of being adhered to.  Imagine the crisis if we all just said, “Eh, I’m over this now.  Let’s go back to work!” 

And what about the millions who are not 70+, but who are undergoing cancer treatments, or people with underlying medical conditions, like my 8yo niece who has cystic fibrosis?  Are we saying, let’s go ahead and let nature takes its course?

I’m no economist, but a survival of the fittest, Hunger Games style approach to moving on doesn’t exactly seem like the best way to instill confidence among consumers.  Especially since it potentially means eliminating millions of them. Unless, our economy will now focus entirely on the production of Hazmat suits and face masks and THAT will be our new normal.

Instead of Lilly Pullitzer for Target shift dresses this summer, it’ll be Lily Pulitzer for Target full body bio suits and for the rich, Louis Vuitton face masks.

I feel like Kanye West already has a leg up on that idea with his Yeezy line, no?  Maybe he is some sort of profit after all?

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Vanity Fair

Fortunately though, it appears that our fearless, orange leader has walked back his Easter goal. His most recent statements and his recommendations regarding the extension of social distancing guidelines suggest he’s no longer got the date of the Biblical resurrection in mind for America’s economic resurrection.

I’ve read it’s because his advisors told him his statements weren’t doing him any favors toward re-election, but I bet it was really because someone thought about it for a second and said, “Oh shit Mr. President, you do realize that the majority of our political leaders, THE PATRIARCHY, are all old, white guys, right?  If we start to go, all that remains are surviving minorities and women and those damn, ambitious millennials.”

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 (Yes, millennials, all this rhetoric about them being the one’s hosting Coronavirus parties and drinking from communal beer bongs on Spring Break is misplaced….it’s Gen Z you want).

Maybe it’s not such a bad way to drain the swamp, actually….do a little reset?  Seems that Gen Z would be all in.

While the Boomers are busy yelling at the Millennials to stay home….and the Millennials are like, “Shut it Boomer, I’ve got four kids and a mountain of student loan debt and I’m always at home because I have no money and it’s all your fault,”….and the Gen-Xers, like myself, the OG latch-key kids, are currently reliving our childhoods; home, bored and forgotten….Gen Z are like the Children of the Corn, or maybe, Quarn….

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A large percentage don’t seem to give a crap about the rest of us, as they flaunt their possibly super-powered immune systems at Coronavirus themed parties with DJ’s and bartenders, while the rest of us are opening our mail with tweezers and sanitizing our groceries with black market Purell and trying to figure out how to build decontamination chambers in our garages.

They just shrug and say, “I’m not giving up a $10.50 flight to Toledo….gotta Spring Break somewhere!” 

It seems no matter how we implore them to please, for the sake of nana, STAY HOME.  They seem to be saying, “Screw nana, what’s she done for me, except destroy the planet?”  

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I’m afraid that if we don’t figure this out soon, our first female president may end up being Kylie Jenner and most of us won’t get to vote, because we don’t know how to use Snapchat.

I’m sure the parents of these little Isaacs and Malachis are doing their best. Quite frankly, it’s unfair that these “kids” are too old to ground, but not old enough to be kicked off parental provided health insurance, but I don’t know what the answer is.

However, I did read an article yesterday, an April Fools’ Day prank, but still….that suggested a possible solution.

The gist of the joke was that in Greece, the PM had turned over the power of enforcing quarantines and issuing permits for approved outings to the women of Greece….in response to the announcement, a “Petros Kakavas” from Peristeri, Athens was quoted as saying, “I don’t know if I will ever see the light of day.”

Because, ladies like this, mean business….

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I have a friend who is Italian.  His nonna is about the closest I’ve ever come to knowing a mob boss.  She isn’t literally a mob boss, but she seems to instill the same amount of fear.  One DOES NOT disobey nonna.

Perhaps this is what we need?  All those culturally stereotypically mean moms and grandma’s out there, slapping these little bastards around.  It could work…something has to give, right?

Stay sane and stay home, folks….or, at least, stay home.

 

Social Distancing for Dummies & Selfish People….

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”
~Dr. Martin Luther King

Every couple of days, I have been reaching out to family and friends just to check-in, say hello, send something funny, make sure they haven’t resorted to eating a family member,  the usual.

Yesterday, I called a friend.

Side note:  I avoid talking on the phone like it’s COVID-19.  My introverted self could probably spend the rest of my life never talking to another living soul beyond those I live with.  So calling, means that I am trying, REALLY, REALLY, hard to show up for those I love.

Anyway, I called, because this particular friend doesn’t love to text.  She is the social butterfly to my hermit.  While I naturally flock to the darkest corner of the room, where I might blend in with the furnishings, carpet, wallpaper….she heads straight to the center and holds court.  People fill her up.  She possesses every social grace, says all the right things and never once has she held someone hostage talking about dry wall  (Me: 2003 at a company function while chatting with the Chief Operations Officer at my then company).

Side note:  I don’t even know that much about dry wall, but I apparently knew enough to fill sixty-minutes of conversation….only, I don’t think you can call it “conversation” if you are the only one doing the talking.  I think you’d call that, maybe, word assault.

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When my friend answered, I could tell right away that she was fuming about something, or maybe chewing on a femur.

“Hey, what’s going on?”  I asked.  “You know that cannibalism is still frowned upon, right?” 

She ignored me, like the true conversation artist that she is, and redirected our chat to saner waters.

“I’m watching my idiot neighbors have a block party,” she said.

“Wait, what?”  I responded.  “Are you serious?”

“Yep, they’ve got music going, red solo cups in hand, their kids are all wrestling and running around together….pretty sure someone is sparking up a grill.”

“Wow,” I said.  “I didn’t realize you moved to a place without televisions, or computers, or newspapers, or Facebook, or….humans….did you relocate to a new planet?” 

“Nope, I’m still here, in the burbs, wishing I had the materials to board up my house, because if Zombies are next, these people are for sure going to be among the first and I’m surrounded.”

“Well, I hope they’re the slow zombies, at least.”  I said.  “Like the one’s from Walking Dead.  Not like the one’s in Zombieland.  Those bastards are fast.”

“Hang on a second,” she said.  Then I could hear her yell, presumably out of a window, “You should Google social distancing!  You are all doing it wrong!”

“They are totally going to eat you first.”  I said.

Apparently, social distancing is a hard concept for people to grasp.  Nearly every day someone posts a photo to my community Facebook page of a packed local basketball court, playground playdates in progress (despite the fact that our town has made it clear, with public notices and signage that these spaces are closed) and a few days ago, a photo of dozens of people congregating and socializing in the parking lot and at the picnic tables of an ice cream stand that just recently reopened for the season.

I don’t blame the ice cream stand though.  They are a local, small business and I’m sure, like many, they are trying to stay afloat.  But with no ability to manage crowd control and customers who apparently refuse to police themselves, they have now been forced to close since our Governor, and rightfully so, has issued a shelter in place order, effectively closing all businesses that aren’t providing an essential service.

Way to go people!  You just tanked a beloved, local, small business.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

And it’s not just my town, or my friends neighborhood.   I’ve read that beaches are still packed with people.  Spring breakers are partying hard, people are forging ahead with vacation travel plans to popular tourist destinations and in Kentucky, several people apparently attended a Coronavirus themed party.

People.  PEOPLE, people.  

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I don’t know if the issue here is that some just aren’t taking this seriously enough….and/or they assume it’s not enough of a concern to bother with altering daily routines….or they just don’t care….or they truly don’t understand what it means to distance yourself socially and/or to shelter in place.

I would like to assume it’s a simple knowledge gap and not a sign that too many people could give a shit about their fellow humans.

Today, on our community page, an irate townsperson pissed about the expanding closures throughout the state said “So, what….I can’t go for a walk now?”

Yes!  You can go for a walk.  You can hike and ride your bike, go for a run, take a scenic car ride, but your only choice in company at the moment is yourself, or those you currently live with.   And I get it, those people are starting to get on your nerves.  But for now, you can’t escape them to be with your “Quads of Fury” walking club.

Socially distancing, means you don’t stop to shoot the shit with your neighbor about the tragedy that is the closing of Dunks and the loss of Touchdown Tommy to the Buccaneers.  (Life is wicked hard here in New England right now).

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You can go to the grocery store, but you should only go if you really need to.  Ideally, you should take advantage of online ordering with curbside pick-up, or home delivery.  But if you must go into a store, forego man-handling all the produce.  You’ll survive if you don’t get the perfect avocado, or you end up with an apple with a soft spot.

And I know that you might really, really, really want to escape your children, your spouse, your parents, your roommate…and go wander the aisles of a Target, or if you’re like me, a Target and then a Home Depot, or whatever remains open in your area just to catch a break and enjoy a change of scenery.  Trust me, I get it.  My kid has said, “Mommy” no less than eleventy-billion times today and it’s not even noon 1:00 2:00 3:00…. I have been trying to write this post for two days now, because I can only get about two-minutes of “free time” at a time.

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We are all bored and anxious and annoyed and going a bit stir-crazy.  We’re trying to manage jobs, or the loss of a job, while also home schooling and stressing over finances and whether or not we have enough stuff and if it’s time to start rationing TP one square at a time and who the hell we are supposed to be listening to at the moment….world renowned doctors, or the guy who keeps saying, “Fuck it, we’ll be back up and running by Easter.”  

I think many are just desperate to find something normal to cling to.  But folks, we exited normal a few weeks ago.  Life, as we knew it, is a thing of the past, at least for now.  We can still see and even have a little bit of the good old days, but we can’t have it all.  The longer we fight what we’re being asked to do, the longer it will take to “flatten” the curve and the more we stand to lose.

Come on, people….we can do hard things.

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We Can Be Hero’s….

“I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people.”
~Maya Angelou

I, like I imagine most of the rest of the world, have been watching closely as COVID-19 wreaks havoc on our world.  Over the last several weeks, I’ve been skeptical and scared and confused and frustrated and amused and hopeful and curious….all of the feelings.

My stomach has been in knots and my anxiety has been on full alert and I’ve imagined men in black and conspiracies and government “doctors” and secret quarantines and people disappearing without a trace and Putin as Voldemort….I don’t know, I feel like it’s totally plausible.

I’ve found myself diving down rabbit holes created by various media reports, social media posts (shamefully) and our current administration and the governments of other countries.

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And no, I don’t really believe in all the places my brain has taken me.  I think it’s just my minds way of trying to understand and explain this series of events for which we have no prior experience.

At times, I’ve felt as though this really can’t possibly be happening.  It seems so surreal; like a movie.  Only, it’s not exactly the way I imagined an apocalypse of sorts would go down.  Am I really being told to just, like, Netflix and chill for the foreseeable future?  I had always imagined there would be a lot less electricity and a lot more Spam.  Toilet paper and hand sanitizer weren’t the commodities I thought we’d all be hoarding….but alas, here we are.  To be clear, however, this is apocalypse enough for me.  I’m not complaining.

And while I may be losing my shit a bit, I am trying really hard not to be an asshole about it.  I am not among those with a six-year supply of toilet paper and a lifetime, plus twenty years worth, of hand sanitizer.

A few weeks ago, when things started to get weird, I took inventory of our supplies like dry goods, the food in our freezer and yes, of course, our TP situation, and then made my way to the store to purchase what I thought would be necessary to carry my family through the early days of a quarantine, assuming that, along the way, I would be able to continue to have some degree of access to these items; through online ordering, or perhaps, authority controlled trips to the grocery store.  I did not, however, bargain for the Matt and Noah Colvin’s of the world.

A few days ago, I was scrolling through the news and I came across an article published by the New York Times about a guy with 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer and “nowhere to sell them.” 

The image accompanying the article was of Matt Colvin, an Amazon merchant, wearing a shirt emblazoned with the words “Family Man, Family Business,” looking downtrodden as he stood among his hoard of hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes.

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The New York Times

 

According to the article, the day after the first U.S. death connected with the COVID-19 virus was announced, Family Man, Matt and his brother, Noah, set off in an SUV and commenced clearing the shelves of hand sanitizer from Walmart, Dollar Tree, Home Depot and Staples in Chattanooga, TN.

Then, over the next three days, brother Noah Colvin embarked on a 1300 mile road trip throughout Tennessee and into Kentucky, filling up a U-Haul truck with thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer and antibacterial cleansing wipes he purchased from any retailer he could find with stock to sell.

Meanwhile, Family Man Matt stayed home, preparing for the arrival of pallets of even more sanitizer and wipes he’d ordered online, while also getting to work listing the bounty on Amazon.  According to Family Man, Matt, he listed 300 bottles of sanitizer that quickly sold for between $8 and $70 each; “crazy money.”    

But then, the next day, Amazon pulled his items, along with thousands of other listings from other Amazon merchants who were also selling sanitizer, antibacterial wipes and face masks at huge mark-ups’s leaving poor Family Man, Matt with a boat-load of much needed resources and seemingly no solution to be thunk up.

He was quoted as saying, “It’s been a huge amount of whiplash.  From being in a situation where what I’ve got coming and going could potentially put my family in a really good place financially to ‘What the heck am I going to do with all of this?’”

I read that and thought, Um, how about you and your douche-bag brother start returning it all to the stores you wiped out so that your neighbors, the parents of your children’s friends, their teachers, nursing home staff, your local medical providers and the emergency medical personnel within that 1300 mile radius you two morally bankrupt scumbags pillaged, can access those much needed supplies?

To be fair, Amazon and other retailers also increased their own prices on supplies in the wake of the pandemic….(REALLY Jeff Bezos….REALLY?)….though not to the same extent.

Still, according to the article, it wasn’t until consumers and regulators applied pressure that any of these companies chose to crack down on the way their merchants were capitalizing on the fear and desperation of people DURING A FUCKING INTERNATIONAL PANDEMIC.  In fact, until then, businesses like Amazon and Ebay profited from their merchants behavior via the percentages they took from those sales.

Moving forward, I will wipe my ass with my own hand before I order a thing from Amazon.

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Shortly after the article was published, Matt Colvin “donated” his stockpile of supplies as the attorney general’s office in Tennessee began investigating him for price gouging.  The  national backlash the Colvin’s apparently received from the public was swift and incredibly harsh.  While I don’t believe the death threats were appropriate, he’s otherwise getting what he deserves.

Sadly, Family Man, Matt isn’t the only one out there hoarding supplies and trying to profit off the suffering of others, he was just the only one dumb enough to be the spokesperson for the Scrooge McJerk-Off Union.

But, casting aside the trash, I believe that in the midst of all of this, there is an opportunity for greatness.  In gestures both large and small, we all have the chance to be a beacon of light in all this dark.

Lean into your communities.  Support your local small businesses as best you can.  These are often the businesses that sponsor your kids little league teams and donate to a wide variety of fundraisers benefiting your schools and the community as a whole.  If you can’t afford to spend any money at the moment, you can still show some love by promoting them across your social media.

Stay engaged in productive conversations with your neighbors on your community social media pages.  I know these groups often come with a few curmudgeons, trolls and self-righteous know-it-alls, BUT, if you can weed through the BS there is a lot of good to be found, including a wide range of opportunities to be of service to people and groups in need.

Start a donation pile.  That closet, garage, play room, etc., you keep saying you want to purge and organize, here’s your chance.  Toys and games that you no longer need, could be a welcomed gift for another family in your community right now.


If you have too much, give it back.  Take it back to the stores directly, or make care packages for your neighbors, in particular, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.  Or, donate extra supplies to the agencies in your area that are in desperate need.  Especially medical supplies like masks and latex gloves.  We can’t afford to lose our health care professionals to this illness, but we will if they can’t do their jobs safely.

I recently read that many health care professionals are reusing personal protective equipment they would have discarded between patients, but at this point, it’s reuse it, or go in with nothing.  WTF, America, that can’t be the solution.

Unless you have a legitimate reason for needing a stockpile of masks and those 4,000 pairs of latex gloves in all the sizes (and BTW fear is not a legitimate reason) you have no business hoarding them….doing so is, quite literally, killing the team.


Be the good.  There are so many ways to do good things in this world that won’t cost you anything but a little bit of your time.  And right now, time is pretty much all we’ve got.

Do something that makes another human smile, or laugh, or leaves the earth a little bit better than you found it.

Write a letter to a grandparent, a friend….not an email, an actual letter.

Leave a book review for an author you love, or a local small business.

Go to a local park, or a hiking trail and pick up the trash.

Pray….to whoever, or whatever you believe in.  I happen to think it helps, but regardless,    it certainly can’t hurt.

Share your talents.  If you’re a writer, write.  If you’re a musician, play.  Sing, draw, paint.  You don’t have to be famous to create and share content.

Let your significant other breakdown.  Let your kids breakdown.  Let yourself breakdown.  Let it be and then let it pass.

Say thank you!  There are so many people working tirelessly to treat patients, gather supplies for those in need and keep our stores as stocked as possible.  They too have the well-being of themselves and their own loved ones to think about.

My dad works for a truck-stop chain as a shop manager.  His role is considered essential because of the fueling needs and tractor-trailer repairs that are necessary for truck drivers to keep goods moving throughout our county.  My dad’s in his 60’s now and he’s had a number of health complications over the years, including serious cardiac related issues.  He’s among those most at risk for developing serious/fatal complications should he contract COVID-19, but right now, he’s “healthy,” so off to work he goes.

Acknowledge these folks.  The work they are doing is very much holding our communities and country together at the moment.

And if nothing else, just simply do whatever is being asked of you by the authorities and experts who are desperately trying to get us back to some semblance of normalcy.


Find the Good.  Every day my 8yo sits down at the computer to doodle with Mo Willems.  If you’ve never heard of him, he is, among other things, an award winning and best-selling, children’s book author.

For 30 minutes each day, Mr. Willems talks and draws with the kids who are watching. He gently guides them through the days doodle, while sharing information about his characters and his career as a writer and illustrator.  At the end of each session, he reads and answers questions that kids send in via email.

For my son, this has been THE COOLEST.  For as long as he’s been able to articulate the desire, my son has talked of being a writer.  He has dozens of notebooks in which he’s written out short stories with illustrations.  He loves to read and for him, he is in awe of his favorite authors in the way other kids might be in awe of professional athletes, musicians, actors.

My son looks forward to his 30 minutes with Mo every day.  His face lights up and he carefully follows along and then proudly shows me his work and tells me all the things he learned during the session.  “Did you know that Mo worked on Sesame Street?”  “Did you know he made up stories when he was a little kid, just like I do?”

It’s an incredible gift Mo Willems is giving, really.  He certainly doesn’t have to, but he’s showing up.  He’s one of the lights.

And there are more!

Museums and Zoos are offering virtual tours of their exhibits.  Actors and teachers and writers and musicians are reading stories for kids online.  Chefs are hosting online cooking classes.  Trainers and gyms are offering online workouts.  Musicians are live streaming “concerts” from their homes.

And yes, I know, these things aren’t available to all.  They require the luxury of a computer, or a tablet or a cell phone.  You need internet, or a cellular connection and not everyone has the privilege of having those things.

So….


Share the Good.  If you are among those able to continue working from home, if you aren’t facing a disruption in your pay and if you have a little to give, then find an organization that is helping to ease the hardships others are facing and make a donation.    There is no such thing as too small a financial gift.

Show up in whatever way you can.

We belong to each other.

Let’s be hero’s.

Trick or Treat! Don’t be an A**Hole….

“Therefore, it stands to reason, does it not, sisters dear? That we must find the book, brew the potion, and suck the lives out of the children of Salem before sunrise.”
~Winifred Sanderson, Hocus Pocus

Last year, my step-daughter, who was 14 and an 8th grader at the time, told us that while she was out trick-or-treating with some of her friends, an adult had commented, “Aren’t you a bit too old for this?

For months before that Halloween night, my step-daughter had agonized over whether or not she would trick-or-treat that year.  It was as though she had one foot solidly planted in her childhood and another tentatively taking her first steps into young adulthood.

It was clear she was growing-up and embracing opportunities to enjoy and explore her independence.  And my husband and I were happy, albeit a bit wistful, to allow her the space to expand.

But there were still glimpses of the little girl she’d once been.  The one who had delighted in the elaborate Halloween parties her dad and I had thrown for her and her brother when they were younger.  The one who could still be cajoled into participating with our son, seven years her junior, in the Easter basket scavenger hunts we created every year.  Even the occasional game of make-believe wasn’t entirely out of the question.

So when she talked about trick-or-treating that year, it was with a nostalgic sort of sadness.  A part of her was saying that maybe it was time to hang it up, but her heart and her spirit were still drawn to the simple joy of walking the neighborhood on a crisp fall evening, shouting “Trick-or-Treat!” and then returning home to count and sort her haul.

Her friend group was split about 50/50 between those wanting to go and those wanting to do something a bit more grown-up, like a costume party at someone’s house.  And as the date got closer, it was beginning to seem as though most of the girls in the trick-or-treat camp, were gradually beginning to veer more toward the party.

When my step-daughter talked about it, tears welled in her eyes.  We told her, “You can always come trick-or-treating with us!”  Meaning her baby brother, her dad and I.  But we understood that wasn’t the point.  She wanted to cling to that experience with her friends.  She didn’t want to be left behind.  She wanted them to stay with her in that piece of childhood, just a little longer.  I could understand.

When I was a kid, Halloween was my absolute favorite time of the year.  I loved all the movies and neighborhood lawn decorations, the costumes and of course trick-or-treating.

As my brother and I got older, we were allowed to trick-or-treat with a group of other neighborhood children by ourselves.  We would tear through the streets, hitting as many houses as possible on foot, before returning home to dump out the pillowcases we carried, for maximum capacity candy collecting, and then we would hop on our bikes and branch out into other neighborhoods until the last porch light went out.

I loved the freedom of that night.  Cruising the streets, long after dark, with a gaggle of other kids.  And we were all quietly well aware of the responsibilities that came with that freedom.  We were always respectful of other trick-or-treaters, adults and the homeowners property.  So tenuous did we feel that privilege was, that we made sure to never even walk on someone’s lawn if it could be helped.

In those few hours on Halloween night, we were learning what it was like to be responsible for ourselves and to make good, safe choices, without a grown-up standing by.

And it was fun!  Even as we too began to find ourselves in that space between childhood and adolescence, we still reveled in the joy of dressing up and losing our angst for a while, consumed in the spirit of Halloween.

I don’t recall anyone ever saying that I was too old to trick-or-treat.  I made the decision to stop going when I started high school.  But that first year I stayed home and passed out candy, instead of collecting it, plenty of my classmates still came to my door.  I envied them a bit, but I didn’t feel sorry for myself.  The time had simply passed into a cherished memory for me and it had been allowed to happen in my own time.

Fortunately, my step-daughter has some great friends and a few were willing to indulge her desire to trick-or-treat that last year.  So they struck a compromise.  They agreed they would meet at a friends house, who was hosting a costume party for all the girls, trick-or-treat for a bit and then return to the party.  It seemed she would get the best of both worlds.

And by all accounts, the girls were having a great time.  They weren’t heckling the little one’s, or taking handfuls of candy from unattended candy bowls left to the honor system.  They were giggling their way from house to house, in full costume, saying trick-or-treat and thank you along the way.

When my step-daughter told us later about the woman who had chastised the girls for being too old to participate, it was clear she’d been hurt by it.  The woman had made them feel embarrassed, ashamed and self-conscious.  Feelings that, quite frankly, are all too common for teenagers, like, 99.9% of the time as it is, without some snotty middle-aged woman adding fuel to the fire because she thinks she’s the designated trick-or-treat police.

I can barely look at social media these days without seeing some meme, or editorial, bitching about “kids these days.”  How they can’t seem to be able to handle life’s ups and downs.  Well, maybe we should stop evicting them from childhood before they’re ready.

So, “old people these days” calm the fuck down.  Let them be kids.  Let them linger in innocence for as long as they can, because once it’s gone, it’s gone.  And I think for far too many, it’s gone long before they are even close to being ready for it.

And if you can’t do that, you should do what the generations of crabby old people who came before you have done.  Turn off your porch light and hide in the dark.

Happy Halloween!  Don’t be a jerk.

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No, Means F**k Off….

A couple of months ago, I was in my old hometown having lunch with a friend I hadn’t seen in a number of years.

As we chatted about life,  she told me about her employment lay-off that happened over a year ago.  After struggling, still struggling, to find another full time job, she started driving for Uber and Lyft as a way to make ends meet.

“How’s that going?” I asked

“It’s fine,” she said.  “For the most part, everyone has been cool and I’ve only had a few issues.”

“Like, what kind of issues?”  I asked.  “Creepers?  

“Yeah,” she said, “definitely some of them.”

She told me about a young guy she picked up from a not so great part of town.  She doesn’t like driving over there, but no one does, so the shortage of drivers means more opportunities for her to make some much needed money.

The ride started out quiet, but as she drove, she noticed, out of the corner of her eye, something waving back and forth between the driver and passenger seats.  When she looked, it was the guy waving a twenty-dollar bill.

“No,” she said.  “You’re all set.  The app is linked to a form of payment and that’s how you’ll be charged.  We don’t take cash.”

He continued to wave the twenty.

“We don’t take cash and we don’t carry cash.  I have no cash, at all”  she said, at this point fearing she was about to be robbed.

“What else do you do?” He asked.

“This is all I do.”  She said.

Then, he asked if she wanted to suck his dick.  For twenty-dollars.

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“WOW, a whole twenty-dollars?  I said.  Do you think it’s because you’re getting old and you’re not as hot as you used to be?”  

“Probably,” she laughed.  “I told him I was old enough to be his mother, but he didn’t care.”

“Ah, well, maybe he has some kind of poor, old lady, mom fetish.”  I said.

“You suck!”  She laughed through her signature cackle.

“Not for twenty-dollars, I don’t.” 

All joking aside though, it was a scary experience for my friend.  She told this guy repeatedly and without an ounce of ambiguity, “No,” and “You are making me uncomfortable, please stop,” before pulling over in a busy parking lot and telling him to get the fuck out of her car.

To which he replied, “Seriously?”  As though she were being unreasonable.

She also told me about another man she picked up from the airport.  She said he was nice looking, dressed well and for the first few minutes of the ride, made polite small talk before launching into his troubles with women.

He said he was shy and sensitive, which he repeated….over and over….as he talked about his struggles with dating.  Then, he told her that his biggest fantasy was to just lie in bed naked with a woman and talk.

When they arrived at his home, he invited her in to fulfill his fantasy.  In exchange for a great review on the ride share app.

0-1.jpegShe declined.

I told her she probably dodged the kind of bullet that results in being chained up in a basement, before being deposited into a dumpster.

At one point my friend sighed and said, “I knew what I was getting into when I decided to do this.” 

A statement which can be applied to virtually everything, if you are a woman.  We are practically born a cautionary tale.

“She knew what the risks were when she went to the grocery store for milk after dark.”

“She should have known what she was getting into when she decided to go for a jog in a park.”

“It’s her own fault, really.  She answered the door.”

“Ah, well, it’s the price she pays for, you know, existing.” 

It’s bullshit.

Women want to be able to walk safely through life.  We want to go to our jobs, go out with friends, walk through a parking lot, have a drink in a bar, call for a ride, take a bus, a train, a plane….all the stuff of basic living….and do so without the risk of being harassed, molested, raped, murdered.

So, this one is for you fellas in the back.  The guys who hear “NO” and think it means, “I can be forcefully persuaded.”  

Let me put it out there in words you might better understand:

l. No woman who isn’t advertising her sexual services for pay, wants to suck your dick for twenty-dollars, or any dollars.  No matter how cleverly you try and work the request into a cheesy, lame, awful pick-up line.  

In fact, I’m going to go ahead and speak for all women-kind when I say….no woman is particularly interested in sucking your dick.

Ever.

We may offer it up when engaged in mutually consensual sex, but it’s not on the top ten list of things we like to do.

So if we don’t directly offer it, kindly keep your chump change and your penis out of our faces.

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2.  A short skirt isn’t an invitation.

Would you like it, if every time you wore one of those stupid t-shirts that says something like, “I Make Inappropriate Choices When I Drink” or “My Pen Is Huge” (eye-roll), someone bigger came along and forcibly violated you in YOUR orifice?

How about I just walk up to you and kick you directly in the balls?

Or, would you prefer I grab hold of them and squeeze until it makes you want to cry from both humiliation and pain?

That seems a fair exchange for an unsolicited slap on the ass, or a boob grab, no?


3.  Remember that time you were working as a pizza delivery guy and you showed up at that Malibu beach house where that sexy housewife answered the door and then invited you in for a threesome with her equally sexy neighbor who just happened to be hanging out topless and spread eagle on the kitchen table?

No, you don’t.  Because it didn’t happen and it didn’t happen for any of your buddies either.

We don’t hang out naked with our girlfriends in locker rooms/saunas/hot tubs, getting all hot and bothered with each other hoping you’ll burst onto the scene dressed like a plumber.

We aren’t wearing sexy lingerie under our workout clothes, waiting with bated breath for you to take us behind the gym, or more realistically, Target.

In other words, if you saw it in a movie.  No.  Just no.

When Debbie does Target, she really just wants to go in there for one thing and come out with fifty things….none of which include you, your commentary, or any of your DNA.

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4.  If you’re just standing there, you’re guilty by association.

In college, I worked at a popular local restaurant in Virginia Beach.  A male manager named Matt bombarded me on the regular with offensive comments.  He also couldn’t keep his hands to himself.

Once, he came up behind me and kissed me behind my ear and then bit me on the shoulder hard enough to leave a bruise in the shape of his teeth.

Another time, he approached me while I stood with a group of my co-workers in the dining room, waiting for the restaurant to open for the evening.  As we all stood chatting and laughing beneath a giant paper mâché dragon that decorated the room, Matt walked up and said to me, “Why don’t you go slip on a pair of black panties and dance with the dragon for me.”

In the early years of my professional career, it wasn’t unusual for me, at times, to be the only woman in a room full of men who called me sweetie and honey and never once used my actual name.

Once, prior to a financial planning meeting with an all male executive team, a female Admin who was sitting in on the meeting, told me afterward that before I’d arrived, one of the local VP’s had asked the group if they’d all met me.

A few said they hadn’t, and in response the VP told them, “Wait until you see her.  She’s hot.  You’ll never be able to tell her no.”

I was humiliated.  I had worked hard on my presentation and the research that backed up the financial requests of my department.  At the time, I was the youngest and the first female in the organizations history, to have been promoted into the upper level management role I held.

In the wake of that meeting, I wondered how much of it I had earned through the hours of hard work I’d put in and how much of it had been handed to me because I was a good looking token.

In both of these examples, the other men in the room didn’t say a word.  Many were men I trusted, considered friends, and/or even professional mentors.

Over the years, I would learn to identify, by their awkward and nervous shuffles and the way they averted their eyes, which men found the behavior of their male counterparts inappropriate, but none of them had the, um, balls, to speak up and say so.

I know the good guys are out there.  Step-up and speak-up.  We need your advocacy and partnership and support.


5.  No means fuck off.

It doesn’t mean maybe.

It doesn’t mean….please keep on harassing me and/or groping me, because I’m right on the cusp of saying yes.  I just need a little more pressure to get there.

It doesn’t mean….no, but I’m kind of hoping you’ll slip me the date rape drug.

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Want to know what does mean, yes?

YES

It’s really not that hard.


It’s 2019 and we’re still debating whether or not a woman should have complete control over her own body.

There are many who still grouse about how young women dress these days and people who say things like, “cover up, it’s too distracting for your male counterparts.”

We’re still teaching young women that they are responsible for a man’s behavior.  While teaching young men that they have no accountability for their actions; that women are a free for all.

Too many shrug and say, “Ah, well, boys will be boys” and “That’s just locker room talk.” But when a woman expresses/explores her sexuality, she’s a slut who had it coming.

When women are assertive, we’re told we’re too bossy, too frigid, too much, a bitch.  And to be fair, when men aren’t, they are too soft, too much of a pussy, a bitch.

It reeks.  And not just the typical stench of misogyny, patriarchal ideology, oppression and abuse of power.  It reeks of weakness and desperation and fear, really.

I think it’s the fear that strength of character will become more important than strength of power and force….and not just when it’s fashionable, or convenient, to say it out loud, on public platforms.  But because it will become, fundamentally, the right thing to do when everyone is watching and when no one is watching.

Imagine a world where the shit actually rises to the top and is skimmed away and discarded, immediately.

And if that were the way of things, imagine all the actors and musicians and sports figures and religious leaders whose names we might have never known, but who might have been replaced by better talents.  People who never got a chance, because the wrong kind of people were taking up all the space.  What might they have accomplished?

Imagine all the politicians and lawmakers and businessmen who would have never had an opportunity to impact public policy.

And imagine what might have become of the victims, if they’d never been victims.

It changes everything….

Chicks Before….Well, You Know….

“Somebody asked me if I knew you….A million memories flashed through my mind, but I just smiled and said I used to.”
~Unknown

About a year ago, my best friend and I broke up.

It’s not the first time we’ve been angry with each other and it’s not the first time we’ve gone a long stretch without speaking; each of us too angry, stubborn and self-righteous to extend the olive branch that would bring us back to one another.

But in the past, it had never been a question of if we would reconcile.  It was just a matter of when.  We were drawn to each other in a way that made the idea of going through life without the other, inconceivable.

Ours was a friendship that was forged in our childhood.  We’re cousins, but our biology wasn’t what bonded us.  In our family, familial bonds are tenuous at best.  Not even a wedding, or a funeral are guaranteed reunions.

We chose our friendship and we worked to maintain it.  Even when the adults in our lives were falling apart and fighting and cared little for their collateral damage.

So in many ways, we were each others refuge.  Not just from the storms in our family, but through the storms of adolescence and all the ups and downs that come with being teenagers and then young adults.

We had our own language that consisted of facial expressions and single words that just between us, could convey an entire story.  And we had so many stories that made up a crazy, beautiful tapestry of life and love and loss and friendship and growth and adventures.

We were each others witness; keepers.

This break-up though, is different.  At least for me.  This time, it’s for good.

The title above would suggest it was a guy who came between us, but in truth, he was just a catalyst.  We are deeper and more complicated than that.

For a long time, we had been walking roads that seemed to run parallel to one another.  Our roads weren’t exactly the same, we each had our own goals and obstacles to overcome.  But we remained close enough to hold hands as we helped each other over and around and through.

But eventually, our roads began to diverge.  As we headed in fundamentally different directions, I tried to pull her onto my path.   Not because hers was no good, or because mine was so much better, but because I could clearly see that we were headed toward very different horizons.

We had grown up with one another and then we had grown out and away into very different people.  Our relationship lived solidly in the past.  It required that we constantly double back to the place where our roads still ran side by side in order for us to find one another again; back to the people we had been before we’d become wives and mother’s and had to make difficult decisions about careers and family and finances and all the other grown-up hard stuff of life.

But you can’t stay in the past.  You can visit it and reminisce and then you have to return to the present and keep pressing forward.  And I had to admit that the people we’d become, had stopped being the others keeper and witness a long time ago.

In these last several years, our friendship had begun to feel like something I was holding tight to so that it wouldn’t escape.  I was exhausted by it and as this last year has passed, I’ve wondered what to do next.

The idea that if you love something you should let it go, seemed too simple and easy, but then again, if it felt that way, I thought there was a reason for that.

And then, the other day, while driving, I heard a remix of the song 99 Red Balloons and I thought, “Yes, this makes sense,” as I sang along….

It’s all over and I’m standin’ pretty
In the dust that was a city, 
If I could find a souvenir
Just to prove the world was here
And here it is, a red balloon
I think of you and let it go….

A Funny Thing Happened While I Was Burying a Groundhog….

“Ashes to ashes – Dust to dust.” ~The Bible?

All spring, my family and I have delighted in watching a trio of baby groundhogs hanging out in our yard.

Sometimes, they are accompanied by a larger groundhog who we have been calling Homer P. Groundhog for the last couple of years.  Although, it’s more likely that we should be calling her Henrietta, since according to my research, male groundhogs are dead beat dads.

As the spring has progressed, we’ve watched as the trio has become increasingly more  independent and brave; venturing further into the yard and away from the comforts of one another and their various hiding places.

Today, while I was busy moving a large pile of mulch, I saw the trio peeping in and out of the wood-line at the back of our property and darting in and out from underneath our shed.  It was as though they were watching me work and hoping I might stop to play.

So, I started singing just like Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty and they ran into my arms for a cuddle, while a tiny bluebird perched on my shoulder and a baby bunny hoped excitedly around my feet waiting to be picked up.  I may or may not have made that last bit up.

Anyway,  as I continued my chores, I was oblivious to the predator lurking in the trees until it was too late.  As I was making my way through the lawn with a wheel-barrow full of mulch intended for a flower bed around our shed, I saw a huge hawk take flight from the ground near the doorway.

I was momentarily in awe of the bird.  I’ve seen them quite a bit, but never that close and I’ve never seen one land in the yard.  Wow, I thought.  I wish had been able to get a picture.  

Then, as I continued toward the shed, I saw him….one of the trio….lying motionless on the ground.

“Oh, no!”  I said, crouching to see if he might still be breathing.  There were no significant injuries that I could see at first, but upon closer inspection, I saw a small amount of blood on his chest near one of his little armpits.

“Really?”  I said, looking up into the trees where the hawk was perched.  “That is so fucked up.  He was a baby.  You should be ashamed of yourself.”  

“Get away from my kill, or I’ll scalp you.”  The hawk said in return.

“Just try it, assshole.”  I said, waving my shovel in his direction.

After shouting profanities at one another for a couple of minutes, I told him he should come and claim his meal.  But he just called me an overly sensitive bitch and asked me if I was on my period, before taking flight and fleeing the scene of his crime, leaving me to deal with the body.

As I stood there, I saw two tiny heads, what remained of the trio, now the duo, poke out from underneath the shed before quickly disappearing again.

I said nothing, just stood there.  Again, the duo poked their little heads out, but this time, they made a tiny, high pitched barking noise before hiding again.

I backed away and for the next hour, I watched as the duo peeked out from underneath the shed, calling for their sibling.  Ugh, it was heartbreaking.

I didn’t want them to have to continue to see their loved one like that; dead and waiting to be claimed by something, so I decided to bury him.

I was making the grave marker out of two sticks and some twine, when two men pulled into the driveway.  About a week ago, I had posted some old fencing material for the taking on Facebook Marketplace and the two were there to claim it.

“Hey,” I said, the makeshift cross in my hand, “I just buried something in the woods.”  

It wasn’t until the words had spilled from my mouth that I realized how creepy and odd they must have sounded.  And so of course, I decided to run with the theme.

“What did you bury?”  One of the men asked me.

“I can’t tell you that,” I said.  “You know where I live now.  Come along though.  The stuff you’re looking for is in the woods back here.”  

Then, I began to whistle a tune as I walked towards the woods with my little crucifix;  (One, two, Freddy’s coming for you)….”Just a little farther, we’re almost there.”

Just before we hit the path to the woods, I stopped and said, “I was just joking.  I buried a groundhog.”

They did not seem assuaged….but who could blame them, really?  I mean, what kind of a person buries a groundhog?

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