Poop

Look, I am about to blog about something stupid. It’s supposed to be funny and make you laugh, and I hope it does.

Because I have nothing to say about the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that hasn’t been said. I am horrified. I am filled with despair and anger. Flora and I were driving to Philadelphia when Dan called and told me about it. I nearly burst into tears on the spot. This is my city. The neighborhood where it took place is where my brother and SIL and their family live. It’s a wonderful, diverse part of Pittsburgh. And having tragedy touch down there is beyond me. Beyond my ability to talk about it.

So: Instead, I am going to tell you a story. A story about me and… port-a-potties.

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Outhouses. Port-o-johns. Port-a-potties.

Whatever you call them, I think we can all agree: They are awful to use.

And yet, use them we must.

When I was in my first trimester of pregnancy with Michael, Kate was still in the throes of potty training. We had gotten her most of the way there, but the second she heard there was a baby on the way, I swear she took it personally. She regressed pretty hard on the potty front.

Also at this time, we were exploring organized sports with Flora. We signed her up for U5 soccer, which I refer to as herd ball.

Also at this time: It was hot that spring.

Picture me, stumbling with pregnancy-related exhaustion and sickness, following a 3-year-old around an outdoor soccer field where the only bathroom option was a port-a-potty. I already had a natural aversion to them. I’d rather wander into some trees in the woods and squat to pee than use a port-a-potty, but this is not an option with a 3-year-old in a public place.

And Kate loved the port-a-potty. She was fascinated. And when a potty-training three-year-old says she has to go potty… you don’t tell her she has to wait until you get home.

I would escort Kate to the door of the port-a-potty, and get her as ready as I could to enter and *gag* sit. I would wipe the seat if necessary, and I would stand in the doorway, with the door propped open, basically trying not to breathe.

It was a disgusting three months (April, May, June).

We all (obviously) survived. But the experience left me with a visceral and negative reaction to even the idea of using a port-a-potty.

Of course, in a bitterly ironic twist of fate, I have had the awful experience of not having indoor toilet options over several of the past weekends. Two weekends ago was our annual trek to Linn Run State Park, where none of the cabins have running water, and there are two outhouses and one bathroom. My best advice to my daughters if they needed to use the outhouse near our cabin was: breathe through your mouth and don’t look down.

Flora’s day-long row events (of which there have been two, and another is upcoming this weekend) do not take place in areas where wandering into a gas station and using the toilet is easy.

At the Head of the Ohio race, I used a port-a-potty around 9 a.m. Toilet paper was already gone, and I made the mistake of not holding my breath immediately. I almost vomited. Near the end of the day, I walked up to the outdoor bar at the restaurant on Washington’s Landing, and bought a beer so I could go inside and use the bathroom.

My experience at the Head of the Schuylkill wasn’t much better, but I did remember to bring napkins with me at least. I only made one port-a-potty stop over the entire day; Flora made exactly zero; and we stopped at the first rest area on the turnpike on the way home.

And now, this weekend, to add insult to injury, I am menstruating AND we are headed to a race in Fairfax.

via GIPHY

Life is poopy. No pun intended.

I get literal anxiety about this stuff. Like “wakes me up at night:” what am I going to do dealing with period stuff and port-a-potties.

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Kate and I talked about what we would do if we won the Mega Millions the weekend we were in Linn Run. We decided we would donate to the park so they could put running water in each cabin (just a sink), and replace both outhouses with real bathrooms.

I hope the Head of the Occoquam is within walking distance to a coffee shop, a gas station, anything. They will get my money if I can have a seat without holding my breath.

One more weekend until we vote, America. Let’s get it over the finish line this time, and start the end of our national nightmare.

And may all your bathrooms be of the indoor type, clean, and sweet-smelling.

What do you have ridiculous anxiety about?

Escapism

I reached my limit about two weeks ago, when Dr. Blasey Ford came forward with her allegations against Kavanaugh.

I’ve been struggling — as any remaining regular readers know — since Election Day 2016. This latest outrage perpetuated on the American people pretty much broke me, coming, as it does, after the endless stream of hate, corruption, disregard, and naked power grabbing by the people in power. Add the Catholic Church criminal scandal on top of it?

For my own piece of mind, for my own burgeoning anxiety, I have withdrawn. I have drawn into my family life. My daily routine is tightly focused on my job and the four people in my household.

I barely listen to the news anymore; I have been tuning out whenever T*ump speaks for years, anyway — I cannot abide the sound of his voice. And now, anytime #Kavanaugh is mentioned, I have to change the station too. The endless speculation about what is true and what is not, and the utter helplessness I feel watching as the GOP ignores every red flag because nothing matters to them except to sit THIS guy to give cover to their leader — the rage is all encompassing.

I have almost completely forsaken Facebook; my time on Twitter has been severely curtailed. Because as far as I’m concerned, it’s not up for debate.

It’s just not. Two words: Merrick Garland.

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Controlling what I can

1. My anxiety is so bad that I have lost my appetite, which makes meal planning not only challenging, but downright unappealing. Here’s how I’m dealing with that:

A. I got a coupon for $50 off of Blue Apron, so I signed up for that (for two weeks). The first box is due to be delivered tomorrow. I only signed up for vegetarian meals for two, just so I could have a sample of a) how much prep work was needed; b) if the food was good; c) if it was going to be cost effective for my family at the regular price.

Glancing at the program, and at similar meal delivery programs, I have the most doubt about c. They seem to range in price from $8 to $12 per plate per meal. I may as well take the family out every night if it’s going to cost $12 a plate, and take a lot of time and clean up in the kitchen.

B. I am trying to find prepare-ahead freezer meals that I can prep on weekends and cook either in the slow cooker during the day, or pop in the oven (or have the children pop in the oven) when I get home. The first two I tried to make for the family were only so-so (came from this site), the Chinese Beef and Broccoli, and the Honey Rosemary Chicken. The latter seemed better, and I think with a couple of tweaks, suggested by a friend of mine, it will be better received when I try it again. (Namely, use thighs, not just breasts, and use some butter.) This will be an ongoing experiment. I want to see how my family feels about the Lemon Chicken, and find some vegetarian recipes. We invested in a timer for this and everything so I can set it up before I leave for work, and come head to a done meal!

2. Escape into the TV. We don’t have cable any longer, so I don’t have to worry about tuning out TV news. The four big shows we are into these days are: Steven Universe (me and the children), The Good Place (Dan, me, and the girls), Castle Rock and Luke Cage (just me).

I am simply enamored with Steven Universe, as are the children. Such a quirky fun show; Rebecca Sugar is a national treasure. It’s got some underlying themes that make it a good place to talk about relationships, love, friendship and loyalty.

3. Romance novels! Yeah, I said it.

In the midst of the Kavanaugh nomination process, I checked out Jessica Valenti’s book Sex Object, A Memoir. But I was too horrified and enraged, and I had to stop reading it. So I turned to romance novels, and discovered Wendy Wax — simple, formulaic, and female-centric, and absolutely light. I am waiting on a couple of Ilona Andrews titles as well.

I can’t deal with the outside world right now. Sue me.

4. Which doesn’t mean I’m not in the fight. I am making my calls (often shaking in anger), sending emails (same!), and writing postcards. I have my lawn signs up.

November 6th cannot come fast enough.

How are you coping? If you are coping?

Separate

I drafted the following from several petitions circulating about the separation of families at the border. I emailed all my representatives in Congress and the Director of Homeland Security. I find this policy cruel, and the trauma we are inflicting on these children and families unconscionable.

I am calling to demand that you speak out against and work to end the horrific policy of separating families seeking refuge and asylum in the United States. I want you to know that, as a voter, I am paying attention to your voting record on this issue. Families belong together.

I have been watching this story develop in horror. I am writing to you today to take action and stop separating families. Stop taking the children of immigrants and asylum-seekers and sending them to detention centers. Separating families is inhumane, and the policy — which is not a law — should end. It should have never begun!

Justification for this vile practice does not exist. These families and children are not threats to the safety of the United States. Policies exist to protect these children, and still keep them with their parents. It’s cruel to punish parents who are doing everything they can to protect their children and to punish children by depriving them of their parents. Separating a child from a mother or father only leads to more trauma for all.

Family unity is one of our core values and is reflected in our laws. Our government has a responsibility under U.S. immigration law to hear a person’s immigration or asylum case, not to try to scare them away from asking for help. Doing so puts these families at extremely high risk of experiencing further rights violations.

Separating families is also expensive. By some estimates, the government practice of detaining mothers and children apart from each other would cost taxpayers an average of $327 million per year. And keeping families locked up together is also expensive and cruel, when there are cost efficient and effective alternatives to detention. That money won’t make our country safer; it would only waste taxpayer dollars.

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Before this horrific policy came to light, I was having anxiety about sending my children to Florida with our nanny. (Hey, it was her idea.) Many parents in my demographic do this type of thing though. We send our children to overnight camps, on trips with babysitters or families; we travel without our children to stay in touch as couples.

And, yes, for an anxious person like myself, this can be stressful. But my children are with people I trust, and we can touch base via cell phones — thank goodness for technology — so my anxiety is the normal price of being a parent.

What is going on at the southern border of America is not normal. These parents are not choosing to be separated from their children, and they are not given access to them to make sure they are safe and taken care of. We are traumatizing these families needlessly. I am glad to see people in the streets about this, and I will continue to hector my representatives until the policy is ended.

For more information, and to stay active, visit the Action Network for Families Belong Together.

Copyright: sifotography / 123RF Stock Photo

Boys

A few lessons for boys on life, and how it works sometimes.

1. Keep your hands to yourself. From horseplay and wrestling with your friends, to the bodies of potential romantic interests, ask for and receive consent before reaching out to touch someone.

2. Girls and women are people too. Your mom isn’t your maid or nanny. Your sisters aren’t punching bags. And, again, potential romantic partners don’t owe you anything. Women are human beings with their own agency. They (we) don’t exist to make your lives better, easier, or more pleasurable. We got our own stuff going on.

3. Feelings are okay. Even feelings that hurt. Being sad or disappointed isn’t going to kill you. Crying tears doesn’t make you any less of a person. No one needs to protect you from feeling bad. Learn to experience your emotions; learn how to express them constructively. If you aren’t getting these lessons at home, get some therapy to help you figure it out.

4. Keep your eyes on your own work. Do not buy into any school or workplace policy that polices girls’ clothing or body for the sake of YOUR learning. You can redirect your thoughts to your work even if you do get distracted by a leg or a collarbone. Save it up for bedtime, my dude. (Oh, and start washing your own sheets.) Girls are in school to learn (and at work to work), and don’t need the bullshit of being pulled out of class because someone got a little uncomfortable in their pants. Think of cold showers, and do your algebra.

5. Do. Not. Interrupt. Or. Correct. Girls. You don’t know everything about everything. You will never know everything about everything. Stay in your lane.

6. I’m going to say this loud, because this message isn’t getting through to some of y’all. YOU ARE NOT OWED SEX. NO ONE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING SURE YOU GET TO FUCK. If you have a little voice in your head telling you that it’s unfair that Stacy is sleeping with Chad, and that Becky wants to sleep with Chad, but she’s not because Chad is sleeping with Stacy, but Becky won’t sleep with you, either — guess what, buttercup? Life isn’t fair. Also, stop lumping women into two groups, either Beckys or Stacys. That’s gross.

7. “No.” is a complete sentence. Learn to accept that, and move on with your life.

8. Violence isn’t the solution to any of your problems. Hitting other people isn’t going to make you bigger or your life better. Taking a gun to school (or church, or the movies, or a nightclub) and killing people isn’t going to change your life. It’s going to destroy or end it.

9. Being bullied isn’t an excuse for violence. Being told no is not bullying.

10. You are responsible for yourself. If you take no other lesson into adulthood with you, take this one. (Well, this one and “Women are people.”)

  • YOU are responsible for your thoughts and your actions. No one can make you feel anything, and no one can make you do anything.
  • YOU are responsible for the consequences of your actions. It’s not someone else’s fault that you got a bad grade, or were reprimanded by a teacher, or cannot get a date. If you are constantly blaming other people for what is wrong with your life, you need to step back and search your soul.
  • Mental illness and/or strong feelings are not excuses for your behavior. If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, if no one ever taught you to express your anger constructively, GO SEEK HELP.

Aside: I swear, men learned the “blame someone else” from Genesis in the Bible. “The woman made me eat the apple, God,” sez Adam. God should’ve ended that nonsense right there: “No, my child. You wanted the apple for yourself, so you took of it and ate it. And now there are consequences for all y’all.”

What else do boys need to know?

Marvel

This post contains some profanity, as well as SPOILERS for Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War, so read at your own risk.

That said:

What the ever-loving fuck, Marvel??

I am not a movie buff, by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not even a frequent movie-goer. I don’t watch Oscar-nominated films on purpose. And I’m not much of a critic. I just want to be entertained.

To that end, I do like a big-budget blockbuster. Many of the movies I have made an effort to see in theaters (not counting animated movies; see: children) are movie franchises with million-dollar budgets and special effects galore: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars films. I went to go see Jumanji on the big screen because it looked hella entertaining (it was).

When it comes to superhero movies, I am a Marvel girl (as opposed to DC). The only DC film I’ve watched is Wonder Woman. And, I will add here: I am not a comic book reader. I have no idea how true to any of the comics these movies are. It doesn’t overly concern me.

It’s shorter to list the superhero Marvel films (since the first Iron Man) that I haven’t seen. My favorite so far has been Black Panther; second on my list is Guardians of the Galaxy. Still, I wouldn’t have said that I was invested in the Marvel movies (and not a few of the television shows as well), but then we went to see Avengers Infinity War, and I’m still upset.

I started getting nervous about the outcome of the film when Vision and The Scarlet Witch/Wanda were attacked in Scotland. Thantos and his alien band of terrorists seemed quite unstoppable. And the Hulk wasn’t appearing to wreak his usual, unbeatable brand of whoop-ass.

But: It’s a superHERO film! No one dies in superhero films (except for Phil Coulson, and he gets resurrected for Agents of Shield)! No matter what types of marauding hordes are attacking Earth, or Asgard, or the galaxy, our heroes were there to save the day.

That proves very much to not be the case in Infinity War. Loki and Heimdall get offed in the first scene (so mean, killing Idris Elba); Thor certainly appears to perish in the cold reaches of space.

But I should have sensed we were in big trouble when Thantos tossed Gamora to her death. Aside: GURL, HOW DO YOU NOT SEE WHAT’S COMING? RUN!

Infinity War is an entertaining and fun film for the most part (except for that Gamora thing). It’s so great seeing each of the heroes get their moment; the appearance of Peter Dinklage is inspired; and it’s FUNNY. General Okoye to T’challa right before the final battle scene, “When you said we were going to open up Wakanda, this is not what I imagined.” T’challa, “What did you imagine?” Okoye: “I don’t know, the Olympics? Maybe a Starbucks?”

And then the final two minutes of the movie happen, and I am still not over it. I was too stunned to even fucking cry. I hardly believed it when Black Panther — what, disintegrated? Like: No fucking way that just happened.

And it kept happening: Scarlet Witch, Bucky, Spiderman, Dr. Strange, all the Guardians except Rocket — apparently Groot’s last word, directed toward Rocket, was “Dad.”

via GIPHY

Of course, we sat through the credits — we’re very familiar with the Marvel easter eggs, after all. And I still don’t know what’s going to happen next (because I didn’t recognize that icon on Nick Fury’s special decoder signal call thingie — which, who even knows if that call went through before Fury, too, disintegrates).

We know there’s a Guardians of the Galaxy 3; we know there’s an fourth Avengers movie. DO THEY ALL COME BACK? DO THEY FIND THANTOS AND USE THE TIME STONE TO FIX WHAT’S WRONG? I NEED TO KNOW!

Okay, I don’t really need to know, but man. You can’t just *poof* Black Panther like that. Even Flora, who is less of a movie buff than I, was quite upset.

Walking out of that theater was like walking out of a funeral (h/t Dan). It was so quiet. I can’t decide if I’m too mad to ever go see another Marvel movie again — I know, it’s fiction, but you just don’t expect evil and madness to WIN like that — or if the suspense is going to be too brutal to think about.

I guess in the meantime, I’ll go watch season 2 of Jessica Jones. Oh, Jessica, hold me.

Did you see it? Did you hate it? DO YOU KNOW WHAT’S NEXT?

Copyright for featured image: olehsvetiukha / 123RF Stock Photo

Two rally banners: Books Not Bullets and Protect children not guns

March

Saturday, Dan, the children, and I went downtown to the March for Our Lives rally.

(We missed marching from the City County Building to Market Square due to work [him] and child logistics [me]. But we got to the rally as it began.)

It was the first real political action we had taken in general (aside from voting, writing letters, and/or making phone calls). It certainly was the first time we involved the children in action.

It won’t be the last.

I hope the grownups are paying attention. These children — my children — are growing up under a cloud of possible violence. Many of the children who spoke at the rally on Saturday had already been directly impacted by gun violence in their communities. Their friends were dead; they were living with fear and anxiety.

Many of these children will be able to vote in November. And any politician who is not actively seeking to make a difference when it comes to gun control laws is going to find himself out in the cold, and deservedly so.

I know it gave me hope. I hope it gave Flora some hope. She and I walked the square, and we bought some pins (Flora’s: Fight Like a Girl), and M4OL bracelets. (Flora, yesterday: “Do you think I should wear my bracelet to school?” Me: “I do. I think you have supportive friends. Some of your friends participated in the walk out.” Flora: “I’m going to do it!”)

It was extremely moving as well. The politicians who spoke were politicians. But the children and non-politicians who spoke owned the crowd. A number of 17-year-old girls had time on the stage; the Pittsburgh March itself was organized by two sisters from Shadyside Academy, a 16-year-old and a 15-year-old. Parents and siblings who had been traumatized by guns spoke up and spoke out. And there was a HUGE call for intersectionality. The children are reaching out to children of color and communities of color who have been under assault from gun violence for decades. They want to make a difference for those communities too.

The NRA and people who oppose gun control can hurl insults and invective at these children. They can scoff. They can choose to believe that come November all this passion will have died down. That young people will continue to eschew voting and activism.

I say, let them have their denial. I believe in these children, in their passion and their voices. They are tired of the deaths of their peers, they are tired of the do-nothing politicians and their thoughts and prayer, they are galvanizing us adults to be the people they believe us to be.

Also, they have no illusions. They aren’t calling for guns to disappear, they understand the Second Amendment. But they also know that they have the momentum and popular support on their side. That the tide has turned.

That Enough is Enough. Never Again.

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Another first for me this month: I created an entire “Irish” meal for St. Patrick’s Day, which was a Saturday this year. Corned beef, mashed potatoes, Irish soda bread, and cabbage (sauteed, not boiled). Dan and I had Guinness as well, naturally. I was kind of proud of myself. I also learned that Dan loves corned beef (Michael and Kate enjoyed it too). So that will be something that maybe I’ll cook more than once a year.

Image of corned beef and cabbage on a plate, and some Irish soda bread.
Corned beef and cabbage, and my first loaf of Irish soda bread.

Did you do anything for the first time this month?

Bomb

The high school in my district has received two bomb threats (at least) since the shooting in Parkland, Fla.

Yesterday, they sent the high school children home early in “an abundance of caution.” Today, they told all the high school and middle school students to not bring backpacks or gym bags to school. The middle school is separate from the high school, but on the same campus. At the middle school, everyone was to be dropped off at one entrance, and children would be searched as they entered the school.

Delays were expected. The message from the school specifically asked that parents dress children for the weather because they were likely to be outside for a while.

Dan and I elected to keep the girls home from school today. (Michael’s school is not near the high school and middle school campus. His bus was so late today that Dan ended up driving him to school. The middle school and elementary schools share buses.)

The girls had asked to be kept home from school, as well, although Katie did miss a test. It was all very anxiety provoking.

On one hand, the likelihood of anything happening was very small. The threats were deemed “non-credible.” The administrations of both schools were taking every precaution they could. The schools had a police presence.

On the other hand, what used to be unthinkable is something that happens with some regularity now.

Part of me struggles to have sympathy for a child who feels the need to threaten to bomb his school. Clearly, someone acting that way has some issues, and is doing the only thing he can do to be heard and noticed.

Some of me wonders if it’s a child’s idea of a prank.

Some of me wonders if the child is simply a sociopath, enjoying the chaos and fear his actions are causing.

In those latter two cases, my sympathy shrivels.

I am not here for the debate on guns, although you can find plenty of my thoughts on them elsewhere on this blog.

I am not here for a debate on mental health or school safety, either. Do those things need to be addressed? Sure. In which case, fund them. Give people the resources they need to get mental health care, and to secure their schools — not by arming teachers. That is not the solution. Heck, give teachers the resources to actually TEACH, including basic supplies, in-classroom aides, and a supportive administration and board.

How much closer to home does it need to get for things to change?

I admire the passion and activism of the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. We are still talking about this a whole week plus later, which is a change. I am here for the change.

If you are interested in making a difference, find a March for Our Lives event near you.

Listen

The girls and have been watching Queer Eye on Netflix, a reboot of the Bravo channel show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. It is *highly* entertaining — and surprisingly moving.

These five gay men meet the men they are making over exactly where they are, with no judgement, and with nothing but encouragement and love.

They are better people than I, without question.

We watched Episode 3 last night. Titled “Dega Don’t”, it sends the guys to an Atlanta cop’s house to get him cleaned up, dressed up, and out for a date night with his wife and daughters.

Karamo, who is the culture guy, is a black man. At one point in the show, he and Cory, the cop, are riding somewhere in the car, and they start having a conversation. A real conversation. About black men and cops, about stereotypes, about the deep divides in this country.

And here’s the thing: They really listen to each other. You can see it. Cory is turned toward Karamo, and he doesn’t jump into the conversation. He doesn’t look like he’s thinking, “When is it my turn to speak?” And Karamo opens up to Cory. He admits he started off the makeover totally closed off to Cory — gay black man, white cop? In his words: “Nah.”

But instead of becoming more entrenched in their positions, they have a dialogue. Cory says he hates when police use unnecessary and deadly force, too, that it is especially problematic when it’s a white cop and black person. He doesn’t defend himself or people in his profession; he doesn’t justify the murder of unarmed black men. And Karamo is moved. They talk about their upbringing, and find out they have a lot in common. And by the end of the conversation, Cory says something to the effect of: I know that it’s going to take a lot more than two guys in a car, but if more people would talk about this, if more people would listen about this, it would be a big move toward uniting this country.

It gave me a lot to think about. Because I completely understand that I am part of the problem. I don’t know that I can overcome it when it comes to the political divide. I don’t know if I could open up and truly listen to a Trump voter: where they are, where they come from. I have a huge problem with our current administration.

I don’t know how we get back to being open and truly listening to each other, instead of shouting one another down. (Social media is no good for listening in general. There are rare exceptions.)

Maybe we admit, like Karamo does, like Cory does, “This is wrong.” Maybe we admit we are vulnerable and scared, and after that, find a way forward together.

But I don’t know how to make it happen. There are people I don’t talk to because I don’t trust them with my vulnerability, and I don’t trust them to listen to and hear me. It’s like writing to my representatives, and either getting a long letter full of GOP talking points — or, worse, being scorned and dismissed. I don’t want to take the risk.

Maybe more people need to listen to the cultural messages that exist out there in our pop culture — I am thinking specifically of the first post-credit scene in Black Panther, as well as the message the Fab Five give us each episode — maybe those kind of things are what we need to hear. Maybe there is common ground — hope? — from which we can step toward a prosperous and successful future together, rather than divided.

1 Kings 19:11-13 King James Version (KJV)
11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:

12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave.

Maybe we all need to be a lot more quiet, so we can hear.

Gerrymander

In case you don’t know, Pennsylvania is divided up in rather ridiculous ways for voting purposes. The GOP in PA drew up the voting districts in 2010 (I believe). Democrats sued, the PA Supreme Court said, Yeah, this isn’t fair or constitutional; try again. And now the Republican representatives want to impeach the judiciary.

Here, Tony Norman of the PG does a good job of talking about the issue.

Because I am find the idea of impeaching some judges abhorrent, I decided to send an email to my representative in the PA General Assembly. This is what I emailed.

Email text protesting the GOP gerrymandering in PA and their desire to impeach the court.
My email to Rep. Mustio

And the very next day, this is what I got back from Representative Mustio.

Mustio sez: Cut me a break.

Me: Oh no he didn’t.

via GIPHY

Yeah.

I cheerfully responded:

Oh, sir, no.
Respectfully yours.

Now, it turns out the Rep. Mustio is retiring and isn’t going to run for another term (boo hoo). I certainly will be paying close attention to the people who decide to run to replace him. And I am curious what reaction his fellow Republicans to Mr. Mustio’s response to me. Do they care? Can they be made to care? I bet with a new map they sure will!

The Republicans have lost their GD minds. Pennsylvania is not the only state with the GOP thinks that they can do anything they feel like; see also Wisconsin and North Carolina.

I honestly don’t know who these people think they are.

via GIPHY

If you think the election of the Great Orange Cheeto was going to take the wind out of Democrat and progressive sails, you have another thing coming. Listen up, GOP: There are more of us. And we are on fire. We are energized to vote in 2018 and beyond. Enjoy your petty little responses now. At least you have constituents for the time being. That won’t last with attitudes like Mustio’s.

Yes

What does a non-coercive sexual encounter look like?

Simple: It is two people saying yes to each other.

Let’s be clear about something: sex isn’t the end game here. Dating, sex, and relationships happen on a continuum. Sure, one-night stands happen; sometimes they are even the desired outcome.

One should still get consent. I would venture to say, even, that women and men can be clear about their intentions of having a one-night stand. “I’m not looking for a relationship, but you’re cute and I’m feeling frisky.” This way, no one’s waiting for a phone call.

We don’t need signed affidavits for consensual sex. The #MeToo movement isn’t going to ruin dating, flirting, or sex.

What a lot of men are just starting to realize is that the sexual interactions they are used to having aren’t necessarily fun for women. Outside of the troubling power dynamics of sexual harassment at the office, and outside outright assault and rape, there are still troubling interactions, messaging, and treatment that needs to be parsed.

We shouldn’t be afraid of this.

I once heard it said, “Sex is like pizza. Guys never have bad pizza.”

This isn’t true for women. Women get bad pizza sometimes. We are more vulnerable, and we’ve been conditioned from the youngest ages to go along to get along. It isn’t until we are in unpleasant sexual situations that we realize that it’s not going to work to our advantage.

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Expanding on a point I made the other day:

“Traditional ideas about seduction rely on tropes of women withholding sex and men working hard to get it. It’s a narrow notion of heterosexuality — one that does a good job excusing abusive behavior…. [W]hen it’s considered ‘natural’ for men to doggedly pursue women — even those have made it clear they’re not interested — we make it easier for a predator to claim he was just following a normal romantic script.” (source)

Having this conversation about affirmative consent isn’t going to kill dating and romance. It doesn’t mean that men have to sit back until women make the first move, either.

It means take no for an answer, the first time, every time.

It means when she starts saying yes, make sure she still is saying yes minutes, and hours, and days later. Maybe even years!

“But some women like playing hard to get.”

Okay, I hear what you are saying. But the idea that she’s just playing hard to get cannot be the default position. As someone who never played hard to get, this argument falls flat with me.

If you are dating a woman, or a woman has decided to take you home/go home with you, now is time not to push ahead at all costs. If you don’t know if she’s having second thoughts, just ask. Open it up! “Is this okay? What do you want to do?” Check in.

Frankly, many women would benefit from learning more about their own bodies and their own desire. Sexual education, whether in the classroom or in pop culture, centers on boys. Boys have orgasms and pleasure; girls get pregnant. Sexual education for girls is about our period, and how not to be mortified by our body.

I have many more thoughts about this, so if you’re still interested, stay tuned. But this is the takeaway from this post, for men AND women, boys AND girls: Let us learn the language of desire, and learn what “yes means yes” looks like in action. The agonizing going on now by people who don’t want anything to change is worthless. Let’s see some change.