Groupon Is Basically A Scam Now, and I’m The Last To Know (Also Men Wear Rompers Now, So Basically Screw It All, I Give Up)

So I bought a Groupon last week for a local photographer.

Let me start by saying that finding a photographer worth the money around here is tough. The good ones are all working in Los Angeles, taking headshots of Justin Bieber. Out here in the ‘burbs, we have a conglomerate of people either licensed and way overpriced, licensed and trying to break into the Justin Bieber headshot business, or not licensed but owning a nice camera and doing this for fun but making themselves look like a legitimate photography business.

Nevertheless, I bought the Groupon. The reviews of the guy were great – five stars, in fact. I needed someone to take photos of the kids before they get any bigger. A deal seemed the right way to go.

So I bought the Groupon, opened the voucher, and contacted the guy by email, which was the only way the voucher offered.

The email kicked back as not being a valid email address.

I tried again.

Kicked back.

I emailed Groupon and asked what they’d recommend I do, stating clearly that getting ahold of the guy or getting a refund to my account would both be acceptable. I just wanted to get my photos taken I’d paid for.

They asked me to give them a day to investigate…

…let me pause here and say that several years ago we had a problem with a Groupon, and immediately they issued me a refund in funds to my account that would be good for a year. So them saying they wanted to investigate gave me pause.

Still, I responded: sure, keep me posted.

They then responded and offered me Groupon Trade In Bucks. The bucks would be applied to my account, and after I receive the email that the money was applied I would have 24 hours to use it.

This was – in a word – bullshit. I paid good, hard earned money for something they could not guarantee or deliver. Why, then, am I being forced to buy something else I may not be interested in within 24 hours to get my money back?! I had no problem with store credit with Groupon…but 24 hours to use it?!

Sounds like a scam.

It seems as though businesses are more and more getting away with this kind of crap – putting their hands in your pocket and showing no remorse when they screw you over. You go to the nail salon, they act like they are doing you a favor to give you ingrown toenails. You buy fruit at a farm stand, they hide moldy fruit under the good fruit in hopes you won’t check. This newest event with Groupon is no surprise, but being unsurprised does not make it right. In fact it’s as if people are so numbed by this kind of crap happening – money being thrown at services that are never properly rendered – that we’ve been numbed into complacency.

We just expect to be screwed over.

Several months ago, my husband and I ordered a baby changing table online at Babies R Us. It came broken, so we returned it to the local store as the instructions said to do. They ordered us a new one, and low and behold: that one came broken as well. This time when we followed the instructions, though, I said – enough! We’d been waiting for over a month for the table, and we just wanted our money back.

They refused to give us our money back, instead issuing store credit for the clearance price the table was currently marked at. When I questioned that, because I clearly had the receipt, they said it was their discretion. That was it! No more explanation, just their discretion.

I took the store credit and called their 1-800 number, and they gave me the same line but said they’d refund me to my card the difference and the cost of shipping we had wasted.

We never received anything.

Back to Groupon. Still, seeing no other options, I replied and said that I would take the Trade In Bucks. I know you will all be unsurprised to hear: I never got the Trade In Bucks.

Not only that, I emailed them today and they did not respond.

I went to live chat with their customer support, as the site said that was the recommended mode of contact…when I put in the description of what was going on and clicked to chat I got the response: “Sorry none of our agents are available to chat at this time.”

I clicked to receive a phone call, my phone rang once and they hung up (I only knew it was Groupon because I Googled the number).

They then emailed me this:

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Calling me and hanging up after the first ring, then emailing me to let me know you called IS NOT A RESOLUTION TO THE ISSUE.

I emailed again. No response.

So I finally took to Google and found tons of people with the same experience. Groupon is now nothing more than a money grabbing scam site. Millions of people in the last few months, alone, have reported them to the Better Business Bureau and Consumer Affairs.

Then again, I feel like I have only myself to blame – I should have just clicked on the photographer’s website and seen how much this one wreaked of illegitimacy.

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Lesson learned.

This seems to be a greater issue, though. Not only that people just basically expect to be screwed over for things they pay for now, and companies (*cough cough* airlines *cough cough*) thinking they have a right to deny you the things you pay for, while still keeping your money…but there is another question about the legitimacy and transparency when it comes to online funding and selling sites, like Groupon.

Or GoFundMe, which is meant for charities or crowdfunding of a local cause or people in need; and yet people constantly head to it for things like vacations they can’t afford.

Or what about Kickstarter? A site that is marketed as being for innovative companies, and yet is often used for the antitheses of innovation – which people buy into, like the kid that launched a Kickstarter for potato salad. The kid did it as a joke and something like quadrupled his fundraising goal.

There. Is. Nothing. Innovative. About. Potato Salad.

Or the newest Kickstarter-abomination: RompHims. Rompers. For. Men. RompHims not only met, but largely surpassed their fundraising goal, and – like many Kickstarters – wasn’t to start a business, but to simply sell their product.

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Like the people that go on Shark Tank just to get on TV.

I don’t know what’s worse: the absurdity of what legitimately good ideas like crowdfunding and charity sites have fallen to, the scam that deal sites like Groupon have turned into, or the people that handily give over their money to all of it, no questions asked.

Probably the people, but I don’t know. I just want my Groupon refunded. And my family photos done.

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My Fourth Book Cover Is Here, and It’s Giving Me Feelings

I consider myself to be a generally flat person. I don’t mean that I am one of those robot people with no feelings. I just mean that I usually have one mode, unless I’m at home and no one is looking at me: laughing at everything.

Maybe flat isn’t what I mean to say. Inappropriate?

I laugh at really inappropriate times. “Oh yeah it was like the most dysfunctional family dinner ever, I cried for a week – HAHAHAHAHAHAH!” Times like that. I think it’s likely because I’m either awkward or an idiot. Or both. (Probably both.)

So I promised a release of the book cover for my fourth book, and here it is. Now it’s giving me feelings I can’t quite qualify, because of that whole flat-one-mode-laugh-inappropriately-even-when-laughing-isn’t-appropriate thing. I’ll just leave it at “feelings,” because the cover is a picture of the house I grew up in.

Which will give you all an idea of the content.

Also, the back matter makes me feel like a real horse’s ass (do you see what I did there with the horse and the title of my book…), because people have said nice things about my writing and – where are my manners? – I’ve sent no ‘thank you cards.’

So here’s the cover, and if you keep scrolling, you get the other thing I promised… a small excerpt.

Emphasis on small, I don’t want to show my whole hand just yet.

One more thing before the cover, though: another promise and an invite… join me on Thursday, June 1st at 6:00 pm PST (that’s 8:00 pm in the Central Zone, and 9:00 ET) for a Twitter Party Book Trailer release. You can RSVP on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/events/211182979374387/ or just check in that night using the hashtag #datblindhorsetho …make sure to Tweet your responses to it that night too!

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Okay, so here’s the cover and the excerpt…enjoy!

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And now the excerpt:

…I come from a very long line of emotional eaters. On the surface, you wouldn’t know it. Obesity isn’t necessarily rampant in my family lineage. Some people are heavier than others, sure – but that’s more a statement of their general love of Prime Time TV than anything else. 

Nonetheless, I was raised on the premise that food solves everything.

I like to think that my family was the original source of the foodie movement. From the very beginning of my earliest childhood memories to now, all life revolved around what we were going to eat, who we were going to eat it with, and when we were going to get it in our mouths. Every food was coupled with a nauseatingly detailed description. The gastro pubs in Santa Monica today that describe a burger and fries with no less than twenty adjectives of ingredients and notes of infused flavor have got nothing on how my mother used to be able to describe her most basic chicken and rice dish. Daily life was filling, and if it wasn’t everyone was depressed or angry. Or both.

That isn’t to say that the food has always, or ever, been particularly noteworthy. In fact most of the time it was either mediocre or something akin to roadkill. 

There was always plenty of it. Way too much, actually; so much so that to think of all the animals sacrificed for the sake of all of those friend and family gatherings of years past makes me feel so terrible sometimes I think I should go vegan for the rest of my life just to make up for it.

When we lived in the suburbs of Chicago, we would occasionally visit this family that I never quite understood our connection to. Either they were distant family, like cousins, or friends of the family so close they may as well be family. Nonetheless, it was more than a want, but rather a social obligation, that we visit them frequently. 

Because a lot of people would come to their gatherings, and they lived in a relatively small place, they’d always serve the food in the basement. By the dim, fluorescent lights, flickering on the verge of burning out, we’d line up in front of the table and fill our Dollar Store paper plates to the brim with the same nine dishes. Every time, each of these nine dishes were essential to the meal:

1. Something that looked like a turkey casserole and I’m fairly certain had peas in it. Not sure it really had any meat in it at all, but it tasted like turkey;

2. Baked ziti. I know this sounds wonderful – because really, who doesn’t love baked ziti? Well if you ever tried this baked ziti you’d know that it is possible to dislike the dish, and it’s simply because it was made with jars of Ragu;

3. Bologna sandwiches slathered in mayonnaise and American cheese spread;

4. Fruit slush. I never really understood this one. Supposedly a fruit salad, this was canned fruit mashed and mixed with ginger ale, then frozen and slightly defrosted. A jar of Maraschino cherries was added to the mix and this is what we ate for the fruit and vegetable portion of the meal;

5. Pistachio Jell-o salad. Because at this point, the meal just felt entirely incomplete without it;

6. Baked beans, always – and without fail – served in a crockpot. Special attention was paid each time to making sure the crockpot could remain plugged in after it had been transferred from the kitchen to the basement. Baked beans just ain’t right if not pipin’ hot;

7. Tortilla chips with dip. The dip was an 8 ounce block of regular Philadelphia cream cheese with a jar of Pace Picante sauce poured over the top of it;

8. Store brand sandwich cookies;

9. None of you will believe this, because it just seems so cliche, but the final and perhaps most important part of the meal was a mixed piece bucket of KFC original recipe chicken. 

By contrast, I recently was in the unfortunate position of having to attend my sister in law’s baby shower and the food was only a side note. I was totally – and completely – out of my element. Not that I cared much, I don’t usually eat much at these types of gatherings anyway. Maybe it was the years of crockpots full of baked beans and fruit slush that did me in, I just learned to pick at the offerings sparingly and eat a salad once I got home.

But at this baby shower, where typically I would have seen an entire spread of foods from deviled eggs to more deviled eggs, to some other types of eggs that appeared deviled but also looked sort of green; plus the other array of foods like the ones listed above – instead there was a small plate of sandwiches and another small plate with carrots. That was it. All in all there were about fifty people in attendance, with maybe ten sandwiches on the plate.

At that baby shower, people were hungry. Here they had sacrificed their Sundays to come, pay homage to the to-be mother; spent a minimum of fifty dollars per person on a gift, and all they got was a goddamned carrot. Maybe. Maybe only a sandwich – if they were lucky. Some people got a piece of cake, but that was insufficient in size as well. (And oh man what people would have said if they knew that they almost weren’t going to have a cake.)

For myself, I sucked back the Cooks champagne and patted myself on the back for having eaten beforehand, assuming it would be the usual assortment of KFC mixed buckets and baked beans by the crockpot.

I had never seen anything like it, and apparently no one else there had either.

Attitudes started to turn within the first hour, and it was again made clear to me that people eat away all their frustrations and social anxieties at these things. Maybe beyond that, into their daily lives. It keeps people happy. It calms down the dramatics. Helps you forgive people for excluding you from a wedding, or for not keeping in contact all the years. 

It was that day that I finally accepted that ultimate truth into my heart, once and for all: eating really does solve everything.

 

Let’s Just All Simmer The Frick Down

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There’s been a refreshing and, simultaneously, not-so-refreshing trend this last week or two on the Internet, and that is that people have stopped talking about the demise of American society  and values as we knew them pre-Trump, and moved back to the ol’ getting offended at everything on the Internet.

I say it’s refreshing because – you know – it’s a break from this Trumpian shit show that none of us seem to be able to do a single thing about.

I say not-so-refreshing because we should still be standing up for ourselves within our American government and politics and, well, people getting offended by everything on the Internet is obnoxious.

Case #1 – Legging-Gate

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If you didn’t know, earlier this week some people were heading out on a flight through United Airlines, free of charge by way of an employee friend and family benefit. To be clear: their tickets were free. *Free under the explicit condition that they follow the dress code and behave appropriately on the flight. Three of them (the kids) showed up wearing leggings (a violation of the dress code) and they were not allowed to board without changing into proper attire.

Completely understanding that they were breaking the rules, I hear the kids threw on dresses over the offending leggings, and just went about their business – being appreciative of their free tickets, I assume. Except some nosy nelly standing in line went crazy, snapped photos, went viral, and the world lost their fricken minds.

All jokes and arguments about the moral fortitude of dress codes aside, those free tickets have always come at a cost: a simple dress code and appropriate behavior, which, I will repeat, the flyers were aware of. Which they – in fact – had no problem with when reminded.

But not the Internet! The Internet had to lose its ever-loving collective mind over it, and instantly a new viral story, a variety of memes, and 200-comment-length debates were born.

Of course I engaged in one of those debates, because I am me. I was accused of being opposed to progress. Of being a robot. and a whole host of other things by someone who is at least ten years older than me, and yet is most known for posting photos of herself in her super hero underpants on Instagram.

The bottom lines to Legging-Gate are:

  1. Rules are rules. Get over it, unless you want to ruin that benefit for everyone; and,
  2. If you want to change the rules, showing up and being all “screw you I do what I want” is not the way to do it; finally,
  3. THE PEOPLE GUILTY OF SHOWING UP IN LEGGINGS FOR THEIR ENTIRELY FREE UNITED AIRLINES FLIGHT DID NOT EVEN CARE.

Case #2 – The Prom Dress Good Girls

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I don’t know all the facts of this case, but it’s another dress code thing that I think has been blown way out of proportion.

So prom season is coming, and some high school in somewhere – I don’t know – posted examples of what was acceptable attire and what was not acceptable attire. The acceptable said “good girl” over it, and I don’t know what the tone or connotation of that was, but it pissed people off.

Then it raised the whole dress code for young women thing, which I am in the minority (it seems) on these days, in that I believe dress codes are a good thing. I think they teach kids to respect authority (which will be important when they have jobs with dress codes they absolutely must follow as adults). They teach them how to dress for certain occasions. I also don’t always think that dress codes are about calling a girl/woman slutty or inappropriate or something to be ashamed of, but rather for their protection. And while I know that the real issue is teaching boys/young men the appropriate way to act, we just aren’t at that stage of the game yet. I wish we were, but we aren’t and thinking that pretending like we are will stop young men from acting poorly is irresponsible thinking.

Beyond that, I live in a town where the local high school has virtually no dress code that I am aware of. I have seen girls walking to the school in booty shorts and bikini tops – no jokes, and boys walking to the school with their pants around their ankles. Moreover, our old babysitter knew several kids her graduating year (just a couple years ago) that were suspended for having sex on the dance floor during homecoming. Let that sink in for a minute. In light of those incidences, alone, I’m all for dress codes for prom. And sex ed classes prior to prom. And open conversations with our kids about appropriate and inappropriate behavior. But dress codes too.

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Side note: the school has since apologized for the dress code signs and good girl comment, so  everyone seriously does need to calm down on this one. It’s over.

Case #3 – Kid With SPD Gets Rough TSA Pat-Down, Handles It Like A Champ, Mom Records It To Go Viral On Social Media, World Explodes With Anger

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Did you guys hear about this kid with sensory processing disorder who triggered a red flag with the TSA and had to get a pat down? Instead of – oh I don’t know – standing there and helping him through it, Mom instead demanded the presence of two police officers, and broke out her video camera, posting it on social media instantly with the caption “we were treated like dogs.”

I presume she was opening her GoFundMe account for mental anguish  immediately afterwards.

Of course if a kid got through with a bomb – a tactic often used by terrorists – the world would have wondered why the kid hadn’t been treated more doggedly.

Now even though the kid handled it like a champ, and there were police present so obviously no misconduct took place, the comment sections of the Internet went wild with people calling it molestation, calling for the firing of the TSA agent, and – my personal favorite – “no one could see what happened behind that TSA agent’s fat ass, he likely groped your son, sue the government NOW NOW NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Okay.

Case #4 – Daddy-Daughter Dances

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I guess it’s Daddy-Daughter Dance season. News to me, but I’ve seen all kinds of posts by friends and family taking their kids to them. (I think we may be too introverted of a family.)

This raised a whole issue, though, about eliminating gender-specific-themed events with kids altogether. Which I totally get – as a child that grew up in a single family home, my mother having left us when I was only 10, I was constantly left out of mother-daughter events because …well… I didn’t have a full time mother.

The issue was raised because a single mother apparently tried to take her daughter to a daddy-daughter dance and was turned away. Now, I get that the situation was a little weird – the woman dressed up as a man, she even colored on a beard. That’s just strange, even though she was clearly just trying to make a sad situation cool. Except it turned out to be completely uncool when she was turned away simply because she wasn’t actually a man.

Because. She. Was. Not. A Man.

And this was not the first time this kind of a thing has happened.

So some articles go around the Internet about eliminating gender-specific events in schools once and for all, and – big surprise – a debate breaks out. Is there anything on the Internet that doesn’t result in debate anymore?

The bottom line is that irrespective of the sanctity of your husband taking his daughter to some stupid dance every spring, or your son having a special mother-son school breakfast, this is 2017. It’s time to recognize that not everyone is living the same life as you, and sometimes those events hurt people’s feelings, especially the kids’. Go on dates with your kids on your own time.

Case #5 – Another Wardrobe Malfunction

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Had enough of debates inspired by clothing yet? I sure as shit thought I had, and then I saw an article calling for an end to poking fun at dumb dads.

I guess it was inspired by a onesie that has instructions for a dumb dad printed on the face of it. For one, it was cute. For two, dumb dads do actually exist. For three, I want to know where I can get one for my husband, because really Nick – it isn’t funny anymore that you can’t figure out where the baby’s arm goes.

Boy did the trolls come out for that one, though – writing multi-paragraph dissertations in the comments section about patriarchy and sexism and reverse sexism and dads are perfectly capable of dressing their kids in fact they are more capable than moms and JESUS FUCKING CHRIST CAN PEOPLE SERIOUSLY NOT TAKE A JOKE ANYMORE?

I am going to say something quite shocking right now (apparently): there really does exist a subculture of male parents that could otherwise be described as dumb dads.  They are given chance after chance after chance to be just as qualified of a parent at the little things as mom is, but no matter what they do, they always fuck it up. That’s just reality, really of the human condition because – newsflash – we are not all perfect at everything. Dumb dads are actually capable of being really good parents and at the same time too stupid about little things like putting on a onesie or throwing a pony tale in their daughter’s hair.

My husband is one of them. While he’s a great parent in certain ways, he just can’t in others. On more than one occasion he’s asked me for help getting the kids dressed, and today – ironically about ten minutes after I read that article – he put the baby’s diaper on (AGAIN) in such a way that it fell off and I was peed all over.

Being peed on sucks and it’s nice as a mom to be able to vent to the Internet about that. Except you can’t because then you are questioning the parental capabilities of all fathers (seriously, WHY?).

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Honestly, the issue isn’t about sexism or patriarchy, but rather the inability to admit that we aren’t perfect at everything. More appealing than a man so effeminate and insecure in himself that he has to get defensive every time a woman questions his parenting abilities is – without a doubt – a man that owns his inadequacies and buys the onesie with instructions himself. Because it’s funny.

I assume this is only the beginning, you guys. Trump has been in office for a couple months now. America needs to get back to the important work of being offended by everything, believing everything we read on the Internet at face-value, and refusing to ever admit that we are ever in the wrong about anything. Ever.

I think we all just need to simmer the frick down, but then we would have to pay attention to what is going on around us again. So continue on, people of the Interwebs. Continue on.

 

 

So I Guess I Have Three Kids Now

For two weeks, now, I’ve had a shocking revelation rise to the surface of my brain at least once a day. I mean I’ll just be going about my business when suddenly it hits and I’m like OH MY GOD THIS IS REAL. Just now, I had it again. I was wrapping Christmas gifts, getting them under the tree. When suddenly I looked over to the little rocking-vibrating baby sleeper thing that has been on permanently for two weeks and I – genuinely surprised – thought to myself:

So I guess I have three kids now.

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It isn’t that I was unprepared. I knew I was soon to be a mother of three. From the minute I peed on the stick and immediately drove to tennis, where my husband (who works overnights) was sleeping in the car while the kids had their lessons; got in his car and woke him up, him surprised I drove over, and just blurted out “oh my God Nick I’m pregnant,” I knew.

For the months I did not have a lick of morning sickness, did not throw up once (take that, pregnancy!); but instead lost all appetite for anything but cream of chicken soup and cantaloupe, I knew.

On the day I went to get dressed, when it was about 95 degrees out in the heat of summer, and the only thing that fit me was a pair of sweatpants that I could barely tie, forcing me to spend the day at the mall sweating profusely as I looked desperately for maternity clothes, I knew.

And while pregnancy was relatively easy for me, it was still an ordeal. My back rarely hurt, as I said I didn’t get sick; no headaches, no pains in awkward places – for these reasons I was fortunate. But it’s pregnancy. You never know what’ll happen, so I did go a little bat shit crazy with seasoned-mom worry. At the end the acid reflux was like a constant volcano of terrible coming up my throat, and his breech position jammed his head into my left rib cage more times than I would have liked. So I knew. I knew the day was steadfastly coming that I was going to have three kids.

But it was also like I didn’t.

During the c-section, I stayed awake and calm for the entire time. Had I fully grasped what was truly happening, I would have been freaking out and panicking and going nuts – OH MY GOD I AM HAVING A THIRD CHILD THAT THIRD CHILD IS COMING OUT OF ME RIGHT NOW. THAT is who I am. Instead, as my OB shot staples into my gut, I laid there calmly as we had a nice conversation about a New York Times article we had both read about c-secion in the 14th century.

Oh. My. God. I have three kids now.

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There are so many jokes about three kids pushing you over the edge. In fact, on my first visit with my OB – who has been my lady bits doctor for over a decade now, and knows virtually every facet of my life – I was laughed at, scorned, and told “three will do you in.” Because three, apparently, did him in.

Oddly enough, there was a day when I told people I didn’t want to have any kids. None. Babies were gross and spat up and depended on you and I was just such an oh-so-cool hippie that I was going to spend my days childfree in trendy clothes with a glass of whatever flavor drink of the month permanently dangling from my well-rested, hands that had never – not ever – wiped a single ass, other than her own.

Then we had kids and all of those pipe dreams changed. I’m not saying that having kids was an unplanned or unexpected or unwanted thing. Just that the plans changed and we found ourselves with kids, so my husband and I figured – you know, why stop with one, let’s have twenty five.

Or three. Same difference.

In any case, I have three kids now.

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My oldest – Alexis, as many of you know, is 12, and snarky and basically a small version of me. Which is unfortunate because it means she’s well on her way to be a world class smart ass. She has had the great fortune of completely skipping over puberty, and is now a full blown, gorgeous woman with minimal awkwardness that makes me wring my hands in jealousy that my between years were not so easy. She likes to tell people that her name means “helper” (which it does), but at the same time she insists she will not be changing any baby diapers. (She has still changed several.)

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My now-middle – Ava – is 8 and she’s sweet but in a sweet way like candy. It’s delicious and wonderful but also rotting out your teeth and contributing to your genetically predisposed Type 2 diabetes. There’s always a motive to that sweetness. Nevertheless, when we told her she was going to have a baby brother, she immediately started promising she was going to change diapers and hold the baby and help with everything, and – so far – she actually has. She’s even changed a blow out.

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And now, there is the baby. He’s cute and a really good baby. His face is squishy and he’s definitely a holder, as in don’t stop holding me Mom. My dad says he looks like an old man. My husband seems to be disappointed that the baby’s cheeks are not skinny like his, but rather chubby like mine. And while we originally had a whole cadre of terribly atrocious names in consideration, I am certain that one day he will look at that list and be grateful that we stuck with a simpler, more traditional: Andrew.

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So there it is: three kids. All with the same initials. All with chubby cheeks and big, blue eyes. All with me for a mother. Snarky, independent, misanthropic me.

Heaven help us all.

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If This Is America, It Is No Longer My Country; Or, Trump: the Anti-American President

If you are like me, you are overwhelmed by the news and events of the last 48 hours. America, in all its glory, elected a racist, homophobic, sexist, bigot to the White House. A man accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women. A man whose very campaign premises were based in the most anti-American tenants ever run on a major ticket in the history of the United States. Who was described by major economic and global organizations as one of the greatest threats to national and global security, on par with ISIS. Whose campaign promises actually and literally spit in the face of the Constitution of this once great country – the very Constitution that gave him the ability to rise to power to begin with.

America: you had one job.

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Just under half of Americans that voted said that those policies and beliefs were OK. Either because they aligned themselves with those anti-American tenants, or because they could tolerate all of that in exchange for something else Trump offered.

To say I am in shock is an understatement.

Now, the aftermath has begun to unfold and – so it seems – we are in turmoil. Our president has asked for a peaceful transfer of power, and in response people are taking to the streets and beating and attacking people under this new mantra that to make America great again we need to get out anyone that isn’t just like us. Trump’s win was validation of the deeply seeded racism and sexism that has plagued our country since the days of Jim Crow, and before. Less than 100 years since women earned the right to vote, and “grab her pussy” is more socially acceptable of a phrase than “she deserves to be treated equally.”

To say I am sickened is also an understatement. A gross understatement.

And through all of this, I have learned a lot.

I have learned that very few people actually have an understanding of the Constitution of the United States. They have a general idea of the things they like about it, like the 2nd Amendment and its whole thing about gun ownership; but they seem to have cherry picked those bits and pieces that are convenient for them, overlooking the other parts equally as important and valid and right and what it is to be American.

I am assuming, based on his campaign rhetoric and behavior during the election; in addition to his unprecedented silence now in the face of the violent election aftermath, our president-elect is one of those people completely unaware of what abilities and protections the Constitution Articles hold within them.

Like the ability to worship whatever the fuck God you want without having to worry about being beaten at your local 7-11 over those beliefs.

Or the ability to live your life without hate crimes and discrimination being enacted against you, especially if you are in kindergarten and just want to get your goddamned lunch without having the taunting of “build a wall, build a wall” shouted in your face because you happen to have brown skin.

The list is seemingly endless of people and classes that Donald Trump doesn’t understand are protected under the Constitution. Not only people of all religions and race, but those with disabilities. Women. People of varied sexual orientation… All of those people are protected under the Constitution and our incoming president doesn’t understand that.

There’s also the whole thing about freedom to protest and freedom of speech, which I get is why all the Trump supporters felt they had a right to enact their hate crimes over the past several months of his campaign. But then to turn around and say that the people protesting the bigoted policies of the most anti-American president elect is “wimpy,” “shameful,” “pointless,” or “wrong,” completely misses the very definition of what it means to be an American.

I was raised to believe, and have degrees in political science and philosophy to back those beliefs up with facts and rational discourse, that America is the place where you can come and be whomever you are and, to put it bluntly, not have to take shit for it.

If you are gay, you get to be gay. If you are a woman, you get to be a woman. If you are black or Hispanic, you get to be a black or Hispanic.

You do not have to be subjected to discrimination or hate crimes. The Constitution guarantees that you are free from those things for just being you.

The Constitution also ensures that you get to voice your opinion, which I understand goes both ways. You get to voice your opinion, for example in a public speech, in a Facebook post, or in a peaceful protest, regardless of whether or not anyone sees it valid or worthy.

You do not get to beat your beliefs into someone until they are so bloodied and bruised that they have to take a trip to the emergency room.

With great sadness, it seems that with the Trump presidency, that all seems to be out the window.

Where this leaves me is with the understanding and acceptance that at least half of America, and America’s next president, is actually not American.

At least half of America, and America’s next president, believes that freedom from discrimination and racism and sexism, and that freedom of religion, is not a thing.

At least half of America, and America’s next president, believes it has the right to beat you if you look different or you love someone of the same gender.

At least half of America, and America’s next president, believes it can tell you what to do with your body just because you are a woman.

If this is America, it is no longer my country.

People keep crying out on Facebook – “get over it!” “This is democracy!” “The Republicans felt like this when Obama was elected!” and “He won, we have to deal with it!”

Actually no. No, we don’t.

And this isn’t an issue of Democrat versus Republican, but rather right and wrong.

That’s the beauty of being an actual American. You get to not accept things that you know are actually, factually, wrong. You get to say “this is not the principle of our country” and you get to call for an action that is both Constitutional and fair.

You get to say that a man who runs to be an anti-American president cannot take office, if this is going to continue to be the Constitutionally abiding America we once prided ourselves on being.

Otherwise, it is no longer America.

No president in history has ever been as anti-American as Donald Trump. Up until 48 hours ago, I would have never considered saying the words “he is not my president,” or “this is not my country.” But it isn’t, and he will never be.

 

 

 

The Best Way To Support Your Adult Kids That Are Parents, Is To Keep Your Mouth Shut

Over the years, I have learned one thing that I hope I remember when I am older and my kids are older and have kids of their own: to keep my mouth shut. Don’t foist my opinion on them about how or what they are doing as a parent. Don’t make comments under my breath in regards to their mom’ing or dad’ing decisions.

Just. Keep. It. Shut.

Even if I don’t agree with something they are doing, or feel it’s hurt me or attacked my own decisions when I was a parent…the reason why is because their choices as parents are theirs to reap and sow. And as a mother-turned-grandmother (God, I shudder at the thought) I am not on the inside of all the aspects of parenting THEIR kids during THEIR time (times change, Mom).

Now it’s one thing if they come to me and ask for an opinion or advice. But if they don’t, unsolicited advice or comments or, as they most often come across, criticisms, should be considered better left unsaid.

My father, who lives with us, is the worst with the under-the-breath comments. I am constantly having to tell him to stop, which he doesn’t. It’s insensitive and hurtful, but never a direct confrontation. So I’ll give him that.

It usually goes something like this:

Me: “Ava, today your chores say put away the dishes.”

Ava: [whines]

Dad: “I’ll help you baby…I’ll be right there, you just put away the silverware.”

Me: “Dad please don’t help her, you’re just making it more difficult for me to get her to do her chores.”

Dad: “I’ll help her if I want.”

Me: “Dad, please let me be the mother.”

Dad: [Slams something down on the counter and starts walking away] “Yeah, a real great mother.”

It’s pleasant.

The thing about *my* dad, though, is that I have enough years and not-give-a-shit enough with him to be able to just let that roll off my back. I mean it stings at first, and I’m sure a psychiatrist is somewhere out there just rubbing his hands together, waiting for me to crack and spend years in his office at $300 a pop, but for now we’ll stick with…I get over it.

But this highlights an issue I’ve noticed more in public, among other parent-friends, and with my husband’s family, to a greater degree than with my dad:

Sometimes, the biggest Mom Shamers (or, if you will, Parent Shamers) are our parents.

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Many of you read my social media shit show saga just yesterday. If you missed it, you surely missed out. In any event, as a follow up my husband called his mother yesterday morning, much to his dismay because she had no interest in 1) letting him talk 2) actually listening to what he had to say 3) doing anything other than screaming over and over again that she is a victim and 4)…

To. Shame. Us. As. Parents.

The backstory is as follows: a couple weeks ago, we secured a new home. A better home. A bigger home. A home with a yard.

We had previously been living in and caring for a family-owned condo, and we knew that there was a high probability that said family would be upset we were moving out. Not only because they wouldn’t have us taking care of the lemon of a place anymore, but because then they’d have to find someone else to get in there to pay the mortgage. Now we could have been wrong, but there’s always that risk with them…so we had to play it safe for our own mental health and decision-making ability.

We wanted to be able to make our decision about the new home without the the opinions of others. Yes, sometimes asking for advice is the best thing to do; but on this one, we wanted to do it ourselves. It’s hard to make the right choices for your family enough as is without the opinions of every Tom, Dick, and Susie squawking in your ear like pigeons.

So we didn’t say anything at first to them, until we had made our own choices.

What complicated the issue was that someone saw online that we had been looking at places, and my husband’s mom heard about it (because what kind of a family doesn’t gossip and talk shit about every. fucking. thing they come across?) and she flat out asked us if we were moving out of state. This is a sensitive issue for her because her other son, my husband’s brother, along with his wife and toddler just moved … out of state.

“No of course we aren’t moving out of state” was our resounding response. Because we weren’t. My husband works in film, that’s actually a stupid question to begin with. Unless he were to move on to work at Girls Gone Wild in New Orleans (um, he actually did apply there years back – they pay well I guess)…we are LA area for life. It’s just the way it is.

But we didn’t continue the conversation beyond that. We changed the subject, because we weren’t ready to talk about it. We hadn’t made our final-final decision on anything yet. And, honestly, the way she responds to any kind of change in other people’s lives is not usually the most positive.

Even just us making a decision for ourselves like “I’m having surgery that day, would you mind giving me one day to recover before coming to visit” turns into a hurtful barrage of comments and attitude, and …opinions and shaming.

As a side note: the kids were there when this whole moving-out-of-state-freak-out happened, and we had talked to them and told them we didn’t want them to lie to Grandma, but it’s really important that they let Dad talk to Grandpa about it privately once we’ve made our decision for sure. Because of the sensitivity of it.

You see, I believe that it’s really important to, yes, teach my kids honesty; but at the same time to teach them that there is a time and a place for everything. And, more importantly, that it’s important to set their own boundaries on what they do and do not share with people; and even more importantly than that to set boundaries on the influence others have on their own happiness.

THOSE are the life lessons that I think are important, especially in light of our daughter already being worried that Grandma and Grandpa would be mad we were moving out of the family-owned home. She didn’t want to move into the new house at first because of that. To me, as a parent, I have failed if my kids believe they should make their life’s decisions based on other people’s bullshit.

Flash forward to yesterday, my husband had this conversation with his mom about the social media shit show, and her main focus was to actually talk about how that conversation about not moving out of state (just being clear: we aren’t, we are moving 2 miles down the road) was an example of how she doesn’t agree with our parenting. She doesn’t think we should be teaching the kids to lie to her and keep secrets. That she should be able to extract whatever information she wants from them, and that by teaching them to have boundaries on how much they share and how much they let others have say in their lives and happiness is bad parenting. Bad parents raising liars and sneaky, sly people that do things behind people’s backs.

What was my initial reaction? To feel shame.

But then I felt the opposite of shame: pride. I felt pride because in her negative reaction, I realized that our decision in this with the kids was actually the right one. That she validated our decisions as parents with her behavior; and more importantly that we actually sometimes make good choices for our kids. I’m not teaching them to be liars. In fact, we are very emphatic with our kids about honesty. Rather, we are teaching them about healthy boundaries – something so few people have, and everyone needs.

Now before all of you are like “oh damn, I can’t believe she’s putting all this on blast on the Internet,” I just have to say: very few people in my husband’s life – from the beginning of it to the end – give a shit enough about me and what I have to say to read my blog. Let’s say none of them do. And, remember from yesterday, I lost (deleted and blocked) 31 friends on social media.

But really… I shouldn’t have to hide what’s right. If you don’t like people finding out about your bullshit, you should probably not pull the bullshit.

And, I’m a writer. The old adage is you shouldn’t ever say or do anything around a writer that you don’t want out in the open. I’m fairly certain that the only reason my husband actually loves me is because I call out all the shit he is too afraid to call out.

Moreover, there is absolutely nothing wrong with talking about what is going on in your life that is categorically, without a doubt wrong. It ain’t up for debate. What kind of people have we become that feel we have to hide everything about our lives and not speak up about what is right and wrong?

People that are ashamed, that’s what kind of people.

In the end: isn’t that where this whole parent shaming thing got going anyway? We aren’t only just shamed for doing whatever we do, we’re shamed for talking about it too. We’re shamed for talking about our decisions, we’re shamed for talking about how we came to our ideas as parents, and we’re shamed for feeling ashamed.

Lord help us.