Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Moment in the Sun

We were lucky that Easter Sunday this year was picturesque in terms of weather. For the first time since October we reached 70 degrees and had sun, something we could only fantasize about during the harshest winter in history.

I took advantage of the opportunity and spent part of the afternoon working outside before sitting in the sun on my deck, listening to the ballgame on the radio and watching the squirrels perform Cirque du Soleil moves on my half-empty feeder.

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As I sat there, I remembered scraping the ice off my windshield on those subzero mornings, driving 20 mph to work on icy roads and shoveling feet of snow. At that time, all I could think about was a) where I could move and b) how much I would appreciate days like we were having that day—warm, sunny and safe—if the frozen ground ever thawed.

But then eyes closed, sprawled out in a chair like an albino lizard on a heat rock, I found my mind going right back into my routinely obsessive thoughts on work, money, food, writer’s block, exercise, what I “should” be doing that day and in life, etc.

That moment in the sun with no obligations had suddenly turned into the storm in my head that so often clouds up my mind. And in some ways I was more present in the middle of winter fantasizing about the warmer weather than I was present in that moment actually sitting in the warmer weather.

It was then I overheard the neighbor kids say, “Poke it and see if it’s dead.”

 At first I thought they meant me, but since it came from the other side of the fence I assumed it was a small woodland creature. And while I’m sorry it took it’s probable demise to  bring me back to the present moment, I’m kind of glad that it did.

Because I do this all the time.

Part of me gets excited for or works towards something, and then when it happens I’m already moving on, dismissing it as something to check off a list instead of enjoying that moment. I don’t feel accomplished or calm, but rather wonder, “Okay, what’s next?”

It’s easy to fall into that trap in today’s society of “more, more, more.” Sitting around reading or listening to the ballgame isn’t always as “admirable” as doing, doing, doing all the time. There’s that constant need to know just what is next.

But as one warm day in the sun reminded me, I don’t have to fall into that trap.

I can choose where to place my attention and my intention by saying “yes” to a moment and “no” to worrying about that next thing all the time. If my mind would get out of my way, maybe I could relax and remember this more.

After all, the temps are back in the 40s with rain this week—Mother Nature is a cruel, cruel shrew at times—which proves how fast moments can pass.

Just ask the critter cadaver next door.

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The Best Writing Conference Ever!

I’ve never attended a writer’s conference, mostly because they’re expensive and my OCD makes it hard to travel at times. However, I know a lot of people find them very beneficial so I decided to establish my own.

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Description: A conference for writers and bloggers of any age and genre to connect, learn and cuddle—not wrestle—with the creative demons they have. The only prerequisite is a sense of humor and a willingness to walk down to the corner gas station to use the bathroom, as I like to keep my stuff clean.

Note: shoes come off at the door.

Ticket: Price includes unlimited sessions and access to my deck, but see above about bladder evacuation options.

Topics Covered: Everything from dealing with writer’s block to explaining to friends and family that your blog post/novel is not based on them (even though it probably is.)

Here are just a few of the courses offered:

Workspace Feng Shui

Writers know that everything has to be perfect when procrastinating waiting for inspiration to hit. Learn to prioritize these tasks, such as what size Post-Its to write your to-do list on, where that plant looks best, color organization of pens, snack drawer replenishment and paperclip sculpture and art.

Narcissism in the Age of the Internet

Attendees will be given the tools needed to make their tweets fake trophy-worthy, their Facebook updates ring with confidence/insecurity and their selfies flattering in the light of the bathroom. They will also be given tips on how to buy fans/followers and Photoshop their profile pictures to an almost unrecognizable image.

Advanced Blog and Book Skimming

Are you always a subhead and never a headline? That’s probably because you’re actually writing and not including viral graphics, lists or headlines such as, “You’re Doing Parenting Wrong!” or “What Celebrity Just Shit Their Pants?”

People like quick and easy things to read, so students will learn to make their dumbed down posts shine without the restraints of writing in complete sentences or proofreading. This session will conclude with a series of BuzzFeed quizzes to determine which pasta dish every attendee was in a past life.

Typo Trauma 101*

Play it off as funny? Run away and start a new life? Learn how to deal with the angst of finding a typo more than .5 seconds after something has been posted or published somewhere you can’t go back and edit.

*The support group will meet immediately after this session. Carbs will be provided.  

Rejection Rebound

Participants will learn to go from query and submission to dealing with the “nice no,” the “hell no” and the “what the hell do they know?” of rejection. Everyone is asked to print out and bring their rejection letters to use for decoupaging a complimentary flask as part of art therapy sessions. 

Conclusion: The conference will end with a couchgating hour—dress code is yoga pants or jeans—and an assortment of beverages essential for any successful writer, including but not limited to: water, tea, coffee, wine and a selection of liquor such as James and the Giant Peach Schnapps, Fifty Shades of Grey Goose and Tequila Mockingbird.

After which we will join in a circle, sing “Kumbaya” and lament how nobody “gets” us. It promises to be The Best Writing Conference Ever.

(T-shirts will be sold at the door.)

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A Cease and Desist Letter to the Easter Bunny

Hello Hare,

Thank you for taking time out of your mall appearance today—I know it’s a big time of year for you—but this really can’t wait any longer.

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It has been brought to our collective attention as an overly politically correct society on a mission to banish all fun that your existence is causing some, shall we say, “issues” I would like to address.

First of all, let’s talk about this egg situation.

I realize it’s tradition for children to color and look for these Easter eggs — henceforth to be known as “Spring Spheres” or “Ornamental Orbs”— but unless we know that these are free range, organic eggs produced from chickens given nothing but a diet of gold-dusted non-GMO corn and poultry pedicures, I’m afraid this practice will have to be stopped. We simply can’t have that danger around.

While a great alternative might have been plastic eggs, there is no way to guarantee that the plastic in those eggs would be 100 percent free of BPA and polycarbonate epoxy resins. As you can understand, that would pose an equally dangerous risk.

Speaking of the eggs—excuse me, Spring Spheres/Ornamental Orbs—can we talk a bit about marketing?

Now I realize that you do some TV work on the side and that the “Cadbury” commercial was your breakout performance, but it is perpetrating false ideals about the reproductive practices of mammals.

Despite what your cavity causing, sugar pushing Satan—a.k.a. Cadbury—might think is cute in a commercial, rabbits do not lay eggs. Chickens lay eggs. This spring celebration should not have to include a discussion on the sexual cycles of Peter Cottontail or a lesson on where bunnies come from.

Unless the commercial can be changed to directly reflect the egg being excreted from the chicken—it can even be wearing those fake bunny ears—it is doing much more harm than good. Perhaps you could see about recasting that part and find work off screen as a fluffer.

Sticking with the candy, I think it goes without saying that chocolate is no longer part of this holiday unless it is of the fair trade, organic, gluten and sugar-free variety. Jelly beans? I think not. This brazen bastardization of a “bean” is the greatest insult to the (organic, pesticide-free) vegetable community since French freedom fries.

And Peeps? Really? Marshmallow “chicks”—a term some women find offensive—made of colored dies and sugared spray foam insulation? That shit has to stop.

So to wrap this up, I would like to remind you that even though you’re no longer needed to celebrate this day of spring honoring a non-denominational higher power with non-confrontational new symbols of tradition, you still have options.

Look into teaming up with a magician and be pulled out of a hat, maybe check out Pinterest and see if there are any crafting trends you could sell your fur for, look into taking up “hip hop.” (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the clever reference, although I am not implying you dabble in that terribly offensive “gangsta rap.”)

All that we ask is that you eliminate yourself from this holiday and leave us to celebrate with empty baskets but open minds! If not, we’ll have your foot on a keychain in no time.

Sincerely,

An Overly Politically Correct Society on a Mission to Banish All Fun

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Moms Are Nuts

I missed two of my mom’s calls the other day, which meant I assumed the helicopter flying over my house was part of the search crew she called.

Now don’t get me wrong—I love my mom a lot.

After all, she did raise me in the days before she could take to social media and complain about how hard it is to be a mom. In fact, she even did it while going through 13 spinal surgeries and a host of other issues and still managed to raise a highly intelligent dog and then me, a semi-functional/slightly-neurotic daughter who uses her mom for blog fodder from time to time.

Well, this is one of those times.

Why? Because all moms are nuts. Maybe not “dress a dead cat up in a bright red sweater before burying it in the backyard” or “force her daughter to bring a traveling gnome to the theater” nuts like my mom, but in one way or another, they’re all nuts.

If you need proof, I present to you this exciting new book you can buy.

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In fact, you can buy EXTRA copies of it and send it to all the moms out there for Mother’s Day as proof that even the moms of Emmy winners and TV personalities are sometimes bat shit crazy.

The fancy description:

Moms are Nuts is a collection of stories about mothers, grandmothers, mother-in-laws and mother figures who have crossed the paths of some of the wittiest writers and comedians. Laugh your way through 26 brilliant stories… some of which may sound waaaay too familiar.”

And then there’s this from the back cover:

“Emmy winners, magazine editors, comedians, TV personalities, bestselling authors and social media superstars team up to bring you a laugh-out-loud book not about being a mom, but about having a mom, grandmom or mom-figure. And while it’s not OK for someone else to make yo-momma jokes about your momma, it is perfectly healthy even downright hilarious to find the humor in your own upbringing. In fact, these writers highly recommend it. So if you think your mom is nuts, pull up a chair. You’re in good company.”

Who are some of these people?

Only the likes of Gloria Fallon, Suzy Soro, Amy Vansant and Wendi Aarons, among a bunch of other people with a well-established resume of success despite—and even possibly as a result of—the mother figure in their lives.

3DBackCover

Oh yeah. I’m in there, too.

For all of the details, you can check out the website and then head on over to Amazon to buy the ALL the copies in paperback and Kindle! Not only will you laugh and feel a bit normal, but you can add a copy of “I Just Want to be Alone” and have your Mother’s Day shopping done.

And if you have wrapping paper left over from Christmas, use that to wrap it up in. This will show your mom that not only do you have a sense of humor, but also a deep devotion to recycling and being earth-friendly.

Win-win!

So if you love your mother, be sure to pick this book up. Either as a token of your affection, or as a way to distract yourself when she’s 15 minutes into making a “long story short” on the phone.

You’ll thank me later.

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You Get What You Pay For

Right now a bunch of people are getting ready for the  Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, which means right now I’m secretly hating that I’m not one of the people getting ready for the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.

To add to that rejection, I figured today would be a good time to share the essay I entered in their writing contest that I didn’t win.  But really, we’re ALL WINNERS because I’m posting it here instead. Right? Right?!?!

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Although I’m single, I’ve had several long relationships with Ziploc bags I rinse and reuse. You could say that in some circuitous way, my grandma has set me up for these questionable couplings.

She was an outspoken woman whose kitchen at any point in time was an abstract art gallery of repurposed and pilfered goods—washed and dried paper plates, aluminum foil smoothed out and reused until the tears couldn’t be (off-brand) taped up, and sugar and salt packets slipped in her purse from the local Juicy Lucy (two burgers for $1!)

This was a woman who believed that once meat was cooked, it didn’t need to be refrigerated and could be left out on the hot countertop until it was either consumed or it disintegrated.

(I once arrived at her condo, Florida sun blazing down, to find a picnic basket on her porch from her neighbor, the contents of which being potato salad, roast beef and cheesecake. “I found my dinner!” she triumphantly cried.)

What did need to be refrigerated—or more specifically, kept in large (off-brand) plastic zipper bags in the freezer—were ketchup and mustard packets from various fast food establishments that always gave out “free condiments.”

For most people, the assumption would be that a packet of sugar or ketchup was available for your convenience to use at that time. My grandma wasn’t “most people.”

I clearly recall an instance when I was younger in which we went to McDonald’s for ice cream. As we pulled up to the pick-up window, she leaned over the driver’s seat and gave strict orders to the window worker to include the condiments, which I naively assumed to be the optional nuts for her sundae.

In retrospect, I should have been prepared to hear her demand not the nuts, but the free packets of ketchup and mustard to add to her collection back home.

“Free condiments means free condiments,” she said with a chortle. “When you’re paying (99 cents) for each ice cream, you better get what you pay for.”

She wasn’t alone in her frugality though. These sundaes were purchased after a dinner during “Early Happy Hour” when drinks were 2-for-1 at most chain restaurants—as long as you ordered both drinks at the same time.

That meant when you walked into the restaurant during that time, you would be greeted with senior citizens pushing their oxygen tanks off to the side of their booths to make room for their two Rum and Cokes.

I never witnessed anyone slipping a few extra limes into their bags to take home, but there were rumors that Gram’s neighbor snuck out a steak knife from Outback.

I guess you get what you pay for.

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Dear Abby

Between you and me, I would love to have a job that required me to write a humor and/or advice column every week, kind of like Carrie Bradshaw minus the fashion sense, sexual escapades and nicotine addiction.

dearabby

However, no one seems to want to pay me a salary — or anything at all — to do this because life is unfair and TV lies.

But I’m not giving up on the dream to offer unsolicited advice, and thanks to weirdos who Google strange things that lead to my blog, I can pretend that I’m the next generation of “Dear Abby.”

Along with random search terms such as “sugar-coated bullshit,” “rabid badger with a banana clip,” “somebody just sneezed in the living room and it was grandpa” and “I thought it was you but it was the wine,” I also get some questions in my spam folder that obviously need to be answered.

How do you tell if old people are addicted to bingo?

For your own safety—and that of geriatric gamers—it is very important to look for the signs of this affliction. Luckily, I have experience that I can share.

As I’ve stated before, these people have been through wars, marriages, children, Depressions and depressions. Now they no longer worry about recessions as much as they do if Gertrude next door stole the extra Nutter Butter from their snack tray.

My point? They’ve got nothing to lose and they play for keeps. Or rather, they play for candy, which along with popcorn is the geriatric equivalent of crack.

Signs of addiction include hoarding the Bingo chips/cards that have no inherent value, distracting opponents by faking physical ailments like “my oxygen tube is kinked!” sabotaging fellow players’ lucky charms—creepy Troll dolls, figurines, a favorite snot rag, etc. and mumbling things in what they claim to be “Binglish.”

Does sticking feathers up your butt make you a chicken?

First of all, you get points for the “Fight Club” reference, but those points are immediately deducted for taking this quote literally. In a metaphorical sense, it means that you shouldn’t try so hard to be something that you’re not. Not only is it a lot of work, you’ll probably look incredibly stupid in the process.

But in case you’re a freak, I’ll address the literal sense and say that sticking feathers up your butt will result in you looking like a pornographic peacock, not a chicken. If that’s how you roll, more power to you, but perhaps you should pick up a book now and then.

If I were a turkey, where would I be?

My guess would probably be that you would be on a farm, glad you’re not a chicken in the presence of the person who asked the question up above.

Is it bad if you go through a car wash with Vanilla Ice?

Interesting. I would say that if Ice offers to take you through a car wash, you shouldn’t turn down the offer. The car wash isn’t cheap unless you go through the $5 Happy Hour special, at which point I would ask Ice to also take you out for a drink and to include that footage in whatever low-ratings reality show he is gearing up to debut. Be sure to drop in my name.

Have the squirrels found you yet? You should run.

Do you know something I don’t? Crap. Perhaps I should take your advice.

Until next time, my friends!

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The Nose Knows

When I saw a woman in front of me at the store the other day smell the packs of gum to help her decide which kind to buy, I felt like I found a new friend.

Why?

Because a majority of the decisions I make on a daily basis are at least partially the result of the “smell test.” My first instinct when given something—be it food, a puppy or even a candle specifically labeled “unscented”—is to smell it.

I’m just a “smelly” person.

But lucky for me—and especially lucky for YOU—the ladies over In The Powder Room accept my neurosis and even encourage it by publishing my post on this very topic.

So clear out those sinuses, click the link and go read about how if you see me spraying an air freshener in a store aisle and quickly sticking my nose in the mist, smelling a fake plant or subtly sniffing the cute guy in the produce aisle, there’s no reason to be alarmed.

smell

The nose knows, my friends.

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For Love of the Game

If you know me at all, you know that one thing I love is my baseball. Every year around this time I wax poetic about Opening Day, and this year will be no exception.

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But don’t worry.

Although I’m repeating myself, this post isn’t going to be filled with statistics and names or metaphors about the game that I’ve loved all my life. If you don’t love baseball, I won’t try and convince you. If you do love baseball, you don’t need me to tell you why.

But for me, it’s more than a game.

It is just a bat and a ball, but it can unite a city, a state, a family with one swing of that bat or one pitch of that ball. It can make grown men cry, and sometimes, even a 32-year-old woman who usually only cries for road kill and good food spilled on the floor.

It’s remembering summers by games that were played—the crack of the bat, the stitch on a ball, the smell of the grass in the field. It’s looking forward to spring training in the dead of winter when every other joy seems frozen beneath layers of ice and of snow—especially given the historically horrible winter that we’ve endured.

It’s being able to identify players by their batting stance or jersey number and feeling an instant connection with strangers wearing clothes with the old English “D” for my Detroit Tigers.

For me, it’s an escape.

Sports in general afford me the opportunity to forget about the mundane concerns of everyday life for a while and to spend time with others who take pleasure in enjoying a similar break. It’s a reminder that I can still feel excited about something when a lot of the time I’m just numb.

For me, it’s family.

It’s a 92-year-old woman who can’t always remember who I am, but who might tell me about a game in 1948 with a clarity time hasn’t stolen quite yet.

I know this year will be different.

Gram doesn’t understand the games on TV and can’t comprehend what we’re watching. Selfishly, this makes me sad because I feel like we lost our big “thing”—the talks about players, the gripes about calls, the excitement of recaps and scores.

Yet watching the game with her takes me right back to being sprawled on her living room floor as a kid, watching each game on mute while Ernie Harwell came through on the radio. (But not lying underneath the ceiling fan, as I was warned the goddamn thing would inevitably fall on me and crush me to death. Fuzzy memories.)

For me, it relates to everyday life.

The goal of every single hitter is to always make it back home. There are daily ups and downs, success and adversity. You can fail miserably one day and be the hero the next day. Slumps happen, but you have to let go of the past and look forward and remember the goal—and that you’re not in this thing by yourself.

It’s tradition and memories tied up with box scores and hopefulness mixed in with stats.

Sure, it’s a “pastime. ” But it’s my favorite way to pass that time.

Play ball.

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Pressing My Luck

I’ve come to the conclusion that my most viable retirement option is going on a game show and kicking some ass, so I’m currently looking into my options.

My love of game shows can most likely be attributed to my grandma. Everyone knew not to come over before “Price is Right” was on—she was still sleeping—but after that it was a marathon of everything from “Classic Concentration” and “Scrabble” to “$10,000 Pyramid” and of course, the immortal “Press Your Luck.”

If “Press Your Luck” were still on, I would so throw down with some Whammies.

But I miss all the old classic shows, as now we have “The Bachelor” instead of “Love Connection” in which Chuck Woolery— working one of his five jobs — charmed the audience with his impossibly white teeth, humorous quips and classic “two and two” as he threw it to a commercial.

Fortunately, some of the classics remain.

Suck It, Trebek

Of course I have to mention “Jeopardy” first, even if it’s the least viable option. Gram would usually tackle the history questions, many of which she considered to be modern news stories, and I could run any category on sports, food or household cleaning products.

But these days I only feel smart when it’s the Elementary School for Average Students Tournament of Champions and I recently slammed my head in the freezer, so I think I’ll stick with kicking the ass of the senile old people at the home.

Don’t judge. They’re a very competitive bunch.

Come On Down!

The “Price is Right” was a big one for us—once we got past Gram announcing all the models were cheap hussy floozies—and given my vast knowledge of grocery stores and couponing combined with the fact I created a PLINKO game for myself when I was little, this one might be a good bet.

It’s a long shot and I would have to wear an outrageous shirt with some ridiculous saying on it so I could get picked, but I’m confident that I could “come on down!” and bid closest to the actual retail price without going over.

However, I still can’t get used to skinny Drew Carey.

Spin to Win

Maybe it’s my love of words or the phase I went through in which I obsessively completed crossword puzzles—sometimes without even looking up the solution for the long words in the back of the book—but I can often come up with the “Wheel of Fortune” answers impressively early.

I wouldn’t be one of those players who spends all their money buying vowels—they obviously don’t know how to budget—or who shouts out every letter like they’re talking to Stevie Wonder. I also hear the “Bankrupt” sound effect every time I check my banking balance online, so I could comfortably couch my reaction should the wheel deal me that blow.

Regardless, I like The Wheel, and it’s been around so long that I expect Vanna to roll around in her walker uncovering letters at some point in time.

The only issue I see would be spinning the wheel itself. I’m not exactly what you would call “coordinated,” so falling over the barrier in an effort to enthusiastically spin the wheel and being forced to ride around in circles until it stopped is a distinct possibility.

But even then I might still end up as a YouTube viral sensation, at which time I could milk my 15 minutes of fame, go on Jimmy Fallon and convince him to hire/marry me and then retire to my couch with some hummus.

Either way, I think that’s a win.

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Saying “I Do” to Equality

The year is 2014.

People can carry whole lives full of information and pictures in a phone the size of a deck of cards. There’s an African American president who raps on late night talk shows and an ATM that will dispense a cupcake. Yet in 2014, there are same-sex couples that can’t legally bind their union because they’re a same-sex couple.

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.

I had a funny post done, but that’s going to wait because this past Friday my state of Michigan ruled the same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, making it the 18th state to allow gays and lesbians to get married just like their heterosexual counterparts.

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People who have been in committed relationships for decades ran to the courthouses to make it official that afternoon, with one couple who had been together for 25 years and adopted five special needs children quoted as saying, “We’re going to actually be a legalized family, a recognized family by everyone.”

This is all wonderful—as in, “actually-made-Abby-the-Ice-Queen-cry-a-little”—wonderful.

But then you know what happened? Less than 24 hours later the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put the gay marriage ban back in effect through Wednesday, “to allow a more reasoned consideration of the motion.” Hundreds of couples that were lined up to legalize their unions were turned away that day.

A bishop was quoted as saying that the ruling sought to alter “the fundamental meaning and structure of marriage that has existed from the beginning.”

Needless to say, what the hell?

In 2014, people like the Kardashians and overpaid celebrities caught cheating or doing drugs don’t only dominate the headlines, they are fully supported and encouraged. People watch their shows or buy the magazines dedicated to exposing their often questionably moral yet “glamorous” lives.

A celebrity marriage that lasts only 72 days? That’s fine because it’s entertainment, right? But a loving same-sex couple legalizing their union in an effort to be seen as equal citizens in the eyes of the state? Sorry, but we’re going to spend more tax payer money fighting that notion while continuing to hold up  “the fundamental meaning and structure of marriage that has existed from the beginning.”

Prohibiting gays and lesbians from marrying does not stop them from forming families and raising children. Nor does prohibiting same-sex marriage increase the number of “healthy” heterosexual marriages or the number of well-adjusted and loved children raised by heterosexual parents.

Don’t get me wrong.

I am glad I live in a time when things like this can be happening—there are 17 states where it’s legal—and constant steps are being taken towards equality in every way, shape or form. The opportunities exist for people to be anything that they want to be, more or less, but yet some still choose to be ignorant.

And since it’s a time when everyone can go online and broadcast their opinions to the world — and hide behind a screen or an outdated status quo— we also see the darker side of things. We see the backlash, the gender gaps, the discrimination.

I have to admit that I’m not surprised though, seeing as earlier this year a Cheerios commercial featuring an interracial couple and their daughter generated such a strong racist backlash on YouTube that the comments section had to be closed.

In 2014.

I’ll just wrap this up by saying I’m not gay and honestly, I’ll probably never get married. It’s just not my thing. But while the happiness of others doesn’t threaten my own, the ignorance of others does.

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.

Hopefully better times are up ahead.

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