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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A Motivational Speech for my Vacuum

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Hey there bagless buddy!

There’s been a little bit of concern about your performance of late. Maybe it’s because you’re a bit confused as to what this job description entails, so let’s have a little refresher.

You suck.

No, don’t roll away! That’s not an attack on your character! I mean that your job is simply to suck.

The endless hair shed on the carpet? The bastard grains of rice I spilled on the floor? You get the honor of scratching my OCD itch and sucking that crap up! Oh yes. You, my friend, have that “thing” that can do it for me.

What is that “thing”? That “thing” is power!

Because in spite of what you’ve heard, power does matter, and the second that I plug you into the wall we’re plugging into performance! Together we can focus on results and achieve the breakthroughs that will launch us into the realm of clean carpets and dirt-free floors!

That’s a little dramatic, I admit, but my point is that you can be special.

You can suck better than any other vacuum in this house. Well, except for the new dustbuster a fraction your size that could suck up the couch if I tried.

But you know what that dustbuster doesn’t have? A light on the front in case we need to vacuum at night. Light the way! It’s time to show that dustbuster who’s boss, and who sucks the most in this house!

So rise up and grab that rogue string I’ve run over 235 times instead of bending over myself to pick up. Run with it!

Why?

Because that string wants to come off of the floor, but it needs you to help it because it’s a string and a string cannot move on its own.

So tighten that new belt I bought you, spin those shiny wheels and get back to doing what it is you do best—you suck.

Let’s try and keep it that way.

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Who I Am

About eight or nine years ago I was in a group therapy session with 10 other women when the doctor had us go around the room and do a seemingly simple exercise: tell the group about ourselves.

Now keep in mind the setting—it was a hospital and not a wine bar—but one by one we went around the room. In the span of 10 minutes I learned among other things that one woman had severe depression, one was bipolar, one was struggling with bulimia and self-harm while another was checked in for a suicide attempt after a brutal sexual assault.

The doctor sat back with this look on her face and was quiet for a minute before she looked around the group and said, “You know what I find interesting? I see something entirely different.

“I know that you are a retired opera singer,” she continued as she shifted her gaze over the group. “That you graduated from dental school with honors, that you are a nationally published writer and that you have three children under the age of five. I don’t see your circumstances. I don’t let them define you.”

That really stuck with me.

It’s natural to identify ourselves using our circumstances, our struggles or how others perceive us. There’s an odd sense of comfort in being able to fall back on those things—more as a justification than an excuse—but none of those things are truly who we are. And the problem with latching onto these identities is, in addition to limiting our growth, we start to let them define us.

Why so serious?

Because this month’s “League” question as posed by Noa is: “Identity. Who are we? How did we get to the realization of who we are?”

I hate the “Who am I?” question myself, in part because it’s something I’ve struggled with now for years. It’s been a decade of survival, of retreating into intellectualizing everything and just being a quiet observer of life rather than fully immersing myself in it at times.

The problem is that through all my searching, I never found that “one” answer I needed, but rather the answers for somebody else.

It’s not so much that I don’t know who I am—I think I’m actually quite self-aware—but that I don’t know how to align where I am with where I want to go and how I want to live my life. And as much as I wish someone would just tell me what to do and how to get to that point, I also know it’s a journey.

Identity is constantly changing, and authenticity can’t be intellectualized or wrapped up in a neat little bow and printed on high-gloss business cards. But I’ve learned that it’s vital to be more concerned with how my life feels, rather than how my life looks. This is much easier said than done at times, but most valuable things often are.

So in response to Noa, I would have to say that among other things, I am a writer, a daughter and a loyal friend. I’m funny and grateful for humor, but introspective and complex as well. I’m someone who struggles, but I’m doing the best that I can and am unapologetically myself.

I am not my circumstances, but rather a survivor.

I am a constant work in progress.

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How would you answer the question?

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Discount Double Check

A majority of my purchases can be rationalized with the phrase, “It was on sale and I had a coupon.”

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Every. Single. Time

I love Sundays because the new grocery ad and coupon books arrive in the paper, (and because I don’t work and usually don’t wash my hair or do much of anything productive, which is why I usually don’t wash my hair. That would be productive.)

My only true ad interest is in the produce section and my “staple” items, as many of my specialty food purchases rarely go on sale. Boo hiss.

But seeing as I do the grocery shopping for my mom and uncle as well, I clip the coupons and organize them in my little coupon keeper. Every Sunday I weed out the old and add in the new, but sometimes an old one gets missed.

This is where I run into a minor coupon conundrum.

Most likely the old coupon will be the one I want to use on the grocery trip one day after it expired. Seeing as this wasn’t discovered until I’m already in the checkout line, I’m forced to make a decision—try and sneak it through or throw it away? Unless I know the cashier is a badass who’ll bust me, who are we kidding? Of course I’ll try and still use it.

In fact, I should try my hand at high stakes poker because of how good I am at keeping a straight face when knowingly using an expired coupon.

I usually make sure to sandwich the expired one in between two “valid” ones, if those are also being used. In my demented way of thinking, I believe the cashier is going to think, “She’s using two good coupons, so this probably slipped in by mistake! Of course I’ll give her 50 cents off of this cereal! She’s practically a saint, for god’s sake!”

When passing over the expired offender, I also try and busy myself with the rest of my bags and coupons while she tries to scan it in.

Some don’t care and figure the machine is just being funny. Others immediately get all CSI: Coupon and check the expiration date that I forgot to “accidentally” clip off with the scissors.

Again, I assume the internal dialogue of the cashier is running along the lines of, “This coupon is expired, but she looks really busy rearranging the bags I just filled with her stuff—pulling things out to examine them before glancing back up and then rearranging the bags yet again. She needs to save $1 on two cans of chickpeas.”

Of course the situation occasionally arises when I am busted, at which point I put on an Oscar-worthy performance of feigned ignorance about what the date is.

To be fair, I usually don’t ever know what date is, so it’s really not much of a stretch.

But I act surprised, tell her to toss it—as if she’s going to keep it for her own collection or something if I don’t—and after paying, raise my head high and push the squeaky-wheeled grocery cart out to the car.

You can’t put a price on pride, my friends, but I wouldn’t pass up on that coupon.

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Revealing Some Lady Parts

Remember when I said that I Just Want to be Alone?

Well, I have confession. At times, I don’t want to be alone. Sometimes I need the support of other people who understand where I’m coming from, that remind me that even if I’m physically sitting alone, I never have to feel lonely.

Plus, I just like to laugh.

Lucky for me I’ve somehow convinced an elite group of successful, talented and hilarious women to let me call them my friends. And lucky for you, I’ve also convinced this group of successful, talented and hilarious women to let me ask them a few random questions to convince you to go buy the book.

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Q: What is your biggest daily accomplishment?

I wasn’t aware I was required to accomplish things on the daily. – Nicole Leigh Shaw, Ninja Mom Blog

Managing to not crack open the bottle before wine o’clock….in some time zone. – Lynn, The Nomad Mom Diary

I go to work rather than deal with the details of my children, so there is that. Yay me! – Magnolia Ripkin

Not killing or divorcing the Hubs. We work together. From home. All day. All alone. Just the two of us. There are days the sound of his breathing irritates me and I know the feeling is mutual. – Jen, People I Want To Punch In The Throat

Q: If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?

Oh, hayle naw. I only sing in the shower and even then I want to gouge out my own ears. –Stephanie, When Crazy Meets Exhaustion

True story:  I once brought the house down in a bar in Antigua with my rendition of “Hopelessly Devoted To You” to Hubby on his 40th. I’m kind of a big deal at Sandals. – Christine, Keeper of The Fruit Loops

Q: When was the last time you cried?

Last week when both my girls were hysterical because I packed the wrong lunch in the wrong box. They switched boxes without looking inside and both hated what the other had, so they didn’t eat. Looking forward to puberty. – Stacey, Nurse Mommy Laughs

At “The Lego Movie.” Shut up, you don’t know my life. – Nicole Leigh Shaw, Ninja Mom Blog

I spilled milk the other day. – Ellen, Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Q: What’s the best gift you’ve given? Received?

Does birth control count as a gift? – Leanne, Ironic Mom

The best gift I ever got was earrings from my husband because they were the super cheap ones, proving that he listened when I said I’d smother him in his sleep if he spent a bunch of money. – Robyn, Hollow Tree Ventures

Q. What do you think about when you are alone in your car?

If the other drivers truly appreciate how incredibly frustrating they are. Also? If I rear-ended the asshole in front of me who doesn’t understand how to use a turn signal, exactly how much trouble would I be in? –Stephanie, When Crazy Meets Exhaustion

I finish arguments with more witty comebacks than I did in real life. – Rebecca, Frugalista Blog

I am rarely ever alone in the car, but when I am I think of nothing until I realize that I am still playing the children’s CD and then I wonder how the hell I didn’t notice for 20 blocks. – Kathy, Kissing the Frog

Q:  What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever lost?

My dignity – when delivering my children. –Andrea, The Underachiever’s Guide to Being a Domestic Goddess

I still miss my first husband. He was about 180 pounds of pussy. I like the new one better. – Magnolia Ripkin

It’s not the biggest, but it’s the weirdest. TWICE in my life I have returned from somewhere with only one shoe. – Meredith, From Meredith to Mommy

Q:  What was the last thing you splurged on?

An electric grill thing for the kitchen, because my husband does all the cooking and I want it to be as easy and pleasant as possible so I don’t have to start doing it again.  – Robyn, Hollow Tree Ventures

I bought myself a Nespresso machine. I said it was for the family. I lied. –Rebecca, Frugalista Blog

An iPad Mini for my son’s birthday. To avoid having a party at Bounce U. -Bethany, I Love Them the Most When They’re Sleeping

Q:  What was the last good deed you did?

They were out of carts in Walmart, so I went out to the parking lot and got not only one, nay, I got five and passed them out like they were quarters and I was the Tooth Fairy. Coincidentally, the Tooth Fairy gets a lot of business from the citizens of Walmart. – Ellen, Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

I offered to pay for a woman’s prescription. Not because I’m a good person, but because she was holding up the line because her card kept getting declined and I needed to get home. – Deva, My Life Suckers


Of course this is just a small sampling, but you can read more about the book and all it’s contributors when you go to Amazon to preorder.

For now, just know that your good deed of the day is coming to this blog and reading my stuff. I appreciate your support and the fact that you encourage my ramblings, overlooking the fact I probably have a dryer sheet in my sleeve or a streak of hummus in my hair.

OK. That’s as mushy as I get.

So go buy the book and enjoy this elite group of successful, talented and hilarious women that let me call them my friends—and reveal their lady parts with you.

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The Age of Asparagus

As you may know—and one look at my blog header in which I am “smoking” asparagus will tell you—my love of asparagus runs deep. So deep in fact that I eat it every day and have created a song for this stalk.

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 (To be sung to the tune of “Age of Aquarius”)

When I bring the groceries in my house,

And start to make my food.

Those stalks will guide the meals I eat,

And that taste will lift my mood.

This is the dawning of the age of Asparagus!

The age of Asparagus!

Asparagus!

Asparagus!

Roasting it or often steaming,

Fresh flavors and taste give life meaning.

Don’t care if urine is sulfuric,

This green stalk makes me euphoric,

Eaten raw—a revelation,

And the taste’s true liberation.

Asparagus!

Asparagus!!

When the moon is in the Seventh House,

And Jupiter aligns with Mars.

Then peace will guide the planets,

And love will steer the stars.

This is the dawning of the age of Asparagus!

The age of Asparagus!

Asparagus!

Asparagus!

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Measuring Up

I’ve been doing this blogging thing for a few years now, which means I occasionally give people the impression that I might know what I’m doing.

Once in awhile I’ll receive an email asking me for blogging tips or tricks to be successful, at which point I spit out my tea in surprise and make sure that the email was actually intended for me.

The fact of the matter is, I don’t really have any clue, mostly because I don’t know what “successful” really means.

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Whenever I see things that other people are doing—publishing books, appearing on the Huffington Post, getting a lot of comments, etc.—I admit that I get jealous and then sometimes a bit insecure, which is stupid considering that I’ve published books and have appeared on the Huffington Post.

But when I do something, I often dismiss it as “no big deal” in comparison to what everyone else is doing. It’s easy to fall into this trap because we keep coming up with new things to measure—Twitter followers, Facebook fans, Pinterest pins, etc.—even though those really don’t have a lot to do with how much impact you actually have or if what you do is actually decent.

After all, you can’t tell if a book is any good by the number of words it contains, even though that’s easily measured.

The fact is that now that everyone can write, publish, etc. there is a lot of noise and poorly written stuff cluttering up the Internet. Some of it “goes viral” and leaves you staring at the computer and wondering, “Why not me? Weren’t those last couple status updates or tweets funny or clever enough? Why aren’t there more comments on my last post?”

The deafening silence can cause you to doubt yourself and wonder where you went wrong.

This, my flustered friends, is where it can be tempting to jump on the bandwagon and do what seems to be working for everyone else. That’s why it often seems like there aren’t many new ideas — simply new people regurgitating the same things people have said in the past and being praised for reinventing a wheel that’s been rolling for years.

But this just in: If you’re doing what you want to do—not what you think you should do—you’re doing everything right.

It’s unrealistic to assume that whatever you’ve made—art, writing, cooking—is something that everyone everywhere should embrace. And even though it’s hard to stop measuring things that are measurable, the best things don’t measure well by conventional means.

The most popular isn’t necessarily the “best,” and personally I don’t want to mirror what’s around me, especially if it’s mediocre.

So even though I still stress over the silence that I often hear, I’ve come to learn that everyone is different. I write because I love it (most days) and while I’m willing to work hard, I’m not willing to change who I am just to please the masses.

I would like to think that walking away from those that don’t get it unlocks my ability to do different things, to create whatever it is without worrying what somebody thinks.

I guess that’s what I call success.

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