The year of living dangerously (as a woman)

2017 was a hell of a year, as in it was a slice of Hell for many of us. With an 8,760-hour news cycle these days, it seems Trumpism and its unique mélange of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and (apparently, now) galeophobia has made booting up Twitter a cringe-worthy experience. I haven’t posted for months because, to be 100% frank, I haven’t had the emotional energy. All I’d be doing is posting the word FUCK repeatedly until I reached about 1,000 words and hitting “Publish”, and while that would’ve been a hyper-accurate download of my feelings, it didn’t feel like productive sharing.

And here we are, in 2018, following a year where I feel like a lot more punching of Nazis should’ve happened instead of punching walls. Yet it feels horrible even to have to say “punching of Nazis” because that brand of evil should be extinctShould be but isn’t.

I started the year off in protest: marching with a million of my closest friends in my hometown of Washington, DC, to remind the emoluments-soaked, newly-installed resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave that we wanted none of him. We still don’t. Three million more of us voted for the person who’s 1000% less likely to tweet fat jokes at a dictator sitting on nukes that he now knows how to deliver across the Pacific Ocean (or at least to Japan, which is bad enough of a threat).


I will not go quietly back to the 1950's


The year continued with work–and a lot of it. My job is super-busy pretty much all year long, and just when we finish one big thing at work, something new is about to begin (or already) spinning up. No rest for the weary, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I like being busy, especially when it provides an excellent distraction from the horror of seeing friends about to lose their health insurance because people who have more money than they can count are happy to take insurance away from those who most certainly don’t.

By mid-summer, I was sporting a fresh tattoo–a constant reminder that we must always resist that which is wrong. That we never have to accept what we’re told we must, when we know in our hearts that it’s bad. That a woman’s place is in the resistance. (P.S. – I miss you, space mom.)




I spent a lot of time bingeing Twitter, following closely the many and varied attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act by people who lied prodigiously about Obamacare, as if calling it by that name made it any different from the ACA (*narrator voice*: they’re the same thing). The threat eventually died down for a short while–but it was more of a “to be continued”, since those intent on dismantling the government have no plan to slow down anytime soon and simply found another way around through a “tax reform” bill that only truly reforms taxes for the wealthy and businesses but that applies short-term changes of diminishing value to everyone else.

Self-medicating with ice cream from the local dairy has been the only option left, when there isn’t time or energy to work out and my body doesn’t accept caffeine or alcohol willingly anymore. (C’mon menopause, can I get my wine-o’clock back eventually?)

I took up cross-stitch, at first because it seemed like an interesting and fairly easy craft–and then because it allowed me to create feminist and empowering messages that I was able to share with friends and family (including this one, made to order per my daughter’s spec):


The future is female


In the Fall, it seemed that things were just exploding everywhere. Football players were kneeling on the field to draw attention to racial injustice while boos and taunts rained down on them. They aren’t allowed to protest loudly. They aren’t allowed to protest peacefully. They aren’t allowed to protest on the streets. They aren’t allowed to protest on the field. It’s a sick Seussian joke but the plain fact is that their protest isn’t accepted anywhere by those who simply don’t want to hear that racism is still a problem. But it is. It’s not about the flag or the anthem, and certainly there are few ironies more ridiculous than being lectured about patriotism by a President who doesn’t even know the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

The topsy-turvy world continued to spin on end when a fresh take on the #MeToo hashtag came around, this time championed by a lot of rich white women–and suddenly the world stopped for a moment to hear the stories of women who’d had enough of harassment, sexual assault, and the bullshit sexism that has kept us in unequal status for far too long. All women have these stories, even if they’re not willing or able to process that the hand on their ass all those years ago, the undesirable look down the front of their shirt, or the tongue down their throat they never asked for really IS unacceptable behavior. It gets worse, of course, and we have to have these conversations until the recoiling that our male friends and coworkers have when we describe how we or our friends were raped gets the message across that sometimes it’s not just a bad date. Sometimes it’s way, way worse. Abandoning us when we get angry won’t fundamentally change that this demented, corrupted inertia must come to an end. It will only change the calculus of who we consider allies.

It’s been a year where intersectionality really made sense in ways I hadn’t previously processed enough, particularly as I saw the Women’s March and the #MeToo movements miss lifting up our trans sisters and sisters of color in a way that we should. We don’t get ahead by leaving people behind. Trans women and women of color have been on the front lines for YEARS, and disenfranchising them from a conversation where they are critical is more than a missed opportunity: it’s a sign that we haven’t learned enough yet.


Respect women of color


And so we now are in 2018. The Golden Globes saw the fresh emergence of the #TimesUp movement which, while REALLY WELL-INTENDED, needs to have an impact on women everywhere rather than just those in SAG-AFTRA. It’s fine when a bunch of rich folks applaud themselves for realizing that enough is enough already, but if the message and impact aren’t felt much beyond the Beverly Hilton ballroom, it’ll still be a failure. Time needs to be up all over the place. (Work faster, Bob Mueller, please.)

I fully expect more circus macabre in 2018. We’re not through this wormhole fully just yet, but the pressure is intense and it seems like the event horizon is squeezing us slowly to bits. I continue to distract myself with an immense amount of work (enough that things like movie reviews and such may be in extremely limited supply–not due to lack of opportunity but lack of time to attend), and I have to hope to make it to the midterm elections without going up multiple dress sizes from eating all my feelings.

2017 was bad. Really bad. Like, never again this bad and please don’t let it get worse.

This all adds up to the understanding that my writing will be less frequent, and for that I suppose I should feel some measure of guilt. Except that the only promise I made about my blogging was that I would be honest, not that I would be weekly. And who knows, maybe the “ALL FUCKS” post will happen sometime this year, even if my goal is to give zero fucks. We’ll see.

I’m not done being angry. Even if this nightmare were to end tomorrow, the damage will still take years to undo. It’s so much easier to tear something down to build it up. For now, I will keep busy and watch the destruction, fighting it how and where I can, and lifting a middle finger to it in tribute to space mom, who knew very well that we can’t give up: we are the resistance.


Subtle isms and why YES, ALL Trump voters

I haven’t posted here in a while. I’ve spent more time on Facebook and Twitter, in my personal accounts. Some of this bunkering has been because work has been really busy for the last several months. But some of it–a large amount of it–has been that I’ve been worn out from the nightmare that’s engulfing our country. The anger and arguments that spilled over into an electoral college (but not popular vote) win for Donald Trump have gotten even uglier since January 20th. What has been called a “24-hour news cycle” for years seems to have been stretched into infinity; you can’t go a day–or seemingly an hour–without some awful story of how the government is about to turn the clock back on something valuable or a nasty Trump tweet that’s got more exclamation points than actual facts.

And so it was that when I sat at a friend’s house, enjoying an annual catch-up with her and other longtime friends, that my heart was made heavy by the events in Charlottesville. I’ve been to C-ville a number of times, and I remember what it was like when Kroger was the only grocery store. I still remember something odd that happened while waiting for my parents to finish buying groceries at the Kroger and wandering over by the local papers with my sister. One of them had a picture of a Confederate monument and the caption read something about a celebration on the anniversary of “the South winning the Civil War”. Say what?! My sister and I blinked a lot, but refreshing our eyes didn’t change that those words were printed there. The South, it seemed, hadn’t yet given up hope that they somehow pulled it out at the last minute. And maybe they did.

It’s not just the South that has KKK and Nazi’s. In my liberal adopted home of Massachusetts, we have people who drive around with enormous Confederate flags flying from their pickup trucks. There’s a “Free Speech Rally” set for tomorrow morning on Boston Common, and the Massachusetts chapter of the KKK plans to be there. Let that sink in: The Massachusetts Chapter Of The KKK. In the bluest of blue states, yes, we have racists here. And for many who’ve lived here all their lives, they can point to the continued segregation in Boston proper–where each neighborhood has its own distinct dominant look: Irish in Southie, Italians in the North End, Rich Whites in Back Bay, Portuguese and Latinos in Allston/Brighton, Blacks and Hispanics in Roxbury, and so on and so forth. The melting pot exists at the 10,000 ft level, but at sea level things look different.

I got a couple of lessons in the gray area between subtle and overt isms when I was in college. Freshman year, my roommates checked me for horns and hooves. They’d never met a Jew before, and they were surprised to see that I looked just like them. Sophomore year, I sat by confused as my next-door neighbors shouted at the football game on TV: “Look at that spoon go!” I asked them what a spoon was, after they’d used the term a number of times. One of them looked at me and said casually, “A spoon is a nigger.” I told them that was just about the dumbest thing I’d ever heard, and I never looked at those guys the same again. Central Pennsylvania felt to me like it was well below the Mason-Dixon Line.

During the course of his campaign, Trump made disparaging remarks about seemingly everyone except for white men like him. He made rude comments about women–exemplified by his attacks on Megyn Kelly, he made rude comments about Hispanics–starting off with a bang by accusing Mexicans of being rapists, murderers, and all around bad hombres, he made rude comments about Muslims–vowing to institute a ban to keep them out of the country, and more recently he created a moral equivalence between Nazis and white supremacists and the demonstrators who came out to protest against them. When Trump voters pulled that lever, checked that box, or filled in that oval for him, they voted for all of that.

But surely, not all Trump voters are racist or sexist? Sure they are. You don’t have to sport a swastika tattoo to be a Nazi. There are ways to have these ignorances so deeply ingrained that you don’t even recognize them in yourself until it’s far too late.

Subtle racism is in the person who crosses the street or grips their purse a little tighter when walking by a person of a different color. Subtle racism is in the stiffening of the spine when your child holds up a doll whose skin color doesn’t match yours. Subtle racism is when you look at a resume and think you know that person’s background based on the name at the top of the paper. Subtle racism is in assuming anyone who doesn’t have lily white skin must speak Spanish.

Subtle sexism is found in the business pants for women that have no belt loops for work badges and no pockets for cell phones. Subtle sexism is when a little boy can’t get a butterfly painted onto his face but is instead forced to get skulls. Subtle sexism is when the majority of girls’ shorts get a 3″ inseam that then becomes a trip to the principal’s office thanks to the overt sexism of school dress codes.

I’m not saying that people who voted for someone other than Trump are somehow immune from these isms–subtle or overt–but those who voted for Trump accepted his flaws as being fine. When someone vomits hatred through a microphone, if you choose to accept that as either “not a big enough deal” or “not a problem”, then you’re rubber-stamping it. You don’t have to raise your arm in a Nazi salute to give comfort to Nazis by failing to challenge them. You don’t have to tell your daughter that you value her less in society when you vote for someone who treats women as disposable tools for his sexual pleasure. You don’t have to tell your Muslim coworker that you don’t value him when you vote for someone who promises to find a legal way to ban Muslims from even entering the country.

Donald Trump told everyone who he was, and those who voted for him did so despite all the warning signs that he would value only one targeted demographic as important–and everyone else would get (at best) second-class citizenship status. So yes, all Trump voters. If the economy was their “big issue”, they deprioritized the value of non-whites, non-Anglos, women, and non-Christians in our society. They at least subtly sent the message that sexism, racism, and xenophobia aren’t enough of a problem to be a deal-breaker. It’s the Art of the Faustian Deal.

But we all have a choice–regardless of who we chose in November. We can stand up and be counted.

Stand up and speak out against Nazis and white supremacy.

Stand up and speak out for our queer friends who are being told their marriages and their military service aren’t valid.

Stand up and speak out for our daughters to remind them they’re able to accomplish ANYTHING they set their mind to.

Stand up and speak out for our friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors who worship at any number of different houses to reinforce that the Freedom of Religion in the 1st Amendment isn’t footnoted to read “Christian-only”.

Failure to speak out, failure to stand up are ways of choosing the side where hatred and ignorance come to play. Wringing hands and clutching pearls over the awfulness of it all won’t change a damn thing. Taking the high road doesn’t mean that you sit on the side of the road while Nazis march in front of you unchallenged. A better world won’t be built on hatred, intolerance, and bigotry. We can all choose to build the better world. But it damn sure won’t come under the “leadership” of Donald J. Trump.

Pick a side.

Stand up.

The children of the world are watching.

Movie Review: “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul”

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul

For the first time in a REALLY long time, I had one of the kiddos along for the screening, so this review is in a slightly different format–to give the perspective of the target demographic: a 10-year-old.

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” is another chapter in the life of Greg Heffley (Jason Drucker), a much beleaguered twelve-year-old boy who’s alternately tormented by his overly well-meaning parents and his insufferable, annoying older brother, Rodrick (Charlie Wright). This time, the Heffleys are hitting the road to go halfway across the country for the 90th birthday party of Greg’s great-grandmother, Meemaw (Mimi Gould).

The movie opens with the entire family (plus one of Greg’s friends) having a family-friendly dinner at a local restaurant that seems like a cross between a Chuck E. Cheese and a series of unmanaged troughs; this restaurant seems to be all at once the best friend and worst nightmare for the parents of young children. While hunting for his little brother in the overflowing ball pit/swimming pool, Greg manages to get a loose diaper stuck on his hand. The Power of the Internet soon takes over: he’s memed in a heartbeat as “Diaper Hands” and what little rep he has is shredded in the process.

The timing of this trip to Meemaw’s couldn’t be better. Greg needs some time away–and his mother, Susan (Alicia Silverstone), sees this as a perfect time for the family to reconnect offline. Naturally, she doesn’t know initially about how her husband, Frank (Tom Everett Scott), is sneaking in work while on the trip, nor does she know about Greg and Rodrick redirecting the GPS so they can have a shot at making it to a gamer convention that’s not quite en route. Her innocence at virtually every turn is rather incredible and it bespeaks the story’s origins as an elementary-school staple; mom always has your best interests at heart, and she’s way more innocent about how the world works than you think. (Reality is never this uncomplicated, but I digress.)

What follows the family’s departure from the homestead is a series of gaffes, missteps, and mishaps that alternate between funny and cringe-worthy. Even with some laughs, this movie may make parents reconsider taking a lengthy car trip with the kiddos. Speaking of kiddos, I have a ten-year old with thoughts of her own; my interview and her (only very lightly edited) responses can be found below–as well as both of our ratings.

Me: You’ve read “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul”. How do you think this stacks up versus the book: better, worse, about the same…or just different? Remember that not every movie made from a book has to be just like the book; it can be enjoyable on its own, even if it changes a few things here or there.

DD: It is definitely different from the book, with a few changes near the end (I won’t give that away). The story is similar to the movie, but overall the book is a little bit more exciting than the movie. If I had to choose between watching the movie again or reading the book, I would choose reading the book because it’s more interesting than the movie.

Me: Was there anything particularly good or bad about the movie, such as any scenes that made a particular impression on you? Remember not to give away any spoilers about the ending!


The only bad parts were parts where it was unrealistic:

  1. The Agricultural Fair. I have been to several Agricultural fairs before, and they were total opposites of this. Normally, they are so crowded you can barely get through, it takes you half an hour to get food, and the rides are so full you only get to go on a few. Not this one; it was WAY TOO open. The booths were miles away from each other, and there was barely anyone there! The lines for the rides were so short, you could probably go to every ride in under an hour.
  2. The Motel that they stayed at during the trip was overly gross. It was so UGLY and DISGUSTING. You could see small tiny holes in the bed that were burned. In the bathroom, there were cockroaches all over the floor, and the pool HAD NO WATER IN IT! The only things that were actually IN the pool were mice (or rats) and old wrappers/bags of food.

The good parts were:

  1. The scenery. It was just gorgeous!
  2. The pig. It was SO CUTE! The only thing I didn’t like is that in the book, the pig is in a little bit more than half of it, and in the movie, he/she’s in a small number of scenes.

Me: Did you think the actors did a good job portraying their characters? Any standouts–good or bad?

DD: I think most of the actors did a good job at portraying their character appropriately and to the age they are set to be. The only mishap I had was with Rodrick. He is supposed to be 16-17 and is acting like he is 19-20. Also, he is supposed to be a crazy teen, but seems more like a teen that is loud and obnoxious.

Me: Is “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” appropriate for kids? If so, what age would be the youngest you’d recommend?

DD: I would recommend this movie for kids age 7+. I wouldn’t go any lower, due to a couple of scenes and some language (there are no swears, but even so), I think that it would be a little much for them. I think that kids like me, ages 9+, might like/dislike it based on the books (I have read them all).

Me: On a scale of zero to four stars, where zero is “I NEVER WANT TO SEE THIS AGAIN”, and four is “THIS WAS THE BEST MOVIE EVER AND EVERYONE SHOULD GO SEE IT” (and where half stars are allowed), how would you rate “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul”?

DD: I would rate this three stars out of four. I don’t like it as much as I liked the book (like I explained in the first question). It was entertaining, but even so, there were some parts that didn’t make me go “WOW!” or “COOL!”; they just made me go, “So…what does that have to do with the story?!” This is just my opinion, but people are different, so you might like it better or worse than I did (depending on your taste of movies).

Me: For my part, I’d rate it two stars out of four–but I’m not the target audience; I’m just the money and the ride. Thanks for your help, kiddo!

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” opens in theatres on Friday, May 19, 2017. It is rated PG for some rude humor.