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I’ll be honest.  I’m not really sure where this post is heading.  It was inspired by yet another “this pu**y is off to march” photo that showed up on one of my social media feeds. It, along with Hillary Clinton’s presidential run and the rash of feminist spewing in response to Trump’s election, has caused me to reconsider my thoughts on feminism and what it means to me.  Sharing those thoughts in some kind of succinct and organized “personal manifesto” is proving a somewhat difficult task.  So, join me if you will, as we jump on the stream of consciousness train and see if I can make some sense of these contemplations. Read More

Respecting Our Freedom of Speech

couple-argueAt the risk of sounding boorish and repetitive, I would like to share a FINAL thought on the miserable state of politics in this country. The good news is, I don’t think it will take very long. (I’m actually not sure this even qualifies as a post, but here it is anyway.)

Unfortunately, the drama continues in the saga that is the U.S. presidential “changing of the guard.” Performers are deserting the inaugural celebrations almost as soon as they sign on because of fear of retaliation. There were even reports of one artist receiving death threats!? As you might expect, he also has decided to forego this particular performance. Excitingly, Meryl Streep is now a true freedom fighter, at least according to some in Hollywood. On a side note, did Ms. Streep or any of her fellow Golden Globe attendees express similar heartbreak over the brutal attack upon a mentally ill man in Chicago earlier this month?  I can no longer stomach Hollywood award shows, so it is possible I missed a heartfelt speech about this gut-wrenching, sickening crime.

Per standard operating procedure, the delightful bickering between left and right keeps flourishing, much like the weeds in my backyard.  It’s just embarrassing. (The bickering, not the weeds – although they can be embarrassing on occasion.)  Sprinkle in the delusional, arrogant prattling of an outgoing president, add a dash of off-the-cuff, sometimes not completely thought out remarks of a wild-card president-elect, and you have enough S*#T stew to feed you for a lifetime. Eventually, all that toxic twaddle trickles downhill until it inevitably stinks up your personal Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram feed. There is no escape!

After reading a few stories on the latest political dramas and unintentionally running across others whilst casually surfing the internet, I remember thinking how often we abuse and mistreat the privilege of free speech. I recollected the behavior of We the People before and after the election;  I recalled the over-the-top tackiness we saw on the campaign trail;  I re-examined the slanderous name-calling and accusations; I promptly regurgitated…okay, not really. But, almost.

I began to wonder if we, myself included, really grasp what a privilege we have in freedom of speech. Whether liberal, moderate, or conservative, we are ALL permitted to express our opinions and beliefs, but do we consider the high cost paid by others so that we may enjoy such a privilege? If we did, perhaps we would respect it more or find it easier to exhibit some dignity and etiquette when we disagree rather than resorting to Jerry Springer show tactics. Squabbling and backbiting does not honor a gift purchased with the lives or physical and mental well-being of so many people, past, present and future. There’s nothing wrong with intense disagreement, passionate debates, or even injecting a little humor here and there – after all, we’re only human. However, slandering, threatening, or harassing someone for disagreeing with you is a perverse use of the privilege of speaking our minds.

When we engage in robust debate with grace and respect, we honor the gift of free speech and those who fought for it. Likewise, when we threaten, belittle, slander or shame, we demean, even cheapen, a gift bestowed upon us at such great sacrifice to the true freedom fighters of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.



This Is Not the Post I Was Looking For


Please excuse the informality of this post. I just need to get something uploaded so the past four days of my life don’t seem like a total waste. Grrrrr.

This is not the post I intended to upload as my first blog entry of 2017.  Originally, I planned to write a follow-up to my previous post about the 2016 presidential election – just another little blurb from my inconsequential, non-expert point of view. Indeed, I did write that post, for four days I wrote, and at the end of four days I was left with over 1,000 words of diddly squat. Initially, I was determined to work through the roadblocks and finish the thing strictly on principle alone, but this morning I finally admitted defeat and let it go. (I just had to stop and think whether or not I needed to place quotations around that phrase – thanks a lot Frozen.)

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An Average Jane’s Thoughts on the 2016 Presidential Election


Need I say more? Okay.

I typically don’t discuss politics “publicly.”  I’m not comfortable doing so nor am I any good at it.  However, sometimes thoughts and frustrations build up inside your head and you need to set them free.  If you don’t, they fester and rot.  Before you know it, you’re spewing your guts to your poor, unsuspecting cat who really just wants you to stop shouting and feed her the can of Fancy Feast rather than gesticulating wildly with it. So, for my own sanity and my cat’s digestive health, I will inflict my rambling thoughts upon the internet because, unlike my cat, you are not a captive audience and are free to walk away…”just walk away.”

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Naked Feet at the Airport

I thought I’d take a moment to share with you some quick thoughts inspired by my recent air travel experiences.

Earlier this month, I was fortunate enough to spend a week with my parents who live in Florida. The visit itself was great, no problems there! Traveling to and fro; however, was another story!  I’m not talking about the inconveniences of added security checks; that’s old news and just a byproduct of the world in which we live.  It is what it is, as they say.  I’m talking about the attitudes of my fellow travelers and the airline staff.

For various reasons, I have flown nationally and internationally many times throughout my life.  Like many people, I have some sense of how traveling has changed over the years.  Unfortunately, I think people, in general, have become more inconsiderate towards their fellow travelers, and I believe many (not all) airline employees are fairly apathetic when performing their duties.  Regardless of whether it’s a fellow traveler or airline employee raining on your travel parade, the fun seems to start at the gate.

I’m not sure why people feel the need to swarm the gate as soon as boarding is announced.  This simply clogs the flow of boarding traffic.  We all have boarding groups, no one is getting on the plane any sooner than their assigned boarding group allows (unless they fall into a special “pre-boarding” category). Why not back up and wait your turn? At the departing gate of my hometown airport, there were so many people milling around the boarding line, hanging around the periphery, I had no idea where the line actually began or if I was cutting in front of someone.  It was ridiculous.

After surviving the boarding fiasco, then of course comes the fun of schlepping your way to your assigned seat.  Why, oh why, don’t people understand that once they’ve located their seat, they should slide out of the way of the boarding passengers behind them and then figure out their carry on bag situation? Instead, they keep the rest of us waiting while they dig around for earphones, water, and reading material before then trying to stash their borderline over sized bag in the overhead compartment. I was once behind a gentleman who decided he needed to text someone while standing in the aisle! As you can imagine, that did not sit well with those of us waiting behind him and he did get the hint pretty quickly.

As if dealing with inconsiderate travelers isn’t enough, there’s the grumpy airline staff and the delays or gate changes that add to the enjoyment of flying. This trip was no exception.  My outbound flight to DFW boarded on time but we sat on the airplane for nearly 40 minutes with no explanation as to why we were not moving. A late boarding passenger mentioned he had heard the delay was related to weight allowance issues though we never received any explanation even when we finally took off.  Once in the air, we had to enjoy the company of a flight attendant who appeared irritated by our very presence. Her attitude and apparent irritation made it somewhat difficult to believe the obligatory “thank you for choosing to fly with us today” speech at the end of the flight.

Because of potential delays and gate changes (especially with the airline I booked this time), I usually try to schedule connecting flights with at least two-hour layovers between them. On my return trip from Orlando to DFW, I had a three-hour layover. After deplaning, I found a somewhat quiet corner where I could sit and watch some videos in peace.  I was on the very end seat with three empty seats to my right.  Perfect! Until some woman plops down in the seat next to me but one.  I was still okay, I could handle that as long as she stayed there. But no, that was not to be – apparently she needed a nap.  After much rustling about and situating her belongings just so, she swiftly swung her legs over to the empty seat to her left, THE ONE IMMEDIATELY TO MY RIGHT, and then proceeded to kick off her sandals.  I tried to remain calm, tried to mind my own business and ignore the fact that some stranger’s naked and sweaty feet were only inches from me. Needless to say, I couldn’t hack it.  I promptly, and rather purposefully, packed up my iPad and left to find another quite corner.  How gross is that? What are people thinking?  I know they’re tired and I know they want to be comfortable, but the airport is not your home or your hotel room!  What is it about airports that causes us to lose any sense of decorum? Inflicting your naked, sweaty feet upon unsuspecting strangers is never okay!

While I am grateful to have had the chance to visit my parents, I think I may drive the next time.  At least the only other travelers I’d have to deal with would be my own family members and they definitely know better than to stick their naked, stinky feet anywhere near me.

Avoiding Minefields at the Mall!

Another useless rant inspired by a recent trip to the mall.

I miss the days when shopping was fun, care free, even relaxing.  I used to enjoy meandering through a variety of stores in the mall or other shopping centers.  Perhaps I was oblivious in those days, but I don’t seem to remember being followed around the store as if I were some sort of thief planning my next shoplifting venture.  I could also walk through the mall in peace as there were no over-zealous kiosk vendors trying to lure me over to their stands.  I could make my purchase at the checkout counter without answering a gazillion questions before being allowed to actually pay for my products.   Unfortunately, this is no longer the case and these days I find shopping a stressful and generally unpleasant experience.

Perhaps it is a sign of the times, but I don’t understand why stores encourage their clerks to follow customers around as if they’re in pursuit of one of the FBI’s most wanted.  If they’re going to require their employees to police patrons, they should at least train them to do so with a bit more discretion.  It’s fairly obvious that you’ve been pegged as a potential criminal when a sales clerk suddenly pops up out of nowhere and asks if you need help despite the fact that you’ve been wandering around the store for some time with absolutely no other offers of assistance.  This usually occurs once I’ve picked up the item I’m looking for; I can only assume this serves as some kind of signal that I’m then going to stuff said item into my purse.  At this point, if I don’t leave the area in which I’m browsing, they suddenly decide this formerly neglected space needs a good tidying up and there they linger faffing and fluffing obviously waiting for me to make my shoplifting move.

As if the experience inside the store isn’t bad enough, it’s then time to venture outside into the mall which brings a whole other level of irritation – kiosk vendors.  Whoever allowed these people to set up in the middle of the mall needs to be voted off the island.  I understand people need to make a living, but they should at least do so in a less obnoxious manner.  Our mall kiosk vendors favor a more in your face sales tactic. Now all I can think about as I’m wandering from store to store is “DON’T MAKE EYE CONTACT!” I try to ignore the guy claiming to have the latest and greatest hair straighteners; the woman with the miraculous self-massage gadget (not as salacious as it sounds); the young man touting the wonders of a brand new shoe polish; the people selling nail tonics; the group selling brand new anti-aging serums.  The number of people I have to avoid just to maneuver between stores keeps growing.  My mall trips are now marred by having to navigate a minefield of aggressive sales people trying to separate me from my hard earned money with their latest groovy gadgets.  Isn’t there some sort of mall government that can ban this type of behavior?  Clean up the minefields of money hungry sales people; pass some mall bill outlawing kiosks altogether?? I would love a return to the days when walking through the mall was a peaceful, stress free experience.

My biggest shopping pet peeve, the one that makes me want to dump my purchases at the cash register and walk out, is the number of questions I’m bombarded with before I can even get through the purchase.  Are you a member of our discount club? Would you like to become a member?  Can I have your phone number? Are you playing our latest in-store money saving game? Would you like to apply for our credit card and save 10% now?  When did making a simple purchase become such a chore? You’re getting my money, let me give it to you and then leave me the hell alone.  I particularly despise the phone number and credit card questions.  I usually tell them my number is unlisted, which it is.  Many store clerks appear put out by this response but I’m past the point of caring.  Although some claim this is for return purposes, I’ve never yet had to provide it when returning an item so I don’t actually know what stores do with my phone number once it’s entered into their system.  Some cashiers have also reacted quite churlishly when I refuse their offer to apply for a store credit card.  I’m guessing this is because they receive some sort of reward for every application they procure.   I’ve fallen into those “save 10% now” traps and it didn’t end well.  The 10% you save at the time is nowhere near worth the amount of interest you’ll pay later.  In my opinion, the stores and credit cards behind these offers have some responsibility in creating this crazy for credit country in which we live.   It is a temptation that is thrown in our faces almost every time we shop and, quite frankly, I don’t think it should be allowed.  I suppose people have to learn their own lessons but, if you have a problem with credit and you keep racking up store credit cards, this will be a very hard and expensive lesson to learn in the long run.

These days, I find myself avoiding the mall and shopping online more and more.  I know this has its own risks, but I’ll take it for now.  At least there are no amateur store detectives following you around, no obnoxious sales people shouting at you, and no one trying to pressure you into applying for credit cards you don’t need.  It’s open 24/7 and there are no crowds to contend with, all in all a perfect shopping scenario!

Keep Your Warped Perfection

I waste a lot of time watching YouTube. I’m not proud of it, but it is a fact.  Much of this time is devoted to watching beauty “gurus.”  I’m not sure why as I rarely wear makeup. It never looks quite right on my face probably because of my poor application skills.  Nonetheless, I enjoy watching the almost magical transformations demonstrated by these experts.  Although, to be honest, it has left me wondering why we feel the need to cover our faces with products containing ingredients that sound like they belong in an industrial manufacturing plant. This is not an indictment of the cosmetic industry or those who enjoy makeup; I just get stuck on the “why” of it all.

These makeup gurus are all pretty whether they’re wearing makeup or not and, to be fair, many of them don’t wear “full on face” in their everyday lives.  Still, why is there this sense that women need to cover up at all? Most men don’t wear cosmetics – they look like what they look like.   They get up, shave (maybe), wash their face and that’s it.  Take it or leave it.  How refreshing it would be if that philosophy was more acceptable for women.  It seems to me; however, that we are generally held to a different standard and expected to put our best made up face forward, especially as we head off into the work environment, corporate or otherwise. Just because we have the tools available to enhance our appearance, must we use them in order to prosper or get ahead in life? Perhaps that depends on the job, circumstances, culture, or our level of confidence in bucking the system.

Who or what is to blame for this notion that we should cover up rather than meet the world bare-faced? Advertising? Vanity? Dating? Peer pressure? Hollywood? Did it become more of a preoccupation with the advent of motion pictures? Perhaps it was the increasing exposure to beautiful film stars on the silver screen that catapulted us into a world of cosmetic obsession. Or perhaps that is just an over-simplified way of thinking; I’m obviously no expert on the history of the cosmetic industry or what cosmetics mean to different cultures.  I can only speak from what I observe here.   I do believe, like many others, that today’s modern media plays a definite roll in our obsessive quest for perfection. Despite the fact that our idea of perfection is warped as it is usually based upon the countless Photoshopped celebrity images we are bombarded with daily.  As if we can ever obtain the hair, skin, or body of someone who’s been not only technologically altered but probably surgically enhanced.

To some degree, I think celebrities play a conscious role in selling this skewed perception of perfection.  I’m thinking particularly of those who advertise drug store brand products and then claim these products are responsible for their glowing skin or shiny hair (extensions/weave/whatever).  That is such a load of bunk.  I’m fairly certain Jennifer Aniston does not rely solely on Aveeno for her miraculously healthy, smooth skin nor can I ever imagine JLo trusting her tresses to a do-it-yourself L’Oreal hair dye (L’Oreal – a major animal testing company by the way).  I’d be very surprised if Pink’s flawless appearance on the red carpet is due to her makeup artist whipping out the Cover Girl cosmetics. (Is Pink still vegan/vegetarian? Just wondering as Cover Girl is owned by Proctor & Gamble, another company still conducting animal testing)

Despite the recent release of Cindy Crawford’s non-Photoshopped picture, I don’t believe Meaningful Beauty products are entirely responsible for her flawless skin nor do I believe it’s responsible for the youthful complexion of her celebrity friends who appear in the advert. Debra Messing touts the miraculous powers of Meaningful Beauty while a before and after photo is flashed across the screen.  In the before photo, the lighting is bad, she appears makeup free, and her hair is not styled.  In the after photo, the lighting has mysteriously improved, she has some makeup on, and her hair is back to its full glory.  Do they (the ever present “they”) think we don’t notice these things? If the average person does experience improvements while using this product, they are still not going to be on the same level as these people claim. In my mind, this equates to false advertising. Celebrities who use these products also have access to the latest and greatest cosmetic surgeries and dermatological procedures available – they are not relying solely on some fruit serum system to maintain their youthful looks.  That is fine, it’s their face and their money, but please don’t tell me your youthful glow and wrinkle-free face is a result of various lotions and potions because that is a lie.  I realize that most of us probably don’t believe the hype, but all beauty product results should still be represented accurately and truthfully regardless of who’s endorsing them.

I understand the desire to purchase the latest anti-aging miracle creams and to cover up imperfections.  I understand the self-consciousness that comes with aging and facial flaws.  I have a wonky eyelid, cavernous pores, and dark circles to name a few.  While I would enjoy being skilled enough to hide some of these flaws on occasion, I usually prefer a minimal or no makeup look.  Unfortunately, throughout the years, leaning towards the bare-faced look has left me open for some unpleasant and hurtful comments.  I still remember the time a long-term college boyfriend put his arm around me and said, “You really are homely aren’t you?” Yeah…those aren’t words that you remember forever. Thankfully, I found someone who accepts me, wonky eyelid, cavernous pores, homeliness and all!

On the whole, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with makeup.  It can be a useful tool. It can help us feel better about ourselves by enhancing our best features and camouflaging those we are not so thrilled about. However, cosmetics cannot be the only thing from which we derive our confidence as they are a temporary solution. We should not feel obligated to wear makeup just to progress at work or to please someone else. We should not strive to attain the unattainable then beat ourselves up when we cannot reach unrealistic goals.  None of us can compete with the airbrushed, Photoshopped models and actresses in magazine ads.  It’s not real!

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all have the confidence to eschew these stupid ideals that are sold to us every single day in one form or another? How freeing it would be to say, “Here’s my face! I have pores! I have lines! I have dark circles! Enjoy it, deal with it, or piss off!”