PANDEMIC ESSAY

Tonight, my beloved youngest daughter cried to me on the phone. She doesn’t feel well. She’s got severe cramps. She has a headache. And her throat is sore. Really sore. So sore in fact that the Kaiser Permanente nurse on call ordered her a prescription of amoxicillin without seeing her in person because if it’s strep they want to treat it. If, God forbid, it’s Covid, I guess the antibiotic isn’t going to make a difference.  They want her to come in for a Covid test tomorrow. She thinks she has the flu, but she had the shot, and she’s not sure.

She cried because she’s overwhelmed.  She’s quarantined with two “ghost” roommates that went home to their folks’ house but surprisingly (to me) re-leased the apartment together with high hopes that the university won’t be remote in Fall.  She cried because she still has homework and a new dog, online classes, and a boyfriend who just moved in and it’s all a lot and she doesn’t feel well.  She cried because she’s staring at the same walls over and over and there’s no fun sorority activities to look forward to. She cried because food doesn’t even sound good to her anymore. She cried because she’s a junior in college and sometimes the pressure of the quarantine is intense. She cried that she feels like a “pussy” because she’s had it.  She feels like she isn’t measuring up in the courage department; that she should be able to take it all in stride.

Meanwhile, my 95- year- old mother- in- law, who was one step ahead of the Nazis all through Europe, is alone in her home, watching TV reruns and chatting with various grandchildren and great-grandchildren, a handful of friends, a lovely, watchful neighbor and one of her daughters who comes over once a week to help with groceries and her home management. My mother-in-law still cooks for an army and always has a complete meal for twenty on hand. Thankfully, she is also great with technology and converses with texts and visits by FaceBook. She has had many challenges in her life, and this is one more under her belt. She’s alone with her resolve.

And my own 89- year- old father is also alone in his home, but he isn’t good with computers, so he is more isolated. My brother and I call him several times during the day and bring over groceries and some hot meals. I grab his laundry and bring it home to do. We try not to stay too long because although we wear gloves and masks, he is a stubborn, proud man and when we finally took away the car keys, he showed us who’s boss and walked to the corner market, sans mask and gloves, to pick up orange juice; something he ostensibly would die without because he couldn’t wait a day or so until we did his grocery run.  In other words, we’re not sure if he’s a possible threat to us or we’re a threat to him. So, we try to keep the actual time we’re in his home to a minimum. He is isolated along with his pride.

My oldest daughter came home for part of the quarantine to finish a project for work. Honestly we struggled with limits and boundaries because she  is a full-fledged adult and I kept falling back into old mothering habits. It’s a transition and I didn’t do a good job. I wanted her to stay so my husband and I could brave the dangerous grocery store for her. I bribed her with cooking. Actually, I bribed her with my husband’s cooking. I really didn’t want her to go home so I could protect her for as long as possible. Bubble wrapping both my kids during a pandemic still makes sense to me. My daughter is alone now, albeit in her lovely new apartment that she furnished herself with all new items right before the pandemic hit. My daughter is able to work from home; her home, the home she created. She’s alone with her privacy and ambition.

My sister- in- law lost her husband during the pandemic although it was not to the virus. But she couldn’t go into the hospital with him because of the virus and she wasn’t with him when he died.  She is lonely and mourning and probably still in shock. There was no service and no closure. We didn’t even have a card on hand to send to her right away. I assumed I couldn’t send flowers and felt funny about that anyway. I do not want flowers in my house right now. I don’t want anything in my house from the outside unless I need it to live and I supposed the same thing about her.  She helps her mother. She helps out her son and daughter -in- law too. She hasn’t been the most talkative right now and I don’t want to bother her.  She is buying a new house and selling the one where she lived with her husband. She is alone with her memories.

My husband and I are functioning.  Our dog seems suddenly sick and we are worried about her. She is 15 years old and an integral part of our family. My husband and I both have some medical issues and neither one of us will go to the doctor right now. I was scheduled for some important tests as was my father frankly, when the shelter-in-place directive came down. And all of us are sitting it out right now. The problems are on hold.

My husband and I go to buy groceries only with great planning. I typed out the last list in order of the store aisles to cut down on our exposure time. We wear 95 masks that are getting battered. We had leftovers from the fires that came within 100 feet of our home last year. We wear gloves, carry sanitizer, wrap the phones in a plastic bag and I top it all off with a face shield and my hair hidden under a sweatshirt hood.

We compare the quarantine to the weeks after we survived the Northridge earthquake, but unfortunately our house didn’t. We’ve been through a lot, the two of us, in 28 years of marriage. We’ve been through a lot. And a couple of months ago, we woke up to a virus that destroyed our industry and our business that we have been building since 1993. Gone. Over. We lost thousands of dollars in one day when one of our big concerts was pulled. And still we cook up new recipes, and make phone calls, and look at new potential partnerships and bake banana bread and challah and talk to the utilities about deferred payments and splurge on green olives stuffed with bleu cheese. We’ve been through a lot. We are alone, together, with our grief.

Today we saw on the news that people went out and about and acted like they were immortal. They are selfish and cruel. We have done our part. We have stayed in as asked except to venture out to the grocery store or my dad’s or the P.O. box. That’s it. For Weeks.  And now these selfish, cruel people have wandered out and crammed beaches and pools and parties. And if they wind up in the ICU at the same time as me, or my husband, or my sister- in- law, or my father or my mother- in- law, we will not be the ones who get the ventilators. It won’t matter that we stayed home. We are too old. We have an expiration date. That’s been made very clear.

So, my 20 year- old daughter was crying on the phone tonight and telling me that the quarantine is too much; that she feels weak. And I told her that I am very, very proud of her and her boyfriend. They are only kids. They are by themselves in this unprecedented event in our lifetime and they are living. They are finishing classes and running a household. They are taking care of another living being; a new dog. Her boyfriend is completing his final classes and interviewing for jobs. He’s starting a career hopefully, but sadly missing graduation.

They are just kids. My comfort is limited to FaceTime and encouraging words. My daughter is not weak. Her boyfriend is not weak. They are resilient. Crying is OK I tell her. She would be crazy not to be scared; not to be overwhelmed. She is strong I tell her. She is really strong. I say it again. I hope she is hearing me through the tears and garbled crying. She understands, I hope, that one can be strong even if one is afraid.

I am proud of my family.

I am proud of them all.

I bought industrial toilet paper from China, MREs and backpacking dinners. I got cans of food, hand sanitizer and masks galore. I stocked up on gloves and frozen food but deferred the car payment. We signed up for unemployment for the first time in forty years and managed to secure a small PPP loan. I don’t know how we are going to get through this as I perceive that we are still in the middle of it. And now it’s been made longer by people who had to run outside without masks and gloves and forgot what six feet looked like or worse; it appears that they just didn’t care.

Thanks.

I won’t be in line for a ventilator. I won’t even be considered for one.

I still have a lot of things I want to do. I haven’t been to Israel. I haven’t gone skydiving. I still want that advanced degree. I want to try being a stand-up comic- at least once- even if I have to pay the audience to come! I want to finish writing my book. I want to travel to the national parks with my husband in a spanking new Sprinter. I want to see my kids get great jobs, and maybe get married and have kids if that’s what they want.

My wishes don’t have an expiration. Which one of the selfish people in the pool yesterday got to decide that my goals have an expiration?

I just called my daughter back to check on her.  She’s holding off on getting the prescription until the morning. She sounded a little better. I pray her test is negative tomorrow. I hope she realizes how strong she is and how honored I am in knowing her.

And if I wind up on a one-way ticket to the emergency room, during this pandemic, that I probably won’t survive, I hope she’ll let me go gracefully and with dignity and know that she will never really be alone.

Her zeide, grandma, aunt, sister, father, and me her mother, her other aunts and uncles and cousins galore; we will always be with her. We will always be with her, in her strength and in her solitude.

She will never be alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN HONOR OF 9/11, AN OPEN LETTER TO OSAMA BIN LADEN WRITTEN IN 2001

I would be surprised if you ever saw this. And then again, maybe I wouldn’t. Information can be transmitted so easily now; although I don’t know if you get AOL or newspapers in your cave—assuming you are still there.

But since you found a way to send a message to this PTO mother of two, who was quietly raising a family and trying to figure out a way to save for college educations and retirement and contemplating what job I would return to when my little one was old enough for pre-school; who scrambled to call anyone and everyone I knew in New York and Washington; whose family members were stranded by your actions; whose husband lost his job because of you; whose friends are shaken to their core; who is afraid to gather in public or fly or send my children to religious school; who cries inside for so many who can not cry now for themselves—I thought I’d send you a message.

You got my attention. Blowing up thousands of my countrymen, who were quietly raising their families and who went to work one day to save for their children’s college educations and their retirements; that got my attention.

And the truth is I’m not sure that the people at the top of my government are sure that you did this.  I’m not sure that I am not being manipulated in some ways by the media.  But I am sure that you had some hand in this or some influence and for that reason, I am sending this letter to you. To the Taliban. To Sadam Hussein. To the PLO. To any terrorist anywhere. And for that matter to the Christians and Protestants who continue to blow each other up in Ireland.

I do not care about your ideology. I do not care about who is living on whose land. I do not care about which G-d you pray to; if you do at all. Did you ask me about my ideology? Did you ask what I care about? Did you ask if someone on the 105th floor of Tower One believed in Allah just like you?

What exactly is the message you were trying to send? Surely, if you are that wealthy, you could have taken out a full-page ad in the New York Times or perhaps the Washington Post.  Maybe CNN could have hosted a round-table discussion for all you holy warriors. I would have listened. I would have tuned in to your opinions. You could have opened up the phone lines for a poll.

Do you know what I care about? I care about gray children lying in streets, who cannot raise a tiny bit of precious food to their cracked lips. And women who can’t read a book, much less feel a breeze on their naked face for fear that they will die gruesome deaths. I care about families who cannot find each other.  I care about young boys, babies still, who are forced to become warriors and then have their legs blown off.

I care about people telling the truth. I care about mothers everywhere who have witnessed horrible things that I don’t even want to pretend I understand.

I think I believe in G-d. But I think that you cannot even begin to comprehend a Supreme Being. Because nothing that is higher than mankind would encourage such horrid acts on its behalf. Nothing…. no one. I do not care what name you call it. I do not care if your G-d is someone’s Son or Father. Destruction is not holy.

When do you see G-d? When you crash a building down on thousands of unsuspecting people whom you’ve never questioned about ideology? When you have diabolically convinced someone to become a human inferno?

I see G-d when I bathe my beautiful children; soapy and silly and giggling.  I see G-d when my babies sing to me; when they draw a picture for me; when they share what they learned at school…. when they speak to me of tolerance.

 I am not violent. I do not pray for your destruction. I would not pray to a Supreme Being for the destruction of another human being.  I am angry. I am furious. I am beyond fury. I pray that you will be captured and jailed and treated miserably in solitary confinement for a very long life in silence and darkness.  I pray that impoverished people will be fed and kept warm and educated. I pray that other mothers, everywhere, will be able to enjoy bathing their beautiful babies—soapy and silly and giggling.

I pray that mad men will not ruin more lives….

If making me afraid makes you holy, then you are holy. And I will freely admit that I am afraid. I am terrified. But I will live.

I am pushing aside the fear. I am stomping on it. I am screaming. Can you hear me yelling at you? Because I am not alone. I am almost 300 million strong. You will not make me a prisoner as you have done to others. My husband will find work. We will go out in public. We will take a trip by plane. I will smile at the strangers I may have ignored last week. Because they are Americans too…. And yes, my children are going to religious school. They need G-d ; a G-d of caring and compassion.

Do you know what else I am doing?  I am trying to read your Koran.  I am looking for some way to comprehend what you have done.  But I don’t think the answers are there.

With all of your money you could have tried to help the people around you by repairing roads and buildings. You could have taught your warriors to repair lives. Instead you have destroyed souls and families.

If you have children, I hope they are safe and warm someplace. And I hope, no pray, no there is no word for what I am doing tonight…I am asking the Almighty to protect my beautiful children.  I am bargaining. I will never ask for anything except the grace to see my children grow up in safety.

G.

 

 

 

I WANT MY BATHROOMS BACK!

I know there are much bigger news stories at the moment but this has been bugging me. 

I get the intent about gender- unbiased bathrooms but while clever corporate MBAs, lawyers and COOs were figuring out that changing signs cost less than building new bathrooms or remodeling existing ones to squeeze in a new space, my rights were violated. And I know it isn’t PC to complain about this but I call them like I see them especially after I dragged my wobbly, elderly father out for a night on the town- Mexican food and home to have the lights out by 8. You can imagine the bathroom issue was a little confusing to explain. He didn’t know which one to use—not enough choices. And yes I digress, as my good friend John would say, because this isn’t about politics or being a consumer advocate; the supposed focus of my blog. 

But in a way it still is. I eat out a lot. I work at home with my husband and we need breaks.  Eating out while running corporate errands, is sometimes deductible and always cheaper than renting office space.  So yes, I use public restrooms- a consumer service. 

So anyway, in a rush to be ahead of the ball, sorry no pun intended, somebody forgot about my right to privacy. I do not like sharing public bathrooms with men.  Yuck!  I will spare you the details.  And I know women are no saints either but there is a difference. 

I feel like Erica Jong who wrote a chapter on the idiosyncrasies of international toilets. After having marveled at the self-cleaning toilets in the sparkling Hong Kong airport and freaking out about the hole in the floor with the two painted feet at Club Med in Korfu, I am somewhat knowledgeable in this area too. In fact I think it’s clearly a better way to measure civility, travelability ( yes I made that up) and hell GNP. It’s true people.  You CAN judge a nation by its plumbing—but not people by their’s. 

I don’t care if women who are changing into women want to use the same potty space, different stall please, but guys who think they’re still guys, could you go back to the old way? I live in fear that the next time I duck into Starbucks and I don’t know if the lock works well,  that some guy is going to accidentally push open the unisex door. (If you have dealt with man spread in public, you know men tend to be a little more aggressive about things, including apparently knocking first on a closed door as opposed to brutely pushing it in ). Hey I know it’s sexist that I don’t care as much if it’s a pushy or desperate woman, even if  that’s embarrassing anyway. If it’s a strange guy I would be mortified until my dying day.

In the world of public restrooms sometimes there are family bathrooms and that’s a cool invention, although my kids are grown and the only way I will personally benefit is I ever have grandkids. Human ones, because I don’t take the grand-bunny shopping at Macys. But I don’t begrudge families that improvement. 

I agree that we shouldn’t worry about people transitioning and which bathroom they use in public in general. I would however be uncomfortable if I was a middle school girl asked to share my locker room with a boy who is contemplating changing his sex or is it gender?

I’m so confused. When did this get to be such an issue? I mean people had this angst when I was coming of age right? What did they do then??? Read that with empathy because I really do wonder how they managed.  

Then there’s the norms in TV land. Where do the firemen and women change in Chicago Fire because it looks like they share a locker room and that freaks me out? It literally gives me anxiety. 

Also, why was there an eight -year -old boy running around the ladies room  yesterday in that aforementioned Mexican restaurant? You know men designed ladies rooms, halfheartedly and without much consideration. We don’t have urinals next to each but there are always huge gaps in door jamb hinges in public women’s bathrooms and I’ve never understood it. They couldn’t make the stall doors and the frames FLUSH? ( You can laugh now). At some point young boys do not belong in the ladies room. Eegads! I want a little privacy please. 

Digressing again, I must share that my daughter laboriously wrote out a whole chart for me about genders, binary and sex and I really am mystified. She said people needed it spelled out so they could identify and be identified correctly. Now I am even more mystified. Honestly I don’t care if people are bi gendered fluid whatever. Just be neat, clean, honest, fair; the things that matter. Have a good solid handshake and wash those hands in whatever public restroom you use. What you do in your bedroom or your own bathroom with whomever you choose is your business as long as it is between consenting adults who understand that chart a whole lot better than me. 

So I ask you, if people don’t want to be boxed in why are they putting themselves in boxes? 

 Maybe we just need a ton of partitions everywhere. It’s kind of like our all-encompassing use of social media, unrestricted and unfiltered. How can we be our best selves in public if we don’t have a little private space sometimes? Oh yes, that is definitely a metaphor. So happy public rest-rooming! May yours be single sex, er… gender, uh ….clean. 

FANCY FOOTWORK VS. FOOTNOTES

 

The political warmongering will be heating up soon and frankly there is a lot at stake. I see 2020 as a battle between the survival of our democracy and an autocratic wanna-be dictator but then that’s just me….(or maybe not).

As we file in to the ring to watch these gladiators duke it out for the next 20+ months, I am making my request known.

This is what I want from EVERY candidate:

FOOTNOTES

I don’t care if they publish them in a written version of the speech concurrently, text them out to attendees, show them on a webpage or run them on a video screen in the back of their podium while they give a speech.

EVERY TIME A POLITICAL CANDIDATE OR OFFICE HOLDER QUOTES NUMBERS, STATISTICS, OR ANY FACTS AT ALL, I WANT TO SEE OBJECTIVE, UNADULTERATED, UNBIASED FOOTNOTES CONCURRENTLY WHILE I AM WATCHING AND REACTING TO THE SPEECH.

I want to know who said what when. Who produced the study? What were the prerequisites? What exactly is “a lot?” Who exactly are the “people who say”? What makes up the demographic tested or polled? What was the purpose of the study? Did it prove its objectives? Was the methodology standard?

In essence each thesis is supposed to be built by the scientific method. The evidence should be organized and every statement should be referenced to or supported by a published work. Every statement should be correct and easily defended logically with facts.

I resent the manipulation and propaganda spewed forth daily by the current occupant of the White House and he owes me, nay all of us, at least the consideration of proof of his “facts.” I don’t want to read a summary two weeks after the speech. If the speaker can’t prove the facts, he shouldn’t be allowed to say them. It’s intellectually lazy and contemptible to constantly muscle in on veracity and squelch it into subordination.

The unprecedented lying in the Oval Office is clearly emotional abuse. That’s right, we are being emotionally abused by the guy at the top.  I can only imagine what he did to his wives and children. Every day he tries to rule by tweets, giving in to his impetuous snarkiness, while literally influencing the lives of over 300 million people in this country alone. WHAT IS WRONG WITH US that we allow him to continue his assault on facts? And he is not alone, clearly, as we can see what happens when other politicians debate or hold a public hearing.

Tump’s fancy footwork dancing around lies and half-truths doesn’t make him intelligent or me gullible. I, as many other Americans, literally hunger for the truth. And I don’t think I can hang on for another two years while he and his cohorts strangle the truth at every turn. Is there nothing more precious, flaws and all, than the beauty of knowing the reality of an event? We are free to make our own opinions and vote on policy, but we are never liberated if all of our decisions are based on fraud.

So that’s my request. I want citations and documentation. I want journalists to hash out the studies and confirm that they are valid.  If our high school English teacher insisted on accurate footnotes and annotated bibliographies, why would we expect anything less of our political candidates and oh yeah, the guy with the bad haircut in the Oval Office?

 

 

WTF? LEAVE PLANNED PARENTHOOD ALONE

I didn’t “de-virginize” at 16. I waited a while and explored the world. I got a degree, worked in my chosen field and traveled solo. I had my own apartment that I paid for. I bought my own car and I paid for my own health insurance. I went out after work almost every night. I had a roaring good time throughout my twenties but I was responsible.

I dated my now husband for five years or so before we got married. Today we’ve been together for the better part of thirty years and oh yeah we had our wanted kids a respectable two years after we were married. I’ve had no unwanted pregnancies. I’ve had no abortions. I had health care and have always gone to the doctor and respected my body. I am, in short, “a woman of merit” in the eyes of the freaks who seek to control women’s bodily functions through propaganda and politics.

And I– wait for it– went to–hold your fire, PLANNED PARENTHOOD willingly and on more than one occasion. I went to get information on contraceptives because I didn’t want to be forced by circumstances into a marriage I didn’t want or wasn’t ready for.  I went because going out and having fun, and growing up was a lot more important than being someone’s mother at the time. I went because I wanted to control my reproductive health. I went because it was a welcoming, educational and supportive environment to get information about my own body. MY BODY. Not yours and equally not that of some old grey-haired jerk of a congressman who thought he knew more about my vagina than me.

I remember trying to learn how to use a diaphragm and how the nurse and I cracked up when it flew across the room.  I wasn’t embarrassed. She was more like a big sister who put me at ease and waited patiently for me to master the skill. I remember seeing a short film and then watching as another bona fide nurse showed me and a group of young women how the then-available barrier methods worked on a plastic medical model of the female reproductive organs. It was a much better lesson than what I learned in the mandated public school sex ed class and certainly more informative than anything my mother could have taught me. At the time, I didn’t want to take birth control pills so I was happy to get more knowledge about my chosen method. I couldn’t get that in school. There was no internet at the time.  A book wasn’t quite as helpful as a nurse and a plastic model. And the HMO wouldn’t have given me the time or the personal attention I needed to make that decision.

I didn’t feel judged. No one cared if I was married yet and no one asked. No one queried me as to if I had considered abstention. I was a perfectly normal young woman in a perfectly normal relationship that wanted some perfectly normal information about my own body.

WHY WAS THAT ANYONE’S BUSINESS BUT MY OWN?

Today I have two lovely daughters. One is working hard on her career, having graduated from UCLA over a year ago. The other is a sophomore in another great college. We have maintained open communication about this facet of their lives. I know more about them than my mother knew about me. (Sometimes it’s too much to be truthful). I told them about Planned Parenthood and how helpful I found it. They use the HMO but they at least know that there’s another option out there if they want or need other services. They take responsibility for their lives, all aspects of it, and they don’t need some grey-haired geezer of a congressman to make decisions about their vaginas either.

Planned Parenthood, a non-profit organization, provides education and services including birth control, STD testing, well-woman exams, cancer screening and prevention, abortion, hormone therapy, infertility services, and general health care. In short, it’s a clinic for women who need medical attention.

It is 2019 and it seems like it is 1719 when it comes to the patriarchy still trying to control women. Give it up boys.  Frankly they can take their misplaced anti-female religious conservatism, their homophobia, their male–dominating power lust and their all-encompassing misogyny and …….

I wish the rest of us had a barrier method against them.

 

 

LIFE’S GOOD. WAIT, NO IT’S NOT.

My LG washing machine went on the fritz two days ago and for a germophobe like me who can’t leave the house if there’s a pile of dirty laundry, that’s a major household event.

So I called the Geek Squad at Best Buy, where I bought the LG/ HE washing machine and as it’s six years old, they routed my phone call to the Philippines Out- of -Warranty Department to set an appointment for a tech to come out on Wednesday. It took a lonnngggg time to get routed correctly and set the appointment.

AND they insisted on charging me $125 over the phone for the labor /service charge. I thought this was a little unusual but they assured it wouldn’t be charged until after the appointment, which of course didn’t happen as it showed up on my bank credit card account this morning before I ever saw the tech. Wow I wish I could charge $125 just for driving out to your house and telling you about my services.

Now the repairman was nice, clean and considerate and changed out the water pump relatively quickly. But I signed the phone receipt without seeing the invoice because it was emailed to me. I was told the repair was $103 for the water pump that I took to mean the price of the new pump.

When I got the invoice I was livid. The pump was $34 and the labor to install it was ANOTHER $65. The tech was here for just shy of an hour. I called the corporate “Customer Service” phone number on the invoice and was told that I got off cheaply as labor runs $65 per fifteen minutes to a total of $175! This was in addition to the $125. So the tech who came out charged $190 to change out a $34 part and had he stayed a bit longer, my labor charge would have been $300 THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS to potentially replace a $34 part.

I’ve gone to doctors who don’t charge me $190-$300 an hour to tell me what’s wrong with me.  I think this is outrageous. It doesn’t cost $125 for a tech to drive to my house and run a computer diagnostic on a washing machine. There are smart-phone apps that you can download to do this now. I complained to LG Customer Service and I’m sending them a copy of this blog.  They simply do not care about their customers.

I am a supporter of Capitalism. But I am a supporter of fair charges too. I don’t rip off my clients. Stupid me. I expect the same treatment. So remember to think about the repair price of the exotic items you purchase in the future….like washing machines. And ask for the ten-year warranty….  (That’s a joke. Just making sure you knew that).

On the Gayle Scale of 1-10 with 10 being OUTSTANDING, LG rates a 9 for their repairman’s abiltiy to diagnose and fix the problem BUT LG gets a dismal 1 for their charging policy and “customer service.”

 

TRUMPZYMANDIAS

With apologies to Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a Republican from Washington D.C.

Who said: The wall will keep out the rapists.

The parents and the children; Not innocent. Not worthy.

But I say:

The Real Estate King number 45

With cold command and ridiculous pride

Will tell his sculptor to build his name

At the top of the wall, while he plays this game

And rapes the employees of the Federal Tribe

Who are really just trying to stay alive.

And at the base, these words could appear:

My name is Trumpzymandias, king of kings.

Look on my works, ye Americans and despair.

Nothing will remain. The decay of our democracy

Will stretch far away.

Unless we encircle him with his very own wall

Of his lies and deceit and make that call.

The words that should appear are; traitor

Russian-owned Alt- Right agitator.

We Are the UNITED States of America. Remember?

Every morning when we wake up, my husband and I turn on the television to see what new national calamity has befallen our political climate.

I cannot take it anymore.

I cannot last three more years.

I cannot help but resent the divisiveness and the name-calling.

I have a right to live in a country where people agree to disagree politely, without threatening harm to, disrespecting or belittling the opposition. I am afraid this starts at the top. Mr. President, are you listening? You need to cool your jets and get it together. And the news show interviewees, who represent the president, are frankly rude as hell on TV. They may think they’re selling the president’s position, but the only thing I see is a panel of obnoxious people talking over each other. That’s neither an interview nor a discussion.

Remember, we are the UNITED States of America.

We are ALL Americans. We come from different backgrounds, religions and political parties. The point of our elaborate government is to ensure freedom and democracy for all, not the existence of an oligarchy that flexes its political power through a financial, or physical stranglehold on the people. We don’t exist in servitude to those who harbor more green pieces of paper. And yet in truth, the very act of having opposition is exactly what MAKES us Americans. The opposition has the RIGHT to oppose us, respectfully, legally and safely, without verbal or physical abuse. No one is supposed to be threatened for expressing his or her views.

THAT’S what makes us special.

To me, THAT CONCEPT is the American dream. Moving up the social ladder, buying a home, educating one’s children and starting a business are all important of course, but these goals start with the ability to speak up safely and engage in public discourse in our American society without reprisal.

I can post on social media that I disagree with the “Right to Life” movement and that I don’t think there should be prayer in public school. I have the promise that I can express myself without retribution.   I should not be belittled or blocked from a Facebook group for expressing an unpopular point of view. Likewise, I should keep it civil when for instance I am discussing the president, reproductive rights or my reaction to the Republican stance on immigration.

Yes I’m guilty of calling the head guy an asshat on Facebook…repeatedly. I apologize and will refrain from it in the future. I am not apologizing because he is the president. I am apologizing because although it felt good to vent, it did nothing to help the circumstances and it was disrespectful to my fellow Americans, Mr. Trump included.

This continued animosity in our society that plays out everyday on the television and in the newspapers is criminal. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much anger in this country. It is debilitating. It is exhausting to listen to every single day. And it is absolutely threatening to our democracy.

Propaganda is used against us by our fellow Americans every day. We are being manipulated. It has become such a constant that we are now literally ripe for a fascist coup.

Granted, I have my share of frustration with the current administration too. But, we must stop villainizing our opposition and start remembering that we are Americans first and Democrats or Republicans second. Finding common ground is important. Being inclusive is important. Remembering the words on the base of the Statue of Liberty is important. Those words stand for something that is uniquely American.

All of the energy we are using to trash the opposition should be used to try to find some common ground. What are the REAL objectives of the political parties? Can they just lay it out there, once and for all in the open?

Do Republicans really feel this country only exists for rich, white men and the rest of us should do their bidding? Do they think that every American should be Christian and that the bible should supersede the Constitution? That’s what it looks like. If they want to rein that in a little, perhaps they need to work on it.

Do Democrats really believe that social programs do not need to be audited? Do they understand that a budget needs to be restrained even when there are lofty goals to help the underprivileged? Do they think that immigration is a right or a privilege?

I feel like Congress is comprised of High School wrestling teams that forgot the rules of engagement. The point is to win your match, not to destroy the other team. If you destroy the other team, you destroy democracy, the pillar of the American dream.

Assuming the president is of sound mind and that he has some heartfelt ideology, I would implore him to print out his current mission statement. I wouldn’t mind seeing that from the two major political parties either. I do not like this waffling. I don’t appreciate the constant name-calling and the fear mongering. I don’t like feeling that Congress, and frankly the President, are operating at middle-school level.

I wish we could get an arbitrator to work with the Senate and the House to teach them team-building exercises. They need to actively listen to the objectives and motivation of each side WITHOUT talking back, if only for one day. Is there a Social Psychologist out there up for this task? We could start a go- fund -me to send them to the hill…

Perhaps we need to really understand those mission statements before we slug out the details. It’s time for Congress to take in the mats and go back to the training room. They need more coaching.

ABORTION IS ON THE TABLE AGAIN? #PolitePenises

With the advent of Trump’s presidency looming, women’s reproductive rights are once again being threatened by a potential new regime of Supreme Court appointees. I am tired of seeing citizens and statesmen debate abortions and reproduction rights again, when there are really simple answers to this challenge, so I am going to be proactive. This should never be a political debate.

There is no debate.

I own my vagina. I own my uterus. You own your penis. Men, keep it to yourself unless it is invited to visit, and there should be no problems. I have a way to save money, time and incessant chatter about what people do with their own bodies. Here is a solution once and for all.

Sex and reproduction come with certain societal responsibilities due to the financial constraints of potentially creating a new life and/or the psychological possibilities of destroying an existing life; that is the woman who is here and already living for those of you who don’t get it. Thus, since the anti-reproductive rights bastion has once again inserted itself into strangers’ lives, let us prevent expensive and lengthy court cases and psychological treatment and simply sign contracts before having sex…every time.

I propose a signed, licensed agreement every time a man has a consensual or non-consensual sexual act with a woman.  For consensual sex, he either signs a contract that he will use a condom or he certifies that he has had a vasectomy. Then he must sign off that he has visually observed his female partner utilize her birth control including confirming that she took her pill or that she inserted her diaphragm, etc. prior to the sexual act. There also needs to be a witness over 18 who signs an application every time someone wants to have a sexual act, even within a marriage.  (Look I just created new jobs too! Note the witness is for the application only).

In the cases of rape or incest the man needs to sign a contract stating that he knows that the act is illegal, that he is using a condom so the victim will not get a disease, that his wages will be garnished by the government indefinitely to pay for psychological therapy for the victim, her legal fees to prosecute him and all of her related medical fees. Further, he understands he will have his testicles and penis cut off and dried and that he will be required to wear them around his neck in a small plastic jar for the rest of his life. The Scarlett Letter has been changed to R.

Should my fellow citizens and congressional representatives also insist on an anti-abortion clause, the perpetrator must sign a contract that he will pay for every financial need of the child and mother in perpetuity, even if the child is adopted out to another family. (This will encourage more adoptions too if we can make it financially easier for a family to provide a home for a child).

Presently I have a team of engineers working on a Sexual Act Remote Registry. (I have hired on-shore Americans because I am trying to do my part to keep jobs here). Each contract much be scanned into the National Registry and approved prior to each consensual or non-consensual act. This way we will spend far less money and time in courts if everyone’s responsibility is clearly spelled out prior to consummating each sexual act. Should a rapist fill out the contract prior to attempting rape, the police will be alerted immediately to save the potential victim prior to the approval. The potential perpetrator who signs his intention to commit a crime will still receive a dried version of his penis and testicles for the jar on his neck…

One call does it all. Or click.

Get Uncle Sam’s arm out of my vagina. I appreciate the passion of the religious anti-abortion right, but yours is not the only passion, religion or set of beliefs in these United States, the land of the free.

My autonomy over my heart, liver and uterus trump your religious beliefs every time. I own my vagina.

To the real men out there in anti-reproductive rights land, you should spend more time and attention educating other people with penises to stop inserting them violently into women they grab on the street or their own nine -year-old daughters. You anti-reproductive rights supporters have completely missed the point.

Men are responsible for the pregnancies.

They are the ones who pushed their way into a vagina. You don’t like graphic? Well you throw it around all the time with baby killer pictures. You need to spend your time and resources teaching men to be Polite Penis Pushers. If a woman says “no” simply stop pushing your penis where it doesn’t belong. If you are trying to rape a woman, kindly take your hand off her mouth first so you can hear her saying “no.” And just let’s assume your nine- year- old daughter doesn’t really want or need to be introduced to the sex act by you, her father, or stepfather, uncle, brother, cousin or any male member of her family friends or circle of acquaintances.

In the event a woman used birth control and still got pregnant or she had a test result that showed that the fetus was at risk for any significant medical problem, or she simply doesn’t want to be pregnant for whatever reason SHE wants, the woman has the right to terminate the pregnancy. End of story. You do realize what it takes to bring a fetus to full term right? Well having had two successful pregnancies myself, I am certainly more qualified to speak on this subject than any male anti-women’s reproductive rights supporter out there so listen up. It is a huge responsibility to eat right, exercise, and curtail threatening activities, etc. in order to bring a wanted fetus to full term. If someone wants an abortion and you stand in their way, how are they going to bring a healthy life into the world anyway? Oh I guess you are planning to lock the woman up in a breeding house until she gives birth?

The truth is that no one can make any decision about any other woman’s reproductive rights except their own. The right-wing extremists have to understand one thing. You do not have the right to push your religious beliefs on anyone else. If you do not want an abortion, do not have one.

I think abortion is a terrible thing. I do not know that I could have had one under most circumstances. But I believe it is a personal choice.

I can support that choice without condoning abortions and therein lies the solution to this haunting religiously- based controversy that needs to end.

You, anti- reproductive freedom people are wasting time money and resources with something that shouldn’t be political sport to engage voters and get votes. It is not your business how each woman and her family deal with an unwanted pregnancy. It is not your privilege in life to make a rape or incest victim deal with a lifetime of pain based on your religious values. If you believe in God, then I am pretty sure that God can deal with the issue with each individual woman and her family, without you interfering.

So where do we go from here?

First if you are totally sold on still encouraging anti-reproductive rights legislature, I implore you to adopt a child. As I understand it older children, children with disabilities and bi-racial children are the hardest ones to find homes for, so why don’t you start there. You can also help bring down the cost of college, and raising a child and I may join you.

Then, let’s enhance our sexual education programs, teach abstinence and self-control but realistically teach it along with birth control. Let’s keep birth control affordable. Let’s teach more life-skill courses where teenagers spend a week caring for those cute, yet annoying baby dolls that give young people a real sense of the immensity of being a parent.

Then let’s encourage people across the nation, especially teenagers, to volunteer at rape crisis centers and orphanages. Let’s spend money on counseling and guidance and mental health to avoid rapes and incest in the first place. Most importantly, let us review our acceptance of  “sex sells” marketing, inappropriate presidential communication and the general rape culture and teach men to respect and cherish women.

It is frankly unbelievable to me that we are dealing with this yet again. We have more important and pressing issues to deal with like Climate Change and those natural resources that we are destroying at a rapid rate. You know keep it up and we won’t have a planet to sustain life anyway, so this will all be moot.

In conclusion, dear anti-reproductive rights supporters, your hands do not belong in anyone’s vagina other than your own and that of your wife’s, if and only if she consents and you sign the aforementioned contract.

And finally, to my fellow citizens everywhere, let us remember that you own your penises and I am pretty certain that I own my vagina.