Monday, October 16, 2017

#MeToo

My whole life my mother would make me repeat after her, "All men are pigs". If I tried to make excuses like, "But, what about Daddy?" She would abruptly cut me off, "ALL. Men. Are. Pigs". It honestly scared the crap out of me, but I think it was her way of preparing me. Her mantra made me fearful of men, but also made it so that when I heard things like:

"You don't look twelve, you seem so much more mature."

Or

"Old enough to bleed, old enough to breed."

it didn't surprise me. I already had this thin layer of armor thanks to my mother's words, but also an understanding that this was just the way things were and they couldn't be changed. All men are pigs, accept it, move on.

As I got older, the focus shifted to teaching me how to be thoroughly unrapeable.

Don't wear revealing clothes.
Don't walk alone at night.
Don't drink too much.
Don't talk to strangers.

The responsibility fell on me to ensure that men didn't have the opportunity to assault me. In spite of all these lessons, I can still say "Me too."

The verbal assaults weren't a shock (Thanks Mom!), but the guy who groped me at a concert and the man who started masturbating in front of me in public, those were.

I've had a man at work try to talk to me about my underwear, I've been denied a job because I am female and might "get pregnant one day and have to miss work", I had wedding vendors who would only speak to my husband because he is a man.

And the worst that was done to me, was not some stranger in a dark alley, it was a person I should have been able to trust. Because, "You can't be raped if it's your boyfriend, right?" NEWS FLASH: Yes, you can. I didn't understand until much later that I had even been assaulted.

I was drunk and with someone who should have protected me and instead he did something I did not consent to and would not have consented to. It was confusing and hurtful, I didn't understand what had happened to me. To make it worse, I stayed with him after that, because...well, all men are pigs. What did I expect?

I just want to go back in time to punch myself in the face and then give me a great big hug. What happened was not okay, but I did not have a clear picture of what consent and assault even looked like. It took years for me to learn that what happened was wrong.

It's frustrating because we can be better, we can all be better. It shouldn't take men and women putting their harassment and assaults on display for the public to acknowledge that this is an issue, but here we are.

How do we teach men and women to be just be good people? How do I teach my daughter about safety and consent without putting the full burden on her shoulders and none on the rest of the world?

The conversation has started and awareness is raised, how do we build off of this momentum? It's exhausting, but feels more urgent and necessary than ever before.

So, I add my #MeToo not to jump on the bandwagon, but to aide that conversation. And also to speak for those who feel like they can't. You are all brave, you are here, you are loved, and it was not your fault. Me too, me too, me too.

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Friday, October 6, 2017

My Review of the Spider-Man 1000 Dot-to-Dot Book

I got a chance to play with this Dot-to-Dot book for Idle Hand's 2017 Holiday Geek Book!

Check it out here:
https://idlehands1.blogspot.com/2017/10/2017-holiday-geekbook-marvel-spider-man.html?m=1

More to come!

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Why Every Belle Should Date a Gaston

Why Every Belle Should Date a Gaston (Just Once)


As a child of the 90’s and the mother of a 3-year old, Disney princess movies are just part of the fabric of life. Thanks to the recent reboot staring Emma Watson, it’s safe to say that Beauty and the Beast is the hands down favorite right now in my household. To prime my daughter for the live-action version, we watched the classic cartoon before heading out to the local theater to experience it together.

Old is made new again, a tale as old as time.

After viewing both versions, I was left with a lot of thoughts and questions, such as:
  • Why didn’t Chip get older?
  • Was everyone enchanted, including the town?
  • How was Maurice making money? (What are music boxes going for these days?)
  • Is every inch of Gaston REALLY covered in hair?

All of that aside, my biggest thought was about how ill-prepared Belle seemed for a real love relationship. She went from the shelter of her eccentric father to the sanctuary of the Beast and his castle. It was all very transactionary even if the situation was voluntary to a degree on her part. She has not dated anyone, gone anywhere, or really had a chance to do anything out there in the world. So, how could she possibly know what she wants?

This is why I think Belle should have dated someone like Gaston while she was young. I know this might sound crazy, especially if you’re a huge fan of the Beast-man, but hear me out.


Not only does he bring flowers, but he can get the entire pub to sing with him.

Just Try It

I believe every young woman should date at least one Gaston before they settle into their lives. The key is not to stay with a Gaston forever, you’re just dipping a toe into the waters of bad-boy-land. You never know, you might even like it a little.

You never know...

Learn About Yourself

Sure, dating a hot jerk can be a drain, but the Gastons of the world teach us Belles about who we are and what we really want. Being with a Gaston can tear you down, but can also give you the strength to stand up for yourself once you realize, “Yeah, nope, this is not for me”. They can give you a clearer picture of what you are actually looking for.

Not a bad detour really

Let Me Feel Your Arms

The Gastons of the world are hot; face it, they didn’t catch this attitude from being ugly.
 
This is what all those eggs can get you.

They Are Easy to Leave


The rest of the nosey little village might not agree that you are compatible and, guess what?? You’re not! And you know that. So, you can leave a Gaston without feeling too terrible by the end of it. It’s easier to resolve it all in your head and heart because you never really saw a future in the first place. So what if those townsfolk sing about you your behind your back? You are an independent female just living her damn life.

When he hogs the bathroom getting pretty every morning, it can get old.


The Gastons of the world prepare you for the real thing.

I look back on the ruins that line the path of what was once my dating life and it makes me appreciate what I have so much more. Belle never fell in with a hot jerk and without that experience, I just can’t believe that she truly understands how special the Beast really is…I understand that he is an enchanted man-beast with talking furniture, I mean special in other ways.

I would not be who I am if it weren’t for the Gastons that the universe tossed my way. I spent time hating them all to a certain degree, but now I am grateful for the experiences and the adventures that led me to right here, right now. I only want the same for my girl Belle. I get that the Beast is a total jackpot, but live a little while you’re young girl. Go date Gaston, break some hearts, and (when you’re ready) meet your Beast. I’m also working under the assumption that you will need to go furniture shopping as well since everything you used to sit on at the castle will come back to life. And we all know trips to Ikea are for real relationships, not for Gastons.

Get it girl

#Belle #Beast #Gaston #Disney #BadRelationshipAdvice #BeautyandtheBeast
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Friday, March 17, 2017

Of love and bedbugs (Or how we moved in together)


I'm opening with a bug, so you know this one is special and heartwarming.

Allow me to take you back to early months of the Mister and I dating. You know how it is, you want to spend as much time together as possible, you make out until you feel dizzy, everything is AWESOME. We had even started to toy around with the idea of us moving in together once his lease was up, things were going so well and I was stuck back at my parents after I had relocated to back to the great Garden State. It was all starting to make a lot of sense.

Then he gets a voicemail from his roommate during a meeting at work:
Hey, what’s up man?
I just called to tell you that the house is on fire
*pause*
Call me back!

Side story: the Mister’s job didn’t want to let him leave because, he “wasn’t on fire”, but I told him to say screw it and leave because if he didn’t claim what he could now, it would be lost to the insurance company or looters. I was happy when he eventually left that job, so, so happy.

Anyway, the third floor apartment was empty at the time; something caught fire up there and destroyed most of the backside of the building. He lived with two of his friends at the time and none of them even knew what renter’s insurance is. If you don’t know and you rent, look it up because you NEED it. If you have renter’s insurance they will reimburse you for so much of your lost property and put you up in a hotel room. If you don’t have it, you are shit out of luck and the only thing you’re getting back is your initial deposit on the apartment.

It was exactly like this, only a 3-family in Bayonne
The Mister’s family offered to let him move in and pay rent to stay on the couch, but my parents were like, “What? No way! He can stay here for free while he gets back on his feet”. So, our plan to move in together was accelerated and now in less than ideal conditions while we waited for his security deposit to come back to him.

And we waited….and waited. And during that time, my brother showed up at my parents' door with his baby and his girlfriend. So, my parents' tiny cape cod was feeling tight, tensions began to run a little high, and my niece had colic (no one slept, NO ONE). It was at this moment that my mom became a little grumpy about me planning to move in with a guy without being engaged, but this was my second time cohabitating, so I’m not sure where this sudden hang up came from. I suspect she was just trying hurry things along because engagement = one step closer to grandbabies. (She got over it).

Finally, the landlord had to be taken to court to get the deposit back. They were contacted by Judge Freaking Judy to be on the show, which sounded amazing until they discovered their scummy landlord would be compensated for appearing whether he won or lost, so that idea lost its shine pretty quick. The regular judge (who was not of the TV show variety), found in their favor and lectured the landlord on how ridiculous it was to make people who lost their home in a fire to wait like that. Victory was secured.

Right around this time, I found my way into a better job and was accepted to graduate school, we also had someone who wanted to be our roommate. With that, we were off and hunting for our new home. Looking back, I think we were so eager to get out of my parent’s house that we jumped on a place that was simply too good to be true, and if it looks that way it probably is. 


The house was close to the train station, had off street parking, a nice yard, and a really great layout. It was immediately decided that our roommate would take the two small rooms upstairs, one for sleeping and one as a closet (a dream, right?) and we would get the downstairs suite with its own bathroom. The landlord seemed very eager to rent to us and took us straight to his wife at her real estate office. It turned out that his wife, in spite of somehow passing the real estate exam, had no clue how to do the paperwork. She shrugged and got flustered until she asked someone else to do it. This other person demanded a cut of the commission for her time, we started to get uncomfortable with the tension, but eventually paperwork was signed and we were told to move right in.

It was exciting, going to Ikea and getting lost in their showrooms while imagining how to make the most of our brand new home.  Some people dislike going to Ikea, we were not those people. We set up all of the new furniture, unpacked our things, and began cooking meals together. Things were finally settling down for all of us.

Take me away to the land of closet organizers and meatballs
Our roommate was frequently staying at her boyfriend’s house, but one night they slept at our place and I received a text while at work the next day. “I think we have bedbugs”.  My heart sank, my blood pressure raised, my eyes started darting around while I thought of all of the reasons she could be wrong. I asked if she was sure, which was answered with photos of the telltale arc of bites across her arms and legs. I was still in denial, “Maybe it’s a spider?” I asked wistfully. But, no, my roommate and her boyfriend had actually seen and captured one in a Ziploc bag. Google Images confirmed the worst; somehow our single family home in the suburbs had bedbugs.

The bedbugs appeared to be concentrated upstairs; our downstairs master suite was a recent addition and did not seem to have them…yet. However, we knew how this worked, everyone has friends in the city and knows how fast they can become a problem. We were screwed.

What did we do next? Panic, naturally. When we were done with that, we called our landlord who was no help and tried to deny that the place had bedbugs. He even suggested that maybe we brought them in. I was so insulted, that I threw out some of his stuff from the garage, just because I could. (Take that Manoj!) Our next step was to bring in an exterminator whose recommendation was to “just burn the place down, but I can try to treat it if you insist”. We begged him to try and told the landlord that if he did not pay for the treatment we would take it out of the rent.

With that settled, we had to pay to have our clothes professionally cleaned at high heat. Furniture was tossed. Belongings that would withstand the heat were placed in industrial black plastic bags and sealed before baking on the blacktop of our driveway. Meanwhile, we’re all working our full-time jobs and trying not to fall to pieces. It was stress like I had never experienced before in my life. I thought living with family was bad, but this was a true test of our sanity.

We stayed away during the treatment, returned, and immediately discovered…they were still there. The treatment had killed a whole host of other types of bugs: ants, termites, and centipedes. But the bedbugs seemed overall unbothered by the situation. For the second time, the exterminator came in to treat, but as we were preparing to throw out even more of our belongings, I lost it.

I sat on our bed and cried; that hysterical, shaking, snot-inducing kind of sobbing that comes from when you’ve been trying to hold it together for too long. My boyfriend held me in his arms and asked me what I wanted and I whimpered that I wanted to leave. I didn’t want to do this anymore, we weren’t winning this fight. We talked to our roommate and we were all in agreement, it was time to throw everything out and find a new start at another place.

Our landlord at first refused to allow us to break our lease, but I had already called the department of health and had contacted a lawyer. I never even put him on retainer, just providing his name and contact information to our landlord was enough to have him shaking. Suddenly, he was "happy to see us leave" since he wanted to sell the place because he didn't like being a landlord. I got him to agree in writing to return our deposit, plus compensate us for the loss of brand new beds and the cost of breaking our contract with Verizon. I was anxious to get out of there before he changed his mind and I couldn't imagine that this place would ever pass a home inspection, but that was not my problem.

Sign here you son of a bitch
The day he signed the agreement to release us from the contract, he had two other people coming to look at the place. One of them was a young guy, but the other was a recent widow with her son whose husband had left everything to his brother and she had no money to start a new life with; otherwise, she said she would be looking to buy not rent. It was killing me that I couldn’t warn these people away, I wanted out and I wanted my money back, but I couldn’t tell them about the bedbugs. Instead, I said every other negative thing I could think of except for that. Thankfully, the young guy thought the place was too expensive and, like a miracle from heaven, the widow received a call from her brother-in-law that he was releasing all of the funds to her and that she could purchase a condo instead of renting. It was like my own personal friggin’ Hallmark movie moment.

All of this put the landlord into foul mood and he began carrying on about how we have to pay the water bill for the 4 weeks we lived there and he and the Mister started getting louder and louder with each other. Suddenly, I snapped and dropped into my “mommy voice” for the very first time in my life. “Both of you just stop! You stop right now, this is ridiculous! Write the check and GET OUT”, and so, he did.

Mom voice = effective
The 3 of us did find another place, a condo this time, but there was a 2 week gap in which all of our things went into storage and we found ourselves back at my parent’s house…with my parents, and my bother, and his girlfriend, and his baby. When we finally moved into the new place we were quietly terrified. Everything had been treated or replaced, but still we held our breath for about 6 months, just waiting to see if any of us would wake up with a row of bite marks. Fortunately, that day never came.

I learned a lot of things during our ordeal. I learned that bedbugs are total assholes and for many reasons. Not only are they hard to kill, but their mating process is a nightmare, they literally stab into the abdomen of the female for seemingly no good reason just to reproduce. And if a male decides to get frisky with what actually turns out to be another male, they sex-stab them to death. Total assholes. I also learned that they are near impossible to completely get rid of, the exterminator was not kidding, with a case as bad as ours, just burn the building down.

But the biggest thing I learned was the depth of my love for my boyfriend, he was rock-solid the entire time, he was everything I needed when the world was falling apart left and right, and helped me put it all back together again. I realized that if we could survive a fire, living at my parent’s house, and bedbugs we could get through anything together. This is mate-for-life material, this is the type of guy you marry, this is what they mean when they talk about “the one”. It’s not grand gestures or gifts or promises, I mean those are nice, but what counts…what truly matters is what they do. When I really needed him and when he really needed me, we showed up for each other in every possible way. I felt locked to him in a way I never felt about anyone before and I knew that we were a done deal.

It wasn’t easy, this whole period in our lives was exhausting and expensive, but we came out okay. I don’t recommend this process as a test of your relationship, but I think you can look other types of difficult situations and watch how your significant other reacts to stress. It can tell you more than card or a poem, it can tell you if they’ll support you and try their hardest not to let you down. It can also tell you if you’re willing to do the same for them. I’m sure I would have come to the same conclusion about the Mister and I through the natural course of our relationship, but damn does than man hold up under real pressure.

Funny sidebar: my roommate was equally supported by her boyfriend throughout this entire ordeal. A year later, they moved in together and are now married. Thank you, bedbugs.


 #Love #Bedbugs #Landlords #Renting #Relationships

All images via Pixabay
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Friday, January 6, 2017

Sometimes Life Gets in the Way

I’m not going to apologize for how little I have written lately because I’m sure you are hearing the same excuses everywhere.

“Things were just so crazy over the holidays!”
“Work has been so busy!”
“Everyone in our house got sick!”

And, honestly, as real as these statements are, I kind of hate it. I like writing; I would even go out on a limb and say I’m moving beyond the “like” stage toward “love”. Writing has become my only creative outlet these days, so to not find the time to even take care of that one thing for myself is frustrating beyond belief.

Honestly, I have no idea what she is doing, but I totally feel her on every level.
Photo via Pixabay
In the whirlwind of the holidays, a crazy increase in volume of work, and seasonal illnesses many other things got pushed to the side. We ate fast food more than I care to admit due to lack of time and energy, precious sleep was lost, and there were days when I never even made it into the shower. I compensated for missing showertime (coincidentally my FAVORITE time) by:

  • Washing my face
  • Spraying dry shampoo on my hair
  • Slapping on lip gloss
  • Using deodorant and perfume
  • Tapping into the power of prayer and a smile before walking into work

I know skipping one shower isn’t something most other people are going to notice, it’s really more about how I feel. My daily shower has a rejuvenating and humanizing effect on me, without it everything else seems off. Even now that things have slowed down, as evidenced by me writing at this very moment, there is so much still to catch up on. I am, however, showering every day, so I am less cranky and I smell amazing.

It’s 2017 and some small space in the back of my mind has caught that “New Year, New You” fever, but when I reflect on these last few weeks I’m not sure how I can add anything more to my plate. I want to start exercising or taking more photos outdoors, but I go weeks without even putting on lotion or makeup because I feel so strapped for time.

How do we un-busy ourselves to make room for other things? What can we do to slow down so that when things do get hectic it isn’t completely out of control? I don’t have the answers and I’m pretty sure that change is hard work, but maybe you guys have some thoughts on this. For now, I will welcome writing back into my life and hope that it doesn’t get pushed aside by life getting in the way again.

#Holidays #Frustration #TimeManagement #Writing

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Tale of Santa Pirate

It was a chilly morning in December of 2010 and I was still happily in bed as my then-fiancé was getting ready for work. Back then, he usually left before me and tried his best not to wake me up, but this day was different. I was vaguely aware that he had left, but then I heard him come back inside.

“Hey babe?” he called from the living room.

As I shook off the grogginess, I continued to lay in bed, “What?”

He replied with, “Ummm, you better come out here”

So, of course, I assume something bad has happened and jumped out of bed. My fiancé is still standing by the entrance to our patio door and I am greeted by this:

Surprise!

My fiancé tells me that he was almost to his car when it caught his eye. I was still trying to figure this all out when he says, “There was a note.”

What does it mean? What did I do?

At this point, I’m not sure if this a joke or a threat…what exactly did I do that would warrant a visit from Santa Pirate? And what did "SSPE" mean? I decided to do the only sensible thing I could think of, which was to close the door, pretend this wasn’t happening, and go back to bed. When I awoke, he was still there and remained there for several days. Watching…waiting…

Until the day he was just gone. It threw me off a bit; I had grown accustomed to his presence on the porch and was a little sad that he had vanished. He made for a great talking point when people came over and there was something kind of charming about his eyepatch and hook-hand. I had so many questions: Who had put him there? Why us? Who took him? What if he was Santa-napped by unrelated individuals who just hate pirates and Christmas?!

I became determined to lure Santa Pirate back to our home; but the question was, with what? Regular Santa likes milk and cookies, so what does Santa Pirate want? Then in hit me:

Rum!
I left this little gem perched on a chair on our patio. I also took a photo and posted to social media in case the Santa-nappers were watching.

The following morning, I heard my fiancé once again calling me for me.

“Babe, come here!” he called out.

“Is it Santa Pirate?!” I replied.

He yelled back, “At first I thought it was a child or a little person trying to sell us something at the door”. (I'm not sure why he would think that because I can't recall any children or little people who are traveling salesmen in our neighborhood, but stranger things have happened).

This is what I found:

Santa Pirate entering the home like gentleman.
Santa Pirate had decided to come in through the front door. Fearing that he could be spirited away again, we made the decision to bring him into the house. The logical placement seemed to be by the Christmas tree, we had accepted him into our home.

Nobody puts Santa Pirate in the corner, except for us because that's where the tree was
We did eventually find out who it was that brought Santa Pirate to us (shout out to Ben and Bentonamo), who had started the “Secret Sociaty for Pranking Enthusiasts” (yes, it’s spelled wrong, they don’t seem to care). The name of their group finally solved the mystery of "SSPE" on the note. I had suspected these two initially because they love getting into general shenanigans, but they denied it until the day Santa Pirate made his way to his place of honor next to our tree. I was then made a member of their “Secret Sociaty”, however I have not participated in any pranks to date. I still don’t know what it was that I did that Santa Pirate seemed to know about. When pressed for answers, Ben and Bentonamo simply answered, “You know and he knows”.

I have an exciting update for 2016 about Santa Pirate, 6 years after he landed on doorstep he lives again!!

It's aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive!!
He had come to us with no bulb and his electrical cord was cut, but the Mister has him back in working order. We plan to make him part of our holiday display outside this year, because the neighbors just don't think we're weird enough.

#Santa #Pirate #SantaPirate #Pranks #Christmas
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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Hired Pen

So, I technically maintained my “blog every day” commitment for NaBloPoMo, but I didn’t write for my own site. I submitted 2 pieces to a friend’s blog recently. The first was a review of the Zelda symphony at the NJPAC and the second was a review of a local comic convention. I really enjoyed writing about the comic expo because I also submitted photos I had taken of the day. It gave me the opportunity to practice using my DSLR and writing for a new audience, plus I got to feel super-cool wearing a Press badge at the event. The power went straight to my head!

My key to the kingdom

I will post links once my stories run, until then!

#NaBloPoMo #Blogging #Writing #WriterforHire #NerdMom

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