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Bless You. No, Really, Bless You!

November 24, 2015

823503_10152121312325921_723539684_oIt’s “the holidays,” whatever that means. At its core, I see the holiday season as an excuse to gather around and celebrate together as a way to combat the totally crap weather and short days that those of us in the North are dealing with. It’s just easier together, so any excuse to gather and laugh and eat is fine by me.

I am, of course, a devout atheist. So much so that when our daughter had to write a report – in grade school – about “her family’s religion,” I told her to just pick any book or movie that she thought had the right messages to organize your life around. She chose Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and I fell a little more in love with her.

So I guess, according to reports, we are Buellerists. Read more…

Dear Bloomingdale’s, This Is What We Need To Know…

November 14, 2015

12243459_10204043424160468_2729112803065997314_nDear Bloomingdale’s,

I gather that you know by now that you really fucked up. There’s not actually a nicer way to say that, or I might have tried, but this is just a royally fucked fucking fuck up.

It is mind-boggling. It literally rendered me speechless, which is damned hard to do.

I assume that, by now, you’ve been educated about the fact that you cheerfully promoted date-rape in your ad for festive holiday mini-skirts. Ho ho ho, and all that. I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt that you now look at that ad, and even you are mortified by how blatant it is, you can’t believe that you ever thought that was okay and kind of want to hide under your entire bedding department for a while and hope everyone forgets. Been there. Though my walks of shame have rarely been so public.

I’m willing to look past this whole thing. Let’s focus on the future, shall we? Read more…

Why I’m Not So Worried About Teens and Sexting

November 9, 2015

Photo by Flickr user Pro Juventute

My relative nonchalance about teens and sexting didn’t come easily. I promise. I was duly shocked and afraid when I learned that kids, kids I know and love, were sending “sexy” pictures of themselves to each other. I mean, nipples live forever in cyberspace, and we can’t have that, now can we? Mind you, I’m trained to teach teens about sexuality. I’ve talked to countless teens and parents about navigating sex and sexuality, and can converse about safe anal sex without skipping a beat, but sexting and teens just freaked me out. As it does many people.

It is, essentially, porn. Right?

But wait, I love porn. I can also talk about safe consumption of porn without missing a beat, but sexting and teens still freaked me out.

My husband wasn’t nearly as bothered as I was by the idea. “So?” was all he said when we found out that a kid we knew was partaking in the sexy texts. He couldn’t figure out why I was so bothered. I couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t.

I mean….
Read more…

I Would Rather Do “Good” Than “Do Well.”

October 19, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 2.06.55 PMIt started as a Facebook meme that I shared in frustration. It had to do with how much money members of congress make when you add up salary and various perks that we, the taxpayers, provide for them. The hashtag on the bottom said something about paying them minimum wage. A sentiment that I agree with, wholly. (Amongst other reasons, because I think that minimum wage would increase really fast if that were the case.)

A friend of mine, who I know to be brilliant, compassionate and an all around good guy, suggested that I had it backwards. That we should pay them even better than we do, so that we’d be able to attract the best and the brightest. And that made me sad. Very sad. Because in that statement – which is not necessarily wrong – is the assumption that the “best and brightest” would automatically choose to make more money, rather than making the world a better place.

I have reason to believe that isn’t true.  Read more…

My Grandmother’s Secret

September 30, 2015
This is not the farm of my childhood. I took this driving past a farm in Arthur Illinois. It is a typical Amish family farm.

This is not the farm of my childhood. I took this driving past a farm in Arthur Illinois. It is a typical Amish family farm.

The year is 1930-something, and the depths of Great Depression are plumbing the souls of people all over the country. My grandmother, who at 5’5″ still didn’t weigh 100 pounds, pregnant as she was, found her way out of the tiny town in Northeast Missouri, where her husband and three children stayed behind for a few days, fed mostly on faith and what food they could scarcely afford. The youngest, my father, was barely a toddler. The small country store they owned, offering provisions to the scant hundreds of people who lived there, had recently been burned to the ground by the only competitor. With it, their home, as it was all one and the same. They were devoutly Christian people, truly the salt of the earth. About the only thing they had going for them at this point was that they didn’t have to fear being lynched. (I am certain they were aware and grateful of that privilege, and would have helped anyone who faced that ugly reality.)

They also had the privilege of being able to scrape together the means for my grandmother to escape, with all the fear, love and shame she had as a Christian woman in the depression, to go to a nearby town and have an abortion. Read more…

What Humanity Sounds Like On A Speeding Train

September 25, 2015

I would tell you that few things can move me to tears, but anyone who knows me would surely chime in that I was lying. Despite my best – and still feeble – attempts at pretending to be a woman of steel, I am at best made of porous mesh with alarming tensile strength. It all works its way in, out and through me, one way or another. I am rather like a living version of a toddler’s sensory toy; feed in stimuli, watch what comes out. It is immediate, and usually predictable.

On a virtually empty El train into Chicago this morning, sunshine making even the metal rails – worn with countless frightened grips wishing for solitude and stability – gleam, fresh. The sound of two young men singing brought rapid, but gentle, tears to my eyes. (Actually, this entire blog post is really just a vehicle for me to put the video of them somewhere so that others can see it. And hopefully trick you into reading about why it is illustrative of things that matter so greatly.) Read more…

Investing In People Is Always The Best Investment

September 22, 2015

Watching him succeed is the best return on investment. (Here he is in American Idiot at Arts West in Seattle.) Photograph by Michael Brunk.

A little over a year ago, maybe a little longer, one of our members brought her little brother into the gym, much like a mama cat might drag a kitten and deposit it at your feet. By the scruff. “We need to fix him.” We’d met him before. Before college, he spent several months working out with us, and we loved him in that way you love a kid with all the potential in the world. You love the present and the future at the same time. Love does that, it warps and combines time that way, but it still somehow feels naturally linear.

But time had passed, and he was a different person. Time hadn’t been kind. He was gaunt, skinny, weak and devoid of the glimmer we’d once seen in his eye. He had been injured, and was now addicted to pain-killers. He was broke, rudderless and 2 days sober with a long road ahead of him. And he was in our gym because, for whatever reason, he and his sister thought that we could help.

We asked no questions, just told him to warm up. Welcomed him home. Read more…

NO to The Huffington Post, YES to These Sites That Pay Writers

August 26, 2015
Since I don't have anyone on staff to choose photos and write captions, you'll just have to picture me as Leia and Arianna as Jabba. (I do own the slave bikini, FWIW.)

Since I don’t have anyone on staff to choose photos and write captions, you’ll just have to picture me as Leia and Arianna as Jabba. (I do own the slave bikini, FWIW.)

If I had one wish for today – besides stopping the wild fires, world peace, an end to hunger and poverty and climate change, and maybe the Republican Clown Car driving off a cliff – it would be that everyone stop reading The Huffington Post. Even just for one day, imagine if no one went there, and we made clear on social media that it’s because THEY DON’T PAY WRITERS! They rake in hundreds of millions of dollars, and do not pay writers. Not only does that suck as profoundly as nibbling on Jabba The Hut’s slimy big toe while he strokes your head and calls you “lovey” and jerks your chain (unless you’re in to that,) it has lowered the bar for all publications out there. (Now I am picturing Arianna as Jabba, and I’m regretting that image.)

It has become acceptable to not pay for content, because, you know, HuffPo doesn’t, so that must be the new normal. Exposure is the new currency – it’s also a thing that people die of.  And if you want to compete with HuffPo for ad dollars, you have to tighten your budget somewhere, so you just don’t pay for content. (And promote lots of click-baity articles and viral videos instead of, you know, intelligent content.) Read more…

Nick Symmonds, Nike, and The Corporate Sponsorship of Sports

August 13, 2015
Celia.Huddart at the Olympic Training Center, wearing her favorite Oiselle shorts. She has 3 pairs, because they gave them to her, and they're all she ever wears!

Celia.Huddart at the Olympic Training Center, wearing her favorite Oiselle shorts. She has 3 pairs, because they gave them to her, and they’re all she ever wears!

What Nick Symmonds wears is important. As one of the best in the world at running the 800M, what Nick Symmonds wears is important to his performance and his livliehood. It’s important to his ability to be one of the best, something that he spends a lot of time working on. And it’s important to Brooks, a clothing company that counts on Symmonds’ winning smile to be a brand ambassador for them. All of which he does so well that Nike thinks they should own him outright, now that he COULD be on Team USA. That is, if he was willing to sign a piece of paper saying that he’d no longer be seen wearing Brooks clothing, despite Brooks being the company that supported him to get to this point.

Symmonds doesn’t want to dump Brooks now that he’s achieved what they’ve been working for together. Because Symmonds is not an asshole. Nike? They might be. Or they might see the light. Because Symmonds has brought this all to the mainstream in a big way, by potentially giving up his spot on Team USA, by refusing to give up his right to wear what he wants when he’s not at official team functions.

Go, Nick! Read more…

President Trump Tweets to the World’s Most Powerful Women

August 8, 2015

Let’s imagine for a moment that Donald Trump is president. Picture him in meetings about the international economy, climate change, world peace – or war. Given that past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior, let’s just imagine him talking to the women who lead in the rest of the world.

Because they do. They have for a long time. Much of the rest of the world is, or has been, run by women. Women who, I suspect, would shut this bombastic bully up quite soundly. But let’s just imagine it anyway. And since we’re imagining, let’s not limit ourselves to the here and now. Let’s just look at what kinds of things he might say, given his track record of tweeting about the ladies:

How do you think he would have gotten along with Golda Meir, who was called “Iron Lady” and “the smartest man in the room,” and very likely wouldn’t have taken an ounce of shit from Trump? Read more…


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