Art is Not Free

It is Tuesday morning at 4:30 a.m. and I have just posted my blog for the day, but here I am starting a new one for Thursday, because I am waist deep in the comments section on my local news station’s Facebook. Here is a link to the article that folks are talking about.

To summarize very briefly, a businessman took pictures in front of the local mural and posted them on his professional website. The artist of the mural then sent a bill to the businessman, citing copyright infringement. A few things to note: firstly, the businessman is not the man who owns the building- that man offered the artist the wall for free to paint upon, just FYI. Secondly, the businessman never received a cease and desist letter. Now, it could be argued that the businessman is not necessarily using the mural to sell anything, although it could also be argued that he is using it to promote his business. The artist wishes to receive compensation should the latter be the case. I don’t think they went about it the right way- you definitely need to send out a cease and desist first. You can’t just throw a bill in someone’s face. However, what is irking me is the belief that because the artist painted it to be enjoyed by the city, they deserve no compensation should it be used for promotional purposes. I don’t think that the businessman had any ill intent in his use of photography of the mural, but if he was using it to sell anything or promote his business, he means to pay the artist. What really makes me angry is the faction of people on the internet who think that it should just be painted over out of spite. As if art is created without time, effort, or money. It was at this point that I closed out the comment section and took to writing this blog.

First of all, copyright infringement is a problem- and the only thing you can’t copyright is an idea. If nobody ever told you that, I am telling you now. For instance, every word you are reading has been copyrighted. There’s a little disclaimer I put on the bottom right hand corner of the web browser version of my blog, and it states as such- I have literally put it there for the people who do not know that everything you publish in a blog is copyrighted. And yes, when it comes to the Fine Arts, the mural an artist paints on a wall is copyrighted by the artist. That is their intellectual property.

Secondly, regarding the fact that you cannot copyright an idea, to earn a copyright you must complete a project. Ergo, you must put forth the time and effort needed for that project. When you think of the steps that it takes from inception of a story idea to basic outline to rough first draft to final edit to finished book, you see why an idea cannot be copyrighted. We all have ideas, but it is only those who make the necessary efforts that get to put their name on the idea. A lot of people who do not work in the Arts think that art comes easily or naturally, and sometimes it does. But mostly it takes effort and time, and often money. That artist probably started out with a pencil drawing and a blank wall. When I think of everything they put into it from buying the paint and brushes to measuring and outlining to actually doing the damn thing- that’s a lot of time. That’s a lot of effort. It was probably a lot of money, too. So of course, if someone were to use that mural to promote or sell something, the artist should be compensated.

And finally, how dare these folks say they should just paint over it? You would destroy someone’s work, simply because you don’t feel they should be rewarded for it? Who, exactly, are you? I’d like to see you try and create something half as worthy of presentation. Gtfo.

Admittedly, I do not know who is right and who is wrong here. I agree with the businessman, in that he should have received a cease and desist letter instead of a bill, and I think that the water surrounding whether or not he has a right to use photos of the mural is still quite murky. And I agree with the artist that they should be compensated for their work should someone else be using it for monetary gain. It’s not like they’re saying tourists can’t take a photo in front of the mural and post it on their Facebook- yes, the artist created it for the public in that perspective. But if someone is trying to make money off of it, any money made should go to the artist. Really, it just seems like a big ol’ mess. And now it is 5:00 a.m., and I have been going on about this for far too long.

See, it just really bothers me, because a long time ago I had a blog where I published some of my poetry. Someone stole that poetry from me and published it under their own name- and that wasn’t even the first time I was plagiarized! It has happened three times to my knowledge, once from a personal acquaintance and twice via blog. Anyway, that is when I started paying attention to copyright law. That is why I put the little disclaimer at the bottom of the page. Because people just don’t know – every word I write is copyrighted. Anything I have had published on the internet is copyrighted. As it should be! I put plenty of time and effort into my ideas, and I do not get paid for it. If nothing else, I deserve the respect of not being infringed upon. Art is not made in a moment, that is only the idea of art. Art is made through effort, and effort deserves recognition.


Hulk Smash.

This morning I woke up and I went on Twitter to read the news for the day. There is,of course, the rumor of this Tuesday, that the former president would be indicted. I thought perhaps that would be the headline that caught my eye first, but either that’s not happening today, or it’s happening later today- either way what caught my eye was Florida.

Now, I hold very little love for Florida. True, I have only been there once, and the extent of my travel there was in a cab from airport to cruise port. But when I did step outside to have a cigarette, I found the palm trees to be pretty, but the air to be 100% unbreathable. The humidity was unbelievable, and I knew I would not be returning for any length of stay by choice. Other things I know about Florida include swamps and alligators, huge mosquitoes, and Boomers from Buffalo who retired there. And then there is the politics! I mean, first of all, that’s where the former has his resort home. But on top of that, you have this DeSantis guy. I don’t give a lot of attention to what is going on so far south of me, but when I saw the headline this morning that they were trying to introduce a bill that would ban girls from talking about getting their period before 6th grade, I almost broke the PlayStation, Hulk-smash style.

First of all, I went to Catholic School, the most conservative of conservative schools back in the 80s and 90s. And we had our Family Life class in 5th grade. The fact that we even had a Family Life class is amazing given the time and circumstance, and the fact that I’m not 100% sure they still do this today is upsetting. Anyway, what happened in Family Life class was that the girls and boys were separated into two groups, and puberty was explained to us. Now, some of us had mothers who told us things about puberty and getting our periods, but some of us did not. I fell into the latter camp, wherein I was aware of such things because my mother made me aware, but it was still treated with a very secretive vibe, and I didn’t really get any true information until that fifth grade class.

For reference, I was 10 years old. And if you think from one moment that I wasn’t fully aware important information was being kept from me by adults, you are sorely mistaken.

10-year-olds are not stupid; they are not the babies people think they are, especially not in today’s world. If a 10-year-old in the ’90 could handle learning about a period, explain to me how kids from the future who have way more access to information then we ever did are supposed to pretend like something doesn’t exist? Especially when so many kids are getting their periods earlier and earlier. I know there were girls in that fifth grade class who’d already gotten theirs, and there were many who didn’t. And I know that now that number has risen, perhaps due to evolution, perhaps due to environmental issues. Either way, there are 10-year-olds out there who need this information. But they don’t get to have it, why?  Because old men in politics are scared of the ick factor?!

I lucked out in life because I have a husband who had sisters that never hid anything from it. I remember the first time I got mine while we were dating, and he ran to Rite Aid and got tampons and ice cream and Midol. I never even used Midol, but he insisted it would help and he was right. He has never considered it to be gross or weird, and he thinks that dudes who are too scared to go by tampons are wusses. I would accept no other behavior from a man, and therefore expect no other behavior as well. The boys in my 5th grade class learned about periods too that day, and I am hopeful they were taught how to appropriately assist their loved one during that time.Grown men aren’t grossed out by bodily functions. That’s little boy business.

I read some more, and I found out that not only are they saying that you cannot talk about your period before 5th grade, they are also saying that you have to report your period start date to the state if you wish to play sports. So while you are not allowed to talk about it, you HAVE to talk about it if you want to play sports before 5th grade. RIDICULOUS.

I just don’t understand, I guess. Maybe it’s because I’ve been in Education for the past 20 years, but I don’t see where our politicians get off trying to dumb down our children. I don’t know why we are letting them. Why? Why are we as parents afraid of our children growing up? Is that not the goal of parenting, to raise a child to adulthood, and prepare them for everything that the future will throw at them? Why are so many parents today trying to preserve their children in a snow globe? And yet, you gave them a phone didn’t you?

That’s the thing. If you tell a kid they can’t talk about it, they are only going to talk about it more with each other, where they will likely get wrong information. And they will certainly be using their phone to access the internet and figure out what the big deal is. I hate to break this to you, parent of middle schooler, but your child has put the word “p**n” into a search database. And they have seen some things. So if you really care about what your child is exposed to, maybe stop worrying about natural body functions and start worrying about the technology you bought them for Christmas. Your child is not stupid; your child is not unaware. They have eyes and ears and brains just like you, and they all work together to form concepts. If you’re not going to assist your child in forming concepts that are healthy and safe and socially acceptable, that is on you as parent- not the state, not the school system, not the teachers. You. 

So vote like your child depends on you. 

You know the crazy thing? The second article I read this morning was also about Florida. It was about banning books. Something about Florida. Seems like the government really wants to keep the kids stupid, and the sad part is that the parents seem to be letting them.  Although, I do hope that someday I write something good enough to be banned in the state of Florida.

Drag Queen Storytime

I have seen a lot of talk in the media and on the socials about all the laws people are trying to pass regarding drag queens. I will admit that I didn’t pay much attention at first, mostly because I thought it was pretty f**king stupid. Because, at the end of the day, this is: stupid. Utterly, unbelievably stupid.

Now, I’m not going to go into Trans rights. That is another stupid thing because I think that if you are a human being you deserve the exact same rights as every other human being. End of GD discussion. But the drag queen thing I will address, because frankly it’s ridiculousness catches my attention.

The first time that I saw a drag queen, she was on stage performing Girls Just Want to Have Fun at Club Marcella in 1998. Sounds a little cliche, given the tune, but I very much adored her Cyndi Lauper rendition that made me smile and laugh and feel less awkward in the situation I was in. I was 16, and back then you could get into the club with a special card that said you were 16 to 18. We would go sometimes, my group of girlfriends and I, and that first night I felt very out of place. For instance, I didn’t know very many LGBTQ people. The ones I did were adults, none of my friends had come out yet, and few were even suspected to be anything but straight and cis. At that time, for me, I was aware that I liked boys and always had, but for some reason a lot of people thought that I was gay. So I thought maybe they were right, and went through a little bit of anxiety the night we went to Marcella’s for the first time. (I should note that this is when it was a gay club on Main Street under the Tralf. Not whatever mess they made at the new location with the new setup. That place is a tragedy and should be closed.)

Anyway, I watched Cyndi perform, and I danced and sang along, and I thought it was great. My friends and I had a good time, and started going back there every other week or so. Over the years, we went to Marchella’s a lot, and eventually even got the boys to come along. We had good times there, always enjoying the drag performers. They were the highlight.

When I was 19, I decided I was going to go to the Pride Parade. This is when it was held in the Elmwood Village, and was a much smaller affair than the massive celebration we have every June at Canalside now. But I went, and I wore my Straight Ally pin on my shirt, and I thought of my dear friend Mike, who was still kind of in the closet, but if he hadn’t been, would have definitely been my side. I went for him, really. And while I was there, my lighter fell out of my pocket.

I was holding my cigarette and fumbling around, putting my purse on the ground and looking through it, when a pair of red leather stiletto boots suddenly appeared beside my bag. “You okay, honey?” I heard from above, and looked up to see the most beautiful creature attached to those beautiful boots. I got a little flustered. “I lost my lighter,” I told her, packing my items back into my bag. I stood up and looked at her outfit, nothing but red leather and sequins. Her hair was long and blonde and pulled into a high ponytail. She had lashes that girls today would be envious of and she had makeup on that we didn’t figure out how to do until late 2010s.  The point is, she was perfection, and when she pulled out a lighter and lit my cigarette for me, she became my sister.

I’ve never forgotten that moment, because it was the first time that a drag queen interacted with me one-on-one. And I am here to tell you, I survived! I was spoken to by a person in drag, and I lived to tell the tale!

Now yes, I was an adult when this encounter occurred, and of course we must protect children, right? Tell that to myself watching Bosom Buddies when I was like five. Get out of here with that. I’ve seen a man in a dress. In fact, I’ve seen a great many men in dresses both on screen and in real life, and they do not scare me half as much as a man in jeans and a flannel with a trucker hat.

Listen, if you are afraid of a drag queen, you are afraid of something within yourself. For instance, I was afraid my first night at Club Marcella- what I was afraid of, now that I’m an adult who knows things, was typical teenage sexuality coming out for the first time. Totally normal crap that every single one of my friends was going through at the same time, but back then, we didn’t talk about it. I find it interesting that older Generations think the current youth is being brainwashed by “woke” culture, when in actuality, they are just more open to talking about things. Probably because they have parents from my generation, who hate how our parents kept us in the dark. Also, way more Millennials go to therapy. Like, almost all of us. We learned to talk about our feelings, and we taught that to our children- don’t be mad just because the kids aren’t stupid and silent anymore.

Anyway, like I said, I had no problems with drag when I was a kid. I understood that it was a man in a dress for performance purpose- there was no confusion. And then I became a teenager, and I started to explore other things, and that led me to learn that it was a lifestyle for some people. Which is cool, because they are excellent performers, and as a performer myself I really appreciated their gusto. And then as an adult, I started to pay attention to real problems in the world, and never in my life did I think drag queens was going to register as something I had to write a blog about in an effort to convince people to shut up.

See, every time I see some news item with some Republican senator complaining about someone in drag reading a children’s book in the middle of a library, the headline I hear is: Volunteer Takes Time Out of Day to Assist Small Children’s Education at Local Library. And if you are against such things, pretty much sounds like you’re against education and libraries and volunteerism and kids, in which case maybe you should just lock yourself inside your house where none of the big scary drag queens can hurt you.  I mean, wow. Get over yourself.
That’s enough rant for today.  Happy Tuesday,  my friends.

Welcome Relief

Today’s hot topic is student loan relief, and since it directly affects me, I’m obviously writing about it.

See, I went to a private high school, where everyone was expected to graduate with NY Regents diplomas and go directly to college.  I never made the Regents because math exists, but I did get accepted to D’Youville College’s 5 year Master’s Education Program.  Then came the task of paying for it.  I knew I would receive some financial aid, but even then I thought it strange that despite me being over the age of 18 and paying for it myself, they were taking my parent’s income into account.  Still, I got a little FA, and then it was time to search for loans. 

I have no problem telling you that I, at the age of 18, did not know what I was doing.  My parents told me that if I signed some forms, I could go to college-so I just signed the damn forms.  I knew I would pay it back someday, but by then I would have my teaching license and could make enough money to do so…right?  RIGHT??

Thing is, I had a breakdown when I was a freshman in college.  My brain fritzed out on me and the next thing I knew I was literally pulling my hair out and could not get out of bed.  I realized that I had no real desire to teach for the rest of my life…I was called to the profession, but I just couldn’t do what they do, at least not in that capacity.  I realized I had just wasted a lot of time and money on a year of life that brought me nothing and took me nowhere, so that May I signed my resignation form. 

That June, I got my bill…fourteen thousand dollars, for one year of utter disappointment.  I joked that I wanted to return it to sender and demand a refund.  I joked that I would be paying it off until I die.  I joked that eventually the economy would collapse and I would be bartering with my college over chickens.

Then yesterday, Biden sends me $10,000 of relief, and I am thrilled.  I hear that Pell Grant recipients get another 10G’s, and I am intrigued, because I think I got one of those too, which would wipe out most of my debt. 

Oh, I say “most,” because there is still the interest.  I truly do not know what the number is up to these days, after years of deferrals and such.  I know I don’t get taxes back, because they swipe those right up, and once they garnished my paycheck.  Truth be told, I’m not sure my loan companies even know where I live at this point in time,  Other than this, though, I haven’t paid in years…because I have no money.  I have no money because I have no college education.  Hilarious, isn’t it? 

I mean, I make do.  I usually have enough to live on, but to pay off a massive debt on something I never should have been allowed to do in the first place?  Not a top priority.  So, I was quite happy yesterday to find that most, if not all of my loan is about to go away.  This is good for me…I might start getting tax returns, and it puts me a decade closer to owning property.  So, yay.

Wait, what’s that?  Some folks are up in arms about it because they already paid off their loans and think we should have to as well?  Oh, right… like if tomorrow we cured cancer with a pill but still insisted all the patients go through chemo.

Just because you suffered doesn’t mean others should, and the fact that you find satisfaction in other folk’s struggle is a bit telling as to your capacity for human compassion. 

That’s all I have to say on that.

Boycotting Blues

It is no big secret that I am a huge LGBTQ+ ally, even from before it was cool.  As a result, I have of course never eaten at Chick-Fil-A.  They get no monies from me, I don’t care how good that sauce is.   See, I’m big on the boycott-if I discover your company policies are outrageously discriminatory, I will go directly to your more socially conscious competitor.  So yeah, no hate-chicken for me and mine.

Then one day Mark spends an hour reading up on Starbucks and their union problem.  As a man who would love to be unionized himself, he then comes to me guns blazing about how we are no longer a Starbucks house.  I mean, yeah, I live in Buffalo, and we have the great and powerful Tim Horton’s, so I really never actually go to Starbucks.  However, I do occasionally buy the Double Shots at the gas station when in a hurry.  And that particular day, I was in a hurry.

Not that it mattered in the end, however, because I spent five minutes standing in front of the coffee cooler and debating with myself over whether or not to grab the usual.  Finally, I came to the conclusion that if I would not allow Mark to purchase the hate-chicken (not that he has or would of his own accord, but in theory,) then I cannot, in good conscious, buy the Double Shot.  It would not only show that I don’t care about unions, which I most certainly do, but it would also make me a flaming hypocrite.  And so…I walked away.  Goodbye Starbucks, we had a nice little run…now get your house in order.

That’s barely a blog, more of an anecdote, but it’s all I can manage because my hands are killing me right now.  I drove to Erie PA and back on Saturday to go see Momma (no real updates) and ever since my hands have been numb or in pain.  Stupid neuropathy.  This blog is a day late because I couldn’t type yesterday…I barely could hold the vacuum cleaner at work. 

Anyhoo, E is here so I am off to spend some time with her, and am hoping the sun comes out so that we can go do something.

Happy Tuesday.

Her World on Fire

My 12 year old is aware.

My 12 year old is aware that the world is on fire no matter how many times you tell her it isn’t. She knows that a gun has more rights than her body-she mentioned it in passing. She mentioned it like it was a book she had read or a movie she had watched.

When RBG died, I cried. My husband held me in the middle of a NY state forest and promised me it would be alright, that he would always stand by my decisions like the tall trees surrounding us. I loved him for this; I hated him for this. I loved that he would be my protector, but I hated that I would need one.

The day my city died started out different for the women, but afternoon tragedy kept that story off the evening news. The morning had brought sunlight and screaming, there before our City Hall.  I stood with the fiercest of women, sounding off our rage as we paraded through the downtown streets.  We were full of fire and fury, and freedom.

No tears came on June 24th.  Only a quiet and expected rage, growing deeper each passing day, waiting.  Deep puddles of sadness splotched about my neighborhood as I passed sisters on the streets, just as enraged as I was.

My husband maintains his stance: my body is mine.  I thank him, but that is not enough- not enough to say it to my face. Say it to theirs-say it to every man in your life.  Make them shout it from the rooftops.

They want so much to be our protectors, it seems.  And yet, given the opportunity, given the information, given the instructions-still we see no assistance.   Still we see no change.  They could be our superheroes, if they weren’t so afraid of the opinions of one another.

It’s been a little while now, and the tears came eventually and sporadically.  Once processed, action becomes the call, urging me to offer whatever I can.  I look for protest-I look for dissent.  I no longer trust you, because you can’t trust me-that’s what they are telling us.

You think we can’t be trusted.  You thnk your mother-sister-daughter-friend can’t be trusted. 

And my 12 year old?  She is aware. 

Salt in the Wound

How is it that I am back here after only 2 weeks to write about another massacre?  Oh, that’s right…I live in America.

Whenever I go to the grocery store now, and probably for the rest of my life, I will think of the ten people who lost their lives on Jefferson Ave.  I know many of my fellow Buffalonians can echo that sentiment.  And now, whenever I go to work, I will think of the dozens dead or injured in Uvalde.  And I know my fellow educators feel the same way.

Listen…no teacher is out there receiving combat pay, so stop acting like they are the first line of defense.  I saw a meme yesterday that said not to even suggest arming teachers, because apparently y’all can’t even trust them to choose books.

When I graduated high school, I was told there would be a teaching shortage right about now, and there is.  There were many incentives in place at the time for those who wanted to pursue education, such as reduced tuitions and 5-year Master’s programs. Naturally, I jumped at this, as I had wanted to work with children and teaching seemed to be the obvious answer.

Ooooh boy am I glad I dropped out of college now!

As if teaching through a pandemic wouldn’t have been hard enough, you finally get back into the school setting and now you have to worry about “active shooters.”  No, thank you.  Yet…I look at these kids I teach and the crazy thing about it is that they know what to do in the event of a gunman, better than I do.  I’ve had no training; they’ve been doing it since pre-k.  So while I am the one expected to lay my life on the line for a child, they are the ones more likely to save me.  I have a better chance following a third-grader’s directions than they would have following mine and ouch…I think I just found a blind spot in our program.

Last Saturday, I took a CPR and First Aid course.  It’s required for work, but it’s also something I like to have.  It’s a skill I have thankfully never had to use, but I am prepared in case it happens, and I guess that’s how we are spinning shooter drills to the kids.  Except it seems more and more of them assume they are preparing for “when” it happens, not “if.”

Listen, I hate guns, and if you’ve read a lot of my stuff, you probably already know that.  However, I am pro-choice on pretty much all topics…so if you like guns or own one, whatever…that’s your right.  HOWEVER, I do think we should have common sense gun laws.  I mean, why do you need a AR15?  Explain it to me like I’m a child, and don’t use the words “target practice.”  Oh, and as soon as you mention killing humans, even if in defense, you are proving my point.  I don’t care about your shotgun, your handgun, your hunting rifle; I care about your semi-automatic assault rifle.  ASSAULT is right there in the name!

Anyway…I wrote a poem, video below, about the events in Uvalde.  Too much to process, and far too soon.

Keep Your Pulpit Out of my Bedroom.

It’s long, because I’m pissed.

Schedules have gone out the door.  Time means nothing. I think it’s Friday.  Nothing means anything, at least it hasn’t since three days ago when I checked my news feed after being in the sick-mom bubble all week.

Once, in an old blog, I talked about a proposed South Dakota law that would make it illegal to help someone get an abortion.  This was in February of 2011…11 years ago.

In May of 2019, I wrote about how tired I was that this was still an issue…4 years ago.  7 years between posts…seven years of the same old debate.

In September of last year, I wrote about my rage toward the Supreme Court and how they’re a bunch of asshats, and I’m standing by that observation today.

Listen…I was pro-choice before pro-choice was cool.

Picture me, a twelve-year-old Catholic schoolgirl who spends her weekends hanging with a Baptist youth group and you can pretty much figure out that I was anti-abortion…”pro-life,” as they liked to call it.  I had it coming at me from two religions, you see.  First, there was the day in 7th grade when our church got the big “Respect Life” sign installed on the front lawn, and we were taught that it meant we, as Catholics, supported life in all forms.  Which sounds great, but has caveats that they didn’t bother to explain to us.  I thought it meant you do everything you can to save a baby, and you don’t support the death penalty.  Again, perfectly great ideals, but asking a child to blindly follow something that they do not truly understand is not okay, in my opinion.  Then, there were the Baptists.  Now, I’d love to write a blog comparing the two religion’s influences in my youth because I’m sure it would be fascinating (to me at least) but for the sake of this blog, we’re just talking about abortion.

The Baptists provided more information, but it was mostly incorrect.  No, I was not invited to vigils and pickets and the March for Life-that was reserved for the high schoolers.  But I was taught that barbaric methods were used during abortions and that those who performed or received them were going straight to hell.  We were to pity those people, and pray for their souls.  I went off to my Catholic high school with this idea in my brain.

Then came October 23rd, 1998.  I was a sophomore, and Dr. Barnett Slepian of Amherst NY was murdered in his home while making soup.  He was an OB/GYN who provided abortions, and for this, a zealot shot him in the head.

This was the moment when “Respect Life” took on a whole new meaning for me.  Obviously, this man was not respecting life…I’m talking about the shooter, not the abortionist.  A true Christian, I surmised, would aid the supposed sinner, not play God and remove them.  My eyes opened then, as I realized neither my church nor my youth group seemed to take into consideration the lives that were already walking the earth.  So, I did as I do when confronted with a problem, and I researched.

Wow, was I lied to!  From both parties!

First of all, the barbaric practices the Baptists spoke of were practically nonexistent, and what did seem terrible only seemed that way if you look at the fetus as a whole human instead of a grouping of cells, which is what it is in the beginning.  Then the Catholics and their rhetoric just seemed ridiculous, because on one hand they were all “let us pray for the family of Dr. Slepian,” and on the other, “be sure to register for the Walk for Life!”  I was already seeing all kinds of Catholic hypocrisy, so this was really no surprise.

Anyway, long story short, I was anti-abortion at one time, because somebody lied to me.  A lot of somebodies lied to me, over and over again, so of course I believed them.  So, what am I saying?

I’m saying that if you’re still anti-abortion, I’m going to need you to ask yourself why.  If it’s a God thing, cool…you do you.  But that’s just it…you…do…YOU.  Not me, not her, not anybody else.  You don’t get to decide for me how I get to live my life.  No one does, in any way, ever, and that is the hill I will literally die upon.  Just like I can’t force you to get an abortion, you can’t force me not to.  I will not risk my health or sanity because you got a beef with your church.  Note I said church, not Creator, because that dude does not care, I assure you.  Jesus never said one word about abortion.  And my favorite little bit of Bible in this particular case?  “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7.  Ain’t no fetuses breathing, is all I’m saying.

But, Bible aside, (because it should be-we aren’t all Christians, and shouldn’t have to live by their dogma,) this is so not about babies at this point, and it’s so glaringly obvious, that I just don’t think I have the energy for the enemy anymore.  If you can’t see that this is a total attack on all women, you are not paying attention.  For instance, some states are proposing legislature that would persecute a woman who has an abortion for an ectopic pregnancy.  Those pregnancies are 100% not viable, and can kill the woman.  So, should I have one in one of these states, I would have to choose between letting myself die or going to prison because I had an health condition. 


So, this is just a note to say peace out to everyone I know who is supporting Alito’s document.  I am done with you.  You do not value my life, or the lives of the women I know, or the lives of the women you know.  If abortion isn’t for you, that’s fine…but you don’t get to speak for me, and if you think you do, you can just be on your merry way.  Unfollow, delete, block, do what you gotta do…but I’m not coming around on this one. 

Of course, 90% of the people I’m taking to right now are men.  All the ladies I know are outraged, while the dudes are just standing there with their hands in their pockets.  Look at your wife; look at your daughter.  Look at your mother.  Do you really believe a rich old white male politician knows more about her body than she does?  If you do…then you need to leave.  You don’t value her as a human being if you think she can’t handle herself. End of story.

We are not idiots, you see.  We are brilliant, and we are systematically held down because of our brilliance, in ways such as this.  What are you so afraid of, men?  Why is being in control so important to you?

Perhaps because you know that if the roles were switched as they are now…you wouldn’t like it.  You wouldn’t like making 72 cents on the dollar.  You wouldn’t like that 1 in 4 of your friends have been sexually assaulted and/or domestically abused.  You aren’t going to like us catcalling you on the street when you’re just trying to get through your day. You aren’t down with us making you get a vasectomy or taking birth control pills.  You have no desire to stand in our shoes, because you have made them incredibly uncomfortable, and you know it.

Oh, and don’t “well that’s a different generation” at me! I know 15-year-old boys who think they can control girls, so what the fuck makes me think they didn’t learn it from their parents?  Don’t tell me “well, if women don’t want to get pregnant they should keep their legs shut,” like you’d want to live in a world where no one is fucking you.  Don’t pull the old “well the body has ways of shutting down a nonlegitimate pregnancy,” you total goon!  Go read one of those science books their trying to ban.  I mean, MY GOD, a simple Google search, guys!

So, in conclusion, if you decide that you yourself do not want an abortion, that’s nice.  But you don’t get to speak for me, you don’t get to pity me, and you don’t get to try to change my mind, any more than I do for you.  There is one Christian tenet that I have carried with me throughout my long spiritual journey…do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  And for a bunch of folks claiming to be Christian, you sure aren’t following the main rule.  I would never force you to get an abortion.  You don’t get to force me or anyone else out of one.

Go Home, Byron

I’ve got a bee in my bonnet.

This morning I was scrolling though Twitter and one of the local news stations mentioned an upcoming Q&A with India Walton and Byron Brown.  Some background:

Brown is the current mayor of Buffalo, where I live.  He has been such for many years, and brought great progress to the area.  However, despite the fact he’s a democrat, he’s always been the career-politician sort, and that leaves a slight sour taste on my tongue.  Then I investigated a little and found a bunch of things he could definitely be doing better with, so when I heard Walton would be challenging him in the primary, I was pleased.  New blood, so to speak.  She won, and I thought “awesome!  Buffalos first woman mayor!  What a great stride for the party and city!”  But, no.

See, Brown threw a hissy-fit.  The man barely even campaigned before the primary, and he was SHOCKED to have lost.  But instead of conceding and supporting Walton like he should’ve done, he ran a campaign to get on the ballot.  When the courts struck that down, he started a write-in campaign…with a healthy dose of smear, mind you.  Now, there are signs on every other lawn in my neighborhood that say “Write Down Byron Brown!”  Where were you people during the primary?!  My own parents have one on their lawn, not because they are necessarily supporters, but because their landlord put it there, which seems shady to me, frankly.  (Sidebar: my cousin G saw it yesterday and said “hey isn’t that guy my mom doesn’t like?” Yes, sweetpea.) Anyway, the whole city is now split Brown/Walton and it’s ridiculous.  1. They’re on the same damn team, and 2. What are you even doing here, Byron?  Which brings me to this morning.

So, some newscaster posted a tweet asking what qurestions he should ask the candidates.  I only have one, honestly.

Byron-what makes you think you have the right to be an option?  You didn’t win it; you don’t deserve it.  Dude is doing the same thing “that last guy” did…refusing to concede after a fair election.  Maybe, just maybe…we don’t want you anymore.

I wrote before about how the male ego plays a part in this and I stand by that but I think a lot of it is a thirst for power and control.  I just can’t imagine it: ”Oh, I lost?  Well, I don’t wanna.  So I say I didn’t.”  That’s not how adults behave, folks.  That’s the logic of a child.

Anyway, I can’t wait until election day when India Walton stomps the crap out of Byron Brown.  No, that doesn’t seem plausible where I live because South Buffalo is very pro-Byron, but the rest of the city is a different story from what I have seen.  I am hopeful…hopeful all these signs were put out by a handful of landlords.  Hopeful that Walton can weather the storm Bryon has created for someone from his own party.  Hopeful that Brown come to his senses and concedes, though I know that’s the most unlikely outcome of all.

On Food and Funds

Not long ago, and not for the first time, I was having a conversation with a nutritionist about my diet.  This is a fun little topic that comes up on a regular basis given my gastroparesis and its tendency to make digestion an issue for me.  My diet is always evolving.  And again, not for the first time, I was encouraged to go out and buy food that I can never in a million years afford.

Because you can’t eat right if you’re poor.

I knew this a long time ago, when I went to my first food pantry at Catholic Charities.  The food was canned or frozen, and what little fresh food was available was a day away from the garbage bin.  Sometimes you got lucky, though.  I remember one afternoon when Trader Joe’s dropped off a load of almost expired products, and they put them on the shelves for anyone to take.  Some women were arguing over a pack of American cheese.  I looked in the cheese bin to see what was left, if anything, and was delighted!  Gouda? Havarti?  Brie?!  I scooped all that fancy cheese while those women were fighting over Kraft slices.  Still, the fresh food at that pantry was in low supply.  I had better luck at a secular pantry run by a health organization I was linked to, but eventually I stopped going to them and lost pantry privileges.

Then there are the grocery stores.  First of all, there’s food deserts: places with no access to fresh food, like downtown (soon to change now that Braymiller’s Market is opening, though I don’t know what their prices are like.)  I shop mainly at Savealot or Aldi’s, which are discount grocery stores.  Other options in the area are Wegmans and Tops.  These stores are very different from one another-take Wegmans and Savealot.  Firstly, you walk in the door and see the produce section.  Savealot’s is about a case and a half.  Wegmans’ is the garden of flippin’ Eden.  Then you find their bakery sections…one with packaged breaks and cakes and very little choice, the other with a million fresh baked options.  The meat and dairy sections at Wegmans are endless, but only a few cases at Savealot.  But then…frozen foods!  Savealot has two aisles for frozen food.  I’m sure Wegmans has the same or more, but in comparison to the other departments there is a huge difference between the offerings.  Almost as if there’s just more cheap and easy stuff per square foot at Savealot.  So, essentially, this low-cost store is definitely saving me money, but at what cost?  At the cost of my health.  See, the strawberries might be two bucks cheaper at Savealot, but at Wegmans, I don’t have to throw half out because they are rotting or damaged.

Another thing about the stores that Mark noticed is the way they are set up.  Savealot, has you enter in one specific spot and encourages you to follow a sort of zig-zag pattern through the aisles.  In Wegmans and Tops, is just laid out for you to go wherever and get your thing.  He noticed that when we went to buy cheese yesterday, we bought a few other things as well that we saw while walking the aisles.  Had we gone to Wegmans, that wouldn’t happen.  I would have gone directly to the dairy and got the cheese and left.  But that’s not just because of the way the grocery store is arranged; that’s because of my wallet.  I can’t AFFORD to aisle-wander in Wegmans. 

Bringing me back to how poor people can’t eat right.  My doc is from Amherst, a nice suburb, and likes to suggest I shop at Whole Foods and I like to laugh and laugh until it gets uncomfortable.  I can’t buy a head of lettuce in that store.  It’s outrageous.  It’s outrageous at Wegmans, and some days, I think it’s outrageous at Savealot, too.

When we used to get food stamps, a lot of people were always talking about how folks on EBT were spending it all on steak and lobster and I would laugh and laugh until it got real uncomfortable and then I would go on a rant about how I can barely buy ground beef and tuna fish with the 125$ a month they give us to feed ourselves and maybe you should just sit down and shut up before you make yourself into a fool in front of people who actually deserve help!  But I digress.

My point is that even with help, it’s not enough to eat right.

Mom told me Bill Maher went on a tear recently about how America is obese and her response was that maybe if we all had personal chefs and his kind of money that wouldn’t be a problem, which I think sums it up right there.  I, personally, am sick of hearing how going organic or something is better for me.  Why, I’d love to.  Just make it cheaper.

There is a ridiculous amount of poverty in this country and hunger and food-insecurity are real things in our communities, and there are just not enough services in my opinion.  I don’t feel as though people should jump though a thousand hoops just for the privilege of eating.  Furthermore, I don’t think it should be a frigging privilege.

In my research, a woman led me to FullCart, an online food bank.  I filled out the questionnaire and am hoping to hear back soon to see whether I qualify for a free box of food to be shipped to my house.  I know there won’t be a fresh thing in that box, but I’m going to try it all and find out what else is available for people who are hungry.

I could really go for a fresh garden salad with chicken and strawberries and walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette for lunch, but instead I’m having a chicken patty on white bread because that only cost me 25 cents to make.

Because you can’t eat right when you’re poor.