Friday, February 28, 2014

Why You Need To Drop Whatever You Are Doing Right Now and Watch True Detective

Seriously, stop whatever you are doing right now.

If you are an HBO subscriber already, high five! Get some snacks and astronaut diapers, then park your ass on the couch and catch up. The first 6 episodes of True Detective are On Demand right now.

If you aren't an HBO subscriber, either sign up right now or get cozy with a friend who is. Pronto.

You have to watch this show. No, really. Whatever else you had planned will wait.

I'm not going to write any spoilers in this post, so go on and read it. It should make you want to watch it if you aren't already.

And then once you are watching it we can talk about the things that happen and share our theories about who the Yellow King is and ohmygod did you see that???


I need answers.

The series is the brainchild of Nic Pizzolatto. I feel compelled to sit him down and interview him and ask him what the hell happened to him during his childhood. Honestly.

Conceived as a crime drama, it will run several seasons, with a different set of characters and a different story each season. It is dark and mysterious and disturbing in so many ways at once that it's hard to wrap your head around the plot and all the sub plots going on at the same time.

I find myself thinking about the episodes for days after they air, still sorting things out in my head. I have said what the fuck aloud during the show more than once.

The main characters are Marty Hart, played by Woody Harrelson, and Rust Cohle, played by Matthew McConaughey. They are both detectives, partners in the Lousiana State Police, and the plot centers on the investigation of the murder of a young woman.

Harrelson is mindblowingly good in this role, as a deeply conflicted man with a total lack of self awareness and self control. He sees the world as he wants it to be, always neglecting to hold himself to the standards he demands that others live up to. He is impossibly stubborn with a penchant towards violence and personifies everything we expect the bad cop to be.

While Harrelson is mindblowingly good, McConaughey is something otherworldly. Cohle is a man with a past that it hurts to even remember, a man who seeks answers to the questions he asks in any and every way necessary. He plays the good cop so well, so convincingly, that he is able to extract confessions from even the unlikeliest of suspects. He has a hefty set of his own demons to contend with, ones that show themselves more with every episode. His performance is nothing short of magnificence. I don't even have adequate words to describe just how good he is in this.

Whatever awards they make for acting in a cable series, he needs to win them. All of them. He is that good.

The two men are at odds with one another almost immediately and that tension grows and grows as the series progresses. I anticipate it will only become a more pressing concern in the remaining episodes, the issue of whether these two vastly different characters can remember what they are supposed to be doing here.

Seeing who they are in the beginning of the story, and who they transform into is a fascinating study in humanity. The portrayal of it is so believable that you will begin to wonder if McConaughey hasn't really gone off the deep end in real life.

This show gives me hope that intelligent, well written, superbly acted television can be resurrected from the ashes of the fires of reality television hell.

Once this season is over, I fully intend to revisit the show to discuss the plot and the back stories present. I want SO BADLY to talk about the rampant gender issues present, about the role of the church, about how frightening it is that people like this exist in real life. I want to. But I will wait.

Go watch it.

Then we'll talk.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thursday Nerdsday - Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Rise of the Runelords

You guys. I'm flying my nerd flag nice and high today, so be gentle.

Seriously. I don't think it get nerdier than this. Well, maybe if I was actually dressing as my character or actively LARPing, that would be more nerdier. Maybe.

Back in the day, Mr. Hive played Dungeons and Dragons. Then he met me and he stopped, probably because girls are sparkly and distracting and they smell better than other teenage boys. Or something like that. He didn't play for decades, then sometime last year he came home from the game store with a Pathfinder box. He was a bit nervous about it, since this is like the epitome of nerddom and all, but I said I would play.

We played the regular adventure game quite a few times, though he tired of all the planning and coordination of the game he had to do in advance. (He also can't roll for crap when he's the attacker, but that's another story...)

I am Ezren. I have always been Ezren. Because Ezren is a wizard and wizards kick ass.

The card version of the game came out and he was all excited because the basic idea of the game was the same, with the same characters, but he could play and didn't have to plan anything ahead of time. I wondered if we really needed a different version of the same game.

Then he ordered it anyway, because I clearly didn't know what I was talking about.

The first few times we played it, we messed up a bit. The play of this game is very different than regular Pathfinder, but once you get the hang of it, I've found that we all like it better.


I know, right?

That's probably in violation of some nerd code, right there.

Anyhow, onto the game, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Rise of the Runelords.

To play, each person selects a character to play as and draws cards from the decks based on the list for that character. The cards are shuffled and drawn to your particular hand size, which varies among the characters. Each character has different abilities and skills, and when you are playing it is best to have a variety of types to best confront the villain.

Depending on the number of players you have, you create decks for different locations, according to the round you are playing. Regardless of the number of players, since it is a cooperative game, there are a total of 30 turns in the game. You have 30 turns to explore the decks, confront and defeat the villains and close all the locations. Only when all locations have been closed can you declare victory.

It sounds complicated, and it is. Like, it's so complicated that I won't really even go into depth about the rules because it is easier to show someone how to play it than it is to explain it. Having some background in Pathfinder will likely help you get the gist of this version, but it isn't necessary. There are plenty of videos out there you can watch to learn how to play. If there is enough interest, we might even be willing to make one.

It will take a few rounds of play before you really get it anyway, regardless of how familiar you are with ordinary Pathfinder.

It's to your advantage to keep the same character from one round to another because the more times you play that character, the more experience credit you get, which increases your roll values and ups the number of cards allowed in your deck. Your deck carries forward round to round after being re-set to the allowed numbers of each card type.

This version of the game plays faster and is much easier to set up than the traditional version. I jokingly told Mr. Hive that I missed his narration and voices, so he obliges me with those now. It takes about 45 minutes to play a round.

Much like the regular Pathfinder, whether you are successful in this game will depend heavily on your rolls. In this version, you are also at the mercy of the deck. We've played rounds where the villain was confronted immediately, we've played games that we barely won on the last turn, and we have lost more than a few times.


I got my own dice.

Aren't they pretty???

The recommended age on this one is 13+, but again, our kids can play. The 8 year old can play independently with her own character. As it is a cooperative game, you are going to be consulting with the other players anyway, so we've never had an issue with the age limitations. You do definitely need to have at least one person playing who has a good grasp on the game, though age doesn't have much to do with that.

Since we bought this version, we haven't played the traditional game at all. This one has all the fun without the hassle and everyone gets to play.

Quick, throw me a blessing...because as much as wizards kick ass, they do get their asses kicked in combat.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday ~ the Wednesday dragging the bigots out of the closet edition

Hi. I know it is Wednesday, but I was busy yesterday raising money for childhood cancer research. Which is a good thing. If you missed that post, you should go read it, then scrape together whatever extra money you have and donate it.

I'm taking a new approach this week. I hope you enjoy it.

Arizona, home of border fences and legislated discrimination
In case you've been under a rock, Arizona's state legislature passed a bill (SB 1062) allowing any business to refuse service to people based on any religious reason. Initially schemed as a way to let businesses refuse to interact with the gays, it has repercussions for anyone that a business owner or employee takes issue with.

For example:
- don't like Muslims or Sihks or Jews or Mormons, discriminate.
- don't like single mothers (because you are now allowed to assume whatever you want about their sexual activities and that might upset your religion), discriminate.
- don't like tattoos or piercings because it says something in the Bible, discriminate.
- insert any other possible reason that could be even loosely tied to something religious, discriminate.

Go ahead. The law says you can totes do that now.

The bill is sitting on Governor Jan Brewer's desk, and there is all kinds of speculation about what she will do with it. Good common sense would force her to veto it, even if her inclination would be to sign it otherwise. It's bad business, it won't stand up to legal challenges and it is making her entire state look like it's run by bigoted assholes.

Since the bill was signed, three Republicans who voted for it (totally along party lines, might I add) have said they wish they hadn't voted for it. WELL THAT'S JUST GREAT NOW THANKS. If you three had done the right thing before, it wouldn't have passed. You don't get a do-over because the media made you look like an ass. I mean,'s possible they really saw the error in their ways....and I suppose we should give them the benefit of the doubt.

Those state Senators are Adam Driggs, Steve Pierce and Bob Worsley.  I put asterisks by their names. Everyone else who voted for it still thinks it's a good sound law. Who voted for it, you ask? I'm actually going to tell you here in a second.

History will not look kindly on those attempting to legislate discrimination, and just because it's fun and because I can, these are the names of the elected officials who voted for this bill in Arizona. (I'm totally making this a thing for as long as states try to pass shitty laws like this one.)

The way I see it, if you're going to vote for something like this, you'd better have the balls to stand behind that vote.

This will go down on your permanent record. For reals.

Nancy Barton
Andy Biggs
Judy Burges
Chester Crandell
Adam Driggs *
David Farnsworth
Gail Griffin
John McComish
Al Melvin
Rick Murphy
Steve Pierce *
Michele Reagan
Don Shooter
Kelly Ward
Bob Worsley *
Steve Yarbrough
Kimberly Yee

John Allen
Brenda Barton
Sonny Borelli
Paul Boyer
Doug Coleman
Jeff Dial
Karen Fann
Eddie Farnsworth
Thomas Forese
Doris Goodale
David Gowan
Rick Gray 
John Kavanagh
Adam Kwasman
Debbie Lesko
David Livingston
Phil Lovas
Darin Mitchell
Steve Montenegro
Justin Olsen
Warren Petersen
Justin Pierce 
Frank Pratt
Bob Robson
Carl Seel
T.J. Shope
Steve Smith
David Stevens
Bob Thorpe
Andy Tobin
Kelly Townsend
Michele Ugenti

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Donna Day 2014


This beautiful girl who has touched the hearts and minds of millions of people all over the world.

Today, that world that she has touched comes together through the wonder of the internet to raise money in her memory for the disease that took her, cancer.

Though I never had the honor and privilege to meet this little girl, though I didn't even have the good fortune to come to know her mother, Mary Tyler Mom, until years after she was gone, she has made an impact on my life.

Mary Tyler Mom lost that beautiful girl to cancer in 2009, and if you haven't read the story, I urge you to do so.  She chronicled the entire journey, sharing the reality of this disease with the world, and the stories were featured on the Huffington Post.  You can find her entire story here.

Here is a glimpse into the shining little light we celebrate today, Donna.

Last year, I participated in this outreach effort along with several other bloggers, all raising money for St. Baldrick's. I cut off over a foot of my own hair that day in the hopes that it would spur others to donate to the cause.

This year, the number of participants has grown even more.

We have an opportunity to do something amazing here today, my friends.

The goal of Donna Day is to raise money for St. Baldrick's, an organization that funds childhood cancer research.  The charity that Mary Tyler Mom started in her daughter's memory, Donna's Good Things, is sponsoring a head shaving event in Chicago on March 29th.

The team page has a link to donate directly, and you can find it here.

The statistics on childhood cancers are sobering, even more so when you realize how poorly funded the research on them is currently.

  • More US children will die from cancer than any other disease, or many other diseases combined;
  • Before the age of 20, 1 in 300 boys and 1 in 333 girls will be diagnosed with cancer;
  • worldwide, a child is diagnosed ever three minutes;
  • the cure rate for the most common form of pediatric cancer, ALL leukemia, is as high as 90%, but most other childhood cancers do not have that success rate, e.g., brain tumors have a 50/50 cure rate, and some, like DIPG, are known to be fatal with no known treatment or cure;
  • 73% of kids who survive their cancer will have chronic health problems as a result of their treatment and 42% will suffer severe or life-threatening conditions like secondary cancers.  
Childhood cancer research is woefully underfunded, amounting to only 4% of the National Cancer Institute funding.  Some organizations like the American Cancer Society spend less than 1% on children's cancers.  

We've made huge strides in treating breast cancer and many other adult cancers.  The FDA approves new cancer drugs all the time, but only one new cancer treatment drug has been approved for use in children in the last 30 years.


St. Baldrick's raises money exclusively for childhood cancer research. In the past two years, the outpouring of love and support for Donna's Day has raised $195,000! Even donations of $5 and $10 add up quickly if we can spread the word enough.  

There are superhero t-shirt available this year to purchase as a fundraiser as well. They can be purchased here. 

Give for all the children you know whose lives have been touched by cancer.

Give for all the children all over the world fighting this disease.

Give for all the children who may not get to celebrate another birthday.

Give for Donna. 

Thank you all. 

Choose hope.

Always choose hope.

Monday, February 24, 2014

On raising adolescents...

She stands nervously fidgeting, unsure of what to expect.

Her head, a whirlwind of thoughts and feelings and newness and novelty.

So much has changed, and yet there is so much change to come.

She steps away from me, edging out into the world a little at a time, always looking back to make sure I am still there.

Some days it is all too much, managing these ever changing friendships and navigating a world where boys like her and she likes them.

Some days she wants it all to just stop, she wants to curl up beside me. Some days she wants to stay little and she wants to just be.

Some days she urges it all forward, eager for whatever comes next.

Starting to become more aware of her place in this world, she is. Her passions, her loves, she clings to them.

Relics of childhood gathered and clutched.

Bits of independence folded seamlessly into the mix.

I see her across the room, often wondering where the time went. In my head and heart she is still that little girl hiding behind my leg, refusing to make eye contact with the rest of the world, with the infectious giggle and curly blond pigtails.

I watch her reconnect with the friends she hasn't spent enough time with lately. Diverging interests already splitting them from who they've always known. And yet, the comfort is there, the smiles ease onto their faces as though all this time hasn't past and nothing has changed. Familiar, they are. Comfortable. Pieces of who she was and who she is now.

They are all part of the story of her.

And then I catch a glimpse of who she is today, who she is becoming, who she wants to be. I try not to intrude, I try to give her space, I try to trust her to make good choices. I linger, but far enough away.

I linger, because every so often, she still scans the room for me.

She has always been my cautious one, always testing the waters and then testing them again.

My girl, my beautiful girl, teetering on the edge, stuck between childhood and whatever comes after, being pulled in every direction.

She does it with grace, she does it with kindness, almost all the time.

There are moments of conflict, of course there must be. I know there will be more.

I just hope that she knows that whenever her eyes are looking for me, I'll be there, just far enough away, waiting and watching as she maneuvers her way through the chaos of adolescence.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl.

I love you.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Mom Shaming Is A Thing Now?

Does anyone else feel constantly disappointed in humanity these days? I fight my propensity to be cynical with every ounce in my being at times, but there is just such an abundance of "I'm so offended right now" in this world that it is an uphill, often losing, battle.

Something that seems to be getting worse every day to me are the mommy wars. I'm not talking about the wars about whether it is better to work or stay home (let's all just assume, incorrectly, I might add, that every mother is ever afforded that choice in the first place), it isn't about whether formula is perfectly fine or breastfeeding is right. It's not about the usual suspects, this most recent war.


This war is about cupcakes.


I'm not kidding.

The newest variety of the mom war has Pinterest written all over it, accented with handmade bows and custom outfits.

Let me explain.

Some people are crafty. Some people were born crafty. Some people become crafty when they have kids. Some people actually enjoy making 50 cupcake toppers and coming up with awesome decorations for parties. Some people actually bend over backwards to make special cakes and adorable invitations. Some people loathe it but do it anyway because they want to do it for their kids.

An actual cake I made. Haters gonna hate.
Some people can't do it, either because they just aren't crafty or don't have the time/energy/extra money to drop on making tiny cupcake flags. Some people buy cakes from the store and packaged invitations and their kids have amazing birthday parties. Some people keep celebrations small and at home. Some people forget until the day of, then hustle to get it together at the last minute. Some people always forget goody bags. (totally raising my hand on several here)

Why does what someone else does or doesn't do for their kids have anything to do with your parenting?

It shouldn't.

It doesn't, in reality. It quite literally has nothing to do with you.

It does, though, or at least it seems that way, because every time I see a friend post something kickass she did for her kids on the book of face, someone has to come along and crap all over it.

It seems like someone always has to tell this mom who is just doing something cool for her kid that she is making the comment leaver feel inadequate as a mother.


You've seen it.

Why does my kid's birthday cake make you feel inadequate?

How does anything I do in my family have an affect on your self-worth?

It shouldn't. This isn't a contest. There is no winner for best-mom-ever, but there are definitely losers...and as long as we're comparing ourselves to each other, we are all losers.

I've written before about this, about how I truly believe that we are all different as mothers. We all kick ass at something, we all go way over the top when it comes to our kids about something. Whether your something is birthday cakes or homemade pancakes or notes in lunches or bedtime rituals or whatever it is - we all are totally awesome at something.

And we all suck at something. There is some aspect of parenting that we all hate, that we all loathe with every ounce of our beings. There is something that no matter how many times we have tried, we are terrible at.

And it is all okay.


We live in a world now where the response to feeling inadequate about our parenting because of what someone else shares on Facebook or Pinterest has resulted in mom shaming, hence the comments being left on all things awesome. It's even gone so far that mom fails are now a thing.

And they are. We all screw up. We should be as willing to admit the times we forget about a lost baby tooth or yelled at a kid purely out of frustration or tried that new Pinterest recipe and it was an abysmal failure as we are about the things we did right.

But that isn't how social media works. Social media, for most people, is a platform for the shiny and happy and perfect and positive. All that is great, this is true, but the shiny and happy and perfect and positive is only part of the story of our lives as parents.

And none of it has anything to do with anyone else.

I joked (sort of) yesterday about how I am starting to feel like I need to make a gigantic IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU sign and staple it to my forehead.

We, as a society, and especially as the mothers of the children of the next generation, have got to stop taking everything so goddamn personally. We have to stop believing that what anyone else does is a reflection on our triumphs or failures as people, as mothers. We have to stop making other women feel as though the things they do for their kids make us feel bad.

We have to stop.

Because it is not about us. It never was about us, it was about their child. For the love. We don't get to insist that it is about us simply because it makes us feel bad.

There is a moral imperative here. An absolute crisis of conscience going on, and it's one that we are modeling for our children. We need to support each other, celebrate the gifts of our friends, support one another when things aren't shiny and happy and perfect and positive.

We need to stop making other women feel bad when they have done something they should be proud of, something special for their families, something important for their children.

And we need to do it now.

I'll make my ridiculous birthday cakes. You do whatever your thing is. We can high five each other instead of snarking, honest.

Let's do that instead.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a Princess Celestia My Little Pony Rainbow cake to make....

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thursday Nerdsday - Cards Against Humanity

I'm taking a much needed break from the ranting and the frustration today to tell you about my most favorite inappropriate party game.

When I say it is inappropriate, I'm understating. Vastly.

For real.

I was waiting to write about this one because they just overhauled their entire distribution system. You used to be able to pick it up at game stores, but it is now an Amazon exclusive. Once it all got figured out, the price dropped back to where it should be. For a while, people were charging over $60 for this little black box of cards.

Four things.

1. Still would have been worth it at $60.
2. It's $25 now, which is way better.
3. I was already Amazon's bitch, so this works for me.
4. You can make your own version on their website for free.

This is it. Well, the original version, anyway.

The tagline on the box reads "A party game for horrible people". It's true. Lord, is it true. If you don't start out the game being a horrible person, you will become one quickly.

There are rules, though at some point no one will pay attention to them anymore at all because your ribs will be hurting from laughing so damn hard. You will feel great shame for laughing at the things you laugh at.

Here's how you play. You need at least three people to play. Pee first and pee often. Having adult beverages handy helps lighten the mood quickly. This is not a game for children. Or prudes. I'm totally not kidding on that last one. 

There are white cards and black cards. The black cards contain the first half of the sentence or the question, the white cards contain possible options for the second half of the sentence or the answer. They are all wildly inappropriate.

To begin, each player draws 10 white cards.

One player reads the black card. Then every remaining player chooses one white card from their hand to submit for judging. You want the most outlandish, most inappropriate, most hilarious combination of cards. The reader of the black card takes the submissions and randomly reads them aloud to the entire crowd, then deems one card the most hilariously awful and therefore the winner. That person gets the black card, then the next player reads a black card and so on. Always keep your white card hand size at 10.

Whenever you decide you're done playing or everyone in the room has peed their pants, the player with the most black cards wins, not that anyone cares.

Everyone wins with this one. It is that funny.

Here is an example of a black card with submitted white cards. This one is mild.

From The Game Aisle's review
I'd have to go with the bleached asshole on this one, but that's just me.

The more people you have playing and the greater the amount of time spent hyperventilating, the longer the game will take. No one will mind. You will cry actual tears at some point and your abs will be sore the next day.

This isn't a game for the faint of heart or those with weak bladders.

It is, however, amazing.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Why Science is So Damned Important

Before I get into the meat of this post, let me preface what I am about to say with a few disclaimers.

1. I freaking love science. Always have, always will. Shoulda been a marine biologist. True story.

2. I don't intend for this to turn into a debate, but if the shoe fits...I'm game.

Not my card, but it works.
3. I am concerned, very concerned....

This is a topic that I've been meaning to write about for a good long time now, and to be honest it is so broad with so many issues that there is no way that I'll be able to discuss most of them. I'm hoping to at least gloss over the major issues that concern me the most, and might write about some more of them in more depth in the future.

One of the precipitating factors in the conjuring of this post was the debate about creationism and evolution that happened recently between Bill Nye and Ken Ham. I watched the whole thing, which was a bit of a challenge while making dinner and helping kids with homework, but I wanted to see it myself before I could make any sort of commentary on what transpired.

Because that is how things are supposed to are supposed to form opinions about issues only after being presented with all the evidence from all sides...

Anyhow, I watched it and ended up writing a piece about the debate for Lefty Pop. I wrote it there because I knew my propensity would be to over analyze the hell out of it and turn it into a long post if I touched it here. Over there, I have to work very hard to condense my words, and so that's where I did it. You can read the post here if you haven't already.

The debate was concerning enough, the idea that there is a group of people wholly unwilling to accept scientific truth, entirely reliant on the Bible as though it is now or was ever intended to be the factual basis for anything. As Nye himself said, and the reason for his agreement to do the debate in the first place was, what adults want to believe is's the children he is concerned about. I agree with him absolutely.

I agree with him because we are already struggling as a nation when it comes to science education. We are already losing our edge when it comes to our ability to compete internationally in innovation and the development of new technologies.

Our education system has become increasingly obsessed with objective measures of knowledge, and has insisted on legislating how to teach from the top down, often by people with no actual experience in the classroom. We worry so much about literacy, and yet find ourselves struggling even more there now than in the past. In the meantime, we have sacrificed math, science and all extra curriculars at the altar of literacy. The experiment is failing. It is failing our children, it is failing our families, and it is failing our society as a whole.

We have sacrificed everything else for reading and writing, but are churning out a generation of kids who can barely put together coherent sentences, let alone tell you what a covalent bond or confidence interval is.

We need a reboot. Desperately.

We need science. Now more than ever.

The danger, to me, in the Nye/Ham debate isn't how the universe started, which was the point of the debate in the first place. The danger, to me, is in the refusal to see evidence of evolution that exists right now in this space and time. The danger is in discounting the very real changes that are happening in viruses and bacteria that already are presenting threats to the lives of humans in current time. Things that we used to be able to understand and treat are mutating, evolving, surviving our only arsenal of weapons against them. To just deny that is happening isn't only a silly debate to me, it's dangerous.

Deniers seem to be all the rage these days, though. Climate change is one of the greatest debates raging in the political world currently, which begs the question of why science that almost every climatologist in the world agrees on ever became fodder for political debate in the first place. Why are we debating science? Why do we think we can?

If you haven't seen it, you should watch Bill Nye and Marsha Blackburn on Meet the Press from last weekend. It makes my head hurt to think that she is an elected official.

Easy. It's easier to deny it. It's easier to wave it off as speculative. It's easier to say that there is no possible way that human involvement is speeding up the process, because if we believe that, then we have no incentive to change how we do business...and that is the crux of this faux debate - business.

Business wants to make money. Corporations are legal fictions that exist to make money. Period. They do not exist to serve the public interest. They do not exist to serve public health. They do not exist to serve the environment. They do not exist to serve the world as a whole. They don't even exist to serve our nation. They exist to serve their shareholders. They exist to make money.

Politicians anymore exist to serve corporations, not the people.

The quickest way to make a buck isn't going to be the cleanest, the safest, the more environmentally conscious.

Why do you think we don't have fully operational electric cars yet? Why do you think the water in West Virginia was contaminated for weeks after the plant hadn't even been inspected in years? Why do you think wells are being erected at a record pace all over the country in every place a shale deposit exists?


It's not because the corporations give a damn about what happens 10 years from now or 100 years from now. It's because they want to make money, they want to make money the fastest way possible, they want to extract fossil fuels from the earth the fastest way possible, refine them the fastest way, and they need to keep us totally dependent on them.

The fluids used in fracking aren't even public information because the industry has convinced regulators that the information is proprietary. Never mind that they may be contaminating ground water and air. Never mind that they may be creating seismic activity in areas that had very little before.

The Weather Channel just released a huge collaboration on the effects of fracking in Texas. It is well worth the read, particularly if you live in an area of the nation obsessed with drilling, as I do.

The regulators of many industries are people who either work in the industry themselves or who reside so far down in the pockets of the industry that they can't see their way out. Biased regulation isn't regulation, and it certainly isn't safe.

Instead of actually studying the short and long term environmental impacts, instead of worrying about public health, instead of doing their jobs, the talking heads we the people elected are just denying these issues exist at all.

They aren't doing their jobs. Instead, they are pretending to be experts in areas they know nothing about and calling the actual experts liars.

As if the time and energy wasted on denying climate change and the dangers of industry aren't enough, we should also be very worried about the knowledge base of the average people here in the US.

A study came out last week that 1 in 4 US adults believes that the sun revolves around the Earth. 1 in 4. I read that aloud to my husband, and in his generally skeptical way, he questioned the validity of the study, mused about who the population sample was.

It was a study by the National Science Foundation.


Are we really this uneducated? Are we really this ignorant? This can't be true. Can it?

There were more questions in the study, and our collective answers are compared to other nations here. It's not pretty, I promise.

Then again, as we learned in the wake of the creationism debate, 46% of the population believes in the Book of Genesis - that God created the universe and everything in it in 7 days. Carbon dating, evidence of the big bang, evidence of trees and ice on the Earth many more thousands of years older than the Book of Genesis tells us....all means nothing.

This should be terrifying to all of us.

Incidentally, this should not be taken as me saying that religion and science cannot coexist. I absolutely believe they can and do coexist, for the simple fact that even if you subscribe entirely to the Big Bang Theory, as I do...something had to start it all. The matter had to come from somewhere. Mayim Bialik was on Real Time with Bill Maher last week. The woman, an actual certifiable genius, said the same - that there is no conflict between her religion and her foundation in science.

They aren't mutually exclusive, as much as people may want to simplify it. They can exist in harmony.

When people labor under the delusion that they can't coexist, or that science is bullshit, people die. Children die. Children like Kent Schiable, who died of pneumonia because his parents believed prayer would save him.

Prayer didn't save him. Antibiotics might have.

This is a matter of life or death. If we keep slacking on science education, we'll all pay the price eventually.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the WTF Florida, antitrust violations, resurrected Lewinsky, football bullies and gay actresses edition

Usually, I have a decent amount of things to mention in these TTPMOT posts. This week, there is an much so that I have taken entire groups of things out to write separate stand alone posts about later on this week.

That much stuff.

Off we go.

Florida's Pro-Murder Assbackwardsness
On my mind more than any other news story this week, the sick and twisted most recent case of a murder of a child in Florida. The fact that most of the major news sites are running it is as the "loud music trial" is prejudicial and just flat wrong. There was a person killed, it was a murder trial, and the victim's name was Jordan Davis.

In the case, a drunk white man with a history of being a bigot pulls into a convenience store parking lot, gets offended that a car full of kids is playing loud "thug" music, somehow becomes afraid for his life even though none of them exits the vehicle, grabs his handgun (that he has a concealed permit for) and unloads 10 rounds into the car, 3 of them when the car was actually fleeing. Yes, he kept shooting after they tried to leave. None of them were armed.

Instead of alerting the authorities, he went back to his hotel room, poured a few more drinks, ordered pizza and took his dog for a walk. Since he has been in jail, the letters he's written to his daughters include things like, This jail is full of blacks and they all act like thugs.… This may sound a bit radical, but if more people would arm themselves and kill these fucking idiots when they’re threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior.”

What in the actual fuck????

He was tried for first degree murder of Jordan and also charged with attempted murder and shooting into a vehicle. The jury hung on the murder charge but convicted on everything else. Logically, I'm not wrapping my head around how he is guilty for shooting and not killing the other three guys in the car, but they couldn't agree he was guilty for shooting and killing the one person he actually killed. 

At least the jury hung and that charge can be retried. He faces up to 60 years as is for the convictions he already received. (That is quite literally the only positive thing I can say about the outcome.)

Florida's asinine "stand your ground" law needs repealed. Kids are dying. Paranoid people carrying weapons have been give carte blanche to commit murder. 

Whatever happened to antitrust laws?
Ahhh, America. The land of entepreneurship and capitalism in its infancy, now struggling to wade through huge multinational corporate control of more and more and more industries.

The latest one to be sullied by a patent lack of competition and total market dominance - cable. Not just cable, because cable isn't just cable anymore. They are the main providers of internet service and oh yeah by the way they are content providers too now.

This should bother you if it doesn't. I can promise you that.

Here's the thing, you guys.

We have antitrust laws for a reason. To encourage competition. To protect both consumers and the market from abuse of market share. To foster development and innovation.

Oh, but wait.

We don't need to be bothered with things like that anymore. Antitrust, schmantitrust. Chuck Schumer, Senate Democrat and member of the antitrust subcommittee supports the merger. Of course he does. Time Warner gave him more money than any other candidate the last time he ran in 2010 and his brother is in on the deal. 

We do elect them to do the bidding of huge corporations even if it hurts us and destroys competition, right???

She's baaaaaaack
The geniuses vying for the GOP spot on the presidential ticket have already pulled out all the stops in the campaign to destroy Hilary, but the most recent tactic even has Mitt Romney shaking his head. 

For serious. When Romney is all dude, you guys, that's not cool....maybe you should listen.

What could be so horribly bad that even he is defending Hilary?

Easy. Rand Paul has said that he's not above dragging out the Monica Lewinsky case to use against her in the election.

I wish I was kidding.

He's worse than a woman scorned bringing up the distant past, which oh yeah by the way, I'm fairly certain that Hilary had no part of. The affair was between Bill and Monica, not some bizarre Oval Office cigar laced three way.

AND EVEN IF IT WAS....why would that fucking matter? How many leaders of the GOP have cheated on their wives repeatedly? I don't think any of them have faced impeachment proceedings for it....

This is an old story that had nothing to do with Hilary, Rand. Get over yourself.

If you want to attack her, just talk about Benghazi 24/7. Oh already did that too.

Hi. My name is Rand Paul. I like to beat dead horses.

For the love.

Just a little racist bullying in the NFL, NBD
So, the case of Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito and the Miami Dolphins is over and done with, right? Just a little razzing by well-meaning teammates, right? This happens all the time, right? Martin was totally fine with it all, right?

This is what the NFL is all about, right?


All the forced apologies and shrugged shoulders and shucks, it's not so bad interviews from a while back were bullshit.

In the past week, the actual effect the bullying has on Jonathan has come to light through messages to and from his parents that were released. The guy, clearly a sensitive soul to begin with, was being crushed by the taunts and racial epithets thrown at him, they were eating away at his self worth and making him question whether he belonged in the league at all.

He fell rapidly into depression.

The messages are heartbreaking to say the least. You can read them all here. 

This is what bullying does to people.



Imagine being a 13 or 14 year old kid and living through what he did or an 8 or 9 year old kid, then being encouraged to act like it wasn't a big deal, like it was all fine, and smile for photo ops with the guys who were tormenting you.

There is no gay agenda
The "gay agenda" was invented by conservative Christians, not by the LGBT community. That should tell you everything you need to know about it.

It seems that the closer we get to achieving any semblance of equality in this nation, the more threatened people on the fringes are. As a fierce advocate for equality myself, this bothers me in some ways but amuses me in others.

It amuses me because it often appears like a bunch of toddlers throwing a fit because they aren't getting their way, so they start to get desperate and become willing to do anything that will get them attention.

Marriage equality, along with protection against discrimination, isn't a tool being used to manipulate society, much to the dismay of those who want to insist that it is. It is a basic and fundamental human rights issue. No more, no less.

There is no agenda. There is no recruiting going on. This is not contagious.

Not a single LGBT person I know honestly gives a shit whether a total stranger likes them or not, whether they approve of their life or not.

They just want to be seen as equal human beings in the eyes of the law with all the same rights and protections. They want to be insulated from discrimination and inequality.

You'll never be able to make me understand how a person can say that someone else being treated as an equal in the eyes of the law is a threat to their way of life.

You'll never be able to explain to me the inconsistency inherent in a person who simultaneously claims that their religious freedom is being infringed while they actively suppress the freedoms of others on the precise religious grounds they claim are being infringed. It's a logical fallacy.

Ellen Page, Michael Sam. Their coming out in the last weeks has been news because it is news and it will remain news for as long as homophobia exists. Until LGBT people no longer feel compelled to come out, until they no longer have to declare who they are to the world, until they are just accepted as equals, until they are seen as equals under the law, it will be news.

No agenda. Just a fight for fairness.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The (occasionally annoying) inherent value of siblings

I can always count on my brother to keep me honest.

For real.

The irony comes in where he pretends he doesn't read what I write, but then asks about something I wrote.

He is always, always, always the first one to call me out when I do something stupid, when I say something I shouldn't, when I write something that contradicts something I wrote before.

He is the king of leaving and then deleting comments on my Facebook page. I wonder sometimes if he even means for me to see them, he does it so fast. Usually I do see them, and they usually are right on about some aspect of something I overlooked or glossed over or neglected to talk about.

I should tell you this. We couldn't be further apart in how we see the world if we tried, him and I. We rarely agree on much, but we learned a long time ago how to talk about anything and not get stabby. We respect each other's perspectives. We understand that we see the world a different way. We accept it all.

That part, the acceptance piece, is huge.

I don't think it happened, if I am being honest, entirely, until our father was sick.

Incidentally, if you read here often, you know that I usually write about my father's illness and death as though it occurred in some bizarre only child vacuum. There's a reason, and the reason is that my brother hates it when I write about him, so I usually try not to.

Yet, I'm doing it today anyway.

I'm doing it now because there is this piece of who we are that is cool and weird and seems way too grown up and mature.

It's the acceptance part.

It goes a bit like this, and I've tried to explain it to people, but I sense that it might be something you have to live to understand. Anyhow...when our father was ill, I was here, a thousand miles away and my brother was there. In the same town. In the same place. At their house almost every single day.

We necessarily had a different experience with it all as a result. For a while, we were frustrated with each other. It's easier to cast blame on someone else for whatever you think their shortcomings are when they aren't physically in the same space you are. It's easier to believe whatever stories you've been told when you aren't privy to living it first hand. It's easier to get angry about what the other person is or isn't doing when they are too far away to really know.

Having sick parents is stressful. Having dying parents is stressful. Having parents with mental health issues is stressful. Having parents who refuse to take care of themselves is stressful.

Having to deal with all that while living your life, dealing with your spouse and children magnifies everything.

Being stuck in the generational sandwich can suck it.

At some point though, though, we had this moment. It probably happened when our father was in the ICU the first time about a year before his death. When my brother and I were in the same physical space long enough to see that the other one of us was doing the best we could with the information we had, the frustration disappeared.

We realized that neither of us had any idea what the other one was dealing with. We realized that we had to honor the role of the other one, that we had to talk to each other more and rely on what anyone else told us less. We understood that we each had different gifts and abilities and patience levels. We knew then that we could help both of our parents better if we were a team.

From that point on, things were just different for us. Better.

No more bickering. No more animosity. No more resentment.

Isn't that the kind of relationship that siblings should have, eventually anyway? They are, after all, the only people in the entire universe who came from the same place we did. They are the only people who could ever possibly understand the crazy things we were subjected to as kids, why we are the way we are.

They are the best able to understand us.

They are the most equipped to tell us when we're derailing our lives.

They are the usually first ones in line to tell us we're wrong.

And that's all okay, or at least it can be if we go about it the right way.

He called me on something this week, and he was right. He was absolutely right.

In the post I wrote on the anniversary of our father's death, I gave mention to feeling manipulated in the past by my mother and her incessant need for everything to be worse for her. She really did spend a lot of time minimizing our grief, and I can tell you that it gets old in a hurry.

He sent me a message the following morning, after clearly not reading the post (wink, wink), saying that if I truly believe, as I do, that she suffered from intractable mental health problems, then I can't blame her for being the way she was.

And he was right.

I can't blame her. I don't blame her, though it may have seemed that I was doing just that to a casual reader. I don't blame her. I don't want it to seem like I did or do.

Death is so weird that way. I feel like I have to make everything about them in the past tense now, and that just seems so wrong. Anyway...

As I told him when he pointed out my flawed reasoning, or at least the way I had presented it, my response was this:

Yeah, I know she didn't intend to do it...
but that doesn't make it hurt us less.

And therein lies the inherent value of siblings.

They know exactly what that means.

No matter how horrible this journey has been,






For that gift, given to me by my parents, I will be eternally grateful.

Friday, February 14, 2014

What Love Is...

Ahhhh, Valentine's Day.

The day that we are told is filled with promises of exquisite jewelry, bouquets of extravagant flowers, wining and dining at the finest of restaurants.

That's what the commercials want us to believe, anyway.

In real life for us, it means lobster and steak cooked at home, eaten in a candlelit dining room after the kids have gone to bed as the dishwasher hums in the background.

There is no new jewelry, except perhaps the most recent bracelet crafted on the Rainbow Loom.

If there are flowers, they come directly from the grocery store, though in all likelihood, the flowers were skipped because we understand that the same flowers that were $10 yesterday and will be $10 tomorrow are $30 today. We've grown too practical to throw money away on frivolous things.

Besides, lobster was on sale, and we all know that is a better use of the money.

There might be a card, if we remember, though at some point we gave up on them too. Seeking out an overpriced piece of paper holding words that are only tangentially relevant to our love seems like a waste of time anymore. There isn't a card that fits us now. Perhaps there never really was, we just wanted to believe that we could fit into the tiny boxes society told us we were supposed to.

Love, real love, isn't about flowers or chocolate or jewelry or fancy dinners.

Real love is nights spent cuddled under blankets on the couch until you fall asleep.

Real love is a call on the way home to ask if you need anything at the store.

Real love is flowers on an ordinary Tuesday just because.

Real love is bringing you a roll of toilet paper when you are trapped in the bathroom.

Real love is asking if you are okay before laughing at how you got hurt.

Real love is shoveling the driveway.

Real love is letting her cry.

Real love is pacing in a waiting room.

Real love is being vulnerable again.

Real love is saying sorry.

Real love is second chances.

Real love is messy.

Real love is beautiful.

Real love is the everyday pieces of who we are, what we do for one another, the unspoken things woven in the tapestry of this connection between two people.

Real love isn't one day.

Real love isn't one moment.

Real love is the spaces in between.

Happy Valentine's Day, my friends.

Mr. Hive, I love you.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thursday Nerdsday ~ DC Comics Deck Building Game

Hi. I haven't done one of these in a while, and a lot of stuff has happened around here that I haven't written about so I figured it was well past time to revisit Nerdsday.

For those of you new to the Hive, an introduction might be in order. I'm a nerd. Always have been, though I spent a good portion of my life actively suppressing it (poorly, I might add). I love so many things in the Nerdiverse that I wouldn't even know where to begin.

This probably explains a bit of it.

And this.

I love superheroes and sci-fi and fiction and The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones and table games and Doctor Who and Sherlock and lots and lots of other things.

Anyhow, Thursday is the day where I (occasionally) tell you about something I love in the Nerdiverse.

I have a lot of new material to write about because we acquired a lot of new games in the past few months, including my husband's current obsession, Pathfinder, Rise of the Runelords, which is a card game version of Pathfinder. I will write about that one for next time though, unless Cards Against Humanity wins the battle in my head for priority.

I did get my own set of dice for Pathfinder though, so maybe....

Anyhow, this week, I wanted to write about the game we have played the most as a family since we bought it - DC Comics Deck-Building Game.

Though I adore all things Ironman and Loki, my loyalty will probably always lie with DC over Marvel. I can't say why, really, that is just the way it is. There is a Marvel version of the game as well, which I am sure will somehow magically find a way into our cabinets eventually.

In this game, each player chooses a hero to play as. Each hero in the deck has a different ability, which comes in handy throughout the game as long as one thing happens: you remember who you are and what your ability is. Easier said than done, especially if you change heroes each time.

I always play as Wonder Woman. I know this comes as a shock to you.

After choosing heroes, each player is dealt 10 cards to begin the game with. Starter cards are either worth 1 point or 0, and you use those points to acquire new cards throughout the game, adding them to your deck. You play five cards each round, unless the cards you have allow for more.

To acquire new cards, take the cards in your hand and add up the purchase points. Many cards (and some heroes) alter this number, so be sure to stay on top of it. Location cards often allow for an extra card to be drawn. Use those points to acquire cards in the line-up.

In addition to the main deck line-up to pull from, there are also Kick cards - which give you two additional points every time they show up in your hand and Supervillians - which each have their own set of powers.

The game ends when the stack of Supervillains has been defeated or when the entire main deck is exhausted.

Depending on who your hero is, as you play through the rounds, you may focus on acquiring heros, powers, equipment or villains. Wonder Woman seeks villains, as they increase her hand size every time one is acquired.

The winner of the game is the player who tallies up the most star points at the end of the game, which are different than both the cost of the card or the playing value, minus the number of weaknesses they pick up along the way. (Unless you have Bizarro. Bizarro is pretty kick ass.) It's a little tricky the first few rounds keeping all the values straight, but you will get the hang of it and learn the strategy of your hero quickly.

The game is labeled for ages 15 and up, but my three older children can play it without any problems. Our 8 year old has won the game more than once.

It takes approximately one hour to set up and play the game start to finish, though it might take a bit longer the first time until everyone feels comfortable with the rules.

If you dress as your hero, the game is infinitely more entertaining.

Just a suggestion.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Set it on fire

I spent a good long time yesterday pouring out my soul in a piece that may never be published. I do that a lot, actually. Sometimes they get edited and posted. Sometimes I just hit the delete button and never look back. Sometimes I enlist the help of trusted friends for guidance and wisdom.

Sometimes I write it just because I need to get the words out, like the proverbial letter scratched out in anger and frustration and sadness then set aflame and tossed ceremoniously in a wastebasket.

I think this one needs to be set on fire.

These things, the hardest ones to write about, sometimes I am not ready to let them out yet. Not here, anyway. I try to always be cognizant of the affect my words might have on others. Even if it will carry some benefit for someone out there reading, I have to worry first about protecting myself, protecting my children. I don't have to protect my parents anymore, but I still need to shield my kids.

This is one of the pieces that could bring with it ramifications. Not horrible ones, but some nonetheless. It contains too many of my truths in one place. Too much of my past. Things I still haven't really worked through myself.

Maybe someday I will be ready. I don't know. This one might stay away from the public forever.

There is so much that you all don't know about me. This piece I wrote, it is one of the parts of me that even most of my best friends in the world don't know about. One of the things that I still carry shame and regret about, though I am trying to forgive myself.

Even with all that, the lesson it all taught me was it was one of the most important I have learned in my life thus far, one that I carry with me every day, one that keeps me writing about the things that people don't always want to read about. A lesson that literally took me twenty years to learn.

I don't always want to write about the hard stuff, but I do it anyway.

Sometimes I don't really have a choice. It comes out or it eats away at my soul.

Making people uncomfortable is my thing, after all. I talk about the truths and the realities that we would rather live without seeing. The things we would rather deny. The things we would rather ignore. The things we would rather rationalize.

Sometimes, though, even I can't do it.

I can't hit the publish button.

I had coffee with someone new yesterday, someone that I met through this bizarre online world, someone that began the day a stranger and ended the day a friend.

She could see it.

My internal conflict, almost constant in my head. Sometimes it comes out here. Sometimes I'm elusive about it all, sometimes I lay it all out for the world to see. The conflict, though, is almost always there.

Thus is the life of a writer. 

If you do it long enough, you end up writing about all of the things. The menial, the mundane, the boring and bland. You write about the important, the significant, the controversial, the real. You write about the truth and the lies, the pain and the loss.

Then there are all the things you keep inside. The stories untold, the secrets kept, the times that you want nothing more than to shout it from the rooftop, but you won't allow it.

You refrain.

I sense that the writers out there will know exactly what I'm talking about, particularly the ones who have been at this long enough to have been sitting where I am right now, staring at the words running across the screen as they come screaming out.

The writers will know what I mean when I talk about the absolute therapeutic value in letting the words out, even just to ourselves, even if no one else ever sees them.

The writers out there will understand what I mean when I say that the words just need to be set on fire.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday ~ the fake news-biggest loser-grape soda-racist-we don't really know anything-you go Michael Sam edition

Okay you guys, there is a lot to cover this week, so I won't bother with an introduction. Off we go.

News That Isn't News
Welcome to the USA, land of fluffy stories on television cleverly disguised as news. I won't say which network it is, but one of the locals has started running an ad that says something along the lines of bringing you the news that you want to see. 

Well. Um. That's not news. News is news, actual reporting of events and stories and relevance. It is the good, the bad and ugly, even if the people at home get uncomfortable. The role of the news isn't to make us happy, to keep us content and complacent, to tell us what we want to hear. It is supposed to provide us with information we can't get anywhere else.

Instead, these days, to get the actual news stories that are important, not just locally but on a global level, we have to actively seek it out. I can't count on the networks, any of them, to do solid objective reporting anymore. It seems that everything is spun and then either sugarcoated or sensationalized, depending on whether this news channel just wants to make us feel better or wants to get us riled up.

That isn't news. What the hell happened?

I shouldn't have to watch BBC to get real news.

The Biggest Loser Drama
I'll preface what I am about to say by telling you all (again) that I avoid almost every reality show currently being produced. I like writing and scripts and can't stand the genre of reality shows for the most part. The Biggest Loser has always been my least favorite of them all for the simple fact that weight shouldn't be a game show.

We have a nation with issues when it comes to weight and nutrition and exercise at both ends of the spectrum. Rising obesity rates, recess and physical education being cut at school, increasing rates of preventable disease on one hand, eating disorders on the other. I've been on both ends. It's not fun either way, let me tell you.

The show, in my opinion, has always sent the wrong message. It shames the obese, embarrasses them on public television, tempts them with bountiful spreads of unhealthy food, forces them to workout for hours on end, then weighs them weekly to see whether they get to stay on the show or not. It's sick, honestly, and gives people the wrong idea about what healthy weight loss is supposed to be like. Most people don't have staffs preparing food, have personal trainers screaming at them, have entire teams rooting for or against them or are subjected to weekly humiliation.

Granted, contestants sign up for it, but most of them do it out of desperation having tried to lose the weight for years. That isn't exactly my definition of total consent. But I digress. I hate the show. But that isn't why I'm talking about it. I'm talking about it because of Rachel Frederickson, you know, the contestant who lost "too" much according to most of the commentary out there.

Here's the thing, America...isn't she exactly what the show is supposed to hold out as the example? If we are going to be pissed about people judging her when she was 260 pounds, then we can't hate on her when she is 105 either. Is she healthy now? Was she healthy then? I don't know, and quite honestly it is none of my business. I'm not her doctor. I'm not her.

We should be worrying about one thing when it comes to diet and exercise: health. When I say that we should be worrying about health, that includes mental health as well. Along those lines, we should recognize the truth that far more people in this country tie their value as human beings to the number on that scale and shows like this one only feed that beast, and that's not healthy at all, regardless of what the number is.

Leave her alone. While you are at it, leave the fat people alone too. Seriously.

The Worst Parents Ever?
You guys know that I'm not one for judging other people. I literally spend time every day reminding myself not to do it. Then a case like this one floats past my eyes online and I can't fight it anymore.

Alexa Linbloom died after being removed from life support last month. Her cause of death was acute water/fluid intoxication. She was five, and had been forced by her father and stepmother to consume more than two liters of grape soda and water in less than two hours as a punishment for taking her stepmother's soda.

Her body, literally, couldn't hold all the fluid. Her brain swelled too much and she died. They have both been arrested and charged with first degree murder, neglect and abuse. 

The Racist Olympic Cauldron Lighter
Here's something super fun! Just kidding.

So, the woman who lit the cauldron for the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics is named Irina Rodnina. She's won the gold medal three times and is a member of the public chamber in Russia. She also tweeted this insanely racist picture of President Obama in September.

She removed it almost immediately, but never apologized, instead claiming freedom of speech.

Please tell me you are laughing ironically right now.

Because the freedom of speech absolutely protects writers there, or protesters, or anyone who has a public opinion about equal rights, or anyone who is fighting against oppression. (please tell me you know I am being sarcastic. Please.)

Speaking of Russia, there is so much about it that we are oblivious to here. A friend shared this post from a native Russian about how misguided the media is, obsessing about the conditions in the village but ignoring the real issues present every day for the people who live there. It is most definitely worth a read.

It'll Be News When An Athlete Comes Out Until It Isn't Anymore. Period.
Michael Sam came out in a press conference Sunday. The defensive lineman from the University of Missouri has entered into the NFL draft this year. He is set to be the first openly gay man drafted in the league.

Why is this news? Because it is. The NFL is one of the last bastions of homophobia in our society, one of the places where you aren't supposed to be gay, you aren't supposed to talk about it, and god forbid, you aren't supposed to bring it into the locker room. Gasp!

As soon as the news came out and stories started to roll out, the comments started to pour in.

"When will it be newsworthy that I am white and straight?"

"This is news why?"

"He needs to read the Bible. Being gay is a sin."

This is news because he's doing it when he doesn't have to, when many of the reporters and teammates already knew. He is taking a huge risk and a huge leap of faith with a statement like this publicly going into the draft, because like it or not, this will probably affect which teams want him now. It's news because he's the first one to go into the draft as an openly gay player. It's news because he is breaking down barriers.

It will stop being news when it's not news anymore.

It will stop being news when people of all sexual orientations are accepted and don't have to feel compelled to come out anymore.

It will stop being news when sexual orientation isn't used as a basis to discriminate against people or deny rights to them.

It will stop being news when people are judged on their abilities alone, not who they love.

It will stop being news when it's not news anymore, and not one second before that moment.

Deal with it.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Three years

Has it only been three years?

Has it already been three years?

So much has happened that it has to have been that long since the last time he was with us, since the morning we spent around his bed, holding his hand, waiting, watching. So much that it must have been that long or longer even.

In some ways it seems like decades have passed.

In others, it seems like he was just here.

This is the first time that this day has arrived when my mind hasn't been occupied somewhere else, worrying about her, my mother, nervously wondering how she would cope with it all this time around. The first time without the phone calls and messages left and awkward exchanges and wondering if she really was okay and her never being even a little bit concerned about me and her minimizing whatever I was feeling because she always felt more, hurt more, needed more.

This is the first time that I can grieve for me.

Without the distractions.

Without being worried about someone else.

Without being told that my grief wasn't big enough.

It's calming, actually, this place that I am in now.

It still hurts, but the edges of the pain are dulled a bit. The memories come now and they wash over me and leave me with a smile on my face rather than the heartache they used to leave behind.

I have learned a lot on this journey through life without him. He taught me so many lessons, some of which I did not even realize at the time. Some of them are still coming back to me now, all these years later, like the one about spilling the milk. 

He taught me to be strong, to be resilient. He taught me to speak my mind, to lay out my arguments so well that people couldn't find the holes in them. He taught me to love music, to love the time I spend behind the wheel in the car, to love with my whole heart. He was the first to call me a writer, and I know he'd be prouder of me right now than anyone else could ever be.

I miss him. I miss him every day.

As I begin a new journey in my life, a familiar one, but one that I'm embarking on this time without him, my heart aches.

It hurts for all the things he won't be here to see, for all the moments without him. It hurts for the times he won't share with us.

Then a part of me knows that he is still with us.

He lets me know from time to time.

I have a feeling I'll be seeing a lot of him in the coming years.

I will welcome those moments. I will drink them in when they come. I will let the memories in, I will learn the lessons, I will be grateful for the chance to have been his little girl.

I miss you, Dad.

I love you.

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