love, Uncategorized

Promo Codes of Conduct

There should be a Groupon specifically for women in NYC to buy their feelings after being dumped.

Did he tell you that you were the one? Tickets to “Les Mis” at 40% off!

Did he dump you on the street soon after, when you ran into each other on the way to brunch? Free tartine at LPQ!

Were you ghosted by a man who at one point was deeply interested in exclusivity, only to discover from his Instagram that he eloped with the very next woman after you? Here’s a Miami vacation. On the house.

I’ve been in an interesting predicament in my personal life: I took a break from the dating scene as I confronted an illness, and almost a year later, after turning a corner on the health front, I elected to return to big-city right-swiping.

A few non-starters later, I met a guy. Similar age. Occupation well outside of my own. (Magazine writer. Fancy cars. Apparently cars are a thing, and people think about them the way I think about shoes.) Funny. Smart. Kind?

All was going well, until it wasn’t. We were making plans and taking a joy ride together in a $180,000 car. (Previously, my idea of a fancy car was a private Lyft or a quiet Q.) Then, two days later, I received an over-the-top complimentary “we’re done” text (Really? Y’all think telling a woman how beautiful she is while mentioning you closed a deal with someone else whose existence wasn’t previously known is supposed to take the edge off? ‘Gotta go speed off with someone else because her status was pending, but you’re TERRIFIC/let’s never talk again!’).

It’s dispiriting. You think perhaps maybe this is someone who is worthy of your time and energy and hope, and then find out perhaps that’s true, but not for you.

(97% iTunes discount on Lemonade LP. Queen Bey take the wheel.)

This is something women do, that is seemingly exclusively our own. We deeply, unabashedly, invest in hope.

We swipe, and connect, and believe, and dream. And each time it doesn’t work out, we buy ourselves something fabulous, and drink a thousand martinis, we Seamless and Fetal Position (the new Netflix and Chill/TRENDSETTING) and despair. Men seem to very easily move between women. For women, the whiplash can wound.

I was talking to a friend about this today (one of several with whom I shared the offending text message — ya know, the one that gently let me down by describing all the qualities I possess that would, you might think, inspire enough devotion to continue dating through at least the weekend), and after the requisite, “he sucks/can’t he at least call/he said he was saving you a toothbrush last week?!/he’s not worth it and you’reamazingandOMGreadingthatfulltextLKDNFGSLDGNSL,” my friend mentioned something else.

He said that love is a board game, and you have to roll the dice. Sometimes you go forward, sometimes backward. But you’ll never get to finish if you don’t play the game.

Women have a fundamentally different approach to dating than men. We get attached to the idea of a future far more quickly than we otherwise should; we take small seeds of potential and we FARM. We convince ourselves  that everything that is so exciting and fresh and lovely and fun will surely deepen as time goes on. We unabashedly believe that this time will be different. For men, dating might be a game, but it always feels like we’re playing for keeps.

I left my friend and went to my neighborhood art framer, the same place I’d ducked into as I waited for a joy ride a week or so earlier. I’d bought this fabulous canvas print of Barbara Bain driving circa Mission Impossible (WHY DID SHE HAVE TO BE IN A CAR). Purchased on a beautiful, sunny Saturday, ya know, WHEN ALL THINGS SEEMED POSSIBLE.

The framer stretched out and secured the print. I asked for the cost. Then I said: “I should probably let you know I was dumped via text message yesterday.”

“No.”

I grab my phone. If Carrie had her Post-It moment, then by all means let me read you this text, good sir. I was…almost…Berger-larized.

For a brief message, it contained a lot of twists and turns. ‘Bad news bears, I’ve been seeing someone else! But you’re wonderful! And hilarious! And gorg! Let me name drop your podcast like we’re pals, albeit one I didn’t want to call on the phone!’

I finished, and looked at my wonderful art framer/temp-to-perm therapist.

“Oh my god. What kind of guy—”

“All of them.”

20% discount. At least I got that much out of it.

Women invest. We invest early and often. It’s unlikely to change: the yearning, the hope, the promise. Even when we shouldn’t, and mustn’t, we do. We blindly believe.

I can’t think of a way out of this trap. So perhaps in addition to talking future plans and toothbrushes, and goodbye-buffer beauty, we should just get 15% off shoes.

 

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politics, Uncategorized

Georgia Peach.

So here’s an interesting story.

(I think it’s interesting, ok/it’s interesting):

I was running some errands in midtown and didn’t have my usual “don’t fuck with me/I’m listening to Queen Bey” headphones on.

I hear a southern drawl a few feet behind me. A group of 6 or 7 guys are talking 2016.

“…You don’t want millionaires running this country.”

My ears perk. It is Galli Christmas. I have found a Trump supporter in Manhattan. A PACK.

“(Unintelligible Southern Drawl)….her Foundation….millionaires….Trump.”

ARE THESE MOTHERFUCKERS SAYING HRC CANT RUN BECAUSE SHE MADE TOO MUCH MONEY?

“Charitable donations….Clinton Foundation….too much money.”

I turn around and GLARE. I GIVE THEM THE TINDER LEFT HOOK WITH MY BABY BLUES. WHO THE EFF DO THESE BERNIE BROS THINK THEY ARE DEALING WITH.

“Do you know how many people I help? Many. Do you know how many people she’s helped? Millions.”

THOSE STUPID ASSHOLES I’M GONNA ACCIDENTALLY TRIP THEM SO HARD– wait what?

“How many people has Trump helped? Her foundation has helped millions.”

WHAAAAAT?

I turn around. I realize Head Bro is teaching the Bro Pack about the Clinton Foundation’s spectacular work on the AIDS front. He’s informed, and inspiring these guys that she’s the one.

I smile.

“Hi. I’m Sarah. Please vote.”

We start walking together, talking about the election cycle, Clinton’s qualifications, how important it is that she’s elected. Head Bro is from Georgia. H.B. is educated and passionate.

I have failed spectacularly at stereotyping a complete stranger based on snippets of conversation I entirely misheard.

Bro is a professional poker player. Bro bet a significant amount of shekels that Hillary will win on Election Night.

Bro won my number and a smile.

 

TLDR: Everybody vote/see you at my wedding in Georgia.

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Uncategorized

Rage Into The Machine.

pink troll

I had to block a friend on my social media last night.

It was a decision that was essentially made for me a week or so ago, but I elected, like an idiot, to prolong it for a bit, hoping for a change, praying for smoother waters, allowing this person to create their own whirlwind of hate, lapping up waves of social alienation through imagined discourse between us. I walked away after about 70 or so messages directed at me, most of which were private, some of which were public, where in every response I tried to reason, to connect,to cajole, and was met with anger and insult and lies and rage.

And this is what I realized.

If there is only one thing I will own for the rest of my life, it is my name. I do not care if you are conservative or liberal, independent or politically agnostic, but you will never troll me and win.

You will not.

I have made a conscious decision to engage with folks on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, on this blog, in person and on the phone. I am pretty damn open both with my opinions as well as creating a safe space for others to contradict what I think without fear of retribution. As a result, I have become a stronger and better advocate and ally. I’ve also been schooled in understanding my own inherent privilege, and I learn.

But the moment folks arm themselves with name calling and race baiting as proper weapons in a directed online war, the minute how I look is suspect to what I believe, I am out.

Here’s a piece of me: I am a white lady Hebrew from New England. My parents are middle class. My mom is a social worker, my dad makes popcorn and sometimes he writes. My brother lives with paralysis, and also a dog. I’ve worked many different kinds of jobs over the years, and have been fortunate through those experiences to meet many different kinds of people. I have liberal friends, conservatives, people who would rather talk fashion and shoes, those in luxury dwellings and those in unstable housing. Doctorates and high school diplomas. Most are folks in between.

Everyone has faced at least one moment in their life when survival seemed implausible. And yet that’s what we did. It’s part of the reason people connect, and part of the reason why online discourse can be key. We share. These stories remind us why we are here. They keep us alive. And others show us how to live.

Her majesty Oprah Winfrey, the People’s OWN Pope, once quoted Maya Angelou: “when someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

Everyone likes to point to the conservative tea party as those crazy folks blind to reason. Here’s the sad truth: that militant fanaticism is also alive and well for those left of center, and it will eat the liberal party alive.

If you bully your way through, successes will be short and ineffective. Look to the people who influence, and understand why they successfully lead and sustain. How they make us feel. If you’re in the political/advocacy world, try this fun two minute exercise! Close your eyes, and remember that we are human. Try to act humane.

Open your eyes. Eat some popcorn. The popcorn is key.

When you are surrounded solely by people who think like you and act like you, when your friends and allies have been silenced and judged, when your connections are based in anger and trauma and – most importantly – you know only how to inflict the same, you’ve forgotten what it means to lead. You have become a living wound.

A friend, aware of last night’s mishegoss, sent me a graphic: “Keep calm and don’t feed the troll.”

Breathe. Listen. Learn. Block those who are unable or unwilling to do the same. Repeat. Breathe.

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benefit, broadway, familiy, love, musical theatre, paralysis, sacrifice, spinal cord injuries

Rescuing Jeffrey.

I hate Born for Broadway.

Take a moment. Let that sink in. Perhaps call Bellevue Hospital and reserve me a room.

It’s true. In many ways, I hate the show I created 11 years ago, an annual event that’s become a cause.

Stepping back.

I love how far this once-small student cabaret has grown; I love that over 100 Broadway performers have donated their time. I love our beneficiary organization, the hardworking men and women fighting for a cure.

I love what the future portends for BFB.

And I hate Born for Broadway.

I hate that for the second year in a row, due to a faulty wheelchair replaced with an even faultier update, my quadriplegic brother likely won’t be able to come.

I hate that I can do so much with this event, a cause entirely inspired by and devoted to Jeff, and I can’t fix what’s broken.

I can’t fix the chair, I can’t fix his spine. No matter the songs sung, the crowds in seats, I cannot fix him.

It’s deeply unfair.

I do this show for Jeff, and raise funds for spinal cord injury causes because of him.

We raise attention for the 5.6 million Americans living with paralysis, including several of the performers in our show, and Jeff won’t be there to bear witness, because I can fix a lot but I cannot put the broken pieces of my brother back together.

The powerlessness is overwhelming as I work on an event two weeks away. I have control over this. I have none over that.

I wish I could fix him. I hate that I can’t.

The blood boils and rages and seeps through my body. I’m so pissed and I’m hurt and I weep and I’m mad.

Step back.

I find out several prominent stars have joined our cast, and I nearly dance.

I start to breathe. October 13, 2014, will mark the 5th time celebrities and stars gather for BFB.

I love them, and I love the hundreds who will attend, the denizens who will donate in their absent stead. The families and friends from my Rhode Island hometown who will travel hours to pay witness.

And yet. I’m back.

Jeff cannot be one of them, can’t be there, and I hate it.

I can’t fix his chair, or him. I hate the inaction I own.

I hate that paralysis exists, that this show doesn’t donate to a butterfly sanctuary or a puppy picnic instead. That we have to raise funds that will absolutely fall short of the massive amounts needed to create the change I crave. I hate that it won’t be enough.

I hate and yet I continue. I sacrifice whatever I have to make this show occur every year, to shine a spotlight on an empty seat. I do this and I hate with every fiber of my being that the most important person won’t be there.

I hate the lack of power to change his life, but I will work forever in hopes one day it will. One day he will be there, one day he will be even slightly better. The research is getting stronger, the science is growing more clear. One day, the chair will work.

One day it will be better.

A smart man said, “A person can endure and yet not prevail; a person who prevails has probably had to endure a lot along the way; and a person who is not willing to endure will probably never prevail.”

And I think of what my father sacrificed in order to live the words he said, in order for my family to somehow prevail. What he and my mother had to glue together in order for us to not entirely break apart.

Here we are, existing, enduring, powering through. Broken pieces connecting love, keeping us alive. We live.

I hate that this event needs to exist, and that hate gives me the drive to make sure it does. That a community crying out will be heard.

I hate that I can’t do more. So we do, and should.

We step.

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Uncategorized

Twelve Dollars.

I went to my local market tonight to buy a few groceries: a couple bananas, some vegetarian delights, and an apple. My total was $12.

I came home and read that hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls missing since April 14 are now being sold as ‘wives’ to their militant captors for the same price. These students, 234 total, 16-18 years old, are being raped amongst packs of men somewhere in the jungles of Nigeria as their families’ cries go unanswered.

I bought some fruits and vegetables in Manhattan as hundreds of girls are raped in northeast Nigeria, and the transactions cost the same.

Two hundred and thirty-four girls were stolen from their schools, their sexual innocence sold for the price of non-organic fruit.

According to The Guardian, “Desperate parents launched their own rescue attempts in the 60,000 sq. km Sambisa forest where the girls were being held. Security sources told the Guardian that at least three rescue attempts had been scuppered….Reports of the mass marriage came from a group that meets at dawn each day not far from the charred remains of the school. The ragtag gathering of fathers, uncles, cousins and nephews pool money for fuel before venturing unarmed into the thick forest, or into border towns that the militants have terrorised for months.”

News comes from villagers: “On Sunday, the searchers were told that the students had been divided into at least three groups, according to farmers and villagers who had seen truckloads of girls moving around the area. One farmer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the insurgents had paid leaders dowries and fired celebratory gunshots for several minutes after conducting mass wedding ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday.”

Nigeria’s local military has been unsuccessful in battling the insurgent Boko Haram, the terrorist group suspected of leading and continuing the abduction. The girls were targeted because they were attending school, readying for their final exams; Boko Haram means, “Western education is forbidden.”

Hundreds of Nigerians protested in a march through Abuja, the Nigerian capital, to press for action. Four students who were able to escape joined the hundreds in attendance.

According to the BBC, “Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau first threatened to treat captured women and girls as slaves in a video released in May 2013. It fuelled concern at the time that the group was adhering to the ancient Islamic belief that women captured during war are slaves with whom their “masters” can have sex, correspondents say.”

What would have been my punishment if I tried to steal my $12 bounty at the market? How quickly would I have been caught, punished, questioned in this Manhattan enclave?

I wonder this tonight, as 234 schoolgirls remain missing, with no protection nor hope to be found.

I wonder how these terrorists calculate the price of a girl, the process of determining how best to slay the love these families have for their precious daughters, sisters, friends.

And all I’m left with is $12. These girls were sold for $12. A woman at the Abuja march held a sign: “Can Anyone Hear Me?”

It’s raining in New York tonight. The grocery store is closed now, but I got what I wanted.

It only cost $12.

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Uncategorized

An Open Letter to Kyle Smith’s Wife

Hey Girl.

You must be having a rough week. First off, you’re married to Kyle Smith. Then you read your husband’s “sassy” piece in the New York Post. The one addressed to the unborn child of Chelsea Clinton, who announced her pregnancy days earlier. The one that condemned the Fetus Clinton for being assigned to a uterus whose owner Kyle so clearly abhors.

Now, one might ask, why isn’t this letter addressed to Kyle himself, since he openly attacked an unborn child in a missive marked ‘news’ and not ‘op ed?’ But instead, I address this to you, the missus. I take my cues from Kyle, and will blame you for decisions made by immediate family. He’s very clever.

Kyle maintained that Chelsea prostituted her baby-to-be’s life by announcing her pregnancy at an event whose central theme was supporting women, thereby drawing attention to a cause she so passionately supports. It’s true, I’m sure the Post is bored to tears by the news of her impending motherhood- I’m sure they haven’t published pieces on just this very subject.

I’m going to guess that your marriage is one solely of convenience. Surely you don’t have children unless they were birthed during times of professional need. That’s also why Chelsea got pregnant, according to Hubs. Certainly implying that this unborn child could also one day act as a pimp for Bill Clinton’s lascivious desires is just an added bonus.

Go ahead, blame the mommy-to-be for her work done at NBC News, mock her for any professional and personal choice she has made as an adult. Ridicule her as you surely would the Bush twins (Jenna at the Today show, Barbara at—snicker, chortle- a global non profit).

A surprise: your husband’s piece wasn’t really intended to harass a fetus alone. It was meant to punish the mommy for being born to a family he happens to dislike. For a paper that is all about pushing pro-life, pro-family perspectives, Kyle is calling out Chelsea for having parents she was entirely unable to choose.

But maybe he’s right. Maybe this baby is to blame for mom, grandma, and gramps.

Just ask Jenna Bush Hager’s daughter about the Iraq invasion at her next toddler play date. Don’t worry if she cries. That’s just the wail of humanity casting aspersions on your husband’s theories.

Or maybe she prefers reading the news.

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Uncategorized

Eyes Wide Shut

Since the moment my brother was rendered a quadriplegic in a diving accident when we were teenagers, I have maintained a constant, silent stress in my body. Worried for health complications inherent in a paralysis injury, terrified for what happens when my parents are no longer able to serve as Jeff’s primary caregivers.

My brother is, aside from requiring constant care for his injury, in good health. My parents have done an exceptional job of keeping his life, unlike his cervical vertebrae, stable.

We are, in many ways, lucky.

The same cannot be said for a group of men my father’s age down South.

In a groundbreaking feature released this weekend, The New York Times profiled a group of Iowan men with intellectual disabilities that were forced to work backbreaking hard labor for over 30 years, housed in filth by caregivers who did nothing of the kind.  These men — who worked in a slaughterhouse for hours on end, with no treatment and support for their disabilities — lived in a schoolhouse so squalid they had to cover their dinner plates from ever arriving cockroaches. Many still have chronic health issues resulting from such neglect.

Wrote Times reporter Dan Barry, “Every morning before dawn, they were sent to eviscerate turkeys at a processing plant, in return for food, lodging, the occasional diversion and $65 a month. For more than 30 years. Their supervisors never received specialized training; never tapped into Iowa’s social service system; never gave the men the choices in life granted by decades of advancement in disability civil rights. Increasingly neglected and abused, the men remained in heartland servitude for most of their adult lives.”

Discovered in 2009, advocates and social workers have worked to give these men a sense of freedom seemingly granted to everyone but individuals with disabilities. These men each lost over 30 years of their lives because Iowa failed to protect them from their designated protector. Families were told Henry’s Turkey Service was the best option for their sons and brothers. Instead, these men were as much prisoners as the turkeys they were told to tear apart.

Reports of barbaric conditions surfaced every few years; no action was taken.

A few men tried to escape; one, Alford Busby Jr., ran away during a 1987 snowstorm: “Local officials searched the wintry landscape without success. Three months later, during the spring thaw, a farmer found a body along a field’s fence row, a quarter-mile from the main road. Mr. Busby was 37, or maybe 43. “Mentally retarded man wandered away from home in subzero temperature,” his death certificate says, citing hypothermia.”

The men were rescued five years ago. They now receive Social Security and Medicaid; they have homes to live in and care for, they are paid wages for jobs worked. They have the freedom to meet new people, date, and live a life they’ve chosen.

The Times piece exposed my greatest fear: what will happen when my parents are no longer able to provide for Jeff, when my brother will have to join the ranks of thousands of Americans who require 24/7 care and lodging somewhere separate from their chosen home.

My father spent the summer as an embedded journalist in Baghdad a few years ago, and because my mother couldn’t both work her full time job and fill the holes of nursing care normally covered by my dad, my brother was forced to stay temporarily in a nursing home. I would travel from Manhattan to see him in Rhode Island, and attempt to shield my tears until after I’d left. A nurse came over at the end of one such visit, and in what she intended to be a moment of trust between us, gave Jeff a kiss on the cheek. I wanted to tackle her to the ground, furious that this stranger was playing false intimacy with a young man she knew nothing about.

Instead, I choked back tears and left my 20 something brother in his room; a bright man relegated to living in a home with elderly people whose main job was waiting to die.

President Obama proposed the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program as a part of the Affordable Care Act, to enable employed Americans the opportunity to pay premiums protecting them, but the self funded support (granted to eligible workers after 5 years, not taking into account exceptions for those whose disabilities preclude employment) caps out at a lifetime cash benefit of $75 a day/$27,000 per year. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, the average yearly expenses for someone with a high-level spinal cord injury run an average of $181,328, not including indirect costs.

The CLASS act has since been repealed, with a long term care commission installed instead; there is no word for what recommendations will come, nor when.

Curt Decker of the National Disability Rights Network said the Iowa story “is what happens when we don’t pay attention.”

I read about the men of Atalissa and I mourn for the years lost, taken away from these sons and brothers.

And I wonder who will care for mine.

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