List-ish: FemComPod show notes, Episode 15

Listen above or check out other episodes here.

Topic 1:

Dylann Roof gets the death penalty.

Death penalty stats in the US from Amnesty International, which condemns capital punishment.

And just because it’s interesting, an artist’s photographs of last meals requested by the executed.

Topic 2:

The Pussyhat project divides feminists going to Saturday’s Women’s March.

The mission of the project is cool.

But visual protests and #hastivism can only go so far, as detailed here.

The book “The End of Protest” by an Occupy Wall Street-er gives some insight on how these things are a failed protest behavior. It’s a call to action to find a more effective form of dissidence in modern culture.

Love for the Women’s March organizers’ four page document of goals and demands.

Topic 3:

Performers for Trump’s inauguration comprise a list of comedic proportions.

And while you’re at it…

Tupac’s hologram.

Inspo: Bad bitch rock, reporting from the rental bottom line, and #relationshipgoals

Deap Vally

The voice, they lyrics, the sound, the look. I love it all and have their latest album on replay. I’ll let this LA rock duo speak/play/riot/peacefully-motha-effin-protest for themselves. Visit Chicago soon, OK?

And I am not ashamed of my mental state
And I am not ashamed of my body weight
And I am not ashamed of my rage
And I am not ashamed of my age
And I am not ashamed of my sex life
Although I wish it were better
I am not ashamed I am no one’s wife
Although the idea does sound kind of nice

 

“Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” by Matthew Desmond

 

This book is at once heartbreaking and genius. Fittingly, the author Matthew Desmond received a MacArthur “Genius” grant in 2015, a year before this book was published. “Evicted” is an investigative journalism-style book that profiles landlords and tenants in several Milwaukee neighborhoods, from the black inner city on the north side to the white trailer parks on the south side. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in social justice or the housing market. It’s a very informative look at why evictions are on the rise and how devastating they are for the families and communities they affect–one court ordered eviction and the payments and consequences snowball out of control. I love Desmond’s objective reporting; the landlords, who are as callous and cold as they can be forgiving, get equal play here to defend themselves.

The reasons for evictions vary and poverty reaches its brutal fingers into all areas of a life that can lead to even darker places in the pit (addiction, disability, discrimination). The whole book relays brutal anecdotes of unfair housing and regulatory practices and organizations that portend to help but are often just a busy signal at the end of the line. That anyone can survive hanging on like this is incredible. I think it’s important we remember that although there are agencies that are supposed to help social problems like poverty, it’s more than often not enough–and the dominoes fall fast. We need to keep aware of what’s going on in these neighborhoods and why so we can make decisions that help across the board (ie. healthcare).

Read the whole book, but here are a few interesting insights on how women, and especially black women, are at a particular disadvantage in this cycle:

“Women tended not to negotiate their eviction like men did, and they were more likely to avoid landlords when they fell behind. These responses did not serve them well.”

“Belligerent as it was, Jerry’s [a tenant] confrontational response aligned with Tobin’s [a landlord] blunt and brusque way. Property management was a profession dominated by men and by a gruff, masculine way of doing business. That put men like Jerry at an advantage.”

“In Milwaukee’s poorest black neighborhoods, 1 female renter in 17 was evicted through the court system each year, twice as often as men from those neighborhoods and nine times as often as women from the city’s poorest white areas. Women from black neighborhoods made up 9% of Milwaukee’s population and 30% of its evicted tenants.”

Barack and Michelle Obama

Barack specifically called out his girl at the farewell address speech this week in Chicago. Through his thanks, he teared up, and knowing how soul matey this pair has seemed throughout his entire presidency, you know this was just another genuine example of feeling too. While their friendship, teamwork and equal relational status are all admirable qualities worth emulating in my own relationship, I have to take a feminist aside here and fist pump the prez. Growing up (Bill Clinton was president), it always seemed like men in power had wives as show horses or bargaining chips, never really as sidekicks. Plus, men didn’t cry. Not really anyway… But Obama’s tears on a center stage for his beloved reminded me how far we have come even in the last 20 years about what strong masculinity can represent. You can cry out with love for your wife and still be the leader of the free world—in fact, it probably makes you more trustworthy as a leader. More of this please. #mykindoffamilyvalues

Essay-ish: A bangs evolution

Not so sure about this, ma.

Age 0-8

Mom’s in charge. She’s thrifty, but girl’s got style. Twenty years from now those lace collared gowns and acid washed denim dresses she’s got your chubby baby legs in are gonna make older-you gush. But you’ll want to talk about those bangs. Listen, she’s doing the best she can with what she gave you. Your hair is rowdy! Like a swath of velvet that won’t flow in one direction no matter how many times you smooth a hand over it. No worries. You’re a baby. Babies get away with everything, like having no hair and pooping themselves.

Is that Wynonna Judd at the Museum of Science and Industry?!

Age 9-12

You’re going to start experimenting, your looks are the thing you’ve learned you can control or at least try to improve upon. This fledgling desire for independence will lead you to taking a brown eyeshadow kit and brushing its heavy smudge over your near-transparent brows. You will look goofy but your beautification choice will also really denote your brother’s seventh birthday party. Eventually you’ll start pinning back one half of your bangs in an effort to look like Wynonna Judd. In fourth grade you’ll graduate to new glasses and switch things up again by separating your banged curly cues straight down the middle. You think it’s a good decision: After all, the curtained coif leads the eye directly to your cool new specs. It doesn’t. It could. But it doesn’t. Because the eye will simply stop the behold the bangs. They look like you have sprouted flaccid red devil horns that curl at the tip. That you have developed a passing prurient interest in things that could send you to said devil is not wholly inaccurate, you hair perhaps a symptom of your starter-sins.

Clearly a greatest hit.

13-16

As this is a childhood pre-Internet, knowledge of coconut oil and best practices for a straightening iron will be the white knight of your college experience, so now you are forced to figure these things out on your own. Luckily, foreheads are hot right now. You make a case with cut-outs from your “teenie bopper” mags, as dad might call them, and collage them into a diary that’s really now a journal (clearly denoted by the word “Journal” penned in something permanent across the front) because only little girls have diaries. Drew, Gwen, Christina. Bangs are for babies, clearly. Bare bulbs, for babes. You, being particularly well-endowed with a five head, decide this is the best route — just grow the bangs out and pull them back with a headband. This look is lukewarmly received by its peers but it makes getting ready in the morning a lot easier, offering five minutes of additional time to spend wiping the rouge mascara off your eyebrow bone and cheeks and vanity mirror and fingers and…

The Swoop. 10/10 for bangs selection.

17-29

It’s homecoming or prom or something important your junior year. You have figured out The Swoop. I cannot understate how revolutionary this will be for your life. You have been the cutter, shampooer and stylist of your own hair ever since a brief but raucous run-in with lice in sixth grade, which made you anxious to experience anything close to the kind of humility that is sitting like a wet rat with fleas in a place vomiting fluorescent lighting as, possibly, classmates walk by. But this. All your training has paid off. Something about the way the sweep of strands cover that presumably prize-winning forehead makes you look, dare I say it, kind of hot. The straightening iron and improved proficiency with a mascara wand have also helped, but my dear, we have something great going here. Let’s write it on parchment with our virgin blood and the trimmed toenail of an elfin queen and never, ever stray.

30

You won’t. The Swoop will be your companion through two presidents, four or five boyfriends, seven or so jobs. The Swoop is the steed with which you endlessly saddle your hopes and dreams that today, just maybe, you will good looking. You have learned how to experiment with lipstick and style choices, sexuality and email providers. But never The Swoop. You dare not risk another ginger-tinged failure. That is… until now. Until the New Year’s Eve between your 30th and 31st birthdays. You are bored. You have a lot to look forward to but it’s not here yet. So you are bored. You want to, need to make something feel exciting. And harkening to the lesson you learned a long time ago — that you are the only thing with which you can exert full control — you grab the scissors. You pull your hair forward with a comb because you’re not an animal. You check the Pinterest image twice. You cut. You keep cutting. Oh my god, why can’t you stop! Control, Mantey! The sink is now a battle field of red soldiers, chopped at the knees. You’re afraid to look up, decide to first bury the lost. With one eye and then the other you take a look upon the wreckage. Not too bad. Manageable. You throw on some lipstick (red for distraction), count down to the new year, and agree with all former selves that while bravery in the face of boredom is admirable, may we never stray too far from The Swoop again.

Makin’ it work in the meantime.

Story: Ten affirmations for the coastal liberal latte-sipping elite

A more accurate depiction of latte sipping in the city. Instagram lies!

 

I attract equal pay.

I am allowed to enjoy the uniquely earthy and delicious flavor of beets with goat cheese and talk about it frequently without shame.

I am worthy of a one-bedroom apartment on the north side with a bay window that costs less then $1,200 a month.

Book store clearance sections, stationary with printed neon cats, and café seating by the window are abundant in my life.

Manifesting resolutions with my domestic partner comes naturally to me.

I can handle anything that comes into my book club.

I accept myself, even though sometimes I unfollow people outside my “bubble.”

Something wonderful is about the happen to my mindfulness meditation circle.

I am prosperous in receiving Facebook protest invites.

I love change and adjust easily to terror.

List-ish: FemComPod show notes, Episode 14

 

Topic 1:

On the topic of Planned Parenthood, read…

What you need to know about defunding, a look from NPR.

This Rolling Stone interview with Cecile Richards.

This list from Planned Parenthood that breaks down the percentages of its services, the majority of which go to helping low-income and young men and women with sexual health and family planning services.

Support for Roe v. Wade at an all time high.

This Science magazine article that pinpoints the scientific inaccuracies and misleading information in the report from the House of Representatives Select Investigative Panel… that is now being used as support to defund Planned Parenthood.

This list from Planned Parenthood of how you can help them now. I’ll be marching on Jan. 21. I hope you will be too. There are marches and rallies planned across the country in solidarity of the Women’s March in DC.

Topic 2:

We can’t say the Fort Lauderdale shooter didn’t make a few cries for help before he flew from Alaska to murder innocent people. Here’s the story.

Like I say in the podcast, I support citizen gun rights and ownership. I also support sensible gun control and regulation. In my research for this episode, I found this interesting opinion piece about why certain anti-gun control arguments don’t hold up. They helped me further my own internal discussion of what I mean when I say I ride the fence on this issue.

Topic 3:

Carrie Fisher’s urn is shaped like a Prozac pill, wining her the title of Biggest Girl Crush Ever For Real Though.

Strange death rituals from myriad cultures, including my favorite, the Buddhist monks that give their dead bodies to wild animals. After all, they gotta eat too.

A Taiwanese official died and, as his last wishes requested, strippers danced on cars in his funeral procession.

 

And while you’re at it…

I saw on my Facebook feed last week lots of slams against Millennials (proof that Facebook is over, Boomers run it now). It’s such junk. I love Millennials. They’re the strongest and most thoughtful people I know. In this episode of Justin Golak’s Safe Space, he talks about why Millennials are ushering in the new era of empathy, which, he argues, will be the next great moment of human evolution. But because of that, because we’re the first to wire kindness so deeply into our social consciousness, we’re going to fuck it up a little. And that’s OK — as long as we’re aware of how we mess it up and correct it. Listen to the whole episode here or check out the clip below.

Essay-ish: Expressions of love from rural America

We’re not imagining that 2016 seemed unusual in its famous deaths. BBC took a look at its obituaries files and found that twice as many notable people died in 2016 compared to 2015.

But do you think the celebrity death toll will be even higher next year? I think it will be, and forever more. We just have a lot more people who qualify as celebrities now. Can you imagine what it will be like when Millennials hit their seventies? It’ll be Jennifer Aniston one day, Pauly D and the guy from the Bad News Brian meme the next. Every day we will mourn a celeb passing because we’ll have triple the celebrities as days in the year.

Plus, with social media, we hear about or see more loss than we would if we didn’t have a platform where we could follow people throughout their lives. When an acquaintance you worked with for a few months at Quizno’s your sophomore year of college becomes your Facebook friend and dies years later in, I don’t know, like, a freak boating accident and you read about it when you go to write on his wall for his next birthday, you’re naturally inclined to think it’s been a rough year out there, whereas before social media that guy would have left your social bandwidth the last day you two steamed a ranch chicken sub side by side.

Of all the celebrity deaths in 2016, I was most upset by that of David Bowie. His music was the soundtrack of my transition from high school into college. People who knew Bowie comment often on his chameleon-like qualities. He could blend in anywhere, which is pretty remarkable for a diamond among pebbles.

Some of the best artists I know are like this. The shape shifting they’re capable of correlates to their ability to empathize with multiple, often competing perspectives—they see the world in a way the rest of us can’t because they’re often living on their own one. They transcend structural identities and get on with it. When they’re good at what they do, they see to the core of humanity (through watching us and self inspection). They dispatch what they find through their work. That’s why art matters. It helps us better understand others and ourselves.

Bowie’s music did a lot of the latter for me. I loved how he could live in flux. I wanted to live like that. I do live like that. I try. Between David to Bowie to Ziggy Stardust, he moved flawlessly. He could be an alien and also the kind of good guy who would sing Christmas songs around a piano with American meatheart Bing Crosby. His manifestation of butterfly to caterpillar and back again is a feat no other musical artist has been able to pull of since—although that may not be entirely their fault.

We are such brands as ourselves, even you and me, those aforementioned pretty pebbles. Because we have (most of us anyway) so clearly defined who we are as people online, any attempt to be someone drastically different or made up feels contrived, even when its for performance. It’s hard to pull off a thinned mustache and angsty hairdo when you are a cowboy and have taught everyone else how to be one too (looking at you, Garth). Not even Beyonce could pull it off and she, as the good book predicted, can do almost anything. But her Sasha Fierce character fell as flat as Britney Spears vocals pre auto-tune.

But Bowie, man. His range of expression was part of his art and, thus, his charm. It’s hard to maintain credibility in pop culture as a capital-A-Artist without coming off like a complete twat. He never did.

I want to be like Bowie. Still. On a much less grand and glittery scale, but I want to be genuine in my different roles and identities.

Never false, but also never stuck.

I want to gracefully be able to change my mind, grow and love even when it’s difficult. Part of my admiration for him came from his fluidity and what he offered me because of that. I could listen to “Let’s Dance” with my mom and get weird to “Diamond Dogs” with my friends. In a way that seemed effortless he straddled the fence. Hell, he danced on it.

I long for that kind of ambiguity right now when everything is so polarized. Bowie could jump from lily pad to lily pad, bring them together without ever sacrificing his unique magic. This year I’ve felt more like a sinking stone between two.

My lily pads. The Chicago jungle. The central Ohio farmlands. They seem further apart than ever before. They are physically speaking, two different worlds, but after the presidential election, they felt like that emotionally and intellectually too. Distant planets. Like spiders from Mars. As quickly as Chicago turned blue, Marion, Ohio, seeped red.

I have a lot of role models who have showed me how to live in the middle of these two spaces. My experience of having radical beliefs and conservative roots is certainly not a unique experience. Reconciling the two requires a balancing act that is actually quite rewarding. I can never be too much of an asshole one way or another because I love people who are completely different from me—when I get mad at them, I remember why they’re still in my lives and find a new way to explain why I disagree instead of shutting the door. It challenges me to explore what I believe and why on a regular basis.

At first, after November 8, I didn’t want to go home for Christmas. Talk about identity issues: How can I be the only one who became a radical anarchist in a loving home of Republican Roman Catholics? I’ve always felt a little displaced there, even with all that love coming my way. Difference, even amidst love, can cause confused wounds and mine had healed with time and art and maturity and writing and, well, David Bowie.

But home I went (and I was so excited to do so after some perspective and self-care revealed ways I plan to make a difference during the next four years. Volunteering, donating, just trying to continue being a good person in whatever definition that takes for me).

When I was home, the 2016 death I kept being reminded of was not that of a celebrity. It was of my grandma. Grandma’s expressions of love for me could be spotted everywhere if I was paying close enough attention. And I was. She left behind a lot. From the stocking that she made for me that hung every year at the farmhouse where she lived with my grandpa, to the ornaments she made for all of us every year. She always tucked $1 into the ornaments’ folds. I used to love digging a little finger, sticky from sneaking Christmas cookies, into the ornament to pull out my prize. Every year of my life she gave me one of those.

Rural America is consistent. Just like those ornaments. I know what to expect there. It is slow to change and relatively simple. Sometimes that infuriates me, but I need that caution in my life too. I need to know I can always come home and some things will be the same. The tree will be up and gift with my name on it will be underneath, no matter what I choose to do, say or vote for the rest of the year. In my life are good people who are willing to listen, and so am I.

Later in the week, my dad was going through some boxes from grandma’s house and I was helping, which means I was just looking at the contents that made their way from box to living room floor. There were bowls and trinkets. A lot of religious iconography. I laid claim to a framed towel my grandma decorated after a Bahamas trip with seashells she found on the beach.

Then he pulled out a blue book. Looked at it. Handed it to me. It was the program from my college graduation. She rode up with my family to watch me walk across the stage and get my diploma, the young woman she saw there much different from the little girl she remembered. I smiled and opened the pages.

There’s no way she could have realized what a wonderful feeling her actions around this program would inspire in me years later. Not only was I moved that she had kept it, but that she had dog-eared all the pages of the book that listed my name. Had she looked at it again, after the ceremony? Maybe, maybe not. But she had been there and that mattered. And she had, in her deep pride of my accomplishment, made sure to note with a fold of the page where I was named for my efforts.

My grandma and I were not close, but I feel the unspoken power of this action and note how this feels different from the ornaments. She never would have known I’d see the book, her folds. She just felt love and excitement for me and did what she did. The recognition of her recognition created a deep tenderness in me as I watched my mom, that same night, crochet a blanket for her next grandchild. I hope he reaches the level of appreciation for the thought and care that went into that blanket as I do for my grandma’s quiet examples of what I meant to her.

On my flight back to Chicago, I read the following passage in an essay by philosopher Todd May. It seemed so fitting as I flew to my other lily pad, not quite knowing how I will define “home” in my future.

“Death and its other, immortality, present us with the paradox our lives must grasp. We must simultaneously recognize the evil to each of us that death inescapably is and yet also not pine for a future that would bleed us of the reasons to fear death. We must embrace the fragility that lends our lives beauty and, at the same time, withdraws beauty from us. There is no straight path, nor a crooked one, that will lead us beyond all this. Our home lies here, we might say.”

Art always finds a way to move my understanding forward. This passage just the latest example. But it’s nice to know even as I progress I will be tied to a place that, though different from me, will always hold me tight, no questions asked. My teachers include David Bowie. And my grandma.

Soon, out my window, Chicago blasts its lights. Thousands of beacons that say hello, welcome to the other side. From my angle, as we curve over Lake Michigan, the city looks like it goes on and on forever. As if all the life doesn’t eventually end buried in acres of dirt. I know it does. And I’m not afraid. I smile, take a pic, and text it to my family in Ohio.

 

 

 

Inspo: Ronda Rousey, Louis CK’s new year’s greeting, Joe Rogan’s dope philosophy, and words on the street

Ronda Rousey’s heart

Sure, she got her ass kicked swiftly and brutally by Amanda Nunes (who, whoa, will be fun to watch in the future), but Ronda’s still my girl. She’s a legend who put her sport on the map and single handedly proved that women and women’s sports can be top-billing, headlining acts. Big ups to her for getting back in the ring and not falling despite eating shot after punishing shot in this “comeback.” There’s quite a lesson to be found in the deja vu of this knockout and her last one–it’s like she learned nothing new about ducking in the 365 days that passed. Head up, though, girlfriend. It’s like poet Carolyn Forche wrote:

In our sojourn on Earth, we are presented a curriculum for the education of a human soul, comprised of lessons that seem mysteriously to repeat themselves as if not properly learned the first time, or as if they were lessons failed, but this curriculum moves in a spiral rather than a circle, never returning quite to the same instruction, and the fortunate few experience, I think, epiphanies in their late years, so that even failure is embraced and welcomed. It is a Samuel Beckett wrote: ‘No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’ The final realization might be that we ourselves wrote this curriculum within the depths of our being.

Louis CK’s new year’s greeting

Louis CK sent out an email to his fans a week ago with information about what he’s working on, highlights of new shows, and a brilliant dose of perspective delivered in perfectly imperfect Louis fashion. An excerpt here:

Joe Rogan’s new standup special

Ok, he’s easy to write off as the once host of Fear Factor if you know literally nothing else about him, but Joe Rogan is a really interesting guy. I like listening to his podcast. He’s naturally very curious and gives all ideas, all people a fair shot at sharing. The new special has several bright spots, like when he’s talking about getting really high on California weed and having this unexpectedly inspiring thought:

What if everyone is exactly the same? We’re just living life through different bodies. What if that’s the secret of happiness? Treat everyone as if it’s you, living another life.

If you were high right now, your head would explode.

Full special (including the punchline to this joke) is on Netflix now.


Words on the street

I really should start a compilation of wonderfully fun copywriting I see in restrooms. I love 85% of what I find, including this one in a new Columbus pho restaurant. It doubles as a phonics lesson for how to actually pronounce the word.

List-ish: My favorite things about 2016

Even in a Dumpster fire, there’s a lost shoe or perfectly capable discarded broom to be found.

New people

Foster. Foz Man. Fozzie Bear. Whatever you call him, my newest nephew was hands-down the cutest, happiest baby born in 2016. Welcome to the world, fellow Pisces love bug bubby wuver boo boo. <*auntie kisses*>

That combover!

Old people

This ol’ flame. Justin and I got back together, got engaged, and, I don’t know, became grown-ups at the same time in the serendipitous way that only revelatory love can engender. He’s my number one and I am his. I understand and respect what that means now in a way I just couldn’t before.

Those eyebrows!

Sobriety

After one seriously ridiculous (fun, but ridiculous) bender — a type of night that had become troublingly familiar — I quit drinking. I’ve been sober for eight months now. Best decision I’ve ever made for myself. For so many reasons. In my latest Mildly Depressed: The Podcast episode I talk about how I did it, why I did it and why I’ll likely never drink again.

That shitshow!

Chicago

Though we’re still getting to know each other, Chicago has smitten me with its concrete charms. Oddly enough, the thing I keep talking about it the public transportation. I l-o-v-e that I can walk to whatever I need in my neighborhood, and when I need to travel outside it, my adventure is only a bus or train ride away. There’s so much life here and it’s exciting to be woven into the fabric of such a feracious city.

It was hard to move from central Ohio, a place that had supported and loved me so well, a place where all my people lived and a bright future was imminent. But to borrow a phrase from years past, YOLO. Bravery has its rewards and I look forward to reaping more of them this year.

Those hot dogs! (Get a pack of cigs with your processed meats. Chicago is the realest.)

Kate McKinnon

She’s the new Will Ferrell. So goofy. So smart. So original. The way she nails impersonations but adds her own comedic twist (just like Will as Janet Reno in Janet Reno’s dance party). Gah! I just love her. In a downer of a year, she made us all laugh, and that wasn’t easy. Give her all the movie deals, 2017!

Those accents!

 

Runners up: watching Simone Biles, Nasty Women everything, visiting Dollywood.

Inspo: Words at the zoo, “Rush Oh!” and special little snowflakes

The Lincoln Park Zoo lights

John Muir was a naturalist. An archivist. A tree-hugger.

In fact, he found so much purpose in these roles, he founded the Sierra Club.

He also said this: “When we tug at a single thing in nature, we find it attached to the rest of the world.”

He viewed going out in nature as a way to “wash your spirit clean,” but can it wash our conscience? What do we do with the discomforting irony of seeing nature — primal-puncturing-jaw-to-the windpipe, moved-by-the-moon nature — in cages?

Well, we put lights on the structures around these cages and pat ourselves on the back for the job well done. We hold our mittened hands together and give thanks that we have to strangle no living thing to live free. Not anymore.

But it’s still kind of awkward to see the lioness 20 feet away drowsy eyed and dreaming of pate from a jar or a seal clinging to a plastic plant as if it were food, unable to spear a bite.

Or maybe he was just playing. 

To not be so depressing — we are seeing holiday lights after all! — I decide to find pleasure in how the animals adapt to their sanctuaries, how they make them feel like home.

It’s like when we go to a hotel and claim the bed near the window and take all the pillows off but two; because that is most similar to where and how we fold into one another every other night.

The gorillas are my favorite for this. They are so smart and full of attitude.

Chest thumpers.

Ball scratchers.

Hand holders.

Nest builders. They form little individual mattresses of leaves and sticks on which to lay. If anyone can appreciate needing to make a space for oneself, a private place to put a head about to dream — it’s a human.

Other things about them are familiar, too. And away we tug, attached to all of each other.

The writing of Rush Oh!

It’s hard to imagine how a book can be both brutally sad and giggle-inducing, yet here were these reviews, saying “Rush Oh!” was exactly such. It’s the fictional memoir of a daughter of a whaling family in Australia’s Twofold Bay. Loosely based on a real family, it recounts the haunting 1908 whaling season.

Here’s my favorite passage example of how the author, Shirley Barrett, nails this uncommon voice.

I learned a lot about whaling too? Who knew I would find it so interesting, especially the personalities of the Killer whales who helped the human hunters (the Killers got first dibs in the water’s depths before the carcass gassed up to the surface). Turns out there’s a real museum dedicated to these cetaceans and this incredible, dichotomous era of violence and cooperation between man and beast at Australia’s Twofold Bay. One more thing to add to the bucket list!

Survival is weird.

Snowflakes!

Are we all over the “YOU ARE NOT A SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE” retort yet?

Ugh, we should be.

Listen, you can find yourself to be special and not be entitled. You can recognize that a snowflake is one of millions but also, that when fallen into a snowy drift or peed on by a dog alongside millions of its fallen brethren, it is not so special. But does that lessen any of the fact that it has its own, made-just-for-it, swirling, spiked design?

That can still be freaking cool (it is!) and appreciated while admittedly part of a bigger picture in which one’s own personal needs or identity hold, well, a snowflake-size worth of importance.

From water to water ye shall return!

What seems more “special snowflake-y” in attitude is actually calling someone else a “special snowflake.” When someone else’s self-awareness or individuality personally offends you, I’d say you appear to be the one with deep, unwarranted entitlement issues.

The hypocrisy of the bully is never ending, though.

So to that statement, “You are not a special snowflake!”, I happily give a smile and a middle finger.

And, oh, what do you know? Look here! Staring back at me from my one finger salute to your self-righteous poo-pooing of my self-worth is my own, made-just-for-me swirly design.

I’m special snowflake af!

Story: A very brief defense of Scrooge by the babe who sang Santa Baby

Hello from Hawaii! I hope you don’t mind I’m still in my bikini. My goodness, it’s so balmy here I don’t want to wear anything else!

I’m sure I need no introduction. It is I who purr from your stereo every Thanksgiving through Christmas asking your main man of merriment for many an indulgence.

But in case you didn’t get the followup: Santa is a loyal lover, and my swooning did no swinging him over to my side.

He did bring me the 54 Convertible, though. Light blue. With a wink.

I like to think that, although he remained faithful (you try giving up Mrs. Claus’s cookies), he did applaud my audacity of asking.

After all, at least I was honest about what I wanted. Which leads me to the reason we’re here. I’ll make this quick. Despite what you think of me, I’m no tease. I have a pina colada and tanned pool boy to which I’d prefer to quickly return.

Here goes. Why are you all such haters on Ebenezer Scrooge?

See, Scrooge and I are on a long list of wintery villains meant to serve a lesson to the good little boys and girls of the world. And we’re sick of it.

The Abominable Snowman? Looking for a friend.

The mean magician stealing Frosty’s hat? A closeted gay man trapped in a suffocating world where snowmen are allowed be themselves but he is not. That would make anyone kind of bitchy.

The Heat Miser, a product of global warming. You did that to yourselves.

Thus, I beg this season you perhaps try to see the nice in the ways we were all naughty.

Through this lens, Mr. Scrooge takes on a warmer light.

He believed in hard work, making money, and screening someone for drugs before they got welfare.

He didn’t pay his taxes because he was smart. He was trying to bring jobs to his countrymen. He had high standards and didn’t pay his workers if he deemed what they did a bad job, even if they put in their time and totally gave him a chance to tell them to stop before they were done. He wanted to build a wall to keep the ghosts out and make them pay for it.

I know how much you all love a blustery old business man with “balls”! Why not love Scrooge, pre-epiphany? The mixed messages you send are really quite atrocious, holiday hounds.

Perhaps with this newly opened mind you can also get behind my theory that The Nutcracker is a really strange story about an uncle who is a little too interested in imagining his young niece of Victorian-era marrying age. 

But that’s none of my business.

(Real talk though: Eartha Kitt was sexxxxay!)