TrumpCare is a MENACE

19222709_274603609675702_8059141608461991491_oThe thing that keeps me up right now is Trumpcare, and you all know that because you follow me on Facebook and I haven’t posted about anything else in days. Weeks. Months. YEARS. WHO KNOWS. It’s gotten to the point where people at work are asking me to send them things because I’ve become that girl with the list of links about healthcare. Since most of you don’t actually work with me, I’ve put them for you here instead:

https://www.ouramendments.org/ – the budget reconciliation process that the Republicans are using to pass the healthcare bill allows for unlimited amendments. If Democrats propose like 4,000 amendments, we could theoretically delay the bill until midterms. You can basically use that link to submit your own amendment and it gets sent to the healthcare aids of your senators and it goes to Minority Leader Chuck Schumer because he’s the one who decides strategy. It’s a creative way to advocate without having to actually talk to people on the phone, which, let’s face it, is the worst.

https://www.indivisibleguide.com/resource/withholding-consent-filibuster-amendment-call-script/ – call scripts for Democratic Senators. They also have links to ones for Republicans and Republicans in the ten vulnerable states where people might flip.

Honestly, these scripts have good info, but they are kind of involved. If you want to have a conversation with the person who answers the phone, that’s AWESOME. And I full support that and there’s a lot of good info for that here. I rarely want to have an actual conversation so I usually just go with something like

“Hi, my name is [NAME]  and I’m a constituent from [ZIPCODE] and I’d like to leave a comment for the Senator”

“Sure, go ahead”

“I’d like to ask that the Senator do whatever he/she can to block passage of the TrumpCare bill. Whether it’s by filibustering, filibustering by amendment or objecting to unanimous consent, I hope that he/she will do whatever they can to make sure that this bill doesn’t pass. We need to see leadership from our Democratic Senators, and we need to see them fighting for us and our loved ones.”

“Great, I’ll pass that along!”

“Thanks, and have a great day!”

“You too.”

END.

You can also call the HELP committee to yell at them for abdicating their responsibility to hold hearings on this bill if you’re feeling ambitious, by calling: 202-224-5375. If you want a script for that, let me know, and I’ll write one.

https://www.trumpcareten.org/ – if you know anyone who lives in Alaska, West Virginia, Maine, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Louisiana or Arkansas, they have particularly vulnerable Senators or Senators who might be persuaded not to vote for Trumpcare, and you can pass those resources along if they are inclined to do something about it.

https://swingleft.org/district-funds – if you’d rather just donate money, feel free! Swing Left is fundraising for the future opponents of Republicans so that after a Democrat/progressive candidate wins their primary they have a pot of money they can access. People usually spend most of what they’ve fundraised during the primary so this is a good way to give progressive candidates a running start. Pick some Republicans who voted yes on AHCA so that the Senators in those states know that there is national pressure.

https://www.vox.com/health-care – finally, Vox has been doing some EXCELLENT healthcare coverage, from what’s wrong with the way they are passing the bill now, to facts about what’s probably in it that you can use to argue with friends, coworkers, family, people on the street or the MAGA assholes on Twitter.

If you have any questions, let me know because I honestly can’t help myself.

Ten Years Ago

466944AE-4F7E-4125-9277-63F3DE9DA65ETen years ago yesterday, I graduated from high school. Ten years ago yesterday, I began a long journey backwards. Suddenly I didn’t know myself, was afraid to know myself. I wasn’t the person I thought I was and the pond was a lot bigger and I was a lot smaller. Ten years ago I wandered off and there are many things I’d like to change about that path I took. But ten years after that I’m glad I’m learning to know myself.

Ten years ago today, in the earliest hours of the morning, I was ready to let you do anything. I didn’t know myself but I thought maybe you could help me figure it out. Maybe you’d see something in me, something you found interesting, something you loved, and I could love that thing too. It took me a long time to figure out that when you looked at me you saw a mirror and you didn’t care at all about the girl trapped inside it.

It’s hard to believe that I don’t care that much about you anymore, since every now and again I have to write this story down. But ten years after that, I’ve found many things to love and many questions left to answer. And I am learning that I don’t need anyone else’s hands or help. The pond hasn’t gotten any smaller, but I like to think I’m growing. I know more now, at least a little bit more, about all the things I don’t know, about all the things I want to know and all the things I don’t.

You do not become a person when seen, I remind myself. You were a person the whole time. You are not a mirror, not a slate, not unmolded. You are raised and raising, known and unknown. You have a heart that beats for no one else, lungs that breathe and feet that walk and hands that write for no one else. It’s hard to remember, with all this noise, with all the things you can give and all the people that can take. But I am a person, myself.

Ten years ago yesterday, I graduated from high school and ten years ago yesterday I wandered off. But don’t worry. Ten years after that and I found that girl and we are wandering back.

Instagram is a Lie

IMG_0653 (1)Sometime last year, I wrote about a time when I screwed up majorly at work, and how we don’t talk about that enough. And in that same vein, I am here today to tell you that Instagram is a lie.

Many of you, or approximately 20 of you at last count anyway, saw the picture I posted earlier today of my farmers market haul and the beginnings of my vegetable stock. With cocktail in hand, I must confess to you all that mere hours after that photo was taken I tasted said vegetable stock and found that it was extremely bitter. Like, un-usably bitter.

The internet said to try carrots to sweeten it up, but that didn’t work particularly well, and so it was with a heavy heart that I disposed of a full pot of stock and the vegetable scraps I’d been building up for months. Trying to food better one Sunday at a time, I say? Psh.

IMG_0652 (1)I’ll admit I reacted to this failure pretty well. I spent the next half an hour googling all of the things that could have made the stock so bitter, reassured myself that I still had some chicken stock left and a whole chicken carcass that I could use to make more in the very near future, and stared at the photogenic farmers market haul half of the photo. And least now I know that you really shouldn’t put any cruciferous vegetables in stock (no broccoli, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage etc.), and frankly I had quite a few.

Of course this wouldn’t have been worth a blog post if I had reacted completely rationally. What did this do to my “trying to food better” claims, what about all those scraps I had to throw out? What about the farmers market haul which was primarily things like kale and mushrooms and therefore unlikely to contribute to future stock projects? What does “trying to food better” even mean if you can’t get stock right?

Calm your shit, Sara. This is what happens when former straight A students try new projects.

By some estimates, up to 40% of the food in this country goes uneaten. Additionally, our corporate farm culture has greatly diminished our biodiversity, takes unbelievable amounts of energy to produce and transport subpar stuff, and has in countless ways distorted our diet. And while some of us feast on out of season vegetables that crossed oceans to get to us, much of our most vulnerable populations live in food deserts created by grocery stores that flee for “greener” pastures.

I love food – I love eating it, I love cooking it, I love reading about it and watching things about it (Hey Netflix, GET SOME ACTUAL COOKING SHOWS) and traveling places to get it and trying new and increasingly stranger variations of it. And even I have those days where I’m like being a human is so hard you have to just keep buying food and cooking it and then eating it and you have to come up with all these variations and it takes so much time and then you STILL have to do the dishes. Food is the foundation for a lot of our culture. There is, as Anthony Bourdain says, nothing more political than food. Who makes it, who has access to it, where it comes from – these are questions that drive not only our own individual experiences, but geography and politics and violence around the world.

I’ve been trying to be better. I’m going back to my local farmer’s market every week, and soon I’m going to try buying meat and cheese there as well as produce. (I’m aiming for vegetarian this week because last week was a gluttonous, carnivorous fest in honor of my Dad and Kelly and I all being in the same hemisphere). We can all be a little better about our food, for our own sake’s as well as the planet, but I know can do that a lot easier than others because of health and wealth and a million other kinds of privilege, and I have a responsibility to keep making that choice. So I saved the empty bags and I’ll just keep filling them up.

And try to remember to keep the kale stems out this time, will you Sara?

This rant brought to you by Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which while occasionally a little tone deaf is a pretty lovely introduction to the pleasures and politics of food.

My Queens Extravaganza

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The station where it happened

As I stated last week, things have been going pretty well for me at work. I don’t leave past 8pm these days because, for various reasons that have added up, I’ve become integral to the department. But overall, everything right now is good! But, as I have also stated on this blog, things have not always been this great — this was particularly true right before I left for Christmas vacation last year, when I had royally screwed up on something. It was a one off mistake, but it was a very large one, and I was feeling awful about it.

This is an important detail, because when I am feeling insecure at work, I feel insecure in pretty much everything else I do. Which brings us to a Saturday in December, the weekend before Sara and I left for Australia, where our story starts.

My friend Jackson Bird was hosting his annual holiday party at his place in Queens. This is probably the only time when I ever get to Queens throughout the year because it is quite far from Hoboken. The journey on this cold christmasy weekend was made even longer because the only trains that could take us to Manhattan from Hoboken were downtown near the World Train Center, making our journey approximately an hour and a half long. Yay for public transit! So Sara, and our friends Taekia and Megan got our shit together and trekked out to Astoria.

The party itself was awesome. Jackson is a great host and there was wine and good food and company. We also had a fantastic conversation with the other party guests about how awesome the Fast and the Furious franchise is. Everything was going so well!

Did this last? Of course not! By the time we decided to leave, it was around 1am and I was pretty drunk. White wine will do that to you. While at Jackson’s I remember grabbing my purse and jacket and getting to the train station. But at this point, everything starts blur. I remember arriving at the 30th Ave station and waiting for the train, but after that, nothing. It wasn’t until we got to the World Train Center that I started to get my shit together — and realized that my purse was no where to be found.

I immediately started to panic. I had lost all my possesstions because I was drunk and dumb! I was a terrible human being that no one should trust!  I was drunk yelling this all to Sara (who was appropriately alarmed) as I walked through the train trying to see if I had left my purse there (instead of finding it, a homeless man yelled at me, apologizing for his vomit – welcome to New York). It soon became clear that I had not left my purse on the train, and that it was either back at Jackson’s, at the 30 Ave station subway stop, or in the ether. And I got really mad at myself. I thought about all the shit I would have to go through if my purse was really stolen or gone. I felt like shit. I luckily still had my phone, but all my cards and keys and everything would be lost forever. I sobbed about how I couldn’t do anything right, not my job or in my personal life. Being drunk will do that to you.

Megan, who was traveling with Sara and I, offered me her metro card and then promptly left (as she should have!) while Sara tried to calm me down. As it was 2:30 in the morning, she was very much in the camp of me going home and trying to figure out what happened to my purse the next day. But I was adamant. I needed to at least try to find my purse and damn it! no one was going to stop me. I was gonna fix this. So Sara let me go, making me promise I would keep her in the loop.

So I got an uber (It was truly a #blessing that I hadn’t lost my phone) and went all the way back to Queens. Though I was still kinda drunk, I was focused and was able to find my way back to the 30th Ave station. I went down and had a look, but no luck — my purse was no where to be found. So I went to the station manager’s window, just to see if someone had picked it up (knowing my luck was minimal). She offered to make a few calls, so I waited.

The next moment is when everything started turning around for me. The station manager called me over — my purse had been found! It was in a police station in Briarwood, Queens and I could pick it up that night. Halle-fucking-lujah. Briarwood was another 7 stops away on the F train, so I hauled my ass to the boonies of Queens in search of salvation. I arrived at the police station and explained my situation. They went into the back and pulled out purse! I almost cried I was so happy! This never happens! Surely this means God loves me!

At this point my phone was at 6% battery but I called Sara (who was playing along at home) to tell her of my success (I also put her on speaker phone so the entire station could hear our conversation — I think I was the the cutest drunk girl the police had encountered that night). At this point, it was about 4 in the morning. I established that nothing had been taken from my purse, signed a piece of paper saying I had picked it up, and then asked when the next F train to Manhattan (seeing as an uber from Queens to Hoboken would’ve cost me like a thousand dollars). The policeman who was helping me, looked at the schedule and said, “actually there’s one arriving now.” I grabbed my purse and ran and caught the train. I got out around 50th street in Manhattan and immediately got an uber. $50 dollars later, at approximately 5 in the morning, I walked into my room in Hoboken and collapsed on my bed.

Long story short, I paid about $75 worth in ubers and a whole night of my time to get my purse back so I wouldn’t have to be inconvenienced by canceling cards and getting new keys. I felt something had finally gone my way and that the universe was willing to be nice to me, as long as I was willing to cough up the goods. Was it worth it? Sure, why not.

Love Your Disruptions

IMG_1449On my birthday this year, Kelly pointed out in her birthday message that I am “always down for an adventure provided at some point sleep and food are in the equation,” and while I’ve always wanted to be a spontaneous, adventurous person, I have to admit that’s not entirely the case.

I’ve said this before, I’m sure, but I’m a creature of habit. My mom always used to point this out at the end of the summer, when I had started getting irritable and lazy. I needed the routine of school back. Every time I’ve moved to a new place, I feel loose and unsettled and anxious until I can make my bed and my lunch and my own coffee, and I know what the next few days are going to look like. I like adventures, sure, but I need something to come back to that makes sense, and I always pack granola bars and water.

Sleep and I have always had a contentious relationship (hence this blog) so its less that I need sleep in my adventures and more that I need to come back to my routine afterwards so I have a chance of making up for all of that sleep I lost while I was romping around…wherever I was.

I say this all as a preface for pointing out that this spring has been, well, weirdly not like that. Whether I’ve been house sitting or traveling or making plans for the rest of the year, my routine has been, shall we say, disrupted. And I find myself in the midst of all of that insanity thinking to myself, “just get through this week, and then things will get back to normal,” or more recently “you’ll be done after May – just get through May and things will get back to normal.”

Nothing lasts forever, and time is always passing no matter what, and I’ve used this technique to get me through many, many things – presentations or meetings I’m nervous about, conversations I’m not looking forward to, excessively long plane rides, periods of uncertainty. In 24 hours it’ll be over. This time tomorrow I’ll know. Only 93 hours until I’m past this and back in my bed.

Lately though, in perhaps a kind of new year new me style, an unintended resolution and an accidental mantra, I’ve been making myself stop doing that. The point of life is not to get to the next period of calm, the next set of days where you don’t have to think too hard because you’re going to know exactly what each day is going to look like. I’ve never wanted things to be that easy, and it only occurred to me recently that it wasn’t just the comfort of my routine I was looking for, but the safety of it.

I’ve been out of my apartment almost every other weekend since the beginning of March. I’m going to Seattle this week to reunite with two of my best friends from college. My dad’s coming to town next week and I’m house sitting in TriBeCa again. I’m planning a trip to Nashville. I’m going to Vietnam in September and I’m going back to poke around Australia again over Christmas. I’ve just about used up all of my vacation days and Summer Fridays are coming up soon. It’s going to be warm and there are so many things to see and I’m going to relish these disruptions. I’m going to remember that the point is not to get past things, but to enjoy them.

 

Wanted: A Millennial who knows what the f*ck she’s doing

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I talk (write?) a lot about my job on this blog and how hard it was to get where I am today (currently on my bed, watching bob’s burgers, in a blanket burrito). But it’s not like I spent my childhood dreaming of being an agent’s assistant, or even working in publishing. My quote-unquote dream job changed fairly often as I was growing up and they all spanned a multitude of subjects.

When I was very little I wanted to be an illustrator. I always loved drawing, requesting sketch pads and crayons every Christmas. I remember one weekend, where my sister and I sat at my grandmother’s dining room table using water colors to paint, thinking that my sister was going to write books, and I was going to draw things for them. But I soon realized that my talents were never going to get any better than my third grade hand.

Once I realized this, I shifted focus. Dolphins had recently become my favorite animal and getting to spend days splashing around with them sounded like absolute bliss (reminder this was a pre blackfish world we were living in). This desire to train sea animals lasted throughout most of middle school until one day my mom took me to the Baltimore Aquarium to see an actual dolphin show (to help support my interests – thanks mom!). During the performance, one of the trainers talked about how one becomes a trainer, and listed the many books and courses one would have to read and take – and though I’m not proud of this, the  thought of all that work just to play with dolphins soured the whole process. So naturally I switched to a much more manageable career.

Not. Around the end of middle school/early high school I was reading a lot of non-fiction and was also getting into my family history. Not to mention, my immediate family and I were always into shows like The West Wing and NCIS. All of this contributed to my desire to be a spy for the CIA. My maternal grandfather had worked for the CIA and I was intrigued by international travel and the excitement of a high stakes environment. So, to once again foster support for my budding interests, my mom took me to the International Spy Museum in DC and bought me a memoir written by a former agent. But after this and my own extensive research it became apparent that a life of a spy was much harder and a lot more boring than I originally had thought. And I was slowly becoming much more interested in talking to “interesting people” than actually being an “interesting person” myself.

This was the beginning of a hope for a career in journalism. In high school I got super into music and subscribed to Rolling Stone magazine. I loved how the editors covered any topic under the sun and weren’t afraid to tout controversial ideas (this was about ten years ago when legalized weed was still a pretty controversial issue). I learned all about the history of music and politics and Hunter S. Thompson. I found new and interesting people to follow on budding social media websites. And this interest eventually led me to other quirky outlets such as McSweeny’s Quarterly Concern. All of this showed me that anything can be a story if you tell it interestingly enough. And it seemed like all the writers in these magazines got to sit down with the “most interesting people in the world” and ask them questions about why they do what they do. Nothing sounded more fascinating to me.

To this day I am still fascinated by it. Though my focus in college shifted from journalism to history, I still wanted to write and talk about interesting people and social trends. But what changed is the kinds of stories that I wanted to tell. In college I realized that I didn’t just want to be a mouth piece for something or someone else. I wanted to create something new – by myself, for myself. Once I realized I wasn’t going to pursue a journalism career, I started looking at avenues that would allow me to think about and work on stories every day. Thus when I graduated, I started to look for jobs in publishing.

Today I still don’t necessarily know what my passion is or “what I want to be when I grow up.” I know that I have always wanted to perform and draw and act and express my self visually. And I know that I have the skills and connections to navigate an industry that can be unrelenting. But I wish I wasn’t so timid about expressing my passions no matter what they are. Sometimes I am afraid that my lack commitment to any career or idea, will result in me never finding something that truly fills my soul.

But perhaps, I won’t ever need to figure that out. Barring some lack of inherent talent, I knew that if I worked hard enough, I would be capable of pursuing every career listed above – and maybe that’s all that matters.

I Found Love in a Hopeless Place

1-UVt3VAqz-s1r03HMbhdYQAHey guys…remember that time when I said I hoped the next time something hard happened I’d be able to push through it and write this blog anyway?

HA.

Let me set the stage:

Listen, sometimes a diet of NPR and West Wing does things to a person. I once made people switch seats with me at a bar so I could watch the coverage of the government shut down while they were watching…sports of some kind. I’ve often told people I have a huge crush on Jon Favreau and then had to explain that I meant Obama-speech-writer Jon Favreau, not Iron-Man-movies Jon Favreau. And then had to pull a picture of Obama speech-writer-Jon Favreau on my phone. I yell at people a lot, everyone from my parents to my sister to coworkers and friends and random people at bars. It gets me in all kinds of trouble.

Post-election was the worst kind of hangover, the kind where you know something awful happened the night before but you have no idea what the outcome is going to be or if you’re going to be able to come back from it. It was the kind of natural disaster where you reach out to the people you love just to let them know you love them. I kept wanting to have some kind of wake. The worst kind of finding out that Santa Claus isn’t real.

I really didn’t want to care about it anymore. I ended up with months of backlogs of podcasts that I knew I’d never listen to but couldn’t delete because just looking at them upset me. I read the articles and the tweets and I made the posts and the phone calls but it was all out of some kind of desperate anxiety more than any kind of passion.

Plus, there’s no one to yell at anymore. Everyone is just as desperate, just as numb, just as outraged as you. Unless your specific type of Trump-feelings match up with someone else’s at the exact right moment in time, you just end up yelling into their void, or nodding vacantly while they yell into yours.

So I was ripe for the taking when I found Crooked Media. They’d been doing the Keeping it 1600 podcast under the Ringer company during the election, which I had never gotten around to listening to because my own personal podcast renaissance hadn’t started yet, but after the election they moved to start their own company. They’ll give you a lot of good reasons why, but I think the answer is mostly that they wanted a lot more yelling and profanity.

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Be still my heart, Jon Favs. 

The group includes Jon Favreau (of crush fame) and his friends Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor. They all are in their early to mid-thirties, which means they were working for Obama in their mid-twenties, which is staggering. In addition to yelling a lot, they also seem to be very close friends who are really smart and have a lot of faith in each other. It’s like a real life West Wing, made all the more similar because we only listen to them a few times a week and don’t see all the hard, boring stuff that goes on behind the scenes.

This is not a prescription. Their particular mode of yelling and analyzing and anger might not work for you. And that’s cool. But nothing in the Trump era has given me quite so much catharsis as listening to a usually calm, tempered Tommy Vietor absolutely lose his shit about the attempted ACA repeal, or as much joy as Favreau’s suggestion that George Soros use SquareCash to pay all us hardworking protesters. And on the days where I can’t bring myself to open the 5Calls app on my phone because of exhaustion or anxiety or whatever, I can always find a push in one of them asking “So what can you guys do to help?” and then making sure we get the answer.

Well that’s one version of the story. The other is that I still have a giant crush on Jon Favreau and when I describe their podcasts to people I call it intellectual puppy bowl. I’m a sucker for their team-as-family, puppy pile bro aesthetic, and I cannot be denied. I also happen to get informed in the meantime.

Listen, people. We have to find joy where we can.