Happy New Year

I can’t believe the last time I posted was last year! <— Dad joke.

 

Is it really a new year if you have a blog and don’t mention the new year in an entire blog post? No. I don’t think it is.

 

2017 was a huge year for us in a lot of ways:

 

  • I wrote a lot more. A lot more than I did before while getting paid for it.
  • Luke came out to the world as himself, a transgender boy.
  • We moved to Portland.
  • Dan quit his job (entirely) at Pepsi.
  • The kids started at a new school.

 

2017 had some really amazing spots in it. I loved the way my family rallied around us when Luke came out. I loved the way James’ teachers at Asotin worked their asses off to see him succeed. I loved moving from our small town to a large community. We got to march in the pride parade in Seattle. Pat and Lily moved and are so close to us now. We got Frida the Iggy. Danny started a job he adores. I met some people who I just love.

 

2017 had some really awful parts, too. My anxiety and OCD was at an all-time high. We said goodbye to friends in different ways. Trump became president and I watched as members of my beautiful family (and millions of others who share the communities of people we share) were criticized by him in various ways, many times. I cried more in 2017 than I think I ever have.

 

But I found people; I found my people in all of it. Some of them have been there all along, I just didn’t recognize how important they’d be to me until recently. I’m braver than I thought I was. I stepped out and trusted my gut even though it was really hard. I stood up to people who I was afraid of before and I found my voice when I needed it. I made friends with people who inspire me, people who give me hope.

 

I discovered that if people want to be offended, they will read into anything I write or say and make it about them and be offended, despite my disclaimers (because I’m paranoid and have anxiety that I will offend someone) that nothing is directed at anyone in particular. I’ve learned to tell my stories and truth anyway. I’ve learned more about loss and watched as friends said goodbye to parents or boyfriends or best friends. That’s the hardest. Grief is confusing and sucks and watching people you love go through it is awful.

 

I learned so much in 2017.

 

I don’t think 2018 is going to be some huge drastic transformation but I do know that the way I view situations and relationships and the pace of life has shifted. And I think that’s going to be a good thing for me.

 

  • Arguing over the internet over anything solves nothing. Sometimes, even if you feel like if you don’t speak up you have failed, it’s better to keep quiet. There are other ways to advocate. I get sucked in by trolls and I need to not get so worked up. Facebook is out for me now.
  • People won’t always empathize with me and my situation and I have to be okay with that. Everyone has something on their mind, hard things they focus on. It’s okay for not everyone to try and see my point of view. And it’s okay for me to be quietly disappointed but move on.
  • Things I value and think are important may be different than what other people value and think are important and that’s okay. I might think other people are dumb for it and they might think I’m dumb for it. But we don’t share exact experiences, so that’s to be expected.
  • Money doesn’t equal Happiness
  • Faith is more than religion and prayers and Sunday mornings.
  • The skateboard/snowboarding community is still the best community.
  • Social media can shake someone. And it’s okay to unfriend someone if it’s better for your mental health. I used to be SO offended when someone unfriended me, acted like it was a personal attack. Silly. Sometimes people unfriend you because it makes their lives simpler, less cluttered, more peaceful for any reason at all. And that’s okay. It’s weird what social media can do to one’s confidence.
  • Apologizing is necessary.
  • Forgiving is hard, but also necessary.
  • It’s never okay to be malicious.

 

In 2018 I will do more of what makes me happy. I will try and always be kind and generous even when it’s really, really, hard. I will raise my children to be global citizens – to care about the entire world, not just their neighborhood or their city or their culture. I’ll see more live concerts and take more classes and play more games with my kids. I’ll smile more and laugh more and try and be less self-conscious. In the past, I’ve been a friend that requires a lot of energy thanks to anxiety and ocd and probably a lot of other things – but this year I want to try and find ways to help manage all of that, things other than (and in addition to) medication.

 

(Oops, another disclaimer: YOU in the following is meant as a general YOU. Not to anyone specific. Hand to heart, I swear it.)

I want to apologize to anyone I’ve offended in 2017 (or before). If I ever mean to offend, I’ll make sure you know it (this is for anyone who attacks my family personally or any members of it)  — so please know that if you feel like I’ve directed my anger or frustrations or criticism towards you, and you are wondering, I haven’t. I want to apologize if you’ve been someone who has felt like they’ve had to change who they are to be my friend. I never want anyone to have to change who they are because they think I’m trying to make them. I’m not that powerful or influential, and I want you to know that I don’t think that of myself. I have a loud voice but that doesn’t mean I’m always confident. I know what is right for my family, but that doesn’t mean I think it’s right for everyone. If you feel like I’ve tried to make all of this true, I apologize.

I want people to know that while I may sound or read like someone who thinks she has it all figured out, I don’t. I want people to know that I’m always willing to hear you out and I will respect what you have to say as long as it’s not malicious or racist or homophobic or transphobic or xenophobic or any of those other -ics. If it is, I’ll walk away. I’m willing to hear what you have to say and talk about things even if we don’t see eye to eye.

I love to laugh and be silly and post snap chat after snap chat and Instagram after Instagram and I’ll still do it in 2018. I love Hamilton and hip hop and Bravo and my dog and spontaneity and routine (that sounded a little oxymoronic but meh). I love capturing moments and curating spaces and while I love order I also love chaos. I love my family and I love the spirits of each of my kittens. I love Jamie’s long hair and I love Luke’s goofy smile. I love Charlotte’s sass and I love Ollie’s dancing and singing. I love Maria’s kind heart and Francesca’s spunk. I love Danny’s easy going vibe and his trust. I love writing and blogging only when I want to (and mostly just for myself) and I love finding writers that feel like they are speaking to me. I love my friends: the ones back in the valley and the ones here. The ones I’m close to and the ones who I’m not as close with. All of them have given me something I will always laugh and smile about and love. That’s a true statement.

Happy New Year! ❤

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Double 3s

My favorite person in the entire world is 33 today.

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33 Facts About Danny:

  1. He can quote Dumb and Dumber from the first word spoken to the last.
  2. His eyelashes are approximately 18” long.
  3. He knows how to swaddle a baby, very well.
  4. Even though every other cousin/sibling got to drive a sports car in high school, he got to drive a tiny, old (like…really old) bright blue Pepsi truck and was cool with it.
  5. My dad once called Pepsi to narc on that blue Pepsi truck for spinning circles in the ice of his parking lot.
  6. His love for Pendleton (the wool brand) runs deep.
  7. He’s super ticklish.
  8. He’s an amazing cook.
  9. He’s a foodie. He’ll try anything (seriously, think of the grossest thing, he’d probably eat it).
  10. He can name at least 10 My Little Pony characters AND name their cutie mark.
  11. He knows what a cutie mark is.
  12. He’s a great musician but will always tell you he sucks.
  13. He’s a gamer. 1st person shooter games are his favorite and you should see him sit with his headset, talking to his teammates who are probably 14 year old boys.
  14. He’s the best at pretending to be asleep.
  15. He loves and appreciates art of all types.
  16. He can almost curl his mustache.
  17. He is the reason there’s an amazing skatepark in Lewiston, Idaho. Hours and hours and hours AND HOURS were spent by him to get that put in. He’s created a place for the community, for everyone to use and was the last to ask for praise and thanks and compliments.
  18. He’s served on many boards of directors.
  19. He skateboards almost every day.Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 2.12.55 AM
  20. He is up for any adventure, even if it requires a lot of work and effort for a short amount of time (i.e.: camping for one night with six kids)
  21. He should be a science or history teacher: he knows so much about that stuff (and is interested in it) and is amazing with kids.
  22. He wanted to go to culinary school after high school
  23. He makes the best cocktails.
  24. He’s insanely generous and would do anything anyone asked him if he thought it would help him.
  25. He can hang with older businessmen or teenagers at the skatepark and he can do both with ease. Everyone loves him.
  26. We were late to a dance once because he had to flat iron his hair.Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 2.13.32 AM
  27. He’s a lover, not a fighter. I don’t think you could get in a fight with Danny if you tried.
  28. He loves chichorrones.
  29. He listens to every genre of music and can find something he likes in them all.
  30. He’s watched LOTR more times than I want to even try and count.
  31. He has the kindest soul of anyone you will meet and if you know Dan, you’re lucky.
  32. He’s always crazy cool, calm and collected.
  33. He can install a carseat in 10 seconds flat.

 

In short, Danny is amazing. He’s the best. If you know him, you know how kind and genuine and patient and generous he is. If you’re his friend, he doesn’t just love you, he loves your family, too, and will do anything for you. He’s the best dad and no one can make the kids laugh as hard as he can. He’s as authentic as they come. He cares about his family and would do anything to make sure we are happy and healthy. Some people base success and status on how much money you have or make, but Dan sees you as successful if you aren’t an asshole, you aren’t greedy, and you take care of your people, whoever your people may be, however they need to be taken care of.  Dan will get shit done – ask anyone who has asked a favor of him and they can confirm.

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Having severe anxieties and OCD can make me a frustrating person to live with. I need constant reassurance (“Dan, are you sure my headache isn’t a brain tumor?” “Dan, are you sure what I said was okay?” “Dan, are you sure x, y, or z doesn’t think I’m a bitch?” “Dan, are you sure……”) and sometimes I panic. Sometimes I can’t stop worrying about something and I’ll talk about it non-stop. Dan’s my constant. He’s the one thing I know will never change, will always be. He doesn’t get annoyed by me (at least he doesn’t show it) and he’s willing to help me talk things out if that’s what I need. I knew 16 years ago that he was my person and I’ve never once questioned or doubted that.


Being a parent of a child with special needs isn’t easy. It isn’t fun. It’s exhausting and frustrating and sometimes you feel like you are learning a new language as your child grows and changes and no matter how hard you try, you’ll never be fluent. But you still try. You change your life to accommodate your child’s and you find an extra voice inside you to to speak up for them when they need it. Dan is all of this.

 

Our family isn’t typical and I honestly can’t think of a Dad, husband, or, person even, who is better suited for it, who would be able to handle the really stressful, frustrating and hard times like Dan does and be as happy and fun and calm and hilarious and awesome no matter what.

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Dan, my friends, is a gem.

Happy Birthday, Danny, you’re the best of the best. ❤

 

Frida Kahlo (not the painter)

I’m not sure I’ve actually done a post yet about my pride and joy.

No, not my kids, dummies. My dog.

Yes, you heard me right, I actually love a dog. My dog. My adorable Italian Greyhound named Frida Kahlo.

Okay, so you may remember me having dogs in the past. And then not having those dogs anymore. They didn’t die, no, we gave them to incredibly loving homes. I’m not a complete monster. There was Indy and Jack and Susie and Zeek….am I missing any? Probably. Anyway, I was quietly obsessed with Italian Greyhounds for a while and NO it wasn’t because one of the Kardashians is, too. I actually really wanted a big greyhound because Jenny had two and they were amazing. But having another big dog was not in the cards for us. But I could hide a small one for a while.

That led to my secret purchase the weekend we moved to Portland:

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Just look at her.

So she’s tiny and her legs are like toothpicks and when she runs she’s insane and when you carry her she looks like a fawn. She’s such a badass.

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My favorite thing? Her ridiculous instagram page in which I caption photos in her voice and sometimes score free stuff like Sojo dog food and dog clothes.

YOU GUYS. DOG CLOTHES.

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I mean, we are Rip City.

And look at those rubber booties. I die. I die because it’s so dumb and hilarious and awesome.

She sleeps at my feet at night and doesn’t like leaving my side which I’m oddly okay with. I’m fresh out of babies so she’s the next best thing I guess.

 

(don’t worry, the kids and danny will always rank higher than Frida. But Frida is higher than Scout. Sorry.)

Hanukkah and new traditions with new friends in new places

Last year I wrote an article for Inland 360 about Hanukkah and what my friend Rachel taught me. I’ve always been interested in Jewish traditions despite not being Jewish myself. Since moving to Portland, my interest is even more. I’ve made many friends who are Jewish and watching them as they celebrate the new year and Hanukkah makes me want to be a part of it. And no, I’m not converting. If I’m being honest, I’m in a bit of a religion break at the moment. Faith can be a tricky thing sometimes.

(I’ve been made fun of for this, and say what you want. I don’t mind.)

I’m so thankful for friends who invite us into their lives and don’t think we’re weird or strange for wanting to learn and take part.

I’m even more thankful for friends who do things like throw my kids a Hanukkah party . DUDE. Jenna is amazing. My kids absolutely adore her and Isaac is just as good. They put SO much time and effort into an incredible day and my kids had a blast.

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(there’s me and Jenna)

She made latkes and donuts.

We played dreidel and ate our weight in gelt.

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We made menorahs and learned a couple prayers.

It was the best time.

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Do you know what it feels like to start over? To move somewhere completely new and put yourself out there, hoping someone will accept you and your family with all your quirks and weirdness but all your love and authenticity too? I know a lot of people know exactly what it feels like but we are experiencing this really strange and scary feeling for the first time. In the last couple months there have been friendships that haven’t carried over from our valley life to our Portland life and while that might make me really sad, I’m able to look at our Portland life and see the amazing people we’ve met here. Jenna and Isaac, who are always happy to see us, hug our kids, and be there when things might be hectic or hard. Mitch and Molly and baby Max who are so kind and friendly and always make our days happier. Chad who is freaking hilarious and freaking fun and just a solid friend. So many more.

I remember thinking to myself before moving, “I’m just going to not make any friends because it never turns out the way I think it should and I end up being sad no matter how hard I try. Remedy: no friends.”

That didn’t happen, I made friends. Really great ones.

Being here reminds me that the world is really big, something that was easy to forget before. It reminds me that things work out even when people doubt you and your choices and that happiness is more than a paycheck and a big house. Our little neighborhood is full of different people of different colors and different faiths and different sizes of paychecks and no one cares one bit. To me, that’s important.

There’s that guy who walks his husky and hates our Italian Greyhound. I’m not sure he really likes us much.

But other than that, we feel connected to the people here. We feel the vibe and if that sounds weird to you, maybe you haven’t found yours yet.

 

III

Francesca is three. Our baby is three — what?! Do you know what this means? It means a lot of things. Among them:

  • no diapers (okay, only part way true — I don’t trust her during the night)
  • independent play (thank god my kids have always been quite independent when it comes to occupying themselves, but it’s even better now)
  • no free entries to many places
  • attitude

France skipped the terrible twos and decided to jump right into the naughty threes. She’s a good girl, don’t get me wrong, but she knows what she wants and she will do what she has to in order to get what she wants. She’ll scratch, bite, scream, go boneless, yell, stomp, pout, you name it. We spend a lot of time laughing at her because she can be so ridiculous (imagine her screaming, “FINE!!” after I threaten privileges).

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Oh, but we all love this girl so much. She is hilarious. Her facial expressions are plentiful and she loves to cuddle. She wants to be one of the big kids so bad but likes being the baby, too. Speaking of babies, look at her just three years ago:

 

She’s still so beautiful.

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This has been a big year for her. She hasn’t been much of a worry for us. Weird to say, right? But she gets the normal earache now and then, she isn’t so sassy and awful that we can’t handle it (ha!), she sleeps well, eats well, and for the most part is a pretty easy kid despite all my sassy jokes. How quickly I’m reminded that things can go wrong when you least expect it.

(Preface: she is COMPLETELY okay and healthy)

The last couple of weeks we’ve been a bit stressed and scared, had blood tests and x-rays, monitored fevers and juggled prescriptions. Poor thing has been sick and other odd things and had us worried. After everything came back normal (some elevated markers showing infection, but nothing serious) and I was able to relax, it reminded me that we are beyond lucky to have healthy children, something that’s so easy to take for granted, and something I try really hard not to.

TL;DR – Franci is three and she’s amazing. We love her sweet side and we love her sassy side and we’re so lucky to have her.

Thanksgiving Week and other things

It’s Thanksgiving week! I’m yelling that because I can’t believe it. October flew by like the murder of crows that fly by my house every morning (I’m serious, they freak me the eff out, and it’s like clockwork every single day). The kids are in the middle of “No School November” which is exactly what it sounds like: they have so many days off. The week before last they had a five day weekend and again this week. I feel like there’s another day coming up that’s off, but I could be making that up. So today is their Friday, they’re gonna come home and just TRASH MY HOUSE because that’s what kids do. Meanwhile, I’ll be doing things like reading, watching Netflix, and yelling, “Work it out on your own and please stop screaming,” from my couch. It’s gonna be nice. Reallllllll nice.

Dan has tomorrow and Thursday off and what do we plan on doing? A whole lot of nothing. Plus this class from Notary Ceramics where I’ll be making a floral arrangement in a really beautiful floral bowl. Check out the site, she’s quite the artist.

This is a year for firsts for us, obviously. And this week we’ll be experiencing our first holiday alone, without extended family. In addition to that, we’re not even cooking Thanksgiving dinner, we’re going out. (1) the kids will not appreciate the time and money that would go in to making the best Thanksgiving dinner, (2) I don’t really like cooking, (3) cleaning up suuuuuucks and (4) why not? And we’ll probably eat early then hit up the movie theater to see Coco and stuff our faces with more food like popcorn and candy. I can’t wait.

I’m so thankful, and since I probably won’t get back on here before Thursday, here’s my list of things I’m most thankful for:

  • The kittens
  • Danny
  • my family
  • Bravo
  • white chocolate mochas
  • memes
  • books
  • online coupon codes
  • friends
  • dan’s job
  • my weighted blanket
  • frida the dog
  • US weekly
  • live concerts and shows and brothers who sometimes buy tickets without thinking and always have extras
  • coconut chips
  • texting
  • Netflix
  • Larry David
  • buttermilk bars
  • Disneyland
  • skateboarding and skateboarders
  • people who make me laugh
  • anxiety and ocd medication

I mean, there’s lots more. I could specify my favorite sweatshirt or Netflix series’ or stores in Portland, but no one really even wants to read the existing list let alone one that’s three times as long.

What I’m saying here is that I’m thankful for lots. And I’m thankful for you, the people who support me and the people who make me think differently about issues I haven’t previously thought much about.

 

Happy Thanksgiving, lovelies.

Update from PDX

We’re here. It’s been quiet on the blog – I’ve had so much I’ve wanted to talk about but it all just seemed too heavy. It’s hard to find light words for something you feel really deeply about; this is true for me at least. When I go that route, when I scream all the things that have been worrying, stressing, and have been hard on me, afterwards I have extreme anxiety that I have offended someone or that someone might think I’m talking directly to them, so I don’t do it at all. I’ve worked really hard to get over that, to remember to tell my story, all my stories, because they’re mine.

ann lamott

 

Now, I don’t blast people personally, but sometimes it’s easy to figure out where I’m going with a post, what experience I’ve had and with whom. This might be a little more straightforward.

Okay, so the kids are in school and it’s going well. Maria has a really great group of friends, Charlotte is having some difficulty with separation anxiety but she’ll be okay, James comes home happy each day and Luke loves it.

To those of you at Asotin who were faculty members and also supported Luke during his transition and us as a family and allowed (or wanted to allow) us to create a safe and happy environment for him at school through education: THANK YOU. You know exactly who you are.

The principal was always supportive of us. He went above and beyond to make sure Luke was happy and safe. Same with the school psychologist, Luke’s teacher, and several other teachers who were vocal with their support. There were some REALLY lovely families who treated us no differently and I just love them all for all of that.

The superintendent? He called in attorneys before allowing any classes to be talked to about my child’s transition. And after that, he didn’t even allow me to share this HUGE, gigantic, life-changing transition that Luke was going through with his peers and classmates in a way that was easy to understand and promoted kindness and acceptance rather than judgement. One of the 2nd grade teachers made it her mission (it seemed like, although I can’t say that’s fact, ha) to make sure her students heard NONE of it.  I remember quite well her saying, “You know what’s going to happen? Our class Facebook page is going to blow up with angry parents and I’m going to have to deal with it.”

Uhhh…guess what? You’re the teacher. You do, in fact, have to deal with hard things that come up with other students with your parents. It’s kind of part of the job. Mind all of you, the kids went to a public school in Asotin. It wasn’t a private school in which Luke’s transition went against its core beliefs. The reason I was unable to come and read a children’s book (“I Am Jazz”) to them was because it would “be like teaching curriculum and they don’t have parents come in to do that.” Teachers and parents spoke about us behind our backs, I got tattled on for writing a blog post (hilarious — because it meant someone went out of their way to try and stir the pot). People who were so nice to me and friendly before pretended like they didn’t know me when I saw them in public.

How different our experience was here in Portland. For one, Luke’s teacher asked me if I could come in and talk about our experience and what transgender means and answer any questions. I offered and even asked if I could do that at the old school. I think the principal (a really incredible man) would have been fine with it, but the superintendent (with some pressure from some teachers I’m thinking) said no. Instead, Luke told his class on his own. This shy boy told his class and then they went home without a clear understanding and without questions answered, possibly to parents who disagree and decide Luke’s not a good friend anymore. Yeah, that happened. We were dumped a few times. (so thankful for our lifelong, beautiful friends)

Luke’s teacher, when I asked if any parents would be upset, she said, “I don’t care. Maybe? But we’re teaching them something. We’re learning about differences and what makes us unique.” I asked if I could say the word “transgender” and she laughed and said absolutely. I don’t have to tell you what happened last year when the word transgender came up.

Children asked questions that were sensitive and inquisitive and kind, but real. “Will Luke have boy parts when he’s older?” “Did he always know he was a boy?” “Were you guys surprised?” and my favorite: “Is he happy?”

Yes. Luke is really, really happy.

And guess what, an 8 year old asked, “Will Luke marry a boy or a girl when he’s older?” and NO ONE LAUGHED. Because it’s a natural questions, something that even adults wonder I am sure. I answered, “Well, I’m not sure! I guess we will have to wait and see.” After I said that, NO ONE LAUGHED or gasped or giggled. Because children are good. Children are kind and accepting and inquisitive unless taught otherwise. Thank GOD for parents who practice what they preach, who value love and kindness over status and who teach their children to mind their manners and “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”

And what makes me sad is that my tiny hometown community will continue to live in a bubble if there are no advocates for change. Children will go out into the world and find it to be this strange and scary place with people who don’t look just like them if their only lessons in diversity come from school. Teachers who don’t learn about their own students, their own community, their own future leaders and choose not to attend information sessions given to them will continue to teach only what they think and know: that different is scary, different isn’t good, different requires a parent consent form before learning about it. But what’s hard to grasp is the fact that it takes more than just a few dedicated teachers, a few parents who are willing to do the work. It takes more than a hefty handful of hard working advocates of change. As cliché as it sounds, it really does take a village. And I think we all just hope our village is kind and diverse and accepting and willing to put in the work.

 


 

In other news, people are constantly asking how it’s going for Danny and work and commuting to Pendleton. It’s not. That wasn’t a good schedule for our family – for him to be gone 5 days/nights a week. The kids asked if he lived somewhere else. They cried because they missed him. I hated it, of course. Everyday I think of how lucky I am that I have Danny. It was a difficult yet simple decision to quit his job at Pepsi and find something in Portland. I’m doing some freelance writing stuff for random online sources and we’re pretty sure of where Dan will be working but it isn’t final yet. Basically, we’re doing great. I know that it’s a decision that many people in our position wouldn’t make, but it works for us and it’s really no one else’s concern. Our kids are happy and we are happy and we’re all healthy and that’s what matters. It really is, don’t let anyone else tell you any differently.


 

I made friends, you guys. I made several. Most came from Josh but whatevs. We go to trivia and we have porch drinks and meet at bomb places like Cat’s Paw and parks and we love it. Portland feels like home and I’m so happy. My anxiety isn’t as intense and that’s something I’ve waited years to say.


 

And just because I can’t pretend it’s not happening: Trump. WHERE THE HELL ARE WE LIVING?! In what wonderful, dreamy place is it okay to blame people going through a tragedy for putting our budget out of whack? How does a country full of dreams and opportunity decide guns and the KKK are okay? How can anyone be okay with the hatred and bigotry and stupidity spewing from our awful president’s pie hole? But I’m like everyone: what exactly can we do? It’s like we’re stuck and it seems impossible that if, by this point he’s still ‘in charge,’ he’ll ever be out. I’m really lucky to have people who inspire me and speak out, and lots of them. Jimmy Kimmel, Trevor Noah, Stephen Colbert, James Cordon: late nights are using their platform to speak out. Thank god. Instagram accounts like @_stillwerise and @slaythepatriarchy and @agirlhasnopresident and TONS of other personal accounts who aren’t afraid to go against what’s socially acceptable and socially polite and speak out against hate. I want to be braver, to be more like them.

 

So, I mean, happy Thursday guys! LOL. I’ll leave you with some pictures.