Bad times all the time

Don’t marry a bad bacon eater is what they said

My wedding dress. On sale for $39 at Macy’s and I have worn it again

Mr T and I got married 12 years ago today.

It was a crummy week.

The rest of the world was fine, though. The rest of the world was not on fire, figuratively and literally.

We got married and we spent our wedding night on the pullout sofa bed in the basement.

NARRATOR: IT WAS NOT COMFORTABLE.

Why were we on the pullout sofa bed in the basement?

Because Mr T’s mom and dad were in our bedroom. My mom was in the guest room.

Mr T’s mom and dad had come to the wedding despite telling Mr T not to marry me and then threatening to boycott the wedding. I wish they had boycotted because then we would have felt comfortable inviting our friends. We didn’t invite our best friends to our wedding because we knew there would be drunken drama and we didn’t want to have to deal with all of that.

Mr T’s mom and dad told Mr T not to marry me because I was a gold digger who was marrying him just for his money —

NARRATOR: BUT HE DIDN’T REALLY HAVE ANY AND HIS PARENTS HAD ALREADY DISINHERITED HIM WHICH WAS FINE BECAUSE IT’S THEIR MONEY AND THEY GET TO DO WHAT THEY WANT WITH IT BUT THEN WHY DID THEY MAKE HIM THE EXECUTOR THAT’S JUST MEAN

— and because I eat bacon all wrong

NARRATOR: BUT THE BACON THING IS COMPLETELY UNFORGIVABLE.

They came to our wedding anyhow. And we didn’t invite our friends.

We should have eloped and invited our friends to the elopement.

If you have family issues and are wondering what to do about your wedding, just don’t tell your parents.

Seriously. Just cut them out. Get married without them because I promise you the drama will always be there. The drama will never leave and they will bring the drama to your wedding and you will have nothing but drama at your wedding and you won’t have your friends and for every year after, you will regret your decision.

If you cajole your mean alcoholic parents into attending your wedding anyhow – the wedding they threaten to boycott , they will attend and they will stay in your house for nine days.

NARRATOR: DO NOT LET YOUR PARENTS STAY IN YOUR HOUSE. DO NOT LET THEM STAY IN YOUR HOUSE FOR NINE DAYS

The first thing they will do after they arrive – after your husband drives to Chicago to pick them up so they can have a direct flight – is ask you to take them to the liquor store, which, in its own weird way, is the polite thing to do, as booze is not cheap and they consume a lot of it.

NARRATOR: THEY WILL STILL DRINK YOUR GOOD BOOZE BUT NOT AS MUCH OF IT

The next thing they will do is fill up on cheese and crackers with the 10 oz tumblers of bourbon at 4:00 p.m., which means they are not hungry at 7:00 p.m. when you put steak or roast chicken or whatever on the supper table just for them.

NARRATOR: HIDE YOUR $24/LB GOOD CARR VALLEY CHEESE EVEN IF THEY SAY THEY ARE LACTOSE INTOLERANT

Then they will criticize you for using cloth napkins and for hanging your laundry on a clothesline instead of using a dryer.

NARRATOR: THEY WERE ACTUALLY BIG ENVIRONMENTALISTS

They will get drunk every night.

At your wedding, they will not take photographs. When your mom is taking photos, they will not ask her to take any with them.

When you go to the lake after the wedding to take more photos with your siblings, your mom and her gentlemen caller, and Mr T’s beautiful Bonus Daughters, they will return to the house with Mr T’s brother to drink.

When your mom sends you copies of the photos to send to Mr T’s parents, they will tell Mr T they are very offended that they do not appear in any.

At the wedding supper, they will get drunk. And when Mr T’s father offers a toast, he will manage to sort of wish Mr T unhappiness – “I hope you are as happy in your second marriage as I have been”

NARRATOR: HE DID NOT APPEAR TO BE HAPPY IN HIS SECOND MARRIAGE

but he will also make it through the toast without ever once referring to Mr T’s new wife, either by name or pronoun or even the word “wife.”

The only fun parts of your wedding is when Mr T’s parents aren’t around. And there are those moments and those are the moments you treasure: the evening at the karaoke bar with your mom, her gentleman caller, and your brother and sister. The walk with Mr T’s bonus daughters. The in-between time at the lake with your mom, her caller, your siblings, and Mr T’s bonus daughters.

NARRATOR: BUT THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER EXCEPT FOR THE PEOPLE WHO DIED. THE END.

 

The new mini ice age, or, the year there was no summer

I remember when we used to have joy in our lives

Fight fight fight. Don’t give up. Let’s carry on the revolution for RBG.

As I walked into city hall today, I heard live music. It was a cello and a flute, warming up for something.

I almost didn’t recognize it. I haven’t heard live music since February. I have not heard live music in over six months.

It brought me to tears.

We have lost so much.

We have lost so much because of the poor leadership of this country.

We have lost over 200,000 lives, which is the biggest tragedy of all.

We have lost businesses. People have lost their livelihoods.

We have lost hellos and goodbyes and celebrations and laments and our summer and joy and collective sorrow and we have lost everything. EVERYTHING.

And it did not have to be this way.

Mr T and I are very lucky. I know that.

But even with that, even with not getting sick or with having already lost my job for non-covid reasons so I can’t blame that on the current soon to be ex I hope president, even with being lucky, we did not attend the wedding of the daughter of one of my best friends. We watched it on zoom.

We did not attend the funeral of my friend who died in July.

We did not go to my uncle’s funeral this week – we watched it on zoom.

We did not go to a single concert this summer.

Nobody did.

We did not go to a single festival.

Nobody did.

We did not go to the state fair.

Nobody did.

We will not go to our college class reunion.

Nobody will.

We have seen one set of friends once – we sat in our driveway.

The husband of my friend who died in July came over last night and we sat in the driveway and it was lovely, but it was cold. We are not going to be able to do that much longer. We don’t dare risk having people indoors. I am volunteering at city hall, which means I am around a lot of people, so I don’t want to expose anyone else.

Our friends T and S, from college, called us last night. They saw something I had written on facebook and were laughing about it. T and S are in Chicago right now, getting ready to sell their house their. We had talked about visiting them the next time they were in town and in the excitement of the moment, decided we would go there this weekend.

We realized it would be the first visit with college friends since last winter.

And then this morning, we realized we couldn’t go to their house, cook dinner, and spend the night. We couldn’t expose them to my city hall germs. We couldn’t do it. We won’t go after all.

I know it’s a small thing and that many people are suffering greatly.

But at the base, all of us are suffering at least this much – we all lost our summer. We lost our celebrations. We lost graduations. We lost weddings. We lost the 4th of July. We lost our funerals. We lost visiting our friends and family.

And we lost if because the president of this country knew what was going on and lied to us and refused to lead.

And, as I write this, I see that Ruth Bader Ginsberg has died.

We are losing everything.

Vote. Vote. Vote.

 

What is, How much money does the patriarchy spend on getting it up?

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I used to wonder why they had fans in church. I wonder no longer.

You guys. I am angry. I am angry about so many things. There is so much to be angry about:

  • Structural racism
  • Regular racism and yes, we see you
  • Regular racism that I might have – that I am terrified that I might have because I DO NOT WANT TO BE RACIST
  • Police brutality
  • Donald Trump
  • Putin’s bounties on American soldiers
  • More than 170,000 (as of the time I am writing this, but it will probably be 180,000 by the time you read this) Americans dead of covid
  • The deliberate sabotage of the USPS in an attempt to undermine the election
  • The lack of action on unemployment insurance. Let me say this: an extra $600 a week is not enough to keep people from wanting to work. You know what that $600 a week does? It lets people pay for their health insurance, which costs $1,100 a month for two people. That’s what Mr T and I pay for ours. So if someone is getting UI, it might cover their family’s health insurance – barely? But if it does that, it doesn’t pay for anything else – not the rent, not the electricity, not food. This idea that people are living it up on $600 a week instead of going to work for $50K a year with benefits – yeah – most people would rather have not enough money to survive than a good job with good benefits.
  • Donald Trump
  • Donald Trump
  • Donald Trump did I mention Donald Trump and all his evil minions?

All of that makes the issue that I am pissed-off about right now seem petty and small but I am going to complain about it anyhow.

Here’s a pop quiz. The answer is an integer between one and ten.

How much more research is done about PMS, which affects 90% of women, than is done for erectile dysfunction, which affects 19% of men?

What did you answer? Four? Seven? Ten? Ten times as much research into PMS than into ED? That would make sense, right? Because PMS affects the majority of women and it’s something that affects us whether we want it or not and it affects our everyday lives. It’s not limited to a recreational function that does not have to happen.

So it makes sense that science and research and money would be focused on women and our health issues instead of on how to help men get it up, which I think we can all agree is not essential to everyday life and the lack thereof is not crippling to everyday life the way menstrual cramps and other symptoms of PMS can be. (I guess cramps are technically M, but you know what I mean.)

Well guess what?

The answer is not four times as much money for PMS.

It is not seven.

It is not ten.

No.

This was a trick question.

Because there is more research about ED than there is about PMS.

You read that correctly.

“There is five times more research into erectile dysfunction, which affects 19% of men, than into premenstrual syndrome, which affects 90% of women.”

Nope. I did not make that up.

It came from a piece in The Guardian.

I was trying to find data on how much money is spent on research about menopause, a condition that affects 50% of the people on this planet, as opposed to erectile dysfunction, a condition that affects some men, some of the time, a condition that is not necessary for the functioning of life, a condition that does not strike him without warning, interrupt his sleep, make him miserable on both hot days and cold days, a condition that if left untreated would not make him otherwise miserable, but guess what it’s almost impossible to find information on menopause research because ALMOST NOBODY IS DOING IT.

I didn’t find much other than The Guardian piece.

It wasn’t just the topic of pain that was poorly researched. The lack of evidence was a problem she encountered time and time again, which is no surprise when you look at the research gap: less than 2.5% of publicly funded research is dedicated solely to reproductive health, despite the fact that one in three women in the UK will suffer from a reproductive or gynaecological health problem.

And I thought, Why am I even surprised? I should know better by now. One third of the women in the UK need female-specific health care but less than 2.5% of the publicly-funded research is devoted to that medical care? I am shocked. Shocked that women’s health needs are overlooked.

It started when I read the story in the Washington Post about Michelle Obama talking about hot flashes and what a pain in the neck they are and I found myself agreeing with her, which is not something I have done in the past.

(But how I long for the days when I thought disagreeing with Barack Obama was my biggest problem.)

Michelle Obama said, “It’s an important thing to take up space in a society, because half of us are going through this, but we’re living like it’s not happening.”

Preach, my sister! I have tried to normalize this kind of conversation. I have tried to talk about hot flashes at work so that other women know this is something that happens and it’s normal.

And I was excited to see Obama talking about it because I thought, “She was a First Lady! She has access! She can get the best medical care! They told her The Secrets!”

Guess what oh wait this will not be a surprise to you.

There are no answers.

Which – again. Are we surprised?

In my googling, I found this:

Spending for the three most popular phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitor drugs to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) tops $1 billion worldwide annually.

Around the world, we – WAIT – MEN – spend a billion dollars just on the drugs for ED.

Just. On. The. Drugs.

Do you know what they do for hot flashes?

There used to be drugs.

But they found out those drugs caused cancer.

So now we don’t get those drugs.

Now there is another solution.

Now they tell me to wear  layers.

I am not making this up.

They tell me to dress in layers.

Women make up half of the population. Those of us who live long enough will go through menopause. Those of us who are unlucky enough will have hot flashes.

I don’t even have bad hot flashes, I don’t think, but I can promise you that even mild hot flashes are not a pleasant experience. During the day, they are distracting and uncomfortable. Have you ever been boiled from inside your stomach while your skin is still cold? I have! Have you ever felt your calf bone sweat? I have!

At night, hot flashes wake me up. I can feel not just my torso but my head getting hot from the inside. Mr T didn’t believe me until the night when he put his hand on my skin and exclaimed, “But you’re HOT!”

Yet we don’t have a pill to stop them?

While we have a pill for erections on demand?

I hate the patriarchy.

Twenty years ago, at my job, birth control pills were not covered by our company health insurance plan.

Viagra was.

This injustice made me angry.

A female co-worker told me I should just ask my doctor to write my prescription as medically necessary, but that didn’t solve the problem for the young receptionist making only $20,000 a year for whom a $30 a month expense was not insignificant.

I wrote to the VP of Human Resources and pointed out that having decisions like this made by middle-aged men who can’t get it up might seem unfair to the younger, lower-paid female employees.

That is probably not what convinced them to change the policy, though. I also pointed out that pregnancy was far more expensive than birth control pills.

Honestly, though? When people say “Representation matters!”

This is the kind of thing they are talking about.

Apple didn’t include a period tracker in the initial version of the Fitbit. Do you think if more (or any – I don’t know who was in the design group) women had been involved in the design of the Fitbit that perhaps a period tracker might have been included?

This is why we need to elect women. This is why we need women in positions of power in both the private and the public sector. This is why we need to talk about hot flashes – and thank you, Michelle Obama, for speaking out.

One. Billion. Dollars.

One. Billion. Dollars.

One billion dollars a year spent on ED drugs.

And the advice to women for hot flashes is to “dress in layers.”

Screw you, patriarchy.

 

 

 

Losers and suckers and who is mourned and who is not

“He just thinks that anyone who does anything when there’s no direct personal gain to be had is a sucker. There’s no money in serving the nation.”

That’s my dad in the photo, newly enlisted in the Coast Guard. He was 19 years old.

He wanted adventure and to see the world.

He also wanted to serve his country.

After his time in the Coast Guard, he took the GI Bill (which was available to him because was white) and went to college, studying Russian history, which was very relevant at the time. He was the first person in his family to go to college; neither of his parents got to go past 8th grade.

Then he joined the air force. He wanted to be a pilot in the navy and tried that first. He ate nothing but carrots for days, hoping it would help him pass the eye exam, but he still failed and was not going to be admitted to flight school, so he switched to the air force.

He went to air force officer candidate school (OCS). While he was home on break, he met my mother in the bar of the bowling alley of their home town, drove her home, got stuck in the ditch at her house, and had to wake my grandfather up at 2:00 a.m. to drag his car out of the ditch. In the Wisconsin February snow and cold.

Plus my grandfather was no fool and knew what had been going on in the car for a while before my mom and dad realized the car was stuck.

He finished OCS and became a maintenance control officer, which means he was in charge of making sure the airplanes were fit to fly. He knew how to fix things and he knew how to lead other people to fix things.

When I was four, he went to Vietnam.

My mother was 25 years old. She had three children. Her husband was sent to the other side of the world. There was no internet. There was no email. There was only the nightly news and a newspaper.

For an entire year, she went to bed every single night not knowing if the next day would be the day that the chaplain would knock on our door.

We moved to Spain, where Franco was running things. My dad wasn’t home a lot – he went to Turkey for a month at a time every few months.

We moved to west Texas. My dad coached my sister’s soccer team. (My mom coached mine.)

My dad taught me to drive stick shift and how to dig dandelions – you have to get the entire root. We rode our bikes to school and my dad insisted that we attach flags to the bikes for visibility.

We moved to the Panama Canal Zone, where Torrijos was the dictator du jour. My dad volunteered with my swim team, took my CYO group camping, and was an adult sponsor for the Sea Scouts. He took my friends and me sailing on the little sailboat he had bought, a dream he had always had.

At 5:00 a.m., my dad would blast the Boston Pops playing Sousa to wake us up to drive to the lake.

The night before my parents drove me to college, from San Antonio to Houston, my dad and I were packing the car.

“If you’re going to get laid,” my dad said, “use protection.”

“Dad!” I said. “You know I don’t believe in pre-marital sex!”

(I mean – I didn’t. I was 17.)

He rolled his eyes. “It’s going to happen. Don’t be stupid about it.”

When I was in college, my dad retired from the air force and went back to school to become certified to be a teacher. Active duty pay is low. Retirement pay is even lower. He got a job at Walmart to supplement his pension.

I was mortified.

My college friends’ fathers were corporate VPs and professors and lawyers and surgeons.

My mother, rightfully so, set me straight. Now I am ashamed of my shame. Is there any love greater than that of a parent who takes a minimum wage job just so he can feed his family?

My dad got his teaching certificate. He and my mom and dad moved to Sicily. At the age of 61, he had gotten a job teaching math and science at the junior high school on the US navy base on Sicily.

A few months later, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

He thought he had pulled a muscle running a 10K.

He was 61 years old.

He thought he had pulled a muscle running a 10K.

It wasn’t a pulled muscle.

It was cancer.

It was cancer that he got because he was exposed to Agent Orange when he was in Vietnam.

He went through months of chemo. He lost over a third of his body weight. He had to use a diaper.

At the Lackland AFB hospital in San Antonio, where he was sent from Sicily, the young airmen who would change his diapers and his sheets always called him “sir” and looked him in the eye.

The hospital chaplain would hang out in my dad’s room to talk to him, just because he liked my dad.

The students he had taught for only four months held two bake sales to raise money to buy him a copy of their yearbook. They all signed it and sent it to him.

Friends my mom and dad had made all over the world – Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Italy – called my dad to wish him well. One friend told my dad that everyone at his mosque in Ankara was praying for his healing.

After five months of treatment, we thought the cancer was in remission. (A matter of luck, not of his being a fighter. Beating cancer is all about luck and nothing but luck.)

He gained weight. He exercised and regained strength. His hair started growing back.

Two months later, the cancer returned.

“Why you?” I asked him. “Why should you have cancer? Why not someone awful and mean?”

“Why not me?” he answered. “What makes me so special that bad things should not happen to me?”

We hoped for a miracle, but the only miracle we got was that after ten days in hospice, the two pound bag of peanut M&Ms that one of my aunts had brought down was left untouched.

On the day he died, which was exactly 23 years, ten days, and six hours ago, he was 62 years and two months old.

It has been 23 years, ten days, and six hours since my dad died.

We still mourn him. We still miss him.

Nobody will miss the current president. There is not one single person alive who will say, “He was my friend” or “He was the best father in the world” or “I loved him so much.” Not one.

Who’s the real loser and sucker?