Make a will make a will make a will

Please make a will and get your affairs in order

One of our cats is ill and we don’t think she’ll be around much longer. But if she dies in the winter, the ground will be frozen and we won’t be able to dig. So yesterday, we dug a hole in the back yard, then filled it back up and put markers so we can find it in the snow. I hope we don’t need to use it but we might.

Two days ago, my beloved sister in law – Stephanie, for those of you from my old blog, died suddenly and unexpectedly.

She was not old. She was only 61.

This could happen to anyone. TO ANYONE.

Stephanie is the only one of my in-laws I liked. I ADORED her. A warm, loud, welcoming Italian woman from South Philly, Stephanie (and her children) was the only one of Mr T’s relatives who embraced me (both figuratively and literally) when I met his family.

She is the only one who ever willingly and happily gave me food. I couldn’t cross her threshold without an offer of something to eat – pizzellas (from scratch), gravy (I felt very in the know when I learned that gravy is what South Philly Italians call spaghetti sauce), pretzels that her dad, whom I also adored, had brought with him from Philly.

But it wasn’t about the food. It was about her very being. She was the kind of person you want to be friends with. She was frank and open and funny and opinionated and fun.

Of all the people in this world to die, it had to be her?

It couldn’t be [any of a list of odious politicians and criminals, some of which overlap]?

She did not have a will.

Clearly, she thought she had time.

We all thought she had time.

I hadn’t even visited her for the past few years. Covid, for one thing.

But – we thought we had time!

It’s not like there will be some huge fight or drama because of the lack of a will. The law in her state is that her children will inherit (Stephanie and the kids’ dad divorced years ago), but there will be extra hassle.

Fortunately, Stephanie’s brother and his wife, who happen to be in professions that deal with wills and trusts, are ON IT and have already talked to a lawyer. They are also arranging the funeral and doing all the heavy lifting. I am so grateful for the kids’ sake. I have seen what happens when there isn’t a will and there’s a fight and it’s not pretty.

But make a will. Make it easy for the people you love.

And if you hate them all – make a will and disinherit them. Give them each a dollar and leave the rest to the Humane Society.

Make. A. Will.

Figure out what you want done with your body when you die. Make those arrangements: pay for your headstone, decide what it should say, pay for the plot, choose a coffin, choose the music for your service, call the medical school or the body farm about donating your body (that’s what Mr T and I will do).


Put your kids on your bank accounts and on your safe deposit box, arrange a meeting between you, your kids, and your financial advisor, make a spreadsheet of all your accounts and investments and passwords, organize your files (like – buy a file cabinet and make actual physical files by topic).

I read this article about the bureaucracy of death last week and there are some good recommendations in it as well.

I’m not trying to be a ghoul. But unless you are the Second Coming (and I bet you are not), you are going to die.

Stephanie’s kids will be OK because they have expert help from Stephanie’s brother and his wife and because other than the will, Stephanie was super organized. (She was a bookkeeper.)

But not everyone has that luxury. So please please please. If you are wondering what you should do today – should you go shopping? Should you clean the bathroom?

Do this instead:

  • Make an appointment with a lawyer to write a will before the end of the year. Also do your POAs and your medical wishes – do you want a DNR?
  • Start a list of all your accounts. Name of account, number, name of institution, website, phone number, how much money you have there (yes, this will change but for rough ideas)
    • Bank accounts
    • Investment accounts
    • Pensions (hahahaha)
    • Social security?
    • Bills (phone, internet, utilities)
    • Credit cards
    • Mortgage
    • Life insurance
    • Health insurance
  • If you don’t already have a file box or cabinet, ask for one on Buy Nothing or buy one and make a file for everything.
    • The things listed above
    • Mortgage/deed to the house
    • Car title
    • Social security cards and statements
    • Current year tax information/receipts
    • Credit card receipts and statements
    • Utility bills
    • Phone bills
    • I keep my investment statements and bank statements and taxes in binders because I don’t have enough file space, but you might have room. I want everything on paper because I don’t trust institutions and I want proof of my money. 🙂
    • Etc etc etc – remember that your executor is going to have to keep things going until your house is sold

It’s one of the best gifts you could give your family.

Also – what did I miss? Please share your own advice.

I will miss Stephanie so much. I loved her. I loved her so much.

Before you make a will today, go call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Because you never know. You just never know.


Little Dicks Everywhere

It’s a man’s world, even for disease, so yay kidney stones

If you search on “anatomy model,” look what happens. Because male is the universal default.

Who knew kidney stones were a good thing?

They are.


They happen to men, so we know how to treat them.

Q: What is 13 million dollars?

A: The amount the US government spent on research on endometriosis – a condition that affects about 10% of girls and women and takes about seven years to diagnose – in 2019.

In 2020, the U.S. government announced that funding for endometriosis research would be doubled to $26 million annually.

Medical News Today

My friend – call her Cassandra – had a hysterectomy last year. She has one ovary remaining.

She has also had kidney stones:

I had a huge stone about 15 years ago and what struck me is that the urologist’s office was all male genitalia diagrams and then like a woman’s model back in the corner.

(Reader. I didn’t even know urologists treated women until a few years ago when I saw one! I thought they were penis docs! And apparently, so do they.)

For months, she’s been having random pain and sweats.

It took her doc a while to diagnose her.

It took an ultrasound, lots of messages to my OBGYN, a brief stint on hormone replacement in case it was menopause, me tracking him down for a full week to say that we are not done here, then an ultrasound, then two weeks of me tracking him down to say that we are not done here, then finally a CT scan, followed by a message from him that was basically like “Oh thank goodness it’s not in my wheelhouse, here’s a urology referral” and then urology is so backed up I can’t get in until [three weeks from the date this was written].

Cassandra did initially think she might be in menopause – the reason she called her doc the first time and for his initial RX (apparently, the symptoms of kidney stones and perimenopause can overlap – keep this in mind if you find yourself with random pain, including dull pain in the flank, and sweats), but no.

Cassandra was worried her doc would think she was a stalker.

Yes. That can happen.

If you’re a woman and you advocate for yourself, you can get a reputation.

What? You thought that was over after high school?


If you speak up for yourself in a health care environment, you can be ignored as a troublemaker!

(If you’re a woman, that is.)

In Anushay Hossain‘s book, The Pain Gap, she talks about (I can’t find the stories online) doctors and nurses chastising women in labor to be nicer as they are asking for painkillers.

Cassandra was once labeled as a drug seeker for not accepting an OB/GYN’s diagnosis.

And yet, she persisted.

They thought it might be ovarian cancer – even if you get a hysterectomy, if you still have only one ovary, you can get cancer in it!

They thought it might be endometriosis. You don’t need to have your uterus anymore to have endo!

Finally, they figured out that it was kidney stones.

(Which she had had before. Which – I dunno – I would have thought might have been higher on the list to look for than endo or cancer but I AM NOT A DOC I WAS AN ENGLISH MAJOR.)

But anyhow.

Kidney stones is actually a pretty good diagnosis.

Because unlike endo, there’s a treatment for kidney stones.

Because there’s been research on kidney stones.

Because there’s plenty of research on conditions that affect men.

Q: What is 84 million dollars?

A: More than six times 13 million dollars, which is the amount the US government spent on endometriosis research in 2019.

A: The amount the Department of Defense (which is not the entire US government) spent on drugs for erectile dysfunction – a condition that does not cause pain or infertility – in 2014.

the U.S. Department of Defense spent $41.6 million on Viagra and $84.24 million total on drugs for erectile dysfunction in 2014.

CBS News

The fight is not over

And you can be a part of it

“We Keep Fighting” by Angela King (etsy)

Yesterday was election day.

It didn’t go as well as it could but it sure didn’t go as badly as it could.

Mr T and I spent the five days leading up to election day knocking doors for our local candidates: Tony Ever, Mandela Barnes, and some Wisconsin Assembly candidates, including a few outside our district but who really mattered, including LuAnn Bird, who is this amazing grandma who gets crap done and would have been fabulous and lost by only 500 votes.

Never think your vote doesn’t count or your efforts don’t count.

Never think that.

Last year, our city council rep won by one vote.

One. Vote.

In Wisconsin, when you register, you have to show some kind of proof that you live where you say you live. If you don’t have the proof with you, you may cast a provisional vote, which is set aside in a special envelope, and return before the Friday after the election to cure your ballot. That is, if you return with an acceptable proof of residence, your vote will be counted.

On that election night last year, this city council seat race ended in a tie.

There was one provisional ballot outstanding.

You can’t count the ballot unless the voter returns with the proper information.

The voter returned the next day with the information and cured the ballot.

The canvassing board convened on Friday to certify the election, I think. Usually, this is not a big deal, as even if there are provisional ballots, there are not enough to affect the outcome.

But in this case, there were.

This time, the board and the two candidates and other city officials and the press gathered for the official vote count announcement.

Wisconsin is a racist place. It’s the most racist place I’ve ever lived and I’ve lived in the south.

On Tuesday, our governor, Tony Evers, a Democrat, was re-elected.

On Tuesday, Mandela Barnes, a Democrat who was running for Senate against the horrible Ron Johnson, was not elected.

If all the people who had voted for Tony had also voted for Mandela, Mandela would have won.

Did I mention Mandela is Black?

Mr T and I knocked on over 400 doors in five days. We didn’t talk to over 400 voters, but we knocked on over 400 doors. Other volunteers also knocked on doors. Some people made phone calls.

It wasn’t enough.

What if just ten more people had each agreed to talk to 50 voters about LuAnn? Had committed five hours over the course of a month?

What might have happened then?

What if we could have gotten one more Democrat into the Wisconsin Assembly?

These games are won by inches. And everyone can play a part.

The city council race in my town last year was between a white candidate and a Black one.

There has never been a Black city council representative in my town.

Oh yeah I know you are so shocked. After all, this is the town that until 60 years ago didn’t even allow Black people to buy houses.

They opened the ballot.

The voter had chosen the Black candidate.

My city council, in my city, which had a cop who had shot and killed three Black people in five years, which has cops who routinely pull over more Black drivers than white ones, which used to deny home ownership to Black people, for the first time ever, has a Black person on it.

We are making progress.

It’s slow.

But we’re going in the right direction.

What can you do today to keep us going in the right direction?

DONATE TO RAPHAEL WARNOCK. We need him in the Senate.

Vote as if everything depends on it

Because everything does depend on it

“I love your outfit!” “Thanks! IT HAS POCKETS!”

You all already know what’s on the line on Tuesday.

So I’m going to talk about the things that I wish were the most important issues in our lives. I wish these were the only battles we were fighting. I wish we were fighting for pockets and sleeves and potty parity and not for control over our own bodies and for, you know, DEMOCRACY.

But first, a reminder:


And some encouragement. Remember – it took more than 100 years to make chattel slavery illegal in the US. (Note I did not say “get rid of slavery,” as forms of slavery persist in this country.)

It took more than 100 years for women to get the vote.

We have been through tough times before. Some people gave up, but others kept fighting, even though they never saw the fruits of their fight. But their efforts were essential to the eventual victory. Never think what you’re doing doesn’t matter. It does. It will.

I wish our battles now were about getting little ledges in every shower in every bathroom in every hotel in every city in the world. I wish that so I could shave my legs easily when I travel, even though I barely have hair on my legs anymore and even though nobody hardly sees my bare legs anymore.

At least I no longer have to wish for hairdryers in hotel rooms. Remember when we had to carry our own hairdryers when we traveled? And companies designed these small, collapsible hairdryers and we thought, “THAT’S the solution!” instead of wondering why hotels, which offered outlets for electric shavers and razor disposal in the wall, didn’t have equipment for female guests?

It didn’t even occur to us that our needs should be met. Instead, we hauled yet another bulky item in our luggage, along with the stupid suits and stupid starched blouses and stupid bow ties and stupid pantyhose.

I wish the exam table in my doctor’s office were calibrated for my height, which is 5’5″, which is not extraordinarily short – indeed, I am taller than the average woman in the US.

I wish I could sit on the exam table in my doctor’s office and not have my feet dangle off the edge.

I wish someone at the exam table company would think, “I wonder if anyone but men, whose average height is 5’8″, uses these tables” and would do the research and design accordingly.

Everything fitted now. Her back snugly against the seat-back, her feet comfortably on the floor.

If I Were A Man, Charlotte Perkins

I wish my clothes had pockets.

Remember when I said that it took over 100 years for women to get the vote?

It looks like it’s going to take at least that long for us to get pockets.

These pockets came as a revelation. Of course she had known they were there, had counted them, made fun of them, mended them, even envied them; but she never had dreamed of how it felt to have pockets.

If I Were A Man, Charlotte Perkins

This story – If I Were A Man, by Charlotte Perkins, was written more than 100 years ago. Read it – it’s short and it’s fun and it’s totally depressing and you will see that some things have not changed at all in over a century.

But we persist.

Keep fighting, my friends.