I Believe

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I don’t want to talk about Michael Brown.

I don’t want to talk about Trayvon Martin.

I don’t want to talk about Tamir Rice.

I don’t want to talk about Jordan Davis.

I don’t want to talk about Timothy Stansbury Jr.

I don’t want to talk about John Crawford.

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I could go on…but I don’t want to.

We can argue all day and night. We will not get anywhere. Jury’s. Indictments, non-indictments. Trials, no trials. Armed, unarmed. Fearing for lives, just living their lives.

No one believes all cops are bad. There are members of law enforcement I respect and love with all my heart. I appreciate their work.

No one believes all white people are racist. There are allies who are working hard and listening.

No one believes all protestors are looters and out to destroy. We watched for 109 days your civil disobedience where little to nothing was damaged and non-violent marches and vigils took place.

With all of the things we all know no one believes…I have one question:

Why does no one believe Black America?

It doesn’t seem to matter if there are statistics to back up their pain.

It doesn’t seem to matter if there are facts and studies and numbers to give the rest of us something solid to hold on to instead of just emotions.

It doesn’t seem to matter if they ask nicely or scream loudly or speak from the highest office in the land. As the President of the United States said, “But what is also true is that there are still problems and communities of color aren’t just making these problems up.”

Why? Why does no one believe Black America? The PRESIDENT has to remind us communities of color aren’t just making these problems up. Why on earth do we think they are? Why would we QUESTION their life experiences??? Who are we to say what they live every day is somehow, not true? Why.don’t.you.believe.them?

If there is any hope for any of us, if there is any chance to heal decades of pain, to right wrongs, to have the slightest bit of empathy for our fellow man…we need to believe.

We need to believe when they tell us they hurt.

We need to believe when they tell us their truths.

We need to believe when they tell us their lives are not like ours.

We need to believe when they ask us to listen and learn.

We need to believe in our friends, our neighbors, our family, our community as they write, speak, sing, scream, march, and plead for us to HEAR THEM.

I hear them. I believe them.

Do you?

No Fight at MY Fridge


I’m not going to lie, this family, sometimes, has (!gasp!) fast food for dinner. We allow our children to have pop (you crazy people call it soda) while at a theme park and occasionally at home or elsewhere if the situation warrants – we love pop for belly aches, or to wake up sleepy kids who were up late gaming (another no-no) because they like the flavor or because Mom or Dad has one sitting on the table and they want a sip of something. We even, now sit down when I tell you this, feed our children junk food, sugary cereal, sports drinks filled with sugar! I could go on and on and on. Fingers would be pointed. You’re already judging me… I know you are. Here’s the thing – we don’t care. The kids are healthy, happy, and know these are treats. Heck, sometimes even their pediatrician says to give them some of these things because my kids are skinny and could use a little extra. IMG_6531.JPG Yes, I realize I’m lucky. Obesity is not a problem for my kids’, but I attribute this not just to their good metabolism, but to our reasonable food and drink expectations. Sometimes it’s really ok to say ‘Yes.’ Just like the First Lady will tell you she allows cake and candy, she pushes veggies and water. For the most part – 75% of the time – our kids eat and drink appropriately and within the guidelines you see coming from most doctors and officials. However, that other 25% we are just fine with junk food night. Just fine with those drinks, so long as it doesn’t mess up bedtime. If you say ‘No’ to all of it, they are going to see it as some taboo, rebellious act simply to eat what is advertised. No one wants that. Kids absolutely love to do all the things we as parents want them NOT to do. I’m certainly not going to make food and drink a battlefield when there are so many more important wars to be fought from drugs to sex to education. You want a Friday night of nothing but licorice, soda, & lollipops… with a side of pizza, burgers, and fries? No problem. We’ll even make a celebration of it because it can be so much fun. The next day they are back to drinking water and eating all of their broccoli with the fish Dad grilled. Kids in pjs Food and drink have become political due to the very serious problems we have as a nation finding balance and moderation. As a Mom, I hope I’m sticking that balance early and with some silly fun… because sometimes it really is only food and drink and it really only is silly fun, not a war to be won.

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An Attack on Valerie Jarrett is an Attack on ALL Women

You might have missed my twitter rant over the weekend. I had officially HAD IT with the attacks on Senior White House Advisor Valerie jarred and I basically LOST IT via a TweetRage:

And that is exactly what is going on here. Politico publishes a piece basically saying Jarrett should go because she’s too close to the president and despite having done nothing that any other male in her position has done with any other president in history…she shouldn’t. Or something. It’s a steaming pile of sexist crap that would never be written of any male senior advisor. Ever.

Don’t think we didn’t notice, Politico.

Apparently it’s only a bad thing to have the president confident in you, if you are a woman.

Apparently it’s only a bad thing to have earned the trust of the First Lady and your boss, the president…if you are a woman.

Apparently helping the president make the decisions that affect our nation and sometimes the entire world is your role as a senior advisor…unless you are a woman.

In fact, because you are a woman, shouldn’t you really be in the East Wing with the lady-folk, gossiping and giggling and perhaps decorating the incoming White House holiday trees? Certainly not helping to shape policy or working with powerful MEN.

I wish I were kidding about the East Wing quip, but Politico actually makes an East Wing quip.

Seriously.

I want to make it clear, before everyone begins their attack on me for supporting a woman they will have all sorts of names for, that I have personal experience with Ms. Jarrett.

I will never forget the first time I met her. It’s possible tears were shed:

Then came an intimate lunch with Ms. Jarrett at the BlogHer conference in 2009. I greeted her at the hotel doors and walked her into the conference, first making sure to say to hello to my husband and then introducing her to the room. We embarked on a conversation that would be a turning point for me and, I’m sure, a few others.

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After almost an hour of talking health care with a group hand-picked bloggers from all backgrounds who had talked about health and healthcare on their blogs, Ms. Jarrett gave her number to one of the bloggers so that this particular woman’s husband could call her and she could set him straight on a few issues.

Not only was the call made, but that blogger then went on to visit the White House, with her Right-Wing radio show host husband and kept the conversation going with Ms. Jarrett.

That is just the type of person Ms. Jarrett is and that is just how committed she is to the President’s agenda. She will call your crazy, right-wing uncle up on the phone personally and attempt to tell him just why all those email forwards he sends are not only lacking facts, but they are downright insulting. The woman knows no fear and will mix it up with the average voter and the most powerful men in Congress. They are all on equal footing in her eyes and you can bet good money THAT is why she has a bullseye on her back, NOT because it’s post-midterms and the West Wing should ‘shake things up.’

If the midterms were truly the reason, then why have they been calling for Jarrett to be fired since the moment she was on staff?

It wasn’t long after the luncheon, BlogHer Co-Founder Elisa Camahort Page and I flew from the West Coast to Washington DC to make sure the Obama Administration knew exactly how powerful women online had become. Ms. Jarrett knew and gave us the opportunity to present our findings to some very powerful people while she listened intently and nodded in affirmation every time we hammered home a point about our strength, our ability to be highly influential, and our undisputed takeover of the Internet.

THAT is the Valerie Jarrett I know. And am PROUD to know. So to see a hit piece appear afer the midterms, with not only zero substance but a healthy dose of ‘get back in the kitchen and know your place woman’ to boot…Erin MAD. Erin SMASH.

Every woman should be MAD, HULK MAD. They have never and would never say these things about Axelrod or Plouffe. The things she does are normal, typical, entirely mundane in the eyes of a male Senior Advisor. The Axelrods and Plouffes were never disrespected or even questioned should they have the ear of the president…it was THEIR JOB. Jarrett does the same and it’s some whacky new conspiracy worthy of throwing her in the Potomac to see if she sinks or floats.

Sorry, but I refuse to stand for it and so should every single one of you. You may not like Ms. Jarrett, or the President. Or maybe you DO like Ms. Jarrett and the President. Either way it’s time to put an end to the nonsense.

I’m going to leave you with one more personal story and then let you make up your mind on the character of the President’s most trusted Senior Advisor, one just a few family members know:

It was very difficult for me to be sidelined when I was first diagnosed with Lupus. From all of the surgeries to having a stroke, I was upset and depressed to not be playing a role in bringing you opportunities to connect with our elected leaders.

During a time in which I was doing absolutely no work, I watched Ms. Jarrett attacked, yet again, and I reached out to her with a very short ‘hang in there, you are doing so much good for so many of us’ note.

I didn’t expect to hear back. She’s a very busy woman and the job of a Senior Advisor to the President is extremely demanding. Even more so if you are a female constantly fending off attacks the men in your position don’t have to deal with.

I heard back almost immediately from Ms. Jarrett. And while she did thank me, she wasn’t concerned for herself…she wanted to know how I was doing and if I was ok and to know that she would be thinking and praying for me and not to worry about her.

So many of you can choose to believe all the headlines and form in your mind the caricature of a woman they want you to know. Or, you can use my examples and my real-life experience with the woman some of us DO know.

And that woman kicks ass and has forever earned my respect.

The Gray Area

It would be every easy to say politics are black and white, especially in today’s climate. R vs D! Blue vs Red! You are wrong! I am right! With our elected leaders in Washington playing this out over and over and over again while President Obama goes gray.

Because of the “Top Two” primary system in California my home district, the 25th, is without a Democrat candidate. State Senator Steve Knight or Tony Stickland appear on my ballot, both with a big, fat “R” next to their names. There is no option to write-in a candidate. Either I check a box, or I don’t.

I’ve decided to check the box for Tony Strickland.

I’m not going to lie to you and say this is a candidate I’m thrilled with, and not just because he’s a Republican. However, he’s the only candidate running who has decided to run towards local Democrats instead of run away from them. Is Strickland running towards me and those like me simply to get our votes…you betcha. And believe me, I’m not naive’. I see it clearly. But at least he’s running.

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This is pretty much how we feel about Top Two.

He has changed his positions and even flip-flopped entirely in order to become the more moderate candidate in this race. When I asked him about this, he was as honest as a politician can be. He told me not only has he evolved on some issues but he also sees the numbers in the district (showing Democrats now have more registered voters than Republicans) and the district’s diversity.

Smart man. Smart staff. Smart campaign.

In order to survive for any length of time, if he wants to be the next Congressman McKeon and serve FOREVER (which is clearly what Strickland wants) he has no choice but to take a more moderate stance on issues.

Eventually the Dems in the area will get organized, will have the national party backing, and will give whichever candidate wins on Tuesday a rough fight for office. The numbers and feet on the ground working show this is all but inevitable.

That means Tuesday’s winner needs to court 25th moderates from both sides, make good on bipartisanship in DC, and be ready to run on that record come 2016.

Knight may have some bipartisan clout in his years in Sacramento, but all of his bipartisan work is very noncontroversial. Things like help for Veterans bills, money for our runaway production problems, aerospace job incentives. All very worthy causes to be sure…but nothing that shows he is truly bipartisan. I’ve poured over his record and I don’t see anything that says ‘hey, I’m willing to be YOUR guy in DC if the issue really is important to my district and even if my party thinks the other way on that issue.’

There is also a vote on Knight’s record that may be of GREAT interest to those in town looking to defeat Measure S. Yes, you are reading right…Knight voted for those paid petition blockers* edited Nov. 2, 11:42pm GATHERERS. .

Then I look at Strickland’s record and there are a lot of the same votes on things that disturb me greatly…the same votes Knight had…especially on LGBTQ issues. But here’s the difference: Strickland says he’s evolved and wouldn’t support those things again. The same with things related to health care; pre-existing conditions, contraception being covered, maternity leave, etc. Knight’s record shows several more of these types of votes that take these issues further, but you can’t compare them side-by-side as they served different years, with just a few overlapping.

Knight isn’t and hasn’t budged on these issues.

At least not that I can find. You can call that integrity, if you like. He’s sticking to his guns (and guns, ok…there IS A DIFFERENCE on this one too! Knight has the backing of the GOA, which is even more extreme than the NRA-if that’s even possible-BOTH of which are unhappy with Strickland because while he’s very pro 2nd, he actually has some limits, not many…but some) Or you can call it plan old stupidity for refusing to move on issues this district and the entire nation have moved on. We’re sending you there to represent all of us. ALL of us. He simply points out he has, and I can confirm, worked across the aisle on legislation and will continue to do so in DC. But again, all of that across the aisle legislation are things anyone would support, and did. And there is ample evidence that when he tries to step out of line and be a rebel, he’s pulled back in and when told to sit down and shut up…and he has allegedly bowed to that pressure.

Strickland, on the other hand, has gone against his party and even Knight head-to-head on controversial issues and gone Left, despite any threat of consequence from the party. You’ll find that in his votes on renewable energy and on things like siding with Dems and the Humane Society in banning the use of dogs in bear hunting and upholding a ban on the sale of shark fins. Strickland told me he’s ‘an animal guy.’ And he’s a ‘renewable energy guy.’ We’ll see. But it’s true he was pressured by his own party NOT to sue then Gov. Gray Davis, but did it anyway. He was pressured to vote against the bear hunting ban and several green initiatives on energy. Controversial issues where he made a stand, NOT bipartisan ones.

I also need to point out a stark difference between the two when it comes to abortion. While these are Republicans we are dealing with, Knight refuses to even allow for abortion in the case of rape, incest, or health of the mother. This is important because it’s going to become a national fight. 22 states have enacted 70 abortion restrictions in 2013 alone, and there is evidence if the Senate is won over by the GOP come Tuesday, abortion is high on the list of top priorities for Congress.

Say hello to my new favorite word: VETO.

@queenofspain on #CNN #KeepYourPantsOn
Yup. That’s me. Just one of my many appearances. But a favorite. #keepyourpantson

The Knight campaign is currently hitting on Strickland’s willingness to change in order to become elected as a weakness, which in a primary to see which Republican would advance, this would be great. But this isn’t a primary, and if either candidate expects to represent the ENTIRE 25th, they need to understand there are more than conservative Republicans in town. Strickland seems to get this and has changed his campaign from the moment he was running vs. another R. Knight has kept things status quo and is running as the “true” conservative on the ballot. Not exactly a wide appeal for those of us left out in the cold by top two.

There is also the matter of the people each campaign has chosen to keep around as staff, volunteers, and surrogates. While Strickland’s staff has been open to listening to myself and other Democrats, Knight’s staff (and paid surrogates, paid advocates, etc) not only rebuke any and all ‘lefty’ events, they are openly hostile to us. Paid Knight guy Joe Messina is a birther who uses his radio infomercial (he pays for it to air on our local station) to give a platform to designated hate groups like the Pacific Institute of Justice and the American Family Association. Knight has also brought on board Santa Clarita City Councilmember Dante Acosta, who’s table I sat directly next to during the Chamber debate at the Hyatt. Let’s just say I overheard things that made me want to get up out of my chair and pour my iced tea over his head as he cracked a comment everytime Strickland talked about bipartisanship. There is also Knight’s endorsement of minuteman Tim Donnelly. And we can not forget his vote to keep the confederate flag, when the entire world was telling him just how insensitive and stupid it was.

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Oh hey, me again…Hi Mr. President, why of course I have time for you…

In my quest to have both candidate address community leaders from the left side of the aisle, I cannot help but think these folks have stalled any headway I made with my impeccable resume in making sure conservatives are treated fairly in such meetings or opportunities. But you see, this good ‘ol boys club didn’t even look at my credentials or do an opposition research check on me- something a ton of campaigns much bigger and much more important than there’s have done and then easily allowed me to coordinate an event.

Progressive bloggers meet at the White House
Me again, just…you know, taking an economic meeting in the West Wing…

Strickland, as you know, accepted the invite because he’s been unafraid and has sought out Democrats in this district in order to explain he is now looking to be everyone’s congressman, not just the white conservative guy’s. His team also did their homework on me.

It’s not lost on me Strickland may be making us local Dems promises he won’t keep. But, at the very least, he’s the only one making them and giving us a shot. Coming from a politician it may not be much, but it’s more than I’m getting from the other side.

Which leads me to some research I did on my own. Some things no one else would know around here. I actually called or emailed all of my RNC and GOP-tied contacts in DC and asked them about both candidates. I needed to know if they were liked, if they had any power (rare for a freshman Congressperson) and if they were moderate/extreme/otherwise.

In each instance the person knew who Tony Strickland was, said he was a nice guy, but that he was your typical politician with some very powerful friends. All called him moderate.

Not a single one knew who Steve Knight was and when a few spent the time to research, on my behalf, he was categorized as ‘tea party’ and ‘the reason we’re losing in our minority and female outreach’ and ‘oh man Erin this guy must drive you nuts.’ See…they know me.

Erin & Markos
Speaking of drive me nuts…Kos and I don’t always agree…it’s fun

Strickland, I can verify, won’t be your average freshman. He has an actual chance to get some things done in his two years. He has told me he, very badly, wants to get a bipartisan basketball pick-up game with the President. We both agree this would be a great way to break bread and try to build a bipartisan relationship. I even promised I would put in a good word. Mostly because I really want an invite. And yeah, yeah, all that peace love and let’s do this together stuff too…I swear.

Bottom line? Strickland is a career politician who has morphed into a candidate hoping to appeal to everyone and who has offered me and other 25th district progressives a seat at his table. His polished campaign understands the writing is on the wall for hard core conservatives around here, and they are adjusting accordingly. Clearly they want to position themselves for 2016 when Dems WILL turn out in droves.

Knight is a far-right, NONpolitiican politician who is only bipartisan on the easy issues everyone supports and says we can all call his cell because he ‘loves to hear from voters.’
I don’t need a man who loves to just hear from voters, I need a man who takes the other side seriously and will consider and in some rare cases implement our policy issues. While I admire his consistency, it also shows he’s tone-deaf to the rest of the 25th. Couple that with his confederate flag/Donnelly endorsement and his local embracing of extremists birthers and more…I will be voting Strickland to keep Knight from taking that ideology to DC.

Strickland has already laid the groundwork in DC to walk in and be able, as a freshman, to say no to his party when needed. Knight won’t even have the option. No one in DC gives a shit if some city council member, mayor or school board member birther has his back and ‘wants things’ when he sits down in Congress. They will not know who those people are will laugh at him for thinking they matter.

Strickland is also giving Dems in his district a voice and the opportunity to educate him on LGBTQ issues and more.

It’s entirely possible this will bite me in the ass and he’s doing nothing but lying to me. And it’s entirely possible Knight will prove me wrong, and if elected embrace the diversity of the district and be more than a puppet for the more powerful in DC. I would love nothing more than to be shown I was 110% WRONG on Knight and if he goes to DC he will allow Democrats from the 25th a voice and do what the majority of his constituents want, not just what he and the local powers want. Please, by all means…show me I’m wrong. I will happily and with total glee apologize and jump into advocating our side to our new Congressman.

However I can not take the chance on a man who currently won’t even attend a Democratic function and will not budge on his views.

So I’m taking the chance Tony Strickland, who has promised me to my face we WILL have a voice.

The stakes are just too high.

Get out and vote on Tuesday, and instead of sitting out the two bubbles to fill in for this race, fill yours in for Strickland. You owe it to not only every woman you know simply over reproductive rights, but you owe it to your LGBTQ friends who will have a shot at educating an evolving man- not one who’s mind is made up. You also owe it the people of color in your life who clearly hear the dog-whistle of Donnelly and the confederate flag vote. You owe it to make sure the local good ‘ol boys understand they are a dying breed. And you owe it to yourself, because you deserve the chance to have a seat at a table, one the other side, has shunned you from.

Again, prove me wrong Sen. Knight. If you win on Tuesday, prove me wrong. You’ll see a blog post praising your actions.

But in the meantime I’m going with the man giving me and mine a chance, even if it means I’m taking a chance on my part…

Vote Tony Strickland and join me in holding his feet to the fire. For all of us.

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Hey Mom, What Does “Die Feminist Gamer” Mean?

My 9-year old daughter can jump in and out of a first person shooter game and then quickly morph back into a bunny to go to someone’s “den” for a bunny dance party.

She’s a gamer. A girl gamer. And right now, that is a dangerous thing.

So dangerous, in fact, some women have received death threats, their public info blasted all over communities so they can be harassed, and if that weren’t enough we hear about Anita Sarkeesian. Sarkeesian was slated to speak at Utah State University until they got an email threatening a mass shooting if she dared open her girl mouth on stage. Sarkeesian, refusing to cave to their threats,  said she would STILL get on stage and give her lecture, provided there were some security checks.

Seems totally reasonable to me.

BUT (there’s always a ‘but’) school officials weren’t all that into being TSA at the doors. I’m not sure why, considering the Salt Lake Tribune reported the emailed threat claimed it would be “the deadliest school shooting in American history.”

WOW. Ok then.

According to the LA Times, “During the discussion, Sarkeesian asked if weapons will be permitted at the speaking venue. Sarkeesian was informed that, in accordance with the State of Utah law regarding the carrying of firearms, if a person has a valid concealed firearm permit and is carrying a weapon, they are permitted to have it at the venue.”

Yeah, I think I’d go ahead and sit this one out too.

As many of you know I’ve given lectures and sat on panels regarding the death threats my family and I received via online trolls. Threats that garnered zero attention until the trolls went after my kids and their school. Then, suddenly, the cops & Twitter cared. Well, that’s not entirely true. Twitter didn’t cooperate with law enforcement until an emergency order was issued by the judge. Then they cared. The detective assigned to the case, the first “cyber” case for him…he cared. He cared because he understood, at the time, this was only going to get worse and these cases would become much more frequent in my town and in yours.

My point? Each time I’ve had a speaking engagement post-threat, the venue and organizers have been more than willing to offer security. Sarkeesian can only stand up for herself so much, showing the world she won’t back down, without downright being stupid and taking a huge risk on her life and the lives of everyone in that auditorium.

Currently the online scene is as I would expect. People are picking sides, blaming each other, and women online and in tech (yes, that includes gaming) continue to endure what can be career ending torture by a minority of douchecanoes who seem to think themselves superior. These trolls are threatened by anyone with a vagina that dare tell them or even ask politely they consider some games have a female character and maybe, just possibly a female character that doesn’t resemble a whore. Apparently that’s waaaaaaay too much to ask of *some* of this demo without causing an uproar. There is also the fight over this being about journalism (I’m using a lower case j on purpose…because please don’t get this traditional news reporter started on citizen journalism, real Journalism and reviews, pay-for-play,  and blah blah blah …see, I said don’t get me started) and not being about feminism. THAT has *some* in this demo screaming at the top of their lungs to be heard over the rustle of headlines simply stating a feminist received death threats.  As with everything there is a long backstory. As with many backstories it is filled with truth, lies, and lots in the middle.

What I have seen, personally, by simply tweeting about the issue (and using the all important #) is ugly. And the word FEMINISM really pisses off a lot of people. Let’s not kid ourselves there are idiots on both sides.  In fact, I was told repeatedly via social media last night my “agenda” needs to stay the fuck out of “their” games.

I love how they think these are “their” games…so cute.

I was also told I was a horrible mother, saw some really nasty rape memes…you get the idea. All I asked for was an end to the escalation. You see, these movements have become the next game for many of these men and women. Their next quest.

There is even a self-proclaimed Democrat woman who calls herself the ‘Factual Feminist,’ lending her credibility to a movement aimed partially at challenging journalists & Journalists (of which I have been both) and partially ( I THINK?) to poo-pooing the idea that …wait for it… women and girls play games and can be hard core gamers and…no really, wait for it…..wait for it….. wait for it………..there is NO PATRIARCHAL PROBLEM in gaming.

Imagine my spit-take on that one. If it helps, I have tea. 

I swear to CHEEBUS that’s what she said. Yes, Dr. Factual Feminist spent a few weeks (weeks people! WHOLE WEEKS!) checking out the gamers and she’s concluded there’s no issue here, you silly little girls. It’s all in your head, which is where she virtually pats us, tells us to calm our shit down, and ignores what has been decades of a certain “culture” she can’t seem to find with any male gamers online.

Deadspin has a great rundown of everything that includes the video of this so-called feminist. My absolute favorite part is where she says “They want the male video game culture to die

WOW. I totally missed the memo on this one.  Did you all have a meeting without me? Hilariously and somewhat dangerously, she then strokes their egos and talks about what a smart little subculture they are.

ooooh what a smart widdle subculture you are….do you do twicks you cootie patatootie widdddle subculture… now roll over, roll over… goooood boy!

Well, yes. We did have an inkling of THIS side of gaming too!

Our life- caught perfectly by @undomesticdiva

Feel free to steady yourselves before you get the vapors and need to sit a spell on the fainting couch.

Did you all think we women just randomly hung out with neanderthals all day and let our daughters do the same while we game? I don’t think the argument here is “all male gamers suck and want to hurt me”…unless my son and husband are secretly plotting. The argument, Professor, is within that smart subculture is a STUPID, NASTY subculture (and I’m being generous by calling it a subculture, it can at times BE THE CULTURE) with some bad apples. Every subculture, culture and otherwise has this issue- and to “stand down” as you suggest is to accept this behavior. In the words of my daughter, “Mom can I say a bad word? … That’s really stupid.”

Back to the kids…since I mentioned my gamer daughter. I briefly and somewhat vaguely told the kids what had gone down on the internet all night, while they slept all snuggled and cuddly,  and then proceeded to bust out the phone while they reacted…and we packed for school:

Yeah, you heard me right…my son knows a whole lot more about gamer culture than his sister due to their ages, what we allow, and my husband’s constant vigil gaming WITH my son so when things come up they can discuss the matter. Same thing with my daughter, just two years younger- and it’s reflected in the video above. I mean, did anyone tell the good Professor about tea bagging as she did her research?

Now, there are some serious accusations levied in this war of #GamerGate vs #StopGamerGate2014- even to go so far as deciding if women count as gamers, you know, the real kind…not the kind that play Angry Birds or Bejeweled. Because heaven forbid we add in THOSE numbers. If we do that *some* male gamers get really upset. Like, stomp their feet and whine and moan like toddlers upset. Like…hurl death threats at women upset.

Now, why did I say “if we add in those numbers,” you ask? Because it seems all of this only becomes a problem when there is a threat to their special hold on their special place in their special world where only they are allowed to be king of their gaming castle.

Sort of like what we’re watching the GOP do right now: trying really hard to stay relevant to the LGBTQ community and women and people of color, yet instead looking like total asses and eventually saying or doing something so very stupid no one in their right mind would want to play in their sandbox. Like I said, death threats. Or when people post about these threats, answering with those super triggering (thnx ever so much!) gifs about raping girl gamers all while complaining and mansplaining we can’t take a joke.

I honestly hope we can move forward in this mess with a coalition of feminists (men gamers, that includes you…in fact it DEMANDS you) standing UP to the systemic and overt creeps in the culture TOGETHER and without hesitation. I could give a rat’s ass which hashtag they fall under or what their criteria for “hard core gaming community” entails. Both sides need leaders that are loud, bold, strong, and the hero they attempt to play daily on their screens. Except without the legendary weapon.

If this fails, and these ridiculous and entirely unacceptable threats and violations continue, at least I know that my home is not oddity or behavioral study.

We have digital kids. You may have heard of them. They are growing up a bit different than we did. iPads before they can walk kinda thing. They read their books for school on these devices and they have their playdates on their consoles. My son was up Friday night, or Saturday (or was it both?) with his best friend who lives several states away, dropping in on public events in Destiny. All while my daughter made a video jamming out to Lorde with her Animal Jam friends.

As you see above, they aren’t buying any of your excuses. I have full faith they will fix the misogyny and insecurity and yes, patriarchy, prevalent in gaming…because let’s face it, they already care more than most of you and are willing to stand up while others are patting them on the head, insisting they stand down.

 

 

(photo credit: Megan Hook Photography)

*you all might be interested in this ESA study, claiming “women age 18 or older represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (36%) than boys age 18 or younger (17%)” FYI it’s a pdf. (update added Oct. 16, 2014)

I’m Over Being Ashamed & Voting NO on Prop 46

I landed myself in the hospital against this week. Despite feeling relatively well. Ok, that’s a lie. I’ve been doing much better lately.

I just hate to jinx anything.

But as we all have learned with this jerk of a disorder, just when you are lulled into feeling hopeful and happy and excited there is light at the end of this jerk tunnel…your get a dull ache in your lower back and then you start bleeding profusely out of your butt.

What? You thought I’d spare you the fun….oh no, you must be at the wrong blog for that my dear. I have never pulled any punches with my sweet pea readers and don’t intend to tone it down for you all now.

Now remember, I am on some heavy, duty drugs for pain…just my EVERY DAY PAIN. So to have a dull ache in my back makes me a bit concerned. And when it ramps up and becomes doubled over in pain, pain….I get SUPER concerned.

So I had to break down and do what I absolutely HATE to do, and avoid at ALL COSTS…I had to head to the Emergency Room. It’s a Sunday night, my rheumatologist was in Europe and my pain doc was only going to be able to help me feel better if I were in a bed hooked to an IV. My regular doctor would just defer to my rheumy and well, I just had no choice.

There are several reasons I HATE going to the ER or urgent care, not the least of which is the toll it takes on my family, but next would have to be how difficult it can be to get help and pain relief.

You see, being chronically ill means I am on a lot of medication. Like… A LOT OF MEDICATION. More than I am comfortable with and to the point where I have to take medication to help with the side effects of the other medication. Yup. That much.

But understand something, because this is really important: I am treated like a criminal every time I see a new doctor and by just about every government agency around, simply because I am chronically ill and in constant pain.

I jump through so many hoops on a monthly basis to “prove” I am in need of narcotics, that it makes me feel ashamed when they don’t work and I need to change them or I need a higher dose.

SHAME. THEY MAKE ME FEEL SHAME TO TALK TO MY DOCTOR. 

And there is a Proposition in California on the November ballot that would add yet ANOTHER hoop to jump through in order to get the medication every single doctor agrees I need, and it SCARES THE HELL OUT OF ME.

On it’s face, Proposition 46 seems like a good idea. And I agree, it was born of a good idea- to raise the cap on one of the medical malpractice limits. All of the other limits are … well, unlimited. If something were to happen to you or yours, you could sue for unlimited amounts. Except in the “pain and suffering” category. That one has been stuck at $250k for a long time and has not been bumped up for inflation. So yeah, it seems reasonable to responsibly raise that limit, at the very least, to keep up with inflation. It seems reasonable to do it in a manner that won’t screw over the small clinics or orgs that, for the most part, help women and children.

Except Prop 46 didn’t go this route.

Instead of putting forth a simple bill that would raise the cap, the powers-that-be put forth a bill that raises the cap immediately and without any clauses or delays built-in for those clinics who will need to absorb the costs  (or people or doctors or whomever) AND it tags on TWO MORE huge health care issues-random drug tests for doctors (whaaaaa?) AND a mandate forcing doctors and pharmacists to check the “CURES” database before handing out any hard core drugs for the first time. (Again…whaaaaaaa?)

Of course this dealing with health care, and my condition, I immediately have to check this out and find out how these things will affect my life. What can I say, politics is personal.

Turns out, as happens with MANY of these elections, one of my friends is working on the No on 46 campaign. Odds are if it’s happening in the world of politics, I will know someone working for the candidate or the campaign or the grass roots org or something. This was no exception.

So we chatted and quickly I was sitting down at my kitchen table with Teri Holoman, who is consulting for No on 46. The more I learned, the more frightened I became. And it’s also why I told you the ER story to start this post…because I need to walk you through exactly how all this will go down the NEXT time I go into the ER if 46 passes (please no please no please) and what I ALREADY go through in California as as safeguard for those who are “doctor shopping” or “drug seeking.”

You know, the way I’m treated already every single time I see a doctor who is unfamiliar with me or my case. Which, when you have nights and weekends in the world and a chronic condition, happens way more than you’d think.

Ok so now you are thinking…what could be so bad Erin? It’s to protect people, and kids, and small fluffy kittens….so it can not, possibly be bad. You’ll still get your meds if you really do need them, after all if you had nothing to hide it won’t be an issue for you..plus some big name Democrats are on board and you are a Democrat so what gives?

I’ll tell you what gives. The next time I’m doubled over in pain and I end up exactly where I was, I may end up admitted (without it being entirely necessary) just to get the pain relief I need or I may not leave with the medication I need to get me through the pain until I can see my regular doctors. OR I may get the script and then the pharmacist may deny me the meds I need to get me through the pain until I can see my regular doctors. All of these probably landed me admitted to the hospital to keep those bills coming to my mailbox.

All of these are real possibilities. Because despite what the other side says, or how this may have all started out as a really good idea from a very honest place, the language of the proposition is very clear. It says doctors must “ACCESS AND CONSULT” or be “HELD NEGLIGENT” and get this, the damn CURES database doesn’t even FRIGGING WORK ALL THE TIME and the guy running it says it will basically crumble under the weight of Prop 46 and all these new docs and pharmacists using it rendering it useless and rendering me STILL IN PAIN and with a doc or pharmacist stuck between a rock and a hard place…give me the meds or “be HELD NEGLIGENT…” for not checking the database because it was down or not working and giving me the meds anyway. Let me calm down and be more technical…the state staffer in charge of running the database has called CURES “not sufficient.” Testifying before the California Medical Board, he said that he himself gets kicked out of the database when trying to run inquiries. What’s more, he testified that inquiries into the system can take “anywhere from moments to never.”

Now listen…I GET that this is supposed to protect people from all those folks addicted to prescription meds. I GET IT. But do you have any idea how many OTHER laws are in place to “protect” people from us horrible pill poppers?

Let me tell you exactly how I get my usual meds, maybe that will shed some light on things.

First of all, my regular doctor and my rheumatologist won’t give me anything stronger than my Xanax (which actually falls into this category…) or Toradol injections. If they were to give me the narcotics I need over a prolonged period of time they would have to register me and a bunch of other stuff that goes with me (like, all the proof I need these drugs, etc) with the DEA. Mind you, the DEA gets all of this ANYWAY and even if they do it short term…but regardless, we have me going to a “Pain Management Specialist” who takes care of all these things. It means my other doctors don’t have to deal with all the red-tape and potential lawsuits, and I am in the hands of a professional who can help me as I go on and off being physically dependent on these drugs.

Fast forward to my every 2-3 week (depending on how I’m doing) appointment with my Pain Management Specialist, Dr. Kumar.

It started, long ago, with all of my lab results, hospital records, rheumatology records and general practitioner records being sent over to Dr. Kumar. On top of all of that, and despite all of the very clear diagnosis he was given, he sent me for his own tests that included several very costly MRIs.

Once it was determined I really was sick and had some very severe health conditions, he agreed to be my pain doc…and I his patient.

Now, back to my usual appointment…it starts with this:

Because if he sees I’m on anything other than what is prescribed, or the DEA sees it, I get cut off. Or sent to some treatment program. Actually, he would know we have issues.

When I decided to try medical marijuana to see if it would help, the office manager had to scan in my certificate stating I was legally able to have medical marijuana and it was noted in their records and the DEA’s (again) too…along with the State.

Because my rheumatologist prescribes my Xanax (1mg 3 x per day to counter act the prednisone) this too must be noted and shown in each record, because my pee will show it.

Then he goes over all my recent labs from all the other doctors and we talk about my pain. Currently, because of a recent flare, I’m on a higher dose of the narcotics (methadone, precoset) than I had been on. We had been slowly pulling me down.

After our chat I leave with a hand written script:

…which is copied and noted by the DEA, the State, and each of my doctors. I have to take the script to the SAME pharmacy each time, or else it sets of red flags in all the systems and I get nasty letters saying I might be an evil drug seeking, doctor shopping, pharmacy shopper and the insurance may not pay any longer and big mean government guys may come check me out to make sure I’m ok and don’t need help, or throw me in jail…whichever. I’m paraphrasing but you get the idea.

Now…should I lose any pills, drop any down the sink, have my purse stolen…doesn’t matter. I don’t get any more. I also can not go in a day early, or two days early for my next appointment. I can not be seen by the doctor until the very day that script runs out…if I’m going on vacation, I have to show him my airline tickets and he will post date a script for the exact date I will run out.

So you can imagine when I land in the ER the first thing my husband or I (if capable) always do is hand over the cards of Dr. Kumar and Dr. Caro, my rheumatologist. We ask they be called IMMEDIATELY by the ER doc so they can be told of the extreme circumstances of my illness and my PAIN and know right off the bat I’m not a drug seeker and I’m not doctor shopping.

Some ER docs call my doctors. Some ER docs do not. Some urgent care docs call my doctors. Some urgent care docs will not. They want to see test results first or they believe they know best and will give me “a little something for the pain” to help while we wait for said results.

In California emergency room docs can only give 1ml IV of dilaudid total no matter how long you are in the ER or the equivalent dose of morphine. Because of the amount of medication I take, my tolerance is very high. Morphine doesn’t do anything for my pain and Dr. Kumar, when I’m admitted for pain management, orders me 2-2.5ml of dilaudid every TWO HOURS to get me back under control. That’s on top of my methadone, my lyrica, and percoset for breakthrough pain. That basically means it takes a lot to make me comfy – you know, the dose your average elephant would get- yet the ER doc usually comes in with .5, 2xs, before he finally sees a test result or TALKS to one of my doctors, realizes I’m not kidding, and finds an admitting doctor to give me the correct dose. Notice I said “admitting” doctor, which means I can’t go home. Now you know why I avoid the ER unless it’s truly so horrible I’m worried about my life and my organs and things that are super serious.

Should I end up in the exact same position as I was this week, where it was concluded inflammation (surprise, surprise, this is what LUPUS DOES) was making my lower back hurt and pushing on my also inflamed semi-colon (that’s what we loving call my colon, because Lupus took half of it in 2010 along with a bunch of other organs riddled with inflammation) thus causing the blood to come out of my ass. It was then the doc in the ER realizes he would either have to admit me in order to get the right amount of pain meds to help me NOT CRY, or he might give me what he can in the ER, then take a look at the CURES database he’s now forced to check, if it works, and SEE what I am on and conclude that IV meds plus a script for home (remember Dr. Kumar had been lowering my dosage because I was doing well) will do the trick…but now he’s seen the database (maybe) and doesn’t want to be liable for letting me leave with more narcotics via a script…OR he might check the database, talk with my docs, and realize it’s entirely the right thing to do and hand me the script and let me go home, where I’m much more comfortable and subject to less germs with my compromised immune system. (The last scenario is what happened on Sunday/Monday morning because I begged to not have to be admitted, knowing my immune system is low and he had disclosed he had several cases of MRSA in the ICU and it was a bad time for infectious disease at the hospital…he agreed the hospital was a horrible place for me right now, and if we could make me comfortable at home, that was the goal)

But it doesn’t end there.

I left the ER at 3am Monday morning. The only place open by us at that time is a 24-hour CVS, where the pharmacist would be forced to check the database as well…which may or may not be working…and then he/she gets to either give me the meds as prescribed OR deny me because that’s not my normal pharmacy and holy crap the database says I’m on a TON already…because what pharmacist would want to be liable?

See…that’s when Erin finds out this proposition that started off with good intentions is actually a huge scam by trial lawyers to make more money. They make money by raising the cap, they make money by suing the hell out of the ER doc and the pharmacist and anyone else who gave me a script. They make more money by drug testing doctors, hoping to catch the one bad apple. And they didn’t even get the drug testing part right! They claim to have modeled it after how they drug test pilots…but, um…no. Not exactly. They left out some huge things, that, of course, benefit the lawyers. The idea is to protect people from doctors who are drunk or high, but the prop calls for them to test AFTER an incident has occurred. Uh, how does that protect the patient? AFTER the patient has been screwed? As for those doctors, they screw up just as much as the rest of us, getting hooked on drugs or having a drink too many. The same lawyers fighting for this proposition have allowed themselves health insurance that includes addiction help that remains anonymous, but refuse to allow the same for the doctors. You know, so they can sue them.

Oh as for those big name Dems who have endorsed the proposition? I personally think they should recuse themselves from endorsing either side due to spouses & other family members who are medical malpractice attorneys or just plain old trial lawyers.

This proposition is actually so bad, it’s got political foes agreeing NO is the only way to vote. I’m talking the ACLU and the California Chamber of Commerce AGREEING. Maybe this is the beginning of a new, bi-partisans era in California? With all of us rallying together? Hell bent on defeating this proposition?

I will be 100% honest with you, had this just been a prop about the cap I probably would have voted “yes.” But instead they got greedy. They got greedy and they got sloppy. This thing appears to have been drafted by children. The wording is that convoluted and it’s meaning lost within the addition of drug testing and mandatory CURES checks.

I will PERSONALLY OFFER to help draft NEW legislation that will raise the cap in a responsible manner, which is what the grassroots of this Prop want. I will reach across the aisle and I will make sure this coalition of strange bedfellows remain bedfellows for the sake of those who deserve all they can get if their family or loved ones have been wronged by a medical malpractice. I want this done responsibly, for the right reasons, not by trial lawyers who took this over to make money. That’s not the spirit of this prop and it has become the spirit, thus taking what was a good idea and turning it into a big mess that hurts more people than it helps.

But I will not stand by and wither in the corner, in pain, looked down upon like a junkie by every new doctor I meet simply because they looked in a broken database. I will not give up constitutional rights, even if I’m not a doctor, because my doctor went home on a Friday night and had a drink, or took his legally prescribed Xanax or pain pill after a day of work, and THEN gets a call he must submit to a drug test or be ASSUMED negligent.

But most of all, I will not continue to suffer because I feel shame asking my doctor to HELP ME out of the pain I feel.

No. No. No.

No on 46.

Wave of Emotion

It’s been a rough time around here lately.

I’m still grappling with the death of my Aunt and then the death of my grandfather. Two events that just won’t leave my mind for a second.

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Because I spent a lot of time in Michigan this past summer, I’ve even found myself calculating my disability checks and bills and wondering if Aaron could or even would quit his job and move the kids and I back there.

Of course it’s an insane thought. But it doesn’t stop me from looking at real estate on Lake Huron.

The kids and I have started back up at school again and while I crammed in treatment and they adjusted to their new classes, my husband had surgery (for the second time) getting a brand new toe, making it pretty impossible for him to get around.

Then the kids both sucked in all the new school germs and contracted pneumonia and I received terrifying news regarding another family member (but at least this time it’s not looking too bad now…thank goodness). All of this while I work to take care of my three loves, keep up with my own classes, and try and keep the house somewhat in order while trying very hard not to break down and run to the water.

It’s what I do.

From the minute I got my driver’s license I would head down Lakeshore Dr. in Grosse Pointe to just think. I would drive all the way downtown and find a spot under the Ambassador bridge, park, and just look out a the Detroit River. It brought me peace.

When I lived in Dublin I found a bus that would take me up to these coastal, Irish cities. The waves would crash into the rocks and the local would get me drunk on Guinness and everything was ok…because I could see the sea and breathe.

When I moved to Florida I would drive to the coast in-between every shift at work, and after every bad date, or bad memory, or when I just needed to work things out in my head…I even found the one topless beach where I could find a secluded area, sunbathe, and inhale the sea air while I listened to waves, lulling me into knowing everything would be ok.

And then came my home, California. Nothing compares to the relief that washes over me when we finally hit that stretch of the 101 where ocean is visible. It’s as if it puts me back together after falling apart. Somehow making me whole.

There are just so many things I can’t work out right now…from trying to do what the therapist said and concentrating on ‘my’ life to mourning for people and a past that will never be the same.

And I don’t have the freedom to just take off and stare at the Pacific what with LA traffic and all of the above. So instead I bury my head in books and try my best to smile when really I’m hiding in the bathroom daily to let the tears flow.

There are so many things I just want to put back the way they were. So many. And not a single one of them are under my control or even slightly up to me. The more time I spend on myself, as recommended, the less connected I feel to everyone I love. I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to work.

Yes, my illness seemed to put all of this in motion. So being ME I blame myself. Which is just about as nuts as convincing Aaron to move to Michigan on my disability checks. But emotions make you do nutty things.

So in lieu of running away to the water, I move on to plan B…the other thing I do. I plan. Oh boy do I plan. In fact, I plan to the point of lists and charts and budgets and speeches.

Right now my plan has added a second major to my never-ending quest to finish my degree. Now I’m Journalism and Political Science, Pre-law. The plan being when my body can finally find its way to remission I’ll use my skills to add that extra step to my resume making me unstoppable and ready for world domination.

It will either help with those things I can’t control, or put me in a position to make the landing softer. Because of course I think it’s all my fault and if I can just pay off the house, pay off our debt, buy my parents a house…everything will be just fine.

Why does it always come down to money? Money shouldn’t matter. It really shouldn’t.

I don’t want money to matter. But it does.

I just want everyone around me to be happy. I want them fulfilled and doing what they love and to feel love and be in love and surrounded by love. But I can’t control that…no matter how much I support or give or push. I can’t fix it, I can’t fix others. I can only fix me.

Which usually means staring out into the sea, taking a deep breath, and hoping beyond hope there is light in the darkness and hope in that glorious horizon where the colors blend and bend and the water and sky touch.

Where you can hear the waves in constant motion, yet so rhythmic and soothing.

For my 40th birthday we’re going to Hawaii. I want nothing more than to just feel whole surrounded by the ocean. To put pieces of my life back together. To make things as they should be. Because I’m 40 dammit, and by 40 my life SHOULD be what I want it to be- not what anyone expects it to be or thinks it should be…but what I want.

And what I want, more than anything, if to feel love with sand in my toes and peace given to me from the only element on earth that seems to affect my mood and quiets all the voices in my head.

Maybe it’s because I’m always seemingly panicked or anxiety ridden and rushing around as if the world is on fire…and only water can douse the flames.

 

Whores & Studs Before They Are Teens

There’s a lot of talk about sexualizing girls way too early.

Many of us have written posts on the topic. Many of us have discussed it over Facebook and twitter. You know, when you are bra shopping for your tween and all you can find are padded, sexy bras. or how some girls are wearing make-up in the 2nd grade. Or how some parents allow their 10-year old to wear short-shorts and thigh-high boots.

Inevitably we talk and talk and blame our culture and society for exposing young girls to the idea they must appeal to men always and even, at very young ages, encourage them to have a boy crush or to smile for the nice men or, in some extreme cases, encourage them to be nothing but wives and trophies for the males of the world.

And while many of us talk to our children about these things, one headline made me realize far too many of us are forgetting the message we are constantly sending our boys:

Young Fan Plays Casanova at Fenway

Yup. That’s the headline you get if you go to share via Bleacher Report the touching story of the awesome 12-year old who gave up a foul ball that came his way during a Red Sox game to the girl behind him. The piece by Ken Chin even ends with “Slick move, kid, you’ve got a bright future.”

But it doesn’t end there. Over at Fanside, Mike Dyce writes, “There is one young Boston Red Sox fan who is showing himself to be quite the stud.” Yup, a 12-year old was just called a stud. Imagine calling a 12-year old girl the equivalent.

I’ll let that sink in… 

On NBC’s HardballTalk we get the headline “Smooth Kid ” and Craig Calcaterra’s commentary, “Everyone’s gonna say stuff like ‘this kid is going to do well with the ladies one day’ after watching this video. But he’s doing pretty well already.”  I encourage you to keep reading for the cougar reference just after. I wish I were kidding.

Sigh.

So as we are using something as simple as a kind gesture to insinuate a child is hitting on another child-not to mention totally cheering on the idea.

But of course with a “wink wink hubba bubba” thrown in because the writers all realize these are kids we’re talking about. But isn’t it just so darn cute?

And that is exactly the problem. The cutesy nudges do not excuse the underlying issues. Just like teasing preschoolers if they have a “boyfriend” or a little “girlfriend” at school encourages the idea they should be on the prowl.

While I almost don’t blame these writers and editors for going for the obvious cutesy jokes, I also wish they would stop and think about how they contribute to the problem.

I’m no prude. I’m not some uptight Mom, holding her babies tight and refusing to allow them to grow up. (ok, maybe a little but not unlike ANY mother) My son is just about that boy’s age. My daughter, just about that girl’s age. I can’t you how many times we’re with friends or relatives or whomever and the minute a boy child stands anywhere near a girl child and they actually play there is an outburst of “awwwwwwwww, maybe they will grow up and get married one day!” All while the Moms of the group start plotting out where they will register the two and which holidays they will spend with which set of in-laws.

I have been so caught up in all of the ways society has been trying to turn my little girl into a little whore, that I’ve entirely overlooked society’s role in prepping my son to step into his role – so much so that I am recalling how just the other night my husband and I were gently teasing my son over a girl (and her family) that we really like at school and how we’ve arranged their marriage.

Guilty and I didn’t even realize it. Just like all these headlines and all these wisecracks.

If we’re going to demand our daughters are allowed to remain children and NOT be sexualized at such young ages, we must demand the same for our sons.

I commend 12-year old Ryan for being a good kid. Way to go Ryan…but dude, no pressure. You were simply doing what everyone should do- be kind, share, and think of others. Way to go.