Easy Consent Primer

My Facebook news feed runneth over with opinions and outrage over the recent light sentencing of the Stanford student found guilty on three counts of sexual assault.  I won’t rehash that – You’ve read plenty already I’m sure.  So many things to be angry about here like white privilege,  rape culture, binge drinking, inability to accept blame for one’s actions, consent and what it is or is not.

As someone who works with students in a university setting, all the arguments and excuses that come up during a sexual assault investigation are familiar to me.  I think what makes this crime really dig into my heart is that SO MANY of them are in this case.  This is like a case study to end all case studies when it comes to how certain types of people are able to get out of horrible things and somehow continue to remain completely oblivious to the wreckage they leave in their wake.  Part of my job is to educate the students in my care, and we all know simple can sometimes work best for busy folks with short attention spans.  Therefore, to assist everyone who finds themselves in the same confused and deluded boat, trying to sail away from responsibility on the river of Denial, I bring you a short primer on what to remember when you find yourself on top of a person who is unconscious (BESIDES quickly getting help to make sure they are okay).  Feel free to use as necessary.


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24 Things Women Over 30 Should Wear

This morning, as I was perusing  my Facebook timeline, I happened upon an article that a lovely friend shared. It was entitled “24 Things Women Should Stop Wearing After Age 30”, a…

Source: 24 Things Women Over 30 Should Wear

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Me and Moses and Losing My Religion

Happy Easter!   

 Our only Easter tradition these days seems to be watching all the hours of The Ten Commandments (The REAL version with Charlton and Yul) and buying a pile of chocolate for ourselves.  We’re even a holiday behind this year, with corned beef and cabbage in the crockpot.  Maybe we’ll do ham for Cinco de Mayo and have margaritas for The Fourth of July.

Easter always gets me thinking seriously about my religion (or lack thereof) in a way Christmas never does.  Must be the torture and death.  I’m such a bad Catholic now that someone had to remind me what Good Friday was all about.  And thank goodness for that infogram on facebook breaking down the horrors to specific hours.  I know, I know…  But looking from the outside in, Good Friday seems like a really poor choice of titles for the day. I haven’t been to a church service in years that wasn’t tied to a wedding or a funeral.  I don’t consider myself a Catholic anymore, although I was raised that and went through Confirmation and all. Cecelia is the saint name I chose, for those that are curious. Today, I consider myself a human being who tries to be as good as she is able on any given day.  That’s not a religion, that’s just not being a dick.  I’m okay with that.  If we have a higher being I feel they will be okay with that as well.

Organized religion just stopped making sense to me and no one could give me answers that seemed right. It probably happens to most people and then they somehow reconcile and put away thier doubts.  That’s faith?  When something doesn’t make sense but you’re going to believe in it anyway?  Yeah…no.  I couldn’t do it.  It never seemed right that somehow I happened to be part of the “real” religion and everyone else was mistaken and doomed.  I lasted until shortly after confirmation when I finally said this religion stuff was bullshit.  I probably said exactly that, I don’t recall.  But I know what the last straw was, the last stupid little thing that make me think people were totally lying to me about how serious all these rules were that I was brought up with and was supposed to be terrified to go against.   

St. Patrick’s Day on a Friday was all it took.

Buffalo has a pretty big Irish population and apparently there was consternation over not being able to eat corned beef on St. Patrick’s day since it was a Friday during Lent.  The Cardinal over the Buffalo area then gave Special Dispensation to eat corned beef that Friday that year.  I went WHAAAT………..?  Suddenly, all these rules of what you could and could not do to avoid going to Hell got pretty hazy. I was out.  I didn’t make a big stink about it but slowly I withdrew from “churchy things” and once I was in college I only went to mass on major holidays to make my mother happy.

I may not be part of a religion on purpose now, but I can’t exactly remove everything I was raised with.  It’s just a bit different these days.  I do believe there was a man named Jesus.  I have a feeling that some stories in the Bible are loosely based on true events and others are completely fabricated to suit the needs of important men. I think Mary Magdalene was far more important than we have been told and might have been Jesus’ wife.  There’s so much we don’t know about that people just have faith in but that’s never been me. 

I just try not to be an asshole.  


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The Trump Report

I went to a Trump rally held at my institution in January because we get a lot of candidates coming through there and I thought it would be a hoot.  It kind of wasn’t, and I just realized today that I posted the story to my facebook but forgot to put it here.  So sorry for the two month delay!

First of all, the man let me down. It was the same old rhetoric I’ve heard from every candidate. He’s going to fix the social security problem, the immigration problem, the healthcare problem, blah blah blah. You and everybody else. I did think it was funny when he started talking about Mexico and said “I love the Mexican people – a lot of them work for me.”  He had zero explanation for how he would implement any of his plans.

I walked there and I’m so glad because the line of cars and line of people was amazingly ridiculous. (In fact, while in line I learned that our 6,500 seat coliseum actually seats 14,000 and 20,000 tickets had been claimed. Our facilities folks told me Trump’s people would never tell them how many tickets they had given out.) If only our basketball team drew that many supporters into that building. I was the only one not freezing in line because I was wearing all my fluorescent winter running gear – and a sock monkey hat – because you know me. I like to blend in. While in line, I could have shopped for many delightful items including a Trump scarf, t-shirts and buttons that said “bomb the shit out of ISIS”, bumper stickers proclaiming that if Hillary can’t please her husband she can’t please the country, another that simply said “Trump that bitch”, and oddly enough, Trump underwear (white briefs).  

It was clear that Trump feels really threatened by Hillary judging by those stickers and the number of times he disparaged her. Other than that, the only remotely interesting thing was the instruction given to the crowd in case of protesters or hecklers. We were told to immediately begin chanting TRUMP and point towards the person until the police could grab them. No other candidate I’ve gone to see has started off their event with a plan to have attendees shut down dissenting opinions. To see it happen several times tonight and see how excited everyone got about doing it was kind of chilling.  

They stopped letting people in a little after 7 and then let a few more in at some point. There were still at least 100 empty seats during the event in my section alone. People who couldn’t get in were beating on the windows and cussing out the secret service guys. The attendees of this freak show were far crazier than Trump tonight.

The Muslim woman standing silently while Trump talked about Syrian refugees?  That’s all she was doing and it made someone mad so the crowd around her turned into a pack of jackals.  I’m amazed she wasn’t injured on the way out.  At the time, I had no idea why she was being escorted out until after I saw the CNN report, but the police sure hustled to get to her. There were several times the crowd would turn on a person and start pointing and chanting TRUMP – which is what the audience was instructed to do if there were any protesters. It happened so quickly and loudly I couldn’t tell you what any of them said or did.

I got so bored (and frankly a bit spooked by the crowd mentality – it’s like I was in the Milgram experiment or the Stanford prison study) hearing the same old same old that I gave up and left but as I did he finished up and it was that little incentive I needed to jog all the way home because I couldn’t get away fast enough from all those normal looking crazy people. Kudos to our campus police and facilities folks that have to deal with all the headaches of hosting all these candidates.

P.S. Because someone was wondering – the music playing when he walked out was “Eye of the Tiger”. I am also sharing a photo someone at the university took which shows not only the woman who was eventually escorted out when she stood to represent peaceful Muslims and Syrian refugees, but a nice homemade sign next to her that someone snuck in accusing Trump of liking Nickleback. LOL


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The Fable of Someday

I’m packing for a trip today, and tomorrow I leave for New Orleans. Yes, Mardi Gras.  

I almost hate to tell people where I’m going when I travel (especially the annual Mardi Gras trip) because without fail, they will say something like: “I’m SO jealous. I’m going to go there someday.” or “It must be nice.” or “I’m totally going.” Someday.

No you aren’t.

I don’t mean to be cruel, but you aren’t.  You say things like that all the time to people who are actually doing things they have decided they are going to do, almost like it’s a reflex you can’t help.  When it comes right down to it and someone puts you on the spot by offering to room with you or give you a guidebook or help you plan this trip so you can make it happen you have 100 excuses why you can’t do it.  You are so totally never going. Ever. So either stop lying to yourself and admit you’ve decided to scuttle your dreams of travel in favor of all your responsibilities or motivate your ass to put a plan in motion.  It doesn’t have to be a fast plan – maybe you give up one fancy latte a week and put that money aside for your trip. It doesn’t have to be a luxurious plan – budget travel can be amazing. But it needs to be a plan that you MOVE FORWARD ON. Stop telling yourself that work can’t survive without you or no one can watch the dog. The kids can stay with relatives or (gasp) travel with you.  For real, people do it.  They aren’t rich people, they aren’t unemployed slackers, they have just decided that their needs and dreams are as important as the other parts of their lives.

The last time I heard “I’ll get there someday” (accompanied by the sigh -always) was this afternoon and I was so surprised at the immediate anger I felt I had to stop what I was doing and think about where that was coming from (which resulted in this post). This person didn’t mean harm of course, but really they are harming themselves by casually throwing that desire out there with no intention to do anything about it. You are doing a disservice to yourself to dream empty dreams. Take steps to make them real.  You’re not going to live forever so stop making excuses about why now is not a good time.

Now is the perfect time. Now is the only time.

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Making Handmade Leather Journals

Lately I’ve been obsessed with de-cluttering AND blank journals.  Especially leather ones, which can be amazingly expensive.  I horde blank journals because I can never figure out what’s important enough to write in them but then I realized I could get rid of a bag of random leather scraps by making journals.  Win-win, if I actually use some and get rid of some in the etsy shop or as gifts.  Most of what I am making is teeny and oddly shaped but of course this tutorial will help get you started no matter what size and shape you want to make.  If you want weird ones, get your 40% off Michael’s coupon and buy a $6.99 bag of leather scraps!

Some of my journals are two leather pieces stitched together with pages in the middle like a sandwich. Others are one piece of folded leather and  inserts of folded pages.  The basic stuff I used is above and I happened to have most of it because I’m crafty.  Besides leather I have some cording/ribbon if I want to tie the journals closed, several types of string for binding, embroidery needles $1.29 at Wal-Mart), exacto and scissors, pliers (in case you need help pulling the needle through the pages), and two awls.  You really only need one awl but I just happened to have two around.  And paper of course!  You can use anything and some of my books are using 100lb drawing paper from pads I haven’t touched in years.  The heavier the paper, the more of a challenge it will be to get the awl through.  

For the teeny gray guy below, I cut some scrap copy paper into pages slightly smaller than the leather covers.  

This is a small enough book that I worked the sharper awl through everything at once but you can also work in stages.  Just use one page with holes on all sections as a template.  The number of holes and stitching patterns are up to you and I’ve seen some pretty fancy patterns that confuse the hell out of me.  Just do what you like and what works.  For this type of book without folded pages, the knot will be on the outside.  

For the slightly larger green journal I am using a single piece of leather that I will fold over.  I’m using 100lb paper and will fold those as well.

I poked the smaller awl through everything but using the larger one would have made stitching much easier. I used waxed cotton cord which is thicker than my other options so using pliers to pull the needle straight though was a huge help.  For stitching folded pages the knot can be on the inside.  With this folded type of book, I like to add a tie to it to help hold it shut.

Just cut two small slits in the back and weave a tie of some sort – in this case faux suede cord. Ta-da, you can even remove and add new pages when it gets used up. Now force yourself to write in them! 


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A Cluttered Post About De-Cluttering

Organizing. Minimizing. Simplifying. That’s been my obsession lately. For some time now, I’ve been trying to re-train my brain to understand that more is not necessarily better and just because something is on sale doesn’t mean I need to have it. Spending money on a bunch of junk because it’s cheap is a waste of money, which is what I’m trying to avoid by sale shopping, right? It totally undermines what I’m trying to achieve! This feeling goes way back to growing up with little money, trying to make it stretch as far as possible and accumulate as much as possible, as if possessions could increase my worth. Many of us are trying to do that with or without realizing it. I knew I was never going to be one of the popular preppy girls in their Limited sweaters, spiral perms, and popped collars (late 80’s dude, don’t judge) and I became obsessed with estate sales, flea markets and thrift stores. I still love the treasure hunt of second-hand shopping (and I still don’t have much money) so the challenge is learning to shop with control. Buying only what I need and nothing more and realistically, I don’t need a lot. Also by this age, I’ve figured out some things about myself like I do not wear loafers or scarves so I need to stop buying them from thrift stores, even if they are Italian leather and silk. I don’t have much space to put anything so that’s the other impetus here besides being smarter with my money: we are overcluttered and I can’t stand it. I say “we” because I don’t live alone but the added complication here is that only one of us is on the declutter bandwagon.
I call my husband a hoarder but really, he’s not. He worked hard for everything he has and doesn’t want to get rid of any of it – even if he hasn’t used something in years and probably never will again. He’s still attached to the idea that getting rid of things is throwing away money. I’m over that but I would never be the spouse who throws out things that don’t belong to me because a: I’m not an asshole and b: without a person changing their mindset regarding acquisitions, it does no good to get rid of things because more things will come in and take that space back. So when it comes to things like tools and fishing equipment, I have no power. Le sigh.

I fight my battles where I can, getting cutthroat with things in drawers and closets that can be donated but skirting around his items and trying to gently suggest which things could maybe do just as well in the upstairs storage room that we are lucky enough to have. (Don’t think I haven’t been trying to clear that out as well.) When all else fails, I’ve been throwing things in shelf-sized totes so at least if I have to deal with all the junk existing here I don’t have to dust it. By the way, when did plastic storage containers get so damn expensive??? This latest round of decluttering really took off in August, after yet another flood from a broken valve on our building’s chilled water line which gave us an hour of pouring water out of the fan coil unit from our kitchen ceiling. This has happened several times over the years and each time I try to move more and more things off the floors and into plastic containers. In fact, one of my two dressers is actually a stack of plastic Sterlite drawers and the other dresser is up on wheels. Storage container lids on the closet floor and under the bed keep our shoes and boots dry in the event of wet carpet. The legs of my cedar chest nest in little clear plastic dollar store storage cups. My husband tries to act like I’m the crazy one but I just disaster prep for the type of disaster we have most often. Then I don’t have a heart attack about property damage when a valve blows out in the middle of the night (it’s always the middle of the night for some reason), I just call maintenance and start setting trash cans under the water.
When the house is clearer I can think better. I don’t get frustrated going into that cupboard where everything used to fall out on me. I can find important paperwork. On the rare occasions I’m in the mood to clean it’s so much easier. I can BREATHE. I don’t know if I was ever the kind of person who was comforted being surrounded by mass quantities of “stuff”, but I know now that less is more. If I could just get others around me to believe it, like my parents who also love bargain shopping (especially auctions) and love to bring us tons of things we don’t need when they visit. I’ve told mom only edible presents are welcome from now on but she seems to not hear that…

Helpful guidelines (as I thought them up) if you are trying to declutter:

* Can’t get rid of it but use it once every 6 months? Put it in storage (garage, attic, basement). Get it out of your daily living situation and don’t let it creep back in.

* About that storage space.  It’s the last place something lingers before it goes out the door.  Really assess what you have there and why.  If you forgot you had it, get rid of it.

* Keeping something because it belonged to a loved one is great if you use that thing on a regular basis (grandma’s kitchen towels), but the bag of costume jewelry that’s not your style? Grandma’s okay with you not keeping it. Giving it away does not diminish your love or your memories.

* How many of your childhood and high school trinkets do you REALLY need?

* If you aren’t planning on having kids, maybe give up most of your stuffed animals and children’s books.

* Don’t keep something just because it is old.

* Don’t keep something just because of nostalgia.

* Don’t keep something just because it is valuable (and don’t keep a pile of things you think will sell on ebay – you won’t get much money for them if you ever really do get around to listing them).

* It’s easy to overlook things you see every day but get in your way. It is really adding value to your life or just clutter?

* If you keep instructions/warranty paperwork in one place, go through it and throw out expired warranties and manuals for things you no longer own.

* You have things in your closet that you say you loooove – but there’s always something else you want to wear more? Those things should go. Ditto with shoes and purses. I know it hurts to admit because I too love shoes and bags.

* Start writing in all those blank notebooks or stop buying them! Sorry, that might just pertain to me.

* If you’ve kept something for 15 years “just in case” and never used/worn it…

* You own a pie dish but know damn well you will alway buy a pre-made crust…

* It’s more important to have a few things you are in love with than 100 choices that you feel “eh” about.

* There are plenty of people who could use what you don’t need. I have a free box outside my office where I put a lot of things that disappear. I know they are being used by others. I try to donate to small local charities instead of Goodwill and Salvation Army because big organizations often have more than they can use.

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