Aging Out

Well, it had to happen eventually. Me turning 26 next month, I mean. Twenty-six. Finally, I’ve crossed to the other side of what my imagination was capable of imagining. As a kid or a teen, 25 seemed so adult. That was the age I’d always planned to get married (I did) and start thinking about having kids (I haven’t). But that was it. Everything after 25 was blank and dark. I didn’t, don’t, have a plan.

President Obama was elected President during my senior year of high school, which means the ACA-related mandate that kids can stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26 was just a fact of my teens and twenties. I got to make my way through college without worrying about healthcare. Sure, I haven’t had dental for a while, but I take excellent care of my teeth and hope to go for a cleaning/checkup soon. I got to experience inexpensive preventative and emergency care, thanks to a decision that allowed me to benefit from the health insurance my father’s company provides us. I have gotten antibiotics to stave off sinus infections and UTIs. I’ve gotten my regular paps. I’ve even been tested for STIs/HIV—something monogamous people rarely feel they need to do. I have a wrist and back brace for when hard work turns into aches and pains.

I rarely visit doctors, because I’m rarely sick. The above list is a compilation of nearly a decade of experiences. I’m the queen of holistic remedies. It’s not unheard of for me to drink raw apple cider, or eat a whole garlic clove. I diffuse essential oils and apply them topically. I truly believe in my heart of hearts that local honey can help with seasonal allergies. I have been very lucky in my life. Not everyone I know has been so lucky.

Several people in my life whom I love dearly have suffered from seizures, Type I diabetes, cancer—things that herbal tea and meditation won’t cure. So, as I’m panicking, approaching my 26th birthday worried about my own access to care, I can’t stop thinking about them. That list of pre-existing conditions? I have exactly one: history of depression. Pretty much every person I know has more—just one of my family members has four on this partial list alone. This list is ableist, transphobic, misogynist, and cruel.

So, I’m turning 26. I finally have to cut the last remaining cord to my parents and get my own insurance. As stressful as it all is, I know, again, that I’m lucky. I’m a privileged, married, white woman, a born citizen of the U.S. I’m employed and educated, living in a blue state where care options are plentiful. I won’t be bankrupted trying to care for myself. But I am such a minuscule sliver of the population. The health insurance I pay for, I’ll rarely need or use.

Speaker Ryan said something, when talking a few months ago about the AHCA: “Why should healthy people pay for sick people to have healthcare?”

I paraphrase, but that sentence is the distillation of the expressed sentiments.

I don’t know, Speaker Ryan. Why should safe drivers pay for reckless ones? Why should financially responsible people pay for over-spenders’ overdraft fees?

We are one people. Every citizen, born, naturalized, and aspiring, is valuable. Their lives are valuable.

The same hypocrites who are pro-life and #AllLivesMatter are plotting to take healthcare away from millions of Americans, which will kill thousands. This is murder—it is a premeditated assault on the poor and disadvantaged, the disabled, the sick.

I am so lucky. I will probably escape from this nightmare unscathed. But because I’m unaffected, at least for now, I’m strong and healthy enough to fight for those that can’t fight for themselves. #Slacktivism is easy—real activism is really hard. I’m not even there yet. I just contacted my rep for the first time on July 4th. I’m a monthly donor to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, but I can’t afford to send them as much as I’d like.

Luckily, my best friend is a woke bae who has marched and prioritized civic engagement like a boss. She has alerted me to a few dope resources that are the perfect intro to doing your part.

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WTF Just Happened Today – This is a daily briefing on what the government is up to. If North Korea is testing missiles, you can read about it here. If the GOP is still whining about Hillary’s e-mails, it’ll be on here. It’s so hard to keep every crazy thing that’s happened straight!

5calls – 5calls is a site that provides call scripts and contact information for State Reps, Senators, AGs, etc. Reps work for us—make sure they’re legislating your values by calling them.

Countable – Countable provides summaries of past and present bills, plus the information on how your reps have voted. It helps you make those calls armed with the facts. For instance, my rep, whom I voted for and who I feel represents most of my values, recently voted for an extremely shitty, xenophobic bill. Hell no.

Democratic Socialists of America – I still haven’t taken the plunge and joined the DSA, but it’s only a matter of time. Yes, we need to buck the 2-party system (France and Britain’s recent elections are compelling evidence as to why), but I’m hoping my beloved Dems can get it together and swerve left. The DSA is doing super important work at the local level though, so check them out. Just don’t put a rose emoji in your Twitter display name, or I’ll disown you.

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Well, that post took an unexpected turn. What started as a personal reflection about getting older somehow turned into a call for political action. Lately, it’s been hard not to think in the plural. As the rights of other Americans are stripped away, WE supersedes ME. Grammatically-questionable platitude aside, we’ve got to get to work. 2018 is coming up fast. I’ll be 27 by the midterms—maybe I’ll have some of this figured out by then.

Republican National Catastrophe

Well, that was an apocalyptic disaster wrapped in a tragedy. I didn’t want to watch the RNC, because I have too much self-respect to put myself through things of that nature, but I have been bedridden since Wednesday night with some sort of Death-Virus-Not-Otherwise-Specified, so I caught a bit more than the highlights reel.

I have so many thoughts and feelings, but no one needs to hear my frustrated ramblings on the half-melted creamsicle running for President, so I’ll stick to the other people that deigned to show up.

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I found this on Google. Linking to GOP-run sites is too painful.

Melania Trump

This poor woman. Chelsea, you’re going to bat for a supermodel/billionaire’s wife? How can you have pity for someone in her shoes? Well, I do. Do you think that 18 years ago when she made the world’s most painful sacrifice of dignity in exchange for wealth that she thought she’d be carted out in Cleveland to give a plagiarized speech? Do you think she needed know-nothings on the Internet making fun of her accent and grammar? No fucking way. If I were her, I’d need a month at a very expensive spa to recover from this drama.

Here’s the deal: despite the fact that carving Slayer and a pentagram into your forearm is probably more enjoyable than sex with Trump, if I were her I’d have done the same thing. I’ve read about growing up in a Soviet Bloc country and it doesn’t sound fun. Granted, if Trump becomes president, we should be prepared to relive the Cold War to some degree.

My general stance is leave Melania alone. Just let her be beautiful and happy. Don’t make her give grandiose speeches about her African-dictator-level insane husband.

Ivanka Trump

Ivanka is the only Trump I care about. She’s smart, has a cool brand, and is a #momwhoworks. I know she had a privileged upbringing but not every daughter of a rich person becomes an actual role model. She could have been a Paris Hilton or something. She’s articulate and driven. That’s why her speech last night made me absolutely die inside for her. Imagine being a life-long registered Democrat and an advocate for women having to lie her head off about her molest-y dad. Imagine even having to be in a room with more than one Republican. I’m from Massachusetts—I almost never have to deal with that shit.

I don’t judge her. I mean, what would you do? She would have looked like a royal asshole if she’d stayed silent or actively protested the coming apocalypse. Her speech pivoted between sentimental stories about her father and random statistics about women in the workplace, particularly the Trump Organization. Let’s assume that women are treated equally at Trump Org. That very well may be true. After all, Donald J. was a Democrat and friend of the Clintons yesterday. Too bad every single Republican value holds women, people of color, and the poor back while elevating and privileging the already-rich. Trump’s running mate wants to ban all abortion. Republicans think it’s totally fine for Christian-run businesses to deny women basic health care and birth control (Hobby Lobby, anyone?) Republicans c-blocked Obama for 7 and a half years on every damn thing he tried based solely on his race, and I feel fine saying that. Just Google “Romneycare” or basically anything Mitch McConnell has ever said. Honestly, these people. Imagine being a member of a political party whose rhetoric is, “It’s chill to kill black people.”

So, it shattered my heart to hear Ivanka forced to appeal to the “Women for Trump,” also known as the Internalized Misogyny Brigade of America. I hope her brand survives this, and that Ivanka apparel and accessories doesn’t become some sort of Middle America status symbol. Instead of ladies doin’ it for themselves, it was ladies doin’ it…to advance the career of some garbage dude.

Ted Cruz

Who knew that Lucifer Incarnate had a redeeming quality? Good troll, buddy. Now, I know that he’s going to use this to his advantage when Trump loses so that he can run again in 2020. Hey guys, I have integrity. I didn’t endorse that rotting pumpkin left outside until July. But still, it was refreshing to see one person remove the puppeteer’s hand from his rear and stick to his guns. Since voting-with-conscience in this election = voting for Hillary Clinton, I’m just going to pretend he endorsed Hillary. He may as well have. I’m still hoping that he, Paul Ryan, and a select few others are in on this election as a massive piece of performance art proving how truly and unimpeachably idiotic the American people are.

Ben Carson

This fuckin’ guy. He woke up from a nap to let us know that, somehow, Hillary Clinton literally embodies the devil. That’s right y’all: a person who ran for President believes the devil is real in 2016, not 1516. I really don’t have anything else to add. He’s just an adult doctor who believes in the devil. I can’t.

There were so many other laughable moments. Scott Baio, that soap-opera dude. Paul Ryan still calling the GOP the party of Lincoln. Straight-up disrespectful. Let’s hope that the DNC is not similarly deflating.

What was most the horrifying moment of the Convention for you?

—DellaBites

A few words on Orlando

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image via the Huffington Post

The language surrounding the Orlando massacre had already pivoted from “hate crime” to “terrorist action” before I even woke up to hear the news yesterday. Before the death toll began to rise. Poor, unfortunate advocates of gun control, silenced before we were even allowed to speak.

Much has been made of the shooter’s ethnic background. His parents were Muslim immigrants from Afghanistan. Therefore, apparently, by some twisted logic, the shooting at an LGBTQ safe space was an act of “Islamic terror” and not a hate crime against a beautiful community whose diversity makes us better as a nation every day.

I won’t try to argue that followers of Islam aren’t prejudiced against the gay community, because they very well may be. But aren’t the leaders that advocate for traditional marriage and undermine the human rights and dignity of that same community not the loudest and proudest Christians? I am an atheist, but I have the pleasure of knowing people of several faiths, mostly Christian ones, who are among the most loving, tolerant, and open people I’ve met. They truly believe that the message of their God or gods is one of acceptance, forgiveness, and equality.

If the shooter were a white, Christian man, he would merely be “deranged.” His actions wouldn’t be held as a reflection of the values of his faith. Christian leaders and politicians would try their damnedest to condemn his actions. And he most certainly would not have been instantly linked to terrorist organizations.

The Orlando shooter, whose name does not deserve to be printed, very well may have been a terrorist. For all I know, he was set to board a plane to join ISIS next week. But that’s not the point. The shooting was an act of terror, but not the “Islamic terror” that the orange blowhard currently running for President loves to speak about. It was an act of terror and hatred against a minority group against whom society and the world is still prejudiced.

This shooting brings up two very important issues on which U.S. needs to progress, neither of which involves Islam, ISIS, or Carrie Mathison’s intervention. The first is universal acceptance of the LGBTQ community. This won’t happen overnight, but as equal marriage is now the law of the land, it behooves those still on the fence or still steeped in hatred to look within themselves to locate the source of their discomfort. The second is this nation’s desperate need for common sense gun control.

Even though I personally would never own a gun, I have no serious objection to law-abiding citizens, regardless of race or creed, owning a firearm for hunting or sport. I don’t agree that any civilian needs a gun, but I would never infringe upon another person’s constitutional right to bear arms. Just as I would never censor a person for speaking his or her mind or practicing his or her religion openly. Neither, I should mention, would the Democratic party or its nominee for President. No one will be coming to your house to confiscate your guns. Gun control is not a ban on guns.

What gun control laws would seek to do is institute universal background checks before the purchase of guns and ammunition. They would prevent people that are currently under suspicion of terrorism from accessing guns. The same people on the no-fly list would be on the no-gun list. The majority of NRA members support these measures, by the way.

What gun control means for you: if you are a law-abiding citizen over the age of 18 who has been properly vetted, go ahead and buy a gun. Nobody is stopping you.

In most cases, the gun that your uncle keeps locked in his safe at home is not the gun responsible for mass shootings. Combat-grade assault weapons are often at fault. Civilians do not need access to the instruments of war, which are designed to maximize slaughter. A ban on assault weapons is completely reasonable.

Fifty members of our society were mercilessly gunned down in a safe space that they created for themselves. As every new outlet has claimed, it was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. This is a U.S. problem. It’s on us to be vocal about calling for change. It’s on us to vote for leaders that support gun control. It’s on us to stand up for the rights of our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community every day.

Isn’t it ironic that so much love is the target of so much hatred? Someday, I want to raise my kids in a world where, when I tell them about Orlando, they respond with the same horror with which I once responded to hearing about the Jim Crow laws, glad that their world is safer and more tolerant than the one that preceded them. To me, growing up, racial segregation was unfathomable. I’m from Massachusetts, where equal marriage has been law since 2004, so, much in the same way, intolerance toward the LGBTQ community was unfathomable. Future generations deserve to feel the same way about assault weapons and hate crimes.

I won’t be praying for Orlando, because I’m not religious and that would be an empty gesture. I will, however, be voting Democrat in November. My hope is that those fifty deaths won’t be entirely in vain, and that we can rally the support needed to change the conversation surrounding guns, terrorism, and intolerance.

Thank you.

Friday, I’m In #LOVEWINS

Today 5/9 of the Supreme Court of the United States made marriage equality the law of the land. I’m so proud to be an American on this historic day, as our country joins the civilized world in granting same-sex couples the rights and dignity they so deserve. Our kids are going to learn about this decision in school one day.

Photo from the NY Times. Click through for link to the article.
Photo from the NY Times. Click through for link to the article.

Today was also great for me because I booked our flights to San Francisco (which felt even more amazing in light of this news)! San Francisco was the spark that ignited this momentous change. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to visit there for the first time since 1999. I was just a kid then!

It’s only July, but I can confidently say that 2015 has been one of the best years of my life. I’ve experienced so much personal growth, so much amazing music, and such incredible progress. Then again, it’s difficult not to be optimistic when something of this magnitude occurs. I’m sure this decision has caused all of its fervent supporters to reflect gratefully upon their privilege.

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This floral top was, unfortunately, the closest thing I own to rainbow colors, so I wore it proudly (and loudly, because I mixed patterns and wore bright pink shoes & lipstick). I always dress deliberately, but today I may have gone a little symbolically overboard. My boyfriend was sweet in indulging me in a brief sunset photo session. I wonder how long it will take him to get sick of this.

Go give someone you love a big kiss today. I certainly will.

top/secondhand--Christie Dupree, shorts/Kate Spade Saturday, glasses/Warby-Parker
top/secondhand–Christie Dupree, shorts/Kate Spade Saturday, glasses/Warby-Parker