X-Chromosome Day (aka: Cool Things About Being a Woman)

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Apparently, today is International Women’ Day. Which used to be a day to celebrate being a working woman, but I guess the stay-at-home moms and desperate housewives had hurt feelings, and so someone decided to encompass them, too. So now, this is a day to celebrate being a woman, or 51% of the world’s population.

I also heard that today is a political day, in which women everywhere have organized a strike. That’s right — a Day Without Women, in which everyone with two X chromosomes (and vacation leave) is encouraged to stay home from work or school, so that the world may see that we women are much more valuable than just housekeepers, cooks, and sex objects. Sort of a “How do you like me now?” to men everywhere. Even Lady Liberty herself went MIA last night.

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Sadly, I never heard a thing about the strike. Just as I never heard a thing about the enormous women’s demonstration that happened in January until the protest was already taking place. You miss a lot of information, living in a cave. But anyway, I am wearing a red dress (okay fine, a cranberry-colored dress), so I guess that little coincidence can be my contribution to this moment of solidarity.

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My other contribution will be a small moment to reflect on some of the cool things about being a woman. No offense to you XY-Chromosomers out there, but being a woman is, for the most part, pretty sweet.

Dresses, Dresses, Dresses

No, not every woman is fond of wearing dresses. To some women, they are a throwback to the days when women were forced to dress in dainty, frilly clothes and act like proper ladies. But to me, and to many other women and girls, dresses are just one way to express ourselves and our femininity. Also, buying one dress often costs less than buying all the individual parts of a pants outfit. Another plus: on warm days, nothing beats the easy, breezy comfort of a skirt.

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Heels

Say what you like, ultra-feminists. For some of us women, nothing is more empowering than tapping through the halls in a pair of heeled boots. Power walk!

We don’t have to be great at everything

I’ve got to say, I in no way envy the competition among men to own the most tech toys, drive the fastest car, or be the best at sports. Except for my super-speed, I have always been blissfully mediocre at sports, and I never felt the pressure to perform any better than that. No need to strip off my t-shirt and shoot hoops. No need to know the stats of every football player in order to participate in a conversation. No shame in having no clue how to hold or shoot a gun. No, not even a virtual gun in a FPS video game.

We are free to express our creative sides

We can be happily artsy, scrapbooking and drawing and turning our homes into something we’ve seen on HGTV. We can indulge in handicrafts without stigma, or even turn our faces into a personal canvas, with makeup and hair tools. We are free to sing, to dance, to write poetry, without ever needing to worry about how others may perceive us.

Yet I can’t help but feel that there is an injustice in this. As wonderful as it is to be a woman for these reasons, wouldn’t the world be a much better place if both genders could enjoy without shame many of these same “feminine” freedoms that I celebrate today?

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Miss Independent (aka: Politics, People, and Parties)

WeThePeopleFirst off, I am not nor have I ever been a member of the Democratic Party.

Now, if you haven’t died if shock or rage-quit reading this blog post, then we can continue discussing the dreaded P word. That’s right. People.

What, you thought we were going to discuss politics? Okay fine, we’ll do that a little, too. But when you really think about it, to discuss politics really means to discuss people. Because thanks to Alexander Hamilton and George Washington and those other guys whose faces ended up as 3D graffiti on a perfectly good piece of rock, our government is one of the People, by the People, and for the People.

There are a lot of People in this country. Something like 300 million of us, to be exact. We all look very different, represent different subcultures, and have ancestors from every corner of the sphere. Many of us don’t believe in God, while many more of us believe in God in some form. Some of us live in poverty while a few of us are super rich (about 1% we say). Most of us fall somewhere in between. With so much diversity, it’s really no wonder that We the People can’t agree on how this nation should be governed.

“The government should give us all free health care, a college education, high-paying fast food jobs, and FEMA trailers that don’t suck,” says one group.

“The government should not regulate our businesses, our guns, or our churches, but it should totally regulate who we love and  what we do with our bodies,” says another group.

“The government should go back to England where it came from and let us do whatever the heck we want to do,” says another.

1776 PartyAnd so, we have these things called parties. No, not the cool kind of parties, with balloons and dancing and cake and stuff. Instead, we have the Democratic Party, and the Republican Party, and a bunch of other smaller parties that are like the hopeless nerdy kid who runs for class president, and you feel sorry for him, because he’ll try very hard and maybe get like, eleven votes. And instead of having fun, these parties are all about electing the presidential candidate whose ideals you hate the least.

This is an election year. Which means that your Facebook feed is filled with people expressing all of their political dislikes.

“I can’t stand Hillary Clinton, because she’ll let in all the immigrants, and take away all the guns, and teach people that it’s okay to send work email from our home computers.”

“I can’t stand Donald Trump, because he’ll keep out all of the immigrants and let the gun-lovers shoot everyone with their guns, and turn comb-overs into popular hairstyles.”

When you ask people to express what they do like about their political candidate, they suddenly have less to say. “Uh…I like that he stands for all the things my party stands for.” Whatever that means.

Independent party

Over the years, I have learned to rarely share my political opinions. One, because they may change without warning. Crazy, right? One day, I may be breezing along, believing that the President of the United States should make English the official national language (English English, not American English. Get it straight). Then bam! Someone comes along and says some intelligent thing that shifts my world view. Whoa! After that happened enough times, I finally quit the Republican party and joined the Independents. It’s true. I am one of those free-thinking, game-changing, unpredictable Independent voters. Republicans and Democrats alike are nervous in our presence, as they don’t know whether we are enemies or allies. Are we for or against hybrid cars? Batman or Superman? Carnivore or herbivore? Auuugghh! What are we?

Truth: We Independents like to stand on the sidelines, munching our popcorn and watching the big dogs slug it out for our amusement and consideration. Then, when things get down to the wire, we like to rush in and sway the vote in favor of the strongest candidate.

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(Prediction: This war will be fought between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Clinton will win. You’ll see. 😉 )

The cool thing, though, is that when all is said and done, the gloves come off, and the dust settles, we will no longer be a nation divided between Group A and Group B. We will stop focusing so much on being Democrats or Republicans, and return to being Americans, one nation united under God (mostly). At least until the next election.

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Offensive Coffee Cups (aka: #BoycottStupidity)

 

Red Starbucks Coffee CupsA sad fact: it does not snow in California. Okay fine – I guess it snows up in the High Sierra, where people still pan for gold and grow beards that would make Dumbledore envious. But throughout most of Cali, it doesn’t snow. No snow days. No adorable little snowmen in our front yards. No white Christmases.

I know what you’re thinking.

No snow at Christmas? I should boycott Starbucks. After all, for years, they have insisted on printing tiny snowflakes and snowmen on their red holiday coffee cups. So offensive! They totally left out the snow-less citizens of California, Nevada, Hawaii, and Florida. How dare a coffee company not represent our group. From now on, if Starbucks does not start printing little golden sun symbols on their red cups, then we should no longer buy their delicious, overpriced coffee drinks.

Oh wait – looks like I can’t jump on the #BoycottStarbucks bandwagon. It’s already full. A bunch of Christians have recently joined forces with the Anti-Political Correctness Club to raise their voices in outcry against Starbucks. Because of unfair labor practices? Because some company executive verbally insulted the Christian faith? Because of some blatant unethical behavior?

No. The #BoycottStarbucks / #WarOnChristmas Christians are outraged, because Starbucks chose not to print any little white snowflakes on their signature red coffee cups this year.

Snowflakes.

Snowflakes.

I wish I were joking. I wish I could find some redeeming value in this religion-fueled coffee-cup protest, which apparently now has Donald Trump as an unofficial spokesperson. But I can’t. In fact, the whole controversy is so ridiculous, that I feel like starting a #BoycottStupidity hashtag on Twitter. I also have a sudden urge to go to Starbucks and buy a half-dozen Grande Double-shot Peppermint Mochas to hand out to my coworkers. But I won’t. Not because I am offended by the company’s decision not to put snowflakes or snowmen or even sun symbols on their red holiday cups. But because just outside my neighborhood Starbucks, there are people shivering in the cold, who have had nothing to eat today. And the money that I could spend to treat myself to a sweet, syrupy drink could instead help a struggling fellow human being.

Some things are more important than coffee cups.

Businesses never exist purely to promote and defend specific religious ideologies. They exist, first and foremost, to make money, and though some owners may have and express certain values, looking to businesses to enforce the cultural symbolism of your faith is a bad bet. (Emma Green, The Atlantic, 11/10/2015)

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People Watching (aka: What I Learned From Dr. Seuss)

Dr. SeussOne of the things I enjoy doing, whenever I venture out of my cave, is to observe people. Not in a creepy, staring kind of way, but discretely, to satisfy my writerly curiosity about people. While those around me think that I am engaged in reading a book on my iPad, I am occasionally taking sneak peeks, or catching snatches of their conversations. People are fascinating, and one can learn many things just by being still and observing. And what have I learned lately?

That Dr. Seuss was kind of a genius.

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I know. Most people probably don’t look at his legacy of cute, silly rhyming stories for children and think of the word genius. And in fact, perhaps I am overusing the term. However, it became apparent that Dr. Seuss, like myself, and like most fiction writers, was an avid people watcher. And that somehow, he managed to capture perfectly some of the most common archetypes and struggles of humanity through his humorous and whimsical rhymes. Perhaps the language he used lacked the sophisticated eloquence of Shakespeare, Frost, or Whitman, but he was, in my opinion, no less of a talented poet.

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Did you know that Dr. Seuss was once a political cartoonist?

When children listen to Dr. Seuss stories, they may be entertained by his clever rhymes and fantastic characters, like the silly but loveable Cat-in-the-Hat, or the persuasive Sam-I-Am and his strange green eggs and ham. However, if you were to take a closer look at the themes of his stories, you may find some strong political statements   and surprising universal truths revealed.

For example, in the famous book, The Lorax, Seuss uses a humorous children’s story as a barely-disguised political platform against corporate greed, consumerism, and destruction of the environment. In The Sneetches, one of my all-time favorite works of children’s literature, Seuss spoke out against racism, prejudice, and anti-semitism. The SneetchesThe Zax, a very short story about two very stubborn creatures who both refuse to budge, and so neither one goes anywhere. Sound a little like Republicans and Democrats, perhaps? And then there is the well-known Yertle the Turtle, another of my personal favorites. Hitler – oops, I mean Yertle is a turtle who lives in a small pond, but gets the idea that he is king of all he can see. He begins to climb upon the backs of the other turtles in the pond, despite their misery, in order to expand his rule. He takes his superiority complex a little too far, however, and down he falls, as all megalomaniacs eventually must.

“I’m Yertle the Turtle! Oh marvelous me! For I am ruler of all I can see!”