spotlight

Where Is Your American Pride?

Where Is Your American Pride?Is America great again yet? It's only been two months but is it safe to ask this question?  I've been reading a lot about the rise of Nationalism in Europe since November, it's no coincidence.  Many say it started with Brexit vote last Summer. The latest is an article from The New York Times, How a Sleepy German Suburb Explains Europe's Rising Far-Right Movements.  This resonated with me because it kind of reminded me of where I live now, not my town specifically but in the mid-Hudson Valley.  

Growing up in New York City and then moving to a suburb is quite a change and has broaden my perspective.  The Hudson Valley has a history of artsy, liberal-minded "River Towns" with lots of older hippies who want to protect the Hudson River, the environment, shutting down Indian Point, and are down to protest just about anything related to the environment.  I get it. But there's another history not talked about much that involves the KKK....but they're gone now, I think??  I had no idea until I moved to Dutchess County that there was a thing going on in Putnam County up until the 80s with the KKK, whoa.

So, come 2016 and I was surprised at how many Trump bumper stickers and lawn signs I would see.  Where the hell am I?? I had a discussion with a friend who moved out of NYC a few years ago and is now living some place that is less liberal-minded, not a total shift, but it gives you perspective, a broader perspective.  When people think of "New York", they think of this: 

New York City Skyline

This is just a very, very small (although heavily populated) snippet of New York state. New York has 62 counties, NYC is only 5 of them.  New York is also suburbs, picturesque small towns, mountains, rural farmlands, blue-collar towns, college towns, and straight up "Country."   It is so easy to live in a big city and think that since you are exposed to so much diversity, this is something that the rest of the country will welcome and is okay with.  Nope.  There is so much to New York that is not "Blue."  Our State Senate isn't even Blue, it may be on paper, but there is a thing called the Independent Democratic Conference kind of throwing a monkey wrench in things.  There are a few New Yorkers who want to set this country back 50 years and they're not even old enough to remember how it was the first time!

To bring this back around, I started writing this with the idea of Nationalism in this country. 45 was really pushing that message that we need to make America a country to be proud of again.  This is happening in other countries but it's being depicted as a bad thing. It's being seen as anti-Muslim, anti-foreigners.  Are Europeans talking about the rise of Nationalism in the United States and saying the same?   You are less likely to see USA pride in NYC.  You'll see Puerto Rican pride, Italian pride, Irish pride, Ethiopian pride, you get my drift.  You'll see more American flags displayed outside of houses the more outside the city you go.  

This country is not perfect, it's got a lot of messed up history it may not want to acknowledge and it still has problems with racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and a bunch of isms and phobias. This country also has a serious problem keeping religion and state separate (someone forgot to tell them about that.) I would still rather live here than anywhere else.  I can write this blog, criticize the President, and not have to worry about someone knocking on my door (yet..maybe.). I can go out by myself where other countries require a man to be with you, I can drive a car by myself, I can wear whatever I want.  I'm fortunate to live here but I'm still aware enough to know that there are others, who live in the same country, that may not feel as comfortable, and that sucks. I'm not proud of that.  The last administration tried very hard to get us all past that and I'd hate to see all of that get erased.  I don't have a problem with national pride as long as it includes everyone who chooses to live there, even if they came from somewhere else. 

Follow me on Twitter @inkandcoffeegal

Know Your History, Don't be a Tree Without Roots

Roots

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.
Marcus Garvey

I came across this quote and it stuck with me. There is so much concern of history repeating itself with this current administration.  While there is more information available for everyone, there seems to be less education.  All this nonsense about "fake news" and "alternative facts."  Can history be made up? No, it happened, look it up!  Deny history as much as you want, it will bite you in the ass sooner or later.  The Holocaust happened!  Protesting can change things! Slaves were not immigrants who came here by choice!  

There's so much spinning, it's hard not to get dizzy.  I've been revisiting U.S and Global History.   I grew up in the New York public school system in the 80s and early 90s and honestly, I didn't learn much about our history (cue What a Wonderful World).  It was very safe - Lincoln freed the slaves, the US freed the Jews from Germany and got us out of the Depression, Blacks had to drink from different water fountains in the South until Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came along, uh...there was a war Vietnam. It's embarrassing now that I look back.  I don't entirely blame my schools, I'm pretty sure I spaced out a lot during history. I remember taking a history class in high school which was all about Europe from like the 1500-1600s, I don't remember shit.

Now I love history, I want to absorb as much as possible - mostly in the form of documentaries.  I love what people like Ken Burns and Tom Hanks are doing to keep history alive and interesting in this world of super short attention spans (guilty). Oliver Stone has a great documentary series on Netflix, The Untold History of the United States, worth checking out.  I can understand why World War II isn't covered much because it was pretty fucking huge.  Vietnam War was a cluster fuck which made the U.S. look really, really bad so let's just gloss over that. I wish they talked more about WWII and Vietnam because I knew (from movies, of course) just how bad and ugly it was and felt it was important to learn more about.   I'm curious about what schools are teaching now about 9/11 and the never ending war in Afghanistan.  

I hope schools are more open and honest about how U.S. History is taught. It's not all great and moral and the bad stuff didn't only happen centuries ago. I know there are concerns about parents getting butt hurt worried about brainwashing their kids. Whatever. Maybe I'll save that for another time.  Is that what college is for?

J_belushi_college

Follow me on Twitter @inkandcoffeegal

Isn't Everyday International Women's Day?

IWD

Yesterday was International Women's Day, did you do anything?  I must admit I didn't do much, except work - yes I worked.  Honestly, it was not a date I had engraved in my mind as a plan of action, it never was.  I shared some tweets, that's about it.  It's not that I don't care, of course I do!  There are just SO many calls to action now, my head is spinning.  It's kind of like "Earth Day", I don't need a day to remind me that the planet is changing and we all need to do our part to take care of it, it's a part of who I am.  

I do want to acknowledge those of you who did take a stand, marched, wore red, and made a statement. It's great to see the momentum of the Women's March still going strong.  It's important to keep pushing for equality for women and non-binary people in the workforce, education, and right to life.   I guess my problem is wishing we didn't need annual dates as a reminder to be better people, you know?   But I get it, some people are hard to educate or they'll say something stupid like "When is International Men's Day?"  Ignorant people can try to blow it off as fluff, but they can't ignore the issue forever.

So the answer to my question in this blog post is - no, not every day is International Women's Day. We need dates like International Women's Day as a reminder, a history lesson in progress and a measuring stick of how far we still need to go.

More Reading

Follow me on Twitter @inkandcoffeegal

Small Business: Do you get Political on Social Media?

Sm_bus_pol

When I had my jewelry business, I avoided talking about religion and politics online.  I did not want to have separate accounts for such issues so I left it alone.  Now I'm free to write and say what I want - I kinda love it.  It got me thinking, with this change in political climate, what should a business person do who strongly opposes what is going on in our government and their online presence?  I'm not talking about big businesses like Nordstrom or LL Bean.  I mean small business, mom & pop shops, etc. who can't turn a blind eye - especially if legislation changes may impact their business (ie: who they hire, where they get their materials, obtaining a loan). 

You don't want to scare customers away or turn off new ones because they don't agree with you.  When I had Pulp Sushi, I would not have written An Open Apology or You're Not A Feminist? on that blog.  As a business/brand, you have to think twice before shooting off online.  Ask yourself what you think could happen when you post something?  Let's say you sell knitted kids hats, your customer base is mostly moms.  Are you going to share a link to an article is against increasing paid maternity leave because you believe that maternity leave is generous enough as it is?  What if you share a anti-Hillary Clinton meme?  Do these things reflect what your business is about? Is there a chance that there may be a backlash? I said I wasn't going to talk about big business, but it's okay for Anheuser-Busch to make a political statement about immigration during the Super Bowl.  They have been around since 1852 and made the commitment to use their products to promote a better world.  For the most part, they keep the politics off their Twitter and Facebook.  

Let's flip this around. You're a handmade soap seller who locally sources their ingredients and rely on local farmers who employs immigrants, you announce in your shop that a percentage of all sales goes toward the ACLU and Sierra Club, you market your soap as a way to "Wash off 2016 election FILTH!!" (go ahead soapers, you can use that). How about you make cards that say "Orange you glad I didn't grab your pussy?" It is CLEAR that you promote your activism through your products and you are catering to specific group of people, more power to you, your social media can be a part of that branding for your business easy-peasy.  

Perhaps you're ready to make that change and you want to bring more social awareness in to your business. You can introduce issues into your business slowly, maybe donations for sales of one specific item goes towards a cause, and as you promote that item, you can share additional information on social media about the charity or the general cause.  Raise awareness without coming across as preachy. People don't like to be preached too. Just look at the backlash celebrities get when they get political.   While the "experts" say you may be killing your business, I think there is a way this can be done smart and tactfully. You may lose some followers, but you can gain so many more once you provide more meaning to your business.

More Reading

Follow me on Twitter @inkandcoffeegal

Where Do You Get Your News?

Fake news. Alternative facts. Our President is belittling reporters during press conferences.  The press is the enemy!! Now that Trump doesn't have to fight against Clinton to win an election, he needs to go after SOMETHING, why not the Press? 

News_Coffee

I know President Trump is not the first President to go after the media.  The media that he needs SO badly to stroke his ego. 

My favorite place to work was Newsweek Magazine. I worked there from 2002 to 2008. I was not in Editorial, I worked in Human Resources, but it was a great environment to work in.  Frustrating at times, but now I look back at that job more fondly than any other job.  I used to also work at DK & Penguin Publishing. My first real job was at a Legal Publisher, it sounds boring but it was still a publisher. The point is, I love publishing whether it's on paper or viewing on a tablet - literature, essays, commentaries, news coverage, are all necessary. I hate seeing what is happening with the media right now. I know it's not perfect, and there are biases on both sides, but they are not the enemy and not what is wrong with this country.  I try to use sound judgement before I share a link on Facebook or Twitter.  I see some pretty far-fetched stuff being shared that I don't even click on.

All politicians lie.  He's not a politician. He is the outsider. He is suppose to shake up the system. He's shaking things up alright, and leaving a big mess with no plan of clean up.

Where do I go for news? 

I read the "failing" New York Times (whose digital subscriptions have increased since the election) Politico, BBC News, and I just started reading The Intercept. I have a subscription to The New Yorker but not renewing (I'm just not too into it). I watch MSNBC for breaking news (even though I can't stand Rachel Maddow and Brian Williams), and BBC or Euro News for an outsider point of view.  I don't like CNN. I was turned off by CNN after the Sandy Hook school shooting and CNN was the first to name the gunman, using the wrong name - because the shooter had his brother's ID on him.  Instead of fact-checking, they jumped the gun. CNN has shown a few times that they care more about being first than being accurate, so screw 'em.  I do enjoy their documentaries though, I'll just leave it at that.  I have tried to watch Fox News but they are just as bad at fellating the current President as the other networks were with the President Obama. 

As a Blogger, I love the written word. I love reading it and I love writing it.  There is a lot of garbage online and on TV.  I respect freedom of press, even if it's crap.  But what do we do when people just won't accept facts and believe falsehoods? How do you get through someone who does not accept that the Earth is getting warmer? Who think it's okay to quote Trump's false crime rate statistics or having the most Electoral College votes?  If they are willing to believe trivial lies, what about when he lies about something YUGE - because it's coming.  

Where do you like to get your news from? 

Follow me on Twitter @inkandcoffeegal

Don't Worry, Your 40s Will Be Awesome!

Don't worry, your 40s will be awesome

I remember when turning 40 seemed way off.  When my mom turned 40, it was the first time I thought "Oh no, my mom is getting old!" Mind you, she's still alive and kicking 34 years later. 

I have friends in their 30s and are like "Aaaaaah!!! I'll be 40 soon!" I even had a friend who did not want to tell me their age at first, only to find out I'm older than them!  What is it about 40 that freaks people out so much anyway? I will be 42 later this year so I've had some time to let this settle and I'm here to tell you, it's okay, it's actually pretty cool!  

I didn't freak out too much when I turned 40 and I'm totally cool sharing my age. Maybe it helps that I started to go gray in High School?  The only thing I really reflected on was how I let my 30s pass me by. I wrote about that in my old blog.  I just worked too damn much and didn't enjoy myself as much as I should have, it was all just work, work, work. When I turned 40, it was a good time to change my thinking and do things I want and enjoy the little things that make me happy. I don't want to think about how much time I have left. I'm pretty sure I suffer from Thanatophobia so to quote Return of the Living Dead, "I try not to think about dying too much."

ROTLD

When you're younger, you swear that you'll never become lame like older folks. You are gonna party, stay out late, and always be super cool.  I was never gonna be uncool.  What did The Who sing? Hope I die before I get old.   How did that work out for them?

I stopped being cool before I even got to 40. =/

Things started to turn when the Warped Tour would come around and I had no idea who these bands were. Then all these newer bands started to suck.  There is so much bad music out there now! It was so much better when I was younger, I'll just stick to listening to MY bands.  Holy crap, it happened! I got "old." 

  • I traded hanging out at a bar to being at a coffee shop.  
  • I've turned into a morning person - I never thought that would happen!  
  • I don't need to go out Friday or Saturday night - I'm content staying in and watching a movie and have a nice meal.
  • I'm listening to "older" music (depending on what's old to you). I don't know much "new" music.
  • There are a shit ton of apps and internet acronyms I know nothing about.
  • I listen to my music now at a respectable volume because I can't handle loud volume, I like loud music, just not played loud lol!
  • I can't eat what I want, when I want and not expect to feel like garbage the next day.  You can slow down your body aging but you can't deny that the older you get, the less reckless you should be with your body.

Despite what I said earlier, I'm not old.  Some days I feel old physically, especially when I first wake up, ugh. Here's what's cool though...  

Being in your 40s now is not the same as it was forty years ago.  You can still be silly, go to concerts, play video games, read comic books, wear ironic t-shirts, get tattoos and piercings, color your hair crazy colors, and have quirky interests.  Most of my friends are quirky and unique and I love them for that.  We're all smarter now to make better decisions on how to have fun, enjoy that fun, and remember how much fun we had the following morning.  You may even finding yourself appreciating the smaller things more than you have before - like treating yourself to flowers, drinking coffee and reading the newspaper Sunday morning, or listening to some records over dinner <---this has becoming a thing in my home. :)

Since you're in your 40s, you can also say FUCK ALL to anyone who tries to make fun of you because by now, you should feel comfortable enough with yourself to not have to worry about peer pressure. Let's face it, peer pressure continues way after high school.  It becomes easier to cut people out of your life who just suck energy out of you.  You don't need to impress anyone anymore.  Sure, 40 is a big number and you can view it as a turning point, but it doesn't have to be the start of the second-half of your life. 

More Reading

Follow me on Twitter @inkandcoffeegal

An Open Apology

This is in response to reading The Washington Post article Trump backers like his early moves: 'Its what executives are suppose to be' 

Sorry

I'm sorry I was born into a Puerto Rican family in the South Bronx of New York City and there weren't any white people in my neighborhood growing up.

I'm sorry that I went to school with mostly blacks & hispanics and the first white friend I made was in High School. 

I'm sorry you grew up in a small town of only white people and never got to meet a person like me.

I'm sorry if you think my boyfriend should be with someone else because I'm not white.

I'm sorry I live in a Blue State and seeing people from different countries, different colors, different cultures is normal and not something I give a second thought to. 

I'm sorry I don't know what it's like to live in a town like Accident, MD where life is nice and everyone looks and feels the same about almost everything.

I'm sorry if you think I don't care about bringing jobs to the U.S. and keeping terrorist out.  I do care about these things, but they're not the ONLY things I care about.  What else do you care about besides America becoming less white??

I'm sorry that people like you, in your safe, small, quiet bubble town are sooooooooo threatened by Muslims yet you find it offensive that black people think police officers want to kill them. You've probably never seen a Muslim person in your life and never will.

I'm sorry you want to #BoycottStarbucks, you might as well boycott gas stations and convenience stores too, oh wait, that might just be a city thing.

I'm sorry you think the Homeless are being overlooked by Refugees.  Why can't we take care of both? When was the last time YOU gave a Homeless person money? Sit your ass down.

I'm sorry if you think that I THINK you're dumb. I don't think you're dumb, I think living in your little throwback town, as nice as it may be, has shielded you and made you ignorant.  I would LOVE to be blinded by ignorance but it's too late for me. 

Follow me on Twitter @inkandcoffeegal

Let's Talk About Snowflakes

Snow2

Snowflake.

That word is being used a lot lately.  Not because it's Winter and there's snow.  It is what Trump supporters call people who disagree with him, grouping them in with Liberals. "Snowflakes" are defined as an overly sensitive person, incapable of dealing with any opinions that differ from their own. These people can often be seen congregating in "safe zones" on college campuses.  

That's cute.  

"An overly sensitive person, incapable of dealing with any opinions that differ from their own."  I don't know about you, but this sounds like Donald Trump to me.  He can't be told "no", he has to bitch about SNL every time they make of him, if you disagree with him, you will face his Twitter wrath!  The leader of the free world is the biggest fucking Snowflake there is right? By definition, yes, but honestly he's just an immature, spoiled brat, man-child.

How is being angry at the establishment turn into you an overly sensitive person?  Does this mean members of The Tea Party were Snowflakes too? Seriously, someone please explain that to me.  

It's empowering to find out that you're not alone, that there are millions who support you and share your views.  We're thinkers, we're rationalizers, we look beyond our own needs, and see the bigger picture, the world beyond our problems (if I can quote "The Ref"). 

George Takei shared the following tweet a couple of weeks ago: 

Another thing about Snowflakes, they don't go away so quickly. Some snow can stick around for a long time, it can get dirty, get slushy, but it's still there.  Honestly, it's a stupid name and it's too bad that these folks couldn't come up with a better name to call half the country.

Follow me on Twitter @inkandcoffeegal

Change Of Heart and Thoughts on the Women's March

If you actually read this whole thing, THANK YOU!!  I wanted to lay out this transition I have been going through in the last year, it's been awkward and I feel like a hypocrite sometimes.  I'm still trying to finding my place in what I can do.

Heartmarch
At this time, eight years ago, I was not a happy camper.  I thought this country was going to go down the toilet. All the Liberal Hipsters got their way, wouldn't shut up about it, and I wanted to hibernate until it was all over.  People placed the Obamas on a pedestal before doing anything and I was just rolling my eyes the whole time.  I was a big skeptic.   Society became TOO Politically Correct and it bugged me, I blamed Obama. I blamed Obama for a lot of things I didn't like about society, even as I write this, I think I partially blame him for Trump becoming President (there's a bunch of factors there, not just him). 

Anyway, throughout those years I talked my shit, criticized President Obama, and felt like not enough "Change" was happening. Sometimes I came across as a real dick.  In 2012, I was not going to vote for him, I was going to vote for Mitt Romney, even though he was a Mormon and I was concerned about him pushing his Conservative views, he was the Governor of Massachusetts, how bad could he be? I did not feel threatened or disgusted by him.  I changed my mind in the voting booth.  I don't know why I did, maybe I felt like voting for Romney was a waste, that the country wasn't in the position for a shift? I honestly don't know.  Meanwhile, throughout all of this, I remained Pro-Choice and supported Equal Rights. I continue to have both liberal social views and conservative fiscal/foreign views.  This is why I am a registered Independent because I have a hard time following either party to the T.

Once his second term began, Republicans started prepping for 2016 and there were 34,694,842 people running for the Republican ticket, Trump was the joke of the bunch - which isn't easy to pull off because there were a few.  Hillary Clinton was picking up momentum and once again I was thinking "UGGGGGHHHH! Am I even gonna bother voting next time??"  Mitt Romney and John McCain were both weak candidates.  I was hoping for a better Republican candidate because there was no fucking way I was going to vote for Hillary Clinton! bleech! 

Fast forward to the home stretch and it's coming down to Trump & Clinton, this is really happening. Trump doesn't stand a chance, right? I mean the Obamalovers will come out in full force, and then Bernie Sanders happened and threw a monkey wrench in the whole machine (I also blame him but I give him credit for trying to be different).  Early on, I actually agreed with Trump on issues about better border control and the economy and then he started talking about a "wall" and registering Muslims and my gut started to tighten, this ain't right.  And his insults! The childishness!  I watch Clinton take it all and remain professional, I respected that.  I know politics gets ugly and smear campaigns are a regular thing, but Trumps behavior was not what I look for in a President but almost half the country didn't care and elected him anyway.  I sure didn't, I voted for Clinton. Donald Trump made me fucking vote for Hillary Clinton!

The sense of dread I felt Election night was just too overwhelming, I hated it. I never felt this way over a new President before, not for Obama, not even for George W. Bush!  My heart was changing. I'm older, I see things differently.   Are my rights threatened? Personally?  I don't think so but I can see how they are for others, and that's not cool. 

I did not attend any of the Women's Marches that happened on January 21st but I followed closely the news coverage on TV and online, mostly through Facebook Live.  I was so happy to see so many of my friends filling my feed who did march in various places, or from others who also could not attend but still shared their support.  Overall, I am lucky to know such great people. While I bitch about how annoying Facebook can get, my feed was full of a lot positivity over the weekend and I felt hopeful.   That march was HUGE! Or as Trump says, "YUGE!"  I felt it was a little unfair that Pro-Life Feminists were not allowed to march (yes I really said that).  This march should have been as inclusive as possible.  But the images don't lie Press Secretary Spicer, the people came out!  Maybe even more people came out after hearing that horrible Inauguration speech? 

Just because you didn't march does not mean you care less. There is still much that can be done.  One step is to check out 10 Actions for the first 100 Days, which is a new campaign hosted by Women's March. It includes prompts of what you can do now that the work begins now in your communities.

More Reading

 

Follow me on Twitter @inkandcoffeegal

Shut up Facebook, everything is fine!

Fucking Facebook!! I hate to start a blog post with the "F" word but you know how maddening Facebook can get, especially when politics are involved. I've had to block and mute people because they don't know how to debate and discuss issues like an adult.  You don't have to agree with me, just be respectful, and maybe grow up while you're at it.  I'm not a complete Facebook hater. I'll be writing another post painting Facebook in a positive light soon. I just need to get this off my chest.

Fb

A friend posted an update about something they saw on TV regarding the incoming administration that upset her. A comment was left to just not watch tv, change the channel.  This set me off.  Does saying something like this really fix anything? Comments like this are not helpful or useful, it's just more internet junk.  Ignorance comes in many shapes and forms. I know people who have narrow minded views when it comes to social issues, religion, and politics.  People who would just change channel, cover their ears and go "Lalalalalalalalalala!"

I am trying really, really hard to not avoid these people, because avoidance and burying your head in the sand solves nothing.  I'm not going to change the channel, live in a religious bubble, and avoid politicians I don't like no matter how hard they are to look at, seriously, looking at Donald Trump makes my skin hurt.  I also want to understand why people, especially why women voted for Trump. It would be easy to just call them all racist, misogynist, and ignorant but there's more to it. 

It's almost a knee-jerk reaction to just cut someone off when they tell you to just change the channel, or (my favorite) say your views are wrong because "the church says..." or "the bible says...." GTFO with that, that is not a valid argument for me. I've been getting this argument on Facebook more when it comes to issues with LGBT.   I'll talk about where I stand with religion in another post because it's just too much. 

I can't just say that Trump is going to be a horrible president because I think he literally looks like a bleached out ass hole.  I can say he's inexperienced in politics, point out his flip-flopping, his bullshit and pandering about how things are going to be "really, really great" and it's all "very, very complicated stuff", he's a walking contradiction - you don't know which Trump you're gonna get,  his hot-headedness, he's made many global leaders uncomfortable (especially our allies), he never apologizes for what he says no matter how inappropriate, his unbelievable ability to deflect serious issues......I can go on.  

Don't shy away from those with opposing views but you also do not have to deal with abuse from trolls.  Facebook is FULL of trolls. I was watching live coverage of the march on Facebook and there were trolls leaving comments about women going back to the kitchen, the snowflakes need to shut up, and a bunch of other nonsense which, again, is just more internet junk contributing to nothing.  What I'm saying is, don't change the channel, stay informed and let others know.  If there is an issue you feel strongly about, it is just as important to understand the opposing view which will validate your argument even more.   

Follow me on Twitter @inkandcoffeegal