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Movies You’ll Want To See: 20th Century Women

January 4, 2017
Movies You'll Want To See: 20th Century Women

File this under Movies You’ll Want To See: 20th Century Women. As a Minnesota blogger and influencer (yeah, I cringed just a little when I typed that last word) I get advance screening tickets to some pretty great movies including Moana, that last Star Wars movie and now 20th Century Women.

I’ll be honest, I hadn’t heard of this movie before I got the invite and I was hesitant pass on the info because the title doesn’t really do much for me. It doesn’t give me enough info about the movie which makes me suspect it’s trying to hide something.

That’s silly on my part because it has Annette Bening in it. 20th Century Women also has Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Lucas Jade Zumann and Billy Crudup in it. Also, it takes place in 1979 which is when my story, Minnesota Nice, begins. 

As a single mom to a son, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to relate to this story. The few minutes I saw of the trailer made it clear this is one of those movies that gets under your skin and stays with you for a while. I’m looking forward to seeing it next week.

If you’re in the Twin Cities and would like to attend an advance screening of 20TH CENTURY WOMEN  starring Annette Benning, Greta Gerwig & Elle Fanning  on Thursday, January 12 at 7pm at Landmark Lagoon, then download a FREE pair of passes by clicking on the link below (while supplies last). Please be advised that this screening is overbooked to ensure a full house. Seating is first come, first served, so arrive early to guarantee a seat!

Link to download passes: http://www.gofobo.com/qbVrn81486

People Send Jen on a Vacation Things that piss me off WTF?

Douchebaggery is Hard to Cure

January 2, 2017
Douchebaggery is hard to cure

Hat tip to my friend Leigh for texting this reminder – douchebaggery is hard to cure – after a meeting with a douchebag. She asked me if I really expected things to turn out any differently than they did and then followed up with the aforementioned truism.

Douchebaggery is hard to cure, indeed

In fact, I have yet to meet a douchebag who has been cured. Mostly, I suspect, because douchebags don’t want to be cured. Douchebags don’t go home and start chatting with their friends to see if maybe they were wrong. They don’t ask their friends if they were out of line. They don’t bother with self reflection because everything is about them and therefore it must be right because that is what they feel. In fact, they are the only ones worthy of feelings. 

According to the Urban Dictionary a Douchebag a:

An individual who has an over-inflated sense of self worth, compounded by a low level of intellegence, behaving ridiculously in front of colleagues with no sense of how moronic he appears. 

or 

Though the common douchebag thinks he is accepted by the people around him, most of his peers dislike him. He has an inflated sense of self-worth, compounded by a lack of social grace and self-awareness. He behaves inappropriately in public, yet is completely ignorant to how pathetic he appears to others.

Apparently, I am a douchebag magnet. 

*sigh*

It’s only the second day of the new year and already I’m ready to give up because of this one 40 minute meeting. I’ll get over it, I always do. I’ll grin and bear it as we head back to court to try to resolve something that is unresolvable because douchebaggery is hard to cure. 

There are many lessons to be had, here. Unfortunately, cannot go back in time and fix this. I am proud to say that by isolating myself so well in the past several years I have managed to avoid hooking up with, becoming friends with or otherwise trusting another douchebag, but I’m still stuck with the ones I trusted before I learned this valuable lesson. 

Here’s the thing, douchebags do not wake up one morning as said douchebags. They are raised that way, from birth. The signs are there – big old red flags – but most of us ignore them because well, not being a douchebag it’s difficult to imagine anyone being such an asshole.

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Redhead Ranting 2016 Roundup

December 31, 2016
Redhead Ranting 2016 Roundup

For your reading pleasure I’ve put together my sometimes annual Redhead Ranting 2016 Roundup. Every other media outlet does a roundup so I thought, what the heck, I’ll do one too!

I’m actually surprised I wrote enough this year for a roundup. In fact, I actually wrote and published 60 posts this year, which is my third time high since I started blogging in 2007. It’s twice as much as I wrote last year.

There were basically 4 categories this year, the election, my mother, recipes, and Prince, and an outlier about Dini the cat. It’s a long post, and most didn’t bother to read it, but it’s one that harkens back to my early days of blogging, when I just told a story and enjoyed the journey.

No One Ever Said There Would Be This Much Cat Vomit

Blog Posts about the Election

I really didn’t think he’d win, and I might watch too much Walking Dead.

How to Survive the Trumpacolypse

How to Prepare for the Post Election Apocalypse

OMG Stop Unfriending Each Other!

Blog Posts about my Relationship with My Mother

My relationship with my mother is difficult at best, but it isn’t unique. I also posted a story from my book, Minnesota Nice. 

Life Isn’t Fair

I Made my Mother Cry… Again

Do You Know your ACE Score?

Recipes

I cook a lot this year, mostly because I got an Instant Pot – the most awesome thing ever!

Shrimp Alfredo in 7 Minutes

Cheesy Smoked Sausage Hot Dish Instant Pot Recipe

Authentic Minnesota Tater Tot Hot Dish Recipe – Seriously, if you try a new dish in 2017, make it the MN Tater Tot Hotdish, you won’t be sorry. 

Best and Worst in Books and Movies and Blogs

I saw and reviewed several movies this year, they aren’t worth sharing here except for one exceptionally horrible movie I really hoped would be awesome. It wasn’t.

Independence Day Resurgence Review

Life Changing Books

Bloggers who Blog

Prince and Jacob

2016 was a year of loss, but these two are still difficult for me to reckon with. 

Summer in Minnesota 2016: We Lost Prince and Found Jacob

On the Passing of Prince, from a Minnesotan

Minnesota Nice People Things that piss me off WTF?

Life isn’t Fair

December 2, 2016
life isn't fair

My mother had been telling me that life isn’t fair since as far back as I could remember. She’d married a gay man and had a debilitating stroke before she reached the age of 30, so I figured she knew what she was talking about. It didn’t really hit home for me until I was in middle school.

The Back Story

When I was 10 or 11, I was on the University Club swimming team. Today the University Club is a private club for the well-to-do of St. Paul. 100 years ago it was a private club for the well-to-do, including F. Scott Fitzgerald who got his drink on there most days and nights. In the 70s it was still a private club and it was still a haven for the well-to-do of the town, but the swimming team was the worst in the league. The club was run down and not nearly as nice as some of the other clubs in the area.

I was not athletic by any stretch of the imagination. I was “chunky” as my brother liked to point out at every occasion. I played softball in the triangle park, and kick-the-can and ditch and all those other neighborhood games that kids play, but I wasn’t very good. I did not volunteer for the team. My parents signed me up for the team because it kept my brother and me somewhat occupied during the summer.

Growing up around 10k plus lakes I knew how to swim. I was a strong swimmer – I could, and still can, swim two lengths of the pool under water without taking a breath – but races aren’t swum underwater. The only practical use for that skill, that I have ever seen, was in the 1972 movie The Poseidon Adventure when Shelly Winters (someone who would also be labeled chunky) swam a great distance underwater to get the guide rope to the other side of the chasm. **** Spoiler – she died after succeeding****

I’m a Loser Baby

I was probably the worst swimmer on the team. I came in dead last every time I raced. I wasn’t proud of it, but I was accustomed to it. There were only two other girls in my age division. The other two were very fast swimmers, probably some of the best in the league. Betsy, not her real name, always came in first place. It wasn’t even a question, we all knew she would win.

The sky was blue, water was wet and Betsy always took first place.

Betsy was popular, attractive, graceful, confident, athletic and not the least bit chunky. Betsy was also kind of a bitch, to me at least. Although I was not allowed to use that word back then. She had a posse, I did not.

I was none of those things. I was someone who lost every race and who had come to terms with the word “chunky”, it was certainly better than the other nick name my brother called me – Post Toasties – said with such contempt it must be horrible though to this day I still have no idea why I was nicked named for a cereal. I was sure it was a way to call me fat without alerting my parents to such a thing, but I really don’t know.

Anything is Possible

Anyway, one summer afternoon we had a meet, I was called to take my place for the race and headed over to the edge of the pool, ready to accept defeat like always. My brother stopped me when I passed by him on the way to the end of the pool.

“You swim with your fingers wide apart. That’s why you’re so slow,” he said. “See how my fingers are pressed tightly together when I push the water away? When you keep your fingers closed it’s like having a paddle; you’ll swim faster.”

He pantomimed the stroke for me while emphasizing his closed fingers.

“Give it a try” he said encouragingly.

Talk about pressure. My brother was fast, he was clever, he was smart, he was a really good swimmer and I was sure he was embarrassed by having me as a sister, especially at the pool where we had to wear Speedos. I didn’t think this simple little tip was going to change anything, but I was thrilled he was actually trying to help me. I wasn’t too concerned about other people, but I really cared what he thought of me, I wanted him to be proud of me and so far that hadn’t happened. I was just the stupid little sister who tagged around getting in his way and making life difficult for him.

I got on my mark and when the whistle blew I dove in and kept my fingers togethers. I swam as hard as I could and went into my kick turn at the same time as everyone else. I pushed off the wall and just kept going.

I repeated this mantra to myself as I swam – Keep your fingers closed, keep your fingers closed, keep your fingers closed. 

Holy Shit!

I slapped the edge of the pool and to my surprise, and everyone else’s, I won.

I didn’t come in third place, I didn’t come in second. I came in first place. It was close, very close, but I actually beat three other swimmers. I actually beat Betsy.

I climbed out of the pool grasping my first place ribbon. I fondled that blue ribbon. It was the best think I had ever felt in my entire life. It was great. I was sure I was smiling that goofy smile that you couldn’t wipe off your face no matter how hard you tried. My brother even came up to me and congratulated me.

He didn’t say much, just a quick “good job” as he punched me on the shoulder.

Which was fine because I don’t think either of us thought I would actually win. I don’t think his goal in teaching me how to hold my hands was for me to win, it was just not to lose as badly as I usually did.

Life isn’t Fair

And then the click of the PA system sounded.

“Attention, please. The first-place winner of the girls’ 50-meter breaststroke is actually Betsy. Betsy took first place; Jenny took second place. Jenny would you please come to the judges’ table to exchange your ribbon? Thank you.”

I wasn’t even surprised.

Besty was at the judges’ table when I got there. She was making a big scene about how she always won and there was no way she could lose to someone like me. They must have called the race wrong because there is just no way she could possibly lose to fat girl who had lost every single race up until this point.

Obviously the judge agreed because he took my first place ribbon and gave it to Betsy. I stood there and waited for him to give me the second place ribbon — because let’s face it, there is no way someone like me could have possibly won against someone like her.

*This is an excerpt of my yet-to-be-published memoir, Minnesota Nice, if you liked this story please like my book on Facebook.

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OMG Stop Unfriending Each Other!!

October 12, 2016
Stop Unfriending Each Other!!

For the love of Pete, stop unfriending each other!! Every five minutes someone is challenging their Facebook friends and followers to unfriend them if they hold a different opinion about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

If you support that lying, misogynistic, groping dumbass – well just unfriend me now“, or “If you think she actually supports women then you can just unfriend me right now, in fact, I’ll do it for you“, or “if you’re planning on voting for this douchebag, I want you to unfriend me” and on and on.

picard

Additionally, people keep posting how so much more qualified Hillary Clinton is compared to Donald Trump, as if that is even a consideration.

Let’s Break it Down

Let me first say — I don’t like either of them and I’m not supporting or defending either’s behavior — but here’s the thing:

It’s not about their qualifications or their experience.

You can argue it should be, and you would still be wrong.

It’s about their agenda and what path they want to lead this country on.

People aren’t supporting Donald Trump because they also want to grope women without permission, they are not supporting Trump because they are racists (though it is certain that some racists support Trump, just as some of them support Hillary Clinton), people support Trump because they don’t like the direction they think Hillary will take this country.

Conversely, Hillary’s supporters are not women haters and they are not necessarily liars (though, again, there are probably many people who support Hillary who lie), it isn’t that they are liars that make them want to support her. They support her because they like the campaign promises she is making and foolishly believe she might be able to keep them.

 

via SIZZLE

They’re Both Deplorable!

This is an interesting campaign because usually the candidate’s qualifications are pretty equal. At least they both, usually, have some experience in public office. Here that is not the case. Here we have a candidate who is probably more qualified than any candidate in history running against someone who has absolutely no political experience.

This is why many people can’t understand why anyone with a brain might vote for someone like Trump (among a whole bunch of other issues). It’s not even that they don’t like Hillary (even though so many people have some really intense negative feelings about her), it’s that they don’t like the policies she plans on putting forward.

It is precisely because they have different agendas (and different parties) that they can both be deplorable and people will still vote for them. Their actions don’t matter. It’s disgusting, but it’s the truth.

Here’s an excellent article about why people will vote for Trump.

Stop Unfriending Each Other!!

Telling someone to unfriend you because you don’t agree with them on one subject is incredibly arrogant. Do you really think you have that much clout that you can wave your Facebook friendship in front of them and believe it will motivate them to change their deeply held beliefs? Are you that self absorbed? Are we still in middle school?

God, it’s like Facebook has turned into Mean Girls. Do this or you are out of the club!

Unfriending someone because they don’t like Hillary or because they plan on voting for Trump is a waste of time, though it will cull your friends to a more homogenous list. And I suppose that’s always more fun – to have friends who think the exact same way that you do.

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Traveling with Dad – London

September 20, 2016

Next week will be ten years since my father unexpectedly passed away. No one really saw it coming and when it happened it happened quickly. I miss my father very much. More than anything I miss traveling with dad.

But, we had issues. I’ve written about him many times over the years and it if you didn’t know him you might wonder how I could go back and forth between being angry with him and adoring him. I don’t know myself, I’m still working through a lot of it.

Day to day life with my father was difficult, especially when I was a child. As an adult it was much easier, although it still could be challenging. One area where it was easier was when we traveled together.

There was something about going through hell together that helped us bond. I have my father’s sense of humor, which is funny when you consider I didn’t think he had one until I was in my early 20s.

If you’ve read this blog before you know my mother had a stroke when she was 29 years old. It changed everything. She had severe brain damage and lost most of her short term memory and much of her mobility. That didn’t prevent my father from dragging my mother all over the globe.

My father loved traveling and he tried his best to show the world to my mother. They went on several cruises because those were easier, but he took my mother to Hawaii, Spain, London, and many other places I can’t remember. My mother suffered from anxiety in addition to her other ailments, but dad didn’t let her back out, even though she would have if given the opportunity. She looks back fondly on those travels now, in fact they are memories she hangs on to most of all.

Traveling with Dad – London

In 1988 we all flew to the UK for my brother’s wedding in Kent. After the wedding I traveled with my parents to London for a few days until they went home and I went on to Italy with a family friend. Neither of my parents admitted that my mother had any disabilities. My mother refused to be photographed in her wheelchair and my dad never made accommodations for someone who used one.

When we arrived at the hotel it became clear that the UK didn’t have the same laws concerning handicapped access as we did in the US. Dad had booked a room on the 5th floor of the hotel. It made him nervous to get rooms on the upper levels in hotels, but sometimes that’s simply all that was available. The hotel had two lifts but one was out due to water pipe issues and the other wasn’t big enough to fit the wheelchair.

No worries, the hotel manager said he would take of it and called a few of the bellhops to come and help. While the first one removed his belt and secured it around my mother and her chair, the other two grabbed on to the side of her chair and started to carry her up the stairs.

This was pretty standard treatment when we traveled, but especially in London. Everyone was always willing to do whatever it took to make sure we had access to anything and everything.

Mom was halfway up the first flight of stairs before she got wedged in the stairway. It was an old hotel and surely the building had settled over time. Not to worry, the helpful hotel managed instructed another man to remove one of the hand rails going up the stairs.

Mom was laughing, loving the attention, and not the least bit concerned that she was being carried precariously up five flights of stairs by three strangers speaking a language she didn’t understand.

Dad was just thrilled someone else was hauling her up the stairs for once.

At this point I’m standing in the corner laughing my ass off.

One lift is broken and no one an go up or down the stairs while mom is wedged in the stairway.

“How on earth are we going to do this every time we want to leave the hotel?” I asked.

My father, who was just as punchy as me, started laughing too. He came to his senses and asks the hotel manager to ask the men carrying my mother to bring her down. He was terribly sorry but this was just not going to work out.

I shouldn’t have said anything, we ended up staying in some castle that had only one room available. I ended up sleeping on a cot in the bathroom.

 

Advice People politics WTF?

Hillary Clinton is Not a Badass

September 12, 2016
EKG

Since it was divulged that Hillary Clinton has pneumonia, social media has lit up with memes about Hillary Clinton’s super human stamina. Hillary Clinton is not a badass, Hillary Clinton is just like every other woman on this planet who ignores her own health. And it’s a stupid thing to do.

This isn’t a political post, I don’t care for Hillary Clinton’s policies or much of her character, but this isn’t about Hillary the politician, this is about Hillary the woman, wife, mother, grandmother, friend and colleague.

Hillary Clinton is Not a Badass

I get that she is campaigning for the toughest job in the world, I also get that she is between a rock in a hard place when it comes to fessing up about her health. Donald Trump has been making an issue of her nagging cough for months and months. Prior to yesterday, I just thought it was more campaign rhetoric. She’s yelling each and every day, of course her voice is going to be horse and it’s not a stretch that she would have a cough. Flying around in a jet with its canned air isn’t doing her throat any favors either, I am sure.

I get it.

But she missed an opportunity here. Most women I know push past the pain so we can take care of the kids, the husband/wife, the parents, the job. Most women I know need a push to schedule that mammogram, appointment with the endocrinologist or the cardiologist. This past week my Facebook feed had too many to count stories of women who ended up in the ER with symptoms not unlike Hillary Clinton’s this past weekend. Overheating, dehydration, racing heartbeat (that’s the one that usually, finally gets our attention. And it should since heart disease is the leading cause of death for women), dizziness and confusion. Could be a heart attack, could be anxiety, could even be pneumonia. We won’t know unless we see a doctor. And we won’t get better if we don’t follow their advice.

Hillary was diagnosed with a pneumonia on Friday when her physician, Dr. Lisa R. Bardack, examined her. I assume an X-ray was performed.

“Secretary Clinton has been experiencing a cough related to allergies. On Friday, during follow-up evaluation of her prolonged cough, she was diagnosed with pneumonia. She was put on antibiotics, and advised to rest and modify her schedule. While at this morning’s event, she became overheated and dehydrated. I have just examined her and she is now rehydrated and recovering nicely,” Bardack said.

When diagnosed with pneumonia Hillary should have canceled her scheduled events for at the very least the next few days. Would social media have exploded because she didn’t attend the 9/11 memorial? Yes. But instead of pushing through the illness, like most of us do, she could have taken this opportunity to address this really bad practice among Americans. We take our health for granted and it shouldn’t take tripping into the Scooby Van to help us come to our senses.

Ignoring your health is not badass. Whether you are a mother who ignores her health because she feels as if no one else will step up in her stead or you are the President of the United States (or campaigning for that job). Being badass means you know when to say when and are thick skinned enough to let the insults roll off your back about it (something she has done rather well so far). Being badass means putting on your oxygen mask before putting it on those around you.

Minnesota People Things that piss me off

No Closure for the Wetterlings

September 6, 2016

While Jacob Wetterling’s remains have been found, there will be no closure for the Wetterlings. Over the weekend news sites and social media have been filled with articles about Jacob Wetterling. Jacob Wetterling’s remains were found this past weekend when the man who is suspected of abducting Jacob led authorities to his remains. I know better, but I looked at the comments. All of the comments were condolences to the family, many of them included the word “closure”. As in “now that he has been found, the family can have some closure”.

There will be no closure for the Wetterlings, or anyone else who suffers such a tragic and senseless act. Closure is a myth. The Wetterlings know what happened to their son, but I’m not sure that’s better than not knowing.

In the days to come we will learn how Jacob died, if he was sexually assaulted, if he was tortured, and how long he may have lived with the monster who abducted him. I spent all weekend thinking about Jacob. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know any of these details. Jacob has always been a happy boy wearing a bright yellow shirt and smiling for the camera. I don’t want to imagine him terrified and cold as he must realize what is going to happen to him.

I don’t want to know and yet I feel it is my duty to know. As a parent, a Minnesotan, a human being, it is our duty to learn the details of Jacob’s death. Not out of morbid curiosity, but as a show of support to his family. We must attempt to carry some of the pain caused by this monster, Danny Heinrich. The Wetterlings have given so much over the years, it is the least we can do.

As I write this there are reports that Danny Heinrich has accepted a plea deal and has given accounts of what happened that day 27 years ago.

From Kare11

The defendant described how he handcuffed Jacob and put him in the passenger seat of his car. Heinrich had a police scanner in his vehicle, and after hearing police respond to the kidnapping he decided he’d better drive back to Paynesville. He recalled Jacob at one point asking him, “What did I do wrong?” He took a series of backroads that wound through small central Minnesota communities until he reached a sewage pond road and drove to a gravel pit by a grove of trees. There, he forced Jacob to disrobe and masturbate him until the boy told Heinrich he was cold.

Jacob asked to be taken home, but Heinrich recalls telling the boy it was too far. On the way back to the car he noticed a police cruiser on the road nearby. Heinrich said he panicked, pulled his revolver and put two rounds inside. “I raised the revolver to his head, clicked once with no bullet in the chamber. Shot him twice after that. ” He admitted firing into the back of Jacob’s head after asking the boy to turn around so he could go to the bathroom.

The details got worse. Heinrich described how Jacob was still crying after the first shot, so he fired again. 

Knowing what happened doesn’t make it all better. Finally knowing Jacob won’t be coming home ever, doesn’t provide closure.

As a mother I can only imagine what the Wetterlings are going through now that they do know Jacob will never come home. The constant questioning – Could we have done more?, Could we have prevented this? – those questions will haunt them now as it has these past 27 years.

There will be no closure for the Wetterlings, they’ve just entered a new kind of hell. Now that they know what happened they will likely play out that scene in their imagination when it’s quiet and they are not occupied. I hope they can find the necessary support to help prevent that from happening. As a mother my imagination is vivid. To this day I replay an accident my son had when he was 3 years old. One in which I was not present. I cringe each time because I was not there to prevent it or to comfort him in his pain. I have to actively push the thought out of my head – and it isn’t always easy, in fact it rarely is. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for Jacob’s parents.

We parent differently because of what happened to Jacob. I was 23 when Jacob went missing, I was engage and about to start my own family. In fact a few years later I would meet Patty Wetterling. Her mother was a patient of my father and Patty escorted her mom to the appointments. I worked in his office and was pregnant at the time, I recall marveling at Patty Wetterling’s grace and generosity.

She smiled, she was friendly, she chatted with other patients and the staff. She was not some tragic figure, she had a mission – to find her son – but she also learned that life keeps moving. When the child I was carrying died, I would think often about Patty Wetterling. If she can get through each day, I thought, certainly I can too.

My daughter died of natural causes and yet there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her and wonder if there was something I could have done differently to prevent her death. While Patty and Jerry have a deep well of memories to draw from of Jacob, the what-might-have-been probably will always cast a long shadow.

There is no closure, and I’m not sure anyone who loses a child or suffers a similar loss, would want it. Closure might work at the end of a marriage, but I don’t see it as even a desirable thing in this situation. Closure means to let go, to move on and move away. It means forgetting even if the things remembered are excruciatingly painful. As a parent I would want to hold on to all of that, even the horrible things, because that is all that is left.

We don’t have to look for Jacob anymore, maybe that’s what they meant by closure? But the fight isn’t over. The Wetterlings have made many positive changes for families who have children who go missing. They helped create the Amber Alert that has saved so many kids from terrible endings. I assume they will continue with this work even though they no longer have to search for their child.

I hope they can find peace, I hope they will continue to smile and laugh and find joy in this world.

 

 

 

Advice Minnesota People politics WTF?

What’s Happening to Our Nation?

July 8, 2016
If you're like me, you're probably wondering what's happening to our nation? Yesterday, following the killing of Philando Castile, I was moved to go to the protest at the Governor's mansion in St. Paul.

If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering what’s happening to our nation? Yesterday, following the killing of Philando Castile, I was moved to go to the protest at the Governor’s mansion in St. Paul. I’ve wanted to write about this issue for a long time, but have never known what to say. Witnessing the peaceful protest at the Governor’s mansion didn’t help me much. For the last two days, the internet has erupted with outrage over yet another (and another) black life cut short by a cop. And rightfully so. I’ve wanted to write about this, but I’ve been afraid to. I won’t bother addressing those fears here, they’re not irrelevant, but they don’t move the conversation forward. I probably wouldn’t have written about the protest for Philando if it hadn’t been for the events that followed later in Dallas.

What’s Happening to Our Nation?

Following the killing of  Philando Castile, which immediately followed the killing of Alton Sterling, social media lit up with all kinds of angry pronouncements about how white people can “help”. Helpful memes were created to unintentionally enflame race relations. White people proudly displayed their “white privilege” guilt as if it were a badge of honor. White people, some of us, became woke. Instead of simply coming together to mourn the lost lives, the injustice and the loss of what was left of our innocence, white people seem to be trying to gain the most points by proclaiming their privileged guilt. But there are no solutions in that.

I hate the term “white privilege”, mostly because I don’t believe the word privilege is an accurate description of the idea that is being put forth. I get it, I get the meaning of the phrase and I wholeheartedly agree it is a real thing. I also hate the term because it immediately shuts down any meaningful discussion about the problems we face. If we can’t discuss the issues, we certainly can’t solve them.

Think Differently?

We used to be able to hold differing opinions. Now, we must all be in agreement. If not, the internet reaction is swift and mighty. Don’t agree with me? Then you must be a racist.

As a white, middle aged, woman I never worry about being pulled over in my little SUV crossover while rocking out to the softer sides of the 80s. Even when I go above the speed limit by 5 or 6 mph, I know the odds are good I will not get pulled over. Broken taillight? I’ve never been pulled over for one, though I have had many. I don’t worry about being followed in department stores because the clerk is worried I will shoplift. And I certainly never worry about being shot dead by a police officer.

But privilege to me, has always meant something that was earned and that could be also taken away. I did not earn my whiteness and I cannot remove it. In these times, because I really do want to help make things better, my whiteness has become a burden. And yet, there are still so many things I take for granted because I am white.

I understand that.

Hands are Tied

I keep starting each paragraph with a story that exemplifies what I am trying to convey. And then I remember, sharing those stories is another way not to help. The thing is, it is a way to connect. And we need to connect more with one another if we want to change the way things currently are. I’ve been told over and over what not to do, as a white person, these past few days. I want to help be the change, I want things to be better for everyone in this great country of ours, I want equality for all. And yet I know that simply wanting something to happen rarely makes it happen. Action must be taken.

Philando Castile Protest

Privilege

The reason I was not compelled to write about my visit to the Governor’s Mansion was because I saw privilege at that protest. Not white privilege, but American privilege. There were a few hundred people at the protest. People of all color, age, gender, sexuality, and political persuasion. People were there with their children and their pets. Neighbors welcomed the protestors into their neighborhood with tables of bottled water, granola bars and even opened the doors of their churches for people to use the bathroom and get out of the heat. The police were there in large numbers. They were protecting the proetestors’ right to assert their first amendment rights even if the words they were speaking were against the police officers. There was no fear at this protest. People were calm, they were not worried that someone might start shooting at the crowd.

Philando Castile Protest

A similar protest took place in Dallas later that evening. It too was a peaceful protest, until it wasn’t. Someone did the unimaginable and started picking off cop after cop. 5 dead, 6 wounded at last count. And the cops continued to protect those that were protesting while getting shot.

Be the Change You Wish To See in the World

Frustrated, I don’t know how to change things. I do know I have no control over a cop and how he handles himself. I also have no control over a shooter who wants to kill as many cops as he can before he gets shot dead. I only have control over the way I react to these things.

Even though I don’t know how to change the nation, I still want to try. I do know that it starts with community, something that has changed so drastically in the last couple of decades. And I’m not even sure we can put that genie back in the bottle. But, I know this – spewing rhetoric on social media is not “community”. Sure, we may be surrounded by like minded people, but those aren’t the people who live on our block.

Unplug to Reconnect

I’m going to spend less time online in the coming months. That isolation and anonymity doesn’t do anyone any good. I want to have these important conversations, but I want to do so with people in real life. I want to discuss these issues with members of my community instead of on some Facebook thread of someone who lives three states away. I know I can’t solve this problem on my own, and I know I won’t change the world, but I can make a difference in my own community if I get out and get to know my neighbors.

We fear what we don’t know, so let’s get out there and get to know each other so we stop fearing each other.

What We Can Do

National Night Out is next month. If you haven’t already, start planning a block party.

Unplug from the internet. Get out and get to know your neighbors.

When online, don’t read the comments.

Think before you react or leave a comment.

Be kind.

Treat others the way you would like them to treat you.

 

 

Events Minnesota Music People Things I Really Like Things that piss me off

On the Passing of Prince – From a Minnesotan

April 23, 2016
Death of Prince I35W Bridge Purple

I was in the car with my daughter Thursday morning when we heard the news that Prince had died. We were going to Ikea, driving along 494 through Burnsville, Mn. My daughter is in charge of the radio while we drive and had just switched from satellite radio to a local station, Cities 97 if you’re wondering, when we caught the tail end of the DJ talking about how someone had died. You could hear she was holding back tears. I said to my daughter “the only death that could bring a Minnesota DJ to tears is Prince”, but that seemed unthinkable.

(For an in depth read, from another Minnesotan, about the music, the style, the talent of Prince, click here)

My daughter grabbed my phone out of my purse to see who it was. She didn’t even have to open the phone, it was right there on the lock screen.

Prince dies at 57.

I was pulling off the exit towards Ikea at this point, but was so distracted that I missed the exit and continued on to the Mall of America. While stuck at a light I tried to search through my phone for any details, but got shut down by my daughter. Already, a digital billboard had a tribute to Prince.

It was real.

We continued on to Ikea, the daughter wants to update her bedroom and needed a few items. My heart was no longer in it, and neither was hers. My daughter was upset too. No surprise really, she grew up being embarrassed by me dancing and singing to all the Prince tunes. When David Bowie died earlier this year she wasn’t the least bit interested in listening to his music with me. She didn’t want to listen to me go on and on about how cool he was and how experimental his music was. But then Bowie wasn’t a Minnesotan.

As we walked through the parking garage we could hear other groups talking about his death.

My son was now texting me about Prince’s death.

How could he be gone (I can’t type dead, it’s too final)?

I’d first heard of Prince when I was 13 or 14 from my friend Stella. She’d heard I Want to be Your Lover on the radio and had to get the album. Stella, Stephanie and I listened to Prince after school each day. Stella sang that song ALL.THE.TIME.

The music was amazing, the album cover was titillating with his bare chest, flowing hair and intense stare, and that he was from Minneapolis made him incredibly real. For a 13 year old it was a little unsettling and exciting at the same time.

And thus began the soundtrack of my younger years.

I just can’t believe
All the things people say, controversy
Am I black or white?
Am I straight or gay? Controversy

My dad was gay, closeted and married to my mother who discussed their issues with me,  while he was out at the Townhouse bar on University Avenue. I was terrified people would find out about my dad (even though they all knew, I just didn’t know they knew) so would much rather have people discussing Prince’s sexuality than my fathers.

We don’t care
It’s all about being there
Everybody’s going Uptown
That’s where I wanna be
Uptown

When we were a few years older we’d go to First Avenue to catch of glimpse of Prince on stage or the dance floor or just on his way to the bathroom. If you’re a Minnesotan, you have a story of literally bumping into Prince at one time or another. He didn’t hide away in some ivory tower, he was part of the party.

My high school years were challenging, for a variety of reasons I went to three different high schools and was forced to spend my senior year at a new school. I went to St. Paul Central that year, a large inner city school with a population four times what I was used to. Prince’s discography played at every single school event, after event party and was constantly playing on the Walkmans all the kids were wearing. Sometimes Michael Jackson played.

Let’s pretend we’re married and go all night
There ain’t nothin’ wrong if it feels all right
I won’t stop until the morning light
Let’s pretend we’re married and go all night, tonight

Prince was playing when I had sex for the first time (though it did not go all night), and many times after as I am sure is the case for most people my age. It was the most sexually explicit music available and yet it didn’t seem dirty. Okay, it was really dirty, but in a damn good way.

‘Cause in this life
Things are much harder than in the after world
In this life
You’re on your own

That summer, 1984, Purple Rain was released. If you know me, or have read my older posts, you know how I struggled through those years due to my dad’s closeted lifestyle and the affect it had on my mother who had been disabled years earlier. Prince helped me through those years. When the movie was released soon after and we got a glimpse into his early years I knew he understood all that I was dealing with. And, as I Minnesotan, we all knew he was goofing with Apollonia when he tricked her into jumping into the Mississippi river.

What’s the matter with your life
Is the poverty bringing U down?
Is the mailman jerking U ’round?
Did he put your million dollar check
In someone else’s box?

My first apartment – my roommate and I tried to drown out the relentless Bruce Springsteen that was played downstairs, with Prince music.

“Oh, I got a live one here!”
Get the funk up!
BATMAN

On our first date my ex husband and I saw the movie Batman at the Grandview theater on its opening night. The packed house erupted when Prince’s credit filled the screen.

If I gave you diamonds and pearls
Would you be a happy boy or a girl
If I could I would give you the world
But all I can do is just offer you my love

We married that fall.

It was my ex husband’s decision to bring his girlfriend to Paisley Park for one of Prince’s more intimate concerts that made me realize the marriage couldn’t be saved. While he was dancing to Prince with some 21 year old I was in the hospital with our infant son who was dehydrated from an ear infection.

When I found a necklace with Prince’s symbol on it, a souvenir from the show, next to our bed, I knew it was time to move on. I would have liked to blame Prince, but that would have been foolish. Our marriage ended when our daughter died a year earlier. Not unlike the way Prince’s marriage ended to Mayte Garcia shortly after their son died of a similar malady.

I’m not a human
I am a dove
I’m your conscious
I am love
All I really need is to know that
U believe

Yeah, I would die 4 U, yeah
Darling if you want me to
U, I would die 4 U

Life moved on and Prince continued to churn out album after album. 39 in total. Prince was texting decades before it became a thing. I only knew one person who didn’t like Prince’s music and I think that was because his music was so raw it could be scary if you weren’t willing to just fall into and let it take you wherever it was going.

We live in a global world now, because of the internet I have friends who live all around the world. When Prince died I got text messages from people asking if I was okay. I was not  a super fan, but I was a fellow Minnesotan and it stung just slightly more, I think, that one of our own left this world. A Minnesota friend who has lived in NY for decades learned of his death before me and was afraid to mention it to me on Facebook, preferring not to be the bearer of bad news.

I visited my mother in the nursing home on Friday. Mom has been delusional for some time and it was nice to see that Prince had worked his way so quickly into her delusions, I spent half an hour listening to her tell me how he and my father were more than just friends.

Let’s go crazy
Let’s get nuts
Let’s look for the purple banana
‘Til they put us in the truck, let’s go!

Minnesota has been awash in Purple since his death. The I35 bridge bathes in purple light during the night. First Avenue is alive with all night dance parties to celebrate his life and gates of Paisley Park are festooned with purple mylar balloons and flowers. It is spring here in Minnesota, early because of El Niño. This week all the azaleas bloomed. Drive down Summit Avenue, Highland Parkway or along Mississippi River Boulevard and you can’t help but see all the purple flowers blooming — seemingly for Prince.

Honey, I know, I know
I know times are changing
It’s time we all reach out
For something new, that means you too

You say you want a leader
But you can’t seem to make up your mind
I think you better close it
And let me guide you to the purple rain

Prince Purple Rain

People politics

The Trouble With The Democrats

February 23, 2016
the trouble with democrats

The trouble with the Democrats is – where to begin? Ugh, the biggest trouble the Democrats have is Bernie. As I stated when I wrote my post about the trouble with the Republicans, I am no political expert, I watch and listen to the talking heads, I read the paper (online) and I try my best to get both sides of the argument and I fact check whenever I think something is BS (which is pretty much all of the time).

The Trouble With The Democrats

Bernie Sanders

Yes, Bernie is a problem – to the establishment, and Hillary Clinton. In fact he is so much of a problem that the DNC scheduled as few debates as possible and aired them at the worst possible time so few people would actually watch. When Bernie started kicking Hillary’s ass in the polls they scheduled more debates because they benefitted Hillary Clinton. Bernie is a problem for many reason – he’s attracting a huge crowd of millennials (a great voting bloc if they actually show up to vote) who have been rabid social media users in his favor. Think Reddit or even 4chan going after Hillary supporters. They’ve co-opted social media to shame people into voting for Bernie. If it weren’t for the Super Delegates, it might actually work.

My son wants me to consider giving my vote to Bernie, and I promised I would pay more attention to him. My biggest beef with Bernie, besides him being a socialist, is that he wants to make college free. I’ve spent the better part of the last two years fighting the public school system over the silliest thing like making sure my child feels safe at her school. The public schools in my district are horrible places. Even the best public schools are still woefully lacking in actually educating our young. Common Core is just one example of the failure of the public school system. I don’t want to see that happen to our colleges and universities. Kids who manage to make it out of the public school system and get into a good college deserve a quality education. I don’t believe that can be had free of cost. Bernie doesn’t seem interested in fixing the rising cost of college (not unlike fixing the health insurance part of the health care crisis). He just wants to give away degrees.

I understand why millennials would be swayed by this sort of thing, and I probably would have when I was that age. But, with a recent college grad in the family I know you have to have some skin in the game to appreciate the value of that education.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton is the other really big problem the Democrats have right now. She’s an incredibly skilled politicians and there is no doubt in my mind that she is extremely qualified to be president. She is such a good politician that no one believes she is the least bit trustworthy. And let’s face it, she isn’t. She’s got so many scandals swirling around her campaign it’s not even funny. There’s Bengazi, the lost/missing/deleted emails (and FBI investigation), there’s Whitewater and there’s Bill.

I love Bill Clinton, he’s the most charming president in my lifetime, but he’s a cad. And Hillary stood by her cad even when she said she wasn’t standing by him.

The thing, is she vilified the women who accused her husband of all kinds of unsavory acts and now she’s riding high on the feminist vote. She didn’t leave her cheating husband, she stood by him and attacked his accusers. If that’s what a feminist is then I’m glad I’m not one.

It Doesn’t Matter

To the left none of this matters. It’s Hillary’s turn and by golly the left will do everything in their power to get her into the oval office.