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What is the Blue Whale Challenge?

July 18, 2017
What is the Blue Whale Challenge

What is the Blue Whale Challenge? If you’re a parent of a young child, tween or teen you’re going to need to learn about this chilling online game that has been causing young people to commit suicide. 

The Blue Whale Challenge is an internet game with 50 tasks assigned to those who want to play, the final task is that the player commit suicide. Each task leading up to the final task is a means of manipulating, controlling and eventually goading the player to commit suicide. Tasks include variations of self harm, sleep deprivation, risk taking, and watching hours and hours of horror movies – each getting progressively worse until a susceptible child can be enticed to commit suicide.

What is the Blue Whale Challenge?

The Blue Whale Challenge was created by a 21 year old Russian named Philipp Budeikin who says the reason he created the game is to cleanse society. Philipp Budeikin has been arrested and has plead guilty to inciting at least 16 girls to commit suicide. 

There are reports of children all around the world who have attempted or committed suicide after playing this game. In the US two suicides have been attributed to this ‘game’.

Ultimately this is a game of peer pressure. For kids who want to fit in, they may be more likely to play this sort of game. Talk to your kids about peer pressure, about these online games and about suicide.

It can be difficult for kids to go against the crowd and refuse to play, even when they know they shouldn’t. Help your kids to stand up for themselves and teach them how to say no to peer pressure. 

I can’t imagine the pressure today’s kids are under to participate in these horrendous games. And I can’t imagine the sick fuck who came up with a game like this, but I have talked to my kids about it. It’s opened a dialog about these very difficult topics and for that I am thankful. My heart goes out to those who have lost a loved one because of these sorts of online games. 

Here are some resources about the game and how you can help your children avoid playing it:

How to Talk to your Kids about Suicide

Blue Whale Suicide Game on CNN

Blue Whale Challenge Tasks

The Cyber 7 Tips for Online Safety

Help Kids Resist Peer Pressure

Helping Kids Handle Peer Pressure

 

Blogging Dumb Shit I Do People politics Send Jen on a Vacation Things that piss me off WTF?

Can’t Muster Anymore Outrage

June 5, 2017

Between all the many terrorist attacks, stupid things President Trump tweets or what stupid thing a washed up celebrity has said, I just can’t muster anymore outrage. 

I want to be upset, I do. I mean the fact that Kathy Griffin hired an attorney because she believes the Trumps are going after her and dooming her career – because she hired a photographer to take images of her holding a bloodied head of Trump – is pretty fucking amazing. That’s something to get outraged about. Not so much what she did, but that she was so insulated that she thought it wouldn’t piss people off.

Can’t Muster Anymore Outrage

Or Bill Maher, again, says something really offensive, racist, stupid, and just plain out of touch. Oh, and fucking arrogant as all get out. But he apologized so it’s all good.

I’ve used the word ‘fuck’ twice, maybe I am outraged.

What the fuck is wrong with people (three times)?

Why are we all so mean to one another? When did society come to believe that the only way to make change was to be an asshole?

Whatever happened to attracting more bees with honey instead of vinegar?

I have so many questions.

I am outraged, but not at the right things. I’m tired of people being jackasses. I’m tired of people not thinking about how their actions affect (or is effect, fuck I can never remember) other people. And I’m outraged that people don’t understand there are consequences for their behavior. 

I’m tired, getting worked up doesn’t do anyone any good. No one is listening anyway so there’s no point in trying to have a discussion. 

Everything I learned in kindergarten really was the most important stuff, because the whole fucking world is like kindergarten now. We all need to grow up. 

You know what else needs to happen?

Auto play videos on websites have to stop. These are the most annoying things ever and yet they are everywhere. 

 

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The Upside of a Trump Presidency

February 20, 2017
The upside to a Trump presidency

I know everyone is upset about Trump becoming our 45th president. I get it. The upside of a Trump presidency is actually many things believe it or not. Sure, he says a lot of stupid things and he doesn’t appear to know what he’s doing, it’s scary, I really do get it. But think about all that has happened since he was sworn in the past January.

The Upside of a Trump Presidency

We’re getting involved – For the past 8, 12, 16 years we’ve been sort of asleep at the wheel. I can’t remember the last time people were so involved in not just politics but everything. Since the inauguration there’s been a protest practically every other day. 

We’re more informed – I’ve never known so many people to take an interest in politics, current events and anything beyond social media and cat videos. People are actually reading the Constitution, and not just the first two amendments. They’re learning about the 4th, the 9th and the 10th ones as well. People are paying attention and it’s wonderful. 

We’re getting out more – At least, I am. I took a social media break because I couldn’t stand the negativity, and it was one of the best things I’ve done. I’m back on social media, but not as much. I’ve discovered there is a whole other world out there. Since the shit hit the fan I’ve taken a pottery class, I’ve learned how to stain wood, and I’m looking into a mosaics class. 

We’re demanding justice – I’m not always sure what for, but it’s still a great thing. Justice and freedom are two of the cornerstones of what we stand for in America, we’d forgotten than for a while so it’s nice to see this sleeping giant awaken. 

We’re realizing we’re pretty great – Trump’s campaign slogan – Make America Great Again – pissed off a lot of people. The arrogance of it! The thing is, we are great. It just took a buffoon to remind us of it.

I’m a surprisingly optimistic person. I realized this recently when my 14 year old dog started pooping in the house. He’s doing it because he’s old, feeble, stubborn and hates me but mostly because it is too difficult for him to go up and down the stairs to go outside. The upside? There’s less dog poop in the backyard. Sure, the downside is that he’s pooping in the house (and that’s really, really gross and disconcerting) but less poop to clean up in the spring – I’m all for it*.

I’m optimistic, I believe in checks and balances and so far they have been working out. 

*I’m not really comparing a Trump presidency to my dog shitting in the house. 

Blogging Dumb Shit I Do How Did We Survive? People politics Things that piss me off WTF?

What I Learned on My Facebook Vacation

February 2, 2017
What I Learned on My Facebook Vacation

Recently I took a little break from social media, and this is what I learned on my Facebook Vacation. I needed a break from social media, but mostly I needed to get off of Facebook. Facebook is where I do most of my socializing. 

Don’t judge, you probably do too, or maybe you’re fond of Pinterest, or you hang out with the folks on Instagram. Doesn’t matter, they’re all the same. None of us actually get out anymore. And that’s too bad because there’s a whole big world of people doing things and NOT arguing about politics or calling each other Nazis or Libtards.

What I Learned on My Facebook Vacation

In my week of self induced banning from Facebook I learned that people in the real world don’t commence a conversation with friends by demanding they unfriend each other because one of them may or may not approve of the other’s opinion – which is really just one of them trying to show all the other people in her timeline that she is bold, brash, right (though not “right” or “alt-right”) and mostly virtuous.

I learned that people can go out together and have fun. They can shop, walk, talk, share a meal, laugh, sing, dance and never, ever mention politics, or mock Steve Bannon’s or Kellyanne Conway’s looks.

We used to be a melting pot but now – thanks to identity politics – we’re black, white, hispanics, women, men, lesbians, gays, transgender, cis something or other, religious freaks, atheists, republicans, democrats (republicants, libtards, republikkkans, fascists, Nazis), white males, white women of privilege (which is apparently not only a joke, but also a huge redundancy). We are every group there is out there, we are different. OMG we are nothing but our differences. 

Except we’re not. We used to be Americans. Those who were immigrating here – they were known as people who wanted to become Americans. 

And in the real world, we’re just people trying to get through this crazy ass amusement park ride together. We’re human. We make mistakes, we dust ourselves off, get back up and try all over again. 

I love Facebook, I’ve met some great people there, but I prefer the real world — where we have to look each other in the eye while we discuss the issues of the day, where the nuances of conversations are not surrendered to emojis and 140 characters. Where we actually care about each other. 

And especially where we aren’t just trying to tear each other down so we can build ourselves up for the approval, or “likes”, from those who have more followers than us.

But mostly what I learned on my Facebook vacation is that we aren’t all assholes (in real life). Some of us, most of us, are actually decent people. Even the ones with whom we disagree (go fucking figure!). 

 

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The Definitive Trump Gift Buying Guide

January 27, 2017
Definitive Trump Buying Guide

For the next four years we’ve got a Trump presidency. We can either embrace the humor of it, or cower in a corner pretending it didn’t really happen while we drown in vodka or whiskey. However you choose to manage the next four years, this is the definitive Trump Gift Buying Guide. Doesn’t matter if you love him or hate him, there’s something for everyone on this list. 

The Definitive Trump Gift Buying Guide 

1. Gerber Zombie Apocalypse Survival Kit

This has everything you need to survive the apocalypse after he blows everything up. Kit includes which Gator Machete, Camp Axe II, Gator Machete Pro, Parang Machete, LMF II Infantry Fix Blade Knife, DMF Folding Tanto Blade Knife, Epic Drop Point Fixed Blade Knife, two machetes, one parang, and a hatchet all enclosed in a super durable canvas carrying case with reinforced stitching, the kit is compact and packable.

2. 10 in 1 Professional Survival Kit

Here’s another great kit to help you survive when civilization goes to shit. For those of you on the left survival is a new thing. If you can’t bring yourself to get a conceal carry permit, let alone a gun, this might be the place to start. 

3. Trump Toilet Paper

Trump Toilet Paper for sale

Of course if you’re out in the wilderness surviving, you’re going to need something to wipe your ass with. 

4. Trump Success Eau de Toilette Spray for Men, 3.4 Fluid Ounce

Ever wondered what success smells like? 

About the Product
  • This product is made of high quality material
  • It is recommended for romantic wear
  • This Product Is Manufactured In USA

Sounds like Trump wrote the ad copy for this. 

5. Fuck Trump Herb Grinder

Trump Herb Grinder

To get through the next four years, especially if the apocalypse doesn’t happen, you’ll need something to grind your herb, this one seems fitting.

6. The Trump Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Living Through What You Hoped Would Never Happen

The Trump Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Living Through What You Hoped Would Never Happen

Don’t despair. Don’t retreat. Fight back.

Before we can successfully engage, we need to be clear about the battles ahead. Stone outlines political and social concepts—including such issues as Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, the Environment, Obamacare, International relations, and LGBTQ Rights—providing a brief history of each, a refresher on Obama’s policies, and an analysis of what Trump’s administration might do. Stone then provides an invaluable guide for fighting back—referring to organizations, people, sites, and countless other resources that support positive and possible goals.

While marches and social media are important forms of protest, concrete actions achieve real change. Positive and reinforcing, The Trump Survival Guide presents the essential information we need to effectively make our voices heard and our power felt.

7. Dump-a-Trump Pen Holder

donald trump pen holder

For those of you who would prefer a less active role in the revolution, but still want to register your disgust – there is this lovely Donald Trump Pen Holder. 

8. A Child’s First Book of Trump

The Trump is a curious creature, very often spotted in the wild, but confounding to our youngest citizens. A business mogul, reality TV host, and now…political candidate? Kids (and let’s be honest many adults) might have difficulty discerning just what this thing that’s been dominating news coverage this election cycle is. Could he actually be real? Are those…words coming out of his mouth? Why are his hands so tiny? And perhaps most importantly, what on earth do you do when you encounter an American Trump?

With his signature wit and a classic picture book style, comedian Michael Ian Black introduces those unfamiliar with the Americus Trumpus to his distinguishing features and his mystifying campaign for world domination…sorry…President of the United States.

9. Donald Trump Life Size Cardboard Standup

Donald Trump cardboard cutout

Honestly, I can think of a million uses for a cardboard cutout of Donald Trump. This is from the description: Perfect For Children’s Birthday Parties, Special Events, School, Corporate Events, Awards Programs, Fairs, Festivals, Galas, Fundraisers And Green/Eco Events… Um, really?

10. Donald Trump Toilet Roll Talker

Trump talking toilet paper roll

FILL YOUR BATHROOM WITH DONALD TRUMP’S VOICE – Prank friends and family with this ingenious Donald Trump toilet paper roll holder that makes your regular toilet paper talk! Just insert it into any roll of toilet paper and PREPARE FOR SOME SERIOUS LAUGHS!

You cannot make this shit up. And it’s in his real voice! How’d they manage that? 

Bonus!!

11.Chia Donald Trump Freedom of Choice Pottery Planter

Donald Trump Chia Pet

It’s not real until they make a Chia Pet out of you. At least his hair looks better. 

Advice Blogging Dumb Shit I Do Events People politics Send Jen on a Vacation Things that piss me off WTF?

Taking a Social Media Break

January 23, 2017

I’m going to be taking a social media break. Mostly from Facebook since that is where I waste most of my time. I’m doing it for many reasons, the above mentioned wasting time is a big one, but I’m also doing it because it’s not fun anymore. Social media has turned into the Mean Girls table in 7th grade and I hated it then and hate it even more now.

Taking a Social Media Break

Twitter has always been a clusterfuck of negativity, and I am sure Instagram, and Pinterest are getting filled with just as many negative memes if not outright status updates. 

For the most part I have kept my sadness and anger under control when I peruse the status updates of friends and people who update publicly. I’m not a troll and it isn’t my job to educate anyone on the ways of persuasion. I’ve simply had enough.

Stop Being Such Douchebags to Each Other!

People are upset and I appreciate and respect that, but oh my god they are also so very rude, childish and just plain mean. 

This negativity, this aggressiveness, this unpleasantness has been going on for well over a year now, but since the election it’s gotten worse. Since the inauguration, it has gotten out of hand.

“I don’t care who started it!”

Yes, I know, I sound just like my father. 

I know there are important issues that need to be discussed. I get that people are scared and want to do whatever they can to change something… The thing is, I’m not listening anymore. And I’m really tolerant! 

This past weekend I saw women tearing at each other because the appropriate response was not given with regard to the women’s march this Saturday. According to many if you didn’t go you are considered a Trump supporter. That’s quite a leap. I had no idea my lack of desire to participate in an event would lump me in with the deplorables. 

Bittersweet

Social media, especially Facebook, is my socializing. As a single mom, I don’t get out much. Spending some time on Facebook and chatting with friends has always been a welcome way to start the day and wind it down. My time on Facebook was something I looked forward to. Now, it just makes me sad or angry, lately enraged.

And I love you people, but you are being really mean to each other right now and I’m scared. I’m afraid to leave a comment, to engage with other people, because I am afraid my inability to concisely sum up an issue with a pithy comment that is regarded by the majority as correct is lacking. That I can’t say what I want to say without pissing someone, everyone off. 

It Used to be Fun

Listen, I know that social media has never been a place to discuss issues in any sort of meaningful or deep way. Social media comments are like romance novels, you will get down and dirty by page six, or the 6th comment as the case may be. But sometimes, respectful discussions did take place.

These discussions may not have changed any minds, but when respectful they were at least enlightening. Now, it’s just a race to see who can work Hitler or the Nazis into the conversation first. No one actually expects discourse, they just want to get their clever comeback in and then wait for their tribe to hit the like button so everyone knows how influential they are.

And That Pisses Me Off

I’ve tried to reason with social media to no avail so for the time being I’m removing myself from the negativity. Unfortunately, I manage social media for many businesses so I still have to show up. However, I won’t be engaging for a while and as much as possible I will automate my presence there.

That said, I will still be hanging out at my blog and with all the free time I expect will be able to visit those blogs that are actually still blogging. I hope discussion about these interesting times can be had with less snark. If you see me on Facebook – I’m playing Candy Crush or updating a client’s status. I will automate the promotion of any posts here on Facebook and other social media. 

See, I’m explaining myself!! How stupid is that?

I’m sure I will not be gone for too long, probably until TWD returns and all has been righted in the world. I just need to get away from the negativity for a while. Life is simply too short for all of the mean girl bullshit. 

I love you all and I will miss you, but you piss me off too much to stick around right now so I’m disconnecting.

Dumb Shit I Do Events How Did We Survive? People politics Things that piss me off WTF?

It’s the End of the World as We Know It

January 18, 2017
it's the end of the world as we know it

If you’re like a good chunk of the US population, and probably a large percentage of the rest of the world, you probably think that come Friday, it’s the end of the world as we know it.

Or maybe it will be the end of the world? Who knows, maybe shortly after Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, he’ll make a grab for the football and set off the nukes. 

Unless you’re living under a rock you can’t help but notice that people are losing their shit about the inauguration. Joe Biden is worried about the fracture of the “liberal world order” due to Putin, Glen Beck has seen the light and is now holding hands with Samantha Bee, Marc Lamont Hill is saying some of the most foul things and still no one is really covering it – let alone outraged by it (so I guess in that regard nothing has changed), and some dude actually lit himself on fire in protest of Trump

What the ever loving f*ck?

And it’s only Wednesday. I would imagine things are just getting started with regard to crazy and overly dramatic.

I don’t know if it’s the end of the world as we know it. It probably is. I mean, isn’t it always? Something comes along and changes the trajectory of things – whatever they may be – and things change accordingly. The same could have been said if Hillary was the person being sworn in on Friday. Things would be different. Though, probably not as different as they are with Trump win. 

Of course, that’s also why he won. 

But what about the Russians?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, they hacked us, and we are rightly outraged and are doing everything possible to make sure it doesn’t happen again, but there has been no evidence that anything they did actually changed the outcome of the election. So…..

I’m sorry, I got distracted by the auto arguments.

People wanted change, that’s why Trump won the election. Now, it might not be the change you wanted, but that’s why we have elections. We don’t let just one person, or one group, choose who the next president will be. Sorry, Rosie, not even you get to choose for all of us

My Facebook feed is filled with people so anxious about the peaceful change of power that they literally have “taken to bed”. 

I would love to take to bed, but I have to work. I’m super thrilled however, that we live in such a wealthy nation that people have that option. I mean think about it… we have so much wealth in this nation that someone can “take to bed” for a day or more because they are simply upset about who won the presidency. They either don’t have any responsibility, or they are so well off that they have others to pick up the slack while they “take to bed”. 

What isn’t there to love about that? What a wonderful country we have that we have so much flexibility. Talk about first world problems.

Seriously, I am getting away from myself.

And I don’t even like Trump!

The thing is, I’ve seen this all before. That’s one of the great things about hitting the mid century mark, there’s not much you haven’t seen. I came of age during the Reagan years and I remember everyone freaking out that he was going to accidentally nuke Russia or some other unfortunate country. It didn’t happen then and it isn’t likely to now.

Will he make changes?

Yeah, duh. That’s why he’s getting sworn in and Hillary is not. I said that already, I guess.

He’s probably going to make a lot of changes, and all of them will be attributed to his sense of greed and desire for power, same goes for all the republicans. It’s going to be a long 4 years, possibly 8. 

To be continued….

People politics Sex Things that piss me off WTF?

On Trump and Golden Showers

January 11, 2017
On Trump and Golden Showers

Here are my thoughts on Trump and Golden Showers, but first I should mention I did not bother to read the Buzzfeed article, the dossier that was apparently handed over from John McCain to the FBI or maybe it was the CIA or possible the NSA, TSA, FCC, JCC or AARP, and I didn’t see any of the press conference Donald Trump gave today, either.

I have however, seen about eleventy billion Facebook posts about golden showers today. 

On Trump and Golden Showers

While I might lean to the right politically, I am pretty liberal when it comes to the stuff you do in the privacy of your own home, or hotel room as the case may be. Personally, I think golden showers are icky, but some people get into that stuff. It’s none of my business. Just like it’s none of my business if someone wants to put a cigar in someone’s vag, muff, honey pot, pussy, lady bits, cooch, twat, cooter, or whatever we’re calling it these days. 

Whatever Floats your Boat

I don’t care, I just really don’t want to hear about it. 

I don’t know who did what, who leaked it or if any of it is true. I do know that we’re all getting played.

Maybe it’s the Russians who are playing us? Or Putin, the media, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, any of the republican candidates from the primary, Obama, several former and current Miss Americas, Bill Cosby, Bernie Sanders, or possibly Joe Biden. 

Joe Biden Meme under where

We’re Being Played

I don’t know who it is playing us, but we’re all falling for it. We’re all acting like crazy people with absolutely nothing better to do than gossip, speculate and actually act as if we know know some kind of truth about all of this. 

We don’t. We don’t know the truth about any of this and yet many of us are acting like super sleuths trying to figure things out. 

If it hadn’t been for those crazy kids and their dog….

Chill Out

The thing is, when Buzzfeed and other reputable news sources (I’m not really including Buzzfeed in the reputable category, they’re more the clickbait category) post unsubstantiated, unverified, unproven, possibly false, possibly (even likely) faked, dossiers about someone we shouldn’t get our collective panties in a bunch about it.

We already thought he was the worst thing ever, why is this business about golden showers so newsworthy? Haven’t we had enough?

I’m not trying to make light of the Russian hacking, if that’s what this is about then we need to put a stop to it. Full Stop. Sanctions, whatever it takes to punish them. I’m all for that. 

This Seems to be Something Else

I don’t like Trump, I think he is vile, deplorable, vulgar and I would prefer he was not going to be president of the United States, but I don’t think a golden shower is going to get anyone impeached. And while it is true that douchebaggery is hard to cure, it’s not illegal.

Seriously, I’m not defending him. 

I just don’t want to hear about any of this anymore. Haven’t we got better things with which to get worked up?

I don’t know much about this, but I do know that someone is making money because of it.

And we’re buying.

*Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

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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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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.

#NaBloPoMo Advice politics WTF?

How to Survive the Trumpocalypse

November 10, 2016
The upside to a Trump presidency

If you’re like most of the American population you’re wondering what the hell happened yesterday. You’re also probably wondering how to survive the Trumpocalypse without losing your mind, dignity, friends, etc. You may or may not be wondering how the media and pundits got it so wrong. And if you’re like many people you’re busy pointing fingers and demanding that those who voted for him unfriend you right now.

I get it. I’m stunned too. I really didn’t think this was even a remote possibility. Of course hindsight is 20/20 and it’s actually pretty obvious why it happened, but that’s a discussion for another time. However, it is not because half the country is stupid and racist.

Today is going to be a difficult day for a lot of people. I see grief and fear all over social media. So much fear and so much hate. Hate for the uneducated who voted this buffoon into office. It is what it is. President Elect Donald Trump won fair and square. He’s got four years to do what he said he was going to do and that includes unite this country. If we aren’t happy with the way things are four years from now, we vote home out of office. That’s just one of the things that makes this country a great place to live.

Healing will happen, but it will take some time, some introspection and some humility. In the mean time, we need to survive the post election apocalypse. When I wrote that piece I was sure Hillary Clinton would be the winner and that we’d be counting hanging chads for months, and just in case you missed it, I wrote it with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

I didn’t foresee this outcome, but surviving the Trumpocalypse isn’t that difficult.

How to Survive the Trumpocalypse

  1. Take a deep breath, or two or there – Hell, take a drink or a toke. Whatever you need to get through these next few days. It’s going to be rough while we sift through the wreckage. Do what you need to do to make yourself feel better because we’ve got some work to do going forward.
  2. Stop pointing fingers – This is how our system works. Everyone gets a shot. The government is not guaranteed to just the elites on the east and west coasts of our country.
  3. Stop scaring your kids – Seriously, stop it. The world is not going to end. There will be no concentration camps and women and blacks will not lose the right to vote. Gays will still have the right to marry and raise children and every other right they currently have as American citizens.
  4. Stop unfriending people – If you wonder how this could happen it might just be because we’ve refused to even entertain a different idea. This divisive society we’ve created is so incredibly toxic that our children need Safe Spaces in school. That’s insane. School used to be where we tried out all kinds of new ideas.
  5. Be your best – The government has never been able to legislate thoughts. Keep fighting for equality and opportunity. Keep helping your fellow man and woman. Be the change you wish to see. A Trump win doesn’t mean that you won’t be allowed to do all of the things you think are virtuous. Be good, be kind, be excellent.