Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Nevertheless, She Persisted: A Story

Full disclosure: This story does not paint me in a very positive light. However, I want to share it with you because I'm curious to see if you think I went too far or what you would have done in my situation.

First, a little backstory: In 2015 I was turning right at a stoplight. The light was green, but there was a pedestrian on a bicycle, so I was stopped waiting for them to get across the street. I got rear-ended. Hard. We pulled off into the parking lot of a little flower shop. This was my first accident ever and I wasn't sure about procedure. I called my mom first to ask what I should do. She told me to call the police so I did. While on the phone with the police the other guy asked me not to call them because their car wasn't registered. I said I'm sorry, but they're already on their way. When I turned around to get my registration and insurance information from my glove box, they took off. I didn't have a license plate number or anything. Because I didn't immediately take pictures of his license plate as soon as I got of the car I ended up paying nearly $1000 ($500 deductible and almost $500 for the rental car) for something that wasn't even my fault. Lesson learned.

February 28, 2017

I walk out from work to the parking lot and find my front bumper almost completely ripped off my car. There was a name and a phone number on the car and I called to talk to the guy who did it. He said he wanted to pay for the damages instead of going through his insurance so his premium wouldn't go up. I asked him if he would pay for my rental car and he said he would. My co-workers pulled the bumper off by the one screw that was still holding it on and stuck it in my backseat. I drove to the repair shop, got an estimate, and got a ride home. They told me they wouldn't start work on the car until I gave the go-ahead. I called to get an estimate for the rental car.

March 1, 2017

My friend picked me up in the morning and took me to work. During my shift the guy in question came over and wrote me a check for $2135 to cover the expenses of the repair ($1985) and the rental car ($150). I told him I would deposit the check and as soon as the check cleared I'd authorize them to start work on the car. I got my rental car from Alamo after work and deposited the check on the way home. I asked how long it would take to clear and she said a couple days.

March 3, 2017

The check cleared and I authorized them to begin work on the car. They estimated 4-5 days for the repair. I texted the guy to let him know work was beginning as well as scanning in the copies of the estimates for his records.

March 9, 2017

I call to check on the car and I'm told I can pick the car up on Monday.

March 13, 2017

It's Monday. I call on the car and there's been a snag. Apparently there was a crease in the new bumper that they missed and they were almost done with the repair. They had to get a new bumper installed without that crease.

March 17, 2017

I return my rental car and take the bus to go pick up my car.

March 30, 2017

I scan in my receipts for the repair and the rental car and send him this email:

Hey (omitted),

Sorry it took so long for me to get this stuff to you, I've been super busy. I picked up my car on the 17th. Since I had to keep the rental for an extra week I was wondering if you could just send me a check for the difference in the mail and we can be done with this whole messy business. I've attached the receipts for the repair and the rental. The final prices are as follows:

1,985.00 - Repair Estimate
+150.00 - Rental Estimate
=2,135.00 Total - Check from you

2,135.00 - From you
- 1,980.33 - Actual Repair Cost
- 316.07 - Actual Rental Cost
= 161.40 - Difference Owed

My address:

Thank you for your cooperation in solving this matter. Have a nice day.

April 8, 2017

I haven't heard from him and haven't received a check so I send him this text:

Hey (omitted) did you get my email? You owe me a little more for the rental car. I sent you an email with scanned copies of the final costs. It had my address so you can send me a check.

I never heard from him, so I sent this same text multiple times a day over the next couple days.

April 12, 2017

I know you are getting my text messages and purposefully ignoring me. I get it, you paid to get the car fixed and you want to be done with this matter. Well guess what? Me too. You were in the wrong here. You're the one who busted my car while I was at work. You said you'd take care of the car and the rental car. Well the car is taken care of, but the rental car is not. I sent you these documents 2 weeks ago and I want what is owed to me. Just in case you really have no idea what I'm talking about I've attached them again as well as the email I sent to you:

Hey (omitted),

Sorry it took so long for me to get this stuff to you, I've been super busy. I picked up my car on the 17th. Since I had to keep the rental for an extra week I was wondering if you could just send me a check for the difference in the mail and we can be done with this whole messy business. I've attached the receipts for the repair and the rental. The final prices are as follows:

1,985.00 - Repair Estimate
+150.00 - Rental Estimate
=2,135.00 Total - Check from you

2,135.00 - From you
- 1,980.33 - Actual Repair Cost
- 316.07 - Actual Rental Cost
= 161.40 - Difference Owed

My address:

I want you to know that I am prepared to make a nuisance of myself until you cooperate. I'll give you the rest of the day today to think about things, but starting tomorrow all hell breaks loose. I am prepared to call you every hour on the hour until you either A) Pick up and assure me you will send the check. B) Text me and assure me you will send the check. C) Ignore me, but send the check anyway. As soon as the check is in my hands, the calls will stop.

I know what you're thinking. It'll be easy enough to ignore me. Just turn off your ringer and let me wear myself out. Well, know this. I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE. (omitted) That's right. I took a picture of your original check and it has your address on it buddy. You have one week from tomorrow for a check to appear in my mailbox before I show up at your home and knock on your door until you write me one. It would really be a lot easier for both of us if you just texted me back and said the check is on its way. Since you didn't seem to mind writing a check for over $2,000, I think a check for $161.40 should be small change to you.
You've been warned. I'll talk to you tomorrow.

After sending the email I also sent him this text:

I know you probably think you've got out of something by not paying me what is owed to me. However, I'd highly recommend checking your email for an email from me. Tomorrow all hell breaks loose and I promise you'll want to stop it before it begins. You've been warned.

(NOTE: I know it's bitchy, but I was pissed. This guy had been ignoring me for weeks and I was sick of it.)

April 13, 2017

I follow through on my promise and call six times before I get this email:

Hi HollySorry for late replying. I was super busy at this a couple of weeks. I got your email, text, and phone call. Actually I don't think it's fair to you'll asking more money from me. Especially extend rental car fee. I gave you check right next day in the morning day after you take your car to fix auto.  It's way more quicker and enough amounts of money than insurance company approves.As I remember due to your neglect response cause fix auto to delay finish your car.I talk to Jimmy about your car's damage also. The conditions of damage he described and I took pictures with security ware quite different. It's ok I'll pay for it. But what you asking me more money isn't fair. Even if you are upset, your behavior right now isn't appropriate.Have a nice day.

Here is my response:


That's fine that you feel that way, but you were the one who agreed to pay for the rental car in the first place. When I got the estimate for the rental car I estimated for one week of use hoping the the fix would get done quickly, but you and I both knew that it could change based on how quickly they were able to fix the car. Unfortunately they ran into some problems. It turns out the first bumper they got had a crease in it and they didn't discover that till it was almost completely finished. So they basically had to start over. That's why the repair took so long. Not due to a delayed response from me. I waited exactly 2 days for them to start work on the car and that was strictly to make sure your check had cleared. I'm sure you can understand that. If I had authorized them to start work on the car immediately and your check had bounced I would have been responsible for paying for all of it, and there would have been no going back to use insurance either. It was the smart thing to do. I'm not sure why you think the damage to the car was different than when you were there. I've got pictures too of how I found my car in the parking lot. I've attached them below, since you seem to think I'm lying. 

You're right. I am upset. I walked out of work one day to find my front bumper lying on the ground and having to deal with the headache of insurance, repairs, and rental cars. If you were in my shoes, you'd probably be upset too. Then to be completely ignored when I'm trying to get what YOU promised me for the accident YOU caused, that makes me even more upset. I'm sorry you think my behavior is inappropriate, but I think going back on your word is inappropriate behavior and I guess that's something we're just going to have to agree to disagree on.

(NOTE: Yes. That is highlighted for a reason. You'll see)

April 28, 2017

I send this text:

I still have not received your check.

May 1, 2017

I receive this text:

Miss understanding, I thought you understood my statement. I'll remind you I won't pay extra money to you. Even your pictures show no damage grille and headlight, it's just came off, but I talk to jimmy he says he didn't see it. What did you do it? Also bumper and partially chassis was already damaged and you told me never had accident. Who lied? I paid already more than my responsibilities. Also if you see your picture why you park your car so close to me and crooked? Remind you extra money you asking to me isn't my responsibility.

(NOTE: He very clearly said he would pay. I didn't ask specifics on what the repair shop was going to do to my car. I just assumed they were going to fix whatever was broken. Also I highly doubt that this guy was in contact with Jimmy while the repairs were going on. As far as I know he had one conversation with him, through my phone, while I was present. My car has never been in an accident on the front end, at least not while in my possession. Here are a couple pictures for your reference of my parking job. Also if you've even been in Simba Parking lot I can guarantee you've seen parking jobs a lot worse than mine, and they all somehow manage to get home with their bumpers intact.)

I'm going to go ahead and omit my initial response text which was quite angry and aggressive and foul. Needless to say there was a lot of swearing and fury. Once I calmed down marginally I took a screenshot of that email from above and said "Oh yeah, I totally misunderstood when you literally said you'd pay for it." I also reminded him that I still knew where he lived and would be happy to make myself comfortable on his front porch reading a book till he was ready to pay me.

Honestly by this point I was calling the whole thing a lost cause. I never expected to see that money which was why I was very surprised to receive a text from him later in the afternoon saying to see him tomorrow if I wanted a check from him. He said he'd contact me and I said just let me know when and where.

May 2, 2017

This morning he asks me to meet him at a McDonald's at 9:00 AM and I agree. The whole way there I'm thinking about how this is somehow I trap. I was preparing for every situation: he brought a lawyer to file a restraining order, he called the police to arrest me for stalking or harassment, he got some of his buddies to hide nearby to cause some real damage to my car while he was distracting me inside. At the very least I assumed we'd have an argument before we came to some sort of agreement. Instead, the one thing I never thought would happen did. I walked in, sat down. He handed me $160 cash and asked me to sign a document saying it was the final payment. I signed it, said "Thank you very much." and walked out the door.

I went to the Chase across the street and deposited it right away. I have no idea what changed his mind. Maybe he wanted to just be done with the matter and I had already proven that I could be a pain in the butt when needed so he just didn't want to deal with me anymore. I don't know, and I really don't care. I got what was promised to me in the end. I may have had to be a bitch to get it, but it's done.

I can't help but realize how he was victim blaming me in all this. I always thought of that as something somewhat exclusive to sexual assault crimes, but this showed me it's not. Somehow he was determined to make this my fault. I waited too long for them to start work on the car. I lied about previous damage. I parked crooked. It was all my fault according to him. So I'm interested, what do you guys think?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Depression: Stop the Stigma

It's like I'm handcuffed to my couch and there is a drill sergeant in my face. He's screaming at me everything on my to do list as I struggle to get off the couch. No matter how much I try or how much I want to, I can't seem to get off the couch and get anything done.

This is how I described the depression I've been experiencing for the last year to my doctor. She put me on antidepressants on January 20th, of all days. I guess it takes a few weeks before I'll start to see any changes, so I'm waiting impatiently for that day to come. For the last year I have had an extremely difficult time doing basic household tasks like cooking and cleaning. My apartment looks like a tornado went through it most of the time. When I'm not at work I spend the majority of my time on my couch binge-watching TV shows on Netflix or playing video games. I've put off laundry, grocery shopping, and getting gas in my car for days until it got so dire that I was forced to. My sleep has been erratic. Sometimes I sleep a lot, much more than I should. Other times I can't sleep very well at all and only get a few hours of sleep at a time. The thing that is worst of all, is that I can't read. If you know me at all, you know how ludicrous that sounds. Just this month alone I've started 5 different books and haven't been able to make it past the 5th chapter in any of them before I lost interest. Most of these were books I've read before and I know I love.

I've heard a lot about the stigma attached to mental illness over the years. Having never experienced it or really known anybody who had I didn't realize that I was part of the problem. I've been struggling with the depression for (at least) a year that I know of. I kept it to myself for a long time. I finally confided in my mom when I realized I had a problem. I went through the Employee Assistance Program at my work and saw a therapist a few times. I told only a handful of close friends about my difficulties. I didn't want people to know that I was depressed. Why? Can you imagine having strep throat and not going to a doctor for antibiotics for over a year? It's crazy!

I've had a few friends stick up their nose at the idea of my taking antidepressants. I think they truly hope it will help me, but they expressed their disdain for this type of medication assuring me they would never take it themselves. I get it. I never thought I would have to, to be honest. I've always been a happy, optimistic, and generally good-natured person. I never thought depression would be a part of my life, but now it is.

2016 was a bad year for a lot of us. For me it was personally bleak because of the depression I was suffering from, the news that my father only had months to live, my deep unhappiness at my main venue at work, and of course the election. When I got home from my Christmas vacation this year things got worse. I called my mom and had a complete breakdown on the phone. It was so bad that she felt she had to ask me if she needed to worry about me doing anything stupid like a suicide attempt. I assured her that I was not that bad, but that really woke me up. I set up an appointment with my doctor and am finally taking care of the problem.

I am not asking for sympathy. In fact, that's the last thing I want. This post is just to share my story so that others who may be feeling the same way will go forward and get help. You don't have to go through this alone. Talk to your friends, your family, your pastor, a therapist, or me. See your doctor and if they think you should be on medication, take your medication without fear of other people's judgement. I almost started crying in my doctor's office when she said she was writing me a prescription because I was so relieved. I have been struggling with this for so long and it finally feels like I'm taking my life back. Don't wait to take back yours. Depression is nothing to be ashamed of. It just took me a while to realize that.

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Divided States of America

It's 12:14 PM. I shouldn't be awake right now. I got home home from work around 6:30 this morning and went to bed around 7:30. Something must have woken me up around 11:30 and I fruitlessly tried to go back to sleep. This is happening a lot recently. As soon as I'm awake my stomach clenches and my mind starts churning with the worries I feel for my country. Maybe that sounds dramatic, but it is true nonetheless. I know this may surprise you, but I'm not a particularly political person. In fact I hate politics. I find them quite dull and uninteresting and in general, well, I guess I just don't care that much. So why is it that this election cycle I couldn't help but be more invested than I was with the previous elections? I think the answer is that I was forced to be.

My entire adult life Barack Obama has been my president. The first time I was able to vote was in 2008. Being a new voter and generally uninterested in politics, I didn't do a whole lot of research. I went to one of those websites where you put in your views and it tells you who you match with best and at what percentage. Obama was the winner. I didn't watch debates or campaign speeches. I didn't review policies or plans. I certainly didn't look into any of the other people on the ballot. I think I just figured since I matched with Obama, that meant I was a Democrat and just voted for all democrats based on that. In 2012 I was happy with what Obama had done in four years and I wanted to see how much more progress he could make with four more and I voted for him again. For the past eight years I haven't had to worry much about politics because I felt reassured that I was in good hands.

When the campaigns for 2016 began I didn't know or care who was running. I never cared before, so why start now? Then I started seeing things on Facebook about Donald Trump running. At first I thought it was a joke. In some ways I'm still waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out and yell "You've been Punk'd America!" Honestly at first I just didn't pay much attention, as is my usual way with political posts, but soon things started catching my attention. The longer the campaign went on and the more things I heard and saw from Trump the more worried I became. For the first time, I began researching politics, because I had to. I could tell that this election was far more important than the previous two.

In the case of the previous elections I felt secure that even if Obama didn't win, the other candidate was competent enough to run the country, even if I didn't agree with them on all of their political stances. That was not the case in 2016. Trump was one of the least (if not the least) qualified candidates running on either side. He had no political experience. He had basically no plans in place for how he would carry out all of these promises he was making. And worst of all he ran a campaign that was fueled by lies and hate.

Well, in November the country spoke and while Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly three million votes, Donald Trump was going to be our next president. I'm not going to talk about the days following the election because I've already discussed that.

Instead I want to talk about January 21, 2017. I want to talk about the Women's March on Washington DC. As most of you probably know I participated in a sister march in Santa Ana with about 20,000 people in attendance. It was my first political protest and I was so proud to stand up for my beliefs and march with my fellow brothers and sisters in the hope of a better tomorrow. I was proud. Then I saw the messages of hate on Facebook and news articles and I was discouraged that so many people didn't understand why we were marching. So if it's okay with you I'd like to address some of the questions and statements I saw in regards to the Women's March though this article puts things much more eloquently than I ever could.

What are you even marching for? Women have the same rights as men.

You're not wrong...

Women legally have the same rights as men. We all have the right to vote. We have the right own property, the right to bear arms, and many other constitutional rights that we share. But that does not mean we are equal. The gender pay gap is not a myth and I believe women should have the right to equal pay for doing equal work. We currently have the right to safe and legal abortions if that is our choice, but Trump has already declared his intention to repeal Roe vs. Wade so we no longer have that right. Rape and sexual assault are illegal in this country, but that doesn't stop it from happening to one out of every four women. In America a woman is raped every two minutes. Why? Because what's stopping them? Not our justice system, that's for sure. Look at Brock Turner who was caught in the act, given a light sentence, and then didn't even complete the minimum time of that sentence. And that's just one story.

...But you're not right either.

In addition to the above rights for women, we also marched for equality for everyone, yes even Trump supporters, even if they didn't want us to. One of the most common signs I saw at the march I attended as well as photos I saw from the many marches around the world said something like this:

Women's Rights are Human Rights
Climate Change is Real
Immigrants make America Great
Black Lives Matter
Love is Love

This sign easily sums up everything that we were marching for. We were marching for equal rights for all people. Trump's campaign threatened the lives of many marginalized groups and that was who we marched for, regardless of whether we were in those marginalized groups or not. 

Trump has only been president for one day, what are you so mad about?

One thing I keep seeing constantly from Republicans is the sentiment that Trump is now our president and there is nothing we can do about it, so we just have to get over it and respect the position he holds. Here's the thing, we do respect the position he holds, we just don't respect the man himself, and can you blame us? He has given us no reason to. He does not take the position he holds seriously as his Twitter account confirms.

I think you guys think we want Trump to fail. You couldn't be further from the truth. We DESPERATELY want him to succeed in making positive changes for every American. We just don't expect him to. He has had a lot of chances to prove that he is going to work on behalf of all Americans and he's thrown away every one of them. His response to the over 3 million women and men who marched in the name of equality? Where were these people in November? Why didn't they vote? Um...we did, which was why Hillary won the popular vote by 3 million votes. That's all he had to say about it. Not, "I see you. I hear you. I promise I will fight for you." Do you understand? This is why so many are disheartened heading into these next four years. We have a president who refuses to acknowledge us even after we managed the largest demonstration in US history.

Respect is earned and so far, Donald Trump hasn't done much to earn mine. In his first days in office the Trump administration has removed the climate change page from the White House website as well as removing health care, civil rights, and LGBT sections. In the first White House press conference of his presidency, his press secretary lied to the American people, and about the crowd size at his inauguration of all things. Then the counselor to the president defended the lie calling it instead an "alternative fact." And we are only a few days into his presidency...

Why do you want to kill babies!?

This is something I would love to have a conversation with you about if you are interested. Here is what I want you to understand. Pro-choice individuals aren't fighting because they want to kill babies, they are fighting for their right to choose. If a man gets a woman pregnant, he can walk away from that pregnancy and not look back. Access to safe and legal abortions is the equivalent of that same right for women. Now, for my own personal safe, I tend to lean pro-life. I'd like to think that if for some reason I had an unwanted pregnancy I would carry to term and give the child up for adoption. However, I can't say for sure that if I was raped I would ever want to see that child. This is why I think that each woman has a right to make the best choice for herself.

Why are you even bothering protesting? It's not going to do anything.

You're right. Protests don't change laws, but they may change hearts or minds. A protest is a way to show unity against injustice. It's to make a statement and regardless of how you feel about the Women's Marches I think we did at least make a statement. The reason we bothered protesting was because we believe in equality and we wanted to stand together to show the new administration that we are not going to let them take our rights away without a fight.

Contrary to our name, our country is not united. We are a people at war. This is a virtual war with insults slung at both sides, propaganda, false news, bigotry, aggression, intolerance, fear, and hate. It is our job as American citizens, no, as human beings, to find a common ground in which we can stand together. I know how difficult a task this is. I feel sick inside when I read some of the hate-filled messages I see on Facebook and Twitter as well as comments on news articles. I'm sure you feel the same way about some of the things you read. If we don't want to see a civil war in our lifetime, we are going to have to push past that gut instinct to yell at each other that we're right and you're wrong. We're going to have to have real discussions. Hard discussions. I think if we do this we'll find that we have more in common than we realized. It's not going to be easy and I know at times we're going to want to throw our hands up in the air and wash our hands of it all, but we can't. Our country and our freedoms and our lives are too important.

So here I am. I want to have a discussion with you. Ask me questions. Tell me your concerns. Tell me why you voted for Trump. Try to make me understand. I will do the same for you and hopefully we can find some common ground to stand on. Hopefully we can start healing the wounds of this country one mutually respectful conversation at a time. Instead of throwing insults at each other, let's throw questions. Let's throw concerns. Let's show what it means to be a part of the UNITED States of America.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Morning After

Contrary to what you probably think, I don't really care much about politics. Whenever an election rolls around again I pay closer attention and try to be informed before I cast my vote. This election cycle was different. For me, there was a very clear villain and I did everything in my power to speak out against him. I did not succeed. I have a lot of muddled thoughts this morning and I want to try and write them as eloquently as I can. Forgive me if I fail.

To my Hillary-supporting, like-minded, democratic friends: This blows. It does. It can't be denied. We are allowed to grieve. Take all the time you need. Cry. Eat. Punch a pillow. Do what you have to do, but once we've grieved we need to pull ourselves together and continue to fight the good fight. This election wasn't about Trump or Hillary or Bernie or any other politician for that matter. This election was about the American people. This country is divided. The only way to combat that is to be the best persons we can be. We will continue to show love to Muslims, immigrants, people of color, women, LGBTQ, and (heaven forbid) even Trump supporters. We need to lead by example and show America and the world that love trumps hate, every time.

I know that most of my fellow democrats are non-religious and that's totally cool, I respect you and understand why you feel that way, but I do want to share one religious thing, if you'll allow me. There is a song called They'll Know We are Christians by Our Love, and that song has always meant a lot to me, but it means more to me today than usual. I know the word "Christian" has a lot of negative connotation attached to it these days, and I get it, believe me. But the type of Christian, the type of person I want to be is really at the heart of this song. Take a look and I think you'll agree with me:

We are one in the Spirit,
we are one in the Lord, 
We are one in the Spirit
we are one in the Lord,
And we pray that all unity
may one day be restored:

And they'll know we are Christians
By our love, by our love,
Yes, they'll know we are Christians
By our love.

We will walk with each other
we will walk hand in hand
we will walk with each other
we will walk hand in hand
and together we'll spread the news
that God is in our land:

And they'll know we are Christians
By our love, by our love,
Yes, they'll know we are Christians
By our love.

We will work with each other
we will work side by side
We will work with each other
We will work side by side
And we'll guard each man's dignity
and save each man's pride:

And they'll know we are Christians
By our love, by our love
Yes, they'll know we are Christians
By our love.

All Praise to the Father
from whom all things come,
And all praise to Christ Jesus
His only Son, 
and all praise to the Spirit
who makes us all one:

And they'll know we are Christians
By our love, by our love
Yes, They'll know we are Christians
By our love.

Yes. We lost this battle, but there is still a war tearing this country apart and that has to be our focus. Let's show them what Love Trumps Hate really means.

To the Trump Supporters: Congratulations. I am glad you are happy your candidate won and I hope and pray that Trump will make some positive changes for this country. I would like to ask a favor of you. Please stop laughing at those of us who are grieving and devastated today. What I want you to understand is that we are grieving not because our candidate lost, but because we are scared. A man who has been sexually abusive to women, racist towards blacks and latinos, aggressive towards Muslims and immigrants, and derogatory toward LGBTQ has just won the highest seat of power in this country. I do not understand why you voted for him. I'm sure you had your reasons, but please stop laughing at us. Stop being smug and condescending. Let us grieve.

To the Bernie Bros: You may have just swayed the entire election in Trumps's favor. I doubt that's what you wanted, but here we are. I love Bernie too, guys. I voted for him in the primaries, but when Hillary won the nomination I threw my support to her. The only outcome I wanted from this election was to not have Trump in the Oval Office. Hillary was my chance to stop that from happening. She was your chance and you blew it. I have no patience for you guys getting on Facebook and Twitter and saying "You should have listened." No. YOU should have listened. And you know who you should have listened to? Bernie Sanders.

To the third party voters: I get it. You have to vote with your conscious. I admire you for standing up for your beliefs and fighting for the candidate you think is best suited for the job. I know the two party system sucks and that your candidate didn't stand a chance, but you voted for them anyway. Was it worth it? That is a question you are going to have to ask yourself and answer during these next four years.

To Hillary Clinton: I am so proud of you. During this joke of an election you always stood tall, held your ground, and fought for us. Thank you. Thank you for your work and I hope you will continue to fight for what is right and that we'll see you again in 2020. You have been a model of hope for Americans everywhere. Thank you for conducting yourself like a true presidential candidate. Thank you for being informed and aware and for listening to the needs of real American people. Thank you for fighting till the bitter end. We will follow your example and we will move forward and live to fight another day.

To Donald Trump: I don't care if you did win the presidency. That position does not automatically give you respect. You have to earn it, and to be honest, I don't have high hopes that you will earn mine. However, I am going to give you a chance to prove that you aren't the sexist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, bigot that I'm pretty sure you are. It's going to take a lot of work on your part to convince me. I hope you take this position seriously. I hope you listen to the American people (ALL of the American people) and fight like hell to help unite this country. I don't think you will, but I hope you prove me wrong.

The election is over and now we all have to live with the choices we and others have made. I'm not going to lie. I'm scared. I'm really scared. I was talking to my mom earlier and crying and telling her I was scared. When she asked me why I said, "Because Trump is exhibiting deplorable behaviors and half the country voted for him. I'm afraid that because he won people are going to think these behaviors are ok because our president is doing them." I started googling self-defense classes this morning because as a woman I am afraid. I always thought that the majority of people in this country were good people and treated others with respect. When I saw how half the people in this country voted, it became a lot harder for me to assume people are inherently good and we just have a few bad seeds. HALF OF OUR COUNTRY VOTED FOR TRUMP. Now, I'm not saying that all Trump supporters are sexists or racists or homophobes, etc. But whether or not they are, they voted for a man who is clearly all of these things, which is why this morning half of the country is crying and shaking in fear.

Just this morning I've seen a teacher talk about how her second-graders today were worried that they would be forced to leave the country and go back to a country that would have them killed. I've seen a friend questioning whether or not his recent marriage was even going to be valid that much longer. I've seen friends in foreign countries relaying the messages of disbelief and fear from around the world. Like me, I've seen women scared to have their rights taken away and feeling the need to learn to defend ourselves. I've seen a tweet from a Muslim mother telling her daughter not to wear her hijab for fear of her getting killed. I've seen a tweet from a mother telling her lesbian daughter not to tell anyone she likes girls for the same reason.

This is the country we are living in today. We are going to have to try and push past this fear in order to fight for the unity this country so desperately needs. This is not how America is supposed to be. America is supposed to be the melting pot. A place where everyone can feel safe and free and not have to hide. I hope I get to see that America one day, but it is going to take a lot of work for us to get there.

Last week in church my pastor told a story about an American bomber pilot who crashed outside a French village. The villagers went out in the dead of night to retrieve him and they cared for him until he died. After he died they went to the priest and asked him if they could bury this American pilot in the church cemetery. The priest said no. He's not from our village. He's not from our country. He's not a member of our church. He's Protestant according to his dog tag. You can't bury him here. So they buried him just outside the fence of the cemetery, but the next day they saw that he was now inside the grounds because the caretaker had moved the fence out so that he would be inside the grounds. My pastor then continued by saying that in 2016 it's not enough for us to just move the fence. Now is the time for us to take down the fence. I couldn't agree more. We need to stop building walls and barriers between us. We need to stop making everything US versus THEM. We need to start listening to each other and being there for each other despite our differences.

Trump can build his wall, but I'm going to tear down fences.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Love Story

Most of you know that I am very romantically inexperienced. And by inexperienced, I mean seriously naive. I've made mention of this in a previous post and if you've seen the movie Never Been Kissed with Drew Barrymore then you have a bit of an idea about my romantic experience. To sum it up: I'm 26 years old. I've never been on a date, never had a boyfriend, and never been kissed. For a long time that was really hard for me to deal with. I didn't understand why I was so unlovable. With time, I cared less and less. I didn't need a man to prove I had worth. Let's be real. I'm pretty freaking awesome. I know this and that's really all that matters. I'm a very happy person and I love myself regardless of what anyone else thinks. I've got flaws. Lots of them. But I love myself anyway. I know my good traits far outweigh my bad traits. So yeah, I don't need a man to know I have worth, but it's never stopped me from wanting to find a special guy to recognize that worth as well.

I started trying out dating sites a few years ago, and was kind of embarrassed about it, but at the same time, I felt like I'd run out of options. Clearly conventional means weren't working for me. I did Match.com and OkCupid for a while and nothing came of it. Around October last year I joined eHarmony after hearing a success story from a couple of my really good friends. I had pretty much the same luck as I did with every other dating site but on an even grander scale. eHarmony would send me new matches every day and if I didn't get to looking at them for a while they all piled up. At one point I reached over 800 matches and I had to turn off getting new ones. It's really overwhelming sitting there and going through hundreds of profiles, let me tell you.

Back in May a couple of my friends and I used the huge amount of downtime we had during a shift at work to sort through some of my eHarmony matches. In two days we had sent off 70 messages and deleted about 300 profiles. Sorting through it with my friends made the process more fun and we were able to get rid of a huge chunk of my extensive match-pool. Of those 70 messages we sent out, I got one reply. It was from a guy named Fletcher.

We went through eHarmony's steps of "guided communication" before we started having regular conversations. He told me that we started communicating at a really unfortunate time because he was heading out of town for the summer and wouldn't be back until early September. I was bummed, but we kept chatting anyway. For about a month we emailed back and forth probably once a day or every other. The more we talked the more we discovered how much we have in common and the more I liked him. He's incredibly smart, funny, charming, witty, and the sweetest guy I've (n)ever met. After a month went by we started emailing more frequently, multiple times a day, and I could tell he was falling for me too.

A couple weeks ago we decided to move to some form of instant communication and we started talking on Google chat. We basically haven't stopped talking since then. The entire time we've been communicating our conversations have been completely open and honest with each other, even when we have a difficult topic we need to discuss. About a week ago after working through one of those difficult conversations we did the unthinkable. We said "I love you," on Google chat, and with never having met or (at that point) spoken to each other.

I know what you're thinking. That's insane! You can't fall in love with a stranger on the internet! Believe me, I didn't think it was possible either. For a while I was thinking I was crazy for moving so fast. Part of me still thinks it is a little crazy, but the more I talked to my friends about it, the less crazy it seemed. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that love is like sugar cookies. Stay with me for a minute...

When you make sugar cookies you can change up the ingredients you use a bit. You can make them gluten free, you can make them without eggs, you can make them with vanilla extract or almond extract, you can even make sugar cookies with no sugar. There are tons of different options and combinations for you to choose from. Once you have your dough rolled out you can make a million different shapes from the classic round cookie to holiday shapes to animals to hearts and so much more. You can do whatever you want. Once you've baked your assortment of cookie shapes you can top them with sugar dust or frosting or sprinkles or candies. There are billions of combinations you can make when it comes to making a sugar cookie, but you know what? In the end, regardless of how you made it, it's still a sugar cookie.

That's how I feel about love. There is no instruction manual for falling in love. It doesn't always happen as boy meets girl, boy asks girl out, they kiss, fall in love, get married, and have babies. Yeah, that's one way it happens, but it sure as hell isn't the only way. For one thing, sometimes boys like boys and girls like girls. That's love. Sometimes two people are friends for years and years and they never thought about each other romantically, but then one day that all changes. That's love. Sometimes they know after one date. That's love. Sometimes people fall in love with someone 10 years older than them, or 15 or 20. That's love. Sometimes people fall in love and don't want to get married and have babies. That's love too! Marriage and babies aren't a requirement for love! There is no one size fits all recipe for love! As Lin Manuel Miranda put so eloquently in his acceptance speech "Love is love is love is love is love is love is love."

So here's the truth. I'm in love with a guy who is 9 years older than me, who I've never met in person, and who I've only been talking to for 2 months. My love story is not any less significant than any other person's love story. It's different, but it's still real, and it's mine. I shouldn't have to hide my love story for fear of people's judgments. So tonight, on our two-month anniversary, we are announcing our love to the world, knowing full well how crazy it may seem. We don't care. We're happy, we're in love, and we're excited to see where this relationship goes. We both know it may not end the way we want it to, but we're just happy to enjoy what we've got right here, right now.

Being in love is an amazing feeling, and no one should feel like they have to hide it. I don't know if you've noticed, but this world could use a lot more love in it. Now, it has ours.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Let There Be Peace on Earth

I was supposed to get this up yesterday, but I failed. Guess I'm a day late and a dollar short. Oh well.

Sunday at church we had a beautiful service to celebrate our nation's independence. It was full of wonderful music that really made me feel a love for my country that I haven't felt in a while. Our country is struggling right now. I kind of feel like a parent watching my rebellious teenager acting out and not being able to do anything about it and wondering when they are going to grow out of this phase. It makes sense because America really is a teenager in comparison to other countries. We are still really young and we're still trying to figure out how to become the best country we can be. I hope we'll get there one day, but I know it's not going to be soon.

There is so much negativity in our country, in our world. It hurts every time I see another shooting, another rape, another senseless murder. It weighs very heavily on me at times and I'm sure a lot of my recent Facebook posts reflect that. This election cycle in particular is really bringing out the worst in everyone, including me. But on Sunday while I was sitting in that pew I realized, for every bad person I hear about in the news, there are five good ones in the shadows who I've never heard of. Most of the people in this world go about their lives adding positivity and happiness to the people around them without a big fanfare. There are some genuinely good people in this world, and sometimes I need to remind myself of that.

The last song we sang in that service was "Let There Be Peace on Earth." If you haven't heard it, I've attached a link at the bottom of this post. This is a beautiful song and it was just the reminder I needed. A world in turmoil is going to stay that way unless every individual does their best to change it. I really do want there to be peace on Earth one day, and I'm going to do my own small part to do what I can. I want to be the person who radiates positivity wherever I go. I want to change people's lives simply by being kind, caring, and understanding. I want to accept every person for who they are regardless of their race, sexual orientation, religion, gender, or age. I may not always succeed, but that's not going to stop me from trying. Regardless of your spiritual preferences or non-preferences I think that's something we can all agree on. Happy Independence Day.

Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step i take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
With peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Pray for Paris

I'm a Facebook junkie. I'll freely admit it. And if you are anything like me, you'll often come across something on your newsfeed that you disagree with. Facebook and all social media platforms are full of controversy. They thrive on it. It's how they survive. I have perfected the art of ignoring and scrolling down whenever I see something that contradicts my own beliefs. I try not to get involved in comment wars over differences in opinion. We're all human. We're all allowed to have different opinions, and we're all allowed to share those opinions on whatever platform we choose. Today is different. This morning I saw something that made me stop short. On this, I cannot remain silent.

We are all mourning for the lives lost in the attacks throughout Paris. I know because my Facebook has exploded with pictures and posts and hashtags of support for our allies. Every person has their own way of expressing their love to Paris. I was feeling nothing but love and unity and support while I was scrolling, until I ran across this picture.

I'm not offended easily. I always try to take a step back and think about where a person is coming from. I don't always succeed at being open-minded, but I try. This is easily the most offensive thing I have ever seen on Facebook. Regardless of how you feel about prayer or religion or God, you should not tell other people how to deal with this tragedy. Especially not one day after the events. That is not tactful. That is not compassionate. And if I'm being honest, that is not ok.

For who knows what reason, I decided to look at the comments on this picture. I suppose I was looking for someone to say what I was feeling so I could like it, and move on. No one did. In fact, because the picture wasn't bad enough, I found this:

I pulled this from the Eagles of Death Metal FB page under the comments section stating the band and crew were safe, couldn't agree more:

"Until we eradicate ALL religion from our lives, our species will NEVER be truly free, and we will continue to enjoy human beings slaughtering their fellow human beings over nothing more than whose intellectually and morally offensive, primitive, fear-based fairy tales are the only "true" fairy tales (and which therefore allegedly justify such subhuman behavior). Condolences to all involved; hopefully our species will soon realize that here in the 21st Century, we no longer need religion -- and the type of knuckle-dragging bigotry and barbarism it promotes and justifies -- any more. "

Guys. I have nothing against atheists. I have many atheist friends including some of the people I love the most in this world. We respect each others beliefs and opinions and we discuss them openly. So, please correct me if I am wrong here. I get why many atheists hate religion. There is a lot of hypocrisy, bigotry, and violence in the name of God(s). From what I understand many atheists have problems with religion because of their intolerance on a myriad of issues. 

To me, that comment is intolerant of those of us who are religious. Religious people do not hold a monopoly on hypocrisy, bigotry, violence, or intolerance. In my opinion whoever wrote that comment is not being very open-minded. They may not need religion, but that doesn't mean that no one does. Every person on this planet is an individual and it is their right to decide how to live their life. We need to stop generalizing and grouping people together based on one category of their lives. We are all guilty of it, including me, and it needs to stop. 

What I am coming to understand is that just like there are religious extremists who give all religions a bad name, there are atheistic extremists who give atheism a bad name. I would never tell one of my non-religious friends exactly how to deal (or not deal) with this tragedy. They are allowed to grieve in their own way. Please allow me to grieve in mine. So regardless of how anyone else feels about it, I will pray that the violence and intolerance of this world will one day come to an end. I will pray that one day we will all be able to live together in harmony. I will pray for Paris.

I apologize if this post offends anyone. I tried to keep it as open-minded and non-biased as I could. If you want to discuss it with me, I am happy to have a conversation with you about it. I do ask that we try to avoid negativity and talk about things rationally and respectfully. Thanks for reading.