A Plea Regarding Sharks

Image via Mashable



I want you to think back to a time when someone ridiculed you because of a fear you had, (or still have.)  Perhaps it was a fear of flying.  A fear of spiders.  A fear of heights. A fear of small spaces.  A fear that something might happen to your children.  How did it make you feel, to have someone minimize what you felt was a legitimate fear?  Not too great, I’d imagine.

I’m sure Facebook has made you aware of the number of shark attacks that have happened off the coast of North Carolina this summer.  Last year, there was a reported total of 4 shark attacks in North Carolina in 2014.  This summer, seven 8* occurred in less than a month.  The first two were explained away, but as the attacks began trending southward and more violent, I began to get worried.  (Even scientists are all WTF!?!)  You see, we’re getting ready to head down to Emerald Isle, in the Southern Outer Banks, soon.  The 7th and most recent attack at Ocracoke is only about two hours away, and that is when I declared that there would be no swimming in the ocean this year.  While that will make our vacation a little less fun, (and peeing in the ocean inifinitely more difficult**) I feel that a shark taking a chomp out of me or my family would really put a damper on things.

Apparently, I’m a ridiculous human being.
Once news of the shark attacks began circulating on social media, several people fought to stem the tide of panic in the only way social media could: infographics.  Although I don’t typically frolic with cows, I have been informed that I’m statistically more likely to have death by cow.  And, honestly, the next person who says I’m more likely to be struck by lightning is going to get punched in the throat.  I’m pretty sure that the last gentleman to be attacked stood out past the breakers, saying to himself, I’m more likely to be struck by liiiiiiiaaaauuuuuuugh argh bargh thrash splash haaaaaaaaaaaalp!  That’s the thing about statistics- statistically unlikely doesn’t mean there’s a 0% chance.  And people are paranoid, only until it happens to them.  I don’t need to get in the ocean that badly; I don’t need to take that risk.

We then turn to the newest infographic in circulation, which treats fear of shark attack/unwillingness to swim in the ocean as a character issue.


While I understand that it is using the shark attacks to draw attention to violence against women, it’s also creating a straw man which trivializes fear of a shark attack.  Believe me, this ball of anxiety is perfectly capable of multi-tasking.  I can focus on more than one fear at a time.

Getting to the Point
Ultimately, what I’m trying to say is that those of you who say that my fear is irrational, (which was said to me at a wedding two weeks ago) and post these infographic responses, (because apparently being irrational also means I’m dumb and need to see a pretty picture to understand?) are kind of being assholes.  If you feel comfortable swimming in the ocean this summer, then go for it!  I’m certainly not going to judge you for deciding that the risk is low and reasonable.  May the wind be ever at your back, may sharks prefer bait fish to you, and live every week like it’s Shark Week.

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But, please, let the rest of us have our fear and respect for these great and creepy creatures.

Side note: Don’t tell me those motherfuckers aren’t creepy.  You know when you’re looking at them swim in aquariums, those cold, dead eyes are looking at you, thinking, I own you, motherfucker! in their creepy Vincent Price voices.

If you’ll allow me, sharks don’t swim in my kitchen so, this year, I’m going to stay out of theirs.  I know that sharks are wild animals who are mostly peaceful and usually bite out of curiosity.  And, sometimes, some sharks behave like assholes.

*Mike just told me an 8th attack occurred Saturday in Surf City, which is even closer to Emerald Isle.

**Anyone going, Ewwwww! You pee in the ocean?– You’ve done it too and you know it!  And if you deny it, you’re a lying liar.

 

A Little Less Close to Fine

 Image source

Today, June 26, 2015, will henceforth be known as the day the Supreme Court of the United States dropped a massive glitter bomb, which exploded all over America.  In a 5-4 decision, the Justices declared that gay couples are entitled to equal protection under the law and may now marry in any of these United States.  The LGBT community and its allies across the nation are celebrating with tears of joy, parades, (tomorrow) Facebook posts, and GIFable videos with confetti.

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While I’m happy for gay couples everywhere, it makes me wonder if anyone has taken a moment during their revelry to think about the rest of us. Does anyone realize how much this ruling turns our worlds upside down?  “Who’s ‘us’ and ‘our’?”, you ask.  Why, straight people, of course.  A cornucopia of choices has been released from a heteronormative Pandora’s box. Single ladies unable to find a man may choose to switch their sexual preference to other single ladies in hopes of putting a ring on it.  Committed and loving straight couples will abandon their marriages now that they have options.

I wonder why they didn’t think of the children?  I hope everyone is prepared for all the Sarah McLachlan commercials with which we will now be inundated. With the dramatic increase of the birth rate that gay marriage will bring, so many children will need loving homes.  And as marriage is nothing more than an institution for procreation, we will now need to fear for the future of our species, as birth rates will begin to plunge.  SCOTUS clearly didn’t think this through.  Children’s mental well-being and sense of stability will simply vanish.  While science clearly shows us that children thrive in orphanages and being bounced from foster home to foster home, now that gay “marriage” is allowed, these children will be forced into so-called loving and stable homes.  Addtionally, these children, who were once straight, will be converted to homosexuality with more exposure to same-sex couples.

I’m sorry to say that I know all of this to be true from experience.  As this blog is entitled, Julie, Unfiltered, I feel a duty to be honest in how this Supreme Court decision affects my family and I. Beginning today, Mike and I will move to end our marriage.  In the wake of today’s decision, our loving and committed relationship has been rendered meaningless.  I intend to marry our cat, Miss Andry.  We know that getting the law to recognize our love will be an uphill battle, but we feel today’s Court decision has paved the way and will make our journey a little less bumpy.  In our spare time, we plan to tour with the Indigo Girls.

I Will Survive.  Hey…..  Hey. 

Life is chaotic right now. I spent half a day scheduling all manner of doctor appointments- pain management, endocrinologist, occupational therapy, etc. 

Rachael was tested for ADHD. The test results weren’t totally conclusive.  She’s basically on the cusp, but they want to rule out, (or in) fine motor control issues, masquerading as an attention deficit, before a final diagnosis is made. 

Meanwhile, Zoë’s behavior has regressed at home and at preschool. I finally broke down and bought books on how to parent “spirited” children.  Don’t you just the PC term for “They’ve lost their fucking minds!”  Family therapy is also on the table. We need to figure out how discipline her with results and how to function better as a family unit.  

Then there’s the kitchen. I’ve been wanting to give it a face lift for a long time. I won’t go into the sordid details; suffice it to say, Mike and I have been engaged in a war of attrition, alternating with detente.  A peace accord has been signed, giving me the rights to paint our cabinets, and putting the ugly Formica countertops off for now. 

So I’ll probably be absent for a little while, but I haven’t forgotten about all of you. Have this meme I created from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt until then. 

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

I’m cleaning up the vomit from Christmas fever

We’re back home after our visit with Mike’s family. We managed to pull off a magical Christmas for the girls, which is amazing, considering that we accidentally left half their presents at home. We didn’t want the only things Rachael had to open/be from Santa were books and a coral growing set, so Mike and I upheld his family’s long-standing tradition of going out on Christmas Eve to buy last minute presents. I felt horrible, being a reason for someone having to work; I made sure to profusely thank the woman who rang us up at the toy store.

Of course, my ever precocious Rachael said that she already had the best present she could ever ask for: her family. That, coupled with the genuine gratefulness of our children on Christmas morning, just made Mike and I fill with joy and feel like we forgot the rest of the toy store to give to them. We. Are. Suckers.
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How do you say no to that?

Zoë won Christmas, getting a pretend makeup set and a letter W. Why W? We have no idea. She’s extremely attached to the letters of her name and the letter W. When she opened the W her grandparents gave to her, it was like those videos where kids find out they’re going to Disney World.
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Much more subdued Zoë, as she succumbed to her cold.

As for her pretend makeup set, Zoë immediately put it to good use, giving everyone makeovers.
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I make Pa Pa pretty.

Anyway, real posts are in the hopper, including spiced fudge and a gingerbread TARDIS. And I hope everyone else’s holidays were as wonderful and magical as a 3 year old receiving her W.

The happiest place on earth is not an airplane bathroom

I’m on a plaaaaaaane!

Nope. Not nearly the same ring to it as “I’m on a boat”. Nevertheless, that is where I am as I write this. It’s been about 7 years since I last flew. Mike and I are flying to Orlando for a workcation. He has a tech conference for work that requires him to sit through David Blaine. Bwahahahahaha! I, meanwhile, will get to sleep in. Get a massage. Wander around aimlessly. Judge the horrible people at the resort’s beach.* Blog poolside with a drink from the poolside bar. Decide I’d rather blog on my balcony with a drink from the poolside bar.*
Either the planes have gotten a bit smaller or I’ve gotten way bigger. I think the answer to both is “yes”. My seatbelt buckle is comfortably located beneath my left wrist. My trip to the lav was harrowing. I was lured into a false sense of serenity by the futuristic, neon blue light. (I wouldn’t last a fucking minute as a bug. BSZZZZZZT!!!!!! ) Once I trapped myself inside, the blue light disappeared and I saw the mile high toilet for what it really was: A TOILET FOR ANTS! (/Zoolander) Believe me, I know I’m not a small girl, but damn! I sat myself down, and that’s when it happened. Turbulence. Apparently I am not the sort to pee myself while I slightly freak out. I froze like a deer and stared at the various stick figure signs. After a few seconds, I was able to summon the courage to pee while bouncing like a lottery ball. Once finished, I flushed the toilet. Like ya do. There was a delay and then WHOOOOSHROOOOOOAAAAAAARSSSSSSUUUUUUUUUUUWAAAAAAAAH

The gremlin that lives on the wing of the plane came up through the toilet, reached its scraggly claws through my ears, grabbed onto the auditory processing centers of my brain, bungee jumped back out of my ears, cut the cord and evil-squeaked, heHEE as he flushed himself back down the toilet. I stood in shock, looking at myself in the mirror, and then exited. And there was that fucking blue light again.

The moral of the story is:
Don’t drink before your flight to relax your nerves. You will need to pee.

*So I may have added on to this post the next day because I was too traumatized by my flight.

How I felt about the How I Met Your Mother finale

 

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It’s finally over. Last night, one of my favorite shows of all time took its final bow and left the stage darkened with characters and a story that can only be described as legen…wait for it…DARY. LEGENDARY! I settled in with my box of tissues, somewhat against my will. I considered making like Robin and locking myself in Marshall and Lily’s suburban bathroom, because then, it couldn’t possibly be over. Even though the 9th and final season has been somewhat of a disaster, (and I knew it was time for it to be over) I had trust and confidence that the end of the story wouldn’t let me down.

Holy shit, was I wrong! My reaction to the finale can be best described with the following…

JULIE SMASH!

 

Spoilers and HIMYM references abound below

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were things I loved and things I hated about the finale. Ultimately, though, I was left ugly crying because I was so upset with how the series ended. (Please don’t judge me.) I think whether or not you liked the finale depended upon whether or not you were Team Ted & Robin or, Tebin. Rob-ed. Mosbatsky? SCHERMOSB! Anyway, I was never Team Schermosb. I never entirely understood why he adored her so much. Sure, as a person she’s great, but they suck as a couple. They don’t really have anything in common, a point that is made continuously throughout the series. While they’re friends, she thinks he’s a major dork. Major Dork! I almost feel like it’s cheating. Now that Robin’s had a chance to have her career and Ted has the kids she never wanted to have, they’re free to be together now. Oh, and by the way, we had to destroy Robin and Barney’s marriage and kill off Ted’s wife, Tracy, to make it happen. And now, after an appropriate number of years, Ted can plow Robin like a cornfield.

Today, I re-watched the finale so I wouldn’t be relying totally on my emotional, snot-covered memory. And I made a list.

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Emotional roller coaster

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They did it! They finally pulled their shit together and managed their happily ever after! JUST KIDDING! Within 10 minutes of basking in the glow of their reception, Barney and Robin are having marital troubles and they’re divorced. Then there’s Tracy’s death. They alluded to her illness a few episodes ago, so I wasn’t shocked when she ended up dying. However, I was completely nauseated the way the writers just glossed over her death. While I suppose it makes some amount of sense to not completely delve into it, (after all, the kids already lived that. They don’t need it rehashed) it’s not very fair to the rest of us. We never had a chance to grieve her loss and recover. And then, to suddenly pivot from, Hey, Tracy died, to You still love Robin!…how are we, as an audience, supposed to handle that? The kids are apparently so well-adjusted that they’re totally fine with their dad telling them the story about how he’s obviously still in love with Aunt Robin. Boo! I don’t buy it. I just don’t see teenagers, whose mother died in their formative years, being totally cool with their dad not only asking their permission to bang her, (I said bang bang bangitty bang) but that he’s never really stopped loving Robin. As a fan, I felt betrayed because Ted tells his parents in the 2nd season that he’s going to tell his kids the story of how he meets their mother. This was a matter of principle. Not a vehicle by which to tell his kids about some other woman.

Through the lens of the story really being about Robin, I can understand why the season finale revolved around Robin. But why the fuck did it have to revolve around Robin? We’ve invested so much time in other characters and their journeys. I felt like Marshall and Lily got the, And here are some people, treatment. We don’t even get to see their kids, nor Barney’s daughter after their initial meeting. I understand why Robin had no interest in being around her womanizing ex husband and the man she realized she should have snatched up long ago, but what about her friendship with Lily? Yes, friendships evolve. But Robin might as well have left Lily a break up letter that said, Peace out, bee-yatch!

I was also bothered by the character regressions. We spent nine years watching Barney, Ted, and Robin grow and change. And within 20 minutes, they had all completely regressed. Barney’s all, If I couldn’t make it work, without really even trying, with someone who was just as selfish as me, then being a creepy old man is my next best option. Ted went back to being a starry-eyed fool over a woman. Luckily for him, this one actually worked out. And Robin, for all the emotional progress she made, chose to refuse to deal with shit and run away from her problems. I’m not saying she shouldn’t have had a fulfilling career, but that’s not what was going on there.

I know the following may sound stupid, but it probably makes sense for someone who didn’t understand how it’s snooty of Ted to point out spelling mistakes in a menu. Continuity errors! How HOW do you get the continuity of things so wrong in your own show? Lily’s hair is long when past episodes have it short. According to the episode where the guys watch the Trilogy every three years, Ted’s supposed to have a wedding ring to go along with that baby girl in 2015. Maybe it was supposed to show how much Ted had calmed down and stopped idealizing life, but I really don’t understand how they couldn’t make it work to have Ted and Tracy married within the 7 years after they met.

Overall, I was left feeling rushed. Season 9 shouldn’t have been the weekend before Robin and Barney’s wedding. We shouldn’t have had to endure a multi-episode arc of Marshall trying to make it to Farhampton. Season 9 should have been fleshed out and given everyone’s stories more time for closure.

Now that we’ve covered the ugly, let’s look at the good.
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Image credit

I didn’t want the entire post about the finale to be negative. There were some things I did love. I love the call backs to inside or running jokes for the fans: high fives; grape scotch; Halloween costumes; Marshall’s puns; Jim Nantz; Robots vs. Wrestlers; the Cockamouse!
I loved Ted’s interaction with his daughter, Penny, when she was a little girl. I loved how she was a little Ted.
I liked the conversation Ted and Tracy had under the yellow umbrella where they first met, (which is where the show should have ended!)
If, in the end, it had to be Robin, I’m glad for the blue French horn. That, at least, was honest.
I was happy for the evolution that was coaxed back out of Barney with the birth of his daughter, Ellie. The scene where he meets his daughter evoked my first ugly cry of the evening. And it made me tear up again on the second watching.
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The feels!

The other reason I cried was that it was the end of an era. This cast would never play these characters again. This cast, who performed as Ted, Marshall, Lily, Barney, and Robin impeccably. All of my problems with the finale had to do with the writing and story decisions. But I have only good things to say about Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan, Neil Patrick Harris, and Cobie Smulders. I actually had a chance to see the group appear on Inside the Actor’s Studio the other night. It really drove home for me just how good these actors really are. During the finale, I was struck by how emotional and raw Alyson was. NPH revealed, once again, just how versatile and evocative an actor he is with Barney, a high functioning sociopath one moment and a heart of gold that leaves you disarmed and bawling the next. The chemistry between Josh Radnor and the amazing Cristin Milioti was warm and comforting. Not once did I question that these two belonged together. While Cristin played quirky flawlessly, she was not just a female Ted. I am still haunted by the talk with her first love who had passed on, followed by a bittersweet performance of La Vie en Rose. She and Ted were two puzzle pieces, meant to interlock and complete the picture.

 

A new meme to fight cancer

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American Cancer Society

Several years ago, I posted “black” as my Facebook status. Right along with everyone else, I was posting the color of my bra that day as part of a Facebook meme that was going around, which was meant to raise awareness of breast cancer.

In light of the current Facebook meme going around to “raise awareness” of breast cancer, I reflect on that and feel stupid. What on earth did posting my bra color accomplish in the fight to eradicate a disease which claims over 40,000 American lives each year? Last night, I was incensed by the current meme making the rounds. Someone posts something in their status like, I eat boogers or I’m pregnant. Once you like the status or excitedly congratulate who you think is a mother-to-be, you receive a message saying that you shouldn’t have liked or commented on their status because now you have to post something ridiculous from the list provided as your status. And it’s all to raise breast cancer awareness.

Guys. Seriously. Come on.

I had a hard time falling asleep last night, stewing about why it made me so angry. I realized it was because, to me, it felt like it trivialized such a devastating illness like cancer. I’m sure, like me several years ago, no harm was intended. But people need to know that it is harmful for some and doesn’t do any good for others.

It doesn’t help my father-in-law, for whom chemotherapy and radiation did not work, and is now buying time in his battle with prostate cancer.

It doesn’t help Mike’s uncle, who is thankfully in remission, after lymphoma attacked his body a second time.

It doesn’t help a young woman my age, who is struggling to take care of herself and her family, because the chemotherapy used to diminish her breast cancer makes her desperately ill.

It would not have helped a little girl, not much older than Rachael, who was taken much too soon.

It would not have helped my grandfather, who still died of lung cancer, even though he quit smoking once he learned that smoking was harmful.

It would not have helped my aunt, Donna, who was in incredible pain and rarely lucid as brain cancer took her.

So, rather than tricking others into believing you’re pregnant, I suggest a new meme.

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I just donated to the American Cancer Society with the hope that, someday, cancer will be cured and eradicated. Your turn.

It’s So Much More

Not only this, but when I tell people I have fibromyalgia, they look back at me blankly. So many people don’t even know what this syndrome is. And the people that do know what it is sometimes have to remind themselves that I’m not the same person they once knew.