Monday, August 11, 2014

Tiny Rewards

Today was a long, emotionally exhausting, multi-tasking without a break kind of day. Many loose ends did not get tied and I know I will have to get them done sometime tomorrow despite the fact that it is already a packed day. However, there were two phone conversations that brightened my day. So, I've decided to share them.

1. My mom- she sent me a hasty text the other day stating that after her beloved pooch passes (he has a brain tumor) that she will most likely be job hunting and moving. Now, this is unlike my mother. Of course we all like to dream that family will move close and whatnot, but I really thought she might be serious! So, we talked about life, love, and dogs. Joked about her moving in with my siblings in Milwaukee for the summer and then coming down to Phoenix for the winters. Hey, it would be an adventure!!! FInally the conversation ended with essentially slimming down on unneccessary expenses. Something that I kind of love- being thrifty. She mentioned ditching cable TV, her home phone, and living a little more frugal. Now, I am super lazy in the fact that I am 26 years old and my mom still has me on her family plan... and I usually forget to pay her because, hey, she has been paying for it for 10 years. I just found out she has been paying for a life insurance policy for me and my siblings that I didn't even know existed.... which I could definitely afford to pay, but have been just livin' the life of a kid who's mom has always taken care of her. 

At this point, I thought I really knew just the extent that she cared for us kids. But, dang, she has really got this mom thing down by even taking care of her adult children... who probably make more money than she does... and never even asks for a penny. How self-less? This just shows me one more thing that I need to live up to in order to be just as humble and loving of a person she is. Mom, you're one patient and dedicated person- thanks for taking care of me for the past 26 years... and probably some more in the future!

2. A past-client called me tonight. First, I thought it was a politician or something calling me from a weird number so I silenced it, hoping they would leave a voicemail if it was important. Nope. No voicemail, must not have been dire. Then I got another call from the same number... "Damn, what caseworker is calling me this late? Leave me alone while I roam the internet and veg out!" I admit I answered it a bit grumpily. But, it happened to be little Nia* who they wanted to transfer me to. "Sure!" We chatted about her new life and transitioning, missing people, and getting in the groove of the new structured environment. She brightened my day, because, you know, it is pretty important when a kid remembers you. Over the hundreds of people these kids meet in the "system" at least I stuck out, in a good way. Although Nia had her troubles- and let me tell you she has been one of the naughtiest- I still care about how she is doing. I still appreciate her reaching out to keep me updated, and hope that she knows she can use me as a reference, or just a mentor to talk to in tough times. Hopefully, she will continue to see the use in our relationship, but maybe someday she will use those wings I have helped her grow and not need me anymore. For now, it's nice to know that someone cares, and admires me for what I do and say. So thank you Nia for remembering and reassuring me in an unintentional way that I have touched someone's life. 

*Name changed for confidentiality

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Women Against Feminism (?!): A (hopefully educational) response

Unfortunately, I just viewed this page about Feminism on Buzzfeed and cannot get the images out of my mind. 

Please read this essay in a calm, professional voice (for those out there who may think I am "bitching" about feminism) as that is the way I intend it to be read.

Of course, as a feminist, it boggles my mind how people can be so uneducated when it comes to understanding women's rights. It seems so natural that everyone would want equality. I have purposely surrounded myself with social media that supports feminism and equality; however, in the real world, there are many people out there thinking that feminism is "the devil." Therefore, this post is to educate you on feminism:

First, please read this definition.'s%2520movement Focus on the word EQUALITY.... not supremacy which is what many of these people are mistakening feminism for. Women are currently socially and politically unequal due to our country's patriarchal values. Therefore, feminists are trying to gain equality though political and social justice movements.

The purpose of this piece is to explain to anti-feminists why feminists are passionate about making sure everyone is educated with facts on this subject. Backlash is not a new thing, but hopefully by reading up on the subject, the complicated world of feminism can be simplified for those who it may seem confusing for.

Secondly, you must understand that there are many different "types" of feminism. You see, there is lesbian feminism, chicano feminism, radical feminism, separatist feminism, black feminism, the list goes on (, please be understood that you may be referring to a certain type of feminism (most likely radical) which may have a completely different lens and motivation than a broader range of "feminism." OR the media and misogynists have skewed the definition of these types of feminisms which make them seem bad or scary in order to ward off the fight for equal power. (IE: patriarchal society values male power... would not want females to gain power... see?)
It makes me so sad to see these young women taking for granted all that feminism has earned for them. Yes, they can vote- Hooray! Question: Who in the world do you think earned them that right? Answer: Feminists. Voting wasn't always so, friends. For example, in 1870, black men were (finally) allowed to vote. 50, yes, fifty, years later in 1920, women secured the same right to vote. Ladies in the US haven't even been able to vote for 100 years. How can people forget that? The worst thing that one can do is to forget the past and take it all for granted. We are doomed to repeat it if we have forgotten. All these "rights" that women have nowadays weren't just magically given to us like they were granted to white men by default. Women had to rally, fight, and picket their way through a patriarchal world that systematically disadvantages both men and women.  

Look at where we are over one hundred years later, still earning 70-80 cents per a (white) man's dollar. When you say, "I get equal pay so I don't need feminism," you are being extremely egocentric. That is fantastically wonderful that you have procured a job that pays you equally. What about the other 99% of women who may not have that benefit, especially ones who have the added weight of our country's racism on their plate? 

Please note that the gap is within the same occupations, not just because women have "chosen" to take lower paying jobs. Think about the role of women and their paid and unpaid work. Women's work has historically been isolated into the private sphere which means unpaid work. Their skills have developed around domestic work. Isn't it funny how domestic work is one of the lowest paid jobs? This is due to historical disadvantages. Today, our society does not encourage women to participate in male-dominated careers like engineering or science, but rather capitalizes on women continuing to take lower-paying "gendered" jobs. Feminism works to encourage girls to feel comfortable when choosing their career path whatever it may be, engineering or the culinary arts. This also means encouraging women who want to be stay-at-home moms, but also identifying that the role of mother is an unpaid necessity in our culture. Feminism works towards valuing women's experiences no matter what they may be.

I am an unmarried woman and own a house. I am "allowed to have that right" because of a bunch of "married women's property rights laws" that happened in the late 1800's that eventually developed into women being able to own property. Did white men ever have to go through these laws to be able to own property, no. They were simply given this ability to do so. Please don't be ignorant and say, "I am super equal to everyone because I have these same rights now, so I don't need feminism anymore" because that is narrow-minded and negates all of the historical hardships that has brought you these freedoms. You may be privileged enough (please research the definition of privilege if you do not understand it) to have those rights, but others may not. White, educated, American women may think they don't need feminism because they have a certain amount of privilege granted to them in our racist-based "modern" society, but do not let that fool you, ladies. In case you would like a refresher course on women's rights earned by feminism and women's liberation movements, please review the and wikipedia (don't judge, they are extremely concise and quick for the purpose of this blog) pages.

Note how in some places women have just earned the right to vote in The 2000s!!!

I am quite unsure how some of the comments from the "anti-feminist" page are equating feminism with being a victim.... a victim (or survivor rather) of patriarchal powers maybe? Yes, and men are targets as well.  The patriarchy disadvantages both sexes. Men must be the all-mighty singular masculine breadwinners forever and ever- this is the thought process behind patriarchy. Households who have dual-income earners might be thought of as feminists. Women who choose to follow a career or education are breaking the chain of patriarchal reign. 

I have a boyfriend, male friends and coworkers, brothers, and a dad. I know lots of other feminists who do as well. I am unsure what kind of anti-feminist propaganda these people are reading that say feminists hate men. Feminists hate the sexist-values of the patriarchy, not men. Get it right.

Society objectifies us all whether you (choose to) feel the objectification or not. Sometimes it really is about education. You can be blissfully happy watching media until you take a theory course on communications and advertising and understand that men, women, trans-individuals, homosexuals, heterosexuals, Black, White, Native, etc are objectified and exploited for monetary purposes.... the media use our "identities" to sell us objects, desires. This is essentially the way our modern, capitalist society works. Feminists don't want others, including men, to be objectified and reduced to mere objects because the media portrays us as less than human. Period.

Finally, if you must separate yourself from feminist values yet still spout off about equality, you may want to identify as "humanitiarian" (not humanist) rather than "anti-feminist" in order to save yourself social media backlash. (Although, many argue that humanitarianism or equalism cannot be achieved until the direct misogyny of our society is addressed through feminism. One of my favorite articles:

Moral of the story: educate yourself. I leave you with one last nugget of advice:

Friday, July 11, 2014


Take a moment and spend time reflecting on this video called Try by Colbie Callait.

She is simply sensational and does such a great job exposing the truth, that beauty is everywhere. You don't need makeup or a super fit body to be remarkable.

This should be the new anthem for girls in 2014!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Living a Frugalista Life

I am one of those people who likes to save money... and spend money at the same time. In all of my adult life I have been frugal and I keep finding ways to save more on the things that I "need" (to live a comfortable and trendy life). I also really like to travel so I figure if I save on the daily expenses I will have more to spend on vacation. So far it is working... and you also end up being pretty eco-friendly along the way. Here are a few of my tricks:

1. Platos Closet- You may have to dedicate a few hours to search for worthy items. I am that person who has 50 items and I have to try them all on just in case. They also have promotions and sales regularly- follow your local store on social media to stay in the loop. You can also sell your gently used items for cash! (Reuse!)

2. Thrift Stores and Yard Sales- If you don't mind spending time searching go for it. I have found brand name items at Goodwill (Banana Republic, Express, Etc.) that are perfectly cute. Home decor is also something that you can look for if you have a bit of a creative mind. (Reuse!)
Birdcage $5 at yard sale, spraypainted. $20 outdoor candles (originally $40 at kohls)- please don't look at my desert landscape :( also, this looks a lot cuter at nightime.

3. Purchase Imperfect Items- Last Chance is the place where Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack send their goods. Don't go on a weekend and plan to spend time sifting through their racks. I found a black, white, and yellow $40 scarf for $5.. it had one black string in a white patch.. nobody will ever know.

4. Don't buy brand name- anything really... the off-brand or store-brand is usually just as good. Especially for items like toilet paper, paper towel, tampons, puppy poo bags, or trash can bags because they just go straight in the trash. 

5. Cheap Wine from Trader Joe's- Not necessarily 3 buck chuck... but they have a lot of foreign imports. $5 French or Spanish wine > $20 American wine sometimes. I have found a lot of tasty choices and The Reverse Wine Snob has also. Check out the webpage
A Cotes Du Rhones from TJ's.. less than $10

5. Local food banks or Market on the Move (in Phoenix)- These places get bulk items that haven't sold or are close to their sell-by dates. They usually ask for a donation of $10 which is cheap compared to how much it would cost at the grocery store. Learn how to preserve and you will eat like a Queen... FOREVER! (Reduce corporate food waste)
$10 donation from the Valley View Community Food Bank- Greek yogurt, fresh produce, bread, and pasta-
Yellow Squash, green beens, peppers, tomatoes... Most items are blanched, quick frozen, and then bagged for snappy weekday meals. 

6. Purchase bulk meats when they are on sale or close to their sell-by dates, then freeze in individual portions (see above picture, ground turkey in portions on the 4th shelf $3 for 4 pounds at Fry's) 

7. Netflix and Pandora- We got rid of cable and just have internet to stream movies and shows on Netflix (or Hulu) and Pandora for radio.

8. Grow your own herbs and plants- fresh to use when cooking and free if you maintain them. 
Peppers (free, from a pepper I purchased at a market and saved the seeds), chives and rosemary (seeds purchased). I also have Roma and Heirloom tomato plants growing outside from seeds I saved from the market on the move tomatoes.

9. Brew your own beer! (Or have a friend do it for you ;) ) My boyfriend and I are part of a brew club called "Beerology" that hosts an affordable social gathering once per month where you bring or brew beer, taste samples, absorb knowledge and chat with friends. We currently have a pale ale aging as we speak! If you are in the Phoenix area and want to join, send me a message at

I hope you enjoyed how I have been thrifting my way through life! Cheers fellow frugalistas!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Geriatric Care

Over the last week back home, I quickly realized that women's domestic work expands beyond just motherhood and house cleaning.

My mom is currently the responsible individual to care for my grandmother who has dementia with Lewy bodies. Sure my uncles are helpful with the planning and the financial aspect of everything but they live out of town. The physical and mental aspect of the care is exhausting.

Emotion work, emotion work, emotion work. I walked into my grandmother's home she has had since the '50s and was immediately overwhelmed. She has two cats (well, she thinks three, but I will get to that) who have run of the house. Grandma Marilyn caters to their every need. These cats have mountains of food, plentiful toys, and probably close to 20 nail scratchers throughout the house. Not to mention they are left full meals like chicken or potatoes when my grandma's dimentia is in full force. 

The physical environment is cluttered and kind of feels like a death trap. My organizational self wanted to send her off and rehab the whole place. But I couldn't... She is much too possessive of her space and "things" are more meaningful then ever to her. She sifts through papers and photos and books and cards and junk mail from the past 50 years since it has been hoarded in her house. 

This imperfect living environment doesn't even scratch the surface of the pain and emotion work one goes through when caring for an elderly loved one. Grandma doesn't remember many things or easily gets confused. Then she escalates and becomes defensive and snappy. Sometimes it gets worse and she becomes physically abusive... Like a small child... Nothing like the grandmother I have ever known. 

My mother takes care of her mother every single day. Feeding her, bringing her groceries, washing her dishes and clothes, running errands, paying bills, arranging care. Every single day. It is like caring for a naughty adult-shaped child who can't be responsible enough to even take her morning medication. 

This is dedication. This is love. This is complete and utter selflessness. 

I told my mom "God bless you for the things you do every day... Because I would not be able to handle it." Taking care of the woman who bore you, who took care of you, who was the leader, the parent, the safety net, is the worst kind of mental anguish. And to not ever be told thank you... 

I believe it takes the strongest of people to do this job and do it well. To not just brush it off and "put her in a home" because it is easy. It takes a special kind of person to be that dedicated to someone who thinks a stuffed animal is a real cat... Or that pictures are people. 

Worst of all, it makes one sad. Visiting my grandmother used to be one of my most joyous pastimes. Now it is filled with angst, tears, fibbing, a sense of urgency to get in and get out so you don't upset her, and feeling if this person who should be older and wiser can't make choices or be responsible for daily routines.

All of this is pushed on the caretaker, usually a daughter. One who is used to mothering others. And this happens to be the truth in our situation. 

My mother truly is a saint to take on this responsibility. To put up with the anger and hatred my grandmother expels on a routine basis. To hold strong and not give up even on the big picture when she comes home defeated just to know she has to go back to the war front again tomorrow. To deal with the fickle emotions and the fact that my grandmother sometimes doesn't even know who my mom is. 

Dementia and Alzheimer's are the worst diseases imaginable. To twist someone's mind and memories so their own loved ones are not even recognizable is the ultimate test of love for those who are left behind. 

I prefer to have these current memories of my grandmother fade and to remember my grandmother in a heathy state of mind. But my mother cannot choose to take that route. She is reminder each day of the disease and of the mental anguish it causes.

So God bless those who are their parents' caretakers for you are the pedestal to hold them up until their day comes.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

100 Most Beautiful People

My internet feeds are crawling with news of Lupita being named the most  beautiful person of 2014. Congrats- she is a woman of color and deemed a beautiful person all in one! -----Wait, you can be a woman of color and beautiful now? THANK YOU SO MUCH PEOPLE MAGAZINE FOR LEGITIMIZING WHO CAN BE BEAUTIFUL, IT IS NOW OFFICIALLY TRENDY TO BE BEAUTIFUL AND A WOMAN OF COLOR-START FOLLOWING SUIT LADIES!!!!

Ok, so this is probably just going to be a rant about why I think this particular media publication is crap and full of exploitation. If you don't want to read, stop now.

Dear People Magazine,

You are really far behind in figuring out who is beautiful because ladies of any color already are beautiful, we really didn't need you to make it official. Also, I think it is silly that you are being "praised" for including a black woman in your top line up list. 3 black ladies/25 top beautiful people = 0.12... not the best representation here in today's media.

I think your annual publication about who is beautiful and who is not is a load of B.S. First, If you take a look at your list since 1990, the people listed are all celebrities who have teams of makeup artists, gym coaches, clothes buyers, money, and fame. They already know they are f-ing beautiful, ok?! The world already knows they are beautiful because their fame is constantly shoved in our face and sold as an interest point for money. Maybe it is because I really could give a rat's arse about what celebrity is wearing what overpriced dress or who is having a mental breakdown because of too much pressure or blah blah blah that generally goes with being rich and famous, but I really don't need a bunch of pieces of papers telling me that these are the people who are only ones who are able to make the list of beauty. 

I don't even like celebrity gossip or crap (unless they are in a good movie or say something feministy like Jennifer what's her name, but that usually passes over within a matter of minutes... cause you know, I have a real life to deal with rather than talking about which person is dating Johnny Depp. Because, let's be real, the only time I will ever have come close to him was in the D.C. wax museum) 
                  People forgot to cover the story on us dating for a brief period in 2009

but you probably got that from the start. However, this list shows that those who make the top most gorgeous are really just the celebrities they try to throw down our throats each week already. I look at this list (which was found on the very reliable source of wikipedia...don't judge, it's not a research paper) and even I know who these gals (and guys) are. You have to really shelter yourself from the outside world (which I already try to do) to not know why they are famous or what brought them to the ultimate beauty levels they are at today. 

It really just caps off why I especially don't like this media poo you sell. I am glad you are 50 years behind (lets be real, a lifetime) on treating people of color with equality. Now you are using it to profit in 2014- congrats on that sneaky marketing technique you just pulled out!!! It makes me an angry, but motivated person to expose your uninteresting "marketing schemes."

Anywho, to those "winners"- congrats on being beautiful people who have lots of money and fame and fortune because we didn't know about it until People published the article. (Not.)

You know what would be really interesting? If People actually had to WORK to publish their stories about human beings we had never heard of but are doing such interesting research or activism or saving babies (and are not Angelina Jolie because she is an actress and that is the only reason you are publishing the baby saving. There are plenty of people who have way more heartwarming stories about baby saving because it is a lot harder to be an average Joe and get it done... first we don't have a private jet to whisk us over there, or translators, or OK I'll just stop there). 

My point is: I am sick of celebrity "news". I am sick of their "beauty" being shoved in our faces and of media profiting from their image exploitation. I am sick of the photos that the media proclaim to be THE ULTIMATE BEAUTIFUL HUMAN IMAGE (heavenly ahhhhhh sound heard now) being photoshopped into things that aren't even the people they are claiming to be the most beautiful. Really, it should be a contest on who can alter the most amazing photograph of a celebrity rather than saying these (flawless) people are the winners. Good luck with all your professional endeavors.