The Twelve (Wines) Days of Christmas

40-something, wanna-be Solid Gold-dancing Breck Girl

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(Also called: Who’s Getting’ Nuttin’ for Christmas?)

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
a wine glass filled with red Chianti.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
two Zinfandels
and a glass filled with red Chianti.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
three Pinot Noirs,
two Zinfandels
and a glass filled with red Chianti

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
four Chardonnays
three Pinot Noirs
two other drinks
and a glass filled with something that’s red

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
PETIT SIRAH!
four Chardonnays
three Pinot Noirs
two other drinks
and a glass filled with something that’s red

On the sith day of Chrissmas, my true love gave to me
Moet & Chandon
FOR AULD LANG SYNE!
Chardonnay-nay-nay
three…

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Let’s Put The ‘Social’ Back In Social Media: Don’t Turn Facebook Into HATEbook.

Two years ago, I wrote about “Why I Love Facebook” (read here). Three years ago I wrote another blog called, “Easy Facebook Etiquette: How to get along in the neighborhood” (read here).

After reading the posts during the recent election and the day after, I went back and read my two blogs again. My opinions haven’t changed (although my job has). Facebook is social media, emphasis on ‘social’- as in “party, gathering, get-together” – and most of what’s been posted has been quite anti-social.

I love my Facebook friends, I love my live friends, and I love my live friends who are on Facebook.

I do not love what many of them are saying. There has been gloating, un-friending, anger, hate, vicious attacks … and then there have been really nasty things posted.


I don’t discuss politics. I don’t post politics – although I have reposted some memes that were just too funny – I’m sorry; Donald Trump’s hair has been a thing for me since I was a teenager – but after things got ‘real’ I stopped. Because things got so heated towards the end of the race, I did involve myself in a little political conversation with a few around me. I will tell you now that I was on the side that ‘lost’ – and I will also tell you I wasn’t fond of either side, and that voting did not make me feel good.


I am only telling you this because I want it known that what I say here has nothing to do with what side I was on; this is not gloating, nor is it sour grapes. Yes, I was disappointed with the outcome, for my own reasons; but I am also aware that the game is not over and that life will – and has to – go on.

We all knew this was going to be a tough election for everyone. We were all in that together. And we all knew that one side would be disappointed. None of this was a surprise, yet people are acting more divisive and angry than they were before the outcome was revealed.

“You are not my friend if you voted for – “. “I’m leaving the country if – wins.” “You are not a nice person if you voted for – “

If any of you have read anything I’ve ever posted or blogged about, you know where I stand on many ‘issues’.  I have very strong opinions about certain things, and I talk or write about them every single time a thought crosses my mind.

But one theme that keeps popping up in my writing/talking is connectedness, and I believe in that more strongly than anything else.

What depresses me most is the disconnectedness I am seeing. If we all agree that we each have our own opinions and our own right to our own opinion, why is it that we are battling each other over having them?

One of my live/Facebook friends posted something nasty about Hillary when the outcome was revealed, and then one hour later posted an “I saw someone who had real problems – get the fuck over it” type of post. This is a person I consider loving and kind, too.

Yesterday, I had a bit of personal happy that I wanted to share – and someone tried to discourage me from posting about it because of possible backlash, as in, “How could you post something positive while this country is going to shit?”

What?

(I posted anyway.)

We really do have bigger issues than this; we have the ones that are right in front of our faces, the ones we have to deal with daily. A gentle reminder to someone that “things could be worse, let’s put it into perspective” is one thing; but condemning someone so harshly for their feelings is another, especially when you know that the election was so close that it could have been your side that lost. You know how strong your feelings were for your choice – how would you be feeling if you were truly concerned about something and people just kept telling you to “get over it!”?

Your feelings matter (coincidentally – if I believed in coincidences – I wrote about that, too. Read here). All of your feelings, even the negative ones. You have them for a reason. You are allowed to have them.

So is everyone else. You can feel proud that your candidate won, scared because yours didn’t, or even sick to your stomach that those two were our choices. You even have the right to voice your opinion.
But to think you have the right to invalidate and insult someone else because theirs doesn’t agree with yours is something else entirely.

We are not being kind. We are being divisive and hateful. We will end up killing this country faster than one ‘representative’ will, because we are the foundation.

If you know me at all, you know that I do not follow the (m)asses. I speak up whenever I feel the need to, and I always will. I will continue to write/speak on the issues that I believe or don’t believe in, and I will live by what I say – or do my best to.

I will not go against my belief in unity; I can’t. I will try not to participate in divisive behavior.

That being said:

I live in the United States; that makes this my country. My collective country voted that Donald Trump should be president of my country; that makes him my president. Even if he wasn’t my personal choice. Even if I may be upset that he won.

And I will continue to speak out about what I believe in, at every opportunity. I will also try to come up with new solutions for things I believe to be problems. I will honor my own opinions and feelings and yours, as well. If I try to invalidate you and yours, I am invalidating my own.

I have a responsibility to my belief in unity – but I do not have responsibility for the actions and thoughts of anyone else.

Please, everyone, understand that no matter your opinions we are all in this together.

Together.

Facebook is our place to play, to laugh, to connect. Allow others to have their own opinions. Let’s not violate this privilege we have. 

P.C.

What a jumble my thoughts are in right now, but I’ll do the best I can here. 

I’m an Android girl. I’m known to be very vocal in my opinions against Apple. My issues aren’t even with their products so much as they are with the company itself. Proprietary is the first word that comes to mind. Once you buy in, you have to stay in. Their products, as nice as they may be in general, don’t play well with others, and each ‘generation’ became more walled in.

He who owns the ball makes the rules, right? You want to play? You do it my way.

Apple does have good products, but I don’t want to be in a cage – no matter how prettily it’s decorated.

Isolate and exclude.

I’m ashamed to admit this: I own an iPod. The 160 GB Classic. I had the original Microsoft Zune and I absolutely loved it (I still have it, and it still works well), but there wasn’t enough storage on it for me (yes, I need to take as much of my music library with me wherever I go). Microsoft upgraded the Zune to 120 GB and I was all set to buy it until I saw the iPod 160 being sold for the same price. I sold out for those extra 40 GB.

My daughter and then-husband had iPods. I was already well-versed in iTunes (and well-disgusted). It’s a filing nightmare to try to transfer already-uploaded music into iTunes. I spent many hours converting CDs, records and cassette tapes into digital files, and the transfer into the iTunes program didn’t go well – stored information on each file was changed or not accepted. I had/still have to go through each individual file to correct the artist name, title, album, and genre to be able to sort it out into playlists and to be able to choose what I want to listen to. Apple wants you to upload your music directly into the program from the source or, better yet, purchase directly from them. I have been building my music collection for over 40 years now; I’m not buying it all over again, nor will I purchase audio files that I can only play in one place. If I choose to buy a $60 collection or audio book, I want the CD; that way I can record and play it anywhere – not only on my iPod (remember, I still have my Zune).

Once my iPod is full and filed properly (it’s been years and still not the way I want it), I’m not changing it. I made my bed and I will lie in it. I will buy a different company’s product if I need any other upgrade.

We’ve all sold out in some way, haven’t we? We spend more for labels. You can’t put a price on quality, right? But does “quality” need to be emblazoned in large letters across your chest or your ass? Your support of a label provides companies with the inflated profit of the product and gives them free advertising as well. You are part of the problem, too.

We all are. We have accepted that we can’t truly be safe in cars unless we buy the most expensive. We can’t eat healthy without spending more. We can’t protect our children, seniors, homes, bank accounts, and selves without a cost. We can’t take care of our health and our homes and responsibilities. We are forced to make value judgments on essentials.
How did we get here?
We blame our government, first.
Isolate and exclude.
We isolate ‘them’ as the source of blame and exclude ourselves from the fact that we put them there, by our support (even tolerance is a measure of support) and perpetuation of ‘normal’ or ‘standard’.
We become further divided in our handling of the problems we see. Some will fight against the norm and others won’t, either out of fear of reprisal or a fatalistic attitude of “That’s the way it is.” Then, the people who are fighting the issue are fighting the people who won’t fight. And the people who won’t fight settle back into their chairs even further because it seems that the people who are fighting ‘are getting nowhere, anyway’.
We are going in the same circles, around and around and around again.
United we stand. No truer words. The irony that these words were written during times of serious isolation and exclusion is not lost on me.
We even use those words in fight. We need to band together (isolate) to fight them (exclude). There’s another irony right there.
Isolate and exclude.

Our country’s motto of unity is hypocrisy, right from the day those words were written, because all of us in some way have bowed to or chose some form of isolation and exclusion.

Fighting doesn’t work. If it did, we’d all be unified by now. Like George Carlin said, “Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.”

We’ve made this bed. All of us, together (and we even deny that unity). We’re going to have to learn to lie in it without hogging all the covers or kicking people off of it.

We have to begin again, at ground zero.

“But where shall I start? The world is so vast, I shall start with the country I know best, my own. But my country is so very large, I had better start with my town. But my town, too, is large. I had best start with my street. No, my home. No, my family. Never mind, I shall start with myself.” – Elie Wiesel

Be, but let others be. Stop judging others, stop telling them that what they are doing or who they are is wrong.

Fighting is tiring; unhappy acceptance is tiring. We are a tired nation. And we will never learn to get along with others until we get along among ourselves, and that starts with each and every one of us.
Right now, my country stands on isolation and exclusion (that is how it was built); but we do have a collective conscience that keeps reminding us, united we stand.

The only way to achieve true unity is to stop dividing lines between us. Every single one of us was created both the same and different. This and that. The contrast is always what makes life beautiful. If everything and everyone were the same, there would be no joy – because we would have no way to recognize it.

Even those of us who don’t cook understand that it is the combination of different ingredients that make the sauce so tasty. True wine aficionados won’t serve grapes with their wines, because the contrast of other foods is what enhances the flavor of the wine. Vintners go out of their way to use different grapes to create one specific taste (the same grapes only different?).  Different instruments are required to give music its depth.

 – Harmony is the blend of differences.

How is it that we can understand that concept of the necessity of inclusion of differences in so many aspects of life, but not in the overall picture?

We either have reached or are nearing our tipping point. If our country falls, we are all responsible for it. Many people have been screaming for some type of change, but expecting others to do it for them. And it always comes back in our faces, doesn’t it?

Monopolies fall (Ma Bell, anyone?), because isolation and exclusion only goes so far – how long something continues relies on participation. The same goes for our country.

(I never liked Monopoly.)

Our country is made up of smaller groups; states, cities and towns, organizations, religions, ethnicities, and more. Each group can be further divided down until you hit the common denominator: the individual person. You. Me. That is where the change begins. We choose our participation. 

Whatever happens now, we are certainly all in it together, aren’t we?

Androids and Apples are the same, only different. I will go with my preference, and I will let you go with yours. That is where I will start.

I already feel better. How I act, support, be, do is up to me, and I do have control over that. I will show my unity with you by letting you do the same. 

And we can stand, together. The same and different.

United.

More Shameless Self-Promotion

For those who haven’t heard (those fortunate enough not to be near enough to me to shove something in their faces), I have co-authored a book with Jody Clark.

Jody is a screenplay writer from York, Maine, and has nine scripts under his belt. He went looking for writers on the East Coast to help him turn his scripts into novels. He found me (God help him) during his search.

I’m happy to say we were able to stick to something of a schedule and finished it in a year.

Our book, Livin’ on a Prayer,  is a comedy following high school sweethearts Tommy and Gina and their friends from 1988 to the present. It is a story that takes you from hair bands and Aquanet through tragedy and redemption, all the way to yoga pants.

If you were fortunate enough to experience the 80s – even if you only vaguely remember them – and enjoy hearty and heartwarming laughter, check it out here!

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I Am (Was) Part of the Problem: Assumptions

Tamar Carroll and I are cousins-through-shared-cousins, which means I’ve spent roughly 1/4th of my holidays growing up (about half of the gatherings on my father’s side) with her. Between the combination of a significant-enough age difference that always affects interactions with the ‘once-removeds’, geographical distance, and an almost diametrically opposite upbringing, I had never considered that we had much in common.

I am sorry for that perceived and assumptive brush-off, Tamar.

We both published a book within a year of each other, and I still considered us at somewhat ‘opposite ends’ – her book being based on ‘real’ education and mine only on ‘opinion’ (we all understand the significance of that, and I admit it).

With the normal expansion (and division, in some cases) of families, I began to see less and less of her. Then we became ‘Facebook friends’ (still a funny term to me). I ‘see’ her regularly now; more than when we saw each other at family gatherings.

We are both adults, she is married and I once was, and we are both parents. As expected, the age gap that seemed so divisive long ago has declined with age and commonalities became more … well, common.

I (finally) began to notice things, like specific-subject-matter posts she put up, and her likes/comments on certain posts of mine – and I began to see a resemblance between us, and our way of thinking.

So, I went to Amazon and looked up her book –

and realized I was a complete idiot.

First of all, it was not some lofty, over-your-head thesis type, written only for the well-educated to debate at dressy cocktail parties, laughing while barely opening their mouths.

Again, I’m sorry for my assumptions – all of them.

Secondly – and this was the biggest kick in the pants – her book is about ‘community’ activism, the affecting of change, the banding together of groups usually marginalized, AND how they are all intertwined.

Connections.

Isn’t that what I write (preach) about, in my own way, in my own words? About separation and pre-supposition? About pervasive attitudes and ignorance of the scope of their reach?

And I missed this in her? Because of my own ‘programming’ that seeps into my thoughts and actions?

This means that as much as I talk about fixing certain problems, I am still an active part of them.

Was.

The first step is admission. To be able to admit I’ve done something wrong or negative, I    have to be well enough away from it to view it from the outside. Now, any assumptions I make are not ‘habit’ but choice, because I’m aware I make them.

This also validates points that she and I both touch on in our writing: how ingrained our ‘learned’ behavior is, the un-awareness of the full scope and pervasiveness of certain issues, and the ties between them. It is all connected. We are all connected.

Now, this ‘young grasshopper’ has learned – yet again – that with all she has learned, she still has so much more to learn.

Thank you for the lesson, Professor.

………….

Purchase her book here:  Mobilizing New York: Aids, Antipoverty, and Feminist Activism (Gender and American Culture) by Tamar W. Carroll

From the back cover: “Carroll contends that social policies that encourage the political mobilization of marginalized groups and foster coalitions across identity differences are the most effective means of solving social problems and realizing democracy.”

From the Preface: “… I began to doubt prevailing assumptions that a strong group identity is likely a barrier to social movement building, and I wanted to learn more about how [these] coalitions maneuvered within the difficult terrain of identity and power.”

Sharing Your Happiness, Chicago

Thanks to EarthCam, we all were and are able to be a part of that wondrous crowd moment when the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series. Thank you for allowing us to share that moment!

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(watch the video here)

“Even as someone who pays little attention to sporting events until they get really big (did I mention I didn’t know that the World Series was going on until the 5th game – and that I found out on Facebook?), I can sense both the excitement and disappointment with the highs and lows of our home teams, because it’s in the air – we all can. I remember when the Red Sox won the World Series (I did pay attention at the end). What I remember most was what it felt like, that rush, the high that had captured all of Boston and Massachusetts for months afterwards. The happiness in everyone that carried over into everything else in our lives at that time.

Chicago will be enjoying that boost for months and years to come.

I can feel it.”

(From the blog, CAN YOU FEEL IT? Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs)