The Evolution of Modern Pop & Rock Stars

I’m technically an 80s baby but I don’t actually remember the 80s (my first memories are probably 1991 or 1992) so calling me a 90s kid is a more apt description. Now that my generation are in our 30s I feel like I see a lot of nostalgia for the 90s. In a way I get it- I think it’s natural to feel nostalgia for the time in your life when you were “young & innocent.” However, if I’m being honest, I can’t say I share in this nostalgia very much. It’s not that I had a horrible childhood or anything like that. But the way my brain works I’ve just been much happier as an adult. In other words, I’ve been “old at heart” for almost as long as I can remember, so being an adult just suits me a lot better. Therefore, I can’t say I share in much of the 90s nostalgia. Furthermore, while there are some societal changes that have occurred over the past two decades that I’d rather hadn’t happened, I think a lot of the changes we’ve seen have actually been good. I won’t get into all of them here because that isn’t the point of today’s post. But one of the changes I’ve noticed is the difference in both pop stars & rock stars from the 80s-90s or even early 2000s vs those today.

I’ve thought about this subject quite a lot over the past few years but the reason it came to mind now is because I recently discovered a Norwegian pop star called Sigrid. I found her because she did a song with a rock band I follow called Bring Me the Horizon ( The song is absolutely gorgeous, both musically & lyrically, & I’ve been very pleasantly surprised with Sigrid’s other music that I’ve checked out over the past few days. While pop music will never have the same appeal for me as rock or metal- I NEED my heavy guitars & drums, I really do (they just SPEAK to me- if you know, you know)- I have been very impressed with her gorgeous voice & her unique appearance. While she is far from ugly, Sigrid is definitely not your stereotypical pop star. She wears little if any makeup & usually dresses in jeans & T shirts. Much like Billie Eilish she is NOT the overly sexualized pop stars of my youth. Watching their videos, these girls are so different than Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, the Spice Girls, & that whole coterie that dominated pop music when I was young. And for that I am very grateful. Maybe it’s just proof that everything is cyclical. Or maybe it’s proof that the MeToo movement has indeed had some positive impacts across our greater culture.

While I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with sexuality- it’s obviously just part of our biology- I also ascribe to what I call the Lzzy Hale belief that talent & skills should always come first. In other words, it’s ok to be sexualized at times- it’s probably inevitable, especially for women- but it’s better to be valued & known principally for other things. As she said, “Anything I have done has been purely because I wanted to do it. So I feel lucky being that way, but my rule is it can’t start & end with just the high skirts & the high heels. You have to have something to back it up. Again, my encouragement to anybody is do what you want to do, but if you’re going to be in music, don’t just be the long legs. Make sure that you work very hard at your instrument & your band.” ( Ideally I think we should be able to appreciate people much more holistically, even if they do present themselves in an overtly sexual manner, but the truth of the matter is that just doesn’t happen very often. I think you could argue that male “sex symbols” struggle with this sometimes too, though perhaps to a lesser extent or in somewhat different ways. But that’s a post for another day.

In any case, I for one find it much more encouraging to know that some of today’s pop stars aren’t as overly sexualized as the ones from my youth. They’re wearing more clothes, their lyrics are more introspective & far less vapid, & their dancing isn’t half as “sexual.” Granted there were/are pop stars from my younger years that I feel like were less sexualized- or at least did it more in their own way rather than just being the product of a record label. (Pink & Lady Gaga are good examples & I enjoy both of them.) But overall, I feel like pop stars like Britney Spears were largely just victims of a music industry that was using them for as much as they could get, long-term consequences to the women themselves or greater society be damned. I certainly am much more comfortable knowing that my daughter has a greater chance of growing up with female pop stars who are far more empowering than the ones from my generation.

Now when it comes to rock stars, I think it’s very interesting to observe that the whole “sex, drugs, & rock & roll” thing has really changed course drastically. In the 80s, bands like Motley Crue (whom I love) truly embodied that phrase- to their own detriment of course. Then came the early 90s & grunge, which I’m too young to remember of course, but I do love a lot of that music. Sadly, between cocaine & heroin far too many of those musicians never made it out of their 20s. Obviously drug use is still a problem in the rock scene, as evidenced by the recent tragic death of drummer Taylor Hawkins from the Foo Fighters. But in general I think drug use, even heavy drinking, has radically decreased over the past 10-15 years among most rock stars. When I think about most of my favorite rock stars, many of them have either been sober for many years now after recovering from previous addictions or they have managed to avoid those addictions altogether. I’ve even got a list to prove it:

Chris Motionless from Motionless in White has endorsed a “straight edge” type lifestyle his entire musical career. He has spoken openly about never using drugs or alcohol & having no interest in trying them. He has even spoken out against “hook up” culture.

Andy Biersack from Black Veil Brides had a brief course of alcoholism & minor drug use early in his career (during which time he was largely underage anyway) but has since been completely sober for many years now. Furthermore he is married to the same woman he’s been with since he was about 20 (he’s now 31).

Brent Smith from Shinedown is another recovered addict. So is Sully Erna from Godsmack. And Dorothy from the band of the same name. And Randy Blythe from Lamb of God. And Corey Taylor of Slipknot. So are Ivan Moody & Chris Kael from Five Finger Death Punch (as well as their former drummer Jeremy Spencer). And the list goes on…

To be honest the only truly modern band (as in whose members are 20-30s) I can think of that really embodied the whole “sex, drugs, & rock & roll” philosophy is Asking Alexandria (& I guess some members of Five Finger Death Punch years ago- but they’re also a bit older). And you know what? They quickly learned it wasn’t going to work for them. Now all five guys are married or in long term relationships & all but one have at least one child. They all quit drugs & either cut out or minimized alcohol years ago. And that’s probably why, unlike so many other bands before them, they’re still around.

Nowadays a lot of rock (& pop) stars are anything but the proverbial “bad boy.” Sure, they might have long hair, loads of tattoos, a couple facial piercings, & some may even wear more makeup than most women, but many of them are genuinely good people whose “fearsome” appearance belies their true nature. Granted this was probably true for a lot of older rock stars too. But many of them really DID use a lot of drugs & generally lived up to the sex, drugs, & rock & roll lifestyle. Nowadays, in the age of social media, the MeToo movement, environmental consciousness, etc, I think society demands a lot more from our rock stars. We don’t want to see them trashing hotel rooms or read about them screwing hookers backstage while snorting cocaine off their bodies. No- that’s not cool anymore. And for that I am very grateful.

So yeah, I don’t really miss the 90s. If that makes me an uncool millennial, well, so be it. After all, I’ve never been very cool, so why start now?

What do y’all think? Has our society made positive steps in what we demand from or appreciate about our pop/rock stars? I certainly think so.

My Thoughts on Cam Newton’s Latest Escapade

In case you missed it, Cam Newton has recently found himself in hot water over some comments he made about women & relationships on a recent podcast (see this link for a quick summary: For some background, in case anyone isn’t familiar with why I even care about what Cam Newton says, he has been the quarterback of the Carolina Panthers- the only NFL team in our state- for most of my adult life. Cam is also my age & led the Panthers to an almost undefeated season in 2015, capped off by a Superbowl appearance against Peyton Manning & the Broncos (which unfortunately they lost). Since then, if I’m being honest, his career has been mostly downhill. But there is just something about Cam that I have always liked. Maybe it’s his winning smile, maybe it’s the way he loves to throw footballs to kids after scoring touchdowns, maybe it’s the confidence he has to wear ridiculous outfits & not care that a large portion of the press (not to mention everyday Americans) makes fun of him for it. Whatever it is, there’s just something about the man I can’t help but like.

Now on the surface, I’ll admit his recent comments make me cringe a bit. They were clearly badly worded & generally in poor taste. And- let’s be real- I’m not sure Cam is someone I’d consider a bastion of romantic wisdom. This is a man who fathered four children in just under four years with a former stripper with whom he had an on-again, off-again relationship (Kia Proctor)- AND had an affair with an Instagram model which resulted in a child who was born shortly before his last child with Proctor. Let’s be real- maybe HE is the one who needs some romantic advice! This, of course, many have pointed out. I’ll admit I found myself laughing & nodding along when I read the reaction of Kayle Nicole (Travis Kelce’s girlfriend): “That man ain’t had a job in months. He has nothing but time to “be quiet” and get that ass in the kitchen.” I mean, she has a point, a very legitimate point!

Having said that, one of my main goals in life is to judge every concept on its own merits. What that means is I sincerely try not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. In other words, even if I generally like someone, it doesn’t mean I take every word they say as gospel. Furthermore, even if I generally don’t like someone or don’t respect a certain aspect of their lives, it doesn’t mean everything they say is garbage. I still try to judge their words & actions as objectively as I can. Isn’t there an old Biblical proverb about how even an ass speaks the truth every once in a while? (Yes, there is- I looked it up. Google it if you don’t believe me.)

Anyway, the point is, yes, I generally like Cam but I also am very willing to admit that he probably isn’t the best person to be dispensing relationship advice. Also, it’s entirely possible that what I’m reading into what he said is just an attempt to “whitewash” it & make it more acceptable to myself since I do generally like him as a person- though obviously I don’t actually KNOW him, & he could in fact be just as much of a sexist pig as most of the media has been screaming ever since his recent comments came to light.

Enough preamble. Let’s get to the meat of the issue! Upon closer inspection of Cam’s comments what I’m hearing him say is that men these days no longer feel needed. Perhaps at times they don’t even feel WANTED. And this is something that I think we ladies need to seriously consider. Let’s be real- as women we NEVER have to worry about feeling superfluous. If for absolutely no other reason, we KNOW that men will ALWAYS need & want us for sex. Always! And any decent man will want us for more than just that. Men on the other hand- especially in the age of IVF & sperm donors, financial independence, & general societal equality (all of which are obviously good things)- do actually run the risk of feeling superfluous- or, to put it bluntly, unnecessary. Does this mean we women need to go around catering to every man’s needs & desires & foregoing our own? Of course not! But what I think Cam was trying to say is that he is tired of hearing women say “I’m a strong, independent woman & I don’t need no man.” And then wondering why men aren’t interested. Or why men feel unwanted. It’s the same phenomenon that happens when women constantly bemoan all men for being liars & cheaters & then wonder why decent men avoid them.

Now obviously I think it’s fantastic that women don’t need men for many of the things we used to need them for (e.g. bank accounts, generally supporting us financially), but at the same time, relationships cannot survive if both partners don’t feel needed & valued emotionally. That’s just basic human psychology. And I think maybe that’s what Cam was rather ineloquently trying to say. So as tempting as it is to just throw him under the bus as another sexist entitled brat- which, naturally, is the popular feminist thing to do- I think his comments touch on some deeper issues at play in our society & thus are worthy of some deeper inspection. Is he (or someone like him) someone I’d be jumping up & down to date? Not hardly! But that doesn’t mean everything he has to say about relationships is garbage. After all, ladies, if we expect men to take our criticisms of them seriously (& obviously we do), then we have to return the favor. If we can dish it, we have to be able to take it too, as the old saying goes.

Again, I will gladly admit that maybe I’m just twisting Cam’s comments into something I think is valid or acceptable. That’s always possible. But the contrarian, anti-establishment element of me just can’t help but speak up when I see (almost) everyone else running the other way & decrying Cam as just another sexist idiot. Maybe he is. Even so, maybe he did touch on something worthwhile, albeit not in the most eloquent fashion. Or maybe he just needs to hang out with some women who have actual life skills & goals & aren’t just pretty faces on sexy bodies who are likely just after his money. That’s always a possibility too!

What do y’all think? Did I read way more into this than I should have, likely just to make myself feel better? Or is it possible I’m onto something? In any case, I’ll end by saying this- even if I’m wrong about what Cam meant by his recent comments, I still think the idea of men feeling superfluous in our society is a legitimate concern & something that we all need to consider.

My Anxiety/OCD Triggers

If you’ve been following this blog for a while or if you know me in real life, then you know that anxiety with obsessive compulsive tendencies is something I have struggled with for a long time- basically my whole life. I say obsessive compulsive tendencies because, thankfully, I don’t have full-blown OCD, but I DO exhibit some obsessive compulsive tendencies in my thinking & thus in my behavior. I had an experience this morning that made me think that a useful exercise might be writing out some of my current anxiety triggers. Not only might this be therapeutic for me but it’s very possible that others could relate- even if not to these exact scenarios.

Because I value transparency, let me say that I have been taking a low dose of generic Prozac for my anxiety for probably six or seven years now. I managed to go off of it for about 6 months in late 2019 & early 2020 but once Covid hit, I realized I needed to go back on it to manage all the extra stress & general madness of living through a worldwide pandemic. It took me a long time to admit to myself that needing medication to assist with my anxiety management was not a weakness any more than needing medication for high blood pressure or lupus or any other medical condition. Of course I always believed that for everyone ELSE- but getting myself to believe it for ME? That was a whole other story- being the perfectionist that I am. In any case, I have gotten MUCH better at managing my anxiety over the years, not just thanks to medication, though I do think that has been very useful with taking some of the “edge off” so that I can actually focus on other non-medication based strategies with a clearer brain. But it’s definitely still a daily struggle with some days being better than others.

Anyway, this post is not strictly meant to be humorous but at the same time I’ll confess that one of my best coping mechanisms has been learning to laugh at myself. Not in a condescending “I’m so stupid” way. But rather in a “Ok, self, this is a bit silly. You’ve handled this kind of thing before. There is no logical reason to be this upset about this now. You’ve got this. Take a deep breath & don’t take everything so seriously” way. If that makes any sense. So, on that note, feel free to laugh along with me if you find some of these things a bit comical. I won’t judge you or hold it against you in any way.

  • Having someone behind me in line while pumping gas. This happened to me at Sheetz this morning. A man pulled up behind me in a pick-up truck as I was just getting out of my car. There was absolutely nothing overtly threatening about this man, but my immediate thoughts were “Oh gosh, I’ve parked a bit too close to the pump. This dude is probably laughing about how ridiculous I look now, trying to get out of my car. He’s probably going to judge every move I make while pumping this silly gas.” Once I got the gas pumping, I stopped that train of thought & told myself “This is ridiculous. Even if he does laugh at you, so what? You have no idea who he is, he has no idea who you are, you’ll never see each other again. What does it MATTER?” After that, I was able to calm down & laugh at myself & move on without further anxiety over the matter. This is what I mean by learning to laugh at myself.
  • Having my money in order in my wallet. This one is a remnant from being a waitress back in college. That’s been almost 15 years ago but I STILL feel a very urgent compulsion to have my bills in order. What I mean by this is the largest bills have to be on the bottom of the stack & they all have to be facing the same direction (i.e. none upside down or backwards). So on the rare occasions I pay with cash somewhere & the cashier gives me change, I inevitably end up cringing inwardly when the person hands me a bunch of bills all out of order. Because, you see, I then have to correct them before putting them in my wallet- but if there are people behind me in line I HATE holding them up to do this… And yet I also hate putting the bills in my wallet all out of order. It’s a real conundrum, I tell ya! And yes, I am laughing at myself as I type this because I fully realize how ridiculous this must sound to the average person.
  • Having my documentation in order as a nurse. Y’all, this is one reason I do not miss inpatient nursing. Because anyone who has worked inpatient nursing knows that documentation is wildly important & also wildly difficult to get done in a timely manner. I am one of those weird nurses who actually enjoys documentation, perhaps because I am acutely aware of how truly important it can be, but also perhaps because I enjoy writing. In any case, it can cause me tremendous anxiety if I get too far behind on my charting. I HATE that feeling of knowing I’ve done something but it hasn’t yet been documented. I guess it was drilled into my head enough times that “If it’s not documented, then it wasn’t done” that until something is documented, I don’t feel like my task is truly complete. This is one reason I’ve been reluctant to go back to school to become an NP, which was my original career goal, because providers of all disciplines (i.e. doctors, NPs, PAs) all struggle so much with timely documentation. I just know I would be the kind of provider who couldn’t relax after work until all my notes were done, & I also know that it’s very rare that one can finish them all on the same day…. Soooooo… Yeah, I’d probably just be permanently anxious as hell! Just another reason why I’m pretty content to be “just a nurse” for now.
  • Too much noise. Y’all, this is one reason motherhood is hard for me. Between Rachel hollering constant questions & the dogs barking, I’m pretty sure I’ll be deaf in the not so distant future. I don’t think I realized it at the time but this is another thing I don’t miss about inpatient nursing- all the constant alarms dinging!
  • Social events that feel forced. I’ve talked about this before but work parties or parties where I only know one or two people are anathema for me. Just look up the song We Don’t Have to Dance by Andy Black. It’s an anthem for every introvert with social anxiety. I’m great at one on one or very small group discussions. But networking type events where you have to talk to a bunch of people, usually only for a few minutes & about mundane topics that feel forced? Ugh. The WORST! Thank goodness I’m in a career field where such things aren’t really an issue.
  • Having unread texts, messages, or emails. Ohhh man, what I wouldn’t give to be a type B person who doesn’t care that their inbox is overloaded! But it’s just not in my nature to ever be that way. Nope, I have to read everything quickly & usually feel compelled to respond quickly too. Otherwise I end up with that “unfinished business” feeling that I mentioned earlier with documentation at work. This is one of many reasons I refuse to get any new social media accounts such as Twitter, Snapchat, or Tik Tok. Not only do not I find those apps of any particular interest but I also don’t need any more notifications pouring in to my phone. No thanks.

If you don’t struggle with anxiety &/or if you aren’t plagued by obsessive compulsive tendencies, this post may have read like a real laugh riot. Or you may be tempted to say that I’m clearly crazy & in need of serious help. While that may be a fair assessment, remember that my anxious, obsessive compulsive tendencies also make me a fantastic nurse. You better believe I monitor my patients’ vital signs & labs like a hawk. You better believe I obsess over dating my PICC line/IV dressings. You better believe I notify providers of even subtle changes that I know might be important. You get the drift.

Outside of nursing, I like to think some of these tendencies are useful as well- as a wife, mom, & friend, etc. We all face challenges in life, & I think, as with anything, there are pros & cons to this type of mindset. The key- at least for me- is being cognizant of my triggers so that I can better manage them when they happen. Trust me when I say that’s a work in progress!

Trust the Science . . . Or Not?

In my previous blog post I decried the Liberal Left for becoming as intolerant, totalitarian, & generally closed-minded as the Religious Right that they love to denigrate. Well, today’s post is going to follow somewhat of the same trend. I am fully cognizant of the fact that this post will probably cost me “friends” & will likely get me branded a bigot (unfairly so, if you ask me). But some things are too important to remain silent. I’ve already lost a few “friends” over my support of Covid vaccines as well as my willingness to stand up against racism. So- what’s a few more down the drain, right?

Before I dig into the meat of this issue, please let me preface this by saying this is quite literally the stuff that keeps me awake at night. It’s the kind of thing that I cannot get off my mind & that causes me great mental anguish. There are no easy answers in life- indeed, one of my greatest life lessons thus far has been that nothing in life is really settled except for the fact that nothing is really settled. Is that a hard way to live? You better believe it, but it’s the only way that makes sense to me. My point is- I am open to the idea that I may be wrong here. I have changed my mind about many things in life due to witnessing new evidence, meeting new people, having different experiences, etc. As always, I do not claim to speak for God, my employer, my family, or anyone other than MYSELF. And there is no reason to think that I am any wiser or better than anyone else. But as Flannery O’Connor said “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” It’s what keeps me sane. So, on that note, here we go!

The past few years have been filled with headlines & admonitions to “Trust the science.” As someone who forms a great deal of my opinions on life around science/biology, I can definitely get behind this general idea. However, one of the greatest principles of science is that any knowledge or theory we have could at any point be proven wrong if we discover new evidence that leads to a greater understanding of the subject at hand. There is a LOT about the world that we still don’t know. HOWEVER, some things ARE pretty settled, whether we like it or not. Whether they are “fair” or “equitable” or not. As Ben Shapiro has said “Facts don’t care about your feelings.”

With that in mind, I cannot be silent any longer on the subject of transgender athletes, particularly transgender women competing against biological/cisgender women. The Left says “Trust the science!” but as soon as the science says something they don’t like, all of a sudden they want to throw it out the window. Please understand that I have an immense amount of compassion for the transgender community. I cannot imagine facing life as they do. I have zero problem referring to people by their preferred names or pronouns & generally affording them equal rights & access in society. I have even taught transgender people how to give themselves hormonal injections as part of my job.

HOWEVER, allowing transgender women to compete against biological women is just defying science. It doesn’t matter if we think it’s unfair- it just IS. Here is a study showing that trans women retain an athletic edge over biological women even after a YEAR of hormonal therapy: This is particularly true of course for anyone who went through puberty as a man & had years of testosterone influencing their height/muscle development- which is of course the vast majority of transgender female athletes. The fact remains that no matter how many hormones you take or surgeries you have, you cannot change your CHROMOSOMES. Perhaps someday in the future we will have technology that allows trans women to truly be on a level playing field with cisgender women. But we haven’t reached that time yet.

Over & over experts have told us that this is not fair. Here ( is an excellent article that highlights some of the research on this matter. Please check it out in its entirety but I am including some of the highlights below:

“Pretty much any way you slice it, trans women are going to have strength advantages even after hormone therapy. I just don’t see that as anything else but factual,” said Joanna Harper, a medical physicist at Britain’s Loughborough University.

For Tommy Lundberg, whose research at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute focuses on skeletal muscle strength of trans people receiving hormone therapy, the advantages for trans women in strength are to the point where fairness cannot be ensured in most sports.

“The big problem right now is that the [hormone] therapy itself doesn’t really remove the advantage to an extent that you can claim that fairness has been achieved,” Lundberg told DW. “And actually, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) states that the overriding objective is, and remains, the guarantee of fair competition. That’s what they say in their guidelines. So that’s the problem right now: They don’t go hand-in-hand.”

In another paper Lundberg co-authored that looked at untrained trans women, Lundberg and his colleague found that “muscular advantage enjoyed by transgender women is only minimally reduced when testosterone is suppressed.”

As the above article mentions, the upper limit of testosterone allowed for trans female athletes is still WELL above the normal range in cisgender/biological women. To say that this is irrelevant is to deny basic biology & makes a mockery of women’s athletics. Women have fought for DECADES (nay, centuries) to have equal opportunities in sports. Why should we give that away?

Furthermore, intersex athletes like Caster Semenya have been barred from competing in women’s sports. While intersex is an extremely rare phenomenon & tragic for the athletes who are affected, it is still only fair to all the other female competitors. There is absolutely no logic to barring intersex athletes such as Semenya but then allowing transgender female athletes like Lia Thomas. You cannot have your cake & eat it too. You cannot command us to trust the science & then dismiss the science! It just doesn’t work that way- or shouldn’t. (By the way, this isn’t a new phenomenon: read this article that highlights some intersex athletes from almost a century ago:

Lastly- Sha’Carri Richardson was barred from the Olympics because she tested positive for MARIJUANA. Please tell me how that would give her any advantage whatsoever over any other athlete. And yet trans women can compete with far higher levels of testosterone? Can we get some ideological consistency here, please?

I have tried & tried to find articles & evidence about transgender men competing in men’s sports. But as you might suspect, there isn’t much to be found. Maybe because most transgender men know they would not have any advantages over cisgender men- in fact they would likely be DISadvantaged…

Please, before you accuse me of being transphobic, consider how you would feel if your daughters (or nieces or goddaughters, etc) lose out on athletic opportunities to transgender females. Also consider that folks like Martina Navratilova, a lesbian & longtime LGBTQ activist, has said “It’s insane & it’s cheating. I am happy to address a transgender woman in whatever form she prefers, but I would not be happy to compete against her. It would not be fair.” Furthermore, consider what many of the cisgender females who have competed against Lia Thomas or Laurel Hubbard have said about this subject. The fact that so many female athletes are feeling pressure or being explicitly told not to speak out about this issue is proof positive that something is amiss here. The fact that the media is editing photos to make Lia Thomas look more feminine is yet another clue (see here:

Liberals so often tell us that we should go to those who are affected by a policy to see their opinions on the matter- & they are right about that. But all of a sudden they don’t care about those opinions when they run counter to their own narrative… All of a sudden we aren’t supposed to trust the science…

So- what’s the answer? I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know. Should we have separate leagues for transgender athletes? My thought is yes. On a practical level I know that would be very hard to manage because there isn’t a huge community to make this happen in every town/area. However, we have Special Olympics for a reason- because it wouldn’t be fair to have those folks competing against everyone else- for obvious, scientific reasons. If we can make that happen, I am confident that we can make a transgender league a reality as well.

In conclusion, I am open to the idea that I could be wrong. I am open to the idea that things could change in the future when new science or technology are discovered. But as things stand right now, the science tells me that we are doing a disservice to women everywhere by allowing- even forcing- them to compete against transgender women. We don’t have to like it. It doesn’t have to be fair. But it’s just the way it is. And I’ll be damned if saying so makes me transphobic- it does not. It just means I am dedicated to preserving the integrity of the rights women have fought for over the centuries & I am dedicated to actually following the science- even if we don’t always like what it says. If we are not allowed to do that, we cannot legitimately claim to be a free society

A Letter to the Liberal Left

Dear Liberal Left,

As some of you know, I was raised in a very conservative religious household/community. As an adult I have explored my own path quite a bit but still retain a number of my conservative values- albeit often for different reasons. As someone with my background I could easily have embodied the stereotypical full-blown “snowflake” liberal. It would have been so easy to do a full 180 & run down that path, just reject everything I was taught growing up & become the exact opposite of what I was “supposed” to be. Yes, frankly that would have been, in my opinion, an easier route to take than the one I have chosen. After all, it’s easier to just reject everything & embrace the opposite than it is to really put everything under a microscope & decide which parts are worth keeping & which are worth discarding. THAT, my friends, requires a LOT of work.

Anyway, I don’t like labels & I fundamentally resist being put in any kind of “box.” But if there is one group with which I’m willing to throw my hat it’s Libertarians. Libertarianism is not a perfect concept of course- nothing is- but in my mind it’s the most logical philosophy that is rooted in the reality of life as we know it. Because of my philosophies about life, I often find myself at odds with folks from both ends of the political spectrum. I’m always too liberal for some & too conservative for others. But I’ve discussed that many times before, & I’m learning- slowly- to be more at peace with it.

What I want to discuss today is how disgusted I have become with the Liberal Left these days. The Left accuses the Religious Right of being closed-minded, refusing to see evidence, standing on their principals in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, & any number of other things that are largely entirely justified. But what I am starting to see is exactly the same things in the Left! Liberalism or wokeness, or whatever the word is these days, has become the religion of the Left. You can’t question it. You can’t bring up evidence that contradicts its tenets. You can’t disagree with anything without being called sexist, racist, or bigoted- basically a heretic. Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so.

For example, I have a lot of reservations about transgender women competing in women’s sports. It’s pretty self-evident to me that this is incredibly unfair to biological women- i.e. those with XX chromosomes. After all, it doesn’t matter how many hormones you take or how many surgeries you have, you cannot change your chromosomes. I am in NO way saying I am opposed to transgender people in general. But I AM concerned about the potential loss of women’s rights & opportunities, rights & opportunities that we have fought hard for over the years, mind you. I don’t think it’s crazy or bigoted of me to care about that. But the Liberal Left would have me ask no questions, would have me ignore the fact that you rarely see transgender men clamoring to compete in men’s sports or use men’s restrooms. No, let’s not discuss that. That’s off the table. If you ask a question, you’re bigoted & you don’t care. End of story…

As another example, the Liberal Left loves to say they support science. And in many ways they do. But what they forget is that while science itself is unbiased, the institutions that fund it are NOT. After all, where does most of our scientific research come from? The CDC, the NIH, & universities (both private & public)- which are largely funded by government grants. So is there motivation to make sure that science supports whatever the government is already saying? You better believe there is. Just as there is motivation to make sure that science supports the pharmaceutical & food production companies whose lobbyists have infiltrated our government at every level. Despite all of this, the Liberal Left would have me ask no questions. They would have me accept that everything the NIH & the CDC says are completely without bias. Because surely all these people always have my best interests at heart… (Insert massive eye roll.)

Please take note that I am NOT an anti-vaxxer. I have given hundreds, probably thousands, of Covid vaccines during this pandemic & have routinely begged & pleaded with friends & family to get vaccinated. But I am also very uncomfortable with vaccine mandates, especially ones coming from the federal government. It is in fact possible to strongly support something while also not supporting it being forced on everyone. Crazy, I know….

These are just a few examples. I could go on & on, but I think you should get the drift by now. It’s like the Liberal Left has forgotten that a lot of us left the Religious Right because we were tired of being told to turn off our brains, to stop asking questions, to just fall in line & do what we were told. There is a REASON we weren’t comfortable with that kind of mindset. And yet the Left seems so shocked when folks like me dare not to fall into complete lockstep with them on every single issue. I’m sorry, Liberals, but I left that kind of mindset behind a long time ago. I vowed to never turn off my brain. I vowed to never stop asking questions. And I’m not going to break that vow that just because you don’t like it or want to brand me as a bigot to bully me into your ways.

What it boils down to is I have learned that the only thing settled in life is that nothing is truly settled. Is that a hard way to live? You better believe it is. But it’s the only way that works for me. It’s the only thing that makes sense to me. And if you really cared about the issues you say you care about, you’d stop excommunicating everyone who dares to question you or disagree with you. In short, you would stop acting exactly like the Religious Right- whom you think you’re so much better than- when in reality, you are just a different breed of the exact same beast.


Someone Who is Tired of Your BS

Life Lessons From the Antonio Brown Saga

I don’t think I have ever written about sports on this blog before & I never planned to do so. In fact I had an entirely different blog post in mind for today. But then I sent a voice note to a friend a few minutes ago about the Antonio Brown saga & how it’s forced me to confront some of my internal prejudices while also addressing some highly complex issues at stake in our society. The reason I messaged this particular friend about this subject is because she is not American & does not follow the NFL, so I feel like she is more likely to have an objective opinion on the matter than any of my other friends or acquaintances. Anyhow, it got me to thinking that this whole saga is actually very worthy of a blog post, particularly in light of the fact that the media often focuses on only the most salacious details rather than the underlying issues at hand.

First off, if you aren’t familiar with Antonio Brown, do a quick Google search &/or read his Wikipedia page ( to get some background on him. The reason that his name is back in the headlines again is because on Sunday he got in a verbal altercation with his team’s coach on the sidelines & then proceeded to rip off his jersey, helmet, & shoulder pads; run across the field shirtless; & exit the stadium mid game. Hilarious? Not going to lie- yes, I laughed when I saw the video. And yes, I have laughed at the memes (& still am). But upon closer inspection, clearly this is NOT normal behavior & really is no laughing matter.

As if that situation wasn’t bizarre enough, it’s now come out that he snuck a 23 year old Only Fans model-whose initial claim to fame was licking toilet seats in an effort to catch Covid (INSERT MASSIVE EYE ROLL)- whom he’d never actually met before- into his hotel room the night before the game. This of course was against NFL Covid protocols. As if THAT isn’t bizarre enough, she claims he encouraged her to film them having sex so she could share it to her Only Fans account (apparently she agreed). Keep in mind this is not a COLLEGE player- this is a 33 year old man with 6 children by 3 different women (at least if Wikipedia has it right). She also claims he was constantly rambling & generally speaking incoherently as if he were either drunk, on drugs, or generally not in his “right mind.” As if all of THAT isn’t bizarre enough, he also posted his bank account information online later this week. Uhhhhh….

I’m not going to recount his entire background but it is important to note that prior to this weekend’s unusual events Brown has been accused of rape & sexual assault on multiple occasions by multiple different women. He has also been caught driving over 100 mph as well as throwing furniture from his 14th story apartment building, endangering a toddler in the process. The police have also been called to his house in Florida multiple times for various domestic disputes. AND he has been arrested for assaulting a truck driver. To say that Brown has a long & ignominious history is putting it quite mildly.

Now here’s what I really want to examine- my reactions to this situation & what we as a society can learn from all of this.

First- my own reactions to this: I can guarantee if I’d read this story 5 or more years ago, I would have immediately said “What a disgusting man. He’s a disgraceful thug. Get him off the field & out of the news forever” & never have pondered the situation any deeper. I was particularly reminded of this when I was perusing the screenshots of his text messages with the Only Fans model which included plenty with less than perfect grammar. (Being a grammar nerd myself, I won’t lie- bad grammar is something about which I have to consciously remind myself not to be overly judgmental.) If I’m being truly honest, that is still my initial gut reaction to this whole saga.

HOWEVER, now that I’m older & have had a lot more time to examine my own internal prejudices I have to say that I do still have some (perhaps limited) compassion for Antonio Brown. It’s clear to me that he is not in a healthy mental state- & probably hasn’t been for a long time. Is it possible he is just a really gross, obnoxious, & dangerous man? Sure. Or is his erratic behavior the result of some kind of untreated mental illness? Quite possibly. Is it related to drugs or alcohol? Maybe- but that seems a bit less likely what with all the testing NFL players are subject to on a regular basis. Is it also possible that his behavior is a result of brain damage from chronic or repeated concussions related to his football career? Absolutely. And that right there is something that needs to be addressed & takes me squarely into my second point.

What can we as a society learn from all of this?

Well, first off we should learn that when NFL players (or other celebrities) are given multiple chances- like Brown was- & continue to display erratic or violent behavior- whether on the field or off- we need to pull the plug on their careers a lot sooner. Just because someone is a talented entertainer (whether an athlete or a musician or something else) that does not excuse them from treating others well & generally being a decent, lawful person. After all, what kind of message are we sending to our kids (& adults) when we tolerate bad behavior just because someone is talented, famous, or wealthy?

Reviewing Brown’s history, if there is any evidence to back up the claims of rape & sexual assault, not to mention the other various incidents, he should never have remained on any NFL team. Let’s be real- would most of us average Joes (or Janes?) be allowed to keep our jobs- especially if we have a job like a doctor, nurse, or teacher where we are considered role models for children- if we were accused of things like that? HIGHLY unlikely! And I can guarantee, regardless of our jobs, most of us average folks would no longer be employed if we ripped off our shirts & ran around shirtless before leaving our jobs mid shift. Nope, we’d be fired in a heartbeat. As it turns out, Brown WAS fired over this incident & deservedly so, if you ask me. If this were the only bizarre & obnoxious incident of his, perhaps he would deserve another chance. But, as we’ve discussed, it’s not the only one, not by a long shot.

Having said all of that, as mentioned above, I think we would be greatly remiss if we didn’t take a moment to consider the possibility that a lot of Brown’s behavior could be related to either untreated mental illness or brain damage from concussions. If either is the case, that doesn’t mean we have to tolerate his bad behavior of course. But it DOES mean that we need to stop dismissing him as “just another thug” & think about the greater consequences of these issues when they are not recognized or treated. There has long been a stigma in our society against mental health, but I think you could argue that stigma may be greatest for black men. Who better than NFL players (or Kanye West) to shine a light on this issue for an underserved portion of our society? After all, what kind of message does it send to your average black man if black male celebrities who are struggling with mental illness or addiction are just dismissed as thugs? If a black male celebrity isn’t worthy of help for these issues, how do you think that makes the average black man feel?

My point is- if we are truly bothered by Brown’s behavior, we can’t just call him a thug & say “case closed.” We have to dig deeper. We have to address the underlying issues at play here or we’ll never stop seeing this kind of behavior. It’s just like racism- if we don’t call it out when it happens, it will never end.

Best Albums of 2021

Happy new year, everyone! What that means for this blog is that it’s time for my annual best albums of the year post. Keep in mind while reading that this list is strictly MY opinions, nothing else, so there is no need to be offended that most of these albums are from the same genre. Furthermore, I am by no means a professional music reviewer. I do not have access to every album that is released, & certainly not advanced access to them. I discover new music mostly through the satellite radio in my husband’s vehicle, YouTube, & word of mouth from friends. I’m really old school & don’t even have a Spotify account. Yes, I am crazy & still buy & use actual CDs! One of these days when my car dies, I don’t know what I’m going to do if its replacement doesn’t have a CD player. I literally might pay to have one added to a new car- totally not kidding, y’all!

Anyway, this year, in an effort to diversify my list a bit, I decided to include suggestions from friends on their choices for best albums of the year. You’ll find those at the end of this post, along with a list of my choices for most anticipated albums of 2022.

Also, you’ll notice these are all listed as number 1- that’s because I’m not the most tech savvy blogger & couldn’t figure out how to insert the pictures without the blog automatically restarting my list at number one. Insert massive eye roll.

Best Albums of 2021

  1. I won’t keep you in suspense. My choice for number one album of the year is Created From Filth & Dust by Lilith Czar. Some of you may know Lilith as Juliet Simms, her legal name, who previously performed under that name, as well as with the band Automatic Loveletter. She was also on the show The Voice years ago. Last but not least she is married to Andy Biersack from Black Veil Brides & they could easily win an award for hottest couple. But more importantly they are both highly intelligent talented people who seem to have a truly mature relationship. Anyway, enough intro- onto the music! This album is truly genius from top to bottom. There isn’t a bad or throwaway song on it. Lilith has always had a gorgeous voice but lyrically & musically she is at her most powerful here- & let me tell you, she kicks some serious ass! My absolute favorite is the anthemic Anarchy ( which even my 5 year-old daughter loves & requests on a regular basis. Other favorites are the poignant Lola ( & Diamonds to Dust ( It’s downright criminal that songs like these aren’t played on every radio station in the country. A lot of the inspiration behind this album was the sexism that Lilith has faced over the years, being told by record labels “Oh, you need to dress like this & sound like this. Be sexy- but not TOO sexy. Do this- but don’t do that!” etc. Nowhere is this inspiration more evident than on the powerful song King ( Not only is it lyrically powerful but the bass line is banging. Working with Sumerian Records has clearly given Lilith a freedom she’s never had before & I am so here for it! There is so much more I could say about this album but I’ve got many more to write about, so let me just end it by saying this- LISTEN TO IT! Regardless of what genres you usually like, you will NOT be disappointed.
  1. See What’s on the Inside by Asking Alexandria– These 5 British guys are like fine wine- they just get better with time. Every album they release tops the last one, & this one is no exception to that rule. From my very first listen of lead single Alone Again (, I was hooked. Lead guitarist Ben Bruce explained that this was the first album the band has made in years where they did it the old-school way: they all got together in one room & just jammed & wrote music. And boy, can you tell! The guitar riffs here are phenomenal & prove that Ben is definitely one of the best guitarists of the modern era. Lyrically & musically this album is a true masterpiece. Perhaps my favorite from this album is Faded Out ( which includes a supremely catchy guitar lick & lyrics that are so fitting for the depression that Covid has brought on or worsened in so many of us. Other stand-out tracks include Never Gonna Learn ( & The Grey (
  1. The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood by Ice Nine Kills– I’ve never been interested in horror movies & probably never will be, but that doesn’t lessen my devotion to this largely horror-inspired band. I’d heard of INK for several years now but had never really listened to them. However, when I saw that they did a track with Jacoby Shaddix from Papa Roach I was intrigued enough to give it a listen. It’s safe to say I’ve been addicted to the band ever since! I even read the novel American Psycho which was the inspiration behind the track featuring Jacoby called Hip to Be Scared ( which is definitely one of my favorites off of this album. Not only does Spencer Charnas have a gorgeous voice (& face), he is obsessed with puns & finds ways, with his bandmates, to craft truly incredible lyrics that can speak to anyone, even those of us who haven’t seen the horror movies that inspired the songs. Be sure to check out Rainy Day (, The Shower Scene (, & Ex-Mortis ( My daughter loves the latter one & frequently requests “Way Below,” as she calls it.
  1. Heart & Soul by Eric Church– This is actually a triple album because Eric Church decided to spend 28 straight days writing music in a cabin in the mountains of NC during the height of Covid lockdowns. At the end of those 4 weeks, he had way too much music for just one album so he split it into 3 albums. The man is a genius, y’all! Eric Church has a good voice of course but that isn’t what makes him special- what makes him special is his lyrical genius & the way he captures emotions in the stories his songs tell. Like so much of his work, these albums get better with every listen. There are so many good tracks here, but I’ll try to simplify it to only my top favorites. Be sure to check out the brash Stick That in Your Country Song where Church addresses everything from inner city violence & gangs to unemployment- not your typical country music fare, which is of course the entire point of the song ( Russian Roulette (, Do Side, & Break it Kind of Guy ( are also highlights. It’s worth mentioning that part of what makes this triple album so good is Church’s long-time back-up singer Joanna Cotten. Church has never been afraid to let her shine but that’s never been truer than on this venture- & that’s a good, good thing.
  1. Ruthless by Gary Allan– Generally speaking I’m not much interested in musicians who don’t write their own songs. But I make an exception for Gary Allan because his voice is just so imperfectly perfect. It has that exquisitely gruff sound that makes it perfect for singing heartbreakingly sad songs- which for some reason I really love. This album got a lot of mixed or even negative reviews but I don’t care what the experts say- I love it. Yes, there are a few lines here & there that are corny & probably could have been better written, but taken as a whole, it’s still a great piece of work. Allan has a knack for choosing songs that make us face some of our less than comfortable emotions, that make us examine the less than perfect parts of ourselves, & that’s a lot of what I like about him. Temptation ( is just such a track. So is Slide ( I read a review that said this was a song about a man begging to be allowed to cheat- but that isn’t how I take it at all. I take it as a song that acknowledges that none of us is perfect & if we want to have any kind of long-term relationship (romantic of otherwise), we have to accept that we’re going to fail each other or generally be less than our best selves at times. The Hard Way ( is another great track that gets better with every listen. Lastly I want to mention Waste of a Whiskey Drink ( which is actually the first song I heard from this album- & one that I immediately loved. Some have called this a misogynistic song but that isn’t how I see it at all. I see it as a song that calls out the problems with casual hook-ups & generally inauthentic relationships. Gary Allan is a heterosexual male so it only makes sense that he’d sing a song from that perspective, right? Besides, that are TONS of songs out there deriding men & all of their many faults, so let’s let the guys have their turn to air their grievances, ok? Besides, if you need a reminder that women aren’t always innocent victims, check out my previous blog post on toxic femininity. Enough said.
  1. Dearly Beloved by Daughtry– As I suspect is true for many other folks, I loved Chris Daughtry in high school & early college but hadn’t really listened to him for the past decade. However, as soon as I heard Heavy Is the Crown on Octane ( I was hooked. Like many of the other albums here, this is one that I’ve appreciated more every time I’ve listened to it. One of my favorites is Asylum ( which is an incisive look at modern society, particularly in light of Covid- at least that’s how I take it. Another favorite is The Victim (, a super empowering song that I think we could all use these days. Also be sure to check out Changes Are Coming (
  1. The Phantom Tomorrow by Black Veil Brides– Andy Biersack, being the genius that he is, has created yet another brilliant concept album. Be sure to read up on the back story to the album to fully appreciate it. My favorite tracks are Crimson Skies (, Scarlett Cross (, & Fields of Bone ( I should also mention that this is the first album with Lonny Eagleton on bass & he has definitely proved to be a more than worthy replacement for former bassist Ashley Purdy.
  1. 3rd Degree: The Raising by Gemini Syndrome– If ever there has been a band who deserves so much more attention than they get, it’s Gemini Syndrome. Lyrically these guys write some of the most profound songs every created. My favorite from this album is IDK ( which is a play on the texting abbreviation for I don’t know as well as the words “I decay.” Brilliant, right? Lyrically I swear the band read my mind when they wrote this song. It will probably go down as one of my all-time favorite songs ever. Other stand-out tracks include Die With Me ( & Abandoned (
  1. In the Court of the Dragon by Trivium– Like AA, Trivium is a band that seems to only get better with time. And like AA these guys are still only in their 30s- & yet this is Trivium’s 10th album!! As if songs like Feast of Fire (, The Phalanx (, & the title song ( weren’t killer enough, the band also created fantastic music videos to go with them. The latter could actually be called a short film. Brilliant!
  1. Death By Rock & Roll by The Pretty Reckless– This was a very difficult album for Taylor Momsen & company to make due to the death of their long-time producer & friend Kato Khandwala. However, they still managed to turn out a great album. The title song ( is a banger with excellent guitar licks while Twenty-Five ( is a hauntingly beautiful piece with an equally haunting music video that showcases just how much Momsen has grown up over the past few years. Another great track is And So It Went ( which features Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine.

Honorable Mentions

  • Servant of the Mind by Volbeat– Danish rockabilly
  • Below by Beartooth– American hardcore punk
  • You’re Welcome by A Day to Remember– American pop-punk-metalcore hybrid
  • Bullet for My Valentine by Bullet for My Valentine– Welsh heavy metal
  • You Will Be the Death of Me by Light the Torch– Metalcore super group featuring Howard Jones
  • The Ides of March by Myles Kennedy– second solo album from Alter Bridge’s vocalist

Friends’ Picks

  • Kostolom by Slaughter to Prevail– A bit heavy for my usual taste but this Russian deathcore band is definitely worth a listen if you like that kind of thing. P.S. The lyrics are in English (the guitarist is actually British).
  • Radical by Every Time I Die– Metalcore project out of Buffalo, NY
  • The Million Masks of God by Manchester Orchestra– Indie rock band from Atlanta
  • Manic by Wage War– Another metalcore band, this one from Florida
  • Happier Than Ever by Billie Eilish– I can’t say I’ve really gotten into Billie Eilish but I definitely respect her both as an artist & as a person
  • Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night by The Bleachers– An Indie pop band from NYC
  • Scaled and Icy by Twenty One Pilots- Another pop band that I can’t say I’ve gotten into but that I do actually respect

Most Anticipated Albums of 2022

  • Halestorm– If Back From the Dead ( is any indication, not to mention their 4 previous albums, this forthcoming album is going to ROCK.
  • Three Days Grace– I am obsessed with lead single So Called Life ( It’s literally been stuck in my head intermittently since the first time I heard it. It’s a banger & I hope the album will be full of similar songs. If there was still any doubt that Matt Walst can carry the band just as well or better than Adam Gontier did in their early days, this song erases it.
  • Papa Roach– Between Kill the Noise ( & Dying to Believe (, Jacoby & company have already released 2 amazing songs that are both lyrically & musically on point for the world these days. I can’t wait to hear what else they have in store for us.
  • Fever Dream by Palaye Royale– I’m convinced that anything these 3 brothers touch turns to gold. They’re just that good. Check out Paranoid (, Punching Bag (, & No Love in LA ( for a taste of what’s to come. I cannot wait.
  • A Trigger Within– Irishman Jimmy Trigger (ex-fiance of Ashley from New Year’s Day) is the genius behind this up & coming LA band. His EP from a few years ago was brilliant & I can’t wait to see what this handyman (literally- that’s his full-time day job) has in store for us this year in his rock star line of work.
  • Slipknot– While I’ll probably always prefer Stone Sour over Slipknot, there is no denying the genius of Corey Taylor’s heavier project.
  • It hasn’t yet been confirmed but Swedish geniuses Avatar have released 4 new songs since their 2020 album, so I’m inclined to think they’ve got a new album in the works- I certainly hope so. All of these songs have been innovative & brilliant. Be sure to check out the haunting Going Hunting ( with its lilting piano motif & the latest release Cruel & Unusual (
  • Motionless in White blessed us with a new single this year so I’m sincerely hoping that means that another album is on its way. Check out Time Bomb which includes a lot more singing from guitarist Ricky Olson ( as he shares the vocals with lead singer Chris.

A Treatise on Toxic Femininity

I think most folks are aware of the term toxic masculinity. If I’m being honest, it’s a term I’ve never been fond of because I think men are incredibly valuable to our society & should not be continuously denigrated. Having said that, I’d be short sighted if I didn’t acknowledge that there are certain parts of traditional masculinity that can in fact be quite toxic. I have recently been involved with several exchanges with men that struck me as toxic- exchanges where men were condescending, demeaning, & downright rude to me. I’ve also witnessed several such exchanges recently by men towards other people, both men & women, & those exchanges angered me as much or more than the ones actually directed at me. In one case I actually spoke to the victim about how inappropriate those exchanges were & how he should not have to tolerate such abuse because it’s “just part of the system” or “inherent in the process.”

So I was going to write about how, as much as I might not like to admit it, toxic masculinity is in fact still a problem. But then I realized I really have nothing novel to say about the subject. It’s been written about so many times as to be a bit exhausted at this point. However, I would like to point out that SOME (not all) of the men who have been toxic to me at various times in my life are the exact men who claim to be feminists & decry toxic masculinity- but God forbid you dare to disagree with them. Then they will be very keen to tell you just how narcissistic, myopic, idiotic, redneck, uncultured, etc that you are. They may even block you on social media because you are apparently such a threat to their fragile masculinity because you have the gall to question them. INSERT MASSIVE EYE ROLL. Furthermore, most of the men who are truly guilty of toxic masculinity are the exact ones who would never listen to a damn thing I have to say. So I’d just be preaching to the choir, so to speak.

Anyway, all this got me to thinking that I’ve never heard the term toxic femininity used, but I googled it, & it does in fact exist. However, my definition of it isn’t exactly the same as what the “standard” definition is. Anyway, before I googled it I came up with a list of traits I’ve often observed in women (including myself on occasion) that are quite toxic- to ourselves & to others. Seeing as people usually accept criticism best from their own “kind,” I thought it would be more productive to write about this issue, especially since it’s one that is rarely addressed. And when it IS addressed it’s usually couched entirely around the concept that it’s all men’s fault & often focuses on other behaviors that I think are already fairly well addressed- or at least acknowledged- by feminism & society in general nowadays.

Of note, I sent this list to several male friends & several responded saying “My ex was just like this!” It’s clear to me that men (& women) experience plenty of hardships & even abuse at the hands of women & while it may not be as life-threatening, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth addressing. So without further ado, here we go:

  • Refusing to make decisions: Oh man, how many times have you heard the jokes or seen the memes about women who just won’t pick a place to eat for date night? Or generally won’t make a decision about something- but whatever the man ends up picking, it’s always wrong. I’m not going to lie, I used to doubt the veracity of such stories because I have always been quite a decisive person myself so I just couldn’t wrap my head around other women being like this. But after talking to several of my male friends, I have determined that yes, there are plenty of women like this. Furthermore, I suppose all those jokes & memes wouldn’t exist if such women weren’t so common. Anyway, the point is this kind of behavior is toxic because it breeds resentment which is never a good thing for any relationship- whether it’s a friendship or a romantic relationship. Not to mention you could argue that it doesn’t bode well for women if we can’t make decisions about something as simple as what to eat for dinner. If nothing else, if we refuse to make a decision we cannot in fairness turn around & blame the person who did.
  • Refusing to acknowledge self destructive behaviors or to accept responsibility for poor life decisions: Now this is where a lot of folks are probably going to want to get off the train. Please know that I am in no way attempting to victim blame. HOWEVER, I do think that it is very important that women become aware of the roles we can sometimes play in the abuse we suffer. In other words, if we never recognize WHY we end up in bad situations, for example why we are attracted to men who hurt us, then we will forever be helpless victims, no better than prey in the wild. To be clear, the exact same thing could be said for men who end up in relationships with toxic women. If they don’t recognize why they’re attracted to these women, they’ll always end up in the same situation. Ladies, we need to do better. We cannot just spend our lives saying “All men suck.” No, they don’t. We need to learn from our mistakes & do better, just like men are expected to do.  
  • Not stating what we want or need but expecting men to read our minds: How many times have you seen or heard the stories about how “When a woman says she’s fine, she’s anything but fine”? Too many to count, right? Again, this is something that has never made sense to me. If I’m not fine, you better believe my husband is going to know it. And so are my close friends. Why would I bottle things up from the people who mean the most to me? If you aren’t comfortable telling someone when you’re upset, why are you even with them in the first place? And if they’re constantly ignoring you or making your life more difficult such that you don’t want to bother them with your problems- again I must ask, why are you with them? I know there are a lot of very valid reasons why women end up in bad relationships, but at the end of the day if we ever want to break the cycle, we have to take responsibility for our decisions & start demanding better. And if that means being single, so be it. It’s exactly like obesity & addiction. There are a lot of very valid reasons why people are obese or abuse drugs or alcohol, many of them rooted in complex emotional trauma. But the sad truth is that obesity & addiction are still hurting people & until those suffering from it recognize & address the reasons behind their condition, they’ll be helpless to fight it. Ladies, we need to claim our own power over our lives & start doing better!
  • Not being upfront with people about problems or misunderstandings (i.e. passive aggression): Here’s another behavior that I think exists for a lot of very valid reasons, both historically & evolutionarily. But it’s still a problem. After all, the behaviors we’ve adapted to survive are not always beneficial long term. Considering all the gains women have made in the modern world, I think it’s high time we started being more assertive & upfront about things, especially with each other. I think this is honestly more of an issue between women nowadays than it is between men & women. I know for myself I am far less comfortable criticizing another woman than I am criticizing a man. I am always far more worried about hurting a woman’s feelings or having her take everything I say as a personal attack rather than as a caring criticism. I’ll admit there have been too many times in my life when I’ve stayed silent for fear of offending another woman. In my career I have observed time & time again that many of my female coworkers will complain about things to each other all day long but will never actually go to management with their concerns. And that management is invariably also female (seeing as I’m in a field that is overwhelmingly female). Ladies, we need to do better than this!
  • Cliques: I don’t feel like I need to say much about this because it’s self explanatory & everyone knows why it’s a problem. All I have to say is, if you’re an adult women & you’re still exhibiting this kind of behavior, please grow the hell up.
  • Making daughters feel like they’re more work: If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard people say “Girls are more work” or “Girls are more expensive,” I’d be a rich woman. What I think is so ironic about this is that it is invariably women saying this. I couldn’t absolutely swear on it of course, but I honestly do not remember ever hearing a man say this. It’s always been other women. I couldn’t tell you WHO said this to my mom when I was a kid/teen, but on multiple occasions I remember hearing this & I remember my mom responding with a fervent disagreement & explaining how it doesn’t HAVE to be that way. I was always grateful to her for how she handled those conversations, but now that I’m an adult & a mom myself, I have to say I am also proud of her because she could have easily just gone with the flow & agreed. (So if you’re reading this, thanks, Mama. You rock!) I’ll never forget shopping at a maternity store when I was pregnant & having the saleswoman ask me what gender the baby was going to be. When I said I was having a girl she gave me this speech about how sorry she was because her daughters were so much more work than her sons. I honestly was astounded & appalled but I also must admit that I didn’t really say anything to oppose her. Probably because I knew her response would be “Oh, just wait, you’ll see.” But I have never forgotten that conversation & part of me would dearly love to see her again (not that I remember what she looked like) & tell her just how wrong she was. At the end of the day, even if you could scientifically argue that girls are more work or are more expensive, telling them that is frankly abusive. Why would you ever want to make your child feel like a burden for something they can’t even control? It’s not like we choose to be born female! I will say it again: ladies, we need to do better.
  • Using men for their money: This should go without saying but apparently it doesn’t. Just in the past 12 hours I’ve had two male friends tell me about how they ended up paying off significant debts for ex-wives or ex-girlfriends who just abandoned them & left them to deal with the mess. So it stands to reason there are probably a lot more cases out there just like this. Ladies, if we don’t want to be abandoned with a baby or with a man’s debt, we cannot turn around & do this to men. Do better!
  • Blaming men or internalized misogyny for every problem: Here’s the one that will really piss off the modern feminists. You see, I’ve read a lot about internalized misogyny & I agree to a certain extent that it is a problem. But I also think our society is doing & has done a lot to address it. Furthermore, if we ever want to be more than hapless victims in this life, we cannot keep blaming men for all of our problems, especially not if we are frequently guilty of the toxic behaviors listed above. Life just doesn’t work that way. We need to do better, end of story.

If you’ve stuck with me this far, I thank you for reading all of this, especially if you’re a fellow woman & have perhaps found yourself feeling convicted a time or two. I know I did when writing this. But I also refuse to accept that we can’t do better, just as a I refuse to accept that men can’t do better than being toxically masculine. At the end of the day, maybe all of this has less to do with our gender & more to do with the fact that we are all HUMAN BEINGS. And- let’s be real- humans can be pretty damn toxic sometimes. But we can also do amazing things- it just requires that we acknowledge our toxic tendencies & find ways to do better.

And yes, I know some of you have a million examples of how men have wronged you, but let’s try to be objective & admit that we women aren’t perfect either. That in NO way means I’m saying you deserved the abuse or wrongs you may have suffered. Absolutely not. But we cannot continually use the bad behavior of some men as an excuse for our own bad behavior. That is not the key to happiness or success in life. Also, we cannot control everything that happens to us in life. But all the behaviors I’ve discussed here are things we CAN control. They might not be easy but they’re necessary for growth. Remember, while there are plenty of valid reasons for bad behavior, bad behavior is still bad behavior because it’s destructive to ourselves & those around us.

P.S. If I’ve offended you, please remember that you’re under no obligation to listen to me or to agree with me. I do not claim to speak for God or anyone other than myself. I write these posts mainly to toss ideas around in my own head & to encourage others to do the same. That’s all.

A Thank You to Tremendous Teachers

I recently came across a social media post about National Thank a Teacher Day. I googled this & found that the actual day was back in June but any day is a good day to thank a teacher seeing as it is an underpaid, overworked profession that is often not given the proper appreciation it deserves. In any case, it set me to thinking about all the many teachers who have made profound impacts on my life over the years. Obviously I learned a lot from many different teachers down the line but when I sat down to purposely think of specific conversations that have stayed in my mind over the years, I was somewhat surprised at what came to mind. All of the conversations that came to mind were not about any standard school subject- rather they were about life in general. But those are the conversations that have stuck with me the most. Seeing as teachers have undoubtedly experienced some of the greatest- if not the greatest- challenges of their careers over the past few years, now seems like a good time to reflect on those teachers who left an indelible mark on my own life.

I’m going to attempt to go in order so I’ll start with one of my third grade teachers who handled our school’s Advanced Learning Program. One day she asked us about our future career plans. I spouted out with what I thought at the time was a grand idea- I wanted to be a professional figure skater. I’ll never forget the disappointment I felt when her response was something along the lines of “How are you going to make that happen? You’re already past the age at which most of these people start skating. There are no skating rinks around here. Maybe you need to think about something more practical.” Inside I was seething, largely because I knew she was right, because my fantasy was dissolving right there in front of me in face of the pure hard facts of life. However, even as a kid, it didn’t take me long to realize that, while initially painful, this teacher actually did me a tremendous favor because her words spurned me to think about other careers that might be just as fascinating but actually doable. She also taught me that sometimes the truth hurts but we need to face it anyway. And for that I will always be grateful.

In sixth grade I had a history teacher who initially terrified me because she was known to be very strict & generally the sort who did not tolerate any nonsense. I was a complete “goody two shoes” so why I was worried I’ll never know. Anyway, in the course of that history class, perhaps when we were learning about the Holocaust, I remember her telling us that things were always harder for women. Now I was incredibly naïve at the time & I remember sitting there thinking “I’m not so sure about that.” Deep down I knew even then that she was probably right, but of course being young & optimistic I didn’t want to believe it. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve cast my mind back to that class countless times & thought how right she was. Now I am not one of these women who spends every day whining about how terrible my life is & how much easier things would be if I were male. What an incredible waste of time that would be! But I’ve lived long enough now to know that this is still very much a “man’s world” in some ways & there are definitely certain times & situations in which I’d be very happy to change my chromosomes, at least for a little while. When I’ve read articles about how women have borne the brunt of a lot of Covid-related challenges, I’m always reminded of that conversation & think to myself “She was right all along.” On a rather different note, this teacher also taught me that just because someone has a bit of a “severe” demeanor does not mean that they aren’t at heart a very kind & caring individual.

Throughout all of middle school I was lucky enough to have the same English teacher every year who was one of the most amazing teachers I’ve ever known. There was something so incredibly human about her & how she approached her students. She saw us as more than pupils to be tested, that’s for sure, but even more than that she saw us as the budding adults that we were, whether WE realized it or not. I do not for the life of me remember the circumstances that prompted this conversation but I will never forget the day that she told me that there was a place in the world for “sensitive souls” like mine. She told me that because I was so sensitive I would experience both the highs/joys of life as well as the lows/sorrows of life in ways that others might never understand. Furthermore she told me that while this may feel like a burden at times it is also a blessing & can be a tremendous way to help others in need. As a somewhat shy teenager who was incredibly self-conscious & often felt lonely at school, these were words that wrapped me in comfort during my hardest moments. I’ve never forgotten them & over the years I’ve often had cause to reflect on how right she was.

In ninth grade (& twelfth grade) I had a science teacher whose motto was “Life’s not fair. I’m not nice. Get used to it.” Or maybe the last line was “Get over it.” Either way, the point remains the same. He might sound mean based solely on this quote but in reality he was a very decent person- he just expected his students to actually work & not just skate along & get good grades simply for existing. I for one loved his class & thought he was hilarious. In any case, that quote has stuck with me over the years & I am always reminded of it when I find myself getting torn up over the unfairness of life. I don’t think he was trying to tell us that we shouldn’t strive to make life more fair, but rather that we shouldn’t expend our energy moping about unfair situations instead of actually DOING something about them or finding a way to handle them even if we can’t change them. I will also confess that I have pulled this quote on my own child a time or two. Ha!

In tenth grade (& twelfth grade) I had a history teacher who was excellent for many reasons but the conversations I remember the most had nothing to do with history & everything to do with the future. And these conversations were not directed at me at all. It might have been career day during spirit week but in any case I’ll never forget the day this teacher asked a male classmate what his career plans were. The student stated that he wanted to be an NFL player. The teacher responded by calmly asking “What are you doing now to make that happen? Do you play on our school’s football team?” As it turned out the student was doing virtually nothing to make his dream come true- if I remember rightly he wasn’t even on the school football team. What I’ve always admired about this teacher is he did not use this situation to make fun of this student for having an unrealistic dream that he wasn’t actually working toward- rather he used this as a way to show us that our choices have consequences & that we have to actually do the work to chase our dreams. We can’t just wait around expecting miracles to happen. I also remember another discussion this teacher had with a female student who mentioned that her parents were very adamant with her that once she graduated she was on her own. She would have to support herself financially & that was all there was to it. Again, this teacher responded by calmly asking the student “What are you doing NOW to ensure that you will be ok after graduation? What plans do you have?” I’ll never forget that conversation for several reasons, one of which was that it made me realize that not everyone had parents who were as supportive as mine. I suppose I had known that on some level for a long time but that conversation made it all the more clear.

In ninth & eleventh grades I had another history teacher who left indelible marks on my mind. I wish I could think of very specific conversations we had but I just can’t. I think there were simply too many of them, especially in his eleventh grade American history course. This teacher was a bit of a former hippie (legitimately) who- at least in my view- was far more liberal & far less religious than the average person, or even the average teacher, in our small town. Throughout his class he challenged me in many ways about so many things I had been taught growing up, about so many pre-conceived notions I had about life. It was incredibly eye-opening & served in large part to make me the person I am today. One could say the wheels of my mind started turning in new motion largely thanks to his classes- even if I couldn’t or didn’t fully commit to some of those new ideas for a few more years.

The exact same thing could be said for my twelfth grade English teacher. Additionally, I literally read books differently now because of her. During her class I started highlighting or underlining important quotes in books so that I could use them to write papers, but all these years later I still find myself doing the same thing just so I can savor my favorite passages again some day.

There are so many more teachers I could mention but I’m trying to write more of an essay & less of a novel here, so I think I’ll end this by simply saying thank you to all the many wonderful teachers I’ve had over the years. I might have grown up in a “backwards” small town, in some people’s view, but there was certainly no dearth of excellent teachers there. And for that I will always be grateful.

By the way, I’d love to hear from my readers about teachers who strongly impacted your lives. Any of my hometown folks have stories to share about some of these same teachers? I bet y’all do. I’d love to hear them.

An Addled Mother’s Thoughts on PPD

Have you ever wished to have a different brain than your own? I definitely have. And I still do sometimes, especially as a mom. Everywhere I look I see friends, coworkers, former classmates, former coworkers, family members, & general acquaintances having their second, third, or even fourth kids. And here I am with a daughter who’s soon to be five still feeling like “Nope, I’m not ready to do that again.” When I say “that” I mean everything involved with having another baby but specifically the newborn & baby stage. As some of you may know, that was a very difficult & trying time for me. It’s really only been in the past year or so that I’ve come to fully appreciate just how bad my post partum depression really was. No, I wasn’t suicidal or psychotic, but I was far further down the rabbit hole of despair than I realized at the time. And the frustrating thing is I did so many of the “right” things that you’re supposed to do to help with PPD: I took medication (a slightly different version of what I took for anxiety prior to giving birth or even being pregnant), I went to therapy, I occasionally went to a new mom’s support group, I worked part time, I vented to friends & family. And yet I still struggled, far more than I ever let on.

The truth is part of me is angry because I feel like PPD stole things from me. I feel like I lost precious moments that I can’t get back. I also feel so guilty for complaining because I know many women have had far worse situations- but I also feel like I’ll never get past this fear if I don’t air it…. So, on that note, here we go…

Because of my pre-existing anxiety I was high risk for PPD anyway. Then throw in a jaundiced baby who had to be readmitted to the hospital after just one night at home- a miserable night that left me in tears too many times to count- & I think it was just too much for me. I know social media is always a highlight reel & most people don’t share the hard stuff, but every time I see people so excited about going home with their new babies & enjoying those early days at home, I must confess I feel a pang of jealousy. Again I know so many women who’ve endured far worse, but I just didn’t get a peaceful newborn period. Physically I recovered phenomenally well- I can’t complain there- but mentally was a whole other story.

Our first night at home I spent in anguish because I knew my baby was sick & nothing I was doing was helping. I felt helpless, terrified, & lonely. It’s not like my husband could breastfeed, you know! When we went to the pediatrician the next day, the doctor graciously helped me with breastfeeding & even taught me how to use my pump. But because it was a Saturday they couldn’t do labs there, so we had to then cart her 20 minutes across town to a hospital to get her labs checked. No sooner than we got home from that did we get a call from the doctor telling us she needed to be admitted for bili-light therapy. That required packing up & driving another 20 or 30 minutes all the way across the city to yet another hospital. So those first few weeks I spent pumping & recording the baby’s intake & output like a mad woman, meanwhile also struggling to breastfeed- which was FAR harder than I’d imagined, even though I’d taken classes & read up on it- & generally feeling like I was losing my mind. Over the weeks that turned into months, things slowly got better. We found a rhythm with breastfeeding. We finally got some decent sleep. We bonded more & more & things slowly began to feel more manageable. I slowly began feeling like less of a zombie & more of a proper human being again. But I’ve never forgotten those long nights & those incredibly dark moments of despair. And I truly think that the only real “answer” for my PPD was time- which makes the idea of potentially facing it again quite intimidating.

I’ve realized over the years that my experience is actually quite common. Yet what is less common is women being truly honest about it. There are so many legitimate reasons why we aren’t, but in the big picture staying quiet about our pain only hurts ourselves & each other. I’m writing all this to try to come to terms with my own experience in the hopes that maybe someday I’ll be brave enough to try again. I’m very encouraged by some friends who have told me that they actually fared far better with their second babies. But right now I’m still scared. I know this time I’ll have the advantage of experience, the advantage of knowing that what I thought was going to kill me didn’t- so if I can survive it once, feeling like that & having NO experience, I can definitely survive it again. Even so, with the state of the world today, it’s hard to be a parent of even one kid, much less more than one. Not that it’s ever been easy, but Covid has without doubt made parenthood FAR more complicated.

I’m also writing this in hopes that if another mom is reading this & struggling with PPD she will know she’s not alone. I’m here to say that if you don’t like the newborn or baby stage too much- because of PPD or other reasons- it’s ok. It does NOT make you a bad mom. If you have moments- maybe more than you’d care to admit- when you regret your choice to be a mom or fear you’ve made a mistake, it’s ok. You will survive, things will get better, & you are not alone. If you want to roll your eyes every time someone says “Oh, I’m so sad my baby is growing up” or “She’s getting too big, I’m not ready,” it’s ok. You can roll your eyes right along with me & silently (or not so silently) cheer every time your baby becomes more independent & learns something new. It’s ok! Some moms love the newborn, baby, & toddler stages. Some don’t. Either way is ok. We all have our own experiences & they are all valid.

Also it occurred to me last night that the fact that my kids will be at minimum 6 years apart in age- IF I ever have a second one, that is- really shouldn’t surprise me. It’s far more common to have kids 1.5-4 years apart but since when have I done things the “normal” way? I got married young (at 22) which was not unusual for my upbringing but IS unusual in the greater scheme of things these days. Furthermore I married my high school sweetheart which, while “traditional,” isn’t exactly the normal thing to do anymore. I left my hometown & never moved back which certainly isn’t unheard of but also isn’t the norm for most people from that area. I could go on & on but in many ways in life I have not done what “most” people have done, though I’ll be the first to admit I know folks who have strayed far further from the “normal” path than I have. But the point is it probably shouldn’t surprise me that I’m choosing to approach motherhood a bit differently than many others. I must also take the time to note that because we got married young I have the advantage of not HAVING to rush into motherhood because my biological clock isn’t ticking but so loudly (yet). I realize not everyone has that advantage & I am grateful that I do.

So will I ever have another kid? I have no idea at this point. Part of me feels like I just can’t go through all of that again. But part of me also feels like I’d really like another shot at it, that I’d really like to give my daughter a sibling & all the experiences that come with that, that I’d really like another baby to love & teach. But the truth is I’m just not sure I’m up to the challenge. This has been weighing heavily on my mind this year & frankly if it weren’t for Covid, I’d probably have been ready by now. But Covid makes parenting SO much harder & there is absolutely nothing I can do about that. Part of me wants to wait until the dust settles a bit more, but I also fear that may never happen & I’ll be left regretting my indecision someday.

So yes, right now I wish I had a different brain. I wish I didn’t feel the need to plan things so much. I wish I could just go off birth control casually & “see what happens,” like so many women seem to do. I wish I didn’t CARE so much about doing everything right & could just throw caution to the wind & say “Oh well, I’ll figure it out when it happens.” But my mind doesn’t work that way, it just doesn’t. And that’s all there is to it.