Trophy Girl: A novel review.

Fun fact: I’m the daughter of a Writer.

A Creative Writer.

A poet.

An Author.

To paraphrase one of the great 20th century humorists*, if you’ve ever been the only child in an art gallery full of works prominently featuring eyebrow-raising nudes in every conceivable medium while adults drinking oaky Chardonnay from small plastic cups gather to listen to other adults read their own poetry aloud in forced, cringey, pretentious tones, well…you might be the daughter of a Writer.

*see Foxworthy

Yes, I know that was a long walk just to get to a Jeff Foxworthy reference from his career-defining 1990’s comedy bit, but may I remind you that like oaky fundraiser Chardonnay, this blog is free.

Anyway, I’m referring specifically to what was known as the Fort Bragg Center For The Arts, or FBCA, which was, through my 7 or 8 year old eyes, a monthly happy hour held in the top floor of a decrepit yet charming atrium style department store in Northern California.

In its hey day, the venue for the FBCA gatherings was called Daly’s Department Store. I used to play, completely unsupervised, in the dusty storage rooms among the unclothed mannequin parts and Christmas window dressings and one old typewriter that still worked.

Since my mom was the event organizer (and for some reason didn’t believe in babysitters) I could run free through these happy hours in full view of glamorous taste-makers with silver-streaked hair in smart-framed glasses, draped in earth-toned patchouli scented scarves accented by large metallic 90’s brooches (and I haven’t even described the women.) These people were looking “intently” at everything in the gallery, the way you’re supposed to look at things in galleries, having what I assume were pithy exchanges dripping in the sarcastic undertones of the academic elite. They were always looking intently at everything, except for me. I was just someone’s late-in-life kid, darting in and out of their cultured conversations to get to the food table. (I should mention there were cubed cheeses and toothpicks, so you know it was fancy.) My dad would play jazz standards on the piano and once in a while I’d sing with him on the stage, to no one in particular, which is incidentally still my target audience to this day. It occurs to me now that he may have been playing piano because he was asked by my mother to do so, or he may have been playing to avoid having to talk to anyone swirling oaky Chardonnay in a plastic tumbler in a half repurposed department-store-art-gallery. Or maybe he just saw a piano and thought, “Hey, a piano.” Probably all, but mostly the third.

I think somewhere my parents have a VHS copy of when the local news station came to one of the events and I was more than happy to be interviewed about my opinion on the art, which I believe I described as “fabulous,” really making the most of my fourth grade vocabulary and launching my career in live television, specializing in completely useless commentary. See the Jazzoo interview on my IG highlight reel @MrsKansasMommy. I’m not proud of it but my dad’s comment in the background is the best…

https://www.instagram.com/s/aGlnaGxpZ2h0OjE4MDAxMTM3MTAzMTM4Nzc3?story_media_id=2802001590069129152&igshid=Zjc2ZTc4Nzk=

Anyway, enough about me and my “totally normal childhood” as the daughter of a Writer.

My mom, the aforementioned Writer, has released a fictional romance/action novel largely based on her own “totally normal childhood” as the daughter of a prominent Driver, a racing legend in Kansas. So I guess what I’m saying is all childhoods are weird but she turned hers into a page-turner full of suspense, drama, romance, and complicated family relationships set against the backdrop of the gritty, glamorous, and too often deadly national pastime of racecar driving in America.

It’s called Trophy Girl by Marlis Manley and it’s available on Amazon, so go add it to your holiday list right now. And you know I know good writing because as I explained, from a young age I was exposed to a lot of it, and then some. In a word, the book is…fabulous. (*callback.)

Guess Who’s Back: A Week In The Life Of A (Semi-Retired) Pageant Judge

Well guys, I’ve blown the dust off of my sequins and tried on every single thing in my closet I can still squeeze into, packed it all up, and will be proudly (even if it’s a little snug) wearing it in Florida this week where I’m honored to be part of a distinguished panel of judges once again.

If you’ve ever been curious about what it’s like behind the scenes of the life of a pageant judge, I’ll be sharing some fun snapshots and clips on my Instagram @MrsKansasMommy throughout the week.


Going into this trip, knowing I’d be back in the realm of glam that is my happy place (none of my daughters are into pageants so it’s really just “Mommy’s hobby”) free from the day to day minutiae of school drop offs and volleyball practice and cleaning up after the dog, I was packing my suitcase and remembering what it feels like to be nervous about presenting yourself the best way you can, flaws, insecurities and all. It takes courage to stand on your own two feet and say, “Hey, hi nice to meet you! This is who I am…”

Whether you’ve followed me for years or are just discovering my blog today, I’ve always been a huge proponent of the National American Miss Pageant system. I started judging state pageants for the organization ten years ago when my first daughter was 1. Over the last decade, my life has been so enriched by these experiences, meeting bright-eyed young ladies and being a tiny part of helping them grow in confidence and poise, building their sense of self worth and life skills that will carry them on into adulthood.

I’m coming into this week with so much respect for every single member of every family here. They are showing their daughters they believe they are worthy of being seen, heard, and celebrated. As a mother of four daughters, it’s my opinion that all girls deserve to know that their value does not lie in the outcome of a competition, their worth cannot be judged, and comparison to others is the thief of joy. The only person worth comparing yourself to is the person you were yesterday. We are all improving on our own timelines. When one thinks of how pageants are typically portrayed, that may seem counterintuitive. But my experiences with NAM have been fulfilling and inspiring.

To my own daughters I would say, the real trophies and crowns in life are invisible. The only way to win them is to earn them by being brave, being kind, and willing to look silly. If it doesn’t go your way one day, find a reason to laugh, gather up the lessons you’ve earned like you’re on supermarket sweep, and leave the rest behind you with the trampled glitter on the stage. Hoard all those invisible trophies, girls. Hoard that confidence, because you earned it. Keep taking the kind of chances that make you more YOU.

*Very important disclaimer to anyone associated with a contestant: I will not be looking at social media beyond my own posts, so any attempts to message me are strictly forbidden and will be reported. In ten years, this has never been a problem thankfully! But this is a friendly reminder to keep it classy. I’ll be documenting the light, fun, behind the scenes moments that make this amazing thing I get to be part of with my fellow judges so meaningful to me. Professionalism and discretion are of paramount importance to the integrity of this amazing celebration of empowerment and promoting confidence. Every single one of these young ladies will be treated with the fairness and protection that I would expect for my own daughters. Thank you in advance for your understanding and respect.

Emily

@MrsKansasMommy

Actual Things: Embarrassed Car Singer

Yesterday I was invited to a networking event at a fun little restaurant where I met a group of women (and few men) to talk about projects and upcoming fundraisers in KC. It was quite an anomaly to be somewhere on a school night meeting cool new people and talking about actual work projects. As I was driving home around 7:30, I was really feeling like a cool grownup writer and blogger, instead of a frumpy mom who’s been basically a shut in for the better part of two years. Like any cool grownup would do, I stopped right before my street (so my husband and kids wouldn’t know I was home yet) and played my cool grownup music (Ben Folds Five) while I just kind of bobbed my head, passionately singing along and mindlessly looking at my phone, coolly. Next thing I know, this lady comes out of her house and is (rightly) like, “What are you doing?!” and “Can you not?!” and “I just got my baby to bed!” First of all, do you realize HOW LOUD AND FOR HOW LONG I had to have been blaring Ben Folds to elicit this poor young mom to come out of her house in the dark and confront me? Needless to say, I’m mortified. My first instinct was to just move to a different neighborhood, but this morning I opted to drop off an apology note and a couple Starbucks gift cards. Honestly though, if some dummy woke up my new baby with unnecessarily loud acoustic music on a random Wednesday, I don’t know if there would be enough Starbucks in the world to make up for it. In my note, I assured them that I would be doing my car singing outside my own house from now on, and I almost added that I’m still available for birthday parties, but I didn’t know how well that would go over. So in conclusion, I absolve Ben Folds (and the other 4) from any blame associated with my behavior. I, alone, was Rockin’ The Suburbs. I was doing it of my own accord and I hereby formally apologize to any other families who may have been affected by my actions last night.

Sincerely,

Embarrassed Car Singer

#ActualThings

Spare me, Liar. (Alternate title: I Whistle A Happy Tune.)

When one of my daughters was 9, as I was tucking her into bed she asked me, “How come you’re not afraid of anything?

I said, “What do you mean?”

She said, “Like, how come you’re not afraid of spiders?”

I told her that I’m not entirely sure, but I think it has something to do with the fact that as a child my best friend (and step-aunt – yes we have a weird family tree -) Marisa was really afraid of spiders and she was littler than me so I pretended not to be afraid, just to make her feel better when she had bad dreams. So I concluded that maybe I just tricked myself into not being afraid? Whether the fact that I’m not afraid of spiders is a result of that or just a coincidence, I guess I’ll never really be sure.

Coming full circle, this technique totally backfired when I tried not to pass along my lifelong phobia of snakes to my young daughters by going out of my way to say how “cute” and “fascinating” reptiles are when they were toddlers. This led to them shoving library books in my face and innocently exclaiming things like, “Look, Mommy! A picture of a snake! Your favorite!” Cut to me breaking out in the full meat sweats covered in hives. Just a simple picture in a children’s book would send me reeling, literally feeling the saliva drain from my mouth and the blood drain from my face as my entire back wet through my shirt and I started doing some weird panic version of heavy lamaze breathing. (Is lamaze breathing redundant? Would you still get the point if I had just said lamaze? Also remind me to someday publish my 600 page book of essays entitled, “Why I Can’t Go Back To That Library.” Spoiler alert: there’s more than one library.)

When the girls were older, we once got invited to a friend’s uncle’s farm in the country and it was like that horror scene from the National Lampoon’s Vacation movie where I looked over and saw my children playing with a F*CKING BUCKET of baby black snakes. You know…black snakes…the “harmless ones.” Harmless, that is, if you don’t have an automatic vomit trigger from fear and anxiety. I was too paralyzed to scream before I felt my knees start to waiver and my innards upheave, but I’m here to tell you ladies and gentleman, that I did not yell, puke, or faint, BECAUSE I’d been training for so long in case such a moment should arise. Poise-wise, it was my Jackie Kennedy at the funeral procession moment. Methinks I shall never summon a more courageous portrayal of “normal person doing fine” again; it was truly the performance (and bowel retention) of a lifetime.

That whole “fake it til you make it” thing is really misleading because it implies that if you fake it long enough you’ll eventually make it. In my experience this hasn’t always been the case. Marisa is still afraid of spiders, and yet I’m not, but I’m still afraid of snakes. (If you’re wondering how much appreciation she has for my sacrifices on her behalf, a couple of years ago she bought my kids souvenir cups at the Sedgwick Zoo in the shape of Boa Constrictors. She “swears” she thought they were “elephants.” OKAY, MARISA.)

Honest question: how many of you have intentionally lied to your kids about something you intensely fear/dislike to spare them the bad feelings you had to overcome?

Maybe the “making it” part of the old adage is that even if we couldn’t truly overcome our inner fears, at least we tried and hopefully didn’t pass our burdens onto our children unnecessarily. Then again, what if I’m just teaching my kids to be liars and telling myself it’s a means to an end of not having them absorb my fears? Also, how bad will I feel if one of them gets bitten by a snake?

 

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Robert Smith Part II And A Request For Glenn

If you’re not familiar with Robert Smith, he was a wild rabbit who lived in the side yard of our old house and we would often watch him out the window. Once I got bored and declared we should give the rabbit a name. Thinking myself clever, I joked, “How about Stu?” (As in, Rabbit Stew.) With the clout of a distinguished school headmaster, my young daughter immediately retorted that my joke was inappropriate and that the sensible choice for a name was obviously “Robert Smith.” So “Robert Smith” became a household name. As in “who can stop crying over that weird My-Little-Pony-Barbie-hybrid-thing that really just looks like a slutty teenage horse and spot Robert Smith in the yard first?!” I admit that at times I, myself, knew that Robert Smith was not in the yard, but distraction is a parenting technique I learned from my mother. See: There Was No Cat.

A year later, as my two young daughters and I were walking to our neighborhood pool, we came across the severed leg of a rabbit…we’re talking half fur, half bone. The gist of it is that while my little one, Savvy, spotted the carnage and immediately began to fret about getting some sort of bunny doctor, my then stone cold 5 year old informed her that, no, sadly the bunny that was previously attached to that leg was dead forever. She then casually suggested, “It was probably Robert Smith.” I encourage you to read the full anecdote (and see the picture) here if you haven’t already: The Tail Of Robert Smith

Cut to 2021: I’m driving with my girls (now 7 and 10) past an undeveloped field behind the local Zaxby’s chicken franchise (which is irrelevant, but I like their Zalads) when we spot an adorable lost pupper. He is so adorable that I pull over the car with the intention of rescuing him. Upon getting a closer look, our eyes focus on the bits of blood and fur flying through the tall grass as our new friend goes to town on an unfortunate, but apparently delicious little bunny.

Me: “Oh…guys that’s not a dog, it’s a coyote. He’s adorable, but he’s obviously a killer.”

Avery: “His name should be Ted.”

*Much like the time I suggested the name “Stew,” the next thing I said was purely for my own amusement, as the kids are still so young that most of my dark references go right over their heads.*

Me: “Ted’s a good name. We could name him Ted Bundy because he’s probably murdered before.”

Savvy: “No, Ted BUNNY because he kills rabbits.”

It’s rare that I miss an opportunity for a pun, and even more so when I’m outdone by a 7 year old with no concept of famous serial killers. It will be years and years before Savannah realizes how truly funny her suggestion was, but I’ll keep laughing and documenting along the way.

I’m reminded of a story my dad, Glenn (yes, THEE Glenn) tells about his childhood pet rabbit named “Ralphie” and I’m formally requesting here and now that he write a guest post to complete this family saga. Glenn, do you think you could stomach reliving it for the sake of your little girl’s blog readers?

Alternate Titles:

Hare For A Good Time, Not A Long Time

Bunny Tales

Tuna: Chicken of the Sea; Rabbits: Chicken of the Fields

Happy Mother’s Day (Things No One Tells You…)

A few months ago I wrote this poem for my daughters. I sent it to my Mom, an accomplished writer, and she said it was really sad. For this woman to say something I wrote is too sad to post is like Eeyore telling Winnie The Pooh that his whole “‘Oh Bother’ catchphrase is bumming people out, and incidentally red really just isn’t his color.” This is a woman who breaks her back to make the most magical Christmases for her children and grandchildren, and then every December 25th around 9am, amidst the whole family in piles of wrapping paper and bows, enjoying the food and toys and gifts she’s slaved over for weeks, audibly sighs and declares to no one in particular, “Well, that’s Christmas.” Our smiles drop momentarily as we each look down at our snowman-shaped mugs of coffee or gaze out the family room window at nothing in particular before someone brightly volunteers to help put together a four thousand piece lego spaceship-escape-room just to break the silence and stave off the fog of misery that has descended upon the room, seemingly originating from the decades-old, yellowing angel figurine atop the Christmas tree who used to symbolize Christmas magic but now just reminds us all of our slow march toward whatever afterlife awaits.

Dammit I love that woman.

Here’s where my mind is today: Mother’s Day is complicated for a lot of women. It brings up a lot of big feelings. Feelings like guilt, pressure, and regret. Motherhood is the greatest blessing, but it’s not for the faint of heart. It can be downright lonely and sad. If you’re feeling that way today, just know you’re not alone.

A Poem For My Daughters (Things No One Tells You)

Someday you’ll cry in the shower

Or on your closet floor

Hide muffled sobs from little ears through a laundry room door

Pain has a way of washing up like waves upon a shore

And crying is the only way your heart makes room for more…

…More patience, humor, grit, and grace, to weather what’s in store

You’re lonely now but you’ll survive like all of us before.

Well, that’s Mother’s Day.

-Emily

Actual Things: Going To The OBGYN: Part II (This Is Primarily For Other Moms. If You’re A Man You Might Not Want To Read This)

Over five years ago I wrote about a particularly awkward trip to the gynecologist. You see what happened was, after the birth of my second child I had a cancer scare after a routine exam. It turned out to be okay, but I had a lot of follow up appointments for a while and my daughters weren’t yet in school full time so on this particular day, my sitter cancelled last minute and I had to take my two curious little ones with me into the room for a pelvic exam. You can read about it HERE.

Today I went back to that same OBGYN office for an exam. (And before you ask, I’m not sick or pregnant, praise the good Lord.) As I checked in at the front desk via the sanitized iPad, I noticed a tower of business cards that caught my eye. The first name I saw was Dr. Healy, which I mused was a cute name for a doctor. Then I saw the second card of a one: Dr. Rips. I chortled into my mask as I hastily took a picture to send to my friends.

Now if you’ve never experienced the miracle/indignity of childbirth, you may not see why this is particularly funny, but there is something many women experience in the whole life-giving process that starts with an “E” and ends with an “otomy” and the thought of someone named Dr. Rips handling this scenario was just too hilarious for my immature mind to process.

After texting all my friends and stifling my giggles as their replies rolled in, I was called into the exam room. It was not a regular exam room, it was a special low-lit lab exam room. See, I had to get an ultrasound, and not the kind where they just wave a wand over your belly. Let’s just say the call was coming from inside the house.

As I looked past my knees to see the TV screen projecting my innards in black and white, I glanced over at the wastebasket in the room and noticed that someone had discarded a box of Lean Cuisine. The flavor you ask? Why, “Classic” Macaroni and Beef, of course.

First of all, who the hell has ever heard of “Classic” Macaroni and BEEF? And who is eating this over the garbage can in the small, dimly lit exam room where they probe people and display it on closed circuit TV?

Sometimes I feel like my life is one long episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

I texted this picture to my mom’s friend who was a nurse for many years and she offered the explanation that perhaps this person was having lunch in that room because of “social distancing.” I said, “I’ll tell you the only thing that was social distancing…my ankles in those stirrups!” HEY-OH! She then replied that I was “entertaining” which is like the word “stunning.” Neither are inherently positive or negative. But that’s what you get for giving me your cell phone number, Linda.

And those are the actual things.

This Dumb Barbie (*language disclaimer*)

When I started this blog almost 8 years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. If you’ve read any of my posts, you’ll not be remotely surprised by that revelation.

Two years ago I moved into a one-bedroom apartment with my daughters. Lots of life happened quickly. Writing about what I was going through was intimidating at best, subject to legal threats at worst. As the smoke billowed from my life implosion, I tried to gather up anything I had left of myself. Right about then, I got some anonymous comments from someone who went to the trouble to create various email accounts, presumably without realizing any dumb barbie could see their IP address. Seems like a lot of effort and I don’t want to be rude, so I’ve taken a year to think about it and I’d like to respond to that commenter now:

“Nothing to see here.”

-Cold, concise. Solid burn.

“Haha this dumb barbie.”

-How did you know? I still have the costume from the 2004 Tri Delta Halloween dance, but it’s really flimsy, like your comment. And it’s really tacky, like my 2004 spray tan. Here’s a picture of it with one of my besties exuding confidence and class.

“You should stop being a barbie and be useful.”

-I just told you I stopped dressing like a Barbie in college. Be useful for what? Just like, in general? The only times in my life that I’ve turned out to be useful are just as much a surprise to me as anyone else, but I’ve never thought of it as something to strive for, reputation-wise. “We should invite my friend Emily. She’s useful.” “Nah, let’s invite the dumb barbie.”

And finally,

“You’d pull that dress up a little higher for your hubby if you wanted to get me off his cock. He loves when I ride him and you wish you were there. Keep taking your little slut photos. Gives me time to ride.”

-First of all, that escalated quickly. Second of all, which dress? 

Friend, I still have a lot to say on this blog. None of it will be “useful” or directed to you again, except that you did shock me, you did make me question my validity, and you did hurt my feelings.

But I feel a little bit better now. And I honestly hope you feel better too.

Nothing to see here. 

I Didn’t Delete My Profile Pictures After Divorce

You know what? I think it’s weird. I think it’s weird when people pretend like a marriage never happened. I think it’s weird when they delete all digital evidence as if that will delete the truth of what once was their life.

I select meaningful gifts for my ex-husband and post about him on Father’s Day, because he is 50% of the best things that I ever made. Nothing, not even time, can change that.

So go to my Instagram. Go to my Facebook. Take a look at the life that we had. It was good in many ways. And what is social media for, if not to highlight the good times. No matter what *some* people think about “social media protocol,” I will not pretend like my life didn’t happen — like my children’s lives didn’t happen.

I’m happily remarried now, and in our childrens’ rooms I’ve lovingly placed pictures of their original families. Because, as we say in our house, step/bonus/whatever-you-call-it parents are just extra love. It doesn’t take away from the fact that you had an original family. Love is never lost. I have a close friend who’s with her mother in the hospital today. An estranged mother who left her early in life, but she still felt a call to go to her. And I don’t know who else needs to hear this, but your mom is always your mom, no matter what. You will always have love for her.  There is no shame in compassion, as there is no shame in boundaries. As people, it is our job NOT to define each other by the worst of our decisions. I am not a perfect mom. No no one is. (Except for my mom, but don’t tell her I said that.)

My mother once told me that babies bring all the love they need into the world with them, they don’t take any love away from anyone. I believe this is true of blended families. Nothing is taken, only gained. And that’s all I have to say today. I hope you think about it too.

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Don’t Call It A Comeback.

The other day, I published my first blog post in over a year. I was stunned by the wonderful feedback I received. I openly attribute my successes in my life and relationships to the fact that I don’t work too hard to force anything.  Blame it on my idyllic childhood and the blind sense of confidence it’s afforded me, but in truth, there wasn’t a whole lot of adversity I had to overcome as a kid. This is apparent to me now more than ever as Americans collectively face truths about the disparity between our walks in life, many of which start out purely circumstantial upon birth and are beyond our individual control.

During quarantine, I ordered myself a journal called Burn After Writing by Sharon Jones. The idea is that you open up a page at random and fill out whatever question/writing prompt you happen upon that day. The deal is that you make a vow to yourself that you will answer honestly, no matter what.

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Some of the questions are no-brainers for me.

MY LEGACY IS…

“-My children.”

Some of them I just don’t have the courage to face in that moment and I have to come back to them a different day.

THREE THINGS MY ALTER EGO WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY:

*(blank)*

When I figure it out, maybe I’ll let you know. Probably one of them is to wash my face before bedtime.

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My husband was the first person to ever teach me the phrase “virtue signaling,” which you can look up yourself, but it basically means making your social/political views known online for the sake of getting “Likes” from people who agree with you and possibly baiting or passive aggressively shaming those who don’t share your viewpoint.

I have tolerant, kind, generous family members that love each other very much; they share recipes, stay up laughing and playing cards, loan each other money, and make a point to show up for important moments in life, big or small. But if you judged them solely based off what they share on Facebook, you’d think they were philosophical, moral, and idealogical enemies. This, to me, is the condensed picture of virtue signaling. It’s not that they aren’t well-meaning. It’s not that they wish harm to those who disagree. For some reason they feel the compulsion to define and declare themselves publicly over and over and over again, even though pretty much everyone on Facebook is just preaching to their own choirs.

When it comes to me, I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to be genuine without sounding like I’m virtue signaling on whatever is the topic du jour. And I’m getting so paranoid about saying something versus not saying something I’ve considered just randomly ‘shouting’ out all-caps status updates of abhorrent things I’m against, just to be “on the record.”

I AM ANTI-INCEST!

END PUPPY-KICKING!

I DO NOT APPROVE OF PEDOPHILIA!

I BELIEVE THAT A PBJ SHOULD BE MADE BY SPREADING PEANUT BUTTER ON ONE SLICE OF BREAD, USING THE SLICE OF BREAD APPOINTED FOR JELLY TO WIPE THE EXCESS PEANUT BUTTER OFF THE KNIFE, THEN DIPPING THAT KNIFE IN THE JELLY TO COVER THE SECOND SLICE. AND THEN, AND ONLY THEN, EVER THE TWO SLICES SHALL MEET.

But I think my biggest problem with virtue signaling is the same problem I have with people constantly announcing that they are “praying for you” over the slightest inconveniences.  I’m not sure everyone is taking the time to make sure they are actually being genuine. Before you can be genuine, you have to know yourself. I think a lot of us get swept up in sharing what we think people will like, versus what we truly mean. My mom used to have a magnet on the refrigerator that said, “No, thyself.” I think it had a picture of a slice of chocolate cake or something like that. Clearly the manufacturer of the magnet thought, hey, let’s take an Ancient Greek philosophical saying out of context and turn it into a pun we can print on a tchotchke we can sell to women to remind them and their friends that they shouldn’t eat. Their young daughters can see it and internalize it without having the slightest bit of context. Now lest you think I am blaming my mother or that magnet for my 15+ year eating disorder, I am not. The real crime is that the “joke” isn’t worth the payoff, and neither is a lot of the virtue-signaling clickbait online. To be clear about the magnet, I can tolerate the monetizing of widely accepted unattainable beauty standards portrayed in advertising, but what I cannot and will not stand for is lazy punnery (TM).

Side note: What I DO blame my parents for can be summed up in two words: Kindergarten Circus. Marlis and Glenn, I know you say that you had already “taken off work so you could move us from our tiny rental house to our new house and couldn’t get back the deposit so you had to spend the day moving our furniture by yourselves to make a new home for our family blah blah blah,”  but honestly, I SHINED on that gym mat in the middle of the playground that day and I hope it haunts you for all your days that you never got to see my vague, haphazard ballerina moves and and faux, but extremely convincing tightrope walking. I digress…

Easing into summation here, there is a line from one of my favorite movies, Love Actually, when Billy Bob Thornton (the antagonist) casually says to Hugh Grant in their diplomatic negotiations, “I’ll give you anything you ask for, as long as it’s not something I don’t want to give.” The second I heard that line, I recognized myself immediately, and not in a good way. In a Truman Show-esque moment, I became acutely aware of the bubble around me; all the times I’ve behaved badly and gotten away with it where others might have been harmed, or worse, killed for doing the same or less.

There is a plethora of reading you can do on the psychology of how you can hone your strengths to build virtue. We are all works in progress. I often remember the old adage, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all, but I believe strongly in communication, and sometimes what we genuinely have to say isn’t “nice.” So what if we began conversations about what and why we have our beliefs within our own minds and then posted them if they still felt authentic within our hearts. Let’s vet our posts and reposts to be in favor of working toward peace, instead of controversy or the selfishness of virtue signaling. Because isn’t it in all of our best interest to create peace where we can? Sometimes the most powerful peaceful act you have at your fingertips is something as  mundane-sounding as not sharing a hate bait article online.

To hopefully put a non-offensive bow on my musings here today, I encourage those of you who have looked within, thought, prayed, and meditated on what you genuinely care to spend your time on earth representing, by all means, share it proudly. Let your genuine voice be heard. But please don’t feel pressured to post polarizing things from unreliable sources just to virtue signal your commitment to your side of whatever cause is trending that day whether it be race relations, the wage gap, immunization, or the proper way to make a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich, MARISA!

So may peace be with you. And also with y-I mean, and with your spirit. (That’s a little inside for the Catholics out there.)

In the spirit of a call for peaceful change, I’ll leave you with a quote by James Todd Smith:

“Don’t you call this a regular jam. I’m gonna rock this land. I’m gonna take this itty-bitty world by storm, and I’m just getting warm.”

Thanks for checking in,

Em

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