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Not OK

January 29, 2017

 

I don’t know what else to do on a Saturday night to express my concern, so I wrote some of my elected officials. I hope this country can heal…

I’m not a republican but I hope that you see that Donald Trump is tearing America apart.

These are my concerns:

Health

I’m scared I won’t be able to afford birth control pills—something I’ve taken since I was a 16 year old because I didn’t want to get pregnant and it helped calm my terrible periods—because the ACA may disappear.

Don’t get me wrong—it needs to be tweaked (right now, my husband can’t afford one of his medications that helps his crippling anxiety and I can barely afford an inhaler. I’m scared my antidepressant may be too expensive this year, too. I need this medication because I was raped when I was a teenager and have PTSD)—but removing it is unacceptable and politicians know that.

Do not let this man say “I’ve got something great” to replace the ACA with. He doesn’t. Americans know it. Do NOT act until you have a good fix, an update, a solution.

On that note: I’m sure you don’t think abortion should be legal. Apologies if I’m wrong in my assumption… But here’s my point. I’m not asking you to have an abortion. Or even to tell a woman she should have one. I am asking that you realize that this is a medical procedure and has absolutely no place in the political realm. Abortion is a medical choice. A personal choice. NOT YOUR CHOICE.

Hate

The president is destroying this country’s reputation and tearing it apart from the inside out. Banning Muslims entry? Are you kidding me? Just because someone enters our country from a supposed “dangerous” zone doesn’t mean that person is a killer. If we really want to stop mass shootings, why don’t we ban white males who have untreated mental illness who can easily obtain guns… oh, wait—we can’t because this country has a terrible health system and gun control is a joke.

This past week was so frightening and I’m white. Can you even imagine how terrifying it is to be a person of color in this country right now? You are an elected official and you have to represent all people. That includes people of color. Please make it known to this administration that any racist rhetoric is not tolerated. The president needs to speak out against the alt-right and decry any violence carried out by this hate group.

In addition to alt right hate and ignoring POC’s concerns, you also need to support LGBTQ people. I fear that any person who is considered “different”—aka not a straight, white male—is in danger under this president’s rule.

In addition to all the above concerns, I am worried about this president’s possible relationship Putin. It’s obvious that he does not view this man for what he is—a cold-hearted killer—and that is incredibly worrisome.

Oh, and let’s not forget climate change. It is real. Humans are making it worse. Why is this still up for debate? This country needs to invest in alternative energy and educate people how to work in the field. Create new jobs while saving energy. Yes, it’s not that simple, but any other option will surely lead to the death of this planet.

Please, if you have a heart, you will make it known that the president’s actions are not OK. Please help this country mend itself rather than allowing it to become further divided. I’m scared for this country and for the world.

Best,

Abbie Stutzer

This. Is. Real.

Just today, I heard a man talking to a friend about how he was scared that his work visa would not be renewed because he’s “from one of those countries–” his words, not mine.

“I couldn’t sleep last night. I just don’t know,” he said.

He was helping a friend study. They were talking about their education, their future.

He’s not the only one. I could list off at least three other similar conversations I’ve been part of, or heard, in the past month.

This isn’t OK. We must act and speak out against hate and ignorance.

Make America Dead Again

January 8, 2017

Let’s be honest. 2016 was rough for most people. It all started with David Bowie, a human I truly look at as an oracle, dying. And the hits just kept coming. Prince’s death, the U.S. election, Donald Trump… the go ahead for people to grab others by the pussy…

Although my personal life was pretty killer this year (I got married to an amazing person who really loves me, something I don’t think I’ve ever experienced before), I did suffer a big, ol’ setback in mid-July: I got drugged at a bar.

Although nothing physically happened that experience derailed my life more than I care to admit. All my previously healed emotional scars from my rapes, abuse, etc.,  became raw. Then, I basically gave up on my self. I planned to go to school this coming year for social work or mortuary science, but that goal seemed utterly unattainable after this simple, no good experience.

So, instead of applying for school, I got a full-time job and moved on. Or at least I thought I did.

Turns out, I was just biding time. Waiting to feel normal again without doing the work. I was blind to this until Halloween. When Paul and I got married, and I had some much needed time off, I began to think about all the things that scared, excited and interested me. That’s when I remembered how ready I was for change. Then, sadly, thanks to the recent American election, I became angry. REALLY ANGRY.

I got back in touch with my cunt feminist roots, my perpetual activist tendencies and decided to raise hell.

So, here I am, two or so months later, 10 tattoos in, totally broke, enrolled in 13 credit hours, and incredibly happy.

I am going back to school for mortuary science. Yes, that’s correct. I want to prepare bodies for their ultimate destination. But I want to do more than that.

I want to help people who know they are going to die come to a peaceful end.

I want to help families keep their loved ones in their home while bodies are prepared for burial.

And I want to provide different burial options that are safer for morticians, and the environment.

Go ahead. Call me crazy. And believe me. I know this is going to be difficult. Hell, I haven’t taken a math or science class since I was 20. I am now almost 34… But all this fear is invigorating. I know I’ll be an amazing student and, sorry, a killer mortician because I am older and I’ve lived. A LOT. I also know that I want to be that one funeral home worker who made someone’s death more peaceful, and the burial process better.

I hope I have the time to keep up with my writing during this time because, seriously, I’m going to have to vent.

So, until next time… Stay chill and don’t die until I’m ready to help your body and family through all that shit.

We’re All Going to Die

February 4, 2016

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Recently, things have been quite strange in my little corner of the world. Rad, but strange.

On January 9th, my awesome boyfriend asked me to marry him. The proposal was simple and cool — he did it in front of our pets, all four of them — and gave me a ring from a local thrift shop. And don’t think he’s cheap — that’s what I wanted. My request was for him to purchase a ring that was once owned by a bad-ass bitch who lived a life I could envy. And from the look of this ring, I’d say he did well.

After the proposal, I placed my aunt’s deceased mother’s wedding ring on top of the ring he gave me because 1. I love my aunt and want to honor her mother, 2. the ring Paul gave me was too big (sorry, Paul), 3. I love pre-owned jewelry. Why? Well, that’s complicated… I’ve always been intrigued by death, and for good reason…

When I was three years old, I “died” in surgery. I vomited in my anesthesia mask and, basically, choked on my own puke.

Hot!

The only reason I’m still here is because someone in the room heard me gurgle.

My physical recovery from the experience went well, but the mental one was complicated. For months my parents had to help me through night terrors, etc. I eventually worked my way through that trauma and lived a pretty normal life.

Many people may think my interest in death comes from that experience. Hardly. It’s the other things I’ve gone through; the traumas, deaths, sexual assaults, suicides, relationships, loves, life, personal experiences, illnesses, that have fed the connection I have with people who are no longer here.

Everyone turns to something, or someone, when they are trying to figure out life and death. While, yes, I did go to church as a child and do continue to hold some religious beliefs, I tend to lean toward a more spiritual belief system. Don’t ask me to explain it because it’s complicated and only works for me. But the basic gist of it is this: while other people go to church to talk to their god, I go into nature and visit the cemetery. These are the places I feel most at home because they are physical and remind me that I am mortal, and could die, like, now, so I may as well do the best with what I have.

Cemeteries and nature are equally sad and beautiful, and that’s why I want to have my wedding ceremony in a cemetery — which is, technically, in nature — so I could be in my church and celebrate my life, and my love’s life while we both have it.

Now, I understand that there are quite a few people who think my “cemetery wedding” idea seems disrespectful to the dead. To each their own — I certainly would never try to tell someone their opinion or feelings are wrong. We all experience life and death in different ways.

But I can’t help that I think cemeteries are awesome and the ultimate place to celebrate life. Now, I’m not saying that people should be dancing on graves all willy-nilly, but if, say, a couple does want to get married in a quiet manner at a cemetery, in an area that has no graves, why not let these people go for it?

After all, the cemetery residents would enjoy the show and perhaps get a bit of existential joy from the happy tears shed.

Image via Adrian Scottow

It’s Fall: Pumpkin Beer Chili and Banana Bread (Recipes)

August 24, 2015

This weekend has been ovaries-out amazing. It’s the first weekend that I’ve technically had off (freelancer translation: I am short on assignments and need to find some new clients) since the epic second move of the year. While the weekend was incredibly chill, it also was cool. Like, not “oh, cool, there’s free beer,” but chilly temperature cool.

Overnight temperatures in Kansas are slowly beginning to descend into the upper 50s. And while the daytime temps aren’t exactly cold, it didn’t get over 80 on Sunday. That cool morning breeze had me craving chili and banana bread.

So, of course I pulled out the crock-pot (and called Paul over — he’s the banana bread master) to make dinner.

Pumpkin chili

The chili — I’ll call it “Holy Hell, I Love Pumpkin” Chili — contained the following:

  • Two cans of garbanzo beans
  • A can of black beans
  • Half a cup of spinach
  • A cup of kale
  • A can of pumpkin
  • A can of lentil soup
  • A can of pumpkin beer
  • Tomato paste
  • A can of tomatoes
  • Chili powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, and pepper to taste

I cooked the concoction on the pot’s high setting for four hours.

Banana bread

The banana bread recipe came from Food.com. The only replacements: we subbed applesauce for the oil, and soy milk for the milk — we also added a dash of cloves and cinnamon.

Halloween wine glass

All in all, it was a damn good meal. And! I washed it all down with some box wine in the snazzy glass Paul bought me over the weekend — I can’t wait until Halloween, people.

Do you have any favorite fall recipes? If so, share ’em.

Witches Don’t Cry

August 20, 2015

Bell, Book, and Candle, Kim Novak

Autumn weather is here… for a day, at least.

August is balls hot here is Kansas, and I am ready to be done with it. I hate heat, dislike summer, and just want to cover my body up and start the chili cooking, bread baking, hibernation process, thank you very much. Why am I so psyched about this weather? BECAUSE THE NEW HOUSE I MOVED INTO IS SO NICE IN COOL WEATHER.

Home with Halloween decorations.

In this place, I actually: 1. Get sunlight 2. Don’t have a landlord that comes by unannounced 3. Have windows that provide air flow.

It’s pretty great, really, and it makes working from home so much more enjoyable. Also: It’s close to downtown! That makes going out for drinks, food, and other Lawrence, Kan. downtown festivals much easier.

So, as I mentioned last time, I’m trying to compile 10 Halloween costume ideas before the first day of fall. Since last here, I’ve thought of one more costume…

Kim Novak in “Bell, Book, and Candle”

I’ve cut and bleached my hair (for fashion reasons, not costume reasons), so, I could easily pull off the cool, cold witch Novak plays in this classic film.

If you haven’t seen the film, here’s one of my favorite scenes.

Have any of you thought up any Halloween costumes since I last wrote?

It’s Halloween Season

July 25, 2015

Many people think Christmas starts in mid-October. Others think that Valentine’s Day should be celebrated all February. And then there are folks who start preparing for Halloween in August. Well, I take it one step further and start in July.

While I’ve yet to start pulling out my Halloween decorations (I don’t have many in storage, but those will start going up in August after I move), I began planning my 2015 costume after July 4th — like any good American.

The following are my top 3 ideas so far. I hope to have at least 7 more before mid-September — when things get real.

~

Blue-Velvet

Woman Dancing on Car in “Blue Velvet

So, to achieve this look, I’ll just need a cheap blonde wig (unless my hair has grown out a bit by then), a pink skirt, and some iron on letters that spell out “In Dreams.” I believe I have the shoes already (but will have to check). So, all that leaves is some makeup and some solid dance moves. I’m sure no one will know who I am, but to me, that’s not the mark of a bad costume — it’s a sign that too few people have seen “Blue Velvet.”

whywolfWhywolf

My second idea is the Whywolf from “Adventure Time.” That will call for an over-sized coat, wolf ears, tiny glasses, and a pipe that blows bubbles — that last item makes me happier than I care to admit.

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Peachfuzz

Third idea is Peachfuzz from “Creep.” This will require a killer wolf mask and a slick track suit, but I think I’m up for the challenge.

~

I’ll keep you updated on my ideas. But in the meantime, I want to know what you die-hard Halloween lovers are planning for this year. Do you have a costume idea already? How are you going to decorate your house? I’m thinking about going full-on Lynch and doing a recreation of the “Blue Velvet” yard (severed ear and all).

Image source

Image source

Image source

Now I Know Why Everyone in ‘Troll II’ Hated Eggs (aka Pay Attention to Egg Labels)

June 22, 2015
Mary is judging your egg-buying choices.

Mary is judging your egg-buying choices.

So, you thought you were doing a good thing for the environment, your body, and all your feathered friends by buying eggs that are free-range, cage-free, or vegetarian. Well, just like that emoji-filled text you received from your on-again, off-again fling, egg carton labels also are filled with confusing wording and not-so-clear-cut labels.

What’s an egg-loving, conscious consumer to do? The journey to enjoying a homemade, guilt-free omelet isn’t difficult to embark on, but it is wrought with a lot of research. And since no one has time to do hours of research to figure out what each egg carton label actually means, here’s an uber-quick breakdown of what to look for when you’re shopping for eggs at the market..

What Eggs Should I Buy?

Organic eggs and eggs that feature the Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) labels are, by far, the best.

The Animal Welfare Approved label ensures that hens are treated with the utmost respect and fed well. According to the AWA, the group develops its standards by addressing aspects “of each species’ life-cycle needs from birth to death.” One farm that proudly touts the AWA label is California-based Long Dream Farm.

While the USDA Organic label is totally a boffo label, egg buyers still need to do some research to discover just how “good” the farm the egg’s come from is. According to Organic Authority, the USDA only regulates the hens’ feed and doesn’t really give a flip about their cages. Also: Some certified-organic egg producers still practice debeaking and forced molting. To make certain you’re supporting a farm that truly treats its hens well, check out Cornucopia’s website and consult its organic egg scorecard.

Now, another great option is to simply hoof it down to your local farmers’ market. While many locally produced eggs don’t necessarily have a label, any egg-lover can read about the farm’s egg producing policies by perusing a farm’s website, or buy chatting up the farmer who is selling the eggs.

Questionable Egg Labels

While the pastured label isn’t a terrible label for carton eggs to be adorned with (pasture raised means chickens can graze outside, and that the eggs are, typically, sourced locally — farms aren’t, however required to feed chickens organic feed), the following labels are pretty much worthless:

  • Natural: Natural means nothing. It isn’t a regulatory term, and it requires farms do nothing except produce and sell eggs.
  • United Egg Producers Certified: The Better Business Bureau cracked down on this label due to false advertising claims. The Humane Society reported that in late 2006, “UEP paid a $100,000 fine to settle false advertising claims by 16 state attorney general offices and the Washington, D.C., attorney general.”
  • Free Range: Yes, these chickens have access to the outdoors! But the amount of access? Totally not regulated.
  • Certified Humane: The standards of this label are really unclear, which basically means, they are totally worthless. According to Organic Authority, “the certification does prohibit cages, antibiotics and hormones, it does not ensure outdoor access for chickens and still allows for debeaking, which is typically done without anesthetics.”
  • Cage-Free: These chicks don’t reside in cages, but they also aren’t guaranteed a fresh, clean place to live, and are not guaranteed a life outdoors. Also, many of these hens are fed GMOS, and may be treated with antibiotics or hormones.
  • Vegetarian Eggs: This is probably the most misleading term out there, as chickens are naturally omnivores. Ignore this label unless it comes with an organic label, too. And even then, do your research to find out how these chicks are actually treated on the farm.

So, now that you’re up to date on egg regulations and terminology, you can wow your health conscious date this weekend with your knowledge, and surprise your date with an organic, AWA egg omelette the morning after.

Source: My lovely employers at Organic Authority

Image: schizoform