Thursday, November 30, 2017

I Fixed Matt Lauer’s Shitty Apology

I relied on the work and advice of one of my favorite writers, Ijeoma Oluo, to fix Matt Lauer's recent apology for sexual abuse and harassment:

There are no actually some words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others my victims--women with lives, careers, families, aspirations, and humanity--by my dehumanizing words and actions, and for once I am going to try to do what no other man in this situation has managed to do this year so far, which is to make a credible public apology that doesn't ultimately come off sounding like a bunch of self-serving bullshit. 

To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I am writing this I accept that I can never realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC and also, again, in the lives of the many women whose mental and physical integrity I violated continuously with impunity over many years, wielding my position of power and authority in service of my own sexual dominance and gratification, resulting in untold and unknowable harm both to these women and to the contributions they could have made to their field if not for my misconduct.

Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I refuse to call my victims liars, because the truth is that I whipped my dick out at work on a regular basis for no good reason, and given my stature and public profile, my selfishness likely impacted my reporting on matters of national import, and, inevitably, the consequences that flowed from that reporting. 

I regret that I had to wait like a coward to be accused in order to confront my misconduct before taking ownership of it, because I was hoping no one would ever come forward and it would all just go away and I could continue to make millions of dollars a year. my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly.

Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching and I'm committed to beginning that effort. It is now my full time job, because I was deservedly fired from my other job. The one where I sexually harassed and abused women. I know there is no such thing as asshole rehab, so I will not stoop to declaring that I am going to "therapy" to make it all better. 

The last two days have forced me to take a very hard look at my own troubling flaws what I did to the women I have irreparably harmed in ways I can never know. It's been humbling. For once, this really isn't about me, except to the extent I manage to understand rape culture and how sexual harassment affects victims and the lasting impacts of my conduct on those victims. I do not expect anyone's forgiveness, and will now use the power that I previously abused to intimidate women and get off, and channel it instead, in a productive way, to somehow make sure no man acts like I did ever again.  I am blessed to be surrounded by the people I love. I thank them for their patience and grace.

Image result for matt lauer images

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

I’m Totally Giving Up On Socks

At this point in my life, I only have so much mental bandwidth for gratuitous concerns. My psychological real estate is at a higher premium than a 2,000 square foot exposed brick loft in the Meatpacking District. I simply must clean house.

My fire sale of brain clutter started several years ago, when I began a concerted effort to unburden myself of fucks.

First came caring about whether people talked shit about me behind my back, followed quickly by fears of personal and/or professional reprisal borne of calling Donald Trump a fascist cantaloupe on the internet every day. Truth be told, I still harbor maybe 28% more fucks than I’d like to, but hey. It’s a process.

Now, I am officially, totally, and 100% giving up on socks, which almost rhymes with fucks.

Whether they match. Whether they fit. Whether they have holes. Whether they disappear in the laundry, and where they go when they do. Whether my kids keep them on their feet or refuse to wear them in winter, or left them at another kid’s house. Whether I accidentally wear a pair with visible curse words sewn on them to a meeting or a parent-teacher conference. Whether there’s some sock-related life hack method I could use to make sure all of these problems were fixed.

Like I just can’t. I can’t let socks take up any more space in my mind than they do in my house, and preferably a whole lot less.

I encourage you to pick one thing that’s overstayed it’s welcome in a corner of your headspace that could better be used for more important things. It’s like giving up chocolate or alcohol for Lent, except you don’t have to be Catholic and it doesn’t have to be something you like or a sacrifice. It’s actually a reverse-sacrifice.

For me right now it’s socks. Tomorrow it could be folding my kids’ clothes before making them put them away, or perhaps ensuring that the big and small spoons live in two different compartments in the silverware drawer, or tuning out Christmas music when it’s not even December yet.

Live your best life by picking something to totally give up on.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

How I Wound Up in a Tub Full of Listeria-Ridden Foam Cubes for the Second Time in Three Days

“Can I finish ONE goddamned sentence without you interrupting me with ‘MOM! MOM! MOM?!’ Just ONE sentence?! Can’t you see we’re trying to figure this out? GAWD!!”

Three adults were trying to solve a problem. A problem I alone created. And three kids bouncing like pinballs in the back seat of my friend Michelle’s minivan were 100% determined to make finding the solution as hard as possible.

I had just provided Geoff with heavy ammunition for his case against me. You know what I mean by the “case.” I’m talking about the flashpoints in every marriage that reinforce one person’s negative views of the other, over and over again.

This particular flashpoint theme was “Libby spends every second in NYC napping due to alleged ‘overstimulation’ or mired in a sticky web of old-parent anxiety, bad-friend guilt, and/or bric a brac-triggered nostalgia that numbs her parenting reflex and keeps her from doing THE ONE JOB Geoff asked her to do.”

In this particular case, THE ONE JOB was to look up the hours of the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey.

Living in Juneau for so many years means I am woefully out of practice at researching the hours of large facilities online. So I’d made the rookie mistake of trusting the Google hours as opposed to going to the actual museum’s website, so that “open every day” turned out to be “closed on Mondays.”

This would not have been a big deal, but for the fact that it was Monday, and we were a mere three exits away from our destination when I realized my error, thus committing us all to 1.5 hours of unnecessary Turnpike traffic. Michelle, child and work-free for the day, was driving and couldn’t have given less of a shit, but agreed with me that yes, the traffic was in fact a lot worse than it used to be.

Geoff and the kids were, predictably, far less forgiving.

Suddenly, the science center that my shamefully intellectually incurious spawn had whined for 45 minutes straight would be SO BORING was a must-see, whose closure was a tragic disappointment courtesy of their mother. A disappointment that might now never be rectified. 

Geoff piled on, listing every self-indulgence on my iPhone--Facebook, Twitter, texting, cat memes, etc.--that is NOT looking up information we actually need. Indeed, the only thing saving my good name in his eyes was the fact that he wasn’t the one driving.

No matter. We salvaged the day. And how did we do it? By acquiescing to greasy food preceded by the third trampoline park visit in as many days. 

There I discovered that for the low-low price of I'm not even counting anymore, I could test the elasticity of my boobs (FAIL) while tempting fate to a second ACL tear, discover that I needed new bras a lot more than I'd realized, and contract listeria in a giant pit full of green and yellow foam cubes that were surely the vector of every viral and bacterial illness carried by children aged 3-13.

Michelle and I shouldered past the Real Housewives of Yonkers-type moms with their kids, standing around in lip gloss, Ugg boots, Lulu Lemon leggings, tunic sweaters, and flat-ironed straightened hair. They had the good sense to just mill about their strollers gossiping. 

Not me! I had the good sense to challenge Michelle to a duel with cushioned battering rams, and push her and me into a tub full of soft, cushy disease cubes. There we laid for the better part of our 60 minutes of "jump time," expressing relief that maybe we would now both die of listeria before Trump could nuke us all.

O.H.M. saves the day once again.

Monday, November 27, 2017


Lecturing a neurotic, anxious, barely-controlled-with-medicine depressive semi-lunatic to “BE GRATEFUL!” and “SAY WHAT YOU’RE THANKFUL FOR!” is like screaming at a fish to “KEEP SWIMMING, YOU SCALEY ASSHOLE!”

Like seriously, I assure you I’m already implementing this directive. On steroids.

I’ve read all the articles and the studies and I get it: mindfulness is good, gratitude is better, and mindful gratitude is an elusive nirvana where you’re permanently stoned on your own sticky dank nugs of inner peace. It’s high concept, and I have to get there.

For now though, I’m here, and here is light years away from there. Where’s here? I’m glad you asked!

Here is where I watch my kid turn on the faucet and actively think to myself, wow, I can’t believe he can just drink clean water right out of a tap instead of having to walk barefoot three miles one way to a well full of fecal coliform bacteria!

Here is where I appraise every car, gun, turbulent plane ride, and weird skin mole as a future harbinger of death to me or someone I love, and feel relief when the sun sets each night and the Grim Reaper is miraculously held at bay for just one more day.

Here is where I put watermelon rinds into the compost, turn up the thermostat to 73, and thumb through the American Girl Doll catalogue while marveling that a plastic doll named Kelsey has her own snowboard—a piece of expensive althletic equipment that most human girls on earth don’t even know exists, much less use, much less have a DOLL who uses it.

So believe me when I tell you that I’m grateful. I PROMISE. I don’t need a special day where I’m forced to announce all of my gratitude out loud lest the aggressive Industrial Gratitude-Shaming Complex accuse me of being a self-absorbed ingrate.

I’m already grateful. Maybe a little too grateful, even. Can’t I just be crazy 364 days a year and take the 365th off? Is that too much to ask?



Saturday, November 25, 2017

A Convo That Took Place at Every Single Thanksgiving 2017 at Some Point

Family Member 1: Have you seen that thing on YouTube?
Family Member 2: What thing?
FM1: You know, that thing with the guy from Japan who puts on a latex suit and rides a dirt bike over a ramp covered in Vaseline?
FM2: No I haven’t seen it...wait wait maybe I have? Let’s search it.
FM1: Okay. Wait what’s the WiFi password here again?
FM3 (from another room): Sam100945
FM4: Is your WiFi password seriously your birthday?
FM2: What’d she say? I couldn’t hear.
FM1: Okay okay here it is here it is this is seriously like the funniest most viral thing on the internet right now you’re gonna laugh so hard when you watch this ... ugh... why is it taking so long to load? Hey did you see what Trump said today it was so crazy—
FM2: We just got kicked off the WiFi. You guys need to reset your router.
FM1: Wait wait here it is!
[YouTube video plays for 3:47] wasn’t that the funniest thing ever?
FM3: What’s a router?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Being “Rebound Girl” for This Modest Mouse Is #LifeGoals

Like the oil barons, loggers, and mining prospectors of yore, I came to Southeast Alaska to tap a rich vein of 24 carat gold. But this motherlode isn’t in the hills away up north of Berner’s Bay. No, it is found deep in the verdant valleys of the Juneau Craigslist personal ads.

Dragging anonymous, inadvertently un-self aware douchebags online is my business, and business is good.


Now, let me just state the obvious: I would never shame this man if I knew (or even suspected) who he was, so my critique of his personal ad should be viewed simply as a favor.

A favor from someone with a vagina to someone looking for a vagina, in order to help the latter rebound hard into a half-order of tuna tacos like a gynecologist at a trampoline park made entirely of pussy.

So let’s roll up our sleeves and dig in, shall we?

First of all, you’re looking for “fit, smart, and witty” and you yourself (shockingly) are also “fit, smart, and witty.” What happened to opposites attract? Maybe obsese, dumb, and humorless would be an easier sell?

In any case, the first rule of compelling writing is “show don’t tell.” So perhaps instead of declaring your fitness, wit, and intelligence you could somehow demonstrate at least the last two qualities by not advertising for rebound poon on Craigslist.

See, Craigslist in 2017 is where you go to find BDSM bottoms, oboe lessons, Russian mail-order brides, and used pleather recliners. Not REI-catalogue quality tail in wraparound sunglasses, powder skis, and two cute braids, knowm sayin?

Also, are you SURE you “have no enemies?” If you’re Juneau famous, as you’ve said, then you likely have some enemies.

Take it from one medium-sized goldfish in a shallow muddy koi pond to another: to know you is to love you, and to not know you is to call you a reprehensible cunt online and probably behind your back as well.

So before you declare yourself both enemy-free AND “fairly well-connected,” it might behoove you to learn that those two concepts are mutually exclusive, at least in Juneau.

Getting to the specifics, what exactly is the “usual SE-AK stuff?” Surely boating, hiking, hunting, and fishing come to mind.

But also going to a store that’s supposed to be open and finding it inexplicably closed for no reason, ordering a $12 salad made of Costco spinach that is not available despite appearing on a restaurant’s menu, waking up to find your ferry sailing canceled and your ass parked in Petersburg for an extra week with no spare underpants, and wiping out on icy Main Street in downtown Juneau in the wrong pair of Dansko clogs that you wore home from a potluck last night also fit the bill, no?

Is that the stuff you mean? If so, it might be smart and witty of you to say so.

We’re also going to need some more details on the whole “my wife slept with another man and called me while she was doing it” piece of the narrative. This is where things get interesting, and you should exploit the pain of being cuckolded for a good story arc here.

Like, did she literally put you on speaker WHILE she was doing “IT?!” If so, that is a pretty sick burn and I almost want to call up your ex-wife myself and high-five her because that is some expert-level trolling.

I’m not sure what if anything you could have done to deserve a phone call mid-bone with your boo’s side-piece.

I’m not suggesting it’s your fault, mind you. I’m also not NOT suggesting it’s not your fault, if that makes sense. Especially given your brutal honesty, which in this context is not actually the best policy.

Now I don’t claim to speak for all intellectual friendly outdoors “girls” when I say this to a 45 year-old man—allegedly with his shit together—who might therefore be better suited to a grownass woman and not a “girl.”

But I’m gonna be straight with you, my father-figure/preacher-teacher: life isn’t a George Michael video, and most independent, educated professional women would PROBABLY prefer not to know that the only reason you want in their size S Patagonia yoga pants is because your ruthless level-10 crazy ex-wife made you listen to her humping out the reverse cowgirl on some other dudebro.

“At least that’s my plan.” Cool plan, bro!

How about a new plan: Hit control/alt/delete and reboot, because this plan is not about to get you laid.

I want to make that very clear.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Acceptably Pious Starbucks Cups?

Ah! ‘‘Tis the season for self righteousness, when the holiest among us crow about THE GAY AGENDA soiling their venti pumpkin spice macchiato with whip. Per the Advocate:

There are maybe lesbian hands on a coffee cup you guys! So I came up with some Starbucks cups that will make everyone happy:

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Predicted Trump Tweets on Death of Charles Manson

“Melania and I send our thoughts and prayers to the Manson Family tonight for their devastating loss.”

“America lost a true hero tonight. No one had bigger ratings than @theRealCharlesManson.”

“Charles Manson was a terrific, amazing guy. Just terrific. Never shoplifted a thing, by the way.”

“I have decided to use my power of presidential pardon and pardon Charles Manson, a man who was treated very unfairly by our joke of a court system!”

“Crooked Hillary is so busy hiding her Uranium emails and being the biggest loser of all time that she didn’t even acknowledge the untimely death of Charles Manson, a Great American.”

“Charles Manson might have murdered a pregnant woman in cold blood but I promise you he would not have kneeled for our great national anthem!”

“Why won’t failing CNN cover the BIGLY stock market gains in the wake of President Trump’s endorsement of Manson for Senate?”

“I have recently decided to replace shamefully removed statues of our Great Civil War Heros with a monument to Charles Manson.”

“Despite all the unfair press coverage, Charles Manson covfefe”

Saturday, November 18, 2017

A Thought Experiment On Authoritarianism

I got into a short and civil discussion with a Breitbart writer (yes, BREITBART) on Twitter last night, and here's how the thread went:

Granted, I was a teensy bit trashed when I wrote this tweet (it was Friday night, after all, and I didn't have shit to do), but it got me thinking about where our country is now in terms of the overall energy, and why that is.

Think about this for a second. 

We are in the midst of an essential and long overdue social justice movement that requires anger and passion as a catalyst for momentum. This is separate and apart, however, from the prevailing ENERGY in the country right now, which is just straight up mean and nasty.

The President sets the tone for our country, and President Trump's tone is bullying, nasty, mean, and divisive. He makes us turn on each other. He makes us hate each other. He WANTS it. And he does it while leaving the government understaffed, trampling all over the constitution, and selling the public on con job "reforms" like walls and taxes.

It's all a bunch of bullshit.

The only people who get out of this alive (MAYBE) are Trump's friends and family. He doesn't give a shit about this country or the people he's supposed to be "leading." He cares about "ratings," and outrage sells. He'll go down swinging, leaving the nation in shambles just like his bankrupt resorts and casinos. Everything he touches turns to shit, and the United States government is no exception.

Divide and conquer is right out of the authoritarian playbook. A population that is cannibalizing itself is a lot easier to manipulate and manage. So I have come up with a few concrete things that I will do to combat this:

1. Direct action/writing: Continue to focus in concrete, meaningful, affirmative (as opposed to defensive) ways on the issues I care about: gender equality, racial equality, ending white supremacy, ending rape and sexual assault, ending income equality, and protecting our constitutional democracy from a criminal despot. I do this by staying involved in my local community on these issues, contacting my representatives in Congress relentlessly, trying to write regularly with passion and precision about social justice issues and constitutional norms, and sharing the writing of like-minded people on these subjects.

2. Avoiding social media fights and lost causes: Not allow myself to be baited into arguments on social media, as they are a distraction from actual solutions and an ENORMOUS waste of time. After an hour of yelling back at forth at someone on Twitter or Facebook you have nothing to show for your time but frustration and upset. That time can be spent much more productively on #1 above.

3. Avoiding Trump voter-hating: Not waste energy indulging in any more feelings of hostility toward Trump voters. The fact is we are all completely fucked now, and we need a way out of this mess together. Focusing on how fucked up it is that he's President, and how fucked up it is that people voted for him, and how much we should hate those people and blame them for everything just feeds the divisive beast that Trump has unleashed. He WANTS us to hate each other. He NEEDS it. His success depends on it.

4. Using my anger productively: There's a lot to be angry about right now. Like, a SHITLOAD. But I'm choosing to use #1 above to channel my anger productively and direct it at the source.

Friday, November 17, 2017

I’m Winter, and I Did Not Come to Play With You Hos: An Open Letter to Juneau

Dear Juneau,

I am Winter, and I did not come to play with you hos. I came to SLAY, bitch.

Oh, I know my game has been . . . well . . . let’s just say “inconsistent” over the past couple of seasons. Freeze, thaw, freeze, thaw, snow, snain, rainrainrainarain, snow, freeze, ice rainrainrain rain, shitty skiing, cranky Juneau.

I’m not trying to point fingers or pass the blame here, but humans have KIND of been fucking me up with unfettered carbon emissions, deregulation, and a general level of short-sighted selfish assholery that will give .001% of the world a fleet of personal yachts and make the rest of us (myself included) deader than Louis C.K.’s career post-masturbation scandal.

For now though, I’m here to tell you that it’s payback time, and payback is the only bitch badder than me. Well, me and Nicki Minaj. Bad bitches like us is hard to come by. And I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been a little hard to come by in recent years.

WELL NOT THIS YEAR, mothafuckhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaz!!!!!

Have you seen me today?! Have. You. Seen. ME?!

I deadass dropped seven inches of snow in four hours with no signs of stopping. The wind on Douglas will rip your goddamned face off your head. You motherfuckers are going 10 miles an hour in the right lane, or driving like there’s a house on fire in your Nissan Leaf/redneck pickup truck and ending up in the ditch.

Why? because I DID NOT COME TO PLAY. And also because you are all terrible drivers for some reason.

Put on your Yaktraks, because y’all out here trippin in these streets, falling face down on ice. Ice that I put there, BECAUSE I AM WINTER IN ALASKA, MOTHERFUCKERS!!!! This ain’t no Hawaiian vacation!

Bust out your snowplows, your rock salt, your snow tires, your snow blowers, your skis, snow machines, ice skates, whatever it is you need to do, do it because every other season is CANCELED and I am UP IN THIS SHIT NOW.

Oh wut. You thought I wasn’t coming for you this year? COOL STORY, BRO!



This Is 40: A Comic

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Quotes from Famous Men in History on Sexual Assault and Harassment

"Ask not what a woman can do for your dick—ask what you can do to stop yourself from asking her that question."

--John F. Kennedy

"Four weeks and seven days ago, investigative journalism brought forth upon the internet a new concept: conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all women are created with boobs and a vagina but that doesn’t mean you can grab them without her permission, k thx bye."

--Abraham Lincoln

"It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. Except if she says stop. Then definitely stop."


"That which does not kill us makes us stronger, so maybe being outed as a pedophile, sexual predator, or basic scumbag will make Al Franken and Roy Moore Olympic athletes."

--Friedrich Nietzche

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one that didn’t involve putting a barbiturate in her martini and slinging her over my shoulder on the way out of the bar, and that has made all the difference."

--Robert Frost

"Better to remain silent and be accused of being sexual predator than to just have the balls to admit the allegations and remove all doubt."

--Maurice Switzer

"If you want something done right, do it to yourself. With your right hand."

--Charles Guillaume Etienne

"Better to have loved and lost, than to have tried to love someone who obviously didn’t want to be in the same zip code as you much less the same bedroom."

--St. Augustine

"Male comedians can’t drive out sexual predators: only female comedians can do that. Senators cannot drive out sexual predators either: only voters can do that."

--Martin Luther King Jr.

"With great power comes great responsibility."


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Review: Two 9 Year-Old Girls' Impromptu Mandatory Dance Show

Technically speaking, we still live in a free country. But you wouldn’t know it from the impromptu, mandatory gymnastics and dance program that two nine year-old girls DEMANDED their parents watch.

The lights went up on the show last Sunday evening in a one night only performance at a cluttered, split level ranch playroom “theater-gymnasium” on Douglas Island, Alaska.

The “show,” produced, directed, and performed by Hazel, 9 and Paige, 9.5 was a loud, chaotic mishmash of cartwheels, front-walkovers, splits, and something called a “tick-tock.” Little brother Isaac, 7, DJ’d the production from a tiny couch in the corner with Top 40 pop-music blaring through the iPad Spotify app, while little brother Ian, 6, was tasked with the lighting.

The small audience of three mothers and one father—all slightly inebriated—might have been more forgiving of the under-rehearsed performance had the show’s producer and director not berated and nagged them into watching it IMMEDIATELY after dinner was served and consumed.

In an arguable breach of artistic decorum, the cast and crew loitered and bounced up and down for 15 minutes over the shoulders of the audience prior to curtain call. 

The cast insisted in plaintive whines that the audience discard their adult coloring books, guitars, fiddles, and giant glasses of liquor, hoist their rears from their perches, come downstairs, and re-position themselves in two tiny Disney Princess bucket chairs that barely held half an adult butt-cheek (two of the moms) while the third mom and the dad were relegated to the carpet.

Notwithstanding the lack of adequate seating and the Communist China conscripted nature of the spectacle, the show’s highlights included various impossible bodily contortions. The splits and back handsprings, in particular, made all four audience members gasp and wince in pain at the thought of their over-40 bodies executing even part of a single one of these maneuvers.

Although the two stars had chemistry, it was obvious that there were creative differences between them about what choreography element should come when. 

This translated into some miscommunication with the sound engineer and DJ as well as the lighting technician, both of whom endured unjustified berating at various points during the course of the performance. 

At one point, the show’s director almost kicked an audience member in the head while spinning the show’s producer around in a move whose name I can’t remember. The show concluded rather abruptly with a few whispers, a shrug, and a "that's it."

All in all, I can’t say I recommend this untitled program to anyone.

If Only I’d Listened

Below is a story/presentation I told/gave at Juneau's Mudrooms last night. Mudrooms is a story-telling event where 7 different people in the community tell a 7 minute story each month and proceeds go to different charitable causes. This was my third time speaking at Mudrooms. The theme this time was "If Only I'd Listened." 

My take on the theme wasn't a traditional story with a narrative arc, but kind of veered off into the Ted-Talk-y/motivational speaking arena. From that standpoint, I'm not sure how it was received (always hard to tell). But in keeping with what I say below, I'm trying not to dwell too much on that. 

Okay, so I have a confession to make. I had a really hard time with tonight’s theme. I tried to think of a funny story about some time I’d gotten into trouble or some grand Alaskan adventure where hilarity ensued because I didn’t heed a concrete warning about not doing something stupid.

But despite having done lots of stupid things in my life, I couldn’t think of anything that really worked, and then I realized that the answer was right in front of me.

It was four words of advice that my mom gave me about human relationships and interactions that I wish I’d listened to and internalized a long time ago, and those four words were:

It’s not about you.

Countless moments in my life would have been easier, and felt less upsetting, if only I’d listened to those four words and believed them. Not just on a rational level, but on a gut level of true emotional insight.

I used to be really sensitive. I used to get offended by things people did and said. I used to be disappointed when people failed to meet my expectations. But over time I stopped feeling that way, because I started to listen—I mean REALLY listen—to my mom’s advice that when a person behaves in a way that upsets you, it’s not actually about you.

Here’s what I mean by that.

When you meet someone new, it’s a mistake to assume that the other person is operating by the rules that you’re familiar with. In fact, you can assume you know almost nothing about who the other person is. Gut reactions to what an unfamiliar person is doing are actually a distraction from experiencing curiosity about why the other person is behaving in a particular way.

It’s a lost opportunity to learn about someone else. Who have I just met? How does this person think? What are their values? What did they mean by what they just said? Where did they learn to do things that feel strange or unacceptable in the world I’m familiar with?

Whether it’s a new romantic relationship, a friendship, a colleague, or someone you’re encountering in a superficial way online, each adult human being enters every relationship and transaction as a fully formed person whose behavioral repertoire was mostly scripted before you ever met them.

They’ve each learned how to behave in relationships through early life experiences within a unique family and culture that operated according to implicit rules and theories about social discourse.

Tens of thousands of interactions teach us how the world works. And then add in all the personal variables through which we filter what we observe and experience like race, gender, temperament, birth order and whether to abide by logic or emotion, and it’s no wonder that each of us is utterly unique.

My mother taught me how to listen by controlling my gut reactions and my own emotions in service of learning who another person is, and then using that knowledge to improve my interpersonal relationships and achieve serenity around them.

She taught me the value of being dispassionate.

When I get angry at someone, or someone gets angry at me, I try to notice my feelings in order to better understand how the other person is thinking and what they’re feeling. Regardless of whether someone responded to me in a way that feels wrong, or if I could have been more tactful, all of that takes a backseat to my trying to understand the interaction I’ve just had.

I try to make that person the center of attention rather than focusing on my own performance as a friend or spouse or co-worker, because it’s not about me.

It’s about cultivating a certain level of dispassionate empathy. And I don’t mean cold detachment. Being dispassionate is not incompatible with being passionate exactly. It’s just a skill, like any other skill. If it’s not about you, then it’s about the other person, who learned how to behave long before they ever met you.

And since it’s about the other person, there’s nothing more powerful or more useful than understanding where someone else is coming from. It’s a tool to guide strategic action and applies to every aspect of our human interactions.

Trying to understand how another person’s mind works lets you stay more calm and focused than having kneejerk emotional reactions. And in that calmer state of mind, you can dispassionately plan a strategy for a more productive interpersonal interaction. You could say that’s manipulative, but the idea behind “it’s not about you” is to understand someone else and take constructive action based on acquired knowledge.

Knowing that it’s not about you improves your tolerance for other people’s idiosyncrasies and makes you a better listener. By contrast, believing that another person’s behavior is about you leads you to the mistaken conclusion that you have the power to change them.

But it’s never in your power to change another adult’s behavior.

A person can choose to emulate you or learn from you, but then that person is choosing to change themselves. By adulthood, most behavior is automatic and requires both motivation and focused conscious effort to change.

People around you are continuously doing things that irritate you: cutting you off in traffic, voting for politicians you consider hideous, letting their kids be mean to your kids, calling you names, acting like they’re entitled to special treatment, whispering so you can barely hear what they’re saying, showing up late, etc.

Whether you choose to ignore or respond to each of these perceived provocations, knowing that the only person who can change an annoying behavior is the person who’s doing it really helps maintain perspective.

You don’t need to mindlessly and fruitlessly try to teach people lessons about just how mistaken they are.

For me, listening to my mom’s “it’s not about you” advice has gotten easier over time. With each passing year, I’ve been able to step back further to become more objective about how the world works.

But even then, it’s not always easy to stay on the “it’s not about you” path. We all have times when this path seems impossible, and I think we are collectively in one of those times right now.

Truly, I think we are facing one of the greatest existential threats to our civic life as we know it. To our American constitutional democracy as we know it. We’re under a daily siege of confusing misinformation. We are made to turn on each other. It feels rudderless. It feels disempowering. It feels impossible to hear the signal for the noise.

But it’s not productive to turn a deaf ear to each other. More than anything else, I think, empathetic and dispassionate listening, coupled with constructive action, will help us navigate this dark time. It’ll help us generate our own light. And in doing that, I think, we’ll be able to deliver to ourselves our own salvation.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Ugly Truth

I don’t think there’s a woman alive who hasn’t heard a man comment on her appearance—negatively or positively—in an unsolicited and/or irrelevant way.

I want to talk about this for a minute, NOT to fish for validation, and NOT to debate the merits of whether these men are right or wrong in any particular instance, but simply to observe the raw power of physical insults AND compliments as a rhetorical device that men—and, too often, women as well—frequently deploy when debating women on topics that have nothing to do with their physical appearance.

I encounter this a lot in my blog-life, but sometimes these comments bother me, and for whatever reason one really got under my skin today. An emotional button gets pushed. No matter how much you rationalize it away, it touches something deep and ancient, and it makes you cry and/or shut down, which of course is the point.

From the minute a girl is conscious of her girlhood and her sexuality, society sets a goal that she learns to strive for until she’s too old to matter anymore: to be physically and sexually attractive and desirable to men, and to eliminate the competition in the process.

Whatever that means in whatever culture, and whatever it takes, THAT is the mission with which she is tasked. It’s reinforced constantly and relentlessly, all day every day, through messages explicit and implicit: male approval or disapproval of a woman’s looks is what will make or break her in This Life.

Every tiny decision a woman makes in her daily existence—what she eats, what she wears, how she smells—are all a means to this end, and at least in western culture, there is always a product you can buy or a procedure you can get to help you achieve it. 

Lucrative industries depend on the never-attainable, always elusive end goal of female physical perfection as defined by the male gaze. Every minute spent aiming for that goal is a minute lost on arguably more productive and meaningful contributions women could be making to society. In other words, pressuring women to spend so much time and energy on their looks—and tearing other women down for theirs—is its own repressive tactic.

Of course, many women grow up and reject this model, or try to. But my point is that this is the baseline model. It takes an ENORMOUS amount of work, effort, and conscious energy to discard it and redefine it for yourself, on your own terms, in a mentally and physically healthy way. 

So when you're 40 years old and think you’ve succeeded at discarding it, it’s frustrating and demoralizing to realize you never fully will.

It doesn’t matter if the person is a total stranger whom you’ve never met. It doesn’t matter if what they are saying about your looks is “true” or “not true.” As far as I’m concerned, it’s just as bad to be flattered as it is to be insulted, because both are a referendum on something that has zero to do with the substance of what the woman is saying at that moment.

The point is that the physical appearance of the woman who is speaking or writing is always at issue. 


It is thrust into the debate, even when the debate has nothing to do with it. A woman’s physical appearance is her currency and stock-in-trade. If you don’t play this game, you don’t win this game, but if you play the game you just perpetuate it, and you can never win it anyway.

It’s a lose-lose Catch 22 that transcends politics or substance. People do it to Hillary Clinton. They do it to Sarah Huckabee Sanders. They do it to Tomi Lahren and Lauren Duca. It doesn’t matter what views are being expressed: defenders and detractors alike immediately resort to the woman’s appearance. Again, it takes conscious effort—for me too, honestly—NOT to do this.

I’ve seen men—and plenty of women (who are often men’s best allies in the fight to center women’s appearance as the focal point of every debate—see below
)—say that Tomi Lahren looks like a meth head and an oompa-loompa and Sarah Huckabee Sanders looks like a chubby soccer mom and Ann Coulter looks like a “transvestite” (is that even a word anymore?) 

Anyway, who fucking cares? You can disagree with every word that comes out of their mouths and think it’s horrible (and I do)—without calling them fat soccer moms and meth heads.

And yes, granted. Women, including me, call Donald Trump orange and Jeff Sessions an elf and so on. And that isn’t nice or kind or good or particularly useful either. 

But it’s also collateral to the substance of whatever they and other men are saying, and it’s a last resort, because these men have inflicted horrible, unremedied wrongs on women and/or literally have the power to kill people and so laughing at spray tans and big ears feels like the only weapon available to the disempowered. It’s not now and never has been the crux of the discourse.

My point is this: men can reliably go through life without every transaction and interaction and word they write or say automatically becoming an immediate referendum on their face and body.

Make of that what you will. Call it male privilege or whatever you want to call it, but that’s the ugly truth and the cost of expressing an opinion while female.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

This Time, It Will Be Different

Dear Paige,

I take it you've noticed that I've tried to get back into regular exercise. I guess that's why you asked to use the treadmill (f.k.a. clothes rack). 

It's been a long time--almost ten years since I've made any effort to move my body on a regular basis. I had to ask myself why this was, and I had some ready answers, but none of them were the whole truth.

Yes, you and your brother took up all my time and energy. 5:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. were the only reliable hours I had available to work out, but my body screamed to be asleep at those times. Yes, my eczema was terrible and sweat made it burn. Yes, I could maintain a healthy weight without exercising. 

But now you and Isaac are a little older, and I have a little more time. You're turning 10 in a month, but look like a teenager all of a sudden. I'm on a new eczema drug and my skin is much improved. I'm 40 and I am out of excuses. 

It's time to exercise again, and I knew that if I was going to stick with it this time, I needed to be honest with myself about the source of my exercise avoidance. Yes, it was about concrete things like time and skin, but it was also about psychological obstacles more than physical ones. 

In my growing-up years, there were only two reasons to exercise: to excel at the high school and college sports that I played, and to be thin. That was it. Full stop. There was no other reason to move your body. "Runners high" paled in comparison to "real" chemical highs. 

There was no reason to exercise unless it made me a better athlete or slowly, deliberately shaved weight and fat off my body, pushing me ever closer to that unattainable standard of beauty that all women and girls are trained to strive for.

Franma and Baba were great parents and wanted my life to be easy, that's all. Someday, you might be parent too and see our mistakes with perspective and humanity. They wanted me to not "struggle." As a girl, that meant being thin. Otherwise, I might never have a boyfriend or a good job. 

So I tried to be good. I tried to count almonds and exercise every day until it all fell apart, and I couldn't hold the center and all I had to show for my years of abstemious diet and exercise was two eating disorders and low self esteem.

I think I've been honest with you: I'm happy you love dance and gymnastics and figure skating so much. But I worry about those sports and what they do (or used to do?) to girls' bodies. 

I've put it to you bluntly: "I don't want you to get an eating disorder." I want you to have what I didn't have. Isn't that what every mother wants for her children? 

I want you to have a good, undisturbed mechanism to self-regulate your appetite. I want you to have a healthy relationship with exercise that is grounded in moving your body in a way that feels good and is not connected to some ever-moving goalpost of physical Western beauty standardized perfection, but rather just something that feels good for its own sake in the moment that you're doing it.

I need to rewire my own brain to approach exercise this way. This time, it will be different. I hope you can help me get there.



Saturday, November 11, 2017

So . . . Let's Talk About "Innocent Until Proven Guilty"

"What happened to innocent until proven guilty? Sexual harassment is the only crime in America where it's just automatically GUILTY! No trial, no jury, nothing! Sometimes women just make this stuff up!" 

A man I respect said this to me the other day, and I referred him to Mitt Romney's subsequent tweet pointing out the legal fact that "innocent until proven guilty" is for criminal convictions—not jobs, TV shows, or Senate seats.

This is a crucial point.

Statistically, most rapes, sexual assaults, and harassment go unreported. Or if they are reported, they are not prosecuted. Or if they are prosecuted, they do not end in convictions. 

If it's one thing I've learned in many years of practicing law, it's that the law is a blunt instrument. 

Despite our lofty aim of a perfectly just society, prosecutorial discretion, victims' fears, and evidentiary problems like lack of physical evidence (or failure to timely process that evidence) often stymie prosecutions for sex crimes.

Sex crimes, by their nature, usually happen in intimate one-on-one settings where no evidence of “proof” exists beyond "he said/she said." Historically, most people side with "he" when the alleged perpetrator is a powerful man.

That is because no asset is more valued, treasured, and protected in our society than a man's livelihood and reputation--especially a powerful or wealthy man. There's a circular feedback loop where these men become powerful because they are willing and able to wield sex as a weapon and evade justice, and then they continue to wield sex as a weapon and evade justice because they are powerful. 

The idea that a woman might falsely accuse a man of sexual harassment or assault and "ruin his life" is a canard used to discredit the relatively few brave women and men who come forward with their experiences. 

There is in fact very little incentive to truthfully--much less falsely—accuse someone of these crimes and subject oneself to all of the cross-accusations, recriminations, and scrutiny that come with reporting. It’s not a quick $32 million drive-thru ATM payday like Bill O'Reilly would have us believe.

The boogey-man specter of the vengeful false accuser is a construct that defies reason. Does that mean it never happens? Of course not. But it's far more likely that a man will be wrongfully convicted of murder after a trial and verdict by a jury of his peers than he will be wrongfully accused of rape or sexual assault, or even sexual harassment, in any way that threatens his liberty at all.

So maybe "innocent until proven guilty" isn't the best metric here anyway.

I know a woman who was raped at gunpoint by a stranger. (That guy was prosecuted and convicted). I know a woman who was raped by a casual acquaintance. (That guy bragged afterwards that he "does this all the time and gets away with it."). I know countless women who have been sexually harassed, assaulted, and pressured. 

I count myself lucky that the only harassment and humiliation I ever endured was what every woman endures: gross cat-calling, adrenaline-fueled fear, uncomfortable or awkward sexual aggression and posturing in her "visible" youth; and generalized discrediting, diminishment, bullying, and dismissiveness in her "invisible" older life.

We are at a crossroads now when women are finding some safety in numbers, and that is a good thing. The law simply does not provide victims of these crimes with reliable, equitable recourse to be made whole. 

They are almost certainly not lying about what happened to them. That's fake news.

The fact that Bill O'Reilly, Bill Cosby, Roy Moore, Louis C.K., and others like them have to suffer public shaming and pay the equivalent of a speeding ticket as a penalty for their crimes makes "trial by media" okay by me.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Pro Tip: It’s a Safe Bet That No Woman Wants to Randomly See Your Dick.

So it's cool that Louis C.K. decided to admit to whipping his dick out and jerking off in front of women whose careers he was in a position to help. 

It’s great that he sort of apologized. That he did it without vowing to “seek treatment” in asshole rehab is good too. That he waited until he was cornered, publicly shamed, and losing money for a bunch of other men to do it is kinda pathetic, but it's better than nothing, I guess?

And more importantly, it goes to prove the point that women aren't actually outchea in these streets routinely lying about sexual assault and harassment just for the sadistic fun of ruining men's lives. 

Quite the opposite: women routinely shrug off and dismiss all KINDS of sexualized bullshit and humiliation from men, either because they genuinely like them as people, forgive them for they know not what they do, and specifically DO NOT want to ruin their lives; or, just as often, because they think that's just the way it is/supposed to be. 

When they are finally pushed to the edge, they get there because they are SUPES fucking tired of being gaslighted, brainwashed, and abused in ways large and small. 

For men in positions of authority who have ever sexually harassed, assaulted, or humiliated a girl or woman, all I can say is good luck to you, sirs. Your days of living under the fear/silence/shame/he-said-she-said protection racket are numbered if not already over.

And as Mitt Romney tweeted today, “innocent until proven guilty” is for criminal convictions anyway. Not for TV jobs or Senate seats. That’s a legal fact. So offenders and their apologists can stop asking “what happened to innocent until proven guilty?” since only a tiny fraction of sex offenders are ever even prosecuted, much less convicted.

In the meantime, here's a pro tip (no pun intended): It's a pretty safe bet that women don't want an unsolicited peep show. Not even if you ask them first and they say "fine," when, again, your'e in a position to control their careers or exert other influence over their lives and wellbeing. Not in person and not on their cell phone.

Let's try some role play:


Woman: Hi, can we talk about that project for Netflix?
Man: Do you mean my dick?
Woman: Um, what?
Man: Want to see my dick?
Woman: Uhhh


Woman: Hi, can we talk about that project?
Man: Do you mean that Comedy Central pitch?
Woman: Yeah.
Man: Okay, sure. Maybe we can just have you take a quick look at my dick first.
Woman: Ummm . . . what?


Woman: Hi, can we talk about that project?
Man: Do you mean that HBO Special?
Woman: Yeah.
Man: Okay sure.
Woman: Great!
Man: But my dick . . . let me just stick my phone down my pants and text you something real quick . . .


Woman: Hi, can we talk about that project?
Man: You mean the one NBC might pick up next season?
Woman: Yeah.
Man: Okay, sure let's set up a meeting with the team.
Woman: Great, I'll be in touch with an Outlook invite.

So how can I put the moral of this story?


Thursday, November 9, 2017


I can’t do it you guys. I just can’t do it anymore. 

I can’t keep pace with the ever-downward rolling tide of shit and associated kid noise that's somehow become the 24/7 soundtrack of my life, especially with two days of dreaded school "in-service." 

I feel like Sisyphus pushing a laundry basket up a hill of Perler beads draped in homemade Borax-based slime and other "experiments." And my only recourse is to retreat into the internet in a way that my kids will definitely identify in therapy someday as my greatest maternal failing.

I'm completely outmatched, and I am giving up now because it's easier than thinking about solving this problem, much less doing anything to actually solve it. Oh I purge shit from time to time, but there's always more shit where that came from, and it feels like trying to stop a tsunami with a thimble.

I know there are things I could do. There's that smug Marie Kondo and her joy-sparking, and Swedish Death Cleaningand who the fuck knows what other trendy hoarder detox programs that are supposed to magically turn my house into a quiet empty shell of peace, containing nothing but one wooden spoon, a single cloth napkin, and a vase with a single fresh orchid sticking out of it.

Not gonna happen. 

For now, I'm at least one American Girl Doll homeless encampment, three bongo drums, and about 700 tattered books and raggedy-ass stuffed animals away from inner peace borne of molting possessions and emerging from a chrysalis of consumerism into a self-righteous dawn of stuff-less, chaos-free Zen enlightenment.

Two nights ago, I was sitting in my shit hole of a living room with my kids, their two friends, and the friends' dad. The adults were trying to have a conversation, and we were shouting over each other at top volume like we were at a Metallica concert. 

It struck me then that this was just my life now. The background noise of any given evening is 10% mellifluous laughter of little children, 10% annoying laughter of little children, 60% sibling fighting, and 20% adult reactive temper tantrums to the 60% of sibling fighting.

We are only just wrapping up day one of a four-day weekend, and there's the added pressure that I'm supposed to be cherishing every fleeting-not-fleeting moment of this. 

Seriously, I 100% give up.