Fear + Rage… Yesterday a woman I follow on Instagram, her name is Nadia Bolz-Weber, who is an ordained Lutheran Pastor, and founder of a church called House for All Sinners & Saints in Colorado, and an author of three memoirs, all of which I have read, said that she was filled with fear and rage, and called it FRAGE and I realized at that moment that it is a perfect word for this less than perfect feeling in my gut and brain that literally made me dizzy with anger most of the day yesterday. I stole her word and will use it.

I have so many angry words rolling around in my head and I am almost scared to write them, although my fingers are blasting wildly on this keyboard because they know what I want to say and that I am afraid…you see I love my family, deeply love my generous and kind family but what kills me and makes me filled with FRAGE is how they time and time again choose to vote for those who do not, and never did, have MY best interest in mind. I vote every time for the person whose views and ideas and visions for us all seems to most align with my own, and the tragedy of my life is that I come from a family who claims to do this too, vote for those who seem to say and think the same things they do, and it is NEVER THE SAME FOR US BOTH. It takes a lot of nerve for people to claim that they are “christians” and love their daughters and granddaughters and great-granddaughters so very much, and “value the family” and yet purposefully vote for people who actually tell us in advance that they want to repeal the affordable care act, for many the only opportunity for some people to ever have been able to obtain health insurance, and take away the federal protection for a woman to choose a safe and legal and affordable abortion when she finds herself pregnant and does not want to be…

…but what if it is not a woman, what if it is a girl?? THIS is what kills me, and what short sighted people fail to understand, at least that is how it appears to me, I mean HOW can you say you understand anything and then vote for these people?? If a child is being victimized sexually by, say for example the boyfriend of her mother, or husband of her grandmother, or best friend of her uncle, any of those sickening scenarios that happen every fucking day in this country, even in your own neighborhood, or your own family, for all you know…and let’s say that little girl does not know who to tell, or what to tell, or how to stop it from happening, or how to keep that man away from her, and let’s say that when she is eight he still does not stop, and then she is ten, and then she is 11, and then she reaches puberty and this victimized scared to death 11 year old girl does not understand why her belly aches one day and why she feels nauseated the last few mornings after breakfast and her school nurse finds her in the office, again, and suddenly, sickeningly thinks “oh for god’s sake no” when it dawns on her that “could this little girl be pregnant?” and so the nurse tenderly asks her if she understands about sexual intercourse or has someone hurt her and the little 11 year old girl sobbing with relief “FINALLY someone will help her” she thinks, and that school nurse has to call the mother and tell her that her 11 year old daughter has been the victim of childhood sexual assault and also that she is pregnant, probably about seven weeks based on the density of her abdomen, and then because she lives in Louisiana, or Texas, or Alabama, or Kentucky or any number of the states that as of YESTERDAY HAVE TOTALLY BANNED ABORTIONS, that 11 year old girl is going to have to carry a pregnancy to term and birth a baby, just not much more than a baby herself, because no one protected her from a man who chose to sexually victimize her and now she will be victimized by her own country that has taken away the right for her mother to get her a safe, legal, and affordable abortion…her mother, who works two jobs as it is and neither of which provides health insurance, and because she works two jobs she makes too much money to qualify for medicaid and even with the affordable care act, the $136 a month it was going to cost for her and her daughter to have the bronze plan, which is the shittiest plan on the market, but it least it was better than nothing, was still $136 a month that went to the electric bill instead, or the car insurance, or the gas for the car to get the mother to her two jobs…it is a cycle of tragedy in this country that fills me with FRAGE and because so many republicans are so short sighted, and say “oh a life is value” and vote against a woman’s right to choose what is best for her and her future, this hypothetical little girl, will have no future, or it will be forever shattered because she was forced to carry a cluster of dividing cells that had lodged into her tiny uterus, because she was sexually victimized by a family member, and people of this country voted for people who wanted to take away this basic human right, what to fucking do with your own fucking body, her life, this little girl who is pretend in my head BUT IS LIKELY ALIVE AND REAL & LIVING THIS NIGHTMARE RIGHT NOW IN EVERY SINGLE STATE IN THIS COUNTRY, will suffer forever because someone thinks a cluster of dividing cells, a parasite really, is more important than she is…FRAGE FRAGE FRAGE!!!!!!!!!

Many people make New Jersey jokes because they have seen the Sopranos and Newark airport, but New Jersey is, at least where I live, beautiful. I can walk to the bay beach from where I live but yet my house is in the woods, I have beautiful breezes and such diverse flora and every time I pull into my yard I feel lucky…the “problem” with where I live in south Jersey is that it is the most “red” county in our whole state, according to the board of elections data, and by the ridiculously laughable number of trump flags in my town and on people’s cars, it is a town and county that has been totally bamboozled BUT the state itself is densely populated and generally remains “blue” most of the time, and so for now, I have never been so grateful to live in New Jersey where, for now, a woman’s right to choose what is best for herself, her family, and her life, remains legal and safe and affordable, and protected by law. If that changes, and either of my granddaughters has to suffer because of it, the FRAGE I will feel will be indescribable.

ACCIDENTS HAPPEN. I was on birth control pills for almost 30 years. In my life I have had five unwanted pregnancies. One of which resulted in the birth of a daughter when I was only 18 years old and four over the following 28 years resulted in a few hours of rest after a safe, legal, and affordable abortion. If you start having sex at 17 and go through menopause in your mid fifties, there are well over 1,100 opportunities for pregnancy to occur, which is glorious if you want to have a baby, and an “accident” if you don’t. A positive pregnancy test is only a blessing if you want to be a mother. Period. It is a disaster, an accident, awful, this sucks, ANY words of woe that you can think of are what it is when you do not want to be a mother and have a baby, end of story.

Accidents happen all the time, condoms break, you forget to take your pill one night and double up the next day, or diaphragms slip, frankly it shocks me that more women don’t get accidentally pregnant, or maybe they do but they don’t talk about it. Well I always did and always will. LADIES, if you are reading this, talk about it. It is time for people to speak up and speak out. Women and girls died for years because of abortions being illegal. Women and girls will die now in 2022, this modern world, because abortions are now illegal in many states. There is no shame in having an accidental pregnancy and making a choice to have an abortion for any reason you want. For me personally it was the easiest decision, I had a daughter, I had a full time job, and could not afford another child ever. Period. There was no feeling whatsoever of anything but relief that I found myself pregnant and did not want to be, and could affordably and safely terminate this cluster of dividing cells, and that was all there was to it. Whether I was in love, dating, married, flinging, it makes no difference, my dating status had nothing to do with the fact that I had no health insurance and already had one child and even if I wished for a husband and babies and a white picket fence, none of that was my reality. My reality was that I found myself accidentally pregnant and did not want to be. HOW can anyone think that their opinion on abortion should have anything to do with me and my body. If you don’t want an abortion then please do not have one ever, but how should it be that your opinion on the matter can now completely ruin the lives of millions of girls and women in this country?????!!!!! FRAGE to the Nth degree. FRAGE FRAGE FRAGE!

What is your return policy???

Today is my mom and dad’s 56th Anniversary. On Thursday my mom told me about the start of the summer of 66…that she had turned 21 that March, and she and my dad had known each other for several years (he was a guy whose parents had a summer house here at the shore and she was a girl who lived on the island) and that they went out for one of the first of their “official” dates that Easter Sunday, to walk the boardwalk in Atlantic City, and that by May 8th they had decided that they wanted to get married…and so they did, on June 11th. In that short period of time two people, in their early twenties committed to this decision together…Last year I bought a pair of boots that I LOVED. I do not like country music at all but I really love cowboy boots, and I put them on and fell in love. They were charcoal gray and they had a star embroidered on the calf and they were so perfect for me, and I was so excited…and then, well, I did not have any occasion to wear them, and then I did not wear them out, and then when I tried them on again my pinky toes were really squished & I realized I did not really care about them as much as I had thought, and before the summer solstice I decided that I was probably never going to wear them and I could put that $268 towards something far more useful or important and so I called the store and asked what was their return policy…in a time period longer than it took my parents to start dating and get married I decided that those boots were not going to work out for me and ended the relationship. My parents somehow did what has seemed to me, always, to be the impossible…find THE ONE WHO IS RIGHT FOR YOU.

I have returned boots, heels, fancy skirts, ill chosen dressy shirts…thinking they were PERFECT for that party or event or simply just perfect for me, and realized they were not. How in less time my parents could decide on such a HUGE investment, in each other, to start a life together and then MAKE a life together, will forever be one of the things about my mom and dad that I admire the most. It was, to be VERY clear, a different time then…two people could earn enough money at their jobs to pay for rent, electricity, gas for their car, food, and have money left over EVERY MONTH TO SAVE, to buy a house, to put away for emergencies, for their future. I don’t know the last time you met a 24 year old man/boy who could afford his own house, alone, to rent, and then afford to get married, and then within 18 months have a new baby and own a house!!! Did their marriage last because “times were different?” That is an expression that I think of a lot when I think of how my parents did this…times were different.

I worked at a high end shop for more than twenty years on that same island. We had exquisite hand blown goblets, flutes, highball glasses, and these were often wedding gifts that we would carefully package and wrap beautifully for our customers who wanted to give something “more than just money” was what they often would say, as a special gift for a couple to have for always. I remember one time a customer came in and apologized for returning such an expensive gift, we only gave store credit anyway, not refunds, but she had bought 12 gorgeous high-ball handblown glasses, this was long before there were places like TJMaxx or Marshalls, this is when stores sold special handmade things, when times were different I suppose, but anyway, she had not given the gift yet, the parents were having a big celebration for the couple’s first anniversary where they were going to eat the top tier of the cake and look at pictures from the wedding and just celebrate the first year, and that is when this lady was going to give the gift of these $240 glasses…but the couple did not make it to year one, she had received notice that the party was off, and so she was returning the glasses and was going to treat herself to some earrings instead! I share this story because at the time the bride (who did not make even one full year of marriage) was also a customer as was her mother, and I knew from the mother that the wedding had cost them over $80,000 and this was in 1992 or so! THAT WAS A LOT OF MONEY to spend on a wedding on a couple that did not even make it to their first anniversary. AND I think of that story almost every June when I think of my mom and dad’s anniversary.

My parents did the impossible, well not impossible, lots of people get married and stay married and have happy lives, but statistically we are told that more than half of all marriages end in divorce. That I am THIS old and still have parents who are healthy and in love is not lost on me. I have heard people say, “I would never want a marriage like my parents had” men and women alike, and it always made me feel so sad for them, because for all of my adult life that has been what I wished for most, and never got…The gratitude I feel for my mom and dad every day is indescribable. I don’t know many people who had the same kind of childhood that I did or the same kind of parents and I know how lucky I am. My parents and I disagree on a lot, so many things you can’t imagine, but we don’t talk about divisive things or upsetting things, or the news channel and talk radio station they like, which are not, you might guess, the news channel or talk radio station I like…we talk about what connects us and we work (sometimes very hard) at having a good relationship. That my daughter still has both of her grandparents and they still love each other and that her daughters have their great-grandparents and that they still love each other is a big deal to me…some kids don’t even have grandparents, let alone great-grandparents, and that are healthy and vibrant and generous, and in love, still, is just such a beautiful thing.

My mom and dad fell in love and decided to get married in a time frame shorter than I committed to owning some boots, and in which that lady bought some highball glasses, and while it might seem silly to compare, it is not silly to me…it is BIG LOVE that I grew up with, and that I am still surrounded with. “She’s the best wife I ever had” is a joke my dad says often with a grin, as of course he was 24 years old when they got married and there was not any other wife, and when I tease my mom sometimes, like asking her what exactly she does for my father, because he does EVERYTHING for us, she will laugh and say “I let him rub my feet!” and we all laugh, because it’s true. He is so good to her that there has never been a word for it. “I am the daughter of a great romance” is a line from a song that I love and it IS my life. I am the daughter of people who chose, time and time again, to be in love, to support each other, and to be each other’s THE ONE, and here they are, 56 years later, still the one for each other…there are no two people more well suited for each other than my mom and dad; fussy eaters both, they have the same opinions about the same things, they like the same music, they find joy in their home and their yard and their chores and don’t need to travel or go to dinner or out to parties or gather with friends…they like their life just as it is, and they never needed to find out what kind of return policy came with their purchase…