I’m tired. (NSFW due to language)

And I know others are even more so. Because for all the ways that the conversation on ADHD has moved forward somewhat to put the microphone in the hands of those of us who have it, that’s not true for friends of mine with other neurological differences. And even with ADHD, we’re not where we need to be. So I’m going to say this once, and I am not afraid to delete comments on this post if you show out, because your disagreement is neither wanted nor welcome, unless you’re a neurodiverse person yourself. I do not pretend to speak for my friends who have other conditions, such as autism, except to the extent that they themselves choose to cosign, and to say that if you don’t have the condition yourself, your job is to shut up and listen to those who do.

  • Fuck your cure. I don’t want it. If you want to do research into my condition, use that research to make my life better, or to find a medication that helps with the associated impairments, but don’t act like I should be thankful to you for trying to fix me.
  • Fuck your pity. For every impairment that my condition brings, there is a tradeoff that brings me intense joy. For my lack of focus, I get an intense curiosity and knowledge of a variety of subjects that would fascinate you if you were listening. For my inability to pull the trigger on a decision, I gain an ability to research an idea until I know it backwards and forwards. For my inability to manage my finances on my own, I have developed an uncanny ability to find the best price on any given item. For my impulsivity, I have a sense of adventure that even your prejudice against the core of my worldview cannot dampen. And I wouldn’t give that up for the world.
  • My moments of locked-in hyperfocus look to you like I’m grinding my gears and can’t rejoin the normal world. To me, they’re the happiest moments of my life. Imagine a moment where nothing in the world existed for you except the thing you most loved doing. If I’m busy reading a book or quilting or researching something online and don’t realize you’ve been talking to me for the last five minutes, it’s because I got that lost in the enjoyment of what I’m doing. I seriously doubt that if you ever experienced that kind of single-minded joy, you’d want me to give it up.
  • My impairments don’t disable me. Stripping away my workarounds does. My inability to keep a running total of my spending only hurts me if I don’t have the ability to check my numbers against something. (Online banking ftw!) My inability to start from scratch with organizing only hurts me if I get far enough behind that I have to start over. My distractibility only hurts me if you insist that I focus 100% on something that makes my brain go numb. I am not disabled by my condition. I am disabled by your insistence that I should function in the exact same way as someone without it.
  • Fuck your insistence that you know how my mind works. Whether it’s denying the validity of my condition, insisting that a placebo is as effective as my medication, or lecturing me on what will fix me and whether or not I should want to be fixed, just shut up. You don’t live in my head, and you don’t know how I experience the world. So stop ‘splaining me to me.
  • You hurt me by telling me that I am not my “disability.” My ADHD affects every aspect of how I experience the world. If I did not have it, I would have a radically different world view, and thus be a different person. So yes, in many ways, I am. And I am proud to be me.
  • It’s not up to you to “accept” my condition as valid. You don’t get a choice. I’m already here. The other option, besides accepting me, is to fuck off down the road. I’m good enough for you or I’m not. If I’m not, there are 7 billion other people out there in this world that you could be spending time with.
  • Fuck telling me who I do or don’t speak for. I speak for me. That is enough.
  • Fuck what my parents must have gone through. It doesn’t excuse what they put me through. They chose to have a child. I didn’t choose to have them.
  • Fuck your theories about ADHD kids needing “discipline.” My parents couldn’t beat my nature out of me, and gods know they tried. I’m still me, but now I’m me with complex PTSD. Good fucking job.
  • Fuck your theories about ADHD being overdiagnosed and overmedicated. I spent all of high school without my meds because my parents bought into that shit and thought they’d been wrong to treat me. Remember above when I said I’m only disabled if you take away my workarounds? My meds are one of them. And further, because the diagnostic criteria for many years were weighted in favor of the primarily-hyperactive type that mainly affects boys, girls were dramatically underdiagnosed. I was one of the lucky ones to be born with combined type, so I didn’t fall through the cracks in grade school. Too many did, and still do.
  • Fuck the way you want to center the conversation around children and only children. Children grow up. We don’t outgrow our fundamentally different neurological wiring just because of our age. We might learn to hide it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.
  • Fuck the way that parenting a person with ADHD is assumed to be harder than being one. Fuck the way you want their motives to be sacred while ours are eternally questioned.
  • Fuck your judgment about my use of stimulants. If stimulants worked on an ADHD brain the same way they do on a neurotypical brain, you might have a point. But if you had sufficient medical knowledge to know the difference, you wouldn’t have made the remark to begin with. My medications are between me and my doctor, and neither of us gives a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut whether you think I’m a crackhead for needing them.
  • It kills me to fight with people. The part of my brain that ADHD impairs also deals in emotional regulation, so being angry with you hurts me. But I’m not going to sit down and shut up when you want your idea of what my condition looks like to override the reality of who I am.

I Stand with ‘Gods and Radicals’

This is deeply important and worth reading. It’s been a long time since I’ve taken part in any of the controversies within the online pagan community, but the way so many of our pagan organizations have roots in and shared ideas with destructive right-wing ideologies is important to discuss. As a devotee of Brighid, her legacy as Brig Ambue, the defender of the disenfranchised, does not allow me to stay out of this one. Leithin Cluan stands with Gods and Radicals, and I stand with her.

Treasure in Barren Places

The reactions to Rhyd Wildermuth’s post on Paganism and the New Right have been incredible and disturbing.

Essentially, Rhyd wrote about the influences of racist and ethnocentric ideologies on various traditions of Paganism. It was brave and it was necessary. Extremely important stuff. And Paganism/polytheism have exploded at him and his allies.

And not just that, but Rhyd is saying some things that I consider to be *very clearly* a problem in Paganism, and that I have believed for quite some time. So I had no idea people would react quite so negatively. I suppose I should have realised that not everyone in Paganism shares these radical views. But it’s so easy to create Paganism in your own image. To believe that it’s what you want it to be. Only, it’s not. The reactions to Rhyd’s post, and his co-founder Alley Valkyrie’s support of it, make that clear.

I think I am…

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Taking it public

I have concluded that the baby quilt project requires too much time, effort, and energy for one person. There’s a need beyond the hospitals around my front door, and I can’t do it alone. I’ve created a Facebook page for others to join in the project, whether it’s making quilts, knitting or crocheting preemie caps, sewing burial gowns for the babies who don’t make it, or just lending moral support to people who do. My hope is that we’ll be able to make something happen well beyond my own community, as I’m wanting volunteers to make items for their own local hospitals. The Brighid’s Babies Project page is live on Facebook now, and if you’re interested in taking part, I would love to hear from you!

An Open Letter to Secretary Clinton

Dear Madam Secretary,

I was born in 1985, just a few years before your husband’s inauguration as President. I essentially grew up seeing you as a high-profile political figure at the national level. I am sure that you are assuming that I, as an avowed feminist, will put my support completely behind you in the current election. I’m the fan base you think you have in the bag, right? You don’t have to actually work for the votes of women. We’ll vote for you because you’re one of us. Here’s why you’re wrong.

I grew up in a small, mostly working-class town. By the time I was about to graduate high school, I and everyone I knew had been approached by military recruiters. Beyond promising us glory, money, and lucrative opportunities that most of us would never see, they made a point of remarking to us that the military was the best, and probably only, real-world chance any of us would ever have to get out and build a better life. More than a few of the people I knew back then took the bait, and among those who did, the ones that came back from Iraq broken or in bags were far from the minority. You voted for that war.

In 2008, I was working two jobs. One was at a rent-to-own furniture store, in the accounts department, where my job performance was measured in the percentage of accounts I could bring up to date. The other was working for my grandparents’ real estate business. That summer, they offered to pay for me to get my real estate broker’s license and do my provisional period under them. The market crashed while I was in the class, and my hopes of following in the family business along with it. Meanwhile, you took 21 million dollars in contributions from employees of the real estate, finance, and insurance agencies for your presidential campaign that same year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and voted in favor of bailing out the banks whose risky practices put me out of both my jobs.

Your plan for health care is to keep the Affordable Care Act mostly untouched. As a person with chronic health issues, I need more from my health care than simply free birth control. I need to know that I’m not coming out of my pocket for premiums while I’m out of work, and for copays both at the doctor’s office and at the pharmacy that I can’t afford. While the ACA has helped considerably, I’m still paying $1k per year that I simply don’t have in medical expenses (down from $300+ per month before it), and that’s just for routine care, assuming there are no major expenses. My emergency room visit last summer for a possible concussion wasn’t covered, because in the rush to get treatment for a head injury, I couldn’t call for permission first. It ran me up several thousand dollars in medical debt that I will most likely never be able to pay off. I need a single payer system, because even at the very lowest cost tier that’s out there, I’m still paying out far more than I can afford.

Your plan for “debt free” college talks about “families doing their part by making an affordable and realistic family contribution” (quoted directly from your website). That gives absolutely zero help to people like me, whose families have never contributed one thin dime to their education, and couldn’t if they wanted to. The reality is that poor families don’t have money to contribute to their children’s education, and that many people don’t have family support at all. Your plan adds a new barrier to education for people raised in poverty, or by abusive parents, or who are estranged from their parents–essentially, for the people who most need those barriers removed.

You talk about the “end of the era of mass incarceration,” which has disproportionately affected poor people and people of color. What you fail to mention is that not only did your husband’s policies contribute heavily to the creation of the mass incarceration and for-profit prison system, but you were one of that omnibus bill’s greatest public supporters. You assume we’ve forgotten, but I remember watching you on TV about it. My parents always had news going in our house, and I watched you help build this structure that has destroyed so many lives. I want this country to recover from the disastrous effects of the current criminal justice system, which you helped build.

You talk a great game now about your support for LGBT rights, but you didn’t come out in support of gay marriage until three years after it gained majority support in the polls, and nine years after the first ruling making it legal. You were a supporter of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as well as the Defense of Marriage Act, so your support for LGBT causes is too little, too late, and is so glaringly political in nature that I simply don’t buy it. Senator Sanders, on the other hand, voted against DOMA in 1996, at a time when not one single state had a law allowing same sex marriage.

Equal pay for equal work is very important, as is a woman’s right to choose. They are non-negotiable for me, and if Senator Sanders had not stood up as strongly as he has for them, you might have a chance of getting my vote. When it’s not an issue where you disagree, however, you have to earn support another way, and you haven’t.

I know you’re facing a tremendous amount of sexism and gender bias in this election. That isn’t a question. It also does not entitle you to my vote. Your feminism is strictly for straight white women with money, and I’m not interested in a feminism that isn’t more inclusive than that. I’ll settle for you if I have to, but right now, I’m interested in making sure I don’t have to.

Women aren’t just voting on what you think are “women’s issues.” There’s more to who we are than just our gender, and if you’re not seeing us as thinking people, dealing with the complexity of everyday life, then I think that you might have some internalized sexism to deal with yourself. Please look to that, and while you’re at it, google the word “intersectionality.”

Sincerely,

A Female Voter

 

I’m not paying that! Have you lost your mind?

Because I haven’t worked full time since August, I’ve resorted to other ways of contributing to the income of the house. I’ve started doing coupons, rebates, and savings apps to save on our grocery bill, and this week I did a whole bunch of cooking, to stock our freezer full of ready-made lunches that Dale can take to work instead of having to pay for the overpriced food available in Uptown. ($7-10 a meal? For LUNCH? Heeeeeelll naw.)

I’ve had a few people make comments to me that they’d love to learn how to save the kind of money I do, or that they “wish they could do that.” So I’ve got a few tips I’ve picked up on how to get a full pantry without dropping a full paycheck.

Know what you use and what the regular prices are. This is the part that gets most beginning couponers in trouble, and it definitely was a trouble spot for me when I got started. It doesn’t help you to have 42 kinds of coffee if there’s only one you’re going to use, and if you don’t care what brand of milk you buy, then your 40 cent coupon, even doubled, won’t make up a dollar difference in regular price. Harris Teeter is notorious for this one–the 12 packs of sodas we get are often on sale “buy two, get three free,” but their regular price is $6.99 as opposed to $5.49 at Publix, so that’s actually 5 cents higher than when Publix runs the same sodas BOGO ($2.79 each rather than $2.74). At that point, it looks exciting, but it doesn’t actually save you money.

Know what you have on hand. There have been half a dozen times that I’ve gotten home from the grocery store and been dismayed to find that I’ve bought something that I already had at home. That’s a waste of money. Right now I’m trying to find an app that I can scan my groceries into as I bring them home and when I empty them, so that it tracks what I have on hand. Meanwhile, I just wing it by keeping an up-to-date grocery list.

Shop the ads. No one grocery store is going to be the least expensive on everything. You have to shop around. In my area, the grocery stores change their specials every Wednesday, and the specials are up on their websites starting then. In addition, if you give them your email and link your loyalty card to it, some of them will offer subscriber-only deals, such as the E-VIC program at Harris Teeter, which has a gallon of milk for $2.57 this week instead of 3 and change. (Still not the best price in my area at the moment, but before BJ’s opened, it would have been.)

Read the coupon policies. Harris Teeter doubles manufacturer coupons up to 99 cents face value, but will only take 20 coupons per day. Food Lion doesn’t double, or accept competitors’ coupons, but does not specify a limit on total number of coupons per day. Target will allow you to stack manufacturer coupons, store-issued coupons, and discounts in their Cartwheel app (more on that in a bit). BI-LO caps their doubling amount at 60 cents face value, but their regular prices are often cheaper than HT. Most grocery stores will have you simply lose any money they owe you back at the end of the transaction, but Publix will put it on a store gift card for you.

Look at value per use, not total price, but only if it will last long enough for you to use. For example, Dale hates the idea of freezing bread. So while the brand of bread he likes is significantly cheaper in the two-loaf pack at BJ’s, we won’t use it before it starts to mold. I bought it that way once and ended up throwing away 3/4 of a loaf because it had turned fuzzy and blue. I don’t need homegrown penicillin, thank you very much. On the other hand, we use a lot of chicken broth, so when I buy, I get a case, and it lasts for months, instead of having to buy more often and pay more.

Get the Sunday paper. That’s when the paper coupons come out, and I usually get at least 2 copies, so that I can get more than one of any deal I will use. A couple of weeks ago, there was a $3 off Nature’s Bounty Fish Oil coupon, and this week Nature’s Bounty is BOGO at CVS. We give Dale’s dog fish oil and glucosamine supplements every day for his arthritis, so that’s something we’ll be using for the foreseeable future, so I definitely hung on to that one.

Get online. One of my favorite printable coupon sites is Mypoints. For every grocery coupon you print and redeem in store, you get 10 points, which add up to gift cards (I usually get gas cards with mine). If you’d rather not subscribe, you can also get the same coupons at Coupons.com, though you won’t get points for using them. Newspaper coupon providers Smartsource and RedPlum also have printable coupons on their websites.

Use your smartphone or tablet.  I use a number of apps on my phone to access rebates, in-store savings, and purchase rewards. I use Android, but as far as I know, these are all available on iOS, as well. I use:
Ibotta: scan items, upload the receipt showing you bought them, get the rebate. Cashes out to PayPal or Venmo after you reach $10. Rebates are only available at participating retailers. (Note: where available, I have linked my referral code, so if you sign up through that link, we both get a bonus.) In the four months since I signed up, I’ve gotten back over $40 from Ibotta alone.
Shopkick: points for walk-ins, scans, and purchases that can be converted to gift cards to Walmart, Target, and other retailers.
Snap by Groupon: Similar to Ibotta, but they don’t care where you buy the items, as long as they’re the correct ones. You can request a check once your balance hits $20.
Checkout51: another rebate app. Request a check at $20. Also not retailer-specific unless noted on the individual item.
MobiSave: Not as much good stuff on it as Ibotta, but pays out immediately to PayPal rather than waiting for a specific amount.
Cartwheel: Target’s savings app. I love this thing! You can stack up alllllll the discounts with this. If you’re lucky enough to hit it at the right time, you can combine advertised specials, Cartwheel savings, a store coupon, a manufacturer coupon,  the 5% discount for using the Target RED Card (doesn’t have to be credit–you can sign up for a debit option), and your rebates, all on the same item.
ReceiptHog: I don’t like this one as well, so I only really use it when I think of it. It doesn’t matter what you buy on this one, as long as you’re spending money at the right category of retailer, but the points add up really slowly. I’ve had it for nearly a month and don’t have but about $1 in points so far, and that includes the money we spent on our holiday shopping. It’s OK to use when I think of it, but I don’t really think it’s worth the trouble to seek out.

Use your loyalty cards. Realistically, most grocery stores and pharmacies are going to want you to have loyalty cards to take advantage of their specials. That much is obvious. However, pay attention to what other perks those cards may offer, and what terms and conditions apply. BI-LO, for example, has their Fuelperks program, which offers discounts on gas, but only if you spend $50 in a single shopping trip. Ibotta actually will link with the MVP card at Food Lion, so that rather than having to upload a receipt to Ibotta for the rebate items you’ve purchased, they will load automatically from your MVP card.

Be as flexible as you can on brand. Brand loyalty is great, if you have a product that you like, but it’s not going to be the most economical. There are a few things we won’t budge on (shampoo, toilet paper, etc), but the more flexibility you have, the more deals will be available to you.

Plan your meals ahead. Right now I have over two weeks of lunches in the freezer for Dale to take to work with him, plus a week and a half of meat for dinners. If you have a game plan, you don’t end up buying what you’re not going to use.

You don’t have to do all the things I do to save money. I’m one of those weird ones going through the grocery store aisles with my huge binder of coupons. That said, if you do even part of it, your savings will stack up pretty quickly. I know ours have!

 

 

 

 

Pesto Stuffed Chicken Parmesan with Angel Hair

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It’s been so gloomy and rainy in Charlotte this week that it’s taken a pretty nasty toll on my mood. So what better way to spend a rainy evening than with good food and a snuggle on the couch with the one I love? Plus, pasta and sauce were both on sale at Publix tonight, so it seemed like a good night for something in a hand waving, “vaguely Italian looking if you squint at it right” and a good film noir, in this case The Maltese Falcon.

Pesto Stuffed Chicken Parmesan with Angel Hair Pasta

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Roughly 2-3 tablespoons pesto (homemade or bottled would do, but I used bottled–approximate amount is fine)
4-6 slices mozzarella cheese (from a pack of pre-sliced cheese)
1-1 1/2 c. flour
Salt
Pepper
Onion powder
Garlic powder
1 egg, beaten
1-1 1/2 c. Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 jar of spaghetti sauce
1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
Angel hair pasta, cooked to package instructions, for serving

Preheat oven to 350F. Put the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound them out as thin as you can without them falling apart. On each, set a slice of mozzarella and a spoonful of pesto, as pictured below.

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Fold the chicken in half so that the cheese and pesto are on the inside and pin it closed with a toothpick. Put the flour on a plate and the bread crumbs on another. Season the flour generously with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Coat the chicken with the flour, then egg, then bread crumbs, and cook until the outside is browned on both sides, then place in an 11×7 inch baking dish. Pour over enough pasta sauce to cover the chicken and the bottom of the dish, and lay the remaining slices of mozzarella over the top of the chicken, then sprinkle the Parmesan over the top. Bake about 20 minutes, until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the cheese is starting to brown a little. Make a bed of pasta on the plate, spoon the sauce from around the chicken onto the pasta, and serve the chicken on top.

Pagan Thoughts: Carrying What You Can

It has been interesting, since I’ve been living here, trying to figure out how to contribute in ways that make both our lives better, while trying not to beat myself up about the fact that I can’t carry an equal share of the load financially. It’s been enough of a stress on me that I actually did a tarot reading for myself the other night, trying to get some insight into how to strike that balance.

The card I drew was the Star, which is pictured in many decks as a woman either in the water or kneeling next to it, pouring water out from two pitchers. The message I usually tend to take from that card is to make sure that I don’t get so busy giving to others that I forget to take care of myself.

I was raised in a family that valued hard work and “pulling one’s weight” above anything else. My sister and I were doing the bulk of the housework by the time we were in our teens, because even children weren’t allowed to be “freeloaders.” The message with which I was raised was clear: any net cost incurred because I lived there wasn’t worth it, and I’d better provide enough labor to cover it. That was a toxic mindset to grow up in, having to earn the love of the people dearest to me. It taught me to agonize over the ways I am not always able to pull my own weight, instead of being able to give everything I’ve got and then accept my limits gracefully.

I have long believed that the lesson I’m supposed to be working on as part of my devotion to Aengus is about learning to love myself, and not forgetting my own value in a world that has told me for years that I have none. For someone who started mowing yards and babysitting to pay for my own clothes at 14, and who started paying my parents full market rent on my bedroom when I was still in my teens, it’s hard to forgive myself for not being able to pull my weight financially. But I’m trying very hard to remember that self-care is a service to the gods too. If I am to be a tool in the hands of my gods, then I have to keep myself in working order, and that means respecting my own load limits. If I insist on taking on burdens so heavy that they break me, how useful will I be later? So I’m learning–slowly!–to balance doing all that I can with forgiving myself for the things I can’t. It’s a slow process, but I’m getting there as best  I can.

Recipe Overhaul: Steak and Guinness Pie

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The original inspiration for this recipe was in Jamie Oliver’s Jamie At Home, but I’ve changed this around so much that it’s barely recognizable as the original. Steak and Guinness pie is a fairly traditional Irish thing, but Oliver gave it his tweaks, and then I gave it mine, so it’s fairly original now. Be warned of 2 things: one, this makes enough food for an army, and two, it takes hours to make. If you’re working a 9 to 5, this is weekend food, without question.

The picture sucks, because by the time it was done, the apartment had smelled so delicious for almost two hours that I didn’t even think to get a pic until I went back for seconds. I’ll get a better one next time, but meanwhile, if you like a rich, hearty beef dish that’s perfect for the cooling weather, you’ve GOT to try this. Don’t let the amount of stout in it worry you, because the alcohol cooks out. Also, don’t be intimidated by making your own crust–there’s a reason “easy as pie” is a thing, and you could easily take this crust, add a couple of tablespoons of sugar, and use it for sweet pies–the version with sugar is the same one I use for my apple galette. If you really wanted to, you could do what Oliver did, skip the cheese on the crust and use a packaged puff pastry instead of pie crust, but that takes longer to bake, and I like the pie crust better. (Also less expensive.)

Steak and Guinness Pie with Cheddar Cheese
taken from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie At Home with significant changes

Crust:
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, cut in cubes and chilled
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
6-8 tablespoons ice water

Filling:

2-3 small onions, roughly chopped
3 carrots, cut about 1 inch thick
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Yukon Gold potatoes, roughly chopped
2 1/2 pounds beef shoulder blade roast, cut in 1-1 1/2 inch chunks
1 package (8 ounces) sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 bottle (22 ounces) Guinness Extra Stout
3-4 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped
3-4 tablespoons flour

1 (8 ounce) block extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated, divided
1 large egg, beaten

Using a pastry blender or a food processor, combine the butter, shortening, flour, and salt until the resulting mix has the texture of coarse crumbs. (I made Dale do this part!) Then slowly add the ice water until it just barely holds together, being careful not to overwork it. Shape the dough into a rough disc and refrigerate while you’re working on the filling.

In a Dutch oven or good-sized pasta pot, pour enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom, and heat over medium. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes or so, then add the garlic and carrots and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring regularly to keep the onions from burning. Add the meat and saute until the meat is browned all over, then add the potatoes, mushrooms, and thyme. Pour the Guinness over the top SLOWLY, because stouts foam like sodas if you pour them too quickly. Add the flour and enough water to cover. Stir well, season with salt and pepper, and put a lid on the pot. Turn the heat down and simmer for about 60-80 minutes, then check it for consistency. The liquid should be slightly thickened, and the meat and vegetables should be tender. If it needs a little longer, you can let it simmer uncovered while you’re prepping the crust.

So remember that pie crust you had sitting in the fridge? You’re going to flour your surface and your rolling pin pretty generously, because pie crust sticks like a mofo if you’re not careful, and roll that out in a rectangle about 1/4 of an inch thick.

Stir about 2/3 of the cheese into the filling, then pour the filling into a 13x9x2 inch pan. Lay the crust over the top, crimp it around the edges of the pan as best you can (it’s not going to be perfect without a bottom crust to stick to), and trim off the excess. Brush the top with the beaten egg, cut a couple of slits in the crust for the steam to escape so it won’t come out soggy, and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Put the pan on a cookie sheet lined with foil, because it will probably bubble over. Bake at 350 until your crust is lightly browned, about 20-25 minutes. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes before serving so that your filling sets up a bit.

Dale and I are both  big eaters, and I vastly underestimated how long this would take to cook, so it had been what, seven, eight hours since we’d eaten anything? We both had seconds, and there’s still well over half the pie left. Next time I make this, I’m inviting friends to share it with us, because that’s a LOT of food.

There Ain’t No Good Guys, There Ain’t No Bad Guys: #ShoutYourAbortion

The Twitter topic #ShoutYourAbortion was intended to be a discussion of the stigma surrounding abortion and how it isn’t always an earth-shattering tragedy. The fact is that whether you agree with abortion or not (I’ll get to you in a minute, anti-abortion people, because I have words for you), it’s legal. The Supreme Court has refused challenges to Roe v. Wade over and over, recognizing that it’s a legal right to decide whether or not to be pregnant.

Women are being asked to tell our abortion stories. It would be easy for me to shut down abortion critics with mine, about how it literally saved me from a life-threatening complication of an incomplete miscarriage, how I nearly died that night. But here’s the thing. I’m one of the cases anti-abortion people consider “necessary,” and when I confront people calling women murderers for having abortions, they always backpedal with “Well, I didn’t mean you!” Yes. Yes, you did. Because whether you so graciously think my reason was justified or not, I am a woman who has had an abortion.

It was 2008, and I was 22. I was just before the 12-week mark when I miscarried, and it didn’t complete properly. The fetus had already started to rot, causing an infection, but still had a heartbeat when they told me that I couldn’t wait any longer. They couldn’t save the fetus, and if I didn’t allow the procedure, I could die too. I made the decision to live to see another day, even though it broke my heart and the serious antibiotics to deal with the infection made me sick to my stomach for days, and I don’t regret it.  After that experience, and the other miscarriages I’ve had, if I were to find myself pregnant again (unlikely with Mirena, but if it did happen), I would most likely choose to abort again, because the odds are good that I would have to. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t carry a child to term, and that with the childhood I had, I’m not equipped to raise one.

Here’s the thing you miss, when you consider me a murderer until you don’t. There’s not a good reason to have an abortion. There’s not a bad reason. There’s only a reason that’s none of your fucking business, and I shouldn’t have to leave those old wounds so bare just so that you know I’m not a cold-blooded killer. Because women who have abortions are not. We’re people who made a personal, private choice, the hardest call we will ever make, and if you haven’t been there, you don’t have the knowledge necessary to say what you would have done in our shoes.

Now I’m going to curl up in bed next to a man who treats me like a human being with inherent worth, dignity, and value regardless of hard choices I’ve had to make in the past. If you can’t view me that way too, that’s a commentary on the person you are, not the person I am.

Brig Ambue and the Refugee Crisis (Content Warning: Violence, Terrorism, Racism, Eugenics)

As a woman in a fairly middle-class living situation (owing completely to the generosity of a partner who’s willing to have my back when shit goes sideways), benefiting from the privilege of “Do they even make makeup light enough for this skin tone?”, I’m fully aware that I may not be the right one to beat this drum, and I hope I’m not speaking over someone who’s more qualified to speak to it. But this has been a knot in my gut for weeks, and I have to say something.

The refugee crisis in Europe has reached staggering levels, and the US has only committed to take in ten thousand people. Human rights groups estimate that we should be taking on six times that to pull our fair share of the weight, and yet people at home are screaming that we can’t possibly handle an influx of refugees when we can’t take care of our own. Bullshit. We don’t want to pull our weight on a global scale, unless it involves blowing things up and playing soldier with our guns and bombs. When it comes time to lead in issues of nuclear disarmament, universal health care, human rights, gender equality, and yes, taking in people with nowhere safe to go, we’re more than happy to let other countries take point.

When Brighid, in her aspect of Brig Ambue, went up against the powerful and the rich, it wasn’t for the people who were comfy in their fancy apartment buildings with a nice view of the city skyline. The Ambue were the “cowless ones,” the ones with no wealth, few material goods, and no place in society, and she negotiated a place for them and a way for them to marry (which meant becoming part of “normal” society and having families and homes to go to).  She made a place for them, and I can’t look at the refugees crowding into Europe with nowhere to go on arrival without seeing the Ambue of our time.

Warsan Shire said it better than I can, in her poem “Home.” Fair warning, this is NOT an easy read, but please, click it and read it anyway. (Content warning: very direct references to violence and rape)

For as long as there has been humanity, there has been the scary Them. In the US, it has been Native Americans and a price for every Native scalp a hunter could buy, African-Americans who for much of our shameful history weren’t considered quite human enough to own themselves  and even now get painted in the media as “thugs” to excuse trigger happy police officers, Chinese immigrants who were literally worked to death building railroads, Japanese-Americans locked in internment camps during World War II, so many others that it makes me sick just to think about it. In his book War Against The Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race (2003), Edwin Black even connects the intellectual roots of the Holocaust with the eugenics movement in the US in the early 20th century. So much for “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” right?

I saw an infographic a few weeks ago that really hit home for me. I can’t find it now, and I don’t know how accurate it was, but it talked about asking people around the world what country they thought was the greatest threat to world peace. In the US and Canada, it was Iran. In India, it was Pakistan. But the thing that felt like a kick in my gut was that for many countries in the world, it was the US. You know how people tell you when you’re a kid not to be afraid of spiders and snakes, because they’re as afraid of you as you are of them, and you’re bigger? That’s the reality of the American image around the world. This is not the American dream we’ve been sold, and it’s not a national identity that I want any part of.

I hear people raising the concern about whether ISIL will use the refugee crisis to get operatives into the United States. Quite frankly, I find that far-fetched with the degree of screening the UN is putting these refugees through, but you know what else? It’s ironic to think that people are afraid of people from Middle Eastern countries coming into the United States to commit violence, when the wars our government has manufactured have killed so many people there.

If the US wants to be a major world power, we need to stop trying to be a driving force for war and start being a driving force behind humanitarian efforts. If nothing else, can we stop for a minute and think about all the ways we’ve benefitted from the contributions of our diverse population? I mean, this week when Ahmed Mohamed was arrested for taking a homemade clock to school, with authorities calling it a “hoax bomb,” early reports claimed he was of Syrian descent, not Sudanese. Sorry, but the engineering geek they were thinking of, building stuff at home in his free time, son of a Syrian rather than Sudanese immigrant? That was Steve Jobs.

The most important thing to see about the people flooding into Europe from homes where it’s not safe for them to stay? They’re people. And if there’s anything to be learned from the story of Brig Ambue, it’s that we have a responsibility to those who have nothing. Let’s put the fear aside and be the country we claim to be.