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Category Archives: personal

Guest Post: Silent Miscarriage

This one is near and dear to my heart, as I have two adopted kids. My ex and I were also unable to have another child and suffered a devastating loss when our daughter died at 32 weeks of gestation. There are few things out there more devastating and heartbreaking than having to give birth to a child you know is dead. Having suffered regular miscarriages as well, I am well familiar with what the author of this article – an Army buddy of mine – is feeling. The heartbreak is no less real, and as I tried to get past my own feelings at the time, I also noted with some degree of bitterness that while we were having trouble keeping a baby, my brother and his wife – drug addicts whose children we had to adopt due to neglect brought on by the situation – had started talking about having yet another kid! They didn’t seem to have any trouble conceiving and keeping a baby! (At the time I told my dad that if they even tried to have another kid after giving both of theirs up for adoption due to their inability and unwillingness to give up their drug use, I’d go over there and yank her uterus out through her ass.) Meanwhile, those of us fighting to have children had to face sometimes insurmountable adoption or in vitro costs, as well as multiple heartbreaks every time the child we wanted so badly died.

So here’s Carmen’s story. Please read and share.


By Carmen

When I found out I was pregnant with my second child, I was absolutely elated, but being the realist that I am (o.k., negative person) I prepared myself for signs of a miscarriage. I’m not sure why exactly, apart from the fact that I conceived my first child in the midst of an tumultuous  first marriage to a high school sweetheart and let’s face it, things that seem perfect have a tendency to get ruined.

I met my husband about seven years ago and after spending a year long-distance dating, we got married. We didn’t meet online, but instead met playing softball and reconnected a year after my divorce and a year into my husband’s active duty Army contract in Germany. When he returned home, we decided to take it slow, focusing on his career, college, and building our ideal home. After a few months of trying, I noticed my boobs were extremely sore while I was away on a routine business trip. This particular symptom was the tell-tale sign of my first pregnancy, so I decided to take a test. When it came up positive, we were beside ourselves.

My husband was everything my first partner wasn’t. He was there, and not out of guilt. He anxiously waited for cravings to jump into the car at a moment’s notice and appease them. He fetched me Tums when my heartburn was acting up; lectured me about my caffeine intake and told me to take it easy at spin class. We wanted to wait to share the good news with our now six-year-old, but I noticed that Brad (the husband) would lash out at Gabriel (the son), whenever he would lay on my stomach or ask me to jump on the trampoline. Looking back now, he really just wanted Gabriel to see me the way that he did, not the rough and tumble mom and Soldier I once was, but the fragile, baby factory I had become.

I should probably mention at this point, I am in the Army too, and have been about a decade longer than my husband. I had to be especially cautious to get my appointments taken care of because as a member of the National Guard, our Annual Training was coming up, as was my Officer Candidate Course I knew full well I could not participate in as an expectant mother. So I scheduled the earliest appointment I could, but in the meantime we shopped for baby toys and clothes, things I had long since parted with. We cleared out the guest room, chose a spot for the crib, registered at a baby store and set out to tell our closest friends and family. We even had announcement photos taken during our trip to Disney World. In fact, every photo I took I had my hand on my belly so I could one day tell my child that she went to Disney World before she was born. Yes, she was a girl. I had always planned to name my daughter Emily Jane after my late grandmother but one night I had a dream about our baby. I held her in my arms and I told someone standing next to me that her name was Ayden. I looked it up the following morning and found out that it meant “fire.”

Two days after our return from Disney, I was measuring about six weeks based on the date of my last period. I walked into my Daytona-based OBGYN full of hope and excited to see baby Ayden. As I said before, I was prepared for cramps, bleeding, some sign that this pregnancy was not meant to be, but none presented itself, and nothing prepared me for what was about to follow. The sonogram technician could not locate a heartbeat. “No big deal,” I told myself. I was three weeks pregnant with Gabriel when I peed on a stick the first time, so maybe I just wasn’t as far along than I thought. The doctor came in to speak with me however, and informed me that I had a 50/50 shot of having an abnormal pregnancy, one in which I would eventually miscarry or the baby would fail to form. It appeared that I had a fertilized egg and a sack but nothing else. Even thought I had all the symptoms of being pregnant I would not stay that way.

She recommended labs to measure my HCG levels. At the point I was at, they should be doubling. I had them checked the week prior and they were 850. I went to check out choking back sobs and snapped at the secretary trying to schedule me for my next ultrasound when she said “Is this a surprise? Aren’t you excited?” Honestly, don’t these people read charts before popping off at the mouth?! I managed to hold everything in until I reached the car and called my husband, the super excited, amazing father-to-be to tell him everything was not right with the world. In short, I lost it. I couldn’t breath. I couldn’t speak. I just sobbed uncontrollably into the phone, but even in the face of all that negativity, he held out hope that everything would be fine.

When I finally made it to the lab location, I handed the nurses my chart with tears in my eyes. The bitch looked right at me and said “everything happens for a reason.” I wanted to scream. I wanted to shout: “what reason?!” Did I commit some unspeakable sin? Did I cut someone off in traffic earlier that day? Was I going to win a million dollars then next morning but could only collect if I had no baby? What the hell were they saying that to me for?

We waited and prayed for a week, even after the levels came back slightly less than double. We reached out to our church friends who had been praying for us to conceive. We were heartbroken but continued on like we were still going to have a healthy, beautiful baby. Against the orders of my nurse sister-in-law, I poured over internet questions about this issue. The only names I could find for this situation was “blighted ovum,” “silent miscarriage” and “missed abortion.” In almost every situation, the doctor could not find a heartbeat but a few weeks later the pregnant woman returned, undeterred, until finally a heartbeat was found. Other than a few questions in Google, nothing was written on the subject.

My husband and I decided to get a second opinion. It obviously wasn’t the doctor’s fault for having to deal with such a frightening issue, but I felt she could’ve done more research or told me more lightly that my baby was dead and our lives were never going to be the same. On Monday, April 17, we went to visit a highly recommended doctor in Jacksonville. The moment I saw the image on the screen, I knew our worst fears had been realized: there was no baby. The sack was empty, and even smaller than before.

He was very kind, took the time to go over every detail of my six-week pregnancy to conclude that there was in fact nothing he could do. I had had a missed abortion. I had in fact conceived, but my baby could never form – would never form. I would continue to feel and essentially be pregnant until I wasn’t. He determined the best course of action was to perform a D&C, in which they essentially dilate me and remove the sack and tissues in my uterus that are not in fact a fetus.

I left the hospital and drove for an hour in the wrong direction. I blared Metallica and when I got home, drank a bottle of wine. I didn’t want to see anyone. My husband, the gracious and magnificent man that he is, poured me each glass and cried alongside me. My friends and family wanted to come over and help, and I warned them that I was not my chipper self. They would not find me buried in the Bible, sobbing softly, but instead back to my southern roots, tipsy and angry. It didn’t make sense. I did everything right. I had no symptoms. Why was my baby dead?

On Wednesday we checked into the hospital and waited patiently for the surgery. I cried a bit when I had to put on my hospital gown; when I examined my pregnant little belly pooch for the last time, knowing that Brad would no longer place his hand on it hopeful, but out of sadness. All in all, I held it together pretty well until the head nurse came by. He started by saying this was all a legal requirement, but would need to know if the hospital should dispose of the remains of if we had contacted a funeral home. I lost it again. I thought it was tissue. I thought it was a failed pregnancy, not a baby I was having removed from my body – that I did not sign up for.

Eventually we went through with the D&C anyway. It seemed like the best course of action to move past what happened and begin healing. We prayed for Ayden. There will never be another her. We loved her and will never forget her. As I reflect back on these events, I just wish there was more to read. More to prepare myself for what happened. I even found out my mother had the same circumstances between my brother and I, minus the mandatory funeral home talk. I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, but I do believe that in every circumstance there is an opportunity to help and minister to someone else in pain. My hope is that someone else reads this and knows that they are not alone. Evidently this is yet another scientific mystery that knows no cause. There is nothing you or I could do to make it any easier or to prevent it from happening, but we can share the pain.

Another thought is we fight for women’s rights – reproductive rights especially. There should be healthcare for women. There should be accessible birth control for all. But I can’t help but wonder, are those of us fighting to conceive being represented as well? Adoption costs are still astronomical as are the costs of invitro. It just seems if we are supporting women from all walks of life, our voices should be heard as well and our issues addressed just as swiftly.

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Forgetting the Language

My buddy Helena shared an interesting article by a native Russian woman, who detailed her experiences and struggles using the language, after moving to the United States in the late 80s. Helena and I pretty much grew up together (her dad was my dad’s closest friend – they went to grade school together), and our families came to the United States within a few years of one another, although she was younger than I was when she came here. We both speak Russian, but we’re both completely Americanized, and neither one of us has a detectable accent.

My parents took extra care to force me to speak Russian at home when I was a kid. Seriously. As in, they wouldn’t answer except with a curt “Po Russki” (“in Russian”) when I tried to speak English to them. I hated it. Once I learned English, there was no turning back. I didn’t want to speak Russian. I didn’t feel it was necessary. I hated the language, because as a kid who came here during the Cold War, I felt everyone despised me, so I didn’t want to speak it. I was embarrassed.

When I was in college, I did wind up taking some Russian lit courses, because even though I didn’t regularly speak the language, I could still read and understand, and frankly I needed an easy “A.” But I still refused to speak Russian, other than in class, and my history still struck me as an embarrassment to be hidden and shunned, not taken advantage of.

Fast forward *mumblegrumblemhmmmh* years later, and I realize how wrong I was. My former job required extensive use of my Russian language skills, and while I still got the maximum ratings on my Defense Language Proficiency Tests (DLPT), I only took the lower range (easier) exams, which required little effort. Not only was I using my language skills on a daily basis, but my language pay, which we call FLPP, or “FLIP” depended on my DLPT scores, and as a linguist, I was also required to attend language refresher training that lasted six weeks.

My experience speaking Russian matches this writer’s.

But I haven’t spoken Russian with any regularity since I was in my early teens, when, tired of middle-school ostracism, I decided to become as Americanized as possible. Many psychologists think that we forget languages, and other things, because of “disuse”—the memories that we don’t try to recall very frequently become more deeply buried over time. Which explains why, even though you once aced your French midterm, you can no longer remember how to declare that you would like to go parasailing with Jean-Claude this weekend.

Other studies have shown that forgetting a native language might be an adaptive strategy that helps us learn a second one. In a 2007 study, “native English speakers who had completed at least one year of college-level Spanish were asked to repeatedly name objects in Spanish. The more the students were asked to repeat the Spanish words, the more difficulty they had generating the corresponding English labels for the objects.” That is to say, the better I became at English, the more my brain suppressed the Russian inside me.

As I said previously, I literally tried to forget it – not so I could learn English, because I was already fluent by the time sixth grade rolled around – but because I wanted to forget my background. I didn’t want to be different. I wanted to fit in.

So what happens when one has the language somewhere deep inside that brain, but the linguistic muscles atrophy from misuse?

Well, for one, remembering words becomes a chore. The Russian word is right there on the tip of my tongue. I just need to retrieve it somehow. Easy word. I know this word.

Nope.

The more I focus on trying to remember the word, the less reachable it becomes. Dammit! I step back, I say the entire sentence out loud in Russian, hoping the elusive word just rolls off my tongue out of habit. That strategy is sometimes helpful, but most of the time not. The longer I strain, the worse it becomes, and by the end of the day, I can’t even remember how to say “car” in Russian (Mashina)

On my last deployment to Kosovo, I was asked to act as interpreter for the visit of Ramil Kadyrov to Camp Bondsteel (yes, I did write that article). Kadyrov was at the time First Deputy to the Minister of Defense of Tajikistan, and since he only had one terp with him, I was asked to supplement.

It was three days that went something like this.

Day 1:

Him (in Russian): blah blah blah

Me: (translating into English): blah, blah, blah.

His interlocutor (in English): blah, blah, blah.

Me (translating into Russian): blah, blah, derp (look at his terp for help – oh yeah!), blah.

Day 2:

Him (in Russian): blah blah blah

Me: (translating into English): blah, blah, (fish around for English translation), blah.

His interlocutor (in English): blah, blah, blah.

Me (translating into Russian): blah, derp, uhhhhhh, blah.

Day 3:

Him (in Russian): blah blah blah

Me: (translating into English): blah, blah, (fish around for English translation), ummmmmmm, blah.

His interlocutor (in English): blah, blah, blah.

Me (translating into Russian, brain bleeding into my mouth, eyes crossing): derp, derp, uhhhhhh, derp.

By the third day it became considerably more difficult to access the Russian words I needed to do my job. As the author points out, you just get plain exhausted. Much like after a strenuous workout, after having avoided the gym for several months, you are in language muscle failure.

I was surprised how exhausting it can be to operate in an unfamiliar tongue. By the end of the day, my word-dogs and I yearned to stop. I would run out of things to deem “beautiful” or “interesting.” My tongue felt fat, and my already half-assedly rolled “rs” started getting straight-up swapped for the American kind.

I was surprised, however, to realize that the three-day terp fiasco is merely a small hurdle to overcome.

When I did my mandatory language refresher course in 2013, the teacher demanded that only Russian be spoke in class, and the homework sometimes took three hours due to sheer volume.

My brain was tired after three days, but as the course rolled along, I realized that the access to words I thought I had forgotten was coming back strong. I was able to complete the homework quicker. My word recall skills returned strong, and eventually, I was able to speak without reaching back to slowly tug the words out of my brain.

I began to speak Russian, instead of translating from English to clumsy Russian in my head before opening my mouth. And yes, there is a difference. Those learning a language will translate in their heads first before speaking. Native speakers simply speak, and the sentences flow directly from their brains in Russian (or any other language), instead of English words that first have to hit a translation filter. The longer I spoke, the easier the speech flowed. I began to dream and to think in Russian, which is where you want to be as a linguist.

And then, one day – at the end of my training – I sort of forgot English.

The instructor had us watching a Russian sitcom called “Interny” or “Interns.” It was a blatant ripoff homage to both “Scrubs” and “House,” which one episode fully acknowledged in a scene, and it was hilarious! I spent many nights watching that show on my computer, and one night I binge watched close to an entire season. For six hours straight. When I finally finished, I decided to turn on CNN in my barracks room and see what was going on in the world, and that’s when I realized I didn’t understand a single word.

Not even kidding.

I was literally listening to CNN and not understanding a word. The English sounded familiar, as if I should have been able to understand it, but I couldn’t.

And that’s how I got my Russian groove back. I did return from the course, still dreaming in Russian and yelling Russian commands at my dog, who looked at me like had lost my mind, but as my English slowly became normal again, my Russian remained intact, confirming UCLA cognitive psychologist Robert Bjork’s theory that while disuse of the language does cause words to become less accessible, relearning the information makes it stick around stronger and better than ever before.

I took the upper range (more difficult) DLPT that year, and I scored a 4/5 in listening, a 3+/5 in reading, and a 3/5 in speaking (never could get a higher grade in speaking – that score is more subjective than any other, because you’re actually speaking with a live Russian on the phone, who is grading your ability to communicate, and they apparently all hate me).

I should have listened to my parents when they tried to get me to speak Russian as a kid all those years ago.

The Snowflake Test: Personal Edition

Well, some of you wanted it, so here it is. I know I posted some of the questions in Kyle Reyes’ Snowflake test in my last post about it, and I provided some personal replies, but I thought, and a couple of readers agreed it would be fun if I answered all of the questions honestly, and provided the opportunity for you guys to do the same in the comments section.

Soooooooooooooooooooo…. Let’s see if Kyle thinks I’m a snowflake and whether he would hire me.

  • Outside of standard benefits, what benefits should a company offer employees?

Opportunities to expand their skillset, opportunities to advance, and parking. Parking is a biggie for me, living in DC and paying $25 per day if I want to drive to work.

  • What should the national minimum wage be?

There shouldn’t be one. Period. Employees and employers enter into a mutually beneficial contract, for whatever the price of employee’s labor is that takes into consideration both what the value of said employee’s labor is to the employer, and what the employee agrees to be compensated for said labor. If the government interferes and forces said employer to pay a higher wage, the employer will likely have to weigh the cost of increasing the value of the product and passing that on to the consumer, risking a decline in sales, or just not hire the employee and force others to pick up slack that could have been filled by someone seeking experience and a few extra bucks. Entry level jobs aren’t meant to be careers. They’re meant to be providers of experience and skill, and if someone is sitting in a minimum wage “career” and not advancing, but demanding a higher wage for the same crap, they’re slugs and looters, and they need to go away.

  • How many sick days should be given to employees?

Depends. I understand the idea behind sick leave. It’s not vacation time that you spend relaxing. Generally speaking it’s shitty days you spend in the hospital, at the doctor, or in bed hoping for a quick death. But it is leave – for whatever reason. So give employees sufficient amounts of regular leave, so they’re not trying to justify it with doctor’s notes and stuffy, achy, coughy-sounding phone calls and still have enough to take a vacation during the year. Everyone needs a break.

  • How often should employees get raises?

When they merit them.

  • How do you feel about guns?

Best tools of self-defense on the market.

  • What are your feelings about employees or clients carrying guns?

Just keep your booger hook off the bang switch and don’t point it at anything you don’t intend to shoot, and we’re good.

  • What are your feelings about safe spaces in challenging work environments?

Unnecessary and a waste of resources. Challenging work environments develop human beings as people and as employees.

  • In a creative environment like The Silent Partner Marketing, what do you envision work attire looking like?

As I said previously, dress appropriately for the day. I dress in a suit if I have a meeting or a briefing – especially for senior policy makers. Otherwise, I wear comfortable slacks, a blouse and a blazer or a dress. In a more creative and less structured environment, the normal day without meetings may be different. Don’t look like a freak. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. And if you’re wondering what a freak looks like, here’s an extreme example. Don’t be this guy.

  • Should “trigger warnings” be issued before we release content for clients or the company that might be considered “controversial”?

No.

  • How do you feel about police?

They are to be respected and appreciated for the sacrifices they have chosen to make. That said, the badge doesn’t come with a halo. They aren’t always right, and there are corrupt and inept police officers out there, just like there are in any other profession.

  • If you owned the company and were to find out that a client is operating unethically but was a high paying client…how would you handle it?

Address it with the client directly and respectfully. You have become aware that they are operating unethically. This is not the culture we condone in our company. We can help you fix it, or you can find another marketing firm.

  • When was the last time you cried and why?

At my son’s Army Basic Training graduation. Tears of joy.

  • You arrive at an event for work and there’s a major celebrity you’ve always wanted to meet. What happens next?

I do my job.

  • What’s your favorite kind of adult beverage?

Bloody Mary.

  • What’s the best way to communicate with clients?

Directly, honestly, and respectfully. At the same time, you’re the subject matter expert whose services they sought out, and you need to be firm if the client demands are bad for them or for you. “Customer is always right” only goes so far and should be resisted if the customer’s plan is bad practice.

  • What’s your favorite thing to do in your free time?

Hiking, shooting, reading, writing.

  • What are your thoughts on the current college environment as it pertains to a future workforce?

Colleges are leaving graduates woefully unprepared for the real world. Grading on curves, providing safe spaces, stifling free speech in favor of FEELZ, and treating legal adults like fragile children that should be coddled, while providing a substandard education that focuses on the political/social agenda of those who run the school will leave graduates unable to function in high-pressure environments, unqualified for work that involves critical thinking, and wholly unsuited for today’s competitive work place.

  • What’s your typical breakfast?

COFFEE! Dark. With a spoonful of coconut oil and heavy cream. Sometimes a few slices of salmon and/or cheese.

  • What’s your favorite drink when you go to a coffeehouse?

Latte with heavy whipping cream and one small pump of sugar-free cinnamon dulce syrup.

  • How do you handle bullies?

Depends on the situation. My reactions range from ridiculing them until they cry, to actual physical self defense. I’ll never start a physical fight, but you can bet I’ll finish it. Ridiculing them is fun. They’re not used to being the object of scorn, so they generally fold like cheap lawn chairs when faced with someone who won’t put up with their shit. Many of them have been in that position of power for so long, and have grown so accustomed to never being challenged, that their mental acuity muscles have atrophied.

  • How do you handle it when your ideas are shot down?

I try to come up with better ones. If I’m convinced my idea is great, I’ll try to persuade with logic and reason.

  • What do you do if a coworker comes to the table with an idea and it sucks?

“That actually sounds interesting, but maybe we can modify it this way? Or how about something in this vein?” If the coworker sucks, “This is the worst idea ever! Slap yourself. With a chair.”

  • What does the first amendment mean to you?

It means the freedom to speak your mind without worrying about government prosecution. It means being able to engage in political activities -whether speech, expression, written word, or assembly, without being targeted by those in power. It means being free to exercise whatever religion you want, or not. It does NOT mean being free of the consequences of exercising those rights. That means, yes, your employer has the right to fire you for being an embarrassing douchebag and spewing your rhetoric in a way that embarrasses the company. It means yes, a baker is allowed to be narrow minded and bigoted and to decline to bake a cake for a gay wedding. It also means that potential customers have the right to shun that baker, but the government has no right to fine him. It means, yes, you have the right to speak, but I’m not obligated to provide you with a microphone or a means of disseminating your message. It means you can worship in any way you want, but I’m not obligated to build you a church (read that as: taxpayer funds shouldn’t be used to build houses of worship).

  • What does faith mean to you?

Absolutely nothing. Never been a faith person. Faith is, by definition, something you exercise without proof. Not my cup of tea, but y’all should feel free. (And yes, I realize how strange it is to say when my dad is a religious Jew, and when my family was deprived of the right to practice our religion in the former USSR.)

  • Who is your role model and why?

Hmmmmm… that would be my dad. My dad dropped everything he knew in the USSR, including a decent job, to start a brand new life in the United States with zero language skills, because he knew that as a Jew, I wouldn’t have the opportunities there that I do here, and he wanted a better life for me. My dad – with his two Masters Degrees in engineering – came here and got a menial labor job until he could learn enough English to find an engineering position. My dad never got welfare. He picked up bits of furniture and electronics from other people’s trash on their curbs, fixed them up and cleaned them, and provided furniture and some basic entertainment for his family. My dad sacrificed everything to come to a brand new country, assimilate into a brand new culture, and learn a brand new language – all for me. All so I could have a future.

  • “You’re in Starbucks with two friends. Someone runs in and says someone is coming in with a gun in 15 seconds to shoot patrons. They offer you a gun. Do you take it? What do you do next?”

I have my own, thanks, but I’ll always take an extra, although it probably won’t be a .45 ACP like I carry. Find cover with a good line of sight to the entrance. Ensure patrons move away from the entrance and take cover. Gunman comes in blasting? There’s only one door. Thermopylae.

  • What does America mean to you?

America means freedom. America means opportunities, if you’re willing to work for them. America is the ability to succeed if you have the will and the skill, without consideration for your race, religion, etc. America is the ability to express yourself without worrying about being kidnapped in the middle of the night and tossed into a dank cell. America is accountability – both for government officials and for the regular guy. America is not easy, but nothing worth it ever is.

  • You see someone stepping on an American flag. What do you do?

Throat punch incoming. That said, I am also aware and willing to face the consequent assault charge. Freedom of expression is not without consequences. If one engages in this type of repulsive behavior, one should expect visceral reactions from a number of groups of people – even those who are aware of the consequences that can range from citations to criminal charges.

  • What does “privilege” mean to you?

A privilege is a special right granted to one person, but not to another.

  • What’s more important? Book smarts or street smarts? Why?

Both are important depending on the situation. Tactically, street smarts are more important. Street smarts allow you to react to real world situations. They help you use rational thought and logic to achieve the best outcomes. Street smarts are common sense; they are a survival mechanism. Strategically, book smarts give you perspective to deal with those difficult situations. They provide the tools you can call upon in times of need. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. At the same time, books also make you a more interesting, well rounded person.

OK, Kyle! Would you hire me?

As for you guys, leave your own responses in the comments. I realize it will make the comment incredibly long, but what the heck.

These Boots Were Made for Walkin’

I had what I hope is my last physical therapy appointment for my ankle today. That is not to say the ankle is perfect. It’s still sore on occasion, and sometimes it swells so much, it kind of looks deformed. But I have exercises I will do at home, I ice regularly, and the ankle is stable, which is the biggest and best effect of the Brostrom procedure I had nearly four months ago.

That’s the good.

The bad is the fact that I can’t wear the majority of my shoes. Even a small, two-inch heel leaves me in pain. I wore a pair of black boots I absolutely adore to work last week, and I literally hobbled back home! Yikes!

Luckily for me, department stores to the rescue!

Department stores have found an alternative to the low-price TVs sold by electronic chains to draw crowds over the Thanksgiving weekend: a $19.99 pair of women’s boots.

Belk Inc. started offering the heavily discounted boots as its “door-buster” seven years ago. The promotion was so successful that it has been repeated every year since, and adopted by rivals like Kohl’s Corp., Macy’s Inc. and J.C. Penney Co.

“$19.99 is a magic number,” said Joseph Safdeye, chief executive of E.S. Originals Inc., a shoe importer that came up with the idea. “When a lady can walk in with $100 and buy five pairs of boots, that’s a good deal.”

Guess what resides just across the street from my apartment building!

Photo courtesy of the Wall Street Journal

Photo courtesy of the Wall Street Journal

Hi, Macy’s! I can haz boots?

I hate tossing some of the absolutely gorgeous shoes I have! I wear them to work. They look incredible with a black suit – or a dress, for that matter. The thought is unappealing enough that I’m willing to wait a little to see if the ankle heals up enough for me to wear my favorite shoes and boots again.

But…

In the meantime, I need BOOTS!!! It’s fall, dontcha know! BOOTS!

I’ve learned over the years that buying cheap crap made in China isn’t worth the few bucks you save. The boots generally fall apart after a few months of wear, or they make your feet sweat to such a degree, you feel like you’re walking through a swamp, toes squishing in sludge. So, the doorbuster deal doesn’t generally appeal to me as a consumer. I want quality.

That said, this year – until the ankle heals, which my physical therapist says could take six months to a year – I may be enticed to grab a pair of these things to tide me over until I can wear my boots again without crying.

Black Friday, here I come!

I’m baaaaack, bitches!

Did y’all burn the place down while I was gone?

Did you throw ragers?

Did you get pissed drunk and wake up with sketchy individuals in bed next to you, or your face plastered to the toilet bowl?

Yes, I missed you too, but work called, and off I want to… well, I’ll let you guys guess where I was this time.

Care to take a guess where this is?

My trip this week went something like this.

Tuesday: go to the office dressed in torn jeans and an Army hoodie. Take care of last minute crap. Leave for the airport.

Arrive at airport, get hugged by an elderly lady and thanked for my service. Stand in security line for 45 minutes while TSA monkeys stare incompetently at my backpack and swab my ankle brace lest I am carrying Semtex inside. Board British Airways flight to Heathrow. Deal with screeching, but very cute, child the entire way.

Wednesday: Get to London and discover my connecting flight to my final destination is canceled. The only available flight is either at 1700 hours that evening, which would have had me stranded at Heathrow the entire day, and forced me to miss an evening function I was supposed to be attending, or a Lufthansa flight to first Frankfurt, and then my final destination, which would have put me there relatively early, but still have allowed me to shower and rest before the evening’s event.

Get booked on the Lufthansa flight. Have breakfast with a guy I met at the airport, who was also screwed by the BA flight cancellation. Discover the Lufthansa flight is an hour delayed.

Check in with Lufthansa, get assured the flights from Frankfurt will be delayed as well, so no need to worry because of the delay.

Flight leaves Heathrow an hour and a half late, causing us to miss connecting flight to final destination. We get told we are rebooked on the next available flight… at 1700 hours, leaving us stranded at Frankfurt’s Terminal 1 for four hours (if you know anything about Terminal 1, you feel my pain, as there’s literally nothing there – it’s deserted, save for a shop and a cafe).

As a funny aside, I discovered that when German flight crews apologize for delays due to “fog in London,” they sound like they’re apologizing for delays due to “fuckin’ London.” It took three times for me to figure out that they weren’t cursing Heathrow.

Get to final destination late. Think about going to the function. Decide not to in favor of bath, room service, and sleep.

Thursday: Attend planned work conference all day.

Thursday night: Hike around with colleagues. Take a few photos. Sleep.

I made a new friend

Friday: Get to airport. Discover that British Airways flight to Heathrow is delayed, but fortunately not enough to make me miss connecting flight back to DC – just long enough to make me annoyed at having to sit in airport.

Friday afternoon: Get to Heathrow, meet up with close friend who lives in London, drink until boarding time.

Board plane. Sit next to farting Italian guy for 7 hours. Fight urge to kill farting Italian.

Get home. Snuggle husband, dog, and cat.

By the way, I got back to read this whining complaint by a self-described “fat person” about how fat people are being discriminated against by Hawaiian Airlines because the airline has chosen to select sears for the customers to better distribute the weight in the aircraft. Apparently, fat people’s plight just went from awful and dehumanizing to even more horrible!

 If it’s not the glares and stares from people praying you don’t sit next to them, it’s the eye rolls when you tell them, “I’ve got the middle seat” or the loud sighs when you put the armrest up just to get a little relief. It’s the anxious feeling you get when you need to ask for a seat belt extender. And it’s your neighbor’s flat-out aggressive commentary about the lack of personal space that results from sitting next to you.

I’ll be the first to admit that flying sucks. The seats are already small and uncomfortable, and not being able to choose where you sit will make it even more so.

But let me address something here, as a person who is not fat, but certainly not stick skinny – a person who fits into the seat and doesn’t need a belt extender.

I just paid more than $1000 for a seat on a transatlantic flight. The person next to me ostensibly paid a similar price for a seat. A SEAT. They don’t quite fit into said seat, because they’re huge, so they try to lift the armrest, as this woman whines, for a “little relief.” This leaves me with half a seat, and the fat person with a seat and a half. This leaves me hanging into the aisle, being hit by the flight attendants, or worse, their meal carts, and told to sit in my seat, where there’s literally no room, because the fat person’s idea of getting “a little relief” is taking up their seat and half of mine, for which I paid the same as they did.

Is that fair to me? No. It’s a 7-8 hour discomfort and sometimes outright pain of having to contort myself to accommodate the person who ostensibly paid for one seat, but has now taken up more than that.

Am I supposed to suffer because the fat person feels “dehumanized?”


No matter what the reason for your weight issues, you do not have the right to make others suffer because it’s ostensibly not your fault that you are overweight. You do not have the right to more space at others’ expense because you ostensibly are a victim.

For anyone who has literally been squished against a wall, been forced to hang into the aisle, or had to sit in a stressor position, with your legs crossed and falling asleep, leaning on one butt cheek, because the fat person next to you needs a “little relief,” a lengthy flight is torture – a physical torture that’s more painful than a fat person’s feelz because someone rolled their eyes at the prospect of sitting next to them.

If you take up more than one seat, buy more than one seat. Then we all win.

So, can those of you who don’t already know from social media guess where I’ve been this week?

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