Throwdown Thursday

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program to bring you the following special announcement regarding items seen on social media since the 2017 Women’s March.

But first a confession:

I did not march. I should have marched and I could have marched, but I didn’t. In fact, the Princess and I had planned to attend the march in Madison. It would have meant changing plans we had already made with other people, but we hoped they would understand. Because the thought of us walking together as mother and daughter showing our support for womankind and united in our commitment to human rights sounded absolutely awesome. But then as word spread about the march and the size and scope of the event grew, the logistics became an issue and we were forced to reconsider.

But we were there in spirit. And we knew we would be represented because the folks who were marching were in effect marching for all of us. Not just white women or young women, healthy women or rich women, or able-bodied women or pretty women. ALL women. Plus immigrants, the underprivileged, and others whose rights are constantly under attack by those who know and understand them the least.

So instead we spent the day with my mother-in-law, which may not sound like a landmark event until you consider the fact that it was the first time I have ever spent an entire day with my mother-in-law since I met the Jarhead. Not only that, but it was the first time the Princess has spent the day with her dad’s mom since she was two months old and I was in the hospital having emergency surgery.

I am not alone in having skipped the march, nor am I alone in having wanted to march. In fact, whether I did or did not attend the march is totally beside the point.

However, there are some women who did not march that day who are not content to have sat this one out or simply found something better to do that day. Instead, they are criticizing those who did participate and mocking them for it.

Now I’m a big believer in free speech, so they can say what they want to say. No matter how stupid their words, or how ignorant of fact, or how loaded with middle class privilege their words are, they have the right to speak their minds.

Fortunately, so do I.

And so, to all of you scoffing at the marchers with your #notmy march:

Good for you. You have everything you need and want. You can take care of yourself and you don’t need anyone fighting for you, thanks very much. That’s great. As a woman, I am genuinely both happy for and proud of you.

But consider this: The only reason you have what you have now—including the right to voice your opinions on social media—is because of those who came before you and who fought for YOU. Yes, long before you were born—and I don’t mean months or years but DECADES and in some cases a CENTURY before you drew your first breaths—others fought so you could vote, own property, drive, marry the person of your choosing, stay single, use birth control, go to college, get a job, have a career, demand equal pay for equal work AND speak your female mind in public.  You may have legitimately earned what you can claim as your own today, but you wouldn’t have SQUAT right now were it not for the folks who marched, led protests, got arrested, were beaten, publicly shamed and humiliated, and went to court for your right to mock today’s activists. You are the beneficiaries of their blood, sweat, and tears. You have things for which they fought and reaped in many cases not one single reward. Do not forget that.

The same goes for some of you sharing and commenting on photos of women in the military with the caption “This is how REAL women march.”

I like to believe this one was intended to be fun. A joke to be shared between military women and by friends of military women. And that’s cool. Esprit de corps is a wonderful thing.

But from a few of the comments accompanying the posts it seems that some folks are using it to take a swipe at the marchers. As if marches and protests aren’t worthwhile, and that those of us who have not served in the military have nothing to contribute to their country.

To the folks who happen to feel this way, I say: I’m genuinely happy for and proud of our women who have served in the military. As a citizen, I am also grateful for their service, and as someone who has spent YEARS arguing with chauvinistic servicemen about the lack of equality for women in the military, I’m also thrilled to know that times have changed.

But before claiming the high ground and insinuating that those of us who did not serve in the military are not “real” women—before you look down on those who march on main street instead of in formation, and who fight wars with words instead of automatic weapons—remember this: It wasn’t that long ago that women earned the right to serve in the military, and it’s been even less time since our choice of military fields were limited to nursing and clerical work. And it’s only in THIS century that women could fly an aircraft, serve in combat, and serve as drill instructors.

Those changes did not happen overnight, and unless you are much older than I am, you are not the reason these changes took place. It is only because women of earlier generations marched, protested, argued, got arrested and went to court for the right to serve our country, and the right to choose how to serve it. We are the beneficiaries of the blood, sweat, and tears of women who were denied rights we now enjoy.

So be proud. Be happy. That’s what we all want and most of us deserve.

But remember to be grateful. And if you can’t be grateful, at least don’t be disdainful.

Love and peace to all.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.



Road Trippin’ Down Under: Best Laid Plans

Once we had decided on Australia as our 2016 vacation destination, the Jarhead and I then had to buy our plane tickets. We knew they would be expensive since Australia is so far away that you can’t even get there from here without stopping off to gas up somewhere in the Middle East. But we knew they were going to be even more expensive since there was no way I was going to survive 24 hours in economy class even with a layover in Abu Dhabi.

I mention this not because I hate strangers or enjoy wasting money, or because I’m filthy rich or delusional and expect to be waited on hand and foot like some spoiled heiress. Rather, I mention it because I knew that after just six or seven hours confined to metal chair in a crowded cabin teeming with screaming children and coughing, sneezing, and snoring adults, I was going to be, either,

  1. the first woman in the history of air travel to die of acute monotony, annoyance and discomfort,
  2. the first woman in the history of air travel to be shoved out of the emergency hatch in mid-air by her own husband, or
  3. the first woman in the history of air travel to be shoved out the emergency hatch in mid-air by an angry mob that included her husband.

Either way, I was not going to live to see Australia and the Jarhead would have been left to wander around the place by himself for a week (which would have been a shame) and then return to the States alone (which would have been a bigger shame.) On top of that, he still would have had to explain my absence to the authorities and/or break the news to my loved ones, and take time out of his busy schedule to plan one killer of a memorial service. Given the cost of funerals nowadays, and the fact that, without me, he essentially would have paid double to fly alone in coach—not to mention lawyers’ fees if the cops didn’t like his story and the jail time he might get if the jury didn’t buy it—we (that is he, I, and/or my estate) would be money ahead by flying business class.

So, it made sense for us to bite the bullet and spend the money. At least that’s how the Jarhead and I rationalized it. It may have been the wrong call since flying coach may have proven more interesting from a writerly standpoint. More drama and darkness, and all that. But this way, we both got to fly in comfort and style, and no one died—not even the woman who had the nerve to join us in business class accompanied by three young children with no other adult to assist her. Were it not for the all the delicious gourmet food, the reclining seat with padded foot rest, the expansive audio and video library, and the noise cancelling headphones, one of us may not have lived to tell the tale—especially after the middle child whined and screamed for hours and then coughed so hard that she threw up all over her seat just two rows behind the Jarhead. Thank goodness for the free and abundant champagne.

Of course, we didn’t know when we were booking the flight that we would be traveling with a crazy woman bent on flying with two children and a demon, or we may have chosen a different departure.

Speaking of the unknown: there were a few other pieces of information we did not have when we blew a small fortune on our once-in-a-lifetime vacation to Australia that may have made a difference in our travel experience. For example, we were not aware that one needs to obtain a visa from the Commonwealth of Australia to enter the Commonwealth of Australia. We were also unaware that to obtain a visa from the Commonwealth of Australia, one needs to complete and submit a form to the Commonwealth of Australia, and have it approved by the Commonwealth of Australia. Without a visa from the Commonwealth of Australia, one cannot even board a plane bound for the Commonwealth of Australia.

I guess it should have occurred to us. One needs a visa to travel to the United States from other countries, after all. So why shouldn’t US travelers have to get visas from the governments of their intended destinations?

In our defense, the only place to which we have traveled by plane—apart from when we moved to Italy and the handful of countries to which the Jarhead has flown for work, which are handled entirely differently from leisure travel—is England. So we had insufficient experience with international travel to know there had to be a paper trail. That and the fact that the visa I needed when I flew to England in 2004 consisted of a slip of paper about the size of an ATM transaction receipt and was completed just before we disembarked the plane rather than prior to boarding.

At this point, I invite you to guess as to when we became aware of the need to have a visa prior to boarding a plane bound for the Commonwealth of Australia. Go ahead. Guess.

Was it upon receiving confirmation of our ticket purchase from the travel agent?

Uh, no.

Was it upon receiving our electronic boarding passes from the airline?


Was it upon receiving an email from our credit card company congratulating us on our plans to see Australia, as evidenced by the purchase of two very expensive plane tickets and inviting us to contact their fraud unit if we had not recently booked two very expensive tickets to Australia?

Not even close.

In fact, we found out from the ticket agent at the counter as we were cheerily checking in and eagerly waiting to hand over our bags. Oblivious Americans I’m sure she was thinking while simultaneously apologizing for the inconvenience and describing the potential legal consequences to both her and us if she allowed us to board a flight to Australia without a visa.

My stomach churned as I thought about the extra money we might have to pay if we had to change our tickets to buy ourselves more time to get a visa. It churned even harder as I contemplated how much time and money we might have wasted if they denied our visa and we couldn’t go at all. Seriously. I nearly threw up my breakfast just hours before that little demon child did it on the plane.

But while the financial manager in me was growing sicker by the minute at the thought of all that wasted money, the hodophobic part of me was celebrating the fact that by not leaving for Australia, I didn’t have to worry about never making it back home from Australia. Meanwhile, a third part–the small, quiet, and rarely taken seriously mature part–was listening to the agent who, having stopped apologizing was now offering to have another agent explain to us the process by which we could obtain a visa.


And in about 20 minutes.


I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I was that I had tuned into that conversation when I did. Or how grateful I was that I’d taken St. John’s Wort with my breakfast that morning, which is probably the only reason the whole shebang didn’t come back up on me right there and then.

And for a change, I was grateful that the Jarhead can be a bit *cough* rigid when it comes to time and travel since that’s the only reason we wound up checking in three hours ahead of the flight instead of two.

It’s not often that we’re early for anything, so I don’t know what benefit is ordinarily derived from punctuality. I only know that this time, it definitely paid off. Because less than a half an hour later, we were back at the counter with our boarding passes and visa confirmations, and on our way to the Land of Plenty!