47% of the info on the Web is False; which could also be False

coffee with foam in like form

 

I thought I’d put my thoughts down in a blog post. That way anyone who is tired of post-election bluster posts has the option to bypass this and peruse kitty or baby pictures  instead.

So here we are 9 days after the most shocking election to date. Or at least in my lifetime; (in 1948 no one thought Truman would earn a second term and despite the efforts of newspapers claiming a Dewey win, Truman defeated Dewey).

Media involvement/influence during or after an election is nothing new.

In the 1800s antebellum newspapers were often explicitly affiliated with a political party, aimed on delivering that party’s agenda. In return, the political parties subsidized their newspapers, and those subsidies were important to the business model of newspaper publishing. For instance, the Washington Globe was a political paper affiliated with Andrew Jackson’s administration. Because political newspapers were generally operated by people close to the political leaders they covered, they could be both valuable and unreliable sources of information.

So why are we surprised by the behavior of our major media outlets? Biased views and opinions have been expressed for more than 200 years via the media.

We are human; we have the tendency to absorb information that supports what we already think. This is called Confirmation Bias.  Further, as much journalistic integrity we wish some professionals would possess, we’d be asking them to betray their fundamental cognitive orientation of life- a.k.a- their worldview.

Let’s examine the importance of a person’s worldview for a second.

Your worldview is how you perceive the world we live in. The thoughts and feelings you have about life. Your beliefs, your desires, your fears, your sense of purpose can all be components of your worldview.

Your worldview can also be what grounds you; what makes you feel safe and in control. You worldview gives you a strong sense of self so you can go about your day feeling confident and empowered.

When Trump reached 270 electoral votes, those who were aligned with his worldview felt empowered and in control. Trump voters’ worldview was validated and supported by their choice.

Conversely, when Clinton lost the electoral vote, those who were aligned with her worldview felt vulnerable, unsafe, and out of control.

This is why this election in particular had a massive impact on everyone. The candidates’ worldviews were so vastly different it rocked each of us at our very core.

Despite Trump and Clinton’s personalities and what decisions they made in the past (questionable e-mails, connections with Russia, etc.)—the bigger question(s) was what will they do now and in the future?

Unfortunately both campaigns focused on attacking each other’s character and dredging up past misdoings, Americans were rarely exposed to reliable information with regards to their actual plans (unless it was researched, extensively).

That circles us back to how the media was involved, or rather, how much biased and false information we are exposed to has grown.

66% of Facebook users get their news from Facebook feeds.

47% of the information on the Internet is false.
(Forbes, 2003. Read: 13 years ago. This percentage is likely higher.)

98% of Americans distrust the information they find on the Internet.

So here we have more than 151 million American Facebook users getting their news from 47% of unreliable sources and 98% not believing what they read on the Internet anyway.

There were 126 million voters in this election. This begs the question how many voters were getting real, factual information to make a sound decision.

I’m not going to blame any person or party, or media outlet, or social media platform for the result of this election. I don’t want to get into any heated debates.

What I do want to point out is that we need to be more responsible with what we read and what we share on the Internet.

My favorite news piece  from the election was InfoWars’ claim that Clinton is connected to an alleged satanic ritual called Spirit Cooking.

Yes, people. Hillary spends her time gathering pig’s blood to paint with. Probably one of those wine and canvas parties with her girlfriends. That makes total sense.

According to Business Insider, the most trusted news sources both liberals and conservatives in America can agree on are:

The BBC (British)

The Guardian (British)

The Economist (British)

The Wall Street Journal (American)

Google News (American)
*note this is a computer-generated news site that aggregates headlines from news sources worldwide, groups similar stories together and displays them according to each reader’s personalized interests- so it can be biased based on your customization.

If we can’t rely on our news sources, it is up to us to evolve our human brain to employ logic and empathy simultaneously when absorbing information. By working both parts of the brain, our decisions and ideas can be both idealistic and pragmatic (= win-win). And if we can’t transcend or change our neural pathways, at least we can be more cognizant of truth vs. untruths on the Internet and how our brain processes them and how we behave.

Trump: He’s No Hero

 

There was a time in my life (circa 2004, Season One The Apprentice) when I looked up to Trump, viewing him as a no bullshit businessman.

But now, having read article after article about him, having read his tweets, and listened to his soundbites, he is not the man I once idealized him as. He is far from the business professional I wish to emulate.

During a walk in Chicago last week, I found this scene poignant. Here in the morning mist is an American flag with Trump Tower in the background. It begs the question, united, as a nation, what do we stand for? What role do we play in helping the human race thrive? How do we ensure that everyone is treated equally and how do we help increase the quality of life for us now and generations to come?

trump

Yes, perhaps the aforementioned is kum ba yah rhetoric, as there are more pressing issues on The Hill. But I choose the candidate who gets the bigger picture (globally) of what a true leader is. A true leader does not create followers, a true leader empowers others and creates more leaders.

Trump is not a leader, Trump can be found somewhere between pages 1 and 991 in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

I mentioned to my friend Patrick that Trump reminds me of a blog post I wrote about Kevin Spacey’s character Frank Underwood of House of Cards. For all 12 of you who read my blog, you’ll recall that I asserted Frank Underwood possesses what’s called the Dark Triad.

The ‘Dark Triad’ is a group of three personality traits, each of which may be considered not only anti-social but socially dangerous, as the person affected not only ignores the feelings of others but will use and abuse people for their own ends.

The three characteristics of the dark triad are:

  • Psychopathy: Seeks control.
  • Narcissism: Seeks praise.
  • Machiavellianism: The end justifies the means.

The common thread within the dark triad is a combination of callousness and manipulation that ignores social values. Callousness is a blatant disregard for the feelings and safety of others. Manipulation is an active use of persuasion that seems to be intended to help others, but in practice is not. Together, they lead to self-focused actions that harm others, including active and deliberate harm, for example where a workplace perpetrator gets a colleague sacked in order to take their place.

The dark triad is related to aversive ways of behaving such as bullying and general aggression as well as overt bias against stereotyped others, including those of different ethnicity, gender, ability, age and so on (Source: Changingminds.org).

Do these characteristics apply to the  GOP front-runner? The answer is yes.

So why do people flock to Trump? Well, why do we love watching Frank Underwood? Why did we love Michael Douglas’s depiction of Gordon Gekko or Leo’s of Jordan Belfort?  Let’s go back as far as 1988 author, Thomas Harris’ character, Hannibal Lecter. Beyond those who like Trump because he’s anti-establishment and ‘tells it as it is’, the magnetism of Trump lies within his compelling nature. Chuck Klosterman’s theory as to why we are drawn to villains can be explained through Star Wars.

… when you mature into adulthood and you understand the world isn’t black and white…we’re no longer compelled to model ourselves after the [good] characters we grew up with or read about now. Rather, we’re much more interested in figuring out what makes them tick, and with villains, how they became the way they are.

Which is why [Klosterman] thinks that most adults find Darth Vader more compelling and even meaningful than Luke or Han.

According to human behavior analysts, it’s in our biology to be attracted to villains. The article, Why Do Supervillains Fascinate Us? A Psychological Perspective   0n Wired.com, expands upon this reasoning, stating what drives our interest, and what specific rewards, needs, wishes and dark dreams super villains satisfy. Simply summed up, Carl Jung claimed that confronting our shadow side can unearth new strength and a motivating factor (to follow someone like Trump) is power, payback, and challenging the status-quo.

So now we watch Trump’s train wreck of a journey, somewhat gleefully, mostly revoltingly, as he confronts his shadow side whilst his followers feed his dark triad and create a him into real life supervillain.

But as Wired.com writer, Travis Langley so eloquently states (some paraphrasing),

Remember, though, that superheroic fiction ultimately begins and ends with the heroes. Comic book writers and artists create supervillains, who move in and out as guest stars and supporting cast, first and foremost to reveal how heroic the comics’ HEROES can be.

Trump is a nice side character. But he’s no hero.

Online Dating is a Full Time Job

keys.jpg

I told my friend my TinderDaddy story, which is apparently so funny and ridiculous, she started telling other friends, and I am sure those friends will tell other friends until my TinderDaddy story becomes an urban legend.

First let’s back up and discuss my orientation into the online dating world. I was fresh out of a marriage and my friends suggested I join OkCupid. They told me that’s where all the hipsters are. I wasn’t particularly looking for a hipster, but E-Harmony sounded too serious and Farmersonly.com kind of scared me, (I like farmers. I have only been in long term relationships with farmers).

The first person I messaged name was “Rob” whose status claimed he was “available”. He was definitely my type, blonde, blue-eyed, All-American. We had similar tastes in music and the same sarcastic personality (as so it seemed on his profile). OkCupid claimed we were a 97% match. We moved our conversations to email (but not text) and eventually met up for coffee. I was nervous. It was my first date in 10 years. We sat there discussing our jobs and our children when I noticed he was wearing a wedding ring. I thought, hmmm, either he is a widower or he can’t let go of his ex wife or… I asked him point blank, “are you married?” and he responded, “yes.” I sat there stunned by his answer. “But, but,” I stammered, “your status says available”. He answered, “yes, I am available for casual sex”.

WTF.

He continued, “don’t you know that status means married or in a relationship but looking to hook up NSA?” First I had to ask what NSA meant (it means no strings attached). Then I honestly answered, “No. I thought available means you’re single and looking to date.” I wanted to get up and run out of the coffee shop, but I found myself fascinated by this human who had the audacity to create a fake profile just to hook up with women- and lots of them. He told me that out of the 9 years of his marriage, he’s been “dating” online for three of them. He told me how he snuck around- to the point I think he could write a book called “how to cheat on your spouse and get away with it.” We finished our drinks, and in a weird way I was thankful to have met him because he gave me my first taste of what online dating  was going to be like. Since that day I’ve been able to easily weed out the married guys, mostly ignoring them, sometimes reprimanding them.

I’ve been on and off dating sites. Sometimes off because I am seeing someone, or sometimes off because here’s the deal, online dating is a full time job. I’ve heard that men don’t get nearly as many messages than women. To put it in perspective, when I joined Match.com I’d have hundreds of visitors per week. My message box would start kicking out messages before I could even read them. I’m not saying that this is because I am a hot commodity, I am saying that there are more men, single and married, on sites and it becomes very overwhelming for women. I get a lot of angry messages from men “why aren’t you responding?” (sometimes with nasty name calling) and I really want to tell the truth “because this inbox, out of all of my inboxes, is my lowest priority”. I coach 300 health participants and typically manage 100 brides per year, so answering  messages from horny guys isn’t high on my to-do list. I end up deleting or disabling my account for a while.

So this all brings us back to the TinderDaddy story. I joined Tinder because I was at a dinner party in Los Angeles and all of my friends were sitting around Tindering. I thought, what a weird world we live in that we no longer talk at a party but just shop for hookups whilst sitting next to each other. I sat there staring at them swipe left and right and finally one said, “Just join Tinder Julie.” I set up my profile and began shopping the Los Angeles men. Well that was a bad idea. LA men all look like models. They are not holding dead deer or standing next to their Harley (don’t get me wrong, I like to hunt and I like motorcycles, but in Minnesota every profile pic has a gun, a hot rod, and a photo of the guy standing next to a girl saying “she’s my sister”).

The feature I like about Tinder is you only get messaged if it’s a mutual match (you both have to “swipe right” and choose each other). The feature I don’t like about Tinder is it creates a “grass is always greener” mentality for people. There was a really interesting Vanity Fair article about Tinder and the Dawn of the Dating Apocalypse. Call me old fashioned, but when I meet someone I like, I don’t think about who could be “better” out there or who I might be missing out on. Further, I’ve never been the type who can date multiple people at a time. With all that being said, it might be time for me to join Farmersonly.com. Let’s hope no one creates a Tinder app for farmers.

Ok. The urban legend TinderDaddy story. It was my first month being on Tinder and I met a guy, let’s call him Travis. We messaged each other for a few weeks and decided to go out for drinks. We met at a place close to his house. Now, what I tell you next I need you to not judge, because he talked me into watching the Bruce Springsteen Live Concert special back at his house. What he failed to tell me is that when he got home first (before me), he relieved the babysitter. I walked in, sat on his couch and while we were watching Bruce belt out some 80s ballad, I heard a baby crying. “Is that a baby crying?” I asked. “Yes.” he responded and got up from the couch and sauntered down the hall. I sat there thinking, WTF, he didn’t tell me he had a baby. WHAT AM I DOING AT HIS HOUSE WITH THIS BABY???!!!! He came back and said down next to me and asked, “would you like a drink?” His nonchalant, I’m just sitting here chillin’ with this chick while my baby is freaking out in the next room, attitude rendered me speechless. Then his baby started wailing again and the rest of the night was me trying to calm his crying baby down by rocking her in a rocking chair until 3am. I left in the early hours of the morning and drove home thinking, f*ck, I have to get off of Tinder.

XX-

Julie

Photo courtesy of theartofcharm.com

 

 

 

BANNED to BOND: Why I Am Taking a Device-Free Trip with My Son in 2 Weeks

gadgets

I took half of a personal day today. Which sounds funny, considering that I’m my own boss. It’s just been a while since I’ve allowed myself half a day (during the week) to do nothing. I had to pick up some items at the Apple store at the Rosedale mall. That’s when I noticed, even with my Mophie battery pack, my phone was at 10%. Now I don’t know about you, but my phone can display 10% and within two minutes it’s at 3%.

I am not sure what causes this accelerated battery sucking phenomena, perhaps I should have asked a genius today, but it happens to me and it makes me really uneasy. I hate walking around with 3% battery left on my phone. That means at any given moment someone might text or call and I’ll have to quickly tell him/her I have 3% left or abruptly disconnect with them leaving them wondering where I went, and leaving me feeling anxious. So naturally I found an iPad that was on display and nonchalantly plugged the lightning cable into my iPhone to charge it. During this time two friendly, yet suspicious, Apple employees came over asking if I needed any help. I stood in front of my borrowed cable operation and shook my head no. Then pretended to be really interested in the iPad.

I was able to charge the phone up to 12%, which wasn’t as much as I wanted, but my movie, Horrible Bosses 2, was about to begin.

I sat down in the theatre and opened my gigantic Dasani water that was surely going to necessitate a mid-movie bathroom break.

6% battery remaining

I watched several of the promo ads, like the fun FitBit Global Campaign Ad that makes me want to run a marathon and/or go rock climbing for a hot second (fleeting motivation).

4% battery remaining

I watched several trailers of movies coming out like Unbroken (made me misty -eyed), The Interview (why wasn’t I cast in this?), and The Boy Next Door (no, no, hell no).

3% battery remaining

Then my feature came on and I saw my beloved actors- Jason Sudeikis, Jason Bateman, and Charlie Day- light up the screen. I dug my butt a little lower in the seat to get comfortable, looked down at my phone one last time and-

Fuck. It’s black. I have no battery left.

I have no battery left! I have no phone! I am stuck in this theatre, in the dark, for two hours with no phone!

The four other people in the theatre were chuckling at the movie, which was slightly distracting.

How can they be laughing at a time like this? What if my son needs me? What if a bride is trying to get a hold of me and gets pissed that she can’t?

What if I forgot that I have a business meeting right now? What if there’s fraudulent activity on my credit card account?

What if my Tinder guy is trying to get a hold of me? What if the world is coming to an end and I’m the last person to know?

My mind was racing with ‘what ifs’ and I had to mentally slap myself in the face to get a grip. I began to talk myself off of the ledge.

Your son is fine Julie, the school will call his father if they need a parent. You can let your clients know that you were unable to answer your phone for 2 hours.

You can apologize if you forgot about a business meeting. Your credit card company will freeze your account if something bad is happening.

It’s best to play hard to get with this Tinder guy, let him wonder where you are (probably not tell him you’re at a movie in the middle of the day on a Tuesday by yourself).

And if the world is coming to an end, at least you’re with Jason Bateman.

I calmed myself down and began watching the movie again. I laughed, I snorted, and not once did I look at my phone.

It was bliss.

I left the theatre feeling refreshed, as if I had just gone to the spa for the day.

What kind of world do I live in that I can’t sit for 2 hours without a phone?

Here’s the deal though, other than being asleep, on a plane, or in a prison (excusable circumstances), most people expect you to be readily available via a smartphone. Amiright?

And guess what this 24/7 expected accessibility causes?

ANXIETY

At least for me it does. You know those three dots that spring up when someone is writing you a text?

Those three dots represent someone is expecting me to answer back. Those 3 dots chase me in my nightmares.

So you think, how is it that you can’t go a day without your phone Julie?

In my line of work, if I don’t accept a gig within a few hours, it could go to the next artist on the roster or a competing vendor.

Every email, text, or phone call I miss could cost me a chunk of my ‘paycheck’. Hence causing me anxiety.

I believe electronic devices and social media is causing a low-level of anxiety in our culture and draining our energy. I’m not suggesting that we need to go completely without, I’m suggesting what my son Evan is constantly on my case about,

“Mom, put your phone down/get off the computer, those people can wait. It’s mommy and Evan time.”

I am very lucky I have an assertive kid who values human interaction over electronics. I think we all innately do, we’ve just conditioned ourselves to communicate a different way now.

Seeing that I’ve been sort of a shitty mom lately (not being present/in the moment with my son), I have planned a road trip for us from Atlanta, Georgia to Pensacola, Florida at the end of the month. We call it our BANNED to BOND trip.

I am BANNED from my phone to BOND with my son.

I can’t wait to spend quality time with Evan (although it scares me a little– 5 full days with my rambunctious son!). And honestly, I can’t wait to be banned from my phone and computer. I will accept and deal with the repercussions of not being available. Because in the end, all that matters is that my son knows that he’s important and worth my undivided attention.

~Julie

graphic courtesy of www.awdsgn.com

Sex, PBR and how to survive the 5,7,10 Year Marriage Itch

I just finished watching the first 20 minutes of the movie Nesting (on Netflix) and it’s like the writer used a honing device and has listened to every conversation I have had with friends in the last 3 years.

Nesting, written by Sean Blythe and directed by John Chuldenko, is essentially what happens in the first 5-10 years of a marriage. Dissimilar to the individual mid-life crises that Judd Apatow’s film, This is 40 depicted, Nesting focuses on a couple that is struggling to get over that (near) 7 year itch- when the spark fades, when the newness has worn off, and you’ve started to become roommates.

I find that the 7 year itch is getting closer to a 10 year itch. Blame it on Mercury in perpetual retrograde or blame it on herpes (where the term 7 year itch originates from because of its incubation time). The point is, there will come a time in everyone’s marriage where it needs to be shaken (up) not stirred.

Now you’re thinking, what does a divorced woman know about shaking up a marriage and surviving it?

1. Without getting into too much detail of my former marriage, I basically didn’t allow for the chemical rush phase (honeymoon period) to run it’s course. I was engaged within 4 months and married within 9 months.  My marriage was doomed from the start, UNLIKE most marriages I know where the couple has taken the time to organically grow into a relationship, with love and friendship at it’s foundation.

2. I talk to at most 8 brides a week about their relationships and about 6 friends per week about their marriages. So that makes me an expert on this topic. 😉

3. I watch a lot of (realistic) romantic comedies. They exist. But only on Netflix (plug).

So back to shaking things up. So many of my friends are in that period right now where the marriage has stagnated. The sex has is about who is going to do all of the work on top, the conversation is forced, and the spark is dormant.  THIS IS NORMAL. MOST PEOPLE ARE EXPERIENCING THIS.

The first step to addressing this is admitting that the marriage has hit a rut. So communication is key. The second step is getting some edible chocolate to rub all over each other, just kidding, that’s step four. The second step is reprogramming your thinking and changing your perspective. If you think that it’s not going to change or get any better, it won’t. But if you believe (manifest!) that there’s still so much more to experience and learn about each other, well doggone it, it will happen.

I was reading an article about Jimmy Fallon this week in People magazine. I am obsessed with Jimmy Fallon. How does he have all that energy? How do I siphon it from him? His wife said something super cheesy about parenthood being a yummy journey together. But I couldn’t help believing her (and him). They are truly excited to take on this adventure together with eyes wide open. They seem like self-aware people that aren’t oblivious to the challenges that will come their way, but are prepared to work like a team.

The third step is COMMUNICATING. Remember what that is? When one person talks, the other person listens and then vice versa.

There’s a great scene in the movie that covers the importance of communicating. Here’s the (paraphrased) dialogue that I think you’ll relate to.

Neil is the main character, questioning his marriage to Sarah. Graham is his friend, a divorce lawyer.

Neil: I always thought Sarah and I would be a little different (than other couples)…

Graham: You two have become bland…

Neil: I think I miss the simplicity, a little bit of the struggle you know, Pabst Blue Ribbon…

Graham: Dude you don’t miss PBRs. Dudes in prison don’t miss PBRs. At this age, you need to be on the nuptual thrill ride, if you don’t massage it, the spark gets dim. Take my advice, communicate with her. Keep things fresh. Keep things open. Go have sex in public.

Neil: So what should I say?

Graham: I don’t know. I’m not Dr. Phil.

The fourth step is to have sex in public. No it’s not, you’ll get arrested (although that might be a fun adventure and bucket list item for the both of you). The fourth step is about reigniting your sex life.

I get it though, the demands of jobs and children can really put a damper on your sex life. When do you find the time? How about an afternoon delight in the ‘private’ bathroom at the office or getting up 15 minutes earlier in the morning (ok 5 minutes, I am being generous here). THERE IS ALWAYS TIME FOR SEX PEOPLE!

And the fifth step, on the heels of mind blowing sex, is just plain old having fun with each other. It’s vital to have date nights. And not a Cub foods or Target. I am talking, shave your legs ladies, put some Drakkar Noir on guys, and hit the town. If you’re not into going out, then play ghost in the graveyard in your own backyard. Whatever makes you laugh, loosen up, and feel like yourselves again–that’s what you should be doing—weekly.

Because when you feel like yourself and you’re being yourself, that’s when you’re the most connected to your mate who fell in love with the core of who you are in the first place.

Xo,

Julie

netsing

My {Real} Mother

“Do you ever want to meet your real mom someday?”

“No”

I probably have been asked that question 400 times in my life. And 400 times I’ve given the same answer, no. It’s not that I am bitter at my biological mother or have any issue with my adoption, it’s just that at a very young age I made peace with fact that my mother gave me up. I honored and respected that decision. It’s the unconditional love and forgiveness I’ve always given to my unknown mother.

Gave me up, abandoned me, made me an orphan—those words all sound so damning.

Sacrifice, societal pressures, pro-{my}life*—those words all sound like a woman who chose to carry me to term and allowed me to live, but had to let me go.*no political agenda here.

So when my adoptive parents told me two years ago that they were willing to help me find my biological parents I was taken off guard. Never in my life  had I considered it an option. One, because I had no desire to, and two, because I was left on the steps of an unknown person in Seoul, Korea. I thought it would be impossible to find my mother.

I was wrong. The Children’s Home Society, the adoption agency that my parents used, told me that several adoptees have found their parents with very little information. Some adoptees have flown to Korea and went on a TV network for more exposure (and subsequently their parents identified them and they reunited).

They also told me I could open a file that had more information about my adoption. WTF? Was my first thought. So all of these years I thought I’d seen my whole file and they are telling me there’s a secret file?

The case worker at the agency told me that the first step is to read the {secret} file and then decide if I wanted to continue the search. I thought this was a weird thing to say. Why would I cease the search? Wouldn’t it give me more motivation to find my mother?

In the days preceding my appointment to read my file I was having mixed feelings. Part of me was excited to learn more about the possible reasons why my mother decided to give me up, part of me just plainly didn’t want to know. I had lived my life to this point not knowing, I didn’t know if my world view and sense of self would be affected by this new information.

I nervously drove to the agency and walked into the office. I barely listened to the case worker, I was too focused on what was waiting for me in the folder on her desk. She gave me a look that I interpreted as, ok, here we go, another Korean-adoptee is about to learn something she does or does not want to know.

I opened the file and started reading. A lot of it I had already known. But the one new piece of information jumped out at me and stopped my heart.

A note was attached to the baby that said, “Please take care of her”.

And that was it. No, “her name is ‘lil Kimchee”, No, “I will miss her greatly”. Just, “please take care of  her”.

I drove home feeling sort of numb. What kind of person just writes five words after birthing a child? (I was 2 weeks old when I was brought to the orphanage). A wave of pain and anger washed over me. For the first time in my life I was angry with my mother. I consider myself to be an expressive and verbose person and I expected her to be the same. She was my mother wasn’t she? Shouldn’t we almost be one in the same? I would have written a novel and attached it to my baby. I would have added my Twitter and Instagram handle and anything else self-promoting 😉

I couldn’t sleep that night. I couldn’t get those words out of my head, “please take care of her”.

And then it hit me, those were the only words she could muster. Those were words of a mother with a broken heart who was pleading for someone to take care of me. This was a woman who does not want to be found.

The revelation came to me so hard and so fast that I called my adoptive mother at midnight. She answered the phone in a panic, thinking I was in an accident or near death. I said to her,

“I don’t want to search for my mother. I am happy with my life. I don’t want to go on an emotional and exhausting search. I want to respect her wishes. You did take care of me. And now I have Evan. He is my family. He is who I need to focus my energy and attention on.”

My mother, in a sleepy and relieved (that I wasn’t in a squad car) voice said,

“Um, ok. We’ll talk in the morning.”

The next day I picked up my son from school. This is my favorite time of the day. I walk up to the school doors, he walks out and quickly scans the sea of parents. When he finds me, his face lights up and he runs into my arms. I pick him up and swing him around. I’m sure it’s a really annoying scene to everyone around us. And this also won’t last forever. I can’t imagine him as a fifteen year old allowing me to even touch him.

Having my own child made me realize what it’s like to be a mother. When you’re a mom you always think about what’s best for your child (or try to at least). That’s what my mother did for me. She wanted me to have a better life, a good life. She sacrificed her own well-being for me. She’s the one who has suffered all of these years, not me. To find her might only be a painful and shameful (culturally) reminder of what she did. I want her to find her own sort of peace with it.

I do hope there does come a day I do show up on her TV screen in Korea (if that’s where she is) just so she may recognize me and see that I am OK. Although, I hope it’s not a reality show about washed up makeup artists or that I am some sort of bat shit crazy housewife.  🙂

My adoption photo. I was such a chubs.

Image

xoxo,

Julie

On Being a Single-Mother: The 5 Untold Truths

Late at night, when I can’t sleep {I’ve had insomnia since childhood}, I find solace in the straight-to-DVD movies on Netflix. Even the worst ones I tend to enjoy. Mostly for their valiant, often mis-guided, pen to paper, screenplay to screen efforts.

Last night I came upon Life Happens. Directed by first-time Director Kat Coiro and written by Kat Coiro and Krysten Ritter, this movie is a drawn out sitcom at best. Perhaps the first misstep was in the casting; Krysten Riiter, Kate Bosworth, Rachel Bilson and Justin Kirk don’t scream Golden Globe ensemble {side note: if you find Justin Kirk strangely attractive, he’s better looking in person and is a fairly decent kisser}.

I digress. This post is not a movie review. This post is about how the main character Kim, played by Krysten Riiter, did not portray what it’s really like to be a single mother (SM) in 2014.

Disclaimer: I am not touting myself as a hard-core SM (HCSM), that title is reserved for the mothers whose baby daddies are not in the picture. I am fortunate that I have 50/50 custody of my one son {emphasis on one, because any more children than that, I’d probably be on a shit loaf* of medication}. This means I have some ‘me’ time during the week, which usually turns into work time, eating a whole bag of Riesens time, or fending off oversexed men online time.*shit loaf is a new word I made up, but then discovered Urban Dictionary defines it as someone being an idiot. Please use it my way, synonymous with shit ton, or shit load.

In the movie, 3 girlfriends live in a house in Silver Lake, CA. One out of three of the roommates has full time employment (and not the one with a baby). Ok. Hold up.I have lived in Silver Lake and it’s not cheap.Go to Craigslist, do a search for 3 bedroom home in Silver Lake. You’ll find the most affordable {and decent} houses start at $3200.  There’s no way, unless you’re being subsidized by a baby daddy, sugar daddy or Obama daddy, a partially employed single mom can afford $1000+ for rent.

Single Mother (SM) Truth #1 WE’RE NOT LIVING LARGE

Without a job, you can’t afford to live in a house in Silver Lake. As a single mom {without child support} you either get a full time job or work part time and live within your means. Hey, it’s hard out here for a pimp. I try to be fiscally responsible {key word: try}. While it appears that I jet set all over, I use airline miles, I save my pennies, and I stay away from Starbucks =money siphon.

In the movie, Krysten Riiter’s character, Kim, is a size 0. That’s a gross misrepresentation of reality. Yes, a women’s body can bounce back after childbirth. But only if she has the time and energy to eat right and exercise.

SM Truth #2 WE’RE NOT A SIZE ZERO

Without great focus and discipline, single moms will NOT fit into their high school prom dress. Which I can’t because:

1. I’m just bigger {curvier?} than I was when I was 18.

2. Someone stole my 1995 prom dress out of my car. {Long story as to why my 1995 prom dress was in my car in 2011}.

In the movie, single mother, Kim, has the time to date.

SM Truth #3 WE DON’T HAVE TIME TO DATE

Depending on the age of the child, single mothers do not have the time to date. I am kind of sort of seeing a guy who also has children and we hardly see each other. And when we do, we’re usually multi-tasking; preparing school lunches, doing the laundry and dust busting the cracker crumbs from backseats of our cars {ok, he’s doing all of that, I am horrible at chores}.

Kate Bosworth’s character, Deena, says {of moms}, “you can still do and have everything you want  {career, social life, romance} and your kid will respect the hell out of you for it”.

SM Truth #4 WE CAN’T HAVE IT ALL- NOR SHOULD WE WANT TO

 I am the anti-feminist. I don’t believe that women, especially single mothers, can have it all. Something and someone is going to get the shaft. I’ve spent the last 6 years trying to figure out how to juggle being a hands-on {pseudo-stay-at- home} mom, as well as build a career.

The movie redeems itself when Kim says to Deena, “you and I had this plan to be fabulous and conquer the world…you know I think the really scary part is realizing that maybe I don’t need to conquer the world, maybe I am ok with hanging out with the lame moms at Cafe Chez Bebe, maybe I’m more than ok with it, maybe I  like it.”

Yes!! A mother’s a-ha moment when she realizes that even with the best laid plans, life happens {insert groan}.

No matter how well we try to plan it, organize it, control it, raising a child, alone or with someone else is effing hard and we need to cut ourselves some slack. We need to redefine/reframe what having it all looks like. To me having it all is having a job that I like, having some semblance of a social life, and being able to spend quality time with my son.

While Kim was not an angry, bitter person in the movie, we did see glimpses of her being depressed and losing hope. I think that’s normal for any mother.

SM Truth #5  WE ARE NOT BITTER, ANGRY PEOPLE

Postpartum  depression should just be seen as the norm, rather than a disorder. It’s situational stress. Anyone would need time to adapt to the many life changes occur—and not just in the infant stages, but in all stages of childhood. I went to counseling before Evan was born as a preemptive measure. My therapist asked, “what are some of the things that you’re afraid of?”{becoming a mother}.I replied, “Not being able to travel”. She responded, “traveling doesn’t have stop, you can take him with you.”

Ohhhhhhhh…..that was a big moment for me. My life didn’t have to stop. It could begin. And even with some of the challenges that single motherhood presents, I wouldn’t change my life, not even if it meant fitting into my 1995 prom dress. {A message to the motherf*cker who stole it:  I’ll find you.}

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House of Cards: Breaking the Fourth Wall

Beau Willimon has become my favorite “TV” writer. He has skillfully adapted the BBC series House of Cards into an American series of the same name. When I was first introduced to HOC {by an ex boyfriend} I was reluctant to watch it because:

1. I wasn’t a Kevin Spacey fan. All of his mid-90s film roles made me think he was life imitating art {his life}. He’s the type of guy I wouldn’t want to be left at bar close with.

2. I have a love/hate relationship with politics. In my youth I served on many boards/committees, including the student board at my alma mater. I had a half -baked idea that I would be chair of a School Board someday. But after a certain {unnamed} administration, I lost hope and interest in politics. It became too draining to read about, or watch on the news.

15 minutes into the 3rd episode {that’s where I started} of Season 1 I was hooked. I watched 5 episodes in a row {thanks to the new way we watch shows, coined binge-watching}. I was most mesmerized with the writing. It’s so quick-witted and pert, it takes a moment to digest the dialogue. Once you do, you think, wow, this shit is good.

Impressive coming from a man {Beau Willimon} who has little to nothing in his IMDB repertoire. However, when digging up his background you’ll find he’s a playwright and served as a volunteer for the Senate in the late 90s. What better man to adapt a series about the ugly side of politics (or is there only one?) and who is also adept at writing dramatic dialogue.

Then there’s producer/director David Fincher who is no stranger to dark and twisty story lines. As a veteran of film, TV, and music videos, Fincher knows what’s needed to engage a viewing audience–sex, drama, and… mental illness. Kevin Spacey’s character Frank Underwood is what psychologists would diagnose as having the dark triad -a group of three personality traits: narcissism, Machiavllianism and psychopathy. {Also known as the men that I tend to date}. It’s both fascinating and disturbing watching Frank relentlessly manipulate person after person without a conscience. How brilliant for Willimon and Fincher to create the main character {anti} hero to be both the protagonist and the antagonist. The only other series that I can think of that shares in this duality is Batman. But even Batman ends up being the good guy in the end. Is Frank a good guy? That’s what keeps me watching. Maybe it’s all a metaphor. Maybe what the show is telling us is that we’ve hollowed out our ideologies and replaced them with personal agendas, not just on Capitol Hill, but in our own lives.

What is it that makes us binge-watch this show? In addition to the writing, the directing and Kevin Spacey, the answer is Robin Wright. Omg. She gets more beautiful with age. Her character, Claire Underwood, is best described as cool and poised. We rarely see a vulnerable {“crazy”} side of her, which I am sure is refreshing for male viewers. While she often submits to Frank {out of  fear? because of love?}, she is his equal. Equally smart, conniving, and calculating. The two work as a team which is both admirable and terrifying.  They appear to have an open marriage {sexually}, which makes me think, great, this show is going to spawn an shitload of couples opening up their relationship only to discover it.doesn’t.work. So if you gain anything from this post, heed my words, open relationships are stupid. 

The second season is proving to be almost as good as the first. It has a bit more soap-opera-y feel to it, but it can be overlooked with it’s great dialogue and holy shit moments.One aspect of the show that I wasn’t so sure about in the first season is when Frank {breaks the fourth wall} and speaks directly to the viewers. I appreciate it more this season, maybe because his character has become more dark and I like access into his internal monologue. Or maybe because I’ve finally become a Kevin Spacey fan.

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photo from digital trends

The Wolf Of Wall Street: We Are Jordan Belfort

I went to the late showing of The Wolf of Wall Street last night. Watching it I couldn’t help think, wow, Jordan Belfort embodies every deadly sin; greed, anger, sloth, lust, gluttony, pride and envy. Yet why am I drawn to him? Why do I feel empathetic toward him? Why do I want him ‘to win’?

Perhaps that’s what director, Martin Scorsese wanted us to think and do. He wanted us to see ourselves in Jordan Belfort. Because how could we condemn a man who is so, so…human? The following further explains how there’s a little Jordan in all of us.

Greed: We’ve all experienced it. Any one who has purchased a lottery ticket is guilty of it. It’s human nature to want more than we have. I remember years ago telling my bridal team in a team meeting, “Careful what this type of money will do to you. The only other way you’ll make this type of cash is stripping or drug dealing.” Clearly not the same speech that Jordan would give to his brokers. I cared about my team, I cared that they had a healthy relationship with money.

Money. The root of all evil. I feel lucky, having drifted in and out of freelance work my entire career. I’ve learned the value of the dollar. Some years have been great, some years have been really tough. It’s a funny thing to being able to afford a BMW one year and barely make mortgage payments the next. But living that ebb and flow puts life into perspective. You begin to want less and just be grateful to have what you have. Don’t get me wrong, a second home in the South of France sounds great, but if I don’t bust my ass to work toward it, I don’t get to dream about it.

Anger/Wrath: We all feel it at 5pm on 35W. Who could blame us for being angry? We’re living in messed up world right now. But it won’t last long, the pendulum has to swing the other way sooner and later and the waves of aftermath from 9/11 and on will settle. We will experience a new normal. Not quite a utopia, just a greater awareness of how we need to live within our means. We’ve seen and experienced too many horrors caused by the recession(s) to continue make the same mistakes again.

Sloth: Sloth is defined in many ways-mostly as being lazy. However in the film I believe sloth can be applied to lack of moral and social consciousness. Jordan Belfort knowingly swindles people out of money for his own gain. I am not accusing you of being dishonest and a scam artist, I am just saying that again, Scorsese is a wise old man and knows that every person in their lifetime has considered doing something that would be more advantageous for themselves than for someone else. Jordan just took it to another level. Watching him grow a business was oddly inspiring, even though it was based on lies, corruption and deceit.

Lust: Wolf of Wall Street just might win an AVN award (Oscars of Porn). Lots of T & A. I’ll be the first one to admit that I am guilty of lust. Not so clean thoughts enter my mind when being presented with photos of Ryan Reynolds. But do I want to snort coke out of his ass? No.

Again, Jordan takes lust to another level. His frequent liaisons with hookers was astonishing to me- didn’t he care about STDs? The public service announcement here is- sex leads to venereal diseases. If you’re going to do it, don’t do it with a hooker.

Gluttony: One word. Thanksgiving. Let’s move on.

Pride: Well some would argue that I have none since I am always sniveling back to ex boyfriends. Do I have an inflated sense of personal status and accomplishments? Absolutely. I blame it on Facebook. But I’ll be the first to admit that Facebook popularity has no bearing in the real world. “Likes” and followers do not define one’s worth or value. It’s what you do outside of social media that’s the measurement of personal success and influence. I have to remind myself often that social media is akin to Second Life- it’s a virtual game, it’s not real.

Envy: Don’t lie. You’ve envied something at least once in your life. This ‘sin’ was seen the least amount in the film. Probably because Jordan made sure everyone succeeded there was no one to be envious of. But again, envy is human nature. We want what we don’t have. I believe envy is just as bad as greed. Greed is having tangible assets (and desiring more), envy is having none. So envy becomes the ‘most potent causes of unhappiness’. Envy like greed, is an epidemic. I blame the Kardashians. They are the epitome of greed to create envy. They are not stupid. They know that America watches them because it generates a certain amount of subconscious jealousy. What they don’t know is that there are two kinds of envy-malicious envy and benign envy. Benign envy can be a motivational force. In fact some philosophers say envy helped create a democracy and evolutionists, namely Darwin, say envy is what pushes us to survive and procreate.

The Wolf of Wall Street is definitely a must see. Leo DiCaprio gives a fine performance and even though Jonah Hill was tough to look at (in all of his 80s and 90s glory), he really nailed his character. While it tells the true story of the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort, it also shows us that we are all capable of doing bad things and that we’re equally capable changing and doing good things- making better choices, being better people and living better lives.

Xo,

Julie

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Cleavage, Yoga Pants, and Chico’s: This Is 40

I am in a quandary of what to wear these days.  I am in that in between age where American Apparel is too hip (and painfully tight) and Ann Taylor LOFT is too depressing. My best friend from college, Jen, scolds me for shopping at LOFT claiming I am not old enough to shop there yet.  She says it’s the gateway (slippery slope) to Talbots, Chico’s and Coldwater Creek. So where does that leave me? the urban mom who is not ready for oversized cardigans and linen pants?

I remember the first time I went out to a nightclub after I had Evan. I wore a flimsy black top with a plunging neckline. It was the kind of shirt that needed double sided tape to prevent a nip slip (read: lots of cleavage). In my prior years of wearing the shirt I felt confident, appropriate and sexy. But having birthed and breastfed a child, I felt silly wearing the shirt. Like I was saying, hey look, I am a “Mother I’d Like to Put Her Clothes Back On” (MILPHCBO).

I see these shirts with zebras on them and think, that’s kind of cool. But then I remember I just bought Evan a shirt with a zebra on it at Target and think, maybe a woman my age should not be wearing the same shirt as a 6-year-old.

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I know what you’re thinking, who cares, wear what you want to wear. But what if I were to show up at your party of 40 somethings wearing this little number from Forever 21?

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You can’t tell me your friends would not look at me and think I am a homeless Asian woman who went to the nearest Goodwill to purchase my outfit.

But then’s there this from Chico’s.

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Oh hell no! Right? This is what I am talking about people. Other than Nordstrom ($$$) and Nordstrom Rack (dig, dig, more digging for clothes). There is not a store that says, I am almost 40, a mother, but I have some dignity left.

I love J. Crew and the Gap for the essentials. I like Anthropologie once in a while but it can get a little too Little House on the Prairie for me. Club Monaco and White House Black Market are a bit sleepy and overpriced. I like Hot Mama, but they don’t always have the right size. I’d shop at Zara, but it has to be done online.

I.am.screwed.

That’s why I wear black yoga pants and flowy shirts. It’s safe and it’s easy. No one points at a mom wearing yoga pants whispering, “she shouldn’t be wearing those”. Unless of course, as my friend Sal would suggest, the camel toe was blinged/bedazzled. Then yes, I might get some looks of disgust.  Yoga pants have become the universal fashion exception. Females ages 2-80 can wear yoga pants without judgement. Unless you buy your 2 year old Lululemon yoga pants, then I might judge you .

So until someone tells me where to shop or what is appropriate for me to wear, I am going to continue to wear yoga gear to restaurants, PTA meetings, dinner parties, on dates and to yoga. And until Evan is gone away to college, I’ll keep the cleavage to a minimum. I think it’s ok to start showing it again around age 55.