#55Days

The 2020 Presidential Election is 55 days away- are you ready?

First off, are you registered to vote? Find online voter registration for your state (as of today, 40 states allow you to register to vote via internet. If you’re not registered and don’t see your state on this list, you can register through your local DMV).

If you’re not able to vote in person, request a mail-in absentee ballot ASAP. If you are able to vote in person, consider early voting– this is a good way to avoid lines on Election Day.

Before you go out to vote, you can find your polling location. If you need a ride to the polls, rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are offering free or discounted trips for voters in need. When you do get to the polls, make sure that you have your ID and any other required identification in order to vote.

Second, poll workers are desperately needed November 3rd.  If you’re like me  and looking for ways to serve your community, sign up to be a poll worker in your city. You will be paid for your training days and for the days you work.

Third, do your research and make the best, informed decision for you, your family and your community. Get a sample ballot. Before you head to the polls, get a sample ballot so you know in advance all the races you’ll be voting on. There are smaller races for local offices and propositions that could have an immediate impact on your life but don’t get as much news coverage. Fill it out in advance and show up at the polls prepared to make your decisions.

This time back in 2016, I was chasing after people in downtown Reno, registering them to vote. My friend, Monique, and I would be out during the drinking crawls with our clipboards in hand (and me with a shot or three in my stomach), getting the word out. This election, I’ve been avoiding others due to the pandemic but I still feel that civic responsibility to encourage others to vote. To put it blunt, our country is a mess right now and voting may be the only way we can make things better. It’s is our responsibility as Americans. When you vote, you are vocalizing what you need, want and believe in. You’re standing up and demanding to be counted. But this system only works if we participate in it. So, are you ready to vote?

#ALoveLetterToThePassingYear

Dear 2019… Better yet, the 2010s;

Donny Hathaway’s “A Song For You” has been on my daily Spotify rotation since I first heard it in the season finale of “Euphoria.” I listen to it right at this moment and think about not only the year I had, but the decade as well. I forget that I’m also saying goodbye to the 2010s, this moment of discovery and development in my life- I moved to New York City. I moved back to Reno. I moved to Austin. I went to London and San Francisco and Marfa. I was asked to speak at a conference– which became one of my proudest achievements. I volunteered and became an activist. I became a published writer and columnist. I finished college (page 11). I fell in love. I met some incredible people. I showed cancer who was boss. I learned how to drive. I gained and lost weight- and with this shift, I learned to appreciate my body (and turns out that I’m actually attractive. Tell that the 2009 version of me!). I went to Burning Man. I learned how to surf. I successfully navigated the job market and worked with some more-or-less interesting companies and employees- hell, I learned my worth as an employee and bravely negotiated my contract and asked for more money. I learned how to fix a bike. I was pierced and tattooed. I blogged.

I will be honest- I’m terrified of the next ten years. I’m terrified of this upcoming year. But if the last ten years taught me anything, I can do anything. The 2010s was an adventure. The 2020s will be an odyssey.

And you, 2019. What to say about you? What to say about you…? You almost broke me. Nearly three or four times. But you didn’t. Still here. You set me ablaze. You pushed me in hopefully the right direction. This year may be have been an incredibly tough one but you only made me more resilient and better. I will look back at this year and see strength and persistence.

Thanks for the memories, 2019. I’m singing this song to you. Andrea 

#RegretNothing

It has been a month and a handful of days since I moved to Texas. To say that it has been a thrilling adventure would be an overstatement. The transition has been hard, exhausting and a little painful. And I won’t lie- a part of me is a bit regretful of the decision.

I miss Reno. I miss being able to bike everywhere- right before I moved, I canceled my MoviePass subscription. (In July, they changed the model from one movie a day in the cinema to only three movies a month for the same price). I love going to the movies and would go almost every day. It also helped that I lived 10 minutes away from the theater, within walking distance. After I canceled MP and moved, the company offered me my original offer, the daily movie pass. I debated wheater or not to reinstate it. I decided not to. The nearest theater is just too far to bike to- did I mention that my bike is also bent out of shape and unrideable (thanks to the moving company I used). I’ve been getting various emails about reactivating MoviePass with this new deal and it’s those emails that are triggering and get me thinking about Reno, causing me to burst into tears (it’s also the reason I’ve been avoiding social media. I can’t deal with all my Nevada friends’ posts. I miss you all like crazy).

Southern weather is awful (note my hair and the severe breakouts on my face). My body is craving the cold and an authentic autumn with changing leaves. The job is meh. The work is meh and I feel like I can be doing so much more with my position. I feel like the odd one out in my office- the uncool, quiet kid at school, eating her PB and J sandwiches alone at lunch. I’m having a hard time making friends, in general (I miss living in a place where everyone really did know your name). I miss my old apartment (I miss the cost of rent at my old apartment). I now realize that I was looking at Austin with rose-colored glasses on, in a vacation-mode glow, seeing things greener on the Southern side while the Western lawn was just fine.

I’m a plant. You’re a plant. We’re all plants- and we grow where we’re watered.

I’m trying to get over this feeling of regret, though. I’m trying the best I can with what I have, especially at work. I’m applying for a second job so I can start saving money to buy a car (and where I’ll hopefully make friends). I’m doing a lot of volunteer work (yay for the Texas Book Festival this weekend!). I’m remembering to be kind and forgiving to myself- I found a therapist and started sessions last week (hi, Margaret!). Each day, I wake up and tell myself that I did a brave thing, moving across the country, and that I’m doing a brave thing for getting through the day with a smile. Regrets and mistakes happen but I am human. Humans are supposed to fuck up and that’s okay. You’re okay. Oh- and I finally get a bedroom set so I won’t be sleeping on the floor on a yoga mat anymore (#winning). I’m going to stick this out and try to make the best out of things- the grass may be greener on the other side but it’s also greener where you water it. And I have a watering can.

How do you deal with regret, dear reader?

#BuildingOne

One of the things that I love the most about my job is the community. Believe it or not, the active kink world is a pretty small group- especially out here in Northern Nevada (everyone knows everyone in Reno). I’ve been going to different events around town, talking about taboo subjects like BDSM (i.e. bondage, rope) and sexual health (STIs, condom usage, using poorly made adult toys, etc.). It gives me great joy, not only educating people but making new friends and building connections. It wasn’t until I starting doing this when I realized that I was starved for such kinship. That connection of community.

I have a lot of friends and I know a ton of people but lately, I’ve been craving more. I need that sense of community in my life. I miss feeling like I’m a part of something BIGGER. Perhaps it’s because I stepped away from politics and volunteering. Maybe I’m finally morphing into my inner curmudgeon/ hermit (I think I just need to get out of my head). Communities provide support to those who are impacted by daily stress, struggles and chaos of modern life- it offers several valuable gifts that combine to improve our emotional state, relationships and quality of life. Human beings are meant to be social and find some sort of meaning within their communities. So, why is it difficult to find your tribe?

Making (and keeping) friends when you’re an adult is incredibly difficult. I’ve lost plenty over the last several years. They have moved. They have refocused their lives, leaning in towards their jobs, partners, children. We’ve had falling outs. Hey, that’s okay. I’ve done my fair share of pushing people away and not giving them my full commitment (and for that, I’m truly sorry). My best friend and I recently compared lists of what we want in a future partner. We gushed over each other’s lists but then asked ourselves, we expect all these qualities in a partner. But do we have these qualities ourselves? I ask you, dear reader, if you were to make a list of the top ten qualities you want in a friend, would you say that you own those same qualities? Are you kind? Are you supportive? Are you being the friend you want to be friends with?

Without your community, you’re irrelevant (I’m feeling this heavily). Without your community, you’re invisible. Without your community, you’re ignorant. Political, racial, arts, work, blogging and even the ones online (Reddit totally counts!)- COMMUNITIES! Explore all of those aforementioned options and don’t be afraid to say ‘hi’ and be open. We all feel the need to belong and we all are looking for that connection. Your community is looking for you and your gifts.

Now, excuse me… I have a MeetUp group to check out and a gallery to visit… Who is a part of your community, dear reader? What are you doing to build it up?

Today is also International Women’s Day and we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. Shout out to those women who influence others positively, those who challenge stereotypes and bias and to those who continue to progressively press forward to a better future. To quote Former First Lady Michelle Obama, “As women we must stand up for ourselves, for each other and for justice for all.” Go out today and support your community of sisters!

#CrimesOfDisrespect

At a Reno Columbus Day protest, October 10, 2016

On the evening on October 10th, several people were in the middle of a peaceful protest in downtown Reno rallying against the Columbus Day holiday when a white truck rammed through the crowd, injuring five people. Some of the protesters were from the American Indian Movement of Northern Nevada, protesting to abolish Columbus Day and to bring awareness to hate against indigenous people. Witnesses reported seeing  the truck  multiple times in the area before the incident, taunting protesters. Protesters stood under the Reno Arch on Virginia Street when they were hit. Three warrants for arrest have been issued and several people, as well as multiple news outlets are calling this incident a hate crime.

Reports about the incident are saying the protesters, with no protest permit, were standing in the crosswalk blocking traffic at the Reno arch. The driver stopped in front of the protest when several of the protesters approached the truck. There was a confrontation (protesters were seen hitting the car) between the truck’s driver, passenger and the protesters, and then, the driver drove through the crowd before fleeing the scene. The truck pulled an elderly woman to the ground while others fled on foot. The driver stopped several blocks away and called police to provide his account of the events.

I don’t know exactly what happened on Monday night. I’ve seen snipets of videos and heard things through the grapevine. It isn’t illegal to protest in Nevada. Underneath the Reno Arch is a crosswalk, where plenty of people- tourists, protesters and others- stop to take pictures and wave signs. According to the NV Drivers’ Handbook, Nevada law states that pedestrians have the right of way no matter what. Attacking someone’s car is wrong, however.  In some of the videos I watch, some protesters are heard threatening to remove the driver and beat him.

I’m not siding with anyone because I think both parties are at fault. Was this incident considered a hate crime? I don’t know. Perhaps. What I do know is that this entire incident is a disrespect crime, for all of reasons aforementioned. We all need to respect each other’s opinions- we may not agree with them but to act out in violence towards another person who we disagree with is despicable.

Take care of one another, dear readers, and remember that respect is the greatest gift you can give someone.

 

#KidCudi, #LocalPolitics + #MentalHealth

Kid Cudi (aka Scott Mescudi)

The temperature in Reno dropped quickly in the beginning of the week. Snow dusted the mountains and pulled my winter coat from my closet a few weeks earlier than I would have liked to. Saturday night, as I walked across a parking lot, I overheard two men talking to each other, saying that the local shelter’s overflow space was already full. These men had to sleep outside. Saturday night, the temperature was in the 40s. It was lower on Sunday. Earlier in the week,  City of Reno officials removed over 65 benches from the former downtown bus station-turned-park in order to stop area homeless from sleeping and loitering in the lot. They did so without a public hearing, The city spokesperson, Mike Brown, said, “The city at large had complained enough that it became a nuisance.”

I spent several months volunteering at the Record Street shelter and I met some great people who unfortunately were living on the streets. In my department, I helped people get back on their feet. Many of them had mental health issues that they were receiving treatment for. I think back to those individuals and the ones who aren’t getting help, why they aren’t getting the help they need. I know first hand that treatment is expensive. It costs me more to see my therapist than my OB-GYN. I’m fortunate that my insurance pays for my sessions but that wasn’t always the case. One out of four American adults have or will experience mental health issues (depression, bipolar, anxiety, a personality disorder, grief trauma, PTSD etc.). Out of that 25%, less than 1 in 3 adults receives treatment services despite the 70% of individuals with mental illness seeing improvement in their symptoms and quality of life after participating in some form of treatment. The number one reason for not getting treatment: cost.

Something I really appreciate about the first presidential debate last week was how Hillary brought up mental health. That topic is always on my mind and when I watch Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump battle it out behind their podiums, I took Hillary’s words to heart. Our country need focus on mental health- treatments and affordability. Many untreated mental health issues lead to an increased likelihood of substance abuse, child abuse and other domestic problems.  The financial ripple effect is much greater than the loss of individual productivity, resulting in more services being consumed in other programs.

Posted on Cudi's Facebook page, October 5th

Posted on Cudi’s Facebook page, October 4th

But there is still the stigma… Kid Cudi announced on this Facebook page that he was going to get treatment for his depression. In the letter to his fans, he wrote that he was ashamed. He apologized for feeling like shit. His fans poured love and admiration in the comment section, applauding his treatment plan and his courage.

I have written about reducing the stigma plenty of times. I’m a big supporter of mental health awareness, therapy, medication, roller derby (hey- you need to punch it out sometimes). But we need to talk about more often. Shout it from the rooftops. No longer be ashamed of being vulnerable (example: me. After a crappy summer, I went on an antidepressant a couple of weeks ago. Now- along with therapy, I’m feeling pretty good). We no longer need to be criticize for having it. We need to stop using the word, crazy, to describe someone. Every one has tough times. We need to support one another, like Cudi’s fans did for him.

One more thing, dear reader… Go volunteer at your local shelter. They need your help this winter.

Take care of yourself.