#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?

#ThisAndThat

The last couple of weeks have been a busy blur. I’ve taken on a couple of freelance projects as well as jetting across the country for various events (happy 60th birthday to my dad!). And did you know that Christmas is is only three weeks away? Whew. The holiday season is always a hectic time for me and it’s usually the time of year when I step away from my computer and don’t blog as much. I hop on to WordPress every so often whenever I hear or read about something interesting, adding notes to a topic that I will eventually write about. These notes collect up- while they’re often not topics I want to dedicate an entire post to, they are issues that I feel are important and that I want to discuss. Take the story of Grace Millane…

Millane was murdered last year in New Zealand after she met her killer on a dating app. Millane was allegedly killed during a sex act, bondage specifically. A New Zealand court recently convicted her murderer. However, he insisted it was an accident which sparked outrage from the public. Many people tried to shame her for using dating apps like Tinder. And for traveling on her own (um, you can get hit by a car crossing the street and yet, you still leave your house everyday). Others shamed her for love of kinky sex.

I don’t consider myself to be an expert in all things kink. I did some marketing work for a website that sells sex toys and educates the public about sex and sexuality. But I did learn a few things from that business about BDSM. The number one rule of pleasure play is consent. Consent obviously wasn’t there for Millane and that’s disheartening. So much people claim to be experience, life-long kinksters and and don’t have the permission to perform acts on others. That needs to stop. No matter who you and your partner are, how experienced you are, how dangerous (or not) the act is, consent is required.

THIS!

Another thing that’s been on my mind is the upcoming election, specifically the racial politics of it. During my few moments of free time, I like to fall down these internet rabbit holes. My definition of a weekday evening well spent is digging through Wikipedia entries, Reddit archives and other corners of the web. I fell down one of these holes after watching the “This is America” video yet again (the best music video of last year). Like many, I couldn’t couldn’t get the imagery out of my head. I thought it was brilliant yet brutal,  something that I believe every American  needs to see.

While looking up the messaging of the video, I came across a song by Joyner Lucas- “I’m Not Racist.” In the video, a White man wearing a Make America Great Again hat and a Black man with braids spit lines to each other, calling out different stereotypes about each other’s race: Black people are lazy. White people are racist. Black people are in gangs, living off of the system. White people are stupid, believing everything that they see on Fox News. The song is exhausting in so many ways- but I can’t stop listening to it.

CNN has called Lucas’s video, “the brutal race conversation no one wants to have.” I think how you interpret the song says more about you than the actual song does but man, we need to start talking about the deeper issues. Talking about race is always awkward. So I’ve been thinking about how can we start talking about it in a more positive light. How can we get past the stereotypes that we’re fed every day? How do we start getting comfortable with the uncomfortable topics? An how does this start with me? What am I doing to educate myself of both sides of the political- and racial- isle?

What’s been on your mind, dear reader? What do you want to talk about?

#RootingForWho

I give up…

Politics these days… I wasn’t impressed with January’s Women’s March. The entire event felt flat to me. I watched President Trump’s State of the Union last Tuesday and felt numb to it (despite all the vodka I drank while watching). Last month, there were 18 school shootings. I heard that news and shrugged my shoulders. What’s wrong, Andrea?  I’m usually a news junkee. I get fired up whenever I hear or read about injustices. But over these last couple of weeks, the world has left me feeling defeated- and I don’t know how to fix that. The numbness. Apathy. Persistent anxiety. Intrusive thoughts. Grief…

These days crush spirits. My and my friends are trying the best we can to fight for the good but I’m not seeing results, especially in the corner of my world. It’s difficult to be empathetic, compassionate and patient when the world isn’t. Part of me wants NOT to care about the state of the world- it would make my life easier. I wouldn’t care that a Cheeto was president. I’d skip over the #MeToo headlines. I’d hear “all lives matter” and go back to thinking about what I’ll have for dinner. Frankly, I think that’s how most people live their lives. For the longest time, I would judge people who didn’t stand or speak up. Now I understand why they didn’t and why they continue not to do so.

In moments like these, I would usually write something like take a step back and refocus your energy on something positive. Go out into the community and do some good. But this time, refocusing my energy is taking up too much energy. What I’m telling myself that this time is you can wallow in the funk. The world is messy. It is divided. It’s negative. Disappointing. Frustrating. Full of fear. The world is cruel. You’re allowed to weep for it. You’re allowed to mourn parts of it. You can be sad and feel defeated.

I don’t want to write that you can cry for the world as long as you pick yourself up after the last tear falls. Sometimes the tears won’t end- we will always have corrupt politicians. There will always been heartaches, misery and passing… But I don’t want to end this entry on a Debbie Downer note so I will write this: if you’re feeling like me about the state of the world- hang in there. Dear reader, hang in there.

#DACA

Earlier today, President Trump announced his plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that allows for thousands of young undocumented immigrants to remain in the country.

DACA was formed through an executive order by President Obama back in 2012. It allows certain people (the Dreamers) who came to the United States illegally as minors to be protected from immediate deportation. Recipients are able to request “consideration of deferred action” for a period of two years (which is then subject to renewal). Congress now has up to six months to find a legislative alternative after it was announced that new applications will no longer be accepted. For those currently in the program, their legal status and other DACA related permits (i.e. work permits) will begin expiring in March 2018.

Dreamers are able to request DACA status if 1) they were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012; 2) they came to the State before turning sixteen; and 3) have continuously lived in the country since 2007. Dreamers must also have a high school diploma or their GED, been honorably discharged from the military or still be in school.

There are an estimated 800,000 Dreamers in the United States. Most Dreamers are from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras; with the largest numbers living in California, Texas, Florida and New York. They currently range in age from 15 to 36 years of age, according to the White House.

With this new executive order, Dreamers will all lose their status by March 2020. As their statuses lapse, they could be deported and sent back to countries of birth many have no familiarity with. Trump has referred to DACA as “illegal amnesty,” arguing that those in the country illegally are lawbreakers who hurt native Americans by taking their jobs and increasing crime.

We know better.

Dreamers are our friends and loved ones. They are leaders in our communities. They work hard. They’re good people. They deserve to be here- after all, that’s what their parents wanted for them. A better life- and Dreamers deserve to live such lives here in the United States.

I encourage you, dear reader, to contact your senator and demand that they fight for Dreamers. On the local level, discover if your city is a Safe Haven for Dreamers and find ways to help (hit the streets and start volunteering!). Together, we stand with DACA and will show the world that we are a nation who comes together instead of being forced apart.