Bidet to You, Too!

So, I wrote this whole post about how I’m almost done with my first course at Harvard, and I think I’m getting an A. I am so excited, proud and just so darn yay-ing over here, that the post was boring. I can hardly believe it’s me when I think about it too much. Bryon keeps telling me it’s obvious. I’m like, “umm, is it?”

 

Well, the post wasn’t boring to me. But, nonetheless. I’m sad for the class to be over, and a bit nervous for Fall semester because I’ll have two classes, and I don’t think I can take my first professor again. She conflicts with another class I have to take, of which there is only one offering. She is the most patient, energetic, kind and knowledgeable person I’ve met in a long time. I had hesitations going into this, and I’m glad I took the risk. The decision was made on a whim one day, but I’m so glad that I didn’t back out.

Not the greatest cat pic of the week, but I think it speaks to the gist of the week…Rachel’s school stuff spread all over the bed, while I work, Bear ignoring it and trying to get a treat, Homer watching in the background (judgmentally).

Not the greatest cat pic of the week, but I think it speaks to the gist of the week…Rachel’s school stuff spread all over the bed, while I work, Bear ignoring it and trying to get a treat, Homer watching in the background (judgmentally).

 

The only good thing about this semester ending, is that you get to be rid of that one student in every class that annoys you. The one who seems to have stumbled their way into the course, but isn’t sure how they got there. Somehow, they manage to continuously show up, driving everyone else crazy with questions totally out of left field, usually syllabus-related, in the middle of lectures. Because it’s an online course, I know I was particularly grateful that, by week four she’d figured out how to use the mute/unmute button when talk. It was a blessing to us all, because someone in her household was fond of using the blender, far more often than is normal for a three-hour period.

 

I’m sure she’s a lovely person in her everyday life. I’m just not sure I’ll miss her in this environment. It’s funny how different environments color your perception of people, isn’t it? Honestly, my favorite part about the online component of this class, is that this particular person has her camera set up in her dining room, and she has all her papers, and miscellaneous books (of which there aren’t any required for this course) organized in piles all over her dining room table, and chairs. So, every time someone talks, or the professor talks, she gets up (from her rocking chair!) walks over to the table, and digs through papers, finds something (I have no idea what!) and is satisfied. Hey, whatever works though, right? To be a fly in her mind, for just a few minutes would be ever-so-fascinating. Truthfully, to be a fly in anyone’s mind would be fascinating.

 

Or…scary. Flies are always getting smacked.

 

Look at me, I said I wasn’t going to keep writing about my class, and then I went and did it again for another full page. Jeesh, I must need to get some of it out! There. I did. When it’s all over with, I’ll give you all the full low-down, and my grade (hopefully, an A, fingers crossed).


See that above….that’s the back to business line!


What I thought about telling you about instead, today, was that we made a weird investment a few weeks ago.

 

Drumroll.

 

A bidet attachment! Bet you didn’t see that coming!  

 

I think it was the third or fourth day after my surgery, and I was whimpering and crying, in pure agony and exhaustion. Bryon didn’t know what to do. When I’m in pure pain, he’s probably at his most adorable, because he wants to help, so badly, but simply can’t. He looks like how I imagine Henny Penny must look, when the sky is falling. He gets a look in his eyes that just screams, “I’ll do ANYTHING! Just tell me!”

 

If that’s not love, I don’t know what is. I fall more in love with him every day, but on those days, it’s double so. He reminds me that he’s always going to be there when it’s tough; but not just there, there. His whole heart is breaking with mine. It’s truly something to have that in your corner, in a marriage.

 

So, as I’m whimpering in the bathroom, because it’s so hard to go to the bathroom with your foot up, and to wipe effectively; I know, it’s a lot to imagine, but bear with me; he says,

“I know I can’t take your pain, but what can I do. I’ll do anything.”

 

Swoon ladies, he’s mine.

 

I feel like this is getting a little too sappy with love-bug-bites about my husband. So, how about I tell you something less than charming about him to even it out? He has to sleep with a massive two-piece mouth-guard, specially fitted to his mouth from the doctor, to keep his jaw in-line to help keep him from snoring. Note that I said help, not keep him from snoring. He still snores. He also uses the snore strips, and lots of swift kicks in the shin from his wife. Either way, it’s not super sexy.

 

I said, “You know what I want? I want a bidet. It’s too hard to wipe right now and get everything.” Gross, I know. It’s not romantic, but when you have been together this long, and he’s sitting on the floor, holding my leg on his shoulder while I poop, the romance is that he’s holding my leg while I poop.

 

Oh! Didn’t I mention, because the stool kind of hurt my ankle, when he could, he’d rush into the bathroom, and hold my foot on his shoulder, regardless of what number I was doing. True love, folks. True love. Devotion, and true love. He’d sit there, even in the middle of the night, as he fell asleep against the wall, while I went to the bathroom, with my leg propped on his shoulder.

 

So, off he went to Home Depot to find a bidet attachment for our toilet. AND, a new toilet seat! When we moved into our house, our master bathroom (which is hideous!) had this weird toilet seat that was about 7/8 the size of the toilet, and slightly crooked. In my bathroom meltdown scene, I also asked for an appropriately-sized, non-crooked toilet seat.

I told you our bathroom was UGLY. This is the entire thing, too. A stall shower, with lemon-yellow tile. The best part is that someone actively chose this, RECENTLY! the tiles are in the basement. The man who owns this house is a single dude, who has no woman to stop him from making bad decisions, clearly. He didn’t replace things like the fixtures and the lighting, which I didn’t take photos of, but imagine 1965, and so old the aren’t even rated for ground fault. Oh, and the best part of the whole bathroom is that there was ONE towel hanger when we moved in. ONE. So, we had to hang a second one, right below it, so we could both have towels to shower with, hence the towel, hanging nearly to the floor, covering the toilet paper dispenser. I can’t reach the one that is above it, because it’s almost the height of the ceiling! This is the weirdest master bathroom that I’ve ever lived in, for sure!  P.S. I know that towel next to my husband’s sink looks dirty. It’s not. I swear. It’s stained. I used it to wipe of a charcoal mask…bad Rachel.  P.P.S. OH! I almost forgot, I am pretty sure the owner must be a smoker, but ONLY smoked in the bedroom, because no matter how many times we wash the walls, the bathroom walls “bleed.” it’s the only way I can describe it. An orange-ish, reddish dripping ick is always dripping down the walls. I’d say our house is haunted, but it’s only the bathroom, and it looks more like filth than anything else. It’s so gross. It seems like it’s something pulled from the paint, or under-layers of paint, when activated by steam, and it’s like old nicotine. It’s…just…gross. We’ve given up cleaning it up more than once a month or so, because it’s just impossible to keep up with!

I told you our bathroom was UGLY. This is the entire thing, too. A stall shower, with lemon-yellow tile. The best part is that someone actively chose this, RECENTLY! the tiles are in the basement. The man who owns this house is a single dude, who has no woman to stop him from making bad decisions, clearly. He didn’t replace things like the fixtures and the lighting, which I didn’t take photos of, but imagine 1965, and so old the aren’t even rated for ground fault. Oh, and the best part of the whole bathroom is that there was ONE towel hanger when we moved in. ONE. So, we had to hang a second one, right below it, so we could both have towels to shower with, hence the towel, hanging nearly to the floor, covering the toilet paper dispenser. I can’t reach the one that is above it, because it’s almost the height of the ceiling! This is the weirdest master bathroom that I’ve ever lived in, for sure!

P.S. I know that towel next to my husband’s sink looks dirty. It’s not. I swear. It’s stained. I used it to wipe of a charcoal mask…bad Rachel.

P.P.S. OH! I almost forgot, I am pretty sure the owner must be a smoker, but ONLY smoked in the bedroom, because no matter how many times we wash the walls, the bathroom walls “bleed.” it’s the only way I can describe it. An orange-ish, reddish dripping ick is always dripping down the walls. I’d say our house is haunted, but it’s only the bathroom, and it looks more like filth than anything else. It’s so gross. It seems like it’s something pulled from the paint, or under-layers of paint, when activated by steam, and it’s like old nicotine. It’s…just…gross. We’ve given up cleaning it up more than once a month or so, because it’s just impossible to keep up with!

 

Mr. Fix-It, fixed it. It has been more glorious than I can even imagine to sit on an appropriately-sized toilet seat. You sort of take those things for granted when they aren’t there!

 

But the bidet! I had read about these things, or seen them advertised, and thought that they seemed kind of neat, but not given them much thought until I was having trouble wiping. Yep, letting it all hang out, details-wise.

Nice and compact….hardly even notice it, and easy to reach, easy to use, and just plain awesome.

Nice and compact….hardly even notice it, and easy to reach, easy to use, and just plain awesome.

 

Oh, my Triscuits and Vegan Cheese! You’ve got to try this out!

I’m living in the south, once again - and once again, not by choice - thought I’d try out being colorful. Go get one. They are amazing! Ours pulls water right from the tank, so the water is cold, which let’s call “refreshing.” But, it has a few settings: some kind of misty shower setting and a more direct spray. You can also adjust the water pressure. Although, even at its fullest pressure, you aren’t going to be spitting it out of your mouth. Get it? It’s quite snazzy for something that went on in under an hour.

 

We learned pretty quickly that toilet paper isn’t enough to dry one’s tushie of the copious amounts of water that a bidet gets on your bootie. And, one of the great reasons to get one is to save a bit of toilet paper. I suggest investing in handful of towels that are expressly for bidet use. The fun part is choosing fun towel patterns that you know will be just for your butt. I found some really absorbent ones on Amazon that were inexpensive. And, they had pretty patterns, likely put on with super-toxic thread, or something terrible.  

The link for the product is here…they are awesome:  Poopie-Butt Towels

The link for the product is here…they are awesome: Poopie-Butt Towels

Since you’ll be drying, in theory, a clean behind, these should remain clean, and only have to be washed when you wash your towels, not creating a hindrance of laundry. It feels weird to share bidet towels, so Bryon and I each have our own. Collin’s on his own with his own bidet-less bathroom; but, since his bathroom looks like the Sunoco station when no one is on cleaning duty, I don’t feel one bit badly about that.

Towels on hooks for Bryon, Rachel and none for little Collin…oh well. if he’s dying to use it, he can. But, he never asks. The one time he did, we practically had to mop the bathroom afterward, as he sprayed the entire room. Not sure how little French kids get the hang of it. Didn’t Mark Twain say something about how bright the kids in France were, that even the little ones could speak French? Something like that is to be said about the bidet then too :)

Towels on hooks for Bryon, Rachel and none for little Collin…oh well. if he’s dying to use it, he can. But, he never asks. The one time he did, we practically had to mop the bathroom afterward, as he sprayed the entire room. Not sure how little French kids get the hang of it. Didn’t Mark Twain say something about how bright the kids in France were, that even the little ones could speak French? Something like that is to be said about the bidet then too :)

 

I’m not going to lie, we’ve each had an incident where we were sure we were all clean and shiny and when we went to pat dry…whoops! Needed to replace the towel. I’m nothing if not honest with you! And, we all know, especially my chronic pain warriors, that if we are on opiates for any length of time, that this thing is going to be a wondrously amazing gift! And…everybody poops! That’s why there are spare towels and detergent in this world. It all works out, “in the end.” Ba-dum-bum!

Because we rent, we obviously don’t put a lot of, or any, permanent, changes into a home, so we couldn’t do anything super spiffy. But, this works perfectly, and we get to take it with us when we leave! We take our shower heads with us too! Something about rentals screams shitty shower heads! Why? Why wouldn’t you put a decent shower head in a house? The kind that you can take down and do a decent spray and wash with? I will never understand this. The longer we are in, the more I look forward to our forever home…which I know is still many years out. Still, the list of things I imagine for it is expanding by the mile! Now, Bidet is added to that list..even if it’s tank attached.

One Million Moms - and Television

I still spend a lot of time working out. Okay, when it’s a good week. Sometimes, I spent a lot of time on the couch. It’s definitely not like the “old days,” where I’d work out to the point of death, or stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Vin Diesel and stare him down for the Smith Machine, because he was taking too fucking long with his sets. But, I still work out, a lot. So, I like to have a variety of stuff to watch on the ol’ iPad machine. (Couch binging requires the same thing, by the way! Don’t judge)

 

This can pose a problem. When you have hours to kill, binging takes on an entirely new meaning. Sometimes a drama will do. Sometimes, a movie. Sometimes, you want a comedy. And, don’t get me started about how everything is shot in dark, moody lighting with dramas these days. You can’t fucking SEE anything, especially with an iPad. It’s so frustrating on treadmill. I’ve watched entire seasons of shows, not even sure who’s in them, because I watched it at the gym. Yes, I know that rant made me sound at least a million years old. But, would it kill a director to turn on light?!

 

Anyway, one of the main sources I use to select good, new shows for my “to watch” list, especially comedies, is One Million Moms (OMM).

 

Hear me out, because I realize how insane this sounds considering who I am: bleeding heart atheist liberal.

 

If you are unfamiliar with One Million Moms, they are famous for two things:

 

1.     Being famously incapable of counting to one million

2.     Being really good at getting offended about everything

 

So, it stands to reason that if they dislike something, calling it morally corrupt, or damaging to our children…..

 


 

…then, it might have a shot at being pretty funny. The other day, I found a comedy I’d have skipped over: Single Parents, for example. It’s your basic laugh-track, predictable comedy, but it’s got some good jokes; and it doesn’t require tons of concentration, which is perfect for the gym. I also have been enjoying A Million Little Things, but it’s a little heavy on the whole suicide angle, for someone with severe depression, sometimes. Plus, it’s not exactly always peppy gym material, so I take it in metered doses, despite how much OMM hates it because it has a gay pre-teen.

 

Other little-known fact about me: I skip most new shows because I can’t stand the heartbreak of one-season shows. Just as I get committed, and willing to settle in, they get cancelled. It’s devastating. There was a show, a few years ago, with Matthew Perry, where he was in some grief group, that I was just getting into, and BAM! Cancelled. Damn. I’m still not over it. He was making some real break-throughs. Emotional growth, quashed!

 

I like watching my shows over and over again. This is a trait that Bryon adores (we need a sarcasm font, and we need it now!). For example, he thinks it’s plumb adorable that I consider the characters of The Office my close personal friends…not the cast, the characters. I feel I’m not alone in this. Don’t others watch the same “comfort” shows, over and over (Friends; The Golden Girls; The Office; and new to the repertoire, Brooklyn 99 – welcome)?  

 

Anyway, One Million Moms didn’t like Single Parents, and asked Capital One to pull their commercials from the show because….wait for it…a parent hugged their child while cussing. This is early prime time, so I can’t imagine the cuss was that bad. In fact, I watched for it, and didn’t even notice it, so it must’ve been something as benign as “crap.” Well, fuck me. What a load of shit on a cracker.

 

They also strongly dislike American Housewife, a show I enjoy about 75% of the time, for gasp, the same reasons they have issue with it. I think there’s a line between being funny, and being a shitty mom. So. Much. Yelling. But I also get the idea that it’s my thing to not be into that joke because I’m not a fan of the yelling because of my personal hang-ups. Others may think it’s a hilarious take on the situation. That’s the beauty of art and entertainment. Don’t like it, don’t watch it.

 

I bought art for my home that I liked, not that someone else forced me to like, or that was censored. A-R-T. People don’t often think of sit-coms, or even the one-hour drama as art, but it is. Media is a representation of who we are as a people. It represents the very society in which we live, at a foundational core. Censorship of media is censorship at its very basic level. So, OMM, thanks for helping me ignore your attempt at creating your very own banned books list.

 

I refuse to subscribe to their page, for fear of what other pages I’ll be linked to, so I just hit them up once a month or so. I also read Faithwire, and several other crazy-pants right-wing sites like Breitbart. For good measure, I read Huffpo and Mother Jones with my NYT. Still, One Million Moms is the only place to get really good recommendations about what to watch that isn’t all, “watch this revival of Jesus Christ Superstar,” or “there’s a weird production of Waiting for Godot on PBS tonight!” I’ll take my anti-recommendations any day.

 

P.S. You should read what they think of some show called Lucifer. Their pearls and panties may never come unknotted.

LuLaRoe - LuLa NO!

WARNING: I WAS BUSY THIS WEEK…THIS RANT HAS NOT BEEN PROOFREAD -- TAKE IT AS IS I’M LAZY!

If you are a woman in your thirties, or a mom of littles, you’ve heard of LuLaRoe. Or, you’ve heard of leggings, which means you’ve heard of LuLa Roe. It’s the leggings company that’s taken the mommy-world by storm. It’s the brilliant MLM brainchild of marketing genius, DeAnne Stidham, who saw a place to strike where the iron was hot, and knew how to manipulate the minds of female shoppers. I have to give credit where credit is due to her, she knows mom shoppers, and women shoppers. We fall for “exclusive,” and we all want to be “in” on the same thing our friends are, so she perfectly honed and targeted her LLR marketing right for our market, skipping right over retailers and rakes in the profits by using a pyramid. Shudder. But, LLR is a disaster, just like any other MLM “business,” and it’s going to crash and burn, just like any other MLM, not right now, but eventually. And, worse, it’s manipulative sales tactics are a disaster and the worst of mean-girl tactics.

There’s no end to the amount of YouTube videos of women warning you off of becoming a LLR rep, or complaining about quality, but there’s also no end to the amount of videos saying, but wait, it’s great, of course. But, trying to write this, I can’t tell you how many videos I watched, of women begging you not to become a rep, not to drink the Kool-Aid, or not to even buy a pair of leggings, not to waste your money. I beg you not to do the same. It’s a disaster of a company, and a disaster of an investment in your future, if you are considering become a consultant. But the $5K in the bank.

MLM Isn’t a Business

Okay, I have to start here. Most people, namely women, who get involved with something like LLR, start calling themselves small business owners, and get really defensive about that point. Don’t get me wrong, at first you are probably bringing money into your home budget, and you are supplementing your family’s income, which is great. There’s nothing like posting a pic of your new laptop, or bragging that LLR helped pay for it, or a pic of a new pair of shoes that you couldn’t have afforded last month, but thanks to LLR, you didn’t have to put it on credit. And furthermore, you’re probably working really hard, which is something not to be taken lightly; all told, you should take pride in your work. But, when you walk around telling people you operate a small business, or worse, own one, you are both lying to yourself and others. Additionally, you are literally insulting women who do own small businesses.

Let’s take that point apart for a minute with LLR as an example of all MLMs. Imagine you are a woman who owns a retail clothing store, or is even a designer for her own clothing line. As a LLR rep, do you have any design input for the line? Do you even choose your own stock to carry? Do you control inventory among local reps? Do you control which sales consultants are concentrated in your local area, or are distributed amongst your community, as to avoid over-penetration of the market? Do you work directly with the corporate center? Do you have control over your payment system, or how to control the money from your customers? Do you control training and management of your product? Do you have employees and control down-line training for their future development? Or, in fact are you trained in everything, right down to how you should portray the product, and the corporate attitude? As a LLR rep, none of these things are true. Because owning your own business means all of that falls to you, not someone else. In fact, something like LLR means you are shilling someone else’s product, and you are taking some of the profit.

Don’t get me wrong, LLR is no different than Pampered Chef, Jamberry, Younique, Young Living, DoTerra, or any of the Johnny-Come-Lately must-have products among the middle-aged mom-set that gloss through a military neighborhood, or playgroup park party. A few years ago, every wife was toting around Thirty-One bags, now no one is. In a few years, there won’t be a wife caught dead in LLR pants. And, I’ve not seen anyone wearing Jamberry stickers in about a year, when six months ago, the “accent” nail, striped or with a college logo was all the rage. It all passes.

All of the MLMs all give you a party line that sounds amazing, with a “unique,” product that you can’t get anywhere else, except that you can. I can buy mascara, pants and essential oil at the store, and online. And, no matter how many times your MLM corporate site tells you that your product is not available in stores because it’s more special-er (ha!), it’s not, it’s just a profit-driven line, used to convince you that you’ll rake it in by selling it for them, because their product is more special-er than what you can find out “there.” Some reps convince themselves that they just need the product themselves, so they’ll rep only for their own personal access to the product, which is even more insane. In fact, the true success rate of any MLM salesperson is less than ½ of 1%. Everyone else ultimately falls away, or loses money.

More accurately, less than ½ of 1% makes it to the “pinnacle” level of whatever your pyramid (yeah, they all hate being called that) has chosen to call their top success level. That’s worse than the regular economy with the 1%’ers. Most people lose money, and lots of it, trying to get there, by spending thousands of dollars on shipping, supplies, and the cost of unsold stock, trying to expand their business outside the initial circle of friends that they’ve initially taken advantage of, before admitting defeat. If you’re lucky, you take the few thousand dollars you made in the first 3-6 months and you either bank it or buy something great, then walk away, lucky. But, LLR has one of the largest buy-ins of any MLM on the market, between $5-6K, making recouping that investment a hole that’s nearly impossible to dig out of for many, and with each now box of stock that comes, the hole gets deeper. And, as you will see, LLR doesn’t exactly set you up for success.

LuLaRoe’s Corporate “Attitude”

It’s not unusual for a large cooperation to have a party-line that includes a positive attitude about both the corporation and the products. But, there is a difference between a positive attitude and Stockholm Syndrome. If you’ve ever been to an online party for LLR, you know that you’ll be watching a consultant hold up the merchandise, item-by-item, proclaiming how much they love it. It’s their favorite print ever, and they think it’s ah-may-zing. They wish they could buy it. If they could afford it, they’d buy it all. Or, they set up a time and date to unleash their stock of inventory through pictures, that are all, equally, amazing, that they’ve set teasers for, all day, and the minute, and I do mean, the minute, that they’ve been opened up for sale, the only way you can “buy,” is by commenting “sold,” and indicating the item number. It’s like a race, starting at the “on-sale” time. It’s like racing a pack of wolves for the last piece of fresh meat, and it’s meant to feel that way, exclusive and scarce.

And, if you watch more than one video, regarding stock and inventory, all of the consultants say the same things. For example, when they get their new stock boxes, they repeat the line, “it’s just like Christmas morning!” They say this because they have no control over what inventory they are sent from corporate. LLR sends them whatever they want to, likely based on what they need to sell, not based on what the reps want or need. This leaves reps the burden of unloading hideous, or burdensome stock, like the slow-moving men’s and children’s lines, and boxes with only a few pairs of leggings, the bread-and-butter of the LLR business. And, it’s no secret that a draw to LLR is the plus-size line, and that they offer a T&C (tall and curvy) line of leggings, which are often scarce in the rep’s boxes, or only in patterns that the reps are forced to “love” in their online parties, but are stuck with, because a customer doesn’t have to love them back.

The corporate attitude isn’t just about positivity all the time though, it’s about the brilliant marketing genius of its founder, DeAnne Stidham. Stidham is listed on her company’s page as a former working mother who wanted clothes that reflected her faith. With seven children, the writing is on the wall which faith that is, but with a little digging, it’s clearer: Mormon. In other words, she wanted modest clothes that covered everything. So, she decided to put a positive spin on covering our bodies. We’re doing it because we want to. We’re doing it because it’s adorable and cute in prints. So, she doesn’t so much hide the Mormon schtick, just calls it “faith,” and makes the covering bit more about making women feel body-positive. Now, we’re not covering because it protects us from God’s eyes, we’re covering because we want to feel empowered with figure-flattering prints and shapes. Hooray for modesty!

But, if it’s not already clear from her body-positive Mormon-to-faith switch-a-roo, she’s also a marketing professional. So, she had a brilliant idea about creating false scarcity and exclusivity, both things that women fall for, hook-line-and-sinker. When we think that something is special, we have to have it. LLR consultants give special, unique names like “unicorns,” having LLR fans paying through the nose for prints with Santas, or hearts. The consultants call the prints “special,” and LLR calls their prints all “limited runs,” to protect quality, and this brilliant strategy gets the credit cards flying: false scarcity. Manipulated language and sales psychology gets people to buy.

And, to top it off, Stidham has created a feeling of gentle, subtle, community amongst those who wear the clothes, by creating a special language, creating a sense of an exclusive club for those who are “in.” All the clothes have names, like a special language, but not just names, names of women that are just a smidge snooty with an added “the:” The Julia, The Ana, The Jade, The Monroe, The Madison. There aren’t any clothes named, The Jenny or The Bambi (a girl I knew once – sure she was a fifteen-year-old mom, but she was sweet). Even their payment system has a name: Audrey. When you “get” all these names, you feel like you are “in.” You can order a Julia in a XS and a pair of leggings in OS. WTF.

Wait. Was I just duped by marketing? What just happened? Somehow, this woman just convinced me that I want to be covered up, and, that all her leggings are special and scarce. And, on top of that, she gave all her clothes cutesy names, which makes me feel like I speak a private language with my friends. Damn it, I was duped.

And, it works. LLR doesn’t disclose its sales figures. But, in the last year, they’ve added over 33K new sales consultants, which is an estimated $165K in sales. LLR is exploding right now. Stidman’s mantra is: grace, charm and hustle. And hustling she’s doing, that’s for sure. If LLR is like any other MLM, it’s got a shining moment in the sun before it goes the way of the Dodo. MLMs are all a flash in the pan for how long they last at the peak. Amway is still, supposedly, the largest, most profitable MLM; but, when’s the last time you bought Amway? How often do you still buy Tupperware? It’s still around, sure, but no one can argue that its heyday was thirty years ago.

LulaRoe Has NO Customer Service

Why am I complaining about LLR, on my blog about being sick, and for so long, in so many words? It seems like a random topic, right? It is, really. I stopped MLM nonsense about six or seven years ago. In the military community, pretty much everyone is selling something. Spouses have been trading the same fifty bucks for the entirety of their careers. One wife is selling Pampered Chef, so she throws a party; but, she buys Jamberry from her friend; and, her friend buys Scentsy from her friend. The circle goes on and on, and the same fifty dollars makes its rounds until the next payday. I don’t know why we don’t just keep our money, which I do. If I can’t be friends with people, without buying their crappy products, I don’t need to be their friends.

So, LLR was no exception. But, I bent my rule this month. I have a friend who has another friend, who sells LLR. The first friend is on bed-rest from her umpteenth brain and spinal surgery, and the LLR consultant decided to do a fundraiser sale to donate the proceeds to help with her recovery costs. Oh, why not, I thought? I’ll let them add me, and I’ll go to this online “party.” I didn’t know the “rules” about posting “sold,” or that they only start at a certain time, or that I’d have to sit through an hour of a consultant holding up item after item of nonsense before I could comment on what I wanted, after being “teased” with what I actually wanted, earlier in the day. I was already annoyed by the time I saw the party start.

When I commented “sold,” on the item I wanted, and was clearly the first commenter, I thought, “well, that’s that,” right? Wrong. The consultant was experiencing a delay in her Internet, so when her comments came through, she congratulated someone named, Kristy. Three other people immediately corrected her that I was the first commenter, but she refused to budge. Kristy was the “winner,” of the product I had wanted. I was sufficiently annoyed. I was told that I could PM her and give her my information, so she could keep a look out for a similar item, and she could send me something like it, in the future.

Since I already knew that she had no control over her future stock, I knew her comment was a bunch of hooh-hah, and I was quite happy to private message her that I thought that her delay was not my problem, and that she was not being a very reputable consultant by offering a product that I’d clearly “won,” to someone else. In fact, my guess was that it was someone she knew, or that she was offering my “winnings,” to a better client. She, of course, told me that she was a small business owner, which lit my fire. I admit that I was not kind to her, but was not wrong in her business practices of not operating a good Internet connection, and not sticking to her word, when following the rules she established for her own parties. I was furious.

I complained to LLR corporate and reported her as a consultant that is disreputable and doesn’t represent their line to appropriate, and ethical business standards. I was told, by LLR corporate that I should simply attend a different party, and purchase their product from someone else, so that I can truly experience the LLR process from someone better. In other words, they don’t care, and that in fact, their primary concern is not customer service, but that I should purchase a product, or better yet, extensive amounts of products. Alas, do not ever expect customer service from LLR, for any reason, whatsoever.

The Product is Not What it’s Cracked Up to Be

In the end, the reason I actually committed to be in the party, not just join the group, was because I actually saw a pair of leggings I was willing to buy. I love peacocks, and not just like them, love them. There was a pair of peacock leggings that were adorable, and not in that “moms who wear leggings with hideous prints” kind of way; they were adorable. I’m convinced that in six months, LLR is going to ruin this legging thing, and we aren’t going to be able to wear them anymore, because they are going to wreck the trend with the over-saturation of the print and legging market. Thanks, LLR.

Anyway, I really wanted these stupid leggings. So, I was beyond bummed when I was outright cheated out of them. So, I went to Ebay, payed less for them than at this bitch’s party, and was happy to receive them two days later. I was thrilled to try on the leggings that everyone claims feel like “butter.” I’m pretty convinced, now, that the whole “butter” thing is like the “Christmas morning,” line that the consultants have said over and over again; it was just something that spread enough times, so it got repeated.

I’m not saying they aren’t soft. They are. But, they are no better or worse than the leggings I got at the Online Legging Store for roughly the same price, between $18 and $25. If you want really, really good leggings that hold your ass in, check out Spanx leggings. Or, if you want the queen of leggings, get the leggings that Anthropologie sells. They are $98 when they aren’t on sale, but if you catch them at sale time, they are $49.99. You get what you pay for, folks. The Anthro leggings are as thick as pants, and they suck in at the right places without feeling like Spanx, and they give me a thigh gap, people. A THIGH GAP! I’d pay $49.99 for a thigh gap, any day. I don’t have one naked! They are amazing. Butter, they are not, but they are comfy. The “butter” leggings feel like a soft breeze would tear them to pieces. I’m, literally, afraid to wear them too much, for fear of destroying them. And, they are see-through, at the knee when I’m sitting. I fear what my ass looks like! I’m not overly impressed.

Overall

Overall, LLR isn’t any different than any other MLM scheme, but it’s especially preying on moms. Every one of the MLMs out there preys on someone unique, but this one looks at moms, specifically. It looks at moms to do its shilling, and it looks at moms to sell to, which makes it doubly dubious. If begs moms to invest their families’ incomes into a business opportunity that is likely to yield them a small net profit, ultimately a loss, or nothing, and then it asks those moms to ask their mom friends to use their limited family budgets to buy leggings that are of limited quality, or shirts, dresses or sweaters that are of worse quality. This is preying on the most vulnerable, those who care most about their family’s income and budget, the ones who are taking that money and hoping to roll it into soccer practice, ballet lessons, and treats for the kids. In fact, they use that as a selling point. Then they alternatively claim that mom deserves a break, or a treat, like a new outfit. It’s sickening and wrong. Mom, your kid just needs you to play Monopoly with them, they don’t care if you shill stretch-pants.

Life and Chronic Illness

It’s not a secret that chronic illness changes your life, that it changes you. What is mysterious to people is the specifics of just how that happens, and just what changes. For all the talk about Chiari, in my life, and all the “awareness,” there’s still a lot of confusion about what it means to be sick, how it has changed every aspect of our lives.

Fear

Our lives are ruled by fear. We know that, at any time, I can get sick. I can get a headache that might send me to the hospital. I can get knocked down, and crippled by pain. When this happens, it doesn’t matter what’s already on the schedule, what’s been planed for months; I can’t do it. There is no, “but it’s important, so can’t you pull together for just a few minutes.” No, I can’t; it’s not possible. I can’t even use the bathroom alone, when a Chiari headache strikes. So, no matter how badly I want to go to my son’s school play, my husband’s promotion ceremony, or even sit at the dinner table, I can’t.

This means that I miss stuff. It also means I miss things, preemptively. We have a relatively exciting family event coming up, and I’m not going. I’m not going because we’re afraid. We’re afraid that I’ll get sick and ruin everything. We’re afraid that I’ll get sick and draw attention away from, what should be, a joyous time. We’re afraid that, to avoid getting sick, too much attention would have to be paid to accommodating me: I need a nap, a rest, a snack. We’re afraid that the stress of being afraid of getting sick, will make it happen: a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What’s more, we’re afraid of being afraid. We’re afraid of the inevitable judgment that comes from family (or friends), when I’m sick, again. Ugh. Rachel. Again. I’d be annoyed with me too. But, we’re also afraid of the judgment that comes from protecting ourselves from such dilemmas. Ugh. She stayed home? She’s missing this?

We can’t win for losing, can we?  

We

Notice that all of that fear was a “we” problem. Chronic illness isn’t just me. I’m the sick one, but Bryon is the one who cares for me. Collin misses out on promised trips to museums, or parks; and, he misses his mother, when she can’t be there. It’s a “we” problem, to have a chronically sick person, in the family.

That means that “we” make decisions about how to best care for “me.” I don’t expect the world to stop when I’m in a flare; but, I do have to stop, even though I don’t want to. We have learned how to keep the world turning around me, while simultaneously caring for me. We’ve learned that part of that means protecting me from harm, and keeping me safe from flares, even if our decisions are not always popular. We’ve learned that “we” are more important than “they,” because the “me” in this equation is pretty important to the three of us.

My "we."

My "we."

Sick and Well

I look great, lately, if I do say so myself. I’m up and dressed, everyday. I can exercise most days. I paint. I write. I’m even making a decent living, right now, as a freelancer. I do things. If you didn’t know that I was sick, you would think I was a regular, healthy person. This is confusing for people. I look fine, right?

I am fine, for now. I’m also only fine, in comparison to not being dead, or not being in the hospital. I’m not fine. I can give you a laundry list of things I can no longer do, either because I’m not allowed to, or because I just can’t. I almost passed out last night, because I’d been lying on the couch with my head a little below my heart. Thanks to weird CSF, and blood-flow in Chiari brains, I crumpled like a leaf, in Bryon’s arms, on our way to bed.

No matter how fine I ever look, or become, or heal-to-be, I’ll always be a more fragile version of myself. I’ll always have to make decisions that appropriately protect my easily-broken body. It’s like going on a hike, and choosing your steps carefully, so you don’t fall. My life is a constant battle of choosing carefully, so that I remain in a steady state of fine, and hopefully, better.

It’s very easy to see a chronically ill person, out and about, doing well, and then question why they can’t do activity X, Y or X, when asked. Trust them. They know their limits. The worst thing you can do to a sick person is question that they are sick, and then make them apologize for living when they are well.

I "helped" clean out the garage yesterday. See, I'm "well." I sat in a lawn chair and talked to Bryon, while he did ALL the work. Rachel of five years ago would've cleaned out the garage herself, or been in the thick of it too. No longer.

I "helped" clean out the garage yesterday. See, I'm "well." I sat in a lawn chair and talked to Bryon, while he did ALL the work. Rachel of five years ago would've cleaned out the garage herself, or been in the thick of it too. No longer.

We’ve been dealing with a lot of unnecessary family drama, lately. It made me ask Collin, this morning, if he could change one thing about me, what would it be; he said: I’d make your brain better. I didn’t choose to be sick. If I could erase it tomorrow, I would, despite all the life-lessons that Chiari has given me. But, because my boy thought only to say that he’d fix my brain, I think that I’m doing okay on everything else. The “we,” is strong in our family, and I’m happy that I have it to support the “me.”  

The Line Between Funny and Asshole

This thing happened to me yesterday.

It’s funny, right? I have had these pants for ten years. I love them. They are soft and light-weight. They’re a girl’s best friend too; they’re baggy enough to make you feel like everything always fits, but they are flattering enough to look cute. The fabric is thin though; so, despite their age, they’ve lasted a surprisingly long time.

I had no idea that there was a giant hole on the left butt-check, not until I was halfway to a doctor’s appointment. I’d already been to the pharmacy twice that day, and to the grocery store. So, that’s nice to discover. Then, I discovered the second hole on my third trip to the pharmacy. (Three trips to the pharmacy – Why? A rational question, of course. Well, because we treat controlled prescriptions like they are instructions for an atom bomb, and anyone carrying them is a terrorist).

I am the first to poke fun at myself. It’s easier to go through life when you have a good sense of humor about yourself; well, it’s easier to go through life with a good sense of humor, in general. At least, I’ve found that to be true. I have no problem showing the universe that I had my butt cheeks, hanging out, for half the day. It’s not because I like me, or attention; it’s because it’s funny. I like the idea that my embarrassment might make someone else chuckle, or feel less embarrassed about something they’ve done.

But, then I got a weird comment that took me aback. It said:

“Granny panties? Really? How do you keep ‘the passion alive’ with that!”

If you’re my FB friend, feel free to take a gander. I want to talk about why something like this is inappropriate and unacceptable. And, how much did he zoom, jeesh? Gross.

Misogyny

We throw this word around a lot lately; but, I don’t think we know what it means. When we make a comment that suggests that it’s, somehow, incumbent upon me to dress in a provocative way, at all times, for my husband, that’s misogyny. When we suggest that women are sexual treats for their partners, and that their dress should reflect it, that’s misogyny. When we suggest that a relationship is not an equal partnership, despite how little we know about its participants, that’s misogyny. Imagine if Bryon had a hole in his pants; would a woman ask him how he keeps the romance alive with plaid boxers? That’s a ridiculous comment, right? So, why doesn’t it sound ridiculous, when it’s the other way around?

In contrast, a different, also male, friend posted a photo of ass-less chaps, and a joke about being cheeky. That’s funny. It doesn’t specifically sexualize me, or my choice of underwear. It doesn’t suggest that I’m an object. And, it’s a pun, which is always fun. It’s a subtle difference in humor, but one we need to start calling attention to, especially for men.

*Don’t get me wrong, women can be assholes too, but this is kind of a man thing today!

The “She Asked for It” Mentality

Yep, I put my ass out there for the world to see. That doesn’t mean I asked to be harassed. It doesn’t mean that I should lighten up and learn to take a joke. A woman willing to let the world laugh at her butt can take a joke just fine, thankyouverymuch. The Internet is rife with men harassing women, based on everything from their profile pics to the size of their kneecaps. This girl pointed out that something as simple as a picture of her new headphones could draw unwanted sexual commentary from men. We aren’t “asking for it,” no matter what we say or do. That’s the kind of mentality that leads to a jury asking, “well, was she drunk, too?” as they deliberate whether or not an average, college-aged male was really guilty of ramming his dick into her, until she bled. What? That sounds rough? I bet she didn't like it either, even if she was drunk.

Screen Jockeys

I love Facebook. I love Twitter. I love my blog. I love all of it. The time we live in allows us to stay connected in ways that we never imagined, when we were kids; and, it only gets better and better. But, this connectivity comes with a price. We’re exposing the rotten underbelly of scary personalities that lurk in our friends and neighbors. The woman you stand next to, pushing your kids on the swing, at the park every day, can be the same woman who calls another mom, in a parenting chat-room, a fucking moron for putting rice cereal in her baby’s bottle. These people would never talk to a human person, the way they talk online, despite their boasting to the contrary. Aside from being rude, it’s potentially dangerous. Can you imagine if someone threatened you, called you mentally ill, or told you that they thought you were not fit to be a parent, to your face? These things have all been said to, or about, me, online. If we talked like that, directly to people, I fully believe that we’d be building nothing but prisons to accommodate all the abuse and violence charges that rose from confrontations.

So, should I take a photo, which shows nothing that a bathing suit wouldn’t show, in fact less, down? Should I feel shamed by the fact that I was wearing peach briefs instead of a lacy thong? Should I feel compelled to provide an explanation, or excuse for my underwear choice?  My husband wasn’t even in town, not that it matters. Or, should I say that this kind of comment isn’t funny. And, men who make them should be called to the carpet and told that they are assholes.

I think I’ll go with the last option.

Oh, and a quick delete and unfriend of a jerk.

P.S. Those underwear are THE most comfortable underwear on the planet. Buy some. I swear, you won't regret it. 

Miss, Are You a Grown-Up?

I got called “Miss” at two separate retail establishments today: a tire store, and the grocery store. At the tire store, they didn’t charge me for my service. And, at the grocery store; well, I had to pay. But, both of those “Miss”-es made my day. As a woman firmly in my “ma’am” years, it occurs to me just how nice it is to be “Miss”-ed, every now and then.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d not go back a single year in age, not for anything. Well, I’d do it to be less close to death, sure; but, I’d not do it for the lack of wisdom or experience. I’m comfortable with every part of me. I’m happy with my life choices, my appearance (generally), and with who I am. That’s something that I don’t think I could’ve said, confidently, in my twenties. Every year older I get, I am more and more confident about who I am, as a woman.

So, why does “Miss” feel so nice?

I think, for me, it’s being told that, in my mature and confident skin, I’m still pretty. But, why does that matter? Why does it matter that I’m pretty to the tire shop guy? Why does it matter that I’m pretty, and look, dare I say it, young, to the checkout kid? And yeah, he’s a kid to me; because, nothing says maturity and age, like calling everyone in their twenties a kid. If I’m confident and assured, why does it matter that I’m being reminded of my perceived youth and attractiveness?

Is it evolutionary? Is it something so simple and silly that my eggs aren’t quite dried and shriveled yet, and the young bucks are appealing to my unhatched young’ins? I think, probably not. Mostly because if my eggs are yearning for a checkout boy at Von’s, they are severely in need of better selective radar.

I think it’s simpler than that. I think it’s about experience, the same experience that I just talked about giving me the confidence and wisdom of age. While confidence, the best kind, comes from the inside, there’s a fair spate of it that comes from compliments. The same way someone can dash your day by telling you that your ass looks big; there’s no doubt that your step gets lighter with a compliment.

I picture your confidence is a bit like a jar, being filled with compliments that are like metaphorical pennies, or marbles. The more you get, the fuller it becomes. So, when someone calls a middle-aged woman “Miss,” he’s saying “you look younger than your age; you’re pretty;” and bam, a penny goes in the confidence jar. The older we are, the more pennies we have in our jar; thus, the experience of age works in our favor, filling our jar with more years of compliments. Of course, it’s not just “you’re pretty;” it’s “you’re smart,” and “you’re talented.” Maybe those last two are more like quarters in the jar.

I know a girl who is all giddy and full of palpitations because she just got a promise ring from her super-serious boyfriend, of less than six months. She’s something like, I don’t know, twenty-four. She’s part of the selfie-generation and I tried to count, once, how many selfies she posts in any given week. Remember, I'm doing some research for a book about online support groups; I’m not a crazy person counting some chick’s selfies, I swear. I didn’t count any pictures that she took with others, because I considered those far less self-involved. But, I finally lost count somewhere after fifty or so; I have a life outside of this person’s photos of her breasts squeezed into a tank top.

In my mind, her jar must be very deep, and very empty, for some reason. And, I don’t think she’s unique. She gets dozens and dozens of comments from her friends, on every photo. So, whatever she’s doing to fill her jar is certainly working for her. There are the typical “no-make up” selfies, with tons of actual makeup, of course; selfies where the boob-to-face ratio is something like 80/20; and selfies where it’s all about pondering lip gloss or mascara choices.  

It makes me wonder though, that despite the differences that I perceive between people like her and people like me, just how similar we are, if being called “Miss” felt so good today. See, I tell myself that we are starkly different because after being called “Miss,” I didn’t go to twenty more stores to see if whatever I was pulling off today worked again. But, when a piece of praise makes my day, are we, fundamentally, the same? If the only difference is not actively seeking out praise, what’s the difference between us?

It’s one of those things that I’ve spent some time pondering as I get older. I sit back, and do a little eye-roll as I see yet another selfie, but then wonder if I’m not much different. I think that the main difference, the most important one that comes with age, is this step, the self-reflection step. I know that I didn’t spend much time on self-reflection, and certainly not much on behavior modification if I did find anything icky, when I was in my twenties.


On a side note: promise rings – yay or nay?

I think they are one of the stupidest things ever. I always have. There seems to be little point in them, to me. An engagement ring makes sense. It’s a placeholder for a wedding ring; a promise to wed. A promise ring is a promise to promise. What’s next? The only answer to that is really, a promise to promise to promise. In this logic, there would be no end to the madness and you could start the promise ring cycle at any point. Collin could promise to promise to promise to promise to marry the girl he has a crush on right now. I think that's why the promise ring idea has always smacked of immaturity; it's a shifty half-promise by which you take the sincerity out of the actual promise, or engagement.

I get the idea of being swept up in a new relationship’s excitement, and being so eager to make a commitment that you feel like you need to do something, but also too afraid to make it permanent-permanent. There’s two options for that, then: do, or don’t. That’s why we are given the luxury of choice and time. I’m no one to judge rapid decisions; Bryon and I were living together in under a month, and engaged in under a year. No one says quick is wrong; but I’d have thrown a promise ring in his face.

People can do whatever they want in their own relationships, of course. But, buy a girl a necklace. Hell, buy her a ring; but, don’t call it a promise, because frankly, you aren’t promising anything. Promise to be in a committed relationship. Promise to continue the way things are going. Promise a million other things. But, don’t promise to promise. That’s just…weird.