Megan’s Story

From Megan: “I’m dying. I was given a life expectancy of 15 years after 19 surgeries it was chanced to 30. I’m 35 almost 36 and my 12 specialists are still saying 30. It looks like I’m facing surgery #20 asap. All the info is on my page. I’m currently letting a homeless woman I barely know stay with me since she just got out of psych. in patient and we’ve become close and she’s chosen to help me photo-document as my body is failing me. I’m having about 6 seizures a day. I’m having to use the wheelchair almost full time. I don’t know why I’m telling you this. You’re just so smart and always know what to do. I guess will you please get my story out? She wrote a beautiful piece about me lady night right before I seized and hurt my arm in the bathroom. You should read it. It’s amazing how someone you’ve only hung out with once that you come and Tse them for help then let them into your home and give them rides (David does bc I can’t drive) and feed them and do their Landry and give them deodorant and toothpaste etc and want to help them, and they end up helping you. But please read what she wrote and look at some of her photos from our medical trips and think about of you can get my story because my PCP thinks I may not have much time left now. And I don’t want to be forgotten.”

 

By Cara: “The thing is, her body is failing her. And,I have the audacity to fail my own body. I have witnessed first hand a life, or lack of life, of a chronically ill person. And I have witnessed nothing go right, even when I silently prayed those Hail Mary’s I was taught say in emergencies in Catholic school. I have lied to her. Just so she could sleep peacefully. I have lied to her, just so she wouldn’t have those scary cluster seizures. I know that I am doing her no good, looking into her glazed eyes and assuring her the “the pain meds will kick in soon” “tomorrow will be a better day” “everything will work out as the doctor said”.

She had been doing this for thirty five years. I just came into the scene a week ago. For some odd reason, I am trusted with her spray painted, electric wheelchair to escort her into her doctor’s office. For some odd reason, I am trusted with information like follow up dates, or appointment setting because she is in the office having a panic attack because it’s quite possible she needs another surgery very soon to prepare her for multiple pokes and prods and blood draws and blood tests.

I have seen her pill collection. She could be the Cartel. She could make so a million dollars in an hour if she wanted to, selling her medications. They most definitely have street value. But the thing is, she actually fucking needs to consume it for a chance for another day. Every goddamn day, she needs to take a cocktail thirty medications. Uppers, downers, injected, or popped, she most likely has to take another two medications to up the down or down the up so she can make it to the toilet if necessary. Or something that can make her stomach pain level be 4 instead of a 10. And she pukes violently if that doesn’t work. And she pukes if she happens to be allergic. And she faints. And she falls. And she bruises. And then there is another infection to take care of once this one gets cleared up. yadadadadada
Yeah, so she panics when the remote to the television isn’t functioning. She’ll call four people frantically, gasping for air. They, not knowing how serious such remote thingys are, will tell her to call the 1 800 company number . With the energy she has left, she will write a facebook post about her frustration with Netflix begging for answers, nearly give herself a seizure, She really needs that remote fixed. And she cannot figure it out because she has a traumatic brain injury, When she woke me up at an early hour to fix the damn thing, I knew I had to get it done. She was in tears. She barely could breathe.

I could understand what other people judged so coldly. While her husband is working, and I am asleep in the living room, all she has to distract her from her fatal pain reaching a hospital admittance level, was that fucking Netflix.

What’s heartbreaking is that she dresses her best for the doctor’s office because she has nothing else to feel pretty for. On doctor days, she’ll wake up early, pick a sexy outfit, apply sparkling make up and with the hour we have left before we have to drive an hour to make it to the hospital, her and her selfie stick take model like photos, until she points at me to take some pictures of her posing. I encourage it. “Work it. Oh. My. God. Your ass looks so good in that dress, Yas bitch. Make this your profile pic, bitch!” And we laugh really hard picking out the top ten photos in her phone that are actually post-worthy. And, baby girl, you have no idea how these moments save my life.


What’s heart breaking is that when I cook her a meal, she is so grateful. It’s the best meal she had in weeks, months even. Sure, I can throw things together and it doesn’t taste bad. But I am no gourmet fancy chef who runs some kitchen in Paris. I know what she means. I know what she is comparing my food to. Those hospital t.v. dinners or the jello and hot dogs she’s been living off of on her “good days”. And, baby girl, your compliments make my fucking life worth while.

And what is a good day? A day without pain? That’s not feasible. A day without doctors? No, because she looks forward to seeing different faces. A good day is a tattoo day. She’ll save up for months, selling old clothes and other trinkets on ebay of 75% less than what she paid. She loves tattoo day. We’ll drive an hour to her super talented tattoo artist. As she’s getting tatted, she is getting exhausted. She pops some pills to get through. Dude finally finishes. And she loves her new art, she’s ecstatic. But she just can’t show her gratitude at the moment. She says a quick “thank you” and we rush out. Help her into the car and drive away so fast. We are speeding, like an ambulance. Racing home to beat the seizing and…shit, she is seizing. And for two more days she is seizing. But this isn’t exactly an emergency, no worries guys. Legit, this happens all the time. And this, of all days, are her favorite days because the next coming bed bound weeks, she has new art to stare at when no one is home and she’s bored as shit.

Her body is failing her. And I have the audacity to fail my body.

Her body, no matter what medication, dose of medication, type of crazy treatment or surgery she is ordered to proceed with, she will never get better. She will only deteriorate. Believe me, she has lost friends because her friends have gotten really tired of her not getting well. because her body is like a septic tank. No need for “get well” cards, because there is just no getting well.

She is thirty five years old. She has beat all odds. For God’s sake, her life expectancy was 30. These are one of those stories that never get heard. Pharmacists don’t want to hear her and they are getting paid to listen. They, actually, are the worst. They have this crazy power to throw away her prescriptions when they can’t even name one of her 54 different fatal conditions. They really like assuming they are saving her life by warning her she’s overly medicated and could possibly die. No shit, Sherlock. Just fill her scripts, Jesus Christ.

I want to hear you, sweetheart. It’s okay to scream. It’s okay to be mad at God. It’s okay, i’ll take your picture when you’ve just finished crying, just like you ask me to. I mean, I am honored to be trusted with the camera. This is the most bad ass photo shoot to be apart of. I feel like a journalist and you can just keep doing your thing like Bettie Page did. Gives us both purpose, no?

Thank you Megan Marie….you know why I choose those words.

You are so beautiful. Eloquent, gorgeous pin up doll.

I love you, Megan Marie.

You are a warrior. Even when you don’t want to be anymore.

Fears and tears, pounding your fists, cursing Jesus Christ himself for all the unnecessary torture, for feeling too unsafe in your own body to attempt to crawl to the bathroom, you may be hurting, but you, my dear beloved friend, will never in my eyes be mistaken as weak.

It takes strength to surrender. Strength to swallow your pride along with those disabling medications.

A strength that I am not familiar with. A type of strength that beats all odds, like your mother fucking life expectancy!

I love you, sweetheart.

You fucking bad ass!

Keep shining. That moon dust eye shadow is the shit, baby girl!

You are a very near and dear friend to me, and for that, I am forever grateful.

We thank you, we love you, Megan Marie!!!!!!!!!”

 

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Voting Leave Rights

ALABAMA
Voting Leave Required
Employees are entitled to up to one hour of unpaid voting leave, if the polls are not open at least two hours before their regular shift or at least one hour after their regular shift. Employees must provide reasonable notice to be given this time off. The employer may specify the hours that the employee can take off.

ALASKA
Voting Leave Required
Unless an employee has at least two consecutive hours in which to vote (either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s shift or between the end of the regular shift and the closing of the polls), the employee is entitled to paid voting leave of as much working time as will enable voting.

ARIZONA
Voting Leave Required
Unless an employee has at least three consecutive hours in which to vote (either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s shift or between the end of the regular shift and the closing of the polls), the employee is entitled to up to three hours of paid voting leave. The employer may specify the hours that the employee can take off. Employees must give notice in advance of Election Day to be entitled to this voting leave.

ARKANSAS
Voting Leave Required
Employers are required to schedule employees’ work schedules around poll hours on Election Day to enable employees to have sufficient time to vote.

CALIFORNIA
Voting Leave and Notice Required
Employers are required to post a notice to employees ten days before a statewide election advising them of voting leave rights.

If employees do not have sufficient non-working time to vote, they are entitled to up to two hours of paid voting leave at the beginning or end of their regular working shift (or another agreed upon time). An employee must provide notice at least two working days in advance of the election to be eligible for paid voting leave.

COLORADO
Voting Leave Required
Unless an employee has at least three consecutive hours in which to vote (either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s shift or between the end of the regular shift and the closing of the polls), the employee is entitled to up to two hours of paid voting leave. The employer may specify the hours that the employee can take off. Employees must give notice in advance of Election Day to be entitled to this voting leave.

GEORGIA
Voting Leave Required
Unless an employee has at least two consecutive hours in which to vote (either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s shift or between the end of the regular shift and the closing of the polls), the employee is entitled to up to two hours of unpaid voting leave. The employer may specify the hours that the employee can take off. Employees must give reasonable notice in advance of Election Day to be entitled to this voting leave.

HAWAII
Voting Leave Required
Unless an employee has at least two consecutive hours in which to vote (excluding any lunch or rest periods), the employee is entitled to up to two hours of paid voting leave. An employer may require a voter’s receipt as proof of voting by the employee. If an employer can verify that the employee took leave and failed to vote, the employer may make appropriate deductions from wages.

ILLINOIS
Voting Leave Required
Unless an employee has at least two consecutive hours in which to vote (either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s shift or between the end of the regular shift and the closing of the polls), the employee is entitled to up to two hours of paid voting leave. The employer may specify the hours that the employee can take off. Employees must give reasonable notice in advance of Election Day to be entitled to this voting leave.

IOWA
Voting Leave Required
Unless an employee has at least three consecutive non-working hours in which to vote during poll hours, the employee is entitled to up to three hours of paid voting leave. The employer may specify the hours that the employee can take off. An employee must provide a written notice of request in advance of Election Day to be entitled to this voting leave.

KANSAS
Voting Leave Required
Unless an employee has at least two consecutive hours in which to vote (either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s shift or between the end of the regular shift and the closing of the polls), the employee is entitled to up to two hours of paid voting leave. The employer may specify the hours that the employee can take off.

KENTUCKY
Voting Leave Required
Unless an employee has at least four consecutive non-working hours in which to vote during poll hours, the employee is entitled to up to four hours of unpaid voting leave. No proof of voting is required, but an employee who takes time off and does not vote may be subject to disciplinary action. The employer may specify the hours that the employee can take off. An employee must provide a notice of request in advance of Election Day to be entitled to this voting leave.

MARYLAND
Voting Leave Required
Unless an employee has at least two consecutive hours in which to vote (either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s shift or between the end of the regular shift and the closing of the polls), the employee is entitled to up to two hours of paid voting leave. Employees requesting paid voting leave must furnish proof in the form of a state board of elections form that the employee has voted or attempted to vote.

MASSACHUSETTS
Voting Leave Required
Employees in manufacturing, mechanical, or retail industries are entitled to up to two hours of unpaid voting leave unless they have at least two consecutive hours of non-working time before the opening of the polls. Eligible employees must provide a notice of request in advance of Election Day to be entitled to this voting leave.

MINNESOTA
Voting Leave Required
Employees are entitled to paid voting leave for the time necessary to appear at their designated polling place, cast a ballot, and return to work.

MISSISSIPPI
Voting Leave Required
Employees are entitled to unpaid voting leave for the time necessary to appear at their designated polling place, cast a ballot, and return to work.

MISSOURI
Voting Leave Required
Unless an employee has at least three consecutive hours in which to vote (either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s shift or between the end of the regular shift and the closing of the polls), the employee is entitled to up to three hours of paid voting leave. Employers may decide when the voting leave is taken. In order to be paid for the leave, an employee must submit a request before the day of the election.

NEBRASKA
Voting Leave Required
Unless an employee has at least two consecutive hours in which to vote (either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s shift or between the end of the regular shift and the closing of the polls), the employee is entitled to up to two hours of paid voting leave. If the polls are open before or after an employee’s work shift for fewer than two consecutive hours, then the employee is only entitled to an amount of time off that, when added to the time that the polls are open before or after work, totals two consecutive hours. Employers may decide when the voting leave is taken. In order to be paid for the leave, an employee must submit a request before the day of the election.

NEVADA
Voting Leave Required
If it is impracticable for an employee who is a registered voter to vote before or after work, the employee is entitled to paid voting leave. Employees who work two miles or less from a polling place may take up to one hour of paid voting leave. Employees who work two to ten miles from a polling place may take up to two hours of paid voting leave. Employees who work ten miles or more from a polling place may take up to three hours of paid voting leave. Employers may decide when the voting leave is taken.

In order to be paid for the leave, an employee must submit a request before the day of the election.

NEW MEXICO
Voting Leave Required
Unless an employee has at least two hours in which to vote before the opening of the polls or at least three hours before the closing of the polls, the employee is entitled to up to two hours of voting leave. Employers may decide when the voting leave is taken.

Although the statute does not specify whether this leave must be paid, it states that an employer may not penalize an employee for the absence.

NEW YORK 
Voting Leave and Notice Required
Unless an employee has at least four consecutive hours in which to vote (either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s shift or between the end of the regular shift and the closing of the polls), the employee is entitled to up to two hours of paid voting leave. Employers may decide when the voting leave is taken. The employee must notify the employer of the need for time off at least two but not more than ten working days prior to the election.

Employers must post a conspicuous notice of employee rights at least ten days before Election Day.

NORTH DAKOTA
Voting Leave Encouraged
Employers are encouraged to give employees time off to vote when their regular work schedule conflicts with the times polls are open. The voting leave is not required to be paid.

OHIO
Voting Leave Required
Employees are entitled to a “reasonable time” of paid voting leave. The statute does not state whether the time off is paid or unpaid.
OKLAHOMA
Voting Leave Required
Unless an employee has at least three consecutive hours in which to vote (either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s shift or between the end of the regular shift and the closing of the polls), the employee is entitled to up to two hours of paid voting leave. If the employee is at such a distance from the voting place that more than two hours are required, then the employee shall be allowed a sufficient time in which to cast a ballot. Employers may decide when the voting leave is taken. The employee must provide written or verbal notice one day before the election and must provide proof of voting. In lieu of voting leave, the employer may change the work hours to allow three hours before the beginning of work (or after the work hours) for the employee to cast a vote.

SOUTH DAKOTA
Voting Leave Required
Unless an employee has at least two consecutive hours in which to vote (either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s shift or between the end of the regular shift and the closing of the polls), the employee is entitled to up to two hours of paid voting leave. Employers may decide when the voting leave is taken.

TENNESSEE
Voting Leave Required
Unless an employee has at least three consecutive hours in which to vote (either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s shift or between the end of the regular shift and the closing of the polls), the employee is entitled to up to three hours of paid voting leave. Employers may decide when the hour is taken. The employee must give notice of the need for time off to vote at least before 12:00 p.m. on the day prior to the election.

TEXAS
Voting Leave Required
Unless an employee has at least two consecutive hours in which to vote (either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s shift or between the end of the regular shift and the closing of the polls), the employee is entitled to reasonable time off to vote. The statute states that employers may not refuse to allow employee to take time off to vote, but no time limit specified.

UTAH
Voting Leave Required
Unless an employee has at least three consecutive hours in which to vote (either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s shift or between the end of the regular shift and the closing of the polls), the employee is entitled to up to two hours of paid voting leave at the beginning or end of the regular work shift. Employers may decide when the voting leave is taken. The employee must request leave prior to Election Day.

WEST VIRGINIA
Voting Leave Required
Unless an employee has at least three consecutive hours in which to vote (either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s shift or between the end of the regular shift and the closing of the polls), the employee is entitled to up to three hours of paid voting leave. Employees requesting paid leave must submit a request in writing at least three days prior to Election Day.

Employers in essential government, health, transportation, and communication services and in production, manufacturing, and processing facilities may change the employee’s schedule so that time off does not adversely impact essential operations.

WISCONSIN
Voting Leave Required
Employees are entitled to up to three hours of unpaid voting leave. Employers may decide when the voting leave is taken. Employee requesting leave must provide notice before Election Day.

WYOMING
Voting Leave Required
Unless an employee has at least three consecutive hours in which to vote (either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s shift or between the end of the regular shift and the closing of the polls), the employee is entitled to up to one hour of paid voting leave other than a meal break. Employers may decide when the voting leave is taken.

 

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An Open Letter to Parents of Trans People

Dear parents of trans people,

I’m writing this on behalf of your child, as a friend and as a fellow trans person. It’s very difficult to advocate for oneself, especially with one’s parents, and this letter aims to help you understand and accept your child so that less of that weight is on them. I hope that you will better understand your child and be a better ally and supporter.

Your child is trans. In our society that means a lot, but you may not know what. Your child has done what all of us have, at one point or many, and come to understand themselves in a way that perhaps differs from your expectations or understanding of them. To start, let’s address what “trans” means. When your child was born—or perhaps before that, based on ultrasounds—someone like a doctor looked at your child’s genitals and determined if they had a penis or a vagina. That’s fine. Most of us are born with one or the other and it is, at times, important for medical personnel to know which hormones will be driving development. Where this starts to go awry is that, based on the presentation of their genitals, a number of expectations and assumptions are put on the fetus or baby based on the gender that is widely associated with those genitals. For many people, the binary gender assigned at birth is not an issue and, as they grow up, they feel comfortable as a boy or girl, man or woman. This is being cisgender and is absolutely okay and should be supported. However, for some of us, that arbitrary assignation doesn’t fit and leaves us feeling confused, unhappy, and without a sense of belonging. Those of us who, through whatever means, come to understand that our gender is different from what was assigned at birth based on genitals, are transgender (often shortened to trans).

This self-discovery can take place at any point in a person’s life. Some of us know at a very young age that we don’t fit in the box we were put into, others of us take years to understand and accept ourselves. There are internal and external factors that play into the process of self-determination and self-acceptance, such as being raised in an environment where the existence of trans people is acknowledged or not, whether or not the child is held to strict expectations based on gender and their enforcement, and how accepting the child feels their family and peers would be. As an aside, please note that none of these determine whether a person will be trans or not. While I don’t believe the “born this way” narrative applies to all trans people, being trans isn’t a result of a progressive or non-religious upbringing. I won’t speculate here about what makes a person cis or trans, because that is an individual story that can’t be generalized for convenience. Back to the main point: your child may discover, understand, or come out as trans at any point during their life, or at multiple points. Gender for some is static, for others it’s fluid.

What does this mean for you and your child? They may choose to transition, meaning that they may have surgery, take hormones, change their appearance, voice, name, presentation, and/or pronouns. They may also choose to do none of that. Whatever they decide, it’s important to remember that their gender is valid and must be respected. If your child decides to transition, you may be uncomfortable. Suddenly the child you gave birth to or raised is different, not only from what you were used to, but from what the world around us expects. This can be a very difficult thing for you to understand or accept, but the alternatives are to lose your child (whether you decide to ostracize them, they decide to distance themself from an unsupportive person, or through suicide as a result of not being loved and accepted for who they are) or hurt them  (through lack of support, disrespect, conditional love, or forcing them to be someone they’re not).

Consider yourself. Have you, at any point, examined your own life and found yourself unhappy? Have you ever tried to “find yourself”, questioned who you are, or realized that you’ve been living up to someone else’s expectations of you? The answer is most likely yes. Many of us, whether in our teenage years, during college, or in a so-called “midlife crisis”, have felt that some part of our life isn’t in keeping with who we really are. Most of us have then done something to change that and be true to ourselves, whether through changing careers, pursuing a passion, coming out as LGB+, getting married or divorced, etc. Being trans is very similar. We realized that who we are and who we were told to be were at odds and decided to do something about it. This is seen as radical and considered a much bigger deal than any of the things I previously mentioned only because it isn’t yet normalized in our society. Consider the stigma and significance attached to divorce, even just a few decades ago. As more people realized that their happiness and needs were of greater import than arbitrary social expectations, divorce became more acceptable and accessible. So, too, will being trans, though we’re still in the early stages of the process.

If your child comes out to you as trans, ask them how you can best support them. If their gender isn’t one you’re familiar with, ask them what it means. Ask what their pronouns are, then use them. Yes, you will make mistakes. Yes, you will use the wrong pronouns. Your child won’t love you less for that because you’re human and it takes time to change old habits. But sincerely try, as it shows love and respect. Tell your child that how much it means to you that they trust you with something so personal and important. Be there for them through whatever their transition is, and through the hardships they’ll face. Stand up for them against people who mock or demean them, disrespect them, and misgender them. Be proud of them for doing something as incredible as self-determination and self-discovery. Educate yourself, either through asking them questions, internet research, or reaching out to trans organizations for resources. As daunting as it may seem, your child will be grateful for the effort you put in and it will get easier over time.

What do we want for our children? Happiness, success, stability, love. We want our children to have more than we did, to avoid the mistakes we made. One way for parents to help ensure that is to accept and support our children for who they are, not who we want them to be. After all, trans or cis, is that not what you want or wanted from your parents? Love them, respect them, and trust that they know themself. Give your child the gift of being the parent they deserve.

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Responses on Dating Websites

Men often complain that women/women-read people have it easy on online dating sites and that it’s unfair for us not to respond to their messages. While I fully appreciate what a letdown it can be to not get a response from someone you’re interested in, there are oh so many reasons for not responding.

  1. Your message is creepy.

Guys, there are very few women/women-read people who want you to masturbate to their pictures or want to know that you are. The reaction to having a total stranger message us out of the blue that they’re getting off to our pictures is usually between *shudder* and *physically recoiling from the screen*. I loooove sending sexy pictures to my partners to get them going. I do not love having a random person masturbating at me and treating me like an object that exists for their pleasure. Gross. And, for the be-penised, women/women-read people don’t care about your size, how hard you are, or if you’re “throbbing”. Introducing yourself with “U into 12 inch rock hard cock” is not going to get you laid. Stop.

We are already aware that we’re pretty. If that’s all you have to say, step it up. Our names are not pretty, baby, babe, beautiful, mama, sexy, hot stuff, cutie, busty, bitch, etc. Don’t know someone’s name? Try asking! Also don’t start your message with “How big are those tits?” or “goddamn baby can I eat that ass?” Unless someone’s profile says that they’re looking for dirty talk or no questions asked hook-ups, they probably want to be talked to and treated like a human being.

2. Your message is completely unengaging.

I get up to 20 messages a day that consist of some variation on “Hi” or “How are you?” At best they include “You seem really interesting.” While there are some women/women-read people who have little or no information on their profile, a lot of us have SOMETHING you can use to start a conversation. I include a list of conversation topics in the first section of my OKC profile, and yet the majority of what I receive are creepy or meaningless. Communicating online isn’t the same as communicating in-person.

As a subset of this, I’m going to include your message is a copy/paste. Guys, come on. First, your generic messages make it really clear that you didn’t read our profiles or even try to relate to us as individuals. Second, there are entire groups, pages, and blogs dedicated to the shit we receive on dating sites. We see your messages. When someone posts an image and five women/women-read people respond, “Omg, I got that exact message!” we know you’re not worth responding to. And guys? Including in your message that your message is copy/pasta and you’re not willing to write something else because it’s not worth your time? Dude. Really?

3. You obviously didn’t read the profile.

For instance, my profile includes a very detailed description of what I’m looking for. Despite that, men constantly message me asking for hookups, nudes, or threesomes. It includes information about me being married and polyamorous, yet men constantly ask why I’m single. My profile says not to message me if you don’t live nearby, yet guys from all over the world message me a couple dozen times a day. If you aren’t willing to take the time to read a few paragraphs about someone, there is no way in hell that you’re worth their time.

4. Your match % is dismal.

Not all sites have the match percent, but for those that do…c’mon. Look at it. If you’re a 20% match/78% enemy? In what world do you think that’s going to make a good match? If you disagree with someone on a lot of things that matter to either of you, you’re probably not compatible. Yes, “opposites attract” is a nice adage, but it’s very rarely the basis for a successful relationship.

5. We’re not interested.

Yes, there are times when guys send messages that are decent and we still don’t respond. Why? Because we’re not interested. Why don’t we respond to let you know? Because SO MANY TIMES that isn’t the end of the conversation. It turns into “why not?” “You think you’re better than me?” “How do you know if you’ve never met me?” “Bitch.” “You’re fucking ugly anyway.” “Lol good luck getting laid you fat cow.” Or, my personal favorite, rape threats! Yes, I’ve gotten two of those. Even when we get nice messages, saying that we’re not interested is a crap shoot. If the guy is actually nice, maybe he’ll say thanks and move on. If he’s a jerk, maybe he’ll send slurs and insults. Not worth the risk. If you want to make it more likely that women/women-read people will respond to your message, call other men out on their shitty behavior. Don’t be the kind of guy who resorts to verbal abuse when you don’t get your way.

Another reason we don’t respond is the sheer volume of messages we receive. I get 10-30 on any given day; more when I upload a new picture, answer a new question, or change something on my profile. I don’t have the time or energy to address every one of you. For most of my women/women-read friends, it’s the same situation. We’re busy. We work, have families, friends, hobbies, lives. It’s preferable to spend time on things we enjoy than risk the vitriol that comes with turning someone down.

So what can you do to increase your chances of getting a response? Here’s a start. In a nutshell, read the profile and respond as if you’re talking to an individual you actually respect, not some set of holes you’re trying to fuck.

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Men and Messages on OkCupid

I hear/read lots of complaints from men about the lack of messages and responses they get on OkCupid. As a woman-read person, I get 15-25 messages per day. I respond to maybe 2 of those. I don’t have a few hours a day to dedicate to responding to people I have no interest in, and then dealing with “But why? You haven’t even met me!” I also don’t have days to dedicate to meeting every person who messages me on OKC. So here’s my best advice, guys, on how to maximize the chances of someone answering your message.

Read their profile.

We write profiles for people to read. They’re to help potential matches see if we’re someone they want to ask out. Our profiles include information that we think will paint a good picture of us a person and explain what we’re looking for. Read them.

An example: the first sentence of my profile says that I am only looking for people near me, and that people not in my area should not message me. I still get 5-10 messages a day from people in different states or other countries. My profile also clearly states that I’m looking for friends with benefits, complete with what that means to me, yet I have guys message me looking for one night stands or serious long-term relationships.

Reading someone’s profile not only shows the most basic level of respect, it helps avoid wasting anyone’s time by weeding out people you have nothing in common with, and gives you a great starting place to write a good message that will hopefully get a positive response! So do it!

There is a happy medium between 2 words and 8 paragraphs. Find it.

Most of the messages I receive consist of “Hey” or “What’s up?” or “Nice tits.” I have, in the past, tried to respond to these messages should the sender otherwise appear interesting. They haven’t gone anywhere. These days I clearly say in my profile NOT to message me if that’s all you have to say (before you complain that it’s too hard to compose a more detailed message, I give several topics that I would love to hear about) and yet most guys still send only those one or two words. Others go to the extreme opposite and are very nearly essays in their length and complexity. While I sincerely appreciate that you have read my profile, responding to every bit of information is unnecessary.

A good plan is to start with the greeting and then go into a few sentences about why you’re messaging the person. “Hi, how are you? You say you like museums. Have you been to the Nordic Heritage Museum? I’ve heard good things but haven’t gone yet. My personal favorite is the MOHAI, what about you?” It’s short but shows that you’ve read their profile, directly responds to one of their stated interests, indicates that it’s mutual, and expresses your interest in them. Depending on their profile it might also be appropriate to ask if they’d like to go to the museum with you (again, reading their profile is important).

Don’t use OKC as a debate forum.

I’d hazard a guess that 99% of people on OKC aren’t there for debates or arguing. If you see something you vehemently disagree with on someone’s profile, move on. Don’t message them to say how feminism is ruining the world or bisexuality doesn’t exist. Just move along. When someone declines to engage with you on a topic, don’t then insult or degrade them. It’s not going to get you a date or any favorable response.

Cool it with the “hotty”.

We all like to hear that we’re attractive. We don’t necessarily want to hear it in every message from every person. Treat us like people, not sex objects, and write about the content of our profiles instead of our breasts. If you call me babe, sexy, and beautiful in one message I am definitely not going to respond. Try showing that you read my profile and save telling me how gorgeous my eyes are for when we meet. Trust me, they’re even better in person.

Be respectful.

Part of this is—you guessed it—reading the profile! It will probably help you figure out what the person is looking for and if you have anything other than your choice of online dating site in common. Take topics from their profile to start a conversation with, and do it in a respectful manner. For example, don’t say things like, “Ha, you like soccer? LOSER.”  Not a good first impression.

Not everyone is going to be interested in you. Not everyone has the time or inclination to respond to every message. If someone tells you they’re not interested, either say, “Thanks for letting me know, have a good day,” or just don’t respond. It is never appropriate or winning to message back “You’re ugly anyway,” or “Lol I just felt sorry for you.” Very little is less attractive than sour grapes. It’s also not okay to say, “Yeah, but I am,” and then continue messaging. That’s not what “no” means.

Have a picture.

There are two main parts to this. We want to know what you look like. Most of us care about a person’s physical appearance and we’d like to know if there’s any interest before we meet you in person. Also, in my experience most guys who don’t put up profile pictures are trying to cheat on their partners. Some people are into that, a lot aren’t. Having a picture up will go a long way toward getting you messages or responses.

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Low-Wage Jobs and Employee “Worth”

Whenever there’s a discussion about raising the minimum wage people inevitably say that low-wage workers don’t deserve more because their jobs are “low-skill”. Setting aside that people deserve a living wage that allows them to afford food, housing, transportation, clothing, health care, and other basic necessities (and my own belief that people also deserve non-necessities because enjoying life is a right, not a privilege), let’s take at one of the low-wage jobs I’ve worked.

Target

I started working when I was 16. I got a job as a cashier at Target making minimum wage. To most people that probably seems fair. That I was saving for college seems unimportant to them, but we’ll set that aside, as well. When I started I was a cashier. I stood at my register and helped dozens of customers on an average day, a few hundred on busy days or during holidays. I was timed on the length of my transactions and that impacted my performance reviews (and could be the difference between keeping or losing my job). As a cashier I had to have 100% accuracy, process sales very quickly, know the general location of all of our merchandise, be able to explain store policies (refunds, returns, holds, coupons/price matching), know when deliveries were expected to arrive, know and explain the Target Red Cards, get people to sign up for those, clean the checkstand(s) I worked on, and probably more that I’m forgetting.

After a few months of cashiering I was moved to the sales floor. Toys, specifically. In December. With no training. So now I was responsible for being a backup cashier when the holiday lines got long (and meeting all of the responsibilities outlined above) but I also had to know exact locations of hundreds of toys, look up products to see if they were available at other stores when we were out, put products on hold for customers, restock products, pick up after the hundreds of customers and children who came through each day and left the aisles littered with toys, purchases they no longer wanted, AND discarded food/drink (usually half eaten), cover breaks and lunches for other employees, and know about all of the other departments because customers would ask me for help in any area.

After surviving Christmas I was moved to “soft lines”, or clothing and accessories. Here, in addition to being a backup cashier and helping out in the rest of the store, I worked in a dozen different areas and had to know them all. Sometimes I was the phone operator, answering and directing a multi-line phone. I had to know basic information about all of our departments and many specific products. I had to know all the extensions for the various departments, who was working when, when things were going on sale (and if they currently were), what popular products we had in stock or when we were getting them in if they were out, give directions from various places to our store or to other stores, AND all of that while being responsible for the fitting rooms.

That meant making sure people were only taking 6 items, checking to make sure they didn’t steal stuff, answering questions about brands and sizes, sorting and refolding/hanging clothes people didn’t buy, marking down all the products that went on clearance or were defective, cleaning the fitting rooms, reattaching tags that were torn off.

I usually worked across the various areas so I had to know all of the products in mens, womens, childrens, accessories, and shoes. I had to know where thousands of products were. I also had to know the differences between brands, styles, materials. Clothes had to be constantly resorted by brand, type, color, and size, not to mention the constant refolding. In the infant section I had to have pretty deep knowledge of the products and be able to help people with their baby registries. In accessories, especially costume jewelry, I had to know what the products were made out of and how likely they were to cause allergic reactions, what the watches were, which brands were good, what functions they had, how water resistant they were, etc.

After about a year I was trained in the fine jewelry department and it became my primary responsibility, although I still worked on the main floor regularly. Here, in addition to answering questions about the rest of the store (people stopped to ask me where everything else was), I had to know about different kinds of gold and silver, the clarity of diamonds, how hard or soft various gemstones are, the different types of pearls, how to not destroy pearl jewelry, how to change watch batteries, how to resize watches or change the bands, the merits and disadvantages of leather vs. plastic vs. metal, restocking the cases and displays, what each month’s birthstone is, cleaning all the damn fingerprints off the cases…

And that’s all without mentioning the rude, demanding, aggressive, demeaning customers I dealt with on a daily basis, or the times people used the fitting rooms as restrooms, finding and logging tags from stolen merchandise (which I could get in trouble for if it was in my area), or the myriad of other frustrating aspects.

So was my job “low-skill”? Is memorizing the layout of a pretty large store, the location of thousands of products, specific information about many of those products, being trained in almost every area of the store, etc., “low-skill”? Was I not working hard enough?

The assumption that any job is “low-skill” devalues the knowledge that each employee gains and builds upon. It erases the demanding nature of these jobs and the heavy reliance customers have on us to get through their day with relative ease. These “low-skill” jobs are often physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing with heavy workloads, little or no appreciation, and pay that is well below a living wage. It’s time to move past the idea of service jobs as inferior and recognize the depth and importance of these positions, as well as the dignity of those who hold them.

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Baltimore Protests

The genocide of black people has been going for centuries. It’s finally getting a little attention (a fraction of what it deserves) and people are so appalled and offended, not by the ongoing degradation and murder of black people, but by the gall of black people to start fighting back and raising hell.

If you’re white and have a problem with black people not following bullshit rules of respectability, sitting down, being quiet, and waiting for we white people to maybe stop being quite as racist and violent, you’re part of the problem.

The protesters in Baltimore and everywhere else have my full support. They’re not killing, they’re not raping, they’re destroying pieces and symbols of our white supremacist system that was built on the dehumanization, kidnapping, and murder of their not so distant ancestors, AND that relies on the marginalization and exploitation of those living now.

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