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Viewer Questions: Will Congress Choose the Next President?

Hello All!

New post this week is my first Viewer Question Segment regarding a piece that ran in the Huffington Post this week “Doomsday Savior? How Paul Ryan will Pick the Next President.”  and if something like that is really possible?

Quick Answer: Yes. More nuanced answer: watch this video:

Next week we will discuss the Electoral College and how it works.

Please subscribe to the channel on YouTube (you have to have or set up a google account) or, for the mailing list on the website www.politicsgirl.com to get email messages when new videos come up.

Thank you again for your continued support!

xo leigh

P.S. Lochlan Update: We’re on Spring Break now and we had the opportunity to go to the soft opening (meaning not yet officially open) of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios and it was absoutely incredible. If you are a fan of the book and stories like our family. It is an absolute must do!!

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Donald Trump v. The GOP

This is a big day in primary politics and who comes out on top will say a lot about how we move forward to the conventions in July. The biggest issue on the table is currently the Republican front runner Donald J. Trump and his war with the establishment and controlling players in his party. How will it all play out? Why should we care? What is it we should understand? It’s a super big deal and one worth paying attention to.

New post at www.politicsgirl.com or on YouTube:

Best to all!

Next week: The fallout from today’s results and where we go from here.

xo leigh

The Importance of the Supreme Court

As Super Tuesday’s results make the Presidential Nominees clearer and clearer, the Importance of the Supreme Court and, more specifically, who gets to nominate its justices becomes more and more important. New Politics Girl: The Importance of the Supreme Court: Part 1 is up on YouTube now. Part 2 will be up soon.

Up Next: Delegates and Super delegates and their effect on the Presidential Nominees.

As always, check out the site www.politicsgirl.com for new definitions and blog posts and, if you like it, don’t forget to subscribe to the channel. Apparently that’s how it works. Did you know there’s a guy who makes over 3 million dollars a year playing video games on YouTube? Well, there is! It’s a brand new world. I’m just not quite sure what to make of it.

Thanks again for all your support.

xo Leigh

P.S. Loch update: He had to go to school today dressed as a “favorite literary character”. Since he was Harry Potter last year and, as he said, “There’s going to be like 20 Harry Potters…” he went as Joe Hardy from the Hardy Boys. Adorable 1950’s teenage sleuth.

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New Video on Politics Girl

Hi All,

There is a new video up on YouTube – American Politics Names to Know: Part II. You can also see it at the top of the redesigned site: www.politicsgirl.com.

New definitions will be added every week to the site and I’m currently working on next week’s video: The Importance of the Supreme Court and, how to subscribe directly to the channel so you don’t have to read about the new posts here.

In other news: Lochlan just turned 8. How lucky am I to have been around to see it?!

As always, thank you for your continued support!

xo leigh

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New Posts up on PoliticsGirl site

Hello all,

I’m not sure if you’ve been checking but there are some new videos up on the site. “Political Endorsements” and “People to Know American Politics: Part 1”. “People to Know American Politics: Part 2” should be up by Friday and I’m madly working on an extended piece on the death oftThe Supreme Court’s Antonin Scalia and what it all means for the Presidential Election in November and the country in general.

Please subscribe to the YouTube channel and check out the new website: www.politicsgirl.com. It’s been redesigned and, though it’s still a work in progress, I think it’s really starting to come together.

Many thanks to my husband Sean for his many talents!!

Thanks again for your continued support!

xo leigh

My New Project!!

Hello Friends & Followers!

So, I told you I’d have a new adventure and here it is!

I’ve been working on a new project for quite a while and, though it’s not as perfect or polished as I’d like it to be, I figured it’s time to stop messing around and launch the darn thing already. So, without further ado, I give you the first episode of Politics Girl. Iowa caucus: Part I, II & III.

Yes, I know…right down to the wire on that one.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0VTA6PQH7nKKgRO8ptMatQ

You can also access the episodes via the website at: www.politicsgirl.com

Basically, Politics Girl is my foray into vlogging (or video blogging) where I hope to break down political issues and candidates from a open minded perspective. Though I personally have strong political leanings, swaying people to my point of view is not the point of the website or channel. My goal, as lofty as it may be, is to truly reengage people with the political sphere using facts and not spin. Things have become so polarized, so hostile, so…let’s be honest…gross that people are simply checking out in order to save their own sanity. I understand that. There’s a saying I love that goes…“My desire to stay informed is directly challenged by my desire to stay sane.” 

It’s a quandary.

Our news stations are skewed, our inboxes are full, our lives are busy but, this stuff REALLY matters and we, as lucky democratic citizens, get to have a say. I know it’s easier to choose to ignore it but, ultimately, it’s not better. Not for us and not for the future of the country. Ignoring simply gives the people who are engaged way too much control. I believe we can do better and I think knowledge and understanding is the first step to that.

Now, I know that a website, vlog, blog, tumblr, twitter feed situation is a bit Millennial for a lot of us but, this is the new way to reach people and reaching people is truly my goal. Currently the website is in it’s infancy. I’ll be consistently adding new vlogs, blogs and definitions but, the twitter feed and tumblr account have been up and running for months and I hope you’ll take the opportunity to check them out, follow and, hopefully, pass them on to others.

So, that’s my spiel. I want to make politics, and the issues that come with it, easier to understand so people are more engaged and take that engagement all the way to the ballot box. If you’d like to support this endeavor please follow my channel on YouTube, my feed on Twitter and share, please share, with people you know. If you have questions, feel free to ask and I’ll try and answer them as thoughtfully as I can.

Thank you for all your continued support.

Best always!

xo Leigh

The Next Adventure…

Dear Reader,

First, I want to thank you for coming on this journey with me. When I arrived at the three year mark of my diagnosis and wasn’t dead, I knew I wanted to do something worthwhile with my life. To make a difference. To leave something behind so that when I did die, I’d be able to feel a little less helpless about it. I wanted to write a book. I wanted to write a series of letters to my Lochlan so if I wasn’t around to teach or guide him, his mother’s voice could still resonate in his life. When it was suggested I write those letters as a blog I was hesitant. I didn’t read blogs. I didn’t know blogs. It felt insincere to join a space that I had no knowledge of, or even, real interest in.

When I decided to move forward I did vast amounts of research. I took an extensive New York Times course and I made countless notes on what I thought worked for other bloggers and why. The publishing of my first post was thrilling because I’d never done anything like it before. My voice was “out there”. I was no longer anonymous or protected. I had allowed my story to be public and I had made myself accountable to that persona.

Leah Lee  002In the meantime, I found I loved writing. I loved the opportunity to be honest and reflexive. I loved connecting with people, both strangers and close friends but, most of all, I was grateful for the catharsis. Writing made me feel less afraid. Every post I published was one less thing I would never be able to say. The process of creating the world of ‘In Case I’m Gone’ gave me a power I no longer had in real life. It allowed me to be in charge of my own story. It became less about what was happening to me and more about what I could learn from it. Writing, and hearing from those who were reading, made me feel less alone, less panicky, less fearful that soon there would be nothing left of me than a picture in a frame. Everything I published became a reminder that I had lived. That I was real. That I’d loved and cared and made mistakes and learned from them all.

underwood picWhen I was approached to write this blog as a book I was thrilled. It was what I’d hoped for. The opportunity to write my story in a forum I really understood. To leave a part of me behind. To be able to look back on my life and feel as if I’d done something real, something tangible. What I didn’t realize at the time was how long it would take to write that book. How difficult it would be to honor someone else’s idea of how it should look and feel while still making it my own. It took me almost three years to get it right. To have a book that really felt like me. This wasn’t some fictional character’s story. This was my real life and I had to do it justice. It had to be exactly right.

Though I continued to write the blog I found it was a real effort to keep the two things separate. I’d have an idea about something and think, is this a blog or a chapter? Is it on message? Does it serve a purpose? Would anyone care? Lochlan_McGowan-152It was a crazy amount of work and, I’m not ashamed to say, there were months where I wasn’t sure what I was even doing anymore and the book would sit completely dormant. When everything clicked last summer I was able to rewrite the book in it’s entirety in just over three months and, after two more of rewrites for my agent, by January we were ready to submit to eight different publishers.

I’ve never worked harder on something in my life. I’ve never done anything as intimate or daunting. I put my heart and soul into those pages and it felt right. In many ways it made my struggles feel worthwhile. As if coming to terms with my own death I could potentially help others live a better life. It felt hopeful and personal and, dare I say it, successful. The day I finished I cried. I cried my eyes out from relief and exhaustion and pride. I’d done something, something real and, at the time I said, “Even if the only person who ever reads it is Loch. It’ll be worth it.” 

photo copy 2Little did I know how true those words might be. As of now, all eight publishers have passed. Passed in the most glowing, complimentary way but, passed all the same. Apparently everyone loves the book but doesn’t know how to sell it and in a world of marketing and branding and everything being for sale this isn’t particularly good news. I can’t properly express the greatness of my disappointment but, I can say, I’m almost positive it’s not the end of that tale. The outcome may not be what I’d hoped, but the product is. I’ve written a book I’m truly proud of and, hopefully, someday many of you will want to read it. For now, I have to be resigned to it sitting on a shelf.

Which brings me to today. I haven’t been writing much lately and, though I could blame it on a million “busy” things, I’ve come to realize it’s because I’ve reached a crossroad. The completion of my book, though not culminating in the desired result, still represents the end of a journey. A journey I started in 2011 and one that’s now reached its’ conclusion. Lochlan is finally at an age where he’ll remember many of things I’ve said. He’s old enough that he might actually get to know me. I’ve made a singular impact on his life and, even if I haven’t, I’ve left a tangible part of myself behind in my writing. No matter what happens to me now I’ll have existed for him and, honestly, that’s all I ever wanted.

IMG_2326I am called to something new. I’m not exactly sure what it is but, until I take my foot out of this world I’ll never be able to firmly plant myself in another. I have a million things to say and I don’t want to feel boxed in by a “brand” or “message”. I’ve loved writing from the perspective of a mother who’s dying because, I am and I will but, these days I feel drawn to tell a different story from a different perspective and, if I’ve learned anything from being sick it’s that you have to listen to your heart. I could write ‘In Case I’m Gone’ until I was, but for now, I’m actually here and I owe it to myself to see where the next road leads.

Thank you for supporting me. For listening to me. For reaching out and sharing with me. I wish you luck and love and success on your own journey. Hopefully, sooner rather than later, I’ll be writing for you again but, this time from the pages of a book, the dialogue of a movie or, even, from the mouth of a politician who believes, as I do, that we as a people can do better than we are.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting me as I found my voice. I promise to try and do something truly worthwhile with it before I go.

All my love,

xo Leigh

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Blind Support

Dear Loch,

Your Dad and I recently came to watch your after school Ninja Presentation. It was a culmination of what had been learned over the past semester and a graduation ceremony as you move on to the next headband. They can’t call it a belt because the whole thing is more game based lessons rather than any formal martial arts training. To be honest, I don’t really understand it. I’m not sure what you’re doing or learning in these classes because it sure as heck isn’t any actual skills but, you throughly enjoy it so, we continue to sign you up no matter how pointless it might appear from the distance of an adult mind.

IMG_450644036This was the fifth presentation I’ve been to. The first couple were quite enjoyable because I went into them with zero expectation. You were just cute and committed and I dug it. By the third and fourth presentation I knew what to expect but, despite the minimal skills presented, I always felt proud because you took the whole thing so seriously. Clearly working hard and doing your best, you were respectful of your Sensei and committed to the process. What more could I ask for? By the time this presentation rolled around, however, I’m ashamed to admit I was kind of wishing there was something I could do to get out of it. Despite my pride in watching your hard work, the presentation itself is a pretty tough hour to sit through. I support you unconditionally but keeping a pleasant smile on my face while most of the kids fall on the ground in convulsed fits of goofiness and laughter while seemingly incapable of remembering what a line is and generally hard pressed to preform even a single move is quite difficult for me.

What I’ve held on to during these master classes in patience is that my child’s seemed capable of rising above the “noise”. The attention and respect you’ve always shown your teachers and the other children amidst the chaos impressed me. You seemed to understand when you should be quiet and when you should be talking and you always performed like a champion when it was your turn. Are you an amazing ninja? No. But, you always put forth an amazing effort.

Quotation-Jack-Kinder-life-expectations-achievement-Meetville-Quotes-186285I don’t need you to be the best. I just need you to be your best and, untill now, you’ve never let me down.

This time however, as I sat there watching the craziness, I found myself getting more and more twitchy. Not only did the Sensei have to come over and tell you and your friends to be quiet three times (with me giving you the hairy eyeball on a number of other occasions…) but, when it was your turn to present, you were all over the place. Giggling. Laughing. Falling over. Talking back to the Sensei in a cheeky/show-off way, forgetting almost every move and just generally acting like a cut up. At one point I leaned over to your Dad and said, “When does unconditional support end? We can’t tell him he did great. He’s doing awful.” Your Dad just shook his head. Neither of us knew.

After one particularly bone headed move, where you clearly could have done what was asked of you if you’d only been paying attention, I muttered, “Uhhhh, that was terrible…” and the mother in front of me turned around and looked at me as if I’d screamed “You SUCK!!!” at the stage. I was simultaneously embarrassed and defensive. Was I an asshole parent? Should I be just smiling and clapping like she was? Why should I feel guilty for not being impressed by my child’s bad behavior? Her child had wrestled another kid to the ground during his turn, not because he was supposed to but because he wasn’t listening when he was told to stop, and she just sat there giving him the thumbs up and sharing a laugh with her husband about how silly and wonderful he was.

1484c8b77a4b35d6864c7ec7a19e7ff3Look, I believe kids should have ample opportunity to be silly but I also believe they should understand when that behavior is not appropriate and I think it’s the parent’s job to help them make those distinctions. Being inappropriate and disrespectful to your teachers and the people who’ve given up their time to come and watch you is not, in my humble opinion, worthy of a double thumbs up. Sure, I might have muttered you were terrible but, that’s because you were. You could be a terrible ninja and I wouldn’t care. I’d smile and clap and cheer. But you don’t earn my praise and respect for not even trying. What lesson does that teach?

You knew I was less than thrilled with how it had gone so when you finished you came over and said “That was really bad wasn’t it?” After feeling like the s*&^est mother on the planet for about 10 seconds while I weighed the consequences between being blindly supportive or honest I said, “Well you’re not bad but, that wasn’t great was it?” You looked at me earnestly and said, “No.” I said, “Look babe, I’m always proud of you but I can’t say I’m proud of what you did here today.” As you started to blame your friends and the younger kids I stopped you and said, “I’ve seen a lot of these presentations Loch and I know a lot of these kids aren’t respectful but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be.” I reminded you that you were one of the oldest kids in the room and more was expected of you. That the parents come to see what you’d learned and that the Sensei wanted to show what they’d taught but that we didn’t have the opportunity do either with the way you’d chosen to behave. Then, because you looked completely crestfallen, I finished with, “I love you with all my heart Lochlan and I’m proud of you every single day. I don’t care if you’re amazing. I just care if you do your best.” 

B_vAXfXUwAAh22E.jpg-largeWe left it at that but later in the car, still feeling guilty, I said “The thing is Loch, I want you to trust what I tell you is the truth. That if I tell you you were amazing it’s because you were, not just because that’s what I always say. It wouldn’t mean anything if I told you you were great all the time. I want you to know I’m telling you you were great because it’s the truth. I want my words to mean something. I want you to know that your Dad and I are happy and impressed because you’ve done something worthwhile. Do you understand?” 

You said you did. I think you did. I hope you did.

article-2261903-16EAE9F3000005DC-903_306x410I want to be the kind of parent who encourages you to do your best. Someone who believes your best self takes effort and applauds the effort not just the result. I want to be the kind of parent you can believe in. Who’s praise means something because it comes from a  place of truth and authenticity. Yes, your mother should be your biggest fan but that doesn’t mean everything you do will be perfect. I have high expectations of you because the world will have high expectations of you. You won’t do well in school by spacing out and talking through classes, you won’t move up in a job if you can’t deliver what’s expected of you at the time it’s expected and you won’t succeed in life if you disrespect the time and effort of those around you.

Life doesn’t offer double thumbs up for blowing it so why would I teach you it does?

I love you Loch and I’ll support you in all that you want to do. I just won’t cheer unless you deserve it. Fair enough?

God bless you baby. Put forth your best effort and the rewards will come.

Ever yours,

xoxo Mommy

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Lost: The Six Year Fog

Dear Loch,

There will be times in your life when you feel lost. When you look around and don’t recognize where you are. When you question the choices you’ve made and find yourself at a loss for which direction to go. I’m not going to lie, it’s a horrible feeling but, one I believe all those searching for true meaning in life find themselves facing at some point. Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about a crossroads or one of those moments where you need to make a leap of faith. I’m taking about a no man’s land of fog and oblivion. A place of near debilitating uncertainty where your path is nowhere to be seen and you’re dominated by fear and confusion. It’s an ugly time and I know exactly how it feels because I’m there right now. I may not have the answers to fix it but, I can tell tell you no matter how painful it is, it will eventually pass.

I know because I’ve been here before.

feeling+lostEvery six years or so I seem to find myself in a bit of a “what am I doing?” quandary. When I was younger it was infinitely less frightening as there was always a higher power I could lean on to get through…namely, my parents. No matter how despondent I felt, how scared or unsure I might have been, your grandparents were always there to pick me up. To love me while I struggled to find my place. My loss of direction and overall sense of confusion were always buffered by their protection.

As I aged, I came to realize – painfully, I might add – that this was no longer the case. Increased awareness and autonomy allows you to see your parents for the fallible, human people they truly are and, even with the best intentions, it’s impossible and honestly, unhelpful for your parents to protect you from everything. Your father and I want your life to be truly wonderful but your decisions are ultimately yours alone and, as much as we hope to help, it’s your path to follow not ours to dictate. If you’re true to yourself, you will find that some days – weeks, months or even years – will be truly difficult as you search for a life that means something to you.

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How I feel now is how I felt after graduate school when I found myself in a job that wasn’t my calling. I’d ignored my dreams in favor of a life with less struggle and, ironically, was now struggling with the consequences of that choice. I’d redirected my path to conform to someone else’s standards and was, not surprisingly, miserable with the results. After crying every day for three months I came to the conclusion I must be clinically depressed. An acquaintance who had recently been committed seemed to be doing really well at a Toronto clinic so I called to see if they would take someone like me. They wouldn’t. So, instead, I partied, complained and worked out too much. I made strange decisions and found pleasure in very few of them. Ultimately, it was a movie that changed my life. Sitting alone in the dark on a hot, summer afternoon I realized I was unhappy because I was ignoring who I was and what I really wanted to do. It didn’t matter how “cool” my job was if it wasn’t the job for me and it didn’t matter how “amazing” my life seemed if I wasn’t happy living it. With the clear realization I was never going to be happy unless I wrote my own story and followed my own dreams, the fog lifted revealing the path I would follow without hesitation. Four months later I was living in New York, a student at an amazing conservatory and fully committed to my lifelong dream of being an actress.

It wasn’t until that dream began to falter that the fog rolled in again.

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Living in LA, my career stalled, my plans adrift, my bank account empty and my face far older than was required for my profession I once again found myself crying every day. My shame compounded this time by the fact I now had a witness to my unravelling, your father. Things clearly weren’t working out. All the efforts and dreams and hopes I’d poured into my career were falling short. It didn’t matter how hard I worked or how good I might be, the fact was, it wasn’t happening. I just didn’t know what to do with that information. The reality was I’d become an incredibly overeducated, full time bartender who could barely look herself in the mirror for all the disappointment and self loathing. Who was I if I wasn’t who I thought I was going to be? Where was I going? To what purpose? I focused on photography because it made money but it didn’t reveal my path. I hid in the planning of my wedding, behind the success of my husband and in the excitement of my pregnancy but, I remained without direction. For a long time I tried to convince myself I could find happiness and fulfillment in other’s success. I wanted to believe I could be satisfied just raising you and playing a supporting role to your father’s dream but, when his dream started to waver and I allowed myself to finally admit my love of being a mother wasn’t extinguishing my own ambition, I had to face what I’d put aside and acknowledge how off track I truly was.

It was a painful time but, there’s a lesson in pain if you’re willing to look for it. Something to learn from unhappiness so you never have to deal with the same distress again. What-success-looks-like

Getting sick was the best and worst thing that could have ever happened to me. In the blink of an eye I was reminded, without a shadow of a doubt, who I was, what I wanted and what I cared about most. I recognized what was important and immediately stopped feeling sorry for myself because I wasn’t who I wanted to be. I realized, should I be lucky enough to live longer than expected, I was damn well going to live a life that mattered. I knew I wasn’t going down without a fight and discovered the best way to express that sentiment was through writing. Suddenly, there was my path again. I wasn’t just a sick person, a wife or a mother. I was me and I still had something to say.

The fact that six years later I’m still alive but once again lost is pretty classic. I have a blog that doesn’t make money, a book that’s yet to be published, art pieces I can’t afford to make and a political itch I’m unsure how to scratch. I’m also fully ensconced with your father as he goes through the exact same thing. It’s an uncomfortable time for us. One full of uncertainty and, in my case, quite often despair. I’m questioning everything: my talent, my direction, my mothering, my marriage, my history, my path and every time I come up wanting.351333

My friend Betsy says you “have to ride the horse in the direction it’s going” and though I don’t currently know which way that is, I rest in the knowledge that if I can just hang on, keep working, keep believing, keep listening I will eventually learn the lesson the universe is trying to teach me and all will become clear. I’d LOVE IT to just be easy but, history has shown me, it never is.  Despite the draw, the option to sit down and give up is not one I’m interested in. I know the fog will only lift if I continue to move forward, if I don’t make decisions based on fear and if I stay true to myself and the life I want.

Maybe we’re all phoenixes and, in order to create the ash to rise from, we must allow ourselves to burn. I’m in the fire right now but I know something new and better is coming. I just need to hang on until it does.

Even if it takes longer than you want, if you listen to your voice the path will always reveal itself. Pain and uncertainty are simply a necessary part of growth and rebirth.

I love you always.

xo Mommy

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Drowning in Reality

So, we were robbed again.

Again.

Almost one year to the day our car was broken into and all of our luggage and bags were stolen, it happened again and it hit me really hard. We took a family bike ride. One of the first opportunities I’ve had to really participate in something physical in a while and it was wonderful. A full two hours of talking and riding together. My boys off roading while granny here tooted along with her oxygen watching their adventures to the rhythmic puff of my O2. When we finally arrived back at the car it was to the talk of ice cream and watching the second Harry Potter since we’d finished reading the book the night before.

As we came up on the car, getting off our bikes in the open dirt parking lot, I was struck with the fact that it appeared to be unlocked. Our car locks itself using an outside keypad but, since it has a history of acting up, I’d insisted Sean bring his set of keys lest we get locked out after our ride. The car being unlocked made no sense. We’d definitely locked it. We’d done a whole song and dance around locking it. Sean told me it was probably because he’d been close to the car when I’d tried to open it but it seemed weird to me.

IMG_443553413-2After Sean put the bikes on the rack – Loch and I passing the time racing each other (something I can’t do more than twice without gasping for breath but attempted anyway because I hate feeling like the “lazy” parent who doesn’t do anything fun) – we piled into the car to continue our lovely day. It was at that point I reached for my purse, the one I’d hidden in the back under the passenger seat like I always do. Out of site, out of mind and all that. When I couldn’t reach it I told Sean to stop the car and I hopped out to open the back door and grab it. When it wasn’t there I looked across under the driver’s seat thinking I must have just put it there by mistake and that’s when the panic set in. The next few moments consisted of the three of us tearing the car apart, hoping against hope I’d randomly put it somewhere different but really knowing, all along, it was gone.

The five minutes following were a Master Class in futility. We may as well have laid on the ground and had a tantrum. We ran around looking in random cars as if our stolen items would just be sitting on someone else’s seat. We frantically asked strangers if they’d seen anything. Sean even asked a guy to open his trunk. We called the restaurant we’d been to earlier in hopes I’d just lost my mind and left it there and, I made the incredibly classy move of screaming at a mostly empty parking lot, that “whoever took my purse is a TOTAL A*^H#@)!”

440798Just first rate immaturity epic fail parenting.

After the breakdown we got down to it and started making calls. The first officer I spoke to couldn’t have been less interested and decided our conversation was an appropriate time to correct my semantics. “If you weren’t there Ma’am it wasn’t a robbery, it was a theft.” Here’s the thing. I actually know that. I know that from the LAST TIME  our things were stolen! I understand I wasn’t held up by gunpoint but, come on, you can’t used the word “theft” as a verb and, quite frankly, after you’ve had your ID, credit cards, bank cards, smart phone, car keys, house keys, alarm fob, sunglasses, makeup, and medicine (among many other things – the purse itself for instance) taken, correcting my choice of verbiage was not particularly helpful. What he did recommend was that the police report could be filled out in a “timely manner” but that calling the banks and credit card companies should be done right away.

Taken 2 Red Carpet Premiere - 38th Deauville American Film FestivalThe first card I called to cancel already had a charge on it. 4 minutes prior someone had purchased $43.88 of gas at a station not 5 minutes away. Hearing this Sean turned into Liam Neison in Taken 7. He tore over to the station (promising not to get us in an accident) while I stayed on the phone with the bank reversing the purchase and canceling my other 3 cards. We pulled into the Chevron Dukes of Hazard style and Sean jumped out and started looking into all the cars. He then went inside to discover the thieves had just left. Turns out they were able to use our card (without the pin) because they had our zip code (from my ID) and that’s all gas stations require to confirm who you are. The most we got out of it was the pump number and based on the time and amount spent we can have the manager check the surveillance (when she’s working) to see if the cameras recorded a license plate or perpetrators on video.

As we drove from the service station to the police station it dawned on us that, not only did the thieves have my purse and wallet, they also had our home address with our house and car keys. Holy *&^%! They could be there right now cleaning it out! They could be driving away in Sean’s car! We couldn’t fill out a police report!! We had to get home!!! We peeled away from the police station the backup camera screaming. We couldn’t even be sure the ‘secure alarm’ report on Sean’s phone was accurate because my keys also included the alarm fob so all our potential house gutters had to do was press the button and safely turn it off. Bah!!!!!!

becuo.com

becuo.com

Over the next 4 hours we had every lock in our house changed ($250), set up an appointment with the alarm company to reset our codes for the missing fob ($277.70). Drove to the Ford dealership to reprogram Sean’s key and have my key replaced ($350), made an appointment to have Sean’s car keys reprogrammed and all the locks changed ($1600), talked to AT&T about what do do about the phone I’d had for less than 2 weeks but now needed to be completely replaced ($899) along with apple care ($100), attempted to navigate the DMV website for a replacement license (first available appointment: 3 months) and talked on the phone to our insurance company who were less than pleased that we were making yet another claim so soon after our last one. Oh, and Sean went back and filed the police report.

Having things stolen from you is a violation you’re never quite prepared for. If you’re someone who would never do such a thing, it hits you like a ton of bricks. You can’t wrap your head around it. How does someone just take something that isn’t theirs? How can you screw someone over like that? How do you carry that purse or wallet or wear those sunglasses? What goes through your mind when you find all those medications or a blood oximeter? Do you feel bad or do you just not care? This isn’t a Robin Hood situation. We weren’t ^%#@*s to someone and got what we deserved. There’s nothing noble or understandable about this. It’s just awful and, according to the police officer we did file the report with (a very nice man eating his sad squished PB&J out of the lunchbox he, obviously, brought from home to save money himself) this is something that happens ALL THE TIME.

This is just the tip of the problem (Bernie Sanders Facebook meme)

This is just the tip of the problem (Bernie Sanders Facebook meme)

I get it, people are struggling. The rich get richer and the rest of us are drowning. I understand it because I feel it. The cop eating his broken chips out of a Ziploc feels it. The manager of the service station who won’t be in for 2 days feels it. My family, with all our hours and hours of work and very little to show for it feels it. Something is wrong with our society and things are reaching a tipping point. I just read a great article in Elle about the hyper educated poor. About academics who are subsisting on food stamps despite the fact they have a PhD and jobs at universities. People are hurting and something has to give.

The thing is, our family’s has been running on fumes for long time and we’ve told ourselves time and again our hardships are almost over, that things are finally going to change. That we couldn’t work this hard for this long just to fail at the 10 yard line. As Linda Tirado, whose blog on her minimum-wage existence catapulted her into the national spotlight last year, wrote in her new book, Hand to Mouth: “Being poor while working hard is fucking crushing.”* Sean and I always figured you don’t swim 500 miles just to die a mile from shore. Yes, things were hard. Sure we’d been dealt some seriously tough cards but, it was all leading to something good right? The struggle, for all it’s pain, was there to make us stronger and better so when our ship finally did come in it would be that much more worth it… right? Darkest before the dawn? But yesterday, having those people just TAKE from us was too much for my little soul to handle.

ilmabad.com

ilmabad.com

When I’d finally dealt with all the logistics I could, I completely shut down. I internalized. I felt like someone flushed the toilet and my life was just going down the drain. What, really, was the point of fighting? We’d been doing it for so long. Maybe I was done. Look, we’re artists. We live an artist’s existence. That means 4 to 5 jobs between us, lean months that overshadow the fat, working till all hours of the night and waiting, waiting, waiting for our break to finally come. Compound that with the financial and emotional strain of being chronically and, technically, terminally ill while trying to raise our child in today’s “bigger is better” world and we’re at the end of our rope on a daily basis. Everything is strained. Our bank account, our marriage, our patience, our tolerance. I understand what drives people to steal. I just don’t understand how they do it.

After Loch had gone to bed I asked Sean if he thought we were cursed. He looked at me like I was crazy but I was really asking. Every day I get up and try and make it work. I push the fear and worry and realities aside and put on my positive face. I interact with the world. I try to help other people. I do my best to be a supportive wife and good mother. I wrote a book. I do this blog. I raise my child. I run the school’s fundraiser. I’m involved. I’m committed. I’m living every day the best I can but yesterday, yesterday, I just shut down. My fight left me. My positive mantras failed. I felt done and broken. I felt as if it was just one too many things. It felt like the straw.

livingadepressedlife.wordpress.com

livingadepressedlife.wordpress.com

I went to bed a zombie. Maybe the world had just become too shitty. Maybe we really were just going to drive our country to disaster or civil war or world annihilation. Maybe things wouldn’t work out. Maybe God really did hate me. How else do I explain all the bad luck? My conscious mind was aware of how many blessings I have. How many good things surround me but, it had been a heck of a week. A heck of a year. A heck of a decade and I was spent. I wondered aloud, to Sean’s horror I’m sure, if all the struggle and bad luck and pain and effort was all for nothing. Maybe it wasn’t going to work out. Maybe our lives were just f*^#ed and I should just accept it.

I woke up in the morning and lay there listening. Sean and Loch were getting ready for school (something I normally spearhead) and though I was grateful to Sean for being kind and letting me rest, it also made me feel numb, as if I had no purpose. I considered going back to sleep and pretending my life wasn’t happening but, despite the draw, the reality of checking out doesn’t really suit me. Real life, even with all it’s struggles, isn’t like that. It doesn’t matter how sh^%#y it gets, it goes on and it’s your choice to either deal or die. I didn’t fight my disease this hard just to roll because my purse was stolen. I considered the alternative. I just decided not to choose it.

kim-kardashian-33I may be infuriated with the expectant, entitled behavior of people who have no real struggles yet continue to complain. I may be inspired to punch the newsstands at the “issues” of the rich and famous. I might scream at my computer bitterly when I read about corporations getting tax refunds while the rest of us drown in reality. I may be livid with the illegal behavior of someone who chooses to break into my car and steal my life but I can’t give up. What’s the point of that?

My Dad told me how proud he was of how I’d “handled” the situation and I burst into tears. I felt like an imposter just like I do when people tell me I’m “brave” to deal with my disease. I don’t deserve the praise. Half the time I feel like I’m barely holding it together. But, I also resent having to live up to that kind of compliment. I didn’t handle it well. I snapped at my child and yelled at my husband. I allowed myself to feel dead inside and I’d teetered on the verge of throwing in the towel. I may not have cried. Perhaps I didn’t wallow in a “this is so unfair, why me” blah blah, but I’d thought terrible things. I’d shut down. I’d considered giving up. Every day is a struggle for us and this particular situation combined with everything else that’s currently on our plates just pushed me over the edge. I needed to have those feelings in order to move past them and being complimented for not having them felt grossly unfair. Compliment me for not wallowing, for moving on the next day, for getting on with it but don’t praise me for breezing past them, because I didn’t nor, should I have been expected to.

It-does-not-matter-how-many-times-you-getUltimately I’ll leave this post and move on. I’ll get new cards and new ID. I’ll replace my credit cards and change my online information. I’ll get a new bag, and new keys, and new codes. I’ll do all I need to in order to reset my life but, I felt the way I did yesterday for a reason. Having your purse stolen sucks but, it shouldn’t break you unless your life is already on the verge. I need to find a way to get my life to a place where terrible, frustrating, inconvenient things can happen and not be devastating.

Terrible, yes. Soul crushing, no.

The fight goes on. I’ll keep you posted.

xo leigh

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* Elle magazine, December 2104 “School of Hard Knocks”.

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