Tag Archives: life

25 Days of Giving Day Twenty-Three: Believe

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In 1992 I was twenty-two years old and living in Chicago. The market was tough for recent college grads, and after a part-time series of temp assignments and waiting tables, I took a job selling industrial products on the south side of town. It wasn’t a career move by any stretch, but it paid the bills and afforded me independence and the opportunity to spread my wings beyond the Kentucky state lines that bordered my childhood.

Anyone who’s visited Chicago in the winter knows it’s cold…complete with a biting, frigid wind that can cut you in half and come back for more before you’ve barely taken a step. It was on this kind of night, having worked late and in a hurry, that I jumped into my car, popped the clutch toward I-94, cranked up some music, and began the long drive home.

Just as the chorus crescendoed, my car started to sputter, gurgle, and lurch. In my haste to pick the right mini-skirt, tights, and oversized sweater that morning I’d forgotten one small detail. To look at my gas gauge. Before completely running out of fuel, I was able to ease my car onto an exit ramp, right in front of this:

Long before rap culture decriminalized the word, Chicago’s Robert Taylor homes were the true definition of “ghetto”. Worse than anything you’ll ever see on The Wire, these gang-riddled, drug-controlled, high-rises were the living, breathing embodiment of a failed social experiment better known as Hell.

There were no mass-market cell phones back then, so in order to get help, I had to walk right into the middle of the most brutal section of the housing development, better known as “The Hole” in my mini-skirt, tights, and not-feeling-so oversized sweater. The streets were busy that night, and for the first time in my life I was clearly part of the minority, the only white girl in a sea of black faces, hardened to the harsh elements, who, like me, were just trying to get where they needed to go. I hurried, one uncertain step after the other, to the first high-rise I came across. Surrounded by darkness, there was a security guard in a low-lit office at the base of the building. He either didn’t see me or didn’t want to be bothered, so I balled my hand into a fist and banged on the bullet-proof window.

“Please, Sir,” I yelled into the howling wind,”Can I use your phone?”

“Ain’t no phone here baby girl,” he answered. “You best keep moving and find somewhere else to be.”

I hesitated, somewhat stunned by his response, and stared through the window, willing him to change his mind. When he crossed his arms and turned to watch his security monitors instead of meeting my gaze, I knew I was truly alone.

With no other choice, I walked back into the dark night. The snow was falling with a hard sense of urgency, and the swirl of faces around me faded in an out, like ghosts. I stumbled and caught myself, the slick pavement beneath me now covered in a sheen of icy snow. Not knowing what else to do I stopped. I looked left, then right, only to see replica after replica of a building that could offer me no shelter. In that moment, surrounded by nameless strangers in a dangerous place no one wanted to own, I lost something critical to finding my way. Hope.

And then something miraculous happened.

“I know you,” I heard from behind as someone caught my elbow in their grasp.

“Excuse me?” I replied. I turned, startled to see an old lady about my grandmother’s age who seemed to have come out of nowhere, bundled up in her winter clothes.

“I saw you from the bus when your car broke down,” she said. “Follow me. I know where to go.”

We didn’t talk. The temperature had plunged to a degree that made my nostrils cringe and shocked my lungs with every breath. But slowly, step after step she led, and slowly, step after step I followed.

After weaving around multiple, desolate buildings, we moved deeper into the projects and came upon a county hospital. I have no idea how we got there and couldn’t replicate the path. Again, there were people everywhere, but I had the acute understanding that no one wanted to offer a hand. Except her.

She led me to a bank of telephones and gave me a quarter.

“Call 9-1-1” she instructed, “and tell them where to find your car.” I did exactly as she said. When I turned to thank her for the quarter, for taking time to help me, and for somehow seeing me when I felt invisable, she was gone. She had literally disappeared into thin air. Standing in her place was a police officer, who again took me by the elbow and said three simple words: “You’re going home.”

Sometimes I sit on the right side of God, and other days on the left. On that night, however, I was fully in his sight. I know, with a whole heart and eyes wide open that an angel was sent to me in the moment when I needed her most. I don’t know why or how, but something much bigger than me was at play, and it was an experience so profound that I have no choice but to believe.

I believe in the greater good of humanity. I believe that no matter the circumstance, everyone on this earth has the power within to rise up. I believe in equality. I believe in the kindness of strangers. I believe that tomorrow holds the possibility of being better than today. I believe life is worth living. I believe in me. I believe in you. The Giving Challenge for today is to Believe.

25 Days of Giving Day Twenty-Two: Spill Your Secrets

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When I was young, I was the queen of the white lie. My intentions were good, but somehow the result often ended up being…bad. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become more comfortable in my skin and with my beliefs. With age comes experience, confidence, and a certain nonchalance known as having better things to do than worry about what everyone else thinks. Wisdom is the benefit to those wrinkles around your eyes that no cream or bovine cellular fluid injection can erase, an advantage that can only by earned over time.

With that thought in mind, today’s Act of Kindness is to Spill a Secret. To get things started, here’s one of mine:

In 2012, I believed I had a real chance to appear on The X Factor. Finally, there was a show willing to highlight the talent of a not so young but not too oldish aspiring songstress. Like me. For a full five days in a row, I pulled out my son’s amp and microphone and sang The Dixie Chicks’ Wide Open Spaces over and over and over in the playroom while the kids were at school. Then one day, my husband came home from work early, secretly recorded what was to be my audition tape, and tweeted it to the world. He didn’t get any retweets, so I locked myself in our bedroom for two days and cried. O.K., that was a lie. Not a white one. A real one. The truth is I realized that years and years of no vocal training except singing in the shower wasn’t gonna cut it, plus the weird synthesizer effects I was using to make my voice sound like Natalie Maines gave me a headache and made my dog whine. So I gave up and started serial watching Doomsday Preppers instead.

My destiny.

When you share your secrets you make yourself more vulnerable, transparent, real, and best of all, give all your friends something to talk about at the Girl’s Night Out they somehow forgot to tell you about. Give it a try. Just lay it out on Facebook that you’ve got a Chucky doll collection, because anyone who blocks you after the fact wasn’t a true friend anyway. You won’t regret it unless you’ve committed a felony, in which case, you might want to skip today’s act of kindness and catch up on back episodes of Snapped.

That’s not my house.

 I, Gemini Girl, have interrupted my non-existent programming to bring you the 25 Days of Giving Challenge. Please join me in my quest, over the next 25 days(ish), to make people happy. I’ll share stories of giving escapades that will be sure to wow, delight, or at least not annoy anyone who chooses to participate. Each Day of Giving will be conveniently brought to you via email if you follow this blog. And if you’re already a follower? Pass it onto your friends. If we work together we can change the world, or at least dramatically improve my hit ratio.

25 Days of Giving Day Eighteen: Make Someone Laugh

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The Giving Challenge for today is to Make Someone Laugh. If you’re not feeling particularly funny, just tickle someone, preferably not a cop, priest, or your parole officer.

xmas

One from the archives. Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

 I, Gemini Girl, have interrupted my non-existent programming to bring you the 25 Days of Giving Challenge. Please join me in my quest, over the next 25 days, to make people happy. I’ll share stories of giving escapades that will be sure to wow, delight, or at least not annoy anyone who chooses to participate. Each Day of Giving will be conveniently brought to you via email if you follow this blog. And if you’re already a follower? Pass it onto your friends. If we work together we can change the world, or at least dramatically improve my hit ratio.

25 Days of Giving Day Four: Find the Silver Lining

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When I was two years old my parents got divorced. I was lucky in a way, because at the time I was too young to understand that separation, at it’s most basic level, is the physical manifestation of pain being split in two.

By the time I’d turned five Mom had remarried. We left Atlanta, where our entire family was from, and moved to Louisville, where I ultimately grew up. Back then, fathers didn’t have the same parenting rights as today, so with a brand new puppy under one arm and a pack of candy cigarettes in my hand, I waved goodbye to my father as my stepdad’s sleek, silver Thunderbird rolled down the driveway, through Tennessee (“See Rock City!”), and toward a new life.

As time went by, pieces of my old family became seedlings for another, and when my amazing baby brother was born, my new family was complete, but in a different kind of way. There was someone else present who, even though he wasn’t part of this new unit, was still in the mix because he was attached to me.

My father.

I wouldn’t say things were perfect between my mother and father, because even when bad memories fade they leave a scar. But Mom always held the door open for visits, and my father never missed an opportunity to take any time with me that she was willing to share.

As years passed and I became increasingly comfortable with my family dynamics, I began to see myself as lucky, even though it wasn’t always easy. I was a Whitten and everyone else I lived with was a Logan, I felt like a misfit in the world of seemingly perfect families on my block, and I sometimes had to paint a smile on my face when all I wanted to do was cry. But intermingled with the sad was something that no other kid I knew could match. Not only did I have one great dad, I had two, with different but equally important ideas, strengths, influences, opinions, and dreams…and one huge commonality. They both loved me, in a way that only a father can. Times two.

So the challenge, for Day Four, is to find the silver lining in a bad situation or event. In some unfortunate incidents it simply doesn’t exist, which, regrettably, is the true definition of tragedy. But in many cases, good can be salvaged from bad. If you can find happiness in something that at first only brought pain, it’s a gift to yourself that never goes away.

Divorce, like life, is complicated. It’s messy and raw, and carefully drawn colors end up bleeding outside the lines. Sometimes though, if we’re lucky, the things that hurt most end up helping us in the end.

I, Gemini Girl, have interrupted my non-existent programming to bring you the 25 Days of Giving Challenge. Please join me in my quest, over the next 25 days, to make people happy. I’ll share stories of giving escapades that will be sure to wow, impress, or at least not annoy anyone who chooses to participate. Each Day of Giving will be conveniently brought to you via email if you follow this blog. And if you’re already a follower? Pass it onto your friends. If we work together we can change the world, or at least dramatically improve my hit ratio.

How Real Winners Turn March Madness Into a Billion Dollar Payday

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It’s that time of year again when the U.S. male population exists solely on pork rinds, queso, and Miller Light, worker productivity falls 3,000%, and people stop spitting on math majors.

“I just love March Madness!” Image via lifestyleet.com

That’s right, March Madness is here, and with it, your chance to skim a billion dollars right out of Warren Buffet’s polyester pants by creating a perfect NCAA tournament bracket.

Who needs a bitcoin when you have a million freaskishly huge bags of cash? Image via gstatic.com

Everyone knows that with the right guidance and a lot of tequila, a billion dollar bracket is yours for the making. Because Gemini Girl likes winners (and pretty people with shiny teeth) I’m here to show you a foolproof method to do something considered statistically impossible by everyone at Berkshire Hathaway, Yahoo, and His Emperorship, USSR Czar Vladimir Putin (er, I mean President of Russia and someday soon, the world).

“I pick Republic of Florida to win tourney, then I get on boat, invade nude beaches, and steal most happiest place on earth for Mother Russia!” Image via businessinsider.com

A Number’s Just a Number Until it’s a Winning Powerball Ticket

Everyone thinks bracket rankings are meaningful, but Gemini Girl says don’t believe the hype. Just because Florida’s only been to the tournament once (1 Florida) and Coastal Carolina’s been, like, sixteen times (16 Coastal Car.) doesn’t necessarily mean the Coastal Chanticleers should be in your final four. Why? Because their mascot is from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and everyone who took A.P. English knows that book blows. Any team represented by a Middle English rooster is a guaranteed first round loser, plus, the only mascot I’d ever put money on is Smeagol.

Smeagol invested his tourney winnings in Lebron James. Image via dailypicksandflicks.com

Never Underestimate the Well-Endowed Team

Not the cheerleaders, the school with serious cash on hand. Cheerleaders are athletes too so stop laughing.

They’re real, and they’re spectacular! Image via cracked.com

Anyway, everyone knows that in order to build a successful college basketball program, you have to provide recruits with a lot of Benzies, babes, and weed. Not every deep-pocket donor feels comfortable carpooling to the local strip club with a freshman phenom though, and that’s where an institution’s endowment really comes into play. According to Forbes magazine, Harvard has more money than the entire GDP of the USSR (we all know that’s exactly where Putin is going, so don’t be a hater).

“First I take Republic of Mickey Mouse then I sneak up lazy river to take capital of U.S.A…Las Vegas!” Image via businessinsider.com.

If you ask Gemini Girl, deep-pocket donors = recruit lap dances = Letters of Intent  = guaranteed Final Four appearance. Get it? All those math majors who think anyone cares about their groundbreaking algorithms can suck it. Combine Harvard’s greenbacks with the fact that they’ve appeared in the tournament twelve times (12 Harvard), and you’ve got a combo that’s screaming final four.

This dude loves throwing cash around at Juicy Lucy’s, but don’t tell the Tea Party I said so. Image via datingolders.com.

When in Doubt, Go to Your Happy Place

Sometimes the NCAA men’s selection committee throws everyone for a loop and chooses a team no one’s ever heard of, like Nebraska, probably because Warren Buffet paid them all off. A lot of people don’t realize it’s even a state, and since most guys I know cut geography in high school to go smoke weed with the freshman basketball phenom, things can get a little confusing when trying to make winning first round picks that include areas of the country which might not even be real.

Not a basketball phenom. Image via perezhilton.com

In order to maximize efficiency and minimize the likelihood of the dude in the cubicle next to you who wears a Dennis Rodman Bulls jersey to work, like, every day calling you a poser, use Gemini Girl’s Word Association Tool to make perfect first round tourney picks.

“I’m so Russdiculous!” Image via baconsports.com

Example 1

Memphis: Elvis

George Washington: Wig

Word Association Winner? Elvis

 Example 2

Oregon: Duck

BYU: Polygamy

Word Association Winner? Polygamy

Example 3

Colorado: Weed

Pittsburgh: Blah

Word Association Winner? Weed

“March whhaaattt?” Image via thejointshop.blogspot.com

It’s like, freakishly easy, right?

So there you have it. As soon as you gather all of your well-endowed friends at a random happy place to buy a winning lottery ticket you’re pretty much guaranteed a perfect tournament bracket. But please, don’t tell anyone that Gemini Girl gave you the winning edge. Tell everyone. Then cut me in on 15% of your pre-tax earnings and get me an autographed picture of Warren Buffet (but if you have to use the Word Association Winner tool in an either/or scenario, I’ll take the cash).

***

If you’d like to fill out a 2014 NCAA Men’s Tournament bracket and win $1,000,000,000, go here: How to fleece Warren Buffet!

If you’d like to find the closest strip club to your office, go here: Don’t tell my girlfriend!

If you think Nebraska is ground zero for paranormal activity, go here: Nebraska is for losers!

This is a Simple Story About Love

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All a mother wants, above and beyond anything else in life, is for her child to be happy. It’s a subliminal inclination fueled by emotion, like the echo of a throb…a primal instinct driven by that first, curious flutter in the womb.

And it never goes away.

My grandmother is no different from any other mother in this respect, even though her youngest was born with an umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. Unable to breathe, my Aunt Micki was rushed to a nurse instead of Grandmother’s open arms while doctors worked to change Micki’s color from a pallid shade of blue to something that looked a little more like life.

Micki survived only to suffer her first seizure when she was nine months old. It was the earliest of many signs that something about her seemed different. Abnormal. Uncommon. Not right.

As months turned into years, “different” transitioned to “retarded,” a term loaded with so much meaning that it overflowed, creating a non-navigable chasm between Micki and other kids her age. Words can be transformative in both good ways and bad, and “retarded” became a life-size label that would shade just about everything she did, starting with the length of the bus she boarded for school.

Both Grandmother and Micki learned to move under a cloak of filtered light that could only throw shadows on the stolen glances and downcast eyes of the world at large. Yet in those everyday moments where growth can’t really be measured, the bond between mother and daughter grew.

Given enough time, life will teach you that the only thing you can count on is change. Yet Micki’s role never has. She is and always will be my grandmother’s constant companion. Not her retarded companion, just a loving daughter and friend.

When my mom left home for college, Micki stayed. When my uncle took the same path seven years later, Micki stayed. When my grandfather died of a heart attack at the age of fifty-one, Micki stayed.

We don’t use the word “retarded” anymore, or at least, we don’t admit it when we do. From my grandmother’s perspective, that word has always misrepresented her youngest child. If you ask, she’ll say Micki came into the world just the way she was supposed to be.

Today, at almost ninety-three, the time-honored light in Grandmother’s eyes is fading. She’s more feeble now than even a few years ago, and bones that used to bend under the weight of life now break. Yet she pauses and lingers longer than most because her remaining purpose sits beside her, quietly holding her hand. Theirs is silent proof that under the right conditions, the narrative of a love story can last forever.

My grandmother will tell you that she’s here today because of youngest child. Not her abnormal, uncommon, retarded child, but her sweet, loving, beautiful daughter.

She’s not a surgeon, or a star, or even that girl from high school you wish you still knew. Yet if you ask Micki if she’s happy, she’ll nod her head and reply, “Yes. Yes I am.”

You don’t have to ask Grandmother the same question. The answer is obvious in the way she looks at her daughter, without bias or pity or doubt. To a mother, a child is simply a child and love is just love. Micki is her life’s greatest gift. We should all be so lucky.

On October 5, 2010, President Obama signed legislation requiring the federal government to replace the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” in many areas of government. This measure, known as Rosa’s Law, strips the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from federal health, education, and labor policy. According to the World Health Organization, about 15 percent of the world’s population — or 785 million people — has a significant physical or mental disability. 

For anyone accustomed to my attempts at more humorous, light-hearted posts, I’ll be back next week to talk about either what I found in my neighbor’s trash, or the time I spent in my version of prison, or both. These topics aren’t remotely related, but probably should be.

Why I’m Not Writing

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Why I’m Not Writing

In case anyone out there is wondering, I’m writing my first post in months about why I haven’t written a post in months.

It turns out that when you’re an unpaid writer creating content for millions of worldwide websters who surf the information superhighway in the middle of the night when they should probably be arguing with their spouse, there’s a lot that can get in the way of your craft. Like laundry. And in-laws. And naps.

My youngest enjoys doing laundry almost as much as me.

My youngest enjoys doing laundry almost as much as me.

But either Freud or my mom or maybe Donald Trump said good habits can be made in a matter of weeks, so I’m penning a post in an attempt to jumpstart my creative process or at least get a shot at a spot on the next Celebrity Apprentice. I sort of consider myself famous because have a lot of blog followers from India. It’s true so don’t be jealous. Or a hater. Hating on my international success overexposes your smile lines, which, according to Priscilla Presley, makes you look old. Priscilla prefers to look like a melty wax impression of herself, which is kind of cool if you’re into creepy Barbies.

I can’t move my face. Image via img.ibtimes.com

Reason Number One: I’m training for a half marathon

I said a half. Not a full. Running 26.2 miles is for crazy cyborgs with bionic heel strikes, like the ones who cut you off at Costco with a flatbed full of frozen kale, quinoa, and hemp seed right before they mow you down in the parking lot in their brand new Teslas en route to the neighborhood oxygen bar.

That’s my neighbor announcing her marathon finish time at last year’s community garage sale. Image via indiancarbikes.in

I’m not one of those people.

First of all, I like to eat real food, like bacon and Tang. Plus I drive the equivalent of a mobile meth lab, and by the time I pack up the trunk and ease into traffic, the marathoners have already supercharged their batteries, popped a heroine-like energy supplement, and are halfway up Pikes Peak. I’m not saying bionic people are addicts, but every marathoner likes to win, even if the side effects include an alkaline aftertaste and unsightly tooth decay.

This is where I like to cook.

This is where I like to cook.

I, on the other hand, am not in it to win it, but to log a respectable pace and skip the kids’ swim meet. Plus I could use a new t-shirt. Running takes time though, and like every girl of a certain age who drank formula as a baby instead of vitamin-enriched breast milk, I have to train. A lot.

Reason Number Two: I’m cleaning the house.

Anyone from India or maybe Sri Lanka who’s taken the time to read my posts knows I’ve never been a dog person. Until I got a dog, that is, and now I’m not so much a dog person as a my dog person. I’m a my dog person because my dog is awesome, and I really like fantastic things. Like tequila. Everyone who’s anyone in the canine industry knows my dog is bionic, and everyone who knows me will tell you I secretly wish I was bionic even though I’ll never admit it on account of all of those doped-up long distance runners.

I can’t move my face. Image via takethemagicstep.com

Anyway, my dog and I are pretty much a perfect match with one exception. He has a lot of hair. I don’t particularly like hair in inappropriate places which includes but isn’t limited to take out, hotel pillows, my chin, and Donald Trump. The presence of hair on any of the aforementioned surfaces should be illegal. Like redneck reality shows and Bruce Jenner.

I can’t move my face. Image via aceshowbiz.com

But because I respect the Bill of Rights and love my dog, I spend a lot of time cleaning. This attention to detail is better known as analosity, which I didn’t think was a word until I found it on urbandictionary.com. I’m pretty sure the definitions on urbandictionary are written by high-functioning OxyContin addicts who post unbelievable marathon finish times on Facebook for all those high school girls who beat them out for homecoming court to see, but I could be wrong.

Status Update: “Ran Chicago in 3:40 and smoked Dr. Oz. at the finish. Take that losers!” Image via jenx67.com

I thought I’d deal with a couple of shedding seasons and get right back to training for my race and loading up on glucosamine supplements at Costco. It turns out, however, that a shedding season, in dog years, is really all day for the rest of your life. Every dog person knows this, but since I’m a my dog person at heart and I ignore everyone who talks about canine bowel movement suppository brands at dinner parties when I just want to have a cocktail and chill, I’m pretty much screwed.

That's my leg.

That’s my leg.

Reason Number Three: The kids are out of school.

Anyone with children who might read this understands that after all the training, vacuuming, and sprinting from those crazy-eyed runners with fake teeth like Gary Busey (who doesn’t necessarily exercise but is probably connected to Bruce Jenner on Facebook), I have to feed my kids. Hence the trip to Costco that started this whole thing. This no-writing thing, that is.

I can’t move my face. Image via siO.twimg.com

So I may be back next week and I may not. It all depends on how I finish the race and whether or not my kids eat those roasted seaweed snacks I keep putting under their pillows at night. Time is cheap but college isn’t, and if I’m to ever have the bionic offspring I deserve? I’ve gotta start now.

 

Why The World Needs Heroes

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In the aftermath of a tragic moment, a hero can be born.

Heroes propel themselves from the ordinary to the extraordinary not in what they choose to do under ideal circumstances, but by what they can’t stomach avoiding in moments of immeasurable stress.

We need heroes when our world is shifted off its axis because they’re willing to pick up the pieces, no matter how crushed, damaged, or broken, and put them back together.

Heroes move while the rest of us sit mute in stunned silence. They do what others can only manage to watch. Heroes don’t have time to take pictures because they’re already working from inside the frame.

We need heroes because there is exponential strength in numbers.

If only for a moment, heroes ignore their ids and embrace their super-egos. They reject selfish and replace it with selfless. They sprint from the spotlight toward the trenches. They don’t think. They act.

We need heroes because they remind us that we’re all part of a tapestry much more rich and meaningful than the narrative of our individual lives.

Heroes don’t just rise to the occasion. They rewrite the rules.

We need heroes to inspire us. Generosity is contagious and grows without boundaries under the right conditions.

Heroes prove, by their humanitarian feats of kindness in the face of uncertainty, destruction, and death, that when the scale is tipped between good and evil, good always prevails.

We need heroes because they choose love over hate.

Heroes stand up for those who have fallen.

We need heroes because they are the living definition of patriotism and are the antidote to cowardice.

Heroes run to the places everyone else is trying to escape.

We need heroes because they make us believe in silver linings.

Heroes aren’t comic book characters pre-determined to walk the earth as Gods. They’re humans with flaws and frustrations. But in that moment when they choose to be something more? They engage. They are selfless. They serve. They overcome.

The world needs heroes because they remind us, in moments of bewilderment, confusion, and pain, that maybe, if confronted with an unexpected test of compassion for our fellow brothers and sisters, we could be heroes too.

If you would like to help the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, please contact the American Red Cross or The Salvation Army. Both organizations are providing much-needed support to survivors and first responders.

Gemini Girl on Hackers, Weight Loss, and The Ever-Changing Silhouette of Madonna’s Face

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Dear Friends and Family,

My email has been hacked twice in the past week. After studying the link sent repeatedly to my entire contact list, it seems some covert ring in Shanghai is under the impression I have considerable influence over anyone trying to lose a few pounds.

Based on my newly found infamy, I’d like to set the record straight.

1. I don’t believe in weight loss products.

2. I don’t think you need to lose weight.

3. If you think you need to lose weight, please don’t use any of the scams that Jack Dong, aka Wang Dong, aka, UglyGorilla, aka notorious member of the Chinese hacker group Pwned has sent you via my email account.

That’s the infamous hacker group Pwned. Just kidding, it’s Harvard’s 2013 graduating class. Just kidding, it’s Brad and Angelina’s home security detail. Image via rfa.org.

4. No one can lose twelve pounds in five days without sacrificing a couple of vital organs.

That’s your liver on diet pills. Just kidding, it’s the liver of the oldest goat on the planet. Just kidding, it’s Tom Cruise’s dinner. Image via path.upmc.edu.

5. If you drink more Slim Fast than water, feel free to replace a healthy regiment of weight lifting and running with these awesome alternatives: constipation, headaches, loose stools, gas, bloating, abdominal discomfort, and intense hunger.

That’s Madonna after a 30-day Slim Fast cleanse. Just kidding, it’s Mike Tyson in drag. Just kidding, it’s your worst nightmare. Image via gstatic.com.

6. If you drink more tequila than Slim Fast, please check out this link: http://www.aa.org/.

7. Fasting is a great way to lose weight, as long as you believe that your 3:00 a.m. trip to kitchen to clear out the Cool Ranch Doritos, life-size chocolate Easter bunny, and an entire box of Saltines was just a dream.

That’s what I like to binge on late at night. Just kidding, it’s a culinary creation made from fish eggs, ramen, and bacon grease on Chopped. Just kidding, it’s a fetus. Image via dishola.com.

8. Avoid any diet plans containing the  words “clinical trial,” “Kardashian,” and “alkaline”.

9. There is no cream you can rub into your body to lose weight, unless it’s creamed gasoline, in which case weight loss will be pretty much confined to your top three layers of skin.

10. If you really want to lose weight, I highly recommend a mid-life crisis.

That's me, totally stressed because I somehow lost my Burberry credit card invite.

That’s me during a mid-life crisis. Just kidding, it’s me after discovering all the Cool Ranch Doritos are gone. Just kidding, it’s Mike Tyson.

My sincere apologies for any disruption or inconvenience my errant emails from Wang Dong have caused.

Stacie, aka Gemini Girl

Ode to An ’80s Tan

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It’s that time of year again, when families with an average of 1.86 children* and access to some type of motorized vehicle migrate south for a week of fun in the sun, or rather, hopefully not killing each other while suffocating under three layers of UVB protective clothing.

I can’t help but get a little nostalgic as I pack a dozen bottles of hand sanitizer, ear buds, and my candy cane shiv for the flight to Florida. Things were much simpler when I was a kid, and quite frankly, more tan.

I will cut you if you take the last Grey Goose orange vodka mini-bottle on the plane. Image via Flickr.com

Despite repeated warnings from the Surgeon General and my preternaturally aged hands, I love the sun. In my book? Tan is good, and every single white-bellied resident of Cleveland playing cornhole on the beach this spring proves my point (by the way, if you happen to be a Facebook Robber and are casing my house, good luck getting through the copious piles of laundry, Halloween candy wrappers, and discarded LIVESTRONG wristbands blocking all points of entry).

This is a cornhole tournament. On the beach. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. Image via pressofatlanticcity.com

When I was young, we didn’t have enough money to fly the friendly skies, so we drove to Florida for spring break in The Grey Ghost, our family’s unaffectionate nickname for my dad’s sometimes air-conditioned, often not, Thunderbird. With a piece of masking tape cutting the back seat in half and delineating sides that dare not be crossed for fear of losing a limb, my brother and I played the license plate game to pass time, which pretty much sucked after about fifteen minutes because every single car headed south was from Ohio.

Things changed once we crossed the Georgia-Florida border, though. With empty bags of pork rinds at our feet and the wind in our hair, we knew we’d arrived at a mystical place filled with lightning bugs, fudgesicles, and an unusually large amount of seedy lounges advertising Elvis impersonators.

Is that a camel toe you’re wearing or are you just happy to see me? Image via zonamilitar.com.

We all piled into one room at a value-brand version of a Holidome, and Mom doled out the quarters she’d saved all year long so we could have whatever we wanted from the vending machines. Eating Taco flavored Doritos in bed while watching Saturday Night Live was nothing short of awesome, and as soon as I could see sunlight filtering through the curtains the next morning, I was out the door with my tube of Bain de Soleil, a Teen Beat magazine, and a dream.

This was my dream when I was a kid. In many ways, it still is.

Back then, a tan meant you were going somewhere in life, like the mall, to get an Orange Julius and some sweet new parachute pants. Now, being tan can still take you places, but it’s pretty much limited to your dermatologist’s office, usually for some minor outpatient surgery to get a spot of precancerous basal cell carcinoma removed from your nasal septum.

This too could be you if you stay in the sun too long or inhale a lot of recreational drugs. Image via 4.bp.blogspot.com.

Today, my family boards a plane to go on vacation, which is great, except for the aforementioned need to carry a concealed weapon that looks like a piece of half-eaten Christmas candy. And the ear buds that plug into something that, while providing entertainment, makes us more co-travelers than anything else. And the lines.

In response to an overwhelming cry for change (mostly from parents), the airline industry will now allow you to kennel your children and buy a seat for your dog.

Hence the nostalgia.

But the only thing you can count on in life is change, so like every other pasty mother I know, I’ve packed the SPF 300 and a little something just for me that’s stashed away in the recesses of my luggage. No. It isn’t a baggie filled with the medicinal marijuana you can now buy on every street corner in Colorado to enjoy with your Caramel Macchiato before a great day at the beach.

It’s a bottle of  Hawaiian Tropic Diamond Strength Dark Tan Accelerator.

Apparently, my parents only had enough money to buy sunscreen for my little brother, Macho Man Randy Savage.

Apparently, my parents only had enough money to buy sunscreen for my little brother, Macho Man Randy Savage.

Old habits die hard, and if youth is wasted on the young, I’m pre-qualified to appreciate every fine line coming my way.

*According to the 2000 Census, the average number of children in families was 1.86. Apparently, a child isn’t considered whole until it threatens to run away unless you lift the ban on smart phones after 9:00 p.m.

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