Me Too: My Experiences With Sexual Harassment

Me Too: My Experiences With Sexual Harassment

The recent Harvey Weinstein scandal has resonated with women everywhere. It’s been amazing to see so many brave women come out in support of each other. It’s also amazing to see sexual assault and harassment in general being brought to light and denounced more so […]

That Time I Set Bill Clinton’s Table On Fire

That Time I Set Bill Clinton’s Table On Fire

One afternoon in 2005, I was browsing for freelance gigs on Craigslist when one caught my attention.”$18-$20 PER HOUR-EXPERIENCED CATER WAITERS AND EVENT STAFF WANTED. MUST BE OVER 21 AND OWN FULL TUXEDO.” Well I certainly wasn’t experienced and had no tuxedo, but I WAS […]

“Never Again”. From Columbine To Route 91

“Never Again”. From Columbine To Route 91

I was a Freshman in high school when the Columbine shooting happened. April 20th, 1999 changed everything about going to school. For the rest of the year, we had emergency drills, and were sent home for many copycat threats that followed. Counselors were on hand in the days following, if anyone needed to talk. Trench coats were banned and the media scared us into thinking that anyone wearing one, or listened Marilyn Mansion might just shoot our heads off. Though oddly, metal detectors were not put in.
I had never thought about getting killed at school before Columbine happened. It was certainly a scary thought that I could be sitting in Math class and be dead a moment later.9/11 happened as I started my Senior year of High School. By the time I graduated it felt like America’s innocence had been lost, and I was graduating into a whole new world. If America were a VHS, I would have rewound it into the innocent, naive past and paused there forever. But just like a movie playing, the world moved forward. All of those promises we made after Columbine were lost. America gave thoughts and prayers, said “never again” and “things need to change”.

So why are we here we are again, 19 years after we first said “never again”? Mass shootings have only continued, each one topping the last as the worst shooting in American history. Sandy Hook, Chattanooga, Charleston, Virginia Tech, Newtown, multiple movie theaters, Oregon State, Pulse Nightclub and most recently the Las Vegas, Route 91 concert. In 2017 alone 1,719 people have died in mass shootings and 6,510 have been injured. Even with the continuous deaths from gun violence, our government has done NOTHING to restrict gun access. Former President Obama once said, “There is no other advanced nation on earth that tolerates multiple shootings on a regular basis and considers it normal.”
As we all know the second amendment protects the right of the people to “keep and bear arms”. Gun backers continuously trot this out as some sort of undeniable evidence that there should be no gun regulations. It says, in full: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
But let’s keep in mind, the second amendment was written in 1791. Back then things were vastly different than they are in 2015. For instance, there were only 3.9 million people in the United States. You could own a slave. You could sell your daughter as dowry. There were no semi-automatic weapons that sprayed 50 bullets per minute. Indians attacked often and there were no police forces in the then 13 colonies to protect citizens. Clearly our country has grown and progressed, and our gun control laws need to follow it’s lead.

Many gun owners equate gun control with the idea that their guns will be taken away. This is not the case. The GOP likes to fear monger this idea, and not educate Americans on how these regulations would actually work. This is because they receive a TON of money from the gun lobby. We are talking over 18.6 million on various campaigns. Though 90% of Americans support a simple background check for every gun purchase, the right wing congress values their funding over the lives of every man woman and child in this country. But, not to worry. If god forbid one of your friends or family every get shot, they will tweet their thoughts and prayers for you.

Let’s be clear. Having effective gun control laws in place will not take away guns. Americans will still be able to hunt with them, own & buy them. The laws we need so desperately would simply make it harder to obtain a gun. This means, if you piss off a crazy person, they can’t just walk to the nearest Walmart, buy as many semi-automatic weapons as they want, and massacre you and your entire office staff. I can’t imagine why anyone would be ok with that idea.

So why can’t America grow some balls and follow the lead of other countries who have taken a stand against these shootings?

Lets take a look at Australia, Norway, and Great Britain.

After Australia’s Port Arthur massacre in 1996 which killed 35 people, strict gun control laws were put in place. The new legislation prohibited sale of semi-automatic and rapid fire guns. They required a 28 day waiting period to obtain a gun. Firearm owners had to be 18, complete a safety course, and have a genuine reason for owning a gun. Reasons could include sport shooting, hunting or occupational requirements. The amount of ammunition sold was restricted, and gun licenses could be restricted if evidence of mental illness was found. They also used revenue from a small tax hike to buy back over 700,000 fire arms. By 2012, suicide rates had dropped by 80%. Studies show the laws have not ended gun violence, but have decreased it in huge numbers. There hasn’t been a school shooting

In response to the 1996 Dunblane school shooting, the UK completely banned sale of semi-automatic and pump action firearms. They began to require gun registration, and banned private handgun ownership in mainland Britain. Though the drop in gun violence wasn’t as significant as it was in Australia, the number of killing are still less than 10% of those that happen in America.

In Norway in 2011, a shooter mass murdered 69 people on Utoya Island attending youth camp. Gun ownership and ammunition sales were strictly regulated in response, and a full ban on the type of semi-automatic weapon used was put into place. There are now 32 guns to every 100 people in Norway, and 89 per 100 in the United States.

I think the important thing we can take from these three countries, is that they took action. Yes, everyone knows that taking the same precautions these countries have will not end gun violence. There will always be a way to get guns illegally, even with laws. That old saying that guns don’t kill people, people kill people is true. But a person with a semi-automatic and unlimited ammunition can do a hell of a lot more damage than someone with a knife can. If implementing some restrictions can save the live of even one innocent victim, why wouldn’t we?

Despite what your views on gun control are, I hope there’s one thing I hope we can all agree on. School and massacre shootings are a tragic, horrific thing. They should make you angry. They should make you livid. As an American citizen and human they should make you want to stand up and shout for a change. Because if nothing changes, we will be here in another 19 years still saying “never again.”

Yahtzee With Mrs Wallace

Yahtzee With Mrs Wallace

When I was a little girl I lived in a big apartment complex with over thirty  units. Because of the close proximity, most of the neighbors knew each other, or at least knew of each other. One of our neighbors downstairs was an old woman […]

I Miss America

I Miss America

I haven’t written a blog here in forever. When Donald Trump got sworn in on January 20th, it felt like the world was going to end.In a way, I feel like America as we knew it actually did come to an end on January 20th.I […]

Legally Changing My Name In NYC

Legally Changing My Name In NYC

Just like the girl in Mamma Mia, I grew up hearing about how I had three possible Dads. Yep, my Mom got around.  So when I was born, I was given the same last name as my unmarried mother for obvious reasons. To make matters more complicated, that last name wasn’t actually her family (aka maiden) name. Confused yet? 

The story goes, my mother had gotten married at sixteen years old and changed her last name. The guy turned out to be crazy, and ended up becoming extremely abusive to her. She left him a few years after, and at one point he showed up and put a gun to her head telling her he would kill her if she didn’t go back to him. My mother says, she told him to go ahead and shoot her-but he didn’t. She never saw him again. 

That relationship ended in divorce a few years later in the late 60’s, but my mother never changed her last name back to her birth name. When I was born many years later, I was assigned that last name from her first husband, which was completely meaningless to me family wise. 

Growing up, I would often try to come up with different last names that I liked better. My diary entries as far back as age seven show me signing my last name in over eight different variations. It was very, very obvious that from a young age I was unhappy with my name. Growing up, I hated always having people ask if I was related to so and so who shared my last name, and always having to say no and explain my awkward situation.

By the time I was a teenager I had decided on a few different “stage name” options, but had never thought about legally changing my last name. The process seemed daunting and expensive. So, just like my mother had for so many years, I lived with this last name which had no connection to me.

I did eventually get to meet my real Dad in my early twenties before he passed away, but I didn’t feel the relationship was strong enough to change my last name to his. And since I am very against the patriarchy of women changing their last names at marriage, that was never an option for me to look to in the future. 

So there I sat, over thirty years old and still pining away with this last name I hated. 

Through my years of searching for a random last name to replace my own, I had never found anything that fit or felt just right. The day my new name finally came to me, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was going to change my middle and last name to become Renée Nicole Gray. 
Gray felt more right to me than any of those other last names I had thought of replacing mine with over the years. Because Gray is my actual blood family. My grandparents on my Mother’s side were Gray’s and it was my mothers birth last name. I had been looking everywhere for something that was right in front of me all along. I knew that if I ever make a mark on the world it would be most meaningful to me to have it be with my actual family name. How had it taken me so long to figure this out? 

Because my old last name was a variation of Nicole, everyone had mistakenly called me Nicole my entire life. Heck, I even answered to it sometimes. It felt natural that I would replace my middle name with Nicole since it already felt like my name, as well as an homage to my old one.

I started using my new name on social media and non legal documents for about six months prior to making the legal change. In an odd way, I felt like “me” for this first time in my life. I finally felt proud of my last name because it actually belonged to me. I could finally say, “MAYBE!” when someone asked if i’m related to a Gray. I was also happy to find that the email, Twitter, Website, Instagram etc were all available with my new name. Something I didn’t even have with my old one.

So after my six month trial, I knew I was ready to make things official.

I gathered all of my documents and made my way to Brooklyn court where I submitted my application to the clerk and paid the fee. Changing your name in NYC courts is exactly what you would expect. The staff is rude and doesn’t give a crap, so you have to be patient and make sure you have documents you think you might not need. There were a few things needed like utility bills for proof of address that they did not list on the website as requirements. I had brought it all just incase. The clerk actually seemed disappointed and annoyed he couldn’t send me home like he had the four people ahead of me. The big surprise was, I thought I would be told to come back weeks later, but apparently in NYC seeing the judge happens immediately. I nervously sat in the court room for about an hour waiting for my turn. The judge glanced over my paperwork, signed it and handed it to a clerk for me to sign. I didn’t even have to answer questions. My application was now stamped and approved by the judge. But of course the process couldn’t be just that simple. There were a few more hoops for me to jump through before I could legally be myself.

The next step was going to a clerks office to submit my judge approved papers. The clerk gave me a list of five places I would need to send certified mail notifications of my name change to (including my mother, The DMV, Passport and SS Office). I would also have to pay $35 to publish my name change in the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper. Once this was all done I would need to come back with the photocopies as proof. This would make my name change legal.

I immediately went to the newspaper office across the street to get the ball rolling. While waiting, I met a young man who I had just seen at court. He was overflowing with excitement about his new last name. He told me that his family was from Egypt, but since 9/11 they had suffered extensive discrimination because their last name sounds Muslim. He was only 21 but said he had trouble getting job interviews just because of his name. He told me he was sick of getting pulled aside every time he flies. When I asked him what his new last name was going to be, he beamed and said “Lucas. Because I love Star Wars and it sounds very American.” After finishing our paperwork, we wished each other the best with our fresh starts and went on our way.

About a week later, I hurried back to court with proof of all of my missions completed. A few lines later I was sent to another floor to get my certified name change papers which I would need to change my Passport and all ID’s. I had survived the many levels of bureaucracy and was finally officially, legally a part of my own family! 

But it didn’t end there, the next few weeks of more bureaucracy to change things like my insurance, bank account, Social Security number, license and Passport were also tedious, but very worth it.

When I look back at my 2016, being handed those papers with my new name was by far the most memorable moment of the year. For the first time in my life, I can say that my last name matches my blood, and I now write and say it with pride and meaning.

The Secret To Carrie Fisher’s Famous Hair Buns

The Secret To Carrie Fisher’s Famous Hair Buns

As we say goodbye to beloved icon Carrie Fisher, the one image which we have been seeing the most is that of her as Princess Leia in Star Wars, her most famous role.  Not only will her image live forever in film history, I don’t […]

What I Learned At My First Protest

What I Learned At My First Protest

As I watched the election results roll in on November 8th, my emotions went from optimistic, to hopeful, to completely speechless and horrified. A thick sense of dread came over me when it was announced Donald Trump was officially our new President-elect. It felt like […]

I’ll Be Proudly Voting With My Vagina On Election Day

I’ll Be Proudly Voting With My Vagina On Election Day

I’ll never forget election day 2008. As I stood in line to vote in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, I witnessed such raw emotions on peoples faces as they voted for the first African American president. There was such a palpable sense of pride and joy in that gymnasium that it was contagious. At one point while I was in line, an elderly woman hugged her neighbor and started crying, saying “I never thought i’d see the day.” Later that night when Obama was declared the winner, a party erupted on the streets of NYC. People started streaming from bars, cheering, crying, popping bottles and hugging each other. Obama promised hope, and we were all overflowing with it at that moment. It was like nothing I have ever seen, and I am so glad I was alive to witness that historic day.

Tomorrow, we have the opportunity to witness another equally historic moment by electing the first female President in history. As much as people try to argue that gender is not an important factor in this election, it truly is. On August 18th, 1920 the 19th amendment granted all women the right to vote. On that day we gained the right to no longer be voiceless housewives. Tomorrow, 96 years later, we could finally elect a female President, but it took us 96 years to get on a major party ballot, and that is a long damn time.

Though I believe she is the best candidate for the job, voting tomorrow is about so much more than just Hillary Clinton. It’s about helping to shatter that glass ceiling, not just for my generation but for the women before me who fought for equality, and the baby girls who are too young to even remember this election. While visiting a museum of Presidential portraits recently, it stuck me that the walls were lined with the faces of man after man after man, and we just accept it as the norm. It may be what we all grew up seeing, but it’s time that little girls have someone in those rows of Presidents that looks like them.

We still live in an America where gender inequality and discrimination is alive and well. We still live in a America where women have to fight for equal pay, the right to choose, and many face the difficult task of juggling a career with motherhood while facing workplace discrimination. The fight for equality is far from over, but electing a women who fights for it to our highest leadership role is a damn good start. As I check that ballot box for Hillary tomorrow, i’ll be thinking about how lucky I am to be alive in an era with another progressive, historic election at hand. I’ll also be thinking about Susan B Anthony, Lucy Stone, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the thousands of women who spent their lives fighting for equality so that we could see this day.

“Look at where we are, look at where we started.”–Hamilton 

So let’s all stop trying to act like gender doesn’t matter & electing our first feminist, female president isn’t a really big fucking deal. It’s a huge deal. Tomorrow is bigger than any of us for so many reasons. I hope women across the world are as excited to live through, and celebrate this momentous moment in history as I am.

How I Became a Woman On Live Television

How I Became a Woman On Live Television

The Lithgow Library, Augusta Maine As the child of a broke single parent growing up in Maine, I had to find every free outlet I could to perform. When I was eight years old, my Mom ran out of money to keep me in tap […]

It’s Time Women Stopped Changing Their Last Names At Marriage

It’s Time Women Stopped Changing Their Last Names At Marriage

Despite the many extremely patriarchal and sexist rooted traditions that take place in wedding ceremonies, the most disturbing is when the couple is introduced as “Mr & Mrs Jones”, and everyone claps. It feels to me as if the women has just lost her gender […]

Rockin 9/11!

Rockin 9/11!

In Spring of 2004, I was searching Craigslist for a part time job that would work with my acting class schedule, since I was determined to be a “serious” actress. I stumbled upon an ad for a new museum and event space, which was hiring actors and performers to work both in ticketing and as guides.

I sent an email, and was asked in for an interview that same week. Upon arriving at the venue, I was greeted by the HR manager, Eric. The 12,000 square foot space was near empty at that point, with some art installations and boxes everywhere. It was also really, really bright white. Almost blindingly so. The HR manager bragged for awhile about how he was a website designer for some C list Broadway stars and I pretended to be impressed.

During the interview I was told that the owner of the museum had become rich from being one of the first pioneers to create HDTV. A few months after the attacks he had become obsessed with paying tribute to 9/11 and NYC, as the city revived itself. The museum he was opening would be based around one main attraction: two 80 seat theaters that showcased a fifteen minute HD film recreating the 9/11 attacks, complete with chairs that vibrated and moved. The interactive film experience was going to be called “Rockin’ 9/11!”

If hired as a host, I would be introducing the film every half hour, as well as controlling the lights and managing possible vomiting from motion sickness. Since the museum was just steps away from the tourist and rubble filled former WTC site, they hoped it would draw in enough people to become the next big NYC tourist attraction. At that point no one had made any kind of tribute space or museum for 9/11, and this was long before the official ones were created. Eric told me that they were scheduled to have a soft opening all Summer, and have the Grand Opening on the third anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Sept. 11, 2004. The museum was going to be called “9/11 LIVE!”

The first requirement of me getting this gig was making sure I could handle watching the film. I agreed to watch it before leaving, and was ushered into the very creepy theatre all by myself. The film was really intense-especially since the seats moving and vibrating made you actually “feel” the planes hitting. The lights came up and I exited the theatre to find a man waiting outside who looked almost exactly like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons.

He expectantly asked what I thought of the film. “Wow, that was great- certainly life like!” I said. Mr. Burns introduced himself as the museum owner and creator of the film. Before I left, Eric took some notes about my schedule and told me he looked forward to seeing me at training.

A month later, the staff and museum was assembled for the soft opening and I was working about twenty hours a week steadily. Like most new businesses, they were not having an easy time getting customers in. Eric decided that since it was so slow, he was going to send us out to hit the streets and hand out flyers. A few other employees and myself were not thrilled about this new task. Being one of those annoying flyer people on the streets was not really what we had signed up for.

We were each given piles of hundreds of flyers, split into teams of two and told to walk around the Wall Street Bull area, Battery Park City and Ground Zero to hand them out. “Come see “Rockin 9/11!” we would say as we tried to hand flyers to tourists who mostly ignored us. Once in awhile a local would grab one and be like-“FUCK YOU!” After awhile we got fed up and started dumping the flyers in garbage cans, then coming back to work after spending an hour in an air conditioned Starbucks nearby.

Tourists at the Wall St. Bull

As the Summer continued, it seemed like the museum space was growing and morphing every time I got to work. Life-sized images of WTC rubble appeared on the towering white walls and new merchandise, like hardcover photo books with 9/11 images arrived daily. One day while bored and working at the merch counter, I sifted through one of the photo books. A color photo of a severed foot with the high heel still attached was staring me in the face. Horrified, I slammed the book shut and never opened it again. I could not get the image out of my head for days.

Soon, some press write-ups brought in a slow but steady stream of customers. I was able to start introducing the “Rockin 9/11!” film regularly, and would often hear rumors that the owner would run upstairs to watch the audiences reactions on hidden cameras that were in the theaters. The staff was required to wear walkie talkies while working, and we soon discovered that not only was Mr. Burns able to listen in to everything we said while at work, the place was also loaded with hidden cameras to monitor us at all times.

With every stream of business came new morbid additions and artifacts, and museum began to take on a creepy life of it’s own. It was often quiet and empty inside which added to the overall eeriness. Where ever you looked you could not escape the tragedy that happened just blocks away, not even three years prior. It was a really depressing place to spend 6 hours a day. When my shifts ended, I would exit the 9/11 sensory overload only to have to walk right past the Ground Zero site to get to my train home.

After a few months working here, experiencing “9/11 LIVE!” started to become engraved into my brain. I began to have repetitive 9/11 nightmares that have continued to this day. In my dreams I was either running from the falling buildings, inside a plane that was about to crash into them, or stuck in an elevator inside a tower. I would often wake up from these vivid nightmares, only to head back to work surrounded by imagery and video of that horrible day over and over again.

With the third anniversary of 9/11 swiftly approaching, more staff members had started to quit. Those of us left started fighting over who would have to do the final walk through at night because we were all so creeped out by the place. On Sept 10th, Eric had a brief staff meeting and told us how important   the next day would be to bring in business. It was our make or break day. Because of this he wanted us all out pounding the pavement with flyers and coupons around the ground zero site. We all looked at each other with wide eyes, knowing this might be a really bad idea. Not only were many family members of victims paying respects at the site that day, the place was also swarming with media. None of us really wanted to be seen on CNN advertising a “Rockin 9/11.” We all also needed to keep our jobs. To help motivate us, Eric said we would each get an extra $3 for every ticket sold from a flyer we handed out.
So with our hands full of flyers and coupons, wearing “9/11 Live!” emblazoned t-shirts we headed toward ground zero as a united front of starving actors, clearly willing to do anything to make a buck.

We sheepishly stood around the sidelines of ground zero observing the crazy scene of media, tourists and t-shirt vendors. It didn’t take long before we saw one of the victims family members scream at a guy selling 9/11 postcards. “My brother was murdered here, how dare you make money off of his death?!” One of my co workers who was a go-getter, was the first to try and get some flyers out. The next thing we knew a huge Italian guy had him right by his 9/11 Live! t-shirt threatening him to get the fuck out. The rest of us, who were already not on board with this idea took off back to the museum. Eric was not happy to see us. When we explained that we all might get our asses kicked if we kept trying to hand out flyers at ground zero, he begrudgingly agreed on putting us at another location.

The next day we had our grand opening, and only five people showed up the entire day. We were blamed for not doing a good enough job flyering. The venue still brought in enough income as an event place to sustain a bit longer, but our shifts quickly dried up, and the museum eventually shuttered. I read about the space being sold in 2005. I guess nobody wanted to have a “Rockin 9/11” after all.


The Mystery of Stephen King’s Halloween Candy

The Mystery of Stephen King’s Halloween Candy

Halloween is my very favorite holiday ever. I love it more than Christmas, The 4th of July, or Thanksgiving. When I was a kid Halloween was a huge deal for me. When I was really little, my Mom always spent many hours hand making my […]

Harambe; Better Off Dead Than Alive In A Zoo

Harambe; Better Off Dead Than Alive In A Zoo

By now, we’ve all seen the video and stories. A four year old was clearly not being watched by his loser parents, and slipped into the enclosed Gorilla habitat at the Cincinnati Zoo. This kid had time to get through wires, and over a moat […]

Why the Kardashians are smarter than you

Why the Kardashians are smarter than you

The Kardashian family is one of the most hated families on television. Every time their name is brought up on social media thousands of horrible comments follow. These include death wishes, insults, slut shaming and much more. Usually the nastiest comments come from fat people who look like they got run over by a tractor, or faceless internet trolls.
I’m about to say something that might make you angry. The Kardasians are smarter than you.
That’s right, in the minutes it takes for people to write insults about them on Twitter and Facebook, these bitches have millions rolling in. I’m not ashamed to say I love The Kardashians. I have been watching their reality series religiously for years. They are funny, entertaining and produce a fun show to watch.
So why is it that the world loves to hate this family?
The Kardashians have built their business empire to the point that their name is now a lucritive  brand. A 200 MILLION dollar brand. I can guarantee the internet trolls insulting them will never see that much money in their lifetime. While some attribute their success and fame to the infamous sex tape, that simply isn’t true. Kim even sued after it’s unauthorized release for $5 million. These are not just stupid reality tv stars, the Kardashians are business women who have leveraged their notoriety into very successful investments in a variety of areas.
So how did the Kardashian/Jenner clan get to be so rich? Contrary belief, the majority of their fortune is not generated from the reality series “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.”
The families matriarch Kris Jenner, (who was a flight attendant before marrying Robert Kardashian) is the CEO of Jenner Communications. They didn’t exactly start from nothing, the family was left a $1 Million dollar trust when Robert passed away. As the manager for her children, Kris makes a percentage of their earnings. It is estimated that she makes $5,000 for tweeting about a product and $50,000 for appearances. From motivational speaking, clothing; jewelry lines, video games, books, makeup, endorsements to boutiques these ladies bring in a constant cash flow.
The three sisters Kim, Khloe and Kourtney run several of their own businesses including
   Kardashian Beauty by Kourtney, Kim and Khloé
   Keeping Up With The Kardashians
   Kardashian Kollection (SEARS) $250M in sales
   Kardashian Khaos
   Kardashian Lingerie Kollection (SEARS)               
They also bring in income from many endorsements, photo shoots and three popular spin off shows. 
With a net worth of over $90 million, Kim is rumored to be the most wealthy of the three. In fact, i’d say she is a near genius business women. Here’s why: In 2009 she invested in Shoedazzle which raised $60 million in venture capital, then sold a year later. She made $1.5 million just by selling her wedding photos. She also earns between $10-25 thousand per twitter endorsement. 
Well aware of her marketing power, Kim has broken the internet, and finely tuned her image to become more profitable. In 2014 she released the iPhone game “Kim Kardashians Hollywood”, bringing in over $40 million of the profits in just three months. It’s rumored she will take in over $250 million over the lift of the game. Heck, she even has her own Kimojis. She also gives back, donating 10% of her income to charities worldwide. Take that haters. 

The youngest in the family, Kyle and Kendall Jenner aren’t doing so bad themselves. They have earned over $12 million from modeling, endorsements and creating product lines like Bellami Hair. 

Think what you will about this family, but they deserve a lot more respect than they get. In fact, they are laughing all the way to the bank. Viva Kardashians! 
Could Disney Parks make death as magical as their weddings?

Could Disney Parks make death as magical as their weddings?

Earlier this month Disney World announced that aspiring bridezillas all over the work can now plan to have their dream wedding in front of Cinderella’s castle. For just $75,000, you to can pretend to be a Disney Princess, kiss your prince and live happily ever […]

Life as a Leap Day Baby

Life as a Leap Day Baby

I was born on February 29th-Leap Day.This is a really unique birth date to have and one in which I have a love-hate relationship with.The odds of being a leap day baby are one out of 1,461. For the math nerds: 1,461 equals 365, or the number […]

This coconut cream pie recipe will give you piegasms

This coconut cream pie recipe will give you piegasms

With Thanksgiving and the holiday season just around the corner, I wanted to share the recipe for my favorite coconut cream pie. I promise, it is so good you will get piegasms. Piegasms are better than real orgasms because of leftovers.
The first time I made this pie it knocked my socks off, and i’ve been making it every holiday since.
The best part about this recipe, is how quick it is to make. It also bakes on the stovetop which is great if you have a meal or Turkey cooking in the oven. I highly recommend bourbon to pair both with baking and eating this pie. Enjoy!

Renee’s Coconut Cream Piegasm
Serves 8
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Calories: Probably 10 million. Yolo!

Here’s what you need: 

1 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup of all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
3 cups of milk
4 eggs
3 tablespoons of butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup flaked coconut

1 nine inch pie crust (baked)–(My favorite pie shell to use with this recipe is the pre packaged Graham pie crust. It ads an extra kick of flavor and crunchiness to the pie. It’s also great because i’m lazy and hate making crust from scratch.)

Here’s how to make it!

1-In a large bowl separate your egg yolks from whites. Make sure this is a bowl that can handle heat. You won’t need the egg whites and can toss them, or save them for an omelet the next day like I do:) Beat the egg yolks until fluffy. You’ll need them in a few minutes.

2-Toss a medium size saucepan on the stovetop. Combine your sugar, flour and salt, over medium heat, then slowly stir in the milk. Continue to stir and cook until the mixture is bubbly and thick. DO NOT STOP STIRRING! This part is really important because once you stop, the mixture quickly hardens at the bottom of the sauce pan. I’ve made this mistake before and had to start over. Reduce the heat to low and let cook two minutes more while watching closely to avoid clumping.

3. Pour about 1 cup of the hot mixture into your bowl of egg yolks. Stir together, then pour the yellow mixture back into the sauce pan and bring everything to a gentle boil so you don’t get salmanila. Cook and continuously stir for another two minutes before removing the saucepan from the heat.

4. Stir in your butter, vanilla, and coconut. Pour the filling into the pie crust and boom-you are all done! Like all pie-this is best served with whipped cream. Cover and chill if not serving right away.

I am a coconut lover, so I tend to add additional coconut flakes to the top of my pie. It also makes it look extra pretty.

If you make this recipe, please let me know how it turned out in the comments.

Happy Holidays!

“Never Again.”  From Columbine to Oregon State

“Never Again.” From Columbine to Oregon State

I was a Freshman in high school when the Columbine shooting happened. April 20th, 1999 changed everything about going to school. For the rest of the year, we had emergency drills, and were sent home for many copycat threats that followed. Counselors were on hand […]

Why I threw away my scale

Why I threw away my scale

I used to be in love with my scale. But then I divorced that mother fucker. During the height of my anorexia, getting on a scale was an obsession. I weighed myself between 50-75 times per day. It started out in a normal “healthy” way, […]

Is Donald Trump conspiring to elect Hillary?

Is Donald Trump conspiring to elect Hillary?

Donald Trump. He gives no fucks. He apologizes for nothing and backs down for no one. America loves to hate him, and stupider, crazier shit flies out of his mouth daily. He’s now insulted Mexicans, war hero’s, veterans, and most Republicans. The Des Moines register has called for him to “pull the plug on his side show“, and many think he is making a mockery of the presidential election. 

For every person who think he’s an idiot, double that many like his in your face, point blank style. In fact, in the past few days, his number have surged in the GOP polls. As of this week, 24 percent of registered Republicans favor him-gaining the biggest lead of any GOP candidate. Bush, Christie, Cruz and Paul’s numbers have all been steadily declining in “The Donald’s” wake. These numbers are important because they will determine who will qualify for the first Republican debate on August 6th in Cleveland. Only the top ten will be participating. And let’s be honest-with Trump involved, we ALL cannot wait to see the hot mess that will be. Trump isn’t the only mess to throw his hat in the ring though. From a public standpoint, it appears that the entire Republican party has gone off the rails on a crazy train, Ozzy Osbourne style. 

In Donald’s speech announcing his candidacy, he spilled some serious truth tea about this country and politics. Though i’m a liberal Democrat, I personally loved it. I found it refreshing, because I love people who aren’t afraid to speak their mind. I even told a few people that he was going to make it to the end of this race, which they of course laughed at. Judging by the current numbers, I might still be right. The fact that Trump is getting more media attention than legit politicians speaks volumes about the current state of America. Every day our culture becomes more hashtag, social media, celebrity, and reality TV obsessed than ever. Everyone loves to watch a train wreck, and comedians are rejoicing in the gold mine of material that this GOP race is providing, all thanks to Trump.

During the past few weeks, as Trumps statements have become increasingly ridiculous, more and more people are growing convinced Donald Trump is actually a plant to help the Democratic party. A “double agent” if you will. The conspiracy theories are running rampant online, and some make very valid arguments. Even Al Sharpton has come forward this week with evidence that Trump is a secret Democrat. Past clips of Trump reveal him saying he is a Hillary supporter, that he endorses higher taxes for the wealthy and is “very pro choice”. It is also undeniable that Trump has many deep ties to Democrats. A major democratic fundraiser, Hollywood mogul Ari Emanuel (CEO of William Morris-Endevour) works as Donald’s agent. In 2011 Donald donated $50,000 to Ari’s brother, Rahm Emanuel’s mayoral campaign. Trump has a very long history of writing checks to support Democrats. In addition to donating money to Hillary Clinton in the past, Bill and Hillary were also guests at his last wedding. 

The truth is, Donald Trump is a very smart, very connected man, which leads me to think this all could easily be big act. Trump is smart enough to know that he has a snowballs chance in hell of actually getting into the White House, but no money can buy the kind of press he is getting right now. 
No one seriously running for office would be spewing endless offensive bullshit. Instead of having his speech writers police him, he probably has them writing all of this crazy stuff to get more attention. I’m sure he goes home and laughs at the rise in his numbers, as he gets more offensive. His endless money also ensures that he will not have to drop out of the race as many do, due to lack of donations. 

If the poll’s continue in his favor, he will likely face Hillary in the general election.
Trump’s obnoxious, blunt style basically insures a win for Hillary, or whoever the Democratic nominee is in 2016. You must admit, the “phantom candidate” is a pretty ingenious Shonda Rhimes, Scandal worthy plot. Only time will tell if it works or not, or if he is in fact, just this oblivious. 

Octopuses scare the shit out of me

Octopuses scare the shit out of me

I don’t know when or why it happened, but at a certain point in my life I saw an octopus and almost shit myself. There is something about the unnatural number of legs covered in suctions cups that just makes me want to crawl out […]

Getting an IDNYC may be free, but not easy

Getting an IDNYC may be free, but not easy

Last week I received a mailing at my apt that read “YO SOY NYC es la nueva tarjeta de identificacion gratis para todos los residentes de Nueva York.” Luckily the flip side was in English. This postcard informed me that there was a brand new, […]

Under the rainbow: How the pride flag really began

Under the rainbow: How the pride flag really began

With pride months growing in popularity all over the world, the sight of the rainbow flag is becoming ever more present in today’s society.

If you ask the average person what the rainbow flag stands for, they will probably tell you gay rights- or gay pride. But most people have no clue how and when the rainbow flag came to be.
Unlike the familiar story of Betsy Ross sewing the stars and stripes of our American flag, the origin of the rainbow flag is somewhat lost in history.
The story begins back in June of 1969. Judy Garland had just died, and The Stonewall riots were happening. Watching all of this unfold, openly gay artist and activist Gilbert Baker subconciously began to associate the rainbow with the gay rights movement.
Gilbert didn’t have the idea create the flag right away, from 1970-1972 he was busy serving in the US Army, stationed in San Fransisco. After his honorable discharge, he began to teach himself how to sew and quickly put his new skill to use by making banners for anti-war and gay rights protests. In 1974 he met and became close friends with Harvey Milk, the cities first openly gay elected official.

Fast forward to 1978. Harvey Milk calls upon Baker to create a symbol for the gay community to be used in the city’s annual parade. Baker begins to brainstorm, combining his imagery of Judy singing “Over The Rainbow” with other symbolism including the WWI victory medal, and the Flag Of The Races which was prominent in the hippie movement.
Like the Flag Of Races, the rainbow flag would share horizontal stripes, each holding a meaning. But unlike the Flag Of Races, Bakers flag would have eight stripes vs five.

The meaning of the original flags colors were as follows: HOT PINK: Sexuality, RED: Life, ORANGE: Healing, YELLOW: Sunlight, GREEN: Nature, TURQUOISE: Magic & Art, BLUE: Serenity & Harmony, VIOLET: Spirit.

Baker has since said We needed something that expressed us. The rainbow really fits that, in terms of: we’re all the colors, and all the genders and all the races. It’s a natural flag; The rainbow is in the sky and it’s beautiful. It’s a magical part of nature.”

The rainbow flag made it’s debut in the San Fransisco’s Freedom Day Parade on June 25th, 1978. Like modern day Betsy Ross’s, over thirty volunteers huddled in the attic of San Francisco’s Gay Community Center. For hours on end, they worked together to hand stitch and dye the very first two massive rainbow flags. 
It took a tragic event however, for this flag to gain popularity. On November 27, 1978 Harvey Milk was assassinated. The grief stricken LGBT community sought out the flag as a symbol of unity during this sad time. Orders were in high demand, so the Paramount Flag Company (where Baker now worked) began selling versions made from stock fabric. Due to unavailability of hot pink fabric, Baker made the decision to drop the pink stripe from the flag, leaving it with seven stripes. 

the original eight stripe flag
In 1979 the flag was changed again. When it was hung vertically from the lamp posts on Market Street, the center stripe became totally hidden. Changing the design to an even six stripes was an easy way to fix this. The turquoise stripe was dropped, leaving us with the famous six stripped flag that we see today. Baker refers to this flag as the “commercial version”, because it came to be due to production demands.  For the 1979 Freedom Day Parade, they were now able to split the colors onto two flags, flying them on alternate sides of the street. 
The rainbow flag has taken on a life of it’s own over years, since it’s early incarnations. It notably came to nationwide attention during the 1989 case of John Stout. Stout sued his landlords and won, for attempting to prohibit him from displaying the flag from his West Hollywood balcony. During the early years of the AIDS epidemic, activists added a black stripe to the flags, calling it the “Victory Over Aids Flag”. They suggested that when a cure was found, the black stripes should be removed and burned. 
The 1.25 mile flag displayed in Key West, 2003

Baker went on to design many other flags for events like The Superbowl, Democratic National Convention, and for Presidents and Kings of other countries. In 1994 Baker was called upon to create the world’s largest rainbow flag for the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. This was recreated in Key West in 2003, with all original eight stripes and stretched a mile and a quarter. 

The rainbow flag is now proudly flown all over the world as a symbol of gay pride, and the fight for LGBT equality  that continues today. It is now available in thousands of variations and forms, including the original eight stripe version. Just this week, an important recognition was given to Baker, when MOMA acquired the six stripe rainbow flag as part of it’s design collection.  
Looking back, Baker says “It all goes back to the first moment of the first flag back in 1978 for me. Raising it up and seeing it there blowing in the wind for everyone to see. It completely astounded me that people just got it, in an instant like a bolt of lightening – that this was their flag. It belonged to all of us. It was the most thrilling moment of my life. Because I knew right then that this was the most important thing I would ever do – that my whole life was going to be about the Rainbow Flag.”
Taking back the pride march

Taking back the pride march

Lady Bunny once said: “I’m from New York City, where the Pride parade is often viewed as a marketing opportunity for Red Bull and Sprint, who hire straight bodybuilders to dance on their floats. The organizers, Heritage of Pride, have now copyrighted “NYC Pride” and […]

The History Of Mother’s Day

The History Of Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day has always been a day that I would prefer to hibernate through. I was raised by a toxic single parent, who put more negative thoughts into my head than good ones. Most people get at least one good parent, but I got gypped […]

The Fatherless Daughter Dance

The Fatherless Daughter Dance

Recently, I read about a daughter and mother banned from a father-daughter dance in MO. A protest party was thrown for the little girl to make her feel better. As a kid my Mom took me to a similar type of dance. but instead of getting a party after, I got traumatized.

It was the early 90’s and as Valentines Day approached, the local radio station 92 Moose was heavily advertising a Valentines Day, father-daughter dance. All the girls at school were talking about going, and what dresses they were going to wear, but there was a major reason I couldn’t join in on the fun.

I grew up never knowing who my Dad was. It was one of those touchy, off the table topics that no one really talked about. Once, my older sister opened a cereal box that had a fingerprint test game to tell you if you were an alien or not. I took it and she started screaming that I was officially an alien who had been adopted. I started crying and my Mom had to calm me down by telling me I wasn’t an adopted alien.
As I got older, in a Maine town of basic, small minded people I certainly felt more and more like an alien who didn’t belong there.

As this Valentines Day dance drew closer, my Mom started conspiring with another single Mom who lived down the hall. I didn’t know the woman very well, but I remember that she still had that six years after the trend, 80’s teased bangs thing happening. Her daughter was the same age I was and in my classes, but we weren’t friends.

One day after school my Mom told me she had a surprise for me. We were going to go to the father-daughter dance, along with the neighbor and her daughter! My Mom was one of the few people in my town not to have a drivers license or car, so just being able to get to a place was a big deal. I was young enough to be excited to go to the dance, but old enough to know that it seemed like a stupid idea. I was sure I would be made fun of, but guessed to them this was some kind of single Mom protest. Why should their daughters be left out? Occupy father-daughter dance! #chicksnotdicks or something.

I was always a daydreamer, so for the next week I imagined what it would be like to go to a father daughter dance with no father. I had fantasies of my Dad showing up to rescue me. He looked like Michael Caine-mad classy, and he would know who I was just by looking at me. Then he would swing me around the dance floor Cinderella style and we would live happily ever after.

On the day of the dance, I got all dressed up and we got ready to head out with the neighbors. I was surprised that when we got to the car, a big dude was in the drivers seat. The apparent single Mom power protest was no longer, because trashy neighbor was bringing her tattoo covered winner boyfriend. I guess my Mom knew he was going because she didn’t seem surprised. We sat in the car while all the adults smoked a cigarette before we took off.

When we arrived at the dance there were lot’s of red and pink hearts, a big dj booth, mood lighting and tables all around. In her anti-social fashion, my mother suggested we sit in the batch of empty tables toward the far right of the room. The girl with me took off to dance with her Mom’s boyfriend, so I sat and quietly drank my Diet Pepsi. I already didn’t blend in as the only girl with no Dad, and now I stuck out like a sore thumb. My Mom kept trying to get me to dance with her, but I was mortified and refused.

There were some raffles and contests throughout the dance, but I lost them all and didn’t take home any prizes or chocolate filled hearts. At the end of the night the DJ announced it was time for a slow dance. The lights got dim and all the Dad’s led their little girls out onto the dance floor. I looked out from my empty table and saw many of them dancing with there feet on top of their Dad’s feet. Even as an adult that memory of the dancing feet is vividly embedded in my brain. It was at that moment that I realised I would never have anybody’s feet to dance on, and that my Dad wasn’t going to show up to rescue me. For the rest of my life I would always be the fatherless daughter, wishing I could join the dance.

Betty Does The Oscars

Betty Does The Oscars

My crazy 65 year old mother watched some of my movie screeners before Oscar night and we chatted about them. Here’s a recap.BIRDMAN: “I turned it off after a half hour. Is the whole thing just acting? If all they are gonna do is act […]

Ashes To Gay Bashes, Dust To Dust.

Ashes To Gay Bashes, Dust To Dust.

Today is Ash Wednesday. A day which mirrors the start of Jesus fasting for 40 days in the dessert. But I chose not to attend mass and be marked as a Catholic today. Like most others I was born into a religion. Beliefs, traditions, prayers and […]

Two hours without an iPhone (First world problems)

Two hours without an iPhone (First world problems)

Last week I brought my iPhone 5s to the Apple store for the 4th time. Since I upgraded last June, it had been dropping calls non stop, crashing apps like a drunk driver and having touch screen issues.
During the first few visits, the Apple “Geniuses” told me to try a few tactics to get the phone to work better. I tried turning off location services, deleting useless apps, and doing a full restore to original settings. My little iPhone 5s was still pissed as fuck and refused to work properly.

So, I dragged my ass for a FOURTH time to the Apple store. This time, the “Genius” ran all in-depth diagnostics, told me the operating system was basically crap and that they would replace it. I was super relieved I wouldn’t have to make a 5th trip to the Apple store. I literally would have lost my shit if I had to wait in line with one more tourist trying to buy an unlocked iPhone.

So, genius typed in all of my info and said– “Well, it looks like the wait time to take the phone into the back to take it apart to check it for 3rd party apps is two hours.”
Third party apps?
TWO HOURS!!!?????? My mind was racing for a moment trying to imagine two full hours disconnected from the world.
How would I see how many Instagram likes I had? See what the people I met once on Facebook were doing? See who followed and liked me on Twitter?

This may have been the first moment since the miracle of Easter Jesus invented the iPhone, that I would be disconnected for hours.

I took a deep breathe and deleted all content from my old phone, cuz you know the most entertaining thing those Apple geniuses get to do all day is go through people’s selfies and texts. I handed over my 5s and headed into the world for the first time in years, disconnected.

I opened the glass doors of the Apple mecca and felt the crisp Winter air hit my face. It was like being born into 2003. I was unarmed in NYC. I had nothing to pretend to look at to avoid crazy people, homeless people, perverts, or annoying tourists. I felt naked.

I decided to do some Christmas shopping and errands to kill the time without my phone. Then an NYPD ambulance went by with its blaring sirens. I started to think about what would happen if I had an emergency with no phone. What if I had a heart attack? A stroke? Got hit by a car? What if I got attacked because I had no way to avoid eye contact with crazy street rapists!?
The possibilities of danger without an iPhone were endless.

I had to ask myself some serious questions. First of all, how does anyone survive finding where to eat without the help of Yelp reviews? If I don’t check in on Foursquare, did I actually go somewhere? If I don’t log my run onto the Nike App, do I still burn calories? What happens to my candies if I don’t crush them for two hours? What would happen if Lady Gaga left her house and I didn’t see a photo of what she was wearing within 30 minutes!? Anyway somehow in 2004 with my Nokia 2610, I managed to get around the city without the help of Exit Strategy or Google maps. It’s no wonder I got lost so much.

Going without my iPhone for two long hours made me see NYC in a whole new light. I had to LOOK at people on the subway and on the street for the first time in awhile. I had to know my way around without the use of any Apps. I had to live life without getting instant likes on Facebook and Instagram. This was all a shock to my system. I survived my two hours without an iPhone with flying colors. I had a new zest for life, and felt much more free than usual.

I realized how futile our current reality is, living in this instaworld, where I often see children with iPads as entertainment instead of Little Golden Books. It made me a little sad to think children in our world will never know life without Twitter and Facebook. That they will never get to experience the thrill those of us 80’s kids did hearing the sound of dialup connecting to AOL for the first time. They will never even know what it is like to hold a cassette tape recorder to the radio to record your favorite songs.

When I arrived back at the Apple store, my “Genius” came to my table with a new iPhone 5s, all sexy in its plastic wrap. I connected to iCloud via wifi and my entire life and favorite music was quickly back in order on my tiny device.

I was back, back in the New York groove. And I had actually missed two very important business emails and job opportunities. I left with a new lease on life — as pathetic as that might seem.

So… I challenge those of you reading this to two hours without your smart-phones.
No — this doesn’t mean when you are at home or sleeping and don’t really use it! Actually go OUT into the city, to work, or your town with no connection. See how much more you connect with people and the world around you, and search for a meaning in life that you cannot find on Google.