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Buzzzzzzz

I suffer from indoor, outdoor, seasonal and year round allergies.  I’m also mildly allergic to cats.  And I swell up if I get stung by a bee.  Or get bitten by any type of bug.  I suppose I should consider myself lucky that I’m at least not allergic to peanut butter or gluten or anything else that would keep me from eating the delicious things I love.  As I write this, I am taking frequent breaks to either sneeze or grab a Kleenex to tend to my body’s reaction to the extremely high pollen count in my city.  I feel downright miserable, but this is hardly the worst I’ve been during allergy season, especially when compared to last year.  Instead of popping extra allergy pills and going crazy with antihistamine eye drops as I usually do, this season I’ve been self-medicating with bee pollen.

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Bee pollen contains protein, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and lipids.  One teaspoon of bee pollen takes a bee an entire month to collect, working eight hour days.  Each pellet contains over two million flower pollen grains.  When taken as a supplement, it is said to enhance energy, help prevent asthma, aid in digestion, and boost the immune system.  But most important, it can be used to treat allergies.  Taking pollen reduces the presence of histamine, according to Dr. Leo Conway, MD of Colorado.  It does so by helping the body to build a resistance and immunity so that the body’s reaction is less severe once pollen is swirling around the air we have no choice but to breathe.  For that reason, it is important to find a honey farm locally and purchase bee pollen from them in order to get a source containing local pollens and to check to ensure the pollen granules are many different colors, signifying it contains pollens from many plants.

The recommended dosage is a teaspoon or two per day, every day.  When I received my jar, I began with slightly less than half a teaspoon due to concern over how my body would react.  I’m lucky I didn’t take any more than that; I developed a rash, my breathing was labored, and I felt slightly drugged.  Upon doing further research, I reduced my dosage to one to two pellets per day to get my body used to the pollen.  The breathing issues were thankfully a one time thing.  It took about one week for rashes to stop appearing and two weeks for the drugged feeling to stop 100%.  I began slowly increasing the dosage and playing with how I took it, finally settling on about half a teaspoon a day taken mixed in my tea and water throughout the day.

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The change, while minor, has been huge for me so far.  Today is the first day I’ve truly felt that my allergies were on my nerves, and since my son gave me his cold, I can’t say for 100% certainty that allergies are fully to blame for how I feel.  I deal with itchy eyes every year without fail, and last year it caused my eyes to become severely dry due to the antihistamine’s drying them out, plus I suffered corneal abrasions and looked like a zombie for months.  Now, instead of spending my entire day either using drops or suffering the itch, my eyes have barely been bothering me at all; I’ve used antihistamine drops twice in the last two months which is probably a record for me.  I’ve gone from taking one to two 24 hours allergy pills per day to get relief to taking no more than one per day, but strictly on an as-needed basis.  In the past seven days, I’ve taken two pills.  Another record for me.

In order to get the full effects of the bee pollen, I will have to continue taking it year round, continue to use a local source, and that should result in me seeing an even tamer allergy season next time around.  Of course, this season has really only just begun.  I still have to deal with the grass pollens filling my office every Tuesday when the grounds crew mows.  I have a lot of challenges ahead of me that I will hopefully get through better than last year.  But for someone like me, who will have crazy sneezing fits out of the blue at the slightest hint of a flower, I feel optimistic about the future if I continue putting trust into bee pollen.

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The Journal of Allergy reports that 73% of patients using bee pollen reported a 75% improvement in their symptoms.  17% reported a complete improvement and were free of symptoms.  Since taking bee pollen orally trains the body to stop producing and releasing histamine, the body’s inflammatory response (sneezing, itching, cough, runny nose) is not triggered and people like me are not suffering.  Now, these are all claims that don’t have a pretty FDA stamp of approval, so one could say that this is as legit as the latest diet pill craze.  But I’m drinking the Kool-Aid on this one.  It’s been helping me and I believe it will continue to help me if I continue to take it.  If I can train my body to stop trying to kill itself any time we’re around a budding plant, and I can do so without drugs that only treat symptoms and not the underlying cause, you damn well better believe I’m going to try it.

As I said, the real test is still coming, but I feel confident that I can handle it and will do so better than years past.  I want to be able to have the windows down in the car without worrying about what is blowing in my face.  I want to open the windows in my home without becoming paranoid about what is flying in the cool breeze.  I want to take my dog for a walk without sneezing fifty times and annoying him while he tries to sniff out bad guys.  I want to wake up and not feel like the first thing I must do is run to the cabinet for pills and drops.  I want to feel normal.  I just hope bee pollen really can get me there.

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Zero Water, Zero Help

On March 23, 2014, my husband and I upgraded to a Zero Water filtering system.  We had previously been alternating between Brita and Pur, as we have hard water where we live which makes filtration essential.  Zero Water’s filtration system consists of five stages, which is much more complex than Brita or Pur and should provide cleaner and better drinking water.  It comes with a meter to test your water before Zero filtration and afterwards, which shocked both my husband and I, as we had far too many dissolved solids showing up in our before water.  Having recently installed a filtration system in our shower, we felt confident that the Zero water pitcher was a fantastic next step for us and were very happy with our nearly $40 purchase.

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Fast forward to the week of April 14, 2014, slightly over three weeks later.  My husband began to notice a strange odor in the house.  We cleaned and scrubbed and Febrezed and investigated.  I grew paranoid when my husband sat next to me one day and almost instantly said “what is that smell??”  I was confused when he went into the kitchen one evening and asked if I had made tuna.  And finally, after pouring a glass of water from our Zero Water filter, he found the culprit.  Our pitcher stunk.  It smelled like an old aquarium.  Upon removing the filter from the pitcher, the smell grew even stronger.  It was enough to make us sick.

We began checking our cups to make sure the issue wasn’t coming from another source.  The cups were all fine, the Pur filter we have directly on the faucet was giving us odorless water, and the water straight from the tap was free of odor as well.  I hopped on Google and read this review on Ripoff Report“I purchased a Zero Water Filtration pitcher system about 3 weeks ago. A few days ago, I noticed a fish smell in my kitchen.. So I decided to clean out the kitchen sink pipes.. The next hour the smell was still there.. I poured a glass of water from my Zero Water Filtration pitcher system and found the problem.. The water smelt like a dirty fish tank filter.  I called Zero Water. They told me that where I live has a high amount of materials in the water and the only thing I could do is to change the filter every 2 or 3 weeks to prevent the smell.”  This is apparently such a common problem that they include the following on their official website:

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So, not only is the filter life greatly exaggerated (or grossly misleading at best), but the fishy smell is practically a guarantee once the filter has reached the end of its life span.  My husband and I did some thinking, and are now left wondering if the filter issue that caused the odor is the same thing that was causing me to have migraines, nausea, and caused the water to have an odd taste when it warmed to room temperature.  The FAQ on the Zero Water site, along with common sense, urges the consumer to remember that filters don’t last forever, especially in certain areas of the country, and filter life times do vary greatly.  That being said, I did not shell out nearly $40 just to have three weeks of acceptable water before having to throw my nearly $40 pitcher in the trash can.

For our Brita and Pur water pitchers, we would fill it from the kitchen faucet that is also filtered by one of their products.  This double filtration system of ours would allow us to get months out of our filters.  Even at the end of a filter’s life, we would notice no odor and little to no change in water taste.  I don’t care how bad the water is in my city, there is no excuse for any consumer to be given fish-water after three weeks of using a filtration system.  I would rather go out in my backyard and drink straight from the pond than drink aquarium leftovers from an overpriced so-called “top of the line” water pitcher.

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According to the Water Resources Authority in Massachusetts, a fishy smell is caused by algae growth.  The public health department of Washington says that organic matter is to blame for the odor.  Plumbing Supply says it could be from chlorine and ammonia used to treat the water supply by the city, or naturally occurring elements barium and/or cadmium.  While I have no doubt that there are all sorts of minerals in my water, I feel 100% confident that my water supply is not to blame.  I have been using the same water supply for over six years now at either my own home or my mother-in-law’s, and have not once had an issue with foul-smelling fish-water until wasting my money on a Zero Water pitcher.
Even positive reviews I’ve read about the pitcher acknowledge the fishy smell.  And while I can’t say for sure, I feel confident that something in the filtration system was making me sick and causing headaches.  I would not pay $5 for a filtration system that is going to make my water and home stink after three weeks, nevermind pay $35 plus tax to get started and $15 for every replacement filter in the future.  Zero Water is a rip off, plain and simple.  I wish I had done more research prior to making the purchase, but I hope that putting this out there helps sway others from making the same mistake I did.  Pur and Brita are fantastic, and I wish I had stuck with what I knew instead of making the switch to a water filtration system that was Zero Help.

Who We Love

Week after week, month after month, the post that consistently gets the most views on here is one I wrote about the pros and cons of same sex marriage.  It was written sarcastically, with the cons being silly things that people either speculate will happen (the sanctity of marriage will be destroyed) or things that are actually pros (same sex couples would earn the same rights and privileges as heterosexual married couples).  “Pros and cons of gay marriage” is the search term that directs the most people to my page as well, beating out every other topic I’ve ever covered.  While I’m happy that it’s on the minds of many, I have begun to worry a bit that there is a need to do research on the good and the bad that could come from legalizing same sex marriage across the board.

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Whenever I think about my own marriage, one thing that never comes to mind is the way other marriages are affecting my own.  The simple truth is that my marriage and everyone else’s are two separate and independent things.  Not once have I ever been positively or negatively affected by another person’s union.  My marriage becomes no less real when someone gets divorced for the 5th time or when two women say their vows under the moonlight.  My marriage is no less real when two loving men get married, nor is it less real when a woman marries a man for the sole purpose of getting her hands on his bank account.  I don’t care why two people choose to get married because not only is it none of my business, it just doesn’t affect my life, family, or personal happiness.

What does affect me is the sad fact that same sex marriage isn’t legal in this country as a whole, nor it is legal in many places around the world.  It affects me because unless things change, I will not be able to see some of my friends have weddings they deserve in the future.  They won’t be able to do so many things that I can easily do with my husband.  They are barred from these things because their union makes people uncomfortable.  It’s immoral in the eyes of many because the bible says so.  It’s feared because of outdated notions on what love and marriage are.  It’s wrong to so many people for reasons they don’t even understand.

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There is no reasons for a pros and cons debate when it comes to same sex marriage because there are no cons.  What, it makes you uncomfortable?  The woman popping her gum in the hallway at work this morning made me uncomfortable, so can we legally ban her from chewing gum in public?  It goes against your religious beliefs?  No one is forcing you to marry someone of the same gender or attend a gay wedding, so I’m unsure of how your beliefs are being affected.  Gay marriage will destroy the country?  Legal or not, women are loving women and men are loving men.  Nothing has been destroyed yet by that and it sure as hell won’t be destroyed if we just bite the bullet and let everyone get married.

While I do worry that the pros and cons are searched so often, I do hope that it’s being done because people are slowly coming to accept the fact that the right thing to do is to make marriage legal for all consenting adults, regardless of gender or preference.  Interracial marriage was once looked at as critically as same sex marriage is.  With the exception of a small group of idiots, we now look at the idea of making interracial unions illegal as silly.  In the future, the idea of same sex marriage being illegal will also be a ridiculous notion.  But how long do we have to wait to get to that point?  How long do we have to make couples wait before they are no longer made to feel as if their love is wrong?

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If you don’t support it, that’s your right.  Don’t go to certain weddings, alienate certain people, and do whatever makes you happy.  Post Facebook updates expressing your displeasure, write angry blogs, and leave comments on news sites.  But don’t think you have the right to control what others do with their lives.  Don’t think it’s okay for you to control who someone else marries and loves.  Don’t selfishly wonder how it’ll affect you if two men say their vows and the state recognizes that union.  The rights that leave you free to believe what you want, worship who you will, and say what you wish are the same rights that should allow any same sex adult couple to get married.  Stop wasting time searching for an easy reference pros and cons list and just let people live their lives.

This Is Taxing

It has finally happened; I’ve been forced to file an extension instead of filing my taxes online and on time like I have been since I turned 18.  I didn’t do it because I was missing documentation, nor did I do it because I couldn’t scrounge up the cash to pay what I owe.  I did it because this lovely state of mine has been screwing up my taxes ever since I moved here from Georgia.  I’ve worked for three different companies since moving here (my second job has been the same position and office, but through different contracting companies) and no matter who handles my pay or who I submit my paperwork to, my state always tells me that I have failed to pay a single dime to the state and therefore owe quite a large sum of cash.

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The idea that I haven’t paid anything to the state always comes to light after I file my taxes and pay the $100 or so I still owe to the state.  I’ll get a notice in the mail in the form of a tax warrant stating that I owe a ridiculous amount and that I must pay it as soon as possible.  I’ll send in my W2, proof of payment after filing, and whatever else I can think of.  It usually takes two or three tries, but eventually they manage to look at my W2 and see that I have in fact paid my state tax.  Job done, I move on.  It’s become part of my routine and I didn’t think much of it until this February when all hell broke loose and a hold was placed on my bank account.

It’s been nearly two months since it happened and I’m still cleaning up the mess.  I’ve finally gotten to the point where I’m at least told I don’t owe anything, but until I have that in writing and in my hand, I’ve been advised to hold off on filing my state tax.  I have to hold tight for a while and put my trust in the people who suspended my license for not paying a traffic ticket for failure to yield AFTER I paid said ticket on time.  I have to remain calm while offices who have consistently let me down work to probably let me down again.  It’s driving me absolutely crazy.

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I’ve considered getting someone to do my taxes for me, but the problem isn’t in how I’m filing them.  The problem is that regardless of the fact that I report the tax I have paid to the state, the state will not recognize those payments and tells me I owe an entire year of tax and then some.  I’ve changed my deductions, worked with my employers to see if it’s something on their end, but nothing solves whatever issue I’m having.  No one from my state has told me what the issue is either.  And the year I was meant to get a refund of around $70?  Didn’t see a dime of that.  In all honesty, I think the only way I can solve this issue is to move out of this state and go somewhere that isn’t trying to screw with me for giggles.

In all seriousness, I write this in the hopes that someone out there can throw a bit of knowledge my way.  For some further background information, I currently work in one county, live in another, and my employer is based in another state.  Prior to my current job though, I worked and lived in the same county, where my employer was based, and still had the same issues.  I’ve tried claiming more deductions, then less deductions, and nothing changes.  I am married but file separately.  Now, here’s where you come in.  Have you heard of this happening before?  Do you have any advice at all on what I can do to fix this and prevent it from occurring again?  Should I just live off the grid and stop paying taxes altogether?

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Please leave any help you can in the comments section, so both I and anyone who comes around can benefit from your words of wisdom.  If you have a similar story to share, please do so, as I’d love to know that I’m not alone!  Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to do some research on the benefits of closing my bank account and keeping all my money in a mattress.  They can’t get to it there…

Face To Heel

I am very excited to announce that I have recently signed on to be a writer for a collaborative blog covering all things wrestling!  This will include WWE, TNA, past and present Superstars, future predictions, and much more.  It will feature reports on events, editorial pieces, and will cover every topic you can imagine.  The site, Face To Heel, currently has four contributors including myself, but hope to add more once we begin posting articles. We seek to showcase writers who have different opinions, are fans of different people, and have different experiences with wrestling.  There will be plenty of information in our first article, so please visit the site now and sign up to follow so you can be among the first to know when things start rolling out.  You can follow on Twitter as well at @FaceToHeel.

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Do You Mind?

Over the weekend, my mother-in-law took our boy on a little getaway with her to visit family, take a trip to the zoo, and have some fun outdoors before the crazy mid-west weather decides to try to give us snow again.  Since my husband and I don’t exactly get these breaks often, we took full advantage and hit the movie theaters, followed by some free Redbox movies, thanks to their mailing list that I highly recommend signing up for unless you don’t enjoy getting things at no cost.  Friday night was a local theater night, where we watched the latest film from WWE Studios, Oculus.  Saturday gave us Captain America:  The Winter Soldier, followed by dinner at a restaurant we used to practically live at.  Redbox gifted us with The Wolf of Wall St and American Hustle, two we sadly missed in the theaters.  Amazing movies; I was happy with all four but I am seriously burnt out on watching anything over an hour for quite some time.

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This brings me to a topic I’ve talked about many times before:  rude people in movie theaters.  For a movie like Oculus, where the viewer knows to expect many tense moments and frequent scenes where silence is used to build tension, it’s an unspoken rule to keep quiet and save the rustling of popcorn and opening of candy for scenes where the music hits loud or people are screaming.  Suspense is easily killed when you have people adding giggles, shaking of ice, or other noises to the movie soundtrack during moments you are meant to be on the edge of your seat.  The girl behind us who thought it was OMG HILARIOUS to burp like a frat boy certainly didn’t help, but she thankfully quit after I gave her the I-Wish-I-Could-Kill-You-With-This-Look stare.

The worst offender in Oculus did none of those things though.  It was an incredibly sick person.  The kind of sick where their sniffles sound like they’re drowning, where their coughs sound like a death rattle, and where they cannot control their bodily functions and obviously cannot stay quiet.  If you’re sick to the point where your brain is leaking out of the holes in your face, stay home.  The argument for going to work while sick can be made if you are one with no sick leave and bills piling up, but there is no excuse whatsoever for going to a movie theater when you are sick as a dog and sound like the Before part of a Nyquil commercial.  You not only kill parts of the movie for people who paid to be there, you run the risk of getting everyone around you sick.  I’m hoping that my husband and I did manage to escape without contracting tuberculosis, but it’s too soon to tell.  Please, if you’re sick, keep your movie night at home.

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During Captain America, things weren’t as bad as far as the typical complaints; I heard no loud popcorn eating and saw no cell phone usage.  Having arrived exactly on time, seating was fairly packed so we were close to the front and almost at the end of a row.  We were hoping to get lucky and not be too close to anyone, but sadly for us, a couple sat directly behind us halfway through the previews, followed by a mother with her two children.  The mother took what felt like ages to get settled in, rustling her bags and giving instructions to the young boy and older female she brought with her.  This was one of the few times I was grateful for the 25 minutes of previews that AMC shows, as it gave the lady plenty of time to settle in and shut up.

Did I say settle in?  Scratch that, I meant the total opposite.  First, her son decided to get very vocal about his displeasure; he began loudly whining while she did the bare minimum to calm him.  I don’t fault the kid at all for this; some children don’t want to quietly sit through a movie and are better suited for home viewings only.  Some children have zero interest in movies if they aren’t cartoons.  Any good parent should know what kind of child they have and adjust accordingly.  My son would get antsy sitting through Captain America, so bringing him along was never an option.  We’ll save it for DVD, where he can watch as he bounces around his room and takes as many bathroom breaks as he pleases.  Thankfully for the little boy, the other female was able to step in and assist; I believe she removed him from the theater, as I didn’t hear another peep once she took action.

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I should clarify.  I didn’t hear another peep from HIM.  The woman was a whole other story.  If I properly describe her, it’ll sound as if I’m describing a scene from a slightly racist comedy, featuring a “typical” black woman at a movie theater.  She was a walking stereotype and that is unfortunately the best way to describe her.  She kept busy saying “I know that’s right!” any time something positive happened for any of the main characters, and especially when Samuel L Jackson was on screen.  There is one scene where [not a spoiler] Captain American lands in a body of water that is definitely not an ocean.  She felt the need to say “Oh, Steve, didn’t you spend enough time in the ocean?” as he entered the water.  Poor Steve definitely got his fill of unsolicited advice, as she consistently told Steve to be careful, watch out, and so on during the ENTIRE MOVIE.  In a normal, conversational tone.  Because if she whispered, Steve couldn’t hear her.  I guess.

The couple behind us, who I initially thought would be basically invisible, are the kind of people who will eventually cause me to snap and become a headline on the evening news as the “Crazed Woman” who slaps a fellow moviegoer.  The male apparently had zero idea what was going on, so the female decided that the best time to explain it was during the movie.  “No, SHIELD is doing ______,” “Yes, he knew him from _____,” going on for entire scenes and explaining things that the most basic fan should know.  And if you don’t, maybe don’t come see the movie in the theater.  Watch it at home where you can pause and have all your questions answered.  Hell, you can even hop on Google and look things up until you know more than the average raging superfan.  The commentary is best saved for after the movie.  Sometimes the post-movie discussion with my husband is my favorite part of the whole outing.

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Movies are expensive.  $15 – $25 for a pair of tickets, depending on the theater and added costs for 3D showings.  $20 – $30 for concessions, depending on how hungry and thirsty you happen to be.  Movies are time consuming.  Over two hours in the theater, plus the drive there and back, which was an hour round trip for us on Saturday.  No one wants to spend all that time and money only to have their experience ruined by other people.  No one should spend all that time and money only to ignore the movie in favor of conversation, updating Facebook, or any other activity other than watching the movie you paid to see.  If you’re unhappy sitting in the theater, LEAVE.  I’ve never seen anyone turned down for a voucher for a different movie if they have a valid complaint; it’s easier for management to give you a free pass instead of argue and possibly alienate a customer.  We all deserve to have a decent experience.  So let’s make a tiny bit of effort and ensure that we all can.

Believe In The Yes Movement

The last two days of WWE action have been the best two days the company has given the fans in a long time.  Wrestlemania XXX and Raw on the following night both took place in the rowdy city of New Orleans.  The crowd definitely brought their spirit and enthusiasm, especially for Monday night, leading me to promise myself that my husband and I WILL be at the Raw following Wrestlemania next year.  Now, let’s address the elephant in the room that is The Streak.

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I did not see this one coming.  Not in a million years did I expect Brock Lesnar to break the Undertaker’s 21-0 streak and put that ghastly 1 loss on his record.  Never once did I expect Lesnar to walk away with a smile on his face while the Dead Man lay broken and battered in the ring.  At no point was I not confident that we would see 22-0 on the big screen when the match concluded.  It wasn’t the most energetic match I’ve seen, but the Undertaker did suffer a concussion which could have happened early on in the bout and hindered his performance.  Regardless, it is always impressing seeing these two athletes in the ring, especially together.

In hindsight, the streak did have to eventually end, as Taker has a wife and family to worry about and certainly can’t be doing this forever.  As sad as I am to see the streak end, I am amazed by the production that went into it and impressed with the insane reaction it received.  The arena went quiet for what felt like an eternity after the three count.  Lesnar’s music didn’t play immediately as it usually does with a victory; we were given uncomfortable silence while Taker lay still and Lesnar raised his arm victoriously.  To say the world was shocked would be a huge understatement.  This will be one we talk about for a long time.

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The WWE’s golden boy, John Cena, seemed like a natural choice for a big match for such a historic Wrestlemania.  Instead, Cena was given a very standard match against his new nemesis, Bray Wyatt.  Cena always becomes unbearable near Wrestlemania season in preparation for a main event or other big deal match, but this time around, we saw a more subdued Superstar.  Clearly, Bray Wyatt and his creepy backwoods family were the stars of the matches on both evenings.  Wyatt took a loss to Cena at Wrestlemania, but the crowd swaying and singing along with him showed that he was the true winner.

On Raw the next evening, the entire Wyatt family entered into a tag match against Cena, Sheamus, and Big E.  The three faces were booed while the Wyatts were cheered.  Almost overnight, the entire WWE Universe has rallied behind the genius Bray Wyatt and his creepy clan.  It’s amazing to see the pops he’s now getting and I hope it continues to grow stronger.  The trio is going again The Shield tonight on Main Event, who turned away from The Authority on Raw last night, and it is bound to be a crazy match.

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One of my favorite Superstars, AJ Lee, defended her Divas championship at Wrestlemania against thirteen other women.  The first to get a submission or pinfall would win the title.  I’m sorry, but this match was a ridiculous thing to throw on Wrestlemania, especially when it immediately followed the fall of the Undertaker.  The odds were pitted against AJ in such an unfair manner, it was hard not to wonder if this was payback for her engagement to former Superstar CM Punk (whose early exit no doubt angered the powers that be).

Luckily for AJ, she retained her title by forcing Naomi to tap out.  I was ecstatic!  AJ is the self proclaimed saving grace of the WWE Divas division.  She brings personality, a sharp tongue, and serious in-ring skills; the girl packs a punch for such a tiny person.  On Raw the following evening, AJ came out to celebrate her victory, only to be interrupted by NXT star and women’s champion, Paige.  AJ ended up challenging Paige to a match, LOST the match, and LOST HER TITLE.  Are you kidding me?!?  To have AJ drop her title to who most fans were seeing as a nobody (we don’t all tune in to NXT, guys, come on…) was the ultimate punch in the face.  For me, AJ is and always will be the Divas Champ.  I hate that this happened to her.

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One pleasant surprise at Wrestlemania was the victory of Cesaro in the Andre The Giant Battle Royal.  We all expected Big Show to win; the giant winning the giant trophy just made sense.  Little by little, 30 men became two and Big Show was left in the ring with Cesaro.  And then, as if the seven foot Superstar was made of feathers, Cesaro plucked him up into the air and heaved him out of the ring, earning the victory, a handshake from Show, and the trophy.  On Raw, we were treated to Cesaro’s final separation from Jack Swagger and Zeb Coltier as he became a Heyman Guy!  It was a smart move; Cesaro needs a push and pairing him with Heyman is not only good for his career, it made the audience forget their anger towards Heyman due to the broken streak.

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What we all came to see though was the continuing saga of Daniel Bryan.  Screwed out of the title by Triple H again and again, the WWE Universe has rallied behind Bryan with a passion that cannot be contained.  Entire arenas erupt with Yes! Yes! Yes! chants upon his entrance; arms raised high and voices on blast.  YES! signs are seen everywhere, shirts worn proudly, and fans seen hanging on every word Bryan has to say.  In a short time, he has worked his ass off and become one of the top Superstars in the company, if not the #1 guy.  Sorry, Cena.

First, Bryan was forced to battle Triple H at Wrestlemania to earn a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Title.  The match was high energy and exciting, keeping fans on the edge of their seats as the upper hand was rapidly traded back and forth.  Against all odds, Bryan scored a victory over the intimidating Triple H.  Sadly for him, Triple H didn’t lose gracefully and attacked Bryan with a chair before leaving the ring, setting up a possible loss for him later due to injury.

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The main event featured current champion Randy Orton versus Batista and Bryan in a triple threat match for the title.  The original match was to feature only Batista and Orton, and it was apparent very quickly that the addition of Bryan was absolutely necessary to make this match a success; the underdog facing these two powerhouses kept the audience’s full attention and added an element of excitement that Orton and Batista alone could not have created.

In a very tense moment, after partially disassembling the announce table, Batista stood on the table with Bryan in his arms to set up the Batista Bomb.  Orton, teaming with Batista for the moment, grabbed Bryan out of the bomb to RKO him on the table.  Both stars were injured during this move, but damn was it impressive.  Sadly, it did result in Bryan being loaded onto a stretcher and taken out of the match.

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No injury could keep Bryan down though, as he wasn’t on the stretcher for long.  No interference could keep him from winning, as he turned Triple H’s sledgehammer back on him when the man in charge attempted to sabotage the main event.  After months of Bryan getting screwed over in the worst possible ways by The Authority, he finally locked Batista in the Yes Lock, making the big man tap and winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship!  FINALLY!  Damn, was it an exciting moment.

Raw the following evening was tense, as the chance of Triple H going postal and taking the titles away (again) was ever present, but instead, Triple H decided that Bryan would defend the newly won titles that evening again him.  To the surprise of nobody, Triple H did attempt to sabotage the match to secure his victory.  To the surprise of many, The Shield rallied to Bryan’s defense, entering the arena during a “Hounds Of Justice” crowd chant.  It was a brilliant moment; Bryan retaining his titles with The Shield at his side.

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Two seriously solid days of wrestling have passed.  I’m both excited and nervous about what is coming next, especially when it comes to AJ Lee, but I am so happy for Daniel Bryan, who finally got his moment and then some.  No one deserved it more than he did.  Congrats, Bryan… I hope your reign is a long one!

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Maturity Is…

While I was awkwardly navigating my way through my preteen and teenage years, I encountered my fair share of mean girls and then some.  I can still remember the day when I realized that girls were a cutthroat bunch.  My friend and neighbor, Mary, was having a party and I was invited along with nearly every other person in the neighborhood.  A few days before the party, I got a phone call from Mary.  She kept asking me what I thought of the new girl, Kelly.  I would say that I thought she was nice, Mary would push me to say something else, until I eventually agreed with Mary that Kelly might not be the nicest person ever.  All of a sudden, Mary revealed that she was Kelly.  She HAD to trick me because she KNEW I didn’t really like her!  I cried for a while, skipped the party, and dropped most of my female friends in favor of male friends.

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It was a childish thing to do, but my 11 or 12-year-old mind thought it was the worst thing that could have ever happened.  As I made my way through middle and high school, I was shown time and again that Kelly’s little trick was miles away from the worst thing I could expect to see or experience.  I was lucky enough to find a good group of friends who kept the backstabbing and shady behavior to a minimum, but the things I witnesses females to do each other was nothing short of disgusting.  High school was horrible, and college was only slightly better because it was so easy to avoid certain people and cliques.  I always felt confident though that leaving school behind would also mean that the cutthroat behavior would be left behind as well.

Call me naive if you will, but I assumed that truly becoming an adult would also mean that females would stop being so terrible to each other over tiny things, and often over nothing at all.  Little did I know that it seems to get worse with age.  I lost quite a few male friends (and by friends, I don’t mean “we used to date,” I mean strictly friends) because their significant others couldn’t handle them being friends with a somewhat attractive female, even though I wasn’t single, wasn’t flirting, and wasn’t any sort of threat.  I’ve been harassed at work by female authority figures who disliked me for reasons I’m still unsure of, but were clearly unrelated to my stellar job performance.  And recently, I’ve been dealing with a woman twenty years my senior stand around my desk and take thinly veiled shots at me over some he-said-she-said BS that has nothing to do with her at all.

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I’ve been free of Tubberpottimus for nearly a year and had hoped that the nonsense in the office would end with her retirement.  Silly me.  When one miserable sod leaves, there is always another to take her place.  A female that will act hateful towards another, later patting themselves on the back as they brag about how many notches they took their target down.  Smile at the wrong guy and you’ll be called a slut.  Say the wrong thing and you’ll be called a liar.  Forget the slightest detail and you’ll be called incompetent.  Hell, you can do everything right and still become a target just because some woman doesn’t approve of you in general.  Women will hate each other simply over wardrobe choices and hairstyles.

I am beyond tired of this behavior, especially when it comes from women who are much older than me and should have long outgrown the need to act like petty children.  I can’t stand coming to work and having to deal with a sad middle-aged woman who has nothing better to do than spout off with “oh, better be quiet; don’t want any rumors to start” literally every single time she is anywhere near me.  We’re all free to like and dislike who we please, but is it really necessary to be hateful and difficult, especially in schools and workplaces where we’re all somewhat held captive together for eight hours?

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My dream is to fully escape this mean girl world.  Work in a place where some chick isn’t trying to get me fired because I refuse to gossip with her or because I’m getting more attention than she.  Go to the store and not be glared at by someone who assumes I’m looking at her man when I’m merely trying to find the cereal.  Stop hearing the word slut thrown at any female who dares post a Facebook photo of herself at the beach.  I want to be able to have faith in my gender instead of swearing off female friends every couple of years because I simply can’t cope with the nonsense.

I am lucky enough to know some amazing women, but they are unfortunately the minority in a bitch-eat-bitch world where rules are out the window and it’s every broad for herself.  Last I heard, the Kelly from my youth was busy being a godawful person to everyone she came across, but even people who start as early as her can change.  Stop looking at all other women as competition.  Stop the jealousy.  Calm the hell down and quit being hateful.  These females who constantly target others are miserable people at their core, and it’s sad for them, but also sad for us who have to deal with their drama.  Everyone needs to take a deep breath and ask themselves if all this hate, all the plotting, and all the gossip is truly worth it.  Breathe in… breathe out… and ask yourself if your day is actually best spent on whether or not your coworker’s skirt is one inch too short for the office.

 

Six Years

Six years ago today, I stood in a church in the office of a priest, silently hoping my white skirt was appropriate for the occasion.  My little boy played on the floor with toy airplanes that were graciously loaned to him by the priest who stood before me.  To my side was the man who would very soon become my husband.  Our rings were blessed before being placed on our fingers, our vows were recited, and our lips met.  We became man and wife on that chilly Friday afternoon, nearly two months after obtaining our marriage certificate and only slightly over two months after I had moved 1000 miles to be with him.  To say we moved quickly would be quite the understatement.

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I’d be lying if I said that things were pure bliss for us from the start.  Love as strong as ours still can’t manage to conquer all.  We’ve been through some rough patches and we drive each other crazy at times.  The thing is, my worst moments with him are still better than my best moments with anyone else.  I’m incredibly lucky to have a husband who loves me with such passion and I’m happy to say that I can match that passion and then some when it comes to my feelings for him.  He is my world and I don’t ever want to be without him.

In the past few days, I feel as if he and I have been rediscovering each other.  We are nearing the time in our marriage where statistically, we’re meant to have a wandering eye and in danger of falling victim to the so-called “seven year itch.”  He and I have found the opposite of that.  I’m more into him now than I was during the puppy dog love/honeymoon phase where everything is new and shiny and exciting.  I’ll spare you the details, but I can honestly say that we’ve been acting like high school students whose parents are out of town.  Getting a break from being parents definitely helps as well (the boy is visiting family over Spring Break) and we’ve been taking advantage and giving each other the attention and affection we both deserve.

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I’m so in love and finally realizing exactly how lucky we both are.  True, it’s only been six years, but some marriages don’t even last for half of that time.  Some marriages are sexless, emotionless arrangements that people are just too comfortable with to leave.  My marriage is flawed just like everything else in life, but it’s also pretty perfect.  I look at my husband and see beauty.  He accepts me both when I’m beautiful and sexy and when I’m a crazy crying mess of a human.  We complete each other and thrive together.  I’m over the moon that we’ve made it to six years and I see so much for us in the future.  My heart is fully and completely in the hands of Jamie Curtis Baker, the only man in this world who knows exactly how to handle it.

 

Making Things Weird

My husband’s new favorite person in the world is Pete Holmes, a comedian with a brand new late night talk show immediately following Conan.  We’ve been going back and listening to Pete’s You Made It Weird podcasts where he sits down with a fellow artist and asks them three weird questions.  These do tend to get extremely off topic, turning more into casual conversations between friends that often erupt in hilarity.  Past guests have included Zack Galifianakis, Judd Apatow, Demetri Martin, T.J. Miller, Chelsea Peretti, Jon Hamm, and Jim Gaffigan, among many others.  Recently, we listened to Pete make things very weird with Sarah Silverman.

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One of the topics that Pete generally always brings up is religion.  Most of the time, his guests are atheists but he does have exceptions (Gaffigan, for example) and is somewhat of an exception himself; as a former Christian, he seems to find comfort in people who fully believe in God, heaven, and everything that goes along with it.  Sarah identified herself as agnostic, and then stated something that really stuck with me.  She pointed out how a person’s beliefs are almost solely based on where they are born.  It’s such an obvious fact, but I never put much thought into it before she said it out loud.

Thinking back, I cannot name a single person in my family who chose Catholicism.  They were all born into it.  Had my family been located across the globe, my upbringing would have been quite different as far as religion is concerned.  At no point did I choose to be a Catholic.  I was baptized while too young to know what was going on, put blind faith in Jesus being the son of God because that’s what my community believed, and grew up as Catholicism as my normal.  I had Jewish friends, I knew a little bit about Kwanzaa, but never questioned why other people fell into different religions, as I was happy with mine.  We had Christmas, so naturally I wasn’t questioning things.

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My atheism was and is a choice and it was the first honest choice I made regarding religion.  I chose that belief (or lack thereof) for a variety of reasons that I can clearly explain and justify.  But if you had asked me why I was a Catholic during the time I still was, I wouldn’t have been able to give you a list of good reasons.  It was just something that was expected of me; get good grades in school, don’t act up around the house, and believe in God and strive to get to heaven.  I was happy to believe whatever I was told to believe about Jesus so long as the Easter Bunny brought me goodies and Santa came to visit as scheduled.  There was not one single good reason for me to be Catholic, to put my faith into so much when I had so few reasons for doing so.

Can you tell me why you believe what you do and give me justification for it that makes sense and is based on something real and concrete?  If you can, you’re doing it right and should give yourself a pat on the back, regardless of what religion you claim and what God you hold sacred.  But if you can’t?  If your only reason is “that’s what I’ve always believed” or something else along those lines?  What are you doing?!?  Why put so much blind faith into something if you can’t even tell me the real reason why you believe it?

Blind-Faith1Everything can and should be questioned, especially when it’s something like religion that is so big in one’s life.  I could care less who believes what as long as they aren’t bringing harm to others, so this isn’t about my atheism being right and your faith being wrong.  It’s about not walking through life with blinders on.  It’s about questioning things that should be questioned.  It’s about being your own person instead of the person you were expected to be by your parents and/or community.  It’s about strengthening beliefs, whether it’s in a god or simply in science.  It’s about finding yourself.  Tell me here or tell yourself privately why you believe what you do.  See if you’re happy with your answer.  And if you’re not happy, see what adjustments need to be made.  Maybe you’ll end up feeling more confident in your beliefs, maybe you’ll discover a new path you should take.  Either way, it can’t hurt to give it a try.

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