Author Archives: thinkbannedthoughts

About thinkbannedthoughts

Sexual health educator and advocate. Political and social Ranty Pants. Word nerd and book slut.

Bamboozled

Bamboozle: (v) – To trick or deceive (someone)
1. To deceive by underhanded methods. (dupe, hoodwink)
2. To confuse, frustrate or throw off completely.

Banana Bamboozle: (n)
1. A ridiculously alcoholic party beverage sure to make you spew yellow before the end of the night.
2. An absolutely entertaining new novel by Becky Clark & Ted Hardwick

 

banana bamboozle

Get ready to be bamboozled.

Banana Bamboozle: A Dunne Diehl Novel (How punderful is that!) was my first read after months of nothing but teen pregnancy books. It was a welcome and much-needed vacation from serious, issues based, contemporary YA.

I hate calling it a perfect beach read, because for some reason many people take those books less seriously. That said, summer is right around the corner which means trips to the pool, the beach and hopefully some other more exotic and exciting locations requiring planes, trains and maybe even a boat or two.

This is a perfect book to bring along, wherever your summer adventure takes you.

Since I read SO MUCH young adult, I should probably mention right from the start that this book is not a YA novel. It’s *gasp* for grownups! (Not that teens wouldn’t like it, back in my day teens read all sorts of adult books…)

Last disclaimer – I encourage you all to listen to this song from the great Colorado band Cabaret Diosa while reading this review, it helps set the mood.

Banana Bamboozle begins at a neighborhood party, a party in which a particularly alcoholic, fake tropical beverage is being served.

Banana Bamboozle

Bottoms up!

Our leading lady, Cassidy, is there with the leading man, note – not her leading man, which was VERY refreshing, Dan. They’re gossiping about their fellow guests when Cassidy recognizes one of the guests as her teenaged niece. When she points the girl out to Dan he revokes her bar privileges, reminding her that her niece died as an infant in a tragic house fire 14 years ago.

Cassidy isn’t known for making the best, most rational decisions, but she is stubborn – like a raccoon with something shiny in its paw. She won’t let go of this fairy tale, even if it kills her – and her sister, who is only just beginning to recover from the loss of her child.

Dan knows he needs to get Cassidy to stop prying into this girl’s life, for all their sakes, but at the moment he has more urgent fish to fry. He’s been accused of stealing money from his favorite restaurant. He didn’t do it, but one of his limo drivers might have. It’s up to him to find out which one before Officer By The Book tosses him in jail.

Banana Bamboozle is a fast paced romp through small town life with a bit of Hollywood’s seedy underbelly thrown in for good measure.

Banana Daquiri

Keep drinking

The plot is tight and keeps you turning pages so fast you barely realize how well the other elements are woven in.

This books shines a gentle light on issues such as – what happens to kids who come out as gay to their parents and peers in places where homosexuality is still severely frowned on. It takes a look at how kids end up living on the streets, and things people can do to help them become functioning adults.

It also takes a probing look at aging in youth obsessed America. And being slightly overweight (and addicted to miniature candy bars) in a society that worships thinness.

These social issues aren’t shoved in your face, they are simply part and parcel as Cassidy and Dan live their lives on the pages.

As the stress from her search for the truth becomes too much for her, Cassidy reaches time and time again for her Earthquake Kit – an emergency stash of candies and chocolate – mostly chocolates. And each time she’s hit with a pang of guilt large enough to make her grab at least one extra. Food is both Cassidy’s comfort and curse. Her relationship with it colors her every interaction.

“So, you’re in town on business? Are you buying the gym?”
Blaze laughed. “No, but I do get some time off. And eating out three meals a day takes a toll. That’s why I’m here.” He patted his flat belly. Cassidy thought maybe she should start eating out more than she already did. Clearly it helped get rid of belly fat.

There were a couple of places where I really identified with Cassidy – her need to dress for a dinner date for example, but not in the way you think:

“This is where you drink. You eat at Dollar Bills. Or Natalie’s bakery. Or the yogurt place. Or El Pepino Picante, if you like Mexican.”
“Love Mexican. How ’bout you?”
Cassidy nodded. “But I haven’t been there in a while. I’m trying to keep my clothes on a salsa-free diet.”
“Aw, c’mon. Let’s blow this popsicle stand and get some enchiladas.”
Cassidy looked down at her white blouse. “Sorry. Not dressed for it.”

It’s a long running joke in my house that I can’t eat (or cook) most of my favorite foods without wearing them by the end of the meal. I should own stock in Shout Stain Remover.

Cassidy also offers one of the best rebuffs to a sexual advance I’ve heard in a while. It works because I think it would make anyone who heard it giggle.

“Stop it. You’ll make me untidy.”
“Untidy?” Axel chuckled and stepped away.
“Yeah. I heard it on PBS. Just trying to class up the joint.”

While I identified with a lot of Cassidy’s, erm, neuroses, I truly loved Dan.

Dan is a busy man, he and Cassidy run the local newspaper together. He also has a limo service that he runs and spends a lot of time volunteering at or running The Center for street kids. He’s a thoughtful, compassionate man with a seemingly infinite capacity for kindness. With one glaring exception. Mrs Edison.

“Why are you going to Mrs Edison’s party if you hate her so much?”
“She hated me first.”
“Not true, I bet there were lots of people who hated you before Mrs Edison did.” Cassidy linked an arm through Dan’s while they walked.
“Droll, very droll.” Dan unpeeled her arm from his.

banana bamboozle

One more for the road

Dan also loves interjecting his “fun facts” into conversations. As Cassidy’s sister asks, “Really fun, or just ‘Dan fun’?” But Dan’s desire to share his vast knowledge of random trivia with the world is part of his charm, his way of showing that he’s connected to the world.

What I enjoyed most in this book was the quick wit and snarky humor – not to mention the delicious puns. Like Cassidy’s “sex-husband” – Her ex, who she still uses regularly for sex.

Or the moment Cassidy wakes up after her night of guzzling banana bamboozles only to discover she is completely unprepared for the hangover: “Damnit! Who forgot to buy aspirin?” she yelled. “Where are my adults?” I loved this idea of a middle-aged woman shouting for her adults. I think we all have those moments where we just want someone more responsible than us to hand us some aspirin and a remote control. (Though in my day hangovers were cured with a 5am wakeup, two aspirin and a day of hard labor. That was supposed to teach me not to party so hard…)

banana bamboozle

Bananas and booze – breakfast of champions!

The introduction of characters let us get to know them quickly, and again, with humor and wit. – “I know,” Aunt Lu explained. “That’s why I’m asking Dan to be your co-owner. He’s smart He’s got skillz.”
She actually heard her aunt put the ‘z’ on the end. Lu was 82 years old and 43 percent thug. She never missed an opportunity to confront people who mistreated children or animals – often employing punctuating finger jabs; she demanded immediate and heartfelt apologies from anyone who called her “Hon”; and she sported a mysterious ankle tattoo of a scorpion that she refused to explain.

It’s hard to get to know a character in just a sentence or two, but Becky and Ted manage to pull it off: Ramses’ tobacco fortified voice resonated like the low notes on a cello. I love that phrase – tobacco fortified voice. I suspect we all have a crotchety elder in our lives who fits that description. They usually also have tobacco and weather fortified leathery skin and an emotional hide that would intimidate a rhino.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, humorous romp through these modern days, with just enough mystery to keep the pages turning – Banana Bamboozle is a good pick. It’s the perfect airplane, long train journey, lounge around the pool (or beach) book. The best part – it even tells you how to make yourself a thermos of Banana Bamboozle, the drink that starts it all!

banana bamboozle shooters

Banana Bamboozle for a party

This is rumored to be the first in a series. Here’s hoping we get a new drink recipe with each installment…

 

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Taking my own advice

Ever have a hard time taking your own advice?

Today is one of those days for me, so I’m going to repeat the advice I gave to my daughter last night and hope that in the process I will remember that it applies to me too.

Every person has their own path to walk, their own life hurdles to overcome, their own choices to make.

fork in the road

If you come to a fork in the road, take it.

It is our job as friends, lovers and family to support our people when they fall on hard times or find themselves teetering on the edge of a cliff – but it is NOT our job to go over the cliff with them!

All we can do is love them without judgement and give them information and tools that may help. What they do with that information and those tools however is up to them.

You may think they need crampons to climb back up out of their pit. They may use them as a make-shift pick to dig their hole deeper – that is not your fault, that is their choice.

Some people need to dig all the way to the bottom – all the way to the other side of the world – before they can see clearly enough to catch a jetliner home. Some of them never stop digging. That is their path to walk, it is not your responsibility to walk it with them, you have your own path.

Your job is to throw down a flashlight. Point out other options. Ask open-ended questions that encourage them to ask questions of themselves.

Sometimes your job is to walk away.

Remember – not everyone wants help. Even the ones thrashing around, sending up signal flares, screaming that they are dying – sometimes they just want an audience. You are not obligated to give them an audience. In fact, you owe it to yourself to walk away. You don’t need to adopt their damage or their baggage. It is not yours to carry.

If they spend more time batting away life rafts and using crampons as digging tools than they do trying to get out of their hole, they might not be ready yet. That’s okay. Give them a single use flare gun, tell them to fire it when they are serious about getting help, and walk away knowing that you have done everything you can, everything you need. When they decide to use the flare, as hard as it may be, trust it. Go back, ask them what they need and LISTEN. If you can help them without risking yourself, do so. If you need backup to help them, get it. If they need something that you can’t give, be honest and loving when you tell them no.

But above all, when they ask for help – believe that they mean it.

Learning to ask for help is often one of the hardest lessons we have to learn in this life. It takes many of us a few tries before we get it right.

Self care is important.

Love yourself, trust yourself, be true to yourself, take care of yourself. Forgive yourself – you’re not perfect either.

You can’t help anyone if you are depleted. You can’t help anyone if you fall over the edge of the cliff too. It’s much better to lower a rope than to jump in with someone.

This is life-guarding 101. Throw in a life raft before you risk jumping in to save a drowning person, because drowning people are often panicking and without meaning to, they will often pull you under with them.

Emergency first-aid 101 reminds us that the first step is to CHECK THE SCENE and make sure it is safe for us to help. If it isn’t safe for you – call for backup.

Recognize that some things are bigger than you.

ask for help

Impossible tasks become possible with help.

Know when to ask for help on behalf of your friend, family member – or yourself. Remember – their burdens and challenges are not yours to carry or to overcome. That is their path. You can help them, but you are not a stepping stone, a doormat, a ladder or a guide. You can be a resource. You can be a source of emotional support and encouragement – a cheerleader on the sidelines. But win or lose, it is their game to play. If they’re playing a game you don’t understand – find someone who does and enlist their help. I can’t help someone playing chess because it’s not my game, but I can introduce them to a chess master.

Remember that winning and losing are subjective.

What looks like a loss to you might feel like a win to them. Don’t judge their choices, they are making them to the best of their ability using the tools, information, belief systems and history that they have. Their box of tools is different from yours, therefore their choices will be different. Their goals are different from yours, therefore their choices will be different.

Different does not mean wrong.

They are on their own path, they have their own lessons to learn and their own victories to claim. Let them. Help them. Encourage them.

But… don’t get so wrapped up in their story that you lose sight of your own. Don’t get so wrapped up in their challenges that you forget to tackle your own.

If you find yourself spending more time on their path with them than on your own path, it’s okay to tell them you have to step away.

You can do this with love.

Remind them you are still available, but that you have a life that needs living too. Think of it this way – your friend is on an adventure, a journey. You’ve just realized that somehow you got roped into going with them, but suddenly your life calls. It needs you back. You and your friend can still send letters, but you can’t travel with them anymore.

They have their own journey – and so do you.

single track life

This bridge is not for everyone.

Stepping off their path and back onto your own can often be more helpful than walking with them. It shows them that there are other options, other choices available. It expands their view.

Imagine you’re walking through a dark forest. You can barely make out the path. Brambles are snagging you, slowing you down. Branches keep smacking you in the face. Everything feels unfriendly and prickly and scary. You don’t want to stop, so you keep going forward. It seems like the only option.

But then, your friend turns and says, “Hey, I’m going to go over there, into that clearing in the sun. I’m going to stretch my arms, flex my toes and see if there’s a path or a road.”

Suddenly the world opens up – head down through the brambles ISN’T the only option anymore.

Remember that fear makes it harder to see the big picture – it narrows our focus to fight or flight. Black and white. By staying calm, and staying outside of other people’s fear, you can help draw them out of it so they can see that there are more options, more choices, more paths available than the one that leads over the cliff.

But… That doesn’t mean they won’t still choose to go over the cliff.

Some people have to go over the edge before they can really believe that it is there.

That’s okay. That’s their choice, their path, their lesson.

Don’t go over with them, because… They might need someone to throw them a rope. Or a set of crampons.

Don’t go over with them because… They might have a wingsuit hidden under their clothes and it’ll save them, but it’s not designed to save two…

Don’t go over with them because… You have your own path to walk. Your own edge to explore. Your own appetite for wonders to fulfill.

In the end, remember the wise words of W. Edwards Deming – “Learning is not compulsory, but then, neither is survival.”

 

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The Big Long Young Adult Pregnancy Post

I spent Saturday at perhaps my favorite event of the year – the Colorado Teen Literature Conference in Denver.

This was my fourth year attending and my third year as a presenter.

I was honored this year to be asked to present two discussions, one on gender representation in Young Adult fiction and another on pregnancy and abortion in YA.

In the discussion on teen pregnancy, I realized I wanted to bring the conversation to a larger audience. This is a big topic and it deserves a bigger light.

Because the conclusion that I came to – after MONTHS of reading very little outside of YA fiction about teen pregnancy and teen parenting is that:

WE NEED MORE STORIES.

The vast majority of books covering this topic that I found covered it from a white Christian perspective. Those weren’t the only stories, but if you took all the books covering teen pregnancy and put them on one set of shelves, covered your eyes and pulled a random book off the shelf, you’d have about an 85% chance of grabbing a book written from a white christian point of view.

Because of this, there were some troubling common themes throughout the majority of the books I read. (Note not all of these themes are Christian, or Caucasian – but seem to reflect a larger cultural zeitgeist. One which does not include a great many people or their stories.)

They include such tired ideas as: “It’s all her fault.” No matter that there was a dude involved – only stupid girls, or very manipulative conniving girls, get pregnant.

Things like – Even though it’s all her fault, and she is the one who will have to carry the physical, mental, emotional (and at least half of the financial) burden of whatever comes next, the guy should have final say in what she does. (Though this theme came up many times, I am happy to say that by the end of these books, the girls almost always made their own choices. But doing so almost always resulted in a loss of support from the guy, from her parents, from her school, etc. The majority of these books implied that there were no good choices available to girls who got pregnant, only varying degrees of bad choices. The guys by comparison all got off pretty easy, even the one who chose to parent the child without the mother had to sacrifice very little to do so.)

One of the books, Detour for Emily by Marilyn Reynolds summed up the overall message best, “I think once you let yourself get pregnant, you have a lot to feel bad about, whether you keep the baby, or have an abortion, or put it up for adoption, you’re left with some bad feelings.”

This is problematic on a couple of levels – one, “let yourself get pregnant”… Most of the couples in these books were using some form of birth control. There were a couple of instances of “heat of the moment” unprotected sex, but overall, I wouldn’t say these girls “let themselves” do anything but have sex. Which leads back to another common theme – pregnancy as punishment for having sex out-of-wedlock. As if a wedding ring has magical powers to make it so you only get pregnant on purpose.

wedding birth control

“With this ring, God shall protect you from unwanted pregnancy…”

Second – while I agree that unplanned pregnancies are a challenge for most people, I disagree that the choice people make has to be riddled with guilt. It reminds me of the time I applied for a job with an organization working to end sexual assault. In order to interview I had to read and agree to a list of beliefs about sexual violence one of which was, “All forms of sexual violence are equally devastating.”

Reading through my own lens I read that as, “You must be devastated by your rape.” Which I wasn’t, and which I refused to be. I brought up their wording in my interview suggesting they make a small change, instead of stating unequivocally that all sexual assault IS devastating, why not say, “can be” which leaves more room for survivors to navigate and accept their own process.

I didn’t get the job, and they didn’t change their mission statement, but the lesson in language stayed with me – language matters. Word choice matters. Messages matter. And the messages we send teens matter a lot.

Which brings me to another disturbing theme in these books. The first question out of every male mouth when the girl first tells them, whether it’s the girl’s sexual partner, his best friend (in the instances where the partner died before the girl learned she was pregnant) or her father.

“Are you sure? How do you know it’s mine/his?”

Because… The very first reaction to a girl becoming pregnant in most of these books was to label her a slut. No matter if she got pregnant the first time she had sex, with the only person she had ever had sex with, or after a string of sexual partners – girls who get pregnant are clearly sluts in the eyes of their peers, and often in the eyes of their parents.

 

good girls get pregnant too

This is NOT a helpful message.

This reaction from the men in these girls’ lives ended up making them highly unsympathetic. Also, from a teen reader point of view, if I was in that vulnerable state and reading books to try to get help deciding what I should do – the message that was repeated over and over was – don’t go to any of the men in your life for help or support! That is a VERY harmful and dangerous message to be giving young women.

Mom’s in these books had at least a 50/50 shot at responding in a helpful manner. Best female friends seemed to be the best bet though.

The final major theme showed that most girls who choose abortion won’t go through with it because they will get to the clinic and suddenly realize that abortion is wrong! ACK! I’m not saying that there aren’t people who believe this – but most wouldn’t make it as far as the clinic to begin with. According to statistics, most women and teens who choose abortion follow through with that choice – whether that means that they must attend multiple counseling sessions, listen to their doctor read them a script filled with false and scary misinformation about abortion, wait three days, view an ultrasound, travel hundreds of miles, raise the money on their own, use unapproved and unsafe methods to self abort… Women who know they can’t have a child right now, know they can’t have a child and they will do what they need to do to not continue their pregnancy.

So after two months of reading, sighing a lot, reading, screaming, reading, throwing books across the room, reading, remembering and reading some more… I have come up with a partial list of stories that are not being told, that need to be told, that deserve to be told. Partial because, clearly I can’t think of all of the stories. There are approximately 3.4 million unintended pregnancies in the USA each year according to the CDC. Of those, 840,000 are teens. That means that each year 840,000 new young adult pregnancy stories are being lived.

Here are just a few that were missing or severely under represented in the YA books that I studied:

Islamic stories. Jewish stories. Buddhist, Hindu, Mormon and Catholic stories. Animist stories. Pagan stories. Agnostic and Atheist stories.

Latina/Hispanic stories. African American, Asian American, Indian American and Native American stories. Stories from all the many ethnicities, racial identities and cultural backgrounds that exist in this melting pot.

Immigrant stories. What about the stories of undocumented teens for whom accessing medical care is already tricksy. Now they must also deal with this. What about documented immigrants, still new, still struggling with language barriers, additional cultural barriers and uncertainty of their place.

What about the teens who don’t have health insurance? While that number is going down – those people still exist and pregnancy, prenatal care and birth all are ridiculously expensive in this country. Or what about the ones who are insured, but whose PRIVATE insurance isn’t allowed to cover abortion care?

Stories about girls who get pregnant as the result of rape. What about girls who get pregnant via rape in one of the 31 states where rapists are granted legal parental rights? How does that change her choices? Her options? What does that mean in practical terms?

Stories about girls who live in states which require parental consent for an abortion – and for whom that is not a safe option. How does a vulnerable teen navigate the court system in time? How does she afford an attorney to represent her case and convince the judge that asking her parents for permission is unsafe? What does that story look like?

Stories about girls who choose to keep their baby only to discover that their pregnancy is killing them – or that their fetus has complications that are not compatible with life – but only after she is 20 weeks along, when getting an abortion in her state is no longer a legal option. What happens to those girls?

Stories about pregnant teens for whom abortion is not an option – not because they believe it is wrong, but because where they live, there is no access to abortion. This is an increasingly common true story in America. It is one that I have witnessed.  There are many ways this story can go, they are all deserving of their place on the shelf if for no other reason than to remind people that there is nothing “pro-life” about letting women and girls suffer or die because they cannot access medical care.

How about telling a broader range of adoption stories, including girls being pressured and coerced into putting their children up for adoption. Or the girls who choose adoption and then give birth and change their minds? It’s not a common story, but it’s at least as common as girls who choose abortion and then change their minds – and that story was told in many of the books I read, so why not choosing to keep the child after previously agreeing to give it up for adoption? And what are the legal and social ramifications of that?

What of the kin-adoptions, which is the most common form of voluntary adoption, where a close relative adopts the baby? How does that play out? How does it feel to interact with the child you birthed while it is being parented by someone else? What if you don’t like the way they parent?

What about miscarriage and still birth? Or are those seen as taking the “easy way out” because they don’t force her to choose and then live with her choice? But what if she did choose and then, just like with a planned pregnancy that act of nature undoes her choice?

What about the planned teen pregnancy? Yes – they happen. What goes into making that choice? What does that process look like? Is the outcome any different than the teens who become pregnant on accident? Do these teens have parental support for their choice? Financial support?

What about the trans* teen who becomes pregnant? What do that person’s options look like? How are they treated?

Where are the stories about disabled teens who get pregnant – what do those stories look like? How does it change if the father is the one who is disabled, how does that change the conversation?

What about the girls who don’t choose abortion, or adoption, or parenting – what about the girls who find another option, a hidden option…

There was one book which talked about “Option D” for an unplanned pregnancy – infanticide. A book called After by Amy Efaw peeled back the curtain on the teen mother who throws her newborn infant into a dumpster. We tend to call these women monsters, this book helps make them human again.

We need more stories that are compassionate toward pregnant teens and teen parents – whatever road they end up walking.

Also – There are a ton of contemporary YA books dealing with teen pregnancy, but where is the fantasy, the sci-fi, the horror? Where is the genre fiction that deals with, touches on or explores teen pregnancy and teen parenting? We have Unwind by Neal Shusterman. Twilight or whatever the last book was called. Thumped and Bumped by Megan McCafferty, which I haven’t read but seem to be The Handmaid’s Tale but humorous and written specifically for teens.

What of high fantasy dealing with teen pregnancy? Or teen pregnancy in a space opera? Or the Rosemary’s Baby of teen pregnancy books?

And, because it isn’t all bad – what about the stories of teens who get pregnant and aren’t destroyed by it?

What about a story of a girl living her life, reaching for her goals, who gets pregnant and makes her choice and is able to continue with the rest of her journey? What about a story where a teen pregnancy is a part of the story, but it isn’t THE WHOLE story?

What about a story where a teen gets pregnant and makes her choice and feels good about it, and gets support for it from her sexual partner, from her family, from her friends and school. What about a story where a teen gets pregnant and it’s not a crisis?

How about a story about a teen who gets pregnant and is not required to give up her dreams and goals because of it? Nor even to delay them. One of the books I read, No More Saturday Nights by Norma Klein, followed a boy who sued his pregnant ex-girlfriend for custody of the child when he found out she was giving it up for adoption. He was then allowed to keep his scholarship to Columbia, move to New York City with a 5 week old infant, find housing and child care – which he could afford – go to class, maintain his required GPA to keep his scholarship, etc. Not a single book about a pregnant girl gave her this option to “have it all”. In part, that is because none of the books I read offered any of the girls the level of privilege and support that this boy received. So many people were willing to help this boy, give him a chance, offer him support that all he had to give up was wild Saturday nights and a little sleep.

There are so very many stories out there to choose from. Even something as simple as changing the point of view changes the story completely.

One of the books I loved most out of the mix was Things I Can’t Forget by Miranda Kenneally, author of Catching Jordan. Things I Can’t Forget follows a teen girl who was raised in a strict fundamentalist Christian home and church. She is grappling with herself and her relationship with God after helping her best friend obtain an abortion – something she believes with all her heart to be sinful and wrong. She is struggling to reconcile what she did, and why she did it with her beliefs about her God. It is a very compassionate and caring book. If it had been told from the POV of the girl who had the abortion, it would have been a completely different story.

Miranda’s acknowledgements sum it up nicely,

“When I left Middle Tennessee and moved to Washington, D.C., I found that my beliefs began to change. To this day, I don’t really know what I believe, but that’s okay. With this story, I want to show you (teenagers) that your beliefs matter – no matter who you are or where you come from. Your opinions matter. You matter.

“To me nothing was scarier than understanding that my truth wasn’t everyone else’s truth. It took a while, but I discovered that’s okay – it’s better if I do the things I want to do and believe what I want to believe. I hope you find your truth.”

Ultimately, that is the take home from my months and months of reading non-stop pregnant and parenting teen books – there are many stories, many truths. They are all equally valid. They all deserve to be told. And they all come together to help others understand that their story is not the only story, their truth is not the only truth.

We are all here on this marble just doing our best, trying to get by the best we can with the tools we have. And we could all, regardless of our circumstance, regardless of our choices, use a little compassion, a little understanding.

A little less “Are you sure?” and a little more “How can I help?”

And one of the ways we can all help is by expanding the story to let more people in.

 

 

 

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