We like to think we’ve come so far with respect to women’s rights and while I admit there has been a great deal of progress, there are still some things that I feel should no longer be things in 2016. Society still seems to have an unwritten code of conduct for women and this code holds us to a very different standard from our male counterparts.
Rule #1: Never stand up for yourself or anything you believe in.
Women who stand up for themselves and are vocal about it are immediately labeled as a “bitch” or “volatile” or “difficult.” Talk to any woman and chances are she’ll tell you that she’s experienced this. I have enough firsthand knowledge to teach a Master’s program in it. Meanwhile, men who don’t stand up for themselves are labeled as a part of the female anatomy that Donald Trump seems to think you can grab.
Rule #2: Never show anger or frustration.
Don’t. Just don’t. Everyone will assume that you’re on your period or “not getting any,” even other women. Meanwhile men can be as angry and frustrated as they please. This is nuts. If every woman who’s ever been angry or frustrated felt that way because she was on her period then women have been on their periods non-stop since the DAWN OF FREAKIN’ TIME! If that were true the feminine hygiene product industry would be booming and we’d have no national debt. If every woman who’s ever been angry or frustrated felt that way because she was “not getting any,” humanity would’ve died out by now. Maybe that woman isn’t on her period or sexually frustrated. Maybe she’s angry and frustrated because you’re an ass! If you say stuff like this, grow up.
Rule #3: Never go jogging alone at night or in broad daylight, never go to a party, never go to a bar, never go out on a date, never have any alcoholic beverages of any kind, never wear a skirt, never wear pants, never go to sleep in your own home, never go out to the store during the day or at night…screw it. Basically never leave your house if you don’t want to risk being attacked or raped.
From the time I was twelve, I was conditioned to always be aware of my surroundings and always be ready to defend myself because there are people out there who want to try to make me into a victim for no other reason than the fact that I was born female. That’s a pretty young age to have your whole childhood just end for you, isn’t it? As teenagers women deal with men old enough to be our fathers objectifying us before we’re even fully aware of what that means. We’re conditioned to cater to and coddle the male ego because God forbid the guy we’re turning down for a date or a drink just snaps when we tell him we’re not interested. We can’t even walk down the street minding our own business without constantly looking over our shoulders. Even falling asleep in your own home is dangerous. A woman in NJ went to sleep in her home and woke up to find a man raping her. She reported it and cooperated with police only to have a judge tell her she wasn’t raped because she wasn’t awake to say no. We can’t even report a rape without having to answer a series of victim-shaming questions. “What were you wearing? How many drinks did you have? Were you intoxicated? Did you flirt with him?” Women and young girls get this mixed message that our bodies belong to us and no one is entitled to them without our consent and then we’re told in the same breath to be careful because if the wrong guy takes a liking to us we might just get raped. I have an idea! WHY DON’T WE TEACH MEN AND YOUNG BOYS TO KEEP IT IN THEIR PANTS?!?!?!?!
Rule #4: Never be proud of your body, dress in a way that flatters you too much, or try to own your sexuality.
Women who do any of the above are immediately labeled “sluts” or if your prefer as a T.H.O.T. (That Hoe Over There). Men can wear and do whatever or whomever they please and people not only respect it, they also glorify it and high five them to congratulate them on their latest sexual conquest. Sex should not be about conquest. Ladies and gentlemen we’re not at war. Treating sex as an act of conquest is too close to treating sex as an act of violence. This mentality is why rape culture exists. Sex should be about mutual love and connection to another person. Despite the strides we’ve made women are still viewed as objects or prizes to be won. I’m sorry boys, but this isn’t a carnival game. If you have a conquest mentality, don’t step right up. Step right off.
There is undeniably room for growth here. First, ladies we need to build each other up. If you see someone standing up for herself, stand with her. Take care of yourselves, take care of each other, and for God’s sake stop calling other women sluts because you’re jealous that you don’t look as good as they do. If we don’t build each other up, we’re just getting in our own way and impeding our own progress.
Men, get it together. I know that there are good men out there. I’m personally acquainted with several. Guys, we know you care about us. This is your fight, too. If you hear one of your friends being a misogynist ass, tell him off. There are a great many things I’d like to say to misogynists, but they all end with “and the horse you rode in on” and it’s not like they’d listen anyway, so this is where I’ll jump off my soap box. Let’s do better, people.
WARNING! THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT CAUGHT UP ENTIRELY WITH THE MOST CURRENT SEASON OF GAME OF THRONES. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Season 6 of Game of Thrones premiered April 24, 2016. This season is a landmark in the TV series because something unprecedented has happened: the TV series has pulled ahead of the books. Lovers of the books fear not! According to various sources The Winds of Winter is set to be released in early 2017. Hopefully we’ll have enough time to read it before Season 7 starts next April. This season was one hell of a ride.
Episode 1: The Red Woman
We pick up where Season 5 left off. Ser Davos finds Jon Snow’s body and carries it into a room with help from Jon’s friends. They lock themselves in to keep Alliser Thorne from burning his body and releasing Ghost north of the Wall. Sansa and Theon are rescued by Brienne and Pod and Sansa takes Brienne into her service. Brienne finally gets to fulfill her oath to Catelyn Stark at least partially. Jaime arrives at King’s Landing with Myrcella’s body. All hell breaks loose in Dorne when Oberyn Martell’s paramour and her daughters known as the Sand Snakes kill Oberyn’s brother Prince Doran, his faithful bodyguard Areo Hotah and Doran’s heartbroken son Trystane who had just lost the love of his life. Daenerys is taken by the Dothraki and Arya is living in the street as a blind beggar getting daily beatings from the Waif. We find out that Melisandre is actually an old Crone and who’s lost faith in her god. I believe I speak for all of us when I say that her naked absurdly old body was not a visual we needed. I can’t un-see that.
Episode 2: Home
Roose Bolton celebrates the birth of a son before getting stabbed by Ramsay who then feeds the infant and Walda to his dogs. Brienne tells Sansa that Arya is still alive. Balon Greyjoy is reunited with his estranged brother, Euron who promptly murders him. Arya returns to the House of Black and White. Tyrion has a hilarious conversation with then unchains Rhaegal and Viserion. Bran travels back in time to Winterfell and sees a young Ned, Benjen, Lyanna, and Hodor. Jaime threatens the High Sparrow, Tommen asks Cersei to teach him to grow a set, and Davos persuades Melisandre to try resurrecting Jon Snow. This appears to fail until the very last second of the episode when he suddenly awakens. I’m not ashamed to admit I cheered.
Episode 3: Oathbreaker
Jon Snow’s first official act as resurrected Lord Commander is to execute Alliser Thorne and the other mutineers. He then decides to leave the Wall since after all, his Watch has ended. Sam tells Gilly that he intends to leave her and the baby with his family at Horn Hill while he travels to Oldtown to become a maester. Bran sees a vision of the Tower of Joy in Dorne and watches his father and Meera’s father, Lord Howland Reed kill Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning. We hear a woman scream and the Three-Eyed Raven calls Bran back just as we see Ned ascending the stairs. What a tease! Daenerys is brought before the Dosh Khaleen and clearly not ready for retirement. Rickon, Osha, and Shaggydog’s head are brought to Ramsay Bolton. Must we kill the direwolves, people?!
Episode 4: Book of the Stranger
I’ll admit that I cried at the reunion of Sansa with Jon Snow at Castle Black. I applauded their decision to march south and take back Winterfell. Tyrion brokers peace with the slave masters. Littlefinger returns to the Vale to mobilize the army against Ramsay Bolton. Margaery visits Loras in church jail and tries to comfort him. Cersei, Jaime, Kevan, and the Queen of Thornes make a plan to stop the High Sparrow. Theon arrives at Pyke to find his father murdered and pledges to support his sister’s claim to the Seastone Chair. Daario finds out about Jorah’s greyscale and they arrive in Vaes Dothrak to rescue Daenerys. The episode ends with Daenerys torching the temple of the Dosh Khaleen killing all of the Khals and emerging unhurt prompting thousands of Dothraki to follow her.
Episode 5: The Door
This one hit me right in the feels. It began with Littlefinger offering to help Sansa. She turned him down then sent Brienne to try to convince the Blackfish Brynden Tully, her great uncle to rally to her cause. She and Jon begin looking for support among the other Northern houses. Arya is given a mission to kill an actress. We learn that the Children of the Forest created the White Walkers during a war with the First Men. Euron Greyjoy admits to fratricide but still wins at the Kingsmoot. Turns out the Ironborn would rather be led by a murderer than a woman. Yara and Theon flee with the entire fleet. Daenerys learns of Jorah’s greyscale. Tyrion and Varys meet with a red priestess Kinarva who offers her support to Daenerys. Bran is touched by the Night King who assaults the cave with hordes of wights and White Walkers. The Three-Eyed Raven, several Children of the Forest, and Summer the direwolf are all casualties, but the one that weighs on this heart is Hodor. Hodor’s younger self is rendered mentally incapacitated through Bran’s travel to the past. Seeing your own gruesome death could do that to a kid and theDoctor Who writers say, “You’re welcome,” for the plot device. Jokes aside, this says a lot about Hodor. He always knew he was going to die and stayed with Bran anyway.
Episode 6: Blood of My Blood
We finally find out what happened to Uncle Benjen who disappeared during Season 1. Sam and Gilly arrive in Horn Hill and after the most awkward family dinner ever, they leave with the family’s ancestral Valyrian steel sword, Heartsbane in the middle of the night. Arya warns the actress Lady Crane instead of killing her. The Waif is instructed to kill Arya for this infraction. Jaime and Mace Tyrell attempt to protect Margaery from the Faith, but Tommen beats him to the punch by forming an alliance with the High Sparrow. Jaime’s dismissed from the Kingsguard and ordered to Riverrun to retake the castle from the Blackfish. The episode ends with Daenerys on Drogon’s back rallying the Dothraki to take Westeros with her.
Episode 7: The Broken Man
Margaery persuades Grandma Tyrell to return to Highgarden after the High Sparrow issues a veiled threat. Jon, Sansa, and Davos recruit the Wildlings and House Mormont, but they still remain outnumbered. Sansa writes a letter in secret begging for help. Lyanna Mormont became my homegirl. Jaime arrives at Riverrun and attempts to parley with the Blackfish unsuccessfully. We find out The Hound is still alive and was saved by a Septon. When renegades threaten then slaughter the group of followers of the Faith, Clegane seeks revenge. Theon and Yara spend the night in partying Volantis. The episode ends with Arya securing passage to Westeros but being attacked by the Waif and escaping badly wounded and yes, I lost my shit.
Episode 8: No One
Tommen abolishes trial by combat and Cersei realizes how very screwed she is. Brienne attempts unsuccessfully to convince the Blackfish to help Sansa. Jaime threatens Edmure Tully’s young son if he doesn’t convince his uncle to stand down. He complies and the Blackfish is killed by Lannister men. Or was he? We never saw a body. Pod and Brienne escape. Varys leaves on an unknown mission. The Hound kills the renegades who slaughtered the Septon and his followers and encounters Ser Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr. Lady Crane takes Arya in and heals her wounds but the Waif arrives, kills Lady Crane, then chases Arya through the streets. Arya leads her with a trail of her own blood into the catacombs where she’s waiting for her with Needle. After literally cutting the lights Arya returns to the House of Black and White and the Waif’s face goes to the wall. Arya Stark is my homegirl.
Episode 9: Battle of the Bastards
OMG OMG OMG Daenerys deals with the slaver’s fleet with Drogon , Rhaegal, and Viseron. Grey Worm kills two of the three masters, leaving one alive to tell the tale. Daenerys agrees to an alliance with Greyjoy siblings once Yara agrees that the constant reaving of the Ironborn will stop. Then the Battle of the Bastards. It starts with Ramsay using Rickon to draw Jon Snow and his men into the open and killing him in the process. Who the hell forgot to teach Rickon that you run in a zig-zag pattern when being shot at? Jon Snow and his men get stuck in a pincer move until the knights of the Vale arrive at the last second. Ramsay turns tail and runs and Jon, Tormund, and Wun Wun give chase. Wun Wun sacrifices himself to get through the gates of Winterfell and Jon proceeds to beat the piss out of Ramsay. I can’t begin to tell you how satisfying that was to watch. Even more satisfying was seeing Ramsay tied to a chair in the kennel with his “faithful” hounds who he hasn’t fed in seven days. Let this be a lesson to those who abuse or neglect animals. I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that his last words were “No! Down! Sit! Bad dog! “
Episode 10: Season Finale: The Winds of Winter
Again OMG OMG OMG. All hell has broken loose in Westeros. I’m still trying to process the first 10 minutes. Cersei and Qyburn have Grand Maester Pycelle killed and blow up the Sept with wildfire killing Margaery, the High Sparrow, Mace Tyrell, Loras Tyrell, the entire Faith Militant and hundreds of King’s Landing nobles and citizens. When Tommen finds out, he throws himself out a window. Davos loses it on Melisandre when he confronts her about Shereen. Jon Snow banishes her from Winterfell. Littlefinger shares his dream of sitting the Iron Throne with Sansa at his side, but she’s clearly unimpressed. The remaining houses of the North pledge their support to Jon Snow and name him King in the North. The Freys hold a banquet to celebrate the retaking of Riverrun and Jaime Lannister tells Walder Frey exactly how useless he is. We finally get to see the rest of our vision from the Tower of Joy when Ned finds a dying Lyanna and takes her newborn son as his bastard. This confirms the wildly popular theory of Rheagar + Lyanna = Jon Snow…or does it? Sam and Gilly make it to Oldtown and Sam practically weeps for joy at the sight of the library. Jaime returns to Kings Landing to find the Sept of Baelor a smoldering ruin and Cersei crowning herself as Queen. We see Arya Stark feed Walder Frey his own children in a pie before slicing his throat. That was so satisfying. Grandma Tyrell didn’t go back to Highgarden. She went to Dorne and has allied what remains of House Tyrell with Dorne and Daenerys through the work of Varys. The episode ends with Daenerys mobilizing a crap ton of ships and her dragons to sail for Westeros. Fire and blood.
Here are my key takeaways:
1. This season had the highest body count of any previous season. Valar Morghulis.
2. For those keeping score at home, Daenerys has roughly 40,000 Dothraki, 8,000 Unsullied, the Ironborn longships and their crews, the Tyrell army, Dorne, and three dragons. By my count she easily has the largest and most skilled army in Westeros and SHE HAS FREAKIN’ DRAGONS!!!!! She’s also done what Aegon the Conqueror couldn’t and by bringing Dorne to her side.
3. The possibility of Sandor Clegane getting his wish and killing his brother (hopefully for good) is still alive.
4. Most of Cersei’s prophecy from Maggy the Frog has been fulfilled. The worst of it is yet to come and she has no idea. I don’t want her to die until the very end because she’s that character I love to hate, but oh is that ever going to be satisfying.
5. Arya Stark has made a list and she’s checking it twice. Anyone else who still remains from that list better watch their asses.
6. Melisandre could still have a part to play in the war to come between the living and the dead.
7. The dragon has three heads. We (tentatively) know of two: Daenerys and Jon Snow. There’s still a third dragon floating about somewhere and fan theories abound as to who it is and how he/she will arrive in the TV series. There’s a lot to look forward to next season and the books to come.
Masonry has built my life. When I say Masonry I’m not talking about anything related to bricks or mortar. I’m talking about the Freemasons. I’ll make this abundantly clear: The Freemasons aren’t about hiding some sort of huge amount of treasure, being a part of some kind of global conspiracy, or the sacrificial slaughter of goats. The Freemasons are about being good men but always working to become better. The Freemasons are a charitable organization dedicated to service.
Women and children are not eligible to become Masons themselves, but there are several organizations they can take part in. Two of the most prominent youth organizations are Order of Demolay for boys and the International Order of Rainbow for girls. If you have a child between the ages of 11 and 20 and you’re looking for something to pull them away from social media, look no further. Demolay and Rainbow will give them the opportunity to participate in service projects and meet and interact with other kids in a way that doesn’t involve pointing, clicking, or tapping. It looks a lot better on a college application than wiling away hour upon hour on social media or playing video games.
Two of the largest women’s organizations are Order of the Eastern Star and Order of the Amaranth. Though the youth and women’s organizations are not part of the Fraternity, they are closely related to it and have the same purpose. These organizations have participated in service projects and raised millions for charities like the American Cancer Society and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund.
I was proudly raised in a Masonic family. My great-grandmother was a member of Eastern Star. My grandfather was a Mason, a Tall Cedar, an Eastern Star, belonged to the Scottish Rite, and was a Shriner. My grandmother belonged to Eastern Star, Amaranth, and White Shrine. My mother and aunt both belonged to Rainbow and belong to Eastern Star. My mother was a Grand Officer in Rainbow and is a Master of the Grand Cross of Color, the highest honor conferred by the organization for service above and beyond what is required of a Rainbow girl. I’m fourth generation Eastern Star and I’ve had the honor of serving as Worthy Matron of my Chapter and being a Past Grand Officer in the Grand jurisdiction of New Jersey. Freemasonry is in my blood
I can honestly say that joining Eastern Star was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Being a member of Eastern Star has allowed me to give back to my community, has given me experiences that I will never forget, and has made me a better-rounded person. Clone Club is awesome but, to be a part of Eastern Star is to be part of a sisterhood like no other. It even led me into comedy. If I never joined Star, I might never have met my friend and comedy Mr. Miyagi Kurt Zimmerman.
I love being a part of an organization that treats me like family. It’s also fun to tell people that my mother and aunt are also my Sisters for the looks on people’s faces. Today’s a big day in my Masonic family. The Rainbow Assembly my Chapter co-sponsors is Installing a brand new Worthy Advisor. These girls are my friends’ children. Fraternally speaking, you could say they’re my nieces so I’m excited for them. I’m a bit thrown for a loop. The incoming Worthy Advisor thinks I’m cool and asked me to be her guest speaker.
You read correctly: Someone actually thinks this Doctor Who loving, Game of Thrones obsessed, polyhedral dice throwing, Harry Potter cosplaying, comic book convention attending geek is cool. I know what you’re thinking: Dear Lord why?! I don’t know! Pursuant to insults hurled my way throughout my school career and snickering and pointing from my colleagues and even managers I’m geek and therefore not cool. Could it be that the people who’ve made fun of me all my life are, I’m really going to enjoy saying this: WRRRRROOOOOOOONNNNGGGGG?!?!?! Stranger things have happened.
I share a lot of interests with the girls that belong to the Assembly, but I have my suspicions that there’s a deeper reason that I get swarmed by Rainbow girls every time I come out to their events, which to me is every bit as awesome being swarmed by puppies. I don’t think it’s the fact that if I showed up to a meeting in a white dress, there’s a good chance the Mother Advisor would mistake me for one of them since they’re all taller than me. I’ve actually been meaning to try this. It would make an epic prank.
Nevertheless I’ll be the first to admit that the idea of a bunch of girls seeing me as a role model is a wee bit terrifying, but there are worse role models they could be following. There’s Lindsay Lohan, any woman with the last name of Kardashian, the people who made fun of me in high school, and my colleagues and managers who point and snicker at me when they think I can’t see or hear them just to give a few examples. Despite being a comedian, I am a functional member of society. I don’t do drugs, I drink only in moderation, I don’t carry on like a Kardashian, and I sure as heck don’t make fun of people even if they like something odd.
So maybe all of the people who made fun of me are in fact, this is going to be epic, wrong wrongity wrong wrong wrong! I might never have figured this out if I had never had the good sense to take part in my Masonic heritage. I think that’s the best gift that having Freemasonry in my life has ever given me, so big time thanks to them. Despite my lack of height I can still stand tall knowing that I’ve got a solid foundation.
This entry is an inside look into a key part of my stand-up act: my mother. Upon reading my recent entry (Why Comedy?), she pointed out that there were no pictures of her featured in it. My mother turns being passive-aggressive into an art form. When I called her on it, she claimed she was joking. She wasn’t joking. I got trolled by my mother. Nevertheless, per her complaint I am going to rectify the lack of pictures of her on my blog as I give you an inside look at one of the biggest characters in my act.
I’ve talked about our family sarcasm or what we call the Barton sarcasm. It was passed on to me from my grandparents through my mother. In a lot of ways, I owe the bit of success I’ve had in stand-up to her and her more interesting personality quirks. We have a bit of a unique relationship. When annoyed, my immediate impulse is to get smart with the person annoying me. As is the case with all children, my mother has annoyed me a lot. She would probably say the same about me and she shares the impulse to use sarcasm. This has made for some very interesting interactions like this one:
Me: Mom, can you pull in your chair? I can’t around the table.
Mom: *trademark sigh* (Grudgingly pulls in her chair) You know maybe if your ass wasn’t so big you’d be able to get around the table without me having to move.
Me: You know what, mom? You can bite my ass.
Mom: Pick a spot. You’re all ass.
The reason I get away with being smart with my mom is twofold. First, she knows not to take it personally and second, my use of sarcasm is proof that I’m her kid and she feels a bit of pride in passing that on to her progeny. I never mind when my mom gets smart with me because I too know not to take it personally and I know she really can’t help it.
My mom has other quirks besides the genetic sarcasm and her trademark sigh that are just hilarious and absolutely beg to be stand-up material. She has the most epic road rage. I’ve taken to calling it Driver’s Tourette’s and I’ve even done a bit about it (Grammy Road Rage). She also has a stellar reputation among customer service agents far and wide. She should be the final exam for every call center agent. You pass if you successfully get through the call without crying or running screaming from the building. She’s a retired nurse who strikes fear in the hearts of all hospital interns. She makes a horrible hospital patient. I’ve done a bit about that, too. (My mother: Worst Hospital Patient Ever) She also has a hellacious case of OCD that would both disturb and baffle the psychiatric community.
There is a reason for her quirks. She’s impatient. There’s really no nice way to say it. She spent her entire 30+ year nursing career being in a hurry to care for her patients, so it almost puts the Driver’s Tourette’s in perspective…almost. As for her relationship with customer service agents, I’ll say it again: she’s impatient. After spending 30+ years providing the best possible care to her patients, she expects to receive the same level of excellent service wherever she does business. She’s always told us that when you’re in the hospital you can either talk to the doctor who’s treating you or the nurse who knows what’s really going on. I’ll give you one guess as to who my mother would rather hear from. She has a very wide knowledge base when it comes to medicine and it’s pretty much impossible for her to switch that off retired or not, sick or not. After working 30+ years in a hospital cleanliness becomes less a habit and more an obsession, so one could argue that my mom’s OCD was inevitable.
They say every woman eventually becomes her mother and while I’m fully aware that there are much worse things I could become, I still find the fact that I’ve inherited some of the very traits I’ve made jokes about a little disconcerting. I too shout at other drivers as if they can hear me. Having spent time working in quality assurance, I also expect to receive excellent customer service everywhere I do business. Being of small stature and therefore the least threatening woman on the planet, I don’t exactly strike fear into my less experienced coworkers or anyone else for that matter. However, I promise you if you’re coming to me with a question, you better get out a notebook and pen and put an apple on my desk because you will be schooled. I’m really not obsessed with cleanliness, but God help you if you move something and don’t tell me. I also can’t get out of my car until I’ve parked it perfectly and if I’m the passenger there’s a good chance I’ll beg you to let me fix your jacked up park job. I guess it’s true: mental illness really does run in the family.
There’s a great deal that my mother and I have learned from each other. It would take forever to go into detail about what I’ve learned from my mother. After all she taught me how to use a fork. There’s a great deal my mother has learned from me other than how to use her various technological devices. I didn’t inherit her passive-aggressive trait and in so doing, I’ve taught her that not everything can or should be candy-coated and sometimes it’s okay to be as subtle as a brick through a window. I had hoped this post would teach her not to mess with a comedian, but I think that hope is a little too far-flung. By now, she probably understands the reason why lions eat their young.