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January, 2017:

Trump’s Tweets Analyzed

In my life before law school, I was a licensed mental health counselor. One of the lessons we learned in our masters program was that anger is almost always a secondary emotion for sadness or fear. If a client came into my office and was fuming mad, it usually meant they were sad or scared.

Donald Trump – Caricature by DonkeyHotey from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Do you read Donald Trump’s tweets? Have you read them since he took office? He seems to be spewing anger, which I think is a sign of his own insecurities and fears. (It doesn’t surprise me that his actions and statements have led to accusations that he has a micropenis; he seems to be excessively compensating for something. It’s so over-the-top.) Looking at his tweets just since January 20, 2017, I produced a list of things he appears to be afraid of:

  • New York Times
  • Washington Post
  • CNN
  • Barack Obama
  • Chicago – or being murdered
  • Mexico – or being labeled as someone who can’t keep their campaign promises
  • Chelsea Manning – or people who will expose his secrets
  • Anyone who isn’t a U.S. citizen
  • Anyone who voted against him
  • Celebrities who oppose him

Looking at this list, I wonder if Donald Trump is afraid of the Constitutional rights to free speech, assembly, and religion – all of which come down to freedom of thought and expression. I would not be surprised if he’s afraid of anyone he can’t control, especially anyone who might cast him in a bad light.

Reading Trump’s tweets reminded me of the documentary, Tough Guise, which examines how boys are socialized in the U.S. and what it means to be a “man.”

This film also examines the impact of race on notions of masculinity and how white men have been in a place of privilege in society for much of American history over women and men with other skin colors. Some white men find moving towards social equality threatening because it means that they will be on equal footing as others whereas the fact that they were born with pale skin and a penis previously gave them an advantage. To them, equality means losing their status, which they find intimidating because it means they have to compete with a larger pool of people. It means losing their advantage.

I would not be surprised if Trump has this mindset – not that I expect him to admit it or be self-aware enough to acknowledge it. I suspect he sees everyone who isn’t like him or does not agree with him as a threat. If he wasn’t in a position of power, I would feel sorry for him. Unfortunately for him, Trump was hired for a temp job and the American people are his boss. We have an obligation to continue to corral and correct him, regardless of how many tantrums his throws on social media.

The Next Four Years . . .

It’s still a bit surreal that Donald Trump is the next U.S. President. While part of me is still reeling from the fact that he won the election, I’m trying to be forward thinking and looking for ways to be realistically optimistic. The night is darkest right before dawn and there can be good that comes out of the worst circumstances. Instead of dwelling on my frustration and apprehension for what’s to come, I tried to shift my perspective to see where there are opportunities with this new administration.

Naked Trump by Len Smith from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Betting on the Trump Presidency
If you are the betting type, you can place bets on the Trump presidency at casino sport books and other betting establishments throughout the world. I suspect there’s an over/under bet for the number of days he’ll actually be in office. (Right now, my gut feeling says he’ll survive at least one year, but not three.) I wonder if you can place a bet on whether he’ll build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Deliveries to the White House
I believe in sending letters and calling your representative to tell them what you want and what issues are important to you. I also endorse campaigns that send a powerful message, like sending crocheted vaginas to representatives to endorse the Violence Against Women Act and the Postcard Avalanche opposing Steven Bannon’s appointment to Trump’s cabinet.

With the suspected Trump kompromat, I would not be surprised if there’s an influx of packages to the White House from rubber sheet manufacturers. If you’re going to set him a set as a housewarming present, please select an American company – support the economy.

And since Trump is Trump, and there is a Republican majority in both Houses, I hope there’s an increase in deliveries from Dicks By Mail (gummy penis candies) to elected officials from their constituents if/when they act against what’s in the best interest of the public.  Ditto for Glitter Bombs and Poop Senders.

Micropenis Greeting Cards
Although there are a few options out there, there is an untapped market for greeting cards and postcards that communicate the message:

We get it.
You have a small penis.
Please stop acting like a dick.

I’d love to see what The Oatmeal could create in this genre.

EDIT: I couldn’t wait to see what someone else would create. I created it myself.

American Flag by Daniel Zimmerman from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Donations to Civil Rights and Health Organizations
There have been drinking games and bingo card incorporated into the watching of the presidential debates and other political speeches. But instead of buying booze, there could be a better way to put our dollars towards causes we care about.

I loved he influx of donations to Planned Parenthood in Mike Pence’s name following the election. To continue this trend, I endorse the idea of making a donation to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Anti-Defamation League, or similar organization every time Trump makes a racist, homophobic, or misogynistic statement.  For someone who extremely generous, expand this to everyone in the Trump Cabinet.

Increased Political Activism
Since the election, I’ve seen people become more politically involved, even friends who have shied away from doing anything political besides voting. (If you don’t vote, you can’t bitch.) With this new administration, we’re going to see more people being diligent and fervent about calling out elected officials when they do a poor job. (Don’t forget to applaud them for a job well-done too!) If you want to vote with your wallet, and boycott companies that carry Trump products, here’s the list.

If you hold public office, you work for us – and it’s a temp job. Expect more than annual review. I haven’t seen such a large population of people be this angry and motivated to take action. It’s exciting to see so many people putting their time, energy, and money where their mouth is. It’s going to be an exciting four years.

First Week in Invisalign

Part of my year of investing in myself includes resetting my smile with Invisalign. I have a deep overbite that needs to be corrected or else I’ll be at risk of pushing them even further out of alignment and breaking my teeth. I’ll be fixing my teeth over a 53-week period with new trays each week. I never had braces as a kid, just a head gear and a wireless retainer, so I’m grateful for all the helpful advice from friends who survived braces or Invisalign before me.

My Next Seven Weeks of Invisalign Trays

Dinosaur Teeth
The way Invisalign works is they glue little anchors to the outside of 12 of your teeth – 6 on top, 6 on the bottom – and the trays snap to them and your teeth when you put them in. When I take out my trays for meals, my teeth feel so weird with the anchors attached to them. I call them my dinosaur teeth. It’s bizarre having extra ridges in my mouth.

Best Diet Ever
The instructions say to wear the trays 22 hours a day, only removing them for meals and brushing. The only thing I can have when they’re in is cool water. I’m definitely going to stay hydrated with this adventure.

Although it’s getting easier to attach and remove my Invisalign trays from my teeth, each time I do it, it’s uncomfortable – and that’s putting it mildly. It hurts. Getting them out the first time was so challenging, I was afraid I was going to have to call my orthodontist for help. Each time I want to eat, I have to decide if what I want is worth going through the process of removing and reattaching my trays.

22 Hours a Day

As a habitual snacker, these trays are changing the way I eat, shifting from eating throughout the day to eating mostly meals. I’m also being more thoughtful about what I eat while my teeth are sore. One friend warned me that she was sore for the first month she wore Invisalign trays. My friends gave me lots of suggestions of soft foods that sustained them during teeth straightening.

Since I’m supposed to wear my trays 22 hours a day, I also have to change the way I drink coffee. I used to sip my coffee all morning, from walking my dog before sunrise until lunchtime. Now that I have to minimize the amount of time I have my trays out of my mouth, I down my two cups of coffee first thing in the morning.

No Relief
Unlike the relief of taking off my bra at the end of a long day, there’s no break from Invisalign. My teeth hurt when I pop my trays in and out and they’re sore throughout the day. I’m told the pain will decrease, but I suspect I’m going to be sore for a few days every week when I switch change to the next set of trays each week and my teeth readjust to their new position. I’ll try not to be too grumpy.

Did I mention wearing Invisalign trays is giving me touch of a lisp? I’ve always said I have an inner gay man, now I have a stereotypical voice to match. I have to be extra thoughtful about enunciating my words. They say this is temporary too.

Looking at my teeth with and without Invisalign – realigning my teeth with be worth it, and will hopefully only take 53 weeks to finish the process. Besides fixing my teeth, I think my new smile will elongate my face and give me a better chin.

Fear is Not an Excuse

The year just started, and I already have a plate filled with big projects – an online course, another book, and taking the California Bar Exam this summer. The primary guiding rule for all of my projects is “Fear is not an excuse for not making progress.”

Photo by Bob Johnson

Truth be told, the prospect of creating this online course, “Lights, Camera, Lawsuit – The Legal Side of Professional Photography,” scares the bejezus out of me. I’ve never done anything like this before. Creating the materials will be a lot of work, and will include doing my first voiceover. Each of the 22 lessons will be a slide deck with a voiceover presentation. There will be lots of opportunities to screw things up.

Despite my apprehension, I really don’t have much to worry about. I’m going to use Jason Zook’s platform, Teachery, and borrow a format that he used in a course I purchased from him. If I get stuck when it comes to the nuts and bolts of creating the course, I know he’ll be there to help. And I already have people who have expressed interest in buying the course once it’s available.

My goal is to have the course materials completed, edited, and tested by a handful of photographers before releasing it to the public by the end of March. There is much to be done between now and then, and being afraid of making mistakes or launching a dud are not excuses. In the words of the great late Carrie Fisher:

Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.

Let’s hope so. Right now, my plan is to keep moving forward, without letting fear about how others will perceive the final product paralyze me. Thanks to the Wall of Pain (aka my wall-size color-coded to-do list), it’s easy to break down this project into manageable chunks. I don’t have to worry about the final product – just whatever’s next on the to-do list.

I’m so grateful I don’t have to work on this project alone. I have an amazing group of photographer-friends who provide feedback when needed, an incredible mastermind group with skills I can call upon to help create and market this course, and a loving community of friends who support my crazy endeavors.

If you have daunting projects on your horizon, I hope you’re keeping the fear monsters at bay.