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Ruth Carter

Undeniable Recap of 2018

It’s been a busy year, and I’ve barely blogged a thing. Sorry about that. I’ll do better in 2019.

I’m glad I keep my jar of happy memories next to my bed to remind me of all the good things that happened this year. Sometimes with everything that was happening in the world, it was challenging to remember that everything doesn’t suck all the time. So many good things happened that I had to do more than a top five list:

Top 5 Events

1. Non-Binary Birth Certificate: I am officially legally non-binary! I had my California birth certificate corrected and re-issued, so now it states that I’m non-binary. For now, I can’t get a non-binary driver’s license in Arizona, but I’m working on it. I hope to influence the State to pass a bill that will allow non-binary birth certificates and driver’s licenses next session. Having a non-binary birth certificate also makes me want to go to states that have passed “bathroom bills” and ask where my restroom is.

2. First Marathon and Triathlon: I finished a marathon this past January. By Mile 20, I was hurting but also planning for my next race (which will be in February 2019). During the off season, I had Coach David add biking and swimming to my workouts for cross training. A few months later I signed up for my first sprint triathlon – just to see if I liked it. Less than 100 yards into the swim I thought, “Yeah, I like this.”

3. Christopher Creek Lodge Vacation: I shipped Rosie and myself away from society for a few days to stay at a cabin with bad wi-fi. We spent a lot of time reading, watching nature, rejuvenating, and getting my creative energy flowing again. It was what I needed.

4. Open Water Swim with the Jewish Swim Club: When I started swimming this year, Coach David asked, “What’s the goal?” I responded that I wanted to hold my own “with the Jews.” (Note: When I started my swim workouts in April, the furthest I could swim the first day was 75 yards.) During the summer, David and his friends swim in the ocean off Brighton Beach, sometimes a mile or more.

By the end of June David asked when I was coming to visit. I did a whirlwind trip, flying across the country on Thursday, to go swimming at 7am on Friday, and be back home in less than 24 hours. It was an awesome trip, including the swim. This was my first real open water swim, and I had a bit of a panic attack at the start. Once I realized I would never find my cadence in the waves, I was fine.

5. I Became an Oggy:  A few months ago, my sister had a baby. (I can’t wait to meet the little human.) If they don’t post photos of the little one for seven days, I send my sister and brother-in-law an email that says, “Send proof of infant.”

I had to figure out what I am to my nibling (collective term for niece/nephew). There is no gender-neutral term for aunt/uncle. I adopted a term from another non-binary person: “Oggy” (rhymes with “doggy”). I like being “Oggy Ruth.”

Honorable Mentions

Seeing Dan Savage Live: If you ever get the chance to see him speak, go.

Blind Rosie: Rosie went blind a few weeks ago, and we had to remove her other eye. She was in surgery a few hours after waking up blind that day. When I brought her home, she was bit freaked out by the protective cone she had to wear, and she refused to walk. My neighbors, Sarah and Thomas, came to my rescue and helped carry Rosie into the house when we got home. Since then, we’ve both adjusted to blind basset life. She’s such a trooper.

Rescue Dogs at CMWorld: Last year at Content Marketing World, I asked for rescue dogs in the expo hall. (Everyone loves dogs, right?) This year, they made it happen! One of the happy hours was “Yappy Hour” where, for a donation, we got to pet adoptable dogs from City Dogs Cleveland. I hope it becomes a standard part of the event.

Skateboarding: Last year, the crew at Content Marketing World bought me a penny skateboard. This year, I learned how to ride it – with lessons, pads, and the whole she-bang. I also bought a proper board. I love riding my board. When I’m skateboarding, I literally can’t think about anything else, otherwise the risk of falling is too great. I’ll tell you the whole story next year.

Firsts in 2018

Fostered a dog for a week – and learned that Rosie’s meant to be an only child.

Peleton class – at the flagship studio

Ebay listing – sold my BarBri books

Rubber bands on my Invisalign trays

SlotZilla Zip Line

Settlement conference

Deposition

Garmin watch

Amazon affiliate link

Seeing Chicago’s Second City perform

Visit to Bart Simpson Bust

Being told I look like a young Richard Gere by the clerk at JJ Hat Center

Swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, Lake Erie, and Tempe Town Lake (Yes, I was up-to-date on my tetanus shot. No, I didn’t get super powers.)

Events: Intelligent Content Conference, American Alliance of Museums conference

Attempts to be a Better Human (affiliate link): Reusable produce bags and jars, Bringing my own container to the store for Rosie’s chicken, Zero waste deodorant, Bamboo toothbrush, Menstrual cup

Foods: Making beans from dried, vegan pancakes, Daiya Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac (not bad), Lenny & Larry’s The Complete Cookie – Chocolate Chip (not worth it), overnight oats, Just Desserts vegan chocolate midnight cupcake (delicious but soooo sweet), chia seed pudding (meh), Café Indigo vegan carrot cake (yum)

Celebrity Sightings

Margaret Cho

Elizabeth Smart

Dan Savage

Tina Fey

In Memoriam

Stephen Hawking

Harry Anderson

Larry Dolan

Kate Spade

Anthony Bourdain

Aretha Franklin

Elena Shushunova

John McCain

Mary Sigler

Burt Reynolds

Jay Bottomlee

Stan Lee

Penny Marshall

My 2019 Reading List

Included in the scary lofty goals I set for 2019, I have a stack of books I want to read. Everyone has a stack of books on their bedside table, right? I’m excited to dig into these books and spend less time mindlessly watching videos online. Here’s what’s on my reading list, in no particular order.

Note: These are all affiliate links. If you click on a link and purchase any of these books, you’ll pay the same as everyone else, but I’ll get a small commission.

My Bedside Book Stack

Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Business by Joe Pulizzi
As the godfather of content marketing, when Joe Pulizzi speaks, I shut up and listen. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him speak since joining the Content Marketing World family in 2015. I come away from each of his talks with pages of ideas and actionable steps to apply to my content. After devouring Killing Marketing earlier this year, I’m excited to read this book.

 

Break the Wheel: Question Best Practices, Hone Your Intuition, and Do Your Best Work by Jay Acunzo
I started following Jay Acunzo’s podcast, Unthinkable, after seeing him speak at Content Marketing World. I spent many mornings running with his interviews with non-traditional entrepreneurs in my ears. He highlights people who found success by ignoring “best practices” and doing what made sense for them. I believe my intuition is never wrong (though sometimes inaccurate), and I look forward to reading about other entrepreneurs who follow their gut instincts.

 

Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together by Pamela Slim
I consider Pam Slim to be one of my entrepreneurial mentors. I lovingly call her “Aunt Pam.” She has exceptional business instincts and she’s nurturing of others. Many entrepreneurs do a lot of different types of work and this book should help me tell my story effectively and “continually reinvent and relaunch [my] brand.”

 

The Definition of Success: What Living Homeless Can Teach You by Derek Snook
I heard about this book at Content Marketing World this year. Derek Snook voluntary became one of the people he was trying to help in order to learn how to best provide for their actual needs, rather than speculate what their needs are as an outsider looking in. Additionally, I’m drawn to the belief that the definition of “success” is personal. As a minimalist, I know my definition of success has nothing to do with the car I drive or what jewelry I wear.

 

The Storytelling Edge: How to Transform Your Business, Stop Screaming into the Void, and Make People Love You by Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow
I was impressed by Joe Lazauskas’ talk on storytelling at the Intelligent Content Conference this year. I hope this book will help me engage and connect with my audience by telling more powerful stories related to my work.

 

With Lolly the Llama

Talk Triggers: The Complete Guide to Creating Customers with Word of Mouth by Jay Baer and Daniel Lemin
I loved Jay Baer’s talk on talk triggers at Content Marketing World this year. These are things that companies do to get people to talk about them – like the chocolate chip cookie you get when you check into the Doubletree Hilton hotel or how everything at Content Marketing World is orange. Jay’s book has llamas on the front and he sent it to me with stuffed llama toy. I’m curious to read the book and learn about the connection.

 

Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days by Chris Guillebeau
I like Chris Guillebeau because he seems like a quiet guy in person, but beneath that calm exterior, he’s dripping with grit and determination. I started reading this book a few months ago and it lays out what you can do day-by-day to bring an idea to market in under a month. Reading his work helps me not get bogged down in the minutiae of creating a “perfect” product but rather focus on bringing the minimum viable product to market and revise based on actual customer feedback.

 

Your Brightest Life Journal: A Creative Guide to Becoming Your Best Self by Caroline Kelso Zook
Earlier this year, I bought Jason and Caroline Zook’s future. I paid a flat fee and every time they come out with a new product or service, I automatically get it. I’ve used Jason’s products in the past, and it made sense to make this investment. This is my first Caroline-create product and I’m excited to see her thoughts. I think I might be like her – someone who was hesitant to get into the product-creation business, but willing to try because she had something of value to offer.

 

The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly and Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
I picked up these two books at an invite-only event for lawyers called TBD Law that was only open to forward thinking practitioners. Other attendees spoke well of both books. I’m all for more focused work and success, especially with everything I have on my plate.

 

DMCA Handbook for Online Service Providers, Websites, and Copyright Owners by Connie Mableson
Connie Mableson is a lawyer and a colleague who works in my building. She knows the DMCA forwards and backwards, and I’m always looking for resources that will make me a better practitioner and help my client be more effective in protecting their intellectual property.

 

The E-Myth Attorney: Why Most Legal Practices Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber, Robert Armstrong, and Sanford Fisch
I read the general E-Myth book early in my experience as an entrepreneur and I was enormously helpful. It helped me think about creating systems and a master document for how my business should be run. I hope this book gives me suggestions about how to be a more effective business owner.

 

Alight and Alone by Scott Sigler
These are the second and third books in the Generations Trilogy Series. I’ve already read the first book, Alive. I rarely read fiction because my brain knows it’s not real, so it doesn’t easily remember the storyline. Scott Sigler is one of the few writers who captivates my attention. If you like sci-fi, I highly recommend him. I’ll be reading Alone along with the audio version of the book that he put out via his podcast.

 

Books I’m Re-visiting in 2019
Killing Marketing: How Innovative Businesses are Turning Marketing Costs into Profit by Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose
I devoured this book in three days while Rosie and I were on vacation this year. The pages are filled with underlined passages and notes in the margins. I came away from it teeming with ideas for creating more blog content. I’ll definitely be going back to review my notes.

 

Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans by Peter Shankman
I’m interested in doing more research and speaking about integrity. As a lawyer, I know there’s a huge difference between what someone can do and what they should do. So many issues (legal and otherwise) would be prevented if people merely did the right thing. I know this book has many examples of companies doing the right thing by their customers, at least after a substantial misstep.

What’s on your reading list?

Arizona Candidates Support Non-Binary Rights

Earlier this year, I had my California birth certificate corrected to state that I’m non-binary (meaning I’m not a man or a woman). When I went to my local Arizona Motor Vehicle Department to get my FAA-compliant ID that we’re all required to get by 2020, they denied my application even though I brought all the requisite documents. By law, the Arizona Department of Transportation only acknowledge two genders: male and female. The system cannot process an application with “X” for the sex or gender.

Contacting the Candidates

Arizona needs to update its laws to acknowledge that non-binary people exist. As of this date, seven states and Washington D.C. will issue non-binary birth certificates and/or driver’s licenses. I may have been the first person to present a non-binary ID, but I will not be the last.

I contacted all 176 candidates running to represent Arizona in the U.S. Congress and to serve in the Arizona Senate and House of Representatives (via email, their website, or Facebook), told them about this situation, and asked them two questions:

  1. If elected, would you support a bill that would require the State (or federal government) to have a non-binary option on all identifications that specify sex or gender?
  2. If yes, would you be willing to sponsor such a bill?

Followed up with each candidate up to three times over the last three weeks or until I received a response.

The Results

I received “yes” answers to question #1 from 36 candidates (20% of candidates contacted), and only 50 of the 176 candidates I contacted gave me any type of response. I was delighted by the number of candidates who said they support changing the laws to acknowledge non-binary persons. Here’s the list of everyone who would support a bill to add a non-binary option to government IDs:

U.S. House of Representatives
District 3: Raul Grijalva (Democrat, Incumbent)

Arizona Senate
District 2: Andrea Dalessandro (Democrat, Incumbent)
District 5: J’aime Morgaine (Democrat)
District 7: JL Mealer (Republican)
District 9: Victoria Steele (Democrat)
District 10: David Bradley (Democrat, Incumbent)
District 11: Ralph Atchue (Democrat)
District 13: Michelle Harris (Democrat)
District 15: Kristin Dybvig-Pawelko (Democrat)
District 16: Benjamin Carmitchel (Democrat)
District 20: Douglas Ervin (Democrat)
District 27: Rebecca Rios (Democrat, Incumbent)
District 29: Martin Quezada (Democrat, Incumbent)

Arizona House of Representatives
District 1: Ed Gogek (Democrat) and Jan Manolis (Democrat)
District 3: Andres Cano (Democrat) and Beryl Baker (Green)
District 4: Sara Mae Williams (Green)
District 5: Mary Robinson (Democrat)
District 8: Carmen Casillas (Democrat) and Linda Gross (Democrat)
District 10: Kirsten Engel (Democrat, Incumbent)
District 11: Hollace Lyon (Democrat)
District 13: Thomas Tzitzura (Democrat)
District 15: Julie Gunnigle (Democrat) and Jennifer Samuels (Democrat)
District 18: Denise “Mitzi” Epstein (Democrat, Incumbent) and Jennifer Jermaine (Democrat)
District 19: Lorenzo Sierra (Democrat)
District 21: Gilbert Romero (Democrat)
District 22: Valerie Harris (Democrat)
District 23: Eric Kurland (Democrat)
District 24: Jennifer Longdon (Democrat)
District 28: Kelli Butler (Democrat, Incumbent) and Aaron Lieberman (Democrat)
District 29: Richard Andrade (Democrat, Incumbent)

In addition to these 35 supporters, a number of candidates responded to my emails by saying they would support such a bill, but because of the circumstances related to their race, they could not publicly support such a bill at this time. I respect people in this situation, and I will follow up with them after the election if they win.

Commitment to Sponsor a Bill

“Arizona Flag” by Gage Skidmore from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Of the 35 candidates who would support this bill, 31 of them said they would sponsor such a bill.

The main reasons given by those who would not commit to sponsoring a bill were either because they commitments related to other issues to pursue or because they would be a freshman official and they did not know enough about the process to sponsor a bill yet.

Other Responses

Here are some additional responses I received to my inquiries from candidates who said “yes” and “no” to supporting a bill for non-binary rights:

Kelli Butler: “Thank you for spearheading this effort! I was a co-sponsor of HB2492 last session and hope to win my election so I can co-sponsor the bill again. This is an important step for equality and respect for all and I was extremely disappointed that the bill never received a hearing.” (Democrat, District 28)

Hollace Lyon: “My first, ‘gut’ reaction to your story was, ‘Just because one doesn’t declare a sex, doesn’t mean they aren’t a person!’” (Democrat, District 11)

Julie Gunnigle: “I am very concerned about what this means for non-binary citizens and their fundamental right to travel (not to mention the bigger picture of equal treatment by their government).” (Democrat, District 15)

John Fillmore: “I do not think I can support this.” (Republican, District 16)

The responses from these candidates give me hope for the next legislative session in Arizona, that we’ll be able to pass a bill that will acknowledge that non-binary persons exist, similar to the bill that died in committee last year.

Shifting to Zero-Waste Living

I am trying to be a better human. I eat a mostly vegan diet because I don’t like the idea of an animal suffering for my lunch, and after seeing this turtle suffer, I never want to use a plastic straw again. Inspired by videos about zero-waste living and zero-waste beauty options, I’ve looked at the products I use on a daily basis, and tried to shift to more zero-waste products. I wanted to share some of the little changes I’ve made in my everyday life.

Please note, some of these items have affiliate links. This means if you follow the link and make a purchase, you pay the same as everyone else, but I get a small commission. Any link marked with an asterisk (*) is an affiliate link.

In the Bathroom

Plastic-Free Toilet Paper: It is difficult to find toilet paper where the rolls come wrapped in paper, not plastic, and they don’t come in a 48-roll box. I don’t want a year supply of toilet paper in my home. So far, I’ve only found individual paper-wrapped rolls for sale at Sprouts.

Zero-Waste Personal Products

Bamboo Toothbrush: We’re supposed to get a new toothbrush every three months. I was so happy to find bamboo toothbrushes*, in paper packaging. They come four to a box, and each toothbrush is numbered, so if you have multiple people in your house using them, you can avoid accidentally using someone else’s toothbrush. They have the same durability as any other toothbrush I’ve used.

Zero-Waste Deodorant:  No more plastic containers of deodorant for me. My zero-waste deodorant* comes in a glass jar. You use the little spatula in the jar to scoop a little onto your fingers and then put it on your armpits like lotion. It’s a deodorant, not an anti-perspirant, so it doesn’t stop you from sweating, but you don’t smell when you do.

Menstrual Cup: I will hopefully never have to buy tampons again. The menstrual cup* is a game-changer. Instead of using and throwing away three to six tampons a day during my cycle, I wear this reusable silicon cup inside my body and empty it two to three times a day. It took a few days to figure out the best way to remove it each time, but now it’s easy and convenient to use. Within a few months, this this has paid for itself because I haven’t had to buy tampons.

Safety Razor: I’ve always used razor cartridges that contained plastic, and I wanted to try an all-metal safety razor*. The angle is completely different than other razors I’ve used, and it’s just an exposed blade that’s cutting your hair. It’s easier to nick yourself. I still use my other razor for my armpits and bikini line, at least for now.

Shampoo Bar: This shampoo bar* works great. I rub it on the top my head a few times to build up a lather and spread it to all of my hair. I suspect it could last longer than a typical bottle of shampoo.

Around the House

Laundry Soap in a Box: Do you know how hard it is to find laundry soap that doesn’t come in a plastic bottle or a pod? It was challenging to find laundry powder* that comes in a recyclable box, but I found it. It works just fine.

Reusable Food Containers: I still have resealable plastic bags in my home, and I do use them on occasion, but I try to use reusable glass containers*, and sometimes plastic containers I’ve had for years, instead of single-use bags. When I use plastic bags, I try to reuse them whenever possible.

At the Office and Professional Outings

Bring my Recyclables Home: My office doesn’t recycle, so I bring home papers that don’t need to be shredded so they can be recycled. I have a designated pocket in my backpack for paper to be recycled.

BYO Silverware: The office kitchen has single-use plastic silverware. Instead of using those, I keep a regular spoon and a fork at my desk for eating my lunch and snacks.

BYO Water Bottle: I bring my own water bottle from home so I don’t have to drink water in plastic bottles.

Metal Travel Mug: I have two ceramic mugs at my desk that I use to hold hot beverages and snacks, but I also have a metal travel mug* that I use when going out for coffee or attending events so I don’t have to use a single-use cup and plastic lid.

Reusable Spork: One thing that is always in my backpack is my fold-able reusable spork* so I don’t have to use plastic silverware when I go to conferences.

Grocery Shopping

Rosie’s Chicken in Pyrex, fresh from the market

BYO Container for Meat: When I buy Rosie’s chicken, instead of buying meat in plastic and Styrofoam, I prefer to go to the meat counter and have them weigh the product and put it in a reusable glass container* I brought from home.

BYO Jars for Bulk Foods: I like shopping in the bulk foods section at Sprouts. I bring my pre-weighed glass jars to get what I need. I label each jar with the weight of the empty jar so the cashier can take off that weight and only charge me for the product at check-out.

Reusable Produce Bags: These reusable washable mesh bags are fantastic for produce. If a store gives a discount for bringing your own tote bags, they often give me a discount for each produce bag and jar I use.

What’s Next

Going forward, I want to keep exploring options to be a better steward to the planet. I want to try composting, but have substantial doubts about my ability to maintain my own composting bin, so I’m more likely to try a composting service.

I will also keep an eye out for zero-waste or plastic-free products. Once I run out of liquid hand soap, I’ll switch over to bar soap. I am interested in finding a zero-waste moisturizer. Putting coconut oil on my face sounds like a breakout waiting to happen. As I go through my day, I try to stay aware of when I use plastic products and look for zero-waste alternatives and/or ask brands to change to more sustainable packaging.

Planning my Dream House

For the last few years, I’ve thought about building a house from the ground up for my next home. I’m fascinated by homes that are off-the-grid, net positive, earthships, and tiny homes. I continue to strive to be a minimalist, and I’d like to have a low or zero waste lifestyle. A home should be in harmony with its surroundings and not a structure or a lifestyle that simply takes from the planet without giving anything back.

I would love to work with a minimalist architect who could design a space based on my actual needs now, and what I would likely need in the future. The idea of designing house around your lifestyle instead of fits your needs “well enough” intrigues and frightens me. The scary part is letting go of what I’ve been socialized to think a home needs and instead focus on what I need.

Recently, I saw a 13-part series called Building Green that followed the building of a green home from nothing. It inspired me to begin to think about my dream home in concrete terms. So far, I want a house with:

I want to watch the stars while laying in bed.
“meteo (missed focus)” by Kim MyoungSung from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Straw bale construction for the exterior walls covered in lime and earthen plaster and a steel frame – I know it sounds crazy, but it makes sense from a cost perspective, it’s great insulation, and it’s nearly fireproof. (I want a house where you rarely need to turn on the heat or air conditioning.)

Blue jean insulation for the interior walls. It’s made from recycled materials.

Lots of windows for natural light. I’d rather open a window than turn on a light. I suspect the house will need a wrap-around porch to let light in but keep harsh sun out.

Single story. I’m not climbing stairs.

Cement floors with radiant floor heating.

Skylight or windows in the bedroom that let me see the stars when I’m in bed and blackout curtains for when I want total darkness.

Whiteboard paint on the walls at least in my office.

Built-in bike and skateboard racks on the wall or ceiling.

Washer and dryer that are big enough to wash a king-size comforter.

Solar panels on the roof. Cheers to California for making these mandatory on all new homes.

Gray water system that uses the water from the sinks and showers and uses it to water the plants and a water collection system for collecting rain from the roof when it rains.

Compost pile in the backyard.

Doggy door leading to the backyard.

Outdoor shower in the backyard (with a bamboo privacy screen). It will be handy when the dog needs a bath, and it sounds like a wonderful way to start the day.

Edible landscaping. I have a dream of growing my own fruit, vegetables, and herbs in the backyard. If I’m super lucky, I’ll have a neighbor with backyard chickens and I can exchange produce for eggs with them.

In thinking about my dream life in my dream house, I think I might want 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms (with showers, not tubs), 1 office (maybe 2), and an open kitchen/dining/living room area.

For now, this is an evolving dream. The short-term goal is to pay off my condo completely and then save up to pay for my dream home in cash and move in debt free.

Little White Lie

I told a little fib last weekend. The exterior of the buildings in my complex was painted months ago, and then last week, we got an email that said a painter would be on-site over the weekend to paint the edges of our doors and we would have to leave each painted door open to dry for an hour after it was painted.

Did I mention the powers that be decided to do this on a weekend with an excessive heat warning?

I’m coming off a pretty nasty bout of depression and anxiety. Two weekends ago, I was so withdrawn, I wouldn’t even talk to the clerks when I ran my errands and I went dark on Facebook. I didn’t want to deal with a stranger knocking on my door. I didn’t want to inhale paint fumes. And I didn’t want to be forced to sit with my door open when it was 100+ degrees outside. (The complex has the paint so those of us who didn’t get our doors painted this weekend can do it ourselves later.) To keep the painter away, I clipped a little note to my door:

I figured, “it’s just a little white lie so it wouldn’t hurt nobody.” I bet he felt better about passing my place. It seemed like a nicer and more effective note to post than, “I have severe depression and selective mutism. I really don’t want to deal with strangers today. Please go away.”

Either way, it worked. No one knocked on my door while this was posted on my door.

Mission accomplished.

PS – I sent this picture to my friend who is a new mom, and she responded with, “You win all the things.”

Invisalign Part II: 34 More Trays

Your groundhog said you’re getting 6 more weeks of winter.
Mine said I get 34 more weeks of Invisalign trays.

A few weeks ago, I saw my orthodontist after completing 53 weeks of Invisalign. He said my teeth are straight, and my bite is improved, but my upper and lower jaws are still out of alignment. The tech took another set of impressions and sent them off to have another set of trays created. They didn’t tell me how many more trays I’d have to wear to correct this problem. (I wore my Week 53 trays for a few weeks while my next set of trays were being made.)

I couldn’t manage to take a good photo that shows my rubber band, so I stopped trying.

Last week, I was back in the orthodontist chair (I always feel like I’m in junior high when I’m in there) and I asked, “How many more weeks do I have the pleasure, I mean privilege, of wearing Invisalign trays.” The tech laughed, but I was serious. I suspect many people who can’t afford it wish they had the means to afford Invisalign or braces. Even though I may complain that my teeth hurt or that wearing trays is a hassle, I never forget that it’s a privilege to do this.

The tech said, “34,” and I get to wear a rubber band on one side of my mouth. The tech had to move some of the anchors for my trays (aka “dinosaur teeth”) and she glued a metal “button” to one of my lower teeth. The rubber band attaches to an edge carved into my upper tray and the button. Every time I take my trays out, I’m supposed to replace the rubber band.

Looking at the calendar, I’ll be wearing this set of trays, changing the trays each week, until mid-October. Basically, I added another year to this adventure.

At first, I had the compulsion to try to chew on the rubber band, which isn’t actually possible, but now it’s a non-issue. Putting it on is easy, though in my first week, I managed to shoot a rubber band across the room and snap myself in the lip while trying to put it on. These are first world problems.

The rules with these of trays is the same: try to wear them at least 22 hours a day. Some day I’ll get to sip my coffee again. The only difference now is I must remember to bring my bag of rubber bands in addition to my tray case when I leave the house, and for now, I need a mirror to put on a rubber band. Note to self: Put a compact with a mirror in your backpack for when you’re traveling.

The only problem I’ve encountered with wearing a rubber band is I can’t sing properly. I can’t open my mouth wide enough to sing the notes. I don’t wear my trays when I have a voice lesson or perform, but I do when I’m singing in the car and around the house. Knowing me, I’ll test how well these rubber bands stretch. I hope it doesn’t hurt much if one snaps in my mouth.

Support HB2492: Tell Arizona to Allow Nonbinary Driver’s Licenses

At Phoestivus last year, I asked my friend and Arizona Representative Ken Clark to introduce a bill that would allow people in Arizona the option to select “nonbinary” as their gender on their driver’s licenses. A few weeks later, HB2492 was born.

Rainbow by Benson Kua from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Currently, all persons must identify as “male” or “female.” You have to pick one, and you can’t leave this field blank. I had to go to the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) last year to update my photo. I asked if I could have “X” (abbreviation for nonbinary) on my driver’s license instead of “M” or “F” for my gender, and the clerk said the system didn’t allow her to do this. I asked if I could leave this field blank, and she said the system wouldn’t process my new license unless it had a selection for the person’s sex.

When I contacted the Arizona Department of Transportation about adding the option for nonbinary to the driver’s license application, they said they couldn’t do this unless the law changed. Hence, I had to go to Ken for help.

A new law went into effect in California this year, where you can have the state re-issue your birth certificate to indicate that you are nonbinary. I was born there, so I’m going through the process to get a nonbinary birth certificate. And I want my driver’s license to match.

Photo by Jay Chatzkel Photography
Used with permission

HB2492 was assigned to the Transportation Committee, chaired by Representative Noel W. Campbell. So far, this bill has not been added to the committee’s agenda. If the bill isn’t heard by the committee, it will die and never reach a vote by the Arizona House. If this bill dies in committee, we’ll have to wait until next session to introduce it again.

If you want the Transportation Committee to hear HB 2492, please contact Representative Campbell:

And please, spread the word!

If Arizona doesn’t change its law and allows people to be legally recognized as nonbinary, the State is essentially telling me that I and people like me don’t exist. My fingers are crossed that the Transportation Committee will at least hear HB2492.

Please help me, and other nonbinary people, make this happen. Contact Representative Campbell and tell him to add HB2492 to the Transportation Committee’s agenda.

Can’t Watch Football Players Kill Themselves for Sport

Ever since I learned about the concussion risk associated with American football, I can’t in good conscience support the sport. Not only do these athletes risk their lives during the game, they risk serious brain injury, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and the associated problems that can afflict them for the rest of their often too-short lives. It’s devastating to learn about the players to fall into drug addiction and/or attempt suicide.

Rams Football Field by Miss Wetzel’s Art Class from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

The more I learn about the CTE and the widespread risk players seem to take, I feel like football is modern-day bullfighting. We watch players accept the substantial risk that participating in the sport will kill them, and this sport exists simply as entertainment. It’s a money-making scheme for the owners, the coaches, and hopefully the players. I suspect those in power have little regard for players once they are no longer contributing to the team’s winning record.

Although I have serious problems with this sport, it seems like a majority of fans are unfazed by disclosure of information about CTE. I kicked a simple anonymous survey to my football-loving friends to try to understand their perspective.

Out of the 30 people who responded to my questions, all of them knew that CTE is a problem facing NFL players. Eighty percent (24/30) knew about the research on the 111 NFL players brains that were tested for CTE – 110 of them were found to have it.

I asked my friends, “How do you feel about watching and loving a sport where it appears that every player except the kicker is likely getting brain damage while they’re playing the game and associated problems after they retire?” Many of them responded that professional players are adults who freely accept this risk (hopefully with full disclosure of the health consequences), just like people who choose to smoke, drive, or participate in other dangerous professions. Others said this situation bothers them and they will likely watch fewer games.

I also asked my friends, “What are your thoughts about players like John Urschel and A.J. Tarpley who retire early to preserve their health?” The overwhelming response was positive. They said these players were “smart” and that they “respect,” “applaud,” and “support” their decisions. One friend responded that these players, “made the best decision for themselves” because they suspected their “long-term financial success was going to be outside football.” Another friend said, “I think it is a great statement to others about the dangers of this sport.”

A friend pointed out a flaw in my questions. Since CTE currently can only be diagnosed post-mortem, we only know about the data in players who have had their brains examined. A lot more than 111 people have played professional football, so the information about how widespread this problem is among current players is speculative.

And I don’t disagree that football is fun – at least flag football – and many players professional and not, love this sport. I suspect most of them started as children, and participation gave them friends, heartwarming memories, and for some, academic and professional opportunities that they would not have had otherwise. With child athletes, it’s up to the parents to decide what activities their kids will do. Note: I’m not saying you’re a bad parent if you let your kid play football. I just hope you make educated decisions about what league they play in and what safety precautions are required. As a former gymnast, I can say when you fall in love with a sport so young, it’s hard to give it up, even when it’s in your best interest.

While others are getting excited for the upcoming Super Bowl, I cringe at the thought of players risking their lives for our entertainment. I don’t watch the game, and it makes me want to ask the sponsors and companies that run ads: “How can you feel good about making money off these players’ lives?”