Two Truths are possible.

I’m not sure what I was dreaming about last night, but when I woke up, my mind was caught up in that last day of court. The one where things didn’t go so well, and I knew that all of the country would know it. I was so distraught that the detectives called me later that evening to make sure I was ok. They were right to call. I was staring at a packet of pills.

It’s not often that I think about that day anymore. Since we won the case, that day has faded. With writing my book, it eased a little more. I got a little anxious around the high court appeal, but since Robert was told he’d had to finish out his sentence, I’ve been pretty damn happy.

I enjoy doing work campaigning for other victim’s rights. I enjoy messaging with people and answering their questions about the process of going to court, and the barrage of emotions they can expect. I like that I can switch off when I need to take a rest day from it all. Basically, I’ve been pretty great the last couple of years.

Then this week, we’ve seen the whole Kavanaugh/Ford saga play out. Living in the US, it’s pretty hard NOT to see what’s going on. I actually watched the proceedings live, because I wanted to be able to watch it myself, and make my own opinion on the matter, and not just listen to all the political propaganda and the bickering back and forth between my friends on FaceBook.

Let’s face it. This has truly divided the nation. When I first moved to the US, Democrats and Republicans were on opposite sides of the fence, but they still met in the middle for a BBQ. These days, there’s no friendly fun. They’re too busy throwing grenades over those fences.

I’m a centrist. I think both parties have good and bad. I think both make good points and terrible points. I don’t vote party lines, and I don’t swallow what one side says as gospel. I enjoy sitting right in the middle and looking critically at BOTH sides, and making up my own mind on an issue. I even enjoy playing devils advocate on many posts, asking people questions about why they think things, or ask them to look at things from the other side.

I think even if you do lean towards one party, it’s critical to still look at an issue and actually think about it. Just blindly following something because your friends do, or because the media tells you that’s the way it is doesn’t seem smart to me. The media used to tell us the news, and they also had an opinion column. These days, every journalists has an opinion, and wants to share it. I think it’s important to watch both CNN and Fox News, so you can see BOTH sides, and then know the truth is probably somewhere in between.

This brings me back to the SCOTUS hearing.

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The Supreme Court Justice job is for life. One appointed, it’s a forever thing. Now, once on the Supreme Court bench, a judge is supposed to be impartial. They’re not supposed to lean Republican or Democrat, but people’s upbringing will shape them, and they’ll lean more conservative or liberal. Democrats are terrified that we’ll get in a judge who get’s rid of Roe v Wade, and I’m not sure what Republicans are scared of. Gay Marriage is already legal, and they haven’t made much of a fuss about anything else.

Trump selected a guy called Kavanaugh. Everyone hates Trump, and so it wasn’t a surprise that people were also going to hate his nomination. It’s also not a surprise that the Democrats were going to delay the nomination, hoping to hold off till after the election in November, hoping to get one of their own judges in there instead.

I honestly don’t understand why we need a Democrat or Republican judge when they’re supposed to be impartial, but whatevs.

I’m also not surprised someone in politics had some dodgy history. Let’s face it, most politicians are a little slimy, and we’ve all watched movies about privileged white kids in the 1980’s and know they’re not angels. They’re not all bad, but it’s shouldn’t be a surprise that high school kids got drunk and partied and took shit too far. If we’re honest, we’ve all got some skeletons in our closet that we probably didn’t write in our diary….

I am also not surprised that a woman was assaulted and didn’t report it at the time. I am not surprised by holes in a memory, or the ability to recall some things with laser focus and be total lost on other things. That’s how traumatic memories work. I am not surprised that other kids at a party that weren’t assaulted don’t remember the party. It was just another party to them. Your brain doesn’t hold on to insignificant events the same way it does for something like survival.

What I am surprised at, but probably shouldn’t be after my own dealings with the public, is the amount of hate being spewed at both sides. I had hoped that the #metoo movement might have taught both sides a few things, but it seems like it’s actually dividing people even more.

The Liberal side is screaming that they believe her. They don’t need proof, or witnesses, or to even hear her story. She said it, so it must be true.

The Republican side are saying she’s a liar. A crisis actor paid off by the Clintons. Her only job is to derail the SCOTUS nomination, and that the Libs don’t care if they destroy a man, as long as he doesn’t get the job.

Both sides are fighting back and forth, screaming at each other. All the people who associate with the party are fighting on Facebook and Twitter, telling people on the other side they’re horrible human beings, or they’re stupid, or wrong.

Meanwhile, I decided to just sit back and watch. I watched both sides attack each other. Then I watched both parties give their testimony at the hearing. I watched and listened.

I saw her tell her story. I saw both sides ask her questions. I saw them try to trip her up. I saw them try to rally behind her. I saw her try to answer questions while knowing the whole world was watching her, and I tried not to let my own memories of being questioned influence my judgement.

I watched him get in the chair. I saw his anger and emotion. I tried to think whether he was being hateful and defensive, or whether he was innocent and terrified and angry that he was being accused of something for a political agenda.

I watched as people on social media who had been victims assert she was either lying because she was too calm, or that they believed her because they had also been a victim.

I saw people claim he was too angry, and therefor was guilty. Others said he was angry because he was being falsely accused.

I watched as politicians on both sides claim that this wasn’t a court case, but then demanded both answer questions under oath. They’d say it was a job interview. Then say it was important testimony.

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The whole thing was a complete shitshow. It was an embarrassment to both sides.

My takeaway from the whole thing was that it’s possible to be telling the truth, and also be a political victim.

Ford wrote to her political party, expressing concern over the SCOTUS nomination. The Senator held onto that information, on purpose, for political gain. They leaked her name, against her wishes. They then put her in a position where she had to testify with the entire world watching. They have taken a past trauma, brought it back to the surface, and then treated it like a tequila shot and added salt and lemon to it. They have made sure that she will now NEVER be able to move past it. It will forever be written history next to her name. She will spend the rest of her life with people bringing it up. Fellow victims will want to share their stories, others will always accuse her of lying. She will never get any rest from it.

Kavanaugh will also forever be remembered for this. It doesn’t matter whether he is innocent or guilty. If he didn’t do it, he still won’t be able to hold the job, because there’s too much contention. If he’s guilty, there’s still so may who will protest his innocence. There are psychologists who have stated that many adolescent males go through a period where they try to assert their sexual dominance in their teens and then once they go to college sort themselves out and aren’t predators. Then there are guys who are born rapey and stay rapey. I’m not sure which one he is.

I think it’s important that we find out if Kavanaugh tried to rape Ford, and if he did, he needs to be punished. I don’t think that a job interview is the place to do it. I don’t think that a room full of opposing politicians should be the ones asking questions, and I don’t think it needs to be done on live TV while the whole world is watching.

If I wake up remembering my worst day in court because of this, and reading about the millions of other women who have been triggered by watching this, I can only imagine the things that are going through the minds of the pair that are currently engaged in this battle. My heart goes out to both of them. Yes, I said BOTH of them. I feel for their spouses, their children, their friends.

Both parties have been used as political pawns.

If he is innocent, he has had his career and reputation ruined because the Democrats wanted to publicly destroy the Republican party. They could have done something about this weeks ago before he even got this far, and he could have been taken aside and charged by Maryland police. It would still have made news, and he wouldn’t have gotten the job, but it wouldn’t have been as spectacular for the Dems.

If she is telling the truth, she might eventually get her attacker charged, but at what cost? She has been used as a political tool. Instead of being empathetically listened to, and kept confidential like she asked, they decided to make her the face of this whole spectacle. They don’t care that she is getting death threats. They don’t care that she’ll have to move, or might not be able to continue her career. They don’t care that they made her publicly relive her worst memories. They pretend to care, but they’re too happy pushing her out there, too joyful in their act at bringing down the opposition. My heart aches for her. Millions of arm chair experts are picking her apart, trying to tie her to conspiracy theories, assessing whether she’s too emotional, not emotional enough, how much money she’s getting, who is paying her bills, and all the other bullshit.

Politicians need to get their shit together. They need to come together and work out what they have in common, instead of what divides them. They need to go back to having a BBQ in the middle. Regular civilians need to go back to being civil. We need to remember that we’re all friends and relatives, and we can have different beliefs and not be enemies. We need to go back to being able to debate and have civil discussions, and how to talk to each other, and how to listen to each other, not just put our fingers in our ears while yelling at the other side.

People need to learn how to take their bias cap off and watch something from an impartial standpoint. Learn how to put themselves in another person’s shoes, and see things from another point of view. People are so in need of being right, they don’t care if they’re wrong. They don’t care if they alienate people. They just want to live in their own bubble of confirmation bias.

It’s good to step out and engage with the enemy. You might find they’re not so bad. You might even find you make friends, and you no longer have to throw grenades over the fence.

The politicians will stop pandering to the extremes when people stop being out there. If the party is in the middle of the street, they’ll have to find their way in there too. They’ll have to start treating their constituents with respect, and not use them as political tools.

So please, be nice to each other. Look at each other as humans, not as a political party. Remember that you won’t change anyone’s mind insulting them or yelling at them. Grab a beer, have a conversation, and don’t try to rape anyone.

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Try making an informed comment

The reaction to my reaction of Bert Newton’s Speech

So this week I made a short YouTube video talking about the hoopla that occurred after Bert Newton’s Logies speech.

We all know Bert is old as dirt, and the Logie’s love to trot him out every year, which is fine. Bert is Bert, and we all know that.

But while Bert has kept the same jokes year after year, living in his little bubble, society around him has changed. Some of his dad jokes aren’t considered PC anymore, and social media lit up after his speech.

I found it interesting that more people were offended by him calling himself a “poof” than they were about his suggestion that his peers were “mentoring” behind locked doors. Looking around, it didn’t seem like any gay people were offended by him calling himself a poof, it was all the other SJWs who were offended on their behalf.

I had no beef with his calling himself a poof. Maybe he identifies as gay, or bi-sexual. Whatever.

I was more interested in people’s reaction to his comments about the “mentoring” which could be seen as inappropriate, on two levels.

Firstly, because you’re insinuating that your co-worker may have been dabbling in some sexual activities in the work place. Whether people think it’s consensual or not, when someone who is in a position of power offers to mentor someone, sexual activity is frowned upon. There’s a power balance there. Some people may have been mega fans and wanted to engage in sexual behavior, others might feel compelled to engage in sex acts. If we haven’t learned anything from Weinstein about power imbalances, then at least look to the military and see how they have policies about fraternization.

The second issue is making a suggestion like that about somebody who isn’t alive anymore to defend themselves. Maybe Kennedy would find it funny, maybe he wouldn’t.

But after my video went up, Peter Ford posted a part of it on The Morning Show and the Daily Edition. They only played a very small snippet, the part where I state that I am in no way whatsoever implying that Bert, Graham or Done Lane have ever done anything wrong in the past, but that I didn’t think it was a funny joke, and I didn’t think the reactions on social media were great. There was lots of people taking a stab at anyone who had said something negative about Bert’s speech, telling them to lighten up, get over it, or that they had no sense of humor.

It was then hilarious when I woke up and I had a bunch of people who had found my FaceBook page who decided to comment that I should leave Bert alone, mind my own business, and one peculiar comment, that my pink hat offended them….

So basically these people proved my point that they hate anyone who tries to stand up for victims of abuse, and worse, they can’t even have polite discussions or make a comment without going straight for a “fuck you” with no logical thoughts.

I always laugh when these people scream that they’re entitled to their opinions, while simultaneously telling me I’m not entitled to one.

So here’s the thing. I love discussion. I love debating. I love to hear other people’s opinions and stories, and exchanging ideas. It’s how we learn. I think the world would be an incredibly boring place if we all had the same opinion on everything.

But, if you want to comment, at least make an informed comment. Try actually watching the video before you run your mouth, or start screaming profanities. Otherwise, you just come off as an uneducated idiot, and nobody is going to take anything you say seriously.

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A Moment of thanks.

I’d like to thank the woman who called me a “failed actress” today.

You’re right. I am “un-Australian” and no, I don’t always love  Australia, or Aussie’s, or the group that you’re in.

Yes, I was a child actor. No, I don’t act anymore.

Maybe you missed it, but I left the highest rating sitcom in the country of my own choice.

You see, the lead actor was a pedophile, and I got tired of him. I also got tired of working in an industry where people knew what was happening, but decided they were OK with it, because hey, it’s TV, and it’s fine. Let the kid get molested as long as we keep getting our cheque.

So I left. The few times I tried to speak up, I was shut down. I was threatened especially by those in the industry.

Years later, I was asked to speak up about it. I didn’t want to, because I was now living happily in the US, away from people in the industry, and where I could work any job I wanted without someone pointing out that I “used to be an actress.”

But I did. I spoke up. Then I spent four years having people in Australia tell me I was a has been, a wanna be, an attention seeker, or making it up to be famous again.

I got death threats, I got constantly harassed, but in the end, it was worth it, because it turns out that guy molested 18 girls that the police knew of.

Meanwhile, I had joined a charity in the US that works to make sure no kid goes through what I did. I wrote a best selling book, that literally hundreds of people have messaged me to tell them about how much it helped them on their own journey.

My case is now used as a reference and set an important precedent.

I had actors in the US tell me they were following my story in Australia, and people were watching to see how it went. You’ll notice the #metoo movement started after Robert lost his high court appeal.

So yeah, you go ahead and call me a “failed actress”.

But I’d still like to thank you for reminding me why I don’t get homesick, and why I don’t go out of my way to hang out with other Aussie’s here in the US.  It’s beautiful outside, and I was spending too much time on FB. That group was giving nothing back to me, it wasn’t helping me grow as a person, and it was cutting into the time I could have been doing something productive. (Like changing laws) It’s sad how superior some people feel, and when they bring their tall poppy syndrome with them.

So you can sit in there an listen to a bunch of unhappy people complain about the bread, the people, and ask the same three questions over and over.

I’ll be sun baking on the deck of my yacht, which I bought with the money I got from being such a failure…

 

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A Queen’s sister, a designer and a Chef

Three Celebrity deaths in one week. All by suicide.  

Who knows how many more people also took their own lives this week that we didn’t read about. 

Inés Zorreguieta was the sister of the Dutch Queen Maxima. Inés was a bridesmaid at her sister’s wedding to then-Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander in 2002 and was godmother to their youngest of three daughters, 11-year-old Princess Ariane. She may not have been royalty herself, but I always thought it would be more fun to be on the periphery. Same parties, less scrutiny.

I never met Kate Spade, but I did admire her empire. I’ve got my own dreams of creating my a fashion house one day.

 

I have met Anthony Bourdain. Years ago, before I went public about the Hey Dad abuse, I had also had dreams of creating a travel series. My husband found the cash to send to to Travel Channel Headquarters in Washington DC to attend a week of what was then Travel Chanel Academy. It was a 4 day course teaching aspiring VJs on how to properly film, edit and make interesting stories. A couple of people who did the course even ended up on the network. My dream was to have a scuba travel series, that was somewhere between the quirkiness of Samantha Brown and the edginess of Anthony Bourdain. Scuba, food, adventures. Not just diving, but all the other stuff too. 

On day two, Bourdain walked into our class. 

He was this tall, commanding presence, and was just as sarcastic and witty in real life as he was on his show. He made a joke about how there really was an academy, and they asked him what they thought his commercials were for. He said he knew he was doing the commercials, but he didn’t know if it was legit or not, he just did what they paid him to do.

Having worked in restaurant kitchens for years, I really admired Bourdain, and it was super exciting for me to meet him in real life. 

Apparently I was the only one in the class who loved Samantha Brown. They had been making fun of her show the first two days, and even Bourdain continued the joke. Given Brown had been the star of TC for so long, I’m still not sure if they enjoyed ribbing her, or if there was more to it. They were certainly trying to be more edgy at the time, and she may have been too wholesome for them now.

I ended up filming a bit of stuff for Going Down. We were putting together enough footage for a pilot and a show reel, when I was asked to go public about Robert Hughes and the Hey Dad..! stuff. 

I had to decide which was more important to me. After years of not being in the industry, I was finally enjoying being back working with  camera again. I was the producer, and people really responded well to me. I loved filming. I was learning to edit well. I was amazing at getting sponsors, setting up locations, and getting people to talk on camera. Other people loved the concept of the show, and I think it really could have become something. 

But then there was also my responsibility as a human to talk about the past. I didn’t want to at first. I kept saying no, because like so many others in the industry, I wanted to keep forging ahead and do what was right for me.

I wondered if I couldn’t do both, so I went ahead and agreed to talk about Hey Dad..! again. At the time, we had no idea the multiple year journey ahead, and how many people would accuse me of making it up just to create publicity for Going Down.

So I ended up giving all the sponsors products back, calling people and telling them we wouldn’t be filming. I removed whole pages from the website, and most of the footage never made it to the web.

There were days when life was so miserable, I contemplated ending it all. 

Somehow though, seven years later, I’m still alive, and I don’t have Going Down, or a clothing line, BUT, I am in an incredibly good place. I live with my best friend/husband on a boat, I travel often. I have an autobiography that people really seem to like, I have the drawings for my clothing should I decide to go ahead and make them, and I’m even thinking about starting to film for Going Down again. Even if it’s just a web series this time. Basically, I’m very happy.

I am so glad I found the strength to go on, even when there were days I really didn’t think I could. I want to reach out and hug all those other people who are having a dark day, and tell them to hang on. That no matter what it is, it will pass. At the end of the tunnel, there is a light, and one day, you’ll feel sunshine on your face again. 

I also wish we reached out to tell people how much they mean to us before they die. Sometimes people just don’t know how much of an impact they’d had, or how much they will be missed. Bourdain wasn’t just a chef who brought the world to us every week, he was also a huge advocate for #MeToo. His girlfriend Asia Argento had been raped by Weinstein, and Bourdain was very supportive of the movement.

I have been incredibly lucky the last couple of years. There are always trolls, but I’ve also had so many lovely people reach out to me and tell me how much of a difference I’ve made in their lives. That I had an impact, that I gave them strength. They’ll never know how much their words  gave me the strength to keep being strong and fighting for them. Their words to me really did make a difference.

So please, be strong. Don’t give up. Ask for help if you need it. Hug your dog, or your kid. Remember it WILL pass. 

For those of you reading this who are in a good place, remember to reach out to your friends. When they’re really feeling sad, they might not ask for help, or might push you away. Know that letting them know you’re there for them really does make a difference.

These three deaths also teach us that no matter how privileged we think someone’s life is, they can still be lonely, depressed, or suffer from mental illness. Sometimes, being a celebrity can be even lonelier than a regular person. They might be surrounded by people, but they’re not always friends. So don’t assume someone has it all, and is happy and immune from stress or sadness.

I was looking for the Bourdain Travel Channel commercial, and instead I found this…. Yes, that’s me in there. I’m glad I went, and that Anthony surprised us. Maybe me finding this now is a sign I’m not meant to give up on filming.

 

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Human First, Aboriginal second.

I moved away from Australia in the early 2000’s. It was right as the government was taking it’s first steps to say sorry to the Aboriginal people for the stolen generation.

As I’ve watched Australia from afar, it seemed like the country was taking great steps to right past wrongs, to embrace the indigenous community, and provide more assistance for Aboriginals to go back to a more traditional way of life in their communities, or provide them with education in the cities if they chose.

As someone who had been gone for about 15 years, I was impressed at how much things had changed when I returned home last year, and at a Film Festival, each person stood up to speak, and the first thing they said was they wanted to acknowledge the traditional holders of the land, named the local tribe, and then moved on. At first, I was like “Wow. I could not have imagined this when I left all those years ago. We’ve really changed.” But as three people spoke in a row, and all recited the same verse, it felt a little less genuine, and more like people feeling the need to be PC and grandstand about how enlightened they were. Or were afraid if they didn’t also say it, they would be seen as somehow racist. It’s not really a change in mentality if it’s not genuine, you’re just saying something because you have to.

Then, more recently, there was discussion about child abuse issues within Aboriginal communities, and whether children should be placed with other indigenous people, or if they could be fostered by white people. (Or anyone outside the Aboriginal community) I noted that several networks discussed the topic, but it seemed to go under the radar until Sunrise had the discussion of how to tackle it. They asked whether it was better to leave a child with an abusive community, or whether it was better to take a child and move them to a place outside the community, and the whole thing blew up into people protesting that Sunrise was advocating for another Stolen Generation.

With the news this week that another young child has been raped in Tennant Creek, and my own interest in preventing child abuse, I went down a rabbit hole of trying to work out how you can try to help prevent child abuse in Aboriginal communities, while not provoking another stolen generation.

As I read further about sexual assault against children in places like Alice Springs, and the amazing amount of violence against women in the Aboriginal community, (Aboriginal women and children are 45 times more likely to be victims of domestic violence than non-Aboriginal women, and eight times more likely to be murdered.) what struck me was the amount of times an offender was let off because it was a “cultural issue”. Countless times, when an Aboriginal man raped a child or beat a woman, he got off by claiming it was his right as an Aboriginal Man to do so.

Judges have been scared to interfere with the community, especially given the terror over black deaths in custody, or to be seen as being unfairly biased against black men.

But what about Aboriginal Women? Why are we saying it’s OK for Aboriginal Men to beat women because it’s “their culture” and we don’t listen to the Aboriginal Women who say it’s not part of the traditional culture, it’s just that their men or drunk or high, and violent?

Are we really telling Aboriginal women that they don’t count when it comes to culture or traditions. That it’s only what the men say it is? Are we really dismissing an entire half of a race?

Can you look at a child who has been gang raped, and tell her that you’re sorry she was beaten, raped, given an STD, but there’s nothing you can do about it because the men who did it told you it was OK because it’s just their way? That you’re not going to move her to a safer place to live, or provide her with any protection because it’s just a part of being an Aboriginal? Or if you do move her, it’s going to be to another community with the same problems, but with different people to abuse her? That she should just get used to it, because he whole life is going to be the same?

Aboriginal culture hasn’t always been violent. Yes, there has been a tradition of arranged marriages, and like any culture, there has always been incest, rape and murder. However, back then, young women in marriages were protected by co-wives and other family members. Before current housing styles, camps were open air, and other people could see violent acts, and step in and protect women and children. Communities self policed.

Now, Aboriginals are policed by white man’s laws, which have traditionally been favourable to the men, and not women or children. Double that down with a white judge who doesn’t know what is truly acceptable in traditional Aboriginal culture, and it’s never going to end well for indigenous women and children.

I honestly have no idea what the answer here is. I don’t know whether Aboriginals should have their own tribal justice system separate to that of the white man, like many Native American communities. I don’t know whether there should be a court system that has judges trained in Aboriginal ways, or whether we need to do more training with the women so they can educate us on their version of Aboriginal culture, that doesn’t give men a free pass to rape and murder. I don’t know how we protect Aboriginal women and children without moving them out of their communities, or how we create equality and education within it. I really don’t know what the answer is, but I think the first step is to have a conversation about it.

However, I’m not sure in the current climate we can even discuss what the appropriate actions should be, since any time the subject is brought up, it creates a war for the SJWs who think being PC is more important than protecting a child from rape, disease and murder. It’s racist to treat people differently because of their colour, but that’s exactly what we’re being when we have a different set of rules on how we police them.

I think the best course of action is to remember that these are people. It shouldn’t matter what color, religion, race or culture someone comes from. If they’re in danger, we need to help them. Being a human should count before being any other designation.

Something has to be done. It’s going to be uncomfortable for a lot of people, and I’m sure many will be offended. But if we don’t go through the hard part of having discussions, and that means discussing ALL options, we can never find a solution. Right now, people aren’t even able to talk about how to deal with it, for fear of backlash. That’s not helping anyone.

If you truly care for the Aboriginal people as much as you say you do in your little speeches, you’ll accept that we all need to stop treating them as a special category, and recognizing that Aboriginal women and children should be protected just like white women and children. (Which isn’t nearly as good as it should be, but it’s still a step above what they’re getting.)

So next time someone brings up a subject you think might not be PC, or is uncomfortable, before you shut it down, ask yourself whether that’s really helpful. Or, ask yourself if your discomfort is more or less than the child being gang raped….

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Allegedly now available on iTunes

Great news!

So many of you have been asking for an eBook version of Allegedly, and it’s now available for download on iTunes! Just click the book below and it will take you straight to it.

Thanks so much to everyone who has supported me and my journey, and everyone who has read my book. I hope it brought you a little bit of joy, even with all the sad bits in there.

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Sheep in the Air

What does a dead puppy say about sheep?

We’ve all heard the news by now. A puppy was forced into an overhead bin on a United Airlines flight, and it died.

The universe rightly went into a meltdown, although it was interesting watching the different reasons for it.

Half the people put all the blame on the flight attendant, who was adamant the woman put her dog in the overhead locker. Then there was a bunch of people who also held the owner to blame, asking why she didn’t stand her ground. Then there was all the people who hate dogs, and wondered why it was on a flight to begin with.

Now, it’s early days, and I’m sure there’s more to the original story. There’s always a couple different spins, but given that United has actually taken blame for it, I’m guessing the FA was at fault here.

Here’s the thing about the US. They are very dog friendly. Much more so than Australia. A dog isn’t something bought for the kids, and left in the backyard. It’s a member of the pack. People treat them like family, because, they are. If you’re not willing to treat your dog like a child, then I suggest you don’t get one. Your dog depends on you. It loves you. It basically lives for you, just like your human children do. You need to feed it, groom it, provide it with shelter, and just like a human child, teach it manners. You might have a lot of people in your life, but your dog basically just has you. So treat it with the respect it deserves.

In the US, many hotels are pet friendly, there are restaurants that have special doggie menus, and generally, it’s just way more dog inclusive, especially in the more affluent areas.

There’s pampered pets, then you’ve got dogs with jobs.

A lot of people don’t understand the difference between Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs and Emotional Support Animals.

Basically, it’s about what it does, and what rights you have with it.

A service dog performs a service. Most people immediately recognise a seeing eye dog, but many people don’t know that there’s literally donzens of different types of service dogs, and not all people’s disabilites are visible. There are dogs for people with epilepsy. The dogs can sense before a seizure, and alert the owner, giving them time to find a better spot, or seek assistance. There are dogs for diabetics, who can sniff when their owners blood sugar is low. There are hearing dogs, for people who are both completely deaf, or like me, partially deaf. The dog will alert their owner of sounds, and can lead them to it. Whether it’s the timer on the stove, or a fire alarm. There are dogs that help service members with PTSD. The dog can see when their owner is getting agitated, and redirects them. They can also wake them from nightmares. There are so many more examples, it’d need a post just for that…

Except for the blind person, none of these other people have visible disabilites, yet they all use service dogs. You can’t tell by them walking down the street if they have a service dog, or are just a person walking their pet, and a lot of people with disabilites like it that way.

Just like all disabilites are different, so are the animals. People always think of golden retrievers or german shepards, but it’s not a requirement. In England one of the biggest hearing dogs training facilites uses poodles. A seizure or diabetic dog can be any breed, as long as it’s well trained. “Small yappy dogs” can actually make exceptional service animals.

Then there are therapy dogs. You might have seen one at a nursing home, or at a trauma center. They even have them at some airports now. These dogs are basically like furry therapists. It’s been shown that petting an animal can lower a persons blood pressure, and relieve stress. So these guys are out there to help people feel good. They work with lots of different people, and have to have a very loving temperament, and be good at meeting lots of new people.

Then there’s an emotional support animal. This is an animal that is basically a pet, but provides their owner with comfort. It’s like a personal shrink.

Now, in the US, a service dog has legally protected status. Well, technically the owner is protected under the ADA (Americans with Disabilites Act) They can take their service animal with them anywhere they go, including restaurants, supermarkets and airplanes. They can live in places with no animal policies, and they can fly for free with their owners.

There is no requirement for the animal to have been trained in a special facility, although many are. It’s very expensive though, and many people successfully train their own service anials to their specific needs. So many people have been faking service animals though, that the FAA has made it so you now have to show some sort of training to fly with your dog. It can fly at your feet or on your lap and doesn’t need to be in a carrier.

A therapy dog has obedience training, and has to pass veterinary tests before it can be used in a public setting. They don’t have any rights on aircraft.

An ESA is a pet. It has no rights, except for when people get a letter from a psychiatrist or therapist stating they need their dog with them when they fly. It dog doesn’t need to stay in a carrier, since you theoretically need the dog where you can access it while flying. They get to fly for free, but you do have to contact the airline at least 48 hrs in advance to let them know you have an ESA, and provide a copy of the letter.

Then there are pets. Depending on the airline, most dogs under 20 lbs (about 9kg) can fly with you in the cabin, in an approved carrier, for a fee. Most airlines charge between $100 – $200 for a pet fee, each way. They also count as one of your carry on bags. It has to fit in under the seat in front of you, and you cannot take the dog out of the bag at any time during the flight.

It’s expensive, and the reason so many people are faking service and therapy dogs is probably because it is so expensive. If airlines made it cheaper, people would probably pay to fly their dog. There’s also a limit on how many dogs can be on each flight. Most airlines max out at 5. They also know in advance when a dog is on a flight, so people who do have allergies can request an animal free flight.

Now, people complain about dogs on flights, but honestly, I’ve never had a problem with a pet on a flight. It’s inside a bag, so it’s not spreading dander everywhere. It’s not running around and slobbering on anyone, and it’s definately not biting anyone. I can’t same the same thing for some children.

Genuine service animals are a delight. They are so well behaved, unless you saw it, you probably wouldn’t know it was on a flight with you. They are always well groomed, never beg for treats, go up to strangers, or annoy anyone. If you see a service animal, please don’t go up and try to pet it. It’s working. Leave it be to focus on it’s owner, no matter how adorable it is.

The ESAs are usually the problem. Not all, but some. Most people have well trained dogs, keep them groomed, and keep them contained in their lap. Other people though have dogs that really should be kept in a carrier, but there’s a lot of selfish entitled people out there, and they don’t really care if their dog bothers anyone.

Larger dogs can be put in the cargo hold, but only certain breeds of dogs. Snub nose dogs like pugs, boston terriers, etc cannot fly in the hold. It’s also weather dependant. It can get very hot  or very cold, and most carriers won’t take dogs in the hold in the middle of summer or winter. It’s not safe.  Dogs don’t have an inner ear like humans, so unlike us, they don’t need to pop their ears in flight. So while that baby is crying (understandably) the dog is just fine.

Dogs are so frequent now that many airports are putting in designated Pet Relief Areas so that you can take them potty between flights, without having to go outside security.

Which all brings me back to the puppy on United.

A lot of people are complaining about dogs on planes, and especially about service/ESA dogs. Apart from the fact that ESA dogs are giving service dogs a bad name, and making it difficult for people with service dogs, there’s actually no reason to bring that up with this particular dog. There is no indication that it was passed off as a service or ESA dog. It was brought on as a pet, inside an approved carrier. The dog wasn’t bothering anyone, except apparently the flight attendant, who may have been tired of fake service animals or ESAs. Or they just didn’t like dogs. Or were on a power trip. We don’t know.

But given this woman PAID to take her dog on board, inside an approved carrier, shows that she was genuinly trying to do the right thing. She spent money to do the right thing. She had a child and a small baby with her as well as the puppy. She was probably already overwhelmed traveling with a kid and an infant, without some FA fighting with her over a dog.

Which brings me to the sheep.

Other people on this flight watched this happen. They saw a woman with a child, a baby, and a dog. They saw the FA fighting with her. They watched the mother stand up for her pet, before finally relenting. She probably didn’t want to get dragged off the flight. United doesn’t have a good track record with people or animals, and she was probably scared.

But what about the other passengers? Are we all so passive now that nobody thought about standing up to the FA? Did anyone else think to speak back to them and just watched as the dog was put in an airless bin? Did nobody else think about what they would do if it was their own dog? People said they heard the dog barking, and then it stopped. Why didn’t anyone help her get the dog back down again once they took off?

People are sheep. They are so scared of the wolf, they won’t step out on their own. But if we stand as a pack, if multiple people stand up, they can’t hurt us all. Even if one or two other people had stepped up and said something, this situation could have been prevented. Someone could have called for the captain. They have the ultimate say on a flight, and I’m guessing they wouldn’t have been ok with a dog being shoved up above.

If we won’t stand up for a dog, who else won’t we stand up for? I’m tired of people standing by and watching bad things happen, and not having the balls to step up and say something. Yes, sometimes it comes with risk, but what happens when you’re the one who needs someone to stand up and help you? Do you accept that people won’t, or do you hope someone else will take a chance on doing the right thing?

If you see a scared young girl on a flight, do you check up on her, and make sure she’s ok, or do you just think, “it’s none of my business” and keep going. How do you reconcile that later when you find out she was a human trafficking victim? Or that she was a minor flying alone, and the guy sitting next to her was touching her inappropriately?

It costs you nothing to be a good person. It free to give someone a smile. It takes a minute to give someone a comforting word, and ask if they need help. Be the hero in someone’s story. Don’t be the one to post a picture on Instagram crying saying you did nothing.

Maya in her TSA carrier. She loved traveling with us.
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The Academy doesn’t care about kids

The pinnacle of awards season, the Oscars, was last night.

I didn’t watch. I had no desire to watch a bunch of people who live in gated communities, wearing gifted gowns and jewellery, get up on stage and pat each other on the back between political speeches.

The Oscars have descended into the most boring political event on television. I was especially wary this year about the hypocrisy of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement. If I had to watch Meryl give a speech about standing up for women in the industry after seeing her give a standing ovation to Roman Polanski just a few years before she called Weinstein God, I may have punched the television.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no beef with #MeToo or #TimesUp. I think both are long overdue. I’m glad we’re standing up. But, at the same time, why are we giving such loud voices to those who weren’t really with us before, and we’re totally ignoring those who were actually screaming for help and equality before it became the cause du jour?

The Coogan Law, which protects the money children earn while working in entertainment, is only enacted in four US states. California, New York, Louisiana and New Mexico. Meanwhile, Georgia has become the new hub of the movie industry. No child labor laws or money worries there. And don’t get me started on reality TV….

Minors employed as actors or performers in motion pictures or theatrical productions, or in radio or television productions are exempt from Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) coverage. Therefore, FLSA rules regarding total allowable number of work hours in one day and allowable times of day to work do not apply. Basically, this means that while you can’t have your kids work in your restaurant, on the farm, or thankfully send your kids to work in a sweatshop, you can have them working at 2am, in the freezing cold, on a movie set.

So basically, you can work the hell out of kids on set, and they’re not even guaranteed to keep any of that money they’re working so hard for.

While Paul Petersen and Alison Arngrim have been fighting in the trenches, going to Washington DC, campaigning for safer environments for kids, where were all these A List stars? There are minors working on so many films. Where were their co-stars when kids were being abused? I don’t see any of them trying to help enact laws, trying to make change. They’re calling for safer places for adult women, but they still don’t seem to worry too much about the small kids working with them on set. The little people who actually need help and protection from other people. They haven’t learnt to speak up for themselves yet. Or worse, because they’re kids, they’re told to be seen and not heard.

Then, last night, the Oscars confirmed they don’t give a shit about kids.

I woke up to all my friends on FB talking about the “In Memoriam” section. It’s always controversial, and people are always left out. But there was two that were particularly glaring.

Heather Menzies, who played Louisa Von Trapp in the Sound of Music was snubbed. This makes her the second of the Von Trapp kids forgotten by the academy.

Maybe it was an oversight. Maybe the academy felt she wasn’t in enough films to warrant a mention. Maybe they felt she was better known as a TV actress, since she went on to a lot of television. Still, Sound of Music is a pretty timeless classic, so one would expect a star of that film to get a moment.

But then there’s Rose Marie.

 

Rose Marie started her career in 1929, the year the Oscars started. She was at the first one, with her first film. She has been working ever since. That’s right, she had been a working actress for 90 years. She was so famous, she doesn’t even need a last name.

In 1951, she had her musical numbers cut from the film Top Banana, after she refused a producers sexual advances. She later said it was thankfully the only time she had experienced sexual harassment in her nine decades in the industry. She was however active on Twitter, offering support to other women who had experienced harassment.

But after 90 years of singing, acting and dancing, you’d think you’d at least get a mention in the “In Memoriam” right? Well, maybe someone forgot her? Maybe the people choosing the names were too young to know her. Um, no. Her former publicist submitted her name three times to the Academy to make sure she wasn’t forgotten.

So was it a mistake? Was it a snub? Was it because she had publicly outed a producer all those years ago? Or was it because she started out as “Baby Rose Marie” and people who start as kids never seem to get remembered. – They also forgot to include Corey Haim back when he passed.

Here’s the thing, if you want kids in your movie, then you’ve got to give them the same courtesies you give adults.

Fair pay, a safe workplace, and some respect. If you can’t give them that while they’re working, at least light a candle for them when they go.

If you’re wondering if there’s anything you can do to help kids on set, look into charities like A Minor Consideration. Paul Petersen started AMC with the intent to change laws, and help those ones who have already been through it all.

 

 

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Who do you believe in?

All the deities are bullshit.

I just don’t understand people killing in the name of some magical sky fairy that no one alive has ever actually seen. All this “my god is the only true god” makes no sense.

They used to slaughter people to appease Xolotl. Not anymore.
They used to slaughter people to appease Xolotl. Not anymore.

How do you know your God even exists, let alone is the “one true God’? There have been over 2000 different “gods” throughout history. Do you think yours is the only real one because your parents told you he is? The same parents who told you about the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus? Why is it as we grow up being lied to by our parents about these mythical beings in order to keep up well behaved, it’s ok to find out they’re not real, but we keep up the facade about deities? They are also made up to keep people in line. But we have laws and courts now. We don’t need organised religion to rule the masses.

What we really don’t need, is people thinking their special invisible friend is the one and only special invisible friend, and going around trying to slaughter other people who choose to believe is a slightly different invisible friend.

People used to believe in Zues. Apparently he fell out of favour for some newer trendier Gods.
People used to believe in Zeus. Apparently he fell out of favour for some newer trendier Gods.

If the whole point of religion is to teach people peace, and love, and compassion, then you’re all failing miserably at it. Whether you’re a christian, muslim or believe in Zeus. (To be fair, I can’t remember the last time someone who believed in Zeus killed someone for them, or refused to bake someone a cake, or picketed a funeral)

I get that some people find comfort in religion. Some people need that belief that there’s something bigger and more powerful than them. They need someone to blame when shit goes wrong, and someone to thank when things go right.

I choose to believe in myself. I know I have power within me, and I don’t need to believe in something that I can’t see, hear, taste or feel to give me the strength to carry on.

I don’t need to donate money to a church thinking I’m helping feed the less fortunate, when in reality they’re simply going to build a bigger church, or buy the pastor a new plane or to pay off some sexual assault victims. Actually, I’m ok with the church giving compensation to victims, I’m not OK with them needing to do it in the first place. The church has been protecting their own for too long, using the name of some “magic deity” to rape and torture kids. Not that that’s new either. They used to go into whole countries and kill people off if they didn’t convert. (Which appears to be happening again)

Osiris, another God people no longer believe in.
Osiris, another God people no longer believe in.

Basically, if you need an invisible friend, then have at it. Cherish them. Love them. Whatever. But keep it to yourself. Don’t try to convert others. Don’t try to tell others that your god is better than their god, and for fucks sake, don’t go around killing people in the name of your god.

 

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SUP! Stand Up Paddleboarding.

I tried Stand Up Paddleboarding.

Before we moved to Florida, I had a whole list of things I was going to do. One of them was Stand Up Paddleboarding. I had seen people doing SUP on manatee tours, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever.

I’m pretty lazy though, and I never really got around to it.

Until today.

We moved onto our boat about three months ago, and it was still pretty chilly. But the last few weeks have been glorious. It’s sometimes nice and calm in the morning, but then it gets choppy in the afternoon. This morning though was just perfect. It was warm, the water was still, and you could actually see the bottom today. Our little cove is normally cloudy with silt.

We’ve made friends with the guys who have a little boat rental stand at the end of the marina. We were all in the hot tub the other night, and one of them was trying to convince me I can get in the water and clean my own boat bottom. I’m not totally convinced yet, but I’ll get there eventually.

This morning, I looked out, and thought, perfect day to try paddleboarding. As I walked up the pier, they boat rental guy was fishing. I asked if he caught anything, and he said no. Then he asked me if I had tried Stand Up Paddleboarding yet. It was like I had put my thought out into the world, and someone answered it.

So 10 minutes later, he’s showing me how to get on the board and paddle. I got right on, and I guess all those gymnastics lessons as a kid paid off, ’cause my balance was good, and I didn’t fall. I paddled all over our marina, and even managed to crouch down on my knees and stand back up again a couple times to go under the docks. They even gave me a bottle of water which I sat on the board and it never fell off. Granted, it was super calm, and I only got the waves from one boat, but I was pretty impressed with myself!

If you’re in Stuart or Jupiter, and want to try Paddleboarding, Kayaking or Jetskiing, go to Beach Water Sports. Super cool peeps.

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