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Dear (M)all of ‘Murica:

I’m writing to request information regarding your return/exchange policy on The Donald that we received Nov. 8 as an early Christmas gift.

Some background: We tried to order The Hillary, but were told there was a problem with the email server.

It appears, however, that The Donald has this same glitch, among other problems.

Voice command override:
We tried to program it numerous times with numerous voice samples, but it refuses to respond.

False warning signals:
This model tends to beep for no reason beginning around 3 a.m. We are hard-working Americans who want to get some sleep. We can’t have The Donald bleating codes such as “MERYL” and “NYT” over and over.

Security issues:
The Donald was billed as a unit that would keep us safe. However, I’m more worried about break-ins than ever before. The unit is inside barking, “Come at me, Bro!” and “Cash me outside; how bow dah!,” which I think is egging on those with bad intentions. Plus, it won’t let in the people we invited.

Failure to work with existing systems:
Almost immediately upon arrival, The Donald refused to work with other units already in place. It overrode the sensors on various technology and tried to shut them down. Some systems are back up and running on alternative power, but others still are refusing to connect.

Low energy efficiency:
The Donald was billed as a unit that that would increase energy efficiency and protect the environment. However, the model has two pipes that could start leaking oil at any moment.

These are just five of the many problems with this model. We would like to return The Donald as it clearly is as defective as we had heard prior to receiving it. The limited warranty expired Jan. 20.

Line 25 of your operating manual gives some guidance on your return/exchange policy, but I’d like more details, a timeline and information about a replacement.

I know you have The Pence in stock, but I’m not interested in that model because its features are limited. The Ryan has numerous reported defects. I’ve heard The Sanders is on back order and The Kasich is out of stock indefinitely. What other options do you have? Do I have to wait for The Libtard 2020 or The Snowflake 2024?

Please respond at your earliest convenience. We are losing long-time friends because of The Donald, and it is scaring the children.

Eagerly awaiting a resolution,
Beth (and 65+ million others)

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Dear Facebook Friends:

Happy new year! I appreciate that your posts have been filled with love and light for the holidays.

In just a little over two weeks, though, we will inaugurate a new president. And I’m sure that’s going to bring back all the nasty political posts.

This is how I feel about that:

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Let’s start off on the right foot for 2017 by making Facebook a palatable place again. And by that, I mean I need you to stop writing the following:

You say: “I’m tired of being politically correct.”
I hear: “I want to be able to say the same horrible stuff I’ve always said without someone calling me out.”
The truth: You have freedom of speech, but that does not mean you have freedom from consequences. If you want to say, “That’s so gay,” like you did in the ’80s, I’m going to have to chastise you or delete you. Your choice.

You say: “I like Trump because he speaks his mind.”
I hear: “He is saying the horrible stuff I want to say but I can’t because I have to be politically correct (see above).”
The truth (as I see it): Despite his assertions that he has a very good brain, his mind is full of cobwebs, tumbleweeds and pictures of naked ladies. He’s gross. Sorry, not sorry.

You say: “Trump is surrounding himself with good people.”
I hear: “I don’t really like him, but I voted for him and now I have to double down on that decision. I’m going to be optimistic despite all evidence to the contrary. Gingrich, Giuliani and Christie — the Larry, Darryl and Darryl of the campaign — didn’t worry me enough. Oh look over there — a squirrel!”
The truth: So much for draining the swamp. I can’t even with this.

You say: “I’m so glad Clinton didn’t win. Clinton is corrupt.” Also, “she is a career politician.”
I hear that you don’t like her. I get it. But …
The truth: If you really cared about corruption, you wouldn’t have voted for Trump. He’s got a list of shady maneuvers longer than Santa’s naughty list. As for the other, I’m still pissed that her ambition is seen as a bad thing. Clinton worked her whole life toward one goal and she loses to a dude (of course) who seemingly ran on a whim.

You say: “Suck it up. Get over it. He won. Now you know how I felt when Obama won twice.”
I hear: “Nyah, nyah” and “neener, neener.”
The truth: Obama and Trump are very different people and very different politicians. Both wins reflected a desire for change from the prior administration. I’m better off now than I was eight years ago and so are most people I know. I guess you aren’t. Either that, or you are voting against your own best interests.

You say: “There is a war on Christianity.”
I hear: “I’m pissed that everyone doesn’t believe what I believe.”
The truth: Not everyone is a Christian. We have separation of church and state for a reason.

You say anything nasty regarding the mainstream media.
I hear you attacking my integrity as I have spent my life working in and researching local news.
The truth: Without the mainstream media, we would have no reliable information about what is happening in our communities, our nation, our world. The fourth estate is crucial for an informed citizenry. Also,

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As you should know, I am not a straight-ticket kind of person. I would love to hear your point of view. But I want to hear it in person over coffee. I’m not interested in the talking points or meme you got from some fake news site run by a bored teen in Macedonia. Fair warning: This is the year that I stop being polite and start getting real. (More so than usual.) 

We are all human here. Let’s try to make the world a better place. We can disagree about how we are going to do that, but let’s schedule a play date to discuss.

Love and kisses in 2017!
Beth

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doDear Mr. Trump,

Hi there! I’m Beth. I’m no one you’d know personally. I doubt six degrees of separation could apply to us. I’m just a middle-class mostly white voter — a voter with typical human emotions like joy and fear.

I’m sure this whole “running for president in 2016” venture started off as a lark. You know, like it did in 2000. Deep down, you probably are as surprised as anyone else that you are now the Republican nominee. I know the 16 candidates who dropped out are pretty shocked. (I personally feel the most sorry for Jeb Bush. I can’t imagine Thanksgiving with the family.) It’s a strange election indeed when Jeb Bush is not considered a viable candidate.

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Anyway, there’s been plenty of talk about you being, you know, related to SATAN, but I’m sure you can’t be that bad. I mostly liked you when you were on “The Apprentice.” I’m sure all your negative publicity is because of that danged liberal media. (I must have missed my liberal entrance exam when I started working in the media in 1988. I think I was part of the College Republicans then. Whoops. Glad my employers didn’t find out!)

But wait … isn’t Fox News conservative? They didn’t like you for a while either.

Anyway, I’m sure it is just a misunderstanding. I’m sure you are quite lovely in person.

I’d like to see for myself: My husband and I would like to invite you over for dinner. We have a modest house — certainly not Mar-a-Lago — but we are happy.

We are just trying to settle on the guest list. Here’s who’s on the list at the moment:

  1. Eddie. Eddie, of course, has to be at dinner because he lives here. I must warn you, though: He’s Puerto Rican. He was born in Puerto Rico. His family is from and lives in Puerto Rico. So maybe you want to stick to topics other than debt relief for Puerto Rico. He likes to talk about CrossFit.
  2. James. I also want to invite our friend James. I think you will get along well with him. After all, you said in 2011, “I have a great relationship with the blacks. I’ve always had a great relationship with the blacks.”
  3. Billy. I’d like to invite our friend Billy, but I’m not sure. He’s Muslim, so maybe he has to stay outside. I don’t want to offend you or violate your proposed ban on Muslims.
  4. Daniel. My ex brother-in-law Daniel likely will want to come. He’s Mexican, so I’ll get the kids to use their Legos to build a wall around him at the table. I think he bought them the Legos, in fact.
  5. Patrick. I think he’s part Native American, but he doesn’t really look “Indian.”
  6. Matt. My friend Matt is Jewish, but I don’t know if he is good at negotiating. I’ll check into that.
  7. Brian. He is a high school friend of mine who is gay. He’s single though. No problems there!
  8. My nephew. He’s from Canada (sorry), but he works at a bible college. As you are a “baby Christian,” he can help nurture you.
  9. My dad. He was in the military, but he wasn’t a POW. So that’s good.
  10. Royce. He’s a white male. I know you’ll love him.

Royce’s wife Sarah and I will be in the kitchen where we belong, trying to look sexy. (It’s our job, as you mentioned.)

I know you are busy — you are even having trouble scheduling important things like debates — but I hope you will make time for us. Please have your people call my people (my people = me). Looking forward to meeting you before the November 2016 election!

Earnestly yours,
Beth

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Dear Santa,

I’m running a bit late on this letter and I apologize. Clearly, I need plenty of help this year. I wish I could have given you more notice; I don’t think the elves can whip up the things on this list.

To borrow from Dr. Seuss and his Grinch:

Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas … perhaps … means a little bit more!

Here’s what I want for Christmas:

1. Some freakin’ patience. I’ve been with my children almost nonstop for weeks and there’s more to come as school is out. I’m trying to limit the “no more wire hangers” moments, but it’s rough.

2. A good, old-fashioned smiting. I know that’s usually God’s area, but I thought maybe you could help out a little with the hypocrites screaming that Phil Robertson‘s Freedom of Speech was violated. A&E isn’t the government, Freedom of Speech does not equal Freedom from Consequences, and weren’t these the same people calling the Dixie Chicks traitors?

3. Awareness of others for certain people. They clamor for attention daily (especially on Facebook) but cannot be bothered to remember other people’s birthdays or other important events.

4. Relief from some of the holiday trappings. Call me Scrooge, but I despise the Elf on the Shelf, “The Nutcracker,” and Christmas cards that start arriving right after Thanksgiving. (I hate them because that means the senders have their shit together. I don’t, especially when it come to cards. I’m thinking New Year’s cards sound good. In 2015.)

5. An end to the ridiculous “Merry Christmas” flap. Look, some people are sensitive to the fact that many people don’t celebrate Christmas. It’s not an attack against Christianity to say “Happy Holidays.” Is there NOTHING else to worry about? Oh wait … see No. 2.

6. The chance for Jack Kingston to live within a poor person’s means for a week. Maybe then he will understand that we are not all born equal. Low-income families certainly don’t choose to be low income. To suggest that children sweep floors to earn their subsidized lunches is beyond crass. He’s a real-life Mr. Potter!

7. Blake Shelton.

8. A silencer for anyone who wants to talk about Crossfit. It works. It’s great. Now shut up. It’s like this:

religion-is-like-a-penis

9. Some cold weather. It doesn’t feel like Christmas when it is 77. Does Mrs. Claus need to make another appeal to the Miser Brothers? (My tropical husband disagrees, but whatever.)

10. A return to robustness for the aforementioned tropical husband. He’s been in bed with a fever since Friday. It means I don’t have to worry about No. 8, but that’s sad for him.

Oh yeah, and peace on earth and goodwill to men (which I’d like to include marriage equality and an end to racism and classism, but maybe that’s just me). Also, an end to poverty.

You may not be able to deliver. If not, I understand. It’s short notice, plus it’s a tall order. I know. And we regular humans should really be doing a better job of walking the walk of loving and understanding our neighbors. (Uh oh. Didn’t I just ask for a smiting? All right. I’ll take the coal.)

Thanks anyway. See you tomorrow night!

Still a believer,
Beth

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Paula in happier days

Dear Paula Deen:

I know you are going through a rough time right now. Even with the chaos in Texas (go Wendy!) and the Supreme Court decision on that stupid Defense of Marriage Act (you know how I feel about that), you are still in the spotlight.

By all accounts (from people who know you, worked for you, still work for you, were raised by you, etc.) you are not racist by definition. Hard-driving, stubborn and raunchy, perhaps, but not racist. The plaintiff in that year-old lawsuit (who is white, surprisingly) even admits she never heard you make racist remarks.

It’s never OK to use THAT word (or any derogatory word like that). But I’m willing to cut you some slack on a 30-year-old mistake. (Especially as you apologized. Repeatedly.)

I mean, let’s be honest here: Who hasn’t had some tragic lapses in judgment? Let’s look at some of the decades-old moments for which I need to atone:

  1. St. Patrick’s Day 1993
  2. Fancy Dress 1989
  3. That one time at drama camp …
  4. Dating the dude from Macy’s receiving department (My dad’s observation: “Doesn’t that guy own any shirts with sleeves?”)
  5. This dress:Prom 1985 (It’s no wonder I don’t have a stitch of lace in my closet now. I reached my Designated Lace Quota in 1985.)
  6. This hair: '80s hair(Aqua Net was my best friend.)
  7. While we’re at it, this hair too: Blonde ambition(The ill-advised blonde ambition phase. What the what?)
  8. Being a mean girl to a nice boy who asked me to a dance. And not being a mean girl to a not-so-nice boy who asked me to a different dance. (That boy ended up talking through dinner about all the times in his life he had barfed. I sure know how to pick ’em.)
  9. Not buying that house on Jones Street.
  10. Allowing Neil the Cockatiel to escape the dorm suite I shared with his mom.

I’m sure I’ve committed many more sins than I can remember right now. We all have regrets. We all don’t have to fess up to them in a deposition.

Good luck with everything. You know how people are when they decide to make someone a scapegoat. If you need a personal pick-me-up, read a blog post by Michael Twitty, a fellow who addresses the real problem in an eloquent way.

It’s not all about you; it’s about pervasive, systemic racism. It’s about the real challenges people who are not white face. And white people don’t see and understand these challenges precisely because they are white. (Contrary to common conservative thought, we all can’t get where we want to go through hard work. We are not all born equal.)

We need to get to a point as a nation where difference doesn’t come with judgment. My kids see difference in skin color, but they don’t attach “good” or “bad” labels to that difference.

For example, Dominic noticed that one of his camp counselors, a black woman, was married to a white man. I said that I hoped that didn’t bother him because his daddy and I are an interracial couple too.

Gideon piped up and said, “Oh I know. You are really white and Daddy is brown.”

Dominic replied, “Daddy’s not brown. He’s tan.”

(Note that photo in No. 7 up there and decide for yourself.)

Difference is good.* Judgment is bad.

But I think you know that.

Yours in love of buttery goodness,
Beth

* How boring would it be if we were all the same?

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Discover this show!

Dear Discovery Channel:

Thank you so much for offering “Dual Survival” in your lineup. I stumbled across this show while stranded in a Hampton Inn in Macon on New Year’s Day.

I am fully aware that it is edited for entertainment purposes, as is typical of reality shows. But it seems to be more “real” than most. And costar Cody seems to be a man of integrity, if his posts regarding the show are any indication.

It is one show that appeals to my entire family. We’ve all learned so much from the show. For example, I learned:

  • How to catch prey using a bamboo v-trap
  • How to start a fire using the exposed filament of a flashlight bulb
  • How to stitch a wound using leafcutter ants"Dual Survival"

I also learned that I need to put costar Joe Teti on my list.

Joe

Hot and resourceful — just how I like ’em. So thanks for that casting decision.

The next time I find myself lost in the jungle or desert, I know my reality TV addiction will produce positive results in some respect. Keep up the good work!

Your loyal viewer,
Beth

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Dear Dr. G:

Hello, and I hope you are doing well since I last saw you at AEJMC. I’ve been thinking about you lately for a strange reason.

You once called me a dilettante, which made me mad at the time. It wasn’t really accurate for the situation (as I recall, you were upset with me because you wanted me to focus solely on my doctoral work, but I wanted to keep my full-time job, you know, so I could eat and have shelter).

La dilettante

I know your heart was in the right place, and that you were, in your own way, showing confidence in my ability to do scholarly research full time.

Though it may seem like I am a dabbler, it’s not that at all. It’s the opposite, actually. I throw myself into something fully, learn as much as I can, then I move on to something else. More short attention span than dilettante.

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That’s why I have five degrees (yes, five). It is also why my résumé looks like the life of eight different people.

If I could, I’d have more jobs (in addition to the one I have now, which I love). Some of these jobs include:

  • Flight attendant (A waitress in the sky? Yes!)
  • Travel writer
  • Tour guide for some exotic location
  • Cruise ship social director or bartender  (like Julie or Isaac from The Love Boat)
  • Personal chef (Wait … I think I already am.)
  • Character actress (like Rebel Wilson)
  • Personal assistant to someone nearly crazy (Think of the stories I could tell!)
  • NBC page (that’s one of those unfulfilled college ideas)
  • Beta tester for games
  • Game show host
  • Full-time employee at my university’s study-abroad campus in France (!)
  • Owner of a craft brewery
  • PR executive for Disney
  • Train conductor
  • State senator

Maybe Santa can bring me new names for my contact list to help me accomplish my goals.

So yes, I am interested in many things. Dilettante? No. Focused? Yes, for periods of time. Game show host? I can only hope. Thanks for helping me in one of my pursuits.

Anyway, happy holidays, and I look forward to seeing you in Washington, D.C.

Sincerely,
Beth, Aspirational Polymath

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