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No, Your Childs Education Isnt That Important

Your child’s education isn’t important!

Woah, stop the presses. Isn’t your child’s education the most important thing there is?! Well, while I’ll agree (as a strong, college educated professional) that education is important, I believe that as a society as a whole we have placed far too much value on it. So it might be better to describe it this way.

Your child’s education isn’t as important as you think.

I was watching TV with my daughters while on vacation when a particular commercial came on the screen. I won’t state the specific company, but it was a well-known educational app that was aimed towards helping children to learn. In fact, once upon a time, I subscribed to this educational app for kids. I still thought it was great and really put together well. Props, you know? But the commercial? I always had a problem with them. They fed into the worried parental mind that exists so readily today.

This particular mindset of the modern parent said, “Is my child up to speed?”

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It was a mindset that was seeped in comparison and anxiety.

It said, “Is my child learning fast enough? Are they smart enough? Are they going to be behind?”

So, back to the commercial. This particular one showed an interview with a once-panicked mom.

She states happily, “We were so worried Billy was falling behind! But now he’s learning by leaps and bounds!”

Leaps and bounds. The camera switched over to little Billy playing happily with his tablet. He looked to be about two years old. The only leaping he needed to do was over mud puddles. And the only bounding truly required was towards his favorite playground. He was a toddler, preschooler at the most, and his parents were causing undue anxiety for not only him but themselves when they kept sweating if a child who couldn’t yet tie his shoes recognized every letter of the alphabet and what sound they made. Just my opinion.

I’ve been there, you see. I’ve been that worried parent, and I did it long enough to come out the other side wiser and more relaxed. I still have a lot to learn about parenting, and I don’t consider myself the know-all, be-all. But my kids are pretty darn happy. That’s good enough for me.

Have you ever noticed how when you rush about trying to get out the door on time that your children fall apart? It’s that way with most things when you push a child beyond what is possible or what they’re ready to handle. I look back at many afternoons at the table, my daughter crying, and me feeling like a terrible mom!

I guess I started to realize the error of my ways a few years ago. I was so anxious about it all. My daughter was in first grade, and she couldn’t read! I mean, she could read her sight words and trudge through some Dr. Suess, but when it came to picking up a book and simply reading without the painful phonics and stumbling pauses, she wasn’t there yet.

Her cousin could read!

Other kids in her homeschool group could read.

It was me, most likely. I was messing my kid up!

As a homeschooling mother, I worried I wasn’t giving my child what she needed. I worried I wasn’t preparing her adequately for the future. I worried it was my fault she couldn’t read!

I pushed harder. She fell apart easier.

School days were often painful, and I realized my child hated reading.

As an avid reader, and an even more passionate writer, the thought of my own flesh and blood not being a book worm like mommy was especially painful. She loved her some science, which my medical field self was proud of, and she zipped through math better than I ever could, but the reading. Painful. Painfully behind.

I sat at the kitchen table going over curriculum, lessons plans, and catalogs for the upcoming school year, and at that moment I realized I was pushing my oldest child too hard. She wasn’t ready to move forward to the next grade. She hadn’t met the milestones she should for reading. Sometimes she hit the mark every time, but it wasn’t consistent. I felt in my honest heart that I needed to hold her back a year.

Y’all, I was crushed. She didn’t care. I explained she would be repeating a grade, and I let her know that her cousin (the same age by a week) would be moving ahead of her. She was fine with it. I slowly followed suit.

See, I thought it was my fault. I thought she was behind. I had set in my mind the particular path her learning should take, and anything other than that seemed like an epic fail!

We live in a world that shows commercials for teaching your baby to read. Ads tote the importance of your child being ahead, and certainly not behind. They talk a lot about ensuring your child’s successful future, as if when they learn their ABC’s will determine if they get into Harvard.

Well, here’s the truth of it. Billy may not get into Harvard. In fact, Billy may not want to go to Harvard. He may not want to attend college at all. And that’s okay! We have fewer tradesmen and blue-collar workers than ever before because society has placed such a value on higher education, forgetting that it takes all kinds to make the world go round.

Want to hear the craziest part?! My child wasn’t behind. The only reason she was even in the grade she was in was because I enrolled her in it. As a homeschooling parent, I had started her Pre-K early. We had moved on to Kindergarten before her friends in our neighborhood who were the same age. If she had gone to public school she would not have been able to attend Kindergarten when she did, but I had been so excited and determined to teach her. And that’s fine and dandy! But I had to know when to throttle down, when to push her, when to relax and take a breath. I look back now and wish I had that time back. I wish we had played more with toys in the floor, spent more time cuddling and giggling, and less time making her sit at a table and learn how to count to twenty before she could even pronounce the number correctly.

The world she was growing up in said she needed to read by five, but it said nothing of yes ma’am or no sir.

The world she was growing up in said she needed to be involved in as many extracurricular activities as possible to build character, teamwork, and a competitive spirit. It said nothing about the benefit of time with mom and dad, or how much knowledge could be gleaned from sitting on the porch shelling peas with grandma.

The world she was growing up in said the honor roll was a must but said very little about befriending the quiet girl sitting on the bus alone.

The world we were living in said I was a failure as a parent if my child didn’t keep the same pace as the majority. It said there was only one way to learn, one style, one setting, and one ruler to measure everyone’s success by. It said nothing of individuality, special gifting, unique talent, or how the planet could keep spinning even if your offspring weren’t number one at absolutely everything!

Billy could fall down and be okay.

Billy could make straight A’s, but be a bully.

Billy could hate homework, but still be successful in life.

Sally could have trouble learning to read, but create a symphony that brought people to tears.

Sally could flunk math and still lead a productive, happy life!

Good grades didn’t predict your future, but being a decent human being said a lot.

Being first place wouldn’t earn you a wonderful life, but putting yourself last would lead to a fulfilling one. Do you know what I mean by that?

We have to teach our children how to be kind, love others, and serve as Jesus did. Heck, He told His followers to drop their nets, leave their jobs, give away their gold, and even go on their journeys without a bag packed. He didn’t plan for a perfect future for them, but He did give them the tools to build up an everlasting treasure in Heaven. He showed them that kindness was cool, being last put you first, and hanging with the outcasts was where it was truly at! I wanna teach my kids that!

You know what? My daughter reads beautifully now and learning how a little behind the average age didn’t harm her a bit. I had to learn to settle myself and not place too much stress on either of us. I had to realize what’s important in life and what’s not. The world will tell you a lot of things are must-haves and have-to-be dones, but nothing is more important than relationships with those around us and learning to be a better person tomorrow than you were today.

I am a college educated professional, and I make really good money. I have so many options with my career, and I could live anywhere in the country. There’s tons of room for growth, promotional potential, and retirement benefits. My education allows me a lot of freedom in my life, and I think that’s awesome. But it’s not the most important thing.

I could have the highest degree possible for my vocation, and I could have obtained the highest GPA in my graduating class. I could have attended the most prestigious program out there, and have a billion certifications behind my name. I could keep my educational level ever-growing, learning everything I could possibly know about my changing field, but it would mean absolutely nothing if I was a jerk.

I am a successful nurse because I treat my patients like people rather than just a number or diagnosis. My patients love me because I consider my job a privilege to serve mankind. I do well in my career because I’m a good team player, I have a positive attitude, and I’m easygoing in what is a difficult, changing environment. Yeah, I needed the degree to get me to the bedside, but it’s my love for people that keeps me there and happy. I don’t want to be that person who hates their job, and I don’t want my children to be that person either.

You’ve seen technology. The world could be run by robots if we wanted, but one thing prevents that. Love. We need it to make the world go round. We need humanity. We need a smile. Everyone hates self-checkout at Walmart because they want the friendly checker to say hello. We need more friendly hellos.

We need more people who love what they do.

We need more people who are passionate about one another, about helping the planet move forward in harmony. We’ve become a selfish place to live. We cut line, cheat, and win by whatever means necessary. We think that will bring happiness. A bigger degree, a more successful career, a fatter bank account, a larger home. Surely these things will bring us happiness! We spend so much time running faster for something better that by the end of our lives we lay there exhausted wondering where the time went. When did the kids grow up? Why don’t they ever come to visit? We sank all that money into our savings account, we built up that retirement cushion, but now that the time has come, no one is there to enjoy it with us. We’re alone. A bunch of highly educated, loners with a huge, extremely quiet home. Where’s the laughter gone?

Ahh, man, I could go on with this forever, but if you’re not getting it by now then I don’t know if you will. But I hope you do, before it’s too late. When you’re on your deathbed it won’t be Billy’s great grasp of phonics that flashes before your eyes. It will be all the lost time with those you loved, all the missed opportunities to build a treasure for yourself and your family beyond this world. It will be regret. And you will finally see that all the things you spent so much time worrying about were meaningless.

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Worst TV Show Endings Of All Time! – Perez Hilton

With Game Of Thrones coming to an end, lots of fans are upset about the way everything has gone down this entire season.

Of course, it’s hardly the first show to disappoint its viewers at the last minute (or before that).

Not sticking the landing is one thing; what these finales did is screw it up so bad they made fans like the whole show less!

See our bottom barrel picks for WORST endings of all time (below)!


The so-called “show about nothing” became one of the biggest sitcoms of all time thanks to all the beloved, unforgettable nothings Jerry and the gang dealt with.

From the Soup Nazi to the marble rye, from the yadda yadda to the shrinkage, there are probably more quotable lines and memorable moments on Seinfeld than any other show.


OK, maybe second to Friends. That’s still pretty great.

The point is, for the final episode, fans were geared up for one last super memorable sendoff, and what they got — all they got — were memories.

That’s because the last episode of Seinfeld was freakin’ clip show!

You know, the episodes they used to do all the time on TV to save money, where the characters just sat around and said HEY THIS ISN’T AS BAD AS THE TIME YOU YADDA YADDA then the show cuts to a clip from that episode?

During a trip out of state, Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer see a man getting mugged and fail to help or even call the cops — and end up getting arrested and charged under a “good samaritan” law.


The entire episode is the prosecution bringing in all the people they’ve wronged over the course of nine seasons as character witnesses — and cutting to clips of what they did.

The foursome end up getting convicted for being such awful people and go to prison.

And that’s really how it all ends. (c) NBC/YouTube

But really it’s less the resolution that’s a problem and more the unparalleled disappointment that was the episode that got us there.


OK, we have to start off by saying this about the show; they were NOT dead the whole time.


It’s a common misconception about the show because of how clumsy the final season and episode ended up.

For the five people who didn’t see LOST, the show is about a plane crash on a deserted island that just gets weirder and weirder.

We’re pretty sure ABC just wanted a drama version of Survivor, but J.J. Abrams created an incredibly ambitious high concept sci-fi/fantasy that tackled serious philosophy questions.

Though TBH what people came back for time and time again were the human dramas.


Early on the show sets up tons of intriguing questions; there’s other inhabitants, a monster, science experiments, even a wee bit of time travel.

Unfortunately the back half of the show never pays off with answers to 90% of them. And some of the answers we did get made the earlier episodes not make sense.

Not only that, several of the “twists” seemed more like the writers just changed their minds (or because actors very publicly got quit or got fired) and had to retcon themselves.


But the really annoying part of the ending is that the showrunners SWORE up and down that the most common fan theory early on — that everyone died in the crash, and the island was purgatory — was not accurate.

Then they proceeded to create a final season that WAS depicting purgatory, so when that twist was revealed in the last episode, everyone thought they were being lied to the entire time, and all the crazy stuff they saw in the previous seasons wasn’t real.

But hey, at least all the dead characters got to hug each other in heaven? (c) ABC/YouTube

Did we mention there was time travel?


Dexter is a textbook example of a show committing one of the cardinal sins of storytelling — impatience.

For those who never watched, the premise was Dexter Morgan, a forensic analyst for the Miami Metro Police Department who helped the cops take down serial killers — all while secretly being a serial killer himself.

Such a strong start…

In a unique twist, Dexter (Michael C. Hall) was taught to use his homicidal compulsions for good by only killing dangerous criminals, making him something of a hero, albeit a super disturbed one.

So naturally the final story to tell is the ultimate clash of his secret life and his outward life, right? Have him on the forefront of the investigation for HIMSELF??

Nope. That was Season 2. They blew their wad in Season 2.

After that the show struggled to find something more dramatic than the protagonist being pushed into such a corner and mostly floundered. But there was the odd excellent avenue, like guest star John Lithgow as another serial killer trying to keep a family life.

However, the final two seasons of the show was a hot mess that should’ve been cut into pieces, wrapped in garbage bags, and thrown into the bay.

Here are a few of the AWFUL turns in Seasons 7 and 8:

  • Dexter’s sister Debra realizes she’s in love with him (WTF?!?), totally ruining her character.
  • That doesn’t matter anyway because she gets killed by some random serial killer no one even remembers.
  • Everything becomes about the mob and people killing each other for very mundane, non-serial reasons.
  • Hannah is introduced halfway through the penultimate season and basically becomes the most important character in Dexter’s life. She’s this ridiculously badass who, like Dexter, also has no qualms about killing people who get in her way. (Almost like someone was trying get a spinoff going…)
No, Hannah. Literally no one remembers you. We’ve asked around.

But of course, nothing stings like the ending.

Dexter decides to solve all his problems by… committing suicide by driving his boat into a hurricane. Ew. 70 mph of ewwww.

However, the final scene of the show reveals Dexter didn’t die but instead faked his death. And is now working for a logging company in Oregon, and is sporting a really bad fake beard.

He’s a lumberjack and it’s not OK. / (c) Showtime/YouTube

He gets off work and then sits and stares at the camera, doing… nothing. For real. Nothing.

Presumably this is to show us he’s unhappily REFRAINING from murder. But it’s just such a whimper of an ending.

It’s maybe the single worst final shot of any series.

Battlestar Galactica

Man, did this show come out of nowhere!

Who knew a reboot of a failed late ’70s Star Wars knockoff would become one of the most beloved science fictions shows of all time??

The basic premise is this:

Humans created artificially intelligent robots to do manual labor; the robots (called CYLONS) revolt and there’s a war. The show takes place years later when the Cylons come back, this time with new models that look exactly like humans and are able to infiltrate us.


They end up blowing up Earth and most of humanity in the FIRST EPISODE, leaving only a few thousand humans left trying to get away on spaceships.

Right? Damn.

There was political intrigue, sexy relationship drama, brutal action — all heightened by the knowledge this was it for humanity.

The high stakes and shocking twists turned the space opera into an early binge favorite. Portlandia even made a sketch about how addictive it was.


Unfortunately the show ended up stumbling over itself toward the end.

In order for there to be dramatic reveals, characters were revealed out of nowhere to secretly have been Cylons the whole time, in some cases when it wasn’t logically possible.

Kind of like the first 5 minutes of Austin Powers 2 when Vanessa turns out to be a Fembot. Only it was supposed to be serious.


Then a couple characters were revealed to be — get this — ANGELS.

For real. There were space angels.

Then the last of the humans find a new planet and make peace with the Cylons like in that terrible Matrix ending and the show cuts to…

(c) Syfy/YouTube

That planet is revealed to be OUR Earth.

The colonists renamed it after their old planet, and the babies they had with the Cylons eventually became US.

Not only that, the space angels reveal that was all God’s plan for humanity.


It went from serious, adult storytelling to something you have to pay a LOT of money to Scientology to find out about.

True Blood

Talk about bad blood!

True Blood was an envelope-pushing show full of sex and violence — but also real romance.

The finale seemed to reject ALL of what the series began with.

Basically, the premise is simple. Vampires exist and thanks to a new synthetic blood they don’t have to kill humans to live anymore — meaning they can also “come out of the coffin” and reveal their existence to humans.

Sookie (Anna Paquin), a waitress in a small Southern town, meets and falls in love with a vampire named Bill (Stephen Moyer).

Think Twilight but with full frontal nudity and bloodier decapitations.


Things get complicated by the couple’s baggage, by the Romeo and Juliet group politics, and by other love interests (the ridiculously hawt Alexander Skarsgård and Joe Mangianello to name a couple).


If you think the sexual relationships get tricky, there’s also werewolves, fairies, and werepanthers.

But for a show that got so wild, so subversive, so bohemian — it really ended up quite conservative.

Oh, but don’t think that means it all became about how Sookie and Bill are married soulmates who live happily ever after for a thousand years, Twilight-style.

No, Bill gets infected by a disease called Hep V and decides to reject the cure and let himself die because he can’t give Sookie children. And that’s all that matters for her, because she’s a woman and that’s really the only thing her life should be about.

So he dies, and we see an epilogue where she gets to be pregnant — her true calling.

The only thing missing is her being barefoot — but to be fair, the kitchen is outside in the dirt. (c) HBO/YouTube


The show that began as a wild, decadent, blood-drenched soap opera ended up being more red state than red blood.

So no big message, no emotional satisfaction, no… anything. And the guy she wound up getting pregnant by wasn’t even anyone we knew! They didn’t even show his face. We just got to see the back of his head. She doesn’t even end up with Eric!

Even Nicholas Sparks was snoring.

[Image via Syfy/Showtime/NBC/YouTube.]

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40 Times People Realized Theyre Living With A Monster And Just Had To Share The Evidence

If you like things tidy, living with other people is hard. You have to maneuver through their dirty clothes, go on a scavenger hunt every time you need a clean plate, and work part-time as a garbage collector. But if you’re unlucky enough, you might move in with an individual that’s impossible to live with. No matter if you’re high-maintenance or chill as a goldfish. The Internet calls these creatures ‘monsters’. And rightfully so. Who else could keep a potato in their cupboard so long that it starts sprouting? Or leave so much hair on the wall of a shower that you could make a wig out of it? Bored Panda has compiled a list of pictures that show what it’s like to live with a monster so scroll down, check out their insane living habits, and upvote your (least) favorite ones!


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While cheesy sitcoms may have convinced you that living with roommates is the best, truth is, there’s much more to it. When you are sharing your space with someone else, everyday life is full of conflicts, compromises, and setting boundaries. There are, however, things you can do to make it easier for everyone involved.


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Clear Communication from the get-go. Even though this is one of the most important tips for any relationship, it’s vital for all roommates. You’ll be spending a lot of time with each other, and you’ll need to respect each other’s needs and preferences. Ask yourself what you know about yourself already and what you expect from the person that’s living with you. Maybe you like to blast music while you study, maybe you need some peace and quiet before you go to sleep, it doesn’t matter, just figure it out and communicate these needs and expectations as soon as possible.


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Solve problems immediately. The best way to go about it is to tackle them while they’re still small. Is your roommate borrowing your stuff without asking? Or maybe they’re constantly leaving a mess behind them? Address issues as soon as you notice them and it will be easier to talk about them in a calm and friendly manner.


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Be respectful when you’re thinking about inviting people over. Even if you’re an extroverted socialite who thrives among other people, your roommate prefers spending time alone. Bringing a group of friends to your home may be disrupting, considering it’s their home as well. Talk to your roommate again, inform them about your socialization needs and make sure you don’t overstep any boundaries.


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It’s okay if you and your roommate aren’t best friends. Try to be pleasant and friendly to your roommate, but respect each other’s personal space. There’s no need to force a close relationship, doing so might cause strain and discomfort for the both of you. Go on with your life and if you connect, you connect, and if you don’t, at least you get along.


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Maybe Youll Never Be The Same After An Abusive Relationship And Maybe Thats Okay

Trigger Warning

Hiding my favorite benzodiazepines – Xanax and Klonopin – in lipstick tubes and vitamin bottles, the false calm they’d bestow upon me and then the fog. How hard it was to stay away from single-edge razor blades and sharper things. The constant hunger. The trash always in need to be taken out, full to the brim with empty glass bottles of one thing or another. Our dog sensing the hurricane brewing in the pit of my stomach, licking my hands, my legs, my face, knowing the imminent deluge was a dangerous thing; more anxious than me, maybe. Never sleeping before 3 in the morning and always waking up before 8. My makeup scattered across the bathroom counter, my hair on the walls in the shower, my eyebrows in need of plucking, how I no longer cared to make everything perfect for him. The ends of neon colored straws dipped in white in my cosmetics bag, in the silverware drawer, at the bottom of my purse. Condoms we didn’t use hidden in his glove compartment. The way my body folded in on itself when he touched me. Cursing the building we lived in when the shower wasn’t burning enough. Wanting to throw myself into the pyre. Wondering where I had gone. Mourning who I was.

These are the things I remember most from the final year of our relationship.

They say your body knows things before you do. It’s the way that we explain away the fact that our bodies understand love before our brains do – love at first sight if you believe in that kind of thing. It’s also the way we perceive danger, a reptilian inheritance, the way our bodies warn us against would be predators.

I remember the first time my body tried to tell me something.

During our relationship, he only ever touched me as a prelude to sex, or during, never after, and never just to be affectionate. I can’t think of a time he ever grabbed my hand, kissed me for no reason, held me by the waist, caressed my arm, or ran his fingers through my hair. I was always starved for touch, always starved for love, for anything, really.

I think it was a Saturday afternoon, we had plans with friends later that day, but we were already drinking some tequila concoction my father had taught me how to make. In retrospect, I was drinking far more than anyone ever should, back then, and using alcohol as a coping mechanism to ignore my misery and keep playing my role in the life I’d subjected myself to – dutiful, loyal, faithful, pretty, devoted, forgiving, girlfriend.

The kind that woke up earlier on weekends to have his breakfast ready by the time he got out of bed. The kind that washed the stains out of his shirts without him having to ask. The kind who sat uncomfortably on the couch in a tight top and skinny jeans because he hated seeing her in sweats; hair always blown out and makeup done. The kind who tried to perfect a recipe for some dish or another until it was to his liking. The kind who wrote his business proposals, made his appointments, and refilled his prescriptions. The one who bit her tongue in half and swallowed it to avoid being cut into ribbons by his anger. The one who was never allowed to be herself. The one who took his shit and still got on her knees when he said when.

There I was, sundress and bare feet padding around the kitchen, pretending this was love, refilling his drink and pouring more liquor into mine. I walked over to hand it to him, and when he reached out with two fingers to trace along my cleavage, I flinched and jerked back, not in surprise, but in the kind of way your body reacts to something it is terrified of. In that fleeting second, my body rejected everything that was him. I realized what I had been in denial about for so long. One small graze of his fingertips did more than any years of cheating, emotional and mental abuse, gaslighting, manipulation, and putting me down ever did. I didn’t know who the man I’d given so much of myself to over the last few years was. I never had. All I knew, in that moment, all I wanted so badly to ignore, was that whoever he was, there wasn’t a single bone in his body that was good. Not only was I trying to push back the fear I felt, but I was swallowing my disgust.

When he asked what was wrong, I told him I was just jumpy from late nights and a lack of sleep and kissed him on the cheek. I had known in my very core for a long time what my mind was just then allowing itself to accept as fact. I was still trying to dismiss the truth. I was still hoping it was I who had reality skewed. I wanted to be wrong because I didn’t know if being right said more about me or more about him. I wanted to be wrong because even the revelation I had that not only was this a bad man but that I didn’t love him anymore, wasn’t going to be enough to make me leave.

I stayed for a year after seeing him for who he was and recognizing what he was doing to me. Opening your eyes isn’t enough, neither is reaching your threshold of pain. I’ve been asked why I put up with so much, why I allowed so much to happen, but abusive relationships are as hard to leave as any other. Harder, even. You always think, That would never be me. I’m out the minute this or that is done or said to me. You couldn’t possibly know what it’s like until you’re there. It’s different for everybody: it can be for financial reasons, the fear that they may do worse if you leave, because you share kids, or a million other possibilities of reasons. But the two common underlying things in any case are that you have been brainwashed into believing that you don’t deserve any better and that this is as good as it gets, and that you keep hoping the person you fell for and that they made you believe they were, in the beginning, is still inside there somewhere. I knew I hated him, I knew he got off to my pain, and I knew whatever I had blinded myself into believing was love wasn’t love, but I also knew I wasn’t going to leave. It wouldn’t be that simple for me.

I crushed up a Xanax and lined it up next a line of coke at 3 in the afternoon, cut the end of a straw, and told myself I could do this.

And so began a cycle of bad habits and a spiraling into one of the darkest eras of my life.

We headed out for a pub crawl with some friends a bit later that day. That entire evening, my whole aim was to just numb myself. I kept trying to shove my thoughts into a shoebox in the back of a closet deep in my mind. Truthfully, Ignorance is bliss had been my motto already for quite some time, but it wasn’t going to work for much longer. I remember going into the bathroom stall with his friend’s girlfriend, feeling thankful when she produced a bag of the white substance from her purse, and thinking, Maybe I won’t feel anything when he fucks me later.

He did – fuck me. I felt nothing but my mind retreating, my body folding in on itself, me somewhere outside my own flesh. I had never felt cold like that before and I never once felt warm again after. For the first time in our relationship, I appreciated the fact that he never looked at me or held me after. I felt anger, rage, disgust, hate – as much toward myself as him.

I didn’t sleep at all those late hours and that early morning. I suddenly understood the cause of my unexplainable stomach issues, why I would break out in hives often for no reason, why no medications were helping my anxiety, why I couldn’t fall asleep, why I couldn’t stay asleep, why I was constantly exhausted. For a long time, my body and I had been living in a state of hypervigilance.

On any given day, I was nervous about what mood I would find him in. Which one of his personalities was taking a sip of the coffee I had prepared for him that morning?

It was a labor to even have a conversation with him sometimes because I had to be careful in molding it and skirting around subjects that were sensitive or that we disagreed on. He was adept at making me feel intellectually inferior to him, whether I didn’t share his belief or point of view on something, or just to make himself feel bigger. He would sometimes quiz me on certain topics, eager to find something to educate me, lecture, or correct me on. Then there were times when he became angry when I expressed an opinion that differed from his. I remember him leaving me at a restaurant once and making me walk in the rain because as a feminist, according to him, I didn’t need him to pick me up from the front of the building, in fact, he said that I didn’t need a ride at all. Once, discussing politics after the bar, he threw his drink down in the kitchen and left the apartment. I, the blind fool that I was, ran after him to the parking garage, and he refused to come back home until, in his words, I would “agree to shut the fuck up.”

It wasn’t just that, I couldn’t express my feelings, either. He would go into rages, cut me apart with his anger, or punish me in some way if I ever expressed how I felt, especially when it regarded him or our relationship. He would make me believe that my feelings weren’t valid. He would make me feel like I felt how I felt because I was mentally imbalanced. He would insist that I was either thriving on the drama, or that I was insane. Somehow, when I was the one who had a right to be angry or a right to be hurt, he would come out the end of it being the offended one, and I would be the one doing the apologizing.

If he did or said something to hurt me, then I was too sensitive. If he lied to me about something and I uncovered that lie, I was the problem for not trusting him in the first place or for sabotaging his attempt at protecting me from the truth. If he cheated on me, I was to blame – I had put on weight, I had been making him feel suffocated, I had been acting “too depressed”, I pushed him to it in some way, or I had put it out into the universe by not wholeheartedly trusting him.

When his tactics were less effective and I stood more of my ground, or when I challenged him more, he would threaten me with breaking up or suggest that we should take a break. It always worked because he had this way of making me feel like I should be thanking him for being with me. He made me believe I was lucky for having him. I believed every single label he ever put on me: crazy, dumbass, fat, weak, insecure, needy, too emotional, too sensitive, irrational, psycho, idiot, bitch, ungrateful, not good enough. He said as much as he thought he was the only person in the world that could ever put up with me. I was so broken down mentally that I actually felt grateful to him for loving me. Not that I love you were words he used often. No, I only ever heard that when he wanted something, when he had been caught cheating again, or when he wanted to reel me back in.

When I made him mad, stood up for myself, wrote something about my past or something that painted him in a bad light, saw people he didn’t want me to see, spent some time away from him and enjoyed it, he would give me the silent treatment. He’d suggest I go stay at my parents’ and I wouldn’t hear from him for days. When I tried desperately to get into contact with him, he would accuse me of being unhinged and suffocating and obsessed with him.

It was one of his favorite things to do, to make me feel like I was crazy. He took things I had trusted him with and used them as ammo. He would use my struggles with mental health to back up his theories about why I was acting the way I was, or thinking the way I was, or feeling the way I was, or to make me believe I was inherently irrational. I think he actually enjoyed making me feel insane and making me doubt reality. I was afraid of being alone sometimes. Things would move around the apartment from their original place, or something I swore I put somewhere would end up being somewhere else, and I constantly would get phone calls from blocked numbers. Looking back, I am positive it was him doing both things.

He would accuse me of doing or saying things I never did, so vehemently that I doubted my own sanity. On mornings after a night of drinking, he’d accuse me of having blacked out or embarrassing him in some way, when I was sure I hadn’t done either. He made the people in our world believe that I was the problem, while he painted himself as a sweet, charming, devoted guy who could tolerate this crazy girl with emotional issues. It was a lie I believed, too.

I was lucky, I thought. Who would want someone sad and unstable and not beautiful? This was the narrative he insidiously fed me.

He constantly commented on my fluctuation in weight, pushing me to lose pounds, and even went as far as making me feel guilty when I ate certain things and telling me what I should and shouldn’t eat. I dropped weight to the point where it didn’t look good on me, so I decided to put a bit more back on, I was still at my fittest, but he wasn’t happy with it, he told me I had looked better months prior and I could drop it again.

See, he liked me better smaller – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

He wanted to have 100% of me. He wanted all of me without giving me any of him, and while making me feel like he didn’t need any of me. The truth is, he couldn’t function without that control and power he had over me, my heart, my time, my body, my mind.

I didn’t recognize his behavior and actions as abuse, not only because it’s common for the victim not to until they’ve gotten away from that situation, but because I had previously been in a relationship where the abuse was more physical, so in my mind, what he was doing to me wasn’t abuse. I didn’t even register that anything was being done to me.

An old friend and ex-lover I had been confiding in about certain aspects of my relationship bluntly asked me at one point if he had ever hit me. I said that he hadn’t, not really, no. All he had done was slam me against the wall and then punched said wall. Did that even count? I had been through worse – it was how I excused a lot of what I put up with. It was why I was blind to the fact that he was being mentally, verbally, and emotionally abusive. It was how I overlooked the times he did become physically violent. He had thrown things, he had slammed doors hard enough to rattle the walls, he had broken things, he had punched walls, he had manhandled me, he had pushed me, he had put his hands on me hard enough to leave faint marks behind, and I had seen his eyes go completely black, witnessing him physically and internally restraining himself from acting out towards me. That was violent behavior. He may have never hit me across the face, kicked me, punched me, or pulled my hair – he may have had enough control to never strike me – but the damage he did to my psyche left me as black and blue as if he had done any of those things.

Coming out of an abusive relationship you realize the biggest thing you were robbed of was not your dignity, your time, or your heart, but yourself – who you were and all the things that made you so uniquely and extraordinarily you. You lose yourself like following footprints in the sand, looking up, then down again, to find everything wiped by the tide like nothing was ever there. You may come close to some resemblance of your former self, but you never again revert to the person you were before. No amount of time, healing, or therapy, leads you back to who you were. You are irrevocably changed.

I have insecurities I never had before about who I am as a person, the way I see things, and my appearance. I was left with a rollercoaster of a battle with body image issues. I used to be this exuberant and confident girl who believed in her power and beauty, and who went after what and who she wanted. I doubt myself now, and become paralyzed by the fear that I am not good enough. I don’t see the best in people anymore, and that used to be one of my favorite things about myself. Now, I doubt the good that I do see, I become skeptical of it, I am mistrusting, I wait for the other shoe to drop. I am all too comfortable becoming physically intimate with someone, but sabotage any possibilities of emotionally connecting with anyone. I am jaded.

These are all things that I’m working on, and I know I’ll overcome them all one day, but there will always be a part of me that is tender that won’t let me forget; I’ll always have an inner voice inside me telling me to be careful. The thing that makes me saddest of all is knowing I don’t have it in me anymore to be as giving and generous as I once was. I can’t love again and give my all.

Maybe that’s okay. Maybe my all should always be given to myself and only myself. Maybe only then I can reconnect with even a few of the broken little pieces of who I used to be.


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Best graduation gifts for her: 50 gift ideas for college grads

Springtime means bright blooms, longer days, and a new class that’s getting ready to graduate. For you that means watching a woman you’re proud of accept her diploma, which also means you need to find the perfect gift for her.

Depending on her interests, your grad might have useful items on her wishlist like kitchen appliances or a new laptop, or she might want something a little more fun like a vlogging camera or some cool gadgets. Regardless, you want to make her feel special for earning her degree and this gift guide is sure to include something she’ll love.

There are plenty of ways to say “congratulations,” whether that’s through a heartfelt piece of jewelry or the latest tech products. You can go as sentimental or as utilitarian as you want — that’s the beauty of college graduation.

Check out 50 of our suggestions to shower the college grad with love on her big day:

Best graduation gifts for her: 50 gift ideas for college grads

Springtime means bright blooms, longer days, and a new class that’s getting ready to graduate. For you that means watching a woman you’re proud of accept her diploma, which also means you need to find the perfect gift for her.

Depending on her interests, your grad might have useful items on her wishlist like kitchen appliances or a new laptop, or she might want something a little more fun like a vlogging camera or some cool gadgets. Regardless, you want to make her feel special for earning her degree and this gift guide is sure to include something she’ll love.

There are plenty of ways to say “congratulations,” whether that’s through a heartfelt piece of jewelry or the latest tech products. You can go as sentimental or as utilitarian as you want — that’s the beauty of college graduation.

Check out 50 of our suggestions to shower the college grad with love on her big day:

Best graduation gifts for her: 50 gift ideas for college grads

Springtime means bright blooms, longer days, and a new class that’s getting ready to graduate. For you that means watching a woman you’re proud of accept her diploma, which also means you need to find the perfect gift for her.

Depending on her interests, your grad might have useful items on her wishlist like kitchen appliances or a new laptop, or she might want something a little more fun like a vlogging camera or some cool gadgets. Regardless, you want to make her feel special for earning her degree and this gift guide is sure to include something she’ll love.

There are plenty of ways to say “congratulations,” whether that’s through a heartfelt piece of jewelry or the latest tech products. You can go as sentimental or as utilitarian as you want — that’s the beauty of college graduation.

Check out 50 of our suggestions to shower the college grad with love on her big day:

Best graduation gifts for her: 50 gift ideas for college grads

Springtime means bright blooms, longer days, and a new class that’s getting ready to graduate. For you that means watching a woman you’re proud of accept her diploma, which also means you need to find the perfect gift for her.

Depending on her interests, your grad might have useful items on her wishlist like kitchen appliances or a new laptop, or she might want something a little more fun like a vlogging camera or some cool gadgets. Regardless, you want to make her feel special for earning her degree and this gift guide is sure to include something she’ll love.

There are plenty of ways to say “congratulations,” whether that’s through a heartfelt piece of jewelry or the latest tech products. You can go as sentimental or as utilitarian as you want — that’s the beauty of college graduation.

Check out 50 of our suggestions to shower the college grad with love on her big day:

Best graduation gifts for her: 50 gift ideas for college grads

Springtime means bright blooms, longer days, and a new class that’s getting ready to graduate. For you that means watching a woman you’re proud of accept her diploma, which also means you need to find the perfect gift for her.

Depending on her interests, your grad might have useful items on her wishlist like kitchen appliances or a new laptop, or she might want something a little more fun like a vlogging camera or some cool gadgets. Regardless, you want to make her feel special for earning her degree and this gift guide is sure to include something she’ll love.

There are plenty of ways to say “congratulations,” whether that’s through a heartfelt piece of jewelry or the latest tech products. You can go as sentimental or as utilitarian as you want — that’s the beauty of college graduation.

Check out 50 of our suggestions to shower the college grad with love on her big day:

Best graduation gifts for her: 50 gift ideas for college grads

Springtime means bright blooms, longer days, and a new class that’s getting ready to graduate. For you that means watching a woman you’re proud of accept her diploma, which also means you need to find the perfect gift for her.

Depending on her interests, your grad might have useful items on her wishlist like kitchen appliances or a new laptop, or she might want something a little more fun like a vlogging camera or some cool gadgets. Regardless, you want to make her feel special for earning her degree and this gift guide is sure to include something she’ll love.

There are plenty of ways to say “congratulations,” whether that’s through a heartfelt piece of jewelry or the latest tech products. You can go as sentimental or as utilitarian as you want — that’s the beauty of college graduation.

Check out 50 of our suggestions to shower the college grad with love on her big day:

The Trump economy is hurting most Americans. Statistics won’t fool voters | Robert Reich

If Democrats speak to the practical economic needs of Americans, theyll have a chance to win against Trump in 2020

The award for this years Biggest Backhanded Compliment to Trump goes toWhite House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who recently predicted a Trump victory in 2020 because people will vote for somebody they dont like if they think its good for them.

Trump is the least popular president to run for re-election in the history of polling but Mulvaney thinks Americans will vote for him anyway because unemployment has hit a 50-year low, wages are rising and economic growth exceeds 3%. A CNN poll released in early May shows 56% of Americans approve Trumps handling of the economy.

This is making Democrats nervous. No president since the second world war has failed to be reelected during a good economy. What Democrats have to be most worried about is the economy, says Democratic pollster Celinda Lake.

It is possible, of course, that the economy will take a dive before election day, especially in light of Trumps trade wars and the global economic slowdown. But its more likely that the recovery that began in 2009 will continue, even though Trump isnt responsible for it.

Yet theres a difference between how Americans view the overall economy and how they see their own personal economy. That difference has widened in recent years as more people get into financial trouble even as the economy soars.

Which means the official economic statistics have less relevance to what people tell each other over the kitchen table when theyre trying to pay the bills.

And its this kitchen-table economics not the official statistics that drives votes.

In a survey by The Washington Post and ABC News published on 7 May, more than 80% of Democrats and 66% of independents said the economic system in this country mainly works to benefit those in power, rather than all Americans. Nearly a third of Republicans agreed.

More Americans are employed but most jobs still pay squat. Adjusted for inflation, recent wage gains are smaller than the wage gains of 2015. Workers have lost so much bargaining power that not even the lowest unemployment rate in half a century is doing much to boost pay.

Employers continue to sack workers willy-nilly. One example: AT&T executives promised that the corporate tax cut would allow them to create more jobs. Instead, theyve laid off 23,000.

Add to this that almost 80% of American workers are living paycheck to paycheck, and you get a feel for the havoc so many families are living in.

Meanwhile, the costs of education, childcare, housing, and healthcare are skyrocketing. Trump hasnt done a thing to help. If anything, hes made everything worse.

Student loan debt is in the stratosphere. Remember the old promise that if you took a public service job your student loan would be forgiven? You can forget it. Betsy DeVoss education department has rejected 98% of forgiveness applications.

Housing is out of reach for young workers, which is why so many are living with their parents and postponing marriage. Yet Trump keeps cutting affordable housing.

Childcare is becoming impossible. The average cost of center-based care for an infant is now $1,230 a month; $800 a month if you park the tot in a family childcare home.

Health insurance is a nightmare. Last year alone, 30.4m Americans went without any coverage about 1.1m more than the year before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions National Health Interview Survey.

Thats the second year the figure has risen after years of declines after the Affordable Care Act. The reversal is largely because of Trumps efforts to kill the ACA. His administration is now asking a court to throw it out entirely.

Co-payments and deductibles are out of control. According to a recent Gallup survey, Americans borrowed $88bn to pay for healthcare last year, and one in four people decided not to see a doctor because of cost.

Trumpland has been especially hard hit. A quarter of working-age adults in Texas lack health insurance, for example. (In Massachusetts, its 4.9%.)

As if this werent enough, Trumps trade wars have hammered rural America. Farm incomes are down $12bn in the first quarter of this year, according to the Department of Agriculture. Farm bankruptcies are at near record levels.

Mulvany may be correct that people will vote for somebody they dislike if they think its good for them. But Trumps economy isnt good for most people.

If Democrats speak to the practical economic needs of Americans and offer realistic solutions, as theyve started to do, Americans wont pay attention to overall economic statistics when they vote in 2020.

Theyll heed whats in their kitchen, and Trump will be toast.

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Why is Facebook doing robotics research?

It’s a bit strange to hear that the world’s leading social network is pursuing research in robotics rather than, say, making search useful, but Facebook is a big organization with many competing priorities. And while these robots aren’t directly going to affect your Facebook experience, what the company learns from them could be impactful in surprising ways.

Though robotics is a new area of research for Facebook, its reliance on and bleeding-edge work in AI are well known. Mechanisms that could be called AI (the definition is quite hazy) govern all sorts of things, from camera effects to automated moderation of restricted content.

AI and robotics are naturally overlapping magisteria — it’s why we have an event covering both — and advances in one often do the same, or open new areas of inquiry, in the other. So really it’s no surprise that Facebook, with its strong interest in using AI for a variety of tasks in the real and social media worlds, might want to dabble in robotics to mine for insights.

What then could be the possible wider applications of the robotics projects it announced today? Let’s take a look.

Learning to walk from scratch

“Daisy,” the hexapod robot

Walking is a surprisingly complex action, or series of actions, especially when you’ve got six legs, like the robot used in this experiment. You can program in how it should move its legs to go forward, turn around, and so on, but doesn’t that feel a bit like cheating? After all, we had to learn on our own, with no instruction manual or settings to import. So the team looked into having the robot teach itself to walk.

This isn’t a new type of research — lots of roboticists and AI researchers are into it. Evolutionary algorithms (different but related) go back a long way, and we’ve already seen interesting papers like this one:

This robo-bug can improvise its walk like a real insect

By giving their robot some basic priorities like being “rewarded” for moving forward, but no real clue how to work its legs, the team let it experiment and try out different things, slowly learning and refining the model by which it moves. The goal is to reduce the amount of time it takes for the robot to go from zero to reliable locomotion from weeks to hours.

What could this be used for? Facebook is a vast wilderness of data, complex and dubiously structured. Learning to navigate a network of data is of course very different from learning to navigate an office — but the idea of a system teaching itself the basics on a short timescale given some simple rules and goals is shared.

Learning how AI systems teach themselves, and how to remove roadblocks like mistaken priorities, cheating the rules, weird data-hoarding habits and other stuff is important for agents meant to be set loose in both real and virtual worlds. Perhaps the next time there is a humanitarian crisis that Facebook needs to monitor on its platform, the AI model that helps do so will be informed by the auto-didactic efficiencies that turn up here.

Leveraging “curiosity”

Researcher Akshara Rai adjusts a robot arm in the robotics AI lab in Menlo Park (Facebook)

This work is a little less visual, but more relatable. After all, everyone feels curiosity to a certain degree, and while we understand that sometimes it kills the cat, most times it’s a drive that leads us to learn more effectively. Facebook applied the concept of curiosity to a robot arm being asked to perform various ordinary tasks.

Now, it may seem odd that they could imbue a robot arm with “curiosity,” but what’s meant by that term in this context is simply that the AI in charge of the arm — whether it’s seeing or deciding how to grip, or how fast to move — is given motivation to reduce uncertainty about that action.

That could mean lots of things — perhaps twisting the camera a little while identifying an object gives it a little bit of a better view, improving its confidence in identifying it. Maybe it looks at the target area first to double check the distance and make sure there’s no obstacle. Whatever the case, giving the AI latitude to find actions that increase confidence could eventually let it complete tasks faster, even though at the beginning it may be slowed by the “curious” acts.

What could this be used for? Facebook is big on computer vision, as we’ve seen both in its camera and image work and in devices like Portal, which (some would say creepily) follows you around the room with its “face.” Learning about the environment is critical for both these applications and for any others that require context about what they’re seeing or sensing in order to function.

The future of photography is code

Any camera operating in an app or device like those from Facebook is constantly analyzing the images it sees for usable information. When a face enters the frame, that’s the cue for a dozen new algorithms to spin up and start working. If someone holds up an object, does it have text? Does it need to be translated? Is there a QR code? What about the background, how far away is it? If the user is applying AR effects or filters, where does the face or hair stop and the trees behind begin?

If the camera, or gadget, or robot, left these tasks to be accomplished “just in time,” they will produce CPU usage spikes, visible latency in the image and all kinds of stuff the user or system engineer doesn’t want. But if it’s doing it all the time, that’s just as bad. If instead the AI agent is exerting curiosity to check these things when it senses too much uncertainty about the scene, that’s a happy medium. This is just one way it could be used, but given Facebook’s priorities it seems like an important one.

Seeing by touching

Although vision is important, it’s not the only way that we, or robots, perceive the world. Many robots are equipped with sensors for motion, sound and other modalities, but actual touch is relatively rare. Chalk it up to a lack of good tactile interfaces (though we’re getting there). Nevertheless, Facebook’s researchers wanted to look into the possibility of using tactile data as a surrogate for visual data.

If you think about it, that’s perfectly normal — people with visual impairments use touch to navigate their surroundings or acquire fine details about objects. It’s not exactly that they’re “seeing” via touch, but there’s a meaningful overlap between the concepts. So Facebook’s researchers deployed an AI model that decides what actions to take based on video, but instead of actual video data, fed it high-resolution touch data.

Turns out the algorithm doesn’t really care whether it’s looking at an image of the world as we’d see it or not — as long as the data is presented visually, for instance as a map of pressure on a tactile sensor, it can be analyzed for patterns just like a photographic image.

What could this be used for? It’s doubtful Facebook is super interested in reaching out and touching its users. But this isn’t just about touch — it’s about applying learning across modalities.

Think about how, if you were presented with two distinct objects for the first time, it would be trivial to tell them apart with your eyes closed, by touch alone. Why can you do that? Because when you see something, you don’t just understand what it looks like, you develop an internal model representing it that encompasses multiple senses and perspectives.

Similarly, an AI agent may need to transfer its learning from one domain to another — auditory data telling a grip sensor how hard to hold an object, or visual data telling the microphone how to separate voices. The real world is a complicated place and data is noisier here — but voluminous. Being able to leverage that data regardless of its type is important to reliably being able to understand and interact with reality.

So you see that while this research is interesting in its own right, and can in fact be explained on that simpler premise, it is also important to recognize the context in which it is being conducted. As the blog post describing the research concludes:

We are focused on using robotics work that will not only lead to more capable robots but will also push the limits of AI over the years and decades to come. If we want to move closer to machines that can think, plan, and reason the way people do, then we need to build AI systems that can learn for themselves in a multitude of scenarios — beyond the digital world.

As Facebook continually works on expanding its influence from its walled garden of apps and services into the rich but unstructured world of your living room, kitchen and office, its AI agents require more and more sophistication. Sure, you won’t see a “Facebook robot” any time soon… unless you count the one they already sell, or the one in your pocket right now.

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