• Undeniable Recap of 2023

    It’s been an eventful, and often exhausting, year. I learned a lot about what’s important to me and what it means to be true to myself – hopefully more to come with those ideas in 2024!

    Here are my top five events from 2023:

    Top Surgery

    When my eyes fluttered open in the recovery room as my anesthesia was wearing off after top surgery, I looked down at my bandaged chest and thought “Yes!” with a smile. The next morning was even better when my surgeon’s physician assistant cut off the bandages and put me in the binder I had to wear during the initial healing. My chest was flat!

    I’ve felt nothing but happiness and joy in my new body – finally feeling like I have the body I’m supposed to have. One of my goals for 2024 is to share the full story of getting top surgery.

    Ropes Course Day

    After top surgery, I knew I wouldn’t be able to extend my arms above my head for six weeks. To enjoy the full use of my body before then, on the Friday before my surgery, I went to Flagstaff to do the Extreme Adventure Course with my friends, Nicole and Ariel. It was so fun to climb the trees and do the five levels of obstacles for about four hours.

    Taking Lucy Jane to the Beach

    Lucy loves being near the water – as long as she doesn’t have to touch it. I took her to Long Beach for a long weekend so she could experience Rosie’s Dog Beach. She had so much fun running and frolicking along the water’s edge.

    Marathon Personal Record: 4:22:59

    I sign up for races because they motivate me to work out. And they’re fun – in a masochistic kind of way. A marathon is a distance I won’t do on my own. I need the support and excitement of race day to run that far.

    And then the Boston Marathon added a non-binary division. Whereas, my goal before was merely to finish, now I want to be fast enough to qualify for this venerated race. I shaved 11 minutes off my previous personal best this year – still a ways to go before I reach my ultimate goal, but I was excited to see so much improvement.

    Seeing My Friends

    I keep a jar on my bedside table, and every time something good happens, I write it down and add it to the jar. As I reviewed my happy memories from 2023, I saw that the majority of them were times spent with friends – often doing nothing exciting, just hanging out, enjoying each other’s company.

    Even though I’m an introvert, and I need my down time, it’s becoming more obvious how much I enjoy and value staying connected to my friends. Whether it’s the friends I see every week when I volunteer at Aimee’s Farm Animal Sanctuary or the people that I see only a few times a year, you are all important to me.

    Lessons Learned (or Re-learned)

    Don’t put your face between the floor and the bed where your excited dog is likely to try to jump onto the bed through your nose

    Don’t let direct sun hit your healing tattoo that’s covered with “second skin.” It feels like you’re cooking your skin/flesh.

    Barely jogging is noticeably faster than walking.

    The “purple spray” antiseptic used to treat the animal’s minor injuries at the farm sanctuary stains your skin purple.

    Don’t ride your bike in running shorts. Always wear bike shorts. That 2mm of padding makes a big difference!

    There is only one correct way to spell “Chanukah.”

    According to my Garmin, I sleepwalk.


    Non-binary Race – Mesa Marathon

    Spending a night in a hospital (not including when I was born)

    Walking outside without a shirt after top surgery

    Washing a cow

    Finding $5 at the bottom of a pool – 13 feet down

    Bone-conducting headphones

    Walking across a state line – VA to DC

    Biking up South Mountain to Dobbins Lookout

    Food Firsts: Dole Whip (yum!), Cinnaholic cinnamon roll (yum!), starfruit (meh), oatmilk soft serve (pretty good)

    First Visits to Sites: Cabazon Dinosaurs (CA), Giant Penny (CA), Continental Divide (NM), Suffragettes statues (TN), Parthenon replica (TN), Lincoln Memorial (DC), Albert Einstein Memorial (DC), Dr. Bob’s House – birthplace of AA (OH), Location of the Boston Tea Party (MA), Edgar Allan Poe statue (MA), World’s Biggest Wooden Gavel (IL), USA’s 2nd Largest Cross (IL), and Giant Cross with creepy life-size Stations of the Cross and homophobic propaganda (TX)

    Giant cross = Open space with grass = Good place to stop on a road trip for Lucy to stretch her legs

    Lucy’s Firsts

    Trip to the beach

    Subway ride

    Doggy backpack

    Doggy pajamas

    Adulting Merit Badges Earned

    Purchased a major appliance (clothes washer)

    Went to State Capitol to testify at a House of Representatives Committee meeting

    Learned how to drive a tractor

    Replaced a knob on my clothes dryer

    In Memoriam

    Hoomans: Burt Bacharach, Richard Belzer, Jim McHugh, Edward Kavanaugh (aka Prince K), Tina Turner, Bruce Press, Alan Arkin, Tony Bennett, Sinead O’Connor, Paul Reubens, Perry Nelson, Suzanne Somers, Richard Moll, Matthew Perry, Jeanne Seivert, Jesús Ociel Baena, Sandra Day O’Connor

    Animal Friends: Ingrid, Gracie, Mochi, Poppi, Jonesy

    Thank you to everyone who made 2023 a good year for me. Looking forward to more adventures and good memories in 2024.

  • Be Happy About Paying Taxes

    Do you want cute firefighters to show up when you call 9-1-1?

    Pay your taxes.

    Do you want to zip along the interstate at 70mph instead of bumbling between towns on dirt roads?

    Pay your Taxes.

    Do you like getting cards in the mail?

    Pay Your Taxes.

    Photo by xomiele (Creative Commons)

    Did you get a COVID vaccine?

    Pay Your TaxeS.

    Do you have a loved one who is on Social Security?

    PaY Your TaxeS.

    Do you want kids to know how to read?

    PaY YouR TaxeS.

    Photo by Cea. (Creative Commons)

    Do you think we owe it to our service members to take care of the medical problems they have from protecting us?

    PaY YouR TaXeS.

    Do you have a passport?

    PaY YOuR TaXeS.

    Do you want people who make kiddie porn to rot in jail for the rest of their lives?

    PaY YOuR TAXeS.

    Photo by Damian613 (Creative Commons)

    Do you like the National Parks?


    Do you think NASA is cool?


    Do you like having free speech?


    Photo by YellowstoneNPS (Public Domain)

    (Yes, I know some of these services are paid for by sales and other taxes, but it’s still a tax. If you wish that taxes were included when you see the price of something instead of tacked on at the end or at the cash register, I’m in your boat too.)

    Be proud to pay your taxes. If you don’t want to pay taxes, I hope you’re willing to give up everything that your taxes pay for.

    Photo by NASA Goddard Photo and Video (Creative Commons)

    Was scratching a check to the government the highlight of my year? No, but I was happy to do it for two reasons:

    1. I want the state and federal government to provide most of the services that my taxes pay for, and
    2. As an entrepreneur, it means I made money.

    I have no problem paying my fair share.

    Any company or billionaire that flaunts that they don’t pay taxes should be ashamed. All that tells me is that you’re probably a selfish ass.

    If you like reading my rants, I hope you’ll subscribe to Ruth & Consequences, my fortnightly newsletter where I share exclusive content about lessons I’ve learned as an entrepreneurial lawyer, my experiences as a non-binary person, and photos of my basset hound.

  • American football is modern-day bullfighting. Athletes are killing themselves for fans’ entertainment and their teams’ profits. It’s not a secret that the majority of former NFL players have chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) – brain degeneration from repeated head trauma, such as concussions and subconcussive hits.

    I’d love to see the NFL shift from tackle football to flag football, and create a cascading effect through every level of play. Unfortunately, teams are making too much money off their players to make such a drastic change that could risk alienating their audience. From a business perspective, I understand their logic, but from a human perspective, I can’t wrap my brain around a sport where the risk of developing CTE doubles every 2.6 years that some plays contact football.

    Photo by Roy Harryman (Public Domain)

    Fewer Athletes are Playing Football

    While a top-down approach would have yielded fast results at all levels of play, what it appears we’re seeing is a bottom-up change in American football.

    Even before the COVID pandemic, there was a 48% decline in the number of people playing tackle football in the U.S. between 2006 and 2018. These numbers include players ages 6 and over, so it’s not reflective of high school athletes; however, it supports the data that parents are more concerned about preventing concussions, so they’re less likely to allow their kids to play.

    The latest survey from the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) shows that the 2021-22 school year was the first time less than 1 million high school students in the U.S. participated in 11-player high school football. It’s encouraging to see that the number of people playing this dangerous game are decreasing.

    Photo by John Martinez Pavliga (Creative Commons)

    High Schools Don’t Have Enough Players for a Football Team

    At some high schools, the number of students who want to play football had decreased so much that the school doesn’t have enough players to have a team. The total number of high schools with an 11-player football team dropped from 14,247 to 13,733. It appears some of these school shifted to offering 6-, 8-, or 9-player football instead, but others dropped teams completely.

    This past fall, there were multiple high schools that started their football season and had to cut the season short because they didn’t have enough players. Holland High School in Michigan ended its varsity football season after only 4 games. The roster was filled with sophomores when few upperclassmen went out for the team. When the coaches noticed the substantial different between their players’ size and skill development compared to their opponents, they shortened the football season due to the risk of injury.

    Likewise, Bellevue High School in Ohio cancelled the remainder of its varsity football season due to a “limited number of healthy players.” There were only 20 players on the varsity team, 2 of which had suffered concussions, and the senior captain was playing while wearing a cast.

    Alleman High School in Illinois has already cancelled its varsity football 2023 season due to low student participation. The varsity team had 30 players in fall 2022, including 10 graduating seniors. The school won’t have a varsity team in the fall due to their concern for the health and safety of the remaining players.

    Photo by Phil Roeder (Creative Commons)

    There may be additional factors that are contributing to decreased participation in high school football, such as the decrease in population of high-school-aged children, the decline in enrollment at rural high schools, budget constraints at schools, and players deciding that football isn’t worth their time if they don’t get much playing time.

    Is Football Taking Advantage of the Disadvantaged?

    Where high schoolers are more likely to continue to participate in football is in rural areas and where it’s culturally ingrained for youngsters to participate in tackle football. A study also found that black Americans and people will no more than a high school education were not as negative about tackle football compared to white people and people with a college education.

    “For less-advantaged people, football is seen as one of the only ways they can get ahead in society, which may explain why they support it for kids.”

    Reading this made me wonder if American football will turn into a sport where the educated and the wealthy won’t play, but rather take advantage of the fact that some people are willing to risk their brains and their lives in the hopes of creating a better future for themselves and their families. This prospect makes me sad, and a little sick.

    Photo by Johnny Silvercloud (Creative Commons)

    Football Participation is Down But Viewership Isn’t

    While people are not playing football as much, there doesn’t appear to be a decrease in people watching it. In the U.S. alone, 112 million people watched the Super Bowl in 2022.

    As we’re seeing a decrease in the number of people playing tackle football in high school, I wonder if these people will be less likely to want to watch it as adults. I wonder if parents limiting their kids to only playing flag football as children will lead to a demand from fans to shift the NFL to flag football as well. While I would love this change to happen instantly, I suspect this type of shift will take generations to occur.   

    Photo by Ryan Johnson (Creative Commons)

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