Sometimes you do not choose the fight; the fight chooses you. This fight is about censorship and abortion. Recently, I was asked to write to script for a production, which promised to be “a celebration, education, and exploration of the female voice in Kentucky.” Upon submitting the piece, a musical parody highlighting the issues and inequalities that women have been facing from 1988 to present, I was told “the powers that be” would not allow the use of the word “abortion.” I was asked to remove it. I refused and retracted the script.
I was also slated to be the headliner at the Friday evening slam poetry event, but again was told my piece, “Three Minutes,” was too divisive. The poem focuses on the myriad of thoughts going through a woman’s mind between taking a pregnancy test and finding out the results. I was given the option to perform a less controversial piece. I refused and bowed out.
But, I could not ignore the irony of an event that promised to promote the voices of Kentucky women while silencing them from behind the scenes. I could not sit by while audiences assumed that since the topic of abortion was not broached, during the production, it was simply of no concern for women in our state. So, I decided speak out.
With recent legislation and the looming threat that ours may be the first state in the country without access to safe and legal terminations, the topic of abortion in Kentucky is being discussed nationwide. News organizations, including CNN, USA Today, the LA Times, Newsweek, and even Britain’s The Daily Telegraph, have all recently published or broadcast stories speculating the consequences. If this can be a topic of national conversation, surely it is irresponsible to not include it in a dialogue focused on women, here at home.
I am also greatly concerned about the message that is being conveyed. In deeming the word so ugly and shameful that it cannot even be spoken on stage, this organization is placing judgement on every woman who has ever made the difficult decision to have an abortion. I am one of those women. If the word is so taboo that it must be relegated to a shadowy and silent corner, then in what sort of dark and dangerous alleys will the actual procedure be forced to take place?
And, regardless of which word you are asking me to omit, censorship imposed on anyone is alarming. For an artist, it is cause for revolt. This week, we’ll be asked not to use the word abortion. Next week, we’ll be told we can’t include transgender.
Then, they take away libertarian. Next, feminist may be banned, or revolution, or Buddha…or Muhammad…or God. Before we know it, our vocabularies have been reduced to a few innocuous words with no impact, and our ability to fully express our beliefs is gone. This is the beginning of the end of freedom.
Still, writing this was one of the more difficult things I’ve done. I greatly respect many of the women involved in this project and the past work they’ve produced. I know they are under a great deal of pressure from the “powers that be” to not offend or ostracize certain members of the community. However, as an activist artist, it is not my job to change for the “powers that be”—it is my job to change the “powers that be.”
And, as a feminist, I believe that women—all women—have the right to choose. If you opt to give your child up for adoption, I respect that decision. If you know that an abortion is right for you, I respect that decision. And, if you decide to have a family of ten, I respect that decision. All these choices are worthy of discussion, which cannot happen without using certain words.
When talking about why women—strong, capable, smart women—tolerate less than acceptable behavior and do not demand basic rights, it often comes back to the deeply ingrained teaching that girls must “play nice.” We, women, often choose being attractive and accepted over being represented and respected. I, too, have been guilty, but no longer. Now, I know lasting change and true equality will only come when every one of us stands up and speaks out for what is right in every instance, every time. Every woman, every instance, every time.
I think we can all agree, this has been one hell of a year and has taken its toll on the best of us. Over these past few months, I have come close to losing my Broad status. With Broad being an acronym for Bold, Resilient, Open-minded, Audacious, and Determined, I have only consistently upheld one of these qualities—resilient. I’m still here.
But, I have not been bold or audacious—by choice. In the past, I would say or write exactly what I wanted without any regard for who it might offend or whose feelings might get wounded. As an artist, I felt it was my job to push the limits, speak the unspeakable, and cause discomfort—at the least—outrage, at the best. Now, I feel our nation is a constant state of angst and aggravation, and I haven’t wanted to add to that just for the sake of getting a laugh or raising eyebrows. I felt the need to use my words to unify...but had no idea how to do this. So, I stayed silent. Big mistake.
Also, I no longer consider myself open-minded. There are certain people’s opinions that I have absolutely no interest in hearing. If someone votes and spends their money in ways that promote rampant gun possession, the objectification of women, greed, racism, isolationism, bullying, or any sort of cruelty, then I don’t give a fuck what they have to say. Frankly, I don’t want this toxic rhetoric to fill the same air that I breathe.
Moving on…determined requires a solid, forward focus. Over the past few months, I have been all over the board with my thoughts and actions: unfocused, often overwhelmed, and sometimes downright paralyzed.
So, for me, I either had to give up being a Broad or redefine what the word means to me. I chose to reinvent myself as a Broad 2.0: Balanced-Real-Outspoken-Audacious-Deliberate. I challenge each of you to define Broad for yourself in a way that works for your life…right here, right now. I’m certain I will reinvent, revamp, and rejuvenate the word on a regular basis, but evolution is the key to survival.
Speaking of survival, I think for this group to not only survive, but thrive, we need to do some reinventing of our own. I initially saw this community as a platform, a stage for speaking out. Now, I also see it as a source. A source of support, resources, knowledge, exploration, contacts, and a wealth of other things.
In these dark days, I think we should all embrace the concept that “Living well is the best revenge.” So, I want us to use this page and our community as a place to ask for assistance, offer expertise, find first-hand information, network, and seek whatever it is you need to succeed.
Whether you just need help from the hive mind, a sounding board on which to bounce ideas, an expert to teach you a new skill, or a a shoulder to cry on, ask. On the other hand, if you have an area of expertise, life hacks, leisure time, or resources you want to share, offer.
Let’s get our revenge by becoming our best and making our wildest dreams come true, together. Let’s use this community to help each other start podcasts, run for political office, cook real food, change our own oil, forge friendships, gain body confidence, form a forum, produce a play, build a tiny house, do stand-up comedy, set-up a support group, grow a garden, invest for retirement, write books, perform burlesque, speak other languages, go to grad school. Bake vegan cupcakes, learn self-defense, lift weights, identify poisonous spiders, climb mountains, start a business…all of it.
I’ll start. What can I offer? This March, I’ll offer a self-publishing workshop. If you’ve ever wanted to publish a book, but don’t where to start, I’ll walk you through every step from formatting, editing, blurbage, cover art. and marketing.
So, let’s do this. Let’s help each other make our lives bigger…better…Broadier!
Here’s to the Good Life,
For months, I have been toiling away trying to create the perfect bourbon punch for the holidays. It has involved much trial and error, each batch demanding to be tasted again and again and again. Now, after consuming quarts…maybe even gallons…of booze in the pursuit of giving you the perfect potent potable, I have finally captured the essence of Kentucky in liquid form. Just in time for New Year's Eve, I humbly offer you my Bluegrass in a Bowl Bourbon punch.
2 64oz bottles of cranberry-pomegranate juice
4-6 cups bourbon (depending on just how festive you're feeling)
6 cans of Ale-8-one
4 ice trays
1 punch bowl
With it officially being fall, I’m already feeling a little sentimental about summer. But, I have a dilemma. In today’s Instagram-obsessed society, if you didn’t take a picture, it didn’t happen. But, when I’m really having a big time—and there were some BIG times--the last thing I want to do is stop and take a photograph. So, to capture the memories from this last summer, I decided to go old-school…like real old-school…like 30,000 BC cave art old-school. Here is the summer of 2017 in stick figures.
All in all, it was one fine summer. Now, I’m ready for one fabulous fall.
I am saddened to announce that my alter ego, Donna, seems to have developed a serious condition called Kitten Madness.
The most obvious symptom of this affliction is bombarding social media with kitten photos, but there are others that are just as annoying. For instance, speaking to it in a high-pitched baby talk as if that will make it understand English.--“You’re a little fuzzy-wuzzy-snuggie-buttpants-cutie-magoomba." And, taking hours of valuable time away from writing and drinking to find the perfect name, then changing it on a daily basis. He was Mario, Fitzy, Enzo, Tiki, Derby, Titus, Mr. Mimosa, and Sawyer before she has finally settled on Huckleberry Finn McCool the Wonder Cat, which is ridiculous,
I have nothing against having an animal sidekick, I just think we could have done better than a domestic shorthair. We need something more dangerous…a pet that makes a statement. The obvious choice was a Honey Badger After all, they're so notoriously vicious they can't even be kept in zoos and can sleep off a cobra bite like it was just one shot too many of cheap tequila, but it seemed like a cliche'.
Also in the running were the hippopotamus, wolverine, giant squid, deathstalker scorpion, and a few other awesomw animals, but I narrowed the field to three.
This flightless bird can easily eviscerate a human with their enormous talons and often attack with no provocation. If they do, don't bother trying to run. They can top speeds of 30 miles an hour. And, they're endangered, so you can't even fight back.
2) Cape Buffalo
This badass bovine is 2,000 pounds of perpetually pissed-off that can charge at 40 miles an hour. They'll take on a lion, Range Rover, killer robot, and "the man."
3) Bull Shark -
Known to be the most aggressive of all sharks, they'll make a meal of fish, dolphins, other sharks, and humans. They sometime eat things just out of curiosity. Ready to be really terrified? They can adapt to bodies of fresh water...let's say, like Herrington Lake.
After much soul-searching and deliberation, I have decided that the Cape Buffalo would make the perfect pet for me. This is my reasoning. I could bedazzle the horns with crystals making it an accessory, as well as a companion; Bourbonista and Buffalo has a nice ring to it; they love the water, so it would take right to lake life; and I could ride it home from the bars if I got drunk like my own personal living Lyft.
As far as Donna goes, I'm in the process of staging an intervention to stop the Kitten Madness. It must stop!
So, tomorrow is my birthday and for the first time in my entire life, I am not really celebrating. Not because it’s my 49th, which is just a necessary evil before getting to have a total blowout for the big 5-0. Not because it falls on a Wednesday, which is a lame day for a soiree. Not because I haven’t reclaimed the splits, which I vowed last year to demonstrate at this year’s party.
But because June 14 also happens to be the birthday of one Donald J. Trump, and I cannot fathom celebrating that sexist sociopath even by coincidence and association. And, it gets worse. Not only is the Donald ruining my birthday, he is also ruining my second favorite day of the year—National Bourbon Day, which is also June 14th. In the past, having these coincide seemed like perfect kismet. Now, it seems like a hateful trick played by cruel fate, who must be a conservative.
I refuse to share my day with Trump, but I also cannot imagine not commemorating the fact that I’ve managed to stay alive this long. So, I’ve found a solution. This year, I’m moving my birthday. Technically, I was supposed to be born on July 1, 1968 but my mother’s OB/GYN had a prescheduled vacation to Hawaii, so they induced labor two weeks early. Side note: this was also the doctor that prescribed my mother Valium to calm her nerves throughout the pregnancy and suggested washing it down with a little white zinfandel.
Also, as opposed to the aforementioned, some really fabulous people were born on July 1, including George Sand, Indiana Jones, Deborah Harry, and Princess Diana. And though, I’m a Gemini through and through, I think I can be a capable and caring Cancer for a day.
So, how will I be celebrating this new and improved birthday? In spectacular style, of course. I’m starting out the day with Goat Yoga at Sunny Acres Farm, then a champagne brunch. Then, shopping—mama needs a new pair of shoes. Late afternoon will entail bourbon, boating, and burgers. That evening, they’ll be shooting fireworks off over the lake, which I’ll pretend are being launched just for me. If you’ve never seen skyrockets exploding over and reflected on the water, you haven’t lived. At some point, I’ll slip in some sex. And cake...no pie...coconut cream pie. Successful solution found.
However, next year, I am taking my frickin’ birthday back. I’ll let him have 49, but by God, 50 is mine! Though entirely selfish, I see this as just one more reason that Trump must be impeached…and before June 2018. Amen and hallelujah.
It's been almost a month since I put out an ad for a nanny and I've not had one serious applicant. Perhaps candidates just need a little more information before committing to my care. So, I filled out this fun Facebook questionairre to help you get to know me.
1. Who are you named after? Julia Drucilla, the daughter of Caligula. Apropos, if I do say so myself.
2. Last time you cried? This morning, when I woke up and realized Donald Trump was still president.
3. Do you like your handwriting? Hard to tell. I usually only see a smudged version of it on a damp bar napkin after having “my best idea ever” while totally intoxicated.
4. What is your favorite lunch meat? Pickle loaf, duh.
5. What is your favorite color? Taint Taupe
6. Longest relationship? I’ve had a love affair with bourbon for 30 beautiful years.
7. Do you still have your tonsils? Nope, I lost them in a sword swallowing accident.
8. Would you bungee jump? Seems like a waste of gravity.
9. What is your favorite kind of cereal? Marshmallows Only Lucky Charms.
10. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Shoes are for sissies.
12. Favorite ice cream? If you thought I was a freak before, check this—I hate ice cream.
13. What is the first thing you notice about a person? Whether or not they’re wearing a badge.
14. Football or baseball? Alligator wrestling, competitive eating, and mechanical bull riding are the only sports I condone.
16. Last thing you ate? A child who wandered up to my gingerbread cottage…just joking, a multigrain waffle.
17. What are you listening to? The beat of my own drummer, and it is loud and erratic.
18. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? I’d be one of those you make by melting all the others and then mushing them back into one.
19. What is your favorite flower? My own Full-Blown Rose.
20. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone? Depends, does heavy breathing count as a conversation?
21. Married? Happily ever after, or until we drown each other in the lake.
22. Hair color? Yes.
23. Eye color? Mostly blue-green with rings of bloodshot red.
24. Favorite food to eat? Gizzards. Deep-fried gizzards drenched in hot sauce.
25. Scary movies or happy endings? As long as there’s copious amounts of popcorn and gratuitous violence, I care not.
26. Last movie you watched? The Oscar-worthy classic, “Grandma’s Boy Unrated.”
27. What color shirt are you wearing? Nude with nipples…oh wait, I’m not wearing a shirt…I’m naked.
28. Favorite holiday? National Bourbon Day, of course, which also happens to be the day of my birth, June 14.
29. Beer or wine? Only in a pinch. I like my liquor like my men--hard.
30. Night owl or morning person? Both—no rest for the wicked.
31. Favorite day of the week? The day after Friday, but before Saturday. I like to call it Fraturday, because it’s when I party like a frat house.
32. Favorite season? Season 6 of “Shameless.”
So, I guess you’ve all heard that I, The Bourbonista, am now in charge of this website. And, I’m proud to admit that I've already had complaints mounted, sensibilities offended, and nearly got my alter ego, Donna, banned from a group that literally accepts all women. Brava for me. But, I’ve got a little problem. I’ve realized that with control comes responsibility…and, I hate responsibility. Incidentally, so does Frank. So, in a nutsack, we’re going to need help. We need someone to make sure we eat a vegetable once a month. Someone to tuck us in and sing, “Blister in the Sun“ by the Violent Femmes until we fall asleep. Someone to bail us out of jail. We need a nanny.
Using the employment requirements for Mary Poppins' The Perfect Nanny as inspiration, I’ve prepared a “Help Needed” ad of my own.
Wanted: A Nanny for Two Rambunctious Adults
If you want this choice position,
Have a daring disposition.
Sense of humor, open-mind.
Mix drinks, all kind.
You must be bright, you must be breezy
Not easily startled, or made queasy.
Drive us around, make us snacks .
Fend off grizzly bear attacks.
Never be boring or cruel.
Never judge us for acting a fool.
Love us like uncles and aunts,
Never ask where we lost our pants.
If you’ll not to try to cramp our style,
We won’t give you reason not to smile,
We won’t cut your lines,
So, you can’t brake,
Put poison in your tea,
Or drown you in the lake.
Solve our woes.
Bourbonista and Frank Rose
I, Donna Ison, must bid you adieu. Not because I don’t want to blog to you anymore, but because this website is no longer my property. It now belongs to Drucilla Darkwater, known to many of you as The Bourbonista.
For years, Drucilla and I have been able to coexist in the same body with me primarily running the show. Though, there have been those times when my bourbon-fueled alter-ego reared her rowdy head and I just had to watch in horror. Like the 2014 Fish Fry and Cornhole Tournament when she threw a full-blown-toddler-temper-tantrum because there were no more hush puppies and then hid in the woods for two hours. Or Thanksgiving of 2016 when she kicked a frozen turkey through the Aldi screaming, “Fuck Thanksgiving” at the top of her lungs. Or when she was asked by an evangelical Republican if she believed in killing babies, and she answered, “I don’t know. How we killing ‘em? Shooting them out of cannons or something fun?”
But the final straw was yesterday. When on the most sacred of all days in Kentucky, Derby Day, she refused to wear a traditional hat and insisted on a ridiculous turban. Then, once at the party, she ran around drinking out of this gargantuan flask; commandeered the dance floor and clogged; announced to the crowd, “You are not my tribe;” and then came home and passed out in the dog’s bed.
Keeping her in check has gotten harder and harder. Since November, we’ve been in a battle of wits and wills on who is better suited to thrive and survive in this new world order. I want to take up meditation, she wants to take up moonshining. I want to go vegetarian, she wants to go on an expedition to find Bigfoot. I want to organize women to work together for positive change, she wants to organize an army of killer sock monkeys. I want to take up watercolors painting, she wants to take a driftwood club and beat Judge Judy with it. You get the point.
So…we’ve come to an agreement. She gets the blog. She gets her own Facebook page. She’s even starting a YouTube channel. And every now and then, I’ll even give her total control of this body and let her take it out on the town and wreak the kind of havoc that only she can. In order to keep the public safe, I’ll make sure she’s easy to spot, so you can stay out of her way. If you see her in a caftan and turban carrying a bourbon--run--run away. You’ve been warned.
Of course, she’ll disappear the next morning and leave me to nurse the hellish hangover, drag the corpses off the battlefield, and make amends to all those who were insulted and injured. But, that’s a risk I’m willing to take.
I know some of you might find it offensive and rudely timed that I have declared a self-diagnosed case of dissociative personality disorder right as Mental Health Awareness Month kicks off, and I apologize if it seems distasteful. However, this was Drucilla’s doing and she doesn’t give a damn what you think. Complain to The Bourbonista if you want, but you’d probably have better luck teaching a honey badger to “give kisses.”
If you have no regard for decorum and decency, you can continue to read this blog. You can also follow The Bourbonista on Facebook, HERE. And, soon you’ll be able to watch her on “Bedtime with the Bourbonista” But, I wouldn’t recommend it—cause bitch is crazy.
So, with deep gratitude, I say good-bye and good luck.
At first, I thought it was just an oil-stained orange rag beneath the souped-up Camaro in the parking lot of the Combs Motel in Hazard, Kentucky. Then, a voice from within urged me to look closer. I did, and realized the oil-stained rag was actually an oil-stained kitten—barely breathing, eyes matted shut, with a stripe of Valvoline from nose to tail. I didn’t know if I could keep him alive, but I had to try. I wriggled under the car, carried him out, and wrapped him in a tee shirt. While washing his eyes out with warm water in the motel bathroom, I decided to call him Oscar, after the trash-can dwelling grouch on Sesame Street.
At this point, I had no intention of adopting him. I already had three other cats and a dog. But, I would do what I could to save him. He was too weak to eat on his own. so I bottle-fed him, which essentially required taking him everywhere I went if I was going to be gone for longer than eight hours. I bought him a fluffy, red teddy bear as a substitute for litter mates. I took him to the vet. After a couple of weeks of tender, loving care, it was obvious he was going to make it…and he was not going anywhere.
It took the oil-stripe nearly a year to grow out. During that time, he developed quite the personality. It could best be described as perpetually-pissed off, earning him the title of Oscar Brown, Meanest Cat in Town. God, but how that little orange tabby cat swatted, growled, head-butted, and hissed his way into my heart. I was never able to look at his grumpy little face without smiling…until he got sick.
Two years ago, while we were residing on a boat at Royalties Marina, Oscar took seriously ill. As I do, I wrote about that horrifying day in another blog, which you can read HERE. After tons of tests, the diagnosis was Pneumocystosis, a serious form of fungal pneumonia caused by Mallard duck droppings, meaning he would need a strict regimen of lifelong meds. Once again, if I was going to be gone for longer than eight hours, Oscar had to go along, too.
Since his diagnosis, he’d had mostly good days…a few bad…a couple really, scary bad. And, we’ve known that the Fluconazole would sooner or later take a toll on his liver. I’d always asked Oscar to let me know when it was time…when he was ready to go…when there were more bad days than good. He did so, beginning last Friday, in the form of a hunger strike. He just stopped eating, absolutely refusing to taste a morsel of even his favorite food.
On Monday, I called our veterinarian.
“What else can we do?” I asked, desperate.
“I’m afraid there’s nothing else. Quite frankly, I’m surprised he’s made it this long.”
“So, we just have to let nature take its course?”
“Or we can opt for euthanasia, which would be the most humane thing to do if he’s in pain or suffering.”
“How do we know if he’s suffering?”
“Only you can decide that. You know him best. It’s up to you.”
And that is the very hardest part of being a pet parent--accepting that you must experience the pain of their death, so they don’t have to experience a painful life.
Yesterday morning, just as I did over a decade ago, I looked at a weak and barely-breathing, now twelve-year-old, kitten and had to decide whether or not I could keep him alive. This time, I knew the answer was no. As hard as it was going to be, I had to let go. For him, it was time. Our veterinarian agreed to come to our house. That afternoon, with Oscar snugged in between Frank and myself on his favorite blanlet, we said goodbye.
And now, there is a gaping Oscar-shaped hole in my heart and an empty place in our family. It is truly amazing what a huge impact a tiny, orange kitten made in all our lives. Oscar Brown, to me, you will forever be the most-missed cat in town.
Sharing All I KNOW about the fine art of voluptuating. here's to living the lush life.