Gun Rights, Updated

In Politics on June 17, 2016 at 3:08 pm



Five days ago the Orlando massacre occurred. The worst mass shooting in U.S. history (and you know every one of us is thinking, “until the next one.”) There have been over 1,200 mass shootings in the United States since Newtown (which was just in December 2012) alone. Every time this happens, I feel sick and heartbroken. I’m frightened for my loved ones. And although the vast majority of my friends and family are reasonable, intelligent people who recognize the desperate need for gun control in this country, I am still confronted with callous, heartless ignorance spewed forth by gun owners on the Internet in the aftermath of each of these tragedies.

I find this amazing. On nearly every other controversial issue, there are legitimate arguments for the other side. I believe abortion is wrong, but I can understand why people argue for it. I believe everyone is entitled to health care, but I can understand the reasons why barriers exist. In my heart, I don’t believe in capital punishment, but I certainly understand the arguments for the death penalty. But when it comes to gun control, I have never once been presented with a convincing argument for guns. Not once. In my experience, gun owners know this. Therefore, they resort to non sequiturs (“We should just do away with doctors and nurses then, since people die from medical errors”), insults (referring to Moms Demand Action as “Bloomberg’s minions”), self-determined absolutes (“Keeping guns away from the mentally ill might be OK, but further regulation and confiscation is too much.” Says who?) and death threats. Therefore, I’m reposting and updating my post from December 2012 with answers to nearly every anti-gun control argument I’ve encountered, in the effort to compile a comprehensive list to which we can all refer. When it comes to logic, proponents of gun control are clearly in the right. If you have additional arguments and rebuttals to add to this list, please send them to me.

  • Owning firearms is my right. It’s in the Constitution.

Perhaps it is, if you are an American. As a Canadian living in the United States, I can tell you that the idea that any person is entitled to own a lethal weapon seems patently absurd. I mean, you have the specified right to own a gun but not, say, health insurance or a refrigerator, things which are actually useful and much less likely to harm someone? That the government would even comment on this one object is bizarre. So why did they? Because the Founding Fathers intended to allow citizens to protect themselves from tyranny. Nothing else. If you are a gun-rights activist, do you imagine that the government today, in 2016, is coming after you? And if it is, do you actually believe that your personal store of firearms will stop them? It won’t and you know it, so your gun stash is not there to protect you from tyranny. I read somewhere that in the 1700s, it took a full 30 seconds to reload your gun after firing one shot. A mass killing using guns back then was virtually impossible. Do you think for one second that, if the Founding Fathers were alive today, they would stand for the 2nd Amendment being used for massacres — school massacres, at that? If so, you are, frankly, delusional. Because did you know that those same Founding Fathers banned guns at the University of Virginia, the school they founded, and my alma mater?

If you need further evidence, check this out. The Second Amendment clearly states that it is applicable to a militia, not to every Tom Dick and Harry. How convenient that it became twisted to say otherwise once the NRA became involved. And don’t even get me started on assault rifles. Where on earth do we find justification for every random member of the public to own one of those? Why not nuclear bombs or RPGs for everyone then?

We also know that the Founding Fathers were regular human beings who could no more know what society would be like today than we can know what the world will be like in 2350, if we haven’t destroyed ourselves by then. To stubbornly hold to everything they said without considering how they have also been wrong is what children would do, not intelligent adults. We know they got some things wrong, because THERE HAVE BEEN 27 AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION SO FAR. If the Founding Fathers had written in the right to own slaves and the 13th amendment hadn’t passed, would gun owners honestly be fighting for the right to slaves in 2016 just because the Constitution allowed it?

As it is said, “Your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose.” The fact that guns are legal increases the chance that I will be shot while buying groceries. (You can’t argue this. These mass shootings happen far more frequently in this country than in any other. The idea that the media is making this up and getting away with it is a new level of delusion and it costs people their lives.) Therefore my right to life and liberty is less important than your right to pack heat. If you are a gun-rights activist, at least be man enough to admit that.

  • Timothy McVeigh used fertilizer to kill people. I guess we should ban fertilizer, knives and cars too.

Except that fertilizer, knives, cars and anything else you can think of have other, legitimate, useful purposes. The only purpose of a gun is to maim or kill. Guns are far more effective at killing than any other weapon. Admit it, gun owners: that’s why you want them. Additionally, a gun makes it possible to kill many more people, in much less time, than anything else. How many people do you think you could kill with a candlestick before being overpowered? One? A perfect example is the tragic school attack in China just hours before the Newtown massacre. The perpetrator used a knife and had 23 victims. Guess how many died? None.

  • Guns don’t kill, people do.

I love this one. Stop letting people have guns then.

  • Banning guns won’t stop criminals from having them.

Since when is the difficulty in enforcing a law an excuse not to write the law in the first place? Last I noticed, murder is still illegal in the U.S., but it keeps happening. Why don’t we legalize murder then, since people keep committing it? As a pain management physician, I can tell you how incredibly difficult it is to keep people from misusing their medication. Yet we don’t just throw up our hands and say, “You know what? Writing these prescriptions and drug-testing you is a real pain. From now on, you take as much Percocet as you want!”

We create laws because a) they act as a deterrent for, not an eliminator of, criminal behaviour, and b) they give us recourse to punish people when they break them. The fact that marijuana use has skyrocketed in areas where marijuana is legal is proof that when something is legal, it is more common. If guns were illegal except for law enforcement officers, police would be able to confiscate any firearm they came across. Gun producers would be shut down. Any intelligent person can see that simply in terms of sheer numbers, gun prevalence would decrease. With fewer guns, you have fewer shootings. I’m not saying no shootings. I’m saying fewer shootings.

  • I grew up with guns. It’s part of my culture.

That may well be the case. But sometimes cultures need to change. Slavery was once a financially critical part of America’s culture. Open discrimination against the disabled was once a part of our culture. Cannibalism was part of some cultures. But as society evolved, we recognized that these things were wrong and that we had to work to get rid of them. The disgusted reactions of the rest of the world to America’s “gun culture” is both telling and embarrassing.

  • We need guns to protect ourselves.

This conjures up the image of the nice, law-abiding citizen confronting an intruder in their home and thankfully having their trusty gun to protect their sleeping family. Except that’s not how it usually works. Most “self-defense” gun violence is between people who know each other, where the reality of who is defending and who is offending is not at all clear. Of all self-defense handgun homicides in 1997 for example, according to the FBI Supplementary Homicide Report, only 2.3% were ruled justifiable homicides by civilians. Which means the other 97.7% turned out to be just plain homicides. (And that’s not taking into account how often guns in the home are used in suicides or accidental injuries/deaths.) A tragic case earlier this week is a perfect example. This mom spewed the usual party line on Facebook about Democrats wanting to take away her guns and her ability to defend herself. She then used those guns to murder her two daughters in cold blood. She did this on her residential street. Who thinks that if she had used a bat or a knife that she would have been successful at killing both before being stopped?

And if you truly believe that you live in such a dangerous area as to need something with which to defend yourself, why not a Taser? That would incapacitate an intruder but not kill, and therefore could not be intentionally used to kill anyone else either. (And in case anyone is actually about to argue that occasionally people do die from Taser use, I will state the obvious – that the intention of the Taser, unlike a gun, is not to kill.)

  • Banning guns won’t stop violent crime. Crazy people don’t obey laws. 

It’s exactly because crazy people don’t obey laws that we shouldn’t give them the tools to break them. If a murderous person wants to be murderous, why would we not do everything in our power to prevent them from accessing a lethal weapon when it has no other possible use? Yes, they could kill with a car, but they can also drive to and from work in a car. The only thing they can do with a firearm is injure or kill. There is a serious moral failing in being lukewarm about preventing gun sales to the insane because it might infringe on your own gun rights. You are therefore saying it is fine with you that the rest of us are at risk every day.

  • We need better mental health care, not fewer guns.

As a physician, I totally agree with those who are calling for an overhaul of this nation’s mental health system. They are absolutely right. But this is yet another foil that gun-rights activists hide behind. First of all, it’s great to pay lip service to improving mental health care, but those same Congresspeople then vote against increasing mental health funding. In addition, this contributes to the stigma that the mentally ill are violent. Most are not. In fact a mentally ill person is far more likely to be the victim of violence than the instigator. Thirdly,  the United States does not have a higher proportion of mental illness than other developed countries. So mental illness alone cannot account for the nightmare we’re currently living in. Finally,why are the vast majority of mass murderers men? If mental health was the only contributor, the number of female killers should be almost equal.

We certainly do need better mental health care. But it makes no sense to do nothing in the thirty or forty years until that happens (if ever.) And what about all the perfectly sane people who kill using guns? How do we stop them from accessing guns when we have no way of figuring out who they are?

  • Guns are a fun hobby. There’s nothing wrong with hunting.

For those of us who are meat-eaters, we don’t have a problem with hunting. In a more moderate mood, I might be willing to concede that guns, when genuinely used for humane hunting with the goal of obtaining food for consumption or sale, might have a place in modern society. But if the gun lobby is so unwilling to be moderate, then I am too. Your hobby is not more important than human beings’ lives. There’s no way to adequately police whether people are using their guns only for hunting food. I enjoy knitting, but if knitting needles were being used in multiple mass killings of innocent bystanders, then I would gladly give up my hobby if there was a chance that just one fewer person would be killed. Because I’m, you know, a compassionate human being.

  • The solution to gun violence is more guns. If the victims had been armed, this wouldn’t have happened.

If anyone is actually saying this in regards to Newtown, we are not having a discussion with intellectual equals. Do you really think we should put lethal weapons into the hands of kindergartners? And to suggest that teachers should be armed is just laughable. The NRA has shown its simultaneously sociopathic and infantile worldview on this one. What happens when the school bully, or even the class clown, pinches his gym teacher’s pistol(s)? After the Virginia Tech killings (an event that hit close to home for our family, since my father-in-law has worked there for 30 years and my brother- and sister-in-law were freshmen in lockdown on campus that day) many sick gun activists have fought for open carry on college campuses. Why do the people who put forth this argument never acknowledge that human beings are volatile? Especially on a college campus where youth and alcohol use intersect? All it takes is one disagreement, one bad day, one bad grade, one person cutting in front of you in traffic, and your self-control can be weakened. We know that kids have been killed in road rage incidents. Why is this acceptable? For some people, it might take a lot to get them to actually brandish their gun. For others, it might not take much. How the heck would we know who is who? Why should my life depend on 100% self-control from every single person around me (which we all know is impossible to achieve)?

In the case of more recent mass shootings, how on earth do we know the victims weren’t armed? Who honestly thinks that in this gun-loving country, not one single person in the Pulse club that night in Orlando had a firearm? I have no doubt that someone did! But in the dark when there’s shooting, what are you going to do? Shoot back blindly and hope that of all the people you kill, one of them is the gunman?

(Updated to add: We know that the “good guys with guns,” as if there is such a thing, complicate law and order or turn tail and run when faced with gunfire. That’s exactly what happened at the Dallas Black Lives Matter protest when police officers were killed in July 2016. It was impossible to tell who was an attacker and who wasn’t when lots of random people were carrying assault rifles. And by the way, it wasn’t an open-carry proponent who brought down the killer. It was a robot. So the presence of gun owners did not make that situation one bit better. It is so clear, as the police are saying, that more people with guns just creates more confusion and more opportunity for death. I love the quote from the gun lover in this article, though. He claims it’s really simple to tell a good guy from a bad guy, because when the police ask a good guy to put down their gun, they do, but a bad guy will start shooting. OH, SO WE SHOULD GO UP TO A GUN-WIELDING LUNATIC AND ASK HIM HIS INTENTIONS. If we end up dead, he was bad. Simple indeed! How do these people sleep at night, knowing how they’re putting us all at such risk? How intellectually stunted do you have to be to believe these insane rationalizations?)

  • Places with gun control still have shootings. 

But they have fewer of them. Howard Stern said gun control on planes didn’t stop the 9/11 attackers (I have no desire to link to this statement and give him more traffic.) People have said that France’s gun control didn’t stop the Paris attacks. Gun advocates always say such nonsense, conveniently forgetting that the ATTACKS WOULD HAVE BEEN MUCH WORSE WITH GUNS. The existence of gun control means that there are countless attacks that have never occurred. How many hijackings of American planes have occurred since 9/11? Zero. How many gun deaths are there in France? 0.06 per 100,000 people, compared to 3.2 per 100,000 in the United States (and that’s an old statistic.) We can thank gun control for both of these.

  • We need guns to protect us from Islamic terrorists. All this gun violence is because of them.

So many things wrong with this statement. First of all, gun advocates are cravenly using the ISIS connections of the San Bernardino and Orlando tragedies for their own purposes again: to obscure the real issue of gun control. Islamic terrorists are on a suicide mission. THEY DO NOT CARE IF THEY DIE. What difference would anyone else’s gun make to them?

Secondly, what about all the other mass shootings we’ve endured? Columbine, Newtown, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Oregon. None of those shooters had anything to do with ISIS. What excuse do you have there, gun lovers?

Thirdly, if you believe this, why on earth wouldn’t you want to prevent terrorists from obtaining weapons? Yet one of the reasons the Democrats filibustered this week was to force a vote on preventing terror suspects from legally buying guns – something Republicans have actually opposed.

  • In the same way banning all Muslims would hurt law-abiding Muslims, banning all guns would hurt law-abiding gun owners.

In my opinion, it’s pretty insulting to equate the “hurt” of giving up a possession to the same hurt a Muslim feels when they’re the target of a hate crime or deportation. Not being willing to give up an object in pursuit of the greater good – saving countless lives – is indefensible. To see gun control as punishing gun owners, instead of as protecting innocent lives, is a truly self-centred worldview.

  • I don’t like government regulation. 

Then why do we regulate Sudafed sales? Why are Kinder eggs illegal? Why do we all take our shoes off at the airport and limit our on-board fluids to 3 ounces? In a civilized society that values the safety of its members, regulation is imperative. What does it say about this country that guns are legal and Kinder eggs are not?

  • Requiring all guns to be registered will give Donald Trump or another future dictator an easy way to identify and disarm citizens who could oppose them.

When I first heard this argument, I was dumbfounded. Then I realized that being a gun advocate must actually be more terrifying on a day-to-day basis than being a gun opponent. I’m frightened that my loved ones or I will be the victims of gun violence in a public place. But they are frightened that, at any moment, criminals will storm their houses and kill their families, or that the government will be taking them hostage any day now. It must be truly exhausting. Here’s the thing, though: this scenario is a remote possibility. The massacre of thousands of people, some of them kindergartners, is our current reality. It is fundamentally selfish and delusional to refuse to do what we can to change our bad reality because of the fear of an unlikely possibility. In addition, it doesn’t make sense. Don’t we currently register our cars? Aren’t the deeds to our homes public record? Couldn’t the government just as easily seize those? If the American government really became a dictatorship, does anyone believe their personal weapons would outmatch the government’s?

  • We don’t know if changing gun laws will actually do anything.

And that’s a reason to not even try? But the truth is, we actually do know. There was another New Town mass shooting once, in New Town, Australia in 1996. 12 days later, gun control laws were put into place. There have been no mass shootings in Australia since. By now we have all seen the statistics: every other industrialized country in the world has strict gun laws and nowhere near the gun violence the U.S. does. This New York Times article takes a succinct look.

  • The NRA isn’t evil.

Ah, I beg to differ. I truly believe these people should be prosecuted for mass homicide. Much like the tobacco industry in the 1960s, they have brainwashed the American public into thinking that what they’re peddling is great. And why do they do it? For profits. As ill as it makes me to type this, mass shootings mean mass profits. The deaths of human beings makes money for gun manufacturers, and naturally we can expect that kickbacks go to their tireless supporter, the NRA. Any group that is against background checks, that is against closing the gun show loophole, that would try to hold a rally in Newtown, Connecticut on the anniversary of that tragedy, is evil. Many people don’t know that the NRA also fights to prevent the CDC from conducting research into gun violence, and they fight to prevent doctors from discussing gun safety with their patients. What utter hypocrites! They believe in the Second Amendment, but not the First Amendment (the right to free speech)?

What unique kind of evil is required to behave in this way? If they’re so sure that guns don’t kill, why are they afraid of research into it? Why do they want to stop physicians from preventing the deaths of their patients? Because they want to continue brainwashing Americans into thinking guns are wonderful, and because they want to continue profiting from the deaths of those same Americans. Their desire for death is the only explanation for mind-boggling bills like the one in Iowa allowing children of all ages to own guns. Because the amount of tragedy we have already isn’t enough??? We should all be outraged. Non-insane gun owners should stand up and renounce this organization. Because if they don’t, they are morally culpable too. We’ll all have to account for our actions before God one day, and supporting the NRA will have no excuse.

  • It’s hopeless to stop gun sales, because America has so many guns out there already.

First of all, nothing is hopeless. The gun lobby wants reasonable citizens to believe exactly that — that it’s hopeless — so that we’ll shut up. But it’s not true. First of all, popular culture can change. Eliminating slavery and beating Hitler probably seemed hopeless too, at the time, but they both happened. In this case, one possible solution would be a widespread government buyback program, something that has been used successfully in other countries. I have no doubt that there are many people whose supposedly undying devotion to their Constitution (despite the fact that they probably can’t tell you anything else about it) will evaporate in the face of easy cash. In addition, if law enforcement was given authority to seize weapons, that would eliminate many of them as well. There are many gun lovers who claim that people will engage in shootouts with the police rather than give up their guns. That only bolsters my concern that gun advocates must be selfish, amoral individuals who believe their possessions are more important than others’ lives.

  • I believe in guns because I’m a Christian.

It is alternately fascinating and sickening to see how American Christianity has gotten mixed up with guns. That some people could consider guns justifiable from a Christian perspective is hideous. What does it say when a “Christian” belief exists only in your country? Why is it that this “Christian” perspective is not the same for Christians of any other nationality? Do any of us honestly believe that the loving God who knit every one of us together in our mothers’ wombs is pro-gun? In addition, how on earth can you be anti-abortion but pro-2nd Amendment? You care about an unborn child but not the children we already have with us? I am anti-gun because I am pro-life. The pre-born are important, but the post-born must be at least equally so. Who could possibly think that fetuses are worth fighting for but toddlers who accidentally shoot themselves are not? I’m glad that Pope Francis has spoken out about guns and Christianity, and I pray that other church leaders will wake up and do the same.

I appreciate this Christian author’s perspective, and I want to quote him because he gets it exactly right: “Would I be willing to give up my guns in northern Wisconsin if it would save a life in downtown Chicago? Yes. If it came to it. A thousand times over.” If there is any chance that limiting guns would decrease deaths — and there is no way you can claim that it wouldn’t save at least some lives — then any human being with a shred of decency should be supporting gun control. What it comes down to is, do you love your neighbour more than you love your rights? Your possessions? Did Christ not say that loving your neighbour was second only to loving God as the most important commandment? Cheering for guns that will only injure or kill your fellow man is the very opposite of love.

The simple fact of the matter is that America’s gun culture puts all of us at risk. I am at risk, you are at risk, our precious children are at risk of being slaughtered every single day because anyone around us may have a gun and could snap. Gun activists, how long will you put your heads in the sand? Does this not matter to you? Will it only matter to you if your own child is murdered by a madman? Will it even change your mind then? Understand this — if you support guns, you are saying you are OK with the murder of others. Gun ownership is unequivocally selfish. If there is ANY chance that eliminating guns could decrease the number of homicides in this country, you should be supporting gun control. And if your reaction to every gun tragedy is not wondering how to stop this from continuing to happen, but wondering how to make sure your gun rights aren’t affected, you are, quite frankly, a bad person. There’s no other way to say it. You are a bad person and you will have to answer to God for it. This New Yorker article says it well: that people who argue against gun control have made a clear moral choice, that the comfort they derive from carrying a weapon is more important than the safety of innocent children.

I feel like I live in a society that couldn’t care less about the safety of my children or theirs, because if they did, they would act on the one thing they could control: guns. We can’t control the prevalence of hate. We can’t control the prevalence of mental illness (although we could improve our care for those people, not that that’s happening either.) We can’t control the absence of self-control. These things have existed in every society since the beginning of time. But widely available guns don’t exist in every society. They don’t exist in any other society like they do in this one, actually. And that tells me that our lives are worthless to this society’s gun advocates, my fellow citizens. It makes me sick to my stomach. Many gun supporters (eg. the NRA) benefit financially from pushing guns. But gun control proponents gain no monetary profit from limiting guns, and instead endure incredible abuse from the other side. The reason we still feel so strongly about this because we feel so strongly about our fellow humans’ lives. Isn’t that how anyone would feel … that is, if they were a decent human being?

Trunk Club Review (my Maiden Voyage) – UPDATED!

In Miscellaneous on March 14, 2016 at 3:09 pm

I swear, I have a good reason for going 2.5 years between blog posts. It’s not that this blog is dead. It’s that I’m trying not to let myself post here until I finish the project that is my other blog, as a way of spurring myself to get the darn thing done. But at 9 months since my last post there, well … it’s gonna take awhile. And in the meantime, Peanut is nearing the end of first grade, the baby whose prenatal ultrasound was in my last post is now a toddler (we shall call him Hazelnut), Tolkien and I are both finally done training and are in grown-up jobs, and life is spinning on as usual. It’s that frenetic pace of life that actually prompted me to enter the universe that is the topic of this post: the magical world of subscription boxes.

As a working mom with two small kids, clothes-shopping for myself is a chore akin to spreading tar on my driveway. In August. It’s no fun at all, dragging both of them into a fitting room and begging one to stop screaming and the other to stop sticking a head into other people’s stalls while I try to shimmy in and out of multiple pieces of clothing in under five minutes because snacktime is rapidly approaching. So at some point last year I realized that I had not purchased clothes for myself since before my last pregnancy and therefore no longer had very much that fit. And who wants to go out in public looking like a weirdo? Enter subscription boxes.

Subscription boxes are boxes of items (clothes, jewelry, workout attire, home goods, depending on the company) that are shipped to your home at your request and save you the hassle of shopping (or of searching endlessly online) while letting you know of new products or trends you might not have heard of otherwise. Every box has its own rules regarding returns and pricing, but the general concept is brilliant. Save me time and the hassle of going to brick-and-mortar stores? I’m on board.

The first box I tried was Stitch Fix. I may do a post on my Stitch Fix purchases at some point, only because I know a lot of people really like to see the items in others’ boxes so they can request them for themselves, but my goal is not to become a fashion blogger (shocking I know) so we’ll see whether I get around to it. With Stitch Fix, you fill out an online style profile, create a Pinterest board to illustrate your personal style, and pay a $20 styling fee per box. The boxes can be scheduled or can be ordered on a one-time basis whenever you want. Each box is put together by a stylist using your pins, your profile and your measurements. Each box contains 5 items and you keep as many or as few as you like. If you keep any, the styling fee is applied towards your purchase. If you keep all 5, you get 25% off the entire box. Whatever you don’t want goes into a prepaid envelope that you drop back in the mail. You give detailed feedback on the pieces you liked and didn’t like and why, with the idea being that each box should get better and better as your stylist gets to know you. I really enjoyed the convenience of Stitch Fix coming to my door and I also appreciate their excellent customer service (they’ve been known on multiple occasions to send free boxes or flowers or gift cards to clients with illnesses or recent tragedies). And you cannot beat being able to try on clothes in the comfort of your own home, at your convenience, with your own closet right there so you can see whether a new piece goes with something you already own.

I also tried Sparkle Box, a jewelry subscription service, which was easy and fun. They don’t allow returns, but their prices are much lower, so one box wasn’t the end of the world, and the pieces they sent were pretty as well as high-quality.

After a couple of Stitch Fix boxes, I started wondering whether they were really my style, however. At the same time, I realized that we have a lot of wedding and wedding-related events coming up this year, I don’t have many dresses that still fit me, and there is no way I’ll have the time to go out and buy multiple outfits. So I started looking around online, and ultimately decided to try Trunk Club. During my virtual exploration, I found looking at other people’s Trunks really helpful, so I’m sharing mine in case others want to decide whether or not to take the plunge. (Disclaimer: This is not by any means a sponsored post — none of these companies know who I am — but there are referral links in this post. That means if you click on one of the links in this post and join the service, I’ll get a credit and you’ll get a code to pass on for your own credits.)

Trunk Club is a personal styling service run by Nordstrom. Similarly to Stitch Fix, you fill out a style questionnaire online, but you then communicate directly with your stylist by phone or e-mail. They then put together a trunk of around 15 items, and send you a preview. You have a chance to nix any items you don’t like, they add in more, and then they send it to you. You have 10 days to try on the pieces at home, and you just schedule a UPS pickup at your home for everything you want to return. Plus, there’s no styling fee. The downside is that the pieces are from Nordstrom (and not the clearance rack) so they’re definitely pricey. However, if your Trunk pieces go on sale in the store, you automatically get the lower sale price when you check out.

Since there was no styling fee, I could send back everything I didn’t like, I know Nordstrom is more my style, and I know their items are decent in terms of quality, I figured it was worth a shot to see if they could do the hard work of wedding-season shopping for me. I told them I wanted bright dresses, some LBDs, and maybe some shoes, and to keep each item less than $100 (still pricey for me, but definitely low-end for this service — I’ve seen bloggers online get items costing $400 or more.) My goal was absolutely not to keep the whole trunk (that would put me out nearly $2,000!) but to painlessly find one or two dresses.

So here was my first Trunk:


This thing was a beast!


First look upon opening:


This trunk contained 15 items. During my preview, I had declined 8 items (including an Ivanka Trump dress that I otherwise liked because #boycottTrump) and my stylist Megan had added more that would be surprises. Here was my invoice:

Trunk Club invoice.jpg

And here are the items (and remember, I am no model and Tolkien is no fashion photog):

Maggy London Illusion Yoke Crepe Sheath Dress – RETURN


I was not a fan of this. I don’t really like dresses with sheer yokes to begin with; they just seem kind of old to me. Plus the length was really unflattering for a short person, and the fit wasn’t great anyway. I’ve been looking for an LBD with some eye-catching detail for several months, ever since mine unceremoniously fell apart, but … this isn’t it.

Ali & Jay Ponte Sheath Dress – RETURN


This was the second LBD possibility in this trunk. It didn’t have anything unique about it, and the fit was terrible — too clingy in the stomach and shoulder straps that were so long a linebacker could have slid under there with me. An easy no.

Ellen Tracy Belted Stretch Sheath Dress (black) – RETURN


This was the final LBD option in this trunk. It was nice, and fit well, but it’s not really what I had in mind. The belt, detailing and pockets make it more of a day or office dress, and what I’m looking for is a black event dress. So this went back.

Ellen Tracy Belted Stretch Sheath Dress (blue) – RETURN


This is the exact same dress as the one above in a different colour. Which is a little disappointing because I’d rather have more options to try on, but it was certainly a nice dress. The fit was good and I like the bright shade, but again this is more of a professional day outfit, when what I’m looking for is party dresses.

Love, Fire Love Dress – KEEP


I absolutely love this dress. The colour is vivid enough for me, the silhouette is fun instead of frumpy, and the lace detailing is beautiful. In addition, the price point was totally reasonable. The only problem is that the fit isn’t perfect. But it’s close … so I was on the fence. I eventually decided to keep it, partly so I could show my stylist that I will buy pieces that are bright and affordable.

Eliza J Sheath Dress – RETURN

IMG_0669 (2)

Red is my favourite colour, so this dress was already doing well in that department, and the fit wasn’t bad. It would be a great dress to have on hand for professional events. However,  I have enough of those at the moment, so this is going back.

Tahari Floral Jacquard Sheath Dress – KEEP

IMG_0666 (2)

This was the item in my preview I was most excited to try, and the one item that I said yes to immediately. I like the bright floral print and I like that the print circles only one part of the garment. The fit is nearly perfect; the shoulders are a little too big, but this dress wouldn’t need too much altering. I wish the background wasn’t black, but that’s a minor quibble.

Adrianna Papell Pleated Stretch Crepe Sheath Dress – RETURN


The colour and fit were both fine, but this just seemed sort of “mother-of-the-bride” to me. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, and I will totally embrace it when my time for that comes, but that time is not now.

Eliza J Floral Scuba Fit and Flare Dress – RETURN


This dress fit like a dream. For that reason alone I was super-tempted to keep it, since that’s kind of a rare occurrence for me. But navy is one of my least favourite shades, so I wasn’t excited about the colour scheme on this. Plus the floral print made it seem too similar to the Tahari dress I’m definitely keeping. I would love to see this dress again in a brighter, happy shade or print.

BaubleBar Bold Multistrand Beaded Statement Necklace – RETURN


And now we enter the accessory portion of the evening (some of these are also pictured in the photos above). I love this necklace — I like pink, and I like the striking design — but I just don’t need much jewelry right now, and I think this is a little overpriced.

Nordstrom Link Choker – RETURN


This is quite possibly the most boring piece of jewelry I have ever encountered. Literally, it’s a chain. Around my neck. And that’s it. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen infants wearing more interesting pieces than this. I couldn’t take it off fast enough.

Alexis Bittar Miss Havisham Ear Chains – RETURN

IMG_0682 (2)

OK, at these I had to laugh. They’re pretty and all, but there is no way I would spend $115 on a pair of earrings. I am not into expensive jewelry at all, and if I did need any I would ask my family overseas to buy it at more reasonable prices there. I’m sure sad, wealthy Miss Havisham would appreciate these earrings and their cost, however.

Spanx – RETURN


These also made me laugh. My stylist Megan must have thrown these in because I asked her to find dresses that were forgiving of my post-baby belly. However, I don’t need these, because I already have a Spanx collection🙂

Topshop Giselle Buckle Sandal – RETURN

Having Indian skin, I don’t love nude-coloured footwear. Since it doesn’t match my skin tone, it just looks odd. Plus these shoes felt low-quality and weren’t comfortable. Another easy no.

Sam Edelman Aisha Fringe Sandal – RETURN

This was a tough one. I love these shoes, and I do happen to need dressy black sandals. So I wavered for awhile, but ultimately they’re too expensive for the amount of use I would likely get out of them. I feel like I could find something similar for half the price and put the money I save towards a more worthy object, like the poor. Know what I mean? So bye-bye, cute shoes. Sniff!

And that was my first Trunk. Overall, I was really happy with the experience. I think my stylist did a fairly good job picking out pieces for me as a total stranger, I did end up keeping two dresses, and I got to try on things at home that I might never have come across in a store. My feeling is that I would never use Trunk Club to provide me with a whole wardrobe, because it’s difficult to justify spending at their price point when you can easily get everyday clothes for less (and probably should, when there are suffering people everywhere to whom we need to be donating.) But for a targeted need for which you would probably have to spend more money anyway, such as special-occasion outfits or suits or leather jackets, ordering a Trunk just for that purpose could save you a lot of time, energy and trips to the mall. If you’re considering trying it out, I hope this post was helpful. And if you do pull the trigger, please share your Trunks (or Fixes, or whatever you order) with me! Seeing others’ loot is half the fun. If you already have ordered one of these, what did you keep? And what other subscription boxes do you like? Tell me your finds!


In case anyone reads this entry and considers trying Trunk Club, I feel the need to state that, two months later, I have canceled my Trunk Club account. Why?

For starters, I was hearing multiple stories of people whose stylists were pressuring them to spend more. That would be bad enough, but these same people were also reporting stylists making passive-aggressive comments about their low budgets, stylists going AWOL if they felt you weren’t a worthy enough customer, and stylists who were actually suggesting that clients should try Stitch Fix if they weren’t financially ready for Trunk Club. Ugh.

Then, this e-mail was posted to a Trunk Club Facebook group by a TC client. This is an internal message about her that was accidentally cc:’d to her:

Displaying image.pngDisplaying image.pngLeaked Trunk Club e-mail

Apparently, this client had “only” purchased 4-5 items from her last 4 trunks, and the company was viewing her as a “time suck.” In addition, this e-mail seems to imply that, contrary to their public statements that there is no minimum purchase, TC actually does have an internal minimum purchase expectation, after which a paying customer can apparently be blacklisted. Obviously, this was highly off-putting to me (and scores of others.)

The final straw was when I e-mailed my own stylist, asking her about this situation. She ignored my message completely. A few days later, I closed my Trunk Club account.

I did send an e-mail to one of the co-founders, also the VP of Member Experience, letting him know why I was leaving. I received a nice message back, apologizing for what happened. But I thought it was interesting that, rather than assuring me that what they say is true and there really is no minimum purchase, he instead said that it’s up to them to “clearly set expectations with customers” and that “moving forward, you can expect to see us make changes to our publicly-stated policies that more clearly outline how the service works.” So there IS an internal expectation of a minimum purchase! I just think that’s disrespectful. A company can run itself however it pleases, but to not communicate their protocol to their customers and then snark on those customers in private (or worse, “blacklist” them) is just unacceptable. Apparently, TC is aiming for the high-end portion of the market, and treating all non-wealthy clients like peons is something they don’t mind doing in the process. But the problem with that, aside from the fact that it’s really jerky, is that in Internet retail, you actually have no idea who your customers truly are. The person who buys “only” one or two items might be a millionaire that you just turned off with your behaviour. I’m willing to bet that’s happened here, as I know of many people who also cancelled their accounts.

So in all, I can no longer recommend Trunk Club. I will say that Stitch Fix has excellent customer service (there are tons of stories online of them sending gifts to clients who have lost loved ones or are going through medical treatment, and I’ve had good experiences with them as well.) And I plan to try other subscription boxes in the future, so we’ll see how they measure up. So if anyone has any personal recommendations, share away!








Healthcare Hot Potato

In My thyroid, Peanut, Tolkien on September 24, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Oh you poor neglected blog you! I’m glad you’re not a baby human, and I’m sure Child Protective Services is too.

So how’ve you guys been? Things at Casa Much are trucking along. Update, you ask? Oh, you didn’t? Well, since I’ve already started …

On the thyroid front, when I went for my 1-year follow-up in February, my endocrinologist told me I would need to go through treatment again. For a variety of reasons (not even including the utter hassle it would be) this was concerning to us:

a) because of repeat radioactive iodine’s potential effects on fertility or implications for a future secondary malignancy

b) because of the fact that this recommendation did not follow published American Thyroid Association treatment guidelines, and

c) because of the inability to get a clear explanation from my endocrinologist about why he was recommending this. We seemed to have a tough time understanding each other in person (English was not his first language), and he totally ignored an e-mail I sent with my questions.

This latter issue was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. I know just how chaotic a physician’s day in clinical practice can be, but I have never failed to respond in some way to a patient’s e-mail or phone call. I would have absolutely understood if he didn’t have the time to write out a four-page reply and if he had instead asked me to come in to discuss it — no problem at all there. But to pretend a patient has not communicated with you is unacceptable. So that was when I decided it was time to try to find another endocrinologist. But to pinpoint someone who takes our insurance, is located within 50 miles of us, has expertise in thyroid cancer, and has an opening within the next few months is a daunting task. Eventually, however, I did find someone, a doc who actually graduated in Tolkien’s and my medical school class, although he joined towards the end of our time at school so we didn’t know each other. As well, Dr. Med School Classmate (Dr. MSC) and I have a very close mutual friend who I’ll call Dallas Cowboy (these nicknames are cracking me, if nobody else, up) who also vouched for him. Dr. MSC turned out to be awesome. Really kind and helpful, even after I tortured him with endless questions, and he felt we could do some testing first rather than going right into a repeat round of treatment (which was what Tolkien and I also thought was the best plan.)

So there I was, friends, blissfully skipping along in the care of a new, sane endocrinologist, my long search over. It just so happened that Dallas Cowboy and his wife came to Easter services with Tolkien and I later that month. When we were leaving brunch together in the same car, Dallas Cowboy’s cell phone rang. “Look,” he said, “it’s Dr. MSC!”

“Oh!” I said. “Tell him I said hi!”

And why do you think Dr. MSC was calling Dallas Cowboy? Why, to tell his good friend some exciting news, of course: that he was moving. To join another practice. Out of state.

What are the odds I’d be present to actually hear that phone call sending me back to square one? You can’t make this stuff up! Of course I didn’t blame him at all and I was happy for his opportunity, but I needed a nap just thinking about starting my search anew.

So there I was back at the aforementioned square one: needing to find a new endocrinologist. (For those of you keeping track at home, this would be Endo #4 in the course of one year.) I was out of options as far as covered providers under my insurance, so I had no choice but to go back to [prominent academic hospital.] However, I wanted to see a different physician there since I’d had a less than satisfactory experience with the one prior to Dr. MSC. But roadblock! The endocrinology department at this hospital has an unusual policy — they do not allow you to switch providers without express consent from the first one. What? I’d have to ask my original, less-than-awesome doctor for permission to switch like a meek child, explain to his face why I was uncomfortable with his care, and then abide by his final judgment over whether I could stay or go? It’s not even like we have socialized healthcare in this country — I’m paying my own money for insurance and for these appointments, and it’s clear that the payor system treats patients as as consumers. And as one of those consumers, I still have no choice?

Luckily Dr. MSC trained at said hospital and very kindly offered to intercede on my behalf. (He also told me that he’d had multiple patients switch from Less-Than-Awesome Doctor to him over the course of his time there, which may be why the hospital has this policy in place to begin with, to ensure that Less-Than-Awesome Doctor doesn’t end up with no patients at all.) One endocrinologist did agree to see me, but his office still insisted that I had to write a letter to my original guy. Which I did, simply being grateful that I didn’t actually have to have an awkward conversation with him. (Never heard back from him.)

Several months later, I finally saw Endo #4, who seems very nice. He, too, felt that a second round of treatment was not warranted without some other testing first. In fact, he felt that another round of treatment was so far out of the bounds of standard practice that I must have misunderstood Less-Than-Awesome Doctor, since LTAD has an accent. I was not thrilled by this suggestion. Although I fully admit, as stated above, that he was not easy to understand, I am the child of immigrants — I’m not exactly scared away by accents. And I know what he recommended because I asked him a million incredulous questions about it. Anyway, it’s all water under the bridge now. More important is that Endo #4 then casually mentioned, after some varied comments about the weather, that he was moving … to Rome.

People, IS IT ME???? Should I start showering? Am I singlehandedly, one by one, driving all endocrinologists out of my state? Can they sense my unhealthy obsession with L. M. Montgomery? Should I instead start carrying around a copy of, I don’t know, The Art of War or some other universally “cool” tome as a talisman against loss of healthcare providers?

All is not lost, however, for two reasons. One is that Endo #4 is just taking a temporary professorship and should be back in the States next spring. The second is that all testing and treatment for me is on hold for now anyway, because of this:

Peanut #2

Yes, I currently have a uterine buddy. We are super-excited for this new addition (especially Peanut, who wants to know when her baby is finally going to exit my stomach into her smothering care) and are praying hard for a safe delivery and healthy baby. Baby Boy (I’m currently taking suggestions for his blog nickname … anyone?) is due in early December, and I’m trying to ignore all the people who have told us that going from 1 to 2 children actually increases your work by more than 100%. We’re concentrating on less important things at the moment, such as name selection. Boys’ names are hard! Forget blog nickname suggestions, anyone have real-life name suggestions? What did you guys name your sons? We are not above theft.

So no more news on the thyroid front for awhile (I hope), for a very welcome reason. I can’t believe that, after 4 years, we are re-entering the baby phase. It’s time to stop procrastinating, get out all that baby gear, and re-learn how to use it. You know, tomorrow.