Return to COVID-shaped school year swells the “mental load” of parents, caretakers

Around the dark cloud of this pandemic has been this big silver lining: my “mental load” got a break. To moms, the phrase “mental load” is familiar: it’s the “mental work, the organizing, list-making and planning, that you do to manage your life, and that of those dependent on you,” writes Leah Ruppaner for ABC News. She also describes the mental load as “like a phantom — felt by many, but, without the language to describe it, very difficult to discuss.” For months, I didn’t have to think about my…

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Wingspan: progressive, educational, fun and beautiful

Wingspan is one of my favorite board games, for almost more reasons than I can mention. This is a game that puts you in the role of a bird enthusiast who is trying to obtain the bird food you need to attract birds to their appropriate habitats. Wingspan helped raise money to fight the Australian wildfires. That’s actually how I learned it was available, after seeing it only on back order for months. For everyone who signed up to receive notice of Wingspan’s “early release” second expansion, called Oceania, Stonemaier Games donated $1…

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Iowa, Illinois show poorly for women, people of color

Living in Iowa or Illinois can be an economic challenge if you’re a person of color or a woman, recent studies show. Zippia declared Iowa the “second-worst state to be black,” with Illinois coming in at the 11th-worst spot. In addition, 24/7 Wall St. has five Illinois cities in its list of the 15 worst cities to live if you’re black. And Iowa’s Waterloo/Cedar Falls is considered the country’s third-worst place to live if you’re black, after topping the list for several years. In addition, Iowa is among the states…

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‘Coming out’ again: The Real MainStream brighter, better, and reinvented

Read about how The Real MainStream is reworking itself to better serve Iowa and Illinois. Whenever I run across one of my keepsake copies of the first 13 editions of The Real MainStream, published before the current worldwide pandemic, I feel awash in memories and sensations. “We’ll never give up the handshake!” joked a customer and I in early March. Mere days later, he and dozens of others in our circulation area announced they were saying “no” to not only handshakes, but all in-store traffic for a few months.  Back…

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Personality Profile: Jenni Fitzgerald is ‘selfless’ teamwork embodied

You may know Jenni Fitzgerald as the “special assistant” to legendary University of Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder, one of the familiar faces with Bluder on the coaching bench for decades. But did you know Fitzgerald was also one of Iowa’s first-ever 5-on-5 girls’ basketball stars? Or that she remains one of the state’s most heralded high school athletes? Or, that she knows as much about heartbreaking loss as she does about thrilling wins? In honor of Women’s History Month, here’s a collection of fascinating facts about a sports pioneer…

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Toomey brings relatable “in your face” comedy to Floodwater Friday night

Alyssa Limperis headlines tomorrow night’s showcase of Floodwater, which features more than 75 comedians over three days at five Iowa City venues. IOWA CITY – Kristen Toomey revels in defiance, isn’t really interested in being “agreeable,” and loves to connect directly with her audience. “I’m sort of trying to observe things, and not agree with anyone fully, which is really hard to navigate,” she says. “I want to come up with my own mixture of everything instead of just buying in to one side of anything.” Toomey brings her “in…

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Cedar Rapids Roller Girls aim to support Tanager Place’s LGBTQ Center with Feb. 28 ball

The team will donate a portion of its proceeds from its 2nd Annual Black & Blue Ball Feb. 28 to the center, which serves about 400 teens a year and aims to serve even more. CEDAR RAPIDS — Two years ago, the Cedar Rapids Roller Girls cancelled an entire season because they were so direly in need of rebuilding their team and organization. What a difference it made: today, the Roller Girls are back up to full-squad strength and have 25 regular participants. And, they’re hosting their second annual Black…

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Roller Derby Lags on Trans, Nonbinary Inclusiveness

The first-ever gender policy for the organization that helps roller derby grow worldwide came out in 2011. It was clinical, and harsh. If you were not assigned female at birth, the policy said, a healthcare provider had to verify that your “sex hormones are within the medically acceptable range for a female.” Ouch. My most recent article about my love for roller derby described the significance of the sport in terms of feminist empowerment and gender inclusivity. This time, I am writing to share that as much as roller derby…

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Escaping domestic violence when LGBTQ can be complicated

QUAD CITIES — If you’re a gay man trying to escape from domestic violence, your path out can seem almost impossible. “The police may not understand,” says Mona Ritemon, the new LGBTQ domestic violence advocate for the Quad Cities. “If a man gets beat up by his boyfriend, they may just look at him and say, ‘Man up. What’s the problem?’ “ Or what if you’re a lesbian who realizes you’re being abused by your partner? Sometimes, threats of outing you to your family, co-workers or church may lead you…

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Roller derby carves spaces for inclusive strength

Why did women and gender-fluid people start up to 2,000 roller derby leagues worldwide? We needed it.  I’m writing today about roller derby as a cultural phenomenon, a feminist and “inclusive” place to find like-minded people, showcase our strength, and be aggressive. I have had personal struggles and triumphs over body image, a lack of self-confidence, and an angry fire inside of me due to years of oppression. I have been roller skating since I was 8, but never realized that roller derby existed until I saw the movie “Whip…

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