Yeah, I know I haven't posted here in a long while. You been reading me over at GeekMom? But I was about to tweet something that would have turned into a long tweet thread and I was like, okay, easier to do this way, in these surprise extra fifteen minutes I've got.
--I arrived at my first outreach preschool of the day to find it shut down from a water break problem. "Awww," I said, for the missing storytime, but it hit me that I feel particularly badly about water problems.
I always think of the time in high school when Angie had been having a really bad day and it hadn't even started yet-- she joined me and a few other people at my locker first thing in the morning. I was already in the middle of telling everyone how, that morning, our cousins had a problem with their well, and they'd had to come out to our house to brush teeth, shower, whatever else to get ready for school that morning. And Angie got this look of pure epiphany and said out loud, "Oh! At least I have water!"
And it became kind of a gratitude mantra. She'd keep a gratitude journal, and on the days she couldn't think of anything else to be grateful for, she'd write, "At least I have water." I do recall there were some days she just wrote "I have water" three times.
So, although I always think of it as ANGIE'S mantra, it became mine, too. And when people DON'T have water-- when you see the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, continue to be unresolved, let alone around the world in less developed countries-- it's like OUCH. How can anything be worse? When you can't even say "At least I have water"?
So that's my shout-out to the importance and wonder of clean potable water today. Have a nice day! Be glad you have water! Unless you don't, then I hope you find some soon! Maybe somebody who DOES have water can help out, eh?
Yeah, I know I haven't posted here in a long while. You been reading me over at GeekMom? But I was about to tweet something that would have turned into a long tweet thread and I was like, okay, easier to do this way, in these surprise extra fifteen minutes I've got.
As I told her about this, I remembered how some of his original supporters liked how he was a businessman-instead-of-a-politician, so he would "run the government like a business." Right, the kind of business where the Boss is IN CHARGE and everyone must do exactly what he says. That's what they wanted? I guess that IS what they wanted. And THAT made a scene pop into my head.
Shut up a minute, Star Wars prequel-haters, I'm not saying the acting and/or dialogue itself of this scene was fabulous or anything, but it DOES FIT here. You know the scene in Attack of the Clones when Anakin and Padme have been frolicking in the fields of Naboo and he starts teasing her about being a politician and she's like what is your problem with politicians, and he's like The system doesn't work, we need everyone to sit down and work out what's best for everybody and then just do it; and she's like But that's what we DO, it's just that people don't always agree on what the best thing is; and he's like well then somebody needs to MAKE everyone agree; and she's like Hold up you're crossing over into Dictatorship territory here; and he's like Well maybe that's what we need then; and then they go back to flirting as if he hadn't just admitted that he's totally someday going to be the Emperor's Right Hand Man and will totally kill hundreds of innocents to make it happen.
So I'm like oh shoot, that's totally what happened, all these people are like Hey, a Dictatorship's fine and dandy if I AGREE with the Dictator. Let's give the Chancellor unfettered power because he'll TOTALLY make everything right in the galaxy again because he'll just MAKE it that way! Yay, everybody we disagree with just being TOLD WHAT TO DO! That could NEVER backfire!
...I mean it's not like people haven't totally glommed onto the Rebel Alliance as a symbol of resistance to all this or anything.
Meanwhile, the kids and I have made it to The Last Battle in our Narnia reading. Ugh, we're back to the problematic racist Calormene portrayals, which is ironic, because the real life parallels otherwise are very pro-Rebel Alliance, I mean Resistance. Eerily so, reinforcing that we seem to be living in an apocalyptic scenario. But look: we start out with Shift the Ape creating a False Aslan, which IMHO nicely describes certain prominent folks in the Religious Right preaching the "Prosperity Gospel" and linking the professed "Christian" culture with big business and exploitation of workers and destruction of the environment and other stuff the real Aslan would DEFINITELY NOT APPROVE OF (and omg the dwarfs who are all like "NEVER AGAIN" when they find out they've been had, are all those people driven away from the very idea of Christianity by the actions of these sort of Christians). And, ugh, that Shift, the way he gaslights poor Puzzle—I keep interrupting my own reading and saying to the kids "I REALLY do NOT LIKE this guy!" —personality-wise, and the more he gains power, the more he becomes Our Esteemed President in this scenario, to the point that he becomes the ineffectual puppet of sly Ginger the Cat—that'd be Bannon—and the Calormene general, who is definitely effectively Putin, looking to take over Narnia from the inside (yes, government. Calormen may LOOK like the Middle East, but get over your xenophobia/Islamophobia and look at the ACTUAL ACTIONS). I mean, dang. The Prophet Clive Staples Lewis says we're screwed, folks.
Oh, speaking of which, the end of The Magician's Nephew inspired some interesting/creepy conversations with the kids, too: talking about dying suns, and Maddie's like, "Will the Sun really DIE? Like our great-great-great-great grandkids won't have a sun anymore?" and I'm like, "The Sun will eventually die but not for billions of years, humans will probably die off from something else long before then," which just made the kids like, "WHAT? How could all the humans die?" and I'm like whoa I sat in it now, and said, "Well, like the dinosaurs died off. It could be something like an asteroid strike covering the sky with dust so the sun can't peek through so we can't get food, or it could be—" and then I realized I was heading into frighteningly relevant territory "—the climate just changes so much that it can't support human life anymore, or—" why on earth was I saying this out loud to my sensitive children, it just poured out of my mouth "—when he said that bit about humans discovering a horrible secret like The Deplorable Word that could wipe out all life? I'm pretty sure, since he wrote this right after WWII, he was hinting at nuclear weapons—" SHOOT I'm going to have to come up with a comforting spin on this somehow— but then I noticed the kids had actually stopped paying attention to my nihilistic rambling. But seriously folks. I saw a tweet the other day that was like "Hey, remember those couple of decades we DIDN'T think we were all going to die in a nuclear war? Good times." SIGH.
Anyway, last week I was writing my latest GeekMom article, about Labels vs Symptoms (btw, Megan, someone wrote a glowing response to your comment on that), and I was thinking about Billy (H)arrison's superpowered autistic tendencies and wanted to use some of "his" actual quotes on the matter, so I went into my files and scanned over my related writings, and, let me tell you, some of the plot of my book, which had seemed ridiculous when I wrote it, suddenly looked prophetic. Reading tweets about the president's rally in Florida this weekend made me tweet this, in a series of linked tweets copied here into an easier-to-read paragraph:
"There's a scene at a political rally that is just REALLY EERIE right now. Not to mention gaslighting and attempts to control the media. I don't think it will ever be good enough to officially publish, but I almost want to share it as-is now just to say 'READ WHAT I WROTE DECADES AGO! It was about an OVER-THE-TOP evil take-over-the-world plot! OVER-THE-TOP, I say!' Do you think it would be a bad move to self-publish something I don't think is perfect or up to traditional publishing standards just because I want to share some of the scenes NOW? I mean, it's as good as or better than a lot of fan fiction that's out there. It just doesn't have a built-in audience. (The fact that it has Real Person George Harrison fanfic in its backstory is not obvious in text). But I'm not trying to sell it/get famous from it. I'm just like READ ABOUT THIS RIDICULOUS WORLD DOMINATION PLOT & TELL ME YOU DON'T SHIVER!"
Well, I had several people respond that they WOULD like to read it. I think the easiest way to do it, though, is just share the file (non-editable) right off the Dropbox it's already in.
So here, if I've done this correctly, is the link to Ian and Co, aka The Incredible Adventures of Four Teens Who Are More Than They Appear, aka The One With Billy 'Arrison In It. I'm pretty sure I have not given you permission to edit the document, but just in case, um, politely refrain from editing. And by "editing" I mean "changing the document itself" —I'm all FOR you leaving constructive criticism with the Comments feature or whatever. I'd love to hear your ideas! Keep in mind, if I ever do come back to these characters' stories, it may be ENTIRELY different. I already have a completely new beginning written which has Ian more of a marginally-more-innocent bystander in what ought to have been Billy's adventures, which is most likely how I will take it in the future (I said once that Ian is Watson to Billy's Holmes and that suddenly made the whole concept click into place better). But DANG is this Swish plot relevant NOW, which is why I'm sharing THIS edit as-is.
Now here's something I considered doing awhile ago, which is COMPLETELY OPTIONAL, mind you. But since I'm kind of self-publishing my book, above, there, and I've written other good stuff you might like, and we still need to replace our patio/retainment wall that fell down in the back last summer, if YOU would like to donate to the cause of ME WRITING STUFF, I've got here a nice PayPal.Me link: https://paypal.me/rockinlibrarian So, whatever you think my book is worth to you, go ahead and pay for it here! If not, don't! I probably wouldn't because I'm cheap (but then again I might anyway if I really love it and am not currently broke—I guess I have done such things before). Because after all it isn't quite up to standard, but it's still pretty fun and I did take decades writing it!
It's been a rough week. It's hard to say how much you, my reader, already know me, when some know me in real life but just in passing, some know me in real life quite well, some have never met me but are closer to me than all but a few of the people I have met in real life, some know me in passing on the internet, and some just stumbled here randomly hi I don't know what you're doing here but you're perfectly welcome. So I don't know if you know that I'm an utter mess, both figuratively and literally. I am NOT a together person.
But one thing I have always felt confident about? I'm a dang fine librarian. Being at work is for me is a BREAK from feeling lost and incompetent. It keeps me steady, and smart, and productive.
Until last Saturday. See, my literal mess caught up with me, and I guess it hit on my coworkers' last nerves? This is hard to explain, because I'm honestly so confused and I guess not quite so shaken as I was last Saturday, but still just...broken. Like I can't piece it together in my brain. I didn't get completely cleaned up after my program Tuesday night-- to be fair, we were pulp painting, it's quite complex, and I DID clean up MOST of it-- but, maybe it was my lackadaisical attitude toward finishing up that they didn't appreciate? Maybe, but the thing that got me lost was that this somehow earned me a week suspension. A week and a day, actually, as I didn't end up working last Saturday and here I am still off today. Now, Jason points out that I really should have been given a written warning or something instead, that the punishment far outweighs the crime and he is SO TEMPTED to march down to the library and give everyone a piece of his mind but he won't because that's totally something his mother would do and he doesn't want to do something she'd do; and there's a rational part of me that definitely agrees it's all out of proportion.
But the problem is it triggered something, shattered me further. Work was the one place I felt competent, the one thing my literal-and-figurative mess wasn't tainting. For the first time since I've been in this particular job, the thought of going back to work on Monday gives me a jolt of anxiety. I have lost that little piece of confidence. And, talk about an out-of-proportion reaction, I'm just BROKEN.
I don't want you to think I'm being melodramatic. I very nearly checked myself into the hospital that day. Because obviously I'm not good at ANYTHING anymore so there's no point trying until I can get myself FIXED. I didn't, because I figured it would be cheaper to just go home and go to bed, while telling everyone to leave me alone. That didn't work so great either, because except for Maddie, who came in and just hugged me and said "I love you" for awhile, nobody else could manage to talk to me without increasing my stress. In the middle of the night I wrote this poem-- cleaned it up and put it on Tumblr in the morning just because Tumblr seemed like the best format for it. It pretty well describes "how I'm doing," kind of perfectly, if you're asking and want to know the truth.
Well wait, copying and pasting so you don't have to click:
I’m not okaythough if you askI’ll sayI ambecause I pull myself togetherI smile, I laugh, I singI cook, I eatI hug and say I love youI go through the backpacks and take-home folders andusuallyremember to sign thingsI pay the billseventuallyI get where I need to goeventuallyBut then you notice the cracks and say
Why don’t you pick up after yourself?Why have you let yourself go?If you wouldJustTry tolose some weightexercise a little more
make the kids behave(no, MAKE them)get her hair brushedget YOUR hair brushedmake them make their bedsmake YOUR bedwatch what you’re wearingwatch what they’re wearingdo the dishes from the startorganize your time betterleave a little earliermake those phone callscommunicate betterpay attention to your surroundingsdon’t leave things lying aroundgo to bed on timetell us what you needIf you wouldJUSTput in aLITTLE EFFORT.Good to knowthat’s all I need to doJustput ina LITTLEEFFORTIf only I hadn’t used up all my Effortpretendingi’mokay
The thing is I usually AM okay because I'm holding together and getting through contently enough, it's just I can't take any MORE than that. Technically I SHOULD be capable of more, because more is required of me, and, like, maybe life should be more than just hanging together?
So at counseling on Wednesday I got some interesting news: I now, officially, on my medical records, have indeed been diagnosed with ADHD-light-on-the-H. See back in the day they just called that ADD but now no matter how nonexistent the H they call it ADHD-Inattentive Type instead. I slipped through all these years because of the complete lack of H, because I was well-behaved and smart enough to ace tests even if I couldn't stay on top of my homework and was only half paying attention in class. My brain was good at school. It's not so good at practical life. But practical life is what adulthood is about. You know I've said this before, lots of times, it's just now I've got an official label saying it's real, my brain really DOES work differently than normal. "You've been struggling with this all your life without even knowing why," my therapist said, having just read the above poem.
So, somewhat tangentally (it's my ADHD! It all becomes clear!), last week we upgraded our cable to take advantage of their Triple Play, which includes phone service, since the main reason we never had before was our home and cell phone accounts were tied together, but now we get cell through J's work, so we were like, hey, and WE NOW HAVE CALLER ID AND AN ANTI-ROBO-CALL SERVICE AND I AM NEVER GOING BACK. But, also, we now get more TV channels, including FX. I'd bought access to FX's Fargo because it was awesome before, but look! Now we have FX just in time for Fargo-showrunner Noah Hawley's new show, Legion, which is a friggin' X-Men spinoff! I love Noah Hawley's storytelling (at least if Fargo is any indication) and I love X-Men, so can it get any better? The answer is, yes, it can, because Legion is also FRIGGIN' PSYCHEDELIC.
Now I've been thinking of writing a whole post about me and psychedelia-- I've had a draft in the GeekMom Wordpress for about a month now, because I started writing it and then it turned into something else, and it might be really two posts, or it might not, but anyrate. Started when I finally got a chance to listen to the United States of America album I got for Christmas and it totally out me back in touch with a part of myself I'd been neglecting. I've been giving my psych rock collection a workout lately. Anyway, the short story about why I love psychedelia is that it reminds me of my own mind, but ever so slightly more orderly.
So the main character of Legion has been diagnosed schizophrenic, although it turns out his hallucinatons are really telepathy. So you see the show from inside his head, which is tripped out...but strangely familiar. Me and psychedelia. I've never had to deal with hallucinations (or telepathy as far as I know), but my brain is always RUNNING and tumbling and jumping from track to track and it IS a lot to keep up with, and my dreams-- my dreamworld is nuts, y'all, and I love it--Legion really reminded me of my dreams (also the soundtrack is awesome) (maybe because there's a lot of psychedelia) (also it's made the Stones' "She's a Rainbow" stuck in my head since Thursday and I don't mind a bit).
Anyway, but the point I'm really getting to is that part of the reason he struggles so much with his mental illness is he's been fighting the wrong thing-- he thinks he needs to stop the hallucinations when really he needs to learn to control the input from his psychic powers. I keep thinking of it in relation to myself, how my brain works differently, but I've been expending so much energy trying to compensate for it instead of trying to work WITH it. It's funny, I used to know I was pretty smart as a kid, but most of the time as an adult my self-talk immediately goes to "you're an idiot." Since Wednesday it's occured to me, wow, if so much of my brainpower has gone to trying to compensate for my attention issues... maybe I actually am a genius. If I wasn't constantly trying to fight my own brain, what else could I be putting that power to? If I wasn't using up all my effort on being okay?
There was more on the end here, but somehow it got erased....
By now it's probably clear to you I'm in a particularly revolutionary mood lately, and you know exactly where my ire is directed. Maybe you're sick of me retweeting stuff on the subject. You remember when I was an optimistic ray of sunshine (with chronic depression) talking about books and music and children (in some order or another), who AVOIDED "issue" tweeting and political side-taking.
I apologize if all this rallying is getting old. I don't want it to get old. I want it to stay fresh. I keep sharing it because I don't want anyone to convince you that it isn't happening.
I think it's only in the past day that I've been able to pinpoint my motivations. There seems to be reason after reason to protest the government. Keep calling your representatives? What about NOW? I'm losing track of all the dangers we need to make sure our representatives resist... which is apparently something rising dictatorships count on. I read this nice article this morning called "How to Stay Outraged Without Losing Your Mind" --she talks about supporting "progressive agendas" but I want to again make clear that THIS SHOULD NOT BE A PARTISAN ISSUE AND CONSERVATIVES NEED TO STAND UP AGAINST THE NEW ADMINISTRATIONS BLATANT IGNORANCE OF THE CONSTITUTION, TOO, but ignore that bit. Anyway, her #1 says GET AWAY FROM THE ONSLAUGHT OF NEWS FOR AWHILE which might make you go "SEE, AMY? Shut up with your retweets, you're just overwhelming us so we don't care anymore!" Again, sorry. But #2 is what I want to talk about right now, and explains why I have such a hard time shutting up: "Focus Your Energy on One or Two Issues."
So which one or two issues do I want to focus on? Which slice of humanity under fire deserves more of my support? For a moment yesterday I thought it was going to be Climate Change, because I've always been an environmentalist, and I was feeling particularly angry about the government science departments being censored. But then I remembered my sensitivity toward gaslighting, and when a fellow GeekDAD actually posted this great little piece about evaluating information sources almost simultaneously with a high school friend posting this great graphic, and when I shared the former on the library's facebook page, I realized I'm not just being suddenly political. I'm DOING MY JOB.
Unfettered access to knowledge is a core belief of our profession. https://t.co/Lhz48cmrmd— Amer. Library Assn. (@ALALibrary) January 25, 2017
So right. This will be my focus in the Rebel Alliance: Freedom of Information. This is why I will keep harping on about it. I'm not trying to change your political opinions-- well, not outright. I hope your political opinions will become more well-supported by fact. But I am making damn sure that the people will have access to actual facts and will have the skills and guidance to figure out what those actual facts are. That's why I'm standing up against the censorship of scientists and the intimidation of the media. That's why I'm standing up for freedom of expression and Net Neutrality. That's why I'm amplifying marginalized voices. BECAUSE I'M GOING TO MAKE SURE NOBODY CAN TAKE THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AWAY FROM US.
Because that's what librarians do.
But I digress. (Often). I really want, right here right now, to address current events, yet again. We are at a scary moment of history. And if you disagree, this is probably due to the stories you are telling yourself, not the truth. And if you think the people who disagree ARE fully aware of the truth, you are also telling yourself stories, not seeing the full truth. The sad, frustrating, dangerous, and frankly somewhat traumatizing thing is, forces have transpired to fog the truth up for us. Gah, I know, that's vague. But that's the point. It would be nice to be able to point directly at Putin and blame the rise of totalitarianism on the Russian propaganda machine, but that's just part of it. It's easy to point to the new administration, which is doing it blatantly:
But again, that's just part of it. If we all called these things as they are, they wouldn't have any power. But the fog isn't coming out of a single sfx machine that we can just unplug. A spun story here, an appeal to People Like Me there, a information miasma without enough librarians, and countless individual stories-we-tell-ourselves being presented as truth in echo chambers among people telling similar stories, and you end up with a GREAT SMOG pouring in from countless directions.
Re Spicer's lies, this is from someone who worked in a past administration. Important read. pic.twitter.com/XrjLJHRAGL— Anna Rascouët-Paz (@rascouet) January 22, 2017
I'm super-sensitive to this fog, which is why I said it's somewhat traumatizing. It's traumatizing for ME. I don't like my mind being messed with. It makes me angry. It makes me frustrated. It makes me really really sad. And I feel like Cassandra when I see it happening and I can't get anyone to believe me (who doesn't already see it happening themselves).
Let me show you how these things happen, using a tragedy that happened down the street from me this past fall as an example (skip the paragraph if you don't want to read a tragedy). Here is what happened, strict facts. A man who had been abusive and outright threatened to kill his pregnant wife showed back up to torment her and threaten her life again, even though she had a PFA against him. She called the police. Police showed up, too late, he's already shot and killed her and now he turns the gun out the window and shoots two officers, killing one, badly injuring the other. The police shut down the area and go on a manhunt for the rest of the morning, only to find the guy had killed himself right after. 'Kay. That's what happened.
Here is one way the story could be presented, and was: the story of the police martyrs cut down in the line of duty by a cop-killer. This angle is still in evidence in our town-- the blue-and-black ribbons are still up all over, the signs that say "We stand with you, Cbg PD!" and "We salute our fallen officers." This angle really resonates with people, which is how my little neighborhood ended up making the national news. Implicit in this coverage is a "Those darn criminals keep killing our fine police officers!" message. And it goes farther, it gets turned into "Why do you keep accusing the police of brutality, can't you see THEY'RE the victims, THEY'RE the ones that keep getting SHOT DOWN because your lies about police brutality make people hate them?!" Whoa, slow down here. The guy shot them because he was a violent maniac and they were coming to arrest him, not because he was part of some cop-killer club or anything, lying in ambush just waiting to pick one off. Officer B truly did die in the line of duty, not out of some political demonstration.
Now look at the way the story was NOT presented. I was surprised when the story made the national news because the sad fact is domestic abusers kill their partners ALL THE TIME, and you don't hear it on the national news unless one of them's famous or something really unusual and gruesome happened or, say, a cop got killed. Is this woman, and her unborn child, and all the other victims of domestic abuse, somehow less important than the police officers who were trying to save her? Is her life worth less? Why is her death not a national tragedy? Oh, sure, the police were in a way innocent bystanders, just doing their jobs, and they got shot. But isn't she equally innocent? Isn't it a tragedy that she's had to suffer at his hands and words all this time, that she tried to get help and protection and it ultimately didn't work? With all the black-and-blue ribbons all over town, in just one place do you see a memorial to her-- on the electric signpost of the drug store where she worked. Her coworkers love and miss her. But everywhere else she's forgotten.
Now imagine what would have happened to the story the world saw if I change just one detail. You see, this woman was an immigrant from Egypt. Her killer husband was an all-american white boy with freakin' american flags waving off the back of his truck (I used to gawk at it, it was something). WHAT IF their ethnicities had been reversed? What if the killer was a Middle-Eastern immigrant and his wife was *gasp* blonde? If you don't think this would change the way this story was told, you haven't been paying much attention.
We all have our own Normals, based on where we grew up, where we live now, who we were raised by, and who we were raised among. When we see just a snapshot of another Normal, it's easy to jump to conclusions. Because this, people in that Normal must be this other thing. So we get a bit repulsed by the Others and retreat deeper into our own Normals, where everyone tells the same stories about What Normal IS that you do So we automatically frame what we see in terms of what we already consider normal. The story of the tragedy in my neighborhood takes on a different meaning depending on how you feel toward police officers, what your experiences or knowledge of domestic abuse is like, or how much you know about the culture to which any of the interested parties belong. We group people and experiences into "like me" and "not like me" categories in our heads, and when evidence goes contradictory to it, we rewrite our understanding of reality to fit. Sometimes we change our opinions. But other times we hold tighter to what we used to know as true.
Y'all better make this VIRAL since any other media wont do it pic.twitter.com/A668T8CqmF— ㅤ (@turntsIut) January 21, 2017
This is true across the board, but people who are still optimistic about our new president have had it particularly bad, lately. They were so excited to get a GOP president-- "GOP! Anti-Obama and Anti-Hillary! That means he's LIKE US!"-- that they fail to see that he's actually NOT. Oh, he's not a Democrat in disguise either, all right. He's not a normal president, period. But he must be good because he says things about Making America Great Again, and that's exactly what we want to hear, so....
Don't run away from reading me here yet, my conservative friends! Don't get complacent, my liberal ones! The Left has their own pretty stories, too. The most problematic one is lumping all President Trumpsterfire's supporters together with the worst of them. They've all made a serious mistake-- yes, you KNOW I think you've made a serious mistake, people who voted for him-- but not for nefarious purposes. Yes, they may kill people by taking away their health care, yes, they may invalidate people's marriages, yes, they may condone the persecution of millions of innocents because of their heritage or genetics, but they DON'T SEE IT THAT WAY. They know different Stories, they either don't HAVE all the facts or they can't make the facts fit into their Stories so they respin them as falsehoods. A few of them--a few-- really ARE hateful, bigoted scum. But when we call the REST hateful bigoted scum, too, it just makes it harder for them to listen to the actual truths you're telling that they need to hear! I've seen too many conservative friends bristling away from the movement toward justice because of this. I found the pictures from the Womens' Marches really inspiring yesterday. Then I saw a tweet from a conservative friend in response to someone who'd said LOOK HOW BEAUTIFUL EVERYONE UNITED EVERYONE IS WELCOME! "...not the Pro-Life ones," she replied bitterly. OUCH. I know what she means. I have no doubt that Pro-Life women WOULD have been and WERE welcomed into the marches, but a lot of Pro-Choicers have a problem how they talk about the Pro-Life movement-- they, too, lump people who genuinely believe in the sanctity of life with misogynists who just want to control women's sexuality. This is a particularly frustrating issue for me, because I grew up in a very actively Pro-Life extended family-- I've done the March for Life myself!-- and I thoroughly understand my family members' actual feelings on the matter, and I truly consider myself Pro-Life, even though from a political standpoint I am technically pro-choice. I said I hadn't lost my faith in God but was pretty disillusioned with the Church? Our pastor, he's a great guy y'know, but the Sunday before the election he said something like, "Yeah, we have to make a choice, and it looks like we have to make a choice between 'Bad' and 'Worse.' I can't tell you who to vote for, but I will say when you get down to it that the most important thing is protecting the Sanctity of Life, and we have to vote to stop abortion." And I'm just SERIOUSLY HAVE YOU EVEN LOOKED AT THIS GUY, HE IS ANTI-LIFE UNLESS IT'S HIS OWN! The fact that the Pro-Life movement has become SO FOCUSED on overturning Roe vs. Wade that they can no longer see that liberal movements have actually done far far more to REALLY protect the sanctity of life (I can't find the article I read about this last summer that uses facts to support this claim, but here's another article I found while looking for it that at least expresses the idea in more detail) is just... so depressing, really. And if we'd stop being so PARTISAN about it, we could SEE this, and actually WORK TOGETHER to truly protect LIFE.
I think the most important thing we need to do is follow Haymitch's advice in Catching Fire, and remember who the real enemies are. I know we find it hard to forgive each other. I know we're angry, we're all so angry. But let's make sure we're focusing the anger in the right place. I saw someone say, "Trump didn't divide America!" -- true, we've already been divided. I've seen others say, "We need to stand together and put faith in the election process and our new administration." Or, the opposite, "We CANNOT play nice anymore. The Nazis weren't defeated because the Allies had a nice discussion and they all shook hands."
BUT. A totalitarian government just LOVES when it can pit its citizens against each other. It LOVES to be all "if you're not for us your against us." There are people TRYING to get us to hate each other, pointing at all the worst actions of the "other" side instead of the many many more right actions. WE CANNOT LET THEM DO THIS. Civil war destroys so much. A revolution, on the other hand? If we all, ALL, take a good look around and see who the enemies REALLY are? It's rough when we're still divided over the stories we're getting, but the fact is the majority of people are GOOD PEOPLE. And when we stick together instead of turning on each other, we can beat this.
I don't know if this whole quoted tweet will show up, but...
You see this is the one she was quoting:
White women need to be the meat shields of this resistance https://t.co/SFyi332Ca1— Goldeen Ogawa (@GrimbyTweets) January 22, 2017
That original tweet was a little bitter, about how privileged white women are that they don't have THEIR protests broken up by riot police (when there isn't a riot). But Goldeen takes that and says LET'S USE THIS. You see what we can do when we ALL stand together? We can't let anyone try to divide us any more. We need to speak up even when we aren't the direct victims of an injustice. We need to listen to each other and not just assume that, oh, this is only about THEM, or that, oh, I don't see a problem so obviously there isn't really a problem they're just overreacting. If we open our eyes and hearts and stand together, we can keep the real enemies from their nefarious plans. We can make right mighty, instead of pretending might makes right.
You don't think that maybe JUST MAYBE the police treat people differently when large numbers of white women are present?— Carrie (@PlainJaneFoster) January 22, 2017
And the fact this was worldwide. It's not just about us. It is about humans and the Earth.— LibraryElfReads (@LibraryElfReads) January 22, 2017
( Cut for length and pictures )
So yay! I hope you've stuck with me through this long, long post! Drop me a comment!
On the off-chance you don't follow me on social media (or do but missed it because FB's obnoxious) or on GeekMom -- which you really should because I post there more often-- I posted my Merry Christmas post there this year https://geekdad.com/2016/12/here-is-
So anyway, allow me to direct you there. Merry Christmas!
Hi. This might be a cry for help? Part of me's great. I feel capable. Christmas prep is fun and exciting. But if I didn't have Christmas, and to a lesser extent if I didn't have my library job (because I have hard-to-get-moving moments with that, too), I'd... well I don't know what I'd have. What I'm feeling is maybe best described as disillusionment? I feel like I don't believe in anything. Not in a religious sense-- in fact God is probably one of the few things I DO still believe in, but I don't exactly feel close it Him either--though religion as an institution isn't faring so well on my things-I-believe-in list, either.
But no, I mean, I've lost my faith in random stupid things, like journalism and... okay not STUPID, that's just the disillusionment talking. I just mean... aside from the US government crashing down before our eyes, and every other horror of humanity: my Sesame Street has lost sight of its original mission to serve the underserved; my daydream of running away to England has been tainted by Brexit crap, and my Imaginary Englishman Husband has even lost most of his luster; my favorite local radio station's news reports sound like The Trumpaganda Minute; my kid has developed full-on Oppositional Defiant Disorder and I'm CRAP at everything I ought to do as a parent; I'm not in love with my husband, he's just there (I LOVE him, mind you, in the sense that I love any family member, I'm just not IN love--no admiration, little affection) ; and no, I'm STILL not writing fiction, but hey, that's been not-happening forever now. It's like I have nothing to dream for. Disillusionment.
That's a weird word, because logically it sounds like a good thing: seeing through illusions to the truth! Except I'm not seeing any TRUTH, either. It's just pointlessness all over.
I literally do NOT CARE about self care. I can't bring myself to bother. My cholesterol recently took off out of nowhere, I'm falling apart, but eh, who cares. Watch the world crash down, why not just crash with it? I know what I'm SUPPOSED to do to get healthy/keep from getting more unhealthy. But I DON'T CARE.
I'm not sure what it's like to be an atheist. Surely they have SOME beliefs, not supernatural ones, but, like, VALUES. Things to stand for. Right? I'm short THAT.
I know this is bad. I need to get my meds fixed, but, a, I lost my psychiatrist and can't get an appointment with the new one until february, and b, my perpetual state of not-caring wonders what the point would be.
But the Christmas lights calm me. They remind me to light a candle to get through the dark times, because the light WILL come again.
So while some people find this time of year stressful, I'm thankful for it. It's carrying me through. I'm just not looking forward to January.
So anyhoo, that's where I am right now. Sorry for the downer. I just need to get it off my chest.
I mean, there's the usual. The stuff I've already explained, about why I was voting the way I did in the first place. I want to thank those who voted differently but acknowledge that they're not necessarily happy about it, or who even, plain, don't gloat at all, because for some of us this IS genuinely not just a matter of the-one-we-liked-lost, but the-one-who-won-gives-us-literal-panic-
But as I tried to explain to the kids, doing a very bad job because my own emotions belied every "it's going to be all right" I said, it's not like the world is suddenly going to erupt into nuclear war this afternoon.
Besides, WE are lucky. WE don't have to deal with systematic racism. OTHERS are much more directly fearing for their lives.
I began to get the sense that there was something slightly selfish about my grief. It felt so personal, like I wanted to shout "But look what you've done to ME!" at everyone who voted. What HAD they done to me? Voted for a guy who triggers my bully-anxiety, so what, it's not like my health care or marriage legality or right to freakin' live in this country is in danger. Sure I could TRY to nobly insist it was all alturistic, that I really felt so bad for EVERYONE ELSE, but no-- I mean, yes, I DO feel bad-- but no, this personal grief IS INDEED personal. What bugged me so much?
Eventually I unearthed it. It's because I always started crying harder when I read inspiring messages like this:
authors, artists, creators: you are more important now than ever. you are more important now than ever. you are more important now than ever— jennifer laughran (@literaticat) November 9, 2016
Writer and artist friends: we are now the first line in the Rebel Alliance. Do your things, you magnificent, inglorious bastards. pic.twitter.com/alBohPTxGy— Space Viking Supreme (@SWSondheimer) November 9, 2016
Don't you dare give up.— Alyssa Wong (੭ㅇㅅㅇ❀) (@crashwong) November 9, 2016
We need you, your voice, your art, your fire, more than ever.
And most notably, this:
Because THAT is one of my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE QUOTES OF ALL TIME. I was keeping a quote book when I first read Fellowship, and at that I'd jumped up and ran to grab the dang thing because I needed to write that one down. It hit me hard in the chest this morning, like J.R.R. Tolkien had taken me by the shoulders, given me a little shake, and said, "How could you have forgotten what I told you?!"
"I'm sorry, Professor. I hear you. I hear the others. I'm just having a really hard time believing you right now."
WHO NEEDS MY VOICE. I worried for ages that my voice is useless because I'm too Privileged, because I'm not from a population that's been historically silenced. Ah, but then I found it again. I found it not enough to feel that I had any FICTIONAL stories worth telling, but I at least had, not just the right, but the DUTY, to speak up for those who AREN'T as privileged as me. So I started getting political. I started getting BRAVE. I started making statement after statement and long essay after long essay.
And I voted. Because Every Vote Counts.
Yeah, but I look at the returns for my county, and although it was obvious from the signs along the road, it just felt disheartening to see that MY vote, in my county, had been outnumbered two to one.
And I thought about my essays. My impassioned pleas here and on Twitter and Facebook, and the time last week I finally absolutely BLEW UP at my husband for his continued insistence that both candidates were awful so he'd stick with the one who "wouldn't take away [his] guns." And I thought, did it even matter?
Who even reads what I write except people who already agree with me? Who even CONSIDERS what I have to say? WHOSE MINDS HAVE I CHANGED by writing these things? Nobody. Nobody cares. I have no effect. I've failed.
Writing has failed.
So I had a well-timed counseling appointment this afternoon. By that time I'd pinpointed this problem, this stupid selfish thing that was upsetting me. As I said last time, my therapist was unsurprised by my general anxiety about the thing because that was going AROUND in her office. "What can help you from getting stuck here, though?" she asked. "What are you going to do in your own life? What do you have control over?"
She was paraphrasing Gandalf. I smiled.
But my eyes teared up again. "It's just that nothing ever changes. No one listens to me. I spoke, but I didn't change anyone's mind."
"Maybe you've got the wrong goal. Maybe you're going to fail if you go into it thinking, 'This one beautiful essay will CHANGE PEOPLE'S MINDS.' That starts to sound kind of nasty, actually, wanting to CONTROL WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK, you know?" She looked hard at me. "Instead, make the goal to be strong in your own beliefs. Believe in yourself enough to put your beliefs out there. You've done that. You've made something beautiful. It may seem like a small drop, but it's something. A small drop still makes waves.
"Besides, no great social movement happened overnight. Do you think it took just one pamphlet to win women the right to vote? Did Martin Luther King go out and make one beautiful speech and suddenly win equality for all? I bet all the great leaders had days where they came home, said to their families, 'Why do I bother? No one is listening.'
"But what did all those great heroes have in common?"
I grinned sheepishly, because again J.R.R. Tolkien supplied the answer, popping immediately into my head:
Why SHOULDN'T that answer have been ready in my head? I NAMED MY SON AFTER THIS GUY BECAUSE OF THIS SPEECH.
Heroes have lots of chances to turn back, but they don't. That's all. That's what makes a hero.
I could actually feel light seeping back into the wrinkles of my brain, sitting there. I started to believe in the inspirational messages again.
"So, what are you going to do now, so you don't slip back into that stagnant water?" she asked me at the end of our session. "What action are you ready to take, to keep things moving?"
"I--" I started to laugh. "...I actually want to write about it."
The Lone Power is always trying to get me to SHUT UP, one way or another. I've said it before and I'll say it again, because over and over It feeds me excuse after excuse, why I should just give it all up, stop trying to write, stop trying to be heard. It's always something new, but it's always the same in the end: "SHUT UP, AMY, NO ONE NEEDS YOUR OPINION." And it always results in entropy taking over, which is how I KNOW it's the Lone Power's doing.* You'd think I'd be able to catch It in the act quicker now. You'd think I'd recognize it sooner. But I guess that's how It works.
I need the reminders, every so often, that the only thing that makes a hero different from everyone else is that they don't turn back.
Don't. Give. Up.
*God bless you, Diane Duane, I don't know how you so deeply infiltrated my own personal theology, but it sure is handy for expressing my dilemma.
Self-care says I should be AVOIDING triggers, particularly when they ruin me for the rest of the day like this, but at the same time they're kind of unavoidable right now, period, and if I stay offline I'll just be facing my own ruminations in isolation. And as an EnneaType 9, I'm all about avoidance. There's nothing new there. I'm all about suppressing my own anger (to the point where often even I am not aware of it), peace-ing out, and pretending everything is JUST FINE. It's a sign of growth for me to face up to things, and to express my anger instead of let it simmer.
It's delicate. I know other people are feeling as sick-- or nearly as sick-- of this election stuff as I am. I usually try to be the bearer of light on the Internet, putting beauty and humor out there to counteract all the negativity. But there are TWO definitions of being a bearer of light: counteracting darkness is only one of them. The other is ILLUMINATING, and sometimes that means shining light on things that aren't so pretty. I feel like if I stop speaking the truth I see, I'll be betraying a Holy Mission or something. It's my duty to speak. And I know I've spoken up before and what difference does it make, everyone has made up their minds and the only people who will read this are the people who already agree with me. But I have to keep saying it.
At this point what I'm trying to say to you, to everyone, right here is THIS IS NOT ABOUT POLITICS. This is not about differences in opinion regarding policies and the role of government in the lives of the people, which is what differences in politics should REALLY be about. This is about my personal feelings of horror at watching half the nation rally around a demagogue. It is about personal gut fear, and how I normally do not feel this way about political figures. Remember, I'm a registered Independent! It's not a simple matter of government size or particular policy!
Anyway, what follows is what I wrote for MYSELF as the only audience, in my journal Sunday morning. Not trying to convince anyone else of anything, just me getting it all off my chest. Some of it I've expressed before in bits. I'm sharing it here because that's all I feel I can do at this point: just put it out there, This is what I am experiencing and I feel you should know. What you do with my personal experience is up to you.
Well I mean, within reason. Don't plagiarize my personal experience and say you wrote it, that would suck of you. It's copyrighted by virtue of me writing it here, first (or in my journal first, me second), the law's on my side, dude.
Sunday, October 30, 2016
There's no CCD today so for once I'm not rushing off anywhere in the morning. I feel like I journal so infrequently now that maybe that's why my brain feels like it's about to explode. I woke up at 8 and still feel tired. I realized, this week, is part of it is current events, but not in some theoretical isn't-the-state-of-the-world-
I'm torn between WANTING to talk about it and WANTING to pay attention to the news, and just taking it easy, knowing that reading the news won't accomplish anything, all I can do is go in and VOTE for Hillary next week and pray enough other people are voting for her, too. If she wins maybe this constant state of stress will let up-- if she doesn't, I honestly don't think I can take having to be exposed daily to that man for the next 4 years. Maybe they'll impeach him sooner than that (they impeached BILL C for less), or maybe he'll bully his way into a dictatorship. Still, ANY amount of time with him continuing to dominate the news is TOO MUCH FOR MY POOR NERVES. It got to the point that yesterday I found myself wondering if the Xanax I got last year was still good. I don't know, maybe it WOULD do me good to take one! But one won't change the political situation, so I'd soon devolve into an addict, popping pills one after another in a desperate attempt to stop the world from hurting me.
It's just... insane. You know, some people find the word "insane" a slur toward the mentally ill. But it's BACKWARD, because I'm the one dealing with actual mental illness here, these anxiety flashbacks, but I'm not the dangerously irrational one. This anxiety is not, in and of itself, irrational, it's an actual warning, my experience and understanding throwing up flashing red lights and sirens: "THIS GUY IS BAD NEWS: DON'T LET HIM BE IN CHARGE." The only thing that makes it irrational is that the warning outweighs my ability to DO anything about it. All I can do, besides casting my own vote, is speak up, but WHO'S LISTENING besides the people who already agree with me? I'm Cassandra, over and over.
Sammy had the bad timing to yell "Vote Hillary Clinton!" while [J's extremely paranoid Survivalist friend--not exaggerating, anyone who knows him knows exactly who I'm referring to-- which would be pretty much Megan, Megan's the only one likely to read this who would know, but she'll also tell you I am definitely not exaggerating], king of the Libertarian Survivalists, was visiting with Jason last night, so the two of them gaped at each other in shock and finally piped up "Why would you SAY such a thing?!" and Sammy goes "Because Donald Trump's a BAD man," naturally-- see? KIDS know. And Jason,* sounding strangely panicky, burst out "WHERE'S YOUR PROOF?!" at his 9yo son, sheez, I mean MY GOD ARE YOU SERIOUS-- first of all, this is another bullying tactic, throw off someone from expressing their opinion by demanding proof in a way that suggests no proof exists (or at least can be used-- there's also the "your word against mine" version of this technique). Second and MOST important, THE PROOF IS ALL OVER THE PLACE, BLATANTLY OUT IN THE OPEN, as opposed to scraps of incidents taken out of context and blown out of proportion by political enemies or conspiracy theorists, which is all Hillary-haters base their hatred on. Whereas the far greater faults That Monster has are flaunted out in the open. His supporters praise it as a sign of transparency-- because apparently when it's OBVIOUS someone is a pathological liar that makes him more trustworthy than someone who's just accused of being a liar without the facts backing it up? Well, the conspiracy theorists haven't dug anything up on him! BECAUSE THEY DON'T NEED TO DIG!
This is why KIDS don't like him! Why do KIDS so consistently profess their dislike of him? BECAUSE IT'S OBVIOUS if you're not mired in political maneuvering and bias. He is simply a BAD MAN, and kids can spot the emperor's lack of clothes, just like the story said. I'm not saying kids will ALWAYS be right about politics, just that they can tell when the emperor has no clothes. Like a dog who's normally docile suddenly growling at certain strangers who turn out to be bad. It's gut instinct. THIS IS A BAD MAN.
[Name of daycare retracted], the daycare I went to on Friday, has THAT MAN signs up-- one along the edge of the road I thought could be just, you know, anybody, not the daycare itself trying to make a statement, but then I saw they had TWO HUGE SIGNS, one on each side of the daycare's actual sign, EACH EVEN PARTIALLY COVERING UP THE SIGN FOR THE DAYCARE ITSELF. Hol-Lee-Heck. Well, it's a very effective Halloween decoration, scares the crap out of me. How desperate ARE the directors of this daycare? I mean, I'd find even Hillary signs displayed that way inappropriate for a large non-affiliated-with-any-other-group-
So, that. I've said my bit. Mic drop.
Here's to all of us surviving the next week and whatever comes after.
Now let's see if I can actually accomplish anything practical with the time I have left today.
*Note: back during the Primaries, J thought That Man was a horrible joke, too-- but now that he's, GASP, the only one who can save us from CROOKED HILLARY, suddenly it doesn't matter! Yippie! He's outnumbered 3 to 1 in this household and he's highly aware of it-- Sammy's outburst the other day wasn't the only time it's come up-- but...! At least none of us here are trying to put up any yard signs, boy, that would be a fun household war, wouldn't it? Though in all seriousness, maybe I should try to explain my anxiety reaction to him, maybe then he'd get it. But he's SOOOO touchy about it, he's pretty much shut himself off from listening.
For the record, I get that HRC represents everything the poor folks of rural pennsylvania (and elsewhere) hate, but the charges laid against her over the years have been outrageously, excuse the term, trumped up. She's not a bad person, although she might have policies you disagree with. I don't agree with everything she says. But she is FOR SURE competent and I have faith in her to do the best job she can do. I'm not JUST voting against the other guy. I genuinely think, though admittedly not perfect, she'll be good for the job. Her biggest hurdle in doing a good job will be the same as Obama's has been-- political enemies trying to block everything they do. WHICH IS JUST RIDICULOUS, CONGRESS, GET OVER IT ALREADY. Anyway, but that's discussing politics calmly on the subject of actual issues and abilities, something we can politely disagree over, as opposed to DEAR GOD KEEP THAT MAN AWAY FROM THE NUCLEAR CODES.
"Not really," I said, "I just ruminate about these things. I don't DO anything about it." I mean, it's all well and good tracing your self-denial and hesitancy to WANT anything back to a simple and understandable Ice Cream Incident at the age of six, but what can you do, go back to 1984 so you can tell that six-year-old "It's OKAY to be disappointed, you're NOT selfish, maybe we can try again to get ice cream later"? Being able to see clearly what had happened and knowing objectively that that six year old did nothing wrong and should not have been so harshly punished by her own inner demons, can't magically erase the layers of loathing and mental mechanizations those demons put in place to keep punishing that inner six-year-old whenever her 38-year-old self tries to even HAVE her own wants and needs.
They keep whispering, "Stop whining! You've got it good! You have nothing to complain about, you live a life of privilege!" Little white girl, comfortable middle class home, two loving parents, good at school (not counting homework*). You lived a sheltered childhood. Oh, sure, try to pipe up something about how lonely you were, start to mention "bullying," but we all know bullies have done much worse to OTHER people. Bullying is supposed to involve physical assault! Nobody ever hurt you. Never mind that when you actually look back and describe various situations you think, "Holy heck, girl, no wonder you have social anxiety." Didn't hurt you.
The irony is, the inner demons are doubling down on all the bullying that did, in fact, happen on the outside. They are being bullies, bullies you can't escape from because they keep following you around inside your own freaking head. That's why you still have anxiety dreams involving school cafeterias, where everyone is laughing at you, and everything you say and do just makes the laughing worse, and you literally blow up and start SMITING people and, well, they STILL point out that you're obviously a freak because normal people don't SMITE people and you're all worked up over nothing.
Note: I'm going to get into the current political situation again here, so, you know. But I'm still not talking about politics, per se, I'm talking about bullying. And subconscious roots.
And the fact that walking down a street lined with campaign signs for a classic psychological (as well as apparently physical) bully can be triggering.
I told you, when I devoted a whole post to this election, that I normally don't have strong feelings about politicians. They're all flawed, they're all skilled, it's just a matter of weighing their traits and comparing it to the job and deciding from there. I was very objective in that post. The FACTS favored one candidate far over the other. But the truth is my strong feelings about this election aren't completely objective, because one candidate literally makes me nauseous. Not hyperbole. I'm not insulting him here, saying "he makes me sick" because he's ugly or I don't like his ideas (although I don't). I'm saying he causes a reflexive stress reaction in my body that makes me feel sick. I am LITERALLY SICK of hearing his voice and seeing his smug, hateful, punchable face.
I saw an article on Twitter last month, see what I wrote:
Well, this explains the sickening feeling he invokes. https://t.co/dXXJsv6yaG— Amy W (@rockinlibrarian) September 28, 2016
And because the embed doesn't actually let you see the content of the tweet I was quoting:
And if you're like "On a site called 'Everyday Feminism,' yeah like THAT'S not biased," shut up and read it. Well, read it if you ARE like that. If you can just see the headline and are already nodding like, "Yep, absolutely true, I KNOW," then don't read it because it's freaking triggering. Or in my case, read it, discover it IS triggering but it EXPLAINS SO MUCH so you're glad you read it.
THOSE are the things I experienced at the hands of other kids (and in some cases, probably unintentional, from adults--not my parents I must add) as a child, and the things I saw other kids, some of them very important to me, experience and fill me with rage. THOSE are the experiences evoked in my subconscious when I have those cafeteria nightmares.
And, like the article said, it's incredibly triggering to see these behaviors flaunted by someone running for the highest office in the country. When I see his smug face, he reminds me of every kid who picked on me or my friends at school. The decades of simmering frustration bubble back up into the present and all I want to do is PUNCH HIM, and with him every other bully who has ever crossed my path. Did you hear about the guy who sledgehammered his Hollywood Star yesterday? Oh, say what you want about the evils of vandalism, I'm not condoning him, but I TOTALLY understand him. He just DID what all us victims/loved ones of victims FEEL. And, more kindly than sledgehammering the guy's FACE, which is what we really burn inside for (not saying we genuinely want it with our minds! We just FEEL that want).
This ISN'T political, this is primal gut instinct. Don't try to tell me his opponent is a bully, too. You may not agree with her, but if you think she's a bully then you don't understand what a bully is. It isn't just insisting that you're right-- that's called being assertive. A bully is something else entirely, and victims recognize it when we see it, if only subconsciously through reflexive stress reactions. I went into my therapy session on edge yesterday, and said I kept thinking about bullies, and my therapist kept asking if something had happened that had triggered it, and I said, "No, it was just seeing political signs along the road." She nodded immediately and said, "Ah, of course, you've been Trumped." She didn't know my political affiliations! I hadn't said anything specific! But I'm willing to bet I'm not the only one of her patients who has this reaction, and she knew EXACTLY what I meant. People are only getting bullying flashbacks via one particular candidate.
Anyway, to bring it back around, walking the kids to the bus stop along a street with sign after sign supporting the Bullying Poster Boy is... somewhat disconcerting. Even the kids think so. Of COURSE the kids think so-- not just my kids, SO MANY kids, not just parroting their parents' opinions, but genuinely their OWN: "Why do people like him? He's MEAN." Leave it to the kids to cut to the chase.
"Well," I say, "people like him... because... maybe they just believe his lies?" I don't know how to explain. I understand how many people in communities like mine have just had enough of the Liberal Elite, but to actually support this monster instead? THESE people are not monsters. These are ordinary folks who give me cheerful hellos, who have lent a hand on occasion, who have families and full lives.
Maddie's friend and her older sister run out of their house (one WITHOUT a campaign sign) to join my kids at the bus stop, their hair in cornrows, bright smiles on their dark faces, and I get another mental nudge. How does THEIR family feel, living on this street? Oh, maybe people are just as nice to them. Maybe they see them as "GOOD ones, not like Those Others." Or maybe not. But how would I know? Perfectly inoffensive white lady with Resting Nice Face? Nobody feels threatened by me. Who knows how many people who are perfectly decent to me aren't nearly as decent to someone else?
Bringing me back to childhood again. Or adolescence-- do you know how socially acceptable it was to pick on my best friend in high school? Kids I didn't previously think of as bullies would join in freely. Maybe they felt it was okay to side with the bullies when the person being picked on seemed so different from them, too. Maybe they felt it was safer. Maybe that's how the people on my street feel.
I'll admit: I wasn't completely immune from this behavior myself on occasion. The song "Hey Mickey" always kind of haunts me-- people in the marching band had made up alternate words for it, directed at this awkward nerd of a kid whom I didn't particularly like either, and although I knew I shouldn't find it funny, it WAS funny. But gosh, what was it like for that kid, when even I couldn't help laughing at that song?
But luckily for my retroactive pride, I was more often the kid in the middle. The one defending a friend to another friend who was saying terrible things behind--or in front of-- her back. "How did the others react when you defended the person they were picking on?" my therapist asked. I blinked a little. "Well... it was weird. On the surface they called me things like 'goody goody' or whatever, asked why I cared, told me to stay out of it because I was wrong," I said. "But on some level-- I think something in them kind of respected it? Because they weren't like 'If you're friends with them you can't be friends with us,' or anything overtly cruel. I think they KNEW that, with the situation reversed on them, I'd stick up for them, too, you know? So they didn't want to alienate me too much."
She smiled as if I'd finally hit on obvious proof that I didn't have to be so afraid of speaking up for myself. But it's so much easier to stick up for other people than for myself. Sticking up for myself against outside bullies (or even just nice people who disagree with me) would require me to first stick up for myself against my inner bullies, and they are super-persuasive.
But maybe that's why I'm so privileged. Maybe I can't handle any more to battle inside me. But outside me? I can keep standing up for others. And maybe people will actually, every so often, listen to me.
So that's why I keep speaking up, trying to get people to listen to each other.
My therapist suggested maybe I'd have better luck standing up against my inner bullies if I thought of it as doing it for my childrens' sake. Still really hard. But it feels right.
I have enough trouble dealing with internal bullies. I refuse to put up with outside bullies, no matter who they're picking on.
*Last night after I tucked her in and left the room, Maddie out of nowhere piped up, "Mommy, did you ever forget to do your homework as a kid?" HAH, girl, we don't have time to have this discussion right now!
Facebook did a thing the other day. Now, I must say, I've been avoiding Facebook a lot. It's a shame because more actual people I know spend time there than on Twitter, but the algorithms make such a mess of things that I just simply DON'T LIKE trying to read my feed. I go to check notifications, and every so often I'll read what I can see. Like how on Twitter I'm a chronic ReTweeter, and on Tumblr I ONLY ever reblog, I "share posts" a lot on Facebook, more than I post original content. Now, apparently someone didn't like my political sharing? Because I got blocked from sharing. Actually for 24 hours I was blocked from posting ANYTHING. Now it seems I can, say, post the word "testing," but it still won't let me SHARE posts. Even, apparently, when they're MY post.
Because Facebook likes to show you "memories," what you posted on this date in a different year, and offers to let you share it again. Yesterday it showed me this LiveJournal entry, on being Pro-Life. I was kind of curious if the entry still reflected my feelings or if it would show me my naivety of two years ago. On the contrary, I found it strangely inspiring. I clicked "Share" on the FB Memories post and typed this into the "say something about this" box:
Me from two years ago encouraged me today, to keep speaking what I know is right, even if no one agrees with me.
Look (going off on a tangent here): I have spent my entire life being silenced. I was laughed at and shamed to the point where I was, rightly, voted Shyest in my high school class. I still struggle to speak, both literally and figuratively. When people tell me "You're wrong" I shut up, feeling like everyone else must know something I don't, everyone else must be smarter than me, even when I know deep inside that I am right. I am SICK of being silenced, of being belittled, of not being taken seriously. I am SICK of buying the lie that everyone else knows something I don't, that everyone else has some vital bit of worth that I'm lacking. I am SICK of hating myself. And darnit, when I know, deep inside, that I'm right about something, I NEED to speak up. I NEED to let my unique outlook shine even if it doesn't jive up with everyone else's. ESPECIALLY when it doesn't jive up with everyone else's. I don't know who reported me for something yesterday that had my Facebook account locked up for 24 hours, but dude, why you trying to shut up the Shyest Girl of Derry Class of '96? I've had enough of being shut up. It's more than time I start making noise.*
*(Note: this is still really hard: I'm fighting against some really strong internal Shut-Up-Amy demons. I speak determinedly but I could still use support. I had a REALLY rough I-should-just-die day yesterday. Encouragement is never wasted).Except when I hit post, it told me I was still blocked from sharing.
You see the irony, here, right?
I copied the comment into my email drafts and tried posting again from different computers and devices-- no luck! I figured I'd just give it up, because it's really not important, yadda yadda yadda.
Except the irony nagged at me. I couldn't write a screed about being sick of not speaking up, and then not actually POST it.
So this morning I saw this hanging around my email and knew I had to put it SOMEWHERE to get it off my chest before I could move on to anything else.
Because my brain is still too heavy to function well, but now it's just this tiny bit lighter.
As long as LiveJournal doesn't decide to crap out on me just as I hit "Post" now.
Then I got to the disability questions, and the laughter changed to something charged with a little more hilarity. "Does this individual physically, mentally, or emotionally require help with walking or climbing stairs?" "Yes," I said out loud, thinking of my extreme klutziness, and my daughter's somehow even MORE extreme klutziness.* No, I checked in the box. I knew what the question was really asking. We're all perfectly capable of walking.
"Does this individual physically, mentally, or emotionally require help concentrating, regulating emotion, or making decisions?" "YES," I said with an even more hysterical laugh. This whole household is a mess of Attention Deficiency. But again, I only actually MARKED Yes under the boy's name, since he actually gets government aid for home/school wraparound services. Whatever his dad's and my problems, it isn't like we CAN'T make decisions. It isn't like we need someone signing our paperwork for us. We accomplish things. We hold down and even excel at our jobs. We are perfectly capable adults.
One hour later I was sitting in my therapist's office, sobbing about my incapabilities, while she reminded me that I should stop beating myself up for failing to be everything to everyone, that it's okay to ask for help even if you think you're SUPPOSED to be able to do it alone.
Does this individual physically, mentally, or emotionally require help concentrating, regulating emotion, or making decisions? I thought again as I sniffled through an attempt to schedule my next appointment, slowly realizing a scheduling conflict and catching it just before the receptionist printed it out. I don't need an assistant to make my appointments for me. But this interaction took a great deal more energy to accomplish than it would for an average person. Just because I'm capable of making my own appointments doesn't mean I don't need to REST for a minute after doing so.
I thought of the Spoons thing that goes around Tumblr and the like, that code for the amount you have to give. I'm not sure the analogy always works for me, but I understand the feeling behind it, and that's what I thought about now: just because I'm not obviously disabled doesn't mean I'm invincible. Just because SOME people aren't as sensitive as I am doesn't mean I SHOULDN'T break down over "stupid" things. Just because SOME people are neat freaks doesn't mean I should instinctively keep a tidy house. Just because SOME people communicate through shouting doesn't mean I shouldn't be totally uncomfortable and shut down in such interactions. Just because making a telephone call is a thing MILLIONS of people do without trouble every minute doesn't mean I should be able to do it without scripts and deep breathing exercises and a reward for myself when I finish.
Just because it seems like nothing to most of the world doesn't mean it's not huge for me. But it's only a problem if I pretend it isn't.
I am exceedingly fortunate. There is so much I can do, so much I'm even good at. But that doesn't mean I SHOULD be capable of EVERYTHING. That doesn't mean my weaknesses are failures. I'm just Differently Abled.
This is me. I'm a good writer. I'm an excellent children's librarian. I'm empathetic and thoughtful. I'm highly sensitive. I'm demisexual. I'm a good cook but hate deciding what to make. Oh, just in general, I'm indecisive. I'm scatterbrained, inclined to be late, and very, very messy.
Take me or leave me. Don't demand I be anything else.
*So last week my cell rang at work and I saw it was the school calling. When I answered I heard someone saying in a pitying voice to someone in the background "...smashed your fingers in the door..." and before I could stop myself, before even saying hello, I said, "This must be about Madeleine." Of course it was. She has a gift, I assure you.
That was a decade-ish ago. Since then I've learned to Blog Properly, and have networked with loads of Librarian-types, or have made online friends with just various cool people I haven't actually met. (Since then also my baby has gotten quite grown as has his sister who wasn't even conceived yet). I've gotten into the habit of Writing Reviews, in which I DO in fact go on about my feelings about a work or whatever, but what I write can better be described as a typed book talk: "Here's this book, here's why you might want to read it! No spoilers, no discussion, I'm just RECOMMENDING!"
When I finished reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child --The Script, I felt curiously incomplete. Well, partially because I have not yet fully experienced the story by seeing it performed. But also because I felt "Okay, I've finished, now I need to frantically post to all my friends who are also probably finishing about now! Right? That's... that's how reading these works."
...it's different now, a decade later. A lot of us have kids, which means me reading this three days after its release was actually EARLY, not late, and who knows who else has managed to get to it yet. And online, I have followers. Loads of people I don't actually know, who keep expecting me to write brilliant things instead of just chat. We speak a language of reviews. We carefully avoid spoilers. We don't just spill our thoughts.
BUT I WANT A SPACE FOR THAT AGAIN!
Anyway, here is my Spoiler-Free Response post. Those of you who want to hash things out in more spoilerific detail, use the comments section right here on LiveJournal, rather than on Facebook or Twitter or whatever-- that keeps the discussion all in one place and, ironically, makes it harder for people to stumble upon spoilers, because the comments aren't just OUT THERE like they are on Facebook or whatever. You do not need a LiveJournal account to comment-- you can log in with another type of account or just do it as Anonymous (but please sign your name)-- Anonymous comments won't show up right away but I DO get notified and I WILL put them up eventually. Anyway.
Make no mistake, this is a SCRIPT. Reading it is not magical like seeing it performed would be, or even like reading a book that's actually crafted to be your whole experience is. It's a placeholder, a consolation for those of us who CAN'T see the show on stage, so that we don't miss out on the story itself. But you can tell that this really is just an OUTLINE of the experience. This is meant to be viewed on a stage-- that's how the story is crafted. You really aren't getting the whole experience just reading the script.
But that never stopped anybody reading Shakespeare.
I saw in passing a tweet in which somebody said somebody ELSE had called it fanfiction, which IS technically not true, but I can see where the thought might be coming from. After all, some theater guys did the actual WRITING.* It's just Jo Rowling helped shape the story, making the story, therefore, canonical. But there are lots of reminders and callbacks to things in the books that may just be reminders but also kind of feel like jumping-off points actual fanfic writers MIGHT use. And, being written almost a decade on, it kind of takes the part of-- what's the word, fanfic people? "Corrective" fic? Something that rolls off the tongue better? Anyway, that-- it's able to fix some of the problems the original series had. Notably, we get our first actually likable and heroic Slytherin House characters. (In fact, if you'd told me ahead of time who my favorite new character would be? ...well, didn't see that coming). And yes, they're ambitious and cunning without being evil or snobbish!
We also get to play around with AUs a little bit for those people who weren't always sure about Granger-Weasley marriage concept, and we get FURTHER SATISFACTION THAT RON/HERMIONE IS INDEED THE BRIGHTEST TIMELINE for those of us who are still passionate shippers after all these years. That wasn't a spoiler. THAT WAS MY HIGHLY OPINIONATED TRUTH. ...it was LOVELY to see them together as adults, their ever-beautiful chemistry still melting my heart after all these years. I liked the reminder that they really are one of my absolute favorite fictional couples ever. SO SUE ME.
It's scary. I was surprised how scary it could be simply reading the script-- imagine seeing it in the theater! The stakes get high and they get there fast-- "this is happening in only Act Two? Of Four Acts? Only the BEGINNING of Act Two at that?!"
There are twists and turns you don't see coming. It's just plain fun.
When I finished I had to go look at production pictures. I know, that sounds funny-- I can read BOOKS without pictures just FINE. But it was strangely comforting to see some of the scenes I'd read, like, "oh good, they DID complete this script by performing it, PHEW!" And, just reading about grown-up Harry, and then SEEING grown-up Harry... it was just good to see him there, you know? I kept staring at him. "That's Harry Potter, grown up." Now, I see Daniel Radcliffe as a grown-up and I go "aw, look how well he grew up!" but I don't actually think of him as HARRY grown up. THIS is Harry grown up, and it's just nice dangit.
I guess I'll stop there. Chat in the comments if you like!
*Just like an old-fashioned LiveJournal journal entry, I'm not bothering to look up their names for accuracy because I don't actually CARE. It's not like you won't be able to FIND it.
Ancestry.com has certainly added new ways to track genealogy, though. And recently, through DNA testing, it unearthed an unpleasant truth: the man he so admired, who'd done so many great things, wasn't his great-great-grandfather after all.
My great-great-great (or however many) grandmother had been 15 when she married this man. And five months pregnant. And according to the DNA trail, the father of that boy she carried (my g-g-grandfather) was one of three brothers, one of whom was a teacher, another of whom was eventually locked up in an insane asylum, and all of whom were at least twice her age. Was it the teacher, taking advantage of one of his students? Was it his younger brother, and they locked him up for being a serial rapist or something? Does it matter? Whatever happened, it was at LEAST a STATUTORY rape, if not full-blown. The blacksmith/war-hero was a family friend, who married the girl to save her from what in that era would surely have been scandal and ruin. "It makes me admire him even more," my dad said sadly, "to have raised this boy as his own even though he knew he wasn't actually his."
I wondered a little at my dad's disappointment when he said that. So this hero's blood didn't run in our veins after all. But he still RAISED our however-many-greats grandfather. Did it matter that our DNA came from a rapist, or did it matter more that the boy ended up calling a good man Dad?
(It's a bit like the part of the Gospel of Matthew they read on Christmas Eve, which always makes me roll my eyes. Ol' St. Matt goes off on this long, long genealogical report, tracing the genealogy of Jesus from Abraham all the way up to Joseph. To JOSEPH. Who, in the very next verse, he explains is NOT ACTUALLY JESUS'S BIOLOGICAL FATHER, ANYWAY. Like SERIOUSLY, Matt, what was your point?! UNLESS it's more important that this man, who happens to have serious Jewish blood going way back, RAISED the boy Jesus as his own. Because maybe that's more important than the bloodline after all? I don't know, don't lecture me on theology, I'm just observing. Anyway, this is only tangentally related, because this post is about bad stuff in the past, which makes this story very different depending on whether you believe Mary had been raped like my g-g-g grandmother or she had indeed conceived the child via the Holy Spirit. Or you believe the whole story was made up period which makes it moot. But in that case, the Holy Spirit answer's the one in the story so it is still good).
I got onto this subject today because I started puzzling over something I'd seen on social media (ah, social media). The other night the First Lady spoke at the Democratic National Convention, a lovely speech full of hope and integrity, and she noted that now two little black girls lived in a mansion that had been built by slaves-- look how far we've come! Think how much farther we can go! And for some reason a bunch of people, instead of hearing the message of progress, got stuck on "wait, did she just say the White House was built by slaves? How DARE she say the White House was built by slaves!" and I'm like, "uh, because it WAS? It's not like you can't learn this information through a picture book. Or even just, you know, ASSUME, based on the history of the region." But these folks were really riled up about this. If they couldn't deny that there were a lot of dang slaves "employed" in the building of our nation's capital, they had to start insisting that well, they were slaves, but they really weren't treated that badly.
I'm like what is your ISSUE? She wasn't trying to slander the holy edifice that is the White House by referring to a negative-but-well-documented fact about its history, she was trying to say Isn't it GREAT, that once people that looked like my family were enslaved and would they ever have imagined a family that looked like them would be living here as the Family in Chief but here we are? Hooray! Our country is getting better all the time! Is it really that important that the history of our country is far from perfect?
It got me pondering the ways history is told, and how a lot of these people are the same ones who complain about "revisionist history," and how they want to stick with the TRUE history, which is the history they learned growing up. You know, like how George Washington chopped down a cherry tree as a boy? So what these people are looking for, I guess, is Golden, Gleaming History, History that is a role model for us to look up to.
I finally got my ears on the Hamilton musical a couple months ago. 1) gosh it is SO GOOD; 2) one thing that struck me is how much it put the lie to the idea that the founding of America was some stately, well-organized thing like the back of a two-dollar bill. That's another thing people who like Golden Gleaming History like to talk about: "The Founding Fathers thought THIS" and "The Founding Fathers did THAT" and "WHAT would the Founding Fathers say?!" And yet, listening to this, it reminds me that the last thing the Founding Fathers were was a unanimous monolyth on the issues we would face as a nation. SOME Founding Fathers wanted stronger state governments, weaker federal; SOME wanted a stronger federal and weaker states. SOME Founding Fathers did indeed keep slaves; but SOME Founding Fathers were outspoken abolitionists. The notion that the Founding Fathers were the last word on every issue is based on this Gleaming concept of History, a History that has no room for Cabinet Battles and dirty deals and blackmail, because that would mean we COULDN'T use it as the final word in an argument.
It's literally part of the conservative mindset-- not just politically conservative, but the whole idea of conservative-- to want to hold the past up as ideal. That's what conservatism is about: change is bad, the good old days were good. If you hold this mindset, it's a little earthshattering to face up to the not-so-good parts of the past. If your ancestors came out of history on top, it can feel like a personal affront to hear that they weren't perfect. But it's not just political: we all have a little conservative side of us, a part that holds tight to stories of how things ought to have been and believes in them. My dad's a pretty progressive guy, but it did upset him to learn of the smudge in his family tree that seemed to take away his claim to good blood. And me-- as a kid I had a really hard time with this concept. To find out anyone great had a not-so-great side? To uncover the dirty laundry of history? Heck, to find out how many of my favorite musicians were "druggies"? Frustrated me, man. I couldn't reconcile it. If these things were BAD, why were we learning about how GREAT they were?
But I was younger then. I've learned about shades of gray. Which is why it's surprising when so many people my age and older are still stuck in this black-and-white mindset.
A thing I've always hated since I discovered it is the Your Fave Is Problematic thing. It's almost like the opposite of the History Was Great and Never Dare Say Otherwise mindset, but is the exact same thing, really. You think something's or someone's so great? I'm going to POKE AS MANY HOLES IN THEM AS I CAN. SEE, NOT GREAT. So a fan says YOU ARE SO WRONG, THEY ARE GREAT, YOU SUCK, and the "problematic" folks are like "NO, THEY SUCK, AND IF YOU LIKE THEM STILL THEN YOU SUCK." WHAT, people. Why does everything have to be perfect or terrible? Why can't things just BE with all their nuances?
Back to the topic of dark spots in ones ancestry. I've always felt uncomfortable with the use of the word "we" to describe anything that I, personally, was not involved with-- "we won" or "we lost" or "we did this historical thing because...." I don't like my sports teams referred to as "we" unless I'm on them (ha). I don't like my country referred to as "we" if it's something out of my control-- like, back to sports teams, Olympians-- "we" do not get so many gold medals, those people who are way better athletes than most of us could ever imagine being got them; and I especially don't like it when referring to events that happened before I was even born. We settled in America. We drove off most of the native people. We defeated the British. We nuked Japan. Our ancestors, maybe. And maybe we've even benefitted from horrible things our ancestors did.
But we don't have to take it personally. It happened. And who cares whether it was your ancestors or not. What are YOU going to do? Who are YOU going to follow? I've got a great-great-great grandfather who was a rapist, but my great-great grandfather was raised to be a good man by a good man, instead. You're not bound by the past, so you don't have to fear it.
What happens NOW, is the question. That's what Mrs. Obama was saying the other night, not "feel ashamed of your history" but "look back on history and how we have improved and how we can keep on improving!" Look back to look forward.
I think I've made sense here, it's hard to tell because I've been super distracted by our library Harry Potter party happening on Saturday and I've been making chocolate frogs all day, which involves a lot of back and forth while waiting for things to set. But anyway.
*I THINK I have the right number of greats
But the ability to SEE all sides of a situation does not necessarily mean AGREEING with all sides of a situation. It's one thing when the sides genuinely ARE balanced, like in the what-to-have-for-dinner question. But when a Peacemaker like me has managed to see all sides of a situation and has come to a conclusion that the sides are NOT equal, after all, our decisions come rock-solid. And listen, it's easy for me to defer to other people, assuming they know better than I do-- yet another symptom of my indecisiveness, but I'm learning to put my foot down. I'm learning to speak up. I'm learning that I can be RIGHT, sometimes, too. So look, don't try to tell me I'm wrong on this one. I've seen all sides. I sympathize with all sides. But my gosh one side is clearly better than the other, so let me just get it out here so I can point to it and move on.
I know, friends and family, that many of you have, not just disliked, but utterly hated Hillary Clinton for a very long time. You've already made the decision to vote against her no matter what, and the GOP is counting on that. They will be slinging so much mud over the next few months, and that mud looks totally justified. Here's the problem: what's their alternative? THEY have a narcissistic blowhard with no political experience and not much in the way of brains, who yes has boatloads of money which he might claim equals business sense but in truth the money is primarily inherited and his actual business decisions have been relatively bad ones, a hothead who doesn't believe diplomacy applies to him. Or, it applies to how YOU should treat HIM, but HE is immune from having to use it. I'd add here the bits about him being openly bigoted and outright hostile toward women and minorities, but if I did y'all'd just go "Oh, that's just those liberal types being so OVERSENSITIVE again, they blow everything out of proportion," so I won't even bother. Let's just stick with the narcissistic blowhard part.
Oooo, you say, those are awfully mudslingingish words, yourself, you hypocrite! You can't say one side is relying on bashing the other side and then go bash 'em right back! But the difference is Clinton is experienced. She's competent, intelligent, knows how the world works, and her underlings both love and respect her. I don't particularly care for everything she's ever done or said. She wasn't my top choice in 2008. But I've always admitted she's got the chops for the job.
BUT LOOK AT THE BAD THINGS SHE'S DONE, say you.
Okay then. Let's look at this. Imagine that, instead of choosing a President, you're choosing a Service Animal. Sounds kind of insulting, but it's not-- we're talking about choosing someone who is meant to serve and lead you, so, it applies. So Hillary is a Trained Service Dog (again, in this scenario. I am not calling her a dog, I'm weaving a metaphor). She's got all the paperwork. But there's some troublesome notes in the paperwork. Maybe she's chased squirrels a few times when she was supposed to be on duty. Maybe she's even led her unsuspecting masters into danger once or twice. Maybe the paperwork might be fudged, maybe some of the incidents reported have been blown out of proportion, but maybe they haven't. Either way, okay. You decide you can't trust this one as a Service Animal. Maybe she needs some more training or something, maybe she should be retired or taken out of the Service Animal register.
But you still need a Service Animal. So you turn to the GOP and say, Well then, do YOU have a Service Animal we could use?
Well... they hesitate a bit, then dive onward. Well, not a TRAINED Service Animal, per se... but we've got this rabid weasel who crawled in the mail slot. We tried to put a leash on him but he chewed through it, but that's all right, he's got spirit, see?
So look. I think I'm going to stick with the imperfect but actual service animal. The chances she'll mess up at the job are just a LEETLE less likely than the chances the rabid weasel will make a complete mess of everything.
You disagree? You want to argue? Okay, but there is nothing you can bring to light that will make the Trained Service Dog look like a worse option than the Rabid Weasel. Instead, you've got to prove to me that the Rabid Weasel isn't actually a Rabid Weasel. Got it? Prove to me you're not trying to put a Rabid Weasel into office and maybe I'll care what smack you have to say about the Trained Service Dog.
You know very well I still love you. I'm just saying THINK. Just say no to rabid weasels.
My physical body has been a mess lately. My right knee has been acting goofy* since Disney World and really only getting worse over time. It doesn't like to bend. It doesn't like going up or down stairs, or getting in and out of the car, or bending down and standing up again, and will protest with a scream of pain if I try it. And resting it doesn't even help. It's still mad at me in the morning after a supposed good night's sleep. I finally went to the doctor last week, who determined that nothing was broken and it was something in the joint itself, either tendonitis or arthritis, and all I can do is take lots of ibuprofen and put ice on it occasionally. This past week it's felt like my whole body wanted to follow that knee, finding a million ways to creak and cramp and act up whenever I tried to move OR to stay still, and I was like, seriously? Is my whole body falling apart now? I'm supposed to get into shape but I can't because exercise hurts, but not exercising makes me continue toward entropy? The good news is the x-ray determined my knee issue is not arthritis, which means it's not permanent, supposedly. There's hope for me eventually.
For some reason I have gained 25 pounds in the past two years. Now, before I go any further, you have to understand that I, unlike far too many people in this fat-phobic world, have never had body issues. I was skinny as a kid, so no one fat-shamed me into hating my own body, so instead I devoted all my physical self-loathing to my face, my blotchy, too-square face with the crooked teeth and stupid-vague-EnneaType9 expression-- look okay I still have irrational issues with my face, so I'm not like some miraculously physical-shame-free person. But my body I've always been okay with. I thought my figure was kind of perfect when I was younger. When I was pregnant, while other mothers-to-be fretted about feeling fat, I was like HOLY CRAP I LOOK LIKE A FERTILITY GODDESS, THE EARTH IS MINE! Even now, I'm not disgusted by my figure: it feels properly womanly** to me. But lately the weight gain has brought other problems with it. GIRTH has become a problem vanity-wise only because dresses I made or bought-on-Modcloth-so-they're-expensive-
And my husband ironically makes it worse by needling me about it. He's equal-opportunity about it at any case, going on about how we BOTH need to lose weight, but every little crack he makes makes me feel more stubbornly like NOT doing anything to help improve my weight. I'm just going to NOT exercise now because he said that, right? And food. Food is a real issue. I've always wanted to eat healthier than we eat in this household, with salads and produce of all sorts, experimenting with all kinds of foods, cutting back on meat intake-- in summer, especially, why doesn't my family like SALADS? Why do they insist on COOKED food? But with my family of picky eaters, they're not going to go for it. But my husband, while he won't sacrifice his hearty meat-and-potatoes*** dishes, he thinks snacking is the evil we need to cut. No eating too late in the evening (even though when I work evenings I often CAN'T eat until, like, 9 PM). No eating between meals. Whenever he sees me get a snack he makes some snarky comment about it, and you know what? It just makes me want to eat MORE and WORSE. Whether it's out of spite or just a feeling of DARNIT I WANT SOMETHING FOR MYSELF, I WANT SOME LITTLE BIT OF HAPPINESS JUST FOR ME TO INDULGE IN, DO NOT DENY ME THIS COOKIE. With the objective observer part of my mind, I can see myself doing this, making an unhealthily psychological connection to food, STRESS-EATING. So obviously, the objective observer says, I don't NEED to eat when I feel that way, right? At which point the objective observer gets GLARED AT by the rest of my mind, more determined than ever that NO ONE, NO ONE SHALL TAKE MY SWEET-AND-STARCHY SNACKS FROM ME, INCLUDING ME! When I mentioned this to my psychiatrist she said, "so when you feel this way, how much do you eat?" "I don't know, a few cookies?" "So not, like, two pizzas at a sitting?" "What?!" "People do that," she explained. Well dang, surely I SHOULD be allowed my cookies then, shouldn't I.
But seriously, that's so psychological. I so definitely make sure I always have a chocolate stash just because it's MINE. I'm a grownup and I can have a dang chocolate stash if I want. Because it's nice to feel like SOMETHING is in my control, you know?
I was going to write about bigger, more important things probably, but I think this is all I'm getting to today.
*pun not intended
**not that skinny women AREN'T womanly! I do not wish to suggest there is any WRONG way to be womanly! But I do feel my body is in fact properly womanly. Not my face, though, it's still too square. :P
***Granted, I won't sacrifice potatoes, either. It's just, you know, the concept. Meat-and-potatoes. But potatoes are happy. I love potatoes. Shut up anti-starch people.
Of course, as it happened, I'd somehow chosen for my Most Bosom Friend one of the most unpopular girls in school. She was bullied, constantly and carelessly, even by people who weren't generally known to be bullies.* It put me into a rage I have never felt on my own behalf, though I'd had my share of bullying (though mostly in elementary school, not high school). HOW COULD THEY NOT SEE how perfect and amazing she was?! It so happens one of the things they needled her about most often was being a lesbian. Now, this was back in the day when NO one was out in high school, not even the extremely flaming kid who always sang Madonna at karaoke. You didn't admit it, you didn't discuss it, you wouldn't dare-- probably because kids got bullied so mercilessly for even SEEMING gay. I am always so amazed when I see and hear today's teens-- the bullying still happens, but, my, how far they've come. Anyway, back to the mid-nineties, NOBODY was out, certainly not Angie. It was all speculation and stereotyping on the part of her tormenters. So I, bursting with utterly naive loyalty, shouted** at them, "If she was, then I'D be dating her! So there!"
Let's skip ahead to Friend #2. I met him at the start of my second year of college, trying out for the marching band.*** A mutual friend had told me to seek him out because he'd be in my section and he was the "nicest boy [she had] ever met," so would certainly help me out. And he was indeed hopelessly nice, and he did indeed help me and everyone else waiting for tryouts. But eventually everyone else there wandered away and we kept talking, going beyond our mutual niceness into Completely Hitting It Off. I felt so comfortable with him that talking, for once, came easily, so easily things started slipping right out of my mouth without me thinking about them. I spotted a large electrical outlet on the wall, and "That electrical outlet is staring at us so mournfully" slipped out, but before I could think wait, maybe I should have said that in a way that actually makes sense, he peered at it, too, and said, "Yeah, I see what you mean."
"You DO?" I sounded utterly flabbergasted, which might have been what made him start giggling, and once he started I couldn't very well not start, so we sat there giggling hysterically over an electrical outlet. And that was when it snapped in my head, this same instant deep mental and emotional infatuation I'd felt when I'd met Angie, except this one was a BOY. So the mental/emotional jolt kicked my body into the mix, too. So instead of thinking "Please be my bosom friend!" I thought "I am so DONE FOR. This could very well be The One."
See, here's the annoying thing about attraction: you really can't choose it. It happens in whatever way your body is programmed to react. I've seen some people define mental-emotional attraction as "romantic" and physical attraction as "sexual," but "romantic" is a confusing term. By this definition I'm a "panromantic," because I fall madly in love with anyone and anything, but, like, so? It's just intensity of LOVING, is all, and I'm all for loving. But physical attraction? I only ever felt that toward guys, and even then, only toward a few particular guys who managed to attract me mentally and emotionally first. Turns out there's an actual word for this type of inclination, "demisexual." And because I'm only physically attracted to the opposite sex when I am, I'm "demiheterosexual." Well, on the spectrum of sexual preference I suppose I'll allow a little slide toward Karen Carpenter's Voice (just her voice) and probably Peggy Carter, because DANG, PEGGY CARTER, but... we return to my bold yet naive proclamation to the bullies back in high school: "if she was, I'D be dating her!"
Because she was, and I wasn't. There it was. I'm freaking straight. My body was infatuated with this GUY, just like society said it was SUPPOSED to be. And yet he wasn't, either. My two dearest, most beloved friends were both tentatively coming out of the closet, and there I was attracted to the wrong one.
I wasn't the greatest friend I could have been through their coming-out processes. I was too jealous and frustrated. Why was sexuality such a MIXED-UP THING? Why did society say I was the normal one when I was the one who DIDN'T FIT in this triangle?
While I pouted, as Angie tried to explain what she'd been going through to the back of my pouty head, a different awkward coming-out story was happening much more successfully across campus. Randy, my Friend #2, had tentatively come out to many of his closest friends, but the thought of telling one of them made him really nervous. I mean, this guy was obnoxiously male. He was politically conservative and freaking outspoken about it, a gun nut and an ROTC-er, exactly the stereotype of a homophobe, right? He was also a psychology major who was well in the habit of reading people, and he knew very well Randy was acting weird around him lately. "So, are you ever going to tell me what's bothering you?"
"Wha...? Nothing's bothering me," Randy mumbled in his obviously-lying voice.
"Should I tell you what's bothering you? Okay then. You're gay and you're afraid to tell me because you don't think I'll be okay with it."
"How did y-- who told--?"
"Nobody told me, it's just obvious." And to Randy's bewilderment, he continued on, completely unfazed. He was beyond okay with it, to be honest: he flat-out exploited the great resource that was a gay-best-friend-wingman. Randy had so many dreamy-eyed girls following him around, why not introduce them to someone who could appreciate their charms? Then came the day that, in the middle of planning a new D&D campaign, they ran into one such girl and decided to recruit her for the game and here we are almost seventeen years and two kids later....
So basically, it all worked out. Well, Angie and I had a bit of a blowup that worked itself out mainly through letters (because we'd always both been better at writing than talking) and left my heart utterly shattered for quite awhile but gradually that healed, and we're all happy sexually with people we're actually sexually compatible with and the genuine love of friendship is big enough to not be jealous and selfish anymore. I love them both thoroughly and unpossessively just the way they are.
Why am I telling you this? Mostly, to explain that I'm straight. Unless you count demisexuality as some kind of Queer orientation which technically it is sort of as a variation of asexuality but come on it's NOT THE SAME THING. It means I can get happily married to one person of the opposite sex, that is the FRIGGIN AMERICAN DREAM. But that's what I mean. I am totally sexually acceptable by society.
Usually when people say that, it's in a gay-panic way, "But I'M not like THEM." Well, I AM saying I'm not like them. I don't have to face what they face. I'm free of the judgments and curses thrown at them by people who see them as disgusting deviants, lesser humans who've forfeited their right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I am pointing out to you that I AM NOT A VICTIM OF HOMOPHOBIA, so you understand fully where I'm coming from when I support LGBTetc causes. THEIR causes. Not mine. I have no ulterior motive.**** When I speak up about depression or public libraries, I've got those motives, those "Don't hurt ME!" motives in doing it. This I am doing for THEM.
I don't know-- sometimes some members of oppressed groups are offended by people outside the group taking up their cause, but I feel like, if real change is going to happen, you need people who AREN'T among the oppressed to say, "No seriously, this IS wrong." It's going to take men, for example, to stand up to the other men who perpetuate rape culture-- to say "Actually dude, no, that's not funny, that's gross." Because why would they take women seriously for saying that, when it's obviously women they don't respect? In order to bridge us vs. them thinking, you need somebody in the middle, to say "sure I'm one of YOU, but I stand with THEM."
I get overwhelmed by the world's injustices to the point that most social-media stand-taking turns me off. I avoid posting the "thoughts and prayers are with so-and-so" junk because it honestly sounds more like "look how caring I am" than "I care and this is important to me." And when guns are involved, that just makes so much more of a mess of awkwardness. But this past weekend when there was a massive massacre at a gay club, I caught something genuine in the posts from my, er, QUILTBAG friends-- a genuine fear, utter shakenness. Definitely not the impersonal righteous rage that usually accompanies such tragedies.
And I saw, particularly, these two dearest, most beautiful friends I've been talking about, post about their horror. These two people whose social media feeds are usually filled with beauty and humor. How can anyone see these two, see the extraordinary love and beauty they put into the world, and write them off as evil because of the way their bodies feel attraction? They aren't rapists. They don't hurt anyone with their orientation. They're just people whose bodies work a little differently from yours and it so happens that these two are flat-out gifts to humankind, so OPEN YOUR EYES AND SEE THE BIG PICTURE FOR ONCE.
So yes, that's why I'm an unapologetic***** Ally in LGBWhateverCollectionOfInitials Rights issues. It's a little personally stronger for me than other issues in which I can merely be an Ally because I have these two huge luminous people in my life. But the same point goes across the board, you know. The People are People and You Can't Judge Them By One Aspect of Their Personality Unless That Aspect Is Actively Hurting Others point. Like, take a look at the perpetrator of said gay club massacre. He was an awful person because he chose to freaking KILL a whole bunch of people. But some people look at his name and say "HE'S GOT AN ARAB NAME! IT'S THOSE HORRID MUSLIMS AGAIN! EVERYONE KNOWS HE DID IT BECAUSE HIS RELIGION SAYS HOMOSEXUALITY IS EVIL, SO LET'S STOP MUSLIMS!" Dude, supposed CHRISTIANS persecute and sometimes kill people based on their sexuality. THAT happens far more often in this country, THAT happens all the time. But, you know, I'M a Christian, and most of my closest friends and relations are Christian, so obviously CHRISTIANS aren't horrid viruses that need to be stopped. :P Again, judge a person by what they DO, not who they ARE. Any time I can reinforce THAT social lesson, I jump on the Ally Train as well, but I can't put quite the same knowledgeable FORCE behind it that I can Gay-for-Short Rights, because the only Muslims I know are library patrons I know only by general decent behavior and reading habits. I still fight for their rights. But I admit to more of a bias toward fighting for the people I actually do know and love personally. Make sense?
Makes TOO much sense. It's still personal, still tinged with a bit of selfishness in that way. But maybe if we all acted like people who are different from us COULD, possibly, be one of our dearest friends in the right circumstances, we'll stop and think before making sweeping judgments about Their Sort. Maybe if we remember the beautiful people we know who are nonetheless hated for who they are, we'll remember the countless beautiful people we may NOT know among the faceless Others out there.
Maybe we'll stop and think and choose LOVE, and I'm not talking about sex. REAL LOVE.
*If you have skipped this link, go back and click and read it now. It is heartbreaking and courageous and beautiful and most importantly, in her own words, in her own story, not just mine from the outside.
**okay, maybe not SHOUTED, but me being angry and forthright at ALL is so odd that it sort of feels like shouting to me.
***Which, if you're curious, I did not end up making. That year there were just an AWFUL lot of clarinets trying out. More amusing perhaps was when I tried out my senior year and instead of the competition being tight, I just flat-out flubbed the audition, and as Randy was the section leader that year and therefore one of the people evaluating me, he was quite embarrassed and literally couldn't talk to me for the rest of the day.
****Unless it's to ease my guilty conscience over what a crappy friend I was at the time of their comings-out. I suppose that could be part of it.+
+Technically, we observed years later, Randy hadn't actually ever directly come out to me. Like Jason, I just figured it out myself, because it was obvious. I just wasn't HAPPY about it then.
*****As unapologetic as I get, anyway.
Because it DOES still mean something to me. even if I said I've given up trying to give him a story. May the 25th rolls around and I realize I can't ever give up on him. And in the meanwhile, have you noticed, the superhero genre has become more prominent in prose fiction in the past couple years? Both the big comic publishers have licensed their characters out to prose writers lately, and that's not even counting all the stand-alone books about original superheroes like my Billy. And I realize how many of my favorite shows and movies are superhero related and every so often I'll go, "Hey, there's a genre I'd feel comfortable writing in, the superhero genre," and then sometimes it doesn't even hit me then that I'VE TOTALLY WRITTEN IN THAT GENRE BEFORE and my favorite character I've ever created not-counting-D&D-characters* is a superhero.
And then I'll see discussion of superheroes and start to say, "Oh yes, that's why Billy... um, sorry, I keep forgetting nobody knows who Billy is." Today, in fact, on his birthday, the comics fans on social media were talking passionately-yet-vaguely about various developments, none of which I really got any actual idea of but that doesn't matter because that's not what I'm talking about. What I AM talking about was what I saw someone said about different perceptions of what superheroes are FOR. For some, the focus is on "HERO," for others, on "SUPER" (as in superPOWERS). It made me think about the old Marvel vs. DC argument, which I'll admit that I'm on Team Marvel even though I don't read comics, because I find the characters more interesting (and my favorite TV show ever DANGIT ABC revolves around a Marvel character who was little more than a passing reference to a one-time girlfriend in the comics, but anyhoo INDEFINITE HIATUS NOT A CANCELLATION NEVER SAY NEVER) *AHEM* what was I talking about? Right, the old Marvel vs. DC thing. The idea being that DC characters were more Other, like, superheroes as a whole different breed, whereas Marvel characters were more like people who had to deal with superpowers on top of being people, that's all. And that's KIND of what the guy on Twitter was saying, some more HERO, some more SUPER, but on the other hand...
...How do I put this? He was referring more to the purity of heroics vs. dark and edgy anti-heroes (which in the movie universe, Marvel and DC kind of flipped their old stereotypes haven't they? Deadpool doesn't count). But I prefer my superheroes somewhere in the middle. I prefer them not to be the infallible demigods but the regular people who happen to have superpowers instead. But on the other hand, I DO prefer those people to be heroic, not antiheroes (well, except sometimes). I want them to be faulty people who TRY. I want to see what a regular person would DO if they had more power than the average person, and I'd like to see them make the right choices. Because with Great Power, as the saying goes, comes Great Responsibility.
Which brings us back to Billy. When he was very young and training himself to be a superhero, he patterned himself after Superman. But the older he got, becoming an awkward, nerdy teenager (albeit one with superpowers), the more drawn to Spider-Man he became. Here was another nerdy kid trying to figure out how to manage his Great Power. Superman PRETENDED to be a nerd so people wouldn't notice he was actually an all-powerful alien. Peter Parker WAS a nerd. With spider powers. And that's why Billy found comfort in him as a teenager. He needed a role model he had a CHANCE of emulating.
So I take this argument kind of personally, on Billy's behalf. Heroes can be faulty and still have good intentions. Supers can have powers and still have problems. It's what you DO with what you've got that matters, whether your powers involve flight and telekinesis or whether they're just a bit more experience, a bit more money, or a bit more opportunity.
In conclusion... I guess I should keep holding out for a new story for Billy after all.
*Her name is Coriander Lemongrass and she's a Kender if the campaign has Kender but if not she's just an ordinary Hobbitty halfling, and her class also changes depending on the campaign-- right now she's a "thief" because that was the only appropriate class open to her in this campaign, but usually she's had some sort of magic, too-- bard seems to be the best fit. The best thing is, when I pulled her out and dusted her off for this current campaign, after YEARS, I looked up and said in shock, "You know what? Cori is totally Maddie. I CREATED MADDIE BEFORE SHE WAS BORN."
2. ABC, you can't CANCEL Agent Carter. I'm not saying this as a rabid fan who doesn't personally WANT you to cancel Agent Carter. Well, I AM, but that's beside the point. No, it's just, and I've said this before, Agent Carter is a MINISERIES and theoretically you can bring it back at any time, stick it in anywhere you have a break. The word "cancel" is too FINAL for something so flexible. Just say, "Not in this next year, but hey, maybe some other time!" I mean it'll WORK, we've got YEARS to explore, with the exception of
there's no reason we can't pop back into the history of proto-SHIELD several years later. Don't be all "CANCELLED" about it! Be "on indefinite hiatus!" COME ON, KEEP YOUR OPTIONS OPEN!
3. Speaking of Marvel TV, Jason has decided he doesn't care about Agents of SHIELD anymore. Part of me's like, okay, I'm fine with that, I don't need to worry about making it to the TV every Tuesday at 9, I can watch on my own time the next afternoon or whatnot (I work Wednesday mornings), but another part of me is like YOU DON'T REALIZE WHAT A HUGE BLOW THIS IS TO OUR MARRIAGE. It was our DATE NIGHT. That's one of the few things we really enjoy doing together, watching superhero shows! And I have a feeling I want to see Civil War more than he does. Which if we could only get babysitting he'd be okay with, but his parents are in the middle of moving and my parents live farther away. Part of me's like, gee, I could totally go by myself some weekday afternoon, but then I'm like, "NO, AMY, THAT'S THE EQUIVALENT OF ADULTERY. Not just because your Imaginary Husband has a small part in it. IT WOULD BE SUCH AN UNCARING MOVE TO GO SEE A SUPERHERO MOVIE WITHOUT JASON." Seriously. There's more at stake here than watching a movie.
4. I'm kind of mentally cluttered at the moment. I've got gardening to catch up on, on account of being down with the flu all last week. I have a lot of GeekMom articles I want to work on, but I feel guilty sitting down to write long enough to do so. The house is, of course, a wreck. And I still have to feed three picky eaters and myself, which is still the bane of my existence. Sometimes I just want to shout "ENOUGH! FROM NOW ON I AM ONLY MAKING SALADS AND YOU WILL EAT IT OR YOU WILL MAKE YOUR OWN FOOD WITHOUT WHINING!" But I have a hard time cooking for myself.
5. Now I am running late for work, so bye. Excuse the lack of editing and links that I would have done had I had more time.