Right for All the Wrong Reasons

It’s been a while, not that that matters. I had a revelation that made me feel physically ill and I wanted to share it in a public forum. Not in the hopes that it will make me feel better, because that’s not likely. Not in the hopes of changing anyone’s mind, since that’s near impossible these days. Not even in the hopes of getting my revelation validated by my friends who might agree with me. I have a feeling that my revelation is going to sound ill-informed, highly biased, and, frankly, stupid. But it’s my blog, so I’m allowed.

In the last three weeks, there have been two high profile mass shootings in the news, the first at a grocery store in Buffalo, NY and the second at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX. The responses to these tragedies have been typical, which is just gross if you think about how often a specific tragedy has to happen for there to be a scripted response. There are handbooks on responding to mass shootings now, so that mayors and other community leaders know what to do in the aftermath. And we all know that children in American schools suffer active shooter drills alongside fire and tornado drills. What was once unimaginable is routine.

The response is so textbook that it actually twists my insides because every time this happens, I want the script to change and when it doesn’t, a part of me dies. There are helpless cries for action! Do Something! And the response is no. Not in so many words, obviously. The 2nd Amendment folks will say it isn’t a gun problem, blame it on something else, and then do nothing about that problem. The Gun Laws people will do a lot of angry yelling but also complain about how the other guys don’t let them do anything to fix it. Also, if the solution isn’t on a federal level, it’s not actually a solution, is it? And at the end of the day, there are still 19 dead fourth graders, 2 dead teachers, and 10 dead grocery store patrons. Nothing changes but the body count.

I am Angry. I want to scream and lash out at everyone. The politicians pandering to the NRA. The NRA thinking only of the profits and PR. The politicians making a lot of noise to appease their constituents with no plans to do anything except capture sound bites for the next campaign. The politicians blaming the other side or the other problem and the people parroting the talking points instead of thinking for themselves. The media for making the same horrific reporting mistakes, exasperating the trauma. The media personalities who proliferate conspiracy theories because it garners views and then point out that they are entertainers and therefore can’t be blamed for idiots taking them seriously. Every person who encouraged me to have a child of my own because of all the joy it would bring, since now not only do I have raging anxiety about the future of this planet (if there is a future still possible), but I also have to plan for what I’m going to tell my kid when they come home from school in tears from an active shooter drill. All the sleepless nights with a newborn, all the dirty diapers and potty training and breastfeeding, all the stress of normal parenting that everyone said would all be worth it, plus the active real terror that someone will decide to commit suicide at their school. (That’s harsh, I know. We decided to have a kid and if we sometimes look at this awful world and wonder how we could bring a child into it, it was still our decision. Narcissist Me knows that everything bad that ever happens to them will be my fault.)

The statistics bloom immediately after these events. This many gun deaths in so many years. This many mass shootings (any shooting with 4+ people injured) this year alone. This many accidental gun deaths. Gun deaths compared to other deaths (cars, medical conditions, falling, etc). Shooting statistics in America compared to every other developed nation in the world. There have been more gun related deaths in the US this year than Ukrainian casualties in the Russia-Ukraine War. There have been 213 mass shootings in the US just this year. That’s a shocking number, I know, but remember that the definition of “mass” shooting is only four or more people injured. (I just said only as though gun violence is okay is smaller doses <vomit face>.) It’s only 147 deaths so far, guys, why are we panicking (that sound you hear is my soul leaving my body so it doesn’t have to read what I just wrote).

Listen, as much as I want to shriek at the top of my lungs about how every other fkn nation on this planet managed to stop shootings after one (1) incident by enacting strict gun laws, I know for a fact that it wouldn’t work here. Why? Because, dear readers, the spineless, NRA-cock-sucking politicians are right. It isn’t a gun problem.

Or, it’s not only a gun problem.

When those wet potatoes get up with their sad faces and say that it’s such a tragedy, thoughts and prayers, but this is to do with mental health not guns, they’re right. For all the wrong reasons.

NPR did an interview with a couple of mass shooting experts and they called mass shootings an act of desperation. In all these incidents, the most consistent factor is that shooters don’t have an escape plan. They’re either going to die by suicide, die by cop, or end up in jail forever, and they are at the point where they simply don’t care beyond causing as much damage as possible. Self-hate turns outward. Makes sense, right? Now, some people look at that and see MENTAL ILLNESS in big letters, which is a very narrow way to look at it. They want to pigeon hole these guys as psychopaths, which makes them unpredictable and therefore impossible to prevent. If they want to do evil, they will and no amount of legislation will stop them. “Murder is already illegal. If they’re willing to break the law to murder, what’s to say they won’t break the law to get a gun.” (I mean, making if really fkn difficult to obtain a military grade weapon would be a start, but we only try legislating morality when it involves women’s bodies, oops did I say that out loud?)

This is true. People bent on evil will commit it. HOWEVER, that’s not where the conversation should start. That assumes that Evil is inherent and inborn, but it’s not. The conversation should start at why these people got desperate, got radicalized, decided that evil was the solution to their pain.

Crime, of all kinds, is a product of desperation. Time and again it has been shown that communities that have strong social support have decreased crime rates. That’s healthcare, education, childcare, fair wages, and fair labor. When we look at nations that killed mass shootings with stricter gun laws, we’ll also see universal healthcare, quality education, and high rates of family support like paid maternity/paternity leave and free childcare. A solid social safety net does significantly more to improve the safety of a community than more guns, more cops, more surveillance. I don’t have the facts and figures of all this, so correct me if I’m wrong. But clearly it isn’t just about just stricter gun laws. It’s about working to remove the desperation.

It’s funny that the response of gun-friendly politicians is to blame mental health. Not funny haha, obviously. Instead of following that line of thinking to increase government support for mental health initiatives and social programs designed to get people help, they actually increase the unfair stigma against mental health disorders and make no mention of the fact that they actively cut funding to mental health programs. A lot of neurodivergent friends of mine spent the last week reminding people that blaming the mental health of the shooters is a red herring, and they are so right. If those pandering ass-puppets actually believed that was the problem, they’d do something about it. But that would be making the government responsible for the well-being of its people, which leads me to the core problem to this complicated issue.

Americans think we’re special. We’re individualists. We pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and don’t need anyone’s help to do anything. We don’t need help, period. Our problems can’t be solved the same way other developed nations have because they aren’t Americans. We’re a God-fearing Nation of Individuals all grasping desperately for the American Dream!!!!!!

Which is toxic, like a lot of mainstream culture. We live and work in a society that cannot function without cooperation, yet we cling to this idea that we are the masters of our own fates. It isn’t true. We have laws for this reason, we have social contracts that we adhere to, sometimes to our own detriment. When things go right, it’s because we did everything right. And when we see other people struggling, it’s because they did something wrong. They’re fat because they’re weak. They’re poor because they’re lazy. They’re violent because they’re crazy. The reality is that Individualism is toxic. Instead of being part of a community, we are cut off and alone with our struggles, our pain, our fears.

Individualism is rights without responsibilities. That means claiming free speech when spouting hateful rhetoric and then complaining about cancel culture when someone uses your words in their murder manifesto and people call for you to be fired (out of a canon). You have a right to say what you want without the government retaliating against you. I have the right to call you a Nazi-fluffing choad in a stupid bowtie. We have a lot of rights, but there are consequences to those rights. You cannot pursue happiness at the cost of someone else’s life. And you have a right to own a firearm. And we can argue all day about what the Founders wanted or understood. The Constitution was written as a living document because they were making up as they were going along. It’s not the Gospel dictated to prophets, it’s the invention of a new, untried form of government by a bunch of slave-owning, landed white dudes. And that’s not the point.

Guns are toys in this country. Because they are a right, we act like we don’t have to earn them. I could just go and buy a gun right now without taking any training or passing any tests. Fill out the paperwork and here you go. Are there any tests to get a hunting license? Are there requisite hours at the range before you’re considered proficient? I don’t know, I’ve never wanted to buy a gun. I don’t like guns.

I was in the Army. I had to go to the range twice a year, sometimes more. I carried an M4 (named Wendy) on my back for a year in Iraq. I’ve fired M16s and M249s and M60Bs and Mk19s at the range. I even fired an AT4 during BCT. And while the guys around me talked about their raging boners, I didn’t really see what the excitement was about. I don’t understand gun culture. Maybe it’s because my Mom hated guns when we were growing up, wouldn’t even let us play with water guns. But honestly, loving a gun is like loving a hammer. It’s a tool. You use it, you clean it, you put it away.

There is also the fact that I was introduced to these weapons via Drill Sergeants, who put the fear of them in me. Always treat the weapon as if it is loaded. Never point the weapon at anything you don’t want to shoot. Never doubt for a second that if a barrel points in a Drill Sergeant’s direction, they will knock you the fk out. Literally, the only time Drill Sergeants were allowed to lay hands on us was at the range. It was never a game. It was never fun. It was training. It was learning a skill, just like everything else. And afterwards we spent an hour picking up brass. We got searched to make sure we weren’t trying to make off with any rounds. We went through drills to break down and reassemble our weapon. We cleaned them meticulously with q-tips for hours, feeling intense anxiety each time we brought it to the DS for inspection. There is something soothing about cleaning a weapon, scraping off carbon and the smell of oil. In the Army, I never used a gun because guns are for civilians. I used a weapon and I learned to respect it just like I learned to respect my Drills. Fear and Awe.

That’s why we can’t solve any problems in this country. Our culture is toxic. We treat our rights like they came from Santa Claus, with no reverence or respect. That’s what I hear when people say “God-given.” That phrase takes away responsibility and ignores the real sacrifices made to make those rights a possibility. Soldiers dying in war, citizens protesting injustice, martyrs sacrificing themselves for higher causes. (And in reference to “God-given,” God sacrificed his Son for us, not so we can selfishly cling to what’s ours at the cost of others.)

I’m a Christian, which is hard to say now. I haven’t been to church in a long time. First it was because of our move, then because of the pandemic, then because of the behavior of so many prominent Christians who claimed their so-called rights were more important than loving their neighbor. I have a deep-rooted fear that I will walk into church and see that selfishness and it will shrivel whatever faith I have left. And I know that isn’t fair, that so many people of faith stepped up the last two years to take care of their communities, that they turned away from hateful ideologies that had infiltrated their churches. But on the other hand, I see people claim this is a Christian nation (it isn’t), I see politicians invoke their Christian faith while blatantly ignoring the tenets of Christ in pursuit of their own riches and infamy and Individualism. You cannot be an Individualist and claim Christ as your Savior. The ideologies are incompatible.

The last thing, the last awful thing I realized in my revelation, is that we need God back in schools. Years ago, I saw a meme after a school shooting that said something along the lines that school shootings happen because we took God out of school. That’s a horrific thing to say when parents are grieving for children. And it’s right for all the wrong reasons.

What people mean when they say “we need God in schools” is a Christian God, Bible study, and teacher-led prayer. So, you know, indoctrination. They want kids standing up and pledging allegiance to the flag to prove they aren’t communists. They don’t want Islamic Prayer or Jewish Prayer or Hindu or Buddhist or Seikh or Satanist, they only want Christian Prayer. And they think by forcing Christian prayer and Christian doctrine on young children, they will solve all their problems because it’s magic or something. And I’m not sorry, no. That’s not how faith works. What we actually need in schools is Love. God is Love, yes? God isn’t prayers and religious texts and specific dress codes or whatever. Look at forced religious doctrine in Islamic nations. How horrifying is it when we see the treatment of women in a theocracy? And we want to do that here? After the holy Founders deliberately and emphatically separated church and state? I mean, sure, sounds like a good idea to Christians, but what if the school goes with the wrong denomination? Can you imagine a Lutheran family sending their kid to a Baptist school? And this also assumes competent Christian teachers. Considering how much criticism teachers get for *checks notes* doing their jobs during a pandemic, I’m surprised anyone would consider them capable of teaching Christianity. Isn’t public education some kind of liberal indoctrination to turn all the children *queer* with books on penguins with two dads? No?

God is love. Put love in our schools and you don’t have to argue about religion. Love our teachers by supporting them emotionally and financially. Love the students with enrichment programs and support from faculty and admins and for the love of all that is holy, stop fussing over lunch debts and standardized tests. Love in our schools teaches our children to love and to know they are loved. And children who are loved, who feel loved, won’t find themselves beyond caring if they live or die.

At least I hope so.

In conclusion: stricter gun laws are a start, but we also need a stronger social safety net, loving community over selfish individualism, and the cultural understanding that RIGHTS = RESPONSIBILITIES.

And just so you know, I don’t want your guns. I don’t think criminals will be thwarted by state laws prohibiting guns. I think a federal ban on military grade weapons in civilian markets (to include police) will make it markedly difficult for your average suicidal, radicalized teenager to obtain them. I think we have the wealthiest military complex in the world so the idea that civilians having military-grade rifles will protect them against a tyrannical government armed with nukes is dangerously naive. I think the “militias” that turn up at 2nd Amendment rallies look like pathetic cosplay. I saw a meme that pointed out we protect important people, celebrities, and landmarks/events with guns, but failed to mention that those are almost always handguns. Handguns can still kill people and are responsible for a lot of toddler deaths, but they’re markedly absent as weapon of choice for mass executions. Except in video games and action movies, of course.

I am praying for the people suffering grief. Violence doesn’t end with a body count. The children in that school who survived will suffer long-term trauma. Parents, teachers, bus drivers, everyone feels the horror of a random shooting. My sister-in-law is a teacher with a student who lost their aunt and grandmother in Buffalo. I can’t fathom how anyone managed to drop their kid off at school last Wednesday. We keep saying this is the last time we can let this happen and before the echo of the words dies off it happens again. If you don’t believe gun laws can fix this, if you think that the solution is turning schools into high-security prisons, arming teachers, or just doing nothing because it can’t be stopped, I don’t know what to tell you. We’ve tried putting cops in schools, we’ve tried metal detectors and secure campuses and active shooter drills and it’s not working.

It’s not working.

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Filed under Ramblings, Rants

Executive Dysfunction

So the last thing I wrote was a huge angry rant about the Insurrection. Since then, I’ve settled into my new home and my new state, my toddler weaned off breastfeeding, I’ve been vaccinated, I’ve hung out with family, and I started working out on a semi-permanent basis (which is like semi-regular, but kind of from the opposite direction). My parents got to visit over the summer and I have been writing every day. My SO has been telling me about bullet-journaling for a while and at first I thought it would be Work. I don’t have the time or energy to work on things. But he asked me to read a book on it (The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll – Excellent) and since I place a lot of importance on other people reading what I recommend, I did. And I’m glad I did because it took something that seemed nebulous and time-consuming into something I could use. If you’re not familiar, bullet journals are just normal journals but instead of line each page has a dotted grid. This allows you to be more flexible with how you use the journal. You can stick to lines, you can make graphics and lists and get artistic or keep it very simplistic. Mine is more the later. Anyway, if you look up bullet journals on Pinterest, you’ll see what I mean. The first thing I had to do was decide What I Wanted to Journal (daily log, books read, crochet projects, yarn inventory, potty training, migraines, meal planning, and work outs). It seems like a lot, but the journaling has really helped, though it’s kind of funny looking back at my early logs as compared to what I’m writing now. I used to get 2-3 days to a page and now I’m lucky if I get a day finished in less than a page. It’s been a really convenient receptacle for my memory and a place to order my thoughts, prepare for important events, and in general vent my frustrations in a safe space. Don’t get me wrong, I like having this space but it isn’t private and it isn’t supposed to be. Everything I put on here is meant to be read, even if I risk upsetting people. The daily minutiae of my life is not only boring, it’s my life.

I titled this “Executive Dysfunction” for a reason, of course. A while ago I came across a Tumblr screenshot on Pinterest about how to manage executive dysfunction, which is when you know you should do something but you simply can’t. Now, this post was aimed at people with ADD/ADHD, which I am not, but it resonated with me anyway. With ADD/ADHD, executive dysfunction can be crippling especially because neurotypicals *refuse* to understand. They say I can’t do something and the response is inevitably “don’t be lazy, just do it.” It’s not laziness. It is the brain literally being unable to connect the impulse to the action. And it is very debilitating because you have to life hack your way to an atypical solution because to NT people there’s only one solution which is to just do it. That’s like telling a blind person to see by just opening their eyes. It doesn’t work that way. One post I saw was discussing dental hygiene. Person A knew she had to brush her teeth, that it was very important for her health, blah blah blah. But she loathed doing it every day and that made it this Mt Everest she had to face as part of her daily routine. She’s telling this to Person B who asks her what exactly about the task bothers her the most and after some thought, Person A says it’s the toothpaste. She absolutely abhors the taste of mint. So Person B reminds her that kids toothpaste comes in all kinds of not-gross flavors and is STILL TOOTHPASTE. *lightbulb* Another one I saw was someone who was constantly late and instead of getting all flustered or setting a million alarms, she just put a clock in every room in her house.

The thing to take away from this life hack is that this approach is not limited to people with executive dysfunction. We are all very different people who face all kinds of obstacles in our lives so the last thing we should be doing is approaching those obstacles the way everyone else does. This applies to every aspect of our lives: dieting, education, careers, exercise, parenting, hobbies, E V E R Y T H I N G.

Haven’t you ever worked at something and seen no progress and then given up because you just don’t have the will-power or determination or genes or whatever? You look around and see that this works for everyone and somehow isn’t working for you, right? We live in a society that loves to stalk the successes of other people and shame ourselves for not achieving more, even when we’re looking at people who have trust funds and personal trainers and nutritional dieticians and stylists and publicists and good genes to boot. There’s that American Fable of the guy who dropped out of school and became a billionaire by inventing something in a garage, all very impressive. Except when you find out that the start-up for that invention was funded by their millionaire parents.

I decided to look at one of my obstacles through the lens of executive dysfunction instead of laziness or procrastination. I am fat. I gained 50 lbs when I was pregnant, lost 25 of that when I had the baby, and then during the pandemic ballooned back up to my baby weight. This isn’t something that happened overnight or anything, and I’ve been in a gradual decline in physical health since leaving the Army because I swore never to run again and I simply couldn’t stick to a workout routine. I’d try getting gym memberships and doing classes, thinking that if I was paying to workout I’d be more motivated to keep it up. Nope. I tried at home workout where I just planned a routine for myself. Nope. I bought work out clothes and weights. Nope. I started again and again and every time, when the manic push was over, I’d go back to sleep or skip it just today and then tomorrow and then it’d be weeks and weeks and months of nothing. Then years of nothing because I was too tired from having a newborn then a baby then a toddler. Protip: You will never get past the tired from having the newborn. If you didn’t have the time or energy before, you won’t have it after because you won’t get fully rested until they’re grown and by that time you’ll be twenty years older than when you decided to put it off until after the baby.

So here I am, ten years out of the military having gone from being pretty in shape to woefully out of shape. My wedding ring doesn’t fit. I get winded going up the stairs. I had to buy leggings because I couldn’t face buying bigger jeans. And every time I looked in the mirror, I saw some fat woman where I used to be. I’m not being dramatic, there is a complete disconnect between how my brain thinks I look and how I actually look and it is physically jarring sometimes. I’d like to sit here and say that I love myself anyway, that the shape of me doesn’t dictate my quality. That is true. I’m not fishing for compliments and I’m not body shaming. I am heavier than I want to be and that has a lot more to do with my mobility than anything else. I mean, yes, my vanity is hurting right now, but I’m a grown person so I can deal with that. But guys, have you ever tried to keep up with a 3yo? They are aaaaallllllll energy (that they steal from us) and there is no explaining that Mommy’s heart is fit to burst if we don’t take a break from running laps on the back porch. And that’s just now. What about in a few years with team sports? What about in a decade when we want to hike mountains? What about when they need help moving into a new house or watching their 200lb great dane puppy or just want to go on a walk to their favorite coffee place just down the block? I can’t here and risk losing my kid because I simply can’t keep up.

But *still* the motivation to get up and doing eluded me. Despite all the self-loathing I was feeling, I still couldn’t get past this obstacle: I don’t stick to workout routines. I get motivated one day and then in a week or two it fizzles out. Every time, regardless of what I tried. This time, instead of just going with something and hoping I stayed motivated enough to stick with it, I started asking myself WHAT IS STOPPING ME? Basically, what are my excuses? I want to be healthy, I want to lose weight and fit into my jeans, so why don’t I just do it? Aw, there we go. I have always thought of it as that simple equation. I know what I have to do so I should just do it. The human brain is never that simple and shame on me for using the same tired playbook on myself. It’s not that easy, it never is, and there is NEVER just one way to do it so there’s no such thing as “just do it.”

Here is what I did: I made a list of what’s stopping me.

  1. I’m too Tired
  2. I’m too Sore
  3. Migraine
  4. Apathy
  5. Boredom
  6. Toddler

Then I countered each obstacle.

  1. I’m too Tired – You’re up anyways, why not (I have to wake up with my son and he’s always up by 9:00)
  2. I’m too Sore – Stretch, take your time
  3. Migraine – yoga or just stretching, take care of yourself
  4. Apathy – yoga, stretch, or meditate, DO SOMETHING
  5. Boredom – lots of variety
  6. Toddler – Only do workouts that don’t require a sitter

I looked at all my excuses and found a contingency plan for them. My kid is a big obstacle because I can’t just workout only when there’s someone to watch him. That’s an obstacle that can easily turn into a well maybe I’ll skip today since the hubby can’t watch him. Besides which, I want him to see me working out because eventually he’s gonna need that habit, too. Is it annoying to have to pause the workout sometimes because he wants his cereal or he wants to sit on my back during a plank? Yes. Do I still think it’s important that he sees me establishing healthy habits? Yes. I workout in the morning after we’re up for the day. I don’t wake up at dawn or whatever because NO. I have enough bad nights and dumb early mornings thanks to my kid, I don’t need to do it to myself. And if I can only workout at stupid early times then it’s not going to happen. I did 6am PT for 6+yrs, I’m not doing it now. The workout itself was another important obstacle. When I really thought about it, I knew I couldn’t be a gym rat. I don’t like the performance of it, as it is a performance for me. I have to get the right clothes and shoes and look like I know what I’m doing and I spend the whole time fixated on what other people are seeing me doing because I am a narcissist and I can’t imagine them NOT looking at me. It’s distracting AND it gives me another opportunity to nope out of my workout. I’m trying to find the way of least resistance and if I have to get dressed, brush my teeth, get in the car and get to the gym, that’s 4 different moments where my brain could say well, maybe I’ll skip today and just get donuts. Stream-lined routine is I roll out of bed, get the toddler to the potty, throw on a sports bra and workout shirt over my pj pants, and grab a pair of socks in case I need shoes for my workout. Figuring out the routine was actually the easy part. I didn’t want to go full P90X or Crossfit because obviously if I can’t move the next day, that’s another excuse not to workout. Instead, I found a website (darebee.com) that has free workout programs that you can print out. I found one for 30 Days of Yoga which was perfect since my goal was Establish a Routine first, get fit second. That killed the “too sore” excuse as it was a beginner course and hardly anything that would challenge me, even after being out of shape for so long. Yoga, I might add, is just a wonderful way to get moving. I will never be the person twisted into a pretzel, but I can touch my toes now and I have a simple routine I can run through that is just stretching so I don’t have to worry about sore muscles the next day or sweating or anything. I don’t know how it is at losing weight or anything, that’s not what I used it for. But if you’re looking for an intro to working out that is low-stress, low-impact, and in general very soothing, go for yoga or ballet. Just keep it to beginner classes and keep in mind that inflexibility is absolutely NOT an obstacle.

After 30 days of yoga, I added a light workout routine from the website paired with another yoga routine. And every time I started a new program, I went back to my journal to log it, which included restating or reassessing my goals. Goals, you ask? What goals? Well, after I looked at my excuses I had to decide what I wanted to achieve. This isn’t some kind of silly dream board or anything, it was a list of real, tangible things I wanted for myself. I want my wedding ring to fit. I don’t want to be winded going up the stairs. I want to recognize myself in the mirror. I want to fit in my jeans. What’s my timeline for these things? Oh, I don’t have one. I don’t have a weight goal or a size goal or anything like that. I’m not bogged down in results because THAT my friends is a TRAP. “I’m not seeing the results I want so it must not be working so I might as well quit.” OR there are results I can’t see and couldn’t be measured by any metric we use even if I could see them. The real goal is the habit, which I can maintain now since I didn’t force it. I didn’t change my routine, I just avoid sitting on the couch for the first 20-30 min of the day. I’m on my 5th 30-day program, sort of. After doing 3 progressively more challenging 30-day programs from Darebee, I was getting a bit of the apathy bug, so I downloaded the Fiton App and created a program off my goals and such. It’s a nice app, which helped me get over my worry about video workouts (always make me self conscious and I was concerned the toddler would want to watch them, too). The instructors are nice and the music isn’t annoying and they don’t have a class full of people behind them doing all the workouts better than me, so it’s kind of low key like having a personal trainer who isn’t judging me.

Have I been 100% successful? Hahahaha no. I’ve skipped days. For good reasons, for bad reasons, for Reasons. I missed a full week in July because I went on vacation. And two weeks ago, I got stuck with a migraine that is STILL IN RESIDENCE. I’m sure you saw one of my obstacles/excuses is migraines, which I started getting with some regularity in my 20s. Sometimes, I can do the workout anyway, especially if it’s yoga or stretching or something. But I can’t just power through if I have a bad migraine and since they’re pretty much a normal part of my life, I have to accept that I will skip workout days because of them and all that means is that I sometimes miss a day. It’s not a catastrophe. It happens and that’s fine. Now, the migraine I’ve had for 2 weeks took me out 2 days in a row last week and is lingering hard this week, so I am actually going to try to see a doctor next week since this is unprecedented and it sucks donkey dong, excuse my French. But, forget all that. It is AUGUST. I have been working out regularly for SEVEN MONTHS. And I have lost barely any weight! I mean, I think, I don’t really check because weight is only one metric to gauge your health. Am I seeing results? No. I still see that fat woman in the mirror. Am I feeling results? YES. I CAN TOUCH MY TOES. I’m not sprinting up the stairs, but I can make both flights with the laundry instead of needing a break between. Has it only been good days? FK NO. I cried during a splits workout because my body simply didn’t respond and I felt so mortified even though there was literally no one to see me. 100% bawling on my dining room carpet because flexibility is my kryptonite. And I did the next workout after that one to make myself feel better AND IT DID.

The long and short of it is, I may not be succeeding at dropping those unwanted pounds yet but I am not a failure by a long shot and it’s because I took this struggle that I had been looking at as a moral failing and reframed it as a brain-body dysfunction and IT WORKED. What I want you to take away from this long rambling nonsense is that when you aren’t meeting your goals, instead of berating yourself you need to reframe the obstacles. “Why can’t I do this?” is already blaming yourself AND labeling yourself a failure. You’re setting up the imaginary ideal of Every One Else Who Can with you stuck at The Only One Who Can’t and that is a non-starter. Try instead “What do I need to do,” then “Why do I need to do it,” then “What is Stopping Me.” Those questions are important because if you can’t enunciate the reasons behind your goals you will never fully embrace them. They’ll always be that great book everyone told you to read but you never got around to it. Your reasons don’t have to be high-minded or altruistic or anything. They just have to be real. Once you get down to the foundations of your why, you can begin to really focus on your why nots (what’s stopping me). And when you figure out your why nots, you can tackle them with strategies that will work rather than what works for everyone else.

My toddler is home from being out with Daddy, so I need to go. Good Luck on your Obstacles!

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Albums and Bands I Love For Weird Reasons

Puppettron's Blog

This month, I asked my Patreon which of three topics to write about, because it’s a lot easier to pick stuff far in advance these days than it is to just write what’s on my mind. Not that I don’t just write what’s on my mind, far from it. But crises and world events are flying around so fucking quickly these days that by the time I put together a blog, I’ve either got a cold take on something that happened a couple of weeks ago or a medium take on something that happened literally the day before. Plus, with the Patreon’s 3 day preview timer, the Patrons have access to my takes while they’re fresh, but the regular people have access to what I said 3 days earlier. And while that could be a viable model to drive more people into my Patreon, the fact of the matter…

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On Riots and Insurrection: Language Warning

A friend today asked me if I was ok. Not because he was worried, but because he was expecting me to be spitting fire about the insurrection in DC yesterday. And if you ask my husband I was, to the point where I had to put down my cross stitch (my newest hobby, don’cha know) and take some deep breaths. But I’ve been radio silent on social media except to share the daily newsletter of a historian I follow (Heather Cox Richardson, slight Democratic bias, but very informative and insightful).

I have been on Facebook almost constantly, though, doom scrolling away, reading the comments of the “unfollow me now” posts and the “those people don’t represent us” and the general nastiness that happens on social media when one side feels justified and the other feels defensive. My mantra has been (for months now) Don’t Engage With People You Don’t Know. I made that mistake over the summer when I got in a sparring match against someone on a friend’s page who turned out to be his close family. I had crossed a line without realizing it because I was too focused on how clever and right I was. Even when that’s true, it’s no excuse to go after someone I don’t know from Adam.

Anyway, here are my thoughts. MLK said that “a riot is the language of the unheard” and that still holds true. This last summer we saw some rioting and looting (which is shocking considering how angry and pent up everyone was), but we also saw millions of people participating in peaceful protests for months. And nothing fucking changed. We watched people tear apart Target and cops shooting rubber bullets at pregnant women and reporters. We saw children maced. We saw atrocities and rebellion and violence and we bickered about it on social media as though any of it would matter. The cop who shot Jacob Black in the back seven times IN FRONT OF HIS KIDS is not being charged because the DA hasn’t ever had a job where he felt his life was in danger. What. The. Fuck does that have to do with ANYTHING.

What is even the point of being angry anymore? What does it change? I’ve been angry for months? Years? I’ve watched powerful people make billions off a pandemic and then continued to give them my money because I need stuff they sell. I’ve watched conspiracy theories profligate because the media and people who should know better overtly support them since it gets them more views and more power. I’ve seen my friends share hateful memes and spread lies because it made them feel better about “their side.”

And now this. Fucking Trump and his Fucking Base cosplaying Wyatt Fucking Earp (or whatever) strolling into the Capitol so they can selfie how badass they are. They took down an American flag and put up a Trump flag. Remember when Kaepernick knelt for the Anthem and you burned your jersey? Are you burning your MAGA hats and flags and political yard signs yet?

Wanna know the difference between a riot and insurrection? Intent. I don’t know who was rioting this summer or what their intent was besides lashing out. I don’t actually care. I was pissed off (outraged, you might say) at the time because goddammit they were finally getting the world stage and some greedy, pathetic fucks thought, Guess I’ll get a tv, or some shit. Regardless. Those mother fuckers yesterday brought bombs and molotov cocktails and zip tie cuffs so they could take fucking hostages. That’s intent. And just because they didn’t have the balls to do anything more than light vandalism and tourist rebellion doesn’t mean they should be let off. They brought their goddamn Confederate/Nazi propaganda into the Capitol with the explicit purpose of disrupting a sanctioned act of democracy. Fuck. Them.

But I digress. What I meant to say is I’m sorry we didn’t listen. I’m sorry we laughed at your cockamamie conspiracy theories and brushed you off as kooks. I’m sorry we unfollowed/unfriended you so all you had was your fucking echo chamber to scream hate into. But you’re still fucking cosplayers who actually breached the Capitol and did fuck-all to change anything. How embarrassing. How many times have you chuckleheads stormed a government building and then left without doing a goddamn thing? You didn’t even get into a shootout with the feds and the votes were still certified mere hours later. The Bolsheviks murdered the whole royal family and ya’ll had a guy tase himself to death. P a t h e t i c.

Now, to the rest of you. I don’t know anyone who was cheering them on. I’m sure there were plenty, but they aren’t my people. The Line in the Sand People, I am glad you feel angry enough to speak your mind. Continue to do that. Call people on their bs. Use the Socratic Method, though. Trying to argue doesn’t work, which is why we keep unfriending everybody and nothing changes. When somebody spouts lies, fact check them with reputable sources. When somebody makes a statement that you disagree with, ask questions. What do you mean by that? Ok, what do you mean by that? Basically, question them into unraveling their own argument. Keep it simple, as paragraphs of counter-argument means they can focus on or misinterpret one small thing and do their own paragraph response that doesn’t actually argue against you. Anyone who tried explaining white privilege to white people this summer has experienced this and it never convinces anyone of a goddamn thing.

The unfollow/unfriend ultimatums, I get it but there’s literally no risk/reward there. I don’t notice when people unfriend/unfollow me. I have lots of friends and I really only consistently see posts from a few dozen? So if I lost friends because I support BLM and social justice and trans lives and comprehensive social programs, I might never know. I’ve seen several fights break out in the comment sections of those Unfriend Me posts, but most people will see that ultimatum and not even hesitate to Bye Felicia. Why fight when you can just disappear? No confrontation necessary and they can rest safe in the belief that they are right and that their former friend was just being unreasonable (it’s such a shame, I thought I knew them so well). I’m not saying don’t draw a line in the sand. Just be aware that the consequences aren’t nearly so dire that people will change their beliefs/politics/whatever just to continue seeing your humorous memes and cute cat photos.

To the They Don’t Represent Me crowd. You’re feeling defensive. I remember that feeling when cities were on fire this summer. If you feel the phrase “I don’t condone them but” forming in your mind, Walk Away. What you are about to post is some pathetic attempt to excuse any guilt by association you have while also placing the Real Blame on someone else. I get the impulse, but it doesn’t work. When violence broke out we said most protests are peaceful (which was true) and opponents still used the actions of a few to dismiss the will of millions. When we tried whataboutisms (what about the armed lockdown protests that blocked hospitals during a pandemic?), opponents rightly yelled False Equivalency. Those just circle the blame ad nauseum. When we tried reason and statistics, they called us liars and fakes and selfish millenials. Now I’m hearing the exact same weak shit and I’m begging you to stop.

I. Don’t. Care. The “Not All ###” defenses are tired. Not All Men. Not All Cops. Not All White People. Not All Republicans/Conservatives/Trumpies. Just stop. That’s not a fucking defense, it’s whining. Instead of complaining about how unfair it is to be lumped in with these people who look and sound and act like you but certainly aren’t, take Responsibility. That means demanding accountability for those who claim your tribe but misrepresent it. So cops calling out bad cops, men calling out toxic masculinity, white people calling out white privilege, and All of Us calling out “our side” when they’re spreading bs. Someone says they heard Antifa was actually behind the insurrection, Google it. If Associated Press didn’t say it, don’t believe it. And then go back to that person and correct them. Police your own damn people. Why bother rocking the boat? Just cuz you don’t say anything doesn’t mean you agree with it, right? Doesn’t mean you disagree either, Karen, but staying silent means you don’t get to decide which it is. Correcting your own people is more effective because of a major factor in our cognitive reasoning. It’s called implicit bias. You get spot-checked by the enemy and they’re lying/drinking the kool-aid/just being contrary. You get spot-checked by your own people and you’re more likely to believe them because they don’t have an agenda against you. That is how we Fix This Reality Split. The alternative is what we’ve been doing. Yelling at each other until we quit because there’s no use. Unfriend, unfollow, block, and create alternate realities that are so fundamentally different that we can’t even talk any more unless we know everyone in the room is in the same reality. STOP IT. IT DOESN’T FUCKING WORK. (This is not to say remain friends/family with people who are toxic/bad for your mental health and well-being. Those people can fuck right off.)

This (hopefully) final section is for the Enablers in the Government. You. Mother. Fuckers. You played with people to get more power and in the process, hundreds of THOUSANDS of people died. You encouraged conspiracy theories for your own ends, incited violence, and fucked with our democracy to line your pockets. You used a pandemic to rake in millions in money while letting your constituents starve because of some bullshit individualistic philosophy that you don’t even fucking practice. All of you fuckers DESERVED the violence today. And I do mean ALL. There are consequences for your words and actions or lack thereof and today was the first time any of you experienced that. Millions of people marched this summer and nothing changed because of lobbyists and private donors and unwieldy messaging/verbage. 350,000 people died while you all bickered from the safety of your universal healthcare and guaranteed paychecks. Your people have been screaming for months and instead of doing your jobs, you fanned the flames to get more votes. Fuck. You. You talk about change and do nothing. You talk about values and have none. You talk talk TALK about how the other side is fucking us over. 350,000 people dead because one side was flippant about a plague and the other side couldn’t stop being smug about how dumb that was. Real fucking mature. People were scared about losing their lives (either from the viris or the economy) and instead of compassion, you m o c k e d them. Instead of solutions, you pointed fingers. I’d ask how you sleep at night but I imagine it’s on silk sheets in your mansion. Again, and I mean this with my whole heart FUCK YOU. Be grateful it was just the cosplayers who broke into the Capitol today and not actual revolutionaries.

AND ANOTHER THING. To all you irresponsible news outlets, FUCK YOU SIDEWAYS. Reporting rumors and theories as if they’re facts, amplifying conspiracy theories by talking about them constantly, giving Trump a platform 24/7 either by being his mouthpiece or repeating his bs for shock value, letting op eds replace journalism, and pandering to the fringe, all of that has to stop. I can’t stomach it any more. Take the news out of your fucking names. You aren’t reporters, you aren’t journalists, you aren’t news. I get more accurate news from Trevor Noah and he hosts an actual Fake News Program. And hey, I know you go with what sells because you have zero integrity, and what sells is Scandal, Sex, Conspiracy, etc. You are merely a reflection of what the consumer wants. But you know what? My toddler wants to eat cheese ALL DAY. Do I let him? Fuck yeah, have you ever met a toddler? Do I also make sure he eats other things like bananas and raisins and drinks water so he’s still healthy? Fuck yeah. Cuz I’m a responsible fucking adult and I don’t wanna be on a Mom Page asking about the symptoms of rickets. I like cheese and I like that he likes cheese, but I know giving him ONLY what he wants has bad consequences. Is this analogy working for you or do I need more make up and hairspray and a non-regional dialect to get it across? Do. Your. Job. Or. Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

Guys. Guys. I am so tired. I have a toddler who doesn’t sleep and is potty training. I am 35 years old and I have to chase him around a playground in 34°F weather and then make him eat something besides cheese. I have been in a low simmer rage all year and I have lost all my creative drive and I have to be my husband and son’s only friend because we just moved to a new state in a pandemic and we can’t make friends because of fucking covid. Please. Just burn this country down already. I can’t take the suspense.

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The first thing I learned in Lit Theory was that the relationship between the Signifier and the Signified was completely arbitrary and it blew my mind. This is the theory of Semiotics and quite frankly it makes a huge difference on how I look at language as a whole. Basically, we have words for things (signifiers) and we have things (signified) and there is literally no logical connection between them, no fixed state. The word is not the thing and vice versa.

Completely lost yet? Yeah, that’s how everyone starts with this theory. So I’ll give you the example my professor used to make it less foggy. Take the word “chair.” You know what a chair is. You can picture it in your mind. And even if everyone in the room with you is picturing a different chair, they are all essentially a chair. There must be, then, a Universal Chair, one which embodies the word and is imbued with the word at the same time. Except, well, no there isn’t. The word chair has a basic definition, true. But it is also burdened with connotations. Let’s look at a synonym for chair, “throne.” Now, a throne is definitely a chair, right? But is a chair a throne? Not really, no. Throne has different connotations. If you follow this logically, moving from synonym to synonym it is possible to eventually reach a word that is absolutely not a synonym for chair. Or to think of it in another way, we could translate the word “chair” to a different language. I went onto Google Translate and did just that. I went English to Spanish to Chinese to Russian to Scottish/Gaelic. And then I noticed that when I switched the Russian back to Gaelic, the words changed. So I went back and forth between them a few more times and then translated the Gaelic back to English. Suddenly the word was “home.” I could probably stretch my thinking to where home and chair are synonyms, but it’s a pretty far stretch. Language is pretty neat like that.

What this means is that the word “chair” and the object “chair” are not intrinsically linked. In other words, all language is made up and each and every word is encumbered with rich meaning and history. When we name things, we define them and those definitions shape them. But we must never forget that the name itself is arbitrary. The name isn’t the thing. The thing isn’t the name. The words change, the meanings change and this is absolutely the way it should be.

I started with that because I want to talk about race, color, heritage, and identity. These words are powerful and dangerous and sticky. They are not synonyms for each other and should not be treated as such. Are they connected? Yes, as are all words. That is the nature of language. But we need to divorce ourselves from the notion that it is all one and the same.

Heritage and Identity are big words. I may touch on them later.

Race and Color are also big words. I’ll deal with those now.

To lay out my credentials, I have none. I read stuff. I have a bachelors in English. I am white. I have no right to speak on this, but I’m gonna.

Race and color are not the same thing. Race is a social construct. Color has to do with skin pigmentation. The connection between the two is arbitrary, just like the word “chair” and the object “chair.” You probably already know this if you think about it.

When Europeans colonized (re: raped and pillaged indigenous civilizations in a quest for power and resources) the world, they did so under the banner of spreading civilization and the Christian faith. I’m generalizing, of course. That’s a huge chunk of history that includes hundreds of years and dozens of empires, but that’s the gist of it. Europeans needed resources and the best way to get them was to discover new lands, that coincidentally had been discovered thousands of years before by other people. And instead of abiding by the dibs rules, they decided to bring plague and slavery to the natives. They called it civilizing the savages, even when those savages were significantly further along in the indoor plumbing department. And then they had to justify all the violence, because even in those days you couldn’t just enslave a people without good reason. Ah, well, they’re savages, they aren’t really people. How do we know, well, LOOK THEY’RE BROWN.

Now I am definitely conflating the conquest of the New World (the Americas) and the colonizing of Africa, India, Australia, etc, which are not precisely the same thing. The motivations are the same (Europeans want more stuff), but it’s not like Europeans forgot that there were brown-shaded people when they traipsed across the Atlantic. People with darker skin-tones have always existed and Europe was never some kind of pale utopia wherein a time traveling sunscreen salesman could be king. For all of human history, race wasn’t a thing. Color was, sure, definitely not contesting that. But race? Nyope. Do I have sources for this? I have a NatGeo article which is very interesting and points out that scientific racism wasn’t a thing until the 1800s.


There are actually a ton of articles on the subject and most of them seem to agree that the concept of race as we understand it is incredibly new. And it’s confusing really. Cuz we have this idea that people can identify as their race. I’m white. Other people are Black or Asian or Indian or Middle Eastern or Hispanic or First Peoples and you know what they are because they look like their race, right? That guy is black because he looks black. I’m white because I look white. But again, we all picture that Universal Chair and it turns out we mean home.

Race isn’t synonymous with skin color and the proof is the concept of “passing.” Now how is passing as another race possible if color and race are inherently linked? Someone who passes as white can still be black or Hispanic or Native. To be defined as POC, all you need is one POC in your bloodline (defined, not identify, which is something else). To be defined as white, you can’t have any. Which is impossible since all bloodlines started in Africa. If you’re a white supremacist, DO NOT get one of those ancestor DNA tests. You will be very disappointed. No, nevermind, do it. Enjoy some reality. (Did you know that some DNA tracing businesses will falsify data for customers who refuse to believe they have any African heritage?!?)

But wait, if race doesn’t exist according to science, how can people identify as a race? I’m glad you asked. It’s pretty complicated. You see, when Europeans colonized places, they gave priority treatment to pale people. And then they came up with science that made that okay because the not-pale people were OBVIOUSLY a different species. They labeled people, created boxes for specific characteristics and then said THIS BOX IS BLACKS AND THEY ARE INFERIOR AND YOU CAN TELL THAT BECAUSE THEY’RE DARK-SKINNED. In this way, colonizers not only justified the murder and enslavement of entire civilizations, they convinced the conquered people that they deserved to be murdered and enslaved because they didn’t look European. This was totally new. You murder and enslave people for land and ideology, not because they look different (I’m guessing).

Think of it this way. Some people like to point out that a lot of the slaves sold in Africa were sold by natives. See?!? Savages! Blacks sold their OWN KIND! Except that assumes that Africans are all one people when they are in fact the most diverse continent on the planet. They weren’t selling their own kind, they were selling slaves from other tribes. Slavery has been around a loooooong time and just about every civilization has had a hand in it. It was only in the recent past that it became hereditary, but I digress.

So Europeans invent race. We are good because we are White. You are bad because you are Black/Asian/First Peoples/etc. If you aren’t white, you are secondary, subservient, less than. Even in your own country. Even if you outnumber the white colonizers. Even if you have generations of much better personal hygiene and sophisticated calendars and managed to sail to your land in tiny boats while white people were still figuring out the Sun doesn’t orbit the Earth. And Europeans propagated this message for generations. They erased entire languages, cultures, and peoples trying to force homogeneity. Not to make everyone white (which is impossible from the white perspective because having a drop of POC blood means you aren’t white no matter how white you dress, talk, act), but to make everyone want to be white.

White is basic, normal, the standard. The only proof you need of whiteness is to look white. By that I mean you have pale skin and European facial features. Whiteness has more to do with skin color than any other “race.” That’s how it is possible to “pass” as white, a social strategy most commonly used to escape being not-white. Imagine that concept? To be a POC, all you have to admit to is one non-European ancestor. To be white, you have to erase 200,000 years of human history. And I know that feels like a leap, it’s simply math. When a white slave owner raped an African slave, the children were half black and still slaves. When those children were raped by a white slave owner, their children were a quarter black. When those children were raped by a white slave owner, their children with an eighth black, and so on. You can approach whiteness but never achieve it.

And not to put too fine a point on it, the slave (Sally Hemings) who bore Thomas Jefferson’s bastards and is the reason Jefferson is a common surname in the Black community, was three-quarters European and still somehow Black by race. She was also probably Martha Jefferson’s half sister, so you know, ew.

I have a friend who I served with for most of my military career and I was shocked (SHOCKED I tell you) to discover pretty early on that he was Black. He’s as pale as I am and has blond hair and blue eyes. But his father is Black and apparently if he grows his hair out it’s an afro. But when he enlisted, his recruiter told him to write down that he was White. Because it would be easier. That was only 20 years ago.

Which brings me to Black Africans. Black Americans have the distinct (what’s the opposite of privilege?) of being descendants of dark-skinned people who were kidnapped from their native land and forced to work to death for several generations. This great sin sundered our nation according to an arbitrary designation of race and has left devastating, unendurable damage to our people. We will never heal from it because we continue to cover the wound with diseased bandages and telling ourselves that the noxious smell is just bad apples. But anyway, when we (the ruling White class) legally defined slaves as Black because it didn’t matter what nation/people they came from, we erased their heritage. When we took their names and their children and their futures and their pasts, we erased their identity until all they had was the word Black to define who they were. And they took that word and remade it into their identity based on a shared trauma. That’s pretty damn neat.

But what about Black Africans. If Black Pride is rooted in the shared trauma of slavery, does that mean Black Africans are excluded from that pride? Knee-jerk reaction was no, of course not. Why? Well, they’re still Black. Obviously. What a stupid questions! Just look at them… ah, that’s right. Race and Color are not synonymous. Hmmm.

That right there is the problem with Euro-American, white-centric education. I learned barely anything about my own nation’s filthy racial histories and nothing at all about the rest of the world. Slavery in America didn’t exist in a bubble, apparently, and racial inequity was the norm in most of the world thanks to the British Empire (and the French and Spanish and Portugese and Dutch). Colonialism plagued the whole planet, not just the Americas. POC’s suffered under brutal, racist regimes for centuries and that left lasting, irreversible trauma. Black Pride, Native Pride, Indian Pride, that all stems from shared trauma at the hands of Whites. They flourish in spite of an entire system engineered to make them fail. That’s something to be proud of.

Right now I’m reading a book called Black Skins, White Masks by Frantz Fanon, who was a French West Indies psychiatrist and political philosopher in the middle of the 20th century. It goes over my head somewhat (neither philosophy nor psychology being strong suits of mine), but it is giving me incredible insight into the generational psychological trauma of colonialism on Black people. It is disheartening to read about all his pain and anger throughout the text, relaying the same dehumanizing treatment many of the Black community are still dealing with almost 70 years later. This is looking at what it is to be Black outside of America and it is literally no different. Trust me, Blackness doesn’t exclude based on geological origins.

I’m running out of steam on this and I appreciate you for sticking with me. I know this sort of meandered all over and probably doesn’t make a bit of difference in the grand scheme of things. The people who need to understand these concepts won’t read this. To be fair, a lot of people won’t read this because I don’t have a lot of followers. But it was something I had to parse out for myself and maybe this will help others put into words exactly what is wrong about any calls for White Pride.

All lives can’t matter until Black lives matter.


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An Anecdote on Anecdotes

Anecdotal evidence is not evidence. Without further evidence, it cannot prove or disprove anything. We are constantly seeing stories from people, first-hand, third-hand, allegorical, all trying to get you to connect emotionally with a cause. And it works. It also, well, doesn’t work. Mostly it backfires because these stories are based on one person’s perspective. That perspective may be echoed by dozens, hundreds, thousands, even millions of people. But it also contradicts the first-hand/etc perspectives of their detractors. I’ll give you an example.

I’m sure you remember when the Redskins football team was receiving a ton of pressure to change their mascot to something less racist. Lots of First People protestor organizations have been trying to get professional teams to abandon mascots that are based off harmful stereotypes and racial slurs. Now, to me, a white woman, it makes total sense in the 21st century to ditch RACIAL SLURS when representing your teams. Especially when the live representative of that slur is a racial stereotype. Plus, if you change the team name, you get to sell so much new merch. Everybody has to rebuy their fave jersey or whatever. Now, I wasn’t following this story too closely because I don’t care about sports. I do distinctly remember a game where a group of First Nation Redskin fans were paraded on the field because they didn’t find the mascot offensive. Sort of a, “See? How can it be racist if THESE GUYS are fans?!?” thing.

I remember this because I felt betrayed. Which is weird for a lot of reasons (I’m white and not a sports fan, for example), but I thought here at last was a clear-cut moment in history where we can grow and move on from a dark place. And they pulled the classic But Some of my Best Fans are Natives excuse, with live examples. How could they (the Natives) betray their people like that?!? How could they betray ME?!? Because now I can’t feel good about the cause since there are people on the other side who have a right to argue against it. (Yes, I cringed writing that, I’m a narcissist and these are the types of “first thoughts” I struggle with.) What right did they have to demonstrate that First Peoples are not a monolith and can have widely varying views on things that have absolutely nothing to do with me?!? (Edited to add: boy, is this ever topical now.)

What’s my point? Ah, well, we are dealing with huge social issues this century. HUGE. POC rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, Women’s rights, and so much of it is bogged down with anecdotes. Now, it’s one thing for a person to share their experience (say a woman sharing her story of workplace harassment) and having it discounted by someone who has no right to comment (in this case, typically a man who thinks women love his sexist jokes). It’s another thing to have someone of the same stripe (in my example, another woman) contradicting the account because that isn’t something they have experienced.

To the first example, the challenge is pretty clear. Convince that person/s that THIS IS A PROBLEM when it is an issue that they will never be affected by and they most often have absolutely no reference for empathy. Take PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), for instance. There are women who have been fighting for years to convince actual doctors that they have a serious medical condition. They are told REPEATEDLY that they are imagining severe symptoms or just exaggerating what is simply a bad period. If you know nothing about PCOS, I invite you to google away because it is f*cking awful and has a wide range of debilitating side effects. But since the majority of medicine is focused on keeping white men healthy, there is a huge research gap in women/POC health. In order for concerns to be legitimized, a lot of people have to make noise about it. Continuously. Until people in the upper eschelons of medical research decide it is worth looking into. It’s pretty horrific that this is a problem in a modern, first world country, but it has a lot to do with the fact that a majority of doctors for a long time were men and had no first hand experience with POC or women’s health in practical applications. Medical texts were written by men. Medical students were taught by men. Medical care is so biased towards white males that it is NEWS that women have completely different symptoms for heart attacks. It wasn’t that long ago that the cure for anxiety in women was a hysterectomy. And we are just now beginning to dismantle the damage done by men taking over obstetrics from midwives (because a male doctor is way more qualified to handle reproductive health than a profession built on generations of female experience).

So you make noise by sharing your experience and then comes the research and statistics and whatever else to prove that you were right! And now you have to take that scientific evidence and cram it under the nose of Every. Single. Doctor and medical professional you can. And you share your story on social media, through blogs and Facebook posts and Twitter and whatever else. And AMAZINGLY, you find a huge community of people who say YES THAT IS MY EXPERIENCE, TOO. Even better, you receive empathy from people who are in that first category, ignorant of the issue because they haven’t been directly affected by it. You’re story somehow resonated with them! Faith in humanity restored, right?

Well, no. Because along with all those positive responses from people who are so grateful to have a word to define what they’ve been going through, to have their struggle verified by your experience, there is always someone who says otherwise. You’re faking it, you’re being paid, you just want free stuff, you’re just playing the victim, nobody actually suffers like you do because I don’t. And I know because I’m a woman, too (substitute whatever social group applies here). You are gutted. This is not only a huge blow to your cause, but it makes you question your own experience. All these people just like me are calling me a liar and a fake. What if I am?

Good news! I’ll say it again. Anecdotal evidence is not evidence. That means that their experience, however genuine, does not invalidate yours. And vice versa. There are 7+ billion people on this planet and whenever we speak in generalities we will fail to encapsulate the perspectives of every single individual. There are entirely too many different variables to take into account. So, when people say that they know exactly how you feel/what you’ve been through, you can take that as validation. When people say that “I’m a woman and my period isn’t that bad get over yourself,” that doesn’t invalidate YOU and your struggle.

Now you may be wondering about the flip side of this. Say you are a doctor who doesn’t believe PCOS is a serious issue. But you see all these personal accounts from people saying that it is a serious issue and you’re conflicted. Then you see some op ed by someone who agrees with you and IT’S A WOMAN so you are now validated, right? Well, no. You forgot about the research findings, where scientists and doctors did serious study and found solid medical evidence that proves PCOS is a legitimate health condition, one that should be treated with compassion and more research to discover the cause and the cure.

Science is the deciding factor here, in this case and many, many others.

The world is currently on fire. Still. There are protests all over the world right now aimed at bringing justice and reform everywhere. Millions of people are making noise right now, this very moment because one person was killed in cold blood, on video, in broad daylight. And still we are arguing amongst ourselves about the existence of systemic racism and white privilege. Despite overwhelming scientific/historical evidence to the contrary.

I am not going to apologize for my privilege. I didn’t do anything to come by it. That’s like apologizing for having blond hair. I acknowledge that while my life isn’t perfect, I benefit from a racist system that considers whiteness the default and POC the “other.” And that isn’t based on my experience. You can’t base experience on the absence of evidence. I’ve never feared for my life during a traffic stop or been pulled over because I match the description of a criminal. I’ve never dealt with people deciding that I was accepted to a school to meet a minority quota or been “jokingly” called a diversity hire. I’ve never been murdered in the street and had people say I deserved it because I was on drugs a few days ago or had a history of arrests. I’ve never been told I need to abandon the way I speak and dress in order to be accepted as a human being. I have never experienced racism. I am not overtly racist. I can still benefit from a racist system.

I didn’t come to acknowledge my privilege just because I’m a bleeding-heart liberal who wants to be congratulated for my wokeness and guilt. I became aware first through the anecdotes of BIPOC, yes, but then through the scientific research done on the subject, which goes all the way back to the early 20th century. Black people average twice the unemployment rates of whites. Blacks are killed at twice the rate (by population) by cops as white. These aren’t opinions. They’re researched facts. Black schools have significantly lower funding. Black on Black crime is not significantly greater than White on White crime. Blacks are statistically more likely to end up in prison, get pulled over and ticketed for minor traffic violations, less likely to be approved for a loan, and on and on. The statistics are staggering. And this isn’t to say that these are black problems, like they’re all criminals or welfare queens or any other stupid stereotype. No, if you take two college graduates with exactly the same degree and grades, the one with the less black name will get more job offers. Banks have been found to be statistically more willing to loan to lower class white families than middle class black families.

Most of the primary ways that BIPOC are handicapped in our society can be traced directly to Jim Crow and slavery. It will take generations to undo the damage. Again, not an opinion based on my experience. Facts.

Today, my conservative friends are sharing videos of prominent black conservatives speaking out against the martyring of George Floyd and the false narrative of white privilege, saying that he was no saint and white privilege is just a new way of saying I’m better than black people. White privilege just encourages victimhood by telling black people they’re still shackled. George Floyd was high on drugs and once held a gun on a pregnant woman. And those conservative black folks are accused of being traitors to their own race (lots of references to house slaves). I can’t speak to that because, once again, I’m white. My opinion doesn’t matter in that sense.

What they and others say is typically based on their own experiences, i.e. I’m a black man and have never had trouble getting a loan/been followed in a store/dressed like a “thug.” Which people will take as confirmation that stories from black people about the racism they experience every day, even when they have video evidence, are a false narrative. They will use the anecdotes from one black person to invalidate the experience of another and feel righteously justified in doing so. It can’t be real because THIS PERSON WHO FITS THE DEMOGRAPHIC SAYS SO. Additionally, white people will deny the existence of white privilege in the same way, i.e. I’m white and I’ve had xyz happen so where’s my privilege?

Last time hopefully pays for all. ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE IS NOT EVIDENCE. Voter suppression isn’t a problem because people are telling you how long they waited in line to vote. It’s a problem because states are systematically finding ways to legally limit voting to certain demographics, for which we have plenty of evidence from competent researchers who investigate civil rights violations for a living. Trans rights isn’t an issue because of all the heart-wrenching tales of kids rejected by their families, it’s because they are literally being murdered for existing. BLM didn’t start protesting because Michael Brown was a saint but because he was not the first black person to be killed without just cause by someone who suffered no consequences and they wanted him to be the last. And he wasn’t, unfortunately. It’s not that the lives are taken, which is bad enough, but that the barest excuse is sufficient to exonerate the perpetrator.

Unfortunately, numbers can be made to lie and even when accurate, they are hard to connect emotionally to. That is where anecdotes are vital. They provide a path to empathy, without which the cause is lost.

The important thing to learn is we need to do research and we need to listen. LISTEN TO THEIR STORIES. And before you discount the experience of another person, figure out if you are the exception to the rule or under the jurisdiction of an entirely different set of rules.

And you know what? I’m sick of hearing white people weighing in on the experiences of BIPOC, myself included. I am sick of explaining something I can’t fully understand because it is not my experience. I’m sick of trying to get it across to my white friends that IT IS NOT ABOUT US. This story, this time, this is about people who don’t get the space to speak and we are yelling over them to make it about us. Our feelings. Our experiences. Our opinions. And that’s just it. It isn’t our feelings or experiences or opinions that matter. So maybe just stop b*tching about how all this hurts/insults/bothers you. LISTEN. TO. THEM.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/transformation/my-white-friend-asked-me-to-explain-white-privilege-so-i-decide/ (From 2017, guys)

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I Want to See Your Manager

Fair warning, gentle readers. There will be language.

I crochet when I get stressed. Or anxious. Or angry. Or bored. I crochet a lot because I enjoy it and it keeps my hands busy. I can’t scroll through social media for hours. I can’t get sucked into some game on my phone. It is my Zen hobby, one I rely on to detox and rejuvenate myself. It has the benefit of being time consuming as well as productive. I may not have gotten the laundry folded by I did finish that purse I’ve been working on, so there. Since March, I have made a cardigan, 3 tops, a shawl, a purse, a that needs a lining, child’s shirt and several dozen button bands that still need buttons. You could say I’ve been unusually stressed.

I used to be able to write out my feelings. I have a 2 whole blog categories for those (Rants and Ramblings). I could sit down with a vague idea of the philosophical quandary I needed to parse and by the end I would more or less have figured out how I felt about it. And that worked for a long time. I got out of the habit when I finished school. I didn’t have much to discuss besides life in retail, and who even cares besides the people you work with? But every few weeks or months something would make me come out of my yarn cave to see what was pissing me off and how I could reconcile my thoughts and feelings. I hate feeling conflicted about subjects. Nothing is black and white and so I try to find that area in the middle where all my friends and family have some part but not all of the truth. Then I put the truths together into a whole and say LOOK! I FIGURED IT OUT. YOU’RE ALL WRONG BUT YOU’RE ALSO A LITTLE RIGHT AND IF YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT MAYBE YOU WON’T KEEP SNIPING AT EACH OTHER ON FACEBOOK. But lately, I’ve just been too fucking angry and my writing just made me feel worse. Tonight, I am so unbelievably incensed that my arms are tingling with adrenaline, so let’s do this, eh?

I don’t believe that people are evil. Misguided, miseducated, brainwashed, biased, egotistical, selfish, narcissistic, immature, deliberately obtuse, thoughtless, vain, greedy, prideful, slothful, on and on and on and on. Even white supremacists and Nazis and fascists and politicians. Not evil. Still people, still capable of complex emotions, still made in the image of God. Still assholes, but not evil. I hold to that even with the world burning. People commit evil. It is rare that they become it.

So anyway, the world is burning and I am crocheting a lot. I am also doing a lot of writing on Facebook because I told myself I would engage with people when their views radically clash with my own, in peaceful, non-aggressive ways. Because my heart can’t take losing people because I wasn’t in on the meme that has all my conservative friends chortling and my liberal friends blowing a fuse (and vice versa). That was my last blog, where I tried to find that place where memes can be hilarious and abominations at the same time and it all came down to whether you’re in on the joke or not. Now, if I don’t get it (it offends me to the point where I wonder how I could be your friend), I ask for clarification. Because sometimes when people have to explain why something is funny, they start realizing how it could really not be.

What’s convenient is that a lot of people have done the rebuttal work for me. Non-violent MLK quote or meme that shakes it’s finger at people for getting violent at protests? “And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard.” (“The Other America” Mar 14, 1966) I have a much longer quote from that speech on a picture of MLK looking thoroughly tired of your nonsense.

There it is!

My brother did a marvelous blog about MLK and how his non-violent movement made progress during the Civil Rights Movement because all the other movements were violent. (https://puppettron.wordpress.com/2020/05/31/we-have-a-leadership-problem/?fbclid=IwAR2hkDHyiPLqaxgnSI_MEkyKHh632sqfk-Dh6ckzLrXWd4_EUCatshhOrTo)

His pacifism was only possible because of the riots of the unheard. He still faced loads of contemporary criticism in his time because he wasn’t protesting correctly, btw. His peaceful protests were still met with dogs and hoses and lynchings. His people had to be trained to resist provocation from people wanting to escalate into violence. I’m not talking name-calling either. Remember what they did to people for sitting at a diner counter and marvel that no one fought back. Oh, and the FBI harassed him and his people. And then someone still shot him in the head. Does that mean pacifism is the right way to go? Well, here’s the thing. MLK and his people got the vote for black people, largely due to the fact that behind his movement was an army of armed, angry black people. And since then, politicians, lobbyists, and white supremacists have been actively, systematically disenfranchising black people. Have you heard of Poll Taxes? Or literacy tests? Or any of the hundreds of other ways white people kept blacks (and brown and yellow and red) from voting? Well now we have Voter Fraud laws. You have to get a valid government ID to vote, but you need a birth certificate (something a lot of older black Americans never had). Oh and you need a DMV to get it from, but we closed all the offices within 50 miles of your home. And there’s no public transportation, we don’t have the money for those, don’t you have a car? Make sure you vote when you do get your ID. At one of the 2 voting sites we set up for a few thousand people, with very limited working machines. Make sure you take the day off work to get here because we can’t be here all night. Did you see how even in a pandemic people were willing to wait 7 hrs to vote because it was that important?

And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Civil Rights Movement didn’t end in 1964 when racism was magically abolished forever. It was followed by the Vietnam War where black Americans were shunted off to die in jungles. And the introduction of crack into black neighborhoods so there could be a War on Drugs that created the largest prison population in the world made up of a lot of non-whites who suddenly can’t vote any more even if they serve their time and are released on good behavior. MLK’s movement didn’t work. It was a start. 2 steps forward. 1 step back. For nearly 60 years.

I have seen graphs showing that cops kill more white people than black people every year. Not per capita, obviously. That’s how you skew statistics to prove your point. You change the chart to show the deaths per million and the graph looks way different. But anyway, cops kill a lot more than just black people so why all this complaining?!? Weeeell, are you sure you don’t want to talk about police brutality after giving me proof that cops straight up murder people all the damn time? Justifiable or not, those numbers just scream lack of accountability to me. Of course if we want to talk about murder numbers, can anyone explain to me how we still let cis white males in their 20s walk around all namby pamby when nearly every instance of domestic terror in this country was perpetrated by a cis white male in their 20s? Like, I don’t mean to be racist or anything, but it’s pretty obvious that those people are dangerous and we need them out of this country. (I’m being facetious, just so we’re clear. I know there’s no sarcasm font to make it obvious.)

Exhibit A, Deaths by Race Only (White, Black, Hispanic, Other, Unknown)
Exhibit B: Deaths per capita

I’ve heard (vaguely, not by anyone I know but in comment threads) the age old counter “what about black on black crime.” Guys. When black people kill each other, it isn’t because the other guy is black. It’s because of proximity. It is tragic. It is not a counter argument to systemic racism and police brutality against minority communities.

I have heard that rioting and looting negate your message. I’ve already discussed rioting. And if you need reminding about the type of people who resort to property damage when they aren’t being heard, ask yourself who it was who flipped tables and beat money changers with whips because they desecrated the Temple. (Matthew 21:12-17, Mark 11:15-19, Luke 19:45-48, John 2:13-16)

Give you a hint: It wasn’t Judas

So. Looting. Arson. Whether it comes from opportunists or accelerationists (white supremacist/anarchist groups trying to start a race war), it’s ugly. People are greedy and selfish. Should these people be shot on sight? Um, no. A majority of these people treating the protests like it’s Black Friday are petty thieves. You know, felonies, misdemeanors? We don’t execute people for petty theft. I get it, it’s scary to think that societal rules have crumbled so much that you realize the only thing protecting your stuff is the general agreement from the rest of society that it isn’t nice to steal things. I don’t break into houses and steal stuff. Not because I’m scared of the repercussions (jail time, criminal record, etc) and certainly not because I’m afraid you’re packing heat. It’s common courtesy, that set of unwritten rules that separate us from the animals. It’s a thin veneer and it varies significantly from one person/culture/religion/country to the next, but it’s there. When society fails to maintain basic courtesy (don’t take things that aren’t yours), suddenly we all feel pretty vulnerable. Some people respond to that with braggadocio. That’s fine, I understand. If you act on that impulse, if you kill someone to protect your stuff, that just makes you a looter, too. When we value stuff above people, we lose our humanity. You decide that the public execution of a man is the perfect excuse for you to get that flat screen you always wanted, you are trash. You decide you’re going to kill a 22yo kid because he looks to be the right color to be a looter and you need to protect your closed bar? You. Are. Trash. You decide that looters and protestors are the same people and it’s all an excuse to steal your stuff, you need to get out of your house and actually talk to these people.

Two words I’ve seen bandied about a lot since March: Virtue Signaling. From the dictionary, “the action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character or the moral correctness of one’s position on a particular issue.” We all hate those people who go on and on about the charities they donate to or all the volunteering they do or all the orphans they’re sponsoring, right? Oh and all those people wearing masks during a pandemic. Who are they kidding? I only wear mine because I’ve had a cold on and off since January and it’s finally socially acceptable to wear one in public so I’m not spreading my nasty germs everywhere I breathe (also, it’s kind of the law here now). But all those other people are just sheep. Imagine taking the barest minimum precaution to slow the spread of a highly virulent and potentially deadly disease just because some internationally respected experts told them to? Ridiculous right? I mean, as long as you stay 6 feet away from everyone, and every surface someone else might touch, and not touch anything especially yourself, it’s perfectly safe! Oh, gads did I slip into sarcasm again? And hyperbole to boot. Shame. There are definitely people who do the right thing for the look of it. Say, holding up a Bible in front of a church so people can take pictures or creating huge charities (which may or may not have been funneled into your campaign funds). And on a large scale, that can be insulting and dangerous and illegal. Now, on a small scale, deriding people for doing the right thing when it has absolutely no impact on you is a dick move. And it’s unjust. It’s a callous way to dismiss the genuine decency of people because of your pessimism. People have gotten sick of how supportive we are of George Floyd and his family. Companies, businesses and individuals that have posted their support of the black community are immediately dismissed because they’re just jumping on the band wagon. And they probably are. But you don’t actually know that, do you. It just makes you feel superior to assume that everyone is as weak-spirited and hypocritical as you. We aren’t showing off how “woke” we are. We are genuinely horrified by a video that was taken by a 17yo while people begged for the guy’s life. Fuck you and your “woke metric,” you callous, self-aggrandizing shart smoothie.

I’m sorry, that was harsh. But I scroll through so many flowery Biblical quotes and “share if you love Jesus” and inspirational mantras and “I bet you won’t post this” – all day every day. I don’t accuse anyone of virtue signaling because as shallow as some of it is, I know it’s also genuine for them. If your first instinct is to call bull shit when someone agonizes over the words to encapsulate how it feels to see yet another man murdered for no reason at all, you need to ask yourself where that instinct comes from.

Deep. Breath.

And last, but not least, All Lives Matter. I am not going to explain how asinine it is as a default response. (That’s the best you can do, white folk? Really?) I am going to explain why the phrase Black Lives Matter makes you give that knee-jerk reaction. (We have tried and tried and tried to point out that nowhere does it say “only,” to no avail.)

Being offended comes from feeling attacked. Karens all over the world know what I mean. A negative stereotype is flouted about and suddenly women named Karen are in the spotlight. Most laugh it off because it’s pretty obvious that the name is just a handy moniker for entitled middle class, middle-aged women who want to see your manager. But some people got super upset and they weren’t even named Karen! It’s almost as if they saw some part of the stereotype that applied to them personally. And it turns out that not everyone appreciates how you scolded that cashier into tears because she wouldn’t accept your coupons. No one thinks you’re a hero for calling the cops on black family having a BBQ. And so we’re clear, this is not a slur for women who won’t be silenced. It’s a designation for grown ass adults who use their privilege to bully people who can’t fight back.

Anyway, Black Lives Matters does something that no other movement has managed to do, as far as I know. It. Erases. White People. Erases, excludes, takes them out of the equation entirely. That’s why All Lives is the natural response. When you are used to being the default race, it is anathema to be left out of narrative. (You’re not, btw, it’s more like being reminded that you aren’t the only narrator.) So CONGRATULATIONS, THAT’S HOW BLACK PEOPLE FEEL. Left out. Excluded. Expendable. That is an awful feeling. It’s dehumanizing for someone to disregard you as a thinking, feeling creature. Dehumanizing. Like having someone kneel on your neck until you die and not even having the common courtesy to look like they aren’t bored by the whole thing. Like having your murder highly publicized and then openly mocked less than a week later.


Bottom line, THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. Don’t come at me with All Lives Matter because that is obviously not true. Looters’ lives don’t matter. Protestors’ lives don’t matter. Muslim lives don’t matter. Refugee lives don’t matter. And human lives don’t matter if they get in the way of the economy. Homeless lives. Disabled lives. Sex worker lives. Women’s lives. Veterans’ lives. Trans lives. LGBTQIA+ lives. And yes, Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, ALL OF THEM are being murdered every day so White Lives Can Matter Most. If you can sit and watch 8:46 min of a man getting murdered for a not-actually-counterfeit $20 and still claim All Lives Matter, I have nothing else to say to you. Except I am a PISSED OFF WHITE WOMAN AND I DEMAND TO SEE YOUR MANAGER. Also, get fucked.

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I’m disappointed

“We’re Americans and we should do better.”


They’re opening up stores and services. Yay! Yay?

People are going back to work! Woohoo! Um…

Who is more likely to be able to work from home and be safe? People that work on computers, people that spend time in meetings (zoom or in-person), people that can submit their work electronically, people that spend their time on the phone, No Problem!

However, there are people whose presence is absolutely required. You can’t electronically submit a hamburger. You can’t email a cow or a pig. You can’t stock shelves from home. You can’t manufacture cars from home. We have managed to get around some of the problems but people are out of work and now they have to choose between starving and exposing themselves to a deadly virus. We don’t quit pointing fingers because that’s what we do best. We blame and blame and insult and attack any people that had…

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I don’t have to explain what memes are, right?

A photo or series of photos or GIFs with text, usually simple text that makes you laugh? You see, you read, you chuckle, you share. And then you fight for a few hours with someone who insists on misinterpreting what the meme meant. Isn’t that so utterly jarring, though? Okay, yes, sometimes you know that you’re going to piss off someone and that’s kind of fun. Aw, this will get Jerry going, I love it when he breaks out the tin hat over stupid memes. All in the name of harmless fun, haha, it was just a joke, RELAX JERRY, JESUS. Have you ever blocked someone because of a meme? Not something that person said or did, but because they shared a graphic that made you completely doubt how you could ever have been friends with that person? I have, more so in the last 4 years than at any other time in my life. Worse yet, they have caused serious mental/emotional distress for some of my friends.

For instance…no nevermind. This isn’t about my friends’ experiences or about pointing the finger and saying HOW CAN YOU BE SO DAMN CALLOUS/GULLIBLE/JUVENILE while I click share on the same kind of bs.

I recently shared a meme and the first response was from a friend, one whom I consider intelligent and kind and a bit of a badass. It was not rude or anything, but she completely missed the point of the meme. Now normally, I go into literary interpretation mode when someone has issue with something I share. I try to explain what was meant and how it isn’t whatever you think it was because I cannot fathom how you got a completely different message from such a short bit of media. That is the nature and danger of memes. They are brief and therefore must appeal quickly and viscerally with the viewer in order to garner the emotional response desired. They are inside jokes where the inside is millions of people who “get it” without explanation

They will often be polarizing. Why? Think about the ones that you like the most. They make you laugh and go SO TRUE and share without thinking. They always confirm your bias. They stress hyperbole, false equivalency, and all those other standards of bad arguments. They are not meant to be honest or factual. They are meant to be shared. Now think about the ones you hate. They seem callous or thoughtless or hugely inaccurate. How could someone you know and actually like think anything like that? How could they share it and laugh? How could anyone believe this?!? What a snowflake/libtard/derogatory phrase of the moment! Well, turns out you just aren’t in on the joke.

Okay, yes, sometimes they stress the ridiculous

Now normally if you find yourself in the uncomfortable position of needing an inside joke explained, it’s along the lines of “oh this happened and then he said this and oh my gawd you remember those shorts he used to wear what a loser, anyway, you had to be there.” In the case of memes, you have to have the right bias to not only get the joke but find it funny. If you don’t watch the right news or follow the right tweets or tik the right tok (I’m using that phrase correctly, right?), you won’t see what’s so funny. In fact, most of the time you will be furious, offended, and on fire to correct that highly inaccurate discourse. You will feel attacked and you will respond in kind, usually with false equivalencies and hyperbole of your own to demonstrate just how stupid that meme is.

The struggle is real

There is a lot of information out there. Lots of news, lots of opinion pieces, lots of memes, lots of conspiracy theories. All of it is packaged to confirm a bias. All of it is framed in such a way that you will respond in two ways: laugh and share or get pissed and share. Notice the similarity.

I am losing my patience with this kind of packaging. Trump didn’t tell people to injest bleach. He has said all kinds of awful, untruthful, dangerous things, but no on bleach injections. I saw what he said. It was painful to watch but I was more upset by him spit-balling on television like a freaking amateur. Don’t think out loud on national television when people are relying on you for information, even if you’re being “sarcastic.” The coverage of it pissed me off even more, but I digress.

Take, for instance, the protests going on all over the country. Memes have packaged them so easily for me to dismiss legitimate concerns of millions of Americans. People are really complaining about being stuck home when x, y, and z was so much worse? How selfish! Complaining because they want a haircut/lawn seed/beach time when tens of thousands are dead after only 2 months of this plague? I can’t imagine being so privileged that my roots are more important than the health and safety of another person. Deplorable!

And I don’t believe that bs. I know some people are selfish and thoughtless. I know some people watch too much YouTube. But they can’t all be Karens jonesing for a mani/pedi. And just look at all the GOOD that has come out of the woodwork. Churches and schools and charities and just millions of people going above and beyond to help their neighbors. Have you watched Some Good News with John Krazinski? You will bawl.

We are ALL OF US scared right now. We are looking at the rising unemployment and the rising infection rates and doing a lot of math. It’s the worst kind of math. How many more people will die from the economy crashing? Who do we risk to prevent the crash? Unemployment benefits don’t last forever, if you can get them. Always, always it is the poorest, the most vulnerable of us that suffer when crisis hits. Look at how hard the black community has been hit by the virus, on top of everything else. If they aren’t killed by plague, they are killed by vigilantes for looking scary while people with actual automatic weapons parade about with impunity even when actively threatening other citizens.

And all I want to know is WHY? Not why do people consistently prove themselves to be trash while simultaneously showing how amazing the human race can be. WHY IS IT A CHOICE BETWEEN DYING FROM STARVATION AND DYING FROM PLAGUE? Yes, that is an over-simplification of a highly complex issue. Kind of like a meme, amiright?

That, my dudes, is the fight and it’s a total fabrication. The one side says keeping us closed is useless because Covid-19 isn’t that bad/the numbers are overblown/deep state conspiracy/economy crash will be worse you monster. The other side says opening is stupid because Covid-19 is that bad/the numbers are underblown/deep state conspiracy/you can’t sacrifice lives for the economy you monster.

Congrats, you’re probably all right! That’s not the actual issue here. The issue is people monetizing a disaster. The issue is people politicizing the potential deaths of millions of Americans. The issue is that people die either way but it isn’t someone you know so

Anyway, memes. I swear this was just going to be about how fascinating I find memes. Here’s the message I want you to take home. Take TEN EFFING SECONDS TO THINK BEFORE YOU SHARE. And then, take ten seconds before you start a fight/leave a comment. Your dissertations on the inaccuracy of whatever will do absolutely nothing to change anyone’s mind. You will argue at cross-purposes until one of you quits. If your first thought is “Well actually” just scroll on by, hon.

My friend who misinterpreted that meme, I didn’t get into a fight with her. She basically called me on the biased nature of the post and I acknowledged it. Like a freaking adult. And believe it or not, she didn’t misinterpret it. Her bias just raised a flag that I would have picked up on if it hadn’t suited my personal feelings so much. People will be glib with things you find frightening, horrifying, and deadly serious. People will make broad brush statements that will feel like personal attacks. Don’t name call. Don’t mansplain. Don’t diatribe. If you have to say something, maybe don’t until you’ve thought about it for a while. Even better, ASK FOR CLARIFICATION. I’m sorry, I don’t understand the reference? That will start a conversation hopefully, as long as you are genuine in your curiosity.

Exceptions: Total falsehoods, dangerous medical advice, racist/sexist/phobic rhetoric

Total Falsehoods: leave a link to a fact checking site, but make sure it’s a legit source. If you can’t cite a legit source, move on by.

Dangerous Medical Advice: leave a link to a credible medical source. And hey, if you share some video or story of someone hacking a miracle cure or something just for the “look at how dumb this person is,” make damn sure you add context. Facepalm emoji will keep people from thinking you really believe silver nail polish is the perfect sealant on a cloth mask against those pesky germs.

Racist/Sexist/Phobic Rhetoric: the only way we can correct cultural bias is to call people on it. If that’s too confrontational for you or you’re not sure why something is making you uncomfortable, report it.

Finally, for the love of all that is good and holy on this doomed planet, don’t read the comments.

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Filed under Ramblings, Rants

Writing Super Heroes

I finally realized why I am drawn to writing about super heroes. Regardless of the source of powers (magic, science, radioactive sea sponges), they all have something I will never have. Power. And not, like, super strength or flight or whatever. They all have the power to make significant changes in their lives. They are in total control over their destinies because I am in total control of their destinies.

Do not interrupt me with platitudes right now. I’m not in the mood.

If there is one thing this pandemic should teach everyone is that YOU ARE NOT THE MASTER OF YOUR OWN FATE. You, in fact, have so little power over your own fate that a microscopic organism has derailed your entire life without ever touching you.

And isn’t that frustrating? To have your plans, your goals, your needs supplanted by something you maybe half think isn’t real? Half the internet right now is frantically trying to remind people that this is a PANDEMIC. It is SERIOUS. It is going to impact your life more than just canceling sports and going a bit more time without a haircut. People are sick, people are dying. This isn’t a hoax. This isn’t just some con to give the government more power over when you get to golf.

And think about everything going on that you have absolutely now power to change right now. Huge chain businesses snatching up billions in relief loans that were supposed to go to small businesses. Billionaires managing to rake in billions more while 30 million people file for unemployment and meat processing plants become plague ships. Tensions amping up between the US and China when global cooperation is a necessity. No yeast in grocery stores (I am not prepared to make a starter). Farmers dumping food they can’t distribute while millions are relying on food banks to eat. Politicians doing what they do and making this about whose fault it is. And those are the just big things.

I’m supposed to be moving this summer. My hubby is retiring and I’m all registered to start my Master’s in Creative Writing in the fall. Except, well, all his medical appts were canceled so we have to push back his retirement or risk not getting his disability percentage approved in time for those payments to kick in with his retirement pay. And yes, it’s definitely a buyer’s market for homes so we might get a sweet deal on our next place. But we still have to sell our place and there’s a limit to the diy projects we can accomplish before we need a pro to get everything up to snuff. And with the possibility of a bigger drop in pay than we were budgeting for, now we don’t have cash to spend on fixing up the house anyway. And we have it good compared to a lot of homes right now.

So I should just bite the bullet and go back to work. I’ll get an extra $2/hr in “hazard pay” bringing me up to a whopping $11.20/hr. I’ll risk bringing home a plague to my toddler and husband, but I don’t that anyway every time I go to the grocery store. Just have to multiply my risk by number of people I encounter over a 4 hour shift as well as the people my co-workers encounter since there’s no keeping 6 ft between people you work with.

Super heroes don’t have these problems. Villain shows up in their lives and they just punch him til he gives up. There’s no punching a virus. You can’t punch economic insecurity or corrupt systems or shady backroom deals. This pandemic is showing us EVERYTHING that is wrong with our system of life and we all just want to go back to the way it was. We’ll bloviate about how previous generations had it worse because they had diseases and didn’t fight them with masks and gloves and they SURVIVED (well, most of them did). They sacrificed for the war effort so we should just get back to work because I deserve a haircut and a mani/pedi. And they didn’t constantly criticize the president (yes, of course they did).

We wouldn’t have an economic crisis if we didn’t conflate money with worth. I hate that I grew up watching Star Trek. Yeah, some of it is very problematic and the lens flairs in the new movies is a bit excessive, but you never see the junior enlisted queuing up at the payday loan store on the Enterprise so they can pay their bills. Rank has its privileges, that’s for sure, but it tends to lean more toward things that actually matter. Picard doesn’t get better food from the replicators or better quality uniform and he doesn’t command his ship from the safety of his mansion on Earth. He gets more space to live on a ship where space is at a premium. That’s it.

Yes, I watched the Picard series finally. Interesting to me is when he decides to leave on his mission, his friends stay to take care of the harvest on his vineyard. Not because they will face financial ruin if they don’t. You just have to harvest grapes at a certain time. They wouldn’t starve or get kicked off the land or have to rely on welfare to stay afloat. The grapes would die and they would lose the crop. It would disrupt the planting of the next crop.

We have plenty of food and people are starving. There are plenty of empty homes and people live on the streets. We have life-saving medicines that are sold for a massive profit because if you’ll die without it, you’ll pay anything to get it. There are people working every day to keep this sham running because they don’t have a choice. They need their job. And when this is all over, we’ll go back to making snide comments about burger flippers demanding a living wage.

See, this is why I didn’t want to blog about this. I’ve deleted this post twice today because I started on a rant. I don’t want to rant. I want to write about super heroes. But all I can write about is the world ending and a big part of me thinking GOOD. Maybe if it all crashes and burns we’ll be forced to give up the old comfortable sins. Yeah, millions of people will die, but those will probably just be old people “who were going to die anyway, that’s what they do.” Stop wearing masks because it’s just “virtue signaling.” Don’t let anyone tell you when you can get a haircut or buy grass seed. You know better than the experts, of course. We should just all go out and tongue-kiss infected people. It’ll be like chicken pox parties, but with the added spice of having absolutely no idea what the long-term effects of this illness are since it is a completely new (“novel”) virus. Will I die alone on a respirator, possibly insane from sensory deprivation? Will I never regain my sense of smell? Will I spread it to someone who ends up having a permanent neurological disorder? There’s literally NO WAY TO KNOW! I mean, I could develop a minor cough and then die of a stroke! Isn’t that worth $11.20/hr?

Hoping you are all safe and well. And I hope that you’re right. I hope this is over-blown. I hope we overreacted and in a few years we’ll be laughing about the big plague scare of 2020. I hope I am wrong.

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Filed under Misc Short Stories