I am a Picky Eater. Honest.


We all know picky eaters, right?  They won’t eat something for reasons incomprehensible to you.  No corn unless it is on the cob.  Potatoes only in mashed form.  Milk only in a certain glass.  Most of the time, we hear specifications like this from kids.  I knew a little girl who, for a time, would refuse any food that was a combination of ingredients.  This may seem completely impossible, but she was young and didn’t understand that almost all prepared food is a combination of ingredients.  All she knew was if there was an “and” in the description, she wasn’t having any.  “What’s in the rolls?”  “Butter and bread.”  “No, thank you.”

By the next Christmas, she had grown out of it, as most kids do when their parents get sick of catering to such habits.  One can only put up with so much.  Still, there are plenty of adults out there who could be classed as picky eaters and they are a bane for people like me.  I am a Feeder.  My self-esteem is linked to how people receive the food I offer them.  Rejecting my food is rejecting me.

I realize this is a little extreme and I am working on it.  Taste is unique to everybody and just because someone doesn’t like chocolate doesn’t mean we can’t be friends (though I’m sure we’ll never be close).  I do have to actively remind myself that turning down the cookies I’m offering is not a comment on the quality of the food or myself as a person.  This is especially true for what I call the “legitimate” reasons, i.e. dietary needs and allergies.

It is still a challenge, though, because there are all those “illegitimate” reasons.  The “I just don’t like it” or the “I don’t like the texture” or the “I’ve never had it before.”  As a food snob, I admit to some amount of scorn for people with mundane palettes, those who won’t try something just because it is new or different.  Simply put, I don’t like picky eaters.  I don’t like when people refuse the food of their host because they just don’t like it.  I hate when people quibble or complain because there’s nothing for them to eat.  “I would have eaten that, but they put pepper on it.”  “Oh, I only eat Velveeta cheese.”  “I’m sorry, I don’t like vegetables.”  “No, I don’t eat fish unless it is in stick form.”

Sadly, this makes me a hypocrite.  As it turns out, being a food snob makes me a picky eater by default.  I turn my nose up at food if it wasn’t made from scratch from fresh ingredients.  I snub processed foods like fish sticks or Hamburger Helper.  I despise anything that contains a “processed cheese product.”  And fast food is pure evil.  Cafeterias/buffets are out of the question.

While my parents were visiting, we had to pick up some fast food before doing some sight seeing.  I obstinately ordered some grilled chicken nuggets and planned on getting something more substantial later.  Except I couldn’t find anything.  At first, I felt like it would be rude to have a nice sit-down meal in front of others who weren’t eating, then because the eateries I saw didn’t suit me, and finally because I couldn’t find a food truck or similar small meal dispenser.  Mom pointed out the irony that I would eat from a food truck, but not fast food, to which I replied that food truck food isn’t fast food.  And then it hit me.  I am full of sh*t.

I was looking for food trucks because they are trendy now.  There are innovators out there turning food trucks into classy yet inexpensive cuisine, but that doesn’t mean that all food trucks are making good food.  I am just as picky as those people who bring their own food to parties because they can’t be sure if there will be food they can eat.  I worry that I’ll show up to a gathering where all there is to eat is junk food that I can’t stomach.  I’ll admit to going hungry and fervently wishing that I’d eaten something before venturing out.  I have (shamefully) thought less of my host for not making food to my standards.

Unfortunately, my dietary choices put me at odds with normal people, but refusing junk food doesn’t make me better than anyone.  I admit to being a picky eater, but that doesn’t have to make me a bad guest.  As a Feeder, I see the cardinal sin of a guest to be refusing the food of the host.  In ancient times, such a refusal could be seen as a grave insult or a declaration of animosity.  In The Count of Monte Cristo (one of my absolute favorite books), Edmund makes it a point not to eat the food of his enemies, even as he pretends to be their dearest friends.  So I am only picky when it isn’t rude to be so.

The reason people don’t like picky eaters is because it’s rude.  When someone makes food for you, you should eat it without complaining.  This is a lesson many of us learned as children when Mom gave us the old “there are starving children in China” speech.  We all have foibles about food, but unless those foibles will put you into anaphylactic shock, then it is best to smile and shut your mouth just for courtesy’s sake.  Another tip for picky eaters when meeting with new foods is to just try it.  You may need to engage a poker face to hide how horrible something is, but refusing to try something just because it is new could mean missing out on stuff you may actually like.

Ah, but the testament between guest and host is not a one-way deal.  When hosting, you have an obligation to provide for your guests, which seems kind of obvious.  Except that this obligation isn’t always fully understood.  I’m not saying that you have to make a special dish catered to the tastes of every guest.  That would be ridiculous.  But there are some things one must keep in mind when providing food for a crowd.  The first is timing.  If the party falls during a meal time, then people will show up expecting more than finger food.  Easiest thing to do is have burgers and hot dogs ready to grill -OR- have pizzas ready (frozen or otherwise).  Any other time of day, snack foods are fine.  For finger foods, chips and dips are classic, but I always recommend a fruit or veggie tray as well, especially with the number of people on specialty diets nowadays.  You can always ask your guests to bring stuff, too, if they want.  Then you get lots of variety without stressing yourself out.

The key to party feeding is not to get anything you won’t eat because there will be leftovers.  That means, I don’t ever by chips because I don’t eat them regularly.  Most have too much salt for my taste and corn-based chips tend to give me migraines.  People will still bring chips and often leave them behind, but I just stow them away for the next party.  If I decide to put together a veggie tray, I’m only using veggies that I cook with regularly or have for snacks, so no radishes or jalapeños.  If you don’t like veggies, don’t put out a veggie tray.  If you don’t like salsa, don’t buy a big jar of salsa.  You are obligated to provide enough food for your guests with some variety of choices, that is all.  Provide for picky palettes only so far that it doesn’t actually inconvenience you.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there is a social contract we must adhere to regardless of our personal tastes.

1.  The host will provide enough food for guests, accommodating to dietary needs (allergies, diets, etc) within reason.

2.  The guest will eat food when and if possible.  If no food is edible (for whatever reason), the guest will politely decline.  There should be no complaining, especially if food is being declined for any reason other than allergies or medically prescribed diets.

Now, let’s say we aren’t talking a serve-yourself buffet-style party but an actual sit-down dinner.  Social contract says that you eat what is put in front of you unless it will kill you.  This is not always easy, and I understand that.  It isn’t always about taste.  Sometimes it’s about health.  Sometimes it’s about cooking methods or cleanliness or quality of ingredients.  Sometimes it’s about cooking skill.  And, yes, you may have to stomach food you don’t like in order to be polite.  But let’s say you don’t like someone’s cooking and it’s someone you eat with frequently.  It’s Grandma or Father-in-Law or Spouse or Best Friend.  You don’t want to hurt feelings, so you claim picky eating as an excuse.  Don’t.  Honesty in this case is very important.  Picky eating to many is a childish excuse and not to be tolerated.  And lying about your reasoning will only add tension to a relationship.  So find a way to talk to this person, face to face and not over a meal.  It may not make any difference, but it’s better than lying.

I’ve rambled a bit, I know.  I’m trying to get back into writing habits.  Plus, I wanted to set the record straight.  My Mom, like all Feeders, has a thing about picky eaters.  Refuse her food and you will never be her friend.  But she is so proud of me for not being picky, just because I’m always willing to try new foods.  The fact is, I think everyone is picky about their food and with good reason.  It’s just a matter of balancing personal preference with politeness.

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15AM000000112011 · 11:39

Ups/Downs


Yesterday was a good day.  Which made me begin to wonder what makes a good day.

If I were to melt down all the elements of a good day, would it separate into good things and bad things, with more good than bad?  Because, well, it doesn’t seem to matter so much what happens as my mood when it happens.

If I’m down, everything pulls me down.  Whatever I try, be it shopping or chocolate or reading, the down stays.

If I’m up, then even sleep deprivations, expensive car repairs due to the incompetence/neglect of the dealer,  and an ill-fitting leather jacket that must needs be returned won’t bring me down.

Of course, sushi will always switch a down to an up.

Not really interesting, me pointing out that attitude is everything, but I think it’s a misconception that positive attitudes can be forced.  I don’t decide my ups or downs.  I just ride them, trying to maintain an even keel as well as I can.

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15AM00000012011 · 01:02

2014 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,700 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 28 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Filed under Misc Short Stories

Today.


Today, I turned in my last paper.  Then I wandered campus looking for people to give eggnog truffles to.

Then I did some Christmas shopping.  And I wandered Barnes & Noble.

And I didn’t have to read anything or write anything.  I didn’t have to do research or take notes or trudge through some brain-sucking analysis that might be total crap but feels like the most brilliant thing I’ve ever thought of.  No studying.  No brain whatsoever.

It felt great.

I’m excited to start baking again, especially holiday baking.  And sleeping at normal hours.  And writing because I want to, because I have something to say.

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15PM000000102011 · 22:56

Moment


I thought it would be the quiet or the cold.

I thought it would be things I saw or heard, your music, your shows, your clothes.

I thought it would be the empty spaces where you’re supposed to be, the bare shelves, the missing clothes, the pieces of you in their special places, gone, gone, gone.

I was wrong.

It was a little moment of joy.

I wanted to share it with you.

But all I have is silence.

Then the crushing, crushing, crushing, like a black hole in my chest.

It all comes out and I’m scared that it won’t stop.

Keep moving, pull the towels from dryer, put the jeans in, clean the lint tray, add a dryer sheet, press start.

Then I can go to the dark.  Then I can cross from dealing to dying for just a little bit.

Just until I have to live again.

Just until you come back to me.

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Filed under Misc Short Stories

Letter from a Reformed Grammar Nazi


IMG_20130130_193155 Take a second to look at this photo. What you are seeing is a cold-hearted, cruel monster, a villain of the highest order. I am a member of that elite dark order of cyber bullies about which you have been cautioned. I use my assumed superiority to publicly shame friends and enemies alike under the guise of helping them. I lurk in comment threads with daggers of indignity, waiting to pluck at the failures of my fellows. I am that creature who cannot allow even the smallest infractions to pass, eagerly poised with an asterisk at my fingertips for the least grammatical mistake. That’s right. I’m a Grammar Nazi. Or I was.

It all started when I became an English Major. I’m certain many of you understand how such a descent into malevolence can begin with such a choice. After taking so many classes on the “proper” use of English, I began to feel that I was master of all words, which was great for my own confidence. Unfortunately, that supposed mastery made me feel entitled to judge others, to correct their mistakes regardless of the context in which we interacted. I corrected status updates and clucked over spelling errors in blog posts. I shared memes that explained how English grammar is so simple, one must be an utter moron to confuse “your” and “you’re.” I scorned the practices of text-speak as base and pitied those who foolishly ended a sentence with a prepositional phrase. I was embarrassed by the ignorantly written posts by my own family. I’m an English Major and my own brother doesn’t know how to use capitals and punctuation! How could I ever show my face if people found out I was related to someone who used “lol” as a period?

This snobbery leeched its way off the computer and into my life. I was most critical of my fellow English Majors, who should certainly know better. How could they expect anyone to take them seriously if they talked like that? Ums and uhs and likes and you knows and, the most hated of all phrases, “I was just gonna say.”  You probably said that exact phrase today and perhaps caught the look on my face of utter contempt. Forget the fact that “just” implies that you are apologetic about your own opinion and that it is obvious you’re “gonna say” something as your mouth is open and words are falling out. I can’t stand the “I was.” It implies that you are correcting your own assertion (I was going to say this, but now I am going to say this), which isn’t what you mean at all since you never correct yourself. What you mean is that this is what you think but it is probably wrong and you just wanted to point out something you thought was significant fully aware that it might not be. You’re asking permission to speak your mind and it drives me out of mine.

It was all going so well. I was fully entitled to label others as dumb or ignorant at the drop of an apostrophe. Then I started taking linguistic-based classes and my world of supremacy began to crumble. As I learned more about the history of English as a language, my certainty that there was a wrong way to use it eroded away. It seemed that correct spelling and grammar was an invention of xenophobes looking to protect the “purity” of the mother tongue from the scourge of foreigners. Further study of English showed that it was a fluid language, evolving over hundreds of years in clear linguistic patterns until we reached its youngest incarnation, African American Vernacular, which turns out not to be some broken conglomeration of English and slang but a legitimate dialect with its own grammatical structure. It became ever clearer that not only is there no wrong way to use English, there may not even be a right way, either. Language is for communication, so as long as someone is communicating it doesn’t matter whether she says “it’s going good” instead of “it’s going well.” I can believe I have been so petty that I will deliberately misunderstand someone’s post if it isn’t written to the same standard as my formal essays.

When I see a bigoted rant about how foreigners should speak English if they’re going to live here, I feel truly smug because there is always some kind of grammatical or spelling error. But is my editing any different from people complaining about having to press “1” for English? My claims of superiority over others based on language use, I now realize, is no different from bigotry in other forms. Racism, sexism, grammarism: all ways to make people in power feel that they deserve to be in power.

It will take a lot of work to reform myself of this unfair bias. I will probably always mutter “well” under my breath every time “good” is improperly used and I will flinch at misspelled or confused words. However, I will try to keep my proofreading to academic papers and resist devaluing people according to arbitrary linguistical rules, allowing such insignificant errors to distract me from the glory that is expression through language. Language is the greatest gift of the human race and I am ashamed that I ever saw it as a tool for belittling other human beings.

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15AM00000092011 · 09:42

Angry War/Grammar Rant


This post is rated NC-17 for strong language.

 

I’ve been more ignorant of the news recently, choosing to listen to audiobooks on my drive than NPR (the only news source I can stomach besides Daily Show and Colbert Report).   Mostly this started because I discovered just how much a treasure trove my local libraries are.  But as ISIS (and whatever else the American Devil is calling them) becomes more and more active and word spreads of terrorist cells and attacks on American soil, I find that I am less inclined to shut off my book (currently Dexter’s Final Cut => yes, I would rather listen to a book about a serial killer than listen to the violence in the news) and catch up on recent events.

Before you start crying “isolationism won’t make it go away,” know that I am perfectly aware of this fact.  Even without basic history to demonstrate this, I’m married to the Army.  Can’t really pretend things don’t exist when they’re knocking at your door with a reminder that soldiers don’t exist for peacetime.   It’s getting serious again so something has to be done and the rumors are already flying about who is up to bat first.  Isolationism isn’t my goal at all.  The problem is that if I’m this angry all the time, my health is going to suffer.  You know, ulcers, headaches, insomnia.  And the jail time for all those murders isn’t going to help anything.  It’s just hard not to be angry when you hear all that craziness.  Especially spouting from the mouths of normally rational people.

“It may be time to take the proactive approach and start rounding them up and putting them in camps or deporting them. Otherwise, they will be doing it to us Christians and Jews.” – Facebook

” These terrorists want to kill us, plain and simple.  We have to kill them first.  It’s better on their soil than ours.” – NPR interview of retired cop.

I suppose what sets me off first, besides the ignorance of such statements, is the obvious errors in grammar.  You see, they both use anonymous, 2nd and 3rd person pronouns.  They, them, their, we, us, ours.  But that’s not what is meant, of course.  When they say we, what they mean is “someone-not-me.”  I recommend to anyone spewing blanket statements of this sort to make slight changes to their pronouns and see if the message still holds.  “I must start rounding Troy up and putting him in a camp before he does it to me.  Because, well, Troy’s a nice guy and a killer bass player, and he was in the Army a while and deployed with my husband.  But he’s a Muslim and I just can’t trust him.”  Doesn’t sound right once I replace the impersonal pronoun and it becomes my responsibility.  Now, you may not personally know a Muslim, so imagination may be your fist step in this process.  I wish I could compare this sort of “proactive” response to the “camps” set up for the Jews (and sundry) in Germany or the Japanese in America, since that would be instantly understood by everyone.  But that isn’t exactly right because those atrocities have a slightly different flavor to them and someone could bring up a valid counter-argument.  The Jews weren’t terrorists and the Japanese weren’t “relocated” because of their religion.  Fair point.  So how about the Protestant burnings of England during the Reformation?  They were also terrorists, a threat to the State trying to bring down the Apocalypse upon the Empire.  Maybe the Hugoenots are more your style?  Or the Catholics?  Do you remember the outcry against JFK because he was a Catholic and his presidency would open the door for the Pope to take over?

There is a lot of pressure out there to sacrifice our freedoms to gain greater safety, but I cannot, will not give up the freedom of religion.  The minute we start rounding up (hear how dehumanizing that phrase is?) Americans based on their religious beliefs and not their actual criminal activity, we lose in every way.  I shouldn’t have to explain this.  Religious freedom means for all, not just those beliefs you like.  If you don’t care for Islam for religious reasons, it isn’t your government’s job to do something.  Get your Bible/Torah/Watch Tower, etc, and start evangelizing.  It is their right to believe and your right to attempt conversion.  It is not your right to imprison someone because an extremist thousands of miles away is committing a murderous rampage, even if that extremist is in this country.  That is all I’m going to say about that.

That second statement needs some changes, too.  “I have to kill them first” works better for me.  But that’s not how it works, is it?  No, when people say “we” in this case, they don’t intend to rush off to the recruiter the next day to join the good fight.  Their “we” actually means “you.”  As in, “You need to send  soldiers into an knuckle-dragging game of hunt-and-peck against an enemy that doesn’t play by conventional rules of war, and can’t even be classified as one coherent enemy, while I sit at home, stroking my hunting rifle and telling my buddies about how if I was only twenty years younger, I’d give those terrorists what-for.”  Sorry for the redneck stereotyping here.  I did say I was angry.

They never mean “I’m going to leave my family for a pointless war we don’t know how to fight.”  “I’m going to risk my life, my health, my sanity, while guys in fancy suits bicker over who has the most patriotic lapel pin.”  “I’m going to come home after a frustrating struggle with no guarantee that I’ll have a job or retirement benefits because some people need to make sure their kids have sufficient trust funds.”  “I have to pray that I don’t suffer injury because there’s no telling whether I’ll have health benefits to cover my medical costs when I’m no longer fit for service because the people getting those benefits are too worried about the long-term side effects of sitting on their *sses and b*tching about how the other side are a bunch of chai-drinking nancies who are too scared of war to send my friends and family to die for their personal jet and thousand-dollar shoes.”

In case you were wondering, YES, I AM PRETTY F*CKING ANGRY.  While those f*ckers are out there saying we should do something, it’s us or them, why don’t they just send in the troops already, I hear something completely different.  Their impersonal pronouns don’t exist for me.  The troops aren’t just vague camo-dressed extras in the back of the glorious war movie.  They’re my friends, my family, closer to me in many ways than my blood-relatives can ever be.  If I was still in, I would still make an uproar, I’m sure, but at least I’d be there with them.  I’d know they were okay, I’d share the daily frustrations and irritations and that vague worry that maybe today the IDF won’t land harmlessly in some open desert space.  But I’m out and those f*cking civilians are demanding that my husband fixes this sh*t-storm when I know perfectly well that he’ll just be another anonymous cog in the war machine waiting to be forgotten just as soon as they get war-weary.

War-weary.  That’s a funny term.  Americans wanted out of Iraq and Afghanistan because they were war-weary.  They didn’t want to do anything in Syria because they were war-weary.  They want to pay ransoms to terrorists because they’re war-weary.  (Note my heavy-handed use of 3rd-person pronouns.  Pisses you off when people generalize, doesn’t it?)  Less than a percent of the US population is in the military and yet everyone is war-weary.  Tired of hearing about it in the news, tired of their hard-earned tax dollars being spent on it, tired because it just doesn’t seem to matter to their everyday lives.  I think the term everyone is looking for is war-bored.  You can’t get weary of something you don’t experience, don’t see the effects of each day.  You can’t get weary when it isn’t you ripped from your family or your spouse is left alone with a new baby.  Or when you deploy just as you start reconnecting with your 8-year-old daughter who hasn’t forgiven you for the last deployment when she was 5.  When you have sat day after day, breathing toxins from burn pits, checking your boots every day for vermin, eating and sleeping and working out because you don’t have a mission and your job is to be there and then go home and shut up until the next time.  When you have sat impotent while your friends went without you and you have wondered if the randomness of this conflict will take out someone you know this time, if maybe that safety you felt when you were there was just complacency and you were only lucky, after all.  Come to me then and tell me of your deep-boned weariness.  Maybe I’ll believe you.

I don’t know what to do about ISIS.  I’m not a war strategist.  I’m not even good at chess.  I don’t think sending in ground troops is going to be effective at this juncture, but I’m not in a position, nor do I have the full scope of the situation, to make that decision.  I just have to hope that the powers-that-be will actually take the time to develop a strategy before they start chucking soldiers/marines/sailors/airmen at this problem.  It is horrific what is happening out there, yes.  But this is not the time for simple solutions like “kill them before they kill us.”  War is not, can never be a simple solution.

What I ask is that you, my individual readers out there, think before you make grandiose statements about this problem.  If you follow my guidelines and become a liar with a simple adjustment to 1st-person pronouns, maybe you should rethink posting it on the Facebook.  If the boots on the ground aren’t going to be your boots, then shut the f*ck up.

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15AM00000082011 · 08:44

Preventing Sexual Assault: A Predator’s Guide


There are many disturbing statistics concerning sexual assault. According to the CNU S.A.V.E website, 84% of rape victims on college campuses knew their attacker. Clearly, students are not limited to the role of victim. They can just as easily be cast as the attacker. So, perhaps it would be prudent to teach students how to avoid becoming the attacker, as it is unlikely that a student’s goals for the year include standing before a disciplinary board and explaining his/her side of the story. We were all drinking. I didn’t know. I didn’t realize. I didn’t mean to. It is time to educate the aggressors, but only those parties that are interested in a consensual sexual encounter. Any parties interested in a non-consensual encounter should seek professional help.

The most well-known mantra and only guidance given to aggressors is “No means no.” That means that even if your partner has been flirting all night and giving you all the indicators that intimacy is welcome, “no” should not be misconstrued as “playing hard to get” or any similar kind of reverse psychology. If you are making your intentions clear and your partner appears to be of the teasing variety, it is advisable to abandon the endeavor entirely. That being said, when alcohol or other impairing drugs are involved, “yes” still means “no.” Even if you have both been drinking (and you have been dating for a long time and earlier in the night, before the drinking started, there were hints given that this could be the night), once alcohol is consumed neither of you can legally give consent. The reason for this is fairly obvious when one takes into account all the bad decisions people make after drinking. Karaoke, for instance. Tattoos in questionable locations. Texting exes. Eating Taco Bell. Falling asleep while wearing shoes and being in close proximity of permanent markers. Deciding to drive home because you aren’t that drunk and it’s only a couple of miles from campus. Decisions you make under the influence can get yourself and others killed. It really isn’t the best mindset in which to take your relationship to the next level, even if it is just a one-night-stand situation. You don’t want to find out that your “consensual” partner woke up the next day and realized you were the Taco Bell decision. Protect yourself from that situation. Don’t have sex with drunk people.

This advice is purely to prevent those instances of grave misunderstandings, when things got out of control or you were both being stupid or you didn’t realize your partner was that incapacitated. However, there are other incidents that occur for far more sinister reasons, mostly having to do with arrogance and power. They are the reasons victims are given so much advice about safeguarding themselves. For the aggressors, here are some tips for avoiding pepper spray, slapped faces, and kneed groins. Provocative clothes are not an invitation. They are clothes, nothing more. If you feel this is unfair, perhaps that it is false advertising, you are invited to walk around in skimpy clothes all you like. Then, when you are molested by undesirable suitors who insist that your ensemble dictates your sexual proclivity, you may perhaps understand how it feels to be approached with that sort of logical fallacy. No one is “asking for it” with their fashion choices.

Further situations that are not invitations include a potential partner being passed out. There is no reasonable argument for having sex with someone just because they can’t stop you. You cannot give consent for another person. Consenting for someone else implies that you own that person and slavery has been illegal for a long time. Again, if you feel it is your right to take advantage of someone because they have unwisely made themselves vulnerable, then you are encouraged to drink until you pass out so that you can experience being assaulted in your sleep. Just keep in mind that your partner will not be some kind of fantasy liaison with a porn star, as you are likely not the fantasy partner for your victim.

Phrases along the lines of “s/he was asking for it,” “I couldn’t help myself,” or “if s/he didn’t want it, then s/he shouldn’t have flirted so much” are invalid excuses. If you feel that sex is one of your self-evident rights as an American, you are within your bounds to abuse yourself. The Founding Fathers did not write a Nookie Amendment. Your rights only extend so far as they don’t impede on the rights of others. Your need for sexual gratification is trumped by your potential partner’s need for personal sovereignty. Moreover, sexual assault is a crime and can lead to jail time, where it is likely you will meet others who feel that they have every right to have sex with you and care not at all for your consent in the matter. For the sake of your own sovereignty, it is best to practice self-discipline.

Understand that the campus is not divided into aggressors and victims. Everyone has the capability to be a victim or an aggressor. Making yourself immune to victimization is incredibly challenging because there is no way to prepare for every aggressive eventuality. Carrying pepper spray and going to parties with friends is no guarantee of safety, especially if the aggressor is someone you know. Avoiding becoming an unwanted aggressor is merely a matter of situational awareness and consideration for the sanctity of fellow human beings. Be cautious. Be selective. Beware of drunk people. Don’t let unbelievably poor judgment ruin the lives of two people.

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15AM00000022011 · 02:46

The Not-Angry Rant about Football


Well, it’s football season and already the news is rife with scandals, none of which are the subject of this rant. If you want to hear about the violent actions of men who are paid unimaginable sums of money to be violent, please look elsewhere. I’m more interested in the recent debates concerning college football, specifically whether college athletes should be paid.

Now, I have looked at the subject in an unbiased manner, ignoring my deep loathing for professional sports since that particular emotion need not apply to this situation. The deal is, as far as I understand it, students are bringing in money for their colleges through ticket sales and merchandise yet they are receiving none of the benefits of said profit. And I mean a lot of money, especially down south where college football is king. Students want a cut. Schools don’t want to give it. The debate gets pretty involved and, as with all debates connected to football, the sides are extremely polarized.

I think they are missing a major factor in this debate. Let’s look at professional football like it is a real job for a moment. There is no way to become a professional football player except through college football. Well, okay, there are many jobs out there that require higher education in order to be a competitive applicant. If you want to become a teacher, you major in education. If you want to become a professional musician, you major in music performance. If you want to be a pro-football player, you major in, um, business? Oh, that’s right. Football is an extra-curricular activity, not a major. There are no classes on game strategies, optimal exercise programs, and how to manage the millions of dollars you’re going to make so that your aren’t bankrupt two months after retiring at the ripe old age of 35.

I am not suggesting colleges start creating degree programs for sports. What I am suggesting is that college should be for higher education and job training, not for pursuing a hobby that may or may not land you a career. What football needs is a minor league, and I don’t mean arena football or anything similar. I mean, there should be a way for athletes to become pros without going through the college system. Because, frankly, they don’t need a four-year institution to teach them how to play football. They know how to play, they just need experience and training. Athletes who are serious about their sport should be allowed to focus on it and be paid for their work. They shouldn’t have to pay $40,000 for classes they don’t want to take if the real focus is practice and games. To put this in perspective, let’s compare football to a similar career choice: Ballet. Both are physical, take a great deal of time and training, and have only short durations for careers. You can go to ballet academies or major in ballet at many four-year colleges. But football has neither academies nor majors. Yet athletes get scholarships to attend college in order to play football, on the condition that they pass their classes.

There are many athletes out there who want to go to college for educational purposes because they acknowledge the unlikeliness of a professional career. However, there are also athletes who have no inclinations in that regard. They want to play. They could care less about school and only attend because it is the only way they can play. Players get drafted based on their skills, not on how they did on finals. No scout is out there asking if a player is good at writing essays if he just returned a 90-yard touchdown. I’m not saying that higher education isn’t useful to athletes, because it can be useful to those who seek it. I am saying that it isn’t necessary and forcing kids to shell out tuition money and attend classes they have no interest in has created an unsavory educational environment. In many of those big-name schools football over-shadows academic achievement so that students are passed in order to keep that talent on the field. That’s not fair to those kids and it’s not fair to everyone else who did the work. And what about athletes who want to play but can’t afford tuition? There are only so many scholarships. Is it really right for the already bloated college system to demand more money just so a kid can participate in an extra-curricular activity and hate his way through classes?

No. No more scholarships for non-degree programs. No more making money hand-over-fist off students. No more lost talent because of scholastic failings. Unless you want to start making everyone play sports in order to graduate. Then we’d all be in the same boat, eh?

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15AM00000022011 · 02:43

Premature Pumpkin Nation


To everything, there is a season. A time for sowing and reaping, for flowers and snow, for beaches and fire pits. I’m beginning to wonder, though, who is dictating the seasons these days. Whoever it is has some pretty interesting priorities.

Take Halloween. I love Halloween and given a choice, I would celebrate all year with ghoulish treats and ridiculous costumes. However, I know that in actuality I would tire of plastic vampire fangs and stripper-quality Bride of Frankenstein heels within a week. What makes holidays and seasons special is the limited time you spend with them. The novelty can only last so long before you start wishing for fewer zombies and more reindeer.

This basic reality seems to have escaped producers out there, who appear to be of the opinion that more is better ad nauseam. According to candy companies, I should have been devouring on ghost-shaped chocolates back in August, presumably to make sure I’m properly fattened for the traditional mid-winter sacrifice to ensure that the sun rises on January 1st. Companion to Halloween, Pumpkin Season is already laying claim to coffees and confections a whole month before pumpkins are normally harvested. And don’t even say “Black Friday” to me! It’s a despicable display of consumer greed and big business chicanery that we fall for every year, lambs obediently led to financial slaughter. Do you think they’ll finally make that one day of x-games level elbowing stretch to a week this year?

Then there is Christmas, which starts earlier than Halloween, barely holding back long enough to let the Back-to-School rush cool down. I have long had a touchy relationship with “the most wonderful time of the year,” primarily because of Christmas songs. As an Army musician, we logically started preparing for holiday concerts in October, and after doing two or three parades in freezing weather, Frosty the Snowman became a sickening dirge in my soul. Since getting out, I have cringed through the piping of Jingle Bells before Halloween, have sickened at the crass commercialism, and dreaded the ever-increasing expectations for the latest toy for the nieces and nephews to tire of before the colorful wrapping paper hits the floor. I have to tell myself that the season of joy and goodwill toward men is only for children, because the adults are demonstrating none of these things. The adults are too busy bickering over what the holiday is about, how it should be celebrated, and who is allowed to celebrate it.

If this is upsetting to you, good. It should be. We have allowed Starbucks and Walmart to define our needs. Yes, needs. We do not equate the holidays as a time to splurge a bit on “wants” for others. We need to fill the stockings. We need to cover the lawn in giant, inflatable Charlie Brown Halloween tableaus. We need to drink clove-heavy “pumpkin” coffee for four months. It’s for a limited time only! We only have a third of the year to enjoy cloves and nutmeg and cinnamon! BUY ALL THE THINGS!!!

Well, I love pumpkin season. I love pumpkin coffee, cupcakes, and donuts. I am well-known for my pumpkin muffins, which I roast my own pumpkin for. But I am tired of it being shoved down my throat for more profit. This season, I will not be affirming their marketing practices. I will not pretend that it’s sweater weather when it’s 80° outside. I will not force fall on my senses. I will enjoy the lasting vestiges of summer until the season has passed. Then I will glory in the changing colors and the crisp air with a pumpkin coffee.

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15AM00000022011 · 02:41