Saturday, November 4, 2017

I'm So Tired, but I Just ...

I knew this would happen. I took three days off around the weekend to burn up some PTO and then, despite a truly lackluster effort, failed to get the eff out of town as I had intended.  As expected during this stayfree minibreak (holla if you get the ref!), I have spent my time on a crushing series of household tasks and now most of my body hurts and it's 7:45 pm on a Saturday and I am ready for bed! Note to self: next time, get the eff out of town. Prepare to wear makeup and the cute shoes and step out for a nice meal in some suburb or something where the Shit That Needs Doing can't get done because I am not there.

That said, despite this weariness (which has roughly quadrupled due to the note-taking on how very many household tasks remain to be done), I've had this thing on my mind for the past few days and so I am fighting through this wave of fatigue and Taking To My Blog like the damn she-ro I am.

So, two things happened a year ago. A brilliant, highly qualified, passionate woman with clearly articulated plans on how she would aid and improve the lives of her fellow Americans lost an election. Excuse me; that should have read "lost" an election. A dumb, racist, sexist narcissist with zero qualifications for the job, a ridiculous combover and an obvious deeply realized sociopathy won it. Excuse me; that is to say "won" it.

Sometime following that, a bunch of powerful men started falling from grace due to their sexual crimes, ranging from rape to harassment to general piggishness, coming to light.

I believe (as likely do very many wannabe think piecers like me) that the former begat the latter.

Because, here's the thing: this election queered the deal that we women have tacitly agreed to for lo what is basically the sum total of This American Experience. We'll tolerate a lot of your shit, men. We'll agree that your discomfort at being called out for your piggishness is more uncomfortable than being subjected to it. But you have got to, menfolks, stand a little bit back as we progress. You have got to agree that it's OK for your daughters to get a skosh closer to equality than their mothers.

And then that goddamn abortion of an election happened and American women were like:

and then:

And that's when the powerful pigs began falling from the lofty positions, which they'd assumed after coasting by on all the privileges masculinity affords.


While I was overjoyed at seeing the Weiners and Weinsteins crumble down, a little part of me still pitied the piggish pigs (if not the harassers and the rapists). The men who've been feathering their fragile egos with awkward smiles following inappropriate flirtations. The pig who might not be aware of that deal we women made. Sure, he hasn't questioned it too deeply. But on some level he knows that while some philosophers might tell you that the unexamined life isn't worth living, there's a fellow out there named Oedipus that is all:

And they carried blithely on.

Earlier this week, a friend told me about hanging out at a hotel bar where some 50 year old man in the pickle business was talking to some 30 year old woman in the pickle business (this is a real thing that happened) while making jokes about showing her his pickle.

I thought, shit, that old dinosaur of a pig probably has no idea that he is gross and inappropriate and stupid and is either making the woman on the other end of his skeevy jokes roll her eyes or feel like she has to double-bolt her hotel room door that night. Pity his vanishing relevance in the culture.

But then I thought, wait! He doesn't give a shit about how she feels, only about how she makes him feel. In my clever (stolen, I think, but I can't remember from whom) Oedipus reference above, Jocasta is left out of the equation all together. Why am I defaulting to worrying about his feelings while assuming hers count less, hurt less, are less?

And with that insight, any pity I might have felt for his disappearing relevance was gone and all I thought was, you know, Pickle Man:

I don't really enjoy other people's pain (except maybe Weiner and Weinstein because fuck those fucking fuckers). But we women really do need to liberate ourselves from the entrenched, abiding feeling that female discomfort matters less than male and tell men to cut the shit when they act like that. The way the world is going (finally!) he might actually hear it.

And if he doesn't?

Monday, October 30, 2017

I Fear Silence... Can I Get a Grade on this Assignment?

Circa 1996, I was having a conversation with my dear old friend, Val, in which I said totally matter of factly, "I fear silence." And I do, dear reader. I cannot tolerate a lull in conversation. What is certainly a workaday banality for most of all the other people in the world is, to me, as though someone is pounding a nail into my head with a violent hammer of awkward silence.

And so, over the course of 40ish years, I've mastered the art of conversation. You understand, of course, that by "mastered", I mean "capable of filling the briefest conversational lull with desperate, panicked chit chat."

I am far more exhausted by this than exhausting.

I think.

Tonight I had a work dinner with some folks I don't know who work for the company that acquired us and I had hoped to be professionally impressive. I wore lipstick, for Christ's sake! I put product into my hair! As I walked in to the restaurant, I noticed that everyone was sitting around the table in unbearable silence, which was probably only because they stopped the conversation as I walked in to greet me and had been chatting comfortably up until then. But I couldn't risk it! I had to start GABBING AT EVERYONE!!!

Chat chat "and how did you end up in this town?" chat chat "how old are your kids?" chat chat "what a dreadful commute" chat chat chatterly chat chat chat chattity chat chat chat fucking chat.

I have no idea if the folks I work with are glad to have me around because I'll bear more than my fair share of the conversational load or if they are thinking "dear god, would she just shut the everloving fuck up?!"

Maybe both?

If I weren't so terrified of awkward silence, then I could sit there and take the temperature of the dinner table. But then it would be quiet and everyone would be looking around and, dear god, why don't we all just put a goddamn bullet in our heads! SOMEONE HAS TO TALK NOW!!!

I'm so tired.

Did I talk too much tonight?

By the way, I'm great in text. Why can't we all just text?

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Getting Woke F'n Sucks, You Guys

First of all, I think we can all agree that the expression "woke" had jumped the shark almost as hard as the phrase "jumped the shark" has jumped the shark. But it's been a busy weekend and I'm trying to get some stuff done before Outlander o'clock (the sexiest hour of the week!) and one of those things is that I'm trying real hard to do is to update this silly blog more as I have all of the thoughts and none of the energy and I must needs get the thoughts out of the head.

So. I was driving down the street a few days ago and Led Zepplin's "Whole Lotta Love" came on and I was jamming out and singing along when it occurred to me that this song was written by Muddy Waters. Led Zeppelin fans would probably say this was more homage than rip off, but how much classic rock was just white guys ripping off black artists? How much did classic rock profit off music that didn't belong to its artists? How much did classic rock fail to give credit where it belonged?

And let's not even get started on Elvis. Or how very many people really think that Rapture by Blondie was the first rap song.

This is really apropos of nothing - I just think she's so fabulous even if she didn't, sigh, invent rap

Another thing: I was, as I am prone to, fondly remembering a moment with my dear, departed father. My brother and I were in high school (Nolan may have been in the early days of college) and my dad told us this story about an econ class he took in college where the professor talked about how women controlled 43% of the wealth in the country. And then my dad laughed and said "but they control 100% of the pussy."

When I was 16 or so I thought it was hilarious. There was my dad saying "pussy" and engaging us in some adult humor.

But 32 years later it occurs to me that my wonderful father, my dear, sweet hilarious father was wasn't at all sexist and who always encouraged me in the same way he did my brother and who was so far ahead of his time in so many ways, was still OK with looking at "pussy" as a commodity separate from the woman it's attached to.

And I know - it was a joke. And I know, Robert Plant revered Muddy Waters. I know! I know! I know!

But then I start to think of all the movies from my teenage years. How many girls my own age got raped on film and I laughed and laughed?

What do we do with all this wokeness (I hate myself for the phrase, I really do). Do we have to throw away all the things we loved? Do I need to castigate my father from beyond the grave for his minor infractions?

The answer: no. Of course not. That's dumb.

The answer: you acknowledge the foibles and sins of the past, admit that "it was a different time" is inadequate. And then keep your eyes and ears open, listen to people and believe their experiences,  and always try to be better.

I pretty much think the purpose of life is to always be trying to be better. And to be woke.

Seriously, you guys, what is a less obnoxious word? Help me out...

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Quick Lunchtime Bloggity

It's been a while since I did one of these, but I just had the strangest experience out walking Ginger so I'm gonna tell you about it.

I walked past this fellow in a tight white tee-shirt and a bald head looking pretty much like the poster child for the Aryan Nation.  He was staring at his phone waiting for someone to let him into a building. Ginger barked at him.

He responded "fuck you!"

I had just started a laughing apology and then he said "fuck you!" so I decided best to walk on.

Here's the thing, though: he wasn't saying "fuck you" to me. He was saying "fuck you" to Ginger, who is a 20 pound beagle who knows only the following words in English: Ginger, hungry, walkies, go pee, and no. So Ginger didn't care. "Fuck you" is not in her vernacular (although, if I'm being honest "Goddammit, Ginger!" may be) She was focused on the post-poop treat coming her way ("Treat" is another word she knows. She may be a genius!)

And it wasn't even like he got mad and then said "fuck you." He just kind of .... sneezed it.  He was startled and his instant reaction to being startled was "fuck you."

It may be that Ginger, who is not prone to barking at strangers on the sidewalk, is just a really good job of character and Breitbart fan there knew she had his number. Hence: "fuck you."

Far more likely, though, he's just a guy with a passel of "fuck you"s rattling around in his psyche; "fuck you"s he deploys carelessly, without regard for the target, utterly unbothered by the offense.

Does anyone know of an island where we can send all the unreasonably angry white men? They are really fucking things up these days.

Friday, October 6, 2017

I Don't Want to Do This Either

I was listening to the Pod Save guys recently and they were talking about the blowback to NFL players taking a knee. They remarked that, of course, these players would rather just play football. It blew their minds how many people failed to understand that had any NFL player their druthers, black men wouldn't be so vulnerable to police violence and then they could just play some football (that's a lot of hyperlinks there, right? Do you see why they're kneeling?)

We'd all really rather just go on about our lives, wouldn't we? Calling people on their shit is a lot harder, a lot less fun, than just ignoring it or, magically, living in a place where you're not subjected to other people's shit.

Which is all to say: I don't want to do this either. I don't want to be the one telling you to stop calling the grown-ass women you work with "girls." I don't want to do that. I really wish you'd just, you know, not. But you do. And so many of you not only don't bother to interrogate how inherently demeaning this is, you get your feelings hurt when you get called on it.

(oh those delicate male feelings... you guys... ovary up!)

And I don't want to tell you that Hugh Hefner's death hasn't earned anyone's lachrymose lamentation. He was a bad man who did bad things. I don't want to interrupt your enjoyment of a tasteful nude or two. But you look away from the women he turned into things and talk about the good stuff he did for men and it's shitty and gross and you need to stop.

I don't want to police all the ways you casually allow and excuse misogyny. It's exhausting. Oooh... gif time:

But ignoring it and moving past it? Guys, this how we ended up with Donald Fucking Trump and Mike Fucking Pence who are two very different men, joined in their virulent (if differently expressed) loathing of women.

Today Ezra Klein, whom I'd count as one of the good guys, tweeted this:

Guys, there's not a woman alive who's even mildly surprised by this story. Of course Weinstein was a pig. The upper echelons of American society are comprised almost exclusively of pigs.

Ezra, poor guy, took it on the Twitter chin today for that post. I felt a little bad for him because he's not a sexist. But it's just so frustrating how many men live in easy, willful obtuseness about how much shitty shitty shit there is out there for women.

So, ladies, we have to continue being exhausted and being exhausting. We have to keep pointing out the constant, casual, cavalier sexism that is our everyday life.  Most men are good men. They're just a little ignorant (maybe on purpose?), having been inculcated in a system that rewards and excuses misogyny. If we make them see this (which is so exhausting), then they'll get better.

And, men, join us. Listen to the women in your life. Don't make excuses based on male intentionality: your intentions don't exist in a vacuum. And, men, I've been saying this for years, when you're in the motherfucking metaphorical locker room, don't keep your trap shut when the real hateful shits spew their real hateful shit. You might think they just talk that way, but I'll guaran-damn-tee you they do some violence on the women around them. When men talk about women like that, they treat them like that too - just not in front of anyone they're afraid of or want to impress.

In short, we all have to be exhausting and exhausted.  These are exhausting times. God I'm tired.

This is a good idea. I'm gonna go watch Parks and Rec and then go to sleep. And tomorrow? I'll fight another day.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Trip to the Grocery Store

I worked last night until about 7:30 at which point I realized there wasn't a bit of food in the house. I was about to break in my Postmates app and have someone bring me some food but then I remembered that Laney doesn't like pizza (what a giant weirdo, right? who doesn't like pizza!?) and that also I was lazy af on Sunday and it was my own fault there was no food in the house and also I am a grown-up, responsible person who does not need to order in just cuz there's no food in the house and also even if I did get dinner that way,  I probably wouldn't be able to order in a Diet Dr. Pepper and English Muffin for breakfast the next morning.

Faced with such deluge of rationale, I put on my shoes and hauled ass to the grocery store. Not all heroes wear capes (I mean, I was. I always wear my cape on Mondays).

The store was pretty quiet, but there was this one 50ish white guy who was just everywhere I was. I turned down the bread aisle, there he was. I turned away from the pizza freezer (because I live with a freaky teen who doesn't like pizza), there he was. I decided to get packaged turkey for Don so I didn't have to stand next to him at the deli counter.

But it's not just that he was everywhere I was. If it'd just been a silly coincidence like that, I probably would have smiled and had a "there you are again" moment. But he was that guy. That guy who fixed me with that look and that remark every time I ended up anywhere in his atmosphere - that immediate, quasi-jocular demand that I stop what I'm doing and just pleasant at him. Smile back. Laugh at his jokes. Reassure him that he's just fucking delightful when really he's just fucking exhausting.

Ladies, you know who I'm talking about here. He shows up when you're alone in an elevator or waiting room, or in any way unaccompanied in some public space.  Maybe he's hitting on you or maybe he just knows he can demand that any woman he finds moderately attractive do the dance for him; smile and chuckle at his jokes and hoist his ego.

Because he knows, even if he claims he doesn't know, that you're probably going to accommodate him since failure to accommodate has about 30-40% return rate of BITCH.

So I just tried to avoid him.

Unfortch, the checkout line allowed no such cowardice as there was just the one cashier. He kept trying to strike up a conversation with me. I kept one-wording him back with the tense half-smile. He'd say something to me, I'd respond tersely, but politely. He'd turn to the cashier and try with her. She'd respond tersely, but politely. It was a tense checkout lane at the Howard Jewel last night. Finally, he paid for his groceries and left.

And there I was, and the cashier was a young woman, and both the people behind me were women. And when I said, "That guy was too friendly, right", the cashier stopped, looked at me and said "I know, right?!" And then everyone relaxed and we laughed and everything was cool at The Jewel.

But, lookit, I'm not writing this to talk about those kinds of tiresome men and their tiresome demands. I know if you're reading this, even if you have that pesky y chromosome, you're not that guy. My readers are all sensitive and intelligent and can read the damn room and wouldn't demand flirty engagement from a tired middle-aged woman in the middle of the night in the middle of the grocery store (8:00 pm is TOO the middle of the night!)

The reason I'm writing this is because it struck me in that moment that through most of my life, I've had it reinforced through thousands of cultural factors that it's women who are the bummers, who make everyone behave and act right, who gum up the good times. And it was so ingrained that it took me to this ripe old age to realize that, hey, that's not fair! Women are much more aggressively tone- and behavior-policed than men and can often only relax when the guys go away.

Where's our damn beer commercial? It can be for Zima. I had a Zima a couple of nights ago. It was refreshing. I think we may have been too hard on Zima in the 90s. But that's a topic for another blogging...

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Let's Discuss Our Feelings

Remember 2010? Before the nightmarish reality we're living in now? In an interview with Matt Lauer, George W Bush said the worst moment of his presidency was when Kanye West said "George W Bush doesn't care about black people."  Let's revisit the whole exchange and remember that while he is certainly better than what we have now, he was still pretty terrible:

(Click to embiggen)

Had New Orleans 9th Ward been filled with white people, the response to Katrina would have been vastly different. 

(I had to do ONE gif!)
But George Bush had no problem claiming that his hurt feelings were more important than a devastating flood that killed almost 2000 people and dispossessed thousands more. Shoot, George Bush thought being called racist by Kanye West was worse than 9 Freaking 11.

We have to stop doing that, my Nillas. We really do.  Being called racist is not worse than racism. In particular:
  • If you're investing energy railing against the casting of Black actors in roles that you thought belonged to white people, you're part of the problem
  • If you're arguing on-line or on barstools that it's not racism keeping Colin Kaepernick out of the NFL, you're part of the problem.
  • If you're putting out dumb tweets talking about how a democratic senator having been in the Klan somehow mitigates Trump's racism, you're part of the problem.
  • If you're talking about how only All Lives Matter isn't racist, you're a particularly dumb part of the problem.
  • And, for the love of God, If you're investing energy about how confederate memorials aren't actually celebrating white supremacy, you're part of the problem.
I follow some Black twitterers who go hard on White women from time to time. And sometimes, I get them bad feelings and want real bad to say "But I don't do that!" But then, I stop myself and go:

(OK, 2 gifs...)
There is no worse response to accusations of racist collusion by White women than going all #NotAllWhiteWomen. Don't go all #NotAllWhiteWomen. Rather than rush to defend ourselves, my fellow Brunchers, we need to rush to defend anti-racism.

White Supremacists are emboldened and loud and have all of the guns and a real powerful ally in the Racist-in-Chief. Our hurt feelings are a pretty minor consideration, all things considered.