Saturday, August 29, 2015

Do you know Jessica?

Do you know Jessica?  I just love her so much!!

Back in the year 1999, I was working as a technical writer for a British company in the middle of America and Jessica was hired as the office manager and I realized in short form that she was amazing.

I sat at my desk in a cube farm and she sat up front at the reception desk.  She was the Pam to my Jim.   I'd wander over to reception and we'd crack wise and ponder her love life and meander through conversations about life, the universe and everything (Jessica will get your Douglas Adams references).  She made the long days a lot shorter by dint of being funny and sweet and smart and giving me someone to talk to when the days felt too long, as office days often do.

Once she walked through the halls of the office and belched right out loud and made me snort laugh from my desk.  All those Brits looked at us like we were so weird.  We didn't mind.

Sigh. She left me and headed off on adventures - she acted in shows (a thing at which she excels) and fell in love, got married, had a couple of super cute babies, started working in a glammy ad agency, got promoted, and bought a fab house.

So much life has happened to both of us since 1999!  The jobs and the romances (well, for her - it's just been me and Don the whole time) and the moves and them babies.  All the doubts and fears and successes and stories.  All the times one of us has said to the other, "Dude, I have got to tell you something!"  Or "OMG, have you read this?"  Or "Sigh, I feel..."

I'm so glad to have Jessica as my friend.
And now we Skype all day every day and now she makes long, overwhelming days seem short and manageable by making me laugh and listening to me bitch and cluing me into things like Ole Miss Dorm rooms on Pinterest.  If you click that link, there's a real danger that the preciousness and privilege might blind you.  If you feel compelled, I recommend you have a friend on hand to have a similar Skype chat with:

I hope you have a friend like that.  It's pretty awesome.

Jessica, to reiterate: you are warm and funny and smart and sweet and so so beautiful.  You're a great friend, a great mother, an all around great motherfucking person. I am goddamn lucky I get to be your friend.  You are KILLING at this being alive thing.

Welcome to #hotforty, the coolest damn club in town.  I hope your whole day feels just like this:

Monday, August 10, 2015

A Gentle Segue from Megyn Kelly to Progressive Problems

Sigh.  Megyn.  You are exhausting.  I have to keep hitting the Escape key every time I type your name because Autocorrect really believes it should be MEGAN, a position with which I concur.  But this is petty; spell your name however you want to.  Women get judged way too harshly for shit like that.  People are all "Brandi? With an i?  Bimbo."  Whereas men are free to walk around being called "Geoff"or "Kristoffer" or "Jaxon" with complete impunity (unless, of course, they're black men).  I'm with you, Megyn, I don't like gendered double-standards.

But here's the thing, Megyn, your outrage and empathy begin and end exactly as far as your own experience and no further.  And that, my ersatz feminist friend, is a problem.  It is a problem with your whole damn network and almost every damn right-winger I know.

Let me put it this way: if someone trips you, it is neither surprising nor courageous to take a stand against being tripped. If, on the other hand, a huge chunk of Americans are tripped daily and ask that they stop being tripped, you show up on the Fox Network and go all "If you don't want to get tripped, stop walking down the street, dumbass."

Megyn Kelly dedicated 45 segments to hammer on about the New Black Panther Party which was just, like, two guy who didn't even do anything.  Megyn Kelly is a really smart woman who pretends she doesn't understand what's wrong with "#alllivesmatter."  A 14 year old girl in a bikini is tackled and pinned to the ground by a grown-ass cop and Megyn Kelly wants to make sure you know that this child "was no saint."  Megan Kelly thinks it's important that your kids know that Jesus and Santa are white because little black and brown kids need to recognize that if they want something, they're only going to get it when a white person gives it to them, up to and including, I suppose, eternal salvation.

Let's not make a hero of Megyn Kelly.  Megyn Kelly is a Fox company woman.

Hillary, for the love of the FSM, stop.

That said, my fellow white progressives, before we are fully free to excoriate Megyn, we had oughta  clean up own house.  It's a little dirty now. For example: #blacklivesmatter interrupted a couple of Bernie Sanders events and white progressives committed the greatest white people problem there is and got all wearily mad because, goddammit, we always know best for everyone.  Jesus and Santa were white, right?  Wait...

Look, I get it.  I like Bernie Sanders.  I like Bernie Sanders a whole lot.  I think Bernie Sanders would be the best president for all Americans.  I think his point that black Americans suffer more for economic disparity than all other groups is fair.  Except that's not it, right?  If you're black, it doesn't really matter how gainfully employed you are.  Your life is riskier.  No matter what.

And progressives and liberals need to bear that in mind.  White feminists like me need to bear that in mind. And we all need to stop getting our feelings hurt when #blacklivesmatter activists fail to be fawning and grateful.  Got to clean that house.

#BlackLivesMatter interrupted Bernie Sanders a couple of times.  Bernie Sanders, who really is a good progressive, listened instead of getting all butthurt.  He hired a young, black racial justice activist as his national press secretary and, working with her, put together a racial justice platform.  In other words, #blacklivesmatter engaged in some really successful activism.  They weren't just peeing in progressive cornflakes.

Also, not for nothing, remember this: when we condescend to successful activists, it makes us look kinda dumb.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Hello! Miss Me?

Did you miss me?  It's been such a long time.  But the last few weeks have been all:

And no one has told me what a great job I did. I am a slave for approval.  I am all kinds of Lisa Simpson. Will one of you guys tell me I did a great job? Can I get it on a post-it?

I haven't done a great job on my little blog.  I've abandoned all (both) of my readers and left you to your own devices.  I'm sure all (both) of you are thinking:

I know.  But, still, my name's not Bob!  Although... I think I could pull it off. What do you think?  Bob Bon?

Me too!

Anyhow, in these intellectually bereft, blog-less weeks I've thought of some things.  I've been thinking about how white people need to stop being butthurt when black people talk about racism.  I've also been thinking about how Laney is 12 (TWELVE!) and that seems so grown up and on the verge.  And I've also been thinking about this thing that happened when I was walking to the grocery store, and since race relations in America and incipient teenager-dom feel like too much right now, I'm gonna tell you about the thing that happened when I was walking to the grocery store, cause it made me mad and better out than in, ya know?

So, I was walking to the grocery store and listening to a podcast, probably Nerdist, and I passed a couple of guys. One of them said something which I didn't hear on account of the podcast.  So I popped my earbud out (on account of how I am unfailingly polite) and said, "Sorry, I didn't catch that," and he said (and this is a direct quote), he said "Hey, you got them titties!"

Well, I suppose this is empirically true. As an adult female person I come equipped with breasts, of roughly the same size and shape.  And as an adult female person, I have had them commented upon dozens and dozens of varyingly insulting and inappropriate times.  And, as as adult female person with some sense of self, my first reaction should have been anger.  Good, ladylike anger.  Like so:

Instead I worried that I wasn't dressed appropriately.  I tucked my head down and walked quickly past worried that I was showing off the good china or something. I am a 46 year old woman, who had dressed herself earlier that day in a sports bra, a tank top and a goddamn sweatshirt.  But I still thought it was my fault.  And I know, intellectually, that even had I been walking to the grocery store wearing nothing but pasties and earbuds, it was still not that asshole's job to comment on my body.

My reaction should have been:

But I default to polite.  As a woman-person, I come by it honestly.  Our bodies have been seen as part of the public domain for so long, it's just real hard to just stop.  For 35 years (!) men, have been shouting shit at me on the street, and I've been ducking my head and walking quickly away, ashamed and embarrassed (which was the goal, after all).

But, the next time it happens, as god is my witness, that man is going to get an earful from me.  I'm gonna yell all sorts of swears and embarrass him publicly and make sure he thinks twice before he does it again.

I know. I won't.  I'll always start off polite and then be embarrassed.

Do you guys think there's a brain chip out there for this?

Monday, June 8, 2015

Puberty? Go F**k Yourself.

I was at a kid party with Laney on Saturday, where she was the oldest kid there by a stretch.  I was chatting with some other moms when Laney wandered over and stood next to me. As she stood there, another mom took a look at Laney and said, "That's your ELEVEN year old?"

Look, I get what she was coming from... this isn't one of those whiney "can you believe the shocking insensitivity" posts.

(Note: there are too many of those.  There is entirely too much outrage on the Internet.  Let's all just dial it back and stop making easily offended into a virtue.)

Even though it is the most expected thing in the world, it is so surprising when a kid stops looking like a kid.  And it's a little scary when you're the parent of a little kid to see how soon that little kid look stops.  Surprises me, and I see the kid every day.

Laney hit puberty on the young side of normal - whatever normal is.  And while I don't claim to remember childhood with startling clarity, I (like pretty much everyone walking the earth) remember hitting puberty.   Puberty was like:

Or this:

A lot of this:

And a steady stream of this:

Because, puberty?

I wish there were some way to make Laney see how amazing her body is.  I can't persuade her that her long, strong legs and beautiful, changing face are amazing.  She's just too much in the middle of the shitstorm that is puberty.  She wants to hide underneath hoodies and long pants and can't stand for her picture to be taken because she's so uncomfortable with how she looks.

My beautiful girl!

Sigh, this too shall pass.  But in the meantime, Puberty?  

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Dogs Life

This morning I was having a very pleasant dream when Dog #2 decided it was time for me to get up.

I have lost all control over my mornings due to these dogs.  Every morning is the same.

Dog #2 kicks it off with an Oscar-worthy performance of passive/aggression. "Don't let me wake you," he seems to say through loud, nasal exhalations and vigorous ear-shakes.  I find myself fantasizing about having easy access to a tranquilizer gun by the bed.

He keeps up the performance until I get up.  Like this:

We go downstairs, emancipate Dog #1 from her crate.  Dog #2 has not yet accepted a crated existence.  I know: this is all my fault.

We head outside to our tiny yard, for ablutions.  I don't even care.  I am in my pajamas in clear view of the ample street and automobile traffic of Sheridan Road.

Dog #2 pees and then heads immediately back inside anticipating breakfast.  Dog #1, on the other hand, takes advantage of this outdoor time to smell literally every goddamn smell there is to smell. There I am, in my pajamas, in clear view of all the passersby, strangers and neighbors and strange neighbors (actually, I guess I'm the strange neighbor in this scenario), hollering "GINGER!  GINGER!  COME!  GINGER! GODDAMMIT!" and she's all:

So I have to wander out into the dewy, peeful yard to pick her up and bring her back into the house.

Once inside, it's time to feed them.  While they tear through their food like they haven't eaten in years, I am now free to sit down with my morning Coke Zero and have a little time to check out social media and have a general blogaround.  

This lasts for about 13 seconds because Dog #2 has a digestive system that operates at Mach 3 and now he has to poop.  Have I mentioned this is how it goes every morning?

So back outside we go where Dog #2 immediately poops, which I then pick up and throw away, failing to have noticed that Dog #1 has sneaked outside and is once again ignoring me while smelling every goddamn smell there is to smell.

Back out, still in pajamas, through the dewy, peeful yard to bring her back inside. This brings us to now, as I sit on the couch writing this while the other two humans who live here and both the damn dogs are sleeping.

I still love all of them.  Dogs and human a lot.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Another Note on Giving Up God

Even before I  decided to let go of god, I was always confounded by one of the primary objections to atheism.  Someone comes out as atheist and someone, aghast, asks "how can you be so sure?"

I was confused because I couldn't grok why believing that there is no god required more confidence than believing that there is one.

But some recent hearsay has clarified it a little for me - people are wondering how you can be so sure because the stakes are so much higher if you don't believe than if you do.  If you don't believe and the religious text in question is correct, you go to hell.  If you do and it's wrong, no harm/no foul.

When the lightbulb went on about this (arguably, a whole lot later than it should have) it reminded me of a Bible verse from Revelation (note: Revelation. There is no book in the Bible called Revelations.  I know a lady who is routinely driven bonkers by that common mistake):

Because you are lukewarm and neither hot not cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth
-Revelation, 3:16

I remember that verse from my Christian schooling (which was ample, you guys).  Maybe I remember it because it's so gross, or maybe because it's very evocative.  As I interpret the verse (and I'm no scholar), I'm pretty sure it implies that god doesn't care to be treated like a safety school.  God doesn't want to enter into an agreement with you that if neither of you have found someone by 40, you'll just marry each other.

If you're going to believe in god, I think you ought to believe in God.  Not believe in "well, I might as well just in case."  

My atheism is a life choice.  I can't know for sure if there's a god or not. You can't really prove a negative.  I really don't think so, especially not in the way god has been explained to me for my whole life.  But it doesn't matter: I choose to operate under the assumption that all we have is us, so we'd better be good to each other.  Ain't no one coming in to rescue us.  We're on our own.

And I also don't want to live my life lukewarm.  I'm not going to believe in something because I'm scared I might be wrong. Such weak tea! The very thought makes me want to vomit myself out of my mouth (not really - but that is an excellent descriptor, right?  Even if the logistics are a little hard to conceive).

I love, by the way, to talk religion. I'm neither scornful nor precious about it.  If you want to discuss this, tell me I'm wrong,  ask me questions, go for it.  I probably won't offend you, unless you're one of those people who are super quick to offense.  If you are, stop being like that; life is short with or without god, don't waste it with your dander up.  There's probably a Bible verse to that effect.

Monday, May 11, 2015


I hate starting a new book.  But I love to read.  I love to be in a book, fighting the battle between oh my god what happens next and savor savor savor.  You know that feeling?

I love to be under the spell. I remember reading A Tale of Two Cities while sitting on the patio between 11th and 12th grade and moving the book closer and closer to my face as the light dimmed with the setting sun, unwilling to break the spell before Dickens did.  I remember reading To Kill A Mockingbird in the tub and letting the water run cold, unwilling to break the spell before Harper Lee did.

I love that.  Love it.  It is a great joy of my life.

But, man, starting a book is a chore.  I take no pleasure in introduction.  I'm not one of those people who cracks open a book eagerly.  Beginnings are work. But once I'm in, I'm your best friend.  I will love you so much I'll sit naked and chilly in a cold bath, I'll find a way to read in the dark.

This is probably why I love to re-read books.  I love to pick up a book that I loved and remind myself of why I loved it.  Over the weekend I re-read One Hundred Years of Solitude and found it just as weird and beautiful and sad and gorgeous as I did the first time I read it, but I was liberated from the what happens next battle, because I knew what happened next.  Reading that book at 20 is a real different experience than reading it 46. I know.  I've done it both ways.

I've read To Kill A Mockingbird a dozen times, at least.  I've read Middlemarch four times.  I've only read Ragtime once, but I intend to read it again this year.  I've read Gone With the Wind four or five times, but never as grown-ass woman, because I'm not sure I could take all those happy slaves  - but I'm sort of interested in revisiting Scarlett now because I suspect she may be a real feminist hero. Great Expectations is an old friend that I have visited a few times.  I spent last Sunday on the  couch, hanging out with Bridget Jones for the third time.  Lonesome Dove?  Read it at least 5 times. I've made my way through the Harry Potter series three times.  Maybe four.

It's not just the comfort of the familiar.  We might not ever really change, but we do grow and the books we love grow with us. There's value in it.  I love it. Plus it's so much easier than starting a new book. I'm lazy.  I can live with it.

Some of the other big readers I know don't re-read because there are too many books out there they haven't read at all.  I get that.  And I admire that.  But I hate starting a new book.  I love revisiting an old one.

While I live, I'll read.  And I don't plan to regret what I haven't read.

When the lights go out, I won't mourn Moby Dick (I tried, man, I did. That book is boring) or Proust.  Maybe Proust.  I would like to read Proust. But, really, when the bill comes due, I'd like to pay it while reading the Circle of Prydain.  Those were the first books I really loved.  And I have read those five books 20 times.  And I hope to read them 20 more while I breathe air.  I hope they're the last thing I read.

That said, recommend some books to me - I'll read them.  I hate to start books.  But eventually, you get in them.  They'll never be The Book of Three, but they may make the re-read list.

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