Dining and Dying

Serves miso and doubles as an instrument.

Serves miso and doubles as an instrument.

 

Tonight was my mother’s something-year-old birthday and, as anyone who reads my happy little portion of hell on the internet knows, she was not in attendance. Regardless, my dad and I make it a point to go out to dinner each year to celebrate. It’s not necessarily a somber affair; it’s more of an acknowledgement that she’s still alive to us. Before you get ahead of yourself, know that this is merely symbolic. I’m not suggesting we had her taxidermied and hold a vigil each year while praying for the reanimation of her corpse. It’s just that we’ve recognized that someone can physically die, but they’re never really dead until you forget them. To us, Connie is very much alive.

Connie’s favorite restaurant was P.F. Changs, a place that serves Americanized Asian dishes and is a step up from, say, TGIFridays. It’s not a bad place, just not all that inspiring to me. We went though, the three of us, because that’s always where she wanted to go on her birthday.

Her passing did nothing to break this routine. Every September 10th, we’d pile into the car and head off to have some lettuce wraps and marinated sea bass. It was three years into this ritual that we finally admitted to ourselves that we fucking hated P.F. Changs. We’ve tried to celebrate in other ways ever since.

We went to our favorite restaurant this year, a tiny hibachi-style Japanese place that cooks your dinner at the table. Per usual, there was no pomp or circumstance. The three of us sat down at our own table and enjoyed the evening as we would if it were any other night. Connie wouldn’t have wanted us to dwell on her lack of presence. In fact, if any of us had gotten nostalgic, she probably would have shown up with an eye roll and said, “oh for Christ’s sake.

Overall, dinner was good and uneventful. We made the requisite jokes about Connie picking up the bill and/or haunting us, but that’s pretty standard for us. Just as I was thinking about how pleasantly normal the evening was, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. There was a change in the room, a distinct chill. I felt that chill to my marrow, and I knew, I just knew – she was there.

Sure enough, I looked up, and there she was. A woman with a vapid expression and a vague sense of reality was careening toward the table next to us with three young children in tow. She was that mom. Her boyfriend meandered behind them.

They sat down, and she casually settled each child into its proper receptacle. I turned back to my son who was telling me about Pokemon in a language I have yet to understand, and then it began–the symphony of terror began as I had anticipated.

The two little girls were whining about how they wanted a certain drink but the mother had said no. They turned to the boyfriend with hope in their eyes, but that hope was misplaced, because he barely acknowledged their presence. The son, who I’d place at an undersized 4 years old, was loudly banging his fork against his ceramic plate. Mom didn’t seem to notice. I will admit that becoming a mother gives you this awesome ability to filter out certain noises, but there was no mistaking this sound. My dad who is 60% deaf heard it, and if he heard it, so did the rest of the world.

Mom didn’t seem to notice when her son, desperate for attention, began screaming wildly as if possessed by actual Satan. This went on for a solid minute before she managed to tear her eyes away from her boyfriend (who was also oblivious) and pick said child up in order to distract him. Good, I thought. Show him some attention, have a discussion with him about proper behavior, and shut that shit down.

We were on the same page until the part where she took him up to the decorative gong and encouraged him to play the song of his people, a cacophony of metallic punches and kicks that failed to adhere to any rhythm. Satisfied, the young conductor sauntered back to his chair and resumed his post. Mom fell in step with a pleased smirk on her face.

Peace reigned for a whole three minutes before the tiny musician found a new instrument: a plastic bowl. He banged it wildly on the granite tabletop. Unimpressed by the noise, he threw it forcibly on the tile floor. Everyone in the restaurant cringed at the noise, much to the glee of the boy. My father and I exchanged horrified glances. What circle of hell were we in? What had we done to deserve this treatment? WHY, CONNIE, WHY?

A passing gentleman picked up the bowl and returned it to the little dude. Mom thanked him for the safe return of the instrument and murmured a vague, “what do you say?” to her son. His response was to strike up another tune by throwing the bowl yet again. Mom laughed. My dad and I exchanged looks once again. Had we…did we drink all the Sake? Were we trashed? Was this real life?

I want to tell you that the Mom finally had enough and talked some sense in her child, but that’s not what fucking happened. Ten more minutes of this horrific concerto continued.

I managed to tear my eyes away and I looked over at my son who was quietly eating his chocolate ice cream, giggling to himself about God knows what, and that’s when I realized how lucky I was to have such a well-behaved child. I realize that every parent thinks their child is some mystical gift from God, but I really hit the jackpot. Never once have I had a real issue with my son. I attribute 60% of this to his complacent, introspective nature, and 40% to me being hyper-vigilant that he wasn’t one of those kids. I looked back at that Mom with confusion. Why did she let that happen? Did she not care?

As I tallied up my winnings, I lost focus. Soon there was an interruption in the bowl smashing choir and an uptick in amused laughter.

I looked over, and there he was, my well-behaved angel doing what I suspect is the Harlem Shake in-between the tables.

Maybe this admission makes me a hypocrite, but I’d like to point out the obvious difference between a child loudly slamming a bowl against tile and a child quietly jiving in the corner for your entertainment. Not to mention, this kid has some fucking MOVES, even if I don’t fully understand what those moves are.

We paid our tab and left. A couple people gave my son high fives. I didn’t give the miniature maestro a second glance as we piled into the car and headed home, but I’m still thinking about him.

Parents…there will always be people who are displeased to see that you’ve brought your child out to eat. Those people feel that way because some parent out there lets their children destroy the peace and sanctity of a nice meal out. Quit being fucking lazy and teach your children some respect. If you can’t manage that, then don’t take them out.

It’s really not that hard—I managed to instill a sense of appropriate behavior in my child and I fucking kill fake plants for Christ’s sake. You can do this. Get your shit together. And if you can’t manage to do this but absolutely must go out, take your kid to Chuck E. Cheese. They take all kinds there.

Last but not least, Happy Birthday, Mom. I firmly believe you sent this experience to us just to spite us, and for that I’d like to dedicate this slow clap to you.

 

The Anti-Feminist Feminists

"I was told there would be feminism."

“I was told there would be feminism.”

The drive to/from work is one of the few opportunities I have to let my mind wander wherever it wants to go. Anything goes during that time; it’s my time. I get to think about everything or nothing, and that uninterrupted 15 minutes is something I cherish, because it’s fleeting. Once I get to work it’s time to check e-mails, return phone calls, make sure I’m still employed and I haven’t turned into the pixie version of Milton from Office Space, hunt down my pens that have come to life overnight and sauntered off into the void.

And then I go home and it’s the same distractions but with different faces. I need to get dinner ready, I need to catch up on personal projects, I need to finish up work, get my son prepped for school the next day, double check that he’s still alive, take a shower…the list goes on and on.

That car ride though, that 15 minutes of peace before and after the chaos, I treasure it. And on this particular morning, I let my mind wander to a looming conflict that I know I’ll have to settle at some point. I looked at both sides of the argument and realized that neither of us were right, but that seemed like the lazy way out, so I crafted my “let’s make peace” speech. My opinion on this particular conflict is unwavering, as is theirs, and despite my complete disagreement with it, I feel like it’s important for me to both acknowledge and respect their opinion. Respect is HUGE to me. In fact, it’s nearly as important as cheese in my life, and that speaks volumes because I would gladly eat cheese for every meal of every day in my cheese castle while lounging on my cheese couch wearing my cheese dress.

It’s very easy to respect other people’s opinions when you commit yourself to understanding that everyone is different, therefore their perspective leads them down a different path than yours. It doesn’t mean they’re right or wrong, just observing a situation/conflict/whatever through a different lens. Additionally, I don’t feel like it’s my place to tell anyone that they’re wrong.

Until today. Today I read an article by, uh, The Chicks on the Right, and thank God I didn’t wear one of my favorite dresses, because my brain exploded. It was a messy affair and frightened my coworkers. I reassembled my brain and tried to sort it out.

These women are starting a series of columns about how they are right wing feminists and their first column, no shit, opens like this:

“The word “feminist” has been hijacked by liberals, and we’re taking it back.

You see, we ARE feminists.”                                                                                

I immediately double checked to make sure I hadn’t been redirected to The Onion, because, well, that’s the most unnecessarily aggressive series of statements I’ve seen come from the “feminist movement,” and I hope you see now why my head actually exploded.

I could summarize the article, but I think it’s important that you read it for yourself because a full summarization coming from me would be rife with sarcastic undertones, and I don’t think I could properly convey how utterly wrong they are. Instead, I’ll pull a couple of statements that stood out to me and just….do my thing.

“We’re sick of liberal feminists who screech “WAR ON WOMEN!” the second they’re faced with challenges — or with having to pay for their own birth control. It’s laughable when they depend on a cradle-to-grave government to take care of their every want (like guilt-free abortions and taxpayer-funded contraception), and then dress up in vagina costumes on Capitol Hill hollering for the government to keep its hands off their “lady parts.”

But…trying to take away a woman’s right to, as you put it, a “guilt-free abortion” IS a war on women. Me asking the government to take care of my every want would be me demanding a permanent discount at Mod Cloth because, fuck me, I love dresses. I would like to buy a new dress every damn day, and I think the government should pander to my desires. Buying a new dress is right up there with safe access to a medical procedure that I currently have the right to get.

As for “dressing up in vagina costumes,” there are much worse things, like Crocs. Crocs are egregious and serve no purpose whatsoever. A vagina costume makes a statement. You see, not everybody gets to have a trite little column in the newspaper, so we have to find a way to make an impact without the aid of western media.

“They either need to own up to needing a Sugar Daddy (whether he is in the form of a mate or a taxpayer) or woman-up and take care of themselves. Liberal “feminists” are proving what conservative feminists like us have known forever: They’re not feminists at all. They’re parasites.”

Here’s the crazy thing: there are many women who are actively trying to “take care of themselves.” The problem with “womaning-up” is that we still live in a country where we’re paid less than our male coworkers. It’s not a matter of not wanting to be independent, it’s a matter of logistics. I’m a single mother who has managed to make it work. I don’t need a man or a sugar-daddy to provide for my son and me, and I work for a pair of bosses (both male) who treat me with respect and compensate me for the work I do, not for the gender I am. I am a rarity. If anything, my life is an example of what could and should be, but let me reiterate this is a rarity. Let’s not ignore the fact that I’m a white, college-educated woman who grew up in an upper-middle class household. If you think that doesn’t play some part in me making it to where I am, then you’re stupid. My heart bleeds for the brilliant, hard-working women who didn’t have that leg up. No amount of “try” can break down the barriers of race, classism, and gender inequality, but I can see how thinking that would be easier. Easier, in this case, is synonymous with lazier, and most of your arguments in the article were born of sheer laziness. If I followed your logic, then I would be sitting here at my desk thinking, “you know, if I just imagine that a giant block of cheese will appear before me then it will actually happen.”

Magical thinking belongs in books and movies. Magical thinking is fiction.

“In other words, you’re not a feminist — you’re just pathetic. Rather than fall for the manufactured war-on-women nonsense that helped hand President Obama a second term, women need to know the truth — that they’ll fare far better in life by taking responsibility for themselves.”

I don’t know how much I can reiterate that assuming women aren’t trying to take responsibility for themselves is the exact opposite of feminism. Many women take responsibility for themselves and calling a woman “pathetic?” I just cannot. One of the basic principles of feminism is loving and supporting your fellow woman with the hope that we can all rise up and grasp that equality we deserve. But yeah, if you want to beat down other women because things didn’t seem that tough for you, therefore they should just suck it up and dream harder, sure. Go ahead with that. That’s not fucking ridiculous at all.

“Ironically, conservative “feminists” like us are accused of being the ones trying to set women back. But we know any government (or man) powerful enough to give us something is powerful enough to take it away.”

Jesus Christ in a Cracker Jack box, I wonder how on earth someone came up with that theory? Maybe it was other vapid, vitriolic women like you who think the answer lies solely in women changing. I agree that women should be internally strong, but that only goes so far when our government waivers and shies away from breaking down the remaining barriers to gender equality. You can dress up like a chicken and start clucking, but unless the biology changes, you’re not going to start laying eggs. That’s just not how things work. Speaking of work….

“Now if someone would please pass us our stilettos. We’ve got to get back to work.”

That’s pretty cool that you have a job. There are a lot of women who wish they could have a job. I guess they just didn’t try hard enough, right? They just didn’t want to be independent.

 

I’m going to need some sort of verification that these women are actual people because I’m convinced that Rick Perry and Richard Mourdock are currently trolling the fuck out of us.

Now I’ll leave you with a brilliant response from my dear friend Jenny who also considers herself to be a feminist.

“You know what real feminists don’t do? Generalize a large group of women with varied opinions and causes as ‘pathetic harpies’”

A Letter From Governor Rick Perry

Esteemed Governor Rick Perry

Esteemed Governor Rick Perry

I wrote a letter to Texas Governor Rick Perry asking him, simply, what made him feel like he (and the rest of his party) had jurisdiction over the female body. I was genuinely interested in hearing his response. Thankfully, he replied back almost immediately.

Here’s my response from Governor Rick Perry.

 

deer jena,

hai. I m guverner ricj perry n i want 2 thx u 4 writting 2 me about my resent legestlatrion about abroshion. 1st of all i m relly RELLY happy 2 see that u can writ. i think its grate that affermative axion has given u girls the “rite” 2 an educashun. its neat. it really is. in case u did not writ this, tell ur husband i apploud his pashience with u. it takes a strong americun man 2 allow his wif 2 adress anothr man, n u r AWSOM! 

jena, (jena’s husbend) u asked me y i felt lik i had “jurisdiction” (awfulley big word 4 u!) over ur body, and heres the thing. i dont know. i jest vagely remember someone at church tellin me that ur my property n that i kno what is best 4 u. 

being a women must be hard. i seen how hard my wif works to keep the house cleen and make sure we have food ready wen im done doin my man things. i kno she loves it but i still werry that it mite be all 2 much so i thout to myself, rack, wat can i do 2 make thins easer? thats wen I decisioned 2 make decisions 4 her. now she dosnt have 2 worry about thinkin 4 herself n stuff. i hope u enjoy this gift ive given u. 

anyway, if u culd just male me 1 of ur filopian tubes id be happy 2 look aftr it until ur husbend says its okay 2 use. 

ur loveing gorevnor, 

rock perri

 

Well, there you have it. Thanks for your time, Gov. Perry!

There’s More Than Scorn In Indiana

Gov. Claw

Gov. Claw

If you’re a longtime reader of my blog, you’ll have probably picked up that I live in the good ol’ state of Indiana. We’re in the heart of the Midwest, a veritable hotbed of inactivity, unless you stumble into our capital, Indianapolis, which is a thriving and constantly evolving community.

I’ve lived in Indianapolis for about 23 years. A transplant from Atlanta, I quickly learned that my southern accent was not welcome, so I attempted to adopt the flat, unaffected tone of a “Hoosier.” I still, to this day, have no fucking idea what a Hoosier is. There’s a decided opinion that if you have to ask, you’re not one.

Do I like it here? I do now. Indy has seen a renaissance in recent years, inspired no doubt by the Super Bowl. Thankfully for all of us, the rebirth didn’t peter out after the drunken revelers trekked back home. Something new is created here each day, and I find that exciting.

Stumble outside of the city, however, and you’re confronted with mostly small towns. Farming communities abound. There’s a reason why people think Indiana is all cornfields, and that’s because it mostly is. We have soybeans too. I’ve heard rumors of livestock, but I rarely venture outside of the city without the aid of an airplane, so I can neither confirm nor deny.

Politically, Indiana as a whole tends to lean to the right. Obama won the electoral vote in 2008, but the state changed its mind in 2012 and voted in favor of our old buddies, the Republicans. We’re on the ass end of the bible belt, but I’d consider us more moderate with GOP tendencies.

As for me, if you held a gun to my head and made me pick a party, I guess I’d say I’m a Democrat, although, truth be told, I’m completely disenchanted with both parties at this point. I’m socially liberal and always will be, but when it comes to fiscal matters, I can understand the conservative argument.

I’m a firm supporter of gay marriage. Homosexuality has never been “wrong” to me, so never once had I entertained the idea that two bros shouldn’t enter into a state of legal matrimony. In a country that is oftentimes confused by the concept of love, I see no harm in two people (humans, before any of you accuse me of supporting goat on lady marriage) expressing their commitment to each other the same way that I can. Trite though it may sound, love is love, and I’d love to see more overt examples of it in the world I live in.

That being said…I will always respect that people are entitled to their beliefs. There are many people who are disgusted by homosexuality. It baffles me and irritates me, but in order for anyone to respect my beliefs, I must first respect theirs. To be clear: I do not agree with them. I’d happily engage in an educated discussion with someone who held that belief, but I’m not going to show up on the doorstep of a recognized bigot and challenge their belief system. Most of my philosophy comes from the understanding that change can only happen when you’re ready to accept change. Quitting smoking is a good example. Nobody successfully quits smoking because someone told them to. They eventually go back to it or sneak around to do it. When that person decides  “enough is enough. I no longer want to be a smoker,” that’s when they can quit. Until someone shows me that they want to understand why love is universal and not just between a man and a woman, I know I can’t help them understand. Instead I wait until an invitation has been handed to me. TL;DR: I don’t waste my time with close-minded people.

That brings me to the real point of this particular post. In the last election, my state picked Mike Pence as our new Governor. I didn’t vote for him, but wasn’t too terribly disappointed when he was elected. Our last Governor (Mitch Daniels) was also a Republican, and I’m a big fan of his. Many of the good things happening in my fair state can be attributed to him. I’m sure some people disagree with me, but I really don’t give a fuck.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down by the US Supreme Court yesterday. If you didn’t know this, please e-mail me and explain how you’ve managed to get internet in your cave. I’ve considered moving to a cave for a number of years, but the lack of internet connection has always been a concern of mine.

Mike Pence issued a statement that started off as follows:

“I believe marriage is the union between a man and a woman and is a unique institution worth defending in our state and nation. For thousands of years, marriage has served as the glue that holds families and societies together and so it should ever be.


“While I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act, I am grateful that today’s decisions respect the sovereignty of states on this important issue. These decisions preserve the duty and obligation of the states to define and administer marriage as they see fit. 
“Now that the Supreme Court has had its say on the federal government’s role in defining marriage, the people of Indiana should have their say about how marriage is understood and defined in our state.”

TL;DR: I don’t believe homosexuals should get married. Now is Indiana’s opportunity to define marriage. (For those of you not from the US, marriage laws are decided per state.)

I don’t agree with Mike Pence that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, but I choose to respect his beliefs and opinions, just as I would hope any other person would do for me. As I read his statement, a tiny ball of hope was born inside me. It’s up to us to decide how we want marriage defined in our state. He was recognizing it, encouraging it. That hope was misplaced. I learned this as I read the remainder of the statement.

“Given that opportunity, I am confident that Hoosiers will reaffirm our commitment to traditional marriage and will consider this important question with civility and respect for the values and dignity of all of the people of our state. “

          What. 

Gov. Pence has extended the invitation for Hoosiers (what the fuck is this even?) to exercise their rights as citizens of this state to define how we want to live as long as it coincides with HIS belief. HIS. Not ours, HIS.

Hey Mike, this isn’t YOUR state, this is OUR state, and if WE decide that we want marriage to be defined as between two people regardless of gender, then you’re going to have to hop onto this crazy train and ride off into the sunset with us.

In fact, we HIRED you to work for US. Your job is to listen to our needs and act accordingly. If this is something that you’re unable or unwilling to do, then perhaps you should find a different mode of employment.

Marriage doesn’t get to be defined by me, and it most assuredly doesn’t get to be defined by you. It gets to be defined by “we the people” of Indiana. For you to use such manipulative language to imply that there would be some disappointment on your end if your people don’t share the same beliefs as you is both egregious and unhealthy for the position you currently hold.

Express your personal beliefs without question, but when it comes to a matter such as this, take a step back and look at what WE want. This isn’t about religion. This is about what’s fair and just. Religion has no place in politics. Your beliefs are best nurtured in your church, not your office.

It could very well be that Indiana decides against gay marriage, in which case you can sit in your office, rub your hands together, and cackle like some political interpretation of Dr. Claw. However, if the people speak and say “this is what we want,” you need to support that decision.

You will be disappointed in Indiana as a whole if we choose to recognize all forms of marriage, but I can tell you right now, emphatically, I am disappointed in you for attempting to sway people to your beliefs instead of allowing them the opportunity to choose what’s right for them.

Shame on you, Gov. Claw. Shame on you.

 

P.S. If you don’t know who Dr. Claw is, may God have mercy on your soul. Inspector Gadget was the best cartoon of all time. ALL TIME.

Updates and A Response To A Comment

It’s been a while. I’m sorry about that. Sort of.

I’ve just been really busy which I’m sure many of you understand. I didn’t forget about you or this blog though, rest assured.

And honestly, I haven’t really had anything to write about. I know some people think that if you have a blog you should constantly update it blah blah etc. etc. I, on the other hand, would much rather post something that is significant or meaningful. Working on a posting schedule puts me at risk for blogging about how I got my leg caught in my trashcan, and that’s it. That’s the story. I don’t want to bore anyone any more than I typically do.

So what’s going on with me? Like I said, I’ve been busy. El Tortuga is wrapping up Kindergarten and has recently started sleeping in a box.

 

Looks really fucking peaceful if you ask me.

Jim hasn’t been wearing his Crocs lately, but I have high hopes for their return what with summer being around the corner.

I’m heading to San Francisco next week for a conference. If you live in the area and want to meet up, reconsider.

You may have noticed that the blog looks different. The reason for this is that I was bored. I have a new feature I’m going to start next week. I’ve developed this odd hobby of reading all the comments posted on online news stories. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably noticed an uptick in my posts about them. They are easily the most amusing things in the world. Some of the dumbest, most depraved idiots saddle up to their computer and spew whatever the vitriolic fuckery they can think of in regard to a particular story. I’m going to start sharing them here because they make my day.

Speaking of comments, I never bring up the comments that people leave on my blog. Many personal blogs disable the comment feature for whatever reason, but I vowed to never do that because I want to hear what you have to say. I’ve gotten loads of shitty comments in the past, and they rarely offend or upset me. The way I see it, I have a right to start a blog and post whatever the hell I want on it. By enabling the comments section, I’m acknowledging that you have a right to form an opinion about what I’ve said AND I’m encouraging you to share said opinion. My stance on this is unwavering, HOWEVER, I was caught off guard by a comment posted last month on my infamous McDonald’s post. It read:

Sparky2000: 

I WHOLEHEARTEDLY AGREE WITH forthelulz. YOU ARE HORRIBLE; MORE HORRIBLE THAN YOU CLAIM MCDONALD’S IS. IF YOU HAD A BACKBONE, YOU WOULD TELL YOUR CHILD WHO’S BOSS AND FEED HIM/HER BETTER. MCDONALD IS A TREAT, NOT A REQUIREMENT!!!

P.S. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE YOU, MCDONALD’S!!!”

What in the great glittery fuck are you going on about? I am fascinated by you and would love to have a discussion with you. My first question is this: are you pro or anti McDonald’s. I mean, I saw the “love you” part, but the earlier message seemed to indicate that you were gearing up for a “McDonald’s is a biohazard” rant. Next question: did you actually read the fucking post?

First off, my son is not a hermaphrodite and I think I made it pretty fucking lucid that he is a boy. Son. Male. Not a female. There is no question about his gender. It has been confirmed. Dude’s a boy.

Secondly, I have a backbone. I probably have too much of a backbone. It’s absolutely fucking mysterious how I haven’t been arrested given the excessive amount of times I’ve unnecessarily started an argument with someone in public. My son asks me for shit all day every day. You know what I say 90% of the time? No. Part of that is because the things he wants to do are both time consuming and illegal. Regardless of my motivations, rest assured that I am in complete control of my household, but I appreciate the advice.

Last question: WHY ARE YOU YELLING? WHY ARE YOU SO UPSET THAT I DON’T LIKE MCDONALD’S? DO YOU WORK FOR MCDONALD’S? CAN I GET SOME COUPONS FOR HAPPY MEALS?

Anyway, Sparky2000, my e-mail is up yonder in the contact section. I’m completely serious: you fascinate me. I’d like to hear more about you. I’m not even mad at you, I just want to hear how you came to all these mind boggling conclusions.

Onward!

My friend Amanda sent me a picture from a website called Extreme Advertising. I nearly pissed my pants. Here are a few posts from said site. If you choose to visit, please be aware that they use strong language, although you’re probably okay with that if you’re on my fucking website. Enjoy and have a whatever weekend.

 

 

Jenna’s State of the Union

I will wear this with a mixture of pride and apprehension.

My fellow Americans: We are fucked.

It doesn’t matter who wins the election today, solely because the change we want to see in our country will never actualize. We elect these people (mostly men, but I’ll save that for another day) to sit in a room together and make decisions on our behalf. It reminds me of my experience at fast food restaurants, because one of two things always seem to happen:

We order something and it’s never given to us, or

We get our order, take it home, open it up and realize, “This isn’t what I ordered AT ALL.”

Here’s the thing – I don’t have the solution. In fact, I don’t think anyone does, to be honest. But we all seem to agree that this situation is fucked, and we need to stop merely acknowledging it and find a solution FAST.

Americans are filled with a sense of entitlement. Every. Last. One of us. This isn’t me trying to disparage my fellow citizens – this is a wakeup call. A call for us to take a step back, look in the mirror, and really get honest with ourselves. We have to change our attitude. You know that trite little quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world?” There’s a reason it sticks around.

It’s true.

If there is anyone reading this right now thinking, “I think our government works. I think things are fine,” then you live in a blissfully ignorant state of mind, and this doesn’t apply to you.

However, if you’re reading this and nodding your head, then stand up with me and let’s find a solution. I’m tired of merely acknowledging a problem. I want to fix this problem, and you should want that too.

Tonight we’ll all huddle around our televisions and either watch the past four years repeat themselves or watch someone reverse all the changes that have been made in those past four years.

Make a promise to yourself today that this will change. It starts with you. It doesn’t start with Obama or Mitt Romney or whoever the fuck bothered to run for the Libertarian party (Gary Busey?)

I’ll put it as eloquently as I can manage: Let’s fix this shit.

Starting RIGHT NOW.

The Scary Side of the Internet

Scary things happen in there.

I know it’s been a while, and I usually keep it light here, but I thought it was time to share my story of cyber-bullying in an attempt to bring light to a serious problem that I refuse to tolerate. I’ve always witnessed it from the sidelines and found it disgusting, but it didn’t affect me much – I mean, nobody was calling me names, so why get emotionally invested?

Things changed in August of this year. I met and subsequently started dating a wonderful guy who happens to be an actor with quite a bit of recognition in his country. He warned me from the get-go that many of his fans are female and could get aggressive. I laughed it off, but mentally prepared myself for the possibility that I’d gain some enemies simply for existing. I can’t say it hasn’t happened before.

What I was unprepared for, however, was how sneaky and cunning people can be. I befriended a woman who I mistakenly assumed to be a friend of my boyfriend’s. She seemed very nice, kind even. I really enjoyed talking to her, but then I got it – you know, the funny feeling in your stomach that things aren’t adding up. That’s when I started asking questions.

My first question was directed at my boyfriend, something to the effect of “how well do you actually know your friend?” Come to find out, that “friend” was a bit of a stretch. He thought she was a nice enough girl, but felt that, if anything, their relationship was of a professional nature as she just so happened to run fan accounts on Tumblr and Twitter that focused on his work. He had never met her and his only interactions with her had been on Twitter in the form of a few tweets here and there.

Around this time, the woman started dropping hints. They were very subtle at first…suggestions that perhaps she had romantic inclinations toward him…suggestions that maybe he felt the same way about her…but she felt like it hadn’t really taken off because he’s a shy, private person. He was afraid to give her his number because of this shyness and a fear that the number would somehow be hacked or leaked.

None of this matched up with the energetic, outgoing man I knew who had made a really bold move in order to gain my attention. I maintained a friendship with the woman regardless, because I didn’t think it was fair to completely cut off someone because you had a funny feeling about them.

I felt like I was fairly upfront about my relationship with my boyfriend. She asked a lot of questions about our status. I told her the truth. We liked each other very much, but we live in separate countries. She took this honesty as an opportunity to then ask my advice on how to get his attention. At first, I assumed she wanted a friendship with him. Surely you don’t ask a girl who is dating a guy who has also admitted to you that he’s interested in the girl in question advice on how to form a romantic relationship, right?

Wrong.

I’ve spent a lot of time going through those conversations in my mind. Had I not been clear? Beside that, it seems pretty shitty to me to talk to someone who had admitted to having a relationship with someone and then you yourself continually press on about how deep your feelings are about said man. I didn’t steal him from anyone. I didn’t even get to know the girl until AFTER he had started talking to me. I spent weeks and weeks in a state of confusion. Was this girl my friend? When I said that we were together, had I typoed and maybe said we were NOT together? Had my iPhone autocorrected “Yes, we’re in a relationship,” to “I was thinking he’s better off with you. Can I be a flower girl?”

Things really took a nosedive when one night I tweeted to a friend that I’d be going to London to see my boyfriend. Then the onslaught of texts. She seemed very confused. “Is he your boyfriend?” she asked accusingly. Yes, he was. I hadn’t hidden that from her, nor had he hidden his feelings about me from her. It was all so bizarre, like talking to someone with amnesia. That feeling in the pit of my stomach that things were not well at all. I was absolutely baffled and this woman was making me out like I had done something wrong. And then, just like that, she was back to her normal self. She was happy for us, all that fun stuff. It was then that I realized that there had only been one reason that she’d talked to me, and it was to get closer to him. I could see her struggle…she was trying to decide if it was better to hate me or better to keep in my confidence. It was a struggle that would continue until she finally exploded.

She built up to her explosion, quietly, methodically. It started by her making a fake account to tweet me about my boyfriend.

you are (name redacted)’s new gf? he’ll cheat on u just like he did with your look a like (ex-girlfriend’s name redacted) <link to ex-girlfriend’s website> …and others.

the press will be reporting about it all and you very soon. good luck. ta.

Those were some of the messages I woke up to one morning. They startled  me. They didn’t hurt my feelings or offend me, they just shocked me and, to be honest, scared me a bit. Why did anyone care that much? WHO would care that much?

I immediately texted a screen cap to my boyfriend who left rehearsal to call and check on me. Was I okay? Yeah, I suppose. He had warned me that this might happen. He was very apologetic, which was unnecessary. Thankfully he calmed me down and that gave me the opportunity to think. There was something extra odd about the tweets. Seriously, who cares that much to harass me?

And the thing about the press…what was that all about? I stewed on it for an hour or so, and then these red flags popped up. I had told very few people about my relationship, mostly just close friends. And her. The “friend.” I told her about my relationship, and I had also told her something I had only also admitted to my best friend.

I was absolutely terrified about my personal information or my son’s personal information getting into the press. It was way too invasive, and despite my persona on Twitter, I’m a pretty private person. I understood that there was a possibility that would happen some day, but I wasn’t prepared for it at that moment. The relationship was young. I just wanted to enjoy it.

On a hunch, I texted the screencap to her and said, “Do you know anything about this?” What I meant by the question was that she had been following my boyfriend for years. Had she heard about it happening to other girlfriends? What was her take on it?

Instead of replying with, “I’ve never heard about that happening,” or, “That’s horrible!” she responded as though I’d accused her of 9/11. Her behavior was really suspicious. She was very cagey. I decided once and for all I was going to figure out what was going on. I messaged two friends who are very good at tracking internet related things, and they both came back with information that pointed very heavily in her direction. Throughout the day she continued to ask me if I had gotten the information back from my friends, as I’d told her I was going to find out who it was. These weren’t casual inquiries. They seemed frenzied.  Slightly manic. Finally she flipped and went off on me about how she felt that I was accusing her of being this person and she had never been anything but nice to me. It depends on what your definition of friend is. She had never actually admitted to me that she ran fan accounts for my boyfriend. She had always maintained that they had some form of relationship, one which, confused, my boyfriend had denied.

She eventually apologized to me after I told her I wasn’t accusing her of anything. I never told her what the results were. She dropped the subject and wound up sending a number of manic direct messages to my boyfriend. Uncomfortable with her emotional badgering, he unfollowed her, effectively cutting off her ability to privately talk to him. She’d text me in a panic. Had he mistakenly unfollowed her? What was going on? Could I ask him? I avoided the topic, hoping it’d die off. It eventually did, but not for weeks. There was a period of quiet.

And then I went to London.

It took me a few days to realize what she was doing. She and I followed each other on Twitter, so I could see her tweets, but frankly I was just happy to be in London, so I didn’t pay much attention. Then one night, as we were on our way to his play, I took a moment to scan my feed, and there it was. A tweet that, after a moment, I realized was directed toward me. And there were others. So many more. Here’s a sampling:

“Watching someone live my dream they stole makes me want to vomit. Such bullshit. I can’t wait for the crash and burn.”

“Ladies, some advice, never tell another female about a guy you like. Unless you’ve got good health insurance for back and heart stab wounds.”

“Just because you constantly share and brag about your wonderful life and experiences doesn’t mean you still aren’t a huge cunt.”

And my personal favorite…

“Being a shitty person and a shitty parent go hand in hand. In your case you’re also an opportunist whore. Congrats on the accomplishment.”

I would like to remind you that this woman never met my boyfriend. She only knows him as a character on television. To say that I stole anything is a bit of a reach.

Regardless, baffled as to what to do, we chose to ignore it. It continued relentlessly with it eventually tapering off when I left London.

The weekend after I got back, on my dad’s 71st birthday, I got a series of tweets about how I should “go kill myself,” and about how I was “such a huge slut.” I can’t confirm that these were from her as the account was deleted before I could even access the tweets, but it seemed to match up.

A while back, when things had started getting hairy, she had created a fake account to tweet my boyfriend. It was very innocent stuff, but she was trying to get him to talk about her, and he and I decided to ignore it. Still though, I knew it something was up and had it traced. Sure enough, it was coming from the same place as the ones directed to me about the press had been. As it was all fairly silly, we forgot about it.

Flash forward to last Thursday. One of my friends had been passively monitoring the situation for me, and he messaged me to alert me to the fact that an account had tweeted to both my boyfriend and a charity he’s heavily involved with that “your gf is vile. terrible taste. She makes fun of mental illness & disabilities classy. & you’re an ambassador for (charity name redacted.)

Let me just step in here and make something very clear. I have never, nor would I ever make fun of someone with a mental illness or a disability. When I was 16 I was a lifeguard at a cub scout camp where I also taught swim lessons. As I guarded the smallest pool, very often my students would have disabilities. Down’s Syndrome, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, you name it. Those kids were the most amazing, loving, brilliant children I’ve ever had the honor to meet. As for mental illness, I’ve suffered from depression on multiple occasions throughout my life. I use humor to get through those times. I would never make fun of or mock someone who feels alone, dark, miserable. I’ve been there. Nobody deserves that.

This was the final straw, to be cliché. There were more subtweets from her. A local reporter posted a video of me doing an interview about my mother who I walked a charity runway for in her memory. She clearly watched it and vehemently declared that I’m both a “shitty person” and “sound like a bimbo.” Shortly after posting about going to a concert to raise awareness for cancer she made a cryptic comment that “Fingers crossed your misfortune is genetic and passed on to the next generation. I’m starting a prayer group.”

Out of context, it makes no sense, but let me interpret this for you. What she’s saying is that she hopes my misfortune (my mother dying of cancer) is passed on to the next generation. That’ll be me. That’ll also be my son. She wants us all to die of cancer.

You know what else is like cancer? Hate. Hate is a powerful feeling, and it’ll eat away at you. I’ve hated people before. It didn’t make me any happier. In fact, I think it made me worse. I don’t feel as though I hate people anymore. I woke up one day and decided I didn’t like the negativity of it. I dislike people, absolutely, but hate is something I can’t subscribe to. I can’t even hate this woman who has lied to me, harassed me, maligned me, and gone out of her way to make me miserable.

This post isn’t going to stop people from attacking other people online. This post doesn’t change the fact that a tiny part of me wonders if she’s ever going to act out on her blatant hatred of me. Am I scared? Yes, quite frankly I am. She lives just a couple hours from me. There’s a high likelihood that she knows where I live. Do I actually think she’s going to show up at my door step and do something to me? Not really. But there will always be that fear in the back of my mind, and I’ve lost sleep over it.

What this post does, I hope, is shed some light on the scary side of the internet. I hope this says to anyone who’s been attacked or bullied online that you’re not alone. Don’t back down! Protect yourself as best as you can. Follow your instinct. And know that while the words can hurt, while the fear can keep you up at night, the person or people attacking you are not a representation of the world we live in.

Nobody deserves to be treated this way, yet they are every day. It probably won’t end, but we’re under no obligation to tolerate it.

When you feel like you can’t take it anymore, the harassment, the vitriol, take a good look around you. I’d be willing to bet there’s something or someone amazing in your life that reminds you that there is still some humanity lingering.

And if you need a friend, I’ll be your friend. As long as you don’t lie to me. Or make a fake account to harass me. Or publicly mention how you hope I die.

Just don’t do those things and we’ll get along just fine.

Learning From Your Mistakes

Stick a knife in the blender? Brilliant.

If there’s one thing I love about my life’s experiences, it’s that there’s always a lesson to be learned. Simple things like, “If you have sex, it will make a baby,” and “If you stick a knife in a running blender, you will spend the rest of the evening crying and thanking God that you still have your eyes,” are not lost on me.

Even growing up I was never the child who could simply be told a universal fact which I would immediately accept. I was much more of a “find out for myself,” kind of beast. My mother would recount with disgust the time she first told me not to touch the iron because it was hot. I locked eyes with her and slowly reached out to touch the iron. Touche, Mom. The iron really was hot.

El Tortuga, on the other hand, has failed to recognize the common indecency in man that inspires lying. He’s not gullible, but he’s not going to argue with you. Tell him the sky is green, and he’ll nod passively. “Sure,” he’ll murmur. “Sure it is.” He’ll usually do some quiet research, make his own determination. I don’t know how or why he’s my child, but I’ve stopped questioning it.

I learned early on to pay attention to my experiences and gain knowledge from them, but that swiftly became both physically and emotionally painful, so I moved on to observing other people. This is so much safer. And, God, it’s so much more relaxing. Don’t stick my arm in a moving fan? Got it. I see what you did there. I shan’t be trying it.

Now, I’m not saying I’m a prodigy here. I’m sure a lot of people have adopted this method of education, but I am saying that far more people fail to absorb the free lessons they’re handed every day, and this has become highly amusing to me.

The inspiration for this story comes from a really unfortunate situation where a woman took a picture of another woman, made a negative comment on the woman’s attire, and then posted it to Twitter for everyone to see. Seems pretty commonplace, right? Well, this person runs in the same social circles that the “fashion offender” runs in, which, luckily for me, bleeds into my social circle. I watched all this shit go down yesterday, and since I’m far enough removed from it, I was able to laugh and learn.

My initial thought was, “isn’t this an urban legend already?” Girl talks shit about girl. Other girl finds out. Shit storm commences. We’ve all seen this before, right? So where was the disconnect? Where was the thought, “hey that could be me some day?” Did that never occur?

Obviously the first lesson here is, “don’t live in a city the size of Indianapolis and post pictures of people, because everybody knows each other here.” That’s not to say you aren’t entitled to your opinion, but don’t assume people actually want to hear it. There’s something exotic about keeping things to yourself. Far too often we fall into the curse of narcissism where we think everybody wants to know our feelings or our opinions. Guess what? Not a whole lot of people give a shit. Your mom probably doesn’t even care. Actually, she flat out does not. I’m a mom – I know these things.

Even better, the bigger lesson to be learned here is that women are bitches. We all are. We need to get the fuck over ourselves and calm the fuck down at some point. There’s only so much menstrual rage we can inflict on one another before the men rise up and kill us all, or worse, they build half-assed fallout shelters lined with maxi pads and reinforced with Tampax Pearl applicators.

We have got to give each other a break at some point. I feel like each and every one of us with a vagina regard the other vagina-prone creatures with either immense joy or immediate hostility. Have you ever noticed that? Women either love each other or they hate each other. There’s no middle ground. There’s no acknowledgement of existence yet lack of feeling.

I’m sure this is nothing new or common. Often times when someone identifies a societal problem, they’re quick to assume that this is new. It’s this generation’s fault! It’s not. In this case, it’s probably biology and the pill. Regardless, as grudgingly as I admit that this will probably never ever change, I have to at least try.

Can we pick one day where we all quit being such atrocious shrews and we just get the fuck along? Hell, we don’t even have to get along – let’s just not fight. Let’s not pick on each other outwardly. Criticize my hair all you want in your mind, but put a goddamn smile on your face and say something polite instead.

Is this too much to ask? Probably. It’s worth suggesting, though. Pick a date – I’ll be there. I hope we’re all there some day.

Except for you, BETH. You can kick rocks for all I care.

When The Noises Won’t Stop

Laugh now, you pompous son of a bitch.

Guys…I’m tired.

El Tortuga has been fighting some wicked illness that causes him to wake up screaming in pain. We suspect it’s an ear infection, but who the hell knows at this point? He probably has a tumor, but I’m too tired to investigate further.

It’s been nearly a week since this started. He woke up last Friday with a raging fever and the simple declaration that, “Things are not well within my body, mother.” I called us in sick, and we spent the morning in bed watching shitty cartoons.

When El Tortuga is sick, he wants to be with his mommy. I get that. He wants to snuggle, he wants to be held, he wants me to whisper reassurance in his little ear that things will one day get better. When he was younger and growing out of his baby stage and into his autonomous, get the hell away from me, mom, stage, I used to regard his sickness with a mixture of sadness and maternal glee. It was the only time he’d let me hold him. The only time he’d let on that maybe I was still necessary and relevant.

This neediness when ill hasn’t stopped. Unfortunately, instead of holding a smallish two year old, I’ve got a feverish, 45 lb four year old draped across me. Holding him when he has a high fever feels like being wrapped in an electric blanket and shoved into a sauna. I usually wait for him to go to sleep and then I gently roll him off of me, but this usually wakes him up and he stares at me all confused and hurt like I’ve set fire to all his toys and doused the flames with my own urine.

Anyway, we’ve been dealing with this for about a week now. Luckily it’s just the ear infection now. Earlier it was the ear infection and random vomiting. My favorite was when I got to hold him in the planking position while he vomited into the badass sink Sookie insisted I get. It has 90 degree corners which are hard to clean. He’d just finished an Oreo McFlurry (yes, MCFLURRY, fuck you again McDonald’s.) I’ll leave you with that image.

Flash forward to last night. Wednesday evening. It’s the one night during the week that El Tortuga stays with his dad, and for the first time I was REALLY excited. It’s not that I didn’t miss him, but my God, I needed sleep. I spent the evening out with friends and came home to relax, do a little work, and then turn in.

And then I heard it.

At first I thought I was hallucinating. Surely that did not just happen. But there it was again – the distinct hooting of an owl. And he was fucking loud.

I thought I could ignore it, but the stupid thing was so inconsistent. Perhaps if he’d had a rhythm, I could have pretended he was part of one of those nature sounds tracks. Of course not, though. He was sporadic and unpredictable. He also appeared to be hooting from different locations in my back yard which leads me to believe he was searching for the most acoustic tree from which to torment me.

I understand it’s a bit theatrical to suggest that a woodland creature is so preoccupied with me that he would plot the most effective way to drive me fucking nuts, but keep in mind I haven’t slept for a while.

Jim has this theory that there are two owls and they’re talking to each other. Cool fucking story, Jim, but how does that get me any sleep? It doesn’t. Quit flapping your face, grab your bow and arrow, and go all Katniss Everdeen on this thing before I lose my damn mind.

El Tortuga is back tonight, so I can only imagine how enchanting my evening will be with screeching owl and a child whose deafening snores are interrupted only by the occasional cry of pain.

With that being said, I’d like to formally declare my intention to sleep in my fucking car tonight.

 

Edited to add this hilarious picture my friend sent me.

Dear Hardee’s

Dear Hardee’s,

I visited one of your establishments this afternoon, and there are some things I’d like to say. First, sit back. Let me explain a little something to you.

People who drink diet Coke typically do so religiously. It’s something we learn to rely on – through thick and thin, diet Coke is there for us. We never just “want” a diet Coke, we ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO HAVE one. That is why when a diet Coke fan anxiously fumbles to insert her straw and then ravenously sucks on said straw only to find her mouth filled with FUCKING COKE, you have just delivered the second most painful disappointment to her other than, say, if she was eagerly awaiting the birth of a bouncing baby boy only to discover that she’d actually been carrying a ferret the whole time.

This incident was the first sign of disappointments to come.

After I was done heaving, I peered into my bag. Everything seemed normal. Fries. Box with my burger in it….with a sticker that said “melt?”

I didn’t order a fucking melt.

But a melt was what I got. It was a slab of meat nestled between two slices of grease soaked bread. Underneath the meat (WHY?) was a semen-esque substance that smelled faintly of pepper jack cheese but lacked the resemblance, and half a dozen slices of jalapeno.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a fairly angry person, and angry people tend to get ulcers. Had I tried to eat your fire melt, it most certainly would have done things to my stomach that should be reserved for medieval torture chambers.

Was the melt your backup plan, Hardee’s? If the Coke didn’t kill me, were you hoping I’d eat the burger and promptly peace the fuck out? You have a dedication unparalleled by any of my enemies, and trust me – there are legions of them.

So I drive myself back to the store…restaurant?…place of business, I guess. I walk in with my crumpled bag, Coke in hand, my face impassive. I was willing to let you right an egregious wrong. You declined.

“YEAH?” growled your lovely employee as I stood there waiting for attention. This woman was heinous. I doubt she could have accepted a marriage proposal without a deep scowl.

“My order is wro—“

“I know. I gave you the wrong order. You wanted a plain cheeseburger.”

“No, I ordered a cheeseburger with mustard, onions, & lettuce.”

“That’s what I said. A plain cheeseburger.”

This, Hardee’s, is where things begin to decline.

“Do you understand the words coming out of my mouth? I said mustard, onions & lettuce.”

This is the part where she rolled her eyes at me and put her hand on her hip.

“THAT’S WHAT I SAID. PLAIN.”

At this point, I’m questioning everything – what I actually said, what language I speak, the existence of a higher being. T minus two seconds before I exploded, a manager who had been watching our exchange intervened.

“You want a cheeseburger with mustard, onions, and lettuce plain.”

“Yes, I – what?”

“That’s just what we say around here. We call it plain.”

The fuck, Hardee’s? The fuck.

I throw my hands up, grab my new cup, and stumble off in a rage to at least gain some comfort from Diet Coke.

Ten minutes later (yes, ten,) my order was ready.  The manager was kind enough to apologize to me, but that little troll you have working for you glared at me from behind a stack of buns.

I understand that assholes need jobs too, but maybe don’t put them in a position where they might have to interact with other humans. She would be well suited for organizing your frozen meat patties in the walk-in freezer, or, better yet, being in charge of guarding the castle where Princess Toadstool is being held captive.

Simply put, the bitch was cray. She made me look like a ray of sunshine.

I drove back to my office seething at how rude she had been and how someone can’t get an order right ever. And then it began. That cold feeling in the pit of my stomach. At first I thought it was the ounce or so of Coke that I had swallowed, but this was too emotional. There was a feeling attached to this.

Fear. Self-doubt. A sense that not all was well.

I sat down at my desk and opened the cheeseburger box slowly, like an animal might burst forth. Everything looked normal. I could see the onions and the lettuce. That’s a start right? Now to just lift the bun and…

Ah, there’s the mustard. Right next to the fucking ketchup.

Hardee’s, BOO.

I give up.

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