Thursday, June 30, 2016

It's a good thing my liver has been training for this....

I briefly thought I was maybe, possibly, probably, most definitely going to die yesterday.

Twice.

Fine. I'm being a bit dramatic, but am still pretty sure that I shaved two of my nine lives off yesterday anyhow.

The first time was when I went to pick The Oldest up from band practice and asked him if he wanted to drive home. The weirdo laws here state that a learner's permit holder can only drive when there are only adults over the age of 21 in the car, so in a world with four younger siblings, he doesn't have much time without the little people tagging along.

The rest of them were at home, so I figured what the hell.

He has to learn how to do this at some point right?

Motherfucker.

Now, I know that many of you out there reading have been through this whole teaching a teenager to drive thing, and I applaud you. For real.

It was the most stressful 13 minutes of my life, but we didn't die. He didn't hit anything or anyone, didn't damage the car irreversibly in some bizarre way, didn't get a ticket and didn't have an anxiety attack as I would say 
left left left left left left
on repeat with increasing volume and intensity each time to the point where I was willing the car left with my mind powers.

He actually did okay, truth be told.

I didn't freak out at all (on the outside) and didn't yell at him (except inside my head about 73 billion times).

Dear lord.

He will get better at this. So will I.

Frankly, I'm taking a victory lap while high fiving myself because I didn't invent and repeatedly use the imaginary brakes on the passenger side that my parents slammed on damn near constantly while I was learning how to do this.

HIGH FIVE, SELF.

After we got home, I texted my husband and told him the big news. Not that this should be big news as the child got his permit last week and his father and I have spoken at length about how I'm going to have to be the one who teaches him how to drive because he clearly CANNOT. Not even negotiable. Nope. All the nope.

His text back?


Was it scary?

HA.

Everything about having teenagers is scary at least some of the time.

The good news is that I survived. The bad news is that my brushes with death weren't over.

The second time it happened yesterday was entirely my fault. Because I'm a dumbass.

Hi.

My name is Kelly, but you can call me Dumbass.

So my knees have been hurting because I have bad knees and shit and when I have to walk around a lot or chase a toddler or basically do anything they hurt. Like even when I'm laying down in bed at night literally not doing anything to aggravate them. It's super rad, you guys. I'm now more than a decade overdue for surgery, but I don't wanna.

I try really fucking hard not to take pain meds though because I practically lived on prescription naprosyn as a teenager and it tore up the entire lining of my digestive system so badly that I learned where every bathroom in a fifty mile radius was.

TMI?

Too bad. You're the one reading this.

Yeah, so you take a person with raging anxiety and give them a totally FUBAR digestive system, and it's not a pretty picture. I did that for about twenty years if anyone cares to know the details of my life on that level.

I drink kefir now. It helps.

My god, the tangents I can go on.

(you should know this by now, I assume)

Anyway, I took out a few tylenol pills because I was tired of toughing it out and then I couldn't remember if I took them or not. Like I did that thing where you walk three laps around the kitchen because you can't decide if you took them and just don't remember or if you put them on the counter somewhere because you needed to get a glass of water and now you just can't remember where you put them.

What?

Just me?

Pshaw.

Anyway, I quickly convinced myself that I had taken them because I wouldn't be stupid enough to leave anything on the counter.

Then The Oldest, like thirty minutes later, asked if he could take something for his mouth (going into year 3 of braces, he is, and had just been to ortho...we should get frequent flier miles or something for the amount of time and money I give those people). I said yes.

He took them out of the cabinet, put them on the counter, went to get a drink.

I did not connect him asking with the following events. Because I'm a dumbass. (everyone say hi, dumbass)

Daughter grabs them, says hey mom, weren't you looking for your tylenol because you couldn't remember if you took it or not? Hands them to me.

Then I panicked a second because maybe I did leave them on the counter and holy shit I left them on the counter and I just couldn't find them when I was taking all those laps when I wasn't sure if I took them or not and this is terrible and everything is terrible.

So I took them.

About 30 seconds later, The Oldest asks if someone grabbed his tylenol.

HOLYFUCKINGSHIT

Yeah. Yeah, I did. Me, your mother. The Dumbass.

So I immediately start panicking because I know that acetaminophen is actually really fucking toxic, even in smallish amounts. Then I start Googling dosages and start calculating shit in my head about my weight (that's some depressing shit when you're trying to decide if you're going to die based on how fat you are) and how much I took. Figure I should probably try to barf up that last set of pills.

Try.

Fail.

I can throw up like a champion when I'm pregnant or hungover, but the threat of death....NAW WE ARE KEEPING THAT SHIT IN. Go ahead, try and shove your finger all the way down your throat. The best we're doing is dry heaving, sister.

I give up trying to barf, debate telling the husband that I'm going to die. Decide not to because the mere idea of anyone pumping my stomach starts to give me an anxiety attack. Google some more.

And Google tells me the truth.

I was way below the toxic level anyway and all the dramatics were for nothing.

Congratulate myself for the fact that I hadn't told anyone in the house that I was dying, because I didn't die and I wasn't actually going to die at any point I was just being completely ridiculous.

Yay, Dumbass.

Besides, my liver has been training for this my whole life.

Hey, but I'm alive to tell this ridiculous story, so that's a fucking relief.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the what the hell edition

Hi.

Once upon a time, I wrote these posts almost every week.

I don't really have a compelling excuse at the moment, aside from the tiny man currently ruling everything about my life. I don't get much time to even touch a computer, let alone think about writing anything.

I SUPPOSE I could have written more this weekend, but I was super busy with a triathlon.

And by triathlon, I mean that I watched the entire season of Orange Is The New Black (more on that later), I finished two books and pulled two all nighters in a row. Three things.

There. I did it.

Okay, not really a "triathlon", but these accomplishments should at least be worth one of those stickers to put on the back of my car, right???

Let's get to this week's list. I should warn you that this list is in no way all-inclusive. It's just the stuff that happens to come to mind while my fingers are screaming out this rant onto the keyboard.


I Do Not Think That Means What You Think It Means...
A friend of a friend (and I use the term loosely here....) participated in a "Patriot Ride" this past weekend in Florida. Yeah, those air quotes are intentional.

Just because you call something a "Patriot Ride" doesn't magically turn it into one, folks.

Basically, a bunch of people decided that they'd do a drive by of the Islamic Cultural Center in Fort Pierce, in order to "show their pride" and "demonstrate their patriotism"...reasons that fairly quickly revealed themselves to be much closer to "let them know we aren't afraid of them and take back our country".

Wait.

What???

So you think that organizing a huge group of bikers to buzz a place for the Islamic community to peacefully gather is an acceptable way for you to declare your opinions to "them", and that it's not a form of intimidation???

RIGHT.

I know that if I had 50 or 100 bikers show up on my front lawn, revving their engines at me, staring me down, blocking my entrance and exit, showing me who is boss, I totally wouldn't think that was some kind of veiled threat.

Uh huh.

Sure.

You have a right to your opinions right up to the point when they become assault. You start fucking with other people's lives, you start intimidating people, you start using large groups of people to send a message....guess what?

You've just become a terrorist.

Congratulations.

I'm pretty sure there's a hat for that.

p.s. If you participate in or support things like this, you can still redeem yourself as a human. Realize that what you are doing is wrong. Apologize. Educate yourself about the community you're lashing out at. Intervene when other people start bashing them or suggesting these stunts. Be a better human. Be an actual Patriot. You can do it.

Orange Is The New Black
Before I write anything about the season, I want to first say that you can ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you that I have loved this show from the beginning, but pretty much hated Piper from the first moment I saw her. I mean, I GET IT. The book that the show is based on was written by a white woman, rooted in her experiences in prison. I do. As a result, it was from the perspective of a white woman. But mygodshehasalwaysbeenannoying and Piper's privilege of whiteness is in full effect this season.

The show has been a important one from the beginning for the role it has played in the whole enlightening society about what life is really like for inmates thing. Most people who've never been to jail or prison have no idea, don't care and never want to even think about it.

Until you toss in a few psuedo-lesbian porn scenes with some hot white chicks, and suddenly you have a success on your hands. Hard eyeroll.

Anyway, I have loved the show for its realistic portrayal of much of the things that most people don't understand about life for these women.

This season, though. Goddamn.

***spoiler alert.

but more important

*****trigger warnings.

Again, I GET IT. I get what they are trying to do. I do. Honest. I'd get it a whole lot more if there was more diversity on the crew writing the show, though. Any white-inmate perspective should have expired when the pages from the book ran their course.

What is bothering me, really bothering me all the way through to my core, though, is the fact that so many people are totally devastated at the way the season ended...but can't see that not too much about this season was "fictional"...and yeah, I'm using the air quotes on that one. This season borrowed heavily from actual news stories of actual things that have happened, and I just can't rally behind that OMG I CAN'T BELIEVE THE SHOW RUNNERS DID THAT thing when reality says shit like that happens far too often in real life and people contentedly turn a blind eye.

I mean, do we really need to see a character we've come to love for years (especially one who is already a member of the most marginalized segment of society as a LGBTQ person of color) get killed in order to grow a conscience about the way people are treated by the system? Do we?

Clearly I am making the argument that we shouldn't.

It's like the whole "what if was your sister" argument about why people should care about rape. Why the fuck does it matter????

It shouldn't matter.

You should care about rape and you should care about how fucked up the prison/justice system is because people are hurt every day and sometimes they are killed and you need to know the names of the real people, not just the ones on TV.

This isn't about Poussey, because she's a fictional character exploiting all the worst things about recent news stories for ratings.

This sure as hell isn't about the background of the guard who killed her or couldn't deal with her death, because the fact that we're even told that story is drenched with privilege.

This is about Sandra Bland and all the women (and men) you've never even heard of because the media didn't bother to tell you.

This is about where the for-profit prison road travels. Read this if you haven't already.

This is about the deeply rooted institutional racism present in law enforcement, in prosecution, in conviction rates, in length of sentencing, in time spent in solitary confinement.

This is about the effect of a few decades of criminalizing non-violent drug offenders.

So, yeah, watch the show if you want. Just don't think it's truly fictional, because even if you can turn it off and walk away and go back to your normal life, there are plenty of actual people in this society who can't. If you can't or don't need to watch it because you already know people live it, I get that.

Also, go read this. Go. I'll wait.

A quick and dirty list of ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

- Rick Tyler, running for office in Tennessee, put up some billboards advocating for his candidacy with the promise to "MAKE AMERICA WHITE AGAIN". I really wish I was kidding.

- Eric Casebolt, the cop that threw a teenage girl to the ground last summer because she happened to be at a pool party while black (and that upset some old white lady who called the cops), isn't being charged with anything. If only we had video of the incident to remove any debate about what actually happened.....oh wait. We do. 

- There will also be no charges in the death of Kendrick Johnson, a teenage boy found dead rolled up in a wrestling mat in a high school gymnasium because his death was ruled an accident. WHAT. His death was ruled an "accident"??? How exactly do you figure that? He sure as hell didn't roll himself up in that mat. Anyone who rolled him up in it did so intentionally, and even if they might not have intended to kill him, that was the consequence of their actions - so there should AT A MINIMUM be a charge of manslaughter here, and that wouldn't even be good enough.

Guns don't kill people, people kill people....
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I've heard it. I'm tired of it. I'm over people telling anyone who brings up how gun deaths are preventable every time another person dies at the hands of someone with a gun that right now isn't the time, and this is a tragedy and we need to pray for the family.

Over it.

When is the time?

It wasn't after a movie theater became a deathzone.
It wasn't after a classroom's worth of little kids were killed.
It wasn't after a nightclub was attacked.

It won't be after a mother who advocated for her right to protect her family killed her daughters. I'm SO glad she had the right to protect her family from whatever theoretical threat she perceived. Too bad no one protected them from her.

It won't be after the next toddler shoots a sibling or a friend or a parent or themselves because someone left a gun within their reach....because this happens on a fairly regular basis and we haven't done anything after any of these deaths.

Congress won't do anything. Any time someone on a state level attempts to do anything, they're met with immediate lawsuits and recall elections. At least SCOTUS has figured out that the thoughts and prayers for the families of dead people aren't going to magically create time machines and take us back to a place where we can prevent the deaths just by praying. They said this week that states can prevent those convicted of domestic violence from possessing weapons in Voisine v. United States. Misdemeanor assault convictions for domestic violence are sufficient to invoke a federal ban on firearms possession. It's a step.

Clinton can't pick Warren because "no one" will vote for two women
The rumor mills have been circulating for a while now that Hillary Clinton may choose Elizabeth Warren as her running mate. As someone who hoped Warren would be the one running long before now, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about all this. Regardless of how I feel, it's looking more and more likely given the joint appearances the two are making and the more deliberate attacks Warren is making on Trump as of late.

What I'm seeing a whole lot of as a result of these rumors are people saying that there's no way that she'll pick Warren because people won't vote for two women.

It would, apparently, be objectionable to vote for a team composed of two people of the same gender.

Oh you mean like how every pairing of President and Vice President since the inception of this country have been two dudes???

Huh.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

I almost got sucked back there, but I don't have to do this anymore

Last night, I took three of my kids out to dinner.

Two of them are off at camp with their father. Whenever one (or some) of the kids gets to go do something fun and amazing that the rest of them don't get to do, whichever parent is left here with the remaining kids institutes "Super Happy Fun Day".

The ones left here tend to get spoiled.

They get to go do things we don't normally do.

They get to order the fancy bottled root beer.

They get their own pint of Ben and Jerry's.

They get to watch Deadpool.

I'm just going to stop anyone pissed about that last one right. here.

Right. Here.

They're teenagers. They're my kids. I watched it long before I let either one of them see it. They aren't scarred for life. And for fuck's sake, could we all collectively just stop with the sanctimommy bullshit where we judge other moms for what they do with their kids???

Sorrynotsorry.

Also, I know damned well that I can't be the only person in my generation who was raised watching Porky's and Robocop, right??? My childhood was rated R, and I turned out alright. I mean, I swear like a drunken sailor, but that could have happened anyway...

...

I'm snarky. I don't sleep well when my husband is not here because it's the dark ages and clearly I'm a delicate fucking flower who needs her big strong protector in order to sleep soundly.

I also completely hate that about myself, but we're working through it. And by we're I obviously mean me and the voice in my head that I talk to almost constantly.

That was a long diversion. Let's get to the actual story here that I was meaning to tell.

Anyway.

We were sitting at the restaurant last night, me, two teenagers and one inexplicably well behaved ordinarily belligerent toddler.

That part is important about the baby, because I wasn't required to focus every single ounce of my energy on making sure he didn't start screeching like a dying cat, as toddlers are oft to do.

I had this, too. So that helps.


So we are sitting there, throwing the occasional oyster cracker at the baby, when I realized that the woman sitting beside me reminded me of my mother.

A lot.

A ton.

And not in any good ways.

She was probably about the same age. She was demanding to the point of being rude to the servers. When the baby threw the menu and it landed between my feet and hers, I apologized instantly, and she muttered something about taking kids out to restaurants after she half smiled and said it was okay.

While I was bent over picking up the menu, I saw the same shoes my mom used to wear.

She was waiting for someone to join her. Someone who was late, and getting later, and didn't he know that she was sitting there waiting for him. She called him after texting him a few times, wondering where he was.

She ordered another plate of fried calamari and another 7&7, tall. Seriously the drink my mother used to order.

The guy finally arrived, and that's when things started to really get in my head. They weren't related. They weren't married. He was at least twenty years younger than her and the type of guy that just looks like he's always up to no good, eyes darting all over the room, probably high on something. He was there, scheming, trying to convince her that she needed to give him more money for whatever he was doing for her. In hushed whispers, he passed her purse over the table and she gave him a list of things she needed from him and started writing him a check.

She ordered him the most expensive thing on the menu.

He ordered himself a snakebite.

She started complaining about someone in her family, and it was like I was back in deep a few years ago. Watching her tell some practical stranger about how unloved she was, while he said whatever she needed to hear and could you just add another two hundred to the check? Or do you have any cash because it's hard to cash checks sometimes?

They started the loud whispering people do when they are making half-hearted attempts to be secretive about what they are doing but don't actually care at all if people hear.

Something about rent deposits and the packages being delivered.

More about the ingrates she called children.

When our check arrived and the inexplicably well behaved baby was done shoving sweet potato fries and broccoli in his mouth, I took a deep breath and stood up and walked away. Never looked back.

I don't need to.

I lived it.

I walked away breathing a sigh of relief because I don't have to go back there.

I loved my mother, truly I did.

But she was exhausting and damaging and toxic. She was so much like this woman that it's as if she was an actual doppleganger, walking around the same town my mother lived in briefly, hanging out in the same restaurant even. Her look, her mannerisms, the way she could bore holes through someone with a glare, but turn around and smile as sweet as can be as soon as she thought it would get her something. Sometimes I am reminded of just how bad it was, and I almost got sucked back there last night, but I don't have to do this anymore.

And to tell the truth, it's a total fucking relief.


Picture for effect.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

the value of a woman

In our society, it seems like any time there is a high profile sexual assault case the same thing happens. Any time there is a high profile athlete or actor or singer accused of sexual assault, whether the case ever even makes it through the court system, the same thing happens. Any time there is a woman who comes forward with her story, the same thing happens.

It's happening right now, on television channels and social media feeds near you.

The questioning.
The doubting.
The blaming.
The shaming.
The well if she'd have respected herself-ing.
The what was she wearing.
The what was her prior dating history-ing.
The did she lead him on analyzing.
The she wasn't even conscious so how do we know she didn't consent-ing.
The not all men-ing.
The defending.
The justifying.
The concern about whether this is fair to him-ing.
The but he has to live with this for the rest of his life-ing.

I've seen it.
You've seen it.

I'm not about to spend any time here rehashing any of that. If you've thought or typed or dared to utter any of those things out loud in this particular instance, I'm urging you to drop whatever else it is that you're doing immediately. Go. Read the actual details of this assault. Read what his father and his friends said. Read the questions she was asked. Read what the judge said. Read the headlines and appreciate that the pictures attached to them up until yesterday were of a happy smiling man, the ones that omit words like "rapist" and include things like "record setting swimmer".

I'm simply not engaging anyone who hasn't equipped themselves with the facts of this case. Not going to do it.

I'm also not going to write some long drawn out article here about how we need to hyperfocus on the specific details of this one case as if it exists in some kind of vacuum. I'm not lending any credibility to the idea that this one case is especially heinous, but other women out there are to be legitimately doubted.

I'm never using the word legitimate in the same sentence as rape again. 

Most sexual assaults and rapes are never reported.
Most reported sexual assaults and rapes are never prosecuted.

You aren't going to catch me worrying about the very occasional false report as some kind of justification for why every report should be doubted. No.

I'm not going to write some long drawn out post here about the connection between sports and violence against women. I'm not going to present you with the scholarly articles and statistics showing these correlations. I'm not going to discuss whether we elevate boys and men simply because they can do things with a ball or in a pool and are willing to look the other way at the harms they hand down to others, predominately women, simply because of their abilities with that ball or in a pool. Plenty of other people are writing those pieces today. Plenty of other people have written them in the past. Plenty of other people will still keep writing them in frustration as little to nothing about our sports obsessed culture changes.

I'm not going to write about his father's shameful statement, the one that refuses to hold his son personally accountable for anything. I'm not going to talk about how the view of women as objects to be used is one handed down from generation to generation. Plenty of people are writing those pieces too.

I'm not going to write about what people need to teach their sons and daughters about consent. I've written those pieces before, but more importantly I've sat my children down and made it abundantly clear to them that consent isn't a complicated issue. It isn't something up for discussion. It isn't something to be picked apart in the media. It isn't something that can be implied by clothing or behavior or someone's past. It's not complicated.

Instead, today, I'm writing about statements like this one:

"well, what if she was your mother/daughter/sister?"

Each time a case infiltrates our national psyche, statements like these are thrown around almost constantly in an attempt to get people who don't care about sexual assault to care about it adequately. 

Each time rape is a discussion topic on social media, this line pops up in comment sections in response to anyone who doubts the woman's story, who shames her, who claims she asked for it or deserved it or whatever.

Each time rape is talked about, this argument is brought up, usually by well meaning people who are just trying to get someone to understand the horrific nature of rape and sexual assault. 

Here's the problem with this argument:

It dehumanizes women.

Now, before you go grab your pitchforks and yell at me about this statement, hear me out. I know that if you've said these words or typed these words, you were trying. I've said them myself in the past, and I try really fucking hard not to say them anymore. I still find myself saying them sometimes to people determined not to understand the gravity of sexual assault. 

Ask yourself why we're trying to convince other people that sexual assault is awful?

Ask yourself why we need to convince them that rape is bad?

Ask yourself why the only way to try and get through to some people is by making it personal?

A woman's value isn't dictated by her proximity to you.

A woman's body isn't private just because you might know her personally.

A woman's word isn't to be honored just because you're related to her.

This aspect alone tells me that misogyny is real, that rape culture has permeated every aspect of our society. If the only way that we get people to understand the horror of rape is to couch it as a hypothetical attack on their daughter or sister or mother, we've completely failed as a society.

Utterly.

A woman's value is not dictated by her emotional proximity to you.

A woman's value is not dictated by her emotional proximity to you.

A woman's value is not dictated by her emotional proximity to you.


You should care about rape and sexual assault because victims are people.
You should understand that consent can never be implied.
You should believe people when they say they've been hurt.
You shouldn't look past sexual assault because of other abilities.
You shouldn't need a hypothetical personal threat to make it real.

Most assaults are never reported.
Most cases are never prosecuted.

1 in 4 women will be assaulted, and yeah...some of those women are going to be women you know. Care about the rest of them too.

Care about them because they're human and you're human.

Stop needing emotional proximity.

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