Tag Archives: tantrum

Buffalo Tantrum: Imma Let You Finish

Ok, look.

Last week SCOTUS ruled in favor of marriage equality (if you hadn’t heard that yet, spoiler alert: last week SCOTUS ruled in favor of marriage equality. Also, I’m sorry you’ve been entirely cut off from the news recently), and I. Am. Miffed.

Not about the marriage equality itself–I was actually one of the folks who got all sniffly when the news came down, who fought off the urge to send congratulatory messages to everyone I knew whom this would personally impact. I danced around the house. I changed my Facebook profile picture to the one with Moon Man and me grinning like fools with George Takei (yep, the George Takei. There aren’t a lot of people I’ll pay money to meet, but he was/is absolutely one of them, and those were dollars well spent). I had fun conversations with people about Where We Were When History Was Made, and how excited we are that our kids will someday say to us, “Mom? Were you really alive when gay people couldn’t get married?” and we’ll say “Yes, honey, I was, and I was so proud on the day when that changed”. I was elated, because by god, love wins.

And since going to social media about these things is what we do nowadays, I went to social media to celebrate with the rest of the world. People changed their profile pictures to have a rainbow overlaid on ’em. People used hashtags in excited ways. People posted videos and articles and links. People were thrilled, and rightfully so.

But then there were the outliers. Not the ones who were opposed to marriage equality: I actually don’t have a beef with them, because we’re allowed to disagree. I prefer it when the discourse stays civil and respectful, but I get it that some emotions were running high that day and people are allowed to express opinions. This was a ruling that hurt some people’s hearts, and I get that. That’s ok. Play nicely and share the toys, and y’all can disagree all you want.

No, the people on my short list right now–and the reason I’ve finally come back to blogging after just ages and ages–are the ones whose response was various shades of “Wow, marriage equality is a thing! That’s great, but here are all these other problems that still exist. Should we really be celebrating this thing when there are still issues to solve?”

*blink blink*

YOU’RE DARN TOOTIN’ WE SHOULD BE CELEBRATING THIS THING.

Here’s the thing, kids: yes, there are still problems to solve. Racism is still a thing. Gender issues are still a thing. Climate change is still a thing. I live in Brownbackistan; so my life is a more-or-less constant state of mild disgust. There are still kids who don’t know when their next meal will be, models are still getting Photoshopped into physically impossible shapes, the wage gap is real, and people are still eating shark fin soup.

But on this one day, an amazing, historic thing happened. On this one day we declared that love is love regardless of the swimsuit areas of the people involved. On this day we made progress–yes, progress that will still need work so it actually functions, but progress of any sort.

And some of y’all want to ignore that because your pet topic wasn’t the one that got the momentum?

Let me put this differently: all y’all who did the “yay marriage equality but OMG WHAT ABOUT THIS OTHER THING” posts are like that parent whose kid has been flunking all their classes for the last two years, is this close to getting thrown out of school, who got a tutor and worked his tuckus off all semester long and quit hanging out with his friends and gave away his Xbox and finally–finally–got his math grade up to a C and brought home his report card all glowing and happy and you said “well, that’s better, but you’re still only getting a D in chemistry and let’s not even get started on this English grade”.

You’re the kid whose parents scrimped and saved and worked overtime to get you the iPhone for Christmas, and you threw it across the room because it wasn’t the color you wanted.

You’re Kanye interrupting Taylor Swift’s VMA acceptance speech.

Look, I’m not saying that you’re not allowed to have things that you care about. Please do; and in many cases, that’s a big part of why I love you.

But what I am saying is that people stop inviting you to their birthday parties when you’re the guest who comes, looks around, and declares that the party is fine and all, but your own birthday is coming up so maybe people should be starting to shop for your present instead of spending quite so much time on today’s birthday girl.

Why can’t we just have today, is what I’m getting at. Why can’t we celebrate a big, joyous, important moment? These other issues will still be there tomorrow. And no, I’m not trying to say your Issues Of Choice should be swept under the rug; I’m saying that the new baby doesn’t mean we love you any less. I’m saying you’re allowed to be happy when something good happens, full stop, and that you can go back to your righteous indignation tomorrow.

I’m saying that a lot of folks had waited a very long time for their relationships to become legally recognized, and some of y’all came to the party and Kanye-d all over their wedding toasts.

So if you’re one of those folks, I reckon this would be a good time to go sit in a chair someplace and think about your life choices. It’s Monday now and the marriage equality news is no longer quite so immediate, so by all means, go back to Fighting the Good Fight for whatever you’re fighting for, and I’ll go back to supporting you in your endeavors…but first, maybe you’ve got an apology or two to offer, for spitting in the rainbow punch because somebody else was being the center of attention at their own party.

Just don’t be surprised if you’re not invited to the party at all next time.

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Buffalo Tantrum: Hobby Lobby

So. Today the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, saying in effect that a corporation is able to have religious convictions–and that if those religious convictions oppose, for instance, providing birth control as part of their employee benefits package, the company can say “nope” and get out of doing so.

And y’know what? If I were a pastor right about now, I’d be furious.

I think RCRChoice summed it up quite nicely in the following tweet:

Here’s the thing, y’all: when I think of a religious community, or a congregation, or a gang of hooligans who happen to share a faith, or whatever mass noun you want to use here, when I think of this group of people, the first word I–were I a pastor–would not want to think of is “excuse”.

I would not want to think “cop-out”.

I would be hoppin’-up-and-down, spittin’, red-eyed, steam-comin’-out-my-ears mad if people thought “easy way out”.

Building a congregation is work, y’all. It takes time and effort and dedication. You don’t just open a church and people show up and you’re done. There are sermons to write and passages and references to double-check and cross-check and pray about. There are recent events to follow and sort out what your god’s opinion on ’em would be, then figuring out a way to present that to the congregation so that half of them wouldn’t immediately bolt for the door–because you know full well that that opinion isn’t always going to be popular.

There are grieving families to comfort. There are parishioners to visit in the hospital, and prayers to be said over people who are probably not ever going to go home again but it’s absolutely your job to give people a little bit of hope to hold onto. There’s explaining to six-year-olds why we can’t ever see grandpa anymore, and trying to make “he went to live with Jesus” sound like something that’s neither scary nor a punishment. There’s answering questions like “Is it because Jesus is mad at us?” on the fly.

There are communities torn apart by “acts of God” to rebuild. There are sidewalks to be shoveled out when the snow comes in while services are in session and ain’t nobody needs Miss Sophia to break another hip. There are endless repairs to the church building itself that need to be financed–which usually means trying to squeeze more financial blood out of the spirit-is-willing-but-the-checkbook-is-weak flock–and volunteers who won’t actually nail themselves to the window frame this time to line up.

There are wedding ceremonies to write, and baptisms and christenings and confirmations. There’s couples counseling, and if your denomination permits it, divorce counseling. There are funerals to perform, trying your best to hold it together while you say goodbye to the nice fellow who smiled at you from the second pew, third seat from the right, every Sunday morning for the last 25 years.

You work your tail off for these people who have been entrusted to your guidance, is what I’m saying. If your congregation is really nice, you might get some casseroles every now and again, or your lawn mowed, or a card on Pastors’ Day (it’s the second Sunday in October, if you want to drop a hint or two from the pulpit), but for the most part you do it because it’s what you’ve been called to do. It’s your passion, your love, and your mission. It’s the reason you’re on this earth.

So to have that reduced to a bargaining chip? To have it turned into a political ploy so that a company, or perhaps more appropriately, the owners and chief profit-reapers of a company, can make some big statement about who is or is not the boss of them? And to have all that happen with a company who has itself invested in other companies that manufacture the very products they’re suddenly so up-in-arms against?

I. Would. Be. Enraged.

This is not what you work for, y’all. You don’t go out of your way to try to make your congregation an open and inviting place so that some corporation and its supporters can turn around and say “If you don’t like being beaten about the head with our particular brand of religion, you can get out”. You don’t take meals to your housebound members so that your faith can be mockingly compared to a sale on model airplane glue and crochet hooks.

You don’t spend hours praying for a sign–any sign at all–that you’re doing this right just so that your convictions can join menstrual cramps, sick grandmothers, and “I don’t think last night’s sushi agreed with me” on the list of Nebulous and Difficult to Prove Reasons to Get Out of Doing Things One Doesn’t Want to Do.

This is not what you signed up for, gang. Yes, having a sincerely held religious belief occasionally sets you up to be the butt of jokes, and you knew that going in; but having your sincerely held religious belief trotted out as a Get Out of Jail Free card for a company who wants to make some big political point (which appears, for all intents and purposes, to be “we don’t like the ACA and by golly, we are NOT going to participate in it”)? That was never supposed to be part of the deal.

Now look, it’s not up to me to tell you whether you should agree with Hobby Lobby here. If you do, by all means, carry on with your day, and keep on doing the good things that you do–whether I agree with your reasons for doing them are irrelevant, and we can agree to disagree on some points.

All I know is that if I were a pastor today, I would be flipping tables left and right. Jesus chased the moneychangers out of the temple; it’s just a cryin’ shame that they seem to have set up right next door with a sign claiming that they’re still his BFFs.

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Filed under Don't Make Me Come Down There, General Musings and Meanderings

No, You Can’t

Hey, guys? I need you to trust me for a minute here. I’m going to ask you to do something, and I promise it’s going to make sense by the end of this post. Ok? Here goes:

1. Please stop whatever you’re doing and get a piece of masking tape, or a sticky note, or a piece of paper and some clear tape, or whatever you have handy that enables you to make a sign that you can affix to something else. It doesn’t need to be big or fancy, though you’ll be able to make it as ornate as you want in step #3.

2. Grab a pen, or a Sharpie, or a crayon, or whatever writing implement you happen to have nearby. It can be any color you want.

3. On your masking tape/sticky note/etc, please write–in great big, highly visible, as-fancy-as-you-want-them-to-be letters–a single word or short phrase that represents the person, place, or thing that is most critically important to you in the entire world (yes, you can have more than one. I’m not about to ask you to choose between your children). It can be anything you want: a loved one’s name, a concept like “freedom”, a destination like “the lake house”, anything at all–just aim for something that is so important to you that you would punch a charging rhinoceros in the face for it. This is the step where you can decorate your sign if you want to. Be as plain or as fancy as you like; it’s your art project, after all. You’re in charge here.

4. Now take your spiffy new sign to your car. If you’re being a naughty ninja and reading this at work, it’s ok to wait until your next break; but at the very next opportunity, go immediately to your vehicle with your sign in hand. Do not wait until tomorrow. Do it now.

5. Affix your sign to the interior of your car in a super-visible and easily reachable place. Your dashboard will probably work well for this.

Got it? Is your sign in place, or conveniently located so that you can go put it in place at the very next opportunity?

Good. Now here’s how you use it:

The next time you are driving your car and your cell phone rings, I want you to touch that sign you just made and say aloud–right out loud in front of god and everybody– “You are more important to me than this phone call”. Then let the call go to voice mail. If it is important, they will leave a message. If it’s not, your caller ID will let you know who it was. If it really is a call of critical importance, such as the hospital calling to ask you for your medical proxy decision about a loved one, they will understand if you wait until you can pull into a parking lot before calling them back. Heck, if the caller is a decent human being at all they will understand if you wait to pull into a parking lot before calling them back.

Here’s the deal: the other night, Moon Man and I were heading home from having Grand Adventures (usually this means going to dinner, seeing a movie, playing games at a coffeeshop–our sense of adventure is really pretty tame). As we drove down the street, we noticed that the driver ahead of us seemed to be drunk–they were weaving all over the place, having a heckuva time maintaining a consistent speed, etc–and as we passed them during one of their doing-20-in-a-45-zone stints, we noticed that the driver was on her cell phone.

/splodeybrain

Let’s get really honest with ourselves for a moment, gang. We’ve talked about this before, how I think one of the highest forms of respect is prioritizing safety over my text message, and that post got circulated and reposted and people were all “YEAH THIS IS TRUE PREACH ON I AGREE WOOOOO”…but seriously, if you’re really, truly, totally honest in your soul, how many of you actually ignore your phone while you’re driving? How many of you absolutely refuse to respond to your ringtone while you’re behind the wheel? How many of you truly never even peek at the text message?

Google “adults more likely to text and drive” if you’ve got a sec. See those 283 million results? Yeah, they’re pointing to something important: we spend all our time telling our kids and telling each other to hang up the phone, but somehow we’re all so convinced of our own superiority that we don’t think the rules apply to us. We tell ourselves that unlike the 16-year-old, we can totally multitask. We can have a conversation while we drive with no problem. We can absolutely answer one quick, easy text message, because we are grownups and we can handle it.

But you know what? No, you can’t. The lady swerving all over the road demonstrated that. The people in those PSA commercials demonstrate it.

The Mythbusters proved it, guys, that driving while talking on the phone is as dangerous as drunk driving. It didn’t even get a “plausible”–it got a full-on “confirmed”. You know it’s a big deal when the Mythbusters prove it.

So make your sign, and stick it somewhere visible in your car, and the next time you’re tempted to think you are the one and only person on the road who can truly handle being on the phone while you’re behind the wheel, think again. Then touch your sign, get your priorities back in order, and let the call go to voicemail and the text sit unread.

Thank you in advance for enabling me to get safely back to the person whose name on my own sign. I promise I’ll do everything I can to enable you to get back to the person named on yours.

Here's mine. ;)

Here’s mine. 😉

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Filed under Don't Make Me Come Down There, General Musings and Meanderings

Faux-lanthropy

Ok, look.

/climbs onto soapbox, tests microphone

I (/kick) have had it (/punch) up to here (/stomp) with “being charitable” (/smash) as a marketing ploy (/tableflip). Got it? I’m sick of it. Sick. Of. It.

Please start by taking a moment to read this letter from the owner of the Washington Redskins. I’ll wait.

/straightens table

/polishes kickin’ boots

…Do you see what he did there? Do you see it? For those of you who were unable to access the letter–maybe you’re at work and your company is not so big on people going to sports teams’ websites–here’s the summary in handy numbered-list format:

1. We hear that people might not like the name “Redskins”, on account of how it’s all racist and stuff. So we talked to some Real Live Indians(TM) about it, and learned that many of them are busy trying to do things like “not freeze to death” or “not starve to death” or “keep our youth from committing suicide” and not spending much time thinking about our team name.

2. Therefore, we’re keeping the name, because hey, look, the Real Live Indians(TM) themselves said it’s not keeping them up at night! Yayyyyy, no rebranding for us!

3. Also, suck it, liberals.

4. However, since some of you are just bound and determined to keep raising a stink about all this, we’ve set up a Charitable Organization for Giving Stuff to Real Live Indians(TM). See? We’re good people, y’all. You can tell by how we’re giving away some of our hard-earned dollars. Just giving it away! They don’t even have to do anything! We’re just giving it to them! So they can buy things–like for instance the Omaha nation in Nebraska bought a backhoe so they can bury their dead even when the ground is frozen. Like civilized people! No, no, no need to erect monuments to our generosity. Seeing these poor little brown people with coats on (did I tell you we bought some coats? We totally did) is thanks enough.

5. P.S., Still not changing the name.

Now, to be fair, I may have been a bit liberal (pun only sort of intended) with the paraphrasing there. Maybe he didn’t mean to come across as smug and entitled and weaselly as he did. Maybe he really does think he’s doing a good thing.

…Yeah, who am I kidding? No he doesn’t. He can’t possibly. I flatly refuse to believe in that level of obliviousness. If he is that clueless, I need him to stop being in charge of anything more complicated than the toaster immediately.

/flips table again

Here’s the thing, y’all. We see this sort of [rude word] all the time. Not interested in talking about the racism and privilege inherent in the use of the word “Redskins” (PS, that’s akin to calling your team “the Blackies” or “the Slant-Eyes”, guys. It’s a word used to group people based on race. Not cool.)? That’s ok. We can talk about something else.

Like the pink ribbon campaign, for instance. Did you know that Think Before You Pink is a thing? Basically, they’re an organization who encourages consumers to…well, do exactly what it says in the name (and I think it’s really telling that they exist at all). It’s oh-so-very fashionable these days to sport pink ribbons on as many things as possible–your shirt, your shoes, your lapel, your water bottle–but please stop telling yourself that your pink ribbon baseball cap is going to be the thing that leads to the cure. Seriously.

Because the companies that are shilling all these pink ribbon products? Yeah, they’re not in it for the health crusade. They’re in it for the sales. They’re in it to get you to “like” their Facebook page, so they can market to you directly in your newsfeed and so that you’ll buy more of their products because they’re “the good people who support breast cancer research”. Read the fine print–it’s unsettling how often you’ll find things like “Company X will donate up to $10,000 from the sale of these limited-edition Pink Ribbon nail polish stickers to an organization that supports breast cancer research”. Notice how they don’t tell you which organization you’re supporting, or how to tell whether they’ve already met the fundraising required to make that donation and now you’re just rewarding them for putting pink ribbons on things. That’s because they’re not in it to be good people. They’re in it to make a buck. Or several bucks. As many bucks as possible.

And don’t even get me started on the “post a selfie with no makeup to support something nebulous about breast cancer!” or “tee-hee, let’s all post a status like ‘I like it on the chair by the door’ which will sound dirty but we’re talking about where we like to keep our purses and the boys will never get it HAR HAR HAR we’re total sixth-graders and also BREAST CANCER, Y’ALL”. Or the “share this image to support the cause du jour”. Or–heaven help me–“one like = one respect!”.

/vomits

What it all comes down to is a raging case of what I’m calling “faux-lanthropy”. It’s no longer about actually doing things to try to make the world a better place–it’s about appearing to do these things. Why get your hands dirty when you can “increase awareness” from the comfort of your sofa? Why donate actual cash dollars when you can donate a piece of your Facebook wall to a photo of an attractive person doing something symbolic? Why write a letter to your government official (pop quiz: name any three of your elected representatives, at any level of government, and think about how you voted in the election in which they won their seat. If you can’t do that, you need to change that immediately) when you can write a context-free status that’s the moral equivalent of a chain letter?

Why be a philanthropist, when you can just look like one? I mean, to be fair, yes, some of these companies are in fact donating actual goods and services to various organizations–but when you’re forecasting $10 million in sales of your latest pink hat and planning to donate a whopping great $10,000 of it…I mean, c’mon. Nobody is impressed with that.

Ugh.

I don’t have answers, really, except to tell you to get up off your tuckus and do something. Mail a check to the organization of your choice (seriously, send it straight to them. Don’t go through a third party, lest you end up accidentally donating to the wrong charity). Host a fund drive, or a rally, or a -thon of some sort. Here at the Buffalo Moon Ranch, we’re hosting a tabletop gaming party (on International Tabletop Day, woohoo!) that’s doubling as a food drive for a local organization. See? It doesn’t have to be a big difficult thing–you can have a party and quietly collect donations in the corner. Easy-peasy.

But for the love of all that’s holy, can we please, please please please, as a favor to me, stop rewarding these [very rude word] people for their faux-lanthropy? Quit applauding them for what is actually just their latest marketing campaign, and start applauding them only when they do something decent for its own sake.

Oh, and tell the Redskins to change their name. Seriously. I cannot understand why we’re still having that conversation.

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Filed under Don't Make Me Come Down There, General Musings and Meanderings

Ahh, Kansas.

Ahh, Kansas.

I was born and raised here in Kansas, about 45 miles from where I live now. I went to college at the University of Kansas (some of you will be saying things about the Jayhawks right now), about 20 miles from here. I’ve been in this house for the last 5 years, and at this rate, I reckon I should cross the Missouri border in another 10 years or so.

Or I could stay put, because I actually kinda love this state. I love its scenery; I love its skies; I love that there’s an arbitrary fortress of hippie-hood in Lawrence, and that you can see real live honest-to-god buffalo beside the highway. (To be fair, they’re usually on ranches. But still! Buffalo!)

I love all the things that are in this commercial, which comes to us from the 1980s wayback machine and which I can still sing almost in its entirety:

This is my state, and I’m here to stay.

But lately, my state has–pardon my language–lost its damnfool mind. The legislators, led by Governor Palpatine–er, Brownback–have cut funding to everything that matters to me as a human being, done their level best to make this as hostile a place as possible for anyone who isn’t one of their cronies, and now, in what can really only be described as “Stage One of Their Nefarious Plan, BWAHAHAHA”, they’ve introduced a bill that would make it legal for anyone, including folks in public service positions, to refuse service to anyone whose sexuality offends their religious beliefs.

Let’s say that again. In Kansas, it is fixin’ to become legal for an employee of the state to refuse to serve you because of your sexuality. The bill does say that their manager would be obligated to find a different employee–y’know, one o’ them thar sympathizers–who would be willing to serve you, but the fact that the first employee can refuse you service at all….Well, I mean, a friend of mine put it best when he said that this is carrying on the fine tradition of Brown vs. Board of Education.

Another friend noted that we should probably be less surprised, given that Topeka is home to the Westboro Baptist Church (nope, no link for them. You want to read more about them, you have to Google it yourself.), so it’s not like Topeka is really a hotbed of sensitivity and acceptance.

I’m pretty sure you can guess what I’ve said about it, or at least what sort of emotion underlies my responses. I won’t reprint my actual language here, as I try to keep this site hovering around the PG-to-PG-13 level and my words were at least R-rated.

So all of this has led–and I think reasonably so–to a lot of folks saying they’re going to boycott Kansas. They’re not going to come to Kansas to visit. They’re not going to move here, and if they already live here, they’re going to move away. I saw one person saying they were going to have to find a new favorite college basketball team. And I get it. I really, really get it.

But I want to propose an alternate option: If you are homosexual, bisexual, transgender, or a straight ally, please move to Kansas immediately.

Seriously. Right this second. Pack your stuff, and come on down.

Here’s my thought process: sooner or later these lawmakers’ terms are going to expire. We have not yet reached the point where they are appointing themselves dictators-for-life. This means that eventually there is going to be another election, and some of these clowns’ seats are going to be up for grabs.

If all of the rainbow allies have fled the state, this state will never change.

But if all the fabulous folk swarm the state, establish residency, and register to vote…

I mean, I’m just sayin’, how hilariously awesome would it be for us all to stage a little uprising, and make Kansas the most gay-friendly state in the nation? How fantastic would it be if the Westboro Baptist folk suddenly found themselves buried in an avalanche of the very people they’ve been protesting against?

How incredible would it be for Kansas’ next governor to be its first openly gay governor?

Take that, Brownbackpatine.

And yes, I know that this means folks would have to deal with some full-tilt b.s. in the meantime, and I really, really feel yucky about asking for that sacrifice. Some folks would have to deal with the discrimination (fun fact: the bill is apparently designed to “prevent” discrimination by enabling people to adhere to their religious beliefs without having to deal with the scary gay people. Y’know, by excluding them from free access to services. I wonder if everyone here knows the word “hypocrisy”), but if we can get enough folks on board, we can turn this damn boat around…so it would be a temporary sacrifice, for a significantly greater good.

Do I really believe this is a likely outcome? Nahh, I’m mostly just daydreaming here.

But man, oh man oh man oh man, how great would it be if this state, which is really a pretty beautiful place that just happens to be run by some folks with seriously ugly hearts, got reclaimed?

What if we had our own little revolution, right here in the state that everyone just assumes will be the most backward state for the entire rest of forever?

What if we staged a quiet, betcha-didn’t-see-this-one-comin’ coup?

It’s worth a thought, anyway.

So maybe you don’t withdraw all your support from Kansas. Maybe you don’t turn your back on it. Maybe you move here instead, and build up our numbers, and come next election time, we take this damn state back.

Our state motto is “To the stars through difficulties”, after all.

Who wants to help me reach for the sky?

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Filed under Don't Make Me Come Down There, General Musings and Meanderings

Buffalo Tantrum: You Are Not a Tree

Ok, look.

I’m going to say two words in a second, and I’m predicting with about 95% confidence that nearly everyone reading this is immediately going to think of someone else. Ready? Here goes.

Professional Victim.

Here’s what I mean by that phrase:

That person whose life is always in some sort of full-tilt crisis–financial, emotional, spiritual, etc.

That person whose Facebook reads a lot like a wish list–“Can anyone help with X?”, “What I really need is Y”, “If you have a Z to spare, I could seriously use it right now”.

That person who has a spectacular list of Folks Who Done Done Me Wrong–their ex, their boss, their neighbor, life in general.

That person who has identified–sometimes repeatedly–the One Thing That Must Change So That I Can Be Happy/Fulfilled/Productive/Etc but which they are, for whatever reason, flatly refusing to change (if asked, they’ll say they can’t change it, and give you a long list of excuses. Er, reasons).

That person who is always waiting for someone else to come solve their life for them–via infusion of money, by divorcing them, by graduating and moving out, by perpetually validating them and bolstering their ego so they never have to learn their own coping skills, etc.

That person. You know the one.

Now that you’ve got that person (or people) fixed firmly in your mind, delete them. Erase the image. That person is out of play. Instead, reread the list above from the bottom to the top, and check all the boxes that could by any stretch of the imagination apply to you:

Are you the one who is just waiting for the day that your spouse finally quits loafing around and starts looking for a job for reals? Who knows for certain that if you could just sell the house and move to the country, everything would be ok? Who can, off the top of your head, think of the Top 10 People Whose Choices Drove You To This Chaotic Place?

Are you the victim in your own story?

‘Cause honey, if it’s you (and yes, I am looking pointedly at a few of you right now, and no, I won’t tell you  who they are), then grab a helmet right quick because I am about to drop three brickloads of truth onto your head in rapid succession.

Brickload #1.

Brickload #1.

Brickload #2.

Brickload #2.

Brickload #3.

Brickload #3.

Here’s the thing: I get it that change is hard. I get it that in some cases, change really isn’t practical–for example, right now Moon Man and I are living in a house that neither of us is particularly enamored with (his ex-wife picked it out), but it’s old enough that it needs some pretty costly upgrades before we can sell it for enough money to break even on what’s left of the mortgage. Yes, we could theoretically do a short-sale, and we could theoretically just walk away from it and let the bank sort out why the payments stopped and the house is suddenly vacant, but it’s not quite so dire that we’re willing to take that step. We just, y’know, grumble about it sometimes.

But six months or so ago, we decided that we needed to make an active choice in the matter. We had spent a (really pretty embarrassing) amount of time playing the “We’re So Tormented” fugue on the world’s smallest violin, blaming his ex for picking this house and “forcing” him to buy it despite it being wildly overpriced, blaming the builders for using cheap materials in its construction, blaming the economy for “stranding” us here–but the bottom line was that there are not, in fact, any guard dogs patrolling the property and keeping us from leaving. We’re here because we choose to be, and if that’s a choice that really, truly makes us miserable, then we are the only people who can change that–so we either had to commit to leaving or commit to staying, and either way, we had to accept that the choice was completely, entirely, utterly ours to make.

So we stayed. We’re being aggressive about saving money so we can start making upgrades, and once it’s ready to sell and we line up another house, then we’ll make the big jump. But in the meantime, this house is ours, and we are here by choice, and we are taking ownership of that decision.

But it all had to start from the realization that we are not, in fact, trees. We can move. We can just get up and go.

Now, look, I’m not saying that there aren’t repercussions. Every choice has consequences, and you have to factor those in and decide whether you can live with them. You don’t exist in a vacuum, after all.

And you’re the only one who can make that judgement call. I can’t really even advise you, let alone decide for you whether declaring that from now on you get to spend one night per week doing something that is of interest only to you (a hobby, a sport, a night out with friends) is worth having your spouse grump around the house–but I can tell you that if you decide it’s not worth it, then you have to own that choice, and you do not get to blame your spouse for keeping you from your friends. You are keeping you from your friends, by choosing to prioritize your spouse’s desires over your own. I can’t tell you whether you really will be better off by leaving a relationship that looks toxic from way over here, but I can tell you that if you stay, you have to own that choice, and you do not get to blame your partner for “making you miserable”. I can’t tell you that keeping the job that is driving your blood pressure higher than your bank balance is better than the financial risk of leaving it and just hoping you find something else, but I can tell you that…ehh, you get the picture.

Here’s the bottom line: I’m pretty much over the professional victims in my universe. If you never have any money, then you need to have a come to Jesus meeting with yourself and sort out why that is–perhaps “I don’t currently have a job” is a good starting point (and do not come to me with “nobody will hire me”. What you really mean is “I do not want any of the jobs that will hire me, because I would rather complain about my finances and try to get other people to solve my life than take a job at the fast food restaurant down the street”). If your marriage is miserable and you dread going home, why do you keep doing it? Have you considered counseling? Don’t come to me with “we’re staying together for the kids’ sake”, either, because a Google search for “does it damage kids if parents stay in an unhappy marriage” brings back 2.2 million results and the entire first page is full of blurbs that say, in a nutshell, “yes, yes it does”.

If you are unhappy where you are, why don’t you change it? You are not a tree. And if you choose not to change it at this time, then own that choice. You cannot be the victim if you are in charge of your own narrative.

And trust me, honeychild, ain’t nobody impressed with a professional victim.

**Note: if you are in a situation that is unsafe, where you are not safe at home but have been threatened or “warned against” trying to leave, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7223 (SAFE). If you are so overwhelmed by your current situation that you think the only way to change things is by ending everything, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). I love you hoodlums, and while change can be scary, it needs to be the sort of scary that turns out well for our heroes/heroines in the end, y’know?

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Filed under Don't Make Me Come Down There, General Musings and Meanderings

Buffalo Tantrum: The “P” Word

Ok, look.

Some of you have probably seen this image floating around recently:

jennifer lawrence

 

If you’re reading that and wanting to give Jennifer Lawrence a high-five or a hug or a pony, let me note for the record that I’m right there with ya. I love Jennifer Lawrence. I loved her when she tripped at the Oscars, I love her when she makes slip-ups and goofy faces in interviews, and I love her when she is utterly flawed and utterly human and leaves the house anyway despite knowing that everything she does is going to be on the tabloid covers tomorrow.

And if you followed the link by clicking on that picture, let me note that I love Upworthy, their compulsion to put popups on every page notwithstanding. They have some great stuff there (some schlock, too, but that’s forgivable), and I spend more time than I care to admit sniffling over their videos and fist-pumping about their commentary on the World These Days.

But because I’m me, and because words are really important to me, I have to take a minute and have a minor tantrum about something that really stuck out to me in that Jennifer Lawrence quote–specifically, the part where she says that “we see this airbrushed perfect model”.

I know, I know, some of you are going to accuse me of splitting hairs in 3…2…1…but it seems to me that referring to the airbrushed version as “perfect” undermines her message just a touch. And lest you think I’m going after Ms. Lawrence here, please let me assure you that I’m not–I’m actually aiming this tantrum at society at large.

Here’s what happens: we tell ourselves, our kids, and each other that we should accept ourselves for how we are, regardless of how we look. We say that people should love themselves in whatever body they have. We say that people are a soul in a body, not a body with a soul. And then–without meaning any harm by it–we turn around and, sometimes in the same breath, refer to these art projects (what else would you call a sculpture, like a doll, or a painting done onscreen with airbrushes?) as “perfect”.

In other words, we say “no, no, sweetie, you’re fine. That over there is perfect, but you…you’ll do. I mean, I love you, and that’s what really matters”.

The last part of that sentiment is great, sure, but could we maybe try not accidentally drawing the unattainable parallel as we go?

This horrifies me in ways I can't put words to.

This horrifies me in ways I can’t put words to.

I think this is what’s screwing us up, folks. We’re spending all our time going ’round and ’round in circles, trying to convince ourselves and each other that we’re all good enough, pretty enough, etc, while simultaneously holding up artwork as the ideal. But here’s the thing: art is art. People are people. They periodically have some things in common, but it’s certainly not frequent enough to make art a reasonable aspiration for your appearance on a random Tuesday.

And for that matter, why do The Powers That Be get to pick the artwork we want to resemble? Just because their voice is the loudest? Because they bought the most airtime? If I decided to live my entire life by the rule that He Who Advertises To Me Most Aggressively Wins, then I’d fall to pieces almost immediately just because I’d never be able to decide whether Coke or Pepsi was the best. I’d be like that thought experiment where you strap a piece of buttered-side-up toast to the back of a cat and drop it, since in theory neither side will ever hit the ground (note: do not do this, bananahead).

So to heck with them, I say. This is my life and my body and my sense of aesthetics shall rule the day. They don’t get to tell me that blonde hair is more “perfect” than brown, they don’t get to tell me that French manicures are more “perfect” than the natural unpolished look that I’m rockin’, and they don’t get to tell me that the artwork on the front of magazines is more “perfect” than the artwork I resemble.

220px-Willendorf-Venus-1468

This one, thankyouverymuch. And I think she’s perfect.

And from here on out, I’m going to pay close attention to my language. I will try with all my might to avoid using the “p” word unless it’s in a clearly indicated statement of opinion (“Personally, I think this cheesecake is perfect”) or in reference to an objectively, scientifically measurable phenomenon (“That photograph is centered perfectly above the sofa”).

Human beings are not perfect, y’all. That’s all I’m saying. And the sooner we can strike that word from our vocabulary and decide collectively that the advertisers don’t get to buy our sense of aesthetics anymore, the sooner we can maybe start making some progress away from fat-shaming and skinny-slamming and people having surgery on their eyelids.

Now if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to go look at some more pictures of Jennifer Lawrence. That gal is not perfect, but she’s certainly aesthetically pleasing to my eye, and besides, she’s a hoot.

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Filed under Don't Make Me Come Down There, General Musings and Meanderings