Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Unacceptable

 artist: Eric Drooker

Some things are unacceptable.  We all know this to be fact.  We do not ask the woman with the black eye and the broken nose to accept her husband's violence.  We do not ask the child with the lashes on their back and scissor cuts on their tongue to accept their mother's discipline.  We do not ask the man with a burning cross on his lawn to accept white supremacy.  We know these things to be violations of the very foundations of just and moral behavior, and we would never ask a victim of these violations to accept such actions.  There are no exceptions or caveats.  There are no justifications that can be given.

Some things are unacceptable.

When it comes to governing in a democracy, morality and justice become hotly debated topics.  The standard for acceptability isn't defined, therefore, by what violates those metrics, but instead becomes something else entirely.  What is unacceptable in a democracy is anything that makes it impossible for the democracy to function properly--anything that breaks the system of governance. 

You know where I'm going with this, right?

I do not agree with the new administration about the necessity for the wall.  I do not agree with their stance on abortion, or racial inequality, or LGBTQ issues.  I do not agree with their choice to discriminate against Muslims, or their decision to block refugees from our country.

I do not agree with these things, but they are issues of justice and morality.  They are--as much as I am loathe to admit it--up for debate.  I will fight for them each and every day if I must, but I will never claim that taking an opposing side from mine is breaking our system of governance.

What is killing us--what is dismantling our democracy before our very eyes--is our new administration's relationship with the truth.  Facts are not just being denied; they are being suppressed.  Our government is actively working to keep the population ill-informed.

How, I ask, are we expected to participate in the political process--and make no mistake, the participation of the population is the defining characteristic of a democracy--when steps are being taken to keep us from having the basic information necessary to make well informed decisions?

"Alternate facts" are not any kind of facts at all, and facts are what we, the people, require in order to sustain our democracy.

Science is a non-partisan, facts based discipline, and the findings of scientific agencies should not be subjected to political review before being published.

Intellectual freedom is the bedrock for the First Amendment, and an integral component of a functioning democracy.  We must be free to receive and disseminate ideas without restraint, or our system of governance will die.

This is not an issue of conservative vs progressive.  It is not an issue of Democrat vs Republican.  It is about the integrity of our democratic process, and it cannot be allowed to stand.  Not if we want a government of the people, for the people, and by the people.

Some things are unacceptable.

Monday, January 23, 2017

An Open Letter to My Dog, Now That He Has Passed On.

 A Bito
Dear Chimbasa,

I'm really not going to forgive you for this.

I mean, let's be honest, I've been pretty tolerant of your shenanigans over the years. Remember that time you were only a few months old, and we gave you all those rib bones from TGIF's, and you peed all over the porch you were so excited? I didn't even get mad. I just laughed my ass off at how silly you were. 
 The Buddy Puppy

And when you fell in the lake up the mountain, and I had to stick you in my sweater to keep you from dying of hypothermia and you got my shirt soaking wet and it was only 50 degrees outside and I almost froze trying to get you warm? I was totally cool about that.
Dog vs. PiƱata

When you and Mishka dug a hole through the bed we just sighed and flipped it over. And when you dug ANOTHER HOLE through the OTHER SIDE we bought a new mattress and started locking you in the kitchen when we left. Okay, I admit, I got a little peeved when you dug up the kitchen linoleum, but I forgave you pretty easily, didn't I?
 Partners in Crime

Remember the Bito song of love? Remember how you sang it for almost four months straight the first time Mishka went into semi-heat? Did I complain about your vocal expressions of frustration? No I did not.
With your One True Love
I never got mad that you hated snow so much that sometimes you'd pee in the house rather than brave the out of doors.  
 Tropical dogs don't like winter

I reluctantly accepted that no, the trash was not always going to be off limits.  In fact, sometimes it was going to be all over the kitchen floor.

 On the plus side, we never had to clean up crumbs.

When Elliot was born, you got a little mad at me, I think, and I even handled that.  I waited patiently until you realized the new puppy was going to let you lick yogurt off his hands, and that he might be a fine addition to the pack.

When Charlotte was born, and you and Callie decided you loved the diaper pail, I handled that utterly disgusting situation with grace and aplomb. 
Making a giant mess takes a lot out of a dog.
Remember how every seat in the house was yours? 
 No matter how ridiculous.

Remember how you used to eat my underwear?

I guess I did kinda get revenge for that.

I lost track of the number of times you decided to go on walkabout.  I've even lost track of the number of times we almost didn't get you back, because you were so damn adorable some other family wanted to keep you.  Really, you were almost kidnapped an absurd number of times.  There was even that one time you were ACTUALLY KIDNAPPED.  Maybe you should have tried being a little less cute.  Still, I didn't blame you.
 Seriously.  You looked like a stuffed animal.

How many times have I cleaned up your various accidents in the house?  No idea.  I just know that I never held it against you for long.
 The father coaches the son on techniques for destruction.

When you had your stroke, that was a big deal for me.  But I forgave you.  You were getting old, after all.  Things were bound to happen.
Has a stroke.  Still guards the baby.
When you started having unexplained night pains, and waking up yelping in your sleep, it scared the crap out of me, but I didn't get mad.  
You made up your sleep during the day.

When they told me you had kidney disease--the same thing that had taken Mishka--I finally thought you were a goner for sure.  But we put you on drugs and you perked right up and made it through your next birthday.
 Keeping Vigil.

Fourteen.  That's a pretty impressive age for a dog.
 You can look it up on the internet.
But now, now you've done it.  You've finally gone, and I'm not really sure I can forgive you for that.  It's not that I'm so much angry, you understand, as utterly heartbroken.  Since the day I first brought you home, until the moment I stroked your ears while you died, I have loved your tiny, stinky, dignant little face.  You brought me love, and joy, and--yes--more than a few disgusting messes, but it was more than worth it.
 Oh, my Bito
Okay.  Okay.  We all know I'm full of it.  I'm totally going to forgive you.
But I will miss you an awful lot.
Good-bye, my Bito.  See you when it's my turn.  Don't eat all the bacon before I get there. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Day 83: Two-Hour Delay

This morning I was awoken at 5:30 am. 

 This is my re-enactment of the face I made.

It was not, as it often is, one of my children crawling into my bed in order impose their love upon me via the strategic application of cold feet and rambunctious wiggling.  Nor was it my dogs, desperate to know why I was lying abed when there are SO MANY THINGS in the world and ALL OF THEM need to be peed on.

No, this morning I was awoken by my phone.

It was ringing.

Now, before you make assumptions about my own level of technical brilliance, let me assure you: I do know how to silence my phone.  Unfortunately, I was also instilled with a high level of paranoia at a very young age that SOMETHING MIGHT HAPPEN which required my attention, and that paranoia has only grown now that I have spawned.  So, while I know how to silence my phone, in reality I only put it on vibrate, with the dubious logic that if someone really needs me, they'll call, and I'll feel the vibrations and wake up, whereas the occasional late night rumbles of my brothers having a conversation about the Big Bang Theory won't disturb me.

Quiet, you.  It isn't your phone.  Just let me have my coping mechanisms and leave me alone.

 Morning.  My old enemy.  I greet thee.

Anyway, my phone rang at 5:30.  I, knowing full well what a complete asshat of a year 2016 has been thus far, automatically assumed something dreadful was happening.

Turns out I was right.

See, it was an automated call from the school system.  The kids have a two hour delay.

Why is that awful?  Well, lemme 'splain.

(1) First of all, I was supposed to take my brother to the airport this morning.  That was gonna work fine when the kids went to school at 8:25.  Not so much at 10:25.  I had to stick the poor boy on the commuter rail.  I hope he makes it.

(2) I had a doctor's appointment this morning.  Other parents had other things.  ALL OF US are now not going to do those things.  We're going to do other things instead, things involving our children, and scrambling for child care coverage, and trying to figure out how to fit our six hour day into four hours.

(3) It's not like I get to sleep in because of the two hour delay.  In fact, I actually had to get up over an hour early, because once I realized my morning plans were boned I had to get up and figure out how I was going to fix it.

Now, lest someone get all shirty and talk about the safety of the kids, I would like to be clear: I 100% fully support the school system in them making whatever schedule adjustments they feel necessary in order to keep the students and teachers safe.

 Doesn't look like much, but the inadvertent split I did in the driveway confirms, 
this stuff is slippery.

I'm just gonna grumble about it over here.  Because days with delays are like the worst of both worlds.  You still gotta deal with the school routine, but the actual routine gets broken.  It's balls.

Oh well.  At least Elliot is happy about it.  Charlotte, on the other hand, agrees with me.  Apparently the delay is cutting into her social schedule.

Me, too, baby girl.  Me, too.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Day 82: Hamilton Makes the Best Parodies.

Today, we're accepting that I'm childish.  Cause I wrote this, and it's totally childish, but I'm too gleeful not to share it.

If you're not familiar with Hamilton, this isn't gonna make any sense.  Fair warning.

Anyway, various and assorted gentle folk, I present to you my "You'll Be Back" Parody, written for our soon-to-be Commander in Chief.  *Edit: I'm still not a dude, but I gave it my best shot.  The sock puppet was a genius inspiration from my friend Brown.  Enjoy. 

I'm in Charge
You say
The price of my wall’s not a price that you’re willing to pay
You cry
Over each foul remark that I make, and each grandiose lie
Why so sad?
The founders created this system which leaves me in power
And it’s making me mad
That SNL doesn’t respect my ascendent hour…

I’m in charge, don’t you see
All you little folk belong to me
I can do, as I please
Watch me bring the country to it’s knees
Oceans rise, but I ignore
All the science that has come before
And you rich, you’re in luck
Cause I’ll help you screw the country over good, just to make another buck

Da da da dat da dat da da da da ya da
Da da dat dat da ya da!
Da da da dat da dat da da da da ya da
Da da dat dat da…

You say I am destructive and it can’t go on
But I know you’re just bitter because I won
And no, I don’t like data
Cause facts are just for haters
It’s true because I say it
And you’re all gonna play it
This game I created, you’ll play it because you can’t help it

I’m in charge, you’re all mine
And I like the situation fine
It’s not fair, it’s not right
(But we know that I can fix that with might)
I’ve got plans, soon you’ll see
The Bill of Rights will be history
Cause when push, comes to shove
Civil rights and equal treatment, social justice—they just are not things I love

Da da da dat da dat da da da da ya da
Da da dat dat da ya da!
Da da da dat da dat da da da da ya da
Da da dat—

Da da da dat da dat da da da da ya da
Da da dat dat da ya da!
Da da da dat da dat da da da da ya da da da da
Dat dat da ya da!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Day 81: When Someone Shows You Who They Are...

...believe them the first time.

This quote has been flying around online quite a bit, mostly as a response to the "wait and see" folks in regards to our new President-Elect.  But this past week I've been thinking about it in it's original context, as I've thought about my own life and talked to my friend quite a lot about hers.

I don't know why we, as people (possibly as women?  Although I'm not sure it's limited to women) have such a hard time believing in the reality other people choose to show us. 

Is it a biological trait, to focus on the hints of good even when we can see the glaring bad? 
Is it something socialized into us, by the fairy tale mythology of every story we're ever told, where if you love someone hard enough--either as a lover or a friend or a parent--you can save them from their own internal demons? 
Is it simply laziness?  Do we abhor the idea of trying to go out and form a new bond so thoroughly that we'd rather pretend our current bondee isn't a total asshat?

I don't know.  I don't know the cause.  But what I do know is that Maya Angelou was right.  People will say all sorts of things, but when someone shows you who they are, you should believe them the first time.  It will save you a world of pain.

People don't change because you care about them.  You do not have magical refining powers to draw the perfect diamond from a lump of coal.  It is possible for a person to change, but only if they want to.  Not because you want them to.

So, when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.

It really is better that way.  I promise.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Day 80: Don't Apologize for Her Feelings


Can I just take a moment to acknowledge the biggest bullshit phrase in all of emotional communication?  Raise your hand if you've ever said this:

"I'm sorry you feel that way."

Now, if you meant "I am expressing sympathy that you feel something horrible" you can go ahead and put your hand down.  But if what you meant was "you've just told me about a series of actions I engaged in that were directly responsible for you feeling awful, but instead of apologizing for the actions which were callous and hurtful to you I am going to regret that you had FEELINGS ABOUT THEM" then you can just go ahead and take that upraised hand and slap yourself upside the head.

 Yeah.  That's pretty much how I feel about that.

Human relationships are complicated.  We're all responsible for our own feelings, and yes, sometimes a person will feel bad even when no one has done anything wrong.  I'm not suggesting that if someone says "hey, you walked through that door.  I didn't want you to walk through that door.  How dare you do such a hurtful thing!" that you should feel any kind of regret just for making an entrance. 

IF, on the other hand, you have done genuinely hurtful things, and rather than accepting your own actions and taking responsibility for said actions you choose to apologize for the feelings your moronic behaviors engendered then you, oh misbegotten remnant of humanity, are a complete and utter shit.

Try apologizing for something that has to do with you--that you, yourself are responsible for.  Like, say, your actions or your words. 

Don't apologize for her feelings.  (A) they aren't yours to take ownership of and (B) they don't require any apology.  Her feelings are a pretty natural response to the crap you pulled.

Your bullshit, on the other hand, will need several apologies filled out in triplicate.  Submit the originals to the main office, and I'll make sure they get filed appropriately.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Day 79: Life Doesn't Discriminate...

Today is Thanksgiving, and many of my friends have been posting on social media, saying what they're thankful for.  The lists are sweet and touching, and I want to post something similar, but the truth is that I can't find that place of gratitude this year.  

Don't get me wrong.  There are things in my life that I love beyond reason, but as 2016 draws to a close I find that I am not capable of simply appreciating what I love.  Instead I am filled with the desperate need to cling to what is dearest to me.  To arm myself against whatever might come along to snatch it away from me.  I do not feel grateful this year.  Instead I feel ferociously defensive, like a wolf mother crouching over her cubs, snarling at the world that threatens them.

In Hamilton, an American musical, there's a song sung by Aaron Burr called Wait for It.  I've got a lot of complicated feelings about that song, but I cannot deny that I get chills every time I hear it.  The chorus resonates so strongly with me that it makes my heart hurt.

Life doesn't discriminate
Between the sinners and the saints
It takes and it takes and it takes
And we keep living anyway
We rise and we fall
And we break
And we make our mistakes...
It's true, isn't it?  
I know I'm not the only one who has been feeling the impact of how impartial life is.  We have watched so many of our iconic artists die recently--some far too soon.  We have watched a string of incidents in which innocent people lost their lives at the hands of the police.  We have seen a rise in hate crimes among the population in just the past few weeks.  We have seen a Neo-Nazi group with a fancy new label actually join mainstream American politics.  We are currently watching state governments unleash deadly levels on violence on peaceful protestors in the name of the almighty oil dollar.  And that's in addition to the traumas that are, perhaps, more normalized for some of us, but no less painful.  The family members who have grown sick.  The friends and loved ones who are struggling against too many trials.  The wars, the diseases, and the never ending list of freak accidents that we hear about and pray never to experience.

Life does not discriminate between the sinners and the saints.  It doesn't care if you're good or evil, if you bring joy or sorrow, if you are alone or surrounded by people who love you.  To be alive is to be constantly at risk--constantly on the verge of losing everything you love.  I am too aware of that verge to be grateful.  Gratitude is an emotion of comfort, and I cannot find comfort anywhere within me.

This year, I am not grateful

This year, I am not counting my blessings.

This year I am full of a screaming defiance for the whims of a life that gives and takes in unequal measure and with no regard for merit.  I know that my insignificant human denial will change nothing, but it's all I have left to cling to when the specter of loss seems to loom over everyone and everything.  

It isn't really acceptance.  But at least it's better than despair.