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This Post Brought to you by Viognier

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“It’s been months since I last wrote. I’ve lived in a state of mental slumber, leading the life of someone else. I’ve felt, very often, a vicarious happiness. I haven’t existed. I’ve been someone else. I’ve lived without thinking.”
― Fernando PessoaThe Book of Disquiet“ 

MMmmmm Viognier

 

So.

 

I’ve been silent. Absent? Silent. I haven’t had a thing to say. Maybe it’s because I’ve been to tired, or too busy. But really, maybe I’ve been too angry. I’ve been working, at a job that uses none of my talents, except a talent for schmoozing tourists.

It’s been getting to me, this feeling that I am visibly poor, of the poor classes, that I will always be poor, and that everyone I see and talk to, can smell the poverty on me.

I know how to be poor, with a decent facsimile of not-poor manners. Unless you get too close. My teeth are bad. My nails are bad. My skin is bad. I’m shabby.

I’d like to return to blogging in a blaze of glorious righteous wit, but instead I’m grimly pushing words out between my figurative teeth. Spitting nails.

I’m half a bottle of Viognier down, which tastes like eternal springtime, like sucking the nectar from sweet clover flowers as a child in Seattle, of daisies and the neighbor man’s roses and green fig tree leaves- if it weren’t for that, I’m not sure I could write anything at all.

I’m not unlucky, I’ve been lucky as hell. I have family that loves me. I have a husband that loves me, and friends that love me. I have a job, which is more than a lot of people can say.

I believe in the degree I finished, but I can’t afford to pay my university bill to get my diploma. I can’t afford to apply for grad school.

I have a restless longing for someplace other than here, and a sinking feeling that everywhere is here. I’m curled in like a fist. I’m tired like a bit of plastic sheet lying half out of a dumpster.

I’m tired of feeling as though I made some cosmic choice to be born poor, as though I ever held a good hand to play. The only thing I’m playing into is a lie. But it’s enough to make me bite my own tail off, feeling small and weak and stupid and ugly and silent.

I’m not pleading for anyone to tell me I’m a genius. I’m just pleading for a chance to do something that makes me feel like I have a little worth.

it’s so selfish, I know. We’re all drowning, right?

All the protests in the street I’ve been waiting for are here, and I can’t stop myself, a little nasty part of myself from wanting to spit on the beautiful smooth white boys, smooth as milk glass, spouting socialist talking points in their scruffy facial hair, with their 80,000 dollar degrees from Auburn and Columbia, with their nice parents, and their nice warm houses.

Come down to where I’ve lived, hungry and smelling of fear and sawdust and dog shit. Come down, my wide open mouthed laugh will show where my jaw is partly missing because I waited so long to get my wisdom teeth removed, and the scars of acne that will never go away, and my dimpled thighs and my scarred hands.

Come down to my heavy arms, these arms of a peasant, come and hitch me to a plow, and let me be bovine, simple and peaceful, uncomplaining, unthinking.

I’ve been too bitter to write, too tautly wound to make sense of anything. I want to be pleased that there is at last some movement, but instead it’s a crazy laugh that goes skittering like a water bug, to think that now, now, hipster boys, pretty thin white boys, you’re passionate, you’re engaged. We’ve been here all the time, me and the ones who have it worse than me. Worse than I’ve ever seen, or felt, or imagined.

I’m trying. I’m trying to find something to say that isn’t invective.

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ll Make This Quick.

Posted on

Hi NYC Slutwalk! How are you? I bet you’re cranky. You certainly have sounded cranky lately. That’s unfortunate, because you really have no excuse to be cranky at all. On the contrary, you should feel ashamed.

No really, you should!

Slutwalk, I want to support you, and in theory, I think you’re great. But this racism and racism apologizing bullshit is giving me a rage.

Yeah, you know what I'm talking about.

Slutwalk organizers, you were never going to erase the damage that was done by the racist fuck who made this sign, but you had an opportunity to say “no, this is wrong, we’re against this,” to show your solidarity with non-racist-fucks, to condemn anyone who didn’t stand in solidarity. And you blew it.

There is nothing that excuses the sign, ok? Nothing. John Lennon doesn’t mitigate a damn thing, and it’s frankly hilarious, where hilarious = goddamn depressing, that anyone would think it could. “But guys, a white man came up with that saying first!” is an absurd defense. It always has been. And “Yoko Ono told him it was ok!” is absurd too. One woman of color does not equal all women of color, and while I’ve no doubt that Yoko Ono has heard a lot of racist bullshit in her time, I somehow doubt the N-word is included in that.

Slutwalk, you didn’t just create an environment where a woman thought it was ok to hold a sign with the n-word; you created an environment where it was ok. She held her sign, and only one woman of color asked her to take it down, and she didn’t do it. She didn’t need to do it, because she knew she could get away with walking around with her racism prominently displayed on a huge goddamn sign.

And she held it up, and posed for the picture, and basically became the face of exactly the kind of feminism I can’t get behind.

And this is why I roll my eyes when white women bitch about WOC who don’t identify as feminist. Yeah, I wish more WOC would identify as feminist, but I see that as a failure of feminism, not WOC. Because why the hell would a person of color—whatever their gender—want to stand with a movement that has such a history of epic race fails? I can’t imagine I would.

When this shit happens, I usually just say, well, that’s not my feminism. But that’s easy for me to do, because feminism is all about young, white, cis, het, college women. Feminism is a pretty safe space for me. I get angry when things like this happen, and disgusted, and ashamed; but that’s it. I’m not threatened by it. I’m not marginalized. I’m just pissed.

This—this, right here—is why feminism has such a piss-power track record when it comes to racial issues.

So, dear Slutwalk organizers whose first response to get all defensive and whatnot, y’all need to sit the fuck down and think for a minute. Ok, so maybe you personally didn’t see the sign. Fine. It was a big crowd, you can’t see everything. But now that you’ve seen it, condemn it. Don’t bring up John Lennon. (Really, don’t. Every time I read the name John Lennon, Imagine starts playing in my head and I hate that song.) Don’t try to invoke the power of Yoko. Don’t take the criticisms personally. Don’t think about yourself at all, because it’s not about you.

And don’t, for fuck’s sake, try to argue that the N-word is only offensive in certain contexts. If you aren’t black, you can’t use it. Ok? That’s the rule. Your whole protest is about reclaiming the word “slut”; would you be ok with a bunch of men saying “uhhhh, you guys are using it, which means we can use it too, in whatever context we want”? Of course not. Logic, people. (And let’s be honest here—slut does not have nearly the sordid history that the N-word does.)

Oh, Slutwalk. You had a chance to make…not good, exactly, but better. You could have made better. And you chose to be racist, privilege-denying douchecanoes instead. If you don’t get your act together, I’m gonna have to let you go.

All I’ve Got Right Now

I don’t have anything new or insightful to say anything about the fucking heinous miscarriage of justice that happened yesterday. I signed the petitions and tracked the updates obsessively, briefly hoped that he might be saved, and felt no surprise when he wasn’t. I’m disgusted and speechless and I have no words.

All I have to say is this: I am not Troy Davis, and if you’re not a person of color, then neither are you. And if you’re not Troy Davis, but are wearing the t-shirt, or updating your Facebook status to say that you are, or WTFever–shut up. I understand that you want to show your support. Support is good. But white people are not Troy Davis; that’s the whole fucking point. And when you say “I am Troy Davis,” you are turning the focus away from Troy Davis, from people who are discriminated against every single day; you are turning the focus back to you.

I don’t feel eloquent today. I just feel angry.

So here are some links:

The Innocence Project

Students Against the Death Penalty

10 Things Anyone Can Do to Help Exonerate Innocent People and Prevent Wrongful Convictions

Amnesty International’s Not In My Name Pledge

“Few are guilty, but all are responsible”

“The struggle for justice doesn’t end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all those who will come after me.” — Troy Davis

On Making Good Choices

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Hey. Poor people. You need to listen the fuck up.

Ok now:

Y’all need to make better choices.

I mean really, what were you thinking, getting sick? And on a work day, too. If you really need to get sick, do it on your day off—after all, what else are you going to do? It’s not like you have a life outside work, and if you do, you shouldn’t. Poor people are supposed to work, and work, and then sleep maybe three hours a night, and do it all over again the next day. That’s poverty. In fact, if you have days off, you don’t count as poor, which means you just shouldn’t get sick at all. And no, constant work and sleep deprivation are not hard on your immune system; you just need some Emergen-C.

So, ok, don’t get sick. Getting sick fucks things up, because then, if you have to call into work, they sometimes require you to bring a doctor’s note, and if you don’t have health insurance you have to shell out extra money for a doctor’s visit, and you miss a day of work, so you end up paying out the ass to sit around feeling miserable, and why would anyone do that? God, what a stupid choice you just made.

You also need to manage your money better. You make minimum wage, right? That’s 7.25 an hour, and you work 35 hours a week (because if it’s under 40 your employer doesn’t have to offer benefits), so before taxes you make, what? 253.75 a week, which comes to 1015 a month. Now let’s knock off some money for taxes, ok? It varies by state, so we’ll pick something that sounds reasonable—let’s say you actually make 950 a month.

This is totally enough money to live comfortably.

Let’s say you’re a single person living cheap. Your apartment is 400 a month, and your utilities come to about 60, and your phone is about 100 (you with your fancy smartphone that you totally don’t need to communicate), and your internet is 60 (why do you have that, anyway? Yeah, you’re a college student, but since when do students need internet access?), and you have several bills you’re paying off with excruciating slowness—they total about 80 a month—so all that comes to…700. Ok, well, you still need food, right? Let’s budget about 35 a week, which makes 140 a month, which leaves you 60 a month to spend on everything else.

Good thing you don’t have a car, right? Gas, repairs, all that shit—not having a car is a wise choice, one of the few wise choices you’ve made. Of course, you should also be able to travel everywhere people with cars travel, at the same speed, and no, you don’t get to bitch about how hard it is on your stupid poor-person body, because you chose to be car-less. Maybe you should’ve made better choices, right? Seriously, do I have to explain everything to you people?

So you have sixty dollars. That’s enough, provided you don’t get sick, or have to buy books for classes (if you’re a student), or need to buy a bottle of wine to bring to a dinner party, or have any unexpected expenses, or basically live at all.

Oh wait. 950 a month comes to 11400 a year, which is above the poverty line. You’re not even technically a poor person, and you still can’t figure out how to manage your damn money. God, you suck.

What’s that? Uh, no, the government does not have a fucked-up idea of what counts as poverty, you’re just a really very dumb not-poor person.

And what is up with you needing things? You don’t need things. Rich people need things. Middle-class people also need things (sometimes), but you? You need a better work ethic and the ability to balance a checkbook.

Uh. You don’t…have a bank account? I cannot conceive of a single reason why a person with no money would not have a bank account. What a stupid choice.

Also—and I know this is kinda rude, or at least it would be, if you were a real person and not just a waste of my tax dolalrs—but why are you so fat? As Sean Hannity once said, (The United States of) America is the only country where all the poor people are fat. And it doesn’t make a damn bit of sense, because as everyone knows, healthy food is cheap, filling, and delicious. Why spend five dollars on a meal at MacDonald’s when you could spend that money on a single container of unprepared wheat pasta from your local health food store?

No, you don’t need calorie-rich food, I don’t care if you’re working a double today. One slice of bread with peanut butter will totally get you through, and if it doesn’t, you’re clearly not cut out to be poor.

If you can’t hack it, go forth and be rich. This isn’t rocket surgery, guys.

Swooping Back In to Drop a Rant on Alla Y’all

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So I read this stupid article the other day. It was called “8 Reasons Young Americans Don’t Fight Back: How the US Crushed Youth Resistance,” and while it had some semi-decent points, it was mostly very “man, the establishment and stuff.” Education, college included, is making us all conform to…something; television allows us to live in a fantastical dream world in which actions come consequence-free (dude. watch some crime shows, ok?); and most predictably, we’re all being medicated into compliance!!!

Which, no. No, no, no, no, no.

Setting aside how steeped in privilege this entire article is (how cute that the author has apparently never had to imagine the social and economic ramifications of not finishing high school), it’s also dumb in that very special fauxgressive, elitist, cis-het-male-able-bodied-middle-class-Caucasian kind of way. And it gave me an annoyed.

(Oh, and this is kinda off-topic, but just as a side note—what is it with the hand-wringing, pearl-clutching older generations who apparently cannot fathom the possibility that people who grew up with television and other technology would, in fact, be able to differentiate between TV, video games, and Real Life™? Violence, racism, misogyny, ablism, homophobia, transphobia—their presence in the media is a problem because it’s indicative of actual attitudes held by actual people, because their popularity suggests that bigotry is rampant, and because their prevalence reassures bigots that it’s all cool, don’t bother rethinking your bullshit. But the media is not dragging people into a Big Crazy Dream Land. People create entertainment, and then the media reinforces their bigotry. It works cyclically. The No-Good Terrible Very-Bad Media is not some kind of mysterious entity swooping down to corrupt us all.

Plz to not anthropomorphize the media kthanxbai.)

Anyway, here’s what I don’t get about the Meds Are Making Us Conform bullshit: well, everything, but my biggest problem with it is that, if you really want people to be malleable and ineffectual, you keep them sick. Right? I mean, before we had meds, we had…what? Institutions, and before that, nothing. Sick people just stayed sick, or got sicker, and eventually died.

If you deny treatment to someone with a physical ailment, whether they ignore the sickness or go into debt trying to buy treatment themselves, you have weakened them and taken some of their power. Is it really such a stretch to apply this to mental illness?

Oh wait. Yes it is. Because people get weird about mental illness.

If I had any doubt about the general public’s apparent inability to treat mental illness as a real thing that actually happens and is the fault of brain chemistry, not the person suffering from the illness, those doubts were put to rest the day Amy Winehouse’s death was first reported. Because here’s someone who stated publicly that she suffered from bipolar disorder, who became addicted to multiple substances, who wrote music about her addictions—and yet, after she died, I heard tons of people essentially saying “oh well, dead junkie is dead.”

Because yeah, that’s fair. Because this is totally the first time someone with bipolar disorder has ever developed a compensatory substance abuse problem, and clearly, it was entirely her fault.

I mean really. Obviously, I didn’t know Amy Winehouse, and I don’t know what her life was like, and I’m not going to pretend I had some deep personal investment in her well-being. That would be kind of creepy. And I don’t have bipolar disorder, so I can’t personally testify to how it feels. I do know plenty of people with BPD, one of whom is an immediate family member, so I’m fairly close to it, but no, I haven’t really been there.

And yet, I know better than to blame people for not winning the neuro-lottery. Crazy, right? (That’s not to say I won the neuro-lottery myself; I haven’t really. But I didn’t fare too badly, and I have plenty of other privilege that helps compensate for the problems caused by the issues I do have.)

People love to trot out Personal Responsibility as an excuse to ignore mental illness—because like, duh, you gottta take responsibility for your problems and stuff! It’s not even that I disagree; I think that sympathy, taken too far, can become coddling, which is enabling (and one of the reasons I prefer empathy to sympathy, but that’s a whole other post). I think it’s easy to slip into the role of an enabler, and I dislike arguments which assume that the mentally ill can never have any power or agency.

But.

First, there are people whose illnesses really are so severe that they literally cannot be held accountable for their actions. They don’t comprise the majority of the mentally ill, but they are there. The degree of their illness might be temporary, or it could be permanent, but they shouldn’t be ignored.

And second, I’m not going to jump on the Personal Responsibility bandwagon until our cultural attitudes toward mental illnesses change. I’m not going to criticize people for not seeking help when the likelihood that they will be shamed for it is so strong. Actually, I probably wouldn’t criticize them anyway, but you know.

Not to be one of those obnoxious self-referential bloggers who makes everything relate back to Me and My Issues, but I’ve dealing with this problem right now—because while I am finally, after years of being really fucking miserable, coming to recognize the depths of my issues with food, I cannot pick up the phone and schedule an appointment with a counselor. Part of the problem is that I’m tired, and used to feeling shitty, and terrified of gaining weight. But another part of it is the fear that I’m not sick enough, that I’m exaggerating, that I just need to go eat a waffle and go biking in the sunshine and listen to the birds chirp. (Or whatever.) Part of it is the fear that I’m just privileged and self-obsessed, and that the counselor is going to shrug and say, meh. You’re fine. You don’t look like someone with an ED. And part of it is simply not wanting to put up with the bullshit that comes when people discover you have a problem.

Which, whatever, I’ll be fine. But this just reinforces my anger when it comes to popular attitudes in re: mental illness, because really, what the fuck? I mean, I understand that there’s magical thinking at work here: the stubborn belief that people with diagnosed mental disorders are weak, that the contemptuous magical asshat in question isn’t weak, and therefore, that zie is immune from mental illness. Ok, fine, I get it. But it’s stupid and damaging.

And it enrages me (enrages, I say) when people who ostensibly support universal health care either make exclusions for mental illness, or pretend it’s a non-issue. No, it’s not. It’s really not. And sorry, but you don’t have the right to determine what kind of illnesses deserve treatment. You also don’t get to decide who deserves treatment, or for how long, or to what degree. You just don’t.

I wish I could write more on that subject, but now I’m pissy.

All I’m really asking, I guess, is that mental illness be treated as something real, as something harmful, and not as a sign of non-comformity and exciting independence. I also want this to be a genderless issue, but of course it isn’t. I remember when Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty were both gaining notoriety in the States, and the ways they were discussed were, ah, radically different. Amy Winehouse?—worthless junkie, terrible person, and people kept making fun of her beehive and beat-up ballet flats. But Pete Doherty? He was a misunderstood genius with a boyish face, which could be totally cute if he just got off the heroin and started bathing again.

Basically, I want a world that encourages anyone suffering from mental illness to seek help, regardless of who they are, how affable they seem, how sympathetic their suffering is. I want treatment to be free, for as long as it’s needed. I want everyone to realize that no, medication isn’t Destroying Young Minds; when used appropriately, it empowers people who suffer from problems they never asked for.

I also want this post to be more coherent, but I have too many thoughts and not enough focus. Heh.

For Norway

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I don’t know what to say to things like this. I remember watching the coverage of the Oklahoma city bombing as a child, and how senseless and awful it all was. This is senseless and awful. This is all of the things I hate and fear the most, and wish would never have to happen again. This is why feminism and socialism must persist– if we were not slowly and steadily changing things for the better, anti-feminists and fascists would not be so disturbed by the progress being made.

Even writing that seems hard, and wrong, as if maybe capitulating, shutting up, sitting down, giving up, would be acceptable if they could promise that no one else would die. But then I know that it’s never enough. There is not enough surrender to make people like that stop wanting to hurt anyone who is not like them. They may even believe that there is some theoretical point of absolute debasement that would satisfy them, but history and the unnamed victims of patriarchy and colonization, of unchecked capitalism and imperialism are always there to remind us that there is no satisfaction for men like Anders Behring Breivik, because what they are afraid of, what they hate, is in themselves.

So I know that there is no salvation from this kind of violence in surrender to it.

What I don’t know is how to balance the demands of a civil society, with tolerance and openness and fairness and democracy, against the need to isolate and excoriate these kinds of ideas, which follow a predictable path to terrible violence again and again.

At what point do we start making note of the correlative relationship between misogyny and violence, between misogyny and authoritarianism, between authoritarianism and inequality– at what point do we decide to teach children about these things, to use our social power to shame these ideas into silence, because they are bad ideas, and they corrupt the people who hold them.

How many times? How much time?

It is no great shock to me that a person so severely misogynist, so seriously racist, would target children. I believe that the otherness and weakness people like that see in themselves is projected onto whoever is “othered” by society, but enacted against whoever is most vulnerable. It’s the same logic that causes people to agitate for an end to legal abortion, and an end to social programs benefiting children.

In the end, I believe that the need for a civil society to freely allow a plurality of ideas, even bad ideas, necessitates that the state does not interfere in the expression of such ideas. But society must. Individuals must. This was not a lone gunman, this was a person acting on common rhetoric, acting from within a community. This kind of rhetoric must be socially unacceptable.

We have to topple the structures that enable this kind of thinking from below and laterally, rather than from above. That means more empathy, more compassion, more outreach and care.

That means that people suffering from fear and depression, need resources and widespread community care.

The answer to hatred and violence, is compassion, kindness and solidarity, but never, ever, surrender.

 

 

 

In Re: The Blogosphere Lately

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A Brief List of Shit You Should Not Do:

The Atheist Elevator Debacle

Dictate another person’s boundaries

Decide that you are entitled to their time and/or attention

Approach them in an enclosed space with no other people present, acknowledge that you’re being inappropriate, but boldly soldier on

Insist that women are responsible for magically intuiting the desires of sad, socially inept men

Suggest that men are literally incapable of following accepted social guidelines, then accuse feminists of being “misandrist”

Turn someone’s story of a creepy come-on into the most contrived controversy ever

The Hugo Schwyzer Paternity Kerfluffle

Compare “paternity fraud” (really, guys?) to rape

Decide that a brief run-down of what is no doubt a very complicated story gives you enough information to make sweeping judgments about everyone involved

Shriek about “poor Ted” and “horrible Jill,”apparently oblivious to the inconsistency in who you’re willing to give the benefit of the doubt/assume the absolute best intentions

Leave a wall of text, using information lifted from Wikipedia, that accuses the author of being a psychopath. That’s just stupid

Say that you would stop loving your kid if you found out he wasn’t biologically yours. Not only does that make you a terrible person, it’s a lie—because if that’s all it would take to make you stop loving your son, you never really loved him to begin with

Get so hung up on the details of the story that you completely miss the overarching point of the article. (For the record, I was pretty squicked out by the story, but in the end I agree with Schwyzer—DNA doesn’t make a parent)

Mac McLelland’s Horrible Article to Which I Will Not Link

Grossly mischaracterize PTSD (Protip: You don’t get a diagnosis so soon after the traumatic event—like all mental disorders, you have to demonstrate an established pattern of behavior. Also, if she really had PTSD, “rough sex” would not have been a cure.)

Falsely equivocate bystander trauma with first-hand trauma

Make someone else’s rape about you

Turn a horrible story of a Haitian woman’s rape into a tale of Privileged White Lady Pain

Be so lazy in your use of language that your writing blurs the very-super-obvious line between sex and rape

Criticize her article on the grounds that she’s OMG SO TOTALLY SLUTTY instead of “wow, what a terrible narcissistic asshole”

This and This

Freely admit to being a stat rapist (2:14 in the video), revealing how utterly unconcerned you are with the potential legal repercussions, then deny that we live in a rape culture. (Yes, that person probably wouldn’t give you his real name, but his IP could be traced)

Be one of those horrible people. I can’t even.