Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Kavanaugh Circus All Boils Down to One Word: Entitlement

So here's a little thought experiment. 

Pretend you were born rich, white, and Christian in post-war America. You attended the best private schools and Ivy League institutions in the country, worked at a series of progressively prestigious jobs, and now you have the chance to reach the absolute pinnacle of your trajectory. 

You've planned for this your whole life. Everything you've done has led to this moment. You're about to interview for a lifetime appointment to one of the nine most important jobs in American civic life. 

The reason this job is so important is because it has the power to affect a lot of people's lives, and whether you want to admit it to yourself or not, if it's one thing you have and don't want to let go of, it's power. ESPECIALLY power to affect other people's lives. The job also commands respect among the people whose opinions you care about, and you also deserve respect. You know the interview is gonna be grueling, but you're a shoo-in for the gig. 

But then something happens. 

Some bitch you don't even remember surfaces from the great beyond to tell on you for the usual stuff you did with girls that you don't even remember. (You were also entitled to her body). And yeah you know they dig for skeletons, but you've basically been a Boy Scout and fuck if you're gonna let some drunken antics from 35 years ago ruin everything you've worked so hard for.

You deserve this job. You're ENTITLED to this job. And so you're relieved when your prospective employer--which in theory is the American people but in practice is a bunch of spineless hacks--says they're gonna put your accuser on trial. 

Because of course! That's normal for a job interview, right? When an allegation of sexual assault surfaces, doesn't EVERY employer put the accuser under oath instead of saying "Thanks for your time, we're going in a different direction?"

In your world, they do. In your world, you're ENTITLED to a seat on the Supreme Court. That's the only possible explanation for assuming that you still deserve this job, and that the women of America should have to beg two lone female Senators to protect their medical safety and--for the SECOND time--demand that a Supreme Court Justice be held accountable for the actions of his own dick.

That's the world you live in. Must be nice.




Sunday, September 16, 2018

Nothing Will Ever Come of This, Because No One With Any Power Gives a Shit

Reality check: the best predictor of the future is history, and if it's one thing history teaches us, it's that women's bodies don't matter.

Maybe it's a bit cynical to say this out loud, but I also think it's realistic: the sexual assault allegation against a 17 year-old Brett Kavanaugh won't matter one iota to his Supreme Court prospects. Of course, there are 6,878 reasons not to confirm this guy to a lifetime appointment on the United States Supreme Court. But people who think this is one of them are deluding themselves.

Per the Washington Post:
Kavanaugh pinned [Christine Blasey Ford] to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth. “I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
YAWN! HUGE IF TRUE?! Not so much. First of all, it's probably NOT true. Okay, wai wai wait . . . it probably IS true, because this isn't even deviant. THIS. IS. NORMALIZED. BEHAVIOR. IN. OUR. SOCIETY.

Wake up.

Every single woman has experienced something along this spectrum. We have come to accept it as normal. We've taught boys to do it and girls to take it. Forget about rape and sexual assault and more obvious forms of wrongdoing to women's bodies. I don't think there is a woman alive who has not felt pressured and coerced or BEEN pressured and coerced into sex, and guess what?

NO ONE CARES. Certainly not anyone who can do anything about this.

Men by and large don't care, and most women don't either. In fact, most women shun other women for suggesting that maybe this shit is not okay, because accepting it’s not forces them to take a hard look at their own experiences. 

You'll see it all over the internet: are we really going to smear a man's whole career (aka not give him a lifetime appointment to a nine person court that decides everyone’s lives) and dare to stand in the way of his blind ambition for ALLEGEDLY groping a girl and making her fear for her life when he was a drunk teen?

BIG FUCKING DEAL!

That's right, folks. Only we as a collective society can decide what a "big deal" is, and we have decided that women's bodies are No Big Deal.™ To the extent they matter at all, they matter only to be legislated and controlled. It's no small irony, then, that Kavanaugh is the justice most likely to at long last inflict the thousandth cut on Roe v. Wade that will herald the return of wire-hanger abortions in America.

Don't forget: the same power structure that confirmed Clarence Thomas over Anita Hill's testimony and that gives confessed sexual assailants their careers back after a little time-out in the dunce corner is the very same power structure that elevated Kavanaugh and assembled every Supreme Court before and since.

So if you're waiting on this to matter, I'm sorry to say you'll likely be waiting forever.





Saturday, September 15, 2018

Being a Mom is SO FUCKING STRESSFUL Y’ALL!

Every once in awhile I just need to process this fact. Like from the first fucking SECOND it’s 24/7 anxiety and questions and insomnia. This has seriously been me EVERY SINGLE DAY since 2007:

What if I have a miscarriage?
What if the genetic testing is positive for something scary?
What if I go into pre-term labor?
What if they die of SIDS?
What if they contract meningitis?
What if they get an incurable disease?
What if they suffocate from anaphylactic shock?
What if they don’t make friends?
What if they get kidnapped?
What if they develop a mental illness?
What if we have a car accident?
What if she develops an eating disorder?
What if they can’t learn?
What if they play with guns?
What if the whole planet is uninhabitable?
What if Donald Trump blows us all up?
What if they drink and drive?
What if they get addicted to drugs?
What if they get bullied?
What if they ARE the bully?
What if they get molested?
What if he sexually assaults someone?
What if they shoplift?
What if they fail out of school?
What if they never graduate?
What if they go to prison?
What if they can’t get jobs?
What if they live with me forever?
What if we get into a feud and they never speak to me again?
What if I get fired and lose my health insurance?
What if they have a horrible breakup?
What if they hit their heads?
What if they get run over by a bus?
What if their bodies are already inevitably and irreversibly riddled with carcinogens?
What if they fall off their bikes and break a bunch of bones?
What if they bleed to death?
What if someone breaks their heart?
What if I disappoint them?
What if they disappoint me?
What if I’m missing out and not present enough?
What if I fail to make adequate memories?
What if I set a bad example?
What if they drown?
What if I outlive them?
What if I die while they’re still young?
What if they go to therapy just to talk about what a bad mom I was?

Like at least some of this will happen. I seriously CANNOT with the stress and vulnerability of parenthood. There is not enough Prozac in the WORLD for this. 

Why did I do this to myself?!




Thursday, September 13, 2018

Widespread Manic Panic Room: A Step by Step Guide to Dyeing Your Kids Hair

Step One: Don’t give two shits about your kids’ hair. Not caring if your kids cut all their hair off and dye their scalp hot pink or whatever is like a threshold prerequisite to this project. Personally, I couldn’t GAF what my kids do to their hair. I’m saving my battle-selection capital for drunk driving, helmet-wearing, firearm safety, and homework.

Step Two: Try to explain to your kids what Ricky’s in the Village was, and how it was the only store you could buy Manic Panic. And how in high school you’d tromp over to the Waverly in your thigh high purple Doc Martens with your dirt weed from Tompkins Square Park and bust out your wallet on a chain to shell out a few bucks for the midnight screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Realize they have zero idea what you’re talking about and they couldn’t GAF. Feel old AF again.

Step Three: Read the directions on the jar. Ignore them all. Go with what you feel.

Step Four: What you feel turns out to be using your bare hands, because a paint brush takes too long. Technically, you’re supposed to use a “tint brush,” whatever that is. Anyway what does this look like? A fucking salon? Sorry, the closest thing you have is a stray Crayola watercolors paintbrush and fuck if you’re gonna be here all night. Use your damn bare hands, come what may.

Step Five: Set them up on a stepstool and tell them that if they don’t sit very still and read quietly for thirty minutes the dye won’t work. Wrap the dyed parts of the hair in a bread bag.

Step Six: Help them rinse it out; flood your bathroom. Do a big reveal in the mirror. Enjoy hero status.









Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Inspiring! This Woman Brought a Tuna Salad Sandwich from Subway to a Brown Bag Lunch

In a controversial move that her co-workers are heralding as “brave” and “ballsy,” local accounting assistant Annie James, 32, has taken the bold step of bringing a six-inch tuna salad sandwich from Subway to a working brown bag lunch on Quick Books best practices.

Although arguably delicious, the smell emanating from this particular sandwich is indistinguishable from the crotch area of a pair of polyester bike shorts that have been sitting on the floor of your closet for a week.

“I just thought it was like, really fearless of her to bring wet tuna fish into an enclosed space with six other people like, sitting RIGHT there,” said Annie’s co-worker, Leslie Maldonado. “But you have to hand it to Annie. She’s on her own journey and living her truth. You gotta respect that.”

Not everyone agrees.

“I mean, who does that?” Erin Foust, one of the presenters at the brown-bag, asked rhetorically. “Like, everyone knows you ONLY bring turkey sandwiches or grilled chicken salads or coffee to brown bag lunches. No one wants to smell tuna while they’re trying to focus on a spreadsheet.”

Annie, however, remained undeterred and steadfast about the super gross sandwich.

“It’s not like I microwaved it,” she said, defending her unorthodox choice. “But even if I had, I need 8 grams of lean protein before noon or I flat-line, and nothing worth having comes easy.”


At press time, there was a poster hanging in Annie’s cubicle that read, “The devil whispered in my ear, ‘you’re not strong enough to withstand the storm. Today I whispered in the devil's ear, “Wanna bet? Smell my breath, bitch.'”




Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Are You Fucking Kidding Me With This?

Nope. The answer is no. Of course you’re not. No one is. 

This is actually the literal President of the United States doing a DOUBLE FIST PUMP at a 9/11 memorial today. Now having experienced 9/11 in real time a mere two blocks away from Ground Zero, I feel somewhat justified in saying once again—with renewed enthusiasm—that Donald Trump HAS to be an honest to God, bonafide sociopath.

Just think for a minute about what could possibly be going through the vacuous, orange Play-Doh skull of the same dude who, as the towers were falling, ACTUALLY BRAGGED ABOUT THE SUPERIOR HEIGHT OF HIS OWN SKYSCRAPERS. He also lied about donating to a 9/11 charity and took money from a 9/11 recovery program

He really did that. Go ahead, look it up. So it really shouldn’t surprise anyone that Trump is exhibiting a Hannibal Lecter-esque level of empathy here.

Let’s consider for a minute how anyone over the age of ten could make this gesture during a solemn moment like this, much less do it as the fucking PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES with the whole world watching. Short of whipping his tiny dick out and busting a nut in public, there is hardly anything less appropriate than the single (much less double) fist pump at an event commemorating the loss of some 3,000 lives on American soil.

There are only a few possible explanations for this, not all of them mutually exclusive, of course:

1. Trump is a bigger sociopath than Charles Manson.
2. Trump is demented.
3. Trump is a narcissist.
4. Trump is a sadistic ghoul.
5. Trump was raised by a colony of vultures.
6. Trump has the self-awareness of a paramecium.
7. Trump is a psychotic monster.
8. Trump has less empathy than a can of paint.

All of the above, I think. All of the above.




Sunday, September 9, 2018

Interview With the Stranded Steller Sea Lion in Sitka




O.H.M.: So, thanks so much for taking the time to meet with me. I know you've been busy getting re-acclimated to your marine habitat. It sure is cold out in this skiff. Can you scooch up a little closer? That's great. Thanks.

Stranded Steller Sea Lion (SSSL): *Puts nose on bow of skiff*: No problem, I'm just grabbing a few crustaceans off the seabed here before I get back to the rookery. I'll try not to get lost on my way there! *coyly covers face with flipper.*

O.H.M.: OMG have you tried their raspberry kombucha? Travis, the owner, swears by it. I just had some last week and was all like I'm not sure about this stuff, it tastes like it's alive and it's kinda funky but may--

SSSL: No, no no. Not the Rookery coffee shop in Juneau. I mean, my LITERAL rookery near Sitka where I breed and bark loudly at other males to defend my territory! 

O.H.M.: Ohhhhhh! DUUUUH. I'm so dumb. Haha, that was awkward. Alright, let's get to the real reason for this interview: What the hell happened out there last week? How did you end up on a four-day impromptu land tour of Sitka?

SSSL: It's pretty embarrassing, actually. I'd just downloaded Swayze™ onto my flipper, and it must've had a glitch, or maybe I plugged in the wrong coordinates because I thought I was headed to a buoy to molt, and all of a sudden, BAM! I'm in front of a goddamned hospital on Japonski Island! (excuse my French).

O.H.M.: No problem. I'm used to it. What made you decide to stick around shore for four whole days?

SSSL: It wasn't exactly my choice. I mean, I didn't know where the hell I was. One minute I'm dodging kelp with my offspring like it's any given foraging excursion, and next thing I know I'm getting sprayed down by a fire hose wielded by the Sitka Fire Department. So I was like, fuck it. I can't see the ocean, might as well lumber into the woods and see if I can't find myself a snack.

O.H.M.: Were you scared?

SSSL: Well, look. I'm an 8 year-old male, and although I'm just reaching polygynous sexual maturity, I already weigh between 1,500 and 1,700 pounds. This isn't my first rodeo. But by all rights I should've died out there, cuz evolution. On the other hand, I probably wouldn't have gotten lost at all if it hadn't have been for your old Barbie Doll heads and plastic Coors Light six-pack rings shitting up my habitat. You're damn right I was scared!

O.H.M.: I realize it was kind of an ordeal, but what was a highlight of your unplanned detour to terra firma?

SSSL: Probably all the scientists and locals who kept oohing and ahhing and snapping pics. I forgot to get their contact info--I was too busy trying to figure out WTF was even happening. But I'm hoping some of them tag me on Insta. Maximum views on social is really gonna up my cred for mating season. I'm ready to own like, 5 bitches right now.

O.H.M.: Totes. Do you remember being tranquilized?

SSSL: To be honest with you, I don't remember much after the woods. I think I heard someone say something about "Airport Road" and "front-loader" and Eumetopias jubatus. Next thing I knew, I felt a sharp pain in my ass and passed out. When I woke up I could smell salt water and was like YAASSS KWEEEN and just dove right back in and started fishing again.

O.H.M.: Which brings us to today. What are your plans post-fame?

SSSL: I'm trying not to let it get to my head. I mean, it's not exactly something to be proud of, losing the ocean. Like who does that?! Still, I'm trying to practice self-care and forgiveness, and at this point I'm just grateful to everyone who helped get me home. The kindness my fellow mammals showed to me this past week has really got me in my seals. I mean feels.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Embezzlement is Kind of a Friendship Dealbreaker

So I was at a party recently, chatting with someone whose business was embezzled by a friend and employee a few years ago. After she got out of jail, this person explained, the embezzler wanted to be friends again.

Friends ... Huh.

Now, maybe it’s because I’m not sufficiently bountiful in spirit, but personally I think embezzlement is kiiiiiind of a dealbreaker friendship-wise. Like if you’re going to embezzle from a friend, you should prolly assume that if you get caught, the friendship is over. 

I mean, embezzlement is pretty high-level friendship misconduct, my dudes. No?  It’s right up there with marital affairs, except it’s actually illegal.

I don’t typically have feuds or “break-up” with friends. Sure I’ve drifted apart from friends over the years, but always due to outside circumstances, and I always feel fondly toward them, even if they aren’t in my daily life anymore. I’m also not a particularly high-maintenance friend. I don’t get super worked up over the “always late friend” or the “constant drama friend” or the “risk-taker friend” or even the “crisis friend.” I’m pretty good with all of this.

But I draw the line at embezzlement. 

I’m not saying you shouldn’t forgive someone for their mistakes, but I don’t think that means your friendship should be presumptively on offer to the person who skimmed thousands of dollars off the top to go on a shopping spree at Target. In fact, I think the presumption should be that you ceded your friendship to a set of sequined pillows and a floor lamp.

My verdict is in: Embezzlement is a pretty generous friendship boundary.




Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Why Anonymous Content is Bullshit

Two years ago, someone tried to get me fired for my blog. It was one of the scariest and darkest moments of my career.

Although she didn't ultimately succeed, at the time I really thought she might. She wrote and persistently called the newspaper, her legislators, and my employer. I got a lawyer. It lasted months. 

Throughout the entire difficult and humiliating ordeal, there was one thing I could be proud of: I stood behind every word I’d ever written, with my name attached to it. I own my writing, whether I'm dashing off a blog post or signing a pleading in court.

This complainant's screeds to Anyone Who Would Listen™ included a smug “revelation” of my identity, as if I'd ever tried to hide who I was for even one second, and she was a gumshoe detective who was unmasking me, Scooby Doo-style, to the world.

My professional life and my life as a blogger are two separate and distinct parts of my existence, with the former, fortunately, protected by the First Amendment. It wouldn't take anyone with a WiFi connection more than two clicks to "figure out" who I am. My blog was never a secret to anyone. My identity has never been a secret.

And that's because anonymous writing (in my opinion) is a coward's endeavor. And if it's one thing I'm not, it's a coward. As a general rule, I do not believe in anonymous writing. Not on the internet, not in comment threads, and not in newspapers. If you have something that's important enough to say, and demand another person’s time and attention to read, you should have the courage to own it.

I thought about this again when reading today's anonymous op-ed in the New York Times from a "senior Trump administration official" assuring the country that there are "adults" embedded in the administration, working to save America from Trump's worst impulses. 

The Times defended the "rare” and (not coincidentally) click-baiting “step" of publishing anonymous content:
[A]t the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure. We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers.
Uh huh.

Predictably, ten zillion hot takes followed. Anonymity was good, because otherwise we’d be focusing on the author and not the content, and this person would be fired and no longer able to nobly “protect us" from Trump. Also: EVER HEAR 
OF THE FEDERALIST PAPERS?! GOTCHA!

Put aside the fact that it's un-democratic and alarming that the nation's top elected official is apparently being controlled by unelected appointees. That's called a coup. And simply "waiting out" Trump's presidency while the "grownups in the room" save us all is a failing that everyone now serving in Congress must live with--forever--as an abdication of their office and its own act of profound cowardice.

The more cynical (and to my mind, accurate) view of the Times op-ed is that its author is protecting themselves. Their career, their reputation, their party, and their future. They want their cake and they want to eat it too. They want plausible deniability when this national nightmare ends and the inevitable reckoning comes. They want to pull a self-satisfied “I told you so" someday, without having to accept or acknowledge their complicity in what’s happened and continues to happen on their watch. 

It’s an insurance policy, taken out on the public and administered by a major newspaper. Nothing more. That's called cowardice and lack of character. 

And I'm sorry, but it's bullshit.




Please, Anything But a Quote Unquote Idea Person

Seriously. I’ve worked in kitchens and offices, served on boards, and volunteered in all sorts of employment settings since I was 17 years old, and no one—NO ONE—sends up red flags like the Idea Person™ .

At the risk of over-generalizing, the Idea Person™ is more often the Idea Man
™ , the Idea Guy™, or worse, the Big Picture Guy.™ He (and far less often, she) sometimes goes by Forty Foot View Guy™ or Not a Details Man.™ You very rarely see Big Picture Woman™ or Idea Woman™, although she is not unheard of. You certainly don’t see Idea Gender Non-Binary Person™ because THAT person has generally had to work pretty hard just to get the people around them to call them by the correct pronoun.

But I digress. Whatever you want to call them, Idea Person™ is someone you can ALWAYS count on for one thing: not working.

Idea Person™ likes to think of themselves as a visionary—someone with brilliant strategies and, well, “ideas.” Ideas that sound original but aren’t, and that they want other people to execute because they can’t be bothered with stuff like reading, shelf-stocking, inventory-taking, researching, studying, communicating, or generally rolling up their sleeves and actually working.

Idea Person™ likes to breeze into a room with their so-called “ideas.” Their speech is often peppered with clich├ęd claptrap jargon or sports and military idioms like “carry the ball into the end zone” or “message this from the stakeholders’ perspective” or “see the forest for the trees.” 


Especially that one, because Idea Man™ is usually a dude who thinks of himself in the mold of Steve Jobs. A grand thinker who isn’t bogged down in the “woods” or the "trees," but is just soaring over the “forest” like a vampire from the Twilight series: often quite pale, ageless in wisdom, supernatural in power, and consumed with unnamed Important Things™ which, when subjected to even the most superficial scrutiny, turn out to be bullshit that prevents him from being “bogged down in the weeds," aka "working."

The weeds, though, is where the work is, and it’s the one place you will never find Big Picture Guy™. Big Picture Guy™ is never “in the weeds.” He’s not even really in the “forest.” He’s in the clouds, thinking about whatever he wants to think about, day-dreaming up Big Picture Idea™ hay for other people to spin into reality gold like Rumple fucking Stiltskin.

You know you’re dealing with Idea Man™ when he starts a conversation with “someone should really think about doing [BLANK]." And my first question, naturally, is “interesting, great idea, but who is that someone?” Hint: it is never, ever, EVER Idea Man.™

Good old Idea Person.™ More aptly known as Allergic to Work Man.™




™™

Monday, September 3, 2018

De-Platforming Hate Speech is Not a Slippery Slope

In an article published in the Atlantic last year entitled "What Europe Can Teach America About Free Speech,” University of Virginia law professor Mila Versteeg, a descendent of both Nazis and Nazi resisters, makes an interesting case about free speech. 

She posits that Europe's post-World War II human rights framework is, in some ways, a more reliable inoculation against fascism and ethno-nationalism than the American model, because its prohibitions on hate speech don't rely on the "free marketplace of ideas" to root out those scourges. 

The rise of Nazism in Europe gave the lie to the idea that an unregulated marketplace of ideas--which is largely what America has today, with certain benefits--was a sufficient insurance policy against ethnic cleansing and genocide.

"In an unregulated marketplace of ideas," Versteeg writes, "private citizens need to take up the burden of holding the line against racist extremism."

That's where de-platforming comes in.

The thing about the First Amendment, which not everyone fully understands or appreciates, is that only government actors need to comply with it, because the Founding Fathers knew that it is our own government that has the ultimate power to oppress us. So for better or worse, here in America, it's up to private citizens to step in where the government won't or can’t; to decide that certain ideas are so toxic, so dangerous, and so detrimental to society that they simply should not be given a massive platform.

It's not a "slippery slope" problem. There is zero evidence that snuffing out white supremacy through de-platforming is going to herald the end of Free Speech as We Know It.™ There is, however, evidence that de-platforming is an effective tool against hate speech and ethno-nationalism.

And we’re fortunate enough in this country not to have learned this lesson the hard way. 

Yet.

When powerful private media actors like the New Yorker, Twitter, and Facebook hand Alex Jones, Steve Bannon, and Milo Yiannopoulos a megaphone, they endorse the "both sides" canard that every crackpot bigot deserves an enormous private platform to espouse hate, and that people's lives and safety are a reasonable price to pay for engagement and clicks.

It's up to us as private citizens to push back and say they're not.