Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Pope’s Secret Meeting with Kim Davis: In Limerick

Well that's just a big bag of NOPE!
A man of his station
Has used his vacation
To meet with a bigoted dope?

The Vatican said that it’s true
Kim Davis has managed to do
What world leaders could not
What a pile of rot
That reflects something rather askew.

She says she was told to “stay strong”
But with all due respect this is wrong.
She works for the state
And she cannot conflate
Her job with the church there for long.

See it’s unfair to citizens here
Who are having their rights commandeered
By a total wing nut
Going off of her gut
From a secular outpost, I fear.

The Pope is quite wrong about rights.
This isn’t Kim Davis’s fight.
Same sex folks can wed
It need not be said
That Kim Davis is not God’s white knight.

“Conscientious objection” is fine
But the founders have drawn a firm line:
If you’re working for God
Fine, give Him a nod
But not on the government’s dime.

“I Kinda Get the Feeling Like I’m Being Used”

It’s impossible to count the number of times this song lyric from Third Eye Blind’s “Losing a Whole Year” has popped into my head. It’s not even a good song (or a good band). Yet it's been in my head for two decades, bouncing in and out intermittently in the context of various friendships and relationships.

First, though, a brief detour to the topic of “scenes.”  Scenes. I mention them only to condemn them. Well, maybe that’s a bit reductive.

I was talking recently with a friend who was extolling to me the virtues of yoga. Virtues that I’ve found elusive, as documented here. In the course of that conversation, I realized that the thing I don’t like about yoga is that it feels like a “scene” to me. Every time I’ve ever taken a yoga class anywhere, I can’t stop thinking about, silently judging, and comparing myself to the people around me. Notice I say “feels like a scene.” I don’t think it is a scene. It just feels like one to me, because I think I’m what you’d call “scene sensitive.”

Lots of things feel like “scenes” to me, and not in a good way. Organized religion. Skiing. Music festivals. Road relays. Hipster bars and coffee shops. I have a really hard time getting into my own “head space” where I can simply enjoy the activity at the center of these scenes for whatever it is. I can’t turn my neurotic brain off long enough to do that. I can’t stop looking around me and asking myself why everyone is dressed alike, why everyone is trying to one-up each other, why I’m so sensitive to this white noise background hum of group dynamics. I question whether it’s real, or just in my head.

Which brings me back to the Third Eye Blind song.

My aversion to scenes means I end up spending lots of time in one-on-one interactions, cultivating intimate friendships and relationships and having meaningful connections with individuals, not groups. At times, these connections have felt kind of toxic to me. Specifically, when someone pops into my life for a period of time, ducks out, and then re-emerges when they’re lonely or in a crisis. Then once the crisis or the loneliness is resolved, it’s lights out again for the duration. 

This is a definite pattern for me. One where I kinda get the feeling like I’m being used.

Am I actually being used though? And does it even matter? Maybe I’m just a hypocrite, using people for my own reasons and trying to deflect that reality outward on another person. Whether we’re in a scene or all alone, maybe we’re all just using each other a little bit, at least on some level. And maybe that’s just human nature.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Some Practical Relationship Advice

One summer during my late teens/early twenties, I had a very brief romance with a boy I’d known since childhood. It was doomed from the start, though not for all the typical reasons you might suspect. 

Oh all of those reasons were there, of course. I liked him a lot, which in my life always equated to an emotional power imbalance wherein I somehow ended up on the low end of the seesaw. He was also extremely smart and analytical, so ditto the previous explanation, with the ultimate outcome that this person would find a way to make me very sad. Or more accurately, that I would find a way to make myself very sad in the wake of his inevitable rejection of me. So all of that was there, and predictably came to pass in a matter of weeks.

But there was an additional problem.

His father was a beloved physician, and I’d been to see him as a patient for some serious stomach issues many years earlier. I should have remembered this detail before I allowed my heart to open up on this one. Because when you think about it, if you’re dating a guy and his dad has an intimate knowledge of your rectal vault and tendencies toward constipation, it’s not exactly a good omen. Indeed I might go so far as to call it a pretty bad omen at worst, and awkward at best.

So. What can we learn from this?

Well, if I’m ever lucky enough to have a close relationship with my teenage daughter someday, I’ll give her the same advice I wish someone had given to me: Never fall for a guy whose dad is a doctor who knows exactly how constipated you are. That’s just an inauspicious start to any new relationship. You can ignore this advice, I’ll tell her. But do so at your peril, because you can count on this liaison being just one more milepost on the unpaved, pot-hole-riddled highway to becoming a bitter, cynical, emotionally-damaged old hag wholly incapable of true vulnerability and non-ambivalent intimacy.

Not that I would know anything about that.

If Juneau Was Taylor Swift, Mars Was a Cheerleader, and NASA Was the Guy They Were Fighting Over

You're on the phone with Mars
And she’s upset
She's going off about the water that she has
But she doesn't get your science like I do
I'm in AK
It's a typical rainy night
I'm pelting water on everything in sight
And Mars will never have the liquid that I do

But she has red rocks
I have green trees
She's a big planet
And I'm just a city
Dreaming 'bout the day when you wake up
And find that what you're looking for has been here the whole time

If you can see I'm the one who understands you
Been here all along so why can't you see
You belong with me
You belong with me

Walkin' the streets with you and your astronomy
I can't help thinking this is how it ought to be
Laughing in a huge puddle, thinking to myself
Hey isn't this easy?

And you've got the data that could win a Nobel Prize
I can’t really see it ‘cause there’s water in my eyes
You say you’re fine
I know you better than that
Hey what you doing with a rock like that?

She wears craters
I wear rain boots
She's made of iron and I'm covered in roots
Dreaming 'bout the day when you wake up
And find that what you're looking for has been here the whole time

If you can see that I'm the one who understands you
Been here all along so why can't you see
You belong with me

Standing by and waiting at your office
All this time how could you not know
Baby, you belong with me
Not just in D.C.

Oh, I remember you plotting my maps in the middle of the night
I'm the one who makes you laugh
When you know you're about to cry
And I know all your favorite grants
And you tell me about your funding
I think you know where you belong
I think you know it's with me

Can't you see that I'm the one who understands you
Been here all along so why can't you see
You belong with me

Standing by and waiting at your office
All this time
How could you not know
Baby you belong with me
Not just in D.C.

You belong with me
Have you ever thought just maybe
You belong with me
You belong with me

Who Cares About Water on Mars? There’s a SHITLOAD Right Here in Juneau!

The biggest news under the sun this week was NASA's announcement that it's found evidence of water on Mars.  A finding, b-t-dubs, that MENSA-member, hobby astronomer, and Jabba-the Hutt doppelganger/repellent humanoid Rush Limbaugh promptly and credibly debunked as a scientific conspiracy to “advance the leftist agenda” on climate change. To which anyone with 1.5 brain cells to rub together can only say: What the actual fuck.

On the off-chance that Rush’s Mars truthing is wrong, I think it’s a good time to point out to America (and indeed the rest of Planet Earth) that there is more water than one could ever hope to find in this galaxy or any other right here in Juneau, Alaska.

At this my precious lunch hour, I'm seeing a peek of sunlight for the first time in it's hard to even count how many days. It's literally been raining sideways for weeks, and the gullies along every single crack of mountain are bursting with rushing water. By this time of year, the response of most Juneauites when they see water falling from the sky is to shriek "H2NOOOOOO!" at the top of their lungs.

Half the earth is in drought, and the powers-that-be are looking to the heavens for a solution? Come come now. Juneau is like Taylor Swift in that song about her hot platonic dude friend who's dating a lame cheerleader, Mars is the cheerleader, and NASA is the hot dude who just doesn't realize that what he's been lookin' for has been here the whole tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime!

Put down your telescopes, NASA, and hop the next jet to Seattle. All the water you've ever imagined could possibly exist in the universe is right here in Southeast Alaska.

Planned Parenthood: A Limerick

There once were some men in D.C.
Elected by you and by me
Who had nary a care
For the health under where
Our lady parts happen to be.

Their mission is really quite plain:
Stop women from using their brains
To prevent STDs
And to plan families
For a stump speech in their next campaign.

Their motives are rather insidious
And their smug old man faces look hideous
Telling girls to drop dead
So that they get ahead
In a poll, hoping we stay oblivious.

They’re serving the public a portion
Of dangerous myths on abortion
And the truth is behind
All the lies they’ve designed
It defies logic out of proportion.

This tactic is old as the nation:
Congress acting like they’re the salvation
Of women worldwide
When the fact is they hide
In misogyny’s latest creation.

But women have had quite enough
It really should not be this tough
In 2015
To obtain a vaccine
So we don’t get preventable stuff.

It’s probably worthwhile to mention
That women are paying attention
And they’re not gonna stand
For a man with his hand
In their sexual health and prevention.

Congress should really take note
And beware all the smears they promote
Because women are pissed
And the chance won’t be missed
To fire them all with our vote.

Monday, September 28, 2015

I Found a New and Relaxing Way to Ignore My Family

Bonus: it's way less stigmatized than a smart phone or a drug habit, AND it only cost me $83 on Amazon.

What is it? Well I'm glad you asked!

If you must know, it's a set of 64 very fancy Gelly Roll pens and two "mindful head space" (or something) adult coloring books.

Adult coloring is a hobby I've been toying around with for awhile. Like long before it was validated by actual real life coloring books made for post-pubescent people. In other words, I was adult coloring before it was cool.

And as everyone in The First World knows, once someone makes a depreciable good that you can buy to fill a non-existent need--particularly a need recently deemed trendy--the existence of that need is instantly validated, and you must log onto Amazon.

So it is with adult coloring books and Gelly Roll pens.

I knew I needed a more acceptable way to get to that happy place. The place where I feel relatively immune to the chaos unfolding around me every evening when I get home from work. Something less cliche, brain-zapping, and allegedly traumatizing to my kids than dicking around on an iPhone; something less virtuous and effortful than exercise; and something less caloric than whiskey.

BEHOLD. The magic of adult coloring.

Why just this evening, a friend and uncle-figure to my kids was visiting and Geoff was cooking dinner. I had invited Paige to color with me, but she quickly lost interest. I then completely ignored my children acting like maniacs, wrestling and throwing balls inside and slamming doors and requiring stern verbal discipline from said uncle.

I think I heard something about a banana and something else about not putting your head underneath a stool.

That's all I remember, and I'm glad. Who wouldn't be?

Oh I See How It Is: A Letter from the Chukchi Sea to Royal Dutch Shell

Dear Royal Dutch Shell,

Oh I see how it is. 

It wasn't so long ago--March 19, 2015 to be exact--that you were begging me to get back together with you, writing me a long, forlorn love letter published openly right here. And also copied and pasted below. So you remember exactly what you said.

Remember that letter? Remember how you said "we have so much potential," and that you just knew we could "be so happy together someday?" In your own words, you literally BEGGED me to get back together with you. You even called me "Chuki"--your pet name for me--to try to get back into my good graces.

Then I finally agreed, and now what? Well, more of the same. That's what. And to think: I had to read about it in the newspaper of all places. Not so much as a call, a text, an email even--NOTHING! 

According to the Alaska Dispatch--the Alaska Fucking Dispatch!--you are going to "abandon" your drilling program in me, finding that "reserves were 'insufficient' to continue." Oh--and this is rich--that "at any given time" you "have a suite of investment options" in your "portfolio," that "not all of them can be funded" and that "exploration is over for the foreseeable future." But wait! Because "in another 10 years" you "could be interested in doing it again?!"

Well. That's rather presumptuous, don't you think? Who's to say where I'll be in ten years (aside from a few degrees warmer and a few inches higher, I mean)? What makes you think I'm just going to wait around for you to get your act together and finally be the partner you've been promising to be all along? 

Some nerve you have. You know who you can call in ten years? The "suite of investment options" in your "portfolio." That's who!

They say love the player, hate the game. Well, I hate the player AND the game. Yes, I'm cold, mercurial, and harsh. I know this about myself. After all, I'm a SEA IN THE ARCTIC. I have fifty foot swells, king crabs crawling all over my backside, and polar bears up in my ever-shrinking ice floes for fuck's sake! It's in my nature! 

I can't change, and I won't change. Not for you. Not for anyone. And now I'm starting to see that your little yellow scallop will never change its stripes, either.

Formerly yours,

The Chukchi Sea 

P.S. In case you forgot, here's what you told me just a few short months ago:

Dear Chukchi Sea,

I know we’ve had our problems in recent years, and I admit that I haven’t always treated you as well as you deserved. But I know we’re meant to be together, even if a lot of other people keep telling you that I'm selfish and irresponsible and that I don't really care about you. Search your trenches. Like way deep down where all of your most valuable resources reside, and you'll know that I'm right.

Listen. There are all these outside forces trying to keep us apart: environmental groups, protesters, regulatory hurdles, hippies in Seattle, lawsuits. It's a lot of pressure and it's really taken its toll on our relationship. But babe, they're lying to you and you know we can overcome anything this world throws at us, because I have a plan!

I know we can be strong and stand together against the people and things that don’t want us to be great—like Sally Jewel and maybe a few bowhead whales. We’re living on a prayer, like in the Bon Jovi song. (Can that please be the song we dance to at our wedding)? Whoaaa, we’re half way there (with some newly-granted federal permits). It really has a ring to it, doesn’t it?

But I digress.

We have so much potential, Chuki (I know you love it when I call you that). I know we can be so happy together someday. We have SO much to give to each other and the world. And you’re so beautiful, too, albeit wild, unpredictable, temperamental, and often very cold. But of course, that just makes you more alluring. When I fall asleep at night, all I can think about is how much I want to take my huge drilling rigs and make sweet, deep, crude-oil love to you for eternity until we have nothing left to give or take from each other.

All the haters keep saying our love isn’t real. That it's not workable—that it’s too risky and “unsafe” because of ice floes and polar bear habitat and sea lion rookeries and bullshit like that. That I'll leave you as soon as I get what I want. I promise you, they’re wrong. I admit that I messed up a few years ago when one of my rigs accidentally ran aground, and everyone said that means I don't have my shit together and that we can’t make it. Well, let them talk. Let’s show the whole entire world that we CAN make it!

I want you to know that I've really been cleaning up my act. I’m taking stock of everything in my life in order to give you everything you desire and more. I’ve rented us a pied-a-terre in Seattle. I'm upgrading my containment and propulsion systems and talking to The Coast Guard to make sure that I never pollute the shores of our love and that no reef or rock will ever breach my hull. I don't know what more I can do. Fortunately, your congressional delegation and business community recognize my efforts; they know that our love is meant to be.

Look. I know we come from different worlds. You're a large body of water from the wilds of Arctic Alaska, untamed and bold, home to delicate flora and fauna. I'm a publicly-traded, Fortune-500 Anglo-Dutch multinational oil and gas company with shareholders to answer to. But it's precisely because of our differences that we have so much to offer one another! 

Don't you see that? Because I do.

I’ve asked The Department of the Interior for your hand in marriage, and I think that will finally prove to you that I’m serious about being with you forever.

With all my love always and forever,

Royal Dutch Shell (affectionately known as R.D.S.)

Photo: Courtesy of You

Reunion Ruminations

This weekend was my 20th high school reunion, and I missed it. 

Like so many milestone events that have come and gone in the decade that I've lived in Alaska--weddings, bridal showers, baby showers--the cost and distance of traveling from here to New York City has severely limited my ability to participate. 

These are mostly events which, if I still lived in the city where I grew up, I'd probably make the effort to attend. I managed to make it back east for my 15th college reunion last year, and I'd do it again if given the chance--if only to spend time with a few close friends who were enthusiastic about going. 

But that college reunion experience made me realize something about reunions and the period of my life from about age 14-22:  It wasn't necessarily the best time ever. In fact, it kinda sucked donkey balls. 

Sure there were some intermittently great things about those years: I made some lifelong friends and we laughed and partied a lot. I had a serious boyfriend and I was in love with him. I played a sport and I was pretty good at it. 

But basically I was unhappy. I was perpetually stressed out, depressed, anxious, eating-disordered, and constantly trying to make people like me and be my friend. I felt inferior all the time. I had low self esteem. Constantly trying to succeed socially and academically felt like a huge amount of work, and it took a major toll on my psyche. 

The lasting impact is my incongruous resistance to and preoccupation with memory.

Admittedly, part of the reason I moved to an unfamiliar place almost as far away as a person can go and still live in America was a reaction to some of that. Lots of people try to run away from themselves, and maybe I'm no different that way. I guess what it comes down to is that I just don't like to remember the way I used to feel about myself and the way certain people and places "made" me feel about myself. 

After all, I still have a huge amount of work to do on that as it is.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Quite Possibly the Stupidest Argument Ever Witnessed

Paige: You know what would be really mean?

Me: What?

Paige: If you were wearing a white T shirt with a brown stain on it and someone said you looked like a dehydrated toilet bowl with poop in it.

Me: Wow. Yeah, that would be pretty mean. Did someone say that to you?

Paige: No. I don't even have a white T shirt with a brown stain on it.

Isaac: Someone said that to me!

Paige: No they didn't.

Isaac: Yes they did!

Me: Really? When? Where? Who?

Isaac: At school. A kid in my class said that to me. For real life.

Paige: Stop lying, Isaac.


Paige: I don't believe you. Prove it.

Me: I don't think that's possible, Paige. Let's just assume it happened.


Paige: LIAAAAARRRR!!!!!!!

Commence full-bore physical assault, followed by only semi-effective maternal intervention. Just another rainy fall Sunday in Juneau, Alaska.

The siblings, in happier times.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Do Powerful People With Lots of Rights Really Need More Help ProtectingThem?

Spoiler alert: I'm pretty sure the answer is no. But let me elaborate. 

Years ago, I was in the elevator of my law school building and I overheard a conversation between two students. One was saying to the other that she didn't want to take Labor Law with a particular professor because he was "pro labor" and she was "pro management." I thought to myself at the time, what does that even mean? How can you be "pro" the thing that is already the total and obvious winner? Does that entity really need a champion?

Then I thought about this more over the years, and it began making sense in other contexts. Men's rights activism. White supremacy. Evangelical nationalism. What are these "movements" really about? They're about power, and the threat of losing it. Which no one who has power likes to do. And again, they're about the collective versus the individual. 

Imagine a white man working for a black woman at some office in Anytown, U.S.A. Maybe a recent immigrant gains a promotion over him. Maybe he gets divorced, loses custody of his kids, and has to pay his ex a bunch of child support. Maybe even alimony. Maybe he tries dating and gets turned down a few times. Maybe he goes online and finds communities of people just like him. People who have black women and immigrants for bosses and ex-wives and no girlfriends and owe a bunch of child support. Maybe he starts feeling victimized. It's easy to see why. It's easy for that person to blame women, immigrants, black people, and the society that presumably stacks the deck in their favor--for all of his problems. He feels disempowered by them. And maybe he has been, at least directly.

But on the bigger stage--the stage of statistics--he's still winning. He--and I use "He" here as a stand-in--is still winning by a lot. Dollar for dollar, he's still making a lot more money. He's usually not being raped, or worrying about being raped. Everywhere he goes in public, he gets the benefit of the doubt. No one thinks he's stealing. No one assumes he's not a citizen. He has presumptive credibility. Basically, no one fucks with him at all.

Everyone else is just trying to catch up. On an individual level, some shit might have happened that leads him to believe otherwise, but the truth is that he's not losing this race. So maybe he doesn't really need as much help from society as he thinks he does, and maybe it's OK if he loses a little bit of power in the interest of elevating those who in reality, don't have very much at all.

Friday, September 25, 2015

12 Productive Things John Boehner Can Do With His New-found Freedom

Every dude who publicly quits doing anything nowadays always claims he wants to “spend more time with his family.” That’s a laudable goal, but it's also extremely boring and probably not true. 

Personally, I think the soon-to-be-ex-Speaker of the House can do better than that. Which is why O.H.M. is offering John Boehner a dozen suggestions of productive things to do with his new-found freedom:

1. Become a paid lobbyist for the-men-who-are-unfortunately-named-things-synonymous-with-slang-term-for-erect-penis lobby (e.g. Peter Dix, John Cox-Weiner, Dick Johnson, etc.).

2. Add an audio feature to official Wikipedia page emphasizing correct pronunciation of his last name is “BAY-ner. It's BAYNER for the last frickin' time!”

3. Finally give up and legally change last name to Bayner.

4. Commit to a deeper shade of orange by starting own chain of tanning salons and new line of tanning products called “Boehner’s Bronzers.”

5. Three words: Abortion clinic escort.

6. Go to medical school. Become OBGYN.

7. Roll out new stand-up material at open mic nights on Ohio strip mall comedy club circuit (“Fillibuster?! I hardly know her!” Badum-dum-CHHH).

8. Get job at cosmetics counter at J.C. Penney; Specialize in application of male foundation, guy-liner, and tear-proof mascara.  

9. Voice own caricature on South Park.

10. Mount campaign to have face put on some denomination of U.S. currency.

11. Lovingly make scrap book of sappy Tweets and prepared statements issued by colleagues in wake of surprise resignation. Decorate with trimmings from Hobby Lobby.

12. Start boy band with Mitch McConnell, Eric Cantor, and Harry Reid. (Cantor is totally "the cute one.").

John Boehner official portrait.jpg

Buying a Greeting Card is a Surprisingly Annoying Experience

Have you tried to buy a greeting card at a drug store or supermarket recently? I don't recommend it. Not unless it's literally the only thing you want to do for the rest of your day.

That's my observation upon trying to execute what I naively assumed would be a simple task: Walking down the street to the drug store near my office and buying a card for someone's bat mitzvah. Oh I didn't expect to actually find a bat mitzvah specific-card. This is Juneau, not Long Island. But nor did I expect to be stymied by the unnecessary specificity of the other options. 

And by that, I mean there is now a greeting card for almost every single occasion OTHER than the occasion for which you might need a greeting card. It's not just "birthday," "get well," "sympathy" and "graduation" anymore. No sir. Greeting cards have become a LOT more specific than that.

Birthday for her. Birthday for him. Birthday for husband from wife. Kindergarten graduation. Every-age-imaginable-birthday from 1 to 100 from cousin, aunt, uncle, group, pet (of course the age 13 birthday cards were all gone). "Funny" birthday. (And I put "funny" in quotes intentionally, because none of them are remotely funny). Dog sympathy. Cat sympathy. Iguana sympathy. Baptism. Baptism of Satanic spawn. Sympathy for iguana's Satanic baptism from chinchilla. Christening. Religious wedding. Retirement. Religious retirement. Wedding from colleagues. Bridal shower given by sister. Bridal shower given by pet tarantula. Bachelor party from sister to brother. Baby shower given by book club. Baby's six month milestone of sitting up without assistance. Book club graduation. Good luck with gall bladder surgery from step-cousin to aunt's step-brother's land tortoise. All of the foregoing options with little environmentally unsound doohickeys inside that play inane music when you open them and therefore cost six times more than the far less annoying, traditionally silent versions.

I must have stood there staring at the rack of cards for half an hour, idly picking them up and reading the messages contained inside, each more cloying, maudlin, corny, and unfunny than the next. Messages I would never in a million YEARS dream of sending to anyone ever. Quotes like: "Your special day is yours to treasure always. Know that you are treasured always too." Or the "funny" ones, with brightly colored goofy cartoons and stupid jokes about being over the hill and and drinking too many margaritas.

I stayed there long after I knew this mission was an epic fail, because I found myself fascinated with the messages. Someone actually gets paid to write this tripe! And presumably people actually like it enough to buy it for $3.69? Truly fascinating. I grumbled a lot of this out loud to myself while other shoppers gave me the side-eye, and I could tell they were wondering if I was mentally stable.

I finally settled on the most neutral "happy birthday" card I could find. One that seemed appropriate for multiple ages and that said something unoriginal but not offensively cheesy like, "Hope your birthday is awesome." I scribbled something in the card about how I couldn't find anything better, and called it good.

All I really needed was a vehicle for a check. Well, I've learned my lesson. Next time, I'll just borrow a plain white envelope from the supply closet at work.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Trouble With Karma

I don't really believe in karma--the general idea, rooted in Buddhism and Hinduism, that the sum of a person's actions will decide their fate in the future. Basically that people, for better or worse, ultimately get what they deserve. 

Then again, I'm also not religious. And although I'm a lawyer who believes in my work, I also know that the justice system has grave limitations:  When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Sometimes religion, karma, and justice are just hammers, and whatever nuanced problem you're facing simply won't conform to the shape of a nail. In other words, it's axiomatic that people sometimes get away with doing bad things, and that bad things sometimes happen to people who don't "deserve" it. If karma were real, that wouldn't be true.

But I'm a strong adherent to secular humanism and the social compact. The idea that our actions have consequences and should be rooted in a system of ethics. And that this system of ethics, in turn, should be driven by a collective goal for a more just society, with the primary motive being the protection of the whole and not necessarily--in every instance--the individual.

I've been thinking a lot of about these concepts in light of this week's "karmic justice" meted out by the Internet to two closeted misogynists and a price-gouging pharmaceutical executive

All three were young, white males with all the apparent advantages, power, and privileges that society can confer. And in both cases, they admittedly and beyond any doubt used their privilege in a manner that harmed the collective and that benefited themselves directly. In one case financially and in the other sexually. 

Society took note, and delivered a punishment. Outrage over dangerous and misogynistic rantings forced at least the temporary closure of the misogynists' business, and collective disgust that one man's bald-faced greed could jeopardize the health of thousands forced him to lower the price of a life-saving drug in direct response to society's reproach.

It's easy to feel a sense of poetic justice and schadenfreude when you watch people like this get their comeuppance. I feel it too. But I also recognize that feeling as a failing in my own character. It's too easy and it's base. 

So I try to channel my ignoble glee toward a more fundamental and productive truth: That absent a collective societal outrage--now easier than ever to harness because of technology--these men would never have faced any consequences for their conduct at all. And that in both cases, the punishment is a financial one, imposed upon three individuals who appear well-positioned to absorb its impact and whose own selfish actions precipitated it. In other words, it's hard to feel sympathy.

It's also hard not to appreciate the power and importance of the social compact. We all live together as humans on this planet, whether we like it or not. A planet that is quite literally growing more crowded, vulnerable, interconnected, and interdependent by the second. Anyone who says or thinks otherwise is kidding themselves. If every individual did everything he or she wanted to do all the time, society would descend into anarchy. 

That's why all of us depend on one another to call out crimes against our fellow humans when we see them. Even--and especially--where, as here, those crimes are undefined in the law and lack any other remedy or recourse.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Waking Life Espresso Scandal in Limerick

I now present O.H.M.'s final words on the Waking Life Espresso/Asheville misogyny scandal. As usual, I will end with a limerick:

There once were two bros from N.C.
Who put sweet D in the tender V
But then someone found out
What their game was about
And their balls hit the Internet's knee.

They broke down each one of their lays
All of Asheville was rather amazed
At what these guys said
And the shit in their heads
Those bros were like, “Lemme rephrase!”

See I know that we called women plates
And MILFs with a sock in their face
And we fucked those plates stupid
And trolled OK Cupid
And made lots of women  people irate.

We might also have dissed the fat chicks

And gagged some cute girls with our dicks
And wailed on one with a belt
(Might have left a small welt)
But that's what makes alpha males tick.

But please do not boycott our store
(Yeah, I know that we called you a whore)
But business is business
And coffee’s delicious
Here’s some cash! Let's go back to before.

We wrote a long, sad sorry note
‘Cause we heard that shit usually floats
And hope beta-prone ladies
Will forget that we're shady
‘Cause we love shoving dick in their throats.

The problem is no one is swallowing
And women the world 'round are wallowing
In your "red pill" shit show
See, you reap what you sow
And your crop is a manosphere following.

But the manosphere won't pay your rent
And your "sorries" have flown like cement
So sit down with some mochas
And try hard to focus
On the real reason for your descent.

Maybe it's just that the clock
Ran out on your game and your cock
Will now be in your hand
No you never did plan
To be dating your favorite tube sock.

Image result for coffee

The Closet Misogynist's Iceberg

The Nutella Brawl and Monkey Selfie Lawsuit Should Be Combined Into One Awesome Story

Two stories rightfully owned the internet this week.

The first was a 24 year-old kid with a criminal record punching a 78 year-old man in the face over taking too many Nutella waffle samples at Costco. The second was a federal lawsuit brought by PETA on behalf of a crested black macaque named Naturo, claiming that the monkey owns the copyright to a selfie he took with a wildlife photographer's unattended camera.

First, let me say that as a lover of Nutellla, there are certain things in this life that are totes worth punching an old man in the head and facing $50,000 bail and 11 years in prison over. And one of those things is Nutella from Costco, to say nothing of Nutella waffles from Costco. No doubt: I would go full Steven Seagal on my own Granny to get my hands on the last Nutella waffle sample from Costco, and no half-way house resident in a beard net could stop me. Unfortunately, I don't think they serve Nutella in prison. It's more like bologna on white bread with French's yellow mustard (if you're lucky). Or at least that's what I recall from my days visiting convicts and soon-to-be-convicts on Rikers Island and Central Booking in NYC.

Second, let me say that as a lawyer who does mostly defense work, I appreciate a novel claim by plaintiffs. Especially plaintiffs who are even hairier than me, could use a trip to the dentist, and hurl their own feces at the wall just for fun. And I'm pretty sure this is the first federal case brought by a monkey. (You can see why he's suing, btw. The selfie he took is LEGIT and fully worthy of federal copyright protection).

But really these two stories would be better if they were somehow combined into one awesome internet story meme. 

Like, if Naturo the macaque somehow got loose in Costco and punched the 24 year-old in the throat over the Nutella waffles. Then the beard-net wearing sample guy took a picture with the 78 year-old's unattended camera (who'd put it down to grab his own Nutella waffle sample, obvi). Once the story blew up, the beard-net guy--who let's be honest isn't exactly making bank slinging Nutella waffles at Costco--claimed the rights to the pictures in a combination personal injury/copyright lawsuit in federal court. The 24 year-old and the beard-net guy would be co-plaintiffs against co-defendants Naturo the black crested macaque and the 78 year-old man, with cross-claims brought by the macaque and the old guy for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Now that, my friends, would rightfully own the internet for months.

Why I Think Writing Matters

The written word is a thing of beauty and also profound power. In the wrong hands, it can do a lot of damage. But when wielded carefully and thoughtfully, it is humankind’s most powerful, equitable, and accessible agent for change.

People today have more access to more writing than at any time in human history. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it. People once transcribed copies of the bible in painstaking pen and ink, by hand, for aristocracy. Then the printing press came along, and books were suddenly accessible to ordinary people.

The internet is definitely the printing press of our time. 

For all its pitfalls, social media and the internet have catalyzed major global social movements and raised awareness about many of the world’s injustices through pictures and video, but more fundamentally, through writing. And writing, of course, can be the undoing of people who probably should be undone, as we’ve most recently seen with misogynists whose own dangerous online “anonymous” rantings against women may cost them their livelihood.

I started this blog just under a year ago, and I didn’t really know what I was doing. I always knew that I loved to write, and that I had ideas, and that I could assimilate ideas into words quickly. But I didn’t really have a plan or a goal for the blog. I still don’t, but I am starting to realize why I continue to write it anyway.

Writing in general--and writing One Hot Mess in particular--is both therapy and activism for me. I do it every day. I write professionally (and very differently) in a world far away from this blog, and I also write for the same reasons some people go running or practice yoga: To feel healthy and whole.

There is not a single word on this blog that I’m ashamed to have written or that I wouldn’t want the whole world to read, despite the sometimes raw, revelatory, and occasionally (ok, often) profane nature of those words. I love when people read and share my posts, not for my own ego (of course there’s that), but more because of what I take it to mean when they do.

To me, it means that my writing is serving a purpose and resonating with people in a real way. It made someone laugh. It touched someone. It inspired something. I did something (hopefully something good) for another human being, simply by putting some written words out into the world that weren’t there yesterday.

Below is a screen shot of a message I received on Twitter from the blogger that broke the Asheville misogyny story that I covered in my last two posts. Her community is reeling from the discovery that two despicable de facto sexual predators whose own writings, in part, exposed them, were secretly living and doing business in their town, and their community is struggling with what to do about it. In the meantime, something I wrote evidently provided something that she and her friends needed today (albeit, in this case, at the expense of someone else who undeniably and admittedly deserves it).

That’s all that most writers—professional, amateur, and everywhere in between—ever really want to do. 
And ever should do.                                   

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


I think we need a new meme called #AskJared&Jacob. 

Maybe someone's come up with this already. This is where we find out what Jared Rutledge and Jacob Owens--owners of Waking Life Espresso in Asheville, NC who were recently outed as misogynistic pickup artists and who apparently have some serious game--REALLY know about women. 

These questions are taken straight from the horses' mouths. OK. Ready? Let's DO THIS. 

1. Where does "the sweet D" go?
(a) In "the tender V" since 2013.
(b) In your hand since yesterday for the rest of your lives.
(c) Nowhere near any woman who knows how to use the Googles or interwebs ever again.
(d) Both (b) and (c).

2. Where will you be donating your coffee shop's profits over the next months?
(a) A rape crisis center.
(b) Anywhere but a rape crisis center.
(c) A crisis P.R. firm.
(d) Both (b) and (c).

3. What is a "plate?"
(a) Something that you "fucked in a garage next to your business."
(b) Something you eat dinner off of.
(c) Part of the earth's crust.
(d) All of the above.

4. How do you write a believable public apology?
(a) By not trying to validate other people's feelings that you lack the authority to validate.
(b) By lacking an economic incentive to apologize.
(c) By not doing the thing that prompted it in the first place.
(d) By not making it exceedingly obvious that the only thing you're actually sorry for is getting caught behaving like the scumbags you so clearly are.

5. What is "hospital sex" with a "drugged" woman in California like?
(a) Weird.

(b) Really cool.
(c) Strange.
(d) Illegal maybe.

6. What's the best thing about "a late thirties MILF?"
(a) Slamming body for her age.
(b) Interested in beta comfort and stability.
(c) Abusive exes.
(d) Complex human being who gave life to other human beings and whose actual struggles you don't have the first fucking clue about because you're still complete infants yourselves.

7. What letter of the Greek alphabet best represents your current status among the female gender?
(a) Alpha.
(b) Beta.
(c) Gamma.
(d) Omega.

8. What can "mediocre skinny girls" do to make a "massive difference?"
(a) Be sweet.
(b) Be submissive.
(c) Be feminine.
(d) Continue to publicly shame you and other misogynists like you on the internet so that people don't stop talking about the shit you pulled and the damage that you did for a really long time.

B-T-DUBS: I posted this quiz to their business' Twitter account, so I'll let you know a breakdown of these bros' scores, kinda like the "breakdown of all their lays." J&J: if you're reading this, better STUDY UP, cowboys! Come on. Women everywhere (not to mention the whole Manosphere) are waiting for you to drop some more "red pill" science.

Asheville Coffee Shop Owners Secretly Ran Misogynistic Pickup Artist Podcast, BlogĀ 

Monday, September 21, 2015

How Come No Man Ever Says "Sorry" to a Woman Until He Gets Caught?

Ah, the public apology to people with vaginas. 

There seems to be one almost every month, kind of like a menstrual cycle for assholes. It goes like this: Politicians, celebrities, and regular ol' John Q. Publics do some stupid shit on or offline. Then they get caught. Then they issue the disingenuous but carefully crafted "public apology" in a transparent bid to salvage their reputations and their bank accounts.

Usually, these apologies are made from men to women for doing and saying bad things to and about their lady parts. There are so many examples of this it's tough to catalog them all: Josh Duggar, Bill Cosby (not sure he ever apologized actually), Jian Ghomeshi, college fraternities, the list goes on and on and on and on and on.

Today's example is reported by Joanna Rothkopf in Jezebel

Jared Rutledge and Jacob Owens, two until-yesterday-cocksure millennials who own Waking Life Coffee Shop in Asheville, NC, were anonymously podcasting and blogging about their sexual "conquests" of women, penning objectifying bon mots like: "Nothing wrong with fucking a fat chick (body fat > 25%) once in a while, but they're catch and release." And "One thing that mediocre skinny girls can do is be sweet, submissive, and feminine. Makes a massive difference and can also add a point." One of them even bragged that he had sex with a woman while she was sedated in a hospital.

Well, the people of Asheville were PISSED and protested the living shit out of Jared and Jacob's business, prompting a petition and calls for product boycotts and such. I highly recommend that you click on over to the groveling public apology these two posted today to their coffee shop's website, in which they proclaim that everyone's "anger is justified." (Thanks for mansplaining the verdict, boys!), and that they've said "terrible and demeaning things." But don't worry. They're closing up shop for a couple days of "introspection" and are donating the next few months of profits to a rape crisis center. So it's all good, M'kay?


But like, here's my question though. See, women say sorry a lot. Like, way too much. Sorry coming out of a woman's mouth is usually a five-letter-four-letter word in my opinion, as I've blogged about before. So why is it that you never hear a man saying "sorry" for his violent and inexcusable misogyny until after he gets caught?

I'm going to hazard a guess on that.

Maybe it's because he's not actually sorry about raping and fucking and bragging about raping and fucking. Maybe he's just sorry that someone found out about his raping and fucking and bragging about raping and fucking, since at least in this case, these guys knew it was bad enough to do it anonymously, and now that they've been exposed, no one wants to buy their fair-trade coffee beans and pumpkin spice lattes anymore.


Do you know when I'll believe an apology like this? When men stop doing the shit that makes apologies like this necessary in the first place. 

Asheville Coffee Shop Owners Secretly Ran Misogynistic Pickup Artist Podcast, BlogĀ