Equal Pay Day Controversy

So, Tuesday was equal pay day. For those of you who somehow don’t know about this, it represents the day women have to work up to before they’ve made as much as men made the previous year.

At 77 cents to the dollar, we have to work an extra 98 days.

Anyway, if you want more information about how this came about or what it actually measures, click on the link above, because what I’m doing in this post is taking on these two bullshit questions from this post over here.

Question 1:

Do women go into lower-paying sectors because they prefer them, or because employers discriminate against them? 

 
I don’t know about you, but I don’t know too many people in general who look at themselves and think, you know what I’m worth? Very little money.
 
There are more women in teaching and administrative work than men, and you know what, when asking many of them, they’d say they do enjoy the work. They are where they want to be. Great! Let’s pay them more.
 
The women workforce also has a lot more part-time workers, which apparently messes up the average? They’re working part time usually because they have a family at home, right? And daycare is incredibly expensive…more expensive than college.
 
And having families is something that people do, don’t you know. And our society is still set up in such a way where the responsibility usually falls on the woman to care for the child, and if alternate care is used, the woman actually has to be making some money. However, since she only makes 77 cents to a man’s dollar, she often saves money by not going to work.
 
Not to mention that we are constantly saying we need more women in science, yet to be in science you need a PhD and to get a PhD plus some experience, you need to not have kids until about your mid-30s.
 
In fact Freeman Dyson, the world-renowned mathematical physicist who helped found quantum electrodynamics thinks academia is bunk:

“I’m very proud of not having a Ph.D. I think the Ph.D. system is an abomination. It was invented as a system for educating German professors in the 19th century, and it works well under those conditions. It’s good for a very small number of people who are going to spend their lives being professors. But it has become now a kind of union card that you have to have in order to have a job, whether it’s being a professor or other things, and it’s quite inappropriate for that. It forces people to waste years and years of their lives sort of pretending to do research for which they’re not at all well-suited. In the end, they have this piece of paper which says they’re qualified, but it really doesn’t mean anything. The Ph.D. takes far too long and discourages women from becoming scientists, which I consider a great tragedy. So I have opposed it all my life without any success at all.”

Question 2:

Do women stay home with the kids because of cultural norms, or because of the way parental leave policies are set up? 
I don’t understand this question. I mean, both? First of all, don’t kid yourself, we don’t have any parental leave in this country so there is no “way it is set up” because it does not exist. Secondly, yeah, there are definitely cultural norms still in place that need to go away because they are annoying and they make people feel bad. Not to mention that they perpetuate stereotypes that women cannot hold positions of power because “they won’t give as much to the company” or women “choose not to make as much” because they “chose to have children.”

Okay, well, since we’re the only ones who can have children, how about you help us out and not put us through those shitty choices.

The long and short of it is that women are still struggling to be seen as a serious force in the workplace because of outmoded ideas of family, cost of childcare, and doucheheads who think if a woman chose to birth a child, she decided she didn’t want to work for a lot of money so she should shut up.

We need future people, right? And to get them to the adult stage, we need to feed them. And if we’re going to feed them and teach them healthy things about the world, we deserve a livable wage for doing something we have been trained in.

And if a woman works as hard as a man in her profession, she should make as much money as he does. Period.

As my friend on Facebook said:

” If you are too much of a goddamn pithy simple-minded asshole to see the structural problem with putting a tax on working women of as much as $1000/month per child, there’s nothing anyone can say to talk you to a place of reason.

I never want another person coming at me about the “personal choice” of mothers to take low-paying jobs who doesn’t have a solution to this nightmare of a decision-making process we put women through.”

 
Pay equity. Because we’re effing worth it. And so are our kids.
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How to Be Okay with Yourself

We are all broken. But we are all beautiful. And no one in the world is better than you are. Who you are, right now, in this very moment, as you read this, is beautiful. You belong here. And you deserve things. Good things. Even if you hate yourself right now, or hate what you’ve have done in the past, or hate what you will do in the future, or hate what you are doing right now, that does not mean you do not deserve the best of everything in this world, and the sooner you recognize that you are special, unique and giving this world a great gift just by existing, the sooner you’ll be able to walk away from the Land Of Bad Decisions ™.

Everyone has been there. The intensity of the situations are different, and our ability to withstand different intensities are different. But we are, in essence, very similar. We all fall, we all feel like fakes, we all struggle with hidden demons.

Your demons are just as important as that guy’s over there. And you  are just as deserving as he is.

You can’t keep on keeping on if you feel like you are undeserving of life, love and happiness. It’s not you. It’s a thing. It’s a thing that’s near you. It’s a thing that’s not you. You are not your failures. You are not even your actions. You are defined by you and you alone. You get to make up that definition. Make it good. You are strong. A warrior just like me, just like everyone. You will not let your loved ones down. They are more forgiving than you are. You are not the past. The past is not real. It is shadows. Shadows we must confront and conquer, but not our reality this day, this moment. You are not what happened to you. You don’t owe anyone anything, especially at the expense of yourself. You are beautiful and you can let that show. Those who would disparage it are wrong. You can, day by day, moment by moment, take control of your life. And you deserve it.

Here are some things to do:

1) Accept blame for what is yours. But don’t wallow in it. Don’t allow your past to become you. Own up to your actions, understand your motivations for them, and from there, make changes so that you don’t find yourself in that position again.

2) Allow yourself mistakes. You are going to mess up. A lot. This doesn’t prove that you are a bad person. It just proves that you are a person. It doesn’t prove that you can’t change. It proves that change is a journey, not a destination.

3) Forgive yourself. I don’t care how bad it is, if you can’t forgive yourself, you stop yourself from moving forward. Forcing yourself to live in your old shoes as punishments for your misdeeds is poisoning. You have control over this moment, and the next one, and then the next, but only one moment at a time. And when you mess up, if you dwell on it, taking it as indicative of your nature, you are missing out on all the next moments you could control. You are worth forgiveness.

4) Forgive others. Some people have hurt you worse than others. Some people have tortured you, some knowingly, some unknowingly. Some people are still trying to hurt you now. Forgive them so that you can walk away from them. Because emotion binds us. And you don’t want to be a part of that.

5) Walk away. Cut ties with toxic people. You do not owe them anything. You forgave them foryou. Forgiveness doesn’t mean willingness to subject yourself to more pain.

6) Be proud. Sometimes it will be hard to do this. So look outside yourself if you must. Just find one little thing each day that you did that you can be proud of. And when you find it, do not find a way to displace ownership of that thing. Do not assign yourself ulterior motives. Do not doubt that one tiny thing you chose to be proud of. Start very small. Move to bigger things from there. You must accept that you are worthy of praise.

7) Stop hiding. I know it’s scary. Try showing yourself for just a few minutes at a time until you can build your resistance up.

8) Be kind to yourself. That thing in you that hates you? That likes to tell you you’re a piece of shit. It’s wrong. Experiment with telling it to shut the hell up. It will feel silly at first, but it separates your masochistic tendencies from who you are in a way nonverbal communication doesn’t quite reach. Realize that sometimes you do things just so you can tell yourself ‘I told you so.’ Experiment with not  telling yourself ‘I told you so’ when you make a bad decision. Remember, the only one around to police you is yourself. Be a good cop.

9) Own it. You are who you are and you can do what you can do. You do not owe anyone anything. Practice being direct. It is scary. You don’t want to displease people. But, in all reality, they don’t care as much as you think they do. And even if they think they care at the time, you are only a minor player in their life movie. They’ll adjust. They’ll figure it out. You are only the main character in your own book. Read your book.

10) Do it. Branching off of number 9, be honest in everything you do. When everything mounts against you, and you want to hide, or lie, or couch the truth, or spare yourself what you feel certain will be other people’s scorn and hate, try to buck that instead and simply state the truth. Don’t allow yourself to be paralyzed on the cliff of anxiety where action is impossible and going back is equally impossible. Go forward. The sooner you move, the sooner it will all be over.

Be your authentic self. That person is awesome. Give her a chance. Hell, no one else did, right? Doesn’t she deserve it? You be the first. Give you a chance.

You are worth everything.

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Important Things My Kids Say

If you’ve been around for more than five minutes,you probably know I’m pretty straightforward. My best friend of 26 years would tell you that, a new friend I just made last week would tell you that. And they’d both be putting it nicely. I have no time for couching words, or passive aggressiveness, or any confusion whatsoever. Is it a positive? Is it a negative? I don’t know. Depends on the situation, I guess. I’ll let you know statistically in about 50 years.

However, being straightforward, and as incredibly word dependent as I am (how can you not love words, seriously? They are EVERYTHING.) now that my children are old enough to articulate what they want and need from me, they do. Directly. This is amazing, and while I just dumb-lucked into it like I do everything in my life, I highly highly recommend doing it.

How? I don’t know, really. I think it’s because I am so direct about how I feel, what my anger means, when it’s a bad time to talk to me, what makes me feel emotion of any kind, and I’ve constantly talked at them since birth using all the adult vocabulary I have.

I have very emotional kids. They require absolute presence and lots of patience, neither of which I have, unfortunately. But I’m learning. I’m trying for them. And I’m trying to teach them how to request those things in a way in which they’ll receive their desired outcome. And I’m trying to teach them how to appropriately deal with disappointment when they don’t get what they want,especially when they ought to get it.

I think it’s going well.

I really love these kids.

So, the most important things they are saying to me currently:

“My tummy feels different.” 1) I’m hungry, 2) I’m nervous or dissatisfied.

“I want a hug.” I need a hug.

“I don’t know what you mean.” I am not able to picture the simple process you are describing and this is frustrating to me, indicating not only a breakdown in communication, but a chasm of self-doubt as I berate myself for not understanding you. I will need a hug in two minutes.

“You don’t know what I mean.” I am utterly frustrated with your complete inability to given me what I am asking for, not only in terms of what I am physically saying, but also in terms of my bodily cues. I have expectations about how this situation should be going currently, and I cannot articulate them without changing how I feel the situation should be going and further confusing myself. I need you to do your best to magically figure out exactly what I need, or somehow push me past the boundary of this mattering so very much.

“Can I do it again later?” I hate what I’ve just done, but I know you want to move on, and I now know you hate it when I tantrum about perfection and I will always lose this battle. Will you allow me to think I will be able to go back to this and fix it to my liking later, so that I can move on knowing that everything will be okay at the end? (They never go back to it).

“Do we have more?” I will forgo the pleasure of this treat if it is limited in quantity. I need to see the exact specs of my situation to feel comfortable here.

“I’m just going to run away and cry.” I have absolutely no idea how to handle the emotion I am feeling in this moment, and I would prefer to lose control without your judgment. I feel alone and unwanted. (I never let them run away and cry, btw. These turn into long hug sessions.)

“Why aren’t we talking about me?” I brought up something that you thought was general, but actually I need validation and support that my identity and strengths are valued here. You’ve misread what is going on. Please support me.

“I think you care more about Lilly/Dulce than me.” You are giving my twin a lot more attention right now probably for a very valid reason that I don’t care about at all. I need to be assured that I am also desired and loved and that I don’t have to be sick/hurt/crying to be so.

“I love you.” I love you.

And the best thing that they say?

Every single time I say, “Hey girls, guess what?” They reply, “You love me.”

If that’s the only message I ever get through to them, I will be happy.

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Disney Cage Match: Brave vs. Tangled vs. Frozen

Yesterday, on Facebook, I found out just how serious we all are about our modern Disney movies. While the older cartoons get ALL of the free passes, our developing society now requires more social conscience in our films, and we are absolutely right to demand it. In that vein, Disney has come out with several kickass princesses in the past few years. Could they do even better? Sure! Is it nice to take Merida, though, and compare her to Cinderella to pat ourselves on the back about how far we’ve come? Yes, let’s do it. No problems detected.

That said, when you get into the nitty-gritty of which modern movie we all like the best, things can get…ugly. Like really ugly. I mean, sometimes you prefer Tangled and then someone comes along and calls you an abusive parent or says you hate Disney. (JUST KIDDING, I KNOW YOU DIDN’T MEAN IT LIKE THAT.) But still, tempers really, really flare.

Do Not Mess With The Modern Favorites.

So, let’s put these films to the test, shall we? Let’s take Frozen, Brave and Tangled, and gauge them component by component to get at the real winner in all this. Preferences are fine and all, but don’t we really need to examine which of the three feminist princesses is THE BEST ONE. It’s not like we can all get along, right?

The Main Character:

Frozen:


Anna and Elsa: Anna is really the main character, but you could argue that Elsa makes the storyline. Or is Elsa really the main character and Anna is just filler learning a few side lessons while Elsa figures herself out behind closed doors? Either way, they need each other and we need them both. They do it alone, without anyone else.

Brave:


Merida has had enough of your bullshit. She’s headstrong, free-spirited and, well, brave. She makes some pretty serious, I’m-a-spoiled-princess mistakes (like feeding her poor mom that damn cake), but it’s not like her mom is even trying to understand how awesome she is, so forgiven.


Tangled:

Rapunzel is totally rad. She’s utterly optimistic at every turn. She sees the best in absolutely everything. Her friendly and naive demeanor don’t really make her nearly as kickass as the other three heroines, but she’s willing to give anything a try, and she goes for anything she wants.

WINNER: TANGLED

Okay, okay, REMEMBER these are all my opinions. You make your own winners. I know most of you will pick Anna/Elsa. It’s okay. Keep going through. Maybe you’ll even agree with me once or twice, who knows!

Anyway, I chose Rapunzel because she’s scared but happy, does what she wants but thinks of other people, and saves the prince like the badass she is. She does all these things without doing anything too petulant.

The Mom:

Frozen:

She never even speaks. Come on, Disney. If I were that mom (and I know, I know, I’m not), Iprobably would have been like, yo, king, dude. Could we go back to the trolls and get some more info on this whole powers thing? I’m not feeling locking my kid up for a decade.

Brave:

She’s stubborn, she doesn’t listen to what her daughter needs, she projects her problems onto her daughter, she’s a traditionalist because she was forced to be so and therefore others should be, too, she’s unbending, can’t talk to her kid, and frequently gets angry in ways that are not productive.

She’s also the raddest motherfucker ever. She learns from her mistakes, and she totally forgives her kid for turning her into a gd bear. Plus, everything she does in that paragraph up there she does out of a deep love. It’s just a bit misguided, that’s all.

Tangled:

I really find it hard to believe that they searched all over the kingdom and never thought to check that tower, but Flynn Rider just ran from a horse and climbed it, nbd.

WINNER: BRAVE

The Dad:

Frozen:

There is grave disagreement here, and many people feel I’m a cruel-hearted SOB for my opinion, but I think Anna and Elsa’s dad is abusive. Full stop. You don’t lock your kid up in a room for a decade to “protect her”. Sure, do it for a week while you research other things to do, and go in there to constantly reassure her that you’re working to help her, but just handing her some thicker gloves every five years, and basically being like, peace out and also never talk to your sister again? Because we love you? Nope.

Brave:

Is this guy the best ever or what? He’s just the best ever. I can’t even with his happy, constructive, protective demeanor and his obvious love for his family and his life.

Tangled:

Same as mom. You’re just going to light lanterns and hope the princess finds her way home? Okay.

WINNER: BRAVE

The Bad Guy:

Frozen:


This is a tough one because Hans isn’t really the bad guy so much as he’s just an ahole. Elsa isn’t the bad guy because Disney changed her tune and made her awesome instead. In Frozen, one of the messages is that the bad guy is fear, the bad guy is ourselves, the bad guy is quick decisions driven by emotion bereft of critical thinking.

That’s a pretty important bad guy, guys.


Brave:


Mordu, y’all. Mor-fucking-du. You can’t. I can’t. I mean. I was pissed when we saw this in theaters, because why didn’t anyone tell me about the damn bear fight, omg my toddlers!

Anyway, the awesome thing about Mordu is that he represents what the mother could have become if she gave up on love and family. Instead she fought that off. People need each other, families need each other, and sometimes being right isn’t as important as being, well, good. Well done.

Tangled:


I love Mother Gothel. She is the most hilarious abusive pos I’ve ever laid eyes on. The manipulative games she plays with poor Rapunzel would have made me cry if they weren’t so obvious, overdone and meant to make me laugh instead. “Mother Knows Best” is a pretty singable song, tbh, and the narcissistic tones of her badness really underscore the mental damage she is inflicting.

WINNER: FROZEN

(But, damm, that was a tough choice. These bad guys all rock hard.)

The Lovable Sidekick:

Frozen:


Okay, okay, I’m happy for you, and I’mma let you finish, but Olaf is the best sidekick of all time.

Everything he says is fucking wonderful. He single-handedly saves Frozen for me. What can I say? I’m a total sucker for childlike optimism in the face of all odds. Plus, I really fucking like warm hugs.

Brave:


Tricky one here. Merida doesn’t have a legit sidekick. She rides alone, yo. But her little brothers are damn cute. Other than that cleavage scene, though.

Tangled:



Is there any way to not love a horse with moral fiber of steel and a heart of gold? I think not.

WINNER: FROZEN

Yeah, why?

The Music:

Frozen:

Okay, so Frozen had some MAMMOTH songs. Do You Want to Build a Snowman can plunge me into a depressive state the likes of which I’ve never previously known, and Let It Go is a power ballad to end all power ballads. It speaks to deep, entrenched issues within people themselves. Tough stuff. In Summer is a cute sidekick song, and even the prince / Anna song is pretty cute. But they’re not well spaced, and they don’t really work together as a whole ensemble.

Brave:

No music because Pixar does what it wants. So there.

Tangled:

I love the songs and the distribution of songs in Tangled. They’re not as deep or nearly as powerful as those in Frozen, but they work for the story, they accentuate each character in good form, and they bring the piece together. Flynn even remarks about the damn silliness of everyone breaking out into song all the time, because seriously wth.

WINNER: TANGLED

I don’t like crying the ugly tears down my face, and I love enormous piles of money. Sue me. Yes, I totally know this is the wrong answer. w/e

The Primary Message:

Frozen:

You don’t have to shut yourself away just because you are different. Fear is the enemy. You have the power to make a change in your own life

Brave:


Tradition is not always right, love is not always prescribed, you deserve to make your own way and find your own happiness and you are strong enough to do it.

Tangled:

Follow your dreams because the life you know now may not be at all what you think it is. Don’t let anyone else hold you back from what you need in life.

WINNER: TANGLED

Another contentious one. I realize this may not be a popular choice.

The Conflict:

Frozen: 

Girl grows up isolated and in fear of herself, shuts herself off to the world, while the other sister tries to break through. Has to learn to treat herself with the kindness and respect she deserves.

Brave:

Girl stands up for herself when confronted with having to get married. Has to learn about compromise and love.

Tangled:

Girl grows up isolated in a freaking tower, has to break free of what has been a “normal” life for her thus far and venture out into a new world to pursue her dream.

WINNER: FROZEN (since I gave the last one to Tangled).

The “Prince”:

Frozen:

Honestly? He’s nice and everything, but just an outline of a character. Meh.

Brave:


Winning. Don’t need no suitor.


Tangled:

I love Flynn Rider, I love everything about him. EVERYTHING. I. Love. Him. He might be one of my favorite Disney characters of all time.

WINNER: TANGLED

I almost want to give this to Brave, because it is so important for girls to know that they do not need a boy to be happy. ACTUALLY, I change my answer. NEW WINNER: BRAVE

In Tangled, though, our runner up, it is important to note that you can’t judge someone by their reputation alone, and that trust is very important in life, when given due reason.

This also isn’t to discount Kristoff. Of all the Disney men so far, he GETS consent and politeness and feminism. Rad.

The Weapon:

Frozen:


Ice Powers. Um, that is all need be said.

Brave:


Fantastic bow and arrow.


Tangled:


Frying pan.

WINNER: BRAVE

The bow and arrow is something Merida worked hard at her entire life, and more importantly, when it came right down to the fight scene, you saw that even her years of dedication and practice couldn’t fell such an evil beast. She needed to come together with her loved ones, and use her wits to conquer.

The Ice Powers and the Frying Pan are both close runners up, though.

Elsa has to learn to use and wield those powers similar to how Merida used the bow, and simply looking at these three, having Ice Powers clearly beats every-freaking-other-thing. But yeah, they’re no good if you don’t know how to use them.

The frying pan is the opposite of the Ice Powers. Rapunzel has no skills, no powers, has never practiced any form of defense, and yet she uses what is on hand to best her opponent. Not bad.

The Sequence:

Frozen:

Too much emotion at the beginning without enough backstory, too many songs in a row, and after Let It Go there is not much to hold a viewer’s interest.

Brave:

Better than Frozen in terms of pacing, but it lags in some places, and sometimes the sad feels are too close to the other feels to make a clean transition.

Tangled:

 Perfect. Good pacing, good layout. Unfortunately, of the three it is the weakest in content. But we’re grading sequence here, so that doesn’t matter.

WINNER: TANGLED

The Most Important Relationship:

Frozen:

Sister-sister

Brave:

Mother-daughter

Tangled:

Romantic

WINNER: BRAVE

Sorry, guys, I’m just feeling the mom-daughter relationship more than I feel the sister-sister. I think it was much better development, better paced, and more involved. It required fewer assumptions and was explicit in its growth throughout the movie.

The Advisor:

Frozen:


What a jerk, amirite? This guy is truly the reason for all the trouble in this whole movie. You’ve got time to sing a whole stupid song about fixer uppers, but can’t give the KING better advice than ‘she’s dangerous, but fear is your enemy’? No thanks.


Brave:



Only MILDLY above the troll king in terms of overall douchiness. She’s a teenager. Give a girl some direction, eh? At least, though, the Bear Witch tries to help in her way.



Tangled:

He’s bland and a bit boring, but aren’t all consciences?

WINNER: TANGLED

By default, though. The other two were just horrific.

So, okay, if we tally these up…

Looks like, by my count, we’ve got five for Brave, five for Tangled, and three for Frozen.

But if you weigh in the overall message girls in particular should take with them going forward, that gives Frozen a few extra points.

LEAVING US WITH A TIE, GUYS, OKAY?

All that work, just to tell you these movies are tied for awesomeness on the point scale.

HOWEVER.

Tangled for life, yo.

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Things I did wrong today

I do a lot of things wrong every single day, as a parent and a person. Lest you think my days ever go any different, I thought I’d break this one down for you. AHEM. Things I did wrong today:

1) I made the girls make their own beds. (Like they do every damn day. Not sure why today it made me the meanest mommy, but there you have it.)

2) I wasted my time driving 20 minutes to campus and 20 minutes back for a 20 minute meeting with a professor that gave me no insight as to how to run a focus group. This also cost me $20 for a babysitter. I guess 20 is the magic fail number. (Should have gone with a list of specific questions, for sure.)

3) While I was there, I accidentally reminded him that the assignment for the paper due today wasn’t open. (SORRY GRAD CLASS, I TOTALLY DIDN’T MEAN TO DO THAT.)

4) I didn’t have any red or orange Tootsie pops when I got home. The scandal.

5) I had to write an entire paper meaning that 1) I couldn’t play with the girls as much as they NEEDED RIGHT THIS SECOND and 2) I couldn’t let them play the Doge game.

6) I introduced them to the Doge game (technically yesterday’s mistake, but damn if I didn’t feel it today.)

7) My lap is too small for two five year olds.

8) I made one ice cream cone “wider” than another ice cream cone.

9) I dared to talk to another adult in the presence of the twins.

10) I handed my paper in late. (Also, it’s the worst paper I’ve written this semester. Oh well.)

11) I gave one twin two more pieces of popcorn than the other twin. They know because they meticulously counted each five different times.

12) I forgot to defrost the dinner meat. Again.

Ordinary flowers by day…EMERGENCY DEFROST WEIGHT by night.

13) I bought the sausage that has too much gristle again.

14) I let my kids stay up until 10 p.m. watching Full House.  I did this because:

15) I posted on FB that I preferred Tangled to Frozen. Which resulted in this:

16)

 Because for fuck’s sake, DON’T mess with Frozen.

Oops.

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12 Things Feminists Still Have To Deal With

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

Look, feminism is a squidgy topic these days. Now that we can vote and own property and work and stuff, what’s the problem, amirite? Do we really need to keep “making people aware” of the stereotypes perpetuated and marginalization of women in modern society? Doesn’t everyone already know? And if they do know, doesn’t that make it  individual choice ? And if women are choosing to live in certain ways and enjoy certain things, isn’t that what the main push of first and second wave feminism was about anyway? Haven’t we won?

Yes and no.

I mean, we really do have a bigger box, and it is a lot cozier in here now that we’ve been allowed to decorate (see what I did there?), and it would be kind of nice to just stretch out in here and bask in how far we’ve come. We deserve a break from all…

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What They Don’t Tell You About Anxiety

When “demons” are depicted in scripts or drawings, they tend to follow the same trope. You’ve got your protagonist, seemingly fine, walking along, and following her, there are these entities. Sometimes these are actually drawn beings to personalize the “demons”, sometimes they are simply words trailing the protagonist. Things that sometimes don’t reach the ears, but sometimes catch up, and take hold.

This image is incorrect (for me). Anxiety can be far trickier than this. While I understand the benefits of drawing it like this, since it indicates the anxiety is not you but instead something that hinders you,  in reality it’s not a physical entity (even an imaginary one.) It’s not even a voice. It’s not words. God, that it were words. I can beat the shit out of words. I do words. But no. For me, anyway, it’s not messages following me around only to jump onto my back from behind a tree at random points.

It is inside of me. It is feelings. It has no drawable, relatable comparison. Which is  interesting because you cannot conquer something like that. Which leads to anxiety about anxiety. Awesome.

It’s taken me a very long time to even accept that I have anxiety. Since it doesn’t seem to me like a voice or demon following me around, but instead seems like, well, me, I’ve been very strict my whole life about kicking its ass. About kicking my own ass. When I feel like this, I don’t shut down. I run harder. Because I hate weakness, and this is weak.  (Keep in mind, this is before I knew what it was.) To me, it didn’t seem like something affecting me, like something paralyzing me. It felt like me doing that to myself. And fuck that, I am stronger than that. I ignore my stupid-ass self, because, no. I just will not give in to this fucking nonsense. So that I never look like this:

…because I just tell myself to shut up. And if you can just tell yourself to shut up and continue to function normally, even though (and the bottom panel is pretty spot on) there is some shit literally vomiting on your head, then you can’t have anxiety, right? I mean, look at how much I do in a day? I do so much. There is a reason. If I’m still moving, I won’t stop. If I stop, those feelings, that me, myself, those nerves welling up in my chest like a volcano of I-don’t-even-know-what-the-fuck-it-is because I’m too afraid to stop and listen to it, well, they’ll all get bigger, and harder, and seem important. To me, the only thing to do is to continue to tell yourself these feelings are bullshit and not important.

And that works for a little while. Until you throw up. Until you get migraines so unbearable strong that even you, the girl who stops for nothing, cannot move. Until you lose who you are entirely, and are just surrounded by dark.

So, perhaps, then, not the best solution…

 
And sometimes, in a twist so unfair it can make you cry, your children inherit this bullshit you’ve never given any thought to, and never tried to straighten out because you’re just so strong, guys. Look. No problem here.
 
I have a daughter who is pretty anxious. And I’m giving her my coping mechanisms. My shitty-beyond-belief, non-working, coping mechanisms. And I’m angry. And I’m scared. I’m angry at myself for giving this to her, even though I had no control over it. I feel like it is my fault. I’m so angry, it’s hard to explain. It’s just like one more hugely important way I failed. And this time, I didn’t fail me. I failed my child. Just by having a genetic code. How’s that one for you? I’m scared because I don’t know how to handle it. I want to make it go away, but I don’t want to be cruel to my child the way I’m cruel to myself. I don’t want to teach her to be cruel to herself, either. And yet, it’s already started.
 
It’s already started because I do not know what else to do. These things just fall out of my mouth because it is the way of the world, the way of me, and my kid is only five, and Jesus, what am I going to do?
 
In this comic, I am the squirrel. She is the bird.
 
 

“We don’t have time for this. Suck it up for right now, and deal with your wall later.”

That’s fine when I’m talking to myself. I either take a bulldozer to the damn wall, or push it aside “for later” then never come back to it, until it comes up my esophagus in a fit of physical rage over not being dealt with. No biggie. It is what it is.

But, I mean, just this morning, my daughter was having trouble leaving the house for our walk to school. She’d either imagined or actually seen a spider blocking her path, and couldn’t move. She tried to tell me about the spider. My response? “We don’t have time for this. There is no spider, and if there is, it’s not going to bother us. LET’S GO, ALREADY.” And I pushed her along out the door, and she cried for the first part of our walk.

So, way to go, mom. Awesome job. We got to school on time (barely), but at what cost? And how often do I tell her to ignore her anxieties or that her thoughts are not important? Do I realize them all? Probably not. I’m basically ruining my own child every minute of the day.

Do you see those “demons” in the above paragraphs? They’re not voices following me around. They are feelings without names, worries without cause. And they’re not vocal. I can’t hear them as if they are talking to me. They are me. It just is what it is what it is. This is reality, not something from which you could run, You can’t detach it, or stop it. Because if you stopped it, you would stop life. This is life.

Another wonderful part of this is that I am on high alert all the time. You know how when something really intense is happening and your fight-or-flight kicks in? That’s me from the second I wake up to the second I fall asleep. This made me a great fit for the newsroom. Do you have any idea how nervous news producers are? I looked like a beacon of calm. Or at the very least, I looked normal. And since there was ostensibly a reason for this stress (you’re live in five minutes, your show is 2.5 minutes over, half your video isn’t cut and your sat shot isn’t up yet). In the newsroom, you don’t have to explain why you’re so intense. And even in real life, people seem to understand that deadline work requires a certain ethic and they respect your quirks due to that. In essence, the way you are is validated. Not so much as a stay at home mom. Without the reasonto be nervous, you lose your base. It becomes something you need to think about because it doesn’t fit your lifestyle.

And being constantly on high alert frays your nerves and patience. My reactions are too strong for real life. So that when I interact with my children, I come on too strong. And the anxious one? She is so sensitive and perceptive, she can pick up on cues I don’t even know I’m giving off. It’s a horrid cycle.

I combat this by controlling everything I do, packing everything in, being as efficient as possible. I keep thinking maybe if I could succeed at something, anything, maybe then I could calm down, get off my own back. But, unfortunately, I’m learning that’s not how this works.

Very dishearteningly, I came across this:

If that’s true, I’m in a lot of trouble. Controlling the world had been one of my main coping mechanisms.

One final thing, thinking about this, trying to fix it, makes it worse (hopefully in the short term?!). I’m only allowing this analysis because of my child. I want better for her.

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Maria Kang Redux

Guys, I’m so sick of us. Aren’t you sick of us? Here we write, day in and day out. Someone writes one thing, another person disagrees with it and writes his or her response, then another, then another ad nauseum.

And if any of us are ever good enough, sometimes we’ll get recognized for our polemics, but does it ever do anything. Does it ever help anyone other than our own egos? And I am a huge offender, don’t get me wrong. I will respond the shit out of each and every opinionated blog post and movement I come across. Because it’s what I do. I see something, it makes me angry, and I have a platform on which I can yell about it. So I do and I will continue to do so. And I also get that awareness is important. I’m a huge proponent of using language precisely and correctly and fighting the little fights as hard as we fight the big ones, for human rights in all forms. In fact, right now, I have a list of about twenty things that happened recently that I have to write up, because God forbid the internet not have my opinion on it.

But gosh, isn’t it so tiring, though?

Let’s run through the process:
Write a thing.
Write lots more things.
People share some of those things.
Some of the things that were shared get picked up on aggregates.
People write responses to those things picked up.
People write responses to those responses.

Every single point of view is thoroughly explored with lots of feels and capital letters, and very little research. Journalism is dead. It’s all feelingism now, and while I love that because it means I don’t even have to do much work, I can just vomit emotion all over the page, I also hate it because it’s boring, it brings nothing new to the table, it convinces no one, and honestly, it’s not even any good.

Take Maria KangMy favorite.

It was back in the early fall of 2013 that she went viral. And I wrote at the time a pretty popular response to her patent nonsense. There were response pictures, blogs, people defending themselves, people defending Maria, you name it. She got on the news, and on the talk shows, and kicked off facebook and the whole bit. Because even legitimate news organizations no longer understand what news is. It’s all about clicks. And she gets clicks, so rock on.

Only now it’s March of 2014. And being intelligent, she’s done what any person would have done with the attention, and she’s marketed. Well, no kidding. How is this news? If I were her, I would be doing the exact same thing. So, okay, she’s pretty much a jerk who refuses to see the harmful implications of “What’s your Excuse?” Do we really need to hash through all that again? We REALLY need to go over the link between psychological wellbeing and health again? We need to yell at her some more, or defend her some more?

Worst of all, we need people like this lady using the whole thing to piggyback to online mom bullying line, again?

I mean, honestly, since MK’s decided to insert herself into the news, I’ve seen the countless new articles. I’ve read about her new stuff. It’s not new. I’d write a response, but all I have to do is link to my old one. There is nothing new here.

And the only person who stands to make a buck or a name off Maria Kang is Maria Kang. So can everyone just stop trying? I am so bored with it.

You know what I’m not bored with? Action. We need to take all this pent-up angst we use to poop on each other with, and do something with it.

In this particular case, I’ve turned We Don’t Need an Excuse into my thesis. I’m doing research right now to help concretely tie the psychological effects of this campaign to health negatives. Because as I’ve said before, it isn’t about Maria. It is about the messages we send to people. And about the types of people who subscribe to those messages and what it does to them.

I’m not saying we all need to be out on the ground doing volunteer work or whatever. Blogging is great, it’s fine, it’s good. Let’s go at it. You all know I do. I’m just saying, can we get some new material, though? We already had this fight, and I haven’t heard one new thing about it. Let’s figure out where we go from here, not stomp all over where we’ve already been.

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It Is Not Your Business What Other People Spend Their Tax Returns On

I’m constantly telling my twins, “look, when you give something away, it’s no longer yours. It belongs to the person you gave it to, and you should be happy you were able to make them so happy.” Sharing is a big deal in this house, and it’s hard. I get it. You don’t want to give away what you think is yours. And when I make them share, it’s as if this big unfair, stupid hand is forcing them to do what they least want to do. Then they’re supposed to be happy about it. (Or at least shut up about it.) But, they’re living in my house, and we have a system and to live here peacefully, we all have to obey the rules of that system. Sure they can tantrum about it. But that just makes them look silly, selfish, and like babies.

With that said, I give you this:

 
What is it about tax return time that turns people into such jerks? Do we not understand how taxes work? If you got $500 back, and someone you know who “doesn’t work as hard” gets thousands back, you realize that if they got less back, you still wouldn’t get more back, right?
 
As much as we hate to believe it in the “It’s mine, all mine, it should ALL be mine” frenzy that is tax return season, the system we have in place is there for a reason, and when we sign up to make our living in the United States, we sign up to give up a lot of our money into the system. The poor people aren’t stealing your money, middle-class folks. Again we’re caught up in blaming the wrong people.
 
If you have children, you get more money back. Because you need it. I know that people without children think they need it, too, but this is the exact reason we don’t all rule ourselves in little kingdoms of one. If you want to change the tax brackets, change them up not down. More money should be put in from those at the top (sorry, dudebros, success sucks a little bit, but here’s a secret: It doesn’t suck nearly as much as failure), not less being taken out by the bottom.
 
And remember, please remember, it’s not your money and poor people didn’t take it from you.
 
The government takes it to provide a nice society for all of us, and depending on your particular needs any given year, they give you some of it back because lol, oops, we accidentally took all your money and held it hostage all year.
 
Here’s the second part, if someone is ever lucky enough to bring in thousands of dollars in tax return money, you don’t get to be the tax return police.

Repeat after me: It is not your business what other people spend their money on.

I already know what you are going to say so here:

1) It is their money. Period. I don’t care if you think they “earned” it or not. You don’t get to make that call. If you want to make that call, go become the head guy of the IRS or something. You don’t get to decide who deserves money and who doesn’t just because you’re someone’s neighbor or aunt or pseudo-friend.

2) It’s not your business even if you (wrongly) think they’re using money you personally put into the system. It is a gift. We are sharing. These people need it. You don’t get to give and then cry about it without looking silly, selfish and like a baby. (see above).

Images like the ones above are inflammatory hyperbole, meant to section the middle-class against the poorer classes. And they work easily because those in different classes, even in the United States have no idea how the other people live. We live and breathe the stereotypes given those people.

Earlier in the week, I was involved in a “discussion” about this image on facebook. Many people agree with this picture and raise their hands all rah-rah style about how effed up it is that poor people get to have new phones and toys and clothes at tax return time, when they (the working middle class) are stuck with the same old iPhone model they’ve had for two whole years now.

I want to dissect a bit of the argument here, in hopes that you will change your mind about whether or not it is your business when a poor person buys their child a tablet or takes a trip to Disney World on their tax return money. I will use real things said in that FB thread to preserve the reality and ensure I’m not putting words in the other side’s mouth. They are unchanged in spelling, grammar and sense-making.

Argument 1:

“theres some ppl down the street who have 3 kids all different dads, the wife is a waitress and the step dad is hiding on the sofa waiting on an insurance settlement so, as the 10 yr old tells me they can be rich… they got 7k back in taxes,,, the mom took pics of all the kids holding the money on a tablet and the kid showed me… and like most ghetto folk, they all got there nails and hair did, went clothes shopping and of coarse they all got new phones… instead of fixing up there shitty house.. or saving for a new car or something..”
Problems:

1) Three kids, all different dads. We’re talking about tax returns here. This information about paternity is unnecessary. It holds no meaning in terms of how much money the woman receives for care of her children. It serves only to strengthen the poverty-stricken, single-mom-whore stereotype, and provides a mediocre means for snap judgments. Can’t keep your legs shut? Clearly don’t deserve money to care for your kids. Since OBVIOUSLY they are unwanted mistakes that you made because you’re stupid and wanton. Only that’s not the case at all, and shut the hell up. Jesus.

2) The step-dad is hiding on the sofa waiting on an insurance settlement. Okay, first of all, how do you hide on a sofa? My kids tried that when they were little and I, like, found them every damn time. Secondly, this is rather vague and non-sensical. Like, so what? He’s not allowed an insurance settlement? You think insurances are just bending over backward trying to give money to people? If he’s getting a settlement, he’s most likely legitimately injured in a way that eveninsurance companies have to acknowledge. So why won’t you? I give you a D- for trying to insinuate laziness and lack of desire to work without actually knowing anything about the situation and mixing stereotype with something you think you saw or heard.

3) so, as the 10 yr old tells me they can be rich. You know what rich means to a poor ten year old? Rich means he can fucking afford school lunch, yo. Do not use a child’s definition of wealthy to determine how much or little a family who “doesn’t deserve it” is going to pull in from their “obviously shady insurance dealings”. Secondly, any damn thing comes out of kids’ mouths, dude. My kids will walk around telling strangers on the street we’re poor because I wouldn’t buy them a Tootsie Pop. Chill.

4) the mom took pics of all the kids holding the money on a tablet and the kid showed me… and like most ghetto folk, they all got there nails and hair did, went clothes shopping and of coarse they all got new phones… instead of fixing up there shitty house.. or saving for a new car or something. Yes, God forbid poor people get to post pictures of something nice they got. They
not only don’t deserve to buy it, they certainly don’t get to show their friends that they’re attempting to live a real-person life. And those tablets won’t teach the children how to function in the technological age, those phones won’t be used to upload resumes or conduct job interviews, the hair and nails certainly won’t help them look presentable to a potential employer. Ever hear of “Dress for Success”? Not to mention, in order to make life-long, durable changes, people need the self-confidence to do it. No one is going to be able to succeed if they feel like a piece of shit all the time. And “ghetto folk”? “Most ghetto folk?” GTFO.

Now, let’s say these people really did get $7K back in taxes. Why should they throw it into a house that is falling apart? That’s a money suck. They would get literally nothing for that money if they sunk it into their house. “Saving for a new car.” New cars cost at least $20K. Where are they going to get the rest of the money for that? They could buy a used one, but then that one will break and you’d still judge them for their shitty car. Oh, and if they did get a new one? You’d judge them for getting a new car. They cannot win.

Argument 2: 

“u guys obviously live surrounded by suburbia bliss and think everyone on maury is an actor… when you already have an iphone and buy the latest one..not just for you but your 10 and 11 yr old kids have a new iphone… mean while their teeth are rotting out their heads and crooked…  . . . and I have nothing against being a waitress.. i was one for 6 years… the thing is i never meet a single one that claims all their tips that’s why they get more back if they have kids… its looks like they make minimum wage… come spend a day in new orleans and just people watch.. 4yr old kids in diapers playing in a garbage can and dirty street water living in a roach infested apt. w/ no a/c while dads in jail and mom is on every assistant program there is dressed to the T. herself.. hair, nails designer clothes… arguing out side w/ some man cussing up a storm calling the little kids all kinds of horrid names in front them.. idk how many times me and another neighbor called cps on those ppl…. and every time the cops came to pick up one of the parents or revive the mom for a drug overdose for the 6th damn time, they never once took the kids… i guess the system doesn’t care about black kids…”

 
1) u guys obviously live surrounded by suburbia bliss and think everyone on maury is an actor. Not sure how sticking up for people in a low tax bracket equals suburbia bliss, to be honest.
 
2) mean while their teeth are rotting out their heads and crooked..Bad teeth are genetic, not necessarily linked to poverty, but caring for bad teeth takes much more time and money than an iPhone. $5,000 for braces, another $5,000 for teeth pulled, root canals, crowns, etc. Remember they probably don’t have dental insurance and all that is due up front. Plus, it’s a process whereby they have to get to the dentist routinely, during working hours, and spend hours getting things tightened, adjusted and fit right. Plus, it’s a risk, because each time, that shit costs more money, and being poor, the tax return money will most surely be gone well before the three years of teeth repairs are done, and then how are they going to pay for it?
 
3)  and I have nothing against being a waitress.. i was one for 6 years… the thing is i never meet a single one that claims all their tips that’s why they get more back if they have kids… its looks like they make minimum wage… That’s because they do. I wouldn’t claim my tips, either. Restaurants pay well below minimum wage to account for this. Don’t worry about the restaurants. They’re getting theirs.
 
4) I’m not even touching that last bit because eff you. I require citation. I’ve been to New Orleans, I’ve walked in the bad areas. Citation needed, please. What I will say is this:
 
You’re right, the system doesn’t care much about black kids. It’s a huge problem and one you complaining about them getting money you don’t get isn’t going to fix.


Argument 3: (when told it’s not her business)

“it is if your kids are at my house asking for food and other shit… your right next time i’ll tell them, look your hungry go home its not my business… i see a dude screaming at a 3 year old to shut the fuck up or he’ll beat the piss out of him..i’ll just mind my business.. and when he kills the kid i will feel perfectly fine having not done something sooner…just like u… uh no… look you live in your bubble of selfishness and i’ll watch out for the kids..”

1)  your right next time i’ll tell them, look your hungry go home its not my business… You need to pick a side, middle class. Either you care about the welfare of the children or you do not. But threatening to start withholding the food you obviously begrudge the children you’re giving it to because some people on the internet told you it wasn’t your business what the family spent their tax money on is asinine and ludicrous and makes you look like the worst of both worlds. Either you want them to have food and money or you don’t. This goes triple for the assault situation. You’re mixing your arguments and trying to muddy the point and it does not behoove you. If the people are bad off, and you’re that mad about it…help them.

This reply on the thread says it better than I can:

“If you’re going to extend a helping hand to kids that’s great but if you can’t do it without being a judgmental asshole about their parents then you’re really not doing them any favors, you’re just doing what you can to make yourself feel better for being a judgy douche. I was one of those kids, and I know how it feels to have someone “helping,” me while judging the fuck out of my mother for our shitty station in life and guess what, I HATED people like you growing up, even if they were trying to “help” us. You know what it did? It made me not want to ask anyone for help. Ever. Because I knew that they were going to judge us.”

AND NOW FOR THE GRAND FINALE.

After going back and forth over this for a long chunk of primo Oscar-watching time, the final comment ends with this:

i have a 100$ phone.. a cracked nook and drink wine out the box… but my house is paid for.. no mortgage..and so are both my cars… so there is a bit of info for you all to make assumptions about… have fun with it..

 
All of that judgement, that hate, that vitriol, all of that incredibly hardened and stereotyping behavior…it all comes down to her being angry that she has to live with a $100 phone, a cracked nook and boxed wine. And her husband works 6 days a week, 12 hours a day for them to be able to afford even that, according to her.
 
And that’s it. That’s it right there. That’s what’s wrong with everything. The middle class hasnothing, gets nothing, is nothing. And someone, somewhere, convinced them to blame it on the poor people.
 
You are fighting the wrong enemy. Look up, not down. It’s the extremity of the capitalist society that has whittled away the last shreds of middle-class dignity. It’s the exorbitant tax breaks and ridiculous tax write offs of the rich that contribute to this, not the attempt to dole out what is left fairly, in accordance to tax bracket and income.
 
Your boxed wine isn’t your neighbor’s fault, dude. It’s your husband’s boss’s boss’s. Let’s start there. Can we go back to the beginning of it all and just start there?
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Recipe Monday – Lemon Spice Mahi Mahi

This has been the most delicious way I’ve yet prepared Mahi Mahi.

4 mahi mahi filets, about 6 ounces each

Seasoning (see instructions):
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Dried dill weed
Lemon pepper
Sweet Hungarian paprika

1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter, divided use
1/2 cup sweet white wine (may substitute fish or chicken broth) … I used broth. I needed the wine.
Juice of half a lemon (reserve other half for garnish)
1/2 teaspoon honey mustard

Preparation:
Rub each mahi mahi filet with olive oil, then sprinkle both sides of the fish lightly with each of the listed seasonings. 

Preheat broiler on high. 

Place a large, heavy, oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter, swirling to combine and coat the pan. Sear filets until golden brown on one side. Remove to a platter. Add wine, lemon juice, and honey mustard to the hot skillet. Whisk, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until liquid is slightly reduced and thickened. Whisk in remaining tablespoon of butter. 

Return fish to the skillet, uncooked side down, and place in the broiler 6 inches from the heat. Broil 8 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Serve with pan sauce and garnish with lemon slices, if desired. 

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