Category Archives: rants

Heat Advisory: Send Out The Kids

Something just happened that made me livid.

I had Buffy on her leash, and these two kids greeted me as I walked out the door. One asked me if I would take a tract. I took it as Buffy zoomed down the stairs to the grass to pee, and when she was done with her various business, I headed back up the stairs.

The kids were still there, dripping sweat and knocking on doors.

They asked where I lived, so I told them, and they wanted to ask me some questions on the tract.

I had read it while waiting for the puppy to do her puppy excrement things, and there was nothing on there I wanted to discuss, even with a couple of kids. As politely as I could, I told them that my life had taken a different path and offered them some water, which they declined.

“They have you out in this heat?” I asked them.

“Yeah, last summer was bad too.” They kind of laughed it off, but they were sweating through their shirts.

Not only were they out here distributing tracts, but they were doing so for a church that isn’t even in Maryland. It’s in West Virginia. What?

There was a phone number on the tract they gave me. I won’t mention the name of the church because I’m about to rip them up one side and down the other.

First of all, to have children out proselytizing in 106 degree heat is repugnant. Repugnant.

There is a heat advisory in effect until 8:00 pm tonight. Exposure to extreme heat can cause heat stroke and even death.

Secondly, sending children to proselytize is something of questionable morality to me as well. I could write a dissertation about how I feel about a child’s role in deciding his or her own faith, but now is not the time. Suffice it to say that it’s not the role of children to convince adults what to believe.

Finally? I thought for about thirteen seconds, then I picked up the phone and dialed this church.

A woman answered, voice chipper and polite. For about two seconds.

The moment I explained why I was calling, I could almost see spike-covered walls fly up and smell burning naptha above my head, ready to cover my body with boiling pitch.

This is what I said to her:

“Hi. Erm, I’m calling because two children just came to my door distributing tracts, and it’s over 100 degrees outside. There is a heat advisory in effect, and I feel that it is dangerous to have them out in this kind of weather.”

Her response: “It’s all volunteer-based.”

Me: “They’re children. It’s over 100 degrees.”

Her: “It’s the same as kids playing on the playground right now. Their parents signed permission forms and dropped them off. This was a pre-planned event.”

Me: “I’m sorry. That’s no excuse for them to be out there. I would hope the church would take responsibility for the safety of children put in their care and postpone or cancel events in the case of extreme weather. There are better ways to spread a message.”

Her: “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

What?

Anyone who’s ever had someone give that kind of bullshit apology knows exactly how bullshit it is. That’s not taking responsibility for wrongdoing — and do not mistake me, subjecting children to extreme heat in the name of proselytizing is wrong, wrong, wrong — it’s giving someone the finger.

“What, you don’t like it? Fuck you, then.”

Yeah. Not cool.

Volunteer or not, how much say do you think those kids had in doing this today? I used to be very active in church, and I can count on my fingers the number of times I heard kids their age chomp at the bit to go spread the gospel.  In fact, I can count on my fist.

Because uh, NEVER. Even in a thriving church like I used to attend, it was the parents saying, “Yep, you’re going to share Jesus with the heathens.” (They didn’t put it quite like that.)

Having kids hike up and down stairs going door to door to distribute tracts is not the same as playing on a playground — which, if I had kids, I wouldn’t allow during a heat advisory either — it’s more irresponsible and downright endangering them.

So am I supposed to believe these kids were sent out there on their own free volition? Apparently. Apparently I’m expected to think they waved their little hands around, hoping to be picked for the honor of such a mission.

Shame on their parents, and shame on their church.

Tired

Okay, I gotta complain for a second.  Sorry.

I am so tired of being tired all…the…time. I’m sure the long-term effects of sleep deprivation are somewhat as serious as alcoholism or drug abuse.  Possibly zombification. Basically, I’ve been living on 2-4 hours of sleep a night every weekday for the past nine months, and my body is just shutting down.  I am beginning to fall asleep pretty much anywhere, only to be startled awake half the time by pounding waves of anxiety and a bitter taste in my mouth.  I get headaches every day.  I’ve gotten three migraines in the last six weeks.  This is not normal.  This is not good.

I consider myself lucky if I manage to get six or seven hours of sleep in a night.  Even on weekends it’s hard for me to sleep soundly and wake up rested because the anxiety is so bad.  I can’t relax.  It’s been like this for months.  I only have three more weeks to make it through.  I hope I can manage it.  It’s to the point that I can’t sit down on my bed after work without falling asleep.  I managed to make it three days this week without napping like that and got a little extra sleep, but then last night I tossed and turned until 4 again, and bam, I’m back in the pain cage.

I sincerely believe that some of us are not built for mornings.  And the world is not built for us.

zombies, gender stereotyping, and really soggy feet

so today finds me contemplating any number of important factoids.  for instance, i’ve remembered precisely why i gave up on white socks so many years ago (my feet got soaked and the socks got stained/ruined), discovered quite the fascinating array of fungi to appear after a maryland rainstorm, and have guzzled nearly a gallon of green tea, which is a lot.

but onto more important things.  this blog entry will encompass two very important subjects that have been weighing heavily on my mind in recent days, so do prepare yourself for some deep thinking.  i’ll go in alphabetical order, and since both subjects find themselves rather toward the end of our 26-letter string, we’re starting with w.

women in pop culture
can i just say….annoying?  i can’t count the number of times i’ve sat down to watch a movie recently and been utterly pissed off by the obnoxious depiction of 21st century women.  allow me to sum up.  according to hollywood right now, women are:  whiny, overbearing, controlling, manipulative, obsessed with fashion, obsessed with shopping, vapid, obsessed with shoes, obsessed with being attractive to men at the expense of their personality and individuality, and generally really fucking annoying.  the message is that women only care about securing a man, pussy whipping him, and then keeping him on a leash and forcing him to give up his hobbies whilst she whines about shoes and spends hundreds of dollars on pointless designer crap.  and whines in general.  where on earth do these women come from?  i suppose they exist in real life.  actually, i know they do.  but we’re not all like that, for god’s sake.

i saw the hangover last night.  after the first scene involving stu’s girlfriend melissa, i cringed.  when phil made some pompous remark about getting away from his wife and kid, i cringed more.  doug’s fiancee had this martyred, pitiful expression in the opening scene as well.  i braced myself for a movie that would continue to depict that women are nothing but clingy, whiny creatures who wish nothing more than to keep their husbands/boyfriends from having any amount of fun whatsoever, to the point that to escape their grasping tendrils, the poor, downtrodden men must lie to get away.  i was pretty relieved that it didn’t really go that way and ended up being an awesome movie, but it made me think about how a lot of women have been portrayed in movies lately and in pop culture in general.

is that how we want to live, women?  really?  i for one don’t want to ever be those women.  i never want to be so insecure in myself that feel the need to curtail my significant other’s life in order to feel like i’m in control.  i’m my own person.  i don’t want to be defined by a relationship — god, no — i want a relationship in which i’m more a partner in crime than a distressed damsel.  i’ve never been one for damseling.  what on earth is wrong with being yourself?  i do desire love, but it’s not all i desire.  and i believe pretty firmly that if you’re being yourself, doing your thing, you’ll meet people who like you for you.  that’s the most important bit.  too often i think people (not just women, this applies to men as well) try so hard to fit themselves into a mold they perceive as attractive to the opposite sex that they lose themselves and end up miserable and misunderstood.  i mean, what on earth do they expect in that scenario?   i’ve done it before.  i only hope i’ll never be stupid enough to do it again.

i’m intensely fed up with seeing women in movies who have no aspirations greater than obtaining the newest louis vuitton handbag.  how utterly assinine it makes them look.  women are so much more than that.  i would love to see a movie with women having an adventure that doesn’t revolve around fashion or shoes or whining about men.  in fact, i’d like to see a bromance style comedy where the women are fun, interesting, and there for the ride, not sitting at home with a quivering lip wondering why their significant others would rather be off doing anything (and anyone) but them.  look at the cool women in movies — princess leia is a perfect example.  she’s got a mind of her own.  she’s doing her thing, trying to save her world, having an adventure.  she doesn’t take any shit, but she doesn’t try to beat anyone down, either.  and the untameable han solo doesn’t have to get tamed.  they can have an adventure together…which they do.  that’s what i’m talkin’ about, ladies and gents.  less lovelorn damseling, more independent kickassery.

seen fanboys yet?  zoe is a perfect example of said independent kickassery.  she’s fun, smart, and no-nonsense.  she doesn’t sit in the corner sniveling about how things aren’t going her way; she jumps in the fray and does her thing, not wanting to miss out on the action.  and she’s awesome.  so there.  and for all you dudes out there, which sort of girl would you rather have in your life and your bed?  the one who freaks out if you don’t call her every hour on the hour and only cares about paris hilton and/or gets pouty and resentful when you want to do something cool?  or the one who’s out doing something cool anyway and wants to join in?  in the end, i’ll tie this subject into my next subject by saying that for me, the ideal dude to have around would be someone i’d want by my side (not shielding me and pushing me behind him, mind you) in a zombie apocalypse.

zombie apocalypse
that brings me to the meat of my ruminations for today.  i’ve been reading a pretty kickass book called world war z: an oral history of the zombie war, on loan from someone who — let’s face it — i would actually want around during a zombie apocalypse.  and it’s gotten me thinking.  in case of a zombie apocalypse, one really oughta have a game plan.  because it could totally happen.

this strategy is in its early stages, and it operates on a few basic assuptions:

  • the dead are reanimated due to some scientific phenomena as opposed to metaphysical
  • decapitation will effectively stop a zombie
  • reanimation of corpses will not grant them any sort of preternatural strength or powers
  • the condition will be contagious via saliva or other bodily fluids making contact with a heretofore uninfected person’s bodily fluids (probably biting)

operating on those assumptions, a zombie apocalypse would feasibly take place through the prolific spread of infection, and most of the world would be fucked.  most of the world would panic, and panic would be tantamount to a death sentence.  so here’re my brilliant musings on the subject.

first, be practical.  a massive pandemic of zombies would cause mass hysteria and send people fleeing for the hills.  because of this, the zombies would most likely follow the crowds who would gather and get stuck on blocked interstates.  think rush hour is bad?  put all those people plus some and add a healthy dose of extreme blind panic.  the freeways would be blocked with wrecks in no time at all, and what better place for an all-you-can-eat zombie buffet than streams of people packed up like lunchables in their stationary vehicles?

you’d be better off barricading yourself in a secure location, as most people will flee and get eaten/bitten/otherwise zombified.  it’s not foolproof, but the hordes of undead would be most likely acting only upon sheer primal impulse and driven for one thing only, therefore following the most likely and easily accessible food source:  the fleeing masses.  my rationale for this is that zombies would probably lack any higher brain function, meaning they wouldn’t be able to perform the kind of deductive reasoning that would lead them to go, “golly gee whiz, that thur’s a house.  i bet it’s full of crunchy human delectables just locked away and waiting to be eaten.  come on, guys!  let’s go check it out.”  probably more like, “food run that way.  me follow food.”  so if you have to leave your hideaway at any point, just don’t be a fucking dumbass and lead them back to it if you happen to encounter any of them during your excursion.

so what sort of supplies would you need?  here’s what i’m thinking.  you want function, portability, and efficiency.  obviously food is a given, concentrating on high energy non-perishables.  get a stash of multivitamins and ration them to avoid scurvy or malnutrition.  concentrate on survival first.  fill your bunker with as many supplies of clean water as possible.

in terms of weapons, ranged weapons might be effective, but a gun’s only as good as your aim, and it’ll only last as long as the bullets you have.  firing randomly will accomplish a fat lot of nothing.  a sword on the other hand doesn’t require reloading, and although it does take a certain amount of skill, it’s a lot easier to aim than a firearm.  assuming that zombies would be dependent upon a functioning cerebral cortex, if you can sever the head, the body will die.  messy, but effective.  grenades would probably be a pretty solid idea, but let’s face it — who the fuck has access to military-grade weapons?  besides, an inexperienced person with a grenade has probably just as much chance of blowing his or her own ass to kingdom come as an advancing horde of moaning undead.

a radio is always important, along with a supply of batteries or some other way to charge it in case of electrical failure, which will probably happen.  technicians getting eaten, etc.  some quality rope, a compass, and a good map would be good as well.  basic survival gear is a given.

also, i was thinking about clothing.  if you have to leave your bunker, you’ll want tight fitting clothing with little room for grasping onto so the zombies can’t grab you and bite you.  leather would be good, because the human jaw isn’t really capable of biting through something so tough unless you plan on holding still so the zombies can gnaw through it.  leather pants, jacket, and gloves.  matrix-style.  or, you know.  evil knievel.

so those are my basic survival thoughts in case of a zombie apocalypse.  hunker down, lock yourself up with provisions, only venture out if you must, and never follow the herd — hordes follow herds.  also, get a badass sword and start practicing.  so that’s my plan.  it’s probably got some holes, but what can ya do.  at least i’ve got an idea of what i’d do.  and if worse really does come to worse, well.  you know what they say.  if you can’t beat ’em…a non-life of shambling cannibalism might not be all that bad.  just be sure to go out swinging.

games…and i’m not talking yahtzee.

i am a big fan of old school video games.  my favorites are mario rpg: legend of the seven stars, super mario world, donkey kong country, spyro the dragon for playstation, diablo ii and a few others.  fun stuff.  i like those games.  i like board games.  i still enjoy a good game of candyland or sorry.  apples to apples is hilarious.  i like all sorts of games.

there is one kind of game, however, that i hate.  i despise this sort of game.  loathe it.  stronger than loathe.  can i revile these games?

the kind of games i’m talking about are head games.  they’re games that people play to try and throw someone else off-guard.  really all they are is a power play.  the people who play them feel small, and they want to make themselves feel bigger by putting someone else down.  by trying to show that they have the power.

i see these games a lot in relationships of the romantic variety.  i’m going to list a few of them and bitch about them, because i’m flat sick of seeing them.  i’m not going to sugarcoat anything, and i’m sure as hell not gonna play nice this time, kids.

charades
how to play:  while this may seem self-explanatory, this game involves using every method except speaking to get across a vague, sometimes conceptual meaning.  don’t say what you mean; wave your arms around and expect your partner to get it.

who plays it:  this game is for people who have not progressed past being two years old, and haven’t learned how to communicate like adults.

how to beat it:  use your words like a big boy or girl, and explain what you want to say to your partner so that you can progress past whatever issues you have.  if your partner is playing this game, ask him or her what it is that they want you to understand.  if he or she won’t tell you, well…let them know that when they decide to address problems like an adult, you’ll work on solving them.

tug-o-war
how to play: ah, yes.  love triangles.  how we hate them.  this involves two people yanking on another, each trying to pull her/him over some invisible line to win.  and usually, people don’t play fair.  try to find out weaknesses, wheedle the poor rope to come closer, make a big show when it appears you’re winning, or sometimes outright yell at the other puller to let go.

who plays it:  this game is played by people insecure enough to want to be with someone they know isn’t entirely into them, when they could just wait until they find someone who really thinks they’re special.  also people who, far and above actually having feelings for someone, just have a driving need to win everything.

how to beat it:  let go of the rope.  aside from the obvious glee you can feel when the other puller falls flat on his or her ass, this gives the rope in question the chance to see what it’s like to be yanked in one direction.  he or she can then decide what he or she wants, and if you’re the lucky winner, go you.  if the rope is indecisive, see above, re: finding someone who really thinks you’re special.

shaving cream and a feather
how to play:  so this isn’t a game so much as a practical joke, and this game can have varying degrees of cruelty.  this is when someone purposely puts his or her partner into a situation where the partner cannot avoid getting covered in mess, and then watches while the partner attempts to extricate himself or herself–never ending up clean to the game-player’s satisfaction.

who plays it:  people who either feel so small that they expect everyone they try to be with will behave in the worst possible manner, so they self-fulfill their own prophecy by setting their partner up for failure, or emotional sado-masochists.

how to beat it: communication.  find out what it is that is bothering your partner, and why he or she decided to use this particular method to vent frustration and/or fear.  games like this are emotional manipulation, and if you address the offending partner respectfully and calmly explain your feelings, your partner ought to understand.  if not, and your partner freaks out, wails, and calls you names, maybe you should find someone with an emotional maturity level beyond that of a blueberry scone.

juggling
how to play:  this is when you have more than one ball in the air, as it were.  and these balls probably don’t know about each other.  and each one thinks it’s on its own, just spinning happily through the air.

who plays it: people who are intent on showing that they can manipulate several people at once, therefore making themselves feel all strong and mighty.

how to beat it:  thing is with juggling–you can’t keep them all going forever.  you’re gonna drop them eventually, and then you’ll just look like a class-a jackass.  if that wasn’t already evident.  if you’re one of the balls, and you figure it out, don’t let yourself be thrown around in the air–roll your round little self away.

snipe hunting
how to play:  this is when you’ve been very naughty, so you send someone off looking for something that doesn’t exist just to get the attention off your assholish self.

who plays it:  people who are already in over their heads in sticky situations (into which they waded of their own volition).  they want to get the attention off their own indiscretions, so they try the old bait and switch technique.

how to beat it:  if you suspect your partner has you off hunting snipes, if, for example, you ask an innocuous question, and your partner flies off the handle in a completely absurd direction, ask a blunt question.  this is usually, “are you having an affair?”  if you know your partner well enough, you can probably tell if the answer is a lie.  if he or she is not being dodgy, hopefully at this point, your partner would explain to you if there is something distressing him or her to the point of madness.

boomerang
how to play:  if you are not sure if you want to leave your partner, just do it.  you can always come right back.  again.  and again.  and again.  repeat until insane.

who plays it:  people who want to eat their cake and have it, too.  they’re not really sure if they want to be with you or not, but they know they don’t want to be alone.

how to beat it:  if your partner has half a brain cell to rub against his or her cranium, it’ll be obvious that if you throw a boomerang, it keeps coming back…and eventually, it’ll hit him or her right in the face.  don’t let it get that far, though.  if someone’s leaving and coming back, leaving and coming back, you deserve better than that.  you deserve more than someone who isn’t quite sure.

croquet
how to play:  some people get off on seeing others try to get small objects rolling through the grass and into tiny wire hoops.  some people are assholes.

who plays it: this is played by people who delight in making others bend over backwards to please them.  who like to have someone wrapped around their little finger at all times.

how to beat it:  sit down in the grass and play with a caterpillar, instead.  if your partner is making unreasonable demands of you and expecting that you give 150% when he or she only gives 2%, there is something seriously wrong.  address it.  if they won’t fix it, bounce.  relationships are a two-way street.  good relationships are, anyway.

scavenger hunt
how to play: also known as wild goose chase.  this involves leaving a series of clues that make someone run around in endless circles trying to get to the end.  but there is no end.  this is similar to croquet, in that you’re always running around trying to please your partner.  it’s different in that you have no idea where you’re going next.

who plays it: again, this is played by people who simply cannot be pleased, no matter what you do.  you could most likely gold plate the entire house and serve your partner tiramisu from the polished gem-studded surfaces of priceless ancient relics, and he or she’d get pissed because you forgot to put a doily under it.

how to beat it:  see above.

loaded questions
how to play: this is when you specifically ask questions that you know will start a fight just to feel like you’ve got the bigger balls and make your partner feel small and weak.  bravo, jackass.

who plays it: people who are overcompensating for their own lack of self-esteem.  if they can break you down, they feel better about themselves, especially if you’re a strong person.

how to beat it:  tell your partner you’re not comfortable answering questions that he or she will not answer.  or, in some cases, politely inform your partner that it is your own business.  there are things that you don’t need to disclose, and if you do, it’s your own prerogative.  disclosing those things is a show of trust.  people who play the loaded questions game often will turn around and use the information you give them to rip you to shreds in arguments.

…and that’s it for this blog.  granted, there are a lot of other games that people play with one another.  the bottom line with all of them is that it’s a power play.  usually the game player is insecure in some way, or arrogant and manipulative.   with the former, you can usually address it to some recourse.  with the latter, it’s usually better to just cut and run.

the point is that these games are damaging, hurtful, and in a lot of cases, deceitful.  that’s why i hate them.  they hurt people.  there are plenty of ways to resolve issues that are perfectly healthy.  open communication and trust are vital.  if you’re straightforward, people respect that.  if they don’t respect it, then they’re probably not someone you ought to waste your time on.

the best way to deal with these games that i’ve found is to refuse to play.  just pack up your toys and go home.

tale as old as time: beauty, the beast, and the cycle of abuse

abusive relationships have been on my mind recently.  they’ve been in the news, as well, sparking debate and frankly, some really disgusting commentary.  all my life i’ve seen them.  i’ve seen my mother in emotionally abusive relationships.  i’ve heard of her physically abusive ones.  i’ve watched friends go through them.  and then last year i had the unfortunate experience of dealing with an abusive person myself.

to speak to the current news about rihanna going back to chris brown, there are several things that have cropped up.  people have asked why she would go back to him.  some have said that the sympathy train stops here for them–basically asserting that whatever happens to her now is her own fault.  some have shown anger.  others have been purely baffled.

a metaphor that is often cited is the beauty and the beast story.  a woman meets a man who screeches at her, isolates her, keeps her from her family, maybe even hits her–yet she believes he’s really a good person, and he eventually comes round to reveal a handsome prince.  if you look at it like that, then these women really do look insane.  the problem with that metaphor is that they have it ass-backwards.

it goes a bit more like this:  a woman meets a charming prince.  he’s kind to her, fun.  they go out.  they click.  he’s a gentleman who is interested in everything about her.  time goes on.  she starts falling hard.

flash.  one night, maybe over dinner, he makes a remark.  maybe it’s about her friends–does she really want to be hanging around people like that?  her heart skips a beat, and she sits there, confused for a moment.  oh, he says, it’s just because she is so intelligent and wonderful–her friends are maybe a bad influence.  for a split second, she catches a glimpse of fangs, and then it’s gone, and the prince is back.

then it happens again.  few days later, or a week.  maybe his interest in her life turns into a cross-examination.  he makes a show of being supportive, but he digs everything out of her that he can–and he doesn’t reciprocate.  he tells her he feels like he’s getting to know her really well.  she feels nervous telling him so much, but he’s being so kind.  not judging.

the weeks go by, and things are good.  sure, there’s the occasional glimpse of matted fur or claws, but mostly, it’s just the shining prince.  she’s happy, except for when those flashes come.  sure, he might say something that seems insulting, but he compliments her at the same time, so he probably doesn’t mean it as an insult.  maybe when she’s telling him about her views on politics, he tells her all liberals are loonies–if she is one–but oh, she’s so intelligent…maybe moreso than he.  she’s beautiful and smart.

when it hits, it’s like a lightning strike on a clear blue day.  suddenly, the prince is gone, and there is a ravening beast standing before her.  everything he dredged out of her, everything he gleaned from their weeks or months together is turned into a weapon against her.  he might just use words, or he might use his fists.  but the aim is clear–it’s about power.  he has to break her down.  he uses everything she told him in confidence, and he twists it back on her.

when it’s over, she’s stunned.  what just happened?  that couldn’t have been the same person.  not her prince charming.  he wouldn’t do that.  there must be something wrong with her.  she’s upset and hurt.  she’s crying and lost and confused.

and then the prince is back.  he’s sorry he hurt her–he didn’t mean to, really.  he’s not that guy.  he’s a good guy.  but she set him off somehow; she shouldn’t do that, he says.  he says she hurt him, too, but he forgives her.  why can’t she forgive him?  he’s kind, and he’s nice, and she starts thinking maybe it was all in her head.

you see…there’s nothing wrong with these women.  there’s nothing wrong with me.  the women i know who have been in abusive relationships are strong women.  powerful women.  but when it happens, it’s subtle.  it’s insidious.  it’s manipulative.  it creeps in amidst the compliments, riding on their coattails.  a jibe here, a cruel “joke” there.  little seeds sown against her friends, against her family, against people who would support her and help her get away from him.  it’s gradual, and most of the time, it happens before they know it.  it’s crazy making.  it’s a mind fuck.

it’s holding one of my best friends as she lays crumpled in my lap, sobbing and asking over and over again, “where did the man i fell in love with go?  i can’t find him!  why can’t i find him?  where did he go?”

it’s hearing him scream at my roommate through the phone, almost incoherent in his impotent rage, and seeing her face washed with tears, eyes wild and lost because no words she can say will make him stop.  every answer she gives is the wrong one.  and his anger keeps coming.

it’s my heart pounding in my chest, all the while feeling as though someone’s fist is clenched around it.  it’s tears burning down my cheeks.  it’s weeks of confusion.  it’s telling him no and him not listening.

it’s women all around the world who are having their power stolen from them by tiny, tiny men who cannot feel powerful unless they’re stripping it from someone greater than them.  who can only feel big when they put someone down.  in the end, it’s about control.  it’s about power.

it’s a cycle.  the prince will fade again into the slathering monster, only to return with flowers and champagne when the sunlight comes again.  the only way to break it is to step outside the circle.  to step off the carosel and let that beast go to hell.

it’s that phone call from my best friend, telling me she left him for good.  it’s my roommate kicking him out of her life.  it’s me making the call to him, telling him never to contact me again.

the reason abusers do it is because they feel they have no power, whether consciously or subconsciously.  we have it.  they don’t.  so they try to take ours.  no one wants to be treated like shit.  no one wants to be abused.  it can happen to anyone, from a high ranking ceo to an army officer, to the server at your favorite restaurant.  it’s happened to me.  and people i love.  no one is immune.  the important thing is to learn to recognize those flashes for what they are–warning signs.

at the end of the day, we have to trust our instincts.  listen to what they tell us.  because no one deserves to be treated badly.  we’re worth something much more extraordinary than that.

thoughts on classism in american society

time and time again, i have been astounded when i hear people who vehemently oppose any form of racism, sexism, or other prejudice at every turn make shockingly classist remarks.  “poor people should just get a better job if they want to earn more money.”  “well, you went to college.  why can’t they?”

as someone who grew up in a family that made around $11,000 a year (in the lowest 8% of american earners), i find the blasse attitude toward classism to be offensive and largely  under the radar of the average american citizen.

it’s the mentality that insists that poverty is a product of sloth or lack of trying.  and it is a total crock of shit.  classist mentality is something that is, either consciously or subconsciously, endorsed by american society at large.  in comments that bash people on welfare or try to rip apart social programs, a subtler thought process is revealed.  it suggests, however subtlely, that people who live in impoverished circumstances, just haven’t worked hard enough to get themselves out of it.

this is not to say that opportunity is dead in america, nor is it to say that hard work isn’t necessary to pull oneself out of a dire financial state, but the fact is that opportunity is more readily available and accessible for people who start out in a social class in which their needs are generally met.  for instance, only about 11% of the poorest americans (lowest fifth of earners) ever graduate from college, compared with 53% of the highest fifth.  it stands to reason that the lower the income, the less likely a child is to obtain a higher degree.  this on its own does not necessarily say everything, but when you add to it the fact that the majority of people in the highest fifth of earners will STAY in the highest fifth REGARDLESS of whether or not they complete college, whereas those in lower income brackets will fall to much lower income levels than their parents if they do not complete a post-secondary degree.  with the rising costs of higher education, it is no wonder that impoverished students are finding higher education out of their reach.  for a poor student, their unmet financial need for one year of university will be approximately $4000.  for many, it may as well be four million.

i’ve noticed in the past that people often fail to notice prejudice until they are faced with it.  it’s easy for a white male in america to look around and feel like minorities have every opportunity that he does–but in reality, african american students are about 10% less likely to graduate from high school, latinos even less than that.  women are still paid on average of 17% less than men.  it’s easy for someone who grew up in a middle class family to assume that opportunity abounds for everyone–after all, he or she has most likely had access to opportunities that he or she takes for granted–opportunities that poorer students have to actively perform much more effort to even have a chance at.

when you start out with nothing and have to go into debt to move forward at all, you start at a distinct disadvantage.  my net worth is currently about negative $43,000.  in order for me to simply pay my bills (and this is a conservative estimate, because i pay a minimal amount for rent), i have to have a job that pays at the very least $1400 take home per month.  for someone who graduate from college without the debt i have, $1400 per month is ample.  without my debt, that would leave me an extra $400 per month to save or spend as i saw fit.  as it is, i would barely scrape by.

where other students would be able to put aside money for a home or other large investments, i will need to first pay down my debt before i can think about that–something that will take me years.

the point is, yes, i have improved my lot in life quite a lot, but i have to work twice as hard to get half as far.  and that’s why we need to close the gaps.