Monday, July 18, 2016

The Bear Talk

I've been pretty quiet on the subject of police brutality toward black men, and there are good reasons for that.  First of all, as a middle class, white, Orange County housewife, I don't pretend that I know the struggle of the black man in America, and I haven't felt that I had anything to add to the conversation that wasn't already being said, more eloquently, by people with better credentials. 

 Second, I tend to avoid talking about race, because I...lack sensitivity.  That's not to say that I lack compassion, or kindness.  I am not a racist, but I have an unfortunate tendency to say things that sound awful, in retrospect.  Like the time that I told one of my black friends that I would love to go to the Deep South and tour some of those "beautful old plantation houses".  If you know me well, you know that I only meant that I love and admire that style of architecture, but that statement could easily be interpreted as a longing for the beauty of the slavery days of yore, a-la Paula Deen.  And the time one of my black friends was worried about getting fired and I tried to make a joke about how they can't fire her because she's black and then everyone will think her manager is racist.  That was a bad, bad joke.  Obviously I didn't mean that; I was just trying to make her feel better with my ill-conceived attempt at humor.  But white people can't make jokes like that.  I like to think that living in a racially diverse place for a few years now has cured me of my propensity to say stupid things, but in reality, who knows?  Maybe my black friends all had a meeting and collectively agreed to just ignore me when I talk, and so I just think I'm acting sanely, but in reality I'm still awful.  

See, that right there is something I probably shouldn't have said.  My black friends all had a meeting?  Like they all know each other?  Sigh.  I should be euthanized.

So anyway, I've kept my mouth shut for fear of making everyone hate me.  

But the other day, I heard something interesting.  It was an interview with black parents, discussing how they teach their children - particularly their sons - how to deal safely with the police.  And what really struck me was that, one one level, I could relate to it.  Because I've heard that same talk, just not about the police.

It was about bears.

Like most white people raised in rural areas, I've spent a significant amount of time outdoors.  And I can tell you that basically everyone who has spent a lot of time in the woods has heard the "bear talk" at some point.  Probably from your parents, but maybe from a camp counselor or park ranger.  Regardless, you've heard it.  It goes something like this:

"Bears aren't evil.  They aren't out to get you, necessarily.  In fact, they're an important part of the ecosystem, and we need to respect that.  But you have to be careful if you do come across one, and you have to know how to behave, because sometimes one of them will get a hair up its ass, and it'll attack you.  Especially if it feels like you're threatening it, or its young."

Insert "police" for bear and it's essentially the same exact speech.  And that's pretty fucked up, that for a whole segment of our population, dealing with the police feels like dealing with a large, unpredictable, wild animal.

Now extend that thinking.

The bears have military grade weapons, which they are trained to use with deadly accuracy.  Also, the Bears can call on other bears to come assist them in fucking you up.  And you might be in a place where you wouldn't expect to encounter bears, like a mall, or driving home from work, or walking down the street, but someone might think you're a poacher and will summon the bears to come get you.  And if a bear attacks you, no one will believe you unless you get it on camera, and even then, lots of people will be like, "well, he was probably a poacher, so whatevs."

Now imagine that that is the speech you got about bears.  What would that do to you psychologically, to hear that, to feel that way all the time?  What would that kind of stress do to you?

Again, I don't claim to know what it's like to be black in America.  But I do know that if I had been told that about bears when I heard the bear speech for the first time, I'd be a nervous wreck, and I'd probably not be the biggest fan of bears.

I want to just say here that I don't hate cops, and I don't think they are wild animals bent on murder.  I think the vast majority of cops are normal, hard working people who do a lot of good.  I don't think cops are like, waking up every day super excited to go kill some black people.  And obviously, I don't think cops should be murdered or assaulted, especially when they aren't even the cops who are involved in police brutality incidents.  

But the fact of the matter is, police have a lot of power in our society.  A LOT.  And so a bad, racist cop can do a lot of damage, up to and including murder, and he can get away with it.  Black people from all lines of work and economic classes are telling us the same thing; that they are being profiled and harassed.  That their sons and brothers are dying because of trigger happy cops who see them as threats, simply because of how they look.  And we can't turn a blind eye to it any longer; not when we have actual proof that it's a real and present problem.  

Look.  Because of who I am and how I look, I basically have to run naked down the freeway with a flame thrower to get bothered by the cops, and even then, they'd probably just call someone to come give me a ride home, assuming I'd had one too many mimosas at brunch.  But that doesn't mean I'm willing to dismiss the problems of black people, just because they're not problems I'm likely to have.  I stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, even if they would maybe rather not have me.

I feel like I should do a hashtag here, but I don't tweet, so whatever.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A Blog About Phil, For His Birthday

Normally for Phil's birthday, I arrange a party, complete with cake and other people, but this June has been insane, and I haven't had the time to put anything together, and if I tried, there would be no time to schedule it, until August, at which point it wouldn't be a birthday party at all, just an ordinary party that Phil would be attending, probably.  

So this year, to honor him, I'll be writing a little blog post about him and why he's the Best Person in the World; better than pretty much anyone you can imagine.  Except for his tendency to not use turn signals, which needs improvement.

1) Phil dislikes violence.  Because of his peaceful lifestyle, he probably won't ever have terrifying flashback nightmares where I wake up and he's strangling me and crying.  He's also not likely to get into scrapes where I'm forced to bury his victims and keep my mouth shut for fear of meeting the same fate.  

2) However, Phil is not at all bothered by pretend violence in movies and on TV shows, which is very, very important if you're going to be married to me.  Which he is.

3) He keeps his mouth shut.  I don't mean he keeps secrets especially well; his secret keeping abilities are only slightly above average.  I mean he literally keeps his mouth shut, unlike some men who let their jaws drop open for no reason, making them look mentally defective.  Phil has an intelligent face, and is not at all slack jawed.  Ever.

4) He has extra bones in his feet, as confirmed by an X Ray done by a podiatrist.  I'm guessing this is because he is a more highly evolved type of human.  Nadia's children will probably be able to levitate with their feet.

5) He doesn't threaten me or issue ultimatums.  This is also extremely important if you're married to me, as threats and ultimatums make me angry and creative.  

6) He handles crowds much better than I do.

7) He's not a crybaby.  He's actually quite tough, though he would never describe himself this way.  I'm guessing he's one of those guys who would never crack under torture, if he was a secret agent; he'd just go to sleep and ignore everything, grumbling angrily and rolling away from the cattle prods.  (Notable exception: when Nadia accidentally steps on his genitals.).

8) He never makes me feel bad about it when I'm sick, even when it's an inconvenience to him and I'm being gloomy.  He has a really positive attitude about my health situations.  This is maybe the most wonderful thing about him.  Not all guys would be man enough to handle this stuff.

Are you jealous that I get to be married to him?  You should be.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Worst Breakfast

This is the worst breakfast you could possibly eat.  I'll show you the recipe and picture first, then I'll explain myself.

Alright.  I assume you've taken that in.

First of all, I get that some people like coffee, and believe that they need it to function in the morning.  Bitter vomit flavor is appealing to lots of people.  I don't pretend to get it, but I understand it on an intellectual level.  So on its face, a coffee smoothie sounds like a pretty good breakfast idea.  You're killing two birds with one stone, getting your coffee and nutrition all at once.  But you guys, this is not the way to do it.

All this "smoothie" is is a milkshake.  Read the ingredients again.  It's coffee, ice, dairy and chocolate.  It could be argued that vanilla Greek yogurt is preferable to ice cream, but I raise my eyebrow.  It's basically the same thing.  Sugar, cream, vanilla, in that order.  

This is what will happen if you eat this for breakfast.  You will feel really happy and good while you're drinking it because of all the sugar and chocolate and dairy.  Then you will feel nauseated because you overloaded your body with this after fasting for twelve hours.  The nausea will last until around 10:00, when you will start to feel shaky and weak.  Your brow will break out in a sweat, and you'll start panting, feeling like you're having a panic attack, because your blood sugar is crashing so hard you are now not functional. 

But lunch break is still two hours away!  What are you going to do?  You need some food NOW.  You're now into the angry part of the blood sugar crash, where your heart is full of hatred for everyone around you.  Look at that guy at the copy machine.  He's a worthless piece of shit, isn't he?  Look at him, with those shoes.  Who does he think he is, the stupid motherfucker?  

Now you start rifling through your purse, hoping you've squirreled away a snack of some kind.  And you hit gold!  It's a bag of chocolate coins from that kid's birthday party you went to last weekend.  You confiscated the candy from your child, because you didn't want her to eat it all at once, and you forgot to give it back!  You realize that's a shitty move on your part, and you feel kind of bad about it, but you don't have time to sit around berating yourself for your questionable parenting skills; now is the time to get this crap into your body, with as little chewing as possible.

So you eat this entire baggy of candy.  Your body slowly starts to return to normal, which is a relief.  But then you're nauseated again, because of all the damned sugar.  You hate yourself.  Why can't you remember to pack almonds, like you always say you're going to do?  You even bought a whole bag of almonds, just for that purpose, and you meant to put them in your purse, but you forgot.  Mostly because the idea of sitting and eating plain, raw almonds makes you feel depressed, but also, partially because you honestly forgot.  

The nausea lasts until lunch time, when you're finally able to get a decent meal with protein and vegetables, but until then, you've had a shitty day full of sickness, hatred and guilt.  

So do yourself a favor.  Have some eggs and hash browns like a sane person.  

Friday, May 6, 2016

A Blog About My Daughter, for Mothers' Day

In honor of Mothers' Day, I've decided to write a post about some of the things that make Nadia the Best Little Girl in the World. Without her, Mothers' Day wouldn't be about me at all, so cheers to her for that!  Here's to you, Nadia!

1) Instead of saying, "I love you," she says "I love it."  She'll wrap her arms around me and give me a tender little hug, and say "I love it!"  At first, it freaked me out.  Like, is she channeling Buffalo Bill, pulling some "it puts the lotion in the basket whenever it's told" kinda shit?  But I've come to realize that she just doesn't get pronouns.  For instance, when she wants me to carry her, she'll say "carry you!"  She'll figure it out someday, I bet.

2) She has the worst singing voice in the world, and it's my favorite sound.  Some of her favorites are "The ABCs", "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "Open Shut Them".  Usually a mishmash of all three, with counting.  She often wakes me up in the morning with her songs.

3) She likes sleeping, and goes to bed with only a minimum of fuss. 

4) She is decently smart.  At age two, she can locate the continents, count to twenty, "sing" the alphabet song, read a little, identify all shapes and colors, and manipulate the shit out of everyone.

5) She still hasn't figured out how to open a door. 

6) She believes that everyone and everything is on this planet to serve her, and to make her happy.  I find this indescribably charming.

7) She's confident!  She states her opinions and desires loudly and boldly.  She does not second guess herself.  She knows what she wants, and she does what she has to do to get it.

8) She's not a picky eater.  This is especially important in my house, as I am unwilling to accommodate any more dietary restrictions.  If she develops an allergy, or an intense dislike for a food group, I'm giving up and ordering take-out for all meals. 

9) She enjoys cleaning up spills.  

10) When we play air hockey, or "soccer", she repeatedly tells me "thank you, Mommy" and "nice one!"and "Good try!"  

As you can see, she's the best child, and I'm so lucky I have her.  She's turned me into a mushy pile of goo, and while that makes me uncomfortable, it also makes me a better, kinder person.  

Here's some Goya to counteract the mushiness of this post.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Should You Vote?

Voting is obviously extremely important and I would never suggest or support government restriction on voting rights.  All adult citizens of the USA should have the right to vote, period.  


Just because you have the right to do something, that doesn't mean you should do it.  I have the right to hiss at ugly people.  Doesn't mean I should do it.  And while I believe strongly that MOST people should vote, there are about 5-10% of people who should just stay home on Election Day, and we should all be ok with that.

Here are some criteria you should think about when deciding if you should vote or not.

1) Did you think the Duck Dynasty guy had his first amendment rights violated?  If so, you should not vote, because you don't understand how stuff works.

2) Are you only voting the way your parents/pastor/deity-of-choice told you to?  Don't vote.  If you didn't make up your own mind, your vote doesn't count.  It also doesn't count if you are only voting the way your friends or some cool celebrity is voting.  

3) Do you have a general sense of what the issues are, and where the candidates stand on them?  If you are completely ignorant, and have no idea what's going on the the world, and you would basically be selecting a candidate at random, don't vote.

Yes, I know it's our civic duty to be aware of the world around us and to take a stand and vote accordingly.  But if you haven't been keeping up with things, for whatever reason, don't compound your error by making an uneducated vote.  

Most people should definitely vote.  But I think recusing yourself because you lack the knowledge to make an informed choice is perfectly valid and reasonable.  

Friday, February 26, 2016

People Who Spread Stomach Viruses Should Be Punished

Before I had Nadia, I didn't get stomach viruses, because I am a clean person who washes her hands regularly, and doesn't eat in dirty places.  However, once I found myself spending sixteen hours a day in close contact with a toddler, that all changed.  Because Nadia does not share my commitment to hand washing, and does not understand about germs, or the mechanisms by which viruses are spread.  Also, she wants to be cuddled while she vomits.  Apparently she finds this comforting.

Anyway, this isn't news to anyone with kids; we all know that they're little germ factories.  But they are not the reason why stomach bugs continue to plague the world.  Nope.  Because a small baby or child can't spread its germs all around town without a horrible nightmare of a parent who takes that child out and about, and lets that child touch things and put things in its mouth and slide its diarrhea encrusted butt all over surfaces everywhere.  

The way stomach bugs spread is through fecal matter.  Do you know what that means?  People are literally walking around with feces on their hands and touching things.  There is absolutely no excuse for this.  And yes, I know that it only takes a tiny speck of microscopic fecal matter to spread the illness, but I don't care.  That shouldn't matter if you're thoroughly washing your hands and staying at home while contagious.  I don't want to hear any fucking excuses.  Wash your damn hands PROPERLY, and DO NOT LEAVE THE HOUSE IF YOU HAVE VOMITING OR DIARRHEA.  DO NOT TAKE YOUR CHILD OUT OF THE HOUSE IF SHE HAS VOMITING OR DIARRHEA, FOR ANY REASON EXCEPT A HOUSE FIRE, OR AN EMERGENCY ROOM VISIT, OR A PHARMACY VISIT.  THAT'S IT.

I don't even understand how people CAN leave the house when they have stomach bugs.  When I have one, I can't get out of bed, much less put on an outfit and head to a restaurant and rub poop on doorknobs, as people apparently do.  

I get so angry when I'm talking to a mother who says "Oh, yeah, yesterday Dakota had a really bad stomach bug."  Umm, ok, then what the fuck are you doing at the park today?  Get Patient Zero back home until he's been at least a full 48 hours without symptoms.  He may seem to be feeling ok, but you don't know!  He's still a big maybe in the wellness department.  He could blow at any time!  

My big pet peeve right now is people who change diapers and then don't wash their hands, claiming that they "didn't get anything on their hands."  These people don't understand science, or how particles work.  Just because you don't have literal globules of shit on your hands, that doesn't mean they're clean.  Tiny particles of feces flick and scatter when you wipe a child's ass.  That is fact.  WASH YOUR HANDS.

This blog has been disgusting and angry.  I am aware of that, and I apologize a little.  But it's nowhere near as disgusting as the filthy degenerates who go around spreading this shit and ruining my life.  

If you're sick with a stomach bug, don't assume it's food poisoning, or that you're not contagious.  Stay home, a day more than you think you should.  And wash your hands, regardless, always, frequently, and well.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Evolution and Hate

The general theory is that human emotions have good, biological, evolutionary reasons.  For instance, love has an evolutionary explanation, in that if I love someone, I will try to help and protect that person, giving that person a better chance at living and reproducing, and so on.  Therefore, people who are able to give and receive love reproduce more and pass those love genes onto their offspring.  Fear keeps us safe from harm.  Jealousy makes us protect what's ours and strive for more.  

But what about hate?

On the surface, it would seem that hate has no good evolutionary reason.  After all, hate is one of the greatest destructive forces known to man, and countless atrocities are committed because of it.  It would seem that hate, as an emotion, would have died out long ago if it were purely detrimental.  We are socialized from the time we're small children to believe that hate is a very, very bad thing, and that we should avoid hate at all costs.  It's ok to dislike something, or be annoyed at someone, but hate?  Never!  

And yet, people keep on hating.

I think there are two kinds of hate.  Destructive hate - the kind that causes us to harm others, and constructive hate.  Yeah, I said it.  Hate can be constructive.  Let me explain.

I have hated three people in my life.  Deep, true, fierce hatred the likes of which I hope never to experience again.   It was a deeply unpleasant feeling.  I'm not going to go into details or name names - the purpose of this isn't to bad mouth anyone.  But I believe, in retrospect, that this hatred did in fact serve a positive purpose in my life.  These three people showed me the absolute worst of humanity.  They showed me how really, truly awful people can be.  And my hatred of them caused me to actively avoid being like them.  

Now, obviously this is not going to be a popular opinion.  And I would like to repeat here that destructive hatred is always bad.  You should never harm others, even if you hate them.  Period.  But constructive hatred that influences you to take a morally productive, healthier and overall happier path in life shouldn't be dismissed out of hand.  

This has been a blog post by Dana Hammer, Evolutionary Psychologist, and Explainer of Mysteries.  Mike drop.