Saturday, September 20, 2014

Smoke and Dreams

Everything smelled like smoke and ashes yesterday. I assume someone was burning a field somewhere, although I couldn't actually see any smoke from my yard. It smelled so heavy it seemed like we should've been able to see it. It felt like little ash particles actually in my nostrils.

I fell asleep with my nose and throat burning. I am surprised I didn't dream of fire. I was thinking of fire. I was having horror fantasies that wouldn't stop about the fire, wherever it was, spreading to here.

Instead, I dreamed that NFL players were using hashtags to sneak cats into my house to harm my kids.

I had to go to twitter, limit my feed to football players only, then slowly scroll through watching for hashtags. When I found one that looked dangerous, I'd click it, and scroll through that feed, watching for NFL players who had shared photos of cats. I had to examine every photo carefully, because the cat might hide behind someone's legs or even in an image on a kid's clothes.

When I found an NFL hashtagged cat, I had to delete it, then go back to the main feed and start over, with thousands of new tweets posted since.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Herded Like Cattle

Weird dumb creepy uncomfortable dream.

I was at school, moving through the hallway. Everyone was moving through the hallway. It was a tight, uncomfortable press and I couldn't even control my movements. Couldn't speed up, slow down, or turn around if I wanted to. Everyone was going to the cafeteria on the bottom floor, and I was going too, like it or not.

I didn't like it. The stairs, which wound in a squared-off spiral, were too steep. People were moving too fast. There was constant physical contact with people I didn't know by name, Not that I could've seen them to identify them. Nothing to be seen but a rush of color and press of anonymous bodies and movement.

Someone shouted my name,and everyone stopped moving, turned to focus on me. A path cleared and some guy I didn't know, but who apparently at least knew my name, rushed through.

"I'm pretty sure this is yours."

He had a Rubbermaid sort of lunchbox that made me think of a cross between Bento and industrial. It wasn't mine.


He opened the lid to show me the contents. In snug, side-by-side trays, there were carrots, some sort of dip, Pokemon cracker (I didn't know those existed), the tiniest tomatoes I'd ever seen, and tiny slices of cheese cut into shapes.

I said, "No, it isn't mine."

"It looks like it might be yours, though. I think it is."

I took the box and held it up and turned it in my hands. Each side had neatly printed legends, like, "I really lie Pokemon!" and "Lunch is my favorite class."

One side said, 'This lunch box belongs to:' and under it, written in blue marker, was my brother's name.

"This is Corbin's." I said. "See? His name is on it."

The guy just stared blankly, like I accidentally said 'name' in a foreign language.

"See?" I pointed again. "Corbin."

"I think it might be yours. Somebody told me it looked like yours."

I glanced around, and every face I saw looked as confused as his. This live performance was starting to be dull, now that the weird girl wasn't making sense. People started to shuffle toward te cafeteria again.

Then I spotted Corbin, and I called out his name. I said, "I think I've got your lunch box!"

He called back, "What's in it?"

I said, "Vegetables and stuff, but it's got your name on it."

"But what's in it?"

The press of people began to move me again, and I struggled to turn my body back to face the way I was going. Somehow, I managed to hold back just a little, and people jostled and crowded past until the hall was empty. I could see over the last landing's banister into the cafeteria, and watched people swarm like bugs up to the counter, then away.

I went around the last corner, and there were no more stairs. There was still a full story of distance between me and the cafeteria floor, but the stairs ended, with a jagged, ripped-off carpet hanging loosely from the last landing like it had once partially covered the last flight of stairs.

How was I to get down?

A guy I didn't know shoved past me, with an annoyed sound at my lack of motion, stepped on the hanging carpet, and slid, half sideways as though on a snowboard or skimboard, down the available length. Then he leapt off the end, landed neatly on the floor, and headed to the counter like this was the most normal thing.

I tried it, and ended up sliding backward on my stomach, grappling for a grip on the carpet to keep from sliding so fast. Then I was on my hands and knees on the floor, palms stinging.

At the counter, a serving lady handed me a tray. Somehow I couldn't see the contents. I wasn't sure if I wanted it.

"What is this?" I asked, not taking the tray.

"It's what everybody gets. You all get the same." She shoved the tray at me.

I looked around. Was there even a door? I couldn't get back up those non-stairs. How would I leave? I turned to run, with her still calling after me to assure me everyone takes a tray.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Things I Don't Write About

I wrote about Ferguson tonight.

And there are a few things I usually don't write about.

Ferguson has been one of them, for a couple of reasons. One is the reactions. It makes me ill to see people I love say things like, "Well, he provoked..." or "Well, he wasn't complying...."

I can't sit and argue that and still face those people every day.

There are other topics and other reasons, but mostly I haven't written about Ferguson.

But tonight, I wrote about Ferguson.

See, there was this group of protesters who woke up to find a noose in their camp area, and when I googled, it seemed like nobody was writing about it. How is that a nonstory?

So I messaged the youth pastor who had started sharing their story, and I got some information and shared it on, wrote it up, made it officially news on a news site on the internet in the world.

(I feel like I'm advertising but because I'm talking about it here it is. Nobody's making you click.)

And now I'm (well, not now because I got up, but a few minutes ago) lying in my bed, in my temperature-controlled environment, with my walls and ceiling and babies and safe and comfortable (moderately- two toddlers in a bed means moderately comfortable is good), while the people who are actually there, the guys who woke up to a noose, and the people who lost a son or brother or friend, are not lying in a bed with soft sheets, but walking the streets, sitting in living rooms and crying, holding hands and praying, pleading for justice (which I don't think is a possible thing here - even if an investigation proves beyond doubt that this kid never did anything worse than sticking his tongue out at his brother, nobody's gonna give him his life back, so where is justice?), pleading for change, pleading for it not to happen to another kid, pleading for something to make sense.

And I feel guilty for my vague nod to the possibility the police aren't lying about *every single* thing, because I know I'm supposed to be neutral but it's like being neutral on climate change or the sky being blue, so that I feel like I'm supposed to say, "Others argue that the sky is purple with pink polka dots, and color is subjective, but blue is consistent with the language of poem and song." And I feel for those journalists who get slammed for putting on a scientist and a creationist, because 'both sides' is an expected thing even when one is not a side at all.

I hope I gave an accurate depiction while being fair. I hope change happens. I hope Michael Brown's family gets a thing that resembles justice enough to give them some scrap of peace. It can't be more than a scrap, when you lose your baby. I can't even fathom. I look at my babies and I can't even fathom. I know that change is gonna happen, because change does, but change in forty or eighty years when it comes naturally through generations passing on and new ones seeing things differently isn't enough. A lot of people can die in 40-80 years.

What can I do? Nothing but rail and holler. But I guess I can rail and holler, anyway. Even if what I get in response makes me sick. I reckon I can take a little sick to try to make somebody's babies not die, even if it's only try. It's the tool within my reach. Rail and holler.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Words Feel Defective

Words feel defective today, like they're not doing the job they have. I love words. I love that they allow us to communicate all these subtle things, ideas, feelings, plans, directions. I love to make words happen.

But then there's that thing where you repeat a word over and over, or stare at it on a sign for a long time, and it stops making sense.

You're like, "Yield. Yi-eel-duh. Yeee-uld. Yelled? I think I forgot how to say it. None of the ways sound right anymore."

You feel like maybe you better not say 'yield' in front of anyone, because all the ways to say it sound wrong and they're probably going to laugh at you.

If your kid asked you right now what 'yield' means, you'd want to look it up to be sure you were still right, because the meaning feels gone.

Except that's how I feel right now with all words, not just one.

I want to tell a friend I'm glad a thing went well for her, and "I'm glad for you" sounds like it doesn't make any sense, even though intellectually I know it does. Those are the right words. But I have this paranoid feeling that if I type it and hit 'send' she'll message back, "What does that mean? Is that English?"

I type "I'm glad" and before I can go any further, my brain goes,

"Glad? What's that? Happy? You're happy? Or a trash bag. Glad is a trash bag. Why would you tell her you're happy? She's the one who had the good thing happen. She's happy. You're not a trash bag. That doesn't make sense. Why are you saying trash bag to her? Glad is the trash bag, right? Maybe that's the wrong word."

It's perfectly silly and I have to make words happen today for work, but my brain insists that none of them make sense.

Now, to cross my fingers that this nice informal word-making pushed me past the block.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Stupid Bad Horrible Dream

I had the most terrifying dream ever.

I was standing in the grocery store parking lot when I heard someone yell something like "It's got silver in it!" I glanced around, and realized that it was a group of three teenagers, cheering the fact that the cart they'd stolen, which they only expected to hold free food, also contained an expensive silverware set.

I looked the other way, and there was an elderly man just getting the rear hatch of his vehicle open. He reached for his cart, and looked confused for a long moment before looking around, seeing the boys transferring the contents to their own trunk, and beginning to understand.

He started to walk toward them saying something very stereotypically old-man, like "Hey, you young hooligans!"

I yelled at him to stay back, I'd call the police. He was a fairly sturdy looking old guy, but I didn't want him getting hurt trying to take his groceries back.

I pulled my phone out, and started fumbling with all the buttons and things that seem so complicated to use in dreams, and suddenly it was on the ground and I was trying to find air for my lungs.

One of the guys had rushed me, hard, and knocked the air right out of me. Now he was holding me so tightly I couldn't move or breathe.

He relaxed his hold a tiny bit and started to explain to me how we were gonna stand right here and not make any trouble while the other fellows got to a safe distance - and I broke loose from him and started to run.

So he pulled out a cattle prod, which it turns out can shoot bolts of lightningesque electricity several yards, and used it to knock me to the ground.

Lying there, I watched and waited for it to stop. When I could stand, he demonstrated to me I was in his power. He threw me the prod.

He told me to bring it to him.

Instead, I tried to shoot him with it. He just laughed as the bright yellow bolts bounced harmlessly off his body. I moved closer and closer and he continued to seem to feel nothing.

"You've built an immunity!" I gasped, finally getting it but I was within his reach by then, and then I was a captive again.

He sat me on the sidewalk in front of the store and whistled for a bunch of little kids. All these little kids, like six and eight years old, sat down in a circle around me and started laughing, some playing jacks or cards, doing whatever.

And I knew I couldn't get up and leave, because there were so many, and if I moved they'd grab at me. I could get away from them, but I'd have to hurt one or more to do it.

And I sat there while he went inside. And I sat there and waited until my mom came out of the store and told me he'd been arrested.

And we went and got into the van and listened as the news said "....but the real hero was the woman inside the store who saw something going on and called 911 quietly....." and I felt like a giant idiot, and also knew they were patting themselves on the back despite having not gotten the other two, and if I'd done it right the old guy would have his groceries and silverware.

And Mama wouldn't let me call the police to give them the additional information until we were 'back on the highway.'  I'm not sure why.

And I sat there and did what I was told.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I am tired, angry, and frustrated beyond all bounds of my ability to cope. I am tired of fighting uphill everything constantly.

I'm sick of thinking about fire.

I'm sick of worrying about custody and what's going on when the kids aren't here.

I'm tired of struggling to have the energy to get anything done.

I'm sick of family members hurting other family members, and of knowing there's only one right side, but also knowing that if I take it, people I love are going to hate me.

I wish I could just lay down and sleep for ten years or forever.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Excerpt From Early Draft Of Untitled Witch Story

This is an excerpt from chapter three, in which the nine-year-old character tries to gather more information about the witch[es] she believes must live in the spooky house.

If you want background, here's the first draft of chapter one: Untitled Witch Story, Part One, Draft One.

I asked my mother who lived in the spooky house. I cringed a bit as I asked, with a part of me expecting her to scold me for not paying attention to the reading materials supplied by my church – after all, if I had, I’d know it was the house of witches. Another small part expected she’d avoid mentioning the witch (after all, she’d never told me before, and keeping things from me to protect me was her way in many things) and just tell me to avoid the place. A part of me expected her to identify the resident.

All of me believed that she must know that there were witches in the house, and it was merely a matter of how much information she would impart.

No part of me expected her to say she didn’t know.

Our town’s population numbered in the hundreds, and among those who actually lived in town, rather than on the outlying roads and farms that had a Columbia address but weren’t in the normal walking routes, there were no strangers – or so I had always believed.

“I think she moved here from somewhere, a little while ago,” my mother said vaguely. “She hasn’t lived there long.”

“But you don’t know her name?”

“No, she’s not from here, probably. She might have come from Ohio or something.”

I knew where ‘Ohio or something’ was. That was the place that everyone came here from. It meant ‘up north where they talk strange.’ It meant ‘none of our concern.’ It meant ‘might as well be a different planet.’

Anyone who was from away was from ‘Ohio or something,’ and once they were discerned as coming from that foreign place, they could be dismissed: we would never really know them or understand them, and maybe if we waited, they’d go away.

“How long has she lived there?” I asked. I had a notion that maybe my reading the Halloween tract had caused her to exist.

“I don’t know, maybe ten years, or more. I didn’t see her move in.”

Somewhat insulted at the notion that a period of time longer than my own life could be dismissed as ‘a little while,’ I walked away and didn’t ask any more questions.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Dear Representative Walter Jones

Dear Representative Jones,

I’m contacting you today as one of your constituents, to make you aware of my position on the recent travesty of the Supreme Court decision in Sebellius v. Hobby Lobby.

It is a crying shame to support the rights of a corporation over the rights of an individual. It is sickening to see women continually marginalized and  reduced in rights, support, and value in this country.

I’m familiar with your stance on this and other issues, and I am asking you to stop prioritizing corporate rights and the rights of invisible men over the rights of human beings. I’m asking you to stop fighting against the legislation that might eventually (if our Governor will stop fighting it) allow me to purchase health care, despite being low-income. I’m asking you to support legislation that supports your constituents.

Today, I write to ask you to begin to work against laws where ‘religious freedom’ is a code word for taking away the freedoms of others. I’m asking you to work against policies that allow beliefs to trump law. I’m asking you to oppose legislation that would help religious extremists impose their Christian Sharia on America.

And, I am thanking you. Not for your efforts so far, which have worked in opposition to the needs of the people who voted for you, but thanking you in advance for taking the time to think about whether corporations are really more important than people, and whether Christians really deserve a higher level of freedom than the rest of us. Please support your constituents, so we can return the favor.

With great appreciation,

Steph Bazzle

PS- Y'all check this out- Congressman Jones invited me to discuss 'women's issues' when I sent him this message. Wonder if he's getting a lot of those.

Dear Senator Richard Burr

Dear Senator Burr,

I’m contacting you today as one of your constituents, to make you aware of my position on the recent travesty of the Supreme Court decision in Sebellius v. Hobby Lobby.

It is a crying shame to support the rights of a corporation over the rights of an individual. It is sickening to see women continually marginalized and  reduced in rights, support, and value in this country.

I’m familiar with your stance on this and other issues, and I am asking you to stop prioritizing corporate rights and the rights of invisible men over the rights of human beings. I’m asking you to stop fighting against the legislation that might eventually (if our Governor will stop fighting it) allow me to purchase health care, despite being low-income. I’m asking you to support legislation that supports your constituents.

Today, I write to ask you to begin to work against laws where ‘religious freedom’ is a code word for taking away the freedoms of others. I’m asking you to work against policies that allow beliefs to trump law. I’m asking you to oppose legislation that would help religious extremists impose their Christian Sharia on America.

And, I am thanking you. Not for your efforts so far, which have worked in opposition to the needs of the people who voted for you, but thanking you in advance for taking the time to think about whether corporations are really more important than people, and whether Christians really deserve a higher level of freedom than the rest of us. Please support your constituents, so we can return the favor.

With great appreciation,

Steph Bazzle

Dear Kay Hagan

Dear Representative Hagan,

I’m contacting you today as one of your constituents, to make you aware of my position on the recent travesty of the Supreme Court decision in Sebellius v. Hobby Lobby.

It is a crying shame to support the rights of a corporation over the rights of an individual. It is sickening to see women continually marginalized and  reduced in rights, support, and value in this country.

I’m familiar with your stance on this and other issues, and I appreciate your support.

Today, I write to ask you to continue to work against laws where ‘religious freedom’ is a code word for taking away the freedoms of others. I’m asking you to work against policies that allow beliefs to trump law. 
I’m asking you to oppose legislation that would help religious extremists impose their Christian Sharia on America.

And, I am thanking you. I’m thanking you for all you’ve done in this regard, and thanking you in advance for all you’ll continue to do. Please continue to support your constituents, and we will return the favor.

With great appreciation,

Steph Bazzle

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Untitled Witch Story, Part One, Draft One

Note: If you live in Columbia, you may know what house I'm talking about. Please be aware that while the house exists, and the story is inspired by a real fear and a real tract and a real childhood belief, the story itself is fiction. As far as I know, there are no witches in Columbia, and all our old ladies, even those from away, are nice people.


The Halloween when I was seven years old, I finally understood why I wasn't allowed to trick-or-treat.

Our church gave all of us copies of a Jack Chick tracts about the dangers of Halloween, and I read it quite credulously, and learned that witches were real, not make-believe, as I had previously thought, and were in direct and constant connection with Satan.

On Halloween, witches used the evil of the night to draw children into their clutches, feeding them apples with glass shard, candy with needles, and, if they were lucky, drawing them into their covens, adding to Satan’s army.

The tract included a picture of the house where some of these witches lived, and in the way of children, who believe their own little lives are the whole world, I understood it to be a house in my town.

After some study, I worked out which house it was. The house didn't look exactly like the one in the tract, but it was close enough for drawings, and naturally, I developed a healthy terror of the house.

I never saw anyone come or go from it, but it must contain witches, because my church had said so, or at least, I’d understood my church to say so.

The house was at the corner of Martha Street and Road Street, and I did not have to pass it in my daily walk from my grandmother’s house to my own home, but I usually did walk that way (unless it was getting dark out) so that I could look at it and shudder in the amount of terror that comes from knowing, on one level, that a scary story is absolutely true, while knowing on another level that it mustn’t be.

There was never anyone there – not that I saw then, anyway.

[Photo Credit: Jack Chick]

Friday, June 6, 2014

Rapey Dreams Demonstrate Rape Culture And Why Not Only Rapists Are The Problem

I had, for some reason, a series of the creepiest, rapiest dreams ever last night. This morning, they have me angry- not at the anonymous, nonexistent people in them, but at the people they represent, who just don't get it, and keep making rape and sexual assault even scarier than they are on their own.

The first part of the dream involved my husband and I staying at some hotel that we apparently went to every year for some event. Somehow I'd forgotten to pack, and after wearing the same cut-off shorts for a couple of days, had gone to buy new clothes, but could only find a skirt.

I was walking down the stairs, trying to convince myself the skirt was okay, not too short or tight, when some old ladies who were sitting in the motel's lobby got up and came over to me to tell me what and improvement it was- I looked so much nicer, like a lady, they said.

I felt the same discomfort I always do with that kind of suggestion- that I'd look nicer if I chose the 'right' clothing or makeup or something, stuff that the speaker considers more feminine, and not only 'nicer' but like a 'lady,' which is a concept that bothers me on several levels anyway.

But I thanked them politely and uncomfortably and rushed on.

I walked back through the lobby later, and some guy ran past me, grabbed my butt with one hand, and pulled sharply at my shirt, clearly trying to expose me, with the other. And he ran on, so quickly that yelling at him, slapping him, or even identifying him were beyond me as options.

I did the only thing, in fact, that was left to me- straightened myself and kept walking.

The old ladies called out to scold me for my public display, going on to say that they knew I'd been trying to catch that young man's attention when they first saw me in such a short skirt, but that I still should have saved it for behind closed doors.

I went up to my hotel room, where my husband was taking apart blocks- those old barrel shaped ones you get for babies, that link at the end. He said he'd entered a sex-toy designing contest, would I help him come up with some ideas? I thought that sounded funny and interesting, and went to sit at the table and listen to his ideas.

Suddenly there were two other people there- I don't reckon I'll identify them. I'll call them Bob and Dave instead. Bob is several years older than me, and Dave was ambiguously 'older-teen-to-young-adult'.

It was clear they were a part of the project too, and suddenly I was a little less comfortable with talking about what might feel good. Still, they'd apparently been there before I got there, and I sat at the table and started cutting fabric. (I'm not sure what the fabric was for.)

Then suddenly I felt a tug and looked up- Dave was lifting my skirt with his pencil, and leaning under the table, trying to get a peek up it!

I jumped up and screamed.

He was immediately all innocence, and the other two looked confused. I shouted at him, "You lifted my skirt with your pencil!" which made my husband leap up to defend me physically, and the other guy giggle - because, haha, so fucking funny, a girl says Dave has a 'pencil,' teeheehee, he put his 'pencil' in her skirt, ell-oh-fucking-ell.

I shook my head at my husband, and to his credit, he took my cue and let me handle it. I am not sure what I said to Dave, but he rolled his eyes at what I could tell he saw as my ridiculous, silly, probably-hormonal overreaction, and left. I know I didn't tell him to leave, whatever it was I said- he left because he felt like I was being a bitch, with no sense of humor.

The rest of us went back to work, and I was trying to describe to my husband a way the barrel-shaped blocks could have texture, and was talking about rough and smooth. At that, I heard a noise I recognized as a razor running, and thought Bob was shaving his face as a joke, and glanced over to see he was actually shaving his crotch, leaving a stubble- and he shouts over the razor sound, "TEXTURE!!"

At which point I got up and left the room. I wanted to go to bed and my bed was in that room. I wanted to put on jeans and I only had my skirt and cut-offs- and my cut-offs were in that room. I couldn't even walk down the stairs because I was scared of the other guy, or someone like him, showing up, or the old ladies giving more commentary. I had a mental image of going over and talking to them, seeking sympathy, and being told I had asked for the treatment by discussing sex toys with people.

I basically felt trapped in the few feet of space immediately outside my hotel room door, and not even comfortable or safe there.


And that's a lot of what real life is like. I have never been raped. I have been sexually assaulted. I have had inappropriate or uncomfortable comments. I have seen a lot of the kind of verbal attack the old ladies gave.

And all of those are part of the problem.

People like those ladies make reporting a sexual assault harder. Your stupid comments about how certain clothing items are meant to catch attention make victims feel guilty. Your suggestions that a woman looks 'better' or 'more like a lady' in a skirt or makeup or whatever tells her that her identity is bound up in her appearance. Look this way to be this person.

And when your jokes make someone else uncomfortable, they aren't always the problem. Look, maybe you tell that one joke about the genie and the 12 inch Bic and somebody informs you that word is rude and uncouth, and you give a big eyeroll, because, like, omg, lady, we  live in a day where we don't pretend the opposite sex doesn't have body parts! and you retell the story to everyone you know and they all agree that she was a total prude. Hey, maybe she did overreact. Maybe your joke was very mild and perfectly okay. Maybe

But more likely, if you're routinely offending people with your jokes, maybe they aren't funny. Maybe they're invasive, and maybe, maybe you already know that and that's why you tell them, for the sense of power that comes with getting in another person's space just a little bit.

But maybe not- maybe you sincerely don't get it.

If you're that guy, let me explain. Here it is.

You're part of the problem. You, too, are telling a woman that her sexuality, her body, her feelings, are yours first and hers second. You don't think that joke should make her feel unsafe? Okay, don't think it should.

Now take your little balance out of your pocket, and put her feelings on one side and what you think her feelings should be on the other. If your opinions on her feelings are heavier, then you are, at best, being pretty selfish, not a friend, and not funny.

What were the messages in the dream?

The older ladies: "Who you are is defined by how you look. Your worth is defined by how you look and dress."
The running guy: "I can take what I want, and there's nothing you can do about it."
The ladies: "If someone takes something from you, you are the guilty party. Your looks determined what you deserved."
Dave: "If I want something, I should be able to get it. If you don't like that, you're a bitch. You're frigid and have no sense of humor. My wants are for you to satisfy, even if you don't share them."
Bob: "If I hear that you might like a thing, and I have that thing, I can expect that you will provide me with what I want- even without consideration for whether your 'like' equals 'want,' or whether you would want that thing from me specifically, or whether the thing I've got is really the thing you like (shave stubble equals textured toy? Really? Dumbass.) or whether you can get the thing you like from other sources. If you like texture, and I have a texture, you'll give me sex. Simple as that."

Everyone: "There is no safe place. This is going to be everywhere you go, even in your own home. Don't expect to leave your home without encountering it. Don't expect to dress without thinking of it. Don't expect to look in the mirror without thinking about it. Don't expect to brush your hair without thinking about it. Don't expect to watch tv or go on the internet without encountering it. Your appearance is a public possession, and we are going to attack you for it no matter what you do- you're either going to be a slob or stuck-up, a slut or a prude, based on what you have on your body. Your body is a public possession, and if you don't give it away in exactly the amounts we think appropriate, we will attack you- physically or verbally.

You don't belong to you.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

You Can't Boycott It All (or at least, I can't)

The thing these days is boycotts of companies who you think are doing the wrong thing.

Voting with your dollars is totally a thing, and it can be a good thing, though it has certain drawbacks (basically the fact that people with more dollars have more votes). Still, using your wallet to pressure a company to do the right thing is one of the small powers a consumer has.

More than that, I understand the feeling that one doesn't want to associate with something 'dirty'. So, if, for instance, you feel that Papa John's is mistreating their employees by their stance on the ACA, maybe you don't eat at Papa John's because you feel like you can't contribute to that.

So then, let's say you're in favor of equal rights for lgbtq folk. I am!

So, you boycott Hobby Lobby and Chik-Fil-A. Easy! I don't like CFA's food anyway, and don't even know where the nearest one to me is. And I like craft stuff, but on the rare occasion I can afford any, I'm probably grabbing it from the dollar store or the walmart- nearer and cheaper.

Then, something happens. Nintendo comes along with an announcement that they're not going to make certain aspects of a new game equally available to gay people.

And, um, I love Nintendo.

So now I have a conundrum. How the hell do I boycott Nintendo when the new Pokemon game is coming out in just a few months?

And then someone I love posts on Facebook about how Nintendo should not change that. That they are right to exclude gay interactions.

And I realize something.

You can't boycott people. You can't make people accept you. You have to just hope they come around.

You end up having to choose- do I walk away from half the people I love, and lose my family, or do I accept them as they are -- even if they won't do that for me?

I don't actually have any choice. I accept my loved ones....however they feel about me.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Why Do I Talk About Religion So Much?

This should be a really long post because I have a lot to say, but I think it will be a really short one because I'm tired. Maybe I'll decide to write more in-depth on bits later, but I wanted to get this basic gist out.

People ask me, and I'm sure others wonder and don't ask, why I spend so much time and energy talking about, reading about, joking about, making fun of, mocking, and thinking about a God I don't believe exists.

I know many people think it's proof that I really do believe, and am just, I don't know, fighting it or something. Some probably figure I'm just trying to make others mad. Or that the devil is doing this through me to drag others down. (Yeah, I'm aware some of you think I somehow forcibly converted my husband.)

Look, "Why do you talk about God so much?" is a question most atheists get a lot of. The following is my answer. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

I talk about religion, and by extension, God, because religious beliefs, ones that aren't even mine, are a large part of my existence.

In fact, Christianity in particular affects me more today than it ever did when I believed, in an a more invasive way. (I am not going to do a long address to the question of why I 'only pick on' Christianity; just for now understand it's the one that affects me most of the time.)

Christianity worms its way into everything. Everything.

-Public schools.

-The pledge of allegiance, which is creepy enough without throwing a forced reference to one religion's deity in. (PS- you probably know, because you're smart, that there wasn't any God in the original pledge. Right?)

-Money. Do you know how ridiculous that is? I swear, someone should make one of those stamps, one that gives a veryshortform version of Jesus tossing the banking tables in the temple, and start stamping it on dollars. Seriously, you think that guy wants represented on your cash?

-Government. We have a national day of prayer. Our elected officials go out and hold prayer meetings, on the taxpayer dime. That means that the Jewish people in your town, the atheist people in your town, the Muslim people in your town- they're all FUNDING your religious ceremony. So not cool.

-Morality. Religion gets to hijack morality. People get to say that I can't be moral if I don't follow their God. "Well, where do you get your morals from, then?" People decide whether someone is moral based on his beliefs. Is he okay to date your daughter? "Well, he goes to church, he's a good Christian boy, he's fine."

-Sexuality. You think you get to tell me who I should be attracted to, who I should have sex with, how often, when, and why, based on your favorite book?

And there's more, but that's about all I have time to list tonight.

But let me give you an analogy, okay? Let's say that you don't believe in unicorns, but everyone else around you talks about unicorns basically nonstop. Let's say that your kids hear about unicorns at school, and get mocked or condemned for not believing in them. Let's say that when we have a presidential race, you hear people debating about what kind of unicorn the candidates have. People ask you about your pet unicorn. When you say you don't have a pet unicorn, your pregnancy care provider, of all the effing people, tries to sell you hers. You say you don't believe in unicorns, and she scolds you, and insists you come see her unicorn.

At some point, you start feeling kinda like you're being punked. How can so many people be so damned hung up on unicorns? I'm looking around, folks, I don't see any unicorns! So, you smile and try to just be nice about the unicorns. (Maybe you wonder if you're going crazy, until, thankfully, you meet some other aunicornists out in the world and learn you're not alone after all.)

But more and more, you find that other people's belief in unicorns is affecting your life.

Well, I kinda feel like you'd talk about unicorns, and probably kind of a lot.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Babies In Suits - How Does That Work?

I needed a shirt to put on the baby, and I amused myself by selecting one that belonged to one of the bigger kids.

This led to the idea that I might do a photo like those 'baby in a suit' ones, but with big kid clothes, instead of a suit. I don't know where I'd find a suit.

So, I collected a 6 month old baby, a shirt sized for a 7yo, a pair of pants for a 10yo, and my phone, and headed for my bed to lay the photo out.

I put the baby in the shirt. I am not sure if the normal method in the suit pictures is to put the baby in the shirt or lay it over him, but I was putting the oversized shirt on him anyway, at least until I could locate a smaller one, so I just did.

In a suit, the shirt would presumably have covered his feet, and I could have just placed the pants on the bed below. This shirt did not cover the baby's feet, so I tucked his legs into the pants.

Okay, so far, so good. But then he started moving.

Which quickly proceeded into pants-eating.

I got the pants flat, and snapped a quick shot, but he was distracted and wouldn't look at me.

Ideally, at this point, I would have started the process of taking 8-12 photos in a row, adjusting my angle, calling his name, moving to different places, in hopes of catching one in which he was looking at me (maybe even smiling), not moving and blurry, and with a good angle and lighting.

Alas, it was not to be. Before my phone could adjust for the second shot, he was gone, back-crawling right out of the pants.

Doing the awkward roll-over:

Hi, Mom.

Oh, look, a book. That looks way more interesting than those pants.

So, baby-in-a-suit was not to be, nor was baby-in-big-kid-clothing. Maybe a different day.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Dreaming Through The Culture Wars

Ever have that dream where you're naked in school, standing at the front of the classroom, trying to give a report you've forgotten to write?

Last night, I had one that was just as embarrassing- I accidentally went into a Chik-Fil-A and started to order.

I was wandering through the mall, with a group of people I haven't seen since high school. We were pretty clearly on a class trip.

I was playing with my phone, which I broke yesterday (in the waking world, in real life), trying to get a text sent. Since the bottom third of the touch screen no longer works, that requires flipping it back and forth to get to parts of the on-screen keyboard.

I followed my friend into the food court, and she said something like, "You wanna go to the chicken place?"

I didn't even look up, just muttered, "Okay, yeah," and followed.

I got to the counter, realized it was my turn, and started looking at the menu. I couldn't find anything that appealed to me, and I asked, "Don't you have, like, nuggets?"

The server showed me a box of nuggets, and they were small and squarish, and they looked familiar in an odd way.

I looked around- no company name to be found inside the alcove, but there were cows. Cows....cows in a chicken place had to mean.......I yelped a little, and literally ran out of the place, into the shop directly across, not even caring what it was.

I ordered nuggets there, and looked around. Oddly, their nuggets were shaped like little penises, and there was a jar full of pickles on the counter that all looked like penises.

One of my classmates walked in and said, "Eating in this place always turns me on."

A cousin who I won't name lest I embarrass or anger him-or-her came in behind him, saying, "Yeah, me too, I love the pickles!"

And I stood there, leaning against the counter, worrying that someone might have seen me in the Chik-Fil-A and might think I supported them.

So then I realized, the obvious answer to that was to eat this restaurant's very distinctively shaped food out in the open, in the middle of the mall, which would ensure that no one had any questions what I supported.

And yeah, as a matter of fact, I live in an age where it's less embarrassing to gobble penis pickles in the middle of a mall concourse than to be seen at Chik-Fil-A.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Thoughts On Creationism, Persecution, And Christianity

Today I stumbled across an article that talked about Creationism as a cult, rather than 'real' Christianity.

Now, I have some issues with this. Mainly, the 'no true Scotsman' fallacy- you simply do not get to decide that people are not Christians just because you don't want to be represented by them, no matter whether the people in question are the Westboro Baptists, Ken Ham, Creationists, or progressive Christians who believe in treating gay people fairly and letting women wear pants and speak in church.

Just because they aren't in the same slot as you, doesn't mean you get to deny them their chosen categorization- any more than they get to deny you yours.

Anyway, that's not the point.

I saw a line further on that intrigued me.

When I attack creationists, they think I’m attacking Christianity – which isn’t true at all. 
 My mind immediately went off on two separate tracks.

One was, well, dude, you kinda are. Because a  Gallup Poll from 2011 says that about 30% of people in the U.S. take their Bible literally. I think there's a more recent poll than that, but couldn't find it.

I did find some from a few years earlier, that show higher percents, suggesting that the number is dropping, but honestly, 3 in 10 is a lot of people. And I feel like I remember the more recent one I saw showing an increase, but since I can't find it, don't quote me.

So yeah, if you insult Biblical literalism, there's a maybe one in three chance that the person listening is a follower of the beliefs you're talking about.

If you already know the person in question is a Christian, then your chances increase further, since presumably all non-Christians fall into the other 7-in-10.

The other thought was, DUDE, YES! And if I say something against Biblical literalism, then I am sure to not only piss off my Biblical literalist friends, but also a lot of non-literalist Christian friends, who will jump in with a "Not all Christians believe that!" (Side note: I don't claim I've never over-generalized, nor that I've always known Christians who weren't Biblical literalists existed. I've been aware of that fact for approximately 1/3 of my life. As for the rest, I still get these responses when I don't generalize, no matter how specific I am. I do try very hard these days not to generalize.)

Right now, I'm writing a novelette that mocks the idea of Christian persecution as a major problem in America. It is not intended to suggest Christians are not ever persecuted, that no one has ever been mocked for religion in America, or that those who do do face discrimination for being Christian should be ignored or their experiences diminished- it merely attacks the idea that the majority belief system in the U.S. is under constant attack and persecution.

I haven't seen God's Not Dead yet. I won't, probably, until I can do so on my tv screen for  free or cheap. I don't like theaters, and I don't like paying big bucks for them.

Especially to see a movie that, by all accounts, is less a pro-Christian than an anti-non-Christian one.

But you can see how, in that movie, this myth is leaned on- the poor Christian is told by his professor to write down that God is dead- a ridiculous premise, since no atheist believes God is dead. We believe he never lived, doesn't exist- would you insist that someone 'admit' that Santa or unicorns are dead? It's silly.

And, there is a big difference between attacking an idea and attacking people, in my opinion.

Still, when my novelette is done, I reckon some people are going to be upset. They won't see 'Christianity as a persecuted minority is a ridiculous notion,' they'll see 'making fun of silly Christians'.

Well, that's not my intent, but I do see that it's going to happen, and I do accept it.

Friday, February 14, 2014

On Sexuality And Perception Of Sexuality And People

Note: I wrote this a week or so ago and left it in draft form until I found the guts to publish it. After Ellen Page's coming out tonight, I decided I can do it. (I ADORE EP. She is high on my list of favorite people.)

Sometimes I see stories about people 'coming out' as gay, and I think about how we don't really see coming out stories much of bi people.

But then I think, probably that's not so much about whether bi people come out, but more about how we see people as so binary: she has a girlfriend, clearly she is gay, she has a husband, obviously she's straight, both are neatly in their boxes and that's where we want them, so it's all good.

Except, especially since I've written a couple of articles lately about transgender people/issues/legislation, I've been thinking about how binary people aren't.

But it's so much about what people see externalized, right, like, if you're bi but you're in a long-term monogamous relationship with an opposite-sex person and intend to stay that way, what reason is there to come out?

Except, somebody's got to make people see, you know, that everybody doesn't fit in your boxes. You don't get to look at this guy and say, oh, he has sex with girls, oh, that guy over there kisses dudes, this woman likes ladies, this woman prefers men. Because you're categorizing some of them wrong, you know? Some of them are into sex with both or neither or don't even know, right?

WHAT what the hell did I just say?

You need to know that this one girl is bi, because when you look at her and go, oh, she likes dick, you're only telling half her story? What? No. First of all, that's a fraction, not a half, of her story, and second, wtf are you doing categorizing who she is based on her sex stuff?

That's so weird, like, what if you were dividing people up that way like, oh, that's the principal, she likes black dildos, oh, that's the grocery store clerk who gets off on sitting on ziploc bags of crushed ice, oh, that's my preacher, he only does it in the dark. Can you even imagine if you were thinking about all those people's sex lives every time you looked at them?

Except, when you go, Oh, yeah, that's my gay friend, oh, yeah, that's the gay teacher, oh, that cashier, he's gay.....well isn't that what you're doing? Categorizing them by some aspect of how they live their sex lives and their love lives?

Except notice how there were no, "Oh, that's that straight guy I know" stories in there? That's because you mostly only do that to gay folks.

So then I'm like, damn, man, I'm really glad I'm married to a dude and present as totally cis, because it must be uncomfortable to have people think about your sex life every time they interact with you.

Wait, did I seriously just say I'm glad nobody can see my non-straight-ness, because it means I don't have to deal with the things so many other not-straight people have to deal with?

That is a seriously sucky attitude.

Then I think, but I'm married to a dude, if I came out as bi, what would be the point? I mean, I'm not looking for a girl, any more than I'm looking for another guy. It would only be weird, right?And it's so much easier not to.

And then I think, AND if I did, I'd have to go through that thing where some people think about your genitals and what you like to do with them every time they look at you. And I'm so much more than my genitals! I'm all my thoughts, and all my non-sexual entertainments like reading and writing and playing with my kids and badozens of things that have nothing to do with sex, and why would I come out and let people turn me into nothing more than my love life?

Here's why: because there are people who don't have the choice. There are people who, if they don't come out, won't be able to be with the person they love. There are people who have to choose between coming out or living a lie. Coming out or staying alone.

Plus, the thing that's going to make non-straight people stop being diminished to nothing but a caricature of their sexuality is more people coming out, making non-cis sexualities more mainstream and less of a 'special' or 'unusual' case, right?

Plus, is it any less 'living a lie' if nobody can ever tell?

So, to those outside the small handful of friends who already knew it, hello, world, my name is Stephanie, and I am bisexual.