Build It Up, Tear It Down

I finally had a chance to watch a few episodes of Speechless on OnDemand and isn’t it nice how they advocate for the differently-abled while continuing to disrespect and demean women?

Because it’s perfectly ok to treat the girl you like as a prize to be won, to kiss her without permission, and to stalk her until she likes you. It’s also ok for jocks to talk about girls like interchangeable sexbots who exist solely for their pleasure. It’s ok to stare at cheerleaders’ bums because that’s the only purpose of that sport and why don’t you call yourself their manager so you can officially stare at their bums while also having nominal power over them. And let’s make sure the mother of a special needs kid is known to be a overbearing pain in the ass because it’s certainly not difficult to get accommodations from bureaucracies who hate spending money.

In conclusion: Speechless sucks. Sitcoms in general suck because they rely on the same old tired tropes and sexist stereotypes. You can’t attempt to break social ground in one underrepresented population while simultaneously denigrating another and call yourself progressive.

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Parents Magazine Blames Me

Dear Parents Magazine,

I just spent two and half hours trying to get my toddler to go to sleep. It’s 10:10pm and I am exhausted, emotional, and have lost all sense of chill.

Because even as I tried all of my regular tricks, all the rocking and singing and counting and rhythmic breathing that sometimes works, one thought echoed in my head.

Because even though sometimes it just takes a little longer for my son’s busy brain to calm down and although frustrating, I can usually keep my cool by reminding myself that he’ll fall asleep eventually, this one terrible thought plagued my tired brain.

This one thought brought me to tears 4 separate times over the course of those two and a half hours.

This one thought, which was the actual SUBTITLE of your latest sleep fixes article (which really just spouted off all the usual sleep advice that has never worked for us) stabbed repeatedly at my heart:

It’s Probably Your Fault

You know what I don’t need, Parents Magazine? One more fucking source telling me how inadequate I am as a parent. You know what I don’t need? To be told outright that if my kid doesn’t fit the mold, there must be something wrong with ME.

You know what I don’t fucking need?

Parents Goddamn Magazine.

But I’ll cancel my subscription tomorrow. Tonight, I’m going to rest comfortably, maybe even in my son’s bed if he wakes up again, because you don’t know me, you don’t know my son, and your useless rag will be in the garbage tomorrow morning.

 

Definitely Not Slacking

I’m almost 74,000 words into my WIP and I’m so close to the end, I can taste it.

It tastes like Deep Woods Off, perfectly burnt marshmallows and summer rain falling from trees, if you’re interested. … It’s a story that takes place in a campground. It makes sense, I swear.

Anyway, blogging’s taking a backseat until I tame this beast. Once it’s done, I’m putting it up on the (metaphorical) high shelf so I can prepare for NaNoWriMo.

I haven’t done this much writing since college and I’m pretty impressed with myself, if you want to know the truth.

Go Eda, go Eda, go!

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I Walk My Own Self

The only people I have ever seen wheeled out of the hospital were the ones who had been wheeled in, people who are wheelchair-bound in every day life.

I walked from the parking garage to the main elevators through the labyrinth hallways to the maternity ward in labor and walked out two days later carrying my own overnight bag (my husband carried our son in the car seat, per protocol). I had laparoscopic surgery once and hauled my own ass out of my recovery bed an hour after surgery, put on my own pants, and walked out to the car. Both of my in-laws walked out of the hospital after multiple surgeries, as have their relatives and friends. I work across the street from a hospital and spend my breaks watching people walk in and out of that place, not a single wheelchair among them.

So my question is this: Is the insistence upon pushing patients in wheelchairs to the front door an outdated trope in television and movies or is my local hospital just… a really crappy one?

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In Locker Rooms and Space Ships

LET ME TELL YOU WHAT I SAW and why children’s media needs to set a better example these days than presidential candidates who go about grabbin’ people without their consent.

I have complained before about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and their newest incarnation where they go to space because a black hole ate the Earth or some such and a robot with a human brain flies them around looking for space bugs and rhinos or something. That should tell you how much attention I pay to the plot of the show. I can tell you that they came back to Earth at some point and April went all nutty because of an alien crystal but that’s all I got. I’m sure there’s a forum somewhere you can refer to if you’re that interested.

I was, however, paying attention the other day when a repeat of their first day in space played on my television. THE VERY SAME television on which I watched the Presidential Debates. THE VERY SAME television on which I watched the SNL cold open where Cecily Strong, in response to Alec Baldwin’s Trump, performed the standard female physical reaction to male creepy-ickiness: the arm cross, body hug, boob-hide.

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THEN I watched the Ninja Turtles episode and saw this:

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The arm cross, body hug, boob-hide girls use instinctively when a dude is making her feel uncomfortable. Why is April uncomfortable? Because she’s shy and self-conscious about her new jumpsuit? No. Because a robot with a human brain is standing behind her? No. Because THIS happened just moments before:

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I’m sure the animators think they did a great job humanizing April by using a gesture they’ve seen girls make a million times. I’m also sure the animators were the REASON the girls made that gesture. Because they’re creeps. And ick.

So let me just spell it out to anyone who’s confused.

  1. Female bodies don’t exist to be looked at and/or sexualized
  2. When someone shrinks and hugs themselves, they are not welcoming your attention
  3. Girls watch cartoons too, goddamnit. Stop it. Stop sexualizing all the female cartoon characters. Stop making it normal to make girls uncomfortable you sick sons of bitches.

This isn’t ok. Why don’t people understand that none of this is ok?

Hello My Name is WRITER

I went to college with a woman whose life plan involved “getting on a soap opera and just like, doing that for a while.” She assured us all she had a friend or an aunt or someone who could help her and while we all smiled and nodded, she neglected to audition for any plays, refused to volunteer for any student films, was much too busy to attend local casting calls and spent most of her time barely attending classes and showing up to sorority parties without having helped in any sort of event planning. Apparently, she thought that if she majored in Theater and had a friend in the biz, her life would fall into place as if by fate or magic and all she would have to do was her hair and makeup.

If I remembered her name, maybe I’d look her up to see which chain restaurant she was working at but there was literally nothing about her other than her lack of ambition that I can recall right now. And I’m trying! She wore sweatshirts sometimes? She had brownish or blondish hair? She… chewed gum? That’s all I got.

I’m thinking about Sweatshirts because I keep seeing these motivational whoosits for writers on Twitter and Tumblr in the vein of “Keep writing until your signature becomes and autograph” and “Imagine your favorite writer* becoming your biggest fan”.

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*Chuck Palahniuk is one of my favorite writers. He seems like a bit of a psycho if you wanna know the truth. He… doesn’t need to know who I am, thanks.

I feel like the problem with these things is that they’re just setting most of us up for disappointment. Becoming famous as a writer doesn’t seem like an easy thing for the best and most prolific of writers, never mind for those of us writing our second novel 20 minutes at a time while our kids nap (or, you know, whatever everyone else is doing).  I see so many unrealistic expectations on Twitter that it makes me a little sad. These are the people who are going to give up when what they want doesn’t come easy.

My husband and I own a small business that caters mostly to the after-school crowd with a small smattering of adults who enjoy the activity. We knew from the outset that this business wouldn’t make us rich. We had very reasonable expectations for what our student capacity was, for how much money we could hope to make, and how we’d have to set up our lives to continue running this business while also paying our bills and eventually taking care of our child.

The Small Business Association mentor we were set up with was NOT FEELING IT. He was a retired CEO. He had built and destroyed and rebuilt companies 10 times the size of ours and why were we even bothering him with this piddly shit? Then he set up an appointment with an evil evil lawyer who mocked us viciously before busting out a contract she actually thought we’d sign. Go Big or Go Home, they both said.

We went home. And to the library. And to small business owners we knew and trusted. And then we built a decent part-time small business that pays our mortgage and home expenses while our second “day” jobs supplement that. It’s all working out just fine because we went into the situation with 1) realistic expectations and 2) a willingness to put in the right amount of effort to accomplish our goals.

I approach writing the same way. I’ve always wanted to write a novel but for a long time, I couldn’t get past the feeling that nothing I ever wrote was good enough. It’s when I stopped trying to please ANYONE else and just wrote for myself that I finally accomplished my goal. My novel is not famous or outstanding or life-changing or, you know, selling very well on Amazon. But I wrote it. Some people read it. One of them left a good review. And for a first time novelist, that’s freaking fantastic! I’m very happy with myself for accomplishing a goal. I’m happy with my one 5-star review. And two of my best friends read it and thought it was great, which is enough for me right now.

The thing is, if I wanted to write a best-seller, I’d have to put in a whole lot more effort. I might have to hire a professional editor. I’d definitely have to do some serious marketing. I’d probably start looking for an agent or submitting my manuscript to publishers or contests to get more exposure. I’d have to work! Hard! And I’m… not willing to do that. I have two jobs. And a kid. And other responsibilities and hobbies and I’m not willing enough to re-prioritize my life so I can put that kind of effort into my writing.

At some point, with any endeavor, you have to figure this out: Here’s the amount of effort I’m willing to put in and here’s the reasonable result I can expect from that output.

Sweatshirts didn’t quite understand that concept. A lot of the writers I see on Twitter don’t get it either. And those motivational cards are just a symptom of this disease of wanting more than you’re willing to put in to get it.

In the words of John Lennon, “a working class hero is something to be.” You can still write without being a best-seller. You can still be proud of your work with only one Amazon review. You can still call yourself a writer if you’re putting some effort in to your writing. But you’re never going to be Castle without the plucky attitude and custom-made vest.

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We can’t all be Castle. We can’t… any of us be Castle, really.

 

One of Those Writing Prompts

I’m just not that type of girl, that rollin’ down my stockings all slow and tantalizing, wearing high heels and nothing else kind of texting you at midnight type of girl, that more bang for you buck, more cushion for the pushin’ kind of super girl, popping off my buttons to get it off faster. I’m not that type of look at me, be impressed, keepin’ my lipstick fresh and my hairstyle tight kind of girl who answers personal ads or swipes in either direction because I don’t want the kind of boy who wants any of that. I want the kind of boy who don’t need to Be A Man to be a man with me, none of that no calling til she wants it bad, putting her up on a pedestal only to knock her down kind of boy who can’t be a friend, who can’t be a partner, who can’t get beyond power dynamics in sex or love and see me as a woman, a person, an equal. I’m not the type of girl who puts up with nonsense or narcissism or sexism. I don’t play games of who wears the pants and who bakes the pies, who takes out the trash and who cares for the children. What type of girl am I? I am a woman and don’t you forget it.

None of Us Are Good Enough

I can be obsessive, especially when something is bothering me. And the Scary Mommy Shame Articles are really bothering me. More so than they should, honestly, because I’ve visited the site a few times this week and I’ve found a great number of lovely articles and heartbreaking articles and insightful articles. So why 1) are so many of the douchy ones showing up on my FB feed and 2) for real, why am I so very bothered by them?

I think… I have discovered why.

It’s the Myth of the Super Woman. It’s the cultural expectation that we, as women, are only entitled to equal treatment if we can be all the things all the time to all the people. If you’re going to work in a male-dominated industry, you must be the smartest and contribute the most but you must do it without being too domineering. If you’re going to be an athlete, you must have the most skills and talent, enough to rival men, but you must look real good doing it. If you’re going to be a politician, you must be the perfect blend of strength and vulnerability, smiling when we want you to smile and being serious when we want you to be serious, having the perfect solution to every problem and never making any mistakes or missteps.

mom-shaming-300x185And if you’re going to be a mom, well… get ready. Because you can’t possible be a good mom if you disagree with the masses. You can’t possibly be a good mom if you work or if you don’t work, if you sleep train or if you don’t sleep train, if you breastfeed or if you don’t breastfeed (or if you do so publicly or hidden away in a bathroom stall). You must have all the skills of a traditional mom: sewing, cooking, cleaning. You must have all the skills of a modern mom: budgeting, scheduling, homework help/educational activity leading. And you must constantly, obsessively compare yourself with other good moms to make sure you’re keeping up.

It’s the Myth of the Super Woman that forces us to compare ourselves to others, find ourselves superior or inferior, and then write shitty blog posts and articles to justify our superiority or inferiority. I’m not a great cook so I have to crap all over people who make their own baby food. I can sew so I have to crap all over people who buy Halloween costumes (by the way, I don’t like to sew. I don’t make things. I already bought my son a costume from Target). I breastfed so I have to shame the nonbreastfeeders. I didn’t sleep train so I have to make excuses for why my son still doesn’t sleep through the night.

My God, people, can we just give it a freaking rest? Can we stop tattling on our neighbors for letting their kids stand in the doorway unsupervised? Can we let the people who bake well make the cookies and the people who schedule well plan the events? Can we accept our own choices as being valid and others’ choices as mostly being none of our damn business? Can we chill the frig out for 5 minutes and just live our own lives the best way we know how?

Nope. Apparently not. Because if it’s not one thing, it’s another. If it’s not Super Women in the workforce, it’s Super Women at home. If it’s not Super Women in politics, it’s Super Women in business. If it’s not breastfeeding and sleep training, it’s public school vs private school or soccer vs karate. Maybe it’s just the nature of people to be competitive or maybe it’s the reality of the society we live in that women in particular have to constantly be distracted by bullcrap to keep from rising up and taking over.

Either way, I’m out. I don’t want to play the comparison game anymore. I’ll be over here making the best informed decisions about parenting I can and voting for the only qualified candidate, despite her imperfections because frankly, she is a Super Woman. I challenge anyone to measure themselves against the standards she has been held up to and not come out looking like a hypocrite or an elitist or just a thoroughly imperfect person. At least she’s capable and qualified and dedicated, which is the best you can say for any mother these days. For any woman, actually. Most of us our doing more than our very best and all of us aren’t nearly enough no matter what we do. And none of that is going to change with That Man in office.

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