Bewareness of Apathy

I am in awe of people who can stand up and do the right thing when they’re well aware of how many monsters are waiting to tear them down. It’s a kind of bravery I cannot conceive of in my own life and why I concentrate on finding small acts of kindness and courage instead.

But for every selfless act that pins a hero down to be scrutinized and repudiated, there’s a couple hundred selfish acts of hubris that’re all spectacle and no soup and THAT is why I can’t find good parking today at work.

The hospital I work near is having its annual Walk-a-Thon to fill the coffers of their Walk-a-Thon fund while claiming to Fight For a Cure! From what I hear, very little of that money goes to research, researchers, equipment, lab space rental, clinics, clinicians, or clinical trials. I suspect that the bulk of that cash flowing from the feet currently pounding the pavement goes into the department that advertises and runs This. Very. Event. Some money is given to research but I have a feeling they spend more on the giant fake check they take pictures of themselves handing over to someone in a white lab coat than on any of the actual work.

Can we just stop? Can we stop with the awareness raising and start with the ACTUAL WORK of making things better? I don’t want to go to a Cancer Walk. I want the government to supply the NIH with enough revenue to give grants to promising research. I don’t want any more college students marching around campus to Take Back the Night. I want it to be pretty freaking obvious that someone who has MULTIPLE accusations of sexual misconduct doesn’t unquestionably deserve a new job with bigger responsibilities.

I am plenty aware of cancer and sexual assault, but thanks for the colorful ribbon.

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I don’t disagree that education is important but the people walking by my window right now aren’t learning about cancer. They’re part of the spectacle, not part of the cure.

 

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Because Underneath, We’re All Wearing Sports Bras

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Sometimes I feel this cheerleader vs band geek vibe with the ladies who Zumba in the studio next to my dojo. Here I am in my baggy uniform, focused on perfecting my technique and translating principles into action, the nerd who wants to do better, be better, learn and understand it all. And there they are in their neon spandex and crop tops, laughing and Instagramming and letting it all hang loose. They came here to party and exercise is the byproduct. And they’re not gonna let anyone forget that.

Back when I was a band geek, I watched those cheery bitches look down their perfect little noses at people like me and I thought, “What are you doing that I can’t do?” And then I said it out loud to anyone who would listen. And then, because I had something to prove, I did it. I tried out. I made the squad. I did everything those girls did! And I hated every second.

Not the cheerleading part. That was fun. But spending all that time with people who obviously had different values than me, who prioritized social events and physical appearance, whose ambitions were so far removed from mine that I questioned whether I wanted to even pretend to follow the path they were leading me down.

Eventually, I quit. I went back to band. I spent my time with people who liked the same things I liked, who wanted to be and to do similar things, whose friendships added to my high school experience rather than taking away from it. That’s where the value was, I thought, in comfort and support and belonging.

And that’s true. One of the things I keep reading about self-esteem in children and teenagers is needing to feel a sense of belonging. I never felt it on the cheer squad. I did in band. I do in the martial arts. Both of those activities helped me discover my strengths and weaknesses, my needs and wants in an environment where I felt cared for and supported. Those are the experiences that help us define ourselves.

The thing is, cheerleading was a valuable experience too and more so for the people it meant something to. So is Zumba. The whole goal of the place next door, their very mission statement, is to empower people (especially women) to feel good in their skin, to feel sexy and confident and to love their bodies in a healthy, productive way. I love it! I love the owner, who is fiery and passionate and inspiring. I love the way the members support each other openly on social media, praising accomplishments and coming together over tragedies. I even think Zumba itself is a pretty cool way to exercise if that’s your thing.

It’s just not my thing. It’s too loud, there are too many people, the neon lights and disco balls are too much for me and I don’t feel empowered by dancing. I feel empowered by fighting. I like moderately-lighted quiet rooms with plenty of space between people. I like to concentrate on what I’m doing and what I’m learning. I want to feel like I have control over my body and my movements and I want to be comfortable in loose-fitting clothes while I do it.

I prefer to spend my time with people who feel the same way as me. I’m sure the Zumba women do too.

And we’re not teenagers. For the most part, we’re middle-aged women trying to find time for ourselves outside of our children or families or work or responsibilities. We’re trying to relieve our stress before it destroys us, keep our bodies from falling apart when it feels inevitable, and we’re trying to take care of ourselves by surrounding ourselves with like-minded people with similar values and goals.

We’re more alike than unalike*, I remind myself when their music gets a little loud. We’re all here for the same reason, I say when someone from my world comments on theirs. We all deserve to feel like we belong and that we’re worth the effort, I stress to anyone who will listen, especially when they take up too much time in the single women’s bathroom we all share.

And also, this place needs more bathrooms.

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*My dojo had the Maya Angelou poem, Human Family, on the bulletin board recently.

Time to Pub That Themeless Series of Flash Fics

I haven’t self-published anything this year and for pretty good reason but with NaNoWriMo looming, I’m starting to feel bad about that.

I mean, I shouldn’t. I… had a child. I… suffered from postpartum depression. I… was the primary caretaker for two young children while also working two part-time jobs. The fact that I wrote at all is amazing.

But I’m so much about moving forward, especially in my writing career, that this past year feels like a limbo time suck of cognitive dissonance.

I really just want to feel like I completed something. And I didn’t. And it’s disheartening.

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I Never Dream of Flying

Do only the briefest of moments pass between the end of one NaNo and the prep for the next or did I really spend that entire time binging Agents of Shield and reading books I hated and ultimately gave up on?

I’m already getting emails from the good people at NaNoWriMo asking me to announce my novel and here I am all, what day is it again?

I do have an idea, though! Based on a dream I had and a reality I see a lot of my students living, it’s a YA adventure about the appearance of perfection. Sounds derivative, yes. Might be. Don’t know yet because my “prep” is usually like, “remember that dream I had one time about that girl and it felt like I had to lie to everyone all the time or clowns would eat me? What would that story look like? Who’s that girl? What’s the real life equivalent of feeling like clowns would eat me at any moment?”

It’s a strategy that’s worked for me in the past:

“Remember that dream I had where I was sitting on a bench with Daniel Grayson from Revenge and we had these two kids we needed to figure out how to take care of but they definitely weren’t like OUR kids and some really bad shit was happening like fires and destruction and apocalypses and whatnot?”

homecomingThe Homecoming Effect

What starts as a meaningless fling between Bunny, an emotionally-conflicted older woman who just left her battle-scarred husband and Daniel, a hopelessly infatuated younger man recently graduated from college, is curtailed by a series of explosions that destroys schools and hospitals sending the couple 200 miles from home with three children in tow. When the found family seeks safety in a strict religious community, they are forced to concoct a web of lies to appear legitimate and avoid being exiled, or worse. Can they maintain their ruse to avoid suspicion and keep their family together or will the secrets they keep from each other drive them apart? And how much of the trauma they discovered her husband and his father shared upon returning from war was ultimately responsible for the tragic events that lead to their new lives?

Ultimately, though, I imagined Daniel Grayson as the young Daniel and Derek Hale as the older Daniel and… it was a fun book to write.

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Now we’ve got the Noah Centineos and Cole Sprouses of the world to imagine playing our characters. Not the same, or maybe I’m just old and stuck in my ways, but it helps to imagine an adorable smile shining down on your characters as motivation to keep writing.

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Point being, it’s a strategy and it works for me and I might change my mind six times before I get there but at least I’ve got a starting point, right?

Cull It, Cull It Real Good

Squatting in a corner of my living room the other day, on Danger Baby patrol because my girl is a stunt woman in training, I googled “how to cull toys” on my phone.

Not “how to organize” not “how to cut down on”. I asked the all-knowing google how to CULL!

to reduce or control the size of (something, such as a herd) by removal (as by hunting) of especially weaker animals; also to hunt or kill (animals) as a means of population control. The town issued hunting licenses in order to cull the deer population.

 

Apparently, I wanted those bastards MURDERED. I must CONTROL the population. I must DESTROY!

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It’s how I’m feeling about everything these days. There’s too much and most of it is some sort of waste and the best thing to do is open a giant trash bag and shove it all in.

That’s why I had to stop reading one of the books I was trudging my way through. I’m seriously considering erasing the second from my Kindle cloud storage as well. Because they are a waste of my tiny precious reading time.

Zeroes by Chuck Wendig. I’m sorry but I do not care. I’m 70% through the book and I couldn’t POSSIBLY care less about what happens to these characters. What are their names again? Why shouldn’t I hate them for being mostly human garbage? What could I be reading instead of sighing and opening the book like it’s a toilet-cleaning chore?

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. Yes, this is what I’m reading instead. I read this as a 20-something and it blew my damn mind. It is no longer brain-splattering revelation to me so much as proof that the world is bullshit but Daniel Quinn had no idea what kind of vapid corn puffs would pass for leadership in 2018.

Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid. “A smart romance” it calls itself. Dangerously misogynist, I’d correct identify it. Stupid girl with a penchant for Jeopardy-winning memorization of facts wooed by stereotypical rich white guy who “just wants to protect her” but, as far as I can tell, just controls her without her awareness of… like, anything, seriously. The main character is so unbearably negligent when it comes to personal safety which, I think, makes the author complicit in the perpetuation of patriarchal mistreatment of women as naive, self-conscious, entirely lacking in self-awareness, and helplessssssss. So helplesssssss. I hate it with a fiery passion and just now, I realized I didn’t even pay for this trash (I did pay for Zeroes so I feel like I have some obligation) so TO HELL, I say. I’m done. DELETE FOREVER.

Instead, I have to decide between Gone Girl and Wild. Either one backwards and upside down would make more sense than that “smart romance”.

Bad books, consider yourselves culled.

Now, what to do with all those freaking LEGOs.

Wakandan Woman

I finally saw Black Panther and YES! YAAAAASS! This is the revolution I was looking for in Wonder Woman and didn’t get. This movie Is It.

I am not a person of color so I can only imagine what it meant from that perspective but from mine, from that of a woman, it was transgressive! And the most radical concept from a female perspective happened toward the end, during the civil war of sorts between the tribes of Wakanda over whether or not to accept the new king.

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W’Kabi asks his lover, Okoye if she would chose her country over him and she says yes.

She’s a patriot, yes, but not in the same way any American woman could ever be. Any American woman can love and serve and support her country–as a politician, public servant, member of the military, diplomat, public school teacher, first responder, you name it–but her country historically, demonstrably, undeniably does not love her back.

Wakanda does.

Wakanda values its women. It places them in positions of power and authority and respect and influence. Women aren’t special interest groups to be catered to when those in power want something and manipulated or oppressed or regulated when they don’t. Wakandan women are just… people.

Themyscira was a magical wonderland of woman power too, of course, but most of the Wonder Woman movie took place in Europe, amongst the men who couldn’t handle seeing Diana’s bare ankles or focus on work when she was in the room. She went to war with a group of men and yeah, she crossed No Man’s Land like a boss, but she didn’t bring any other women with her. She served as a role model to the girls and women in the audience but not the ones in the story. She was the odd woman out. The special one. One IN a million who deserves recognition and respect because she’s actually better and stronger than the men not one OF a million who deserve respect because they just freaking do.

What I saw in Wonder Woman was a woman taking the traditionally male role in the Hero’s Journey. She showed that she can do what a man can do. Um, yes, hello, some of us were already aware of that. What I wanted to see in that movie was a story of woman’s strength.

That’s what I got in Black Panther.

Okoye, Nakia, Shuri, Ramonda, the Doras. Not one special woman but a country full of them. Not one woman rising above to disprove the stereotypes but an entire culture!

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This is the crowd Wonder Woman should be chilling with. That is the peer group she deserves. Batman? Pfft. Superman? No. Give me a movie where all the female superhero characters band together and fix the damn world and I will give you ALL MY MONEY AND ALLEGIANCE.

I’m serious. I’ll buy the extended version with digital download and I won’t even use a coupon.