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“When I was a kid…”

Every time I hear an adult complaining that we’re coddling children too much, or too worried about bullying, or focusing too much on race because back in their day people weren’t so sensitive and we worried less about hurting people’s feelings, all I hear is that same argument from the older person who’s afraid of new technology.

That mother, father, whose children have grown and grew up with new technology and new ideas. “I don’t want a smartphone, I don’t need it!” “Why are young people so interested in their social media? Why don’t they pick up a book or have a conversation?” “I hate Facebook!”

Yes, well, that’s probably because you don’t understand how it works and that embarrasses you.

We often talk about how children who grow up with the technology understand it better. It’s just like how it’s easier to teach a child a new language than it is to teach an adult. But I argue that it is much the same as teaching an adult new ways to talk about people who are marginalized, oppressed, stigmatized. It’s an entirely new way of thinking, a language and skill set our parents were not thought to develop because they were told that it wouldn’t matter so long as they just took care of themselves and ignored everyone else.

Our parents were taught to pretend they noticed no difference in each other and to maintain the idea that “everyone is the same.” And yes, while we do all share human qualities and that is important to remember, it is not as important as acknowledging that stereotyping and prejudice exists in society because if you deny that, the problem will only get worse. Just like technology, there may be ways to “do it wrong,” one can get sucked into Facebook and forget to have a real conversation, but Facebook in itself, or technology, is not evil. And it’s not just about “fun” either. It allows people living far away to connect in new and fun ways they might never have imagined. It’s about knowing what’s healthy, and moderating it.

In that same way, we can talk about race, sexual orientation, disabilities and difference without saying or doing prejudice things. You don’t have to be afraid that participating in that discussion makes you a racist.

But older generations don’t WANT to do it, because they’re set in their ways. They don’t want to learn a completely new way of thinking, and yes, it is a totally new way of thinking and socializing. It has its own set of rules and languages. That’s why there are whole majors in college on gender/feminist studies and race.

The second thing I noticed in parallel is that they assume that these problems never existed before. But just as there existed a demand for easy, fun, and creative communication before Facebook existed, so did prejudice. Those problems, those demands, they were always there. Our generation merely found a better way, more effective way of doing it. Just like technology, the modern struggle for social justice is progress. Progress is never a bad thing (and it is also inevitable), what is bad is how some people chose to use it or how they respond to it.

Thoughts on the Concept of Mother’s Day and the Part that Social Media Plays in it

I read a lot of mixed feelings over Mother’s Day on Facebook and other social media this year. I just want to start out by saying that for those of you who posted things about feelings hurt because your parents are no longer with you or because your parents treated you abusively, that I am sympathetic to your struggle and I want to thank you for feeling brave enough to share that because it’s an important topic that we should acknowledge. For those of you who have lost your parents, I am so sorry. I don’t think it matters how old you are or how long it’s been since it happened, it will always affect you. For those of you who have been abused by your parents, there is no reason you should have been exposed to such a horrible experience and I have to admit there have been some rather insensitive things posted about Mother’s Day that did not consider how you felt. To be clear, this article from me, is not about being against Mother’s Day or Father’s Day in general, it’s about how people chose to express that love.

There’s a lot of posts about Mother’s or Father’s Day that look something like this:

That might seem sweet at first, and it may even seem like it’s how all mothers should behave, but I’m afraid that it is based on false ideas that are actually rather insensitive in reality.

I hate to break it to everyone, but no one, mother or father, is bound by some kind of law of nature to love their child no matter what. Some parents are abusive physically. Some are emotionally manipulative. Some try to make their offspring everything they were not and try to live vicariously through them. Some parents have babies and then abandon them to die. I have heard countless stories from queer friends or authors whose parents kicked them out of the house simply for their sexual or gender orientation. None of those things are loving actions and they all prove that just because someone is a “mother” or “father,” does not mean that person will treat their offspring lovingly. A person earns the title of “Mother” or “Father” the minute your baby is born, but that most certainly does not make them a good one, and it certainly doesn’t make them a “saint” or a “god.”

Also, should we really be saying something so ludicrous for the sake of the parent? How can any parent, good and loving as their intentions may be, possibly live up to labels like “god” or “saint?” Now I know we all say that’s it’s merely flattery and an exaggeration to make your mom feel good, but I think that given enough times, it really does start to put societal pressure on those parents to be perfect. Is that fair either? Maybe it would be better to instead, put real thought and specific stories/examples of what that mother/father did for you as an individual, rather than use a cliche hyperbole like “saint.”

That being said, it follows then that for a person’s own mental and physical health, they are not obligated by anything to show their parents unconditional love. If someone is hurting you, you get away from that person and you do everything you can to heal and find a place where people support you in a healthy manner.

Posts like this are utterly ridiculous. I will repeat, you are not obligated to do this and it does not make you a bad offspring if you don’t express the same sentiment or click “share” or “like.” This post puts as all in an awkward place and is pretty insensitive to people whose parents were abusive or unsupportive. It also puts those of us who are just private people in general in an awkward place too, does it?

Some people don’t like showing any kind of affecting in public and especially not on social media and even believe showing affection in this manner is shallow. I personally, think that it is fine and even can be moving, beautiful, and a kind of expressive release that might even uplift others, but not at the cost of making other people feel obligated to express that in a way that they are not comfortable with.

Again, I don’t dislike the concept of Mother’s Day in general, nor do I dislike that one would express love for their mothers/fathers, it’s just about how one chooses to express that love.

There’s another part of me that wishes it was merely “Guardian’s Day” or something like that, because I feel that not only does Mother’s/Father’s day often encourage sexist ideas (mom gets a day at the spa/flowers, a new vacuum cleaner while dad gets a tie and a new lawnmower), but there are so many people left out – grandparents, foster parents, step-parents might feel weird. What if an aunt or uncle or older siblings raised an individual? It’s just that the real people do deserve to be acknowledged are not necessarily “mom” or “dad” (in fact some may not deserve it at all). The people who deserve praise are anyone who loved a child, supported them, helped them to learn and treated them the way a loving, caring guardian should treat them. 

I like the idea of rewarding the parental figures who are still with us (while honoring and remembering those who guardened kindly and have now passed), and who were/still are positive influences in the lives of their children – but I hope that it in doing so, it encourages those positive behaviors, it inspires more parents to do the same, rather than encourages offsprings to make gross and insensitive generalizations because I know not every individual has been so fortunate in their parental experiences.

Things I Used to Believe as a Little Kid

1) I could watch people on t.v. but somewhere, somehow, other people were watching me through their own crappy television. I also wondered if they also had someone watching them on a t.v. and if it was just some endless circle of people watching each other on t.v.

2) Jesus and Barney were on the same level. Apparently I once told my mother who was staying home sick from work, “I’m sorry you’re sick mommy. Jesus could make you feel better…or Barney.” Both magical, both imaginary, made sense at the time.

2) If I believed hard enough, I could fly like Peter Pan, or even walk on water…maybe that was also Jesus inspired but I don’t know, my 5-year-old mind was a pretty nonsensical place so hard to say that there was any “reason” involved whatsoever.

Walkin’ on water like bitch, I’m fabulous!

3) If I closed my eyes or hid under the covers, the monsters in the closet couldn’t see me. If I had my dog with me, the monsters wouldn’t attack me. If my sister and I shared the same room, the were less likely to attack me. Strength in numbers theory, I guess?

4) If I didn’t play with one of my toys, its feelings would be hurt. I was constantly afraid of them feeling left out or letting myself outgrow them because I could never throw away a friend, right?! This was only exacerbated by the viewing of the Toy Story series. Thanks a lot Pixar.

5) I believed my vacuum cleaner was a scary monster that would attack me. My vacuum cleaner looked like a hammerhead shark-robot-thing. I don’t know that I truly, truly believed that it was dangerous, but I do know that it was loud and scary and my mom used to wait til I was playing outside to clean with it sometimes.

6) I believed the “chicken” we ate at our dinner table wasn’t the same as the feathery, clucking thing I saw in books or on t.v. I don’t know why I never realized the connection, but when I was told that they were in fact, the same “chicken,” and I was eating dead animals, I felt sick to my stomach. I still feel a little bad about it sometimes…but not enough not to eat it.

I think I recall being equally freaked out to hear about where eggs came from.

7) I believed that no one was smarter than my mom and dad and that they knew pretty much everything. It turns out that they are smarter than the average bear, but there are lots of people who are smarter like Dumbledore…and he’s totally a real person right?

About Letting People Influence You

“You shouldn’t care about what people think of you.” “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” 

How many times have we all heard this? That we just shouldn’t care? That we shouldn’t complain about it because the real problem is us and our opinions of ourselves?

The problem with this statement is, humans are built to care about what others think. It’s certainly true that it varies from person to person just how much it affects them, and some people may have social disorders, or have developed mental disorders to cope with trauma, etc. Nevertheless, human beings, as a majority, have evolved to care about each other’s opinions. It was (and still is) a vital part of our survival. Being a person who was considered “weird” or was disliked, ran the risk of making you an outcast, and that made you more vulnerable in general. Humans are social animals, in part, because we developed an awareness that we had strength in numbers.

The fact of the matter is that people are born with a natural inclination to please others, at least in part, for your own survival. I am not suggesting that the rational action to take is to make people like you, or to bend to whatever people say you should be or do. You can still recognize that while the words or disapproval frightens you, hurt your feelings, may hurt your chances in future social endeavors, that it may still be worth it to be true to yourself. Most of us are intelligent enough to realize that while strength in numbers is a good thing, we are no longer cavemen and there are certainly positives to attending goals your own way and even positives in experiencing a certain degree of solitude.

Humans have also evolved the rationale to see when criticism is useful, be it presented in an unkind or kind manner, because there is value in both. I would argue that constructive criticism is often more productive for both the one giving and the one receiving criticism, because it is usually more easily received and accepted and it takes fewer steps for a person to take corrective action when they do not also have to first heal from emotional damage. Actions to correct the mistake, if it was indeed a mistake, are more likely to be taken. However, even information presented cruelly, is not necessarily “wrong” in that the information and may be correct and knowledge taken away from it.

What I try to do, is first accept however it is I’m feeling and say “I’m feeling really hurt about concerned about those words, but that is ok. I accept my feelings.” If you don’t, you’re only adding guilt onto your already anxious mind and irrational expectations of yourself as a moral being. How can one maintain a healthy mindset if one does not set reasonable goals? If you expect something inhuman of yourself, you are setting yourself up for failure.  Next, I try to look at the information rationally. The content (regardless of how it was delivered) may contain helpful knowledge, or it might have been totally worthless crap. Knowing that information rarely makes me feel better, but at least then I know whether or not it is worth it to avoid making the same decision in the future or whether or not it’s worth it to continue dwelling on the issue.

Which brings me to my amended quote:

“You should not allow the irrational opinions of others affect your future actions.”

I would also take care not to dwell on especially hurtful and unhelpful comments. Take note that there is a difference between how the words they said made you feel versus the decision to dwell in thought on them. If you have thought about it and assessed that the information is hurtful and irrational, there is no need to continue the brainstorming further, but that might not mean the pain has gone away. And that is OK. You will feel how you feel. The hurtful words/actions that were said to you might continually pop up. It’s ok, you’re human, you’re a being of social creation. Acknowledge that it hurts you, that it’s still there. Give yourself room to feel however you’re feeling. And then do whatever the fuck you were going to do anyway. Keep being yourself. 

This is obviously more easily said than done, especially if you experience any kind of depression or social injustice. All I can say is to keep putting one foot in front of the other and to try your best to surround yourself with others who believe in you. Just keep going, keep trying. The only constant is change, so if follows that eventually, things will get better. Don’t give up.

Hands

Have you ever noticed how different and expressive two human being’s hands are? We know that no two human’s fingerprints are the same (unless you have an identical twin, but even then your hands will be different from your different activities). Hands tell character, they tell stories.

My hands crack and pop a lot. I have several oddly shaped knuckles that I’ve broken playing rugby and an additional one that I’ve dislocated playing softball. I wouldn’t be surprised if I have arthritis when I’m “too young” to have it. On my third pad on both hands, the ones under my middle fingers, I have calluses from pull-ups (assisted pull-ups, don’t get too excited about it) and free weights. My left hand has calluses on my pointer, middle, and ring fingers from playing guitar.

My mother’s hands are tan from biking. Just the fingertips because she wears finger-gloves. Her fingertips are always sore because she bites them when she’s nervous and she’s nervous a lot. She has long, red nails that are often broken or have additional, accidental paint on them because she’s an artist at the local theater. No one really knows why she bothers to get her nails done because they’re always ruined in a day.

My grandmother’s hands are incredibly soft because she exfoliates and uses expensive lotions to keep them nice. Her skin is lose and her vines are blue and stick out. She wears a class ring and her engagement and wedding ring. The diamond is on the larger side. When I was young and stupid I asked her if I could have it when I died. It’s a regular family joke now. When she speaks to you sincerely, sometimes she will reach out and gently lay her hand on your arm.

My girlfriend’s hands are tiny and lace up with mine perfectly. She has short nails. I think so she won’t pick at them when she’s nervous. Her skin is usually soft, but she complains that sometimes it gets dry. I never notice, but she does and she buys sweet-smelling lotions to keep them moisturized. What I usually notice is her fingers are cold. I’m always trying to warm them up. Her hands and wrists are also strong. She has built up her strength from years of yoga and she’s pretty good at it. Her tiny hands will sometimes support the entirety of the rest of her body during difficult poses in her exercise.

Hands are the tree rings for human beings. They mark what you are. My mother’s hands tell you she’s an active artist, nervous but observant. My grandmother’s hands show her age, her gentleness, her love and loyalty to the ideals of institution, structure, family. My girlfriend’s hands are little, but they are strong. Stress, harsh realities, nothing stops her hands. They just keep working, keep doing their job. I think the marks on our hands tell how we survive. How we live. Make a living. Who the strugglers, the warriors are. Faces are sometimes expressive, but they are often deceptive, they lie. Hands don’t. It is harder to lie with your hands because their past actions, their memories, are marked on the outside for anyone to reflect on while the reflections of the mind are hidden away for only the user to see. I don’t know what my hands say about me. My olive skin and calluses say that I was an active teenager. My guitar calluses that I have an obsession with expressive gesture, an artist perhaps. I wonder what someone else would think of my hands if they saw them? I think we should study and appreciate the beauty in the human hand more in art and between human beings. I think shows how special and individual we all are, expresses how diverse humanity is.

Harry Potter Pick-Up Lines

I’ve seen these floating around and I love them. I decided to add a few of my own. If I duplicated any, I promise it was a coincidence and not on purpose. Please tell me any you’ve heard as I love to hear them.

Harry Potter Pick-Up Lines

If I looked into the Mirror of Erised, all I would see is you.

You’re the Hermione to my Ron. And you can even be Hermione, I’ll be the dumb one.

Not even a pensieve is powerful enough to keep you out of my thoughts.

It doesn’t take a Ravenclaw to decipher that you’re the one for me.

Are you a veela, or just naturally beautiful?

I don’t need Trelawney’s foresight to tell me we’ll end up together.

You are the memory that keeps my dementors at bay.

I’m betting we share a patronus.*

I’d like to hug you more tightly than a devil’s snare.

I would defend our love more ambitiously than the most resourceful Slytherin.

I would switch Hogwarts Houses for you.

My devotion to you is more profound than that of the most loyal and loving Hufflepuff.

I don’t own the rights to this, but I do have a shirt with the logo on it and it’s awesome! You can find it on etsy I believe.

I love you more than Hermione loves learning.

I am not a Gryffindor, I am brave only because it was you who asked it of me.

I would forgive your unforgivable curses.

The powers of Amortentia do not hold a candle to my love for you.

Not even the imperius curse could make me leave you.

When we’re a 100 years old, and you turn to me and ask, “After all this time?” I will say to you, confidently, “Always.”

*A patronus is conjured by the spell caster’s happiest memory (usually one of someone they love) and is a reflection of their soul. If two wizards have the same patronus or their creatures have a close relationship (James and Lily = deer, Ron and Hermoine having terrier and otter), it is suggested that they are “soulmates.” A wizard’s patronus is also known to change to mimic the person’s patronus whom they are in love with (Tonks’s patronus changes to a wolf after she falls in love with Lupin).

Divorce is not “Child Abuse.”

I’m only going to say this once, do NOT “stay together for the sake of the children.”

My grandfather once said to me that he believes “Divorce is child abuse.” I believe he thinks this because of all the grief that he’s seen happen to children because of the arguing, fighting, and coordination it takes to raise children in a loveless and irresponsible relationship. However, I disagree that divorce is the worst thing you can do to a child. I believe the worst thing you can do to your children, as a joint decision, is to argue, fight, and be irresponsible in your loveless relationship…and no, I don’t mean divorce. You don’t have to be divorced to behave that way. There are many loveless marriages, relationships, that exist in exactly the same way. In fact, I’ve met several children who told me bluntly, that they wished their parents had gotten divorced and moved away from each other. Furthermore, there exist many divorces in which the adults behave in a way that is as loving as possible with their ex-spouses, for the sake of the children (as well as to live a more healthy and fulfilling life for themselves). You can be divorced and not call your ex names in front of your children and refuse to argue in front of them. You can refuse to play the telephone game, using your child as the messenger. You can instead, pull up your big boy/girl pants and talk to the person who’s hurt you. Yes, “for the sake of your children.” The children whose parents were in irresponsible marriages whom did not get divorced are often guilty of all these same things. Just because you put a different name or label on the relationship doesn’t mean the behaviors or feelings of that relationship is any different than as if you’d called it something else. It isn’t just the divorcees who are guilty of these behaviors. You can be a forgiving, kind, and loving person to even the people you divorce, but sometimes that requires having a healthy space and requires limiting to your emotional distance to them.You can forgive, but still recognize that being in a marriage is not the healthiest thing to do with the person you divorced. Not for you, not for them, not for your children, not for your family.

Divorce doesn’t make you a failure, it doesn’t make you a bad parent. It means that you were mature enough to recognize that the relationship you were in wasn’t healthy, and could not be fixed without more negative than positive consequences to and for all parties involved. Stop demonizing people for trying to live their lives the best way they know how. Stop judging people for a kind of hurt you might never know. And stop speaking for the children, who now as adults, can tell you that you were and are quite wrong. Despite the hurts it caused me, not only do I believe it was the best thing for my sister and I, but that I’m happier that both my parents are free. As a daughter, THAT is what I want for my parents. That is what I wanted for my family.

You know what I think is “child abuse”? Teaching people and their children that divorce means they have lost their family. This is what happened to me, due in great part, to the strong influence that the Catholic religion had on my family. The church continually said (and sometimes still does) that divorce meant that couples were choosing to “destroying their family,” making them cease to exist. The idea that divorce is such a powerful sin that it is worthy of being excommunicated from the faith, kicked out of the church, from your community, your family is to me, barbaric. That divorce is something of which to be greatly ashamed, when in fact, I think it is the religion and its community who should be ashamed. As if couples and parents don’t grieve and feel guilty enough with a divorce, the last thing they need to have all the people they love turn their backs on them. How are they supposed to continue being good parents without the support of their community? How are they supposed to be good parents and set a good example for their children, when their self-esteem has been so unrightful torn from them? Is it really about the children? Then fucking act like it!

Luckily, modern society and even most religions, have begun to turn away from this behavior and attitude (in general), because they are beginning to realize that what unrealistic expectations it places on people, and how unnecessarily cruel it is to treat someone that way simply because their marriage was no longer feasible. As a child, hearing how ashamed my mother was, my grandparents (and how my grandfather STILL believes divorce is “child” abuse), and father felt, is what truly fucked me up. I wanted to defend both my parents, and more than anything was afraid that divorce meant, “I have lost my family.” My family at that time, was everything that I associated with love and stability, and it was all that made sense to me (and the same is true for most children). I felt completely powerless to change anything and that my life was out of control. That I had lost everything good and stable in my life. In truth, my family was very hurt, no one escaped unharmed or unchanged. It was as though we were all re-born, harder but hopefully smarter. However, my family was not “destroyed,” all those people still exist, not unchanged, but they are still there, and they all still love me. I did not “lose my family,” it simply looks different than it used to. It took a very long time for me to figure that out, no thanks to the church.

For one thing, my mother is happy. It tooks years of struggle, depression, and therapy, but she found herself again. Eventually, she even found a wonderful man to share herself with, who’s a much better match for her. My father too, while still struggling with what he wants, has experienced other partnerships and forms of love. He has been able to learn and grow. My sister and I have more realistic expectations of what a marriage should be, and more importantly, when it’s important to walk away because the relationship is toxic. I may not have had that without my parent’s divorce. My outlook on love and romance is not less hopeful, it’s smarter. And I’m not sorry for it. In fact, it makes me feel more confident in whom I pick as a partner. Meanwhile, I have a larger, happier, more emotionally stable family to support me if I ever do struggle with my relationships, or with anything else in life.

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