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Tuesday, August 19th, 2014
11:08 am - "Planning a wedding is super fun!" said no one...
The man sez: Hooray! We're engaged!! And now I spend the next twelve months having endless dreams where I am failing at some impossible task (Peacock farming! Packing non-perishables for a survival scenario such as zombie apocalypse!) that leave me stressed and cranially tired when I wake up. "But," they tell me, "enjoy this process." No one currently planning their own wedding says this. None of them. People who have completed the wedding planning and executed the ceremony and reception, those are the ones that tell you to enjoy an increasingly frustrating and emotionally and financially draining series of demoralizing tasks wherein you realize some deep inner person truths that maybe you were just fine not knowing. When I began this process, the son of one of the specialists at Second Job had also just proposed to his girlfriend. She and I often share hollow-eyed, knowing looks in solidarity.

My dream wedding would be in the courtyard of the National Portrait Gallery. I would do pretty much anything to make this reality, but there are certain things that legally cannot be overcome. Security fences, namely. See, Smithsonian properties cannot be rented for events of a personal nature, such as weddings or bar mitzvahs. Oh, also nothing religious. Nothing political, either. And, duh, no fundraisers. I'm not sure what is left. A convention? Or shooting a music video? I have no idea.

I turned to the internet to find an alternative elegant, interesting museum-like space. The National Museum of Women in the Arts was my first choice, but Mimsy spent the entire metro ride home listing reasons why, while she also loved the space, it probably isn't very ideal for our guests. For the record, at least one of her many reasons would be the case with ANY venue. The complete story of disappointments is too long and too boring to be worth recording in full, but let me just say that booking a venue is really similar to buying a car.

My next great hope was the Corcoran Gallery. I firmly believe that the universe is built on coincidence, that there isn't really fate but the human mind's compulsion to seek connections and construct patterns. That said, of course I find out that afternoon via NPR that the Corcoran has just completed a merger with the National Gallery. Oh? So now the same rental restrictions apply to this gorgeous building? Fantaaaaaaaaaaaastic.

Le search... she continues...
Comments: say it to my face, bitch.
Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
6:24 pm - The Yes Man
The Man sez: Yay! Journaling! Enough celebration.

I have this problem where people offer me money to do unpleasant things and I say yes. It could be impossibly inconvenient, physically draining or disgusting, even straight up insulting ("You babysit, right?" as though a 28 year old gainfully employeed college educated woman living a hour away from the asker has nothing to do on a Friday evening...) (no insult to any other person who fulfills one or more of those categories and does indeed babysit but I have, like, no interest in babysitting ever again. STOP ASKING.) and I just mutter "...ok, I'll do it." People think my mom gets me these cherry jobs, like there is some stock ticker-esque device my mother keeps beside her desk that spits out something other than crappy, low-paying drudgery. That's why I'm here (the place where I actually am right now, which is what I lovvvvvvingly refer to as "Second Job") at 6:fucking17 pm on a perfectly gorgeous Thursday afternoon in late May instead of almost literally anywhere else. I would tour a sanitation plant right now if I had less of a sense of obligation. Actually, I would tour a sanitation plant regarless - that shit is interesting HEY-OH! Stop flushing flushable wipes, PS. Look it up. Ummmmmm, oh, so I agreed like a dipshit to help my mom's coworker with childcare for this stupid meeting that is supposed to have childcare but the previous people who agreed to this crapployment opportunity just effin' flaked over and over. That's how I get these jobs, coworkers. People come to my mom in desperation and she throws me under a fucking (school)bus. This is a thing I work on with my therapist, my inability to disappoint. Guh. Okay, time to make the donuts.

current mood: annoyed
Comments: say it to my face, bitch.
Tuesday, December 6th, 2011
6:01 pm - People Say Ignorance Is Bliss, But I Don't Know...
The Man sez: Coworker 1 is pregnant, and we are all sssssssuper excited for her. Coworker 2 has adopted the position of pregnancy mentor because she has a baby. I have this overwhelming urge to school them on not being ridiculous every time I hear C2 tell C1 crazy bs. I have a very low tolerance for bs (and pain!) so I find myself rolling my eyes in an exaggerated manner behind C2's back many times each and every day. Some of C2's gems include which sex position will ensure a specific gender, a psychic C2 found on the Internet who will commune with the spirits to determine the exact day of delivery of her current and future babies (for a fee), an amber necklace for babies to wear to ease the discomfort of teething (with... magic?), all kinds of folk gender tests for the unborn baby (mixing pee with cabbage water, suspending a ring on a string over her belly, Chinese zodiac calculator, etc) a confusing mix of pro- and anti-hospital delivery commentary, and placenta encapsulation. WHY JESUS WHY??

See, these are not aa couple of people who just fell off the turnip truck. Both of them have college degrees. C2's degree is in biology!! How does that shit happen? The older I get, the more shocked I am to discover how very little critical thinking is applied by the supposedly enlightened people around me. Oh, the humanity. I don't consider myself to be one of the great thinkers of the modern age, but seriously come the fuck on.

But ignorance is bliss. I do not underestimate the placebo effect. The part of me that cannot abide by misinformation (e.x. The time I told my linguistics professor that the textbook he assigned had a pretty glaring error in the first chapter {the number of words for "snow" in eskimo, which is a factoid often passed around but was thoroughly debunked decades ago. By Linguists.} ) wants desperately to shout "Nn, but that thing you just said is so, so incorrect and I can easily disprove you!!!" But there is a new part, a new voice in among the chorus of my inner monologue, and this voice tells me to be judicious. Is this bit of wrong information potentially dangerous? Could it allow for a beneficial placebo effect? Because I've lived a colorless life. I know how difficult it is to look at the world through cement-colored glasses. As disgusting as placenta encapsulation may be to me and as scientifically impossible as the effective mechanism by which it purports to "treat" baby blues, so what? It probably won't harm her or the baby. I would say that it's her money to waste, but C1 is the type of highly suggestable person for whom a placebo is as effective as authentic medical treatments. Snake oil is not a waste of money if you believe its cure. Well, as long as it's not the old timey snake oil that had, like, mercury or lead paint or whatever deadly shit people treated as a panacea. Thus, even though I found plenty of evidence to debunk the placenta's curative properties, I kept my mouth shut.

But I'm not finished. The first consideration is the potential danger in C2's New Age homeopathic BS. Eating your own afterbirth is nasty but not particularly risky for the average woman. The amber baby teething necklace is a prime example of a ridiculously ridiculous "natural" product with real risks. First of all, you're willing to put a necklace on a baby? Like, a string of pea-sized beads around the neck of a creature whose muscles are too weak to reliably support its heavy melon head? You won't put so much as a blanket in the crib with the baby, but a necklace that presents a constant low-level threat of strangulation is totes cool? Huh? This brings me to the second point, which is that "natural" and homemade remedies are of an unknown strength. This means dosing is kinda impossible. Oh, and companies that make "natural" remedies such as supplements (you know, the kind meant for consumption) are not regulated by the FDA. All manner of shit (literal shit. Actual feces) has been found in these unregulated products because, well, no one is regulating the production. Ew. You use unscented sensitive skin BPA-free and eag only organic grass-fed free-range hormone-free everything, but a product that may or may not contain rat droppings is totally cool. For a baby, a human whose developmental process includes putting everything in their mouths. Also, not all things found in nature are good for you. Three just off the top of my head - urushiol oil (poison ivy), mad cow disease (spongeaform encephalitis-causing prions), digitalis (deadly poison in foxglove leaves). Third, how the fuck is a fucking necklace going to do anything??? No, really. Think about this. The rate of absorption through the skin is very low compared to, like, everything else. That's why the skin is such a bangin' organ; it keeps the shit outside outside. It's a quality barrier. When your baby is sick, you don't rub the antibiotics into his skin. You don't apply immunizations topically. I readily admit that there are times when you will do that, apply something topically, but it usually goes on the thing it's supposed to fix. Last time I checked, my gums were not a part of my neck. To sum up, you want to purchase a product whose therapeutic effect is unknown, the strength of each dose cannot be controlled, and it must be used in the form of a choking or strangulation hazard FOR YOUR BABY. Yeah, I think I'll say something.
Comments: say it to my face, bitch.
Thursday, November 10th, 2011
5:11 pm - What JoePa Did
The Man sez: JoePa, Joe Paterno, was like a living Santa Claus to me. He was this mythical figure, a symbol of goodness in humanity and nice guys finishing first or at least accepting defeat gracefully, but he was real. I know; I had the exceptional fortune of meeting him as the Penn State team was boarding their busses from the hotel for the Meadowlands before the Kickoff Classic in August 1997. I even remember the outfit I was wearing (blue and white, natch). That's how big a deal it was. My parents began indoctrinating my brother and me into the religion of PSU football since Infancy. No, really. My parents have a framed caricature of Baby Zack in a PSU uniform hanging in our front hall. I eventually stopped believing in Santa. I never stopped believing in JoePa.

I recognize, of course, that he is not blameless in the matter of Sandusky's alleged acts of child molestation. For the sake of argument, though, let's subtract him from this situation and consider again the actions of all others involved. The grad student witness, why did he not call the police himself? No, why did he not stop the abused he witnessed as it was happening? This is the part of the story that bothers me most. I once read Murakami's collection of interviews of victims and perpetrators of the 1994 sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway system and subsequently found myself no longer able to be merely an observer in moments of crisis. I have found myself doing things that might seem crazy, things like pulling over to stop a child from beating another child with a tree limb. I insisted we contact Child Protective Services when a student came to class with finger-shaped bruises on her cheeks. Stepping in is not optional in situations like these, so I cannot even begin to conceive of how this grad student was able to see an adult actually raping a child and then walk away. Was JoePa wrong to not notify the police in addition to the administrators to whom he reported the abuse told to him by the grad student? Who cares? An adult did nothing as he watched as another adult sexually assaulted a child. Let me repeat this because it seems as though a far greater issue has been drowned out while every media organization scrambles to shred the reputation of a man undoubtedly more upstanding than anyone else involved - A grown man did not invertene when he walked in on another man raping a child. A grown man did not call the police to report the man he watched rape a child. Read those two sentences aloud and consider again this situation. Joe Paterno did not molest eight boys. Joe Paterno did not walk into the showers at Penn State and see a man sexually assaulting a child. And even disregarding the degree as to which others were negligent in reporting or investigating the allegation of abuse, the person at fault here is Jerry Sandusky. Who? Who is Jerry Sandusky? Several coworkers actually asked this when JoePa's firing was brought up. Jerry Sandusky the person accused of the rape. Jerry Sandusky is the accused child molester.

When I saw the bruises on our student's face and how perfectly the shape mirrored my hand, I immediately showed my lead teacher. She immediately showed our school counselor and principal and they filed a report jointly to CPS. Well, I assume they did. I didn't stay in the room as they filled out the paperwork. I didn't call up CPS and ask how the investigation was progressing. I notified the people I needed to notify if I saw potential signs of abuse. I did what was required of me legally. I don't think these are identical situations. I was sure that my complaint was filed because I helped word the lead teacher's statement. I knew it was investigated because A social worker from CPS came to school to observe and talk to my coworkers and me. I have not idea what followed JoePa reporting the grad student's story to his administration. It is fully possible that the only evidence PSU administrators found at the time was the grad student's story. This is still enough as to require notification of the police but I do understand how someone might, fearing legal retribution for slander, stop short of this step. "Understand" does not mean "agree", of course. I understand how this situation came about. This is not like what happened with the Catholic church despite some easy similarities. One victim went to his parents, his parents contacted the police, the police began investigating Jerry Sandusky on accusations of child molestation. One (disgusting) man, not a small army of them shephearded by a complicit organization into new communities for decades. Jerry Sandusky gained access to his victims through an organization he set up himself. There are so many ways in which sexual predators protect themselves from being exposed. They exoploit not only their victims but the people in their lives who trust them. We all tend to think of the creepy guy in a windowless white van who lures children with stories of lost puppies. If only it were so easy. Children fall victim to people they trust, so the creepy stranger in a van isn't the one from whom children need to be protected. The sad truth is that predators are able to abuse victims because they are able to create opportunities for themselves. Predators are caught when children tell, not when an adult tells another adult. The best way to prevent sexual abuse is to make children aware of what constitutes abuse and that an adult crossing those boundaries is the guilty person. It sucks that all we hear about is what JoePa did or didn't do because this would have been a good opportunity to make children aware of their rights to be protected from abuse. And adults, please please please internalize this: Step in. There are plenty of times when we see something and turn away because maybe it's not our place to step in. When I pulled over to stop that kid with the tree limb, I wasn't thinking "Who am I to approach these children? Am I being a weirdo?" I was thinking about one of the interviews in the book about the Tokyo gas attack where one person noticed a suspicious odor didn't ignore it and, by stepping in, saved lives. Who knows what those kids would have done? A kid I knew in elementary school is in jail for murder because he was angry and brought a baseball bat to a fight in high school. Forget "see something, say something" and just step in.

Anyway, how was your day?

current mood: angry
Comments: say it to my face, bitch.
Thursday, September 9th, 2010
1:59 pm - Manic Mania: The Simon Price Is Right
The Man sez: I dug out my copy of the Manic Street Preachers' "The Holy Bible" LP and put in on my ipod a few weeks ago. I don't know what prompted it - I don't think I've listened to any of CDs my Manics collection in at least five years. To be honest, it all felt quite surreal. I mean, I was so obsessed with MSP at fifteen (and sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen) that it was physical. I was once so upset by a song that I began to cry uncontrollably, Alice had to take me to the nurse, I threw up, and the nurse sent me home from school. Not my finest moment, to be sure. But I can catalog my teenage fanaticism another time. This is about its genesis. This is about Simon Price. This is about Everything.

When I was fourteen going on fifteen, we went to Europe for three weeks. The souvenir my mother bought for my brother was a band biography, Everything by Simon Price. We (me, Mom, three friends from my Girl Scout troop) were bored and waiting for our train to pull in, so Mom agreed to read aloud from this plastic-skinned black brick of a book. She started with the quote that precedes the foreword, the sort of thing no one but my own mother would do. I think she made it through six words before clapping the book shut and exclaiming her disgust. What? What was it that could have put her off so quickly?

Nearly a year passed before I would see the book again. For whatever reason, I wanted to bring it with me on the spring band trip. I think I finished it in three days and immediately began to reread it. I had a mix tape made a few years earlier with the song "Yes" included because I used to hear the rope-skipping bass line through my brother's door constantly. It's a catchy song, musically. His enthusiasm for and relationship to the band made it difficult to feel anything less than he toward them. Everything was the perfect handbook for anyone looking to become a rabid MSP fan. An album like "Generation Terrorists" probably would not have appealed to me at that age because it sounds like a frustrated teenager's re-imagining of Guns 'N Roses. Ah, but you'll miss the symbolism, dearheart. And I'm quite sure I would have glossed over much of the band - b-sides, lyrics, literary and cultural references, band quotes. It would've been all surface and no feeling. Yes, that is a back-reference to MSP. My interest in Everything came at the precise time for the development of my love for the Manic Street Preachers. And this is something that I will always, always value. I read my brother's copy of Everything to the point of disintegration. Really, the binding glue fragmented and bits of yellow resin dust would float out each time I opened it. About thirty pages in the center detached completely. Between the first read in the spring and Christmas of the same year, the book was overloved and trashed. It was a magical Christmas, though. I didn't get the deluxe edition of band photographer/friend Mitch Ikeda's photography book, but I did get another copy of Everything and my brother's complete collection of MSP LPs and singles from 1989 - 1998 (not that I hadn't already appropriated them).

I have never obsessed over anything as intensely as the Manics and Everything. Ten years later, I still feel lines and quotes from Everything pressing along the sides of my inner monologue. Do other people feel this? Do other people have that sort of obsessive residue in their veins, bathing their brains with each pump of their hearts? It's not even conscious and I still have this sliver of ice, this love and pain and nostalgia and sweetness permanently lodged deep in my chest. Do other people feel this way? They must or people like Simon Price wouldn't write books like Everything.

Everything started this love - I say "love" because I can't think of another word that succinctly describes the agony/ecstasy feeling.

current mood: nostalgic
Comments: 3 bitches - say it to my face, bitch.
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