The Why Behind the Howl


I’ve done a lot of talking and typing lately that I don’t normally do.  I’ve gotten into internet scraps and blown pretty hard at some people over issues that mean a lot to me.

When it comes to making decisions, I have two filters.  I have my James 3:17 filter and I have my Thor filter.  The Thor filter was born the day my son was, and I looked at him and thought, “I am going to do my best to make this world a better place for you, starting with me.”

My ultimate litmus test is this:  If this were happening to my son, what would I do?  I work from there.

I believe we all want the best for our children.  Our troubles begin when we think the best for our children has to be at the expense of someone else’s child.  Our troubles end when we look at other children and ask ourselves how we can make the world better for all of them.

I want my son to grow up in a world where people work together to see that everyone has enough.  Where, to paraphrase Louis CK, we are all making sure our neighbor’s bowls are full.

I want my son to grow up in a world where you are free to love any consenting adult, who would like to love you back.  I want my son to grow up in a world where you can be any color, or gender, and be the leader of our nation–without people calling you by racial epithets, or genitalia slang.

I want my son to grow up feeling free to worship as he chooses, knowing that if the next guy prays differently, he is no more, or less good, moral, or human than my son.  I want my son to grow up with an open mind, an open heart, and a solid understanding of when to close both of those functions against bigotry, racism, and unkindness.  I want him to stand tall with compassion and empathy, and carry a big stick of intolerance for cruelty.

The world is a scary place, full of anger, and hatred, and abuse.  It is full of people willing to oppress, degrade, and dehumanize others for power and financial gain.  I want my son to stand against that.

So, I have to stand against that, not just agree to disagree with it.

I don’t have any power, or prestige going for me.  All I have is my voice and my ability to type really fast.  But that’s why I post about religion and politics.  I’m trying to stand against a tide, hoping my toehold will make my son’s footprint deeper, so he can raise the next generation to do even better for humanity.  It’s not much, but it’s all I’ve got, and shame on me if I don’t use it.

Two Wins, Four Losses and Counting


I just put a lot of time and effort into writing what (I thought) was a funny post about the best places to flee to if you are upset over Obamacare and Marriage Equality.  Then, I had to step away from the computer to run an errand, and on my way back I thought, “That isn’t helpful.”  Maybe this isn’t helpful either, but at least it isn’t mockery.

My heart is too heavy to fight, or make fun right now.  As excited as I was to see the SCOTUS thumbs-up to healthcare and marriage equality, I haven’t been able to shake the church shooting in Charleston.  And, as I was celebrating marriage equality, another story came across my news feed relating that three Black churches have been burned down in the past five days, and I can’t help seeing it as response to the outrage Charleston provoked, and as a threat to people that they need to sit down and take what’s shoveled at them, or die.

I have this to say:

Shame on you if you think you are better than someone else, or deserve more than someone else because you like your sex missionary style.

Shame on you if you think you are better than someone else, or deserve more than someone else because your skin is light.

Shame on you if you think you are better than someone else, or deserve more than someone else because you have more money in the bank.

Shame on you if you think you are better than someone else, or deserve more than someone else because of your religion.

Shame on you if you think you are better than someone, or deserve more than someone else because of who your parents are.

Shame on you if you think you are better than someone else, or deserve more than someone else because of where you are from.

If you feel superior to anyone, or think you deserve more than someone else based on something you were born with, bought in a store, or were gifted as your heritage, shame on you.

Get with the program.  If you’re yelling in wounded outrage because someone got something you have always had, howling that them getting some of your entitlement means your entitlement isn’t any good anymore, there is something wrong with you.  And you for sure are not behaving like Jesus–who told his followers that if they have something, and someone asks them for a little of it, they were to give over all they had.  You have two coats?  You give them both to the cold guy.

Think about the message you are sending your own children:  You are okay UNLESS you are this thing.  If you are ever this thing, I will not love you, or want to live in the same country with you. That’s a great message.  My love for you is conditional, based on your color, your sexuality, your faith.  Think about that.

Then, think about what Jesus says about his love.  Nothing can separate you from his love for you.  If that’s your leader, follow him.  Put down your rocks, stop yelling at people, trying to hurt them the way you feel hurt, and follow your leader.  He’ll take you to the right place, which is probably going to land you right smack in the middle of what you hate most, serving those you thought were unworthy.  If you’re not man, or woman enough to do that, quit calling yourself a Christian and just name yourself what you really are.

Math is Important


equality

 [ih-kwol-i-tee]
noun, plural equalities.
1. the state or quality of being equal; correspondence in quantity, degree,value, rank, or ability:

promoting equality of opportunity in the workplace.
2. uniform character, as of motion or surface.
3. Mathematics. a statement that two quantities are equal; equation.
If I have six apples, and (historically) Johnny has no apples, this is an unequal value. (This is how we’ve been living.)
If someone takes my six apples and gives them to Johnny, this is also an unequal value.  (This did not happen.)
If someone takes three of my apples and gives them to Johnny, the value remains equal, but I have suffered a loss.  (This also did not happen)
If I have six apples, and someone gives (the historically) apple-less Johnny six apples, that is an equal value in which no one has suffered a loss.
That’s what happened today!  Someone gave Johnny apples in equal measure to the ones I’ve had all along.  Now, we can all make pie!
Today, I would like to congratulate my (historically apple-less) Johnny on having been granted the equality owed him.
It’s a shame it had to be granted, but I will dwell on the happiness apples bring, and hope it means a bounty for Civil Rights in the future.

Doggone it! People Like You.


Earlier this year, I learned about ASMR videos on YouTube, and they have become my guilty pleasure.  Guilty because I feel like the time Chandler Bing was listening to tapes to stop smoking, and became a strong, confident woman.  Pleasure because those things knock me out into a good night’s sleep better than anything other than that coedine cough syrup I wanted to develop a lasting relationship with a few winters ago.

My favorite ASMR content creators are Heather Feather, ASMR Massage/Dimitri, and Psychetruth/Corrina.  I skip around to sample other content creators, but I’ve developed imaginary Therapist/Patient relationships with those three (safer than with a narcotic.)  I lie still, and they tell me to be quiet, relax, and that everything is going to be okay, sometimes with accompanying Tibetan singing bowls, light brushing sounds, and some laughing–because those Psychetruth content creators can barely take themselves seriously sometime, much less convince me to.

After a few rough days, I decided some positive affirmations were in order, and I pulled up a video labeled as such and settled back.  Five minutes later, I was too frustrated to relax.  It was worse than the time I tried to meditate.  I kept mentally answering the affirmations.

“You are a good person.”  Mostly.  Yes.  Good.  I try.  Trying is good.
“You work hard.”  Yes.  That’s true.
“You deserve a break.”  I need a break.  I don’t know that I deserve one.  Coffee is for Closers.
“You deserve to take time just for yourself.”  Mmmah…unless it interferes with family.
“You deserve to be happy.”  That’s not exactly true.  I deserve to be able to pursue happiness, but happiness isn’t owed to me.
“You deserve to do whatever it takes to feel joy.”  Uh, no I don’t!  No!  That is wrong! 
“You deserve to do what it takes to make yourself happy.”  Is this a justification track for Dexter?!  No, no I don’t!
“Everything is going to be okay.”  Also not necessarily true!
“You deserve for everything to be okay.”  I’m out.

And I was. 

I was telling B about it earlier, and he suggested I needed a Demotivator affirmation track.  I thought I should do my own.  Honest Affirmations by Lane.  They would go:

You are a Human Being.
You deserve to be treated with basic respect and dignity.
You deserve to be able to work for a living.
You deserve a safe, secure worksite, with reasonable accommodations.
You deserve to be served by a capable, conscientous government.
You deserve to serve your community.
You should treat everyone as you want to be treated, regardless of the outcome.
You should take care of other people because it is the right thing to do.
You deserve affordable health care.
You deserve affordable food.
You should derive joy from service.
You have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Coffee is for Closers.

I’m not thinking anyone is going to want my track.

Rolling Back the Years


You see a lot of fashion at the roller skating rink.

Last night, some college-age kids were there in their best approximations of 80s gear. One girl had on shimmer-fabric, neon pink leggings under a pair of multi-colored neon shorts, with a neon green tank top, and a hot pink headband. It was very 80s-Barbie, and also awesome.

Another girl skated around in a snow cap, with this amazing anime-purple hair spiking out from under it. My kid was in gray cargo pants, and a “Creepers Gonna Creep” t-shirt. I wore black leggings under a black, swing tunic. Then, a couple of young teens came in wearing some shorts that make people ask the question, “Would you let your child out of the house like that?”

When the question came up, I barely swallowed the reflexive, “Hell no!” It went down like a hard lump, but I managed to burp out an, “I don’t know?”

And, I don’t know.

Let’s hop in the TV time machine for a second and travel back to those halcyon days where everthing was about Marcia, Marcia, Marcia, and girls wore dresses so short wicker furniture posed a very real threat to thighs. The Brady girls, That Girl, Buffy and Sissy from Family Affair, even Shirley Temple were all legs–all the time. Short skirts and matching spanky pants were the stuff, and it wasn’t a sexualized thing.

Long hair, short skirts. Cover the ears, reveal the knees!

Let’s switch the channel to ESPN. Tennis. Figure skating. Volleyball. Cheerleading. Soccer. Swimming. Gymnastics. LEGS. Everywhere. Firm, fit, bare legs (and some barely covered crotches) on women who are jumping, running, kicking, spinning, flying, and falling all over the place. I defy you to tell one of the Williams sisters they are dressed immodestly. Champion level skaters would probably sooner put a toe-pick in your forehead than entertain the notion that they need to cover up.

So, why am I so shocked when I see a pair of Daisy Dukes on a fifteen-year-old? What is it that makes me want to throw a blanket over her, and hustle her off to a corner for a lecture on propriety?

My buddy and I were talking that over. Both of us are moms. We asked each other what we would say to our daughters–hers real, mine imaginary–about shorts-like-that.

I want to say first, that it is very easy to judge a stranger. It is very easy to look at a stranger’s shorts and assign all sorts of meaning to them. Fashion becomes shorthand to reading a person’s character. 80s Barbie? Fashion shorthand for a vapid twit. Anime snow cap? Fashion shorthand for outlying subculture. Creeper t-shirt? Fashion shorthand for a kid who spends all his time on video games. Short-shorts? Fashion shorthand for attention-seeking.

Shorthand doesn’t even tell a tithe of the story, though. It sure didn’t when I was the fifteen-year-old in short shorts.

As we talked through scenarios, we both agreed that the one thing we didn’t want to do was frighten our daughters. We didn’t want to scare them that a pair of shorts could be the reason someone hurt them. Shorts don’t make rapists rape. To paraphrase my son’s t-shirt, Rapists Gonna Rape. Molesters Gonna Molest. Just ask those Duggar girls, whose thighs haven’t seen daylight since they were in diapers.

We didn’t want our daughters to feel funny about their bodies, like something was wrong with them, or dirty about them. And neither of us could figure out a context whereby we could explain that it was okay to show your thighs at the beach, or in your cheer uniform, or when you were competing at a sport, but not when you went roller skating with your friends, or to a movie, or to a barbecue.

We couldn’t figure out a way around the fact that it is perfectly fine for those high school track boys to run the streets wearing nothing but a pair of tiny, tiny running shorts, socks, and sneakers, but the double standard was that our daughters would be stoned for trying the same thing.

In short, we didn’t come up with any answers. Ultimately, I said I’d have to know my daughter. I’d have to know the girl, to know what was the right conversation. My buddy said it came down to intent, and until you could understand the intention of the child, you couldn’t know how to approach it. And that took me back to how easy it is to judge a stranger.

It also took me to how easy it is to be jealous of a stranger. How dare she come in here, all youth and legs, looking like a million dollars worth of desirable, when I’m fighting a losing battle against gravity? How dare she be so young and beautiful, taking more than her share of the Male Gaze and the attention that goes with it? The arrival of a younger, more biologically attractive, more seemingly available woman can make the hide crawl off a middle-aged buzzard like me, even when I’m not after the attention she’d be receiving.

Those long, pretty legs are a reminder of my mortality. Her desirability reminds me of my impending invisibility. If I could get her into some Mom jeans, at least I could feel better about how my physique turns every pair of trousers into Mom jeans. If I could wrap her in a blanket, at least I could feel maternal and nurturing. If I could lecture her on how she’s sending inappropriate signals, and how her thighs are an invitation to danger, at least I could feel like I was doing a public service while I scared and shamed her.

That’s an awful lot of Me projected onto a child, who just wanted to go roller skating.

I am navel-gazing enough to care more about why her shorts bother me, than to worry about getting her into different pants. I care more about the root causes of my visceral reactions to things like that, than the catalyts for them. I know the problem is me, not the kid, who is out having fun with her friends.

And, if my projections are sometimes right–if she is out using her thigh meat as boy bait, well? So? I was fifteen once. I haven’t forgotten how that felt. Even in my top-button-done, Haiwaian print shirt, with matching capri pants, Capezios, braces, and bad hair, I just one quivering, hopeful lump of boy bait. I was normal. So is she.

15 was so unkind.  I think my mother's game plan was to make sure a boy would put out his eye if he got too close to the goods.  Smart move, Mom!

15 was so unkind. I think my mother’s game plan was to make sure a boy would put out his eye if he got too close to the goods. Smart move, Mom!

So, I decided that the conversations have to be with my real son, not my imaginary daughter. The conversations have to be about respect, consent, empathy, kindness, and self-control, not dress codes.

The onus isn’t on me as a woman, to warn girls. The onus is on me as a mother, to raise a good man.