Saturday, December 21, 2013

If It Looks Like a Duck...

I really thought long and hard about how to approach this whole "Phil Robertson-Duck Dynasty" debacle. I hesitate to throw my hat in the ring on my own blog, but I figure "Why the fuck not?".

I have numerous thoughts on this, the least of which has to do with how ignorant I think his comments were. Do I agree with them? Nope. I think if guys wanna sword fight and women wanna scissor, it's their business. What consenting adults do relationship-wise is none of my concern. Now, mind you, I have NOTHING against gay relationships. Not a damn thing. I 100% support them, I stand up for them, I advocate for them, and yes I attend Pride parades. But how I feel about them has nothing to do with whether or not they should have the same rights as everyone else. I could think it was wrong as hell, revolting, etc and still not be able to say that legally they shouldn't be equal.

Anyway, I said that was the least of my thoughts on this whole craziness...and it is. I keep seeing Conservatives bleating about how Liberals are hypocrites because Obama let a "homo-killing Muslim" into the White House, but because Robertson is a Christian, Liberals are calling for his head. They even referred to Farrakhan as "Obama's buddy".

Okay. Let's talk about that, shall we? Louis Farrakhan disagrees with Obama on a lot of things. In fact, he's quoted as calling him an "assassin". Hardly something one would say when referring to a friend. So, I think it's safe to say that they aren't exactly BFFs. Just because he visited the White House, that doesn't mean he was there with Obama slapping him on the back, having a drink, and discussing the gays. Use your fucking brains. Remember: Not everyone who visits the White House is there to party with the Prez. Not everyone who walks through those doors shares the same opinions as Democrats or Liberals OR the President.

Now, if you had more of a thinking brain than a Neanderthal, you would see that most on the other side of this issue are not saying that Robertson cannot say what he was quoted as saying. They aren't saying his freedom of speech should be taken away. In fact, his freedom of speech hasn't been taken away. He hasn't been arrested or fined for what he said. No one is preparing a machete to hack off his head for voicing his opinion. He hasn't been censored. The article, with the comments, was printed. The backlash he is experiencing is from the court of public opinion. He said what he said. It was printed in a very public media format. And now people are discussing it. That's all it is. It's no different than Miley twerking at the VMAs. People are talking and not everyone agrees.

As for A & E suspending him? Yeah, you read that right. Suspending. He was not "fired". He was not "shit-canned". He was suspended indefinitely, which means that he's basically getting a spanking and will probably be back. I've seen several (hundred) people saying this isn't right, that A & E is censoring him, that they're punishing him for his religious views.

NO. Just...fucking NO! That's not what is happening here. Look beyond your goddamn persecution complex and look at the legalities of this situation. A man signs a contract with an employer. Within that contract, his employer stipulates that he cannot do anything that reflects badly on his employer. That includes sharing a discriminatory opinion publicly while you're "on the clock" or representing the company. The same man then proceeds to equate homosexuality with bestiality and terrorism...very publicly...while he's "on the clock".

Phil Robertson signed a contract with A & E. If A & E feels that his comments that were made while he was doing a PR interview as a representative of Duck Dynasty reflected badly on their company, they were within their rights to dole out a suitable "punishment". He very well could have said "Well, I go along with what the bible says about homosexuality. What the bible says is my personal view" and left it at that. I highly doubt that there would have been much of an uproar about that and I doubt he would have been suspended from the show for it. But no, he went further and threw in a nice slippery slope fallacy, claiming that homosexuality will morph out to bestiality and how it's a sin equal to terrorism. That kind of thing reflects badly on A & E, a very LGBT-friendly company.

Let's take it a step further. Let's say there are homosexuals on the crew of Duck Dynasty. Now these people know that Phil equates their sexuality with bestiality and terrorism. Do we really think this kind of thing won't create a hostile work environment where people aren't comfortable doing their jobs because of how they are viewed by one of the cast members? It's a potential lawsuit for discrimination waiting to happen.

I keep seeing these Facebook pages popping up: Phil4President, I Stand With Phil, etc. I'm sorry, but even if he was a nice person (Note: Saying "it's not for me to judge, but this is what the bible says happens to people who do this that and the other thing" does not make you not a bigot. It just gives you a shield to hide behind. Passing the buck to god.) his views on some issues would set this country back decades. The man thinks blacks were happier under Jim Crow laws for fuck's sake. Is that REALLY what we want for this country?

Bottom line: I support his right to voice his opinion. His opinion sucks giant moldy monkey balls, but I support his LEGAL right to say it. That doesn't mean he's immune from the court of public opinion and it doesn't mean that A & E has to accept that he grossly misrepresented their company in that interview. And, frankly, they don't have to take that shit.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Quit taking shit at face value... *Warning: Some religious talk contained within*

Yeah, you heard me. I'm so sick and tired of the things floating around social media that are shared as absolutely true, but upon further inspection, are 100% false or based on half truths and blown out of proportion. At first, I found it funny. After a while, it was mildly irritating. Now, it's more like "Come the fuck ON, people. Are you fucking serious?? You could click 'share', but you couldn't type in a phrase in your preferred search engine to check the validity of this?".

I used to be a chronic liker and sharer. No back-checking to make sure what I was sharing was correct. Just "Hey, I like this" or "Hey, this is important and people need to KNOW!!". And while my intentions were good most of the time, I felt like a damned fool when I found out that half of what I shared had no basis in reality. I wanted to reverse time and take back every share and every "OMG you have to read this!!".

I come from a background where deep research was discouraged. I was fucking lied to by a publishing corporation masquerading as a cult masquerading as a religion (Figure that out...fucking Russian doll shit right there). Once I found out the truth about the so-called "Truth", I was pissed.
No. I was rip-roaring, scream till my throat was hoarse, fiercely angry. My whole life, right down to the friends I had in the congregation was a goddamn lie. We weren't allowed to research outside of Watchtower publications. If it wasn't in there, it was subject to scrutiny because only Jehovah's Witnesses (more accurately, their Governing Body) dispense REAL truth. So, when I found out I was lied to for 29 years, my first determination was "never again". I would NEVER allow myself to be fooled by anyone, be they a religion, a company, a rumor, or my own friends and family. I vowed I would research the ever-loving shit out of everything that people were asking me to believe.

That brings me to my point. If I were still so naive as to just believe and share, I would basically never leave my friggin' house for fear of everything. I would believe that the photo of god's hands parting the clouds was genuine, and not just a Photoshopped image of Goatse spreading his gaping asshole. I would believe that if someone handed me a business card, I might feel faint because it was laced with a toxin, allowing the perp to follow me home and abuse and/or rob me, even though the toxin it supposedly was laced with couldn't produce any of those results. I might think that Bill Cosby made an epic speech stating his very harsh opinion about immigrants, Muslims, and other subjects, even though it was actually former Massachusetts senator Robert A. Hall. I might not flash my lights to let another driver know his are off for fear of gang initiates following me home to kill me. I might refuse to eat baby carrots because they have a white film when they dry due to chlorine coming to the surface, not because the entire baby carrot is a cut surface and that's what happens when any carrot dehydrates. I might like and share a photo of a supposedly dying child, despite the fact that Facebook does not, nor have they ever, given money for every like and share. I might also believe the myriad of non-factual memes and blog posts going around about the President and the government shut-down.

I keep seeing this phrase everywhere over the last few days. "Wake up, people!". Yeah, how about you do that? WAKE UP. Stop letting memes and satirical blogs be your fucking news. Don't take shit at face value. Research it. Research isn't everyone's forte, and a lot of people don't like it, so they don't bother. But, really, what's more important? Clicking "like" and "share" because you're appalled/nervous/smug, or avoiding looking like a fucking ignoramus?

Take this schmuckaloid on YouTube.

He sees an article online that states that the President is using his own funds to open a Muslim Museum when all other National Parks and Museums are shut down. I've seen this come across my newsfeed a couple of times, so I figured I'd research it. Lo and behold, it's completely satirical. So, in an effort to talk some sense into this guy, I go right to the source. I post part of the link for the Snopes article. And what happens?

That's right. Motherfucker BLOCKED me for telling the truth. So you don't like Obama. I get it, okay. We can't all like the person who holds the Presidency. But to stifle people who are actually trying to show you that you're behaving like an ignorant dildo just so you can keep your delusions and save face in front of a group of people you've never met?? That's a whole new level of stupid/douchery.

Don't get me wrong, I don't like being the voice of reason. I don't like being that gigantic turd in the punchbowl for people who want to believe shit like this and spread it around like Herpes. I seriously don't like it. My friends will tell you, I even debunk fun stuff. Like this nugget of pure potential awesome:

When I first saw it, I wanted it to be true. I mean, I wanted it more than I wanted a Keurig two Christmases ago. How perfect would that be?? But then I noticed something odd. I've seen Cinderella a million times. I know that the Prince's wedding uniform was white. I know that Cinderella's hair is blonde. I know that Anastasia wore a red dress and had red hair in the movie. I know that Drusilla wore a green dress and had brown hair. So, I looked it up to make sure I still had all my marbles and didn't in fact lose any along the way to Grownupsville. Nope. I was right. Goddamn it. I wanted it to be true. Seriously! How awesome would that have been? But no. No such luck.

So yeah, while I might be the party pooper raining facts on your parade, I do it because I keep hoping that maybe one day, someone will actually say "Huh. Let me research this before I post it...just in case" and then save face when they find out it isn't true.

So, fair warning. If you post something, be it a meme that contains "facts", a shared email, a quote from someone famous (though, Betty White and her vagina comments are immune), if it looks or seems off to me, I will research it. And if it's not true, I will let you know. Why?

Because I don't want you to fall down the rabbit hole of stupid like everyone else. I don't want to see you in a tinfoil hat. Those don't look good on anyone.

To My Daughter on Her First Birthday...

My sweet Emilia. You are about to hit a major milestone. Your first birthday is upon us and it amazes me just how quickly this year has passed. Your birth was a momentous event for both your dad and me. One year ago today, I was sitting here contemplating what was about to happen. I would go into the doctor's office in the morning and do yet another Non-stress test and Biophysical Profile. I hoped you were still doing well and I could continue my pregnancy until you decided it was time to come out. I wanted the best for you, right from the moment I saw those two pink lines. So when I went in for my appointment and my blood pressure was raised and your amniotic fluid was too low, I knew that the best thing for you would be to put myself under the knife again to ensure your safe arrival into this world.

Daddy and I waited patiently to be called into the Operating Room, me sitting in my hospital bed hooked up to wires, listening to your heart beating on the monitor and watching you try to kick the receivers off. You kept rolling away from them, so the nurse had to keep moving them. Every time we stopped hearing your heart, Daddy got nervous. But I knew your secret. I knew you were just trying to move around without being constricted. Even then, you didn't want to be held down.

A few hours later, I was in recovery and they brought you in. Daddy was the one who handed you to me. My arms can still feel how light you were, how delicate and soft beneath your blanket. Your sweet newborn skin still cloaked with the scent of the warm fluid you bathed in for 9 months.You looked exactly like Daddy. You even had his hair line. You gazed up at me, locked in, refusing to look away. It was at that moment that I truly fell in love. I knew you, and you knew me. I put you to my breast and you latched on like a champ. Our mother-daughter dance had begun, and it still continues now, almost a year later.

You don't know how long I've waited for you, how much I have done to keep you safe, how much you mean to me, how much I love you. You have taught me so many things, my darling baby girl. While you have learned to feed yourself, I have had to learn to let you decide for yourself what you are ready for and what you do and don't like. While you have learned to roll over, to crawl, to stand up, to cruise, and when you took your first steps, those were the moments that I had to slowly practice letting go. Even now at almost a year old, you're teaching me to let you explore your own limits, to not set them myself, but let you decide how much you can handle. It's nerve-wracking, harrowing, yet liberating and exciting all at the same time.

I promised you a year ago that I would always be there for you. I promised that even if I can't fix it, I will hold you, help you, and love you through it. I have kept my promise. You have never cried yourself to sleep. You have always had me to hold you when you're hurt or sick. I know this promise will get more difficult to keep as the years go on, especially when you're a teen and suffering from your first broken heart. But I promise that when that day comes, we'll grab some Ben & Jerry's, some sappy girly movies, and some nail polish...and I will hold you, and help you, and love you through it.

Something else I promise, and this will never change, no matter what: I will teach you to think for yourself. I will not push my own feelings and beliefs on you. I will not make you be who I think you should be, but I will push you to be who you KNOW you are and I will support you in the choices you make for yourself. If, after examining all evidence, you decide that you feel differently than I do about something, I will not force you to subscribe to something you simply can't. You are not an extension of me. You are your own person, who just happened to come from my body.

I will always support you. I will always encourage you. I will try my best to help you achieve your goals and dreams. You may far surpass me in your life, and I hope for that with all I have in me. I hope your achievements leave mine in the dust. I hope for you to do great things, as long as they are the things you want to do.

You are my baby bird and teaching you to fly is my job. I promise to never keep you on the ground.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

SNAP out of it!

We've all seen them. The women with their hair all done up and their acrylic (or gel) nails freshly done. The ones with gold jewelry and Coach purses. The women who look like they've got money flying out of their asses every time they hit the bathroom. You know, the ones that you wouldn't glance at twice or even think about disparaging them for what they have, if only they weren't ahead of you in the checkout pulling out that EBT card?

Yeah. Them.

We've all known of situations where someone is abusing the system. They have a boyfriend living with them and they don't count his income when they apply. They have money in the bank, but claim they have no bank account. They have someone paying all their bills, yet claim they don't. We've all seen it, we've all heard of it.

I'm not going to get way into numbers or percentages or studies. However, I will say that even though 46,670,373 people are on Food Stamps in this country, only an estimated 5 million receive unemployment benefits along with Food Stamps. A large percentage are children. Some are elderly. Accounting for all of that basically means that there's a slim chance the woman in front of you in line is scamming the system. I'm not saying it doesn't happen. It does. But the chances are good that she either has a job that doesn't pay enough, or she's a single mom, or she's a combination of the two. Or she's a stay-at-home-mom whose partner doesn't make enough.

I'm going to run with that last one for a minute. A lot of people get pissed off and say “Well, if she's a SAHM and they need to be on assistance, then she should get off her ass and get a JOB!”. Well, let's examine that, shall we?

The average cost of childcare is huge. Here in my state (which is by no means wealthy on average), it's approximately $8500 per year. And I consider myself lucky because in Washington D.C., it's over $20,000 per year.

Let's put this in perspective using my own situation. If I were to put my daughter in daycare full time, it would cost more than my fucking rent per month. I would need a job that paid me at LEAST $703 per month in order to just keep her in daycare. That's not food. That's not fuel. That's no extras. ONLY daycare. Working full time at a minimum wage job (which, let's face it, not many people get full time when it's at minimum wage. I'd get 25 hours if I was lucky), I would gross $1160 per month. Subtract for taxes (thankfully, Texas has no state taxes), and my take-home would be somewhere around $956 per month. Add in around double the fuel cost because we only have one vehicle, and there goes another $100. Oh! And lest we forget that most daycare centers do not do cloth diapers. So there's yet another $50 (at least). And let's not forget that once I'm working full time, I will be required to carry health insurance since I'm not married to my "baby daddy" and I can't be on his insurance. There goes the rest of my paycheck.

So, I would be working 40 hours per week, losing valuable time with my daughter and watching other people raise her for me...for nothing? In fact, the chances are good that I'd be paying out more than I'd be bringing in.

Nope. Fuck that. And in case anyone out there is wondering, NO we're not on any form of assistance. Could we use it? Fuck yes. But, $3 per month separates us from that woman in line tapping her acrylics on the counter.

Back to that. I don't begrudge anyone their need or desire to look nice and feel good about themselves. I try not to judge. So she has an iPhone? So what! How do I know she didn't get that as a gift? Ya know, it's not just middle class people who have birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. Hell, I got a Windows phone for Mother's Day this year. I'm sure people would be looking me up and down if I whipped it out while using an EBT card. Not only that, but iPhones come in prepaid now, too. So how do you know she's not just buying refill cards to maintain it? How do you know someone else isn't paying her bill or buying cards for her as a gift? And furthermore, how do you know that her hair and nails weren't done by a friend or family member and that she didn't pay a dime for it? A lot of women who have cosmetologists in the family or in their circle of friends pay only for supplies (if that).

The other one I heard a lot: “That bitch was dripping in jewelry and climbed into an Escalade after buying her groceries on Food Stamps!”.

Again, poor people receive gifts, too. And the Escalade? How the fuck do you know it was HERS? I'm not defending people who actually abuse the system, but to look down on someone because they don't look poor to you is bullshit. You don't know each person's individual situation. You don't know if that soccer mom in the SUV just got laid off. You don't know if she had to quit her job to take care of a terminally ill child and so they're just living off of one income now. You don't know if the person who has an Xbox and a shit-ton of games bought it when they HAD a job. So, what, a person should give up everything they worked hard for because they've fallen on hard times? How would you feel if you worked your ass off to get something nice and then someone said you shouldn't have it because you ended up losing your job and have to be on assistance? Wouldn't feel too good, would it?

So here's what I ask of you. The next time you see the woman with the done up nails and hair, the jewelry, and the iPhone... smile. Don't begrudge her when she swipes that card. Chances are, she's embarrassed as shit and doesn't want anyone seeing her use it. That's right. There are people who are completely embarrassed that they can't 100% take care of themselves. So, instead of making snide comments like,“Well, I can't afford an iPhone and I work, why should she have one?”... smile. Her life maybe harder than you realize and you being a judgmental asshole doesn't help any.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Just make your own cake, dammit!

I cloth diaper my daughter. I also talk about it whenever I get the chance. Why? Because cloth diapers fucking rock, that's why.

I will freely admit that my reasons for using cloth had nothing to do with it being better for the environment (at first). Nope. My reasons were 100% purely selfish. I didn't want to shell out thousands of dollars on diapers. I also knew that there are so many cute diapers available that disposables couldn't even compare fashion-wise. Hello...put a cute diaper on my baby and a matching t-shirt, and she's freaking DRESSED. What mom wouldn't love that? I also love the fluffy softness of them and figured my baby would, too...but I'll be honest here: That didn't come to mind until I actually had them in my hands and was feeling how soft they were. I'm serious. I want underwear made out of this shit.

Only as I really started researching did I pay attention to the environmental implications and the fact that they're all-around better for my daughter. In the beginning, those things were far from my mind.

So yeah, I'll tell anyone and everyone about them if I'm asked or it comes up in conversation (it does...more than you'd think). But goddammit, I'm not going to judge you if you choose to stick with disposables. Cloth was my choice as a mom. Making that choice doesn't make me any better or “crunchier” than other moms.

I'm what I term as “wannabe crunchy”. I'm only crunchy in some areas, but not enough to be considered even remotely granola. I've been sitting in a bowl of milk for awhile (We're not talking almond, rice, or hemp, either. We're talking cow tit juice). So while I might have a little bit of crunch left, I'm mostly soggy. I really am. My baby has cloth on her butt, but it's washed in Tide. I'm a big advocate of breastfeeding, but my daughter drinks formula because my tits are just for decoration and not for function (and before you ladies in the Mammary Army harp on me about that, I tried EVERYTHING and was heartbroken that I couldn't breastfeed. I rented a hospital grade pump and became a fucking dairy farm every two hours. I took herbs. I ran the gauntlet of options. It just wasn't happening. This was my fourth go-round with the same results). I'm all for natural childbirth, but had all c-sections myself. I'm against circumcision. I think it's barbaric. But, guess what! Your sons' penises are not my business. I made my decision for my sons and that's all that really matters.

In other words, I'm the last person that's going to judge another mom for doing things differently. I don't think that any mom should judge another if her children are happy, healthy, and thriving. Why we feel the need to snipe at each other with comments of “Well, we do xyz because this supposed expert in this area said that we should...and I don't know why anyone would want to do differently, but (insert throwing of hands in the air) it's your child...” with the same tone as when someone is saying “It's your funeral”.

Why do we do this? I'm no psychologist, but I tend to think that we do this because we are secretly lacking confidence in our own decisions and parenting style. If we can sit there and pick apart what other moms do and how they parent their kids, if we can try to brag and covertly force another mom to do what we do, then it solidifies it for ourselves that we're doing good. We're doing the right thing. WE'RE GOOD MOMS.

But guess what, ladies. We don't need to henpeck other women who have the very same job we do. Stepping on others isn't going to get you a promotion in this “company”. We're all doing the same job. We're all trying to raise decent human beings (those of us that actually give a shit about that stuff...because, let's face it, not all do). And the fact that we care enough to worry so much about what others are doing in order to give us an ego boost shows that we ARE all good moms.

We're all bakers, mamas. This child-raising stuff is like making a cake (whether or not it's gluten free). Some of us preheat the oven first. Some of us grease the pans first. Some of us will take out all the ingredients at once and pre-measure them. Some of us will take them out as needed and measure right there. And then, some of us will do some mix of both methods. The end result is usually the same: A damn good cake. 

So quit criticizing others on whether they use regular milk or soy butter. Make your damn cake and shut the fuck up. :)

Flying Fat

A few days ago, I came across something on the Facebook page of a blogger that I follow. It was a conversation about overweight people on airplanes. This is a sore subject for a lot of people, overweight people in particular. I'll be 100 % honest and say that I'm overweight myself. And not just a little bit. I'm not going to get into numbers this early on, but suffice it to say that it wouldn't be out of turn for me to talk about this subject.

With that said, I personally feel that if a person is so overweight that they need to put up the armrest and they need a seat belt extender, then all airlines should charge them for two seats. This isn't discriminatory in the least. I don't feel discriminated against by airlines who require that passengers over a certain weight pay for two seats. If I want to fly, I understand that airplane seats are made for certain sizes. Anything above that size, and you're spilling over into your fellow passenger's personal space. Space on airplanes is cramped to begin with, let alone having a person two or three times your size hanging half their body into your seat that you paid for.

Someone on that Facebook page made a very good point. Most airlines charge you for bags that are over the weight or size limit. You're only allowed a certain size carry-on and a certain number of them before you have to check your bags and pay for that. The same rule should apply to passengers. If you're going to carry on more weight or a bigger size than what the seats and seat belts generally allow, you should have to pay for it. Everyone has the right to their personal space. Everyone. However, when your personal space must include half the personal space of someone else, then you're encroaching on their right to their personal space. You're invading it without their permission. They paid for a full seat. So did you. But, you're using part of the seat they paid for because you can't fit fully into the one that you paid for. How is that fair? In short, it isn't. Granted, some people have health problems that prevent them from losing weight or they take medications that cause weight gain. While I sympathize with their plight, it still doesn't give them the right to invade someone else's seat.

Put it this way: I have to pay more for clothes in a larger size because there is extra material that goes into making it. I used to bitch and moan about that. “What the fuck? As if being fat and being looked down on by society isn't bad enough, now we have to pay more for our clothing, too?!” Well, yeah. We do. If my one shirt takes as much material as two shirts of a smaller size, how would it be fair for me to pay the same price as someone who fits into the smaller size? What I don't think is fair is that most plus-size clothing is reminiscent of grandma's sofa circa 1970. I personally don't like looking like upholstery. I'm not one of the von Trapp kids and I would prefer not to look like my outfit was made from heavy drapery. That, however, is an entirely different blog post for another day.

How would we go about this? Just entering your weight isn't sufficient because what if your weight is in proportion to your height? Then you have to pay extra, even though you're not overweight? Perhaps a BMI calculator? Who knows?

My point in this whole thing is that we have to pay more to get more if we need more. We can't expect 100% equal treatment across the board. Things aren't equal. The proverbial (and literal) scales are not balanced. If we as overweight people want to be able to pay the prices thin people do, then we have one choice. Anything else just wouldn't be fair and, in my opinion, would be asking too much.