The Last American Girl?

thoughts, comments, opinions, insults

heavyweight hate

Would it satisfy you to learn that because of you I stopped eating? That I spend hours looking at the mirror in uncontrollable tears? Would it satisfy you if I shook with pain and shame every time I saw my body, grabbing and pinching at it in disgust? Would you be satisfied if I picked up a razor and tried to carve the ugly parts of myself away? Would it satisfy you if it hurt too much and for too long, so my final act was shoving a handful of pills in my mouth? My ugly, worthless, greedy, FAT mouth? Would you be satisfied then? Would you lean back in contentment, a job well done? Is this your destiny, your life’s anointed purpose to scrub away all the ugly enemies from the earth? Would you be happy if you succeeded in destroying me?

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You don’t know me. Your words, your ugly words could have done those things to me, and you’d never know. You’d continue to sit in front of a screen churning out hate to the next person you decided shouldn’t speak – shouldn’t live.

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Would it change your mind if you knew I was suffering from health problems? Or would you find a way to belittle me for that too?

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I think about the things you called me, and my heart speeds up. Blood rushes to my face and I feel shame. No, my body isn’t the way I wish it was, part of it is my health problems, and part of it is my fault. But I think about what you said and I wonder if other people look at me like that. But mostly I feel ashamed because you got in. Your misspelled, angry, immature rants got in, and I thought I was stronger than that. There are so many things I’d like to ask you, but I’ll never be able to because you’re incapable of conversation – you only deal in variations on the same insulting theme.

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There are two things that haunt me. The first is the question I asked earlier: would you be satisfied – happy – knowing you destroyed someone? Would you continue to troll around on social media for another “success story,” or would it give you pause? The other thing I wish I could know is who broke you? My appearance didn’t make you that angry. The man I originally saw you attacking didn’t make you that angry. You spend hours on the Internet tearing people down in the most hateful, pathetic ways, so of course I’m incredibly curious as to what happened, or is currently happening to you to make you such a rotten individual.

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I’ve seen suffering. I’ve watched loved ones shunted to the sidelines, unable to do anything except helplessly observe their worst nightmares come true, and I’ve never seen the incoherent hatred that you displayed. I’m just so curious. And afraid. Afraid that someday you’ll find out your actions caused real, lasting harm and become hungry for more.

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Someone in my family was sick, although no one knew it. Despite hard exercise and even harder dieting, their weight kept increasing. Six years later they were diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. Three months later, they were gone.

I didn’t cry the night you kept attacking me. The next morning I was outside shoveling snow, or as you would call it, getting off my fat ass for once, and I thought about the vile things you said. I imagined someone treating my sick relative like that. I desperately hoped they had never felt bad about their weight because of someone like you. I thought about people who are less able to withstand the pain comments like yours can inflict and it was overwhelming. My tears weren’t the result of an “obese” woman doing something physical, they were the product of picturing your actions directed at someone I loved, and not just using humor and sarcasm to try and dismiss what you had done to me. Looking at it that way, it was chilling and appallingly cruel.

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I don’t know what else to say other than I think you behave despicably, and I hope whatever’s going on in your life resolves, or you have a Come To Jesus moment real soon. Because the world doesn’t need any more of your hate.

hi, my name is…

lgbt-blogI’ve wondered for a while now what the best thing to do was. Should I keep the truth to myself, portray myself as a straight ally? Avoid the appearance of wanting equality because the subject was personal? Here’s the thing, for years I considered myself a “straight” ally, because anyone looking at my life would consider me that. But the truth is, I’m bisexual. And I have been since before I can remember. It was never a choice I made. It was the way I came. I’m talking still young enough to sleep in my crib, knowing the truth about myself. I knew there were members of my family who wouldn’t approve, so I kept it quiet. If any of my family are reading this post, they’re discovering the truth about me just now, same as you. I’m lucky to have never felt any shame or despair, but there were key moments in my life I remember. One was listening to a conversation my older brother and mother were having. He was snickering about Bambi being a girl’s name, and some innuendo about Walt Disney I didn’t understand. I couldn’t understand why being happy (gay) was so funny. Seeing the confused look on my face, my mother explained that gay meant not everybody got together boy-girl boy-girl. Some boys had relationships. She assured me that gay people thought heterosexual sex was as gross as straight people considered gay sex. I remember thinking, oh okay. But I don’t think any of it’s gross. Where does that leave me? But I was a quiet kid, and kept my thoughts to myself. A few years later, the same brother and I were in the car with our parents. He was talking about how his high school Spanish teacher was gay. My mother was delighted with the town gossip, suspicions confirmed at last. My father, who usually kept his opinions to himself, and rarely swore said, “I don’t give a damn what anyone’s sexual orientation is. It doesn’t matter.” I remember being utterly horrified my father said the word “sexual,” and deeply impressed he’d found the subject important enough to swear about. Years later, when the question of equal marriage rights was on my state’s ballot, my mother told me she wasn’t sure how to vote, and with complete disgust, continued to say how she wished they’d “keep it to themselves,” and “not rub {her} nose in it.”

I called her a narrow-minded bigot and stalked off to seethe at my father for her complete lack of decency and compassion. He shook his head and said, “some people just don’t get it, and never will.”

While I never felt self-loathing (for that, anyway), I continued to grow up and keep the truth to myself. A few years before she died, my beloved grandmother asked if someone we knew was dating anyone. “Does X have a boyfriend? Or a girlfriend? At this point, anything would be good.” I laughed. Partly because it was such an assy thing for my ninety-two year old grandmother to say, but mostly from relief. Because a girl having a girlfriend wouldn’t have been a problem for her. I still never told her, but knowing that gave me a lot of comfort – that she would accept me, even if she knew the truth.

When I started dating my husband, we had a lot of heated fights. Fights about equal marriage v. civil unions. We kept going around and around on the topic until one night we were sitting on the couch, and he said, “why are you getting so upset about this?” I broke down in tears and yelled, “because you’re talking about me. About people like me. Would I somehow be lesser if you were a woman? I’m the same person!”

He stopped arguing for civil unions after that.

Lately he’s been coming home and telling me snippets of conversations he’s had with his father. His father has the view that being gay is a choice, that boys who don’t fit into the jock universe lack confidence, and eventually bond with other guys with similar experiences, thus becoming gay. He hasn’t shared his roadmap to becoming lesbian, but I’d guess it takes a similar trajectory. Too unfeminine and eventually they find other likeminded women and bond in bed over ice fishing and lamp repair. Who knows. I never “chose” to be who I am. Neither did my husband. Nor have any of the people I’ve asked. Their preferences revealed themselves, period.

Please think about this, why would anyone choose to be unsure if their family would continue to love and accept them? To wonder if their friends would continue to be friends? Why would anyone choose to be gay when that could mean harassment, or worse? All of the gay teens who killed themselves out of despair, did they choose to be a way that would entice others to treat them like outcasts and freaks? I don’t think so.

I say this without sarcasm: if you remember choosing to not be gay, or bi, or trans, perhaps you need to look in the mirror and examine the person looking back at you. It’s scary. I know this. I’ve been shaking writing this, and there are only a few family members that might read this. It took me ten years to tell my best friend Hermione, and she knows the best and worst parts of me. We lived together in college, for god’s sake. That’s how closely I guarded my secret.

I’ve decided though, in the wake of the election and the godawful week we’ve had, to stop hiding under the protection of “straight” and add my name to the ranks of Other, where it belongs. To be honest about who I am in the hopes that it will remind even one person that we’re all just people. That a person’s sexual identity and preference is not something they decide on when they’re bored and have nothing better to do. That it can’t be cleansed away, like a kleptomaniac’s compulsion to pilfer, or an arsonist’s fondness for matches, anymore than you can scrub away the parts of yourself that are authentic and true.

If there is anyone in your sphere that belongs in the Other category, and you’ve held opinions about them, try to let those go. Show them support. We could use it right now.

permission from a random stranger: it’s okay.

christmas-blog

We’ve all been indoctrinated. The holidays are for family. Have a joy-filled Christmas. Gather with your loved ones. Christmas is about being surrounded by all your relatives, the ones you live near, and the ones that live far away but flock together during this season because that is what you’re supposed to do.

Interestingly, during the holidays, depression and self-harming behavior spike. What if that’s because, for some people, “family” and “joy-filled” are contradictions?

I’m here to tell you: it’s okay. It’s okay if you sit out the big family dinner. It’s okay if you don’t show up to the Ugly Sweater party wearing the most garish thing you could find at Wal*Mart with a phony smile plastered on your face. It’s okay if you don’t arrive for New Year’s Eve festivities twinkling like a disco ball brimming with optimism at the new year’s possibilities. It’s okay.

For years, I pretended things were alright in my family. During the holidays I would make my house festive and inviting and allow into my life people that only ever hurt me. I would give gifts and serve dessert, and watch Christmas movies and pretend that Christmas generosity is a real magic that could keep me safe. Christmas generosity is magic, but like the genie in the lamp, it has limitations.

What if, instead of trying to use my home, thoughtful gift-giving, and entertaining skills to prove that I hadn’t been damaged by these family members, I had used that time, that energy, to do something that helped someone who needed it? Or done something to feed my soul? Or anything really, instead of a show of defiance with a Christmas filter?

Even if you’re lucky enough to not have crappy family members, it’s still okay to not exhaust yourself meeting every obligation, matching every offer. It’s okay to be quiet, introspective, to gather strength if you’re feeling low, or to amass more for the coming challenges of 2017. We don’t need an awe-inspiring mountain of unwrapped gifts before we can be grateful for what we have.

One of the things I’m grateful for this year is learning how to say “no,” even if it’s not confidently yet. I’m taking care of myself this year. I’m not going to “do the expected thing” and put myself in situations where I feel less secure, less loved, and less valued.

Above all, Christmas is a time for love. That love doesn’t necessarily have to come from people you’re related to. It can come from friends, or more radically, yourself, by taking the time to do what is best for you.

Happy Holidays. ❤

is this what great looks like?

I struggle to know how to write this. I struggle because I can’t reconcile the fact that our highest office is about to be handed over to a bawling, orange megalomaniac who has never held public office, never served our country, and never done anything but further his own self-interests. And I fear this new venture of his, President of the United States, will be more of the same: grandstanding his own triumphs (real or imagined) while he denigrates anyone (or any nation) who doesn’t rise to the level of sycophancy he feels he deserves.

I struggle because I’m scared. Scared because ISIS took to the streets reveling in his victory. Scared because the KKK donned their asinine white sheets of hate and held a victory march. Scared because it wasn’t just Trump that won, it was a victory for extremism, hate, and intolerance everywhere. Scared because my social media started to blow up with friends who had no choice but to sit with their terror. Terror for their safety, their loved ones’ safety, their hard-won rights being stripped away again, or not knowing if they would be able to continue life-saving medical treatments in Trump’s New America. As the night wore on, hopeful, cautious, wary optimism gave way to anxiety. Anxiety morphed into fear. Fear turned into horror, and our horror became grief. Yes, grief. I want to make something clear: this is not about Democrat v. Republican, this isn’t about “my side lost,” this isn’t about wanting a woman in the White House after 227 long years of male domination. This was about who we are as a people. And evidently, we are now people who smile blandly when our president laughs about his right to grab women by the “pussy.” We are people who label an entire ethnic group “criminals, drug dealers, and rapists.” We are people who cheer at the idea of deporting millions of Muslims from their homes. We are people who throw our arms up and scream with anticipation when promised that we will “bomb the shit” out of our enemies. We are people who think, hell yeah, climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. We are the people who willingly bought (and will pay for) a president who says he will insist on the U.S. Military committing war crimes.

They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me. If I say do it, they’re going to do it.

-Donald Trump, March 3, 2016

He’s literally assuring us his personality and charisma will compel the U.S. Military to commit illegal acts. Does that remind you of anyone..?

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At the very best, he’s completely out of touch with the office of president and what his personality and charisma can realistically achieve. That’s still not a good scenario for us. To have a bloviating, mendacious, reactionary toddler in the seat of power scares me. To have one that thinks we should have more nuclear weapons, believes climate change is bullshit, wants to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Education, and literally thinks Mexico (nation of criminals, drug dealers and rapists, lest you forget) is going to pay for his grand wall, which might as well be constructed with Legos, ego, and sticky globs of White Nationalism…well, that’s astounding and I can’t wrap my mind around it. With his busy agenda of erasing President Obama’s legacy, where will he find the time to punish women for abortions before having Roe v. Wade repealed? I guess he’ll save some time by delegating to his Number 2, Mike Pence, who would like nothing more than to rip away every last fabric of dignity from LBGTQ citizens.

The election has come and gone, the signs have been removed. We were supposed to return to a state of relative calm, neighbors again. But I can’t. I went to bed early Wednesday morning, and woke up that day feeling less safe, with less faith in my neighbors. I’m not sulking because I lost. I’m grieving because we lost. The countless stories of school students being handed deportation letters by their classmates, having “Trump won, get out now!” screamed in their faces, of Kindergarteners in tears because their peers are jeering at them that they’ll have to leave their school and home and go to a country they’ve never even visited is proof of this. The Swastikas, racial slurs, death threats and messages like, “Fuck your safe space,” “Die nigger bitch,” and “Black lives don’t matter and neither do your votes,” that exploded overnight further illustrate that Mr. Trump is not our president. He appealed deeply to a few, to the detriment of many others. The climate of fear was such on Tuesday night that mothers were cautioning their daughters not to wear their hijabs the next day for fear of reprisals. Some who did had them ripped off their heads and told to hang themselves with them. A woman was assaulted on her way to the store when a man grabbed her and whispered in her ear, “you scared yet, you liberal cunt?” These are only a few examples of the intimidation –the domestic terrorism- that women, people of color, LGBTQ, Muslims, Jews, and frankly anyone that doesn’t fit into the mold of white Christian male, now has to fear facing. Was everything perfect during President Obama’s time in the Oval Office? No, but President-Elect Trump hasn’t even gotten to the White House yet, and these despicable acts of rage and intolerance are already blossoming like a mushroom cloud. The New York Times had an article this past week saying that win or lose, Nationalists and Neo-Nazis already felt like they’d won. The rise of Trump had allowed their beliefs, once relegated to the “fringe” to join the “mainstream.” They have become emboldened by the new face of the nation.

There’s too much to add right here, his inability to receive any criticism, immediately declaring anyone who dares to be “incompetent, a loser, a zero, nothing, naïve, stupid.” If his critic happens to be a woman, she has “blood coming out of her wherever, disgusting, a slob, fat pig, a dog.”

Suffice it to say, I am not looking forward to the next four years. I fear his effect on everything, and everyone. The environment, foreign policy, education, trade, the deficit, the Supreme Court…those are all scary, and some will be incredibly hard to reverse the damage he and his cabinet inflict…but beyond all that, I fear the world we live in now. Not the big, abstract things that are easy enough to avoid, but the day-to-day. If I go outside to take my dog for a walk, will some man feel comfortable coming up and yelling violence and intimidation in my face? Assaulting me? Worse? What about my gay friends? Will their marriages continue to be recognized as valid in this country? Will their children be secure? Safe? Will some bigoted jackass feel entitled to threaten or hurt them? Tuesday night they truly felt like they had a target on their backs. Our new Vice-President would like nothing better than to hook electrodes up to their genitals and pray the gay away. I doubt their feeling of despair has gone away already. And what about our neighbors who can’t act straighter, or take off their hijabs, or pass somehow? Try to imagine their fear.

It breaks my heart.

But we can still fight. We can donate to causes we believe in, organizations that actually help instead of tear down. We can reach out to those we know are suffering and afraid. We can let them know they aren’t alone. A really easy way to do this is to join me in wearing a simple safety pin. It can be hard to tell who is an ally, and this is such a brilliant, inexpensive way to let others know. Even if you never encounter a scene like I mentioned above, to simply know you’re not alone is powerful.

(And I’m sorry to anyone who tells me that they don’t agree with the things I’ve written about here, but they still voted for Trump: you are complicit. You have shown what your values are. You are no more innocent than the benevolent slave holders who continued to uphold the system. Not because they believed blacks were less human, but for their own financial reasons. It’s all just different means to an end. And the end really sucks.)

the rules of polite society

Our collective attitude, far too often.

Our collective attitude, far too often.

I did something you’re not supposed to.

Society tells us not to acknowledge those in our midst that sit on the curb, hand outstretched, with their miserable eyes downcast. “If you pay attention to one, others will come after you.” It will single you out as soft, an easy mark. Don’t make yourself vulnerable, you don’t want to get into some situation you can’t control. I passed a lot of people society has warned me about on my trip. It started early, a person younger than me was sitting on the floor as I was leaving the train station. I kept my eyes forward, keenly aware of my Tommy Hilfiger handbag, and Coach luggage. I didn’t like myself, but what could I do? I didn’t have enough resources to meaningfully change his life. There were others, usually men, sitting in the filth, some making the effort to speak to every passerby, most were simply mute, watching thousands of people ignore them as they continued on their way. A few weeks ago, I saw an Upworthy video of homeless people reading mean tweets about themselves, a spinoff of the Celebrities Read Mean Tweets thing. I don’t know who thought that was a good idea, but I clicked on it anyway. The things they read were hateful at worst and ignorant at best, but what really struck me was the little line of text near the bottom. It said how long they’d been homeless. A couple started it off, they sat outside, huddled in blankets with their dog. Ten years. Another man had been homeless for forty-seven years. How? How does society systematically fail someone for nearly half a century? I know he’s not the only one. What I don’t understand is how we allow it to happen. Homeless for forty-seven years. That’s longer than I’ve been alive. My life was no picnic when I was growing up, and the day I became a homeowner was one of the best in my life. Suddenly, I had a safe place that was mine. These people are denied that every day of their lives. It’s unbearably cruel.

On my last full day in New York, we were on our way to my favorite restaurant/patisserie for a late breakfast. Waiting to cross the street, we were in a throng of mostly business people, everyone looking very busy and expensive with their suits and heels, sunlight bouncing off their smart phones and designer watches. No one, including me, willing to acknowledge the hunched frame against the street sign, knees drawn up to his chest as he held a ratty cardboard sign. I don’t know what the sign said. But I remember what he was saying. “Please, I haven’t eaten anything today. I haven’t had any food today.” I crossed the street, thankful the wind was blowing, because my face felt like it was burning. I blamed allergies for the sniffle I developed. I wanted to burst into tears. It was so wrong. We got to the restaurant and they told us we just missed breakfast, but they’d be seating for lunch soon. Husband wanted to pop into the patisserie for one of their macarons. We ordered two, and I scanned the pastry case. I added a ham and Swiss sandwich to our order. Husband turned around, exasperated. “Why?” He insisted. “We’re going to have lunch in a few minutes.” “Yeah, I know, I’m not eating it, just calm down,” I said. I couldn’t say what I was doing without risking tears, and I had no interest in that. So I acted defensive and told him he was judgy, and he could just deal with not knowing every detail of every motive I have. He sniped at me, I sniped at him, and stared at the stained glass ceiling trying to keep it together. A few moments later he said, “oh. I think I know what you’re doing.” I replied, “yes, you probably do, if you bothered to think about it.” We exited the patisserie and I walked back up the street as slowly as I could, nibbling my macaron. It was too sweet and tasted like innocence and joy, and didn’t sit well at all. I didn’t know how to do this. If I couldn’t think about it without crying, how was I going to do it? How irritatingly pompous, here’s a sandwich and some tears for you. I irritated myself. At that moment, Husband asked, “So do you have a game plan?” I shook my head. I had nothing but a half-eaten macaron, a sandwich, and a tenuous grasp on my emotional state. We got to the intersection and Husband stopped, looking around, irritated. “What are you doing?” I asked. “He’s gone,” he sounded half indignant, half disappointed. I stared at him. “No he didn’t,” I insisted. “He’s right there,” and I gestured to the next intersection. “Oh,” he said. “I didn’t see that guy.” “Seriously?” I spluttered, how could you miss him, I wondered. “There was someone else right here.” Well crap, I thought. I missed that person completely. I crossed the crosswalk and stopped, not knowing how to proceed. I took a few awkward steps and paused. Hating to stand over him, but not knowing if my crouching down on his level would even be welcome, or just come off condescending. I extended my arm, holding out the sandwich. He stared at it, as though he was unsure it was meant for him. Tentatively, he reached up and took it. “Thank you. God bless you,” he murmured. I nodded stiffly and turned around. Husband and I crossed the street and walked in silence, then he put his arm around me. “I don’t know why you ever thought I would judge you,” he said.

I did that thing you’re not supposed to. And it wasn’t nearly enough.

fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. put that through your fucking app.

I’m sitting in Starbucks right now, unable to enjoy my peach tea because I have a stomachache. Husband told me I needed to write a blog post. I said I didn’t know what to say, I only knew I was filled with incoherent rage. He told me to write down my incoherent rage and then edit it. Then I said, “fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. Put that through your fucking app,” and a smirk crept over his face. “That’s your title,” he told me.

The news from Indiana has not put me in a good mood today. I am sick to death with the religious right constantly crowing about their perceived slights and hurts while they trample on the rights of innocent people. Really sick of it. A tweet from fictional U.S. President, Josiah Bartlet (The West Wing) summed it up beautifully:

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 Another genius Aaron Sorkin character, Will McAvoy (The Newsroom) had this to say:

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If the Bible is to be believed, Jesus hung out with “sinners,” the lowest of the low. Prostitutes. Tax collectors. He washed dirty feet. He didn’t go around condemning any of them. He did throw a bit of a fit when it came to the money changers in the temple. Depending on what version of the Bible you’re looking at, or which book, the rough quotation is: my house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a robber’s den.

In Matthew, Jesus said, “the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it to me.” A little wordy, but I think it can be summed up thus: Jesus considers your treatment of other people your treatment of him. Would you refuse Jesus a dozen cupcakes from your bakery? Would you refuse to install a refrigerator in Jesus’s kitchen? Would you refuse Jesus a cup of coffee, or his weekly groceries at the local grocery store? Why not? ‘Cause Jesus isn’t gay? For starters, you don’t know that, secondly, nowhere in the Bible, Apocrypha, or any other excluded texts, did Jesus mention gay people. Thirdly, inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of my brethren, ye have done it to me. It doesn’t specify what “least” is (and for the record I am absolutely not calling LGBTQ people ‘least’ in any sense). It’s totally up for interpretation. What Jesus was clear about was saying our treatment of others matters – as much as our treatment of him.

Also? WTF, Indiana? We went through this already, only it was over schools, diners, buses, and drinking fountains. Watching this country, MY country, roll back into a nation that enshrines discrimination (HATE) into law makes me nauseated. It scares the fuck out of me that my nieces and nephews can no longer say they always lived in a time when America refused to legalize discrimination. I’m terrified to bring a child of my own into this world. I don’t know what’s happening, this would never have been passed ten, fifteen, or twenty years ago. It seems like legislators had more decency or sanity then.

Which brings me to my next point…

Have you heard of the Craiglist Cesarean? A twenty-six year old woman responded to an ad on Craiglist for baby clothes and was attacked. She was cut open, the fetus was removed and died shortly after. She’s left to cope with the aftermath of this horrific event. My heart breaks for her. Ever vocal, the religious right has come forth with more of their wisdom:

 “This is the curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb. Part of that curse for our rebellion against God as a nation is that our pregnant women are being ripped open.” 

- State Representative Gordon Klingenschmitt (R – Colorado Springs)

This is an elected official, ladies and gentlemen. What. The. Fuck.

He went on to say,

“I believe the Bible and I quoted the Bible and I applied it to current events. If other people are offended by the Bible, that’s okay, they don’t have to agree with me or come to my church or watch my TV show. It’s a free country.”

No. They don’t have to choke down his nauseating swill and agree with it, but unfortunately, this lunatic is in a position of power, he has multiple platforms from which to spew his caustic garbage. (Freedom of speech, you might say, absolutely, while a few states away, freedoms are getting stripped away from innocent citizens.) But what I find most repugnant, is that the attacked woman resides in Colorado. This guy is a Colorado Representative. His ludicrous and incredibly unhelpful comments have probably been seen or heard by this grieving woman and her loved ones. Did he never learn the concept of ‘time and place’ or the Bambi classic, “if you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all?” How basic does it get?

I think what this asshat said is vile. But I can’t change it. Which brings me to my next point.

The Clean Reader app.

Here is the actual description I found in the App Store:

“Prevent profanity in books from being displayed on your screen with Clean Reader; the only e-reader that gives you the power to hide swear words in any e-book. Simply select from three settings to determine how clean you want your books to appear. Clean Reader then scans your book and prevents offensive words and phrases from showing up on the screen as you read. Every time a swear word is blocked from display a less offensive alternative with the same general meaning can be displayed.

Clean Reader works with any e-book!

If there are books you’ve put off reading because you’ve heard they’re full of curse words, chosen to stop reading some books because you weren’t comfortable with the bad language in them, or if you worry about what’s in the books your children read…then Clean Reader is for you!”

The app was created by Jared and Kirsten Maughan (a Mormon couple) because their precious dove of a daughter came home from school one day upset by the language in a class assigned book. So while attempting to keep her virgin eyes pure, they searched for an app like Clean Reader, only to discover nothing existed. So with the help of Page Foundry, Clean Reader was born. The app boasts three settings, Clean, Cleaner, and Squeaky Clean. The app finds offensive words and phrases, blocks them, and replaces them with less shocking substitutes. “Tough” replaces “badass,” “whore” is converted to “hussy,” and my absolute favorite, “vagina” becomes “bottom.” I have so many problems with this app, but let’s start with the fact that the medically appropriate term for female genitalia is considered offensive?! Can it be any more obvious that female shaming is very much alive?! How damaging is it that people are teaching girls the simple anatomy that determines their sex is bad/offensive/dirty? Let’s not forget, this app is directed at children. Like the recent stunt in Indiana, this would’ve been laughed at ten years ago.

But there are still more things completely wrong with this app than its ill-disguised contempt of women. Have you ever heard the story of Charles Dickens when he was writing The Christmas Carol? His original manuscript (housed at the Morgan Library and Museum in Manhattan, New York) contains revisions to Scrooge’s indigestion. We know it as “a blot of mustard,” originally, it read “a spot of mustard.” I’m lucky to know several published authors and many more talented writers, writing is something I love. There are few words I consider holier than “author.” It’s something I want to be myself, one day. The French actually have a separate word for published author than just “writer.” Writers choose their words carefully. There is a reason people write, for choosing the words they do. It’s something that shouldn’t be tampered with. It’s no less egregious than whacking parts off Michelangelo’s statue of David because it offends your delicate sensibilities. If you can’t handle something, leave it alone. Don’t dumb it down or dress it up to cater to your beliefs. Unfortunately, the app still exists, but at least they’ve stopped selling authors’ works and siphoning off some of the profits for themselves.

The religious right, everyone. They’ve had a banner couple of days.

*Before I could even get this post published, I ran across this today. I’m appalled, I’m horrified, I’m out of words that this kind of hatred is so alive and well in the world. Thankfully someone has written a beautiful response. Here it is, it’s definitely worth reading, and sharing.

Whoever you are, Reader, I wish you peace, and joy, and strength to stand up for what’s right. I leave you with two quotes.

 First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out –

Because I was not a Socialist.

 Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out –

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

 Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out –

Because I was not a Jew.

 Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.

                                    – Martin Niemöller

 

Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.

                        – Albus Dumbledore

compassion. a brief definition.

\kəm-˙pa-shən\

Compassion…it’s about not being an asshole when it’s easy. It’s about stifling your snotty, oh-so-hilarious quips about someone else, and taking the effort to listen to them when they need it. It’s about shushing the judgmental monologue in your head, making room for another person. Actually listening to them, rather than just setting up the next joke in your head. It’s about realizing they’re going through things in their life that you wouldn’t want any part of. It’s the opposite of self-righteous. It’s about feeling powerless, but staying present, because you love them, and that’s all you can offer. It’s about being thousands of miles away from someone and letting them know you understand how they feel. It’s about patience. So much patience. It’s the absence of prejudice and ignorance. It’s about honesty. Vulnerability. It’s about letting go when nothing else can be done. It’s unselfish. It’s the hardest thing in the world to practice sometimes. It’s something the world needs so much more of.