The housekeepers come tomorrow, and the house is still sort of like a tornado hit it. I have to drive Princess Zurg to Taekwondo and take the younger kids to the library before it closes. I was going to call my sister earlier today because it is her birthday. I bet if I called her now, she would be busy celebrating or something. Maybe I should text her. LAME.

Earlier, when I had ambitious plans for the day, I thought I would also call my friend I talk to twice a year because we always call each other on our birthdays–i.e. call on each other’s birthdays…you know what I mean, right?–only we don’t always call each other anymore because I missed her birthday back in October. It was October 9, and for days beforehand I was thinking, “It’s C’s birthday on Thursday, so I must call her.” On October 8 I said to myself, “Tomorrow is C’s birthday. I will call her tomorrow.” On October 9 I don’t know what I thought about, but it wasn’t C’s birthday or calling her or the fact that it was October 9. On October 10 I thought, “Yesterday was October 9. I forgot to call C. Well, I can call her today. She won’t mind if I’m a day late.” I don’t know what I thought about the rest of the day after that, but you can probably guess what it wasn’t. A week later I thought, “She won’t mind a week-late birthday call,” and a month later I thought, “A month-late birthday call is ridiculous, but maybe she still won’t care.” Today is the two-month anniversary of her birthday–which is not properly called an anniversary but I don’t know what you would call a monthiversary except that, and I suspect that isn’t a real word. We’ll see if I manage to call my friend before it grows too late. But first I’ll have to call my sister, of course.

Today I went to lunch with my mother-in-law and a friend from church. My mother-in-law and I have friends in common, isn’t that great? We went to the Sweet Tomatoes because my mother-in-law had a coupon. Sometimes I enjoy the Sweet Tomatoes more than other times. For those of you who don’t know the Sweet Tomatoes, it is like the Souplantation where you live. If you don’t have a Souplantation where you live, suffice it to say that it is a soup and salad bar. Actually, it’s a soup and salad and pasta bar, but I almost never get pasta there because I am too busy stuffing myself with muffins. Actually, it’s a soup and salad and pasta and muffin bar. Anyway, the last couple times I have been to the Sweet Tomatoes, they have not had very good soups. Today they had a curried lobster bisque, and I thought to myself, “This might be a big mistake, but what would I be if I didn’t even try?” As it turned out, it was surprisingly good. Perhaps due to the 50,000 calories it almost certainly had. And I also stuffed myself with muffins because that’s how I do.

Sometimes the muffins are better than they are at other times, and today was a good muffin day. Insert your own “muffin top” joke here.

My husband isn’t home tonight because he is at the temple. There isn’t anything clever to say about that. It’s just the truth. He’s being all religious and I’m being all slothful because I want to tidy the house about as much as I’ve wanted to take up this blog for the last two months.

Do you know what kind of bugs me about “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer”? If I know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen, why would I not recall the “most famous” reindeer of all? If he is the most famous, doesn’t it seem likely that I would remember him better than I would the others? Why do I need a song to remind me? I suppose it is a rhetorical question. Still.

I haven’t finished Christmas shopping, if you can’t tell.

I am trying to get myself in the mood for Christmas by listening to Christmas music. I like Christmas music, but only when it’s Christmas time. When they start playing Christmas music in October, I want to punch someone in the head. I don’t know why I have such a violent reaction to it. I guess, as I get older, that I’m very aware of the passage of time, and I don’t like people rushing me into Christmas and the end of the year before it’s time. Let me enjoy autumn, people! Of course, one could also argue that life is too short not to listen to Christmas music any time you feel like it. I’ll buy that. But only so long as you listen to your Christmas music in the privacy of your own home or car or earbuds and are not inflicting your out-of-season musical choices on others. Not everyone likes to rock around the Christmas tree on Labor Day weekend.

Personally, I don’t like to rock around the Christmas tree even when it’s Christmas. I also do not like to jingle-bell rock any time of year. Basically, I eschew all Christmas-themed rocking. Unless it’s Christopher Lee’s metal Christmas album, which I feel compelled to respect on principle.

A regular heavy-metal Christmas album, okay. Maybe I’d like it, maybe I wouldn’t. But heavy metal + Christopher Lee? What’s the point of living in the twenty-first century if you don’t take advantage of these modern innovations?

Do you know that Christopher Lee is 92 years old? That’s about eight years older than I thought he was. Amazing.

Anyway, back to my original topic. I’m trying to get into the Christmas spirit because Christmas is, in fact, my favorite holiday, except for all the stress. Even when I was growing up, I hated the stress of Christmas because I absorbed my mother’s stress. But I also loved Christmas, so what could I do? As an adult, though, I feel like I can’t enjoy the Christmas season until I am prepared for Christmas. Because that’s what everyone is talking about at Christmastime: have you done all your shopping? are you ready? I hate listening to other people talk about their Christmas shopping–because usually people who talk about their Christmas shopping are the kind who get it done early and like to brag about it. Frankly, I might brag too, if I had it together enough to finish Christmas shopping before December even starts. But hearing about how much farther ahead of me everyone else is just adds to my stress. Not that it’s a competition or anything, but it just reminds me there are only so many shopping days until Christmas, especially if you don’t want to end up wandering aimlessly around the mall on Dec. 23.

One thing that is easing my stress this year is that my mother-in-law will be visiting one of her other sons on Christmas. Not that I don’t enjoy my mother-in-law’s company, but the Christmas shopping deadline is more flexible because we won’t give her any gifts until she gets back. So at least I don’t have to worry about that.

The worrisome gift recipients this year are Mister Bubby and Elvis. They both really like football, but you can only give someone so many footballs. You can only give them so many Ducks jerseys. You can only give them so many DVDs of the 2012 Rose Bowl. You kind of want to encourage their other interests, if they have any. Elvis really doesn’t. Mister Bubby is very into trombone and jazz (especially as it relates to the trombone), but you can only give your son so many trombones. When he wants to listen to music, he turns on YouTube while he plays Elder Scrolls, or whatever. He likes clever t-shirts, so while I was surfing the web looking for clever t-shirts related to his geek interests, I looked for trombone-themed shirts. Let me tell you, the trombone-themed t-shirt market is about what you’d expect. There’s not much clever that doesn’t involve puns on boning and doing it in seven positions. I may be the woman who stood idly by while her husband bought their eleven-year-old son a “Get Porked at Billy’s” shirt at the barbecue place, but I have to draw the line somewhere.

Anyway, last Christmas was dubbed “Year of the Clothes” by MB, so we’re trying not to repeat that error.

On the plus side, the Christmas tree is up and decorated. It looks pretty, which is good since it will be there until February.

In non-Christmas news, I made a hair appointment for Monday at 11:30. I have clogging until 10:30, and the dance studio is on the way to the hair salon, which would be convenient except that I’d really rather have a shower before going to the salon, so I will have to rush home, take a shower, and rush to the hair appointment. I probably should have made an appointment for another day, but I just accepted the first date she offered me because I guess I didn’t want to seem hard to please. In retrospect I have no idea why I didn’t ask for a different date. It took all of my psychological strength to overcome my fear of making telephone calls to make the telephone call, so once I was in the telephone call, I had nothing left for negotiations.

I’m going to quit writing now because I’ve been on this computer forever, trying to do all my Christmas shopping online because the thought of going to an actual store fills me with dread.

“I think it’s also important to know that some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes. So they’ve driven cigarettes underground… But then some politician also had to direct the police to say, ‘Hey, we want you arresting people for selling a loose cigarette.'”–Rand Paul on the Eric Garner case

[If, for some strange reason, you are not familiar with the case of Eric Garner, the New Yorker who died after police used a choke hold to restrain him because he was resisting arrest, you may read about it here.]

I must tell you from the outset, Rand Paul is not my homeboy. I can’t say I have strong feelings about Rand Paul either way. Does he sometimes make libertarianism look ridiculous? Well, most libertarians do that. But I don’t think he’s particularly ridiculous in this case. Some people think his above statement was an absurd point to make, given that a man was killed. Someone dies, and you blame taxes? Sure, it sounds stupid when you say it that way. But I think it is an astute point, especially in light of Eric Garner’s last words, addressed to the police officers who were arresting him for the crime of selling untaxed cigarettes:

“Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today. […] I’m minding my business, officer, I’m minding my business. Please just leave me alone. I told you the last time, please just leave me alone. Please. Please, don’t touch me. Do not touch me. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.”

Garner was certainly breaking the law. The police had the authority to arrest him. Technically, he didn’t have the “right” to resist. Regardless of whether or not he was right to resist arrest, why were the police arresting him? Because he was selling untaxed cigarettes, quelle horreur. And why was he resisting? Because the cops had a history of hassling him (which cops have a tendency to do to people who are breaking laws), and he’d reached his breaking point. “It stops today.” If you’re going to call Rand Paul’s comments ridiculous, then Garner’s resistance was also ridiculous, by that standard. You might argue that it shouldn’t matter, given that we’re dealing with a question of excessive force by the police, but actually, it does kind of matter.

The police have fairly wide latitude when it comes to handling crime suspects, for the sake of maintaining public order. If you can’t use force, even deadly force, with an arrestee, you’re not going to be able to detain dangerous criminals. Even if a suspect doesn’t appear dangerous initially, the cops can’t predict if or when he (or she) will become dangerous. Police officers put themselves in danger when they try to apprehend and arrest people. They do it every day. They deal with the worst elements of society every day. They have a proctologist’s view of the world. It’s no wonder they tend to take a hostile stand toward the public at large. If they didn’t, probably more of them would be killed than already are every year.

I myself have mixed feelings toward the police. I understand the difficulty of their position, and I appreciate that there are people willing to risk their lives to keep the community safe. On the other hand, we are trusting these people with a crapload of power–and people with a crapload of power can’t always be trusted not to abuse it. It’s a double-edged sword! (Or something like that.) I’ve had perhaps more than my share of encounters with police officers, and no, I’m not talking about traffic tickets. They were not pleasant. (Except for maybe that K-9 officer I met at the boys’ cub scout camp.) When a cop thinks you’ve committed a crime, they approach you as they would any law-breaking scumbag. They do their best to intimidate you. Some of them are probably just jerks. (I can think of at least one incident from my personal experience that would support that hypothesis.) But I can’t ignore the fact that police officers always have to be prepared to deal with violent offenders, and being prepared also makes you a big meanie.

With all that said, here’s the point: The more things that are illegal, the more crimes will be committed. That’s just arithmetic, kids. The more crimes there are, the more people are going to be put in dangerous situations because the potential for violence is inherent in nearly every police-citizen interaction. There are people who are authorized to deprive you of your liberty, at least temporarily, and then there’s you, not particularly keen on having your liberty curtailed. Are you going to resist? Not unless you want to get hurt, I guess. Are there any circumstances under which you might resist, and risk getting hurt? How oppressive does the government have to be before you start resisting? “It stops today.”

The average law-abiding citizen doesn’t think much about the power the police wield because they don’t expect to be subject to it. And if you’re generally law-abiding and belong to a racially and economically privileged demographic, you probably won’t be (aside from the occasional traffic ticket). But the more things that are illegal, the more crimes will be committed. The more crime, the more police intervention, and the more police intervention, the more potential for violence–and the more potential for the police to overreact and to abuse their power. And the more potential for tragic misunderstandings and accidents, which do happen. So shouldn’t it stand to reason that in addition to police officers being properly trained and following the rules and not being racists and so forth, we should minimize the number of situations where a police officer has to intervene?

Cigarettes are bad for you, which I guess is why we tax them so heavily–or rather, why politicians can get away with taxing them so heavily. Never mind that cigarette taxes fall disproportionately on poor people and minorities. I mean, we’re talking about people’s health here! But Rand Paul is right–the high taxes have created a black market for cigarettes, which means they’ve created more crime. More crime–even non-violent crime–means more victims of police malfeasance. I know I keep saying it, but it keeps being true. There was no reason–that I can see–why the situation with Eric Garner should have escalated as quickly as it did. But I also think there’s no reason that a mother should be put in jail for letting her nine-year-old play at the park by herself. I’m kind of an anarchist, I guess.

Racism may have been a factor in Eric Garner’s arrest. I’m not a mind-reader, so I won’t speculate on how much the police officers in question had against black people. What I do know is that we give police officers a lot of leeway to use force on suspects because we don’t want them holding back when force is really needed; that gives a lot of cover to police officers who use excessive force. Is it possible to restrict their use of force without jeopardizing public safety? Well, I hope so, because putting a chokehold on a dude selling cigarettes is just nuts. But what do you do with someone who’s resisting arrest, even if what they’re getting arrested for is kind of trivial in the grand scheme of things? At what point are you permitted to use more forceful means of restraint? If it’s better to let them go than to risk hurting them, what’s the point of the law in the first place?

Last night I had a nightmare. It is the first nightmare I have had in a really long time. I define “nightmare” as “not merely an unpleasant dream, but a dream in which one is terrified and which continues to haunt the dreamer after waking.” It was horrible dream, with a lot of graphic violence and gore. I do not usually dream of graphic violence and gore. I do not usually partake of gore in any form. Well, okay, that’s not strictly true. I do read a lot of serial killer books, but I kind of skim over any gory parts and forget them relatively quickly. I do not usually partake in visual representations of gore, precisely because they are so much harder to forget. But this dream was violent and gory, in addition to terrifying. The worst part of the dream–which covered a time period of several days, possibly weeks–was that I kept coming to a point where I thought, “Phew, I’m safe. My family’s safe.” AND THEN WE WERE NOT SAFE. AGAIN!

I will not describe the dream to you. Usually when I have a vivid dream I like to put it on the internet and crowd-source an interpretation. But most of my dreams are fairly amusing in retrospect. Nightmares are not. But I actually did write this dream down earlier today. One might think that if a dream were very disturbing, as this dream was, one would want to forget it as soon as possible, not write it down for posterity. But I suppose when I get disturbed enough by dreams, I worry that there is some reason that I had the dream that I should probably try to understand. In hindsight this seems silly. Nightmares probably aren’t any more significant than ordinary dreams. Therefore, why should I try to understand them? Also, now that I have written it down, it does seem more silly than terrifying. That is, I imagine that someone else reading about it would laugh at it. I myself am not laughing yet. It’s still haunting me.

And now you’re curious. Don’t be. Suffice it to say that the dream involved a prison housing dangerous criminals under my garage. My family and I were living in our garage because our oppressive government had taken over the main house. The good news is that the garage (in the dream, not in real life) was perfectly adequate for a family of six. The bad news is that it was not adequate for a family of six and several dangerous convicts. If I wasn’t being threatened by dangerous convicts (who were also mutants (thanks to the inhumane living conditions in the sub-garage prison), I was being threatened by corrupt government officials (who suspected me of collaborating in the recent escape of aforementioned convicts). I was in a constant state of fear.

Yes, I realize it does sound a little bit silly. But it was not actually silly. Which you would understand, if you had been there.

I was wondering what might cause a dream like this, assuming it is not a message from God or something equally meaningful. Princess Zurg has been preoccupied with government oppression for at least a twelvemonth. I suppose that would account for me dreaming about an oppressive government (especially one that would take over my house and force our family of six to live in a garage, adequate as it was). And my husband and I did recently watch A Young Doctor’s Notebook on Netflix, which was much gorier than anything else I ever watch on television. (I couldn’t watch CSI because the one episode I saw kept doing close-ups of the victim’s vomit. I found that would not do. But Victim’s Vomit might make a good name for a death metal band. Not that I would listen to a band called that. I’m just putting it out there, in case there are any death metal bands looking for a new name. Use it with my blessing.) I watched those scenes with very squinty eyes, from behind my hands. So that might explain the uncharacteristic dream gore.

Where the prison thing came from, I’m not sure. I haven’t been threatened with prison in a rather long time.

Moving along, though–school is finally back in session. I still haven’t told you about my camping experience from last month. I doubt very much I will ever be in the mood to do so. Maybe I’ll just hit the main points:

* They make air mattresses better than they used to.

* Flushing toilets at the campsite really do make a positive difference.

* A ten-man tent can fit a family of six comfortably. (It isn’t quite as roomy as a dream garage over a dream prison, but then, it doesn’t have the convicted felons either.)

* My husband made gourmet camp food. We ate better while camping than we usually eat at home.

* We camped at two different places. The first place was remote and quiet. It occurred to me, that first night, when I had to leave the tent to go to the bathroom (because ever since the birth of my fourth child, I have to get up at least twice during the night to go to the bathroom), that I should probably be afraid of killers possibly lurking in the woods, but I did not suspect there were any killers in this particular place. And if there were, maybe they would hit the RVs first. I don’t know why, but I think that’s what I would do, if I were a killer.

* The second place was very close to the highway. You could hear the trucks going by all night. Trucks going by on the highway at 55 mph are not quiet. Also, we were no longer camping with nice old people and their grandkids and their RVs but with younger and inconsiderate people who liked to play their obnoxious music well into the night and not retire until maybe 2 a.m. It occurs to me, in retrospect, that I was probably in much more danger of killers at this campsite, and yet I was not afraid of killers here either. Probably because I was too busy thinking about how I might become a killer if those horrible people next to us did not shut up or at least turn off their radio. But I did not become a killer, nor, obviously, was I killed.

* I got sunburned on my knees, but only on my knees. It’s a long story involving oversights in sunblock application. But I lied just now. I did not get sunburned only on my knees. I couldn’t find my hat before we left, so I also got sunburned on my scalp. Never again will I think to myself, “Maybe I should take a hat. Except I can’t find my hat. Maybe I don’t really need to take a hat.” Ladies who are slowly but surely going bald will always need a hat. Which reminds me, I should be looking into Lady Rogaine or something.

* I did not hate camping this year.

* I don’t need to go camping again next year.

That’s all I can remember, frankly. There was more, but who cares? I mean, if I don’t, why should you?

 

When last you tuned in to this blog, i.e. the last time I actually wrote something for this blog, I was talking about my history of camping, as a preparation for talking about my most recent, first-time-in-twenty-five-years camping experience. Unfortunately, I wrote that shortly before I had to go out of town. I got back in town about a week ago, but my kids have been monopolizing all the computers and when they haven’t been monopolizing them, I have been too tired or not in the mood to write about my camping adventure. Or about my out-of-town adventure. Maybe I will come back to those things at a later time. Or maybe I will forget all about them. But if there’s one thing I know (or remember) about blogging, it’s that it’s best to write something while you’re thinking about it, as opposed to thinking, “I should write about that sometime,” and then never actually do it (or wait so long to do it that you’re no longer sure what was so interesting about the subject in the first place). So I am not going to write about camping and going out of town today, but I am going to write about the things that are on my mind.

Princess Zurg is a feminist, so she’s plugged in to feminist issues and news stories to do with women, i.e. she sees stuff on the Facebook and whatnot. Yesterday we were talking about the controversy over the new roofie-detecting nail polish some dudes invented. A woman who has painted her fingernails with this polish can supposedly test her drink for roofies simply by discreetly dipping a fingernail in her drink. (I was going to call this invention “handy,” but then I realized that would be more punny than I wanted to sound.) Rape prevention advocates are concerned that it puts more responsibility on the woman to avoid becoming a victim, rather than stopping rapists from raping; this is the sort of thing that contributes to rape culture. I agree that it isn’t cool to hold a woman responsible for her rape. The only people responsible for rape are rapists. However, I disagree that providing a tool that might (note: might, not “definitely will”) help a woman protect herself from sexual predators contributes to rape culture.

A couple reasons:

1) Helping a woman protect herself is not the same as holding her responsible for her own safety. We don’t have any trouble telling people how to protect themselves from identity theft, even though it is the identity thief who is responsible for stealing someone’s identity. Some people will come up with reasons to blame a rape survivor for her (or his, as the case may be) attack, but those people need to figure out the difference between committing a crime and being a victim of a crime. “But she was drunk” or “But she was walking by herself at night in a bad part of town” are not valid excuses for raping someone, just as “But their password was so obvious” or “But they didn’t use PayPal” are not valid excuses for stealing someone’s financial information. Is a woman entitled to get drunk and pass out by herself in a bad part of town without getting raped? Absolutely. Just as a person is entitled to have money without getting it stolen. People are not supposed to rob or rape you. You are entitled to walk through life without being criminally molested. It’s just the criminals you have to convince of this. (Good luck, by the way.)

Now might be an appropriate time to point out that these days we expect parents to protect their children from all manner of danger, regardless of how remote. Parents are arrested for leaving their eleven-year-olds unattended in cars because anything could have happened in the five minutes they were gone. But tell a college student she should probably try not to drink herself unconscious at a party because some people like to rape unconscious women, and that is blaming the victim. Never mind that college students are much more likely to get raped after getting drunk than eleven-year-olds are to be abducted by maniacs while their parents are picking up a prescription at the Walgreens. I guess the next time someone lectures me about letting one of my kids out of my sight, I can ask why they don’t focus more on teaching strangers not to kidnap.

It is fair enough to say that it isn’t up to women not to get raped, but it’s up to men not to rape. I’m on board with that, for sure. However, the majority of men already do a pretty good job of not raping. They may not know how to share household chores equally, but they’ve got the not-raping thing down just fine. So obviously education works–both the moral and legal varieties. The problem remains, and always will, that there are men who know what rape is, know it’s wrong (and illegal), and don’t care. Just like most criminals know what’s against the law and break the law anyway. They all have their reasons. The rapist’s reasons are a) “because I can” and b) ….well, I’d say (a) pretty much covers it. We should still teach people about consent, just like we should still teach people what the traffic laws are, but there are always going to be people who think the law doesn’t (or shouldn’t) apply to them; those are the people we have to protect ourselves from.

2) Rebecca Nagle, one of the co-directors of an activist group called FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, says, “The problem isn’t that women don’t know when there are roofies in their drink; the problem is people putting roofies in their drink in the first place.”

Indeed. That is the problem. You know what else is a problem? People stealing cars. Yet no one suggests that selling car alarms is part of the problem. If someone steals your car, are you partially to blame unless you had an alarm on it? I hope not because I don’t have an alarm on my car. I also probably wouldn’t bother to wear roofie-detecting nail polish. Mainly because I don’t paint my fingernails. I paint my toenails, but dipping my toe into my drink would not be terribly discreet. Also, the roofie-detecting stuff probably costs more than regular nail polish and I like my nail polish cheap. Still, I’m not upset that people sell things like car alarms and roofie-detecting nail polish. I think it’s nice that those things exist for the people who want to use them. It’s good to have choices. Without choices, what are we? Communists.

As I just said a few paragraphs ago, there are people who will come up with reasons to blame women for their own rapes. They will say things like “She was drinking” or “She was dressed provocatively.” (Dressing “provocatively,” of course, is a lot more subjective than being incapacitated. In any case, neither is a reason to blame a person for being a victim of a crime. The perpetrator of the crime is the one to blame.) How often, though, do you hear stuff like “She wasn’t carrying a gun” or “She didn’t learn karate”? Not often, I’m betting. And that’s about how likely it is that people will blame a woman for not wearing roofie-detecting nail polish the night someone spiked her drink and raped her.

So I don’t get the hate for roofie-detecting nail polish. And neither does Princess Zurg, who is the first person to call someone out for blaming the victim. She is sincerely perplexed by people who have a problem with a product that might protect women from sexual predators, which is why we were having the conversation and why it is on my mind.

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The other story I wanted to talk about is the feminist advertising campaign undertaken by underwear company Dear Kate. The ads show real life women in the tech industry, sitting at their computers while dressed in only their underwear. It includes quotes about their work. It’s a feminist campaign because it doesn’t just show sexy women posing provocatively. It shows real women (some with less model-like bodies than others) at work in a male-dominated industry. In their underwear. Which shows that they are comfortable in their female bodies, which is important. They can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan. All while wearing only their underwear. (And if they get splattered by bacon grease in the process, well, that’s hardly the issue, is it? I’m appalled that you would even bring it up.)

Some feminists have criticized the ads, though, because—well, see the above paragraph. I have to admit that I myself was dumbfounded. I’m okay with these body-positive ad campaigns that show women of different sizes and shapes. I’m also okay with ad campaigns that only show slender and well-toned women because I don’t really pay much attention to underwear ads. I’ve never kidded myself that if I wore a particular brand of underwear, I would look like the model in the ad. And looking at women with large thighs does not make me feel better about myself. What would make me feel better about myself? It’s a fair question. I suppose if I were a woman who had made a successful career for herself in the tech industry, or any industry, I would feel good about myself. I still would probably not let someone take pictures of me in my underwear and use them for a national ad campaign.

I know what you’re thinking, but it isn’t that I don’t like the way I look in my underwear. I think I look fine in my underwear, all things considered. Fine enough for anyone who’s going to see me, at least. In my worldview, that demographic does not properly include total strangers or people I interact with professionally. It just isn’t dignified. That was my first reaction to the ad. “Why on earth would anyone do that? It just isn’t dignified.” No offense to the dignity of underwear models. I mean, if that’s your job, more power to you. It’s like being an actor, in a way. That’s fine. But if your job is something not underwear-modeling-related, why would you want to be seen in public in your underwear? I just don’t get it. Maybe I don’t understand how the tech industry works. Maybe these women don’t have to go to work in the morning and look their (probably male) co-workers in the eye, knowing that these co-workers have seen them in their underwear. Maybe it just doesn’t bother them if their colleagues have pictures of them in their underwear.

Skillcrush cofounder and CEO Adda Birnir, who participated in the photo shoot (and looks great, by the way), said, “I think the thing is that all women have bodies and wear underwear and have to deal with all the mundane as well as cultural/political things that come with walking around in a female body. We aren’t either women who pose in underwear or women who code or women who are attractive or women who are unattractive or women who are sexual or women who are CEOs. We are all the things at once, and it’s confusing and messy and complicated and often annoyingly at issue, but not dealing with all those different facets isn’t a viable solution.”

So if someone decided to rip this ad out of their favorite periodical and pin it to the bulletin board in the lunch room, would they be guilty of sexual harassment? Or would they just be starting a conversation about the cultural/political things that come with walking around in a female body in the workplace? Not a joke. I am genuinely curious. Does Birnir make sense, or does she sound like an idiot?

I admit I don’t have a lot of feminist cred. I lost that when I started voting Republican. So I might be tempted to defer to the judgment of people who are better feminists than I. But I can’t help thinking that if a bunch of men in the tech industry posed for pictures in their underwear for a nationwide ad campaign, people would not think it was provocative and interesting. They would think, “There are some men who don’t have much dignity.” I think that’s what it comes down to for me. It’s not feminist or anti-feminist. It’s just not dignified. I guess I’m old-fashioned that way.

What do you all think?

(Speaking of dignity, this article made me laugh out loud, and I guess there will never be a more appropriate time to share it than now: Dating Naked contestant sues series showing her dating while naked)

 

 

 

Did I scare you? You thought I was dead, didn’t you?

Actually, you probably just thought I’d given up on blogging forever (finally), and you were right. Mostly. I mean, I was pretty sure a couple days ago that I would just never post anything on this blog again because, well, look at me. I mean, look at the blog. It’s just sad. It makes me sad to look at it. Why didn’t I find some way to go out with a bang? Probably because I’m not very good at big productions. I’m good at excelling in small, insignificant things. And you just never know when you’ve written your last insignificant thing. But I digress. The point is, I changed my mind. I changed my mind just now, because for some reason I am perpetually signed in to WordPress, so whenever I visit another WordPress blog, I see the header with my username and whether or not people have been commenting and/or following me. I am apparently still getting lots of followers even though I haven’t updated this thing since…well, I guess it was June. Seems like longer. Anyway, that’s not the point. I’m still getting followers, but I’m assuming most of them are spambots because that’s who most of my commenters are. I haven’t investigated this to know for sure because I’d rather maintain the illusion that there’s a possibility at least some of them are actual people. But the comments are getting to me.

It is the best time to make some plans for the future and
it’s time to be happy. I’ve read this post
and if I could I want to suggest you few interesting
things or advice. Maybe you can write next articles referring
to this article. I wish to read more things about it!

I liked it better when I was blogging in obscurity and no one commented. This is like flies laying eggs on your decaying flesh. Gross!

You may have noticed, if you are a blogger that I have historically followed, that in addition to not blogging I am also not commenting on anyone’s blog. This is because I’m also not reading anyone’s blog. This is not because your blog no longer interests me. This is because I am intentionally not paying attention to anyone’s blog because it reminds me that I’ve left my own to die, and that makes me sad. I would be less sad about it if I had replaced blogging with writing in some other form, but I really haven’t written much of anything since the kids got out of school. For one thing, they hog all the computers. For another thing, I’m busy. For the most important thing, I’ve been lazy. How can I be both too busy and too lazy? Well, I’m not simultaneously. I’m alternately too busy and alternately too lazy. And intermittently without a computer because my kids are computer hogs. I can’t seem to convince any of them that this computer is actually mine. It belongs to me. My husband bought it for me with his own money. I’m the one who married him, not them! But they don’t get it.

That’s why I should probably get a job. One of many reasons, but that subject depresses me too.

Anyway, I know this makes me a fair-weather internet-friend. You should see how I’ve been letting stuff go on Facebook too. I’m sort of over feeling guilty about it, though, because really, there are so many ways I’ve failed others in real life (i.e. off the internet) that I just can’t afford to indulge any feelings of remorse over anything anymore.

I might be turning into a sociopath. I understand those are usually born, not made, but I might be the first self-made sociopath. That could be the title of a new blog. “Self-made Sociopath.” I’m considering it. Don’t steal it until I say it’s okay!

When I think about it, there are a great many things I could be blogging about right now. For one thing, I recently got back from my first camping trip in 25 years. Maybe 27 years. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s been 27 years. Maybe 29. All this counting is making me feel old. Anyway, I’m sure you’re dying to know how that went.

Okay, I’ll tell you.

The last time I can remember camping is when my family (all of us except my older sister, who was working that summer) went to the Grand Canyon. That wasn’t the only thing we did that summer. It was just the most noteworthy thing.

I kid you not, one of my kids just came up and asked for the computer. Just now. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? GET A JOB!

Anyway, that summer we went to the Grand Canyon was the summer we trekked all over the Western United States. We started in Southern California, where we lived, drove out to the Grand Canyon, went up through Utah and Idaho, where we saw relatives, across through Washington, where we had more relatives, and down through Oregon, where we had yet more relatives, and back down through California again. While in Utah we visited the Salt Lake Temple. Just the outside, just for a little while. We also might have had relatives in Utah at that time. I can’t remember for sure. What I remember most vividly is driving through Las Vegas around noontime and there were five of us crammed into a Dodge Vista wagon with no air conditioning. This is where my hatred of Las Vegas was born. (My hatred of cars without air conditioning had long been established by then.) It doesn’t seem quite right to me now that we should have been in Las Vegas at all. It’s neither on the way to or the way from the Grand Canyon. But I’m 99% certain this was the same trip because when else would we have been in Las Vegas? We don’t have relatives there. I also remember that we had lunch at an A&W and they served me a root beer in one of those glass mugs, which I reckon they don’t do anymore, but the point I was going to make was that the mug had lipstick on it. I did not wear lipstick. Now that I think on it, it could very well have been an Arctic Circle. We didn’t have either of them in California, but I’m almost certain it was an A&W because of the root beer. I used to drink root beer. I don’t anymore. Not because of the lipstick incident but because I probably drank too many of them when I was younger and now they just taste kind of gross to me, unless they have ice cream in them. But I really do digress this time. How old was I? I want to say 15. I’m 43 now, so that’s 28 years ago. (Gee, one of the few numbers I didn’t guess.) Except for when we stayed with relatives, we were camping.

Camping was what my family did instead of staying in hotels. I can’t recall ever camping in the same place two nights in a row. I don’t think we did. Why would we have? We had places to go–relatives to see, canyons to visit. Anyway, my family camped A LOT when I was growing up, always on the way to someplace else. We never really camped just for the sake of hanging out in nature. It was just that camping was cheaper than a hotel. Don’t get me wrong–my father loved camping. He was a boy scout. He loved the nature. My mother did not so much love it, but she was a good sport and she didn’t like spending money either. (More to the point, she felt guilty about spending money, but that’s another story.) The only time I can remember staying in a hotel when I was growing up was when we moved from Oregon to California and we stayed in a Holiday Inn in the Bay Area, courtesy my father’s new employer. Otherwise, it would never have happened. Let me tell you, the Holiday Inn was my idea of luxury for many years. To this day I have kind of a soft spot in my heart for it, although my last stay at a Holiday Inn Express was less than ideal.

But anyway–yes, camping. We did it every year. Every. Single. Year. The thing I remember most about it was blowing up my own air mattress. These days you have these new-fangled battery-operated pumps to blow up air mattresses. You also have much better air mattresses. Back then it was the kind of air mattresses you float in swimming pools and we had to blow them up with our own breath. You should know that I was well into my thirties before I successfully inflated my first balloon with this method, so you can imagine how much work it was for me, as a mere child (or sullen teenager) to inflate an entire freaking air mattress. Actually, by the time I was a sullen teenager, I had given up on blowing up the air mattress. Actually, it may have been on this Grand Canyon camping trip that I decided I wasn’t going to bother with them anymore BECAUSE THEY ALWAYS SPRANG A LEAK AND I’D WAKE UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT ON THE HARD GROUND ANYWAY SO WHAT WAS THE POINT. I was also on my period during this camping trip, so that made everything extra-delightful. (I’m sorry if you’re a dude reading this and needed a trigger warning before that sentence, but on the other hand, maybe you should just grow up. I’m the one who really suffered.)

So that is my prior camping experience, in a nutshell. Now a foundation has been laid so that I can tell you how I, a grown woman of 43, got suckered into making a camping trip–a four-day camping trip–and how that went. Stay tuned, gentle readers. Same bat time, same bat channel.*

*Same bat channel. I can’t promise the bat time. Heck, I can’t even guarantee that I’ll update in less than a month. But I will. I promise!**

**A promise is not the same as a guarantee. Promises are frequently broken. You never hear about a broken guarantee. Probably some legal thing.

I keep hearing and reading different places that all children want is a (relatively) small amount of a parent’s undivided attention. The “undivided” part is key: you can’t be looking at your phone or reading a book or doing any other thing while you’re interacting with your child. As long as you give said child your undivided attention, they will be satisfied after, say, fifteen, twenty minutes.

When I first heard this, I admit that I was skeptical. In my experience, the more attention you give children, the more they want. Whatever amount of attention you manage to give them one day becomes the new standard by which they measure every other day. If you pay less attention to them today than you did yesterday, they think they are starving. Admittedly, though, it has been quite some time since I’ve tried giving my children undivided attention. Once I realized what what greedy little attention hogs they were, I started giving them mostly divided attention, or otherwise I would not have been able to get anything done. So upon reflection, realizing that I had twelve weeks of no-school days ahead of me, I decided I would try this undivided attention thing and see if it resulted in my children feeling attention-sated.

What this “give your child 15 minutes of undivided attention and they’ll leave you alone” theory fails to take into account is that it is impossible to give a child undivided attention if you have any other children in the house. Someone else always wants something while you’re trying to provide their sibling with your undivided attention. It doesn’t matter if attending to the other child takes only five seconds, if you’re only dividing your attention long enough to say, “Shut it! I’m paying attention to So-and-so!”–once you have divided your attention, the damage has been done. I guess a clock resets. Maybe. I wouldn’t know. After hundreds of hours of data collection, I have yet to give anyone fifteen minutes of undivided attention, and I have come to the conclusion that it just isn’t going to happen and I may as well start ignoring the children in favor of more rewarding pursuits.

(Just so we’re clear, I don’t actually tell my kids to “shut it.” Usually.)

My clogging group has adjourned for the summer–called a recess? Something like that. Usually we meet through the end of July because usually we perform at the county fair in July, so we are practicing up until then. But this year we are not doing the county fair because too many of us were going to be out of town that week. Also, several cloggers were heavily involved in the LDS Portland Youth Dance Festival, which finally happened a couple weeks ago, and after a year of constant dance-related toil, they were ready to take a sabbatical. So there has been no clogging since May ended, and my body feels deprived of regular exercise. My intention was to get a lot of practice in this summer so I’d be the clogging equivalent of tanned, rested, and ready come September, but so far there has been none of that.

The reasons for this are several-fold. No, actually, it just comes down to one thing: I have other priorities. There are the usual chores–laundry, dishes, shopping, cooking–and there’s the divided-attention-giving. That takes up a lot of time. But there are also things like eating and grooming. Some days I skimp on the grooming. Okay, let’s face it–most days I skimp on the grooming. Some days I don’t just skimp, but I skip the grooming. But other days I feel like if I don’t get some grooming in, I may lose my humanity. So I decide to groom instead of exercise because I only have  so much time. Is it worth it? I don’t know.

I’d muse on this some more, except it’s time to take Elvis to his swim lessons.

Mister Bubby: This is the ringtone I want for my phone. When I get a cell phone.

Madhousewife: What do you need a cell phone for? Who would you call?

MB: Well, you are going to get me a cell phone when I go to high school, aren’t you? You’ll have to because I’m going to be a social butterfly. All the girls are going to call me and be like, “Hey, Mister Bubby, want to go on a date?” And I’ll be like, “Sorry, ladies. Not until I’m 16. In two years I’ll take you all out on a date. At the same time.”

.

You know what’s the worst? When you have a dream at night that you have to do something, but you can’t get it done, and you’re running out of time, and you keep trying to do it but you can’t and the time is getting shorter and shorter and you keep trying and trying but you just can’t and it’s so frustrating, and you just dream like this all night until you wake up, exhausted.

Last night I dreamed that I had to write an essay for a college class I couldn’t remember going to at all, but apparently I had done a rough draft of this essay that the professor said I needed to make significant improvements on, and I thought, “Okay, I can do that,” but when I went to write it again, I couldn’t make my hands form letters. Yes, I was writing it out longhand. Because I didn’t have a computer or anything. I thought to myself, “This would be so much easier with a keyboard,” but I had to write it longhand, and my hand kept seizing up and I couldn’t write whole words before the muscles in my hand would just start cramping and I couldn’t get a whole word down on paper before I had to stop and take a rest.

You don’t think this dream was symbolic of anything, do you? Because I’m pretty sure it was just random.

I did wake up extremely frustrated and tired. It was almost as bad as the time I dreamed I was moving and I spent hours and hours packing up a room full of toys and art supplies and other crap–just tons and tons and tons of crap, sorting it and boxing it up so I could put it on the truck–and I woke up with very mixed feelings. On the one hand, I was very glad that I was not actually moving and under any obligation to sort and box up my crap. On the other hand, I’d gotten a lot of work done in that dream, and now it was all for nothing. I felt robbed, actually.

There are only nine days of school left. More like eight, since this school day is almost over. Then it will be summer vacation for twelve weeks.

Here’s what I like about summer vacation:

* Sleeping in.

Here’s what I don’t like about summer vacation.

* Everything else.

More specifically:

* Kids home all day, requiring entertainment, refereeing, or a (figurative) whip to spur them to do the chores their father expects them to get done while he’s at work.

* Driving kids even more places than they usually have to go.

* Swimming lessons.

* Everyone wanting me to make them lunch–which wouldn’t be so bad if they’d all sit down and eat the same lunch at the same time, but no, that’s not how they do. Yes, I know, they should make their own damn lunch, which is pretty much what I tell them, and some of them will, but not all of them, not always. I still end up spending a significant portion of the day managing their stupid eating schedules. WHY DO PEOPLE ALWAYS HAVE TO EAT, EVERY DAY? It’s so tedious.

* “I’m have nothing to do.”

* “I don’t WANT to do THAT!”

* “Fine, I’ll just go live in a different family!” But she never does.

* [Whining]

* [Screaming]

* [Eventual fisticuffs]

* Having to lock myself in my room to keep from killing them, and they keep pounding on my door anyway. No, you can’t come in! It’s for your own safety!

* The going-away part of summer vacation, where I have to pack up all our belongings so we can spend all day together in an unfamiliar location, where I usually don’t get my own room to lock myself in.

This year for going-away summer vacation, we are going camping. This is the first time we have ever gone camping together as a family. I know. Sugar Daddy and I have been married for 17 years, and this is the first he’s suckered me into going camping. I don’t remember how he did it. I don’t remember why I agreed. Because if I didn’t agree, he’d make me plan vacation. Yes, that sounds familiar. The only thing I hate more than going on vacation is planning a vacation. I’m a good follower. I’m good at doing what people tell me to do. Within reason. (In case my husband is reading this and wondering why I still haven’t cleaned out the closets. Some people can kiss my big toe.) So that is how I’ve come to be scheduled to go camping for the first time in…I can’t think how many years. When was the last time I went camping with my family of origin? I want to say 1986. That might be right. I’m not convinced it’s gotten any more glamorous or convenient in the intervening years. But at least I don’t have to plan it.

You know what my ideal vacation plan would be? I stay here, you all go have a good time. (My husband doesn’t accept this variety of vacation plan. So he may as well do it himself.)

SD and I are also planning to go away for a couple days by ourselves this summer. Well, it’s a little less romantic than you might think. My niece is getting married in Salt Lake City, and I thought I would go to the wedding. I didn’t know if SD would care about going or not. But he said he wanted to go, and while we were at it, why not make a long weekend of it or whatever. Okay. So we’re going to have our romantic getaway in Salt Lake City in August. You know, even now that I’ve explained it, I still don’t understand what happened there.

Time to possibly eat lunch before picking up my high schooler.

.

Mister Bubby: Mom wants to be a bus driver.

Mad: No, I don’t.

MB: Why not? It’s a respectable profession.

1. For years she was always the tallest kid in her class–usually by a lot–but she hasn’t grown at all since the fifth grade. At 5’1″ she is shorter than her two younger brothers. Her baby sister might eventually eclipse her too, but that still remains to be seen. She does not like to be called short. She does not like being short. But she takes some solace in the fact that she will never have to worry about towering over her dates, even if she wears high heels.

2. She hates shopping. This is why I don’t take her shopping–because I also hate shopping. She and I go shopping, and it’s “See anything you like?” “No.” “Fine. We’ll leave, then.” Somehow her dad manages to get her to try things on and buy them. And he always gets things on sale. Okay, now this is saying more about her dad than about her, but all I meant to do was highlight the difference between her relationship with her dad and her relationship with me. I’m here for empathy. Her dad is there for persuasion.

3. She is mostly over the breakup of My Chemical Romance, especially since Gerard Way will soon release a solo album. But she is also getting into some other music. She is going a little retro. She is very into the Cure right now. She asked me if I’d buy Pornography for her. Now she says she’s addicted to it. “Mom, I think I may be a little too into Pornography.” She thinks that’s a very funny joke.

4. Her latest major obsession is Frozen. Her favorite character is Olaf. (As her 13-year-old brother admitted, who doesn’t love Olaf?) She pretty much has the movie memorized. You wouldn’t think the music would be her cuppa, but she sings all the songs too (although she is less fond of “Love Is an Open Door,” possibly because she hates Hans–and she says she never liked him from the start, even before [SPOILER REDACTED]). Her love of this movie has allowed her to bond some more with her younger sister.

5. There is a boy in one of her classes who has a crush on her, but she can’t decide how she feels about him.

6. I promised her I wouldn’t tell anyone about her latest crush, so you’re just going to have to use your imagination.

7. Politically, she has a wide libertarian streak, which isn’t surprising, given the political leanings of her parents. However, she is intensely anti-abortion–which is a little bit surprising to me, abortion not being a super-popular topic of conversation in our household (at least not until she became interested in it). She is adamant that she is pro-life not for religious reasons, but for scientific ones. In fact, she’s incredibly frustrated that most pro-life groups are comprised of religious nutjobs (her characterization, not mine–no angry letters, please!) and she belongs to all these Facebook groups like “Riot Grrrls for Life,” Secular Pro-life,” and “Badass Pro-life Feminists.” Recently an anti-abortion group protested in front of her high school for three days. It was one of those religious nutjob groups, which upset her, so she had sort of a counter-protest…or a counter…counter… protest, where she held up signs that said things like, “May the fetus I save be gay” and “For the embryology textbook tells me so.” It was probably one of the highlights of her life so far. My daughter, the nuanced protester.

8. When I picked her up from the aforementioned protest, one of the members of the organizing (alleged religious nutjob) group told me, “Your daughter has a very sharp mind.” Yes, she does.

9. She still hates church. I guess I’ll let you know when she stops.

10. She is taking a foods class this term, and one of her assignments was to make an entire meal at home from scratch. She made Indian food, including naan, from scratch. It was delicious. She only cooks vegetarian food, not because she is a vegetarian (she is decidedly not), but because she doesn’t like handling raw meat. And who can blame her? Raw meat is gross.

11. She is trying to incorporate more color into her wardrobe. Most of her clothes are still black, white, and red with a smattering of purple, but now that she is embracing nautical fashion themes, she has a little bit of blue in there too.

12. She still likes to play fashion dress-up games online.

13. She spent a great deal of time learning how to put her hair up in victory rolls. She has really long hair, so I’m very impressed with this accomplishment.

14. At the same time, she is still not very good at brushing her hair.

15. She worries a lot about the future of our country. Particularly the economy. She’s afraid she’s not going to be able to get a job that will support her in the manner she’s become accustomed to. This might be partly our fault.

16. She is sixteen years old today.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PRINCESS ZURG!

 

All the kids are back in school today, and I could not be happier. Just kidding. Of course I could be happier. I could always be happier! If I ever reached the fulness of my happiness potential, the world would probably explode. Nevertheless, I am pleased to have the house back to myself. Unfortunately, I think that also means I have to clean it now.

If I were a better person, I would have made my kids clean it this weekend. But I’m at best an average person; therefore, all I can do is whine about how messy things are.

Maybe I couldn’t possibly be happier. Maybe this is as happy as my average-person self gets.

But this is no time to get bogged down in philosophy.

Today I went to my clogging class for the first time in three weeks. We didn’t meet during spring break, and then after spring break I got sick. Or rather, during spring break I got sick and was not better enough on Monday to dance for an hour and a half. I confess I was not looking forward to going today. I haven’t practiced at all, and I thought it would probably hurt to start again. It didn’t hurt that much. It was driven home to me, yet again, that I really need to practice some more. I’m so bad right now, I am starting to be embarrassed by it.

And I don’t embarrass easily.

It’s fortunate that I don’t embarrass easily because Princess Zurg had a semi-public breakdown this weekend. I say semi-public because we were at the church, but not many other people were there at the time–and not really anybody we knew. If your daughter has a psychotic episode in front of strangers, is it still humiliating? I shouldn’t say “psychotic episode.” That is hyperbole and inaccurate. What shall I call it? A total loss of self-control and rational thought, which included screaming and profanity. I realize church has that effect on a lot of people, but I’m still concerned. It happens at home too, you see. And yes, I realize family life has that effect on some people. Like me, for instance. But I spend weeks and months repressing it and only let it out occasionally. PZ lets it out all the time, and it doesn’t seem to help her at all, so I’d rather she did more repressing. Do you think it’s possible to teach someone how to repress stuff? I have a natural talent for it, so it’s hard for me to explain how it’s done, but surely there are professionals out there who could offer their assistance.

I had a talk with my husband yesterday about several things, but one of the things he brought up was my writing, and it put me in a rather unhappy mood. I was actually already in an unhappy mood because of the PZ situation, but I was repressing it pretty successfully, and then my husband’s innocent inquiry about my writing forced me to confront my fear of failure, which I suspect is a fear that grows more rational every day, and that put me in an unhappier mood. And here I am now, writing on this blog for no reason except to prove to myself that I can. But it isn’t very interesting, is it?

I’m hungry, and I need to do more laundry. Gentle reader, I apologize for how often I talk about the laundry. I know it has to be annoying. But I keep needing to do it, and there’s just nothing else going on in my life right now. Except that PZ’s birthday is coming up, and she wants to have a party but she doesn’t know what she wants to do, specifically, and I certainly have no ideas because I’m not a party-giver. Also, I’m apparently not an idea-haver, or I would be writing a lot better than I currently do. But that’s treading too closely to the matter I’m trying to suppress.

Tomorrow night is a baby shower for a woman in my clogging group. I feel like I should go because I like her, and perhaps I should get out of the house, but I’m afraid I’ll go and not have a good time. I kind of hate baby showers. But I feel obligated to make some effort to be social with people sometimes. I don’t know. I suppose I could go and if it sucks, I could leave. No one would notice or care. And I will have fulfilled my social obligation. So I guess I’ll go. Maybe. We’ll see.

Now I’m really hungry, and that laundry isn’t washing itself.

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