Meeting The Neighbors

I met some new neighbors and the couple visiting them and witnessed something akin to spousal abuse. Woo.

The neighbors across the street are high-functioning alcoholics. They maintain good jobs, they are responsible, they are kind, and they do not have any physical ailments related to the daily boozing. That said, they drink. A lot. In this regard they do not differ much from the majority of people I hung out with when I was in Atlanta. I’m acclimated to high-functioning drinkers, and to those that are not quite as adept at maintaining a boozahol / everything else in life kind of balance. After literally picking friends and acquaintances up on sidewalks, and holding hair for vomiters, and hearing tales of hangover woe, and fending off bleary advances from sticky, wobbly, wandering hands, and witnessing drunken fuckwittery and alcoholic shoutiness (“I hate everyone and everyone hates me, blarrrrrr!”), and saving furniture from un-extinguished smoking materials in passed-out paws, and much more, I’m at peace with my drinkin’ neighbors.

The new neighbors are also drinkin’ neighbors. At least the two women I met are drinkin’ fools. One lives next door, the other was visiting with her husband. I was hanging out with the across-the-way neighbors and the gals came to visit and stayed. Their husbands decided to take a dim view of this, as they were apparently unable to entertain themselves and unwilling to join the impromptu party. Fuckwittery ensued.

The men wandered over with a hyperactive terrier and attempted to lure the ladies back to their house. They were unwilling to leave. The men retreated, and, I am guessing, became obsessed with the idea that their women were not snapping to it and getting their heinies home immediately. They flicked the porch light on and off, stood on their porch and shouted across the street for the women to come back inside, and so on. The ladies declined to do so.

The visiting wife proceeded to vent a lot of personal angst. Her husband is a youth minister, and he doesn’t approve of her having a cigarette, and he doesn’t approve of her having a beer, and so on and so forth. Screw that, we said. Screw that, she concurred.

The next door neighbor lady eventually gave up when her husband embarrassed her by coming back over and demanding that she go to bed right away. The visiting wife held out and continued to chat and vent and smoke and drink and, all in all, enjoy herself. Note that it was only about 10PM and it was a Friday night and she was at least 25 years old.

At about 10:15, the door across the street slammed open, slammed shut, and the visiting minister husband stomped his way over and shouted at her to get her ass inside right that second. And she fucking DID. She went. We thought he was going to hit her.

As much as the across-the-way neighbor lady and I dislike discussing other people (our own issues are much more interesting, I guess), we were unable to hold back, and proceeded to huff back and forth to ourselves about this shittiness. We could actually hear yelling from inside the house across the street until well after midnight. Note that the visiting husband said something about how it was discourteous for them to keep their host and hostess up late–this was supposedly the reason he was so irate and demanding her obedience. Does not compute.

We were further charmed when the visiting husband stomped BACK over to claim his wife’s shoes, which she had not been wearing, and which were not with us. We were concerned that we were going to be physically assaulted, frankly.

Meanwhile, I haven’t been drinking at all, and I’m not finding any of this crap cute or funny, and have been responding with exaggerated politeness and calmness to everything the angry man says. Nice angry doggy! (Where’s my stick?) The goal was to give him a subtle hint, by way of contrast between his rude belligerence and our calm reasonableness, that there was no need to be a raging arsehole. This did not work, but he did go away.

It’s been two weeks now and the nice next door neighbor lady has not been seen (at least by me) since. I guess she’s been embarassed or scared away from making friends in the neighborhood or something.

Would you call this spousal abuse? Was it some kind of fundie Man Rules The Roost mindset? Was it an insecure 20-something young husband who can’t admit that he doesn’t like going to bed alone any more? Were the men also drunk, and thus far more idiotic than was necessary or normal for them? I don’t know. But it was unpleasant.

I had a male roommate in North Carolina who tried that “I’m the man, you’ll do as I say!” stuff on me exactly once. I’m not a ball-breaking feminist (I doubt these mythical beings actually exist, actually), but I’m an adult, for fuck’s sake, and I’ll be damned if anyone, regardless of gender, tells me what I am or am not going to do if they are not in a position of authority such as judge, police officer, professor, or what-have-you. And even then, they need to follow the rules that go along with their position of authority. Know what I mean? This roommate and I were not even dating, not that this would have excused it. We shared RENT. At the time, I was carrying HIS ass from month to month, and being understanding about it. Shit happens. Everyone is going to have a time in their life when they may need an understanding roommate. This, however, was not acceptable.

I also got the message, loud and clear, especially as he raised his voice about his demands on me, that an abusive association was likely to result. I put a lock on my door, stayed out of the house as often as possible, saved my pennies, and bailed. It’s a much longer and messier story than that, but that’s the gist of it. He did contact me via a letter scrawled on the back of some receipts and restaurant guest checks and sent to my mother’s address a few months later, begging pardon for his assiness, and blaming it on any number of things (without taking full responsibility or claiming it wouldn’t happen again, notably), but I declined to respond. Duh.

Incidentally, I live in an older neighborhood and most of the residents are retirement-age or older but new families with kids are starting to move in. Elderly people in large cars and unattended children are a bad combination. There is no speed limit posted, but the neighborhood association has made it clear that 25mph is reasonable for the ‘hood.

We had an Aggravating Bro Family in the neighborhood until recently. (I say Bro and not Redneck because they were apparently slightly more white collar and had more teeth than the average Redneckus Americanus and their vehicles appeared to be mostly Bondo-free, plus none of the children were roaming about clad in JUST a diaper (that I saw)…but it’s often hard to tell the breeds apart.) They owned FIVE large vehicles and about as many children. The FIVE large vehicles could not fit in their yard, and their lot was located at a curve in the road. What do they do? Park two or three of the large vehicles (SUVs, vans, lifted trucks) in the road right at the curve, meaning that they render a two lane road impassable in one direction, so you risk head-on collision going past their house. Then they let their kids ride bikes and run about in the roadway. So far, so bad, right? Well, before they finally moved, to the entire neighborhood’s delight, their favorite hobby was standing in their front yard drinking beer, not supervising the children, and shooting the bird and yelling at passing motorists for going the posted speed limit, complete with obscene commands to “slow the fuck down!” and so on. Even more delightful, occasional missiles like pine cones or sticks were hurled at passing cars to underscore their comments. Yet more fun, the four- and five-year-old children learned to yell at the motorists rather than to stay out of the damn street.

Nothing is more adorable than a snot-faced sprog trying to master the muscle coordination required to shoot you a bird and offering unsolicited commentary on your driving skills when they are in the fucking road at ten at night and their damn parents have parked two or three enormous vehicular behemoths in the fucking roadway. They’d often do this while the parents were RIGHT THERE egging them on (to be obnoxious, not to get their arses out of the road).

They let their dogs run wild and out into the street as well. It is truly a miracle that no children or dogs were pancaked during their all-too-lengthy stay in the neighborhood.

Good riddance. I finally verified (my across-the-street lush-y neighbors know ALL) that the peace and quiet I’d noticed were not my imagination, the Bro Family was gone. Huzzah! There was much rejoicing.

There were other, less earth-shaking events. I became That Neighbor, and I felt bad about it. The yard was neglected (due to wet and miserably hot weather, a freakishly busy schedule, and lack of obsessiveness about lawns in general) until the grass went to seed, which is what those nearly uncuttable tall things with black Vs on top are. Aggressive grass trying to spread grass babies all over the place. There could be a long and boring saga here about the elderly yardman and the apparently Alzheimer’s-afflicted elderly crone neighbors we share him with (or did) and some possible amusing surreal conversations with the dotty neighbors about the yardman’s well-being (or lack thereof–he’s nearly 85) and so on, but you’re better off missing out on that.

So. Yard grew too much, Mom whinged about it and guilted and blackmailed me until I had to get over my admittedly stupid lawnmower phobia (last THREE times I used a mower, I managed to get injured somehow, so I developed a “thing” about mowers as a result…I have nice scars from where projectiles were lobbed at me at high speed by evil mowers and, ten years later, these scars still decorate my lower legs). Spent a miserable five hours attempting to get new evil mower to function and mowing around chuckholes and fire ant nests and sharp, pointy sticks and the electric cord powering the mower and snakes and some flora (one type of which I am apparently extremely allergic to), after which I managed to mow 3/5ths of the yard before saying “never more!” and giving it all up as a bad job. I now have to find someone willing to mow the damned grass. I don’t have the skills.

Eventually I will live in a condo specifically so someone else has to worry about the frickin’ grass cutting and the neighbors whipping out their mental yardsticks and checking the height of the grass fronds to make sure they are robotically precise and even with everyone else’s. I like tall grass. It doesn’t bother me until it becomes possible to lose a shoe or pet or small child in the yard. That’s too tall. Golf course grass is not a high priority in my life. I doubt I’d be sexually attracted to anyone neurotic about mowing, so I can’t count on having a husband or live-in partner who digs yardwork in the future. See? I’m doomed to condo ownership…a condo with yard service.

Irritatingly, I do love gardens. It’s the upkeep that kills me. I’m just not an outdoorsy person. I like to parcel out my outdoors time as a result, which means I want to go sit in a garden and enjoy it, not grub about with a hoe. I want to go for a walk up a mountain, but I can do nicely without going potty under a shrub. I enjoy the genteel allure of a porch swing or a gazebo, but I am less fond of bugs and weeds.

This is akin to the reason why I appreciate vaulted ceilings in theory, but not so much in practice. Who is going to dust the damned things? Or change the bulbs in the fixtures?

I’m just going to have to earn enough money one day to hire a gardener and a housekeeper to come in weekly and bail me out of my unhouseproud messes, or learn to love basic maintenance chores.

To be fair, when I have the tools at hand, I am very good at keeping up with things. A functional washer and dryer and ample closet space = I have a perfectly maintained wardrobe at all times. A working dishwasher = dinner dishes get done right away, not the next morning. If you want to cook, a working stove and oven are required. I’m just saying. If I have sufficient shelf space, no book gets stacked in a teetering pile. I need to pare down my material goods further than I already have, true, but it’s amazing how much easier it is to be houseproud when you have the right tools. My first three apartments were immaculate at all times with anal-retentive vacuum tracks in the carpeting. Then again, my responsibilities were fewer, I had more free time, and I had the necessary tools to make cleaning up on a par with Adrian Monk a feasibility.

A Guy Named Ethan Has Your Love Life Figured Out.

I was scavenging around some old writing documents and I have no idea who Ethan is. I assume he wrote a book that sounded interesting. He seems to focus on an “urban tribes” concept (one day when I am less lazy, I will use that as a keyword to track down who he is) and I’m not sure I’m buying all the strict gender-roled assertions, but maybe you, too, might find his observations worth reading.

Ethan’s Top Five Things to Tell Your Parents When You Are Still Single at Age 30 (or 35, or 40):

1. “Mom/Dad, among people my age, my life is not abnormal. (At least, not for that reason.) My generation has delayed marriage longer than any generation in American history. The cities are filled with people my age who are still single. The vast majority of us will marry; we’ll just do it later.”

2. “Not being married does not mean that I’m a ‘slacker.’ A slacker is usually defined as ‘someone who shirks work or responsibility.’ Remember how hard I work at my job/school/local SPCA office? My life is full of activity and meaning. There is no reason for pity or scorn.”

3. “Despite your stunningly deep bench of candidates, I honestly don’t need your help. I’m sure the son/daughter of Aunt Molly’s dentist is polite and well-groomed with a high-paying job, but leave the matchmaking to me. Believe me when I say that I have plenty of people giving me advice about my love life.”

4. “My marriage delay doesn’t mean you won’t ever be grandparents. While much has been made of the drop in fertility rates among women over 30, the numbers aren’t all that bad. Two out of three women ages 35 to 40 can get pregnant within a year. Those who try for two years raise their odds to 91 percent. ”

5. “Don’t take this the wrong way, Mom and Dad, but what about all the divorces in your generation? People my age are not indifferent to marriage–and we’re certainly not indifferent about love–but we have learned to be deeply cautious, in part because of divorce in our own families or those that happened next door. Statistics have shown that marriages started after age 25 work out better in the long run. In fact, because of our marriage delay, the divorce rate is now going down.”

Ethan’s Top Five Reasons Why Being in an Urban Tribe Is Bad for Your Love Life:

1. Some tribes are not so good at making the friends-of-friends connections that are our best hope for finding love in the city. If the boundary of the tribe becomes too rigid, your social life can stagnate. One warning sign is when there are too many events to which only the group is invited. Tribes are best when they are part of a network that connects you to new people.

2. “Cock blockers” (i.e. a male who, through futile sexual importunings of every woman in sight, ruins the romantic chances of coyer males.) If they are in your group, these men can create a kind of force field that repels available women. Cock blockers are almost never successful and, like leprosy, often scare new women from coming to group functions.

3. “Queen bees” can be problematic for men and women in the group. A queen bee, usually an attractive and charming woman in the tribe, demands that all flirtatious energy be directed toward her. If a male in the tribe brings a new love interest around, the queen bee can be counted on to find that woman lacking. No woman, a queen bee will attest, is good enough to date the men in her tribe. She’s sweetly protective but her motivations are greedy. For the women in the group, the queen bee is the equivalent of the male cock blocker.

4. Friends in our urban tribes often resist “losing” us to new relationships. They fear that if we have long-term romantic partners, we will no longer be available to them. This is an understandable fear because this is exactly what often happens. You can try to get your friends to accept your new romantic partner into the tribe, but:

5. Trying to integrate a new love into the group can be an exercise in frustration. Queen bees and cock blockers can get in the way. Also, there can also be ambient jealousy between the group and the new partner. This can cause simultaneous tension in your friendships and your love life.

Ethan’s Top Five Stupidest Things He Had To Read While Researching His Book:

1. “Try to navigate the shoals of modern romance, and you’ll only Titanic yourself with too much thinking.” –Nate Penn, The Code

2. Absent “the sudden desire on the part of Western women to begin having the same-sized families as their grandmothers, the future belongs to the Third World. Only the mass reconversion of Western women to an idea that they seem to have given up–that the good life lies in bearing and raising children and sending them out into the world to continue the family and nation–can prevent the Death of the West.” –Patrick Buchanan, The Death of the West

3. “Getting married is a little like inheriting the family business. Now it’s up to you to figure out what to sell, how to sell it, and how much to charge.” –Foundations: The Newsletter for Newly Married Couples

4. “Bonding social capital constitutes a kind of sociological superglue, whereas bridging social capital provides a sociological WD-40.” –Robert Putnam, Bowling Alone

5. “It is woman’s refusal of sexual importunings, coupled with hints or promises of later gratification, that is generally a necessary condition of transforming a man’s lust into love . . . . Why would a man court a woman for marriage when she may be sexually enjoyed and regularly, without it?” –Leon Kass, The End of Courtship

Ethan’s Top Five Ways to Build and Maintain an Urban Tribe:

1. Create a weekly ritual. Seeing each other consistently is the way personal communities form. Some tribes meet to watch “The Sopranos,” some meet as a book group. For several years my group met every Tuesday night at the same restaurant. It’s the simple act of repeatedly getting together as a group that forms the bonds which keep everyone close.

2. Create yearly rituals. Although you might think of this as simply an extension of #1, yearly rituals have a distinctly different purpose than weekly or monthly happenings. Yearly rituals such as throwing a big New Year’s Eve party or taking a group trip require planning and coordination. These are times when the tribe can test itself and its members. Will everyone be able to work well together? Will every member share the burden or will some slough off? By challenging itself with grand yearly rituals, the group tests its value and meaning.

3. Don’t be possessive of the group by trying to define or control who is in the group and who is not. Although your tribe might have a core membership, healthy tribes have fluid borders. In this way your tribe can give you both emotional shelter while at the same time connecting you to the outside world. By making distinct in/out judgments, you limit the tribe’s key function of connecting you to a larger network.

4. Set up e-groups. There are many free and friendly ways to facilitate communication within your group. These allow you to easily add and delete people from email lists. My tribe has several lists: One for those who play on the softball team, one for those who want to know where Larry’s next gig will be, one for planning the next houseboat trip, et cetera. Being able to quickly spread information and ideas within the group is one of the distinct aspects of these modern groupings.

5. Create a culture that celebrates the achievements of individuals. Competition and jealousy are tribe killers.

Ethan’s Top Five Guidelines to Dating within Your Urban Tribe:

1. If you’re new to the group, avoid dating anyone, at least for a while. If those in the group suspect you are only there to poach partners, you’ll likely get a cool reception.

2. Make sure you’re serious. Bad feelings that follow a brief romance can put deep stress on a group of friends. Finding true love is worth the risk of dating a friend, but getting laid is not. If you are looking for short-term romance, do everyone a favor and find it somewhere else.

3. Let the group in on the secret sooner rather than later. Someone is going to find out and it might as well be you who spreads the news.

4. Make time for individual friendships. Disappearing into a romantic relationship can be particularly hurtful if the couple was formed within the group.

5. Don’t let any friend tell you that dating within the group is “against the rules.” Finding love is a risky and messy business. While friends may be sad that inter-group romances make relationships more complicated, forging a friendship into a long-term romance is worth the risk.

Ethan’s Top Five Frustrations Women Express about Men They’ve Begun to Date:

1. Men think that the early stage of a relationship (the point at which routine sex can be gotten with the lowest possible commitment of time, resources, and personal energy) is a fine place for the relationship to remain indefinitely.

2. A man tends to overestimate his importance to a woman at the moment when she asks him “to talk about where the relationship is going.” Men often assume that the woman has fallen in love with him when in fact she might only want some information.

3. Men overrate the value of their affection–regardless of its quality or consistency. That is, men always assume that a fraction of their attention is better than none at all.

4. Men’s tendency toward out-sized conceit (see #2 and #3) combined with the inability to articulate their intentions reveals them to be the most reprehensible of cowards. Shouldn’t that grand self-conception carry with it some responsibility for treating the relationship with candor, clarity, and honor?

5. Men often ride along in relationships with one hand on the door handle. This fearfulness of momentum leads them to perform all manner of foolishness, including dangerous stuntman-like dives out of high-speed romances as well as more comical leaps out of relationships that have yet to leave the driveway.

Ethan’s Top Five Stupidest Lines from The Rules:

1. “Trying on clothes by yourself in a dressing room can be overwhelming and confusing. . .”

2. “. . . Hike up your skirt to entice the opposite sex!”

3. “. . . Stay emotionally cool no matter how hot the sex gets . . . [in the morning ] go quietly about your business–brush your teeth, do some sit-ups and stretches, brew coffee. . .be casual and unmoved.”

4. “There we were–a secret underground, sharing the magic, passing it on, doing what historically women have done for each other since the world began–networking for success.”

5. “Don’t be surprised if the man you’re dating gets very angry when you kiss him good night in the lobby at the end of the second date rather than invite him up . . ..Don’t worry. Anger indicates interest.”

Ethan’s Top Five Things Urban Tribes Should Avoid:

1. It’s best not to sleep with every single one of your close friends. Leaving at least one or two “platonic” friendships insures that you have someone to commiserate with about how nobody trusts you.

2. Tribes from the dawn of man have used facial tattoos to signify membership in the group. It works great, but remember that facial tattoos last a long time and may impact your chances of mating outside the tribe. Before you permanently engrave the name of your softball team on your forehead, try it for a few weeks with a magic marker.

3. Sure it was fun to practice robbing a bank, but is that a good enough reason to go through with it? Living on the run with your group might seem like a lark but after a couple of weeks nerves are likely to fray. Remember how every one was sick of each other after that camping trip? Times that by ten.

4. You should try not to cut the outside world off completely. Living on a guarded compound is a lot of fun until you want to go to town and see the Matrix again. Remember: Swearing eternal devotion to a single charismatic member of your group usually means that he’s the only one who gets laid.

5. As much as tribes enjoy monthly and yearly rituals, you should strive to avoid those involving the sacrifice of humans. I know this sort of activity may sometime seem like a “good idea,” especially after those long weekends of amphetamine and cocaine use. Here’s a trick: If the idea of blood sacrifice comes up in your group, volunteer to head the committee to “explore the idea.” Later, keep the committee distracted with other action items.

Republicans Think Unemployed Women Need Ladylike Manners and Charm School Lessons

New York State Senator Marty Golden wants unemployed women to take “Posture, Deportment and the Feminine Presence” classes. Yes, he is a Republican. This is what he is promoting, rather than “equal pay for equal work” or job-creating legislation. I am guessing that this is because he is a big misogynistic idiot, but maybe I am just not in touch enough with my Feminine Presence to understand his manly wisdom and brilliance.


 So. Is this the new Republican “thing”? Thinking that ladies need to know how to walk around with books on their heads more than they need equal pay for equal work, the right as adults to make their own healthcare and reproductive choices, or not to be deemed a “pre-existing medical condition” because they have vaginas?

As a PROTIP, Republicans, I WAS brought up with “deportment classes” because I was supposed to be a debutante. I never mastered the “book on head” thing, but I know how to properly comport myself at a formal dinner and which arcane bit of silverware to use when, how to introduce two dignitaries to each other properly, how to cross my ankles and get into and out of cars in a lady-like fashion, ballroom dancing, all those old fashioned rules about what not to wear when, how to curtsey, when to remove your white gloves and when not to, and all those so-called “lady skills”. I own several etiquette books and I read them all. Guess what? THIS STUFF DOES NOT GET YOU A JOB, and, in fact, will often make your bosses and co-workers uncomfortable if you behave like an old-fashioned, mannerly, etiquette-knowledgeable lady these days.

Look, guys, “Lady Skills”–much like insisting upon speaking correctly and using proper spelling and grammar–often make your bosses and co-workers feel uncomfortable. It is sad but true. Consider these skills to be nice “cherry on top” life skills, but don’t pretend that people are going to understand or appreciate your new “Proper Lady Graces”, because they are going to think you are fucking weird. Trust me on this. I have gotten more shit from my peers for behaving properly and with respect towards others and following etiquette and deportment rules than I have doing anything else in life. THEY DO NOT GET IT. THEY THINK YOU ARE A NUTBAR. THEY DO NOT APPRECIATE IT. Sometimes it even makes them feel bad about themselves. How does this help you get a job, really? Do you think balancing a textbook on your head is a life skill someone is willing to pay for? It isn’t.

About the debutante thing: I told the Cotillion / “debutante mill” people to go fuck themselves and refused to make my debut because they did not allow non-white or non-Christian debutantes. If my friends weren’t allowed the same privileges and Society didn’t deem them presentable or want to meet them, then I had no time to waste on being presented to that Society. It was and is not a Society I want to be a part of. Fuck them.

Look. It is an accident of birth that I qualify to belong to Colonial Dames or Daughters of the American Revolution, and I don’t meant to disparage those groups at all. Truly, I am not. I’m just saying that it doesn’t make me “better” than anyone that my ancestors got here earlier than someone else’s, or that they did so as wealthy landowners or businesspeople and not as someone’s “property.” It is an accident of birth that my ancestors made a mark on history (for instance, my nieces are going to grow up knowing they are related to Meriwether Lewis and John and Abigail Adams and people that several counties in Arkansas and Georgia were named after, just as a small sampling, and maybe it will inspire them to be excited by history, as a bonus), and I am proud of them too, but I can’t take credit for their accomplishments, if you know what I mean.

I do not consider it my greatest accomplishment in life to have the accidental fortune to be born white and upper-middle class. I can take no credit for those things.

Anyway, fuck these people and their Feminine Presence classes bullshit. I’m living proof that it is just a distraction and something that will NOT help you get employed, especially if there are NO JOBS. It won’t help women get fair pay. It won’t do anything but annoy and insult a bunch of unemployed women and teach them skills of dubious value in this day and age who would be better served using that time applying to more jobs instead.

Thus endeth my rant.


The Fake Will Smith Account Needs to SFTU with the Stupid Platitudes

I’ve shared this before, and it annoys me each time I see it. On the surface, this sounds like a good idea: Don’t spend a lot of time thinking or feeling negatively about unworthy people. Okay, cool, I can try that out.


Fake Fresh Prince is Fake.


Once you start thinking about what that quote is actually saying, though, it becomes more problematic.

1. Will Smith and his wife have been dabbling in Scientology, going so far as to be involved in a Scientology tech-based school. Scientology is ALL ABOUT doing nothing without getting something in return (that is “out-exchange”, so charity and being a Good Samaritan is not part of their creed) and, further, Scientology is all about controlling customers’ minds through Training Routines which teach its customers how to obey orders and give orders without questioning them, and Auditing which encourages its customers to reveal deeply personal (blackmail) material and then unburden themselves to an auditor who functions as a psychology-averse pseudo-therapist, Knowledge Reports (grass forms / tattletale sheets), diktats from Source (4th-rate sci-fi author and cult leader, L. Ron Hubbard) on every conceivable area of one’s life that must be adhered to without deviation or question, bans on non-Scientology media, websites, books and unapproved entertainments (they used to go as far as to install “Net Nannies” on customers’ computers which would block access to “entheta” (negative data) websites), thought-stopping use of a special language rife with acronyms and what used to be perfectly good words in English (like “ethics”) which are twisted into unrecognizable Hubbardese, and mistrust of any competing technological advances or information (psychology is supposedly evil, medications are supposedly unnecessary because all you need is touch assisting or auditing or medically unsound concoctions like CalMag (a special Hubbard brew) or barley water instead of baby formula and any number of similar idiocies).

So, the idea of (real) Will Smith–who has AT THE VERY LEAST, chosen not to investigate Scientology before supporting a Scientology tech-based school–speaking about people wanting to “control your mind” is laughably disingenuous.

Clearly, Fake Will Smith shouldn’t pick quotes like this one. Bad form, Fake Will Smith.

2. You will also notice that Fake Will Smith’s advice depends on you carefully keeping some kind of scoresheet in your head, and making sure that “people who do so little for you” receive no thoughtful contemplation or emotional feeling from you unless they pass the “what have you done for me lately?” test.

This kind of attitude about relationships is infantile and self-centered, and the opposite of being genuinely kind and charitable towards everyone without regard for whether they “do” anything for you first.

This is not to say that people who are abusive or selfish deserve to be forgiven endlessly. Far from it. It is not a bad thing to examine a problematic relationship and determine whether it is healthy for you to remain in it. It is OK to say “no” to people. If you are dealing with an abusive, manipulative or passive aggressive person in a relationship, then thinking about the one-sided-ness and negative emotional impact of that relationship is healthy and a good idea.

If you are, however, keeping some kind of tabs on whether every person you are in some kind of relationship with, in your opinion, has done enough for you to “deserve” basic kindness or thoughtful consideration, then you are an asshole. Healthy relationships do not require scorekeeping.

Just my humble opinion.


How To Be an Awesome Person on Social Networks

After spending a little time scouring “I’m Not A Racist But” and “I’m Not A Sexist But“, I came to the conclusion that I have excellent online friends. I wrote them a little love note to explain why.

Stuff My Online Friends Do Not Do:

  1. Whine about Black History Month and wonder when White History Month is (that would be ALL the months, dicks)
  2. Whine about International Women’s Day and wonder when International Men’s Day is (that would be ALL the days, dicks)
  3. Whine about Women’s Studies courses in universities while wondering why there are no Men’s Studies courses (those are called History courses, dicks)
  4. Tell “sandwich” and “kitchen” jokes about women
  5. Tell sexist jokes in general (and yes, that would include “dumb guy” jokes)
  6. Tell jokes making fun of people from particular countries (i.e. Polish jokes) or religions (i.e., Jewish jokes) or races (i.e., jokes about Asian people)
  7. Fail to notice sexism in advertising (i.e., more than one FB friend has griped that while Axe commercials are bad and sexist towards both women and men, commercials that depict dads who can’t handle diapers or make healthy adult dietary choices or which show men making foolish financial choices while being scolded by women are also bad, and adverts using women as nothing more than props or sex objects are gross as well)
  8. Complain about a bad driver while making sure to specify that the driver is (pick one): black, Asian, or female.
  9. Complain about women in traditionally male-dominated fields; in fact, many of you ARE women in male-dominated fields
  10. Blame someone’s stupid behavior on their sex or race. Sometimes people are just not smart.
  11. Get grossed out by non-traditional partnerships or parents or people who express their sex or gender in non-traditional ways or people who define their sex or gender in non-traditional ways or people who choose not to define their sex or gender at all
  12. Try to explain your distaste for something by explaining it is due to someone’s race or sex / gender (e.g., “all women’s sports suck, because…women!” or “all rap music sucks, because…black people!” or, when pointing out a particular male acting badly, saying “all men suck!”)
  13. Get bent out of shape when someone expresses a lack of interest in having children. Instead, you guys are accepting of other people’s choices to have or not have children.
  14. Comment that “all” people of a certain religion are in some way the same.
  15. Comment that “all” people who are not religious are in some way the same.
  16. Show a lack of compassion for people with mental illness or disabilities.
  17. Show disdain for people in a lower social class than yourself. If anyone pokes fun of anyone in a particular social class, you can bet that they poke fun of people in other social classes as well (I’m thinking of certain folks who enjoy “People of Wal*Mart” videos as much as they enjoy “Bizarre Rich WASP people” news stories). It is not specifically their social class that is being mocked or shamed.
  18. Express a belief that being able to afford certain material goods makes someone better than someone else.
  19. Make comments about how “all” people of a certain race or sex / gender / orientation are the same, in a negative way. On “I’m Not A Racist But” and “I’m Not A Sexist But” you will find comments about how all X people “smell bad,” “talk too loudly,” “steal stuff,” “are criminals,” “are stupid,” “can’t drive,” “don’t belong in academia,” “are lazy,” “dress badly,” “can’t play sports,” “can’t operate electronic technology,” “have bad taste,” “eat gross things,” and so on. I would quickly get annoyed if my FB friends were making stupid comments like those.
  20. Use sexist insults towards female politicians you disagree with. In fact, whether you have agreed with a particular female politician or not, I have noted that you are typically quick to be outraged on their behalf when they are disparaged with sexist insults.
  21. Express xenophobia or a lack of curiosity and interest in other countries and cultures.
  22. Try to excuse attachment to a symbol (like the Confederate flag) that upsets and offends others.
  23. Use the nonsense phrases “reverse racism” or “reverse sexism.”
  24.  Get butthurt when you realize you have been harboring a racist or sexist or cisgendered assumption and it is challenged; rather, this tends to lead to reflection and discussion and a vow to address and work on it
  25. Pass around images that show the female body as an object or decoration (often headless / dehumanized). At least this doesn’t happen often, I should say.
  26. Assume, when a story about a crime is circulated, that the culprit, if race is not specified, is non-white.
  27. Ignore institutional and societal biases that unfairly target the less privileged folks out there
  28. Slut shame
  29. Casually use language that is traditionally racist, sexist or otherwise generally offensive (i.e., someone “gyped” you, “nude” used to denote a shade of Caucasian skin only, “whore,” etc.)
  30. Act like raging arseholes when you disagree with each other on my Wall threads

I could go on, but reading through “I’m Not A Racist But” and “I’m Not A Sexist But” really brought it home how fortunate I am to have connected online with some truly exceptional human beings. In short, you may not like what someone has done or said, but you restrict your criticism to that specific individual. You may not like someone’s political or religious beliefs, but you do not make the mistake of damning an entire religion or political party thanks to stupid people or stupid groups of people.

We could still do a little better about not lumping all cops and all military personnel (etc) into the same category when a single LEO or service member does something awful, but, on the whole, we do pretty darn well. We’re also pretty good about not using sexually shaming epithets, too. We’re still learning a language that includes people of all genders and sexual orientations (or lack thereof) but are not deliberately ignoring or dismissing others.

It’s just a shame that it is such a rare thing that I had to notice a general LACK of assholery–because it is so uncommon and unusual–at all. It’s true, however, that I become acutely aware of this when I branch out and, for example, read the comments sections under YouTube videos or news articles. What’s “normal” for my Wall or news feed is not “normal” for the Internet as a whole.

So, we’re not perfect, but we’re trying, and we’re avoiding most of the really obviously offensive behaviors while not becoming so “offensensitive” that we can’t discuss anything at all. I’m glad about that.