Shitty Pizza, The Past, The Future…

…and The Now

Last night, John Oliver did a bit on charter schools, primarily the regulation or the lack thereof.  Believe it or not, Opinionated Public School Teacher’s Step-Daughter has no clearly defined opinion on charter schools.  I have seen models which are disasters.  I have seen models which are successes.  My son is currently number 78 on the waiting list at a charter school in our area.  We find that mildly hilarious because number 78 should really be “OHAHAHAHAHA!  Why bother?”

After flirting with and subsequently becoming involved in a two year relationship with private schooling, I have arrived at the conclusion that there is one significant component missing from private school – baseline (quantifiable and measurable) standards for performance.  This conclusion helped me realize that private schooling may not be the best approach for our family.  It’s simply too loosey-goosey and subjective for my comfort level as a parent and that is before we address the annoying political bullshit of dealing with the private school mentality.  I am a busy human who doesn’t have time for that nonsense and even if I did, I find that sort of thing too tedious to entertain.

In Oliver’s closing, he summed up charter schools by addressing the business aspect of the “scheme” (or scam, depending on one’s perspective).  While tangentially related to private schooling, based on the tax status of the school, that isn’t as relevant to this essay as his last statement which I have highlighted for emphasis.

If we are going to treat charter schools like pizza shops we should monitor them at least as well as we do pizzerias.  It’s like the old saying ‘Give a kid a shitty pizza, you fuck up their day.  Treat a kid like a shitty pizza and you can fuck up their entire life.’

The reason why this statement is so impactful is because it isn’t limited to any particular form of schooling.  This can be applied to charter schooling, private schooling, home skooling and public schooling.  This statement is the most succinct summary of my son’s first year in JuniorMAPP (otherwise known as a combined first and second grade classroom) at his old private school.  It defines our current reality and every single obstacle we as parents have to help him manage, that he as a student must overcome and that his teacher has to work with by luck of the draw.

Last year, my son was treated like a shitty pizza.  The toppings were one teacher (nicknamed “Lizard” by my son) and one autocratic, considerably neurotic control freak of a school administrator who goes by various names depending on the source.  The side-effects of said treatment have been generalized anxiety, erosion of self-esteem, stomach ailments, occasional vomiting and nightmares for the child.  For the parents, a leave of absence from work was required to manage the exhaustion as I could not keep up with the demands from work, an ailing parent and the train wreck that was happening to my child at school on a daily basis.

The shitstorm began approximately five weeks into the new school year for the Milkface with minor, aggravating issues.  Initially, I thought he was just being petulant and having issues adjusting to a new teacher given that his previous teacher was so stellar, anyone who had the misfortune of following her would be bound to fail in some way, shape or form.  I was quick to coach and possibly quick to dismiss some of his concerns.

It took Milkface’s bursting into tears and refusal to leave the car during morning drop-off to make me understand something was critically wrong.  Milkface had been in daycare and/or a preschool environment since 12 weeks old.  The only other instance when he refused to get out of the car was while he was being bullied at the YMCA camp.  It was at this moment I realized there was a serious problem and requested a conference with his teacher.  His teacher, following protocol, extended an invitation to the school’s director.

In spite of what we (Dock and I) thought was a productive conference identifying gaps and weaknesses, along with developing a plan to keep Milkface focused, busy and engaged, nothing improved.  Milkface remained disconnected and physically ill.  His teacher continued to verbally intimidate the students, yell and refused to engage six and seven year-olds in a manner which six and seven year-olds should be engaged.  Milkface was legitimately terrified of school for the first time ever.

Over the course of the school year, what seemed like millions of emails were exchanged, heated conversations were had, unpleasant conferences were attended and accusations were lobbed by all parties.  Dock and I had enrolled Milkface in the program with the intent that he would stay there for his entire K-12 education.  Milkface approached me and asked if he could explore other schools to attend for the following year (hence the charter school reference).  I approached the director and asked if it would be possible to skip his second year in JuniorMAPP (as he had started first grade at the second grade academic level) and promote him directly to SeniorMAPP (and a different teacher) to avoid the horrible Lizard.  We made it clear there would be no re-enrollment until we had a guarantee that Milkface would not be looping with his current teacher.  Then, we started the search for another school.

Around the beginning of April, after another trip to the doctor for vomiting and stomach upset, Milkface decided he couldn’t take any more of his current school.  He stoutly refused to return to the school in the fall.  He did not care about leaving behind his friends and other teachers he adored.  He did not care about ending up ridiculously out of contention in the charter school’s lottery.  He did not care about being the new kid in a huge, public elementary school with a year-round calendar.  Milkface wanted out and that was it.  Dock supported Milkface’s decision.  I did not.  I reluctantly completed the enrollment paperwork for the public elementary school near our home but held off as the director said she would have her answer for us on May 1st.

Then, this happened:

Sad Max

I promptly enrolled Milkface in his new school and sent an email to the director the next day informing her of our decision.

So, that’s the past.  The relatively recent past.  The close enough past that we’re still dealing with Milkface’s nightmares, his uncertainty about his academic performance (which was excellent in KinderMAPP), his low self-esteem and his anxiety about school.  Fortunately, we don’t seem to have any more issues with nausea and vomiting from nerves.  Thank goodness for that.

There are days I will vent to my friends who are still involved with the school on one level or another even though three months have passed.  I vent even though Milkface has started his new school three weeks ago and appears happy in the new environment, is making friends and managing the new kid blues really well, has a lovely teacher, the school runs like Mussolini’s trains and he’s catching on to Common Core quite well.  I mention the past because it’s not so long ago and the differences between the two institutions are so significant, his new school makes the old school look like some faith-based home-skooling network run by Trumpanzees and Duggarfangurls.  I mention the past because when you leave Princess Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns, you become a Suppressive Person; not unlike Scientology.  You made noise and challenged authority.  You pointed out the flaws.  You may have even said unkind things while your child was being treated like a shitty pizza.  Worst of all, you showed your emotions because observing any child being treated like a shitty pizza upsets you in ways people who do not know you (or don’t know you well) will never understand.

The past isn’t exactly the past.

Your friends will tell you, encourage you, to look toward the bright, brilliant future your child has ahead of him.  Focus on the positive!  Be happy you made a great decision for your child (or, in this instance, listened to your child as he made a great decision).  Think of all the negativity he is avoiding.  Enjoy the fact that he is thriving.

This is wonderful advice.  It comes from the right place.  It is said out of love and concern.

Unfortunately, it overlooks the immediate:  The Now.

Today, because my son was treated like a shitty pizza by shitty adults, I have a child who is damaged to the point where he is afraid to seek help or clarification from his teacher because the previous teacher wouldn’t allow that behavior in her classroom.  She either refused to help the children because they had to be “self-sufficient” or “independent” (she is a lazy one, that one) or she would yell.  As Milkface adjusts to Common Core, he has questions but is reluctant to ask for help.  When Dock asked him when his library books were due,  Milkface said “I suppose I could ask Henry.”  Dock coached him “Well, isn’t there anyone else you could ask?”  Milky responded “Logan is very nice.  I could ask him.”  Dock prodded a bit more “Milkface, think for a second.  When you have a problem, you ask a…grown-up.  Who is the grown-up in your classroom?”  Milkface said “Oooh!  Mrs. T!  I guess I could ask her.”  But the latter part was said with a great amount of apprehension.  Milkface remains terrified to engage his teacher unless he is engaged first.  He is entirely reactive in this situation.

It’s not limited to asking questions, either.

Last week, Milkface melted down over instructions for his Math Mountain homework.  The word “and” threw him for a loop and it took him well over 30 minutes to calm down enough to approach the worksheet again.  Math has always been his strongest and favorite subject.  By the end of last year, he was so deflated and demoralized by being told he wasn’t smart enough to learn material that he was already learning on his own, he has zero confidence in his skills or his intelligence.

I can look to the future but not right now.  Right now, Milkface needs me to help him get through The Now.  Milkface needs all of the adults to help him find his safe zone, rebuild his self-esteem and restore his confidence so when he makes a mistake, it’s not the end of the world.  In our family, mistakes have always been a learning experience.  A wrong answer is still, in a round-about way, a right answer because we learned what not to do.

The Now is so negatively impacted by the past; we do not have the luxury of time to fuck around.  We are in the process of rebuilding what was considered an ideal student because two adults didn’t do their jobs.  And this makes me angry, hurt, devastated and sad.  This makes me a ball of negative emotions I have to hide when my child is around.  This makes me feel terrible.  This makes me question my decision making:  was I right in leaving Milkface in a toxic environment for an entire school year to avoid the trauma of forcing him to be the new kid in the middle of a school year somewhere else?

While it’s natural to think that I’m overreacting because that is something a mother would do, it’s important to understand:

  • My child was in the first grade last year.  His first year of elementary education was phenomenally negative.  The foundation of his education was traumatic.  One of the most important years in a child’s education was an emotional nightmare.  This is wholly unacceptable.
  • The behavior on the part of the teacher was not an isolated instance.  Complaints were lodged by other parents in previous years.  This is a problem that should have been solved years earlier.
  • Administration’s response was, at best, marginal.  The issue clearly was not a priority if the bad behavior was permitted to perpetuate year over year.  For a person who speaks of her institution as “her life’s work,” she seemingly overlooks a crucial detail:  a parent may view their children as their life’s work.  Mutual respect goes a long fucking way in my world.

How does one let go of the past when it is present and requiring attention?  One can look forward and set all the goals they wish but that amounts to nothing more than daydreaming if you are not addressing The Now.  Willing things to happen, wishing for things to happen does not make things happen.  Working on things, fixing what is broken and healing will make the future happen with positive outcomes.  Ignoring the past, living in denial and pushing aside the past’s problems that exist in The Now is merely perpetuating bad behaviors.  Pure and simple.

(and I say this not to chide those who are encouraging me and helping me through a really difficult time)

After Milkface’s experience, I want him to have what I have always wanted him to have; what I want every child to have:  an emotionally stable, safe, secure environment in which he can grow and learn to the best of his capabilities.  An environment which fosters respect for others, a love of learning and fun.  I want him surrounded by positive behaviors exhibited by children and adults, alike.

Neither Dock nor I are perfect parents, let alone perfect people.  We’re flawed.  We fuck up.  We parent in ways people find atypical, nontraditional or entirely bizarre.  And you know what?  We give zero fucks because this works for our family.  When we make a mistake, inflict harm or screw up as it relates to Milkface, we own our foibles and apologize, just as we expect Milkface to do in turn.  We also do not expect any other person in our lives to be perfect but we do expect accountability.  We saw very little of that at Princess Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns last year which, in comparison to the year prior, contributes even further to our heartbreak and pain.

The past is not the past.  Not yet.  It’s still very much The Now for all of us.  Maybe, this time next year, we can all look back and all that we will have to talk/laugh about with regard to PCSGU is the music teacher who cannot sing, the amazing friends made and that magical first year.  Maybe, this time next year, Milkface will be whole again and his new school will be his domain – a place where he can come out of his shell, entirely, and his love for school will not be dampened by adults who let their pettiness, selfishness and personal grievances snuff out what little professionalism lies within.

Teachers and administrators remember:  Treat a child like a shitty pizza and you can fuck up their entire life.

No amount of rationalization, blame-shifting, saying the problem is with the student or his parents will change that, either.  The burden for the student-teacher relationship never falls on the student when the student is six years-old.  Additionally, if you have enough time to spare to critique parenting methodologies (yes, the erstwhile Lizard tried to blame Milkface’s performance issues on us), you have enough time to ensure your administrative tasks are complete and correct (something Lizard never seemed capable of doing).  And, portraying a well-behaved child as a discipline case only makes you look inept when the next school sees no evidence of what you tried to pass off.  It’s your own form of bad press.

For us, The Now will consist of repairing the broken child and guiding him towards a (hopefully) auspicious and happy future.  This entails working with him to ensure his self-esteem is not defined by a very unfortunate experience.  His new teacher is aware of what she inherited and is on-point.  Milkface adores her (“She doesn’t yell, Mommy!), so we’re fairly confident that he will do his best to please her.  Furthermore, we have seen his excitement for school return in the way he approaches his homework.  There is very little grumbling or pushback.

But, I also have some work of my own to do for The Now.  I need to remember while I’m healing Milkface, I need to take some time to make sure I’m healing myself because this process took quite a bit away from me, too.  Watching your child hurt is brutal.  Hurting along with your child isn’t exactly a good time.  Openly hurting and feeling as if others are not only watching you but judging you for what they do not understand is frustrating at best.  Heartbreaking is more appropriate.

Throughout this entire ordeal, I forgot to do one of the things I’m really quite good at:  giving zero fucks because people, as a rule, don’t understand what makes a person who they actually are.  They don’t know the experiences that formed you.  Shit, people don’t know what you had for lunch.  As you go through a significant trial with an audience, you suspect you’re being judged for whatever loopy behaviors you may exhibit (and maybe you’re merely being slightly narcissistic because it could be that no one gives a damn); crying, puffing steam through your nostrils and ears, kicking rocks, laughing manically, babbling to yourself in a foreign language you don’t necessarily speak well.  For a long time, until PCSGU entered our world, I didn’t give a good goddamn what people thought of me.  I have no idea what changed my attitude but I found myself less Kang and more Maxsmom.

Fuck that.

I’m 45 which should be “old enough to know better.”  I get angry when children are treated like shitty pizza and I’m done explaining myself or apologizing for it.  If you don’t want the side-eye of doom or my wrath, don’t treat kids like shitty pizza – directly or indirectly.  An adult’s series of bad days can very well become a child’s legacy and battle scars.  If you’re not remotely prepared to accept that level of responsibility and accountability, you need to get the fuck out of education and stay the fuck away from children.

Munich…

…and jumping to conclusions.

Why wait for the facts when it's easier to act like a total asshole?

Why wait for the facts when it’s easier to act like a total asshole?

Completely emotionally drained from yesterday’s bullshit, I went to bed early.  Early enough that I didn’t stay glued to the news as I usually do when stories such as these break.

This morning, I woke up and did my usual routine of coffee grab, dog duty, breakfast for the Milkface and checking Facebook for birthday reminders.  I was distracted by two things at the top of my feed:  an article from The Local – Germany and a rambling verbal tantrum about Obama’s failure to protect German citizens from Muslims who want to see the world burn.  It came as no surprise that an American would ignore basic facts and twist a story to suit a political narrative:  Obama is the problem, our foreign policy is weak, we are soft on terror, we enable terrorism by allowing immigrants entry into our country.

The tragedy in Munich is not an IS related incident.  The tragedy in Munich was committed by a man called Ali Sonboly who was born and raised in Munich.  He has no ties to IS.  Per reports, Sonboly was obsessed with mass killers and inspired by Anders Breivik.

For those who do not remember Anders Breivik, he is the far-right extremist who shot up a summer camp on Utøya in Norway in July 2011.  Breivik had written a manifesto of explaining his ideology and his desire to to deport all Muslims from Europe.  In short, he’s a racial purist. Utøya was carried out as a means to draw attention to his manifesto.

This morning, there are people who are inferring that the atrocity in Munich is related to the nightmares in Nice, Paris and Istanbul.  This line of thinking needs to stop immediately.  We must understand the difference between Utøya and Munich and Nice, Paris and Istanbul.  Utøya and Munich were perpetrated by members of the far-right who want Muslims, non-whites and immigrants out of their country.

Not unlike many people who are currently supporting Donald Trump’s “platform.”

Obama is not the problem.  Muslims are not the problem.  Hispanics are not the problem.  Immigrants are not the problem.  The problem is with people who are reluctant to embrace change, accept those who are different (from them) and perpetuate hate because they are unabashedly ignorant.  The problem is with those who live in a fear of losing control and no longer being a majority.  The problem is with those who actually believe that being white and Christian means that they are better than those who are not.

Just because something is free, it doesn’t mean it has no value.

Okay, so apparently some people think that if Bernie Sanders were elected POTUS, and he was able to make higher education in the United States free, it would make higher education essentially worthless. Their reasoning goes a little something like this:

If college were free then everyone would go to college, right? Universities would have no entrance requirements whatsoever and would accept anyone who applied. And you would certainly not have do any studying at all in order to graduate, so naturally everyone would finish college. Therefore, every single person would have a degree, even the people cleaning public toilets. Everyone would demand a living wage. The impact on the economy would be disastrous.

Do you really want to live in the kind of world where everyone makes a decent living? What about our god-given right to piss and shit all over the poor just because they’re poor? That’s what Jesus would do.

Anyway, if you are one of these people, please keep the following in mind:

The idea that everyone is going to have a degree just because college is free is ridiculous. Here in Sweden, it’s believed that you shouldn’t have to pay an extortionate amount of money or saddle yourself with a huge debt in order to obtain a college education. Therefore, tuition for higher education is free. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone goes to college. Some would rather start working right away, just like in the United States.

Furthermore, the value of a university degree here is not diminished in the slightest just because you weren’t charged any tuition. University degrees are not easy to get and universities are extremely selective, more so than in the United States. After all, they want to make sure they aren’t wasting tax-payer money on someone who isn’t completely qualified and committed. I have two degrees and excellent transcripts from a top liberal arts university in the States. I have tried twice to get into university here and they’ve rejected my application both times. And yes, you still have to study your ass off in order to earn a degree. A four-year bachelor’s degree earned at an American university is worth only three years’ worth of credits here.

It’s totally nonsensical to assume that just because something that is free it has no value.  A “free” university degree here in Sweden is actually worth a hell of a lot more than one you bought and paid for. After all your hard work, you were deemed worthy and granted the enormous privilege of being accepted to a university and earning a degree. And NO ONE takes that lightly.

I think you should…

…fuck off with the “You should…” suggestions.

Over the summer, a galpal of mine and I were sitting at a tapas bar in Durham, unencumbered by daily responsibilities of parenting and work, feasting and chattering about life in general.  This particular friendship is new and genuinely treasured because Galpal reminds me very much of Kate (Yes, I realize the gravity of that statement and I’m trying not to make that Galpal’s burden because that’s a fucking nightmare of a standard to live up to).  Also, she is wise, brave and just emerging from a serious life overhaul.  I, on the other hand, find myself feeling positively clueless, largely afraid of my own shadow and in the midst of watching everything I spent my entire adult life working for crumble around me.  2015 has been anything but kind or fair for me and a lot of my friends.  I may even go so far as to say that 2015 has been even more challenging and painful than the year following Kate’s death, which says quite a lot since I essentially shut down in 2011.  The only difference between now and then is that in 2011, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to shut down.  This year, no such luck.  This year, I had to figure out how to move forward and solve my problems while still managing all that requires management.  Had it not been for Galpal and numerous others (some new faces, some familiar faces), I highly doubt I would have been able to pull it off.  Strong and stubborn as I may be, I’m still very much the person who eyeballs that sofa longingly and fights the urge to crawl beneath it and stay hidden for weeks at a time.  If Milkface didn’t need to get to or from school and if I didn’t have to justify my existence during a re-org, my ass would have been under that sofa with a box of Kleenex and a bottle of benzos.  We all know that to be true.

As we were talking about life, in general, the significant obstacles Galpal has overcome and the hideous list of shit that I have to address, the subject of friendly advice (solicited or not) entered the conversation.  One’s friends and loved ones genuinely mean well.  If you care about someone, it’s painful to watch them struggle.  When you’re emotionally invested in someone, you want to help solve their problems.  Unless, of course, you’re an entirely selfish asshat and then you just let them flounder.  There are those in life who, as I say, like to watch the world burn.  But, the well-intended will always be there for you and that is a genuinely amazing thing.  Whether it’s holding your hand while you’re crying, bringing you bottles of booze, taking you out and giving you a much needed change in scenery, sharing their hard-earned wisdom or just making you laugh, the well-intended are treasures.  I consider myself to be beyond fortunate to have many in my life.  And, of course, because I’m an obsessive perfectionist, I usually feel guilty for not appreciating them enough or acknowledging how much they do for me, how much they mean to me and how much they enrich my life.

The conversation went on and I remember going back to something Galpal said a friend of hers mentioned.  It was a “You should…” statement.  “You should go out and do…”  And there, at the bar, I found myself annoyed.  Annoyed bordering on slightly angry.  “You should…”  What “should” any of us do?  Really.  We’re not talking about a life or death issue.  We’re not talking about managing an illness.  We’re not talking about anything critical in nature.  We’re talking about benign lifestyle choices.  We’re talking about things that could potentially make us happy, right?  But when someone says “You should…” and then follows it up with a suggestion that is more suitable to their personality and their needs, it’s not really a suggestion that is suitable for the person being spoken to.  No, it’s a statement about what makes someone else happy and the assumption is “It makes me happy.  It will make you happy, too.”  Again, a great intent and likely very sincere.  Yet, not remotely applicable.  You can’t tell someone to do something and expect a good outcome if the action doesn’t work for the individual.  I can no more tell someone to write down their feelings if they’re not interested in writing than a rando suggesting that I declutter my house, clean or cook a meal to make myself feel better as I have no interest in doing any of those things.  I also lack the time and the energy.

Giving the “You should…” statements the fair benefit of the doubt, one knows the person saying them means well.  The person genuinely cares.  The person wants to see the other person happy and fulfilled.  “You should…” when it comes to certain lifestyle choices is nothing more than an opinion.  While we value our friends’ input, opinions don’t often solutions make.  Sometimes, the opinion can actually make things worse via making the audience feel badly because if the listener doesn’t follow the “You should…” then there’s a feeling of guilt.  “You should…” brings along a lot of negative implications.

Let’s be honest here, are any of us happy when an order is barked at us?  And isn’t “You should…” an order?  Or…am I that loath to direction that I am interpreting something otherwise innocuous as a command?  Therein lies part of the problem.  Shouldn’t we always speak or write to the level of our audience and consider the interpretation of our message?  If I said “You should consider your message because I think you sound like a fucking asshole when you dole out unsolicited advice.” would you interpret my message as helpful and warm or would you say “Fuck.  I managed to piss off Kang.  Again.  Why is she always so fucking brittle?”

That night, at the tapas bar, I decided I detested the “You should…” sentiment.  A few days later, I texted Galpal and said “I’m striking that from my language.  I feel that strongly about this.  I’m no longer going to say ‘You should…’ to anyone.”  For the most part, I have been successful.  Sometimes, I’ll trot it out in a snarktatstic sense.  Sometimes, I catch myself about to say it and then have to stop, correct myself and think of a more meaningful way to frame advice.  Other times, I have finally embraced the most difficult thing of all – keeping one’s mouth shut and just listening to your friends and offering comfort.  Because, if I have learned anything from this fucktastic shitstain of a year, it’s that I know very little about life and that in spite of your hardest work/efforts, your master plans and your intentions; you’re going to be diverted from your path.  And, oddly enough, those diversions aren’t necessarily the worst thing that could happen, either.  Sure, they’re fraught with pain and fear, but they’re also opportunities to learn, grow and challenge yourself.  You never end up on the losing end if you’re gaining something.  Knowledge is something so…there you be.

So, in summary, “You should…” statements fucking suck.  They’re arrogant.  They imply that the person making the statement knows what is best for you and that isn’t always the case, especially in life’s grey areas.  And, to reference a conversation from this morning with Blitz, it’s high time we all “stop defining stuff for other people and not worry about fitting in anyone else’s fucking box.”  Sometimes, things aren’t going to make fucking sense.  Sometimes, the people you love are going to struggle and there isn’t going to be the magical potion that will make them immediately peaceful and happy.  Sometimes, you’re going to have to watch them sort it out on their own and stand by them as they do.  There will be times when we can’t solve problems for other people (unless the problem is solely financial and one of us has a fuckton of money they can part with).  Most of the time, what makes you happy isn’t going to necessarily satisfy someone else entirely or, dare I say, at all.

No more “You should…” anything.  Unless, of course, it’s “You should stop making these statements.”

Naming names…

…or not.

“I will not name the shooter.  I will not give him credit for this horrific act of cowardice.”  John Hanlin, Douglas County Sheriff

And many other peanuts.

There’s a new way to deflect any discussion about gun control after yet another mass shooting.  Rather than actually engage in thoughtful discussion about gun control and, I don’t know, do something about it for once, we’re going to offer up our prayers and tears and recognize those who have fallen, support the families of the victims and deny martyrdom to the criminal who committed the crime.  The mentally ill, white man who shot up this week’s target of choice, a community college in Oregon, shall remain nameless.  So sayeth the sheriff (who did not get shot and certainly not by me who is fundamentally against firearm ownership) and basically everyone else who wants to feel better about themselves but doesn’t want to do much more about the social cancer killing 380 people so far this year and injuring over 1,000.

Nope.  We’re not naming names.

Nope.  We’re not going to change.

Nope.  There is no problem here.

None.  At all.

Except there is.

And we should likely do something about it.

As of today, we have ticked 275 boxes off our calendars.  As of today, there have been 294 mass shootings in the United States.  Is this acceptable?  Can we really sit around and feel comfortable with our ability, as a society, to responsibly manage firearms?

Now, I know those pro-gun types are going to thump their chests and drag out the whole Second Amendment argument.  Very well.  You just won’t ever feel safe in your own homes without your well-regulated militia, will you?  Do you mind if I ask you a very serious question, then?  When is the last time your well-regulated militia assembled to discuss battle strategy?  Are your learning materials coming from Annapolis or West Point?  Who is the General?  Do you have a secret handshake or get to wear a hat like Fred Flintstone’s Loyal Order of the Water Buffalo?  Going bowling with your buddies while secretly wishing you were hanging with The Dude and Donny doesn’t count, either.  I really want to know about your well-regulated militia.  Please leave feedback in the comments below for my edification.  Thank you.

As for the individualists out there looking for an argument – you are not an island.  You are not entirely self-sufficient.  When you drive on the road you built entirely by yourself, live entirely off the grid, rely on no one, then you can moan about your individualistic rights to owning a gun.  Until then, shut your foodholes and accept the fact that you are, indeed, not the sun and Earth does not orbit around you.  You, individualist, may actually have to do something selfless for once in your life.  I know, here’s a hanky.  It’s tough out there for a pimp.  But really, I can empathize.  Shit, I can sympathize.  I used to smoke like a motherfucking chimney and when I had to start huddling under an umbrella in the rain because you didn’t like that my second hand smoke could kill you, I wasn’t upset with you, personally.  I recognized that I had a very dangerous hobby/habit that I needed to surrender.  And I did.  And I’m better for it.  You will be, too.  Trust.

To speak to the naming of the names, the next time there is a mass shooting (because there will be a next time), I think, instead of acting pious and saying “I’m not going to allow the shooter a moment’s glory or let him be a martyr.  Noooooo sirreee, Bob!”  I think we should start naming donors to the NRA.  I think we should start naming the lobbyists.  I think we should start naming the Congressfolk on the take.  If we’re not going to name the perpetrator, let’s name the accomplices, instead.  Maybe, once everyone realizes the blood is on their hands too, they will take a long, hard look in the mirror, man up, put down their inane instruments of death and finally accept the fact that their little toys are dangerously stupid and offer little value to the greater good.

Oh, Florida…

…where killing a black man is just fine but fucking on the beach – not so much.

Last July, Jose Caballero and Elissa Alvarez were arrested on Bradenton Beach for having the sinful sex on the sand.  They, being Floridians, presumably, were genetically predisposed to approach this from a very unintelligent and inelegant fashion.  They took that delightful, little diddy, “Afternoon Delight” a little too seriously and knocked da boots on the beach in the middle of the afternoon, in front of other people. Urgh. Classy.

Doubly unfortunate for the frolicking duo, a four-year old child was present.  Also present, someone with a camera.  When the mom of the four-year old asked Caballero to stop, Caballero wasn’t very receptive to the request.  He was confrontational.  Who knows? Maybe he was super-dee-dooper close to the best beach sex climax of his life?  I dunno.  I have never partaken of the old beach sex.  It strikes me as particularly uncomfortable and itchy.  Sex in an old coal furnace, on the other hand…never mind…

Caballero has priors; among those, cocaine trafficking.  So, you know this isn’t going to end well for him.  He’s not getting off (not on the beach and not in court) with a slap on the wrist.  He ended up with a jail sentence of 2.5 years.  A bit draconian, if you ask me.

His partner in crime, Elissa Alvarez, was also found guilty of lewd and lascivious (one of my favorite words) exhibition in front of a child.  Not in front of a child!  For fuck’s sake, think of the children!  The children who, likely, have no fucking idea what they’re witnessing until their parents freak the fuck out and make a giant scene that will remain permanently etched in their memories. “Hey mommy!  Remember that time we were at Bradenton Beach when I was four and we saw those two people fucking in the sand?  I do! Thanks to you and your histrionic reaction.”

This particular charge is a second degree felony and as such, both parties must register as sex offenders.  For fucking on the beach. Something that how many people have done at some point in their lives?  Man, you know the bar is low when you’re popped and nailed with a felony for a cliché.

Here’s the really sad thing – Elissa Alvarez is all of 21 years old.  She was sentenced for time served and is now out of custody.  She is not, however, out of the woods.  She is a registered sex offender and, as such, has a life of no career to look forward to.  Think of all the stupid, youthful indiscretions we engaged in around that age.  As I alluded to earlier, I got busy in an abandoned coal furnace at the tender age of 20 with a belly full of beer. Thank fuck there were no such things as cellphones with cameras or the internet.  Or kids around.  I could have been Elissa Alvarez, easily.  Sex in public places is a rite of passage.  Don’t look at me and act horrified.  Y’all probably have done it once or twice, too.

The sex offender registry is important.  We deserve to know when paedophiles are among us.  That said, when you add people like this to the registry, people who diddle on the beach – how much service is that providing to the community?  I don’t feel that this behavior is overtly dangerous.  I don’t feel that two people are going to drop trou in Agrestic and get busy in the park.  And, if they do, I think a simple “cut it the fuck out” would stop that shit in its tracks.  Even if it didn’t, I wouldn’t want to destroy someone’s life over something as minor as this.  It’s sex.  It’s not rape.  It’s not sex with a child.  It’s consenting adults having sex.  Even if the choice of geography isn’t the best option.

Should we fuck on buses, in shopping centers, public parks full of kids, playgrounds, etc…?  No.  There is a need for decorum.  That’s why I have highly recommended abandoned coal furnaces and have long been a champion of them.  Even if your clothes end up stained and mucky and your hair stinks after.  But still, is any of this worth torpedoing the life of a 21-year-old woman?

No. No, it’s not.

Alas, this happened in Florida.  Florida, the state where killing an unarmed black teen hungry for Skittles is perfectly acceptable but sex on the beach is an affront to mankind. Bugs Bunny had the right idea all along but we have known that since the 2000 election, haven’t we?

cut_off_florida

Go Fuck Yourself Weekly: Ronald Reagan and His Sheeple

Thinking.  You’re doing it wrong.  Alternatively, not at all.

Good grief.  The stupid...it is powerful.

Good grief. The stupid…it is powerful.

This shit popped up today.  Isn’t it just sooooooo funny‽  Don’t you see the fucking hilarity of it all?  If Ronald Reagan was alive, ISIS would be WASWAS!!!!   ZOMG – The sheer brilliance of it all!  King Ronnie would shepherd his flock to safety.  He would save the world!  No more pesky and nagging threats from radical religious fundamentalists with a thirst for blood and an unyielding need for decapitating human beings.  Peace on Earth shall be.  Finally.  And after that, King Ronnie would quickly rid the world of the scourge that is Welfare Queens in Escalades.  Although, he’ll only do that to those who are of color.  White, corporate welfare queens; you are safe.  Kindly resume life in your ivory towers giving zero fucks about the struggle outside the moat.  It is not yours to manage.

And this is why Rainbow Dash is 20% cooler than you.

And this is why Rainbow Dash is 20% cooler than you.

What these people who post this tripe fail to understand is that Al-Qaeda and its bastard children are the fucking product of Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy.  In the spirit of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” Ronald Reagan armed, trained and developed the militia that is now Al-Qaeda (and subsequent splinter groups cum bastard children).  This is a fucking fact.  Yet, it’s so oft overlooked, I wonder where my generation was when this was in the news?  Oh wait – outside playing until the street lights come on.  That’s right.  I forgot about the series of memes waxing idiotic about the good old days when it was acceptable to beat your kids and kids didn’t sit in front of screens all of the time.  Also, do homework.

And, furthermore, how was Reagan going to deal with ISIS?  Was he going to deploy that monument to awesome military strategy taught to all West Pointers?  You know the one I’m talking about – running away like a fucking coward when 241 Marines were slaughtered in Beirut?

These people who think Ronald Reagan was the Second Coming (more like the Second Coming of Lucifer if you happen to be religious) seemingly overlook all that was wrong with the 80s.  They forget about the bullshit that is “Trickle Down Economics.”  Fuck that.  Why should any of us have to wait for a fucking trickle?  Why didn’t anyone ask that question?  You work hard.  You think a trickle is an acceptable reward for your labor?  This bitch doesn’t.  This bitch, like many other bitches, doesn’t break her back so an executive can have a golden parachute.

Iran/Contra.  I could go on for hours about that because I listened to every single hearing during the summer of 1987.  I’m emotionally scarred.  My shrink has advised me not to go back to that point in time.

The dissolution of the family farm.  Now, we have agricorporations.  It’s not unlike the health care model Nixon and Kaiser developed in the 70s.  Shut out the little guys, allow the big corporations to take over and *presto* instant monopoly, albeit legal.

These are mere highlights of one of the absolute worst things to befall this country.  And people line up to metaphorically gargle the balls of Saint Ronnie’s corpse.  Not even Nancy would go that far (unless her astrologer told her to).

So, for those spreading the ISIS/WASWAS, for those who ache for the golden era of Ronald Reagan and for Ronald Reagan and his political cabinet (less James Brady) – CONGRATULATIONS, MOTHERFUCKERS.  You are the recipient of this week’s Go Fuck Yourself Weekly award.

Don't like it?  There's the door, sugartits.

Don’t like it? There’s the door, sugartits.

The motherfucking dress…

…motherfuckers.

Say it, motherfuckers.

Say it, motherfuckers.

Work in progress.  I has one.  In fact, I was thinking of wrapping it up today but the Go Fuck Yourself Weekly post is so fucking fantastic that I didn’t want to bury it under the weight of The Big Bewildered Bunny of Borås.  Then Blitz decided to bury it with a poem about that motherfucking dress.  The cunting dress.  The dress that has enraged me so much that I’m now suffering from bloody Tourette Syndrome and am one step away from involuntary commitment to a psych ward.

Dress, I fucking hate you.  There is only one blue dress that matters and that’s the one with Bill Clinton’s DNA on it.  There’s only one white dress that matters but the fuck if I know what it is because I DON’T FUCKING CARE.

Llamas in dresses, llamas on the lam, dresses on llamas, dresses changing colors, dresses, dresses causing me distresses.

My thoughts on the dress:

1.  It is fucking hideous.
2.  It is made of substandard fabric.
3.  It doesn’t deserve to see the light of day.
4.  Not even the most desperate of drag queens would touch it.
5.  You’re going to see it on Halloween (Someone who is trying too hard to be funny will wear it).

FUCK.  THE.  DRESS.

Love,
Kang

Pay parity…

…or unfair disparity?

Poor, poor men.  Honestly, I have no idea how they manage to live through conversation upon conversation about pay parity.  It has to be tedious and frustrating, listening to us shrill women moan about the measly cents on the dollar we earn.  It is so very gracious of the men to listen and provide broad shoulders for support.  From my perspective, nothing soothes me more than a man telling me to relax about this grievous injustice.  Wait.  That’s not true.  Ideally, I would be most pacified by a broad shouldered man telling me to relax about the 77 cents on the dollar I earn while pushing my head towards his dick so I may fellate him.  Yes.  That’s the good stuff, indeed.

Oh?  You mean you’re tired of this dialogue?  You think it’s been done to death, do you?  Are you intimating that I’m beating a dead horse?  Really?  I agree that I have written about this very subject before.  I agree that it is most unfortunate that I’m writing about it again, four years later, with zero movement towards eliminating this inequity.  It must be tough having to go through life dealing with this verbal pollution when you’re trying to enjoy mindless entertainment such as The Oscars and you’re confronted with the harsh reality of what those of us with internal plumbing deal with on a daily basis.  Genuinely tough.  I should have more compassion but as it stands, I can only offer up 77% of the full 100%.  After all, that’s the disparity in my paycheck.  You pay me a 1:1, I’ll consider giving you a 1:1 but only after the same amount of time has passed.  You need to appreciate my struggle.

From my vantage point, the most frustrating thing about pay disparity is my output – my final product.  After many years of toiling away in procurement, I transitioned to consulting (I’m sooooo talented, I get paid to tell people how to do their jobs).  Now, instead of logging hours in an office and interfacing with suppliers and clinical staff, I hide in my house, interacting with Excel, three cats, one dog and a fish.  My product is an Excel monument to Rube Goldberg detailing the numerous ways hospitals can reduce spend via cost savings and utilization measures.  If you removed any traces of my name from my work and either printed it or forwarded it via email – the end user would have no idea if it had been slapped together by a man or a woman, let alone a human being.  It could have very well been calculated by those million monkeys (they are everywhere these days) and their pesky typewriters (although, those monkeys would have to be pretty fucking smart and the typewriters certainly wouldn’t cut it in the modern era).  Nonetheless, there is no way of knowing which gender did the work.

So, if there is no way of knowing which gender did the work – how and why would there be a difference in how the employee is compensated?  Yet, the probability for disparity is there.  Oh hell, it’s not a probability.  It’s definite.

Now, I’m not saying this is the case with my organization.  I’m certainly not saying this to be a sycophant, either.  After you spend x-many years in the workforce and acquire a skillset along with some wisdom, you do have certain luxuries extended to you.  If you’re not in a particular hurry to land a job, you do have the good fortune of being selective about what sort of organization you choose to work for.  I’m considerably persnickety in this regard.  Look for an organization that values diversity and you’re less likely to be on the 77:100 end of the scale.  That said, it’s not necessarily a guarantee that you’ll be 100:100, though.

As I said earlier, women haven’t made much progress with pay parity.  For some fucked up reason, no one seems to have a sense of urgency about this issue.  Bills are being rejected.  Women go to the polls each election cycle and continue to vote against their own interests again and again and again.  Younger women are so far removed from the struggle for equality that they think Affirmative Action is largely unnecessary.  Telling them that I’m older than Title IX barely resonates because they have no fucking idea what Title IX even is.  As you find yourself continuing the fight, you end up spending half the time educating the next generation about the need for the battle in the first place. Herding cats yields a better outcome.

During The Oscars, Patricia Arquette decided to use her acceptance speech for a different cause.  She felt it was important to remind us that things are still very much wrong; that women are still very much getting the short end of the stick.  And, instead of being on the receiving end of “Can I get an Amen, Sista!” people are doing what people do best:  they are taking her to the toolshed.  How dare she ruin a mental night off from reality?  How dare she challenge people with the truth?  How dare she put fancy ideas in our lady brains?  It’s bad enough that we left the kitchen and stopped making sammiches and babies.  Now, we women are being reminded that we’re not paid equally and :gasps: heaven forbid we actually do something about that!  The gall!

The issue isn’t a woman using her acceptance speech at an awards ceremony to push a political issue.  The issue certainly isn’t about a “Hollywood Liberal” telling Middle-America how to live.  The issue is what it has always been – disparate pay for equivalent output.  No individual with outdoor plumbing would tolerate that shit.  Why should we?  And to those who think this is an acceptable practice because we choose different career paths, take time off to breed or are less skilled at negotiating, I should like to ask you, in the most courteous manner possible, to go fuck yourself as uncomfortably as you possibly can.  Alternatively, go fuck yourself but only allow yourself to climax at a 77:100.

Exasperation, irritation…

…frustration.

Lacking a punching bag and the requisite energy to jab the punching bag, I need to find an appropriate substitute.  I’m going to assign blame to my hair.  Yesterday, I went for the periodical untangling of the rat’s nest and shearing of the fleece.  As hairdressers are wont to do, mine straightened the curls.  I don’t care for this, as a rule, but she actually makes it look like something other than newsreader hair so I keep my gob shut and let her attack me with the flat iron.  Now I have a headache because trying to keep the mess out of my eyes is a Herculean effort.  The hair – it knows not what to do.  It just wants to hang…straight…in my face.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I usually keep the hair wild and longish so I can hide behind it but I do this of my own volition.  I AM IN CONTROL – not the fucking hair.  This is me.  Right now.

Hi
Contributing to my positively shitty mood is my struggle with a stupid essay I have been trying to write for five or six (sive) weeks now.  Oh yes, I crow about how wonderful it is to limit myself to essays.  I say “Why yes, real writers of books and things, if I get bored or if a concept refuses to come together, I can just bin the shit and move on to the next because I am awesome, lazy and lacking in discipline.”  The sad, pathetic truth is that I might find myself reworking something to the point of madness.  Barking madness.  Madness that results in stuffing cookies in my face and retreating to my bed to snuggle two stuffed bunnies and whichever cat decides to grace me with his or her presence (lately, it’s been Annabel – the kitty that is so muscular and solid, it feels like a cinder block is crushing your legs).  It is as ridiculous as it sounds, especially given the pajamas that I’m wearing when I engage in this behavior.

My undoing, my descent into rambling lunacy came at the hands of an upgrade.  Miss Thang actually got off her ass and renewed the domain and upgraded the website early this year.  The upgrade has given me power and nothing is more intoxicating to Kang than power (ok…maybe a foreign accent emanating from a handsome man or a quality Belgian beer).  Knowing that my involvement with style sheets and CSS results in bad things, I refrained from going anywhere near that mess.  No one wants to help unfuck whatever fuckups I make while coding.  People would sooner try to figure out my parents’ A/V rig than sort out what I call coding and that’s saying quite a lot because the A/V rig cum home entertainment system is a hot fucking mess of a nightmare.

But I’m genuinely irritated because I might have OCD tendencies.

Depending on the device and/or platform I use to access the site, the justification is off.  I make adjustments for tablets and it skews the view for computers.  I make adjustments for computers and tablets and mobile devices suffer.  The alignment looks a lot like my son’s handwriting did in the beginning of the school year (or my husband’s current penmanship).  I look at the analytics and the device mix is 50/50 so no matter my decision, I’m going make sweet, sweet fuckery love to one segment of the wittew audience we have.  And, yes, I might just be like the average male who is driving a car and finds himself lost;  I’m not going to ask for directions or guidance.  I’m going to drive in circles until the tears flow freely and the tank is empty.  Which is where I am now – on a park bench, stroking myself (not in that way, you disgusting pervert) and telling myself I’m pretty and I have value to someone, somewhere (likely only my parents or my kid).

Who's a pretty pony

Right now, the Emotional Traffic Light Engagement essay (see – even the concept sounds clunky) is back in the draft bin for the millionth time, paragraphs are askew in some posts and my sack of fucks to give is very small and lacking depth (Dock just loves that line).