Sunday, April 28, 2013

Lucky Dog

The 'Murican Dream says if you get a jurb and pull yurself up from ur bootstraps, you'll make a name for urself and have it all.

Fuck  that. Not everybody has to work hard to get ahead in life. A lot of it has to do with luck. Sheer, dumb, unbiased luck.

A clover or horsehoe doesn't care who the fuck your parents are
or how hard you've worked. Its alignment is True Neutral.

Story time.

I was cleaning the apartment the other day in preparation for a Star Trek themed party (no  joke), and one of the things I was doing was laundry (because the shirt I wanted to wear was dirty). This involves going outside to the laundry room for our apartment's unit. After switching my wet clothes into the dryer, I came back inside and  went straight to my bedroom to put away the clean clothes; then I started  cleaning the bathroom. When I went back into the living room to put away one of the bottles of cleaner, I noticed the front door looked... odd. And it was quiet in the apartment- too quiet. As in I couldn't hear River. Sure enough, there was a River-sized opening at the door.


I scrambled and put on shoes and a sweater, stuffed some Beggin'Strips, her favorite frisbee, her leash, and my cell phone into my pockets, and I ran outside. But after a few minutes of crying and calling for her, I realized she could have been out for twenty minutes, maybe more. So I had no idea which direction to even start in a search for her. And being on foot, I was a million times slower than she could go. I felt so incredibly guilty for doing  it, but I came to the conclusion that the best thing I could do was go home and wait for someone to call- all of my info is on her tag, she's microchipped, and she has a tag from the Humane Society still. So as long as she was found by someone with a fraction of a heart, I'd get her back.

But sitting at home like that was awful. I called and texted a few people for advice, but 
sitting at home waiting, I started having a panic attack. I couldn't breathe, my chest hurt, my head was exploding. There were so many cars out, what if she was run over? What if she was found by someone that wanted to keep her? What if she got lost and fell into the Wabash and didn't know how to swim, or got sick? So I eventually started trying to find someone that could drive me around to look for her.

Then I heard two things simultaneously:  The recycling truck, and barking. Oh God, please let that be her. I hadn't even taken anything out of my pockets yet (too busy freaking out), so I ran back outside and, sure enough, there she was, in the parking lot, barking at the truck (because, you know, she could totally take a recycling truck). I called to her from the top of the stairs, and she looked at me, then turned and barked more at the truck. I called again, waving her frisbee, and she took a step closer, looking a little curious... then bolted to the side and out of my sight.  Damnit. I did my best to keep my voice sweet and level, but I know I sounded a little desperate as I called to her again. As soon as she could see me, I waved the BegginStrips, and this time, she got this, "Meh, that's acceptable," look and trotted to me. I swear, had she been capable of shrugging her shoulders, she would have.

I sobbed and held her there on the ground, in the middle of the parking lot, for a few minutes. The recycling dudes were laughing at me the whole time. I didn't care. I had River back.

I realize I got lucky. Really lucky. That she came back,  that I heard her barking, that I at least had  enough sense to grab some BegginStrips.

And River was lucky. That she hadn't been run over. That it wasn't wet and rainy and she didn't get sick, or so hot she became dehydrated. 

I know a lot  of my life has been the result of shitty hands being dealt to me, but a lot of it is also the opposite- some fucking fantastic cards have crossed  my hand. 

^I was born to a mom that loves me and that eventually married a guy that loved me, too. They always put my (and my siblings') needs before theirs when I was still living in-house. Even when it was the darkest, I never felt unloved. And this helped shape me as the loving person I am today.

^I was in a terrible school district in 5th-12th grade, but I just happened to be at the middle school with the best orchestra, which got me into the best high school in the state. I was also lucky in that the school district paid for me to borrow a cello the whole time- I haven't heard of a single other school district (or even individual school) that would provide instruments for check-out, free of charge, to students enrolled in music classes, but, there you go. Luck.

^My younger siblings were born with anomalous characteristics, and while one view of this is that it sucks, I never think of it that way. Some of the circumstances that have resulted suck, but that's not nearly the same thing, and I resent anyone that has ever asked me if I'd go back and "fix" them. I love them for who they are and wouldn't change them. And taking care of them, watching them and helping them grow, experiencing their joy and pain, has also helped shape me. I'm lucky to have a brother with autism, because it has helped me learn that acceptance runs deep, and love, real love, is unconditional. I'm lucky to have a little sis with anxiety and  tourette syndrome cause it taught me patience and gentility. And also how to survive in a survival horror game.

^The college I wanted to go to the most just happened to also give me the best financial aid package- which I had been told would be the determinant for what place I ended up going. One of the progenitors of Magic: The Gathering  just happened to be an alum, as was the inventor of the board game Robo Rally. Oh, and Adam Fucking West. (And I should prolly mention William O. Douglas, too.)

^There just so happened to be a position opening up in the classroom I volunteered in as I was graduating, so that paraeducator job pretty much just fell out of the sky and into my lap. Hell, the principal approached me about it. I was really lucky that Soandso just happened to be retiring right at that moment.

^A friend from undergrad just happened to be doing some environmental conservation science-ee stuff at my now graduate university, and so I just applied for their political science program for the heck of it- and got offered a fellowship to attend. Sure, I had to write the essay, but  what are the odds I'd randomly apply and it would be the only place to offer me a good financial package, too? The only other place that let me in (I applied to ten graduate programs and was rejected by eight) would have required more loans out of me in one year than I had accumulated all four years of undergrad. Hells no.

^Also, I think it's lucky that every law school I applied to turned me down.

^My current chair's chair was my hero in political theory- reading her work as an undergrad genuinely changed my personal philosophy and influences like every paper I write, comment I post online about social justice, the very way in which I view the world and my purpose within it. And she was my main adviser's adviser- and I found out while we were buying coffee together partway through our second year together! "You know, Iris was my chair, right?" I actually fell into the dude in the line in front of me. No wonder we jive so well! That's pure luck and coincidence. I had nothing to do with that. 

^I get along well enough and with enough people here to get through the rough stuff, and I know that some of the friendships I've made here will be ones I try to hold onto even after we end up geographically separated. That may sound weird, but I find myself very lucky to have been able to find the scant number of decent human beings amidst the vast majority of arrogant blowhards that seem to dominate every discipline at the graduate level. This isn't even an indictment of my own  department, per se- I think that, mostly, you just need a certain kind of personality to want to go to grad school, and that often comes with a lot of, um, negative character traits, or at least less-than-desirable tendencies. 

^I'm also quite fortunate in that, should I continue on this academic path, I could definitely fill a niche in my discipline and perhaps have it kind of easy because of the subject matter- nobody does it, so I could make a bunch of shit up and they'd think I was pooping gold. Which sometimes  makes me feel really dirty, but I fortunately also have enough integrity to still be sure what I postulate is legit and not just some random assertion I'm yanking out of my posterior. 

^Academia could probably satisfice. I'd have to find the right job, focused mostly on teaching and being able to just spew out normative theory all the time, but I think it's doable. And I'm lucky in that- this crap isn't for everyone,  and while I really don't feel like it's for me at the end of the day, there's probably the potential for there to be enough that I could be at least not be entirely unhappy someday, should I get this Ph.D. I'm working on right now. 

But  now to throw a monkey wrench in all this luck business. When I was despairing over River the other day, I started cursing God and asking Him why He'd do this to me. I haven't really "talked to" God in ages, but  being so distraught and upset brought me back there. I wanted to blame someone, so I blamed Him. Because I already felt like  a terrible mom, so I had to remove some of the guilt. 

And remember how earlier I had said, "Oh God, please let that be her,"? Well, I had meant it. I was begging for it to be her.

And then when I found her, I kept saying, "Thank you," into her fur. But  it wasn't to her I was talking. It was to God, the universe, the wind... I'm not sure. I just  had to say it  aloud because I really was so grateful to have my baby  back. 

I haven't talked  much (yet) about my faith and lackthereof. I'm not really in the mood to get into that right now. But I'll say this: Even if there's some Big Dude In The Sky represented by "God" pulling my strings, I've at least been lucky enough that they haven't made my entire life a living Hell. I've had plenty of happy times, and plenty to be grateful for has come my way.

And I feel lucky about that. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Wedding Planner with Shingles

So I officiated the wedding of my bestest best best friend evar on the 13th. It was in lovely Tuscon, Arizona, and we didn't even melt. Huzzah!

For the record, though, I did next to nothing. I offered my services when it came to planning, but my serivces were declined. And then, because of my gorram shingles, I wasn't able to do much beyond just standing and talking the day of the ceremony- which made me feel guilty as Hell. Sticking to low-impact when there are tables and chairs to be moved makes a body  feel pretty useless and dead-weight-ish.

Although I'll say this: If you had chicken pox as a kiddo, and you're older and want a good excuse to lie at home and feel sorry for yourself, get shingles. Because by golly, the pain never ceases! I'm "on the mend" now, which means I have itchy, inflamed scabs all over my side. Ew, ouch, and GOD DAMNIT I RAN OUT OF PAIN KILLERS! If I had it my way, I'd just quit the semester and stay home, lying in bed or on the couch, cuddling River and watching Netflix or playing video games. If I could get away with taking time off until I was fully recovered, I'd have like an entire month off. 

What has sucked major about it is that yeah, because of grad school and going to that wedding, I just haven't really had the time to actually slow down and recuperate the way your typical shingles patient would. Not only did my sores get exacerbated by the stress and the go, go, GO! of life (as in there are a LOT, all over), but I have no doubts that the stress has made them linger longer than they should have. I'm sitting at my desk in my home office right now, and by golly, I want to tear the flesh off my side because it burns and itches and no matter what I do, my pajama pants are constantly rubbing them. But this pain is about as low as it got when I did have pain killers left- it's all topical, not internal (which was what it was when it was at its worst- it felt like someone was slicing me from the inside, starting at my spine and working their way out), so I know there isn't much I can do, other than whine. 

I feel sorry for myself because I never got an entire day to stay home and feel sorry for myself.

Shingles: The adult excuse to act like a baby.

Boo hoo

Shingles was how I got out of doing hands-on labor for my friend's wedding, but like I said, she and her then-fiance* just didn't want my help. Not that they didn't trust me, they just wanted to do it themselves to keep it "stress free" (which actually meant my friend was the only one even thinking about planning it at all, and any time she asked a reasonable question like, Honey, who do you want to invite? he'd accuse her of worrying too much... ugh...).

But when I was Maid of Honor for my older sis, she did everything by herself, too. The only thing I contributed, other than giving my opinion on options she'd found for various things, is I found what ended up being one of their favors, little candles with glass holders that had the wedding info engraved on them (really cute and super cheap). So I felt kind of useless there, too. Especially when her officiant was stupid about the order the wedding party stood around the bride and groom, and she insisted I be at the end, so I had to go around the other bridesmaids to fix my sis's train and do the boquet stuff. Ugh, man, that was so bloody annoying...

Anyhoo, point! I didn't really do much, there. Actually, I think the friend I officiated for the other weekend did more at my sister's wedding than I did, as she was an usher and handed out programs. Hm, I just thought of that...

So then I was around during all of the wedding planning for my roommie. But the most I did there was just listen to her tell me about the conflicts with her family and how fucking insane some of the stuff she was going through (venues firing everyone, photographers going to jail... the usual... right?... no?... aw, shit) was. Now, I did do a helluva lot more the day of the wedding there- apart from designing the makeup pallets (aaaw yeah!), I ran a lot of damage control and kept my roommie and her hubby as unaware of mishaps and awkward things as much as possible. For example, they didn't even know the toilets had broken down until the DJ had already fixed them. I also kept her bitchy Maid of Honor from ruining her fun, too (I almost decked her twice). 

But I think being in and around those weddings, especially at least hearing about the planning processes of my sis and roommie, has helped me get pretty adept at knowing what weddings need, what's common, etc. Plus, I've been to a crapton of weddings in my time. 

I've been helping another couple plan theirs, and I'll be a bridesmaid in that one. It's next month. And for this one, I've had a much more hands-on role, helping them write the script, design the save-the-dates, finding thank-you cards, figuring out how to get people involved in capacities beyond just ushering, choosing how to decorate. I'm prolly going to end up planning their joint stag/hen party, and it just keeps going. And I don't mind at all- I'm glad to help them in the runup to the rest of their lives together. And I'm happy to be there for them however they need me. I usually have decent ideas, and even if they aren't precisely what the bride and groom want, I at least give them my feedback and help them figure it out- sometimes, it just takes talking through things with other people to get a handle on your own vision, so a sound board is I, quite often, and that's fine by me. I'm not a dancer,  but the bride is, so the reception is going to be heavy on the dancing; I plan to run interference at this wedding, much like I did with my roommie's, in order to avoid the dance floor. I'll be in the cute Converse the bride got me as my wedding gift, but still, I'd rather avoid breaking a limb/ looking like I'm having a seizure. 

I'd end up just sitting in the middle of the dance floor,
pouting, but not looking nearly as adorable as this little girl
(Also, I like her hair...)
A few weekends ago, a couple my roommie and I are friends with that live out of town spent the night at our place after one of our parties. When I made them breakfast the next morning, we all ended up talking about wedding planning, as the two of them are starting to think about making venue reservations, etc. My roommie and I talked their ears off, and they were so thrilled and excited to have friends that "know what they're doing," so they said we could expect to hear back from them for more advice some time soon. They haven't asked me to be in that wedding yet, and I'm hoping their families and/or friend networks are large enough that I won't be  needed. Not because I wouldn't want to help them out personally, and if they asked me, I'd say yes, but I'm getting a little weddinged out. Because...

I'll be Maid of Honor in yet another wedding next August. I'm fairly sure I'll be pretty heavily involved in planning that one, too, and by then, I think I'll be a ruddy expert at this wedding planning business. I feel like I could, at this point, quit grad school altogether and open a full-service wedding planning company. I mean, I could officiate and help them come up with ideas and run the show, I have friends that do videography and photography that would prolly gladly quit school to get a well-paying job...

Bloody Hell, I think I've figured it out!

I'll just have to avoid shingles again.

Which, apparently, isn't a problem, since you can't get it twice. But I did joke around with my roommie about being contagious: Apparently she never had chicken pox as a kid, and while you can't give another adult shingles if that's what you have, you can give an adult that didn't have chicken pox those if you have shingles. So I told her she had to stop licking me. 


Although I did kind of freak out when River was near me when they were at their worst. Because I don't know how this shit works, and I didn't want to get my baby sick. And  while I know there are going to be  scars on my side, I think that's all they'll be by the time I have to suit up again for the wedding next month. Which is good, because it hurt like Hell the other weekend to be crammed in that underarmor for the one I officiated.

Protip: Don't get shingles if you're about to wear a bunch of undies with boning. 

I'm not really sure how to end this post. Except to say that all this wedding planning for other people, and there's only one thing I know about my wedding I want for certain (other than to not be sick like this), and that's to have this song be our first dance together:

(If you're wondering why there's a pic of a bearded Ryan Reynolds on a motorcycle here, it's because this is a screenshot from the cute little indy movie he was in called Chaos Theory- this song was featured in it, and that movie is how I discovered said song, as well as the band, now one of my favorites.)

I could babble about how perfectly this song captures my vision of what love is and should be, but meh. Just listen. (Only thing is, as it's live, Alex messes up a line- the second hook should go, "Climbing back up the same wall/Waiting for a curtain  call/ What I've got to give, I'd give up..." I couldn't find a version of the studio recording that didn't cut off, skip the intro, or bumble somewhere in the middle.) But anyhoo, don't listen  to me, listen.**

*What the blazes are the keyboard commands to do fancy characters like umlauts and e with a thingydo over it?!?!?!

**If you get that reference, tell me. I'll kiss you. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

"Skinny" By Filter- Wearing Masks, But That's Okay (In The End)

I know I alluded to a different song before, but this one came up randomly on iTunes, and since  it's easier to find a good version of it on YouTube, here you go.

So let's just jump in, shall we? First, an overall reading. So here's the whole set of lyrics: 

So here you are in your small little world
Kept up like  a precious little virgin girl
To hear about your grace and your silly face
Wrapped up like a knot in a ball of shoe lace
And every time I talk to you

It sounds like you're caught in a psychological flu

Don't ever let them see you cheat
Don't ever let them see you bleed
Don't ever let them shake your hand
Don't ever let them believe that scam

Skinny, and it will make you cry
Skinny, and it will make you lie
Skinny, and if it makes you soft inside
Skinny, at least you will not die

And if you take a good look  at them
All caught up in their graciousless win
Every sin in their seamless smile
Will go on for a countless while
And just because they think they won

It just means that the shit has just begun

Don't ever let them see you cheat

Don't ever let them see you beat
Don't ever let them  shake your hand
Don't ever let them believe that scam

Skinny, and it will make you cry
Skinny, and it will make  you lie
Skinny, and if it makes you soft inside
Skinny, at least you will not die

So one thing to keep in mind, is that if I'm not given the direct source material for a poem or song lyrics (as in a published book, the band's official website or the book that comes with the album), I don't do much punctuation and let the breaks in the song do most of the sentence structure for me. 

The obvious metaphor this song is about isn't very metaphoric at all, but rather ironic- "Skinny," the "virgin girl" in question is, in my own reading of the song, a non-skinny girl. A nice girl, one that people must like because they want to be around her. But she gets taken advantage of and passed over a lot because, in part, she's not conventionally attractive (I've been using that phrase a lot lately, haven't I?). It reminds me of the trope of the chubby sidekick with the pretty, (sometimes mean, and) skinny friend that's the lead in the book/movie/etc. She usually doesn't get what she wants in the end of the movie, although it may be alluded to comically that she falls for some equally unattractive, loserly guy that falls back.

So the "scams" and "graciousless wins" are how the beautiful people in pop culture and society get away with a lot of shit that a less attractive person wouldn't. And that they don't even really take notice of the people that help them along the way.

As a chubby gal, I can relate to this. I call this blog "American Dramedy," and one of the aspects of my life that makes it so is that I am that chubby sidekick. Not to say any of my friends are skinny bitches, nononono. But I'm the funny, sweet, curvy girl that provides the comic relief or the comfort to the people around her, but whose own needs usually get passed up in the end. I know I sound whiney, but I'm not whining- I realize this is at least partially my doing. I focus a lot on what other people need. Because I'm by my inherent nature an empathetic, nurturing person. So I help my friends through their problems, give them advice, and cheer them on when things are going well. And this is why I've been asked to be in ten different weddings since I graduated high school (although I haven't been able to participate in all of them), and asked to attend another eight. This is why I am usually the target for the bullies at school (and I use the present tense because even in grad school, I'm still being bullied). And then, unfortunately, when I do try  to get what I want, it never works out. If I was the star of the rom-com, when I said, "I love you," he would  have come to his senses. Since I'm the chubby sidekick, he told me to look for other men. Etc. I can help a cratpton of friends plan and execute their weddings, but... well... yeah.

And career/school-wise, it's pretty similar. I keep most of the school crap that's bothering me to myself, and I'm sure most of my friends do the same. But 
this relates to the deeper, smaller  meanings in the song. I think this song is also about wearing masks and pretending. I feel like this song is my grad school experience.

Don't ever let them see you cheat

I have the reputation of being the sweet one, so I really can't resort to the same backstabbing and petty bullshit the people around me sometimes fall into. Which is a good thing, because I'd rather not get into that. But at the same time, it also means I'm not cut-throat enough to get what I want. I'm certainly not studying the kinds  of things (or using the kinds of methods) that could get me recognition. And I'll admit, a lot of it has been terrible luck in what I've been assigned and some of the cards I've been dealt while here, but still. I get condescended to and told how I need to reform myself and play the game and suck it up and just go and do quantitative methods because that's the only way anyone will take you seriously and oh, theory? Hah, that's adorable! So I downplay what I'm doing, even though it actually is pretty Goddamned innovative (for political science, anyway- poli sci is behind a lot of other social sciences on things like poverty and disability, go figure). And I play along when people talk smack about one another in front of me and say things like, "I got better grades than Soandso, why do they have funding and I don't?" But I don't ever say that about myself or other people. I don't want anyone to think I'm remotely like that- because, hey, I'm not.

Don't ever let them see you bleed

But I also have to convince everyone I have my shit together. Since I have the reputation of being happy and bubbly, I can't let on when I'm not. And lately, that's most of the time. And while there are a few people that care enough about me to recognize when I'm faking, most of the people here are too self-centered to give a damn and don't even notice when I'm too exhausted to fake smiling anymore. Most of the time, saying I'm just tired is enough, since, well, everybody is tired. But every so often, someone will say, "No, really, what's the matter?" That happened with someone last semester during a break in a class, and I seriously had a sobfest in the bathroom because damn, someone actually cares enough to notice I'm full of shit? But even then, I tried to lie and said I needed to use the restroom and didn't let that person or anyone else see me crying.

In general, as I've said before, I usually have to be the strong one in the family, and this translates itself to my friendships, too. I keep what's really going on in my head and heart to myself most of the time, because if they see my weaknesses, they'll exploit them and destroy anything I've made for myself here. I've had some pretty deep secrets given away by someone here, someone I trusted- they let everybody know really quick, even though they swore it would be a secret. So I feel as if I can't open up. I hide my wounds, and wear a mask of strength and happiness; inside, I'm a cracked vase that's one tap away from shattering (or at least, it feels that way sometimes- not always, don't think I'm entirely maudlin and whatnot). 

Don't ever let them shake your hand
Don't ever let them believe that scam

But I really shouldn't resort to their games, and maybe I should just stop faking and let it out. Tell them I think they're all a bunch of self-absorbed assholes that can go fuck cacti and sleep in a bed of fire ants for all I care. 

Skinny, and it will make you cry

I cry. Oh God, do I cry. They make me cry. Life makes me cry, and I cry more because I realize I can't turn to most of the people here. And anyone I would trust enough to not turn it into a therapy session for them, well, I care about them too much to burden them with my problems. So I isolate myself somewhat accidentally, but also somewhat intentionally, and I hate it. Because I'm extremely codependent. 

Skinny, and it will make you lie

So I keep lying. And also watching how I communicate more than ever- it's hard to be around a bunch of intellectuals that pick apart every semantical detail of what you say/post/email/whatever and tear you down every chance they get, remind you that you're using one word wrong, etc. I hold my opinions on a lot of things back because, invariably, when I let myself go, someone, often someone I care a lot about or have a lot of respect for, will basically tell me I'm an idiot. I can't help it if I'm emotional, but emotion can't match intellect, so I always lose out. So I don't answer questions, and I keep my interpretations to myself a lot.

Skinny, and if it makes you soft inside
Skinny, at least you will not die

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," may be bullshit to some people, and I don't entirely buy into it, myself. But what I do know is that all of the things I've been through- as a kid, now- have made me who I am. And I'm a damn good person. I'm kind, I'm loyal, I'm fun, I'm earnest, I'm loving, I'm selfless... I soldier on, and I become a better person for all of the shitstorms I live through every day.

So while the whole song may seem kind of dark, I actually see it very positively. Despite all of the reasons I may have to give up, I don't. And the important stuff about me doesn't change. I'm a softie, sure, but that's also a good thing, because it means I care about people, and they feel they can trust me and look to me. I'm reliable, a Good People to have around as a friend, and I'd be a catch as a lover. And I wouldn't be that way if I had had everything spoon fed to me from a silver platter. And seeing some of the assholes I have to deal with, and the oppression and willful ignorance ("White Supremacy" was written on a mirror in my university's Black Cultural Center a few days ago, for example) shows me lots of things I most definitely know I don't want to be. And whenever I see myself turning into that, I take a step back and remove myself, even if only mentally. And I tell myself, "Gab, don't go there." And to apologize, if necessary. 

So I won't die, and, fuck, I have no interest in that. I love life and people too much. I want to live as long as possible so I can experience all of the beauty and good things that are in my future- whether they're ones I make myself, or ones I happen across.

So to wrap this up, here, have a rainbow, with a bonus unicorn, because damnit, I AM special:

Monday, April 15, 2013


Anyone that knows me in the slightest is probably highly aware of my rather potent love of babies and children. And I think I've said I want some of my own in over half of the blog posts I've published thus far. But I think I'm going to talk about something specific, here. And that's how kids make me happy. I'll start with a story.

This morning was a pure shitstorm of atrocity and ire. I had accidentally set my alarm for p.m. instead of a.m., and after being exhausted from the wedding I officiated over the weekend (I'll post on that later), as well as from sleeping so shittily recently because of my shingles (another thing I'll post about later- damn), I ended up sleeping until almost 10. Unheard of on a Monday, and really bad for timing this week in particular. I not only completely missed an event I had helped plan, but I was on track to almost missing the bus that could get me to campus on time for my regular Monday gig of TAing. But other things just kept going wrong as my morning slowly spiraled downward. Not in chronological order, but the order I can recall them: I spilled coffee on not one, nor even two, but three blouses. I fell down the stairs when taking River outside and scraped my knee something awful. I bit my cheek so badly when eating my granola and yogurt that I tasted more blood than breakfast (and am pretty sure I swallowed a chunk of my own flesh). I slipped in the shower and banged my funny bone on one of the soap shelves on the wall. And I was so stressed that I didn't realize I was actually holding the shoe for which I was looking until I had released a good, long string of expletives in a tone and at a volume that made poor River leave the room with her tail between her legs and her ears flat against her head.

I stomped out of the apartment at the last possible moment (after apologizing  profusely to River, then giving her a shit-ton of treats in her cage to compensate) (I'm a terrible mother), I'm certain with flames trailing behind me and steam coming out of my nostrils. 

And then, this darling little girl (I'm going to guestimate aged four) started crossing my path somewhat in the distance in front of me, a plastic bag in her hand, her destination obviously the huge dumpster across from her apartment. I smiled instinctively, as I always do when I see babies or kids in public, and she smiled back and waved vigorously as she skipped her way to the dumpster. By the time she started back to her apartment, I had already passed her, but I was still smiling a little.

"I live in the same place as you!" I heard her call from behind me. I turned, and she was skipping in my direction, somewhat away from her place. I said yes, well, sort of, since I live back that way. She said, "Oh, that's okay, I just live right there," pointing to her door as she skipped beside me. "Are you going for a nice walk, or to school right now?" She looked up at me with eyes like an anime character.

She looked basically like this
"School," I said, and I couldn't help but let that sound really unhappy.

"Oh," she said, and she patted my leg, "that's okay, I bet you're really awesome. You look like you would be, I love your jacket! I bet that makes you really smart!"

I giggled, "Well, I don't know about that, but thanks, dear." I tugged and adjusted my teal blazer a little. 

"Okay," she said, all business, "I should probably get back and help Mom with the [insert name of some Indian food I don't remember here] some more. I'll miss you!" and the little angel hugged my leg (I had stopped walking by then), then scampered back to her apartment.

Allow me to add that I'd never seen this particular girl before- her siblings, yes, and even her mother and grandmother, but not her.

Now, before your alarm bells start going off, please allow me to just indulge in this moment and memory. Yes, I know the dangers a little girl behaving like that could face, because no, not everyone is a nice person, but I need to just keep that little encounter for what it was for me, okay? 

That little girl completely turned my day around. I was smiling the entire time I was waiting for the bus, when on it, when TAing, and hours later when I recalled it in a coffee shop on campus and typed it up initially, I had the hugest, most idiotic grin on my face. I was even listening to that extremely overplayed song by Gotye, "Somebody That I Used to Know," and when normally I'd groan, I was instead fighting giggling as I remembered this little girl. And I'm smiling pretty wide now that I'm finishing this post almost twelve hours later.

I don't know why, but kids have that effect on me. Just seeing them cheers me up for a few moments, and interacting with them like that fills me with so much inexplicable joy that I can be set up for hours upon hours of unnecessary happiness. Whenever I go to department functions, I constantly gravitate towards the children. If I'm ever missing at a barbecue, find the kids- you'll find me there. At that wedding over the weekend, there was this one adorable little girl, niece of the groom, and she and I wandered off and played together for a good twenty minutes by ourselves. And I was almost as happy then as I was when I was giving my pseudo-sermon for the couple. 

I think this is one reason why I loved working at that elementary school. When I wasn't with the special ed. students, I was still surrounded by kids. And whenever I was shadowing for inclusion with one or two of my kids, I'd also get to interact with some of their peers in the mainstream room. And there were a few of those that I especially would look forward to seeing- I even got cards from a few of them when I was "retiring" from the school district. I'd put them on grand display if I could, but, alas, that box got lost when I moved out here to Indiana. Of course. Le sigh.

Anyhoo, this: 

Probably the only context in which I'd be
100% okay with a mohawk.
I loved working in the nursery at my church in Walla Walla because, essentially, I was paid to play for babies for two hours every week. I couldn't care less about changing diapers- I actually enjoyed that, sickeningly enough, because I found that the kids somehow instinctively took that as a signal that I was, indeed, safe- I found more than once that a kid that had previously been kind of a crier would decrease the amount of time they wailed considerably the next time they came in if I wound up needing to change their diaper at some point. It's a bonding thing, I guess? I dunno. Anyhoo, point is, I did my best in whatever environment I was in to make the kids/babies I was around comfortable, happy, and safe in those professional environments. And it would always make me really, really sad when a kid seemed to not like me. I felt a lot more hurt when a kid sort of rejected me than I ever feel when an adult/peer does so undeniably.

I sometimes find it hard to concentrate on a conversation with a person when I'm on the bus or in a restaurant or something and there's a cute kid or baby nearby. I know it has been somewhat annoying for friends on more than on occasion, but I just can't help myself. I want to smile at the kid and make them smile back, or just stare in what probably could be taken as creepily as they do their own thing and ignore me completely.


This perhaps unhealthy love of children isn't unqualified,  though. I kind of hate middle schoolers. I hated middle schoolers when I, myself, was a middle schooler. So this love of youths extends mostly to fifth grade and under. I can like individual middle schoolers, sure, but in groups, they're annoying as Hell and I'd rather change the diapers of a fifth grader than spend half an hour supervising a group of twelve-year-olds. Tweens? Ew. No thanks. 

But this love for kids also leads me to have rather mama-bear SAVE THE CHILDREN! preferences in a lot of instances. And I get really judgmental really fast of other peoples' parenting, thinking to myself, "My God, I'd never do it that way." And I blame parents when kids are being brats, even though I do, on some level, realize sometimes kids just are, brats. 

I like to think I'll be a good mom someday. I know I won't be perfect, and that I'll invariably end up fucking my kids up in some way, because that's just how life is- there's always something therapy-worthy in one's youth (and  if you don't think so about yourself, you're in denial, bitch). But still, I at least know I want to be the kind of mom that the kids aren't embarrassed by (entirely, anyway), that they feel they can talk to about anything, come to for anything, and aren't afraid of. I don't want them to think of me as a friend, no, but I don't want them to be annoyed whenever I checked in on them, or to loathe the idea of doing something outside of the house with me, either. I do fear that my mama bear tendencies will lead me to being sort of a hellicopter mom, or that I'll be a little too strict in the name of protecting them (for example, I'm really torn on screening their TV and music). But I'm not gonna lie: I totes want a swagger wagon:

I second/third/fifth guess myself about pretty much everything all the time, so I of course speculate constantly as to whether my desire to be a mom comes from a selfish inclination to make myself happy through children. Like I'd be objectifying them, seeing them as a means to an end, rather than ends in and of themselves. Very anti-Kantian. Not that I really like Kant all that much, but I at least agree with him when he says people should be people, not tools for the selfish desires of others.

And maybe that self-awareness is enough. I just know I love kids, and they make me happy, and I want to make them happy, so I want to raise a gaggle of happy, mostly-well-adjusted children someday. I just hope I'm a little better about treats with humans than I am with dogs.

Here's hopin'. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ads That Fail, Ep. 1: I Wouldn't Trust My Auntie, Anyway^

I want to dissect this  ad for myriad reasons. First off, I like doing this with ads I see on Facebook, YouTube, etc. Sometimes, they're just bad. Sometimes, painfully contrived. Other times, way off the mark. Sometimes, offensive- either generally, or to me  personally (for example, Facebook keeps sending me ads for dating sites, presumably because I'm single- while there's nothing wrong with the ads themselves, I get sick of my "status" being tossed in my face all the time).

So this gem was on YouTube. The source is in the pic, so no need to talk more about that. 

So I'm not going to rag on dating sites in general. I'm signed up for one, and while yeah, I've had pretty shitty luck with it, I know that's not always the case- I have multiple friends in serious relationships with people they met online. I'm part of the digital age, I totally understand that the Internet is a place to meet people. Hell, I've had crushes on guys I met in various "places" online (forums, communities, etc.) plenty of times. And while it makes starting LDRs an easier thing, it can also help sustain them- my roommie was engaged when we met, and I was in their wedding this past August; part of what they do is "get ready together" in the morning via Skype. So another place to meet people, great- that's not my problem.

My problem here is the objectification of women's bodies, stereotypes about masculinity, and the normative conceptions of "beauty" and ableism that are being perpetuated by this ad. 

So first off, let's think about beauty. What is this ad saying? Taken with the text, the implication is the viewer of the ad wouldn't be "happy" with this woman. I'm going to conflate "happy" and "satisfied" for the sake of argument, but bear with me. So if this image is all we have to go on, then, presumably, there should be some indicators in it, and the first, most obvious, is that this woman is "ugly" by societal standards. Sure, she seems to have really nice skin and hair, and she's got lots of bling. But she seems to have some rather large, uneven teeth, pronounced, almost-crossed eyes, and glasses (oh GOD NO, NOT GLASSES!). So the implication is that this woman's entire worth is wrapped up in her physical appearance, in her body, and that since it doesn't match normative standards of "good," she as a person is thus lacking and wouldn't satisfy the viewer of the ad. It doesn't matter that she could be an amazingly kind, smart, funny, talented, high-positioned woman. She's not "hot," so she's out. Her body is her source of value, and it's ranked at zero. 

We  see this way too often in popular culture, and perpetuated in countless sexist comments on blogs and articles and pictures online. Women's bodies often become stand-ins for their entire identity. I can't recall a specific example, but how often have you read an article about a female celebrity or by a female author, and  criticisms often end up being about how she's ugly or looks like some sort of animal ("I wouldn't fuck her anyway," or "She looks like a horse!"), rather than talking about, I don't know, her argument? The story? How often does a terrible actress make lots of money because she's "hot"?* Women are much more often assessed based on their looks by society. And yeah, I get that men get cast for being hot, too, but you also see "ugly" men in leading roles getting what they want in the end, whereas you'd never, ever, ever see an unattractive female lead get what she wants unless there was some sort of makeover involved. In those cases, the woman he wants sees him for the inside and loves him anyway, whereas it takes a physical transformation for the unattractive woman to get her happy ending.

Anyway, my point is this ad is perpetuating assumptions that "good" women, women that could help others be happy, must be conventionally attractive. I'll go into the "conventionally" part soon, but suffice to say at this point that this is absolutely degrading and metonymic, insulting to women. A woman is worth more than her looks.

But I'm also going to say it's belittling to men, as well. I'm going to assume that Muslim culture doesn't really match up same-sex couples in arranged marriages, and given her traditional attire, I'm assuming the insinuation is this woman comes from some sort of match-maker situation. So the object of the ad is a straight male. This means the ad is operating on the assumption that all a man would care about is how attractive his future girlfriend/partner/wife is. And while yeah, I did just say  a lot of rude dudes objectify  women, assuming they will does them no favors and will not help the behavior change where it does occur. And it's messed up to assume that's all a man cares about. 

So now let's talk about ableism. It sort of aligns with the beauty thing in the sense that both ascribe to a normative ideal body type, and that anything not fitting those criteria is Other and thereby of lesser value. So just as the "ugly" woman would be unsatisfying, she  also has eyes that appear crossed and glasses- a look resembling a person with perhaps a lazy eye, or at least some sort of condition requiring assistive tools (glasses). So then, having a disability makes her unsatisfying, too. This woman looks a lot like the "herp derp" garbage crap shit circulating the Internet now- and I haven't much had the opportunity to rant about this to anybody, but I think "derp" is the new "retarded." It's demeaning and dehumanizing. And one of the assumptions behind it is that the person that "herps" or "derped" is inadequate, stupid. Essentially, this ad is implying the woman is, pejoratively, a retard and thus not good enough. And since this is drawn purely from a visual aid, we must assume they're equating able-bodied-ness with beauty. 

The thing is, I come from a perspective that beauty and disability are not binary constructs, but fluid processes in which we navigate daily, hourly, whatever. And I think both have a direct impact on identity, both of self and someone else- and identity itself is fluid, something we reshape and reform in every context. There are ranges of physical attractiveness, and the standards for conventional beauty are arbitrary at best- centuries ago, a heavier woman like me would have been quite the pick, but now I'm smiled at and then passed over. Plus, this assumes beauty is a purely physical thing- but I think it's more sensory, and I'd add emotion in there, too. I think "beauty" is a sort of "I'll know it when I __ it" kind of thing. And the very fact that being "able-bodied" is not a definitive, guaranteed state of existence is really important, here- society is so bent on the binary that knowing one could end up on the "wrong" side of it, be it through disease, accident, or just getting old, causes negative perceptions of disability. It comes from fear. And this can be internalized by anyone, whether they have a disability or not. I'm not going to delve too much into how BS I think the binary construct is, but suffice to say it's the dominant perception of disability today, and it has underlying assumptions about what is normatively "good" and "bad" and disability is definitely "bad." How this is problematic for the ad, then, is easy, and has already been stated. But I'll reword. 

The woman is shown with the appearance of someone with a disability, and is labeled as unsatisfying. So, the ad is saying disability is unsatisfying.

And we can even say this without making assumptions about her mental capacity (because of how stereotypically "retarded" she looks). She has glasses. An assistive tool. That's enough.  And while a general, everyday encounter with a person that wears glasses may not leave someone else thinking, "Hm, they have a disability," and certainly people with glasses don't usually consider themselves as disabled, the fact is, in this case, the glasses are symbolic of the myriad inadequacies this fictional woman is supposed to have that make her a bad pick by the "Auntie" being referenced. 

Last, and, yeah, okay, least. Have you ever been in a flame war online? C'mon, admit it: You have. So tell me something- doesn't the idiocy of the opposition get exacerbated by poor grammar, punctuation, etc.? This ad falls victim to that: "Aunties," it's missing its apostrophe. And only makes me hate this thing more. 

*It was hella hard to find pics that didn't look borderline pornographic of some of these women- which proves my point, I think.

^It would depend on the aunt giving me the advice. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Riddle Me This...

I'm not this guy, so I'm sorry it isn't more cryptic.


I'm guessing all of the stress made my immune system weak. It hurts.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Well I Guess This Is Growing Up

In the car with my roommie and another friend today, we started talking about how none of us feel like we're "real adults" yet. I had chocolate milk two nights ago at 10pm, because I'm at least living pseudo-independently and can get away with that shit. Observe:

That mug was from the school at which I worked, officially for two years after undergrad, and the four years I was earning my bachelor's. I think the image is pretty symbolic. I loved undergraduate school, and those two years working in the special education room at Green Park remain to this day the two happiest of my life. I was young, safe, and loved, was doing something I could be proud of, and I had my future ahead of me. The world was my oyster, and I had the freedom to hang out at the local coffee shop and game store, visit friends in the evenings and on weekends, call my mom whenever I wanted, and even had an okay amount of personal spending money.

But the conditions were unsustainable. The job not only paid next-to-nothing, but it also had no chance at actual advancement, just a few pay raises that it would take me over twenty years to max out on. The only reason I could afford to live in Walla Walla like that was because I was living in the basement of a family (a family I frequently feel more a part of than my own at this point, to be brutally honest), and they were charging me next-to-nothing. And let's not forget I want a family of my own- I'd never be able to live independently on the income I was making, let alone have the ability to support anyone else. My coworkers at higher paygrades than me either had spouses making bank, lived in houses owned by their parents, or were on food stamps and constantly struggling too make  it to the end of the month.

Plus, working in a school, all the men I was meeting were over twice my age and married with children. Yeah.

So I knew I'd have to jump ship, and I did. And I'm here and more miserable than I've ever been in my entire life- it's a complete 180. I have none of the freedom I used to- when I see friends, it's not nearly as relaxed as before, I never don't have work to do, I hardly ever get to call my mom, and I have no local place I can just go and chillax and unwind. But I'm here because it's stable and I don't really have any other options. Moving back to Walla Walla  (that family has offered more than once to take me in again) is a way to escape,  but I'd be stepping backward, not forward. Moving back in with my biological family would eliminate any chance I have at independence or freedom for the rest of my life. 

People grow up in different ways, in different areas of their life that can be mutually exclusive from one another. My love of chocolate milk will never fade, but I realize drinking it all the time, as much as I want to, is terrible.

The way things in my family started to spiral downward in fifth grade caused me to "grow up" in a few ways far earlier than I should have. I took on a lot of nurturing and caregiving responsibilities toward my other siblings- when Mom and Dad just couldn't do it, I'd make dinner, clean, and dress and care for the young-uns. I'd corral everyone into my room if the 'rents were fighting (I did have help from our boxer, Indiana Jones, though, heh). I provided the emotional stability and support my mom was lacking after the deaths of her mother and best (and only) friend- at both of those funerals, my older sister and mom had their heads on either of my shoulders, and I was ten for Grandma's, twelve for my mom's friend's.

Now don't get me wrong. I never felt unloved. I just took responsibility for things that needed it. I still know my mom and siblings love me as much as possible. But now that I get relief from the pressure of the responsibility when I'm away from the family, I realize how much and how heavy it actually is. 

Owning up to the reality of a situation is an adult thing to do. That's not just admitting when things are bad and need improvement- that's also admitting that however good things are, it's not good for you. That's why leaving Washington, although extremely painful, hard, and sad, was the grown-up thing to do, and why going back there would be a regression. It's grown-up of me to realize I probably need to get out of here, but I'm not sure if it's mature to wait until I have something steady on which I can rely when I leave, or if it's cowardly and immature.

Getting River may have been for slightly selfish, immature reasons (I want unconditional love, and a warm presence when I'm going to sleep and waking up), but taking her outside  before I even go to the bathroom myself in the morning because she needs to go, declining on going out in order to go home and be with her, holding her until she calms down- those are grown-up things to do. I'd be immature if I just told her to wait, or went out anyway, or just yelled for her to shut up (or, perish the thought, hit her). 

And let me pontificate about what "immaturity" really means. Because I think there's a common misconception that liking nerdy things, like video games, comics, or The Doctor, is immature. I fundamentally disagree. I don't think it's hobbies themselves that make a person immature, it's what they do with them. It may be a little socially strange to collect porcelain unicorns at age fifty, but if all they do is sit in glass cases, who is it hurting? Nobody. I play video games, but that doesn't mean I act like I'm ten (all the time- I do sometimes have the humor of a ten-year-old-boy and snortle when someone says "balls," but who doesn't?).

I think growing up is being able to see a situation from an "adult" perspective and make an "adult" decision about it. Usually, the "adult" thing to do is the hard one- not always, but often. It's the uncomfortable one.


There are always matter of the heart. I'm terrible with  those, and I never know if I'm being smart or stupid about a given emotional entanglement. whether it's romantic or platonic. And as much as I hate that about myself and wish I could change it, I can't. So I at least try to act like a grownup whenever I'm in a rough emotional situation.

But I have some decisions to make soon. About myself, about some of the people to which I'm connected, about what I want for my future, about what I need for it, for my health (emotional and physical). About what River needs. About lots of things.

But right now, I'm living in a world of privilege- I'm typing this on a new laptop with  my PS3 paused, in an apartment I share with someone I'd take a bullet for, with the love of my life asleep between my knees (snoring, the little angel), and I know when the next paycheck is coming. So hard to give that up. But is this for me? Am I really getting what I want here?

I need to figure these questions out, and answer them maturely. Then maybe I'll start feeling like a grownup.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I Hate April Fools Day

And to elucidate why, I'm going to just give you a run-down of my day yesterday.

I got up and walked River first thing, then got some work done- what else is new, right? Well, actually, that latter part- my mornings are usually entirely unproductive, so the fact that I sent five important emails, and made a Facebook event for one of the lectures I'm putting on and sent a Tweet about it, and re-Tweeted said Tweet on my own Twitter (God, I hate the language of the Internet sometimes, SMH), that's pretty fucking fabulous.

But anyhoo, I digress.

So I also went and snatched a package from the leasing office and paid my rent. Whilst there, I informed the ladies working there that on Friday, my awesome roommie was vandalized and thieved- her clothes had been taken out of the washing machine for our building and scattered all about the laundry room, and her hamper was stolen. All this while they left her huge, Sam's Club sized tub of laundry soap just sitting there. So was it a prank? Meh, doesn't matter, that's an asshole thing to do.

But while one of the gals working in there was really concerned about it, the other was seemingly annoyed that I'd have the audacity to inform them that there's someone filching things from the laundry room on the property she's supposed to be managing. I could call the cops, but they won't do anything, she said; My roommate should just be more careful with her stuff, she said; It's a shame, but what are you gonna do, she said. The other gal seemed appalled by this behavior, but, well, what could either of us do about that? The one being all shoulder-shrug-ee about it was the boss.

So then I opened the package once I got home, and it was filled with pieces of what looked like bone, made out of resin.

Wait, what?

Yeah, they definitely looked kind of like bone. Wait, no- antlers. Yeah.

What. The. Fuck.

And the address and name were entirely correct. So I looked in the package and found a very sweet little "thanks for shopping with me" slip that had an email address on it, as well as the name of the business (which confirmed the antler thing). I looked at my bank account and saw nothing from them in it when checking the last three months (although I did see that someone in Vegas bought makeup at Ulta... Mom...).

Now this was getting slightly creepy. 

"What uninformed friend would send you antlers, Gab?" my roommie asked. Fuck if I know.

As it had originally arrived April 1st, I thought mayhap it had been some sort of bizarre April Fool's joke. But I emailed the owner of the business, suggesting maybe it had been a gift, etc., and didn't hear back from him before hopping on the bus to campus. My first stop there was to the undergrad library (GULP) to do some color printing of posters for the lecture today. I should have done this last week, but health and that personal crap got in the way, so I decided it'd be best to just print one for each elevator in my building, as well as my own office door. To my chagrin, though, the computer took almost eight minutes to finally be able to handle Firefox (I know this because I got through two distinct songs on the album I had going on my MP3 player, and they run just shy of eight minutes together). So it took me way longer than anticipated to get that done.

Of course, I forgot my phone, so I had to borrow one from an officemate (and BFF) to order the pizzas for the lecture today. Eighteen. Sigh. It's always hard not to eat them, because I'm in love with pizza and it's there... but I always get a swanky dinner after the lecture (like the main perk I get from this gig- I'd get more out of it if I was an environmental policy person, not a social policy one). So I'd just embarrass myself if I took any. Plus, we usually run out, so yeah.

Then as I was actually putting those posters up, I got hit with a wave of ickiness and realized I was cramping. And the day I had another appointment, of all days... But I got the posters up, then dicked around on a lab computer until I needed to go meet a friend that was kind enough to take me to my appointment.

On the way to our designated meeting spot, I come across a dollar bill, folded in half (hamburger style) on the ground. Hm, that's strange, there are two bros right there. I ask them if it was theirs, they say no, looks like it's mine now. Well, okay. So I pick it up and start to walk again. But I notice it feels off- heavy, like there's something inside it. I feel it a bit with my thumb and notice it's a bit cold and has some sort of round shape. Indeed, something's in there. Gum? I squish and BOY DOES IT SQUISH. Out oozes something soft and brown that smells.

Yes. Shit. The dollar had a dollop of feces in it. 

I turn in panic and notice the two bros are chucking and staring at me. 

And I'm so embarrassed, I toss the dollar into some bushes and run, crying, into the nearest building to wash my hands.

Why the fuck is that funny? That's terrible and mean and cruel.

The friend I met up with also feels the same about Arpil Fool's Day. She even posted something about it on her FB, to which a few people responded with what comes down to, "If they're being an asshole, they're doing it wrong." She also pointed out that people like her (and myself) are highly susceptible to it because we're usually extremely trusting, almost to a fault. So if someone tells her she can get a free puppy, she's not going to think of the fact that it's April Fool's Day, she's going to call the number after discussing it ad nauseum with her fiance; and she's going to be really hurt and upset when the guy that answers the phone says some of his friends put up a fake sign with his number as a means of pranking him, never mind what it would do to people like my friend that genuinely wanted a dog. (And yes, I'm paraphrasing something she ended up telling me.) So she and I ranted about this a bit together when we got on the bus and went to her apartment. I then hung out with her and the two other people in her relationship for a few hours. But the whole time, the shit thing and the story she told me and some of my past experiences with April Fool's Day were bubbling in my head. I couldn't even watch Buffy all that enthusiastically.

My problem is that April Fool's Day isn't really about "jokes." It's just an excuse to be an asshole, so those people aren't really doing it wrong- and, actually, what's the "it" in the first place? April Fool's Day is a "holiday" for making rude behavior and pranking socially acceptable  People can let their inner fucktwat out by using "APRIL FOOLS!" as a disclaimer. It gives people with a propensity to troll have a shield behind which they can troll even more openly. And it makes people think being offensive is okay. That people are overreacting or "have no sense of humor" if they do get hurt or upset. And then those assholes doing the "pranks" make that person feel bad for being hurt.

When I was a senior at my undergrad, our school paper put an April Fools Day insert in. It was meant as satire, as a joke, but it was offensive. Because the main headline was a fictional story about how a (fake) local tribe kidnapped the college's president (a dude I was already on a first-name basis, let me say) and held him hostage in his office, demanding their lands back. There were statistics about scalpings, and a photoshopped picture of that same college president in a hugeass, stereotypical headdress, beside a bunch of very stereotypical dudes like this*:

It caused a huge stir, and I led the assault through letters to the editor, speeches on the floor of our student Senate, and meetings with various administration members. All the while, the editors and writers of the paper claimed "SATIRE! APRIL FOOLS! Don't you get the joke? No? Then you're just a prissy little prat. You have no sense of humor. And you should apologize to me for accusing me of being mean to you." The President wrote his own letter to them, and so did their own adviser, a personal friend of mine through our work with the first-generation/working-class organization on campus, too. In the end, I made a lot of enemies for it- I was still getting rude emails when my mom got into town to see me walk for graduation, and as recently as three years ago, someone I graduated with referenced it in a very snarky, snide way in their blog (something like, "And don't worry, no Native Americans were in any way objectified or hurt in the writing of this post, [insert my full name here]."). I saw it as standing up to a bunch of white trust fund babies that used April Fools Day as an excuse to make racist jokes at the expense of my people, while they saw it as a bully with no sense of humor demanding a school paper be censored ala George Orwell or some shit. 

I hate April Fool's Day because it's a means of legitimizing laughing at, not with, others. It's used as an excuse to hurt people.

Now, okay, I'll say that I'm cool with little jokes on April Fool's Day, mostly harmless stuff like when Google made it so you couldn't click on anything a few years ago, or the way Overthinkingit goes to Underthinkingit for the day. But nothing at the expense of others is okay. It should be laughing with, not at, each other. Any jokes on April Fool's Day should be no more extreme than anything you'd do on any other day- which, yeah, defeats the purpose, but then I ask you to ask yourself, what IS the purpose, then, other than to hurt people and point and laugh at them as they suffer? 

But I'll end on this: I got an email back from that business owner. Turns out, the antler pieces are real- they're chew toys for River that my older sis sent me as a gift, since I was telling her how River destroys supposedly indestructible toys in a few minutes, and her own dog loves these things and is a chewer of the same caliber. They come from this website, here. Very nice guy, and I got warm fuzzies when I realized it truly is a totally private business, and just LOOK AT THAT DOG ON THE HOMEPAGE!

So it wasn't a weird April Fool's joke. And that would have been okay, because that's not really mean, just weird. But instead, it was a nice gesture from the sister to which I wish I was closer.

But my roommate's laundry basket, while that wasn't on April 1st, that's still an asshole thing (and the fact that it being a prank was suggested by the office worker speaks volumes).

Putting shit in a dollar bill the day after April Fool's Day proves you're a sadistic asshole that needs have his balls put in a toaster. And laughing at the person that finds it proves you should then be forced to eat them.

*Not to say headdresses are entirely illegitimate- rather, in the context, they were obviously going for the huge, telling image, one more akin to this  or this, rather than anything remotely culturally sensitive.