A Quick Question

It never fails: Every time I see a discussion of SNAP on my news feed, I jump into the fray. The discussions are always the same–it’s always about the people who abuse the program. As if it’s rampant. As if the SNAP program doesn’t have one of the lowest rates of abuse of all the the myriad social assistant programs.

There is always at least one person talking about this person that they know that is abusing the program, usually by selling their benefits to buy drugs.

My question is, why do these stories never end with “…so I reported them for it, and the person got their SNAP card taken away. They’re now in rehab, and the person that kept buying their food stamps got hit with a nice, big fine.”?

Hmm.

Answers From a Millennial: Why Don’t You Just Move?

I’ve seen this question a lot lately. In the comments of every article discussing the challenges my generation faces, people ask: why don’t you just move? Why don’t you just follow the jobs? Bonus points if the commenter is or knows someone who’s done it and is making six figures and Everything Is Awesome!

I can answer that question, or at least part of it.

In my last year of undergrad, I asked myself a lot of questions. I had a lot of decisions to make. What was I going to do? Where was I going to live? What sort of job should I look for? Big questions, with big answers.

I wanted to do something I loved. (What, exactly?) I wanted to live in a beautiful city. (Which city?) I wanted a job that had something to do with one or both or the areas I spent four years studying. (What job?)

Four years previously, I asked and answered similar questions. I could have gone to school anywhere in the world. Why Western Kentucky University? Ultimately, the answers to those questions were similar to and influenced the questions I asked myself four years later.

My family. I love my family, and I wanted them to be a part of my life. I was there the day my nephew was born– and I wanted to keep being there.

My city. Louisville is not only my hometown, but it’s also a great city. I’ve done some traveling–and Louisville is still the best.

You don’t have to tell a Millennial that a good job is important. We know. Some of us need that fresh start that moving to a new place for a job provides. But overall, my generation isn’t one to simply accept the world as it is and mold ourselves to it. We’re aiming higher. We’re going to change the world. And what better place to start than right at home? What better place to make a big change, to start a business, to do Something Good, than the place we know as well as we know ourselves, the place with our support network?

Home.

We know what’s important. We’re not a generation that’s going to run all over the globe chasing dollars. Dollars help things, as we are well aware–having gone without–but what we’re going to do is more in line with the dreams and idealism Millennials are also known and criticized for.

Dreams start small, and they grow–and they start at home.

Clinic Escorting, Week Two

Today was my second time escorting at the clinic. The first time, I was surprised at how calm I was. It reminded me of the state I’d felt after meditation. It wasn’t quite the same this morning, though I’m still finding it difficult to describe and express, which is why there wasn’t a post about my first time.

I stood at the property line at the edge of the sidewalk, part of a human wall blocking the antis. If there’s not a client around to chase and harass, the antis get bored and try to engage us. Any sort of boundaries or civility do not apply.

Blocking them was like a dance. Shaming, cajoling, lecturing, and preaching wasn’t enough. They wanted to be in the client’s face, in their personal space, with eye contact. The antis would shift sideways to try to look over my shoulder, or tiptoe to look over my head, and I’d match their movements. We’d dance for a while, until they either gave up and went elsewhere, or decided to address me.

I discovered two weeks ago that the best facial expression to use with the antis is the thousand yard stare, combined with a sort of pleasant expression, and a slight, arrogant smirk. It’s a trifecta of contradictions. Open, closed off, and you’re full of shit all at the same time. It grabs their attention, and frustrates them, because they want me to engage, but I don’t. I’ve not spoken a word to the antis, and they want me to–because I’m new, and they know it.

My smirk prompted my frustrated dance partner to say, “you’re too young to be so cold. I can see it in your face. You’re cold-hearted.” I had to suppress the urge to laugh, and burst out singing that Jet song. My lips twitched, and she gave up and walked away.

The antis throw out a lot of names. Murderer, coward, wuss. They particularly like to holler at the male companions of the clients, telling them to “be a man” and “don’t be a wuss.”

At some point, the same anti told another escort that WE were violating the FACE Act (by blocking them from crossing the property line). I had to laugh at that one. I’m guessing the only thing she knows about that legislation is the title. Freedom of Access to Clnic Entrances Act. It’s freedom of access for clients, not protestors. Whoops.

So far, what I’ve seen is only in front of the clinic–I haven’t shadowed any escorts yet. So I haven’t had anyone try to trip me, or elbow me in the ribs. “Just” people getting in my face.

Just? Just.

One of the reasons it’s taken me so long to go down there is I just wasn’t sure how I would react to all of this. I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t lose my temper when say, an anti got in my face. Because honestly, who wouldn’t go off on someone running their mouth about you, four inches from your face?

But the sidewalk in front of the women’s clinic is a different world. Like I said, basic rules of boundaries and civility do not apply. The antis have an entitlement complex. The antis want everyone to do exactly what they want, and if you do anything but comply, it is totally okay to them, for them, to get in people’s faces, to insult, push, intimidate, harass, and tell personal stories about other people to everyone on the street.

The sidewalk, for me, is the only place where I allow such bullshit to go unanswered. It’s the only place where someone getting in my face and insulting me is more amusing than rage-inducing.

On the sidewalk, I am a human wall. If they’re insulting me, they’re not harassing a client. With my body, I’m denying them access to clients who have no wish to engage with them. With my body, I’m blocking their snooping eyes and cameras from clients. I’m there for the clients, not for the antis. I’m there because of the antis.

As a client and her companion were nearing the line, one of the antis shouted “you don’t have to be here!” The companion shot back “you don’t have to be here, either.”

They See Me Rollin’, They Trollin’! (Fun With A Religous-flavored Troll)

So I got me a troll on an old post of mine: Why I Left Christianity: And Why I Stayed Away. I was responding on the post itself, but then I thought: why waste my fun on a post lost in my archives, and deprive everyone else of some Sunday night amusement?

FYI: The troll engaged in some righteous proselytizing and condemnations, so if you’re not up for that, come back when you’re in the right headspace to deal with it.

Ready? Here we go!

You said : “Why did I stay away from Christianity once I’d healed, adjusted to my new life, and figured out what I was going to do after high school?
Simple: Christians.”

Don’t generalize Christians and use others actions towards you to shun God.

Oh, honey. I can do whatever I want, and I shall. If the shoe fits, I will say so. Besides, if the behavior of Christians didn’t represent you, then you’d call them out on their bullshit, rather than concern troll the people Christians have hurt. Since you ARE pulling the “we’re not all like that!” card, something struck a nerve.

You may run into a few that are not of God. When you accept Jesus Christ you must understand your life is going to be difficult at times. It’s never easy for me being a Christian, I get flack from my gay friends and atheist think I’m stupid and one even made jokes at work openly but I deal with it because I understand serving Jesus and agreeing with his laws takes away alot out of my life and the world. Being a Christian in these times are NOT easy at least over here.

Jokes. Some coworker of yours makes jokes. Oh, and your gay friends call you out on your religion’s bigotry (and probably your own, too), and your atheist friends are critical of Christianity. All the tears, hon. All the tears. Matthew Shepard has nothing on you.

Where did I say you were weak? Rebellious and angry spirit against God you might have yes because things are not your way and jumping to tarot cards and other forms of spirituality looking for answers you know the answer to.

That whole “You left Christianity, but I would NEVER let anyone get between me and GAWD! thing. I’m a writer. I know how to analyze a text and pull meaning from it. Please to not be playing stupid with me.

And see, I was right. You didn’t read the post. Fail, my dear. Fail. Go back and read it again.

You need someone to tell you the truth and not sugarcoat this. I never comment but I wrote to you being in a similar situation. How can I come off so judgmental admitting to having the same feelings and experiences.

I wrote an entire series on the topic. You mentioned it in passing in your opening sentence as a lead-in to proselytizing and threats. Your comment was dripping with judgment–though I’m baffled as to why you’d think I’d care, Anonymous little Christian.

Don’t ya’ll just LOVE how this snowflake thinks she’s the first one ever to say anything like this to me? Everyone ever is just sugarcoating and lying to me. What a brave Crusader.

As for my comment on one day something bad is going to happen I am not trying to curse you if you don’t want to go to church fine, you don’t like religion practices fine nobody is forcing you you have a mind of your own. Anything God tells us is just for our own good and betterment it’s not to hurt us. We as Christians just care because we know the end result living that life and turning away.

I don’t believe in curses–at least the sort you’re referring to here. I’m a big fan of fuck. It’s a very versatile word, and it has such power. Makes everybody pay attention, don’t you think?

Wait. Are you claiming to speak for your god, here? Big step, little troll. Big step.

I do care about your soul and see myself in you a little bit and don’t want to see you fall into Satan’s grip. Again I am not trying to make a “come to Jesus” moment just rethink real hard about that decision because did you really love God or just wanted to use Him for your personal gain? What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul? Remember the key is all this is temporary and one day everyone will have to answer Him. Also checkout Romans 1:28 on depraved minds, peace.

Yeah, that little girl-child was totes out to use god for her own gain. I mean, how else was she gonna get to stay up past her bedtime?

I am DEPRAVED, YA’LL. How depraved do you think I am?

I am a Teacher

I’ve been asked many times over the years why I don’t teach. And what they’re referring to, is teaching in a formal educational institute. A teacher at a school. A teacher who gets paid to school pupils on subjects like English, history, politics. I would be good at it, they say. And they’re right. I would be. I have taught–I have been a teacher in formal educational environments. I started teaching at a much younger age than the vast majority of teachers.

I was nine when I became a teacher. My mother chose to homeschool my younger brother and I when I started the fourth grade. But soon after that, there was an accident. My mother was trampled by a horse, and her back was broken. She was bedridden for months, and in addition to being her caretaker during the day, I also took over homeschooling my younger brother. I was good at it, considering my age, maturity, other responsibilities, and the limitations imposed by age, lack of resources, and other responsibilities.

I taught at church–Vacation Bible School during the summers. The four and five year olds were put together in one class, and I was in charge of the four year olds.

I taught in Civil Air Patrol–training cadets in leadership, drill and ceremonies, military customs and courtesies, military history, and other subjects.

By the time I gained my majority, before many of my peers who are now professional teachers began their education and training to become teachers, I had been a teacher for many years.

When people ask me that question–why don’t I teach–I usually brush it off with a joke, along the lines of it not being my thing, or that I had already had my fill of teaching. It’s simpler that way.

But the truth is, I am a teacher. I learned many, many lessons in my time as a cadet in Civil Air Patrol, but one of the lessons that I have carried with me is this: I am a leader. I am a representative [of Civil Air Patrol]. People are always watching, whether or not you are formally representing [Civil Air Patrol]. People will judge the merits and value of [Civil Air Patrol] by your speech, your behavior, and your values.

I am no longer a member of Civil Air Patrol (for now) but I am a leader. I represent my values, my beliefs, my education by my speech and actions.

There are two kinds of leaders: what I call “go ahead” leaders, and “follow me” leaders. I am a “follow me” leader. I lead by example. I don’t expect anything from others that I don’t also expect from myself. I don’t give myself passes or empathy that I wouldn’t also give to others.

I am also a teacher. At the moment, I do not teach in any formal environment, but I will always be a teacher. Teachers and leaders are one and the same.

The only difference is, some of us get paid to do so, and others don’t.

Ableist Gif! They’re like, so original and shit.

I came across this little gif in my feed today.

It irritated the fuck out of me. My response?

“Yeah, back in the day they used to think epilepsy was demonic possession, too.”

I cannot tell you how much that “Back in my day…” crap makes me twitch. Throw in some ableism, and I’m ready to go ALL CAPS on my facebook feed.

Kentucky Senate Seat up for Grabs in 2014?

Kentucky has gotten a lot of attention recently because of Mitch McConnell’s freak out at the rumors of Ashley Judd running against him in 2014. Honestly, the entire debacle has been very amusing to me. Though, in the past couple of weeks, there has been a lot of backlash from Democrats inside and outside of the state. Their reaction can be summed up like this:

“Seriously, Kentucky? For the first time Mitch McConnell is worried about reelection, and you’ve chosen an actress to run against him? You’re making fools out of yourself–be serious!”

And that annoys me.

No, we haven’t chosen an actress to run against the heretofore impossible-to-beat incumbent. You’re taking it as seriously as Mitch McConnell, and you’re taking all the fun out of this situation.

Pay attention: McConnell has been the heretofore impossible-to-beat incumbent, and he’s freaking the fuck out right now. McConnell has been a pain in the country’s ass for years now–can you step back for a second and try to imagine how it might be to have this PITA as one of your Senators? Just imagine for a few seconds, I’ll wait.

Got it? Okay.

Now. Stay with me here. Basketball is a really big deal in Kentucky. The NCAA basketball tournament is like a month-long holiday in Kentucky. In Kentucky, you’re either a Cardinals fan, or a Wildcats fan. You’re either Blue, or Red. Ashley Judd is a Wildcats fan. That’s a big deal. A celebrity, or anyone who is a Big Deal jumps into the UK vs UL fandom becomes part of the family. They’ve become one of us. Judd regularly attends UK games. So, the UK half of Kentucky kind of loves Ashley Judd. She’s a Big Deal, and she Gets It. Validation and all that.

Now.

A member of the Kentucky collective, messing with the head of the likes of Mitch McConnell, a guy who holds a lot of power, but does nothing for Kentucky? Who has embarrassed us on the national and international stage? We love it. Think of it as a grown-up pranking that mean old guy in the neighborhood who’s constantly harassing all of the neighborhood kids, while all of the kids are there to see. It’s hilarious. Vindication. It kind of makes your year.

Will Ashley Judd actually run? Don’t know. We don’t really care at the moment. We’re too busy soaking up the glory that is McConnell realizing he could lose his job, his power, and his gravy train, that he’s been milking at Kentucky’s expense.

So, naysayers. Be quiet for a moment. We’ve been waiting a long time for this. Don’t ruin the moment.

Writing About Writing

I’ve been gone for so long–I can hardly believe it! Here’s what happened: I burnt out.

Its common in writers and activists, and I consider myself both. I was working on night shift, and desperately trying to be a “productive” writer, and trying to have a social life and a relationship with my family, the latter two being extremely difficult to do when working night shift. I was so tired, so very tired. Need I mention how exhausting it is to care, and to participate in political activism in the current climate of “fuck everything and everybody, me and mine got ours” in the Republican Party? Something had to give.

Then I moved to day shift. I decided I wanted to transcribe my writing journals onto my laptop–most of my novel(s) draft are in those notebooks. I wanted to see what I had. The problem was, it was too much like my data entry job. I felt like I was working the same job night and day. I hated it–I wanted to get shit done, I wanted to be productive (seeing a pattern here?) and, for some odd reason, I felt like I needed to complete that writing project before I moved to another. The result was obvious–I didn’t write.

I missed it. So very much. But. I’m a stubborn lady.

It was a cycle, a very long and unproductive cycle. Not to mention not very pleasant, eh? I don’t know about you, but when I go for a long period of time without writing, I have a bit of an identity crisis. I do believe I won the argument with what Captain Awkward calls my jerkbrain that I am, indeed, allowed to call myself a writer when I haven’t written anything for a while.

 

And with that, I am ending the cycle of not-writing. I miss seeing my novel come to life on the page in front of me, and I very much miss blogging. I’ve been around, of course, but being a lurker/occasional commenter is not the same as Being a Blogger.

 

What I know I need to do is stop with these arbitrary restrictions I place on myself. The whole “I need to do this, and then I’m allowed to write” was so not helpful. So in addition to a dead blog coming back to life, I’m expanding the number of topics I’m going to be covering here. Don’t ask, I don’t know yet. All I know is, I’m sitting in a booth at Buffalo Wild Wings, writing on a friend’s iPad, because my muse demanded I write.

And you know what? It feels good.

McConnell Needs to Go in 2014

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” –Senator Mitch McConnell, 23 October 2010

With this statement, Senator McConnell rewrote his own job description from that of a United States Senator representing the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, to a hard-nosed ideologue intent on a solitary goal of ending another man’s political career.

Two years and hundreds of filibusters later, the President wins his bid for reelection, by a landslide.

What does Senator “one-term” McConnell have to say about that?

“The American people did two things: they gave President Obama a second chance to fix the problems that even he admits he failed to solve during his first four years in office, and they preserved Republican control of the House of Representatives,” McConnell said in a statement. “The voters have not endorsed the failures or excesses of the President’s first term, they have simply given him more time to finish the job they asked him to do together with a Congress that restored balance to Washington after two years of one-party control.” –Senator McConnell

You see what he did there? Senator McConnell is pretending that the record number of filibusters he and his party orchestrated, even on legislation that they agreed with, is a personal failure of President Barack Obama.

The lack of productivity in the Senate for the past four years is a failure of Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party, not President Barack Obama.

Take a look at this handy chart, that lays out exactly who has filibustered in the Senate the most, by number and by percentage. At the top of the chart? Republican after Republican, after Republican. If your Senators are on the top half of this list, you should be angry. Very angry.

Filibustering is refusing to debate. It is refusing to vote. It is refusing to allow anyone to debate or vote–per Senate rules, sixty Senators must vote to overrule a single, anonymous Senator who may filibuster a bill, then waltz out of the Chamber, off into the city. A filibuster, under current rules, does not require a Senator to hold the floor. It does not require that one, single Senator to even be in the building.

If one or both of your Senators are on the top half of this list, your hired representatives are refusing to do their jobs.

Just think a second: what would happen if you decided you left an anonymous note on your boss’ desk saying that you didn’t feel like working that day, then walked out? I’d be written up, docked points, and fired.

There hasn’t been balance in Congress since President Obama was elected in 2008, and that’s because the vast majority of the Republican Party has been refusing to do their jobs.

Mitch McConnell is the orchestrator of this collective tantrum, and as a resident of Kentucky, I am angry. Rand Paul, my other Senator, has refused to work over eighty percent of his short time in the Capital. I am very angry. My state has no voice in the Senate. None. Kentucky’s representatives in the Senate anonymously protest, then run off into the city to do whatever it is old white men do in Washington D.C.

Kentucky, we have two more years until Mitch McConnell is up for reelection. And you know what? I’m angry enough that I’d consider running against him myself–but I don’t meet the minimum age requirement, and I won’t meet it in two years, either. So to anyone considering running against Mitch in 2014? Consider this as my letter of interest.

Costume Shopping? Ugh.

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I LOVE dressing up.

However, every year, I learn again just how much a pain in the arse costume shopping is. Seriously, just once, I’d like to walk into a costume shop and discover that all the women’s costumes lacked the “sexy” label.

“What’s wrong with dressing sexy?” a male friend asked.

“Nothing,” I responded. “But I’d rather not spend my favorite holiday tucking boobs back in, and tugging the dress down over my butt.”

That, my friends, is the crux of it.

I want to wear an awesome, well-made costume that is work appropriate. But I’d be willing to sacrifice the “well-made” part if it meant I didn’t spend weeks searching multiple stores and dozens of websites to find what I want at a decent price.

This year? I decided I wanted to be Captain Kathryn Janeway, of the Federation starship Voyager.

Once I decided, I was positively giddy with excitement. I’ve got the lipstick, I can manage the bob, and I’ve got a couple of pairs of boots that’ll work. Now! To find the costume itself.

It shouldn’t be too difficult, I told myself. After all, Star Trek has a huge fandom, and certainly there must be cosplay sites that sell the uniforms, right? And mainstream halloween sites should have them too, right?

Snort. Stare.

Now, while I have found this awesome t-shirt that I absolutely will get soonest, I have emphatically not had the easy time I thought I’d have finding the version of the Starfleet uniform that is worn in Voyager.

In fact, the vast majority of Star Trek costumes I’ve found in the women’s department have been variations on this. Lieutenant Uhura’s costume in the original series: the miniskirt dress.

The rest? The uniforms of operations officers and medical staff. And a Klingon woman. Not a command/bridge staff uniform in sight, save for the miniskirt dress. Call me paranoid, but doesn’t that seem funny to you? A little off?

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