Friday, October 31, 2008

Jim Wallis's commentary

Now I always say no more politics on my blog, but then I go and do it anyway. I'm hopeless.

My dad (who rocks, BTW) recently sent this via email, and I kinda liked it. So I thought I'd link to it, too. Why not? No matter what happens next week, I hope all sides can agree that we should not use fear or hate to persuade people. It's too easy, too shallow, and too far beneath our standards.

End of rant. Read the link. :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Warm fuzzy photo

(Taken from a fun site:

I don't think a photo should sway anyone's vote, but I dare you to tell me this photo isn't the freaking sweetest thing you'll see today. I actually cried a little...though actually that means pretty little, given that I cry all the time. Whatev.

Just look at it. I dare you not to be touched a little bit. I double dog dare you.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Point of comparison

So, while I deal with my own little crazies I came to a realization, and it is this: my failures are my own, and I will not blame others--either particular others or generalized, societal others.

I truly believe that people are generally cruel and competitive--no other animal destroys its own like the human animal. If other animals could talk, they would tell us that they hate us, and they think we suck. Even the crazy mean animals would say that. We are (to quote Perry Cox on Scrubs) "bastard coated bastards with bastard fillings." So that's the sunshiny outlook that underpins my personality. Nice, huh?

So. These past few weeks, I have noticed plenty of people who play up on this idea. These people live up the idea that they are victims of this world--of oppression, suppression, etc etc. And, yeah. Society's like that. Our history is not about helping others up, but about finding others to tear down--in the name of god, country, or moral/intellectual superiority. Every time we stop oppressing one group, we find another group to oppress. Or at least we find new ways of oppressing the same groups. We're so effing clever that way.

But what I have come to realize is that people actually like to use this cruelty as an excuse for not succeeding or for being douchebags. They argue that their failures and attitude problems are out of their control--it's because people are cruel and oppressing. And I realized that that's not completely okay with me. I am sensitive to the fact that people are continually marginalized in our society, but what better way to shove their crap right back in their faces than by succeeding and being a rockstar of a person?

I realize that by doing this, I risk seeming insensitive to the oppression of others, but the reality is far from it. I'm entirely sensitive to that. I feel like shit about how my race has treated people of other races. I feel like whites have a lot more to account for before true equality can be reached. But at the same time, I don't think it's helpful for anyone to give those in power MORE power by accepting their oppression and making it so central a part of their identity. That's ultimately what moved me from strident feminist to normal feminist. I realized that the far-out feminists were only giving power back to the "white male" by telling them how powerful they were at our expense.

What better way of telling them to stick it than by saying, "Your power over me is not that important to me. I acknowledge it exists. I think you suck for using it. I think you've always sucked for using it. But I'm not going to let you tell me what to be. I'm not going to let your bullshit determine my successes. So screw you."

Playing the victim will not get us past anything. Acknowledging the unfairness and giving it the old finger might. So while I deal with my insecurities, I feel some comfort in the knowledge that I take personal responsibility for them. The cruel human race has played a role in shaping who I am, but I'm not about to let them tell me it's right that I dislike myself, or that they have the power to continue their oppression on me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Little thing...

So there was a dumb little moment in my day that made me think about how seldom I enjoy little things. I was heading to the bathroom at work--that's not the aforementioned little thing, though I do enjoy a nice tinkle--and there were two girls walking down the hall.

They were enjoying their conversation. As they got to the stairs, one girl asked where the other was going. The second girl said she was going home. So the first girl said, "Hey, do you want to walk together?" The second girl said, "YEAH!!!" in the most excited voice imaginable. That girl was living in the moment, man. She was All. About. Walking home with her bud. I loved that moment, for its meaningfulness in its relative meaninglessness. I need to be more excited about things. Even the little things like walking with a friend.

Did I learn a tiny moral lesson today? YEAH!!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Figuring Me Out

I've been trying to figure out the root of my insecurities. Easy task. Ought to just take an hour or two, right? Yes. Right.

The first thing I did was think about the moments when I felt least secure and most scared. The second moment that came to my brain was the day I was leaning against the brick wall of the old school near my 6th-grade building. It was recess, and I was watching the class nerd being teased by her classmates. They were pretending to be her friend, and she was taking the bait. Really, really taking the bait. She thought they were her buddies, though it was obvious to the rest of us that it was all a bust.

I was feeling bad for this girl for not getting the fact that she was the butt of the joke. Then I got one of those sucker-punch feelings. A series of memories from my previous elementary school in a different town rushed through my brain. I remembered the time Brenda pretended to be my friend for several days, then one day suddenly laughed at me for thinking we could play together at recess...laughed at me along with the "popular" girls who had not been her friends the day before. I thought of the very very cold morning during safety patrol when no one would relieve me so I could go in to warm up--they relieved the other person out there with me several times, but not me. When I went inside at the end of patrol, they all laughed at me. I remembered the time when I gave a small report in front of the class and they laughed at me for reasons I could not figure out.

As I watched my 6th-grade classmate being mocked without realizing it, I figured it all out. That girl was me. I had been that girl at my old elementary school--the butt of the joke. Not once, but repeatedly. And like the 6th-grade girl, I had not known. I had not suspected my role was the class dork to be laughed at. It made me sick to my stomach when I realized it. What a dupe I had been.

I was now a new girl in a new school, trying to find my place in a new place, all while adolescence loomed. And all I could ever think about was, "Am I going to be that girl again? How can I prevent myself from being that girl again?" My primary strategy became to doubt everyone. Every kind gesture was suspect. Every attempt to be friendly was seen as a ruse to mock me when I wasn't looking. I was friends with my (still very good) friends for about four years before I started to let myself believe that they might actually like me. That they weren't my friends out of pity or (worse) because they needed someone to laugh at and make fun of.

I grew out of adolescence, and some of that paranoia, too. But it lingers. Since that 6th-grade memory came to me earlier this week, I have been listening carefully to myself as I interact with people. And, boy does it linger. I doubt without even fully realizing it. I question every motive, and I doubt every act of kindness, every compliment, every laugh. Even among people I know care about me--my family. I wonder whether they think I'm a loser, too. That's probably not okay, huh?

Probably not.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I am not a conspiracy theorist!!

But the problem is that I have to keep telling myself that lately, because it's harder and harder to believe it. I watch the news, read the news, and hear stories about things happening in our world that make me feel like one.

There are increasing signs of unfettered rage in the political world. Shouts at political rallies of "Kill him!" and "He's a terrorist!" and "He's an Arab!" are coming out of the mouths of citizens of America. We have always had our share of zealots and crazies, but this kind of mob mentality is something our history books (smugly and self-righteously) told us was the stuff of lesser nations.

I'm scared of mobs. I've seen and read about what they can do. The only thing that scares me more than mobs? The martial law that follows. The kind of law that beats people down, doesn't pick them up, and scares everyone else into toeing the line and participating in further crimes against humanity.

I read a book called "The End of America" that described the easy descent into fascism and police states. The author compares our current climate with the early days of the rise of Nazism. At first I thought the author was being overly dramatic, but the end of her book describes things Americans should be on the lookout for in the coming years. Guess what?

She's been right. The things she predicted would happen are happening. We are slipping into a quagmire, and my fear is that we will not pull ourselves up in time.

So when you hear the McCain campaign (particularly Sarah Palin) use folksy rhetoric to turn Barack Obama into an unhuman monster, think about that. Consider whether you want a potential president who can so glibly and whimsically tear another human being down, and in so doing incite people in a crowd to shout for blood and murder. Think about whether you want to be on the side of a campaign, and a candidate, who is willing to whip people into an emotional, and irrational, frenzy for her own political gain.

When Mussolini and Hitler did that, it was fascist. It's no different now...unless we reject it outright. McCain's attempts to calm the crowd (which was angrily booed down by the crowd) was half-hearted, given that he continues to air commercials that further the cause of violent hatred. His response does little to slow the kind of madness reverberating through his crowds.

Vote against fascism. Please, for the love of god, don't vote for fascism.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Midterm, mid-crazy

I feel as though I'm kind of losing my grip. I was told that I would very likely hit a kind of depression once I finished grad school, and I think I've made impact. I took a little online test thing through my employer, and it said, "Woah, Nelly! You've got depression." Okay, it didn't say exactly that, but yeah. Basically it did.

So I was thinking about it all day. Am I depressed? Because I feel like it's really just a more acute version of what I always feel--moments of happiness surrounded by moments of hating it all and thinking I suck and wishing I could figure out what I REALLY want to do with my life. Will I always be alone? Will I ever be happy? Blah blah blah. But if I've always had these mood swings, is it any different now? Is it worth even trying to deal with it again? Or should I wait for the downward slump to end, and the upward slope to begin?

So am I just a "depressed" person? Could I ever really be happy when I'm always so centered on not being good enough, being a failure at stuff? Is that too hard-wired in to overcome? Do I just suck it up and live with being unhappy much of the time? Because what is the alternative? I have tried "positive thinking" and all that, and it will work for awhile, but then it wears off, and the more "natural" me returns--to thinking I'm a fraud, that I'm not good enough for what I have, etc. I don't want to take meds--so what the hell can I do?

I have no reason to doubt myself, or even to really be unhappy. I have led a relatively easy life, no gigantic drama, no calamitous failures, no....real problems. So it's not like I have any real reason or "right" to be this way. But what can I do to change it? How do I rewire myself after 31 years?