Things I’ve Love Recently

Moonlight – I took myself to see this movie when E took the kids shopping before Christmas. I was prepared for it to be a heart-breaker…and it definitely made me cry…but it still had a haunting yet hopeful feeling to it. The filming was interesting as there were a lot of scenes where you followed the main character walking somewhere, and there were a LOT of close-up face shots which meant all three actors (the movie follows the main character at three different stages in his life) had to be on point with their expressions. I found it almost unsettling in it’s intimacy at times. It definitely deserves the accolades it is getting.

The OA – This is a new Netflix series that – for the record – would also be on my “Things I’ve Hate Recently”. It’s such a conflicting show because there are parts I simply ADORED and can’t stop thinking about, and then the other time I thought I was going to fall out of my chair I was rolling my eyes so hard. The relationships – the friendships between the group The OA is telling her story too and their outside lives? That was amazing. There were several small moments between all of them (I won’t spoil it) that had nothing to do with kidnapping or spirituality or anything…and those moments and stories I just loved. I loved that the sought out a trans male asian boy when that is EXACTLY what the script called for – instead of white-washing, or gender normalizing the casting which is always the “easy” move. But OH MY GOD – so many plot holes and unanswered questions and eye-rolling moments – SO MANY. The suspension of disbelief it required was almost too much at times. And I wanted more non-Prairie moments. I loved it and hated it at the same time.

Moana – I suspect I don’t have to link to that one as you all have certainly heard of it. It was lovely. It was a princess story without a love interest which I adored. It was about being strong and having Faith and it was about taking chances and it was just fantastic. Lin-Manuel Miranda did the music (who I love, of course) and I just adored it. I can’t wait to see it again.

Cards Against Humanity – Donnie, E and I played it last night after scoring it from a family Dirty Santa gathering and it was TERRIBLE and HILARIOUS all at the same time. I had to say things out loud I never EVER want to say again and had to do it in front of my KID. But we were all cracking up, it was great. I highly recommend it if you don’t mind having to say terrible things out loud.

Remember when I used to be funny?

I linked to something I wrote a long time ago recently and I thought, Damn. I used to be really funny.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. About how this place used to have a lot more goofs and a lot less pontificating on grief and politics and racism and gender norms and boob sweat.

(DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE? I STILL GOT IT.)

I guess I’ve been thinking about change in general lately. I don’t like the trope that “People Never Change” because I’ve changed in 100 different ways in my lifetime. Hell, in 2016 alone I’ve changed at least 20 different ways. This time last year I hadn’t been to therapy, I was still parenting Wesley in regard to his anger instead of his anxiety, my marriage was low on my priority list, and I was running like a crazy woman training for my first 100K.

And now? Jeezus. I don’t even know. But none of that is true anymore.

Some days I’m so proud of where I am right now. I’m a better Mom and a Wife. Since the election I’m constantly trying to soak in politics and current events and educating myself on history and racism and gender norms so that I can be in a position to speak about issues affecting marginalized communities. This makes me VERY proud. I’m glad that I’m relearning American History from non-White perspectives. I’m proud I’ve found ways to keep up with local communities I didn’t know existed before. I’m proud I’m following writers that make me uncomfortable as I confront my own privilege.

Proud.

But then other days I’m disappointed that I’m not as funny as I used to be. I know that sounds silly but this place used to be a more entertaining start to my day. And now? Well – let’s put it this way: I started 3 different blog posts this morning on the following topics:

1) Suicide
2) Racism
3) Adult Bullying

WHAT IN THE ACTUAL F*CK, KIM? Are you TRYING to depress yourself to start your day?

But then I look at the world and I think: Well. What do you expect?

I mean – there are still people in my circles that don’t believe in systemic racism. There are people who think someone who is Transgender is something to be afraid of. There are people who believe the country would be better if we applied Christian teachings and religious practices to our government. There are people who don’t believe LGBTQ people should be allowed to get married. There are people who believe that every citizen has the same opportunities to be great in this country. There are people who believe that the solution to crime and discipline is to suspend from schools and jail indefinitely. There are people who believe we should keep out anyone trying to get into our country and we should kick out everyone who isn’t a citizen, even if they’ve been here for their entire lives.

I think I worry I’ll become complacent during a Trump Presidency because the policies he campaigned on will probably not affect me. Our insurance is through our company and we have no pre-existing conditions. We’re white middle class people in a heterosexual marriage. I worry I’ll just stop paying attention because it won’t affect me and so I wake up every day and think What do I do today to stay alert? How do I listen to marginalized communities? What do I need to talk about today?

And none of that shit is funny. I mean, I am the person who could make pregnancy loss darkly humorous and yet…I can’t do shit with this.

I’m sad a lot. Not in the “needs therapy” or “needs medication” kind of way – but in the “needs to find something to hope in again” kind of way. I live in a red state run by red government and now my country is led by a red President and a red Congress and I suddenly feel like my voice and my cares are not going to be addressed at ANY level. And that is hard to wake up to every day. That is hard to laugh at.

Except in that…insanse HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!! kind of crazy way. Which, I’ll be honest, I kinda fall into every time the President Elect tweets something. I’m like HAHAHAHAHAHAHHA! He’s our President! HAHAHAHAHAH and then I go for another cookie.

I’ve gained 10lbs since the election y’all.

Now that is some funny shit, right there.

Anyway. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’m not as funny as I used to be. Part of me wants to promise you I’ll be better. But then another part of me wants to point out that there’s not a lot to laugh at lately.

(EXCEPT FOR CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE, OF COURSE.)

Thank you for hanging in there. I have found with this new since of gloom that’s descended over me that I’m desperate for more real-world socializing. I’m trying to resist the urge to text my friends and say, “PLEASE. COME EAT LUNCH WITH ME. WE ALWAYS LAUGH TOGETHER.” But that’s a good thing, me…wanting to socialize. Not with everyone. Just with people who like me even when I’m awkward.

(And now is when some of my friends who have only recently given me their cell phone numbers are thinking…Oh, shit. I hope she’s not talking about me. PLEASE DON’T TEXT ME.)

For now though, this is me, I guess. I have seen some good movies lately, and watched some weird TV (HAVE YOU SEEN THE OA YET? I LOVE IT AND HATE IT SIMULTANEOUSLY.) and listened to some great podcasts. I do plan to at least do a year-end “Things I discovered I love in 2016” post which should be way funnier than this crap.

Here’s to finding things that make us laugh. Even if it’s not on this depressing blog.

On Viral Content.

1 million years ago – before Facebook gave the average person an online presence – I wrote a blog post that got linked to from a very popular blog. At first I was super-excited about all of the new traffic to my blog. But then – something weird happened – people started going through my archives and basically just commenting on anything and everything. Now, this was not a HUGE deal, they were mostly nice comments. But it was weird. Someone linked to that one entry and now people were going through some stuff that was more personal, less edited, less thought out.

And then a few – THANK GOD ONLY A FEW – asshats come by. But they dug through my archives and just found random crappy stuff I’d written to comment on. For example, once I wrote about how sometimes my kids and I skipped bathing for a few days. It was partly truth and partly me trying to be humorous about parenting. But I got one comment that was basically, “You are a terrible Mother and are unfit for parenting. God is giving you miscarriages to keep you from having more kids.”

AND THEN! Then a hate-blog wrote about me. That was a thing then (It probably still is now, but I refuse to investigate) – hate blogs that existed solely to write terrible things about the popular bloggers like Dooce and Pioneer Woman. One of those sites wrote something about me and how gross I am for not bathing myself or my children.

I was devastated. I almost took the whole blog down. Jenny Lawson (of The Bloggess fame, but before she was EPIC-level famous) reached out to me and game me some encouraging words. I’m sure people like her were used to seeing their names on those blogs, but she knew it was a first-time for me. And it was TERRIBLE.

And this was LONG before Facebook, so the “going viral” thing only had a short reach. It basically only extended to people who read blogs. That was it. It faded fast and I went on with my life. It never happened again to that degree. A couple of years ago someone from a bigger/national platform asked if they could republish something I wrote about Thanksgiving and I said, “NO! NO! NO! NO!” Because I had NO desire to get anyone over here digging for dirt on me again and tearing up my personal space.

And again…A few weeks ago a political post I wrote and made public on Facebook so people could share started getting more shares than I expected and I got one asshat comment and CLOSED THE WHOLE THING DOWN. Nope. Not me. Please don’t let me go viral.

I got a TINY taste of it long before social networks existed and I do not want to see what that taste would be like in the days of Facebook and Twitter.

Because what happens is people start digging into your every word and online presence and while that one thing you might have done was nice, you might have said/done other things that were shitty and THAT shit will get dug up too. And the people who didn’t like that thing that went viral, will find something you did that is terrible and will try to give that the spotlight.

I tell you ALL of this because I want you to know the reality of it. Most of these “viral” things are not started by people who are web savvy and who have made sure to keep a perfect online presence. Most of them have said or done things they might do differently if they thought their lives would be put under a microscope. There was the Mom who wrote that weird letter on her blog that was something like, “Dear Girls Who Will Date My Sons” where she basically told all of these girls to quit dressing like whores. Everyone dug through her online life and found all sorts of evidence of shittiness and brought it out into the light of day for the world to see. There was that guy with the red sweater at the debate (Ken Bone? Something?) and people dug into his online life to find out he had posted some really shitty stuff on Reddit. There was that video of that Mom and her cute kid talking about Star Wars and they found the Mom’s Star Wars fanfiction/smut and she lost her job.

And then they fade. And we forget about them all. But…I’m still thinking about that ONE terrible comment, and that ONE terrible blog post 10 years ago. And I’m betting those people who were not prepared to feel the wrath of the internet feel their 100s and 1,000s of terrible comments every day. People who live their lives in the spotlight – celebrities and politicians – know not to read the comments. But the average person? Is so excited about going viral that they soak it ALL UP. They’ve not been media-trained to understand that there are millions of trolls on the internet who LIVE to upset sensitive people. I learned the hard way on a REALLY small scale.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot as the backlash aimed towards the lady who just started a Facebook group for Hillary supporters…Pantsuit Nation. That’s all she set out to do. But she hadn’t been trained with media and it looks like she suffers from white elitism (based on her selectiveness on what comments/posts were deleted) and now she’s got a book deal and PSN has turned against her. I’ve seen 5 different articles alone this morning picking apart the way she moderated that page and turning her into the Face Of What Is Wrong With White Liberalism. And maybe she is. I know I see a lot of the same attitude in our more local PSN group. But she didn’t ask for that. She just started a Facebook group that got really popular really fast and she wasn’t trained and didn’t know that her online life would be torn apart. She was probably just basking in the excitement and the spotlight. And now? Now people are leaving the group in droves and refusing to let her use their stories in her book.

I haven’t read one article about it. Because while I do believe her story is important in recognizing the effects of the Fragile White Elite Liberal and the damage that can do, I can’t be part of the wave of negativity washing her way. Whenever I notice something like this happening to an unsuspecting person, I refuse to link to any of the websites tearing the person apart, or even link to the original source. Mainly because I just imagine if it was me…and what if I just wanted off the Viral Train already. Maybe I take it all too personally.

But I do think it’s important to remember the PEOPLE behind the viral content. My post didn’t even blink compared to stuff that goes viral now, and it was TERRIBLE just because of the tiny wave of negativity. And since then I try to be conscious of everything I do online in case it ever happens again. But not everyone has been online since 2003. Not everyone knows how deep people are willing to dig to find trash on you.

I’m not buying her book. I’m not joining her Facebook groups. But I am grateful for the few days of love that FB page gave me when I needed it most. And I will hope that she finds the good criticisms in all of the anger and really takes to heart some of it. She was allowing tone-policing to women of color and that is the most subtle – but SO DESTRUCTIVE – way white people can thwart the delivery of important messages. If you don’t like the tone? Ask yourself WHY. Don’t challenge the tone. Don’t tell someone how they’re supposed to talk about the things that hurt them. Don’t expect someone to consider YOUR feelings when expression their own. Instead, look at YOURSELF and find out why you are so hurt by the tone.

I worry she’s getting so much backlash she may not even soak in some of that discomfort to find the lessons underneath it. She’s defensive because some of the criticisms have nothing to do with anything of substance. I actually saw a, “Ugg. Did you see the picture of her? She’s super ugly.” comment the other day. So how do you filter through that asinine commentary to find important lessons? I don’t know if she will. And maybe there’s no hope for her. I don’t know her.

And that’s the point, I guess. Let’s not forget there are people behind these viral stories who we don’t actually know. And while I think it’s important to find lessons in some of this stuff, I also can’t separate the BIG PICTURE LESSONS from the single person who got caught by a wave she wasn’t prepared for.

But I also hear the voices in my head that say maybe we shouldn’t spare the creators of the viral content. Maybe we shouldn’t be too gentle to people who jump on the Viral Train so easily. I’m not sure I would have done the interviews she did about the group in the first place that took away it’s “specialness” – maybe she should have known better. I don’t know.

It’s just hard for me to watch every time. It’s difficult to watch the creator of something that goes EPICALLY viral, get trashed in every corner of the interwebs. Maybe I’m too sensitive, either way, I just don’t think it hurts to remember that the person behind the content was probably not prepared for the negative backlash that heads their way. And while we will all forget the waves of negativity that hit her shores as we move on to the next person…the original creator will carry that will them for much, MUCH longer.

PSA: Not Everyone Who Parks Shitty Is An Asshole

I know this is my second entry for the day but something that keeps popping up on Facebook HAD TO BE ADDRESSED. This is a very self-righteous buzzkill, but I have to go on record saying it:

Why are we so quick to assume everyone that parks poorly is an asshole that needs to be taught a lesson? What if that person just found out their Dad was dying, or that they just had another miscarriage, or that their Mom had an aneurysm? And they had to run errands dealing with that stress and they parked shitty because they had a lot on their mind? (I wrote about that terrible situation here in 2009.) What if you’re “teaching a lesson” to someone simply so distraught by grief that they don’t realize they didn’t park correctly.

Signed, the girl who parked terribly in all of those specific situations mentioned above and would have been devastated to come out to her car blocked in by shopping carts of people who knew nothing about her or her sadness.

(Yes. I’m aware most of those people probably are assholes, but is it worth the “lesson” if there’s a chance they’re not? Can we give strangers the benefit of the doubt and maybe just say a quiet prayer of thanks to the universe that we’re not suffering some life-changing trauma that could cause us to park erratically? Is it worth teaching 20 assholes a lesson if you traumatize ONE person who might be having The Worst Kind Of Day?)

The Ticking Time Bomb Of Parenting.

I woke up yesterday around 1:30am – FOR THE DAY – after getting the final counter on our contract and knowing we’d be signing it later in the day. I just could not go back to sleep as my brain worked through all of the next steps in life from that moment. THERE ARE A LOT OF STEPS. And more importantly? THERE ARE A LOT OF PLACES THINGS CAN GO VERY WRONG. I find myself suffering from a type of Analysis Paralysis where there’s so much to do I can’t figure out where to start. Some of which requires handyman type skills and while my husband has many, I have very few. I did install a new faucet once and new light fixtures once…but other than that? I’m useless. So I just stare into the abyss and wonder if I just sit really really still…will everything just happen around me and I don’t have to do anything?

No, Zoot. Unfortunately you have to get up and get some shit done. I went to bed a little before 9pm last night and still woke up at 2:30am this morning. I’m not going to be getting any shit done if I can get a handle on my sleep patterns. Tired Zoot is Useless and Emotional and Eating Zoot. None of these things are useful when trying to be productive.

Unless the productivity goal is: GAIN 20 POUNDS. If that’s the goal? I’m SUPER-Productive! Check that shit off the list, baby!

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We had a family gathering last night with the kids and I’ve been hyper-aware of the ripple effects of Wes’s non-ideal behavior which makes it so I have a lot of trouble relaxing in those situations. I am really saddened by this because he has really made such good progress lately. Ever since his Pediatrician mentioned anxiety being at the root of things, we’ve given him different language and tools to help with his anger and I really feel like it’s made a lot of difference. I see the triggers now and discuss the anxiousness first – before he spirals – and it’s helped him look at all of it the same and he does a lot of this: Stumble…Catch Footing…Deep Breath…Apologize…Move on.

This is a huge change from Stumble…Collapse…Roll down the hill tearing down every tree in your path…Crush small villages with anger…Declare hatred of all the people who love him.

So – he’s in such a good place lately – but I was so on edge and worried about how everyone would handle any of his missteps that when he just stumbled a bit (which for him is NOTHING but to an outsider might look terrible) I would get super-freaked out and panicked and OH MY GOD THIS IS WHERE IT ALL GOES WRONG!

But – it didn’t. And I was trying to keep recognizing that and commending him on resetting in moments where he wouldn’t have before. He stumbled after losing a game and there was “TANTRUM!” looming in the air but he reset and shook it off, got his mind right to give everyone thanks and hugs, and then as we left he apologized for being a sore loser. I was SO PROUD of him. But I was also SO ON EDGE from a couple hours of monitoring his every breath for a meltdown that I am not sure I praised him as much as I should have. And I’m 100% certain I was a drag on the energy at the gathering. It’s hard to relax and socialize when you’re obsessing over your child’s every move.

It’s like walking around with a ticking bomb which could explode after every tick, but probably won’t. You’re still jumping at every tick, bracing yourself for an explosion, and that anticipation can wear on your soul and make it very hard to engage with the world around you.

Parenting is hard, yo.

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It’s crazy that I feel better – in general – but worse – in specifics – lately. Like, the overwhelming feeling of anxiousness and sadness doesn’t permeate my every smile. BUT! The localized anxiety regarding current events and family and life is WAY WORSE THAN EVER. A lot of 2015 and some of 2016 were spent with this weird gray tint to everything – a sadness I just couldn’t shake. And lately that tint is gone so the happiness can feel DEEP and REAL, but the surface level stuff is out of control. I’m anxious about family and houses and politics and current events and all of the things that are happening TODAY and YESTERDAY and TOMORROW.

I guess it’s a good thing I sorted through all of the pervasive shit, right? I couldn’t imagine having to deal with real-time anxiety and depression ON TOP of the constant feeling of despair that was always a part of everything. At least now I have joy and hope and love underneath it all.

It’s just hard some days to dig down deep enough to see it.