Thursday, November 3, 2016

Why Do You Ask?

This December will be the third Christmas that I’ve spent with my boyfriend, which is exactly three Christmases more than I’ve ever spent with any other dude, so I guess that’s pretty good.  What’s not so good is the fact that people keep asking me if we’re going to get married.

My longstanding opposition to marriage notwithstanding, this is one of those questions that people ask that are unnecessary and unproductive.  A short list of those questions:

  • When are you getting married?
  •  When are you going to start a family?
  •  Why are you single?
  • Have you tried eating less/exercising/other weight loss advice?

      Why are these questions unnecessary and unproductive?  Well, God, beyond that, they’re incredibly personal and invasive.  I think the more important questions are: why is it your fucking business?  And do you realize that there’s underlying judgment in these questions, specifically that being unmarried, childless, uncoupled, and overweight are wrong and unnatural?  

You know what is natural?  Death.  But you know better than to say to someone, “Hey, when do you think your parents are going to die?”   

People have complicated lives.  Relationships may not be their priority.  They may struggle with fertility or pregnancy issues.  Or they may not like kids.  They may have their own ideas of what makes a happy relationship with their partner. They may feel fine about themselves at any weight. Or not.  It’s complicated, and it’s nobody’s business to ask about in the same way you would ask someone where they got their shirt or if they’re a cat or dog person.  

And here’s the truth: I could give you all the reasons why marriage is not the thing for me, but chances are, about half of you wouldn’t believe me anyway.  So I’ll just give you one: I think marriage is really, really weird. I can’t get beyond the thought that marriage is contractually requiring someone to go that work thing with you, which is totally silly because IF YOU GO TO THE WORK THING ALONE, YOU CAN LEAVE EARLIER.   

But here is also the truth: When marriage/children/being thin become the terminal goals in someone’s life, everything else that person has accomplished, or loves, or enjoys, or is proud of, becomes, somehow, “less than.”  As in, “They’re such a great couple, I wonder why they don’t have kids.”  Or, “He’s a really handsome guy, I wonder why he’s not married.”  It doesn’t matter what else or how else they’ve lived their lives; they are always measured on this.  And believe me, I’ve seen too many people get into really gross marriages or pushed out kids before they were ready because they’ve internalized the scrutiny. 

In the end, we all can only speak to our own experience.  We’re all just people struggling to live our lives in the best way we can.  Asking these deeply personal questions, even with the best intentions, is at best, careless.  So, the next time you’re tempted to ask anyone when they’re going to do that next big thing, instead, just let them know they’re perfect, just as they are.  Unless you’re talking to Donald Trump.  He’s an asshole. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Marketplace of Ideas and Normalization, aka, Make Crazy Sane Again

Americans have all been raised on this notion of the “marketplace of ideas,” which is one of the cornerstones of free speech in this country, and probably elsewhere, but we don’t care about them.  Dirty Brexiters.  Basically, the marketplace concept says that the only way society can determine whether an idea is good or not is to give it an opportunity to exist in an open market, and see if anyone buys it.  Basically, you can say anything you want, but if it’s stupid, you’re going to get a smackdown for realz.  And I think, in a society where everyone is concerned about the same thing, and can debate with reason and open-mindedness, it probably works.  Sadly, we’ve never had that, I think, ever, which is why so many people sold the lie that slavery was a totally good idea for so long.

The alternative, on the other hand, censorship, seems hardly better.  So we let people yap and if we disagree, we either contribute our thoughts, we try to understand their thoughts, or we ignore them, either immediately or eventually, and hope that others do, too. 

Lately, though, I think that the marketplace of ideas is running smack into normalization: the idea that if somebody says or does something frequently enough without being challenged, it becomes part of the common wisdom – we hardly notice it, and we accept it as either The Truth, or at least A Truth.  People say it’s beginning to happen with mass shootings.  We’re getting used to them.  It’s pretty normal.

Donald Trump is the master of normalization.  He says something thoroughly outlandish, like that Ted Cruz’s father was part of the JFK assassination.  The first time he says it, people are like, “You are fucking crazy, man.”  But then the media picks it up, he supports it with three tweets, and he repeats it again, and suddenly we’re like, “Yeah, I’ve heard that before.  There must be some truth to that.” 

Twitter and Facebook and Instagram (which I called Pictionary to my son the other day, and he laughed and laughed) go even further to not only normalize, but magnify craziness.  Some douchebag decides he’s going to direct all of his rage and impotence against the cast of Ghostbusters, and somehow gets what seems like an army of supporters to do the same.  And this can lead us to conclude that lots of people believe this shit, when in reality, it’s just a sliver of a sliver of people, but they’re loud, and they’re persistent, and it seems like they’re everywhere, when meanwhile, people who disagree are probably ignoring it, because it’s stupid, and they’re adults, and, in the marketplace of ideas, rage against Ghostbusters really is not a big deal. 

But I think eventually, at least for me, it starts to be exhausting.  It’s exhausting to see Donald Trump repeat his crazypants word vomit over and over again.  It’s exhausting to see people support it, even if you know they don’t even believe it, they’re just angry that a vagina and ovaries could possibly have the nuclear code.  It’s exhausting to see the grammatically-challenged tweets and the ceaseless chants of BUILD THAT WALL or TRUMP THAT BITCH.  What the hell does TRUMP THAT BITCH even mean?  Is this a Euchre reference?  And in our exhaustion, we start to believe that maybe, just maybe, these thoughts have been exposed to the marketplace of ideas, and that they have been accepted as truth.  After all, it happened with Hitler.  (As an aside, my brother thinks that mentioning Hitler is a cheap out.  I believe that Donald Trump plays the same populist, isolationist, xenophobic shit, and, like Hitler, he is a master at normalizing hate and fear.  So write your own damn blog, JIM.)

And I don’t have an antidote.  But I think it’s worth saying.  Just because we live in a time when a bad idea repeated seems like it’s been accepted, it’s still a bad idea.  You have not lost your fucking mind. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


I just want to go on record that when I hear people say, “I’m just not voting this year,” I want to punch them in the face.  I kind of wish they had two faces so I could punch both of them.  If you’re one of those people, here’s why you deserve a face-punching:

1.    You’re American, dammit.  Our forefathers DIED for your right to a representative government.  That whole of the people, by the people, for the people is about you having a say in who governs you.  And you want to squander that because what?  Because you’re feeling pouty about who the major party candidates are?  Write in some doof that represents whatever fringe party you want.  Unless you live in Arkansas, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma, or South Dakota (and let’s face it, the only actual inhabitants of South Dakota are an old oil derrick and Mount Rushmore), you can vote for any write-in who has registered.  And if you’re in Vermont, Wyoming, Oregon, New Hampshire, Jersey, Iowa, Delaware (also a fake state) or Alabama, you can literally write in ANYBODY.  No registration required.  Vote for poor, dead, Ronald Reagan.  Vote for “Send Hillary to Prison.”  Vote for Brexit.  Stop being an unpatriotic prick and do your goddamn duty.

2.    “They’re all corrupt” is a loser’s excuse for your own laziness.  How do you know everyone on the ballot is corrupt?  Some folks are running for the first time.  Some are rapists, but some, I assume, are good people.  Oh, wait, that’s Mexicans.  Nevermind. But honestly, I am 99% sure that you haven’t even done a Google search on half of the candidates who are running locally, and you have no clue. 

3.    And let me just add, for those who can’t stand either of the major party candidates for President, or maybe can’t stand the candidates for Senate or HoR, most of these people (one notable exception) got started in local politics.  And guess who elects them to local office?  YOU!  In elections!  So perhaps you should get your ass to the polls and stop these people from their first election, so they don’t grow up to be the big, bad candidate that makes you want to throw up in your mouth.

4.    Your vote actually DOES count.  It’s not rigged.  Well, let me clarify.  The only thing that is rigged is the mechanism that is trying to keep you home, instead of voting.  Voter suppression is a real thing that you can counteract by EXERCISING YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE.  Otherwise, you play right into the hands of those evil politicians that you purport to despise.  The only way your vote doesn’t count is if you don’t vote.  And, please, do not email me your conspiracy theories about the Electoral College. 

5.    “It’s my right to not vote” makes about as much sense as “It’s my right to not breathe.”  Yes, technically, it’s true, but it is against your self-interest.  Are you really exercising the right to abstain, or are you just too lazy to register?  You know it’s not hard to register.  Like, basically, if you walk down the street, you’ll find some earnest college kid who’s just sitting there, on the sidewalk, helping people register.  Just sitting there.  Like, at a card table. 

6.    Not participating and then complaining is childish.  It’s like a person who says, “My car won’t run, but instead of fixing it, I’d rather just rail against the unjust society that broke my car.” Fix the fucking car. Participate in the process.  If you really hate the way things are, contact your local party, and find out how you can run for office.  If you have so many ideas on how to fix things, why not take those ideas out of the comments section of USAToday, and into the world where you live?  Or do you just want to be a big, complaining baby? 
Listen, if I had my way, instead of an election this year, we’d just have a coronation of one pant-suited sassmaster named Hillary R. Clinton.  But we live in America, and we don’t just install people in office.  As we’ve all recently learned from Lin-Manuel Miranda, we have the privilege and the duty to choose our leaders and rap about it with élan.  Why on earth would you willingly give that up?   



Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I Like Her

It seems like everywhere I go, people are telling me that everyone – everyone  - just hates Hillary Clinton.  I hear it from the right.  I hear it from the left.  I hear it from Sanders supporters.  I even hear it from Hillary supporters, “Well, I realize she’s not the most likeable candidate, but whaddaya do?”  Stuff like that. 

Here’s the thing: I don’t necessarily believe it.  Hear me out: the American public, as we’ve learned with Donald Trump’s second-grade nicknames, is great at seizing on a narrative and moving it forward unquestioningly.  “Little” Marco Rubio.  “Lyin’” Ted Cruz.  “Bernie Sanders is a Socialist.”  “Hillary Clinton is the Hamburglar.”  You know, that kind of thing.  But just because a narrative exists, even if a narrative becomes part of our common parlance, it doesn’t mean that the narrative is true. 
And truth be told, I don’t think most people know why they dislike Hillary, they just think it’s the right thing to say because everybody else is saying it, kind of like how people always think twice about drinking Coke and eating Pop Rocks because we’d grown up hearing that the kid, Mikey, from the Life cereal commercial supposedly died from that combination, even though there are NO actual facts to show that Pop Rocks and Coke do anything, and Mikey is alive and well. 

Now, I’m sure that several of you are composing your response to me right now, saying, “Oh, no, sister, I know very well why I don’t like Hillary, it is clearly xyz.”  Okay.  I don’t really give a shit.  No candidate, especially now, and especially one with a long and storied record, is immune to doing things that you don’t like.  But I am here to say, I like her.  I LIKE HER.  I am a card-carrying, magnet on my car, voted in the primary Hillary supporter.  Here’s are five reasons why:

1)    Way back when, in 1992ish, when she was first lady, she introduced something called Universal Health Care, which is now, in a different form, known as Obamacare.  Yes, people, socialized medicine.  And when she was booed and excoriated, and called left-wing, and told to shut up and bake cookies, she took it with grace, and in stride, and what do you know, we have it now.  Thanks, Hillary!

2)    Her experience, both domestically, and on the national stage, is excellent.  First lady.  Two-term Senator.  Secretary of State.  She’s got it all.  And no, she didn’t do any of these things AND play the saxophone OR have an amazing sense of humor.  She did her fucking job.  The President is not a babysitter, people.  Needing to be entertained by the President is kind of infantile, don’t you think?

3)    Her pantsuitiness.  Yes, that’s a word.  It’s not just the fact that Hillary’s current uniform is a no-nonsense pantsuity number.  It’s the fact that she’s evolved into the pantsuit.  And we all have to admit, the pantsuit is mad comfortable.  But it also says, “I’m going to be about my message, not my fashion choices.”  I love that about her. 

4)    Her politics.  Let me be clear: I like Bernie. He’s a smart guy, and I love his ideals.  I also lived in a Socialist country – Sweden – so I understand the things that work about a Social-Democracy.  And I could go on and on about the things Swedes give up so that everyone can have a higher standard of living.  But I won’t, because my point is that Hillary’s politics, while not a perfect match for my own, fit within my moderate Democrat framework.  And in the end, that is what I elect every time I vote – a placeholder for the Democratic ideals that are important to me, regardless of the person. 

5)    Um….she’s a woman.  Listen, I’m not gonna lie.  Our country is full of white, middle-aged men telling us what to do.  Isn’t it time we have a white, middle-aged woman tell us what to do?  No, seriously, women are stigmatized for everything.  For working, for not working, for being a single mom, for having an abortion, for asking for a comparable wage to men, for not looking perfect, for getting old, for daring to have an opinion, for breastfeeding too much, for not breastfeeding enough, for not being able to do all things at all times, backwards and in heels…and no dude gets it the way a woman does.  THIS SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED BY NOW.  But now is the time.  And she’s a woman who has shown, time and time again, that she can stand up to the bullshit, and not only survive, but keep moving forward.
And, in the end, when I think of what I want for my country, and what I want my President to stand for, I think that smart ideas, experience, pantsuits, a message I can support, and a good, American baby chute are the right qualities for me.    

Friday, April 29, 2016

Enough with the Cape

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of fake women empowerment advertisements.  You know, the woman is wearing a superhero cape or something stupid like that, and that’s supposed to make all women feel good because I guess in the past we still had to do the same shit but couldn’t wear capes. 

Here’s the problem with that: WE CAN’T DO EVERYTHING.  And, for God’s sake, it’s a fool’s errand to try to do it all in superhero fashion.  I hate to tell you this, but it doesn’t help to wear a fucking cape if you have a job below your capability, you’re primarily responsible for the care of the children and daily household chores, or people disparage your run for Presidency because you happen to have a vajingle.  In fact, it’s offensive.
Now, you may be like, “Whoa, lady, sounds like you want me to put on a pantsuit and be a man.  No thanks, I’ll keep my cape, my tiara, my Wonder Woman outfit, plus all of my Spanx, because I’m gonna look good in all of them.”  Well, that’s not what I’m saying.  But I just had a conversation with my boyfriend where he was perplexed about why one of his guy friends was taking six weeks paternity leave. 

“Why does he need paternity leave?” he asked.  “He didn’t have a baby.”  So I explained that perhaps he wanted to bond with his baby and support his wife. 
“I’d be climbing up the walls if I was home for six weeks,” he said, looking at me as though I was, at that moment, prepping my womb for his children and planning six, no eight weeks of forced paternity leave for him. Incorrect.  But I did explain to him that paternity leave for men should be expected because, otherwise, we set up - purposely or accidentally - a system in which the woman is primarily responsible for the work of raising children and catering to her partner.  I mean, consider this: you’re a woman.  You have baby Slade on Thursday.  Your husband/partner stays home Friday and the weekend, and then on Monday is like, “See ya!” and heads off to work, because….man.  Meanwhile, baby Slade is biting your nipples with invisible razors, pooping and peeing at the same time, crying for no reason, and sleeping so abruptly that you keep holding a mirror in front of his face to ensure his continued breathing.  Husband breezes in after work, and expects a meal, or cooks something rudimentary because if he cooked a balanced meal, that would be bananas.  And then he bitches about getting the baby when he cries at night because, “I have to work in the morning.”  No, that’s ridiculous.  In six weeks, while you heal your sore babymaking parts, your partner should be doing the work of the family.  But, instead, you do it all, and you get a cape.  And this pattern continues as your kids grow.  You go back to work, but you also have to drop the kids off at daycare, do the grocery shopping, make all of the meals, do the housework, provide the emotional support for the family, and bear the criticism for “letting yourself go.”  BUT YOU GET A CAPE.

So, enough with the cape.  Enough with the expectation that we take it all on and smile as if it’s effortless.  Enough of accepting the work that somebody else could do.  It’s not even worth a really cool cape. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016


I just learned this new term: “actuallying.”  It’s used for the act of refuting someone else’s truth with a truth of your own.  It’s generally used this way:

Person one: Hillary Clinton is the right person to lead the country. She’s on the side of women!
Person two: Actually, Hillary Clinton hates all women and if you read her leaked emails you would know that.  BENGHAZI!!!!

Here’s another example:
Person one: I’ve just done a three-day cleanse and I feel great!

Person two: Actually, cleanses are just about the worst thing you can do for your body. I replaced two meals a day with kale and sauerkraut and lost 14 pounds in a week. 
Person one (again): Hey Mandy, go fuck yourself.

So, I just did something rare for me: looked something up.  And here’s the funny thing about the word actually: it basically means “factually.”  The actual definition is, “in act or in fact.”  I just think it’s more fun to say, “Actually factually.” 
But actually factually, here’s the problem with the use of the term: people are not using it to state facts.  People are actuallying to try to give some heft to their own dumb opinions.  And I would like to state for the record that your opinions, my opinions, your mom’s opinions, future President Trump’s opinions….they’re just opinions.  Actuallying them just gets people mad and makes them dig into their own belief more, and then actually you right back with more made up stats from their own highly biased websites.  For example, I just Googled, “Obama is gay” and got plenty of hits from such highly-esteemed publications as,, and  I also learned that, not only is Obama gay, but Michelle Obama is actually a man.  So, yes, if someone said something like, “Barack Obama has a beautiful wife and family,” I could respond, “Actually, he’s totally gay and married to a dude,” and have something to back it up. 

If we live in the society that I think we do - one where we have access to great works of art, literature, poetry, the finest thinking and reason – you would think we could do better.  We laugh at those who heard rock and roll, and said, “Actually, that’s just noise.”  We are disgusted by those who read The Great Gatsby, Howl, and Leaves of Grass, and said, “Actually, that’s smut.”  But it doesn’t seem like we’ve learned.  Doesn’t seem like we‘re doing any better.  Well, I’m going to try to do better.  And I hope that next time you find yourself actuallying, you remember these five words: Hey Mandy, go fuck yourself. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Attitude, Shmatitude

My father was always full of great life lessons like, “Hey, turn that light off,” and “That gun’s probably loaded,” and stuff like that.  One thing that has always stuck with me is, “If you’re going to do something, do the best you can do or don’t bitch about how it turns out.”

This comes up because I keep seeing this dumb adage about “Your reaction determines your outcome.”  Something like that.  It’s all over the social medias, and I personally think it’s patronizing and rude, along the lines of “I am #blessed because I have a Mercedes, and God hates you because you live in a shack in India.”  Let me explain:

Let’s say that you are just walking down the street, and all of a sudden, some fool in a Mercedes, updating her Facebook status about how she is #blessed, blows a stop sign, and smashes into you, breaking your hip.  Is the fact that you have a broken hip (your outcome) your fault because you didn’t jump out of the way (your reaction)?  Let’s take this one step further.  Let’s say that, you decide that you aren’t going to let this broken hip get you down.  You forgive the #blessed Mercedes driver, you follow your doctor’s orders, you go to physical therapy, and you do everything right.  Your reaction is PERFECT.  Your attitude is flawless.  You can’t even believe how lucky you are to have been hit, because it’s given you such a great opportunity to meet new people and understand how people with one leg live.  But, sadly, because you have inherited osteoporosis from your mother, your hip doesn’t heal.  How in the hell did your reaction, your attitude, or your fucking mindfulness have any effect on your outcome?   

Wait, let’s keep going.  Let’s say that you are like my mother when she had a broken leg, and you sat around and smoked all day, walked on your cast because crutches are for suckers, decided that physical therapy is less fun than watching soap operas and eating chocolate, and still healed like a fucking champion because, like my mom, you are made of Irishness and Brillo pads?  How did your reaction in any way affect your outcome?  How can your attitude of “Ah, fuck it,” work, when your attitude of “I’m going to beat this thing!” not work? 

On the other hand, let’s return to my father’s adage: if you’re going to do something, do the best you can do, or don’t bitch about the outcome.  My father was a firm believer that, sometimes you do things right, and it still doesn’t work out for you.  But at least you can look back and say, “Hey, sometimes shit happens, but at least I know I did everything I could do.”  But you know what?  Sometimes you get hit by a #blessed Mercedes driver, and you don’t heal well, despite what you’ve tried.  It doesn’t blame you for obviously not reacting correctly. For not having the right attitude.

Sometimes, however, you decide, “Fuck it, I’m out,” and instead of working hard, you phone it in.  Well, in that case, it might work out for you, or it might not.  You might heal, or you might end up in a nursing home.  Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don’t.  But if you don’t, you gotta live with the fact that you didn’t try to rock it out.  Your choice.  

I’m not saying that a winning attitude doesn’t help.  But for God’s sake, we can only control so much. We live in a vast universe with all kinds of people, including very bad ones and very good ones.  What can we do?  We can do the best we can do.  And, most of the time, our hard work reaps wonderful results.  We get the life we want.  But sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes Hitler happens, and no matter what you do, your world is torn apart. Sometimes, the best you can do is to do your best and survive.  Your reaction does not determine your outcome.  Your reaction determines your peace of mind.  Your outcome…well, that’s unknown.