Monday, December 21, 2015

Tater Tots at the End of the Tunnel

Phew. Friends. Rough times lately. Aside from the constant onslaught of global tragedy (which, in case you hadn't noticed from the tenor of my recent posts, seriously gets me down), life's just been hard for the last bit. I mean, socio-economically stable, American white-girl hard. Which calls to mind a quote I just heard:

"There ain't no situation that you ever had to respond to that's adverse. The messiest thing you've ever gone through was your purse." - Eminem, Phenomenal. From the movie Southpaw, which I liked quite a lot, surprisingly. If you're a fan of Jake Gyllenhaal, overacting, and sports-themed feel-good movies, I highly recommend it.

But damn Eminem. That's harsh. Hittin' a gal where it hurts, right in the mom-purse. Low blow, man.

I mean, I get it. In the grand scheme of things, my life is not that hard. Whenever I'm feeling really bad I just imagine what it would be like have cancer at the age of 30 or to be a Syrian refugee or a young village woman in Burundi or a human-American who honestly believes Donald Trump would be in any way, shape, or form suitable for the office of the President of the United States of America and I instantly feel a lot better about my problems, such as they are. If you've been around these parts for a while you may be familiar with The Scale of Suck:

It's all relative. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to whine about it from time to time.

Anyway. Now that we've put it in perspective. My first world problems were stressing me the F out. I just felt like I was hiking up this interminable mountain and I wasn't allowed to stop to rest and I kept stumbling and falling down and I couldn't see when or if it was ever going to end. I regularly asked myself, "How do people do this??? How does the majority of the world survive on a day-to-day basis and do all the things like make their house not look like a HazMat zone and feed their children every single day and keep their family in clean underwear? I don't get it. This is so hard!" I was literally giving myself pep talks morning and night like, "Okay! You've got this! Just a little while longer. Pull up your big girl panties and handle this shit." And I did. I white-knuckled my mom-purse-adversity with nothing but some spit and sunshine.

I realized I had arrived on "the other side" of these trying times a week or two ago, as I sat in the sun on a deserted beach, in December, inhaling an entire plate of "totchos" (a.k.a. tater tot nachos), while my husband and the critters frolicked in the ocean waves. If there is a heaven, let it look like this. But hold the onions, please :)

"You know life is good when you're taking pictures of your feet." - DM
Everything's comin' up fried potatoes.

We hosted our first Thanksgiving at our new home and normally that sort of situation is my worst nightmare but I didn't cook a damn thing and I ended up being super sick the day of so my sister-in-law expertly managed the warming of things (which is actually way more involved that one would think, given that everything was already cooked), and my husband and mom- and dad-in-law wrangled the children, and it was a totally enjoyable day despite feeling like fresh hell.

I got to have a grown-up date with my husband, at the concert of a band we saw for our first official date thirteen years ago <3

We roasted s'mores on the beach in December, which was glorious until the inevitable meltdowns because they got wet and sticky and sandy roasting marshmallows at the beach and I did not have sufficient "wep-wipes wifout chemicals" on my person to give them full hospital baths.

We got our Christmas tree up and decorated before Christmas. The dogs only ate one four priceless ornaments (so far). And I persevered the "OCD itch" for three whole hours before I rearranged all of the ornaments the kids put on the bottom two feet of the tree. Come to think of it, I've completely let go. The lights on the top third of the tree are 30% dimmer than the rest (because we ran out and had to go get more and apparently there is no industry standard for shiny brightness of fairy lights), AND, Daddy Mack just discovered two entire boxes of my most precious and fragile ornaments that we didn't even put on the tree and I'm pretty sure I'm just going to leave them for next year! I'm a new me who's fresh outta f*cks to give!

We started strong. That's all I can say about that. 
I got crafty as hell with my sis and a girlfriend.

And somebody thought it would be a good idea for that damn elf to come anywhere near my hours of painstaking handiwork.

Chuck Ferry, I swear to God and everything Holy, if you tarnish one glistening ball on that wreath, you will have a hot date with a glue gun and I can guarantee it won't be nearly as pretty as this.
I finished my Christmas shopping before Christmas eve.

My kids had multiple run-in's with everyone's favorite Capitalist incarnation of the birth of Jesus Christ. (I don't mean that as an insult, Santa is my own personal lord and savior.)

My dad and brother are coming for the holidays <3

One of my BFFs just had her FOURTH precious baby and it makes me smile.

As of today, 60,000 people have visited my blog. I know "real" bloggers get that much traffic in a day, but that's 59,993 more than I expected (and okay let's be honest, it's probably a combination of my besties and Ukrainian hacker bots visiting 30,000 times in a row but whatever, I'll take it :))

And, I just had my first official review at work (after 4 and a half years? I think they just realized I work here. Just give me my stapler and call me Milton). And they actually really like me ;)

Not to be like, "#blessed," or anything. But it's nice to be reminded of everything you have to be thankful for, especially on the heels of a patch where you're thankful just to get through the day. I write this to say, if you are in the shit, mom-purse-petty though it may be, and it feels like it will never end and you are not sure how you're going to be able to hold it together much longer, just keep on keepin' on. You'll get through it. And there are tater tots at the end of the tunnel.

And tonight as I'm listening to NPR on my drive home, hearing about how terrible everything is in the world. As it takes me 75 minutes to drive 27 miles. As my children are literally fighting about a goddamn eyelash. As I actually shed a tear over spilled milk. As I open the credit card bill for all of those expeditious Christmas purchases. I will repeat this mantra to myself: There are tater tots at the end of the tunnel. There are tater tots. At the end. Of the tunnel. Amen.

PS. In case you're thinking, "Nice humble brag, b*tch." Don't you worry, I got mine. I wrote this and before I had a chance to publish it, I caught a nasty stomach bug from my husband. Poor DM. Before kids, if he'd had a stomach flu I would have been like, "Oh honey here's some flat ginger ale and dry toast, may I hand-feed you spoonfuls of homemade applesauce?" (Actually I wouldn't feed him toast because he thinks toast causes migraines. But I would feed toast to a normal person with the stomach flu.) Now I'm like, "Don't breathe on or near our children. If they catch this shit I will f*cking end you." (I'm paraphrasing. ;))

Anyway, just when I thought I was in the clear, BOOM BOOM BARF. I was SO ILL, people. And I do not have any days in life to spare. I was also going to miss my daughter's first ever ballet recital. You know what's worse than missing your daughter's first ballet recital? Having to attend your daughter's ballet recital while you are in the throes of the stomach flu because your husband gets stuck in aforementioned hellacious traffic. And you are pouring sweat from places that shouldn't sweat and trying not to throw up in your mouth and/or sh*t your pants and Purell-ing the hell out of yourself and everything around you the while attempting to look totally normal, present, and overwhelmed with the adorableness. I felt like one of those people in the movie Contagion, or some zombie-apocalypse movie, where you have to pretend not to be "infected" otherwise they put you in quarantine and leave you for dead.

The Universe said, "This is what you get for counting your tater tots before they're nacho-fied, SUCKAH!"

But I gotta tell ya, the barfs really put it all in perspective. You know how when you get really sick, you're just like, "I can't believe I ever had such a joyful time in my life that I could think about, let alone eat, totchos and not projectile vomit. I would do anything to feel like that again." (Or, "I can't believe I could breathe freely through my nostrils and I didn't breathe ALL THE AIR!") When you recover, you really have a new lease on life! Donald Trump, who? I'm eating bread, bitches!

So yeah. Tater tots. Or dry toast and flat ginger ale. At the bottom of your mom purse.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ignorance Is Not Bliss

I've got a bone to pick. I keep seeing the same handful of "arguments" (which falsely implies some sort of logic) being hurled about the Interwebs lately (at me privately, on my blog, and repeatedly assaulting my eyeballs on my news feed). And I think they're a bunch of baloney.

First things first.
Credit: Notions Capital (Flickr Creative Commons)
1. Donald Trump and his latest blatantly racist douchebaggery chicanery.

Just no.

Remember how in my last post I was like, hey, let's practice tolerance, if you actually sit down and share a cocktail or a quesadilla with someone you'll find out they're human, just like you. Well. Let me tell you. I am having a REAL hard time practicing tolerance and understanding with this piece of ... work. And hey, if he was just some lone (crazy ass) ranger who was totally off the reservation, that would be one thing. But this PSYCHOTIC YAHOO is the front running republican candidate?!? I'm sorry but what in the fucking fuck, people?! I AM SO CONFUSED. Confused, and also, filled with an overwhelming urge to scream, cry, or bury my head in the sand. If I sat down across the table from Donald Trump I would have to try very, very hard not to throw my conciliatory community-building beer in his face. At first it was kind of amusing, like a sociological experiment. Then it became unbelievable. Then it became disturbing. Now? Now I am absolutely terrified. Please PLEASE tell me this is all just a terrible joke???

THIS GUY JUST HELD UP JAPANESE INTERNMENT CAMPS AS A POSITIVE EXEMPLAR FROM AMERICAN HISTORY. AND HE IS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. The land of the free. A country of diversity and acceptance. A nation that was founded by immigrants. (Okay, well, more like stolen from its original, rightful owners by immigrants but you get my point). He thinks Islam has no place in America? No place in the 21st century? HE has no place in America in the 21st century. He is a fear-mongering bigot whose beliefs go against everything that American stands for.

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breath free,*
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.**
Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tost to me,***
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

* Except Muslims.

** But actually, really really ridiculously rich Muslims are cool.

*** Excludes Syrians and other people who are browner than me, but ORANGE PEOPLE ARE WELCOME! Send me your overworked Oompa Loompas, I've got just the factory for them!

PS, If Dick Cheney's like, "Bruh, you went too far," you done CROSSED THE LINE.

2. The meaning of "well-regulated" in the Second Amendment (from my recent FB post):

An anonymous reader commented on my post about guns. I still can't get over the fact I have anonymous readers. DM doesn't really believe it, he thinks my post hits are all Ukrainian hacker bots. Anyway. S/he wrote this:

"Nice piece, but you might want to look up what "well regulated" means in the vernacular of the late 18th century, when the second amendment was written. It means "well equipped". :)"

This was my response:

"Thanks. Actually, according to the Supreme Court in DC v Heller (whose holding I vehemently disagree with but it is the supreme law of the land, after all ;)), per the vernacular, "well-regulated" means "the imposition of proper discipline and training," which sounds to me like a great place to start!

In any event, even without the qualifying clause, no individual rights granted by the Constitution (Bill of Rights) are without limitation. They are subject to a balancing act of the rights of the individual vs. legitimate government interest, e.g., the general welfare of its citizens."

In fact, the Court in Heller said that "the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited," and pointed out that "the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose."

Like I said, I'll talk about this stuff until my face turns blue!

3. "In 1789, Thomas Jefferson said 'Cross my heart, hope to die, the Federal Government will never steal your guns, pinkie swear, no take-backs.'"

You know what else our "Founding Fathers" said? That white people could OWN black people. That blacks had 3/5 the human worth of whites. That black people could not vote. They were not allowed in white schools, restaurants or places of business. Women could not vote and were considered chattel. Native Americans were systemically displaced and slaughtered. So, forgive me if I don't find this to be an ironclad argument. The Constitution is an amazing document and the backbone of American democracy, but it was written over 200 years ago and has to adapt as we learn and grow as a nation.

"Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." - Maya Angelou

PS, You're not the only one who can quote the Founding Fathers in support of your argument. They also said that gun owners should be subject to discipline and training, as noted above.

PPS, See also, section 2.b re: no individual rights being absolute, including but not limited to, the right to keep and bear arms.

PPPS, How do you know the framers weren't talking about THIS?

4. This meme has come across my news feed no less than five times in the past week. There's so much wrong with this analogy, I don't even know where to start. 

I guess my main issue is this: No one is saying "make guns illegal," are they? I know I'm not. I mean, we can't even vote to keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists, so I don't think rounding up all the guns in the country and throwing them in the ocean is on the agenda. All people are saying is "make guns harder for baddies to get," and also maybe "you don't need a grenade launcher and a high powered assault rifle for 'self defense?'" If I were in charge I would also say we must take further steps to ensure that all the "good guys with guns" know how to safely maintain, store, and operate them. Is this really so unreasonable?

In any event, as I said in my last post on the subject, laws against drunk driving and prescription drug abuse don't completely eradicate those behaviors, either, but its a place to start. (And hey if you're arguing for a cease-fire in The War on Drugs, I'm all about that conversation.)

5. "Thank God I don't live in crazy Commie California!" Amen to that.

6. "I still don't believe Muslims are generally good people."

I'll ask you again: Do you actually know any Muslims? That's what I thought. Go befriend an actual, real-life Muslim, then get back to me.

If you still feel that way after you actually know a person from the faith about which you so freely cast aspersions, watch this:

Here are the Clif Notes: Yes, some countries that are predominantly Muslim (e.g. Saudia Arabia) have some messed up laws. Some countries that are predominantly Christian (e.g. Ethiopia) have some messed up laws. Balancing human rights and multiculturalism is a messy thing and (much) more work needs to be done. And yes some terrorist organizations have bastardized the religion for their terrorist purposes which I've already said is not a trait unique to Islam. But that is on the country and the organization and the individuals who carry out these acts, not on the religion itself.

"Islam doesn't promote violence or peace. Islam is just a religion, and like every religion in the world, it depends on what you bring to it. If you're a violent person, your Islam, your Judaism, your Christianity, your Hinduism is going to be violent. There are marauding Buddhist monks in Myanmar slaughtering women and children. Does Buddhism promote violence? Of course not. People are violent or peaceful. And that depends on their politics, their social world, the way they see their communities, the way they see themselves." - Reza Aslan

6. "No Christians have done anything bad in the name of Christianity since the Crusades." Wrong again.

The KKK.

Neo Nazis, skinheads and other non-Muslim extremists.

FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints).

Now, I assume members of mainstream Christianity would decry, "But those aren't Christians!"

And now you know how Muslims feel.

That is all. I swear I have some non-political posts for you. I just need to get to a place where my fingertips aren't autonomously driven by a blind and fiery rage.

Unless I get picked up by the US Government for my search history: guns, terrorist, Muslim, Christian, KKK, neo-Nazi, skinhead, child marriage. Don't worry though, I'll still be able to get a gun!

Until then:

On the subject of religious bias, watch this video, I implore you.

The Paradox of Tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. 

- Karl Popper, Open Society and its Enemies, Vol. 1

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out -
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out -
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out -
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me.

- Martin Niemöller

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

- Edmund Burke

Friday, December 4, 2015

don't be a dick

I. Can't. Breathe. My chest is in a vice, the air is being sucked from my lungs. My heart feels like it is on fire, my blood like hot, volcanic lava pumping through my veins. The heat rises from my gut, up, up, up, like a cup filling with boiling hot water. My skin hurts. It feels as though its been scrubbed to bleeding with steel wool. As I'm reading stories on the internet, as I listen to the news in my car, this is how I feel. I can hear my heartbeat pounding in my ears, and it's almost, almost, loud enough to drown out my frenetic thoughts, but not quite. Is this normal? To feel so affected by the ills of our society? To physically manifest the pain of the world in my own body? It should be. Maybe then people would wake the fuck up and realize that this planet is in desperate, aching need of something other than intransigent demagoguery.

This is not really a new thing for me. It's part of why I started blogging. I just have so many feelings and it's like they're trying to crawl out of my skin and bones and blogging is a sort of blood-letting that way. DM always pokes fun of me, says I'm dramatic and doomsday (though, may I point out, he is the one who has always wanted a bomb shelter in our backyard in case of apocalypse). I don't sleep at night because I worry about the drought and oil spills and white rhinos and rising sea levels and the PPM of PM10 in the air and sulfates and parabens and nitrites and hormone disrupting chemicals, and so on and so forth ad infinitum.

But in times like these when it feels like we're all going to hell in a hand-basket, like, tomorrow, multiply all that by 347,000.

It's funny (funny-interesting, not ha-ha-funny). A few weeks ago my two BFFs were in town and we were up late having a deep and meaningful conversation and Betsy said she was afraid of ISIS. (This was before Paris, and San Bernardino.) Claire, DM and I started laughing and gave her shit. "That's so silly! You should not be afraid of ISIS! That's not a real thing to be afraid of in California." Little did we know.

Still though. I'm not really that worried about ISIS affecting me personally. Okay, I'm totally lying. The day after the Paris attacks I was home alone with the kids and the power went out and I texted DM, "Am I crazy for thinking this is the precursor to an ISIS attack?" His answer: "Yes."

So, alright, I'm a little scared of ISIS. But I am way more likely to die of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, the flu, a car crash, a drug overdose, an accidental shooting, or an intentional shooting by a non-Muslim extremist than to be killed by ISIS. Fun fact: for every American killed by terrorism in the past decade, more than 1,000 were killed by gun violence in the United States. So, yes. ISIS and guns. Also global warming. And sharks. Super scary.

But. Want to know what I'm REALLY scared of? Us. America. Americans.

A couple of days after the Paris attacks, I was crossing the street behind a group of giggling high school girls when this guy snarls "GO BACK WHERE YOU CAME FROM, TERRORISTS!" and SPITS on one of the two girls in the group who were wearing hijab. He SPIT. IN. HER. FACE. I was in SHOCK. The shock quickly gave way to a burning flood of rage. I honestly cannot remember the last time I was so angry. I am literally shaking as I type this, thinking of it again. HULK SMASH.

Unfortunately Hulk wasn't so quick on the draw. I eloquently yelled after him, "FUCK YOU, YOU MISERABLE PIECE OF SHIT!" In the moment, I wanted to throw my coffee on the guy, but I fumbled with the lid and by the time I got it off, he was already across the street. Which is probably good. Fighting assault with assault is not the answer. What I should have done was taken his picture and blasted it out on social media. Next time.

The group of girls congregated on the corner, expressing disbelief more than anything else. The girl who was spit on and the other girl in hijab didn't even seem that upset or surprised. As I approached, I didn't even know what to say. All I could do was say "I'm so sorry." She shrugged. All I had to offer was a pathetic apology and a crumpled napkin. (Which, incidentally, is kind of an apt metaphor for America's response to gun violence.)

I was SO ANGRY, FAM. I texted DM as I walked back to my office, but warned, "Don't call me or I will start crying." I CANNOT FATHOM being the target of such baseless hostility. There are few actions that are so viscerally emblematic of hatred and disrespect as SPITTING your bodily fluids in someone's FACE. For what? Because of the way they dress, their name, their faith, their sexual orientation*, the color of their skin? I just can't even wrap my mind around it.

Hatred. Ignorance. Unfounded assumption. This girl. These two girls, actually. The targets of indefensible ill will. They couldn't have been more than 16 years old. They were walking back from lunch with their friends. They were laughing and talking and being high school girls. Maybe they were immigrants but they were more than likely American citizens. And yet this dick whistle without two brain cells to rub together literally spewed hate at two children because of the way they looked and what that meant to him in his tiny mind.

Why isn't anyone out there spitting on crazy old right wing extremists with mangy beards, or 20-something white dudes with bad hair and sociopathic stares?

Let's talk about San Bernardino. This Syed Rizwan Farook. He was an American. He prayed to his God in his country of birth because that was his right as an American citizen. He traveled to another country and he married an immigrant because that was his right as an American citizen. Somewhere along the line, for reasons we will probably never understand, their belief system was twisted and perverted into a theology of anger, hatred and intolerance. (Or so we assume, though really we don't know the whole story and we probably never will. Did you read about how he shot a woman from his own congregation, point blank?)

Here's the thing. Muslims do not have a monopoly on the perversion of faith. Any brand of religious fanaticism can become lethal when combined with the right amount of deluded fury, psychosis, and fire power. But we don't call it terrorism when white Christians kill people. And yet. There you are on Twitter, Facebook and the like, veins popping, spittle flying, screeching "Down with Islam!" Because a fraction of the Earth's psychopaths misguidedly claim Islam as their motivation, 1.6 billion peaceful, innocent believers are guilty by association. Even (or especially) when this purportedly Muslim whack-job is one of our very own. What I want to know is, where are the "Christian Killer" headlines? Where was the blaming and shaming of 2.2 billion non-radical Christians after the killings at an AME church, a Jewish Community Center, a Sikh temple? Do we scream DOWN WITH JESUS because of the KKK?

What would this eradication of Islam look like, by the way? Round up ... who? All Americans who believe in Islam? What if they're white? Still guilty? And what about Christians of Middle Eastern descent? Are they cool? Or should we boot them too because they're brown? Oh, the WIFE was a Muslim immigrant who, apparently, avowed her support for ISIS. So, should we get rid of everyone married to an immigrant too, just to be safe? And we'd put them where exactly? Some sort of... camp or something? Hmmm... this is sounding awfully familiar. You know where I'm going with this, right? Or do you need me to spell it out for you? You sound like fucking Hitler.

If you really want to start rounding up atrocious examples of humanity, maybe you should start with young white American dudes wearing ratty baseball caps and Aero Postale t-shirts one size too small whose mommies never taught them it's not okay to spit on other human beings.

This is what I want to ask the people who are saying these things: Do you actually know any Muslims? (American, Immigrant, or otherwise). Of course you don't! But if you did, could you stand across from them, the men, the women, the children who are not so different from you, could you look them in the eye and tell them you believe your life, your rights, your very existence is worth more than theirs simply because they believe in a different God than you? Do it. I DARE YOU.

It all boils down to this: Human connection. It's easy to hide inside the Internet, to spew nastiness from your screen without ever feeling or understanding the ripple effect your ignorance and intolerance have in the real world. (Although, apparently, some very special assholes can do it straight to your face.)

For someone who isn't a huge fan of people, I know a lot of different kinds of humans. If most of them just emailed me their life's resume, I might assume we wouldn't get along. Here's a non-exhaustive list:

Republicans. Lots of them. And you know what? They're actually not so bad ;)

Wild conspiracy theory tin-hat-type folks.

Super duper Christiany folks. I mean, these are actually my people - the stock from which I hale. But seriously, some of the stuff they say? Whooee boy. If I read it from a stranger I would assume they were legit straight-jacket crazy. Even knowing I'm related to these people, it still sometimes makes me want to stab myself in the eyeball. (And I'm sure they feel the same way about me and my beliefs.)

Mean girls.

A real, honest to goodness internet troll. I mean, he is honestly sort of a terrible human, but he's totally nice to me. A little too nice, actually. More on that another day.

Guys who wear ratty baseball caps and too-tight Aero Postale shirts.

Convicted felons.

Registered sex offenders.

People who most pictures of mangled fetuses online and call women who've had abortions murderers.

Straight up racists.


One pathological liar.



Drug dealers.

A dude who used to run a dog-fighting ring.

Douche bonnets galore. (As DM and I like to say, "You're an asshole. But you're my kind of asshole.")

And you want to know something? I could sit down and have a beer and a civil conversation with each and every one of these people. (Well, okay, I should probably not have a beer with the alcoholics or the parolees. Also I don't like beer. Maybe just some coffee. Or caramels ;))

The best thing about actual, real-life, human connection? It works both ways. Some examples:

When I was dating my Iranian American husband, whose father, brother, and countless relatives are doctors, a couple of great-aunts were telling me that all Persian men, and ESPECIALLY Persian doctors, were lecherous, cheating creeps. They based this off this one Persian doctor they once knew. However, when they actually met my husband and his family, those (mostly ;)) unfounded preconceptions were shattered. Nobody is immune to the charms of Daddy Mack ;)

DM works for a well-known civil rights organization that some of my right-wing family think is the actual antichrist, blaspheming God and fomenting a Communist revolution. They were shocked to discover that he is actually a totally reasonable and immensely likeable dude.

My Iranian immigrant in-laws had their preconceived notions about Midwestern Evangelicals as well. But when you sit down and share a meal with someone, you are forced to find common ground. And as I've said before, my old school Muslim Persian in-laws and my old school Christian Midwestern relatives have a lot more in common than you might think. They can be culturally insensitive and try to make me eat meat in peace and harmony :)

My brother came out of the closet to a family that openly declares homosexuality is a sin, an abomination in the eyes of the Lord. But they once felt the same way about cards, nylons, movies,  cigarettes, alcohol, divorce, "illegitimate" children, interracial marriage, Mormons, Catholics, Jews (don't even get them STARTED on Muslims), people from I-Ran, ear-piercing, and rock-n-roll. It's easy to disavow something when that something has never touched your life. But when the subject of your prejudice has a face and a name, when they're sitting across from you holding your hand, when they're speaking softly and reasonably, even when you disagree, that hatred is a lot harder to muster. You'll start to question everything you thought you knew.

I truly believe exposure therapy is the answer. Try it. Your first session is free.

 * I was reminded, then, that this happened to my baby brother recently. Some douche canoe called him a faggot and spat on him in the street. In San Francisco! Hello! Are you by chance aware of your geographic location, sir? You're in our house now, biatch. By the way, this also happened in a crosswalk. Take-home lesson: Beware of crosswalks, bigot-breeding-grounds.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

from my cold dead hands


Multiple shooters with long range rifles shot up the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, a facility that serves people with developmental disabilities. We don't know how many casualties. The suspects are still at large.

Listen. Gun control is not one of my "pet topics." It does not incite in me the same fiery rage that other issues, such as gay rights, do. But this shit is starting to piss me off.

I am not saying you, personally, should not be able to own a gun (or, I don't know, maybe I am--- are you bat-shit crazy with a vendetta???) I will, however, argue Constitutional Law and the wording of the Second Amendment with you ALL DAY E'ERY DAY. My favorite (and by "favorite" I mean NOT MY FAVORITE) is how pro-gun people conveniently omit the first part of the amendment which says "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." I'm just a lawyer who once specialized in Constitutional Law, so what do I know, but to me, the right of Joe Psycho Six Pack to amass an arsenal of grenade launchers and machine guns in his basement is not implied.

ANYWAY. Whatever. You want to "protect" your family (even though overwhelming evidence demonstrates that having a gun in your home actually significantly increases risk of injury or death,) or shoot Bambi for sport? Fine. To each their own. You can have a gun or even a few. (I feel like NRA Oprah: "You get a gun! You get a gun! EVERYBODY GETS A GUN!") I just don't think it's unreasonable for you to have to jump through a few hoops to get one. I understand that this makes you squeamish and I'm not saying your distrust of the government is totally unfounded. But I think you can rest assured that the NRA and its right-wing pawns in Congress will always have plenty of bargaining power to protect your "rights," as such. Further, if ever it actually becomes necessary to obtain guns to form a well-regulated militia to ensure a free state and/or overthrow the federal government, I'm envisioning some sort of Cormac McCarthy-esque post-apocalyptic scene with Russell Crowe, Denzel Washington and Charlize Theron dressed in dusty rags and feasting on human flesh and I don't think Section 3.14159265359 of the Federal Rules and Regulations is going to get in the way of that.

THIS is what makes me very, very angry:

1) People posting shit about how more people die from prescription drugs and car crashes every year than from gun deaths. I'm sorry but that argument is stupid. Prescription drugs kill more people than terrorists. Are you saying we shouldn't fight terrorism? Further, no one in their right mind would say you should be able to walk into WalMart and get a bottle of OxyContin on Aisle 3, or drive a half-ton hunk of careening metal on public streets without providing some sort of assurance that you can do so without being a menace to society. Do regulations mean no one will ever illegally obtain prescription medications or dangerously drive a car without a license? No! Do regulations mean no one will ever die of prescription drug overdoses or drunk driving or car crashes? Of course not! But they will sure as hell help.

I am sorry (not sorry) but anyone who understands why my deaf, blind, 97 year old grandmother is no longer allowed to operated a motor vehicle should understand the same reasoning when it comes to guns. You should be required to show that you're not (historically) violent (aside from being bent on Bambi). You should be required to show that you're not (historically) insane. You should be required to instill safety measures so that your husband/wife/child or friendly neighborhood burglar doesn't accidentally (or on purpose) kill you or themselves or anyone else! (E.g., safes (the name isn't an accident), "smart guns," etc.) Perhaps most importantly, you should be required to show that you know how to use said deadly weapon, and that you are unlikely to accidentally shoot yourself or someone else in the head or the tit (I'm rather fond of both). Just... stop being fucking crazy, people. (And I mean that in the common vernacular of, "your views are asinine and completely unsupported by fact, logic, and reason." Not that you are actually mentally unstable. But in either case, may I recommend against gun ownership until you sort that shit out?)

I am not saying that tighter gun control would completely eradicate mass shootings like Sandy Hook, Santa Barbara, Aurora, Virginia Tech, West Nickel Mine, Umpqua, Columbine.. (The list goes on. Click here for a timeline of the deadliest mass shootings in the U.S., if, you know, you're really wanting to get some holiday cheer goin' on.) I'm sure there will always be people who will find a way. But if it prevents just one more, isn't it worth it?

2) This stupid law and others like it that make it easier to carry a concealed weapon (in general and on school campuses in particular). In other words, I could carry a concealed weapon. Would you trust me with a loaded gun in an emergency response situation around your children, your sister, your mother? BECAUSE YOU SHOULDN'T. I don't know WHAT the fuck I'm doing and by the way I do not respond all that well under pressure so it is much more likely that I would accidentally shoot myself in the toe or, you know, MURDER SOMEONE than save any lives, Ben Carson-like delusions of grandeur notwithstanding.

Would easier legal access to concealed weapons help prevent tragedies like Sandy Hook? Honestly, I highly doubt it. But alright, assume that, on occasion, when some psycho with a gun decides to shoot up an elementary school or a movie theater, there just happens to be a well-trained and steel-nerved hero with a concealed weapon on the premises and he or she has the luck and cat-like speed and reflexes to kill or incapacitate the killer and prevent or reduce senseless killings. That's great. Really it is.

Here's my counter-argument. Have you ever been to a Raiders game? How well do you think that would work out if beneath their starter jackets, drunk and angry fans had guns in their pockets? I don't mean to discriminate against the Raiders (actually, as a Niners fan, I do.) But okay. Take the Eagles. They'd just shoot their quarterback. Really, take any large gathering of humans. I just don't think adding fire power of unknown pedigree to the situation is the answer. And, back to my original point - would you trust these Jim-Bobs and Joey-Janes with a gun in a crisis around your kids? I don't. I mean, I'm sure there are some Seal Team Six motherfuckers that would be immensely useful in a gun fight. But with over 12 million concealed carry permits nationwide, there are certainly more than enough Elmer Fudds and Yosemite Sams to tip the cost-benefit analysis.

Some people point to the statistic that while concealed-carry permits have skyrocketed over the past 8 years, gun deaths have declined (Might I point out that they are still quadruple that of most developed nations). I find this to be a misleading argument. It is like saying that, over the past 8 years, there have been more McDonalds, but childhood obesity is decreasing (both true, by the way, but again, Americans are still the fat kids by a long shot), therefore, more McDonalds = less childhood obesity. In any event, consider this: Of the 722 deaths and 544 cases involving concealed weapons in the same time period, only 16 cases were ruled to be in self-defense.

That is all. I am done editing myself for fear of getting someone's panties in a twist. Shit's about to get twisted!

PS I don't have a deaf, blind, 97-year-old grandma, I was just making a point.

For your continued reading pleasure:

> The NRA's own Gun Safety Rules

> Guns in the Home and Risk of a Violent Death in the Home: Findings from a National Study, by Linda Dahlberg, Robin Ikeda and Marcie-jo Kresnow, American Journal of Epidemiology.

> Study: Guns in home increase suicide, homicide risk. CBS News.

> Guns deaths in children: Statistics show firearms endanger kids despite NRA claims: by Evan DeFillipis and Devin Hughes. Slate. "The United States accounts for nearly 75 percent of all children murdered in the developed world. Children between the ages of 5 and 14 in the United States are 17 times more likely to be murdered by firearms than children in other industrialized nations.

> Gun deaths involving children are devastating. The NRA has no idea what to say about them, by Nathan J. Robinson of the Washington Post.

Again, if you trust yourself and your family and your precautions with a gun in the house, well that is your prerogative. But that doesn't mean I have to trust you (or Trigger Happy Tim) with a loaded gun near me and my loved ones - in a crowded place, near my children inside a classroom, or near my husband, a professor, at the front of one. And you most definitely should not trust me with yours. Someone is likely to lose an ear.

> How I Got Licensed to Carry a Concealed Gun in 32 States by Barely Trying: I was clueless, hung over, and totally worthless with a firearm. Four hours later, I was officially qualified to pack heat, Tim Murphy, Mother Jones

> The Concealed Carry Fantasy, by the Editorial Board of the New York Times

> Concealed Carry's Body Count, by the Editorial Board of the New York Times

> 10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down by Dave Gilson, Mother Jones

> Gun Control: What We Can Learn From Other Advanced Countries by John Donahue, Newsweek

> Bang Bang Sanity, Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station (I am really digging this guy lately)

> As a Navy Veteran, I Know How America Should Implement Gun Control by Shawn VanDiver on HuffPost (originally on The Daily Beast).

> Meanwhile, in California. Gotta love my Downtown Jerry Brown. In wake of school shootings, Gov. Jerry Brown bands concealed guns on California campuses, by Patrick McGreevy, LA Times.

And this, a tangential piece about the over-militarization of US Law Enforcement. The Serial Swatter by Jason Fagone, New York Times.