Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

Photo by Jenni Jones on Unsplash

I remember an episode of NCIS where the character Abby Sciuto (played by the very talented Pauley Perrette) said something to the effect of “I used to be an anarchist, but I quit. Too many rules.”

Too many rules. Ay, there’s the rub! Whether it’s anarchy, religion, writing, society, or even life itself, we’re hemmed in by rules. Grammar, ritual, whatever: rules are everywhere.

It makes me want to scream sometimes.

But then I remember the Number One Rule as taught by a former English professor: “You have to know the rules in order to break them deliberately.”

Or as Bob Dylan so elegantly put it, “To live outside the law, ya gotta be honest.”

That great master of the English language, Winston Churchill, was once taken to task during an interview for having ended a sentence with a preposition. He glared at the young reporter and replied, “That, sir, is arrant nonsense, up with which I will not put.”

Here on Medium, you can find countless examples of rules for writing which, given that this is primarily a site for writers, makes sense. I know; I’ve read many of them. Some of them even make sense. Actually, they all make sense, if you look at them from the point of the various authors who wrote them. They make sense to that person for a very simple reason: they work for her.

And ultimately, isn’t that why we have rules in the first place? Because they work? But here’s the thing: my rules work for me. Do I have the right, then, to force them onto anyone else? I don’t know you. We’ve never met and probably never will. So who am I to say my rules will work for you?

Rules vs. Laws

Here’s where things get sticky. One of my rules is that I don’t have a uterus, so I have no say in what any other woman does with hers. It’s none of my business. Therefore, I am pro-choice. Notice I said pro-choice, and not pro-abortion. There’s a huge difference. I don’t favor abortion, but as I said, it’s not my body.

But.

There are also people who don’t believe a woman has the right to choose what she can and can’t do with her own body, and they make laws about it.

I deliberately chose abortion as an example precisely because it’s such a hot-button issue. Alabama’s governor just signed a new law which is the most restrictive in the nation. Even such a right-wing religious fanatic as Pat Robertson says it goes too far.

Found on Facebook

I seem to remember an old document from my distant hazy high school history class. I said something to the effect that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

It goes on to say “[t]hat to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…”

It seems to me — and I can’t be the only one — that our current form of government has indeed become destructive of these ends, especially the pursuit of happiness.

I have no answers.

For Further Reading:

The Declaration of Independence

The Constitution of the United States

The Declaration of the Rights of Man

The Age of Reason

The American Crisis

We’ve All “Been There, Done That”

Some of us even have the T-shirt

Once, I even tried prayer. Then I realized that it was a waste of time: after all if one set of imaginary friends won’t talk to me, what made me think another set would?

Being blocked is frustrating. When I’m there, I’ll try reading a book. It works, sometimes. Other times — like now — it makes me feel useless: I can never be that good a writer.

So I set the book aside and fire up my laptop. Maybe there’s something good on Netflix that will inspire me. “Oh, cool!” I think; “This one looks interesting.” It’s a martial arts epic in Mandarin, with English subtitles. Am I the only one who wonders why it seems the Mandarin language takes several paragraphs of dialog to deliver a single sentence in English?

Ninety minutes, 2,500 dead bodies, and 175 gallons of fake blood later, I’m all, “Well, that wasn’t it.”

I know! I’ll wash the dishes! Maybe cleaning the kitchen will clean my mind so I can start with a clean slate.

Photo: izzie-r-584152-unsplash.png

So. The dishes are washed, the kitchen is clean, and now it’s time for a cup of tea. I do my best thinking over a nice cup of tea. I’ll clear my mind and perform the ritual: I measure the tea precisely into the cup. I boil the water. As I pour it into the cup, I use the bamboo whisk to mix it thoroughly before rotating the cup three times and finally raising it to my lips.

Ok, ok, ok…that’s what I do in my mind. In reality, I boil a pot of water and pour it over the two Earl Grey teabags I’ve already put in the cup. While it steeps, I set out the milk and sugar. Hey! A girl can dream, right? And before you write to complain, I know Earl Grey requires lemon, not milk. What can I say? This is how my Irish Nana taught me how to make it, and that’s how I like it best. So screw you, George Orwell.

It’s The Weather

Spring is here, and with it comes pollen. With pollen, come allergies. And boy, do I have allergies! Mine call for “[t]he nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, aching, coughing, stuffy-head, fever, so you can rest medicine.” And that’s in the daytime!

In fact, the pollen is so bad in our neighborhood that the meth heads are converting their crystal meth back into Sudafed!

It Isn’t Writer’s Block, it’s Blocked Sinuses

And I feel like dog doo-doo. It’s quite simple, really: I don’t want to write. Or do anything, for that matter. All I really want to do is to take some acetaminophen, some Benadryl, and go to bed until next Thursday or whenever I feel better, whichever comes latest.

But I Was Too Busy Trying to Have my Own

Source: Arctic Fox, on Pinterest

Some of the most unpleasant people I’ve know had over-achievers as parents. I was fortunate enough not to have had that additional problem in my life, but I did have one that’s just as toxic as it is well-intentioned.

My parents had dreams for me.

I’m sure you know the kind of dreams I mean: a college degree, a house in the suburbs surrounded by a white picket fence, a two-car garage, a successful career, and 2.5 children.

Honestly, did that dream ever exist anywhere but on Leave It To Beaver, The Donna Reed Show, or even Bonanza?

And the dreams were only implied, not explicitly stated. My whole life was guided by them. In school, I didn’t even realize that there were art and music classes beyond second grade. In junior and senior high school I wasn’t allowed to take shop classes, because “those classes are for the dummies. You’re too smart for that — you’re going to COLLEGE!” (Cue the angelic trumpets.)

Last time I was in San Francisco I saw a beautiful hand-crafted wooden jewelry box that one of those dummies had made: the price tag said $2850.00 — and that was over 25 years ago.

And if my faucet leaks, I have to call another dummy who’ll charge me $75 an hour to fix it.

So who’s the real dummy now?

My Spectacular Failure at Education

After high school, it was taken as a given that I was going to go to college. I had no say in the matter. It was another of my parents’ dream for me.

At the wise old age of 18, I didn’t know if I even wanted to grow up, much less what I wanted to be if it ever happened.

In 1968, college was a place where you studied things to help you decide what you wanted to be doing for the rest of your life.

In 2019, college is a place to go to earn the credentials you need for the job you’ve already chosen.

I say — and neuroscience backs me up on this — the 18-year-old brain has developed sufficiently to be making such life-determining changes.

My education might have been more effective had I gone to a better college, but my grades, our family’s economic situation, and our physical location meant the sole criterion that went into the choice was the fact that as a Lutheran minister, my father could get a discount on my tuition and fees if I went to this particular college. A college I flunked out of at the end of my freshman year.

College, Take 2

I was simply too immature for and too uninterested in going to college. So I put off my plans for a higher education for two decades. Even then, I only went because my wife decided to pursue her degree, and I was worried about being left behind.

It went better this time. I was more motivated, and by then I had learned the fine art of academic philosophy, aka Intellectual Bullshit. I breezed through a semester of Selected Masterpieces of American Literature and got an A on it without once reading anything on the syllabus.

And I took several art classes, discovering that I could draw after all and that I was good at etching and engraving. I even sold some of my silkscreens and linoleum block prints.

But here’s the thing: after getting my AA degree and being one semester from my Bachelor of Arts, I was informed that I would not be allowed to count my 12 semester hours of computer classes towards my degree.

It seems one of the faculty review team said that computers have no bearing on liberal arts. This, after I designed and administered the first-ever study of if and how personal computers — then in their infancy — affected the process of writing.

So the University of Alaska, in its infinite wisdom, decided that I needed another 12 hours — a full semester — of math and natural science — -neither of which have any bearing on the liberal arts.

Had I taken the 12 hours and added 3 more, I would have been able to graduate with both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science.

Admittedly, the University of Alaska (Southeast) is nowhere as prestigious as its big sister in Fairbanks, but a double major is still a double major. And two degrees for the price of one….

Or three, if you count the Associate of Arts degree.

Livin’ La Vida Loca

So now it’s 2019. It’s been 51 years since I finished high school. I’m retired and living on Social Security. I’m not rich, but I get by — without complaint, thank you very much.

But since 2012, when I retired, I have finally been able to live my dreams. And the biggest lesson I’ve learned — and fulfilled — was to let my daughters dream their own dreams, and to support them in making those dreams come true.

Stay safe, my friends.

No, Seriously. I Really Do!

Evgeny Gromov/Getty Images

Somewhere I once read this pithy bit of Internet Truth: “Horoscopes work, whether you believe in them or not.”

Well, I don’t believe in them, or in any other self-fulfilling system of prophecies — especially when so many folks who make their claims only do so after the event they supposedly “foretold.”

Just for a laugh, I’ve spent the past 2 years reading my daily horoscope and recording it in a journal. At the same time, I’ve done the same thing with 4 other randomly-selected other Zodiac signs.

What I’ve discovered is that over that 2 year period, everything that was predicted for me eventually showed up in the other signs as well — with the exact same wording!

I know enough about database creation and data normalization to make this claim: most horoscopes are generated by database queries operating on necessarily-limited data points, resulting in inevitable duplicate prognostications which are then claimed to be accurate forecasts.

(This is where I stopped to take a breath.)

My horoscope for today included this gem of wisdom: “If you had changed one thing you did yesterday, today might be different in some way.”

Duh. That can’t possibly be unique to my sign (Gemini). Hell, even legitimate scientists know that, and even have a term for it: the Butterfly Effect. It’s at the heart of chaos theory.

At the risk of starting a flame war (oh, wait…that won’t happen. This is Medium, not Facebook), I view astrology in the same light as Biblical prophecy: if God indeed has a plan, it’s indistinguishable from someone who has no plan at all.

And to all you “prophets” out there, make your prophecies public before they happen, not after.

Daily horoscopes aren’t worth the newsprint they’re published on.

 

That’s Me in the Corner

Posted: 19 December, 2018 in Atheism, Gender, Rants, Religion
Tags:
That’s Me, Losing My Religion

Or to be more accurate, I didn’t lose my religion: it lost me.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Growing up as a PK (Preacher’s Kid) had is advantages and its drawbacks. On the negative side, I was always in the eyes of the community — especially a problem when the community is so small that when you sneeze at the east side of town, somebody on the west side says, “Bless you!”

I couldn’t get away with anything.

But there was also a positive side,which became quite useful when I hit high school. That was back in the day when parents wanted to know everything there was to know about the young man who wanted to date their Mary Lou.

But being a PK, I was spared the third degree simply because of what that label implied: a safe, high-minded, perfectly-behaved young man. Emphasis on safe.

Silly parents! If any one of the girls I dated had told their parents just a fraction of what went on in the back seat of my daddy’s car on those dates, I wouldn’t be here to write this today.

Leaving Lutherism

Just as my father rejected his parents’ Anglican (Church of England) heritage in order to become a Lutheran minister, so I moved on from mystery father’s faith into Hinduism, Buddhism, the Baha’i’ Faith,finally arriving where I am today: perhaps not quite an atheist, but definitely an agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you.

The problem I have with most religions — or to look at it more honestly — they have with me, revolves around a basic point: who I am.

I am a 68-year-old transgender bisexual woman. It’s more complicated than that, but I’d like to keep things uncluttered.

As such, while many Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc.) may accept my existence, they still won’t extend to me or “my kind” the same benefits and acceptance they do for their heterosexual members.

Yes, I’m referring to sex.

I am forbidden from physically expressing my love for another person except by a hug or a handshake.

The reason? Sex is only for procreation. Therefore, same-sex or same-gender relations are forbidden. Sexual acts that are not done with the intention of producing offspring are prohibited…

…unless you’re a married couple who don’t want kids. Or you’re too old. Or maybe you already have as many as you want. Or one or both of you is sterile.

In that case, by all means, fuck away!

But if you’re gay, bi, trans, or anything other than straight, you’re fucked.

How I long to belong to a spiritual, non-denominational community where I can be free to worship my creator — however I may conceive her — as I see fit. Where I am accepted, rather than merely tolerated.

I am a human being, not a fart in a crowded elevator: I deserve more than merely being tolerated.