Saturday, July 27, 2013

Townhome Twits Episode IV: Bitch Wars

Read the first couple Townhome Twits here: Sneaky Peeping, here: Snow White, and here: Eyeore.

Our place has excessively limited parking. Everyone gets a one-car garage and two assigned spaces. Visitor parking isn't supposed to be used for resident cars, which means for people like Husband (who currently owns one winter car and two fun cars in addition to the truck and my mustang) we are always fanaggling parking with neighbors.

Directly in front of our house we have one spot. The spot next to ours is Eyeore's, who rents it out to the neighbor across the way and down two places. I'm beginning to think I need to draw a damn map, but my skill with MSPaint is laughable. 

This would be the lady who has been a pain in our collective asses since we moved in eight years ago. She and her three barky little ankle biting dogs (and they are, indeed, ankles can attest) run the complex. Anyway, said neighbor we've called the Bitch since we moved in. Why? Well, the first winter we lived here there was a LOT of snow. The snow removal dudes clear a two-foot wide path where they guess our sidewalk should be, and that winter the snowbanks on either side of the walking path were pretty high. The Bitch's daughter kept parking her car in such a way that she blocked half of our sidewalk. I put a note on the car (not knowing it was Bitch's daughter's car: thinking it was a visitor, since it wasn't Eyeore's) asking please park appropriately so the sidewalk isn't blocked, and PS there's visitor parking around the corner.

This woman knocked on our door about twenty minutes later, screamed at me incoherently while waving an old parking map, and walked away without giving me any chance to respond. I'm not kidding: to this day I think she was screamumbling something about being allowed to park there and how DARE I harass her daughter. But she could've been saying something about doughnuts or dogs: she seemed drunk. After that she became the Whirlwind Bitch: swooping in to snark and bitch about parking and running away before anyone can respond.

She did so again last winter while Husband was in the wheelchair and had home-health nurses and PT people coming to the house. Have I mentioned when the association repaved the parking lot they didn't bother to line and number the assigned parking? Yeah. They didn't (because they're cheap assholes), so there's NO WAY for a non-resident to know not to park in assigned parking.

This time, however, I yelled back at her as she tried to escape.: "I'm SO TERRIBLY FUCKING SORRY that my WHEELCHAIRBOUND HUSBAND'S health aids don't know where to park and you can fuck off since they're here for 1/2 hour a couple times a week when no-one else is home. Oh, and please can you tell your asshole cougarized boyfriend with the very large "my penis is huge, really" truck to park straight so I can get my husband's chair out of our car without scratching anything? Thanks."

She hasn't been back since.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Writing about Writing (WARNING! Han Pictures!)

Thank you, all of you who encouraged me to keep going. Honestly, my couple-week-hiatus wasn't a plea for attention or validation, nor was it to wonder whether the person in question was right: I KNOW he's wrong. That's not the point. HE'S not the point. Ultimately, that friendship was killed by an entirely different subject (after all, I may be pretty damn flexible and accepting, but there are a few topics on which I do not bend).

HE doesn't matter in terms of this blog, because ultimately it's my blog. If no one reads it at all, I'd still write it (which is the #1 reason the premise behind the comment was in error: I don't write to publish. I write for me. If I entertain or inspire argument/thought/reflection, well neat. But it's not my reason for writing).

I took a couple weeks to really think about where this blog started (with NO readers other than very occasionally my husband, who already knew all the stories) to where it is now, and what I want to do with it. I DO have a quick temper and at least enough bare minimum skills with words to cause harm if I'm not careful. I also have a responsibility to myself to balance editing (for the protection of subjects as well as for clear writing) and self-censorship.

Here's the deal, I originally intended this blog to be about my random silly life, and that's how it's going to remain.

That means some days, I'm feeling like this:
 (That's right, my nephew Han is FUCKING ADORABLE. SUCK IT, Prince George!)
And some days, maybe not so much.

DUDE! I'm not sure WTF just happened, but I am SORELY unimpressed. STOP LAUGHING!
(In case you're wondering, his mom gave him the squeeze tube of baby food. OF COURSE he squeezed it...and was slightly horrified at the result. Or, at all of us laughing at him...)

I suppose the best way to put my final decisions on manipulation is: I see a clear difference between attempting to manipulate someone versus entertaining and/or openly influencing someone. I won't lie to get someone to do what I want them to do. I won't arrange situations and people to try to change the outcome.

But I WILL report when situations are funny as hell (or, as is often the case with me, utterly fucked up). And I won't hide when depression hits, or when I'm particularly emotional about something.

So yeah, I'm back.

Now, I'm off to put the Cone of Shame on Chewy. Sigh. One more week of this hell and my house goes back to normal. Just in time for Renaissance Festival to start.

I could do a whole series on THOSE dramas...after the Townhome Twits are finished. Next one tomorrow! 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

An Ethical Hiatus.

Ultimately, 99.9% of my written words are to entertain me...and to get them out of the racetrack in my head, and I started this blog to share those stories with friends who regularly wanted to hear them anyway.

Know what's just AWESOME? When one of those people, someone I thought really got my need to write, accuses me of manipulation (subconsciously or overtly) by making writing available for "public consumption" I have to at least stop and consider the possibility.

The exact words, verbatim:

"If you write for consumption of others, you're MANIPULATING them."
Had it come from nearly anyone else on this planet (barring a very select few) I would've blown it off as ridiculous, malicious, and downright stupid. But this came from someone whose opinion I value. At least, I did. That, along with my motivations for this blog, are currently under review.
verb (used with object), ma·nip·u·lat·ed, ma·nip·u·lat·ing.
1. to manage or influence skillfully, especially in an unfair manner: to manipulate people's feelings.

Even acknowledges the word has negative connotations, that manipulation (in an emotional sense...I didn't reference the physical manipulation of driving a car) is an attempt to influence the minds/emotions/actions of others.

I suppose technically that's true: if I share a ridiculous episode from my life on my blog hoping to make someone laugh because I thought it was funny, am I not attempting to influence my readers' mind/emotional state?

What if I share my opinions on gay marriage, abortion, parenting, current events, or Game of Thrones? Is making my view of the world available outside my own mind an attempt to change someone else's?

Every reason I posted on this blog, on Facebook, even personal view essays I've written for submission to magazines, short stories or even the goddamned novels...they're all under review in my head now. Maybe I shouldn't have written the post on the Texas abortion debate. Maybe I shouldn't have posted anything about depression. Is it ok to put things out there if I put out a disclaimer? Is expressing myself manipulation if I say up front these are just my own stupid thoughts, and I don't expect any sort of reaction or change? Hell, most of the time I'm shocked if someone reads it at all.

I have no interest in manipulating anyone for any reason. The word itself means, to me, attempting to deviously force someone to think, feel, or act the way the manipulator wants them to. (Yes, I know that's a grammatically incorrect sentence.) I'm interested in people: their motivations, their thoughts, their feelings...if I'm in any way underhandedly influencing my experience with another person (even through writing) is INAUTHENTIC. It's not my goddamned place to try to force anyone. Not to my point of view, not to learn what I may be able to teach, not to even understand where I'm coming from.

My writing is for ME: it's my therapy. It's my escape. It's my need. I thought by sharing it I may touch someone else once in a while: give them a moment of escape or commiseration or just a quick distraction from their day. Let them into my life and experience, if they wanted to hang out. At what point is expressing myself an attempt to influence someone else? At what point does it become propaganda, which IS a clear example of manipulation?

The bare possibility that I may be doing it means I need a break to figure out my shit.

Therefore, I'm taking a hiatus from my blog and social media. I don't know how long I'll be gone: I have to figure out what's ok to put out there in public and what I should keep to myself.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

And then this happened...

I'm on my second Starbucks today, so it's possible I'm slightly shaking as type this wired. But I think I'd be both disturbed and amused by this even if I was caffeine-sober.


 It's like TurDuckEn, only...not even a little.

I don't have a reference for's from Facebook (the source of all things random and strange, other than airports). If you know where this came from please comment...I'll gladly add the credit.

And thus I'm removing myself from the interwebz until after the 4th of July, because I've likely stirred up enough hornets AND CamLambEns for the week.

PS: unsurprisingly, "CamLambEn" isn't recognized by spellcheck.

Why Texas Matters, and Why I Support Wendy Davis (from MN)

I don't usually get all political-like on this blog. I do pay attention to politics, though, and I pay attention to the constant erosion of rights that's been happening in this country. It's pretty horrifying, really. And as a woman I've been following the Texas debates over the ridiculously restrictive abortion bill pretty closely, because it's not just about Texas. Let's ignore the dirty and underhanded skirting of the rules and laws in Texas regarding parliamentary procedures, and focus only on the bill itself, shall we?

In fact, it's not about abortion, although the Republicans would REALLY like you to ignore that fact, because screaming "KILLING BABIES" gets them blind support for a bill that effectively enslaves a large population in their state to women's bodies. No, I'm not being dramatic: let's review.

First of all, the 20 week ban is a straw-man intended to get the pure reactive response of pro-lifers. I'd wager $100 that said reactions are by people who only saw the Fox News headlines and didn't bother to read the actual bill. According to the most recent CDC statistics (2008), 91.4% of reported abortions occurred prior to 13 weeks. 91.4%. That means 91.4% of the Texas bill banning abortions after 20 weeks has NOTHING to do with the abortions themselves. If you've listened to any of the testimony at all (it's live-streamed, by the way), you'd hear that most of the less-than-10% of women who have an abortion after they've made it halfway through their pregnancy do so for a medically necessary reasons.

Oh Conservative Texas Legislators: Do you REALLY think a woman who's carried life inside her for 20 weeks would arbitrarily end it? Do you REALLY think a woman should be forced to carry a stillborn corpse to term (which is exactly what would've happened for many of the women providing testimony)? More importantly, who exactly give you the right to judge another woman or family for THEIR choices in this life, and decide for another adult what's best for them and their family?

Are there outliers, women who truly use abortion as birth control? I'm sure there are. There are outliers on both sides. Outliers are OUTLIERS...but this bill focuses on them to distract people from the real issue.
The real issue here is HEALTHCARE for women, and male legislators attempting to control the less-privileged people in their state. Oh, you think I'm avoiding the KILLING BABIES issue? Let's review.

The Texas abortion bill will, in effect, close many of the affordable health care clinics in Texas. Is that an issue for the well off and/or wealthy women in the state? Nope: they can likely afford to travel to the few remaining clinics if they need to. So in practice, this bill removes not only abortion but family planning and birth control from a population of women unable to take time off of work or travel a few hundred miles to see a doctor.

This is in the wake of two major blows to women owning their own bodies and reproductive cycles: Planned Parenthood getting effectively kicked out of Texas via defunding, and abstinence-only sex education. BOTH of these resources educate women on how their body works and what can be done to prevent pregnancy.

What was the Senate's response when birth control was brought up in yesterday's debate? "Use condoms."

Hmm. Aren't condoms a MALE BIRTH CONTROL? So...what Texas Conservatives are really saying is: you're a slut if you have sex before marriage and deserve what you get, because we don't believe you have the right to control your own health care: it's up to the MAN (via a condom) to choose whether you get pregnant or now.

Birth control freed women from the patriarchal control of their bodies through pregnancy...and Conservative legislators in this country have been trying desperately to get the "little woman" back under control. Don't believe me? How many women were on the US Congress panels regarding birth control when Rush Limbaugh called a college student a whore for wanting access to the pill? Hmm.

Oh education is abstinence even using condoms isn't taught as a birth control option.

Now, let's remove the feminist piece of this and focus on the men. What happens when lower-income families are denied good sex education, access to birth control, and affordable/accessible health care (yes, that includes abortions)?

They have babies. Lots of babies. Why? Because human beings are wired to have sex, particularly when they're in love and in stable relationships. Oh, you thought this didn't apply to married couples? It does. The sex isn't stopping: conservatives can try all they like to stop human nature, but it's going to happen.

Women aren't the only population impacted by this bill: the men who love them, their children, their potential children and families are ALL impacted. And when a low-income family has more babies than they can afford as a family, what happens? They're trapped financially. How exactly does a bill that will close the doors to health-care facilities serving this population in particular NOT enslave that very population economically, and how exactly is that better for the children in these families?

Let me say again: this bill does not ban abortion: abortions under 20 weeks will still be legal in the state (and as you can see if you click the CDC link, 91.4% of abortions are done FAR earlier than 20 weeks). This bill is an attempt to control women's bodies, reproductive rights, and economic status by denying health care and birth control via making access so limited and expensive it's impossible to access it. 

Why is this important to me, a Minnesotan far removed from Texas (or North Carolina or Wisconsin or Ohio)? Well, Mark Rubio has said he intends to introduce a nearly identical bill in the US Senate. So yeah, this is important to me. Women (and the men with them) of any social status, economic status, or race shouldn't be slaves to their reproductive cycles. Education and family planning resources have been eroded for over a decade, and now the remaining health-facilities which provide those resources could be closed.

This is absolutely a big deal, and it's important for women AND men to stand up and say clearly: WOMEN CAN CONTROL THEIR OWN LIVES, BODIES, and HEALTH CARE.

Conservative legislators in this country (mostly male, but some females as well) feel they have the right to get between a woman's medical decisions with her doctor. Why? Because their religious beliefs tell them it's wrong. Never mind that your beliefs may not be mine. Never mind that EVERY major religion in the world has some variation of judgement being left to God.

I wasn't aware so many Conservatives' glass houses are stone-proof.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

A Snippet of Paganism - Feel Free to Skip This Post

So, I read a LOT of Spirituality, Religion, and Mythology texts: Wiccan, Pagan, Christian (although the "begat" section of the Bible is irritating, and the King James version is just was heavily edited for "decency" and there are much better, more complete, versions out there), Hindu, Ancient Egyptian, Sumerian, Celtic...yeah. It's a long list people.

Anyway, I found the equivalent of the Wiccan Rede* or the 10 Commandments* when reading about Norse Paganism* (there are a few varieties) the other day. I thought it was I'm sharing. Like I said, if this bores the crap out of you or offends, feel free to ignore this post. Townhome Twits returns tomorrow.

Disclaimer: I'm in no way, shape, or form any sort of expert on Heathenism, Odinism, Astaru, or any other Norse based Paganism (or any religion, really). These are my current interpretations: if you ARE an expert, feel free to elaborate. I'm always interested.

And so: the "Nine Noble Virtues" (with my personal...severely boiled-down for space...definitions added):
  1. Courage: Everyone is scared. Many people allow fear to rule their actions, instead of pushing through the fear and fighting it back, and so they stay stuck. "Luck will often find a man, should his courage hold." Bulwyf, The 13th Warrior
  2. TruthI actually see Truth and Honor as hand-in-hand virtues: Honesty in words and intentions is important: a liar is untrustworthy.   
  3. Honor: If you give your word, keep it. Act with honorable intent and treat others respect. Even when it's really fucking difficult. Honor is in actions and results, the way Truth is measured in words and results.
  4. Fidelity: Loyalty to your family (and I mean the loosest and most important definition of family: the family you CHOOSE. That can include blood relations or not: the people deeply important to you are family).
  5. Discipline: Control of yourself (physical, emotional, rational) prevents others from controlling you, but it takes consistency and work.
  6. Hospitality: NEVER turn away someone in need. You don't know when you'll be on the one needing. Cautious generosity and kindness are often returned in kind, and you never know who that person is that needs it.
  7. Industriousness: Nothing in this world is free: that which seems free has a cost somewhere. Work. Work your ass off. CONTRIBUTE somehow to the tribe. Laziness gets nothing done and provides no value to yourself or your tribe (and I use "tribe" loosely here, as it could mean your family, your friends, your coworkers, your society, your country, your Earth).
  8. Self-Reliance: YOU are responsible for your survival and success. Period.
  9. Perseverance: You can give up, after you die. Pretty simple, really.
I actually think quite a lot about these 9 virtues. They make sense to me in many ways (although I do have some trouble with #5 and #7...laziness is a personal vice of mine...sigh), and combine well with the idea that the energy you expend is what you'll get back (spread kindness, you'll likely see it returned. Don't believe me? Smile at everyone you see tomorrow and say hello).

That led me to the Astaru Folk Assembly's variation of the Nine Virtues (also found on the Wiki link), with which I agree completely EXCEPT for #9.
  1. Strength is better than weakness
  2. Courage is better than cowardice
  3. Joy is better than guilt
  4. Honour is better than dishonour
  5. Freedom is better than slavery
  6. Kinship is better than alienation
  7. Realism is better than dogmatism
  8. Vigor is better than lifelessness
  9. Ancestry is better than universalism  Not for me. I think humans are the same everywhere: there are compassionate ones, nasty one, selfish ones, beautiful ones, ugly ones, generous ones, violent ones, peaceful ones, dramatic ones, practical ones...and every other description you can probably think of, everywhere in the world
This post isn't some big revelation, nor is it an attempt to convert anyone. I think the similarities between world religions are fascinating, and so I shared. Feel free to leave opinions in the comments.

*Yes. I used Wikipedia as my sources. Why? Because it is non-religious and as equally objective (and really, as fact-based as possible when looking at 3 completely different religions) as I could find. Feel free to research further if you choose: there about 10 quadrizillion websites and book on Wicca, Paganism, Norse Paganism, and Christianity out there. And that's probably a low estimate.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Montana in a minute or less...

My sister (Han's mom) got married last weekend in her fiance's dad's Helena, Montana.

There is one, count 'em ONE, direct flight from Minneapolis to Helena, which got us there at 11:30pm. No fancy mountain pictures to be had at that time of night, but Husband and I were greeted by this:
I SEE YOU looking for your bags...
Extra amusing if you knew I had a horrific nightmare two nights before in which I was EATEN BY A GODDAMNED MOUNTAIN LION.


It was a whirlwind visit with my parents and grandparents, sisters, and of course Han, who is both extremely mobile and very opinionated about his efforts (meaning, get in his way and he either growls or screeches at you, both of which are hilariously fun to provoke...not that I'd ever do that).

The Boneless Boy Wonder crawling under the coffee table.
Someone may or may not have taught Han to pull on Husband's beard over the weekend.

Of course I have NO IDEA who would do such a thing.