I think most activists have a list of phrases they hate to read on social media. And it’s rarely something obvious like “Heil Hitler” or “feminazi cunts must die.” Those are easy, and obvious, and when one of them happens to you, you can pretty much count on both friends and strangers jumping in to deal with the problem. Continue reading
There are a lot of things that I should like, but don’t. Things that seem to fit into my wheelhouse, fall in the center of the Venn diagram of my interests, but when I try to engage with them I just… meh. Steven Universe. Literally any podcast. Political memoir. Whatever Wil Wheaton is up to. Buffy (Whedonverse edition). But there’s one that I don’t talk about much. Something that I, as a 40-something white woman who has sometimes moved in lockstep with financial precarity and who likes wine, dogs, and clothes should be all over. And I just…. I can’t.
Need a hint?
The pens showed up on my doorstep three days after I started work, and a month before my contract was signed. “These are my favorites,” the note from my new boss said. There was a red pen, a black pen, and a notepad that said SHIT I GOTTA FUCKING GET DONE on it.
A couple weeks ago, we wrapped up six months of work on the single hardest project I’ve ever completed. Sorry. Make that six months, one package of sheet masks, two “dorm food” care packages, some bath bombs, and I honestly can’t remember what else because there was a 96-day work week in there.
It’s caretaking in the age of the internet, when our friends can touch our hearts but not our hands.
I didn’t meet anyone even remotely like me, growing up, and where would I? Our entire town had 800 people, a cop who sold Avon, and a heavy metal school bus driver. The mayor quit mayoring because he had a better get rich quick scheme. But here? On the internet? My people abound. But we’re not more statistically prevalent than we ever were, just because we can find each other now. That means they’re in Seattle. Chicago. Philadelphia. Perth – yes the one in Australia – and Toronto. A small town in Wyoming that you’ve never heard of. Houston and Austin and heckifiknowitsnotontheirprofile and Halifax and New York.
And it’s good to have community. It’s crucial to have people who really get you. Who you can talk to and trust. But a day will come when you’re sick, and you can’t get to the store, and the difference between emotional and physical community is sharp enough to cut you.
Or your friend in Oakbrook can Instacart you some soup.
Last month, my friend hurt herself. I set a calendar reminder for her to ice the injury. Another friend got a tube of burn ointment.
I can’t cook you dinner, I said. No, I typed it. Because she’s three thousand miles away. But can I PayPal you the cash for a pizza?
A pillow showed up on my doorstep: one of the cool ones with the back-and-forth sequins. In one aspect it’s a glittery pillow. In the other, it’s cheerfully obscene. I have a handful of “pills” stuffed with notes of support. A couple (also obscene) embroideries. A woodblock print. I mailed off a hand-illustrated book about a chicken last year.
We find ways to take care of each other, via this wacky little internet where we found each other. Whether it’s a Facebook event set to post thousands of Pusheen stickers to someone, or a grocery order. Whether it’s a first-aid kit that means “I love you and I want you to be safe” or a bunch of rubber stamps from the thrift store, we reach out. When someone’s hurt, or a kid needs medicine we find something. Even if it’s just a couple dollars. We help.*
“Kids don’t send letters anymore,” someone mourned. I don’t know. Maybe millennials are killing the post office. But somehow? I doubt it.
*But we shouldn’t have to, oh my god, can we get some healthcare up in here pls. Do you have any idea how much CHEAPER it would be to pay an extra hundred bucks in tax every month for free healthcare than to pay what you’re paying for insurance that doesn’t even cover you? What the fuck?
Last year, I planted food for the first time. I mean, beyond my scrubby blueberry bushes and the blackberry I’ve given up and embraced. It seemed like the thing to do, in 2018, to spend the days following former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement of a “zero tolerance” border policy, the days in which children were officially, rather than surreptitiously, taken from their parents and caged in makeshift shelters, in Walmarts and tent cities, to spend those days buried to my wrists in the soil, giving something, at least, a chance to grow. Continue reading
I am writing on Election Day 2018. For some reason, it feels important to me to put that date on the post. Or, that date marker: Election Day moves. It is a moving target, but it is always a Tuesday and it is always in November, here, the season of dying things. Continue reading
Being alive in 2018 is, as I noted in a Facebook post today before I decided I wanted to be more verbose, like playing the shittiest game of “would you rather” ever, where the questions are made up by terrible people and the stakes are a lot higher than who buys the next round. Continue reading
In architecture, a pediment is the nifty triangular thing that goes above the columns on classical Greek temple fronts (and alllllll the architectural styles that later mimicked that imagery). You know: it’s the bit on the real or fake pedestals.
I want to talk to you about pedestals, but not the real ones. Let’s talk about the pedestals that some folks claim to put their partners on – and why that’s a huge red flag.
It sounds pretty great, though, doesn’t it? “I put my lovers on a pedestal.” Sounds like “I worship them” or “I look up to them.” But it’s not. It’s “I don’t want to interact with my lovers as though they were humans, or be bothered by anything that isn’t my ideal image of what they should be like.”
When someone says they’re putting you on a pedestal, here’s what it means:
- They don’t intend to interact with you as an equal. In fact, it would be better if you just shut up and let them continue to project their image of you.
- They expect you to be grateful for their “worship” which may take the form of gifts or gestures that you don’t find meaningful or may actively dislike. Expressing anything but gratitude may result in you being branded “high maintenance” or “cruel.”
- They don’t want to be contradicted about anything, especially their vision of you. If you have your own likes or dislikes or interests outside of their vision, they will consider those individuations “defects.”
- They expect you not to challenge their own perfection: after all, everything they are doing is for you, why are you so ungrateful for it?
I know that doesn’t sound much like worship. In fact, it kinda sounds like you’re supposed to be worshipping them, doesn’t it? Hate to tell you, but that’s the thing encoded in “I put my lovers on a pedestal” – it’s a reverse Pygmalion effect. I mean, I think it would be great if Pygmalion and Galatea lived happily ever after, but I strongly suspect that as soon as she wanted something he didn’t want her to want, he started treating her like shit.
It’s at the base of a lot of incel and MGTOW bullshit, too. (Link to wehuntedthemammoth for folks somehow still unfamiliar with the terms. This is a deep rabbit hole. Wear waders and prepare to bathe in bleach afterward, even through the sanitizing filter of WHtM perceptions.) “Why won’t women just be GRATEFUL for the attention WE want to give them, the WAY we want? Why do they have to be actual people with actual preferences that we might have to pay attention to?”
Here’s the thing: That pedestal feels great when you’re climbing up onto it. It takes a while to realize that you can’t actually be seen up there. But don’t you deserve to be seen, and appreciated, for all of yourself rather than a foreshortened and idealized view? I think you deserve it.
So I fucked up the other day. Continue reading