I was having an awesome eyelash day, yesterday. Like, stupid, too-good-to-be-true good. Good eyelash days are far better than good hair days, because, if your hair looks like a small family of rats has recently taken up residence within its matted strands, you can always wear a hat or a scarf or something. They don’t make hats for eyelashes. Fortunately, yesterday, mine didn’t need one.
I’m calling this one: “Things You Can Do When You’re Unemployed.” In addition to afternoon drinking, obvs.
Behold: the results of donating plasma, as seen on my right arm. This is the same arm, which, as you may recall, was abused last Thursday by an incompetent phlebotomist. Much as I’d like to give this dude a pass by assuming that Octopharma’s employees suffer from low morale due to less-than-competitive wages, resulting in work performance that looks like, you know, my arm, I’m pretty sure that’s not the problem. Given the fact that a second phlebotomist came to my rescue and drew blood from my left arm with technical proficiency that would’ve made a robot feel inferior, I’m pretty sure that the maiming of my right arm was done by an individual who is also known as as That Guy Who Definitely Smokes Something Before Work, But We Can’t Figure Out What.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s an experience I’m happy to tuck under my belt, especially since the $30 I made bought me a fat bottle of wine and several new additions to my job interview wardrobe at Goodwill (I’ll wear your granddad’s clooothes), where I also found a ribbed tank so gorious, I believe that its fibers were cured in Jesus’ tears before it was sewn together. Behold!
Donating plasma is just of the many activities that I didn’t have time to participate in before losing the extra weight of my fundie Christian boss who did stupid fundie Christian shit like never missing an opportunity to bring any actual work that might be taking place to a screeching halt in order to correct any employee who dared to shorten “Christmas” to “Xmas.”
During my time of unemployment, for instance, I have not had to turn one pair of underwear inside-out because I’d run out of clean ones for lack of laundry-doing. I’ve prepared home-cooked meals for my family. I have maintained trimmed and styled hair (you would not believe how phenomenal it looks when I actually brush it). I’ve developed an exceptionally-close bond with all the pets in the house. I have even whitened my teeth with something other than Photoshop. Best of all, though: I have the selfies to prove it. Shall we?
I am not ashamed to admit that I have also taken two of the greatest photos of my butt that have ever turned my cell phone into a liability. I wouldn’t be ashamed to post them, either, but what little propriety I possess is standing in my way. I know; I’m a little surprised, too.
Colorized Bettie Page beautiful backside. Original here.
I Donated Plasma (and Possibly Some of My Dignity)
As you may have heard (or not, whatever, you know now), I have been spending what are typically my working hours at home now for a few weeks, searching for new and more gainful employment. Not being bound to a desk all day by this invisible chain called a paycheck, I’ve spent my time producing more delicious but very possibly (say it with me) diabeetus-inducing home-cooked meals, and fewer blog entries. Just in case you were wondering.
I guess we’re a fortunate little lower-middle class family, because, with his job, B has been able to keep us afloat and even pay for a few weeks of daycare in the name of an uninterrupted job search for Mandy. Unfortunately, though, this tragic (shut up, it IS tragic to me) budget squeeze has required us to cut back to the necessities - and I think we all know how I feel about necessities. Unless I get to define them, you know, but, as the only person in our home who prefers wine to three square meals, AND the one without a job, I’m pretty much SOL on this occasion. So, today, I decided to give back a little by donating plasma for some extra
beer money cash.
From the jump, I felt a little slighted by the fact that I would receive a smaller sorry-we-stole-part-of-your-blood compensation package than my fellow donors who were lucky enough to weigh over 150 pounds (THE HUMANITY!) would be given. I wasn’t too unhappy with the amount they gave to people who can’t help that they’re small dammit, so I moved along with the process.
No one has ever had trouble accessing my veins. I’m not saying those little blood subways are EASY, but they don’t typically object to being poked, either, if you get my drift winkety wink wink. Today, though, of all days, when we actually stood to make some money instead of losing it to a doctor, my veins suddenly developed some dignity and retreated far beneath my armskin to sulk and refuse to come out and play. Or, you know, maybe the phlebotomist sucked. Either way, they plunged the needle what turned out to be way too far into my right arm, took only half of what they needed before it was tapped out, and had to stick me again in my left arm unless I just wanted to leave without my blood or my money which NO.
As I sat there, wondering how an organization that pays individuals to give up their bodily fluids in a fairly unpleasant procedure has the gall to turn away individuals who have had sex for drugs or money since 1977, my phone rang. Taking the call would have violated the rules of the donation floor, and I didn’t want to risk an infraction that could get me kicked out without what appeared to be most of the blood in my body, so I let it go. I did, however, manage to discreetly (I think… my bar for this shit is so low) listen to the resulting voicemail, which was left, it turns out, by my job recruiter. She had called to report good news, although she revealed no details (but, I mean, really, there are only so many kinds of good news an employment agency can deliver to a job seeker). I’d been in a pretty docile, it’s-all-good-I-don’t-use-that-vein-for-anything kind of mood, up until that point, but, after hearing the message, I started clenching and unclenching my left fist with a vengeance, unable to think about anything other than returning the call, in hopes that I would soon be spending my afternoons earning more than the $30 this vein-abusing place was paying me.
After I finally escaped into the main lobby and returned the call, it turned out that the news was, indeed, very good: I passed the online test I took earlier this week as a perquisite for an interview with the company I’ve been dying to work for. Can I get a HOLLAAA up in here?! The final interview, in all its glory, is tomorrow, followed, hopefully, by my acquisition of 100% company-paid insurance, guaranteed bonuses and the extra $10k a year that I did not earn at my last job.
I’m not trying to sound like I’m better than all my fellow donors, but I’m pretty sure that nobody walked out of that place happier today than me.
Mother Plans On Spending Nothing On Her Son in 2013; is My Hero
See this lady right here? We have a lot in common. Her adorable child bears a great resemblance to mine (thus the adorable), she has a blog, and she has resolved to avoid spending any money on her son this year. Why the stingy parent business? I’m glad you asked.
I grew up digging through sale bins at thrift stores and yard sales for Barbies with clothes, battery-operated toys with still-charged batteries, or - and this was solid gold - a Polly Pocket toy with the Polly doll still inside. This gave me the impression that low-budget childrearing was the norm - right up until I had my own child to rear. Then, I stopped ignoring the images crowding my social media feeds of the latest and greatest accessories that my friends were buying for their offspring - offspring that couldn’t even ask for a snack yet, let alone demand expensive toyage.
I get it: consumerism is a powerful force. Sure, many of us don’t all feel all that compelled to buy our children this year’s version of Tickle Me Expensive as a matter of necessity. Be that as it may, though, most of us still want to avoid being known as the Goodwill Parent. And, in today’s “pics or it didn’t happen” world, it’s hard to give the impression that you’re buying the shit without actually buying the shit. And, if you’re not buying the shit, what ARE you buying, you selfish asshole?!
In the end, this whole thing comes down to every parent’s weakness: our desire to give our kids the best of everything. It’s a marketing strategy particularly effective on frightened and uninformed pregnant first-time moms, which is probably why it’s so played-out that it makes Call Me Maybe look fresh and exciting. But is a $50 pair of shoes for a kid who can’t even walk yet really “the best?”
I’m not sure what my takeaway would’ve been, had my childhood been ruled by consumerism. I do know, though, that I wouldn’t have learned that commercials aren’t a very good source of information if my parents had bought me everything I saw on TV. A go-kart that wasn’t rigged with a tiller engine and pool mat seats wouldn’t have taught me resourcefulness. Buying new, name-brand clothes wouldn’t have been a lesson in how to spend a little money and look a lot awesome.
Most importantly, there is my mom’s mantra, “You didn’t need new toys; you had each other! You were happy with sticks and dirt.” Without it, I wouldn’t understand the importance of family, and how much more valuable it is than anything you can get at Babies R Us.
Almost as good as Cheaters: undeniable evidence of my partner’s maaaybe-too-close bond with our “first baby,” Little Bear. Our trial run may have failed in the potty training department, but we are co-sleeping PROS. Obvs!
Ok, yeah, this is about my ten millionth posting today, I know, but we have a lot of catching up to do, y’all. The good news is that this photo set brings us all the way up to last night, when my allergy to Texas (doctors remain unsure as to whether the reaction is triggered by the local foliage, or by bigotry, both of which are so prolific in this area that it’s impossible to rule either out) caused my lips to swell to Octomom-like proportions. Since my plastic surgery budget is unlikely to ever climb higher than its current limit of $.99, I made sure to memorialize that fucking magical moment on film. You’re welcome.
More awesome things I didn’t share with you over the Holidays: Grizzy Graham had his first bubble bath. At first, he was a little perplexed, but, after extensive research in the form of a taste test and consultation with his dad (the one where he’s looking up like he just saw Jesus was taken when B walked into the room; go figure, the parent who didn’t even facilitate the bubble bath gets all the credit :P), he finally decided to join Team Fuck Yes Bubbles. And it was adorable.
Good morning, followers! The Holidays are mercifully over, and I’m getting ready to set my 2012 In Review entry free. In the meanwhile, here: I made this. Originally, I just wanted to adapt a version of a Facebook cover I’d recently designed for my iMac wallpaper, but, in the end, this piece’s designage somehow ended up being way cooler than that of its source of inspiration. So, I thought I’d share. Because I’m awesome like that.
Murder by Proxy: How Missing the Point is Killing Americans and Fucking Up Our Kids
Normally, when Barry loses interest in a film and tries to switch to something else, I shrug and let it happen. But, tonight, I let him sulk, because Murder by Proxy: How America Went Postal just blew my mind more than any other documentary I’ve seen this year. It was released in 2010, but, obviously, today, an introspective on American killing sprees in the workplace - and beyond - remains incredibly relevant. Sadly, as the film points out, that relevance is probably gonna stick around for awhile.
“The enemy is the postal service. Well, you can’t kill the postal service…. The actual victims are pawns.” Murder by proxy is the act of inflicting that ultimate act of vengeance meant for an enemy upon someone else. The film examined the working conditions in the Postal Service, beginning in the ’80s, during which time the term “going postal” was coined, because postal workers just seemed to be unable to stop coming to work with guns and shooting each other. The higher-ups insisted that these individuals were just bad apples, but postal workers had another story to tell: these violent outbursts were the result, not simply of the mental illness of their perpetrators, but of the abusive working conditions adopted by the Postal Service in the ‘80s.
“To suffer abuse in silence in exchange for a paycheck is the unwritten rule for many American workers.” And it’s not any better today – a full 70% of Americans say that they are unhappy at their jobs. It doesn’t seem much of a stretch to think that the 2.5 Americans who die as a result of workplace violence every day are sharing their very own unsavory piece of that pie.
“When we tolerate the corporate practice of abusing workers with impunity, it belittles our society. It dehumanizes us… The mass murder phenomenon could not be confined to the workplace. It was only a matter of time before it spread to the rest of American society.”
Although this kind of alienation occurs frequently in the workplace, many Americans feel marginalized elsewhere in life, as well. A cursory glance at the profiles of various perpetrators of mass shootings reveals that this feeling of isolation and victimization that seems to be completely irreparable is responsible for many, if not most, of these killing sprees.
Here’s the thing: yeah, in America, we treat a lot of people like shit – in the name of capitalism, especially. That these people are marginalized, and the flaws in our society that cause them to be marginalized, though, is only half the problem. Yes, we know these people feel that injustices are being committed. Quite often, they are correct, and those injustices are in dire need of reparation. But what about the method which these individuals continuously utilize to take those reparations into their own hands? Is violence really a natural response to perceived mistreatment, or might that response be learned? Let’s face it: our society’s attitude toward violence is the other, unspoken half of this problem, and we ignore it to the tune of some pretty devastating fucking consequences.
I’m not here to talk to you about lax gun laws or violent video games. The question of whether or not these issues contribute to the prevalence of violence in our society has been debated more than enough, with each side loudly making its claims, missing, for all its obviousness, that these are not the cause of our problem with violence; they are symptoms of our problem with violence.
You can’t turn on the TV and flip through more than a few channels, at any given time, without seeing a good guy fighting injustice by incapacitating the bad guys. The weapons and the degrees of deadliness that are exacted differ, but the use of physical force to right wrongs is extremely prevalent, and most of us got our first taste of it in programming made for children.
Our high esteem of violence as a method of squelching enemies stretches far beyond movies and TV. Are men naturally predisposed to greater degrees of violence, for instance, or does a society that tells men that they are failures if they don’t physically confront that guy who just made a pass at their girlfriend at a bar cultivate a dangerous atmosphere?
I know what you’re going to say, “But you’re supposed to kill the BAD GUYS! Not a building full of postal workers or a schoolhouse full of children!” And you’re right. Technically, in at least most of our traditional attitudes towards violence, it’s seen as a solution in black/white, good/evil situations, in which the good guy has to defend the innocent from the bad guy. These situations abound in our media, but, let me ask you: how often does this happen in real life? How many times is the purely evil gunman taken down by the purely good gunman, with no grey areas, no what-ifs, no blowback, period? How often does the perpetrator of an act of violence feel they’ve made the right decision, only to discover later that it was wrong, or that public opinion found it to be wrong?
An individual must certainly be mentally ill to walk into a crowded room and start unloading a clip on its occupants. But even the mentally ill are not immune to the influences of society. Their motives and their targets are misdirected, but their behavior is in step with what they have been taught. Even down to ending a killing spree with suicide, as so many of these shooters do, is textbook hero stuff; how many films have YOU seen in which the protagonist, down to his last grenade, pulls the pin and clutches it, beckoning his enemies over to take as many out as possible before his own death? And let’s go back to that asshole in the bar thing: if mental illness is the only factor at work here, why are the overwhelming majority of these murderers men? Could it have something to do with the fact that our society associates violence with masculinity?
I don’t know how we, as a nation, should go about addressing this problem. I haven’t a clue. But, if you’re a parent, or a teacher, or an aunt, or an uncle – hell, if you interact with kids ever, at all - and you’re reading this, think about how you can pass on the importance of peaceful solutions. You can’t protect your child from every bad influence, and you shouldn’t feel that you must, but you can provide context. You can stress the importance of peacemaking, and teach them to value human life – even the lives of humans who treat them unkindly. You have a chance to help stop the cycle. Just as the abuse of a single employee can lead to a workplace massacre, an act of kindness can help to save lives. We have to start somewhere.
Photo Credit: Jessica Kirkham.