Promisses No. 8: Your Own Worst Critic

I’ve been writing, and it’s scary.

I mean, I’m always writing, of course, but I’ve been writing in a way that I really hadn’t been for several years. It’s fiction, this thing I’m doing. The kind that’s pompously, idiotically dubbed “literary fiction,” I guess you’d call it (it’s all “literary,” in my opinion, any given piece of writing, if there’s any shred of creativity or artistic expression in it at all), which just means it doesn’t have a plot that moves enough to apply any other genre to it, unless and until it takes one on as it goes along.

I have my doubts as to whether it’ll ever be publishable (or whether I’ll want it to be), but it’s a thing that’s important to me to write, personally, about some stuff I’ve been through. It’s therapeutic. And, who knows? Maybe it will be A Thing, someday. It could happen. The point is that I’m doing it because I want to and feel like I need to, and (for now) I’m committed to it. I’ve set, and so far (four or five days in) kept, a relatively modest goal of 500 words a day. (And I’m sure that I’ll be flexible on that, in the future, as I inevitably need it.)

And each night, at about 300 words in (and often several other times before and after), I come to the fully supportable and almost certainly correct conclusion that this thing I am writing is The Worst Thing That Has Ever Been Written. I still occasionally get that with my other writing, too; it’s just a part of the process. That feeling nearly convinced me not to publish last Friday’s post on women and tattoos, which, whether it’s a good post or a bad one, ended up being the most-viewed post in this blog’s short history nearly twice over (if you’re curious, and you’re not, the previous leader was my inaugural “Beauty of a Woman” post). I’ll often have to find a way to trick myself into sending a baseball article, which I’ve fussed over for hours already and which is the kind of thing I’ve written hundreds of times before, finally hitting that “send” button to my editors so abruptly and almost impulsively that I sometimes won’t even realize that I’ve actually finally forced myself to stop fretting and send it. I’ll probably edit this ten times before morning, and who cares about this? It’s just part of being a writer. Or at least, it’s a part of being me, writing.

That, the nagging worry, is a pretty significant impediment to my progress on this…novel or whatever it is, but I push through it. Eventually, that is — maybe after playing five games of Bejeweled Blitz and opening up four new Gchat windows and trying with limited success to start some big dumb conversation/fight on Twitter and watching an episode of Dr. Who — I do finally push through it. And I get to the end of my planned 500 words (or 600 or 1000 of them) and glance back over what I’ve done, and you know what? Well, it might not be good, per se, I’ll never be convinced it’s ever going to be anything good, but it won’t be nearly as awful as I thought it might be while I was in the middle of it. Never once has been.

Promisses missed you terribly last week, and today reminds you (me) to turn off that nagging dread and worry in your (my) already overcrowded, tiny little brain.

Own Worst Critic

Fist-bump to my lovely wife for the initial suggestion on this one.

Loveliest of Fridays and weekends.

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Tattoos, and Misogyny, and Dumb Kids (again)

I didn’t think I’d write here this week, for several reasons. But there’s a certain kind of garbage that crops up on the internet now and then that’s great at pulling me out of my little mindless stupor.

I don’t have any tattoos, and neither does my wife, and I can’t say there’s any sort of void in my life there. List off the usual reasons for not being interested, and I probably have all of them. I hate pain, of all types (I’m a real weenie about it). There’s not much that I’m so passionate about now that I’d want to display it 24/7 on my body, let alone stuff that I’m confident I’d feel just as proud of 50 years from now. It’s just not the kind of thing that I’d spend real money on, somehow. And so on.

I kinda dig them, though, on others. I had a woman who cut my hair a few years ago who I hope doesn’t read this (that’d be weird), but she was, and presumably still is, vibrant and spunky and friendly and frankly adorable and did all kinds of awesome and creative things with her time when she wasn’t cutting hair, and she had both arms and her back absolutely covered in highly colorful, completely absorbing art. Not my thing personally, never my thing, but they were her, totally, and I really admired them. It gave me a new appreciation for the whole idea, really; if you’re passionate about something, and that’s what works for you — for whatever that means — I think it can be a pretty beautiful thing.

What I guess I’m trying to say with all this is that OH HOLY HELL PEOPLE ARE AWFUL, as evidence of which I offer the following:

Tattoos and Other Easy Ways to Ruin Your Body” [EDIT: I seem to have a knack for this. He’s deleted the post and replaced it with an apology that actually seems reasonably sincere. EDIT AGAIN: Now the whole blog is private. But it seemed sincere!]

You may have gathered from the title alone that this was written by a man, and a dyed-in-the-wool misogynist, one who claims the right to speak to all women and on behalf of all men based on his own extremely ill-formed and unsupportable opinions, maybe even one who’s exceptionally young and just head-splittingly naive.

And you’d be right about those things. But you still wouldn’t really have a firm grasp on exactly how dumb and offensive this is.

So here’s a taste:

Women, let me tell you something that your friends and many guys will not. Your tattoos are ugly. We do not like them. We respect you less for them. We think you’re a pawn without a sense of solidarity in a world that pressures you to conform.

Note to all male bloggers and writers, the younger and less experienced the better: always start everything you write with “Women, let me tell you something.” They love that!

Also: all men, everywhere? Even me, even with what I just said above about kind of loving them sometimes?

Yep!

Even if we’re not conscious of this belief, we hold it. Men who gush about the sexiness of girls with tattoos do this because they are culturally trained to do so.

Culturally trained. Culturally trained! You either agree with the opinion that this author has formed across what must so far have been just a depressingly sheltered 23 years — an opinion which is in large part about aesthetics, the most subjective thing in the world — or you’re a pawn, a victim of the great cultural indoctrination.

There’s a ton of ignorance in this, but I love the idea that “culture” is something that exists separate and apart from people, or from men. Like there’s a thing that all of the 49% hates, but we put up with it, and some of us convince ourselves that we like it, because this headless monster The Culture instructs us that we must! Cruel mistress, The Culture.

So we’ve been informed that all men hate women’s tattoos and that the men who don’t hate them are just too stupid to realize they hate them. We now get the parade of horribles, the reasons why a woman getting a tattoo is the worst thing. Might as well:

1. Because it’s where another man left his mark on you.

This is exactly what it sounds like: her tattooist was probably a man, and letting him put a thing on her (that she’s asked him and will pay him to put on her) is “lending him a level of familiarity over [her].” And I can’t decide how refreshing/terrifying it is that he actually recognizes the thing he’s doing here:

Does this fall under the category of what the mainstream media calls “jealous men calling normal things cheating?” Yes. Does that make us wrong? No. A man has marked you and you will always carry his handiwork.

asdfadsfkj.

Forget for a moment that the whole idea of a man “leaving his mark” on a woman, like cattle, is repulsive, and pretend that this kind of pathetic sniveling emasculating fear and jealousy is ever even arguably okay. A guy she doesn’t know (if it’s a guy; she’s apparently in the clear on this point if she finds a female tattooist) carried out a job that she asked him to do, maybe even just transferring something she designed herself on paper, because it’s important to her, and she paid him for the service. If this is the kind of thing that makes you jealous akin to the way one might react to a cheating spouse (worse, since this apparently applies to all women who may ever be in a relationship with a man, whether they’re single when they get the tattoo or not), please just don’t bother with human contact of any kind, ever, for the rest of your days. It’s not going to go well for you.

2. Because tattoos were primarily a symbol of prostitutes.

Well, okay. He cites to an Amazon page selling a book containing a highly unscientific 1933 “study” that’s apparently available nowadays as kitsch, like those little yellow “How to Make Love” pamphlets from the 1940s. But even if it’s true, it’s a good bet — and I’m not going to look this up — that earrings and other piercings and many modern hairstyles and clothes were once a symbol of prostitutes, too. Anyone who sees a tattoo in 2013 and thinks “WHORE!!!” (and he’s very clear that he’s talking about all tattoos here: butterfly on the ankle, the whole bit) might just possibly have some issues that don’t really have much of anything to do with body art.

3. Because your desire to participate in the counter-culture betrays a rebellious heart.

That’s a sentence, I guess, barely, but it doesn’t appear to mean anything. The point is apparently that the purpose of all tattoos is rebellion against something (patently ridiculous), but that they’re so commonplace that getting one makes you a “sheep” — even that it’s not getting one that really makes you a rebel, because everybody’s doing it!

Now, assuming they were that commonplace (and he later moronically cites a study that supports none of his points and in which about 13.5% of female participants had a tattoo — and this is outside my scope, but he apparently hasn’t had time in his 23 years to learn about the whole correlation-does-not-imply-causation deal), the unspoken assumption that “getting a tattoo” itself is the expression, rather than what that tattoo displays or means to the person, might be the single most braindead mistake in this whole braindead mistake of a post.

4. Guys and tattoos

Well, this isn’t a reason anymore, he just wants to really carefully spell out what he’s saying here, in case you missed it: that he hates women, essentially. That men can have tattoos (though he doesn’t like it), because, in essence, they’re not subject to being owned and dominated by the other sex. (In his actual words: “Like sleeping around, the detrimental effects of a guy doing this are much less severe. It’s not fair, but neither is child leukemia or Cystic Fibrosis.”)

The conclusion might be my favorite part: “We will never respect you for having [a tattoo]. You will lower your social value by having one and limit your choice of potential suitors.” Hi-larious. The next study I’d like to see is a comparison of the “potential suitors” of the average tattooed young woman to the “potential suitors” of one karamozov1989. Really. I’d buy a ticket, if they could sell tickets to a study somehow.

One of my first posts here reflected on some incredibly dumb things that had been written by a college senior for his student newspaper, and wondered if it wasn’t a really bad idea to make the half-formed opinions of some poor college kid whose whole outlook will probably change nine times in the next five years freely available to anyone who wants to read or mock them on the internet. The author here is 23 — out of college, presumably, but not substantially different from the roughly-22-year-old there. It takes some of them a while to figure out (and some never do) that their set of ideals and beliefs, no matter how fervently held, just can’t be applied to and forced on everyone generally, or to figure out that they haven’t actually learned everything they need to know yet, and that some of those ideals or parts of them might ultimately prove to be among the stupidest things it’s possible for any person to think.

Ultimately, though? Shit this stupid is out there, and sometimes when you’re reminded of that, you have to take it apart. It’s like intensive therapy for the world’s general awfulness. And dammit, it feels good.

Promisses No. 7: Being True to Yourself

Short! To the point! I forgot to do this last night!

This is pathetically short so I’ll chat a bit below the weekly necessity. Adapted from a suggestion by my baseball-writing partner and heterosexual lifemate Mike Bates.

Identity Theft

What else can I tell you? Hmm. I really liked this post by Amber about Angelina Jolie, and it goes right along with my recent theme of whining about dumb shit people do on Facebook. I’d always thought of Jolie as an obnoxious, utterly frivolous loon prior to this, and I have no idea whether what she did was smart or right or not and no idea how I could know (though it seemed pretty reasonable to me, and brave to come out with it). All I know is, she’s really rich and almost certainly consulted several really good doctors in making this really, really hard decision, and if you’re not a doctor and are judging her based on things like your own personal experience (“I have breasts and don’t have cancer!” was basically the sense I got) or a mistrust of the medical profession generally, you are a Part Of The Problem. Though I suppose it’s better than mourning Brad Pitt’s loss of her boobs.

I’m a big fan of those Damn You Autocorrect things (fake or not), so this made me laugh a lot more than it probably should’ve. You’ve gotta flip all the way to the end for the punchline (more like punch-in-the-gut-line! o-ho!), but I’m a bit sad to admit I chuckled through the whole thing.

Speaking of comedy, my wife and I are going to see Mary Mack tomorrow, and I’m awfully gosh-darned excited about that. She’s very Midwestern (northern Wisconsin, though Minnesota has managed to really claim that whole accent, so I’m comfortable calling her Minnesotan) and sings little folk-y songs and is funny. I imagine it’s an acquired taste, but I love her. Here she is solving the problem of gang violence! Enjoy your Friday.

Celebrating the Homocalypse: My Post-Traditional-Marriage To-Do List

487576_10200982950486922_2109154223_nYesterday, the state senate of Minnesota — the state in which I was born and currently live — voted to approve a bill that, when Governor Dayton signs it today and it takes effect on August 1, will make Minnesota the twelfth state to legally recognize same-sex marriage.

It’s a really minor, minimalistic bill, when you look at it.  In the sentence “Marriage, so far as its validity in law is concerned, is a civil contract between a man and a woman,” those last five words are replaced with “two persons.” That’s pretty much it, with a few more deletions made for consistency, a few gender-neutralities, and a whole bunch of language added in to make sure everybody knows we’re not making any religious leaders do anything that violates their beliefs. That’s it, really; couple snips here, a few extra words there. And yet, its importance can’t really be overstated. Minnesota is doing a great thing today, extending a significant right to a group of people that’s been kept from it for way too long.

I’m happy, and I’m proud. Mostly, though, I’m excited, because from listening to the warnings from opponents of marriage equality, I know that I suddenly get to do a lot of completely awesome shit that I didn’t get to do a day ago. Here are six highlights (some of them kind of irreconcilably contradict each other, but that’s the way these things go):

  1. Well, I’m not married anymore, obviously. The group that sponsored the anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment that I was sure would pass just six short months ago (and that probably inadvertently created this whole glorious mess) is called “Minnesota for Marriage.” Now, Minnesota for Marriage exists to limit the availability of marriage strictly to the heteronormative majority, which seems downright Orwellian of them until you realize that what they’re really doing is attempting to protect marriage as an institution by opposing this only-ostensibly-nondisruptive addition to the definition. When we “redefine” marriage such that it applies to any two willing adults and does not depend on one of the two actors owning a vagina and the other a penis, MFM helpfully informed us many times over, it will mean the destruction of the entire institution of marriage altogether (just yesterday, they said it “upends our most foundational institution”). These brave people tried — and failed — to defend my marriage and yours from this insidious attack.
    And this seemed like a bad thing, at first, the total destruction of marriage. I mean, I love my wife and kids a lot, and there no longer being any marriage at all kind of complicates things there. But then again: Doritos and cupcakes for dinner! I’m gonna call this a win, provisionally, until I get a tummy ache or something.
  2. I’m pretty sure I can own a Christian now. This has been all about religious liberty, we’ve been told. Minnesota law already firmly prohibits discrimination by businesses, including discrimination based on sexual orientation. But, it didn’t previously allow for same-sex marriage, so a business that was unwilling to perform services relating to a same-sex couple’s wedding couldn’t have engaged in a prohibited form of discrimination, you see, because those weddings (and in some legal senses those couples) didn’t exist! So by extending equal rights to same-sex couples, Minnesota has viciously attacked religious liberty by acknowledging that one certain plainly discriminatory practice is in fact discriminatory. (And we’re not even forcing religious institutions themselves to do it, by the way, only for-profit businesses, like florists and cake decorators. Wait, we’re worried about anti-gay florists and cake decorators being forced to cater to gays? If only the gays had other options in those fields!)
    Clearly, this all-out assault on the Christian faith and way of life can only end in the full-on oppression and ultimate enslavement of some practitioners of the religion with which about 70% of Americans still identify. In other words, we’ve got gay marriage now, so I get to own my very own Christian!
    Now, I have my qualms about this. I’m very much a Christian myself, for instance (UCC), so that makes me feel a little uneasy about owning a brother or sister of the faith, and slavery as a principle is very two centuries ago. But I don’t make the rules, just take advantage of them; some closed-minded fundamentalist Christians previously were at liberty to hold bigoted and hateful opinions of homosexual individuals without having to deal with any potential consequences of that hatred in their businesses, and that may in some limited cases no longer be true; this apparently means that those Christians don’t have any liberties anymore at all, and we own them. Bit of a mixed bag, that, but I’m pretty sure I can make it work for me. I’ll be a kind master.
  3. We’re changing the definition of marriage that’s been in place for thousands of years. This is another one that’s a bit hard to give up. As a participant in a marriage that follows the rules established over thousands of years, I’ve enjoyed being able to freely use and enjoy concubines and to essentially be the only human in my household, dominating my wife and family in every possible way, but I’ll tell you, if I were ever to get married again, I could do without having to pay that substantial dowry. My wife can’t own any property separate from me, though, so I expect I’ll recoup my losses on the way out.
  4. I can literally fuck a duck. I mean, obviously.
  5. I can marry more than one person, or a child. I’m pretty happy with the wife I’ve got (1. above notwithstanding), but who couldn’t use an extra hand around the house? We’ve had a lot of electrical and plumbing problems, and neither of us is terribly organized; rather than calling in an all-purpose handyperson or maid and paying through the nose every time, I think maybe I’ll just marry one of each. And apparently, since two consenting adults who love each other but happen to have the same genitalia are absolutely no different from a creepy old guy who wants to marry “a consenting nine-year-old girl” (who is legally incapable of “consent” but nevermind that), minors are fair game? There’s a thirteen-year-old down the street who’d be a pretty great babysitter for my kids, but that costs a lot of money over time, so I’ll just marry him too.
  6. Next time I see a dude I kind of like, I can just decide to marry him. Some conjecture with this one, but given the fear and discomfort and defensiveness with which homophobic/hetero-supremacist bigots have greeted the otherwise totally neutral-to-them extension of the right to marry, I have to assume (as Jon Stewart did) that now that we’re allowing gay marriage, on some level gay marriage is mandatory. Like, if I see a guy, and I like him, he has to marry me. Single or attached, gay or straight; we’ve allowed same-sex marriage now, so that dude is mine. I think that’s how it works, anyway.
    And, I mean, I’ve never really been tempted before — I like women kind of a lot, it turns out — but now that I’m single and an owner of Christian people in this brave new hellbound world, you’d better believe I’m gonna be open to it. I’ll be on the lookout for guys with skills I don’t have (organization, carpentry, washboard abs) and high earning potential. You’re probably not attracted (you may view it as kind of like kidnapping at first, in fact) and neither am I, but we can make this civil contract work for us, dammit. We’re a gay-marryin’ society now, so we hafta!

And all that just scratches the surface of this post-religion, post-morality, orgiastic Sodomite utopia in which we Minnesotans now (effective August 1!) live. We have decided that any two adult people who love each other ought to receive the equal treatment under the law that is guaranteed them by the Constitution, you see, and that that Establishment Clause in the First Amendment to the same suggests that individuals’ access to those rights ought not to be dictated by other individuals’ (or even a majority’s) religious beliefs.

And making those ostensibly commonsense decisions has doomed us. We’re all going straight to hell, and fast. But it sure sounds like fun. Now, who wants to go raise a child in mother-figure-less depravity?

Promisses No. 6: This Stretches the Gimmick to Its Limits

I don’t have any cutesy/unsettling phrases for today.

You know Facebook? That place where your uncle posts book-length and just shockingly racist rants about who-can-even-tell and your dad keeps accidentally posting his mildly embarrassing search terms as status updates and your mom has an account only to permit her to keep tabs on [pictures of your kids/the people you’re dating/the people she thinks you should be dating]?

Yeah. Worse than all that are the many, many shared photos or links or status updates that (much like, and having some overlap with, the plethora of phony quotes) are just completely untrue and (unlike many of the quotes) are remarkably easy to disprove or verify, via a simple Google search that leads you to a really, really useful website that (in most cases) will quickly give you a “True” or “False” and get you on with your day.

It’s annoying, like the fake quotes can be annoying, but it gets worse than that. Yesterday, a friend shared this photo (originally posted, I just happened to notice, by a racist gun nut and Benghazi-conspiracy loon who really hates our president). It notes that would-be rapists sometimes drive what appear to be unmarked police cars with lights on top and pull their intended victims over. This is true. It also claims that if you continue driving and dial 112, you’ll get straight to the police dispatcher and they’ll be able to help you. This (in most places) is false, and nowhere in America is dialing any number other than 911 a better idea than just dialing 911 is (but for God’s sake, yeah, keep driving).

My friend removed his share (maybe he Snopes’ed belatedly, or someone like me got to him), which is why I had to go through Benghazi-nut’s page and find it again. But at this writing, it’s been shared nearly 918,000 times. And that’s just this version; no doubt the same or similar misinformation is being spread around a number of other ways by now, just as you can find a dozen different images displaying the same fake Marilyn Monroe quote. 

This isn’t merely obnoxious; it could really hurt people. If you take this to heart and are in an area where 112 doesn’t work, and you’re in danger, this mistaken belief — your friend’s failure (and yours) to spend five seconds googling something before hitting “share” or just blindly trusting random stuff on Facebook — could cost you your one chance at escape.

So, people, please. Listen to Dove for once:

Snopes

Promisses No. 5: Life is Short

I almost forgot to do this today. But I didn’t!

I’m still thinking about Jason Collins and Cookie Monster Pants, and how important it is to really take charge of our lives and be ourselves, and, relatedly, to stop wasting time on things that don’t matter, that aren’t authentic, that aren’t us. Y’know, man?

Today’s Promisses message probably takes that idea too far.

CMP Promiss

Have a great Friday! It’s snowing here. On May 3. Next week’s Promiss may be “Move to Costa Rica.”