Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Waiting Game

Watching time go by...
Lately all I do is wait. I'm just waiting. My own version of purgatory.

"A 34? Proceed to window 7. A 34? Proceed to window 7."

That is what I may as well hear. Because I'm waiting.

I'm waiting for responses to my doctoral applications. I'm waiting for those responses because I cannot make any choices without that information. Honestly, I haven't determined the choices I would make in hypothetical scenarios. So I snap at those closest to me. I curl in a ball on the couch. I hold on to the present as best as I can, as best as I ca wait.

I'm waiting for feedback on my nonfiction book. Waiting to respond to all those social media posts that clearly don't have experience in the things I do. That don't seem to understand what they are saying to people who share my secret life. Waiting to reveal myself, my history, for all its horrors and glory. Waiting to make a splash even as the waters are dark, filled with sharks and blood. Biting my nails. Donning my armor. Watching. Sharpening my sword. Waiting.

I'm waiting for someone to read book 4 in Khloe. Waiting to be ready to reread it. To rewrite it. To draw the cover that it is meant to have. To be inspired into that art. Waiting to publish it, for those fans loyal to the series. Waiting to push it against all those science deniers...waiting to connect it to the stories of the extreme things that should only be the stuff of fantasy, but are real. The drought...the storms...the insane snow...are real...and where do they come from? Waiting.

I'm waiting to get that mentor promised me. Waiting to hear back from websites. Waiting to get help recording videos - recording audio - creating platforms. Waiting to have enough time to work out. Waiting to decide what I want to do with my life. Waiting to pay off my debt. Waiting to change the world. Waiting to have people understand my deepest depths. Waiting to get a job. Waiting to be independent. Waiting to have the benefits I so desperately need - the rewards I so richly desire. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

I am not a patient person. I have done all that I can do to prepare. I have done all I can do to hold on to this vision in my head of a future, of a more wonderful life. I just can't wait any more. I can't stand another day. I can't stand another hour - another minute - another second. It is crushing my spirit - my mind - my heart.

I just want to hear...

"Alexis? Proceed to window 1. Alexis? Proceed to window 1."

Monday, February 16, 2015

Who Never Read 50 Shades

Recently there has been a war in social media about 50 SHADES. I have a theory about why.

For the most part there are three groups in this fight. The first says the book is poorly written but entertaining drivel. They say it has nothing wrong. There were no rape scenes. It wasn't abusive. It's just erotica etc etc.

Then there are others who read it and hated it not because of the writing quality necessarily, but because of the message communicated to women and girls about BDSM and sexual relationships.

The most extreme warriors in this battle are those who never read the book and will not see the movie. These are the people who have started Twitter campaigns and written editorials. These are the people who unfollow and unfriend fans.

I think the first group has lived in blissful ignorance of the experiences of the other two. The fans cannot have experienced physical abuse or sexual violence and comfortably enjoy these books. How can you read about someone getting hit or humiliated or dominated and feel comfortable if you experienced sexual violence or physical abuse yourself? Maybe these fans have never experienced overt misogyny. They don't know what it is like to be told, in no uncertain terms, that they are worthless because they have a vagina. Whatever the case, they have seemingly gone through life unscathed.

The second group, my guess, has had some abuse experience either through friends or family, or directly to a mild amount. They have suffered at the hands of someone with more power. They have experienced or watched someone else suffer through something. They are allies to those who have bore the brunt of the abusive statistics and they recognize the connections between popular entertainment and the normalizing of such behavior.

The last group, the anti-fans, are the ones we really need to pay attention to. These are the people we need to take the time to understand and empathize with. These are our canaries in the coal mine. I believe these are the most likely to have suffered directly. They are the ones who were manipulated, molested, beaten, or raped. They are the ones who were stripped of their power by someone they trusted. They were the ones who have been told by society it was their fault. They are the ones who discovered the very people closest to them would not come to their aid when they were abused.

When I was younger I was told by a friend, the people who are most sensitive, most outspoken about abuse, are those who have experienced something directly. Let's consider the statistics. 1 in 3 women will be sexually or physically abused in their life time. That is ONE BILLION WOMEN. Of the women alive today, one billion of them have or will be abused physically or sexually.

That's a lot of people.

Think about your Facebook feed. Think about your friends. Think about your Twitter, G+, and Instagram followers. Think about the people you grew up with. How many of them reacted poorly to this book? The movie? Maybe they were impacted directly by abuse. It is possible. It is likely.

Statistically you know someone who has been raped. You know someone who was molested. You know someone who was beaten. You know someone who was verbally abused. You probably know many someones. Just because it happened doesn't mean they would tell you. Don't assume you were judged to be a safe person. These are the things we don't talk about. These are things society says are shameful.

So if you are a fan of this infamous piece of pulp, think about what it tells those people, what they hear out of your mouth: I am not safe. I am not going to protect you. I stand with your abuser.

And all you thought you said was, "It was a fun Saturday read."

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ignoring the News

Sunflowers to brighten the day...
I seriously need to stop reading the news. Just completely. I need a news detox. I need fluffy cats, fuzzy bunnies, and baby videos. Lots of silly baby videos. And Saturday Night Live. Some Tina Fey.

Part of the reason is I get so pissed off when I read it. Part of it is I get so depressed. I lose faith in humanity and the world generally. I just get this awful aching feeling in my gut and that small voice in my head says,

"See. We are going to Hell in a hand basket. Soda and peanuts for a charge..."

I wonder if the world will be okay for my son. What will happen to him? I wonder if I will continue to see the blue sky and green grass, or if we are doomed to super winters in some places and legendary droughts in others...forever. For the rest of my life. For the rest of his.

I wonder why leaders think it is a good idea to go to war when we aren't taking care of our recent vets, let alone civilians at home.

I wonder why people intentionally want to hurt others while couching it in terms of "personal choice" or "maintaining national identity."

Looking at pictures of new babies on my social media feed and I think, what do they have to look forward to? Is it enough to be fed, be loved, and have a place to sleep? Is that enough? Because it feels like nothing else is certain.

Despite these feelings of desperation and depression, I cling to my one true solace - my one true love - my words. Precious, perfect, wonderful words. At least I write the light as well as the dark. That is some solace. And maybe someone reading it will be impacted in a positive way. I can't know. I can only hope. But the hope is what keeps me going.

My most consuming project is not Khloe, though I love that series and gives me hope. No. My most consuming project is dark, difficult, and real. It really happened. That is what makes it so painful, so awful. And I relive it as I write. I relive every second. Anyone who has experienced what I have knows this. When you write, when you talk, it is being back there. And I don't do it because I hate myself, or I want to beat myself up. I relive every second in hopes the lessons I learned, my experiences, were not a simple personal thing, but something that others can grab on to. I want someone else to read about me and know, in her heart of hearts, "I am more than this," and "I am not alone."

We are never alone. I hold on to this thought every day.

There is my husband, who can make me laugh at the drop of a hat. He has this magical ability to crack my mother into hysterics, which makes everyone laugh, because its such a strange full body thing, she gives herself over to the experience so completely. It is such a joy to see someone else enjoying life. It is infectious and I can't help but crack into hysterics along with her.

I look at my son, who both relieves and creates stress. He relieves it because he is full of smiles and laughs, and play. He is full of wonder and life and love and I can't get enough of it. He is a source of stress, not because of the tantrums and the buttons he pushes. He is a source of stress because I know the evil in the world, and I wish he will never experience it...but he will. We all do at some point. We all know evil. There is no avoiding it. And that stresses me the hell out, because I know, even if I do everything right, I cannot protect him from the world.

So I need to avoid the news. I need to forget about Brian Williams and other talking head lies. I need to avoid the fact that police and civilians alike shoot and kill each other over the most mundane and preposterous awful things. I need to forget that women still fight for a voice, and alternative genders struggle to have even the space straight women have. I need to forget that war rages, and violence stains hands and dirt. I need to ignore the fact that we may have killed our species through some Icarus type hubris.

So please, send me your best cat videos. Send me your fuzzy bunny memes and your witty sketch and improv comedy. Recommend a good guided meditation and a fantastic quantum physics article about how small and pointless this human experience is in the vastness of space. I need a break.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The American Slave State or The Delusion of Freedom

Recently I got into a discussion with my husband over ideology. The question was, does personal ideology - or the way we think about our personal lives - impact political or public ideology - our behavior in the public sphere?

I would argue yes. Always.

This was a problem for Christian because he finds libertarian thought very attractive. And it is attractive, especially to Americans. The idea of being free, of being able to choose every aspect of life is a nice dream. But if a person believes this should govern their personal choices, it will impact their political ones.

Having freedom to choose whether to breastfeed, smoke, carry firearms, eat meat, or hunt are not personal choices. They are also political ones. Breastfeeding, for example, has long term health and psychological benefits to both the mother and child. It necessarily costs taxpayers less if mothers breastfeed. This is not just a personal choice any more because it impacts society at large.

Smoking has been linked to any number of health ailments. The potential cost to taxpayers is enormous. Again, it is no longer a personal choice, but a public and therefore political one.

Carrying firearms is not a question of being able to defend one's self, or even the pleasure of going to the range. In the face of children being shot daily or the mass shootings so regularly committed, it is a question of public safety. It necessarily becomes a public issues, and therefore, highly politicized.

Even eating meat is a political choice. By eating meat raised in large farms where animals are in close quarters and extreme amounts of waste are produced and dumped, sometimes to the detriment of the local environment, this becomes a political issue. This is not to mention the treatment of the workers, which necessarily impacts their physical and psychological health as well as their family structure.

Hunting, of course is a political issue as well. It is not just personal, especially when certain hunters pay to shoot from helicopters as herds try frantically to escape the rain of bullets. This is not a question of personal freedom, but necessarily impacts the environment, and therefore impacts future generations.

These are the same kinds of questions that come into play over the vaccine debate. It is quite clear the personal choice of a few have life and death consequences for the many...therefore the personal choice is not personal at all.

There is no such thing as as a strictly personal choice. All choices have far reaching impacts. All choices impact the communities in which we live. For this reason, extreme freedom is extremely dangerous.

It is often said that freedom is the cornerstone of American society. Freedom of expression and freedom of religion are often cited as benefits of living in the US. And they are. They are wonderful gifts that French and English philosophers inspired American leaders to codify into law. And I am grateful for that every day. However these are not personal freedoms. These are political ones. To think for one second that our freedom to be Baptist or Buddhist is a personal choice is delusional. The moralities associated with such a choice are inherently political - inherently impacting public life.

If this is true, then we cannot allow extreme freedom. We must control the amount of freedom people have, not as punishment  or in an effort to prevent people from being free, but to protect the rights of the weak and marginalized in our society. In short, we must limit the extreme freedom of the few in order to protect the freedom of all. These who benefit from such limitations are the victims of extreme freedom. These are the voices who are silenced by moneyed interests. These are the people who are shot, who get cancer, who suffer environmental degradation because some are given the extreme freedom to.

A society cannot be healthy when the rights of some necessarily hurt others. A country cannot hope to successfully continue when its foundation requires the subjugation of some to allow for the freedom of a few. This is not freedom. This is enslavement of the many by the few.

Legislating extreme freedom to, therefore, is a legitimation of the slave state. It is perpetuating the consolidation of power and freedom in the hands of a select few privileged members.

How does this happen? By those select privileged members spreading lies and spinning half truths to the masses. By letting us think we have freedom, by successfully deluding the many into believing we all have freedom to, we continue to allow our enslavement. We are, in short, handing our power over to our masters.

This is not a question of small or big government. This is not a question of assuring everyone has "personal" freedoms. This is a question of everyone getting their basic humanity respected and protected. This is a question of assuring that everyone has their basic needs met. This is a question of life and death.

So I remind you, the personal is by its nature political. I remind you, extreme freedom is no freedom at all. The rights of a few are not worth more than the rights of the many.