Thursday, December 23, 2010

Give it away now

Nothing but Nets Logo With apologies to the Chili Peppers!

In my family, we haven't done traditional Christmas gifts for years, not even drawing names. Mom and Dad were always very generous with financial help, and one year they paid for all of us to go on a trip to Washington, D.C. for the dedication of the WWII Memorial (a memorable trip that Dad talked about often with great fondness...I'm so glad we got to go, because I know how much it meant to him). For a few years, we had a tradition of doing Christmas Bingo, in which we all picked up inexpensive and fun little gifts throughout the year and piled them on a table and played Bingo for them. Mom and Dad would put money in envelopes, and you might get a dollar or you might get lucky and nab a twenty. There were a few gag gifts that returned year after year, like the little plastic head of Michael Jordan that contained gumballs that looked like basketballs, or the infamous fishlight, which was a little flashlight shaped like a fish. Heehee! We had a lot of fun doing that over the years, but haven't done that for the past couple. We kind of decided that we all have so much already, and don't need to accumulate anymore.

This year we went a step further and decided that we would take any money that we might have spent on Bingo gifts and donate it to the charities of our choice. (Mom and I will be giving the great-nieces and great-nephews savings bonds for their future college educations...yes, we're a pragmatic bunch. By the way, when I first typed that, it came out 'savings bongs.' That's completely different, although also potentially useful for college.)

I split my contributions between two charities, different ones from those that get regular contributions throughout the year. First I went local with the Food Bank of Northern Indiana, which obviously helps those in my community who are struggling. In these tough times, the need for help has only increased, and local food pantries have been struggling to help all those who need it.

For my second one, I went international as well as "paying tribute" to my profession, with a contribution to Nothing But Nets, an organization that works to buy mosquito nets and provide education about protection from malaria. We don't think much about malaria here, but it is a devastating problem in other countries: 247,000,000 cases worldwide and 881,000 deaths in 2009. 85% of those deaths occurred in children under the age of five. A $10 mosquito net can literally save a person's life. The Gates Foundation and others are funding research for a malaria vaccination. Until that is available, a net is a simple and inexpensive partial solution to a global infection.

I've made no bones about loving a certain amount of "stuff." Books, music, I have a bit of a shoe problem that I have to work to control...I'm a consumer, and there are presents under the tree. However, it feels good this year to give a little extra to worthy causes (you know...those who are grateful and appreciative rather than wishing that you'd die...haha), and I found great enjoyment in deciding where to donate. (It also tells me that if I ever win the lottery, I'm going to have a blast researching where and how to distribute big chunks of it!)

I was struck this week by Bill Maher's commentary on what can only be called the Cult of Acquisition, embodied by Oprah's "favorite things" show. Best line? "I don't know about spirituality...but if you're losing your shit over a sweater, neither do you."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gayroller 2000

Gayroller Hey, before I forget, you might recall that a while back, I wrote about people treating you shabbily and then asking for money. I neglected to mention in my latest entry that the people hating and hoping for a slow, painful death are also some of the people asking for money. That's right: Give me money and then fucking die! Die slowly, painfully, and alone!

Isn't that just dandy? I really can't help but laugh about it. Someone has much to learn about how the real world works, and someone has a hard lesson ahead of them. Someone is seriously lacking in negotiation skills. Someone should never be an ambassador. Hello, World War III! Do you hear that dry, crinkly sound? That's the sound of the money tree slowly and inevitably withering and dying. Reality bites, life's a bitch, and oh yeah, life goes on. Just ask Jack and Diane.

I briefly mentioned the repeal of the discriminatory DADT policy, but it's worth a little more time and space. Obviously, I'm quite happy about this. I feel it is a civil rights issue, and the policy was discriminatory and wrong. It's been amusing to see some of the arguments against it. The usual...disruptive to our troops, especially in life during wartime (I got some groceries...some peanut butter...should last a couple of days. Jeez, everything is reminding me of songs at the moment!), showering with gays, blahbitty blah blay blue. I hear all this stuff and I wonder why those opposed weren't more vocal when we started hearing about the culture of rape and sexual assault against women in the military, and the failure of the military to fully address that issue? I guess if it's women getting raped, it's not that big of a deal, but even the mere thought of gays getting all rapey and junk with *gasp* other men is enough to send them into apoplectic fits and result in a terminal case of the vapors. Give me a break.

Senator John McCrankypants was the biggest foe, getting all thrombo on the Senate floor and on the verge of blowing out a vein. I honestly don't think he realizes what a complete and utter joke he's become with his endless opposition to the repeal. It was initially "Sure, I'll go along with it if the military brass says it's time." The brass said it's time. Then it was "Well, it needs to be studied." Study conducted. Then it was "This study is flawed." Why didn't he just propose something more preposterous, like "I'll support this when the moon turns red."


I even saw someone comment that what really galled them was that the man repealing this was someone who had never served in the military and has no idea of the culture there. Two things: President Obama repeals nothing; Congress does. Also, the man who initially put this flawed and discriminatory law into place also never served in the military. Your argument is invalid, jerkwad.

I'm so tired of hearing the same old argument about how homosexuality is a choice, and that it is morally wrong because the Bible says so. Here is a newsflash: we don't legislate according to your religious text, no matter who you are. You do not get to dictate how the rest of the country behaves, and you do not get to decide what is morally wrong or right based on your religious dogma. Some people just don't seem to get that. This is a civil rights issue, every bit as much as blacks, Jews, and women serving in the military, which also met with opposition before things were set right. (I guarantee that scripture was quoted in the arguments concerning those groups serving.) That's not even an issue here, because the majority of both military and civilians say that it is the right thing to do. I guess McCain only wants to listen to his constituents when it fits with his own prejudices and biases. Man, that guy needs to retire.

The title of this entry and the picture I included comes from one of my favorite online comics, The Oatmeal. The Gayroller appeared in his strip about how to properly use the word 'literally', and it's one of my favorites. I'll wait here while you read it. tap tap tap See, wasn't that funny? I love it. I even ordered a Gayroller T-shirt when The Oatmeal was having a holiday sale. (I also ordered this one. LOL!)

So get used to it, all you haters. The Gayroller 2000 is coming to get you! But they don't want to squish you or even convert you. They just want you to accept them. Heck, I think they wouldn't even care if you don't accept them...just as long as you give them the rights that are afforded to them under the Constitution. It belongs to them, too, you know.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A sad validation

Hammerhead Usually when I write about something and it is subsequently confirmed, I'm pretty happy about that. I have even been known to do a little victory dance, which consists of some knee wiggling, finger wagging, and phrases like "Oh yeah! Oh yeah!" and "What did I say?!" But I generally break that out only in fun circumstances, like winning a big game, or some sort of political victory. (Repeal of DADT! Oh yeah! Oh yeah! What did I say?!)

Although my previous entry about passing along your own bitterness to others has been confirmed in a big way, I feel no sense of elation or victory. I simply feel saddened and disgusted.

It's bad enough to encounter someone who is so angry and bitter about past events that they are simply unable to function on a reasonable level; someone so twisted and unwell that they cannot maintain normal and healthy relationships, whether in a personal or business situation. A person so vile that they leave people, even years later, ruing the day that they met them, feeling that they have been touched by a genuinely disturbed individual. When I encounter someone like that, I feel as though I've been slimed. Sometimes it even makes me shudder to think of such past associations. (In some cases, I find that I've even blocked such things from my memory. I’ve recently remembered a few things about my first marriage that I had apparently repressed for years. I guess that hearing that your spouse thinks you're possessed by a demon is a tad bit traumatic. Who knew?)

But yeah, encountering a person like that is bad enough. You know what is worse? When that person passes along their charming little neuroses and/or psychoses to others. To the point where others use some of the exact phrases. To the point where they wish the death of those that are hated. A slow, painful death.

Wow. What a legacy to leave behind. Rather than fostering good will and bringing joy to others, your actions bring hatred and discord. In your own abject failure and misery, you find happiness in sharing the misery with others, even those who should never be subjected to hearing such hatred. Instead of healthy relationships, you pass along the recipe for further failure, because you are incapable of setting a good example. Every friendship, every relationship, sometimes even casual encounters, ends up on the trash heap of your life. As Mick sings in "Shattered," "Pile it up...pile it up...pile it high on the platter." And instead of stopping the hatred with you, you pass it on. You can't help yourself.

You live your life by manipulating others and by intimidation. You get what you want by bullying and threatening, and when people don't behave in the way you expect them to, you viciously turn on them. You try this with everyone, and you always eventually fail. People always wise up and realize when they're being manipulated, and they despise you for it. Time after time after time. And you never seem to figure out that the problem isn't everyone's YOU. All of us experience failure in our lives, all of us have relationships and friendships that didn't stand the test of time. But most of us have some that have lasted, and most of us manage to maintain friendly relationships with coworkers, neighbors, and family members. We thrive on harmony rather than discord. When all of your relationships are predicated upon a common hatred, you've got a problem.

And when you pass that hatred along to others, you are contributing not only to further discord, but you are creating another neurotic individual full of fear and animosity. Just like you.

I may never have been a mom, but even I know that is fucked up.