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Posted by on Feb 9, 2015 in Angry Political Crap, Career, Family, Interesting, Life, Profound, Social Commentary | 0 comments

Feminism: That Word Does Not Mean What You Think It Means

Feminism: That Word Does Not Mean What You Think It Means

Feminism.

The word is charged with meaning. It can bring on all kinds of emotions in most individuals.

That said, for most: “that word does not mean what you think it means”.

It does NOT mean that a woman can’t be a stay-at-home mom and still be respected.

It does NOT mean that a stay-at-home mom isn’t a feminist.

It does NOT mean we castigate stay-at-home moms.

It does NOT mean we get MORE rights than men.

It does NOT mean we bitch at men for holding doors or seats for us.

We get EQUAL rights. That’s all it is about. Equal rights, including the choice of how to live our lives, without being bitched at about it. We get to vote. We get equal pay (well, SOMEDAY, in this DAMN COUNTRY).

But it’s about equality. Not more. Not less. And NOT judging the choices women make.

And yes, men can be feminists too. Because they too can believe in our right to choose how to live our lives. My husband is just such a man.

Feminism: learn what it really is, before you get your panties or boxers in a wad.

 

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Posted by on Jun 15, 2013 in Life, Profound, Social Commentary | 2 comments

Wal-Mart: In Which I Quit in a SPECTACULAR Fashion

In the early/mid 90s, when I was 20, I worked for Wal-Mart.

And the tales you hear are all true.

Understand this: I have always had a strong work ethic.

When I was first hired, I would literally run from one call to another (those calls you hear on the P.A. that are barely intelligible).

I was told by co-workers, “slow down, you’re making us look bad”.

I was the kind of person that responded with: “then work harder”.

That said, I did have a lot of hard-working coworkers that did good work. They cared about their performance and their job. By and large, they were a hard-working crew that did what they needed to do, and often went above-and-beyond.

However, management was toxic. Which, even at the age of 20, told me that those above that level of management were toxic too.

For example, my boss (there were around 4 or 5 bosses just under the store manager) set a task for a coworker and I to set up a display. My coworker and I headed toward the back to gather required supplies, chatting along the way on how to best go about the job. Another manager walked up to us and chewed us out for being lazy and just chit-chatting on the job.

As he continued to chew us out, I grew increasingly angry.

Me: “sir”
Coworker: “…”
Manager: “blah blah lazy idiots blah blah”
Me: “sir”
Manager: “blah blah do the opposite of what your boss just told you to do blah blah”
Coworker (warningly): “…Janice…”
Me: “Sir!”
Coworker (getting desperate, in a loud whisper): “JANICE!”
Manager: “blah blah still talking and clearly having no intention of listening to you blah blah”
Me: “SIR!!!!!

And from there I laid into him along the lines of: how dare he come along and lay into us, treating us like lazy idiots, when were are doing what OUR boss told us to do SIR!

And he kept talking and I kept (loudly) talking over him until I turned on my heel (in his mid-scold) and marched to the back of the store to tell MY boss what this other jerk-off had done.

Know what his response was? “Well, just do what he wants you to do then.”

Me: *mouth falls open*

This, is one of many examples along those lines.

Overall, my immediate boss was good, he just couldn’t, for whatever reason, stand up to the other managers and say “no”.

(Note: if you want to be a good manager, learn to say “no” when it comes to what other people want your team to do. I’ve had 2 bosses that would do that: one at Holt, Rinehart and Winston and another at Fossil. Regardless of how frustrated or angry one of us may feel with our boss that day, we would still follow them into hell. If they said “go”, we went.)

Anyway, back to Wal-Mart.

Understand that I’m the kind of person that generally does what I’m told, especially at work. I’m usually considered easy to work with. Strangely, in spite of an anxiety disorder, I’m also always the person that everyone comments about remaining calm under pressure. Throughout my life, most people like me at school and work. At worst, they think I’m weird, quirky, and awkward but generally like me because I’ll bend over backwards to help a coworker, supervisor or classmate.  I was raised to treat people the way I want to be treated so, by and large, I do.

Until I see a situation as unfair. There is a lot of BS I will put up with in life, especially at work; but I get a little nuts (and was far worse in my childhood and early 20s) when I see things that are not right or just.

Yes, the stories are true: Wal-Mart locks their people in at night if they are not open 24 hours. Ours was back before Super Wal-Marts, so around 10pm, the doors were locked. I can’t tell you how many well-meaning friends and family (even over a decade after) said things like, “surely you were mistaken”. Inside, I’m thinking, “Yes, I and everyone that worked there were too stupid to know how to open a door or ask to leave.”

We were not allowed to leave until management said so. Sometimes, the work was long done, and we twiddled our thumbs while a manager sat and did paperwork (it could go on for an hour or two). I remember one night marching down the hallway and barking that we were quite done and it was time for an inspection NOW. An angry manager came stomping out, did his inspection, and we went home.

Near as I could ever tell, I was the only one that stood up for anyone or anything. I even tried to get coworkers to form or join a union. No dice. And this was when jobs were plentiful and easy to get, especially minimum wage jobs. To be fair, some of my coworkers had been there for 10+ years and had better pay and benefits to hang on to, never dreaming that they could take their experience and move on to greener pastures.

Months later I found work as a bank teller (which is also why I’m picky about what financial institutions I bank with and work for, but that’s another story).

I got work as a teller and gave my boss 2 weeks notice. He couldn’t find anyone to replace me. I stayed on for a month. Then another. By this point, I was working 80+ hour weeks. As you can imagine, I was exhausted.

One night, we were kept very late. Around midnight, I discovered it was because we had a new store manager arriving the next day.

By around 2 am, I’m looking around and can’t find a single thing to clean or straighten. I have always had very exacting standards. If I can’t find something wrong to be fixed, then there is nothing to be fixed.

One assistant manager (at a level under the store managers that were under the store manager) told me to straighten up a square of jeans (you know, the big, square tables covered in blue jeans).

And I’m staring at these shelves of jeans thinking that I can’t find a thing wrong with it. But I tell her, “sure, no problem”.

And she wanders off to give someone else instructions. Meanwhile, I stand behind it, moving my arms as if I was doing something constructive, but not actually touching anything.

She comes back.

Me: “What do you think?
Her: “MUCH better. I can see a big difference.”

Her words will be forever ingrained on my soul.

The second the doors were unlocked, I kicked the giant metal support beam that runs between the humongous glass windows. As hard as I could. And yes, it made a sound. A VERY LOUD SOUND. The manger (the one in the aforementioned scolding) came storming out, yelling, “WHAT’S GOING ON OUT HERE?!”

I proceed to quit in a way that, only years later, I would learn usually only happens in movies.

I cussed him a blue streak, tore my badge off and slammed it onto the ground. I flipped him off, continuing to cuss him a blue streak. I told him exactly what I thought of him and his company, in the most colorful language possible, all the way to my car.

I got in. I went home.

The next morning, my boss calls and wakes me, and asks me why I’m not at work.

Me (incredulously): “You mean they didn’t tell you?”

Him: “No. What?”

Me: “Well, I quit last night. But given the way I acted, I figured even if I hadn’t quit, I was fired anyway”.

He was befuddled. NO ONE had even bothered to tell him about my display.

I hung up, happy as hell to put that job behind me.

To this day, I feel dirty if I have to shop at Wal-Mart because it is the only store around that has the item I need. Now, thanks to the Internet, that doesn’t happen. Sam’s will never see a dime from me. Costco gets my money instead.

Wal-Mart is an evil, soul-sucking Well of Hate. If you can at all afford it, just don’t give them your money.

Oh, and if you think Sam Walton would be turning in his grave, think again. My Dad remembers when Sam Walton was around and says he was just as awful, if not worse, than his kids. Apparently his kids are greedy little shitbags for a reason: “I LEARNED IT FROM WATCHING YOU!”

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Posted by on Jun 18, 2012 in Profound, Social Commentary | 2 comments

The Economics of Caring

And the Impact of Our Judgmentalism

The first few years of my life, because my parents worked full-time, I was cared for during the day by my Grandmother Floyce. Over the years, every time I made a judgemental statement about another person, she’d say, “Now Janice, “judge not lest ye be judged” or I’d just get a simple warning “…judge not…”.

While in high school, I got to know some of the kids labeled “losers”, “dropouts”, “stoners”, “wastoids”, “slackers”, etc. I quickly realized the vast majority of them were incredibly smart. And very bored. And often very hurt. I could tell there was a lot of emotional pain in them. But no adult seemed to be aware of it and only judged them based on what everyone else saw. Or if they were aware of these teens’ brilliance and hurt, they did nothing about it.

But this man does. He does not take the easy path of the zero tolerance policy.

He does what my grandmother admonished me to do: “judge not”. He demonstrates what my Grandmother taught us in every action she performed: “care”. If you’ve read the article about Jim Sporleder, principal at Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, Washington, that is the man I’m referring to. If you haven’t seen this article before, take a look and if you think it’s a bull-hockey approach, hit the Back button and come on back here.

If you think this guy is awesome and you applaud this man and say what an great job he’s done and ask “why isn’t everyone else doing this?” remember: you are part of “everyone”. Are you doing this? And before you answer that “of course!” then keep reading. I’m not done with you yet either. I’m going to appear to go off on a tangent here for a minute. Bear with me.

Jim Sporleder has struck crime at its core: by reaching out to kids who are hurting and rather than punishing them, he listens. He cares. He doesn’t let his preconceived notions of who and what those kids are, and what our society says they are, get in the way of his actions. He does not judge them the way most of us would.

Our prisons are full of first-time offenders, being punished, being “rehabilitated”, and understanding what they did wrong but never knowing WHY they did wrong. They have not been treated from a counseling and therapeutic standpoint, so they cannot understand their own motives or achieve any form of self-awareness. Never truly learning how to fix their behavior, and thus never truly rehabilitated, they are released to commit a more horrific crime next time.

Because no one cares.

Caring is hard. Caring is, at first, expensive. Caring means taking time out of our own exhausting and overwhelming lives, and struggling to have a moment of empathy for others.

There are those that think that caring for others is just some bleeding heart, liberal politically correct crap. I say: in a fiscally conservative world, leaders look for long-term budgetary savings. So if you don’t care, or you think this is a bunch of fluffy and impractical crap, let me put this in terms you will care about.

The short term, non-fiscally conservative solution to crime involves throwing offenders into prisons that politicians and businesspeople gain from both politically and financially. It involves massive paper trails, convoluted laws, systems that don’t fix people but further break them down and then release them into our society. Then, we spend massive amounts of money on police, fire, EMS, hospitals, insurance, and all the things that money must go into to protect us from crime and to help people who are the victims of crimes.

Often, this involves sending people to privatized prisons.

Do you know what a privatized prison is? It is a business. Its goal is to make money.

This means keeping costs low by cutting rehab programs to prisoners, using cheap, emotionally and morally broken employees, putting people in the smallest cells possible, using poor health care, and other “cost cutting” measures, and making sure that those prisons stay full so enough profit  is generated in order for prison owners to make more prisons.

It means making one-strike laws and arresting people for “victimless” crimes. It means sheriffs, judges, laws, politicians, and voters are primed to give the most benefit to those prisons so the politicians and their friends that own the prisons can make the most profit. It means manipulating you and making you care less about others, about reducing all crime and most political issues to “us” and “them”. All so your vote lines a business person’s pockets, so they can line a politician’s pockets.

The long-term, fiscally conservative solution to crime involves fixing INDIVIDUALS as children, and for those we miss, fixing them as first-time offenders when adults. In the business world, this is called risk management: we identify potential problems and fix them so they don’t become real, and very expensive, problems.

Amazingly, my home state of Texas is leading the way on this type of risk management approach. Not stopping crime as far ahead of the curve as I’m talking about, but still making great strides in preventing repeat offenses and demonstrating the fiscal savings.  Texas is leading the way in prisoner reform, building fewer prisons, and actually closing them now.

Texas “…enacted an overhaul package that invested $241 million in treatment programs and diversion options. Gov. Rick Perry, who in the previous session had vetoed a package crafted by the same two legislators, signed it into law.

The result: Texas saved money, the incarceration rate is down, probation and parole revocations are down, the prison population has remained stable, recidivism has been declining, the crime rate continues to tumble to historic lows, and instead of building new prisons at more than $300 million a pop, they were able to shutter the century-old Sugar Land Central Unit.”

Now imagine the financial and social saving when behaviors that can lead to a life of crime are stopped in youth. Imagine a safety net and catching at-risk children before they become criminals.

Some politicians know nothing of fiscal conservatism, despite their claims to the contrary. Their goal is often their own gain, not OUR gain. Yours, mine, your family, your friends, your neighbors, your church, your town, your city, your state, your country. If politicians were fiscally conservative and actually people who cared, these prison systems and our current “justice” system would not exist as it does now. Do you want the United States run like a business? Then think about risk management and vote according to how that would reduce spending and promote long-term savings and growth.

This begins with a change in our perspectives.

Rather than just judging someone for punching another, stabbing another, stealing, drinking, drugs, and so on as “bad” or “evil,” see it as what it really is: a cry for help. It’s normal and natural, due to how we are raised, to look at these people and judge them. It’s easy to look at our lives and how we didn’t take their path.

“Hey, I didn’t do that, so clearly there is something wrong with these people. They’re just messed up and there is no hope for them. Why would I spend my tax dollars on these people? What’s the benefit for me? I’m just trying to take care of my family.”

The benefit is that you pay less when you care. Less money is spent because we’re not running around putting out fires and applying a band-aid to a gunshot wound. You’ve seen this where you work. How much money is wasted jumping around chasing short-term budgets, rather than long-term plans? So even if you can’t care about broken children from a “love they neighbor” standpoint, then care how treatment of other humans impacts your life and family. Care that how we treat others has a ripple effect that could be devastating for you personally when one of those hurting people finds you on the street, or in your home, or at your work.

If we are born with empathy, it’s beaten out of us a children. For some children: literally.

But there are other children we need to care for. Not just the little people. The little child in each of us that still hurts. The “inner child” movement isn’t just a bunch of fluff-bunny hype. There’s some psychological reality to the concept, when applied appropriately.

When you think of yourself, do you think of yourself as you were as a teen? Or in your 20s? Or maybe 30s? When you look in the mirror, or at your hands, do you feel as old as your body is?

No?

There you go.

As children grow up, they experience pain. We’re born with a very self-centered focus that works as a survival mechanism. As for the abused children, they care less about others because they must care for themselves. This can be true even for kids that are not abused. It is a self-preservation mechanism: mommy and daddy can’t be with us all the time. For abused and neglected children, caring for themselves may devolve into bullying, stealing, and acting in their own interests only. Because no one else does act in their best interests.

If we don’t care for them, who will? On a subconscious level, those kids know this. Many older kids are perfectly conscious of that fact.

The lack of caring may not be as drastic as the above example of bullying and theft. For the average person, it becomes: “I’m not spending my tax dollars for druggies to get rehab or food or buy more drugs”. Or, “I didn’t descend into drugs and crime and my life was hard too so clearly that person isn’t worth my time, money, or energy; clearly there is just something wrong with them and not me, so we shouldn’t waste any more funds on these people that are just lazy and trying to steal from us”.

Personally, I’d rather pay to keep someone fed, or even feed their drug habit, than have someone break into my home and hurt my family out of desperation. Even just from a financial perspective, that’s far cheaper for our government, and for me personally. The aftermath of crime on individuals is very expensive. This means that the aftermath is very expensive to businesses and governments too.

We need to care for our children. We need to care for other people’s children. We need to care for all of us grown-ups, that are still children inside those older bodies, that are hurting still. When another person does something hurtful to you or another, rather than just sit and judge them, ask yourself “why?”.

We all judge. I still judge. I often forget what my Grandmother taught me. But remembering to care every day, to care enough to understand those around me, helps me stay sane in a hateful world. Caring does not make me a doormat, nor do I have to allow myself to be a victim. I am mindful that there are some evil people out there and that there are psychopaths and sociopaths. And I remember that many of those who seem “stupid” or “weak” or “bad” are just another one of their victims.

Judge not, lest you surround yourself with people who only see the world in black and white, and when the day comes that you are “weak” or “stupid” you may also find yourself alone. This is the ultimate consequence of “judge not lest ye be judged”. Because when the day comes that you are alone, weak, and desperate, who will help you? Where will your safety net be?

And remember: the surest way to make something happen, is to use the word “never”.

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Posted by on May 13, 2012 in Family, Not Funny, Profound, Social Commentary | 4 comments

The Cliches of Parenthood

Before I had kids, I used to hate the cliché I heard every parent say: “raising kids is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s also the most rewarding”.

I also disliked how I could hear parents complain about their kids and then in the same breath talk about how much they love them.

I never understood how people could give up their dreams after having kids. I never understood how anyone could just be happy being a mother and nothing else. I found the whole concept appalling.

As a child, I didn’t even care about baby dolls. I found them abhorrent. I found babies disgusting. Icky stuff leaked out of every orifice. They always seemed filthy. In high school, the one time I helped a friend baby-sit (a baby, not an older kid), she handed it to me to put clothes on it. I held it for a second, then handed it back saying, “no way”, holding it at arm’s length as if it were something contagious.

Prior to having children, even as a small child in elementary school, all I ever wanted was
a. a career
b. a good, strong marriage to the person made just for me.

I never once daydreamed about a wedding. I dreamed of finding a relationship with a man who would be my love, that I would share my life with. I dreamed of a career I would succeed in and grow prosperous in, in every sense. From Kindergarten age, I sought both with every fiber of my being. Those 2 goals, I worked toward long and hard for as long as I can remember. I never quit. I never gave up. I always held on to the knowledge that one day, I would succeed in both.

In my late twenties, I met the man I’ve now been with for 10 years, married for 6 of those years. After a while, I found myself wanting kids. It wasn’t just a biological clock ticking. It wasn’t just that I wanted babies. I wanted HIS babies.

However, neither of us were 100% sure how we felt about having kids. When he was 13, his half-sister was born. If you want birth control for a teenager, have a baby and let them help care for it. Boom, success! He met many women before me, but you sure as heck can bet there were precautions that resulted in no babies.

In the early months of our relationship we discussed, as all heterosexual couples should when they begin having sex in a new relationship, what would happen if I found myself pregnant. We both decided we were OK with the idea, but frankly preferred no babies any time soon.

Seven years later, upon a doctor’s advice due to medical concerns, I went off the birth control pill that I had been on most of my adult life. My husband and I again discussed the possibility of me being pregnant and decided we would just play it by ear and see what happened. We were in no rush, somewhat interested, but not 100% ready.

For a year and a half, I didn’t get pregnant. I even got to finally finish college (after 17 adult years of working toward that goal).

A few months after graduation (of course), I got pregnant.

At the time, there was some information I lacked.

1. At the age of 35, a woman is more likely to have twins. With each passing year, the odds increase. The rise of multiples in modern society is not just from fertility drugs, but the growing number of women waiting until 30s and 40s to have children. Basically, our bodies say, “we’re running out of time! Bombs away! Fire them all! Go! Go!”. Our bodies begin releasing multiple eggs each month in an attempt to increase the likelihood that we will become pregnant.

2. Twins run in my husband’s family. And they run in mine, on both sides. All those years of my Grandmother telling stories about Big Boy and Tiny, she neglected to mention that they were twins. No one ever told my husband or I that twins ran in our family.

Thanks guys.

Just a couple of minutes into my first ultrasound, the technician said, “Congratulations. You’re having twins!”.

In the 10 years we’ve been together, it is only the 2nd time that I’ve seen my husband at a loss for words. He sat quietly for 10 minutes, staring at nothing, while I howled with laughter and tried desperately to reign that hilarity in so the technician could do her job. It was not the insane laugh of someone going to the gallows. It was a laugh of acceptance at the joke the Universe played. Because my reaction was: “of course! Hey if it was going to happen to anyone, it would happen to us”. There is nothing “normal” about us, our relationship, or our lives.

So here we are, two and a half years later. Having children is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and it is the most rewarding. It is the hardest job I have ever loved. Some days, I want to throttle my kids while at the same time I want to hug them and soothe their hurts.

People say these sentiments because we have no other words for the feeling. It is said because over 1,000s of years, the feeling has been become as well-expressed as we ever can with our limited vocabulary.

Or, as my mom says, “having children is like falling in love all over again”. What it does to mothers biologically is astounding, fascinating, frustrating, and thrilling.

So all of those cliches that frustrated me before I had kids, and all the parents that annoyed me before I had kids… Well, let me put it like this: if you don’t have kids, you understand, in theory, what it it’s all about. But like sex, until you have it, everything you think about the subject is only theory, and sometimes baseless opinions.

This is not to say being a parent makes someone better than another person. Only that we are different. As with all things in life, no one can truly comprehend a situation until they find themselves in that boat. And as with all things, knowing on an intellectual level is completely different from full comprehension due to immersion in that experience (or as Valentine Michael Smith said in Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, “grokking in fullness”).

I now grok the cliches. I grok in fullness the conflicting feelings that are part of being a parent. I grok that this is one of the hardest life experiences I will have. I grok the sacrifices, the deep and gut-wrenching sacrifices, all parents make to raise their children. I know I will find harder sacrifices as my children grow up, and I will welcome them. Being a mother, especially a good mother, is one of the best accomplishments I can ever do, no matter what else I should ever accomplish in my life.

Happy Mother’s Day to you all.

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