Transphobia: I don’t get it

There seems to be a lot of controversy around transgender people and their use of public bathrooms. There are some (read: bigots) who seem to think that if transgender people are allowed to use the bathroom assigned to the gender they feel comfortable in rather than the one they were assigned at birth, perverts the world over will get the idea that if they throw on a wig and some make up, they’ll be free to hang out in ladies rooms and molest women of all ages. This logic makes no sense to me because the very same people who think this way put a pervert who wears a wig and make up and openly brags about sexually assaulting women in the White House.

Let me go ahead and break this down for you piece by piece and using small words so that your tiny pea-sized brains will understand: TRANSGENDER PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE TOO! That means like all people they go potty. It also means that they should have the same basic rights you and I do.

But what about our daughters? Don’t they have the right to potty in relative safety? What if some pervert pretends to be transgender and tries to molest them?

Fact: More Republican lawmakers have been arrested for sexual misconduct in public restrooms than transgender people. It’s true. Google it. I’ll wait. But more importantly, if you’re so concerned for your daughters’ safety why exactly are you not escorting them into the public restroom?

She’s a teenager. What if she’s out with her friends?

Seriously? Have you ever seen a teenage girl out with her friends go into a bathroom alone? That’s what I thought.

But what if she’s on a date with her boyfriend?

Then the boyfriend is the one you should be worried about because I promise you he’s the one who’s trying the hardest to get at your daughter’s bits below the belt. But if you’re really that concerned about her using a public restroom by herself, teach her how to defend herself. Hint: the answer is almost always kick the groin.

Well I still think there ought to be a law requiring people to use the bathroom assigned to the gender they were born with.

Of course you do, but let me ask you this: How exactly would we go about enforcing such a law? I don’t know about you, but if someone walked up to me in a public restroom and asked me to show my genitals, I’d punch that person in the throat. You complain about how high taxes are now. Imagine how high they’ll be when we have to allocate public funds to enforce a ridiculous law on who uses which bathroom.

Why don’t we talk about the real issue here, that being your obvious transphobia, hmm? I get it. People fear that which they do not understand. You’ve always felt comfortable in your gender and don’t understand how anyone possibly couldn’t feel the same way. Okay think about why people dye their hair. Let’s say you were born with blonde hair, but as you age, you start to feel like your hair color just doesn’t fit you. You try everything. You try styling it differently, different cuts, etc and you still just don’t feel comfortable in your own skin as a blonde and you think you’d rather have brown hair, so you dye it. No big deal right? Sure some people may hate on you, but you’re happy and that’s what matters. At its very core, this gender issue is basically the same. Admittedly comparing changing gender to dying one’s hair is perhaps oversimplifying it and doesn’t entirely do it justice. After all, it’s not very likely that your parents will disown you for dying your hair. However for the purposes of explaining something big and complicated to people whose minds are small and closed, oversimplification can be a useful tool.

But what if my kid turns out to be one of those freaks?

Come on. Really? Transgender people are people just like you and me. They’re not freaks. We talked about this. A chance meeting with a transgender person in a public restroom is not going to turn your non-trans child trans. It doesn’t work that way. Frankly the fact that you think it does makes you a very special kind of stupid. If your child is going to be trans, it’s going to happen and there’s nothing you can do about it at this point because you see, your child has already been born and oh my God I can’t believe I have to say this in 2017.

When you were expecting your child before you knew what his/her gender was going to be, you didn’t care right? When people asked you said you just wanted a healthy, happy baby. So um…what exactly has changed? Why would you feel any differently now? Do you not love your child? Seriously what the hell is wrong with you? If you disown your transgender child, there’s a very special place in hell for you. I’m also going to need you to take that Jesus fish off the back of your car because anyone with your lack of compassion and tolerance has no right to call themselves a Christian.

Fine but they should have to use a separate bathroom from the rest of us.

Oh sure and while we’re at it, maybe we should make them use separate water fountains, make them sit in the back of city busses, and go to “separate but equal” schools. See, that’s how legal precedent works. First it’s a separate bathroom and then down the slippery slope we go until we bring back segregation. But here’s another fun fact about legal precedent: When the Supreme Court rules something unconstitutional, it’s pretty much game over for that law. Newsflash! In case you missed it, Brown v. Board of Education ruled state-sponsored segregation illegal in 1954.

I have a novel idea for you! JUST PEE OR POO AND MIND YOUR OWN DAMN BUSINESS! If the person in the restroom looks like a female from the waist up, assume she’s female. If the person looks like a male from the waist up, assume he’s a male. What goes on in the stall is between you and your deity of choice, so why should it be any different for them? What’s below your waist is none of their business so why is what’s below their waists any of yours? Seriously how old are we? Grow up! Just do your business and mind your own.

How to Talk to Women

*Blogger puts down soap box and steps up on it*

Here it comes another one of my classic rants, folks! Consider yourselves warned!

<Begin rant>

I can’t believe I have to say this to grown men in 2017, but here it goes: There’s a right way and a wrong way to talk to women. It’s true! You really can speak to women in a way that doesn’t frustrate, annoy, offend, or otherwise aggravate them.

 

The first step is understanding that YOU ARE THE PROBLEM! We’re not over-sensitive. We’re not triggered snowflakes. You’re just an asshole. Don’t feed me a load of crap about how women are by nature irrational and prone to emotional reactions. That simply isn’t true and for God’s sake it’s 2017. Don’t bother bringing up our menstrual cycles either. We have years of experience dealing with our own hormones or as I call it riding the dragon. Call me Khaleesi. We’re not frail, emotional, reactionary creatures. Political correctness isn’t out of control. Stop making excuses.

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Keep talking. I dare you.

Now that we have that out of the way, the next step is very simple. It’s called SHOWING WOMEN SOME FREAKIN’ RESPECT! That means not taking a condescending tone, not interrupting us, and not mansplaining when we ask you a question. Mansplaining is defined by the fine folks at Merriam-Webster as “when a man talks condescendingly to someone (especially a woman) about something he has incomplete knowledge of with the mistaken assumption that he knows more about it than the person he’s talking to does.” You don’t need to patronize us or translate your college level words into Trump speak for women to understand you.

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Don’t act like this guy

Speak to us the same way that you would speak to someone you respect and admire. If you wouldn’t call someone you respect and admire honey, sweetie, puddin’, etc., then don’t do that to women. The only time it’s acceptable to use a term of endearment when speaking to a woman is if she is your significant other, child, or younger female relative (e.g. your niece). If she’s none of the above, don’t do it. It’s not nice or cute. It’s annoying and it makes you sound like a condescending jackass.

 

Now let’s talk about joking with women. Some men seem to think one of two things: Either women can’t take a joke because we’re “too sensitive” or “too easily offended,” or they think that their jokes are funny when in reality they’re just offensive as all fuck.

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Act like this guy

When making a joke, you have to think carefully about your topic. A joke about your girlfriend’s flatulence could be funny. A joke about gang-raping the only female comic at a comedy show? Not funny. Got it? Good. Violence against women is not funny. Violence against anyone who is not an obviously fictional cartoon character is not funny.

Now let’s talk about content. If the joke about your girlfriend’s flatulence ends with you recording an album of songs made from the various sounds her flatulence makes and releasing it next month, that’s funny. After all, who doesn’t like a good fart joke? The only way a joke about violence against women could ever be funny is if it ends with us getting to watch you get your ass beat by the woman you tried to assault or if it ends with you getting arrested, going to prison, and getting the same treatment from your cell mate and his buddies that you tried to give to that female comic earlier. That’s called poetic justice and sometimes it’s funny as hell.

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This guy knows all about poetic justice

Now let’s talk about a little thing I like to call discernment. As an adult, you should already understand the importance of thinking before you speak and having a filter. However if you don’t that’s okay. I’ll break it down for you.

The Child Filter:

If you’re about to say something to a woman, stop and imagine how you would feel if another man said the same thing to your daughter. If you’d knock him out, don’t say it. If you’re about to say something to a woman, stop and imagine what you would do if your son said the same thing to a girl. If you’d punish him, don’t say it.

Think of the example you’re setting for your children and act like they’re watching because trust me, they are.

The Husband Filter:

If you’re about to say something to a woman, stop and imagine how you would feel if another man said the same thing to your wife. If you’d knock him out, don’t say it. If you’re about to say something to a woman, stop and ask yourself, “Would my wife cuss me out and make me sleep on the couch if I said this to her?” If she’d cuss you out, don’t say it.

You want your wife to brag about you to her friends, right? Good! Act like it.

The Boyfriend Filter:

If you’re about to say something to a woman, stop and imagine how you would feel if another man said the same thing to your girlfriend. If you’d knock him out, don’t say it. If you’re about to say something to a woman, stop and ask yourself, “Would my girlfriend be pissed if I said this to her?” If she’d be pissed, don’t say it.

If you want your girlfriend to stick around, show her that you respect her and all women. Respect for women is hot.

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Bubba says be respectful

If all else fails, think of any woman in your life that you love, respect, and admire and if you wouldn’t want another man to speak to them the way you’re thinking of speaking to the woman in front of you, change your damn tune! Treat others the way you want to be treated. You want to be treated with respect don’t you? Yes? Good! SO DO WOMEN!!! I’m so glad we had this talk.

*Blogger hops down off of soapbox*

</End rant>

Why I’m Refusing to Shut Up

I’m going to post this entry now before the current fascist dictatorship…I mean Presidential administration in the US repeals the First Amendment. From the moment Lord Commander Marmalade entered the presidential race I have wholeheartedly opposed him. Every single thing about him offends me from his racism, xenophobia, bigotry, ableism, and misogyny right down to his God-awful comb-over, orange skin, and tiny hands. I am absolutely baffled at how such a disrespectful, sorry excuse for a human being even made it to the Republican National Convention, let alone got elected to the highest office in the United States. On November 9th I woke up and asked, “How the f*ck could we let this happen?” Then I remembered the sheeple who supported him. Well I hope you’re pleased with yourselves because you got what you wanted. An orange reality TV star is the president and you have a Repugnant…I mean Republican majority in Congress.

Oh and by the way, for all of you moderate Republicans who are watching your party get hijacked by the Tea Party and alt-right, I don’t feel the least bit sorry for you. This is your circus and they are your monkeys. You could’ve stopped them and taken your party back. You could’ve said to hell with the legal quagmire that would result and run a contested convention. You had a chance to stand up, but you chose to go along with the insanity and now you have a misogynist in the White House. Your wives, daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts, and grandmothers must be so proud.

You can say “sour grapes” all you want. You can call me a snowflake and tell me to stop whining and just accept the fact that Hillary lost and he’s our president now and I should respect that and respect him. That’s fine. Freedom of speech is great! However I’m going to respectfully disagree. Sour grapes, my ass.

This isn’t about who won or lost. It’s about standing up for what we believe is right and that is as American as apple pie and baseball. Say what you want about the women who marched on January 21st. No matter what Il Douché tells you, more people mobilized in support of the Women’s March than the Inauguration. Criticize the airport protests all you want, but the public outcry got the attention of a Federal judge. Gosh! I gotta tell you I feel so safe now that those terrifying five year olds are being put in cuffs and dealt with! I can now walk the streets at night safely knowing that I won’t be attacked by a crayon-wielding terrorist! Oh wait, I should explain that last statement in case anyone from Cheeto face’s base is reading assuming that any of them are even literate. That statement about a crayon-wielding terrorist is what’s called sarcasm. I don’t feel any safer and I damn sure don’t walk the streets at night because I’m a woman and we can’t do that. (see previous entry)

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I can’t un-see this

We’re resisting because we refuse to normalize hate. We’re resisting because we see what’s really happening and refuse to have the wool pulled over our eyes and surprise! It’s working. The phone lines of Republican Senators have been blowing up with untold thousands of calls. The repeal of the ACA has caused Republican Representatives to have to duck out of back doors to avoid their angry constituents who want to know why they’re trying to take away their health insurance.

Even scientists are standing against the “alternative facts” and the gag order that was placed on them. Organizations like the National Park Service and NASA now have alternate Twitter accounts where they can speak freely. Even the Pope is resisting. Pope Francis is departing from the traditional Papal role of silent observer of all things political and openly criticizing the administration’s treatment of immigrants, refugees, and Muslims and calling for all Catholics to do the same.

We’ve seen this before and we don’t want to see it again. This administration is taking pages right out of Hitler’s playbook, but Hitler was much more dangerous because unlike this dream team of geniuses (<=sarcasm) he was smart. Hitler promised a better world, a German world. Trump promised to Make America Great Again. Hitler rose to power by criticizing the government. Trump criticized the government and promised to “drain the swamp.” Hitler reached out to frustrated Germans. Trump reached out to frustrated Americans. Hitler criticized the press and told people where to get their news. Trump won’t even entertain questions from CNN reporters and has told people to get their news from Fox or Breitbart since other outlets report “fake news.” Hitler maligned Jews in Germany and used them as scapegoats. Replace Jews with Muslims or immigrants or women or LGBTQ or any other group he’s attacked and you have Trump.

Those of us who learned history don’t wish to be doomed to repeat it. In 1939 we turned away Jewish refugees at our shore. Over 250 of them were then murdered in concentration camps. The Diary of Anne Frank is a popular reading choice in American schools. The strict immigration laws leading up to World War II caused us to deny entry to her family. Anne Frank could be an 88 year old woman living in Boston. Instead we allowed her to be murdered in Bergen Belsen concentration camp in 1945 at the age of 16. Still think this is about an election?

We’re not fighting over politics. We’re fighting for our rights. We’re fighting for our friends, coworkers, neighbors, and families. We’re fighting for the future, ours and yours.  I will not shut up. I will not be complicit. I will not obey. I will resist because I love my country and it’s the right thing to do.

Being a Godparent

Last week my nephew, affectionately called my neff (as in Hey yo, Neff!) because it annoys my sister, was baptized into the Catholic Church and in addition to the privilege of being his aunt I have the honor of being his godmother and his sister’s aunt and godmother. This may be a surprise to some people, especially those who have seen my act. Yes there are things about the Church that I don’t agree with like a woman’s right to choose, its treatment of the LGBTQ community, its mishandling of the clergy molestation scandal, and let’s not forget its silent consent of the slave trade, its platform of non-involvement in the Holocaust, and the Spanish Inquisition. And yes, I poke fun at the Church in my act.

On the flip side of this coin, I think there are a lot of things that the Church gets right. I agree with Jesus’ message of love and tolerance. I believe that the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes are a good framework for anybody to lead an upright life. I believe that principles like honesty, fair dealing, and respect for others regardless of their race, nationality, social status, etc. are important. I believe in having a personal relationship with God. I also believe that going to church every week and giving your tithes doesn’t make you a good person. Your character does.

See, that’s what I plan to teach my niece and nephew. You can sit in that pew every week… well religiously and still not be a good person. There are people who go to Church every Sunday but tell the homeless person they see on the street to get a job, kick the stray cats that cross their paths, and then go home and beat their kids, their spouse, and their dog. Then again there are people who don’t go to Church who buy a cup of coffee and give it to the homeless person they see on the street, leave food and clean water out for the stray cat population, play with their kids no matter how tired they are, treat their spouse like gold, and spoil their rescue dog. The difference is character, not how much time you spend sitting in a pew.

My godchildren are going to learn as they grow up that I belong to a charitable organization, that I donate my time to an animal rescue, that I would never ignore a crying child, and that I would never stand idly by and watch someone be abused or bullied. They’re going to learn that I will raise my voice and stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves because someone has to do the right thing. I am someone. I can sit and teach them with words, but as they say in Game of Thrones, words are wind. Kids don’t really learn from your words. They learn from your actions. That’s why when my niece was three one of her favorite toys was an old washcloth that she would use to play clean up. My sister cleans a lot and often. My niece was imitating my sister’s actions through her play. Incidentally when she got her play kitchen, she used it only for washing the play dishes until she was four. Then she cooked a little and made hot beverages before playing wash the dishes. What can I say? She’s my sister’s child.

A godparent’s responsibility is to assist a child’s parents in their religious upbringing. I understand that and all jokes about the Church aside, I take it very seriously. The most important thing I can teach them is to be kind and the best way to teach them is by showing kindness. However I also think it’s important that they learn that God has a sense of humor and if all else fails you can do a deathbed retraction. It worked for Chaucer. If they grow into kind, caring individuals I’ll call that a win and anyone who messes with them better pray really hard that I don’t find out. I’m not just their godmother. I’m also their crazy aunt that you may have been warned about.

Harry Potter and Christianity

Being a fan of Harry Potter I’ve heard it said by a number of fellow Christians that they feel the series is inappropriate due to its ties to witchcraft and/or wizardry. Now your faith is your faith and your opinion is your opinion, however I feel that anyone who feels that Harry Potter isn’t appropriate for Christian readers has completely missed the entire message of the story.

The Harry Potter series can be studied as an epic and that means that we’re presented with a larger than life hero who faces nearly insurmountable odds to defeat a larger than life villain.  Love and the absence thereof is a continuous theme throughout the series. You have an arrogant villain who has never known love and you have a humble hero who was so loved by his parents that they gave their lives to protect him and his friends who risked everything for him time and time again.

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Our villian, Voldemort is a wizard with both extraordinary power and extraordinary ambition. He is also extraordinarily arrogant which in the end becomes his undoing. Voldemort wasn’t born evil. No one is. He also wasn’t born Voldemort. Tom Marvolo Riddle was born to Merope Gaunt, a witch and direct descendant of Salazar Slytherin one of the four founders of Hogwarts and a muggle aristocrat by the name of Tom Riddle. His father left his mother while she was still pregnant with him and his mother died shortly after giving birth to him. He never knew the love of either of his parents. Being rejected by his father and losing his mother at such a young age is ultimately what turned Tom Marvolo Riddle into the evil Lord Voldemort. The old English epic poem Beowulf has a similar villain in Grendel. Grendel is a hideous monster because of his choice to separate himself from God’s love. We see a similar transformation as Tom Riddle changes from an attractive young man who looks like his father to an ugly, snakelike man as he destroys his soul by murdering innocent people so that he can become immortal.

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Our hero, Harry Potter, is also an orphan thanks to Voldemort who murdered Harry’s parents when he was only a year old. Harry was born to James Potter and Lily Evans. Lily sacrificed her life to save Harry and by doing so sealed a powerful magic in his blood that caused Voldemort’s killing curse to rebound off of Harry and hit him. Lily Potter’s final act was one of love and it saved our hero’s life when he was only a baby. This will be the first of many times that our hero is saved by someone’s love for him.

Voldemort didn’t have friends during his time at Hogwarts. He had followers and hangers on, but didn’t have anyone he could really consider a true friend that loved him. Harry on the other hand, had Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger and have couldn’t asked for two truer friends than them. He even had the love of Ron’s sister Ginny. They all risked their lives and made sacrifices for him. Everything they did for Harry was done for love. Everything that Voldemort’s followers did for him was out of fear of what he would do if they didn’t do what he asked.

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About to turn tail and run in 5…4…3…2…

The final battle of Hogwarts could be considered a show of love conquering evil. Harry Potter fought an army and then freely gave his own life to save those he loved then destroyed Voldemort once and for all with the help of his friends and all those who loved him. Voldemort may have had an army but not one of his followers stayed loyal to him in the end. Just look at the Malfoys who turned tail and ran as soon as they could.

Just because a story involves magic doesn’t mean that it’s not appropriate for Christian readers, especially when the entire message of the story is that love is the most powerful magic, more powerful than any spell including or Unforgivable Curse

. The Bible teaches us time and again that love is more powerful than any evil in the world and that God is love. When you look at it that way, it’s hard to consider Harry Potter anything other than a good story with a positive message.

Comedy Show Etiquette

One of the things I love about my country is the value we place on freedom of speech. It makes being a stand-up comedian not just easy but possible. In recent years, however there has been a movement toward a kinder, gentler, more politically correct culture and this is by no means a bad thing. However at times it seems as if our love of free speech and our desire to not offend people are at odds with each other. One need only to attend a comedy show to witness this first hand.

Margaret Cho bravely tried new material about the subject of rape at the Stress Factory in New Brunswick and most of the crowd either walked out, demanded a refund, or loudly booed and heckled her. The same happened to Amy Schumer when she made jokes about Donald Trump in the south before the recent presidential election. As if that wasn’t enough, people continued the heckling by taking to Twitter after both shows and bashing both comedians. I’ve had people walk out of a show after making jokes about church and I’ve been approached after a show for making fun of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. To ease the conflict between our love of free speech and the move we’ve made toward political correctness I’ve come up with a few guidelines for people who’d like to attend a comedy show.

  1. Bring your sense of humor with you.

Some don’t understand that the nature of humor is critical. What are you doing when you make a joke? You’re poking fun at something and when you poke fun at something in a way you’re criticizing it. The intent behind a joke isn’t malicious. The intent is to give you, the audience what you came for, a laugh. Try to remember to assume best intent.

2. Don’t take it personally.

We don’t expect you to like every single joke we make, but if we make one that you find offensive or one that makes you uncomfortable, please don’t take it as a personal attack because it isn’t. It’s only a joke and we only want to make you laugh, but at the same time if you don’t laugh we don’t get offended. We know going in that not every single joke we make is going to get a laugh and we’re okay with that. Honestly there’s no reason to get upset. It’s all in good fun.

3. If you can’t hang, leave.

If you want to leave the show, that’s fine and you’re well within your rights to do so, but please don’t disrupt the show or be rude to the other audience members who are only there to enjoy themselves. Just discretely exit and leave everyone else including the comic in peace.

4. No matter how it may look to you, understand that it’s not easy.

Stand up comedy is one of the hardest performance arts to do. It may look like all we do is walk on stage, pick up the mic, and spout whatever’s on our minds, but there’s a lot more to it than that. We’re told to perform a certain number of minutes. This isn’t a polite suggestion. Going over your time is the quickest way to never be invited to perform in that room ever again. It’s disruptive to the show and it’s disrespectful to the other comics who are going up after you. Make no mistake, the clock is ticking and the pressure is on. For every minute I perform I conservatively estimate that an hour’s worth of work has gone into it. There’s the time it took to write the joke, then the time it took to memorize and rehearse it, then any re-writing I’ve done, and then the time that goes into perfecting the delivery. It doesn’t look like work, but it is. I don’t come to your job and disrespect it, so please don’t disrespect mine.

5. Don’t insult us

If you don’t like our jokes, you don’t and that’s fine. If you want to leave, you’re certainly free to do that but you don’t get to insult my character just because I said something you disagree with. However if you really must insult me please understand that when I tell you to have a nice night, what I really mean is go f*ck yourself.

How Saving Them Saves Me

If you follow this blog you will become aware of two things: that I am a female stand-up comic and that I’m a lover of animals. I decided within the past year to put my love of animals into action and begin volunteering with a rescue and I have not regretted it.

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Proud alum Porkchop

Now here’s something not so obvious about me: I’ve struggled my entire life with low self-esteem. It’s kind of what happens when you grow up the scrawny nerd and you’re raised to be a perfectionist. It can’t be helped when you get your share of bullying and constantly hear about how nothing you do is ever good enough. I consider myself fortunate because I know there are so many people out there that have it worse, but this is my story so I’m telling it.

Being a perfectionist works to my advantage in a lot of ways, but sometimes it can be more of a hindrance than a help. In my own mind, I’m too short, I’m hard to look at, and my personality kind of sucks. I always have to make a joke, I accidentally interrupt people because I have a thought and get too excited to keep it in, and everybody tells me my voice carries which, and don’t lie to me, is a nice way of saying I’m obnoxiously loud. Really, it’s okay. I’ve come to accept this. Besides if you have the perfect life, stand-up comedy is not for you so if nothing else, it makes me funny. There’s my silver lining.

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Eligible bachelor Jake

However, I have good news for anybody who thinks badly of themselves like I used to and in fact still do sometimes. None of that shit matters. No, I’m serious. It really doesn’t matter. You know what does? Your character. Do you do your best every day to be a kind person? Are you kind to everybody and not just people who are like you? Then you’re a person of good character. None of that stuff you don’t like about yourself is important. I’m telling you this because I had to figure it out the hard way and I want to make it easier for others. If I help even one person then I’ll be happy.

Two groups tend to sense kindness in people: children and animals.I seem to be very popular among my friends’ children. Even kids who don’t really know me tend to smile at me. Now that may be because they sense that I’m an aunt who spoils the crap out of her niece and nephew, but you never know so the true test for me was when I started volunteering and working with rescue animals.

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Eligible bachelor Tazzy

After new volunteer orientation, I mingled with my fellow volunteers and the cats before visiting with more of my fellow volunteers and the dogs. When I rounded the corner, this female hound/pit mix made eye contact with me and surprised her handler by bee-lining for me. She was a shy dog and she’d never actually approached anyone like that before. So of course, I found myself unable to resist my urge to pet her and I saw a past in her eyes. We may never know the full extent of it, but it was clear that her life in rescue was the start of a new and better chapter. Shy dogs are often overlooked at adoption events, so I gave her as much attention as I could. A young woman came up and took to her right away. That woman adopted her within a few weeks. I felt like I witnessed and was even a part of the moment when that dog learned to trust again. Needless to say I was hooked and haven’t looked back. I didn’t choose the rescue life. The rescue life chose me.

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I regret nothing

 

Now what does this have to do with self-esteem? Well that’s simple. That dog didn’t care that I’m short. She didn’t even care what I looked like. She didn’t care about my jokes or any of my weird social quirks. She saw something in me. She knew just by sight and scent that I cared about her and wanted to help her. She’s not the only one, either. A notoriously picky male Chihuahua-Jack Russel mix approached me and jumped into my arms when I knelt down to pet him. My lap has also been jumped into. I’ve been leaned upon by dogs of all sizes. Leaning is a dog’s way of saying “I trust you. I feel safe with you.” I’ve had cats paw at me for attention which of course I gave to them. Look, all I’m saying is there must be something good about me. All these kids and animals can’t be wrong. So all that stuff I didn’t and well still kind of don’t like about me is eclipsed by their love.

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Proud alum Rocky

St. Theresa of Calcutta once said “Do small things with great love.” Giving my time and attention to rescue animals probably seems like a pretty small thing, but it makes a difference. Showing people their personalities helps them get adopted into loving forever homes and makes room for us to save another. Nothing builds self-esteem quite like knowing that you’re making a positive impact on someone’s life and that’s how saving them saves me. I only hope now that reading this helps someone else.

The Four Houses of Hogwarts as a Guide to Success

Every fan of Harry Potter knows exactly which of the four Hogwarts Houses s/he belongs in. If you’re not sure, there are several quizzes online that will give you the answer with Pottermore being the most accurate given its closeness to the source material. However in order to be successful it may actually be best for us to embody all four Houses instead of choosing only one.

The four founders of Hogwarts felt it their duty to teach magical youth to use their powers to make a positive impact on the world around them. Each of them had specific qualities they looked for in their students. Godric Gryffindor chose the brave and the strong. Salazar Slytherin chose those of pure Wizarding blood and prized ambition. Rowena Ravenclaw favored cleverness and a thirst for knowledge. Helga Hufflepuff felt that Hogwarts should have a culture of inclusion and decided that she would teach any young witch or wizard with the desire to learn. Knowing they wouldn’t live forever, the four founders bewitched the Sorting Hat and imparted to it the qualities they looked for in students and the ability to read the mind of anyone wearing it so that it could choose the right House for each Hogwarts student.

The qualities that each House embodies are great to have; however though it pains me to say this, Hogwarts and the wizarding world are fictional constructs. I know, I’m heartbroken, too. In fact I cling desperately to the hope that my letter never came because Voldemort took over the Ministry of Magic and wiped the records of all Muggle-born witches and wizards and one day my records will be recovered. However, since it looks like the owl won’t be arriving for me anytime soon and yes, I just looked out the window to be sure, let’s talk about why the one-House mentality wouldn’t necessarily work in the real or if you prefer Muggle world.

Throughout our lives we’re told to be well-rounded, never stop learning, and never limit ourselves. Research has shown that the average person switches careers, not jobs entire careers, once every five years. You may end up with your dream job after college or graduate school and it’s great for a while, but then over time you start to burn out and that dream job becomes just a necessary evil in your life. Once the thrill is gone, you’ll need a change and you can absolutely re-invent yourself in any way you choose, if and only if you’ve made the effort to be well-rounded. I’m not saying that the qualities of each individual House aren’t good to have, but I am saying people who are successful tend to embody bits of all four.

images-26The bravery and strength of a Gryffindor are necessary when you have to stand up for what you feel is right or when you need to power through even though you’re mentally, emotionally, or physically exhausted, but they’re not appropriate for every situation. In business and in life, discretion is often the better part of valor and there’s much to be said for knowing when and how to choose your battles. You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to. It’s often best to follow First Lady Michelle Obama’s advice and go high when they go low.

images-25The pure blood and ambition of a Slytherin are good to have but they’re not everything.  Being proud of your heritage is great, but your heritage is where you came from. What about where you’re going? You might have the right name, but if you have the wrong mentality you could end up going nowhere fast. Ambition will get you far in business and in life, but too much of a good thing can be bad. Too much ambition can make people think of you as arrogant and make them not want to work with or do business with you. Two words: Donald Trump. Sometimes in order to lead, you have to follow. He never learned that lesson and that’s why he’s run several once successful businesses into the ground.

images-24The cleverness and thirst for knowledge of a Ravenclaw are good things, but can lead others to think of you as a know-it-all and no one likes a know-it-all. Having a thirst for knowledge can be positive, but there are still some things in this world that just aren’t meant to be known or understood. If we knew and understood everything, the world would lose its wonder. While having knowledge is important, it’s also of equal importance to know when and when not to act on that knowledge. If you don’t believe me, Google the Manhattan Project or go re-watch Jurassic World.

imagesHufflepuffs are inclusive and while that’s noble, it’s not always a great strategy for success. After all, Tom Riddle was included during his time at Hogwarts and he still became Voldemort. We should be inclusive, but with the knowledge that there are people out there with malicious intent or who may otherwise prove themselves unworthy of being included. When that happens, don’t hesitate to manage them out. You may not want to, but it’s for your own good. Robin Williams once said that it’s better to be alone than it is to be surrounded by people who make you feel all alone.

Embracing the qualities of all four Hogwarts Houses can make for a successful life. There will be times when you need to be as brave and strong as a Gryffindor, as proud and ambitious as a Slytherin, as clever and knowledge-driven as a Ravenclaw, and as inclusive and noble as a Hufflepuff. Remember Dumbledore’s words, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.” Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go see if my owl has arrived yet.

How to Act Like a Lady in 2016

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I put this image here to repel any misogynists that may mistakenly stumble upon this entry. I’m calling it a “scare-douche.”

We like to think we’ve come so far with respect to women’s rights and while I admit there has been a great deal of progress, there are still some things that I feel should no longer be things in 2016. Society still seems to have an unwritten code of conduct for women and this code holds us to a very different standard from our male counterparts.

Rule #1: Never stand up for yourself or anything you believe in.

Women who stand up for themselves and are vocal about it are immediately labeled as a “bitch” or “volatile” or “difficult.” Talk to any woman and chances are she’ll tell you that she’s experienced this. I have enough firsthand knowledge to teach a Master’s program in it. Meanwhile, men who don’t stand up for themselves are labeled as a part of the female anatomy that Donald Trump seems to think you can grab.

Rule #2: Never show anger or frustration.

Don’t. Just don’t. Everyone will assume that you’re on your period or “not getting any,” even other women. Meanwhile men can be as angry and frustrated as they please. This is nuts. If every woman who’s ever been angry or frustrated felt that way because she was on her period then women have been on their periods non-stop since the DAWN OF FREAKIN’ TIME! If that were true the feminine hygiene product industry would be booming and we’d have no national debt. If every woman who’s ever been angry or frustrated felt that way because she was “not getting any,” humanity would’ve died out by now. Maybe that woman isn’t on her period or sexually frustrated. Maybe she’s angry and frustrated because you’re an ass! If you say stuff like this, grow up.

Rule #3: Never go jogging alone at night or in broad daylight, never go to a party, never go to a bar, never go out on a date, never have any alcoholic beverages of any kind, never wear a skirt, never wear pants, never go to sleep in your own home, never go out to the store during the day or at night…screw it. Basically never leave your house if you don’t want to risk being attacked or raped.

From the time I was twelve, I was conditioned to always be aware of my surroundings and always be ready to defend myself because there are people out there who want to try to make me into a victim for no other reason than the fact that I was born female. That’s a pretty young age to have your whole childhood just end for you, isn’t it? As teenagers women deal with men old enough to be our fathers objectifying us before we’re even fully aware of what that means. We’re conditioned to cater to and coddle the male ego because God forbid the guy we’re turning down for a date or a drink just snaps when we tell him we’re not interested. We can’t even walk down the street minding our own business without constantly looking over our shoulders. Even falling asleep in your own home is dangerous. A woman in NJ went to sleep in her home and woke up to find a man raping her. She reported it and cooperated with police only to have a judge tell her she wasn’t raped because she wasn’t awake to say no. We can’t even report a rape without having to answer a series of victim-shaming questions. “What were you wearing? How many drinks did you have? Were you intoxicated? Did you flirt with him?” Women and young girls get this mixed message that our bodies belong to us and no one is entitled to them without our consent and then we’re told in the same breath to be careful because if the wrong guy takes a liking to us we might just get raped. I have an idea! WHY DON’T WE TEACH MEN AND YOUNG BOYS TO KEEP IT IN THEIR PANTS?!?!?!?!

Rule #4: Never be proud of your body, dress in a way that flatters you too much, or try to own your sexuality.

Women who do any of the above are immediately labeled “sluts” or if your prefer as a T.H.O.T. (That Hoe Over There). Men can wear and do whatever or whomever they please and people not only respect it, they also glorify it and high five them to congratulate them on their latest sexual conquest. Sex should not be about conquest. Ladies and gentlemen we’re not at war. Treating sex as an act of conquest is too close to treating sex as an act of violence. This mentality is why rape culture exists. Sex should be about mutual love and connection to another person. Despite the strides we’ve made women are still viewed as objects or prizes to be won. I’m sorry boys, but this isn’t a carnival game. If you have a conquest mentality, don’t step right up. Step right off.

There is undeniably room for growth here. First, ladies we need to build each other up. If you see someone standing up for herself, stand with her. Take care of yourselves, take care of each other, and for God’s sake stop calling other women sluts because you’re jealous that you don’t look as good as they do. If we don’t build each other up, we’re just getting in our own way and impeding our own progress.

Men, get it together. I know that there are good men out there. I’m personally acquainted with several. Guys, we know you care about us. This is your fight, too. If you hear one of your friends being a misogynist ass, tell him off. There are a great many things I’d like to say to misogynists, but they all end with “and the horse you rode in on” and it’s not like they’d listen anyway, so this is where I’ll jump off my soap box. Let’s do better, people.

A letter to John Q. Public

Dear John Q. Public,

I can’t help but notice how rude you are to customer service people. I get it. You want what you want and you want it now and that person isn’t giving you what you want, but perhaps I can persuade you to treat others a bit more gently. First of all, you’re not entitled. You have to work for and earn everything you get just like everybody else. I’m sorry your mommy told you that you’re a special little snowflake but really you’re just like every other snowflake and this world is a blizzard. Second, that person on the phone or behind the counter that you’re treating like dirt is a human being, not the embodiment of whatever business or entity you’re currently pissed off with. I would also point out that he/she is not in fact dirt. He/she is a person with a job to do just like you and me.

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Think about how you would feel if someone came to your place of employment or dwelling and treated you that way. Would you like it? Of course not! If you asked that person on the phone or behind the counter, I’m sure he/she would tell you that he/she really doesn’t want to hear your abuse. I know because I’ve been the person both on the phone and behind the counter. Also spoiler alert! I don’t care what the customer service person did or said to you. You are an adult and you are responsible for your own actions. As such you have the capacity to act appropriately regardless of how others may act toward you. I suggest you use it. Screaming, yelling, ranting, raving, or verbally abusing someone is not an appropriate way to act. However don’t do it so you can get on some moral high horse and think you’re better than someone else. Do it because it’s the right thing to do. Otherwise I may tell you where to go and what to do with the moral high horse you rode in on.

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Have you ever heard the saying that you catch more flies with honey than you do with piss? Guess what! It’s true! People respond much better to someone speaking to them in a calm, kind, and rational manner than they do to someone who’s carrying on like a petulant child. If you were nicer to people you’d probably get what you want a lot more often and the people who have to deal with you would have a much better day. See? Everybody wins!

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You may not believe this, but that person on the phone or behind that counter really does want to help you. No, I’m serious he/she really does, but there’s a caveat to this. All companies have rules and guidelines that they’re required to follow for a variety of reasons. Some have to do with corporate policy while others are in place due to State or Federal regulations that must be followed. So that person on the phone or behind the counter really isn’t giving you a hard time just because he/she wants to ruin your day. He/she would love to give you what you want and let you happily go about the rest of your day, but he/she isn’t able to do that because he/she has to follow the rules. Do you see him/her asking you to put your job on the line for him/her? I don’t think so. So why on earth do you think it’s fair for you to expect someone else to do the same for you? Now do you see how ridiculous you sound?

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Oh and please, go ahead and demand to talk to a supervisor. I dare you. I’ve been on the other end of that phone call, too. You’re going to get the same information repeated back to you by someone with a different voice and enough experience to be firm while still putting you at ease and making you understand that we really are trying to help.

Despite what you might think, no customer service job is easy and not only because of asshats like you. They also typically don’t pay well, they’re stressful, the benefits if they even offer them suck, and it sucks to smile while someone gives you a hard time. The job sucks so much that people call out constantly so there’s a pretty good chance that the person you’re mistreating was called in on his/her only day off for the week because one of his/her coworkers didn’t feel like showing up to work. He/she is probably overworked and taken for granted and needs your abuse like he/she needs a hole in his/her head.

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Next time you find yourself losing your cool in a customer service situation, stop and take a deep breath. You’re not a victim. Nobody is out to get you and the sole motivation of the person behind the counter or on the phone is to help you, not to ruin your day. You’re not entitled and poor planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on someone else’s. Think about two golden rules. First, do unto others as you’d have done to you. If you wouldn’t want to be mistreated, don’t mistreat someone else. The second golden rule: don’t be a dick. Giving a customer service person a hard time is a total dick move. It costs you nothing to be a decent person. Try it out! You might like it!

Signed,

Everyone who’s ever worked in customer service