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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Depression, Understanding, and Walsh

Matt Walsh wrote something today. 

To many of the people in my news feed, that alone is enough to rev up some animosity. And yes, I'm going to talk a bit about Matt Walsh - but bear with me.

Because today, Matt Walsh wrote something that I myself could have penned just a few short years ago.

He wrote about Robin Williams, who tragically took his own life yesterday. He said that suicide, when you really strip it down, is a choice, not a disease. It is always selfish, it is never freeing, and it damages loved ones as well.

(He said those things in many more words, but that's the gist of it.)

And as I said before, just a few years ago I could easily have written something similar. I have had bad days in my life, as everyone has. I have had bad weeks, bad months. I have gone through seasons during which I may have even said that I was depressed.

But I have never awakened to the feeling that in order to get to the breakfast table I would first have to claw myself out from the depths of an endless abyss. I have never looked at my children and imagined how much better their lives would be if they didn't have a screw-up like me as a parent. I don't know the helplessness of believing that someone's life might be improved if I were dead. I can't fathom the depths to which one must sink to feel these things.

In the past few years, however, I have spent time with and grown to love very deeply several people who have felt those things. I have come to understand that the way one sees reality under the influence of depression is akin to the way one might see when under the influence of alcohol or anything else - the difference being that an alcoholic chooses to drink, and a junkie chooses to score. 

Someone who is truly depressed cannot be expected to accurately remember good times, because even if there were truly good times, everything they now see is colored by the depression. 
Telling them they must choose to wait because good times will come again means nothing. All they see is the torture they are currently enduring and perhaps something slightly less torturous that may (but probably won't) come in some distant eventuality. 
Telling them they must make an effort to be happy is like asking a blind man to drive a car. 
"But I can't drive a car. I can't see the road." 
"Are you INSANE?"

To quote a friend (@Lembas_n_coffee):

Suicide is a choice. Of course it is. Everything we do is a choice. The thing about suicide and depression is that it's a choice we make with faulty information. Because depression says there's no help, no one cares, you're just a burden. Depression lies. So choosing suicide with depression is like choosing which groceries to buy when you're starving. You'll make choices, they'll just be bad ones. 
 Say what you want about suicide being selfish and damaging to loved ones. Most people would agree with those things. But to someone who cannot see clearly anything beyond the borders of the abyss in which he resides, those things become secondary to the Herculean effort required simply to continue breathing. 

Although I honestly wish that I did not know people who have lived in that abyss, I am grateful for their patience in helping me to better understand it from the outside. For that reason, although I think at least in this case Matt Walsh has it wrong, I can understand the difficulty he may have in writing about this subject if he himself has never faced it in person.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Mark of a Conservative: a Sandwich Board, Not a Sandwich

Conservatives. We are not all the same. We do not all look the same. We do not all act the same way. We do not all defend conservatism in the same manner. And thank God that we don't.

Today, "M Catherine Evans" offers what she seems to believe is a scathing criticism of conservatives - namely Glenn Beck, Dana Loesch, Rep Louie Gohmert, and Sen Ted Cruz - who had the gall to offer humanitarian aid to illegal children. She criticizes their efforts in helping to feed and clothe the children who are being used as political pawns, and why? Because they weren't standing on overpasses holding anti-immigration signs.

Wait, what? You mean that if every conservative in America did nothing but stand on overpasses with signs we would win? If you believe that, I'd like to offer you a great deal on the overpass upon which you so valiantly protest.

Don't get me wrong: there is a time and a place for protests. I have participated, along with my children. So have *gasp* Dana Loesch, Glenn Beck, and I'd imagine the same goes for Sen Cruz and Rep Gohmert.

But let's think about this in broader terms.

Government in general wants one thing: to grow.  Government can grow larger in two basic ways. First, it can usurp power. We see that in the passage and support of laws like the Affordable Care Act, Executive Orders that are designed to circumvent Congress, and other extra-Constitutional actions taken by the government. And second, we the People can cede power. We can vote for people who we know will take actions that will limit liberty and grow government. We can vote for laws that restrict the freedoms of others because we don't like the way they exercise those liberties (gun control, for example). Or we can criticize those who engage in private charity because we don't like the charity they choose to support.

Conservatives in general want one thing: smaller, more limited government. We can restrict the growth of government in several ways as well. First, we can vote for people and initiatives that either stop the growth or shrink the size of government. And second, we can use private charity to limit the need for government growth. 

You'll notice that I did not at any point mention "standing on overpasses with signs."

When private entities offer humanitarian aid, they eliminate the need for government to drain resources from taxpayers. And make no mistake, the federal government wants nothing more than to drain those resources from taxpayers. 

Tell me, M Catherine Evans, do you really believe that the government would send those children back? Do you believe that the government would hesitate to take your money to feed them? When Dana Loesch went to the border, she went on her own time and her own money. When Glenn Beck went to the border, he went with his own money and the money from his own private charity. When Rep Gohmert and Sen Cruz went to the border, they went because it is their home state which is being overrun invaded. How many of them took your money to support their efforts? Dare I say NONE of them? Why do you believe you have the right to criticize what they choose to do with their own time and money? That's not conservatism that's progressivism.

If you choose to support conservatism by standing on an overpass with a sign, then by all means, do so. But realize that there is a need for conservatives who are willing to fight the battles on the ground, and let them do it. Because if they don't, recognize that your posterboard and sharpie fund will be next on the block when the government takes over the charity for us.

Oh, and I almost forgot: #amnestysandwiches

Friday, June 6, 2014

Dear President Obama: Stop it.

Mr. President,

This past week, in defense of a questionable (ok, mind-bogglingly illegal) prisoner transfer, you mentioned the letters you get from military parents asking you to make sure their children are safe. While I doubt the veracity of that claim - I know quite a few military parents, and they generally have more faith in their soldiers than in their politicians - I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.

I am a former soldier. I am the daughter of a soldier (Operation Enduring Freedom), the niece of a soldier (Vietnam), and the granddaughter of soldiers (World War II). I am also a parent of children who are too young yet to be soldiers. But I do feel that there are a few things I must ask of you, since you are clearly taking requests.

In reality, it all boils down to one simple thing: please stop helping me.

Please stop helping me get "better healthcare." In the four years since I left the military, I have paid out of pocket for all of my family's healthcare needs. Under your new healthcare plan, I will pay more in premiums over the course of one year than I paid in the last four years with no insurance at all - and that's before I even get started chipping away at the deductible.

Please stop helping my kids get a "better education." I don't care if you do think that Che Guevera was a hero, the Boston Tea Party was an act of terrorism, and that the Warren Court didn't go far enough. I prefer my history straight and unencumbered by the baggage of  a political agenda. While you're at it, please stop helping with higher education as well.

Please stop helping my kids get "better nutrition." I realize this is more your wife's doing than yours, but since I've already started, I might as well keep going. I may not be a nutritionist (but unless I am mistaken, neither is the First Lady) but since the dawn of man, mothers have successfully nourished children without the "benefit" of government mandate. I intend to continue that tradition, thanks.

Please stop trying to keep my children safe. If your method - banning all guns - worked, then a petite woman like myself would not be taking a risk walking through downtown Chicago at night. Since that is not the case, I think I would prefer to retain the right and ability to defend myself - with firearms if necessary.

But most importantly, please stop interfering in the lives and careers of our men and women in uniform. Stop pretending that you care about them beyond their potential to be your political props. Stop meddling in affairs that are better handled by people who have the training and ability to organize something more tactical than political rallies and bake sales. I'm sorry. Healthy snack sales.

Thank you for your consideration. I expect you will give these matters the attention they deserve once you finish covering your ass. Good luck with that, by the way.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

What it means to be a veteran.

“I am an American soldier. I am a warrior and a member of a team. I serve the people of the United States and live the Army values. I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade. I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in all my warrior tasks and drills. I am an expert and I am a professional. I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat. I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life. I am an American soldier.”
When I went through training in 1999, that was a thing. The soldier’s creed. We knew it by heart inside of the first week. And when I say we knew it “by heart,” I don’t mean we had it memorized – although we did. I mean we knew it, we understood what it meant, and our actions backed it up. We lived the Army values. Loyalty. Duty. Respect. Selfless service. Honor. Integrity. Personal courage.
We stayed up past lights out making sure that our boots were shined (this was back in the days of black boots). We helped each other with extra sit-ups and push-ups to boost our platoon PT scores. We policed our own. “Code Reds” were not as drastic or dangerous as they were in “A Few Good Men,” but they happened. When your battle buddy got dropped, you got down next to him and took the same punishment.
Today’s soldiers have been exposed to what the Army calls “low stress training.” And they’re losing their minds in war zones because they have been coddled and cajoled through training.
Every day in training drill sergeants told us about the enemy. “They want you dead,” they told us. “They want your families dead. They want your friends dead. They will march their victory parade through your blood before it is dried from the streets.”
Today’s soldiers get lessons that include the Founding Fathers and participants at the Boston Tea Party as examples of terrorists and extremists.
And when they come home, the landscape has changed as well. When I left the Army for the first time in 2004 (I went back in 2005), I went looking for a job in retail. The interviewing manager found out I was a veteran. He told me that there were two other girls who had applied for the same position, and neither of them had served. He then said that if he knew nothing else about us, that would be enough. He stopped the interview then and offered me the job. Being a veteran used to mean something. It was like being an Eagle Scout. When employers found out that you had spent time in the military, they knew something about you. They knew your work ethic and your willingness to work as part of a team or lead one, whichever the situation called demanded. They knew your values and your convictions, and how you would perform under stress.
But today, as evidenced by National Guard Specialist Kayla Reyes’ experience with an interviewing manager at Macy’s, being a veteran can be a liability. Why is it that the public views soldiers in such a different light? Personally, I blame Jane Fonda. Well, not her alone, but the people like her who bought into the propaganda and misinformation regarding American soldiers at war – particularly in places like Vietnam. I blame the 9/11 truthers who blame terrorist actions on Americans protecting access to resources. I blame the Ron Paul/Henry Wallace isolationists who try to convince people that power-hungry authorities like Stalin and Putin only attempt to grab for power because America involves itself in alliances and treaties. And I blame the American people who know better and fail to say so.

When the manager at Macy’s learned that SPC Reyes had served in Afghanistan, she should have thanked her rather than questioning her ability to fit in. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Government Owns Your Kittens. Seriously.

Before you get your knickers in a twist, I am not going to say that the Arizona law that caused all the ruckus should or should not have been vetoed. I will say that John McCain's insistence on a veto makes me think the law at least held a modicum of merit, but that's another rabbit hole to jump down altogether.

But this is not the first time this subject has come to the forefront, and if recent history is any indication, it won't be the last. By "this subject" I mean the notion that business owners can be forced to provide services or goods. The media wants it to be about the First Amendment. The left wants it to be about First Amendment. And we are catering to them at every turn, arguing that the business owner has the right to free expression and exercise of religion. All that is true, but that's not all that is true.

So let me ask you this: Do you own anything? Do you own a house? A car? A piece of furniture? A cat? Imagine for a minute that you do own a cat, and that cat has kittens. You take those kittens in a basket to a local park and post a sign that says, "Free kittens, but only if you aren't a ginger." Yeah, I know, that's stupid. It's bigoted. (It also made me giggle.) But that's not the point.

Should the government be allowed to force you to give your kittens to a ginger? And if the government can force you to give your kittens to a ginger - or anyone else - against your will, were those kittens ever really yours? Or did they belong to the government, with you simply acting as the middleman?

Now imagine you own a business. Everything you produce or sell is your individual property unless and until you choose to sell it. If the government can force you to sell it at a time or to a person that is not of your choosing, how can that property truly be yours? If your right to own and control your personal property IS NOT ABSOLUTE, then you DON'T OWN IT AT ALL. 

But they're not really criticizing you. They're criticizing liberty.

Sneaky, isn't it, the way they tell you it's bigotry if you don't give your liberty away? The way they try to tell you that your religious freedom doesn't trump someone else's civil rights. (By the way, it does - go check out which one is enumerated in the Constitution and get back to me if you don't believe me.) The way they tell you that you're small-minded and hateful if you don't believe in the agenda they happen to be championing.

They don't like liberty because it's dirty. It's offensive. It's crude, loud, obnoxious, and frankly, dangerous. Because when people have liberty, they often use it to do things that you don't like. They say things that offend you. They choose not to cater weddings that you believe should happen. And (merciful heavens, no) they take the Constitution at its literal word when they go about protecting their homes and their families. 

But the tricky thing about liberty is that if you remove the dirt and the danger, it CEASES TO BE. 

For people to be free, they MUST retain the freedom to offend others. For people to have liberty, they MUST have the liberty to defend themselves, violently if necessary. For business owners to have the same freedom as the gay couple who can choose whether or not to patronize their establishment, they must have the freedom to turn down business from ANYONE at ANY TIME.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

To Rage or Not to Rage

So. That pesky Coca-Cola ad. Was it beautiful? Was it outrageous? Was it only the racist and bigoted who found it offensive? Was the offense manufactured?

I didn't have much of a reaction to it myself. Granted, I didn't even see it until I googled it after the Super Bowl was over - mostly to see what all the fuss was about. And to tell the truth, after the hype generated and the outrage claimed, I felt that it was a little anti-climactic. Maybe that's just because, having cut our cable in 2009, I just don't have the exposure to commercials that I used to have. But then again...

Maybe it's because I haven't spent 5-10 years and most of my savings in an effort to become an American through proper channels.

Maybe it's because I am so very many generations removed from, "Son, we are Americans. We speak American now," spoken haltingly, but with immeasurable pride.

Maybe it's because I don't live in one of the growing number of American cities that are in real danger of a "press 2 for English" situation.

Maybe it's because I watched it without connecting it to the fact that we are about to be force-fed amnesty, and without thinking about the fact that the war begins in culture. Yeah, that's right: the war begins in...commercials. Was Coca-Cola soft-selling amnesty packaged as patriotism+diversity? Maybe. I didn't make that connection while I was watching it, but I bet someone out there did.

So I personally wasn't outraged. There are so many other things currently happening that are deserving of outrage that frankly, I didn't have time to add Coca-Cola to the list. But I'm not willing to dismiss the validity of the outrage felt by others. Yes, in the end we choose what outrages us. But there are occasions when outrage is a valid choice.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

No Favors Here

At first glance, this is amusing. As women, we like to think that we are the absolute end, the bees knees, etc. We revel in the notion that we don't need men to give us worth (which is true), and the idea that we give them worth (not true) is extremely attractive. Statements like this one allow us to feel that we are simply giving our role the importance society denies us, but in reality it opens the door for us to overestimate our own traditional roles at the expense of the equally important roles that the men in our lives play.

So I call BS. The man who asks for a woman's hand in marriage is absolutely, unequivocally, without a shred of doubt doing that woman a favor. Why? Because, in a society where women are almost expected to do most of those things for free, the man who asks is making the following promises:
I will give you my name, because when people see me I want them to see you as well. 
When you get fat, I will still love you. I will not stop loving you if you retain water or develop cankles.
When you bear my children, I will not just give them my name. I will also give them my love, my Saturday mornings, and my help with their homework. And if they are girls, I'll buy a shot gun the day they are born.
When you lay down with me, I will respect you in the morning. And every morning for the rest of my life.
So I ask you ladies out there to please STOP. Stop treating your husbands like you have done them a favor by saying yes. No one did anyone any favors. You made a deal, witnessed by family and friends. You entered into a covenant ordained by God, an equal partnership. Stop treating them like they owe you something more than their love, commitment, and respect - and take the time to remember that you promised them those same things.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Dana Loesch on The View

When The View was first announced, I thought it was an interesting concept. I have always been a fan of spirited, rational debate. I am also a firm, sometimes forceful, advocate for free speech. I don't mind people who disagree with me - in fact, I believe that I learn the most when challenged. However, once The View rolled out it became clear that the "multiple perspectives" they had advertised were generally varying shades of liberal. So I stopped watching.

Several years passed. Enough years that when The View was mentioned in my Twitter feed this evening, it took me a few minutes to realize that "Babs" was in reference to Barbara Walters and not Barbara Streisand.

But I will be watching this Monday, and so should you. Why? Because after years of monochromatic gossip, The View is finally taking steps in the direction of its original premise: to give a voice to all perspectives. This Monday, my friend Dana Loesch will be sitting at that table. Finally The View has brought in someone who can represent home-schoolers, pro-lifers, and defenders of our Constitution and the God-given rights it protects. 

Join me in giving ABC a bump in ratings this Monday - a reward for taking this small step in the right direction.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Yes, it Matters That Chloe Stirling is 11

By now you have probably all heard of Chloe Stirling, the 11 year old girl whose booming home cupcake business was shut down by the state of Illinois. Why? Because they stated that her home failed to meet the sanitation standards required of a "professional kitchen" by Illinois law.

Social media responses were all over the map. Many felt bad for a little girl just trying to make a little of her own money and felt that the government was overstepping. Some (and these are the ones who concern me) felt that the government was well within its purview to step in, stating that "the requirements are the same for anyone who wants to sell food items - why should they bend the law for her just because she happens to be 11 years old instead of, say, 30?" They suggested that she rent space in a professional kitchen, since that can be cheap and easy. Right.

Have you ever tried to enter into a legal contract - rental or otherwise - at age 11? It's surprisingly less easy than you might think. It's no picnic for the business offering the lease either, since most business insurance plans refuse to cover anyone who is not actually employed by the business. Have you ever tried, as a business owner, to hire an 11 year old? Also surprisingly less easy than you might think. Those child labor laws sure are a constant annoyance, aren't they?

So you rent to her parents and have them sign a waiver, right? Wrong. The insurance company still will not cover anything. Because of the way child labor laws are written, even with a full-disclosure waiver of liability signed by her parents in the blood of their firstborn and notarized by the Angel Gabriel, the parents still have full rights to sue the business if anything happens to her while she is on the premises. Not only that, but the business also assumes responsibility for the child's product - meaning that if something were to go wrong with the cupcakes, the customer would be able to take legal action against the business instead of just the girl baking the cupcakes.

And here's the kicker: the "sanitation standard" she likely failed to meet was a three step sink. Most houses don't have them, and they are expensive to install. But I'll do you one better - many counties within the state of Illinois routinely grant temporary food sales permits to groups and businesses for events like an outdoor chili cook-off. They meet the "three step sink" requirement by placing three buckets full of water on the ground in the vicinity of the heat source. Any guesses as to how Chloe Stirling's home kitchen (lack of three water buckets notwithstanding) stacks up next to these guys in terms of sanitation?

The real problem here is not that the government regulates sanitation standards in food service (although it absolutely is a concern). The real problem here hinges on the fact that they go out of their way to halt the business efforts of children. (Lemonade stands are being shut down. Girl Scouts are being told that they can't sell cookies in their own front yards.) And yes, it does make a difference that she is 11 and not 30. Here's why: if you tell a child she can't do something enough times, by the time she is an adult she will STOP TRYING. You'd be surprised at how easy it is to discourage even the brightest of children. My uncle, for example, was five years old when he started learning algebra. Bored in church, he would copy problems from his brother (then in high school) and work them out on his own. But if you asked him if he was smart, he would say no - his siblings had called him "stupid" so many times that he actually believed it was true.

What happens when you beat the entrepreneurial spirit out of your children? You have a populace that accepts victimhood as inevitable and sits docile as the government takes over more and more of their liberties and their lives.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Wendy Davis, Split Personality: Feminist Icon and Victim of Sexism

Politico posted an article naming Wendy Davis the "most judged woman in America." Predictably, Conservatives everywhere nearly imploded. Though I believe that most days Sarah Palin would beg to differ, I believe that Wendy Davis has indeed found herself under increased scrutiny in the past few weeks. I also happen to believe that she deserved it.

Politico "reporter" Liza Mundy speaks of a world that accepts the antics of a narcissistic male divorcee in politics but then nails a woman in the same position because of sexism. That explains the Jon Edwards Presidency, I guess. Wait, what? You mean Edwards basically got laughed out of politics when he cheated on his wife while she suffered from cancer and lied about fathering a child with his mistress? Where were the cries of "sexism?" Why did no one talk about the bias against men who use their wives to get ahead in politics and then leave them when they cease to be of help?

The article then goes into a tailspin attempting to explain why Wendy Davis should not be judged based on her actions because she's a woman, and society still looks down on women because sexism. So, Liza, you want us to "judge" Wendy Davis based on her gender rather than her actions? I'm not sure you and the rest of America are working with the same definition of the term "sexism."

But here is what I find *really* interesting: Wendy Davis is held up by the left as a feminist hero -she's the lady who rocked pink trainers while she spoke for hours on the vital importance of being free to kill our children in clinics that fail to pass basic safety and sanitation inspections. And the instant she comes under fire for lying to her constituents, she claims that it's because of sexism. (Make no mistake - we are not criticizing her for taking money for school from her ex husband. We are not criticizing her for choosing career over family. We are simply asking that she not marginalize working single mothers and fathers by dishonestly coopting their hardships for her political gain.)

On behalf of Liza Mundy, Ms. Davis, I have to ask that you make up your mind. Wendy, are you a strong woman who pulled herself up from the bottom? Or are you being held down by a male-dominated society? You can't be both, and you're confusing people like Ms. Mundy.

Monday, January 27, 2014

This Just In - People Join the Army for the Good Workout Program...

I'll admit, I was quite tempted to simply let this picture speak for itself. It says a lot about the girl who posted it, after all. But I have something to say to her:

First, Alexia, do you plan to go to medical school? If you do, I would suggest that you spend some time learning punctuation. You may think a missed apostrophe or a misplaced comma or period is no big deal, but when doctors do that, people die. You don't need to be trained to shoot a big gun in order to kill someone, after all.

Second, you talk about the "selfish reasons" that people join the military. I personally joined the military so that I could be on call 24/7/365, have no time to take advantage of the free education, and miss out on the first words and first steps of two of my children. I was hoping when I signed up to "work out for a summer" that I might end up with a job that likely contributed to the dissolution of my first marriage. The thought that there was a 3% I might get shot at was just a bonus.

And third, let me go ahead and blow your mind: when I joined the Army, they did train me to shoot several guns, some of them big. (I particularly enjoyed firing the AT-4 grenade launcher, but that's another story altogether.) But after I finished "working out" and "learning to shoot big guns," I went to school. The Army trained me to be a combat medic and an x-ray/CT/MRI technician. So wait, you mean those soldiers you just disrespected for not knowing how to save a life are trained to do just that? Absolutely. And I'll do you one better: even in a time of war, those same soldiers are trained to patch up enemy soldiers who are injured while trying to kill them. And I don't know about you, but where I come from, a man who helps to save the life of his own would-be murderer IS a hero - not a pussy in a superhero costume.

As for the death rate in Chicago - we could fix that simply by teaching more people how to shoot big guns and allowing legal access to them. But I digress.

I Don't Fit in, and I'm Not Sorry

I was  definitely born in the wrong era. I should have been born either forty years earlier or ten years later. Why? I can explain.

Most people born in the late seventies, as I was, were raised in a culture in which going off to college immediately following high school was the norm. So that's what I did. I finished high school, and then I went immediately to college. However, like many 17-18 year olds, I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. Had I continued to conform at that point, I would have chosen a generic major like "liberal arts" or "women's studies" or "economic equality in third world nations." My degree would have qualified me for exactly two things: flash-frying frozen potatoes, or a life in academia. And given the quality of public secondary education these days, those professions are far more similar than you might think.

But despite being raised with the first generation to truly understand just how much our parents are to blame for our shortcomings, somehow I was brainwashed into the unevolved and unliberated notion that my future was my responsibility. So when others in my class either left school to work retail or struggled through classes they hated for a degree they couldn't use, I signed a contract with the United States Army. And even there I saw the effects of the "blame everyone else" generation. Soldiers, once revered as being made of stronger stuff, were sitting down during ruck marches because "they were tired and their feet hurt." I remember the shocked look on my Drill Sergeant's face when, after a wicked ankle sprain, I got up and finished a run. Kids (and at 20, yes, I was still a kid) were not expected to overcome adversity without blaming someone else, or at least complaining about it. Confession: there was a lot of prayer and a few choice words that went into my getting up and running after that fall.

Flash forward fourteen years, and I am now nearing graduation. After ten years in the Army and the growth of my family, I am finally earning degrees in subjects that interest me and that I can use: political science and history. Both give me an invaluable background upon which to draw in my forays into local grassroots politics.

But I still say that I should have been born forty years earlier or ten years later. Forty years ago, the hard work I was raised to do would have been appreciated or at least accepted as the norm. My choice to raise a family despite having a post-secondary education would not be judged a waste by hipsters with relevancy issues. And my children wouldn't be labeled extremists simply because they were homeschooled and there were more than 1.9 of them.

The ten years later thing was more because it would have been easier on me. I could have simply showed up to class, never taken a test or done a single assignment, and been given a 60% in the class. (Yes, there are schools - public schools - that are now implementing this regulation.) I could have gotten a degree without earning it. I could have popped out a few kids without getting married and had my life financed in full by the suckers who go out and work for a living. I could have let the public school system raise my kids, and even though they would have grown up thinking that the Boston Tea Party was an act of terrorism and Che was a misunderstood hero, I would have had the time to blog every day - but I would have had to write about things I didn't understand.

Excuse me, but I like it better this way. I don't fit in, and I'm not sorry.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Dear Amy Glass, yeah, you in the hipster loft with the ripped denim...

This letter was written in response to an article that attempted to shame homemakers into climbing mountains. Or becoming doctors. Or something.

Dear Amy Glass,
Or perhaps I should say, "Dear emo photo of the view from your hipster loft with an intentionally nonchalant (would that be "chalant"? I'm never sure.) peak at your strategically ripped denim,"

You speak of feminism and empowering women like those are terms you are capable of understanding. You talk down to women who have you beat in terms of life experience, some in terms of education, and most probably in terms of happiness as well. You claim to have the answer that all women are looking for in regards to their ultimate fulfillment and contentment, but if that's the case, let me be the first to inform you that your delivery sucks. Out loud.

First you say that feminism is not about embracing choice for women. Let me ask Elizabeth Cady Stanton, champion of women's suffrage and political empowerment, what she has to say about that. Or I could just Google her life story and learn that, after working tirelessly for women's rights, she CHOSE to marry and have children because that was what fulfilled her.

Second, you talk about "placating the mommy bloggers." Newsflash: the only placating mommy bloggers care about involves that which calms the teething infant. Most of us are too busy being mommies and bloggers to give two rips what you think of our life choices. And most of us have children still in diapers who are more respectful toward other human beings than you have shown yourself to be.

Third, you claim that getting married and having a family is an "average" thing to do. Anyone can do these things. I would first like to ask what your credentials are that you feel qualified to judge the worth of another human being? I'd also like to point out something else that is "average": sitting behind your computer and ridiculing anyone who exemplifies that with which you disagree. What is above average is taking the time and energy to understand those who choose to live differently than you do. Incidentally, these things you claim "anyone" can do - um, men can't. You are taking the one physical act that ONLY a woman can do, and telling her that she betrays the whole of womankind (I'm sorry, should that be "womynkind"?) if she chooses to do it.

What message are you trying to send? Are you trying to convince us that you hate women? Because reading between the lines leads one to believe that what's wrong with women is that we're not enough like men. That sentiment is far from empowering - in fact, it's enslaving us to a standard that leaves no room for growth and no potential to capitalize on our own individuality.

What I find exceptionally amusing is that, based on this article and others you have written (I took that bullet so that the rest of you won't have to - you're welcome.), I would have to guess that you have a problem with "slut-shaming." You know, the idea of telling a woman who is - for lack of a better term - indiscriminate with her liaisons that her morality is questionable at best. Because only a bigot would care what another woman chooses to do with her private life, right? But bigotry is bigotry - and looking down on someone simply for choosing vanilla (marriage and kids) when you like chocolate (the single life) is exactly that.

An apparently unfulfilled woman who has spent ten years in the military, delivered five babies, been published nationally, and is an absolute fiend in the kitchen, and is four months from two bachelor's degrees.

Monday, January 20, 2014

An Open Letter to Wendy Davis

Dear Wendy,

May I call you Wendy? The familiarity with which you address topics like being a struggling single mother made me feel like I could address you in a familiar fashion as well. Forgive me if that was not your intent.

I have a few concerns about the way you have represented yourself, specifically the way you have reframed and edited your life story for public consumption in your bid for the Governor's office. You spoke of the struggle of a single parent, working hard to feed and clothe children. You spoke of the anguish of divorce and the desire to shield your children from public scrutiny. On the surface, all of those things seem to ring true. But as is often the case with those in public office, once the surface is scratched, the picture begins to change. In regard to that emerging picture, I would like to clarify a few things for you:

First, allowing the other parent custody because "you aren't in a good place to take care of children" (even though you can apparently afford to pay $1200 monthly in child support) is not the same as "struggling as a single parent to make ends meet." Struggling to make ends meet is walking your children to the babysitter and then walking to work because the minute you filed for divorce your ex husband stopped payment on your car and had it repossessed. Struggling is knowing that your 18 month old knows her babysitter better than she knows you because in the Army, you're on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Struggling is knowing that no matter how many hours you work, you will never have one minute of real relaxation because there is no break in transition from work to taking care of children. Struggling is being thankful that childcare is only costing half the money you make each month, so that even if you know there is no car and no savings in your future, you also know that you can feed your kids every day. Struggling is knowing that your ex husband is happy to refuse to see the kids in order to punish you, when in reality they are the ones who cry over every broken promise and every cancelled weekend.

Second, claiming the "anguish of divorce" loses credibility when the divorce comes as a result of your own infidelity and on the heels of your husband paying off your law school debt. If you wanted to shield your children from pain and public scrutiny, you should have protected them by not acting stupidly. It's an interesting parallel, considering your recently acquired nickname "abortion barbie," that you want other people to retroactively shield you and your children from the consequences of your actions - but if the irony is lost on you I wouldn't be terribly shocked. So let me tell you, in regards to divorce and protecting children, what anguish truly is. Anguish is weighing the effects of divorce against the effects of continuing to live with an emotionally abusive alcoholic. Anguish is knowing that no matter how many chances you give him to be a good man and a good father, he will always pay for his own habits before he takes care of his children. Anguish is watching your son coming to the realization that he can never look to his own father to be an example or a source of financial support. Anguish is watching your daughters struggle to find a male role model and knowing that they will have to look somewhere besides "Daddy."

I only spent one year in the Army as a single mom of four, and I know many who have had it far worse than I ever did. I had a very understanding Commander and good friends who were able to help me when I needed it. I had a babysitter who worked for half the going rate because her husband was Army too, and she knew exactly what I was getting paid. Many single women don't have that. And on behalf of those I know who did have it worse, I am outraged that you would claim some sort of solidarity, a part of that sisterhood, or even some moderate comprehension of what they go through every day.

Understand, I am not attempting to downplay the struggles you may have faced yourself. I get that giving up custody of your children is a difficult thing to do. But when you choose to do that and you can afford to then pay child support, do not then claim to understand the struggles of the women who every day wonder if they are going to have to skip a meal in order to make sure their kids have enough. Do not by your own actions and choices inflict damage on your own life and then attempt to draw attention to the fact that you survived it while demanding no one pay any attention to who it was that caused it. In short, tell people the truth. Then if they still don't like you, it will be their fault rather than yours.

You're welcome.