My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Facebook Compilation (Bottom of January)

I do a lot of my writing in bite-sized chunks on Facebook (particularly during "interesting times), and it pulls some writing time and energy from blogging. But it IS still writing, and it's high time I acknowledge that fact. Here is a collection of the best statuses (and a few of the most popular memes) from my public Facebook page over the period of Jan-16th through Jan-31st. (You're welcome to follow me there but read up in the Facebook FAQ [last question] before you send me a friend request.) Once we've caught up, these will only land once every two weeks.

If there's a specific context that's important to one of the posts, I'll add it in at the top, but don't forget that this would have been while the country was sort of unpacking the Jan 6th insurrection and coup attempt, and would have included both Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Biden's inauguration. 

An otter spooning a cat. 
An. OTTER. Spooning. A. Cat!

A few years back someone caught only the tail end of me talking about MLK. "Something something a radical communist murdered for speaking out whose actual message has almost been completely ignored in favor of the few, carefully chosen quotes that make white oppressors feel good while they go on oppressing."

"Jesus?" they asked.

"No," I said. "But fuck if that ain't telling."

If so much as a single conservative complains that the state attorneys general are going after all these people Trump pardoned (and Trump himself), I demand a 6-10-hour supercut of Republicans passionately saying "states rights" that can be sent as our only reply.

I was talking with a friend and I came up with a sort of crass but extremely effective analogy for how I'm starting to feel about the pandemic.

You know how you're driving and you have to go to the bathroom. And you know eventually it's going to be a problem but, for like fifty miles, you've just dealt with the discomfort because you had to. And it didn't mean it felt good or anything, but when there was no choice, you could kind of push it down and just deal. And probably you could go another fifty or even more if you had to.

But then you see a rest stop. And it's like suddenly you're speeding up and fumbling with your keys and running across the little plaza at warp speed because you're not sure you're going to make it. For FIFTY miles you were uncomfortable but okay, but suddenly in the last 20 feet, it becomes a question of how close this photo finish is going to be. If your zipper gets stuck, may God have mercy on your soul.

And that's all because just the IDEA that relief could be in your future made everything ten times worse. 

That's me. That's where I am. I just saw the rest stop sign and HO BOY, am I fucking ready for this shit to be OVER.

Them: Face it. Your narrative that there are more of you than us is fundamentally flawed. It's about even.

Me: You mean after computer-assisted gerrymandering to disenfranchise the most left-leaning people possible, and voter ID laws designed to disenfranchise the most left-leaning people possible, and voter polling station closures designed to disenfranchise the most left-leaning people possible, and voter roll purges to disenfranchise the most left-leaning people possible, and official felony disenfranchisement that works off of a criminal justice system (which disproportionately affect the most left-leaning people possible), and resisting the statehood of any place that would add left-leaning people, and ignoring foreign psyops, and literally having sustained, ongoing, in-plain-sight election interference by your party leader, and voter registration restrictions that almost exclusively manage to disqualify left-leaning folks…(*takes a breath*)…..not to mention an anachronistic winner-take-all-system built at least somewhat with protecting slavery in mind that makes the votes of some people who live in certain places in the country account for something like three times as much as votes of other people who live in certain other parts……

After all THAT, the results (which you STILL lost) were pretty close in some places? Though overall it was by Seven. MILLION. Votes. Is that what you mean by "even"?

Fuck that narrative.

Dear brain,

Of all the….

Look. I put up with a lot of shit over the years, but the image of a deeply empathic person who is telling their partner that they really, really, really want to understand what's happening that has the partner upset, and then spinning around and becoming Dee Snider from "Twisted Sister" and proceeding to sing "I wanna Grok" is just…too much.

GOP (crying): I tried blocking everything and saying no and being obstructionist and refusing to work with them and not compromising and ensuring that they couldn't get anything done and trying to break their shit so that I could say, "Hey this is broken!" next election cycle (because that's what has worked for forty years), but then they went and just worked around me with the overwhelming majority of the country that wants their help. 


I'm not sure there could be a more emblematic image of what the current conservative, privileged, how-dare-they-not-treat-me-with-deference understanding of "censorship" is (and isn't) than a white congressperson literally speaking INTO A MICROPHONE…. at a podium…. while having the floor….. as a lawmaker….. in the chamber of the legislature….. broadcast on CSPAN and turned into a viral YouTube....but wearing a mask about how "censored" she is…..all without the slightest hint of irony.

They really do think "censorship" is the slightest consequences to their speech. This is probably because they've never actually experienced censorship. 

Maybe this could be MORE emblematic if they made a cross-streaming, highly-advertised  special out of MTG's "struggle" available on on Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, Peacock, CBS All Access, and Prime (all at once) called Bound and Gagged: How I Was Utterly Silenced by the Left—Parts I and II or something.

General Electric Gothic:

Your dryer tells you your clothes will be dry in 17 minutes.

You watch an episode of Westworld. You have 16 minutes to go.

You binge the rest of the season. You have 33 minutes to go.

Watch very closely now. 

Now that there is a clear way for us to get their money, they are going to change the laws and regulations (with a terrible alacrity that is never there when WE need help) so that it's illegal or impossible.

They protect themselves with this narrative: "One percent of this is YOUR money, so this hurts you too." 

You are not an embarrassed millionaire. And there's absolutely no reason not to tax the shit out of the folks with enough money to play these kinds of games, so that humans can ~checks notes~ eat, have shelter, and get medical care.

ETA: And that's exactly what they DID. See below…

This is a comment about teacher's 401k values plummeting because of Gamestop shit, but I'm going to put it here. Just so you think pointing and laughing at high finance hedge fund managers who are getting hosed means I suddenly forgot how to nuance or something.

High finance is complicated. There's a pretty good chance that a LOT of people are going to lose money if their 401k or pension has a hedge fund that invested into Gamestop's demise.

But….hang on. That's like half the story. Not even half. Like….10%…or less. And anyone who stops there is either trying to fool you or has themselves been fooled. And it's the typical divide-and-conquer, get-them-to-fight-each-other-over-table-scraps shit that works all too well.

That is avoiding the WHOLE story in a way that is almost criminally manipulative. It's like saying that everyone's going to go broke if we pay for this highway overpass because "it costs 3 HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS!!!!" ….and conveniently forgetting to mention that if we put a progressive tax on everyone in the state to pay for it, your portion is really only like $2. (Plus it's going to get you to work 10 minutes faster every day so….).

When you buy into a 401k, you probably have these investment choices you can make. You fill out a little form and decide how much money goes into each of them. Like, sometimes you have five. I think the one I have from when I worked in "a real job" (because writing for ten hours a day isn't real) has like 9. There's guaranteed interest that has bonds and high-interest savings accounts. There's mid-range stocks and…. index funds and….… high cap growth…. And there will be one of them, marked "VOLATILE" that you are ONLY recommended to put your money in if you have many many many years before retirement. It could pay out big, but you could lose your shirt. Only over time will the ups and downs will stabilize.

And you decide how much of your contribution goes into each fund. Some people just distribute their payments equally. Most people put just a few percent into the volatile fund and beef out the others proportionally. And if you have a set pension (not a 401k), you CAN'T have more than a tiny percentage in that one––it's probably part of your company or union bylaws and gets voted on by the people who show up to those meetings.

Now let's give the devil its due. Teachers are one of the groups that do NOT get all this choice on their base retirement (unless they go yell at state lawmakers, I guess). They do have a little extra fund they can put money into if they want that has something like this. But for the base stuff, the state just invests it for them. However, teacher's retirement investments are diversified. Their entire retirement savings are not ONLY in these hedge funds, if they even have them at all. The mutual funds that the state invests in are diversified, and not JUST based on some hedge fund doing short sales. Actually, it makes the idea that some single poor teacher's retirement will be utterly tanked by JUST this even more ridiculous. 

So what you're ACTUALLY talking about is the impact of a single decision of hedge fund managers of a tiny percentage of the 401k (or pensions) of folks, most of whom who CHOSE to put some (and probably ONLY some) of that money in a volatile fund. (Teachers don't get to fill out a percentage form, but if their retirements are all blown on underwater basket futures, they have SOME recourse.) The amount that this ENTIRE FIASCO will affect some SINGLE "poor widdle teacher's" 401k is probably not even NOTICEABLE by the time the quarter is over. The people who are actually losing money are the finance managers who were for-all-intents-and-purposes gambling on the stock market. 

Boo hoo.

And…just so we're sparkling mountain lake crystal clear….I'm not exactly FOR any of this (it's peak peak PEEEEAAAAAK capitalism after all). This is exactly what's wrong with the system. writ large and in your living room for a change.

I'm also not here for the plucky underdogs narrative. These Reddit guys are like the next tier down of unmitigated shitlords. But "won't someone think of the teachers' retirements" is a really terrible reason for only RICH people to get to play with a free market. It's not like they're taking good care of us and how dare we disrupt their benevolence with our unfettered greed. 

And for some reason, this line of argument only shows up when rich people are taking a bath. They manipulate markets all day and give folks without food or homes the "courtier's reply" about markets when called on it. Like, where's the concern when these volatile funds lose money for a teacher's retirement plan on their own? Where is it when government pensions are raided to pay to keep a car company in business or woo an Amazon campus? Where is it when lawmakers invest in their pals and teachers' retirements take a hit THEN? No, then we get to hear how good teachers have it with their summers off and their tenure and fuck them for wanting some "cushy" retirement, after all. Everyone gets screwed out of their retirement, and the only time it's front page news is when it's also fucking up the 1%. 

They've been playing EXACTLY this game with retirement funds for decades, and it's only suddenly a huge-ass deal to their manbaby asses when some Reddit dudebros totally out-dudebro'ed them, and they lost ONE round of the game they're never supposed to lose. 

The whole "poor teachers" thing just a double standard, and it's intended to garner exactly the kind of knee-jerk sympathy that it has.

And just like that I'm having a moment about how much Rapunzel must really love having her hair pulled.

I think I'm about ready for quarantinication (and/or the rain) to be over. I gotta get out of here.

I think "ghosting" is one of those places where Tumblr and Twitter screenshots are never going to "crack the case," because there will always be something resonant on the other side. We will always end up with a "Yeah but…." comment if we drop one of those posts.


Even if you completely remove the fact that someone has the absolute right to ghost another person if the "exit interview" of that relationship would not be a safe experience for them (like ghosting a dude who's scary on a dating app or ghosting an abuser)….  EVEN WITHOUT THAT NUANCE, there's so much feedback and input between any two numbers on the knob that fiddling with it just changes everything.
Is it "ghosting" or did you just drift apart? Because if someone pings me, they're going to get the chat equivalent of coming home to an excited dog, whether it's been a day or five years. But the minute my life gets busy, I totally forget to go through my list of friends and methodically check in on everyone. Like there are so many possibilities between position one and position two. 

Here's another facet: are you noticing that you're always the one reaching out? Because that doesn't feel good. However, there are lots of reasons that might happen, from just "this is the way the relationship patterns and habits got going and you're angrily unpacking something I haven't even noticed yet" to one person's neurodivergence. I hate feeling like a burden, so I tend to wait, but I also know how I feel if I'm always the one reaching out. And I have literally stopped giving endless emotional labor to people who don't "reach out" back, just because that is a healthy boundary.

And some people really are just….takers. Your relationship ends the minute you stop pouring into it. And other people leave relationships and would rather just walk away than give someone an explanation. I've had people simply stop replying to deep relationship scheduling-the-meet-up texts to later find out that they got involved with someone monogamous and didn't bother to tell me. Of course, not every person who leaves someone wondering what the fuck happened has some totes relatable reason.

Having someone stop simply talking to you sucks. Kind of getting busy with your own shit and forgetting people you care about is understandable. I have been BOTH people in BOTH those scenarios. (I'm far from always a "nice guy.") There are reasons… But it doesn't make it not suck. But there are reasons. But it still sucks. But there are reasons. 

(But it sucks)

(But there are reasons*.)

And we're always going to have feelz about that Twitter screen grab because it's right. But so is the counterpoint.

It's nuance all the way down.

*But it sucks.

Someday I'd like to sit down and just TALK (maybe while getting just a little tipsy) with someone who thinks hundreds of millions of people's just IMMEDIATELY improved mental health, 20 million people whose health coverage is probably safe, perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives that will be saved due to a coordinated response, mask mandates and some fucking leadership, immediately rejoining the WHO and the Paris climate accords, making workplace gender identity discrimination illegal, moratoriums on evictions, extending the pause on student loans, cancelling Keystone pipeline, rescinding the 1776 commission, bolstering DACA, reversing the Muslim ban, reversing four years of deregulation, (ETA-a child tax credit, another $1400 in direct stimulus), not to mention the swearing in of the first woman, and first multiracial Black and Asian woman is not worth celebrating…….  Someday I'd like to sit down and talk with someone who thinks this is all unworthy of a deep breath, maybe a "Nice plateau for a selfie, and then we keep climbing."

Someday I'd like to sit down and talk with someone who doesn't think defeating Trump is worthy of at least a moment of respite before shitting in someone's sandcastle for THEIR audacity to feel relief.

I'm just not understanding how you can look at all that and say "Pfffffft. All that doesn't matter, and I refuse to allow good feelings of others around me about this to go unremarked upon." Particularly when it feels like it is (in a kind of ableist way) demanding people stay in their trauma and their anxiety and how dare they have the audacity to think this could be a good thing. 

I mean, forget for a second that the ACA saved MY life and a handful of my loved ones and so that sort of sentiment lands on me a bit like saying, "It wouldn't matter to me if you and all those other people were dead. I've got some real leftism to do here." It seems to me to at LEAST be "a pretty damn good day." And I feel like the disconnect might be insurmountable in the medium. Is it just a sheer abandonment of pragmatism for absolute idealism? Is it anti-Americanism so profound that even millions of objectively better outcomes cannot warrant so much as a relieved sigh? Is it the leftist version of edgelord? Or am I missing something? Am I leaving out some fundamental ingredient from my own attempts at empathetic alchemy? I know these people are wonderful, smart, educated, well-intentioned. We agree on 95% of leftism and get along famously on days that aren't elections or the last days of Trump's presidency. 

I want to understand (because I want to understand everyone, and this is more confusing to me than when I try to understand people to the right of me). But I just don't. I get that there are miles to go. I get the wanting more. I get not celebrating one's own oppressors. I get the war criminals/capitalism/colonialist/racist stuff. I get that brunch remains cancelled. I just don't get how that means today wasn't at least worth letting some people be relieved and maybe even a little happy.

(If I could lock this post to comments, I would. CLEARLY I'm not trying to ~have~ this discussion online in print. So please take care with replies.)

*Note- This post was popular, but a lot of people let me know that this is a very common trauma response—a refusal to believe that good things are "real" or will remain real. 

I would caution everyone who thinks the Georgia results mean that Biden can do ANYTHING he wants (or that he's a sellout if he doesn't) to slow their roll a little. Approving Senate-confirmable positions or passing contentious laws in a 50/50 split chamber means you can't lose a SINGLE vote, even from the D.I.N.O. wing of the party. Unless you want to whip like woah or backroom deal, you have a LITTLE more breathing room, but it's not like your purple state senators are going to cheerfully appoint socialists like there are no consequences tomorrow for what is done today.

No comments:

Post a Comment