WWRWD? (What Would Robin Williams Do?)

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Unless you live under a rock, or are involved in a much more catastrophic, international crisis (like the one going on over in Iraq; yeah – hello – did people forget about that one?)…then, you are aware of a few certain tragedies that occurred over the last few days; most discussed being the deaths of Robin Williams by suicide, and that of Lauren Bacall of stroke.

Let’s be clear about something: the loss of any human life is, in and of itself, tragic. The loss, for any reason. Any. Reason.

But as the outpouring of sympathies, grief, and broader discussion about depression, mental illness, and suicidal tendencies overtook the world of social media as a result of Williams’ death, the conversation necessarily took a certain tone. A tone that was less about the loss and the future, and more about the moral.

Everyone, mental illness is real – get help.

Everyone, Robin Williams is smiling down on all of us.

Everyone, let’s imagine that a man who committed suicide is now laughing in heaven, because that’s totally what religious doctrine that suggests such a place exists says will happen to people who take their own lives.

I’m no atheist, and I’m also no Bible thumper. But if I know one thing, it’s that some, if not all, religions say people who commit suicide go to hell, or at the very least purgatory. So if you believe in heaven, you should be believing that Robin Williams is actually toasting on the devil’s pitchfork right about now.

Even Williams’ What Dreams May Come has the suicide victim stuck in the middle of hell.

These droves of pithy suicide and depression morals then turned into the haves and the have nots, the haves being those that felt their positivity and opinions on suicide were absolute truth; and the have nots being anyone who said anything the haves did not like.

It started with people talking about whether or not suicide is a choice, which it – by definition – is. (Arguably, it is the most personal choice, as the truest consequence is to no one but the decision-maker.) Calling it a choice pissed a lot of people off.

It continued with people railing on about whether or not suicide is ever justifiable. This is when the “suicide is so selfish” posters came on the scene; and when the know-it-alls of the world came out in droves to claim that suicide is an idiotic, narcissistic thing to do. (For the record: it is neither idiotic, nor selfish. Some of the most intelligent and selfless people I have ever known, or known of, have taken their own lives; Robin Williams is included in that group.)

Then Matt Walsh entered the room, and everyone lost their fucking minds.

For those of you unfamiliar with Matt Walsh, he is probably the most hated blogger on the Internet; so much so that his sometimes-controversial positions have garnered him the infamous title of “douche dick.”

People (mostly bloggers) hate this guy so hard for almost anything that comes out of his mouth, no matter how innocuous it may be. They post long diatribes about hating him on their Facebook and Twitter pages. Often. Then they get very dramatic at the end with “I just don’t want this guy to get more page links, I’m not going to link him…nope, not going to do it, I would feel terrible if he got page hits by my hand!!!!”

Because (1) none of us know how to use Google (apparently), and aren’t now intrigued enough by your psychobabble to go look his newest offense up; and, (2) we should all just blindly believe everything you say.

Absolutely everything, no questions asked.

Well, today I believed it, at least for a while. I believed that Matt Walsh probably made some callous remarks about Williams’ death, and it would just annoy me. I’ll admit to having read things he said that made me mad in the past; not all things he’s said, but definitely some. Still, I agree with more of what he says than probably anyone else on the Internet. I’d never get so crazy about my disagreements so as to talk publicly about him being a douche dick, or whatever the cliques are calling him these days. But we’ll leave it at: I’ve always had mixed feelings about him, so I figured there was at least some probability he’d said something out there.

So I ignored it and moved on with my day. I was busy, so you know…

But suicide is different. It’s very personal to me. It’s very visceral. It’s happened to two people very close to me, within the last two years; so the wounds from their deaths are still open and bleeding. Going about my day, therefore, still kept the question about what Matt Walsh said in the back of mind, just as the discussion of suicide and it’s consequences had been there since I heard of Williams’ death yesterday afternoon. Has pretty much always been there for the last two years.

Then I saw someone share a site called “What Matt Walsh Is Wrong About Today.” That was when I decided to actually read Walsh’s original post about Williams’ death. And as I toggled between the two – one calling Matt Walsh “a dick,” “callous,” “careless” and “ignorant;” the other a (seemingly) careful analysis of suicide and the discussion that needs to be had, I realized that there is a lot about suicide that people don’t seem to understand.

Even more they don’t understand about what Matt Walsh said.

(EVEN MORE about acting like adults. That a group of people have gotten together and made a website to single out someone they disagree with, or don’t like, says a lot about why bullying is so rampant in our culture.)

Without going into all the details of the Walsh controversy, it started with a tweet from Walsh, stating that “When we talk about depression we shouldn’t pawn the whole thing off on ‘chemical imbalances.’ It’s not just clinical. It’s spiritual.”

The responses to that tweet, both on the What Matt Walsh Is Wrong About Today site, as well as Twitter, are insane. As I read through some of them, I realized that people are so ignorant, uneducated, and closed-minded, it’s baffling. Baffling. Suddenly they all seem to completely deny that there is such a thing as non-clinical depression. Clinically, there is – it’s called situational depression (my 10 year old daughter suffers from this). There’s also a depression called “existential depression” which is related to existential (versus acute, situation, or clinical) anxiety (I suffer from this). This is the kind of fantastical ideas that the Existentialists and Shakespeare’s Hamlet talked about.

And it’s even more complicated, and there are even more classifications, than that.

Do you people see yet how complex depression and suicide can be?

There was nothing callous, incorrect, or horrible about Walsh’s tweet. In fact, it’s a discussion that needs to be had, because clearly people aren’t getting it. Because Robin Williams is one of millions that have taken their own lives, and will continue to, until people wake up and stop romanticizing these terrible and tragic emotional situations.

No one seemed to like Walsh’s elaboration on the point (in his lengthier blog post), because people responded in kind by calling him negative, insensitive, one-sided, and – again – a dick. They called his very thoughtful comments ignorant.

If anything, I think Walsh’s post was insightful; and in some ways comforting to know that someone – finally, anyone – understands that the depths and the hells of depression and suicide are so much more complex than just one thing; that it isn’t just about chemicals or illness or disease, but about choices, personal circumstances, and an understanding of the abyss that only the person committing the act of suicide could possibly have.

That these things have to be had in the conversation about suicide and moving forward to prevent them. That you can’t just chalk it up to a disease; that it may not always be simply negativity making the decision to take the pills or slit the wrists, or in the case of Williams, hang from the rafters. That you can’t just say “they’re in heaven now smiling on us, get help if you need it, moving on with my PTA meetings and other mundane bullshit that exists for everyone but those that have succumbed to nothingness.”

Because that’s what suicide really is, that no one wants to admit. It’s succumbing to nothingness. People don’t commit suicide because they want to shine down on us from fucking heaven. They succumb to nothingness because they want the dark, black, nothing of non-existence. They want life to stop, which makes the people referring to suicide’s afterlife sound like the only true idiots in the room.

At the end of Walsh’s post, he talks about joy, and it’s absolute necessity to life. He says

So this, for me, is always the most essential moral at the end of these kinds of sad, terrible stories: we are all meant for joy. We are all meant for love. We are all meant for life. And as long as we can still draw breath, there is joy and love to be found here. I believe that. If I didn’t, I would have left a long time ago.

Joy and love. There might not be much else for us on this Earth, but these are the only two things that matter anyway. These are the forces that brought the whole universe into being, and these are the forces that sustain it, and us, and all life.

I just don’t understand how someone can read that and call the guy a dick. Or a douche dick, or whatever they say about him. And it’s when I read that, and I toggled through even more posts about Matt Walsh and his terrible ways, that I began to wonder what Robin Williams would do. What anyone, really, who has committed suicide, or thought about committing suicide, would do. Would they call this guy names, and personally attack him for talking about these issues holistically and from the point of all sides?

Or would they act with compassion and understanding and the knowledge that only someone who has looked into the abyss could have?

 

Yes, I Judged A Kid Today. I’ll Do It Again Tomorrow.

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I am a believer in a lot of things. They range from really stupid things, like what color nail polish is appropriate to wear to a funeral (the answer is: clear); to very big and grandiose things, like whether or not God exists. If I learned one thing in graduate school, it’s that we  all have to have beliefs. It’s essential to our success as functional and happy human beings.

On the bigger side of things, I believe in love, compassion, and understanding. I believe in a universal “right” and “wrong.” I believe in not judging a book by its cover, most of the time. And I believe in boundaries.

I would go as far to say that I’m a big believer in boundaries; in fact, I believe so much in my belief in boundaries that I place boundaries on my beliefs.

I talk a lot on this blog about being understanding and compassionate towards others, especially parents. I want to understand that friends put their newborns in front of the television – knowing that TV is bad for developing infant brains – for a reason that is understandable and explainable. I bite my tongue often when I hear of friends birthing at home, rather than in the safety and security of a hospital or hospital-affiliated birthing center. I struggle to not judge other mothers, or other women or men even, for the choices they make: to work instead of attend a child’s school play; to bottle-feed over breastfeed; to serve McDonald’s night after night instead of healthier, at-home options. I try very hard to not look at a situation and say “what a shitty parent” over anything, even the most horrifying offenses (i.e. drug use, alcoholism, listening to Pitchfork) – I am not living in that person’s shoes and have no idea what they may or may not be going through. As with many parents in particular, my first instinct is to judge; my second instinct is to put that judge-y shit in check and act with love and compassion.

But then there are instances such as today, when I placed a boundary on my beliefs in compassion and decided to let the judgment out.

Yes, I judged a kid today. I’ll do it again tomorrow.

Last night I was bored and couldn’t sleep, so went through the typical humor sites to keep my wandering mind occupied, since my Kindle was dead so my book was unaccessible. A couple of pages into the most recent EpicFail.com posts and I came across this: a photo titled “Respect Fail” of a kid flipping off his teacher.

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My first mistake in putting boundaries on my compassion and making my judgment was to post it on my personal Facebook page and call the kid a dickhole. Let’s be clear: this kid is a fucking asshole. I don’t care what the circumstance was for him to do this – it was wrong. There is a line of right and wrong, and this crossed it so far into the territory of wrong, there is not a single fucking excuse on this planet that could even set it on the fence.

But posting that brought out the Mama Bears and the Papa Bears, very likely defensive about their own choices to parent in a way that would excuse this behavior of their own children for reasons they believe to be valid. It brought out the non-conformists who want to understand and fuck the man and be punk rock parents that are all about ending the corruption of authority, all that other happy horse shit that could otherwise be described as an unrealistic view of what it is to help our children enter the world well-adjusted.

Then it turned to being about how I’m a hypocrite and I live in a shitty town in California where people repress children’s feelings and create psychopaths that don’t know how to stand up to authority. My yoga pants were mentioned no less than five times (whateverthefuck that has to do with anything). Someone said “shame on you” because I obviously have no idea what some kids have been through – maybe that kid just lost a parent and is a total douche now because he’s really hurting!

All of the debate and the very sad statements aside, there is one thing I want to address, and one thing only:

Yes, I judged a kid today.

I judged that kid because regardless of whatever is going on in his life, he is a symptom of the bigger problem of our culture. Our excuse-making, back-patting, nobody-fails, everyone gets an award for participating, blame the teachers, scream at authority, fuck the man, it’s everybody else’s fault but my own – culture. A culture where people don’t want to call things as they are, and pussy-foot around it in the name of being nice and understanding.

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When I was ten years old, my mom abandoned my father and I to move across the country with a guy who was still married (and subsequently went back with his wife a few years later). No one let me get away with bullshit like this because of that. If I spoke to my dad disrespectfully, I got grounded. If I got bad grades, I didn’t get to go to pool parties in the summer.

When I was in middle school and high school, kids did stuff like this all the time, for no reason other than that they were disrespectful pricks who needed a lesson in respect. They got in trouble for it. I remember my friends’ moms grounding them for ditching school; I can think of countless times that people were yelled at by their parents, rather than their parents yelling at their teachers. I remember a boyfriend’s mom calling him a jerk…she said “you’re really becoming a jerk, you know that?” Maybe it was right, maybe it was wrong for her to name call him. But you know what? He was being a jerk. A big one.

But today I say what anyone would have said years ago – that this kid is a dick and needs to learn respect, effective dissent, and appropriate conduct towards authority, and everyone loses their fucking minds. People are taking it personally – attacks on them, attacks on their kids. Just another sign that I am a mean, heartless person who should not even be allowed near children with a ten foot poll.

In the end, I think this all boils down to something bigger than all of us; something that all of our free-loving hippy shit about being compassionate and loving and understanding does not apply. It’s about bullying, it’s about respect, it’s about authority, it’s about responsibility. First and foremost, it’s about us. We – as parents and adults, leaving our children a world much different than it was forty or fifty years ago – owe it to our children, to the little dickwad in that picture, to stand up and say this behavior is wrong. To say that maybe our behavior that allows it or contributes to it, or maybe even models it, is wrong. To look at other things that happen – kids destroying grocery stores; toddlers being allowed to crawl all over million dollar art installations at museums – and consider just when the fuck children became the masters and commanders of society. To admit our flaws and move forward together to make better people who would never – not in a million years, no matter how awful the teacher may be – think about flipping off a teacher while friends laugh and take photos of it with their camera phones. To give our children the tools of respect for others and themselves, and the resources to effective and healthy dissent and expression of their feelings.

Maybe I’m just as bad, because I’m calling this poor innocent child names. Maybe I’m the asshole for not understanding the context-less nature of the photograph. Yes, I judged a kid today.

For this, I’ll do it again tomorrow.

Losing Touch With the World

Today was Day 1 of Week 2 in “My Kid Is Better Than Yours Hell.” For those of you that don’t know what I am talking about because you haven’t been keeping up on my blog lately, every summer there is this crunch time in which all of the extra-curricular and other community activities we want to do fall at the same, damn time. Every day is a long and arduous march of activities – shuttling from one thing to the next until the end of the day where I collapse in utter exhaustion.

Today, though, I took it a little more easy through the death march and took a look around, as well as at myself. In doing so, I realized that we all seem to be losing touch with the world.

#1 Facebook Bullying

I’ve said it once before and I’m going to say it again: I am so sick and goddamned tired of people that are Facebook bullying it makes me, well … sick. You know what I’m talking about: that person that posts a status update or an eCard they thought they were so clever to make:  it’s Facebook, not your diary. People that make fun of or put down other people are bullying. They’re judging. And they’re saying “I am the standard by which other people should judge their actions.” All of this is just a little out of touch with the way the world really is.

Yesterday I saw a friend had taken it even further when she posted a picture of two people she saw on the beach – a man and a woman, both of which were a little frumpy. She included a pithy comment “nothing but eye candy here today…” and I immediately lost every ounce of respect I had for this woman. She is so out of touch with the world it is astounding. To think a woman in her 30s is still sitting around judging the way people look – and then talking about it – is a little sickening.

#2 Motherfucking Octomom

I saw some people talking on Twitter last week, and then again on Facebook, about how Octomom is now turning to stripping to make some money. Or was it porn? Who cares what it was, what is out of touch with the world were people’s responses. People are saying she is a bad mother because she is stripping. People are saying that child services needs to get involved.

To begin, Octomom stripping to pay the bills is a good thing. The very people that are criticizing her for using the system to pay for her many children are also the ones complaining now that she is trying to support them. Even if she uses some of that money for herself – whatever the case may be, if she is working, she is working.

To continue, Octomom has been center stage for some time now. Every time I hear or read someone say “can we please have a child services intervention?” I think this person must be a complete moron; because only someone terribly moronic would not realize that child services has known about Octomom for some time now and has no problem with her.

Do you know why child services has no problem with her? Because there are a lot of mothers in this world with that many children. Single mothers, no less! Single mothers that strip to pay the bills!! Gasp!! Because she is not actually harming the children – she doesn’t do drugs, she isn’t abusing them. She’s stripping – something probably millions of mothers before her have done. This has been going on for decades in this country, alone. Why everyone acts as though Octomom is any different than your average, uneducated, middle-aged woman in an unfortunate position is beyond me.

#3 Breastfeeding in a swimming pool

And then today I saw that one of my friends had commented on some article about some lady that got kicked out of a public wading pool for whopping out her tit and squirting her boob juice at her 10 month old kid.

The article begins “It’s never a good sign for society when a breastfeeding mom is told she has to stop nursing in public because some prude has their panties in a twist.” The writer of this article, the publisher of this website, and every idiot that agrees with this sentiment and the plight of the woman who breastfed in a public swimming pool have clearly lost touch with the world.

That’s right, I did say “every idiot.”

I am all for breastfeeding if a woman decides this is the best course for her and her baby. I’m all for public breastfeeding, as long as it doesn’t get on me. I do not believe that a woman should be forced to go in a bathroom, or in the car.

But I also know that it’s never a good sign for society when we have forgotten the very real dangers of disease. HIV and AIDS are transmitted through breast milk, as well as a number of other bacterial, viral, and fungal agents. If that mother had spilled some of her milk into that pool, while the chlorine may have killed it, it also may have not. The people that asked her to get out of the pool to do the feeding were doing nothing other than exerting their right to protect themselves from someone else’s bodily fluid. This is a matter of basic hygiene, and I’d have to argue that it’s never a good sign for society when such things are being overlooked for the sake of proving a point.

 #4 “My Kid Is Better Than Yours Hell” Tennis Dads

Remember last week when the tennis dads (I called them SOAPS – Summertime OverAchieving Parents) almost got into a fight over whose daughter was more into watching Wimbledon? Well, this week one of the dads did not return; the other brought his daughter 15 minutes late. When they walked up he said “sorry we’re late, but I think we all know Katelyn doesn’t need lessons.”

Are you kidding me? This guy’s arrogance is off the fucking charts.

A little later it was revealed that he had spent an assload of money on a new, adult-sized tennis racket for his six year old daughter. The coach gave her a kid’s-sized one to borrow since the big one kept falling out of her hands and the dad started screaming about it.

I realized at this moment that the only one in touch with the world at these tennis courts was Coach Harvey, because he said something so wonderful and amazing I am still grinning from ear-to-ear: “perhaps if you worried less about your daughter becoming a pro and more about helping her learn to actually hit the ball things would go a little smoother here.”

Fuck yes.

#5 The B(itch) is losing touch with the world

And last, but certainly not least, it appears that I am even losing touch with the world. No, I am not posting as a bully on Facebook, and I’m certainly not breastfeeding in a swimming pool.

But I am losing touch with everything I love. Since I got home from vacation in April, life has been something of a downward swing. I’m homesick. I miss my family. And a lot of my hobbies and interests seem to be dwindling.

Even my blog is losing its fanfare. Last week I posted about an upcoming video blog series I want to do, and an unprecedented number of people – people I called friends – said they were not interested. Really? REALLY? That’s the last fucking time I ‘like’ their pages, or share or support their causes. A lot of people said they were interested too, and I plan on doing it in the future … but not until I figure out just how and why I have lost touch with the world a little myself.

My general readership is dwindling too, which seems odd since nothing in my blog has changed, save for a little design changing here and there. The most popular thing people seem to come to my site for now is donkey pornography. I haven’t ever been able to get more than a small amount of Facebook fans.  Contrary to popular belief, I’ve done everything the so-called experts say you should do: I published an eBook for my blog, utilized my personal network, I hosted a giveaway. And yet, the more I try the more I seem to lose touch with the world (the blog world, that is). I Googled it. I asked around a little. So far, I can’t seem to get a straight answer.

Although while I have retreated into my shell just a little bit more than I was before – both in my online life, as well as my in-person life – I at least have comfort in knowing I haven’t lost touch with the world like tennis dad or the people that rail on about Octomom. I’m not popping out my boob in a swimming pool to leak my bodily fluid everywhere. At least I haven’t lost it as much as them. I don’t think I ever could.

Another Pet Peeve: “MKIBTY Hell” Edition

I have a lot of pet peeves. People that place a space between their exclamatory sentence and its exclamation point is a big one (OMG ! ! !). Leaving little hairs in the bathroom sink is another. There are quite a few; so many, in fact, that I seem to have lost count.

On today, Day 2 of “My Kid Is Better Than Yours Hell,” I was confronted with another big one: people that believe the world exists solely for them.

This comes out in so so so many ways. Today it was gargantuan – in almost every, single thing I had to run to and get done, when it involved interacting with the humanity of my two-bit, Smalltown, CA town, I encountered it. But there were two, glaring incidences that screamed this pet peeve in my face and sent me home wishing I could hide under the covers until this two weeks of hell is over.

#1 The day started at swimming, and this stupid grandmother was pushing her kid’s stroller into the indoor swimming pool area – which was crowded with (literally) over a hundred people. There are seven or eight classes going on at all times during the summer, and there is a clear walkway between the seated area (which was packed) and the pool. So this bitch – of course under the impression that the world and this pool exist solely for her and her bastard grandchildren – stopped in the middle of the walkway, parked the stroller with the younger bastard, and had the older bastard in the swimming class plop down on the floor and spread eagle to have grandma help take off his boots.

This would not have been such a major deal, but rather a petty annoyance, if only it weren’t time for seven classes to end and exit, and eight classes to enter and begin. All of a sudden there was a bottleneck at the entrance because of this dumb fucking old lady and – in the culminating moment of it all – one of the parents in the back started pushing and the father right behind us (waiting to pass the lady and her stupid ass stroller) fell into the pool.

#2 Then this evening, at t-ball, we were confronted with our resident bully. Since we homeschool, we don’t have too much exposure to how bad bullies have become. Nonetheless, I am always completely shocked to see some of the ways that kids act now.

But what can you expect from a little girl wearing a t-shirt that says “My Mom is More Awesome Than Your Mom.” Seriously? Where can you even get such a thing? It all seemed to be going well until they were learning about the bases and my kid was pushed off the base by this little bitch of a bully wearing her XXXL “My Mom is More Awesome Than Your Mom” t-shirt.

Apparently she pushed because she wanted to be on the base and didn’t want to wait her turn, which all the kids were getting an opportunity to take. Later she kept cutting in batting line as well, until finally the teachers had to talk to the More-Awesome-Than-the-Rest-Of-Us Mom about her kid’s behavior. What did this terribly ghetto and uncouth woman say, you ask?

“Maybe if the rest of these little kids would stop being such pussies.”

Are you fucking kidding me? I swear like a sailor, but never like that and never in front of kids and other parents. I also like to let the professionals handle the situation, but at this point if her little, obese rat of a daughter touches my kid one more time; or she talks like that in front of these kids again – well, my fist will have to be removed from her throat, because no logic or semblance of class and decorum will stop me from putting it there.

The teachers (younger than me and clearly afraid that this ghetto ass trick was going to break out a gun) simply backed down and called all of the parents after the fact to notify them that the park district had warned the mother that her daughter would be removed from the class if there was one more incident like that.

We’ll see what happens next week.

Who knows what is in store for us tomorrow? Yesterday was the near-fight between the two SOAP fathers whose daughters could give two shits about tennis; today was one person after another with a clear unawareness that the world exists for people other than them. In the morning we’re going to swimming yet again and – against my better judgement – in the afternoon we are heading to a free balloon show at our local library. These free kid shows at the library are worse than Disneyland – the most ugly side of all humanity comes out for these things. But the balloon show is really cool, so we’re going to give it a shot. What else will I have to write about then anyway if we don’t?

To the lady at the swimming pool and the ghetto lady at t-ball, this world does not exist for you. Neither does swimming, nor t-ball. Get to the back of the fucking line like the rest of us. Oh, and by the way … I suppose it’s time I should join the ranks and let you both know that: my kid is way better than yours.