I Am – At My Core – A Sanctimommy.

Opinions are like assholes. Everybody’s got one.

I’ve said many versions of that over the course of the years writing on this blog. And in life, in general. It’s probably one of the only cliches I can really get on board with. I’m just not a big fan of them – at least as far as talking in cliche goes.

(My most hated cliched phrase is “the grass is always greener on the other side.” Fuck you. My grass is dead, like my heart. Ain’t nobody want my cold, dead grass.)

But then there’s the becoming a cliche thing, which I have done through my adult life over and over and over again. It’s just how I live – one standard, societally-dictated role after another. You name it, I have probably – at some time until I’ve hated myself enough to stop – fulfilled it.

The biggest one, the one that persists in spite of the self-loathing it creates within me, is probably the worst. I am – at my core – a sanctimommy.

If you don’t know what a sanctimommy is, in short it’s: a woman who becomes a mother and then suddenly has an opinion that she believes to be absolute fact on what is right and wrong for children. All children. Every child in the world, regardless of their situation. Regardless of whether those children are hers or not, her positions are the universal imperative. The Kantian maxim of absolute moral right.

It’s almost as cliche as meeting your husband at the door when he gets home from work every night with a smoking pipe and a martini. (For me, I’m lucky my husband works nights, or I’d probably have fallen to that one too.)

So I fell to the cliche of the sanctimommy pretty quickly after becoming a mother, and my list of sanctimonious views on mothering and raising children has continued to stack up over the years. And they just get worse. I have an opinion for just about everything, and believe those opinions to be the absolute right in my world of black-and-white, never gray, rights and wrongs.

It’s just the way things are, and I am.

12729097_1126111397433349_2977683069917066235_nThat doesn’t mean I share these sanctimonious views with everyone. I don’t take it the step so many do to judge others, and foist those judgments upon them. I’m rapidly becoming an Internet troll, making comments on news articles just to test out jokes or ideas for my blog (like my most recent: a comment on Starbucks when I don’t actually drink coffee…). But when it comes to parenting, I keep the tippy-typing in the comments to a minimum.

Were I to wield my sanctimommmy views upon the world: on the Internet, in my Facebook, at family gatherings and the kids’ weekly sports shit…it would be a wasteland. A wasteland of my universal maxims and everyone else hating me. A wasteland where I have zero Facebook friends left, and my invitations conveniently “get lost in the mail.”

66055535

In fact, only recently I shared one of my particularly new sanctimonious views on being a parent in the form of a joke meme. In it, I basically said that people with only one child have no idea – NO CLUE – what tired is. Because I have two. And I’m fucking tired – no doubt way more tired than if I only had one. You might say double tired. Well all the backlash came within minutes of me sharing what I thought was a hilarious meme I, myself, crafted, and suddenly every parent of one child thought I was some asshole who had not a single fucking clue what I was talking about.

4105557

Usually, and especially now, I’m so scared of the reactions I might get, that I typically only share my views on parenting with my husband. I’m not even sure if he agrees in earnest with me on most of this shit, some of it totally inconsequential to our current lives as parents. And often I wonder how he even tolerates someone as judgmental and sanctimonious as I.

But he does, and then there’s that whole thing where it seems like a lot of people in our lives hate me anyway. Like I said a few blog posts ago: I’m not everyone’s cup-o-tea. For every sanctimommy view I keep to myself, there’s at least three on other issues that I won’t shut the fuck up about. Many an invitation has been “lost in the mail” over the years.

So…why not just go full sanctimommy? Take the leap from holding my beliefs in my mind to outwardly and verbally judging others?

Why not tell people that I think at least one parent being at home with the kids at the very least part time until said kids graduate high school is what’s right? And that through sacrifices I have made, I know that oftentimes people claiming that they have to work is more a statement about their priorities in liking vacations and expensive things than what has been scientifically and statistically proven to be what is best for kids. (Note: I said oftentimes, and I am completely aware that in many families both parents need to work even multiple jobs each to meet the bills; though this does not change the fact that it would be categorically and factually beneficial for their kids if one of them were home at least some of the time.)

Or I could admit that for a brief period of time I seriously considered keeping pacifiers in my purse to slip into the mouths of infant family members whose parents – I can only assume on principle or the belief that they know better than trained medical professionals – had ignored the warnings of doctors that pacifier use decreases SIDS risk by 95%. That I believe people who put shoes on their children before their children can walk outside look at their children as a fashion accessory. And that people who pierce the ears of an infant – except in the case of Hispanic families, who have a cultural reason – are teaching their kids from the earliest age possible that their body is not something with which they have complete control over.

(I came close to outward sanctimommy recently on the piercing the ears of infants issue at a family dinner when I let a joke slip that I was going to buy my husband’s goddaughter big hoop earrings for her first birthday. When someone told me that was crazy, I said ‘almost as crazy as piercing an infant’s ears.’ But I knew then to shut my mouth and move on lest my true sanctimommy be released.)

There’s so much more I don’t share. About school work (kids should have a lot). About playtime (kids should have even more of that than school work). Like parents who line their kids up in so many extra-curricular activities that they have no time to be kids (that this is one of the worst things a parent could do).

My list goes on and on and on. I’ve already shared too much, and anticipate a backlash.

My point, though, is that I withhold from sharing most of it because it’s not my place to. I may think someone is doing something wrong by their children, but unless it’s actually endangering the life of the child – like legit endangering the life, for example when people choose not to vaccinate their children because they are insane and have no grasp of reality – then who am I to tell others how to live? You want to teach your kids particular lessons and values, by all means – do it. In the end, you will be the one to answer for that.

Just as I will be the one to answer for the lessons and values I have taught mine. And in that vein, no one has a right to share their own sanctimonious views with me on the way I raise my kids.

In the end, I think we are all sanctimommies. In our core of cores, it’s a mandate when you have kids. Otherwise, your kids flounder around, living life according to what a whole gaggle of people believe, and then you have taught your children something very damaging – perhaps the most damaging – that making decisions for yourself is not the way to live. That the opinions of others bear more weight than your own beliefs and feelings.

I would much rather feel like shit about myself for having so many judgmental views in my head, than raise my children to believe that they can’t make decisions of their own accord. If there is anything I’ll be sanctimonious and loud about, it’s that.

image

Advertisements

Am I Destined To Live In the Ghetto?

ahhh-the-ghetto-50504

I ask myself often: do I live in the ghetto? No, not really. I live in the suburbs.

But as time has gone on, and we’ve moved from one nice area that turned out to be not-so-nice, to another, I’ve come to realize something: the suburbs may be synonymous with the ghetto.

We moved on June 1st to a condo owned by my husband’s family. It was purchased for him and his brother, and as a general investment, when the community was first being built about ten years ago. They’ve had a slew of renters coming in and out for several years. Eventually he and his brother, and their various roommates, moved out and got married, and they had a family friend renting for a few years.

But as we recently found ourselves in the position of having to either (a) pay rent beyond our means in our prior apartment to stay in town near family, or to (b) move back to the city of Los Angeles (where my husband works) – we all realized that it was time for us to occupy the condo.

We really had no other choice if we wanted to stay close to our families, or should I say if our families wanted us to stay close to them.

About a month ago, I was pulling into the drive and parking my car when a crazy-looking, middle aged man approached me and my daughter getting out of my SUV. He was shaking – noticeably – and started screaming at me about how he didn’t like my driving before I even got out of the car. He went on to tell me that my garden on our patio offended him, and – just who did I think I was trying to make the rest of the neighbor’s patios look dumpy compared to my nice set up. Was this guy serious? I still don’t know. I did not engage him in a fight, I simply tried to calm him down and assured him that I drive much slower than I should need to, in a community where my kids and friends have almost been hit twice, already, by crazy drivers. And that we have only the best intentions with our admittedly nice things.

11872302_851094782623_7718313065513953767_o11921727_851094378433_5672761055234370595_oHe wasn’t having it though. For him, this confrontation was not about having a reasonable discussion – it was about the fact that he thought we were renters, just like all the other people that have come and gone through this, the family home. It was about the fact that he felt he needed to threaten me with his supposed-HOA credentials. And, I can only assume, it was about the fact that the guy clearly gets off on accosting and harassing young women in parking lots.

I finally gave up, and just walked into the house as he continued to scream – crying much harder than I should have been.

Naturally, as any blogger will do, I took my upsettedness to Facebook. I talked about the incident on my page, and about how the man brought me to tears. Many expressed sympathy, some talked about the actual issues in my community with me – something everyone should do, because no place is perfect. Then one friend (as she always does), asked “why does this crap always happen to you?” In response I answered a question with a question: “because we keep moving from ghetto to ghetto?”

I never said this was the ghetto.

I never said this place was a dump.

I never actually said anything, other than that I was accosted by a middle aged man in the parking lot, and that it upset me. I cracked a jokey question about ghetto behavior seeming to be everywhere.

(As anyone with any experience with others knows, anytime a white girl such as myself refers to something as “ghetto,” she is referring to a behavior, not necessarily a place.)

The response and the gossip that followed, however, turned into something I could have never – not in a million years – expected. It wasn’t about whether or not I was OK. It was about me saying I lived in the ghetto (which I didn’t ever actually say), me talking trash about my in-laws on Facebook (which, obviously, I would never do), me being ungrateful that we are “allowed” to live in and care for this home (didn’t realize that staying close to family while my husband still commutes 100 round trip miles a day for work, paying the monthly mortgage amount, and caring for the place as if it were our own was an allowance)…and so on and so forth…

So reported my husband, it eventually got to his parents and now – naturally – the gossip wheel left me feeling deflated and bullied, and looking like an asshole to his mom and dad.

All I really wanted was to come home and not be yelled at by a strange man.

Since then, there have been several more incidences:

-We received a letter in the mail that we had violated the HOA’s rules by screwing things into the front door and patio walls (there are no HOA rules about this, not to mention the things hanging are done so with removable, outdoor mounting tape).

-We received another letter in the mail that our plants were not sitting on proper drainage plates when set on the ledge around the patio (there is an HOA rule about this one; however, there absolutely are proper drainage plates under my ledge-lining plants, which I can’t say the same for our neighbors – some of whom are actually on the HOA).

-Someone has stolen and/or destroyed at least 75% of the plants on our patio.

-We saw someone in the middle of the night, just a few nights ago, creeping onto our porch at 4:15 in the morning, and pouring something into our plants (I was wondering why my last crop died suddenly and unexpectedly in August).

-The list goes on…and on…and on…

However, I don’t feel as though I can talk or post or say anything about it to anyone, because the results of me saying anything disparaging about people around here are: gossip, outright lies, and harassment from people that (a) don’t even live here themselves, and (b) should be loving and supportive.

Today – the doozy – I opened the garage door to take my daughter to tennis, only to find the wife of the guy that accosted me standing there. She yelled just like her husband did, that I am not allowed to open my garage like that. I said “like what?” and she replied “have it open unless you are coming and going.” I responded “um, I’m taking my daughter to tennis…I am literally in my car and we are literally talking as I have halfway backed out of the garage. By the way, are they doing anything about getting some speed limit signs up in this drive?”

She told me that the speed with which people drive through the community is not the HOA’s problem.

My daughter got into the car and we drove off, closing the garage door behind us. I saw that the woman had moved on to another victim: our neighbor, who she apparently finds reason to illegally tape record.

Yes, the HOA woman had climbed into the bushes of our neighbor, and was leaning into the balcony to tape record a conversation going on inside. When we got home from tennis, I saw her out by the school next to our complex. She was yelling at the crossing guard about the position of her chair, where the volunteer sits waiting to make sure children safely cross the street.

Finally I realized that I couldn’t take it anymore: I had to talk about this. I had to share about the experience on my Facebook page. I had to write this blog about it.

Not only because this experience is just another in a long list of behaviors that are not-so-nice, in a community that could otherwise be a very good one; but because lies and gossip should not dictate whether or not I speak out about what I think to be right and wrong.

A lot of people may not like that I say this, but the suburbs – at least in my experience – are ghetto.

This isn’t to say that there are are only trashy communities in the suburbs.

This isn’t to say that there are only terrible people in the suburbs.

Actually, quite the contrary: the suburbs are often much more beautiful than the city, more well-kept. You find better landscaping, and often better neighbors in suburbs.

I’m just saying that there is a common thread that the suburbs of any major metropolis are known for, and that is the suburban sense of entitlement. People in the suburbs often pay more, so a lot of them – read a lot of them, not all – think they can tell other people what to do. They don’t give a fuck about who sees them acting however they are acting, and on that note they often believe that what they do is the right thing (even when it’s sitting on your front lawn with no shirt on guzzling beers). They think they own everything – the streets, the neighborhood, other people’s patios – and that they can tell others what to do.

Again: a lot of, not all. But enough for it to have earned suburbanites a reputation.

In the city, this is one of the biggest complaints people have about the ‘burbs. Everyone is up in each other’s business, and everyone wants to tell others how to live. And this, well this is ghetto. It’s unsavory to act so trashy, entitled, arrogant, and self-centered.

Of course then in bigger cities, you do have true ghettos. Like the Jewish ghettos during WWII, where minorities are segregated into run-down, slum-like districts that have been gentrified for years to keep the bad behaving the way they do because they have no other choice. So between the slums of the gentrified inner-cities, and the truly trashy behavior of a fair percentage of suburbanites, we are stuck. There will always be a chance that someone will act ghetto in a place that is otherwise nice. And we’ve all seen what happens to Hilldale in Back to the Future – there will always come a time when the newest and nicest community becomes the next gentrified, slummy neighborhood.

This of course leads me to believe that: yes, I am destined to live in the ghetto. Until some of these attitudes change – until people are willing to talk about the issues, and not bully those who want to make a change; until people put a stop to gentrification and change their attitudes about what they are and are not entitled to do and say – we all are.

Funniest_Memes_only-in-the-ghetto-will-you-find_7759Oh, and for the record, there’s a lot of stereotypically ghetto shit going on around here all the time too. Like the weekly ghetto cardio, i.e. some random guy running down my street being chased by the police. The random shopping cart that occupies parking space #210. And the tumbleweave that’s been in the grass across from our garage for going on two months now. And we live in the *nice* area of town.

The Elf On the Shelf Returned For Easter At Our House, Because I Can’t Parent

i-would-throw-in-the-towel-but-then-id-have-more-laundry-to-do-a4a4aI’ll be the first to admit that when times get tough, I throw in the towel. I don’t mean literally. I don’t – like – leave and return a week later after a blur of booze, parties, and memories I pray were just nightmares.

I mean – like – I just give up. Mostly at being a parent.

It doesn’t usually last long. Typically an hour. Two, tops. Or it’ll last for an event.

Maybe the appropriate phrase is I give in.

Recently, my husband was working at a different company for a little over a month. Basically, his company hired him out for the duration of that period to do a particular project, in hopes it will bring the show he worked on to his facility later on down the line.

Blah blah more film industry jargon blah blah reality TV blah blah.

None of that meant a thing to me, beyond the bottom line: longer hours, longer commute, more overtime. Or, in short: Heather you’re a single mom for a while.

At first things went pretty smoothly. We worked through the upsettedness that Dad wouldn’t be home for bedtime some nights. He took a day off to compensate for the fact that he would be gone on Valentine’s Day.

And then, the hiccup. This is always what happens when he goes through a busy period at work: everything goes great until one thing goes wrong, and in an instant all hell has broken loose in our house. I become that mom that hides in the closet eating candy bars to calm herself before emerging back into the trenches. And, speaking of the house, it becomes such a disaster that people have to literally climb over piles of laundry (who knows whether they are clean or not?) to get to the bathroom.

From the time the hiccup happens, until my husband’s busy period at work is over, it isn’t pretty to be around any of us.

The hiccup this time happened about a week in; suddenly, and without warning, I threw in the towel without even realizing it.

“Can I have an entire sleeve of Thin Mints?”

Sure, why not.

“Can homeschooling today just be playing with Barbies?”

I’m sure that could be educational in some circles.

“Can we push bedtime back to oh say 2 am?”

By all means!

It isn’t that I depend on my husband, necessarily, to be the parent around here. I mean, really. He’s the most stereotypically aloof dad-figure out there; if we had $1 every time the phrase “go ask your mother” comes out of his mouth on a regular basis, we’d have the money to hire a nanny to do the parenting I don’t do every time I throw in the towel.

Nonetheless, he provides me with the back up I desperately need.

So upon coming to the realization that I had thrown in the towel so soon this time, I knew that something had to be done. Something drastic.

Something as drastic as Christmas.

Christmas is when kids are at their absolute best. Whether they believe in Santa Claus anymore or not, they know that good behavior around Christmas is rewarded with more presents under the tree.

It’s the law of the land, as far as childhood is concerned.

A few years ago, we started reinforcing the idea of the fat guy in the red suit putting you on the naughty or nice list with the Elf on the Shelf. It wasn’t that we necessarily agreed with doing the elf, and her subsequent elf friend – the reindeer; it’s that everyone else is doing it, why aren’t we?

And I will be the first to unashamedly admit that the elf has done even more than Santa Claus ever did for good behavior.

But as much as I can tend to be a Pinterest Mom (in between severe bouts of laziness), there was a cold chance in hell I’d be staging any kind of second Christmas around here. What would that even mean? How would I even justify that?

Then I realized that there already is a second Christmas, and it was already well on its way at that point.

Easter.

So in my genius, just a little over a week into my husband’s busy time at work, a lightbulb went off over my sugary, candy-coated, closet-hidden mush of a brain:

The Elf on the Motherflippin’ Shelf will come back as the Easter bunny’s helper.

Pic1

Pic4

The Elf on the Shelf and her reindeer were sent by Santa to help the Easter bunny keep an eye on things, and to make sure kids are not only good and deserved of their Easter treats, but to make sure they understand the meaning of Easter. Brilliant, right? The lies have grown so deep in this house now, I don’t even know what’s true anymore. And I don’t care, because everything went back to normal as soon as Jem and her pet reindeer, The Hologram, returned. I also feel more as though we’ve gotten our money out of The Elf on the Shelf, and all it’s accompanying purchases. I mean, the tradition will only last so long before everyone decides to cut the bullshit on the whole thing. At least this way we’ve gotten more use out of it.

Anything to make myself feel less pathetic for needing a toy to provide discipline in my own house.

Pic2

On the positive of this entire endeavor, things have gotten better.

There have been no more requests to eat an entire sleeve of Thin Mints in one sitting.

No more suggestions that homeschooling consist of playing with Barbies all day.

Bedtime went back to its normal (already too late) time.

Pic3

So The Elf on the Shelf returned for Easter at our house, because I can’t parent. I’m sure worse things have happened; more egregious parenting faux pas have been committed. The end result is a happy, functional household; and a less-crazy mom. I make a terrible single mother. I’m OK with admitting that I need help restoring order around here.

Even if it’s from a stuffed Christmas toy that I glued bunny ears to.

Pic5

The Next Stage

10616161_791205745733_6681853197444697170_nI was at Barnes and Noble yesterday. I know what you’re all thinking – but wait, we thought you hated going anywhere during the holidays! Well, I do. But I had to go to Barnes and Noble to get what was apparently the last, mangled copy of the map of the world in all of Southern California. To finish a Christmas present I had been stalling since I finished all the rest of the shopping back in October.

So I was at Barnes and Noble and it was a mob scene. A mob scene at 1 in the afternoon on a Tuesday, which sort of makes me question whether or not anyone in my community works to be able to afford to spend so much money at the local Barnes and Noble. I mean, shouldn’t all of those people have been at work?

Nonetheless, I got my map and several other things I absolutely did not go to Barnes and Noble for, and headed to the check out line for the most miserable 45 minutes of my life. Towards the end, as I was close enough to the cash register to make eye contact with the employees as three of them aimlessly wandered around behind the register station, pretending to do something else, while one, lone cashier checked out the seven billion customers – when I was that close, I heard someone behind me approach people further back in the line. “Oh my God, we haven’t seen you guys in YEARS!” she shrieked as though they were – quite literally – separated still by miles, and then they started the old game of catch up that in a nutshell involved platitudes and niceties.

As if this experience could not have gotten any worse, these were the final moments of my time in line yesterday at my local, overcrowded Barnes and Noble.

Then it happened. Right as I was starting to walk up to the cashier, I heard one of the catcher-uppers say “and Joanie will be coming home from college for Christmas break tomorrow!” And in that little statement, made by a complete stranger and completely irrelevant to my life, I was hit with the striking realization that I probably should have made several years ago. Somewhere around the time I left graduate school five years ago, maybe earlier than that.

I will never go home from college for Christmas break again.

As I drove home – another 45 minute task, because every person with a car in Southern California apparently drives around and clogs up traffic on Tuesday afternoons as well – I realized just how many stages of my life are over. I’ve never really come to terms with this, or thought about it so seriously. Accepted it into my heart and soul that there are chapters of my life so fully completed that they have been burned up, never to be read again. At least by me.

Not only will I never go home from college for Christmas break again; I will never experience the butterflies of a first date. I will never have that “new mom” feel again, just as the thrills of skipping class to hang out at the local McDonalds with the other high school seniors are gone forever.

Admittedly, I have noticed signs of the ushering in of this next era of life. But have I never noticed before when one door closed and a new one opened? I don’t believe so. At least I don’t remember noticing the passing of time in the same way that I did yesterday.

The signs have been there, though.

A few weeks ago, I realized that I rarely wear make up anymore, unless of course we’re going somewhere. And even then I find a way to justify wearing none. Or just some mascara.

My outfits used to be coordinated perfectly – I’m not even sure why. I’ve never cared much for what people think of me, and yet my underpants always matched my belt. In this new stage of life, though, it’s all yoga pants, mom jeans, and stretchies. Tucked into slippers that could pass for moccasins. Paired with a tank top that has a bra in it.

I noticed this about a month ago when I was at the mall and realized that I can’t remember the last time I wore a Victoria’s Secret bra.

Someone at a family party a while back was talking about going to a bar and out to play pool, and actually planning to get home around 3 in the morning. I remember thinking – in earnest – to myself that nothing good ever happens after midnight, which is something my grandmother used to say.

I felt so disgusted at the idea of doing anything other than watching Netflix and reading a book, that I immediately looked for an excuse for us to go home and do just that.

More importantly, while I definitely have memories involving college and high school and growing up and going out, I still can’t remember what my life was like before becoming a mom. I actually have no idea what I was doing with my time.  And I don’t mean to sound diminishing to those that aren’t mothers, or to sound so cliche. But really in this new stage of my life, being a mom is not only my job but who I have become.

I’m a wife and mom. That’s about it.

I feel so ordinary, and there was a time in my life when to be ordinary would have been like spiritual death. But that time is over and I am fine with my new chapter in life. In fact, I have never been happier.

When I was younger, I wanted to make something of myself. Be something – be someone. But I think I had a very skewed idea of what it was to be someone. Rather than be known or famous or a published author or an accomplished painter, or someone everyone knows and writes about in history books and is remembered for generations to come… being someone really just meant being myself.

EcardTalents

In this new stage I am myself, and very few people know me. I’ve accomplished very little and have many talents. Not one of them results in a paycheck and that’s totally cool. I don’t wear make up often, and prefer comfortable moccasin-style slippers over high heels, even when high heels are the status quo.

And when it is my turn to run into people at the local Barnes and Noble that I haven’t seen in ages, my most exciting update on what I’m doing with myself and my life will be simply that I’m a wife and a mom. Some may find that meaningless or boring, but that’s what I’m doing, and it’s the most Me I’ve been in years.

WWRWD? (What Would Robin Williams Do?)

robinwilliamsgenie2

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?

 

I Have Another Baby, and This One Is My Favorite

10471266_754622653543_1511210079449926239_n

If you are a close and personal friend, or you follow me on any number of my social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest – I’m a bit of an Internet whore), then you know I got a dog roughly two months ago. You would know this because my dog is basically all I’ve talked and posted about since bringing her home from the shelter.

I’m like a new parent. You know them, maybe you are one of them. Constant talking about your new baby. Every discussion leads back to your philosophies as a parent. Suddenly you are an expert at everything related to babies and kids, and by the way you are also the first person on the planet – apparently – to have one. At least thirty Instagram photos of the precious, new baby daily.

Only with me (this time), all this stuff is happening over a dog.

Today when the worm head from her tape worm finally came out as she shat in the living room, because she’s a puppy and completely un-potty trained; as I inspected the worm head in both horror and intrigue, I even considered posting a photo of it to Facebook. You know, to get back at all my friends that share photographs of dirty baby diapers, and exploding baby butts. Or because I was proud. Also because I wanted to discuss the efficacy of our deworming pill of choice.

You see what I mean?

1797629_743115439093_1755179033319100415_nWhen I say I have a new dog, and by that we’re talking about a puppy; I mean I feel like I have a new baby, as I said as though I’m a new parent. This creature; this new entity; my newest little-bitty baby is my favorite of all the people in our house that I am responsible for. This includes, but is not limited to, my husband.

You know kids always ask their parents “who is your favorite,” and you’re supposed to say “I love you equally,” or “you’re all my favorite?” None of that bullshit here. My favorite is the dog.

Everyone’s just going to have to wrap their heads around it, because that shit is not going to change.

Here are some details to help you understand how I came to this conclusion:

She’s about one. She’s a shelter dog – because really, who buys bred dogs anymore? – and she was likely attacked before being brought to the shelter, as evidenced by her utter fear and terror of other dogs. So basically she’s a new baby. A needy, new baby.

I’m a big needer of others in need.

oh-you-breed-dogs-i-didnt-know-there-was-a-shortage-3c5bc

We named her Melia. It’s short for Amelia Earhart, the pilot. I am the only one allowed to refer to her as Amelia.

When she came home from the shelter, she basically sat on my lap and slept the entire first two days. Shelters can be pretty exhausting, and she seemed to be really overwhelmed; so for two days she slept on my lap. I even considered buying a baby carrier so I could get some shit done.

Maybe this was a ploy to wrap me around her little paw. If so, it worked.

When we take her out, she always comes in smelling like oregano and rosemary. There are no oregano or rosemary plants outside, and the bushes don’t smell like anything particular. But somehow, it happens every time.

Those happen to be my two, favorite seasonings.

I bought her a bed for every room in the house. That way she’d have a place wherever she was comfortable – I mean, our house is pretty big, and I didn’t want her to feel as though she was left alone. So she got three beds.

And yet she sleeps in my bed. Either under the covers at the foot, or on my husband’s stomach. It’s something he’s learned to deal with.

1904248_750944434723_343723457368307545_n

Melia is a Norfolk Terrier, so she’s pretty tiny. She weighs about 8 pounds, and I say “about” because she’s filled out since we first brought her home. So she may be more. This might be a good time to mention that I make her dog food from scratch. Every two or three weeks, a big batch goes in the crockpot and is frozen in separate baggies.

10474284_747818229663_4030891692269052227_n

I am that pet parent.

Above everything, though, she is a very good dog. She listens and is obedient. She comes with me just about everywhere, and is polite and quiet. She rarely barks. She never bites, unless she’s trying to play which is a nip and she’s just about beyond that.

In fact, the only nipping she does anymore is when she bites me in the ass to try and get me to play with her. Literally. In my ass. She might be trying to tell me something, though…

So basically: besides the biting my in my ass thing, she’s much nicer to me than everyone else in this family.

10473115_750085740553_243068384676887694_nWhy Amelia is my favorite of all these people around here, though, is that she – as is the case with many other dogs  – seems to be more in touch with human emotions than even some humans are. When I am happy, she plays. When I am sad, she sits on my lap and doesn’t leave my side. If I am in need of snuggles because I had a bad day, she just so happens to nuzzle her wet nose in my neck, falling asleep like an actual, little baby.

My husband never nuzzles his wet nose in my neck when I’ve had a bad day.

Perhaps it is just a coincidence, or – again – nothing more than a dog manipulation device. Inside her tiny, quiet, little head she’s calculating just how far she needs to go to get exactly what she wants. How to get me in the palm of her paw, permanently. Some people would argue that. I, on the other hand, can’t fathom such a thought.