My only goal

The only thing I want out of the next eight days is to make it through them without some sort of catastrophic meltdown. I will figure out what to do next after a meltdown is averted, depending on how the election goes.

That’s all I’ve got right now. I just got very mildly corrected on Twitter, incorrectly, and I’m pretty sure the burst of incandescent rage that it triggered could have powered the house for a couple of hours. I managed to not retaliate inappropriately but that’s all I’ve got in. me right now. I am going to try and disconnect and read comic books for a bit.

Puppies and flowers, goddammit.

Calling all cosplayers

This has been a surprisingly productive Sunday– I need to do some lesson planning, but all of my grading and tomorrow’s lesson are set, we went outside and finished off the rest of the huge pile of sticks from a couple of weeks ago, and I’m writing a blog post right now, so I don’t really have much to do other than play video games and read for the rest of the night, which I figure is the right way to end a Sunday night.

We went out and got the boy’s Halloween costume yesterday, as I said. He’s dressing as a giant chicken, for some reason. The costume is hilarious but I would never have guessed that he’d have picked it. As I’ve said, I traditionally dress up and pass out candy in the driveway, because we’ve always had either escape-adjacent or doorbell-hating pets, and frankly I can do without hearing the Goddamn thing all night myself. I have a go-to costume, but I wanted to do something different this year.

And thinking about my son’s inflatable chicken costume got me thinking that an adult Oogie Boogie costume was probably something that existed out there in the world. And then I looked for one, and discovered that they do exist, but they’re either crappy or expensive, and it is also somehow possible that a costume of a dude who is literally a burlap sack filled with worms might not fit me.

Then I thought that it might be fun to wear my Santa suit while passing out Halloween candy, only that idea got shot down because there is a good chance as young as our Trick-or-Treaters get that some of them will want to hug me, and I’m not down with hugging strangers right now, nor am I interested in putting parents in the position of explaining to their kids why they aren’t allowed to hug Santa.

So now I’m all like … burlap’s cheap. It’s not like the pattern is going to be complicated. The trickiest part’s the mask, and that can’t be that hard. Use black wool for the stitches, and they can be wide as hell and sloppy and it’ll still look just fine. He’s literally a burlap bag. There are just not that many ways you can fuck that up!

Somebody talk me out of this, please. There’s less than a week until Halloween so all I have to do is go a few days without ordering the burlap and inertia will take care of the rest.

Forget it, Jake, it’s 2020

Enjoy the pretty flower; it’s likely to be the only pleasant thing in this post.

We went out and bought pumpkins and got the boy’s Halloween costume earlier today, and at some point during the trip I sighed, and my wife asked me why. My answer was that she should assume that if at any point between now and, oh, two or three weeks from now, she hears me sigh, it’s because I’m under an absolutely immense amount of stress basically all the time and I’m trying to discharge some of that.

Not that that’s specific to me, mind you; we’re all neck-deep in bullshit right now. We went to Target after the pumpkins because the boy needed new shoes and I got an email from a student apologizing for not turning in any work this week. She’d been in a mental hospital.

I wrote her back and told her she was to do none of the work for my class. I’m going to exempt her from everything she’s missed. I absolutely refuse to let my class be another source of stress for this kid. She doesn’t need it.

(Incidentally, I tweeted out this article about teaching and learning in 2020 earlier today, and I endorse every word of it.)

Meanwhile, I’m trying to decide how vocal I want to be about calling upon a school board member to resign. If you remember my 2020 endorsements post, you may recall a tepid endorsement of current board member Leslie Wesley, who I don’t actually get to vote for or against because she doesn’t represent my district. I was, at the time, less encouraging a vote for her than a vote against her opponent, who is, to put it mildly, a local crank.

Unfortunately, Ms. Wesley got busted today for plagiarizing her candidate statement to the South Bend Tribune more or less in its entirety, basically just changing the city and district names of a 2018 California school board candidate’s essay. She first claimed that she’d written the piece in 2016 and actually accused the other woman of having plagiarized her, then switched her story to blaming a staffer, because people who run for school board need staff members.

Sure.

This is one of those situations where the initial situation is bad and then the lying about the initial situation just makes it even worse; her insistence in that article that nobody running for office ever writes their own articles is horseshit, because she’s not running for President, she’s running for fucking school board, and the initial suggestion that she’d simply just dusted off a statement from four years ago and reused it and slandering the stranger who got dragged into this against her own will is obscene.

There was also apparently a bunch of inflammatory bullshit on Facebook when this initially came out, all of which has been deleted, but including this charmingly inexplicable comment:

Hell, even if she’d written the statement in its entirety this year, any statement by a school board member trying to be reelected to office this year that never once mentions Covid, further not discussing the fact that she voted twice to return us to school, is not acceptable.

She needs to go. I would rather have a crank on the board than a shitty liar, and she’s a shitty liar even if she’s not a plagiarist. Fuck her. She needs to resign, to hell with the election.

So I gotta decide what I’m going to do about that. I considered using her picture on this post and decided against it; I thought about using her name in the headline and decided against that. I’m on Facebook under Luther’s name, not my real one. And my audience here isn’t as locally concentrated as one might thing, because my friends and family are all over the place.

(I wonder if WordPress has a way to do state-by-state traffic tracking? That might be interesting.)

At any rate, I can use my Big Platform, which probably isn’t as Big as I need it to be given how hyper-specific this issue is, or I can begin raising hell on my own, using my real name. It’s not like I haven’t gotten into the habit of emailing the entire board and the superintendent whenever the mood strikes me.

(Some Board members have replied to every message. The superintendent has replied to every message. Several Board members have replied to at least one. I have never heard a single word back from Ms. Wesley. Perhaps she doesn’t have a staffer to check her mail for her.)

Anyway, I gotta think about this. But if you are local, and especially if you’re in the third district for the School Board race, be aware of this, and if you haven’t voted yet, please vote accordingly.

On pronouns

My pronouns are he/him/his. This should not come as a surprise to anyone as I suspect my identity as a cis male is fairly obvious, at least to anyone who notices the traditionally male name affixed to the site, and certainly to anyone who has ever seen me in person. There was a time when my hair was long, curly, and glorious, and I was addressed as “ma’am” once or twice in public in my college years only to have the person hastily correct themselves upon seeing what the front of my head looks like.

To be clear, I think normalizing making your pronouns explicit even if you’re cisgendered is a good thing. At least two of my online profiles (Twitter and TikTok) contain them, and I do my best to call people what they want me to call them. There have been times where I’ve had to discreetly inquire of a third party what someone’s pronouns were, and I’ve had students recently who either wanted to be they/them or were out as trans, at least in my classroom. Those types of kids are the exact reason I do stuff like this. I feel like it’s the right thing to do.

I’m not going to review Dr. Meera Shah’s You’re the Only One I’ve Told: The Stories Behind Abortion, or at least not beyond this paragraph, and the reason is that you already know everything you need to know about the book from the title, including whether you want to read it. It’s not a bad book by any means, but it’s also not really surprising in any way.

Well, okay, the way it handles pronouns is kinda strange, and I wanted to talk about that a little bit. Now, this is a book about abortion, so you won’t be surprised to learn that the subjects of nearly every chapter are people who can get pregnant, and nearly all of those are cisgendered women. One chapter focuses on a cis man, whose name is Mateo, and that chapter focuses on the effect that abortion can have on the partners of the people who get abortions. One subject identifies as genderqueer and is they/them.

Every single chapter is titled with the name of the main subject of the chapter, with their pronouns, italicized, in a smaller font, and in parentheses, below the person’s name, along with the word “Pronouns”. So, like this:

BEATRICE

(Pronouns: She/her/hers)

Also, when other individuals are introduced throughout the text, their pronouns are also provided immediately after their name is first used– but oddly inconsistently, as it’s not used for everyone. (I swear that Dr. Shah directly addresses her rationale for this at some point in the book, but I can’t find it, and it doesn’t appear to be in the introduction, which is the most obvious place.)

At any rate, that’s what triggered the post: because for some reason this became distracting as hell over the course of the book, and I wanted to kind of talk it out and see if anybody pushed back at me. Putting your pronouns on a profile (or, as I did at a con once, on a sticker that you’re wearing) has the advantage of letting strangers know how to refer to you. Again, sometimes it’s more obvious than others– no one is going to look at me and call me “she” unless explicitly told to– but I get why it’s a thing and I participate in it.

This book does things like this:

When I spoke to Dr. Hoobity (Pronouns: she/her/hers), she told me that…

Not a direct quote, but stuff like that happens all the time– an explicit listing of the person’s personal pronouns, annoyingly including the word “pronouns,” immediately followed by a use of one of those pronouns. That risk of confusion or causing inadvertent offense just isn’t present when you’re writing about someone, because you’re going to use pronouns all the time. It’s hard to write about people without using pronouns, and in a book that is about people who can get pregnant it becomes even more ridiculous because nearly everyone identifies as she/her. Even the genderqueer person’s pronouns are explicit nearly immediately; the first use of singular they made it clear very quickly, and they talked about being genderqueer in the chapter. I was fully expecting (and would have been interested to read) a chapter at some point about a trans male’s experience with pregnancy and abortion, but it never happened. The one chapter about a person identifying as male is Mateo’s, and he’s cis, and his chapter is basically about cis men.

It didn’t ruin the book or anything like that, don’t get me wrong, but it was distracting enough that, well, I wrote the post about pronouns instead of about the actual book. Am I off-base here, or do other people feel like this would be distracting for them as well?

In which I am dead

Parent/Teacher conferences tonight, for two and a half hours. I am … less psyched about the rest of my evening than I might be.