On delayed gratification

My college hair was glorious.

My girlfriend in high school thought I would look better with longer hair, so I started growing it out during my senior year and basically never stopped.  By my senior year of college my hair was mid-back length and, amazingly, wavy as fuck— I was a Jewish Studies major among a couple other things and there was a running joke that I could easily pass for an orthodox Jew if I just tucked a couple of ringlets in front of my ears and put on a properly conservative hat.

I spent a good chunk of the summer after graduation on an archaeological dig in Israel, and decided just before leaving for the trip that heading out to dig in the desert with an extra fifteen pounds of hair on my head was not what I wanted to do.  So I went to a barber and had him trim me down to a “normal” haircut, which lasted about another year until I shaved my head for the first time and I’ve basically been doing that ever since.

But yeah.  That first haircut.  The first thing I had him do was pull my hair into a ponytail and then cut the ponytail off in one fell swoop.  I then, for no good reason other than that I thought it would be funny, mailed the ponytail to my mother, who had spent years occasionally politely hinting that perhaps my hair was a bit too long.

This backfired when my mother received a bundle of my hair in the mail and, despite the handwriting on the envelope being mine, immediately concluded that I had been kidnapped, and, this being pre-cellphone by a few years, wasn’t able to quickly get ahold of me to confirm that I was actually still alive and putting up with Samson joke after Samson joke after Samson joke from all of my fucking Religious Studies-ass friends.

She still has the ponytail.  This happened in 1998.

When I got home from work last night, there was a large envelope in the mail addressed to me.  I thought the handwriting on the envelope was my mom’s, but it was dark outside– we are well into the part of the year where I’m working from cain’t see in the morning to cain’t see at night– and the envelope didn’t appear to have anything in it, and I had just seen my mother the night before and she hadn’t mentioned mailing me anything, so what the fuck is going on here?

I generally open my mail in the garage going into the house, since the recycling bin is right there and I can trash all the junk mail before going inside.  Ten seconds later I was laughing so loud that my wife heard me from inside the house.

This may be a good time to point out that Mom’s going through a course of chemotherapy at the moment.  Don’t panic; she’s gonna be fine.  But this is what was in the envelope:

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That, my friends, is the final punchline to a twenty-year-old joke.

Nicely played, Mom.

#metoo and me

So a friend of mine, a friend who will likely see this, so it’s not as if it’s behind her back, posted this on Facebook the other day.  Forgive all the blurriness:

allofus

And here’s the thing: yeah.  It does.  It makes me uncomfortable.  The notion– a notion I believe without the remotest qualification, by the way– that literally every woman I know has experienced sexual harassment makes me profoundly uncomfortable.  Hell, uncomfortable’s not even the word, although it’s part of it.  There’s a fair degree of fucking rage in there too, for example.

And no, I didn’t “like” the post.  In fact if I have hit Like (I don’t use any of the other options, ever; don’t ask me why) on any posts associated with the #metoo hashtag, I don’t remember doing it– and I’m pretty certain there aren’t any.

I hit Like on her post and then deleted it.  Wrote a comment, and then deleted that too, and then spent the next couple of days fighting off this post.  The reason I haven’t interacted with any of these posts online isn’t because of some feeling of discomfort or shame, is the thing.  I haven’t because none of this is about me, and I feel like it’s pointless at best and empty virtue-signaling at worst for me to interact with a thing that isn’t supposed to be about me in specific or men in general.

So, yeah.  All of them.  #allofthem, if you prefer.


I’ve spent the last few days– longer than that, really, but it’s come to a head in the last few days– thinking a lot about my own actions as a cishet guy throughout my life.  And in a lot of ways I’ve been resisting the temptation to paint myself as one of the good guys.  I’ve never raped anyone, obviously.  (Is it obvious?  Probably flattering myself.)

But there was that one time, with that one woman, where she indicated her lack of consent to a certain action at the literal last possible moment, and it’s haunted me ever since.  When I say last possible moment, I’m not exaggerating, not by a millisecond or a fraction of an inch.  I didn’t go any further– of course I didn’t– but my first immediate visceral reaction was wait what the fuck are you kidding and I don’t know how much of that reaction got through to her.

I’ve never catcalled anyone, not once.  Never hassled a woman in a bar, never got angry with anyone because they wouldn’t give me a phone number or something like that.

(I have what I’m pretty sure is a funny story about accidentally approaching the wrong woman in a bar who I thought was one of my friends; maybe I’ll tell it sometime.  It’s not for this post.)

But I had years– years— where I bought into the idea of the friendzone, and where the idea of just telling a woman that I was interested in her and thought we should go out/make out/fuck each other senseless was pure anathema.  No, she (whichever she was at the time) was gonna figure it out sooner or later and fall into my arms.  I was a Nice Guy.  Sooner or later she’ll figure out that all the guys she dates are assholes and I’m right here, all not being an asshole and shit.

I can think of some moments, some interactions that make me cringe right now, honestly.  I’m pretty sure there were times when I was being creepy as fuck and didn’t even realize it.  There are others where I know I was being creepy as fuck and I regret the hell out of them.  Some of them probably involved the woman who originally triggered this post, honestly; we have a bit of history together, not all of which I’m proud of.

(True fact: the first time I kissed the woman who eventually married me, we were sitting at a table in a diner and I literally said “Let’s go make out in the parking lot,” and it worked.  Sooner or later I broke past the idea that doing nothing would get me somewhere.  That said, if that line doesn’t work?  Possible eew.)

I remember one time in high school when a bunch of us– too many to fit in the car– were all going somewhere, and one of the girls decided she was going to sit in my lap.  I put both my hands in my lap, palms-up.  She shrugged and did it anyway, probably knowing that having both hands on her ass would make me twice as uncomfortable as it was making her and that it wouldn’t last more than a moment, which it didn’t.

I still remember that.  I wonder if she does.

(I was gonna say “I’ve never groped anyone who didn’t want me to,” which is what reminded me of that story.)

I remember a week– one very, very weird week in middle school– where for some reason everyone, boys and girls, were all going around trying to yank each others’ shorts off.  By the end of the week everyone had their belts on so tight or their pants laced so tight that I suspect some of us were cutting off our circulation.  I was on both sides of that little game.  But I can’t say I’ve never tried to take anyone’s clothes off who didn’t want me to, either.  I still remember the two girls I targeted; I know one of them took a swipe at me at one point too, although I don’t know who was first.  I don’t remember what the other one thought about it.

(God, I’m glad my middle schoolers never had that bug hit.  I can’t imagine what the teachers were thinking.)


I don’t know that I have a single, overarching point to all this.  Okay, yeah, there’s obviously an element of the confessional here but that’s not the entire point.  I have contributed to this culture of rape and harassment, or at least participated in it, and the fact that I’ve learned (tried to learn) to be better in recent years doesn’t affect the facts of who I was and what I did, even if I can point to any number of men who were maybe worse.

You don’t stop rape, or sexual harassment, by controlling women.  You stop rape and sexual harassment by insisting that men learn to be better.  One of my most important jobs right now is to raise my son to be better than me.

Maybe men need a #metoo hashtag.  Or an #allofus hashtag, because right now, it is all of us.  We’ve all contributed to this.

Or maybe we could just stop, and fucking listen, which was what the point of the hashtag was in the first place, and try to learn to get better.

Maybe.

blech

Another night with nothing in particular worth talking about.  Really not sure if I should blame my job for not being very good at generating entertaining material or the general state of the world for being so fucking depressing that I don’t even have the energy to get mad about it.

(Or Twitter, which seems to be where 90% of my political nonsense has gone to roost.  I think I’d blog about politics a lot more if I didn’t have Twitter.  I leave it as a mental exercise for the reader as to whether that’s a good thing or not.)

Enjoy the few hours of weekend you have left, I suppose.  We’ve postponed the Great Pumpkinating until Wednesday because none of us are in the mood tonight.  Also, I need to practice drawing out the design I plan to use.  I’m hoping this one turns out really cool.

Some odds and ends and also swear words

crappy-dayIt’s been a depressing couple of weeks, honestly.  A bunch of things that haven’t managed to make their way into entire posts yet:

  • I didn’t get the job at my old district, which blows my goddamned mind.  Blows. My. Goddamned. Mind.  I’m trying to avoid, y’know, despair at this point.  I’ve applied for another job at Notre Dame; Notre Dame has already done a really good job of ignoring my applications in the past so I have no particular hope for this one.
  • There’s another local university, by the way, that I’ve sent several applications in to for various jobs, all of which I was very qualified for, that has literally never replied to a single application.  Not a no-thanks, not a fuck-you, not an interview offer, nothing.  I wanna know who the hell they’re hiring.
  • I read Hillary Clinton’s book.  I wasn’t going to at first until I realized how many assholes were enraged by the fact that the book existed and I enjoy being able to make even a tiny contribution to making that kind of person feel bad.  I can’t really say I enjoyed reading it, though, because the whole damn thing was so profoundly depressing.
  • Every time I come even close to writing a post about politics I start literally seeing red around the edges of my vision.  I thought I hated George W. Bush; I had no idea what it was like to hate a politician until this current piece of shit.  None.  I would name George W. Bush dictator-for-life in a second if it meant I never had to hear the current fucker’s name again for as long as I lived.
  • Fuck the NFL, while I’m at it, and fuck America for everything leading up to me having to say the words “Fuck the NFL” on my blog.  This current controversy is everything wrong with America in a nutshell.  And America as a country is as completely and enthusiastically fucked right now as it has been in my lifetime.
  • I’m stealing the phrasing of this from Twitter, I admit, but if we can’t get an overwhelming military presence to Puerto Rico immediately to put together some sort of hurricane response than we have no fucking reason to have a military at all. Trillions of fucking dollars a year and we may as well flush the shit down the toilet. The shitgibbon doesn’t care; Puerto Ricans aren’t white.  I doubt he knows they’re American citizens; I’m certain he doesn’t think they’re people.
  • Speaking of Hillary’s book: you may be aware that I previously had a point of pride that I had at least one book for or by every President of the United States.  I have now had to amend that to every legitimately elected President of the United States, and this is a picture of my Presidency bookshelf.  The book is located where it properly belongs:

FullSizeRender

  • Sales on Tales haven’t been remotely what I’ve wanted them to be so far, but I got a big stack of paperbacks this week for Kokomo-Con 2017 in a couple of weeks and that was pretty exciting.  I haven’t done a con in quite a while and this one is just a simple one-day thing a couple of hours south of my house.  I’m looking forward to it.
  • I need to decide what my next book is going to be.  I’m leaning toward knocking out the Skylights sequel finally but it may be something new.  We’ll see.
  • Speaking of big stacks of paperbacks: the Buy Autographed Books link in the masthead of the site has been completely updated.  I price the books cheaper than Amazon does but it probably evens out after shipping– but you get an autograph and a personalized copy, so bleah.
  • Speaking of the Amazon: consider this the part where I’m begging for reviews.  Please?  Pretty please?