An email I didn’t send

Dear Sir and/or Madam:

I have received your email communication of Jul 27th, and it did indeed find me well, at least for a moment, until the subject of your message sunk in and I found my previous wellness replaced with a bone-deep, nearly painful level of exhaustion. While in principle I do agree that we will be working together this year and that we should discuss such things as the curriculum we will be teaching, I feel compelled to remind you that it remains July for several more days yet, and that furthermore it is also somehow still March, and that at the moment I find myself entirely unable to do anything so civilized as “plan” for any so-called “future.” At the moment I barely even believe tomorrow is happening. Three weeks from now is literally unimaginable, and yes, I know what both of those words mean and I assure you I am using them accurately.

Furthermore, I have stalked you on Facebook and you look like a cop, and while I admit and agree that forming an early impression of someone by such means is manifestly unfair, doing so has not led to the cessation of one single bit of my current level of exhaustion. In addition, your use of “your new partner in math” as the closure to your email is unnecessarily precious when a simple “yours,” or perhaps the somewhat archaic but at least moderately humorous “Your obdt. servant” would have sufficed.

In conclusion, please do not expect a response to your query prior to the 3rd August, and later than that is a strong possibility. Responses to this message will be deleted unread, and I swear to God and baby Jesus that if you email my ass just to say “Okay!” or “Thanks!” I will kill myself on the spot and haunt the dog shit out of you and your descendants unto the 4th generation.

I remain,

L.M. Siler

Etiquette question re: that interview

courtesy-writerattheranch-thiswritinglife.blogspot.com_.jpgPutting this in a separate post instead of as an addendum because more people will notice it that way: I don’t have an email address for anyone at the place I interviewed at this morning, because the guy I interviewed with contacted me by phone yesterday and there isn’t contact information for individuals (just an email form that isn’t geared to personal messages) on their website.

OK to call the receptionist and ask for that information so I can send the post-interview thank-you note?  Or is the PITYN overrated anyway and not worth worrying about?

And, like, if I call and the boss answers the phone, because I get the feeling he does that from time to time, do I just, like, die of shame on the spot, or hang up the phone and run away and change my name and move to Nepal, or…?

#FeministFriday: Advice for #NotAllMen on How to Occasionally be Less of an Asshole

shut_up__listen_and_learn_by_cdckey-d4afs9aA couple of weeks ago I was at the doctor’s office.  They have a receptionist who is, oh, I dunno, in her mid-twenties and generally fairly lovely.

Since the last time I was in there (I’ve been spending my share of time at the doctor’s office lately) she’d dyed her hair grey.  I’ve come to understand that that’s becoming a thing.  If so, I approve.

As I was waiting, an elderly woman emerged from her appointment and engaged this young lady in conversation about her hair.  She was quite complimentary about it.

Damn right, I thought.  The grey hair looked great on her.

And I didn’t say a word about it to anyone.

Why?

Here is a rule for men who want to be either better people or better feminists, and frequently I have found that those two goals overlap:  practice the fine art of keeping your opinion to yourself a bit more often.  You will be surprised at how much it helps!  And, here’s the awesome part: never once will keeping your trap shut about your opinion on a stranger’s appearance be harmful.  Not once!  Not ever!

Is it entirely possible that me telling this young woman (a good fifteen years younger than me, if undeniably an adult, so I think I can get away with that title) would have made her feel good for a few moments?  Sure!  Sometimes people like getting compliments from strangers.  This is true!

It is also possible that at work is not a place where she’s particularly interested in getting opinions from strange men on her decisions about her hair.  Is this gender-specific?  Not necessarily.  While she was gracious to the old lady, she could have been gritting her teeth on the inside.  It’s possible that the old lady was the 44th person that day to tell her she liked her hair and it was getting aggravating.  (True story!  I once snapped at someone for saying Happy Birthday to me, because I’d heard it so many times that day it was starting to sound like an insult.)

Simple fact, dude: She doesn’t need your opinion on her hair.  She didn’t need my opinion on her hair.  She’s at work.  She’s not very much in the be complimented by fat bald married men on her hair zone.  There are literally no circumstances under which I would tell, say, the male nurse, or the dude sitting across from me in the waiting room, that I liked his hair.  So there should also be literally no circumstances under which I tell the female receptionist my opinion on her body.

But I don’t mean to be creepy!  I just want to give her a compliment!

Doesn’t matter, shut up.  A thing I tell my students on a fairly regular basis: your opinion is not necessary here.  Similarly, it is virtually never the case that my opinion is necessary on someone’s appearance, even if that opinion is a positive one.  If there’s even a tiny chance that me talking to her about her appearance is going to make her uncomfortable– and there is way more than a tiny chance of that— then I need to keep my opinion to myself.

But how do I get to know people if I don’t approach them in public, you ask?

Maybe go to places where people meet each other.  I hear good things about parties and clubs and bars.  There are probably other places, too!  But here’s the thing: even in those places, maybe you don’t start with the body talk?  Find something else about the person other than their body to start the conversation with, if you can.  You never know!  It might work out!

She’s at work.  Leave her the hell alone.


16b138fIt is, in fact, rather astonishing how often the “Shut Up” rule works well for men when dealing with feminist issues.  I know, guys: as men, and particularly as white men for those of us who are both, we’re used to society valuing our opinion– to the point where we’ve allowed ourselves to believe a conversation isn’t complete until we’ve weighed in on it.

Here is a thing that every woman alive knows more about than every white man alive: being a woman.  Therefore: if a woman is discussing her experiences and her opinions about her own womanhood with or (especially) near you, it is probably best if you shut the hell up and listen.  This is particularly true if you disagree with her.  If she tells you someone catcalls her every time she leaves the house, and you were with her one time and nobody catcalled, maybe you keep your mouth shut about that.  Because you know what?  Other dudes saw her with a dude.  Which means she was already owned by somebody.  And they kept their mouths shut, because that one was taken.

She. Knows. Better. Than. You. About. Being. A. Woman.

What, you’ve never catcalled a woman?  Have a cookie; hopefully you can bake them on your own.  Shut up anyway.

Are there women who like having things shouted at them by random men?  Sure.  There are also people who think voting for Ben Carson is a good idea.  There’s lots of crazy ideas out there.  But we’re talking about your behavior here, and unless the woman is wearing a sign saying “PLEASE TELL ME HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT MY CLOTHES AND BODY” you probably ought to assume that she’s not interested in what you have to say.  Note that wearing revealing clothing is not the same thing as wearing a sign inviting comment.

Dude, all these goddamn rules.  How the hell do I even talk to women anymore?  Feminists are so fucking touchy!

Pretend she’s a dude.  If you wouldn’t say anything to a dude under that circumstance, chances are you probably shouldn’t say it to her.  You ever walked past a guy on the street and told him he should smile once in a while?  No?

Don’t say it to women.

There’s nothing new in this post at all, by the way.  If you happen to be reading it and nodding your head and thinking shit, this makes some sense, you probably should have been listening to women, because they’ve said this to you before– they’ve said it to all of us— and you didn’t listen.  You’ve never seen my cock, I promise, so I have no idea why it makes the stuff I say more worthy of attention than it would be if someone without one had said it, but unfortunately that’s how it works in American society right now.

So, yeah.  Shut up.

Okay so we’ve gotta fight now I guess.

HatfieldClanHere are the rules of Raking Leaves.  Well, the Rule of Raking Leaves, because there’s really only the one rule: you are responsible for the leaves in your yard, period.  The location of the tree does not matter, because leaves blow.  We raked leaves last Saturday.  There were leaves in my yard from oak trees, and I don’t even know where the nearest oak tree is.  Nevertheless, because I am a Good Neighbor, and because the two trees in the front yard I share with my immediate neighbor (in the sense that they but up against each other with no fence as a divider; it’s one big chunk of grass) are both in my lawn, I did my best to blow as many of “his” leaves as I could into our pile.  The majority of them fell off of my tree.  I use an electric leaf blower, and if you had looked right after we did it you could pretty neatly delineate exactly how far my cord let me get into his yard, because those areas were bare of leaves.

My neighbor’s wife and son are outside right now, blowing leaves.  They (or, rather, she, because their son is in a different part of the yard) are blowing the leaves not to the foot of the lawn, where the city can pick them up, but into my yard.  Where the wind is just gonna blow them right the fuck back into their lawn.  And I’m, like, right here, in my living room, and I can see her doing it, because the tree is right outside my living room window.  Plus the city came by and sucked up leaves today, so they won’t be here for at least a week and this is a pointless endeavor right now anyway because there are literally probably still a million leaves on that tree that haven’t fallen yet.

I do not understand people.

On peeing: a brief, stupid anecdote

urinal-selection-e1370199138698

And lo, it came to be that at the Answering of the Trivia, in the Land of the Snow People, I did after a Drynke of cool Water, feel the need to void my bladder.

Man thing: there are rules about urinals.  Some men– they are evil, and shunned by proper society– ignore these rules.  Most of us do not.  

I walked into the men’s room at the Fraternal Order of Police bingo hall to be greeted with the following:  four urinals, only the rightmost of which was guarded by the civilization-preserving little metal wall, and two stalls, one of which was a wheelchair accessible stall and was unoccupied.  The situation at the urinals was unacceptable; I went into the stall.

Now, let’s make this as clear as possible: I needed to pee.  

I discovered quickly that the reason that the door was hanging open was that the latch on the door was broken.  I could not, in fact, actually close the door and latch it.  I fiddled with it for a minute, pushed it shut, and figured “screw it” and went to pee.  Got as far as unzipping my pants.

And felt, rather than heard, the door slowly swinging open behind me.  And discovered something: while one would think that peeing in an enclosed area would be preferable to peeing at a urinal, particularly when said urinals are the unacceptable, barbarous bowl-stuck-to-the-wall type and not proper stand-up urinals, thus making only one of the four actually usable (the one with the privacy screen), it was in fact much much worse to be peeing in a stall where there was a very good chance that at any second someone could see the door, assume that it was unoccupied, and barge into the stall with me.  

I zipped up, left the stall, discovered that the single privacy-shielded urinal was available, and used that instead.

Feel free to revel in what a dumbass I am.(*)

(*) WordPress just corrected “dumbass,” which is a word that 1) is a word and 2) I use all the time, to “dumbs,” which is 1) not a word and 2) never used by anyone.  What the fuck?