Two ways to die

November 19th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Life - (0 Comments)

In which this just popped into my head.

There are two ways to die: suddenly, or expectedly. There are two ways to die: right now, or later. There are two ways to die: consciously, or unconsciously.

Because you ARE old?

November 11th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Admissions - (0 Comments)

In which I can’t believe this nitwit is the president.

Misspelled?!

Zero chemistry with Putin?!

Russia can greatly help?!

The dangerous North Korea crisis?!

Trump is an imbecile.

Veterans

November 11th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Introspection - (0 Comments)

In which I wonder.

It’s still fashionable to say things like this:

Veterans used to be those who went out and fought and suffered to protect human rights. It was clear you were on the right and proper side if you were a U.S. vet and fought in one of the world wars.

Now, they fight endless wars of politics and money. The modern vet, after a handful of tours in Iraq or Pakistan or Somalia or Mexico, probably hates hearing “thank you” when they didn’t protect anything but military meddling in foreign governments or corporate wealth.

Fighting for human rights is noble as fuck. Fighting to make some corporation — especially one that hides its money offshore to avoid paying the taxes that will take care of vets when (if) they get home — is not. It’s probably fucking awful, if you let yourself think about it.

War is not beautiful or noble. It’s so awful, in fact, that we have built an entire reality in order to persuade people to go out and die in wars. We have honor and nobility, sacrifice and struggle: all ideas. Concepts. Methods of convincing a heart to convince a brain to convince a body to do shit clearly antithetical to individual survival.

In war, you’re on one of two sides. The side of some fuck trying to take stuff, or the side of trying to keep some fuck from taking your stuff. If you’re the fuck trying to take stuff, which is us in most of our recent and ongoing conflicts, you’re increasing human suffering. You’re not fighting a good fight, you’re a cog in a profoundly ugly, terrible machine.

Suffering is not good. It’s bad. We used to thank vets for doing it to promote the increase of good in the world, but now, I’m not so sure.

Hormones, probably

November 6th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Admissions - (0 Comments)

In which I’m suddenly freezing!

I don’t know if it’s being old, being fat, being pre-menopausal, or what, but my body’s not very good at temperature regulation anymore.

I’m either way too hot or freezing; either opening windows and taking off socks and running fans, or layered up under a blanket.

Fun with embodiment, I guess.

It’s uncomfortable, but I remain grateful I don’t suffer chronic pain like so many others do.

The Dread

November 3rd, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Panic & Anxiety - (0 Comments)

In which there’s The Dread, aka my anxiety disorder.

Had anxiety pretty bad yesterday, and during the night.

Pretty anxious today, too.

I know I’ve said this before, but the problem with anxiety and panic is this:

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

In the same way, being deeply terrified that Something Is Wrong with your body and that you’re About To Die does not necessarily mean nothing’s wrong with your body or that you’re not about to die. THere is no law that says you can’t die — from other causes — while having a panic attack.

Which is why it’s so hard to tell yourself that you’re “just” having an attack.

Stupid brains.

In which I wrote this as a response to a friend’s post on Facebook and am re-posting it here because I can.

So my dear friend posted this link on her feed:

And I read it and wrote this response:

Well-written, sure, but would have been more powerful with actual examples of actual men in positions of power actually interrupting women lower down the chain, and more on How That’s A Demonstrably Bad Thing In The Long Run And Not Just Essentially Bad Manners.

The diner/server scenario, as the author explicitly states, is a pre-existing and well-understood dynamic that gives the diner social permission to override the server. The server is servile, that’s literally the job, and all parties know this before beginning the interaction. Not to mention that the dynamic is the same regardless of the sexes of the participants – a woman diner can railroad a male server with the same impunity.

So the diner/server example is an example, sure, but it’s a really bad one, because it doesn’t defend in any way the premise of the piece — which is that All Men Take Up Conversational Space Because They’re Men.

Some men are interrupting twats. Most aren’t. I’m not a man, and I’m totally an interrupting twat. In fact, I have been known not only to interrupt the shit out of people, but to abandon conversations I get bored of and literally walk away, both socially and at work. This is not because of the penis and male socialization I don’t have, it’s because I can be and have been an absolute creep sometimes, especially to those I deem to be less clever than myself. So it’s not about my dick, because I haven’t got one: it’s about me being a creep.

So I don’t think this is about sex (or, I suppose, I should say, “gender”). I think it’s about personality types. Like you said earlier, some people only respond to aggression. Others only respond to being sought out. This is more of a burnt down old introvert/extrovert thing than a boys versus girls thing.

Saying that All Men Are Dominating Assholes Until And Unless Some Bigger Asshole Is Dominating Them is over-simplifying human interactions just a lot too much to speak to my own experience. It’s not about sex/gender, it is about ego and power.

Telling men to be small doesn’t do shit toward teaching women how to expand their own selves, nor does it require women to spend time understanding male psyche or the human condition, which is what they apparently should be doing if they have this much processor power devoted to The Awful Experience Of Being Interrupted By People With Dicks.

Most men, like other people, respond extraordinarily well to shame; if you have a dude interrupting you at work all the time, call him out on it, publicly, and ask him why he’s acting like a boorish, uncivilized, hyper-ass childish little punk. If he’s not actually an idiot, he’ll conform to expectations, just like a woman.

Because men and women are far more alike than different. And experiencing social anxiety is not the same as being the victim of entrenched, systemic sexism.

And, not to put too fine a point on it, but the author apparently doesn’t mind being a rude bitch to her friends, but self-polices herself into paralysis at work. How is that the fault of All Men?

If only there were jobs.

October 27th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Soapbox - (0 Comments)

In which I respond to a Twitter thread I read earlier.

Everybody baggin’ on Millennials for still living at home, not earning, not taking all those jobs.

Well, fuck that.

I’m not a Millennial; I’ve been working for decades. I’m making now what I made when I started working in the early 90’s – my earnings have essentially been flat. A few times I earned well, but not for long, in short-term contract gigs.

The job market over the course of my working career has gotten worse and worse, and pays less and less.

I’ve done a lot of job hunting over the years, and here’s what’s out there these days:

Crap.

Utter, complete crap. Temporary jobs, temp-to-hire jobs, seasonal jobs, shitty hours, part-time without benefits, low paying, insecure, crap jobs that expect extremely overqualified applicants.

Nobody doing call center customer support for Fingerhut needs a bachelor’s degree, but that’s what their agencies ask for in the job listings. A degree or five years experience. For profoundly low-quality jobs.

I saw a posting here in Minneapolis just last week that wanted people, experienced technical people, to drive out to the suburbs (no public transportation available) to work three 10-hour days followed by a 6-hour day followed by a 4-hour day, with one weekend day required, in a call center for around twelve bucks an hour. Temporary position with “the possibility of full-time.”

That, friends, is a shit job, and yet it’s one of the good ones! Because at least you’re sitting down, and the hours are the same every week.

Want to know more about today’s job market? Go take one of the jobs that are left: work at one of the major retailers, like Walmart or Amazon or The Home Depot, why don’t you. They’ll hire you just a smidge under full-time (deliberately, so you don’t cost them any bennies), they’ll pay you ten or eleven bucks an hour, and your schedule will be randomly generated by a computer program so that you cannot plan anything more than two weeks in advance (so no second job, no school unless you’re a glutton for exhaustion).

And if all that isn’t bad enough, you’ll spend your 34 random hours a week at work not in an office but in an ugly, loud, artificial environment, pounding around on concrete floors, getting abused by both the customers you serve and idiotic, hostile corporate policies that remind you at every turn that you are just a cog, and a replaceable one at that.

Even if you’re a model employee, even if you’re wonderful and knowledgeable and charming and always on time and never sick and you internalize all the utterly dehumanizing, dollar-worshipping, sunshine-up-the-ass crap they train you with, eventually you’ll get let go.

You’ll break some hostile corporate rule (maybe you’ll be late three times within a 45-day period because your schedule’s random but you have to get your kid to school), or maybe you’ll get sick, or maybe you’ve been there so long you’re finally making actual money and they’ll remainder you so they can replace you with someone who doesn’t cost as much so they can funnel more money into some useless golf-obsessed asshole CEO’s bonus.

There is no such thing as employer loyalty to employees. Every employer works hard at designing jobs that require very little more than a pulse; jobs that virtually anybody can be plugged into. Big corporations pay their front line employees crap and keep entire dev teams to build shit software that intends to make those front line employees replaceable. They think they can put experience and knowledge and problem-solving into software, and replace the humans who use it, more or less at will.

This is why customer service sucks pretty much everywhere you go. Even the lowliest position requires human knowledge; if it didn’t, the job wouldn’t exist. And yet the person you’re talking to is inevitably new, because these jobs suck and there’s a lot of turnover, and, even if they’re not new, they’re completely unable to solve any problem not specifically covered by their job parameters.

In fact, the odds are, even if they’ve been there for a couple of years, they don’t even know anybody not on their own tier. Even big box retail store managers have very little access to solutions beyond refunds or coupons; the tools they use to do their jobs are built far away, by teams they’ve never even heard of let alone have access to. Lots of things just can’t be fixed, period. Fuck you.

Employers don’t care about employee expertise, they don’t care when somebody leaves and the entire store loses a valuable resource. To the typical employer these days, employees are all disposable.

Many jobs requiring certifications and degrees pay less than $15 an hour.

Many jobs are temporary.

Many jobs are scheduled randomly, which, believe me, has a massive impact on quality of life, because the employee’s sleep schedule is constantly impacted, and home and social life is skewed. Try spending three or five years working every single major holiday. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but for human mental health, it is.

Seriously, if you really think there’s any honor in taking a shit wage in a shit job to earn less than you need to survive, you’re an asshole. These jobs are not like the jobs you remember. They’re awful and dehumanizing. And employers do not care about their human resources; they care about shareholders.

The sorts of career-building positions that used to exist just don’t exist anymore. I mean, there are some, sure, but not like there used to be. The people who have them are incredibly fortunate to have banker’s hours, paid vacation, holidays, and decent wages. They get to stay in the middle class.

Everybody else is dropping into poverty.

You don’t start as a bank teller right out of college and then end up in management in your 40’s. Why? Because banks are websites now.

You don’t start as a grocery store cashier right out of college and then end up in distribution in your 40’s. Why? Because stores are giant corporations now, and they’ll never pay you enough to remain in the middle class.

Even teaching at the college level is crap; they’re all students or interns now, getting paid little to nothing to work 65 hour weeks.

Jobs these days are “alternative” – temp, freelance, contract, part-time. They don’t pay a decent wage (or often even a living wage), they don’t offer bennies, and they don’t last.

The idea that there are “tons of openings, but there aren’t people with the right education and experience to fill them” is bullshit. People who are educated and experienced don’t want to work crap jobs for $9 an hour; they shouldn’t have to. But they do. And you wonder why they’re nihilistic? THEY’RE POOR.

And when an entry-level job wants applicants with advanced degrees but can’t find them, that’s not actually evidence that people are under-qualified. It’s evidence that the job market is a disaster.

Employers are demanding the most qualified applicants in the pool because they can – that’s how tight the market is – not because they should. Robots and automation are killing what used to be decent, honorable jobs, but the people all still exist.

Earnings have been stagnant for thirty years. 94% of net US job growth 2005-2015 was “alternative” work, not the kinds of real jobs people had in the 80’s.

You wonder why Millennials aren’t marrying, having kids, buying houses, even buying cars? This is why. They’re not middle class anymore, they can’t earn middle class wages and do middle class things because the jobs just aren’t there.

With the middle class failing in the way that it is, Millennials these days are either the few lucky ones at the bottom of the upper class – like the ones who live around here (I live in Uptown) in one of the newly constructed and mind-blowingly expensive apartment towers with underground, heated parking, restaurants and gyms built-in – or they’re college-educated, debt-ridden poor with nothing but low-quality, no-future, low-paying temporary work.

Even EMTs make shit wages these days! The guy or girl who saved your fucking life after that heart attack or car crash wasn’t even making $15 an hour! For a high-stress job like that!

Kids these days aren’t lazy; a lot of them are educated and willing to work, and work hard, just like you did. If only there were jobs.

In which I was serially sexually abused as a child by a slightly older male relative.

So, yeah, #metoo. Me, too. My perpetrator even went to prison for it. (Not for me, but for others, later.)

I honestly don’t think it affected me in any measurable way. I was never hurt or damaged. For years I thought it must have affected me badly, because my culture tells me how horrible and awful it is to be touched sexually without consent, but now? At 49? Nah. I don’t see it.

And I looked for it, the awful traces of it, for years. I positively delved through my own psyche, looking for horrific damage, rage, frigidity, timidity. I don’t find it. Because being touched sexually is not like starving to death, or being wounded, or living in a war zone. It’s mostly just irritating, if I’m honest. Which I am.

This is how I ended it, finally: at, like, twelve or so, I decided it was fucking annoying, so I brandished a pair of scissors at him, and told him to fuck off. And that was that. Because he was horny and stupid, but not violent. Which of course makes me lucky. I get that.

There are at least two experiences I had as a young woman that I could, if I wished, call rape. But I don’t. I was never violently jumped by strangers; the experiences I could name rape, if I were a different person, were ones I’d entered into through choices I’d made myself, and I take responsibility for that. I put myself there. That’s the price of sexual freedom.

Now. What’s making me sad about this fucking hashtag is that this is, again, some sort of women’s movement, not a human movement.

What about the thousands upon thousands of men and boys who have also been abused, assaulted, raped? It doesn’t matter that it happened to them? Where’s the fucking compassion and inclusiveness, bitches?

Swear to God. Your husbands, your cousins, your own sons? Sure, it happens statistically less frequently to them, but damn it, ladies. It happens. Being one in a hundred doesn’t make it less awful. But the hashtag isn’t inviting their stories, oh no. It’s about women being victims. Same as it ever was, feminism.

Furthermore, the blame for all of this is fully placed on “men.” The elusive, predatory, cruel, power-hungry man. And that absurd psychological tenant from the 50’s that erroneously states that it’s “about power,” not sexual appetite.

I know I’ll get lambasted for it, but how is there NO EMPHASIS PLACED on women’s choices, or their responsibility to honor and protect themselves? The sexual liberation movement appears to have been taken not as a new level of freedom and responsibility, but a free-for-all entree into dangerous situations without any awareness of self-protection!

If all your #metoo experiences are from your childhood or the boardroom, so be it. You’re innocent as the driven snow, and a lamb to men’s wolves. But if you were ever in the wrong place at the wrong time, especially and particularly if you knew better, well, that’s on you. That’s the responsibility of freedom. If you make dumbass choices, you reap the results… and they’re yours.

In other words, if you take a knife to a known gunfight, yes, that is your own damn fault.
Own your freedom and your choices, ladies. I say this not because I lack compassion, but because for every #metoo post about being raped, genuinely raped, there are a thousand about being ogled. And fuck that.

Because:

If you’re a male, particularly a cis male, with a #metoo story, I’m deeply sorry nobody appears to give a fuck.

It’s unloving and exclusive and selfish and wrong, and I apologize for my sex being such angry, heartless attention whores.

I’m also certain that only a very successful, wealthy, healthy, and primarily safe culture can focus so much on sexual molestation. Being leered at, having your butt touched or your bra snapped, remains a social faux pas, not a fucking PTSD-inducing experience. Violent rape is bad, of course, of course, but horny men awkwardly plying their “game” at the wrong time will not fuck up your life unless you decide you’re that fucking delicate.

Which — spoiler! — you’re not. Unless you decide to be.

If you say no to a man in power à la casting couch scenarios and get ruined for it, well, that’s clearly bullshit. Speak up, when and if you can. I’m not saying there aren’t asshole, powerful, predatory men, because there are. There aren’t a lot of them, honestly, but they are there, and sure, write manifestos about how All Men Are Responsible for reining that shit in, if you must — even though you don’t write similar manifestos about reining in ball-busting bitches who ruin otherwise perfectly decent men — and pretend it’s not very much like suggesting all Muslims are responsible for ISIS. Whatever. I don’t care.

But so much of the #metoo thing is just women bitching about the fact that men have libidos, are frequently awkward and dumb about it, and do dumb shit that is more annoying than damaging. You want men to have better manners? Fine, reinstate the age of manners. They’re not that bright, men, really. Manners were probably invented by women to keep men in line in the first place, and most of them went out the window when feminists started being offended at having doors held open for them.

I find that #metoo, overall, is more offensive than moving, more self-righteous than loving, more exclusive than inclusive. Much of what’s being “protested” is male sexual desire and awkwardness, and this undermines the real issue of those, of both sexes and all genders, who have been legitimately damaged.

Festival of light

October 14th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Holiday - (0 Comments)

In which I got new diyas.

Diwali begins Wednesday!

New diyas

In which there’s a lecture.

When your business is open each day only because your staff are getting the rest of the food, shelter, and medicine they need to survive via charity because you’re not paying them enough to buy their own, it means either that you’re not a viable business because you cannot pay a living wage, or that you’re a greedy asshole who will not pay a living wage.

Either way, you remain in business only because the rest of the community you operate in is providing your employees the EBT, gas vouchers, and health care you’re not. Which is to say that, if you were operating in a community that was not providing this lack, you’d already be closed because your staff would stop showing up, and you can’t run a business without staff, right? And hungry, sick, and homeless people tend to have a hard time getting to work each day.

No one who works a full-time job, even as a lowly dishwasher, should need assistance to survive. If you’re not paying the warm bodies who allow you to open your doors each day enough to rent a room, eat modestly, travel to and from work, save a bit, and see a doctor, you shouldn’t be in business. Because you’re not a thriving concern, you’re literally dependent on welfare.

Yes, it is true you’re forced into this horrific model by monsters like Walmart, who drove prices down so low they’re unsustainable, but the facts still stand: if you can’t afford to pay a living wage, one that keeps your people above the poverty line, your business has already failed.

If you can only afford staff from near, at, or below the poverty line, well, then you simply cannot expect them to show up regularly, or have knowledge or education, or be healthy or enthusiastic or empowered or happy, or smell clean or have decent clothing. Because that’s what fucking poverty means. I know a lot of privileged conservatives think that people are poor because they “waste” their money on things like cell phones, but that’s bullshit. A cell phone is a cultural norm; everybody has a cell phone. Anybody who works full time or more should have one, and probably needs one more than you do.

It’s not what poor people spend their money on — hint: it’s exactly the same stuff you spend your money on, asshole — it’s the hatred people feel toward those who earn less than themselves, and the idea of the stereotypical willfully ignorant, addicted, lazy “poor person.” That person is so rare s/he barely exists. The vast majority of the poor in America work full-time in two, or often more, jobs. They’re not lazy, they’re systemically underpaid by a broken economy.

When I worked at Home Depot, half the people I worked with had second jobs, and half of those were grandmothers. Women in their 50’s and 60’s, working more than full time to make ends meet because their families had needs or they were too, too proud to get assistance. Do you really think that any white, 50-something, educated, experienced grandmother should have to work more than one full-time job? Really? Well, that’s who “the poor” are. Sure, there are some junkies, some crazies, some lazies, but MOST POOR PEOPLE ARE JUST LIKE YOU ONLY WITH DIFFERENT LUCK. That’s it. Their morals, values, and work ethics are the same as yours, they just can’t get jobs that pay a living wage, because the number of jobs that do pay a living wage is very low.

The federal poverty level is $15,060 a year. No one could live on that without help. Period. If you were actually a kid with a part-time job flipping burgers, fine, you don’t need a living wage, but the people flipping your burgers aren’t kids living at home earning spending money. They’re struggling retirees, with mortgages they used to pay with their decent and now non-existent middle class jobs.

Ten bucks an hour, full-time for 52 weeks, earns $20,800 a year. Very few areas of the country where someone can both earn that and live on it. Telling someone to move to those areas is ignorant and stupid, because nobody making $20,800 a year can afford to move. Moving is expensive, and it requires so many basics: transportation or money to buy it, the ability to take enough time off without income to move, so many factors non-poor people take for granted. Moving is difficult with money; impossible without it.

Fifteen bucks an hour earns $31,200 a year. That’s all. That’s it. Just barely twice the goddamned poverty level. It is by no means a lavish lifestyle, but it’s enough to have shelter and food and transportation and savings and healthcare. It’s enough to not be a burden on others.

I make a little over ten bucks an hour. For each hour I spend being screamed at by angry customers and abused by hostile corporate policies, I can buy some mouthwash and a pair of cheap socks. Or a single, low-quality meal out. Or a t-shirt.

Doesn’t matter how many hours you work yourself or how hard. If you’re underpaying but your staff are alive to come to work, somebody — the community, welfare — is subsidizing them on your behalf, and you’ve failed to provide your people what they need.