Friday, November 16, 2018

Dating: Reasons 396-398: Day 16

You didn't really think I was going to write about dating, did you? Here are numbers 396-398 of the reasons I don't date. 

396. I don't want to worry about farts -- mine or his. Also, the bathroom. I don't want to share my bathroom. At. All. At least farts are kind of funny. Poop. Nope.

And then there's this happy couple. She found out he had been cheating on her for months before their wedding, while they were dating .... and she found out the night before. Of course the cunt helpful homewrecker he was cheating with sent the happy bride their texts, but he still has no excuse. She read the texts instead of her vows at their wedding the next day. Never would have happened if she'd stayed off Tinder.

397. I don't need to become any more cynical than I already am.

And then there's this guy who knows what he wants and won't settle for less. Misogynist dog turd. 

398. I don't meet the criteria. Thank you, Baby Jesus.

So far, even after lots of conversations about the topic, I've come up with hundreds of reasons not to date, and not a single reason why I should. I do like swiping on Tinder for other people though.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Throwback Thursday: Goodbye to Cousin X: Day 15

Tonight's Throwback Thursday post is one that got a lot of attention, although it's hard to tell by looking at the original post. No comments on it at all. But there were tons of comments on Facebook, and it was one of my top five posts for views. In fact, one of my brother's friends in Minneapolis sent it to him, not knowing it was about him. That's viral in my world!

Some things have changed since I wrote this post. To begin with, I unfriended Cousin X, and so did my sisters and even my mom. The Supreme Court did the right thing and upheld the right of gay people to marry, and yet also upheld the baker's right to refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple. But the state where he lives elected a gay governor this month. There's change. But the religious right is always pushing back and trying to erode progress. I'll never understand what people are so afraid of, and frankly, it's their problem. They need to deal with it and leave the rest of us out of it. And on we go with Throwback Thursday.

I wish people would think about who they might hurt when they let loose their bigoted, repressive, cutting words on the world of Facebook. Real people read these words. Real people react with their real feelings. Their hurt feelings. Their feelings of despair. This goes out to all of my LGBTQ friends. I'm sorry for some of the shit you endure here. I'm sorry for some of the shit we all have to see here.

P.S. I love my baby brother with all my heart. Don't bake him a fucking cake if you don't want to. I'll bake him a cake, and I'll bake it with love. Keep your hate to yourself.

 I posted this on Facebook tonight. I was so pissed, and I wanted to make a vague statement about a conversation I had with my little brother early this evening, just as I was finishing up a ham dinner to eat with Drake and Montana, my son and daughter-in-law. We'd shared a good day: birthday brunch for Montana, a visit with her adorable 9-month-old nephew, a long hike along the river in a nearby state park with our dogs. While I grilled ham and mashed potatoes, they grabbed a quick nap before their 2 1/2-hour drive home.

I almost didn't answer the phone. I almost didn't even check to see who was calling, but I did, and when I saw it was my youngest brother, probably on his long drive home from Easter dinner at Mom's, I picked up the phone. I intended to just let him say "Happy Easter" and get right off, but instead we had this conversation. (Note: My brother is not on Facebook and never has been. For that I am grateful, for reasons that will become clear. Oh, and also, my  brother is gay. Not that that's any of your business.)

Bro': Did we talk about Cousin X the last time we talked or the time before? Did you say you weren't really in touch with her any more? Because I can understand why now.
Me: I don't remember talking about it, but it's true. We don't have much in common any more.
Bro': Yeah, well I have even less in common with her. You're Facebook friends with her, right?
Me: I am .... or I think I still am. I have her set on "show as little as possible without unfriending." Too much right-wing bullshit for me. Why? What happened?
Bro': I was at Mom's setting up her phone. I put her on my plan so she'd get better reception there.
Me: Yeah, any reception at all would be welcome, I'm sure. I didn't get any bars the entire time I was home for [her husband's] funeral last summer.
Bro': So I was setting up her phone, and I had to load her Facebook app for her. And I saw the kind of shit Cousin X posts on her Facebook. I couldn't believe it.
Me: I haven't seen anything from her in months. What did you see?
Bro': A bunch of stuff. Some really ugly stuff about Obama. And a post about ... well, about me. It said something like making a Christian bake a cake for a gay person is like making a black person bake a cake for the KKK.
Me: Wow. That's .... that's horrible.
Bro': Yeah. I .... I don't know what I ever did to her .... I don't know how she could compare me to the KKK. I didn't know that was who she is now. I won't keep you. I just had to tell you ... It hurts, you know?
Me: I know. It's awful. I don't even know what to say about it. I'm so sorry you saw that.
Bro': I was so upset I almost responded to it right there ...
Me: Yeah, but it would have looked like Mom was responding. Not that she wouldn't have supported you.
Bro': And then I thought I'd send her an email when I got home, but the further down the road I got, the more I realized it would be like teaching a pig to sing. It would waste my time and just annoy the pig.
Me: You're right. You're not going to change her stupid, bigoted opinions.
Bro': I know. I just want to ... I don't know. Tell her I'm a real person, someone she knows, and that's a vile way to talk about me and my friends and a lot of people she doesn't even know.
Me: It is. I just doubt you'd get any satisfaction from contacting her. Maybe ... but probably not.
Bro': I'm not going to. I decided to call you instead. I'll let you go now.
Me: OK. I'm just getting dinner on the table. Sorry.
Bro': It's OK. I just needed to tell you.
Me: I love you. Drive safe.
Bro': Love you too. Talk to you soon.

I have so much to say about this, I can barely think straight. I'll try to be concise though. Joining the KKK is a choice. A vile choice. Being a Christian is a choice. And the result of that choice sometimes results in vile actions, like posting shit like this on Facebook.

I'm not sure who Cousin X thinks she's talking about when she compares a gay wedding to the KKK (the irony can't escape any of you), but if I cared to have the conversation with her, I would remind her that she's talking about real people. Real people who have the same human desires and failings, the same needs and feelings that she does. Real people who include her younger cousin  who shared holiday dinners and birthdays with her at my house for several years when we all lived close to each other and far from other family. A real person who used to think she cared a great deal for him. 

Apparently she does not. Does not care about him, and does not see him as a real person with the same rights she has.

You know what though? It's none of her damn business who he loves or who he shares a wedding cake with or even who he fucks. None. Of. Her. Business. Nor mine. Nor yours. Nobody's business but his own.

But since people insist on making my brother their business, let me tell you something about his weekend. He drove 10 hours to and from to spend Easter with our recently widowed mother. He's probably made that trip 25 times in the past year. Maybe more. While he was there he told stupid jokes, cooked, cleaned up, did several handyman chores that Mom needed done, watched some TV, set up her cell phone, teased his sisters, let a few odorous farts, laughed too loud and cried too easily, reminisced about those of us who weren't there, saw something cruel on Facebook that cut him to his soul .... 

Here's what he didn't do. He didn't discriminate refuse to show common courtesy to anybody, including straight people, who are not like him in that way that's so important to some straight people. He didn't rape any children. Most pedophiles are straight men anyway. He didn't shame any little girls who wanted to wear a suit for Easter. I doubt very much he compelled anybody to commit suicide, although if you've ever endured one of his farts ... I digress. And he did not post a quick, yet heart-wrenchingly cruel, quotation on Facebook about anybody at all, but especially not about somebody he thought might remember him with fondness, if not love. 

Who wouldn't want to bake this man a wedding cake? (He's single, btw!)

I have to ask: Are there really good people who think their savior rose from the dead on a day like this one a couple thousand years ago just so they could use the religion they named after him to crush people who don't love the same gender of person they love? Really? Is that what they got from Jesus? Is that what they distilled from his words?

From what I know of Jesus, he accepted everybody. In fact, I think that radical, liberal young rabbi would have been out there performing gay weddings if such a thing had even been a thing. Oh, I know he would have. He certainly wouldn't have been quoting John Hawkins' words of hate on Facebook.

I'm rambling. It's hard to watch someone I love step on a landmine like that one up there. It's hard to see people I love and people I don't even know try to defend who they are, who they were born to be. It's hard to watch people carry on conversations about them -- about them -- as if they weren't real live human beings who shouldn't have to defend their relationships to anybody.

So I'll stop rambling and say it again to people like Cousin X (who won't be on my Facebook friend list after this): Don't bake my brother a fucking cake if you can't treat him like a human being who has all the same feelings and rights as you. I will bake him all the cakes he can eat, and I will make them with love. You hit him today with your words, and you hurt him. But don't think that means you will oppress him forever. Your dehumanizing hatred is going to cause a backlash like you've never even imagined. A backlash of people loving and supporting and fighting for their gay relatives and friends, and yes, even strangers.

Wait for it. It's already headed your way. Bam!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Winter storm tonight: Wordless Wednesday: Day 14

(Of course the quotation marks should go outside the period. I can't stay wordless about that.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The joy of plugs: Day 13

If you've been reading here long, or even if you're reading here now, you may have noticed something is missing from my blog that you often see on other blogs. Any guesses what that is? If you answered ads .... ding! ding! ding! No ads. Which means I derive no income from this here blog, which is why I don't write here as often as I should because I'm out there working for dollars. Here all I get is adoration. 

Not that I'm opposed to earning income from this blog. I'll take money from pretty much anybody for pretty much anything. I'm not saying I'm a whore, but draw your own conclusions. (I'm not a whore.) To be honest, I don't run ads or earn income here for pretty much the same reason I'm not a prostitute: nobody has ever offered. Until now.

Some time before my life ran off the tracks I received an email from Jessica who works for a startup in Portland, Oregon, where all the cool kids live, and she wanted to pay me $20 to mention her product on this little blog. Exciting, huh? Finally I'm getting some recognition from corporate America! Any guesses what she wanted me to mention? Anybody?

Well, I won't leave you hanging, because I wasn't sure at first myself. And it says something about my sex life that I didn't really know from looking at the name of the company: Plugjoy. I had to Google it.

Oh. Um.

Butt plugs.

OK. Uh huh. Somebody wants me to plug butt plugs. (I stole that.) I always thought my first ad would have something to do with vaginas. Or wine. Or both. I never considered butt plugs. But OK ...

I'm cool with that. I mean I've never used  ... worn? ... inserted? ... or even held a butt plug before, but see above. Nobody's ever asked me to, and furthermore, they don't sell them at Kroger or Goodwill, my two hometown-shopping besties. Don't judge. I'm not nearly as cool as everybody nobody thinks I am.

I wondered what my readers would think about suddenly seeing an ad for butt plugs on my blog, so I asked on my Reticulated Writer Facebook page*. The responses were 100% positive, and the reasons were reasonable. 1. Anybody who would be shocked by butt plugs has probably already run screaming from the building. 2. I have no other advertisers to piss off. 3. It's an opportunity to educate myself my public about butt plugs. And honestly, no plug tongue in cheek at all, I'm all for educating people about safe and fun sex toys. People who aren't educated can end up in the emergency room.

Several people at church cornered me engaged me in a conversation about the possibility of butt plug plugging. Two of them, women in their 60's, said they had to look them up, because they'd never heard of them. And that they had no idea people used such devices, but it seemed like good, clean fun. I looked around to see who was listening every time one of us said "butt plug" and we all broke into laughter. The general consensus at church was that I should take the money and write about butt plugs.

Before I committed though, I decided I'd ask our resident expert, my daughter Elvira. The conversation went something like this.

Me: What can you tell me about butt plugs. I might write a blog post about them and even get paid.
Elvira: One thing I can tell you is this: If you're going to buy rhinestones, buy online, because the markup is outrageous in the retail stores.
Me: Obviously I'm not an expert on the plugging of the butt, but even using the word "rhinestone" in the same sentence with the words "butt" and "plug" sounds painful.
Elvira: The rhinestone is on the end. It sticks out.
Me: I don't understand the appeal. I lack anal imagination apparently.
Elvira: So your butt is a jewel. It makes your butt look cute. Here, I'll show you.
Me: (alarms go off!) OH! That's OK, sweetie. I'm not even going to try to imagine.
Elvira: Not on me! Jeez, Mommers. I'm not walking around with a rhinestone butt plug in my ass. Look. Here on Amazon. They're only $2.99 so you can get one in every color of the rainbow if you want.
Me: Oh, I see. Kind of like a gaudy wine bottle stopper, only bigger.
Elvira: Yeah, like that. One time I was drunk and I ordered eight of them on Wish. They were only 50 cents so you had to take random colors. I got red and green, so I threw them away.
Me: Ick. Those sound like the worst colors for butt plugs. That would make your butt look .... well, not pretty.
Elvira: Right? I wanted clear or pink or purple. I think I even got a yellow one.
Me: OK, I've imagined enough about you and butt plugs for the time being. Do you think I should write a sponsored post about butt plugs on my blog?
Elvira: Sure. Why not? 

OK, I thought. I'll do it. It's not like they're asking me to write a review with personal photos. And I'd make enough money to buy a box of wine. Or a good bottle of Butter chardonnay. Why not splurge?

Here's what you need to know about Plugjoy. You can buy your butt plugs online or at their brick-and-mortar store in Portland, Oregon, which looks nice, like a realtor's office or a travel agency. You will see the jeweled butt plugs Elvira fancies -- one is even pink -- on their home page. They sell a variety of plugs, like inflatable plugs, his-and-her plugs, animal tail butt plugs of various animals (like bunnies, raccoons, and foxes) and other butt toys, like beads, vibrators, and hooks. (I'm not going to ask about that last one.) And, as you might expect, you can choose from a number of sizes.

You'll find a selection of articles on their website, with topics like how to use a butt plug, how to DIY your butt plug, and how to use good hygiene. If you're interested in further information, check out some of the reviews at Oh Joy Sex Toy as well. They write cartoon reviews of sex toys that are both hilarious and informative.

There you go. I don't know if I'll actually get paid, but that's what an ad looks like here in Reticuland. By the way, none of those are affiliate links. In other words, I don't get a kickback if you buy something after you click on a link. I'm not going crazy here.

Feel free to share your experiences in the comments. As always.

* If you want to participate in scintillating conversations about butt plugs and other topics, please like my Reticulated Writer Facebook page.

Monday, November 12, 2018

The weight of a song: Day 12

I've been writing a lot from the NaBloPoMo prompts this month, which is unusual for me, but I'm not getting much time for contemplation so I'm using the crutch.

Today's prompt is "Share a story about a song or a piece of music that deeply affected you." That's an easy one because today found me driving through the city with tears running down my face because of a song Coraline's class is singing at her school's annual holiday feast for their families.

She was so excited when she crawled in the van because they'd been practicing singing and signing "Let There Be Peace on Earth" for the dinner. It's a song I heard my mother sing many times. One of her favorites. I think she may have sung it as a solo at church one time. She had a lovely voice, both from natural talent and years of voice training. I loved to hear her sing and play the piano, which she also did well. She told me when I was a baby the only thing that would stop me from crying was when she played the piano. I digress .....

Coraline started singing the song, and I joined in. She told me how they had changed the lyrics in the first verse from "God as our father" to "earth as our mother." We agreed that was better. And "let me walk with my brother" to "let me walk with my family." So we sang the first verse together, but as we moved on into the second verse, I couldn't hold my shit together and I started to cry. I might as well admit, I'm crying a little now as I write this.

Of course my voice broke and I had to stop singing. Coraline said from her seat in the back, "Mamá, what's wrong? Why are you crying?"

You'd think she'd be used to it by now. It's about the 20th time something has triggered my grief in the van in the past couple of months and I've found myself driving down the road with tears running down my face. "It's just grief," I told her. "I'm OK. That song was one of Grandma's favorites, and we sang it at her funeral. It just made me miss her."

"I didn't remember singing that song at the funeral," she said.

"Well we did," I told her. "Do you want me to tell you a funny story about your uncle Roger and me singing that song for Grandma before she died?"

"Yes!" she said. My girl is always down for a story. I hope you are too.

The day after I flew to Iowa we took Mom off the respirator and other life support. It was such a relief to get that awful tube out of her throat and the mask and tape off her face. We weren't sure how much  she was aware of. She had squeezed my hand the night before when I asked her to let me know if she knew I was there. The next day she was opening her eyes and seemed to be looking at us when we talked to her, but she didn't have any other conscious movement. No more hand squeezing. Certainly no talking. We didn't know how long she would last.

While we waited for a social worker to set up hospice services in her home town and arrange for her to be transported the 60 miles home -- a wait that took hours -- my little brother Roger and I decided we would sing to her, songs we knew she loved: "How Great Thou Art," "Bridge Over Troubled Waters," "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," "Amazing Grace," and "Let There Be Peace on Earth."

Roger has a beautiful tenor voice, and I'm not half-bad myself on a good day. We were kind of belting out the songs, having fun with them. Mom probably would have been embarrassed, but we were in strange territory. We just wanted to sing to our mom. And she was in no position to reprimand us. Anyway, we were pretty sure we sounded fabulous.

Roger led us into "Let There Be Peace on Earth," and as we moved into the second verse I stopped us and said, "This key is too high. It's going to sound like shit."

"Just keep singing," Mr. Bossypants said. "You're a soprano. Nothing's too high for you." I should have been flattered by his confidence, but mine was telling me this wouldn't end well.

Nevertheless, I kept singing with him in the too-high key to our captive mother who had no choice but to listen. We started the climb toward the high note .... "to take each moment and live each moment ..." and I knew a painful moment was coming up.

Maybe she can't really hear us, I thought. They keep telling us the hearing is the last to go, but maybe she's not even listening. I sure as hell hope she's not because here it comes ....

We hit the high note and I mean we hit that fucker. I sounded like a cat getting a bath. There was nothing peaceful about that note. A woman on her deathbed should not have had to listen to that note.

As I looked at my paralyzed, dying mother I saw a look on her face I'd seen more times than I can count. A wincing, disgusted, shut-the-fuck-up-now look that I never thought I'd see again and that I never did see again. It only lasted a few seconds, but it was there.

When we finished torturing that song my niece Care Bear said, "Did you guys see Grandma's face when you hit that high note? She didn't like that note one bit." She was laughing so hard she probably peed herself a little bit.

"Yes, I saw it, Care Bear," I said. "Thank you for pointing that out." She laughed even harder.

"Why did you start it so high?" I asked Roger. "That was mean. You're such an asshole sometimes."

"It wasn't that high," he said. "Besides, that's the key it's always sung in."

"What? You can't know that. You don't have perfect pitch. You just chose a key and that was it."

"No, I didn't. That's the right key."

"That's ridiculous. There is no right key. There's the key that won't make the singer sound like a cat in heat. You pulled that key out of your ass and now you're trying to defend yourself. Tell him, Mom!"

Mom did not offer up an opinion, but she would have agreed with me. I'm just sorry she had to hear that argument go on for another 15 minutes.

Ten days later my brother and I would be standing at our mom's funeral belting that song out again -- this time in a lower key. We also sang "How Great Thou Art," with its soaring high notes. Roger even threw in some harmony. He's a bigger show off than I am. I'm going to speak for both of us and say we sounded pretty good for people who had tears in their throats.

Such things are a mystery to me, but I like to believe my mom heard us singing her favorite songs in remembrance, and maybe this time she smiled.

I'm going to try not to cry this Thursday when the kids in Coraline's class sing and sign their song, but I'm not making any promises. Like I told Coraline today, this is what grief looks like. It comes out of us as tears and it's OK. We grieve because we love. We grieve because we've lost someone precious. And sometimes, even if we don't do it perfectly, we sing to remember.