It was yesterday that I realized that I don’t care about Valentine’s Day.
Give me any other holiday, and I’m good to go. I even like Easter.
But Valentine’s Day? It has some kind of messed up messages.
Dear Lonely People – Feel even lonelier! You’re welcome!
Dear Couples – Go out to a restaurant that’s super crowded, completely unromantic because of the crowd and the noise and the insanity, and if it’s a really “nice” restaurant, you’re probably paying jacked up prices for a limited menu. Once you’ve suffered through a dinner that is probably not exact the best thing you’ve eaten because the wait and kitchen staff are totally overworked and underpaid, go home exhausted and in a bad. And, hopefully, drunk. Collapse into your bed.
Ah, the romance of Valentine’s Day!
And here are some memes to keep you happy.
(Unfortunately, I did not find any attribution for them, so if they’re yours, please let me know so I can fix that ASAP.)
I was at Target. I was in a hurry. And Target – being Target on a school day around 2 p.m. when all the moms are trying to buy their groceries before their kids invade their houses again – well, Target was overwhelmed and understaffed.
In front of me was a woman, cart full of baby stuff. She had a super-nice Michael Kors bag, and she was using a WIC card to buy her baby stuff.
I jumped to the conclusion that she didn’t deserve the bag, that if she had the money for the bag, why was she on WIC?
Okay, I told myself. Maybe it was a gift. Maybe she got it from a thrift store. Maybe… Well, maybe it wasn’t my business in any way, shape, or form.
Just because she is getting help doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve some fun and some luxuries. It doesn’t mean that she should be punished and constantly struggling.
Why shouldn’t she buy a Michaels Kors purse? Why shouldn’t she buy Starbucks? Why shouldn’t she buy fancy dinners at steakhouses?
She isn’t any less worthy than anyone else.
If I could assume that she didn’t “deserve” her purse, why couldn’t I instead assume that she did “deserve” it?
Why couldn’t I assume that she worked hard – maybe harder than me and everyone else I knew – and that she was just screwed over by life?
I hope she uses her WIC for all those necessary purposes and spends some of her income on nice things for herself. I hope she has a fun night out. I hope she has a good, reliable car that she doesn’t need to worry about. I hope she can take days off work and go to the beach, bring her daughter or sons or daughters and sons.
I hope that other people aren’t assholes like I was, and I hope that if they are, that they catch themselves, too, and that they remind themselves that it isn’t their business, either.
Sometimes I foolishly check out Craigslist to see if there are any writing gigs. I know better, but I do it anyway. It’s kind of like going to Applebee’s and thinking that you’ll have a good meal. Hope is eternal and stupid.
But sometimes you find something that makes it all worth it.
This particular ad is a double whammy.
First – it’s actually called Starving Writers. I suppose that’s honesty in advertising because if you submit to it, your compensation is “published.”
I’m not sure about you, but the last time I tried to get coffee by telling a barista that their compensation is that they practiced their coffee-making skills, they didn’t give me the coffee I ordered. They were even a wee bit annoyed that I had gotten them to make the coffee and then refused to pay actual money for it.
Second – they tell you that “it doesn’t cost anything” to submit your work to them.
After I finished making a little altar to worship their absolute kindness and generosity, I tried this with a contractor. I told them that I wouldn’t charge them to give me a quote on doing work around the house, and I wouldn’t even pay them for their work once I hired them. I’m not sure what their problem was, but they refused to even come to my house! I don’t get it. Why weren’t they totally appreciative of my willingness to take their work for nothing?
I’m 100% behind writers helping writers. Getting the names of other writers out in public, championing other writers’ work, reviewing books that you enjoy. These are all ways to help out and get writers the audience they need and deserve.
As someone who ran a small press for almost 10 years, I paid my writers. I didn’t make any money. I bought a few stories each month – $25 for short stories, $10 for flash fiction.
The stories appeared online, and once a year, I created a print anthology. Each author got one, plus the option to buy more and sell them. I finally turned a profit on an anthology, “Loving the Undead. An anthology of romance…sort of.” It wasn’t a huge profit, but it encouraged me.
I kept the press going until I couldn’t pay my writers anymore. Due to some health issues, I couldn’t work as many hours and couldn’t afford it. But I didn’t ask them to work for free.
Writers need to support each other, and that means in all ways, including financially. Buy their books, buy their anthologies, subscribe to their Patreon accounts, and join in on their Kickstarters. Writers do this to earn a living. They need to pay bills, just like everyone else.
[I do want to mention that I am also completely behind the idea of anthologies and books that are published for fundraising for various purposes. I organizations who make money from charity anthologies. They often get big name authors to help champion their cause and raise awareness. That is very different.]
Now, I’m not saying that you *have* to applaud me or give me an award. I’m just saying that I deserve your applause. And an award.
There was a bug.
A little beetle-looking bug. Brown. Some legs (I’m guessing there were six? Isn’t that the standard for bugs?). Wings. But wings that were not yet unfurled. Let’s name it Sue.
I only saw Sue because the cat was chasing her. And failing. Failing hard. The cat would run up to Sue. Sniff her. Sue would put on a burst of speed and escape. Then the cat would run up to Sue. Then sniff her. Then Sue would put on a burst of speed and escape.
The race lasted for the length of the kitchen. I watched it, breathless, hoping to see the Sue lose the…battle? That might not be the right word for it. It was more like a baby learning how to crawl and falling asleep mid-movement.
Sue survived all the way to the table. The cat gave up. Well, more than it already had. And Sue was just sitting there on the tile. Looking sad.
I made a deal with Sue. I wouldn’t throw a massive book on her, and I’d put it outside to live out the rest of her little beetle life, but only if she let me sweep her from the tile and onto the dust pan with the long handle that kept me from bending down and getting too close to her without her showing me she could fly.
I figured a verbal agreement was better than no agreement at all, and got the broom and dust pan.
Sue refused to get into the dust pan at first, but the second time, she let me sweep her up and calmly sat there – a little oval of brown in what could be a sea of blue, but was really just some cheap plastic.
Sue held very still as I walked the dozen steps to the back door, and she didn’t jump into the air and attack me with her wings. She just chilled out on the dust pan as I opened the door and stepped out onto the cold concrete of the back patio.
Apparently Sue had gotten comfortable in the relative safety of the dust pan, and she refused to get off it. Without a cat bothering her, I guess she didn’t feel the stress to move. Or maybe Sue hated cold weather, too.
I had to tip the dust pan and gently swat at Sue.
No, I didn’t kill her! She upheld her end of the deal, so I upheld mine!
She finally slid onto the ground, and I’d like to think that Sue nodded her little beetle head in appreciation for all I’d done for her.
So, hold your applause, for now. Once I finish getting the trophy engraved, there will be an awards banquet. But Sue will not be invited.
I admit, I love belonging to mom groups in Facebookland. They are full of drama and crazy. You don’t get to see that sort of thing in public unless you hang out at Wal-Mart at two a.m., and since I have no urge to be at Wal-Mart at all, much less at two a.m., I use my groups to keep me happy.
Sometimes, though, I have the urge to respond in a way that I know will get me kicked out. I can’t get kicked out because, as I mentioned, then I’d have to go to Wal-Mart, and that isn’t a good option.
Instead of posting my responses, I just write them down for myself. But this one is something I want to share because it’s coming up on Christmastime, and I know that this isn’t going to be the only post about getting a pet for the family.
The post was pretty simple – the mom asked what kind of pet she could get that would be “low maintenance.”*
I couldn’t resist the urge to comment, so I kept it short and sweet: if you don’t care if the animal lives or dies, any pet can be low maintenance.
I’m not sure if she saw it, or if anyone else saw it, or if someone went ahead and deleted it because I’m such a mean bastard.
So here goes my full response: Hey, we want to get a “pet” – you know, a living, breathing creature that that needs, love, attention, and all the basics of life (food, water, shelter) – BUT we don’t want it to be a hassle.
In fact, if it would take care of itself and clean up after itself, and not cost us any money, that would be ideal.
Actually, if it kept completely to itself unless we wanted to pay attention to it or show it off, that would be the icing on the cake.
Because while we love the idea of a pet, the actual pet part of it is just totally inappropriate for our busy lifestyle.
Plus, you know, sometimes we go on vacation, so we can’t take it with us, and what if we have kids that don’t like it or don’t want to take care of it?
It’s not like you can return it, and if you just set it free, people think you’re mean and callous, and we don’t want anyone to think of us like that. I mean, here we are, wanting to open our lives to this pet – we’re obviously loving and caring or we wouldn’t even consider it!
*(Now, look, I do get it if you haven’t owned a pet before. You might be leery of that commitment. It last for years. We’ve had cats that lived into their twenties, dogs that cracked a dozen years, and even goldfish that made it through a decade! But if you need to question your readiness, it’s time to buy a nice cactus, not an actual living being that will rely on you.)
I know I wasn’t the only teenage girl who had older guys who liked to ply them with alcohol.
One guy in particular, a football player, who should know who he is but probably still doesn’t want to admit it was really on the give her alcohol until she consents plan for sex.
We had known each other since we were in kindergarten, and in high school, he asked me out, so I started dating him. Of course, the dating generally took the form of me going over to his house when his parents weren’t there, and we’d spend the night drinking. Most of the time, it was the two of us, but sometimes there were a few other people around. I’d get drunk, we’d make out, I’d sober up, and I’d go home. The drunker I got, the more he tried to do.
The final time we hung out, we were making out, and he whipped it out. Even though I’d said no repeatedly. I laughed and told him to put it away. I don’t have a totally clear memory of what happened next, but I do remember kneeing him and then going home shortly thereafter.
I was safe.
I had escaped.
Fast forward a few months. I didn’t have anything to do with him. But one day, a friend (male, let’s call him B) came up to me. He had another female friend (let’s call her C). C had been raped by my ex-boyfriend. She hadn’t been given permission to date, and she felt like she couldn’t tell anyone or do anything, so she told B.
I couldn’t convince her to do anything – she thought she would get in trouble, that he would make her life more miserable, that her parents would punish her for dating.
She only wanted one thing: for him to leave her alone.
Ever since their “date,” he’d been acting like nothing happened. He’d talked to her, wave at her in the hallway. All normal behavior. He wouldn’t leave her alone, and she didn’t know what to do.
I’d like to think that I was a badass way back when. Maybe I was.
I found him in a local public hangout, and, with my new boyfriend hanging behind me), I went up to my rapist ex-boyfriend and told him that if he ever bothered her again, even talked to her, I would kill him.
I need you to get the full picture in your mind.
At the time, I was five feet tall and 100 pounds. He was a football player.
The next day, his father (who happened to be a Marine) called my mother. His father told me mother that I should stop threatening his son and leave him alone.
After that, he didn’t talk to me. He didn’t talk to C. Life went on.