Archives for October 2018

They Said I Could Be Anything, So I Became A Robot

This is just your faithful narrator checking in. It’s been a while since I’ve published anything and I’m frustrated because it’s not that I haven’t written anything or have run out of ideas. Far from it.Became A Dog

But I recently started a job that has me standing in an industrial environment all day. The stories I shared this Summer about my parents are both still ongoing. We have been struggling financially at home and I feel like I have been living in a pressure cooker for six months.

It makes me sad because, back in June, I hit a stride and the world seemed to burst with inspiration. Thoughts came together naturally. Writing was fun and I put a little money into promotion. I got over 550 hits that month. I made connections with some great people. I could see it growing, envision myself getting somewhere with this.

Then I had to go face Dad. That was draining and took some recovery time afterwards. I knew Mom was next, but I ended up

Waiting

Two

Months

Two months of not being able to plan anything because I could be called up North on short notice at any time.

Two months of waiting, only to go up there and get rejected all over again. And a toddler mystery illness!Became A Crocodile

I still haven’t really recovered from that. Didn’t speak to her until I finally confronted her about it all last week. She said she’s sorry I feel that way. She called today and got to telling me about her hair dresser’s kids, but never asked about mine. Or me.

And the only time she mentioned anything I had said about the trip was in response to apparent favoritism on the part of a different relative.

“Well maybe you should give her the same lecture you gave me.”

Why did I even bother? She’s not worried about having hurt me, and seems insulted that I ever brought it up.

So yeah, I’m not doing so well. Between her craziness and Riannon going home tonight to a crazy man who can’t even be bothered to make sure she takes her medication properly I am insanely worried and desperately sad.

And that’s before I even get out of bed.

I’ve been through hard times before, and this time the company is infinitely better. But this week is a clusterfuck of being completely broke and having to work 50 hours. It’s difficult to maintain a positive outlook at the moment.Became A Disappointment

For some reason, the anxiety hasn’t run away with me (yet) but I’m fighting the blues pretty hard. So many crazy things happening in the world and I barely have time to learn about it. Forget participating.

I’ve applied for more writing jobs than I can even remember. I still have hope for a couple and I’m hoping to get into teaching next month. But for now I’m going back to the factory Monday and, not gonna lie, I’m gonna cry (again.)

Not admitting failure but I’m very discouraged about a lot of things.

Dear Reader, you are so important. I write this blog because it’s the kind of thing I always looked for. I got tired of the endless Mommy blogs and Personal Coaches. Women’s content is a wasteland of saccharine pictures and vapid ideas. I write so you will have something interesting to read.

Maybe give a lady a pat on the back. Comment, like, or even donate to the baby wipes fund at https://www.paypal.me/BrazenShe A dollar would seriously make my day.

And thank you to everyone who has read, reached out and enjoyed my work. Every exchange is an amazing experience.

I feel like I’m saying goodbye. I’m just going to have to slow down for a while. Writing is an old habit and I don’t have time to journal anymore, so I’m not going away.

But, as much as it breaks my heart, I have to accept that I’m going to have a lot less time for a while.

Art Vs. Economics: Who Am I?

Reading On The Floor

Always good to learn about our foremothers!

Watching films about great writers and artists always inspires me. Tonight’s offering was Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold. Available on Netflix, this documentary of the famous writer’s life is full of interesting details but dances quickly from one situation to the next without giving a lot of depth.

Joan Didion is someone I’m embarrassed to admit I was not more familiar with before now. She bore witness to some of the most interesting events of recent history. In the film she is a wizened crone reflecting on a full life.

I feel the pull of a kindred spirit toward iconoclastic voices but their lives are a world away. I compare myself to those around me and feel lazy, the idea of slaving away at some meaningless set of tasks to earn tokens so my family can have the basics of life makes me nauseous.

I consider myself a hard worker, but I guess I’m too smart for my own good because I need a reason. I need to learn something and I need something to set my mind to. Otherwise I get bored quickly. My brain takes that extra energy and uses it to try to choke itself.

Life at home is hectic and sometimes very stressful. But if I just have to jot something down, I can. Bathroom breaks are not timed and the uniform is lax. Hubby has casually mentioned that his mother could step in with the kids. This is easier for him than for me. She’s not my Beloved Mother, and I’m kinda stuck on the idea of raising my own kids.

Wallpapering2

Nothing I throw out seems to stick!

And why do some people get to spend their lives writing? Seems I’m going to anyway, why do I seem doomed to a life distracted and thinly

spread?

Joan told a little story about how her mother gave her a magazine article about a writing contest, saying Joan could win it someday. And win it she did, kicking off an influential career.

Ah, so she had support. That’s probably part of it. It’s taken me this long just to really figure out what I want to do.

I will never stop writing. I have moments where I rage at all the men who have used the labor of their families to avoid responsibility and focus on their careers. At the financial system which, by so many estimates, is rigged against us. Recently I read that people my age are more likely to live with a parent than a spouse. The comment section was filled with people doing both just to keep everyone afloat. Sometimes it makes hearing stories about the greats of the last century ring a little hollow.

How many insights are we missing out on? How many great novels and paintings or technological advancements aren’t happening because my generation’s innovators are working three jobs to pay for student debt and health insurance? And if you had the gall to reproduce in your 20s, it’s exponentially more complicated.

Hilda Canoe

I keep losing my footing!

So, dear reader, I have to ask myself if I think I can take myself out of my home and away from my children all day, 5 days a week. Is it just romantic nonsense to worry I would go a little crazy? My husband works so hard, and I want to do everything I can to help. Back rubs and chicken dinners only go so far.

Is it narcissistic to say that I fear for my budding creative spirit? Is it immature to assert that I have something to say, I am more than just a worker? That this knowledge burns hotter within me with each passing year and churning out these posts is merely a method of keeping my brain from boiling over?

Because it feels that way. Maybe it’s my Midwestern Republican upbringing but any protest against wage slavery feels like making excuses. I’m probably going to have to say goodbye to my little one more and more often very soon. Miss dinners and conversations. And return to the feeling that I’m missing a beat of every bar that plays as life marches unmercifully forward.

I’ll be 35 next week. I’m sure this has a lot to do with the time pressure but it’s nice in that it allows me to cut through a lot of the internal bullshit that held me back when I was younger. And then I look and see that the world outside is covered in it. I want so badly to do my small part to help clean it up, if I don’t drown in it first.

All the cinematic inspiration in the world can’t pay the light bill.

More Sociopaths: Trevor Noah Recaps

Check And Double Check

I see what you did there! Cute.

As I was writing my post inspired by Dr. Martha Stout’s fantastic book The Sociopath Next Door, Trevor Noah was in front of cameras explaining why it’s more relevant than ever.

In one of The Daily Show’s Between the Scenes segments, Trevor says he thinks President Trump’s “most powerful tool is that he knows how to wield victimhood.

“He knows how to offer victimhood to people who have the least claim to it. Which is a really, really powerful tool because …. he’s saying the real victims of the #MeToo movement are men.

“‘Someone can accuse you at any time and your life is over.’ They’re the real victims …. I think people take for granted how powerful that message was. There are a lot of men who that message will connect with because that’s a feeling many men have …. ‘This #MeToo movement, it’s gotten out of control.’….

“What does that mean?

“‘Well every week, a new famous person is being accused.’

“We looked through it, it’s maybe a hundred and some people. That’s how many people have been #MeToo-ed. That’s how many people have been held accountable. A hundred and something. That’s not like a life-changing number of men. They make it sound like all men have been accused, but 99.9% of men have not been accused. But the narrative that’s been created is that these 100 men represent all the men and all men should be afraid of it….

“It’s not that many people, but they make it feel like it’s a lot of people because then what they do is they create this idea that all men need to band together to stop this from happening because it could happen to you. And men become the victims.

Black Magic

We’ll crack this black magic!

“And it’s such a powerful tool to use. Because if you can convince men they are the victims of the #MeToo movement you get men trying to fight against a movement that’s really about holding men who are doing bad things accountable, as opposed to making all men scapegoats for something that they’re not doing.

“It’s such a powerful, gripping idea that Trump does really well.”

This is an amazing example of the pity play Dr. Stout warned us about, on an enormous scale.

Trevor continues, “I know that people will be like, ‘Well I’ve seen men who’ve been falsely accused.’ And I go, yeah, but how many?

“Or let me ask it to you this way: How many men, percentage-wise, have been falsely accused of a sexual assault? And how many women have actually been sexually assaulted? …. The truth is it’s women, women are the victims in this situation. That doesn’t mean you gotta feel sorry for women, but women are the victims and that’s what we’re trying to fix.

“But Trump has managed to turn that.”

Which is exactly what sociopaths, narcissists, antisocial personalities, whatever you want to call them, do best! They are experts at dodging blame and the best way to do that is to make you feel sorry for them.

The fact that we are being asked to pity a man who, if he hadn’t passed this test, would still be a wealthy man from a privileged background who would always have a job should be a giant red flag to everyone.

Capsized

Being more careful could avoid accidents like this!

And we’re being asked this by a guy who has been ripping off the very government he now heads for decades. We officially have our first mobster President, and now he and his crew of criminals have made an extremely important lifetime appointment. What could go wrong?

“If you can convince people they are in fact the victims when they are from a position of power, you have the most powerful tool that you can wield.” Not only does someone like Donald Trump make you feel sorry for him, he stokes self-pity in the people who relate to him. Most of whom are white men. 

The loss of the middle class has been hard on white men. For some reason, they are falling once again for the oldest trick in politics. They are allowing their legitimate anger about economic deterioration to be sidetracked. They are taking out their insecurities on the women’s movement and multiculturalism.

Donald Trump makes no sense as a spokesman for the former middle class or social conservatives. Yet for some reason, here we are. Hmmm….

Trevor makes the point that Trump has used this same trick over and over, with men, with white people, now with Kavanaugh specifically. This and braggadocio seem to be his main two modes. If he can’t win you over with how great he is, he will tell you about the hard time he’s having. Conflicting, no?

Once we see through the act and see how we are being manipulated, we can look at why we feel this way and ask ourselves if we’re okay with that. I raise my glass to men like Trevor Noah, who do the mental work to examine their motivations. 

It’s only through doing that difficult personal work that we will see clearly enough to identify people like Donald Trump long before they can do major damage. We all need to learn this lesson, and quickly. 

Please enjoy the clip.

Readings: The Sociopath Next Door

Game Face

I look so good, no one will notice I never get anywhere!

Last time our Readings took us to some pretty deep places in the Freudian unconscious. This time we’re looking at behavior that is in front of our faces every day.

I’m not the first to write an article inspired by Dr. Martha Stout’s superb book The Sociopath Next Door. It is riveting and filled with educational details. Dr. Stout employs narrative to draw characters who illustrate points from the easily digestible lists the book is populated with.

After drawing her terms, we meet Skip and Doreen. Skip’s last name is probably Skakel. Doreen has ensconced herself as a doctor in a mental hospital with no real credentials. They both use the power of their position to abuse and intimidate people below them.

To get away with it all they spend most of their energy manipulating the people around them. They lack any internal sense of connection to anyone, and feel no guilt for anything they do.

Skip and Doreen sound like monsters but around four out of every 100 people in Western society think this way. This is a shockingly high number. Twin studies have shown this lack of empathy to be about half Nature and half Nurture, so environment plays a large role.

Western society rewards a lot of the behaviors that come easily when you feel no remorse.

Those who have no hesitation to steal and cheat, and waste no mental energy worrying how anyone else will feel about it, often get away with a lot for a long time.

Assault

It’s like you don’t care about me at all!

What is a Sociopath?

A distinct group with a specific malfunction of the brain. They don’t feel emotional connections with other people. There is some debate about Sociopath versus Psychopath, but I have never found a reputable source that made any meaningful differentiation.

The National Institute of Health lists four factors of what it calls Antisocial Personality Disorder:

  • An interpersonal factor that includes superficial charm, grandiosity, pathological lying and manipulation
  • An affective factor that includes callousness, lack of remorse, shallowness and failure to accept responsibility
  • An impulsive lifestyle factor that is comprised of impulsivity, sensation seeking and irresponsibility
  • An antisocial factor that includes general rule breaking

But Dr. Stout says, “The best clue is, of all things, the pity play. The most reliable sign, the most universal behavior of unscrupulous people is not directed, as one might imagine, at our fearfulness. It is, perversely, an appeal to our sympathy.”

The sociopath is the poor beleaguered coworker who talks you into doing her work so she can go home to the three kids she doesn’t really have. He is the friend’s husband who got high and scared the shit out of the kids but is a pathetic victim of circumstance afterward.

It’s important to understand what these people look like, because chances are you know a few.

Dr. Stout continues: “The combination of consistently bad or egregiously inadequate behavior with frequent plays for your pity is as close to a mark on the conscienceless person’s forehead as you will ever be given.

Kite

Connecting with them is a kite that will never fly!

“Pity from good people is carte blanche …. Our emotional vulnerability when we pity is used against us by people who have no conscience …. Sociopaths have no regard whatsoever for the social contract, but they do know how to use it to their advantage.”

Honestly, I’m starting to wonder if my dad isn’t one.

Obviously these are people those of us with beating hearts want to stay away from as much as possible. When it isn’t possible and you find yourself dealing with someone who just can’t seem to stop lying to get what they want (or for no reason at all!) there are a couple things to keep in mind:

Give them as little personal information as possible.

Avoid trusting them with important or expensive tasks.

Do not ask this person to babysit your kids or your pets!

If you are intimately involved with someone who fits this description, it’s time to stop making excuses and start making plans. You can’t help them. Even a trained professional couldn’t help them.

For those of us who do feel emotional connection to the people in our lives, it’s tempting to believe that if we just throw enough love at someone, eventually their walls will come crashing down.

But what if there’s nothing behind it?

Similar to my Bad Boyfriend post, I’m stressing the importance of being picky about who we associate with. Where you put your energy matters.

American Psycho

Instead of violent, they are usually just horrible!

But with so many cut-throat bastards running around, plenty of them acquire the power to manipulate things in their favor on a large scale. Speaking for myself, I believe they tend to cluster around such positions. They are seriously over-represented in the ranks of CEOs, for example. I also believe Donald Trump is one, but that wouldn’t be terrifically unusual for someone at his level of influence.

Aside from shielding ourselves personally, we have to hold unscrupulous people accountable for what they do. It’s easier to make excuses, to come up with reasons why we might do something similar. Explain it away so we don’t feel like we need to do anything.

But giving bad people the benefit of the doubt is dangerous. It’s gotten us to a dangerous place in history. Maybe it’s time to accept that just because someone can smile and wear a suit doesn’t mean they’re not a total maniac.

A Wild Porn Appears!

Splash

I was just minding my own business!

This morning I was reading an article in The Guardian when suddenly my screen was filled with spammy bullshit about winning prizes. Sure, but only if I sign away my life first 🙄

But it doesn’t matter how many times I reset the link, once that crap comes up I am not going to get to finish what I was reading.

And this time, when I tried to click back in the browser it took me to an adult dating app sign-up!

Are you over 18?

How about no?

Are you looking for singles in your area?

Chose No again.

Can you send and receive pics on your device?

No again.

We think you’re perfect! Look at these tits and sign up here!

Dafuq??? I just told you I was a child who isn’t looking to date or trade pics – Why are you showing me boobs?!?

So, on top of not getting to finish my article, I get to worry about how easy it is to find objectification of seminude women online. Seriously, one page of this maze asked me to “choose one of these women” with one pic being just a pair of tits and a belly! So much for the idea that maybe it knows me and that I’m actually of age.

Tear The Ticket

Ignoring things makes them go away!

Why show me pics of young women?

Nope, pretty sure my morning was just forcibly invaded by sexism and porn so casual they throw tits at anyone without even the effort to market to potential clients. 

What if I really were a child?? It’s starting to feel like the only way to protect our kids until they are mature enough to deal with stuff like this is to keep them offline. Which is impossible when half their schoolwork is online.

How can I react to this except to ignore it? But I doubt it will go away on its own.

I’m not against pornography in general. If people want to make and watch movies containing sexual acts, I can’t think of a reason why that’s a bad idea on its face. I have met some who believe that sex recorded in video format is bad as a rule, but when I dig into the argument it’s usually something about

The exploitation in the industry

Or keeping it away from children

Or the extreme nature of modern mainstream pornography.

These are all important points that need to be addressed. However, just because a film contains unflinching portrayals of sex doesn’t mean watching it is bad for you. By this logic action movies contain tons of violence, dramas manipulate our emotions and the horror genre as a concept is truly horrific.

Really, it seems to come down to pornography making some people profoundly uncomfortable. I sympathize with that feeling, it was my initial reaction. But I have never been able to come up with a solid reason why a movie of people having sex is inherently bad as a concept.

Hilda Beach

Not all nudity is sexual, you guys!

That’s a very general definition. Twisted people have focused on the taboo of it and pushed that edge for so long it’s become absurd to even mention. Common lore has it that nothing is off-limits, everything is out there somewhere.

Perhaps the intent is the problem. If the goal is to stretch the limits of vulgarity then naturally we are presented with more and more vulgar stuff. What if the intention was to arouse audiences with lurid portrayals of passion?

If this sounds too romantic, think about what that says about the state of things! Sex is so easy to see that hardcore graphic depictions of it sound pedestrian. No restraints? No unnecessary theatrical position changes? No power plays?

Variety is the spice of life.

But it’s just damn lazy to rely on taboo for a thrill. Especially when your subject matter is interesting to almost everyone on Earth.

And it doesn’t belong in random pop-ups in the middle of news articles. Porn has officially become intrusive in my life (again!) But it’s not even someone I know clumsily bringing it out. It was the blind, uncaring tide of the Internet, and we are all at its mercy.

Why isn’t graphic sex enough? Dress it up however you want, sex is still sex. But we never get tired of it. For most people, added elements of violence are unnecessary to maintain interest.

Pornography definitely relies on pushing boundaries in general but the penchant for violence is so pervasive that several people have

Life Raft

I feel totally out to sea!

commented to me about it, from an older lesbian to my middle-aged husband and a diverse selection besides. And I have read things written by many others.

Participating in a culture that lives to stretch vulgarity nurtures this mode of thinking in the individual. Instead of How can I make the most of this?, the question becomes What can I get away with? 

Off the top of my head, I would guess that the overabundance of sexual violence and domination that’s trendy right now is part of a backlash to the success of the Women’s Movement in the last 100 years.

The industry itself is not kind to its actors but I think that’s a Capitalism issue. Capitalism is at least one post on its own.

As an aspect of backlash, is it bound to fade away as society absorbs change? Because it sucks if men are angry but we’re not giving up the vote.

We are going to keep pushing the glass ceiling. We are going to assert our inherent authority over reproduction.

Another interesting thing I read recently is that men who fear the rise of women imagine a world where women treat men like they have treated us.

Personally, I might start just by keeping porn away from the news.