The Rush Limbaugh slut-shaming incident reminded me of the Stephen Colbert “It Gets Better” video:
Cretins like Rush Limbaugh throw out those words because they’re the worst things that they can think of to call someone. Rush clearly, if you read the transcript, has no fucking clue how birth control even works:
She gives the numbers: $3,000 worth of birth control pills worth of sex. … So the woman comes forth with this, frankly hilarious claim that she’s having so much sex (and her buddies with her) that she can’t afford it. And not one person says, “Well, did you ever think about maybe backing off the amount of sex that you have?
If you’re a friend of Rush Limbaugh, please call him and explain that women don’t pop a birth control pill when they want to have sex. It’s not like the Viagra that we know he takes (and that is, oddly enough, covered under a fair amount of insurance plans); it’s the same 28 pills every month, regardless of how much sex you’re having.
To get back to my point, though–Rush really doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about. He’s flinging shit and seeing what sticks. Anybody who takes him seriously doesn’t deserve the breath it would require to argue. We should do what Stephen’s friend did–turn around and tell Rush, “Yes, Rush, we’re sluts who love to have sex. And if you want to continue having sex with us, give us our damn birth control.” He’ll eventually have to slink away. Bullies always do.
Oh yes, friends and neighbors, if you’re counting, and I stopped awhile ago, that’s roughly the fifth or sixth job in a row where I just couldn’t hack it (although the job before this last one doesn’t count because it was school that I couldn’t hack, not the job itself). The sucky part about leaving this job, though, is that I was mentally ready for this job. I didn’t have panic attacks or go home crying (not from emotional distress, anyway). I fit in well. I learned the job really quickly–after the first day, I was basically flitting around on my own, doing very well if I do say so myself (and my manager would back me up on this), only having to bug other people to find out where things were. I didn’t feel anxious or stressed about being there, and that’s probably why I lasted as long as I did.
Did you know that if you spend five years sitting down, then try to stand on your feet for five hours on hard tile, your body will be in crippling pain before the day is halfway over?
I don’t mean like, feet aching whiny pain. No, this was literally-cannot-continue-to-stand-up pain, which was getting worse by the day instead of better as I got used to it. I was popping more and more Aleve with less and less effect. On the last day that I worked there, I spent the last two hours of my shift mostly sitting; I would try to get up and chop things, and I could stand for maybe two minutes. So I would sit down for another ten minutes, and do it all over again. I cried on the way home. The next day, I talked to my manager, and we agreed it wasn’t working. They needed someone who could stand for a full shift and do work. I didn’t want to steal their time and money sitting down when I was supposed to be working.
My heart broke, because I really wanted this job. It seems stupid to really want a job in a grocery store, but . . . . it clicked so well. Everything fell into place beautifully in my mind. And I loved being in the big kitchen, I loved serving customers. I keep having dreams about going back into work, and in my dreams I haven’t really quit–or maybe I think they haven’t noticed I quit–but there’s a disturbed undercurrent that plucks at my heartstrings while I sleep. Because I know I can’t do it and I know it’s too late, it’s gone–the flowing water has not stopped for me; it has passed on and I wasn’t ready for it.
I feel like I’m drowning in it.
The solution seems easy but my brain just won’t wrap around it; I can look for a job where I don’t have to stand, and I can start building my strength back up, it’s not that hard, it’s really not so hard. Any sense of normalcy seems so far away, though. The stupid Asperger’s, it’s so stupid sometimes–all I feel like doing is curling up in a little cocoon and never coming back out, giving into the autistic parts of my brain and burrowing down forever. Slipping away from everything is the easiest thing in the world for me; I like being wrapped up in myself, I prefer it by nature and coming out again is the hardest thing. I’m going to miss my life if I don’t figure out how to be alive again, but it’s so nice in my little black velvet cocoon that the little ember inside me can’t seem to compete with the desire to stay snuggled in.
I’m tired of treading water to stay afloat, I’m so tired.
I’m so tired.
Hello, personal blog. How are you? I haven’t been here much lately. This is set to be a long, personal, and possibly very boring post. I apologize. You don’t have to read it if you don’t want. I just have to write it.
Yesterday, something kind of awesome happened:
Yes, we got a pretty new car. Which makes us a two-car family again for the first time since 2008.
These past few years have been mightily rough for us, in a number of ways. You might remember that we were so broke in 2008 that we were almost ten grand in credit card debt trying to float the bills, because we made the somewhat badly-timed decision to move across the country and start a new chapter of our lives just as the economy was tanking. (This decision I made on some bad advice from an ex-friend, who assured me that the economy in Columbus was “fine.” I really, really should have done more research about that.) I was still having workplace issues from the nervous breakdown I suffered when I worked at Starbucks; I couldn’t work a job for more than a week or two before I started having massive panic attacks. Finally, literally a week before we were going to give up and move back to California because we couldn’t pay the next month’s rent or bills, or buy groceries, my husband got a job.
Eventually, I started looking for a job, and I discovered a curious thing: nobody wanted to hire me because I didn’t have a car. I didn’t remember this being an issue before, but then, employers didn’t have their pick of dozens of candidates before; why hire someone who didn’t have independent transportation? I could have lied and said that I did, indeed, have my own car, but I’m kind of anti-lying. Because Mr. Geek absolutely needed the car to get to his job, I gave up looking for work until I had my own car.
We’ve been trying to buy another car for–well, awhile. Six months, seven months? After we paid down the lion’s share of our credit card debt–or, as was the case for some of it, transferred it into low-interest long-term student loan debt by using my living expense loans to pay those bills–we were able to save up enough to buy a second car. We needed to do this anyway, because the car we have now is a total piece of crap. (It’s not the car’s fault. It was a salvage title and we were kind of defrauded when we bought the car.) It runs, but there’s so much wrong with it that could be catastrophically wrong at any time, that we were uncomfortable having it as our primary car. So we shopped around. And we shopped around. And we shopped around some more, and we discovered something very interesting: the used car market in Columbus sucks. It really does. Every car we ran across that looked promising was a salvage title, or it had been in accidents, or some other bullshitty thing was going on, such as the gentleman who was trying to sell us a car that he didn’t legally own, because he had never transferred the title into his name. There were dealers trying to sell cars as private parties who had owned the car for maybe a month; we wanted to find an owner who had owned and driven the car, hence, why we wanted to buy private party.
In the end, we decided to use the cash we’d saved as a down-payment on a newer car with lower mileage. The idea is to have this car for another decade or so and take good care of it, rather than taking a chance on another mystery car that could have major hidden problems. We found one in a nearby city that was a pretty good deal, and we finally, finally pulled the trigger and bought a car.
This unleashed a cascade of emotions in me that I now realize I had been tamping down for years.
Because of the 2008 financial disaster–and by that, I mean ours specifically–we’ve been living fairly frugally. We only go out a few times a month, if that, and never anywhere nice (I can’t tell you the last time we saw a film for full price when it first came out); we buy clothes from the thrift store, or out-of-season on sale; and I will admit it to you here: I practically had to beg to get a cell phone. We literally fought about getting a cell phone for over a year. The only major purchases (other than the cars, one of which was out of desperate necessity when the hood of our Camry flew off while Mr. Geek was driving it) that we’ve made since 2008 have been my laptop and plane tickets to visit Mr. Geek’s mom in California a few months ago. Almost all of our extra money has either gone to paying down debt or socking it into savings. In our minds, we’ve created the idea that we’re extremely poor because of this. Extra expenditures–even small ones, even necessary ones–were often greeted by Mr. Geek with stress reactions, frustration, even anger, because he was working long hours and we never felt like we were getting ahead.
You can imagine, this hasn’t been awesome for our marriage. Luckily, our love is made of sterner stuff, and we’ve weathered these rough times.
I’ve also been a total hermit these past few years. I haven’t wanted to buy a bus pass because they’re kind of expensive. I hate asking people for rides, because I’m almost thirty years old and I don’t want to be a fucking bum. So, I’ve been penned up in my house–mostly perched right where I am now, on the corner of the couch, whiling away my time on the internet, trying to be productive. Waiting. Waiting for life to start back up again. Waiting to be me again. And now that we both have cars? I feel like the world has opened back up.
I have been overwhelmed.
The night before we were going to pick up the car, we didn’t feel elated about having bought a car. We felt anxious. We both knew that we were on a life-changing course. How much tension will be eased when I’m finally able to go back to work (as nervous, as oh-so-nervous as that prospect makes me)? How will we feel now that we don’t have to fret constantly about the Mazda breaking down, since it’s no longer our primary car? And we still even have some savings, so we’re not totally down to the wire anymore. It’s like waking up from a long nightmare. This prompted a bout of near-mania for me; I was emoting constantly (and broadcasting such–apologies again), unable to dull my internal chatter, unable to keep myself from expressing said chatter.
For me, this also means incredible freedom. I don’t have to plan my days around a small window of mobility. I can go anywhere I want, anytime I want. I can resume some of my old habits–if I can remember them–like going to multiple grocery stores instead of buying everything at the Kroger down the street because it’s all I have time to do. I can go to the gym on my own time. I can go out for a cup of coffee with a friend, or dinner in the evening. Shit, I can have a social life again without having to beg rides. I could join a club. I can become independent again. Even if the Mazda does break down, with a reliable primary car, we wouldn’t have any compunction picking up a cheap car that might break down. We have more security now. This is dizzying, exciting and frightening all at once.
But mostly exciting.
Even though I could and probably should host this list over at IB, it was weird trying to find a place to fit it in where it wasn’t kind of in the way. Do I make a page? Make it its own post? But does each of our 1000+ email subscribers really need to be notified of that post? Fuck. So I decided to host it here, on my blog, since most people are hosting it at THEIR personal blogs.
The challenges that I am accepting from the Award-Winning Reading Challenge:
Full-Frontal. You are not fucking around here–you want to read the best and the brightest, and a lot of them, even if it kills you. Your challenge is to read three (3) full-length books written by Nobel laureates; three (3) full-length novels that won the Pulitzer Prize; three (3) books that won the Man Booker Prize; and one (1) book (or one book from one author) each from the following: the PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction; the National Book Award for Fiction; and the Neustadt International Prize for Literature.
Jet-Setter. You find variety oh-so-spicy; it warms you up like a summer curry served you by a handsome, muscular cabana boy wearing a brilliant smile and little else. Ahem. Anywho, your task, should you choose to accept it, is to read the following, which may come from the Nobel list, the Neustadt list, the Jerusalem Prize list, the Ovid Prize list, or the literature category of the Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service list: 1 book from Canada, the U.S., or Mexico; 1 book from Central America/the Caribbean; 1 book from South America; 1 book from Africa; 2 books, one not-originally-English, from western Europe; 1 book from Eastern Europe; 1 book from Australia; 2 books from Asia (preferably one from western Asia and one from eastern Asia).
Oh, but that’s not all! I’m also accepting these challenges from The Global Domination Reading Challenge:
Day Tripper. New to foreign literature? Short on reading time and need to be economical? Start with this challenge. Read the following for a total of six books: 1 book from Latin or South America; 1 non-English book from Europe; 1 book from Africa; 1 book from Asia; 1 non-United States English book; and 1 book from the Middle East. (Note: If you’re not from the U.S., and you don’t primarily read U.S. literature, please make an appropriate substitution if you like–ie, if you’re from France, read an American book instead of the European book. Or you can do the challenge as-is. If you choose to sub in an American author, please let us know where you’re from wherever you keep track of the challenge.) (Six books total.)
Conquistador(a). Oh, what’s that? You’re a world literary master? You’ve got so much global cred you add “Int’l” after your name? To complete this challenge, do the Day Tripper requirements. Then choose three regions and read two more books apiece from those regions. (Twelve books total.)
Check out my list-specifics after the jump.
The letter that I am writing you today is a love letter. It’s a love letter because I love WordPress. I have tried Blogger; even before the somewhat recent exodus, I was never a Blogger fan. I have tried LiveJournal (no no no). I have tried other sites that I can’t even remember because I ran away as quickly as humanly possible. WordPress has ruined me for other blog experiences, I love it so much.
That having been said, I think there are some improvements that can be made to WordPress. Although I find it a very powerful blogging platform, my main issues are not with the functionality (which I love) but with the limitations of blog design (which frustrate me regularly). I’m not going to call for everyone to be able to customize their CSS for free or put scripts and flash willy-nilly on their blogs. I was a member of MySpace before it tanked and I’ve seen what happens when code falls into the wrong hands. It’s frightening, and I don’t want to go there, and I don’t want you to go there. Problems still remain for the serious user, however, that need to be addressed, and I would like to outline two of them for you right now.
Problem #1: Finding the “right” theme for your WordPress.com blog can take hours, if not all day, if not a few days, because of a serious lack of customization options.
I started a new WordPress blog recently with friends (not my second or third blog but more like my fifth or sixth–it’s a sickness), and I groaned when I realized I was going to have to go through the rigmarole of Finding A Theme. Not the “perfect” theme, I’m not a perfectionist, just a theme that doesn’t have dealbreakers. (Some examples of dealbreakers: fonts that I find hard to read or that don’t flow with my design, colors that don’t go with my color scheme, weird link or text colors that make the blog less readable, banner areas that are too small, not being able to hide the header text if I am using a banner, and once, a design feature that pushed the comments on a post down below my sidebars because the comments section was the full width of both the post and sidebar areas–I really loved that theme, and was told that it is a “design feature” and wouldn’t be changed, even though it doesn’t make sense at all for the comments to be pushed down below the sidebars!) Once I eliminate the themes that don’t have options that I need, such as custom header, custom background, and sidebars, and once I eliminate the themes with dealbreakers, I’m scrambling to find a theme that I can live with. Not that I like, but that I can live with.
Solution: Create a core of themes with powerful customization options.
It seems WordPress is always coming out with new themes to satisfy the masses, but I think focusing on a core of dynamic, versatile themes for the advanced user would be excellent. (It would also probably cause more people to use WordPress.com instead of biting the bullet and being self-hosted, which means more ad revenue for you guys, right?!) This is what I would like, ideally, out of my theme experience:
- I choose a basic theme–one of the new core themes that I’m proposing. Perhaps it’s a magazine-style theme, which might have a few different grid-based layout options, or it’s a two- or three-column theme. Unlike Sandbox, these are finished themes that can be used right away without looking like a naked page from 1996, but they’re extremely basic. They come with a title, a menu bar, basic widget areas. They lack design flourishes that might not appeal to some, and are sleek and minimalist.
- I choose my layout option. I think it would be worth noting here that some elements besides columns could be able to be moved or removed–take the menu bar, for example. Menu bar placement is all CSS, so it stands to reason that one should be able to customize it through the Theme Options menu, since the menu bar could be placed in multiple places depending on the classes and IDs used–or removed altogether. I say this because I use the Pilcrow theme at my book review blog and I really like it, for the most part–except for the fact that I intensely dislike my menu bar being above my header. Since the header is designed to catch interest and draw the eye down the page, it makes little sense for my navigation to be above the header, where it’s most likely to be missed. I find this to be a design flaw and I am loath to pay for custom CSS to change this one element. (I also really hate that the font is in all-caps and is so huge, but more on that below.)
- I am able to change standardized theme options easily. For themes with custom headers, for example, I think all of them should have the option of hiding the header text and, as I touched on above with the menu bar rant, not affecting the overall design if we choose to use the header as a banner rather than a supporting image to the header text. (Even if you still use the text, the whole thing about drawing down the eye still applies.) There’s nothing that I find more frustrating when trying to customize my blog design than when I find a theme I really like and find out that there’s a significant option missing that most other themes have.
- I am able to change other options that have not been available in most themes heretofore. I would like more control over basic blog theme elements–such as font. There are some themes I really, really would like to love, that have really, really icky fonts–or fonts that I find icky, anyway. I think having drop-down menus in the Theme Options that allow me to change the font, font-size, and font-color (and link color, which is an option in a theme or two, so I know this can be done) should be a option–not just the basic text font but also headers, the blog header, the text of the drop-down menu. I appreciate that the designers of the individual themes thought that the fonts were a good idea, but that doesn’t mean I am going to like them. I also think being able to customize the colors on certain elements, like the menu bar, would be great, and I think it would be extremely feasible since it’s a guided customization, if you will–I’m not going in and screwing around with the code myself, I’m pointing to colors in a drop-down menu, or font names. I could have more control over my design and I wouldn’t break my blog or insert bad code on accident.
I know that creating such a customizable design would be a major undertaking. I also think that it would be wildly popular. You could definitely still keep all of the old themes for people who don’t want to customize their blog so much, and continue to create pretty themes (although I would urge you to standardize the old themes for stuff like hiding the header text when being able to use a custom header). Even though this would definitely have to be a free theme (otherwise, I’d just pay for the CSS customization and do it myself), I think the benefits could be enormous by bringing in a ton of new users who don’t use WordPress because they don’t like that they can’t customize enough. Blogger seems to be alienating a lot of users right now; I know several who have jumped ship since they rolled out their changes. I bet WordPress could scoop up even more of them.
Problem #2: Widget envy.
I know I don’t have to explain this one, I’m sure you guys get it all the time. Let me be the first to say that I applaud the control that you guys exert over your site’s hosted blogs. (See again, MySpace 2007.) I don’t think we should have the ability to add our own scripts to our blogs. I agree with you on that. So how do we overcome this issue==an issue which has actually led some people I know to leave WordPress so they can have third-party widgets? (And probably many others, those are just the ones I know.)
Solution: If possible, work with some of the most popular sites to design enhanced widgets that we can add through the widget menu, while still prohibiting people to add their own scripts to the site.
Even if you can’t selectively add flash or script-based widgets without allowing users to add them to their own blogs, it would be great to have more WordPress options like we have with Twitter for other popular sites (Etsy, Zazzle, Goodreads, Shelfari, whatever other sites the kids like to visit these days). Again, I know this is going to take time and effort, but I also know for a fact that this is an issue that literally keeps people from using WordPress. I imagine that many sites would be more than happy to do a good deal of the work to help integrate themselves into WordPress, since it’s such a popular tool and it would increase traffic from WordPress to their sites. Win-win-win.
With just a few improvements, WordPress.com could effectively become the Supreme Benevolent Overlords of the Blogging Universe. WordPress is already amazing, and I have no intention of moving elsewhere unless something even more amazing comes along, but I figure a little constructive feedback never hurts. Unless you’re really sensitive, in which case, I’m sorry :( I didn’t mean to hurt you.
Whether you love or hate Regretsy, only the most insane conspiracy theorists can deny that Regretsy and the Regretsy community do some kickass charitable giving. This year, April Winchell, the Queen of our fat jealous loser brigade at Regretsy, organized a charitable drive for needy children to get Christmas gifts. She popped a “donate” button on her blog, and the donations started pouring in–so much so that April announced that there would be even more giving. Oh, such giving there would be.
Take a minute to go read it, seriously. Then come back.
If you didn’t take a minute to go read it, here’s an inappropriate, dramatic interpretation of what happened:
PayBuddy: Hey, dude, you can’t use that button on your website. Cos, like, you’re not a charity or whatever.
April: Oh, shit, my bad.
PayBuddy: Yeah, you’re going to have to manually refund all of the transactions.
April: … that’s, like, so many transactions. Okay, I’ll do it. (aside) Hmm, I still need the money to make sure these families have an awesome Christmas. Since
I can’t use the donate button unless I am a charity I was told that I can’t use the donate button unless I am a charity, I will use a “buy now” button and people can buy the gifts. Off I go to my website to correct this honest mistake!
PayBuddy: Um, yeah, so . . . . you can’t do that either. You are going to have to refund all of the money you collected last night.
PayBuddy: You’re not really selling specific items? So like, um, it’s still the same thing with a different button? and you’re not a charity? So, we’re kind of onto your sneaky, underhanded generosity, and like, even though all we said yesterday was that you can’t use the donate button because you’re not a charity, we’re telling you now that you also can’t do charity through the buy now button.
April: ……… Okay, I really don’t get this. I see donate buttons every-damn-where, and a lot of them are not charities.
PayBuddy: Oh, non-charities can totally use the donate button, just not for charity. You can raise money to help your sick cat, for example, but not poor people. (NOTE: THE LAST SENTENCE WAS ACTUALLY UTTERED BY A REPRESENTATIVE)
April: Um. Can I speak to your supervisor?
PayBuddy: NO ONE ABOVE ME WILL TALK TO YOU. No one at my level ever makes phone calls. We’re only doing this to help you. (NOTE: This is another one that was actually uttered by a representative. Caps emphasis mine.)
April: … can I individually sell each individual toy on my website? Then send them to the needy families?
PayBuddy: AS IF. No website is going to let you BUY something and have it sent to a person who isn’t YOU! [Except, of course, almost every website that will send items as gifts.--GGG] Besides, if you want to sell them individually, you’ll have to do it from a whole new website. And also I think this is all very reasonable of us, considering how clear and understandable our policies about charitable giving are, and how easy they are to find from the pages that are pushing you to use a donate button for your website. [Hint: they're not. Which you will see soon.--GGG]
April’s head explodes.
PayBuddy: Oh, hey, P.S.? We’re totally keeping all of the fees we assessed for each donation that you’re refunding. I’m going to make a big pile out of that money to lay on while I sodomize your corpse. [Not actually said by PayPal representative, but in my opinion, strongly implied.]
Now, because we who populate the comments section of Regretsy are a bunch of hateful, spiteful assholes, by all accounts from people who are too good to deign to visit such a nasty website, the next logical step was for us to lash out at PayPal, bringing our fat, jealous loser-wrath down upon their heads. As some people tried to point out on Twitter, Regretsy clearly violated PayPal’s Acceptable Use Agreement and therefore, we should stuff our butthurt and shut the hell up about it.
Except that, while I am not a lawyer, I’m pretty sure that Regretsy didn’t violate the AUP at all and that PayPal owes April and all of the families whose Christmases aren’t going to be as good as they were a few days ago a raging apology.
Evidence after the jump.