Thursday, September 29, 2011

Murder by Gaslight


Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented to the victim with the intent of making them doubt their own memory and perception. It may simply be the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, or it could be the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.

So, perhaps you heard about the gay teen who killed himself last week. I'm referring to Jamey Rodemeyer, however if you typed in gay teen suicide I'm sure his is not the only name that will pop up. Or perhaps bullied teen suicide. I bet Google would have a lot of hits for that. If you'd typed that in a year ago, or the year before that, there would still have been a lot of news articles to read. So this is not the first time it's happened, nor will it be the last. We need to stop sweeping it under the rug when the sensationalism has died down.

I feel bad for the kid, and worse for his family. Especially considering that even after his death, the bullies continue to harass his family. What really bothers me, though, are the bully apologists. It's not their fault. He was mentally disturbed. He would have done it anyway. Well, you know what? I'm not interested in helping murderers sleep better at night. I've seen the videos this kid made, and I don't think he would have. I think he was gaslighted by bullies who were enabled by their parents and their school to kill him. Those bullies are murderers, and they're being allowed to get away with it. More than that, they are being allowed to brag about it, and perhaps turn their murderous intentions on that boys family.

I believe that we need laws in place to prevent this kind of thing. Perhaps children and teens who harrass each other at school should be considered juvenile offenders and given public service sentences. Perhaps three strikes and you're kicked out of public school permanently, having forfeited your right to a public education. You wouldn't allow rabid dogs to roam your school, and bullies should be seen in that light, viciously tearing at other students and turning a place of learning into a torture chamber. Why is it the bullied who is generally pulled out and homeschooled, not the monsters who hurt them? Why is it the innocent who lose their future and not the criminal?

As laws are slow, I have some ideas. Your phones have video capacity, don't they? If you see another kid being bullied, film it. Surreptitiously, if possible. Then email that video to kid's parents, the bullies parents, the school principal, your congressman, anybody, and everybody. When people talk about bullies, they look at that young, smiling face in the yearbook and they think, it's just a kid. He's not evil, he's a kid. They need to see how ugly he or she looks when they are psychologically torturing someone. The profane look of glee as they hurt someone, as each word tears a spiritual hole. The smug look that says, if I can hurt you, I can feel superior. I'm not talking about those obnoxious fight club videos that kids post to show they kick ass, even though those show evil pretty well too. I'm talking about capturing and showing the true faces of bullies so everyone can see.

For those who don't know what I'm talking about.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/20/jamey-rodemeyer-suicide-gay-bullying_n_972023.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/29/jamey-rodemeyers-suicide-_n_987054.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/27/jamey-rodemeyer-bullied-after-death_n_983926.html

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mean Kids


So, lately the bullying talk is sparking everywhere. Is is a normal, natural thing that should be allowed? Or is is a destructive force that should be punished? Well, as someone who was bullied, my opinion is pretty clear. Oh, I was generally not singled out, and beaten or anything. Just the minor day-to-day cruelties heaped on me unthinkingly by people who believe they are entitled to hurt anyone they please, whenever they please.

Now, you might wonder at my use of the word people, rather than kids, or teens. Well, as far as I am concerned, people are people, whether old or young. I tend to believe that who you are at 8 years old is who you are at 80, deep down. All that change is really surface stuff, and if you feel entitled to hurt people at 8, you probably feel entitled all your life.

I have heard the arguments. Bullies make you strong. Being pushed around gets kids ready for the real world. Well, in the real world it is not okay, or legal, for people to harass you at your job. Also, if being bullied prepares you for the real world, then the bullies themselves are not prepared, are they?

I was looking through my freshman yearbook. I noticed that I had viciously scratched out the pictures of a bunch of people. I don't remember these people. To my adult eyes, they look just like any other teen - fresh-faced, smiling, relatively innocent. However, I vaguely remember when I got that yearbook, I went through and scratched out the pictures of everyone who ever had even the slightest mean word for me, and circled the ones who had ever shown me even the most offhand kindness. The were far more scratched out than circled.

This tells me what bullies really do. They teach mild-mannered pacifist types like me to hate. Yes, I am very mild in general, slow to anger, and deeply against violence. However, steeped in teen hormones and casually treated like crap, I hated these people. They were walking down the hallway a week, a month, hell several months later, and when I saw them, I directed a bolt of hate their way, which generally they were unaware of.

I was quiet. A reader. I wore heavy metal t-shirts, wore no makeup, and had probably the worst haircut ever. After the initial nastiness, these people probably never gave me another thought. And yet, as they wandered through their day, thinking about homework, classes, boyfriends or girlfriends, there was someone out there, silently hating them. It makes me think of all those cop dramas where they ask the victim's family or friends if there was anyone who would want to hurt them, and the family says something like "No! Everyone loved Joe Blow! He was great!". How would they know, if Joe was casually horrible to someone two months ago. Someone he didn't know, or even remember.

So, no, I don't think bullying is okay, and a necessary part of life. I don't think it teaches life skills to either party. I don't think it makes anyone stronger. I don't think that people should feel like mistreatment of others is normal, natural and consistent with being the good guy (which everyone thinks they are). I think that attitude should be corrected as soon as possible. Because if it isn't, when someday you have some emotionally fragile furious stalker who may or may not become dangerous, I will find it very hard to have any sympathy for you, and my usual way is to have sympathy for nearly everyone. Because as angry and bitter as I may sound to you, I don't wish anyone any harm. Not even those nameless people who were mean to me a million years ago when I was just an overgrown child struggling to get through my day.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Acceptance


I have always been a bit of a rebel in my own quiet way. My grandfather used to say I was a Maverick, and this was long before that word was dumbed down by certain politicians. The fact is, I never understood why I should care what other people thought of me. I mean, my family, my friends, sure. Some random person I don't know? I'm not sure why their opinion should have any meaning to me.

Now, I am a woman of my generation. We have been sold self-hatred on an epic scale and I am not immune. However, when people talk about style, or cool, it really doesn't matter to me where I fall on their personal scale. Whether that person is a random teen (or MommyBlogger) online, or the editor of a fashion magazine. Their opinion is so much worthless intangible gibberish. If I agree with them, I can like that about them. If I disagree, I've forgotten them before I finished reading the sentence.

That said, I realize now that honestly not caring about the world in generals opinion of me is not completely the norm. Which is why I save most of my ire for those who perpetuate self-hatred to those who are not as disengaged as I am. For most, it is harder to disregard those who embody the world's opinion. It is wrong to put all that self-loathing out there. We, as human beings, should not accept self-hatred as the normal state of things. If we are encouraged to feel bad about ourselves, we should say "Hell no!". We should be angry at those who prey on those feelings, not insecure that those people feel we don't measure up.

I am not cool. I am not a world-renowned beauty. I don't have a best-selling diet, self-help or fashion book, blog or show. To the world at large, I am nobody. Which is fine with me. In my own world, if I am incommunicado for even a couple hours, there are people I love preparing to call the cops. I matter in my world. And I will say this to anyone who might stumble across this. You matter in yours. You are a beautiful, worthwhile person who does not need to fit in with the cool kids. Be you. Be a great version of you. Embrace what makes you unique. Don't listen to those who want you to feel bad, so you will buy stuff or so they can feel better about themselves. In the grand scheme of things, they don't matter to the world at large either. Be a rockstar in your life, and don't let the talkboxes out there chew you up and spit you out, or worse, press you firmly into a mold and make you less than human.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bad Days


You ever have one of those days when everything goes wrong? Yeah. I had one of those yesterday, coming on the heels of a rough week. One of those days when I wish I hadn't had to grow up and it could still be 1985 and I could be eating Froot Loops in front of the Saturday cartoons with my brothers right now. One of those days when I feel like a complete failure at everything and a total waste of space.

I don't have days like that very often anymore. I think my husband was a bit startled. It's been awhile. Depression runs through my family like other families have blue eyes. So, I am no stranger to despair. However, much of my adult life has been about learning to manage that. I have had some success. Every now and then though, our demons get the best of us.

However, one of the big things that I have learned came into play with great success. Ask for help. Or ask for encouragement. Or just ask for a shoulder to cry on. Maybe it seems weak to some, but simply asking for help will a lot of times get it for you. A little help goes a long way. It tells you that you are worth the effort. With this message ringing in your heart, sometimes you can find the strength to try again.

So that is where I am today. A bit battered, mostly by myself, but getting back up. I'm trying again. I'm not down for the count yet. Why? Because I asked for help. My husband helped out last night in person, and some online friends offered encouragement online, and I offered myself a good night's rest and some time with a good book. Today, I have been cautiously hopeful. Certainly I have not been raining down emotional abuse on myself. With a deep breath and a little work, maybe I won't have another day like yesterday for a very long time.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Nice


I consider myself a pretty nice person. I'm usually patient, and I don't sweat the small stuff. However, I also consider myself a bit of a wimp. After being ill for a couple of days, dealing with sick twins, and then having no sleep, I ran out of nice. I'm not sure if I would have run out so loudly if I also hadn't been wracked with guilt. There is something about guilt that makes every bad feeling worse.

So last night, I had one of those moments when you don't like yourself. When you are ashamed of yourself. When you cringe at this ugly moment you are indulging in. I stomped around and yelled while dealing with a sick toddler. Yeah. Terrible mommy moment. I have lots of great excuses, but it doesn't change the fact that I feel like a jerk. Luckily, my husband chose this time to step in. It was probably his turn anyway.

Of course, I've spent the morning making it up to him, despite little sleep, still feeling ill, and distressing dreams where my father has died. I held him while he screamed in my ear, wiped snot, administered baby motrin and rocked him while he finally calmed down. I cooed at him, and told him I loved him, and that I'm sorry I was such a mean mommy. He stroked my hair and leaned his tired head against my cheek.

He's sleeping now, as is his brother. His brother is mostly over the cold and has been a little ray of sunshine all morning. I could be napping too, but I'm not going to. I don't want any more nightmares today, and anyway, I'm dressed down to my lace-up shoes. Here's hoping we all get better soon, and our cup of nice is refilled.

Friday, March 25, 2011

HIstory


You know that old saying about forgetting history? Well, sometimes it seems like some people would dearly love for us to forget our history. People who forget are much easier to bamboozle. Today is that 100th anniversary of The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Many people are commemorating it. It is one of those tragedies than needs to be remembered, out of respect for those who died, and for the hard lessons it forced on our nation.

I love history. I am not great with names and dates, but I feel a great connection with the humans who have come before me. When I read history I learn about how they lived, and died. The people from our past had lives not so different from ours. Sure, they didn't have iPhones, or internet, but they worked, loved, laughed and suffered. They held their babies close and they stood in front of graves. It is easy to look at their stuffy clothes and consider how things have changed and feel that we have come a long, long way.

Well, we haven't. Sure, we have got it pretty good, in a lot of ways, compared to them. However, some things haven't changed, and some have worsened. It is important to remember that every single inch of improvement we as a people, as a society, have gotten has been fought for, tooth and nail. Also, that anything we stop fighting for will be taken away. The world at large does not care about us. Business does not care about human cost, only bottom lines. If we take something for granted, it will slip away from us and it will be just as hard a fight to get it back.

So today, we remember The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. We remember the workers who perished and the working conditions that made it happen. Also, think of the people of 1911 suddenly realizing that the business world does not value human life. Suddenly, they were forced to speak up and protest. Suddenly, they realized that to be treated as human being, they must demand it. Loudly. It would be nice to live in a world where being treated with basic human dignity and respect were a given, but let us not delude ourselves into believing that shining idea is a reality.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mortals


I have been thinking a lot lately about beauty. It is subjective and ephemeral. Part of the reason a rose is so achingly lovely is that it is temporary. Even as we bask in the color, scent, and silken texture of it, it is dying. Children are beautiful because this glowing moment of bright eyes, perfect skin, and rounded cheeks is a moment in time. Enjoyable as it is to look at something that is beautiful, I think it is important to be clear on something. Beauty has no intrinsic value.
I think it is important to state this because as I read articles, news stories, blogs and editorials that this absolute truth has been completely obscured. Plastic surgery, botox, little girls dressing like pop stars, pop stars dressing like strippers, and an entire culture of people whose self-worth is completely valued on what they perceive other people's opinions of their looks to be. Don't get me wrong. I am not immune. I have been dieting on and off since I was a teenager. I own make-up, and enjoy looking nice. What bothers me is the idea of passing these very skewed cultural values on to my children.
I have come to the conclusion that plastic surgery should be considered some kind of scam. Barring plastic surgery for people who are actually deformed through birth defect, illness or injury it is simply preying on vulnerable people. In what world do larger breasts make anyone truly happy? It just feeds into the idea that your body is the only thing you have of value. The money would be much better spent on therapy, while you volunteered to help the sick or poor and connected to what it really is like to be a human.
The body is a shell, a home if you will. Keep it healthy and in good repair, by all means. However, do not mutilate it into something inhuman. Would you risk your life for new curtains for your home? Then why take the genuine risk of death for a tummy tuck? I'm sorry to have to break the news, but humans are mortal. We age and die. It is a fact and always has been. There is nothing shameful about this. Let's stop being ashamed of aging. Age never stopped anyone from being amazing. Wrinkles do not prevent sexiness. Younth is nice, but it is not important and is not the only way to be beautiful. You can be lovely at 60 and make no attempt to look younger.
Okay, so you expect me to end with "True Beauty Come From Within". Well, no. Beauty is just one thing. Your worth and value come from within, and from what you create in the world. I know some will say that is just something unattractive people say. I have had my shining moments, and my husband still finds me very attractive. However, my self-worth is not based on my physical person. I love the body that carried twins, that kisses my husband, and that luxuriates on the clean sheets. It is only part of what my life is though, and most of the people who truly value you will not rank your appearance in your top ten traits.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Favorites


So today I was reading about moms having favorites. Not favorite pasta or shirts, but favorite kids. At face value it's pretty shocking. However, when you think about a favorite being a temporary preference based on behavior, mood, or even life stage it is so commonplace that one wonders why it is a topic at all. I was certainly not my parent's favorite when I was a sullen teen prone to emotional outbursts. I am not appalled by this knowledge. I have twins. People often ask me if I have a favorite, or if one is smarter, stronger, cuddlier, etc. In the case of favorites, I always say something silly.

"The one I'm holding is always my favorite."

"The one not screaming is my favorite."

"There aren't actually two of them, one is an imaginary friend."

I do get a little defensive when asked to say which one is more intelligent, or personable. I mean, they are not even two years old. It seems a bit early to pigeonhole them into specific types. So, I will begin extolling both their virtues. It is times like this that I do have a favorite. The one that is being compared unfavorably to the other. Mama tiger I suppose. One is being attacked and I must protect him.

Worrying about favorites in general seems a bit silly to me. As if one were in third grade and making a big production over who your best friend is this year. So, I'm not. I'm not going to worry. This concept is not a problem for me. I have plenty of stuff to worry about. I will just be thankful that favorite is not one of them.

Excuse me, I have to read this note, and pass it to Stinky by lunch.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Opening Lines...


Now comes the obligatory introduction to my Blog. Perhaps an explanation. I don't know. I'm not great at blogs. I've tried before. I'm a busy woman, and fairly introverted. However, it seems like a good idea, again. So here we go.
I will paraphrase a favorite author. Maira Kalman.

I want to say, before anything,
that love
is very important.

Call me Marj
Marj the dreamer
Marj the mother
Marj the lover.

My dream is to live a good life.
To live a good life and be a great mother.

As for paraphrasing, if you have not yet read it, treat yourself to Max Makes a Million. It's an amazing picture book with modern art styling, humor, heart and a beat vibe.

For the nitty gritty details, check out my About Me section. As for what's on my mind today, the great joy of grandparents. Not mine, as I have none. I lost my last one before Christmas. My children's grandparents. They are watching my boys today for a few hours. Normally I would try to get stuff done while they are gone. Today, I'm feeling a bit under the weather, so I'm sure I'll mostly sleep. Okay, to be honest, I often sleep and goof off on these amazing afternoons of freedom. I should get stuff done. So I plan to, and feel guilty when I don't. Ah well. Good intentions and all that.