Boys Will Be Men

(another vignette from the daily writing log; based on a series of dreams I’ve had this week)

I saw a skeleton, lightly jogging down my street. I slowed to let her pass, and she smiled at me. She said: “Black is the color of mystery, of seeking. It’s not on our rainbow, because it is a self outside the spectrum.” I told her I didn’t know what all that was supposed to mean, but that I’d share it all the same. Immortalize ignorance in novel significance until the day of dawning came. 

Earlier than this, I dreamed. I had slighted Anubis, and the god was determined to crack down on me. I had eaten the fruit filled plesantry of a pastry before I entered the realm of oblivion. It was a peach I’d been commanded to leave be. Somehow, I’d forgotten, staring death and all his friends down while my comrade in anarchy bid me to flee from resurrected toots sweets who gave chase with cannibalistic intent. And, of course, I’d left my pants somewhere. Finding them, halfway through the flee, I pulled them on as we ran and dared you ask the adage, who wears the pants between me and you? It’s obvious. We both do. Welcome platitudes of the English language to the KNEW Generation. He was raised by a woman alone who shatters glass windows. And, I reckon, most days, I raised myself. So we are on equal footing. Black shoes. Scuffed, and worn, and brand new. 

Boys will be men and so the pictures they see could be sacred text. Or we could just continue to live the life on “Repeat.” 

Miss Misconception Says Sexism is Gross

Jumping right in…I have had a hell of a day. I made over $1,000 for the coffee shop today in drinks and pastries, and took home 10% of that via my pay. I had the conversation the other day with Ken that it is not myself I (and pretty much everyone else) am working to support. I am working to support the upper crust. Perhaps they have earned their place up above us peons, but that is neither here nor there. The fact of the matter is that I’m working to support faceless entities in their wealth with my blood, sweat and tears. In return, I am paid just enough money that I can keep afloat to continue working for them. This is not just my company. This is not just me. This is nationwide. And (sorry) raising the minimum wage isn’t going to help…

This message has been brought to you by AnnaRK.

Moving on…There are some other unsettling issues that came across my consciousness today that I feel smack of a certain intolerability that I would like to share them with the readers. Not that anything can really be done about any of this, but I feel that knowledge is powerful, and perhaps if your eyes are opened like mine were today, then perhaps we can work towards solution on these. i.e. maybe this infuriating shit won’t happen years from now. Ever hopeful. 

First on the docket was the reminder I got at 8 a.m. this morning that sexism is alive and well. And I got this wake up call from another female who not only realized what she was doing, but thought it a kind of funny irony. It made me feel like spiders were crawling all along my open flesh.

This woman was telling me about a new hire she had brought on to her company, and how she had terrible news about this new hire. Her face, her body language, and her manner conveyed the worst. The woman said to me that she had found out that this new female hire had a health condition, and I was sure that this lady she had hired had terminal cancer or something even worse. 

Imagine my surprise when the company manager revealed to me that her new worker did not have a life threatening illness…no. Her “health condition” was that the new hire was pregnant. The company manager (Reminder: she’s a woman too) let me know that if she had known that this potential hire was pregnant, she would have not hired her. 

Wow. I was honestly speechless. I had heard things like this went on, but I somehow didn’t think I’d ever witness it. In my bubble of naivety, I thought, surely…women aren’t discriminated against getting a job because of what is or isn’t in their womb? I WAS WRONG. And I do understand running a business and picking the best qualified candidate for the job and for the company assets. But, this new hire was chosen because her merits DID co-align with the job description, and yet if she had revealed her personal life, she would have been tossed on the “no” pile as quick as anything. It’s disgusting. It’s even more disturbing because you would think a female company manager would understand the opposition that women face within the workplace and would take this into account.

But, there is sort of a happy ending. Because the young woman whom the company manager was discussing, is hired and she can’t be let go unless she does something that merits her unemployment. Did I mention that this young woman who is pregnant is only 19? Call me idiotic, and perhaps I am to be blogging about this at the risk of someone reading this and connecting the dots, but I’ve got a little more compassion for my fellow humans. It’s not charity, but it is a certain decency that I think got swept away in this instance. I wish this young woman the best of luck and hope that she can prove herself to move up the ranks to where she can assume the job of this company manager and prove to the motherfuckers that a woman is NOT her womb.

Issue no. 2: I should no longer be surprised, but I think my sense of wonder just has a really bad memory. I went into the used book store yesterday to sell a plethora of cds. It was a semi-difficult trip because I was selling cds that had been with me since I began my cd collection in middle school (the horrorshow that all was). Indeed, I sold to the used book store the very first cd I ever received: Faith Hill’s “This Kiss.” Not really a particular gem, but it had sentimentality. Along with it went cds that altogether totalled to hundreds of dollars spent, and the memories attached to their purchase and journey alongside me from every move I’ve made around this small small town. 

It was a difficult thing to put these cds in the box and essentially give them away. They felt like a part of me. They weren’t just property, they were my thoughts, my feelings, my nostalgia that had shaped and molded my blank clay adolescence into the sassy, coffee-slinging feminist doodle-bug crazy that I’ve become. (Yay?) Yet, as soon as the cds had been dragged and lugged and worried over to where they were such a burden to get to that used book store, I felt that letting them go was perfect liberation. The music is still with me. Every time I hear a Third Eye Blind song, I can recall the feelings it has for me. I don’t need the physical object to feel these emotions. And with the physical object gone and out of my life I am able to move about my apartment more freely, with more space, and when I move to my next abode (Anarchist commune, here I come!) I will not have something so silly as heavy plastic to hold me back. I plan on cutting back more and more on my material possessions. Giving things away, little by little, to unburden myself continuously. I’d like to use my scant monies to buy experiences and outings that create these memories that I can always carry with me without an added weight on my Earthly presence.  

The other thing that happened at the book store that made me just shake my head as I stood in the aisle was the Women’s Studies section. If I expected it to be better in the used book store than it was in a corporate book store, I was delusional. I found the section easily again. It was located right beside “Gay Studies,” which was actually four to five shelves overflowing with nothing but Gay Fiction. Because apparently homosexual non-fiction is just too hard for our town to stomach. And the woman’s studies section was ONE shelf of books that looked like a dour mockery of reading as a general concept. I’ll read some pretty insipid stuff just to say I have tried it, but this stuff was bottom barrel. Sigh. Enlightenment is just going to have to wait if you seek it out in a used book store.

Issue 3: (The last one, I promise) Regular readers of the blog will note that I made an announcement last entry. I declared my status as “taken,” and I did so because I believe it is a matter of respect for the other person to make your intentions known in these things. The other end of the coin is that those outside your relationship SHOULD respect your wishes when you make such a status change. Well, I guess this entry is just going to be littered with misconception after missed conception (see what I did there?). Because, the male friends I have in my life just don’t seem to get it. I don’t feel comfortable going over to your house for you to cook me grilled cheese and watch a movie together now that I’m seeing someone. When you push the invite, over my suggestions that we meet up at a public place for hangs, it shows that you don’t respect me, you don’t respect my intentions, and you don’t respect my man. If you did, you would understand that I’m giving you a “soft no” that is really important to pick up on.

I’m not a girl who has a problem with hanging out with male friends once I have entered a relationship. As Erasure says: People are people. And I trust myself to behave appropriately according to my beliefs even when I’m not held to any accountable standard. But, there’s tact. And you just don’t put yourself in situations where you are with a single dude friend at his apartment and he’s cooking you dinner. They make documentaries about this kind of thing!

The problem isn’t my guy friend necessarily. He, and many other guys, don’t understand that pushing someone against their will and their stated intentions into situations is not only “not cool, bro” but it’s borderline predatory. Repeatedly messaging a woman after she has pointedly ignored you and/or made no attempts to further any kind of friendship/relationship between you too, showing up at her apartment after she has repeatedly made excuses not to hang out with you, and constantly making her make these awkward refusals to hang out with you in solitary situations is not good. And yes, this has ALL happened to me, and it has ALL happened again since I made my declaration of being in a relationship. Speaking up and out about my wishes and my intentions fell on deaf ears that seemed to take my message as license to try harder to stake some kind of claim on me.

I read an article this week where this behaviour was denoted as acceptable because it fell under the category of socially awkward. Believe me, socially awkward happens. But the difference between socially awkward people and predatory creepers is that the former party will backtrack as soon as they realize they have made an incorrect move, statement or action as to put another person at unease. The predators and creepers will not backtrack. They will march on, and use the “socially awkward” or scapegoat of the offended party in question and their “unclear message” as reason to continue these violations.

I enjoy being friends with this guy, and I like talking to him about pop culture. He doesn’t realize that he’s creating this wall between us where I want to avoid him and his friendship because of the awkward corner he wants to trap me in. Here’s an article that highlights it a bit better than I am: http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2014/03/socially-awkward-isnt-an-excuse/

So, my question is, do guys have to deal with women endlessly hounding them for access to their private time and space when they have made known that they expend their romantic affections solely on one person? Maybe I’m complaining about first world problems, but it’s just exhausting.

Alright, that’s it. My rant on today’s vicious realities has reached its end. Thanks for reading, and please send me some comments. I’d love to hear other perspectives on these issues.

-Anna R. Kotopple

Relationship Status: Who Cares?

The options this morning, pre lunch date with my fab blog partner in crime, were to either start a load of laundry OR blog. Need I say more?

Well, hopefully I’ll say a lot more, because, otherwise, you fine people will have no mental condundrums to dine upon. And I’ve been told an idle mind is a terrible thing to taste. (Or something like that) I stall…hey ho…but here’s the crux at the epicicenter of my daily terror and confusion I manage to get out of life each day (not that I’m complaining)…

I’m in a relationship.

Yes. I know. Gasp. Long horrified scream.You may ask even: What human would find her company tolerable long enough to enter this foray? And to that, I say, that’s not the topic up for discussion. No, the thing I want to blog about is the self-congratulatory “in a relationship” status that Facebook seems to con us all into adopting. Don’t get me wrong. I have no qualms with saying to anyone who asks me in the street (or doesn’t ask me and I end up just shouting it at them in a frenzy of post oxytocin dosing) that I’m with someone. I’m happy to be with this person, and I’m excited about the possibility of terrifying him with madness and glitter on a daily basis. But, I kind of balk when it comes to the “social media thing” and its desire to label and shame at the same time when it comes to the Relationship Status Update (RSU).

It popped up on my feed this morning from where my co-hort in RSU had changed his own status, and Facebook naturally (?) wanted me to confirm or deny these allegations. I confirmed. But also, FB wants me to post similar joining status on my own wall and “about me” section. So far, I have made no move on either front, but am digesting the larger picture that surrounds this seemingly simple action.

I’m not a big fan of labels in general. The irony after typing that right now is pretty overwhelming, because A: I do self identify as a feminist frequently and B: I’m the one who brought up changing RSU to my Boy that prompted this whole existential crisis. But, really I don’t want anyone to classify me as anything other than a woman, a human, and a writer. Pretty much all of those are apparent, although I’m sure there are days when debating the latter option may come into play. Anyways, when you get more technical on classifying people as feminists, or anarchists, or athiests, or whatever, then the stereotypes come out to go on parade. I support women’s rights and I support freedom for people to do what makes them happy so long as it does not harm others. Pushing a label onto that front does more harm many times because it takes away the element of communication about issues, reducing people to a single word, rather than a complex system of thought. It hardly ever works out like it should, I find.

Post lunch update: To me, the issue of declaring relationship status falls into the same category was changing your last name when you marry. It’s a personal decision that varies from couple to couple. If it matters to your mate that you change your name to join up with them, and you see no reason of opposition, then perhaps that’s the right decision for you. If your brand of feminism denotes that it’s important for you to hyphenate or keep your name, then that’s pretty much up to you too. Basically, when it comes to relationships, my philosophy is to do what works for you and not worry about what everyone else says. I’ve had so many friends and family give me opinions in the interest of being helpful, and they really just succeeded in messing up my already cluttered workspace of mental continuity.

Brandi says I’m overthinking things. And, as per usual, she’s absolutely right. But overthinking is what I’m good at so I’ll keep at it.

Here’s what I’m saying…I’m sure my Boy changed his status partly in deferance to my talking about said change being made, and hopefully because he’s as proud and excited as I to adventure with a fellow intellectual. If he didn’t change his status for another three months, then that would have been ok too. Because I know the score, and he knows what’s up. So, letting the known technically applicable world in on this 10% of the iceberg is harmless. (Until my dad wants to meet him!!!)

But also, this declaration is big for me and a personal accompllishment to celebrate on my own terms. Saying “I want to see one person in romantic terms on a regular basis,” is growth I’ve taken a long and hilly road to get to: littered with potholes and more construction crew work that anyone would think  possible. But here we are. And I’m stoked!

Sure I’d like to see all the “likes” appear on my page from friends who approve of my behavior. But I don’t need that. And I think that’s what has aided my decision on what to do in making the declaration on my own wall.

The compromise, to keep myself honest and true to my beliefs as outlined above, is that I’m going to keep my relationship status in my “about me” section to where only I can see it. (Unless I have another great epiphany…or if Boy asks me to change it) Besides being enamoured with the idea that there’s a secret about me that “only” I can see on a medium as public as the interwebs, I hope this encourages people to talk to me if they want to know something real about my life apart from the funny pictures and sassy articles I post.

I put my RSU to where only I could see it over a year ago for several reasons, including the fact that it was a painful and unneccessary thing for me to agonize over. Also, partly because I had just gotten out of a relationship and it was hard to disconnect and admit that failure as well as explain it to others. Yet, also it has been private so long because I believe I’m entitled to privacy when it comes to that kind of thing.

I think a lot of times when there is a posting on FB of a relationship or whatnot, it can be used as a weapon to make others feel either inept and resentful towards the announcement that accentuated that they haven’t found their own RSU of satisfactory nature. And too it can encourage the societal expectation that if you don’t have a partner, then you are broken or not on the right track. I certainly don’t feel that being in a relationship or anyone not being with someone says anything about how “together” their life is. I was in a relationship for four years and it was a toxic sludge at times that said little to nothing about who I was or where I was going.

While we are talking about relationships and the ideal situation of sorts (and while Boy is reading this and wondering how to skip town and change his name with as little resistance as possible), I’ll say that couples are going to have to get on a different track of thought if we are going to work together and stay together. This applies to everything from using each other as status symbols based on our jobs or our attractiveness to keeing things from one another because of our own insecurities of losing someone who we admire and who admires us because we think they will be repelled by our humanity and its limitations.

When there is a joining of two people for short or long term purposes, and when things get “real” and two rings join, it should be the joining that unlocks the powers of this team…kinda like the Wonder Twins. And when that day comes for me I fully intend to tell all who matter to me in a way that is not designed to elicit any response, but merely to hope that humans CAN overcome our petty feelings and interface in a way that inspires wonder and beauty. But only when I am part of a power couple where that decision is acknowledged and supported because it is NOT in relation to someone’s status.

Yup…I definitely over-thunk it. So, who cares about my documented written record of thinking through a small nugget that lodged itself in my psyche? Talk amongst yourself. Class dismissed.

-Anna R. Kotopple

Update:FB does not allow anyone to see anything pertaining to your relationship status if you have made it invisible on your About Me page. Fie! Technology wins again. I’ll just go on and make the whole darn thing visible. At least you readers know my struggle. Ha ha ha

Employing Guerrilla Warfare to Spread the Good Word

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Let’s talk about this.

So these business cards, as pictured above, were left all over the store in stacks of 10 or so. They were on our merchandise tables, on cafe tables, on the register counter: in short, everywhere. And the picture on the front of this business card appears pretty ambiguous at first glance.

What do we have going on here exactly? Well, there appears to be a disembodied head floating in the sky over a peaceful farmstead. The head appears a bit smug, and kind of bored looking. And so, is Elmore Outdoorss about sky ghosts who think your farming endeavors are trivial? But no, wait…look closely in this sky and you will see writing. To be precise, the writing is bible verses.

We have Galations 6:8-10 and Joshua 24:15. These say, respectively, “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will read eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at a proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have oportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” AND “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Thanks Internet for your handy researching capabilities!)

Basically, if you heathens don’t get with the program and don’t stop “bumping uglies,” then you are going to be SOL when it comes time to hand out grab bags at the end of the night.

And so, it’s pretty clear now that this business card is an attempt to spread some of that good old time religion. I should have known with that majestic rainbow rising up from the barn on the card’s right side. Plus, those geese look a little “too” in-formation for this to be an ordinary business card for some sundry and base service like farm products.

Ok. Why am I being such a dick to this business card? Well. It’s because my first degree is in communications, and this gives ME a business card to critique awful design whenI see it. The business card gets off light when compared to the actual Web site that it advertises. Sweet Jesus.

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There’s a lot going on here. Props for color scheme, I guess. I picked out something similar to this layout and neon green background on text for my Myspace page, and I think it worked there too. And then there’s a tribute to America on the right side of the screen. And there’s a nice looking buck right under Jesus. Because it seems that this group also does wildlife prints in addition to evangelism. Smart. Doesn’t hurt to have a fall back plan.

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Deer are very well represented on this site. It might actually be a fun party game to see whether there are more pictures of deer on this site or of Jesus. Next time your house party lags, you can give this a shot. You’re welcome.

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I think my retinas just burned out from how busy this section of the page is.

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Yup…yeah, they are definitely toast. Forget that text over pictures is sometimes hard to read (because that’s not important), why do we need four different backgrounds at once? And why is “the Gate” in quotations? Oh wait, my vision is clearing. It’s a church. And it’s bound and determinined to use all of the colors on the spectrum of the “Rainbow of Awesome” to tell you about it!

This all being said, I am impressed with the idea behind this communication endeavor. Leaving business cards all over a public area in an attempt to get your message out is nothing new, but it’s still effective. Although, perhaps, the local bookstore that employs a staff that is over 80% homosexual and/or apathetic about religion is not the best test market for your message. Furthermore, the ambiguous picture on the front of the business card medium was strange enough to generate curiosity. Good marketing gets the client interested with a desire to know more. The card is well composed, because, without the head in the shot, I would have assumed it was just a card to advertise farming and would not have accesed the site. They could have left out the bible verses to really create a mystery,but then again they exist as an Easter Egg of sorts that rewards a careful studier with information about what they hold. Though personally, I think one tractor in the shot would have sufficed.

When all is said and done, I suppose the card did the job. Because I have indeed visited the Web site, and spread the word about it. Plus, if Elmore Outdoors is looking for a good Web designer, I got a guy who knows a guy.

-Anna R. Kotopple

Five Fascinating Facts about John Steinbeck

Originally posted on Interesting Literature:

1. An early draft of John Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men was eaten by his dog.  It was Max, one of several dogs Steinbeck owned during his life, who devoured the novel’s draft and so became, in effect, the book’s first critic. This is probably Steinbeck’s most famous novel, and draws on his own experiences as a ‘bindlestiff’ (or migratory worker) in the US in the 1920s. The novel’s title famously comes from the Robert Burns poem ‘To a Mouse’: ‘The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley’ (or ‘go often awry’). The original title of the novella was ‘Something That Happened’.

2. In the 1980s, a rumour arose that Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath had been translated into Japanese as ‘The Angry Raisins’. This rumour was, however, false. It is a good example of how people love a good ‘lost in translation’ story, and it…

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