Tuesday, May 27, 2014

... he's lost in the wilderness, he's lost in bitterness ...

While I have a penchant for the light and fluffy, and I do want you to know about my lovely ladies’ morning out (which involved an Elvis + egg from Sully's, my first ever anthropologie purchase, and my favorite coffee shop), I have gotten a derailed by some HUGE news and the controversy attached to it. 

The violence in California caused by Elliot Rodger has been discussed on every social media site, and has taken over most mass media outlets over the past few days.  Women and men were killed in this horrible event, though women were clearly the target of the attacker’s initial rage. Elliot rails against women for turning down his advances in favor of those of other men in his excessively long manifesto/bio (which I have not read much of, as it made me want to vomit) and his YouTube videos. Notably, the gunman was also outraged about how his ‘rules’ from the Pick Up Artists did not help him achieve his ultimate goal – to get to have sex with a women who met a certain appearance standard. The woman herself appeared to be immaterial – as long as she was a 7 on the attractiveness scale.

The MRA and the PUA communities have at least two reactions to this event that made my blood BOIL. The second article explicitly states the following – 
  • “more people will die unless you give men sexual options”
  • “game is a tiny release valve on a cultural pressure cooker where meaningful relationships have become sick, fractured, and unfulfilling [sic] compared to the time of our grandparents when traditional sex roles existed”
  • “game may not have led Rodger to find his dream girl and live happily ever after, but it would have given enough results to stop him from killing six innocent individuals and himself"
  • “until you allow and encourage all men to get sex by some means, these massacres will be more commonplace”.
So, women withholding sex from males they do not wish to have sex with makes them culpable for massacres? And having sex with those they want to have sex with makes them a slut? I had no idea my sex organs were so powerful – granted, that’s if I rate highly enough to be considered a desirable partner.

Then there are those who completely blame the fact that Elliot was able to get guns. While yes, the guns were a huge part of the equation, Elliot also stabbed three victims to death and injured many victims with his car. Elliot was mentally ill (and possibly also had ASD, but more on that later). He bought guns, lied to police, and spent the time to type up a 141 page document. He was able to mask his mental illness to the point at which he appeared sane for long enough to complete all these things. I don’t think that the right to purchase and carry guns is the key issue at play here, although it is an easy scapegoat.

Asperger syndrome can make understanding other people as individual beings hard, and can cause some rule-setting and script following behaviors as well. Obsessive thoughts can also be an issue. Elliot’s ASD could have made this situation worse. He followed the rules (PUA) and did not get what he wanted after trying for years to get results on his own. His disassociation was mentioned before the ASD info broke (some commenters on Fox News were speculating if the gunman was interested in porn, and this lead to his disassociation). He ended up hating the PUA movement AND women, making him at odds with women who would not sleep with him and all the men who were able to sleep with said women. Some reactions on twitter related to ASD and the shooting can be found here. I am concerned that with the prevalence of autism/ASD and the very public link with this incident that there could be some mistreatment of children and young adults that struggle with ASD related disorders. The connection between ASD/Lanza/Rodger is something I am looking into, because it is interesting and terrifying that ASD may be misused to explain away these incidents.

Elliot had some interesting internet searches and accounts – which showed that he was simultaneously seeking treatment from therapists and counselors and then refusing to follow their advice. He would seek out the feedback and advice from PUA and Anti-PUA websites instead.
In the wake of the spree, the #YesALLWomen twitter movement boomed, which was quickly followed by the #NotALLMen rebuttal. I have tweeted, and will continue to tweet, instances that show women – all women – have to deal with entitlement of men to their bodies, lives, and sex. I feel like the #NotALLMen movement shows another side of the same coin – women are raised with fear and experience things that cause us to act in a certain way towards men. Men don’t feel like they deserve that treatment, especially when they haven’t done any ‘wrong’. With the culture and precedents that are being set, is it any surprise that this issue is divisive?  Feminism is important. Equality is imperative. These actions – stemming from one man’s mental struggle and entitlement - may have opened up a discussion that could lead to change for our society if we are willing to struggle through some of the implications. As Petula Dvorak says much more eloquently than I can “The unfiltered misogyny of Elliot Rodger is extreme, but it’s an indicator of the hatred that remains a stubborn part of our society’s fabric. No, #NotAllMen are like Elliot Rodger. But #YesAllWomen reveal the little pieces of him we encounter every single day.”

Sunday, May 25, 2014

... we ain't leavin' this room 'til someone needs medical help or the magnolias bloom ...

Things have been interesting the first part of the long weekend. I have thoroughly been enjoying the extra free time, but haven’t been resting up as much as I perhaps should have. My sweet Great Dane has been keeping me company over the past week, when I am at the house he shadows my every step and does little ‘patrols’ to check the perimeter. He is usually a sweet, well behaved dog … but more on that later.

Saturday was interesting for several reasons – the first being that I won an award in a race. It wasn’t a participation medal, either! I, by some fluke, place first in my age group in the ColorFest run in Seneca. It was a small event, and I was thoroughly shocked. My time wasn’t even as good as I had wanted, but much improved over the time I had on the same course last year. As 5Ks go, this one is small and fun. The ‘color’ aspect isn’t as dramatic or as outrageous as the official ‘Color Run’ races, but the upside is that this race does give you a time and is a full 5K (the one in Clemson this year was a bit short). A friend of mine and her mother also ran in the 5K. It was the mom's first ever! She did very well. After the run, I went to 9R and cleaned up for the evening. 

Attending a high school commencement is at times exciting and at times quite tedious. Every class is convinced that they are the most important class in the history of the school. Each student speaker has a combination of naive and meaningful comments to make on the forward passage of time. And each student is headed off into the future – excited, scared, energized, and hopeful. It’s bittersweet and exhausting. But again, that could’ve been my shoes, which earned me a bit of an unfortunate nickname.

Dress - ModCloth Stylish Surprise (out of stock)
Shoes - Target (out of stock - similar)

This morning I tried a new running route (more hills than I was anticipating, slower than I was anticipating, hotter than I was anticipating). It looped through the local Christian collage that I attended for dual credit during high school. It was odd to be back for the first time in years. The buildings are more modern, perhaps due to expanding their programs and having more donors.  It’s easy to forget about having two colleges in the same town when one is so much larger than the other.

I took the dog for a day at the lake with one of my friends and one of his doggie pals. Some discoveries were made, including that Yankee likes trail running, the fence around the beach does not enclose the beach fully, trail running barefoot in a bikini is hard, dogs don’t understand traffic, and that THIS dog is never allowed off lead for any reason. Yankee is fine. My knees (and dignity) are a bit scuffed up.  

One thing about having a Dane is that everyone always wants to pet them, ask how much they eat, tell you that they are huge … etc. Once Yankee was recaptured, many friends were made and he was much admired. My pet peeve about this is that sometimes people don’t ASK first. I know it’s hard to resist this face – but for the love of Pete! Remember your doggie manners, guys.

Random recipe I attempted, via RunEatRepeat. Not bad! I subbed in a ‘lighter’ hummus mixed with Greek yogurt I found in Ingles. 

Random podcast to listen to – Welcome to Night Vale! Guys, I am addicted. Go! Go now! Listen and be amazed!

Friday, May 23, 2014

… clap along if you feel like a room without a roof …

It's been awhile! I feel like my little blog needed a bit of a facelift - let me know what you think!
 Best friends turn the lights on for you & support you no matter what! Love ya Bran!!

Earlier this spring, I decided to challenge my classes to join the 100happydays challenge. I was doing a unit that was discussing burn-out, motivation, and stress management. I thought it would be a good way to get them started and joined as an example and to spur them onward. And, you know, bonding and fun and community!

I think I was the only one who actually finished. Granted - I cheated sometimes (it is supposed to be a photo a day – some days I didn’t have a good photo to post and posted a list), I was late occasionally (if it was over 24hrs between postings, I figured that the thought was what mattered) and I had tech issues (it’s hard to post from no-battery devices).

My students all noted that it was hard for them to find things to be happy about every day, and that there was so much pressure. Others commented that the only things that made them happy weren’t things they could show me pictures of.

Fair enough, I suppose. 

For my part, there were days that it was hard to find things to be happy about. Like the day I wrecked both rims on the right side of my car and got two flats, or the day my roommates lost my cat (who thankfully came back), or the days that just nothing seemed right. I was stressed at work. I had bad hair days, bad body days, bad mood days, days I cried a LOT. Those days, I had to work for my joy. I had to actively LOOK for things to be happy about. I was work. Sometimes it was tedious.
The first few days, it seemed a little wrong to LOOK for things that made me happy. I was told as a child that it was something that sprung from goodness, that it was a ‘spiritual gift’. But the more I looked for joy – for happy – the more I seemed to find. In small things, quiet moments, and little breaths of air in my world that were sweet and full of promise for more good things to come.
I also noticed some patterns forming in my behaviors and choices that lead me to be happier – almost without thinking about it. 

 a manner of traveling...

  • I started choosing to be happy with my mini-successes, instead of pushing for huge ones. The maybe-one-day PhD is not the only goal worth relishing or celebrating! 
  •  I chose to be more honest with myself and others – which is hard for people-pleasing me! Sometimes, the honest truth can make things simple, sometimes it is hard, and sometimes it means asking for help. But I never noticed it making me unhappier overall.
  • I chose to accept others where they were. Comparison is not healthy for good relationships – I try to compare people to earlier versions of themselves, and me to an earlier version of myself if I need to compare people at all.
  •  I chose to start the day on my own terms – when I wanted, how I wanted. Granted, this means my mornings are early to get in my much needed run and my commute – but it is a choice that honors my body and makes me happier overall. I helped when I could and did what I could for others. 
  •  I chose to linger in the things that were beautiful or worthwhile or that made me feel more bliss. I took the time to enjoy the things I loved when I stumbled across them. I bought the good coffee, got the nice prosecco, and savored the dark chocolate I really wanted. And I settled in to really, truly, enjoy it.
  • Maybe the hardest lesson in the journey so far was letting go of things. I have a hard time with letting things go in general. I like to know the whys and the mechanics and the dynamics and figure out the exact reason a thing happened and sometimes … it just isn’t there. There is no explanation. It is a THING. And … it’s just there. And sometimes you need to be ok with that, even though it is hard to be. There is no point in staying up late just because someone on the internet is WRONG.

It is important to note that I did this for myself and not for the web's enjoyment. There were days I actually felt a little bashful about my photo posts, or felt annoying, or kind of oddly braggy. The spirit in which I posted, however, was always a happy spirit – not a ‘look at me’ one. As the start site says – if you’re doing this to show off or for other people’s approval, you automatically ‘lose’.

So – did the challenge meet the claims it made?

  • YES – I started noticing what made me happy every day.
  • Overall, YES – I did feel like I was in a better mood every day. 
  • I didn’t particularly track compliments, but I took them with more grace! 
  • Overall, I did realize how lucky I was to have the life I have.
  • Yes, I was more optimistic overall!
  • As for falling in love – I think I fell more deeply in love with the all the tiny, huge, abundant wonderful things and people I already loved – and found a few more.

Is the challenge worth it? That’s for you to decide. But I’m hoping to continue searching for happiness, and choosing an attitude of happiness, for many days to come!