When you are introduced as “Goddess of Sin,” people tend to have expectations. They think sinuous or voluptuous. They think hedonist and erotic.

These are not sins.

The Goddess of Sin borrows your car, and returns it with the gas tank emptied.

She uses the last piece of toilet paper and doesn’t replace the roll – even though she knows where the rolls are.

Your smart phone wallpaper is a photo of her face, lips stretched like a duck’s bill.

There are greater sins.

She excludes.

Get out, she says. Foreigners, queers, bleeding hearts. Get out.

Build a wall.

Those people can’t stay here, as she drives past a suburb of makeshift tents, tarps on strings. In her car it is warm, climate controlled. The air outside is freezing. She turns the volume up and listens to a song about Freedom.

You should have kept your legs closed, to a terrified young person. No free lunch, to a child in desperate poverty.

We must, she says, provide the best possible environment for Business.

Trickle-down economics.

Absolutely no free health care. Higher education? Work two jobs. If you were better with money, it wouldn’t be a problem, she says, her trust fund well-managed.

Seeds of fear and uncertainty, carefully nurtured, bursting into bloom with deeply seated terrors we’ll never admit to that drive us to distrust each other.

The fear that makes a fully armed grown man kill a harmless child with a toy gun.

The Goddess of Sin wears women’s suits with a-line skirts and strings of sterile pearls. Her stockings are never torn. She walks in three-inch heels across impossible terrain as though she walked on water. Her haircut says, “Can I speak to your manager?”

She is here and she is among us and she is within us and we must fight her and fight her and fight her and struggle not to become her.

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Parenting (from a non-parent)

A friend of mine is having a baby. (Well, a couple of them are, but this is about one in particular). Emotions appropriate to this development include happiness, excitement… but mostly I feel apprehensive.

I parted ways with this person years ago because I disagreed with their stance on an ever-widening group of subjects, and one of those subjects was child rearing. I expect any prospective co-parent to support my children’s health and happiness, and they – to my mind – did not.

It’s important to note here, I think, that they believed they were doing the right thing, and that it wasn’t being done out of hatred. At least, it didn’t feel that way. But when they told me they couldn’t accept a child if the child was gay, or transgender – that they would give them their love but not their acceptance – I couldn’t reconcile that. I couldn’t compromise on that.

So now they are having a kid with someone else, and I’m worried all over again. It’s none of my business, but I can’t not feel it. And who knows? Maybe they’ve grown over the past years; maybe things will change when the kid is a reality and not a theory. I wish I could feel an unadulterated happiness for them.

The more that I think about it, the more nervous it makes me that any one person should have dominion over another. Why does anyone in their right mind want to be a parent? I mean, I know, genetics and natural selection and memes (but not like internet memes), but – it should be terrifying. I suppose most people have a moment of being terrified. But we go on reproducing.

I don’t know. I have nothing against kids. My nephew is fun to hang out with. Kids are fine. But they’re not for me. So maybe this is all me projecting my own insecurities onto other people. It’s just that when I hear stories about parents making their kids’ lives miserable, it hurts. Parents ought to be the people you can trust, can turn to no matter what, yeah? Isn’t that how it ought to be?

But today we have parents who refuse to vaccinate, and sometimes their children die, and sometimes other children die as a result of it. We have baby Vegan diets and babies fed with junk food. Bottles with Coca-Cola in them.

Of course, the flip side of that is something close to eugenics, and I don’t support that either. No one should make your reproductive choices for you. It’s too personal, it’s too powerful. And god knows we don’t need the 1% taking more shit away from us.

When did people stop listening to science? When did people start looking at their children as their pet projects and not as human fucking beings?

I have seen internet posts from families who brag about their children being “off the grid” – delivered at home, no Social Security number, no birth certificate. Are you fucking kidding me? Look, the system is fucked up, but you are robbing your child of their future! And then for fuck’s sake don’t post ON THE INTERNET about it. This isn’t a sociological experiment, it’s a PERSON!

Is it because we all want to think that we’re smarter than the next person? We all want to imagine that we have found the Secret to win against The System? We want to feel like we’ve got it all figured out, that we know the things that other people don’t?

Has it ALWAYS been like this? Centuries ago, were people having babies in barns and then hiding them whenever the local Lord or his representatives came by? Did people marvel over the ability of liquor to send a baby to sleep and refuse medicine as witchcraft?

Just be open to the possibility that you’re wrong. Be open to the possibility that you aren’t reading the results of that study correctly. That bias has been introduced. Learn to sift knowledge back and forth in your brain like a great pan until the shiny gold nugget of truth reveals itself. And then be prepared to have that nugget disproven in five years, or ten.

Well, this turned into a fucking rant and a half, yeah?

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Werk werk werk (werk werk werk)

Sorry, Rihanna.

My first Monday back at work – it was less trouble to get going than I anticipated, which was a blessing. Hopefully tomorrow morning continues the trend.

When I got there things were a bit crazy – one of my guys was overloaded and sick and really needed to go home – so I just waded into it and started doing things. I suspect that’s the best way to handle a mess in the moment; the key is remembering the origin of the mess and taking care of THAT later on.

It astounds me how much design work people expect for free; the perception that “you can just change that in the computer,” “it will only take you a second,” whatever. Here’s the thing: people go to school to learn how to do those things, and we certainly do not pay our people enough to justify that shit. Designers ought to be earning much more for the design by itself, let alone doing the work of having the job printed and finished.

It irks me because we’re willing to help out when others need it – we always give things “a shot” and because I work with some smart fucking people, we generally figure it out. But then we’ve figured it out once, so it becomes a thing that we do again, and again, and for other customers, and eventually all of our time becomes eaten by custom projects instead of keeping work rolling in evenly like we ought to. In a very real way, we become punished for our willingness and ability to help.

Maybe what I need to do is just take it on myself to do what I’d like to see, which is to acknowledge the person who figured it out and say, hey, it’s awesome that you did this, can I cover your regular work for a bit so you can document the process, so that we can do it again in the future?

It doesn’t always work. Some folks seem stuck in crisis mode and I’m not sure how to subvert that. But I guess all you can do is try.

On another note, here’s a joke for you: Microsoft Exchange. Amirite? lolololol

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Please stop

Got in some more Dark Souls; got past the Crystal Sage and well into the Cathedral area (I think I’m near the boss). Still having a lot of fun with the game – it treads the line between challenging and frustrating very artfully. After a challenging fight there will often be a bonfire, so you don’t have to re-do the challenging fight again. There’s enough of a difficulty that you feel GOOD about clearing an area, but not so much that you don’t want to go back in and try again. At least, that’s been the case for me so far. We’ll see, I guess.

I’ve noticed the racist things my mom says a lot more frequently lately, and I don’t know if she’s getting worse about it or I’m just being more observant, but it’s driving me crazy. Lately I hear a lot of “that’s very white of them” or “that would be the white thing to do” and my brain for a second thinks the word is right, and then I realize what it actually is.

When I try to call her on it, it’s always “just a phrase” or “I didn’t mean it that way”. Today I didn’t call her on it, and I feel like a shit for not doing so. I was just… tired. Tired of going to my mom expecting comfort and then getting… this. Having to be the grown-up. I don’t know. I’ll try harder. I’ll do more, next time.

I read a book a few months ago called Hillbilly Elegy as part of a reading group I had found online who were trying to make sense of the results of the election. Usually I roll my eyes when someone says that a book changed their life, but this certainly did something to my perspective. It talks about honor codes among Appalachian families and their kids, how if you can’t trust the government you can only trust your family, so family becomes All-Important. You might hate the way your mother spanks the shit out of you when you fuck something up, but god help anyone else who says a word against her. Or you know your uncle is an alcoholic, but you’re damn sure not going to let anyone else run their mouth about it.

It results in a sort of hypervigilance because there is a feeling of always being on the defensive, always having to defend the family honor. But typically in these families, the actual members of the family are also constantly at each others’ throats – maybe because of the hypervigilant state they’re in all the time, I don’t know – and you just accept it. It becomes normal.

You normalize the things your family says and does because to do otherwise is to admit to their faults and open them for attack, and you don’t do that because family sticks together, no matter what.

Anyway, while the situations in my family certainly don’t seem to be as extreme as the ones chronicled in Hillbilly Elegy, there were a lot of things that rang uncomfortably true with me and my family experience growing up. Always being on the defensive. Fighting among your family but defending them without exception to outsiders. The development of an “us vs. them” mentality, intended to keep the family banding together, maybe unconsciously, but still present.

I just thought it was normal. In the fourth grade I used the word “negro” because it was in the book we were reading and I didn’t know any better.

Frequently, particularly if she is drinking, my mom will apologize to me for my “having to be the grown-up” for years when I was a kid. And I know that she’s beaten herself up about it so much already, so I always absolve. It’s okay, mom. You did fine. Which is, I suppose, an extension of “being the grown-up.”

I lost the thread of this a bit, but sometimes I want to say: If you’re really sorry, then grow up now. Think before you speak. Respect others’ feelings. Please stop calling good things “white” and referring to certain people as “towelheads.” Stop saying that it’s the way you grew up and your father used these words so much and you just can’t help it. If I can help it, so can you. I know you can be responsible in other respects. I’ve seen it. Exercise it here, in your interactions with other people.

I guess I just wish I could reach out to my family for support without being reminded that we’re part of the problem. I don’t know.

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I have a friend I don’t spend enough time with. Well, that’s probably true of all my friends, but in this case my friend is going to be leaving the state for a few years, and I’m left kicking myself for not spending more time with her while I could, for not reaching out, for being afraid, for thinking of myself as a nuisance.

Maybe we take the really close people for granted. It’s like how I lived in Washington all my life, never more than an hour or so drive away from Seattle, but I never went up the Space Needle until a friend visiting town wanted to see it. I still haven’t eaten at the revolving restaurant on top of the Needle – it’s far too expensive.

But if we know our friends are always there, we tell ourselves we can call them tomorrow, or next weekend, or maybe the next time we have free time, and our lives get so busy, and then we don’t want to be a bother, or maybe that’s just me. And now that my friend is leaving, I’m coming up with all of these ways to communicate – maybe I can Skype her, or FaceTime her, or text her. Suddenly I’m thinking of putting in far more effort just to speak with her than I have the entire time she’s been physically close.

Knowing that a person is there, knowing that you have their friendship, knowing that they are available if you need them – it fills your heart, even when you’re not directly with them. And even with so many ways to communicate, my heart will be a little emptier with the knowledge that she is out of reach, in a way.

And of course it’s not debilitating and I very much support her and I want her to go out and do what she wants with her life. I’m just trying to process, I guess.

Hopefully she’s not reading this, because she’d feel bad about making me feel bad. But just in case she is: I love you, I swear I’ll try to get my shit together and come visit you, I’m sorry I didn’t take the time over the last year.

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The Next Right Thing

I saw a post on tumblr (I know, I know) that consisted of a few pages from Kelly Sue DeConnick‘s Captain Marvel run. There’s a character who is struggling with death and doesn’t want to let go – they’ve come out to spread someone’s ashes but she doesn’t want to spread them. She says: “I don’t want to imagine my life without her.” Carol tells her:

“You don’t have to think about your whole life right now. All you have to focus on is… the next… right… thing… and let go.”

I’ve been having a lot of Brain Problems(tm) lately and one of the biggest things I struggle with is executive dysfunction. Executive dysfunction, as it has been explained to me, is when you know you have to do something, you want to do the thing, you tell yourself to DO THE THING, but you don’t do it. The debilitating factor, for me, vacillates between severe anxiety and severe depression, but both give me the same result – I know I have to do a thing (for example, eat breakfast), I want to do the thing, I have everything I need to do the thing… but I don’t do the thing. I know there will be a negative effect because I’m not doing the thing, but I’m still not doing the thing.

Yesterday (Friday) I was having trouble getting things done. All I felt up to doing was sitting on the couch or laying in bed, despite the fact that I needed to get ready for work, I had laundry to put away, etc. While I was avoiding the rest of the world and browsing tumblr, as is my wont, I came across the post. I read it, I liked it, I kept browsing. A few minutes later, I was trying to convince myself to Do The Thing, and I thought of the post.

I didn’t have to think about whatever I needed to do later. I didn’t have to turn it into a long sequence of events in my mind that I would inevitably become distressed by. I didn’t even need to look at the big picture that my brain finds so frightening and impossible. All I had to do was ask myself: What is the Next Right Thing?

Maybe it seems silly. But it helped me narrow my focus. It made things do-able. I continued to use this frame of mind throughout the rest of my day, while I was at work, whenever I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, or felt like an imposter, or felt like I wasn’t Doing Enough, I would ask myself the same question. It got me through the day. Step by step. Maybe it put blinders on me, but those blinders allowed me to function. Hopefully, as I continue to be able to function, I’ll regain the ability to look at the bigger picture without being afraid and avoidant. For now, this question keeps me moving, task by task, and I’m grateful for it.

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Success and Green Hair

I went to work and it went well. All I got were welcome backs and some we missed yous. And I really did miss my work fam. They make me laugh.

I was nervous because while I was on LOA and immensely depressed and wanting to harm myself, I did a Nice Thing for myself and went and got my hair professionally colored. I’ve always wanted to do a Fun Color so I picked this bluey-tealy shade and I really like it. Problem is, our dress code at work says no “non-natural hair colors.”

Nobody said anything. I could feel my boss’ boss ignoring it really hard. I’m still a little worried that my boss’ boss’ boss will fly in to town and have a fit, but here’s the thing: I think the rule is wrong. It’s outdated and predicated on an obsolete model of “professional.” So I’m prepared (if excruciatingly nervous) to defend it if I need to. If they want to fire me over it, then I will find a job where somebody cares about what I bring to the table more than they care about an arbitrary rule about color. Maybe I can succeed in getting them to change the rule. Who knows.

I think an important part of mental health is a good sense of self, and for me, green hair (or blue depending on who you ask) is a part of that sense of self. My sidecut/undercut is part of that sense of self. If they really want us to be happy and healthy at work, they should be interested in supporting that. I’m not doing anything that presents a danger to myself or to other team members.

I guess what I’m saying here is: FITE ME.

I even managed to do a sketch card tonight. I was thinking about not doing one, but I did it. I think it helps to know what the subject is going to be beforehand. Then you know you’re not going to sit at your desk for 57 hours waiting for inspiration to strike.

I have not gone back to Dark Souls today, though. That is Too Much Stress when I’m trying to build myself up to go back to work tomorrow (although getting past the initial hump was probably The Worst.)

Here, for the curious, is the green and/or blue hair in question (bad lighting on a webcam, sorry):


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