June 26, 2009

The King (Of Pop) Has Left...

Yesterday was a busy day for the Internets. At 3:40pm I got two text messages informing me Michael Jackson died. Sure enough, NPR was playing a tribute to the King of Pop and news websites were crashing one after another.

Though I was never a real fan of Michael Jackson (I'm not a real fan of much...) I did appreciate the groundbreaking music and music videos he produced. My first boyfriend had every music video on DVD and friends have made CDs for me with MJs work on it. As great as he was on stage and on TV, his life was one long tragedy. I was sad to learn of his lost childhood, how he yearned for a life like Peter Pan's so much so that he named his retreat Neverland Ranch, how his parents treated him when he was a money-making pre-teen. I didn't know what to think when the allegations of child abuse surfaced, especially in light of accusations that one boy's father wanted money for a screenplay. I pitied the poor man who was so self conscious of his own image that he changed the color of his skin and tried on several different noses, never satisfied, never living a day in perceived safety.

No one should be at all surprised at Michael Jackson's ways; when a child is forced to grow up not only at such a young age but in a spotlight and with an emotionally (sometimes physically) abusive father he is not going to be a well adjusted adult. MJ was most likely simply a sensitive, scared man deluded into thinking he can buy back his lost childhood and buy better childhoods for children so they wouldn't have to endure the same misery he did. While it was certainly inappropriate for him to share a bed with kids I doubt there was anything sexual going on. He probably thought for a few moments he was a kid at a sleepover and was doing normal things that boys do on sleepovers. I'm sure he pitied his own kids because of the life they had to lead because of who their father was, and the irony of that is they will never have the normal life he so desperately wanted for himself and for children everywhere.

Back to my first sentence... We were expecting the death of Farrah Fawcett. Unfortunately for her family and fans her death lay in the shadows of Michael Jackson's. But Michael was a man of today, and Farrah was a woman of yesterday, and Michael was, in fact, the King of Pop. God rest them both in peace.

June 20, 2009


You know that girl in an abusive relationship who swears he loves her and he promises to stop beating her face into a wall, but he never stops and she never leaves him? That's what I feel like with my mom. I get so hopeful that things will work out because she's my mom and I miss her, that even though I should see the brutality coming I don't because I don't want to see it.

(Quick background: My grandpa left us grandkids money for college. When I went to UCSD my mom told me it was my money to use for school, and she put it in a joint savings account so I could pay for tuition and books. Fortunately, California picked up the school tab. I used $8 grand of my college fund to pay for car repairs, summer school and (rarely) rent. After two years the rest disappeared from the account and my mom didn't answer her phone for two days. When she did she told me she meant to take the money sooner but "never got around to it." I hung up the phone and we mutually ignored each other for 2 years.)

I went to talk with her on Wednesday about our relationship and to try to understand exactly why she took the money away. She had said a week earlier it was because I stopped calling her and she could only assume it was because I was in an uber-Christian cult.

Or that I was on drugs and going to get killed in Mexico, or that I was going to run off to Vegas and get married, or take off to live in Europe without telling anyone. There is no end to a paranoid mother's madness. Of course, in her mind all of these scenarios are perfectly legitimate worries. A cousin went the uber-Christian cult route; though my mom searched my room while I was living with her and didn't find drugs, I do live next to Mexico and my "personality changed so much that it could only be because of drugs"; when I went to Europe with my boyfriend a few years back one of her coworkers convinced her we were eloping, though I did not come back married; my aunt told her I was planning on living in Europe, but my mom didn't hear it was because I was planning on going to grad school there.

So what's a paranoid mother to do? Why, the only logical thing you can do: take away your daughter's college funding. Even though I'd used it responsibly for two years I was obviously about to do something stupid. All because I never called to ask how she was doing. Those of you who know me well know I don't just call up and ask how you're doing if I don't have something interesting to say. I guess I could call my mom and tell her what an ostrich or java banteng did but I imagine that would be pretty boring. When I was little she used to complain about my dad's boring work stories. However, the biggest reason I never called her was because every time we spoke she would yell at me for not doing something right and I would cry. It gets to a point you just don't want to actively seek that.

My mom told me all I had to do was send her whatever bills needed to be paid and she would pay them with that money. I had been paying my own bills for two years... why, at 22, could I not handle that anymore? My sister allowed our mom to handle her bills when she went to college because she saw how happy it made her. Unfortunately, our mom fucked up and my sister had to do a lot of damage control, which cost her even more money. But our mom will never admit to fucking up. Our mom never went to college and doesn't understand how it works. This infuriates her. Just because she wanted to be in the process didn't mean I was willing to let it get fucked up so my mommy could help. If I fucked up I had only myself to blame. But I did not fuck up.

She was also upset that she didn't have access to my UCSD account. Having access meant she would see my transcript, grades and health records. I considered all of that very private and was not about to hand over my password. Most parents have access to their students university accounts, but most parents have that access so they can PAY MONEY TO THE SCHOOL. My mom had jack shit to give me and my dad made it clear he would not pay for college. My sisters and I have always known we were on our own when it came to school. In that light, I feel I deserved the privacy that was legally afforded to me; I got that degree on my own and it hangs on my wall as a daily reminder.

There is one glitch in my mom's logic: if I did lay down my pride and dignity and ask her for money to go to school again she could not help me because the money is apparently locked in a CD until September. Had I gone to grad school this year it would have been all me.

So I am not going to lay down my pride and dignity and ask my mom, at 24 or 25, if I can get my master's degree. That is going to be on my terms, not hers. I've already resigned to never seeing a penny of that money again, and I'm OK with that. On Wednesday she asked me what will make this all go away, and was shocked when I told her having that money back. "When did it become all about the money?" she demanded. I told her, "When you took the money from me." Was that not obvious?

No matter how many times I said even if I don't see the money I still want a relationship, all my mom heard was "I can't wait for you to die so I can throw a party with that money." We left on a pretty sour note. In a fit of drama my mom swore to sell the house and not leave a forwarding address. I'm not sure where that leaves us. Probably back to square one. Sigh.

June 17, 2009

The Selfish Childless Adults

My Sister's Keeper

In my unemployment I discovered thefrisky.com. It's an awesome website aimed towards single ladies and the issues and topics that concern them. Recently a writer posted a sort-of-funny short list of reasons not to have kids yet... or ever. The reasons are mostly about shoes and partying and so on, and was probably meant more as a joke than a real list of reasons a woman wouldn't want to have kids. The cool thing was she opened with a quote from Cameron Diaz, who once (apparently) said that people should allow women to decide to not have kids because there are so many people on our planet doing enough damage as it is. She does have a point: if we all have kids to replace ourselves and use our resources like we do today, our great great great (great great great?) grandkids won't have anything left. Is that what parents have in mind?

I like to get myself all worked up over stupid things, so I read the comments. Half of them were from parents who proclaimed their children are the best things to have ever happened to them, that their lives would be empty and meaningless without their kids, that people who do not want children are selfish, and, really, why would someone purposefully choose to not have the undying love and joy that comes with a child? It's as if they're afraid their kids will one day search on the Internet for things their parents said, and if they don't constantly blab about how great it is to be a parent the kids will feel like they weren't loved. The other half of the comments were from those who do not want kids now (or ever) pointing out that our lives are ours to live, and if we do not want kids we should not be presured to have them; they wouldn't be a joy then, would they?

No one mentioned the obvious: parents who have biological children are the most selfish of all adults. It's like they constantly call the childless-by-choice selfish because they're afraid of being called out for their own selfishness, like homophobic gays call everyone else gay because they can't handle their own gayness. These are the ones who insist their children are the best because they come from their own DNA, who believe their children are more special than all the other parent's children, who believe all children are joyous gifts that are to be cherished, and by cherish they mean undisciplined brats whining in the grocery store because "I can't say no to that face!" They talk about how great it is to be a parent, how much love you get from kids, and how all around happier they are with kids. But all of these parents (and this is my point) want biological children. Very few want to adopt the needy children of the world, and when they do it's often only because they can't reproduce naturally and IVF failed. It's selfish to think your DNA is so great that it must be passed along.

One man commented that he lost touch with his wife since the birth of their son 7 months ago. He regrets the decision to have a child and misses his wife, who puts their son before him. Parents might say you're supposed to put your children first, but in your wedding vows you promise to love and cherish your spouse until death do you part, not until kids do you part. Is the husband just someone who donates sperm every couple of years and spends the rest of his days working so the wife can stay home and take care of the kids? Is that the kind of life men imagine for themselves when they decide to get married? I'm sure most men like the idea of their wives staying home to raise the kids (let's face it, it's best for the kids), but it's near impossible to raise a family on a single income. So what are couples to do?

This may seem absurd coming from a 23-year-old woman with no desire for children, but maybe people would be better off if they waited until they were financially stable enough to get married and/or have children. (Gasp!) If all children were planned and wanted and if they had the resources to grow into healthy adults the world would be such a better place. Unfortunately it seems that people follow the "if you build it they will come" theory: if you have kids whenever you want them, the means to raise them will magically appear (be it in the form of your spouses' night job, depending on your own parents for help, or welfare).

Finally, I'd like to point out the fallacy of the argument that having children is a way of bettering the world, and by that logic anyone who chooses not to have children is selfish for not wanting to better the world. However, parents often have little time for anything other than raising their children that they can't really better the world through any other means. Parents will volunteer in their children's classrooms, which will indirectly benefit the world, but chances are they would not do so if they didn't have a selfish interest. Childless adults can volunteer in animal shelters, soup kitchens and hospitals. They can give a much higher percentage of their incomes to charity than parents can afford to. They can support a well-rounded variety of causes in their communities, not just the ones that affect children. Not having children allows you to use your resources to benefit the whole community rather than stretch your resources among your immediate family.

So in the end, it's the parents of biological children, who do not want to adopt because they want their genes passed along, who are selfish, not those who choose not to reproduce. Women should not feel pressured to have children or ashamed to not have a maternal instinct. Some people aren't built for kids. And though it's unfortunate that some people with healthy reproductive systems don't want kids while those who do want kids are unable to, there will always be more than plenty of unwanted kids in the foster and adoptive systems that anyone who wants a child can have one.

June 16, 2009

Reader Contest- Name My Blog!

Here's a picture of my cat in a bag.

I have a terrible time coming up with names and titles for things. "The Snarky Writer," though awesome (and available), is not accurate based on the posts I've made so far. So what should my blog be titled?

I leave the decision up to you, my readers. Come up with a clever, (at least slightly more) accurate name for my blog and, as long as it's available, it will be forever immortalized at the top of my blog. It's helpful if the winning name is also available as a website for when I eventually move my blog from blogspot to the real Interwebs.

Leave your suggestions in the comments!

June 10, 2009

Cheating and Banking

I'm breaking my own self-imposed rule and posting twice in one day.

I opened a checking account with San Diego County Credit Union today, in what is the first step in breaking away from Washington Mutual/Chase. I met with a friend who works at SDCCU and she helped get me all set up, then talked with a financial representative (is that what they're called now?) who set me up with a new account. Unfortunately, I had to go to Chase to withdraw enough money to actually open the account. I drove down the street, withdrew $80 from the ATM (not ATM Machine, idiots), and officially opened a new checking account with a credit union. I plan on closing out my Chase account later this week.

I feel like I cheated on my bank.

I feel like a guy who's not happy in his relationship, but they've been together forever, so he has to make a careful decision. His girlfriend isn't doing so well, but since she got help 6 months ago it's been alright. But lately she's started to go down hill again, and he's looking for a way out. Then he meets a new girl, who has her shit together and is going places. He gets together with the new girl (read it as you will) and promises he'll break up with the girlfriend the next day. He dreads it because it's a whole ordeal of actually going to her place and talking with her, answering silly questions like "why?" and leaving with her being disappointed at having lost another one. But when he walks out the door and sees his new lady just down the street his heart is happy and he moves on with his life, leaving poor ex-girlfriend behind to make the same poor decisions that landed her in the arms of Chase in the first place.

Oops. Took the metaphor a bit far.

But I'm OK with the cheating. WaMu/Chase hasn't been very nice, especially lately, and since the credit union is run by the people I should be in better hands. I did get denied a loan and a credit card (they pretty much laughed at me... "she makes how much?!?") but I went home and spent an hour calculating my finances and setting up a plan. It's not as big a debt as it looks, but it is going to take a lot of sacrifice and work (assuming I can work... next week I'm scheduled only 2 days) to get it down by fall.

Which just makes me pissed that there's $20k out there with my name on it that will probably be spent by someone other than me so long as my "pride" keeps it out of my hands. Sigh. I wish I didn't need it.

In Which I Realize I Read (And Sometimes Speak) Snark, I Don't Write It

I wish I was funny enough (and the economy was good enough for me) to write for The Onion. So much good, dry humor. I was thoroughly upset when I learned they would stop all west coast print editions last month. (If you know anything about The Onion you must know how hard it was to find a news article for a link.) One of my favorite things to do in San Francisco is look for a copy of the newspaper. It's like a hilarious newspaper version of Where's Waldo.

I love this recent Onion article. Because I'm not single often enough to actually have one of those guy friends who follows me around until I break up with my current douchebag boyfriend, I can't relate too much. Actually, let me rephrase that last sentence... Because I haven't been single in 7ish years any guy friend who was at one time following me around in hopes I would become single has long since given up and found someone else to pester with thoughts of romance, thus I can't relate too much. Ugh. The rewrite makes me sound old.

On the bright side it made me think of a twist to the theme: friends who are also in a relationship but still entertain thoughts of you two hooking up and having babies when you miraculously both become single at the same time. There are not enough sitcoms with this type of situation. (Think about how many TV shows and movies are built around the "we're just friends until you notice I exist" story, and how many are built around the "we're just friends until we're both single, then we'll make like rabbits" story. It's absurdly uneven.)

The most awesome thing about this story, though, is that it has TWO bright sides! Imagine that! The second, and no less awesome, bright side is I discovered the iFeast. It's an ingenious device that not only plays your MP3 player but also feeds and waters your pet! Now your puppy or kitten can rock out to your crappy playlist while trying to eat. Fortunately for pets everywhere, this product does not actually exist. The box, however, does, and can be purchased as a gag gift or as something kind of funny to hold the lame gift you bought. Unfortunately it reminded me of a product that does exist: the iPond. This device will hopefully swim with the fishes, and give that phrase a whole new meaning.

June 6, 2009


If only.

After a 2 year hiatus I'm back on speaking terms with my mom. And by speaking I mean she'll acknowledge I exist when I see her, we can speak about "safe" subjects, she texts me goodnight sometimes, and she forwards me radical pro-American, pro-Christian e-mails. Honestly though, this last part I could do without.

The most recent forwarded e-mail (originating in 2006) was titled "Politically Correct" and included a link to a Snopes.com article. The e-mail applauded Michigan State University's administration for not reprimanding a tenured mechanical engineering professor for an e-mail in which he suggested all Muslim students leave America if they're not fans of Western ideals. The forwarded e-mail says MSU supports the outspoken professor and asks everyone to forward the e-mail to everyone on their contact list so the whole country gets it. Highlighted, it says:
"We are in a war. This political correctness crap is getting old and killing us."

So I clicked on the link to Snopes, and found things were not quite what the forwarded e-mail said. The university could not legally publicly reprimand the professor but they did privately warn him of further comment and MSU did not agree with the professor's statements. Further, the professor was quite embarrassed that his e-mail went public and stated that he wrote the e-mail in haste believing the e-mail address he sent it to was that of one particular (probably very annoying) person. Instead, that e-mail was inadvertently sent to the whole Muslim Student Association. The professor quickly and publicly regretted the e-mail.

The whole fiasco started because the Muslim students protested the Danish cartoon of Muhammad as a terrorist. Thanks to freedom of religion they have the right to protest a cartoon that depicts their most revered prophet as a terrorist. What if the cartoon depicted Jesus as a terrorist? Does anyone think Christians would have been cool with it because "it's just a cartoon," like they said about the Muhammad cartoon? I highly doubt it.

If one cares to consider the history of Christianity, one might not be so quick to point out the flaws or violence in other religions. For thousands of years Christian and Catholic leaders have persecuted, murdered and banished people of all other faiths. The Crusades are considered a dark spot in Catholic history, but the widespread molestation of altar boys by celibate Catholic priests is a current dark spot. Christian leaders persecuted and banished their own people for centuries, condemning them to eternity in hell because they could not afford to literally buy salvation. Even today Christians preach peace and acceptance and love on Sundays, but for the rest of the week they pass judgement and ignore those in need. 

No one is perfect. It's time to stop pretending.

June 1, 2009


Before I get into this topic I want anyone reading to know I'm a very passionate person. Maybe it's the Italian/Irish in me or maybe it's the libra but things boil in my blood and make me very angry or deeply sad. 

This makes me both.

In the relatively short course of my adult life three individuals told me they were raped. One was raped as a teen by strangers at knife point and two were raped as adults by boyfriends, but didn't realize it was rape until after. All told me about their experiences some time after the incident occurred, but none reported it. I'm beginning to wonder if reporting a rape is just something that happens on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit...

Once upon a time a woman could not be raped by her husband. A woman was property of her husband, could legally be beaten and could not possibly be raped by the man who married her and fathered her children. In this day and country women are born with more rights than ever thanks to the women generations ago who fought tirelessly for them. It kills me to know that every day women are raped and don't say a word until it's too late, if ever.

What most amazes me is how often women believe the excuses. So and so would never do that to me. He's my boyfriend/husband, he wouldn't rape me. I was drunk/high, so it's my own fault. We'd been flirting for a while, and I would have had sex with him anyway. I didn't exactly say no, so it wasn't exactly rape. He was drunk/high, and he didn't mean it. I know I said stop, but he didn't hit me or get violent. I could have tried harder to make him stop but I didn't, so it's my fault. 

Why, women, do we delude ourselves? Why are we protecting the men who violate us? Why are we so quick to take blame for crimes committed against us?

Don't tell me it's because it was so traumatizing that they'd rather forget it and move on than relive it. Because it's so traumatizing women should want to stop these men, or at the very least make them aware of their actions. No woman alive forgets a rape. She may move on, but it will stay with her and affect her and her choices and relationships for the rest of her life. I wish that women would realize the protections they have in the law and realize the responsibility they have for other women. The statute of limitations in California is up to ten years, and rape is a capital offense. I understand that rape can be hard to prove if there's little evidence, but isn't making a report better than nothing? Speak up, ladies. Speak up and show yourself and the world that you're more than a victim.

Am I alone? Am I naive? What would you do?