Of boxes of kittens and ways we could have handled this differently

I legitimately dislike the news.

Why? It always has to be something more terrible, more tragic, or just flat out more. For the past two days, every time I look at a TV or glance at Facebook’s “trending” column, it’s all about the riots in Maryland. Earthquake in Nepal? Sure! Natural disasters sell, right? But people looting and beating each other intentionally? That’s way better! Get the cameras, kiddies! Good news, simply put, isn’t interesting. It isn’t sensational. It doesn’t sell. People don’t want to see pictures of someone rescuing a box of kittens when they can watch someone get shot in the back.

I’ll probably offend people with this, but this isn’t about a black guy dying in a holding cell. It’s a convenient excuse, regardless of race, for people to throw a violent and illegal temper tantrum. Martin Luther King Jr. changed views on race in the country, especially the South, without taking a baseball bat to a cop car. His non-violent approach allowed people to understand his point much better. All these crazy people are doing is solidifying beliefs that they’re degenerate criminals. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to listen to someone who, instead of trying to explain their stance on an issue first, goes straight for the sand filled rubber hose. You’re racking up a list of felonies, then expecting authorities to concede your point? That’s just stupid. I don’t care what color you are. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to want an explanation. It’s okay to expect full disclosure. It’s not okay to take it to this kind of extreme. The great equalizer is stupid comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, creeds, and genders.

The sad part is the good things in the world do get drowned out in favor of the above. What about the people who are trying to do something positive in spite of all the poor life choices around them? What about the box of kittens that was rescued? What about the person who rescued said box of kittens? Most people in the world are good people, but positive things rarely get the air time they deserve. When you have to natter on for 24 hours a day about “news”, a box of kittens just won’t cut it. It’s unfortunate because the good in the world should be recognized more than it is. The people who are working to make the world a better place should get the same air time, even if it’s just their corner of it.

From an expert at throwing epic tantrums – excuse yourself, go scream, punch pillows, cry, call someone names, then pull yourself together, & go deal with the situation maturely. It’ll get you a lot further in life. But you don’t have to take my word for it.

XOXO!

Movie Review: Unfriended

My dad & I went to see this last night. I rarely see horror movies in the theater, but I thought I would give this one a try. It’s another “found footage” premise & appeared to be this generation’s Blair Witch Project. I admit, I was a little fuzzy on the inciting incident.

SPOILERS AHEAD:

A teenage girl, Laura Barns, was the victim of bullying, apparently for a protracted period. A video was posted of her presumably at a party where she was passed out and the implication was she had been raped. Laura then ended up shooting herself on school property. I had a hard time making the connection between the video and how that related to the bullying. The best I can figure is she was somehow blamed for the rape because she was drunk. The story begins on the anniversary of her death.

Five friends, Blaire (Laura’s former BFF), Mitch (Blaire’s boyfriend), Adam (random friend #1), Ken (random friend #2), Jess (random friend #3), and Val (random friend #4) are in a video chat. A mysterious 7th user with a vague handle and no photo appears, too. Blaire determines the account belonged to Laura. At first, the suspect is Val. When she’s added to the call, it can be seen she’s not the one typing. Pictures of her getting wasted are posted and tagged on Facebook supposedly coming from Jess. Jess claims she didn’t post them and is unable to delete them. The mysterious user continues to reveal more pictures of Val, then allows Jess to delete them. They’re warned not to hang up. Val hangs up to call the police. When her video feed comes back on, she’s staring blankly at the screen. A bottle of bleach is sitting next to her. The other ones yell to try to get her attention, but she still doesn’t respond. When the cops do show up, she’s pronounced a suicide. The mysterious user explains this is just the first step at exposing all of their secrets they’ve kept from each other. One rule – don’t hang up.

Ken is the first to make the poor choice of hanging up. The mysterious user shows a video feed that’s coming from Ken’s closet. He hangs up to investigate. When his video feed cuts back on, he has his arm stuck in a blender, then the blades cut his throat. Freaking out ensues. Laura then forces them all to play “Never Have I Ever”. The loser dies. Jess started rumors about Blaire being anorexic. Blaire and Adam are exposed as sleeping with each other after Blaire claims she’s saving herself for Mitch. Mitch ratted out Adam for selling weed. Both Blaire and Adam get printed messages (my printer goes haywire all the time, so there you have it). Mitch tries to get them to show them what the messages say. Blaire finally caves in an effort to placate Mitch. The message reads “If you show anyone this message, Adam will die”. Adam then shoots himself in the head.

Jess goes next with a curling iron shoved down her throat. Mitch stabs himself in the head, and that leaves Blaire all by herself (presumably how Laura wanted it in the first place). Mitch was the one who posted the video, but Blaire refused to say anything until the last second. Blaire tries to show Laura the good times they had growing up. Laura refuses to forgive her and the lights cut out in Blaire’s house. A set of mysterious hands snap Blaire’s laptop shut & she’s heard screaming. The end.

As horror movies go, it was middle ground. It wasn’t terribly graphic which I liked. I thought the curling iron was an interesting weapon of choice. It was also under an hour and a half which was a good idea. Much longer than that and it would have been boring. They relied heavily on the jump scare. I’m a jumper, so they got me there. It was a combination of screwing with your head & seeing the “monster”. The director said that he wanted to address the issue of cyber bullying and how this ain’t your mom’s bullying. It was a cautionary tale for the asshole teenagers who think it’s okay to do shit like that. Frankly, all of them deserved what they got. I ended up rooting for Laura after they started to believe it was really her spirit.

If you have some free time & you’re looking for a slightly updated BWP, I’d go. Otherwise, this isn’t a run to the theater now and see it.

Moral of the story: Don’t post compromising videos of people, then act like it didn’t happen. The vengeful spirit will come back and shove a curling iron down your throat.

XOXO!

Of big summer movies and velociraptors

Sooooo…

The last few entries have been a wee bit depressing, no? Let’s cheer things up in here a bit. What better to cheer things up than discuss the BEST. MOVIES. EVER. There are 2 in particular that I’m stupid excited for.

Avengers 2: Age of Ultron

Where to start? First – James Spader voicing Ultron. He’s going to be absolutely freaking amazing. The thought makes me squeal with glee. His “OMG you people are CRAZY” reaction during the ComicCon panel was fantastic. The first Avengers is one of my top 5 movies. Where most sequels disappoint, I have absolute faith that this one may even outdo the original. I’m looking forward to meeting the two newest members of the team, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. I also have to laugh a little that Sony and Marvel got into a huge spat over the Quicksilver character. End result? Cast a different actor & never mention that the other franchise exists. Told you he moved fast. 😉

If I had to have a superpower? Quicksilver. My actual superpower? Hulk (you won’t like me when I’m angry). Thank God purple is my favorite color.

Jurassic World

It’s a fucking T-Rex with fucking ARMS! I saw the original Jurassic Park in the theaters when I was 8. I guess I annoyed my dad so much that he finally caved and took me. I made it through the scariest part of the movie (the T-Rex escape), but then bailed after Nedry got shot in the face with the goop by the dinosaur’s name that I can never spell. Missed the velociraptors (yes, yes I know they’re actually Utahraptors, but whatevs) entirely. Not this time around. Watching Chris Pratt teach the raptors how to play well with others? All over it. I would love to see cameos from as many of the original cast as possible. I kind of want to see Jeff Goldblum reprise his “I hate being right all the time” line. Again, I squeal with glee. I’m also glad Chris Pratt’s character gets to keep the actor’s sense of humor. Why so serious?

Team Velociraptor for life.

So that’s my nerding out. I’ll post actual reviews when I’ve seen the actual movies. My dad & I are going to see Unfriended this weekend. It will probably be total crap and the ’10s version of “The Blair Witch Project” (which I’ve never seen, btw). The concept looked decent & I’m all about a little revenge from beyond the grave. Don’t piss me off because I will haunt your ass. And possibly get you to stick your hand in a blender. That is neither here nor there.

Everyone have an awesome weekend, laugh your asses off at nothing, and don’t do anything in public that would embarrass your lovely author.

And I’m just going to leave this here. Because it’s my blog and I can.

XOXO!

Of facts and attitude is everything

In keeping with the recommendation that I solicit outside opinions to improve my attitude at work, I picked up Growing The Positive Mind by Dr. William K. Larkin. The gist is you can train your brain to feel good and be positive most of the time. He gives exercises to help modify one’s outlook and interaction with the world.

I tend to associate “positive” with “perky”. I’m not sure where that connection came from, but it’s what makes me get a little squicky when someone suggests I “be more positive”. What the book is slowly introducing is you can be positive / optimistic / happy without getting out the pom poms and cheer bows. It doesn’t even have to be spoken. It’s a way of looking at the world and seeing the light rather than the dark. Positive is looking forward using what you’ve already learned. Negative is looking behind you, dredging up the past, and going over it repeatedly. It’s awfully difficult to be optimistic about what’s in front of you when you’re too busy looking behind you at everything that has gone wrong.

The hardest part about the past is it’s both always with us because it’s what brought us to where we are now, but something that we need to accept is behind us and, therefore, unable to change. Getting upset over something someone said yesterday is a waste of time. Getting upset at myself for something I did five minutes ago is a waste of time. “What If” are probably two of the worst words you can use, up there with “should”. I need to write that in giant letters over my computer screen or on my bathroom mirror. Or both.

One of the important parts of the book are 4 things you need to stop doing in order to succeed. They are:

  • Stop Being Critical of Yourself and Others (guilty x 1000)
  • Stop Blaming Others for Your Problems or Any Problems, for that matter (guilty)
  • Give Up Being a Cynic or Critic of the World (guilty)
  • Be very, very picky about what you watch on TV, especially the news (I got this one! Yay!)

I freely admit that I mask cynicism as “realism”.

“But I had all this crap happen! Why should I believe that it’s going to improve? That’s not reality!” [Shut up, Hailey]. Yes, shit happens. Bad shit happens. Shit I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. The whole point of this blog is to take the shit that happened to me and learn what I can from it. What did that situation teach me? What does any crap situation teach me? How can I apply what I learned in another part of my life? Can this lesson help someone else if it doesn’t serve me right now? There are facts – which can be proved empirically, then there’s reality. Reality, especially when there are two human beings involved, is pretty damned subjective. Have two people observe the same set of circumstances and you’ll get two different answers for “what did you just witness?”. I don’t know about you, dear readers, but I get caught up in my own reality very easily. My reality is someone else’s theory. Someone else’s reality could just be a theory for me. All facts are realities, but not all realities are facts.

I end this entry with a little anecdote. When my dad was going through his cancer treatments the first time around, his oncologist shared something with my mom. He said that what he’d observed in his patients was the ones with a positive outlook did worlds better than those without. If you believe that you’re going to get through it, that’s a huge step in success. If you just give up, sign your own death certificate, and wait then you’ll get exactly what you signed up for. That was something that always stuck with me. Even in a literal life or death situation, if you believe you can live, then you’ve got a start.

XOXO!

Of rare breeds and buy low, sell high

The entry requires a tad of boring back story before I can get to the point:

The Series 7 (S7) exam is the exam that allows someone to legally give investment advice. My current employer doesn’t offer stock, so the S7 isn’t a necessity. They do, however, maintain the license for me. The Series 6 (S6), the S7’s much nicer younger sibling, is all that’s required. Things are moving in the direction of us becoming a full service broker dealer (i.e. offering stocks, options, etc.) rather than our current menu of annuities and mutual funds. Fascinating, I know. The S7 is 260 questions split into 2 sections with a 6 hour time limit. There’s a required 30 minute break between the two sections. The S6 is 100 questions with a 2 hour time limit. See what I mean about being the nicer younger sibling? I already have my S7, so I’m off the hook. Everyone who only has an S6 will need to upgrade to an S7 at some point over the next year or so.

My supervisor has his study materials for the S7 on order. I gave him a few tips on what to have a solid understanding of before going into the test. I studied several hours a day, five days a week, took a 4 day crash course, and still only passed by 1 point. Granted, I was new to the industry and working from scratch, but it’s still a test that requires a lot of time and effort to be able to pass. My biggest piece of advice was don’t get cocky just because he’s been in the industry a few years. When he asked me a few weeks ago why I was studying options strategies, I told him I wanted to do something remotely work related that might help me later on. If we are moving in the direction of going full service, there are exams I want to take that are entirely options based. Having those licenses would offer a ton of opportunities because they’re fairly rare. I’m currently a rare breed and I’d like to keep it that way. In short, I’m more than a little territorial.

I commented to someone else that by helping him out, he’ll owe me one later on. Why can’t I just offer advice because I can without expectation of anything in return? Help a brother out? Why should I expect something back in the first place? Well, we’re not friends. I’ll help my friends out for free, but you’re not my friend, so you better pony up, either now or in the future. Is that the kind of person I really want to be? It’s one thing to say “I’ll owe you one” knowing full well that you’ll return whatever favor because you want to. It’s entirely another to say “You’ll owe me one” and expect something in return whenever it suits. I could have refused to even offer the advice in the first place. I could have just kept it to myself. Instead, I told him what I’d learned from my own experience.That doesn’t mean he’s obligated to share something with me when I ask for it. (My advice was completely unsolicited. It came up in conversation).

I take a great deal of pride in the fact that I passed all four of my exams on the first try. Part of me feels like if he starts passing the same exams I have, first try or otherwise, then he’ll get promoted or selected or what have you over me. Again. He was hired after I was. He didn’t have any licenses when he came in. He doesn’t have a college degree. He skipped every entry and mid-level management position. I know I’ve said it before and I certainly don’t want his job (too much dealing with the great unwashed. Ew.). I don’t like feeling that my experiences, licenses, and ambition are being totally ignored and under used. I was able to tell another manager who isn’t currently in my chain of command about those issues. He consented that it’s a frustrating position to be in. If I give my supervisor tips and he passes based on what I told him, then I’ll feel like I screwed myself by helping him. After four rejections in as many months, it stings to think that I could be party to him still having a leg up over me. There’s probably another rejection looming. I interviewed for an internal position two weeks ago, a decision was supposed to be made last Friday, and I’m 99.8% sure I’ll be passed over for that one, too. Then I’m still left where I’ve been for the past 3 years doing exactly what I was doing when they hired me with no real options to move.

It’s normal to be frustrated. It’s normal to be upset because I know I walked in with much stronger credentials. Yet someone who, on paper, was inferior to me moves up faster than I could ever hope. While he and his supervisor have harped on how my attitude is holding me back, I honestly don’t think that’s a large part of it. Everyone I’ve interviewed with said I gave a solid interview. There’s just always been someone who edged me out. I’ve been second choice at least three times. The hard part is trying not to let it get me down.

Beth (Hailey’s doesn’t give a fuck younger sister), pops up with her opinion that I should just say “fuck you” and genuinely try to find something different. I know for a fact I could get paid more. I know I could find somewhere that would actually use my credentials to their true advantage. I wouldn’t be a rare breed any more, but I also wouldn’t be constantly frustrated and annoyed because I’m not being challenged at all. Hailey, on the other hand, is all about “What’s the point? You’ll just get rejected again anyway”.

I can sit in the mud and sulk all I want. Eventually, I’m going to have to get up, rinse myself off, and keep moving. My core is all about being able to get up again. I’ve survived a hell of a lot worse than being stuck in a rut at work. I’ve been in a sexually harassing work environment. At least my supervisor isn’t walking up behind me at my desk and touching me without my permission. I survived getting fired for a completely bullshit reason. I can survive this as long as I keep getting up and keep showing I want to move forward. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.

XOXO!

Of being (unwillingly) touched by a (not) virgin and no thank you

Those of you who know me know that I (quite happily) live under a rock. I figure if news is big enough, whether it’s a plane crashing or a Kardashian getting pregnant, I’ll hear about it one way or another. I just got wind of this whole Madonna kissing Drake thing at some awards show / performance / whatever. I admit, I had to Google Drake. Yes, I’m not so secretly a 90 year old woman. I digress…

After looking at it myself and perusing other articles relating to the whole scenario, Drake got the (very) short end of the stick. I’m of the “not cute” school of thought. He played it off far better than I would have. If someone, Madonna or otherwise, tried that with me, they would have gotten decked. Though knowing where Madonna has been over the years, I would probably be brushing my teeth with bleach for a week. Allow me to share, son. Once again, we come back to the crux of the issue relating to all things.

Consent.

It would be one thing if backstage, they were like “Yeah! This will be a great bit!”. I’m thrilled that Madonna still wants to prove she’s got it, whatever “it” may be. However, that doesn’t mean you can get all kissy face with someone who isn’t expecting it and, most likely, doesn’t want it. If the situation had been reversed and a man had “surprised” a woman with a kiss on stage, the pitchforks and torches would be out. Since it was initiated by the woman, everyone is more like “Eh, well…”. So let’s kick it up a notch.

Y’all, female on male rape does exist. It’s grossly underreported because a lot of people, the men themselves in particular, don’t believe rape works that way. A man can rape a man because they both have penises, but a woman can’t rape a man because she’s the penetrated partner. Rape, by definition, is someone else using your body for their pleasure without your consent. “Oh, but if a guy has an erection, he’s into it!”. No, that’s biology. Guys, correct me if I’m wrong here, but I don’t think a boner means your into getting up at 6a. Right? Would you tell a female rape victim that because she had an orgasm that she wanted it? Again, biology. I happen to know a man who was raped by a woman (and it’s with his consent that I share this).

He went through the exact same cycle as female rape victims. The self destructive actions, the depression, the whole nine yards. I know I questioned, and sometimes still do, if what happened to me was really rape. Imagine being a straight man who was victimized by a straight woman. That can’t possibly be rape, right? Yes, yes it can. He told her to stop and she didn’t. He revoked his consent, but she ignored it. Everyone; male, female, trans, straight, gay, questioning, or whatever may be the situation, has the right to say “stop” or “no” at any time. The other party is obligated to listen and comply. Quite frankly, I got more respect out of guys I would pick up at bars while so drunk I couldn’t stand up than I got from someone who claimed to love me and I’d been with for years. He wasn’t in a serious relationship with this particular woman, but that doesn’t make it any better or easier to swallow. I would argue it’s easier to be able to leave and never look back than it is to stay with the person who just violated your own agency over your body. That’s neither here nor there. He did things to himself that he can never take back. Just like someone had to point out that my seizures didn’t sound like any panic attack they’d ever heard of, someone else had to point out that what happened was actually rape. Things are always a little easier when we’re able to give them a name. It may not be a pleasant name, but it’s a name.

Rape can happen to anyone and be perpetrated by anyone. I know women who were raped by other women. I don’t personally know of any men who were raped by other men. The sad part is I probably do know someone that happened to,but he’s never said anything. That’s just statistics. Do everyone a favor and respect your partner. If they say “stop”, then stop. If they say “no”, then don’t do whatever it was you were planning on doing. It’s better to listen to your partner, even if it gives you a raging case of blue (lady) balls, than disrespect that person in the name of your own pleasure. I would like to think this is a no-brainer, especially for you my dear readers. It never hurts to be reminded. The word “dehumanizing” gets tossed around a lot in relation to rape cases. You never quite understand what that word means until it’s being used against you. I was simply a receptacle in the name of him proving his masculinity by putting on a show. I would never wish that feeling on anyone. I would never wish the aftermath on anyone. You should be able to revoke your consent and have that respected. It’s your body and your decision. Period.

So this wasn’t the most cheery of entries, but it needed to be said. I’m going to go crawl back under my rock and wait for Twitter or Facebook to inform me that either a plane has crashed or a Kardashian is pregnant. Or both.

XOXO!

Of rebels with causes and final farewells

My grandmother, my dad’s mom, officially died on Friday night. On the one hand, it’s sad. She’s the first grandparent to die. On the other hand, it’s a relief. We’d been going back and forth for almost a month. I know it’s been really hard on my dad. I listened to him read and rehearse her eulogy for over a week. I don’t think he knew I could hear him through the door. I sat on the floor and cried, not for me, but for him. As I’ve said, I’m not close to any of my grandparents. But it really hurts to watch someone you love lose someone they love, even if it’s not a surprise.

I won’t be going to the funeral. Originally, I was going to go to support my dad. It would take either a $1500+ round trip plane ticket with a layover each way or an 8 hour drive one way. He told me he didn’t want me to spend that much money and time to travel there and back. I think part of him doesn’t want me to see him upset. If he doesn’t want me to go, then go I won’t.

Friday was difficult for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the announcement of her passing. I’d already planned to take Wednesday off anyway, so I’m going to take tomorrow and Tuesday off as well. I need a little bit of time to regain my bearings after the emotional meat grinder I found myself being fed through repeatedly. It’s one thing to keep getting up and going to work because otherwise I know I’ll just stew. It’s another thing to genuinely need a few extra days to shake myself out of it. A few days to lie on the couch marathoning whatever show is on (Criminal Minds is Mondays and Tuesdays! Woohoo!) and refusing to put on actual pants. It’s better for me to shut my brain down for a few days than trying to keep going and end up sobbing in the bathroom every day just because I can’t take it.

What all of this has done is trigger my rebellious streak. The proverbial cut class, put on clothes my mother wouldn’t approve of, go to the mall, and stand outside smoking. I want to just say “fuck it”, go get another tattoo, ball up all my J.Crew outfits in favor of my old Alexander Hardy dresses (see my profile pic for a reference), and revert back to when I was actually rebelling against everyone and everything, especially in my own head. While that’s all very tempting, it won’t make me feel any better. It’s just like when I would drink myself to the point of falling over. It would feel good at the time, but then the hangover would set in.

No matter how strong a person is, it’s a little difficult to end a 4+ year relationship, be rejected for every single job you’ve applied for in the past year (if you were actually given a formal rejection in the first place), and watch a family member die all in the span of about 6 weeks. It’s hard not to blame myself for two of those three. What could I have done differently to get that job? To make the relationship work? The answer?

Nothing. I can’t control other people (no matter how much I would LOVE to). I did the best I could. I wore the right clothes and gave the right answers in interviews. I put myself out there. I gave what I was able to give. If that wasn’t good enough, that’s not my fault. I know when I’m giving it my best and when I’m not. I half assed something recently and did get called out on it. That was my fault. I knew I wasn’t doing what I’d been told to do to the fullest and best of my abilities. I didn’t want to do it, so I did the bare minimum to get it done. The rebel had already started to sneak out a bit. So we’re all going to take a time out. She can sit there with her feet up on the table, smoking and playing on her phone, then flipping off the camera when someone tries to take a picture. Then it’s time to go home. I guess Hailey has herself a sister now. As if it wasn’t crowded enough in here already. 😛

Now time to finish off my leftover sushi from last night and figure out what to marathon next. Catch you on the flip(ping off) side.

XOXO!