In case you're lucky enough not to be my friend on Facebook, here's what my postings have looked like since the second presidential debate:
Well, it's late. I guess I'll put a few things away, read my son a story, and then curl up in my binder and go to sleep.
Darn it. I slept wrong, and now there's this weird mark on my face. Stupid top ring was digging into me all night.
We all know Facebook needs a "dislike" button. And depending on how big your circle of friends and family is, you may have wished for a "vomit" option while you're there. Or the option to hit "like" five extra times, so you don't have to look all cornball by saying, "I so love this!"
Forty seconds after I wrote my first list of options Facebook really ought to consider offering ("Please Learn How To Use Snopes"), I was smacking myself in the head for not including the following.
My big teenage rebellion gesture was running with the Mormons in high school and coming this close to getting baptized. My best friend was a Mormon. Unlike anyone else in my life at the time, her church family was warmly welcoming and always glad to see me. So I went to services for several hours every Sunday, read all the books and pamphlets I could get my hands on, and had long discussions about what being a Mormon meant with the local bishop. He was a kind, intelligent man who saw no contradiction between his faith and a deep love of science. He had no quarrel with evolution, and didn't think the Bible did, either. Please let the record state that my failure to officially join the Mormon church is in no way due to any failing on the part of this good man.
I never did get baptized. I realized that I was using the church as an excuse not to face my fears about sex, career plans, and the possibility of a universe without a god. So I left, and fumbled around for answers as best I could alone.
But I did take away from those years an invisible badge -- a sense of having once been an honorary Mormon. I have a bit of a soft spot for them. I like the fact that you have to be actively trying not to get into heaven -- well, a heaven, anyway -- so far as the Mormons are concerned. Virtuous nonbelievers go to a perfectly okay place. So do otherwise virtuous smokers and drinkers. You practically have to be a professional baby-kicker to go to Mormon hell. And the top-tier Mormon heaven is way more interesting than most Christian paradises. I'm just saying.
Why do I do this to myself?
My "Bitter Atheist's Wish List" just got a huge and seemingly random uptick of viewers. So like an idiot, I tried to find out what was up and what people were saying about it.
The wish list is very much like my bitter homeschooler's wish list. I wrote both not because I hear these comments a lot, but because I hear from people who hear them all the time. And I'm a writer. And I give good bitter. And reading this kind of list can be very cathartic for the people who do hear these comments all the time.
So a woman I always thought of as a friend sent me a link to the HuffPost article about Total-E-Bound Publishing -- the ones who are doing the naughty rewrites of some classic works of literature. The only thing I can find to like about this story is that they're being completely honest. Print-form porn for women will sell if you can make it look reasonably classy, so we're hoping this will project will make a lot of money.
I flipped out about this, not because I object to porn but because I don't think the classics need help. Without having to try too hard, I found (and blogged about) ten hot scenes from old books. And no, I don't mean books like The Monk, which was specifically setting out to be as naughty as eighteenth-century-England possible. I mean books like Return of the Native and Anne Brontë's Agnes Grey.
I'm still ticked, though. Because I still have some questions for good-God-do-I-hate-typing-their-name Total-E-Bound Publishing.
...they would believe that:
Pregnant women should be not only allowed but legally required to claim a Child Tax Credit.
Any child conceived in the United States is an American citizen.
I want to talk about decorum.
Specifically, I want to talk about the rules of decorum according to Michigan politics.
I want to talk about the decorum -- or is it lack thereof? -- of using words like "vagina" and phrases like "having sex" when the subject is legislation on reproductive rights.
"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
I hate that line as much as I love it. I love it because it's the first sentence of a novel I love. I hate it because, frankly, it's full of charlotte russe. There is nothing original about misery. What's amazing is that any of us ever manage to be happy even for a few minutes at a stretch.
Obviously Tolstoy was writing in the dark ages, before Facebook was invented. But even then -- didn't he notice how complainers never have anything new to say? Like, ever?
Ms. Magazine's blog just ran an article about a passenger getting kicked off a flight. Sadly for this reader, the plane hadn't taken off yet.
Shortly before takeoff, this passenger found out that the pilot of the plane he was on was a woman. He doesn't seem to have a clue what goes into becoming an actual pilot; but he'd heard somewhere that being a woman is entirely a matter of answering "yes" to a one-question exam regarding current possession of a vagina. (And some would argue even that's too comprehensive.)
At any rate, the passenger in question didn't see how this alone could qualify her to pilot even a smallish plane, let alone a passenger jet. Understandably, he stood up and began to shout that he should have been warned that this was the case and he couldn't possibly fly with a vagina at the controls. (That last bit is an exact quote, other than one word that I paraphrased. Though not by much.)
I hate name-droppers, mostly because I never get to be one. But I used to live in the same building with Marti Noxon. She even came over a few times just to hang out.
At the time it looked as if our careers were headed in the desired directions. I started selling short vampire fiction right about the time she got her job with Buffy The Vampire Slayer. But selling a few stories, even to well-reviewed anthologies, isn't exactly earth-shattering. I wasn't jealous of Marti's new job. I didn't want to write for TV. I wanted to write novels. Actually, I was already writing them. Now I wanted to sell them. And I kept sending them out, and they kept coming back.
Marti was more than nice about it when I groused. She was encouraging in a way that only those in the field can be. "Already, you've done a lot more than plenty of people have," she said.
Several years ago, my son was invited to become a member of a local Boy Scout troop that was led by a friend of mine. Her son and mine were close in age and temperament, and she and I wanted more opportunities for them to spend time together. We both homeschooled, we lived a half-hour's drive apart, and we had packed schedules; so it wasn't as if the kids could play together at recess or get together for frequent play dates. Joining this group would have been ideal. Except for one little problem.
"Don't worry," my friend said when I voiced my concerns. "I'm the den leader. I'm not going to tell anyone."
I just couldn't do it. Signing my son up for Boy Scouts would have felt like a lie, because for us, it would be a lie. The Boy Scouts don't care which religion you espouse, but they do insist that you have one. The word "God" is in their oath, the word "reverent" in their law.
I have a T-shirt I designed but don't wear much any more. It says, "Yes I Homeschool And No I'm Not A Right-Wing Religious Nut."
I don't wear it much any more partly because I'm 44 and just don't plaster words across my chest as often as I used to. Partly it's because even I know that them's fightin' words, and I don't always feel like having that kind of argument when I only ran out to buy some bananas. (It's especially unnerving when I forget what shirt I put on this morning and have no idea why someone's snapping at me until they point accusingly at my bosom.)
But mostly it's because I don't like the message as much as I used to. Yes, I'm still a secular homeschooler; and yes, I'm aware that this is a minority position. But there's something degrading about the idea of begging the mainstream population for forgiveness: "It's okay! I'm not like those homeschoolers!" And there's something misleading about saying that it's unusual to be a secular American homeschooling parent, when the larger truth is, it's unusual to be a secular American parent, period.