High Fives All Around

Recharge

I love coming across stories that show me just how great science is and just how awesome the people are who use it to make the world better. The last few days I’ve been reading about a boy who got a double hand transplant. First, he had no hands, and then, after a long surgery, he had two hands. Zero to two! It’s amazing. And they work. He can throw a ball and eat pizza, which are pretty much the only reasons to have hands.

They are supposed to grow with him, but doctors aren’t exactly sure if they’ll last his whole life—mostly because they have never put two new hands on a kid before. I hope they do, but even if they don’t, he will still have been able to throw a lot of balls and eat a lot of pizza before he gets new ones. And isn’t that what life is all about? Just enjoying it as much as we can until our body rejects itself?

Well, that got a little morbid, but this is actually a happy story. It reminds me that if our goals are to better ourselves (like these doctors pushing to do incredible surgeries) and the world (like these doctors helping people instead of building cyborgs to rob banks), humans can be pretty awesome. The rest of the news stories seem to be trying to convince me that we’re all terrible, but this one served as a reminder that we don’t have to be.

 

 

Unreal World

RealWorld

Every once in a while, it’s important to stop thinking about work and chores and news and start thinking about what it would be like if we all had to ride giant tortoises to work or if all our food was available in pie form alone. How fast would these tortoises go? What would a spaghetti pie taste like? These are the things I think about when I’m supposed to figuring out my life.

Someone’s Something

WeightyWords

I’ve had this thought sitting in my gut for awhile now. I haven’t found the right moment to put it up, because every moment seems like exactly the perfect one and most definitely the wrong one. Just yesterday, though, I read another story about a college-aged boy who was found guilty of sexually assaulting a female peer and given a sentence lighter than many convicted shoplifters and nonviolent drug offenders. It was just one in a long series of these stories that pass through my newsfeed. Every week, I read about girls who have been violated not only by their attackers, but by the judicial system meant to protect them. I almost typed the judicial system made to protect them, but we all know that’s not true.

This post isn’t really about those offensively imbalanced sentences, though, or the fact that the system seems to value items in a store more than the body of a woman. This one isn’t even about the crime—that horrible, tragic, but oh so common crime. This post I’ve got to get out is about how we talk about it afterward, particularly the way many well-meaning men talk about it. Because language matters. And the words we choose are connected to the root of the violence, to its societal persistence, to those careless responses.

When a story like this comes out, there’s a train of men who say, “What if this was your mother, your sister, or your wife? What would you do then?” There are more who say, “Remember she is someone’s daughter, someone’s niece, someone’s girlfriend.” Always in the possessive. Consistently, girls are being told we aren’t valuable until we’re validated by a man. We’re told our significance lies in our relationships to them—that we mean something because we are something to him.

I understand the need to place a stranger inside your own reality in order to pull out that harder-and-harder-to-find empathy. I get the desire to figure out how to relate to a seemingly unrelatable situation and why these words surface each time we face the news of another horrendous assault. It provides an entry point for people who feel like they don’t have an entry point into this conversation. I appreciate that. I appreciate the broadening of this discussion, because the more we talk about it the closer we inch toward justice, equality, and safety. But these feelings shouldn’t be our door to the issue and I’m tired of hearing it over and over again.

We are not someone’s something. Our value isn’t wrapped around the men in our lives. Our value rests in the fact that we are amazing creatures who happened to grow on this strange planet. So the next time you see a kindhearted, misguided man tweet about how we should all remember that the latest newsworthy victim is someone’s girlfriend, please gently correct him. Tell him she means something just because she is. Tell him it’s enough to say, “She is someone.”

Power of Love

Loving

Facebook keeps telling me how many days it’s been since my last post. It’s an embarrassing number. I stopped looking. Ok, I didn’t stop looking. I looked and then yelled at my computer to stop shaming me and to just let me live. Because I’ve been up to something important.

A lot has happened in the past week, the most significant of which was my sister’s wedding. I was busy completing Pinterest projects, holding her hand, and dancing the night away, so I didn’t get to write much. I did write one thing though—for the happy couple. They seemed to like it and my mom threatened to post it herself if I didn’t put it up here. Based on my knowledge of celebrity gossip, I know it’s crucial to always answer the threats of your number one fan, so here it is.

This is the speech I gave at the reception. It has a few corny jokes, which go over great in big crowds (a lesson I learned from 90s stand-up comics). I’m such a nerd I can’t even write about love without getting all literary and sci-fi-y. That’s obviously not a word yet, but I feel like any word (even a newly created one) that requires two en dashes is worth typing out. Also, I really thought I might have a heart attack before I picked up the microphone, but I survived. Barely.

People have been thinking about love for thousands of years. We’ve made sonnets and screenplays and sculptures all its name. I’d bet there are cave paintings depicting loved ones embracing. Or arguing over what to eat for dinner. Probably both. But I’m going to talk about one particular love story. And it’s not yours. Well, not exactly.

In ancient Greece, privileged men used to sit around and talk about important subjects—history, science, politics, and, of course, love. So, Plato was doing this with his pals and he asked them what they thought of love. The conversation eventually came around to Aristophanes.

He said mankind has never understood the real power of love. He got a little preachy about it all, as the Greeks tended to do with their myths, but here’s the important part:

At the start, people were round, with four arms and four legs. They had one head with two faces. I know, this is getting a little sci-fi, but bear with me. They were basically two people in one. It may seem like an odd shape for a person, but they were super powerful. They literally had eyes in the back of their heads. And they could carry so much. Most impressively, they could roll like crazy. Like, if they were at a family reunion or a field day, they would be killin’ it.

But this story is in the vein of most Greek myths. The people got a little arrogant and the gods got a little threatened. They were worried these two-for-one people might be able to overtake them. To protect themselves, the gods decided to split people in half.

After being split, people began to look for the rest of themselves. Literally, their other half. They would search and search and then, finally, embrace. Once the two halves found one another, Aristophanes said, “the pair [were] lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy, and one would not be out of the other’s sight, even for a moment.”

Because they were whole again. They were complete. And, he said, that’s love. Finding yourself whole.

I’m so glad you’ve found one another. That you can embrace and be whole. I hope you’ll be so powerful together that you make the gods of the ancient Greeks nervous.

And then everyone hugged and drank bourbon and danced to an eight-piece band—all in celebration of a four-armed, four-legged, two-faced creature. Or love. Either one.

Labor Laws

GoFish

Lawmakers and activists talk a lot about equal pay and closing the wage gap, but I rarely see any substantial steps taken to rectify this disparity. Yesterday I was happy to learn that Massachusetts had taken a nice hop forward. The governor signed the bill on Monday—the Republican governor. We are so often split by party in our lawmaking, so it’s refreshing to see a beneficial bipartisan law get passed. Of course, as with any legislation, it could have been better, but a hop forward is better than a step back. That’s probably the motto of The League of Extraordinary Bunnies.

This law asserts that wage discrimination based on gender is illegal, as we’d all expect. That kind of rule hasn’t done much for those of us being discriminated against, but it’s nice and important anyway. This one took one extra step. It made it illegal for employers to screen employees based on prior wages or salary history. That means it’s now illegal in Massachusetts for employers to ask that one very annoying interview question: “So what did you make at your last job?” That terrible question that says, “We don’t want to pay you much more than what you already make, despite our actual budget for the role.” The question that says, “We are not judging you based on your value, but based the value someone else, and someone else, and someone else has given you.” The question that makes my heart sink every time I hear it, because I did a poor job negotiating when I was 23.

Instead, this law requires an employer to give the first offer. It tackles the issue that many women carry with them throughout their careers. Salaries tend to build on one another, moving in tiny increments like a very tired sloth. When a young woman doesn’t negotiate an equal salary for herself—never mind that it’s nearly impossible to find out what exactly an equal salary is or that she’ll probably be judged harshly for even asking—she’s punished for life. This law is meant to flip the script. It forces employers to make the first move, to tell her what the position is worth to them.

I wish someone had passed this law where I lived when I was in my early 20s. It would have saved me a lot of headaches and resentment. It would probably mean I’d have a better paycheck now and that would mean more tacos. And, really, that’s the biggest tragedy. The patriarchy has kept me from maximum taco consumption. Down with the Man.

 

Greedy Gamers

LevelUpSocial

Last weekend I went to our local game shop to check out their rummage sale. It was a little too chaotic for me, but we did get a few fun games and Dave was happy about that. The worst part was the way the crowds had to move through the store: unstructured lines—the worst of any human organizational system.

I’m not great with lines, but if there’s a specific purpose, I’m of the opinion that we all should respect the order. A few of these zealous game-hunters did not feel the same way. They were worried their place in line was going to keep them from getting what they wanted. Maybe that’s true. Maybe they should have gotten there earlier. You know, that’s how lines work. The woman in front of me frantically pressed every worker that passed about her status and her desire to cut ahead. She was angry that she might miss something. She didn’t want what was just ahead of her. Blah blah blah. Eventually these workers gave in because who wants to argue with some crazy cat lady. Once that happened, a few more people cut to grab things ahead of others. And I had a minor emotional breakdown. Because what is the point of instilling a line system if you are going to allow people to disregard it! Honestly. Have you no sense of order?

Now, in an arbitrary line situation, where it’s created just to please a power hungry leader, or in a unnecessary line situation, where ignoring it won’t really harm anyone else, I’m all for thwarting the regimen. There’s nothing I hate more than an irrational rule. I skip ahead in buffet lines, I make my friends save my place at the movies, and I ask strangers to hold my spot while I go take a break—all valid coping mechanisms for my line-related anxiety (I think) and each one harmless to my fellow patrons. But I’m not going to step in front of someone to get the last slice of pizza. I’m from the Midwest. We just don’t do that.

These people weren’t trying to deal with the chaos of the situation, they were just being greedy, which is pretty sad. It was a tiny community of game-loving geeks at the store. We’ve got enough trouble outside the walls of a place dedicated to nerds, so we should really be sticking together. We’re stronger that way. Mostly because we all spend a lot of time inside, so it takes more of us to lift things.

We did come together at one point when a girl yelled, “Squirtle!” in the middle of the sale. Other people responded by shouting it up the line until the notice reached the whole group. A good 83% of us pulled out our phones because, you know, priorities. I don’t know if the line-cutters also tried to catch the virtual turtle or if they took the opportunity to swipe more unearned loot, but most of us were pretty pleased—both with our new Poke-friend and with our solid team effort. Nerds, unite.