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13 February 2014 @ 06:07 pm

I'm reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. I bought it quite a while back, before the Dear Muslima episode and his losing fave with a lot of the atheist bloggers I respect. Mostly I just think it makes sense to read something so many people talk about having been pivotal in their journeys, even if the author has a foot in mouth issue.




In context of recent events, it's certainly interesting how often Dawkins references Michael Shermer as a source.




What keeps making me uncomfortable, though, is something I've noticed before. So often when Dawkins lists sources for something, which is fairly regularly as he recommends further reading for more in depth reading on a topic he has touched on briefly, he lists only male authors.




It bothers me, and it has for a while. A few years ago, I read a book called The Descent of Woman, about evolution and intended as a pun on the book by Darwin, The Descent of Man. The author, a woman, claimed that scientists in their guesses about the past focused attention on the male of the species to the exclusion of the female in ways that might lead to actual error. It was the first book I ever read that treated evolution as a reasonable, factual event, and made it accessible to me, and I don't know whether the author had any good scientific points, but I can't help thinking of her sociological points when I hear people talking about the ancient past now. If you listen, so often the male of the species is the actor and the female is a constant that is acted upon, and evolution of behavior happens based on ancient males trying to work around ancient females, who were immovable, immutable, inscrutable. This author not only made evolution accessible to me as an idea, she gave me the uses that maybe men in the sciences didn't know everything and had some biases no one was noticing that might radically change the picture.




So today, when I see a scientist recommending books about science to a skeptical audience, and none of them, none at all, are by women, I wonder. I winner as a woman where the voices like mine are. I wonder as a feminist how women will get read if no one recommends them in the most common books (the God Delusion was in the opening scene of a rom-com I saw recently, for goodness sake). And I wonder as a newbie to science and skepticism how women's voices and women's input to science will influence and balance the picture if they are quietly shuffled off to the corner and ignored.




I am not entirely comfortable with my own personal solution, that of giving extra weight to women authors when choosing what to read, and making a point of looking for women's work, even though I have found stories that I might otherwise not have found and which fit my inner self on ways others so often don't. I still find the practice uncomfortable, probably in the same way anyone finds affirmative action uncomfortable. I don't know what else to do, and I don't know what else to think of a person who can't recommend any books by women but that they are a lazy thinker, unable or unwilling to see beyond the easy and the popular.


Current Location: Memphis, Lasalle Pl, 2097
19 April 2013 @ 10:22 pm

I am so mad today, just seething and raging and thinking and thinking and thinking. I probably seem as calm and more or less as cheerful as ever to people on the outside, because I'm not good at expressing my anger and the people I'm angry at aren't available for comment, so taking it out on the restaurant servers and such wouldn't make sense. But so far I can't resolve this, because I can't express it.


I don't know why today, or why these events; nothing about today was any worse than usual, nothing was different or unexpected. It was just too much, is all. My coworker who sits next to me laughed at me and criticized me - not for the first time - for being "detailed" because I tried to give accurate and concise information in answer to a question our boss asked me about a system issue I was having. Instead of saying "yes" when he asked me if something didn't work, I explained that something a little different wasn't working - because that information might be important in getting the system fixed. If my coworker had stopped with on comment and one laugh it might have gone on by like all the other times he's laughed at and criticized me for things I consider virtues and strengths, but he doesn't ever stop with just one comment. He goes on and on and repeats himself and entertains himself at length. So I told him I thought being detailed was a strength, a good thing, useful for troubleshooting, something I did on purpose, and I thought he was being rude and I didn't appreciate it. I kept talking until he decided to stop talking, because that's the only way to shut him up. I have absolutely had it with being treated like a silly child for acting like an adult. I'm sick to death of being laughed at for protesting sexist, homophobic, violent conversations (about rape, murder, beating children, etc), for seeing other people's perspectives instead of assuming malevolent and ridiculous motives, for having and caring about integrity and doing things right rather than whatever will pass.


My boss told me that she couldn't approve a school schedule for next semester that would be exactly the same as the school schedule I have this semester. Why? Supposedly, her "HR lady" tells her they won't be approving any exceptions at all. That would be ok, except we don't know what hours we will work until halfway through the day, so there's no planning around their schedule. My school schedule? I leave "early" after working 9 hours on Mondays and Wednesdays. Every other day, including Saturday, I work whatever hours they call. So if they call 12 or 14 hours every day including Saturday, I work 9 hours on Monday and Wednesday, and 12 (or 14) hours every other day of the week. And there's no telling what the call will be - we learn that about halfway through the day. I can't even plan on the day. About lunch time I find out whether I'll be getting off at 3:30 or 7:30 or later.


This company has such incredibly bad management, bad systems, bad planning, bad everything. The morale is so terrible, some days I'm not sure whether to think a union organizing or a riot is more likely. If a pin drops the wrong way, something terrible could happen. And what is the response? Let's write people up for stuff that happened months ago. Let's institute a policy where you can't sit in your own car on the parking lot during your lunch hour. Let's take away the ability to go to school and work toward a better life. Let's crack down on attendance. Let's assume all the employees are stupid or liars and institute more system checks to keep them busy on policy rather than actual work.


They seem to laboring under the misapprehension that they are running a slave labor camp or a prison. Just because it feels like a prison - you can't leave until they say, you can't get up until they say, you can't walk out without scanning an ID badge multiple times and walking through TSA style security, you can't have music or internet or email, you can't choose your seatmates, you can't choose your work, you can't affect your environment - it isn't one. It's a job, and one of the most ridiculously worst I've ever had.


Then there's Royce. We're broken up. I'm living in my room, he in his. Suddenly a few weeks ago, he started staying out all night and hasn't come home hardly at all the past week. He says, the times I asked because I was worried, that he's been on call at work and it's been a rough month on call, lots of calls. He's been on call before, and it's never been like this. I don't believe him anymore, I think he's lying to me. I think he's seeing someone. That's ok; that's a point of breaking up and being single again, that you are free to find someone else. But I'm helpless to deal with it because I only suspect (based on knowing him, so I'm pretty sure) and angry with him for lying to me. Especially because he always made such a deal about lying being so horrible and the thing he would break off friendships or relationships for. And I'm angry with myself for caring, because it's not my business. And I'm angry with life, because I have no one anymore to have my back or tell these things to anymore. That's one of the things I valued about being in a relationship, and one of the things I find frightening about being alone, knowing there's nobody I trust, nobody to rely on, nobody to call, nobody who gets it, nobody who understands, nobody who knows me. I have some friends, but they are relatively new, and simply put, I don't feel like they are really there like that for me.


Usually I am slow to anger and quick to forgive; it takes a lot to push me, and usually just leaving me in peace for a few minutes allows me to forget I was ever upset to begin with. So I don't know really how to deal with anger that stays, fury that builds. I don't know what to do, except create speeches in my head, of all the things I wish I could say, all the things I think people should get. And daydream about throwing and breaking and crying and screaming. 

03 March 2013 @ 06:25 pm
I've been struggling with something. I don't know who to ask, and I don't know enough about the subject to figure it out on my own. What I experience doesn't seem to match what society expresses in media or what people talk about in my hearing, which makes me feel a bit like a freak, but I've gotten used to that, and figure if I'm doing or feeling something, probably others are too and it's not that big of a deal. Still, I want to understand it and know what is going on.

I have for a few years mentally identified myself as bisexual because of two things: I am much more interested in looking at women than men, and I get crushes on women more intensely and more emotionally effective than on men. I have never had a relationship with a woman, or even kissed one; of course, my romantic relationships have been rather few given my age and that's not really saying anything (give it about the weight of a 20 year old telling you they have never had a relationship with a woman, it's about my level of experience).

When I have a crush on a woman, I tend to focus on traits about her that I want for myself, or perhaps I should say, that I respect and admire (sounds better). I like her ability to be blunt and funny at the same time, while eminently readable, and gentle when the situation calls for it. I think she's really pretty and very good socially and good at seeing behind the obvious to really read people well. I think she's navigating a change of life, a frightening one, with grace and aplomb I envy, and I wish I could be the one she was interested in. I think she's smart and interesting and driven and never needs anyone and wish she would let herself need me once in a while. These are all women I've known, and had crushes on. I use the word "crush" but it seems inadequate because these things don't fade as a crush is supposed to, and inappropriate because I'm not sure what I am feeling is a desire for a romantic relationship. Sometimes it seems that way, but others it doesn't.

For example, there's a girl I knew when I was a child; from about age 6 on. Through high school and beyond. Her name and her picture in my head is louder and more vibrant than others I've known just as long; if I met her again today I would care more what she thought of my life today than I would what others from that time period thought, and I've hoped more than once that she's found some kind of path to a more sane life than the one we grew up in. But something that starts when you are 6 and lasts into your 30s more than a decade after you last met the person isn't properly a "crush", is it? Nor really an obsession. I don't know what to call it. I would think maybe everyone has this, but it seems unlikely unless it is so common no one discusses it, and the other odd thing is I never feel this way about men, not ever.

I tend to sometimes write it off as something nonsexual where I am not really interested in a relationship with this person beyond friendship, because I am not experiencing unbidden sexual thoughts about these women. I am usually wondering if they approve of me, or trying to emulate the qualities about them that I admire, instead. But then I remember that before I experienced sexuality with men I didn't have sexual thoughts about them either, and generally I don't think sexual thoughts about men unless I'm in such a situation - my mind doesn't naturally go there without suggestion, and isn't visually stimulated, and I thought kissing sounded really gross before I tried it (really, not kidding). So what I think now doesn't really decide, since I haven't tried anything. But it might be true. Maybe this is how I feel about role models I want to be like. How would I know? Why do I feel so differently toward women I respect than men? I can't think of any men I respect like I can think of a whole crowd of women I feel strongly about. Why?
19 August 2012 @ 08:55 pm
I had an experience last night that was unique for me, and explaining it will involve describe the race and class of people I was with and the environment I was in, which is usually not relevant to telling a story (in my opinion). In this case I want a chance to discuss how the event affected me emotionally but also to explore my reaction realizing that I am reacting more or less from a place of white middle class privilege. I also found myself making extensive use of the word "crazy" which I am aware of as a problematic word. I leave it as indicative of the problem, which should be explained by the end. At the time, crazy was the word I was thinking and even saying to myself and in private, so it is the way I am telling the story.

I found myself in a situation last night, downtown in a city known for high crime, in a parking garage at 4 am, with a distraught co-worker (a black woman, who from her expressed interests and some other cues has some ties with a lower class background in a big city, let's call her K) who was alternating between sobbing, screaming obscenities and the n- word, and, as long as her boyfriend was present (a black man, who easily presents as middle class, and I can't tell his background, call him T), hitting and pushing him with significant force. They were arguing, I was never really sure why - it started and kind of snowballed like it does with people who have unresolved issues in their relationship, without any discernible cause - and then we got back to her car to leave and found out her car stereo had been stolen and that really set her off. She tried to call the police was so hysterical she couldn't make herself understood and was so loud they could barely hear me when I tried to talk to them. When the parking garage security attendants came over, she wouldn't let them ask any questions or even stand there with us; she screamed at them about how they were going to pay for her radio and where were they when her radio was stolen. I do mean screaming; I tried to explain over her and could not be heard, although she was not yelling at me. I imagine the entire multi level parking garage could hear her. Multiple times through the fight with the boyfriend and the waiting for the police she was sitting in the floor in the parking garage although the car was available to sit in, which I found odd as well; a way of making more of a display of the herself and her emotions about the entire situation. Eventually she decided to leave without making any police report and we drove home with her in an extreme emotional state, now complaining bitterly about her boyfriend leaving us to deal with the theft situation alone - "He lef' us. He lef' two women alone. You ain't shit. You just ain't fucking shit. They could have been following me home, you don't know. I have six brothers, you know? How could he do that? He lef' us" etc etc. 

Eventually we got back to her house, she dropped me at my car and I went home. In the morning her boyfriend texted me about being embarrassed by the situation, and she called me a couple hours later and apologized also. Apparently everyone is okay now. Unfortunately, the people I know who don't know these people would find the entire episode unintelligible, labeling the K's behavior "crazy" or just "dangerous". All they would need to know is she's someone to avoid. The people I know who would have some familiarity with cultures other than their own (which I think has some influence here) unfortunately a) know the people involved and going into detail about the situation would be embarrassing to my friend and b) don't know that K and T are dating and since they are co-workers that is problematic. Also, most everyone I know in offline life depressingly believe in gender essentialism and often have similar similar ideas about race (that black women are a certain way by nature that may be different than what white women are by nature - racial essentialism?), ideas that both white and black people in this very diverse city seem to espouse and not see as racist or sexist. 

So. I found her extremely intense display of emotion alien and frightening, hard to even comprehend. Emotion for me is felt at a remove, distant, far too easily pushed away and that torrent of rage and sadness that lasted for a couple of hours was something I simply cannot imagine feeling, much less displaying in that way. And while I do not actually approve of the actual extremity of some of her actions - hitting, punching and kicking her boyfriend, screaming at security guards who are after all just trying to do their jobs, at least to the point where you never let them do their job, my initial reaction of thinking my way is better was replaced by thinking that maybe my way is just different and possibly some of the difference was cultural. 

I would say that society sometimes rewards the woman who can fit the mold I was acculturated to - middle class or higher speech and behavior patterns, meek and submissive with especially law enforcement, keeping emotion quiet and reserved. But as much as I might be tempted to think "she's crazy" and "my way is better" - the same acculturation that makes me quiet, reserved and submissive by habit also makes it hard for me to stand up for myself, to feel how I really feel, to express my real opinions when others disagree, to be spontaneous. The same thing that makes K willing to blaze a path through a crowded club that she designated "the hood floor" and some of my other coworkers told me (in astonishment that I was there) "even some black people are afraid to go up there" makes her the person that is capable of the kind of display I was disapproving of. On the much tamer public street I found myself in front for a minute or two and was very uncomfortable because I didn't want to leave them behind and end up alone. The same thing that makes me get along easily with police officers (both being white and being meek, in this case, since the crowd was overwhelmingly black, in this case) makes me not willing to be the one blazing the path. 

I'm not sure what I'm saying. There was definitely a problem with what happened last night. I don't think it was a safe way to live one's life, and I don't think it's a necessary way to live one's life. I don't approve of physical violence in relationships or the type of verbal abuse she was hurling at service workers. But I think that just being the type of woman who will get angry in public and speak one's mind is not necessarily "doing it wrong". Maybe I'm a little jealous of that ability to feel that strongly while terrified of being that overwhelmed by that much feeling.

I'm also conflicted by the boyfriend's reaction. Maybe it's because she was completely hysterical and not in control of herself or her emotions at all while he was in control of himself and his story (what he told me) kept changing - first he was upset with her because he wanted to be home in bed not out (but he came out with other guy friends and wasn't riding with us, so we had nothing to do with that), and then he was telling me that she was angry at him and making him the bad guy because she was getting caught in some lie (that he wouldn't explain to me), and then he claimed this morning he wasn't mad about anything at all and was just chilling enjoying his buzz and she assumed he was mad because he wasn't talking a lot. Hell, I'm confused. I don't know what he was upset about and why (the fight started when she assumed he was mad and started randomly defending herself over something ridiculous that he never accused her about and escalated from there). Also, he kept trying to pull me into by asking me in front of her "___ what am i supposed to do?" "What have I done?" "___ do you see this?" etc. That felt like trying to escalate the drama rather than calm it down. He also told me that she "always gets like this when she's drunk" so if that's at all true it seemed like an easy enough thing to avoid considering they don't live together, while what happened almost seemed like he sought it out for the drama. In other words, while I feel empathy for him for the situation, I have suspicion that he's got some fixation with liking the drama and even causing or escalating it and dragging other people into it, and that makes me think he's not innocent in it. 

06 August 2012 @ 01:48 pm
I'm proud of myself. I have been thinking a lot lately of being more of my real self when controversial subjects come up. I am too submissive, not just when the situation is dangerous, but simply to avoid any and all confrontation, and it leaves me feeling angry and violated, when I did nothing to let anyone know I was offended or even disagreed. 

So the other day I was at a day long sales training and I was grouped with a few people that I knew and a couple I didn't know, who all work for my employer. We had some breaks that we took together at our table, and at one of them the group was talking about Chick-Fil-A, mainly because all of our work locations have a Chick-Fil-A near them and so we all saw the incredibly ridiculously long lines that they had had the day before. The lines were from people eating there to express support for the CFA CEO who made some really bigoted statements about gay marriage and donated CFA money to hate organizations who advocate against equal rights for gay people. So the people supporting CFA by waiting in hour long lines were expressing their support for hate, financially and ideologically. I have personally decided to not buy anything from CFA anymore as this is the final straw; they are a hateful organization to work for (I've had several friends work there and their employment rules are onerous), they discriminate in franchising to only allow married evangelical couples to own a franchise, they give money to hate groups, they are dishonest in their messaging (there used to be a message in Christian churches that they were the product of a woman entrepreneur and they had a womanist tone but they are actually a patriarchal marriage and family organization with a male founder) and I just can't support anything they do or believe.

In any case, I wasn't all that interested in the CFA conversation at the training, but people weren't seeming to understand why some people in the traffic that day were flipping off the people waiting in line, and such, so I waded in and explained the history of the situation, calmly and with facts - that the CEO had made some anti-gay marriage comments, and that this had offended some people who called for a boycott, and that the anti-gay marriage crowd then called for a support CFA day, and the people waiting in line were showing their support for his position and were making an ideological stand, so people flipping them off were expressing their opposition for what those people were saying they believed. Then someone said "Oh well but what's funny is the CEO didn't actually say that", and rather than back down, I calmly and clearly stated, actually, he did, I heard the tape in his own voice, he was very clear and very rude, and not only that, he has given money to anti-gay hate groups. They backed down, and seemed surprised.

And then one person said that he thought the whole thing was ridiculous because really everyone ought to just tolerate everyone else and that no one should try to make anyone else do what they thought, and that everyone should live and let live. He thought that this was a pronouncement on LGBT activists being angry at what the CFA CEO said and was unable to see that the CEO was saying that the gay community should not be allowed to live their lives and that he should be allowed to force them to live according to his morality. He seemed to think that them disapproving of the CEO's comments and refusing to eat at CFA was being intolerant of the CEO, but him having the view that they cannot have the basic right to live their lives free of his intrusion is not intolerance. I will never understand people like that.

Then later a different person from the same table responded to the presenter saying that "buying is an emotional experience" by saying that women buy most of the stuff and women are most emotional and then repeating until I answered him "am i lying? am i lying?" He was obviously missing the point; the point was that if we appeal to rationality in sales we don't sell as much - to men or women - as we do if we appeal to their emotions, their vanity, etc., which is what I dislike about being in sales - and if he thinks men buy for rational reasons and women for emotional ones he won't sell as much and he will buy more than he needs. But in any case, since he wouldn't stop talking until I answered him, I said "I don't think you are lying but I don't agree with you." He looked confused.
The other day at work I spent rather a long time working with a customer who was not purchasing anything and therefore who was not making me any money. This happens sometimes, and I wouldn't normally mention it, but because of how it ended. He had purchased a unlocked phone from a friend that didn't have the right settings to work on our network and it took me a while to get it sorted out so he had his settings right and working. After getting it all working, he thanked me sincerely, which I appreciated - some people will take your time and consider it their due. After walking away, he walked back and said in a very heartfelt voice, "Jesus loves you" which I took in the spirit it was intended - as a blessing or thank you (since I don't believe in his religion). Then he walked away again and walked back and asked for my email address. I gave him my business card that had my work email address on it. I admit I was hoping he might have a business he was going to give me a coupon for, or send me a business lead like for another customer, or at least just drop me a thank you line. Instead, he told me to expect an email with a certain subject line - I don't remember it exactly now, but it was obviously one of those internet "businesses" that you sign up for and pay to join so that the person above you can make money - the kind of thing your spam filter blocks. 

I would have been embarrassed back in the day to tell a stranger Jesus loved them, if I didn't know they were Christian, in public - I didn't feel it polite to push my faith on them. But if I had, I would be doubly ashamed to then try to spam them with some kind of questionable money/business proposition. 

I can't help being reminded that the businesses that purposefully advertise Christian imagery on their signs and marketing material or talk about their faith in conversations with you as proof they are trustworthy are the ones you run away from as fast as you can go, because they are almost never trustworthy (in my experience), and also that I know people who look for such things when picking a business and regularly pay too much and get substandard service because of it.
03 July 2012 @ 03:12 pm
I was at a friend's house over the weekend for their semi-regular movie night, to which they invite various people, often some whom I don't know. The host couple are mildly religious; I've never heard them talk about faith or god or prayer but they do attend a Presbyterian church and the wife teaches at a private Christian high school, and I believe the husband originally met my boyfriend at Catholic college. Many of the guests at their previous movie nights have been friends from (Christian) college or church. Nevertheless, I was surprised when a new guest this weekend expressed criticism for Terry Pratchett's work on the grounds that Pratchett in his view was hostile to religion, and that this was offensive to him, and he didn't understand why it was necessary to present a worldview that thought gods were not holy or real or better than humans, as though he felt this was a directed, personal attack by Pratchett on his Christian beliefs.

Pratchett writes funny, engaging, satire. He spins silly yarns that spill from the page in one unending chain of impossibility, and rocket from ridiculous leap to ridiculous leap. I read a few of his Discworld novels before I left Christianity and most of his novels, both Discworld and others, after, and I can't remember ever feeling like I was being attacked for believing in gods, although most of them I read after I stopped such foolishness. Still, satire tends to attack all targets, and the comments of this guy left me feeling irritated, because he so utterly missed the point. The gods humans tend to create - such as the ones in some of Pratchett's novels, like personified Death and the Hogfather - are very humanlike and not any better than us, and to be very very honest, many times even the ones that are supposed to be better than us aren't. The god that the Old Testament presents is not as good, moral, kind, gracious, reasonable, consistent, or wise as I am - or as many people are. He's often a 3 year old throwing a temper tantrum. If this man I met at the party saw Pratchett expressing something like that (although I've never seen anything that I applied to the god of Christianity), perhaps he saw something closer to reality than was comfortable for him, because it's true.

But beyond that, his complaint annoyed me because he said that he didn't understand why Pratchett felt he had to attack gods in this way...well, Pratchett is an author, writing a novel. I tend to think he wrote it the way he wanted to write it. If you don't like it, don't read it. If the man I was talking to had said "Reading the novel made me feel like Pratchett was trying to convince me that believing in gods was silly and I didn't like that feeling" that would be more reasonable. But assuming that an author is motivated a certain way and then questioning that motivation bothered me, especially saying "I don't know why". It's not that hard to know why - many people have opposing viewpoints to yours about gods some of them write books.

And finally, he said a couple of thoughts later that he had only read a couple of books and not the most famous ones, which in one sense makes sense - if you don't enjoy an author, why bother reading more of them? but in another sense, if you are going to make a meta complaint about the totality of the author's intention in all their books (as it sounded like he was doing) then you need to have a broader base than one or two of their lesser known works. 

I didn't feel it was a place where I could say what I thought - perhaps that is the real problem. I didn't feel free to speak up, not even to say something like "you know, I didn't get that impression from Pratchett's work at all. He's writing satire and so he pokes fun at nearly everything, but just as he's not saying that government is useless or that healthcare should be run by witches or that the best way to control crime is to legalize everything and have guilds for the criminals, he's not necessarily saying that all religion is evil or false; he's pointing out where things are strange and absurd and entertaining us along the way." Or maybe "But why is it inappropriate if Pratchett wants to make that point about worshipping gods? Is he not allowed to have that opinion or to express it in novels? I have that opinion, am I allowed to express it in conversation? You may not agree with him, if he in fact thinks that, but surely he can write it in his books if he wishes?"

Probably that's why it keeps bothering me: I did not feel I could say anything because I was in a room full of people who were at least nominally Christian, and those whose opinions mattered to me do not necessarily know that I am not even nominally Christian, and they would likely have been surprised and perhaps angry if I had defended such viewpoints. Also, I did not know the person speaking and he obviously felt strongly about his offense at Terry Pratchett and I did not want to make the evening uncomfortable by causing offense toward me. And my boyfriend has a horror of making scenes and would have disapproved, and these are originally his friends, so for all these reasons I never considered saying anything, only stewed about it. Perhaps if I had thought of it at the time I still would not have said anything, but I grow tired of thinking that speaking up is not an option to be considered. 

I do not particularly wish to be an angrily confrontational person. But I do wish to be less submissive to comments I find offensive. I want to find a way to be more assertive without losing my easy calm manner. I suppose I have to be willing to open a few cans of worms. 
23 June 2012 @ 06:40 pm
I have the weekend off, my first weekend off since my vacation the first week in May. So I am happy about that, and it's always nice to have two days off together (it's also kind of sad that having two days off together feels like a mini-vacation, and that the last half of the second day I get depressed about going back to work). So I'm off, it's Saturday night, I want to get out of the house and do something, and my boyfriend has to work. And it suddenly comes home to me that I don't have anyone else to call. I said something about wanting to do something, so he suggested some friends of his with whom I have literally never done anything except with him, and with whom I actually don't feel very welcome even when he is around and brings me - that's really out. I don't invite myself to hang out with people who make it clear I'm not welcome. He also suggested that I call a coworker that I've mentioned I would like to become friends with - I think she's probably working tonight since I'm not, but I did text her just in case. And that's it, that's literally everyone I can think of unless I call strangers. 

I am sometimes tempted to go back to church because I don't do well meeting people outside of the church. But if I'm honest, I was never happy with the relationships I made in church, often deeply unhealthy ones where I felt forced to spend time with creeps and give emotional vulnerability to abusers and I was constantly lonely. I had people to spend time with, but mostly didn't enjoy it. The reason it comes to mind, though, is that it is the first and often only suggestion people make for meeting people. 

From what I can tell, the people around me mostly draw their group of friends first from who they went to high school or college with, second from who they go to church with and third from who they work with. As they progress through life they meet friends of friends and carry on in that vein pretty much forever. I don't know how people who have major life interrupting events like moving or leaving a faith community manage.

I also realized tonight as I was trying to craft a simple text message to a coworker with whom I am on good terms and who is not easily offended, that I am very troubled by a fear of getting in the way or bothering others. I am often on friendly terms with people, I think, but don't forge lasting relationships because I am afraid to bother them and so I never reach out, waiting instead for them to show interest in me. I only sent that message because BF had suggested it and I knew he would ask me if I did - I almost scrapped it multiple times because I felt rude, mainly because it was late to be trying to plan something.
21 June 2012 @ 12:22 pm
I have come to a place where I do not believe in god or gods or find belonging to or practicing a religion, spirituality or faith necessary. Many people do not know this about me and make assumptions based on my behavior or speech style or stories about my past or projecting their own faith on me because I seem like a reasonable person and don't object strenuously. This can be a problem because I get unwanted advice about religiously motivated behaviors I'm not interested in, confidences about religious issues from people I'm not close enough to to care to get them from (from close friends, as long as they know the score, I don't mind, but I'm talking about relative strangers telling me they got in a car accident because they forgot to tithe and asking me what they should do), requests for explanation about religion and advice on religion and behavior, scolding on my own behavior, from the occasional cussing to drinking responsibly, not being married, etc. 

I occasionally comment to people that I'm not religious, no longer a Christian, don't really believe - things like that. That doesn't work - partly because they don't want to hear it and so they don't, and partly because I'm not using the conventional terms. If I stated firmly and clearly that I was an atheist and said it every time the subject came up, perhaps the message would get through. I don't do that for a few reasons.

1) I have always shied away from bald statements of fact that are able to be demonstrated false and that are able to offend others no matter how seemingly inoffensive. It's a relic of a childhood in an abusive home where my sense of self and understanding of the world was constantly undermined by a father who constantly told me he could read my mind and knew what I was thinking better than I did - he made it unsafe to state what I thought in clear and uncertain terms and so I'm uncomfortable doing it. Added to that, all my adult life I've worked with the public in one form or another, and developed skills in saying what you have to say in kind and conciliatory language that doesn't offend but gets the message across - if necessary, making sure you say it even if the person doesn't get it so you have covered yourself. I have no practice in being clear, concise, factual and offensive.

2) I'm queasy about the terms that are available for where I am at. I have no difficulty with someone else being an atheist. I read daily and the word is freely self applied to all the bloggers and many of the commenters and I don't feel any problem with that. But when I try the word on for size for myself, I feel uneasy. It seems harsh and irritating. I have unease about agnostic as well - it seems undecided and unclear, and seems to invite proseltyzing. The fact is I don't care if a god or gods exist. Any that are worshipped in human religions, if they existed, would not be worthy of the worship they demand. Any that has not revealed itself to humankind is obviously not important to find out about. It's not something I want to spend time on. But there's no word for don'tcare-ist. But I think most people would recognize my position as more or less atheist - I just struggle with the emotional baggage of the term, baggage from growing up in radical fundamentalist Christianity, but baggage that exists nonetheless. 

3) It is more dangerous to declare that I am an atheist when religion comes up than to say that I am not religious, or to say I do or don't drink when alcohol comes up. It is a charged subject and I live in an area that is highly religious and work with and live with and associate with people who are highly religious. I have customers who think it is alright to force a conversation on religion and tell me how to vote, that I should be married by now, and try to convert me to their brand of Christianity (assuming that I am some type of Christian already) while I am at work. I have coworkers who think it is ok to try to grill me on how I can possibly be an ex-Christian because they don't believe such things exist, and invite me to church after I just said I'm not religious and don't believe in Christianity and complain to the store at large about a customer not sending their children to a Christian school just because they think all Christians should send their children to private Christian schools. I find myself afraid to go against the flow - what will be the consequences? I am not often brave about such things, not just in regards religion. I've been trained out of being assertive, except in extreme cases and so I have to really work at it.

What prompted this was I was thinking about it and I realized that I had allowed myself to be taken to Baptist church with my boyfriend - who other than very occasionally attending church for what seem like social reasons lives a completely secular lifestyle - every few months for the past few years. I find the experience irritating and difficult - the pastor is constantly talking about being stopped by police officers for speeding and talking his way out of tickets; he is always coming back from a funeral when that happens apparently, and I find the shtick very disingenuous. I have always loved congregational singing but the words of the hymns are usually impossible to sing for me and still there is an emotional draw to it - even though I find the emotional manipulation of singing reprehensible lyrics to get you to agree with evil things wrong, I still find myself wanting to sing along so I can feel a part. And I asked myself, why do I go to church? I don't get anything out of it, I don't identify even culturally as Christian - I go to please people, especially the BF but also some friends of his. I'm not being assertive about what I want or need or believe to be true.

There's a possibility that BF wants a girlfriend who is like him, culturally Christian, or perhaps he would even prefer someone more enthusiastic who would bring him back into the church. I have the impression there would be consequences in the relationship if I told him I had come to the conclusion I needed to come "out" as an atheist and I would not be able to attend church with him anymore. That's something I fear. I don't fear god punishing me for going to church dishonestly, so I have cravenly not done this.

I think the next time someone tries to push religion down my throat I am going to calmly say, "I chose to be an atheist as an adult and I'm very happy with that decision. I really don't want to discuss it any further." Maybe that will work, maybe that won't. But maybe it will be better than trying to smile and pretend I don't understand what they are talking about and try to maneuver the conversation out of religion without acknowledging their topic.
08 May 2011 @ 09:24 pm
 I had a really terrifying experience at the store today.  I was selling a four line family plan to a family, and we ran into a snag because the two teenage daughters got their hearts set on the same phone and we only had 1.  I called other stores, and no others were around, and my manager said it had been discontinued and we likely wouldn't get any more in, so one of them had to pick a different phone.  The one who had to get a different one got the one she had been looking at before the one we didn't have, but I guess she was upset and/or quietly crying, so the dad started stewing and got really mad and suddenly exploded.

Now the girl who didn't get the phone she wanted was sitting to my left at the next register, which was empty.  I wasn't really paying attention to her; she wasn't making any noise or complaining or causing any trouble.  The girl who got what she wanted was sitting in front of me with her mother, and didn't look especially happy either, to be honest, because she had been asked to change her mind and wouldn't - she had wanted that phone from the start while the other girl had waffled.  The dad was standing a ways off to my right when he exploded, and he came over to us, drew his arm back, reached past the mother to whack the girl on the arm, grabbed her old phone away from her, threw it on the floor (away from us and anyone else in the store, thank goodness) so hard it flew up and hit the ceiling, and started screaming and cursing.  

A couple of people have asked if I called the police.  I didn't.  I was scared, and if I'm really honest, I didn't want to lose the sale.  We were almost done and they had already paid for their phones so I just finished putting them together and dealt with the mother until they left. I thought about pulling the panic alarm when it was first happening, but when he subsided, I just wanted it to be over. 

Now I'm thinking about calling child protective services.  There were two young teenage girls and a younger boy, and a woman there, and he's advanced enough in that kind of behavior that he will do it in public in front of someone who knows his name, address, social security number, employer and phone number. It's not going to stop.

How evil is it of me that I really don't want to get involved? He was doing it to me too, I think, intimidating me.