Monthly Archives: April 2012

Personally, I Thought Smoking Cigarettes Laced with Embalming Liquid was Cooler

Before my family moved to 4th and South, we used to visit the area frequently to go shopping and have dinner. We would often have dinner at the Copa Cabana, a staple of South Street that is still there. In fact, we celebrated my mom’s 61st birthday there just a few weeks ago. It’s a bar with an extensive food menu. My dad always said that he thought it was a great place to bring kids because they could be loud in there and no one would care because it’s loud anyway. I never really took advantage of the allowance to scream like an idiot in the place, but it’s nice to know that I could have without incurring the wrath of my parents. I probably still wouldn’t be as loud as the drunken Girls Night Out happening in the table next to us.

My dad had very predictable beer choices back then. When we went to the Philadelphia Pizza Company, he would order a Moosehead. When we had pizza at home, he would go down the street and grab a six-pack of Yiengling or a 40 of Budweiser (high class!). When we went to the Copa, he always got a Dos Equis. If he were the Most Interesting Man in the World, his slogan would be something like, “I don’t always drink Dos Equis, but when I do, I am probably eating cheap tacos”.

As a child, these trips to the Copa resulted in Equis being the first Spanish word I learned, far before “Hello” and “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10”. It was also where I learned to dislike the taste of beer immensely (a malady that would only be cured years later when I went to Belgium and discovered that there are beers, many many beers, that taste better than Dos Equis or Budweiser). I was inquisitive as a kid and so when my dad was drinking his beer, I would ask about it. He would then give me the bottle and let me have a sip. I would take him up on this and remember that it was terrible. My mom never gave me any of her margarita.

So, I consider this fabulous parenting. If you were to watch public service announcements now about parents and underage drinking, you would think that my parents were the worst ones in the world for letting me taste beer. But there’s a few things here. First, my parents drank around me. It wasn’t something they did when I wasn’t around or banned altogether from the household. I was used to seeing alcohol around (I actually frequently went with my dad for liquor runs and helped him carry stuff), seeing adults imbibe responsibly (I have never seen my mom drunk and have rarely seen my dad that way), and because my dad didn’t drink a beer and then say “drinking is bad! DON’T DO IT”, I was raised with the general impression that if I wanted to drink at home, I could, right there with my parents. There was no vice in it. They gave me a similar view on drugs. They never hid the fact that they’re Baby Boomers and that they both did various drugs frequently throughout the years. What they would say to me about drugs is this, “They’re not worth getting arrested over.” This is all they had to say. They didn’t tell me I couldn’t. After smoking a joint for the first time (I was 15), I came home and told them about it and how I was completely unimpressed with the whole thing. My dad described his experience with LSD as “the lights get really bright. I always hoped I’d see a crab painted like a checkerboard, but I never did.” He tried coke once and said that the experience was “meh”. And everyone generally agreed that we should all stay away from heroine. Again, I was raised with the idea that drugs were not forbidden, that they can be fun, but not worth getting into trouble.

So, the other day I see a link to this article saying that kids are now ingesting hand sanitizer in an attempt to get wasted. I read the article and could barely muffle my laughs. All I could think of was an Ellen Degeneres bit I heard a while back about how humans will do anything to get high. We will lick the anus of a muskrat if it holds the remote chance of giving us a buzz. Apparently, this is a big problem because teenagers are making themselves sick and having to go to the hospital. I don’t think anyone is dying though so I’m going to laugh at them. Teenagers are hilarious.

One time when Peter and I were in highschool, he and another friend of ours got the idea of snorting Smarties. I honestly can’t remember what he thought would happen when he did this, or why this idea seemed like something he should do. So one day, they brought in a tube of Smarties and he smashed one on our shared table in Home Room with his Calculus book. Then he snorted some of it and at the moment that the Smartie particles (Smarticles?) entered his nose, he went into a convulsion of hilarious proportions. Am I a heartless bitch? Maybe, but also he wasn’t convulsing because his brain was melting or anything. He was convulsing because Smarties sting like a motherfucker in your nose. We all learned an important lesson that day about snorting things. We’re not going to do it.

So if we’re going to coke, we’re going to freebase it.

Anyway, back to the idiots drinking hand sanitizer. So, if you read the article, the author states that the main ingredient in sanitizer is ethyl alcohol (ethanol, or the fun and horrible ingredient in “booze”) and that kids are getting sick because “ethyl alcohol is toxic”. I know it’s an NPR article and all, but something about this just cracked me up further. I think it was the “Reefer Madness” sound of the whole thing. Sure, ethanol is toxic, but in a way that even a lot anti-chemical people can get behind. It’s a fun kind of toxic, like having surreal conversations with Swamp Thing. (I have no idea what I mean by that, but the image is awesome.) To say “ethyl alcohol” instead of ethanol, to not put the caveat that this is the same shit in booze…I don’t know, it just sounds like they’re saying, “the kids are drinking HORRIBLE TOXINS THAT NO ONE ELSE CONSUMES AT HAPPY HOUR. Did you know that ethyl alcohol is TOXIC? OOoooOOOOoooOOOoOoOH.” Yes, I’m reading a lot into it, but I’m on a kick about this stuff right now.

So, here’s the thing about this. I don’t think it’s the ethyl alcohol that’s making them sick. I think it’s all the other alcohols in them that are also in it. Many of them have isopropanol in them (rubbing alcohol) and various other assorted alcohols. Readers of this blog probably know this, but did you know that you can drink methanol and isopropyl alcohol and still get a buzz on? Did you know that you should stick to ethanol because metabolizing the other two is way worse news than the toxicity of ethanol? Fun Facts: Ethanol turns into vinegar in your liver. Methanol turns into formaldehyde (you’ll be blind and well preserved if you drink enough). Rubbing alcohol turns into acetone (nail polish remover). Which of these three sounds the least illness inducing?

In addition, I don’t really know what the gel part of the hand sanitizer is, but I’m sure it doesn’t help. See? I can be anti-consumption of chemicals! I don’t think you should consume things found next to the can of Comet underneath your sink (unless you keep muffins there…but that would be strange, and likely covered in cleanser), or things that have revolutionized the Port-a-Potty industry. I have standards! My favorite part of the whole article was when they said that the best way to combat the problem is to keep hand sanitizer out of the reach of your teens. Like, only you, the responsible parent, can dispense it for them when they want to kill a bunch of bacteria. Otherwise, keep it in locked cabinets or something. Really? That’s what you should do?

Forgetting for a moment that I think you just shouldn’t have hand sanitizer around because soap and water is fine and that I think everyone is paranoid about germs. CONTROVERSIAL! You really think that the problem is that the kids have access to hand sanitizer? Or is it that they have a completely unhealthy relationship with alcohol and drugs? Don’t you know that one of the biggest things that makes the idea of getting drunk/high for teens is that it’s forbidden? Apparently, eating hand sanitizer makes them look cool to their friends. There isn’t a lot of currency higher than that in the teen world. I’m sure some parental board will crucify me for this and say that it’s different when I have kids or something, but honestly, what’s wrong with having a drink with your kids? It takes the mystery away and you can teach them how to do it responsibly. They won’t then go to college or whatever and end up in the hospital in the first week with alcohol poisoning. Also, they won’t feel the need to find bizarre and creative ways to consume alcohol.

I did a quick Google search for “drinking isopropanol” and most of what came up was teenagers asking the internet if they could drink it and not die. It makes sense…it’s cheap and unregulated…also, it’ll make you ill a lot faster and worse than a jar of Georgia Moon. Wouldn’t it be better if you had some positive influence on how your children, who clearly want to drink, experience alcohol? I would say the same for some drugs, but like I said, it’s really not worth getting arrested over. If only Ron Paul was president…I will never say that again. But you can say the same for many of the other forbidden things that kids are dumb about due to lack of guidance. Be honest with kids about things like drugs, alcohol, and sex. Is it so bad that you be completely upfront about your flaws, your struggles, your life history? I never saw parents as perfect or infallible. They told me everything, and ultimately I respect them more for that and feel like I was able to be relatively mature about things like this at a young age.

OK, so I still was pretty fucked up about sex, but they did a lot of other stuff right!

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Cool Whip May Not Be Food, But it Sure is Delicious

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed today, like I do, and I stumbled across this picture:

It had the following caption: Our fast “food” display is now 2 years old. The word food is questionable, since the bread-like and meat-like substances have not molded or spoiled in any way. Bugs won’t even bother with it. Please think twice about giving this to your kids. You have a choice, but they don’t. We truly are what we eat. 
— from LiveWell Wellness Centers 

This is not the first time I have seen these things.  A few years ago I saw something similar about how Cool Whip is totally disgusting because it doesn’t separate or decompose, vs. real whipped cream that barely lasts 10 minutes before it starts to separate and get kind of gross.  The comments followed were the obligatory “Eww!”, “Yeah, I stay away from that because it’s all CHEMICALS!” and “OMG DISGUSTING!”  It bothered me then and it continues to bother me now.  When I saw the Cool Whip thing, my main annoyance was that claiming that something is bad because it has chemicals in it is possibly the dumbest overly simplistic statement you can make.  You may as well say, “I have a personal problem with atoms”.  Not to be a smart ass, but everything everywhere is a chemical.  The air we breathe is made of chemicals.  The water we drink is a chemical.  WE ARE ALL CHEMICALS.  Our minds and bodily processes are a series of chemical and electro-chemical reactions.  DNA is a chemical.  Do you get it?  When you say “Chemicals are bad” you are betraying yourself as being ignorant and woefully misinformed about the nature of physical reality.  Also, to equate “natural” with “chemical-free” is to deny that there are a whole lot of things in nature that will drop you like a bullet, but more nastily.  Hemlock is natural.  Arsenic occurs naturally in nature.  Do I need to remind you about snake venom or the evil Brown Recluse?!?  How about how elements of the air will suffocate you if they are in the wrong percentage?  How about if you drink enough distilled water (free of horrible chemicals, other than water), your cells will burst and you will DIE!  See what you’ve done?  Now you’ve got my chemist up!

Deep breath…

But, still, when I outlined the above rant, it didn’t seem to completely address the underlying issue that I have with claims like that.  Making the entire argument be about how ignorant fear of “chemicals” makes no sense doesn’t really get to the heart of the problem.

So, I tried to think about it further.  I went searching for links about this kind of thing and found this.  The author sounds possibly intelligent for a little while, but then goes into the following tirade:

So why don’t fast food burgers and fries decompose in the first place? The knee-jerk answer is often thought to be, “Well they must be made with so many chemicals that even mold won’t eat them.” While that’s part of the answer, it’s not the whole story.

The truth is many processed foods don’t decompose and won’t be eaten by molds, insects or even rodents. Try leaving a tub of margarine outside in your yard and see if anything bothers to eat it. You’ll find that the margarine stays seems immortal, too!

Potato chips can last for decades. Frozen pizzas are remarkably resistant to decomposition. And you know those processed Christmas sausages and meats sold around the holiday season? You can keep them for years and they’ll never rot.

With meats, the primary reason why they don’t decompose ist heir high sodium content. Salt is a great preservative, as early humans have known for thousands of years. McDonald’s meat patties are absolutely loaded with sodium — so much so that they qualify as “preserved” meat, not even counting the chemicals you might find in the meat.

To me, there’s not much mystery about the meat not decomposing. The real question in my mind iswhy don’t the buns mold?That’s the really scary part, since healthy bread begins to mold within days. What could possibly be in McDonald’s hamburger buns that would ward off microscopic life for more than two decades?

As it turns out, unless you’re a chemist you probably can’t even read the ingredients list out loud. Here’s what McDonald’s own website says you’ll find in their buns:

Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid, enzymes), water, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, yeast, soybean oil and/or partially hydrogenated soybean oil, contains 2% or less of the following: salt, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, wheat gluten, ammonium sulfate, ammonium chloride, dough conditioners (sodium stearoyl lactylate, datem, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated monoglycerides, monocalcium phosphate, enzymes, guar gum, calcium peroxide, soy flour), calcium propionate and sodium propionate (preservatives), soy lecithin.

Great stuff, huh? You gotta especially love the HFCS (diabetes, anyone?), partially-hydrogenated soybean oil (anybody want heart disease?) and the long list of chemicals such as ammonium sulfate and sodium proprionate. Yum. I’m drooling just thinking about it.

Now here’s the truly shocking part about all this: In my estimation, the reason nothing will eat a McDonald’s hamburger bun (except a human) is because it’s not food!

OK, come on now.  Your argument is that the burgers contain a bunch of chemicals, in addition to organic matter (BTW, just to continue by smart ass trend, most of the additives in food are also organic chemicals.  Organic means that they are based on carbon. Durpa do!) and so microbes and bacteria show up at the site of the burgers and go: Oh, I’m sorry, there’s too many chemicals in this.

Are you serious?  Bacteria are intelligent now?  If that’s true, we might be fucked.  Look, perhaps they don’t necessarily go after all the Big Bad Big Words that only a chemist can pronounce (that’s what my entire education was for, btw…to learn how to pronounce things like sodium and look hella smart and also to dismantle the health of the American public.  The secret is out!), but they will eat, you know, everything else.  McDonald’s hamburgers are not made up entirely saw dust.  They also include Grade Meat meat and soy and other things that sustain life.  Bacteria love that!

In addition, just to remind you that my chemist is still up, just because something is hard to pronounce does not mean that it is evil.  Yes, saying cheese is easy.  Saying the names of the chemicals that occur naturally from the cheese making process is hard.  It’s still cheese.

In addition to all this, I find it idiotic to say that food = decomposition.  Shitty food is still food.  Our bodies can digest them and extract useful stuff from it.

Of course, I am not the only person to answer these claims.  I found this wonderful blog entry about a study debunking the whole thing.  In short, if you leave a burger and a bun, any burger and a bun out in the air to dry out, bacteria will die because bacteria requires moisture to survive.  As is mentioned in the article, dehydrating food is a proven preservation method.  Beef jerky is simply dehydrated meat.  Also, food like this is loaded with salt, a known preservative (that’s apparently “natural” because it doesn’t have too many syllables).  In addition, under circumstances where a homemade burger and a McDonald’s burger were kept moist, mold grew on them both.  It must be food then since bacteria are food critics or something.

Now, here’s what I’m not saying.  I’m not saying that you should eat McDonald’s food.  It IS bad for you.  But, I shouldn’t even have to say that.  Making the grand accusation to today’s modern public that McDonald’s is bad is as obvious a statement today as “Cigarette cause cancer, like, really”.

Today while looking at that picture, I kept asking myself why I was so annoyed.  Clearly I agree that you should avoid this crap, that ingesting large amounts of it many times a week will lead to probable health problems.  So what’s my problem?  I mean, the underlying message that they’re promoting is ultimately correct even if the various associated beliefs are wrong, right?

And there it is.  There is the problem.  The sharing of these ideas makes you come across as a proper skeptic, not swallowing what the main stream wishes you to accept.  The chemical industry, big business, everyone who stands to make a profit from the ignorance of the public are taking full advantage of it at all times.  Not only do they not care about your welfare, but they wish to put it in danger.  It is black and white.

Obviously.  If there’s anything that’s black and white and not difficult to predict it’s nutrition or medicine or human physiology.  That’s why it’s so easy for people to lose weight.  I mean, if it’s just that humans are stupid and eat shit (while animals never do that, ever), then shouldn’t it be easy to lose weight and get healthy when you’ve cut out all the Bad Shit?  Why isn’t it?  Could it be that the obesity problem, the general health problems that people are more aware of now, all of that might be more complicated than fast food?

If you take these claims as fact without question, you are not a skeptic.  Yes, you should question everything and you should require evidence that the ideas that the main stream have accepted are true.  But why does that stop when the dissident perspective is presented?  Is it not possible that the point of view is not particularly accepted because it’s actually bullshit?  There are whack jobs on every side of an issue.  There are people who spread misinformation in both conservative and liberal circles.     People, regardless of politics or religion, will believe anything if they do not properly engage in a skeptical outlook.

Again, this is all a matter of skepticism being properly applied.  I am bothered by the spreading of this woo woo, ignorant information with a general hint of truth because it is shared with an air of “we are smarter than them”, an arrogance fueled by a general misunderstanding of science.  When you say that eating something because of all the chemicals in it and then say that the names of all the chemicals are hard to say, you don’t sound any better than the idiot claiming that evolution isn’t true because…THE BIBLE.  You are saying that science is hard, that being science literate isn’t important.  You just need to know enough to be scared and then avoid it all together.  Yes, you are right in that you should not accept that everything the FDA says is edible will do you no harm, but you are wrong if you justify this skepticism with bullshit facts.  This makes you just as bad as all the other ignorant people you feel superior to.

 

Gina Sez: The Healing Powers of Otters – What Big Pharma Doesn’t Want You to Know!

Jessie has a membership to the Philadelphia Zoo, so the past year has seen an uptick in my visits.  They’ve made a lot of improvements over the years and there’s many things that I enjoy seeing when I got there.  But there’s one exhibit that I would have to describe as my favorite: The otters.

It is difficult to describe how freaking adorable otters are when they’re leaping off of things into the water, chasing each other, playing with various toys floating in their enclosure.  When you see otters at the zoo, you have a hard time remembering that they are in captivity.  Or at least, you have a hard time seeing the downside.  The otters seems to be fine with it.  Anyway, when I catch a glimpse of happy-go-lucky otters, I look like this:

Image

OK, admittedly this is a picture of me being pretty excited about the prospect of putting a pair of Peeps (armed with toothpicks) into the microwave.  It was after someone told me that they “battle” while they melt or something and this seemed awesome to me (for the record, no real battle happened…they just kind of melted…disappointing, but a pretty good use for Peeps).  I had also had a few glasses of wine (it was a Good Friday party after all).  Anyway, the point is I feel similarly excited about otters being all otter-y.

Last week I had a battle with a bout of sadness and anxiety.  While I was at home healing from its effects, Wes sent me a video of baby otters.  OH MY GOODNESS!  All I wanted to do was pet them and let them scurry around and then pet them some more.

It made me feel immensely better.  The simple sight of baby otters lifted a good portion of the sadness and anxiety away.  It was then that I realized that baby otters would probably be a pretty good anti-depressant.  In fact, they probably make the best anti-depressant!  Everyone knows that mood disorders are due to various chemical misfirings and imbalances in the brain, right?  So, if looking at an otter does the same thing that medications do, why is it that you can’t go to your local pharmacy and fill a prescription for Baby Otter?

A simple Google search showed me my answer: A major species of otter comes from China.

Now, you might be getting ready to assume that I am about to reveal that otters from China are infused with massive amounts of lead or something, and so the FDA had to ban them in this country for use as medicine…you know, for our safety.  But that’s not it at all!

The truth is that this country is currently in the clutches of Big Pharma, an industry completely hell bent against embracing the magic of Eastern Medicine.  So, since otters come from China, this is, like, the same thing.

A moment to break character: I am not a proponent of “alternative medicine”.  I do not think that you can heal yourself by hoping really hard and aligning your chakras.  I DO however distrust the pharmaceutical industry.  I am quite skeptical of its motives from time to time and don’t take any claims of miracle drugs at face value.  I just wanted to point that out because as I did Google searches to try and find ridiculous links to holistic health sites, I started making myself sick and had to take a break.  The Yahoo message boards were the worst.  “People are fat because of Western Medicine!!!”  Deep breath…

So, clearly Western Medicine already knows about the anti-depressive effects of otters and how it’s a remedy without any side effects and clearly they are keeping them from us as a readily available item.  Sure, you can see them at the zoo, but we are programmed by society to dismiss our increase in mood in the presence of otters as a simple thought of “Oh, what a nice day at the zoo!  Those otters are cute.  Hmm, time to go get a soda in a tiger shaped cup!”  In reality, there are real physiological changes happening!  If you were able to sit in the presence of otters for hours on end, your depression would likely be cured completely.

And what about other maladies?  If all you need is positive thinking to cure all your ills (from depression to a tumor), then otters are all you need.  That’s right.  I am positing that otters can cure cancer, especially after ready about numerous stories about wrongful deaths or side effects about which you can read at http://sideeffectsofxarelto.org/current-xarelto-lawsuits/.

The Chinese have probably known this for years.  I read somewhere on the internet that they have managed to figure out how to harness the inherent healing elements of an otter and produce it in powdered otter pellet form.  This way, you can get the obvious health benefits of otters without having to actually take care of an otter (which would obviously involve letting it live in your bathtub where it would swim around and crack clams open with rocks on its belly.  ZOMG CUTE!).

Powdered otter pellets work in much the way that actually seeing an otter works, as long as you’ve seen an otter before.  You go to the zoo and check out the otters.  You will never forget that experience (gee whiz! That was the best day ever!).  Now, when you take an otter pellet, you will remember that the pellet is made of the cutest animals on the planet.  You will remember that day at the zoo and THE HEALING BEGINS!

Another out of character moment:  Good lord, this is difficult.  You know, I thought that writing stupid “science” articles would be easy but it’s quite hard to not be constantly accusing myself of being full of shit.  “Yes,” I say to myself, “I know!  That’s the point of the HUMOROUS piece!” “Listen,” I say to myself back, “Go read another message board…”  

So, cancer sufferers who are growing tired of trying the same old remedies, why don’t you ask your oncologist about otters the next time you’re there.  Watch how they will scoff and say that there’s no evidence that otters cure cancer and then drop your doctor because they are just a cog in the Western Medicine machine.

AHHH!  I can barely stand myself right now.  At some point I’ll write a serious post about faith healing and Christian Scientists and this will really make me want to barf.  I think next time I need to write about something less harmful like how we’re days away from time travel due to one person’s vague understanding of relativity.  For now, I don’t think I can keep up this charade any longer.

In conclusion, here is a picture of an Asian Otter in a log:

If you’re having a bad day, I would suspect that picture just made it a little better.  You’re welcome!

And she nails the dismount!  Everyone knows that you get out of trouble on the internet by posting cute animal pictures.  I think a recent commenter is right.  I should just talk about boogers.  That’s much more noble.

Shaun here….

I will rarely use my admin powers (mwahahahaha!) in this sense, but I must vehemently disagree that otters are the cutest animal.  That title clearly goes to pygmy marmosets:


__

Gina back.  I won’t deny that pygmy marmosets are adorable, but…

Shazam!

Gina Sez: Polyskeptic’s Very Own Science Corner!

So, if you read my bio, you may have noticed that I am chemist during the day.  In case you don’t believe me, here’s a picture of me being scientific:

OK, admittedly, that was taken at my bachelorette party and I wasn’t really doing much science.  Please note: The lab coat is bedazzled and is fabulous.  I was given a drink recipe and I was recorded giving a PBS style chemistry lesson, because my friends are awesome and they knew exactly the kind of thing I want to be doing for my bachelorette party.  Here is a picture of me not knowing whether the resulting drink would explode or not…I mean, it was unlikely as it contained lime juice, vodka, and sour mix or something, but you can never be too careful.  Gina Sez: Always Safety First!

Generally, when I’m in a lab setting, I either take on a maniacal mad scientist kind of persona, or a persona similar to the picture above…or more to the point, this:

I can’t really say that Beaker is my hero, per se, but he and I have a lot in common.  Well, maybe not a lot…OK, I say “Meep” a lot and I wear a lab coat for 9 hours a day, 5 days a week and I generally run around like a silly person in the lab and one time I almost fell head first into a drum of goo while trying to scrape out what was in the bottom.  It sounds like something Bunsen would tell Beaker to do.  Alright, I guess that’s actually quite a lot to have in common with a Muppet.  So be it.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I was talking to Shaun about how I’d like to do some science writing on here…but I wanted to do it my way.  My way generally means “ridiculously”.  I want to write bullshit science articles, spanning subjects such as those I actually know about and many that I don’t particularly!  This is the internet, people.  If I can’t write a bunch of bullshit conjectures based on no evidence on the internet, then what good is it?

What good is it, INDEED???

I started musing about this and decided that I had to have different photos of me in a lab coat with different thematic things, depending on the nature of the subject I was talking about.  Like…if I was talking about biology, there would be a picture of me in a lab coat holding a cat.  If I was talking about physics, it would be a picture of me in a lab coat falling off of something, you know, ’cause of gravity ‘n shit (which we all know is only a THEORY).

I told this entire idea to Wes and he said, “You just want another excuse to take stupid pictures of yourself!” Um…no…no…NO…I mean, sure, the pictures of myself are a benefit to mankind and all, but really it’s that I find writing bullshit that is obviously bullshit to be therapeutic and entertaining…to me…

(Full disclosure: I have had big plans to start operating a still in my basement to make a whole line of liquors.  The main point of this idea was to have an excuse to take a bunch of stupid pictures of myself in funny hats.  For example, my vodka would have a picture of me in a big Russian fur hat and the tequila would have me in a sombrero.  Who wouldn’t want this?  But yes, Wes had a point…)

Anyway, everyone else who writes here reads and stuff and forms thoughtful ideas.  My value is my wanton disregard for facts!

OK, I actually really like facts.  My real goal is that idiots will start citing my dumb science articles for school assignments.  That would be sweet.  If enough people cite it and don’t fail, then at some point my theories become true, right?  I mean, that’s how religion works.  If I say something that gets accepted by enough people despite complete lack of evidence, it’s still ok, right?  Sure!

OMG SOCIAL COMMENTARY!

So, yes, I am planning on making the Gina Sez column a regular thing on here in the hopes of entertaining you with my creative interpretations of facts.  I will also make up facts because that’s generally easier.  I mean, it takes so loooooong to Google things.

Also, just like many ultimately bullshit articles, the entries might contain some actual good information.  Like, I’ll probably drop character here and there if I actually start thinking critically about what I’m writing.  I’m so not method.

Oh, and I do well with writing assignments, so if there is anything anyone would like me to write a load of hooey about, please leave me your ideas!

STAY TUNED!

The Nature of Attraction or Wherein I Talk About Sexual Politics Stupidly

When I was younger and starting to become aware of my own sexuality, I used to get attracted to people who made me laugh.  This started at an early age.  I think my first crush was on a kid who was a year or two older than me when I was in 3rd grade.  He used to crap me up all the time and I think attraction for me at the time summed up to wanting to spend more time with him and hoping that he liked making me laugh.  This attribute served to be the thing that really attracted me to people for years.

OK, it’s not really any different now…not in the slightest.  But, now that I’m a bit older and a bit more self aware, I have realized much more what the attraction was about.  Wes will look at this and move to remind me that I think everything is funny.  I won’t argue against that point as it is very true that my sense of humor covers a wide range of things.  It really does suck to be you if you manage to NOT make me laugh because that generally means I’m either highly upset with you or you are the least funny person on the planet.

Note: This has happened.  I have, in fact, not laughed at things.

Anyway, as I have mentioned before, I have had the fortune of being surrounded by generally very intelligent people for most of my life.  Some of them have been very funny also and so I think I have often equated a fabulous sense of humor with intelligence.  It has become apparent to me that the real number one thing that initially attracts me to you is your intelligence.

If you are smart AND funny, well, then you have the potential of being hella sexy to me.

The things that the people I have been attracted to have in common are that their sense of humor and general social skills indicate that they are also comfortable with these aspects of themselves.  I am attracted to confidence and it is confidence that is backed by a mind worth being confident about.  When all these things align, I find myself attracted.  It usually comes upon me unexpectedly (heh heh…SO MATURE).

Notice that I have made no mention of body type or looks.  For me it has always been the case that I am attracted to a mind long before I am fully attracted to a body.  When I am out and about, I notice that some people are good looking, but that does not immediately equate to attraction.  Sexual attraction growing to the point where I actually want to do something about it takes time and generally only happens after I have had a chance to connect with someone intellectually (often in the form of a very funny conversation).

Today I was having a text conversation with Shaun during which he said this:

Fine. So long as this part does not get me type cast.  I still have dreams of one day playing roles of a kung fu master/spy with a pet/sidekick super monkey.  His name is Mr. Mister.

Wait…wrong text conversation.  That is clearly irrelevant to this post.  Right?  Yes, definitely.  No, the one I meant to quote was one we had in response to his latest post.  I was saying that I wish I was generally more attracted to people, that there wasn’t such a strong mental element to it.  He said,

I have trouble comprehending the idea of having a desire which is blocked by another feeling.  I find attraction to be undeniable when it happens.  It hits me quite strongly and immediately.

I have talked about this with Wes, and with women like Jessie and Ginny and it appears (based on a very small sample) that there is a divide about this between the sexes.  Ginny being our in-house sexologist probably has more to say about this from an intellectual/academic standpoint…you know, with like studies and facts and shit.  So hopefully she’ll want to weigh in!  But yes, based on my “research”, the women I have spoken to experience attraction in a way similar to me while Wes has communicated similar sentiments as Shaun where he doesn’t really understand how someone can be good looking to me but I am not attracted.

Part of it could be that this is an inherent biological difference between men and women.  From an evolutionary biology point of view, the female of the species is the bringer of offspring, the continuer of the line and so genetic dominance is attractive.  In humans, the best “candidate” isn’t necessarily the man who can lift a truck over his head or beat the shit out of the neighbor.  It could be the cleverest person.  People want their children to be intelligent so that they can become the next Bill Gates or something.  Especially in our technology laden culture, we have the advent of the sexy nerd.   Industry is moving away from manual labor more into mental labor.  We are elk no more!  I don’t know…ask Dawkins or something for a better explanation of this or read Sex at Dawn…which I should probably do.

But I think much of it has to do with how women are programmed to feel and think about sex by society.  Yes, I am about to speak in some generalities.  So sue me.

So, the battle of the sexes in high school or college or at the single’s bar:

Men are considered aggressively sexual by nature.  Boys will be boys and all that.  There’s nothing they can do about it.  IT’S JUST HOW THEY ARE!  Their mission in life is to have sex.  Women are the gate keepers of sex.  They are not sexual by nature.  Those who are happen to be deeply flawed and sinful (and are god damned whores).  In addition, because men are aggressively sexual and women are the gate keepers of the number one thing that they want, they will do whatever they have to get it.  Men, just because they’re men, are entitled to sex.  To deny them it is cruel, but YOU MUSTN’T GIVE IT TO THEM, lest you want to become a god damned whore.  Basically, you are either a frigid bitch or a god damned whore.  I can’t stress that enough.  Men are stupid, base creatures that have no choice but to do whatever the testosterone coursing through their blood tells them to do and since you, as a woman, have no real value in society except for your ability to have children and then raise them not to be serial killers (serials killers are a result of women in the workplace, obvs), you must remain virtuous so that your mind can be kept clear so that you can mother everyone.  It’s like that part in Clash of the Titans where you find out that the oracle can only tell the future as long as she remains a virgin.  And then she has sex with Perseus and can’t see the future anymore and dooms the Earth.  Next thing you know, Zeus is screaming “Release the Kraken!” and a bunch of other stuff happens and then Perseus stabs the kraken with his testosterone laced phallic sword, and all the peasants rejoiced.  Thank goodness there was a male demi-god around so that no one had to pay for the oracle’s whoring ways.

Or something.

In addition to the massive amount of responsibility women are burdened with as the sacred gatekeepers of consensual (hopefully baby-making) sex, there is the whole other issue of the high likelihood of rape/assault.  Yes, this happens to men too, but not nearly as often.  Men are generally not afraid of being raped when they leave their house and go wait for the bus.  Women deal either consciously or unconsciously with the concept of Shroedinger’s Rapist.  Every man has the potential to harm you.  We are gatekeepers not only of the consensual sex we have, but also of the non-consensual sex we have.  If we are raped or are assaulted, we must have done something to encourage the asshole who did it, because men can’t help themselves.

I mean, don’t even get me started about the magical nature of my hair that I so brazenly allow to fly freely on a daily basis.  Also, you can usually see my wrists.  THE SCANDAL!

Yes, that was likely the worse wrap-up of gender relations ever, but I think I made my point, while also getting to mention krakens.  Big win!

In case you missed my point, I’m saying that, at least in America, women are the victims of a sex negative society and I think that it has affected how most women experience attraction initially.  In an existence where being female is a flaw, in a culture that does not condemn violence against or shaming of women NEARLY enough, feeling a great sense of safety, trust,  and value beyond our reproductive organs is attractive.  These conditions make us feel safe to express our sexuality, to allow it to develop and exist.

This is, I think, a large part of my experience.  When I am out and about and see an attractive woman, I find that I have more of an instant physical attraction to her…likely because I am not programmed to fear for my safety around her.  She might be a maniac, but that worry doesn’t enter my mind.  I am programmed to be wary of men I don’t know well so initial physical attraction is hindered by that fear.   I have experienced wanting some kind of sexual contact with a woman without the desire of a relationship (though only mildly…I’m still new to letting go of my inhibitions in this regard and haven’t ever actually acted on these mild desires).  I have never experienced this with a man.  And I think this all comes down to whatever threat level I feel.

So that explains why some women have more reservations about allowing themselves to just be attracted to people.  Admittedly, as I explained above, my attraction to people still doesn’t develop simply because I feel safe with them.  When I feel safe, then I can get to know you more.  OK, so I don’t think you’re going to hurt me, but are you actually enjoyable to spend time with otherwise?  Feeling safe leads to a meeting of the minds.  Attraction to the body comes after this, for me.  I don’t know why this is.  Evolutionary biology?  I’m just some kind of weirdo?

Wes and Shaun think I’m weird for this, but the women close to them seem to agree with me.  What do you think?

Fonder Hearts

Growing up, I had the unfortunate experience of disliking most of my friends.  I suppose this sounds highly peculiar, but if you had known the people that I spent most of my time with, you would understand.

As a kid I didn’t move around a lot.  I lived in the same house from the time I started kindergarten to the time I graduated highschool, and my parents still live there today.  The theater that my mom owns and operates on the first floor of the building is celebrating its 25th anniversary this very month!  As such, I made a handful of friends who became my “best friends” at the young age of 5.  The thing about being 5 is that you are so naïve about people and before you know it, you are attracting passive aggressive, manipulative awful people who help you have fun sometimes.  You don’t know any better!  Well, maybe that’s just me, but that is what always happened.  And when you make friends that young in your area, and you all happen to be pretty smart, well, long story short I didn’t get rid of these people until I was 18-19 and bitter.

I spent most of my formative years, I enjoyed finding excuses to not have to spend time with these people outside of school.  I had convinced myself that I was an introvert because being around them sapped my energy.  The very thought of bumping into them on the street left a nervous lump in my stomach.  Whenever I see a “buddy comedy” or any movie about a group of young friends who spend all their time together, I have a lot of trouble relating.  I feel a sense of loss for all that time I spent trying to keep these people happy while I was so unhappy myself.  I was too worried of judgment and repercussions to ever really be honest, to ever really get mad and show it, to ever say “Why do we even hang out?  We don’t actually like each other, do we?”  In turn, my parents were pretty much my real best friends and I spent a lot of time at home with them, avoiding phone calls and amusing myself with various projects.  I spent a lot of time in my room, coming out to visit my parents at various points.  They were almost always there, so I wasn’t ever really by myself.

Did I mention before that I was miserable for most of the time before I was in my 20’s?

The result of all this was that for all that time, I never missed anyone.  I was generally relieved when life circumstances made it so that I didn’t have to deal with someone anymore.  I remember when a close friend of mine decided to transfer to a different highschool.  People with healthy relationships would have been sad about this, but I was relieved.  When people drifted out of my life, I didn’t particularly care.  To me it felt like a burden on me was being lifted.

A lot of this had to do with the feeling that I was generally pretending most of the time.  As a teenager, I often felt like a shell of myself amongst my peers.  I can’t say for sure what I was hiding (I don’t think it was all conscious) but comparing myself today with me then, I can definitely say that I was holding back.  I would say that the only friend who really had any concept of who I was and what I was about was Peter (note: He is the only person from then who has a significant place in my life), and we have often laughed about how much we hid from each other about our problems back then.

In highschool, I got my first long term boyfriend.  We dated for 4 and a half years.  During most of that time, I didn’t have to miss him because I could spend as much time with him as I wanted.  At 19, we moved in together and by the time he went away for a while and I should have been missing him…well, the relationship was falling apart and I was cheating on him and it was all a mess.

When I started dating Wes, we got close really fast and spent most of our free time together.  We moved in together after 9 months of dating and we’ve been lucky enough to spend very little time apart in the 8 years we’ve been together.  The times when we were apart though introduced me to something I was unfamiliar with: Missing someone.

During a lot of this time too, though, I was/still am/always will be working on my own issues.  They were more severe when Wes and I got together and when you are riddled with insecurities and other emotional problems, you tend to be a bit self absorbed.   I missed Wes when we were apart, but it was often coupled with various other issues.  I needed Wes’ help all the time to get through things and when I was alone, his absence magnified my inability to cope effectively with things.

Aaaaaaand then we decided to become polyamorous.  As I have mentioned, this decision led to me kicking my efforts to improve myself into high gear.  Happiness was the goal and to achieve it, a lot of shit had to be dealt with.  And when I successfully worked through so much crap I found something amazing.  I was more in love with, more committed to Wes than ever before.  When we are apart my missing of him is pure.  Wes is one of the people who brings out the best in me.  I don’t have to hide when he’s around.  He inspires me to be myself and being without him leaves me without a source of activation energy.  I can maintain, but as time without him progresses, I will inevitably move toward lump-hood, feeling as though a piece of me is missing.

Yeah, yeah, get out your barf bags.  You’re going to need them.

So, I didn’t particularly expect to find a connection like that with anyone else.  But I realize that mental and emotional work that I did to accept and embrace Wes’ polyamory (I didn’t know if I would ever personally participate) changed my perspective on it in general and, well, it changed my heart.  Basically, I had a Grinch experience where my heart grew to an enormous size and it felt like I had an infinite capacity to love and care for people.

And then I gave back Christmas and sat down to some mighty fine roast beast in Whoville.  Or something.

So, I married Wes and then we asked to move in with us because Wes and I agreed that the house was so much better with her living in it than otherwise, and then I started dating Shaun, and a little while after that, Ginny and before I knew it I was the happiest creature on the planet.  I was surrounded by so much love and felt like I had the ability to give so much of myself because of it.

And now I have myself a strange double edged sword.  It is wonderful and beautiful and sometimes painful and sad.  I miss all of them when I am apart from them.  The business trip I went on recently was awful for various reasons, but the worst of it was that I was away from home for two entire days, alone, without these people who honestly make me feel whole.

Yes, yes, I see you’ve filled your barf bags.  There’s a trashcan over there.  NO! Don’t use the waste paper basket!  Can’t you see it’s full of holes?  Ugh.  You can’t find good, responsible, puking audience members these days.

As I mentioned on my other blog , I slipped into dazes while traveling home (which took me forever due to my connection and layovers) and when I would emerge from a plane, I kept expecting to see them all there.  When I would awake from my loneliness induced haze, I realized that this is always what I want, all things being equal.  I always want them all there.  A couple of days without them doesn’t ever seem right.

Of course, what I want in my delirious hazes isn’t always realistic, so in the mean time, I miss them.  And while the feeling of missing people you adore isn’t what I would call pleasant, it seems to me that it is a kind of fantastic unpleasantness.  For a person that spent so many years hoping that everyone I was close to would disappear, I would say that having people I don’t want to live without, even for a couple of days, is a vast improvement.

I write these things about polyamory so that those who question us might better understand why it’s worth it to us.  One thing I hear a lot is, “Ugh, I can barely maintain one relationship…more than one would be impossible!”  I was afraid of that too.  But I found that there was nothing to be afraid of here.  Yes, poly means that there are more people for me to miss and when I am having some general emotional problems (as I have over the last few weeks) it can be intense, but I miss them because they are awesome why would I trade having requited love for an existence without it, just to spare me that less than pleasant feeling.

Anyway, that’s my lovey dovey post for the week.  Just be happy I spared you a picture of a Danielle Steel novel or something to illustrate the Depth of my Feelings.

I guess I should call the janitor.  Yeesh!

Family Dinner: It’s All Bunnies and Rainbows Around Here

Easter was a first for me in the world of polyamory.  I went to have Easter dinner with Shaun and Ginny at Shaun’s mom’s house.  This would be my first time meeting his mother and I was nervous.  Meeting parents is one of those odd things in dating and usually, if you find yourself in a long term relationship, you only have to do this once.  Polyamory means the possibility of more than one serious partner and that means having to go through the dance of meeting parents more.

Yes, yes, get your laughs in about the fact that everyone writing for Polyskeptic had Easter dinner plans yesterday.  Wes and Jessie went to a party that involved an egg toss and an Easter egg hunt.  The eggs were filled with cash.  This is awesome and really in the spirit of the season.  Easter: One of the many days you get kids sugared up and tell them bizarre stories about rabbits and dye chicks green.  Also, something something Jesus.  In my house, Easter has always been an excuse to get together.  I like coloring eggs because I’m a dork and I figure, the older I get the more skilled my creations become, so why stop?  Jesus never enters into the conversation.  Pagans do and my dad usually takes this time of year to say something about Druids being cool and how Christians killed them all or something, but generally, the whole holiday is just an excuse to eat a ham purchased with grocery store points.  Shaun’s family seemingly uses the holiday for the same excuse.  No Jesus, just hanging out eating something you don’t eat the rest of the year.

So, yes, I was going to meet Shaun’s mom.  Earlier in the week she had called him worried that we were going to be obnoxious about our polyamorous ways in front of her neighbors.  I think she had this vision of us standing on the dinner table pontificating about the value of polyamory and then, I don’t know, making out in the kitchen and everywhere else.  I went further to assume that she pictured me, being the Homewrecking Harlot(registered trademark) in this scenario, arriving in some slutty get-up, a giant hairdo and, I don’t know, smoking Virginia Slims? I would walk in while Ginny looked depressed and slur out, “Hi! Where’s the booze?”

I say this mostly in jest, but this fear of what and who she assumed I was got to me a bit.  It was silly because I am lucky in that I can be pretty personable and most people generally like me upon meeting me, but I felt like I was going to have to be some odd version of myself to get through the day.  I assumed also that these neighbors she was afraid we would offend would be terrifying and would be the bigger challenge.  So, I baked an apple cobbler.  Homewreckers don’t bake cobblers, right?  Of course not.  Then I put on a nice skirt, shirt, blazer combination with heels.  “I am a wonderful person.  I am totally professional and appropriate!”  Before Wes took me to Shaun and Ginny’s, Jessie gave me a pep talk and it went something like this:

“Gina, you are awesome.  Anyone who doesn’t see that can go fuck themselves.  Shaun loves you and thinks you’re awesome too and will agree with me about what they can go do if they don’t like you.”

That’s a paraphrase, but that was basically the sentiment.  I really appreciated it.  On the ride over, Wes helped to psyche me up too talking about various psychological choices people make about liking people.  If they find that they actually like you, it’s difficult for them to think of you as bad.  It’s called the “Halo Effect”.  Yes, we are nerds.

We awaited our ride and Shaun entertained Ginny and I by dancing around the kitchen.  When our ride got there, we piled in the truck and were immediately offered Smarties and we drove down to her house 2 hours away.  The guy driving was her ex and didn’t seem to care who I was (and apparently doesn’t particularly talk to Ginny either).  The ride was soundtracked by a 1960’s satellite radio station and this basically made the whole thing start out as absurd.  The ride was pretty quiet.  I had tried to say a few things to our driver, we’ll call him Bob, but he didn’t really seem to be listening.  He engaged Shaun in conversation but generally ignored Ginny and me.  In general, everyone was reserved, which is always weird to me.  At one point, we stopped for gas and Bob got out of the car.  Shaun turned around and looked at me and I said, “It’s going to be a looooong day.” And with that, a switch was flipped and everyone was silly…for exactly the amount of time Bob wasn’t in the car.

His mom lives in a standard sprawling burb.  Getting there added to the absurdity.  Little did I know that the absurdity would grow.  She basically lives where Edward Scissorhands took place, but with less interesting shrubbery.  I had a Doctor Who moment upon entering the house and seeing how pretty it was and how much bigger it was than I thought (yes, indeed, it was bigger on the inside).  Within minutes, Shaun got his mom to find some snacks and things were jovial enough.  I wasn’t getting weirdness from his mom.  Bottles of wine were opened.  Shaun was being Shaun, which Ginny and I are both entertained by and then his mother said,

“See, I think Shaun is Jim Jones or something.  He’s got you both thinking he’s funny or something and he’s not.”

I had a lapse in memory about who Jim Jones was and when his mom left the room, I asked Shaun and he reminded me that Jim Jones was the founder of The People’s Temple, responsible for the deaths of 909 children and adults either through violent coercion or brainwashing.  He orchestrated the largest mass suicides in history.  It’s a delightful story, really.  So…his mother was suggesting that her son had brainwashed us into thinking that he’s funny or something and that he has tricked us into liking him…next step: Kool-Aid.  My eyes widened and I started cracking up.  “Wow!” I said, “That is AWESOME!”  She came back into the room and Shaun poured me some of the red wine that his mom likes, which is hella sweet.  She made another Jim Jones comment and then actually said something about Kool-Aid and I just couldn’t resist. “Hmm, well I’m drinking this wine which is basically Kool-Aid.  Maybe he learned it from you!”  She was good humored about, reiterating that it was her son doing the brainwashing.

She brought out her iPad and showed us this app that she and Bob were kind of obsessed with.  It was an animated cat that you could talk to and it would repeat back what you said.  You could scratch its belly and various other things and it would purr and get into crazy shenanigans.  Periodically, an animated dog would come into the frame and fart loudly, thus offending the cat.  They showed it to us and we found it mildly amusing.  When the fart noise occurred, I admit to laughing harder, but it was just as much about the absurdity of being in poly-law’s kitchen watching her poke at an iPad that is making fart noises.

The neighbors arrived after an hour or so and were…delightful!  All I knew about them leading up to this meeting was that they were Jewish and that these were the neighbors his mom thought we might offend with our decadent, inappropriate lifestyle.  As it turned out, they were wonderful people with that wonderful New York Jew lilt to their voices.  I was helpless against picking up the cadence of their speech as I spoke to them.  It was like talking to the extended family on my mom’s ide.  The husband used to run a headshop in Harvard Square in the 60’s.  Apparently, back then, this also included selling massive amounts of weed out of the shop.  He told me stories about it and said that he stopped drugs all together when he had a trip while driving home in which he saw his own heart beating on the dashboard. ..for three hours.  That was the end of that.  They were great, laid back people who didn’t mind dropping curse words around and had excellent senses of humor.  They didn’t ask about who I was and didn’t seem to care (the theme of the day, really), but we’re pretty sure they would have been fine knowing the truth about our relationships.  Still, there wasn’t any particular need to bring it up.  Our thoughts on this was that if someone asked, we wouldn’t lie.  Simple.  No one asked.

This part of the day was pretty great.  I felt much more comfortable to be myself and I opened up and was cracking jokes with the neighbors the whole time.  Dinner was served and it was delicious.  Shaun made a couple of dishes that were awesome and everyone was impressed that he could cook.  Ginny said something about how this was the reason she was marrying him.  I had things I would have said, mostly of a smart assed tone (“It’s the reward we get for putting up with his ridiculousness!” or “Well, I try to pay him back when I can…but he’s such a connoisseur”), but I stopped myself not wanting to be too familiar.  I couldn’t really snap out of the mindset that to show indications of our relationship was inappropriate in this environment.  It was very difficult and very draining to do.

Shaun and I are relatively affectionate in public.  I like that he brings that out in me and in doing so, I have become more like that with Wes (it’s something we both never did much of, but Jessie brings it out in Wes like Shaun does for me).  In our regular lives, this isn’t anything in particular, but yesterday I made certain work of stifling it as much as possible.  Yes, this was probably unnecessary, but Shaun and I figured it would probably wise to keep it to a minimum.  I took cues from him and we spent the day being a little bit like highschoolers in class.  It was cute, I guess, but ultimately draining because it was us hiding things to keep up appearances, and that’s never fun.  Not to mention that I was hiding my relationship with Ginny too, which of course, always has the double whammy for people with delicate sensibilities.  The advantage here though is that people expect women to be a bit more affectionate with their friends.  We found ourselves cuddling a bit of the couch while Shaun attempted to understand his mom’s entertainment center set up and the adults played with the farting dog app in the dining room.  At this point, I was laughing hysterically while watching Shaun try NOT to throw things out the window (and watching he and his mother communicate with each other, which is basically like watching two people speak completely different languages to each other) and listening to the fart noises and meows come from the other room.  I was sending Wes commentary via text and Ginny was laughing right along with me.  I was really glad she was there because I likely would have gone insane…much quicker.

Another thing that is draining to do is to hide my liberalness from people anymore.  I’m just starting to come out of my shell and call people on ignorance and once you start it’s a hard thing to stop.  As dinner drew to a close, somehow Bob got inspired to start telling ethnic jokes.  It’s was Shaun’s mom’s idea to start with I think and I think I encouraged it because the way the jokes were brought up was in a bizarre way.  I can’t remember how it happened, but Shaun’s mom said something about how all of his jokes are about Italians and he said, “Yeah, but you can substitute Jews in easily”.  My eyebrows went up and my eyes widened again.  Not only were two of the people at the table Jewish that he knew about, I raised my hand and said, “Oh, this ought to be good.  I’m an Italian Jew!”  The jokes boiled down to Italian and Jewish women being ugly.  I was tempted to allow the evening to devolve into a fit of you “Yo’ mama so ugly” jokes but resisted the urge.  Then Bob started talking about Hitler.

I SHIT YOU NOT.

He said something about how Hitler would have been way more successful had the Jews not been so organized.  I almost feel out of my chair and could simply say something like, “Oh, so the facists WEREN’T successful?” and managed to stop myself before saying, “I guess 6 million constitutes as failure these days, you know, for genocide. It’s all or nothing, baby!”  I think everyone was of the mind to not let anything go anywhere significant.  There was no way that could have gone well had it continued.

We had dessert and discussed why cobblers are called cobblers.  I made some smart assed comment about using a real shoemaker in my recipe and then said, “I would assume it has something to do with cobblestone roads”.  The iPad made another appearance, but not for farting dogs this time.  Instead, Wikipedia came to the rescue and it turned out I was right.  Then we discussed suet pie and Spotted Dick and then retreated once again to the couch.  Shaun got the Wii working, but by this time I think the stress of the day had gotten to me and I wasn’t feeling too hot.  There would be no Wii tennis for me.  Shaun had regaled me with tales of his Wii tennis prowess a few days earlier, saying that he used to be able to play sitting down with a simple flip of one hand…while debating a Creationist online with the other.  Show Off.  Ginny was knitting and I was simply starting to curl into a ball on the sofa.  It was about 7pm.  We had been there since 2pm and I had been up since 8am at which time I was gardening with Wes.  The neighbors left around 7:30, while Shaun and his mother were having an epic Wii Bowling battle.  Shortly after they left, Shaun looked at me on the couch, asked if I was alright and I said, “Eh, I think I’m just done with this”.  We were beholden to Bob as our means of getting home and he had disappeared somewhere in the house.  Then Shaun’s mom disappeared and we had no clue when we were getting out of there.

At some point, we figured out where they were because they were fighting.  The fight moved around various areas of the property, the most exciting part being in the kitchen right next to us.  The argument was loud, repetitive (as fights usually are) and relatively easy to follow with little context.  Basically, neither of them were listening to each other and were having two different conversations.

The goal of leaving started to resemble a video game to me.  We would achieve various mini goals that contributed to the ultimate goal, like collecting items in an RPG.  Instead of useful keys, we were achieving things like asking his mom what the plan was, then watching her wash a dish and discuss what food we would be taking with us, then putting our coats on and standing in the foyer.  Each of these levels was interrupted by more fighting or other nonsense in which none of us were involved.  My favorite was an argument about light switches.

At about 9pm we found ourselves in the truck ready for departure.  I was in a daze about the entire day.  Bob started the car and the radio started up too, piping in Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual”.  I lost it in a fit of hysterical laughter.  Bob was unfazed.  We got home an hour and a half later and I curled up in a ball on the Shaun and Ginny’s bed.

What I just described above was a typical family holiday.  Family joy and family dysfunction don’t change when you’re polyamorous and as in most things, the dysfunction rarely has anything to do with the polyamorous thing at all.  It seems common place that going home to visit family is generally a game of hiding things and self control.  Being Shaun’s girlfriend in this context was almost a non-issue.  We didn’t bring attention to it and there were so many other things to distract.  A family’s issues never really change.  In this case, polyamory helped because of the wonderful support structure it gives.  Ginny and I could confide in each other about everything when Shaun was pulled away.  Shaun had both of us to run to when things got too ridiculous.  And I could share quips about what was happening with Wes who was there for me via phone.  His support was there in spirit.

I was expecting the day to be hard, but for unique reasons.  I thought the day was mainly going to be difficult due to people’s discomfort with polyamory, and yes, there were elements that were related to that.  But it was harder for such standard reasons that everyone deals with when you go home to your parents’ house as an adult.  This lends itself all the more to the idea that polyamory isn’t really all that strange.  You encounter everything you encounter in a monogamous relationship, you just have more people to exchange horrified or knowing looks with.  My experience with Shaun’s mom was apparently a lot of Ginny’s experience with Shaun’s mom.  Poly means getting to this awkward thing more often but at least you have more people to share in it, and honestly, to me having more people to point out the absurdity of life to is always worth it.

Oh, If They Only Knew

I am sitting in a generic sports themed bar in the Atlanta airport drinking a class of kind of awful cheap red wine that tasted horrid when I started drinking it, but has since improved with each sip.  The music is Top 40 stuff I have never heard, but its beats per minute suggest that I should be inspired to dance.  I am waiting for a late flight back to Philly alone and the loneliness threatened to overtake me earlier, but I have kept it at bay by thinking about the Lost City of Atlanta episode of Futurama and also David Cross’ bits about porno mags in airport news stands and the Light Up Atlanta Festival.  I just want to be home.  This has been a particularly stupid business trip.

I won’t get into why as that’s a bit unprofessional to talk about on a public blog and would likely get me in more trouble than all this deviant sex and non-belief I talk about here.  I think that’s progress somehow…

So instead I will share the following conversation I had yesterday with the gentleman I was traveling with.  I don’t remember how we got into such a conversation, but at some point I was talking about based on Jewish rules, I’m totes Jewish, as in my mother’s entire bloodline is Russian Jew and I definitely would have qualified for a birth rite trip to Israel a few years ago (and a place in their terrifying military!).  I then said,

“So yeah, I am technically Jewish, but, well, whatever, I’m an atheist so anyway…”

I tried to continue telling my story but the guy would have none of it.

“Waaaaait a minute.  You don’t get to say something like ‘i’m an atheist and think I’m going to let it go.  You know I’m a big Christian, right?”

“And I can let that go!  For the purposes of this conversation.”

“Oh, can you?  Well, I’m going to worry about you now…being an atheist…”

“No need, really.  Also, I’m just trying to be out.  We’re trying to that now…be out and shit.  So, yeah, I’m an atheist and I don’t really feel like being saved.”

“Well, I was raised in the church, so…”

And that was basically the end of the conversation.  It was strangely undramatic, and I suppose having a Christian worry about my soul is better than just hating me.  As we have discussed, worrying about an atheist’s soul shows way more actual belief and commitment to a the theoretical message of Jesus than saying “man oh man, I can’t wait for the revelation, ’cause fuck all of ya!”

But I suddenly found myself wanting to come clean about everything.  Polyamory, burlesque, my utter disdain for religions as a whole.  I gave him a giant speech about the insidious nature of sexism and racism in the world today and how he as a white, Christian, wealthy(ish) man can not possibly understand what it’s like to walk the Earth as anything else.  He said something about black people as a whole being more prejudiced than whites today and that things are so much better than they were and I actually said, “That’s privilege talking.  Just because black and white people can sit in a diner together and not murder each other, just because no one is turning a high pressure hose on a black person having the audacity to want a sip of water at the wrong fountain anymore does NOT mean racism is dead.  Just like the fact that I’m a chemist doesn’t mean I don’t encounter weird episodes of sexism on a stupidly regular occassion.”

One thing is for certain: I am not only out as an atheist, but also as a thinking, intelligent person who is slowly but surely attempting to fully extract my head from my ass.  I hope that everyone starts to list this as a goal in life.

More wine, dagnabbit!

And There Shall Be a New World for All

When I was a kid, I was fairly certain I was going to be an artist.  My best friend (at the time) and I were always the “artists” in class when we were young.  It was strangely competitive between us.  She had a very good handle on realism, which is a set of skills that non-artists really respect.  If you could copy a picture line for line by hand, you were considered the great artist (to untrained, untalented hacks, of course).  But it was generally accepted that while my skills in realistic duplication were sub par, my interpretation was superior.  I put much of myself in every drawing.  She drew the perfect fish to see, I drew the fish you could identify with.

I thought that there was a place for my genius in the artistic world, but alas, I was (and have often been) ahead of my time.  I held on to the idea for some time, but one day something changed.  I have spoken about it before on here.  A substitute teacher came in and demanded that we draw a picture of what we thought God looked like.  Being an atheist even then, I was offended, but instead of lashing out, I chose to make a statement about my view of these types of things. I drew a picture of the solar system.  My statement: There is no god, only the universe and all that is in it.

I was very advanced for a child, I will admit.  And perhaps that was threatening to this man.  What I didn’t tell you before, because it was too painful to remember, was that he completely rejected it. He called me a fool!  And then he told me, a child with a fragile sense of self, that I was worthless as an artist and should never torture anyone with my depictions again.

I was a child and knew no better than to listen to what adults told me.  I believed that he was right and gave up my dreams of being an artist.

That’s right.  A Christian destroyed my childhood dreams, and ultimately, a Christian took away my childhood.  How could I ever go back from that?  How could I trust again?

I forged ahead as an atheist, turning my entire life towards science.  As I grew older, I realized that truth could be only found in science’s cold, unfeeling clutches.  As I was exposed to more and more Christians, I saw them trying to undermine this truth and make the world into something that further destroyed my sense of identity and dreams.  Every time I had a conversation with a Christian about some kind of important fact of everyday life, I find myself being able to blame them for all these years of pain and hardship that I have had to endure.  I began to develop ideas that simultaneously shocked and calmed me.  I was shocked that I was genius enough to think of such things.  I was calmed because they made so much sense during a time of such chaos.

But, I am civilized and realize that my radical opinions would alienate me from those close to me.  I struggled with this for a long time, but as I found people who were like minded, I felt more comfortable being who I am.  I didn’t feel like my heart was black, or that my ideas were crazy.  I felt that I was exactly right, but as long as I had a small community to make me feel safe, I could keep them to myself.

So, imagine my surprise when I open this blog today to find that Shaun and Ginny have…become Christians.  Not only did they sacrifice a goat without inviting me (something we had often talked about doing as an exciting evening out), but they converted to Christianity and publicly DUMPED ME because of the very things about me that I have thought they loved.  I read the words.  My heart was torn asunder.  I collapsed into a wailing ball of tears and whimpering.

And then I woke up.

Once again, Christianity has caused my dreams of happiness to be destroyed.  Once again, my heart has been stomped on by the likes of Christian ideology.  And with Christianity’s one last assault on me, clarity was mine.  I will no longer be quiet about the things brewing in my mind.  They must be spoken and THEY SHALL BE HEARD.

I am working on a draft of a new book about my struggle.  And you must understand that my struggle is YOUR struggle just the same.  Our hopes and dreams, our self worth, everything that we are has been under constant threat by the Christian hordes.  In it I will outline my vision of the perfect future.  In brief, the perfect future will involve a government led by cold, hard, unwavering reason.  Only the smartest and purest of mind shall be parts of this government, and then, by nature of evolution, by natural selection, the populace shall become the same.  Reprogramming attempts shall be made on those who do not initially fit the mold.  Those who can not be reprogrammed shall be eliminated, but not before their feeble minds can be used for something worthwhile in the world of science.

It is my hope, and it is my assumption that science will INDEED replace god in the hearts and minds of all who call themselves citizens of Earth and I shall be at the forefront of the revolution.  All will know my name and those who have chosen oppose me now will certainly learn to regret it.

So, Shaun, I thank you once again for providing me with own Great Awakening.  You have unlocked my potential, and soon all others will be awakened to the truth as well.  Mark this day, April 1st, as the day the world became aware of the glorious future.  Won’t you join me on this great journey towards ultimate enlightenment?  The journey starts with this single step today.