Cafeinated Ramblings

ResuMe: I have ten years of data entry experience!
Them: I’m sorry, we passed on your application for a candidate with data entry experience.

~*~

ResuMe: I have four years warehouse experience!

Them: I’m sorry, we will not consider your application because we are looking for someone with at least one year warehouse experience.

~*~

ResuMe: I have a BA in English and an MA in writing!

Them: You laughable fool, you can’t work in a *bookstore* without retail experience.

~*~

Right then. 

… Does anyone else have this joyful experience? What is your favorite Job Hunting Story from the modern day world of unemployment?

When you see it…

It occurs to me that there is a lot I don’t know about the world. I will freely admit this. I will often ask questions of people who don’t want to form answers, because they know things I don’t. I want to learn. I want to experience. I don’t have the means to do everything I might possibly want to accomplish, but I have the resources to learn about them.

There’s a lot out there. The most genius among us as humans have not experienced everything there is to life. 

So the question is, what is out there that I want to do? So far, with what I know, and what I have seen, somehow, that list is still rather small. I don’t have a Bucket List, and at my age, maybe I should.

But what I have learned is that life is the experience. The expectation implied by a to-do list is just an illusion. Life does what life wants. Sometimes the best experiences you don’t see coming until they are at your doorstep and opening the door (because maybe they aren’t always the most polite of guests.) Words and plans are insubstantial, just dreams in the mind. Life is something you don’t know until you see it.

Right now, I have the rare opportunity to seek out my own adventures with my time. I’m not entirely sure I know what to do with it. But I’m going to try. And first up is volunteering in my community, with that very first training day tomorrow. So we shall see how it goes.

 That’s life! Little adventures, learning, exploring, sharing, helping, doing. The collection of stories to tell instead of merely the telling of them.

Secrets from the world of Hollyweird

Funfacts of the day:
1) Actors are often paid to wear designer attire to Red Carpet events. They essentially rent the dresses and agree to promote the designers when the press stick microphones in their faces and ask excitedly “Who are you wearing?” The dresses they wear don’t always reflect their ability or willingness to buy them, merely to wear them. They are showing off someone else’s work, someone else’s brand, and they are mutually raising each other’s  status.

2) Actors are essentially walking advertisements, just as sports stars are. Ya know the world famous sporty Wheaties boxes? Yeah, the athletes get paid for those. You know the logos on NASCAR drivers’ cars and jumpsuits? They get paid for those. They are mutually raising each other’s status by even momentarily aligning their names together. THAT is HOW they make their money. Actors are business-people, just like athletes are business-people, and that is why both have managers. (Hint: most businesses ALSO have managers!)

3) Do you watch sports? Then you watch actual commercials. That is also advertising. Advertising is how networks make their money. That is how shows make their money: the shows exist as a way to make people watch commercials, shows are a way to sell products, services, and –gasp– also elections. The shows make money for production because the networks can sell ad time. “But what about Game of Thrones and Westworld?” you ask. Those shows sell the networks, not the advertisements. The networks create demand for themselves by promoting (advertising) their flagship shows. People flock to subscribe to the networks because of the shows they host, ergo the network makes money and increases in value and the money goes into the shows to make them better and draw more subscription fees. It’s how TV works.

4) Every public televised event is –double-gasp! – scripted in some form. How and why? Because they have to know where to fit in the commercials. Sports events have a schedule that somebody has to map out, and yes, I mean that Live Hockey Game You Are Watching Right Now has a producer and a camera team and a planned order of comments, commentary topics, endorsements and camera angles. Ya know, the announcer saying “This Play of the Game brought to you by Chryforandi Widgets! Meeting all your widget needs without the tears!” counts as an advertisement and gets the scriptwriter who thought it up paid.

5) Reality TV is also scripted. Like, really scripted, just not ahead of filming. The way it works is that the camera crews follow their subjects around for the designated amount of time, then the footage is filtered through by some underpaid just-above-intern-status editor/writers. Then the editor/writers have to figure out the plot of their subjects’ lives after those lives have been recorded. They get to pick out any single sentence they choose and build an entire story around it, then go through some ridiculous number of hours’ worth of footage to find the snippets and sound bites that match that story. Then! They write up the interview questions that their subjects will be asked as followup to further feed that story. It doesn’t have to be true, it just has to be suggested and validated with footage. It’s a soundbite, with the context changed.

6) You know those political pundits and talking heads on FOX News, The Blaze, CNN, MSNBC, etc… most of them read from scripts. They argue with their guests on pre-selected topics that are along particular points and couched between bits of script. Pre-written lines are fit into the conversations to keep their guests on the topic the show’s producers planned for. Your nightly news is delivered to you by a human reading from a TelePrompTer of sorts, and the majority of the news is not material written by them. It was written by -or at least in conjunction with- somebody else. Which, effectively, makes your favorite television journalist actually an actor. They are a sports commentator reporting on the game they are watching with you, or they are a journalist bringing to you a segment written and produced by another journalist, everyone involved fully educated in the nuances of their craft as journalists before they present the information to you. (Bonus: all of these shows and their networks are ALSO funded by advertising!)

7) So. You have every element of Hollywood storytelling, from Actors to Writers to Cameramen to Editors to Interns to Craftsmen to Stuntmen, etc. in every little tiny thing you watch on tv or movies or listen to broadcasted on the radio. (Note how everything seems to get back to somebody selling something?)

8) Short of going out to the woods and never listening to a radio or tv or computer or Smartphone, you are constantly influenced by biased and filtered and scripted media in some form. There is literally no way to not be exposed to someone else’s way of thinking when it comes to a media source. You can’t actually only or never get your news from “mainstream media” because the influence of media is too broad; every scrap of anything ever reported on is influenced by some other form of media and the filtered perspective it offers. EVERY. SINGLE. SOURCE.

 (Disclaimer in point: This post right here is filtered by the bias of my education and experience of life, and it is also a reflection of media. Funny how that works.)
9) That is why writers, journalists, and yes, even actors, study the subjects they write about or otherwise present to people. They research. They become informed so that they can share knowledge. They spend time on the ground, “in the trenches”, learning about what issues impact whatever singular question or character they are looking to present to the public who are otherwise unaware of its existence. It’s not a myth that actors research roles, it is a common thing. Acting isn’t JUST memorizing lines. Acting is portraying a human being in all of its complexities, making their views and beliefs evident on the screen when perhaps the script doesn’t spell it out directly. That means understanding that character’s viewpoint and experience beyond the script page the writers presented to them. Writers research before and during writing a script and then actors research before and during their portrayal for an audience. 

10) Actors are not stupid people. They are informed and they are open-minded and they are observant. And, funfact, they aren’t all liberals. They aren’t all rich and famous. There are more actors in LA alone than can ever make it on screen, but not many of them will ever act in anything other than the community theater stages. It takes work to find out about roles to audition for, it takes networking and social skills to enter into a community run by money and the style that makes it. It takes determination to show up to audition after audition and deliver Oscar-worthy performances to a panel of people who won’t like you because, I don’t know, maybe your eyes are brown instead of blue. (Who knows, maybe blue eyes sell cereal better.) 

And assuming they do like you, you are that one person out of the thousands of faces they looked at for that character, you then show up on set for 8 to 12 to 17 hour work-days, reciting lines, making up clever additions to a scene that the script doesn’t show, doing physically demanding work either on-set pacing for scene after scene or stunts that involve sweat and blood-sacrifice. It takes smarts and savvy and intelligence to beat a numbers game using the human-element of the Hollywood business equation. 

11) Actors work very hard, and a very small percentage can make a career out of it. But they are, from start to finish, salesmen and saleswomen. They are the same as every blue-collar American who worked hard, made their name known, pulled themselves up by those mythical bootstraps, and earned the money that built them the lives they enjoy.  Not every store makes it into the status of a retail giant, but look at those humble beginnings of the Walton family’s fortune. It’s the same for actors. They start somewhere and they work to attain where they end up. They start in tiny dingy apartments in the worst parts of big cities or they start couch surfing on a family member’s couch, or they start out playing high school varsity and catch the right attention of the right person at the right time. That’s life. 

12) Money is not status. Money is numbers. Money isn’t a product of luck unless you were born into it, and then it takes work to keep what you were given. It takes knowledge and savvy to know where to put it to make it grow, when to risk it and when to protect it. 

13) Status is a product of work. Work does not guarantee money. That’s life. Work likely does, however, give a clue about status. Because status has to be earned, and earning anything takes work. 

14) Actions show work. The actions someone takes are the truest story they tell. There is no physical movement that can be a lie: either the muscle moved or it did not, yes or no, ones and zeroes. It sells or it doesn’t, it works or it doesn’t. The moves you make are how you get things done and also the actual things you do

15) Along the way, one becomes known by their works, their actions, (such as an actor, who acts) and that is status. This is why aligning an athlete with a cereal box is supposed to sell the cereal; it creates the assumption that the athlete achieved his success by eating that cereal.  At the same time, it creates the assumption that the athlete became well known because their face is on a cereal box and thus everyone recognizes them on their sports field. The consumer likes the athlete so the consumer will like the cereal, and viceversa.  If you like the NASCAR driver’s skills, then you will like the company emblazoned on the car’s hood. If you like the product, you will expect to like the driver. Skill and effectiveness become synonymous with person and position both, and expected with the alignment. When those expectations are met, the viewer is rewarded for their belief in the match between person and position, the match is rewarded by public appeal and an individual’s success. Status grows with exposure and experience. Status is a reflection of respect.

So it’s important to note, someone who shows respect will be respected. Someone who does not show respect is likely not worth respecting. It will not be status borne by their actions and it will not be portrayed in the actions they make, which makes it false.

Just some random thoughts I opted to share… enjoy!

Forms of Protest

Nationally, since the election, there has been a surge of what can reasonably be called hate crimes all across the US. There have been plenty of people cheering in the streets and slapping their neighbors and friends on the back to celebrate a party victory, certainly. But still more are scared, actually honestly afraid for their personal welfare in one way or another. They speak up and say so, their Trump-voting peers tell them to stop being whiners and poor losers and accept the legality of the democratic system that – via the electoral college and not the popular vote – will replace the nation’s first black-skinned president with possibly the nation’s first orange-skinned autocrat.

The problem seems to be that people are more interested in defending the man who made the racist/sexist/exclusionist behaviors seem like normal and acceptable behaviors, than they are in identifying those behaviors as a problem. It’s like with children or pets, they will imitate what they see others get away with, and adults/role models are where they learn these problems from. Political Correctness has its place for a reason: without it, people in large groups are seemingly unable to identify for themselves the boundaries of living within an inclusive, diverse community. This is a generational/cultural gap that the last twenty years had been bridging. 

Children are not born knowing how to hate anyone. As brilliantly pointed out by Denis Leary, “Racism isn’t born, folks, it’s taught. I have a two-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps! End of list.” The same goes for every kind of -ism out there; even a MacGyverism was ultimately learned behavior from an older generation because that show just got a reboot this season. This kind of cultural transmission of information is no longer done only by parents, because the “village” it takes to raise a child has by and large been replaced by the internet, the newspapers, the radio, the tv, or movies. Media broadcasts behaviors and lessons in culture directly to a child’s brain, regardless of if that child is three or sixty-three, and parents have to be invested enough to pass along the moral clarifications that they want their kids to glean from those sources, which is almost impossible to do unless they too watch the same content. So, in some form or another, either by direct example or by passive ignorance, adults teach children how to disrespect and how to fear. 

If not actively illustrating disagreement with abusive traits displayed in media, by allowing disrespectful and fearful language to become common place outside of it, you validate those ignorant responses, which divides people who shouldn’t be cut out. It is ignorant. When there is familiarity, there is not baseless fear. If you know how a computer works, it’s just a scrap of moving parts that make life mostly easier, but if you don’t, it is a magic box that has a personal vendetta against you and is out to destroy your life one work day at a time. When you are educated enough to separate the crimes of an individual who is subject to due process of our legal system from the teachings of a faceless religion, Muslims are just your neighbors and coworkers and friends, not terrorists. A black kid wearing a hoodie is probably crossing the street because he has some place to go on the other side of it. That woman on the subway wearing the wedding ring, to the observations of an intelligent person, does not actually want to be catcalled or groped by a stranger on her way to work. Education and consideration solve a lot of the problems in understanding that people seem to use to justify hurting people who are somehow “different” from themselves. Different does not actually mean a threat, but that is hard to convey to many rational adults lately. Ironically the thing people are saying when they say “Give Trump a chance!” – they say he just got here, he hasn’t been around long enough to cause trouble, we need a chance to really get to know him – is the lesson that is not on display with the hate crimes countering that very message. 

Pardon my exasperation, but it’s pretty fuckin’ simple: Don’t hurt people, don’t dismiss people, don’t be a jackass to people because you think you are better than them. Because the fact is that, legally, in this country, in the United States of America, EVERYONE IS EQUAL. That is the heart of the Christian faith that so many people like to use to claim this as a Christian nation. And it is also the very concept that is ignored and thrown in the trash when someone shouts “BUILD THE WALL!” or beats somebody bloody because they hold a different worldview or were born with a different skin color, or when they treat a woman as property to be ordered around. Those are not examples of respecting the equal rights this country was founded on and has literally fought wars to protect.
The problem behavior was started and encouraged and has never been called out by the president-elect with the vehemence and sincerity that he used to provoke it. This has created an environment among the citizens that is unsafe. Anything done in response to that irrational, dangerous behavior is also a valid response to the rhetoric. You cannot call someone out for justifiably reacting to being mistreated by others, you must react to the mistreatment itself, otherwise the problem will continue and never resolve. Doing so creates a nation of victims and there is no progress because everyone lives in fear, of either being harmed or being retaliated against because of harm done by someone else.

So in recent days there have been protests in multiple cities across the country, some small and some with attendees numbering thousands that block traffic on major highways. They started organically, citizens gathering together and marching to be sure their voices are heard so that their interests might be protected. The protests are constitutionally protected and arguably an American tradition at this point as the only way to call out the source of the problem: the leader of the party and soon to be leader of the country ignoring and dismissing a full half of the electorate through his words on the campaign trail, and the promised actions of his cabinet upon inauguration. The promised agenda of the new administration will sharply curtail the civil rights of many disenfranchised citizens and not many people want to see an American citizen lose their American status of equality over blind racism, sexism, or in the name of God and Trump. Like the Tea Party that branched off from the Republican Party during the Bush Administration, like the 99%ers and the Occupy crowds that followed them, protesters this week have been inserting themselves into the political discussion they have otherwise been promised they will be excluded from under the President-elect’s administration.
Mostly, the actual protests have been peaceful over the last twenty years. The problem with large groups of people making their voices heard, however, is that they are vulnerable to the attacks of opportunists. Crimes are committed by thrill seekers or people looking to cause trouble or by conflicts between people with different opinions; a protest is peaceful, but sometimes riots follow protests. Grouping the actions of the rioters in with the actions of the protestors is again perpetuating the problem of ignorance steering action. The rioters are not the protestors. 

The protestors have every constitutional right to make themselves heard. Donald Trump’s responsibility for the social divide in the country is his refusal to admit the part he continues to actively play in it; the behaviors he encourages are the problem, and the people who perpetrate those behaviors are responsible for their own actions even when they claim to do so with Trump’s authority. He has given them the authority, they are exercising what they see as that right, and Trump has done nothing to tell those of that mindset that the behavior is still wrong and unAmerican. He spent actual months encouraging violence at his rallies, his words of dismissal against groups he couldn’t profit from have been repeated over and over by the media echochamber. Thus the agression authorized by his words over the long term has become the new norm in the past week, and many people are aware of it and doing nothing because they are trying to accept it or excuse it. They prefer someone else get actually hurt by Trump’s decisions than the alternative of them having to put up with another Clinton Presidency. 

Meanwhile, people who didn’t vote at all because of the staggering voter apathy that accompanied this campaign’s vitriol have started to hang their head with a kind of civics-class-remorse, sometimes outright guilt or shame. They didn’t want Trump’s version of a Great Again America, but they are aware enough to realize the problems it has accerbated in their every day lives. There’s a visceral push by some of that crowd to justify their non-vote status by pointing out the strengths a Trump administration can bring to the table. Some also ignore the problems their neighbors are having with calm assurances that “everything will be okay if you just give him a chance.” They are still on the fence and worse, just as much victimized by a system that only offered up choices they couldn’t differentiate between. These of course are just my observations in talking to people in my community or across social media and not a formal diagnosis, merely an example for contrast, but I feel pretty safe in asserting that nobody aside from Trump voters are exactly happy with the outcome of the vote.
What it ultimately gets down to is this: People who voted for Trump because they wanted a change are now faced with the challenge of actually changing for the better by standing up against the behaviors that Trump has explicitly encouraged. It’s not enough to thump your chest and declare the democracy safe and sacrosanct; as it turns out, your civic duty now extends beyond the voting booth to hold your candidate accountable for the actions he makes or the things he says, the same way you would hold his opponent accountable. Funny thing about politicians is that they learn quickly how to manipulate the truth and negotiate in their own best interests, and it is up to the people who put them there to be sure that the politician’s interest are their people’s best interests, otherwise the people often lose out to the richest lobbyist. That is quite literally how we got to this stage in our political system, the very reason so many people used their civic right to vote as a form of protest against candidates who were not in all ways ideal.

 Instead, many people are pretending those dangerous behaviors of the last week aren’t there or that they are excusable, and that is not change. That is disrespectful of their own vote for what they say they believe in if they are not willing to change their own behaviors and refuse to accept the inequality that perpetuates the very problems they want to change. If you can’t stand up against the rough consequences of the change you asked for, maybe you weren’t really voting for change to start with. Maybe you should consider, just for yourself, really grapel with your actual reasons for voting as you did. What did you expect would happen? How do you justify the outcome when crimes are already being committed every day in the name of the soon to be President of the United States? Look at what happened on the campaign trail and look at what has happened so far  and consider: how great is this really? 
Nobody else can answer that for you, nobody else needs ever know you considered the question. It’s up to you to use your voice when you want to make sure your values and beliefs in your country are protected. 

Just please remember to do it peacefully.

Dreaming isn’t good enough.

Dreaming isn’t good enough. You have to have a plan that is actionable and works. You have to rely on a foundation in reality that will allow you to recognize how the world actually works, how to make ideas and reality match up. You have to believe in the validity and possibility in your fellow human beings, regardless of color, gender, religion, or any conceived label or category you can put them in. You have to believe in free bridges between places, safe traffic and necessary services to maintain a healthy population.

Walls do not show faith or capability or intelligence or understanding. The ideas need to back up the dreams.

So, as the saying goes, I didn’t vote for him, but that’s the President, and I hope for the sake of my country that he does a good job.

Well. There it is.

Thanks to unhealthy, toxic Real Life environments for me the past year almost exactly, my “muses” have been unattainable. Writer’s Block seems like a very tame way to describe the impact of finding myself unable to consciously write. I have been able to help my friends with their ideas for stories and for characters, but implementing them on my own behalf has been nearly impossible. This is despite taking an interest and delight in the art and chaos that is a D&D marathon, many of them. 

What I found is that being physically silenced by the people around you can lead to a muzzling and depression of the written voice, specifically in the confidence required to believe that maybe anybody out there has any interest in what you may have to offer. 

And now tonight, I’m watching the results unfold to show that someone outspokenly backed by the Ku Klux Klan is winning the US Presidential election. I’m watching the country go to someone who has actively encouraged their blind followers to do all they can to silence the media and to trample their fellow citizens’ First Amendment Rights. The most worrisome factor is that people made this choice while claiming to want change, and yet hypocritically they kept the politicians in the House and Senate who have been around the longest and making the same decisions that people claim to disapprove of. There’s a disconnect between what people say they want, how to obtain it, and the way the world actually works. I have never heard so many seemingly rational adults admit to me that they have no idea how civics works but they know they don’t like how their country works.

People don’t know what they want, but they don’t want to hear from those voices that do know things. 

I’m not sure exactly how to reach those people, and I’m not sure how to break through the silence that hit me last year, but I am seeing tonight that I definitely need to try. There are stories that need told in order to help people understand their fellow human perspectives, to maybe step outside of their own worldview and really feel the impact that a single individual can have on those around them. 

Hatred is an intense emotion, rooted in fear, which is ironically itself rooted in their opposite: Love. You fear for things you love, and you hate things that cause you fear. Somehow a lot of people don’t seem to have made that connection yet, and they haven’t learned to fight their fear with information to wipe it out.

 That is the pervue of the writers and storytellers of the world, to help people process those life lessons. 

This is why I’m trying to find my voice again and why I hope more people start speaking up with personal perspectives and expand the definition of human experience. It is a colorful, creative, diverse, beautiful community and I have too much faith in it to write its obituary so soon.

I’ve given this a lot of thought

And I feel I need to say something out loud, in writing, where it cannot be ignored or overlooked and where people cannot tell me it doesn’t exist. And the fact that I feel the need to protect my reality in that way is a symptom of the problem I wish to discuss.

I need to make myself clear about something. I hold certain expectations of the world I participate in, so let me share them via examples of personal experience.

Here’s a generic summary of societal problems that should not be tolerated behaviors and yet for some reason I have learned very much are accepted. 

—–

Something that is not okay: a man telling a woman that if she doesn’t sleep with him, he will do something that he knows will hurt her.

Something that is not okay: a man putting a woman in a position where if she doesn’t sleep with him, he will do something that hurts her friends or family.

Something that is not okay: a man telling a woman that because she won’t sleep with him, all other efforts she makes at showing friendship are invalid.

Something that is not okay: a man trying to isolate a woman or keep her friends from her because she insists she is his friend and not interested in dating him. This includes manipulative behaviors, such as getting angry at her for holding a different opinion than him, using other people’s opinions against her as though she said them, telling her friends she did or said things that didn’t happen or taking things that did happen out of context and spinning them so that she looks like an untrustworthy villain. Because she won’t sleep with him.

Something that is not okay: a man pretending to be a woman’s friend, showing real interest in her, and then getting mad at her for believing him and acting as though he is actually her friend.

Something that is not okay: when a women goes to a man in an effort to be treated fairly and not pushed away from her friends because she wants friends and not lovers, and the man participates in the conversation and agrees with her, and then pretends the conversation never happened. Or worse, is mad at her for her having attempted to communicate in the first place.

Something that is not okay: a man physically locking a woman in his house in order to tell her that he is the best thing for her and her friends aren’t really her friends. Because he wants to sleep with her and she doesn’t return that.

Something that is not okay: making a woman feel bad for relying on her friends when she says these things have happened to her and that she wants help figuring out how to stop it.

Something that is not okay: accusing a woman of being the source of “drama” for not wanting to accept being treated as a sexualized object by people she thought were friends. That is a passive effort to belittle and invalidate and silence the impact of her experiences.

Something that is not okay: a woman being trapped in a cycle where these things happen, involving different people, repeatedly, over the course of a single year, with no one putting a stop to it.

Note: Genders are specified here for illustration purposes, but it is the behavior that is the problem and not the gender. These are behaviors that women inflict on men, women inflict these on other women, and men also inflict these behaviors on other men. And it is not okay. 

But it has become so normalized that it exists silently in friend groups and is never addressed, the responsible parties are not held to their actions, they don’t admit to them, and they go on to repeat these behaviors as though it is an acceptable personality trait. 

In my belief, it is not an acceptable personality trait. It is something I have and will continue to point out and act against when I see it happen to others or when it happens to me. I have learned that these cause damage to people and to friendships. 

Communication is important, in friendships or in romantic relationships. When someone communicates intentions or grievances, please listen to them. RESPECT your fellow human, regardless of relationship to them. Not just because you are a “good person,” but because it is vital to community, to the way the human world works; we need functional human beings to function a society and I would argue that disrespect is the key element to all breakdowns in community. Or do it out of simple selfishness: if you are respectful of others then they have no cause to be disrespectful to you and your every interaction with them goes more smoothly and quickly. Save yourself the stress, if nothing else.

Respect others. Call out disrespect. Don’t tolerate it or encourage it. Listen to people when they try to express themselves and be clear on your own messages. If you don’t like someone, if you can’t respect them, then for godssakes be frank about it and don’t waste anyone’s time. Move on with your life and let them move on with theirs. But don’t manipulate, abuse, gaslight, or otherwise harm each other. People are too important to each other to damage ourselves with these kinds of hurtful habits.

In Case You Noticed…

The site is going through a bit of a revamp. I just moved over 300 posts from tumblr and none of it transferred as expected. So! It’s going to be a slow process. I’m still trying to figure out how best to show multiple sources of content on wordpress and make it clear when things are finds from other places versus original content.
I am working on it!!
Thanks for your patience as I sort this out.

~management 😉

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