Sunday, December 31, 2017

TV Shows and Movies I Watched in 2017

As I said in my last post, fiction plays a huge part in my life.  To honor the love I have for TV shows and movies, I've decided to make a list of what I watched.  I'm going to try and divide it by geography, because I feel that engaging in fiction is a fantastic (and relatively cheap) way to travel.

Someone reading this might be saying, Well what about books?  

I've been a bookworm all my life, but sadly this year I hit a bit of a...what's the word?  Lag? Bad luck?  I think I read much less than I usually do.  Now things are better because I'm taking the safe route and rereading something I already love (The Dark Tower series and related books).  With that I've spent time in NYC, Arizona, Las Vegas, Maine, California, other places around the USA, the Territories, and whatever world the Gunslinger is from. Shit. I don't know. 

I also spent some time in Japan and another alternate universe via Haruki Murakami. 

I read maybe a few other books. I don't think they left much of an impression on me.

Now onto the TV shows and movies...mostly TV shows, because I'm not a huge movie fan anymore. I don't often watch them.  

Note: For TV shows, I watch one season at a time.  If I remember what seasons I watched this year, I'll mark it down. 

Second Note: Shows I loved are colored blue. Shows I didn't like are colored red. 


AUSTRALIA

Suicide Theory
Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (Season 1) 
The Kettering Incident
Tracks 
H20-Just Add Water (season 1) 
Redfern Now
Ravenous 
Holding the Man 
Nature's Grave
The Eye of the Storm 
Better Man 
Packed to the Rafters (Season 5) 
Offspring (Season 6) 
City Homicide (Season 3 and am now watching season 4) 
All Saints (Season 2 and 3) 
Rake (Season 3) 
Deep Water 


USA

Speechless (Season 1 and part of season 2)
Goliath
Sneaky Pete 
The Good Place (season 1 and part of season 2)
Bloodline (Season 2) 
Bates Motel (season 4?)
The Mindy Project 
House (Season 4, and slowly making my way through season 5) 
This is Us (Season 1 and part of season 2)
Wet Hot American Summer 
Hannibal Yes. I loved the first season and part of the second season. Then.....
Gravity Falls
Roots 
American Crime Story 
Modern Family 
The Arrival 
Big Little Lies 
Sirens 
Fargo 
12 Monkeys 
Devious Maids 
Grey's Anatomy (Season 1) 
My So-Called Life
Zoo We didn't mind it at first.
Spiderman-Homecoming
Master of None
Sense 8 (Season 1 and 2) (putting it here, though, it takes place in many countries) 
The Office (Seasons 1, 2, 3, and 4) 
John Dies at the End
Walking Dead
Dead Like Me 
Lost (Season 1) (Sometimes Merica) By the way, got pulled into an Instagram drama that made me lose a lot of love for the show. Kind of a sad bit of my 2017. 
Midnight Texas
The Originals 
Stranger Things 2 The first season was my La La Land, but I really loved the second season. 
Will and Grace  
The Good Doctor 
The Exorcist (season 2)
Underground (Season 1) 
Containment 



UK

The Vicar of Dibley (Season 1)  
Criminal Justice (Season 2)
Coronation Street
Miranda (Season 1) 
The Syndicate (Season 2) 
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 
Fresh Meat 
Pramface 
The IT Crowd 
Outnumbered 
Stella (Season 3?)
The Thick of It
Dead Set 
Black Mirror-In the midst of watching that now. 

CANADA

Little Mosque (Season 2) 
Being Erica (Season 1) 
Mommy
Degrassi Next Class 
Heartland (Season 1, and watching season 2 now) 

JAPAN

Naruto (season 1)
Tokyo Ghoul (Season 1) 
Blue Exorcist (Season 1) I'm realizing that Anime and I are not a good match.


NOT OUR WORLD

Game of Thrones (Season 7)
The Shannara Chronicles 

ISRAEL

Srugim (Season 1 and 2)

MEXICO

Fear the Walking Dead (Season 2) 
Coco 

BELGIUM

Mr. Nobody (multiple locations, really) 


FRANCE

Paris J'Taime 

GERMANY

Look Who's Back
Dark 

ROMANIA

Beyond the Hills 


Yet another note: It was easy to mark things red, but not so easy to mark things blue.  There's a lot of things I'm unsure about.  For example, every Canadian show would be maybe blue, but probably less blue  than my blues from other countries. And I didn't want to mark EVERYTHING blue in Canada. So I marked down nothing blue.  I'm not sure if that makes any sense.  

Happy New Year!!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Cathartic Behaviors for the Maligned Individual

Warning: Spoilers for Black Mirror: USS Callister.




When we started watching this seasons' first episode of Black Mirror, I had a depressing pit of sympathy in my stomach.  I got the immediate sense that it was going to be about lonely, pathetic people who have no happiness outside their online fantasy games.  It's actually very odd that I felt this way, because earlier that day I had deep thoughts about how fiction (via reading and TV) isn't just a past-time for me; it's one of my main sources of happiness and purpose in life.   But anyway....

Robert Daley (Jesse Plemons) is a genius game progammer.  He spends his free time in a created world that's a recreation of a Star-Trek-like old TV show.  In the game, he's the hero—the main star.  In his real life work place, he's disliked and unappreciated. 

We soon learn that the characters in Robert's game are based on the people he knows in real life.  He has found a way to take people who give him grief and turn them into characters who make him feel good about himself.

I liked Robert.  He's my kind of person—geeky, smart, a fanboy, etc.  I felt sad that people didn't appreciate him.  I could relate to his loneliness. I could relate to his resentment. I could relate to his anger.

By the end of the show, I hated Robert and wanted him to die a horrible death. I loved that the show could play with my emotions like that, though it also made me feel uncomfortable.  I always feel a bit shitty when I relate to the character who turns out to be the villain.  

The thing is....

It turns out the characters in Robert's game are not like the Sims we model after our friends and family.  They're not just fictional copies. They're what the show calls digital clones.  It's not the first time Black Mirror has used such a concept, so I was quickly able to understand what was happening once the concept was mentioned.  

In some Black Mirror universes, digital clones are genetic copies of people that are uploaded into the digital world.  They retain the memories of the original person AND they believe they are the real person.  Doctor Who had some similar concepts in some of their episodes.  There's the idea that the clone has a hard time accepting that they're the copy.  They feel as real as the original person does.  

It turns out that the people in Robert's game are conscious beings who are imprisoned and cruelly abused on a daily basis. Though their originals are still out thriving in the real world, this doesn't stop the clones from feeling trapped and miserable. But they have given up on finding a way out.

A new member of the USS Callister comes and changes that.

 When Nanette Cole (Cristin Milioti) first comes to the gaming company's office, she actually likes and appreciates Robert at first. She's been a fan of his work and gushes a bit with him. This is a nice change for Robert.  But then Shania, a coworker (Michaela Coel) warns Nanette about Robert's creepiness.  She suggests that Nanette keep her distance from Robert.  Nanette immediately takes the advice. The next time she speaks to Robert, there's a coldness in her voice.

Robert later steals her DNA, via a coffee cup, and Nanette ends up in the game.

Nanette ends up being the hero of it all. I won't go into how they all fight back, because I want to get on with what I actually wanted to talk about. 

After I watched the show, I looked at some user reviews on IMDb. Some of them disturbed me a bit.  

Some of the reviewers argue that Robert isn't really a bad person.  One reviewer says...the copies are, in fact, not real people. By using them to work out his anger and frustrations, isn't he really allowing himself to be a healthier emotional person in the real world?  In the end, he is played as the villain and our digital heroes, the victims, but though he may seem like the real creep, his actions were truly reactions to the way the very real people in his workplace were cruel to him...so who's the bad guy?  

The idea that it's okay to abuse people who aren't "real humans" greatly disturbs me.  I think the show made it very clear that these digital clones were sentient beings. They felt pain. They felt discomfort. They felt sadness. They had FEELINGS. 

At this point, we have not created sentient AI or anything similar.

Though it makes me feel guilty when I demand Alexa do me a favor and I don't say please or thank you, I'm probably not hurting her feelings. As far as we know, she doesn't have feelings.  Though I felt awful trying to get rid of two of my Sims via starvation, it's very unlikely that I was actually causing them pain.  Though I felt emotional pain when I couldn't save one of my pets in Minecraft, the only one feeling pain was probably me.

But if we get to the point of having sentient copies of human beings, we all need to give them the same amount of respect we give others.  

I do agree with the reviewer that acting out anger and frustrations in games might be a way to maintain a relatively healthy emotional life outside our games.  Some people believe anger and aggression are bad things that should simply be buried.  I'm not one of those people.  I believe in punching bags and violent video games. I think they can be very therapeutic.  But it's not okay to act out these feelings with humans, animals, or anything that can feel pain and emotions.  

As I mentioned above, we don't have sentient artificial humans yet. But how many times throughout history have humans been abused and killed for the simple reason that their abusers saw them as less than humans?  

I also wonder if some people are using real life people they encounter online as cathartic therapy.

Now I think most of us have gotten into some squabbles here and there.  I try to remember to be kind like Alyssa Milano and Sarah Silverman, but sometimes my bitchy side gets the best of me.  And there are times where I don't feel my wrath is undeserved.

What I'm talking about, though, is excessive cruelty that's used as some kind of cathartic activity.  Let's say there's a doctor. She's kind to her patients. She's kind to her husband. She's kind to her children.  She's kind to her neighbors. She's just very nice and easygoing...at least on the surface. Deep inside, she has some anger and aggression issues. She deals with those feelings by trolling strangers online and saying horrible things to them.  By doing this, she's able to be very emotionally stable offline.  This is great for people in her life, but it causes great pain for the people online that face her abuse.  

Does this woman not have a heart when it comes to certain people, or has she convinced herself (at least subconsciously) that the online people aren't real?

How about Robert?  Had he convinced himself that the digital clones were not real humans and that's how he was able to abuse them?   Or did he just, in general, have a cold and evil heart?

OR is having a cold and evil heart simply a matter of being able to dehumanize our victims?  

Thursday, December 28, 2017

My Emotions Belong to Me and Not Anyone Else

One of the biggest lessons I'm going to TRY and to push on myself for 2018 is to not let other people dictate how I feel. 

I'm not really expressing that as well as I'd like.

People can't control my feelings with their words. They can try, and they often do try.  But usually their intent fails. 

When I was sad and someone told me to, snap out of it, I didn't suddenly cheer up.

When someone told me to roll with the punches, it didn't make me feel or act more easygoing.

When someone tried to shut me up when I was moaning and crying from horrible menstrual pain, their words didn't stop the pain.

When someone pestered me with the question of how I'm going to get passed the things that have hurt me in the past, I didn't forgive, forget, and happily move on.  I'm still angry about things from my past.

When someone tells me to smile, it doesn't make me happy and cheerful. 

When someone plays one-upmanship when I talk about my problems, it doesn't make me feel I'm luckier. Nor does it make me feel sympathetic to the person playing the game. 

Some people try so hard to control the feelings of others.

That doesn't hurt.

It's not cold.

It's not too spicy.

You should be grateful!

You should feel lucky!

It's not scary!

Aren't you excited?

Don't worry.

Don't dwell on the past.

Think positive thoughts.

How often do we improve people's situations and moods by saying these things?

I guess with certain people it might work.  I can't speak for everyone.  I think it very rarely (probably never) works for me.  It almost always makes me feel worse. 

So my goal in all this isn't to stop feeling what people want me to feel, because that was never the case.

What I do want is to stop allowing other people to make me feel guilty and conflicted about my feelings.

I want to have 100% freedom to feel what I'm feeling and not feel like shit about feeling that way.   I mean, of course, if I'm feeling like shit, I'm going to feel like shit.  But I don't want to feel like shit for feeling like shit.  I don't want to double or triple the shit. 

If I'm depressed, so be it.  Even if it's over something seemingly trivial.

If I'm happy about something superficial, so be it.

If I'm feeling tired and lazy, so be it.

If I'm worried, so be it.

If I'm annoyed, so be it.

If I'm angry, so be it.

If I'm amused about something silly, so be it.

If I'm wishing for the (near) impossible, so be it.

Now this is not to say that I have a right to walk around the world acting grumpy all the time, and everyone should accept this with open loving arms.  Some people will hate me for saying this, but....

I think if you have an excessive amount of negative emotions, it might be best to hide some of it.

Shit. I'm kind of hating myself for saying that. 

But really...if 95% of what comes out of your mouth is whining and complaining, I can't blame people for wanting to run the other way or for wanting to bombard you with an annoying pep talk.

My grief isn't with people who have a low tolerance for overly excessive amounts of negativity.   

My grief is with people who have a low tolerance for mild and moderate amounts of negativity.

I have an extra amount of grief for the people who have low tolerance for mild and moderate amounts of negativity when it comes from other people, but are totally okay when it comes from themselves. 

All in all, I want to stop intolerant people from getting inside my head.  I want to stop internalizing their pressure on me to feel what they want me to feel.

I want to be strong.

I want to LET IT GO...not my anger, sadness, resentment, worry, or fears.  I want to let go of the pressure to not have these feelings and/or the pressure to not express them. 


Reading The Guardian this Morning

I get emails from The Guardian.  Each day I glance through and read the articles and editorials that interest me.

This morning I started with this article.  It's about Trump's effect on foreign policy. The general idea I got is we're in a lot of shit, and there's a fair chance that there's going to be a nuclear war in the next coming years.  But if that doesn't happen, we can count on climate change killing a lot of us. 

Then I read this article which is kind of a feel-good story about technology advancements.  It includes artificial kidneys so people don't have to endure dialysis or wait for transplants; e-readers for blind people; and flying wind turbines that can provide power for up to 300 homes.

Reading the article made me have a glimmer of hope, but then the hope quickly faded away. How can we enjoy these advance if we're dead?

Well, I guess the people who survive the nuclear attacks, giant hurricanes, pandemics, etc. might get to enjoy the excitements and promises of the future.

Every generation has probably dealt with this—balancing the fear of what evil, racist, violent, greedy, ignorant, and narcissistic people will do to us with the hope of what brilliant and innovative people will gift to us. 



Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Death on Containment

This week I've been watching the TV show Containment.  Claudia Black is one of the stars, which is kind of funny, because before that I watched The Originals, and that also has Claudia Black.  I feel like I'm having a Claudia Black themed holiday season.  

I really like Claudia Black. I hope to watch her in more things someday.  Though she seems to be mostly in video games lately.

Anyway....

That's not really the point of this post. 

I should get on with it. Right?

So last night I saw a really sad death on the show.  It shook me up a bit.  I think the last time I was so effected by a TV death was when I saw the tragedy on Love My Way.  That was horribly sad.

I think the thing with Aussie TV deaths, though is it's the shock that hurts the most.  The shows scare me because it's usually someone happily going about their life and then suddenly they're hit by a car.  Or they're in their car and crash down a cliff simply because they saw a mysterious white horse.  

I'm already really scared of cars, and Australia has a lovely way of making my fear even worse.  

The death on Containment wasn't really shocking, because the show is about a deadly virus spreading through Atlanta.  It would be kind of silly to expect people not to die.  

Sometimes a death can be sad because we don't like the idea of having to watch future seasons of a show without a character.  There's a sense of future emptiness.  But Containment wasn't renewed for a second season, so I'll have only two episodes without the character.

I'm sitting here trying to explain why Containment was sad, and all I'm doing is explaining how it's not like other TV deaths that have saddened me. 

I want to explain why it was extra sad for me, but I don't think I can.

Maybe I'll just describe some of my feelings.

First of all, I had a lot of denial while it was happening.  I thought the character would end up being cured. I thought there'd be a miracle. Even when things were looking VERY bleak, I still clung to hope.  I think these denial feelings happen when someone is not handling a death so well.  

Then late at night, I would be having my mind on something else. I'd suddenly remember this character had died, and I'd have that awful pit in my stomach.  In the past, I've had those kinds of feelings about real life deaths or other bad events.  Actually, I think the last time I had it, about a real life thing, was when Trump was first elected.  

Wait...

I just thought of another difference between the Aussie TV deaths I've seen and the Containment one.

I think the Aussie shows do evoke feelings of sadness and not just fearful shock.

I think the difference, though, between the sadness there and the sadness with Containment is this:  With Aussie deaths, the sadness usually happens in the aftermath.  It's sad to see the mourners crying and falling apart.

With Containment, I haven't even seen much of the aftermath yet.  I've just seen the dying and death scenes.  I'm sure the mourning scenes will be very sad as well.

I think the difference is mostly due to the cause of death.

It goes into the whole what's worse—a surprise instant tragic death or a long drawn out dying drama?  In which way would we prefer to lose the ones we love, and how would we prefer for people to have to lose us?

I usually feel, that though less painful, the surprise deaths are worse.  There are no goodbyes and then you have to deal with the fact that your last words were something like, hey don't forget to pick up more toilet paper.  Or worse.  

On the other hand, the goodbyes on Containment were REALLY sad. 

I guess all in all, death isn't easy.  


Australian Birds and I Can't Stay

I dreamed about Australia last night.

I'm walking in Australia and see Australian birds. I'm somewhat thrilled to see Australian birds and also kind of sad.  I think about how this can't last. I won't be able to stay.  I consider that this is the reason why my passion for Australia has died down—the knowledge that I'll always have to leave. I can't stay.

Later I talk to people. I tell them I'd like to die in Australia. They say something like they hope that doesn't happen.  They seem to mean they hope I don't die. I tell them that I'll have to die sometime. Otherwise I'm a vampire or something like that. 

Feeling Ugly and Naked

I often love having a blog.

I often love my blog...sometimes with too much self love.  I read my posts and think I'm so damn funny, deep, and brilliant.

Then there are other times.

There are the times where I feel like I'm this very ugly, naked person standing in the middle of a crowd with everyone looking upon me with disgust. 

This happened to me last night and I went into a distressed mental state.  I kept questioning whether I should make my blog private.  Should I hide from the world?

Yes?

No?

I went back and forth.

I tried to find signs from the universe by reading old blog posts, looking at blog stats, consulting online Tarot cards, etc.

I had a strong desire to disappear.

But in the end, I decided to keep my blog.  It wasn't a decision that ended with great relief.  It was one that ended with sadness, tiredness, and doubts. 

Then after all that, someone texted me and told me they had read my blog, AND not only that, they read some my most embarrassing recent post.  This person hardly ever reads my blog, or at least they don't mention that they so. So I'm not sure what the universe was trying to tell me with that little event.

Anyway...I'm wondering if it's common or rare for people to have feelings like this.  Do other bloggers have these moments?  How about people who post a lot about their lives on social media?  Or famous people who are very public about their lives?

Well it might be common.  It might not be.  But one thing I AM pretty sure about:  It doesn't feel good.  

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Pressure to Boycott Israel

Though I'm angry with Israel right now because of their romance with Trump, I don't like seeing artists or other entities pressured to boycott Israel.  I also don't like seeing people giving into the pressure.

Israel doesn't treat Palestinians as well as they should, though the same could be said vice-versa.  Both groups need to treat each other better.

But what is so special about Israel?

If we're going to pressure a rock star not to have a concert in Israel, shouldn't we also pressure them not to have a concert in the United States?  Do they want to support a country where police kill unarmed black men and suffer no significant consequences?  Do they want to support a country whose president is a gaslighter accused multiple times of sexual assault? Do they want to support a country that's enacting policies that are antagonistic and harmful towards Muslims, Mexicans, women, etc?

And how about Australia?  Is there pressure to boycott that country for their abusive treatment of asylum seekers or the mistreatment of Aboriginal Australians?

Maybe there are requests for boycotts, and I don't see it because I'm looking in the wrong place.  Or maybe the voices aren't as loud, persistent, and persuasive as the ones demanding a boycott of Israel.

I've been angry with Israel the past few days, but the thing I have to keep reminding myself is, it's the GOVERNMENT not the people in general. 

Well, yeah. Sometimes there are people in the general population who are shitty.  It happens in all countries.  So if boycotting makes us feel we're doing something helpful, I suggest targeting the individuals and not an entire country.  But if one feels the need to boycott Israel, they should also boycott many other countries...probably including the one they live in.  

Friday, December 22, 2017

Family Drama

I just finished watching season 2 of The Originals.

I loved Klaus Mikaelson's (Joseph Morgan) speech at the end.

In the last lines of it, he says, And the wolf king stood alone. Happy ever after it was not. But sometimes, even the worst endings are not endings at all. And you should know, my littlest wolf, that even when all seems burnt to ash, in our story, there is always another chapter.

That reminds me a lot of my family.

But though our level of drama probably matches the Mikaelson's, we thankfully don't come close to having their level of blood and violence.  This is probably because we're human rather than witches, werewolves or vampires.  

Who's Gonna Get Possessed?

WARNING: Major Exorcist 1 and Season 2 spoilers below!!!!








A few days ago I mentioned that I might want to write a NOT spoiler-free Exorcist post, but I didn't know if I'd soon be over the show.

Well, I'm not over the show yet.  In fact, yesterday I ended up watching a bunch of clips from it.

I'm still in love with the show.

I still want to talk about it.

When we started watching this season, Tim and I kept trying to guess who'd be the main demonic-possession victim this season.  I think this whole guessing thing is a feature of the show.

It started last season, because there was a bit of a twist.  They lead you to believe it's Kat, the older daughter (Brianne Howey) because that's what her mother (Geena Davis) believes when she seeks priestly assistance.  Kat's been a bit moody.  Her younger sister Cassie (Hannah Kasulka) in contrast is a cheerful, friendly girl. 

It ends up that it's Cassie who has gained a newfound talent in spider-walking.

Tim and I expected a similar surprise this season.

The impressive thing is, even with knowing there'd be a surprise, we were still surprised. 

There are six kids in season two.  Each of them is endearing in some ways, and each had some worrisome moments/aspects.

Tim guessed that the youngest child Grace (Amelie Eve) would become the victim.  Grace is sweet, shy, agoraphobic, and very needy.  It would be beautifully tragic for her to become a victim.  I argued against it, though...only for practical purposes.  I thought it would be too much of a pain to put such a young child through all the grueling demonic make-up and special effects.

My main vote went to Verity (Brianna Hildebrand).  Like all the kids, she has some moments where her behavior is somewhat frightening.  So I thought she might be becoming demonized.  But mostly I voted for her, because out of all the kids, her name was highest in the credits.  I figured that meant, she'd be extra important to the story.

At one point, I think Tim started to believe Harper (Beatrice Kitsos) would be the victim.  I didn't want that to happen. I thought it would be overly far-fetched.  Poor Harper already is a victim of a faked demonic possession, because her mother does a Munchausen-by-proxy demon-style.  The poor kid goes from a faked demon situation in her original home to a real one in her foster home.  I might have to do another whole separate post about her...someday.  But no. Harper isn't the one who gets  possessed.

It ended up being NOT one of the kids.  It's Andy, the foster dad (John Cho). He's the one who gets demonized.

I'm not sure why we assumed it would be one of the kids and not him. 

That was one of the big twists of the show, and it was heavily tied into the other twist.  Sweet little Grace isn't the victim of the demon.  She IS the demon.  In Sixth Sense style, we learn that she IS invisible to everyone but Andy.

The pathetic thing is, Tim and I failed to grasp this piece of information.  We had to be hit over the head with it.

Tim sort of has an excuse. I think he was busy reading on his phone when we watched the ending of "One For Sorrow".  So he was probably giving the show only his partial attention. 

The show had my FULL attention, and I still missed the reveal.

What happens is Andy climbs up the stairs to the attic and visits Grace in her cute little girly bedroom.

Then Verity climbs the same stairs later, enters the same room, and sees a disgusting, rundown, abandoned art room with rotting food on the floor.  For some reason, I didn't realize it was the same room.

I'm actually sitting here confused about Tim, though.  I think maybe he did say he knew it was the same room.  Did he know it was the same room, but still didn't pick up on the reveal?  Was he reading something super interesting on his phone, and was too distracted to realize something huge was being revealed.  Or did he see the reveal, assumed I saw it, and just didn't want to say anything the next day,...out of politeness? 

In the beginning of the  next episode, "There But For the Grace of God, Go I", we see Andy's realization that Grace isn't a real foster child—that she's something only he can see.  I remarked to Tim that it was quite unique to have a twist like that in the beginning of the episode rather than the end.  It wasn't until we finished watching the episode, and I looked on IMDb, that I saw I (we?) had missed something the night before.  I had wanted to see reviewers talking about the twist, and no one did.  Then I happened to look at reviews of the past episode, and I saw people talking about the attic room surprise there. 

You know...when I was at the neurologist, he asked me if I've been confused. Maybe I should have mentioned that Exorcist episode.  And now I'm also confused about Tim and his thoughts about the episode.

Songs

Every so often I hear a song on a TV show, and I have to then find it and listen to it over and over.

A few days ago, that happened to me with the show Dark.

The song is called "Familiar", and it's by Agnes Obel.  So far, it's been the thing about Dark that I like the most.





Yesterday I remembered another past song obsession: "One Night the Moon". This wasn't from a TV show I watched, but it's from a TV miniseries that I learned about on the Australian Screen site.

I looked for the song on YouTube and found that someone uploaded a lovely cover of it.




It's such a lovely song.  I think it deserves to be more famous.

And....

In other song news.  I love one that I heard on The Originals: "Smile" by Mikky Ekko.



I love the lyrics. Smile. The worse is yet to come. We'll be lucky if we ever see the sun.

It's such great opposition to other bullshit demands to smile. 

It's not so bad.

It will get better.

You look so much prettier when you smile.

I think it's more important to smile DESPITE all the shit in the world, because the shit might get even worse.  Appreciate what you have, even if it's very little. Tomorrow you might have even less.

At Thanksgiving, there was mention of 2017 being a bad year.  My dad warned us against being too negative towards the year, because 2018 might be worse.  I probably don't often agree with my dad, but with this I agreed quite strongly.

I get annoyed when people seem eager for a year to end. It seems so arrogant to me. 

Why do they expect the next year to be better? 

Also, just because you had a bad year?  Some people might have had a really great year.  They might have fallen in love. They might have had a baby.  They might have landed their dream job.  They might have accomplished something that makes them really proud. 

I think the more reasonable thing to say would be something like, this year has been awful for me.  I'm hoping next year treats me better.

Just beware of the possibility that it might treat you ten times worse.  So...in the meantime grab any bit of happiness you can, even if it's for tiny things.  

America's Strongest Allies

A few weeks ago, Jack brought up the conversation of country allies. What were the strongest ones for the U.S.  The UK? Australia?  Then I decided, that in this current Trump environment, it's the countries that stand up against Trump.  

It's not countries that have pretty much always hated the United States. Nor is it countries or people that hate Americans in general.  It's the countries that sit there and give the general message of, the US was never as great as some Americans delusionally believe, but it was fairly decent.  Unfortunately, now that's changed since that crazy guy has become president. We're not going to support him...for the sake of OUR country, for the sake of decent Americans, and for the sake of the rest of the world.

This is why the countries I'm loving most right now are the ones who voted yes in the resolution against Trump in the recent UN vote.  

Technically it wasn't a vote against Trump, but it would have been really cool if it was.

What it really was is a vote against Trump's decision to label Jerusalem as Israel's capital instead of Tel Aviv.

I don't really have a problem with Trump wanting to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.  If Israel is fine with this, does it matter where an embassy is?  I guess it's traditional for embassies to be in the country's capital?

But declaring that Jerusalem is the capital.  Even if Israel wants this, it's....

It's too...

Well, as other people have said. It's like kicking a hornet's nest.  

It's like Trump is saying he doesn't care about how Palestinians feel. He doesn't care about peace in Israel.  And I think that's also kind of a roundabout way of saying he doesn't really give a shit about Jews and/or Israeli's.  

Trump just wants to make a dramatic gesture, and I think it's one whose purpose is more about pleasing evangelical Christians than it is about making things better for Jews.  

As for the ally thing, I can't completely blame countries for not standing up against Trump.  It's hard to do so when I hear things like Nikki Haley's disgusting, bully speech to the UN.  She reminded countries that the US donates a lot of financial aid, and that the US will remember who voted against them.  

It's very sad if you have hold money over someone's head in order to get them to behave the way that you want.  

Of course if a country is committing genocide or something as bad as that, it might not be so evil to use money to bully them.  But to punish countries for disagreeing about the location of Israel's capital?

No. That's not at all okay.  It is, though, what I'd expect from an administration led by a narcissistic man who has dementia.

In her speech, Haley repeatedly used the phrase, We will remember.  She tried to act as if she was speaking for all Americans.  Like we all want Israel's capital in Jerusalem.  We all don't give a shit about Palestinians. We all love Trump.  We all will hold a nasty grudge against countries who didn't support us in the vote.

It's bullshit.

But she's right.

I WILL remember.

I will remember that there are countries brave enough to stand up against the horrific Trump administration.  

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Strange Sexual-Related Incidents of My Childhood and Teen Years

If you couldn't tell already, all that stuff in the news, has got me thinking about stuff lately.

One of the things on my mind is all the strange sexual stuff that happened to me as a child and teen.  I don't think any of it was was really traumatic or damaging.  Although I have been asked twice if I've been sexually abused (once by a medical professional) because of certain behaviors I have. So I've sometimes wondered if I'm one of those who was abused too early to consciously remember.  But I'm doubting it. There are probably other explanations...like maybe past life trauma?  Past life alien abduction? 

Anyway, I'm just going to list the things that happened.  This is probably mostly for myself.  I doubt anyone cares all that much.  The future me might care someday, though.  I like keeping records.

1. According to my mom, when I was very young (below age 5) I insisted that our neighbor show me her breasts.  For some reason, I associate Jaws with this story.  Strange.  I think maybe we were playing a Jaws game?  Did my mom tell me that?  Or did I have some sort of subconscious memory of the event?  Maybe I didn't remember the breast part consciously, but I remember enough to know we were playing a Jaws game.  I picture it being a game like Ants in the Pants.  

Here. I found a picture of the game.  It does exist.  Maybe my mom DID remember and mentioned that we were playing the game when I had a sudden need to see my neighbor's breast.

Did our neighbor give into my demands?  I doubt it.  

2. When I was a teen or young adult, we listened to an audio cassette of my sisters and I when we were children.  I think we were talking to my grandfather and/or father.  At one point, one of the male adults asked me why I was holding myself.  I ended up saying something like, Because I like it. Or I like how it feels. I probably felt embarrassed when I heard that, but I hope a part of me feels the way I feel about it today.  I like that there was a time in my life that I felt uninhibited, innocent, and honest about my sexuality.  

3. When I was in the lower elementary years, my friend decided we should kiss each other.  I vaguely remember going through with it, but I'm not 100% sure if we did.  I've gone through life thinking/saying that I didn't have my first kiss until I was 18.  If that early one happened, I never counted it. I think it was because my friend was a girl, and I didn't count homosexual kisses?

Well, I'm not sure I even knew what homosexuality was back then.

4. I remember my parents telling me that my third grade teacher complimented me on my school photo by saying I had a sexy smile.  I think that, in these days, many parents would immediately report the teacher and he'd be a teacher no longer.  

This teacher was quite beloved.  I think he was popular at the school.  My family liked him. I liked him.

I don't remember being at all offended by the compliment. From what I remember, I LIKED hearing that.  I also don't think my parents were at all offended.

I think things were a bit different in the 1980's.  

5. In my older elementary school years, a friend pressured me to show her me my breasts.  And I think she touched them.  My sister might have watched the whole thing.  As far as I know, there was no Jaws game in the scene.

 It was all quite innocent, in my opinion.  I don't think I felt violated.  At most, I might have felt a bit shy and embarrassed.  

I've read stuff lately that makes me wonder if some people would see it as some kind of sexual assault.  Was it not consensual enough?  I don't think I said no, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't showing enthusiastic excitement about the whole thing. 

Was it okay, because it happened with two young girls who were (probably) not lesbians?  What if it had been a friend's brother who pressured me to show my breasts?  Would it have been wrong then? How about if my friend turned out to be a lesbian?

6. We went to family camp.  My older sister had a camp boyfriend.  I was about nine or ten years old.  The boyfriend gave me quite a bit of attention.  I loved it, because it was usually my younger sister who got all the adult/teen attention.  I was usually ignored.  I usually felt unloved.

My older sister said something about the guy writing a letter or...poem maybe?  It talked about how he wished I was older.  I seriously doubt he said anything sexual. It was probably more romantic.  I feel really ick just writing romantic when talking about a teenager expressing his feelings for a tween.  But in those days....I don't remember anyone having a problem with it.  My sister acted like she thought it was sweet, although I've sometimes wondered if she wasn't secretly bothered.  NOT in a my-boyfriend-might-be-a-pedophile way, but in a jealousy kind of way.  

Back then, the only thing that bothered me about the whole situation is the next year at camp, the boyfriend totally lost interest in me and then set his attention on my younger sister.  Then I was the one who was jealous.  

The boyfriend might have been a pedophile, and in those days people could be more open about it.

On the other hand, he could have just been someone who enjoys the company of young children.  I liked young children when I was a child and teenager.  I NEVER had any sexual interest in them.

As for the romantic poem thing.  That's a little disturbing.  On the other hand, at least he said he wished I was older instead of actually making a move.  He could have meant something completely innocent, like...I see qualities in you that I hope to someday find in someone closer to my age.  I think in those days we could more easily give someone the benefit of the doubt.  These days, we're more likely to quickly jump to a pedophile accusation.

6. I remember in middle school, a boys saying to a friend, loud enough for me to hear, She thinks about sex all the time.  I remember feeling embarrassed and ashamed—maybe worried that what he said was partly true. No, I didn't think about sex ALL the time. But maybe I worried that I thought about it more than what was normal for girls my age.

 I guess that's probably the worst I've had in terms of hurtful sexual harassment.  When I hear what other people have had to endure, I kind of feel like I've dodged a bullet.  

I'm wondering if some people might be bothered by my phrase, "hurtful sexual harassment".  They might say, ALL sexual harassment is hurtful.  I don't agree.  I think it really depends on the audience.  For me, most of the sexual-related questions and comments I've received have been simply annoying.  That being said, most of what I've encountered has been online...in very minimal amounts.  I haven't had to endure it at work or other situations where I can't easily escape.  

7. When I was a teenager, we went to Los Angeles.  My dad had a wealthy business connection/friend that let us stay at their house.  The idea is we'd dog-sit and house-sit in exchange for having a true Los Angeles experience.  What we especially loved is that part of the deal included a real life actor. He worked for my dad's business friend.  I guess? 

The actor was handsome, funny, and a great tour guide.  I sometimes Google him to see if he's had any major successes.  It doesn't seem like it, but I hope he's found happiness in other ways.

That's besides the point, though.  I'm kind of going off topic (like usual).

Anyway....

My dad decided that in order to thank the house owner, we'd make our own movie starring us and the real life professional actor.  It's a pretty clever idea, actually.  If you want to give your kids a memorable Hollywood experience, make a video together.

My dad played the part of screenwriter, director, and cameraman.  

In one of the scenes, he set it up so it looked like my younger sister and I were secretly watching him take a shower.  Then either my sister or I said something like, I guess Dempsey is a boy dog!

The joke was that one of the dogs very often jumped/humped my younger sister.  So by spying on my father, we were able to learn a bit about male anatomy and come up with a scientific conclusion.  

I don't remember ever being bothered by this.  Nor do I remember any of my family protesting.  We've watched the video multiple times through the years.  I don't remember anyone ever saying, Shit. That's a bit sick, actually.

It wasn't until this year, with Trump/Ivanka stuff, and Weinstein, etc. stuff that I'm suddenly thinking...Holy, fucking, shit.  Why did any of us feel that was okay?  

I wonder if I had at least been offended and embarrassed that my father implied that, his teenage daughter, was ignorant about male anatomy.  

But what about the incest aspects?  

Yuck, yuck, yuck.

Maybe it would have been cute/funny if we were both much younger.  Like a six year old and four year old?  Well, I think that might have been cute if it actually happened naturally and was caught on film?  But I think my sister and I were around the ages of 10/15.  Or maybe 9/14?   

I don't  think it's cute and/or normal for kids that age to be watching their father taking a shower.  Nor do I think it's funny (in a ha ha way) for a parent to want to imagine or pretend their kids are watching them take a shower.  

Why did we think it was okay?

Why was it seen as funny and not disturbing?

What did the owners of the house think when they saw the video.  I'm pretty sure I've heard that they loved the video.  Did they really?  Did they think the shower scene was funny?  Or did they secretly think we were a really messed up family? 

Well, knowing what goes on with Hollywood people, I wouldn't be surprised if they were completely okay with it.  

All in all, our views towards sexuality are changing.  What was seen as innocent and funny in the 1970's, 1980's and 1990's is now often seen as disgusting and dangerous.  And even stuff deemed okay a few years ago is now being labeled as wrong.

In my days, consent was simply not saying no.  It didn't matter if you wanted to do something, didn't mind so much doing something, or would rather not do something.  It was only assault or rape if you gave a forceful no.  These days, from what I'm hearing, every sexual act needs permission, and all permission needs to be granted with happy enthusiasm.

In some ways, I like this. Because I've hated being pressured into doing things I don't want to do...whether it's sexual or having to attend a social event.  Another part of me worries, though, that we're going too far.  A month or so ago, I watched The Office.  Jim (John Krasinski) kissed Pam (Jenna Fischer) without her permission, and even though she was engaged to another man. 

I saw the scene as being very romantic...because I knew deep down Pam loved Jim.

Will we ever be able to see such behavior as being romantic, or will it now be always labeled as assault or harassment?

Are we throwing the baby out with the bathtub?

The bathtub definitely NEEDS to be cleaned. It's horribly filthy.  On the other hand, I hope we don't completely lose all of the perverted innocence of the later 20th century. 

We probably do need to lose 99.99999% of it.  


Confusing Doctor's Visit

Yesterday I went to a neurologist.  Ever since last February, I've been having myoclonic jerking.  My toes, feet, legs, shoulders, hands, mouth, etc. move on their own.  I usually actually kind of like the feeling, but I wanted to make sure I don't have something serious and treatable like a brain tumor.

We talked about the jerking. The doctor called it twitching.  He seemed to not want to use the term myoclonic.  I didn't really understand that, because from what I read, myoclonus is a symptom not a diagnosis.  And to me, twitching is when the muscle under your skin moves.  When I first started Googling my symptoms, I read the wrong stuff because of that. It took me some time to get things straight. And when I tell other people, they seem to get confused as well.

In case anyone reading this is confused, this is how I personally distinguish the difference. Muscle twitching is when you have that freaky feeling under your skin. You look and you might see something that looks like a tiny alien insect in your body trying to say hello.  You can't replicate this movement, because you can't control the muscles under your skin.

With jerking, I can replicate any of the movements.  They are all movements I can do, by my own choice, when and if I feel like it.  BUT these movements are happening to me not by choice. They are a complete surprise.

For those who still don't know what the fuck I'm talking about....

They happen normally to people sometimes as they fall asleep. Have you ever been falling asleep and suddenly your legs kick and you wake up?  It's quite a surprise?  Well, that happens to me when I'm awake and not on the verge of falling asleep.

Shit.  I'm blabbing on and on, and that wasn't even supposed to be the subject of my post.

I've been having some other symptoms the past couple of years.  One of them is audio hypnopompic hallucinations.  This means I am awakened by things that are not really there. For me, it's almost always my son calling out. Mom?   He usually sounds annoyed or in need of help.  I will sometimes jump out of bed and rush upstairs.  Other times I stay in bed where it's nice and warm.  Don't worry, Dina. You're just hallucinating. Jack is fine. Asleep.  Then I worry that this time it's not the case.

I haven't been too worried about the hallucinations, because I've educated myself via Google and understand that hallucinations are not always a sign of psychosis. Sometimes normal, healthy people just happen to have them.  This is especially the case with ones involving sleep.  Sometimes it's caused by a neurological issue, and since I'm having the myoclonus, I figure it should be maybe examined.  Also, I've had one or two instances where I've had the audio hallucination and I've NOT been asleep.  So I'm leaning towards a neurological cause.

So, anyway, I told the doctor about the hallucinations. I think I expected him to be reassuring about it.  Give me the basic, it's probably nothing. It happens to people sometimes. But it could be a symptom of epilepsy, or something like that. We'll look into it.

Instead, he seemed frighteningly concerned. Like I had told him I'm coughing up blood or my pee is brown.

Maybe I'm exaggerating. He probably didn't seem THAT freaked out.  But he didn't seem to think it was probably normal.

What's crazier, though, is he told me it's not a neurological thing and I need to talk to my primary care physician.

WTF?

From what I read hallucinations are associated with neurological issues. For example, epilepsy sometimes involves hallucinations.  That's also the case with myoclonus, and I'm getting an EEG next month to test for that.  So, how can he be a doctor, who deals with epilepsy, not know that one of the symptoms is hallucinations?

Also, we were told his expertise is in sleep medicine.  How can he be an expert in sleep issues and not know about hypnopompic hallucinations?  Does he also not know about sleep paralysis?  Narcolepsy?  Because I was rereading this morning, and saw that the hallucinations are associated with narcolepsy.

What happened at that appointment?

Do we have a doctor who's seriously lacking in the knowledge he's supposed to possess?

Did he misunderstand me?  Maybe he thought I said something else?

I know what you're probably thinking.  Why didn't you ask him?  Don't worry. I keep asking myself the same thing.  Why didn't I speak up?

I think I was tongue-tied.

Now I'm plagued by this whole thing.

I know that many people talk about bedside manner of doctors.  I think they want someone who is friendly, kind, patient, etc.  And the neurologist was like that. He was very friendly—personable.

I think, though, what I want in doctors....

No. What I DON'T want in doctors is to hear, from them, something that is different from what I've read online.

I imagine some folks reading this are rolling their eyes. You can't believe everything you read online.  This is true.  I would trust many doctors more than some of the stuff I read on message boards or quack websites.  But when it comes to news articles from places like NPR, CNN, etc; when it comes to medical sites such as CDC, WebMD, and Mayo Clinic; when it comes to scientific studies...well, I DO have a lot of trust in those resources. And I don't want doctors who have knowledge and ideas that greatly differ from what I've read there. If they do, they better have a very logical and compelling reason for why they feel differently.

I was thinking about how doctors should usually respond when we give them a symptom.  I don't think they should EVER be dismissive.  They shouldn't say things like, That's totally normalThere's no need to worry about it. You're fine.  I think what they should say is something like, This might not be a problem.  Sometimes this symptom happens in healthy, normal people.  But let's make sure this is not something serious.

Well, actually I think that would probably be included in bedside manner behavior....

I guess we all have different ideas of what a good bedside manner is.

For me, it's listening well, having faith that patients have the ability to be somewhat medically literate, and not being dismissive.  For other people, it might be conveying bad news gently, or being able to lighten the mood with jokes.  I don't know....

On a more positive note.  What I did like about the doctor:  He seemed interested in what we were saying. He didn't act bored or distracted. I liked that he would ask us if a symptom was interfering in our daily life.  Though I like it less if he was asking as a measurement of how bad the problem was.  I like the way myoclonus feels, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have a sinister cause.  BUT I like to imagine he was asking in order to determine whether we need treatment or not.  One of the many reasons I took 10 months to go to a neurologist is because I feared they would rush to medicate me...even before getting a diagnosis.  I imagined struggling to explain that I just wanted to make sure nothing is wrong and that I'm not bothered by the symptom.  The neurologist seemed to understand all this.

The thing is....

A few years ago, I suddenly lost my appetite and lost about 10-20 pounds in a short time. This was a few years AFTER having an eating disorder in which I had NOT lost my appetite, but just wanted to be very thin.  I worried about myself because loss of appetite/weight loss could signal something deadly like cancer.  But certain people seemed to not understand this.  They seemed to think I was upset about being a bit thinner.  Never mind that I was hardly even close to being underweight.  I guess they just thought I was this rare woman who didn't want to be in the somewhat lower side of the normal BMI range.

Also, on that note, people have asked me how I'm feeling, referring to the myoclonus.  I often feel like shit, but it's not the myoclonus that's bothering me.  So....

Well, it's just nearly impossible to get people to understand that.

We can have dangerous symptoms that cause us no daily grief...besides the fact that it worries us.  And might eventually kill us.  We can also have benign symptoms that aren't at all dangerous, but they cause us persistent pain and/or discomfort.

Anyway, if we have found a doctor that understands the above paragraph, maybe I won't mind so much that he has a blindspot when it comes to hallucinations.  

Worthy

Though I didn't at all enjoy seeing The Exorcist movie when I was seven; as I reached a more appropriate age for that kind of thing, I grew to like the franchise.  

Recently we watched season two of The Exorcist TV show.  I totally LOVED that.  

I can't say the same for the first season of the show.  I thought it started strong, but then after the big twist, it got a bit too silly for me.  I might write a post about all that one day.  But for now....

I just want to list the reasons I loved the second season.  I've been trying to decide if I want a spoiler post or a spoiler free.

I'm going to go with spoiler-free.  I guess I'm kind of hoping to promote the show; though hardly anyone reads my blog, and when they do, I don't think I often succeed in brainwashing them to check out the stuff I want them to check out.

But still.

I'm going to go spoiler free. Later I might write more in a spoiler-rich post.

Until then...here's my list.

1. DIVERSITY- I love that none of the main cast are white straight males with American accents.  There's one white man in the main cast. He's gay, and has a British accent.

In terms of diversity, I'm pretty sure that accent isn't as important an issue as things like skin color, disability, religion, sexuality, etc. But I do think audience members could benefit from being exposed to more characters that are first generation Americans.  

The two main characters (the Exorcist team) are first generation Americans. I think that's very cool.

Then two of the other principal adults are Asian, and they have American accents. So that illustrates the point that it's not always the white people who have been here long enough to language-assimilate.  I think this is an idea that really needs to be driven into our brains. Hell, I'm MARRIED to an Asian-American with a 100% American accent, and I'm still sometimes surprised when an Asian person opens their mouth and an American accent comes out.   

Yikes. I just realized that two of the main characters are white males.  But they're children.  So maybe I should say, none of the ADULT main cast are white straight males with American accents.  And also, the kids probably qualify more as supporting characters than main characters.

2. CREEPY SETTING-The show takes place on an island in the Pacific Northwest. I think it's Washington, but it might have been Oregon. Like many American TV shows, Canada does the portraying. 

The island has a creepy foster home, and that's where most of the creepiness happens.

But there's also a creepy cabin, a creepy well, a creepy ferry station, a creepy forest, etc.

Pretty much everything on the island is creepy and eerie.

I'm wondering if the island is actually creepy.  I mean could you take the setting and turn it into the perfect place for a romantic comedy?  Is it only the storyline that makes it seem sinister?

But then I don't think I got a sinister feeling about Washington DC from The Exorcist movie, and nor did I get one about Chicago from the first season of the TV show.  

I think maybe there IS something about the island...especially the house.  Tim and I both noticed that it seems there was a lack of lighting.  The characters seemed to walk around in the almost-dark a lot.  

3. SCARY.  I think the show was definitely scary.  What I love is that the jump scares and gruesome scares aren't what got to me.  Actually, I don't remember any jump scares.  But I assume they probably had some and I just forgot.

The show had the obligatory spider walks and demon make-up effects. That was fairly cool.  What really got to me, though, was the psychological horror.

I'm trying to figure out if I can talk about this without spoilers.  

Maybe.

It's the suffocating idea of being plagued by visions and not being able to escape them.  It doesn't matter if they come from ghosts, demons, aliens, or are own brains.   

The show also has the whole scary idea of being trapped by delusions, and losing touch with reality.  I think a mild, harmless (probable) delusion here or there can make life more interesting.  But if it completely takes over your life and ruins you, that's scary to me.  

There's also the scary matter of vulnerable people being easily brainwashed.

4. TEAR JERKER- I think horror movies and TV shows usually elicit one or two emotions.  Any decent one will hopefully make us afraid.  Then, for better or worse, some will make us laugh. 

How many make us cry?  

I got pretty emotional during the last episode of The Exorcist.  I think I was more emotional watching that than I was watching the three recent episodes of This is Us.

5. SURPRISES Tim and I made guesses about what was going to happen. In most cases, we were wrong and quite surprised about what ended up happening.  So, the show wasn't predictable for us.  I think stories can go too far in either direction. There are stories that are too predictable.  It's so easy to guess what's going to happen next.  You might as well be doing the writing yourself.  Then other stories are full of surprises, but they don't make logical sense.  Or it's just ridiculous.  OR I can't follow the storyline, so I don't even know what the hell is happening.  The killer is revealed, and I'm thinking, huh? Who the hell is that? Am I supposed to know who that is?  

The Exorcist surprised me, but once I got an answer, it made total sense to me.  

6. UNRESOLVED MYSTERY-A day or two after we finished watching the show, I realized a certain question was never answered.  I won't give details.  I'll just say it was a question of whether a tragedy was demon-caused or psychological-caused.  At first I felt it was kind of a mistake not to address the issue.  But after I thought about it a few moments, I liked that they kept it open-ended. Sometimes it's nice to let the audience make up their own minds. 

Well, that's my list.  For now.  I might write more later.  Or maybe not.  I tend to obsess about a show for a few days, and then my heart attaches itself to a new show.

Our new show right now is Dark—that German show on Netflix. So far, I'm not very attached. But we've only watched two episodes. Hopefully I'll get more into it soon.

I've also been also watching The Originals, that show featuring vampires who used to be Aussie mermaids.  

Sunday, December 17, 2017

I Don't Believe in Lumping Everything Together

Alyssa Milano and Minnie Driver are at war against Matt Damon.

For me, it's kind of strange BECAUSE

Alyssa Milano is my favorite celebrity Twitterer.

I've been loving Minnie Driver's TV show.

I've never liked Matt Damon, maybe not for any specific reason besides that his face annoys me.  He LOOKS like an arrogant asshole.

But in this war, I'm actually more on his side.

Matt Damon did an interview where he said society needs to differentiate between Weinstein behavior and Al Franken, CK Louis behavior.  From what I understood, he wasn't saying that there's any level of harassment that's okay and excusable. He was saying there ARE levels, and they can't all be lumped together.

Back in October, I wrote my first post about the MeToo movement and I talked about how I felt uneasy adding myself to the list. I had added myself to the list on Instagram.  Then, if I remember correctly, I later deleted myself.

In my blog post, I wondered if my experiences counted or not.  I wrote, A part of me thinks yes, of course they do. It all matters...big or small. And small stuff can add up. Another part of me feels weird adding myself to the same list that includes women who have been violently raped multiple times.

I'm still divided into parts. 

There's the part of me that agrees with Matt Damon.

There's also a part of me that agrees with Alyssa Milano and Minnie Driver, BECAUSE my problems have been so often minimized.

Like decades ago when my maybe-it-counts MeToo movement happened.  I told my best friend. He laughed at me.

Or when I remembered it after all the Trump-related talk of sexual assault started happening.  I told someone and the basic message I got is that my incident wasn't that big of a deal. This person also made sure to remind me that he knew people who had actually been sexually assaulted, raped, etc. 

There was the time an email friend complained about her brother to me because he had her watch slasher films and liked to see her squirm. I gave her sympathy for that.  Then I told her I could sort of relate because when I was a young child my father had me watch The Exorcist.  It was a very traumatic experience for me. Her response?  That's kind of mean what your dad did.  It seems to be a male humour thing, though. 

When I told my mom (for the second time) that I had recovered from an eating disorder and wanted to avoid going back to that, she told me no, I hadn't had an eating disorder.  People with eating disorders are in the hospital and they weigh forty pounds. 

Those are just four examples out of many many more in which I have been made to feel that my problems are too small too matter or that my problems don't matter simply because they happened to me and not someone else. 

So I would not want ANY person to feel that they can't scream, cry, feel traumatized, and want sympathy because they were flashed with a penis and not brutally gang raped. 

I wouldn't want anyone to be told that their depression is too small to matter, because they haven't attempted suicide yet. 

I wouldn't want anyone to be told to snap out of it. It was just a hamster, and not like their grandpa or something like that. 

If anyone is sad, afraid, angry, etc....I think they deserve to have someone to lean on.  I think they deserve validation.  I think they deserve a shoulder to cry on.

BUT....

I still think we can't treat every problem the same...outside of providing sympathy/empathy.

For example, my mom was awful for discounting my eating disorder.  On the other hand, because I pulled out of the dangerous behavior before it got deadly, it would have been a waste of money to stick me in the hospital and put me on feeding tubes. 

Yes, I think my father was awful for having me watch The Exorcist and awful for gaslighting me about it in later years.  I think I DO deserve sympathy for this...which I have pretty much never have received in a genuine way.  And that fucking pisses me off.  But no, I don't think it's equal to a child being raped by her parents, starved to death, bones being broken, etc  No, I don't think my dad should have been put into prison.  No, I don't think I should have been put into foster care.

There are levels to bad behavior. 

There are levels to problems.

Alyssa Milano Tweeted an analogy. There are different stages of cancer. Some more treatable than others. But it's still cancer. 

Yes. It's still cancer.  But there is a huge difference between stage four pancreatic cancer and stage 0 breast cancer. 

Any kind of cancer is terrifying.  And just waiting to hear back from a test result to see if you MIGHT have cancer is terrifying.  Every person in a cancer-situation should be able to feel and express their feelings without being dismissed, minimized, laughed at, etc.  But the cancer itself is going to be treated differently.  Some people will have minimally invasive surgery.  Some people will have to have very invasive surgery and medications that will make them feel awful.  Some people will have no viable options outside of receiving palliative care as they wait to die. 

As for the sexual harassment, assault, and mysogony stuff.....

Any person that has felt hurt from these experiences, and speaks out, should receive emotional support.  There really shouldn't be levels of emotional support, but if there is, it should be based on the level of distress the person feels and NOT on what happened to them. 

There has to be a difference, though, in what happens to the perpetrator.  One of the reasons is, if we punish everyone the same, I kind of feel 99% of men will end up in prison.  I know many people would argue against this.  They're much more optimistic than me. 

But yeah.

Some men need to go to prison for their actions.

Some men need to be fired.

Some men need to be completely blacklisted from their career fields.

Some men need to be ridiculed by the media and/or social media. 

Some men just deserve a slap on the wrist and a lecture. 

ALL men need to be make changes, and many women (including myself) do too. 

2017 has been a major traumatic learning experience.  Some good is coming out of it, and some bad as well.  Hopefully in 2018, we'll take more steps towards making things better and less steps towards making things more shitty.    

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Moral Descendants

I've been watching the TV show Underground.  It's about the underground "railroad" in the United States—black people of the south trying to make their way north to freedom.

In Alabama yesterday, the Democrat Doug Jones won the senate election against a racist, homophobic, Trump supporting sexual predator.  That's fantastic news.  

What's sad news is that 70% of white voters in Alabama voted for Roy Moore, the homophobic, racist, Trump Supporting sexual predator.

Yuck.

This led me to thinking about something.

I think, while we all have biological ancestors, we also have moral ones.  

In terms of our morality, I think our biological ancestry matters very little.  This is especially true, if you're like me, and believe in reincarnation.  Who cares if your grandfather was a Nazi?  You might have been a Jew killed in a death camp.  Who cares if one of your ancestors was a plantation owner with a hundred slaves?  In a past life, you might have been one of those slaves.  

Reincarnation or not, though, I think it's more important to look at moral ancestry. 

I think every white person who voted for Roy Moore is a moral descendant of the American slave owners.

Donald Trump might not BE Hitler, but I think he is a moral descendant of Hitler.  Every member of his team is a moral descendant of Nazis.  

Americans who are pro-Trump and anti-immigration? The ones who don't care that people are being expelled from our country?  The ones who say, Only the bad ones are being exported?  I think they're the moral descendants of all the German bystanders—the ones who might not have directly murdered Jews, but the ones who didn't mind that it was happening.  

All the black women and men who sacrificed their time to go and vote for the sake of ALL Americans?  They are the moral descendants of every black person throughout history who has found the strength to fight back.

The 30% of white people in Alabama?  I think many of them are the moral descendants of the people throughout history that stood up in small ways and big ways to try and make things better for those unfairly cursed with less privilege.  

We hear people say things like, Why do I need to be sorry? What my ancestors did is not my fault!  When it comes to biological ancestry, I think these people have it right. We can't be fairly blamed for what are parents, grandparents, great grandparents, etc. did.  We can't even really be blamed for what our moral ancestors did...unless we bring reincarnation into the picture.  But we CAN be compared to our moral ancestors.  And we can be validly hated for all that.  


Friday, December 8, 2017

The Bethany Storyline on Coronation Street

Every so often I come across a piece of literature or media that makes me wish I had magical powers, so I could force almost everyone in the world to watch or read it. 

For me, lately, that's the Bethany storyline on Coronation Street.

I finished watching it yesterday.

Bethany Platt (Lucy Fallon) is a typical soap opera teenager. She's dealt with bullying, an eating disorder, crushes on older men, her mother's depression, and a dead drug dealer buried under her family's home.

During one of her times of extreme turmoil, she meets up with Nathan (Christopher Harper), a man in his thirties. Nathan showers Bethany with praise and attention. Since she is in great need of validation, AND has a thing for older men, Bethany falls easily to...a predator.

But Bethany doesn't see Nathan as a predator. She sees him as her very romantic boyfriend. 

Nathan is a manipulative, evil piece of shit. And that's putting it kindly. He finds and manipulates young girls; then turns them into his sex workers.  He has a whole sex ring.

With Bethany, he transforms her from trainee to worker by setting her up to think she is the cause of expensive video equipment being stolen.  He uses guilt and shame, and gets her to believe that the only way she can find redemption is by being flirty with the Neil (Ben Cartwright), the man who owned the equipment.     

Well, it turns out flirty is a bit of an understatement.  It actually turns into sex.  Bethany waits for Nathan to barge into the room and rescue her, but it never happen.  Later, to her surprise, Nathan actually seems pleased that Bethany has had sex with his friends.  Nathan is such a brilliant manipulator that he's able to convince Bethany that men sharing their girlfriend sexually with their friends is totally cool and normal.

Yeah.

I won't blab on about the whole story.  I did enough of that already, really.

I'll just say that eventually, Bethany sees the light and escapes (sort of) mentally and physically from Nathan.  She finally realizes she was the victim of a predator rather than an incompetent girlfriend of a cool older man.

Yesterday I watched the court scenes. They were brilliant, cathartic, and nerve-wracking.

The whole thing reminded me of gaslighting...kind of on a symbolic level.

What I imagine is this. The jury is the mind of the gaslighting victim. 

The prosecution lawyer is what goes on in the mind of the gaslighting victim when they have realized they've been wronged. 

On Coronation Street,  Bethany is questioned and we hear the story we have already seen. 

When the defense lawyer questioned the witnesses, and when Nathan took the stand, it reminded me of what goes on in the mind of a gaslighting victim as soon as the gaslighter stops talking.

I found the defense team very convincing even though I KNEW Bethany was the one telling the truth.

In the defense's version of events, Bethany wasn't the victim. She was the perpetrator against Nathan.  She was a disturbed teenager with a very troubled and violent family.  She had major jealousy issues, and when she became jealous about Nathan's ex-girlfriend, she slept with other men to make Nathan jealous.

The time that Nathan tried to kidnap Bethany and hide her away in Belgium?  No, that was kidnapping. Nathan had been trying to SAVE Bethany.

A clever defense team came convince a jury that the criminal is the victim.

A clever gaslighter can make us believe that A) we weren't really wronged B) There is something inherently wrong with us C) We are actually the ones who have done a bad thing.

So I guess that's one of the reasons I'd want people to watch the Bethany storyline.  It shines some light on gaslighting.

Also, it shines a lot on manipulation in general.  There are manipulated people out there who might not know they are being manipulated.  It might help break them out of that particular prison.

Maybe it might also diminish the deeds of manipulators.  In some rare cases, a person might realize they actually don't want to be awful like that.  They might not have understood they were doing a bad thing, and once they know, maybe they might try to change.   In other cases, maybe a person won't give a shit about the harm their manipulation causes, but if they realize there's a lot of public awareness about it, maybe they'll feel it won't be so easy to get the results they desire. 

In terms of sex crimes, I think the storyline illustrated very important issues. One of these was victim shaming.  Does sexual abuse become okay when the victim has a troubled past?  What if she has a troubled family?  What if she has had crushes on older men?  Does any of that matter?

For a rape victim to receive full public sympathy do they need to dress a certain way, come from a happy, wholesome family, and have no past mental health issues? 

If a woman once posed for Playboy, does that make raping her or harassing her a little less wrong?

The other issue, in terms of sexual abuse, I think the storyline brings up is family support.  Sometimes a story teaches us by having the characters do the wrong thing.  In the Bethany storyline, we're taught by showing the very right thing.

Bethany has a really messed up family, but they are so there for her during her time of need...especially her mother, Sarah (Tina O'Brien)

Recently I've thought about parenting and decided that parents can be divided into not-perfect parents, toxic parents, and abusive parents. 

Perfect parents exist only in picture books and preschool TV shows. But if Sarah was such a parent, Bethany would never have gotten herself entangled with Nathan in the first place.

If Sarah was a toxic parent, she'd probably either blame Bethany for what happened or she'd convince Bethany that Nathan wasn't such a bad guy, really. Well, he's a really handsome guy.  And he's bought you those expensive gifts.  I think you should count your blessings.  You'll be happier in life if you stop being so sensitive and dramatic.  

If Sarah was an abusive parent, she'd probably be part of the whole sex ring.  She would have probably SOLD Bethany to Nathan.

But no.  Sarah is a beautiful, Not Perfect parent.  She struggles to support her daughter, be there for her, even though Bethany is dating a man she doesn't approve of. 

Of course, Sarah feels a ton of guilt when she realizes the creepy, asshole boyfriend is actually a dangerous criminal. 

But you know...while watching Sarah, I always felt empathy for her.  There was never a moment where I thought, You could have just done this. Or you should have just done that.  Okay. Well, thinking about it. Actually there was probably one time I thought that. But I was probably wrong.  It was probably a case of the audience knowing what the character does not.  

Sarah was in an impossible parenting situation, and she handled it the best I imagine any Not Perfect parent could. 

Sarah never put any blame on Bethany. She never shamed her for making the wrong choices. She always made it known that Bethany was 100% the victim.  Sarah showered Bethany with love and support.  Her behavior was admirable and inspiring.

Well, I can't make the whole world watch Coronation Street, and some people wouldn't be able to easily watch it even if they wanted to.  But I AM very glad that I had the opportunity to see it.  I

Thursday, December 7, 2017

I'm Kind of Guilty of Sexual Harassment

Three times I have sexually harrassed men in my life.

I feel guilty about it.

With each incident, it was a total (100%) accident and then there was joking around about it. Some of the joking came from me. Some of the joking came from other people. Some of the jokes came from my victims.

I don't feel guilty about the actual incidents, because they were accidents. I didn't do anything on purpose. 

I probably shouldn't feel guilty about the joking, because it was mostly about trying to make an awkward situation feel less awkward.  And what if there had been no jokes?  The guys might have felt I was trying to make a move on them.  Since the three of them are married...or at least common-lawed, AND I'm married, this wouldn't be a good thing.  

What I do feel guilty about is...

A) assuming that the men were okay, and maybe not giving a genuine apology.  They SEEMED to think it was all funny, but what if they secretly didn't?  What if, like many female victims we're hearing about, they were pretending to be amused, but were really not?  No, I don't hold a lot of power over these men, but I can imagine men are very pressured to be okay with these kinds of things.

B) Trying to justify my behavior by saying it's okay because it happened to a particular type of person.  One of the men has a history of being a bit of a womanizer, goes to Hooters a lot, etc. So I tried to tell myself it was totally okay that I accidentally harrassed him and then joked about it.  But is it?   It's not that I could have stopped my action from happening, and I think it was probably okay that I made a joke about it.  But I should have stopped and considered that despite his past behavior and personality, he still might not have been okay with what happened.

C) the knowledge that things might be very different if I was a man and if I was powerful.  What I did was, tickle a man's foot (hard to explain how that was accidental, but it really was. Try to believe me); almost groped a man's genitals while playing Pin the Tail on a Donkey; and fell on top of a man while trying to transfer from a boat to the attached raft.  

I think since I'm a woman and have no power over these men, it was all seen as comedic.  

What if, though, I was a male senator and a woman later came forward to tell these stories?  What if I was an actor?  Would I be seen as an innocent person who made an honest mistake, or would I be seen as a predator who needs to lose their job?  

We all have accidents and awkward moments.

We can't change that.

Sometimes joking about the moments minimizes the tension.  Sometimes it might not. I think we just have to keep in mind that someone might feel worse about it than they are letting on.  We need to have empathy.

Along with the laughing, I HOPE I apologized to these men. I probably did, but I'm not sure.

I'm usually a believer in retrograde apologies, but in this case, I worry if I hadn't caused torment in the past, I feel I might be adding it if I brought up the subject and apologized.  Maybe if it's brought up in another way, I'll blurt out an apology.  

I don't know....

I'm haunted by all this.  

The main thing I feel is we should not do sexual harassment things on purpose.  If we do something on accident, who knows how we should act?  I don't.  But at the very least, we shouldn't assume the victim is okay with it all.