Questions On Georgia’s HB 481, The Heartbeat Bill

It’s been a long time since I blogged, mostly because I have a lot of strong feelings about politics, but didn’t want to share them here, so I said nothing. But this is my breaking point. Sorry, not sorry.

I’ve wanted to have a baby for some time now. Husband and I have been married for over six years and have been together for nearly a decade. We are in our early thirties and are finally financially and, I believe, emotionally stable and mature enough to handle bringing another human into this world. Because that’s what having a baby is: it’s not being gifted with something cute you get to dress up, or a little kid you get to turn into a mini-you, it’s choosing to take on the responsibility of raising the next generation of humans that will inherit the earth and all the creatures on it. It’s kind of a big deal.

But because we have waited so long, the risks have gone up. The older you are, the more likely you are to have an ectopic pregnancy, a miscarriage, a congenital defect in the fetus, or a medical complication for the mother that will affect future fertility, mobility, and could lead to straight up death (though, to be fair, all pregnancy comes with these risks: it’s an experience that is not a walk in the park for anyone). All of these things are enhanced when you’re having your first pregnancy at an “older” age, and in my personal case, I have struggled with a small host of reproductive issues that don’t make conception look like it’s going to go smoothly at all.

So, with this in mind, and of course my already staunch support for access to legal and safe abortion for all, I have a lot of question about Georgia’s HB 481, or the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act which, at its most base level, outlaws abortions after a heartbeat can be found (with a handful of exceptions) which is typically around 6 weeks of gestation. I’ve read the whole thing multiple times, I majored in English and consider myself of an intelligence that usually “gets” most things, but I had trouble with plenty of this act, and without any kind of background in law, extrapolating what a lot of these things mean legally. But I damn well tried.

Here is what I’ve gleaned this LIFE act means, and how the legislators who wrote it have twisted things to satisfy their desire to punish women. They have cited the 14th Amendment to the Constitution in order to extend its protections from U.S. citizens to embryos, starting as early as 6 weeks of gestation (39). Now, from my reading of the 14th Amendment, there isn’t an argument here, as it states that it covers “all persons born or naturalized,” emphasis mine, and an embryo isn’t born, nor could it be and survive. There’s also kind of a poetic irony in using an amendment that was specifically written to give former slaves and freed blacks the rights of an American citizen in order to take away the rights of anyone who might become pregnant and essentially make them a slave to the new human inside them, so that’s at least…poignant.

I’d also like to take a closer look at lines 43 through 46 specifically:

Modern medical science, not available decades ago, demonstrates that unborn children are a class of living, distinct persons and more expansive state recognition of unborn children as persons did not exist when Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) and Roe v. Wade (1973) established abortion related precedents.

Mentioning Roe w. Wade specifically is horrifying in and of itself, but that’s the point of the whole act, I believe–they want to challenge that ruling at the federal level now that the supreme court is stacked against women. The whole country should shiver, as this new, dark dawn approaches us.

But where’s the modern medical science that has come about in the last 27 years that have redefined the words embryo (about weeks 4 through 11) and fetus (week 11 through to the end of pregnancy)? It’s confusing to me that these kind of statements can be made sans citation of the actual science by people who are not only not scientists or physicians, but are very frequently people who have not bothered to understand anything about the processes that they’re making up laws over. I’d like to sit down with any of the representatives (all Republican but one) who voted yea on this thing and have them explain to me anything about fertility or women’s reproduction. I can’t imagine most of them can even say the word “vagina” without looking squeamish or just flat out refusing because their god thinks it’s a curse word.

The act also states the makers are “applying reasoned judgment to the full body of modern medical science” (47-80) but again that full body isn’t cited or really even referred to, and here’s the thing: a neurosurgeon, a gastroenterologist, an optometrist, a dentist, a podiatrist, these people know a whole lot of modern medical science, but none of them know the “full body of modern medical science,” and I wouldn’t pick any of them to be present at my birth over an obstetrician who would know the most science about this bill, not that a single one was consulted. And just a side note, the Medical Association of Georgia flat out opposes HB 481, but I guess legislators know the science better than them.

“I know more than you.”

So, with all that explanation out of the way, I guess I’ll just ask my questions.

First of all, how is this tax stuff gonna work? Per the text, “an unborn child with a detectable human heartbeat is a dependent minor for income tax purposes” (21-22). Does this just apply to only Georgia or is the federal government gonna let us all get in on this too? Or will our state taxes, which can only be filed based on what you file to the federal government, be completely overhauled to compensate for the difference between how many dependents will be listed on each the forms? That sounds like it’d be pretty expensive for the state, honestly, and we’ve only got 7 more months to implement something, so we better get on that.

And how is any of this possible without a social security number? If a woman is 6 weeks pregnant on December 31st, the child will be born sometimes in July and it will take an additional week (in Georgia) to get that new baby’s social security card, so would the mother have to file an extension? You can get six months with an extension form which will cover you til October, which I guess is helpful? But if the point they’re trying to make here is that your embryo is a whole-ass human and you should be able to claim them for a refund, how does pushing that refund out so far actually help?

But maybe Georgia will somehow change the entire federal social security program and get numbers handed out early for embryos now? But if that embryo with a social security number dies at any point going forward, will the parents have to file for a true death certificate going forward? (On top of their grief of miscarrying and, you know, being investigated for murder? (We’ll get to that later.)) It seems to me that having so many more social security numbers floating around tied to people who never actually existed outside of the womb opens the door for a lot more fraud, so how will this be countered? This also means every embryo will have to be named and, when they “die” the parents will have to contact a number of agencies to protect that baby’s identity and prevent more fraud, and I don’t know about you, but that sounds like an awesome distraction from mourning the loss of your pregnancy!

And wait, what about multiples who can’t typically be detected until 10 weeks, at the very earliest? Is it tax fraud to only account for one if you can’t see the others right away? And what about Vanishing Twin Syndrome which accounts for 21-30% of multifetal pregnancies? Will a number be issued for each one as they show up and then a death certificate issued as they disappear? This is getting very confusing, guys, and seems like a lot of paperwork, but you know, the government is great at paperwork, so maybe it will be just fine. I mean, it only took me three different written requests over the course of six months to get the title for my car from the state of Florida only to hand it over immediately to the state of Georgia back in July of 2018, and even though I am still waiting on Georgia to finish stuff up, I’m hopeful!

And perhaps most importantly, will this extend to any child conceived in Georgia? So can we legally no longer deport anyone carrying an embryo or a fetus that was conceived here? Or is it that the embryo has to have their first instance of a heartbeat on American soil? How will that be figured out? Because the embryo has the rights of a citizen, according to HB 481, that is unless the mother’s foreign body is considered an embassy of her home country? But what if I, as an American, go to New Hampshire on vacation and that’s where my embryo has their first heartbeat? Or what if a Californian is visiting the World of Coke when their embryo has their first heartbeat? Is that embryo now a whole ass human, subject to Georgian law but mine is subject to New Hampshire law? If I go to another state to get an abortion, does the district attorney have the right to request my medical records from another state and prosecute me here? I mean, everyone knows that gambling at a casino is illegal in Georgia, so if you cross the state line and gamble in Florida or Nevada, you are immediately arrested when you come home. Right? Wait, no, that’s not right. This is befuddling to me.

Fetuses will also be “included in population based determinations” (68) which kind of sounds like they’ll be taken into consideration for where money is allocated by the government and how precincts will be drawn. I’m not sure how they will be counted, again perhaps Social Security numbers are needed for embryos, but this all sounds like just another really lovely way for the state of Georgia to commit even more election fraud by gerrymandering districts to include all the unaccounted for “unborn” citizens.

Perhaps the actual the solution is to make every woman in Georgia’s medical records public information at all times and to subject them to mandatory pregnancy tests every month at the onset of puberty just to make sure we don’t have any more or fewer people than we think? Making a monthly trip down to my state’s pregnancy check office where I’ll share information on my last period, maybe present my used tampons for proof, and then piss in a cup in front of a government worker sounds like a fabulous way to spend a day and, frankly, a fucking magical way to learn I’m pregnant! And I definitely would have loved it at 10 years old when I was blessed with my first period in elementary school!

Ah, I’m sorry for all the hyperbole…but

Fucking, is it???

Line 94 tells us that removing an ectopic pregnancy (when the embryo doesn’t implant itself in the uterus) is not considered an abortion, by legal definition, nor is “removing a dead unborn child caused by spontaneous abortion” which is removing an embryo or fetus once it is no longer viable, or has “died” in the womb. An embryo that is no longer growing can cause a whole lot of problems for a woman, up to and including death, so I guess it’s nice of Georgia to not turn women into walking cemeteries. I mean, I’m glad we don’t consider dead people to be people. Actually, that’s great news in general, right? That means we should immediately be able to harvest organs from bodies as soon as they die, right? Oh wait, no, dead people still actually have complete control over their bodies in Georgia…which is more than living women now.

But my bigger question here is about that embryo that attached itself to a fallopian tube by mistake, the ectopic one, the one that’s typically discoverable as ectopic around week eight. That is NOT a person under the 14th Amendment according to this act despite having a heartbeat because of its placement. I mean, don’t get me wrong here, I know an ectopic pregnancy isn’t viable. It does not have a chance of survival and will most likely kill the mother (and then itself) if left to grow where it not ought be, but according to the scientific definition legislators made up in this law, it IS a person. So how do we morally and legally handle this? Well, it seems to be that we are saying the mother’s life is more important in this and a few other instances, which is refreshing, albeit not consistent.

Lines 119-120 state that an abortion CAN be performed if a medical professional considers it a “medical emergency” which is defined as “necessary in order to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or the substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function” (97-99) but this does NOT include mental health, specifically outlined in lines 99-103, including if the pregnant woman is suicidal. No, no, we’d rather two deaths, not just the one, thank you very much!

Now, the existence of one thing (danger to the mother’s life) does not confirm the negative outcome to be true (definite death of the mother), so I don’t know how doctors are going to feel when this thing goes live in 2020 (unless you count that pesky letter from the Medical Association of Georgia). Basically, if you have a woman who might die due to pregnancy, but you’re not, like 100% sure, this is no longer something the mother and her physician can discuss, she can’t be given the odds and decide for herself what she wants (unlike basically any other person suffering from any disease being able to choose to treat said diseases and how), the doctor can only put abortion on the table if they believe “in reasonable medical judgment” that the pregnancy will kill her.

But with the threat of being accused of literal murder hanging over their heads, I feel like lots of physicians are going to be incredibly wary of performing abortions at all, especially when “health records shall be available to the district attorney of the judicial circuit in which the act of abortion occurs or the woman upon whom an abortion is performed resides” (152-4) (so fuck your privacy, if you have an abortion, it is a legal matter). If there’s a question about how legitimately the mother’s life was in peril, who’s going to pour over those records? There’s nothing here saying it will be other medical professions, and even if it is, who gets to choose them? Is it completely to the district attorney’s discretion to say whether an abortion needed to be performed to save a life or if the abortion was, in fact, murder? How does that make sense?

This wording will also make doctors even more afraid to treat women for anything if they’re pregnant, like women who have other existing conditions and need medication or treatment that carry any kind of risk to an embryo or fetus. None of this leads to better healthcare for mothers or babies, especially in Georgia where we already have the highest rate of maternal death in the entire fucking country. And even if a doctor is willing to treat a pregnant woman, can she actually be treated if she is diagnosed with, say, cancer? Since it’s not the embryo that’s threatening your life but the cancer, you can’t have an abortion, but the cancer treatment will likely cause a miscarriage, which would be construed as murder under this new law as:

‘Abortion’ means the act of using, prescribing, or administering any instrument, substance, device, or other means with the purpose to terminate a pregnancy with knowledge that termination will, with reasonable likelihood, cause the death of an unborn child (88-91)

So, what’s the solution here? Do we just hope the fetus out grows the tumor and hope the baby still has its mom afterwards?

Here is also where it gets really weird, and you’re going to have to bear with me while I try to understand the cognitive dissonance of your average anti-abortion-er. An abortion CAN be performed before 20 weeks if the pregnancy is the “result of rape or incest in which an official police report has been filed alleging the offense of rape or incest” (122-3). (Quick digression here: The fact that a police report has to be filed is its own dilemma because that requires the police to cooperate and believe you, which we know is a huge problem, especially for certain groups in this country, women included, and it also requires the woman to have access to the police and the courage to go to them which isn’t super likely if you’re in an incest situation. It’s a fucking mess.) So it’s ultimately good we have this exception, of course, but it is also completely mind boggling that a group of people who claim to believe that a 6 week old embryo is an entire human being and is susceptible to the 14th Amendment and deserves all the rights of a human, but they simultaneously believe that if an embryo is the result of rape or incest, somehow it’s either A) NOT a human and no longer deserves those rights or B) is IS a human, but we’re choosing to take away those rights.

Since the claim that 6 week embryos are full humans is being made due to “applying reasoned judgment to the full body of modern medical science,” it can’t possibly be A, right? Because it wouldn’t be a scientific stance that if I consensually have sex and get pregnant that that is medically different than if I am raped and get pregnant or even if I consensually (or not) am impregnated by a biological family member. These all result in the “same” embryo with a possible heartbeat at 6 weeks. So it must be B, that the embryo is human, but the state of Georgia has decided to deny those rights to a specific group of people. It probably sounds like I’m making a real good argument to ban abortions in cases of rape and incest, but trust me, that is not what I want. I’m just pointing out the hypocrisy here. How is this abortion okay, but the abortion of any embryo or fetus under 20 weeks that was conceived in any other way not okay? If it is okay in this instance, it should be okay in all instances, shouldn’t it?

And where do things like statutory rape and underage pregnancy of unable to consent teenagers and, sadly, children fit in?

And I have a bigger, more pressing question to ask: If an embryo that is the result of rape or incest CAN be aborted, but the pregnant woman decides NOT to abort it and carry it to term, when does it become a human? 20 weeks? Birth? Never? How else does this human actually earn personhood? Do they get to be claimed as a dependent for the time, however long, they spend in the womb if they’re never born due to a legally chosen abortion? Do they actually have a right to life once they’ve exited the womb? Or will we have a whole new subclass of people that don’t have any rights based on the status of their conception? Should these people wear arm bands of some sort?

In a SHOCKING turn of events, men are actually affected directly by this law. Section 5 speaks very briefly about pregnant women recovering medical and pregnancy expenses from the father. Wow. I am amazed. In fact, I am almost pleased, except that in reality I don’t want anyone to be hurt in any way by laws, so of course I don’t want men to suffer, but I sure as shit don’t want women to suffer either! And I have questions even about this!

I don’t know how paternity would be established here as paternity is typically established by the name on the birth certificate. Paternity tests can be performed as early as 9 weeks (notably AFTER the heartbeat can be established). If the embryo or fetus is also considered a child, and if the father has become financially responsible for it, is there also a custody agreement for the “child?” Will we be transferring the fetus from womb to…testicle for shared custody? Is the father responsible for keeping the embryo or fetus safe? If they, say, smoke around the fetus, can they be charged with child endangerment? (Can anyone who smokes around the fetus be charged?) Will the mother be ordered to spend x amount of hours a week in the presence of the father? Are certain holidays completely at the father’s discretion? Must the father sign off on any of the mother’s medical treatments that affect the fetus or on any travel the mother does? Will the birthing process no longer solely be at the discretion of the woman experiencing it? Can a father deny a mother pain medications during birth if he is afraid it may affect his child? Should we give women collars with their fetus’s sperm donor’s phone numbers on them so they can truly be marked as the property that they are?

“Hello, yes, I saw your incubator walking past the sushi display at Kroger and just thought you should know. And she was headed for the soft cheeses and deli meat!”

So the scariest thing in the entirety of this act is the implication (or lack of any wording) that talks about what a newly illegal termination of a pregnancy means for the woman. If an abortion, purposefully sought out in a medical facility in Georgia, in another state, in another country, or purposefully performed at home with medication, or if “performed” on accident (that’s a miscarriage or “spontaneous abortion” in accordance with the text), we must be considering it murder since that embryo or fetus is considered a human with 14th Amendment rights. Georgia carries the death penalty by lethal injection (by the way, check out this on lethal injection if you want to ruin your day further) for certain types murder, specifically malice murder which is what this would be considered, or just regular old prison time, up to 30 years. I mean, I guess you couldn’t get pregnant again at least if you went to jail? Well, maybe. Is this what pregnant women have to look forward to? A legal battle on the horizon of every doctor’s visit?

I’m not even talking about people who accidentally get pregnant, however incredibly valid I think their desire for an abortion is (and this is coming from an “oops baby” to an unwed, abandoned mother who could have very easily been aborted). I am talking, in a completely solipsistic way here, about my own damn self. If I manage to get pregnant with a very much-wanted baby, but then develop placental separation, fetal membrane rupture, cardiomyopathy, pulmonary hypertension, renal disease, preeclampsia, cancer, an intrauterine infection, diabetes, a whole host of blood disorders, Marfan’s syndrome, Eisenmanger’s syndrome, or any other life-threatening illness, do I get to discuss the option for abortion with my doctor to save my life just to then go to trial for my life again? Will a doctor even be willing to entertain an abortion with the threat of legal action over their heads? How much distress do I need to be in before abortion is feasible? How close to death must I be pushed for my medical records to be enough of a defense to keep a jury from convicting me of murder? Or to just stay out of a courtroom at all?

And what if I end up miscarrying (which, by the way, is how 10-25% of all pregnancies end)? Do I have a legal battle to face once my once-private medical records are sent to the district attorney? Is every aspect of my life going to be scrutinized to see if I messed up somewhere and spontaneously aborted the legal human in my womb? How far back will these records go? Should women, in general, be extra careful about what they disclose to their doctors now lest some past reported depression or knowledge of sickness be used against us later? Will my husband be held accountable in some way as well for letting me endanger and then kill our child? Will this very blog be used against me in court if I mention somewhere during my pregnancy that I had, say, a Diet Coke or went on a jog? What about a Facebook photo of me with a friend at dinner who decided to indulge in a cocktail? Or that time my neighbor saw me almost trip down my front steps?

And remember that Vanishing Twin Syndrome I mentioned? Will…will the fetus that survives be held accountable for the murder of their sibling? When will the trial be held? In the womb? Will the mother be jailed waiting for the trial? (And can pregnant women be jailed at all since that would affect the 14th Amendment rights to freedom of the embryo?) If found guilty, do we wait for the fetus to be born and then put it to death via lethal injection (because that’s what the “pro-life” government in Georgia does–we kill people)? Or do we put it to death in the womb with say…an abortion?

Or should we just kill the mother before she can unleash a new murderer into the world? I mean, technically it’s her fault, probably, somehow. And maybe her doctor’s too. Because after all, the only solution for murder is…more murder, of course, and we are talking about the most precious thing on this planet: life.

Big Feelings About Sportball

I have a connection to Ohio, and I went to THE Ohio State University (at Newark), but I care about football about as far as I can throw one (which isn’t far). Husband, however, is more than marginally interested in the collegiate version of the sport, so I find out a lot of stuff tangentially.

My only other association with sports is through my mom who is from New England, so by default I love the Red Sox, the Patriots, the Celtics, and the Bruins (also, fuck the Yankees). And what I find interesting is that a lot of people hate those teams and the OSU Buckeyes because they’re all pretty good and do well most of the time. It’s also probably because they have a lot of very annoying fans; kind of like The Big Bang Theory or Jesus.

So it wasn’t really a surprise that when OSU’s head coach, Urban Meyer, got in trouble for a very weird thing and college football fans lost their goddamned minds. So basically the whole issue boils down to this: Meyer didn’t fire one of his underlings when said underling was suspected of domestic violence. I have a lot of feelings about domestic violence, as you can probably imagine, but I am also a relatively logical person, and I know you don’t fire anyone for a rumor as, at the time of the incident there wasn’t any police action or charges being pressed to go on. I’m actually not even sure you can legally fire someone for being arrested. I’m not saying Meyer and the coaching staff did the right thing when it came to Zach Smith because honestly the guy seems like a poor choice for anyone who’s about to influence a bunch of new adults in general, but I can’t say for sure that Urban Meyer’s actions or lack thereof, were fireable or even suspendable.

Looking at the bigger picture, I’m not sure when any individual’s outside-of-work conduct should come into play when it comes to their job–there is obviously a line, I just don’t know exactly where it’s drawn. But I do understand not wanting to pay exorbitant amounts to a school that will channel that moolah plus government university state school dollars over to some fuckwad who beats their wife or to someone who knows one of their underlings beats their wife. I get it, I just don’t know if what happened here is that exactly.

What I do know for sure, however, is that a lot of people sure seem to give a shit about this which kind of shocks me because sportball in general has a REALLY AWFUL HISTORY WITH DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. I mean, it’s so prominent we’re desensitized to it and actually joke about it. These dude physically and sexually assault people–especially female partners–at an alarming rate. I’m sure the outrageous amounts of concussions, steroid use, and just generally spending the majority of your day being as aggressive as humanly possible all play a role in the behavior of a lot of athletes, but what also plays a role is their celebrity in that so many of them get away with it or get light to no sentences if they’re even charged.

Here are some stats on the ones who have been arrested in the NFL. Note that I said arrested–this doesn’t include anyone who was just accused.

The above list might not seem too bad since it just shows 100 arrests from Jan 2000 to now, but the issue is ongoing, deep-seated, and persistent. In fact, just this summer two of the leading women working on the NFL Players Association’s commission on domestic violence left because, well, basically the commission is a sham.

When it comes to college and even high school ball, cities and states are so corrupt that kids can get away with almost anything: parents, teachers, police, and attorneys will go to sickening measures to cover up cases of abuse all in the name of winning a fucking game. I wish I could find the interview now, but I followed the Jameis Winston case in 2013, and I remember very specifically the prosecuting attorney was asked if he was choosing to not file charges because he didn’t believe Winston committed sexual assault or because he didn’t believe he could get a conviction, and that man looked at the interviewer and said “because we can’t convict him.” He believed the kid was a rapist, but knew the state of Florida would let him off (and he wasn’t going to risk a loss on his career.) Sure the school settled with the victim, but that didn’t stop Winston from getting the Heisman the same year or being the NFL’s #1 draft pick (coincidentally just like OJ Simpson).

So what I want to say, with all the above in mind, to the people who were outraged specifically with Urban Meyer’s lack of action and who will continue to speak out against him, is this: thank you. Thank you for finally giving a shit about domestic violence in football. Thank you for standing up for a woman, even if this woman is coming off as insane: not that that would ever justify brutality against her–in fact, thank you for being able to look past that apparent “crazy” that so many men love to cite when dealing with an “irrational woman.” Thank you for taking a stand for what’s right, and good, and just, and thinking of your moms, your sisters, your wives, your daughters, maybe even that random lady walking down the street that you don’t know and never will know but you have the ability to recognize she’s a human being deserving of equality, respect, and at the very least the right to not be assaulted despite not being related to you. Thank you for finally deciding to step up and speak out and say NOT TODAY, ASSHOLES! WE NO LONGER TOLERATE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN SPORTBALL! I KNOW WE’VE KINDA BEEN SHITHEADS ABOUT IT FOR LIKE A REALLY, REALLY LONG TIME AND TURNED A BLIND EYE AS A FANBASE WHEN THE THING HAPPENED AND THE OTHER THING AND THAT OTHER THING TOO, BUT THIS IS THE MOMENT WE CHANGE, GUYS! TODAY WE SAY: NEVER AGAIN!

Because that’s what this is, right? We’re finally ready to have this conversation…right? Guys? Hey…guuuuuys????

Things I Just Don’t Fucking Understand: Mom’s Memes

My mom has a folder of memes saved on her computer.

If you noticed my absence the last week or two and happened to see my last post, Eulogy, you can probably put two together and figure out my grandma passed away recently. I traveled to New Hampshire for her funeral and to visit with my family. While there’s plenty to ruminate on there, I’d rather focus on something more lighthearted for now. And that brings me to my mom’s laptop and her folder of memes.

It’s here I should clarify a couple things for you, Dear Reader. One is that I am not an enemy of fun. I want people to have a good time and unabashedly love the things they love. As long as you’re not hurting anyone else, you do you. And two, I pronounce it “mem” like in re-mem-ber, not “meem.” It appears I’m wrong, but I wanted to throw that out there to see if anyone else might do this too.

I’m not entirely sure when the concept of the meme changed from a template image, captioned with slightly altered but relatable and reproducible text to basically any picture with writing on it, but it has, and that’s fine, but this expansion mixed with the boom in older adults utilizing more and more social media has produced a plethora of images that I, personally, do not find humorous. But my mom does. By gods, Dear Reader, does she ever.

While I was visiting her, I paid for my room and board with technology lessons. After answering questions that I didn’t really have the answer to, she opened My Photos. Here, you can see a preview of each of the sub folders. Mostly mountains and snow, but there was one folder, quite dissimilar to the others. The image was clearly compressed and not a photo so much as a solid white background, some text in a near illegible font, and a yellow, amorphous blob. Something in my brain seized at that, but she quickly opened a different folder from a hike she did two years ago and lulled me into a false sense of security. Dear Reader, I’ve seen 90% of her photos before. In fact, I’m in at least half of them, but viewing them with her is just another form of currency, and I’m glad to pay it. But then she confirmed my fear and opened it. The meme folder.

So I got up and started making nachos, because that’s the only thing a sane person can do in that situation. She would chuckle in the background. Increasingly loud chuckles. She was baiting me. “Got some memes there, do ya?” I asked, sprinkling Mexican Four Cheese onto a single layer of tortilla chips because that’s how you do it, Dear Reader: single layer of chips, cheese, another single layer of chips, cheese. Fight me.

“This one’s so funny!” she insisted, and then she read it to me.

Dear Reader, under threat of slow and painful death at the yellow-nailed and pigs-blood-covered hands of an inbred, cannibalistic, radiation-blasted family of the undead, I could not recall what the meme was because when I saw it, my brain shut down.

It’s this thing that happens when faced with something that I don’t agree with on a fundamental level, and I can’t muster the fraudulent expression needed to continue the conversation. I just kind of turn off. It’s basically what happens whenever I see one of these fuckos:

pexels-photo-164854.jpeg
Then I am filled with a BLINDING RAGE and cannot be held accountable for my actions.

But I decided instead to try and make something of this. Why did I have such a reaction, and why was it so in contrast to her own? I avoid these things like the plague, she she, my own mother, the loins from which I was born, seeks them out and saves them as if they won’t be eternalized in the infinite cloud that is the Internet. And for her, someone who has tremendous difficulty on a computer, saving an image from the internet is not an easy task. But this, she learned all on her own! I had to teach her how to set up her bank account alone, but this was more meaningful to her! So I asked: What makes a meme worth saving?

She was quiet, the remnants of a good laugh still plastered in a smile on her face as she stared wistfully at the screen. Then came the reply, “I dunno! They’re funny!”

I know. Take a breath.

I tried to dive deeper into this: Was it that she liked the sentiment of the meme? Were they all similar in some way? Or perhaps she cared for the person who sent or posted them, or even the specific situation that person had referenced with the meme? Every time you see that one-eyed, yellow, banana-loving bastard, do you remember a very specific hike into the snowy mountains of New Hampshire?

“Yeah, I guess.”

She guesses, Dear Reader. And that’s a good enough answer, I guess, because really, no one has to justify their actions to anyone else, especially ones so incredibly insignificant, and especially in response to someone who isn’t doing real science, but I still felt perturbed not getting to the heart of the matter. Her inability to enthusiastically or even completely commit to that answer told me it wasn’t true.

So why does she think they’re funny, but I don’t? Why does she insist on showing them to me even when I say they’re not funny? It’s as if I’ve said nothing or, worse, as if I actually laughed, as she keeps offering another to me. “But this one has Garfield in it!” she tells me despite that the words attached to the image have nothing to do with lasagna or Mondays which just further boggles my mind: these memes are almost completely devoid of meaning beyond the images themselves. In no other context (or really even their own context) would they make sense which I thought was the core concept of a meme–that the image was recognizable and offered additional commentary on the text.

I don’t have an answer for these questions, just like I don’t know what that notification is that keeps popping up on your phone but it’s not there right now, so you can’t show me, but it pops up like five times a day and you can’t get it to go away except it’s not there right now. I can come to some conclusions about why I hate these things, and even some hypotheses as to why she loves them, but I fear we’ll never come to an agreement on them. I’ll forever be making nachos and she’ll forever be giggling at Snoopy drinking wine despite that he’s a dog from a children’s show.

 

Blogmas: Zoomas

It’s December 3rd, and it’s 80 degrees here in Hell, I mean, Florida. But that’s actually kind of cool for the state average, if a bit warm for winter, so we went to the zoo today. It’s adorable there and while I didn’t get any good picture of the animals (I prefer to just enjoy them), I snapped some of the holiday decor for the blog because it’s goddamned blogmas!

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Google Assistant is great.

But I knew I’d find a way to rant during blogmas, and boy howdy, do I have some complaints for you.

They do bag checks and a metal wand detector sweep when you enter, which I’m all for, and it barely slows anything down. But the guy in front of me was not having it. It says very clearly before you even get to the entry line that certain things are not allowed inside, including weapons, but this mother fucker was carrying a fixed-blade hunting knife on his belt and said it was “crazy” he couldn’t bring it in. That is what this man thinks is crazy. That he’s not allowed to bring the knife he probably uses to slice open animals into a park filled with more animals. Also lots of people who expect to have a safe day at the zoo. Idiot.

Besides that guy, there seemed to be an inordinate amount of other crying babies at the zoo. When I say baby, I don’t mean toddler throwing a tantrum, I mean like, tiny thing that cannot communicate with you what is wrong with it and probably doesn’t have the shots it needs to be allowed around this many strangers. Now, I get it, babies gonna cry. It’s one of about three things they do, and that’s fine, but there was no where to go to escape it today. Especially when we got stuck on a tram with one.

Instead of hearing anything the driver said as he told ridiculously corny puns WHICH I LOVE, a way-too-little baby wet-throat-cried (admittedly better than high-pitched shrieking) for the full ten minutes of the ride while its grandma tried to distract it by pointing out the animals by incorrect name (none of them are deer, grandma, and you would know that if you could hear the goddamned driver!)

The tram ride also delivered unto us another hell: skinny person hell. The tram is made to fit four across which means Husband and I were to be sat with strangers–again, fine–but the zoo employee directed us to sit in a row with two women who really needed the whole row to themselves. Husband and I together ended up occupying a little less than a third of the seat, and to add insult to literal injury (being squished and sitting on something that isn’t made to be a seat is not fun) the woman, when realizing she needed to squash up a bit, looked at me, rolled her eyes, and grumbled about having to share “her” seat. Girl, you were in MY seat! I blame the zoo employee for not having the foresight to assign a parent and their small child to the row, but also American consumerism and a healthcare system that doesn’t recognize binge eating as the mental problem that it is (spoken from a recovery standpoint).

But you know what? All the annoying bits of the day just highlighted the positives going on in our lives: our family is exactly how we want it right now, we’re mentally and physically healthy, and there’s very little that can go so wrong in our lives that our day could really be spoiled. The day was actually great, it’s just that the awesome parts are boring for Dear Readers. I also had a super successful shopping trip to Target this morning to get the additional lights I needed, and I cooked our favorite veggie burgers for dinner, and our cats hardly fought at ALL today. Awesome, but boring!

Now, please enjoy the slightly-less-alternative, but always appropriate sounds of the dearly departed Tom Petty, a Floridian, and my imaginary dad (someday I’ll blog about that) who knew not to mention snow or the cold in his Christmas song:

Things I Just Don’t Fucking Understand: My Own Worst Enemy

I know I probably come off as a pretty angry person due to these posts, and you probably imagine me yelling at people a lot in real life, but, Dear Reader, I promise you, I’m actually pretty chill. Some might even call me nice. Too nice. Nice to the point where I let people walk all over me on occasion. And so nice I will walk all over myself.

Someone was on the phone while in the bathroom at work today. The public restroom. Talking. I really want to not care what people do, but I wish people wouldn’t try to hold phone conversations in echo chambers because I am such a spaz that I insist on being extra quiet so I don’t disturb them. How fucked up is that? The answer is: totally fucked.

And it’s no one’s problem but my own, I acknowledge that wholeheartedly, but this is the person that I am, and if bitching about it on the internet is my only reprieve then just let it be, okay?

So someone’s in the disabled stall on their phone having their conversation, and I’m being extra dainty in my stall, not that anything I’m doing would make that much noise, mind you, since I don’t shit at work. But I’m being delicate and quiet nonetheless.

It’s also the first day of my period, so I’ve got a tampon in my pocket. I pull it out extra quietly, and I open the wrapper even more quietly than I would normally because gods forbid the other women in the restroom know what you’re doing in the privacy of your own stall which happens to also be the only fucking place you could possibly change a tampon anyway.

So in taking extra care to be quiet, I inexplicable also am very soft-handed, barely gripping the plastic applicator. Don’t interrupt the woman speaking very loudly about her child to someone who is not doing a very good job watching them, I hiss at myself, disposing of the wrapper. And then, tragedy. A perfectly good tampon slips out of my hands and onto the disgusting public restroom floor.

I binned it, of course, and since it’s day one I had to create a makeshift toilet paper pad and waddle back to my desk where I decided to wait it out til I had to pee again which was inevitably less an hour later.

It ended up being totally fine because whatever, that’s life, right? But I’m really amazed at myself here. Amazed at the idiocy. Why did I let that happen? Why can my grip be so easily influenced by some stranger who I know, logically, would not care if they heard me fiddling with sanitary products and even if they did care THAT’S RIDICULOUS AND NOT MY PROBLEM? Why is this who I am?

I pondered this for way too long today. It even depressed me a little. But then, THEN, there was a tub of chocolates left out for our department and honestly, it mattered so very little after that. I almost stopped asking myself why I do this to myself.

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Also I Hate The Word “Fleek”

Some people have really strong feelings about things that they really shouldn’t. Like, some people HATE pumpkin spice as if pumpkin spice personally hurt them. Like pumpkin spice broke up with them via text message. Like pumpkin spice punched their mom in the face. Like pumpkin spice used the key they gave it “for emergencies only” while they were on vacation and had a gang bang with strawberry acai and white chocolate mocha in their marital bed. But the truth is, pumpkin spice never did anything to anybody, and while the kind of hate pumpkin spice (or any “basic bitch” bullshit) gets is way too complicated for this blog post, it’s a great example of something that doesn’t deserve the treatment it gets, and I need you to know this post is self aware. I’m about to say something, and you’re going to think I’m a huge hypocrite, but bear with me, I’ll explain.

I. Hate. Eyebrows.

I hate those thick fucking, fake-ass, perfectly square, stamped-on-looking, woolly bear bitches the most–if you’ve been on the internet, you know the ones: Instagram brows. Now, like I said, this post is self aware. I should NOT hate eyebrows, and even more so I shouldn’t hate painstakingly cultivated ones. Eyebrows didn’t kill my father. They didn’t kick my cat. Eyebrows didn’t vote for Donald Trump. Eyebrows are honestly one of the least possibly offensive things. And yet…

Eyebrows, or rather, what they have become, offend me to my very core, and it’s mostly for this simple fact: the same people who made fun of a naturally thick-browed, ten year old me are the ones instagramming and praising these mile-high, drawn-on abominations.

Eyebrowminations.

Here’s the thing: I don’t give a shit what people do with their own bodies. Yes, I would encourage you to be healthy, but if you choose to fill yourself with crap then so be it. If you choose to tattoo a portrait of Dolly Parton on your left temple then by god, you do you–you could honestly have chosen much worse. Pierce your butthole closed for all I care. What I hate about the current brow trend is not really that it exists, but that it’s so insincere.

And not in the way that most fashion is insincere. Sure, people follow trends because they’re cool, but I’d reckon there are more than a handful of people who actually like how certain trends look, or at least grow to like them. My mom fondly looks back at her Farrah Fawcett feathered hair and would most definitely still have it if she hadn’t succumbed to peer pressure a mere four years ago. But the thing with this eyebrow debacle (debrowcle) is that no one really likes thick brows, they just like painting really wide, tapered, arching lines on their foreheads.

Yes, I am salty. Salty AF, some might say, because this girl has gone through hell and back to minimize her own brows at the behest of society. I have shaved, waxed, plucked, and threaded these little furry assholes into shape for years because I am weak and care way too much what people think of me. And you’re telling me I just could have waited it out til 2015? No, I couldn’t have, because what I got going on, which are actual, real life, thick brows, are not at all what’s being touted all over Youtube as a “natural brow look.”

I blew up at one of my best friends back when I was 20 or so. She had these gorgeous, delicate, wonderfully shaped brows that were so effortless. At least, that’s how I saw them; I am sure she, like most people, has a very different view of her own body. Regardless, if I could have replaced my own brows with replicas of hers, I would have done so in an instant and never touched them again. She texted me one day, very excited, to say she’d had her brows waxed. I should have been excited for her, supportive, asked questions about the process, anything but what I did which was basically berate her. If her brows weren’t good enough, then mine would never be. Besides a whole boatload of other shit I was going through at the time that no doubt contributed to my fuckery, I was too filled with self loathing to support my friend, and told her that her decision was dumb. Eyebrows made me selfish, and that’s one of the worst things you can be.

And this was before the big box brow trend even started!

So yes, I’m salty about the whole thing and I’ve grown to just loathe eyebrows. I hate the effort that has to be put into them, I hate that that effort is so incredibly painful, and I hate how shitty they make me feel about myself.

But I shouldn’t hate eyebrows. They serve a purpose. I was going to make this a Thing I Don’t Fucking Understand, but I actually do understand them. I get the totally fucked up desire to want to be pretty and doing the dumbest possible things to get that way, but I’m never going to stop hating eyebrows. Maybe someday I’ll shave them off completely. That might even be a trend on the horizon. And I’ll probably be salty about that.

But for now all I can saw is this, all of this nonsense, is browdiculous!