Bullies

October 23rd, 2013

welcome to the dollhouse

 

Unlike gun control, the subject of bullying seems to be maintaining some traction in social media and elsewhere. Now we have a 12 year old girl who killed herself following a long reign of terror by schoolmates who even gloated after her death.

Yesterday, I read about a father who had taken to Facebook to denounce the bullying that preceded his son’s suicide, and was subjected to a barrage of nasty comments.

The two responses that bother me most are these:

“Kids have always been mean and there’s nothing you can do to change that.”

and:

“Parents should monitor what their kids do online.”

Both are just excuses for maintaining the status quo, and the status quo is pretty fucking alarming.

I don’t believe that kids are born mean, or that bullying is a developmental phase that is hard-wired and natural. The old adage that Kids are Just Mean is as stupid as the injunction that allowed parents to beat their children with impunity: Spare the rod and spoil the child. We now agree that the latter is outrageous. It has been a slow change in our culture but nonetheless it is a significant shift in thinking and behavior.

I think that our culture can eliminate bullying by a concerted effort at home, in child-rearing, at school, and in legislation, to make it clear that bullying is socially unacceptable, period. Where it occurs, just like smacking your kids around, it should result in sanctions like fines or hearings in Juvenile court.

The opportunities for bullying have obviously multiplied with new technology. There are brand new platforms for bullying every day. Like the news cycle, the bullying cycle is now 24/7. There is no safe place for a kid unlucky enough to be targeted by bullies. You can’t just go home and watch TV to forget about it.

When I talk about cyberbullying with friends, they tend to blame the victim for going online or using their smart-phone. But that’s what kids do! Why should a kid have to give up this means of recreation to stay safe from other kids urging them to drink bleach and kill themselves?

A couple of months ago, I read about a programmer who had developed an algorithm that Facebook could use to raise a red flag for bullying or suicidal ideation. But guess what? Facebook was not interested. They are busy suspending users for posting depictions of nudity for other adult friends and followers. The safety of teens is a non-issue to Facebook. In fact, Facebook has just relaxed its restrictions on teen users, to compete with other forms of social media that are gaining popularity with that demographic.

Bullying is out of control. Most schools just give lip service to “Zero Tolerance.” This is clear in every tragic news story and in my own experience as a mom. We need to agree as a culture that kids are people, with the same rights to safety and dignity as adults. Kids can be fragile and insecure and kids can be angry enough about their home-lives that they seek relief by abusing someone they perceive as weaker. We need to intervene.

Bully_Rules_poster

 

Thoughts, anyone?

Manifesto of Limitations

October 17th, 2013

The Murays Midgets,7 tripplet brothers, age 19 yearsbutterfly-lady-new

I can only look at art or photography. But no nudes or kitsch. No cats, No pictures of food or girls wearing hats. No ironic memes. No selfies. I can no longer wear thongs or socks. I can only eat cookies.

I can’t sleep until I’ve watched two hours of ‘Morning Joe.’ Until Joe and Mika and Willie and their guests have deplored the state of things and gushed about yesterday’s football games.

I can’t stop playing with my hair. I cut my split ends in the car. Not when I’m driving. I can’t pass a mirror without checking to see if my hair is okay. I can barely see because my glasses are too old.

I can only enjoy reruns of Breaking Bad or crime TV. I can only read the New Yorker and The Atlantic. When I hear someone on TV use the wrong word, I am incensed. “It’s ‘repentant’ not ‘pentent’, you stupid cunt!”

None of those Affirmations about how to live apply to me. I have already fucked things up.

But. I am comforted by coffee, jewelry, lipstick, midgets, showgirls, nuns, Indian and Persian Royalty, Cuban and Peruvian photographers, Victorian acrobats and cross-dressers.

I love my bed! If only I could sleep forever and ever.

Open Letters to Miley, Sinead, et al

October 8th, 2013

miley and sinead

 

While the US Congress attempts to hasten the Rapture, I think we should all take time to write some open letters to Miley, Sinead, and all those who have inserted themselves into the melee - Ann Magnuson, Amanda Palmer, Brooke Shields, and Annie Lennox, thus far.

If you’ve been dying to get in on this, here’s your chance!

I will begin:

Dear Miley, I saw you on SNL and I read about you in Rolling Stone. I don’t know why your face is so flat. Also, were you born with a hare lip or not? I don’t care about your body or your tongue, although I wouldn’t mind if you put on a little weight. Also, I’m sorry your father molested you. However, this doesn’t mean you should ridicule poor Sinead for needing mental health services. That was a pretty fucked up move. You could help out by supporting mental health services and working to de-stigmatize mental illness. Otherwise, do whatever you need to do.  Love, Sister Wolf.

Dear Sinead, I love you. I have always loved you. Your shaved head, your brilliant early records, your anti-Catholicism, your boyfriends, your kids, your rebellious emotional frankness, rage on, girl! But don’t expect that bitch Miley to apologize. Mean girls never apologize, ever. Stupid people can’t get enlightened because that’s just how it works. I wish you’d accept my apology on behalf of Miley! Then you could get back to whatever you were doing. Love, Sister Wolf.

Okay, your turn.

Beautiful Leg

October 1st, 2013

Kiera Roche - floral leg

 

Before today, I have felt offended by images of prosthetic limbs that seemed to fetishize amputees.

Even though it’s none of my business what people fetishize, I will always remember the doctor who told Max to consider having his leg amputated. Max was visibly upset, but somewhat resigned. Everything was as bad as it could be for him, so why not this new development, too. As it turned out, his surgeon disagreed. Further surgery and physical therapy could save the leg. But pictures of prosthetic legs continued to fill me with anger and despair.

Losing a leg seemed indescribably horrible and unfair. But it happens. And clearly there are plenty of people who cope with this loss and don’t let it ruin their lives.

Kiera Roche is a strong-willed amputee who has challenged herself with cycling and hiking. She has struggled with ideas of ‘normal’ and looking different. She loves her beautiful new floral leg, and I love it too.

Kiera and Anna

 

Keira and her beautiful leg have changed my thinking about amputees. I am grateful to have come across The Alternative Limb Project. I feel enlightened on a subject where my mind was once closed.

~

photos (c) the alternative limb project

The Horror of Facebook

September 26th, 2013

horror of facebook

 

I have been spending more and more time on Facebook, and learning how it substitutes for actually living your life.

People who hang out there are losers, like me, or else they’d be doing something out in the world. They wouldn’t need to share every thought or meal or wisecrack with a bunch of imaginary friends.

I noticed this a few weeks ago when I spent hours chatting with a complete stranger, based on a shared taste in art and books. I tried to ignore his increasing references to asses. He liked big asses. Which was fine with me, up to a point. After a while, apropos of something, I told him about Max.

He expressed dismay and then excitedly started a list of other people with dead children. He had an impressive fluency here, even throwing in Paul Newman.

I said goodbye and blocked him. But it was my own fault for buying into the imaginary friend illusion propagated by Facebook and all “social media” I guess.

Still, I enjoyed looking at the pictures people posted and I often laughed out loud at conversations with my new imaginary friends. One of them even sent me a package of vintage gloves! She is really smart and miserable: a good description of many of my real life friends, too.

I also enjoy jumping into debates, usually without much consequence.

Tonight, I was upset when one Facebook person I really like expressed his despair over a friend’s death. Lots of people commented on his ‘status’, some offering words of condolence. Others wanted to point out that they had experienced things just as bad or worse. I could see it turning into a competition. I struggled to keep my opinions to myself, even when someone posted a depressing Leonard Cohen song in this thread, as if Leonard Cohen is a good antidote to despair.

Then, someone posted a video of the song “People Who Died” by Jim Carroll. If you don’t know it, it’s a litany of the writer’s dead friends.

I stupidly commented, “I don’t think this is useful, with all due respect.”

This was greeted with righteous fury that devolved into a whole back and forth where I politely apologized but the woman got madder and madder. Her friends jumped in to call me names. One of them said “People are fucking unbelievable!” and a million people liked his comment…including the original “friend” I was defending.

Ooooooooooh, right? When a gang of imaginary people go off  on you, it’s a singular experience like no other. You can smell the feeding frenzy, which takes on a life of its own. It has nothing to do with anything you actually said or did. It’s just people feeling exhilarated by getting to gang up on someone.

I have already payed my dues with malicious strangers. But thank god something happened to steer me away from the tragic black hole that is Facebook.

Now I’m Mad.

September 18th, 2013

MAC RiRi Woo

 

I just found out that MAC produced this beautiful red lipstick without telling me, and it sold out in three hours. This is a fucking outrage. I blame everybody.

It was part of MAC’s collaboration with Rihanna, whose lipstick is one of the few good things abut her, in my opinion. I also like her subtle pink ‘THUG LIFE’ knuckles tattoo.

Anyway, I’m mad but I will go on living because MAC is bringing back “RiRi Woo” in October, and it will look like this:

rihanna-mac-3

 

Here is the excitingest part – it looks almost exactly like my all-time favorite matte red, Ruby Woo, but IT’S STILL DIFFERENT! Look:  Riri Woo on the left, Ruby Woo on the right.

MAC-RiRi-Woo-and-MAC-Ruby-Woo

 

Godammit!!!! Right??

If I don’t get this lipstick, there will be consequences.

A Terrible Story: Weigh In

September 11th, 2013

Kelli Stapleton is in jail without bond, for the attempted murder of her daughter Issy.

Kelli has documented her challenges as Issy’s mom in a blog called ‘The Status Woe.’ Issy is a lovely blonde 14 year old who is autistic. I’m not sure about Issy’s complete diagnosis but clearly the main problem has been her aggression. And her aggression is aimed primarily at her mother.

Kelli has been hospitalized twice following attacks by her daughter. Watch the video above to see what it looks like when there is an aggressive outburst.

Last week, Issy came home from 20 days at a treatment center whose complete program was too costly for her family to afford. They were hopeful about a new behavioral plan for Issy. But it didn’t work out.

Kelli managed to get her daughter into the family van, and then tried to kill herself and Issy via carbon monoxide poisoning. When they were found, both were unconscious. Kelli recovered quickly but Issy remained in a coma. Issy’s prognosis was not good.

But miraculously, Issy has recovered without brain damage.

Now what?

Is Kelli a monster? Is murdering your child ever anything but a capital crime and a mortal sin? Is sympathizing with Kelli tantamount to approving her actions? Should Issy’s parents have kept her at home, despite the obvious inherent danger? What if you love your child and can’t bear to have them institutionalized?

Isn’t the attempted murder of a disabled person the same as the attempted murder of any person? If not, why not?

Can you forgive Kelli?

I want to know what you think.

 

The Inner Sting

September 5th, 2013

Roona Begum with mother

 

This picture of Roona Begum and her mother says everything I could ever say about everything. I have not been able to stop thinking about it.

Primarily, I see love. I see the absence of god.

I discussed the picture with my psychiatrist, who wants to help me find a space where my life feels worthy or livable. We talked about how I identify with both the mother and the child.

I noted that among the array of emotions stirred by this image, I managed to feel resentment: Why did this family have to start a kickstarter fund to raise $65,000 for Roona’s surgery?! $65,000 is such a negligible amount for someone like Sting, for example.

WHY DIDN’T STING PAY FOR THE SURGERY, I ranted.

We talked about some other stuff, about the best use of resources for reducing poverty and hunger in places like India.

In exasperation, he concluded, “Fuck Sting! You can do something, too. You want to help people and you can. There are people right now who could use your help!”

He knows that helping others is the only salvation for me. I said, “So you mean, you want me to find my Inner Sting?”

We both laughed.

I tried to deflect the obligation of finding my Inner Sting with a quote that I couldn’t quite remember, saying “Well, what about if I only stand and wait, like Churchill said.”

Naturally, he was mystified, because I just looked it up and the quote is by John Milton: “They also serve who only stand and wait.”

But Milton wasn’t talking about me. I have stood and waited my whole life, it seems like. I must struggle to find my Inner Sting, even though I can hardly stay awake or stay asleep, and getting off the couch feels like a huge undertaking.

Okay, I’m Sixty!

September 5th, 2013

bday dinner alehouse

Now what?

Your Go-to Boots for Fall

August 27th, 2013

Philip Lim peeptoe

These boots by Philip Lim are my first choice.  Not only do they look like a boot giving birth to another boot (or a parasitic twin) but they have an open-toe, convenient for testing the weather.

Philip Lim issa

Plus, they sag nicely in the back.  $850.00

Fendi bootie

These Fendi booties are obviously a no-brainer. Versatile, practical, what’s not to like? $1,700.00

Christian Louboutin ankle boot

 

Finally, I know these are the tiniest bit flashy, but these Christian Louboutin booties are so fierce, right? You could easily be mistaken for a real biker or punk, and how cool is that?  $1,995.000

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