In Defense of Babies’ Rights

babiesrights

In this day of hyper-stylized political sensitivity and outrage over perceived “income gaps” and “gender inequality,” it is truly appalling how willingly society turns a blind eye to the terrible plight of a huge portion of our American population. I refer, of course, to babies. These silent sufferers are objectified, victimized, and discriminated against on a daily basis. How long will we ignore their high-pitched cries? If the following list of outrages moves you to tears, please consider signing this petition.

babiesrights2

STOP THE MASS EXPLOITATION OF BABIES!

We, the undersigned, urge the Government of the United States to CEASE its SHAMEFUL conduct toward the infanta americana, colloquially known as BABIES. We hereby protest the pervasive and unjust treatment of this valuable people-group as demonstrated in the following abusive societal trends that are TO THIS DAY unrecognized by those in power:

1. Babies are victims of sizeism and unfair beauty standards.

Our society professes to accept alternate shapes and sizes, yet babies are glaringly absent from this dialogue of tolerance. If you are unfortunate enough to be an American baby, you live under crushing social pressure to be “chubby,” “roly-poly,” or a “butterball.” Woe to the skinny baby who just wants to drink green juice! A baby who does not conform to our outdated, narrow-minded beauty standards (characterized by offensive adjectives such as “cute,” “squirmy,” “squishable,” and “drooly”) experiences blatant discrimination, while his/her chubbier compatriots receive the preferential treatment that has characterized the privileged class from time immemorial.

2. Babies are denied access to higher education and better-paying jobs.

There is a shocking dearth of federal laws in place to protect the educational and employment rights of babies. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin–yet what of the ambitious baby who applies to Lehman Brothers? No law prohibits discrimination against him. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older–yet even this so-called “progressive” law turns a blind eye to the plight of those 2 years of age or younger. The situation in colleges across the nations is much the same: while it is federally forbidden to discriminate against a college applicant based on disability, race, gender, or a host of other qualifiers, Harvard has existed for 377 lauded years without once admitting a baby.

3. Babies are forced to learn the dominant language of the privileged heteronormative white Western male.

Generation after generation of monolingual Americans have ignored this issue for long enough. It is time to implement the study of Baby in language programs across the United States. Not even Rosetta Stone has addressed this problem.

4. Babies are objectified by the Adult Gaze.

Babies are presented in film, music videos, Anne Geddes photo shoots, and family gatherings as little more than passive, to-be-looked-at objects. The figure of the baby is fragmented into “tiny fingers,” “squeezable cheeks,” “dimpled thighs,” etc., fragments whose sole meaning is derived from and dependent on the viewing pleasure of the despotic Adult. Babies are clothed in useless accoutrements such as headbands (when they have no hair) and socks that imitate shoes (when they cannot walk). What benefit does the baby receive from these shallow signifiers of adulthood? They are nothing but tools to advance the scopophilia of the Adult Gaze.

5. Babies are subject to a restrictive, reactionary dialectic w/r/t  “crying.”

When a baby screams or cries, society reacts as it has for millenia: by naively assuming that the infant is expressing a basic human need. Politicians, social theorists, psychoanalysts, and biologists have purposefully and consistently refused to give the matter the scientific and academic attention it deserves. Perhaps a baby’s cry signifies more than the prevailing patriarchal/matriarchal interpretations of “hungry,” “tired,” and/or “dirty diaper.” Perhaps these babes in the woods are shrieking in existential terror as they gaze into the depths of the abyss.

6. Babies are forced to be nude in public.

Societal outrage abounds at the unethical actions of Dov Charney, the founder of American Apparel, who infamously demeans his models. But when a baby is placed naked on the beach by his or her parents, the world blinks nary an eyelash. We demand that the baby is first consulted about his/her willingness to appear nude, and then asked to sign a Nude Model Release and Agreement contract. This exploitative parental behavior must be stopped.

babiesrights3

Love List #4

IMG_2206

1. SPRING FLOWERS.

2. The week finally being over. It seems like everything in my little world was due this week (a paper, a story, freelance assignments, a shower–whoops, didn’t quite manage to fit that one in) and I am currently rocking some serious sleep deprivation. But the week is done, the paper is written, the scripts are emailed, the story is paginated, whatever that means, not quite sure if I used it correctly, and I have a full bag of LINDOR Truffles within arm’s reach. Things are looking up.

3. Finally, finally, finally beating my boyfriend in bowling…after half a pitcher of beer, wearing an adorable outfit, and managing to be nice the entire time which is more than certain ultra-competitive men in my life can say for themselves. Also got a personal high score of 97, no big. ANYONE WANT ME ON THEIR LEAGUE?

4. Writing for Thought Catalog. This is the beginning of a great relationship I JUST KNOW IT RIGHT THOUGHT CATALOG? *leans way too fast for an awkward hug*

5. The sun. For a couple weeks there I was pretty sure it skipped town for another galaxy and I was wondering why we were all still alive and questioning everything I learned in my undergraduate astronomy class.

6. Not being run over by a bus. I think this is one we can all be grateful for (except for those of you who were run over by a bus this week).

7. The season finale of Pretty Little Liars. I’m kind of obsessed with how they’ve completely abandoned all narrative consistency for the sake of instant drama: bring back minor characters and have them do mysterious creepy things as seen through windows! Burn down houses! Have someone fly a plane! Imply that Jenna is bisexual! Gosh I love a good guilty pleasure.

8. Perspective. It’s easy to lose, but it makes everything click into place. For instance, I really want this girl’s life, but when I think about my life in comparison to people who, oh let’s see, stare death in the face every single day…sitting at my antique desk, rambling away on toridotgov is looking like a pretty sweet (unpaid) gig. I don’t, however, think the proper response to perspective is guilt–which is such an awful, pervasive emotion. I think it’s gratitude. And joy. And maybe donating some money. Or time. And being genuinely happy about the truffles, whenever life flings ’em your way.

Suitable Thoughts While Eating Quinoa

1. I am an ancient Aztec!!!!!!!!!!

2. Wait, is quinoa an ancient grain? Or is that farro?

3. I’d Google it, but opening up another tab just makes me want to die of Internet over-exposure, given that I already have open tabs for Gmail, Facebook, screenwriting competitions that I will never apply to because of the $60 entry fee, a Google search for “cheap easy free meal,” and 5-10 different pop-ups at any given time that promise to find me “aggressive Russian babes in Bloomington, IN.”

4. Does the Pope eat quinoa?

5. Gosh I’m being so healthy by eating this ancient grain. If it is indeed an ancient grain. Just think of all the terrible things I could be eating instead: Brie, champagne, chalk, mud, baby powder, shampoo, eye serum, anti-wrinkle face mask, noncomedogenic sunscreen.

6. I just poured raw sugar all over my quinoa. Now it’s crunchy and sweet. Just like carrots (or so I hear).

7. Man, the Aztecs really got screwed over by the Spaniards. (Feels sad about it for one second.) (Moves on.)

8. I’m saving sooo much money by eating this bowl of quinoa instead of doing what I really want to be doing, which is starting a start-up for start-ups in deepest Africa. (Snickers.) Oh I’m sorry did I just subtly mock naive idealism? I could have sworn I typed “…what I really want to be doing, which is guzzling coffee and sour cream coffee cake while engaging in a terrifying stare-down with a local baby.”

9. True, true, quinoa is super cheap, but something about it feels so…yuppie.

10. Does this make me the 1%? On a global scale? Granted, I have less than $6 in my checking account, but there are people who will never even have the resources to Google “quinoa,” let alone eat a whole bowl of anything except for perhaps RANCID LAKEWATER.

11. I KILLED THE AZTECS.

Things That Are Whack, Part 2

grandpacharlie

A long, long time ago, my boyfriend and I wrote one of the most popular posts to date on Toridotgovdotcom: Things That Are Whack. We composed this list of things we just aren’t down with after re-watching everyone’s favorite indie flick, Rachel Getting Married, and realizing how self-indulgent and fraudulent the whole movie actually was. A few months later, we composed another list of things that are, in fact, whack–but for whatever reason, I never posted it. Which was definitely whack.

THINGS THAT ARE WHACK, PART 2

Boyfriends who act offended when you tease them

People who publicly discuss books

A quiet afternoon spent browsing through records/books

Trying to look like Bob Dylan

Moleskines

Bikers

People who are self-consciously courteous/cheerful to public service employees

People who think Crazy Heart was profound

People who think Wimbleton (the movie) isn’t art

Most art hanging in coffee shops

White boys who say righteous (“What? I’ve said righteous since I was literally in sixth grade! I have the final exam to prove it!” – Charlie)

Friday Love List

hahahaha

I really wanted to call this “Fwiday Love List” but I was terrified at the massive repercussions this liberal use of the word “Friday” would have throughout the Internet. So I remained traditional. Because people are afraid of change. Terrified, I tell you. You may have elected Barack SADDAM HUSSEIN NIETZSCHE CHAIRMAN MAO Obama but you won’t wear more than a “splash” of neon. And lemme tell you something, neon is not for accenting.

Psychotic capslock aside, I’m getting to like this little ritual:

1. SPRING BREAK

Apparently it’s a thing once you’re back in academia! While part of me wishes I was roadtripping to Cabo with my girls, a suitcase full of polka-dot bikinis, and a mix tape solely featuring early 2000 Britney, a larger part of me realizes that one of my undergraduate students is going to Cabo, and I just can’t even deal with ducking behind palm trees right now while trying to buy some valuable stock in the killing-tourists-and-stuffing-their-bodies-with-cocaine drug trafficking biz. So instead I’m going to the Cabo of the Midwest. ChicAg(B)O. AND I CANNOT WAIT.

2. BOTTLE ROCKET

I have never truly had a favorite movie before (well that’s not entirely true–I was obsessed with The Emperor’s New Groove for all of college), but now I do. And its name is Bottle Rocket. And it is the funniest thing I have ever seen and has the best ending of my life. And if I don’t become friends with Owen Wilson in this lifetime, something will have gone very wrong (that “something” being my plan to climb over his hedges and station myself just inside his front door until he learns to love me).

3. BEING DONE WITH THINGS

Is anything better? Done with a presentation on 2666, done grading my students’ exams and portfolios, done doing my laundry. Aaaahhhhh.

4. A SHORT FILM IN THE WORKS

I wrote it while watching Bottle Rocket. I kept getting inspired and stopping the movie to jot things down. OWE YOU ONE, WES ANDERSON! Hopefully this isn’t a classic case of cryptomnesia. And I have not one but TWO high-powered producers (<–pals w/ the Vine app) who want to make it. Probably. As long as it’s not accidentally Bottle Rocket in condensed form.

5. NOT LIKING INDIE ROCK

Yeah it makes me cool! Give me your Becks, your Grizzly Bears, your Shins, your Antler Hoof Eyes, and I will RUN THEM OFF THE ROAD. Using the car that I’m saving up to get. With my…

6. TAX RETURN

Quitting my job 3 months early sure paid off this tax year, baby! Hellooooo lower income tax bracket. Good to see you again. Last time we met I believe I was working at the Starbucks in La Grange. Good times. Good times. I used to add mounds of steamed soymilk to their blueberry tea and drink it on my break. Not sure why.

The Impossible Story

erik-christine-01

I think every writer who’s not completely emotionally dead inside (so um…Santa?) has one story that they’ve always wanted to write but somehow can’t. Maybe it’s the story of the wreckage of a love, or a family member’s destruction. Something painful and intimate that for whatever reason cannot be touched yet. Blah blah blah cry me a river it’s so hard to be a human being let’s all watch Girls and relate to the Twitter references.

I’m working on a story right now that’s impossible to write. But, um: THIS SHOULD NOT BE MY IMPOSSIBLE STORY. It’s not at all autobiographical (there are autobiographical elements from your life, actually, because I watch through your window every night, sharpening the teeth of a small but deadly kitten). It’s a creepy story about siblings, which is pretty much my  forte. And I have been working on it since a little epoch I like to call the year 2011. Even worse, this is my fourth version. Not my fourth draft. My fourth VERSION. I have deleted the creepily aggressive neighbor who falls into the pool and dies. And I have changed some adjectives.

What is it about this story that is so impossible for me to write? I keep trying to psychoanalyze my way out of this one but maybe it’s just a flawed story. Have I tried to pack too much emotional despair into one character? Should I take out the killer clown, the bride of Frankenstein, and the DUDE THAT TALKS WAY TOO LOUDLY ON HIS CELL PHONE IN THIS COFFEE SHOP (I see you, cell phone dude, and I want to do unspeakable things to your phone)? The problem is–I think it’s a really great concept, insofar as I’m allowed to say that I’ve come up with a “great concept” without sounding like an “arrogant jerk.” Maybe I should make a moodboard. IS THAT WHAT THIS STORY NEEDS? ITS OWN PINTEREST BOARD?

It’s not writer’s block, it’s writer’s WTF. Has anyone else ever experienced this? Am I merely placing a clammy finger on the dying pulse of an art form ahead of everyone else? (THAT WAS A JOKE BUT IT KIND OF FELT REAL, HUH?)

Things I’m Genuinely Bad At

IMG_2041

In this age of self-help books and post-postmodern selfawareness and black holes that creep ever closer to our lonely planet, threatening to incinerate us into ash (shh, just go with the imagery), it’s important to occasionally take a good hard look at things we are bad at. File this under Getting Real, my friends. You are probably never going to be a pop star and I am probably never going to be a neuroscientist, so it’s time to let certain dreams go so that we can focus on what’s truly important: making a lot of money while looking hot.

I’ll start: here are eleven things I’m truly terrible at doing. If life were a Ferris Wheel, I’d be on the bottom rung in these vicious arenas (TRIPLE MIXED METAPHOR–HAS THAT EVER BEEN DONE BEFORE?!).

1. Drawing. I can’t even draw a circle, much less forge a Picasso well enough to buy myself a car. Note that I once almost spent $50 at Blick Art Supply. What can I say? I am a creature of delusion.

2. Sight-reading. Musicians, you have my undying respect. HOW DO THOSE LITTLE BLACK SQUIGGLES TRANSLATE INTO SOUNDS IN YOUR HEAD? YES I TOOK PIANO FOR 13 YEARS, I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.

3. [FORMERLY] Salting things. I have, however, improved greatly, thanks to a certain incident with homemade apple cider caramels.

4. Throwing away clothing tags. I always feel like I might want to return it, and that if so, I could somehow reattach the tag, even if I’ve already worn the clothing item to the biannual Bloomington Homeless Mudslinging Contest. I realize this makes me 1 step away from a bag lady.

5. Watching horror movies. Cue a bare branch skittering against a frosty window—cue me on the floor in a dead faint.

6. Returning emails. As you know, I hate the Internet.

7. Accepting genuine help from other people. Doesn’t that make me such a brave, tragic figure?

8. [FORMERLY] Waking up/being a morning person. But now that my fabulous roommate is letting me use her juicer, I have lots of incentive to get up early and shove gnarly kale stems through a loud crunching thing that’s sort of like teeth!

9. Finishing large salads. I am just NOT a salad person. And this is NOT me trying to be the “cool girl”–I don’t eat burgers and I hate beer, so you can just let go of the mental image of me in a White Sox hat, shoveling down stadium nachos like one of the bros (OH WAIT THAT HAPPENED). Please note: small salads, I’m cool with.

10. Making regret-free purchases. Anyone who has ever shopped for clothes with me has probably also wanted to kill me. I can deliberate for hours over the smallest incidentals, and I yell things from the dressing room like, “I mean, I’m worried it might stretch out a little?” and “Is this floral pattern too similar to that baggy overshirt I got at Village Discount that I have literally never worn?” What can I say? I’m 50% Scottish, AND WE STINGY.

11. Knowing which of my emotions are real and which are byproducts of delusional perfection fantasies. It’s fun to  be a gUrL.

Now you know lots about me. What r u bad at?