I like to find "Time Management" readings for the students coming into my Human Development courses, and I come across a lot of good tips for my students. But, by far, the most pertinent advice is that which puts Time Management against "Value." When I say value, I'm not going for a consumerist definition, though that is actually valid. Making money feeds your family and your hobbies. And how much time should you spend washing your car if you don't enjoy it, if an hour's worth of your time is worth more than the 8 dollars you shell out for the automatic wash? More accurately, I am defining value as something that is of great emotional worth to you: your children, your family, your religion, your career, etc. (Image above was taken from TheAtlantic.com)
What I don't like about most articles written on time management and values is that they are aimed at guilting people into spending more time doing things society thinks they should value, rather than helping people evaluate their behaviors. So, let me take a moment to admit something: I spend too much time watching funny internet videos, socializing online and online shop browsing. I am not saying that all those things are wasteful or have no value. Laughter and lightheartedness are things I value and funny internet videos help satiate that small need. Speaking to my friends and family and encouraging their interests online is important. Maintaining my online author network is important. I value my family and friends and fans, and want to spend time connecting with them. Shopping online is not important and I should stop doing it, but sometimes when I'm manic I really want to buy things, and even if I hide my cards and just browse it makes me feel awful and greedy. So, that's time I could be spending making play dough with my kids or just vacuuming, which would be more productive.
I don't want my students to come away from my class feeling guilty or thinking that I don't waste time. Rather, I want them to evaluate the things they love to do and build their lives around those things, so they are more successful and happy. Indeed, I want that for myself. So, there are good reasons for making a list of items that you value, and I encourage you to do so right now. With one condition: be honest. If you hate what you do for a living, go ahead and put it at the bottom of your list. I'm not going to read it. Here, I'll do it with you:
1. Kids and husband
3. Extended friends and family
7. Time to relax
8. Time to Workout
There are more things I like to fit into my life, but these are high on the list. Now, think about what you did yesterday and write down the time (approximate) you spent on those activities, and reorganize them by the longest time spent to the shortest time spent. Hard to do? Some overlap? Yes, I know. I'm going to put some of the time spent on FB or Twitter as #3, since that's how I speak to many of my friends and family members, and I'm going to put blogging under #4 since that's a form of writing I enjoy but it could also fit under #9 (and crossover is okay because when you can kill two birds with one stone, that rocks). Okay, so I'll be honest with you all. This is what my chart looks like from yesterday (and every day varies a little):
1. Relaxing (this is really just sleeping and sitting once in a while, 7hrs sleep + 3 hrs sitting and holding kids/reading/just resting my mind grapes= 10 hrs)
2. Family Needs Time (cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, playing, teaching and speaking to my kids/husband 8 hrs)
3. Socializing (about 5 hours online with emails and various social networks, including phone and text)
4. Writing (blogging, class planning, some social writing and poetry/fiction writing for about 4 hours)
5. Fitness (1-2 hours combo walking, various stretches and strength training, gardening)
6. Reading (1-2 hours book, blog, news article reading)
7. Watching online videos (1-2 hours)
8. Spirituality (10 min prayer)
Am I ashamed of this chart? Eh. It's not perfect, for sure. I spent way more time socializing than I needed to. To be completely honest, a lot of the time spent with the kids was trying to get them to play quietly so I could get writing done or just rest my mind. And it's just kind of embarrassing that I spent 10 minutes on praying/thinking of other people. I know that these time frames aren't perfect, and that they don't even add up to 24 hrs. That's because a lot of my activities cross over, and because I multi-task a lot. I had very little time left for creative hobbies outside of writing. I would have liked to spend less of the day cleaning and more of it playing with the kids, and I really didn't need to watch Buzzfeed videos for longer than 15 min. Overall, though, it's not terrible, if it could use some tweaking.
The main idea of this exercise (and I suggest doing a list after every night for a week) is to show you how busy you really are and what you are really busy with. Not to make you feel guilty, but to make you understand how your values and your time do not always align. Will you ever be able to make them fall into place? Maybe not, but one can always do better.
When a student of mine complained that he had no time to read an article about cultural sovereignty (which I handed out three days in advance) I said, "I have a hard time believing that you could not rework your time to value your cultural background, but I have a more difficult time understanding why someone who clearly values his culture would not want to know more about this topic." He looked at me and smiled and said, "I could try harder in the future to make time." I smiled back, knowing that I waste time, too, that I fall short of perfect, but wanting to play the teacher, "It's not about making time. It's about reallocating time to invest in the things you really value."
We all spend time on things that are unimportant, silly or wasteful. And maybe that's how we relax, unwind, laugh. That's okay. Do that, but manage it. Rework the amount of time to align better with the things that make you truly happy. Your life is your own, your choices your own, your value your own, so if you want to value video games over other things you can. That can be on the top of your list.
Personally, the top of my list needs work, and, instead of pretending that my spirituality and family are the most important things to me, I could do a better job representing that in my life. I don't want to give up on socializing, messing around or even dress browsing, I just want to limit them so that my life can be fuller. I hope you're inspired to do the same because we have a limited amount of time with this one life, and, as far as I know, we can't go back and do it again. Though, if anyone locates a time turner, please contact me by clicking on the "contact tab" above. I could put that thing to good use. But I'd probably just watch more Buzzfeed videos.
The poem to the left was written about my husband, as many of my poems are. He is my sanity, my steadying force; an unmovable cedar tree. Bipolar people are ill, yes, and sometimes that illness manifests in social suicide. But we are aware of the people around us, especially when we are having a good day. The people we love: our spouses, partners, children, family and friends are no less precious to us than your loved ones are to you. In fact, bipolar people have a hard time keeping people around, so those few that stick are truly treasured because they are certain to be on the wrong end of our insanity at some point, and they stay anyway. My husband is that sort of person, and today, World Bipolar Day, I would like to draw attention to the people in my life who suffer with me because they love me and refuse to let me suffer alone.
I love this picture of my family to the right. To me, it embodies us. My husband sits in the middle of us, guiding us and keeping us balanced. And, as in this picture, that reality makes me very happy. Because I know that I am usually not balanced. I am unsteady, even at the best of times. I have been a shopaholic, alcoholic, raging, sagging, moping mess in my lifetime (as have many of my bipolar brethren). But my husband stays, safely guides us, tempers me and holds me accountable.
There is no "thank-you" great enough for my husband, my children, my siblings, my parents (my ever patient mother, mother-in-law, step-father and father-in-law), my family and friends who help me, are patient and loving and understanding of an illness that they can't possibly grasp. These firm, steady people should make me happy, and, indeed, they often do.
But more often I'm depressed by it all, brought down by the fact that I cannot deserve their patience and kindness, knowing that my illness means I will take more than I can give, and hating it. So what does a person, who knows she owes that little bit of sanity she enjoys, however short it is, do? Well, this person writes, a lot. I want those I love to understand me, just a little bit. And to know, even when I'm unable to communicate my appreciation and my pain, what I'm feeling. Because I always, always feel, or more appropriately, over feel. See the below instances, if you will:
Wow, thanks for that dose of appreciative depression, Hannah. Truly. That doesn't make me sad, at all, think my wonderful loved ones. Okay, yes. These poems are a bit depressing, but, then, so is my bipolar reality. Or it's off the hook high, and I scribble euphoric poetry, as fast as my hands will move, about how unstoppable and grand life is, how magical and wonderful I am. That's fun, sometimes funny, but maybe not so much to those who worry about me and know it's the flight before the fall.
My husband once voiced his concern that he was not sure who he would come home to, on any given day. This was before I was diagnosed but it's still valid, that fear. And what can I possibly say him, to anyone, except: me either. I can say thank you for trying to understand, for knowing that you'll never know what you're going to get but staying. And for encouraging me to heal with my words, with my profession. I LOVE you sticker-arounders, even when it seems that I am incapable of seeing past my own pain. And if I don't say it, I have certainly written it down somewhere in my poetry or fiction. Feel free to find yourselves there, and to look for me, too, though I'm not sure who will come when you call my name.
So what is a Boovie, you ask. It's a stupid term I just came up with, a combination of book and movie. Why create a term that looks a little like the word boobies? Two reasons. First, Boovies made the title fit more perfectly on one line. Two, many people will click on links if the word "boobies" is present. Great call, right? Thanks.
Now, to the actual content of today's writing is thinking: movies based on books and the hipster snobs that can't stop from commenting on them in the movie theaters. You can't do that! You can't call readers out like that; you're an author! Calm down, readers. I'm talking about me here (as is illustrated by the fact that hipster Belle and I look eerily similar in the above and below photos).
I cannot help myself from attending movies and sighing, commenting or being snarky about director's takes on snippets from books I enjoyed or lurved reading. People who love me and care for my sanity caution me, "Hannah, please, for the love of everyone watching the movie, just stay home. You'll only make everyone unhappy. Including yourself." That's probably true, but I have my reasons, and since you've stuck with me this long, you might as well keep reading and find out what they are...
Firstly, while this smokin' hipster photo to the right is reminiscent of a fancy author who just got signed and knows a thing or two about plot, characters and dialogue, the reality is that my childhood was a bit more awkward. That's right readers, as a kid, teen and, well, now really, I was a book nerd with very few friends. Shocking, I know! Tamora Pierce's Wild Magic Quartet, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, J.R.R. Tolkein's The Hobbit, Orwell's 1984, and J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter were my Dawson's Creek. If you don't know that reference, pat yourself on the back. Youngins: think Gossip Girl or some other more current reference.
At lunch during my Jr. High and High School years, instead of deciding who I would sit with and struggling to belong, I took to a corner and opened a book. That way, I chose my company and my company was far more amazing than the petty gossip about who slept with who that circulated the body-sprayed hormonal air around me. I was walking to the gates of Mordor with Bilbo, damnit! I was falling in love with Pierce's Numair, as surely as Daine was. I had friends and they were real to me, as were their adventures, their friends, and their struggles. I had human friends, too, and they didn't mind that I often ate with a book on my lap and sometimes lost what they were saying in my hurry to finish a chapter. That's why they are mostly still my friends. They know when I'm lost in another world, and they find it endearing. That's also why they caution me and don't tend to take me to the boovies. The know that I care too much.
No one wants to be the person seated next to the person who is harrumphing about how Katniss was far more developed, conflicted and maternal in the books. How, as cool as Jennifer Lawrence is, that's just not what Katniss looks like.That shit's annoying. Okay, you think, if those people on the screen are always going to fall short of the friends you read about, why do you go? Cue reason number two: I grew up in a visual society. As good and as crazy as my imagination is, and it's pretty wild, folks (just read my books if you don't believe me), I still want to see my friends, my favorite worlds come to life before me.
For instance, when it was announced that Harry Potter and The Socerer's Stone was hitting theaters, I'm pretty sure my reaction can best be described by the "ERHMAGERD" girl. I was FINALLY going to Hogwarts! Though, in all honesty, I was too old to go to Hogwarts. Actually, I was pretty impressed by the films. I felt like most of the directors really got the world of Hogwarts, if some of the nuance of the characters had to be cut for length reasons. But let me make this clear: I was still a little let down. I wanted more of the funny little side story lines, some minor characters who had to be cut, etc. No movie has ever fulfilled my curiosity, my empathy, my tears, my fears, my passion like the book. But I still have to see it.
Think about it like this: you're a person who has recently learned you have a long lost sister. You've never met her, but for the past year you've written her (emailed her), had late night phone conversations and really got to know her at a distance. Finally, you set up a face to face, and you're terrified, but you have to do it! All that back story, all those shared moments and lost time is all going to come to a head soon, when the real thing is before your eyes. When you meet her, you still love her, she's still your sister, but she's not exactly what you imagined...
Human minds are powerful. We project what we wish, we cling to imaginary desires and inflate them. And when those desires are brought to life we allow ourselves to be upset that they fall short of what we created in our minds. But I still have to see that long lost sister. Or, in this case, I still had to go see The Hobbit in boovie form.
Because The Hobbit was more than a book to me; it was a human connection. It was the first book my father ever gave me. Since my parents were divorced and I lived far away from my dad, it became something for us to connect over. We had found a shared love. And later in life, when I pursued an English degree, I chose to live with him because I knew he understood my fascination with the written word. And when he died from a hemorrhage in the brain before I could finish my degree, I clung to those words. I reread our favorite books (including The Hobbit and 1984) over and over again. I lived and breathed my studies of books, and had a 4.0 for the last two semesters of my college B.A. to show for it.
So, when the world of J.R.R Tolkien came alive in boovie form, how could I not go? For us. Because he couldn't. And how could I not be disappointed, here and there, when the boovies failed to hit those parts of me that meant a shared connection with my daddy, my first love, my first entry into worlds outside of me?
I can't help it. But, I'll tell you what, I'll try to be quieter with my sighs. I'll try to understand why some people are content with the screen. I mean, there are so many good movies that were first books. But, really, they are separate entities, aren't they? They aren't that world that I fell in love with. They are different forms of art. And I'm trying to remember that, as I pull on my stretch top jeans so that I can stuff my face with popcorn when I go see Insurgent tonight. I'll try to refrain from pulling a hipster Belle, but just ignore me if I forget and snort over a mis-written line.
The Masters of Time present:
Time is about to fall into unlikely hands...
Join the Masters of Time: Samantha Lafantasie, Alesha Escobar, Timothy C. Ward, H.M. Jones, Devorah Fox and Alicia Marks in a journey through time.
Okay, most of us have been there. And by"there" I mean in a social media battle. And I don't mean posting this or that news topic of import, supporting or "liking" this or that cause or political person by way of sharing. I mean Facebook/Twitter/etc. fighting. I know I have, and I almost lost a dear friend over....uh...I don't really remember, actually. But it seemed really important at the time.
So what boils our britches when it comes to social media? Why are people more likely to fight over social media than face to face? I have a theory on that, one that I wish to name "Traffic Tantrums." When I discuss social media in my Human Development courses, I always compare social networking fights/rants to traffic assholes. You know what I'm talking about. There's always those people in dense traffic who drive on the shoulder, won't let others merge, honk at others when they try to merge, ride people's bumpers when they could just pass, flip people off for almost no reason.
Maybe you've been that person. I know I have, once or twice in my life, probably when I was on a hypermanic role. And I thought to myself, afterwards, I wouldn't have done that in a coffee line. And that's a big part of it, right? When you fight with friends online, acquaintances in the very least, it's like you're driving in your car, an anonymous traffic asshole. I mean, the computer is not you, a person's profile is not them, not really. I think that little bit of physical distance is the first step in creating a setting ripe for flying off the hook. Because those people are not in the room with you. But, here's the thing: you still might see them and they are, in fact, still people on the other end that profile. Ultimately, whether you can touch that person or look them in the eyes, they are still the person you once stayed up all night swapping relationship stories with...right?
Maybe they aren't. Maybe they are just some online acquaintance you followed or liked or friended because it was mutually beneficial: shared friends, needed more likes on your business page or what have you. So, really, they are just other traffic jerks. What does it matter if they are offended by your realness? Well, studies show that Facebook ranting/fighting actually causes people to become more negative and more worked up about the thing that first set them off.
“When you rant, the emotional part of your brain, the amygdala, lights up and overpowers the logical side, your prefrontal cortex — which means that your emotions take over and exaggerate the issue,” explains John Schinnerer, Ph.D. (Self.com)." What this means, ultimately, is that no matter how satisfying it might seem to argue with someone whose logic, morals, actions offend you, it's not helping to rant about what has happened or to continue an online argument. When you allow yourself to become outraged and participate in a rant, your emotions overpower your logic.
Not me, you argue. I don't get worked up. I share links, stay steady, keep cool, and try not to be emotionally involved. Okay. How is that working for you? Are you, at the end of a debate, say, feeling better? Honestly, don't you still feel frustrated? Okay, sometimes you will be debating with a friend who you love and you'll come to what amounts to a friendly pat on the back. Let's let bygones be bygones. But how do you then feel about that person? I am going to take a stab and say that a film of frustration covers your relationship after a "friendly Facebook fight."
NYDailynews.com suggests, "One in five people have reduced their face-to-face contact with someone they know in real life after an online run-in." The same article on rudeness in social media claims that people are aware the rants and argumentative conversations are not a good idea, but that the immediacy of social media makes it convenient to vent, so they do.
I think I understand why this is happening, apart from the need to just shut our computers, put our phones away and breathe. It's because we are more in the know. That is, there is so much information at our fingertips, so many news stories, jokes, pictures, videos, relevant motherhood memes, etc. that we cannot help but click and share and be offended by the clicks and shares of others. Even if it was a harmless, quick thing. But especially if it is not. There are the big issues that divide friends, too: cultural, religious, racial, political fights. What do you do? Stop posting about those things? I wish I had the answer to that. As a person who has a lot of people in her life who do not hold the same political, social, fairly liberal views she holds, I think about this issue a lot.
But all I really know is that I've never changed anyone's mind when I posted in anger. Not once. And my anger is so easy to agitate, at times, that I feel like the in-fighting is dangerous for me, for my relationships with others. So what do I suggest? How do we deal with these duels? Try thinking about the person as if they were seated right next to you. How they look. If they are hurt, happy, devastated...And breathe. Maybe call them or write them a note, but wait to send it. Ultimately, most experts say that you should get away from the fight, think and calm down.
So, if your boss pissed you off, stay off your devices. Don't post that public fireable rant. If a friend posted something that offended you online, remember him as a person and think about how you want to respond to a person you care about, if you want to post anything or if it might be better to talk to them in person. Relationships, if not acquaintances, are worth fostering carefully. And your persona (your online legacy) is worth considering, too. How do you want to be seen by your employers, friends, family, or even random acquaintances? I doubt most will say: I want to be a traffic asshole. So think before you write, and I promise to try to do the same. Friends? Okay.
I have an extremely difficult time saying no. This is not an intimate phenomena, others do as well, which makes it a ripe subject for musing upon. However, I've often wondered why it seems so hard for me, personally, to tell Mr. or Ms. Whosit, "No, thank you" or "No, I don't have time for that" or "No that doesn't interest me." When faced with a "yes or no" ultimatum, I usually choose the affirmative, even when I don't feel inclined to do what I was asked.
I connected intimately to the movie Yes Man with Jim Carrey. If you haven't seen it, you're not particularly missing out. I'm not saying it was the best movie in existence, I just related to it. Jim Carrey wants to live a fuller life, so he attends a cult-like convention led by a man whose slogan is "Yes is the new no" or something similar. The idea is that Carrey was convinced to say "yes" to life, and , at first, had a lot of fun adventures. But what I connected to were not the fun things Jim Carrey learns to do when he says "yes" (playing the guitar, joining a bike riding group, falling in love, etc.), but the life altering bad mistakes he walks into when he says "yes" (saying yes to moving in with a woman he just met). I've been to that point, many many times, where I wanted to say "no," but fought with logic, said "yes" and bitterly regretted it.
I later attended a hilarious book reading by David Sedaris, who stated that he often says "yes" when a person approaches him with an interesting option. He gave the example of letting a woman who attended a reading take a benign tumor out of his body, so he could keep it (which his own doctor said he could not legally allow Mr. Sedaris to keep). It was a great story. And I, as a writer, appreciate the value of finding great stories. Sedaris claims that a lot of his greatest stories come from saying "yes," which intrigues me. I mean, a lot of my greatest, funniest, saddest and most powerful stories are me saying "yes" to something and dealing with the run-off of that word.
Are the stories I can tell about misusing "yes" amusing afterwards? Most of them are, to those not directly participating in the decision. Some are hilarious to all involved. But many of them just make my friends and family shake their heads. For instance, I shouldn't have said "yes" to my cousin's childhood ventures in cooking chicken when I was young. Under cooked chicken is always a bad idea, even if you don't want to hurt your best friends's feelings. Alas, when it came to explosive vomiting or hurting her feelings, I chose explosive vomiting, which I knew was coming. And I always ask myself after such vomit filled (over drinking happens a lot when you're a "yes" person) or regret filled sessions, "Why didn't you just say 'no,' you idiot!"
After much musing, I've come to a few reasons I might be susceptible to saying "yes" when it's not good for me. Firstly, I like a lot of people. Or, more appropriately, I'm a social chameleon. I know what people want, and I like to make people happy because I generally like most people or can, at least, be empathetic towards most people. In sales and negotiation, as my husband the lawyer often reminds me, likable people tend to get what they want. So what happens when you are more inclined to like or be empathetic towards those you meet? You are more willing to say "yes" when they need your help. This makes me fairly popular, but also makes me a bit of doormat for random acquaintances, who probably understand that about me.
This next reason might piss some people off, but I'm pretty sure I'm more willing to say "yes" to people because I'm a woman. Business News Daily writer Chad Brooks wrote a wonderful article on women in the workplace and their propensity for saying "yes" more frequently than men. His sources, "found that women feel a stronger sense of guilt than men do, and generally feel bad, when they say 'no' (businessnewsdaily.com)." The studies done by Katherine O'Brien for her postdoctoral thesis, found that women more often went out of their way to prove that they were valuable assets to the company and team players, and, thus, said "yes" more often.
But I'm a woman, so I understand this to be true on a visceral level. I remember, in my M.A. program, saying "yes" or agreeing to study or write about something in order to prove my worth as a female student, my ability to write about Shakespeare or Chaucer or Melville as well or better than my male counterparts. I remember being frustrated that no matter how well I did in class, some male professors and students would still cut me off and "explain" to me how I was wrong on subjects I had intimate knowledge with: I.E. gendered theories in literature and higher education. I have been, repeatedly, talked into taking job assignments through out my various careers, things I could do very well but was not interested in. Probably because I feel the pressure many women feel to prove my worth in a society that undervalues, underpays and ignores the value of a woman based on her individual merit rather than her gender.
Perhaps most personally, I think I lean towards "yes" because I am often in a hypomanic state, as a bi-polar person. I am, more often than not, in a hypomanic state for long periods between normal or depressive states. And as Mentalhelp.net explains, hypomania leads to "sharpened intellect and ability to function with little sleep [which] contributes to hypomanic individuals' increased productivity compared to non-manic people." In my hypomanic state, I often feel as though I could do anything and could do it well or better than most. Does this sound a bit self righteous? Well, it is. Another side effect of hypomania is a "inflated or expansive and even grandiose sense of self" (mentalhelp.net). I can DO ANYTHING, and I often try to. Being hypomanic also leads me to hate the fact that I said "yes" to so many things because I can't stop doing them. My anxious, shaking body, full of relentless energy, has to find an outlet, and that outlet is often used to please others by picking up menial tasks any person could do and feeling as though if I don't do them the world might crumble.
Maybe these points are valid for me personally. Maybe other frustrated "yes" men or women will find themselves in my folds. But what does it matter, if we still feel frustratingly inclined to say "yes" to every person who wants us to? And every person we meets has a need they want fulfilled. That's not necessarily a bad thing. You probably do the same thing to others. Humans are unique and amazing in the psychological reliance we crave from our fellow species.
It matters because it makes life more difficult than it needs to be. Saying "yes" is not a bad thing. I'm married to a wonderful person because I took a chance and said "yes." I have two beautiful kids, even though I was nervous about being a bi-polar mother because I said "yes." I have a multitude of fun hobbies and careers because I said "yes" to learning something new: weaving, knitting, singing, drawing, playing the spoons, teaching, baking, top notch canoe pulling, boat making, writing fiction, writing poetry, hiking, running, public speaking, writing for academic journals, trained editorial experience, and a working knowledge on social networking and website/video creation. These are all skills that I was afraid to pursue, afraid to fail at, but went for because of my propensity for "yes." But all of these things are also things I wanted to do, deep down.
Being a mother, more than anything, has taught me the value of sometimes disappointing my fellow human beings, saying "no" when it's good for me and for the people I love most: my children and family. I don't want to say "yes" to things that will harm my babies, like too much candy or junk food, or over indulging in TV or just getting everything they want. Saying "no" is often necessary, as a parent who loves her children and wants them to be intelligent, thinking, feeling beings. But beyond saying "no" to my babies, I'm more willing to say "no" to endeavors that will take my time and efforts away from them, and, ultimately, make me grumpy or unhappy, which effects the entire family.
That doesn't mean I don't say "yes" more than others. I'm still irritatingly productive an extremely guilt ridden, but it does mean that I'm working to manage my manic womanhood. And I hope, dear readers, that you can all learn to balance the happiness of people you love with your own well being and happiness. I do think this is a struggle many in our society deal with, and I hope that those of you for whom a cord was touched truly give yourselves an honest evaluation, and take time to prioritize your "yesses." Mania for the day: managed.
I loved a recent article on The Loop that compared consent to refusing or accepting a hot cup of tea.* Being fond of both sex and tea (I know that the sex part will shock my dear readers who believe feminists are dry, cold beasts for whom sex is a dirty idea or a tool of power), I was particularly amused by the ideas that are confusing to those who wonder about consent. One of my favorite examples from the article was on unconsciousness and "tea":
Okay, maybe they were conscious when you asked them if they wanted tea, and they said yes, but in the time it took you to boil that kettle, brew the tea and add the milk they are now unconscious. You should just put the tea down, make sure the unconscious person is safe, and — this is the important bit — don’t make them drink the tea.("This Woman Just Explained Consent")
I'm particularly fond of this example because I'm one of those women who was told, once upon a time, that "You can't call it rape if you're not sure you said no." Let's just let that sink in, for a second. That statement was said to me after a man got me so drunk (I'd never had alcohol before nor been to a party) that I could not stay awake, and proceeded to take my half conscious state as consent. I've never written about my personal experience before because I was embarrassed by it. Let me "say" that again: I was embarrassed. More accurately, our confused rape culture made me embarrassed by something that I should have been outraged about, and, now, rightfully am.
I was not sure what happened, whether I said "no" or "yes," or even what it was like. I remember being upset that I was no longer a virgin, sore, embarrassed, confused and angry. But that was all afterwards. If someone asked me to describe having my "first cup of scalding hot tea" I would not be able to. That is because it is a bad idea, as Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess points out, to give an unconscious person hot tea (being so drunk you can't put together two words, counts, beeteedubs):
If someone said yes to tea, started drinking it, and then passed out before they’d finished it, don’t keep on pouring it down their throat. Take the tea away and make sure they are safe. Because unconscious people don’t want tea. Trust me on this. ("Consent: Not actually that complicated")
You would not give a fumbling, swaying, snoring while sitting up person a scalding hot cup of tea. Do not "give them" (read "force them") to have tea. They, like me, will get burned. I wanted my first cup of tea to be special. What tea loving girl doesn't? Okay, let's drop the metaphor because I DID love my first cup of TEA. Star of Persia with a lump of sugar and just a little bit of cream will change your world, folks. But I was scarred by my first sexual experience. Thankfully, my husband heals me daily with his sensitivity and understanding. He is my Star of Persia tea with a lump of sugar and a little bit of cream.
But that doesn't make what happened to me okay. And I don't have to "get over it." Neither do any of you. If you feel you have been raped, don't let another person tell you otherwise. Don't let them tell you that you wanted something you did not want. Ever. If you are in pain emotionally or physically after a sexual account, your pain is valid and should be voiced.
And, other folks, don't force unwanted sex. MMMMMMkay? This will lead said person to have to deal with privileged, white washed accounts of their rape experience (mostly by conservative men who have never had to deal with the situation), and being told to "get over it" because their rape was not as bad as other types of rape, or maybe wasn't rape at all. And, yes, these are things that rape culture promotes. I.E.: There are better and worse kinds of rape. These are the Fifty Shades of Grey* arguments that drive me crazy.
And let's try to avoid permitting rape in our culture by promoting books, movies, etc. that endorse rape. There are plenty of films, books and short stories that are centered around sexual consent, so lets stick with those "pick me ups" eh? When I wrote Monochrome, I did so with the full knowledge that part of my character's persona would be shaped by the attacks that happen to women (and many men) all the time. It was important for me to make my attempted rape scenes uncomfortable, ugly and hard to read because I want to make it clear that rape is all of those things and more.
When "1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape)," it is past time to start thinking about what we can do to change a culture that hides, promotes and dismisses rape (rainn.org). Part of what we can do is stop flocking to "art" and ideas that, ultimately, dismiss the rights and the say of women and that silence raped men.
Sex, like tea, is wonderful. But, like tea, it is only truly satisfying when it is fully desired.
Footnotes and Such
*The concept was originally coined by Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess.
*If you don't agree that this book promotes flawed ideas of consent, please read this wonderful blog piece highlighting some key selections. 50 Shades of Grey Chapter 20 in which Grey is basically a rapist
Hello, readers! Great news for Monochrome, which was recently accepted to the Booktrope team. An imprint of Booktrope, called Gravity, reviewed and eagerly accepted my manuscript as a part of their team. Gravity focuses, "
My self-published novel, Monochrome, has found a publisher! For those of you who have read, rated and reviewed my debut novel, thank-you for giving me a chance. Monochrome has really started to pick up steam in readership, and I am very happy to say that it now has a new home with Booktrope.
Starting March 2015, Monochrome will be off the shelves, so to speak, and revamped. I will be working with Booktrope's unique social publishing company to re-release Monochrome and reach a wider audience. Thank-you for your continued support! I am very happy that I found a publishing home for my debut novel, and ask that you check in often for updates on my progress. I will certainly keep you all posted about release dates, giveaways, chances to become a part of a launch team, etc.
Time is about to fall into unlikely hands and readers are going to love the results. Whether you're a fan of high sci-fi, mixed genre sci-fi, or contemporary fiction/sci-fi, the Masters of Time will deliver you a story to entertain, tug at your heart, delight and confound you. Due to be released July 2015, this sci-fi anthology combines the team efforts of five time mistresses and one time master, two best selling authoresses,and one B.R.A.G Medallion authoress.
Alesha Escobar, Alice Marks, Samantha LaFantasie, Timothy C. Ward, Devorah Fox and H.M. Jones invite you to enter into author giveaways on the Master of Time blogspot, to win various prizes in celebration of Creative Alechemy's new sci-fi anthology. Among the prizes, you can win paperback or ebook copies of the author's other works of fiction.
Click on the author's name and read more about them, their contributions to Masters of Time, and stop on by the Masters of Time blogspot, brought to you by Creative Alchemy Inc. Stay tuned, March 20th is the cover reveal for Masters of Time, and it will blow you away!
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