Month: September 2012

A is for Atheist: The Force is strong with this one.

I love a good Star Wars reference whenever I can squeak one in.

Hello, heathens. It’s been a lovely day to be an atheist. Not that any day isn’t a good day, but today has been especially fun.

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook, but it’s been on fire lately, and for this, I’m grateful. One of the feeds I subscribe to is “I fucking love Atheism!” and by golly, do I ever.

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This photo, from a person to who I am certain has been voted “Christian of the Year,” made me giggle and then immediately made me glad to be an atheist. It’s not every day I get called a “tattooed hipster atheist faggot,” although I take offense to being called a hipster. Take it back, Christian!

I don’t know what makes me more distraught: the fact that 39 people “liked” this post–all good god-fearing Christians, I bet–or the fact this guy (or gal, but I’m assuming male due to the cro magnon chest beating they are displaying) was obviously not paying attention in church when the pastor went over, well, any sermon ever.

Every time I see this, I both laugh and am ashamed. I laugh because it’s truly funny to me. They don’t like to give their opinion, but by golly, here’s my opinion. I’m ashamed because they are clearly doing their religion wrong. Even me, a tattooed hipster atheist faggot, can see that.

This is another point on my increasingly long list of reasons why I no longer submit to Christianity. Why are there people like this? Why do some feel the need to threaten those who do not share the same beliefs of them with violence?

They’re scared, that’s why.

They are scared of me and my willingness to disprove them. They are scared that their beliefs are being challenged.

It’s of my opinion that belief in any form of religion is inherited; mine was. My parents are Christians, their parents were Christians, their parents were Christians…and further down the roots of the family tree it goes. I was born into Christianity, I was raised Missouri Synod Lutheran, being baptized into the faith when I was one month old, and continued until I was 20, when I got away from my sleepy little Midwestern town, founded by hardworking German settlers back in the 1800’s, and saw beyond what I had been taught.

I didn’t like it. I didn’t like hearing that people didn’t believe in God. I was taught in my parochial school that people who don’t believe in God will suffer eternal damnation in hell, which really bothered me because the people who led me to my enlightenment were my now ex-husband’s family. I loved them and didn’t want them to not be with me in Heaven when we died. Everything I had been taught for twenty years was being threatened by these godless heathens.

And today, I’m grateful for that.

I’m grateful I was encouraged to go beyond what billions of people hold as true and consider an alternative. I no longer cower in fear of doing anything wrong or sinful because God, the omniscient, omnipotent, least we forget benevolent, being he is will smite me and cast me into hell. I don’t need some supreme being telling me what’s right and wrong; my parents instilled values in me that I practice daily, not a man-made god.

I’m not amoral. In fact, I’m probably more moral than any Christian out there claiming they are. I don’t need stone tablets to tell me not to kill people. That’s kind of a given, and it’s sad people think they need a deity to tell them that.

I’m good without God, and I hope more people come to this same conclusion.

Hello, my name is Erin, and I’m an atheist. This isn’t an Alcoholics Annonymous-type confession, it’s a statement of my disbelief and willingness to examine life more critically.

A is for Atheist: A Total Shitshow

For the love of all things…

I don’t even know where to begin, so I’ll just start somewhere in the middle, loop my way to near the end, and then brush up against the beginning, and pull a reach around to the end again.

A friend of mine asked me today if I’ve been keeping tabs on the goings-on in the atheism community, always late to the party, I admitted I had not, and I’m finding that I’m glad I haven’t been. It’s nice and cozy under my rock in my cave. I have snacks, so it’s all good.

There’s a popular blogger named Rebecca Watson (http://skepchick.org), and from what I can glean, she has a lot of “ists” attached to her belt: feminist, skepticist (that’s not a real word, but for all intents and purposes, it is now), and atheist. She’s also has a podcast called “The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe,” and tours around the world, as her site bio states: “delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. That’s quite the résumé.

For my benefit, I’m going to define those terms and key players in this game so we’re all on the same page:

Feminist (noun): person involved in women’s rights and interests, i.e. social, economic, political equality.

Skeptic (noun): person with an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object.

Atheist (noun): person disbelieving in the existence of deities.

Rebecca Watson (person, female): bio mentioned above.

Richard Dawkins (person, male): Englishman, atheist, author of “The God Delusion,” really, really smart guy.

Any questions, class? Okay, let’s proceed.

I admit I’m not all that familiar with Rebecca’s work, but have been catching up this afternoon, and well…let me fill you in on some controversy surrounding Ms. Watson.

Over a year ago (I told you I’m behind on the times), Ms. Watson was in Ireland, giving one of her entertaining talks at a conference. Afterwards, some of her fellow conferees decided to socialize in the bar in the hotel room, undoubtedly talking about how entertaining Rebecca’s talk was. The clock on the wall read 4:00 a.m. and Becks (my endearing nickname for her), had had enough, so she goes back to her hotel room. While on the elevator, she is accompanied by a gentleman from the bar and he says to her that he thinks she’s very interesting (he was probably entertained by her talk), and don’t take this the wrong way, but would she like to come back to his room for some coffee and continuing entertainment by talking?

Rebecca declined, and then posts this vlog on her YouTube channel, which you may watch here.

UNLEASH THE HOUNDS!!
If you don’t want to watch the video, I’ll recap for you, and this is a quote directly from her:
“Just a word to the wise here, guys. Don’t do that. I don’t know how else to explain how this makes me very uncomfortable, but I’ll just sort of lay it out: I was a single women in foreign country in a hotel elevator with you, just you, and I—don’t invite me back to your hotel room right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner.”
Fair enough, Rebecca. You have every right to feel uncomfortable and threatened, because like you said, you’re in a weird place, you’ve probably had a few too many cocktails, are tired from entertaining people with your talks, etc. Some women would feel equally as uncomfortable as you did in that situation.
However, others would not. It’s a matter of personal perspective here. Some women would have said “sure, why not! I’m obviously entertaining you with my talking, plus your Irish accent is making my swimsuit area feel funny. Let’s have that coffee.”
As you can probably tell by now, I’m having a wee bit of fun at Rebecca’s expense. Why? Because I, personally, don’t see what the big to-do is about this. If this had happened to me, I’d have also politely declined…depending on how many drinks I’ve had, that is, and would have gone my merry way and gone to bed, perhaps dreaming of all the entertaining I’ll be doing with my talking the next day. I’d maybe tell a few friends about the encounter, probably in a “Dear Penthouse” sort of way (he was a 6’2″ mountain of a man, chiseled abs, dark hair, and I could tell he had a huge dick by the bulge in his pants…), but I wouldn’t make a big stink about it. It’d be a “hey, here’s a funny story that happened to me!” thing, not a post a vlog on my website telling all men to not be creepy thing.
Again: person perspective. I made this point to my friend when we were discussing it earlier, “I don’t like raisins, and because of that, no one else should, either.” I know, it’s a terrible analogy, but it works somehow. In my humble opinion, for her to declare to the entire male population of earth that going up to a woman you find interesting and has some good things to say not do what this guy did to her is brazen. But that’s just me.
Here’s where it get good. Richard Fucking Dawkins made this comment on a blog:
“Dear Muslima,
Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and … yawn … don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.
Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so …
And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.
Richard”
That is funny shit right there, people, and I couldn’t agree more with him. Let’s do a comparison study here, shall we? Being propositioned in an elevator…or having part or all of your external genitalia crudely removed–without the aid of an anesthetic, mind you–with equally as crude instruments, such as knives and scissors…hmm…I like my coffee black, thanks.
But, some people failed to see the humor in the situation (imagine that), and ripped Dick a new asshole for his comment. Fellow atheist PZ Myers had his two cents thrown into the pot, saying:
“There is an odd attitude in our culture that it’s acceptable for men to proposition women in curious ways… women are lower status persons, and we men, as superior beings, get to ask things of them. Also as liberal, enlightened people, of course, we will graciously accede to their desires, and if they ask us to stop hassling them, we will back off, politely. Isn’t that nice of us? It’s not enough. Maybe we should also recognize that applying unwanted pressure, no matter how politely phrased, is inappropriate behavior. Maybe we should recognize that when we interact with equals there are different, expected patterns of behavior that many men casually disregard when meeting with women, and it is those subtle signs that let them know what you think of them that really righteously pisses feminist women off.”
It sure pissed Rebecca off, as she called for a boycott of anything and everything Dawkins. He was asked to explain himself, which wasn’t good enough, so he tried again, but again, no dice. You’ll have to forgive Mr. Dawkins, he IS in his 70’s, after all… “I obviously don’t get it. I will gladly apologise (isn’t that cute? Silly British people using “s” instead of “z”!) if somebody will calmly and politely, without using the word fuck in every sentence, explain to me what it is that I am not getting.”
The arguments are so vast, it’s impossible to pinpoint one precise thing Dawkins did “wrong,” so to speak.
Here’s what another blogger, The BlagHag, had to say:
“[It] makes me want to cry a little when you live up to the stereotype of a well-off, 70-year-old, white, British, ivory tower academic. But let me spell it out for you instead of just getting mad (though I’ll do that too): Words matter. You don’t get that because you’ve never been called a cunt, a faggot, a nigger, a kike. You don’t have people constantly explaining that you’re subhuman, or have the intellect of an animal. You don’t have people saying you shouldn’t have rights. You don’t have people constantly sexually harassing you. You don’t live in fear of rape, knowing that one wrong misinterpretation of a couple words could lead down that road.”
She does have a point there. However, I have this to add: has she ever been called a faggot, nigger, or kike either? Bear with me on this, because I’m not quite sure how to phrase it properly because I’m dumb.
Here, try this: put Rebecca Watson in room full of African-Americans, Jews, and gay people. She tries to strike up a conversation.
“You guys, I totally know how you feel about the whole slavery/Holocaust/being beaten up or even killed because I’m gay thing. I was in Ireland and some guy asked me to go to his hotel room for coffee. I KNOW, RIGHT?”
This is when the entire room turns and stares at her, mouths agape at what this privileged white woman who probably lives in the suburbs just said to them. I believe the phrase is “bitch, please.”
Don’t get me wrong, what potentially could have happened to Watson could have been bad. This guy could have gone completely nuts and tried to put creamer in her coffee when she explicitly asked for black coffee. I’m kidding, sorry…but seriously, the situation had potential for turning ugly quickly, and the threat of being sexually harassed could have been very real.
But it didn’t. She declined the invitation. End of story. As a feminist and self-professed empowered female by the very definition of being a female, she had the right to say “no.” And she did. So for her to go off the wall seems a touch melodramatic to me.
But the shitshow continues!
Apparently over the course of this past year, Rebecca has obviously found herself with proponents and opponents, the latter actually have compiled a petition to get her kicked off “The Skeptics Guide to the Universe” podcast stating, “Skepticism should be about celebrating scientific skepticism and critical thinking, not about pushing particular philosophies or ideologies which alienate potential supporters. We think that regardless of Rebecca Watson’s controversial beliefs, her personality is anathema to the free exchange of ideas. She is divisive, hostile and authoritarian. None of these traits promote scientific skepticism, but instead hinder it.”
When I first saw this petition, it was a link from the Atheist Experience site, and I had no idea what was going on because like I said, I live in a rock in a cave, so I did some research. “What did this woman do that caused this petition to be created?” thought sheltered me. So, I went searching for Watson’s website and came across this gem of a post.
At first, I thought she was joking. But as I poked around her site some more, she seems very angry with men. Shit, she seems really angry about everything, not just the fact some people have penises and male pattern baldness.
I’m not saying that the hate mail (heh…Freudian slip–at first I typed “male”) is in any way justified. The people who said she should be raped, call her a cunt, and other wholly unsavory words are equally angry as she is, and her mad is mixing with their mad and we just have a shitshow of madness. But seriously, some peoples’ comments are truly disgusting and they made my stomach roll. No one deserves that sort of treatment.
I’m not denying her right to be mad. I’m mad, too. I’m mad, as an atheist, that there are times when I’m treated differently because of that. I’m mad that as a woman, there are still unfair advantages given to men in the workplace. I’m mad that more people are skeptic of what they are told is true. The difference between me and Rebecca is that I’m not so blinded by rage that I lost sight of what I’m truly fighting for. More and more people are announcing their atheism, and willing to be skeptical. Women’s rights are constantly being fought for, and equality for all is somewhat being accomplished to certain degrees. There’s still much work to be done in many areas, but there is progress.
I realize I have made light of this situation by making jokes about Rebecca, but I hope my point was made: life is too fucking short to let anything piss you off that much. I’m not saying there aren’t atrocities in this world, because there are, and I think that’s what Richard Dawkins was trying to say: while what could have happened to Rebecca had the potential for being very bad, put into perspective there are things going on in this world that are far, far worse than being hit on by a drunken Irishman in an elevator.
Let’s all relax, put on our jammies, get some ice cream, and watch Cosby Show reruns.
As always, thanks for reading.

Dig

My back aches. I’ve been shoveling for a while, and the repetitive motion of bending over, scooping dirt, and tossing it aside has wreaked havoc on my spine. I stand up straight and try to stretch and align my vertebrae back into place, but my efforts are fruitless.

“Hey, Reginald? You mind takin’ over for a while? My back can’t take much more,” I say to my drunk partner who is trying to nap against the iron wheel of our wooden cart. His head is slumped down on his chest, and I can see a tiny stream of saliva intertwining between the bristles of his unshaven face. In one hand, he holds his shovel, and in the other, a half-empty bottle of cheap scotch he stole from the pub before we left on tonight’s job. I kick the bottom of his worn-out boot and startle him awake; his erratic spasms tip the bottle over and its contents spread on the ground.

“Oy! Ya daft fucker! That’s me medicine you just spilled!” he gripes as he quickly picks up the bottle and peers inside at what remains. “Fuckin’ arse…”

“It’s your turn to shovel, mate,” and I sit down beside him, forgetting about the slurry of  dirt and alcohol, and it soaks into my pants. “Just for that, gimme the bottle. Now dig.” I take a huge swig from the bottle, the horrible, vile liquid singeing my mouth and gullet as it seeps into my stomach and burns a hole in my gut.

“There bett’r be some o’ that left for me, you miserable twat,” Reginald curses as he starts his shift digging. He grunts with each motion and sweat is building on his thick brow. After an hour of his continuous bitching and cussing, he strikes his shovel against a hard wooden casket.

“Davies! We got it!” he yells from inside the grave. “Throw me some light, will ya? I can’t even see my balls in ‘ere, it’s so bloody dark.”

I grab the lantern from the cart and lay down on my stomach next to the grave, my top half hanging into the hole in the earth, dangling the light near Reg’s head. He’s kicking away loose dirt from the top of the casket with his dusty boot.

“It’s pine, mate. Should be easy to bust into.” Reg wipes the back of his hand across his broad forehead, smearing dirt across it. “Hand me the ax, boy. We’ll have ‘er out in no time.”

I return to the hole with the ax and lower it down to my partner. He starts hacking away at the flimsy wood of the casket, splinters landing in his hair.

“Check mate!” he yells up at me. I bring the lantern down once more and he is straddling the sides of the coffin having chopped the lid to bits. A figure wrapped in muslin lays in the bottom. “Go grab the ropes so we can lift this cow outta here.”

We tie the rope around the dead person’s shoulders and ankles, heave ourselves out of the grave, and hoist the bodyup.Ourmovements have caused the shroud to expose the face of the figure.

“Sweet Mary, looka that face…” Reg whispers.

I am. She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. The glow from the lantern is casting a soft light on her delicate features, and she looks like what I think an angel would. I hate to think about why we dug this woman up from her eternal resting place, and the money we took for the job seems tainted now. If I had known she was going to look like this, or the sudden overwhelmingly strong feelings I would have about her, I never would have accepted the job.

“Too bad the wench had to die,” Reginald says. “I’d ‘ave given her a few pumps if she were alive,” he chuckles. “As a matter o’ fact, I might just do that now. I bet I can make this cunt come alive,” and he undoes his belt, dropping his dirty trousers to the ground. He starts to unwrap the shroud to expose the woman underneath so he can have his way with her.

Fury builds inside and I shove Reg off the woman before he can defile her perfection.

“The hell is the matter with you, you fuckin’ wanker?!” I yell into his face.

“Me? The hell’s the matter wit’ you, you piece of bullocks!” Reginald is struggling on the ground to pull his trousers back up. When he does, he stands quickly and faces me, his nose less than an inch from me, the bristles of his chin scratching mine, and the putrid stink of his scotch and cigar breath filling my nostrils. He shoves his chest into mine and I waver backwards. “You wanna fight for ‘er, you sniveling brat? Is that it? Okay then, take your shot. Hit me, and hit me hard so you have time to run before I fuckin’ kill ya.”

I stare into his blue eyes. For such an ugly man, he has beautiful eyes. Reg is still half drunk and watery on his feet. I know I can take him, and I have a plan.

“I don’t want to fight you, you stupid old man.” I push him backwards and he falls to the ground. As he’s down, I reach for the ax that’s a few feet away, grab it, and swing at Reg’s head. It makes a sick cracking sound as it splits his skull. Reg is left on the ground in a pool of his own brains and blood.

I drag Reg’s lifeless body to the grave we just dug and shove him in.

I go to the woman and kneel beside her, stroking her face.

“There, there, my love. Now no one can keep us apart now.”

Coffee and Cream

Jamey sits outside, smoking her morning cigarette, wearing only her thick, plush bathrobe to protect her from the cold outside. It’s late summer, and there’s a chill in the air, uncommon for this time of year. There’s a slight breeze that makes its way into her robe, and the brisk air on her bare skin gives her goosebumps. She feels daring being naked with only a half-inch of fabric protecting her from being totally exposed. She shivers and brings her shaky hand up to her mouth for another drag, inhales deeply, and expels a stream of smoke out of her open lips, the wind carrying it away.

The back door opens and her roommate, Seth, walks outside and sits next to her at the patio table.

“Morning,” he says as he lights his own cigarette.

Jamey tightens the bathrobe closer to her, aware that one false move could expose her breasts to him.

“Good morning.”

“Chilly this morning, isn’t it?” Seth zips up his hooded sweatshirt and puts the hood over his head. This gesture makes him look younger than he is, like a teenage boy stealing a few drags before class.

“Yeah, I’m freezing.”

“Well, that bathrobe probably isn’t doing much for you,” Seth says. Jamey is suddenly paranoid that Seth knows she’s naked, and pulls the robe tighter against her.

Jamey can’t take the uncomfortable feeling any more…besides, she started brewing a pot of coffee before she came out and could use a cup to warm her insides from the cold.

As she gets up from the table, Jamey asks Seth if he wants a cup, too.

“Sure, thanks,” he says between puffs on his cigarette.

Jamey stands up and somehow manages to inadvertently snag her robe on the corner of the patio chair and instead of moving with her, the rob tugs at her body, sliding off her skin. She’s standing there, naked. Jamey is frozen in stunned terror. Seth looks up at her casually, his eyes roam up and down, then focus on her chest.

“Can I have cream with my coffee, please?”

 

September 9, 2012

I knew this was coming. I didn’t really want to write about it, because of the mentality of beating a dead horse, but then I realized it will probably most definitely be the last time I write about this topic due to it coming to an end soon.

Divorce, and the big day is on September 12, bright and early at 8:30 a.m., then to paraphrase Jesus, it will be finished.

It’s hard for me to grasp that it’s been over two years since J and I separated. Where did the time go? What have I been doing? Oh yeah, going nutso bananas crazy bonkers and the suicide attempt thing, six weeks in an outpatient alcohol facility, and several fruitless dates with very nice men, but none that have given me that same “WOW” reaction as I did when I first met J.

Because I like to torture myself, the other day, I thought about the first time I saw him and our somewhat unconventional courtship.

We both worked at a catalog call center. All of us employees sat in a room, attached to headphones, answering phone calls. J has a very distinct voice and it carried throughout the room. It’s not exactly a deep baritone like Barry White or anything, but it was noticeable. We made eye contact a few times, exchanged smiles, and he sat by me a few times, but the opportunity to strike up a conversation never really presented itself due to the nature of our work. Then, we had a training class together and he was my partner. He was cracking jokes and making me laugh the whole time and after our class was over, he asked for my number, which I gave to him. He called and ended up at my apartment…and he didn’t leave for like, three days. We just had a weird bond like that, and to be honest, we still do to an extent. We went to a movie together last weekend, for Christ’s sake. How many people do you know who hang out with the ex-husband/wife? It seems odd, and I’m sure it is to other people, but like my mom said yesterday when I was talking to her on the phone, “it’s typical Erin and Jason behavior. You two have always been like that and probably always will.”

I hope so.

Despite the anger and betrayal and feelings of worthlessness and not trying hard enough with him to make things work, it’s a little thing called “forgiveness” that has brought us to where we are today. To me, it’s just not worth it to stay angry with someone for so long. It’s pointless. Why waste all that energy hating someone?

So, there’s that, which is nice. I mean, really, the guy was my best friend for nearly ten years and I can’t imagine him not remaining a part of my life. Plus, I’m kind of the Jason Whisperer, and by that I mean he may isolate himself from other people, but he’s always willing to talk to me which is incredibly ironic because our lack of communication played a large role in our separation and impending divorce.

But that’s all in the past. Onward from here, it’s just…I don’t know. No one wants to get divorced. You see people splitting up all the time and you get that mindset of “we can make it!” and when you end up in the divorce pile, it messes with you, or it does me, at least. I am convinced I’ll be alone forever now because with all the men I’ve seen lately (Jesus Christ, that makes it sound like I’m blowing [ha!] through men left and right), I find myself comparing them to Jason which is unfair for me to do and I need to knock that shit off. I do admit that it’s gotten better lately, but I still have that niggling thought in the back of my head sometimes.

Anyway.

I do have a silver lining to this cloud: now I don’t have to have that awkward conversation with guys telling them I’m still technically married. That was always fun. But to their credit, all have been okay with it. Now I just need to get over the mentality that I’m damaged good, a pawn shop item that got traded in and no one wants, so it just sits in the corner collecting dust. Hopefully, someone will come in, brush me off and take me home. Not in like a Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs kind of way because I don’t want to be made into a lampshade if I can help it.

I guess I’m apprehensive because like I told Jason the other day, I just have this feeling that we’re forgetting to do something, like didn’t get all the papers filled out or did something wrong and when we go to the hearing Wednesday, the judge is going to deny our divorce. I have a checklist given to me by the nice woman at the courthouse that outlines all the steps necessary for the divorce, and upon last review of it, we seem to be doing everything right so far, so I’m just being a Nervous Nelly. We’ll see Wednesday.

I would like to give a big thank you to everyone who has helped me deal with this over the past two years. Without all of your love and support, I wouldn’t be where I am now, so thanks.

And that about does it for me today. Chinese food calls my name.