Boys to Men

It’s 2012 (which I assume you’re already aware of), and we sadly have lots of misogyny hanging over our society. It’s makes me all kinds of frustrated and angry, especially now that I have a daughter.

Thank goodness women aren’t completely alone in the fight for equality. There are some of us (I like to think of us as “men”) who see this fight as our fight, too. Men and women are both speaking up against the archaic patriarchal structure maintained by idiots (I like to think of them as “boys”).

There are two excellent blog posts I would like to direct your attention to, both written by men who get it.

First, there’s John Scalzi’s brilliant take down of little boy Joe Peacock’s immature attempts to label some geek women as “fake geeks,” “Who Gets To Be a Geek? Anyone Who Wants to Be.” The idea that there is such a thing as “real geeks” and “fake geeks” is patently stupid, but some boys just love to be exclusionary.

Ernest Adams looks at why immature males will be exclusionary (and loudly misogynistic) and exhorts men to stand up to these jerks in “A Call to Arms for Decent Men.”

When we were little boys we all went through a stage when we said we hated girls. Girls had “cooties.” They were silly and frilly and everything that a boy isn’t supposed to be. We got into this stage at about age seven, and we left it again at maybe 10 or 11.

Then puberty hit and, if we were straight, we actively wanted the company of girls. We wanted to “go with” them, date them, and eventually we wanted to fall in love and live with one, maybe for the rest of our lives. That’s the way heterosexual boys are supposed to mature, unless they become monks.

My point is, you’re supposed to leave that phase of hating girls behind. Straight or gay, you’re supposed to grow the hell up.

Josh Fact: I never went through that “girls are icky” stage. I’ve always liked females. I’ve always wanted to hang around with them, I’ve always wanted to include them in my games and play. Which is probably a big part of why I tend to have more female friends than male and why I’m so uncomfortable hanging around immature men. I don’t understand the appeal of a “man cave” or a “guys’ night out.” The appeal of doing something without women eludes me.

So, thank you, John and Ernest! Men, let’s continue to be good examples to both women and boys. Let’s teach boys that misogyny isn’t funny, it isn’t cool, and it isn’t acceptable at all. And let’s remind women that men aren’t out to exclude, bully or hurt them–only immature boys are, and we men and women can deal with those losers. You with me?

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Blood and Thunder

The massacre in Aurora, CO has hit me pretty hard. I lived through a smaller incident with a crazed, armed man in college, and I don’t know that I’ll ever really get over that. I’ve always been particularly sensitive to violence as it is. And I’ve been a vocal advocate of gun control my entire adult life.

I’ve never understood the American love of guns. I didn’t grow up with guns. At a very deep level, guns make me really, really nervous and uncomfortable. But hey, there are a lot of things I don’t get. I don’t get the appeal of BDSM at all. I don’t get why anyone would bet money on horse racing or watch NASCAR or go to casinos for fun. But I know people who enjoy these things, I know them to be kind and loving people, so…whatever, it’s cool. You want to own guns? Go right ahead.

BUT…there has to be stricter gun control laws in the US. There absolutely has to be. This is not something I’m going to change my mind about. 9,000+ deaths from gun violence in a year is unacceptable. That’s too high a price to pay for the freedom of owning guns. Would stronger gun control laws have prevented the Aurora massacre? Maybe not. But it would make it more difficult for something like this to happen. “But even if you have stronger gun laws, criminals will still be able to get guns!” Sure. But the people who committed the massacres in Aurora, at Columbine, Virginia Tech, the University of Iowa, none of them were hardened criminals. I sincerely doubt any of them had connections to any kind of black market.

You want to own guns? Cool. You want to own guns without any kind of government oversight? You can’t even own a car and do that! Does the Second Amendment guarantee the right to bear arms? Clearly. Does it guarantee that any citizen can own guns? I don’t think it does. Does it guarantee the right to carry concealed weapons? Nope. Does it guarantee the right to carry weapons openly? No.

A gun is a tool. A tool designed solely for wounding and injuring people. You can’t expect to own such a thing without a lot of government oversight. This isn’t the Wild West anymore.

This isn’t about judging people who like and want to own guns. This is about protecting myself and my loved ones from a society in love with guns. If you feel that stricter gun laws would infringe on your freedom…well, I’m sorry, but I have no sympathy for you in this. In a civil society, nobody has the inalienable right to shoot freely at other people, and if laws to prevent that get too tight for you…too bad. I will continue to work for stricter gun control laws and bans of some weapons.

And this is really the last thing I have to say about that.

Crossing the Bridge of Fire

As I read more about ADD (a name I’m coming to really dislike, but that’s a whole nother discussion) and look at my life with a new clarity of vision, I come to better understand mistakes I’ve made and wrong paths I’ve wandered down. After years of struggling with my job as a web content developer, I went to my supervisor last week and told her this job and I are not a good fit and I’ll be actively looking for a new job. This position demands a level of focus, attention to detail, and long-term organization that I just can’t achieve. I’ve tried for a long time to “get better” at my job, feeling all the while like the proverbial square peg in a round hole, and cursing myself for not being able to get organized and focused enough to make a real difference. I’m leaving a lot out, but suffice to say, this wasn’t a snap decision nor an uninformed one.

So I’m looking for a new gig, and not necessarily one in libraries. I’m trying to smash my preconceived notions about what I can and can’t do, job-wise. It’s not easy, though, having spent decades seeing myself one way and no looking at myself in a whole new way. I need advice, feedback, input. But I don’t need it from anyone or everyone. If you don’t understand how ADD works or how I perform at my best, I don’t need to hear from you, no matter how good your intentions or how much you care about me. I’ve gotten a lot of bad advice from good people over the years, and this is not the time for that.

If you understand ADD, if you know what my particular strengths and weaknesses are, please let me know if you’re willing to help me look for a new job. And if you don’t know about this jazz but you love me and care about my future, please wish me luck as I try to sort this stuff out.

ADDENDUM: Over on Twitter, my friend Gareth suggested that it would be much easier to help me if I could say how much I need to make at minimum. He’s right, of course, but…well, I hadn’t actually figured that out yet. I’ll get to work on that.

On the Case

I learned today that Donald J. Sobol, author of the Encylopedia Brown mysteries, passed away on July 11.

The Encyclopedia Brown stories were a huge influence on me as a kid. I’m pretty sure I made a sign for my own detective agency much like Encyclopedia did. The books certainly encouraged me to continue being bookish and hungry for information of all kinds. (I always hoped some tough girl would be my friend and defend me from bullies, like Sally Kimball defended Encyclopedia.) And I’ve got a sneaking suspicion Encyclopedia Brown is one of the subconscious reasons I became a librarian.

Can you imagine an Encyclopedia Brown story written by Jorge Luis Borges? How sad that Borges is also dead. Wait, what about Umberto Eco? Somebody get Eco to write an Encyclopedia Brown story RIGHT THE HELL NOW!

Rest in peace, Mr. Sobol. Thank you for turning me and countless other kids on to the joys of reading, learning and retaining vast amounts of random information in our heads.

For the solution to this blog post, turn to the end of this website.

Enter, Stage Left

I’m teaching a class on e-readers for library staff this afternoon. Although when I say “teach,” I mean I lead and facilitate discussion, presenting some basic information, riffing off of major topics.

I love presenting and leading discussions, but every time I do it, I get terrible stage fright before hand. Once the presentation starts, I forget all about my anxiety, but before hand, it’s pretty potent stuff.

Which means right now, my heart is racing and I’m really on edge. I want to cry, run away from everything, and curl up into a ball on the floor. At the same time, I know that once the class starts, I’ll have a really good time and I’ll be too involved in what’s going on to be scared. But damn, it’s really annoying while the stage fright is going on.

I’ve read that Henry Fonda threw up from stage fright before every performance. I know there are other performers who experience terrible anxiety before they perform. I know I’m not alone in this. Which is good to know.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to do some more deep breathing before my class begins.

Bouncing Off the Satellites

I had a good therapy session this morning. (Thanks for asking!) Towards the end of our session, my therapist said, “I don’t remember, have I given you the Amen ADD checklist?” I said he hadn’t, so he handed me a photocopy and said I should look at it and fill it out before our next session.

I filled it out over lunch. Now, anyone who has spent any time with me in person is probably reading this and thinking, “Duh, Josh! Of course you have ADD!” But it never seriously occurred to me to ask someone if I might have ADD (just like it never occurred to me to ask someone if I might have anxiety and/or depression). But when I filled out the checklist, it was like lots of little light bulbs going off over my head. Do I have a short attention span? Of course! Do I frequently misplace things? Yup! Do I have restlessness, constant motion, leg moving, fidgetiness? I was tapping my foot and drumming my fingers on my desk as I fill out the checklist. Do I have an internal sense of anxiety or nervousness? Only hell yes! Easily overwhelmed by the tasks of daily living? Yes! Poor financial management? I’ve blogged about that a lot. So, yes. And yes, my teachers in school frequently said I wasn’t living up to my potential. Yes, I often had to be separated from my classmates to get me to stop talking while we were supposed to be listening to the teacher or working on schoolwork.

Just like when I started to learn about anxiety and depression and how they can manifest, reading all of these symptoms of ADD was a smack upside the head. How was never diagnosed with this before? Why did it never occur to me to ask about this before? And what do I do about it now?

Honestly, I don’t mind if I have a short span of attention, if I’m easily bored, if I’m constantly moving my body and talking like Jordan from Real Genius. Now, the problem with organization and memory is not good for my job, and the problems getting to sleep because my brain won’t shut up is a pain in the ass. Also, I’m not a fan of the anxiety and low self-esteem, although that’s something I’m working hard on.

I want to see my GP to talk to her about this and see if I can get an official diagnosis, but this all makes so much sense to me now. It’s a huge relief to see all these symptoms and recognize so many of them in me. Factoring in ADD, generalized anxiety and depression, and migraines is giving me an interesting picture of how my brain chemistry might be working (or not working).

And now I’m bored with this post. Anyone wanna play Gloom?