In Which I Search For Meaning

Recently I have started brainstorming for content for this blog, because I have to write. And I have started writing, oh yes indeedily do. But not fiction. THINGS.

Back in the day when we all thought the internet was a lovely place free of—well, we never thought that but we might have been a little more open about ourselves. Or maybe that’s now. I dunno. BACK THEN, I had a livejournal, and I wrote about myself and fandom and my day and things I felt/thought/heard/tasted/shot in the face a great deal. Then I fell away from lj and blogging in general. There were Things.

But I started this as a writer blog, hoping to share short stories, promo my many novels, and pretty much not have anything to do with fandom, which makes me nuts.

Problem is, I strongly dislike talking about writing. I have said it over and over again that I do not discuss my process. The few times I have tried to talk about what I do have illuminated precisely why I shouldn’t. I will discuss YOUR process, but I don’t discuss mine. Also, I don’t actually like HEARING others talk about their process. It’s excruciatingly boring to me, and since I would never reciprocate, I feel that making me listen to you talk about your muses and shit is an unfair burden on me that you can never repay.

I am digressing (newsflash—that is ALL THIS ENTRY IS. IT IS ALL MY BLOG WILL EVER BE.)

So in private, meaning off the net, in word files, I have been writing reams of Things that are not fiction. My fiction is stalled, but I have five pages of funny observations on Kanye (No I don’t. It’s like three lines long.).

So if that is what I am writing, I am going to use it. I am going to post this as my craft, because apparently I no longer actually care about telling stories that I make up, but would rather write the funniest nonfiction that I can write in the universe. And this paragraph right here is the closest I will ever get to talking about my process aside from my VERY UNPOPULAR HYSTERICAL SCREAMING AT PEOPLE THAT CHARACTERS ARE TOOLS. YOUR CHARACTER IS NOT A PERSON, MAN, HE’S A HAMMER OR A SCREWDRIVER. STOP TALKING ABOUT HIM AS A PERSON. Ahem.

So It’s time to stop scraping old LJ entries for stories about my possessed Tom Tom, or filling in half-finished entries and post something new. Something that will get me yelled at. Something that will make half of the people who read it think I am talking about them and get all side eye and then ignore me at the next event we attend together.

I am not burning bridges here. But I might be throwing an unlit matchbook at a hot metal bridge and screaming “SO THERE!” with all the petulant wail of a four year old upset at her parents because they won’t let her lick the electrical socket. You know, that kind of thing. Actually, no, it’s not about people I know specifically, and if you know me and feel that you can point to a certain thing in these entries and say, “THAT’S ME!” I apologize and assure you that I am not really thinking about it. I need that Law & Order thing—

There we go. DUN DUN.

So I started an entry called UNPOPULAR OPINIONS.

And then I had two thoughts:

1. How do I know my opinions are unpopular? Just because I don’t see other people professing the same views as myself in the small circle of the world in which I roam? That seems to be kind of presumptuous of me.

2. SPEAKING OF PRESUMPTUOUS, making a dirty laundry list of UNPOPULAR OPINIONS, sometimes, when I read other people’s lists of them (and I have done a few myself on livejournal, back when I was young and carefree and didn’t understand anything about anything. I am pretty much the same now, but I know how to use a spring form pan, so I can’t complain about worldly ignorance), it always seem to me that a. they want to somehow show off some “Emperor’s Got No Clothes” attitude that they have that proves them superior and/or special or b. they really just want to complain about a bunch of popular thing that they hate.

SIDEBAR: And it is totes okay not to like something. It’s even okay to hate something, as long as we’re talking about tomatoes or The Walking Dead, or The Bachelorette, or John Fowles’ The Magus. Once we get into other areas, I get a little more skeptical about what the word hate means and its appropriateness for anything. In fact, I am pretty skeptical about saying that one might “hate” anything, because come on. Hate results in genocide, homophobia, racism, classism, rape, etc. what you probably mean to say is that you dislike something. And the things a lot of people I see complaining about that they HATE are things like “the confusing Starbucks menu” or “commercials about Erectile Dysfunction” or “capers”.

A Canadian friend of mine reminded me of a great phrase that I have tried to teach my daughter to use that makes things clearer: “I do not care for.”

I do not care for this winter.
I do not care for gravy on my mashed potatoes.
I do not care for this tobacconist, it is scratched.

That last one, no so much. If you can say “I do not care for X” and it doesn’t sound horribly understated (EX: “I do not care for police brutality.”), then that’s probably something you might want to rethink “hating”.

I also want to stress that this is all my opinion, because you start bitching about hyperbole and me not telling you what to do before you slam your bedroom door and crank the Shakira. Because then I have to get the screwdriver and the hammer and unlock the door and confiscate the radio and use the hammer to pull the door out of its hinges, because I TOLD YOU ALL AT THE BEGINNING that I would remove the door if you kept slamming it.

It’s just my thinking. I try to reserve my hate for things that really deserve it. Because hate can be pretty internally damaging, emotionally—like that hot sauce they make you sign a legal release to buy, you want to use it in very small amounts. And if you keep using it all willy nilly, your intestines are gonna fuck with you eventually. Also, it’s gonna change the taste of everything it’s not in.

I just made a horribly fragile hate is like hot sauce analogy. The world is my oyster.

Endgame: I don’t like to say that I actually hate anything when I am stating formal opinions about things that I dislike. /SIDEBAR

Back to the thing about unpopular opinions (because that is what this was about all along). Sometimes I wonder about the point of POINTING OUT OOOOH, THESE ARE UNPOPULAR. Is it the hipster version of blogging about things? Are you giving people a heads up that readers might see some things commonly praised as being trashed or vice versa? I don’t know.

I any case, I thought it was really snotty and uninformed to say UNPOPULAR OPINIONS, as if that makes them more special and points out how nonconformist I am.

Instead, let’s just call them:

THINGS I HAVE BEEN THINKING ABOUT LATELY BASED ON HOW THEY HAVE COME UP IN MY LIFE ON THE INTERWEBS (UNPOPULAR OPINIONS WAS WAY BETTER. I GET IT NOW.).

CAVEAT: Please, take these with a grain of salt. They’re flash pan ideas. And they’re my thoughts, so if you don’t agree, I actually don’t care. As you were.

1. I like Combos. I like the pizzeria pretzel ones. Why is this an Unpopular Opinion? Because apparently EVERYONE ON MY TWITTER FEED DISLIKES THEM, OR SAYS, “MAN, I ATE THOSE IN COLLEGE LOL THEY ARE SOO BAD FOR YOU” implying that they would never eat them now because horrible. Eff you. I fucking love Combos. Combos are gonna cure my cancer. I bet if I threw enough money at Mercola, I could convince every nonvaxxer to start ramming them up their asses to prevent scurvy. But that would probably limit Combo availability, so no.

2. Sometimes I think that liking all the Agent Carter stuff in the past in the MCU is like enjoying Marauder era stuff from Harry Potter. In both cases it’s past stuff that is slowly filled out (more in Carter’s case, because hello TV), but I just don’t Care. I mean, I don’t even wish I cared. And the only reason I even said anything is that everyone I know is watching Agent Carter, and they LOVE IT. WHICH IS GREAT. We need more good TV, but like, I can’t even believe I mustered the energy to write this about it.

See that melting clock just halfway over that….animal looking thing? That is me just thinking about maybe watching CA2 or IM3 or Agents of Shield.

Do you know how hard it would be to give anyone directions in a Dali painting? I cannot be the first person to riff on this.

3. I love me some social justice, but every time I see someone call themselves a “social justice warrior” I cringe. It’s the warrior part. It reminds me of the first time I saw “warrior” used for anything other than a wounded veteran charity or a reference to the Spartans or a high school football mascot, and that was when evangelicals started to form groups called “prayer warriors”. Prayer. Warriors. It gives me the motts. Applesauce, baby.

Like I said, like the movement, hate the last bit of the name.

4. All you people who make faces when I say I eat liver and tripe and sweetbreads? Bite me.

5. I don’t get the love of Chipotle. I mean, I get that they have tasty food, though I doubt it’s tasty enough to stand in THAT line for (and that goes along with my disdain for standing in any line for a food product, even grocery store lines), and I get that they have locally sourced meat and they offer tofu and all that shit. At their current rate of expansion, I mean, I kind of wonder just how “humane” etc. their meat really is. And I don’t care about GMOs or “organic certified” or antibiotics, but Mother Jones covers what I feel in numbers 2 and 3 here.

Also, they don’t have chalupas, so.

On the other hand, just like the idea that you limit your carbon footprint and cut down on mass farmed meat that you buy etc. etc., eating at Chipotle is just another way to do that, but you know, ZOMG SO MUCH BETTER. Maybe. Meh. It’s a burrito. Also, it kept repeating on me, which, as an Ernest Hemingway-esque macho woman of the nineties, I refuse to believe has anything to do with my digestion and has everything to do with Chipotle. SHUT UP AND BRING ME A SIX TOED CAT, YOU SAUCY WOMAN.

6. What up with Magic Mike? I get that they’re naked, but. Was there a plot? Was it an actual plot, or just something so they had to make words come out of their mouths to make screen time longer than five minutes?

That said, I’ll Netflix it. I bet after I watch it I’ll write like a 111/? Part fanfic in which they all life together in happy polygamous domesticity and ship it like burning, so don’t get upset, people. But if you DO get upset, see number 7.

7. More people need to catch on to the fact that criticizing something, especially media-related, doesn’t mean that you can’t like or love it. Things I love that are problematic for me: The Boondocks, some rap music, Joss Whedon’s oeuvre(esp. Firefly), Community, Harry Dresden. None of these are deal breakers for me. But they all have problems, as far as I am concerned. It does not detract from their enjoyment, especially the quotability of most of them. Likewise, criticizing something non media related, is NOT a super attack on you as a liker of that thing. You like the pope? That’s great. I have issues with things he says. Saying that, and describing them in detail, does not mean that I am bashing Catholics, and to say that it is means that you need to go back to “Civil Discussions 101”.

8. Recently my daughter had a crisis of whatever in which she stated that she’s different from her classmates and apparently that might be bothering her? It’s unclear. BUT I posted our discussion a forum and got lots of advice, back patting, just general nice comments about people’s personal experiences in being weird and how it gets better (which may or may not be true, but hey.), and that was great. BUT sooner or later someone brought up the concept that Bill Gates mentioned many years ago in a graduation speech (It wasn’t actually him, it’s from Charles J. Sykes, author of the 1996 book Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can’t Read, Write, Or Add.): “Rule No. 11: Be nice to nerds. You may end up working for them. We all could.” I remember when that came out in the 2000s, everyone was like, “Aw yeah! Vindication! All those people who picked on me in high school are gonna be in for it.” People also like to refer to its nonparallel female equivalent, the Pretty Woman moment, but that’s not really valid, actually, as part of this bullying discussion.

I like the IDEA of this much more than I like any of the actual things that come along with it: it’s fantasy—this bitch kicked me in the butt, literally, all the way home from school once, (I’m looking at you, N**** D*******) and I would like to console myself with thoughts of her failing out of college and forced to go to nail school and then scraping out a living working at WalMart with a shitty husband and five kids. She’s dumb, watches inane TV every night like a zombie, and thinks 50 Shades of Grey is great.

But see, what bothers me is that in my head all of these things I associate with her are bad, and the fact is that lots of people fail out of school for a lot of reasons, and lots of people go to nail school, and lots of people work at WalMart, and by associating those things with life failure, I am pretty much judging a whole group of people. It’s part classist, of course, but it’s also part intellectual..ist(?). There’s a natural smugness that a lot of people with “good jobs” feel but don’t voice, towards the woman who has a full time job at Denny’s, that sense of othering that we give the votech kids. I used to be one of those people. I used to say, “well, the world needs ditch diggers, too” (though we really do. I would say that the world needs more ditch diggers though, than it needs me-s.).

And it’s because we mis-value the education we have. It was hard /easy for us, but we did it. That THESE people didn’t MUST mean that they suck. Fuck them.

But I had votech kids on my class who couldn’t write an essay to save their lives and didn’t care. It was not the end of their world. They weren’t good at that. Some day they might be cosmetologists or welders or even end up being a manager at your local WalMart, and that’s not bad. They might work full time at McDonalds. They don’t know who Neil DeGrasse-Tyson is, and they don’t care. Why the fuck not? It’s not something to scoff at. Saying “I hope that girl who teases me is a failure, and then quantifying that with certain characteristics of the working class, even (not that my list even described the working class, but the stereotype of it) is absolutely horrible. And EVEN IF all of those things happened to her, or EVEN IF they didn’t. OR EVEN IF SHE WAS STILL THE HORRIBLE SHITTY PERSON THAT SHE WAS IN 8TH GRADE (you know, because your 13 year old self is such a great indicator of what you will be when you’re 38), the point is, wishing her a shitty life to comfort myself is pretty shitty too. I am going to appropriate Audre Lorde’s speech, and though it was about feminism and racism, this holds true for other applications:

the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.

We have repeatedly seen how “nerds”, in the Bill Gates sense, who have run the world, can be just as big of assholes as the people who once bullied them. All you have to do is look at the situation of women in tech, of PUA forums in which men who would describe themselves as “nerds” or “geeks” can’t get the hot woman they deserve, or by the very way they act online, treat woman as accessories for boob squeezing, ass slapping, dick sucking/fucking or apparently sandwich making afterwards. (I am not providing links, for they are myriad, and I am not arguing with ANYONE about this.). These guys are just doing their version of what was done to them now that they’re “in charge” (or at least, adults). Others suffer. BUT hey, at least those people who teased them work at the Jiffy Lube for 8.25/hr, right? Serves these assholes right for fucking with those sweet nerdy cherubs

The nature of the revenge aspect is the problem for me. What we see as “life punishment”. This person was an asshole in HIGH SCHOOL, as “life punishment” they obviously must have something happen to them that means they are a. saddled with children b. haggard c. have a minimum wage job/no job. What makes these things punishments? Why do we go there? Is it our idea that money=success? Money=good? Why, when we insist that the rich Koch brother are COMPLETE JACKASS BASTARDS do we still look down on people who don’t have money? There’s a lot of talk about minimum wage and the way we view the poor around lately, so I’ll not expand, but—

BACK TO THE ENDGAME OF MY OPINION: I don’t feel comfortable saying to my kid, “All those people who pick on you in school now, they’re going to have worthless lives, and let me provide a few classist examples of how.” Because it doesn’t solve the problem, and it reinforces the prejudice she’s already gonna get a handful of. Also, It doesn’t address the things that you really, ultimately want: You want the other person to a. realize just how wrong what they are doing is and b. TO STOP DOING IT. An apology would also be nice, but possibly a bridge too far. I get that it’s spiteful satisfaction, I really really do. But I think in the end, the lessons we teach underneath that aren’t worth the secondary comfort, and we have to find other ways to comfort our bullied children than spiteful wishful thinking full of stereotypes.

9. These new energy efficient light bulbs suck balls. I am glad I am killing the planet and all of us a little less, but I am also killing my eyeballs. So I’ll be able to breathe and shit, but I’ll be blind. I guess I’ll have a tree to make a walking cane out of.

So there we are.

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About Amanda Ching

I write. Fo' you.
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11 Responses to In Which I Search For Meaning

  1. J.L. Gribble says:

    I do not care for Chipotle because they put cilantro in everything. 😦

  2. mfennvt says:

    Yeah, I think when the bad guys (too many to list) came up with SJW as an insult for folks on the left, I was amused by all the people who wanted to be Social Justice Monks and Mages and such instead. I’m a Social Justice Rogue, myself.

    • Amanda Ching says:

      I was seeing SJW long before GG made it some sort of thing they wanted to attack (i contend that it’s not a “dirty word” or term). I would prefer to just be a person who believes in pursuing social justice, and people who actively do so more than the average person? People who organise and protest and all those meatspace SJW things? I’d call them an activist.

      Social Justice rogue sounds like a good D&D character.

      • mfennvt says:

        First time I saw it was when Scalzi was making fun of the GGers for adopting the term. It’s totally not a dirty term, but I agree about the use of war terminology. It’s limiting and kinda gross.

        ‘Tis! Lots of cool gear, too. 😉

        • Amanda Ching says:

          Even some vets kind of look sideways at the word when its used in their culture, too. I mean, “warrior” was something associated with castes, etc. I dunno. It has a loaded history. I just don’t know that I think it’s the best word to use when fighting against injustice, you know? I don’t like the call to violence that it kind of implicitly accepts, despite knowing that sometimes activists get involved in violence, usually unwillingly. Warriors are all about getting into the violence.

          It’s not like I look at people who use the term and say “THAT IS WRONG”. I just roll my eyes, like I do with “prayer warriors”.

  3. RaeWhit says:

    You made my noggin hurt. I’d like to point out that you write pretty much how you talk. I like your point about unintentionally teaching a child a lesson that, if you’d think it through, would show itself as a bad one.

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