Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Chocolate Box Theory of Relationships- Guest Post

While telling my friend about my Pizza Box Theory of the Emotional Lives of SOME Men, he told me about his chocolate box theory of relationships. I think it is a wonderful theory and asked him to share his writing. I think his name should be A-Non, though. And maybe it will motivate me to write about pizzas.  Here it is:

A Ridiculous Exercise by A.N. Nonymous

Forrest Gump’s mother famously said ‘Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’ll get.”  In a similar spirit, I offer for your contemplation and amusement the Chocolate Box Theory of Relationships.

Let us consider a relationship from the point of view of an average semi-literate befuddled male.  Why?  Because I am one (usually) and because trying to see this from some other point of view seems arbitrary and Jenner-esque.  In any event, here it is:

Imagine that you’re looking at a box of assorted chocolates.  As is usually the case, someone has already removed the labels and shuffled the empty wrappers so there is no way to tell what is what.  Nvertheless, you really want the one with the chocolate fudge in the center.  Why? Because you think it’s the best one, of course.  But which one do you choose?  You stare into the box, but many of them look appealing.  You can’t tell by sniffing them, because they all smell about the same.  You hesitate, but at last hunger and desire overwhelm you.  You pick a chocolate.

At this point, a few different things can happen.  Maybe you get the one with chocolate fudge in the center.  If that happens, you live happily ever after and the story ends.  But what if you don’t?  You take a nibble.  Hmm, this seems like the maple flavor.  Can you live with maple?  Some people like it.  Some don’t.  Maybe you choose the take a few more bites just to see, and as you do you come to appreciate the flavor more and decide to keep it.  Or, after a while, you decide to move on and select another chocolate.  Maybe you try another while holding on to the first just to try to be sure.  Not fair to the chocolate, perhaps, but there it is.

Maybe you get the one with the pink stuff in the middle, and you spit it out instantly.  Keep in mind, there are probably a lot of people who actually like the pink stuff.  Even so, it’s just not right for you.  Nothing wrong with you, and nothing wrong with the chocolate; it’s just not a good match.

Perhaps you’re just not sure what you want.  You want to nibble every chocolate just to say that you did.  Or, like my brother used to do when we were kids, you try to lick every chocolate just to keep others from trying them.  You really don’t consider the chocolate’s feelings at all.  This makes you an asshole, but we can address that later.

So how can we be sure that we select the right chocolate?  Unfortunately, we really can’t.  Even when we think that we want one thing, it sometimes turns out that we truly want something else.  Love is stupid, blind, drunk, and complicated.  But in the end, if you finally find the right chocolate (which may or may not be the one you thought you were looking for), it all seems worthwhile.  After all, isn’t love the point of all of this foolishness?  Shouldn’t we aspire to end up with a chocolate that makes us happy? 

What can we learn from this?  Not every bite of chocolate will be what we want to keep.  Still, why shouldn’t we respect the chocolate, and thank it for giving us the bite we had?  If it doesn’t work out (and many bites don’t), must we loudly proclaim the chocolate inferior and throw it away with a public display of derision and contempt?  It could be the perfect chocolate for someone else.  And it may talk to the other chocolates in the box.

There is one additional complicating factor that we have not yet considered: the chocolate also gets to decide who takes a bite.  But that, my friends, is a topic for another day.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Clearing the Clutter

There are so many websites and articles and books that teach you how to clear clutter, it is a clutter in and of itself.
I look around at my clutter, my disorder, and I know where it came from.
It carries my sadness, my grief, my longings to be heard and seen. It is representative of all the moves and the sometimes desperate clawing out of a depressed funk by becoming more creative. It indicates my loneliness, loneliness at not having a kindred, not having someone who understands the compulsion to create, to make sense of things.
Once, a friend came to my house and in my typical self-deprecating stance, I apologized for the clutter. In her typical joyful, smiling, accepting stance, she said, "I didn't come here to see your house, I came here to see YOU."
That simple statement was a huge healing, and part of me breathed a respectable sigh of relief. I look around at all this stuff in my house, stuff for making, stuff I've held on to too tightly.
Anyone who has experienced trauma of any kind experiences this dis-ordering. It doesn't always manifest in a cluttered house; sometimes it manifests in an obsession with cleanliness and order. Either way, it is a way to address dis-order. The Story, in their song "Angel in the House". sings so poignantly about divorce: "movable objects, where were we?" There is that feeling of being a movable object; of being a dad's house person and a mom's house person. The movable objects that surround become indicative of the inner state of a disordered experience, for that is what trauma is.
These days another friend has inspired me to look at my stuff. I understand how important environment is, and how there needs to be a balance of life and stillness in one's environment...there needs to be enough cluttered activity to inspire, and enough order to have security and safety.
It is also a breathing, like those sped-up films of people coming off and on the subway...the constant fill and refill of dishes, laundry, toys....the moving around of furniture when a sadness or out-of-control feeling comes, the emptying out of things no longer needed, or a sprucing up.
There is always a spirit of something standing behind whatever behavior it is we manifest. My clutter carries my sadness, my efforts to make right and good, my tendency to hold on and linger. Sometimes it is just time to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and become better than you are, to bring order in such a way that sadness turns to joy, and to let go of all the shit that holds you back. I am grateful for the people who have come into my life who motivated me with love and not judgment. Off to clean and transform something, off to let go of things no longer needed...

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The joy of child support

(disclaimer: I am not talking about the men who support their children here, just the ones who play games and become toddler-like when faced with having to pay child support.)
"Male incomes rise by a third after a split, while women are worse off and can struggle for years.

Divorce makes men - and particularly fathers - significantly richer. When a father separates from the mother of his children, according to new research, his available income increases by around one third. Women, in contrast, suffer severe financial penalties. Regardless of whether she has children, the average woman's income falls by more than a fifth and remains low for many years."

So why is it that guidelines for child support remain low? If the research shows that men's incomes rise, if we know as a culture that there is still a pay gap between women and men, why are men not paying child support?
I look at my circle of friends and the men I know. My women friends have exes who try everything they can to wiggle out of child support. The ones that are most laughable are the men who spend thousands in court to prove how they are incapable of paying child support and other expenses. Family court often participates in this fiasco, especially when a man's income falls outside the guidelines. A very rich man can get away with paying very little child support and create a huge gap in lifestyle for his children between mom's house and dad's house.
And many men deliberately do that, since our culture at large has values related to materialism and not quality of life or quality of relationship. It allows a man to use money to look good instead of actually demonstrate good character, and sets up a deliberate power imbalance in which he can use the situation he has created to look like a good father by denigrating his children's mother.
My sister in this has written here about the whole matter.

Given the staggering amount of back child support that is owed, there is only one explanation. We are not expecting men to grow up and take responsibility. Is it because we don't smile at them and praise and coo and coddle their fragile egos that they evade responsibility? No. It is because they CHOOSE not to grow up.
I have no tolerance for men who cry "poor" when they come and go in work as they please, and make their ambition bullying instead of their children's quality of life. It's a lie. These are the users who conflate fathering with making a child's mother look bad and won't step up to the plate to financially support and fully be a father to their children. This is the farthest thing from fathering that there is. These men are not the kind of fathers who hold the bigger picture of their children's lives, and who make sure their life is good no matter where they are. I am stating the obvious here, but these men are just not caring for or about their children.

Consider some of the men I've met along the way. The man whose wife cheated on him but who made sure he took on extra debt and responsibilities to help his child. The man who continues to pay for his ex's mortgage, above and beyond what he would be "required" to pay, in order to give his daughter a happy life. The men all along the way who are angry and bitter over their divorce and how they've been hurt, but still maintain that supporting their children is important and do everything in their power to give to their children financially, and to work with their children's mother to make sure the kids are taken care of.
These men are respectable. They understand that if you support a child's mother, you set an example of the worth of a woman (that she should be treated with respect) and the worth of a man (that he is capable of support, overcoming anger, and altruism). Daughters and sons see this and take it in. Men who use the court system out of a financial power imbalance to retaliate and punish their ex for lack of automatic compliance with their wishes, men who refuse to pay anything extra, men who cry poor...these men are not thinking about their children. They are not even thinking. Men who use attorneys who would most certainly be happy if your children had nothing to eat at your house. Men who use their own resources or their family's resources to continue to bully their ex and spend way more money on litigation to prove they cannot pay child support than actually paying child support would cost.
Yes. Men actually spend money to prove that they don't have any money so they don't have to support their children. Logical, right?


Then there is the question of race. I heard a story that angered me to no end, where a black man was unfairly jailed for failure to pay child support, or being in arrears, and there was a technical mistake. No matter. He was jailed. A white man can use sophisticated methods to wiggle out of child support, but this would not work for a black man. The hunger for some people to find and blame a scapegoat is evil, just plain evil.
Doesn't anyone stop to confront and question a man who can afford expensive housing, new cars, excessive and long litigation, multiple vacations but not child support? Doesn't anyone wonder why he gets off barely working, living off his family's money, or why it is acceptable for him to hide money? Doesn't anyone wonder how and why a woman can be expected to hold down multiple jobs, go to school, and do the large majority of the parenting work while a man is not held to those same standards? Is this ALL we expect from men? For them to be justified losers? For their selfishness to know no boundaries?

The other thing that cracks me up is often these men, monumentally drunk on projection, will accuse the woman of not supporting their children. The projection is so clear, so cut-and-dried, and he doesn't see it because that is the nature of projection. It is a heady drug, a blinding anesthetic, and it somehow makes him feel better.
What about 50/50 time and equal pay? If there was a reasonably equal marriage and that sense of mutual participation in equality and support can be carried into the divorce, then I am all for it. I think those are the couples that have basic good will towards each other and can make it work. But it should be part of a bigger picture of structuring the children's lives to be supported and loved, not as a way for an uninvolved dad to become interested in parenting so he can get out of child support, or as a way for him to denigrate his children's mother. There is no excuse for a man who uses the legal system to bully the mother of his children and continue the pattern of abuse set forth in their marriage. And the legal system doesn't care. People look at me like I have two heads when I tell them the sad reality of family court. It is NO PLACE to take the lives of your children. PARENTS should be making decisions for their children, and only people who have no capacity for problem-solving, empathy, or cooperation use family court as a bludgeon and to get their way. I'm not talking about the ones who need protection from a hitter or stalker or sexual abuser. I'm talking about the petty, conflict-addicted, retaliatory and entitled ones.

Wake up, world. My blog is small and not widely read, so no matter how many articles are published or what the research says, no matter how may people complain and bring the truth to light and try to make changes, men are still going to be bullies, think small and limit themselves, and try to wiggle out of personal duty and responsibility. Start calling it what it is: abuse. It is financially abusive to mothers and children. It is abusive because repeated litigation and child support evasion is based on the principles all abuse is based on: entitlement and exploitation. Someone has to take care of the kids, and it isn't going to be him, at least not where he disagrees.
Most people don't give a shit if kids are being child-supported or not. They don't give a shit that the men don't give a shit and will pretend right along with them. They turn a blind eye to abuses of every kind. But they should care. The underlying message is that men are incapable, blind, baby hamsters (think "You Ain't Woman Enough to Take My Man"), entitled to receive the best treatment their cages can afford.
Please, world. Give us more men that do not disappoint us, but that we can believe in and count on to be strong and supportive.

Thursday, June 2, 2016


Wasichu is a Lakota Sioux word meaning quite literally, "white person." But over the years,another connotation emerged: "he who takes the best meat for himself."
You can hear all about it here.
I watched the video 3-4 times, just not believing it, sobbing over and over with powerlessness, anger, and an untold well of grief.
Wasichu is the guiding principle behind sexism, racism, capitalism, bullying, narcissism, domestic abuse, colonialism.
Wasichu marriage plants one as colonist and one as colonized. Wear our clothes. Only our furniture. Put it where I tell you. Only our culture counts. Your ways are those of a savage. I must  monitor your savage ways. Only our customs and family events are important. Speak our way. Do only as we do. You ultimately have no value, no meaning, no place here. Your interests are relegated to the basement, your things mine to throw away. You must ultimately hold to my word. Your accomplishments don't count. You must give, I must take.
Wasichu divorce goes on and on and leaves its own trail of broken treaties, displacement, stolen territory, lies, and wielding unfair force, in the form of money. Money is wasichu power, and enables the wasichu to take the best for himself. Everyone else be damned. And the ensuing trail of tears, the brokenness, gives the wasichu opportunity to do the most evil act of all: blame the suffering of his victim on his victim's weakness, and not on his own deplorable abuse via deliberate, systematic bullying. My hands are clean, he says. I did nothing wrong, he says. I deserve all the meat, he says. I deserve to cause suffering. I deserve to be held blameless and above reproach. You are the wrong one. I am the moral one, the religious one, my secular morals make me inherently superior. Look what a weak, emotional mess you are.
This is the purest form of cruelty, a supreme absence of moral principles, the most heinous attitude a human being can take towards another: "I crush you."
Perhaps it is up to all of us to become less like a wasichu, and more like a human being, and to stop the wasichus from taking when we can.

(previous post about a different kind of wasichu: