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Category Archives: democracy

He was different, he wasn’t cool like me

The news has been very, very depressing lately. I KNOW, it’s ALWAYS depressing. But it’s more depressing than usual. Am I the only one that’s noticed this? I can’t be, right?

Even this pug wearing clothing is super-depressed.

OK, first, this whole thing about the bus monitor in Rochester that was bullied by middle school kids has me insane. INSANE. I tried to watch the video and I absolutely could not do it. I watched approximately a minute and a half and had to turn it off. Yes, yes. I know. The world stepped right up and donated her a ton and a half of money, because if there’s one thing people are good at, it’s throwing money at something that makes them sad to make themselves feel less sad. (Sorry. That’s rude. I’m sure people have the best of intentions.) So far, as of the writing of this post, the fundraiser to send her on a vacation has raised about $668,000. That’s a hell of a vacation. I’m not judging, and it’s not sour grapes, but there are a lot of people saying she “deserves” this money. Really? There are a lot of us who were bullied that much or more by children. Other teachers, even, according to my friend who teaches junior high. Do we also deserve that kind of payout? I don’t think anyone in the world deserves anything. I know, that’s kind of insanely conservative, coming from me, right? I’m a big fat enigma, what can I say. Is it nice that she’s gotten all these donations? Sure, it’s nice. Is it DESERVED? Debatable.

Whew! NOW my conscience is appeased!

That’s not the point. The point is, middle school. MIDDLE SCHOOL. Those children were, what, 12-14 years old? What the HELL are we teaching our young adults that they think it’s ok to verbally harass a senior citizen to the point of tears? Did you watch this? Did you all watch this? I think everyone’s watched this, right? I’d link to it but I don’t want to. I just don’t even want to. You know how I feel about bullying, you know that. I know how cruel children are to each other, of course I know that, but when did children stop having even a little bit of respect for an adult in authority? None at all? Really? I mean, sure, we were all kinds of eye-rolly at adults when we were children, sure we were, but we didn’t taunt adults to their faces until they cried. Is it the mob mentality? Like, these children weren’t really all that bad, but as a group they all just got meaner and meaner and meaner and spurred each other on? Or are they? Are children this bad now? My teacher-friend says they are. I don’t want to think they are. I can’t think that, I just can’t. Not without my head exploding.

See? THIS is how I want to imagine junior high kids. All shiny-happy-people. DAMMIT LET ME HAVE THIS.

I don’t know what the solution to this is. First, we didn’t have bus monitors when I was a kid. I asked my parents, and they said this is a thing now. Well, good. The buses were a NIGHTMARE when I was a kid. Just complete and utter chaos. Like, Lord of the Flies but the island was a moving motor vehicle. People were beaten, having sex in the back seats, things were thrown at each other, out of the windows, at the busdriver – and our bus was worse, because it had kindergarten through senior year on it, so you can’t tell me those little five-year-olds were safe with senior year hooligans around them. So, yeah, a bus monitor is a good idea. But apparently not in this case. What was HAPPENING on this bus? This shit kept happening? The busdriver didn’t stop it, or stop the bus? Did this woman report these kids? It’s obvious she wasn’t able to do her job as bus monitor. So were all the other kids she was supposed to be protecting unsafe, because she wasn’t even able to protect herself? I am kind of flummoxed by this entire situation. This couldn’t have been a one-time incident, right?

Look at this shit. This is what happens on the bus, don’t think otherwise. Buses are UTTER CHAOS. On WHEELS.

And listen, I was not an angel-child by any means. No no no. I was often quite cruel. Mostly because I was dealing with a lot of personal shit and I lashed out inappropriately. I don’t think it’s called PTSD when you’re currently experiencing the trauma. Current-traumatic stress disorder? I don’t know. Anyway, I’m just saying, whatever the reason, I wasn’t always nice. Far from it. I was often mean and sarcastic and bitter. Middle school kids are terrible. Just terrible. All those hormones? It’s lunacy.

SO MANY EMOTIONZZZ!!!!

The whole thing makes me nervous and upset. Do I think the kids deserve punishment? Hell yes. Everyone, no matter how old they are, needs to understand there are consequences for their actions, and that you can’t treat your fellow man in such a way. These kids grew up in a culture where anti-bullying was taught as part of the curriculum. According to the Greece School District Website, they teach using the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.  (I have my doubts that these programs work, really, but they have to be better than not having a program at all, right?) It’s not like these kids don’t know what bullying is. Were they not aware that bullying an adult is the same thing as bullying a peer? Did they just not care? I know they’re minors, but I’d love to hear the kids’ side of this. What led them to do this? Were there thought processes involved, or was it just something that seemed fun at the time (like most things we do when we’re hormone-addled teens?)

I’m thinking about this too much, aren’t I? I do that with things like this. They upset me more than they should. Andreas wrote a very compelling post about compassion in the human race recently, but I don’t think it’s compassion that’s fueling my cyclical obsessive thoughts about this. It’s childhood trauma, and my need to know why. Why did this happen? What led to this happening? How can we stop it from happening again? Can we stop it from happening again?

And then, THEN, political shit has turned the country into lunatics. There is SO MUCH SHOUTING RIGHT NOW.

So, so much. And hating. And the Republicans are at war with the Democrats. WE HATE EACH OTHER SO MUCH. We can’t be friends. Because the Democrats are a bunch of dirty damn hippies who want the government to give them free…well…everything and also hate Merka and complain a lot and hate God and want us all to be vegetarians and also smoke all the legal weed, and the Republicans hate women and poor people and people of color and illegal immigrants and love guns a lot. So of course we can’t get along because we’re like cats and dogs or maybe oil and water and THERE IS SO MUCH SHOUTING. We seem to forget we’re all just people, and when we finish work, we go home, and we all worry about bills and our loved ones and we like to laugh and we sometimes cry and wear shoes, and we sleep, and we are sometimes loud and sometimes quiet and we’re all a little nuts. Nope. We’re not humans. We are DEMOCRATS or REPUBLICANS. Or, I suppose we can be something else, like Socialists or Green Party members or Independents or whatever, but no one takes those parties seriously. Probably because they aren’t shouty enough.

Listen, I love election season.

YIPPEE!

LOVE. I love that it gets all exciting, and that there are debates, and people get on television with charts and graphs and you try to guess who’s going to carry which states, and best of ALL you get to VOTE, which, listen, I love so much, I’ve mentioned that before, my insane love of all things voting-related. I love when the vice-presidential candidate(s) are announced. I love when these SCANDALOUS stories come out like “ZOMG BIRTH CERTIFICATE!?!1?!?” or “Romney was a total bully in high school” or “I can see Russia from my HOUSE” or whatever. Love. It all makes me very excited. I love how our political system works, even though it’s a little confusing even though I’ve totally studied and researched it and I’m quite intelligent. I love that we get a say in it. I love that there are PEOPLE whose JOB it is to decide what COLOR TIE a candidate should wear to best come across as compassionate or diplomatic or intelligent. I love it. All of it.

Listen, Merka. You are SUCKING THE JOY OUT OF MY ELECTION SEASON WITH THE SHOUTERY.

I don’t remember us hating each other this much four years ago. I really don’t. We all started hating each other this much since Obama became president? I’m confused by this. He really doesn’t seem to be doing that bad of a job. I mean, were you all asleep during Dubya’s presidency? The mess Obama stepped into when he entered the White House – I mean, I think if it was me, I would have just put my head down in the Oval Office and wept for like a month. It’s like everyone forgot the Dubya years. I didn’t. I didn’t forget them at all. At least now I don’t have to apologize for the president when speaking to people who aren’t American. I did that a lot during the Dubya years. There was a lot of “yeah, I KNOW, it’s so EMBARRASSING, what can you DO” coming from me for 8 years. A LOT. I haven’t had to say that once in the past four years. Mostly because I’m not embarrassed of Obama. He doesn’t make embarrassing gaffes or stand under big old “MISSON ACCOMPLISHED” signs when the mission wasn’t even accomplished or stare off into space for seven minutes while reading My Pet Goat while his country is under terrorist attack.

This just makes me sad.

Obama’s intelligent. Have you heard the guy talk? He’s intelligent, and he’s personable, and he’s got a sense of humor that’s more New Yorker than frathouse shenanigans. He doesn’t give his staff members nicknames like “Boner” and “Hillbilly Frank.” Is that the problem? Do people resent him because they think he’s smarter than they are? Don’t we WANT a President that’s smarter than we are? I know I sure as hell do. I want the person with his (or her, dammit, her, HER BEFORE I DIE PLEASE) finger on the button to be smarter than I am, and not think kegstands and/or red Solo cups are a good way to spend a Friday night WHEN YOU ARE IN YOUR FIFTIES.

Do you WANT someone like this running your country? I mean, maybe you do. I don’t know your life. But I’m going to hope not.

We’re talking politics. Sorry. SORRY. I know, I try not to do that here.

All I’m saying is, can we stop with the shoutery and the hating? Please? I know. It’s a lot easier to hate someone than it is to put yourself in their shoes for a few minutes and think, huh, if you put aside the politics, we’re just all people. Or if you stop bullying for a minute and look, that person is being injured by what I’m doing, and how would I like it if someone did that to me? Or if (and the kids who did this in Rochester are getting some of this now) people I love saw what I was doing, would they be proud of me right now? What if someone was doing this to my mom? My sister? My grandmother? Would I allow this to continue?

If we all just try to realize that every single person in the world is just that – a person – and trying to do their best, even when they’re being an INSUFFERABLE ASSHOLE – maybe we could just be a little nicer. And then I wouldn’t have to avoid watching the news or clicking on links or talking to my dad about anything but the weather. I need more happy “look, this guy rescued a dog for no reason other than he was a nice man” and less “another kid killed himself because he was bullied into thinking he was worthless” stories. Can we work on that? Any chance? Thanks so much, so appreciated.

This entire photoset is worth seeing. It’ll lighten your day. I almost promise it. Click. What can it hurt?

You know, we really are capable of such amazing things. Why are we wasting our voices and energy on shouting and tearing down when we could be singing and building up?

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Trust Me, Imagining the Audience Naked Just Makes the Situation More Uncomfortable.

I’m sure by now you’ve all heard about the Rick Perry situation. What? Some of you are from other countries and couldn’t care less about the American political situation? That is totally un-American of you. What’s that? You’re NOT American so of COURSE you’re un-American? Well-played. I guess. But I still have my eye on you. My patriotic, red-white-and-blue, apple-pie eye.

OK, FINE, in case you HAVEN’T heard about the Rick Perry situation, here’s a brief recap.

Rick Perry is one of the contenders for Republican presidential candidacy. He’s currently the governor of Texas. This immediately makes me suspect him (coughDubyacough) but whatever, there are a lot of people in the running right now and they all have their various issues, including Gropey McGroperson and Crazy-Eyes McGillicutty. ANYWAY. Wednesday night, there was a debate of the Republican hopefuls, with their bright eyes and bushy tails and whatnot, and Rick Perry…poor Rick Perry.

Rick Perry was asked what three governmental agencies he would eliminate as president. I don’t know, I didn’t watch it, I guess this is something that they are talking about. I had better things to do, like playing with my phone or something, it was like five days ago, give me a break, I don’t even remember what I was doing last night. Anyway, Rick Perry’s response:

“It’s three agencies of government when I get there that are gone – Commerce, Education and the um, what’s the third one there? Let’s see. Oh five – Commerce, Education and the um, um,” Perry said.

Mitt Romney, standing two podiums to Perry’s right, offered the Environmental Protection Agency as a suggestion.

“EPA, there you go,” Perry said.

But then, the Texas governor quickly retracted his statement, saying the EPA doesn’t need to be eliminated but simply rebuilt.

Again, he tried to name the third mystery agency.

“But you can’t name the third one?” CNBC moderator John Harwood asked.

“The third agency of government I would do away with – the education, the uh, the commerce and let’s see. I can’t the third one. I can’t. Sorry Oops.”

The third agency Perry couldn’t think of was the Department of Energy, which he rails against on the stump nearly every day.

Perry finally remembered the third agency 15 minutes later after referring to his notes, saying “By the way, it was the Department of Energy I was talking about.”

Now, my father, who I turn to for matters of Republicanism, because honestly, he’s the only Republican I know (no, I’m totally exaggerating, I think I know three others?) had told me a few weeks ago, when we were discussing politics (which we try not to do with very much regularity because THERE IS A LOT OF YELLING and then we end up hanging up on each other, but with love, I think) and I asked about Rick Perry’s chances of getting the nomination, “Oh, he can’t get it. The man can’t debate. He’s just horrible. Horrible.”

Now, I’m not going to go into Perry’s politics, which I don’t agree with (I can’t support anyone who openly denounces LGBT issues and a woman’s right to choose, so therefore, it’s pretty obvious which side of the political fence I end up standing on each election season) but listen. LISTEN! I totally felt HORRIBLE about this debating situation.

What? You all thought it was SO FUNNY. And everyone was all “HOW DID HE GET TO BE GOVERNOR OF TEXAS?” and there were all the dumb jokes and I know, I KNOW, it’s totally a hoot when someone flames out on national television. I KNOW.

But seriously, I FELT SO BAD.

Have you ever had to public speak? IT IS THE WORST, you guys. Like, just the WORST. Do you know what people’s number one fear is? Clowns? Well, sure, clowns, clowns are awful, and I think they should be the number one fear, and it’s totally suspect that they’re not, like, clowns must have a really good PR person or something, or maybe they ate their PR person with their horrible gnashy clown-teeth, but NO, it is PUBLIC SPEAKING. And do you know why? BECAUSE IT IS UTTERLY TERRIFYING.

And I know what you’re thinking. AMY! You are thinking. You are an ACTRESS! You get in front of people ALL THE TIME! Well, sure, I used to. I don’t act much (or honestly, really, at all) anymore. But acting is one thing, and public speaking is totally a bird of a different pecky mean horrible shitting-on-your-head feathered murderous color. Or is it a horse? That sentence wouldn’t work if I put a horse in it. Horses don’t have feathers and they don’t shit on your head. Let’s pretend it’s a bird. It makes things easier all around.

When you act, you’re pretending to be someone else. You’re saying someone else’s words, you’re acting someone else’s mannerisms, you’re using your body and voice to be someone else. When the audience sees you, if you’re doing it right, they’re seeing the character, not you. They’re judging your acting, sure, but they’re also judging other criteria: the writing, the directing, the other actors, the lighting, the costumes, the set. Also, sometimes they laugh and clap and you totally feed off that like a leech. Yes, we, as actors, are leeches, feeding off your approval. DEAL WITH IT.

When you public speak, it’s like walking naked and bloody into a zombie convention. They’re judging YOU. Just you. There are no distractions. They’re looking at you. They’re judging your words. They’re giving you the hairy eyeball. And you know what’s easy to do? Lose your train of thought. Have a brain freeze. Just stand there. With no words. And a dry mouth. And a million eyes crawling all over you. Just you. Everyone staring at you.

I have to public speak a lot more than I’d like. People always think that I’ll be good at it because I’m a theater person. “You’ll be so good at this ha ha ha!” they say. Well, screw you, Charlie, THIS SUCKS AND I HATE YOU. So I have to get in front of an entire theater full of people and give the curtain speech about turning off your cell phones, or I have to give a team report in front of our annual office meeting, and this is what happens:

Ispeakveryveryfastanddonttakeanybreathsinbetweenmywordsinanefforttogetitall
outasquicklyaspossibletogetitoverwithsoIcangorockandweepinthebathroomstall.

And then people say, in a confused tone, “Boy! You sure do talk quickly!” Yeah. SHUT IT OR DO IT YOURSELF NEXT TIME.

And one time I had to give the curtain speech at my theater but also I was running lights and sound so I had to set the lights and sound, then run from the upstairs booth, down to the lobby, throw open the doors, run down the aisle, up the stairs to the stage, and then give the speech. Panting. Which was totally classy! And not at all weird! People did NOT know how to respond to that. I was all “Huh..huh…welcome….huh…huh…to… huh…whew! Just…a sec…” NICE. Not at ALL off-putting or serial-killery.

So I totally have sympathy for people who have trouble public speaking, because it makes my chest constrict like a snake is eating my upper body when I have to do it. And I have TRAINING in it. I get it. I totally get it. Anyone who gets in front of people and talks? Comedians or politicians or motivational speakers or crazy bug-eyed preachers or whatever? PROPS TO YOU.

Now, imagine you’re Rick Perry. It is a MILLION TIMES WORSE. The whole COUNTRY is looking at you. And you GET FLUSTERED. And you LOSE YOUR TRAIN OF THOUGHT. Gigantic train-wreck of a brain-freeze. I can’t even IMAGINE. Seriously, don’t you feel a little bad for him? Then I thought of his wife, and his kids, and I was just mortified about the whole situation. Just totally mortified. I mean, I don’t want the guy as my next president, or anything, but it is just so, so embarrassing. If I was watching, I would have had to turn it off. I can’t watch public embarrassment. Like when Michael would do something embarrassing on The Office? I always would cover my face. My friend Mer and I call moments like this nervous-making. Rick Perry forgetting the last agency he wanted to eliminate was so goddamn nervous-making I can’t even.

I know. I KNOW. He’s running for presidency. He NEEDS to be good at this. This is part of the JOB. Well, and I’m not saying he would be, because, as mentioned, I don’t agree with where he stands on the issues, but what if he was really, really good at everything else, but just bad at public speaking? Like most Americans? Then it seems like kind of a shame to count him out, right? Again, I AM NOT SAYING HE SHOULD GET THE NOMINATION. I haven’t done my research fully, and for all I know, Perry kills kittens and bathes in their blood to stay youthful-looking. I don’t know who should get it. It’s looking like it will be Romney, who has interesting hair. I don’t care. I can’t see that I’ll vote for whoever it is anyway, unless something really unexpected happens in the next year, like maybe Obama decides to round up all the homosexuals and women and have them fight to the death in a cage match, or something. Whatever, I have my priorities.

I didn’t find it as nervous-making when Palin was stumbling and bumbling all over herself in 2008, and I certainly didn’t find it as nervous-making when “THE RENT IS TOO DAMN HIGH” Jimmy MacMillan was being a big weird glove-wearing moustache-wax weirdo at the New York gubernatorial debates last year, or when both Crazy Eyes Bachmann and folksy ol’ Palin decided to rewrite Paul Revere’s history and then REFUSED TO BACK DOWN ABOUT IT. I think because they owned their strangeness and mistakes and uneducated answers? Perry was SO EMBARRASSED. I mean, he went on Letterman and made FUN of himself. He tried to fix this SO BAD. The poor guy, I can’t even imagine. THIS IS SO EMBARRASSING YOU GUYS.

I just think we need to cut the guy a little slack. Is he the best presidential candidate? I don’t know. I’m not voting Republican, so honestly, whatever, it matters very little for me. But this was a very human thing that happened, that could have happened to anyone, no matter what your political party. And if you weigh stumbling over your words against allegedly sexually harassing four women and then having your lawyer encourage them to stay quiet about it oh wait that’s not what he’s doing except he kind of is? Honestly, I’m rooting for the guy who can’t talk over the guy who can’t keep his hands to himself, if I have to choose. But I don’t. Iowa does, in early January, and apparently, according to people more intelligent than myself, this is where we find out who’s going to come out on top.

Public speaking. Seriously, the worst. THE WORST. I know you’re surprised I have actual grown-up emotions about something. It’s a little shocking. I’ll try to be more flippant tomorrow.


Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.

Hi, Lucites. (This is my new name for you. What do we think? It makes me laugh and think of stripper shoes with goldfish in the heels.)

And I hope you did/do, too.

Not to get all high-horsey, but it takes only a few minutes, you probably don’t have to go too far out of your way to get to your polling place, and listen, IT IS AWESOME. I don’t want to get on you all, CIVIC DUTY and A MILLION STARVING CHILDREN IN CHINA and all, but seriously, you get to VOTE. For people who REPRESENT YOU. That’s an awesome ability we have! And so many people I know just don’t bother. I know it’s not the presidential election year this year, but there are people running for positions that need your vote, so go, run in, take ten minutes out of your day and do something awesome that we, as Americans, get to do.

OK, slightly haranguing rant over.

Also, I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll do it again, but UGH Scantron voting, you SUCK SO HARD. Why is this a thing? Why did we get rid of the old awesome cast-iron historic voting machines? Chads? Hanging chads? Well, I hate you, hanging chads, because I miss the old days. And now I am my grandmother. But seriously, something is missing from the experience.

OLDEN DAYS

Walk into a old-timey booth that has been used for probably half a century by other voters. Pull the lever; a musty, ugly curtain seals you in. Just you and the voting machine. Push down the little levers. They give a satisfying little “click” as you vote. You can go back and correct your votes if you screw up and misread the instructions. Sometimes, people bring their children in with them so they can see how democracy works. The children giggle as they are allowed to push the levers into place. This is utterly adorable. When you’re finished, pull the big lever again; your curtain withdraws, and your votes are tallied in the bowels of the big metal machine. You are counted. You feel part of history. You feel special and important and proud.

MODERN TIMES

Walk in. Everyone’s chewing gum and looking so, so bored. They hand you a Scantron sheet. They are supposed to hand it to you in a privacy envelope but no one ever gives you one so your vote is all hanging in the wind like a exhibitionist’s naughty bits. You walk to a plastic table that wobbles when you stand on it, which is separated by mere inches from the weird, grunting person beside you with barely opaque plasticine “walls.” If a child were allowed to stand beside an adult in this cubicle to watch the democratic process, the entire thing would topple like a house of cards. You fill in your bubbles, hoping you don’t make a mistake, because if you do, back to the table of boredom and the vaguely disapproving polling place overlords. Walk sadly to the Scantron machine and feed your sheet into the machine. The fingerprint-grimed screen flashes you’ve been accepted. Walk, somewhat defeated, to your car, wondering what the definition of “progress” is, and fairly sure, whatever it is, this isn’t it.

But, no matter the fashion, vote! Vote! Vote!

This year there were a lot of people running unopposed. I find it odd they were even on the ballot. Isn’t it a done deal? I mean, they only need one vote, right? Or do they even need that? It seems like a waste of ink. Are they there in case of some sort of groundswell movement of write-ins? I should totally have voted for myself for County Coroner, shouldn’t I? DAMMIT. Missed opportunity. I would have been the best County Coroner, I can’t even tell you. Like the girl from Tru Calling, only without magical powers or whatever she had. I don’t remember it that well.

This year, I voted against my party lines in one race, which I don’t take lightly. But I researched it and researched it and I just couldn’t vote for one person. I had many, many issues with her. I’m fairly sure my one measly Scantron bubble isn’t going to make her lose – we’re pretty stuck in our ways where I live, and she’s an incumbent, so I think she’s going to get it, no matter what I do – but I felt better letting my Scantron bubble do the talking.

And! Listen, the political robocalls were OUT OF CONTROL this year. Were you all getting these as badly as we were around here? I was getting, on average, 3-5 of these a day for the past 3 weeks or so. And why are they YELLING SO LOUDLY ON MY VOICEMAIL. Here is a typical political robocall:

“THIS IS JUDGE DICK HANDLER. I AM RUNNING FOR STATE SUPREME COURT. ON NOVEMBER 8, PLEASE VOTE FOR ME. DICK HANDLER. AS I AM RUNNING IN A POLITICAL RACE AND NEED YOUR VOTE IN ORDER TO WIN SAID RACE. SO PLEASE VOTE FOR ME. THAT’S DICK. DICK HANDLER. YOUR VOTE COUNTS. BUT ONLY WHEN CASTING IT FOR DICK HANDLER.”

I am now deaf, Penis Groper. But thanks.

Also, I have an unlisted number. HOW ARE THEY GETTING IT IN ORDER TO CALL ME. I think this is a Mel-Gibson-sized conspiracy theory, right here, friends and neighbors. Maybe Mel can get that beaver puppet and look into this or something.

If you are lucky enough to have a polling place in a school, you might even get an adorable children-run bake sale, or book sale, which are the most fun and also totally suck you in. How can you turn down these kiddos with their little faces of neediness? I mean, what if you just walked on by and then they thought less of the democratic process, hmm? NICE JOB SLICK.

Hey, and also, women, back, on the, “get out and vote please it makes me feel better if you do” thing that I promised I’d stopped way on up the page there? I don’t mean to call you out, here, but we fought REALLY HARD for the right to vote. And I know. I KNOW. We also have the right NOT to vote, OUR BODIES OUR CHOICE, yes yes yes, I get it, go go girl power. But I like to think that our ancestors, who didn’t have the chance, are watching you with COMPLETE HORROR that you don’t even bother to take ten minutes out of your day to do something they fought really, really hard for. I mean, we didn’t even get the right to do so until  1920, for the love of Pete. ALSO, today I found out that Mississippi didn’t ratify the 19th Amendment (that’s the suffrage bill, you non-history types) until – are you seriously ready for this? NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR. I mean, women there could VOTE, but Mississippi was making it very clear that they were NOT DOWN WITH IT. Anyway, look:

If these women wearing these totally constricting-looking outfits and hats and such can protest for your right to vote LESS THAN 100 YEARS AGO I think it’s really not too much to ask that you go down and occupy your Scantron cubby. I mean, seriously, 1920? My grandmother (and also Hugh Hefner, because they are TOTALLY SIMILAR) was born in 1926. This is kind of still within the reach of history. But I am so, so glad that styles have changed because my, oh, my would I have had trouble with corseting, skirts and hats. DO NOT WANT.

To those of you (I am sitting not five feet away from one RIGHT NOW in my office) who refuse to vote because “every year the same people get voted in” – well, think about it logically. Let’s say you, and a thousand people like you, who don’t normally vote, decided to go out and vote this year, for someone other than the incumbent. Or ten thousand. Whatever. What would happen, Lackadaisical McMalaise? CHANGE. Change would happen. But you know when it’s NOT going to happen? SITTING ON YOUR ASS COMPLAINING.

AND. If you don’t vote? You don’t get to complain about the people in office. You don’t get to say “I didn’t vote. He’s YOUR president.” Nope! He’s ALL of our president (or state senator or governor or dog catcher.) Because YOU DIDN’T VOTE. Congrats! He’s YOURS now. You’re the winner! By not participating, YOU WIN.

I know. I kind of went off-track, here, and back into the haranguing I promised I wouldn’t. See, listen. I love to vote? I think it’s just the coolest. I think we get to do some really awesome things, as Americans. We can speak our minds and we have the Constitution to back us up. We can marry who we love, despite race and (in some states, and more all the time!) gender. And dammit, we can vote! Why would you NOT vote when it’s this free and awesome thing that we’re given as a gift, just for living in the country we live in?

So you have until 9pm tonight, in most areas – go out, bubble in your bubbles, make a difference, even if it’s only to yourself. And let me know that you voted! It will restore my faith in America.

(Title courtesy of George Jean Nathan,  New York drama critic and editor. Because if I can shoehorn theater in, even in a political post? Win win WIN.)


Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a god, you say “Yes!”

So it’s almost Halloween, and I wanted to do something Halloween-y. No kids ever come to my house for trick or treating, so that’s out. I hate stupid haunted houses, we’ve discussed that, and I’m pretty sure one of these years I’m going to be arrested for punching the entertainers for jumping out at me. I don’t do Halloween parties (yes, yes, I skipped the Lady Gaga-themed Halloween party, sorry to the people who were so encouraging about me going, I just did not have the courage to attend, and listen, I’ve seen some pictures, that place was PACKED with people, I would have had to hyperventilate into a paper BAG, it would NOT have been a good time, it is a good idea I stayed home.) So what to do to stay in the spirit, other than eat my weight in Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins and watch horror movies?

HAUNTED CAPITOL TOUR.

OK, I live in the Capitol District of New York. I have for almost ten years now, but have never entered the Capitol Building itself, despite going by it a number of times. And listen, I LOVE HISTORY. It is INSANE how jazzed I get by cool historical things. I’m pretty sure I missed my calling and should have been an archaeologist because that would have been the coolest thing EVER, right? But not dinosaur bones. I mean, I don’t HATE dinosaur bones. The dinosaurs are cool with me. But I like old human things. Like old pottery and old buildings and old artifacts and talking to old people about old memories and old photos and old documents and researching old things. I loved that show Who Do You Think You Are even though it was kind of the cheesiest because those people got to go into old libraries and TOUCH OLD DOCUMENTS OMGWTFBBQ WANT WANT WANT. I also love old cemeteries and touching super-old gravestones and making up stories about the dead people. This makes my mother kind of insane and she thinks it’s sacrilegious but I think it’s totally respectful because otherwise those people would be FORGOTTEN. I think they LIKE that I’m making up stories about them. It makes them RELEVANT again. (I’m pretty sure the part my mother objected to was that I was accusing one dead person of having murdered another dead person so he could hump his dead wife but that’s really beside the point THE DEAD PEOPLE PROBABLY THOUGHT IT WAS ENJOYABLE.) Also old gravestones are the coolest, all worn and secretive.

ANYWAY. That was totally a tangent to rival all others. So this time of year, the Office of General Services does a series of tours of the Capitol Building where they show you the places where people are reported to have seen ghosts. GHOSTS! And OLD ARCHITECTURE! I’ve been meaning to do this for a couple of years but for one reason or another every year something has come up. NOT THIS YEAR BABY!

Since it's daylight in this photo, obviously the ghosts are ASLEEP.

Well, something did come up but I totally overcame it. Hello, FIRST FRIGGING SNOWFALL OF THE SEASON. In OCTOBER. We got a little over an inch, probably, I don’t know, it’s not like I researched it. This weather caused accidents and everyone to forget how to drive. The roads aren’t even frozen yet. It’s just white rain at this point. DRIVE NORMAL YOU WEIRDOS. SNOW IS NOT KEEPING ME FROM SEEING ARCHITECTURE AND GHOSTS.

Here’s a little about our awesome state capitol because I love shit like this. Sorry. Skip ahead to the ghosts if you must. It was completed in 1899. It’s built to mimic Romanesque and neo-Renaissance architecture and also so it looks like a castle. A CASTLE OMG HOW MUCH DO I LOVE CASTLES.  It cost a lot of money. Probably because it’s awesome. It’s also really a working building. I mean, you probably all knew that, but I don’t know, I don’t realize things sometimes. This is where the state assembly meets. And state senators’ offices are in there. It’s all very impressive and my head almost exploded 47 times. But I am jumping ahead of myself.

So I showed up and I brought my camera in case they let us take photos because I didn’t know what the protocol was. Was it all state secrets and they might think I was a bomber, or were they cool with it? And then our tour guide showed up and he was just adorable, you guys. He was all into it! In a little old-timey costume! With a coat with tails and little old-fashioned glasses and a watch with a chain and an ascot! Aw! He looked like the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland if he somehow became human.

Our tour group was largely unremarkable and very nice. There was a toddler who was into everything and I was pretty sure she was going to fall down a number of flights of stairs but her father stopped her so all was well.

The White Rabbit (I have no idea what his name was. He didn’t tell us. Or he might have. I don’t pay close attention to things) told us to take a LOT of photos. Well! I WILL THANK YOU.

First, we had the spooky “going through the metal detectors” step of our tour. I always feel like I’m a terrorist when I’m doing this. I mean, I’m not, or anything, and I even left most of my things in the car so I didn’t have to carry them around the tour, but I always feel like the people manning the metal detector know something about me I don’t even know about myself. I went through and the man behind the detector stopped me on the other side.

“For future reference, we DON’T keep our hands in our pockets in a METAL DETECTOR,” he said.

Um. We don’t? I didn’t…shouldn’t that be spelled out if it’s a totally serious rule? Also, if I’m hiding something metal in my hand in my pocket wouldn’t the metal detector pick that up even through my pocket AND my hand?

Also, I hate when people say “we” like that. It’s condescending. My grandmother and mother’s response, when someone says that, is to reply “We? Do you have a mouse in your pocket?” That is nonsensical and my favorite response. However, I didn’t think it would go over well with Officer Crankypants.

VERY SPOOKY START TO THE TOUR.

The White Rabbit led us up an escalator (That kid! Is on the escalator again! Sorry, sometimes Mallrats slips in) and then we started our tour.

I AM IN LOVE WITH THE STATE CAPITOL.

Now listen! I am pretty well schooled in the ways of ghost hunting? Because you KNOW how close Zak Bagans and I am. I mean, I am the GO-TO person when someone is searching for Zak Bagans online, according to my search results. So I know about EVP and orbs and (heh) Melmeters.

The White Rabbit brought us to three spots where ghosts have been seen, then a few spots where there were cool things to see, and encouraged us, if we were interested in further history of the building, to come back for the actual Capitol tour, which I didn’t know was a thing but now I am OBSESSED with doing because you guys, YOU GUYS, the Capitol is the MOST AWESOME THING EVER.

Also I totally think I captured a shot of a ghost on my camera. Like, I have more evidence of a ghost than Zak has in all his years of dude-ing and bro-ing.

WAIT TIL YOU SEE.

Here are some things we saw on our tour:

The Million Dollar Steps! Sorry, it was kind of dark on them because it was almost nighttime and my flash doesn’t permeate the gloom like I’d like it to. They are all made of carved sandstone and are awesome. There are a ton of things carved into them and things to look at everywhere you look. It is the coolest. HOWEVER! This was the scariest part of the tour? I HAD TO WALK DOWN THEM. And listen, I am totally clumsy when it comes to steps. And these steps were a., very smooth and slippy, b., all the same color so very hard to see where the next one started, and c., didn’t have any handrails because I guess back in the day they wanted people to die. And there were a million things to look at. So for three flights, I pretty much risked my neck almost dying and was the last one to come down the stairs because I was going really slow like I had a broken hip and children on our tour were flitting up and down them and that was distressing because DEATH, kids, DEATH if you fall down these stairs and then YOU will be one of the ghosts on the tour.

Here are some things we saw on the steps:

A random dog/gryphon thingy! I liked him.

A scary woman! I don't know who this was but she seemed ghostly.

John Brown! His body has a hole upon its chest! Also? He looks PISSED about it.

Scary twins! I like to imagine they're the twins from "The Shining."

A weird old man with his mouth hanging open!

Also I saw a super-awesome snake but the White Rabbit was all “gather ’round people!” at that point so I couldn’t take a photo of it.

Also…how about seeing WHERE GOVERNMENT HAPPENS DUN DUN DUNNNN?

New York State Assembly Chamber baby! BIG TIME RIGHT HERE!!!

Now I know what you’re thinking. “Um, but I thought this was the ghost tour? I’m not seeing much in the way of ghosts, here.”

YOU ARE TOTALLY RIGHT AND PLUS ONE TO YOU.

There weren’t many ghosts. I mean, he told us about places where ghosts were seen. The three biggest places were right in the Assembly Chamber above, where the ghost of the artist who painted the murals for the chamber (which have been since lost when the new ceiling was put in, and how sad is that? They’re above the new ceiling, slowly deteriorating with water damage. If I was a ghost I’d haunt the place, too) is supposed to be; on the stairs, where a despondent fruit vendor committed suicide (OR SLIPPED, those stairs were totally treacherous, how about some effing HANDRAILS for the love of Pete!); and in the HALLWAY OF DOOM.

I made that name up. I have no idea what it was really called.

In the HALLWAY OF DOOM (which totally just looked like a hallway in the state college I attended, it was very nondescript) a night watchman died in the great Capitol fire of 1911. His ghost is said to haunt the hallway TO THIS DAY. Well, that’s totally interesting, but the minute I entered the hallway, I almost DIED because every door in it said “DO NOT ENTER SENATOR’S OFFICE” and that was SO EXCITING I COULDN’T EVEN. Those doors belonged to the offices of OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS. I honestly was just about having a fit of excitement and it had nothing to do with poor burned to a crisp Samuel Abbott. I LOVE DEMOCRACY AND HISTORY.

So while the White Rabbit was talking about Samuel Abbott I pretended I was taking a photo of the historic site of his death but really I wanted a photo of what the hallway looked like because I wanted to remember what it was like to be in a hallway where THE SENATORS I VOTED FOR WORKED. (Yes, yes, I realize that this makes me sound like a country mouse who doesn’t understand that democracy is kind of a sham. I DON’T CARE I THINK DEMOCRACY IS THE MOST AWESOME AND I LOVE VOTING SO LET ME HAVE MY HAPPY.)

Well, joke was on me. Samuel Abbott was PISSED I wasn’t paying attention to his story, apparently.

This is the hallway and it’s not even easy to see the doorway but in my head it was more awesome than it ended up, photographically. But savvy ghost-hunter types, do you see the GHOST?

Here. I enhanced it for you like Zak does.

ORB!!!!

So orbs are either the flash reflecting off dust (unlikely, in this case, as I was completely far down the hallway and zoomed up close to get this shot so how could the flash have reflected off something that far down the hall?) or flaws on the camera or lens (nope, again, none of my other shots have the same flaw) or A GHOST MANIFESTING ITSELF. Well! I think we all know what it was. A GHOST, BABY.

Yep, so I’m pretty sure that on top of my next career as a wedding advice giver and an archaeologist and a very famous blogger I’m going to be the best ghost hunter ever. LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THAT ORB. I mean, seriously, Zak has never had an orb that awesome, EVER. He WISHES he had an orb like that.

Finally, the White Rabbit brought us to the Capitol Demon, which is a little carving that some people think is cursed. Here:

Aw! Cutest evil carving EVER.

I liked the Capitol Demon and did not think it was cursed mostly because I feel like I was being protected by my ORB OF RIGHTEOUSNESS and also I had survived THE MILLION DOLLAR STEPS OF CERTAIN DOOM so I was feeling pretty invincible at that moment.

In summation: I live in the best state ever with the best Capitol ever; I am the best ghost hunter ever; I did not fall to my death and die on the steps of death; and HISTORY ROCKS MY FACE OFF.

I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.


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