Actually, it’s okay to be offended

Let me confess: after slowing down to recover from the fact that I have moved into an apartment complex where people probably prefer to roll bowling balls in the hallways rather than sleep, I am undeniably behind on my NaNoWriMo goal. That’s not to say that I’m going to fail – but it is saying that if I don’t keep my butt in gear moving forward, I definitely will.

That being said, I still think it’s pertinent for me to switch gears with my writing and address an issue that I’ve seen all over Internet Land. It is a phenomenon that is one of the most polarizing of all, with very few people assuming a role in the middle.

I am talking, of course, about the political correctness (“PC”) issue. Ever the pot-stirrer, I have a lot to say about this.

If you know me and think of me in a positive light, you probably see me as a crusader for socially liberal causes. This is accurate. As a result of this, I am definitely one to make remarks about Native American costumes being insulting and generally inaccurate to boot. I am absolutely the one to call people out on misgendering Caitlyn Jenner, even if she is a moderately douchey person for other reasons completely separate from her gender identity. I am, of course, there to correct people who like to make blanket statements about Muslims all being “terrorists”. When Nicole Arbour made a video shaming fat people, I wrote her a personalized tirade to let her know that she was doing a disservice to every single person who had ever been insecure with their body. When people talk about the Syrian refugee crisis, I am much more focused on explaining why we need to accommodate people (within reason) versus pointing out that some of these refugees might be terrorists. Yeah, I’m unabashed when giving my views, and I’m delightfully known as a “satanic homo sympathizer” in some circles. (For those curious, I *really was* called that once. This hilariously failed insult is one I registered in my memory forever because it’s actually so golden. New band name, anyone?)

But there’s something you should also know about me.

As much as I dislike when people speak ill of LGBTQ persons, I also get annoyed by people saying that religion is the cause of all the world’s problems and that all religious people are homophobic. And this is coming from a staunch agnostic! As much as I hate violence, I also can’t help but hold the view that guns do not kill people, people do. And I own literally zero guns or gun-like objects. Do these sound like words that would typically come from the mouth of a “liberal”? Probably not. Because I’m not really a liberal. I just believe in not being a dumb asshole.

And yet, as passionate as I am about people watching what they say, there are plenty of people in the sea of Facebook, YouTube, and blog comments whining about how “offended” people are getting in 2015. To some people, we’ve grown “soft”, “wimpy”, and even – “intolerant”, which I find ironic for anyone to say.

I do respect the right for people to think this way, but I’m going to disagree.

The fact that we have had marginalized groups in our society – whether due to religion, sexual orientation, race, beliefs, gender, gender identity, or other reasons – is undeniable. Now that we live in a world where information can be freely shared and people are starting to realize that the content of someone’s character is a lot more important than how much melanin they’ve been afforded, people have a voice to stand up and defend themselves without fear of being killed or jailed (at least in many parts of the world). But since there are still people with mind-blowingly closed minds, marginalized people are rightfully fighting back in an effort to change peoples’ perspectives and get closer to our goal of being a unified society. Most of them do so intelligently with the best intentions, with many outstanding blog posts written about things like slut-shaming, fat-shaming, and cultural appropriation to prove it.

And yet, those who are either not part of these groups or have extra-thick skin are of the opinion that we’re being too sensitive. I beg to differ.

It is because of sensitivity and opposition to certain views that we have changed for the better as a society. It is because of awareness-spreading that we have a more equal playing field. It is because there are people who don’t just “sit back and take it” that we are even making any progress.

Or, perhaps you think that Martin Luther King, Jr. was being “too sensitive” when he marched for black rights in the segregated South in the 1960s?

Yes, I feel that we should do more and complain less. Yes, I think that there are certain situations (going to a comedy show, for instance) where we really need to consider whether the subject matter we are consuming is meant to be taken lightly or is actually harmful. And yes, even if I think people are being horribly offensive, I understand that they are (usually) within their first Amendment rights and I have no power to stop them.

At the same time, I do want people to consider why they’re saying certain things. I do want people to educate themselves in full before they make a comment that might hurt people or perpetuate negative ideas about people. I do want people to understand that if they’re part of a privileged group (whether through being white, cisgender, heterosexual, male, affluent, or what have you), they are never going to fully understand what it’s like to be a person of color, transgender, non-heterosexual, non-male, or (very likely) from a different socioeconomic background, and – therefore – don’t really have a say in whether or not these groups are “allowed” to be offended.

And if you find yourself offended, you might have an extremely good reason for feeling that way. If someone is doing something harmful or perpetuating harmful ideas, speak up (intelligently, of course) and take action. Perhaps you start a petition, join a special group, or volunteer to spread awareness of an issue. Maybe you write a book or create a short film about an issue. Or, go Amber Rose on everyone and host a walk related to your issue! Show those people who call us “too sensitive” that you’re not just a pile of words – you mean business.

People have the right to say what they want, and that includes you. Even if you shift a few brain cells in a person’s mind, or make one additional person aware of societal issues, you are making an impact on social change – and believe me, we still have a lot of change to make in this world. It’s okay to be offended, but put your words into actions and make. Something. Happen.

Here’s my Christmastime rhyme to y’all:

Give love to all, offended or not

And don’t be a douchebag

When you’re giving your thoughts.

*holds up peace sign and walks out door*.

-H

 

 

3 Things to Not Do When Moving

Icies (that’s my new name for you guys…kinda like the drink “ICEEs”), I admit that I am at fault. It’s been nearly two weeks since I’ve last posted. Forgive me, for I have blog-sinned.

Now that that’s out of the way, let me talk about something that is not only (all-too) pertinent in my life right now, but might be in yours as well. If it isn’t now, it will be in the future.

As many of you know, I am in the process of moving. In fact, I’ve been in this process, technically, for over a month now. Why? Well, after I found a place (thanks to employing the techniques I outlined in this article), I put off my actual moving duties until last weekend, deciding that “slow and steady wins the race” on this one. Well, this is true and not true. If you’re too slow, you’ll end up like me. Even though I’ve technically had my new apartment for the last month, this is what it looks like right now:

messy room

Pretty this is not; I know this. My clothes are in bags everywhere. I carried my pantry items over in leftover grocery bags. I have unopened IKEA items galore. My bed, while expertly put together by my loving significant other, is naked and unpainted. I’ve made at least 5 trips from my house to my car. My guitar has a ding on it because I accidentally dropped one of my grandmother’s old keepsakes on it (double-whammy of shame, indeed). My snake/son Baikal wanted to throttle me the other day because I kept him in the car for over an hour while I shoved stuff all around him as he sat in my back seat. He’s still barely sssssspeaking to me. Oh, parenthood.

If you don’t want to be like me, take heed of the following. I’ve moved three times in the last year-point-five (Arizona–>Parents–>House in Belmont Heights–>Apartment in Downtown) so I have experience that comes from being stupid. Here we go:

  1. Do not, under any circumstances, rent a Uhaul. Although it ended up being $0 because the truck was ready much later than I booked it for, I was charged over $50 for renting a small van for two hours and less than 10 miles of TOTAL driving usage. You can imagine how astronomical the prices get when you’re talking about a longer-distance move. You can rent someone’s truck for an entire day for that amount if you ask around or go to Craigslist, so do that instead. If you need help moving AND you need a bigger vehicle to transport your stuff, you can get two movers, a huuuuge truck, and a few hours of their time for under $200. Not a bad deal.
  2. Do not try and move stuff all by yourself. If you have help being offered to you, take it. Lugging stuff to your van/truck, driving over there, taking it inside your new place, unpacking it/putting it back together…it’s a lot. You will save a TON of time if you just take advantage of your nice friends/family/partner who are trying to help.
  3. Do not simply pack everything without considering whether you really need it or not. Although I did a decent job of sending some unwanted clothes to Goodwill and unwanted toiletry items to nearby homeless people before starting my move, I definitely did NOT do a good job or scouring my home for these items in advance. In the end, I’m still giving away all kinds of things that I took the time to pack and bring up to my new place, when I could have just productively disposed of them and saved myself the trouble. Clean out everything you don’t need BEFORE starting your move!

These items are fairly simple, but if I had only done them, I wouldn’t be heading to my old house now for the fifth time to transport stuff out and shove it into my Honda. Oh, and did I mention that I still haven’t cleaned my old place yet? *weeps*

Okay, enough feeling sorry for myself – I’ve got to head out now. Remember what I’ve told you and good luck with your move, whether present or future!

Got a story or advice to share about moving? Share it here! I love hearing from you guys. Stay tuned for a new logo reveal next week (and, I promise, another entry!)

– H

NaNoWriGO! Why I’m doing a challenge to write a 50,000-word novel in a month

You read that right (or should I be totally lame and put “write”? HAWHAW). One novel. 50,000 words. One month. This, my friends, is what National Novel Writing Month (affectionately called “NaNoWriMo”) entails.

The truth is, I am far from the only one participating in this thing. Over 300,000 other aspiring novelists participated in 2013, leading me to believe that at least that many are joining me this year in this pursuit. Not everybody finishes their novel, but they at least have the guts to try. As gutsy as my attempt alone is, though, I intend to make it. I’m gonna finish this thing.

Meaning that after all is said and done, I am going to finish out this month–THIS MONTH–with a freaking novel.

Holy crap.

You mean to tell me that the half-hearted book I’ve been trying to write and rewrite for the past 6 months actually needs to be finished soon?! 28 DAYS from now type of soon?! It’s impossible. I can’t even imagine it. I can’t even picture what that would look like.

And yet, it’s going to happen. I’m not sure how, but it’s going to.

For what it’s worth, here is what I’m looking to gain from this insane process and why I feel it’s worth it to do it in the first place. Although I technically just finished Day 3, I still think I’m close enough to the beginning to provide a “fresh beginner’s perspective” on this. So, here goes:

  • First and foremost, if I’m honest, I’m doing this so that I can have a reason to have at least have a draft of a novel. This alone, however crappy the writing is, would be a dream to me. It’s not that I’m lazy, I just…needed a little push, you know? Once the month is over, I can go from there and edit it into perfection (and I swear, I won’t be lazy!)
  • While I’m participating, I want to gain a sense of how I write best. Am I most productive in the early morning, when I can unabashedly pound matcha tea and see the saber-tooth squirrels (which are REAL, by the way) bounding outside? Or do I work best in little spurts throughout the day? Or, perhaps, I produce my best work at night as I am faced with temptation to go out and do fun things with my boyfriend?
  • I also want to see how good of an editor I actually am. Since my eventual goal is to be an editor of sorts, as well as a writer, this serves as a pretty decent trial run to see if I can even hack it. Maybe I can, and maybe I totally can’t. This will be a good test.
  • Finally, I hope to test my willpower to achieve goals and stick with something until the end. It’s not that I’m necessarily bad at this, but I think completing a challenge every so often keeps that fire alive. Also, I may still be a little booty-sore at myself for not completing all 75 miles of the first day of my bike ride the other week. So…redemption time?

I’ll be sure to check in at various points of this challenge to talk about my progress, my failures, what new things I’ve learned, how much hair I’ve lost, etc. If you’re doing NaNo this year, please share what you hope to gain from the project below, too! Aaaaaand, make sure to become my buddy on the NaNo site! I promise, we can commiserate, collaborate, and eat our feelings ad libitum. It’ll be a great time.

See you in the writosphere! Which I guess is…here…or the NaNo site…or…I don’t know, ignore me right now. I’m tired.

-H