Fake Tears: How to Gaslight, 101

timthumb“Gaslighting” has to be the most overused word of 2016, a close second to the decades-long overuse of “unprecedented.” Most recently, it has become the flippant argument du jour of everyone who has an issue debating legitimate arguments with their opponent. Nonetheless, the term (and subsequent concept) has its merits. And now, that concept is no longer a theoretical idea, but front and center in the Oval Office, uttered in person and on Twitter by Donald Trump, himself.

“Daddy!” Felicity (9) wailed at me through tears.

“Stop your fake tears and act your age!” I loudly ordered, not caring what she was crying about, but just wanting peace and quiet.

Felicity’s crying deepened, the corners of her lips becoming more curled as I threw away any sense of dignity she may have thought she possessed at the moment. Turning on her heels, she swiftly bounded up the stairs and disappeared down the 35-foot hallway to her room.

For a brief few seconds, I breathed a sigh of satisfaction. I had rectified the situation and brought peace to my lair. Then, realization hit me that I had crushed my daughter. Climbing the stairs, I began to hear the faint and muffled sobs of a broken little girl. The crying became louder as I headed toward her room. Recognizing my footsteps, Felicity lifted her head from her bed and threw her voice into the hall, “Go away!”

“No. I came to apologize. I’m very sorry for disrespecting you downstairs. I want to know why you’re crying.”

Sitting down on her bed and putting my arm around her, we began a small conversation that had no earth-shattering ramifications, but I was taking advantage of the opportunity to love her. It didn’t matter if I felt that her tears were unwarranted. That was how she was expressing herself at the moment and, if I wanted to teach her a lesson in what I saw as a better way to approach life, I could do it in a calm manner, without the use of humiliation.

Wow. It’s been a while.

I haven’t written since October. It appears that I went off in an angry huffle and puffle, but that isn’t the case. Sure, my last one-liner post seemed angry (and I was, but I don’t remember why). I was anticipating a slam dunk win for Hillary.

I invited people over for election night on November 8th. Two couples. The husband of one couple was a rabid Donald Trump fan, though he claimed that it was out of necessity (one-issue voter and all). His wife was mysterious and shows signs of pragmatism and a good heart. The other couple was a lovely woman whom I was becoming good friends with. She was very worried about things from the moment she walked through my door. Her husband always has eyes that twinkle, seems nearly always happy, and never betrays his feelings, should they be deemed even remotely controversial.

Early on in the evening, I knew it was bad. I ran numbers in my head and called the race by 8PM CST. As did this new friend of mine. She fell very silent and I could see her non-existent soul crushed. She was devastated and retreated to my kitchen to wash all my dishes and scrub it from top to bottom.

My wife wept uncontrollably for an hour. I became a very sensitive person while I watched human being mock those with tears flowing down their cheeks. It fucking hurt me to have my hand wrapped in my bride’s hair, the woman I loved more than the air I breathe, and see people I considered friends, mocking her, cackling, and indirectly calling her names – even if they were on her side, politically.

To too many people, politics is a game. Donald Trump tapped into this idea and abused it, bringing along the electorate that saw this as a sporting contest, rather than a prescription for the future of our country. Sure, many who voted for Trump actually did see his prescription as the way forward, and I don’t fault them, I just disagree mostly. But that’s not why my wife and my new friend were so shaken to the core.

They saw a nation look at them and consent to a man who looked upon them as a pussy to grab. A woman to mock, bleeding out of their wherevers. A vagina in the boardroom to pleasure the real people (the men) under the table – their rightful place in the world of the Orange Jesus. In fact, both of them could have actually agreed with some of his policies and yet rejected him completely, desiring respect and equality, rather than sub-male status.

And now we must live in this world that we created. We must watch as those who rabidly and gutturaly screamed for this man to lead them, laugh at our pain and worry – sometimes even feel terror at what his victory can bring upon us.

So yeah. Those were some of the thoughts rolling around in my head over the last few months. But I’ve been doing a lot more thinking. My own autopsy for those I consider “on my side.” And I have deep disagreements with plenty of good people. And even deeper disagreements with plenty of very bad people. I’ll be sharing those as I write more.

Love you all,

I. C.

Pending Post: Saudi Arabia’s Bond Sale, Terrorism, and US Obligations

petroleum-and-gas-companies-in-saudi-arabia1I want to write my thoughts about the $17.5 billion in bonds that the Saudi Arabian government has just sold to the international community. I’m going to seemingly conflate the subject with the verifiable evidence that terrorism has come from that country, as well as the way that the Kingdom treats women, LGTB folks, and others.

I’ll attempt to argue that this is one of those “Hard Choices” that Hillary Clinton would have to wrestle with. It’s not going to be a simple post, so it may take a while.

Thanks,

I. C.

Best Coffee in the World: Jasper Mini Mall, Jasper, Minnesota

coffee-groundsIn 2005, I drove from Pipestone, Minnesota to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, every single day, to work as a phone banker at the Wells Fargo Phone Bank. I loved my job, especially the drive. It was 45 minutes of heaven, driving through the hilly lands of Southwestern Minnesota and Eastern South Dakota, the land dotted with cattle and dead motorcyclists.

About 10 minutes into the drive, the town of Jasper, MN would come into view. My heart would skip a beat and I would turn the car into the large parking lot of the Jasper Mini Mall. Jasper Mini Mall was just a gas station, but had all the trappings of a small town. A coffee dispenser sat in the back, right beside a pile of homemade cinnamon rolls.

I did the same thing every morning. I would grab a cup, fill it with coffee and grab a cinnamon roll. A breakfast of champions. The coffee had a very distinct taste. Not bitter or weak. A bit sweet, maybe hinting of maple syrup. It never changed and I loved it.

Then, last September, my marriage was struggling, and I took my wife out to the country for our anniversary. We drove through around the dirt roads, she taking pictures, me rolling my eyes at her need to take pictures (yes…that was part of the reason we were struggling…me, with my disrespect) and looking at windmills.

We ambled our way to Jasper and I pulled into the Mini Mall parking lot. This was 10 years after I drank my last cup of coffee and I wanted to see if it still tasted the same.

I walked through the door and was flooded with memories. Everything was exactly the same. The same coffee dispenser that had been there in 2005 was still sitting there. The cinnamon rolls were gone and in their place sat banana bread. I grabbed a cup – the same cups as had always been there – filled it to the brim with coffee and lifted the cup to my lips.

The coffee hit my tongue and tasted the same as it always had. I slurped it down, finishing the cup before I hit the door.

Dentist and Gizzards: A Few Kid Stories

Today is the big day. We do this every six months. Well, it’s not the big day, being only four of six kids are going to the dentist. Usually, we schedule all six squirts and they bring in all the hygienists, turning the place into a zoo.

I expect a few cavities. Here we are in the car, on the way:

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*Telephone rings* *My bride, Kristine, answers*

“Hello?”

“Hi, this is [redacted] from the Elementary School. I just wanted to let you know that your daughter, Analisse (The Freak), was playing with a friend on the playground at lunch. She took her shoes off, filled them full of pea gravel, then proceeded to pretend that the rocks were lunch. I think she ate some.”

So yeah, that happened.

In her defense, she swears she didn’t eat any. But I’ll be watching her poop.

I’m Getting Sick

sick-manI WILL NOT SUCCUMB!

I never get sick. But when I do, I do it with abandon. Problem is, I already took two days off last week, just to write on Incongruous Circumspection, and clean the house. I told all my myriad bosses that I was sick. Now, when I’m really sick, I’m going to have to go in and sneeze on everyone.

But that would actually work in my favor. Everyone else would get sick, causing them to wave me off and fall back to sleep, when I announce I’m really not coming in.

Maybe I’ll just take the day off and not tell anyone. Not like they’d notice I’m not there.

Trump Invites…Oh Who Cares!

imagesI realize I’m only 36 years old, which means, since I was born in 1980, I have only seen 9 presidential elections. I especially remember the one where Reagan won the first time. I was suckling at my Mama’s breast when it was announced on Fox News and I bit down hard, then shoved her aside to watch the festivities.

But I don’t think I remember this stupid crap of “OMG!!!! Who is the candidate going to invite to the debate!!!!???”

And Trump ups the ante (was there even an ante?) by inviting Malik Obama, Obama’s brother, born in Kenya. Yeah. There’s a reason I bolded that last part. Seriously. What the fuck is that about?

In 2011, Trump demanded Obama’s birth certificate (and yeah…that is most definitely relevant to this subject). He offered $5 million to a charity of Obama’s choice if he would show it. Then, he rode that wave into the primaries for 2016. When it finally caught up to him, he pussy-footed around his stupid bullshit and walked away from the demand, seemingly accepting the obvious – that Obama was actually a citizen of the United States.

And then he does this. Let me be clear:

Other than impressing his birther followers, there is NO OTHER REASON to invite this guy. None.

I am so ready for this election to be over. I wouldn’t even care if Julian Assange publishes a picture of Hillary Clinton giving the username and password of John Podesta’s email account to Vladimir Putin. I need to wash my brain out with bleach. Hillary, no matter how flawed, is becoming the candidate that I will be most proud to vote for in my entire life – and almost all of it isn’t her fault.

Consensual Conversations

6986d-6a00e54ed0df528833013480965ceb970c-piI’ll put a GOOD! behind good conversation and a BAD! behind bad.

Man sees a woman who is having a bad day/week/year/life.

Man: “Hello! How are you? I see you are down in the dumps. Let’s talk about it?” GOOD!

Woman: “Sure!”

Conversation ensues. As the woman shares about her life, the gentleman shares things from his. Over the next few days, they get to know each other. Feelings begin to flower. The gentleman is falling for the woman and the woman, though skeptical of his intentions, is feeling flutters within her…wait…I know nothing about women’s feelings. But let’s just say she’s into the bloke.

Man: “So, wanna get together and cuddle?” GOOD!

Woman: “No. I’m not really into you like that. That’s not what I’m here for.”

More conversation, lasting over the next few days. Nothing changes from the woman’s side. She has still not suggested that she is willing to be anything other than platonic or non-sexual friends. In her mind, when a gentleman suggest cuddling, it is just a precursor to what he really wants.

Man: “So, wanna get together and cuddle?” BAD!

Dude…you’ve crossed boundaries here. Stop.

Man: “So, wanna get together and cuddle?” “So, I’ve really gotten to know you on a deeper level and I know you said no to cuddling a few days back. Has anything changed? And if not, would you appreciate me never bringing it up again?” GOOD!

Now, the gentleman could just go ahead and never say the above at all and take the initial NO! as a final answer. Many women actually appreciate that approach. But being honest and open about his intentions and where he wants to go with the conversation/relationship is just fine, as well.

Finally, a woman (or a man) is not obligated to explain why they are not into you. Keep that in mind. It’s very important. (Speaking to you, MRAs). Additionally, it is perfectly reasonable for the woman to be angry at the second attempt, no matter how civil or well-reasoned it may be. This is the thing about personality. Everyone is different.

In short, we learn about each other so we can know how to respect them. No human being has an obligation to reject us in a certain way. Their life experience will dictate how they go about doing it. Do not take offense. Consent is easy. Practice it.

And for god’s sake, don’t belittle and shame the one doing the rejecting. Oh…one more thing: Rejection of a physical or sexual relationship is not necessarily a rejection of you.

How People React When a 6-Year Old Girl Takes Her Shirt Off

downloadAs all my readers know, I have a daughter who we call, The Freak. She’s six years old. She embodies everything good about that label, as well as everything bad, being re-translated into good by me, because I love her so damn much.

Yesterday, I took the family to a semi-local apple orchard. It was a balmy 70 degrees, which meant my shirt was too hot. I took it off and enjoyed the corn maze, pumpkin hunting, apple picking (and sorting the rotten ones on the ground), and petting goats and alpacas.

And so did Analisse (The Freak). The moment my shirt came off and was tucked into my back pocket, I felt little fingers shoving something into my other back pocket. I looked behind me to find her, half-naked, pretending to not notice that I caught her. I didn’t care. As a dad, I’m a pack mule, wherever I go. I’m okay with it. Also, I encourage my young daughters to take their shirts off, if they want to. It’s not illegal. If the activity was illegal, as it is when they are older, I leave that up to their mother to determine how much is too little cloth.

About an hour into our visit, I was kneeling down by a goat, feeding it grass, when the old man who owns the orchard rode up on his four-wheeler. He hops off and catches my eye, obviously nervous. In short order, he strode over to me, bent down, and nearly whispered into my ear:

Now, I don’t know if anyone really has a problem with this, but, your daughter, with her shirt off, may cause some people to have a problem, so…

That’s it. I thanked him and he straightened, looking very relieved, got back onto his four-wheeler, and rode away.

Now, I could have argued and told him to fuck off. But I cared more about making the day enjoyable for my kids, getting plenty of apples, and doing the pumpkin thing. It wasn’t a life or death situation. In fact, I figured that really, only the old man had a problem with it, and he would be dead in a few years anyway. Jumbled thoughts ran through my head as I went and told my bride what the old man had said.

We agreed that she should probably put the shirt back on. I spoke to Analisse about it, telling her that some people here wanted it on and so I was putting mine back on too. She agreed after a tiny bit of protest, but quickly brightened up when I pulled my shirt over my head.

Without skipping a beat, she was back playing in the sand.

I don’t know what my point is in writing this, but I was sad. Sad that my daughter couldn’t just enjoy who she was, legally. Sad that some people are so bothered by the skin of a little child, they have to dictate my parenting choices. Sad that it is 2016 and we still shame little children for their natural bodies. Sad that it’s 2016 and we still shame older girls for their bodies. Confused that I was bent over a fence, mostly naked from the waste up, possibly even showing a plumbers crack, and the old man rendered me perfectly normal, and yet didn’t see my daughter that way.

I’ll be back there next year. And next year, I won’t stop her from taking her shirt off again. And when he tells me to have her put it back on, we’ll do the dance again. Or maybe I’ll confront him nicely. Or maybe one day he’ll change.