Marissa Explains It All #11 – Our Shallowest Concept of Religion, Apparently

I haven’t been writing much on here, partially due to the six-week writing residency I’ve been dealing with to nearly finish up grad school, and partially because… ::gestures vaguely around:: What even is there to say? I’m not sure what I could add to this situation. The President is literally trying to rig the election, fires people for not being “loyal”, and protesting is a felony now in Tennessee. Also my city was on fire a few months ago and since then, traffic rules have disappeared and I’m terrified to drive anywhere. What am I going to say other than “holy shit, this is fucked?” on repeat?

Then I saw a post on Tumblr, on the rare occasion I logged in longer than it took to see what my wife sent me, literally the only reason I have Tumblr in the first place, and I see a post about atheists. New atheists, specifically, but atheists nonetheless. I read through it once, and I had mixed feelings about it, but I had to go back to it at least twice because I couldn’t get it out of my head. Therefore, since I haven’t posted here since… ::checks:: … The same day the police murdered someone over an alleged fake 20 two miles from my house… I’m going to write about… not that.


It’s no secret that there is no “Atheist Community” at least as a monolith. With at least a quarter of the country identifying as “none,” diversity within the identification is guaranteed on anything other than belief in god. Which even then, that can be debated, considering how many alleged atheists seem to cozy up with right-wing fundamentalists when it comes to hating their favorite minority(ies), but I digress… The point is, atheists have a spectrum of identity, personality, cultural background, and douchebag capacity.

There is no doubt that a certain contingent of the atheist community is vocal, aggressive, and dedicated to the idea of congratulating each other for being smarter than everyone else while also refusing to examine any other morals, beliefs, biases, prejudices, or philosophies to which they may have subscribed before their deconversion. They’re just as likely to lash out at other atheists for being SJWs or snowflakes or whatever other word they’ve come up with that means “cares about other people” or “wants to hear voices other than straight cis white dudes.” I get it, I’ve been on the receiving end of it enough for my liking. That’s my first inclination when I read this post, sympathizing with the idea that some atheists just love to troll believers under any circumstances, for any reason. They’re from the kind that will troll someone a few hours after a loved one died because they had the nerve to believe they’re in a better place at their lowest moment. That is a problem that sometimes makes it difficult to even identify as an atheist, because the loud, boorish behavior is often the only representative encounter they’ve had with the supposed atheist community.

But then, I can’t get it out of my head. Are these commenters seemingly being dicks for the sake of it? Are they repeating the same tired cliches that they want anyone who speaks at an atheist convention to never diverge from? Yes. Are they emblematic of the aforementioned trollish behavior? Yes. Is there so much more to being an atheist than memes making fun of religious people or Noah’s Ark? Yes. But there’s a huge, enigmatic elephant in the room that shadows over the entire conversation here…


I’m not a fan of trolling religious people or dropping some of these comments as if they’re the pinnacle of human thought. They’re being dicks, no doubt about it, and we’ve all had to deal with these people who want us to “keep your social justice out of my atheism!” But is it the most shallow concept of religion to point out, you know, literally what the book says?

I didn’t even grow up religious, but I’ve had everything they referenced in these posts forced on me by the same people behind Trinity Lutheran and RFRAs, and with Gorsuch leaving the door open for RFRAs to supersede the law and Supreme Court decisions for everyone else, it’s not a slippery slope when organizations and corporations are suddenly identifying themselves as religious as a blanket-excuse to not pay taxes, shed light on their financial or social crimes, or discriminate against the queers and people of color. It’s not that it could happen. It’s happening, and with the president seeing a theocratic wet dream as a way to live out his fantasies of being a Strongman, the third of the country that will stand behind him on anything and everything are all too happy to continue making this a reality.

Yes, they’re being dicks. Yes, they’re tired cliches that even atheists are sick of hearing. But the book also actually says those things. Genocides happen in the bible constantly. Blood sacrifices are in there. Talking snakes are in there. A personal relationship with god is espoused in every sermon. This is also the same Jesus that 45 cultists proclaim personally appointed the president and his stolen Supreme Court justices, wrote the constitution, and loves everyone but favors discrimination against everyone but straight cis white Christian rich people.

So yeah, “see what I mean” person, you really proved your point about how atheists can be absolute dicks on the internet. You got us. Now maybe use some of that energy to talk about how the encroaching theocracy that uses those stories that are all in the holy book have eroded the church-state separation boundary nearly entirely for the sake of giving 45’s friends a tax haven and making sure anyone who doesn’t fit the gender standards to their desires can be refused medical treatment during a pandemic.

The most shallow concept of religion cannot be pointing out what the religion contains, regardless of the decorum of those who articulate and perpetuate it in the worst ways. Until those people have the power that the Christian nationalists have and are using it as dictation of government policy to give authoritarian powers to their favorite shock-jock atheist podcaster, maybe save some of your mic drops until we’re at least clear of ending up in Lark Hill until the COVID vaccine develops.

Marissa Explains It All #10 – Guilt Trip Meme-orial Day

I’m autistic. Holidays don’t really hold any significance in my life one way or the other. I don’t like being told to feel something because of a day on a calendar, or embodying an emotion because a day on the calendar says I should.

That said, I have military friends and family, and I can understand the need for memorializing those who performed a specific service for their country, regardless of feelings about said institutions, especially when they were your loved ones.

I do not understand the need to make sure that everyone feels guilty about it.

I have a complicated relationship with this country, to say the least. I’m told by a certain group of people that I don’t belong, that I should be banned, that I should have my rights taken away, but then those same people are aghast if I do not worship their idea of America simply by nature of being there. I don’t understand nationalism or patriotism for the sake of it. I don’t understand this need to remind everyone just how much you love the place you happened to be born. I hate absolutism. The “love it or leave it” bullshit is just an excuse to be self-righteous to anyone who doesn’t think exactly like you.

“Supporting the troops” is similar, and by that I don’t mean actual support for the military. I mean using it as a diversion in an argument to distract from the topic. Derailing a discussion with “what about homeless veterans” is so often said by people who don’t actually care or do anything about homeless veterans. It’s a power play. It’s a guilt trip. It’s designed to shut you down for whatever reason you were talking about or criticizing something. The policies supported and enacted by those who verbally fellate the military until it comes time to actually do anything about veterans suffering only scream of empty gestures designed to win votes and arguments.

I again note this is not maligning the military or those who actively support veterans. Please understand the difference.

This day is particularly egregious. Not for those grieving or remembering their fallen, but for those who share the same meme every year. Some version of it basically goes to share a grieving soldier, crying child with a flag, or some mixture of the two, and more or less “in case you thought today was about BBQs.”

Does anyone in this country actually think that?

It just feels like more guilt and shame thrown out to make sure everyone knows how good of a person you are and how patriotic you claim to be. And to an autistic person who doesn’t really comprehend the whole “this day means you feel this way” thing, it always makes me wonder:

Am I supposed to be sad? Okay, for how long am I supposed to be sad? The whole day? The whole weekend? The entire week?

Am I allowed to go to or have a BBQ? If so, do I have to be sad there? Does it have to be a solemn BBQ? Does going to a BBQ mean that’s what I think the day is about? How long do I have to be sad at the BBQ in order to not seem like I think the day is about that?

What is the line between going to a BBQ and thinking the day is for BBQs?

Isn’t a good way to commemorate freedom and honoring soldiers who fought for it to acknowledge that you have many freedoms, among them the right to have a BBQ with your friends?

But, all too often, it’s not about BBQs, or Memorial Day, or the military. It’s about someone reminding you that they’re a better person than you are because The Troops (TM), and while they have the freedom to do that, I’m not so sure that today is about being smug and self-righteous for the sake of winning an argument either.


Marissa Explains It All #9 – Hotel Life During the Quarantine

A few weeks ago, I was preparing for the football season, nearly done with my final full semester of grad school, visiting the zoo regularly, planning on various travel, anticipating my March Madness bracket, and excited for the tundra to finally melt and give us those glorious few weeks of a Minnesota summer.

Seems like another lifetime.

My life has changed dramatically, as my partner has moved in and I, like so many others, have changed their routine. For an autistic person, this is not an easy accomplishment. But what remains the same are my hours at the hotel, though that’s about the only thing familiar there at this point.

I of course acknowledge that I’m lucky as far as hotels go in that sense. I believe the staff has been reduced to eight people including the GM at this point. Most people have been let go or furloughed, but the fact that nobody wants to work the night shift means that I’m not likely to see any alterations to the schedule.

But holy shit is it isolating right now.

I watched as the number of rooms occupied went down. 32, 25, 16… We still had breakfast going, albeit altered to help comply with food regulations. Then one day I came in and all the furniture that wasn’t built into the floor in the lobby was gone. No chairs, no stools, only the sofas. Then the carpet was stripped out. Then the breakfast people told me it was their last day.

I came in after my days off to find the grand total of occupied rooms was… 3.

Night audit shifts are usually quiet, which is why I prefer them, but this is an eerie, uncomfortable silence. For two straight shifts, I didn’t see a single person. Our front door is permanently locked to avoid non-customers even coming inside. Running the audit is practically pointless because there’s nearly nothing to add up. Only two or three cars are in the parking lot. When I stand outside, maybe one window is lit up.

The breakfast food has been completely removed. The coffee is still technically there, but there’s no one for whom to brew it anyway, and even if there was, I’d have to go in the back to brew it and bring them a cup because it minimizes a common area. My supervisor was the one whose shift I replaced, and the GM has been the one relieving me in the morning. For most of the day, only one person is working at a time. No breakfast people coming in at 5. Maybe one housekeeper to change over a room. It’s bizarre.

I’ve played a lot of pool. There’s a pool table in the lobby and it passes the time. There are several TVs, but overnight TV with limited options doesn’t often bear much fruit.

I can’t stand overhead Muzak as it is, because I still have yet to understand why literally every public space has to have the same shitty adult contemporary playlist on repeat, but keeping it on with nobody there would be haunting. It’s bad enough hearing no sound throughout the hotel without adding in the withering waves of safe music bouncing through the halls.

The other day I was so shocked to see an actual person that I had to remind myself how to use the keymaker to give them a room.

Here’s an abridged tour of what my night is like:

A conversation before I left my most recent shift with my GM revealed to me that I would be considered an “essential” employee if Governor Walz added our state to the shelter-in-place list. I now have a list from the DHS should I be pulled over traveling, which is good since Governor Walz has issued the order to take place before my next shift. I also learned that even if the hotel did shut down, someone still has to be there 24/7, so my hours in a closed hotel would still remain the same, except I’d be an official babysitter instead of a glorified one. At least this way I’d know for sure I wouldn’t be seeing any people.

It’s a bizarre time, for sure. Hotels aren’t brought up in any of the essential/non-essential lists I’ve seen, but I understand that some may be commandeered for hospital space. For now, I’ll be defeating myself at 8-Ball while I occasionally check the TV guide to see if anything I can tolerate is on. Otherwise, I’ll be catching up on all my podcast subscriptions while hoping people are doing the same for the 3 I create.

But it’s weird to be more isolated and quarantined at my job than it is at home. At home, my house has three to four other people in it. At work, I see the second shift person at 11pm, and the third shift person at 7am, and most likely no one in between.

Marissa Explains It All #8 – I Voted… That’s All

I can’t honestly say I’ve never gotten involved in politics or the discussions thereof. The first words in my first book were directly confronting that notion. I’m not an outsider or an objective fencesitter or anything of the like.

But I’m also exhausted. Of four years of being constantly dehumanized. Of four years of wondering which of my community’s rights will be stripped next. Of wondering who among the citizens I encounter takes the words of hate pastors or other problematic speakers literally and thinks they should burn me alive if they see me. I’m exhausted of having to be on edge all the time, of having to constantly face the “educate me or I’ll side with your oppressor” ilk, of watching obscenely rich white men get away with literally anything they want to with little to no consequences.

Then I have to see my own communities of friends and allies and shared hopes and dreams turn into vicious factions attacking each other?


I donated to two campaigns. One who is still in the race. One who is no longer. I voted today on Super Tuesday here in Minnesota. That’s about all I’m telling anyone but those who are closest to me, because I see what happens when names get brought up. I see the fights, the vitriol, the dehumanization. And just to be clear, I’m not shaming anyone who participates in those discussions at all, I’m simply saying I don’t have the energy or heart to participate in them right now. I’m tired.

The idea of four more years of someone who thinks of me as subhuman and can break any law he wants with no consequence terrifies me. I’m exhausted of being terrified. I never know what post on Facebook is going to scroll by where I learn that another person from my community has been murdered or has taken their own life from the constant yammering assault of trolls who get off on other people suffering. Maybe I’m too pie-in-the-sky Nice World Syndrome-ish, but I miss at least pretending that the majority of people I might run into in a day are nice and friendly.

I don’t want to face it from my friends too.

I don’t have the heart for it right now. I don’t want to be torn apart because I didn’t vote for the same person that someone I like did in a primary. I’m already exhausted of this election and it’s not even happening for another eight months. I hate that our election system is a never-ending televised spectacle. I wish I didn’t have to keep fighting every day, but I also know that the people pushing the constant bills and laws to further dehumanize us are counting on exhaustion and apathy, so I can’t let it get to me.

But that doesn’t make me want to subject myself to fights either.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have those discussions. I’m not saying anyone who does is bad. I’m not saying I think badly of people who can fight and debate with the utmost intensity and passion for their preferred candidate. I’m only saying I don’t have the fucking energy to engage right now, because I’ve been engaged so much in the last few years that I can’t add something else to the load.

I just don’t want to fight with my friends right now too. I’m sensitive enough without adding that to it.

But I voted today. I did the thing. I voted with my heart for the person I wanted to vote for, not who I thought had the best chance to win. And I don’t really owe anyone anything more than that, or at all.

Marissa Explains It All #2 – Overheard at the Zoo

There are two zoos near me, and I frequent both of them, sometimes in the same day.

It’s odd to me how many people think that you should stop going to the zoo after age six or so, unless you’re taking children aged six or under.

Complicated feelings about animals in captivity aside, so please save those, I absolutely love the zoo. Not only have I learned so much about animals, but I feel a deeper empathy with them. I care about the ones I see on a regular basis, and I’m way more inclined to step up and try to help when I can in terms of conservation and preservation.

I have no idea why this is strictly a straight-parents-with-young-kids-only space.

My partner and I are #flanneldyke gay with matching purple hair, and the stares we get are pretty indicative that we’re not supposed to be there. The amount of strollers from which these stares come from above… It’s like they’re saying “how dare you also like cute animals?” I had no idea straight cis young parents had that market cornered.

All that to be said, the animals are not the only source of entertainment at the zoo.

As much as I try to recognize societally-embedded feelings of classism and ableism, there are also times where I have to wonder out loud or to my partner, “what the hell did you just say?”

Yesterday while near the arctic fox area, I listened as three people tried to point out to a middle-aged woman where the cuddly little bug was. Pointing didn’t help, saying what it was near didn’t help, but finally, when she saw it, she followed up with “oh, I didn’t realize it was white.”

Maybe I’d have been more surprised if the same thing was said near the polar bear, or she didn’t know what it was she was looking for, but that was still one of those… ::pause:: moments. Similar to the discussion on the previous post about drunk middle-aged hockey parents in my hotel about “chicken of the sea” vs. “chicken of the woods.”

It’s hard not to categorize some of the comments I hear to reflect upon the state of education in this country, even as I recognize some of the problematic nature of those presumptions.

This is, of course, when screaming kids aren’t being set free to do whatever they want, including banging on the windows or trying to touch the animals. It was actually a shock to hear a parent tell her kid to stop yelling on the outdoor trail recently, as that is usually something wished for but never heard. That’s often why I try to go close to closing or during the weekday when it’s cold or cloudy. Given that this is Minnesota, that is a frequent occurrence this time of year.

The zoo is a great place to hear the calls of the animals. My favorite sound in nature is the call of the loon, a northern bird similar to a duck in shape or penguin in its diving. But due to the space they would require and the laws protecting them, they couldn’t be kept in a zoo unless it was a sanctuary with a lot of space, as their need for 500 feet of water to take off flying alone would require.

But if you visit some primates from the tropics, and you’re not prepared for the yelping of the gibbon, you might think that either someone left the car alarm on or Pyramidhead is about to come mess some shit up. The gibbons, arboreal New World apes that swing around the trees and have no prehensile tail, occasionally let loose with a whooping noise that is unlike anything I’ve ever heard.

Now, why have my first two blog posts been mostly musings about inconsequential topics?

Fair question. In such turbulent times, it’s easy to get caught up in political malaise and passive nihilism. Or aggressive shitposting, depending on how passionate you are about hating certain kinds of people… can’t imagine why I don’t have comments on… But for those of us who don’t really get into holidays, or need a break from the beaver dam of the bureaucratic portajohn, sometimes it’s easier to take amusement in the audio equivalent of people-watching while also seeing cute animals do stuff.

That’s also why I love TikTok, even though I’m apparently twice the age needed to not yell “get off my lawn” about it. Mostly I post zoo videos there, such as the one I included for an example of the gibbon yell. At a time where hatred, trolling, and constant fighting transpire on a second-to-second basis, sometimes I’d rather just watch a snow leopard spaz out over a branch or hear this very real thing I once overheard at the zoo, word-for-word, after this closing paragraph. That, I hope, is a welcome reprieve from the cavalcade of dipshittery that is our daily existence right now. I’ll post about more important things once I get the hang of this blogging thing once again. I now leave you with my favorite #OverheardAtTheZoo quote. Enjoy your day, whether you celebrate something or not.

“That’s not a basketball, that’s a giraffe.”

You’re welcome.