Found this little gem in my website stats yesterday. I love this so much; you have no idea. Someone told me today that “The Mad Scientist” is a very masculine term. Hell yes, let’s subvert that shit!
The Mad Scientist
Is ageism really a thing? Or have we really just ventured so far into the Land of the Politically Correct as a culture that everything is now accompanied by its own -ism? Is it just a word that the young make up for when they don’t feel they’re being taken as seriously as they’d like? I don’t know.
But there was this lady on the bus today, trying to get onto an already jam-packed bus with a cart brimming full with things. An older woman helped her pull her cart into the bus, and she said, “You helped me even though you’re probably a senior citizen yourself. There are so many able-bodied around who didn’t help.”
“They are all caught in their own cocoons,” said the other woman, by way of apology for my generation.
No, woman, I wanted to say. We are all tired here. I have been on my feet for ten hours, and I’m not the only one.
And, woman, this bus is crowded.
She isn’t the only one who would have helped. She just got to you first.
Guys, I am trying to work through my thoughts on rape culture and apologetics. It’s hard to chew on and even harder to have constructive dialogue about it. I get emotional, talking about this stuff. I get all worked up. I can’t help it that my brain keeps howling, “NO. WRONG,” when victim-blaming comes up (and it comes up way too fucking often). It’s hard not to have a visceral reaction to something that seems so fundamentally wrong to me, on such a basic level.
I want to have constructive dialogue about this stuff, guys.
I want to find the words. I want to research. I want to be able to articulate exactly how and why it is never a victim’s fault. I want to be able to say it in a way that will make people actually reconsider their point of view.
Gender equality. Why does this still need talking about? Why aren’t we there yet?
And rape culture. Why, as a woman, is this still something that I can see so clearly, and yet some people refuse to admit it exists? Am I talking into a vacuum?
It’s something that seems so basic, and yet, I get it. People mean well when they say these things that go screeching in the opposite direction of everything that I believe is right. When people say things like, “Well, of course a woman should be able to wear whatever she wants, but the fact of the matter is, when she wears X, Y, or Z, she’s putting herself in danger,” I know they mean well.
But oh dear god, what the fuck? How do I even talk about how wrong I find this? Why is the onus on the woman to avoid being raped? Why is rape still compared to theft? We are people, and the body is not a thing. In what other scenario does it seem sane to talk to a victim this way? Would you tell a nine-year-old to avoid their abusive parent? Would you subtly tell him that this is his fault? That’s the language abusers use, and that is the language of a culture that perpetuates abuse.
And yet this is the culture we live in, and I’m interested in talking about it. I want to take it apart like the inside of a remote, look at it and figure out what makes it tick; I want to put it back together better than it was before. All I have is my incredulity, my visceral gut reaction, but I’ve always been a words person.
Let me tell you, I have a lot of reading to do.
I had another post I was going to write, about something else entirely. But, I just read a post on a high school friend’s blog that was deeply nostalgic for me. So bear with me for a second: When I was younger, I was obsessed with the idea of “growing up,” or the lack thereof. I wanted to be Peter Pan in a magic kingdom; I didn’t want to grow up. I saw around me an adult world of bills, 9-to-5’s, and not much joy, and I swore that would never be me. I would be Other, I would do something else.
That hasn’t exactly happened. Surprise, surprise, I’m not Peter Pan (damn it). But as it turns out, I take a lot of joy in my 9-to-5. I enjoy the company it puts me in and the challenge of mastery of an art. I’ve always been such a marshmallow, such a soft, fragile girl. I cry at everything. Professional kitchens, though? Kitchens aren’t like that. Kitchens are hard and hot, sweaty and fast. I like my work because I like proving to myself, every day, that I can be that person. That I can rise to the occasion and get that shit done.
Kitchens are also vulgar and the opposite of “precious”, and I like that too. I like the sense of balance that it adds to my life, the order and chaos that it imposes on me.
Most days I even take joy from getting my bills paid on time, because it means I have a handle on this life. It means that I am sustaining myself. Living with depression is like living with a slightly feral, senile old dog that won’t ever seem to die. That is to say, sometimes it feels like it could eat a girl alive. So understand that I think it’s awesome that I am surviving and still doing what I love in this world of adults.
The older I get, the less I see “growing up” as a destination. It’s not becoming more or becoming less, but becoming Other. Other than you were, different in ways great and small. Joy and pain temper us.
I’ve looked heartbreak and loss-of-life in the face, and they’ve stared back and blinked their eyes at me. And then I’ve moved on. I’ll meet them again, and I’m not the only one. We make up platitudes to make sense of it, to make ourselves feel better, but it’s all still the same in the end. Ashes to ashes, baby.
How did Henry Rollins put it? “I’m trying to survive America.”
I got some stickers printed up, and they’re finally here! I am psyched. Here’s a little peek at the design:
I’ve got a lot of these little guys (and I mean a lot), and in the interest of sharing the Mad Scientist love, I’m looking to give some away. They’re about 4″x1.5″, nice quality vinyl, and pretty darn waterproof. If anyone wants a few, give me a holler, and I’ll mail some your way free of charge.
Hello, sweet reader, I’m glad you’re here with me.
I’m sure by now you’ve noticed the cryptic “Who is the Mad Scientist?” banner on the front of this website. So… who is the Mad Scientist? Someone out of myth and memory, the deadly lady… the star of my novel.
That’s right, I’m writing a novel. It’s my second attempt, and let me just say: writing a novel is hard. I’m not going to quit, but sweet reader, I’m bogged down in the middle of my novel. I made the mistake of going back and re-reading, and now my internal editor won’t shut the hell up. I see plot holes a mile wide. I am stuck. I’m wading into the deep waters with nothing but a pen and half of an outline clutched in my fists. I’ve also got a cold, and in sitting down here to write to you, I’ve even misplaced my coffee. I am a mess today, gentle reader.
Complaining about deep-seated fears and airing self-doubt is so easy, isn’t it?
And conversely, self-promotion can be so hard.
This is how it used to go: People I haven’t seen in a while would ask what I’ve been up to lately, and I’d chirp, “Oh, nothing much! Work, same as ever! How are you?” in this neurotically enthusiastic tone of voice. Whew, uncomfortably honest conversation deflected. It’s only recently that I’ve become comfortable looking people straight in the eye, giving them a smile, and saying, “I’ve been working on my novel.”
It stems from that fear, I think, that got instilled in some of us when we were small, and someone asked, “Who do you think you are?” or, “Oh, you think you’re special?” in that nasty tone of voice. (Barbara Sher wrote an excellent chapter on this in her book, Wishcraft. I highly recommend it.) Some days, that voice makes me afraid of telling people, “I am working on a novel. I have been submitting my short stories and poems to paying publications. I am working on becoming a published author.” Because god forbid someone thinks that I think that I’m special.
What the fuck? If I don’t think I’m at least a little bit special, a little bit great, then why should anyone else? If I don’t think I can accomplish these things, then I probably never will. So fuck that, and here’s to a little bit of shameless self-promotion.
And here’s to me actually getting a new chapter of this freaking novel written today. You go do something great too, sweet reader, gentle Brother-in-arms. I know you can.