The Friend Manual, Part IV

This one is all from you–from the brilliant comments on Part I, Part II, and Part III of the Friend Manual series. You made me think of new things, put into words things that had been percolating in my mind, and in the case of this comment from tolladay, reduced me to unexpected tears over my laptop.

So here you go, the advice of your co-commenters:

15. Unsolicited Advice is Awful
(From Ashley, herself!)

Please don’t tell me what kind of medicine is good/bad, what kind of therapy is good/bad, and how I should cope with things UNLESS I ask you for that advice. If I complain of depression, a headache, an allergic reaction, a panic attack, or PTSD, the correct response is not “Why aren’t you taking [MEDICINE]?” or “Why haven’t you dealt with that yet?” or any other attempts at help that read like you think you know more about my life and conditions than I do.

Even if you have the best possible intentions, just don’t do this. It always manages to sound like the worst mix of unsympathetic and nosy. If you simply can’t contain your medicinal Holy Grail, start with “I might have a suggestion–are you interested?”

16. Just Listen
(From anthonyallen)

What helps me most is to have someone just simply listen. You don’t have to solve my problems for me, you don’t even have to understand them, but if I work up the courage to actually speak about what’s gotten me into my latest spiral, all I need from you is that you care enough to really listen to me. That alone helps me more than all the therapy in the world and all the meds there are.

17. Don’t Make Comparisons
(from Nepenthe)

The biggest thing I ask from friends is that they don’t make that comparison, unless they actually have depression/an eating disorder.

It’s like… no, your temporary sadness does not have any meaningful comparison to the suicidal ideation that has plagued me for 15 years. Have your down days ever led you to be sequestered in a locked ward against your will? Has your diet ever led you to burst into tears in a grocery store because the thought of dealing with food was too overwhelming? No? Then I think we have very little in common in this regard.

18. And Another Thing About Not Being A Therapist…
(from chrislawson)

I’d add one more point (although it’s in a sub-class of trying to be a therapist), and that is: Don’t suggest new therapies that you read about in a magazine/on the news/in a pamphlet at your local health food shop. Most people think they’re helping when they do this, but they don’t understand that people with chronic illnesses (and not just in mental health) get bombarded with crappy information from well-wishers who know nothing about the illness or the evidence (or lack thereof) for the treatment they are enthused about. Essentially what they’re saying is “I know nothing about your condition or this suggested treatment, but if I pressure you to put in the effort of researching and/or trying it, then I get to feel good about myself.”

The Friend Manual, Part I
The Friend Manual, Part II
The Friend Manual, Part III 

The Friend Manual, Part IV

The Friend Manual: Part II

Part II of the Friend Manual is all about what you can do to be a better supporter for your friend(s) who have mental illness. It’s not the Don’ts–it’s the Do’s!

You can find Part I of the Friend Manual in yesterday’s post.

6. Set Boundaries

You don’t have to be available for me at all times. As I might have mentioned, you aren’t my therapist. I might be really distressed and unable to take the hints you’re trying to lay out about the homework you need to do. So, instead of feeling like a doormat, take care of yourself.

Oh no, it seems like you need someone to listen. I’m not available right now, how about Friend X/therapist/counseling center? Will you be okay for the night if I call you at [name specific time] tomorrow morning? I’m not in the right place to be helpful to you right now, but I want to make you feel better.  When can I do that?

7. Be Really Specific

So you can’t hang out tonight? Awesome, because you know, you don’t have to be available at all times (See #6). Be extra-super specific about why.

I’m sorry I can’t talk right now–I promised Josie I’d have this apple pie baked by five, and since she’s helping me with writing my resume, I think it’s important that I don’t flake on her.

I know we said that we’d meet for coffee, but I’ve just realized I have a deadline for Project Gadget at noon tomorrow, that means I have to send a lot of email and wait for responses. I’d rather not be distracted and leave early–can we pick a better time when I can listen to you fully?

Cancelling or disappearing with little to no clear warning can be really really stressful, particularly if you are someone I traditionally look to when I need support. I know that clear communication isn’t exactly the status quo in our society, but taking the time to adjust your Something Came Up to a Real Explanation can prevent me from spending my evening working myself into knots over the idea that you hate being near me.

8. Do Some Reading

(Look, relevant Cumberbatch .gif!)

Doing your research doesn’t make you an expert, and it doesn’t excuse you from items 2 and 3. But this will prevent you from blaming penis envy, or saying something jaw-droppingly ignorant, like “well, doesn’t everyone have depression?”. (Hint: No.) I also find myself significantly more comfortable with friends who ask personal questions in the form of “I’ve heard most people experience X when they have your disorder. Do you ever have that?” What that says is “I’ve done some sort of poking around because I want to understand what you’re feeling, but I’m not you, so I’m asking about your subjective experience.” That, dear readers, is true friendship.

9. You Do Not Have to ‘Get It’

Quite honestly, this policy covers more than mental illness, but it applies very very well. The link is a long form explanation (and well worth reading), but here’s the short deal.

Say I have something you find completely irrational. Paralyzing fear of purple-painted toenails, for instance. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s the most ridiculously silly terror on the face of this planet. I feel it. Treat it seriously, and I will feel better–mock me, make it a joke, treat it as a quirk (more on that later) and I won’t.

Understanding is overrated, and deciding that you just have to “get it” makes for lots of prying conversations and explaining over and over and over again. Accept that unless you have the same disorder with all the same features and triggers, you aren’t going to understand. The best you can do is accept. Accepting isn’t some second-class action to understanding. It’s coffee and hugs on good days, and the voice on the other end of the phone on the bad ones. When I know you accept what I tell you, I tell you more. When you to try to understand, I feel like a bug under a microscope.

I still have some left–feel free to keep adding to the list! Part III will be up tomorrow.

The Friend Manual: Part II

The Friend Manual: Part I

Part II
Part III
Part IV 

I am a friend to some lovely brilliant people with mental illness. I also have my own experiences with persistent brainfail, and some really wonderful friends who show up and give me hugs, talk me through the worst nights, and know that when I say I’m not doing so well and need space…I really need space right then and there.

I also have acquaintances who cannot do this. For them, when I want to say “I am incapable of normal interaction right now, please come back later.”, what actually comes out of my mouth is “Oh man, I have a really bad headache.” I am sure that these people, who have always meant well–and include Don’t You Know That’s Bad For You Person and Sometimes I Forget To Eat Too Person–would be shocked, shocked to hear that they’ve said tactless things. After all, that’s how it works–you don’t realize.

Don’t want to be that person?
Have a friend with mental illness?
(Chances are, you probably do.)
Want to make your friend feel like a valued part of society that you care for? If the answer to this is no, artist Ologies has this for you.
With that idea in mind, I’ve put together some basic  ideas for being the best human being you can for someone who’s just told you they have Disorder X.

A Most Important Caveat: It may be that your friend has no interest in discussing anything past the original disclosure. Please make sure to continually check that they are comfortable answering questions….and emphasize that they can tell you to stop at any time, or refuse to answer personal questions they are uncomfortable with. When I feel that I cannot leave or postpone conversations once they’ve begun, I will do anything to prevent them from starting in the first place. Safe spaces aren’t safe when they don’t have an exit.

1. Words Matter More Than Anything
So they found the words to tell you how they feel? Pay attention. Words are the best way we know to get others inside our heads, and the words they use to describe their experience are the most important tools they are giving you. She feels fragile? That’s not the same as depressed. So he is feeling depressed? That is not called feeling sad. I feel most understood and valued and listened-to when I hear someone work within the bounds of how I’ve described my feelings.

You said you were feeling like you had no momentum. Do you still feel like that? Will you feel better if I take you out to dinner and we catch a movie? Or would that make you feel like you have to pretend to be enjoying yourself?

2. Do. Not. Assume.

I know that one of the most basic human instincts is to relate to one another by shared experience. Do not try this.

So, you had that one friend with bipolar disorder that one time back at that one place? Cool story, bro. I can assure you that I am not that friend. In this particular example, there’s the problem that there’s two expressions of bipolar disorder. Didn’t know that? That’s cool. You don’t have to. All you have to know is that I am Me, and that Me is not the same as That Other Person With Disorder X.

3. You Don’t Have to Be Their Therapist

You know them so well, and if you could only get them to consider… No.

Stop right there.

I get it, and you do have a special frame of refernce, but Stop It. Now. Make like a pumpkin and squash that feeling.

4. No, Really, Please Don’t Try to Be A Therapist

If you’re my friend, we have a give-and-take. Sometimes I listen to you talk about that one time you tried to explain an Important Thing to your mom/boyfriend/girlfriend/professor and they Just Didn’t Get It, and sometimes you listen to me grouch about my stressful day at work. We trade off on this, and if we didn’t, I would be a bad friend, and it would be totally fine if you called me on it, or just decided to find the right kind of friends.

This is not how therapy works. Therapists and counselors and psychologists get paid the fancy money to do things like get mad when their clients don’t do their homework and ask really personal questions, and as a result, their clients can expect that they will be given attention, that their problems will be the focus, and that if they don’t seem to be getting the right kind of help, they can fire the therapist. The friendships are far more complex, and as a result, you don’t get to fire your friends, and you don’t have to pay them.

5. I Mean It. You Aren’t A Therapist.

Really, if there’s anything you take away from all these words, let this be it. It will be painful, uncomfortable, and probably downright annoying. You aren’t qualified, and I’d rather have my friend.

What you can do is offer to find local counseling centers. Take me to my appointments if I can’t get there, or give really big hugs when I leave them and I still feel bad. There are therapists out there, and lots of them. Possession of a dusty degree in psychology or that one textbook from freshman year Intro Psych does not somehow negate your Friend Identity. Even if you were a therapist, you should never ever try to treat your friends. So really. Don’t do that.

I started this post, and suddenly I was sitting around with two thousand words on my computer. Part II will be coming soon–in the meantime, leave me suggestions for things I have left out or could have said better!

The Friend Manual: Part I

Neiman Marcus attacks Women’s Shelter over name

Neiman Marcus apparently has a brand they’ve trademarked called “LAST CALL” through which they sell high-end clothes.

Columbia, SC, has a charity resale store called “Revente’s Last Call“, which is essentially a Goodwill, that gives all of its procedes to the local Women’s Shelter.

RLC was opened in 2010 to benefit The Women’s Shelter. We donate ALL of our net profits to the shelter and also clothe those in need through referrals from various local agencies.  As of May 1, 2012 we have donated over $40,000 to the Womens Shelter.

Well, Neiman Marcus is apparently concerned that “Revente’s Last Call” is going to be confused with “Last Call with Carson Daly” “Last Call by Neiman Marcus” and has sent a letter threatening to take legal action against the charity.

Sometimes, corporations have just no idea that they are coming across as complete jackasses, do they?

My immediate instinct would be to encourage a boycott of the local Neiman Marcus but, oops, there isn’t a Neiman Marcus in Columbia, SC.  In fact, there’s not a Neiman Marcus in the ENTIRE state.  But they feel really threatened by The Women’s Shelter charity anyway, I guess.  Their Facebook statement to the complaints:

Like all businesses, we have a responsibility to protect our trademarks. Our VP of corporate communications can be reached at (214) 573-5822 if you would like a more detailed statement from us. Thank you.

Oh hey, look there’s a number we can all call!  So call that, and if you want to write about this and help ensure they get the bad PR they deserve, please do! I will even link to you if you want!

And here’s a wonderful suggestion by Christopher Bickel:

Neiman’s team could have been more proactive in sending a letter stating “We believe that your store’s name unintentionally infringes on our mark, but we are prepared to help you defray the costs of changing it in light of the mission of your organization” or alternatively “we would be happy to allow you a non-exclusive license to use the mark so long as your store continues to serve the community as a non-profit.” Sometimes protecting your PR is as important as protecting your legal rights.

The fact is, Neiman could have been a lot better about this in a dozen ways.  For example, picking up the phone and calling the charity instead of sending them a legal letter.

My recommendation to all corporations: Before you wave around your legal dick to threaten people over sketchy, petty bullshit, make sure you’re not doing it to a company that does something like feed orphans, save battered women, or clothe homeless vets.

Neiman Marcus attacks Women’s Shelter over name

The food of my childhood, the food of Southern poor white trash

I am having a hard time with all the visceral disgust being aimed at the show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, because so much of it seems to be just hate aimed at Southern poor people.  I suppose I understand that the behavior of a family from the rural south  is much different than the behavior of most of the viewers, but I don’t really understand what’s so offensive about it.

The show, if you’re unfamiliar, follows a little girl, who calls herself Honey Boo Boo Child, and her family as they go to pageants (they are Toddlers & Tiaras alums), coupon, and go to things like the redneck olympics.  They are from rural Georgia and are not the typical people who get their own reality programming — the mother is 33 with 4 daughters and a granddaughter (with 3 thumbs) and she weighs 309 pounds; she is unapologetic about all of this.

Today someone on Facebook, who I am very good friends with and like very much, posted:

Flipping channels caused me to land on this damned Honey Boo Boo thing, so out of curiosity I decided hey, why not see what happens in five minutes? In five minutes the little girl says “it’s been a while since I done had roadkill in my belly.” So I guess they’re using ground beef to make “sketti.” The sauce, though. The sauce? The sauce is butter and ketchup melted together in the microwave. “It’s an old family recipe.” No shit? Butter and ketchup? Margarine. Margarine and ketchup. An old family recipe? Grandma passed that down, did she? DON’T TELL NO ONE THE SECRET! Then they throw the noodles against the kitchen cabinets to see if they stick, and scream at everyone to let them know it’s done. This family is an abomination. Oh, and some of the kids are eating out of margarine tubs. People watch this? And like it? I hate this country so fucking much sometimes.

I can understand thinking the show is “rednecksploitation”, but I am really surprised at the amount of vitriol that is aimed at that family — and I find it genuinely upsetting.  I know that’s silly, it’s a TV show, but it feels personal and like I should be ashamed of how I was raised and who I was as a kid.  I totally ate that way growing up.  I haven’t had this particular recipe, which is known as “depression spaghetti”, but I definitely ate out of old food containers and threw noodles on the cabinet to see if they were done.

I wasn’t poor, but I grew around people who were poor or had been raised poor, and they eat some things that not-poor people find weird.  I didn’t learn that until I was older.  So, I’ve come up with a list of things that I ate as a kid or people I knew ate, I’m curious which ones are weird.  Y’all eat any of this?  Y’all eat anything weird too?

  • Mayonnaise sandwiches
  • Ketchup sandwiches
  • Stale cornbread in milk
  • Saltines in milk
  • Hot dog and baked bean casserole
  • Tomato sandwiches
  • Cows tongue
  • Peanut butter and banana sandwiches
  • Mayonnaise and banana sandwiches
  • Peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches
  • Peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwiches
  • Tuna noodle casserole
  • Vienna sausages wrapped in American cheese
  • American cheese and mayonnaise sandwiches
  • American cheese garlic toast
  • Hot dog meat sloppy joes
  • Saltines in thousand island dressing
  • Canned fruit with Cool Whip
  • Coke with salted peanuts (yes, peanuts in the coke)
  • Mashed potatoes with ketchup
  • Eggs with ketchup
  • Peanut butter and pimiento cheese sandwiches
  • Pimiento cheese and tomato pie

EDIT: I’m adding more as I remember them

The food of my childhood, the food of Southern poor white trash

Stalkers: Welcome to life as a girl on the internet

I think people sometimes underestimate the weirdness that one faces by being a semi-public online woman.  The following is a story about extreme creepiness and stalkerdom.  I was asked by another stalkee to publish the stalker’s name — I felt justified in doing so on my own, but probably wouldn’t have, but since she has requested it: his name is Mauricio Martinez, he is from Ontario, and he is a creepy ass liar who uses the internet to try to hurt people.

Prologue: Once upon a time (2 years ago) in Canada, there was a Girl and there was a boy, MM. MM was married, with a pregnant wife. Girl was polite to MM, and so, barely knowing her and right after they met, he asked her out.  Girl was not interested, for many reasons, including because he had a wife and children, and so she said no, thinking that was the end of it.  Very soon after this, MM proposed to Girl.  Girl, unsurprisingly, said no to this as well.

In response to the proposal rejection, MM ragequit his job.  He sent Girl a message and was dismayed to find that she didn’t particularly care.  There were some fleeting attempts at contact, and then Girl blocked him.  And so two years passed without her thinking about him.  Occasionally, the pass one another in same public spaces, but do no interact other than to avoid one another.  She had no idea he still thought of her, and now is afraid because he knows where she lives…

Last winter, Girl and I became Facebook friends because we both enjoyed the same sort of threads and arguments.  We weren’t terribly close or anything, just friendly acquaintances on the internet.

Beginning in April, I got several Facebook messages from this guy, MM.  In the first, he complimented me on my choice of FB picture, but then he followed with some basic questions about atheism.  Basic meaning many paragraphs long about him, but questions like “does calling religion stupid help atheists”, which I answered in a short reply, and he followed with a lengthy essay to which I gave an even shorter reply.

I did not reply to his many further attempts at contact.  I don’t know him, have no friends in common with him, and did not friend him.  He seemed creepy and weird, but hadn’t done anything particularly Alarm worthy.  Just weird messages like this that I didn’t respond to:

I was wandering around the internet (quite innocently) the past few weeks when suddenly someone decided to pull out the fucking ACME Handbook of Online Seduction and Emotional Manipulation (believe me I am familiar with every page of it, don’t get me started) and they clearly also bought the expansion pack with 50 per cent more passive aggression. Being well-versed in its conventions I naturally spotted it and shut it down pretty quickly, but you know, sometimes with a sports team, you like the team but you hate the playbook; sometimes with a movie you like the actor but don’t like the script. And sometimes, with an individual, you can like them just fine but their methods are pretty fucking disgusting. They really followed the handbook with a kind of dogmatic fervor, down to the implied suicide threat.

Doesn’t bother me too much really; it does bring out a ruthlessness in me that I must admit I kind of enjoy. It’s just that a surplus of profit soon brings an embarrassment of riches. It’s funny, kind of, in that I’m sure IRL this person is somewhat of a prize. Wasting their time on bullshit doesn’t seem like a good use of time and resources. But you never know, maybe it’s influences of environment or people they hang out with. Too bad. It’s a game really, with the ending always decided in advance. The game always ends with a block.

Anyway, it’s not the first time it’s happened. If there’s any real annoyance involved it’s that if I really start attracting that many psychos I guess I’m gonna have to take a second look at the cologne I’m wearing.

A couple of weeks ago, I guess he got called out on lurking by somebody when he commented on some post about rape culture, and I got another very long message from him, but this one was significantly weirder.  As far as I can tell, he started stalking me on Facebook so he could convince Girl that he and I were “soul mates”. For unrelated reasons, around the time he started following me, she deleted her FB account and started a new one under a pseudonym, but he interpreted this as a sign of success of his plan to drive her away, despite the fact that he had not been in contact with Girl for years.

I would like to reiterate that I do not know this guy at all.  He has apparently constructed in his mind that his assholery has cost him something with me — like I was interested in him before he sent his confession e-mail rather than someone who ignored the five previous long e-mails he’d sent.  I don’t know, the whole thing is super weird and I don’t know what to make of it.  Other than I feel 1. stalked 2. like someone intentionally tried to make someone hate me for twisted, fucked up reasons and 3. like someone is stalking my internet friend hardcore and trying to transfer his weird stalker obsession onto me.

August 21


Sorry for speaking out of turn or whatnot but I felt I had to make that point as I’m really interested in rape culture and this whole harassment situation has really angered me and that anger needed an outlet.

I think your friend there kind of called me out for lurking and rightly so – I have been lurking, for quite some time – and here’s why.

I guess around two years ago now I had an unfortunate entanglement with [Name Redacted] which I ended – to the benefit of me, her, and everyone around us – but which led to close to two years of passive-aggressive trolling from both of us. She was basically tracking every single move I was making on the internet so I kind of cooked up a scheme whereby I would find someone on her f-list and kind of make it look like I was into them. Maybe you didn’t notice. She did. And so.

And it worked! Holy shit. The whole thing lasted for about five minutes but led to – as far as I know – her deleting fucking everything and moving on with her life. Yay! You have no idea of the victory dances that were had with this. Ok. So it should have stopped there. And then…


That whole TAM thing exploded and it was SO FUCKING INTERESTING. I started lurking lots of people in the skeptical community because every day there was more new drama and it was (sorry for being morbid and prurient here) SUPER FUN. Like, you ever watch Maury and are like *GASP* all the time and you can’t turn away? Yeah. And it continues now, even with the tfoot thing.

So there it is I’m a drama addict and I lurk. I think it’s pretty harmless, but if it makes you uncomfortable obviously let me know and I will try my best to pry myself away. I must admit a highlight for me was the blocking of [Name Redacted] – I really didn’t like that guy – I hated his vulgar Marxism.

On an added note, I do self-identify as an atheist now. I used to say I was just agnostic, but I agree with Penn Jillette that agnosticism and atheism are answers to two separate questions. And since I don’t actively believe in God… yeah

43 minutes ago

I keep writing because I keep feeling as if I owe you something, and I think that’s true, and now I guess it’s time to settle up.

I’m sorry for using you as a bit of a chess piece there. Now, I realize I was just going by the surface of things, and there’s a lot that I will never know about the situation, but [Name Redacted] – as she goes by now – really seemed to have this persistent obsession/bitterness that needed to be put to rest, and I hope it is now.

Please believe me, this was a real problem. Sure, for the short time (six fucking weeks) we knew each other emotions ran high but we’d never kissed or even so much as held hands with each other. We’ve never even been out for coffee – and I go out for coffee, even drinks, with women all the time and it’s never been a problem, and we never even got that far. For someone to act as if their life is ruined and that somehow that justifies them owning your ass is seriously fucking dangerous. I’m sorry for venting but she makes me really fucking angry. That said I hope you reconnect, because I’m sure she’s over it by now. And if you don’t, I’m really sorry you lost a friend, especially from this.

So why you, and why did it work (at least, I think, in the long run)? Well, part of this – how shall I call it – ‘determined love’ (oh my. lol) was this idea of soulmates or two people who were so alike that they were perfect for each other. And the fact is on paper – or in the third person, what have you – you fit that description far far far better than she did, or ever will. That was the trump card. And I genuinely thought you were really cool. You are, of course, very crushable and I’m sure you have stockpiles of creepy internet love there in your archive as evidence to support that sentiment. But my intentions are far less than creepy so I’ll decline to elaborate on that here.

To close, I’d just like to reiterate how sorry I am for treating you like an object in some twisted manipulative game. While I can argue that my intentions were good, there was some real damage done and this has resulted in a significant loss – for me. I’ve always liked you and I tend to be careful with people I have reservations about losing. And if I had met you under any other circumstance I would have been far more careful with you.

Welcome to the creepy archive, MM.

He sent Girl the following message as well.  This is creepy 1. because it’s the first contact she’s had from him in years and 2. because he had to seek her out and find her new FB profile which is under a pseudonym:

Thank you for rejecting me those years ago. It was a really good decision and at the time I didn’t realize how important it was. I’m sorry for ending it the way I did and for whatever hurt it caused then or after but I felt so stupid and guilty for messing with you – and the fact is, if you would have taken that chance believe me it would have fucked a lot of people over and would have killed you, and would kill you now if I ever gave you that chance again and you took me up on it. You have no idea how divorce fucks everything and just looking in from the outside I have to say that nobody ever gets what they want but you have what you need, and I will never be able to match that. And I’m not talking about material possessions here, I’m talking about family ties and support networks and just free time, which I won’t have for a about ten more years. I never want you to feel that whatever happened was because you’re not good enough or whatnot. It’s because I can’t fit you in my life and you fit so much better in other places. Better places. Believe me. So please just let it go. There’s nothing for you here. I’m so sorry but you have to let it go. Just let it go.

TL;DR This is incredibly weird and stalking. You do not get to use someone in your ridiculous plots to hurt other people and then complain that YOU have lost something.  You do not get to make up lies about people and expect them to simply go along with it.

Stalkers: Welcome to life as a girl on the internet

Temporarily Broken

I am sorry I haven’t posted this week. I’ve been put on some new medication that’s absolutely knocked me out, I’m barely functioning.  It is also making my feel hyper emotional about not being able to get stuff done.  Double thumbs up.  If I was not so exhausted, I’d be in hysterics now, so… I guess there are positives?

On top of this, I have a big research paper I’m trying to finish. So… blog, I will get back to you soon as I function better. Promise.

Also, I will be speaking at Dragon*Con and you should go cuz it’s gonna be hella bitchin’.*

*”hello bitchin'” Seriously, I am not functioning correctly.

Temporarily Broken

Help me save South Carolina, the arts, and my mom

Over the weekend, the governor, Nikki Haley, destroyed the South Carolina Commission for the Arts — the cut was such that the 20 people who work there cannot show up to work today, can’t even go into their building, because of liability issues.  The arts in South Carolina brings in $9.2 billion and creates 78,000 jobs at a cost of 1.9 million to the Arts Commission.  It’s a phenomenally stupid cut — our state has one of the two best arts in education programs in the country!  We don’t do a lot well in South Carolina, but this is one of the few we really do.  And now we’re about to be the only state in the country without a public arts agency.

This is political, but I have to let you know it’s deeply personal as well.  I have worked for the Commission, I know everyone who works there, the arts and arts education are extremely important to me, and my mother is the president of the foundation board.  My mother has worked with them for over half of my life — for 15 years she has been on their board and this is her third year as president. Nikki Haley is messing with my mother — that is NOT COOL.

There is good news!  The SC legislature is returning next week to vote on it — the problem is that it is summer vacation and they may not all show.  They also may not get the 2/3rds majority needed to overturn the vetoes.  I need your help.  My mom needs your help.  My state, which is run by idiots but full of wonderful people, needs your help.

Please contact the SC Representatives and Senators and urge them to vote to override Vetoes #1 and #21 – to keep the doors open at the Arts Commission!  Also, let them know that the rest of the vetoes are pretty crappy too — taking money from teachers, schools, important scientific research, and programs to help victims of sexual violence.

Here’s a single contact form to get in touch with:

All the Senators:

All the House Members:

I know many of you aren’t from my state, but I think FtB has the power and this movement has the power to put some pressure on these people, and if you’re from South Carolina, you must do this!  Tell them to show up!  Tell them to override the vetoes!  Help my mom!

Ken May, Executive Director, “The state can’t wrest my cellphone from my grip”

EDIT: Passing the need on and sharing is something that you can do to help even if you don’t contact the politicians, please share. And it is on reddit.

Help me save South Carolina, the arts, and my mom

My Life is Exploding & Boba Fett Ukulele


First and foremost, go give the SSA money.  They are the best, they deserve at least five of your earth dollars.

The timing of my getting a blog here is not totally ideal — I’ve had to abandon my house and move in with my mother because I’m allergic to it, I have to be out entirely and into a new house by the end of the month, I’m coming up against the final deadline for a class, I’m leaving Thursday for 10 days of traveling, and I’m about to start another class.  I don’t know if you’ve ever been massively sick with allergies, but I can tell you that it’s not good for productivity or creating a will to live.

How I've felt for 3 weeks

So, this spot may just end up hosting various and sundry not terribly deep things for the next two weeks, including pretty travel pictures, links to interesting things, and perhaps a few things I dig up from the vault.  I scheduled this post ahead of time to prevent myself from blogging at all today so that I will get some work done.  We’ll see how that goes.

My Life is Exploding & Boba Fett Ukulele