Cruel intentions

blunt thoughts

My sense of humor can have a cruel touch.

Besides making jokes on specific people’s expenses I also always enjoyed making offensive jokes about entire groups of people. Literally any group. Men. Women. Chinese. Latinos. Jews. Dutch. Gays. Cripples. The elderly. Hippies. Farmers. Lawyers. You name it and I would make fun of them and enjoy myself shamelessly in the process.

Not only have I enjoyed making these jokes, I have also loved being on the receiving end of them. There are few things that I find more entertaining than being in a humorous battle of wits and being outgunned by someone quicker than me.

And don’t forget dirty jokes! People don’t expect them to come from my corner and the looks on faces when I let one loose is highly addictive; A priceless mix of confusion and shock, topped off with a swirl of delight and disgust. Love that shit.

I speak in the past tense, as if it is something I don’t enjoy in present day. But I do, just not in the same way. I still make the same remarks, just not as loudly. In some cases I may even bite my tongue and chuckle silently as I share my witty remark with just me, myself and I. If I’m lucky there is a kindred spirit present to exchange glances with.

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There are times when I really mourn the loss of my snark and want to blame the world for stirring up my conscience to such politically correct levels.

The sentence above is something I wrote weeks ago. Maybe even months. It’s been moved around from one draft to another until last week when I started to doubt it’s meaning.  I was planning on going into my own personal anti-political-correctness-tirade, which would have boiled down to something like this:

The last few days though I have felt the need to do the opposite and come to the defense of political correctness and promote it as the only true and right attitude to have.

Why?

Donald Trump.

Yes, I am really trying to ignore and deny his existence but he’s just so LOUD. The kind of stuff he’s been saying in the last couple of weeks has really truly blown my mind:

In the good old days, they’d rip him out of that seat so fast. But today, everybody’s politically correct. Our country’s going to hell with being politically correct
February 26, Oklahoma

And:

Try not to hurt him. If you do, I’ll defend you in court. Don’t worry about it. … We had four guys, they jumped on him, they were swinging and swinging. The next day, we got killed in the press — that we were too rough. Give me a break. You know? Right? We don’t want to be too politically correct anymore. Right, folks?
March 4 in Michigan

These are just two of the many things he said when confronted with protesters at his rallies. I don’t know if I am more angry or sad.

And then yesterday, while campaigning in Tucson, Arizona, he promised the world he would be acting more “presidential” in weeks to come (whatever that means). Not because he wanted to per se, but because his wife and daughter “begged him”. Ah yes, of course the weaker sex would do that… And as a good husband and father he can’t help but give in…

So yes, if opposing political correctness puts me on his team….

….I don’t even know how to finish that sentence but I think you get the point. I’d rather give up humor for a decade than associate myself with this man in any remote way.

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Derailed thoughts

train-tracksMy parents live in the rural North of Holland. It’s a 2,5 to 3 hour train ride to get there. Not long, for some countries’ standards; pretty bloody long for Dutch ones. I have a love-hate relationship with this train ride. I hate it when the train is overly full or when I need to pee or when one annoying person decides to sit nearby on the one day that I forgot to take my earphones with me. I love it when I have a quiet seat by the window, when I have a good book with me or the skies treat me with pretty sights (rainbows, sunrises, thunderstorms, etc).

It can also have a very philosophical effect on me and my thoughts.

Last weekend for instance, I had decided to go up North after a long week of work and a slight flu. I decided to leave early in the morning. I ran into a co-worker, who was actually on his way to the office that very morning. He told me one of the software systems the company runs on had been down all night and he wasn’t particularly looking forward to this day, as it was bound to be chaotic. I felt lucky it was not my turn to work the weekend and smiled as I soaked up the morning sun.

I was completely relaxed. Something that would prove to come in handy later on…

ns storing.jpgWhen I got to the station I saw something was up. The train schedule screens were lighting up and I saw grumpy people walking away from the info-desk. I asked what was going on and found out a combination of planned and unplanned issues had disrupted certain routes, including mine. It would take a bit longer, but as far as I could see, it only meant one extra change of trains and not too much delay. It was still early, so no prob.

By the time I got to my first stopover a new issue had arisen and it was announced that I would have to take a bus for a part of the way. Bummer. I don’t like buses. At all. The sun was still shining though, and I had a newspaper with me, as well as my earphones so I wasn’t too bothered. I walked to the busplatform and sat on my bag, which was soft and comfy as I had taken some dirty laundry with me. I sat there, just soaking in the mid day sun. It was surprisingly warm, which reminded me that Spring had definitely made its arrival.

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When a big object suddenly blocked my rays, I knew the bus had arrived. When it rolled to a stop, about 200 people ran towards it. I moved myself out of the chaos and back into the sun and decided to wait for the next bus. Soon after, several buses arrived all at once and I shook my head, witnessing the shamelessness with which people pushed and shoved themselves towards the entrances.

A guy tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I could see if the bus in front of us was already full. I was already starting to say something along the lines of “I know as much as you do, dude”, when I realized the guy was blind and that he was the only one who actually didn’t have a clue. I asked one of the orange-vest peeps to help the guy onto the next bus, which they said they couldn’t really promise and he seemed to be OK with that. He disappeared into the crowd at some point and I guess he found his way.

I watched several more buses come and go. More people were now waiting on the platform and I realized my chilled out mood wasn’t going to get me a seat on any of these rides. I decided I didn’t really want it anyhow. Not like that. So I called my parents and told them I was going to get a bite to eat in whatever-town-I-was, and see if things would be different later on in the afternoon.

So, I walked back to the train station and, to my own pleasant surprise, saw a train that was about to leave in precisely the direction I needed to go. It was pretty much empty. Ah, how I love my guardian angel!

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And as the train snaked it’s way through the Dutch fields, my own train of thoughts went back to the rowdy crowd that I had witnessed earlier. The way they ran towards an arriving bus… It was just so strange… And kind of funny too… I envisioned what it must have looked like; me sitting there, squinting into the sun, hardly moving at all… And then this same plump family running by, every couple of minutes; first to this bus, then to the next, to the left, to the right. It was just so silly; fit for a Laurel & Hardy sketch…

I reminisced about how little respect there had been for the elderly and handicapped. At the same time, I thought back to how unapologetically some of these elderly citizens had driven their strollers into the crowd to get through. I thought about how organized we always claim to be, as a peoples, and how primal people were reacting to this situation. I pondered about food aid trucks in war-stricken zones and how ruthless people could be in their quest to get their hands on a cup of rice, a piece of bread, a can of condensed milk.

police-dogs-waiting-food-china-1.jpgI reflected on how ugly this side of mankind was and how I could pour this situation into a blog. I said to myself “it shows what an inferior species we are” but I immediately realized that isn’t true at all. The fact that we sometimes share our food and belongings and can do this very selflessly, is actually what makes us special as a species. Fighting over territory and food (especially when it’s scarce) is a very instinctual reaction that is displayed by pretty much every living thing on earth.

And then it hit me… I was actually portraying anti-evolutionary behavior, despite often proclaiming to be a supporter of Darwins “survival of the fittest” theory. In that particular situation I was clearly not the fittest. I just gave up, hiding behind an excuse of being too polite… Or was I just too lazy to get down and dirty?

The fact that I ever got where I needed to be, was more luck than anything else.

I told myself that my attitude would most likely be more feral if my life really depended on it. Or that of my family’s. I don’t really know though. And I guess that only demonstrates how lucky I really am.

Gender – dogmas and taboos

This morning I came across a touching Indian commercial:

It brought several things to my attention;

  1. Apparently, Hindi does not have it’s own equivalent of “proud” or “sorry”, which I find interesting…
  2. Feminism is still relevant, but it only counts if men get on board too (and no Caitlyn, you don’t count).
  3. Sharing the load when it comes to laundry would be way welcome in my book as it is one of my least favorite chores (and one that I always tend to postpone a bit too long)
  4. Oh look, it’s Ariel… where have I heard that name before… water…. bubbles… mermaids… princesses… Oh wait, didn’t I get all worked up about an Ariel in my previous blog on transgender kids? Time to go back and get that follow up blog done!

Recap

So let’s  go back to that previous blog of mine and summarize it, real quick. The issue I discussed there was transgenderism in kids, illustrated by the examples given in an interesting documentary I saw. The fact that these kids declare that their body’s gender does not coincide with the gender they feel they truly are, is not a choice. Everything from that point on, however, is. And they’re big choices, too.

Some of the dilemmas I faced in the face of theirs:

  • Is it cruel to let a child go through puberty and feel their body change into the thing they dread or is it a necessary thing they must experience in order to be sure this is not what they want?
  • Should we block puberty for a while so the kid and its family have more time to make up their minds?
  • How do we know we aren’t blocking other forms of development in the process?
  • Should these kids be allowed to make this decision at all?
  • When has there been enough psychological help and can there actually be determined that crossing over is the only way forward?
  • From what age should cross hormones be made available?

In a conversation I had in regards to all of this with my great friend and champion in thought provoking remarks, Zeefje, she asked me straight up if I had something against transgenderism in general or just the fact that children were being allowed to make decisions about their gender at such an early age. It is a question I have not really found the answer to yet either, or perhaps I haven’t really dared ask it. I’ll see if I can come up with something resembling an answer in the course of this blog and if we’re lucky maybe even put it into words in an understandable way…

Puberty

So, imagine a kid; 5 years old, without being burdened by notions of what society expects or how gender roles are divided in the world, but very clear about the fact that they may have been born one way, but are most certainly the opposite.

puberty_growth.jpgAnd then as they edge closer to those pre-teen years they become self conscious. They realize what they are feeling is actually very odd. They are, as I have now learned, in the phase of “gender-non-conforming”. They may already have run into a bully or two. They change. They were bound to change anyhow, because puberty is on the doorstep.

Puberty is turbulent enough as it is. It is a phase in life when we all doubt ourselves as we start to  form our own identity and claim our spot in the world. Our bodies change. Our emotions change. Our relationships change.

Kids struggling with their gender can now take hormones blockers to stop the process of transitioning into their biological gender. This is obviously a temporary solution. I guess it buys time. It gives the gender-non-conforming child the chance to witness the changes in the bodies and behavior of gender-conforming peers and decide how they feel about this.

Boxes and gray areas

boy-girl_91.JPGAnd now I’m getting to one of the things that bugs me in all of this. I guess I feel that the real curse is the fact that we have certain expectations of a girl and other ones for a boy. These are often opposite and not supposed to be mixed up. I feel that if the box labelled “boy” and the box labeled “girl” weren’t so sharply defined some of these kids would have a lot more wiggle room to figure out who they are and may not feel the need to cross over at all.

I have this feeling that these boy-girl labels are weighed down more by stereotypes in American society than on this side of the pond. No, I have no hard evidence to back this up. It’s just a feeling.

My point is that if you grow up in a household and society that is laden with taboos, where “that’s just the way it is” is a legitimate answer, I can imagine a subtle feeling of discomfort with your own body can get out of hand real quick. You may feel that if you don’t fit in box A, that your only choice is to transition into whatever box B is.

Don’t sell your soul

I can go on about this for a lot longer and I do feel there is still more to say about all of this but Zeefje already talked me through a lot of my frustrations and confusion and I think I’m not doing anyone any favors by elaborating more.

To conclude this topic I want to go back to Ariel. The girl in the Frontline documentary gave herself that name and I though it was ridiculous at first. I saw it as an another sign she was just a confused child, trying to live a delusional dream. She chose the name of a Disney princess… Silly silly, right?

Wrong. It is actually the strongest and most symbolic name a child in her situation could ever choose and it gave me chills when I finally figured it out… You go girl. Find your feet. Spread your wings. Just make sure you don’t lose your soul in the process.

Mind Cleanup – February ’16

First of March today and I’m staying home sick. Not the best way to start a month but it was bound to happen. Everyone around seems to have had their share and for a bit there, I thought I would dodge the bullet but today I caved in. My body demands some R&R, some TLC and some extra Z’s. Wish granted.

I must admit a snot filled head is not the best state to be in while conducting a mind cleanup, but I already had some stuff lined up so might as well finish it up and hit the Publish button. If it comes across as a tad incoherent, now you know why…

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Remarkable

I overheard two of my colleagues talking the other day and I couldn’t help but tune in when I heard them discussing TV series, films and documentary recommendations. And then I heard one of them saying with a slight smirk “Can you believe there are still people that believe it was the planes that brought the towers down in New York?”. When I turned around, sort of rolling my eyes, he said: “Ah, I see you are one of those gullible souls too…”

Now, I must admit I wasn’t even that surprised by the fact that that particular colleague thought like that. He is a notorious conspiracy theorist, which is simultaneously something I like and dislike about him. The surprising part was coming home and telling my boyfriend about this, who in turn said he didn’t exclude the possibility that the twin towers were brought down by the U.S. themselves either…

And now I feel like I really need to watch me some conspiracy theorist documentaries because I really have no good arguments to contradict it, other than “…but that’sjust ridiculous”.

mirror.gifGetting to know myself

I went to an inspirational get together the other day, called the “Superhero Boostcamp”. It is meant to boost self-esteem and help people who feel they are stuck in an unfulfilling phase, place or job. All though none of these things particularly apply to me or my life at the moment it was not a waste of time. The crowd was friendly and welcoming and the tea hot and soothing. And there were cookies too. I am also a firm believer that a little self-reflection every now is good for the soul.

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  • There is a new service on Dutch trains: USB power banks to charge mobile phones and tablets. You buy it once and then you can swap it for a charged one every time you need it. Came in pretty handy during my last trip up North!
  • An old chair that’s been in the family for ages and came with me when I moved into my apartment has just received a fancy makeover and looks a million bucks (and for now it kinda feels like that is actually what it cost too)!

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  • Watched Fruitvale Station. Haven’t cried like that in a loooong time… And it wasn’t because one guy was killed. It wasn’t because I saw his family mourn. It wasn’t because I knew how it would end from the very first minute. It was because I realized it wasn’t an incident. The size of the issue and the hopelessness just stuck a knife in my heart.
  •  Trump -> #makedonalddrumpfagain

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  • I don’t watch American football (or even really know the rules), I am not a big fan of patriotistic symbols or rituals and I was born on the other side of the Atlantic. Somehow or other though, I decided to click on a youtube video of the pre-superbowl national anthem being sung by Lady Gaga. And wow. Those windpipes. Just wow.
  • I love James Corden’s carpool karaoke vids. It would be even better if they would mute the studio audience, though. And boy, I wish I could watch full un-edited versions of these carpool rides somewhere (except the one with Mariah)!
  • I love Sia’s new album.  I love how she goes full-out in the car ride with James Corden. I love how she pulls heart strings I didn’t know I had. I love her crazy balance between sanity and lunacy.
  • New discoveries of the month
  • I learned a new word, thanks to the Brika song named above, being Limerence. I’m not sure I know exactly how to use it, but if I ever manage to put it into context somewhere I’ll be sure to let you know!

Epilogue

Happy B-day dad.