It’s Just Marriage Now

Last Friday, for personal reasons, I shut off my phone early in the morning and didn’t get onto the internet or social media until the next day. Which is why it was amazing when I finally did log onto Facebook only to see that the country had gone rainbow.

On that Friday, as I’m sure everyone by now is fully aware, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality. And despite a few governors or county clerks throwing hissy fits, everyone showed such great celebration—gay, straight, and everything in between.

I’ve been a big supporter of marriage equality for a long time now. The reason for my support comes down to a single question that I’ve yet to get a real answer to: Why not? I mean, why be so vocally against something that won’t affect you in any way? Of course, many people are quick to give you a handful of reasons that they picked up from Fox News or wherever-the-fuck, but those reasons are easily debatable with simply logic. (That doesn’t stop those people, however, from dismissing your logic, I’ve found, and continuing to believe whatever they want.)

Honestly, though, I’ve yet to hear a real argument against marriage equality that holds up in any way. Everything that opponents of this civil right say is rather weak and usually based in religion, not politics. Here are some of my personal favorites:

“It’s a slippery slope. Next thing you know, a man will be able to marry his dog.” So true—except not at all true. Marriage, for the most part, is about adults consenting and vowing to be together forever in a state-sanctioned union. And seeing as dogs can neither consent nor vow anything—as they’re dogs and can’t talk—this argument has always been more insulting that accurate. It should also be noted that this was the same thing said about interracial marriages fifty years ago.

“It will ruin the sanctity of marriage.” As opposed to Britney Spears’ fifty-five hour marriage, which strengthened the concept as a whole. If anyone was truly concerned about the sanctity of marriage, they would protest marriages of people who are not in love, instead of saying things like, “Gay people can marry…just not each other.”

“We allow them civil unions, why do they need marriage, too?” Because, under law, spouses have more rights than people in “civil unions.” It’s about like saying, “I’m giving you the shells, why do you need the peanuts, too?”

“It’s unnatural.” Ignoring the fact that there is an easy argument saying that many other animals (and, indeed, even some plants) indulge in homosexual behavior, let me just point out that much about modern life isn’t natural. You think cars are mined out of quarries? You think the internet travels through tree roots to get to the cell phone that you harvested from the carcass of a buffalo? Marriage, indeed, itself is not natural. What lion do you know that goes down to the court house to sign a marriage license? The whole “It’s unnatural” argument is so ridiculous and easily debated that when someone says it, I usually just laugh, unbelieving, under my breath.

And of course: “Because the Bible says it’s wrong.” You mean your bible says it’s wrong. I think the real idea behind this one is that people are afraid that it means their church will be forced to do weddings for gay people—despite that even before marriage equality, no church had to marry any couple if they did not agree with the beliefs of that couple. So, just chill it with the Bible hate-talk—you’re making real, loving Christians look bad, bro.

I could go on and on in regards to this subject; it’s so easy to dispute all the ideas people have about why gay people shouldn’t be allowed such a simple right. But, the truth is, I don’t have to. Because it’s the fucking law now. On that note, let me point out one last thing:

Another interesting occurrence that came about with the ruling was, after Facebook introduced a feature to let you rainbow your profile picture, some people out there decided they were going to “counter” this feature by American-flagging their profile pics.

Except (sorry, dudes) getting married to someone of the same gender is now more American than you are.

USA!

USA!

USA!

Posted in Essays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Acknowledgement Vs. Celebration

You get freedom of speech. I get freedom of speech. We all (assuming you live in a country that has it) get freedom of speech. We get to say whatever we want about whomever we want, so long as it’s not a threat. You can say that your god can beat up my god; you can say that I have Sally Jessy Raphael glasses; you can even wave your Confederate flag in the faces of the rest of America—because you have freedom of speech. It doesn’t make you less of an asshole, though.

Less than a week ago, a terrorist opened fire in a church, killing nine people, injuring one.

In a church. And, reportedly, after the members of the Bible study invited him in to worship with them. He waited and even, he said later, thought about not going through with it. But, ultimately, he did. And people died. Nine people. Nine African-Americans in a church rife with history of civil rights and freedom.

The suspect, Dylann Roof, was later arrested and brought into custody (after getting a bite to eat at Burger King with the arresting officers, according to the internet). Pictures of Roof were discovered, including ones of him wearing apartheid flags and one of him holding a gun with the Confederate flag.

There is nothing about this whole picture that isn’t fucked up. It’s so mind-boggling that this sort of thing not only can happen in a modern country like America, but that it consistently does happen. Mass shootings are so commonplace in our country that it’s no longer a shocking occurrence. I still remember when the Columbine shootings happened. I was scared to go to school for a time. But now? It’s simply, Oh, not another one.

Soon after the shooting happened, however, even more disturbing news began to come forth: While the U.S. and state flags flew at half-staff for the tragedy in Charleston there was a third flag flying high and proud, still. The Confederate flag near the State House in the city remained in place.

The question that most people had was not “Why did they not fly it half-staff as well?” because that’s FUCKING RIDICULOUS. That’s not the question any reasonable person would ask. We were all wondering what the hell it was doing there in the first place?

Okay, yes, the flag was flying over a monument for Confederate soldiers. But still, what the fuck?

This is where the would-be controversy started up. Whilst some were shouting for the flag to be removed permanently, others were demanding it stay. Why were the latter making such a demand? Because it’s part of their history.

Such mentality is the equivalent of a seven year old losing a game of Monopoly and knocking over the board.

There is no bigger group of sore losers than rednecks waving Confederate flags and shouting, “The South shall rise again!” just before they go collect their food stamps.

I am, of course, not saying we should forget the American Civil War ever happened. On the contrary, we need more than ever to remember why it was fought and what it cost.

Which is where the whole Civil War monuments debate gets a bit tricky. I think we do need memorials, but not monuments. We need giant slabs with names—from both sides of the fight—etched in to remind us of the people and the family members that we lose when there is a war of any kind. We need to be reminded that people are people; they are loved by others and missed when gone—despite the color of their skin, their religion, their gender, their sexual orientation, their anything.

Yet monuments are different. Monuments hold individuals up as heroes. They glorify the actions of certain people. And this is something that is not okay when those individuals stood for hatred.

The thing is, though, that not all monuments are set in brass. And not all of them are of people. Some monuments are symbols, lasting generations—like the Confederate flag. It’s heralded as a mark of Southern pride and history, and, as is the case in the past week, should be celebrated.

Except it shouldn’t be celebrated. It should be acknowledged. It happened, we shut that shit down, move on. If it’s so important to celebrate losing, why don’t we fly the British flag over the Boston Harbor? Or the Japanese flag over Pearl Harbor?

I’ll tell you why: Because Britain and Japan both lost. And then they moved on. So isn’t it time for Southern Confederates to move on?

No, it’s not: They should have moved over a hundred and fifty years ago when they lost, but they didn’t.

Instead, they passed on their hatred through the generations. They passed on a history of lynchings, and beatings, and shooting black Americans. Some traditions should simply disappear, and the tradition of hate should be the first.

Since the controversy of the Confederate flag in Charleston, a number of other politicians have called for Confederate symbols to be done away with. In Mississippi, a proposal to change their state flag—which totes, in part, the Confederate flag—has been made. In my state of Kentucky, Mitch McConnell has asked that a statue be removed (and placed elsewhere, instead of being destroyed) from government property.

All this is great! The way it’s being done, however, is not. These things should not be press releases. If McConnell truly cared about racist imagery in his state, he would have asked quietly for it to be removed before anyone noticed. I’m sure that his, at the very least, was a political move. It’s harder for me to say whether this is true or not for Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn.

The worst thing that all this controversy over Confederate symbols is that it’s taking away from the real issues. By shouting about the flag near the State House or a statue that most Kentuckians didn’t even know existed, we’ve moved away from the actual controversy: That the reason those things still exist in our country is because there still is a mentality of hate.

Take down the fucking flags, change the names of your streets from names of Confederate generals, melt down your monuments, change your state flag—do it, but don’t do it with pride. Do it with a sense of shame that it hasn’t happened sooner—and that these things have helped keep the idea that racism should be celebrated instead of acknowledged, and dealt with.

Posted in Essays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dad Stories

Dad Stories

Upon showing this to my dad for approval (for the internet), his response was, “If you’re going to even bring up the mayo jar thing, you might as well just say what happened. You’re just leaving it up to their imaginations…” Then he said in a very monotone, possibly sarcastic voice, “Thanks, Garrett, that was very thoughtful.”

Posted in Cartoons | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Everything Is Bad For You

It is said that we, as humans, crave three tastes above all else: Fat, sweet, and salt. This is probably in part to the fact that our bodies need protein, energy, and sodium—but I can’t say for sure, what am I? A scientist?

About a year and a half ago I stopped eating meat. I haven’t looked back, either; I haven’t really thought about picking up a burger or pepperoni pizza since then. One great kickback from dropping meat, though, was that I also dropped weight—quickly. I was no longer getting all the fat that I had been. In a month’s time I shed something like ten pounds.

We as Americans eat too much meat. I’m not saying everyone should become vegetarian—I did it for moral reasons, not health. But we pack our diets so full of meat that it causes all sorts of health issues, including heart disease, a top killer.

After I stopped eating meat, though, I started eating a lot more sweet stuff. Most nights I couldn’t go without a big bowl of ice cream. Any chance I had to get my paws on a piece of cake or a donut, I jumped at it. I was down one craving and making up for it by indulging in another.

Then, a few months ago, I watched the documentary Fed Up about the copious amount of sugar in our diets and what it does to our bodies. For a while after seeing it, I couldn’t stop quoting the statistic, “Sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine.” It was a fact that blew my mind and fascinated me, mainly because sugar does the same thing that cocaine does to your body, only slower.

Eventually, I decided to try and cut back on my added sugar intake to the suggested daily value of twenty-four grams or less per day. And, again, I haven’t looked back. It was easy once I got into the habit of checking labels for sugar content.

However, that left me with only one craving left: Salt. I’ve been over dosing on salt so much lately that my panic attacks and drowsiness have come back in full swing. Now I have to watch my sodium intake because, like everything else in this modern era, it can be bad for you.

Nothing on the shelf is good for you anymore. MSG, GMO’s, unpasteurized this, overtly-preserved that—it’s hard to escape the things that are killing us slowly. Even in the produce section, if you’re not buying organic, the pesticides and other chemicals being sprayed on our fruit and vegetables aren’t doing us any favors.

In areas of America where fracking is common, the citizens can’t drink the water. In my home town of Louisville, which sits on the dirty Ohio River, we have to have the best water purification system in the country to get drinkable water. In India, if you’re looking for clean tap water, forget about—they have such horrible water and sewage problems that many areas are forced to import clean water from other areas. On parts of the planet, drinking water is bad for you.

In certain cities in China, citizens are forced to wear masks. The pollution is so thick that it is hard to see skyscrapers in the near distance. It’s a huge problem that’s costing lives because in those areas breathing is bad for you.

Our antibiotics are not working like they used to. Legal drugs give you horrible side-effects. Illegal drugs can be dangerous, too. Alcohol kills more people a year than marijuana.

Everything is bad for you.

We live in this new world of technology and information, things that are making the planet a better place, yet our most fundamental needs and desires are becoming dangerous. Things that we need to survive on a day-to-day basis are killing us, be it food, water, or air. And the things that we use to keep our health and emotions in good standing are no better for us!

There are thousands of diets out there in the world—trendy diets that we care about because we want to lose weight. A few of those trendy diets, however, are about what’s good for us: Ridding our bodies of the contaminants we put in ourselves. Like all trends, though, these diets come and go—even the good ones—and we’re left with what we started with; sugar in our tomato sauce and genetically modified corn that is harder to digest.

And unless we decide to change as a whole, everything will remain the same. Everything will continue to be bad for us.

Posted in Essays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just Looking For Approval

I have a bad habit of dropping projects, sticking them in the closet and never looking at them again. I have stacks of long-forgotten drawings and half-finished comics. I try not to let this happen, but it does, and quite often.

At first I thought it was simply because I would get bored of a project and drop it completely. Now I think it may be something wholly different and much more disturbing.

I’ve noticed that I stop working on art pieces fastest after sharing or telling about it on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. It’s also particularly bad if I describe a project I’ve not even started on to friends in real life.

That’s only the beginning, however. If nobody pays any attention to my idea or they shrug it off with an I-don’t-know-about-that attitude, I’ll drive harder to complete the project. If, though, they seem to like it (either with approving comments or a simple click of the “like” or “retweet” buttons) I lose interest.

It only takes one person, one laugh or excited agreement, to make me think, “Okay. Mission accomplished.” And the project goes away, oftentimes forever.

I think I, just like most people of my generation, am simply looking for approval. We’re in an era centered on ourselves, when our self-esteems are tied to how many people like a status update or oddly-filtered picture.

Whenever I would do art shows or post items up on Etsy, I would price my stuff far lower than most people were expecting. Partly, I did this because I didn’t think anyone wanted to pay much for my art, but also because it meant they were more likely to purchase it. And that’s the best kind of appreciation: When someone is willing to give you money for your work. Then, when my Etsy items get automatically taken down after four months of almost no activity, it’s a blow to my ego.

It’s a sad admission, but an admission of truth all the same. Even here, on my blog, a new follower is nice, but a like or comment gets me much more excited and—unlike most of my other projects—active.

Then again, my blog doesn’t take much effort and does take minimal obligation.

Sometimes at work one of my bosses will thank me for doing something, but most of the time it just feels fake. It’s forced gratitude. Then, when I come home and complain to Facebook about how I’m unappreciated at work, I’ll get likes from people I haven’t seen in real life for years and I’ll feel better.

Lately, I’ve been trying to show more appreciation to my friends and family in real life than I give out likes or retweets in the virtual world. This is hard, though, when you’re a hermit who barely leaves the house. I’m probably just coming off as more aloof online, but I’d rather thank someone face-to-face.

We’re all just looking for approval in a world whose spotlight changes from one person to another so quickly that we bask even in the fraction of a second it passes over us. I’m not saying we shouldn’t show appreciation to one another in real life or even online, but we do need to learn to have higher self-esteem without the approval of others. We need to learn to love ourselves without likes, favorites, or retweets.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to obsessively check this blog entry’s view numbers and shares.

Posted in Essays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First Contact

I've been saying it for years: Fuck these people.

I’ve been saying it for years: Fuck these people.

Posted in Cartoons | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hypothetically Speaking

I’ve never been very good at keeping a journal. It becomes a task that bores me after a few weeks. My life isn’t very exciting and writing, “Went to work, then sat around watching TV,” seems like a pretty pathetic thing to put down in a book day-in-and-day-out. The closest thing I’ve ever had would be this blog.

I was also never good at opening up, even if just to myself, wholly and honestly. There’s always that looming thought of, “What if someone reads this when I’m dead?” This is an attitude I’ve gotten over, actually, and have replaced with, “What if someone reads this while I’m alive?” Thus, the journal appeals to me even less.

And this is the true purpose of keeping a journal or diary, isn’t it? To be completely honest with yourself? Many people use it as a cheap form of therapy, jotting down how they feel about the various incidents of the day, as if talking to someone who will listen and never judge.

I’ve always been a little bit jealous of totally honest people; they always seem self-aware and confident. They know why they act the way they do and, if they don’t like any aspect about their personality, they can change themselves.

Yesterday at work, during a rare lull, I got to thinking about Caitlyn Jenner. Mostly about her new name, really. I wondered how she chose “Caitlyn.” I asked a couple of coworkers the hypothetical question of: If you changed genders, what name would you choose for yourself? Neither could answer before thinking about it for a long time.

I told myself that I probably would pick something ending in –ia, but not Sylvia because I’m already known as the guy with the obsession with Sylvia Plath. But, truly, I think I would pick Sylvia. I like the way it sounds, the way it slides down the tongue yet summons the throat near the end. Plus, I could be named after Sylvia Plath!

That probably sounds weird, but the thing is, it’s true.

A few years back, I discovered the single greatest way for me to be honest with myself: Asking hypothetical questions. If something is proposed to me, something that will probably not actually happen, I’m—for some reason—more likely to answer myself honestly. Of course, I still exaggerate or lie to others around me, but deep down in the little locked chamber that is my mind, I’m true.

I quite like hypothetical questions, and take my time thinking about which option is the best in any would you rather proposal or kill, fuck, marry situation given. However, I like more thoughtful and deep hypothetical questions; ones that give better insight into who a person is—even if that person is just myself.

I’m sure my friends find it weird when, after sitting quietly for a long time, I suddenly ask what animal they would want to be reincarnated as or if they got to travel into space, but had to spend a month in complete isolation, would they do it. I get to thinking about one thing, which leads to another thing, which leads to another, which leads to a strictly hypothetical question just begging for an answer from the room at large.

Back in the day, before Facebook and Twitter, when, if you wanted to socialize on the internet your choices were basically Myspace or LiveJournal, we had the originals memes—not pictures with impact font over the top and bottom, but little surveys in which you answered personal questions about yourself. Most of them were silly or stupid, listing questions like, “Favorite color” and “If you were trapped on a desert island and could only have one book…” but I loved doing them. They were fun ways to talk about yourself before the social media boom which would bring about ways to talk about nothing but yourself.

These old-school memes (I had always pronounced them “me-mes” because they were all about the person answering questions) provided a way for me to be honest about simple things and be assured that no one of true importance would read them.

In an era of misinformation and easy answers, it’s hard to find true honesty, often. When you get to edit your feelings before hitting “Post”, it’s easy to wear a fake persona to show the world, whilst grumbling to yourself about a coworker or personal project. Perhaps it’s simply easier to lie about the obvious stuff—even to ourselves. But when I sit down to do some deep thinking, I find there’s no better way to bring out my true self than asking a complicated and absolutely important hypothetical question…

Like, if you could have one X-Men mutant power, whose would you pick*?

Footnotes:
*Mystique’s.
Posted in Essays | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments