Josh Duggar adds to the count of reasons ’19 Kids’ shouldn’t be on TV

My girls and I have long debated their choice to watch 19 kids and Counting, and the previous incarnations of that show, which features the Duggar family. The most recent shows, where children who have never been allowed to learn anything for themselves are married away and told to begin baby making, caused my blood to boil more so than ever, and my girls didn’t understand why. “Oh Mom, they are different but they aren’t hurting anybody,” my three girls, all once fans of the show would say. The fact that they don’t allow their children to date, be educated, or make any of their own decisions made them, in my mind, bad parents well before the announcement was made on Thursday that Josh, their oldest son, molested his sisters, and his hair sprayed parents covered it up. With the addition of that information, one has to wonder how dangerous are parents like the Duggars and, how irresponsible is TLC for giving them a platform for which to proselytize and profit?

The show, which prior to Thursday’s announcement had been number one in its time slot, has a huge following, and TLC is allegedly concerned about how it’s decision to discontinue the show will affect its relationship with those viewers. It is rumored that TLC has considered simply canning Josh, and keeping the rest of the tater-tot loving, babies with bows in their heads toting, All-American looking family employed on the show to promote their family values of: bigotry, chauvinism and hypocrisy.

The Duggars, who run their household like a terrorist training camp, restrict their children’s access to education, and demand their offspring’s strict adherence to a doctrine that governs every aspect of their lives. The home-based education Michelle and Jim Bob do provide is rooted in fear and intolerance. While even the Amish give their kids a chance to explore the outside world before they commit to an Amish lifestyle, the Duggars see to it that their children are wed to a like-raised robot, before they are ever let out of the house alone. In the Duggar home, freedom is strictly regulated, and more of an illusion than a reality.

Girls are not allowed to wear pants, or shorts because the Duggars sexualize everything. For this reason, pools and beaches are to be avoided, and thought of as the devil’s playground, where scantily clad women arouse men who are incapable of self-control. There is no sense that perhaps the solution rests in teaching self-control; the onus must fall on the women to chose their wardrobes accordingly, so as not to provoke desire.

The Duggars do not teach tolerance for lifestyles other than their own. In the wake of this scandal, numerous conservative Christians, perhaps most notably former presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, have come out in defense of Josh and his family, and have accused liberals of being unforgiving. Mr. Huckabee goes on to blame people who have spoken out about Josh’ s indiscretions for trying to “sensationalize” the story because they belong to the “blood-thirsty media.” It seems hypocritical, to say the least, that the defense of the Duggars is rooted in asking forgiveness and tolerance from those that they condemned, and accused of criminal behavior without evidence. Most notably, Josh Duggar, himself, has argued against rights for homosexuals on the basis that said lifestyle leads to socially deviant, and criminal behavior, like pedophilia. Now in the face of this scandal those who do not believe the Duggars lies about what makes a pedophile, are also charged with being unsympathetic and blood-thirsty?

Of course, the Duggars’ hypocrisy, bigotry, and anti-feminist sentiments can been seen as clearly outside of this scandal as they can within it. Michelle and Jim Bob, who both attended public school where they met when Michelle was a cheerleader, found each other outside of a courtship, and are by their own admission, a perfect match. They have admitted to kissing before marriage, They don’t address why they have decided to shelter their children from things like: public school, organized sports, like cheerleading, or regular dating, which led to the union, that they perpetually remind viewers, is such a blessing.

Perhaps the Duggars should spend a bit more time reflecting on how their philosophies might contribute to social deviancy and criminal behavior? Maybe they should consider how raising children in an environment where they are taught that every natural, biological, sexual urge is a sin; every thought that stems from any theory, except their own distorted distillation of the gospel, is blasphemy, and individuality of any sort is not only intolerable, but is also said to lead to distance from, if not the prevention, of salvation, might affect them? The Duggars reject, of course, scientific studies which point to how children are adversely affected when they do not have certain psychological conditions, such as the freedom to express themselves, met, and instead prefer to ascribe to theories based totally on lies and rumors and prejudice,

This is America, and everyone is entitled to practice their religion, however, I believe a case could be made that the Duggars’ brand of religion
prevents their children access to the civil liberties to which they are constitutionally entitled to as citizens of the United States. The government has been known to step in when parents restrict their children’s access to life saving medical care. I think it would be fair to argue that mental health is as important as physical health, and a case could be made against home schooling in cases where parents use that environment to prevent a child’s psychological growth.

For the time being though it seems enough to wonder why it took a criminal act to cause TLC, and the sponsors of 19 Kids and Counting, to consider the cancellation of this show? What does it say about the media, and our nation, that we still find it ok to promote views of discrimination based on gender, and sexual orientation? Are color-coordinated outfits to blame for why so many have been blind to what indecent act the show 19 kids and counting is? Because it was disgusting long before the molestation reports were publicized.

Five Ways To Tell Frustration To F@&k Off

Here at the colony on our mission to do Whatever It Takes, we run into frustration a lot, and mostly she is a bitch.

If you have had a bad day a la Alexander and his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day tale, all I can say is I feel ya. Mr. Burrows and ShirleyJacksonCat also feel ya.

The thing about frustration is she has many allies. Stubborn is one of her best friends. You know the guy that coaxes your belly fat to stick around even though it prefers grease and sugar, and all you have been feeding it is insane amounts of kale. Misfortune, a.k.a bad luck, is also part of the gang. He’s liable to come at the exact moment you gave up dental coverage and chip your tooth. The money you saved for a weekend at the beach so you can relax, misfortune will try and find away to take that from you. Doubt is frustration’s mistress. She always shows up just when you are ready to go, so that instead of you getting on your way, you have to stop and deal with that asshole.

If you are acquainted with this cast of characters, and would like to get away from them, here are some strategies we at the colony have come up with…

1. Run away. Frustration tends to rear it’s ugly head when you sit still. He will come and sit on your lap, which doubt will mention seems to be expanding, despite your best efforts to be healthy. Doubt will try to convince you to give up and stuff your face with Oreos. Resist. Go for a jog, dance around your kitchen, we are particularly fond of this activity, go to yoga, whatever. Just get on the move.

2. Shout an expletive. Literally. Tell frustration to go and fuck herself, and to get the hell away from you. There is allegedly some research which states that cursing releases endorphins in the same way that exercise does. We here at the colony are not scientists, nor do we claim to be. ( I’m sure this is a shock considering how well I just scientifically explained myself). But we have tested it and it seems to work.

3. Forget about results. Like Miley Cyrus sings, “it’s the climb.” Having listened to that song a million times when my little girls were obsessed with Hannah Montana, I know the lyrics by heart.

Not about how fast I get there. Not about what’s waiting on the other side. It’s the climb.

I’m so glad I decided not to throw myself into oncoming traffic after I heard that song for seventieth thousand time back in the day, because now that I know that frustration feeds off of unmet expectations and dashed hopes and dreams, I realize keeping the dream in the present thwarts frustration and provides greater happiness. If I’m happy, for instance, today writing, it’s not so critical that I find success through publication. That’s the goal, of course, and it would be nice- but at the end of the day, I won’t be as frustrated if I fall short because I love the process, and each day that I get to do it is it’s own reward. When I studied philosophy, one of the concepts I found most attractive was that happiness comes from pursuing things that are ends in themselves. Do what you do because you love it- not because you want a specific result. This will paralyze frustration.

4. Treat yourself everyday. I’m not saying go out and buy a Louis Vuitton whenever you please, but little things…you can hold out on some rewards for when you achieve your goal, but don’t live in a constant state of deprivation until you accomplish whatever you are working towards.

5. Go easy on yourself. Like Alexander, we all have bad days. Sometimes frustration brings depression over for a little stay cation, and you can barely get out of bed. You shove your face full of fattening food, and you only look forward to the moment you can get back into bed. It’s ok. If you beat yourself about it, you will likely do it more often at which point it might impede your success. If, however, you cut yourself some slack, and say I had a bad day, I’m not going to quit because of it, frustration will be less likely to hang around. Tell frustration to go fuck herself and remind her tomorrow you will be back and ready to go.

Btw, I making progress on the to do list. Hope for the same for those of you committed to noble pursuits!

Laurie

My to-do list and why I’m never bored.

Recently my best friend, Courtney called me up after she sent me a text, which read, “can you talk?”

When she sends me these texts, it usually means she has a particular topic of conversation mind, so when she called me after I responded that yes I could talk, I asked “what’s up?”

“Not much really.” She told me the kids went with their dad for dinner (she, like me, is divorced). “Now I know why I had so many kids, when they leave I don’t know what to do with myself. You know what I mean. Don’t you ever get bored?”

I had to think about her question for about .00000001 tenths of a second. The answer is no, I never get bored. I’m an emotional person,and I get a lot of things. I know sadness, depression and despair. I’m a lover of life, and passionate, and easily excited. I laugh like an idiot on a regular basis, I once came up with eight different renditions of the Scooby Doo theme: opera style, Spanish accent. Country…,I’m a perfectionist in thought who suffers from ADD. Bored is not an emotion I recognize, but I have to say I’m not opposed to say a casual date, as long as boredom is paying. I’d say this is unlikely from my clinical knowledge of boredom- he seems like the type that doesn’t care to impress. On top of not being naturally inclined to be bored, I have a to do list. I will let this weeks’ speak for itself.

May 11th to do
1. Find and interview for a paying Job with benefits because I have neither income, nor healthcare.
2. Finish editing the first fifty pages of my book to send to my potential agent, who requested them. Actual work involved here- no pay- benefit, I cling to sanity for a little while longer. Should I re-evaluate compensation package, and do a cost benefit analysis of this job? No. I love it too much.
3. Purchase a working vehicle. The 2008 Honda is worth 4500, and needs 2000 of repair. Likely it will not last long enough to justify the expense, and it has no air-conditioning, which to fix would cost almost as much as a new car. Need to find an honest car dealership,and salesman to give me a good, honest deal.
4. Recover from fit of hysterical laughter over last line of item #3.
5. Complete three freelance assignments, so that I make some money, and also add credits to my nearly non-existent writer resume.
6. Go to the gym to give my mind a rest. Only when I run faster than I think, while listening to music, can I escape the constant barrage of my thoughts.
7. Figure out how I’m going to find, and obtain a home, where all of my kids and I can live together.
8. Clear up some erroneous information on my credit report, which I found while reading credit karma.
9. Cook, pay bills, mother, and try to come up with a summer vacation plan for the kids.
10. Write this blog, on twitter, and wait on my writers in residence: ShirleyJacksonCat, and Mr. Burrows.

I know I can do it all. At 39 years old, I knew zip about a stock or bond,but scored in the mid eighties less than two months later on my licensing exams(series 7 and 63) to become a broker. I found and rented a house, which I put together by myself while working that new job. I got engaged. So it didn’t all work as planned, but I did it. It was a step.

That doesn’t mean it’s not hard, or I’m never scared, or worried or like, where is the wine and when can I go back to bed.? So I’d love it really if anyone who reads this blog would share anything: struggles, solutions, or stupid things that might make me laugh. And if you have seemingly insurmountable goals, maybe we could do it together? I’m going to dedicate the next thirty days to working to cross off as many items on my to do list as I can. I’ll post here about my struggles, solutions, and own stupidity.

My favorite song, and the one that is the theme of this journey is, Whatever it Takes…by Michael Buble. I just want to say I love him. So for the next thirty days, I’m going to keep it on repeat. If you haven’t heard it- get to you tube!

As a last, but very important note, I want to say how grateful I am that Augusten Burroughs retweeted,and favorited the link to my blog. If you read my post about him, and my cat, who is his namesake, you’d know that one of my fears was that he’d somehow see this blog and hate it. It would haven’t stopped me if he did, but I’m a billion times happier that he didn’t, and it made my day to see his retweet.

Alright, I gotta go get to work. Talk to you soon.

Laurie

IMG_1196

“This is How” Mr. Burroughs and Mr. Burrows saved my life…

This is Mr. Burrows, my kitten named after the ever brilliant, and remarkably talented, best-selling author, Augusten Burroughs. This is the story of how the two of them helped save my life.

Now feline Mr. Burrows, whom the kids like to call Gussy, came to my home in January. ShirleyJacksonCat was always crying and was used to living with another cat before I adopted her. No amount of attention she received stopped her persistent meowing,and so I told the girls that they could pick out a kitten. We went to a pet fair shortly after Christmas, and they had two little kittens: Mickey and Donald. Donald had a cold and so wasn’t available for immediate adoption; Mickey, the SPCA guy told me, was healthy. The next morning, however, his eyes were shut with goop, and he didn’t seem to be eating. The following day, which was a Sunday, I felt he needed to go the emergency vet.

Three hundred dollars and four medications later, Mr. Burrows came back to my house to recoup, and it was around this time that my idea for the colony came to me.

I told the girls they could name him, but that he had to be a famous author. My suggestions were: Francis, after Frank McCourt, Augusten after the aforementioned writer, or (and this was a stretch) Johnny Cash. “We could call him Mr. Cash”, I told the girls. He is, after all, a tuxedo cat, so I felt that was kind of perfect because he literally is the man in black. Sierra argued that Johnny Cash wasn’t a writer. I argued that he was a song writer, and that counts. Also “Walk The Line” is my favorite movie.

When they settled on Augusten, I was not at all disappointed though I was a bit apprehensive. A flashback of the film “Julie and Julia” popped into my mind. Shirley Jackson is dead, therefore I can pretend she loves and supports me as a writer. Augusten Burroughs is alive- he could hate it, or ignore it, or both. Chances are he’ll never read it, but a lot of times when chances are one way in my life, they tend to go the other way , so I was a bit unnerved. But since I credit reading Augusten Burroughs’s books with saving my life several times over- the most recent instance, last fall when I was left, by my ex, without a place to live, a broken heart, and a very confused head, and since I promised the girls they could pick, I said “sure, but we will spell it differently to avoid being offensive.”

When I found a new apartment, and started trying to write again, I started to reread “Dry.” Moving was horrific. I hired some fly-by-night movers who stole my televisions, and broke half of my furniture by throwing it fully constructed into the moving van. About a million people about a million times said, ” well things can’t get any worse.” By the 999,999th time I heard that, I wanted to bite the person’s tongue myself. I opened a tenth anniversary copy of “Dry” and read that it was written in real time. Mr. Burroughs described writing it “because he didn’t know what else to do with himself.Either, he could write,or he could go to bed at 5:30.” (Quotes are paraphrased). Sounded familiar. I remember thinking “I’m not alone.” I had read the book before, but I’d thumb through it rereading some of his craziest moments, and I would say to myself, “if he got up from there, I can get up from here.”

A couple weeks later after my oldest left to study abroad, I was painting the kitchen and designing the blog. Things were going to be ok. Mr. Burrows had made a habit of hiding under my bed, and in climbing under to get him, I discovered a bag that I shoved under there when I moved. I opened it to see what was in it. I had recently lost my laptop in New York, which is another story for another day, so I was elated that inside of it was my ipad. Hallelujah.

It was snowing, and I was still having significant trouble sleeping. I had ordered the one Augusten Burroughs book that I had never read from amazon, but “This is How” never came. I wasn’t, at the time, really an e-reader, and I still love a touchable book, but I was feeling pretty low and I had the ipad, so I bought it. I needed it that minute.

The next morning, I was lying in bed looking out at the snow, and thinking I’m going to get a lot of work done. My phone dinged indicating a received text message. My brother had been found dead.

I don’t think I can adequately describe what I felt at that moment. I jumped out of bed, and ran around just screaming and crying. I think I was hitting my legs wildly, for what reason I don’t even know, but if I had to speculate, I would say to make sure they were still there, and that I wasn’t in the midst of a fake nightmare, but rather a real one.

Eventually one of my friends said, ” I’m going to come and get you.” I held on to the cats,and I opened “This is How”, and waited. The thought, maybe this is from my brother, who always ordered everything from Amazon, comforted me. And that is how I survived that day, many of the days that came before it, and it is how I will survive the days to come: believing that for every force of evil, every bad event, every terrible coincidence, there is a higher power of good that creates the reverse, and you can see it and follow it, if you chose to read into things that way, and I do.

IMG_0956

Dear iPhone, how about an app that helps me forget?

As I said before digression is, for me, a way of life. Also, this is an artist’s colony of cats, so I make up my own rules. Artist’s are supposed to act on inspiration,and be temperamental. Who am I to disappoint or challenge stereotypes?

So, for the ten of you who read Friday’s post, I apologize that today’s post will not be a continuation of Friday’s, but I promise to address the unanswered questions at some point soon. In the meantime, those of you trying to get a pulse on me have another opportunity.

For today, I thought I would share this letter that I wrote to my iPhone. If you’d like to see an app that helps you forget, maybe you can comment. Typically, consumer complaints are taken more seriously when made by a number of consumers, so feel free to add.

Dear iPhone,

We need to have a talk about your memory, and about things I am trying to forget of which continue to remind me. I hope that’s its accidental, though I must say your timing suggests otherwise.

Friday night, after watching the Bruce Jenner special, I was a little beside myself and crying. Not because of Bruce’s transition, although I have to admit, I’ll miss the face that once graced my Wheaties box. He is brave for coming out and personally I have no trouble accepting people who are transgender…Republicans, well, I’m really trying to be open-minded. Can we leave it at that? I can only grow so much at a time.

In any case, the reason that I was crying was because I was touched by how supportive Bruce’s family is. Their tolerance for his being different moved me to tears, in part because my own family’s idea of tolerance extends to attending a picnic where there is no dill potato salad.

That’s my real family anyway. Last year, I had sort of a pseudo family that was to become my real family, though at the time they were simply my fiancé and his family. When we got engaged, they welcomed me in such a warm, yet unfamiliar way, but the moment my fiancé called it off because he changed his mind, I became to them a stranger. People told me this is normal, that’s how it works. And yet I watched as messages of support for Bruce were read by Diane Sawyer from ex wives, former teammates, old opponents, my theory of true love seemed plausible. Missing from the special was a comment from Kris Jenner, but when Perez Hilton commented about this on twitter, Kris readjusted his perspective telling him “Fuck you Perez”, and then went on to inform him, and the world, that she was sitting beside Bruce watching the special.

To me this was a demonstration of true love. I believe when you really love someone, you don’t just shut them out of your life. If things work as planned or not, if you wind up living in two houses or the same, if you share a last name or a last breath, or you walk away before you make that pledge, or sometime after you do: if you really love someone they are not, as Beyoncé would say, “irreplaceable”- instead, they forever occupy a space in your heart. This space may grow bigger or smaller, it may be relocated or reorganized, but it’s still there and so are you, to some extent, for that person. On this my fiancé and I never agreed.

Now, Mr. Five C, I have been struggling to find a way to live with that space in my heart, and not go mad. Over the past couple of months, it has grown smaller, and it no longer occupies any prime real estate. It’s more like my old high school yearbook that I won’t throw out, but is stored in such a far recess of my home that it can not be kept dusted, and would take a while to unearth, should I want to get it out. This shrinking and relocation process has involved a lot of: travel, thought, exercise, meditation, a couple of cats, a new career and of course-therapy. In other words, iPhone, it hasn’t been easy. And while I was viewing the kind of supportive love I want and recognizing that had I gotten married, I might never have found it, was it really necessary for to you buzz me a reminder that said: wedding tomorrow, right before I went to sleep?

I know, I know. I told you that months ago, but have you not seen the text messages I have typed on you for the past ten months? Have you not been present during countless tearful, joyous, angry and melancholy phone calls in which I discussed, with various people, that it is off. Why did you have to remind me when I’ve tried so hard to forget? By the way, since you are able to give reminders, how about you add an app that helps me forget, if you are such a smartphone…which tbh, I have my doubts about…and don’t give me your Steve Jobs shit either. Because he made you doesn’t mean you don’t have to work properly.

I suppose since you have been waking me up,and keeping me in touch with my most important contacts, I can let this one slide. Just promise, no reminders of him or that, k? Consider this my reminder, and please don’t forget.

Laurie

IMG_0160

What exactly is an artist’s colony of cats?

What exactly is an artist’s colony of cats? How did I come to form one? Who are the writers-in-residence? And what the hell is wrong with me?

In my next couple of posts, I hope to answer the first three questions…as for the fourth, if you really want to know the answer, I think you will have to follow the blog and see for yourself. I don’t suppose it is an answer that you can easily arrive at, but if say you are a fan of watching reality tv shows so that you can come away with a sense that at least your life isn’t that bad, and you are waaayyy more normal than you once thought, then I think you will be satisfied with the return on your investment of time spent reading this blog.

And now to the questions…

What exactly is an artist’s colony of cats?

Well…in this instance, I, Laurie, am the artist. What makes me an artist? I guess you could say that I’m a writer afflicted with ADD perhaps ADHD, self- diagnosed mind you, trying desperately to finish my memoir titled, My life…In Txt Msgs… Self discovery on a Smartphone. It’s always been a dream of mine-but now that I have interested editors, and agents, I’m trying to stay on track and work towards a self-imposed deadline. Stay tuned for developments on the book. And same principle of return on investment applies …except, actually in the book I share some things along the way about why the hell none of us can put down our phones. So that’s a bonus.

I moved into my apartment in November after a pretty heart- wrenching, broken engagement. I left my job as a stock broker to pursue my dream. Because pretty much everyone, with a few notable and well-loved exceptions, I know thought I went mad out of my mind and because I was in need of support, I marched my butt down to the ASPCA and got my beloved orange, female kitty.

She is six years old and as my 8 year old daughter, Tasha, would say I wanted to save her from ” the death chambers.” Of course when she says this she whispers it because we don’t want to bring up any repressed traumatic memories. In any case, her name was Sugar, which to me sounds like a stripper name. Nothing against strippers, but I wanted better for my cat.

Around the same time as of all of this ridiculousness was going on, I lost a bag with my laptop, tons of notes and a bunch of books. When I am stressed, I tend to lose things. Don’t read into that. The only book that I didn’t lose was my copy of Shirley Jackson’s compilation of stories called Come Alone With Me. By chance? I had taken that out of my work bag and put it into my purse. I was feeling very much like a lost child and that book was like my blankie. I had to keep it closer to me than the rest. Shirley Jackson believed in spirits and the like; I like to believe that sometimes coincidences are more than coincidence. Put that together with the title of the book, and the cat I got to help me on my journey, and it seemed obvious that her new name had to be ShirleyJacksonCat.

Yes that’s all one word. My oldest daughter, Sierra, warned that I could potentially be locked up in an asylum if I told the vet that name, but another friend assured me that alone wouldn’t do it. He didn’t tell me what would, so I have to tread lightly these days.

Now before I go any further with the questions, if you are asking the question, who is Shirley Jackson? and I only bring this up because I thought certain everyone knew her, but field experience has taught me otherwise- she was an American Author who lived from 1916-1965. She is most well known for her short story, The Lottery, which was originally published in The New Yorker Magazine and set all kinds of publication records. She is less known for her memoirs: Life Among The Savages, and Raising Demons, which describe her life as probably one of the first “working”mothers of our time. She had four children, and lived in Vermont with her husband, who was a professor at Bennington College. We read her stories here all of the time at the colony. Pretty much every word she ever wrote is genius…

That’s all I have for you this Friday. Come back next week for some more soul-lifting, awe-inspiring info, and more cat pics.