The Challenge With Chastity

independentgirlism

In our house, we have no real tv. As a result, my kids have taken to watching various YouTube channels. Some are silly, like FailArmy. Some are annoying, like all the Minecraft reaction channels. Some are mildly amusing, like iisuperwomanii.

Now I personally prefer binge watching 9 seasons of Supernatural on Netflix inside of two weeks, but that is often thwarted by the YouTube stuff. Recently, my eldest daughter was going through the superwoman channel and landed on a video where the host, Lilly Singh, answered questions from fans.*

I normally cringe at this stuff because the questions tend to be sexual in nature, or just wholly inappropriate for my 12 year old to hear. However, I have to give credit to Ms. Singh for 1) choosing questions that were both funny and appropriate, and 2) answering them honestly.

One of the questions was truly intriguing. Ms. Singh was asked…

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Your Logic is Flawed

Full Frontal Nerdery

All I see on Facebook lately is “Colorado was STOLEN!” “Cruz is an establishment sellout!” and the further I investigate these claims, the more I facepalm.

I know I’m not convincing anyone of anything here, so I’m merely going to point out why your logic is flawed if you believe these things. I understand you all have your preferred sites that deliver news in exactly the tone you wish to hear, so I’m under no illusions that my post will shake the foundations of your beliefs. This is simply cathartic for me.

First, let’s start with your news sources, shall we? I keep hearing how The Media is evil and in the tank for The Democrats or The Establishment Republicans (it changes depending on who is critical of The Angry Cheeto – which reminds me of the evil Cheese Curls in Veggie Tales, right down to the lips). I see a…

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Discretion, Nudity, and The Mommy Wars

Okay, I have a bone to pick with moms. I try to avoid the Mommy Wars, because you can never win. There is always another mom who is more righteous, educated, experienced, etc. Nonetheless, I must weigh in on this topic: BREASTFEEDING IN PUBLIC.
This article from NY Daily News is the latest “awareness campaign” to educate the rest of us on the sorrowful plight of young mothers. The poor dears. It seems no one heretofore knew that babies had to suckle from breasts for sustenance. I know, I’m shocked, too. What’s more, these bastions of maternal caring have been relegated to toilets in order to feed their children. Oh, the humanity!
First, let me start by saying that I love babies. Babies are awesome and special and moms deserve respect for carrying babies inside them and going through childbirth. Virtual pat on the back, fellow moms. You’ve sacrificed for other tiny people and you are appreciated!
So, CLEARLY, I’m all for moms, and babies, and moms feeding babies. I don’t think people should freak out when moms feed their babies discreetly. I mean, kids have to eat, and while some babies eat formula, or mushy baby food, or gallons of goldfish crackers, the point is that they all eat. Feeding children is one of the primary jobs of a mother. Along with wiping their tushy and keeping them alive until they can do all these things for themselves. I have no problem with public breastfeeding, just as I have no problem with public any-kind-of-feeding, so long as it doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of my own meal.
HOWEVER, when you have a woman who is either 1) just classless or 2) wishes to make a statement: “I’M BREASTFEEDING. LOOK AT MY BREAST. LOOK AT MY SUCKLING CHILD. THIS IS NATURE. DEAL WITH IT.” then those women should not be surprised when they’re asked to take that out of the public eye. (Funny thing about the aforementioned article? They’re complaining about breastfeeding “where nature calls” yet the Exposed Breast Defenders will rant about how breastfeeding is “natural” and therefore protected under ALL THE LAWS.) It’s really about personal responsibility and what a business feels is best for ALL their clientele, not just the offended young mother (or fellow diner). A business owner should be allowed to say to a woman, “I’m sorry, but we’ve had some complaints. If you could take that into the restroom/outside/to your personal vehicle, we would appreciate it.” There are plenty of ways to breastfeed discreetly. There are entire clothing lines dedicated to it. There are blankets (and really, who takes a baby out without a blanket??). Heck, there are pumps and bottles with nipples designed to mimic the breast so that you never even have to expose yourself! You cannot tell me that the only option for a young breastfeeding mother is to be relegated to the toilet to feed her kid. Furthermore, everyone who’s ever had an infant knows that YOU HAVE A SCHEDULE! You don’t just decide to go out and then suddenly are all, “Holy crow! I totally forgot little Johnny needed his boobie time just now!” Like the need to expose yourself just sneaks up on you. NO. You have a schedule. You know that in (x) number of hours, you will need to feed your child. It’s parenting 101. So why, then, are you in a position to have to feed in a restroom? Poor planning, mom. Although I’m sure you would still not be asked to retire to the toilet if you didn’t whip out your boob in front of God and man and that table with the five year old and the twelve year old boy next to you. DISCRETION, people. Learn it. Live it. Teach it to your kids.

I’m sick of these endless “campaigns” and all the raising of the awareness. We’re all aware of where baby milk comes from. Are you aware, dear mothers, that we don’t all want a demonstration? You have a feeding schedule, and there are such things as pumps, yet we’re all still subjected to a graphic demonstration because AWARENESS! ZOMG! I mean really. We’re all sharing space out here in this world. I may feel entitled to do certain things, but I also have a responsibility to behave respectfully in a civilized society, especially out in public. I’m not even weighing in on whether “breast is best” or any of the other catchphrases of the Mommy Wars. As long as you aren’t poisoning your child I don’t care what you feed them. Every child has different needs, appetites, temperaments, etc. You can’t expect your experience to apply across the board. Having said that, you do have to live with the consequences of your actions, and if that means that your public nudity plants you firmly in the restroom, so be it. It also means that if a business owner overreacts to a normal, discreet action of a mother, then you and all your friends can happily take your money elsewhere. After all, businesses speak the language of profit. Use the power you have, just stop whining when you do something meant to provoke and are called on it.

You Matter

What is your value?
What is your purpose?
What sets you apart?

These questions enter the minds of most people during their lives and cause them to introspect and take stock of their goals in life. Everyone will answer the questions differently because no one has the same life experience, the same advantages, or the same ambition.

The same questions are asked by political junkies, but it’s less introspection and more general critique of one another. I’ve seen this especially in the conservative political set; we all seem to be measuring one another’s effectiveness by different standards.

There is the activist that believes true effectiveness is “boots on the ground”: knocking on doors, making calls, writing letters. The blogger believes in the advancement of ideas through media; making the case to support a cause or policy with thoughtful, well-researched articles. There is the pontificator that thinks gaining ground happens in the real-time free flow of ideas online and in person, the media maven who believes videos will reach more people in our entertainment-loving society, and the quiet soul that wishes only to stand in solidarity with his conservative brother and strengthen one another’s convictions and arguments so that they can better defend their positions.

So who is most valuable? Which one of those subgroups have more impact or purpose in the conservative movement?

According to many, I’m pretty useless as a political tool in the conservative shed. I haven’t worked on a campaign staff, I don’t knock on doors or make calls, and I rarely even blog. What value do I have? I don’t question my own value, but I know many people do. They may not know they’re talking about me because they’re usually speaking in very broad terms about another group of people that they feel aren’t doing as much as they themselves are, at least according to their own standards of effectiveness.

I don’t have to wonder if I’m making a difference because I know that I am. My life has pretty well been dedicated to my kids. I gave up many of my own ambitions to focus on being a mother. I have been blessed to explain current events and politics to my children in a way that they can understand and engage their minds in a topic that, quite frankly, not many adults can comprehend. I know that I have a duty to inform them so that when they are able to vote they can do so with some measure of understanding, giving serious thought to the gravity of their choices. I also want them to be able to make a compelling argument to their peers and be able to defend their positions to their teachers. We often talk about the heavily biased education our kids receive from public schools and universities, so I’m actively preparing my children to go out into a world that is not friendly to their ideas and to engage that world and hopefully change it.

Does that have no value?

I have changed minds about gun control and abortion through simple conversation. I’ve encouraged other conservatives by being bold enough to shout down the bullies. I’ve strengthened my friends’ arguments just as they’ve strengthened mine through discussion of ideas and the sharing of information. I know this because people have told me that I’ve made a difference in their lives.

Does my chatter have no purpose?

I don’t have to wonder if my small efforts within the arena of politics have value. I know they do. They may not be big, or public, or acknowledged, but they have gained us ground and have strengthened us as a group. Do I think I’m better than any other blogger or activist? No. We’re all working for a common goal here, or should be, so I’m happy to let you do what you do best while I make small improvements in the world around me. Your efforts help me, just as my efforts help you. If I can change a person’s mind, that’s another reader for you. That’s possibly another person knocking on doors. That’s another person to have your back when you’re under attack for defending the Constitution.

So don’t lose heart when you wonder if you’re making a difference. If you are making a case for conservatism, in whatever form it takes, then you are making a difference. You are helping others find their voice, you are encouraging your conservative brothers, and you are getting the message out one small voice at a time. A multitude of small voices is more resounding than a single person yelling into the void.

You matter. You have value. No go be awesome.

This One’s for my Homies

As you well know if you follow this blog, I’ve been inactive for a few months. I hit a major rut and lost my inspiration. I don’t know why I felt so completely incapable of putting together a reasonably coherent post; perhaps a perfect storm of ADD, doubt, and self-criticism kept me literarily mute. (Yes, I just made that word up.) I was overwhelmed by the amount of news assaulting my mind and demanding my notice. I couldn’t focus enough on anything else to bother with an attempt.
Truth be told, I had plenty to say. I didn’t crawl into a hole and stop observing the world, but I’d gotten comfortable with pithy responses and began to doubt I could formulate a more well-thought out response than would fill a sentence or two. I would create a draft, do a bit of research, and then tell myself that this was all old news anyway and no one would care anymore.
That’s why, when prompted by friends and followers, I decided to grit my teeth and get back up on the blog-horse (to amalgamate some metaphors) and just break through the writer’s block by force of will.
I have no illusions that this will result in any devastatingly spectacular prose. For now it is enough to simply string words together and form sentences that result in a conclusive idea.
I know that the people who have encouraged me to return to this form of media and expression aren’t demanding Pulitzer-prize winning posts from me… yet, anyway. They simply missed, for some reason known only to themselves, my views on life, politics, spirituality, or any of the other topics that I sometimes opine on. Their encouragement is why I’m back in the writer’s chair (or bed, as it were).
So to those dear folk; the friends, followers, and fellow writers; thank you.
Thank you for nudging and prodding me back into using the written word to share my thoughts and experiences. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for believing me capable of this when I doubted myself.
This one’s for you, my homies. I pour out these words on the fertile ground of the internet. Peace. 😉

Topic grab bag: Random blogging

I’ve noticed that I have left my blog unchecked for 20 days now. For everyone who’s still with me.. thanks. Also, sorry.

I have been pondering some weighty issues and trying to decide if, why, and how I should write about them. I finally determined to go ahead with the topics, but with less detail than I had intended originally. The topics could cause pain to some of my family, so it’s best to proceed with caution.

For now, though, I will not be writing about weighty issues. Sitting here full of pizza, cold medicine, and a little whiskey, I’d be lucky to make sense of the insignificant. To be honest I’m tempted to ask the internet for a topic and just write off the cuff about random things.

What could go wrong?

Here goes…

A quick look at Facebook reveals that the 2nd Amendment is the first line of defense, and also that 1 million likes man has won the dubious honor of  “Beta of the Decade.” I wonder if his wife owns a gun? I doubt he’d know what to do with one.

Twitter has disappointed me this evening. One question only.. “why are puppies so adorbz? (and delicious)” Umm… you’d have to ask the president about the deliciousness of puppies. I think puppies are adorable because they’re so awkward and fluffy.

But wait! More twitter questions…

“Why did the apocalypse not get any press?” Probably because we’re all still alive, there aren’t any zombies, and no aliens were involved.

And tonight’s winning question…

*Drumroll*

“Why do we never hear from Obama’s jr. high, high school, or college classmates?”

That’s a good question. I’d like to see Katie Couric interview the Choom Gang myself. I’m especially interested in what they read. It’s strange that we know so little about the past of our current president. I suppose it’s helpful if you have the authority to seal your records and preside over the FBI and CIA. I mean, I’m not saying anybody from his past would meet with any accidents or whatever, but if this were Hollywood, anyone who could cast The Chosen in a bad light would meet with doom. Not that he’s a Hollywood president. Just speaking theoretically, of course.

Well, that’s all for tonight. Thanks for playing Random Blogging with Coffeebreak! See you next week…. if you want to play again. Let me know in the comments!

A Hobbit Review

I just saw The Hobbit earlier tonight, and as a huge Tolkien nerd I feel it is my duty to give an honest review of the movie. Fair warning: this post will be chock full of spoilers!

I’ll start by saying that I LOVED the movie. The first thing I did when I got home was to read the critical reviews of the movie to see if anyone else noticed the same departures from the book as I did and also to temper my enthusiasm.

I still love the movie. You should see it if you haven’t already.

I’ll start by saying that I like how the back story is introduced. Tolkien fans will appreciate the references to the Sackville-Bagginses (and silverware) and the Red Book of Westmarch. I like that we see Bilbo setting his affairs in order on the day of his birthday party by leaving his account of the finding of the ring for Frodo and how his preoccupation with the ring affects his thoughts, which Frodo notices. At first I was afraid the movie would get bogged down in this introduction, but as Bilbo writes the story of how Smaug destroyed the region around Dale it keeps you from feeling as if the movie has slowed down by balancing Bilbo’s narration with exciting visual scenes. The meeting between Bilbo and Gandalf is word for word from the book, much to the joy of a true Hobbit fan, and the introduction of the dwarves is fun and accurate without being silly. I was glad that there wasn’t a lot of focus on the colorful hoods and cloaks, but rather on Bilbo’s discomfort with having an onslaught of unexpected company (during a meal no less!). The scene with the dishes being tossed around is great, as it is fun to watch and loyal to the book. I was also pleased with the reference to Bilbo leaving his pocket-handkerchief behind, as it is one of those details from the book that a true fan would notice and reinforces the truth that Bilbo is not adventuring material. I know (because I read) that some critics dislike this portrayal of Bilbo because it ignores his Tookish nature, but without a lot of Hobbit genealogy you can’t really get a feel for the peculiarity of the Tooks and showing Bilbo as a fully developed character early on would simply make him seem bipolar. He is a respectable Hobbit, who sometimes feels as if he’d like to have an adventure, but who has accepted that Hobbits don’t have adventures. He’s forced into this adventure by Gandalf, and if you ignore their dialogue early on I suppose you could make a case for Bilbo’s Tookish side being blithely ignored, but you’d still be wrong. To be true to the book, and to move the story along and leave room for character development cinematically speaking, Bilbo must be shown as doing something rather impulsive which leaves him feeling uncomfortable. Bemoaning the loss of pocket-handkerchiefs is effective in that it shows how Bilbo has become rather soft and comfortable in his little hole.

The company begins to face danger as soon as they set out on their quest. The first conflict is of course with the trolls. There is a slight departure from the book in that the dwarves attack all at once, and Bilbo is the one to play for time as the sun rises. If you feel affronted at these departures then you have taken literary purity too far. I like that Bilbo gets to show a bit of wit playing for time by having the trolls argue over the best way to cook dwarves. Gandalf of course comes in and exposes the trolls to the sunlight by breaking the rock with his staff, thereby letting the sun’s rays shine through. It’s close enough to the book without wasting time on dialogue shenanigans and it gives Bilbo a chance to find his footing in the group. The next danger they face is completely fabricated for the movie. In the book there were no Warg-riding Orcs hunting the group, but I can understand why this plot point would be brought into the movie; not only does it bring in Thorin’s back story of his battle with the Orcs of Moria, but it sets some of the groundwork for the Battle of the Five Armies to come later. It also conveniently brings the group to Rivendell where they get their map’s hidden runes exposed and translated. Some critics dislike everything about this time in Imladris, but it deals effectively with some fine plot points that no one outside of die-hard Middle Earth fans would know or understand. First of all, it shows Thorin’s pride and distrust as weaknesses of character in an otherwise strong leader. Second, it briefly shows the meeting of the White Council. The White Council met to discuss the rise of the Necromancer in Mirkwood, and it is at this meeting that Saruman counseled delay while Gandalf believed the evil needed to be confronted and banished. This is important in that it shows the very beginning of Saruman’s double-dealing. He knew the danger, but he had begun his own search for the ring and did not wish for anyone else to know of it. I speak as a book nerd of course, not all of this information is spelled out plainly in the movie. Rather, the company of dwarves use the meeting of the White Council to sneak away while those who would stop them are distracted and you get a sense that Gandalf knows what’s what and Saruman either does not or is a pacifist. (As a true fan, I’m glad the White Council is introduced to the storyline since it is crucial in the tale of the ring.)

The next danger the company will face is from the mountain-giants. I was surprised to see these creatures featured in the movie, as they aren’t hugely relevant to the story. The threat they pose to the group is overdone and exaggerated, and if I had one complaint it would be that these creatures take up time that would have been better spent on some other plot point. (Having said that, they are in the book and should tickle your purist funny-bone.) The mountain-giants effectively run the dwarves into a cave, where they camp for the night. In the book, a secret door opens to a passage where Orcs enter and kidnap the group, but in the movie the floor opens up, dumping the company into a sort of trap. What follows is a departure from the book, but also provides one of the best fight sequences you’ll see in a movie. Dwarves, young and old, kick serious Orc butt. (Gandalf rejoins the group at this time.) This is also where Bilbo gets separated from the group and ends up in Gollum’s cave. I know some people angrily nit-pick exactly how Bilbo ends up with Gollum, but I can see why Jackson would hurry that particular sequence along. While it may be fun to read about a Hobbit stumbling through the dark for hours, it isn’t exactly movie magic. Movie-goers would rather watch Bilbo fall down a slope after an Orc attack and then see Gollum kill the Orc with a rock. It also shows how the Ring ‘leaves’ Gollum at this time. (Keep in mind that the ring has gotten all the use out of Gollum that it can and now its desire is to be active in the world again!) This is where some critics go hog-wild with venting their ire. The scene is not exactly as it is first shown in LOTR. To those critics I’d have to say, “Watch the beginning of The Hobbit again, then read the books!” Bilbo didn’t tell the tale completely or truthfully of how he came by the ring! He only revealed the truth to Gandalf after much time and questioning and to Frodo in his written account in the Red Book of Westmarch. To depart from a previous version at this time makes perfect sense!

The next sequence of events also departs from the book and sets some purists’ teeth on edge. As the company escapes the Orcs of the mountain, they fall into the hands of the Warg-riding Orcs. Again, this is understandable as a plot device. In the book, the group actually gets chased into the trees by a pack of Wargs, and the Wargs wait for nightfall when the Orcs will leave the mountain and pursue the group. Orcs shun the daylight, and it weakens them, but after a defeat they’d be hungry for revenge. It makes sense to use this devised group of Warg-riding Orcs with a personal vendetta against Thorin to speed the story along, although it ends with a short fight scene that I can only guess is used to reconcile Bilbo to the dwarves so as to end the first movie on a note of solidarity within the company. Lots of critics see it as an unnecessary departure into the cliché, and while I agree that it isn’t relevant to the story, it is necessary to bring some cohesion to the group at this time. As a matter of fact, if I had any complaint about this sequence of events, I’d say the Eagles got short-changed. Again. Those noble birds are forever being treated as nothing more than Middle Earth transportation!

Some random things I noticed that I felt were a bit lazy: Gandalf scares people with his room-darkening trick again, the Orc battle is oddly like the battle in Moria with all the collapsing structure, and Gandalf asks a moth to send the Eagles. Other things will be familiar, namely scenes (Weathertop) and musical themes. It makes Middle Earth feel familiar, like an old friend, but in my opinion plays a little too much to the crowd that wants to relive LOTR instead of revisit Middle Earth. It’s small criticism of an over all exceptionally well-done adaptation, though.

The one thing that I haven’t decided how to react to yet is Radagast. When I read all the books, I imagined Radagast as a quiet, solitary wizard. Gentle, perhaps. In this movie he’s an eccentric, nervous, and almost motherly wizard whose primary purpose is to care for animals. That’s not to say that this portrayal is inaccurate. Radagast was known to have a rapport with animals and spoke to them. He even sent them on missions for the Council. What I find difficult to embrace about this character is that he allowed birds to cake one side of his head in poo and he rode a sleigh pulled by bunnies. Watching his Rosgobel Rabbits outrun the Wargs was pretty funny, but seriously if you were a wizard that talked to animals wouldn’t you ask the birds to kindly not crap on your head?? I would.

So anyhow… that’s what I thought of The Hobbit. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section!