Lifestyle Opinion

Feels. What do we do with them?

I ran across a list recently. Another internet list of things women shouldn’t have to justify. And the one that struck me the most was having to apologize for having perfectly normal emotional reactions. I know this phenomenon well, but why do I do this? Emotions are a part of being human regardless of gender, they can be messy and irrational and out of character, but damn it, they’re real.

Dancer: "A beautiful day for a grand jeté!" Guy: "What is in her coffee??"

Dancer: “A beautiful day for a grand jeté!” Guy: “What is in her coffee??”

I think our society treats emotions like a contagious disease and people who wear it on their sleeve are trained to keep their distance. If you’re just walking down a normal city street and run across someone smiling and dancing happily along. What would most people do? Probably avoid eye contact and continue on ahead straight-faced and straight-laced, as if, “Eww, happiness! I might catch it; I’m going to walk around this guy.” Why do we do that?

Similar things happen with the opposite emotions. I know too many people who know that they’re uncomfortable and clueless when it comes to what to do when a person comes to them crying with sadness and looking for consolation. I’ve been there myself. Do you rub their back and say, “There, there, it’s okay.” Maybe it’s all not okay. Maybe they don’t want to be touched. How are you supposed to know what to do with a sad person who can’t use words at the moment? What would you want someone to do for you?

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Losing your love in a parallel universe can be really sucky.

I would really like it if our culture in general were more accepting of a variety of emotions from our friends and from strangers. Ever wonder why in some areas it’s appropriate to smile at someone you pass by and it’s actually kind of rude if you don’t? Whereas other areas it’s weird and invasive to even make eye contact on the street, let alone smile! Can we just appreciate our fellow human beings for how they feel and try to empathize with that? We’ve all felt every emotion to some degree. It’s not impossible to help a friend in need, or share in a stranger’s joy. It’s probably healthy for you to feel some things more deeply than your day-to-day mundanity, and it sure does feel good when you help someone out by being there to support them during their grieving, or join in their celebratory party.

When was the last time you let yourself cry? Or have that omg-I-can’t-breath-I-think-I-just-peed-a-little belly laugh? Or let your anger or frustration out (in a safe, non-destructive way)? How often do you bottle those feelings? I did this for way too long, and it’s really hard to let myself feel sometimes. I sometimes feel childish, or stupid. But the fact is, feelings are valid no matter why you’re feeling them. You should be allowed to feel them among friends or in public without fear of judgement or shame, and have those friends help you in sorting through your perfectly normal human emotions to think rationally, when maybe you can’t.

Current Events News Religion

American Atheists in Times Square

Dave Muscato, Communications Director for American Atheists was interviewed on Bill O’Reilly’s show, The O’Reilly Factor, and did an amazing job!! The digital billboard which starts with the question, “Who needs Christ in Christmas?” a hand with a marker crosses out Christ and the answer, “Nobody.” appears at the bottom.

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This again, is seen as controversial, as most American Atheist advertisements are. Some atheists even disagree with it but it’s definitely ticked off the conservative Christian right. The guest host, Eric Bolling asks Dave why he’s so mean and why American Atheists is attacking Christians. Dave answers in the most rational manner.

I applaud this interview on several fronts. All his responses are quick and to the point (sometimes 6 or more times), Dave didn’t give any emotional reaction, which I think is what made Mr. Bolling keep asking the same questions again and again waiting for Dave to slip up. But Dave didn’t and Bolling ended up being the one losing his cool with the emotional reaction.

This is opposed to the Dave Silverman tactic of laughing at the hosts and playing the mean troll which gets no one on his side except the most ardent of atheists. I appreciate Muscato’s method to a much higher degree since the billboard message targets the on-the-fence or casual Christians who only play along with religion while not truly believing it, and Muscato’s technique allows that audience to consider his position seriously while the host made a yelling broken-record fool of himself.

Don’t take my word for it though, watch the clip below.

General Lifestyle

Life Changes

So, this is going to kind of be one of those, “I haven’t blogged in a long time and I’m sorry posts,” but I think it may be interesting. See, since the last time I blogged even somewhat regularly, I’ve had a lot of life changes. Here’s a small list.

  1. Graduated from university.
  2. Got a job with the Secular Student Alliance.*
  3. Got my first car.
  4. Moved to Austin, TX.
  5. Adopted a kitten.
  6. Wrecked my new car.

Number 1 is covered pretty well in a previous post. The rest I will do my best to summarize here.

Number 2, most of you I believe know that I have been hired on by the Secular Student Alliance as the Texas Regional Campus Organizer. For those who don’t know, ta-dah! — now you do. The job entails me keeping track of all the university and high school level SSA affiliates within the state of Texas. No tiny feat, but it’s interesting.

I was brought on in July and by early August I had finished my training in Columbus, OH and took my tiny little blue car, stuffed to the ceiling with my possessions and drove myself down to Austin, TX where I had chosen to relocate for the job figuring, this is the time in my life where I have the fewest ties holding me down to my home-state of Michigan; let’s explore someplace new!

This helped out nicely with incentive for Number 3. I got my first car! I’ve always shared some crappy boat of a vehicle with my older brother throughout college, and it worked rather well, but it sure is annoying. I was trying to figure out how I was going to get a car for my new job and life in Texas when my parents – mostly my dad – decided to help me buy my first car. I did so much research on size and safety and picked out about 5 small cars I went to test-drive. It came down to a 2013 Ford Fiesta… in Candy Blue. It had fantastic safety ratings, looked great as a sedan, had a very roomy trunk – good for moving your entire life  - and it was the one I liked driving the best. Now I was ready to drive to Texas.

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Number 4. Before this I had only been to Texas twice. Once in 2008 where we flew into Houston, took a bus to Galveston to board a Christmastime cruise with the family. The second was earlier this year in May with my dad (who coincidentally loves to drive across the country for funsies) to check out the city and get an idea of things before I permanently relocate. Though I had been apartment hunting since April, nothing had surfaced yet that fit my needs, so I was very kindly invited to stay with Matt Dillahunty of The Atheist Experience, and his wife Beth Presswood, host of the Godless Bitches podcast, and both heavily involved in the Atheist Community of Austin.

It was a delight to stay with them in their home and I’m so grateful for their hospitality while I spent my days meeting my roommate, and driving across the city looking at apartments. Eventually, me and my new roommate found a nice place and put the money down, and I was finally able to unpack my car and fulfill my recently recurring dreams of shopping at Ikea. And while it was amazingly successful, let me tell you… hauling Ikea furniture parts up three flights of twisty stairs in a Texan August sucks. But over the next month or so, we slowly got both our rooms and the living room furnished. (Though we’re still waiting for a full, non-broken dining set. And once we have that, dinner parties!)

I’ve been in Austin for about 4 months now, and while Texas isn’t my favorite state, Austin definitely has its charms and the liberal arty life here has been quite enjoyable.

Number 5, kitties!! I’ve always loved animals, in particular cats, but was never allowed to have pets growing up. (I know, weird, right?) College apartments didn’t allow pets, not that my budget allowed it. But I vowed to myself that as soon as I had a place of my own and I could afford it, I would fulfill my lifelong wish of getting a cat. I spent a long time researching shelters in the area (it was literally the second thing I looked up about Austin when I found out I was moving), and eventually settled on Austin Pets Alive! They’re the main shelter in downtown Austin, and under city ordinance is a no-kill shelter. Love! After visiting several satellite APA shelter locations in various big box pet supply stores, I went to the main campus down by the river. There I fell in love with Asher, a 3 month old all-black short hair. He was active and playful but didn’t mind being picked up and cuddled. I also have a soft spot for black cats, especially after learning from the shelter volunteers that people are actually superstitious enough not to adopt black cats. I didn’t know that was actually a thing. But being the dirty heathen that I am, I felt we were the perfect outcast match and I signed the papers and took him home.

Asher

Number 6, Texas drivers really suck. They don’t follow speed limits, take advantage of yellow lights for far too long, have no concept of a slow lane and a passing lane, all of which makes driving here always feel like a crap shoot for someone from a state were traffic laws were generally agreed upon.

On September 6th I was t-boned at a major downtown intersection completely totaling my brand new car above. It was a combination of a very poorly designed left turn lane with poor visibility of on coming traffic and a guy trying to make a yellow light, probably going too fast. Left turns are no longer allowed in that direction, so I must not have been the first accident victim there. But this accident was no fun. I was not injured beyond a very sore neck and some seatbelt bruises, and side airbags definitely played a role in that, but it induced a very bad panic attack that had me riled for the next two days.

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Then was the nightmare with my Michigan AAA insurance. To save a long, rage-inducing story, they’ve basically been shit. Bad attitude, terrible service, I could never reliably get in contact with anyone, I had about seven different “agents” for my case, and I still haven’t gotten my insurance check from them. Thankfully I have a very supportive mother who is helping me bear the cost of my replacement car until they get their fucking act together.

I have since switched to Texas AAA who have been a complete dream. I have one agent who I’ve spoken to many times on the phone, is extremely kind, knows my name and my case, and when I went into the local office, they’ve been wonderful to me. Unfortunately AAA insurance isn’t they same system nationwide and they can’t help with my accident claim in Michigan, but they’ve helped reduce my stress on this end of things at least. And I now have a new-to-me 2012 Certified Pre-Owned Silver Ford Focus SEL, which means faaancy! I was overwhelmed by the buttons in this car, but it’s a bigger sedan, much heavier I could tell by the handling, and has a sun roof! I miss my obnoxiously blue car, but this one has been very nice, other than smelling a little bit like old-people when you turn the heat on from it’s previous life as a rental car in Georgia.

So… that’s the basic summary of my summer after graduation and my move to Texas.

*Note: The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent my employer.

Link News Science

FDA Tells 23andMe to Halt Sales of Genetic Test

ABC News – FDA Tells 23andMe to Halt Sales of Genetic Test 

“The Food and Drug Administration has ordered Google-backed genetic test maker 23andMe to halt sales of its personalized DNA test kits, saying the company has failed to show that the technology is supported by science.”

Bill Nye - Science in this shit

Their other concern is that this may be mistaken as medical diagnoses, which it isn’t. It simply shares what your DNA may, MAY have in store for you. If you’ve got the BRCA gene for increases risk of breast or ovarian cancer, maybe you should get screened more often. If you’re shown to have a sensitivity to certain anesthetic drugs, maybe your doctor will start you at a lower dose in surgery.

MAYBE. PERHAPS. None of this is definitive diagnoses or even probability. They’ve never claimed this, and say ALL over their website that this does not replace actual medical tests or screening. It’s simply information. Sometimes the FDA is just stupid. Either way, I’m glad I already got my test last Christmas.

Creative

Running to Recovery

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Running to Recovery

Graphite Drawing

My natural introversion developed into severe depression in my early teens and generalized and social anxiety in college. Over these last years, with effort and treatment I have learned to become more extroverted. Running to Recovery is a personal timeline depicting the weight of this transformation.

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Creative

Offering

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Offering
Paper & Ink

The meditative process of creating these stamped progressions was a metaphor for several things including the deterioration of mental stability in having depression and anxiety as well as the expanse of knowledge of life, ideas, of matter in the universe, the comparison between macro and micro biology and the patterns in nature seen in both. The beauty and simplicity of evolution on Earth and the mysterious expanse of space is more beautiful than any gods could create.

* I invite viewers to take one card as my offering and thanks for participating in this experience.

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News Opinion

I am an atheist female leader!

A recent Salon article asked, “Where are the Women of New Atheism?” Secular Woman responded with a resounding, here we are! with their own list of interviews with female atheist leaders. I consider myself to be among these women in the movement. The interesting thing I found is that the author, Katie Englehart found women leaders. She points to Jen McCreight of Blag Hag, the writers at Skepchick, Susan Jacoby and Jennifer Michael Hecht’s books, but wondered why these women aren’t of household fame of the likes of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris.

susan jacobyI say, maybe because media doesn’t pay as much attention or give as much credit to women as they do men? Say, Ms. Englehart, why did you make your featured photograph the top leading white men in the movement when you could have easily found photos of Susan Jacoby, Jamila Bey, Lyz Liddell or others? Why, instead of featuring these women you found, did you decide to complain about their lack of visibility among men?

Secular Woman points out their board and members as examples. They also include well known women in the movement such as Amy Davis Roth of Surlyramics, Theresa MacBain, ex-minister who had nationwide coverage of her deconversion, American Atheists and Recovering from Religion board member, and Executive Director of Humanists of Florida. There’s Jamila Bey, journalist and activist who will be discussing this topic on her own radio show. Lyz Liddell is the campus organizer for all SSA affiliated groups in the country!

And there are countless others including many, many up and coming female leaders who are currently running student groups and hosting their own blogs, myself included. Though I may not be leader of anything in particular right now, I was a leader of my secular student group at my university for a few years. Some could say I’m a leader as a Regional Campus Organizer of the Secular Student Alliance. I don’t feel like I quite have an actual leadership position. More like virtual internet guide for existing student leaders in the Texas region. But I do consider myself to be a leader by my example, living as a female atheist, especially in a southern state since I’ve relocated.

So, it’s my thought that there are plenty of women leaders in atheism. But because of patriarchy and media trends, we’d rather spend our time actually doing our work to help the movement than chasing down media attention and putting our face in front of it. At least, that’s my feeling. If any journalists or news persons would like to talk to women leaders instead of complaining about our lack of public face, feel free to contact me or any of the women above for more tips and info.

Creative

Credo de Atheos

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Credo de Atheos
Digital Print with Gold Leaf

Many of my frustrations come from contradictions throughout the Bible. In the Middle Ages, the Bible was only allowed to be published in Latin and was intimately hand-copied by monks where many passages were often changed or removed according to Papal ideals. This along with the common man’s illiteracy made the Bible cryptic so that the church could control the message of God and therefore control the people. I still feel like the message of the Bible is warped by various “interpretations” of the word over time and by different Christian denominations.

The writing here is a personal reflection on my feelings towards atheism and Christianity. The words become cryptic themselves by formally referencing religious illuminated manuscripts of the past.

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Creative

Blood of the Bible

College, as it is for many, has been a journey of personal discovery. In recent years this has led me to my discovery of my lack of belief in religious superstition and the waxing and waning of mental illness. The act of leaving Christianity when I was also struggling with anxiety made things especially difficult. Even though this decision was very personal, the act of leaving religion is a large act of extroversion and took bravery when stepping away from community and sometimes friends and family. Turning to atheism especially, still gathers a negative social stigma that makes being an introvert even more challenging.

However, in having these realizations near simultaneously in my life has only made me stronger as I am more able to engage with others. Proclaiming my atheism showed me that I am strong enough to be myself without the overbearance of mental illness. Turning to atheism and rejecting the thought of an afterlife or eternal reward has made my one life, my only chance, all the more precious to live as my fullest self, to champion my depression and anxieties and be me.

In this body of work I document and share personal internal thoughts in a way that I hope everyone can view and experience with thought. In viewing art, we are often drawn to make comparisons to our own lives, but I encourage viewers to also try stepping out of themselves and into a different paradigm. I offer these personal experiences for viewers to engage with and hopefully find a new way of navigating belief systems and personal struggle.

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Blood of the Bible: The blood of the son does not make up for the sins of the father
Bible & Ink

The God of the Old Testament is a violent and vengeful God. If you count the reported numbers in the Bible, God kills 2,476,633 people. However, this does not include unreported numbers including those killed in Noah’s flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, plagues, famines, etc. If you include these, God’s upper estimate is 25 million deaths on his hands.

Satan’s kill count is 10, the seven sons and thee daughters of Job which God allows as a part of a bet. His upper estimate is 60.

I took these numbers and calculated how many deaths happen per page on average in the Bible (about 8 September 11ths per page) and from that, found that there are 31.62 deaths per word.

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Lucifer’s Responsibility
2 words of the Bible

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My second project can be viewed here.

Activism Lifestyle

The 6 Types of Atheists and Non-Believers in America

Researchers polled non-believers to find out who abandons religion and why. The answers tell us a lot about religion and non-belief in America. The result is The 6 Types of Atheists and Non-Believers in America.

With my experience in the movement, these six types are very accurate, and I’ve seen many examples of both. For number five, “non-theists” defined as people who don’t really think about it or care about faith beliefs, I refer to them as apatheists since they’re often so apathetic to the conversation.

I believe I’m considered an Intellectual Atheist as I seek out conversations with other like-minded people but I’m not going to harass anyone who thinks differently. I also fit into Activist since I care a lot about secularism and the many movement connected to it and I want to do whatever I can to help the movement and grow secularism and make the world a better place. (Can I have my Miss America crown now?)

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