What is troubling is what The Elf on the Shelf represents and normalizes: anecdotal evidence reveals that children perform an identity that is not only for caretakers, but for an external authority (The Elf on the Shelf), similar to the dynamic between citizen and authority in the context of the surveillance state. Further to this, The Elf on the Shelf website offers teacher resources, integrating into both home and school not only the brand but also tacit acceptance of being monitored and always being on one’s best behaviour–without question.
Transformers: Age of Extinction wasn’t bad, but Best Picture? HAHAHAHAHAHAH No.
I would have thought an ad for Arby’s, whose sandwiches I find about as appealing as being hit in the junk with a croquet mallet, and Pepsi, whose cola I think is about as tasty as malted paint thinner, wouldn’t be something I would give a crap about. And yet here we are.
I am afraid of the cops. Absolutely petrified of the cops. Now understand, I’ve never been arrested or held for questioning. I’ve never been told that I “fit the description.” But that doesn’t change a thing. I am afraid of cops the way that spiders are afraid of boots. You’re walking along, minding your own business, and SQUISH! You are dead.
Simply put, I am afraid of the cops because I am black. To raise the stakes even further, I am male. And to go all in on this pot of fear, I am six foot four, and weigh 250 pounds. Michael Brown, the unarmed Missouri 18-year-old shot dead by police this summer, was also six foot four. Depending on your perspective, I could be described as a “gentle giant,” the way that teachers described Brown. Or I could be described as a “demon,” the way that Officer Darren Wilson described Michael Brown in his grand-jury testimony.
It’s informative and infuriating. That this is a thing that anyone should have to deal with pisses me off to no end.
Anyone who’s followed my idiotic blathering on the internet for any length of time would know that I generally avoid talking about topics that have any substance to them. There’s several reasons for this:
- Jokes about food, pop culture and Apple products I will inevitably buy sight-unseen are easy, and jokes about things that are not those topics are uncomfortable and difficult and exhausting.
- I don’t want to link myself to saying something that might endanger my job.
That second one has been the big boogeyman for quite some time, and with good reason: I’ve seen that shit happen, gang. I know people who were let go from their jobs for well written, insightful posts on their blogs. I know people who were fired for simply being tagged in someone else’s stupidity on Facebook… Nothing salacious or incendiary, just dumb. I’m related to someone who was taken to task by their employer’s HR department for making jokes about how the television station they worked for would fill a few dozen holes in their programming schedule with repeat showings of the House Party movies. I couldn’t ignore the possibility that it could happen to me and, as a fan of health insurance and paying my bills, I’ve done everything I could to avoid it.
The specter of unemployment also helped usher in a period of creative atrophy for me, as well — with a few rare exceptions, I’ve become adept at writing bland, toothless crap that is completely forgettable. Admittedly, it wasn’t all bad — this whole “don’t upset the apple cart” mentality has kept me in steady employment for thirteen years, after all, which is not an easy feat in the current economy.
It’s important for me to get that out in the open before I go on, I think — I need to acknowledge my creative shortcomings, explain why they exist, and, more for my sake than yours, accept that it has been a necessary move on my part. Sacrifices made for the greater good, blah-blah-blah.
I’m telling you all this because, as of today, I will no longer be enjoying the fruits of steady employment. This isn’t due to some performance issue or any fault of my own — I worked for a software startup, there was a company realignment, and my job didn’t make the cut. Easy as that.
If this had happened a year ago, my path would have been fairly clear: get a short-term job doing whatever I could, likely in retail, and attempt to find another position equivalent to the one I just lost. If we’re going to be honest with each other, this would have likely resulted in my returning to retail full-time, and working my way up the ladder again. I wouldn’t have been particularly thrilled by it, but at least it would be safe.
I’m over the allure of safety, though. Safety is what led me to spend nine years climbing the ladder in a retail chain to reach the auspices of middle management. Safety is what helped me take that job I wasn’t particularly fond of and launch from that into a career in IT, a field in which I am skilled but have very little passion for on a day-to-day basis. These jobs helped me realize a lot of things about myself, but the biggest takeaway was that they’re not really jobs for me.
So what am I going to do now? Work for myself. I’m not sure doing what yet — I have a fairly wide range of skills that aren’t linked together in any sort of obvious way, so it’s going to be an interesting time figuring that out — but it’s about time I gave it a shot. And while I may usually roll my eyes at people who say inane things like “everything happens for a reason”, there’s too much that has lined up too perfectly for me not to try — frankly, the situation I find myself in today is not likely one I will be in again, so I need to get while the getting is good.
When I first relaunched this site, I spoke about how I was a big fan of clean slates — indeed, the first thing I did was get rid of everything I had previously written in order to save myself from comparisons to how well-written everything I had done earlier was. I’ve since re-read those earlier things and, while I admire the energy and conviction of the person who wrote them, the writing itself was actually pretty embarrassing.
That realization has moved me past the love of a clean slate and into the idea of reinvention… I’ve come to realize that I don’t need a superhero franchise style reboot to improve my situation. I had a great origin story (like Iron Man) that launched into a less-than-stellar sequel (like Iron Man 2). If I can recapture the energy and passion of the first chapter while remembering the lessons learned from the second, I might be able to kick off a third part that is far better than what came before it (like The Avengers).
With that said, I’d like to welcome you to a period I’m humbly titling ‘Awesome 3.0′. It’ll be weird and occasionally uncomfortable, but, as far as I’m concerned, that’s how all good adventures should be, right? So let’s get this nonsense started!
Everything about this is wonderful.
I couldn’t give less of a crap about wrestling, but I would watch the hell out of this.
I… I don’t think that’s the video that’s supposed to be there.
It was announced yesterday that the next installment in the Star Wars saga will be titled The Force Awakens, which is only slightly better than the title I had proposed.
You can make your own Star Wars title placard here, too, if, like me, you have nothing better to do.
Almost 2 minutes of Skeletor from Masters of the Universe insulting people. This is relevant to every interest I have.