New Job! New Home! 21st! Christmas!

Hey Everyone,

I think it’s about time for a life update.

  1. IMG_4257Back in May, I joined the incredible team at Buckley & Buckley Real Estate on Bainbridge Island! Sadly, that means my time in South Kitsap is extremely limited. If you want to get together, shoot me a text, an e-mail, or call me.
    My coworkers are awesome (s/o to Susan, Jennifer, Carrie, Olga, Kimberly, and Coreen!), and my bosses sometimes bring in their whippets, which is pretty much the best thing.
  2. I’ve moved! I’m now officially a Bainbridge Island resident… for better or for worse.
    Pros: 
    – I can walk to work.
    – I can walk to the grocery store.
    – I get to see my boyfriend every day instead of a few hours a week.
    – Before Christmas, I could hear the Parade of Boats from my patio!
    – I have a gorgeous view.
    – Seattle is nearby!
    – There are great restaurants everywhere.Cons:
    – Everything is expensive.
    – Everything not expensive is far away.
    – I’m still at sea level– no snow! 😦
    – All my friends are an hour away.
    – There are no Twenty-Somethings on this island like me.

3. In October, I got to enjoy the Washington Policy Center’s Annual Young Professional’s dinner. we heard from New Mexico’s governor Susanna Martinez, whose story is as genuine as her immigration ideas are ludicrous. A Young Professional in attendance made the tragic mistake of asking the border-state governor what she, as a hispanic American woman, thinks we should do about immigration. Part of her answer, suggesting we dramatically lessen the time it takes to become a legal citizen, struck me as a quality idea, but Governor Martinez continued to ramble in circles for the next ten minutes.

4. I turned 21, and had my own birthday party! With my own cake! I ordered a chocolate cake with raspberry filling from the local grocery store, and picked it up after work. I arrived at the Alehouse to streamers, balloons, pizza, and cheesy bread. Friends brought gifts, and everyone had a fantastic time, including me. I couldn’t have been happier; it was a magical night.

4. Christmas was wonderful. For the first time ever, I spent Christmas with my boyfriend’s family. I attended a candlelight service at his childhood Episcopal Church (St. Antony’s in Silverdale), where his brother and brother’s girlfriend performed, then spent Christmas Day with his entire family. I’m incredibly grateful to his family for treating me as one of their own.

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Rebutting Puff Po: 2nd Amendment

A few days ago, I came across this Puffington Post article by Samantha Rosen, which presents a tired liberal fantasy: That the 2nd Amendment protects only a military right to keep and bear arms, not an individual right.

To defend her claim, she purports that,

Nowhere in the text, however, is it stated that an individual right to keep and bear arms is preserved. More overtly, the text refers to the collection of people who would make up a militia if the federal government were to abuse its power.

Earlier in the same editorial, she acknowledges that,

The ultimate check on a tyrannical government, the Framers of the Constitution believed, was an armed population.

If the Framers believed an armed population was the ultimate check on a tyrannical government, and, as she acknowledges, that was really the motivation for the 2nd Amendment, then who are the people that would “make up a militia if the federal government were to abuse its power?”

Samantha never clarifies, because she knows that militias, in the context of Revolutionary America, were made up of individuals that owned muskets and volunteered to defend their country at a literal minute’s notice.

The “militia” is every and any citizen of the United States.

 

My Independence Journey: 1

This will be a multi-part series about my departure from a stressed out and hyper-controlled child to a cheerful, independent adult.

This series is purely cathartic. I wrote it (thirteen single-spaced pages) a little over a year ago, both as a reflection on my journey to that point and to prevent future gaslighting, lest I soften the horror my parents home inflicted on me as years pass.

Without further ado… the beginning of my story.

Beginning around 11, I realized something was wrong with my family. I didn’t think we were abnormal, I just thought everyone had screwed up families behind the scenes. I wrote a letter to my parents (unfortunately, I don’t have any idea where it is now) that was fraught with Biblical references. I spent over an hour writing and sourcing it, and slipped it under my door after I went to bed, fighting sleep long enough to hear them briefly mention it as, “Some letter she wrote us… it’s long.”

I hoped the letter would open the door for an honest discussion so that my concerns would be alleviated or addressed. However, the next morning, letter was ignored with exception of Mom hugging me, saying I’d understand everything when I grew up.

Fast forward: At 14, I ran the household while my parents worked to get their new business off the ground. My brothers and I were homeschooled, but my brothers were 10 and 12 at the time, so Mom prepped their work, and left a list of chores assigned to each of us. It was my job to wake them up, make breakfast, do all the dishes, make sure both of them satisfactorily completed their chores and school, and complete my own chores and school. When Christian and Joseph didn’t obey (a frequent occurrence, since I had no method of enforcement or discipline), my parents punished me for “allowing” my brothers to play before they’d completed their work instead of disciplining Christian and Joseph when their things weren’t done.

I quickly discovered that seeing through each task on my list was impossible. When I properly oversaw my brothers, ensuring their work was completed accurately, I didn’t have time for my tasks, leading to punishment. I complained that I could not be teacher, mother, student, and maid, but nothing changed. I circumvented discipline for everyone by sending my brothers outside (this happened during summer, when they wanted to play with friends anyway) and doing ALL the housework myself, then doing my schoolwork without anyone disturbing me. Then I’d record myself calling them to remind them about school (they liked to lie and tell my parents I never reminded them, which meant I got grounded instead of them) and go horseback riding before coming back to make dinner.

This fixed my problem, transferring discipline for incomplete school to the correct individuals, but my middle brother usually took the brunt of my parents’ wrath (regardless of whether it was deserved), and was often drug out of his bed and spanked to a point that as an adult, I refer to as physical abuse. His “spankings” were frequently issued in anger, and lasted until my parents’ anger was exhausted. Even at his age, spankings on his bare skin with a belt were frequent, and if he didn’t roll over or get up quickly enough, he was often slapped across the face by Mom, or hit with the belt across the front– anywhere it happened to land. The belt was usually not aimed.

My youngest brother was also spanked, but by the time my parents got to him, they’d usually expended their wrath on my middle brother. Consequently, Joseph’s spankings were usually aimed, limited in nature, and much more like actual discipline for not completing his schoolwork.

Mom and Dad had difficulty working together, so Dad asked her to stay home with us again that fall. She did, but became as disruptive as my brothers had been to my ability to complete schoolwork. She frequently became angry over tiny perceived slights by my brothers and yelled at them. My youngest brother became very good at pointing his finger at my middle brother to remove the target from his own back. My middle brother, who is likely ADHD but was never formally diagnosed or medicated, had a difficult time focusing, and was thus never on task during my mother’s rants, making him an easy scapegoat.

Meanwhile, I’d become more serious about my Christian walk, and the more time I spent in the Bible, and the more I talked with my friends about their families, I realized that what I was witnessing was:
     1. Abnormal among my peers at church and our neighbors’ families.
     2. Out of line with what I read and had memorized in Scripture about how parents are supposed to treat their children.

Specifically, I realized that the things I’d identified as being wrong at 11 were still wrong, but beyond that, I now knew WHY and how they were wrong.

For example, Mom had a list of house rules she’d written up with Bible references next to them. I concurred with the list, but Mom made herself an exception to them, and I realized that wasn’t how Biblical instruction was supposed to work.

“No name-calling,” because the Bible says “Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth…” (Ephesians 4:29) didn’t mean that she could call us stupid, bitches, or idiots, call my middle brother the devil, belittle us, and tell us we were horrible, but that we couldn’t do the same to each other. It meant that none of us should be doing that.

“Don’t raise your voice in anger” didn’t mean that she could scream at us 24/7, and we had to remain quiet, meek, and apologetic for everything she accused us of doing. It meant that she was as wrong to scream at us as we were to yell back at her.

By the end of the year, I’d had enough of it. I tried talking to my dad, but when he got home from work, he was always exhausted. He wanted to sit down, crack a beer, and unwind in front of the TV for an hour or two before bed. After the first couple of times we complained, Dad instituted a rule that Mom couldn’t spank us– he would issue spankings when he got home. Subsequently, Mom did two things:

     1. Refused to issue any discipline except yelling (not even grounding, time outs, or temporarily removing whatever was causing the argument).

     2. Complained when Dad got home that we never listened to her and didn’t respect her.

For the first couple months, she expected Dad to dole out punishments when he got home. At first, this was a good system, because my dad evaluated both sides of the complaint before issuing judgement and subsequent punishment. During this period, life was good, and punishments were accepted without complaint, even when disagreed with, because we’d at least been given a hearing, and he’d thought about it. Spankings were legitimate, normal, healthy spankings, and became more sparse, replaced with groundings or privileges being removed.

Unfortunately, within three months of this system, Mom would be so irate when Dad came home that he just stopped listening to both sides, or even completely listening to what Mom had to say. He’d come home, ask her who needed to be punished, and would promptly decide on punishments. He usually didn’t even want to hear what he was issuing punishments for, because that would have meant discussion and arguing. Sometimes, after he took us into the bedroom and got the belt, he’d have quiet conversations with us, and after getting the full story, would hit the bed instead of us. Those were few and far between, but those were good nights.

Then it got worse. He and Mom had marriage problems, and Mom accused him of not supporting her parenting.

From my point of view, this is led to a turning point: Dad changed from fighting for us and making an effort to do the right thing, to simply enabling Mom’s insanity.

I don’t blame him for it– your wife threatens to leave you unless you “support” her, but supporting her means hurting your kids. It puts you between a rock and a hard place. While I don’t think he made the right decision, I understand why he made it. If you don’t listen to your kids, or work too much to be home, it’s easy to pretend they really deserve the punishment being meted out.

End of Part 1. To be continued….

When I Say “My Parents Are Crazy…”

Please hear me out.

I get it. I’m 20, live on my own, have a budget, and don’t talk about my parents.

When you ask me about them, and I respond with a laugh, “my parents are crazy,” I’m not trying to evade the question. I’m not trying to slander my parents, and I’m definitely not trying to create the impression of being a naive young woman making immature mistakes because I’m too unreasonable to honor simple requests.

To you, dear friend of my hairstylist, who insisted, “I get it; I moved out at 17 and it was awesome! I could do whatever I wanted! But if I could go back, I’d have lived with my parents at 20– life would have been so much easier.”

Let me share something with you. Moving out was awesome. Not because I could do whatever I wanted, but because I could do household chores when I had time for them, not the second my mom insisted I do them. Because when I forgot to fold laundry, no one accused me not being a Christian. Because when I accidentally broke a glass, no one screamed at me for being “disrespectful” of them, or accused me of being negligent and not paying close enough attention to my chores.

Maybe you were a rebellious young woman, who wanted to cut class and do drugs; I don’t know you.

I moved out because my coping mechanisms for surviving at home interfered with my work abilities. I used to be extremely observant. I’m not any more, because I trained myself to not see or hear things unless I’ve been instructed to hear them or see them. I left home when I stopped hearing my coworkers next to me in the car. When sleeping in my car outside the office was safer than sleeping in my bedroom. I left because sabotage is not okay. Because I know my own goals, hopes, and dreams better than anyone else (including my parents). I left because I plan to accomplish great things with my life, and I didn’t have time to be committed to running a family of five and chasing my future.

Maybe you had a stable family. When you moved out, was your only worry surviving?

When I left my parents’ house, I worried they would steal my things, and kept my most expensive and necessary possessions with me at all times. When I left, I was afraid for my brothers. I found people for them to check in with, whom they could trust with their lives if needed. I made sure they knew that if their home life became perilous, my brothers were welcome to crash with me.

Did you ever find your mom passed out drunk on the floor, claiming she was trying to commit suicide? My then 13 year old brother did.

When you told your parents you were moving out, was it in the heat of an argument, or just after an argument? Did you seek anyone’s advice first?

I sought out my parents’ friends. I sought out our family counselor. I sought out adults that I trusted at church. Then I went home and broke the news to my parents as kindly and gently as I could.

Did you tell your mom you loved her before you announced you were leaving?

I went so far out of my way to specify that I was not leaving because I hated her, and that I loved her dearly, and loved my dad dearly, but needed the space to pursue my future. I explained that I had reached a crossroads in my life, and I could no longer simultaneously fulfill my parents’ daily requests of me AND pursue my future. I explained that it was time for me to choose, and I had chosen my future.

After you moved out, did your mom try to arrange your failure? Did your dad try to cut your work hours and your pay?  Mine did.

As a kid, was it your responsibility to ensure your siblings followed instructions while your parents were gone? And if they didn’t, did your parents scream at you and beat your siblings until their anger was abated?

When you were a kid, did your parents believe you when you said you were injured?
Mine left me with a fractured ankle for three days at the beginning on 6th grade, because they thought I was exaggerating how badly it hurt.

Did they take you to the doctor when you were sick?
Mine refused to take my then 17 year old brother to the doctor when he was coughing up blood, when they thought he’d punctured a lung, because my dad punctured a lung, and “all” the doctors did was give him Tylenol3 and an inhaler, with instructions to come back in a few weeks for a check-up.

Did they let you skip school when you had the flu?
I was homeschooled. If I was able to do anything more than swallow medication and use the bathroom (including using my laptop from bed), I was expected to complete school work. If I did’t have a fever and wasn’t puking, I wasn’t sick enough to get out of anything,

When I chuckle, “my parents are kinda crazy,” I’m not exaggerating or blowing you off. I’m trying to not denigrate them more than necessary. It’s easier to call them crazy than abusive, because I still love them and care about them. As a rule, I don’t associate with abusers, but I do sometimes associate with crazy people, so long as I’ve identified and filtered them in my mind.

Next time I answer your question with, “my parents are crazy,” please humor me. I don’t need you to ask questions, I just want to be believed.

Political Action Committees are Necessary

Today, a friend shared the following video:

I crafted a ridiculously long comment about 45 seconds in, then watched the rest of it and opened the affiliated website to learn more about the proposed “Act,”and promptly decided the idea merited its own blog post.

1. At approximately 45 seconds in, the video makes a dangerous assertion about what an “ideal Republic” would look like.

“Ideal Republic:” Chances of a bill passing Congress compared to percentage of support that bill has among the American people.

This is not an ideal Republic. In fact, this graph does not depict a Republic at all. This is a graph of ideal Direct Democracy. That is, if 51% of the people are for it, Congress would pass the law, even if the other 49% think it’s a terrible, no good, very bad idea.

In an ideal republic, representatives vote not based on what people want, but on what is best for the country, regardless of whether it is popular. In an ideal democracy, representatives vote perfectly based on what people want.

Originally (prior to the 17th Amendment), the United States was a split Republic, or a Democratic Republic, or a Republic with Democratic leanings. “We the People” elected representatives, and they were accountable directly to We the People, but representatives elected United States Senators, who answered back to the Representatives, not We the People.

The Founding Fathers intentionally avoided “ideal democracy,” because in an “ideal” democracy, the 51% rules the 49%. Our founding fathers wanted minority groups to have a voice, and they wanted US Senators to be elected by other representatives specifically because the 51% might revolt and vote out the representatives closest to them for making a decision that gave long-term stability for the country, even if it was unpopular at the moment. Senators were a check to the power of “We the People.” Senators chosen this way were still subject to term limits, but on a six year cycle instead of a two year cycle, so that by the time representatives needed to choose a new Senator, We the People would have had three elections to decide whether or not the law in question was actually worth a full changing of the guard.

2.  Each video I’ve seen that gripes about the influence of money in politics neglects some extremely important details.

  • Economy of Scale
  • The Role of the Individual in Special Interests

Economy of Scale
In Washington’s 6th Congressional District, 233,582 people cast ballots in the 2014 election. That’s not counting registered voters (there are over 400,000 of those in the 6th CD), which means my US Representative, Derek Kilmer, has 233,582 constituents that care about what he does. Of those, 83,025 voted for Marty McClendon. Marty was an exceptionally conservative candidate, so it’s fairly safe to presume those 83,000 people are always going to dislike Congressman Kilmer. Theoretically, he’s still supposed to represent them, but winning votes is important, so Congressmen don’t typically waste time with voters that refuse  to vote for them “on principle.” Simple math leaves us with 150,582 voters that are generally congenial to Congressman Kilmer.

Wikipedia says each US Representative can hire a maximum of 18 full time staff and 4 part-time staff. Their data is from 2000, and the footnoted link is broken, so I couldn’t independently verify it, but for now, I’m going to make my calculations with it anyway. If there are 22 staff people, in order to hear from everyone that voted for Congressman Kilmer, each staff person is responsible for meeting with approximately 6,844 constituents. Each staff person would need to meet with 570 constituents a month, or around 19 constituents a day, if they took no days off throughout the entire year.

The above calculations should make it clear that there is not enough time in the day for each Congressman/woman and their staff (assuming they have the maximum number of 22, and assuming Wikipedia’s numbers are accurate) to meet with all constituents that have an interest in Derek Kilmer’s decisions and do anything else. This leads to my next point:

There are 150,000 constituents that think their ideals and requests are the most important. It doesn’t matter how many bills are passed, you will have to do something to stand out from the crowd and convince your representative that your ideas are most vital. As an individual, your voice will not matter unless you are independently wealthy or are a personal friend of said representative. It never, ever, ever, will unless the United States shrinks enormously in population. You probably don’t have time to lobby the government to let you do what you want. Neither do the majority of other people, so their individual voices get muted.

The Role of the Individual in Special Interests
Forgotten in this video, and in many others, is the reality: You are a special interest. Not you, individually, but your ideas, goals, and values are all represented by different PACs.

Do you like dogs? There’s a PAC for that.

Do you think Washington should secede from the United States, along with OR and part of ID and become “United Cascadia?” There’s a PAC for that (even though they don’t believe they need permission to do it, they’ll still take your money).

Are you a socialist who doesn’t think anyone should have more than a defined amount of wealth? There’s a PAC for that.

Are you a corn farmer? Do you raise goats? Are you a biologist? Do you breed reptiles? There is a PAC for each of those causes. When you don’t have the time or the ability to influence the government, because you’re too busy feeding your family, pay a PAC. The PAC hires people whose entire job is to badger individuals in the government to listen. That PAC has money from many people that think the same way you do, which buys other peoples’ time and energy.

And herein lies the rub. But Elizabeth, you might say, our elected officials are working for the people. we shouldn’t have to pay for their time and energy! So then I ask you, if you want someone not already independently wealthy and connected to represent you, how do you suggest that person feed their family? If you and 150,000 other people are vying for their time and energy, of which there is a limited quantity and duration, how do you suggest they choose a cause?

By importance, you say!
Okay. So Joe Snow is your state representative. You represent one cattle rancher in the Cascades, and you need changes made to the Interstate so that you can ship your cattle to market more effieciently.

Joe Snow doesn’t know you, nor does he know any other cattle ranchers, and he doesn’t know anything about cattle ranching, so he assumes it’s a minor problem, hears you out, but doesn’t pursue it. After all, getting something special like that for one person in the Transportation budget is a heck of a job. Instead, he prioritizes reworking an intersection in a city where a young man was killed. That city is in his district, has ten thousand people in it, and three thousand of them have contacted his office to beg for a change. When the intersection change is made, he talks about saving lives in his re-election campaign.

You recognize that what he did for the city is a vital endeavor, but hey! You and your cattle ranching friends still need your highway fixed. You go to the butcher, the grocery stores that purchase your meat, and other cattle ranchers that would benefit from your proposed change. You and the other cattle ranchers explain that you provide 70% of the beef supplied by local grocery stores, and together employ several hundred people in the district. You tell the representative, hey, SNAP recipients across the state won’t be able to afford ground beef if he doesn’t do something to help you.

Now, he sees that your complaint is actually affecting several thousand people. You formed a PAC, and now you have influence. Thus we see that the individual’s role is to find other people with the same special interest and in doing so, become a PAC capable of wielding political influence.

Maybe in my next blog post, I’ll actually explain why the Anti-Corruption Act is a bad idea… I didn’t get there in this one, clearly.

New Blog!

So I decided to finally get serious about starting at least a basic blog. I’ve wanted to do something like this for a while now; a place where I can share my passion for photography, and the jobs that I shoot, but a place where I can also be myself… kind of a journal for my thoughts.

Sateen

Sateen, my kitty.

I’m not usually brave enough to share my ideas and opinions with the world, but I decided it’s about time to begin. This blog will cover many topics. Though I’ll try to stay away from sharing about work too frequently, sometimes work is my life. You’ve been warned. 😛

This blog will meander across a spectrum of issues: I can tell you upfront that I’ll be discussing photography techniques and goals, personal photography experiments, adorable cat photos… (See, it’s started already!), perhaps an excursion or two with my boyfriend _MG_0230(who doesn’t get many days off, but likes to sweep me off to beautiful places as frequently as he is able), politics (I’m a PCO. Get over it.), and religion (#CRCC FTW!) and that’s just for starters. Over the summer, I’ll probably begin blogging about exercise (love the Pacific Northwest in the summer!), and at some point, I’ll likely break down for a serious chat about my childhood (a.k.a. how Narcissistic Personality Disorder has affected my family), budgeting, and how independent living has transformed my life.

Additionally, some of my blog posts will be business oriented (I do work for the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce), so you might even anticipate reviews of local businesses and restaurants!

With that, my friends, I conclude my first blog.

Adieu!