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***Full disclosure: I am a PROUD Penn State alumna. If you have a problem with that: Go elsewhere. I will neither entertain nor post negative comments to this post. Normally I’d give constructive criticism a fair shake but for this? I’ve had enough criticism to last a lifetime. It would be unappreciated and unwelcome. For me a non-Penn Stater having an opinion on this matter is like a man having an opinion on abortion: he’s entitled to it but I don’t care what it is. He doesn’t know what that weight feels like and he never can. His opinion will always be biased. Is that extreme? Yes. I don’t care. This is my blog, hyperbolic as it may be.***

So, I’ve been toying with the idea of even doing this entry. I know it’s a hot-button issue and people have strong feelings about it, but why shouldn’t my strong feelings be aired out? A lot has gone on in these past however many months. I have a lot of anger on this subject. More than even Rampaige level. We’re talking Code Red, Stage Five Meltdown stuff. Take off my jewelry and pull my hair back rage.

To everyone lamenting about the victims: Nobody has forgotten about the victims. No, seriously. They’re the reason we’re all so upset. Do you know who’s NOT thinking about the victims? The people doling out the punishments and calling for heads on pikes. At least one victim has come forward through his lawyer and stated his displeasure at the way things have been handled. So “think” of the victims all you want, but you’re not asking them what they want.

Beyond that, the first and fucking obvious thing to say is this: Jerry Sandusky is a disgusting creature. Not even human. Honestly, pedophiles deserve the most awful, vile punishment we can legally give them. Solitary, latrine duty, maybe turning a blind eye in the shower or giving someone a sharpened toothbrush. All of it. I hate Jerry Sandusky and everything he did. Venomous hatred. To suggest that I (or any other PSU-affiliated person) am any less than repulsed by his actions is unfair and ignorant. If you think for a second that any one of us is even remotely okay with it—you can go fuck yourself. Seriously. Rusty pole self-fucking. You clearly lack basic logic and I have no time for you.

Second, to those of you calling for me to renounce everything Penn State: You also can go fuck yourselves. The actions of a few do not negate the positive things that literally hundreds of thousands of people have done. Period. There were multiple lapses in judgment and for that people suffered. I get that. But do you know what? For every Curley or Schultz there are thousands upon thousands of students, faculty, and alumni who had no god-damned clue what was going on. To hold all of us accountable for the actions of a half dozen people is ludicrous.

Third, many people want to see Penn State falter. We are “Success with Honor.” We graduate more student athletes than most schools. Everyone LOVES to see the mighty fall. And if they can contribute to that fall? Well, we were screwed from the beginning. People want to elevate themselves by putting us down. “See? They’re not so great. They’re all dirty perverts.” Really? All of us?

Fourth, and this is a controversial thing in and of itself: JoePa. I still love JoePa. I don’t care what other people think about him; I think we don’t know the whole story. And if I hear one more fucknut make a joke or comment about JoePa molesting children I’m going to lose my shit. SANDUSKY was the pedophile. Not JoePa. Read a god-damned news article, moron. Joe was old school. He didn’t put his business out there. He was an old man. He didn’t have the best memory. I don’t put 100% faith in his testimony because of his age. I’m sorry, I know that makes me ageist. People want to say that he had all this control and pull at the university but those people are forgetting that he had to beg for his job not too long ago. He was thisclose to being fired/forced into retirement when the football team wasn’t doing so well. Does that sound like someone who “owns” the university? Really? The man was a figurehead. Give me a break with the powertrip nonsense. What he did for the university is remarkable. He helped to raise MILLIONS of dollars for the school. Not for football, but for the school.

Speaking of academics: For every asshole who has said that Penn State put athletics (specifically football) above academics: Have a look at that article. Clearly academics are important at Penn State. To assert otherwise is ridiculous and unfounded. Joe wouldn’t let anyone play who was in trouble off the field. Period. You can’t tell me that puts football above other things. Poor grades, trouble with the law, etc. were not tolerated by JoePa. I’m legitimately saddened by the assertion that football trumped all else. That’s not the Penn State I know.

The football “coverup”: This is probably the hardest subject to tackle. My own personal opinion is that it was more of a boys’ club mentality than a “let’s protect the football program” mentality. Having known someone who protected a child molester (I’m not getting into it here, but I know a man who knew that his friend was molesting a child and he did nothing about it, saying it was “none of [his] business.”) Is it right? Fuck no. Does it happen? Unfortunately. Just because there was a cover-up doesn’t necessarily mean it was to protect the football program. Let’s not forget that prior to this Sandusky was looked upon as an upstanding member of the community. Perhaps his colleagues wanted to leave his reputation intact. We don’t know their motivations and it is 100% unfair to jump to the conclusion that it was about football.

The NCAA sanctions: I agree with one of the sanctions and that is the fine. Yes. Put that money toward programs for victims of sexual abuse. I think that’s wonderful and appropriate. Only good can come from this.

The removal of scholarships only hurts potential students. Again, we have a ridiculously high graduation rate of our athletes and to deny so many of them the opportunity for a free education is disgusting to me. Someone said to me, “So? They’ll just go somewhere else.” No, they won’t. There are literally fewer scholarships available in the whole pool. They weren’t distributed among other Big Ten schools. They were just taken away. So those are students who won’t get to go to a Big Ten school because they can’t afford it otherwise. If you think that somehow punishes the guilty parties, you’re delusional.

The negation of wins does nothing. Joe Paterno is dead. You think it’s hurting him to take away his wins? Because it’s not. Do you think it’s appropriate to take those wins away from the young men who earned them? Because it’s not. Also, the fact that the negation goes back to 1998 is fucking ridiculous. The 1998 case was investigated and dismissed. DISMISSSED by law enforcement. If anything, this punishment should only go back to 2001. Period. To suggest otherwise is to admit your bias and ignorance.

The denial of bowl games for four years. This, again, just punishes current students. Everyone who was responsible for this travesty has been fired or imprisoned (minus the BoT members, but I don’t know if they *can* be fired). So what? You cripple recruiting to punish… whom?

Not to mention all the other cover-up cases the NCAA should be dealing with now based on the precedent they set… I can’t help but notice we’re not hearing about Syracuse or Montana. Funny. I wonder if that has anything to do with people wanting to knock Penn State down a few pegs.

So yeah, I’m pissed off. I think people have made snap judgments that are incredibly insensitive and unfair. I think people are falling into a mob mentality that the entire Penn State community deserves to be crucified and made into an example. The vast majority of the Penn State community is appalled and saddened by what has happened. The vast majority of the Penn State community also had absolutely nothing to do with this scandal. To expect us to renounce our alma mater or to abandon something we love and believe in is unfair.

My only solace in this horrific story is my Penn State family. We have banded together and are leaning on each other in the wake of this horrendous situation. We all hate Sandusky and what he did. We’re all disappointed and pissed and saddened. But we’re also being persecuted for things we didn’t do and our only respite seems to be each other. It seems as though the rest of the world is against us and wants us to raze our community. But we won’t break down what everyone before us worked so hard to build up. The majority may be against us, but we will fight and persevere and get through it. Together.


***Full disclosure: I have half a dozen piercings. I started getting pierced when I was 18. That’s when I was legally allowed to do it on my own because my mom wouldn’t sign for me. Am I angry that I wasn’t given more body autonomy growing up? Not livid, but certainly annoyed. I probably wouldn’t have rushed to a piercer as soon as I got to college had I been granted more freedom a little earlier.***

Supposedly Willow Smith got her tongue pierced. (I saw the picture online and am not 100% convinced it’s real, but for the sake of argument let’s say it is real.) She’s eleven, and apparently it matters despite the fact that she and her parents are celebrities who clearly live on another plane than the rest of us. So… because everyone else is talking about it: Let’s get into it.

People have been railing on Will and Jada for just about everything with Willow. Letting her dress crazy. Letting her be a little pop-rock-hiphop princess. Letting her shave her head. Letting her paint her ear. Whatever. So many people have something to say about what they let Willow do. It seems to me that Willow has a strong personality and a deep knowledge of what she likes and what she wants. I actually think Will and Jada should be applauded for letting her safely and confidently express herself. Arbitrary restrictions on personal expression suffocate creativity, which in turn stifles personal growth.

There are so many fucked up parents in this world (celebrity and otherwise) that to see two people who actually want to raise an independent, self-assured child raises eyebrows. I think that’s part of what has people so up in arms. “WHAT?! They’re letting their pre-teen daughter make decisions for herself? Who DOES that?! That looks hard!” Many people nowadays are either lazy or they’re helicopter parents, with both methods producing barely functioning adults. These folks seem content with the lowest common denominator outcomes. Did your kid live to adulthood without going to prison? Congratulations; you succeeded at parenting. Will and Jada (and some marvelous people I know) aren’t content with that. They want to raise children to be thoughtful, witty, intelligent, creative, confident adults. A huge part of building confidence is actually allowing your child to make decisions for him/herself. Is it scary? Yes. Is it crucial to the development of a healthy self-image and a basic understanding of consequences? Absolutely. And it’s hard. You have to not only help your child learn how to gather all the information they need to make a good decision–you have to stand back and actually let them make the decision. Hold onto your butts!

I can think of a few reasons why folks are upset about this whole thing…

1) “She’s too young.” Many people say that a tongue piercing is sexual and that pisses me off to no end. A tongue piercing is not sexual. It’s just not. It’s no different than getting your bellybutton pierced and people don’t seem to have an issue with that, as I see it on myriad young girls. I got my tongue pierced because it won’t scar and it’s easy to hide. Period. Don’t make the presumption that you know the motivations of others. She’s not too young to know that she wants something and she’s not too young to be incapable of understanding the pros and cons of such a decision.

2) “It’s not safe.” Anyone who says this has never been inside a reputable tattoo/piercing studio. A good studio is clean and the staff knowledgeable. When you get a piercing the piercer explains to you what will happen and how to care for your piercing. Frequently they’ll even give you printed aftercare instructions and supplies for cleaning your piercing. I never felt unsafe or unclean in any of the studios where I’ve had work done. If she did actually get her tongue pierced, she would have required parental consent and that’s where mom and dad would have helped her select a reputable establishment. I have a very hard time believing Will and Jada would have taken their daughter to some sleazy amateur parlor to get pierced. Now if she had one of her friends do it or something equally stupid–that’s an entirely different story.

3) “It’s weird.” People are still pretty appalled by body modifications. Piercings and tattoos are still stigmatized in our society and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. So many people have them nowadays it seems like folks are wasting a lot of time and energy persecuting legions of everyday folks who choose to alter their appearances. I mean, we’re all entitled to our stigmas and -isms, but I don’t see why it’s illegal to discriminate someone based on weight or birthmarks but not on modifications. I choose to be the weight I am and have the moles I do every bit as much as I choose to be modded. Yet only one of these things is a legal reason to not hire me.

Am I saying everyone needs to let their kids do everything they want? Of course not. What I am saying is this: Here are two parents who know their child and who know what sort of adult they want their child to be. They are doing everything in their power to help her reach her potential. Maybe they want her to have as much body autonomy as she can safely have at her age. Maybe they want her to feel liberated by her self-expression. Maybe they just want her to be happy and didn’t see the point in denying her something for no good reason. And no, I don’t think that “because I said so” or “not in my house” are good reasons to deny such a simple request. If she researched it and saved her own money: Why not sign for her to do it? Who does it hurt if she gets her tongue pierced? Hell it won’t even leave a scar. She could have asked for far more than a piercing…

… which leads to the inevitable question I’m sure people would ask me: “Hey, Rampaige, so do you think kids should be allowed to get tattoos?” No. And it’s painfully simple why that’s my answer: Tattoos are permanent. Piercings are not. Sure, your piercing may leave a scar, but who doesn’t have scars? If a child knows they may have a scar later on–that’s something they’ll have to take into consideration. I mean, if I wanted to stop wearing earrings tomorrow I wouldn’t be mad at my six-year-old self for getting my ears pierced. (Yeah, wrap your brain around that: a kindergartner can decide to pierce her ears and nobody bats an eye… or worse: parents get their babies’s ears pierced without any consent at all.) A tattoo, however, is a much bigger and wholly permanent choice. A hole is small and inconspicuous, but a tattoo is larger and it’s a design dictated by your interests at the time you get it. Your interests change monumentally before and during puberty, which is why I wholeheartedly agree with the 18-year-old requirement for tats. Otherwise I’d be covered in Lisa Frank Orca tattoos.

Full disclosure: I hate Taylor Swift. If you like her and this is going to bother you: Stop reading. Seriously. It’s only going to upset you and I don’t want anybody getting defensive.

Every time Taylor Swift comes up in conversation I gnaw on my tongue until it bleeds. And then I have an outburst. Because I can’t contain my rage that someone like her is held up on a pedestal as a “good role model” for young girls. In what world is she a good role model? Let’s look at the facts for a second:

1) She’s in her twenties and she acts like she’s 14. This sort of immaturity is hardly something I’d want young girls emulating. Grow up and act your age. You don’t have to undergo a public sexual awakening á la Britney and Miley but for fuck’s sake: Act like the adult you are.

2) She’s overly modest/fake modest. Every time she wins an award it’s all “Ohmigosh! You want me to have this? Widdle old me? But I’m just a little girl who writes silly songs about boys. Tee hee. Golly, I’m so embarrassed! You want to give me this, the 357th award I’ve won in my life? Gee, that’s so super but I really can’t believe you even like me.” Jesus, get over it. You’re an artist (according to other people, anyway) and artists win awards. Some people (who are not me) like you and want to let you know that by praising you in the form of a small statue. Say thank you and get off the stage.

3) She’s naïve. I mean, no, I don’t know her personally so it’s probably unfair to say this. But from interviews and award ceremonies she just seems so doe-eyed and clueless about everything. I’m sure people like her because she’s so “pure” and “innocent” but I view that as straight naiveté. You need some realism in your life. You don’t have to be cynical or negative but please pull your head out of the clouds now and again to have a look at where your feet are… where they actually are and not the glittery rainbow you think they’re on. I don’t like that this sort of blind, clueless optimism is viewed as “goodness” by so many people.

4) She writes dreadful songs. This is probably less solid reasoning than anything I’ve presented thus far, but to be fair: This is a list of why *I* hate Tay-Tay. It doesn’t have to be objective. She’s typically boo-hooing over some boy who broke her heart, how she didn’t fit in in high school, kids who were mean to her in high school, or some hopeless romantic garbage that’s been spoon-fed to all of us since our Disney Princess-watching days.  The word “trite” comes to mind.

So there you have it. Whenever anyone starts to get all rubbery about her I lose my shit; I think she’s a terrible role model for young girls. I don’t think girls should be encouraged to be immature, naïve, and banal. I don’t think they should be pushed toward being “good” because I believe it will ultimately repress all the things that would make them fun and interesting. Look at Taylor. I mean really look at her. Would she be interesting to talk to? I think she’d giggle with her hands over her mouth and talk about boys the whole God damned time. Would she be fun to hang out with? I think she’d probably want to make popcorn and watch The Notebook and go to bed at 11 after drinking warm milk.

I guess most folks are content to wish boring safety on the little girls in their lives. That they do well in school, get married, have babies, and live happily ever after behind a white picket fence. But there’s so much more out there! For all the little girls in my life, present and future, I want them to know they can be themselves regardless of whether or not people think they’re “good.” I want girls to have role models who are feisty and independent and funny and smart and honest and true to themselves. Not just “nice” and “good.”

I just finished reading an awful, condescending piece on the Huffington Post. It’s called “9 Ways Twentysomethings Screw Up Their Lives” by Meg Jay. (I don’t know the rules about linking so I’m just not going to link to it. You can Google it if you’re so inclined.) In it, she details the nine things she—in her infinite, aged wisdom—thinks people my age are doing wrong. This woman can really just fuck right off with her nonsense. Instead of trying to recap it for you, I’m going to go shot for shot with it because I legitimately disagree with every single point she makes.

These are the “mistakes” we’re all apparently making (and what this twentysomething thinks Ms. Jay should take into consideration):

1. “Spending all your time with your urban tribe—you’re not at Burning Man!” First of all: Burning Man? Am I a middle-aged gay man and/or hippie? I think not. Ms. Jay, you are clearly out of touch with my generation. Straight out of the gate Burning Man is what you’re coming at us with? Second, I like my friends. Why would I hang out with my “aunt’s neighbor” or “a friend of a friend from college” when they’ll probably suck? My friends are awesome and any time I spend taking a chance on a rando is time away from what is a guaranteed good time with my friends. Would I invite said randos to a party? Sure. Maybe they don’t suck. But I’m not blowing an afternoon babysitting someone’s socially inept friend/relative who needs to be set up on a playdate.

2. “Hoping that Powerball ticket will make your dreams come true.” Really? You think this is what we do? Did I buy tickets when the jackpot was the biggest it’s ever been? You’re damn right I did. Do you know why? It’s not because I thought I’d win (I may suck at math, but I do understand the basics of statistics and probabilities); it’s because a dollar was a small price to pay for a little bit of daydreaming.

3. “Stalking on Facebook (and then sulking at home).” I don’t think we stalk Facebook as much as you’re alleging. I mean, yeah we all do it occasionally but I don’t think it’s as prevalent as you claim. I also don’t know anyone who “sulks at home” after reading Facebook. This is another situation where I think people who haven’t had Facebook as long as us loathsome twentysomethings (read: older folks) should shut the fuck up about how we use Facebook. We were here first; we know what we’re doing. And if I do want to stalk on Facebook and sulk—I think it’s a gross overstatement to say it’s causing me to screw up a decade of my life.

4. “Dating losers.” I don’t disagree with the fact that people should *try* not to date losers, but we all do it. It happens. How are we supposed to learn what we want in a mate without trying out a variety of potential mates? I’ve dated a lot of losers and I don’t regret a single one of them because I learned invaluable lessons from each one of them. Date losers—just make sure you learn from them.

5. “Being ‘too cool’ for a desk job.” Uh, some people don’t want to rot at a desk for 40 hours a week. That’s okay. There’s no rule anywhere that says a person has to get an office job to be happy or successful. There’s nothing about being “too cool” here. It’s simply not something that appeals to everyone, regardless of their age. Money and socially acceptable career paths are not the be all and end all to adult life.

6. “Spending too much time with your Playstation.” Why not? According to you, Ms. Jay, the rest of our adult lives are meant to be full of office work and general drudgery. Why the hell not play some video games? You quip that we should “pick up a book” instead. Beg pardon? I read plenty, thank you. I also play the Sims. I’m no worse off for enjoying games.

7. “Shacking up too early.” Oh HELL NO. You’re trying to say that people who live together first divorce earlier/more frequently but you don’t bother to cite any studies. I feel like I’ve read the opposite—that we’re actually better equipped to navigate the seas of marriage because we have experience living/dealing with our partners. Some people have said that any increase in divorce is likely due to the fact that folks who live together first are more liberal and liberals are generally more amenable to the idea of divorce… versus their conservative counterparts who are more willing to stay in a miserable marriage because they’re so staunchly opposed to divorce. For me living together (for four years—the horror!) was nothing but beneficial. I can’t tell you how many things we hammered out before getting married. It’s glorious and I don’t understand anyone who doesn’t do it. I’ve had people who didn’t live together first tell me how much they wish they had.

8. “Acting like you’re on a reality tv show.” Apparently we’re too melodramatic for you. I’d say this little ditty I’m writing is proof that we are melodramatic, but you backed me into this corner. This column has driven me to melodramatic snark. I hope you’re happy.

9. “Ignoring your ovaries.” There it is. There’s that pervasive pronatalist, heteronormative bullshit I was waiting for. You say don’t rush into living together, but have a baby NOW NOW NOW! What the fuck? According to you twentysomething women (I noticed you didn’t call out the men here—just the women) should “listen to” our ovaries even though you have already established that: we aren’t working the right jobs; we’re not using Facebook correctly; we’re not socializing with the right people; we’re playing too many video games and so forth. But we’re totally ready for babies. And you don’t even TOUCH on those of us whose ovaries are screaming “NO, GOD NO!” at us. Clearly all women want babies and should have them before their ovaries shrivel up and turn to dust at 30.

To summarize: Our twenties are not for fun. We are to quit dicking around, get a job, date only prince charmings, get married (so we can live with our partners with everyone’s approval), and breed like Duggars. Stop having fun. Seriously. It’s time to grow up and be miserable just like Ms. Jay. I mean, why should we wait until our thirties to hate our lives when we can start now?

Oooooookay children, gather ‘round Mama Rampaige…

Once upon a time in 2004 a little social network (now called Facebook) opened itself to a bunch of university students. Those of us who were in school at the time heard about it and signed up and we all lived quite happily posting about drunken debauchery and study groups and hookups and classes. We remember when your status had to include “is.” As in “Jane Doe is excited for the weekend” because otherwise it would show up as “Jane Doe is I’m excited for the weekend.” We were around before notes and games and banner ads and fan pages. We loved it when it was “the Facebook” even though we could do very, very little with it by today’s standards. We thought it was awesome.

And it WAS awesome… until Facebook was opened up to the unwashed masses. That’s when shit hit the fan. Anyone 13 or older could have an account. Fake accounts popped up left and right. Games came out of nowhere and clogged up our newsfeeds. Our parents and grandparents and coworkers started friending us. We stopped being able to liberally post whatever we’d like and started having to censor ourselves for delicate eyes and ears.

We all knew it was too good to be ours forever, but the opening of Facebook to the general public was still brutal. My worst nightmares came true the day my father-in-law joined Facebook. I dealt with everyone prior to that with as much grace as I could muster but my father-in-law ushered in a new era of awfulness where Facebook is concerned. Firstly it opened the floodgates for all of my other in-laws and their weirdo friends to send me friend requests—all of which I had to accept because they’d take it personally if I declined. Secondly my husband began to monitor the “appropriateness” of my posts thanks to my unwillingly befriending his entire family and their circle of friends. So I had to (and still have to) endure constant scrutiny over everything I post. Hell it’s part of the reason why I started this blog: I needed an outlet where I could speak my mind since my Facebook platform was taken away.

By far the worst thing about having my father-in-law and his cohorts in my newsfeed is the constant bitching and moaning about EVERYTHING Facebook. They whine that they don’t know how to do what they want. They whine that they don’t like seeing game invitations from their friends. They whine that Facebook changes things too often. At one point my father-in-law claimed he was leaving Facebook (for Google Plus, which is fucking hilarious) because they kept “fixing things that weren’t broken.” Give me a break.

Recently Facebook updated to the new timeline format and my father-in-law and his knitting circle lost their damn minds. I read through a dozen or so statuses and comments about how “young people don’t know what they’re doing” and “nobody listens to what people want” and so on and so forth. I bit my digital tongue so hard I had blood in my mouth.

First of all: Fuck EVERYONE who says “young people are messing up Facebook.” We were the ones who were here from the beginning. You old farts have no idea what Facebook used to be like or how drastically it changed in those first two years. If anyone doesn’t “get it” it’s you, not us. I’ve had a few 50+ year olds try to tell me that I’m using Facebook wrong. Excuse me? I’ve been on Facebook longer than you. Shut it.

Second: Facebook is free. Don’t bitch about shit that’s free. Nobody feels bad for you. Seriously. People who provide a free service to you DON’T OWE YOU ANYTHING. You don’t like timeline? Tough shit. It’s free. Nobody cares what you think about the free service you’re taking advantage of.

Third: You’re not chained to Facebook. You don’t have to put up with anything you disagree with. You can leave at any point. Hate the timeline? Fucking delete your account. It’s not rocket science. The problem is: Most folks are so dependent on Facebook now that they never follow through with their empty threats and instead continue to clog up everyone’s newsfeed with complaints about a free service that they weren’t even aware of until a few years ago.

It has come to my attention that I’ve been living in the glorious delusion that everyone understands mental illness—its causes, symptoms, repercussions, etc. I guess I’ve assumed that its prevalence in society meant that everyone knows someone with a mental illness and they’ve taken the time to talk to said afflicted people and maybe even done some research to further their understanding.

I don’t say this often: I was wrong.

People are shockingly ignorant when it comes to mental illness. I’ve talked to many people who fancy themselves experts on the “bullshit excuses” used by folks suffering from various afflictions. These people obviously don’t know that I suffer from a few myself and I generally avoid throwing myself on that sword. I just quietly let them continue their diatribe until they find something less offensive to talk about.

It’s not only that people are misinformed (and oblivious to their misinformation); it’s that they legitimately can’t wrap their brains around it. I can’t blame them for that aspect of it. It’s exceedingly difficult to explain to someone what it feels like to have depression or bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder or schizophrenia or attention deficit disorder. They’re difficult concepts to grasp when you’ve never experienced them yourself or seen them wreak havoc on a friend or relative.

I accept that some people will never know what it feels like and I would never wish that on anyone. If you are blessed enough to have a properly functioning brain I’m quite happy for you. You’re lucky and you deserve to enjoy being normal. However, you need to be conscious of your words when talking about mental illness—especially when discussing it with someone who’s affected.

I’ve experienced all of the below ridiculousness and would like to help you avoid offending/hurting those close to you who are affected:

1) First and foremost it’s not bullshit. It’s a physical, chemical thing that is awry in my brain. It’s not a cry for attention or a reason to act like an asshole without consequences. Believe me when I tell you my actions have consequences, even when they’re actions I want no part of. The hell of being a rational person who is mostly functional is realizing the damage I do when I have an episode. My mental issues are certainly not an excuse to behave badly, but they are an explanation that I would hope could lead to some basic human compassion/understanding when I do act out.

2) Don’t ask if I’ve been diagnosed by a professional. I have. Treating me like I’m a hypochondriac who self-diagnosed on WebMD makes me feel like shit.

2a) Don’t second-guess my doctor’s diagnosis—I don’t. If you disagree (and don’t have a medical degree), you should just keep it to yourself. I have spent countless hours with a variety of doctors hammering out my diagnosis in order to tailor a treatment plan specific to my needs. I’ve been to multiple doctors and tried on different diagnoses until my (current) doctor and I found the right one.

3) Do not, under any circumstances, tell me to “shake it off,” “snap out of it,” or “get over it.” That. Does. Not. Help. As previously addressed, mental illness is a chemical thing. Parts of it are rooted in childhood trauma, abuse, and neglect. It’s very real and it’s something that requires intervention beyond “snapping out” of it.

3a) Don’t belittle me by offering advice like “take St. John’s Wort” or “get more exercise.” While those things are peachy for very mild depression, they aren’t going to mitigate larger issues. I’m not going to get into my specific afflictions, but I will tell you they cannot be cured by an herb and a jog.

3b) Don’t ask me if I’ve taken my meds (or tell me I need to up my dosage) when you don’t like something I have to say. I may have mental illnesses but I’m still allowed to have dissenting viewpoints and opinions. Don’t call me crazy in an attempt to silence me.

I get that people see me as a relatively functional person—and I am. Most of the time. I try very hard to behave like a normal person but it’s not something I can do 100 percent of the time. I have episodes and I have bad days and sometimes I have full-blown meltdowns. I appreciate that you want me to be normal and that to you, I seem mostly normal. And I thank you for that gracious view of me. But I have some things below the surface that I would like for you to not deny/ignore because they make you uncomfortable. I’m sorry that I have to be your crazy friend—but I am your crazy friend.

I struggle every day. I struggle to pull out the best version of myself that I can. I struggle to accept the way things are—to accept that I can’t spend my life wishing I were normal or being pissed off that other people get to be normal. I don’t always come out on top of those struggles. Sometimes what I put other people through breaks my fucking heart. I’ve ruined more friendships than I can count. I flounder in everyday social situations. I’m prone to bouts of paranoia. These are the crosses I bear.

At the end of the day I try to make the best of the less-than-ideal hand I’ve been dealt. I like to think that I win more hands than I lose, but my opinion is pretty subjective.

For as long as I’ve been drinking I’ve been drinking until I cry. I can’t really explain how or why it happens, but once every six months or so I drink to the point of complete emotional instability. I’m sure it says all kinds of things about my psychological well-being (or lack thereof) and my various mental afflictions. Whatever, that’s not why we’re here. If I had the vacation/sick time to go to therapy once a week—I would. That’s not an option for me if I want to remain employed full time so I get to just deal with my “quirks” (read: symptoms) on my own. Unfortunately for me that means it’s a total crap-shoot when I drink.

Most of the time I can handle myself and act like a normal person. I may get a little boisterous and a little inappropriate (I’m always loud so that doesn’t really need to be listed here) but I’m mostly under wraps.

If I continue to drink I get obnoxious. I’m handsy and super inappropriate. If I’m in this phase it’s only a matter of time before I progress to one of two stages (or both, if we’re all really lucky)…

Stage one: Balls-to-the-wall anger. Typically I’ll start picking up on what I think are subtle digs at me (hello, paranoia; welcome to the party) and stew for a little bit until someone says or does something that sets me off. And boom goes the dynamite. Then I storm off and pout until someone tracks me down and I either yell it out with whoever will listen or I progress to…

Stage two: Uncontrollable sobbing. We’re talking serious, level-five meltdown crying. It’s never about just one thing, either. Whoever the unfortunate soul is who tries to console me will suffer the onslaught of whatever verbal diarrhea spews forth from my mouth until they can’t deal with me anymore or I run out of things to say.

For your consideration: My bachelorette party was in Vegas (because my maid of honor was awesome) and I had an episode that weekend. I drank more than I ever have in my life because people want to buy drinks for the bride-to-be. So I put away more booze than ever and blacked out for a portion of the evening. During said blackout I am told I knocked a mirror off the wall and began to rifle through everyone’s suitcases before stumbling into the bathroom. This is where I start to remember what was going on… and it’s a mess.

Once in the bathroom I couldn’t find the light switch. I was *frantically* fondling the wall—just sliding my hand up and down the wall next to the doorframe with no success. I had to pee so badly that at one point I legitimately thought I had started to pee on the floor. Scared that I was having an accident and oddly obsessed with someone walking in on me, I held the door closed with one hand and hopped up on the sink… in the dark. Not long after I’d relieved myself there was a soft knock at the door. I opened it and one of the girls who was staying in my room was there, looking confused. Realizing I had just drunkenly peed in the sink I began to weep.

I sat on the edge of the bathtub, crying in embarrassment. The girl tried her best to console me and I actually requested to call my husband* before thinking better of it.

And that’s my most awesome example of drunk crying.

By now I realize I sound like a complete alcoholic to you but I swear—this is not my regular life. I’ve noticed it only happens when I’m in a large group of people. I can’t quite figure out what that says about me (it can’t be an attention thing because I always leave everyone so I can fume/cry by myself). Maybe I just get overwhelmed by all the people. I generally don’t do well in crowds sober so it would make sense that all those people would exacerbate whatever my issue is.

All of this has led me to an odd realization: When girls get really drunk they’re prone to crying and melodrama; when boys get really drunk they’re prone to violence and stupidity. Is one better than the other? I mean, would you rather endure emotional stress or physical damage? I guess it’s personal and it varies from person to person. But it’s something to consider when hosting a party.

* I have to say I’m blessed to have a husband who accepts my crazy and loves me anyway. He is more than willing to hug me until I stop crying and let me pour my drunk little heart out to him for as long as I need to. He’s a keeper.

The other day I was having a lunch discussion with my workladyfriends when the topic turned to women’s magazines. I pointed out that ladymags never have new or useful information in them (not a revolutionary observation, I know). It’s always weight-loss advice like “Eat less and exercise more!” and romance advice like “Give him the best blowjob of his life!”

Is this what we’ve been reduced to? Are these the things we’re interested in nowadays?

First of all, we all know how to lose weight: those of us who don’t lose the weight simply don’t abide by those two simple rules. (Hi, I’m Rampaige and I have no self-control. I could lose weight but I don’t want to put in the work.) Second, in reading a variety of sex articles I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve done or currently do nearly everything on those little tip sheets they’re always publishing. Which begs the question: Am I a slut or are the women who read ladymags just prudes? I mean, really, do regular women not do basic things like doggie style and morning sex? Is that a thing with some women? Things like that seem to make a regular appearance on many “hot sex tips” lists. I’m legitimately concerned for the sex lives of others.

In addition to weight-loss and sex advice, throw in:

* some useless garbage about how to “have it all and do it all” (hint, you need a nanny and a chef and a personal assistant),

* an article about “[insert garment name] for every shape (between 0 and 12, natch),”

* and a shit-ton of ads with impossibly thin models (but you should love your body the way it is!) hocking products you don’t want or need but will buy anyway,

aaand you have every issue of every ladymag ever.

I don’t know what I expect because magazines like Bitch and Ms. aren’t in checkout lanes at the grocery store providing an alternative to this dreck. Cosmo and Martha Stewart Living and Good Housekeeping tell us how to be what society wants us to be: thin, pretty, domesticated, man-pleasing mommy-wives. Of course, it’s just a pleasant side effect that while we’re busily striving to meet these impossible standards we can’t possibly run companies or hold public offices or start an uprising. No, we’re far too busy trying to whittle our waistlines and perfect our oral sex technique. And while some women cast off those lookist, ageist, sexist, pronatalist shackles and run for office or start a company, even they are subjected to the same criticisms we’re all brought up to fear: not being attractive enough, dressing poorly, being too emotional, being a bitch, etc.

And really, would your average woman choose Ms. over Cosmo? Not likely. Most of us are so deeply entrenched in this bullshit that we opt for Cosmo thinking “Maybe if I just lose those last five pounds and master giving blowjobs, I can be content knowing I’m a good woman.” But contentment never comes. There’s always a new diet, a new tongue technique to make us feel inadequate and give us a reason to buy next month’s issue. (Do I sound like a feminist conspiracy theorist yet?)

We can’t win. We’re either too butch or too femme. Too cold or too sensitive. Too smart or too ditzy. Too homely or too pretty. Too stylish or too plain. Too aggressive or too passive. Too career minded or too family oriented. Too slutty or too prudish.

What the fuck are we supposed to do? I don’t even know. What I do know is I have taken it upon myself to not give a shit about what people think of me. I do what I want. I straddle the line between all of the above dichotomies. I may not be a good woman by everyone else’s standards, but I’m good enough for me.