Let me tell you exactly how much I hate christmas

Warning: This is a rant about how much I hate christmas (hint: a whole fucking lot). If you really like christmas, or if you don’t like profanity, you should maybe avert your eyes.

Grumpy Cat meme that says, "Dashing through the no."

I hate christmas. Why? Well, because people insist on pushing their religion on me and saying things like, “Jesus is the reason for the season” and “don’t take Jesus out of christmas by abbreviating it to xmas” and “YOU MEAN MERRY CHRISTMAS” when I say “Happy Holidays” because there is more than one holiday in December, and then think that somehow, despite this holiday being pervasive as fuck from September to January, there is an actual WAR on christmas*.

I’m sorry, no. Actually, I’m not sorry. Just no.

Jesus is NOT the reason for the season. Axial tilt is the reason for the season, and when you get right down to it, christmas is just Yule with a nativity scene thrown in. Everything from the date, to the tree, to the Yule log, to the lights is all pagan in origin. The only reason Christians celebrate Jesus’s birth on December 25 is because the Roman Catholic Church couldn’t totally wipe out pagan beliefs, so they just slapped Christian practices on the old pagan traditions. You still want to celebrate baby Jesus on December 25th? COOL. I support your excitement over baby Jesus.

But I don’t celebrate baby Jesus. I’m Wiccan. I celebrate Yule, which focuses on the returning of the light after the darkest day of the year. It’s a time to reflect on the past year and set intentions for the coming year. So again, Jesus is not the reason for my season or my celebration. Please stop trying to annoyingly convert me with cliche rhymes. It will not work.

Let’s also take a moment to talk about capitalism. People loooove to say how we should remember the true meaning of christmas is Jesus’s birth (remember, he was not born in December) and all that, while also gleefully flinging money at every store they go into to shower people they don’t even like with expensive but ultimately meaningless gifts. It’s just a bit too hypocritical for my tastes. You can say, “That’s not me! I only buy reasonably priced gifts for people I like!” and that’s cool, but you’re in the minority. And even Christians perpetuate the whole weird and kind of creepy Santa Claus thing, which probably didn’t start as capitalist but has been completely co-opted by corporations (example: pictures with Santa in every mall ever). Like, I’m sorry, but I do not want an old fat white man breaking into my house and leaving shit from goddess knows where under my Star Wars Yule tree.

Keep Calm and Bah Humbug

Then there’s the “music.” The “music” consisting of the same five songs, covered by every pop artist ever, recycled over and over and blasted at top volume for months. It’s fucking torture, and at least one clinical psychologist backs me up on this. Now you know why everyone’s so cranky in December. We all have to listen to that fucking awful “music” all the goddamned time. And half of it is explicitly religious. Which again, is probably great if you follow that particular religion, but if you don’t, it can all feel like a big FUCK YOU.

Okay. Now for the so-called “war on christmas.” No one (except me, maybe) is waging a fucking war on fucking christmas. You are a self-centered, self-righteous asshole if you think that. Because GUESS WHAT? There are other holidays in December! There’s Hannukah! And Kwanzaa! and Yule! And Saturnalia! And New Year’s Day is like, the day right after December! Also, see my point above about explicitly religious christmas music playing in every goddamned store from November to January. If explicitly religious christmas music is that pervasive, there is no war on christmas, only a war on my sanity. Just because people maybe want you to respect their holiday doesn’t mean they want to stop you from celebrating yours! I, christmas hater extraordinaire, don’t even want to stop you from celebrating your holiday! I just want you to leave me out of it. So please, do us all a favor and get the fuck over yourself. Enjoy christmas and stop trying to make everyone else enjoy it if they don’t want to!

And finally… “xmas.” Guess what the “x” stands for. Guess! It’s the first letter of Christ’s name in the Greek alphabet! And there’s a long tradition of abbreviating Christ’s name. So actually, you aren’t taking Christ out of christmas if you abbreviate, you’re just being lazy. Also, so what if someone wants to abbreviate? Does it affect you in any way? No? Didn’t think so. It’s fine if you prefer not to abbreviate, and it’s fine if you want to. Stop trying to make everyone do things your way. I mean, really. Who died and made you king of the universe?

So what, you say, you love christmas! That’s great! I’m glad there is something in this cold, cruel world that brings you joy. But just remember–not everyone is a Christian. Not everyone celebrates your holiday. So maybe try not being a dick about it?

*I have made christmas lowercase on purpose, because I hate it.

A brave new world

Last month, I quit my job at the library and dropped out of library school. I want to talk about what happened, and I want to talk about it honestly and fairly, without malice.

I’m not sure I can do that yet, because frankly what happened is shitty and unfair, and because I don’t want my words or actions to harm anyone who still works at the library. And I don’t want you, potential library-user, to feel any sort of weird bad feelings toward the library, because you should absolutely not (which reminds me that a few of my books are a day late…)

So instead of detailing the events that led up to me quitting my job, let me talk about what I’m doing now.

First, I am teaching fiction writing classes at the Community College of Allegheny County, in the community education (non-credit) program. I’ve always enjoyed teaching, but got scared away by endless adjunct tales of woe and the need for affordable health insurance. Thankfully, I’m in a position now where I don’t have to worry about health insurance quite as much, making part-time teaching a possibility.

And I have to say, it feels good to be sharing the thing I most love doing (writing fiction) with people who are excited to learn. My students range in age from around my age to retirees, from judges to hydro geologists, and I am learning as much from them as they are from me, I’m sure. I’m going to give teaching a trial run for a year, and if I find at the end of the year that I still love it, I’m probably going to apply for PhD programs (creative writing PhD in Hawaii? Yes, please) to up my chances of getting a “real” teaching job (and also because I want to write an ecofeminist dissertation on Star Wars, but that’s a tale for another time).

Second, I am working part-time at Riverstone Books, a new bookstore in the North Hills that will open later this week. In addition to working the floor, I’ll be working on the store’s social media as well. Right now the main focus is on getting the store up and running for the grand opening tomorrow, but I’ve got lots of content ideas percolating, and I’m really excited about the store and this opportunity.

Third, I am freelancing, which is something that had to fall by the wayside while I was working full-time and taking classes. So far I’ve had work published in The Millions, Health.com, and Next Pittsburgh. Where will my name pop up next? Who knows! I missed writing nonfiction, so it feels good to dip my toes back into the business of facts.

Journalism has always felt like an odd side appendage I don’t know what to do with—I know I’m not really interested in hardcore investigative reporting, but getting to write about topics I’m passionate about (food! writing! migraines!) for more than my blog is only a good thing.

Fourth, and most importantly, I’m writing more. My writing sessions don’t have to be limited to fifteen- or thirty-minute sprints before I head into the library. My mornings are open, so I can write for one hour. Two hours. Even three hours. I am still giddy with delight at this bounty of time. So I am shopping my short story collection, revising a small collection of flash fiction, and plotting a serial novel for NaNoWriMo next month.

What’s more, my partner’s fears that I would just play Pokemon Go for eight hours a day if I quit my job have not come true! I still only play for a very moderate average of one hour a day!

This is all still new, and still a little scary, but ultimately, I’m hopeful that good things will come of this brave new world.

President Racist, Sexist, Greedy, Insecure, Whiny Farce-of-a-Man-Baby

Okay. Look. If you are still claiming Donald Trump is not a racist motherfucker, you are either a. delusional, or more likely, b. pretty damn racist yourself. If you are part of the 34% of this country’s population who still approves of this clown, what the fuck are you thinking? No, seriously. What the fuck are you thinking?

If you are not publicly and loudly condemning this shithead, why not? Are you that selfish, that self-centered? Or are you just a racist, misogynist piece of shit?

A woman is dead because she had the guts to stand up to a bunch of neo-Nazi fuckers who think some of the people I care about most in this world aren’t even human. Fuck that.

Violence on both sides? Fuck that. You do not get to stand up and denigrate other human beings for the color of their skin and then be pissed when people stand up to your bullshit. You can say whatever the hell you want to in this country, but no one has an obligation to listen to you or let you bully them.

The “president” hasn’t even called Heather Heyer’s family. Why? The answer should be pretty obvious by now: He’s a racist, sexist, greedy, insecure, whiny farce of a man baby.

If someone waved a knife or a gun at you, you’d probably feel pretty okay doing anything in your power to defend yourself. When an angry mob—because let’s be real, permit or no, that’s what this was—marches through town waving fucking swastikas and automatic weapons and your skin happens to be brown or black? Same thing. Bigger scale.

The other “side” (i.e. the absolutely, no question about it, wrong side) 100 percent lost their right to play the victim when they decided to take their rhetoric off the virtual pages of the internet and into the streets they share with their fellow citizens.

History won’t be silent on what happened this weekend in Charlottesville. Will you?