Author: AthenaC

This is my main blog now! But I kept up all my old posts at http://athenasantics.blogspot.com/ so feel free to check those out, too. This site is just what it says - a blog about nothing in particular. I am interested in EVERYTHING - theology, science, philosophy, photography, economics, gender relations, ethics, travel ... you name it, I'm interested in it. I write because if I don't, my thoughts will spill out and assault the poor, innocent people in my life. So instead I inflict my thoughts on the internet at large, because it appears to be equipped to handle this sort of thing.

How to write a dress code for boys

Have you seen this?  This completely unsurprising supposedly-directed-at-both-genders-yet-curiously-female-centric dress code for a prom at a *gasp* Catholic school?

Yeah.

The inevitable discussion is of course all about misogynistic body-policing vs. good and common sense, summarized with one word in the usual way: modesty.

Look, the school absolutely has the right to set the tone they want for the event.  So they want a formal, respectable prom where everyone is dressed with taste and elegance?  Good for them.  But why the single-minded focus on the women?  I assume there will be guys there, correct?  And there are expectations for gentlemanly dress and appearance, correct?

Oh, wait –

“Young men are expected to wear formal evening attire that would include a tuxedo, suit with a tie, or sport coat and slacks with a tie.”

That’s it?

Really?

But the women get pages – pages – of examples?!

“But Athena, there’s just so much more variety in women’s clothing – that’s why the women need the additional focus!  And there’s only so many pages because the school is just so generously providing examples so that there’s no confusion about what’s allowed!”

Yes, they are providing examples!  Good for them.  I have no doubt that those examples were provided in order to make it crystal clear to girls exactly how to follow the dress code.  But here’s the problem: all of those models are a size 2.  Further, prominently featured in the dress code are subjective statements such as, “Dresses should not be excessively tight,” and “Some girls may wear the same dress, but due to body types, one dress may be acceptable while the other is not,” and even a flat-out admission that “Modesty is admittedly a subjective interpretation.”  In short, there is zero guidance for curvier girls regarding the overall look that would be considered acceptable for their body type, which means that there is a lot of room for disagreement between school administration and a student making a good-faith attempt to comply.

“Really, Athena, this is really nothing different than a fashion magazine showing young adults what to wear to job interviews!”

Err … yes it is.  In particular, a guide for men’s interview clothing would discuss recommended color combinations, the proper fit of clothes, a provision that clothing should be wrinkle-free, and many other details that, in total, yield a professional, put-together look.

Speaking of detail, it’s time I get to the point of my post, which is –

How to write a dress code for formal dances without being sexist (i.e. in such a way that compliance for women and men is equally burdensome with roughly equivalent ratios of good sense and arbitrary rules)

For women

I don’t think anyone needs my help writing a dress code for women.  So let’s skip this part.

For men

  • Men are expected to wear formal evening attire that would include a tuxedo or a suit with a tie.
  • Jackets should hang off the shoulders in a dignified manner without being too big. Jackets must be worn at all times to preserve the dignity and formality of the event.  Jackets are allowed to be unbuttoned while dancing or seated but must be buttoned at all other times.
  • Vests are optional, but if worn must be color-coordinated with the tie and the rest of the outfit. Vests must remain buttoned at all times.
  • Ties are required. Ties may either be in the necktie or bowtie style and must be properly tied; clip-on ties are disallowed.  If a necktie style is chosen, the bottom of the tie must hang to between the top and the bottom of the belt buckle when standing up straight.  Neckties may be no more than 3” wide at the widest point, and bowties may be no more than 2” wide at the widest point.  Ties must be worn and properly tied at all times and may not be “loosened”.
  • Belts are required. Belt buckles may not be more than 2.5” in diameter and should not be ostentatious in appearance.  Belts should be color-coordinated with the rest of the outfit.
  • Pants should not be oversized nor excessively tight. Pants should hang to the ankle when standing.  Pants may touch the top of the shoes but should not touch the ground when standing up straight.
  • Dress socks and dress shoes are required. Athletic shoes and/or athletic socks are disallowed.  If you have a medical waiver allowing special footwear, you must bring your waiver with you to be allowed into the dance.

The overall look should be formal and tasteful, properly fitted, not oversized, and not excessively tight.  Men wearing wrinkled or improperly fitting clothing will not be allowed to attend.  Tastefulness is admittedly a subjective interpretation, but one which we have a duty to uphold.  Students should therefore err on the side of formality and good taste and not put school administrators in the difficult position of upholding school standards.

Guidelines will be strictly enforced.  Students, including guests, not in compliance with the dress code will not be admitted to the dance.  There will NOT be a loaner clothing option.  Having been specifically forewarned, we expect nothing less than full cooperation from students and their parents on this issue.


General notes

We understand that there is a degree of judgment in fulfilling the provisions for good taste and modesty.  We further understand that what is acceptable to one school official may not be acceptable to another.  Because we reserve the right to strictly enforce the guidelines, yet we want to minimize misunderstandings and disappointment inherent in strict enforcement of subjective guidelines, we are available to pre-approve your outfit.  From (date) to (date), text a picture of yourself in your proposed outfit to XXX-XXX-XXXX.  If you receive a response of “approved,” simply show the approval to anyone who challenges you the evening of prom.

If you are unable to attend for any reason, your ticket cost will be refunded to you.


 

There – see how easy that was?

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Professor Kelly’s kids: Our reaction

You’ve all seen this by now, right?  If you haven’t yet, here you go.  Enjoy!

In addition to the pure “awwww” factor, it’s been very encouraging to see the collective reaction!

Some quick observations:

  • We have in front of us a very smart man who is an expert in South Korean policy, and yet what do we know about him?   What do we think about his intelligence and expertise?  We don’t care, because we love his kids.  Usually that’s a thing that happens to women, so it’s nice to see some equal opportunity here.
  • The mother has been described as superwoman with ninja skills for the way she quickly wrangles the children. And deservedly so!
  • Lots of other working parents expressing solidarity. Working from home is fantastic, but adorable interruptions are always a risk when you work from home with small children!
  • Not once have I seen anyone blame him or his wife for “losing control” of the kids. And that’s awesome!  Are we finally learning that one can’t control children 100% of the time?
  • Not once have I seen anyone blame him for the audacity to have children AND a job at the same time. Another win!  Is it possible that we are accepting that people are complex and have multiple priorities simultaneously?

But isn’t anyone curious about what Professor Kelly actually said?  Just me?  Well, no matter – here’s the full BBC segment anyway:

And one final thing I noticed: the interviewer ended with, “You’ve got some children that need you” as the kids have continued to scream in the background.  Usually directed at women to dismiss their professional value, but here it’s directed at a father who is clearly adored by his kids.  We should all be so lucky to be so accomplished and so loved!

Here’s toward being that much closer to a world where both men and women are celebrated, both for their professional accomplishments AND their parenting!

heres to you

Agnostic

Scene: Husband and I in the basement on our computers, each playing a game.

Me: *grumble*

Husband: What?

Me: Nothing.  It’s fine.

Husband: No really, what?

Me: *inwardly sigh and make the decision to let him feel like he’s helping* This game mechanic isn’t working, but it’s okay.  I’m just not going to worry about it, and I’ll try it again some other time.

Husband: Have you tried clicking it?

Me: Yes.

Husband: Have you tried reloading the user interface?

Me: …. Yes.

Husband: Have you looked up what else you’re supposed to do for it to work?

Me: Yes I have, and there’s nothing else.  It should be working but it’s not.  No reason why.

Husband: *irritated* Look, things don’t just not work without a reason.  So there’s not no reason, there is a reason.  You’re probably doing something wrong.

Me: *also irritated now* Yes I’m aware that there is a reason that exists somewhere in the bowels of the program.  I just don’t feel like spending my limited leisure time figuring it out.

Husband: Well if we don’t figure it out, we can’t fix it.  Here, let me try –

Me: *interrupting* Look, I don’t care.  I really don’t.  I’m aware that if I don’t investigate, I will never know.  And I’m okay with that.  See, while you are content to remain agnostic with regard to important things like the existence of God and the implications (or lack thereof) on the universe as a whole and your place in it, I am content to remain agnostic with regard to shit that doesn’t matter, like why this game mechanic doesn’t work.

Fin

To my esteemed employer

Greetings and salutations,

You’re dumb.

I just submitted my expense report for a work trip (this one), and it got kicked back to me.  Why?  I ran through everything I spent on the trip – flight, hotel, rental car, food, and I received the following response:

Lunch is not ordinarily a business expense.

Excuse me?  Yes of course lunch isn’t ordinarily a business expense.  Because I don’t buy lunch when I work in town.  That’s why I tried to run it through – because it was money I spent while out of town that I wouldn’t have spent otherwise.

If there is a valid business reason for this meal, please provide the reason and the attendees, in accordance with the expense policy.

Um – yes.  The business reason is that I’m a human being that needs calories from time to time in order to be productive throughout the day.  Sigh.  Who am I kidding?  I know better than to try that one.

But that’s only how the policy doesn’t work for me.  What you don’t realize is the completely obvious way the policy doesn’t work for you.  Hence my previous assessment of your intelligence.  See – now that I know I can’t get lunch reimbursed, I’m going to go back to the policy, take a look at the allowances for all the other meals, and get more food for those meals to make up for having no lunch.  Instead of a small breakfast, moderate lunch, and light dinner, I’m going to get a late breakfast and a large early dinner that I’ll eat half of in the early afternoon and the other half in the early evening.

Here’s about how my out-of-town meal expenses compare before I was aware of the no-lunch policy and afterward:

meal-comparison

You see?  I don’t want to be out the cost of lunch every day, so I changed my behavior.  And now you’re spending more money on my travel because of your policy designed to spend less money.

Good job, genius.

Kind regards,

Athena

How to get your very own TSA pat-down

Wear this.

img_20170215_195034

Yup – that’s what I wore to work today as I flew out of O’Hare to join one of my audit teams for a couple days.

It turns out that there is metallic thread in the shirt, and the airport body scanners don’t like it.  Because of that, I made it to second base this morning with a very nice TSA lady.

So!  Lesson to all of you – watch out for metallic thread in your clothing if you have to fly for business, lest your diabolical plans to go to work at your boring, run-of-the-mill job be foiled by the TSA.

If you don’t feel loved, it’s your fault

And a Happy Valentine’s Day to you, too!

I’ve seen a couple versions of this message over the years in various places, and I hate it.  It’s nothing but the typical behavior-policing misogyny that you see over and over again from conservative religious types.

To be clear, I believe in God – 100% convinced He exists and He loves us based on the various logical arguments, philosophical arguments, historical evidence, scientific evidence of various miracles, and the occasional clear-as-day perception of an overwhelming Presence from time to time.

But this type of post is not helpful.  At all.  If you’re convinced that God is real, the absolute WORST thing you can do is conjure up emotionally manipulative bullshit and slap God’s name on it. All you’re going to do with that is drive people away when they see it for the victim-blaming poison it is.  Off the top of my head, here are the most obvious toxic messages embedded in this very short article:

  1. Fun-loving personalities are “desperate” and “attention-seeking.”  Exhibit A: The stock photo used for this piece.  With their modest clothes, tasteful makeup, joyful smiles, moderate portions of wine, and no men anywhere in sight – what exactly are those girls doing that could possibly be offensive?  To anyone?  Also, some people are naturally more flamboyant and attract more attention than others, and guess what?  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.  How about we not insult them with derogatory terms, mmkay?
  2. Reasonable expectations are “begging for attention and affection.”  Because we gals are just so needy, ya know?  How about we stop pretending that there’s something wrong with people who need attention and affection from their loved ones?  Yes I said people instead of women on purpose – because there are plenty of men who thrive on affection.
  3. If you experience completely normal feelings of loneliness, it’s your fault.  Because God loves you.  QED.  If that doesn’t work to make your feelings of loneliness magically vanish, it just means you need to be beaten over the head with the Catechism a few more times.  Hell, even the newly canonized St. Mother Teresa had some spiritual dry spells where she didn’t feel loved by God.  So where do you people get off telling normal, non-canonized people that there’s something wrong with them for feeling the exact same way?
  4. Your needs for human interaction (which you were created with) are irrelevant. When you make a friend or start a relationship, be sure to consult your crystal ball ahead of time so you know whether or not the relationship will work.  If it doesn’t yield a flat, emotion-free, passion-free courtship … err … I mean chaste of course … and end in marriage, it’s clearly your fault for “settling.”  Emotional and social needs are a thing, and it’s very damaging to pretend they aren’t real.
  5. You think you know what you want, but you don’t.  You need someone else to tell you what you really want because your feelings aren’t real.  Not directly stated in this piece, but strongly implied with the references to your suffering, your free will, your unwise decision to “settle.”  More explicitly stated by the female half of this couple, who in her pamphlet addressed to young women says, “You think you want sex, but you don’t; what you really want is love.”  It’s very damaging to create or encourage a dissonance between your intellect and your desires this way.

So what’s the answer?  I don’t have one, other than, “Sometimes life sucks and you can’t do anything about it.  I’m sorry.”  Once you confront the truth of this, you’ll have a better shot at where to go from there.

Confessions of a terrible person: The Facebook edition

Note: This post was written a year or so ago, when the events were still fresh.  I waited for a while to post this because I didn’t want to risk hurting anyone who was close enough to the situation to be able to see through the name changes.  Why post it at all?  Well, this issue comes up from time to time on Facebook and I think it’s important for people to realize how they come across and what they can do instead to communicate their priorities more effectively.

I love Facebook – I really do.  Because of Facebook, I keep in touch with my siblings, high school classmates, high school church friends, college classmates, former coworkers from the military and my old job, acquaintances that I would REALLY like to get to know better but we haven’t found the time to get together, my stepchildren from my first marriage, and many others.  Without Facebook I would never be able to stay in touch with all these people, see pictures of them, see pictures of their growing families, or read what they are thinking, feeling, and what’s going on in their lives.

But that doesn’t mean I like everything I see on Facebook.

Here’s the deal –  I like pictures, I like funny things, I like commentary, I like opinions, I like reading that you’re proud of yourself / spouse / kid, I like silly Buzzfeed quizzes.  I like a lot of things; I happen to think I’m pretty chill about most of the stuff that people post.  I DON’T like spam, I don’t like “copy and paste this to your status for 1 hour if you care about (insert miscellaneous cause here),” I don’t like disgusting pictures, I don’t like “you won’t BELIEVE what happens next!” clickbait, and I DON’T like incessant updates spewed at the general public about things I don’t care about.

So, on my Facebook for the last few weeks / months / honestly-I’ve-lost-track, I’ve been seeing a couple friends in particular spamming with regard to a particular cause.  I’m talking status updates, pictures, a hashtag – they were both sharing directly from a particular page someone created called “Team Jim and Pam Halpert” as well as writing status updates with the #prayforjim hashtag on their own.  Since my friends themselves were spamming their own status updates, NOT just from the page, I can’t unfollow them without missing all the things from them that are the reason I enjoy Facebook in the first place.

I finally decided to click around and see what the fuss was all about.  After a few minutes of clicking and scrolling I saw a reference to chemotherapy.  Okay, so some guy I don’t know has cancer and for THAT my Facebook feed has been clogged to hell and gone with “Pray for Jim!” #prayforjim, and the like.  Seriously?

Lest I sound like a jerk (a lost cause already, I know), there is a polite way and an obnoxious way to invite people to care about your cause.  There is a reason that even not-for-profits with the most urgent needs don’t rent large loudspeakers and constantly entreat us all out loud to donate; what I am venting about here is the Facebook equivalent of loudspeaker chatter.  Much more effective would be an approach that is the Facebook equivalent of being in a room with invited guests and talking about the things you invited them there to talk about.

But how do you do that?

Great question – glad you asked.

Do what my friend Katlyn did when Seth died (story here) – she created a page “In loving memory of Seth,” and invited everyone to the page.  If you wanted to talk about Seth, share pictures, find out when and where the memorial service was, you could like the page.  By “Like”-ing the page, you were opting in to having things about Seth in your feed.  Only the invite to the page was public and it was the one thing that hit everyone’s news feed.  If you didn’t know Seth that well or if you had other priorities (not gonna judge you for that), you don’t have to see it.

This creates a safe space for people who want to talk about nothing but Seth, all day every day.  Like maybe his sister or his mom – they kinda didn’t have much else on their minds at the time, and understandably so.  So they can receive a steady stream of support without harassing anyone and everyone.

So – if you want me to care about your random cause or random person, invite me to “like” the page.  I won’t do it, but I will appreciate what this means to you and I will definitely send some thoughts and prayers your way.  And then this part is critical – DON’T BOTHER ME AGAIN.  Not until there’s an actual significant change.  Like if the person is healed / cancer-free / back from a deployment / home from the hospital / whatever.  Or if the person dies, in which case I will express my condolences and pray for their soul.  To recap, I should see this random posting from you exactly twice – 1) the first time to let me know what’s going on; and 2) the last time to let me know that either the crisis is over or it’s a moot point.

So this morning, as usual, I am scrolling down past a funny picture (lol!), a baby picture (so cute!  Congratulations!), a Buzzfeed quiz (lol!), three political statuses (I don’t quite agree but I appreciate the thought you have put into your position), and YET ANOTHER #prayforjim.  I rolled my eyes in irritation before I noticed that this one was different – “Pray for peace as Jim goes to meet his King.”

Oh.

Jim of #prayforjim and Team Jim and Pam Halpert died.  Well, now I really feel like an asshole.  Deep sigh.  Never mind – I take it all back.  I guess I’ll just shut up now and finally #prayforjim.

To my boss on my last day

 

I remember the day it first hit me that I had a stupid, silly, embarrassing schoolgirl crush on you.  I don’t remember exactly when it was, but I do remember thinking to myself, “What the fuck is wrong with me?”

After my last day working for you I came home and cried.  Once again, here I am thinking to myself, “What the fuck is wrong with me?”  And now we’ve come full circle.

“Well if you don’t want to leave, then don’t,” I hear you thinking.  Yes, yes, I know – no one is forcing me to leave.  When I really thought about what I know about you, I didn’t expect you to understand.  I wanted you to understand, because I care what you think of me.  I hoped you would understand, because we understand a lot of really random things about each other.  We think a lot alike, which is one thing that made our professional relationship really fun.  But you also have a ruthlessly self-interested streak, so you shut down long before you even started to see it from my perspective.

When I first told you I was leaving, you sat on it for a day and then came back to me – “Should we talk about this?”  I was not expecting that at all.  I don’t know if you realize how perilously close you came to changing my mind over the next two weeks.  Or maybe you do but you don’t care because I didn’t actually change my mind.

When I thought about how much I wanted to leave, I didn’t fully trust myself because I was afraid my irritation was blinding me to all the reasons I should stay.

But when I thought about how much I wanted to stay, I really didn’t trust myself because I was afraid my feelings were being influenced by how I felt about you.  Remember that stupid, schoolgirl crush I mentioned earlier?  Yeah, that was a real pain in the ass.

It was a lot to work through, which was hard enough, but the hardest part was working through it alone.  Sure, I had my husband and a few friends to talk to, but their perspective on accounting career issues is so limited.  The one person whose advice I really wanted was the person sitting across the table from me.  For obvious reasons, that was the one person whose advice I couldn’t have.

So, I figured if I can’t trust some of my feelings, then I really can’t trust any of them.  It had to come down to intellectual reasons only.  And that conclusion was unmistakable:  I had to go.  Oh, I fought it for a while.   A long while.  Not that you looked terribly closely(*) but I’m told the weight loss was fairly obvious.  That’s how hard I had to hit the gym just to stay sane while I was both getting my work done and accepting the inevitable.  I also lost a lot of hair because agonizing indecision is ever so much fun.

But the biggest thing I was afraid of?  Telling you.  I knew that it would be the end of our friendly professional relationship, and I really, really, really didn’t want that.  So the real reason I lost the weight and the hair?  You.

A year from now I’ll look back and laugh at myself, but the fact remains that today I feel like crap.  Thankfully I only have to keep myself distracted this weekend before I can throw myself into my new job on Monday – I expect to be overwhelmed, which will help more than anything.

I wish you nothing but the best.

I will never forget you.

(*) Which is more than fine, really.  Honestly, if you had said something, I would have wondered if I was in the office or out at a certain client-which-shall-not-be-named.  You know the one.


 

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.

anigif_enhanced-13108-1448862653-2

Thanks for reading; I feel better now.

We will never speak of this again.

A Valentine’s Day love story

Or, more accurately, a meditation on my feelings.

I am in love with my coffee.

Mmmmmm .... oh yeah baby ....

Mmmmmm …. oh yeah baby ….

That first sip of dark-roast divine delight sets my tongue alight with flavor and heat.  I feel the warm glow slide down my throat and enliven my entire body.  I feel the invigoration of the caffeine flow through my veins as I reflexively flex my biceps – I can take on the world!  Or at least this audit.

copeco.com

Yeah! Go me!

The same excitement as kissing a naked lover with wet lips.  The same comfort as being curled up in a blanket with a spouse.

first love wattpad

Wait, what?!  That wasn’t what I wanted!  A little morbid, don’t you think?

true love mirror-of-my-soul

That’s more like it!

Happy Valentine’s Day!