Michelle Obama’s “Can’t Run Your Own House” Quote was NOT aimed at Hillary Clinton

Michelle Obama’s “Can’t Run Your Own House” Quote was NOT aimed at Hillary Clinton


J.C. Schildbach, LMHC

In his commencement speech to the 2016 graduating class of Stanford, Ken Burns updated an old adage, noting that the Internet “permits a lie to circle the globe three times before the truth can get started.”

In an era of politics-by-meme, a lie can spread quickly, along with a clever image or a video clip making the lie seem that much more substantial. The people who see/hear the lie, and want to believe the underlying message, are quick to “like” it and “share” it across their own social media feeds. No need to check on the verity of the information, although such a check would take only a few seconds and a Google search, and the person sharing the item is already using the Internet at the time s/he decides to spread the virus.

It is in this spirit of intentional dissemination of misinformation that a brief video clip has been resurrected, purporting to show “Michelle Obama TRASHING Hillary Clinton in 2008”—feel free to add as many exclamation points, emojis, and OMGs as you like.

I won’t link to any of the various versions of this clip, simply to avoid giving them any additional traction or movement—however minor.

At any rate, the (very brief) clip shows Michelle Obama, saying, “So our view was that, if you can’t run your own house, you certainly can’t run the White House.” Most newer versions of this meme pretend-contrast this with Ms. Obama’s recent DNC speech wherein she talks about trusting Hillary Clinton.

The big lie, of course, is that the 2008 clip is about Hillary Clinton. Given the full context, it is obvious that Michelle Obama was speaking about her own family, and how she and her husband maintain a balance between their career obligations, and their responsibilities as parents.

Here is the full quote:

So our view was that, if you can’t run your own house, you certainly can’t run the White House. So, we’ve adjusted our schedules to make sure that our girls are first, so while he’s traveling around, I do day trips. That means I get up in the morning, I get the girls ready, I get them off, I go and do trips, I’m home before bedtime. So the girls know that I was gone somewhere, but they don’t care. They just know that I was at home to tuck them in at night, and it keeps them grounded, and children, the children in our country have to know that they come first. And our girls do and that’s why we’re doing this. We’re in this race for not just our children, but all of our children.

And here it is in meme form (note, the picture is NOT at all related to the speech the quote is taken from—but, gee whiz, look at how that White House podium ties it all together—so long as you don’t think about why Michelle Obama would be giving a speech at the White House in 2008):

Michelle Your House

Sorry it’s not a short, punchy meme.  Context can get in the way of brevity and punchiness.  At any rate, you should be able to just drag and drop the meme, so you can share it anywhere, or, hell, share this whole post—especially in the comments section of anyone who is circulating the lie.  I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.

I won’t go into why any thinking person would believe that eight seconds of a speech, completely out of context, means what some politically-motivated, usually anonymous source, says it means. We all believe what we want to believe. And we’ve seen it before. Who didn’t build what, again?

I could go on about how creating and disseminating misinformation—particularly when the truth is known and easily accessed—is deplorable, ethically and morally bankrupt, and a violation of the social contract; but since we’re expanding on the context of quotes, I’ll go back to that opening quote and let Ken Burns get this one (from a larger context where he actually IS talking about Donald Trump):

“The sense of commonwealth, of shared sacrifice, of trust, so much a part of American life, is eroding fast, spurred along and amplified by an amoral Internet that permits a lie to circle the globe three times before the truth can get started.”

So, maybe…just maybe…check that meme out before you share it, even if it does feel truthy to you.

Shooting Our Daughters’ Boyfriends: Toyota Camry Edition


J.C. Schildbach, LMHC

In the race to sell cars by appealing to (the stereotype of) overprotective fathers (aka fathers who are obsessed their daughters’ sexual behavior/fathers who threaten other peoples’ sons) Toyota manages to get in maximum gross-out in minimal time with a disturbing 15-second ad for the Toyota Camry.

Dad enters the Toyota dealership, phone-gazing tween daughter in tow. He approaches Toyota spokeswoman/pretend car salesperson “Jan,” telling her “I need a safe car.” Apparently dad just up-and-decided to head out and buy a car without doing any research beforehand, and thought it was a good idea to start off his negotiation for a new car by immediately notifying the sales staff of just how ill-informed he is.

Jan’s response, “The Camry’s really safe. It has ten airbags. It even has a backup camera,” is almost as bizarre as dad’s clueless request. Is Jan implying that other cars in the Toyota line are not safe? Have fewer airbags? Don’t come with a back-up camera? Is there some reason Jan didn’t ask normal salesperson-type questions, like, “How big is your family?” Or, “What do you need the car for?”

But the strangeness of the initial exchange pales in comparison to what happens next.

Dad says, “That could come in handy.” The commercial then cuts to a scene in dad’s imagination. Dad is sitting in the Camry in a driveway, watching the image from his backup camera. It’s his daughter and a boy, standing awkwardly, leaning in to kiss each other. Dad gives two quick blasts of the horn, breaking up the kiss. Tween daughter emotes, “Da-ad!” Tween boy freezes for a second, then bolts.

Toyota what dad saw

What dad saw.

Toyota’s ad agency apparently expects everybody to take this in without question, to chuckle at dad’s stealthy intervention, and to come away with the impression that the Camry has a lot of great safety features.

The ad begs so many questions, though, not the least of which is, doesn’t dad know how to work a rearview mirror? If dad had pulled the car in facing forward, instead of backing in, wouldn’t he have been able to completely avoid this situation altogether? After all, he would have been facing the kids as they said goodnight.

But the really big question is just what the hell is going on in dad’s mind that when somebody mentions a backup camera, his first thought is that he can use it to watch his daughter as she and her date try to have a goodnight kiss? Does dad imagine a number of other situations where he can use that backup camera to watch his daughter engage in physical contact with boys?

Probably shouldn’t answer that.

Toyota dad hands

Where are your hands, dad?  Show us your hands!

We cut back to the showroom, where dad throws his arm around his daughter, and says, “Gotta keep my little girl safe.” I’m not sure what form of virulent sexually transmitted disease dad thinks is lurking on the lip of his daughter’s 12-year-old date that he concludes he is keeping his daughter safe by using his car’s backup camera and horn to break up a quick peck.  If anything, dad’s actions just convinced those two kids to be much more careful about where they engage in any physical contact in the future—and to do all they can to hide it from dad.

Still, maybe that’s all dad wants—to make a little show of what he’s done to keep his daughter safe, so that he can feel better about himself for having such disturbing fantasies. Unfortunately, dad, your daughter doesn’t need you intervening in such a way—forever causing her to associate your leering…er…watchful eye with any romantic thoughts she might have toward another person. She might benefit from you being able to speak openly with her, and to move beyond your own shame about basic biological functions, so that she knows you are a safe person to turn to, rather than a controlling jerk who is likely to blow up at her if she admits to—I don’t know—let’s just call it ‘making a mistake’—of whatever kind—in her relationships.

You can just hear dad storming around the kitchen as his daughter sobs at the results of a pregnancy test. “How did this happen?!! I bought a car for Christ’s sake! It had a backup camera and everything!!” I’ll spare you whatever other thoughts dad might be having about backup cameras and his daughter getting pregnant.

But the commercial closes out instead with Jan ‘sympathizing’ with the tween daughter, saying, “He’ll only be like this for another 10 or 15 years.”

Pervy toyota dad

I’m so sorry, dear. I had no idea your dad would go there at the mention of a backup camera.

Wait. Does Jan have any idea what dad was just thinking about?   She has to, right? Otherwise, why would she specify 10 or 15 years? She is suggesting that in 10 or 15 years, the daughter might have gotten married, or moved away from dad, or whatever it is that supposedly is going to get dad to quit pointing backup cameras at her and her boyfriends, right?

Oh, Jan. You could’ve done so much better by this girl—by all girls. Don’t just encourage her to suck it up and put up with dad’s troubling attitudes and insecurities. Don’t just let dad get away with his pervy thoughts and car-based voyeurism.

Who am I kidding, though? Jan’s just trying to sell cars, not change the world. She’s just reading the words other people scripted for her—the stupid, stupid words, in a tired, awful, and nonsensical scenario.

You can see the whole commerical here (it has a “private” setting on Toyota’s own Youtube site for whatever reason).

Toyota. Let’s go places. Like the hell away from your dad. I think he’s trying to check us out on his backup camera.



Shooting Our Daughters’ Boyfriends—Chevy Malibu Edition


J.C. Schildbach, LMHC

One of the ad industry’s favorite stereotypes is that of the overprotective father…perhaps more appropriately described as the father obsessed with his daughter’s sexual behavior. Currently, there are a number of commercials airing that—to varying degrees—make use of dear old dad’s insecurities about controlling access to his daughter’s erogenous zones as a strategy for selling cars. In today’s blog post, we look at the 2016 Chevy Malibu.

In past “Shooting” posts, the ads I’ve highlighted have typically coupled dad’s weird fixation on his daughter with the father’s tendency to threaten the daughter’s peer-age male friends. By the threat-making standard, Chevrolet’s “Car You Never Expected” commercial for the 2016 Malibu is pretty tame. It is actually absent any explicit threats, and any visible teens, as a focus group looks over an un-branded new car and wonders just what company might have made it, and how much it costs.

You can see the whole commercial here.

As the commercial’s host explains, the car comes equipped with “Teen Driver Technology,” which “lets parents view how their teens are driving.” There is no explanation offered as to what ‘viewing how teens are driving’ actually means. Is there a dashboard camera facing inward? A tracking device that spits out real-time location and traveling speed? A ‘black box’ that compiles stats?

The host goes on to promote other features of the teen-control technology, including how the car “even mutes the radio until the seatbelt is fastened,” at which point one of the focus-group women quips, “My husband could use that.” The woman’s joke is followed by an awkward edit of other group participants laughing in reaction to…well…something.

But the annoyed wife inadvertently brings up a good point. Why wouldn’t spouses (or partners, and family members of various stripes) use the Teen Driver Technology to track each other, or build a case to support their suspicions about just what is going on in that car? And what’s happening with all that information that’s being gathered under the stated goal of letting parents view how their teens are driving? But I digress…

Back on the topic of dads obsessed with their teen daughters’ sexual behavior, when the host first explains that the car allows parents to view how their teens are driving, the one identified dad says, as he settles in behind the wheel, “Will it keep track of how many boys get in the car?” We actually see the host and two women burst out laughing at dad’s witty rejoinder.

I cringed.

Teen Driver Dad

Oh, dad, it’s so hilarious that you want to spy on your daughter’s interactions with boys.  *Teen Driver Optional

Presumably the people who put the commercial together have hours of footage from these focus groups, but decided to go with the ‘creeping on my daughter’ comment—not somebody asking how the system actually works, or somebody commenting on how safe that would make them feel—but dad, cracking wise about how he can use spy-car technology to preserve his daughter’s purity.

And the phrasing of the joke—“Will it keep track of how many boys get in the car?” What do you imagine your daughter is doing when you’re not around?!? And just how many boys would it be acceptable to have in the car at one time, or in the course of a single day…or whatever you’re thinking about the numbers involved? What if no boys ever got in the car? What if there are always boys in the car with your daughter, but she’s not interested in boys in that way? What if the boys in the car aren’t interested in her (or any girls) that way? What if she’s just one of the guys? Or is capable of having male friends without there automatically being a sexual component? Or…well, the possibilities move far beyond the stupid limitations of your prurient assumptions, dad.

At base, though, it feels like an obnoxiously routine joke for a dad to make. All the people in the same frame with dad visibly laugh, like he’s said something witty and original.  Oh, how great it would have been if somebody reacted with distaste–ruining the shot.  But no, it was that laugh of familiarity–a safe laugh. It’s an old joke, with a slightly different twist—my car can support me in my societally-sanctioned, but still bizarre obsession with my teen daughter’s sexual behavior? Sign me up!!

But it’s the routine nature of the joke that makes it so disturbing. Making cracks about keeping boys away from our daughters is almost as common as complaining about the weather, or commenting on last night’s game.  It’s a topic that slides right into surface conversations we have with people we barely know.  It’s practically expected, and rarely questioned. We respond with a polite chuckle and move on, not bothering to think what’s beneath those little jokes.

What’s beneath those jokes, though, is an assertion that men need to control women at all stages of their lives, watching their every move, with the accompanying assertion that men must expend a great deal of energy to prevent one another from deflowering and despoiling the girls and women we each rightfully lay claim to.

You can take my daughter when you can pry her from my cold, dead hands.

Look, I get it that parents (not just creepy dads) want to keep their kids safe, that they want to help them avoid the pitfalls of heartbreak, and the potential for much greater relationship dangers.  And that people often make jokes to alleviate their fears. But if you just keep making the same tired jokes, and laughing about them—or even including them in commercials—without giving any thought to the jokes, then you’re really just getting bogged down in your fear—reacting to it, stuffing it down, rather than actually dealing with it. You’ll keep looking for answers that don’t actually move you forward, or better prepare your teens for anything.

So, with that in mind, I offer this new, if rather convoluted, slogan:

Chevy Malibu with Teen Driver Technology: because you’re incapable of having an honest and rational discussion with your teen about anything of a sexual nature and are praying that a car’s computer system can make up for that fact.

Or perhaps:

Chevy Malibu with Teen Driver Technology: a chastity belt for the 21st century.

Stay Tuned.

Chris Brown, Mental Health Professional


J.C. Schildbach, LMHC

The Chris Brown Suicide Assessment Scale is a simple tool, consisting of only two questions:

  1. Have you ever attempted suicide?
  2. Are you dead?

If you can answer “no” to one or more of the above–well, congratulations! You’re not suicidal. And you never have been.

If your answer to both questions is “yes”—well, sorry you didn’t get the help you needed. But, really, how were we supposed to know there was a problem if you weren’t going to actually kill yourself?

Brown revealed his mastery of the clinical subtleties of all things suicide in this insightful tweet from last week:

brown tweet screen shot

For a bit of context, this expression of Brown’s mental health expertise was aimed at singer Kehlani, who apparently posted a photo to Instagram from a hospital room where she was staying after a suicide attempt.

For a bit more context, Kehlani’s suicide attempt apparently had something to do with Internet trolls attacking and disparaging her for her personal choice in partners—after Kehlani left Cleveland Cavalier’s player Kyrie Irving to return to previous boyfriend Party Next Door.


For even more context, until I saw a news item on Brown’s tweet, I had no idea who any of these people were—aside from Brown, who I know primarily as the guy who physically assaulted then-girlfriend Rihanna back in 2009.

Apparently, Brown is friends with Irving, and thought it was somehow supportive of his friend to mock Kehlani’s suicide attempt. Irving, for his part, has indicated his support of Kehlani, while not saying anything about what an ass Brown is.

Say what you will about Kehlani posting a photo from her hospital bed, but the story was already coming out, and she had every right to relay whatever information she wanted in whatever format she chose. After all, it was arguably Kehlani’s choice not to publicly explain her love life that led to the previously-mentioned trolls deciding it was ok to tear down a 20-year-old woman for her choices in men. And, for all we know, whether she had floated an explanation before she was seen in public with Party Next Door, she would’ve been maligned anyway.

Now, when I first saw Brown’s tweet, it initially seemed that this was just Brown declaring his willingness to stigmatize those with mental health issues, while providing just one more example of how proud we the people are to declare our support for such ignorance (just check out all those “likes” and “retweets.”) And to be sure, the tweet is definitely built on a demonstrable falsehood that people who attempt suicide are just a bunch of pity-seeking fakers.

But when you take it in context of Brown’s other tweets on the same subject, where Brown, for example, accuses Kehlani of direct messaging a lot of men, and states that Kehlani and Party Next Door “look like they have stank sex” (really, Chris?!?—do you spend a lot of time picturing the kind of sex your acquaintances have?), as well as his own assertion that he was just showing support for his good friend Irving, then it becomes apparent that this is Brown just engaging in more of his own, garden-variety misogyny…the same kind of misogyny that led an army of Internet trolls to attack a 20-year-old female for having the audacity to choose one boyfriend over another…the same kind of misogyny that led to Brown’s felony conviction for assaulting Rihanna.

Strangely enough, in the aftermath of Brown’s assault case, despite stating that he is not a violent person, he was repeatedly kicked out of various anger management programs for violent behavior—behavior that Brown’s lawyers have attributed to Brown’s struggle with Bipolar Disorder.

It may very well be that Brown has Bipolar Disorder, and that it could play into his various legal troubles. But it is rather odd that he thinks a young woman who attempted suicide was in complete control—in the sense that she faked a suicide attempt, harming herself in a bid for sympathy—while he has attempted to get his own behavior excused based on mental health concerns that have allegedly left him with a lack of control over the things he’s done to threaten and harm others.

But apparently there are plenty among us who are much more willing to forgive a young man for viciously beating on his girlfriend, and then refusing to live up to the terms of his punishment—whatever the reason—than we are to forgive a young woman for ending a relationship, and then trying to end her own life.

Escaping the Groundhog Trap


J.C. Schildbach, LMHC

I’m not a big fan of Groundhog Day—the holiday or the movie.

As a kid, the holiday just confused me. Why a groundhog? Can’t you just see if you cast a shadow yourself? Or if a bush, a stone, a dog…anything casts a shadow? I wondered at the particular properties of groundhogs, and why their shadows might be somehow different than those of any other thing on the planet. I suppose I never quite felt like anybody adequately explained the magical properties of particular varieties of burrowing rodents for me to really get behind the holiday or its alleged meaning.

The lack of a real explanation is one of the things that keeps me from enjoying the movie, Groundhog Day as well. What caused this to happen? And why is the resolution what it is? What would make any magical powers of time control so interested in getting Bill Murray’s character, Phil, together with Andie MacDowell’s character, Rita? Perhaps a resident of Punxsutawney is one of the aliens from Edge of Tomorrow who accidentally infected Phil with the time control powers. But that can’t be it, because then Phil would’ve had to die every day, and he only died on some of those days.

Beyond that, the movie just follows the theme of so many movies from the 1980s about how great small-town America is, and how some cynical guy from the big city needs to learn to appreciate that. As for Murray’s arc in the movie, it’s rather similar to Scrooged.

The audience is also expected to root for Phil to ‘get the girl,’ even after he uses his powers of time repetition to manipulate one of the local women into sleeping with him, and then trying to manipulate Rita into falling for him by pretending to like everything she likes—information he gathers from her in conversations she will never remember.

Ultimately, Phil has to get through one day being kind and helpful, rather than acting like his usual, egocentric self (but, again, why is this the resolution—and would it really matter whether Rita decided she liked him or not?). But that last, single day of generous Phil doesn’t feel much different from the videogame-style resets that go on through the rest of the movie, or in Edge of Tomorrow, and hardly seems like a long-term change to his character as much as it feels like him resigning himself to being a decent human being for one day if he ever wants to get out of Punxsutawney. How is his decency not just more manipulation—another possible route out of the repetition he is trapped in?

Many people have labeled Phil’s situation in Groundhog Day an “existential dilemma” or otherwise termed the movie as existentialist. Properly speaking, though, if Phil’s was an existential problem, he wouldn’t have a long period of being able to make whatever decisions he wanted with no thought, responsibility, or consequences at all, only to be pushed into making the “right” decisions–as judged by whatever power kept him perpetually trapped in Punxsutawney on a particular day–until he did what was deemed correct by that power and the “spell” was broken. He would be responsible for whatever he did, and nothing would compel him to do anything.

groundhog drive

The most important lesson of all–Don’t drive angry.

Still, it’s something of a tribute to Groundhog Day, the movie, that it has become synonymous in our culture with repetitive behavior or situations. And it is perhaps the fantasy that we could relive a particular day until we did it right, managing to impress everyone around us, and connect with our one true love in the process (as well as the opportunity to indulge in a great deal of irresponsible behavior along the way), that has led it to this level of popular recognition. Or perhaps it’s the underlying idea that we are trapped by our own behaviors in repetitive cycles, and that we can change ourselves in order to achieve a better life—along with the wishful notion that we need to be good people if we really want to get what we want.

After all, the idea of breaking out of repetitive cycles and habits, or perhaps of creating better habits and repetitive cycles, along with being better people…good people…our best selves, is what underlies much religion, philosophy, and, yes, therapy.

We all struggle through our own behavioral patterns, habits, and the potential sameness of our days, the rut of weeks, months, seasons, and years. But no bizarre fluke of time is going to trap us in a loop and push us to do things differently and become better people, or pursue what we want. That’s on us.

Whatever I might think of him, Phil found out that it wasn’t a groundhog, or the celebration that surrounded a groundhog’s shadow, that was at the core of his problem. Rather it was his own shadows, the darkness he threw out into the world.

So maybe Groundhog Day is the perfect time to look around at our own shadows and what they say about our forecasts—how much more winter we may have in store—and then think about what, if anything, we want to do to change that.

Happy Groundhog Day.


New Year’s Resolutions 2016


J.C. Schildbach, LMHC

In years past, I put my (mostly self-deprecating) resolutions out into the world via fairly constrained social media channels, with limited commentary, where those who encountered them would likely have some idea of what I was talking about. But, since plenty of the people reading this (or rather, the teeming tides of people who could potentially read this) don’t know me personally (unlike most of the tiny trickle of people who actually will read this) I figure some explanation is probably in order. Plus, a list of five short items, presented as a blog post, hardly qualifies as making an effort.

Baby New Year

Resolution 1: Be less informed.

This might not sound like a particularly noble goal. But given that we are under a constant barrage of information, I, like Donald Trump, feel the need to put up some walls. See, I don’t even have to explain that wall comment, because of the useless information we cannot avoid. Of course, knowing about Donald Trump’s litany of offensive statements is, I suppose, important, in that his stupidity is impacting the attitudes and behavior of like-minded idiots—and it’s usually good to be aware of the relative threat level posed by idiots. So, bad example, I guess.

Resolution 2: Take better care of my toenails.

I’m not entirely sure how I’ve made it this far in life without developing a better plan for addressing the menace that is my rapid-growth, super-strength toenails. Generally speaking, I don’t bother to cut them until I’ve, yet again, found myself having to carefully extract the threads of a frayed (by my toenails) sock from the gnarled, cracked, and dangerously sharp tangle of keratin protruding from the ends of my lower phalanges. It’s something of a wonder my wife hasn’t bled out in the middle of the night just from brushing against the things while sleeping.

Resolution 3: Read books, not Internet comments sections.

This is probably self-explanatory as a basic concept. But I’ve developed an unhealthy addiction to reading the comments sections following articles on the Internet—despite knowing exactly what those comments sections hold in store. It has gotten so bad that, even when websites have made it rather complicated to find the button to bring up the comments section, and take inordinate amounts of time to load the comments, I will squander precious minutes of my dwindling time here on Earth to gain access to those comments, even when much more rewarding reading material is immediately at hand. Heaven help me.

Resolution 4: Enjoy what I ingest.

I am extraordinarily blessed to have access to a wide variety of foods, from wonderful nearby restaurants, to farmers markets, specialty shops, and ‘international’ grocery stores, to fruits and vegetables we grow in our own yard. My wife, daughter, and I all know our way around a kitchen—or at least how to follow a recipe. Yet, a great deal of the time, I treat eating like an annoying task to get out of the way in order to avoid passing out in the middle of whatever else I’m doing. I will pause in front of the pantry to choke down a small stack of saltine crackers in order to stave off my hunger and save the time it would take me to microwave and eat last night’s leftovers. (Just now, I would’ve gone to the refrigerator and eaten a couple slices of deli ham if M hadn’t brought me a surprise platter of food). I’m not quite at the point where I think I need to count how many times I chew each bite–but that doesn’t sound like a bad ‘eating mindfully’ exercise for me.

And finally…

Resolution 5: More pretty bows?

It’s something of a tradition for me to include a hair-based resolution each year. Now, I could argue that that’s already been addressed (sort of) by that toenail resolution, given that hair and toenails are basically made up of the same thing—but I’m not sure if my adoring fans are willing to make that leap. I could go really basic, like resolving to get my hair cut at reasonable intervals. But that’s no fun. And anyway, I like the sound of “more pretty bows” as a kind of mission statement. I’m not sure exactly what I mean by that—take a little more time to pretty things up a bit? Imagine the world as if everyone had pretty bows in their hair? I’m not going to actually start wearing pretty bows in my hair, even though I have been known to sport a tiara in public. I guess I have a year to figure out just what I mean by this and to put it into action (or not).

new year me

Happy New Year!

2015 Resolutions in Review


J.C. Schildbach, LMHC

Before I can get to that hope-inspiring, joy-filled, forward-looking task of announcing my New Year’s resolutions for 2016, it’s tradition to take a measured look at the progress made toward the resolutions of the past year.

Typically, I would have completed the task of reviewing last year’s resolutions on New Year’s Eve, but I’m starting off the New Year a day behind already, so that I can quickly dispense with any resolve to finally get on top of things.

Typically, I also would have only done this through multiple postings on other forms of social media. But, out of resolve to be ignored more efficiently across multiple social media formats, I also decided to squeeze a blog post out of it. After all, I was going to put in the work one way or the other.

father time

So, without further ado, here’s how I did with my resolutions for 2015.

Resolution 1: I resolve to increase awareness of body image issues, and promote positive body image by championing Unitard Tuesdays (UniTuesdays) at workplaces across America.

Okay, I totally overplayed my hand at this one. I’d only been at my current job for two months at the beginning of 2015. HR shut this down before I even made it into the building that first, bright, shining Tuesday of 2015. But now that I’ve got a bit more experience under my belt—a belt I won’t be wearing with my unitard—it would potentially be a good time to revisit this issue. However, I no longer work on Tuesdays. Guess I’ll have to leave this on the back burner a bit longer.

Resolution 2: I resolve to establish the ultimate matrix for determining whether a ‘Men’s Rights’ Internet account or website is a parody account, or actually intended to be serious.

I plunged into this resolution by mapping out a research strategy. By my second research session, and the seventh or eighth website comments section, I realized that comedy, much like rationality, is highly subjective. At any rate, I had to admit that I couldn’t handle that level of hilarity/unhingedness in my life. Sorry, world.

Resolution 3: I resolve to thoroughly clean the master bathroom at least once this year; the main bathroom–no promises.

A resounding, if qualified, success. I thoroughly cleaned the master bathroom at least twice during 2015, just not all at the same time. You know—sink and mirror now…toilet and floor some other day…shower yet another day. I also fully lived up to the “no promises” aspect of the resolution as it relates to the main bathroom.

Resolution 4: I resolve to get over my aversion to ‘returning’ or ‘reciprocating’ high-fives. I feel it’s completely reasonable for me to not want to engage in high-fiving anybody. I just don’t like the awkwardness of leaving anybody hanging.

An abject failure. Aversion still solidly in place. On a somewhat more positive note, though, I managed to completely avoid all but four situations wherein a high-five was expected of me.

And finally–Resolution 5: I resolve to develop some wicked-cool comb-overs and/or stock up on Ronco spray-hair–y’know, just in case.

In hindsight, it feels like I set myself up for failure here. I mean, who would’ve thought that 2015 would be the year that the hair of male presidential candidates—including an incomparable, but structurally unsound, comb-over–would become a bigger topic than the hair of female presidential candidates—especially since the election isn’t until November of 2016? That said, I did not make any investment in the Ronco spray-hair, and remained pretty conservative with the comb-over styles. If I were to compare my comb-over style to the current batch of presidential candidates, it’s pretty much a Ted Cruz, but with the basic appearance of a Carly Fiorina.

Well, it sure feels great to take stock of all that’s happened, or not happened, in the past year. The unexamined life and all that…

Stay tuned for my slightly late resolutions for 2016, and Happy New Year!

Grousing Into The Void


J.C. Schildbach, LMHC

I’m in one of those spells where everything writing-wise is coming out all wrong. It’s not writer’s block, as such. I’ve been writing—some. But I get partway into something and it ends up sounding muddled, or just heads off in its own direction.

When writing goes off in its own direction, it can be a pretty great thing—if it works or is at least interesting. Lately, though, it’s just been frustrating and boring. And all of the recent writing that’s chosen its own direction has just walked away. As in, it’s been very pedestrian.

For instance, a few weeks back, I started in on a piece about how the Fifty Shades of Grey movie promotes gross misunderstandings of human sexuality, along with committing the possibly worse sin of being bland. But what I managed to cobble together sounded almost as ill-informed as the screenplay, and nearly as tedious. Not to mention, Fifty Shades wasn’t exactly a hot topic by the time I got around to it.

Another piece on equating authenticity with a lack of personal growth came across as snobbish—and not in an entertaining way. I set it aside.

Writing on anti-Millennial stereotyping in the media led me to make generalizations nearly as pointless as the ones I was attempting to challenge.

The politically-motivated shootings at a Colorado Planned Parenthood Clinic, followed shortly thereafter by the politically-motivated mass murder in San Bernardino, might normally have prompted me to write pieces challenging pro-gun-violence myths. Instead, I squandered some of my time and energy arguing online with pro-gun-violence folks, some so completely irrational that I fear they might be Trump supporters.




…meet void.

This is not to say that the time and energy I spend writing my blog is anything other than a squandering.  It’s just one that provides me with some focus and enjoyment—or, rather, some enjoyment when I can actually focus. At some level, we all know that if we stop whatever we’re doing, the world will continue on—although we hope a part of the world might be impacted, or at least notice.

Of course, as I’m puzzling through all of this, perhaps I should mention that I got a promotion at work. I love the new role, but it came with a major upheaval in my schedule. I’m still struggling to functionally organize my time away from the job.  That said, the writing travails started to take hold before I was even offered the new position.

At base, I think it might come down to a fear that the time spent writing is wasted, or at least that its standing in the way of me getting other, more practical things done. More and more lately, the writing sessions, have ended up with frustration, leading me to move on, with the intent of doing something ‘productive.’ Unfortunately, that productivity hasn’t exactly materialized.

So for now, I’m going to go do something really productive—like stringing up Christmas lights (much later in the season than I intended) that I’ll have to take down in a few weeks’ time.

Anyway, thanks for reading.


Thanksgiving Greetings from an Ingrate, 2015


J.C. Schildbach, LMHC

I’ve got a confession to make. I’ve gone out “Black Friday” shopping. In the past. I’m all done with that now. Or maybe not. But I’m definitely not going this year.

Let me be clear. When I say that I’ve gone out Black Friday shopping, I’m not one of the lot who camps outside Walmart, intent on storming the electronics department to get one of only ten guaranteed copies of Call of Duty Special Platinum Mech War on Sesame Street Edition, or a half-price plasma…or LCD…or LED…or smart TV two inches larger than the one I bought last year. Although, to be fair, one Christmas season when I was in high school, I spent weeks obsessively calling around (yes with a landline, and using a phone book) to toy and department stores until I was able to procure a ColecoVision Entertainment system—only by placing a hold on it at a distant Toys-R-Us, said hold expiring two hours from the time it was placed.

My consumerism over the last decade or so has involved a decidedly less frantic approach than is seen on TV news stories that somehow both criticize and normalize the frenzied crush of shopping. (How shocking people are behaving this way, when we’ve been ginning them up since before Halloween!) In fact, I’ve only ever gone Black Friday shopping while visiting family in Oregon over the Thanksgiving weekend. The draw of no sales tax, combined with the basic boredom of the suburbs makes the lure of low prices at least enticing enough to get me out of the house.

But, more to the point, those shopping excursions have been a chance to spend some one-on-one time with mom. Something about it hearkens back to weekly childhood shopping trips. Mom would check the sales ads and coupons, compile the list—sorted by store and item price—and we would head out. I wasn’t particularly interested in most of the groceries beyond maybe breakfast cereal. And there was always the distinct possibility of a sibling or two coming along with their own agenda. But a chance to split off from the Safeway trip to hit the Sprouse Reitz next-door, or getting mom to swing by Kmart so I could pick up a Star Wars figure, after stopping at Hank’s for milk, ground beef, and canned soup…now that was something.

Thanksgiving trees

The Thanksgiving day view from my deck–for no real reason.

The Black Friday trips, though, haven’t turned out to be all that shopping-oriented. We’ve wandered away from more stores empty-handed than not, and with no sense of urgency or regret. One year, we went a little out of our way so I could get a copy of the PS2 game “Destroy All Humans” at a Best Buy…or maybe it was a Circuit City. At any rate, they had plenty in stock, but when mom and I saw that the line was wrapped around the inside wall of the store, then up and down a few more aisles, that $30 in savings didn’t seem so important anymore. I put the game back in its proper place on the shelf, and we moved on.

Another year, I started to get a migraine—auras and all—in the middle of a Fred Meyer. Mom fished some aspirin out of her purse, and then we went to get coffee and chat, while I mostly kept my eyes closed during that nauseating visual swirl. Our shopping trip ended early that year.

On those occasions when mom and I have ventured out, half-heartedly obeying the culture’s demands to consume, M has slept in, then stayed in bed reading. Why get up and expend that kind of energy buying things you don’t need when you’ve been graced with a day off, after all?

I suppose I should inject something of an apology here. I’m writing my Thanksgiving post about Black Friday, when I do what I can to separate out the holidays, keeping them to their own celebrations. I feel we’ve gotten to where Thanksgiving is turning into some sort of afterthought—a meal we have to get through before we can start the Christmas season in earnest. Black Friday sales now start well before Thanksgiving, too—having broken away from their assigned day.

I’ll skip the list and just say that I’ve got plenty to be thankful for this year. Unfortunately, one of those is not a Thanksgiving visit with mom–M and my work schedules won’t allow it. Of course, no trip to mom’s for Thanksgiving means no Black Friday shopping with mom, no rolling around my sort-of-hometown in a not-really quest for goods, just catching up.  I’m sad for the lack of that opportunity–but I did get to visit with mom, and my sister (who I hadn’t seen in a great, long while) earlier in the month.

This year for Thanksgiving, Ray’s Boathouse is hosting us (M, the kid, the kids’ boyfriend, and me—as well as lots and lots of strangers). Wherever you are, I hope you get a decent meal and steer clear of too much stress.

And if you’re headed out shopping over the next few days, keep it cheerful, and stay out of the news.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Halloween Upgrades, Part 4: Monster Caterpillar


J.C. Schildbach, LMHC

The idea for the monster caterpillar came from one of the kid’s drawings.  I went looking for it, but am not sure where it went.  Usually, the drawings that are used for Halloween decorations end up tacked on the garage wall somewhere or other, but it’s not there.  Nor is it in my other file of potential Halloween decorations.

As usual, the original version was done rather last minute, so the overall look was a bit rushed.  It was also made out of a partially-used piece of plywood, accounting for some of the odd shapes.  At the time I first made it, I posted a picture of it online, leading a co-worker to ask, “What is it?”  That interaction led me to be deeply concerned with higher education in the U.S.A.  If a person with an advanced degree cannot readily identify giant, house-eating caterpillars, then we are truly doomed.  But I digress.

The original, rushed version, with our vicious guard dog looking on.

The original, rushed version, with our vicious guard dog looking on.

The caterpillar needed some fresh paint, so I made it look a bit more like I originally wanted.

With some fresh paint, and our vicious guard dog nowhere to be seen.

With some fresh paint, and our vicious guard dog nowhere to be seen.

Happy Halloween!