Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Stick Family Haters, Go Home


If you hate stick figure families sooooo much that you're prompted to rant about it online, you really ought not be on the road.  From the depths of passion I've seen in posts, blogs, and articles, it's clear that the mere sight of something honest, gentle, and (yes) harmless to you is enough to make you apoplectic with rage.  You are a danger to yourself and to your fellow drivers.  So... just go home.  Sit in your dark, dingy little apartment or condo, or pull down the blinds in your bright, well-lit residence to make it suitably depressing, wear plenty of black or several-day-old jeans and sweats, and brood into your beer about how stupid everyone else is and how smart you are because you don't put vinyl window clings on your back car window.  If that makes you happy, more power to you.

When I see things on cars that I don't like - and believe me, there are PLENTY - I roll my eyes.  I grumble to a real flesh and blood person:  Look at that loser.  What a thing to say on a bumper sticker.  Can you believe these idiots these days?  Whoa.  Someone has ISSUES.  This one may have more than issues... he's got a subscription!

And then... I get over it, and generally forget all about it until the next idiot cuts me off.

I like stick families.  They make me happy to see - even the ones with questionable skill in the artwork department.  The world is far too full of darkness and factionalizing and haters; stick figures are gentle and often funny.  Even the kinder parodies make me smile - the "abducted by aliens" family says to me, "Now, this is one unique family..." not "Now, here's someone who hates stick families."  I like feeling like I kinda-sorta-know the person in front of me by looking at their back window... "Hah - look at that, a little football player and little cheerleader.  Not my style, but hey...  Oh, isn't that awesome - a Star Wars loving family!  May the force be with you!"  Bumper stickers or magnets don't do the same thing - they're often too harsh, even mean.

Which isn't to say I rushed right out to get my family "sticked."  I wouldn't put any old generic stickers on my car, because we're not any old generic family.  I looked long and hard to find one that let me get my own hair almost right, and offered a hiker figure for my nature-loving husband, a book lover for me, and a superhero for my son (who at that time wanted to wear his cape everywhere.)  Let me take a moment to counter the usual "arguments" against putting stick families on cars.

1.  They're pedophile magnets, and will get your kids abducted.

Sorry, but no.  I don't think anyone should be putting NAMES under the figures - I guess I could agree a little with the above statement in that case - but mostly, the "you're a bad parent if you put your child's stick figure on a car" contingent clearly knows nothing about child abduction or molestation.  Strangers are the least likely person to harm your child - it's sad, but it's true.  Children are far more likely to be abducted or molested by a family member or family friend, who (presumably) already knows the child's name and interests.  In all the cases linked to child abduction and molestation I've read about or heard about on the news, not one has ever been linked to car stickers.  Argument debunked.

2.  They're just rubbing it in the world's face that the driver is an affluent family patriarch or matriarch.

Um, sorry, not quite.  I put my stickers on my car because I wanted to celebrate my family's uniqueness - to say, This is us.  We Belong Together.  We're not affluent.  I doubt anyone is envious of me and my socioeconomic status... we've got it better than some, but we're nowhere near the image of "upper middle class."  If people think that by putting a sticker on my car I'm lording it over them that I have a child and they don't... won't those same people be gnashing their teeth when I walk or skip into WalMart with my smiling, happy son, his hand snugly in mine?  Or when we sit together over a shared snack at Subway, giggling at our own little jokes?  I admit - I sometimes do think (or hope) that people may look enviously at my wonderful, well-behaved little guy, but I know that's mostly delusional pride.  But stickers?  Nope.  Not trying to say anything more than, "My family matters more to me than snarky, sarcastic bumper stickers or political taglines do, so that's what I'm putting on my car."

And as for "affluent" - isn't the type of car you drive more a symbol of your financial status?  I don't see too many Hummers parked outside the Dollar Store, for example.  How about where you shop?  If you hate people who have more money than you do (and I admit, I do fall victim to this more often than I'd like to), you really need to avoid places like the parking lot of Whole Foods.  If shopping THERE regularly doesn't mean you're financially stable and don't care who knows it, I don't know what does.

3.  Oh, come off it - they're just so ANNOYING!  I absolutely HATE them!  WHY do people do this?  WHY?

Let's sit down for a moment and I'll put on my best Mister Rogers voice so we can have a Special Chat.  Friend, there will ALWAYS be people and events in this world that annoy you.  It's not a happy thing.  And sometimes, things that make other people happy will make you very UNhappy.  For me, people getting drunk for recreation and smoking pot and doing other drugs makes me very sad indeed.  I feel sorry for these people, because I know there are better ways to make yourself happy in this life, and I worry that they might somehow do harm to me and my family if they get behind the wheel under the influence.  But if I go around ranting about it... will I change their minds?  No.  Will I make myself happier?  No.  So I have to sit back and say, There are some things in the world that I don't like, but I can't change them myself.  And as long as those other things don't hurt me or my family and friends... I guess it's probably not worth getting upset over.  Try saying that to yourself when you see those stick figures.  "Annoying to me?  Yes.  Harmful to me?  Nope.  Oh well.  I guess I could put an anti-stick family sticker on my car... I liked that Cthulu one I saw... but then I'd have to spend money on it, and it's REALLY not worth spending money on... so I'll pass you, Mrs. Stick Family Driver, when it's safe to do so.  And maybe, I'll get myself an ice cream to cheer myself up."

Feel any better?  Probably not.

But I do.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Blog Your Book?

I'm trying to process, bit by bit, an article in Writer's Digest about the new trend - blogging your book.  The premise is that many books that have been published recently started as blogs, so that this is a viable way for a new writer to find an audience and prove his or her worth to a potential publisher.

I'm not so sure how I feel about this.  Part of me finds it blissfully logical - of COURSE!  If you have something to say, and if you can say it well and clearly enough to earn that audience through blogging, a publisher is far more likely to see your worth... after all, dedicated blog followers will buy a printed book, particularly if it has additional content not found online.  Right?

The other part of me recoils.  Isn't this just a step above - or, perhaps more accurately, to one side - from self-publishing?  And... well, there's that whole idea of "if you can get the milk for free, why buy the cow?"  Not to mention the P-word.  PLAGIARISM.  These days, it's hard to teach kids - even college age kids - that just because you found it online, it doesn't mean it's free for the taking. 

I'm thinking of dipping my toe into the water... I've got my master's project, a very audience-specific book manuscript, and haven't been able to find a publisher.  I really don't want to self-pub.  So... I'll try blogging it.  If you're a teacher and you love animals, this blog will be for you - Critters in the Classroom.  I'll also be shamelessly begging for help getting the word out about it - you have been warned.  And I'll blog here about the progress. 

Commence experimentation.

Links to Book Blogging for the Curious: