It’s Time to Save the World

Hello from 2017, and holy shit, has the world gotten pretty bad since Jan. 20th, hasn’t it?

First of all: YES, this is bad. This isn’t normal. We are not just being overly dramatic here. Even if you are middle-class and white and think that none of this will affect you — yes, it will. Also, stop being a selfish chump, okay?

Let’s recap the last week:

First of all, our current “leadership” has moved forward with repealing the ACA, and has already started making lists of people who “don’t deserve” to have it replaced. (Not that they have a plan to replace anything anyway.)

They’ve threatened to send the military against citizens of one of our own US cities over exaggerated and untrue claims of crime stats that don’t exist. The Superintendent of the Chicago Police literally said, “I have no idea what he’s talking about.”

Let’s not forget to mention that after the Jan. 21st Women’s March(es) on all seven continents, they still proceeded with their plan to punish and directly or indirectly cause the deaths of women seeking safe, legal healthcare, both domestically and around the world.

This is on top of the fact that one of the top advisors is a white supremacist who has gleefully gone on-record as wanting to “destroy the state” and “today’s establishment”. And this guy now has access to our National Security Council. I have to say — I don’t feel very secure!

But if that wasn’t enough, they also want to build a useless wall and starve our families and friends. Or that pesky little executive order from yesterday that’s already been blocked (but the fight’s not over yet).

Protest sign that says: "First they came for the muslims and we said not today motherfucker."
Photo from: https://twitter.com/amyharvard_/status/825593307229278208

This is NOT OKAY.

Yes, this blog has historically done book reviews. If you’re about to message me and tell me to keep my political opinions to myself?

First of all: fuck you. Second of all: THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN PREPARING MY WHOLE LIFE FOR, MOTHER FUCKER.

Did you think I’d spent hours as a kid searching Goodwill for a real-life copy of So You Want to Be a Wizard? so that I could sit back and let this shit happen? Did I check the back of every closet I came to for a door to Narnia to not go in? Bullshit. Ever since Ce’Nedra fought for her armor and jumped on a horse with all of the West at her back, I’ve been preparing for this. The purpose of supernatural power is to use it to defend the defenseless. That’s what we need now.

If you’ve ever said something along the lines of, “I’d never let that happen…” about Germany in the 1930’s? THIS IS YOUR TIME. Put up or shut up time, kiddies. And if you’re sitting there reading this and thinking, “That could never happen. She’s being melodramatic”? You’re part of the problem. I’d like to say I don’t care how you voted, but I do. If you voted for this shit, or abstained from voting against this shit, you have betrayed everything the women in novels from The Wheel of Time to Discworld to a hundred others have tried to teach us. I’m ashamed of you. But there’s also time for forgiveness. I’m putting my hand out. Help carry this bag of Cheetos to Mordor and we’ll throw it in the goddamn volcano together.

So what do we do to stop this?

First of all: be the kindness you’d like to see in the world. That doesn’t mean be a doormat. You should still stand up, speak out, and punch Nazis. Compliment someone. Smile on the street — especially if it’s at a person of color. They need our support right now. Buy small gifts for those you love. Bake cookies. Recharge. Put on your own oxygen mask first.

Donate to the ACLU or Planned Parenthood, if you can. Volunteer if you can. Voice support if you can’t do anything else. These organizations are fighting for us, and they also need our support.

Go to a march. I’m seeing signs that they’re planning one for scientists and another for LGTQBIA+ folk. Watch. Listen. Be vigilant. If you can’t march, voice support for those who do. Knit a hat.

If you want more to read or to do, check out the following resources:

Indivisible

Resistance Manual

Digital Security for Protestors (EFF)

5Calls.org

Be safe, and know that you are loved and valued.

Work. Fight. Resist. Persist. Rest. Repeat.

We can do this together.

So This is What They Meant. (Sexism, Gaming, and Culture)

This morning, a link to this article appeared in my Twitter feed. (Warning: some of the replies to that Tweet are pretty rage-inducing. Click at your own risk. The article doesn’t have comments, and is fairly well written, although there is one small issue I have with it, which you will see below.)

Because sexism and gaming and the current culture surrounding both is something I care about, I read the article. I found myself nodding, agreeing. This was a good, reasonable argument written by one of the few men I’ve seen willing to speak out about something so pervasive that a whole lot of people don’t even see anything wrong.

Then, I got to the end of the article and my eyes rolled so hard they almost got stuck that way. I don’t normally read Rock Paper Shotgun. I avoid gaming sites on purpose for two reasons: 1) I don’t have the time or monetary resources to game enough that I need to be kept up to date on upcoming releases. And 2) the usual culture on gaming sites is so boobs-and-guns-and-more-boobs that I got jaded a long, long (long) time ago.

Being web-minded myself, I realize that “related posts” type algorithms don’t have the best logic sometimes. Computers are incredibly smart, but they can also be pretty dumb. So I’ll say right off: I don’t blame RPS for this section appearing at the end of their article.

No, I pretty much just chalk this up to the prevalence of the shit that women have to deal with on a daily basis. When I reached the end of the article, this is what I saw:

RPS Screenshot

 

Let me blow that up for you a bit:

RPS Cropped

 

That’s right. 4 out of 5 “More From the Web” links on an article about misogyny and how we must continue to rail against it are links to things that contribute to the problem the article is talking about. 

Again, I realize this is a screwed up computer programming thing and not at all the fault of RPS or the author of the article, but this proves the problem! Even our computers see an article about sexism and figure we probably want to read about swimsuit issues, shaving pubic hair, and brothels.

This is is a sign that something is deeply wrong with us. 

We Don’t Get to Decide

I have been all around the internet tonight, and I have some strange thoughts brewing. Thoughts of racism, misogyny, doxing, homophobia, and the abuse of power. I think it’s interesting that all of these stories have the same underlying theme: power, or the lack of it, and who gets to decide when to use it (and how).

It got kind of political at work today, you see (which is so a bad idea, I know). And while nothing really upsetting happened, it makes me sad when people I know and respect don’t hold dear the same ideals that I do. I know. It’s a basic law of the fucked-uped-ness of human nature that we can’t all agree on the sanctity of human life, or when it begins, or what to do with it once we’re here. I shouldn’t be so surprised when other people have such different values. But, oh. I am. I just can’t help it.

My basic premise, my cardinal rule, the thing I hold most near and dear is this: And it harm none, do as thou wilt. A Wiccan premise for a generally Christian girl, I know. It comes from my being so widely read, I suppose. If you aren’t breaking any laws or actively hurting another living person, I believe in my heart that your business is no one’s but yours. I don’t care what you do in your bedroom or who you’re doing it with. I don’t care what you do with your body, how you worship, or what you say in your own time. Why should I? It doesn’t affect me.

Here’s another thing, too, that most people don’t understand: No one needs my permission either. Be gay, straight, white, black, top, bottom, Christian, Muslim, Agnostic or Atheist -anything in between or any combination thereof. It doesn’t matter. Those people don’t need *my* say-so to exist. They don’t need your say-so either. No one does.

Whether we’re discussing a peaceful gay couple just trying to have a home and maybe a family, or a young woman who decides on an abortion, or a blogger posting a review of a cozy Romance or a Spy Thriller, or a Christian fundamentalist who believes whole-heartedly in their Constitutional right to own a gun. Each has the right and the ability to be a decent, loving human being who deserves to be treated decently and lovingly in return. And that’s it.

My thoughts on the articles linked above, as briefly as I can make them.

1. On Racism: My own desire to dismiss the idea of a wide-spread white conspiracy (whether planned or unintentional) as ridiculous, merely proves that even those who should know better still have issues to work through. Not even the most open-minded of us are immune when we live in the society we do. And I don’t get to decide how minorities feel about white people. Even me.

2. On Misogyny: Hits closer to home than I’d like. Even as I wanted to dismiss the article with a “Wouldn’t it be nice to be beautiful?” kind of thought, I knew that it was unjust of me. Beautiful or homely – I don’t (and men don’t) get decide how a woman feels about her own body.

3. On Doxing: This one sort of stumps me. I do believe that there is no fundamental right to privacy on the internet. I believe that what this guy did was a hideous thing and maybe he deserves what he gets. But who am I to decide? Who was Gawker to decide?I certainly wouldn’t want it to happen to me.

4. On Homophobia: One doesn’t get to decide, based on the edicts of your religion, how other people get to live their lives. Love thy neighbor. Don’t cast any stones, and Judge Not, folks. If you’re right, you can gloat in the next life. Until then, shut your pie-hole, because you don’t get to decide!

5. On One-Sided Relationships and the Abuse of Power: As a writer, you don’t get to decide how a reader connects (or doesn’t connect) to your book. Once it’s in the hands of a reader, I’m sorry, but your “baby” has grown up and has to stand on its own merits. If you’ve raised (written) it well, then hopefully it’ll do you proud. But even if it does, there’s going to be someone who hates it for no other reason than because it exists. As a reviewer, you don’t get to decide how an author responds (or doesn’t) to your review. You only get to respond to their response (or lack of response). Nothing more.

Have I pounded this in yet? You don’t get to decide for other people. YOU DON’T GET TO DECIDE FOR OTHER PEOPLE!

Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it makes  you want to scream. But we don’t get to decide for other people. We only get to decide for ourselves.

I believe that everyone has the right to a home, food, and someone to love them. I believe in a person’s right to own a gun and a woman’s right to choose. I promise you that if you shine a light out there in the dark,  I won’t leave you behind. Hi. My name is Kia, and I’m running for Queen of the World. ;oP

Right now, I’m reminding myself that I don’t get to decide who agrees with me. Or who loves me. But I’m going to post this with love, even for those who may not agree, and pray that I don’t get too many trolls on this.

Reminder: I may not get to decide what other people think, but I do get to decide which comments get posted here.

And right now, my body’s reminding me that it’s time to decide to go to bed.

XoXo,

Kia

Open Your Mind, Clenching is Bad For You

Maurice Sendak, the guy who wrote the iconic WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE died recently. It was reported today, but I’m not sure when it happened, and for the purposes of this post, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that he was an author that was beloved by a very great many people.

I liked the book. I didn’t love it the way that it is obvious that many people did, but I liked it. Ever since it was read to us in school, way back in the days of story time and laboriously hand-printing individual letters out on broad-lined paper, I’ve liked the book.

So when I mentioned briefly, over the lunch table today, I expected to hear things like, “Oh, wow. I used to really like that book.” Or, “I still love that book.” I’d have even been happy with, “I’ve never heard of him, but that sucks.” For the most part, those are the reactions I received. Except one.

This is that exchange.

“Oh, I’ve never seen that.”

“… They made a movie out of it. But it’s a book. I’m talking about the guy who wrote it. It’s a kid’s book.”

“No, I don’t read that stuff.”

“It’s a really popular kid’s picture book. They read it in school’s all the time.”

“No, really, I don’t read things like that.”

Each time, the words were said with a sneer. It was very nearly a hateful sneer, and this isn’t the first time I’ve gotten it. When I mentioned wanting to go see The Hunger Games, to see if it matched the book, I got the sneer. Whenever I mention a book I may be reading, I get the sneer. The Handmaid’s Tale? Sneer. The Avengers movie? Sneer.

The most messed up part of this is: this girl watched Twilight. But she didn’t watch it because she was a fan. She didn’t watch it because she was passionate about it. It’s obvious she watched it because it was popular and she’s a follower.

There are certain people who are so sheltered and so prejudiced in their opinions (and I’m not mentioning names here specifically because I’m not fond of libel suits and this paragraph does not necessarily relate at all to the person mentioned above, just to be perfectly clear) that they can’t see anything else. It’s such a narrow scope.

Like the girl who doesn’t read fiction because she “doesn’t believe in make believe” and only wants to hear about things that happen “in real life”. Well, good luck with all those serial killer biographies then. I’d much rather read about fantasy monsters than real ones. Like the guy who doesn’t read about vampires or zombies because “they’re stupid”, not realizing and not willing to hear that these creatures are metaphors for humanity’s own darkness. Not wanting to believe that genre fiction can say anything true or real.

Well, genre fiction is true. It’s more real most of the time then any crappy Nicholas Sparks book you could pick up. The Belgariad taught me values. The Rowan showed me that women can be more than baby-making machines — though there’s no harm in being that *and* saving the world while you’re at it. I Am Legend taught me that there’s two sides to every story. The Dark is Rising and A Wrinkle in Time taught me that science and truth and good can triumph over evil. The Wheel of Time brought me out of one of the darkest times in my life.

I could name dozens more. I bet you could too.

So all I’m saying is… If you’re one of those people who maybe wouldn’t read this or see that or enjoy whatever? Just unclench. Open your mind. Be willing to see value where maybe you didn’t expect it before. And if you want to be friends? Don’t fucking sneer at me.

Wouldn't You Like to Write a Novel Too?

“I’ve been thinking about writing a novel. But I just haven’t found the time.”

How many times have writers of all ages, ability, and publishing status heard these words or something like them*? This is probably the most irritating statement you could ever make in a writer’s presence. (At least, I can’t think of a worse one. Even a bad review is better than that.)

I am a (mostly) unpublished writer. And even I have heard this.You might as well just punch me right in the gut. It would have the same effect.

You see, writing a novel is a job. It’s a skill. It’s something that writers work very, very hard for. It’s not something one can complete in a day, or a week, or even a month**. In order to write well, one must do even more than that – a writer must complete one or two or seven or more novels before they come close to being publishing ready.

Most people believe writing is easy. And in every day life, it mostly is. Anyone can scratch out a note, make a list, or dash off an email. That lulls most ordinary people into the perception that writing a novel would be easy. It’s just a long letter, right?

Then again, I can run, but that doesn’t convince me that I could be a professional athlete. I can do a bit of 3D animation, but I wouldn’t just decide one day that I was going to go work for Pixar, either. I can tell you the symptoms of the common cold but that doesn’t automatically give me the knowledge and dedication that it takes to become a doctor. Why in the world do people remain convinced that absolutely anyone could write a novel and get it published with a wave of their hand – “if [they] only had the time”, of course?

“I could make up a great story like that, man!” Said with a snap of the fingers.And maybe you could. Far be it from me to try to crush anyone’s dreams. In fact, the first couple of times I heard this presumptuous statement, I tried to be encouraging and excited for the speaker. I pointed them toward NaNoWriMo and bestowed heartening words that I thought might help them toward their professed big dream.

After dealing with two or three of these people, though, I realized something. These people have no intentions of ever sitting down to write. They have absolutely no concept of the amount of work it takes to actually do the thing that they’re talking about. Nowadays, I just give those people a pained smile and change the subject.

It’s the equivalent of someone who knows the basics of folding a paper airplane deciding they are going to build a Boeing jet in their back yard. Yeah, they might be able to do it one day. But right now, they have no idea of the hard work, the dedication, the blood-sweat-and-tears, the money, the long hours, the putting-off-of-doing-the-dishes, the self-doubt, the despair, the thrill, the joy, the heartache, and the team of devoted professionals it takes to construct a whole new world one tiny wheel-sprocket-nut-bolt verb-adjective-noun-metaphor at a time and then to release the whole beautiful thing into the wild.

I’m not saying don’t do it. In fact, if that’s your dream, then you shouldn’t let me or anyone stop you. But please, for the sake of my sanity, don’t dismiss it as a simple, easy thing to do. It’s not.

*Rant inspired by the wise, hilarious, and read-worthy Patrick Rothfuss.

**Yes, I do know about NaNoWriMo. I love it. I have participated every year since 2004. This DOES NOT mean that your NaNovel is ready to go out on submission to agents or editors on December 1st.

Wouldn’t You Like to Write a Novel Too?

“I’ve been thinking about writing a novel. But I just haven’t found the time.”

How many times have writers of all ages, ability, and publishing status heard these words or something like them*? This is probably the most irritating statement you could ever make in a writer’s presence. (At least, I can’t think of a worse one. Even a bad review is better than that.)

I am a (mostly) unpublished writer. And even I have heard this.You might as well just punch me right in the gut. It would have the same effect.

You see, writing a novel is a job. It’s a skill. It’s something that writers work very, very hard for. It’s not something one can complete in a day, or a week, or even a month**. In order to write well, one must do even more than that – a writer must complete one or two or seven or more novels before they come close to being publishing ready.

Most people believe writing is easy. And in every day life, it mostly is. Anyone can scratch out a note, make a list, or dash off an email. That lulls most ordinary people into the perception that writing a novel would be easy. It’s just a long letter, right?

Then again, I can run, but that doesn’t convince me that I could be a professional athlete. I can do a bit of 3D animation, but I wouldn’t just decide one day that I was going to go work for Pixar, either. I can tell you the symptoms of the common cold but that doesn’t automatically give me the knowledge and dedication that it takes to become a doctor. Why in the world do people remain convinced that absolutely anyone could write a novel and get it published with a wave of their hand – “if [they] only had the time”, of course?

“I could make up a great story like that, man!” Said with a snap of the fingers.And maybe you could. Far be it from me to try to crush anyone’s dreams. In fact, the first couple of times I heard this presumptuous statement, I tried to be encouraging and excited for the speaker. I pointed them toward NaNoWriMo and bestowed heartening words that I thought might help them toward their professed big dream.

After dealing with two or three of these people, though, I realized something. These people have no intentions of ever sitting down to write. They have absolutely no concept of the amount of work it takes to actually do the thing that they’re talking about. Nowadays, I just give those people a pained smile and change the subject.

It’s the equivalent of someone who knows the basics of folding a paper airplane deciding they are going to build a Boeing jet in their back yard. Yeah, they might be able to do it one day. But right now, they have no idea of the hard work, the dedication, the blood-sweat-and-tears, the money, the long hours, the putting-off-of-doing-the-dishes, the self-doubt, the despair, the thrill, the joy, the heartache, and the team of devoted professionals it takes to construct a whole new world one tiny wheel-sprocket-nut-bolt verb-adjective-noun-metaphor at a time and then to release the whole beautiful thing into the wild.

I’m not saying don’t do it. In fact, if that’s your dream, then you shouldn’t let me or anyone stop you. But please, for the sake of my sanity, don’t dismiss it as a simple, easy thing to do. It’s not.

*Rant inspired by the wise, hilarious, and read-worthy Patrick Rothfuss.

**Yes, I do know about NaNoWriMo. I love it. I have participated every year since 2004. This DOES NOT mean that your NaNovel is ready to go out on submission to agents or editors on December 1st.

The Pen Name Kerfuffle

So I had a few thoughts on pen names and the obligation (if any) of authors to disclose that they are using such. These thoughts stem from a small controversy over a recent Locus article in which Kim Harrison, author of the best-selling Rachel Morgan/Hollows series,  revealed that the name – and much of the persona – is a nom de plume. Since the rest of this may end up not being a very nice article, I will tell you here that Kim also writes mainstream fantasy as Dawn Cook. Go look her up. I read The Decoy Princess, not knowing it was the same author, and really enjoyed it. Once you’ve done that, if you still want to hear my opinion, come on back.

Let me state plainly that my personal opinion is that those people who are accusing Kim¹ of being a liar are acting like entitled, conceited, selfish little witches². Note that I say acting like because I don’t know these people personally, so I can’t say that they ‘are’ anything. I can only base my opinion on what I’ve seen and heard of their behavior on the internet. And that behavior has been appalling.

Regardless of her reasons – which I understand to be a combination of personal family safety issues and the trends of the market³ – the use of a pen name (or not) is an author’s choice and has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of what’s between the pages. An alias can be used on a book for any of dozens of reasons, and all of them are valid. Yes, including the “she just wanted to dress up and mess with people” one.

But you know what? I don’t believe that last one of Kim at all. I’ve been following Kim’s work since Dead Witch Walking first turned up on book store shelves. I’ve watcher her interact with fans online for years and even met her in person several times. I will say I do not know her, but I feel that I have learned enough to say that Kim has been one of the kindest, most genuine authors I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting.

Now, as a (part-time, mostly unpublished) author myself, I’ve spent time drawing my own conclusions from the pen name debate. I considered using one and ultimately discarded the idea. Why? Because the truth is much too easy to find on the internet. If I someday do end up selecting a nom de guerre for marketing or other reasons, I foresee being mostly open about that fact. However, the ultimate decision is a personal one, and I would expect my fans to respect that.

I find this current trend of outrageous entitlement in regard to an author’s life and behavior appalling and offensive. We purchase their books for the stories, people. Authors are not selling us stake in their personal lives. The money we spend on the book(s) entitles us to the words on the cover and the ones between the pages and nothing more. To quote Neil Gaiman: “[Authors are] not your bitch.”

If an author wants to play Xbox 360 all day instead of writing the next book in their series, discuss their sex lives on the internet (though I don’t recommend that one) or even pretend to be someone who’s not backed up by the information on their birth certificate°, well then guess what? You don’t get a say on that. Feel free to take your diatribes off to a corner of the internet where you can kick and scream. That’s what it’s for, right? But personally attacking the author on his or her website, mailing list, Facebook page or anywhere else they have an online presence is not only disrespectful but makes you look like an idiot. One in which I will take great joy in mocking.

So jump off your high horses and try not to break your necks on the way down, my dears. Once you’ve gained your equilibrium again, come back here later this week for an article on the best new authors I’ve just read (and now you should, too).

¹ I will continue to call her Kim because that’s how I was introduced to her work.
² I’m trying to be nice, but you can insert your own word choice here, if you like. And no, I’m not talking about the kind of witches who live in the Hollows.
³ David B. Coe wrote an excellent and informative article on why market conditions may pretty much force an author to use an alias. Find it here. Which I was going to link to; but it has since disappeared from magicalwords.net.
° I will conceed one exception to this rule: books marketed as being ‘autobiographical’ which – aren’t.

Americans Do Read

People everywhere are talking about Steve Jobs’ recent comments on the Amazon Kindle:

“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is; the fact is that people don’t read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year.”

Yet business seems to be booming for those in the book publishing world. The NY Times reported that:

In 2008, book publishing will bring in about $15 billion in revenue in the United States, according to the Book Industry Study Group, a trade association.

Not such a dinosaur after all, are they Mr. Jobs? Speaking as someone who owns well over 700 books of all shapes, sizes and genres, I find it offensive that Steve Jobs thinks that Americans don’t read. My entire circle of close friends (nearly 20 people!) are all extensive readers and I have many more acquaintances who enjoy reading a book now and then– certainly more than one a year!

That’s why I plan on joining the rallying cry to prove Mr. Jobs wrong, along with everyone else who thinks as he does. See this post for more info on joining up. I’ll also be tracking my 50 books on this site. Please see my tracking page here.

If you have any comments on this, I’d love to hear them. Please consider posting a comment, some support, or a link to your own 50 book challenge.

Sacred Space: 10 Rules For The Office Restroom

Heading to the restroom at work is a necessary evil; it’s one most people can’t avoid. However, there are ways to keep this evil from becoming a blight upon your day. Here are my personal tips for making ‘rest breaks’ a better place.Restroom Etiquette

  1. Do not make personal calls from the stall. People in the room to take care of business do not want to hear yours. The person on the other line does not want to hear flushing. This rule includes talking to your friend as well as calling the credit card company, the telecommunications company, or the video store. (Yes, I have heard all of these topics discussed in the next stall over.) The worst thing is being the person in the next stall needing to flush but not wanting to be rude. My rule on this? If you’re on your cell phone in the restroom, you’ve already proven you’re rude. Flush away, people.
  2. Do not do your business standing up (ladies’ room only). The person who comes in after you does not want to sit in your DNA. No, you aren’t talented enough to do this and not make a mess. Don’t even try it. And for Pete’s sake, make it into the toilet– not all over the floor! If your cheeks are too holy to touch the seat, that’s what the thousands of paper covers are for. Use them. This is an office building, not a rock concert and there should be no alcohol involved.
  3. Wash Your Hands. (This is for men, too!) Yes, I capitalized that one on purpose. This is just gross. Don’t want to be the only person in the office next week? Then prevent the spread of the next Black Plague by washing your freaking hands before leaving. WITH SOAP. Any teenage fast food worker could tell you: Proper hand washing consists of: warm water, antibacterial soap, disposable towels, and 20 seconds of scrubbing. Sing ‘Happy Birthday‘ twice if you have to. Just don’t do it out loud.
  4. No conversing through stall walls. This one is mostly broken by the ladies. There is a time and a place to gossip. This is not it. Not only is it revolting to be speaking with someone while doing #1, (Let alone #2!) but you never know who’s in the last stall listening in. It’s only smart to keep your conversations somewhere you can guarantee they’ll stay private.
  5. Brushing your teeth. The jury’s still out over whether this is a faux pas or not; but one thing is clear. Rinse the damn sink when you’re finished. This isn’t your personal bathroom, and the next person who comes in doesn’t want to stare at your used up toothpaste. Blech.
  6. Don’t spray buckets of perfume/cologne all over. Yes, we know what you’re trying to cover up. No, it’s not working. Sometimes, the perfume smells worse than what you were trying to hide. Not to mention that you have to spray a gallon of the stuff to make a dent, and by that time, the next person to come in ends up with an allergy-triggered migraine for the rest of the damn day. (Yes, that’s ME!)
  7. Follow the unspoken placement rule. This is an undocumented guideline. Count how many stalls there are. Four? Five? The last two are always used for… ‘longer downloads’. The first two or three are normally used for quick visits. This is adjusted, of course, based on current occupancy. As the saying goes, “If you gotta go, you gotta go.” If you must, take whats available; but try to keep this small piece of etiquette in mind.
  8. Leave your coffee mugs and water bottles outside. There’s nothing more disgusting then bringing something you put in your mouth into the space where you do your business. It may be one thing to do it at home, when you can be relatively certain of cleanliness; but at the office? How do you know the cleaning crew got around to wiping down that ledge below the mirror?
  9. Clean up after yourself. If you dribble on the seat, wipe it up. If you drop a paper towel pulling one from the dispenser, pick it up. Please don’t leave tampon wrappers on the floor. Each stall has a waste bag for that for a reason. Some of us like to pretend that we’re not stepping into a cesspool and risking our health every time we need to pee. Help maintain the illusion but not leaving anything disgusting behind.
  10. All users are created equal. What does this mean? It means your direct supervisor, the department head, and the company president (or anyone in between) probably does not want to chit-chat with you while they’re taking care of their own business. In this space, all people are created equal. Unless one of your superiors speak to you first, smile and nod and keep your trap shut. Do your flattering in the meeting room; not the restroom. Your boss(es) will thank you.