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“Atheist” =/= “Alien” October 10, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, career, friends, issues.
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14 comments

The workplace gives me a good bird’s eye view of how people in my country see atheists. There’s the weird “I was gonna tell you something but now I’m not because you might get offended” reaction, for one. And lately I’ve been more open about religion to more people. Luckily, the reaction’s not Bible Belt bad, it’s just an amusing sort of cluelessness. “What is this strange creature they call ‘atheist’?”

Gary (whom I now find really annoying and creepy): “Did you hear about the — oh wait, you’re an atheist…”
TA: “Dude, we’re not hateful misanthropes who can’t take a joke. I like Altar Boyz and the occasional Lifehouse song, and Judd Apatow anti-Semitism references. People act so weird around you once they know you’re an atheist.”
George (nebbish guy that I’m sort of crushing on): “You’re an atheist, TA?”
TA: “Er, yeah. You scared?”
George: “No, I just didn’t know.”
Anne: “Ah, your religion is atheist?” (to others) “Hey, TA’s religion is atheist!”

Like bald is a hair color, as many would say.

TA: “Just tell the damn joke already. I’m not easily offended.”
Gary: “So, there’s this very smart, atheist professor, who would challenge his class with arguments about how God does not exist…”
TA: (tries hard not to groan) “Does this involve a piece of chalk and whether or not it breaks?”
Gary: “Well, it’s an egg…”

Again, I’m not easily offended, but he had to pick the one joke that specifically targeted my beliefs and claimed that some stupid coincidence disproves everything I believe in? Somebody hand this guy the Idiot’s Guide to Interacting with People.

Bern: “Yeah, my girl and I are having some issues, especially when it comes to religion.” (note: he’s Catholic, she’s…some smaller sect of Christianity)
TA: “Heh, you said it. It’s doubly hard for people like me.”
Bern: “Why, what religion are you?”
TA: “I’m an atheist, actually.”
Bern: “Oh! Where’s your church located?”

So yeah, sometimes it’s easier to just not bother bringing it up, because it gets fairly tedious to have to spell everything out for everybody.

It still beats the Bible Belt, though. Better cluelessness than bigotry and hatred.

By the way, did I mention that Gary is really annoying and creepy? Have you ever experienced having a friend of the opposite sex, who you really want to tell to stop fucking touching you, but you can’t because you don’t wanna make it weird? I mean, it’s not like they’re caressing your tits or anything, but the constant touches on the shoulder or forearm, or high-fives are beginning to seriously piss you off because you’re just not a touchy-feely kind of person, except when it’s a serious, crying-your-eyes-out issue, or if it’s from someone you dig (like when George touches my hair, I totally don’t mind).

Luckily, Gary’s quitting next month, so I just have to keep my distance for a little longer.

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Yes, my atheist life is this boring. August 9, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, career, issues, rants.
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26 comments

Excuses on why I haven’t posted in about a month now:

  1. Religion is no longer something I want to discuss with my parents. (However, I get more and more resentful that I have to sit and wait while they pray before dinner. At least I have breakfast and lunch elsewhere, and with co-workers who, while religious, don’t shove their beliefs in my face.)
  2. Workplace drama isn’t all that interesting. It’s mostly bitchy co-workers making rumors about me, like I’m fucking my married boss, et cetera. Tedious.
  3. I don’t have much time to go online, and when I do I’m usually feeding my crush on Steven Weber and Casey from Make Me a Supermodel. (He’s a Buddhist! He thinks that “the whole peace and love thing is, like…awesome”! Is it weird that I find that totally sexy?)

Now, I did mention that workplace drama isn’t all that blog-worthy, but I’ve experienced some new, weird reactions to my admitting my atheism.

Once, I was talking about a dire-but-funny situation with Gary, 36, and for some reason he asks…

Gary: “So, are you a Catholic or a Born Again Christian?”

TA: “Atheist, why?”

Gary: “Oh, never mind.”

TA: “No, really, why were you asking?”

Gary: “It’s nothing.”

Then just yesterday, I was walking home with Marc, 28, and we were talking about his close encounter with a different married boss whom he’s crushing on big-time.

Marc: “Are you a Catholic, or…?”

TA: “Atheist.”

Marc: “Oh okay, nevermind.”

TA: “Why?”

Marc: “No, I was just asking.”

It’s weird how they get eerily quiet about it, like there was a joke they wanted to tell you but they refrained from it because people of your “kind” probably wouldn’t get it. What does this reaction even mean? It’s good that they’re not going into some idiotic argument about how I should see the light or whatever, but are they scared to offend me now? I like offensive jokes as much as the next guy. Take this hilarious skit from Judd Apatow and friends.

…Man, I love me some Jews. (And Justin Long! Woohoo!)

On the tangent of interesting things I found on the Intarwebz, I’d been Googling Christian Bale since watching him in The Dark Knight (unpopular opinion: I liked Heath Ledger’s Joker, but my favorite performance in that movie was Aaron Eckhart as Two-Face). Much digging led to my discovery of a full recording of the less successful of Todd Haynes’ two rock-star-inspired films,Velvet Goldmine.

Now, the movie itself wasn’t the greatest thing ever, but it was definitely interesting, and worth watching just for Ewan McGregor’s brilliant turn as the Iggy Pop avatar Curt Wild. He was a revelation! I’d been “eh” about him before, but after seeing the awesomeness that is Curt Wild, I am all over this boy. Plus, he’s one of the very few men who look hot in platinum blond hair and guyliner. Is anyone else as psyched to see I Love You Phillip Morris as I am?

Check out his rocktastic take on “TV Eye” (warning: NSFW!):

Velvet Goldmine had me as wistful as Christian Bale’s character in the movie, even though I wasn’t even alive in the 70’s. It was more centered around the sexual freedom of the era, which made me sad in realizing the truth: that we’d experienced a regression since then. Whatever happened to the days when being gay or bisexual was cool?

And then I get to thinking, was it easier to be an atheist back then, as well?

Wordy ruminations July 9, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in career, family, friends, issues, teen angst.
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4 comments

T.A. – sleep + unlimited internet access + 1 week paid leave = tedious, lengthy diatribe on “my thoughts, let me show you them.”

Taken from an e-mail exchange with Holy Prepuce:

If at some point in your upbringing you bought into the Catholic idea of a heaven or resurrection (i.e. that our conscious selves survive death and perhaps even live forever), was it difficult to come to terms with the loss of this belief?

It wasn’t difficult for me, I found it to be a breath of fresh air. I’ve always been a very inquisitive and imaginative child, so even at a very young age, I’d read the Bible (Revelations was my favorite part; I’m weird that way) and think, “What if this is just really tedious fiction?” The more I thought about it over the years, the more absurd I found the whole concept. Virgin births, talking bushes, life after death? Really?

I remember going through a very difficult time when nobody in the house would even speak to me, and I thought, “Well, at least God’s there for me. If I just keep praying, He’ll help me through this.” I realized much, much later on that God wasn’t doing shit, because what help did he provide, other than maybe sitting there, hearing my prayer and going “Mm-hmm”? I pray, and nothing happens. Nothing’s ever happened my whole life that was a result of a strong faith. It wasn’t God that helped me through that time, it was my own imagination.

Religious leaders scare people into remaining faithful with talk of eternal damnation and other horrific consequences. And the more you devote to the religion, the more you want it to be real, because you grow increasingly reliant on it, and it does seem like such a nice concept. So, despite a lack of evidence that what they believe in is real, religious people don’t want to question it because they don’t want to open up another can of worms when the alternative, turning a blind eye, is so much easier, especially when everyone around you is just as blind as you are.

As for my Predominantly Catholic Country in general, most atheists here come to that realization in college (I have yet to meet anyone who was raised atheist over here!). For instance, Carl became an atheist in the middle of a college course dissecting creation versus evolution. I think this trend exists because in college, the power of influence shifts from the parents to the peers and teachers, so people start to consider all sorts of options — beliefs, orientations, what-have-you.

The whole “college self-discovery” thing is a transition I never experienced or had to experience, probably as a result of my poor relationship with my parents, my natural inquisitiveness, my rebellious nature, and a hefty dose of introspection.

In short, I’m really weird.

But it’s always seemed to me that denial of mortality was one of the primary motivators for religious belief, even in the face of strong contrary evidence for the claims made–so finally accepting that we are not immortal has to be one of the defining moments of a a theist’s “conversion” to atheism.

That’s definitely true for a lot of Catholics. My philosophy about it has always been, I want to live in the now, and live the way I want to. Why would I be banished to hell or thought of as an evil person or a bad follower if I decided to eat a cheeseburger in Lent? It’s my life, and that cheeseburger looks pretty damn tasty!

I find it to be a terrible waste of life not to enjoy yourself because you’re waiting for the next life, which God promises will be much better. I see my life the same way I see my job, I suppose: I don’t ever want to fall out of love with it. I don’t want to settle just because there’s going to be something better later on, because I don’t want to be looking for something better in the first place.

I found this wonderful quote from Lance Armstrongย that sums it up pretty nicely: “Quite simply, I believed I had a responsibility to be a good person, and that meant fair, honest, hardworking, and honorable. If I did that, if I was good to my family, true to my friends, if I gave back to my community or to some cause, if I wasn’t a liar, a cheat, or a thief, then I believed that should be enough. At the end of the day, if there was indeed some Body or presence standing there to judge me, I hoped I would be judged on whether I had lived a true life, not on whther I believed in a certain book, or whether I’d been baptized. If there was indeed a God at the end of my days, I hoped he didn’t say, ‘But you were never a Christian, so you’re going the other way from heaven.’ If so, I was going to reply, ‘You know what? You’re right. Fine.'”

Also, tell me about life as a teenage atheist in your country…

I’m getting more comfortable with it now, as compared to back in September when I started the blog. ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t proclaim my godlessness to everyone, but I can reply honestly to anyone who asks without even batting an eyelash. Reactions vary (it’s usually a polite smile, followed by a change of topic), though thankfully none as violent as my parents’ reaction. It’ll always be the pink elephant in the room with them. I wonder what it’ll be like when my brother goes to college… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Let’s make things easier on all of us by not telling me anything May 6, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, career, issues, teen angst.
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18 comments

M’kay? Seriously, this office is TMI Central. I’m just a kid, let me flounce around in my weirdo outfits and devil-may-care grin without having the weight of your problems on my shoulders. Don’t you hate it when people tell you shit without you asking for it?

Just when I’d forgotten about my problems with Carl and Mrs. Carl (he quit, by the way — and oddly enough, I kind of miss him), Nikki comes into the picture with an issue of her own.

22-year-old Nikki (named after, yes, the song “Darling Nikki”) is the girl in your office who will stop at nothing to draw attention to herself. Some will be greatly annoyed (dude, nobody likes Nikki), while others, like me, only feel sorry for her. Just some silly girl with a histrionic personality disorder, is all. She’s essentially the office whipping girl, to the point that it drove her to tears once.

Still, it’s not like the derision is completely unfounded. Nikki would proclaim to anyone who asked that she used to model on the catwalk (still does part-time, supposedly), and everyone else would be like “…Really?” And I’d be one of those people. I’m not trying to be mean here, but Nikki, who might be model-ish from the neck down, is Broomhilda from the neck up. No kidding. She’s all splotchy and blemished and crooked-nosed, the kind of ugly that isn’t even modelesque ugly but just plain ugly ugly. She also brags about having expensive clothes, but when you ask her which outlet she got it from, she takes ten seconds to respond and then gives a wrong answer (read: she’s making it up). Nikki is the annoying kind of person who wants everyone to think she’s well-off, but it’s clear to everyone that she’s, well, not.

Let’s get one thing straight, though: unlike many of my co-workers, Nikki is not a bitch. The girl means well, she’s just a little off her rocker.

One day after hours, everyone else has gone home and it’s just me and Nikki, so I chat with her because I’m not picky about who I befriend. I’ll talk to whoever approaches me. She confessed that the pressure of everyone talking about her behind her back was really getting to her, particularly the latest gossip that she’s supposedly going out with one of our bosses, Kyle, even though he already has a girlfriend.

Now, weeks before my one-on-one with Nikki, I’d already spoken to some of my other (admittedly bitchy) officemates about her. One of them told me the whole situation, explaining that Nikki had a huge crush on Kyle and was now lying to people by claiming that they were in some secret relationship.

Back to where I left off, Nikki was like, “I can’t believe people would make up stuff like that, just for fun.” As a target of their rumor-mongering myself (I apparently have relationships with a couple of the bosses and several of my guy officemates), I just shrugged and explained that it was their nature to do that kind of thing.

Half an hour later, we’re standing outside the building, and she asked, “TA, are you good at keeping secrets?”

“Sure, yeah.”

“I have to tell you something,” she confessed. “But you have to swear not to tell anyone.”

“I won’t.”

She got this weird expression on her face. “…It’s true.”

(more…)

Varying degrees of condescension March 3, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, career, issues, rants, teen angst.
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24 comments

This is steadily rocketing up to the top of my Statements That Annoy Me the Most list, simply because I hear it almost every single fucking day now from various co-workers:

You’ll understand when you’re older.

Like when I told Gina, 34, that I was planning on being one of those never-gonna-get-married types, like Oprah or Susan Sarandon. “You’re still young, you’ll understand the importance of settling down and getting married when you’re older.” Or when I told Stella, 45, that I loved this job too much to quit and go back to college like everyone else (her included) tells me to. “You’re still young, you’ll understand the importance of education when you’re older.” (I get it just fine, retard, I just want to get used to my job first and then go back to college when I feel ready.) And I’m the only one in the office who gets this crap thrown at me, because I’m apparently the wunderkind there. Whenever I’m introduced by co-workers to new people, it’s never just “This is my officemate, TA.” It always, always has to be, “This is my officemate, TA. She’s only 18!”

I wouldn’t even be entirely surprised if I profess to being an atheist and somebody replies, in that preachy, sanctimonious way that I hate so very much, “You’re still young, you’ll realize the existence of God when you’re older.”

It’s like 18-year-olds are completely incapable of making their own huge-ass decisions. These moments just make me want to stand on my desk and scream, “I’m eighteen, not fucking five!”

This is why I felt a little sad about having to cross Carl off my list of friends; even though he was kind of annoying anyway, he was one of the few people who treated me like an equal, not some little kid who needed wiser, older people to show her the ways of the world.

It all goes back to what I said before: Patronize us, and we’ll be equally patronizing right back at you. Make us feel smart, and we’ll take everything you say to heart.

Then again, maybe it’s just my hyper-bloated ego? I mean, I feel like I’m ten times smarter than these assholes, anyway (dude, Annie’s 27 and acts like she’s 12, and even she gives me that “when you’re older” horse shit), and they just feel the need to be all preachy with me because they want to make themselves feel superior to someone. Hell, I even think I’m smarter than my parents, so there you go.

I mean, do my co-workers also expect me to address them as “Ma’am” and “Sir” just because they’ve got ten years on me? (Our company has a “First name basis” policy, which also applies when talking to to superiors.) As long as Dipshit McFuckface and I are working in the same position, doing the same things for the same amount of money, he has no right to expect special treatment from me. It’s ageist. (Not that I’m not ageist myself, but anyway.)

Mind you, this little problem is not driving me to the brink, though. Yet. I’m perfectly willing to suffer the crap, if only for the equal amount of “Wow, you must be really smart then!” comments I get from people. Because like I said, I have a ginormous ego.

An anonymous letter I would like to send February 19, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in career, friends, issues.
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34 comments

Yeah, I don’t know if I’m actually going to send this, but I do want to. Only, I don’t really want to be responsible for fucking up other people’s relationships. I’m torn.

Aaaanyway.

Dear Mrs. Carl,

You do not know who I am. In the interest of keeping my job and maintaining a good rapport with all my co-workers, I’d like for it to stay that way.

I have some information regarding your husband Carl that I would like you to know about. Bear in mind that this is not an attempt to get his goat; Carl is actually my friend, or at least was my sort-of-friend until he told me about what he’d been doing behind your back. I refuse to associate myself with men like him. I am telling you this because I think that you deserve better than a cheating scumbag of a husband, and a man like Carl does not deserve a faithful wife and loving kids. Karma will strike him sometime, and if I have to be the catalyst, then so be it.

After work, a group of co-workers, Carl and myself included, hung out at a nearby bar and had drinks. I’d always seen Carl as a kind-hearted family man, and thus was quick to befriend him, and apparently he trusted me enough to tell me that he has been cheating on you for the entire ten years that you two have been married.

Anonymous: “How many girls?”
Carl: “Three.”
Anonymous: “How many of these were serious relationships?”
Carl: “Err, all of them?”
Anonymous: “Absolutely no one-night stands?”
Carl: “What? One-night stands don’t count!”
Anonymous: “God damn it. How many one-night stands, then?”
Carl: “I’ve lost track.”

Carl told me that he loves you, and the kids, but it’s a “man” thing to have many mistresses, supposedly, and the sad truth is that in this country, being a philanderer even if you’re married is considered something to brag about. I certainly don’t approve of this, and I doubt you would either.

Your husband is also a horrible sexist.

Anonymous: “What if you found out that your wife was cheating on you?”
Carl: “I’d leave her. …Wait, maybe I’d ask her if she wanted to work things through, but it would definitely be a problem.”

Because cheating is a “man” thing to do.

A huge part of me wishes that he’d never told me about it in the first place, because now I am saddled with this huge burden, and I’d feel guilty if I didn’t tell you. Everyone I’ve asked, save for one, said that it was none of my business and that I shouldn’t stick my nose where it doesn’t belong, but the one person who disagreed with them insisted that by telling me all of this information, Carl had made it my business.

Frankly, I don’t have any advice for what you should do with this knowledge. Were this America, I’d advise you to sue the bastard for all he’s worth, but sadly, circumstances differ where you and I live. All I know is that you deserve much, much better, and I hope that no matter what happens, you are able to realize that. Please look for something better. Don’t settle for this piece of shit, because it’s this attitude among the women of our country that allows cheating husbands to be so prevalent and hailed here. It’s not right. Please don’t let him get away with this.

Sincerely,

An anonymous co-worker of Carl’s

Okay, I’m probably not going to send it. I don’t think she’d be likely to believe some anonymous letter, anyway. The issue, however, and the information I have on my hands, is seriously making me feel guilty for not doing something to right the situation.

The world is shallow. Trufax. February 16, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, career, issues.
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15 comments

[Apologies in advance for the number of non-atheism-related posts recently. If I limited my blog to experiences pertaining to my beliefs, this blog would be waaay thinner. This is most likely because I haven’t interacted much with my sanctimonious, preachy Mother Dearest since I started working, and god damn it, I love working!]

I realized in the fourth grade, while pondering on the ways of the world with a couple of friends, that anyone who claims that “Looks don’t matter” is a fucking liar. Of course they matter, and I honestly don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

Little Steve: “All that counts is what’s on the inside.”

Little TA: “Well, it counts for something, but I wouldn’t want to marry a guy whose face I don’t really want to see first thing in the morning.”

We were strange children. Hee.

When I say looks matter, I don’t mean that we should only go for the Adonises of the world, because that’d leave a helluva lot of lonely people. I only mean that it’s natural for people to want to be with those whom they are attracted to. Appearances are not the end-all-be-all, but they certainly do matter. Not just in romance, but in all sorts of interactions: from my experience, people are nicer to me if I wear something pretty and show a little leg.

In case you were wondering, I’m discussing this because an experience this past week had me thinking about how shallow I truly am. The experience happened on Wednesday morning, with 50-something divorcee Murray.

Before I continue, let me give you a brief description of Murray, whom I’d mentioned in my last post as the co-worker who gave an unsolicited lecture to me and fellow atheist Carl. That TL;DR moment aside, Murray and I had a pretty good friendship going, with an Opie-and-Cool-Older-Guy dynamic. In terms of looks, since that’s the topic, Murray is, well…old. And pretty gross-looking. (Hey, I never said I wasn’t shallow.)

I showed up on Wednesday wearing faded jeans and a fitted black Pearl Jam t-shirt with a low neckline; I’d taken to it with a pair of scissors because the collar was tattered. It showed off my ta-tas pretty nicely, although that wasn’t my reason for wearing it — I just really liked Pearl Jam.

Right as I walked into the office and sat down at my desk, Murray went “Woooo, someone’s looking hot today!” complete with the touch-your-skin-while-making-a-sizzling-noise gesture. Which, okay, it’s always nice to hear that you look good, but this was bordering on creepy. I’m fucking eighteen, dude, watch your boundaries.

I tried not to let the comment bother me too much, or affect my rapport with Murray, but I ended up avoiding him for the rest of the week. I think he took the hint, and he didn’t try to say anything like that again, limiting it to a “You look nice today.” It’s kind of a shame, because no matter how you slice it, that’s still one less friend for me in the workplace. (Oh well, he was kind of annoying, anyway.)

It was after that incident that I started thinking about whether or not I was overreacting or being superficial. If, for instance, it were Gay Friend Mikey or Platonic Soulmate Ray who made that remark, I wouldn’t have been bothered by it. Hell, even though he’s still got a good 15 years on me, if Totally Doable Boss Mr. McKenzie grabbed my ass and whispered dirty things in my ear, I’d have nodded, grinned, and locked the door behind us.

But since it was gross, old Murray, it bugged the heck out of me. It’s like that one SNL skit with Tom Brady, where he was in a 50’s-style PSA on sexual harassment, which included this awesome bit:

3 Rules of Avoiding a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

1. Be attractive.

2. Be handsome.

3. Don’t be unattractive.

Funny but true.

Overall, I was a little shaken by what happened, but I’m not going to let pervy comments or lascivious stares affect the way I dress. I’ll wear whatever the hell I want to, thank you very much, and if you can’t keep your comments (positive or negative) to yourself, then I hope you won’t mind if I avoid you for a while.

Ah, the workplace. I learn something new every day.

TA would hit it (she totally would) February 10, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, career, friends.
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17 comments

Just finished my first week of work, and it was hella fun. Yay, me!

I met all sorts of interesting people at work. There’s my semi-cute, early-30’s boss, Mr. McKenzie, who doesn’t really make my heart race when I see him (plus he kind of has a beer gut), although I’d still hit it. I’d totally hit it. I’ve never had that phrase repeated so often in my head in one week. Whenever he’s got his back turned and I’m checking out his butt, I’m like, “I’d hit it.” When my co-workers squeal about how gorgeous he is, I’d say, “He’s not that hot, but I’d hit it.” Haven’t you ever encountered that kind of person? You know s/he’s totally wrong for you, and maybe isn’t even your type, but you’d still tap that ass given the chance. I’ve only experienced that kind of thing with McKenzie and with a former teacher of mine, Mr. Dexter, who somehow managed to be a Catholic and a Wiccan at the same time. He was weird, pale and spindly, but still kind of hot. Don’t ask me why.

McKenzie picks on me a lot because I’m the Opie of the workplace, but I’m handling it pretty well. I think McKenzie and I would have been good friends under other circumstances, but since he’s my boss, I find him just a little bit intimidating.

Back to the co-workers: fat, condescending uber-bitch Judy. I took this job knowing that people would probably underestimate me because I’m at least a decade younger than everybody else, but Judy is in a class all her own. She’s twice the bitch on the outside that I am on the inside, and that’s saying a lot, because you all know I’m a total bitch inside. I tried to be friendly towards her, but she’d raise an eyebrow and then turn her back on me. Whatever, nobody else likes her, anyway. Maybe she’s just jealous because she’s a 29-year-old college grad who’s earning the same amount as a dumb teenager fresh out of high school? Hee.

We have Annie, 27, sweet but slightly clueless. I spend most of my time with her, I guess because she was the first to approach me when I was new to the workplace. I sort of have to dumb myself down when I talk to her, but I don’t mind too much. It’s nice to not have to be on my toes all the time.

Ray, 24, brings out the inner dork in me, which is why I love hanging out with him. In the middle of work, we’d jump out of our seats and sing showtunes to each other! He’s the Jim to my Pam, if you remove the underlying romantic tension from the equation.

If all goes well, then Mikey, 28, will soon be my Gay BFF. Tee-hee. We like all the same things, and we get along great. He’s the only guy in the office whom I feel is on my level, intellectually.

Then there’s Carl, a kind father of two in his mid-thirties who sits next to me at work. I don’t know how the discussion came to religion, but it did, and when he told me he was an atheist, I breathed a huge sigh of relief, told him I was an atheist too, and then high-fived him. (What? It’s hard to find fellow atheists here!) Unfortunately, Murray, the mid-50’s guy who sits behind us, overheard the conversation and wheeled his chair over to share his thoughts on God and faith. I know he meant well, but it was incredibly TL; DR, and I spent most of that monologue trying not to space out. To make things worse, it was an “I used to be an atheist, but…” story. “But then I decided that logic just wasn’t for me.” (Okay, it was “But then my mom got cancer.” At least it’s an interesting twist to the whole “My mom got cancer so I became an atheist” story.)

It’s another annoying habit that theists have. It happened to me before when I had dinner with Joe, a hugely irritating friend-of-a-friend. I was telling him about my rocky relationship with my family and how horrible they are to me just because I’m an atheist. From out of nowhere, he starts preaching to me about “it’s not really about God, it’s about love” and blah blah fishcakes, and I just nodded and smiled even though I was thinking, “Guh, what? Worst date ever.”

I don’t know what compels someone to do it, but whenever I say that I’m an atheist, a believer who happens to hear me will suddenly go into a looooong sermon on the tenets of Catholicism or whatever. I hate to break it to you guys, but theists? We usually don’t care. Well, I’m speaking for myself, anyway. You’re not going to convert me by saying something long and boring about a topic I don’t give a flying fuck about, when we could instead be talking about something interesting, like rock music.

Murray’s actually my friend, and I like the guy, but once he was out of earshot, I whispered to Carl, “This is exactly why I don’t tell everybody I meet that I’m an atheist.”

Carl: “Agreed.”

Act your age January 30, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in backstory, career, issues, rants, teen angst.
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While waiting at the clinic for my pre-employment medical exam, I met Janice, a 45-year-old fellow applicant who had three kids, all older than I am. (Most of my co-workers are in their mid-20’s to mid-40’s. Am I intimidated? Naaah.)

Like many other fellow applicants, as well as a couple of the folks at HR, Janice was shocked to find that I was only 18 and hadn’t even set foot in college yet.

Janice: “What about your studies?”

TA: “I’ll probably have to put that on hold in order to fully focus on this job. I’m taking it seriously, because this is something that I think I could really flourish in.”

Janice: “Sweetie, let me offer you some advice. I’ve got three girls, and my youngest is 20, so you’re already like a daughter to me.” (TA’s note: Whoa! Overstepping the boundaries a little, aren’t we? We just met!) “I think you should quit this job and focus on your studies, because college is very, very important.”

At first I thought it was a manipulative, underhanded attempt to sway my decision (in which case: Wow, she really is like my mother! Bada-BOOM!) and eliminate the competition, although I soon realized that Janice really did mean well; it’s just that, like most adults in my life — excluding a few awesome high school teachers — she was underestimating me.

Janice: “This job is for people like me. I’m 44 years old and I don’t have a lot of other options. You, on the other hand, have so much potential. Don’t waste it by staying here.”

I appreciate that she gives a damn about my future, but she didn’t even consider the fact that I wanted to work there. It was a beautiful office, with a great working environment (think Google), and it was a huge company. Why wouldn’t I want to stay and try to work my way up?

I’m writing about Janice because I’d like to address the older readers of this blog on how to deal with teenagers. I don’t mean to get all lecture-y on your asses, and I don’t claim to be any kind of expert on this, but this is something I’ve been subject to from both my interactions in real life, and my interactions on this blog.

As whiny and bratty as some of us might be, teenagers are smart enough to recognize when they’re being patronized. If you talk down to us like we’re just kids who don’t know any better, we’d be less inclined to listen to you. For instance, I only smiled and nodded at Janice, being equally patronizing back to her, because I knew that she was making assumptions about me based solely on my age. She felt that as an older, wiser woman, it was up to her to guide me back to the right path. (Just like my mother, and you all know how I feel about her.)

On this blog, I get a few good-intentioned comments which are marred with a tone of condescension. They don’t explicitly state that “You’re just a kid going through a little teen angst,” but the sentiment is clearly there.

If you treat us like adults and talk to us like equals, on the other hand, we’d be more likely to consider your sentiments and hold them in high regard. Two of the awesome high school teachers I mentioned above, Mr. Benjamin and Ms. Vicky, treated me like I was on their level, and as a result, they became massive influences in my life and I always gave their opinions high priority.

I’m also happy that most of my older readers communicate with me the same way. Even though I’m only a teenager, they don’t condescend to me, and I in turn respect their opinions.

Basically, make us feel smart. It doesn’t matter how dumb or clueless the teenager is; if you’re addressing us with a tone of “I’m older and therefore smarter than you, so you should listen to me,” we’re going to disregard whatever it is you have to say with a wave of the hand and a “This is, like, sooo beneath me.”

So, there you have it. This PSA was brought to you by Teen Atheist. And now I’m off to hang out with my girls at the mall, get my nails done and flirt with boys. OMG, squee!

When the going gets tough, the tough kick ass. January 27, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, career, school.
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On the heels of my semi-rejection (the “Uh, we’ll think about it” kind) from Dream College, I blew a lot of money on clothes and shoes. Totaling the receipts post-retail therapy brought me to the conclusion that I needed to get a job.

The following day, I checked out the classifieds and some online listings to see if anybody needed an articulate, computer-literate, bratty teenager with an exceptional typing speed. It turns out, we’re actually in high demand (minus the “bratty teenager” part), especially in this country. In a week, I got a phone call from an outsourcing agency, asking if I could drop by the following day.

I was made to take a few IQ and reading comprehension tests, and a typing test. After being informed that I did well on all of them, and then being coached on how to conduct myself during interviews, the administrator told me that I would be sent for an interview at another company the next day. When he mentioned the company name, though, I dropped a brick. This was an international, Forbes-list-worthy fucking corporation, and they’re sending some kid to apply?

So I did it anyway, because of course I wanted to work there, despite being a lowly Dream College reject. I put on my best idea of “corporate attire,” took a taxi to their pretty, pretty office and got interviewed by three different HR bigwigs (one of whom was adorable in a nebbish, Adam Brody kind of way).

And I got the job*.

Boo-yah!

It’s a full-time thing, so I will probably have to postpone my studies another year or two. Which I’m totally cool with, natch! College can wait; I have a feeling I’ll be learning much more through this experience, anyway.

Between this and skipping my fourth year of high school, I’m so far off the normal path for fresh high school graduates that I’m in a different continent entirely. I’ve always been one to march to the beat of my own drum, though, so this is nothing particularly new.

 

 

*I can’t disclose the nature of the job or the company, for obvious reasons, but it does involve dealing with a lot of cranky and stupid people! Don’t worry, though, I can totally handle it. I’ve been living with cranky and stupid people my whole life. ;P