Tuesday, October 16, 2018

I'm Not a Pacifist...

I don't take a lot of shit.

I don't put up with a lot of nonsense.

I have no truck with fools.

I'm not a bystander by nature.

You all know that.

When you are hit in the face you see stars. Mostly nose hits do that. A solid jaw hit can actually drop you unconscious because of the nerve that runs along there. But nose hits, cheek bone hits, those can make you wish you were dropped they hurt so much. Eye sockets? Fragile things. Even if the orbital bone doesn't break the eye swells easily. Nature's way of protecting the eye from damage. Pretty genius really.

If you hit someone in the face your hand hurts. If you hit them hard enough your whole arm feels it. You hand is solid. The bone you are hitting is solid. The impact stops the momentum so all of the energy has to go someplace.

That funny shot in a movie where someone who has clearly never hit anyone before shakes their hand out? That's real. It's a shock. You don't think you should hurt. You are the one hitting after all.

If you have never been hit at all, let alone in the face, the first time it happens is a shock.

If you are lucky and you get hit in the face, it is the only time you are ever hit in the face.

But if you have been hit in the face, or hit a few faces yourself, you know what it feels like and what to expect. So you are prepared when you might get into an altercation.

I think there are violent people in this world and nonviolent people.

I also think that violent people can learn to curb their violence and nonviolent people can be pushed to violence.

But there is a divide. Even people who have worked very hard at curbing their tendencies can feel it sometimes.

The itch in your hand that creeps along. That makes you feel your fist curling. Or maybe the itch is your subconscious trying to get you to uncurl your fist. I'm not sure.

Saturday before the game we were eating dinner, watching football, and wasting time at BWW. The table behind us had 4, (maybe 4, I didn't turn and look, not by choice, we'll get there) guys watching games. They had been drinking for awhile. Loud. Obnoxious. Told the waitress to smile. Which sets my jaw. Her facial expression is none of your goddamn business...

That was the first time Brent leaned over and put his hand on my knee.

See, Brent knows that if I lose my cool it's not good for anyone around. So he works as my Jiminy Cricket. And as everyone else's protector. Because first I'm going to say something, then I'm going to do something. Jiminy reminds me that's not the right thing to do.

They kept up the "banter" with other fans in the bar. And by banter I mean screaming at them about their team choice. Now, here is where I have to say, as much as I swear and as much as I don't give a fuck about good words and bad words I also don't like it when people swear loudly when kids are around. You don't know how those kids are being raised. You have no idea what their families are like. So watch your mouth. It's just common fucking decency...

Brent's hand on my knee again.

And then one of them started peppering in the gay slurs. The f word that I don't use. Ever. The one that I even have a hard time with hearing my gay friends use as they try to reclaim it. Because of assholes like this one, who use it as a slur. As a slam to insinuate that teams, coaches, players are somehow less than.

And now I'm not even supposed to turn around. Brent is holding eye contact with me, and his hand is firmly on my leg. Because I'm going to lose it. And if I turn around they are going to read it in my face and as soon as they say anything I will be off.

I am not a bystander by nature.

BUT...

I'm there with Brent and with Christopher.

I was raised around assholes like the dude at the table behind me.

The type that get drunk and obnoxious and use the f word as a slur.

I know that the moment I unleash on them, they will want a fight and they won't be coming after me.

Because that wouldn't be the "manly" thing to do.

And as there are three of us at that table. And as there is one of us who can tell you what it feels like to punch and be punched and still come up for more and as I love the other two people and have no urge to drag them in to my fight even though they are pretty big guys and most likely could handle themselves, as I believe even nonviolent people can be pushed...but I don't want to push the nonviolent people in my life so...

I had to remain quiet.

And it still pisses me off.

It was the safest call to make.

On one hand it was the right call to make.

The unclenched fist hand.

If I had been there by myself I would have said something.

That's the other hand. The clenched one.

Which is slightly insane, I get that. There were 4 (?) of them and one of me.

But as Brent put it as we walked away they would have been shocked that the one they needed to worry about was the one they wouldn't have been worried about at all. Until they realized their mistake.

Because I have no quit when that is flipped.

And, as Brent also said, they wouldn't have understood what I was telling them when I explained why what they were doing was offensive and they needed to knock it off.

Their ignorance radiated off of them.

Just like my anger radiated off of me.

Brent is a good man for a fighter with no quit to be married to. When he sees the rise, he puts his hand on my knee and makes me consider the consequences.

I fucking hate considering the consequences.

When you hit someone your hand hurts.

When you don't your conscious does.

I'm not a pacifist by nature.





Thursday, October 11, 2018

Breakfast...

William couldn't fall asleep. He was cold and hungry and the bed he was sleeping in was too small for his 6'5" frame. He knew he should be glad to have a bed, the week before had been spent camping out on cold, hard, ground but the bed wasn't much better really. And the house was only marginally warmer.

He tossed and turned for a while longer before giving up. He reached for his wallet and pulled out a folded picture. She was smiling. Radiant. Happy. He closed his eyes and pulled up some of his most worn memories. The ones that would have fold marks like the picture, fuzzy edges from being held too often, looked at too much. The ones that got him through the cold, uncomfortable nights. The ones that helped him forget the day.

She was cooking breakfast. Eggs. The chickens in the yard were still laying plenty of eggs. And even though he knew they would be either over cooked or underdone he was still looking forward to a warm breakfast to start the day. She was also terrible at making coffee. It was going to be bitter, watered down, burnt or cold. Never could predict how it would be bad, but it was going to be bad.

She was lousy at cooking. But she was great at making conversation. She always gave him something to think about.

"How did you get that scar?" William asked.

Her hand reached up to the side of her head, fingers caressing the raised and puckered skin. "It was a tattoo."

"Did it get infected or something?"

She had laughed. That bitter laugh that he would replay in his head over and over again, trying to hear the joyful laugh inside of it. "No. They cut it out of my skin."

He had looked shocked. He had been shocked. He could still be shocked in those days. "Who cut it out?"

She had turned and looked at him. What he thought of as her "don't be an idiot" look. "When they shaved my head they saw the tattoo so they cut it out."

"Why?"

"Because you can't shame someone who has chosen to be that way."

He didn't understand what she was saying. That was probably why she often gave him that don't be an idiot look.

She sighed, "They shaved my head to shame me. To make me look less than. To make me unattractive. But the tattoo shows that this is not the first time my head has been shaved. That at some point I chose to shave my head. I chose to be bald. I chose to decorate my bare scalp in celebration of my baldness. Shaving my head to shame me doesn't work if it reveals I am not ashamed."

"What was the tattoo?" He wanted to picture her from before. What would she have gotten a tattoo of?

"It was a rose." Her fingers traced the scar again. "My sister and I got them together."

"Why?"

"My mother had cancer."

He started to say he was sorry and she raised her hand to stop him. "Don't do that. Don't tell me how sorry you are for my loss. Just don't."

She turned back to the stove and then kept talking, "When she lost her hair my sister, my aunt, and I all shaved our heads as well. When the doctors told us that the treatment wasn't going to work my sister and I shaved them again and got roses tattooed on our scalps. Her name was Rose."

She kept her back to him. He didn't say anything. But he remembered watching her touch the scar and thought about it a lot. How it must feel. That raised and puckered skin. How it must feel to her, to have lost that piece that connected her to her mother and to her sister. He ate his overcooked eggs and drank his watered down coffee.

Another morning a few weeks later they were talking about movies.

She was cooking again. He was waiting for breakfast. The house was warm and cozy. And she was talking more than normal which made it even better.

"Is it a reflection of society or was society shaped by its reflection?"

"It's just a story."

"It's just a story that is told over and over again. So is it just a story at that point or is it a blueprint?"

He was lost again but he didn't want her to stop talking. "It's not even that common of a story."

She shook her head, "Really? It's not? If you have a strong woman in a movie how do you show her vulnerability? She's raped. Or you say she had been raped and that's what made her tough. If you have a man that you need to spur into action how do you do it? You rape the woman he's closest to. Rape has been used as a plot device since stories have been told. Is it because rape has always been used as a weapon, or is that rape is now used as a weapon because we've seen it so many times in our stories?"

"But the stories show how awful it is, so maybe it's a lesson."

"Does it really show that? If the outcome is that the hero is heroic, that the woman is stronger than she knew, or more vulnerable than she was before, is it really showing that it's awful? Or is it giving permission to use it as needed?"

"I think it's awful."

She nodded then shrugged her shoulders. Placing his plate of runny eggs in front of him he noticed the line of bruises around her wrist. He didn't ask where she got them.

A week or so later she was cracking eggs getting about half of the shells in the mix.

"Are you from here originally?"

"Yeah. Born and raised. I left for college but I came back."

"I'm..."

She cut him off, "You are from some quiet suburb someplace. Not quite a city boy, but not really one of the country kids either. In the middle."

"How do you know that?"

"Your accent for one. Your friends all have country accents. You don't."

She always called them his friends. He had corrected her a few times, they weren't his friends, they were part of his regiment, but not really friends. She had just shaken her head and said they weren't hers and yet here they were so they must be his. He had stopped arguing.

"My accent gives me away?"

"And your manners."

He pulled his elbows off the table quickly.

"Not manners like that. Manners like mannerisms I guess. You approach the world a little differently."

"So do you, but you were raised here."

"But I left and came back. I saw other ways to be. I'm from here, but not all here." She laughed her bitter laugh again.

"Why do you talk to me and not anyone else?" His friends as she called them always said it was weird that she never spoke. But they were never here for breakfast.

"Because you listen. Because I want you to hear me."

A few weeks later her jaw had a dark black bruise lining it.

They were talking about the 2nds. They were moving out soon and he was excited.

"It's not going to be fun, you know." She never really talked about what he was going to do. This was new.

"Well, no it's not supposed to be fun. It's important though. We have to make things right."

She laughed, "Right. Sure."

"What are you going to do when we leave?"

"Same as I'm doing now, I guess. Wait for one of you to be smart enough to kill me."

He laughed. She had to be joking. "Why would any of us kill you? We aren't killers."

She nodded. "It's not going to be like you think out there."

He was frustrated. She didn't know anything. She had been a subversive. That's why her head was shaved. To show that she wasn't really one of them. He shouldn't have let himself forget that.

"We are defending The Constitution. We are the 2nds!"

"You should have read it before you decided to defend it. Did you know there are other amendments after the 2nd? The 3rd would be interesting to you I would think."

He was mad and wanted to give her a smart answer about defending all of the amendments, but he knew it had to be a trap. He had no idea what the third amendment even said. But she wouldn't have brought it up if she didn't have a point. She always made him think.

"Why are you waiting for one of us to kill you? Why haven't you just killed yourself?" Even as he said it he regretted it. Kill yourself was not what he wanted to say. He was going to take it back, but then she answered.

"I did. A long time ago."

"What?"

"When I decided to stay when all of my friends where moving away. When I made the choice to help others get out. I knew the risk. I told myself it was like my mother's cancer. I was going to die anyway but I could help. I sent people to the city. As many as I could. When the fence was electrified and the gate locked I knew it was too late. It was like the cancer had spread. When they shaved my head and cut out my tattoo. When they put in the tracker. When they forced me to open my doors to you and your friends. This will kill me. Eventually. I made that choice."

"You don't have to be like that."

She smiled at him. "I do. You don't though. You have a choice still. You could walk away. Once you are on the other side of that fence, you could just walk away. Your accent would protect you."

He felt the eggs churning in his stomach. She was trying to get him to desert. That was treason. She could be shot. She would be shot. He could shoot her right now and it would be legal.

He didn't.

His commander did.

Going through the house before they left he found the picture. It was of her standing with friends around a table filled with food, she was wearing a chef's hat and an apron with the name of her catering company on the front.

She had been an excellent cook.



Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Bad Influence...

Sometimes I wonder what my parents were thinking when they raised me.

I'm pretty positive my siblings always wonder what they were thinking.

I've talked about it before. They raised me to question things. To never just take a straight answer. To keep asking questions until I got an answer I was satisfied with. And I will be honest I am always more satisfied with "I don't know" than I am "Because that's the way it is." I don't know is a perfectly valid response. Because that's the way it is is a cop out and means you have never thought about it.

So I question things. And I have talked about the fact that the first two big things I questioned were their religious beliefs and then their politics. And I didn't stay with their choices. The answers didn't make sense to me.

I was raised in a time and in a conservative dynamic where men and women were treated differently, they still are, that hasn't changed, I just left. Men are the teachers, the leaders, the head of the household. Women follow. It was technically what my parents preached but I never really saw it in action. Yes, I knew, theoretically that Dad was the head of the household and if he had ever come down on the opposite side of Mom in an argument he would have won. But as far as I know the only time he told my mother no was when she wanted to name me Sarah. So, yeah, theoretically I got it. But practically? Six years old sitting at the dinner table, "Dad may be the head of the family but Mom is the neck that turns the head."

Listening to an interview the other day from a woman who wrote a book about leaving the Purity movement in Evangelical churches. She talked about a story from her first experience with the Evangelical movement, it was a summer camp. One of the girls was pulled aside and chastised for answering too many questions in bible study.  She was asked how the boys must feel with her always jumping in ahead of them with the right answer. How it must make them feel less than. And honestly who was going to want to spend time with such a know it all?

This wasn't an unusual message when I was growing up.

How will the boys feel about that?

Let them go first.

Let them answer.

Be impressed with how smart they are. How fast. How strong.

Dim your light a little because they can't stand the glare.

I chafed against that, as you can all imagine. But I still tried. It was expected. I laughed at dumb jokes even when I knew they got the punchline wrong. I waited to raise my hand in class to give someone else a chance to go first. I pretended to not know or understand how to do something so a boy could teach me. It was all part of the way the world worked. Until I realized that it really didn't work for me like that.

It made me miserable.

If I'm smarter than you are and that bothers you then learn more. Or deal with it. There are three people in my little alphabet family and I am pretty sure I'm third. It's not because of my gender. It's because I like smart people so I married one, then bred with him and made a REALLY smart person. Brent, by the way, would argue with me and put me above him. Marry someone who thinks you are the best.

But anyway...I can deal with not being the smartest person in the room. But I cannot and will not act like I'm not smart so you feel better about yourself. And I absolutely won't put up with you treating me like I'm not as smart as you are because I don't have a penis.

And if you are friends with me I am going to encourage you to ask questions. To find answers that satisfy you. To understand why people are asking you to do things. Or be a certain way. Or think a certain way. I want you to question your world. Even if the first thing you question is my lack of religious beliefs and my politics. Even if you come to different conclusions than I did. I want you to question things until you are satisfied.

I'm a bad influence that way.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Lucky Lady...

She was born in the middle of a blizzard.

"How lucky!"

That's what everyone told her parents.

Even though the power went out and the hospital was understaffed and the pipes at the house froze while they were at the hospital leaving a huge mess to take care of when they came back home with a new baby in tow.

How lucky!

When she was 5 she was struck by lightning. It was a freak accident. She wasn't even outside. The bolt had hit the front porch, traveled along the rail, through the wall across the floor and into her where she sat on the floor in the living room. When she was 9 she was struck again. After the lightning rod had been put in to prevent another freak accident. So lucky! Struck twice by lightning in the same place and she was (mostly) fine!

I mean she was terrified of storms. She had not one but two burn scars on her legs where the electricity went in one side and then out the other after traveling through her body, stopping her heart on the way through. But, as luck would have it, both times she had been with someone who knew CPR and got it started again.

Really lucky!

Her first date with Gary had been a picnic on the beach. So sweet. It was going really well and then the seagull pooped on her head. So much poop. So much digested fish-smelling poop. "Oh my gosh! That's such good luck!" That's what everyone told her. Except for, you know, Gary, who threw up when it happened. And how could she blame him really? It was not a good smell. It wasn't a good feeling either. Warm. Wet. Smelly. But it did free up Gary to date Susan and their marriage seemed really happy.

Such good luck!

It rained on her wedding day. "Best luck ever!" That's what everyone said. Rain on a wedding day was lucky weather.

Even though the reception hall flooded and a lot of their gifts were ruined and the cake disintegrated. And her parents fought with the caterers and the caterers fought with the rental hall and everyone was yelling at everyone else and the rain just kept falling. It was so lucky.

Best luck ever!

When the crickets invaded the basement of their new house everyone said, "Crickets are good luck!" So much good luck. You couldn't walk without wading through all that luck. "You can't call an exterminator! Killing a cricket in your house is bad luck!" Living with a basement full of crickets wasn't great luck either. For four years they did everything they could to get rid of the crickets.

She saw a shooting star. "Make a wish! It's good luck!"

So she did.

The house burned down. The crickets had ruined the wiring. That had been her wish, to get rid of the crickets, she should have been more specific.

Nobody was home when it burned.

That is fantastic luck.

She had been traveling for work, out of town for the week. But where had he been? The house had burned overnight. Lucky that nobody was home. But why wasn't he home?

What great luck.

When she met her second husband the first thing he had asked her was, "Do you believe in luck?" She had laughed so hard she choked on the hors d'oeuvre she was eating. Luckily he knew the heimlich maneuver. He saved her life. She felt lucky.

Really lucky. For the first time. He was her luck.

Her eyes opened slowly. She listened to the hiss of the machinery around her. Then she could make out the voices in the hallway.

"It's just luck that anybody survived that accident."

"Amazing. Did you see the pictures of the car?"

"I couldn't believe it."

"Did she lose...."

"Yes, but really, with the amount of pain medication she's been on, and then being the only one to survive the accident. Really, it might just be lucky for her."

She closed her eyes again.

She had always been just so lucky.


Lucky...

We are an optimistic species.

I mean that, really as a whole in general we are optimists. We want things to go well. We will mold things to fit that narrative as much as we can.

For instance a friend of mine posted that a bird pooped on her head today and the responses were "That's good luck!", "Buy a lottery ticket!", "Oh! Good Luck!"

A bird shit on her.

On her head.

Bird shit.

Lucky!!

Rain on a wedding day? Lucky.

Right hand itches? Oh! Money luck!

Bats in your attic? Really good luck.

Accidentally put your shirt on backwards? Oh good fortune coming your way!

See a ladybug? Good luck!

Shooting star? Make a wish, that's really lucky!

So...bad weather, bugs, guano, space debris, inattentiveness, all of it, really good things.

We're optimists.



And we really sort of have to be, right?

I mean if we didn't have that stubborn optimistic streak in us somewhere it would be unbearable at times. Right now a lot of us are struggling to see the good side. To see the it's going to get better path. To really believe that the world is not lurching backwards.

So today as you realize that it's raining, and there are bugs and shit everywhere and the stars seem to falling from the sky, take a breath. Make a wish. Look to your friends. And realize you are lucky.

We are lucky.

We have each other.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Contained...

She kept it in a box on a shelf in her living room.

It used to be on her bedside table but she found it hard to sleep with it there.

So she moved it to the living room.

The box was sturdy but attractive.

It fit her decor.

Solid metal with lovely scrollwork designs.

Windows for ventilation.

That was important.

If you didn't give it room to breath it would either die or explode.

Neither of those things would be good.

Though they would prefer it died. For her.

So she had the box made specifically for it.

And she kept it there.

In a box on a shelf in her living room.

She used to keep it closer.

With her all the time.

But it really wasn't allowed.

Not really.

Not for her.

It was too dangerous.

It might cause problems for others.

So she was told to let it die.

That that would be better.

Not to feed it.

But she didn't want to let it die.

So she moved it to the box.

She kept it there.

In the box. On the shelf. In her living room.

She watched it now.

The faint glow that had been there.

The one that would keep her up at night when it was on the bedside table.

That faint glow.

That was gone.

The box was now shining full and bright.

There on the shelf in her living room.

Not dead. Fed.

Today she would take the box off of the shelf.

Today she would open the box and take that spark out.

Today she would burn it all to the ground.

Starting with the other boxes on the other shelves in the other living rooms.

Sparks aren't meant to be contained.

No matter who tells you so.


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

What is the Worst Case?

More Kavanaugh posting ahead...

So I've talked about the #metoo cases and how I was going to evaluate each one. I'm not an always believe the victim person. I'm a never automatically disbelieve the victim person. It's a difference. I will always listen and then decide.

Where we are with Kavanaugh right now is that I don't know. I still don't know what happened. I found Ford's testimony to be really credible though. I did. But because there is nothing there except her word and his I still don't know. So start there.

Now we back up.

I've posted about the Chris Hardwick accusation and what I think. I think it was a bad relationship but I don't think that he is an abuser. But there is doubt there. A few things he used in his comedy show that she referenced in her essay gave me pause. A few things he has talked about in the past make me think, well from his side that would look like that but from hers? So I think it was a bad relationship. I don't know if it was more than that.

There is a little doubt.

C has no doubt. He's sure that it was an abusive relationship. So on Sunday we talked about it, and talked about a few things in relationship to the Kavanaugh accusation. Because with Kavanaugh I lean the other way. I don't know. But I have doubt that he's telling the truth. I have more faith in Ford. Because of the little lies that Kavanaugh told to make himself look better. To try and look like a choir boy instead of a party boy. He lied about stupid stuff. If he had owned up to being a party boy and that he outgrew it I would have more faith in what else he said. For instance Hardwick said it was a bad relationship, didn't try to say it was perfect and had no idea what she was talking about, if he had done that I would have less faith in his side of the story.

But Kavanaugh didn't own up to the small things. He lied. And if he was willing to lie about ridiculous things that other people could come in and say were lies why wouldn't he lie about what happened with Ford?

Now, I get it, if he says he was a big drinker and did crazy stuff when he was drunk then there is room there to say, "Well she says you were drunk. Maybe you don't remember?" He doesn't want to give an inch because he's afraid. But because he lied there is doubt there for me.

And here is where I go "What is the worst case with that doubt?"

Brent and I were at dinner after I talked to C and we were discussing Hardwick and what career wise he has and hasn't lost. And Brent said, "If he came to town again would you go?" and I said "I don't know." And I said that after a long pause. Which Brent rightly interpreted as a no. If I had that long of a pause and if I have doubt the answer is no.  Even though I'm pretty sure he's not a bad guy.

And here is why.

Worst case scenario I'm right. He's a good guy. Never was abusive at all. The little bit of doubt I have is misplaced. I buy the tickets I go to the show, everybody is happy. But if I don't buy the tickets what happens?

Someone else buys the tickets. Life goes on. The price isn't that high.

Worst case scenario I'm wrong. He's a bad guy. Was a horrible piece of shit. The little bit of doubt I have should have been much bigger. I don't buy the tickets, he doesn't get my money. But if I buy the tickets what happens?

I've given money to a predator. I'm funding an asshole. Me personally. I'm saying it's okay. That abusing women is fine in my book.

See? That's why if there is a doubt in my head I'm saying no. Because the worst case is clearly worse on one of those things.

I look at the Kavanaugh confirmation the same way. I don't know. I still don't know. I'm not comfortable saying that he for sure did it. But there is doubt there. I think it's very possible that he did.

Which is the worst case scenario?

Worst case scenario. I'm wrong to doubt him. He's innocent. He's not confirmed. He goes back to his lifetime appointment in the lower court. He's livid about the system. The Right uses him as a scapegoat talking point forever. He's confirmed he sits on the highest court of the land. He's livid about the system. The Right uses him to shut up any future victims from being heard. (see Duke LaCrosse team)

Worst case scenario. I'm right to doubt him. He's a blackout drunk who attacked a high school classmate and got away with it. He's not confirmed. See above. He is confirmed. We sent an attempted rapist to the highest court in the land.

Don't confirm him. He goes back to the lower court. He still has a lifetime appointment.

Confirm him. He sits on the Supreme Court. The highest court in the land.


One of these for me is a worse worst case scenario.

I think his nomination should be pulled. I think he showed you who he is during the hearing on Thursday and that person is someone who doesn't always tell the truth. Who can't put personal anger aside for even a moment to listen and answer questions in a respectful manner. Who will not for a second imagine themselves to be less than the image they want to be. I still don't know if he attacked Dr. Ford, but I'm not really comfortable sending Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Doubt.

There might not be beyond a reasonable doubt evidence that he did it, but there isn't beyond a reasonable doubt that he didn't either. I'm not saying send him to jail, but I am saying keep him off the Supreme Court bench.

Now, I imagine I will have one more blog about this when they confirm him anyway and it makes me spitting mad.