Thursday, January 19, 2017

Privilege...

I know I've blogged about this before but I just need to do a quick one to get it out of my head again. And to keep me from yelling at someone about it...

I really do understand the frustration some of you feel when you get called out on your privilege. I really do. I feel it myself. People look at me, upper middle class, middle age, white woman, and they make all of these assumptions about me. They don't know me. They don't know where I came from. They don't know my struggle. They don't know anything but they give me a whole group of labels. And then they are shocked that I don't fit those labels.

People assume I have a four year (at least) degree from college. They are shocked to find out I don't. I have an associates degree in accounting and another two years at a trade school to get my massage therapist license. But I worked in a field where everyone around me had a degree. I worked my way in to my job through back pathways. Experience. People seeing me in other jobs and realizing I had the skills to handle the position even without the paper. But the assumption is always that I have a four year degree.

I grew up poor. I've met the repo man. When we moved we took our house with us. Brent's grandmother was livid that he was marrying that trailer park girl. People are shocked by that. Shocked when I say that they don't understand what being poor is like, but I do. They are shocked that I can tell them any number of things that I STILL do because I grew up poor. From eating habits, to squirreling away cash here and there so I have a back up if the credit card gets denied at the gas pump.

People always assume I'm married and have children. That's true. But they are usually shocked to find out that I got married at 18. And not only that I got married at 18 but that I wasn't pregnant when I did it. It goes back to them assuming I was in college at 18. Not newly married, working fast food and then retail, living pay check to pay check with my military man husband. That doesn't fit the label they have assigned me.

They assume they know my religious beliefs and that they are the same as theirs.

They assume they know my political leanings and that they are the same as theirs.

Just one look at me, just a cursory glance at my life right now and they have a whole checklist of things they assign to me. And that list starts to fade as soon as they hear the first, "Fuck that shit" come out of my mouth.

But understand this, that is privilege. Right there. The fact that the labels I get attached to me from one quick glance are all mostly positive.

We form our labels for people based on personal experience sure, but we also form them from what movies show us, what books tell us, what the news portrays as true. It all filters in there and so every single time we see someone we have this labeling system that goes in to place. As a middle class, middle aged, white woman, I have a set of labels people give me. They aren't really fitting in my case. So I try really hard to keep that in mind when I meet someone for the first time and those labels that have been programmed in to my brain start to slide in to place. My labels aren't right, why would theirs be?

But my privilege is that my labels aren't negative.

Not everyone has that privilege.

Pay attention to what assumptions people, the media, the press, the politicians make. Look at the labels they assign. And question them.

That's what putting aside your privilege means. You got positive labels. Even if they don't fit. Someone else got negative ones. Assume those don't fit either. Assume NOTHING you think you know is true. Because it probably isn't.

And then wonder how your life might be different if instead of your positive labels you got the negative ones.

Then you might just start to understand your privilege.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Buckle Up...

I am feeling ornery. Just a warning. I mean, it's not like you all didn't know it was coming this week. Friday we watch the first black president hand the keys over to a man who has spent the past weekend fighting with civil rights hero John Lewis saying he is all talk and no action. Of course I am feeling ornery.

I am tired of watching ignorant people revel in their ignorance. Today especially I am tired of watching people trot out their version of Dr. King and find his most polished and innocuous quotes and posting them as memes with a subtle (sometimes) to brash (usually) message of "See? This is how you should act." But when pointed out that there is more to him than a few paragraphs of feel good message they shut down or try to tell you what Dr. King would feel/say/be. Who are you again to say what he would or would not do?

Should there be a rule someplace that says white people especially cannot use Dr. King as some sort of tool to tell black people how to act? It seems like there should be some sort of common decency rule there. But what do I know? I think the man was a badass, not a marshmallow. I think he made people extremely uncomfortable in his day. He was hated by "polite society" who really thought people should just behave differently, quieter, more accepting. And then eventually they killed him. Polite society.

Like Medgar Evers before him. Whose assassin was let off the hook for decades because an all white jury wouldn't convict him. And Jimmie Lee Jackson whose death inspired the marches in Selma where John Lewis was beaten and had his skull fractured, seems like action more than just talk, talk, talk...but what do I know?

So today I am especially ornery.

But I don't expect it to get better this week.

Just be ready.





Friday, January 13, 2017

Plain Vanilla...

 "...and I'm okay being pistachio." Rebecca declared.

James put the round of drinks down. "You are what now?"

"Pistachio. I was just explaining something to Allie."

"And somehow that made you a pistachio?"

"Pistachio ice cream to be exact."

James shook his head. This probably wasn't even the weirdest declaration that he had ever heard Rebecca make but it was always hard to come in part way through a conversation and track what was being said. Impossible really. He looked to Zach for a little help. "She's pistachio ice cream? And this makes sense to you?"

"Yeah, sort of. To be fair I lost track part way through."

Allie sighed, "Rebecca found out today that Cody got engaged and I was afraid that she would be upset but she's fine because she's pistachio ice cream."

"Oh well, when you put it like that then it makes complete sense." James and Zach exchanged a glance and each reached for their drinks. They both agreed that it was usually better to be a little buzzed when trying to keep up with Allie and Rebecca's conversations.

Zach held his glass up to Rebecca, "Well here's to pistachio ice cream. Even though I have no idea what that has to do with Cody getting married. But cheers anyway."

Rebecca leaned back and started to explain again why she wasn't really bothered by her ex-boyfriend, the one who swore he was not the marrying type, getting engaged.

"Okay, try to follow. Allie understands food metaphors better than you guys do."

Allie play scowled at her friend, "Are you calling me fat? I think you just called me fat."

Rebecca laughed, "Well yes, I was going to talk to you about those three pounds a little later."

James held up his hands, "No Mean Girls quote-a-thons, please! I want the pistachio explanation first." His sister Allie and her best friend Rebecca could and would re-enact the whole movie if given half a chance. He just wanted to hear one story from start to finish without them getting side-tracked. It was a bigger challenge than you would expect. Especially when Zach was along for the ride. He loved Zach like a brother but the man was easily distracted.

"What flavor of ice cream do you like?" Rebecca asked.

"All of them." Zach replied. "If there is ice cream out there, I want it. I don't care what the flavor is, just give me the ice cream."

Allie and Rebecca both laughed, "Okay, yeah, actually that works for my example, so let's try you, James, what is your favorite flavor of ice cream? The one that if you had your choice of all of the flavors you would always pick that one?"

James shrugged his shoulders, "Vanilla? I think a really good vanilla. Because you can add anything to it. Or use it for a-la-mode on cake or pie. I think vanilla for sure."

Zach shook his head, "You just chose vanilla? Out of all of the flavors? Vanilla? And your reason is that you can make it better by adding to it? Wouldn't you want a flavor that stands alone, that is perfect just to eat?"

"I like vanilla just to eat as well. A really good French vanilla is a solid choice."

"So if you had to eat one flavor for the rest of your life it would be vanilla?" Zach was still shaking his head.

"You can't even pick one flavor and you are criticizing my vanilla choice? I think..." James trailed off shaking his head, "I think I have lost the point of the story again and cannot believe I am arguing about ice cream flavors."

Rebecca smiled at them, "See? It's personal. You like the flavor," she nodded towards Zach, "or flavors you like, and it's fine. It just is what it is."

James shook his head, "I'm still a little lost here. Zach, are you following?"

Zach smiled, "I actually think I am, James is a vanilla man and if you tried to give him chocolate chip double fudge he'd take it because he's polite, but it wouldn't be his favorite. Nothing against the chocolate chip double fudge, right? It's not the chocolate chip double fudges's fault that James is super boring."

"I'm not super boring!"

"Whatever...the point is that it's nothing personal, it's just what you like."

"Okay, but what does this have to do with Cody getting engaged when he always said he wouldn't?"

"See, Cody always wanted an orange sherbet. And no matter how much I tried I was never an orange sherbet. I'm a pistachio ice cream. I'm about as far from an orange sherbet as you can be. And he knew it. I realized a long time ago that I wasn't an orange sherbet, I would never be an orange sherbet. I find orange sherbet to be too cloying and sweet. I would have rebelled against all of the orange sherbet like things he tried to get me to do. All of the orange sherbet dishes he bought, all of the orange sherbet friends wanting to do orange sherbet things. It would have been miserable. And eventually my pistachioness would have overridden the sherbet and it would have been an ugly mess.

But he found his orange sherbet. She's as orange sherbet as orange sherbet gets. And so he's getting married. It's nothing against pistachio. Pistachio is a really great flavor, it's just not what he wanted. And there is nothing against being orange sherbet. It's a fine flavor and it was even fun to try orange sherbet things out for awhile. But I'm just not ever going to be orange sherbet. So I wouldn't have wanted to spend my life pretending to be orange sherbet. See?"

"God help me but I think I get this." James wasn't sure if he should be relieved or worried that he now understood what Rebecca, Allie and Zach were talking about.

"I just need to find someone who loves pistachio. That's all."

Zach held his glass up, "So I say again, Here's to pistachio ice cream! May we all find our favorite flavors. Even if it's plain, boring, vanilla."

James laughed with the others and thought to himself, "Vanilla and pistachio go well together, right?"





Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Widening Gulf...

I'm worried. I've talked about it a few times already but for the first time in my adult life I'm actually worried about the future. I've always been optimistic by nature. It's who I am. But it seems more and more like optimism is foolish. Like fear is the prudent course of action now. Which is at war with everything in my heart and head and how I want to live my life. But here we are...

The reason is because we've divided ourselves in to warring tribes. One side vs. the other. Fairness is out the window. Hypocrisy leads the day. Winning is really all that matters. Kindness is out of fashion.

We cannot see the world the way the others do. I watched President Obama make his farewell speech and then I watched President Elect Trump give his press conference. There could not have been a more stark display of the differences between the men. There could not have been a more drastic example of how things are going to change. And it depended on where you stood when they started on how you saw them. If you thought it was a good thing or a bad one.

This week I've watched a few friends of mine post the "video evidence!' that Trump did not mock a disabled reporter. I watched the video evidence and saw a man that mocks everyone. This is supposed to be proof he didn't mock a disabled reporter. It's a video that shows mocking is his go to move. And somehow if you are on one side of the divide this exonerates him. For me it, once again, shows that you are missing the important part. Why did he mock that reporter? Because Trump lied. He lied, then he tried to use an article that reporter wrote to back up his lie, when that reporter said, "No, that's not what I said." Trump worked to discredit him. And everyone fell on to the mocking part. But back it up. He lied. Then he lied again. Then he mocked the person calling him out on it to distract from the lie. And it worked. And when I point this out I am told that he didn't mock the disable reporter. PAY ATTENTION! He's lying to you and he's showing you shiny things so you don't notice or care that he's lying to you.

Right now there is the story about Russian's having salacious information about PE Trump. He is working overtime on Twitter screaming about fake news. I'm pretty sure the story isn't true. It's too fantastical to me, too petty, too weird. But I don't know. And honestly, I don't care. If you like watching pee shows, whatever. I don't care. But what I do care about is the fact the Russians meddled in our elections. That we still haven't seen Trump's tax returns so we don't know if he is in business with the Russians. That he still won't stand unequivocally against Putin. And I know that I am on one side of divide here. People that for my entire life have been against the Soviet Union and then Putin's Russia are now totally cool with the authoritarian leader whose critics disappear or die horrible deaths by radiation poisoning. A country where the Russian church has made it a-okay to hunt gay people down like animals. This is all great with a segment of our population now. And I stand on the other side of the gulf wondering what the hell happened here.

He's nominating people to head departments whose only qualifications seem to be that they have spoken out about getting rid of those departments. He's talking about repealing and replacing the ACA with a "great plan, a better plan, a cost saving plan" and he's going to do it "soon, maybe even the same day, the same hour" but if you ask for specifics on the plan there are none. There is no plan. So they are going to defund the ACA and leave people with no coverage and then....well something. And people keep telling me I have to give him a chance. A chance to do what? Something great? Just watch? There is no there there. And somehow the party of "trust but verify" has turned in to to the party of "shut up and fall in line." Again.

See I went through this with Bush the younger. When I spoke out about the wars I was told I was unpatriotic. Anti-military. By people whose only service to this country consists of putting on camo and carrying their guns around pretending to be...what? I have never figured it out. My family has always served. Not wanting people to die or go to war makes you pro-Military. Wanting them to live. Wanting them to get actual help not just lip service during election years. But you feel free to tell me how I'm unpatriotic because I think their lives shouldn't be sacrificed for your macho pride.

Now I am getting the whole "bubble" argument. Six states. Blue collar to white to no collar at all. Republican to Solid Progressive. Under the poverty line to comfortable. Military wife to civilian. Evangelical to agnostic. That's where I've been. Tell me again about my bubble when you've lived in the same town your whole life and still socialize with the kids you went to kindergarten with. Where you all share a religion, a zip code, a skin tone. And tell me again why you matter more than I do? Why do I have to buy the argument (AGAIN) that somehow middle America is the real America? That the coast doesn't matter because...why again? Because a lot of people live there? That always seems to be the argument. That cities don't matter because of all the people. But mid-America matters because of...all the land? It's truly infuriating.

I'm supposed to understand that you feel like your culture is being taken away from you. That you are being forced to believe things, accept things that you don't agree with. And this is somehow supposed to make me apologize and want to capitulate to you? Why? Because I've been forced to live under your beliefs for most of my life. Friends of mine couldn't get married because your religion said no. Rights were denied to people because you thought it was wrong. You want me to say it's cool to make decisions based on religion...well unless that religion is Islam then no way. You are so worried about Sharia law that you don't pay attention to the fact that you've been forcing your religious rule on the rest of us.

Oh everyone is too PC! You know this one I agree with. To a point. I've railed against this for years. That we are limiting discourse and discussion by shutting people down with political correct speech. But there is a difference in levels. Are you upset about this PC culture because you cannot have an open and honest conversation without being shut down because you used the wrong term for someone who wants to be referred to as zee or are you mad because someone called you out for using the N word? Hey, guess what, some people are too easily offended but that doesn't mean you should take that as forgiveness for being an offensive asshole. Take some personal responsibility.

So I'm afraid. I'm afraid that we've reached a point where we cannot ever come back to the middle. I'm afraid that people I love will lose rights. I'm afraid that people who hold beliefs that I find reprehensible will feel empowered to act on them. I'm afraid of a bully in the White House leading us in to war because he cannot tolerate people saying things he doesn't like. I'm afraid of what pieces will be left after this administration is through stomping around.

But hey, here is one area where we might have found common ground with those on the other side of the gulf. For the first time in my adult life, on November 10th I asked Brent if he thought we should get a gun. He had already thought the same thing. So there you go. You've finally convinced us that the world is a dangerous place and being armed might be a good idea.

Congratulations....





Saturday, January 7, 2017

Brrr....

After a week of frigid temperatures we are finally starting to warm up a little. Just in time for the precipitation to come back so we are looking at freezing rain tonight. Of all of the weather systems it's about the worst. Wind is awful. Noisy and damaging. Rain can get dreary and too much causes floods. Snow (depending on where you live) can be an annoyance or just what winter means. But freezing rain and ice? No matter who you are you can't deal with the ice. Just the smallest amount and roads are impassable. More than that and trees start snapping. Power lines go kablooey. No driving, no walking, no power, possible tree in your house. Crazy. Ice is awful.

Here we call it freezing rain and it's bad enough. Colorado had ice storms and they were terrifying. Freezing rain with high winds so everything would get covered in sheets and layers and it was thick. Took forever to thaw back out. Here the freezing rain hits, fucks everything up for a day (usually, sometimes longer) and then regular rain comes back and we get back to our normal winter weather. Which I know drives some people crazy but I don't mind the gray and rain during the winter. Much prefer it to ice and snow. It's just annoying not paralyzing.

So we have freezing rain coming in. What do you do?

I went to the grocery store and made sure we had food to see us through the weekend. Beat the bread, milk, and eggs people but just barely. The lines were starting to get crazy when I was there yesterday afternoon. The local news just put out a notice that if you need groceries you might want to get there now. Places are jammed. We stopped this morning and filled the tank. Yes, I should have done it yesterday but I figured we would be out early enough today to miss the last minute pump rush. And we mostly did. They didn't have quite enough people working so it was a little slow, but we got filled up and ready. You can't pump your own gas in Oregon, that's why it matters how many people were working. But the lines at the pumps were starting to get longer by the time we were done. A few weeks ago when we had our second storm of the season people didn't take it seriously. A lot of people got stuck on the drive home for hours. Lots of people ran out of gas. Now they know. Gas up. We have always done it because it adds weight to your car. Weight helps with stability. In Idaho I kept the car at no lower than 3/4 of a tank all winter. A heavier car is your friend. But people here don't know things like that. Or why you carry a bag of kitty liter in your trunk even if you have no cat. But anyway...we have food, we have gas and we are tucked up at home.

And now we wait.

It's incredibly windy out there right now. The clouds have gotten much thicker since we first got up this morning. But it doesn't look bad. So I'm at the point where I am prepared but still holding on to the thread of hope that they got the forecast wrong and it will miss us after all. Predicting weather in the Portland area is actually really difficult. It's due to the gorge to the east, the coastal range to the west, the ocean beyond that, the open plains on the east side, the trough that Portland and its suburbs are settled in, and blah blah blah...the weather people explain it about once a year. Usually after they've missed a big storm. Either by saying it will hit and it doesn't or by saying it won't hit and it does. But there are geographical and meteorological reasons why it's very difficult to predict weather here. So we are all always a little skeptical no matter what about storms.

I am also incredibly cautious about them. Overly so, I know. But people here cannot drive in any sort of inclement weather. Hell when Fall hits and we get our first big rains after the summer people crash into each other. RAIN. It rains here 9 months out of the year and they can't drive in it. So yeah, snow and slick? Nope. I'll stay home thanks. I can drive in it. Drove in it in Idaho and Colorado. When you have plows and people who know what to do it works. When you have people who just get out of their cars and leave them in the road? Not so much. We also don't have chains for this car. There is an international waiting list right now (seriously, that's what the parts guy told me) and they are looking at March before they get them in. The car needs specialty low profile cables, the chassis and the run flats don't leave a lot of room in the wheel well so regular chains and cables can tear up the car.  So no way to chain up if we did get out and the weather turned on us. So we will stay home.

Which means lots of time to watch movies, read books, and bake cookies...oh the horror.

Seriously, if you take away the fact that we are missing out on hockey I couldn't have planned a better weekend.

I hope where ever you are the weather is good. And if it's not good I hope you are prepared. Snuggle up and enjoy the weekend.



Thursday, January 5, 2017

Art vs. Artist

I know I've talked about this before, not sure if it was here or on a Facebook post and honestly I'm too lazy to go look it up so I'm going to talk about it again. Forgive me for any repeated messaging. Not like it is the first or last time for me repeating myself.

Anyway...

Do you separate the art from the artist? And if you do or do not, why? What are your lines? Where do you say, "nope, not ever buying/listening/reading/paying attention to this artist ever again."

My lines vary. I have a few hard and fast ones. I will never watch a Woody Allen movie. I will never again buy anything that brings Bill Cosby money. When Michael Jackson was alive it wouldn't have mattered if he wrote the best album since Off the Wall I wouldn't have bought it. And there is a waver in the line for me. When he was alive. Now that he is dead I have considered going back and buying some of his older stuff I don't have. Because he wouldn't profit off of the purchase. But would my purchase mean I forgive or condone? Hmmm...that's what keeps me from the purchase. But I lean toward I would buy now that he is dead and won't see that money.

Mel Gibson is a tricky one. He's an asshole. He also (from all evidence) beat his pregnant girlfriend. Right now I am in the no Mel Gibson camp if he wrote, directed and is the only star. But if it's an ensemble cast I might waver. Maybe. But haven't yet. The abuse pushes him in to the no area.

But what about people who aren't criminal, or haven't committed unforgivable acts in your eyes, but are just assholes. Where do they fall?

Bill Cosby is my example for that. I actually saw him live quite a few years ago. Before the barrage of accusations came out and his criminal activity was really brought to light. I wrote about it at the time and my impression of him was that he was a raging asshole. It changed the way I felt about him as a person, which had been largely informed by his performances and stand-up. Instead of being funny he was bitter. But I still would have watched old Cosby Show episodes, I still would have listened to his old stand-up. Now? Now that it's shifted from asshole to asshole rapist? No. Nothing that could bring him a royalty. Nothing that could make him think he is okay. Nothing.

So a live criminal or abuser gets nothing. Once they are dead then I have to reevaluate.

And then there is the dreaded line where you find out that someone you have enjoyed their work for ages turns out to be reprehensible. What do you do then? Orson Scott Card, anyone? I bought a lot of his books for C when he was growing up and I wouldn't now. But he enjoyed them quite a bit so would that be the right call? He's not a criminal, he's just an asshole.

Or if you find out that a company is founded on a crime? Chanel anyone? What do you do then? Do you take a stance on the history? But that leads to really murky areas considering the number of American businesses, families and industries that built themselves on the backs of slaves. Past crimes cannot be changed so should current businesses be punished?

So do you separate the art from the artist? Do you say, yes, they might have been awful but they created something wonderful and once it was out in the world it is detached from them. Especially if they are not going to profit from the art anymore. Or if they are just an asshole and not a criminal.

What started all of this soul searching today? Kat Von D. She bugs the crap out of me. I think she's a pain in the ass and spoiled and a brat and haven't watched a show with her on it or paid attention to anything she's done in years because of it. But...according to all the reviews she makes a really great make up line. So...

HEY! I never said I wasn't shallow along with my deep pockets!

You get to separate that part of the art and artist where I am concerned.

Monday, January 2, 2017

First Lines...

Just a quick post because I'm excited.

I have first lines!

Like five of them!

FIRST LINES!!

So exciting.

I know it doesn't seem like much, and odds are most of them won't pan out. But I've spent the past year forcing first lines out of my head so to have them starting to form again on their own is very exciting.

So what's on the horizon?

Looks like a romance, a horror story, an exploration in unrequited love, and a story about crossed lines of communication. Hmm...when they are all strung together there it looks like it could be one story!

I'll leave you with one, the one that I have no real idea where all it goes from there but seems to be filled with a lot of potential. Some lines and scenes feel heavier in my mind that way. Like they are full of more juice. This one seems like it's full of juice. We will see...but here's a taste anyway.

She leaned in closer to the mirror and looked at the lines around her eyes. She hadn't noticed them before but they had to have been there, right? There is no way they were caused by this. She looked toward the ceiling trying to stop the tears that were forming from falling. She had cried enough already. She wasn't going to cry over a few small wrinkles that must have always been there. Must have been. That was the problem with an affair. It changed everything in an instant. Including how you felt about yourself. Now she was the type of woman who people cheated on. The fat tears began to fall again.


NOW...does she discover she's a vengeance seeker? Does she open a bed and breakfast on the coast and meet a handsome sailor who changes everything? Does she discover late in life that she was meant to be on her own? Does he come crawling back to her only to discover the locks have been changed and she went back to her maiden name??  I DON'T KNOW! But it's just very exciting that she's here with me now.

Wish us both luck. Or all of us, because she has a lot of company up there right now and I'm not sure who all is making it out alive. Oh, 2017, please stay brimming with ideas!