Archive for January, 2014

21
Jan
14

“The Art of Presence”

David Brooks writes about a family’s coping with more than its share of tragedy.

Good advice, beautifully written, for those of us standing on the sidelines, wringing our hands, not knowing what to do.

17
Jan
14

In my inbox

targetletter

So I know this wasn’t sent by the “criminals” because. . .?

 

16
Jan
14

alas

Man killed in movie theater, for texting.

Some really excellent comments below the article, making my points for me.

We won’t even bother with the fact that the theater was still showing the previews.

Someone lost their life, the only one they get, in an argument over an annoyance, over something that really doesn’t matter. So yes, I guess we should mention — they were still showing the previews!

Even if they weren’t. . .

It’s like we’re still living in the dark ages.

A retired police officer, someone who apparently has lived 71 years of his life as an upstanding citizen; a “good guy with a gun,” lost his temper in a movie theater, took another man’s life, ruined several others, including what’s left of his own. At least we can hope for the latter. Someone suggested he could use the “stand our ground” defense. Against popcorn? Although it is Florida. . .

We’re temperamental, inconsistent, unenlightened people.

Maybe it’s time we all recognized that there is no such thing as a “good guy with a gun.” Certainly not a “good twelve-year old” with one either.

Why don’t these things happen in other countries? Or do they? What have they figured out that we can’t? Where can I go? Do I really want to live in a country where I’m afraid to signal with my horn if someone’s about to cut me off in traffic, or need to remind my daughter (before the movie starts) about doing her homework?

People who work and write in the guns and ammo “business” lose their jobs if they suggest that it might be time for a thorough and nuanced discussion of gun control laws. But if not now, when?

It’s time.

And maybe we need to bring some “heat” of our own — write or call your congressmen/women (oh how I wish there were more congresswomen) — not only ask for a thorough and nuanced discussion of gun control laws, but demand it. And threaten THEM with what really scares them — voting them out of office if they don’t see it through.

Here’s a good place to start.

If not now, when?

It’s time.

 

13
Jan
14

Why We Still Need “Feminism”

Reblogged from here.

Why Society Still Needs Feminism

Because to men, a key is a device to open something. For women, it’s a weapon we hold between our fingers when we’re walking alone at night.

Because the biggest insult for a guy is to be called a “pussy,” a “little bitch” or a “girl.” From here on out, being called a “pussy” is an effing badge of honor.

Because last month, my politics professor asked the class if women should have equal representation in the Supreme Court, and only three out of 42 people raised their hands.

Because rape jokes are still a thing.

Because despite being equally broke college kids, guys are still expected to pay for dates, drinks and flowers.

Because as a legit student group, Campus Fellowship does not allow women to lead anything involving men. Look, I know Eve was dumb about the whole apple and snake thing, but I think we can agree having a vagina does not directly impact your ability to lead a college organization.

Because it’s assumed that if you are nice to a girl, she owes you sex — therefore, if she turns you down, she’s a bitch who’s put you in the “friend zone.” Sorry, bro, women are not machines you put kindness coins into until sex falls out.

Because only 29 percent of American women identify as feminist, and in the words of author Caitlin Moran, “What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? Did all that good shit get on your nerves? Or were you just drunk at the time of the survey?”

Because when people hear the term feminist, they honestly think of women burning bras. Dude, have you ever bought a bra? No one would burn them because they’re freaking expensive.

Because Rush Limbaugh.

Because we now have a record number of women in the Senate … which is a measly 20 out of 100. Congrats, USA, we’ve gone up to 78th place for women’s political representation, still below China, Rwanda and Iraq.

Because recently I had a discussion with a couple of well-meaning Drake University guys, and they literally could not fathom how catcalling a woman walking down University Avenue is creepy and sexist. Could. Not. Fathom.

Because on average, the tenured male professors at Drake make more than the tenured female professors.

Because more people on campus complain about chalked statistics regarding sexual assault than complain about the existence of sexual assault. Priorities? Have them.

Because 138 House Republicans voted against the Violence Against Women Act. All 138 felt it shouldn’t provide support for Native women, LGBT people or immigrant women. I’m kind of confused by this, because I thought LGBT people and women of color were also human beings.
Weird, right?

Because a girl was roofied last semester at a local campus bar, and I heard someone say they think she should have been more careful. Being drugged is her fault, not the fault of the person who put drugs in her drink?

Because Chris Brown beat Rihanna so badly she was hospitalized, yet he still has fans and bestselling songs and a tattoo of an abused woman on his neck.

Because out of 7 billion people on the planet, more than 1 billion women will be raped or beaten in their lifetimes. Women and girls have their clitorises cut out, acid thrown on them and broken bottles shoved up them as an act of war. Every second of every day. Every corner of the Earth.

Because the other day, another friend of mine told me she was raped, and I can no longer count on both my hands the number of friends who have told me they’ve been sexually assaulted. Words can’t express how scared I am that I’m getting used to this.

Because a brief survey of reality will tell you that we do not live in a world that values all people equally and that sucks in real, very scary ways. Because you know we live in a sexist world when an awesome thing with the name “feminism” has a weird connotation. Because if I have kids someday, I want my son to be able to have emotions and play dress up, and I want my daughter to climb trees and care more about what’s in her head than what’s on it. Because I don’t want her to carry keys between her fingers at night to protect herself.

Because feminism is for everybody, and this is your official invitation.

 

 

01
Jan
14

gratuitous new year’s day post, no resolutions included

I laid in bed last night, well, this morning, actually, as the “old folks” managed to stay up past midnight to (quietly; no tin whistles, no confetti) welcome in 2014. (I want to say that next year there will be banging on pots and pans, and shouting, but that sounds suspiciously like a resolution. Hmmm. . . .)  I listened to the furnace shut off the last time before the Big Cooldown we have programmed into the thermostat (59˚ overnight) and to Second Son rustling around a bit in his basement bedroom (nice alliteration) and marveled at how well I could see out the window given that it was overcast and there are no street lights in our neighborhood — radiant light from the snow, I guess.

The trees were vague, foggy pencil lines against the gray sky. The house made its other noises. Husband snored quietly beside me.

I wouldn’t say that I’m more retrospective on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day than I am most other days of the year. I often think that if I spent less time “navel gazing” and more time looking out at the world I might even be able to release some of my mind-fuck obsessions and be, if not “happier,” more content in the world.

Coincidentally, though, we were wanting to recreate our New Years Eve dinner of a couple of years back, so I found myself paging back through this blog looking for the post–unintentionally exceptionally retrospective I guess. I had thought it was just last year, but it was two years ago, so I ended up reading a lot of other things, including some poems that were actually kind of not awful (and that I don’t actually remember writing), and watching some video clips of some pretty powerful performance art, etc. etc. A not-entirely unpleasant, short walk down memory lane.

It seems that I’m not ranting (or posting, for that matter) as much as I used to, and now I’m trying to figure out why. I’m a little more tired, I guess, or possibly (finally!?!) realizing that my ranting doesn’t really change anything. I’ve gotten pretty busy, although I was pretty busy when I was posting almost every day and averaging hits in the hundreds per day, rather than the single digits as I am now. I upset some people a few months ago, and felt badly about it, so didn’t post for a while, even though I thought they were kind of missing the point. I guess it’s as much my fault for not making my point clearly as it is for them not “getting” it — what is the writer’s job if not to communicate clearly and well?

I miss it, my daily commune with “my blog” and you, my readers; but I don’t seem to “love” it like I did.

All those words shouted out into the ether (until your face gets hoarse, ani dif.), never really sure what I’m hoping to hear in response. Validation? Empathy? The knowledge/awareness/hope that whatever I’m thinking or feeling, I’m not the only one? And why does that matter? I find that I want to write less and read more, but even then, I have the vague sense that l am (persistently) looking for (and never finding) the answers to life persistent questions. Caroline Knapp (Appetites) speculates that all a woman needs is a good boyfriend, a good job, and a good apartment. (relationship, financial, and domestic security). I have those things, but still feel I am looking for something (what kind of paradise am I looking for? ani dif. again)

Caroline Knapp, (and the writers of Serenity), speculate that the wanting, searching, the sense of lack, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is what gives our lives purpose, direction, keeps us moving forward rather than resting slothfully on our laurels munching grapes and watching bad television.

And yet I can’t help but be disappointed when things are less than I think they could be, or less than I hoped.

Again, Caroline Knapp writes of how, maybe, it is the moments we must treasure — of pure joy, contentment, ease; maybe in the afterglow of a great conversation/connection (even if brief) with someone we love, or with someone with whom we had no expectation of having a great conversation/connection; when we feel gratified or appreciated by that one person at our job; when the laundry is done and the dishes are washed and we sit on a comfortable couch in a cozy room after a delicious meal.

I can’t help but wonder (shades of Carrie Bradshaw) if those moments could be more often, or at the very least more easily held on to, if one could come to terms with the fact that there is no perfect, persistent joy. Maybe that’s the kind of paradise I’m looking for. Maybe, in this year where I, by the end, will have actually turned 50 (gasp!), I finally stop.

Now, someone else’s resolutions:

It’s still cold outside, we’ve had too much pecan pie and bad fudge, the family circus is performing, and we’re not sure what to make of this year that was pretty brutal at times, amiright? Take a long, belly deep breath. Feel your feet flat beneath you. Pull that core tall. Smile inside your mouth and feel your face soften. Put your head up, point your eyes forward. You with me? Listen … When your perceived troubles make you brood, it makes you a joy cannibal. Cut it out. We’re trying to have holiday spirit here. Maybe you’re bobbing along in the ocean of wherever you ended up. Pick a point, create a purpose, and move (ever slowly sometimes) towards it. Every day is the right day to reassess, make a map, rally the stakeholders to your own life, show up for someone else, and build capacity to be a better fucking human being. This is why love matters most. This is why you’re alive. This is why life is so painfully short and your sucky attitude is a waste of fine time. Break down the barriers you’ve built between you and the love of that god, that man, that woman, that child, and that person inside yourself you bully. Fly up to your own big picture. It’s a challenge to be honest with yourself, stop rating other people’s sins over your own, and steer your own damn boat. Change only comes with challenge. You can still be what you gave up on back when. You are in control of your own reaction in each moment and nothing else. Stand tall, breathe deep, smile softly, and forgive yourself for all that shit you won’t let go. Now is the time to put it down because it’s stupid heavy and you have a light heart. Get out of the harbor. Stop gripping the [buoy]. Be magnanimous, even when they don’t deserve it. Because you don’t sometimes, either. We’re all recipients of everyday grace and fear of hell isn’t what gets you into heaven. I don’t even believe in hell. Does that make you mad? Why? You are worthy of love and have so much to give. We all could work our hearts whole. Don’t be scared when someone loves differently than you, when their big plan isn’t like yours, and when their drive makes you ashamed at your own dog paddling. Pick a point, start a new year, and don’t look back. Head up, eyes forward.




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