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Two Thoughts: [Jun. 14th, 2016|11:28 am]
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Thought #1:
We're at the halfway point in 2016, and this has been the year so far:

Detroit Public Schools are still in crises mode, but wait! There's much worse happening in Flint!
Kalamazoo has an Uber driver shooting people, but wait! There's much worse happening in Kansas.
Then last week:
Kalamazoo has a Psychotic Truck driver running over cyclists, but wait! There's SO MUCH WORSE happening in Orlando. (I can't even process this one. I'm still tearing up.)
And, oh, yeah, Prince, David Bowie, and Merle Haggard died, but wait! That one singer from the Voice, Christina Grimmie? She was shot.

Every tragedy has a bigger “story” coming on it's heals to shunt it out of the public consciousness. I don't really want to know the next big thing, because the thing that comes after will apparently be much, much worse.

Thought #2
I grew up in a foreign country, but unlike a lot of my friends, I got to visit 'home' every two years. I never really felt like I belonged on those visits, but the one thing I valued was being able to let my guard down.

When you have “THINK OPSEC!” blasted at you every time you turn on the T.V., it gives you a little bit of subconscious paranoia.* In Germany, we were constantly warned not to be “an ugly American.” I got very good at blending in. I once had a couple from England come up to me and ask for help at the Hauptbahnhoff. They had been told that most teenagers spoke a little English and that they would be more likely to be helpful. When I was alone on the trains, Germans would try to start conversations with me, just to find out if they were right in suspecting I was American, and would compliment me on my Pigeon-Deutsch. When visiting Budapest, the street vendors tried their German on me first, until my friend in her letter jacket came up and spoiled the illusion.

That wasn't the message I got here. The message I picked up here was, “Everyone is free to be themselves here!” I was actually looking forward to getting to finally live here when I went to college. Most of my college experience backed that up, I didn't have to conform if I didn't want to, but I really didn't know who I was, since I had spent most of my youth hiding. I'm still figuring out who I am, but I seem to have convinced most of the world that I have a personality.

I never considered that I would revert to the “THINK OPSEC” mentality while living here, but here it is. I used to be a lot more open about things, but since facebook came along, I actually find myself monitoring my statement of opinions. I often put thoughts in public while I'm still struggling with them, just to hear the different takes on things. I have a diverse group of friends, while more liberal minded than not, they don't allow me to live in a permanent echo chamber. I will still talk to people face to face about things, but the friends who have moved away, well, I don't get their voices anymore, even though the technology should mean we can stay connected. We're just not free to “speak in public” any more.

*(I realize that OPSEC has more to do with not accidentally relating sensitive intelligence to to spies, but PERSEC wasn't as big on AFN commercials.)
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White Privilege [Nov. 7th, 2015|08:26 am]

I have a lot of random thoughts on the subject of White Privilege that I am trying to wrap my head around, so, instead of working on my NaNoWriMo novel, I'm taking a few minutes to try and organize them into paragraphs.

First: We need a better term than White Privilege. When white people hear that term, they seem to thing that people of color want to take something away from them. What people of color really want is to be treated the same way we treat white people as a society. We don't send store detectives to follow white people around because they are white. We don't shout out random racial epitaphs in public spaces at white people because they are white. We don't force white people to show two forms of I.D. to write a check because they are white. Real estate agents do steer white people away from certain neighborhoods when they are showing homes, but generally to nicer neighborhoods than they steer the people of color. We don't look at the white man behind the desk and assume he's just the secretary because he's white, we ask him. That's four examples in three minutes of typing. People of color just want to be treated the same way I am because I happen to a melanin shortage in my skin. Those are the "privileges" that people of color want in on. Which is why we need a better term. Those aren't really privileges, are they?

Second: I have always been confused why seemingly intelligent people in my life don't understand everything I just said in the first paragraph. It was obvious to me when I first heard the phrase "white privilege" what they were talking about, but I even had to argue my husband around before he finally understood what the phrase meant to people of color. I realized a few weeks ago that my experience as an Overseas Brat probably helped me be more compassionate about these things than my own relatives. (Don't get me wrong, my relatives are not racist, but they have no clue about white privilege.) I spent most of my youth as the outsider. Now, I was lucky, because I happen to fit the physical norm for Germany, I could "pass" when I was on public transportation, which I was a lot once I got to high-school. But, the neighbor kids in our first house in Germany didn't like us once I was about 8 years old. I could't figure out why they wouldn't play with us. Little slights, like them leaving the playground when too many Americans showed up, like them running across the bridge when we were biking near them, like them ganging up on the best toys in the playground so we wouldn't get a turn, well, what could we do? We would try to be the best of Americans and simply smile, suck it up, and leave them be. My experience was nowhere near what people of color experience on a daily basis in this country. Kids are sometimes mean, and they just didn't know how to deal with the language barrier. Because sometimes they would stay, sometimes we would all play tag, or pirates, or a weird hand slapping game I never did quite figure out the rules to. Sometimes we did find common ground and clear the snow off the ice in the flooded field and ice skate all day long together, and share candy, and be nice. But these experiences helped me recognize what privilege is. Privilege there was speaking the native language fluently, instead of the pigeon that was all I ever managed while I lived there. My friend Todd, who had spent a few years in German public school, had it, I didn't. I just wanted the privileges of decent service and not being treated like a moron that he had. (Back to my first point: Those weren't really privileges are they?)

Third: We need to do better as a nation. We need to do better as white people. We need to use our privilege to call out our fellow members of society when they pull that shit in front of us. It is no longer enough to identify the problem. We need to, as a culture, slap those actions down until every person feels as safe in their skin as we do. We need to make sure we're not limiting this to people of color. We need to call out bigotry no matter what its basis: race, body type, social class, job, sexual preference (or non preference.), hobbies, etc. But it starts with us, the ruling class, calling out our fellow members of the ruling class on their bullshit.

Fourth: At least one person reading this will probably try to point out that when I wrote "We don't shout out random racial epitaphs in public spaces at white people because they are white." two paragraphs ago that it happened to them! Yes, but how often? It was a notable experience because of it's rarity. Try worrying about that shit happening to you weekly, if not daily. Try worrying about that shit happening to you in front of your children, and all you can do is walk away, because you know engaging the assholes does no good. They are hoping that you will try an engage because then they have the excuse to attack. Your child is at your side "Why are they like that? Can we call someone on them? Why are they following us?" And all you can say is, "Let's just get home, sweety."
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Why I don't like modern country music [Aug. 19th, 2015|07:18 pm]
While on a long ride back from the other half of the state, Rich and I were searching for a radio station. We ended up pausing quite frequently on country stations for several measures of music before realizing they weren't classic rock stations and moving on. I pointed that out to Rich, that we enjoyed classic rock stations, but not modern country, which is a very similar sound wise. We paused on a country station for a few songs and pondered why that was before getting annoyed and searching for a station we could stand. (We tend to land on modern alternative, pop, classic rock, occasionally jazz if it's late at night, and classical if NPR isn't spending 20 minutes describing each upcoming piece.)

We got to a classic rock station and Don't Fear the Reaper was playing. I pointed out that the guitar riff at the beginning would have fit as a hook on the country station we were just listening too, then the solo in the middle hit. We shut up and listened and it hit us why we could stand classic rock, but modern country drove us up a wall. It's not that the solo in the middle of Don't Fear the Reaper is the greatest example of a solo ever, far from it. It was completely different from the rest of the song around it and almost doesn't fit at all. They decided to to try a new sound and see what happened to their tune, and it rocked. The next tune up was Dream On. Both songs were considered classic rock, and our suspicion was confirmed: Rock in the classic era, and even up to the alternative rock of today, is allowed to sound different.

You can't write a modern country song that doesn't sound like a modern country song. The peak of modern country happened when Garth Brooks came out with Friends in Low places. Don't get me wrong, I loved that song when I heard it first in High-School. Every country musician who has come along since then has taken that sound and copied it with only minor variations. You can't listen to a modern country station without hearing the same sound for all their five in a row sets. People who classify themselves as “Rock Musicians”, regardless of the variety of rock they ascribe to, are allowed to try new things, and it may suck out loud for a song, but it isn't the death knell of their musical career. A country musician who breaks from the mold just doesn't get play on the radio. It's not what country fans want.

You go to a rock concert you get everything from Bare Naked Ladies to Metallica, and maybe a side trip to Gwar if you feel daring. You go to a country concert, the only difference will be is the singer male or female.
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In trying to not be racist, you can be even more racist. [Nov. 27th, 2014|09:46 am]
This phrase has always annoyed me: “I don't see color, I see people.”
When I look at you, there are a few things I notice first, your gender, your race, and any obvious physical traits that deviate significantly from the norm. (Boy was that last phase awkward...)
Things most people would never say:
“Wow! You're a boy? Hey, I don't see gender, I see people.”
“Woah, I'm sorry, I didn't notice you were sitting in a wheelchair and both your legs are missing. I don't see scars, I see people.”
“Wow! I didn't notice that you were 7 foot 5 standing right next to me! Amazing, I don't see height, I see people.”
Denying someone's race, when it's staring you in the face, is denying a significant part of who that person is. I am a fat white female. Anyone who says they didn't notice those things about me as soon as they met me is probably literally blind. (Whoa, I didn't notice you had a seeing eye dog with you. I don't see helper animals, I see people.) Don't patronize members of any race by denying that it plays any part in who they are.

I do see color, and people can be any color.
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Dear parents: This is why we can't have nice things. [Oct. 19th, 2014|09:46 am]
Last night for the first time in years, my husband and I went out to see a live theater production of Dracula. One of my drama kids got the female lead, Mina, and, even though, it was just community theater, I was looking forward to losing myself, as I often due, in the moment, and enjoying the show.
However, every time Dracula showed up on state, the brats (no better word, sorry.) behind me started giggling. Now, to be fair to the brats, Dracula was completely stereoptyped, complete with a red lined cape that he used like bat wings. If I was watching it on T.V., I would have laughed at loud.
This was NOT television. This was live theater, and it was very obvious from the whispered comments behind me that the brats had seen the show more than once, and knew some of the cast members. Not once did the brat's parents lean over and tell the brats to knock it off. Instead, the kids were allowed to steal the show the first act, by taking some very intense emotional lines, well delivered by the way, and ruining their intensity with insane pre-teen giggling.
So I thought, maybe their parents will talk to them at intermission. Maybe the second act, they'll settle down. Nope. Their parents bought out the last of the chocolate at the concession stand, and the giggling continued through the second act.
And I felt helpless. I couldn't turn around and yell at them to knock it off, it was live theater, and that would have been more disturbing. I didn't know the kids, though we had chatted before the show. The kids were nice, but their parents were a little off-put by strangers talking to their family as if we were all humans about to have a shared experience. What should I have done?
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Gun Control [Jul. 29th, 2014|09:47 pm]
I grew up on an air force base, so I grew up used the idea that the people around me were armed. Because of their uniforms, I also had the assurance that they had had at least basic weapons training. I don't have any kind of reassurance like that out here in the civilian world, unless the person in question happens to be in uniform. I don't think all gun owners should be forced to wear a uniform to tell the world, that they have a gun and know how to use it. But, how do I, in the civilian world, distinguish armed and clueless from armed and trained? There is no way, so wouldn't it be better if I could just assume that there was some training involved before anyone was allowed to go out and buy a gun? I can assume 99% of the time that the person behind the wheel of a car has learned to drive the car. I can't assume that about the guy walking down the side of the street with a rifle over his shoulder. He's probably heading to his hunting blind, but I don't know that he's ever shot a gun or knows rule #1 (always assume a gun is loaded.). So, when I offer up my next bolded statement, don't run away screaming “OH NO'S NATIONAL REGISTRY!” Really, all I, as a non-gun owning civilian, want is assurance that when I see someone with a gun, he's most likely got training with that gun.
#1 Offer gun safety training the same way we offer driver's training.

Okay, so a gun registry scares people. They don't think the government has a right to be all up in their grill with what they own gun wise. I get that. (People are scared of their government, yet we keep electing the same type of person to government. That's a rant for a different day though.) I'm not saying that once someone has taken a gun safety course, they have to be added to a national registry so the government knows who's a licensed gun owner the way you do for a car. I do think that gun shops should be forced to make their patrons show some kind of gun safety course certificate before someone buys a gun. They could offer the course themselves, as a lot of shops do now for concealed carry permits. Now, do they have to send a list of graduates to some government authority? No. Is there going to be some abuse of the system? Yes. People are human. The thing is, if the the gun industry wants to continue operating with minimal government oversight, then they need to start self regulating better. Get with the NRA. Establish minimum standards of safety training. Start offering NRA accredited courses at minimal cost. Give graduates a wallet sized certificate saying they can buy a gun. We do it with concealed carry permits issued by the state. Let's expand that idea to an industry standard. No registry, except with the gun store who are affiliated with the certificate programs. They already have to keep paper records of guns purchases, so piggy back this onto that. It'll take a generation, but if it never starts, it'll never get done.
#2 Make it possible for everyone to assume that 99% of people with guns have training with it.

I have a lot of friends who are gun control advocates, and a lot of friends who see the idea of any kind of gun control as a violation of constitutional law. The problem is, these two groups just can't acknowledge that the other side has any valid points or reasonable concerns at all.
#3 Shut up and listen to each other.
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I wonder how they know? [Apr. 8th, 2014|10:08 am]
I wonder what criteria LJ is using to decide that my blog is #14240? I know I need to post more often, so I'm putting this post in to see if my blog number changes.
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I haven't posted in a while... [Mar. 22nd, 2014|08:20 pm]
I'm too tired. That is all.
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Again? [Aug. 4th, 2013|09:04 am]
Hey! Doesn't school start soon?

Whoa... when did you get here?

I've been here forever, dudette.

Oh, are we doing this thing again?

Just go with it.

Dagnabit. Fine. Yes.

Yes what?

Yes, school starts soon.

Whoops! I forgot I said that already.

Wow. Are you sure we have to do this?

Not anymore, but since we started...

Okay, so, Yes.

Yes what?




Wait, what?

Never mind.

Hey! Catch you later then.

Sure. Sounds great.
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Tagging.. [Jul. 22nd, 2013|09:38 am]
I'm leaving a note here for myself so that I'll remember that when I take up tagging my entries again, I'll need to start with December 2010.

I'm going back through my entries and finding my etiquette, education, and writing posts and tagging them. This means I'm going to have review every post since I started in 2004 (nine years wow!) because I started whining about education almost from Day 1. I'm also locking posts that should have been locked, and unlocking those when I can't figure out why I locked them.

(This post doesn't get a tag, since I'm not tagging random life updates... I should have a random life updated tag...)
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