To Consider It

Sure.

I would consider it.

But, I need one thing first.

Okay, it is more like two things.

I need you to tell me how you feel about him.

And, I need you to tell me what you feel about the statement.

Tell me, how you felt when he called Mexicans rapist.

Tell me, how it is okay to brag about grabbing women “by the pussy”.

Tell me, how you feel when he lies again and again.

Tell me.

Tell me, your opinion on Adam and Eve.

Tell me, your opinion of “a homosexual or transgender self-conception”.

Tell me, what you believe.

Tell me.

And, I will consider it.

Because, the next time I see you,

I want to know exactly, precisely the person you are.

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OPINION, NOT TWISTING FACTS TO BLAME TRUMP

This blog will not become a commentary-on-dumb-things-people-post-on-Facebook-blog. The dark-endless-nothingness-void-of-eternal-unending knows that I post plenty of inane musings of my own. Case in point, a caption reading, “A little rain didn’t stop me from trying out my new grill. It works amazingly well!” for the picture of my newly assembled grill inside my apartment with a Chipotle to-go bag.

See, dumb.

But when I come across a post that begins: “Okay. Here we go. I want to say this: WE DO NOT NEED THE OPINION FROM ANY NEW YORKER OR CALIFORNIAN OR ANYONE ELSE WHO WANTS TO TWIST THIS HURRICANE INTO BEING PRESIDENT TRUMPS FAULT . . .” My snowflake heart can’t help itself.

Because here’s the thing, and I am going to ignore the rest of the poster’s meandering and heartfelt response, to just say this. No one, and I do mean no one credible, is saying the hurricane is 45’s fault.

Hades, I would love to blame it on a man who defends white supremacy, but I can’t because that is just plain dumb.

Dumb.

Dumb.

Dumb.

Wait for it . . .

. . .

. . .

not yet

. . .

Dumb.

In the grand scope of all things dumb, it falls very close to an actual human being arguing that it is more credible to blame the Hurricane Harvey on Houston electing a lesbian mayor than climate change.

I follow the news very closely, in all likelihood too closely, and nowhere have I seen anyone credible blame the hurricane on a man who brags about sexual assaulting women.

But, here is what will be and is 45’s fault.

Rolling back flood protections to account for climate change.

Gutting the EPA by putting a man in charge who spent his Oklahoma career suing the EPA.

Endorsing concentration camps and racism with his pardon of Joe Arpaio.

Banning transgender service members from the military.

. . . Okay, this got away from me for a minute. I was going to stick with just the tip of the environmental iceberg, but since they are melting, I delved into other territory.

This post has certainly gotten away from me at this point.

I guess I am just tired of it.

I am tired of people defending the indefensible. (Joe Arpaio, exhibit 1)

I am tired of the hate and ignorance. (Trans-related healthcare less than 10 million, removing trans-military personnel estimated $960 million, exhibit 1)

I am tired of the constant corruption and lies with no accountability. (Russia, Emoluments clause, Russia, moral failings, Russia, exhibits . . . ugh, just see the link below)

Everyday is another setback.

Everyday is another obstacle.

Everyday is another opportunity.

An opportunity to do right.

An opportunity to stand up.

An opportunity to resist.

So, to reel this post back in, no, 45 is not to blame for the hurricane. No one person is to blame. Hurricanes happens.

But, we do know that this hurricane was more devastating than normal. And there are many reasons why, ranging from unregulated urban sprawl to climate change.

Denying facts don’t make them go away.

 

“Lesbian Ex-Mayor Has Perfect Response To Ann Coulter’s Hurricane Nonsense”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/annise-parker-ann-coulter-hurricane-harvey_us_59acca52e4b0dfaafcf12afc

“Trump Signs Order Ruling Back Environmental Rules on Infrastructure”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/15/climate/flooding-infrastructure-climate-change-trump-obama.html

“Scott Pruitt is leaving a toxic trail at the EPA after only six months on the job”

https://thinkprogress.org/scott-pruitt-toxic-trail-9a99031d594f/

“It’s Impossible to Overstate How Truly Vile Joe Arpaio Is”

https://www.gq.com/story/joe-arpaio-history

“Banning Transgender Troops Could Cost U.S. $960 Million Report Says”

https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/banning-transgender-troops-could-cost-us-960-million-report-says-n792466

“The 88 reasons Trump is unfit to serve as President, according to an official Democrats resolution”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world-0/us-politics/donald-trump-house-democrats-president-impeach-no-confidence-resolution-a7850006.html

“Why Houston’s flooding got so bad, according to storm experts”

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/8/29/16216568/hurricane-havery-houston-flooding-experts

“Hurricane Harvey and Climate Change”

http://www.factcheck.org/2017/08/hurricane-harvey-climate-change/

My Ideal Bookshelf – Job: A Comedy of Justice

Job: A Comedy of Justice, Robert A. Heinlein

Oh, religion.

I’d call you quaint and adorable, but you are used to embolden bigots and racists. You are used to subjugate women. You are used to justify wars and murder. You are . . . Okay, this post is about another Heinlein novel, not my many bones to pick with religion . . . This is going to go well.

During my ninth grade year of high school, once a week, I made the mile or so trek up the hill from my high school to my grandparents’ diner where I met with an elder of the church to discuss the weekly readings from The New Testament. Honestly, I don’t remember which gospel it was. Perhaps, Mark, Luke, John, or Ringo. But, it was required reading in order to be confirmed in the Methodist Church.

I don’t remember what prompted this confirmation quest.

Was this my final attempt at connecting with the omnipotent bearded man in the sky?

Or, was this another attempt by family forces to get me to accept the three-faced god into my heart?

My previous attempts to find some meaning in “the good book” resulted in memories of being bullied, feeling isolated, and being a confidant for my youth minister as she described the suicidal tendencies of her husband.

And while those were only my direct associations with “the good book”, I know how it can be used to help cope with and justify an affair or to help wash away other “sins” of one’s past.

The words of The Bible just never sat right with me. It all seemed like a poorly written version of Tolkien’s Simarillion, which wasn’t that well written either.

But, the moral ambiguity was there.

The life lessons were there.

The plot holes were there.

And, at the end of this book study, I was confirmed in the church and the man I had been meeting with to study the word of a god was soon diagnosed with cancer.

After being confirmed in the church, my church goings almost completely ceased. Perhaps, it had something to do with working at my grandparents’ diner on Wednesdays and Sundays, or how my high school peers referred to those two days as the days in which a woman can’t get pregnant because, you know, they are God’s days.

And, it was immediately following my Methodist confirmation that I came across Job: A Comedy of Justice. A fictional book highlighting the hypocrisies of Christianity and religion in general, and it confirmed that Texas was in fact Hell on Earth.

This book is another case of the right book at the right time because after rereading it in the course of the last few years, this book didn’t make it onto my Ideal Bookshelf for its writing quality.

It was another book that helped me to see things differently and come to terms with my, at the time, agnostic outlook, or as Stephen Colbert would say, my atheist without balls outlook.

My Ideal Bookshelf – Stranger in a Strange Land

Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein

Heinlein is an author who completely opened up my way of thinking by showing me new ways of looking at the world. But, in recent years, I have reread Job: A Comedy of Justice and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and I have come to realize that the quality of his writing and storytelling doesn’t necessarily hold up.

The ideas aren’t as grand as I had once thought they were. The misogyny and weird sex stuff is a bit too prevalent, but when I had originally begun reading Heinlein’s work, I just remember being blown away by how different these worlds were and the thinking of his characters.

The first book of his I picked up was Have Space Suit – Will Travel, which was one of his more YA centric books, and I only picked it up because I was running out of fantasy and sci-fi to read my middle school’s library.

I remember enjoying the sci-fi jaunt. But, I didn’t make my way back to Heinlein’s more adult centric outings until high school. For a period of time, I wanted to read as many Nebula and Hugo winning books as I could get my hands on, which led me to Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers, and many more Heinlein novels which seemed to get weirder and weirder.

For the most part, I grokked and enjoyed them.

But, I always felt highly awkward reading them in class because of the scantily clad women on the covers of the books. Yet, my embarrassment never held me back from reading them.

As I would peruse the Heinlein paperbacks at the local and now defunct Borders, I would always pick up I Will Fear No Evil, consider reading it and put it back.

I was not afraid of the naked blue and white, star covered woman on the cover.

Rather, it was the exploration of gender that kept me away.

It was something I was not ready to grok.

#Resist

I had always been under the impression that you stand up for what you believe in, you show empathy to those less fortunate than yourself, and you do the right thing even if you are standing alone. I had thought I was raised to believe and live by these principles and values, but maybe, I was wrong.

All I know is that as a person who values the diverse landscape of the human experience, I cannot stand idly by and watch hatred rise in this country that I always thought would be my home.

My very core of who I am prevents me from allowing a government to attack the freedoms I hold dear. I will not remain silent as a government threatens the freedom of religion with a “Muslim Ban”. I will not remain silent as facts are decried as “fake news”. I will not remain silent as the Justice Department works to undo civil rights for LGBTQ+ Americans. I will not remain silent as public lands are opened up to oil and gas companies, climate change is censured, and the Clean Water Act is gutted.

Those are, unfortunately, only a small fraction of the things I will not remain silent on. Because, amazingly enough, this list doesn’t take into account the rise of bigotry and other Neo-Nazi sentiments. It does not take into account the oligarchic administration that emphasizes loyalty to a figurehead in place of loyalty to the Constitution and rule of law. It does not take into account the widespread attempt to legitimize lies and white supremacy.

Rhetoric spewed forth by entities like Alex Jones’s Infowars and Steve Bannon’s Breitbart and others are an affront to truth, justice, and democracy. When did honesty get replaced by deceit and conspiracy theories? When did our basic human values become perverted in such a way that America was so easily duped by a conman? When did the fear of the unknown and unfamiliar overtake decency, kindness, and love?

At the end of the day, you have to live with your decisions. You have to wake up, look at yourself in the mirror, and know you will be able to sleep at night. It is not always an easy thing to do. I know I have struggled with doing what is right, at times, because the right thing to do was too hard to accept or too difficult to understand or too scary to contemplate. What is right is rarely easy.

Now, I don’t know what you believe, or even if you have read this far, but I do believe this. I believe that “arch of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”. I believe that how we act and what we say speaks volumes, which reverberate beyond our singular life. I believe we are all inherently good, but somewhere along the way, we lose sight of what really matters.

So, I will not apologize for standing up for what is right. I will not apologize for speaking out against racism or sexism or any of the many other ideals currently embraced by too many Americans. I will only say that I will continue to try to be the best version of myself everyday that I can.

God, your conscience, or whatever else guides you and your life decisions have led you to here, to this moment. To a moment where you have to decide if you are okay with what is going on. To a moment where you can either do something or continue in silence.

Enough is enough. Because, I am no longer willing to subject myself to people who claim their love by trying to break me down or want me to hide who I am. I am no longer willing to subject myself to the company of others who approve of and go along with the moral collapse of this country and its values.

No one should have to live in this rising climate of fear. Fear of reporting assault and being deported. Fear of serving this country and being told you are unworthy because of your identity. Fear of going to sleep and wondering if it will be your turn next.

Do understand that the threats to our way of life and our democracy are very real and the actions being taken now will have lasting consequences. How we respond to today will, one way or another, reveal the very depths of our character.

Equality was a founding doctrine of America. And, while we may have not always followed the path of equality for every person on American soil, we have continued to, slowly but surely, make things better. But, things don’t just get better by themselves. Action is needed.

Resistance is not futile. Resistance is required. Resistance is hope.

Conversations with People Who (Verb) Me

4.

3.

2.

1.

Go.

In the midst of so much angst and hate and misgivings and doubt, how can one even possibly attempt to write about what is going on?

Where does one even start?

A loosely connected stream of conscious rant through things said and words meant and thoughts expanding and horizons possible?

Perhaps.

Because, how am I supposed to respond when a coworker asks, “You ever go back to Oklahoma? Do they accept you? Or, are you just kind of a guest?”

How do I respond? When it was said completely out of nowhere as I sit at a round plastic table eating my “Women’s Health” blend of trail mix in the former cafeteria space, now staff lounge. Perhaps, I could have taken the guidance of the third episode of “Conversations with People Who Hate Me,” and began a dialogue. A dialogue to emphasize I am a real person. I am not something that is not to be believed in. I exist.

Because, how am I supposed to ignore the results of Facebook stalking my mom’s post and finding that she shared the following gem from my 7th/8th grade history and government teacher:

“So (redacted school district) is mulling over a name change for Robert E. Lee elementary because of Lee’s participation in the Civil War. Kind of silly don’t you think considering that Lee was a well respected leader before, during, and after the war.  He played a large roll in continuing education at college level serving as president of Washington and Lee University and raising it to one of leading colleges in the South after the war.  This whole movement to try and erase black marks in history is ignorant. Without the Civil War and the loyalty of all who fought in it, how much longer would slavery have lasted?  Changing names and removing monuments memorializing those involved will not erase that history.  It will not repair any of the damage of that era.  It changes nothing about how people feel today.  Those things need to remain in place to remind us that we do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past. What is next, blowing up Mount Rushmore because those presidents or their families held slaves?  The radical Muslim groups have tried this without success.  History does not change because memorials are removed.  History serves the purpose of creating CHANGE.  Hopefully, positive change.  For me, there is nothing positive about trying to change what happened in the past by trying to erase the evidence.”

And, I post this here, not with her permission, since I am not Facebook friends with her (or any of my family members for that matter), but due to a lack of privacy settings on her account, this post was made public for the world to see. So, I call dibs.

And, I do try to have a difficult conversation and follow the advice from my new podcast addiction.

I begin like this.

“Seriously? You are okay with monuments of the Confederacy?” (Perhaps, not the most diplomatic opening ever, but it is a start.)

“I liked what (redacted teacher’s name) said”

“Really? What part?”

“Can we argue tomorrow. I am having trouble sleeping and this will make it worse..”

“Sure. We can discuss this radical Christian traitor later.”

Again, not my most crowning moment of civil discussion, but the line “The radical Muslim groups have tried this without success” just bothers me to no end. So, the next day and before I get into the car to go see Brigsby Bear, I bring it up again.

“And, you still agree with the post you shared?”

“I see both sides. Yes I agree.”

“Really? How?”

“I thought the post was very clear”

“I am not sure what the argument in the post is. It is poorly written, difficult to follow, and just overall convoluted with a pinch of Islamaphobia.”

I don’t get another reply, and I can’t decide if I want one or not. Aside from the “both sides” argument ringing like a comment from the racist former host of Celebrity Apprentice, I don’t know what I want from this exchange.

Maybe, I just want to understand.

I just want to understand the different point of view that just seems outside of my realm of understanding.

It’s like on Twitter when someone from the #MAGA crowd posts a photoshopped picture of Democrats admitting 45 is president. I guess I just don’t understand the point. Just because something is the way it is doesn’t make it good or right or worth defending or worth arguing about. Posting a picture that simply states 45 is president doesn’t prove anything other than verifying, yes, while unbelievable, 45 is actually president.

But, just because he is president, that doesn’t mean he has good policies or high morals or is worthy of the office of president. Because, it is becoming clearer and clearer that he is sorely missing the mark.

But, I need a night away from it all, the news, the fear, the overwhelming sense of dread.

And, maybe, that is why I was totally enamored with Brigsby Bear.

Because it was a weird movie, but I loved it. It is one of the best movies I have seen in a long long time. And, I left the theater in a hazy fog of wonder. And, I felt ready to say what I needed to say, write what I needed to write, which brings me back almost full circle to this.

Why do I find my middle school social studies teacher’s post problematic?

Really? Robert E. Lee was a respected general? I wonder if the Union, or rather America at the time agreed with that, considering the fact that he was leading the war against America. Given the fact that he was a military traitor, leading a war against his own country in order to sustain slavery, it seems unlikely that he was well-respected.

But, I am not a history major, or even much of a history buff for that matter. So maybe, we should go with his own words. Since he was opposed to Confederate statues seeing how they “keep open the sores of war”.

Also, it is “role” not “roll”. If you are wanting to make a precise argument, check your homophones. Words matter. As far as I know, my former teacher is not an elected official but missing a homophone is in line with 45’s attempt to heel the nation.

And, what does this line even mean? “Without the Civil War and the loyalty of all who fought in it, how much longer would slavery have lasted?” Whose loyalty? Also, what? If all citizens had stayed loyal to the Union and stood against white supremacy then, would the Civil War even occurred? Unlikely.

And, the argument to remove Confederate statues has never been about removing and rewriting history. Instead, Confederate monuments were built to remind a subjugated people that while they were “free” they were not equal and must be reminded of their place.

And, to return to the great, what will happen next argument. “What is next, blowing up Mount Rushmore because those presidents or their families held slaves?” Just, ugh. Those individuals on Mount Rushmore actually contributed to the founding and success of this country, not its breaking and needless loss of life.

And, what is she even talking about her? “The radical Muslim groups have tried this without success.” Tried what? Who are these groups? Why do we have to attach “Muslim” as a descriptor? Because for historians keeping track, a radical Christian group took up arms against their countrymen and murdered for the sake of maintaining the inhumane institution of slavery. If you’re looking for a synonym for this group, go with Confederacy.

And, finally, no one is trying to erase history. Or, make people forget by removing these oppressive monuments. But, not everything deserves a monument. Just ask Germany when you look for the monuments dedicated to Hitler.

And to make a complete full circle, I really don’t know what my coworker meant by his questions.

But, I do know that this post got away from me.

I blame Brigsby Bear.

 

“Robert E. Lee Opposed Confederate Monuments”

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/robert-e-lee-opposed-confederate-monuments/

“Baltimore’s Confederate Monument Was Never About ‘History and Culture’”

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5995a3a6e4b0d0d2cc84c952/amp

My Ideal Bookshelf – A Wizard’s First Rule

A Wizard’s First Rule (The Sword of Truth, 1), Terry Goodkind

There are very few books where I can visualize where I was when I was reading it. Or, remember my exact spot in the book for this visualization.

A Wizard’s First Rule is one of those rare books.

I had said sayonara to my waterbed, which I still sorely miss, and I was lying on my bed reading. My extra-long twin bed was certainly not the most comfortable, but it was necessary as it would be my new bed once the eponymous “shack in the back” was finished.

The shack in the back was no mere shack. Instead, it was a garage/apartment/game room that was built in the back of my mom and stepdad’s yard. The first level featured an oversized two car garage, which my mom has slowly begun to claim as her clay studio, and the second story featured a big screen tv, whatever game system had recently been popular, my Accelerated Reader auction prize air hockey table, a small bathroom with the smallest shower imaginable, and an efficiency style apartment.

I would claim this as my living space my senior year of high school, even before it had water running to it.

The tradition of moving out to the shack in the back one’s senior year of high school was passed down to my brother . . . but so far, the tradition has ended there, since my sister is moving off to college without the shack in the back experience.

So, I laid on my red and blue checkered quilt furiously reading through the pages of A Wizard’s First Rule.

I couldn’t put it down.

The pain, the torture that the protagonist was enduring was nearly impossible to get through. But, I kept reading because things had to get better.

They had to.     

My brother knocked on my door, wanting to play Legos.

And while how it went in down in reality versus how it plays on in my memory may differ slightly, I roared at my brother, “Get out! I’m reading!”

My floor to ceiling personal Legoland would continue to collect dust.

And, I would continue to read, ignoring everything else around me.

In middle and high school, classmates would say that the world could end or the floor would open up or there would be an explosion, and I would ignore it all and keep reading.

With a book like, A Wizard’s First Rule, this was likely true.

And while the series as a whole is a bit uneven, many of them were just as addictive and impossible to put down.

But, in the end, this book pointed out a universal truth, which just so happened to be the wizard’s first rule.

People are stupid.

My Ideal Bookshelf – Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies, William Golding

So far, the books from my Ideal Bookshelf are books I’ve read multiple times.

The Invasion, twice.

Marvel 1602, lost count.

Lord of the Flies, at least three times, possibly four.

The first time I attempted to read Lord of the Flies, I was in 5th grade and was reading it at my mom’s behest. I don’t really remember much about my impressions the first time reading it. I think it was a bit over my head for a 5th grade reading.

I am pretty sure I read it again, sometime in middle school, but alas, I cannot put my finger on exactly when. Mayhaps, in 8th grade?

My freshman year provided another opportunity to read it, as it was assigned reading along with The Pearl (which made me think I would always loathe Steinbeck, not the case) and Romeo and Juliet (which made me think I would always loathe Shakespeare, also, not the case).  Whether it was my disdain for the other two assigned readings (and how they were presented in class) or my finding Lord of the Flies to be a more mature version of Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, I loved it.

A survival story, sans adults, but with a look at how society works and how society thinks.

A Hatchet with constant moose attacks where the good guy doesn’t walk away unscathed and may not even walk away at all.

Kind of like life.

My Ideal Bookshelf – Marvel 1602

Marvel 1602, Neil Gaiman

I’ve always enjoyed comic books and superheroes.

I spent many a childhood weekend morning watching the likes of the X-Men, Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, and others save the world again and again. I had a small stack of random back issues and my sole graphic novel, The Death of Superman, in my adolescent space-then-fishing room and would read and reread them over and over again.

I no longer have any of those back issues, having given them to my mom for various art projects over the years.

Much to the disappointment of others, I did not grow out of my comic book reading. Heck, I spent the weekend Robert Kirkman’s Invincible series, Jason Aaron’s incontinuity Star Wars run, and the wildly fun Greg Pak series, The Totally Awesome Hulk. Let’s just say that the Hoopla app and the Marvel Unlimited app make my little ol’ nerd heart happy.

While I did read a comic book issue here and there, I never considered myself a comic book reader. This shift occurred during the summer before my junior year of high school. On my first trip to New York City, a trip to see musicals and sightsee, one of the tour guides kept telling me about the Batman: Hush story arc. I eventually made my way to Midtown Comics and purchased the first volume and wanting to pick up a souvenir for my brother walked away with the first volume of Ultimate X-Men, an alternate Marvel Universe series, which reintroduced the origin of the X-Men in a modern day setting and bypassed decades of continuity.

Batman: Hush was good, well written by Jeph Loeb and fantastic art by Jim Lee, but I still wasn’t a comic addict, yet. After returning from New York City, I wanted to find the second volume for Hush, and I made my way to a Tulsa comic book shop. It’s there that I found my fix and Neil Gaiman’s Marvel 1602.

I’d settled in for the long haul of reading the Ultimate X-Men and Ultimate Spider-Man series, but it was not until I found Marvel 1602 that I truly became a comic book reader.

On the bus to a contest speech tournament, I was admonished for reading it and not reviewing my lines, but I couldn’t put it down.

It was a fun and clever.

It was an escape.

Of Flying

As a child

I dreamt I floated away

In a hot air balloon

Sunset hewn clouds passed me by

Until I could not see the ground

 

I floated endlessly

Past other worlds and lifetimes

Beyond everything

Floating into nothingness

 

I wonder why that is the only dream I remember

That and dreaming of flying

And flying