Wednesday, January 28, 2009


The morning after...always provides better perspective. Let's face it, as a white woman with access to good education and parents with money, it's not like I've experienced oppression first hand. I have friends who experience it on a daily basis so I hear stories of shit happening all the time. My strong reaction is because of that...I've not built up a resistance or an expectation. Jeff was recently harassed in a bar and called a faggot by some ignorant young men. DQ was bowling with co-workers when some white guy started throwing around the "n" word. A young butch woman I know was discounted by her femmy friends saying she'd never understand the fear of being attacked by a man. My perspective on life is through a lens as a white, feminine, socially typical female. I need and want people in my life who see through different lenses so that my perspective can broaden. What remains upsetting to me is that our society continues to judge people based on outward appearances. Just because I present as "typical" female, doesn't mean that's what I am. Yes, I cook and clean, sew and nurture. But I also have tattoos, strategically placed piercings, am totally queer, radical and leftist. You don't know all this just by looking at me. My son has dreds down to the middle of his back, wears all black clothes and plays metal music. His appearance would portray bad ass, but in reality he's the nicest, gentlest young man you'll meet. He's kind and funny but you'd never know that if you can't get past the hair and bull ring in his nose.

All this is teaching me that we have so much more work to do in becoming humane in our treatment of one another. I have to work harder on calling out bull shit - my own and others - each time I see it. I have to work harder in setting aside the prejudices that I bring to my day.

And, keep looking for a job. I got two calls for interviews today. Life goes on even when I don't feel like doing so.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I'm White...

I had a job interview today for a job that I really wanted. The final outcome: I'm white. According to the interviewer: I rocked the interview, I have mad skills, everyone loved me. But I was up against a bi-racial woman and that was the key factor. I am both angry and sad. If no people of color had applied, would I have gotten the job? Have we liberal white folks gone so far to the left that we're using the same tactics as the right wingers? Basing decisions on a person's race? What if I was all the way Black up against a biracial person? Would that have trumped?

When the call came I was having a beer with a couple of my kids. As a parent, I have taught my kids to never judge based on outward appearances. People are people and their outside rarely says anything about the inside. During the interview, I commented on how everyone has pockets of bigotry that come up. It's when we recognize them and work towards changing them that we grow and society as a whole benefits.

When, when, will we ever get over using race as a qualifier or a denier of people? When, please, will we judge people on their individual qualities rather than what they look like? Until we do, every decision is a marred. If you're an ass, you're an ass and the color of your skin doesn't mitigate that.

In the midst of my anger and sad tears (it's never pretty crying in a bar), another call came with a job proposition from a much more conservative organization. My kid quips "the liberals don't want you but the Catholics embrace you." Too funny. A queer, tatted, pierced, loudmouth radical like me....

Saturday, January 17, 2009


A freind, or perhaps a stranger, last night said I was "giddy." The feeling is carrying over to today. I don't know if I've ever been in this place before...extremely the work I do, love where I live, have some amazing friends...seeing the accomplishment of goals...expanding myself...losing pieces of me that are no longer necessary...happy. It's hard to explain how I can be this happy and content with life when horrible things are happening around me. Someone I love with extreme passion and commitment is on self-destruct path, the people I work with are suffering intensely as budgets for vital services get cut and programs close, my closest friend is struggling with definition and direction and yet even with that going on, I am standing on solid ground and so incredibly peaceful. I'm learning to live with the dichotomy of good and bad mixing together. There's a Russian word that describes this:

Ecstasy and Injury. Feelings the mind think are incompatible, but the heart knows belong together. A state of being in which you have been taken down, brought to you knees humbled – when kaleidoscopic emotions of tenderness, humility, sadness and rapture all wash through you.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Words of Wisdom

This morning I'm working at a place where everyone is mentally ill, hear voices that no one else hears, sees things that no one sees and each has created a reality that may have little to do with reality. And I love it. One woman, when discussing kids, says that kids step on your toes when they're little and when they grow up, they step on your heart. I couldn't agree more. Kids are the epitome of dichotomy - they bring the greatest joy and cause the greatest pain. No one has the ability to hurt like a child hurts their parents. Even when it's unintentional. When it's intentional, it can be unbearable. Finding the strength to love through the hurt, the ability to love all the time no matter what, that's what makes someone a parent. Society has thrown away the people I work with, but they know more than we could ever imagine. Perhaps our reality is just too black and white, perhaps we need to get more comfortable in the grey reality that the people I work with live in.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Conflict as a creator of beauty

In all aspects of nature, conflict creates beauty. In order to get wood smooth and to a useful state, it is sanded - repeatedly peeling layers off to get to it's soft inner core. A diamond is the center of coal which must be destroyed to uncover the inner beauty. Rocks become shiny by being tossed by water and tumbling over other rocks until their smooth, shiny surface is exposed. In each instance, it is the conflict which exposes the inner core that creates the beauty. Humans are the same way, although we do all we can to avoid conflict and not have our inner parts exposed. It is making ourselves vulnerable, by walking into conflict, by showing strength to be tossed around a bit, that our vulnerablity exposed and thus our beauty. Our beauty is not found in our outer layers of tanned skin, dyed hair and painted nails. Our beauty is found at our core. At those vulnerable layers that require exposure in order to be seen. Stepping into conflict, living in ambiguity, moving about in the grey areas allows us to expose ourselves and allows others to expose those parts of ourselves that hold the most beauty.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Year...but returning to the old

It's a new year and most people are thinking about their future, doing some reflecting, making plans. I'm no different than most people. Instead of making up some new dream, some new goal, I'm returning to the dreams of my past. To those things that as a child I thought I would be, I knew I was intended to be. I love being a mom - it is both the greatest joy and greatest heartache I've ever experienced. Being a person who likes dichotomy and inconsistency, this seems to fit. For years, too many years, I defined myself as a mother. I forgot my individuality. I lost myself in the lives of others, burdened them with defining me. I'm through that and am returning to the definition of self that was created within me. I'm re-discovering old thoughts, old dreams and marrying them with new found passions and interests. I'm becoming wholly who I am. Mother, individual, female, activist, passionate, inconsistent, easily bored, unable to commit, funny, intelligent, articulate...random. I'm on a path now that will allow me to be fully this. To combine my insatiable curiosity about people with the love of teaching as well as immerse myself in people's lives for short periods of time. I've not been this excited and this "right" feeling before. For the first time in months, I feel like writing.