I Quit with Much Rejoicing

Linda1I may have hinted I was unhappy, in reality absolutely and utterly miserable in my current employment. Nailing down the why’s hasn’t been easy. Truthfully, I knew some of the reasons but not all from the very beginning. The honest to goodness, oh my gawd, get me out of this madness fact was I was miserable nearly from the day I walked in the door and it only got worse. Exponentially worse each and every single day, it also got easier to identify the reasons why. Finally, this month I had enough of all of it, with great trepidation, I made a decision that I may well come to regret but is nonetheless the right decision for me.

I QUIT.

Yes, you read that correctly. I had enough, I reached my limit my wits end and I wrote my letter of resignation and pushed the send button. I had been contemplating this move for months, seriously contemplating for weeks but then it hit me and I hit the wall of ‘done’ and pushed send. Thinking to myself as that letter went out, ‘shit, can I take it back’.

Last year was very difficult for me, emotionally and financially. I was out of work for nearly six months, ran through my savings and was down to my last month of emergency funds when I accepted the position with my current employer. I had high hopes. I had made the decision to go from being self-employed to returning to the corporate world, to what I thought would be my last istock_000008650446small_custom-6ce6bb326422c9899f3e1b667f9bcae2444a689c-s6-c30job before retirement. I had researched this company, had spoken to more than twelve (12) people within the organization up and down the food chain. I was impressed with what I had seen and heard, I was happy with the salary and benefits, I was happy with the role I was taking. I was excited!

I wanted this to be wonderful.

Then reality hit, it hit hard and fast; it hit like a freight train and rolled over me, squashing me into the ground within the first two weeks. Honestly, I was left questioning my sanity, competency and value. I did not know where to turn, did not know whom to ask and did not have any direction. My boss was incommunicado, his boss simply said, ‘be patient’. The entire environment was toxic and I was miserable, I kept thinking it would get better; it didn’t.

Now less than a year later, I QUIT.

Scary as hell really, with bills to pay and a mortgage I am returning to independence. I am returning to contract work. I am going back to having some control over the environments I work within and those I work for and with every day. Is there risk? Yes, absolutely there is huge risk. Especially since I haven’t had time to rebuild my emergency fund. Nevertheless, misery is a far greater problem than the alternative, the possibility I might not stay busy and paid.

toxic-stress-response-pageIs it really I don’t have the patience to work within a corporate environment where the answer to many questions of inefficiency is, ‘this is the way it is always done’. Or is it that in my industry, consulting and IT, the culture is so toxic today I simply am incapable of surviving. I suspect it might be a mix of the two. Where the only concern is the bottom line, quality and human beings take a backseat. There is of course one other problem that everyone is afraid to mention, afraid to say aloud and that is cultural misalignment that has taken place within most large IT Consulting firms in the last decade.

Our industry, like so many others has been first outsourced then in-sourced through the H1B program, American workers replaced by primarily Indian workers. In the case of my employer, many  of management was Indian (2:1), most at my level were Indian (3:1), those one level below me (5:1) were Indian. Senior leadership of course were primarily American, this is the C-level those who were the face of the company but in all honesty they didn’t affect the lives of those of us who had to function with clients, or with each other day in and day out.

I am all for diversity in the workforce, however when it begins to create a toxic work environment I believe there needs to be something done. The fact of the matter is, when cultures collide especially in work environments all of us need to ask why and what we can do to fix the problem. We shouldn’t avoid the problem; we shouldn’t ignore what is causing the problem. We have an obligation to address the issues and create solutions, for our employees, our clients and our shareholders.

The H1B program was designed to bring qualified resources into the US, employers then sponsor those employees into Green Cards and even onwards towards their Citizenship. This provides large employers such as IBM, HP, Microsoft a source of educated IT professionals at a very low cost. Since the late ‘90’s when the program was expanded the program has brought millions of resources into the US and in turn sent millions of American professionals into the shadow economy of contracting versus full-time employment. One of the reasons for this is cost but as I think I have found out the cost is offset by the loss of organizational culture, the change in workplace culture is incompatible with our psyche and professional expectations, especially if we are women.

I QUIT.10402430_10205015207440428_9211021343351180985_n

Yes, I did that. Today is officially my last day. Yesterday I handed over all my gear, my computer, my phone, my badge. Today if they need something they can call my personal phone, I don’t expect they will though. My resignation caused some angst, though I suspect also it caused some small rejoicing, as I was a thorn in the side of some. I do not regret my decision to accept the position, I do regret allowing myself to stay longer than I should have hoping that it would get better.

So onward and upward, the lesson I learned is to not allow others to treat me badly while making excuses for their bad behavior. Culture is not an excuse.

I QUIT and now I start something new.

Stepping into Who I Am

Linda1My dear friend over at Single Working Mom inspired me to write about how we, as women, seem to lose ourselves in our effort to ‘fit’. Visit her post, which inspired this one here.

Stepping into who I am, I think that is what I have been trying to do for more than a year maybe even more than a decade. I simply didn’t know this is what I was doing. All the small acts of rebellion, the tiny bits and pieces I kept trying to reclaim, that was me saying to the world and those who wished me to be otherwise; really, just leave me be to find me in a world I never truly fit or that never fit me perfectly.

I fail to understand why it is so difficult for women especially to claim ourselves completely, to step into the space we occupy without apology. It seems though, there are very few of us who are not in some way apologizing for who or what we are on a daily basis. We bow to the whims of those who dictate to us the terms of beauty and desirability allowing our self-worth to be undermined by how others define it and thus what we see in the mirror is far too often unacceptable, unbeautiful and unworthy of love.

Far too many of us, reshape ourselves to be what others want of us and accept harsh judgment as truth when we fail to meet standards which are either impossible, not our choice, even sometimes ridiculous. We shrink to take up less space, we speak softly or not at all so as not offend, we apologize for our opinions and our needs and do so without thinking in doing so we are apologizing for ourselves, for our very being. We accept harsh words as truth and demands to change ourselves, make ourselves different so we might fit another person’s fantasy, simply so they will touch us in the night, with the light off.

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When I read For Me and For Her it got me thinking about all the things I had done over the course of my nearly 15 year marriage that I resented and how I have slowly begun to shed them. It also got me thinking about the shell I have slowly started to crack open around me, about as I said how I am beginning to step into myself into who I am, perhaps who I was meant to be. I am certain I have a very long way to go before I am fully in the moment with myself, nevertheless it is a starting point and one I believe I should own with pride. I think it is difficult when we are in the middle of hurting to realize how much we give up, so someone will love us. Sometimes how much we lose of ourselves so the person we promised to love will continue to love us.

I am finding I don’t want to be loved if it isn’t for the me that is real; hardheaded, opinionated, pragmatic, softhearted, introverted and creative; someone who has lived life fully and been down a few dark alleys. I don’t want to be touched if it isn’t touching me with the lights on, seeing all of me; scars, dimpled flesh, imperfections, tattoos all of me. I don’t want to be made over. I don’t want to be hidden.

These words hurt me, still hurt me on some level and I am still fighting to breathe through them and find me behind them.

“You are more beautiful as a blonde that as how I met you and that is how you should stay.”

“You are too pale, I think you are more beautiful with a tan. You look too White without one.”

“I hate when you let your hair grow. You look better when it is short and I am not as attracted to you when it is long.”

“If you get a tattoo I will divorce you.”

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Here is the thing about all of those, they all represented ‘things’ that were not me.

  1. I am a natural brunette. My natural color is damned near black, though now days it has a great deal of grey.
  2. I have pale olive toned skin. I love my complexion, though I tan easily for years I have protected my skin. Further, tanning is dangerous this didn’t seem to matter so long as I wasn’t too White. What the hell did this mean anyway?
  3. The first time I cut my hair it was down to the middle of my back. I cut it because I couldn’t brush it, I cut it because I was recovering from gunshots and I needed to make life easier for myself. I never intended to keep it short and certainly not that short. Yes, it was funky and fun, especially the pale blonde, but it was hard to maintain. I never felt like me.
  4. When we met I had Tattoo’s, it wasn’t a secret I didn’t hide them. I also made no secret I want more. Why did I ever allow myself to be bullied into a corner?

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Worse, yes even worse than being bullied into a corner. Why did I allow myself to feel unlovable, undesirable and without value simply because of cruel words and the lack of touch. Now, a year later I am beginning to figure some of it out, some of the hurt is falling away and letting me see what is beneath. I don’t love what I see, but I do love that I am able to reach into the hurt and find me.

It is these slow and careful steps we take, these questions we ask that allow us to walk into the world fully owning the space we inhabit, not asking for forgiveness or how we can mold ourselves to fit another person’s desires. I want to be desired, loved and wanted for me, just me. I want to be chased around the room and thrown on the bed, because I am me not someone else but me. I want my words to enflame passion, my heart to sooth, my body to excite and my soul to provide a resting place. I want all of that to be just me, without a demand for change.

So I will continue to step into who I am and tell those who think I should be otherwise to take a flying leap.

Thou Art Woman

OpEdI was reading something the other day; don’t ask me what, please. My mind has been shattered by a plethora of recent events and thus my memory is entirely gone. Anyway, I was reading something written by a man, it was quite profound and moved me. The gist of it was the trajectory of this man’s life, from childhood through misspent youth, through early adulthood in and out of the justice system, to redemption. I wish I had saved this article, I wish I had bookmarked and could find it again. The one thing that stood out for me though was his final thought, when asked what he wanted to achieve:

I want to be a man”.

This stood out to me, men can say this and everyone nods their heads and understands exactly what it means. Maybe there are small differences based on culture, nationality but everyone understands and applauds. We all get the gist of this statement, we all know what it means and nod our head in agreement, this is a worthwhile goal.

I want to be a man”.

I want to be a provider, I want to be a protector, I want to care for those who depend on me, I want to stand tall in my community, I want to be a father and husband. Certainly, I have missed things in this, I am sure there are those who are of the other gender (men) who could add to the list. The point is most of us understand the statement, ‘I want to be a man’.

WORKING MAN

Do you wonder where I am going with this? The point is women do not have a similar all-encompassing gender specific ‘thing’ that defines us. Women cannot say, ‘I want to be a woman’, with equal authority and have this statement be universally understood and applauded. Truthfully, were we to make this statement most would stare at us as if we had just lost our minds, or they would check under our clothing to determine what chromosome set we were born with.

Since I read that story I have found myself with women I know well, women of different backgrounds, generations, political persuasions and faiths and I have asked the question, ‘what is the one word to define us as women, that equals the statement I want to be a man’.

Sometimes this question has been met with stares before a list of different roles women might play in their lives, roles that do not encompass our entirety, our completeness. Other times the question engendered a lively debate with some of my more feminist friends landing on the side that women are multi-dimensional and thus cannot be put in a box.

I called bullshit on that one.

Listening to all the debates, I was struck by how we view ourselves as women and how we are viewed. There truly isn’t a single definitive word in the English language that defines us, that allows us to define ourselves. We are so many things, often we are the things that being a man means, we are protectors and providers, left on our own to fill voids. We are also other things, in the process we fight to retain our individual identity, as well as, who we are as women.

So I ask what do you want to be. Who do you want to be? What is the one word that you want to define you?

While you consider your answer, this is what I want to define me. Listen to Ruthie Foster as she puts Maya Angelou’s poem to music.

Imprinted for Life, Attractions

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe power of attraction, what attracts us to another person is personal and fundamental. There are all sorts of ‘professional’ studies about this, do a search on Google and you will find everything from pheromone studies to Plato’s original Affinity theories. In more recent times social scientist who have proposed first the ‘Law of Attraction’ where Like attracts Like based on Plato’s theory, even more recently the Opposites Attract theory and everything in-between. Of course, lest we forget there is the ‘you will like what I told you to like’ and the ‘I will like exactly what you told me not to like’ theories, generally though these apply only to teenagers. Finally, there is that oft told and all too often snickered about mother or father fixations, better known as the Oedipus Complex.

The truth is I don’t believe any of us know what heats us up, gets our blood to boil and our panties in a twist. Not a single one of us knows what causes us to follow with our eyes down the street that man or woman we find particularly appealing;  none of us I think knows why return time and again to the neighborhood coffee shop to drool over the uncommonly beautiful barista. It is unlikely any of us could point to the place in time when our desires were set down for us, when we became fixated on a certain type and this became ‘our type’ forever and ever, amen.

We all have a type; don’t lie all of us have one. Even if you didn’t always date your type, hell even if you didn’t marry your ‘type’, you have one, I have one we all have one. That particular type of human we find we want to wrap ourselves around, that type of face that draws us, that type of body that excites us, that tone of voice that beckons us, yes even the personality that calls to our inner desires and needs. Put all of what we want into one single package and we are done, we are right there heart throbbing and knees weak. But first, we see with our eyes what somewhere in our mind we have defined as our ‘type’.

I have a type; I suspect I even know the genesis of my type. My type runs counter to social norms and has my entire life. My type has gotten me into trouble back in the 1970’s when following my personal choices wasn’t as accepted as it is interracialtoday. In retrospect, considering my relationship history I believe it is important that we understand what it is we want, that we own our desires and our choices. I think it is vital we never settle for just who wants us but for whom we want and what we want.

Do our desires change? I think they do, change is inevitable. I think as we mature our understanding of what makes us happy and what we need from relationships changes. I also think we grow less reluctant to ask for what we need. What perhaps doesn’t change is our ability to easily verbalize our needs, desires and boundaries. We are the amalgamation of all that has come before; we are our history without pretty packaging and brilliant ribbons for the unwrapping. For some of us and I certainly fall into this category, fear is a constant companion when attempting to ask for what we need or want.

I said I had a type and that I suspected I knew how mine was imprinted; I was quite young when I met Winston. Living in Germany I attended an Army base school part of the week but was not an Army Brat, this made me different from the other students and subject to bullying. I was also younger and smaller than other children in my class, another source of great amusement for my classmates and one they took great advantage of at every opportunity. I hated that school, I hated them and I hated the teachers for not protecting me. I spent a great deal of time alone during recess, book in hand finding dark corners so none of those little bastards could hurt me. Sometimes I would climb a tree, which is where Winston found me one day.

Winston was a year older, a grade ahead tall and gangly. His father was a Sargent in the Army and Winston already was a leader in his class and on the playground, much like his father. He had a brilliant smile, tight curly hair shaved close to his head and his skin was like chocolate milk. The day I met him he climbed the tree I was in and asked why I was up there alone all the time. When I told him, he frowned and climbed back down and wandered away. From that day until we moved back to the US, Winston became my protector. I ate lunch with him and his cadre of friends, if I wanted to read I did it in full sight of others and no one bothered me, ever. I was invited to birthday parties and other childhood functions. Winston never told me what he did, I guess it was a boy thing but from that day on, he became my ‘type’.images

So what is my type? Need you ask?

Tall

Milk Chocolate Skin

Strong

Take Charge

A protector

Okay, let’s just say it shall we. I like Black Men better than I like White Men. I fundamentally find Black Men more attractive. This isn’t to say I have never found a White Man attractive; it is simply that I find Black Men more attractive, physically that is my ‘Type’. Did Winston imprint me when I was eight years old? I suspect he did, I suspect his kindness in light of all the bullying had a profound effect on my psych, but it is unlikely this is the only reason.

I was raped at eleven by White Boys, they did grave harm to me. My first real boyfriend, the first person who showed me real kindness after that rape was Black at fourteen. I was a runaway, most of the horror stories from the streets during my time there was by those of my own race. By the time I got off the streets, I was imprinted with fear of men of my own race.

I say all this for a reason, I like men, I did not become Lesbian it is not something you become you either are or not Gay. On the other hand, what you find attractive, what your ‘type’ is within the context of your sexual orientation, this is an entirely different issue. Though my ‘type’ is certainly not always socially acceptable it is nonetheless mine, my choice in partners is mine alone. Were it not for the landmark 1967 anti-miscegenation case of Loving vs. State of Virginia, my choice would still be illegal. My question then, how is my ‘type’ different than sexual orientation of others and why are we still discussing their Civil / Marriage Rights. Doesn’t it make sense that all members of society should have the same rights?

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I am just curious about this mind you but your thoughts are most welcome.

Going Hard and Soft

Sleeping BeautyMen go hard for what they truly want, so if he isn’t going hard for you; you aren’t what he truly wants, walk away and be grateful for the heads-up.

I saw something close to the above the other day traveling through the Facebook pages of women I know. I thought to myself, ‘yes, this is probably true but for one thing’, the women they are chasing. You know, all of us, we are not always the easiest, softest or most accessible targets in creation for them to ‘go hard for’ or catch. So, if going after us ‘hard’ doesn’t seem to be happening, should we take at least part of the blame for our decision to demand political correctness over hard courtship.

Think about it ladies, what is it we want or what message is it we send when we talk about men, whether the men in our lives or the men we want in our lives. Do we send a mixed message? Does the man of our fantasy come with a pair of clippers we can use to emasculate him upon capturing his attention? Do we have a secret rule book we pull out and does it match up to what we say we want in a man? Are we truly prepared for what it is we want from a man or are we blowing smoke up our own skirts?

A few weeks ago I wrote a post that defined the beginnings of the Grown Assed Man I wanted in my life sometime in the future. I said then I wasn’t ready, since then I have been challenged in my thinking, part of the challenge was would I recognize that mystery man if he showed up on my doorstep, the other part though was what would I do if he did. I think all of us, women that is, have to consider those questions; this is especially true if we have a history, whether it is a love history, marriage history or any history involving men and our relationship to them. All of our history goes into making us, we wrap ourselves in layers of protective swaddling bought with our hearts and hurts, only showing what we choose only letting in what we think is safe. We have learned, from our sisters over wine and bitch sessions, ‘Grown Assed Men’ might not be the safest partners, in fact though we build our fantasies around strong, capable, smart and sometimes militant men, ones who will ‘go hard’ after us and make us feel desired in every part of our lives, these are not the men we allow to catch us, these men scare the hell out of us. These men, these hard, grown assed men, they tell us they want to own our hearts, our souls, our bodies and while we might want to polish the silver platter and hand it over, kneeling crawlingdown in front of them to do so, most of us won’t do it, we will run hard and fast in the other direction. These men are not what we have been taught to let catch us.

What we have learned, from our friends, from modern life, from hours upon hours of media, from divorce is to be hard ourselves. We have learned to show no weakness, as women we have defined ourselves based on our strength, our ability to take everything on without being dependent. We have learned that showing submissiveness, even in our private lives is a sign of weakness rather than strength and trust. What we are in the boardroom carries into all facets of our lives, from home, to money to bedroom; no quarter asked or given. As women we have armored ourselves against the world and told men to stand down and stand aside; don’t open our doors, don’t pull out our chairs, don’t stroke us, pet us, pamper us or otherwise treat us like ladies or cherished, don’t act like our protectors. Don’t behave as if we need protection or are in anyway ‘inferior’ or we will kick them in the balls, emasculate them with our sharp tongues. If we feel we are at all threatened by the strength and will of that grown assed man we secretly wanted but were scared to death to open up to, scared our friends would hate, scared we would give too, we will run like hell. What we run to is someone softer, some other model more complicit in our agreement to lie to ourselves about what it is we truly want.

Men go hard for what they truly want? Why though would they want us in our bitterness.

Women need to begin to do the same, our going hard needs to be some self-examination though. If we are afraid of the fantasy of the grown assed man who will treat us properly, perhaps it is us not them. If we run to hard from that man showing up on our doorstep, we might need to look inside ourselves and ask why we don’t recognize what is standing before us, instead turning to what is weak and unable to cherish our strength and our spirit. If a man holds your door, wraps his arm around you to keep you from stumbling, acts as your strength so you can simply feel are you trapped or freed? As women we need to begin looking at the trap we have set for ourselves, with our demand we be treated just like them.

Our strength isn’t diminished by our softness, we are women our softness, our ability to feel and heal is part of our strength. We are the flip side of the coin, not the same side. Why do we want to emulate men, mystery-manrather than strengthen them? Yes, I know there are parts of our lives we are and should be absolutely on equal ground, work, education, opportunity and pay. This though is not what I am talking about and I would never suggest I don’t believe in equality in the boardroom, only that perhaps we have carried our demands for equality too far.

It is simply my rambling thoughts for the day. I don’t know what I would do if that Grown Assed Man showed up on my doorstep. I hope as I continue to explore my relationship with myself and my mystery man, I will figure it out.

Pro Ugly

soapboxpileThe announcement by Chelsea Clinton of her impending motherhood later this year brought out the hate, we should have known it would. As I read some of the twits tweeting, I thought to myself, is there nothing, nothing at all off-limits or out of bounds. My other thought was, ‘God people are mean-spirited and ugly’.

How did we get this way?

The argument surrounding abortion is a nasty one. Full of spite, religious rhetoric, name-calling, slut shaming and vitriol.  There is no one, not a single person I know who is Pro-Abortion, only those who are pro-choice; thinking human beings, mature adults who have found the wherewithal to understand there are reasons, sometimes emotional and other times physical a woman may choose to end a pregnancy.

I told my own very personal abortion story in three parts:

Part I is No Bastards No Choice

Part II is Never Again, I Will Hate You

Part III is History isn’t Mutable, But We Are

It isn’t a pretty story, no hearts and flowers there is no happy ending. My personal story doesn’t put a positive spin on choice. It does however; reinforce the need for choice to exist for every woman in this nation, no matter her age, socio-economic or marital status.

This fight, it truly isn’t over ‘babies’, were it over ‘babies’ we would not see children living on the streets, living in cars without enough to eat, without enough to wear in the winter, without clean water. Were this truly about the ‘babies’ we would not be fighting to keep intact programs to provide for born children, for healthcare, education and their overall welfare and well-being.

No this is not about ‘babies’ or children. This fight is about slut shaming and it is about religious imposition. This fight is about smashing a great big red A or S depending on which you prefer on the breast of every woman who demands a life of her own, including the freedom to choose how, when and with whom she will have sex.

A and S extended

The fight over abortion has been ugly; it is about more than abortion though and none of us should ever forget this salient truth. It is about access to healthcare for women and children, as well as, access to birth control for all women and young men too. This fight has extended well beyond the fight over access to safe abortion, it is about whether women have the right to control their lives, not just their reproductive lives, their entire lives including economic, educational and even whom they choose as partners. This fight is about our future as women in this nation, thus it is also about the future of men.

I will not get into the science of when a pregnancy represents a viable human life, we honestly could argue this issue day in and day out and it would break down into name calling and ideology within no more than five comments. I tend to believe what those who have studied human development, embryology and medical science tell me, for a view of the entire process I quite like Visible Embryo I think this site does a superior job of showing and telling the story.

We use conventions to identify the sides of this battle over women, their bodies and their choices. Naming the one side Pro Life is inaccurate and poorly defines them. I do not want to spend time defining the contradiction of the Pro-Life platform with some of their other ideologies, suffice to say it is impossible to align them, at least for me.

This isn’t to say all those who are ‘Pro-Life’ fall into the vehement and ugly ideologies some are truly well meaning with sincerely held beliefs. Arguing with these folks regarding ensoulment is a waste of breath. My preference is simply to accept their beliefs and explain gently I have a different belief and am entitled to it, Constitutionally. I then ask, if you are truly Pro-Life do you support the following and if so how do you align that support:

  • Reduction of SNAP
  • Reduction of Education programs, for adults and children
  • Reduction in funding for after school programs and Head Start
  • Reduction in funding for Free Lunch programs
  • Reduction in WIC
  • Reduction to programs to help disadvantaged neighborhoods and youth
  • Reduction to Planned Parenthood funding, which is sometimes the only source of healthcare for women
  • Reduced access to Birth Control for women
  • Abstinence only education

I have likely missed several programs; these were the ones I could think of off the top of my head that directly affected women and children already born, in this world and needing our help every day.

Getting back to what spurred this entire rant though, poor Chelsea. She no sooner announces the happy and momentous news that she will be delivering her first child later this year the ugly begins. What is it with the The Ninth Annual CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Awards - Inside Arrivalsopposition; nothing can simply be a happy announcement of a new stage of a young woman’s life. This nation is all turned in and upside down when Kim Kardashian delivers a child or when the royal family has another prince. For these events, we spend hours of bandwidth. But for the daughter of a President, we have nothing but scorn?

All I can say at this point, there is no one I know who is Pro-Abortion. Many I know who are Pro-Choice, without qualification or question. Should there be limitations in the later stages of pregnancy, yes of course, however these are well known and accepted by all right thinking human beings. The ugliness of this argument and how it leaks into everything, even the happy announcement of a young women who is not in the public eye except infrequently is simply another indication of how very ugly this nation has become. It makes me sad.

A good read (short).

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-aaron-alexander/stop-calling-it-a-pro-life-movement_b_3577440.html

Wendy Davis Kicked It

KickmIt has been a very long time since I have been to a political event. This is not because I am disinterested in politics, as anyone who reads me knows. The truth is since my shooting I have an abiding fear of crowds. It is difficult for me to quell my fear, to stop my heart beating outside of my chest. Nevertheless, I did it. In fact, I did it twice in one day and I am glad I did.

On 3-October-2013, Texas Senator Wendy Davis announced she was entering the race for Governor. I was there! The invocation by Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Brooks was old school church, moving and at times funny. In my mind, his most appropriate request:

“We ask you, Lord, to change her pink running shoes into combat boots … so she can do battle against the negative forces that rule this state”.

Following the invocation, former TXU executive Alex Jimenez introduced Senator Davis with his own story of climbing from pole setter to Vice President at the largest power company in Texas. His story was met with cheers from the crowd even if his former employers name was met with jeers. Mr. Jimenez provided a fabulous backdrop to what is possible in Texas, just as Ms. Davis does. Their friendship extends back to her days on the Fort Worth City Council where she chaired the Council on Economic development.

Ms. Davis bounded onto the stage as “This Girl is on Fire” by Alicia Keyes played, the crowd was on their feet and enthusiasm was obvious. I must tell you, my nerves were on edge even as I was happy to be there, excited to be part of Texas politics and thrilled to see a woman of integrity with values close to my own fearlessly stand up knowing just how hard this next year was going to be. Make no mistake; this year is going to be hard for Wendy Davis. Even before she announced her intention to run, the attack dogs were out. Before the black drapes were pulled off her campaign signs, the ugly was being prepared and the negative ads were hitting the airwaves in Texas. From outside Texas things were just as nasty, those tweets rolled off, here are just a few examples:

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Of course, lest we forget we have our own champions of ignorance right here in Texas and one of them is currently the front-runner in the gubernatorial race. Greg Abbott is a hypocrite, a far right conservative, a friend and supporter of Ted Cruz; the Tea Party was damned near made for his brand of politics. This man got rich because of a freak accident, not just a little rich mind you but $10M or more rich. He is now a fervent advocate of Tort Reform and derides those who represent individuals in personal injury lawsuits. He has also never seen fit to defend or support others with disabilities; in fact, he has more than once made social gaffes like this one:

GregAbbott

We can only hope Greg Abbott continues down this path to become the Clayton Williams of this campaign, making it ever so much easier to show the stark contrast of the GOP Neanderthal thinking. Honestly? It doesn’t appear we have made much progress since ole’ Clayton made his ridiculous statements about Ann Richards and rape during their hard fought 1990 campaign. He out spent her 2:1 and was at the time considered a shoe in for the Austin Governor’s Mansion, until this:

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Currently Greg Abbott has approximately $25M in his war chest, much of it from out of state. There are no viable sources to tell us where his current war chest comes from yet. However if the history holds true we can expect when Follow the Money, Open Secrets and other reporting agencies start reporting numbers we will see a similar trend to Mr. Cruz and Mr. Perry, millionaires, Big Business, Banking, Big Oil and the far Right-Wing Paks contributing big dollars to keep Texas Red. The single issue nutcases were already out when I pulled up on Thursday, signs a-waving with “Keep Texas Red” and “Pro-Life Texas”, all I could think was dumbasses. I was hoping for a picture of them but by the time I had parked and walked back the police had moved them off.

It was a good day in Haltom City and later in Fort Worth at the reception. People were energized, applauding during all the speeches. The crowd was mixed, all ages from the very young to the octogenarian, every ethnicity and race was represented on the floor and in the surrounding seats. People were smiling, talking to strangers and kind, even for me with my nerves somewhat frayed by the crowd, it was a good day.

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Ms. Davis gave a good speech, she talked about her own humble beginnings and why she cares. She focused on how great Texas could be if we got out from under the yoke of Republican rule and the decimation of our education system and the deep cuts to our healthcare, no not women’s healthcare but our overall Texas Healthcare. She focused on the needs of the state, the needs of all citizens to achieve our goals through opportunity. She spoke for just under 15 minutes and she had the crowd on their feet. Most people don’t know Ms. Davis staged her first filibuster on the $5B cuts proposed by Rick Perry and his cohorts in the Republican Party to our education system. Her most recent filibuster for which she is better known wasn’t her first trip to the rodeo.

Senator Davis ended her announcement with this:

“Until every child from Longview to Lubbock to McAllen to Mesquite makes it to a stage like this, and gets their diploma, and knows that nothing will wash out the road to their future dreams, we will keep going,” she said. “Until the corridors of power are the corridors of the people, until problem-solving trumps partisanship, until our state is ‘a lot less lone and a lot more star,’ we will keep going. As long as we can make this great state even greater, we will keep going. Because with the right kind of leadership, the great state of Texas will keep its sacred promise that where you start has nothing to do with how far you can go.”

http://www.davis.senate.state.tx.us/

http://www.policymic.com/articles/51249/10-facts-about-wendy-davis-the-rookie-state-senator-from-texas

http://www.austinchronicle.com/blogs/news/2011-06-06/who-is-wendy-davis/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2013/07/15/five-things-to-know-about-greg-abbott/

http://www.austinchronicle.com/blogs/news/2013-08-19/greg-abbott-and-the-fail-whale/

http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2013-09-20/abbott-more-twitter-troubles/

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/08/20/1122097/-Clayton-Williams-Victims-of-Rape-Should-Relax-and-Enjoy-It

http://votesmart.org/candidate/campaign-finance/50168/greg-abbott#.UlAsnFDoZ8E

http://www.followthemoney.org/database/StateGlance/candidate.phtml?c=116443

Appease or Alone

Sleeping BeautyWhether negotiating a peace treaty between warring nations or who will do the dishes, each side has in mind a desired outcome. The parties come to the table girded for a war of words, their negotiating tactics firmly in mind. Each party, whether they admit it or not wants the upper hand, wants to win.

Do you find yourself wanting to win? Maybe just who makes the coffee in the morning or whether the coffee cup belongs in the sink or the dishwasher sometimes these simple things grow into what breaks us with resentment. Marriage, partnerships whatever we find ourselves in are not hearts and flowers all the time despite what we would like others to believe; indeed they are often something far more challenging than negotiating a piece of contentious legislation or world peace.

Princess Bride Forever

Princess Bride Forever

With the pronouncement of solemn vows, the agreement to love, honor and cherish something shifts. We think the honeymoon will last forever, it doesn’t; truthfully it cannot life has a habit of moving in with you when you return from paradise. We may believe roles don’t or won’t change, they do and they will.

No matter how clearly we have drawn our lines in the sand, written our boundaries (in our heads), those little words “till death do you part” have a profound effect on both of you. Whether it is social norms, cultural norms, gender norms or a combination of all of these, whatever you thought during courtship will change.

In the politics of relationships our hearts and our futures are on the line, we have often invested years in our marriages / partnerships. It is what you do when negotiating your relationship, your boundaries and your future that makes or breaks you. Not just your relationship but you.

  •   Concede – Accede
  •   Appeasement – Concession
  •   Compromise – Reconciliation

The above are words we might think of, might act out in the rough waters of our marriage or partnerships. Only one pairing has a good outcome, yet all too often, we find ourselves doing something other than what is healthy, what is good for our relationship and ultimately us as individuals.

We make concessions, or concede our positions on some points. Perhaps these are minor, things we can easily give. Concerns that have no real bearing on our long-term happiness or the foundation of our relationship or the agreements we thought we had made. But wait, before we accede do we talk about them, do we discuss why these concessions matter or do we simply give in, setting the pattern for all future interactions within our relationship.

My mom & dad 1951

My mom & dad 1951

With each concession, do we allow our resentment to grow? Do we disappear under the weight of another person and his or her demands for ‘their way’? Do we become a passive member of our relationship simply to appease the other, out of fear of loss, fear of public condemnation or shame, fear of loneliness. What happens to our ego or our boundaries as we appease, as we concede positions?

The boundary we established for ourselves that line in our mind the one that said we would be a full partner has now changed. We have agreed to a different more passive role in our relationship, without realizing or acknowledging the change in our status. Our emotional investment in the relationship is greater than our partners, it is no longer an equal partnership. Truthfully, it is no longer a partnership at all, rather it is a relationship without balance.

Can a new balance be established?

Is it possible for you to reassert yourself, redraw the boundaries and redefine your needs within a relationship where you have practiced appeasement for peace. This is a question I suspect many women in my generation ask

wikipedia.com

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themselves. We teeter between fear of growing old alone and resentment when we have given too much of ourselves away. We are a hybrid of our mothers and Betty Friedan, we burned our bras yet shopped for the perfect wedding dress. We demanded equality in the workplace, yet remain uncertain how to negotiate equivalence in our homes.

We talk a good game, yet we still lose ourselves within our desire to be loved, needed and not alone. Initially we might say, it is small perhaps even it is nothing. The coffee cup in the sink rather than the dishwasher, the bed unmade or love notes unwritten on our heart. It is important though, are we conceding authentic self, our true need for the sake of not being alone? Is not being alone enough?

These are questions I hear from more and more women today, women my age. Women in long-term marriages, both first and second go-arounds, seem to be questioning their relationships and their standing within those relationships. Are we having another awakening?

Our Body Our Self id

I have been thinking lately about how I see myself and it causes me some angst, this has been on my mind a weight on my heart even. I know, it shouldn’t I am a tough old broad, generally not given to inner flights of fancy or brooding about what cannot be changed. My fifty-fifth birthday has come and gone now, I am past middle age and heading towards, well something else entirely.

Why am I noodling this? What am I really talking about; I am talking about Me, Myself, I, Id, Ego; all the things that make me ME. More importantly, I am talking about what I see in the mirror of my mind versus how others judge me when they see me on the street or meet me for the first time. Perhaps even more hurtful it is how those close to me offer up their helpful suggestions and thoughts on my ‘health’ and appearance.

I wonder does it never cross their minds to ask, “How do you feel today?”

Can it be that even those closest to me have decided I made a personal choice and it was to be fat? Do the people who claim they love me honestly think (this is a stretch, the thinking part) this is the look I chose? That I enjoy being laughed at on the street, dismissed as lazy and worse stupid. Do those who profess their care for me truly believe I don’t see myself, know my ass enters the room approximately thirty-two seconds after my boobs? Do they think this doesn’t bother me?

Of course it does you bunch of insensitive social incompetents!

There was a time in my life I wanted to be a Ballerina, I wanted to float across the floor in beautiful flowing costumes en pointe’ making art with my body. Then my body betrayed me, my ballet teacher smacked my breasts emerging like angry beehives from my chest and explained in her thick Russian accent, “No prima ballerina has breasts like a peasant!”

Ten years of grinding practice only to be told my peasant breasts were not the stuff of ballerinas. Nevertheless, I continued to dance, because I loved it. I also took gymnastics, rode horses, skied, ran, played soccer and did many other things all because I loved them. After all, with prima ballerina off the table everything else was on! There were times I brutalized my body, it didn’t matter I just kept going. I tore my knees up; I would walk again long before they healed properly.

I learned many forms of dance from ballet to belly; dance was my favorite form of expression and art. Dance was my heart.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

100 pounds.

That is how much I gained in the first two years after I was shot. Sometimes I lose some of it. Then I have another setback, another surgery or another round of partial paralysis. The reality is I don’t think I will ever lose it, not ever. Before I was shot I had already gained weight, I was in a miserable marriage and I was unhappy, I wasn’t fat but I was no longer thin and perfect either.

I wonder I look at those words and I wonder no longer thin and perfect. What does that mean, perfect in what respect and perfect according to what measurement. Who or what am I measuring myself against?

Now at fifty-five I use wonderful words to describe myself, words like Zaftig, which is one of my favorites. I laugh along with others at the shallowness of a society that would dare to judge me on my dress size without taking the time to value my intellect, my capabilities or my accomplishments. The reality is their judgment hurts. My own judgment hurts truthfully I am diminished by both.

Don’t you want to lose weight?

I am asked this question quite frequently. The answer is always the same, of course I do you nitwits. I also want to live without pain, wake up every morning leap out of bed without any numb spots anywhere on my body. Given a choice, I will take pain free over thin any day of the week. I won’t achieve that one in my lifetime either.

Would I like to lose weight?

Certainly, I would love to lose weight. I would love to shop in stores that didn’t specialize for ‘fat girls’. I would love to go to the gym and not feel ashamed; in fact, I would love to not be afraid to go to the gym.

I would like to go to the gym and take a yoga class where not everyone looked like they just stepped off the pages of Cosmopolitan. Why isn’t there ever a beginner’s class for fat people?

I would like to go to the gym and not feel like an alien, not be stared at as if I belonged somewhere else, anywhere else but there.

I would like for people to see me and not judge me. I would like to look in the mirror and not judge myself.

Why in the hell do gyms have so many damned mirrors anyway?

Kirstie Alley before and after at least she still looks like a woman

I would like to not be asked by those who profess to love me why I don’t lose weight. I would love, just once for someone, anyone who loves me to ask me how I feel today.

I have read so many great blogs recently on the subject of our bodies and social judgment; one stands out in part because as a woman it hit home I hope you will go read Sweet Mother http://sweetmotherlover.wordpress.com/2012/10/03/dear-fat-dudes/

I previously wrote this, a lighter look at the subject. https://valentinelogar.com/category/personal-notes/

The truth  is, this might just be my reality. I can eat the best I can. I can walk on the days I am not hurting so badly it is all I can do to crawl out of bed. I can try to overcome my fear of the gym, but I suspect that one is harder than anyone can imagine. My truth is, I live within the body I have and it doesn’t love me. I don’t fit the world and I don’t have the fight left to force the issue. We are so shallow we are willing to diminish anyone that doesn’t fit our narrow vision of beauty forgetting there is a whole person inside the body we judge not good enough. So today I will cheer for those women like Jennifer Livingston who was brave enough to address the man who berated her for her ‘choice’ to be obese. I wish more of us were willing to stand up to those who are so socially inept, cruel and frankly stupid.

Brain Farts aka Gaffes

It has been an interesting week in the political arena, a week of revelation and frank nastiness. Stupidity on the part of some of our national figures seems to run rampant doesn’t it? Without fail some members of the GOP simply can’t help but open their mouths and thoughtless statements flow out from between their lips without any restraint. Shall we look at the blatant ideological stances and “oops I made a gaffe” of the week?

Please, keep in mind my personal opinion of a gaffe is simply the lips moved before the brain engaged. The speaker said what they thought before they could think of a plausible lie.

Representative Todd Akin, R-Missouri

“It seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, it’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”

We all know this just started a storm swirling around every circle, Left, Right and Center. There were few who didn’t jump on the bandwagon to denounce poor Todd and demand he quit the race immediately. The GOP pulled funding for his Senate race and disinvited him from Tampa.

Bad Todd, bad indeed. But it wasn’t because he was taking a position so far out of the mainstream from his party, no indeed not. The fact is they were simply mad that he gave voice to their platform. Todd Akin let the cat out of the bag!

While all the controversy is swirling the GOP is hammering out their platform. Mitt and Paul are there, hammers in hand knowing this will be the soapbox they stand upon leading up to November. Oh, look at that there is that pesky language…..what’s that you say?

“Faithful to the “self-evident” truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or fund organizations which perform or advocate it and will not fund or subsidize health care which includes abortion coverage. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life. We oppose the non-consensual withholding or withdrawal of care or treatment, including food and water, from people with disabilities, including newborns, as well as the elderly and infirm, just as we oppose active and passive euthanasia and assisted suicide.”

There is more, you can read it here: http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/23/full-gop-platform-statement-on-abortion/comment-page-2/

Next we have Mitt, the top of the GOP ticket who believes he can pretend to ignore the Platform he will be standing upon. Can we all say what a chump, you Mr. Romney courted the Wingnut Right and you will owe everything to them should you by some slim chance make it all the way to the White House. Your boy wonder VP supports Personhood Amendments to the Constitution and should he have a deciding vote in the Senate women will die in your new America, but let’s take a look at the statements of the GOP ticket shall we?

In an interview on August 20, with the National Review Online Mitt said the following:

 “Congressman’s Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong,” Romney said. “Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive.”

Love how he refers to himself as ‘we’, wonder if that is the royal ‘we’, he certainly isn’t talking about he and his running mate who had this to say.

“I’m very proud of my pro-life record, and I’ve always adopted the idea that, the position that the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life,” Ryan explained. “But let’s remember, I’m joining the Romney-Ryan ticket. And the president makes policy.”

From an interview with WJHL this week, see more here: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/08/24/ryan-on-abortion-exceptions-rape-is-just-another-method-of-conception/

Just one more little bit of humor from he who would be king, yes that’s right the Mitt, good old Mittens. I wonder if he aspired to a career as a failed stand-up comedian in his younger days, do you think this is might be the reason for his board stiff stage presence. Also do you think he is taking advice from the Donald?

“No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate,” he added. “They know that this the place that we were born and raised.”

Next we have a few of the reasons why we all need to make certain we are getting out to the polls and voting this year. Here is Iowa Representative Steve King discussing his knowledge, or should I say lack thereof, regarding the incidence of young rape and incest victims (specifically twelve year old girls) who might need abortions.

“Well I just haven’t heard of that being a circumstance that’s been brought to me in any personal way, and I’d be open to discussion about that subject matter,” he said.

Unaware of one of the more famous Tea Party Gaffes, teen mother Bristol Palin with baby daddy

Steve King is a staunch supporter of Personhood legislation and came out in support of Ted Akins. This is a Republican who last year refused to debate his female Democratic challenger, offering instead to debate her husband former Governor Tom Vilsack in her place. Want to see more, http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/08/21/kings-no-pregnant-12-year-old-rape-victims-just-latest-his-anti-choice-diatribes

Finally on the hit parade for the week we have this piece of awe-inspiring stupidity from my home state. This judge from Lubbock County is a real winner in judiciary prudence I tell you, or as we say down here this is one dumazzed sumbitch. Judge Tom Head, well he indeed had a full head in an interview broadcast on a local Fox station talking about what will happen if President Obama is re-elected, he had the following to say:

“He’s going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the U.N., and what is going to happen when that happens?” Head said. “I’m thinking the worst. Civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war maybe. And we’re not just talking a few riots here and demonstrations. We’re talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy.”

“Now what’s going to happen if we do that, if the public decides to do that? He’s going to send in U.N. troops. I don’t want ’em in Lubbock County. OK. So I’m going to stand in front of their armored personnel carrier and say, ‘You’re not coming in here’.”

Of course, everyone in Lubbock, Right and Left are attempting to disavow his statements. Judge Head is an elected official and there are no real rules to remove him from the bench unless he can be shown to be just outright starkers. Currently the Judge is the head of the Emergency Management Plans for the county, he also presides over mental competency hearings (how scary is that).

Through all this the GOP has been pointing to the single statement by VP Joe Biden regarding Wall Street made in Virginia to a mixed crowd. The statement was as follows:

 “He is going to let the big banks once again write their own rules, unchain Wall Street. He is going to put y’all back in chains.” 

For the past two weeks, since the VP made this statement the Right and even some of those on the Left have been furiously hammering away at the Dog Whistle of race baiting this statement blows. But does it? I would say no, indeed we are not only defined by a single form of slavery and that being the horrific slavery of the African traded and abused on these shores for hundreds of years. While this was a terrible part of our history that continues to define a society even today, it is not the only slavery and not the only form of chains we endure.

The statement by Joe Biden, in my mind was not a gaffe at all but a very clear and truthful statement of where we are as a nation if we do not get back to some basic truths and basic facts. One of those is we must regulate Wall Street and Banking. How much clearer can we be than this?

So we all need to get over it. We are slaves to political correctness in this regard. We need to unchain our minds and allow ourselves to use the English language to express ourselves properly and with intent!

Rape is Rape. Force is Force.

Living breathing women must never be slaves to the moral choices of others who have no interest in their lives or futures.

Stand up, be counted.

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