I found something on my tumblr that I really wanted to share, but couldn’t figure out how to embed the slideshow in WordPress, so I’ll just have to provide the link. It’s called “The Questions People Get Asked about Their Race.” What I found so relatable is that I have had far too many of those comments/questions thrown my way. I still remember being asked as an 8-year-old child, “What are you?” How does a child answer that . . .
The adult me knows the answer: human.
Basically, people are stupid, and anyone who doesn’t think so should read the following story after looking at the NPR slideshow.
Quite frankly, the following along the same lines just blew my mind.
A Virginia couple was shocked to find a police officer in front of their home when they returned from running errands, but they were even more surprised by the reason for the cop’s visit– to question whether or not they were in fact their children’s parents.
Joseph, a white man who didn’t want his last name revealed, and his black wife Keana told Fox5DC that they were outraged after the policeman told them a security guard at their local Walmart had suspected Joseph of kidnapping his three young daughters.
“He asks us very sincerely, ‘Hey, I was sent here by Walmart security. I just need to make sure that the children that you have are your own,’” Joseph said.
“I was dumbfounded,” Keana said. “I sat there for a minute and I thought, ‘Did he just ask us if these were our kids knowing what we went through to have our children?’
The couple, who have been married for 10 years, have a four-year-old daughter and two-year-old twin girls. Joseph had taken the girls to a Walmart near their Prince William County home to cash a check and left after spending a short time in the parking lot. After speaking with the officer, they called the store demanding an explanation.
According to Keana, she was told a customer was alarmed after seeing her husband and children.
“Well, the customer was concerned because they saw the children with your husband and he didn’t think that they fit,” Keana told the news station. “And I said, ‘What do you mean by they don’t fit?’ And I was trying to get her to say it. And she says, ‘Well, they just don’t match up.’”
“You cannot have maternal health without reproductive health. And reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortion.” ~ Hillary Clinton
Years ago, the state of Virginia had as its slogan “Virginia is for Lovers.” The commercials expounded on this theme by showing tourists enjoying themselves and the voice over saying things like beach lovers, history lovers, etc. But lately, Virginia’s elected officials have shown more and more that they are indeed not lovers of women’s rights, especially with this latest piece of proposed legislation: the bill to force any woman who wants to get an abortion to first undergo a transvaginal ultrasound.
For those of you who might not know, a transvaginal ultrasound is performed by inserting a plastic wand into a woman’s vagina. The procedure is uncomfortable and invasive. The thinking behind the bill’s supporters, I suppose, is that if a woman actually sees the ultrasound picture of the fetus, then she will be less likely to follow through with the abortion.
Let me pause here to just say Piss Off.
I have long been a proponent for reproductive rights, and I am more than a bit familiar with the anti-abortion people’s tactics. This particular one is pretty abhorrent. Don’t think so? Then just consider this particular scenario, a scenario that is not at all far-fetched:
A woman is raped. She becomes pregnant as a result of that rape. She knows that she cannot carry this pregnancy to term. Virginia now requires that this particular woman be assaulted again, that she be put in the stirrups and have yet another unwanted object inserted into her vagina, all in some attempt to convince this already victimized woman that she should take one look at the fetus and instantly fall in love with it.
I. Don’t. Think. So.
“The emphasis must be not on the right to abortion but on the right to privacy and reproductive control.” ~ Ruth Bader Ginsburg
I have never encountered a single woman who undertook the decision to have an abortion lightly. That is not to say that there is not that small percentage of females who have used abortion as birth control, having multiple procedures. I don’t think that you will find any person who fights for reproductive rights who will agree that this is a responsible approach to birth control.
Abortion is not easy. The decision to undergo the procedure is not easy. Far from it. And while I personally don’t believe that I could ever undergo the procedure, I will support to my dying breath any woman’s right to have a safe termination.
Let me clarify here: I am not delving into that arena of late-term abortion, which is a thicket of hot coals. I am referring to first-trimester abortions. I refuse to engage in the whole argument of personhood, or the Catholic stance that life begins at conception, meaning literally that at the instant that an oocyte encounters a strong-swimming sperm, life begins.
I have been relatively quiet about the ongoing male-driven debate about making contraception available for any woman who wishes to have it, even if she, say, happens to work for a Catholic hospital. All of the testerone-fueled chest thumping by men wearing white collars is beyond the pale. President Obama’s compromise is sound: the institutions do not have to do anything that goes against their beliefs. The contraception will be made available to the women via the insurance companies. How is this bad?
But this latest volley by the extremists is happening right here in my home state, and quite frankily, it makes me beyond irate. As we used to say back in the day of VOKAL (Virginia Organization to Keep Abortion Legal) and NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League):
KEEP YOUR LAWS OFF MY BODY
Enough. Here is Jon Stewart’s segment on the issue from his February 21, 2012 show:
Punanny State: Virginia’s Transvaginal Ultrasound Bill, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart | Comedy Central
I realized that even though I’ve done a few memes on here, I haven’t ever really talked about myself completely, honestly. So I thought that I would compose a random list, just to see where it takes me. So here we go:
I like broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts. About the only vegetable I really hate is okra, and that’s because it’s slimey and hairy.
I’ve never eaten escargot. No matter how much garlic you put on it, it’s still a snail.
I love shrimp, but I will not eat lobster. If someone around me orders lobster, I make clawing motions with my hands and say “help me” in a high-pitched voice so as to shame them for eating something that could live for years and years in the ocean.
I also will not eat lamb or veal. Do you know how they make veal? If you did, then you couldn’t possibly eat it.
I love chocolate. I have tried to give up chocolate many times as it is not good for my headaches, and it is full of calories, but it keeps coming back and jumping into my mouth when I’m not looking.
The last time I was timed, I typed 126 words a minute. That was a long time ago, and I type much faster now.
I have gone kayaking, and actually really enjoyed it. If I had the opportunity, I would own my own kayak and use it on the Chesapeake Bay.
I like to go hiking in the foothills of Virginia, but I haven’t done it since I hurt my back. My ex and I once went hiking/camping with some friends of ours. The girl wore penny loafers to go hiking. That was her idea of old shoes. I ended up carrying the guy’s pack on the hike back. Not outdoor people.
I love my dogs and treat them like children. Dogs are meant to be loved and talked to. People who abuse dogs should be put in jail as far as I’m concerned. A man who will beat a dog will beat a child or a woman. Don’t ever believe any differently.
I enjoy the smell of fresh cut lilacs, rosemary, gardenias, and lavender.
Butterflies are small miracles.
My three children, who are no longer small, are still my pride and joy, even when they screw up. After all, who doesn’t screw up once in a while?
I would love to have more children, even though I am considered past my childbearing years. But what does that mean, anyway? I really don’t care.
If I could live anywhere in the world, I would live somewhere where I could see water and mountains at the same time.
I believe in nationalized medicine and a flat tax rate.
I am a liberal liberal. I don’t mind paying more taxes if it means that there will be better schools and better healthcare. My only protest against paying more taxes is that I want the rich to pay their fair share, too, and to stop having so many loopholes so that they end up paying less than those of us in the middle of the road.
I miss my father every day of every week of every year. I see him in my dreams often. I believe that he is looking out for me as best he can.
When I was at the beach once, I asked god for a sign that things were going to be all right, and then the waves pulled back, and a perfect shell was there at my feet.
I believe in angels.
I wish that I remembered more from my publishing class on computer systems, but it was such a painful experience the first time that I think that I have blocked everything that I managed to learn.
I love Beowulf (not the movie, the written version)
I wish that I looked like Angelina Jolie, but I wish more that I had her ability to go to poor countries and do something for the people who live there.
I collect stuffed bears, and I buy the ones who look like they need a home.
I have a calendar fetish. I always have at least three calendars of my own: one next to my desk, one in my purse, and one in the kitchen. If I had more places to put them, I would have more.
I am a speed reader, but I don’t scan in order to read more quickly. For example, I read each of the Harry Potter Books, even the longest one, in just one day.
I have read The Lord of the Rings more times than I can remember.
The English Patient is one of the most beautiful books ever written, and the movie is still one of my favorites.
I get silly drunk about two times a year, but otherwise, I drink very seldom.
I don’t do illegal drugs, and the worst thing I ever did when I was a teenager was speed, and I hated the way that it made me feel.
I love to learn. I have one bachelor’s degree, and two master’s degrees. I would go for another degree in a heartbeat.
I miss being in the front of the classroom but not enough to teach in the Norfolk Public School system.
I’ve never been in a girl fight. How utterly stupid.
I am very sentimental. I can cry at a Hallmark commercial, a Lifetime movie, or a YouTube clip. Sarah McLachlan’s commercials about animals in shelters just kills me.
I am fiercely loyal and protective.
I am an Aquarius.
Eamonn and Caitlin’s birthdays are within ten days of each other in March (Pisces); Alexis and Brett’s birthdays are within three days of each other in July (Cancer).
It’s far easier to give birth in March than in July.
I’m not afraid of needles, as in having blood drawn, but I hate it when I get someone who is not good at putting in an IV. That hurts.
I talk back to the computer and other inanimate objects. I also carry on conversations with other drivers, but they don’t know it.
I love coffee and hot tea. I drink cream in most types of hot tea except for Earl Gray and Oolong.
My favorite dessert is Tiramisu, followed closely by real New York cheesecake.
I used to be a shopaholic but have since reformed, for a variety of reasons.
I believe that psychopharmaceuticals were developed for a reason and that no one should be ashamed of having to take them.
I hate it when people jump to conclusions.
I have a terrible habit of correcting other people’s English.
My husband is younger than I am, and when we first got together, no one thought that it would last. We’ve been together for nine years, and it is the best relationship of my life.
My mother is without a doubt the one person in this world who can get to me more than anyone else. She knows exactly what buttons to push.
I wish that Alexis believed in herself more, but at this point, I have to let her be who she is and try not to interfere.
My last beta, Mulder, decided that he didn’t like me and wouldn’t look at me any more. I took it very personally. He doesn’t live here any more.
I am hooked on crime shows: CSI, Without a Trace, Law & Order. I do not like sitcoms.
Heidi Klum is über gorgeous, especially when she is pregnant.
American society is fixated on how people look and doesn’t pay nearly enough attention to educating its children.
Someday, I want to go to Australia, Ireland, and Greece.
I love to take pictures but don’t like to have my picture taken.
Cruises cease to be fun when you run out of money.
My big goal in life is to be debt-free and to have good credit again.
All of my children inherited my propensity for depression as I inherited it from my father. Sometimes genetics really sucks.
I wish that Mari lived nearby so that we could spend time together again.
I need to get off my ass and put together my book, but I am too scared of the whole rejection process.
I managed a newsroom when I was 19-years-old.
One day, I will figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
Ending sentences in a preposition really bothers me.
I love to use quotations by other people in my own work. It helps me to focus.
I love sunsets and sunrises. I cannot think of anything more beautiful than a painted sky.
I miss getting dressed, putting on make-up and going to work everyday. I love make-up.
I hate dreaming that I am at work.
I believe that men and women can be friends, but sooner or later, sex tries to get in the way.
I love music: classical, pop, classic rock, country, new age (whatever the hell that means), opera, blues, even some hard rock.
My birthstone is garnet, which I love, but I also love pearls, aquamarines, and diamonds.
One day, I am going to have a big diamond ring, just because.
I used to love to wear hats, but now I just look silly.
I have long wavy hair, and I would like a new hairstyle, but I look like a monkey when I have short hair.
I usually eat one big meal a day (dinner), and maybe a snack, but I cannot lose weight. I hate that.
I can be very impatient, which can lead to my being snarky, especially when I’m driving.
I find that I always end up telling Corey where to park, even though he doesn’t need my help. I wonder why I do that?
I speed on the interstate, but I obey the speed limit in the city.
I desperately need a new old car that is just mine because Eamonn ruined Izzie the Trooper, and it smells like cigarettes.
I love ankle bracelets and earrings, and I love watches, but am down to about four now that still work.
I smoked during college exams, but I hate cigarettes, and cigarette smoke.
I don’t look my age, but that is because of good genes and Oil of Olay Regenerist, and I don’t ever tell people how old I really am.
Writing my blog posts is my daily therapy.
Both Shakes and Tillie snore, but Tillie snores louder. I snore louder than anyone in the house.
I hate my body. I feel like a sausage most of the time.
I really love shoes and boots, especially boots.
I wear Christmas socks all year long.
We are not friendly with most of our neighbors. I wonder why.
I have never really wanted to own a horse, but I have considered living on an old farm.
I am a hoarder when it comes to books and sentimental things like old cards and letters.
I used to own a yard tractor and would mow the yard in my bathing suit. Of course, that was when I was in good shape. My nasty neighbor to my left thought that it was scandolous.
I hold a grudge, expecially if I feel that I have been wronged unfairly.
I think about revenge, but have never actually taken it.
Bad manners offend me, and my sons know this and use it to drive me crazy.
I wash my hands a lot, but I don’t think that I am OCD about it.
One day, my bedroom will finally be painted, and I will be able to put in my new furniture.
I like antiques even though my mother calls them “tired, old things” and believes that people should move on.
I have a hard time moving on, and don’t adjust to change very well.
I like the first three Star Wars movies (chronologically) a lot better than the last three (numerically).
Corey brings me a cup of hot mint tea every night before bed. Isn’t that thoughtful?
I am a pantheist: I believe that god, some kind of god, exists in all things: people, animals, trees, water, and that if we listen carefully enough, we can become one with all things in nature.
1. Krispy Kreme donuts hot off the rollers. Nothing beats hot Krispy Kreme donuts. They melt in your mouth so fast, that if you aren’t careful, you can eat three before you know it. I can eat two before I reach the first stoplight, but I always try to stop at two, no matter how much I want a third one. There is so much sugar in these things that you know that they cannot be good for you, but boy do they taste like a little piece of heaven going down. KK donuts are one of Brett’s favorite pleasures in life, and if we are riding down the Boulevard and he sees the big red “Hot Donuts Now” sign, he really pushes for a detour.
2. The song “Landslide,” originally recorded by Stevie Nicks and then rerecorded by The Dixie Chicks. I love both versions. The song touches a place in my heart.
3. The foothills of Virginia. When you are driving west on Interstate 64, and you approach Lexington, you suddenly realize that there are mountains ahead of you. Not huge mountains; that’s why they are referred to as the foothills of Virginia. But driving through the foothills towards Virginia Tech, as I did many times, is a beautiful ride.
4. Stingrays are beautiful, cartilaginous fish. They move by flapping their fins in the water, which is lovely to watch up close. Rays are docile, attacking only when provoked, and their only enemies are sharks.
5. Lilacs are one of my favorite flowers. We have a lilac bush on the side of the yard, and when it blooms in the spring, the fragrance wafts across the yard. I love that clean, fresh smell.
We Dare to Dream Again of Friendly Skies As We Give Thanks
Okay. I’m going to do it. I’m going to write a blog about what I’m thankful for. A Charlie Brown blog, if you will. I debated whether or not this subject matter would be too trite, too overdone in the blogging world, but then I decided that my cynicism would prevail, especially in light of my recent entries, which admittedly, have been a tad on the nostalgic side. I’ve decided to write about unlikely things for which we, as in the collective we, can be grateful, in spite of the dire times we seem to be facing.
The nation’s first president of color, a man of incredible presence, intelligence, and insight. I can only hope that the fates are good to him and surround him with good karma. If he runs his presidency with just one half of the calm, executive demeanor that surrounded his campaign, then there is hope that his White House will never be likened to a college fraternity without any adult supervision.
A new administration, one headed by a president who won’t mangle the English language. No matter what your political leanings are, you have to be grateful for a man who is articulate
An apparent real goal for an end to the Iraqi war, or at least a major draw down of troops in that country, even if it means that we will have an increase of troops in another country
An attempt to provide access to some kind of health insurance for everyone in the country, even if it takes a couple of years. Hillary Rodham Clinton first attempted this during Clinton’s first term in office and was roundly criticized for not sticking to her role as first lady. After that aborted attempt, nothing has ever been done nationally until now.
A chance to regain our status in the world as a nation that can be respected as a leader
A chance to turn our economy around and stop the practice of “Trickle Down Economics.” The plan, of course, was that everything would trickle down in an equitable manner. Um, so sorry, but WRONG. When Ronald Reagan took office, our country could be described as a diamond, with most of the country falling in the middle of the socio-economic ladder. What we have now is an hourglass, with almost no middle class, an upper class and a very bottom-heavy lower socio-economic part of the ladder. Anyone who tells you that America is a class-less society is still in their naive idealistic phase.
A commitment by an administration and apparently a nation to harness alternative energy and preserve resources. A long overdue wake-up call has finally been answered, and more and more people are doing what they can, in big ways and in small, to help the environment. As someone who has been recycling for over almost two decades, it is refreshing to see the changes all around. I don’t care if it’s trendy, as long as it makes an impact.
More awareness of post traumatic stress disorder as a real problem with far-reaching issues that can affect people for years
The fact that Sarah Palin and her family are back in Alaska, at least for most of the time, but the governator still can’t seem to find enough work to do as governor, so she hits the road every other week.
A big win in the House and Senate, but the pressure is on to deliver. Remember: with great power comes great responsibility Spider Man.
Law & Order, the original, is back on Wednesday nights.
Rachel Maddow’s show on MSNBC is kicking butt big time.
Virginia went blue for the first time since 1964, and Thelma Drake lost her seat in Congress to newcomer Glenn Nye thanks in large part to a grassroots effort.
The first amendment allows people like me to write things like this whenever I want, which still makes this the best country in the world in which to live.
With any luck, President-elect Obama will be able to reverse some of the more egregious laws that Bush has signed into law, in particular, those that allow drilling near state parks in Utah and Colorado, and those that ease pollution laws. Because after all, it would be nice to leave a legacy to our children, you know, something like majestic trees, clean rivers, the Grand Canyon, some Golden Eagles, and maybe some uranium-free land. Or maybe I’m being naive and full of youthful idealism in spite of my age.
And finally, with any luck, the next few years we will see some glimpses of that hope we held onto so tightly when we stood in line to get into those rallies. When we stood at those rallies waiting to hear the words we needed to hear. When we heard those words of hope and better days and we actually allowed ourselves to dare to believe, even when our cynical hearts did not want to. Yes, we can dare to hope. Yes, we will believe.
These are the things that I am thankful for as an American this Thanksgiving. Perhaps I’ll write about what I’m thankful for personally later, or maybe not. But it’s nice to think that maybe this time next year, there will be a change a coming.
“And many times confused
Yes, and often felt forsaken
And certainly misused
Oh, but I’m alright, I’m alright”
“I’m just weary to my bones”
I wrote about a commercial right before the election that featured words from Paul Simon’s song “American Tune,” and then a few nights ago, Simon himself was on “The Colbert Report” talking about his new book, Lyrics: 1964-2008. I have a real appreciation for Simon’s lyrics. In fact, when I used to teach English, I would always incorporate, “Sound of Silence” in my poetry selections because it is a wonderful lyrical poem, as are many of Simon’s songs.
But “American Tune” is haunting me these days for a number of reasons—politically and personally. So I was not at all surprised that when Colbert said that Simon was going to sing a song at the end of the show, the song turned out to be “American Tune.” For me, it was one of those signs to which I allude occasionally. Simon’s voice unaccompanied is weaker than in years past, but of course, he is older; as are we all. But his scratchier voice was the perfect sound for this soulful song.
“I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
Or driven to its knees”
Do any of you know anyone who hasn’t been affected in some way by what’s going on, with what’s happening out there? I mean, stop and think for a minute. If you don’t know someone who isn’t out of work, surely you know someone who has been affected by the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. Is someone you love over there? Have you lost someone you know or love? Is someone you know on the brink of losing their home because they are behind on their mortgage payments? Do you have a friend who is gay who has a longtime partner? Do you know someone who doesn’t have health insurance but has an ongoing health problem? Does your child have someone at his or her school who is homeless?
Did your retirement account lose a significant amount of its worth and now you are having to reconsider when you actually stop working? Do you have a child with special needs? Have you had to curb your spending in any way? Are you thinking of trading in your car for something that uses less gas? Were you thinking of buying a big ticket item, but now you are delaying the purchase because, well, it might be more prudent to wait and see? Are you bringing your lunch more and eating out less?
See. No one can claim to be untouched. It’s like the six degrees of separation. Even if you are on the periphery, it’s still touching you somehow. That is, unless you are part of that uber elite, and then you can turn your head and pretend that it’s not out there. But really, how can you? How can you live in your bubble world so completely oblivious to the suffering of others? But then, why do I bother to ask because as Fitzgerald said: “The rich get richer, and the poor get children.” I suppose that’s how it’s always been.
“Oh, but it’s alright, it’s alright
For we lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the
Road we’re traveling on
I wonder what’s gone wrong
I can’t help it, I wonder what’s gone wrong”
I wonder every day what’s gone wrong, and last night, I felt as if I were dying. I felt as if my soul rose and was looking back down on me and was wondering what in the hell had gone wrong. What’s goes wrong in a country in which a 19-year-old teen commits suicide in front of a live audience on a web cam that he had been blogging with for 12 hours. How could no one notice over that 12 hours that he was getting progressively worse from a drug overdose? Are we so obtuse collectively that we just do not notice what is literally in front of our faces?
“And I dreamed I was dying
I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down at me
And I dreamed I was flying”
I used to cry a lot more, and then, for a while, I hardly ever cried. Someone sent me one of those e-mail updates, and it had a question that asked when I had last cried, and I honestly couldn’t remember. But in the last three months, it seems that I cry all of the time. I think that it’s a combination of the larger things and the smaller things. For example, Obama’s speeches make me cry. I cried when the Democrats took Virginia. Obviously I cried when Obama won the presidency. But I also cried when I saw the “American Tune” commercial. I cried when I read about Addie Polk shooting herself in the chest so that she wouldn’t be evicted. I cried over last week’s episode of “ER” and the entire last few episodes of last season’s “House,” which devastated me. I couldn’t even delete the shows from my DVR for weeks. It was too personal.
So last night, I had one of those cathartic cries that came out of nowhere and resulted with my body curled into the fetal position and my face in a pillow. Then, I finally realized that today is the seventh anniversary of my father’s death. November absolutely sucks for bad anniversaries for me. Unlike with my daughter, I wasn’t with my father when he died, something that I will probably always regret.
But I still feel my dad’s presence often, not in that wacky, seance kind of your father is here, knock on the table kind of way. But at times, I know, just somehow know, that my dad is still with me. But not last night. So I had my little breakdown, which led to this entry on an “American Tune,” because in the end, even with all of the weariness and displacement of which it speaks, in the end, it’s all right. And I like the fact the we come on “a ship that sailed the moon.”
“We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the a-ges most uncertain hours
And sing an american tune
Oh, and its alright, its alright, it’s alright
You can’t be forever blessed”