Remembering 9/11

I wasn’t sure if I should write about 9/11 today. I feel like a lot of people, a lot of bloggers, are take advantage of this tragedy and pretend it affected them in a way that it didn’t. I don’t want to be like that. I remember when it happened but I was so far removed that all I really felt was shock. Looking back I think somewhere in the back of my mind I may have been a little fearful. I was young though, a teenager with an intense sense of invincibility. I assumed that whatever might come, I would be ok.

All I can say now is that I am very sad about all the lives that were lost. I am also so proud of all the emergency personnel, civilians, and even the search and rescue dogs, that helped out that day. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for the people on those planes, the people inside those buildings, and the people tasked with rescuing them. I hope all those who lost loved ones will find peace. I hope all those involved that day find peace. I hope all those who died rest in peace. I can honestly say that I will never forget.

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Images via The British Nobility on Tumblr. The text read:

September 11, 2001

2,997 people died. 411 people risked their lives to save others. At least 200 people jumped and fell to their deaths. 2 beautiful buildings destroyed. 246 people got on an airplane and never got to see home again. 2,997 innocent people left their homes one day and never got to see their families again.

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A Stupid Argument With A Men’s Right’s Douchebag

So yeah I got into a stupid debate yesterday with a stupid person (I assume he’s a guy but who knows so I’ll just go with person) about this whole Ray and Janay Rice elevator knock out thing. It happened in the comments of an article on Thought Catalog, Ray Rice’s Wife, Janay, Says To Lay Off, Is She Right To Demand, that I just happened to come across. It has since been made private so I can only view it anymore from within my Disqus dashboard. I had commented first saying that I hadn’t known anything about this incident since I don’t normally follow sports or celebrity news. I just happened to click on this article and watched the video. I was immediately outraged. I was outraged because of the force Ray Rice used when he punched Janay. I was outraged because he could have hurt her very badly and he didn’t even seem to care.

I scrolled down to read some of the other comments after my original one and came across this:

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The comment that started the thread says “She hit him first. Was he wrong? Yes. But women need to stop thinking that just because they are female they get a free pass to hit men. Especially when this whole feminist movement is going on. If you want equal rights, you will be treated equally. Common sense you hypocrites”.

I responded by saying that I don’t think it’s about women thinking they have a free pass. Both men and women should not be hitting anyone and neither has a “free pass”, ever! I think the issue most people have is about size and strength. Men are often bigger than women, and are often the perpetrator in domestic violence situations such as these. Those same men tend to cause more damage in their violence than women do is reverse situations. Ray is clearly much bigger than Janay and the force he used in retaliation was much more than could have used. The force he used is also more than what was necessary to defend himself and get away. My point was that he could have really hurt her. He could have killed her.

Her actions were wrong I suppose. It’s hard to judge but it seemed to me like they must have been arguing before. She swatted at him a few times too and it even seemed like she was coming at him to hit him some more in the elevator. She shouldn’t have been doing that because it’s not a healthy way to solve problems and hitting another person is wrong.

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Then the stupidity started. This “visonary_23” person responded to me by saying that assuming “men are stronger than women” in domestic violence situations is the same as saying it other situations that require physical strength, like in the police force or firefighting. This is very stupid statement for two reasons. For one, in my previous comment I used the term “tend”. When I say tend I am talking about “on average” not “always”. So there are some men who are smaller than some women, because of that there are series of fitness tests that must be completed in career fields such as police officer or firefighter. Some women can pass these tests and some women cannot. Some men can pass these tests and some men cannot.

The second reason is because, like I said before, in most cases of domestic violence between men and women the man IS bigger and stronger and so he is the one being told to restrain himself. I doubt Janay is capable of knocking Ray out cold. Her slaps would not have done him any permanent damage nor could they have killed him. He on the other hand was clearly capable of doing those things, just like a lot of men who hit women. He should have restrained himself.

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Visionary_23 continued to argue with me. I don’t really understand what was wrong with my statement, or what exactly this person didn’t agree with. He seemed to think men should not have to make snap judgments about whether or not they are bigger than a woman and restrain themselves. He thought it was weird to think that in cases of domestic violence the man (who uses greater force) is demonized but in cases where men would benefit in career choice men and women should be viewed as equal. He even got into what was the acceptable height, weight, BMI difference before a man could hit a woman. This guy was truly a douchebag.

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In a roundabout way I think he was trying to accuse me of only thinking Ray was wrong because he had a penis which just isn’t true. I also think he somehow got the idea that I was excusing her actions. I don’t know how he came to that conclusion when I repeatedly stated that she was wrong too. I tried to explain that if the roles were reversed and I saw a large woman beating the crap out of a man much smaller than her I would feel the same way. It really does come down to size and force for me. When any person acts excessively toward someone who is smaller than them I think they are a coward who shows no respect for other people nor do they have any self restraint. In short they are assholes.

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After that he kept going on about how  if women are considered “weaker” in domestic violence situations then they should also be considered weaker in the career field too. Either that or consider them equal and let them work “man” jobs and let them get beat up in domestic violence situations. I got tired of it and replied by asking him if he really thought Ray didn’t know he was bigger and stronger than Janay? I explained again that I was not saying she wasn’t wrong, I was only saying Ray used excessive force and that isn’t ok because it could have resulted in brain damage or death for Janay. Watching the video there is clearly a point where Ray could have just walked away. Hell there are multiple points where he could have walked away, he chose instead to use his full strength to knock his girlfriend out cold.

And it continued. He was still trying to get a different answer out of me about women being police officers and firefighters. I had since realized I was talking to not only and idiot but an idiot who hated women. I thought of those “Men’s Rights Groups” and how horrible they are. I scrolled around to see if this person was saying the same things to anyone else and sure enough he was. He responded to many people saying that there was a feminist lynch mob going after Ray and that feminists excuse women’s actions because of vagina’s and “equality”. I tried one more time to let him know I was not excuse her actions and that the issue was about size and strength and excessive force. Issues that are present in a majority of domestic violence situations. Then I asked him to stop.

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His repsonse was just as idiotic as all of the other responses. I wanted so much to reply again but I knew he needed the last word in order to feel like he won. This would have gone on and on if I said anything else and I knew I would never have changed his mind. He wanted an answer out of me that I was never going to give because the answer he wanted was wrong. He wanted me to say that woman are equals and Janay got what she deserved. He wanted that or he wanted me to admit that women were a weaker sex and unfit for “men’s work”. These two situations are not the same and neither are the dynamics.

I went to bed upset over this. I never get into these sorts of internet arguments. I was mad at him for being sexist and for bothering me. I was mad at myself for wasting my time and emotions on an asshole. I don’t think I said anything that was wrong. I think I made a fair assessment of the situation and I found that they were both wrong but Janay was the one in more danger. I wrote this because I needed to examine the conversation and ask for the opinions of my readers. I don’t know exactly what it is I want to know from all of you. Your opinion on any of it would be welcomed.

Oh Look, It’s Time For My Yearly Existential Crisis

Ever since I can remember I have been obsessed with death and the meaninglessness of life. Every so often, about once a year, it gets really bad and I just stop caring about anything. I am going through that right now. I find myself, asking myself, why? What does it all mean? Why go on? Why keep trying? As I have gotten older I have come up with some answers. These answers are just my answers and they work for me.. I am not going to say I have it all figured out. I doubt I, or anyone else for that matter, will ever have it all figured out.

I am, and probably always will be an Existentialist. This means I believe that there is no inherent meaning to life. Not my life or “life”as a whole. There is no reason for us to be here or not to be here. There is no meaning in any of it, except for the meaning we create. There is no reason for living and breathing, for working and paying bills, for love or relationships, there are no reasons for any of it, except for the reasons we create. In short, the universe gives no fucks.

At first this sounds incredibly depressing, and a lot of the time it is. I am often paralyzed by the thought that nothing I do means a damn thing. I try to remember that that does afford me an incredible amount of freedom. If the universe doesn’t care what I do than I can do whatever I want! Now, that does not mean there aren’t consequences for my actions. What it means is I can do things that are pleasing for me to do as long as I am prepared to deal with whatever the consequences may be. This may come off sounding selfish but there are many acts of kindness that are pleasing too. I like to help people and make them smile. This makes me happy, so I do it. I also like to write and learn new things and then write about those things so other people can learn too. This makes me happy, so I do it.

Existentialism, to me, means letting go of what society says is right and good. It means taking a step back and deciding for myself what is right and good. I like it better this way because at least I know myself and my reasons for thinking and doing the things I think and do. I have a deeper understanding of my own mind and motivations.

Even though the universe doesn’t care about me, I care about me. I have decided that even though living or not living means nothing in the end, I want to live. After you decide to live you have to decide why and what to do. This can be overwhelming at first but take baby step. Start with deciding what gives you pleasure. Is it family, is it writing, is you you wife, what do you enjoy about life? After that go find more things that you enjoy about life, then spread the joy!

I have decided this is what works for me. A lot of that has come from learning more about Zen and what that means. To me Zen is a lot like Existentialism in that there is no one right way to live, there is an emphasis on letting go, and there is an acceptance of life and the world around you. You have to let go of everything in order to learn something about yourself and the world around you. Zen goes a little further and tell us to let go and look inside and find you true meaning and live it!

Both philosophies lead a person to view life from a more detached point of view. We can see the bigger picture without all of the emotional distraction and suffering. This may sound like a life filled with emptiness and meaninglessness but it doesn’t mean that at all. It means seeing the world differently and finding a bigger, deeper meaning. It means freedom and fulfillment! When the meaninglessness of life and death get me down, I remember that even though I will be forgotten one day, I will have lived, and that is wonderful and special. It will have been special for my friends and family and they are the ones who matter, fuck the universe!

So instead of trying to change the universe, which I believe is impossible, I try to just make an impact right now, where I can. I do this because it feels good to do so. I do this because I want to help everyone live a happier life. We only get so long on this planet and we have to make the most of it. Well, I guess you don’t have to because the universe doesn’t care either way, but I care and I want you to have joy and fulfillment.

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Monday Motivation

This week, focus on the good. Try to stay positive and be proud of yourself. Getting out of bed and choosing to show up is an accomplishment. Pushing forward even when you are exhausted is an accomplishment. Facing your fears and making any bit of progress is an accomplishment. Remember that you are doing your best and that is all you can ask of yourself.

This week, speak up. Advocate for yourself and let people know what you need. Take care of yourself mentally and do not allow others to take advantage of you. Say no when it is necessary for you to. Remember doing more work than others does not help you. Stressing yourself out trying to do everything on your own does not help you. Working through your lunch does not help you. Do not allow those things to continue this week.

Finally, this week, just breathe. This week is going to be long and there are going to be parts that are frustrating and stressful. Through it all I want you to just breathe. The frustrations are only temporary. No set back, no snag is worth wasting and ruining a whole day, or week, over. Remember to take a breaks when you need them. Go outside, breathe, and change your perspective.

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If We Were Having Coffee

If we were having coffee I would that this past week was exhausting for both me and Chardonnay. I don’t think she realized how much of her time this new position was going to take up. From the moment she comes in until the last route makes it back she gets no breaks. She hasn’t been eating lunch and she comes home stressed and sad. I am starting to worry about her. I told her she needs to start advocating for herself and tell her boss and the other supervisors when she need a few minutes to reset. She also has to start eating better and getting more sleep.

I am trying to keep an eye on her but my job is getting just as bad. I was busy all week running my own route and on top of that training a class of new people. I have noticed that I am a little more unhappy at my job everyday. I really want to find something else. I want to have my own business one day but I have no idea what I would do or how I would do it. I also looked at museum jobs last week but there are no openings doing anything I’d want to do. I looked for library jobs too but ran into the same thing. It looks like I need a little bit of collage in order to get into any of those fields. I need to start putting together a plan, things cannot continue like this for much longer.

If we were having coffee I would update you on all my animals. The cats are doing ok, I think. My older cat, Sophia, is not at all happy about having the two kittens, Quinn and Calvin, running around. I knew she wouldn’t though and I am glad that so far no real fighting has broken out, only hissing and some swatting. The kittens spend much of their time in the spare bedroom right now. I never let them out around Sophia unsupervised. I leave them with food, water, their litter box, and lots of toys. They like to be out though and they whine when I have to put them back in the room. They are very wild and sometimes i wounder if getting them was a good decision. they are so cute though!

My beautiful ball python, Delilah, is getting so big! I moved her to a big sterilite tub awhile back and she is very happy. We took her out yesterday so I could clean up inside her enclosure and we took a few pictures. She was just as sweet as she has always been even though we haven’t held her much lately. I feel like I got so lucky with her. I got her for $20 from a local breeder at a reptile show. I made a lot of mistakes when I first got her but she has been a trooper through it all. I think I have it right now and I hope to get another snake soon. I’m not sure what species I want and I get the feeling Chardonnay is totally on board yet. It’s ok though, she wasn’t when we got Delilah either but she loves her now :)

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I have an idea but I am a little embarrassed to talk about it. I would tell you that I really want to self-publish my own zine. Typing that sentence just now made me feel like this is so dorky and stupid. I know zines are something that teenagers put together in the 90’s but I think they are still kinda cool. I like that I could put one of my own together and it could be whatever I wanted it to be. I want to write some stories, add some quotes, and screen print some awesome art work! I doubt I would be able to sell them or anything. I’m sure they won’t be all that great. Maybe I could give them away and just…I dunno, tell my story and get my message out there in a different way. Plus it would just be fun!

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I have to go, I have a busy day ahead of me. I would thank you for listening. I know I tend to ramble on and I appreciate your patience. You are awesome and I hope that you have a great week.

On Processing the Events in Ferguson

NaBloPoMo prompt: As part of the healing process, please talk about how you processed the events of Ferguson.

Continuing the theme from yesterday, and talk about how I processed my feelings around the murder of Mike Brown and the protests that followed. I admit I was a couple days late in finding out about the shooting of Mike Brown and the protests. When I heard about it I was immediately outraged. I believe the police did act excessively and I believe that the death of Mike Brown was in fact, a murder.

I follow a lot of the news around race and racism in this country and part of the reason I was outraged was because I already knew that this shooting was nothing new. I already knew that black men around the country were being treated unfairly by police and the justice system. I was outraged because nothing was changing!

I have heard so many white people tell me that racism is a thing of the past and that black people were the ones still holding on to it. I don’t understand how they can ignore events like this and claim that it isn’t about race. I got so angry reading the comments and tweets of people who were so obviously racist and yet they believed they were not racist. The ignorance I read was incredible!

I got angry reading about how the police handled the case as well. They filed nothing in their reports. They claimed that Mike Brown had been involved in a robbery. They allowed the cop who shot him to go free. They did everything except the things they should have done, apologize and investigate. When the protests started up they did everything wrong in response. Instead of listening and trying to heal the community they were charged with protecting, they showed up in full force to point guns at them and shoot tear gas canisters. The same things these people were protesting were the same things these officers continued to do.

The images I saw were heart breaking. Family and friends of Mike brown crying, tear gas victims screaming out in pain. I could not believe these were pictures taken in my own country! I could not believe we were still dealing with this. I was angry and I wanted so much to be with those people in Missouri. I wanted to stand up with them and fight back. Here in my own state in in my own circle of friends I did what I could to raise awareness. I am around a lot of white people all day and I noticed that none of them even mentioned Mike Brown or the protests. I took it upon myself to start the conversation.

Most of the white people I know are not really racist, mostly they are just ignorant of what black people experience. I think they think these events do not concern them. I also think they are afraid to talk about it. They are afraid to say something that might sound racist, either that or they are afraid of being exposed as racists. I let them know it is okay to talk about race. I want to hear what they think. Part of having a conversation on race is allowing white people some time to talk as well. Hearing how they really feel helps me clear up any misconceptions they might have.

People do not normally go out of their way to learn about people’s experiences if it does not directly affect them. The white people around me do not feel the need to learn about or examine their own personal prejudices. I force the people around me to look inside themselves and admit these prejudices and examine why they feel that way. I also call them out when I hear them say things I think are wrong or racist. I hope that I am helping them and maybe they will do the same for the other people they know.

Maybe they won’t though but this helps me process what is happening around the world to black men and women. I share their stories and I share my own. I want to do more, I should be doing more, but I never know where to start. As a mixed race person I also feel like my help may not always be welcomed. Throughout my life being half white has often made talking about racism with other black people hard. I try not to get defensive and just listen but I feel sometimes like a person with out a home. I plan to talk more about that in future posts. The point is, processing events like what happened in Ferguson can be difficult and complicated for me.

I am trying to find my place in the world and in the conversations about race. I think about it a lot and I want to be a part of it because my entire childhood centered around race. I know that racism is something that many people of color deal with on a daily basis. I think it is time this country got it together and stopped being so damn ignorant and petty. The color of someone’s skin is important. The country they came from is important. The cultures they are a part of are important. They color our experiences of the world and they connect us to our pasts. These things are part of our identities. These things should not invoke negative feelings. They should not be reasons for discrimination, exclusion, or violence.

I think we should all be saying positive things about people who look or act different from us. We should be helping each other, showing each other the utmost respect, and above all listening and learning from each other. That is how we all can process events like these. This is how we can all move forward. This is how we can all heal!

NaBloPoMo September 2014