Posts Tagged ‘personal responsiblity’

Happy #FathersDay to my favorite feminist

June 15, 2014

I was raised by a feminist: but not the one you think. Truth be told, my dad was probably a better 70’s era feminist that my mother (and she was a feminist). My parents raised three children in the chaos that was the era of bad car seats, no helmets and toys with lead. Amazingly, we all survived (although sometimes my sister and I wonder if feeding my brother lead based paint because we were told kids liked the taste explains some of him).
My dad has never found it necessary to use a monosyllabic word when an uncommon polysyllabic word sufficed. More importantly, after stating whatever SAT worthy sentence he was discussing, he’d then explain the statement in normal human language (it’s because xxx). He never spoke to us as children: he translated adult into kid. One of his favorite stories is about a toy I had as a toddler: it had various shapes (circle, rectangle). My father taught me alternate words: rhombus, parallelogram, trapezoid. My grandmother played it with me once asking me the shape and instead answering rectangle, I provided ‘parallelogram’ as the answer. My mother said it was the last time my grandmother played the name the shape game with her daughter’s children.

Having daughters in the early days of Title IX meant that we could participate in the various sports leagues. Let me be clear: participation was playing the minimum, as catcher in T-ball because we had a tendency to pick flowers in the outfield or otherwise be disinterested. And we were bad: really bad. Our team didn’t lose – but that was not due to the contributions of my family. My dad would spend parts of each weekend playing 2-1 basketball games. Dad is 6 5. We were under 5 feet. He blocked our shots: he didn’t let us ‘win’ per se: if we scored before time was up we ‘won’. He also shot sky hooks (seriously). Barbie dolls, baseball bats, books: all were fair game. He taught me how to keeps score at a baseball game, he let my sister have peanuts and whatever else she ate. He didn’t view one over the other: he nurtured our interests and spent time with us.

Once, somebody made the comment to my father about how my dad had to ‘babysit’ the three of us: my dad said, you don’t babysit your own children: unheard of 30 years ago. He gave quirky advice as we headed to college “don’t ever call home after a night of drinking”. We would call my mom for the idealism: we would call my dad for the pragmatism. But the pragmatism wasn’t gender based: it was reality based. Take an economics class, take statistics. He raised two daughters and a son who work STEM based careers before it was trendy (and the one with a history degree finally figured out math).

I’ve always thought fathers receive the short end of the parenting stick. My dad cooked, did some of the housekeeping, gardening, helped with the canning. He avoided the laundry (budgetary reasons) and wisely stepped away from the decorating the house for Christmas. I’ve been told ‘most’ men don’t do this. The feminist ones do: and they are responsible for many of the cracks in the glass ceiling.

Love you Dad.

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When Extreme Liberalism Finds the Touching Point of Extreme Conservatism in a Church Function

March 31, 2014

Hopping mad. Like the Easter Bunny had nothing on me. That was how I drove home last night in the pouring rain. I attended a book group meeting. I had not been for the past few months (for obvious reasons). We are reading Saving Jesus from the Church which I happen to like. Like as in I haven’t stopped reading it out of boredom or over reliance on dead German theologians. I left about ready to punch a wall. Preferably brick. Preferably hard.

Why? I was lectured on “white privilege” by a white, heterosexual male who is working on his PhD at a university that starts with H and has a yard you (can’t really) park your car in. Excuse me? If anything defines white privilege MORE than an Ivy (or Chicago or Stanford) degree, I’m a bit surprised. Somehow we wound up on the topic which basically brushed up against a personal example of shibboleth. And that is where the extreme left met the extreme right in the Christian realm. I mostly kept quiet: I’m in that state of having beliefs challenged and rethought. I’ve always questioned the dichotomy of heaven and hell and the idea of forgiveness then mix in my mom dying? I was pressed a bit. I said, I’m not out to question anybody’s religion. I’m Christian because I was born to Christians, raised in a fairly liberal church but if I was Jordanian, I’d probably be Muslim. Shrug.

It doesn’t bother me. I lost track of the conversation as it was veering to the point that my lack of interest became apparent to the host. It isn’t fair when the host is a law professor. She asked me what I was thinking. I said the words that REALLY aren’t welcome in a lot of gatherings. I’m not sure it really matters to me if Jesus was a real person or merely an archetype or a narrative of a movement. Silence. What? One person said but the gospels were only written something like thirty years after Jesus died. (Never mind life span, the fact they contradict each other and John I swear was written after drinking some wine). I said it didn’t bother me if Jesus was real: it’s the message. I don’t know about works versus deeds. Or predestination. Or the bazillion interpretations we have all seem to come up with when reading one part of a correspondence and how the structure of the church doesn’t have the entire sacred text read in a 3 year cycle. It doesn’t matter to me. I can very easily profess my faith without having to know that.

You would have thought I had traded David Ortiz.

The PhD in ethics want to be said something like “how can you not feel called to seek justice” (uh, I didn’t say I didn’t) and how can I be ok with not being bothered by religions that are not tolerant to women or LGBTQI people? I said, well, if that bothered me I couldn’t be a Christian.

You really would have thought I had traded David Ortiz to the Yankees.

I pointed out he was ordained Southern Baptist and they don’t allow the ordination of women, let alone non-heterosexual individuals. How could he stay in the church (apparently he’s working for change which since he works for on UCC church and attends the same UCC church I do, I’m NOT really sure how he’s going to change the SBC)? I said it wasn’t my place to call somebody out for being a member of a tradition I disagreed with: maybe that is my deep belief in The Constitution. I don’t care if somebody holds different beliefs than I do: I do care if they seek to harm another. But I’m not going to go up to an Amish person and criticize their beliefs as much as I’m not going to say to a Catholic friend how I don’t see how she can stay with her church to a Muslim friend, you know, your sister shouldn’t have to wear a head scarf. The wide swath of the middle of really almost any faith tradition is fine with me. Fringes cause the problems.
I know I’m cranky. But I don’t need a guy telling me I need to be offended because something oppresses women: I think I can navigate that one on my own. I don’t need to be told I should work for the tolerance of LGBTQI individuals (no, really, I LIKE being a second class citizen with the perks and all).

Madder than a rabid Easter Bunny? Yeah, that is where I was when I left. And I am still irked today: we don’t get anywhere by telling people WHAT to believe. We only get there when we work to removing barriers. And I don’t know of a tradition that call for oppression of people. But then again, I won’t have a degree from that side of the river.

Peanut butter sandwiches and other strange things I’ve heard

March 23, 2014

I sat at my desk and tried to book a flight to Knoxville around two storms that were about to converge on the greater Boston area. A few co-workers were checking various options when it became apparent to everybody something horrifically had gone wrong. As tears streamed down my face, a friend said her mom died and we are trying to figure out the best way to avoid flight delays. One of the guys I work with looked at me, he’s about 24, and said I don’t know what to say. But I can make you a peanut butter sandwich because you might get hungry and not want to talk to anybody at the airport or something. I think I shook my head. I know I didn’t leave with a peanut butter sandwich.

I wish more people offer peanut butter sandwiches. Like anybody who has had a loss that isn’t quantifiable, dumb comments abound. I wish I could say “oh, they’ve never experienced the loss of a parent, spouse or somebody intrinsic to their life, they don’t understand the numbing feeling that fluctuates from time to time.” But when a 24 year old knew that he didn’t know what to say? I’m short on giving people a pass. Especially those who I know have had such a loss.
Most of these were met with blank looks or uh-huh comments. But if somebody reads this out in web-world, just think before you offer advice:

1) I said I was going to my parent’s the first part of next month. A co-worker corrected me. “You mean your Dad’s since your Mom is no longer with us.” (Ok, note, my mother NEVER MET THIS PERSON so she was never with ‘us’) Give me a break. My parents were a couple for over 50 years. This one is going to take a while. Sometimes, I can catch myself and say dad where I’d normally say parents. It’s hard: and it is like turning a screwdriver in my gut. If I’m low on energy, I let whatever form of nouns fly.

2) “Wow. Your mom’s death doesn’t seem to bother you that much. I’d be devastated.” COME AGAIN? Let me describe my time since I came back to Boston. Go to work. Go home. Sleep for a few hours. That’s it. I made it to church once. I did a half marathon once. This is the first weekend I’ve even attempted to make my place not look like an episode of hoarders. I’ve been known to cry my entire commute. But when I’m at work, I try get myself into auto-pilot. Why? It’s easier. I’m devastated. I went to text my mom about Dayton upsetting OSU on Friday and caught myself.

3) “Your mother wouldn’t want you to be/to do x.” Ok. Probably. My mother didn’t do mourning much. But she also understood that people are different. My mother would understand that I would understand that things upcoming on my calendar would cause trepidation. The Final Four in Nashville, my nephew’s high school graduation, going to New Orleans. Places and events that she should have been present (or would have had a few texts about) but won’t be. It will be hard.

4) “Rely on God and His Plan”. Ok, that just stands on its own: my mother and I had the same views on “God’s Plan”.

5) “It could be worse.” Your right. I could have lost a child. (Ok, I don’t have one). I could have caused the death of a child. Wait. Fuck that idea. Just take that statement and shove it. Or if your are going to be so damn moronic as to say it IN my presence, you had better not BITCH about one DAMN thing for a year.

I know people don’t know what to say at times: I’ve seen the panicked look on faces when I say the word “Mom”. I remember probably looking the same way at times. The entire process is hard: life moves on; the good, the bad and the ugly. The healing comes in phases. And it is revisited from time to time: that is the nature of the beast. It’s just the re-visiting is less painful (or so I’ve been told). I know I’m less numb. I can’t decide if that is “better” (I know in the long run it is – I also know that being less numb is also making me less tolerant of stupidity). I know I can hold conversations with my siblings and my dad without dissolving into tears which was not possible for the past few weeks.

Luckily, most of my friends have offered various forms of peanut butter sandwiches. I try to remember that when the advice columns start.

A month in: #PhiladelphiaMarathon

August 25, 2013

It was a very frustrating week in the attempt to train for the Philadelphia Half-Marathon (you can support this insanity here).  My nagging hamstring continued to nag so last Saturday (like 8 days ago), I saw a certified athletic trainer I know to see how I could work around this (aside from either quitting or swilling Tylenol).  It’s more an issue of anatomy than anything else.  My right ankle pronates and my right leg is enough longer to alter my gait.  So I spent the week trying to correct that (and let’s face it, it will be more than a week) and he suggested not walking (just small half to one mile walks)  but switching over to some specific exercises instead that would stretch out the hamstring and help with the ankle pronation.  Ok, I’ve now found something I really dislike.  That and I was called the least flexible person in the world (ok, that is true: on so many levels) made a fun, fun week. <insert sarcastic face here> (Scary realization #1: I missed my wogs!)

I didn’t know what to expect today on the ‘long walk day’: I was willing to scale back to 2.5 miles and re-build since I wasn’t sure.  After accidentally shutting off RunKeeper, and having to re-start it (which irked me because I *REALLY* wanted the longest distance to date cheerful e-mail!), and adding up the miles: 4.76 miles!  WOO HOO!  My best distance to date and at one point (about 1.2 miles in), I stopped to debate about backtracking or pushing on to see if I could hit the 5 mile mark.  I’m glad I kept going.  The 5 mile mark did quite get met (part of that is because I was trying to guesstimate the trail) but I did it in the not-so-flat town where I live: without a screaming hamstring!

My shoulder orthopedist (who I’ve known for years), pretty much rolled his eyes at me when I told him what I was doing.  He pointed out that with more hardware IN my body than at your average Home Depot, this might not be a great idea.  I pointed out to him I was walking it, not running it.  He also gave me a few tips for keeping the ankle pointed forwards and cross training.  It makes sense, plus I get to return to swimming which will help!

The best part? I didn’t come home and collapse.  I “stretched” out, had a cup of coffee and flipped on Law & Order to enjoy my Sunday morning routine.  I did giggle when Windsor somehow became tangled up in my green hamstring stretcher.  He’s pretty much a lunatic.

Best training advice of the week? “It’s better to be a RunKeeper snail than a couch potato”.

Better realization? This is the first week, I’ve actually felt this might be an obtainable goal.

Shameless #catspam

naps: they keep a body strong.

naps: they keep a body strong.

Wrap up of week one from #PhiladelphiaHalfMarathon trenches.

August 3, 2013

It’s August. I’m August adverse. Between the humidity, blooming and growing things and just haze, I prefer to spend the days curled up under an air conditioning unit. So far, we’ve had a few good days of low humidity. And let’s face it, a Boston summer, for all of our New England wailing about the heat is only a few really gross days.

I read a few “how to train for your first half marathon including one that was a couch to half-marathon that starts with “you should already be running 5-10 miles a week”. Ok, in my world, couch means COUCH. As in I don’t run. (I mean, technically I can’t run due to the leg length difference but I’m not interested in wallowing over missing the opportunity to run. I think it’s nuts.) So, somewhere I began thinking this might be an impossible task a la Robert Irving failing at Restaurant Impossible or something like that. Then I got mad at myself for thinking I couldn’t do it (I might fail but I’m not going to throw in the towel). I should mention by this point, I hadn’t made it out of my driveway. I’m that exercise adverse.

So I spent 2.5 miles thinking about why am I doing this? Insanity. Challenges. Raising money for charity. Check. Check. Check.

Then I REALLY started thinking about why am I going to do this: I should be able to walk this without stress. I’m out of shape for no good reason (read, because I don’t exercise and live off the American diet of on the go for far, far too long). I’m overweight. And I need a tangible goal to aim for (getting healthy is not goal that motivates me): like I will do a certain event. Side benefits: RunKeeper tells me exactly how many calories I’ve burned. I can translate that quite easily into “There is no way in hell I’m eating that. . . it’s 20, 30, 60 minutes of hell because of that choice.” A shift from my previous attempts of weight loss. I’ve found myself not craving sugar. Um. I’m not going to even try to figure out why. I’m sure there is some logical explanation: but the vending machine lost one of it’s best customers in the past two weeks. I’ve had to consume less caffeine to live (sell your stock in Coca-Cola).

End of the week stats: 8.52 miles.
RunKeeper animal status: Snail (I’m aiming for turtle).
Best advice: “Just make sure you do 3 walks over 11 miles. You’ve got to get over that hurdle.”

Shameless fundraising link.  One in 50 kids will be diagnosed with Autism (or on the spectrum).  I know too many people impacted by this disorder.  Research dollars are needed; please consider giving. Plus it supports my insanity.

13.1 miles, it can’t be that bad, right? #halfmarathon

July 28, 2013

In a fit of a lack of judgment/goal setting/bucket list crossing off, I randomly decided to walk/jog the Philadelphia half marathon in November. Yup. The single most exercise adverse person on the planet (ok, maybe not the planet) decided why not? A friend is running the full and Philadelphia is a great city so I figured go big or go home. Ok, well maybe not big (if so I’d be attempting the full) but I’ve spent a ton of time trying to figure out a way to motivate myself to get into shape. The entire ‘get into shape for better health’ does not work for me. . . .the entire you just spent a ton of money and you better not give it up because you were too lazy to prepare for the event motivates me.

I signed up to wog (walk+jog) the Philadelphia Half Marathon. The longest distance I’ve ever walked is when I did the loop at Hollins twice in one day: and that was oh so long ago. I’ve decided to raise money for one of the official charity partners, OAR, which works on autism research (shameless plug to fundraising site here).

After spending the day yesterday downloading different training plans, I set off today on my first wog. I’m pretty sure I didn’t do any long-term damage. I dropped my pace time from the walks I have been doing. I’ve found a loop that measures exactly 2.5 miles which can be easily extended to a 3 mile loop (makes it easier for training!).

The best part? I didn’t come home and collapse like I thought I might. I stretched, ate some breakfast and looked at the training calendar for what I’m supposed to do tomorrow. This is either going to be one of the best or worst ideas I’ve had. It is completely one of the craziest!

They are #cats. Really.

July 26, 2013

Last night I popped open an e-mail from somebody I’ve known for roughly 9 years.  We crossed paths in graduate school and I have, what I would have termed until yesterday, an extremely causal acquaintanceship with this person: meaning if we were at the same party, I’d go over and say hello but not much more that a superficial relationship at best.

“Hi.  I believe in honesty.  I just wanted to let me know that in light of the Trevon Martin decision, I found your link on FB to demonstrate latent racism on your part.  I’ve seen a few of your posts about your cat who you call ‘the world’s dumbest animal’ and now this link about another person referring to a black cat in the same manner.  This IS racism.  I’ve expressed my concerns to you before regarding the names of your animals.  Please consider these types of posts and naming of your animals going forwards.  In Christ’s Peace. . . . “

What. The. Hell.  Ok, get a grip you dumb ass New England Liberal, or more correctly, get your head OUT OF your ass.  Lafitte is a cat. (You know, 4 paws, whiskers, tries to catch birds/mice and meows).  He also is quite dumb.  Cute but dumb.

Jackson IS named after Andrew Jackson.  Yup, there are some aspects of the Jacksonian Era that are questionable, there are also some pretty good things (the start of the national banking system) and some quirky things (oh, big block of cheese, to the victor the spoils and that almost burning down of the White House thanks to a party). And depending on who you are, credit for starting the Democratic Party.  If you knew something about history, you’d get that Laffite was Jackson’s side-kick in the Battle of New Orleans securing the port during the War of 1812 (albeit after the war had ended).

But here is the thing: they are C-A-T-S named after (one could argue) moderately important figures and legends in early American history.  One is orange, one is black.  I had Lafitte’s named picked before I even saw him.  I got him because Jackson needed a side kick.

I’m not denying the very real racism that exists in this country: I’m not denying that as a person of European descent I do not fully grasp the complexities of racism (but when you want to chat with me about sexism, discrimination based on sexual orientation or disability, give me a call).

I am stating for the record, having a dumb black cat named after a pirate doesn’t making me a racist.  But sending me an e-mail telling me I’m one, and then signing your e-mail using religion only re-enforces my entrenched beliefs about over the top liberal idiocy regarding issues and the looking for oppression around every corner in and demanding an apology.

Not everything has a hidden agenda people.  Sometimes, you just name your pet after a few quirky personalities in history.  It’s not like I named him Mussolini.  Now *that* would have been offensive.

And for the record? The writer of the e-mail is a white, heterosexual male.  Not that it should make any difference.

A great #gay day. No, really. Take that #DOMA

June 26, 2013

I started today posting on Facebook about my very real fears regarding my rights remaining as the status quo, which would mean that I would not be a full citizen of the country of my birth.  Over the past ten years, I’ve watched this country become more accepting to gay marriage but I feared the decision coming from the Supreme Court.

As I waited for the decisions to be handed down, I felt the acid rising in my stomach.  I sat at work and desperately tried to focus.  I received a text shortly after I knew the decision had been handed down (damn my work place for blocking live stream!).  It simply said “well, shit.”  What? Followed by a virtual text explosion.  Almost every gay person I know started texting each other: stunned euphoria. Yes, we’d have liked for a broader reach, yes there is much work to be done but in a matter of minutes, gay people in 12 states and DC had the same federal rights as everybody else.

Tears started to slide down my face.  It was (almost) everything I asked for.  It didn’t take the sting away of having my civil rights be adjudicated. It doesn’t end homophobia.  It didn’t settle the constant state vs. federal rights battles.  As my co-workers started following the story of some football player being arrested for murder, I wanted to yell at them to shut up, to revel in the moment that for a lot of people today will be one we won’t forget because we were told what we knew: we are equal.

I realized that for them, the SCOTUS decisions weren’t that important.  A few passing comments were made, mostly “I thought we got rid of that a few years  ago”, but for the rest of the day, I kept checking my twitter feed to make sure, yes, that really did happen.

Tomorrow, we can start working on equality in all states.  But tonight is for celebration.

The insanity of attempting to use your #fsa and #insurance plans. #mangledcare

May 13, 2013

The flexible spending accounts (FSA) are one of the more under utilized benefits by many of my co-workers.  The net is that you can legally allocated up to $2500 (as a single person) designated from pre-tax dollars to pay for prescription medications, physical therapy, medical co-pays, etc.  Usually (keyword) it works like a charm; you go to the pharmacy to pay with the debit card and it’s done.

Until one day, you receive in the mail letter stating that they company managing the FSA system (in my case PayFlex) sends you a letter stating they need “an itemized receipt for the treatment received”.  It’s a Dante worthy ring of hell adventure just this side of having to be the unfortunate soul to cuts Donald Trump’s hair. Really.

Being a proper Gen Xer, I first tried to solve this issue on-line.  Being a total type A, save documentation you probably don’t need person, I pulled out the “Welcome to PayFlex” guide.  Any reasonable, logical, sane person would have waited until Monday to handle this over the phone.  After spending a few hours playing with the web site, I gave up and called.

I swear on Jackson’s life that the reason why costs care are what they are is because of the sheer ineptitude of the industry to become seamless.  It would save them money (increase profits), probably decrease secondary illnesses related to things like increased stress from dealing WITH insurance companies.  The reality is that none of these the issues I’m have their roots in the currently being enacted Health Care Reform Act/Obamacare.  My hope is that the new act will only LESSEN the frustrations.  I don’t have hope because the system is so entrenched.

So back to the attempt to use my FSA account. . . .

I mailed back the detailed receipt as requested.

They denied the claim.

I called.  Why was this denied? You didn’t use our form.  Uh, great but it doesn’t say to send a claim.  I read her the letter (really) and it didn’t mention a claim form.  A few transfers letter, they’ve agreed to re-review bill without the form since, you know, they don’t require it.

Back and forth, they ask if they can fax me something (no, I don’t have a fax number).  They are stunned.  I’m stunned.  I ask them to send me the form in the mail (true story: my printer broke and since I can use the printer at work? Why bother: most of my life is paperless) since I don’t have a printer.

Back on hold; they aren’t sure if they can mail me the form since it’s on-line.

More conversation, she keeps suggesting to me to use the online feature(s).  I wholly agree but I point out to her that since I am using my iPad, there is an encryption mismatch.  I agree to use my notebook to register for the services.  Turns out, my employee ID number wasn’t long enough: I needed 2 leading zeros. Turns out the zip code that I’m supposed to use is not mine but my employers (not in the information).  Log in.

Very first line? “New mobile applications for iPhones, iPads, Andriod and Blackberry.”

Somebody just send me Bully Boy Vodka.

 

And we are stunned by #Abercrombie & Fitch #feminism

May 9, 2013

I’ve seen variations of the following article discussing the idiocy of Abercrombie & Fitch in various versions all of over social media. This is the latest one to hit my Facebook feed.

Here is the deal: this isn’t like the CEO of Macy*s saying such a stupid remark.  A&F has a long, long, long history of questionable business ideas.  Deciding to boycott A&F now ranks up there with the idea of “Hey, I wonder if we can land a person on the moon?”.  Abercrombie & Fitch has long been worthy of a boycott, banishment and a simple refusal by sane people to not purchase their clothing.  Here are some of the highlights:

 

1) Employees are refered to as ‘models’.  Yup, you read that right, models.  I’m not going to go on an anti-model rant but in the context in of the 21st century model is just this side of “allowing for objectification” and “we won’t hire ugly people.”

2) In 2005, the company was subject to a federal consent decree due to a hiring and promotion practices.  A consent decree essentially means that the federal government has found their violations of federal laws has been so egregious that a third-party is required to monitor such activity.  I work in a heavily regulated federal industry, it’s extremely hard to wind up with a consent decree when matters of health, medicine and transportation are involved.  It’s damn near impossible when clothes are concerned.

3) A&F has a history of discriminatory practices against Muslims and people with disabilities.

4) Countless ads that objectify and/or sexualize children, ads that are xenophobic, employment practices that are far out of line cultural norms.

Look, this is a company that has united feminist groups, Bob Jones University, liberal religious traditions and several unions.  Yes, they did donate $10 million dollars an emergency department at a children’s hospital.  But the larger question is this: this is a company that at every turn manages to purposefully offend every non-white, thin, attractive member of the population.  Ten million dollars probably doesn’t even begin to cover the damages they have done.

The bigger question is this: Why the hell have people been shopping them for so long?