Posts Tagged ‘tolerance’

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 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.

Angry Lesbian Rant Year After Amendment One #lgbt

May 8, 2013

FB this morning is that it’s been a year since NC declared I’m not an equal person. Most days, I shrug states rights. Ok, no days do I think that. But the year anniversary the day after Delaware made me completely disheartened.

You know, I’m sick of defending the South and Southwest where a chunk of my family and friends live. I pretty much think your states all suck. How you can look me squarely in the eye and say you don’t think I deserve the same rights as every other citizen is beyond me. This isn’t about marriage in the religious sense but about marriage in the legal citizenship sense. Don’t flatter yourself: a gay guy or a lesbian woman isn’t looking at you or your spouse plotting how to break up your marriage so we can ‘convert’ you. Really. And if you are worried about that? Find a therapist. Homophobia is curable.

If you can say you feel my right to marry a woman is “immoral” ok. Chances are you’ve done things in that Bible you want to shove in my face I could probably find a list of ‘immoral acts’ you’ve committed: starting with the shellfish argument, the clothes you wear, the fact you are ‘casting a stone’ created completely in your own mind(s). While I’m at it, while you are shoving your morals on my rights, do you even bother to attend church let alone tithe? Or do you stand on the judgement of others because you think it is your God-given heterosexual right?

Here is the piece which you probably won’t read. Gay people probably aren’t going to run a church that they know is gay unfriendly asking to be married. If you attend church, you probably know that the minister of a church usually retains the right to perform the ceremony. Marriage is both a civil and religious ceremony. I could give a rats ass about your church polity. My church polity allows for marriage, unions, blessings of same-sex couples. My state grants the same rights (it’s the part where the minister says “by the power vested in me from the state of xxxx”). You can keep your interpretation of God. I demand my civil rights: as a tax payer, as a citizen, and as a human. Until then, I think 39 states suck.

Simply #bostonstrong

May 1, 2013

Along Boylston
Along Boylston

Make shift Memorial at Copley.

Marathon pic2

Marathon pic3

Marathonpic4

Marathonpic5

marathonpic6

Also at Copley.

marathonpic7

Re-glassing of Marathon Sports.
Marthon Sports Reglass

For the first time since the marathon, I had to be in the Copley area.  I snagged a few pictures.  I’ve always thought that make shift memorials were weird.  As I wandered around the one that has sprung up on the Boylston side of Copley,  looking at random pictures, quotes, I understood.  New Englanders in general don’t show a lot of emotion.  There were tears shed.  The ever-present car horns that are Boston were absent, nary a Duck Boat in site and the street musicians were absent. Copley has changed.  We are still struggling.  We need the satellite trucks gone.  Our farmer’s market needs to open on time.  We will heal.  We are changed.  But we are #oneboston.

I’ve lived here longer than anyplace aside from my native Chicago.  I’m proud to call Boston home.  And our city will only be better.  Because, to quote the incident commander, “It’s what we do.  We are better than them.”  We are #bostonstrong.

$250,000 part of the “elite”: Think again, It’s really about the ZIP code.

September 16, 2012

In fairness, both candidates have made comments regarding no cuts for households earning less than either $200,000 or $250,000 (depending on candidate) in the recent tax plan.  I’ve seen a host of comments regarding that particular line in the sand.  And then I started to wonder. I randomly picked 2 professions: A RN (with a BSN) and an accountant to make up the 2 income household.  According to the March 27, 2012 data release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean accountant salary in the U.S. runs $70,130 per year.  The median annual base salary for a registered nurse in the United States is at $65,918.  This household would have a base salary for of $136,048.  Both are professional jobs that require at least a 4 year college degree.  Here are some city by city comparisons:

I used Des Moines, IA as the point of comparison: it’s fairly economically stable, Midwestern city.

To maintain the same standard of living that $136,048 would create in Des Moines, the mythical couple would need to make:

$180,527: Phoenix, AZ

$214,251:  Los Angeles, CA

$217,407:  Oakland, CA (live), SF (work)

$130,345: Birmingham, AL

$175,124:  Anchorage, AK

$161,690: Denver, CO

$237,850: Washington, DC

$142,879: Jacksonville, FL

$131,401: Columbus, GA

$175,770:  Chicago, IL

$129,273: Indianapolis, IN

$132,985: Kansas City, KS

$139,669: New Orleans, LA

$162,577: Minneapolis/St. Paul

$177,962: Baltimore, MD

$213,582: Boston, MA

$187,325: Hartford, CT

$132,839: Omaha, NE

$146,206: Albuquerque, NM

$273,400: New York, NY (all boroughs)

$134,666: Tulsa, OK

$145,961: Pittsburgh, PA

$140,326: Roanoke, VA

$254,583: Honolulu, HI

There is a real danger of a line in the sand approach to tax based on income without matrices to the cost of living factor by zip code.  Randomly picking 2 “average” jobs for a family and plugging them into the salary.com conversion shows a wide array of what the income needed to maintain the same standard of living based on region for the same job.  We can’t find relief for the vanishing middle class buy an arbitrary line.  Part of the alleged tax reform has to include an actualization of real income by region.

The Silence Requested by Andover Newton and What It Says About Theological Education and Failing Academic Institutions.

September 13, 2012

I am not going to pretend to be unbiased regarding this situation.  I have stated my disgust in more private forms of social media for about a year.  Much of the facts are shrouded in the silence that comes with a cover-up, a disgrace and most of all an attempt to preserve a reputation of what was national and is now mostly regional mid-tier academic institution.

 What I know is that last fall; Dr. Mark S. Burrows was dismissed from Andover-Newton Theological School.  In a letter dated on 10/21/2011 from school president, Rev. Nick Carter, it was stated that Dr. Burrows was dismissed for “due to unprofessional, unethical and immoral behavior involving failure to maintain professional boundaries with students.”  As an alumna, I did not receive the letter sent to the Andover Newton Community and “close friends”; I received several copies via e-mail from alumni/alumnae.

 At the close of the letter, Rev. Carter asks that “you appreciate the sensitivity of this and limit what you say to others.”

 Here is the response I should have sent last year:

Go to hell.  Rev. Carter is asking for silence to save the reputation of the professor involved and the institution that employed him for many years.  Rev. Carter, instead of using this as an opportunity to say that the reasons for Dr. Burrows’ termination were wholly unacceptable in a public manner (asking community for silence is something that has been vilified by criticizers of Penn State, the Roman Catholic Church and other organizations that have dealt with “immoral behavior” issues.)  At the time, or shortly before, Dr. Burrows was Rev. Dr. Burrows.  He is no longer an ordained minister according to his personal web site.  He has accepted another teaching position in Germany to begin in 2013 (his wife is German).  Does this institution know of the reasons behind Dr. Burrows’ dismissal? Or has the wider community of Andover-Newton (this author included) conspired in duplicitous behavior to save an institution?

 ANTS is just as much as an institution as Penn State Football.  Is there a difference between “immoral behavior” between adults and children: perhaps.  The underlying tenant is the same: a person in power (real or perceived) demanded something causing harm to another.  The difference is in the legal aspect: ANTS did not break a law, some at PSU did.

 Rev. Carter and ANTS did not use this as an opportunity to have open and real discussions on the abuse of power, the damage to the reputation this can cause.  Instead, they swept the matter under the rug.  Any institution that has faced a situation (a family, an organization, a football program or a university) often gives the first response of “I had no idea”.  This is not an act solely out of ignorance: but lack of awareness, lack of a safe environment for discussions without fear of retribution and the inherent power dynamic that tends to present itself in all structures.

 Instead of saying “what can we learn, how can we educate ourselves as supposed moral/ethical/religious leaders”, the president of the nation’s oldest theological school, Rev. Nick Carter, requested silence.

 The time for silence surrounding the abuse of power is long gone.  If an organization wants to be a leader, wants to mold leaders, wants to demonstrate how to answer the hard questions, then speaking up is the action: not a plea for silence.

 I know I will offend people with this: I don’t care.  Read that again: I don’t care.  I am embarrassed by my actions of a year ago: I should have spoken up then.  I am embarrassed to hold a degree from this institution that publically touts itself as liberal and forward thinking, but in one of its darkest hours returned to the traditional response of get the offender out the door and ask for silence to preserve the institution.

72 Days until the Presidential Election: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.

August 26, 2012

The Apollo program was actually higher up on the list but with the news of Neil Armstrong’s death yesterday, I felt the need to re-organize the list of random things that are good about this country.  I’ve never lived in a world where a man hasn’t walked on the moon.  From the ultimate challenge issued by President Kennedy in 1961 to that July night in 1969, a group of individuals worked to have men walk on the moon and bring them home safely. I freely admit to being a fan of the space program: it encourages creativity, engineering and (for me) the ultimate experience a human could have, being able to view the earth without borders.

Thinking about the first mission to the moon and the integral team work required and the multiple ways the mission could fail to this day amazes me.  Creativity is often thought of as artistic: it is equally mathematical. I read in one of the tributes to Neil Armstrong that he, by his own admission, was a nerdy, white sock wearing pocket protector donning engineer from Ohio who simply walked on the moon.  Buzz Aldrin took communion on the surface of the moon.  His statement back to Earth after walking on the moon, “I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way.”, underscore perhaps even minimize the accomplishment.  Michael Collins described the time he spent alone circling the moon as almost exhilarating.

For me, the teamwork, the creativity and sheer audacity to decide to walk on the moon in eight years is one of the greatest accomplishments this nation has achieved. The computing power used to walk on the moon is less than in the standard smart phone.  And as a nation we did it: we put a man on the moon. And another, plus a few more: the entire Apollo operation reminds me of the hummingbird who flies because it thinks it can not because it’s supposed to.  As a country, we have proven time and time again we can do great things when we put differences aside and focus on a goal.

I couldn’t see the moon last night to give it a wink thanks to a few overcast skies but I will this week.  The Apollo 11 astronauts, flight crew and everybody involved did something amazing, that even over four decades later still makes me stop and reflect on the absolute audacity of belief, brain power and courage it took to take a giant leap.

73 days until the Presidential Election: Oreo Cookies.

August 25, 2012

Ok, I was going to start on Day 74 but that would have involved a tirade on trying to find lavender that can be used in cooking in Boston which would have become a long rant on various annoying things people do at grocery stores which is the exact OPPOSITE of what I’m trying to do.

So, expect 73 blogs (give or take) of things that are good about these 50 states, various territories, outposts and things that we have accomplished. Some will be silly, some serious and some historical. All will be written with my inherent bias of a white, lesbian native Midwesterner with a mild disability living in the Boston area.

But today, I choose to uplift the Oreo cookie. Why? It’s simply the best selling cookie in the US. It is proof that one can eat vegan and have a horrific diet. The Oreo, in its simplicity, can spar hours of debate on the proper way to eat an Oreo. I admit doing some light (read Wiki) research. Remember how people (read probably a parent or grandmother) used to try to pass off Hydrox as Oreos? Oreos were invented by Nabisco to compete with Hydrox. Who says copies can’t be an improvement.

Yes, I try to eat as much non-GMO, 100% locally grown food as possible. But let’s face it: there are days that demand Oreos. And water. Never milk. And keep in mind that there is a reason that in October, especially around the 3rd Saturday, orange colored but not flavored filling comes out in the Oreos. We all know who the Oreo gods side with during that game. You never see a crimson colored Oreo. That would, of course, be blasphemy.

It’s No, No, No, Nordstrom Anniversary!

August 4, 2012

Sigh.  Nordstrom used to represent legendary customer service.   Today, I returned, after a bit of frustration, a skirt and 2 pairs of shoes to my local Nordstrom that I had sent to me during the (in)famous Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

I’d rather have a root canal.  Ok, maybe not that extreme but close.

I stepped off the elevator and took my items to the customer service department.  I wanted to just dart in, out and continue on with my day.  Was I wrong!  As I placed my Nordstrom bag on the counter, with the receipts in hand and my Nordstrom card (trust me, for these acts alone I deserve a medal).  The customer service representative told me he could not help me with my returns.  Um, excuse me? I mean, it’s a return.  You are customer service.  He pointed to a sign that said I could go to any department and they’d be happy to assist me with my return.  Seriously? I mean, this is a Nordstrom: places of legendary (and false) tire returns.

I trudged over to St. John’s (the closest department) and while the woman was lovely, she couldn’t return the shoes.  Something about a “company policy” again and I know Nordstrom employees take flak all day so I smiled and took my items downstairs to the shoe department.

I walked up to the shoe counter with my items and was asked if I needed help.  Yes, I needed to return some items from the Anniversary Sale.  And the sales associate offered to find somebody (I sort of wondered why she asked if she wasn’t going to help but oh well).  I pulled out my two pairs of shoes and my skirt.  The new sales associate apologized but said he couldn’t help me with the skirt but would take care of the shoes.  At this point, I was wondering *where* Nordstrom and their famous customer service went.  I asked about the sign at customer service that any department could help with any return.  He explained that shoes was different due to a “company policy”.  After inspecting my shoes in a manner that would make a US Marine Corps Drill Sergeant proud, he stated he could return the shoes.  (Great, I’m thinking because I bought them less than two weeks ago, looked at them in person and said not for me.)

I went back up to St. John’s and returned the skirt.  The woman apologized again saying that different departments can only return some items.   She helped me return the skirt and was nice but really? 4 departments for 3 items? Target and Wal-Mart both don’t have you run all over the store for a simple return.

On my way out, I stopped by customer service.  I wanted to let them know their sign was wrong.  He explained the same “company policy” on returns about different departments.  .  I half jokingly asked the customer service rep if I could purchase a roll of quarters from him since that was on my to-do list.  He said he was sorry but it was against company policy.  At this point, I had to think what exactly does customer service DO all day?

On a lark, I looked a www.nordstrom.com for their returns policy:  “Simply bring the packing slip and credit card used when you placed the order to any one of our stores.”  And be prepared to run around for a bit.

Pentecost and Cory Booker: an odd duo.

May 26, 2012

There is a passage in Acts that describes a gathering of individuals (hardly even the ultra-early church) where individuals spoke in his/her native language and was understood by the recipient in his/her native language (think text predictor gone right).  I’ve been to enough church services on enough continents to pick out some of the more ritual aspects of the services (some always confuse me: The Apostles Creed descending to hell or not, trespass/debts/sin variations on the Lord’s Prayer) that I can intellectually understand that passage to mean an understanding due to ritual, body language and common ideals.  Of course, I’m always bemused by Peter saying people aren’t drunk because it’s 9:00 am, clearly, the man had never tailgated in the SEC/Big 10 areas of the world: especially when it’s coupled with the German peasant phrase popularized by Goethe of strawberries by Pentecost mean a good wine crop.  (Note, there were ripe strawberries at the farmers market today in the Boston ‘burbs so I’m thinking it’s going to be a good wine crop. . . ).

As I drove around today making stops at various farmers markets, I couldn’t help but notice all the flags flying at half-mast (an oddly enduring Massachusetts tradition) and think about Memorial Day in the context of those gathered during the first Pentecost and wondering what we would collectively say to each other if what we were saying would be understood.  It would probably come very close to what has landed Cory Booker in hot water for saying what many of us believe: as Andrew Rosenthal wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed

“Cory Booker, the young, dynamic and often unpredictable mayor of Newark, got himself into hot water over the weekend by likening Republican attacks on President Obama’s former relationship with Jeremiah Wright to Democratic attacks on private equity. “This kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides,” he said on “Meet the Press.” “It’s nauseating to the American public.”

He also touted the president’s pro-business record (“over 90% of Americans have seen tax cuts under this president”), and said that Mitt Romney “would have let the auto industry fail,” but the media focused on his apparent defense of Mr. Romney’s work at Bain Capital. “I know I live in a state where pension funds, unions and other people are investing in companies like Bain Capital. If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record they’ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses.”

The sad thing? Booker has spent the week apologizing for his comments.  Booker spoke in a language everybody – right, left, center – understood.  We are tired of the finger pointing, hatred, vilification of opposition.  Discuss your plans, the concrete ones and how you are going to pay for them.  Show us how you will improve our systems.  If the only way you can win is by trashing your opponents, you aren’t worthy of the position.  Booker is right, it is nauseating.  We as a country are better than this: and when an individual feels he has to apologize for heartfelt, probably dead on accurate comments, there is one thing I’m pretty certain of: we all agreed on the message from Mr. Booker, it just hit some on the campaign trail a bit too close to home.