Tuesday, November 29, 2016

An Awkward Pause

The show was over, so I made small talk with a couple people I knew as the audience filtered out of the theater. Eventually, the crowd thinned, and I made my way up the aisle to the exit myself.

On the way, I noticed someone who I used to be friends with. We'd shared dinner dates and common experiences and laughter in the past... and while we weren't really on those do-stuff-together terms now, it was more due to growing-apart and lives moving on than any sort of relationship strife. So, I leaned into a seat to say Hello.

It was a "Hey, it's good to see you, how have you been?" followed by a polite "Good, thanks..." and... then started busily texting into her phone...  sign of dismissal.

I sat there, perched on the arm of the seat, thinking, Hmm...  well, this is good and awkward. Now what? I opened my mouth a couple times, but eventually settled on standing back up and saying, "Well, I just wanted to stop and say Hello..." before making my escape to the lobby where someone who is actually a friend was waiting for me.

It was an odd interaction that had roots in I-don't-know-what...  I thought about it on my drive home. What WAS that? And, of course, you come up with a bunch of Maybe's.  But, in the end, what I settled on was Well. I guess, now you know? and let it go at that.

Not all endings need a reason.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Morning After

I am worried.

I am worried that we (apparently) elected a president that ran a campaign which glorified hatred.

I am deeply troubled by the angers that revealed about us.

You worried about the 2nd amendment with Clinton... I'm worried about the 1st.

I'm worried about marginalization. I'm worried about direction. I'm worried about racism and sexism and faithism (which probably isn't actually a word).

I mean, this is the short list.

But I have teenage children and they are listening. Perhaps when you have teenage children... especially ones with big hearts for the marginalized...  you have to find perspective quickly.

Last night, my kids were asking, "Mom... can we move to Canada?" It's always Canada. Surely, they have even more bears.

But no...  we're not going to move to Canada.  And here's why.

I do not believe that the world is going to end because Donald Trump is the president. Things may be rocky for awhile, and I believe they will be, but the world is not going to end.

We are not going to move to Canada because this is our home. And when you have a home, you love it and you protect it.

We are not going to move to Canada because someone has to be the helpers. Mr Rogers said to look for the helpers. Sometimes you have to be the helpers. And that's who we're going to be.

We're going to be the people who look for hurts and hold out a loving hand. We're going to be the people who give the oppressed somewhere safe to land. We're going to be the people who spew love when the words spinning around are ones of division.

You can call me Pollyanna if you want... if that makes you feel better. I choose hope over despair. And if that makes me naive in your eyes, I honestly don't care. I can love you, too.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Women, Worth, and the Supreme Court

The other day, I had an interesting conversation with my husband before he went to work -- which I would like to try to relay without throwing him under the bus. He'd been listening to NPR the day before, and the show had had a woman on as a guest -- who I will guess skews a bit into the realm of what I call militant feminism. She'd been talking about an experience she'd had, walking to the subway, where a man had been following her (whether that was because he was or just because he needed to go to the subway too) and the way that put her on edge.

Or at least that's my less-militant analysis of what she'd said...  My sense was that she'd used a lot more threatening language to describe the situation, and I could tell that my husband was skeptical of her experience.

But, while I wouldn't have used to same terminology that she did, I also understood her and we had an interesting conversation about what it can be like to be a woman in our culture.

That you ARE hyper-aware of your surroundings and if a man is following you -- not because you think all men are animals, but because you know that some are. And because you can't know which is which just by looking at them, you have to be a little on edge.

That I'm thinking about it as I walk to my car at night.
That I'm thinking about it if I'm running in the dark or somewhere not-well-populated.
That I'm calculating how much energy I need to save for if an extra burst of speed is necessary.
That if I pass a man going the other way, I check over my shoulder a few times to make sure he's still gone.

After he went on his way to work, I was left with my own thoughts. I began thinking of all the times I've experienced something that was unsavory but that I just accepted as an unfortunate cost of being a woman in our world.

Like the time I went to a country music concert and, in between sets, got into a seemingly friendly-but-innocent conversation with a guy about the stadium's sound quality. He asked me out... I told him I was married and kindly turned him down.  And after I'd moved my seat to somewhere in the stadium that had better sound quality, he took that conversation as carte-blanche to slap me on the ass every time he came down the stadium stairs. And how, even though it made me angry, I made myself laugh it off.  Because... I don't know...  Because it's what happens?

I began to understand in that moment why I have been so angry.

Because I have been angry. Uncharacteristically angry.

I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus. I believe in His love and, over time, I came to believe the value He places on ... well, on each and every one of us.

It was with mild annoyance that I viewed the Christian leaders initially come forward to push for Donald Trump's presidency. I've never been much for revering those in national Christian leadership -- I find it can be a fine line between respect and idolatry- so what they do or say doesn't often bother or thrill me either way. But I understand that they are often the face of how other people see who I say that I am.

It wasn't until the Access Hollywood tape and the ensuing/ongoing sexual harassment brouhaha that I started to get angry. I couldn't tell you how much of all that is or isn't true. Is it possible that Trump is telling the truth and every single one of those women is making it up?  Yeah. Do I believe that EVERY single one is making it up?  No... but I can admit that I could be wrong.

But what I do believe is that the attitude and beliefs he displayed in that AH video are real. And I don't think that they were in the past. I think that they are still very very much a part of his psyche and who he is.

So when, in the aftermath, I saw the same Christian leaders all giving the same general statement.... "Of course we don't condone the words he said, but Supreme Court."

But Supreme Court.
But Supreme Court
But Supreme Court.

It made me angry.  Really angry and disappointed and infuriated.

And it wasn't until I'd thought through everything after that conversation with my husband that I began to understand why.

We're worth more than a seat on the Supreme Court. I am worth more. And every woman I know is worth more. And it infuriates me that upstanding men who I should be able to trust to have my back are willing to sell me for a seat on the Bench.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

TT: The Night We Killed One




"Seven billion people in the world and you're overreacting because we killed one?"

"But --!"

"Seven. Billion. People. Quit complaining and drink your smoothie.  Geez."

Dad had always said to do whatever my brother told me. Ben knew best. Ben always knew best. I mean, didn't he?  So I closed my eyes and stepped over the corpse.

I couldn't call it a man anymore. Somehow, it made what had happened easier to accept. Stepping over a corpse was easier if you stopped thinking of it as a person.

Killing one was easier, too.

Ben stuck his hands in his pockets and whistled as he sauntered down the street. When I was younger, it would have been flooded with the yellow light of the streetlights. But, I wasn't younger and the streetlights were long gone - picked off for steel or glass or whatever anyone was buying that year. All we had was moonlight anymore.

I thought I liked it better.

Tossing my cup into a trashbin no one bothered with anymore, I ran to catch up with him. "Ben --!"

"I told you, I don't want to hear your snivelling." He'd already stopped thinking about it.

"But, Ben-- you forgot your knife."

Ben glanced at me, but his eyes were cold. "No, I didn't. You did. Go back and get it."

Do what your brother says. Do what your brother says.

There was no use in refusing. There never was.  I walked slowly back.

The man -- I shook my head -- The corpse --  still sat crumpled by the car. Of course it did. Where was it going to go? My feet felt heavier the closer I came until they felt like I could barely lift them anymore.

It wore a green jacket... the kind of green that the military used to wear.. and his hair flopped over one eye. If I let myself think of him as man, I could imagine him constantly running his hand through his hair to push it out of the way. But... he wasn't a man. He was a corpse.

He was a corpse. Because of us.

I squatted beside him and wrapped my hand around the hilt of the knife.  It was slimy with his blood, so I used two hands to pull it free. I imagined it sounded like it did when they pulled my tooth as a kid.

"Ah, sweet Jesus." I jumped. The corpse.  It -- he -- winked at me. He winked at me? "Thanks, kid." I looked back toward my brother in panic, but the corpse - man -- put his hand on my shoulder.

"It's best he doesn't know."

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Opening a Closed Door

I think that sometimes it's good to really know.

I found out how I really felt recently. I had a relationship that had petered out and I felt a lot of different ways about it... a lot of conflicting ways.

I had been sad.
I had been mad.
I had been indignant.
I had taken responsibility.
I had felt regrets.
And sometimes confusion.

Mostly, I was able to chalk it up to a relationship that I had gotten to have -- but that was now in the past.  Most of the time, I was okay with that. I had healed. I was at peace.

But sometimes I wasn't... sometimes I was still confused and angry and hurt.

In a whimsical moment of nostalgia, I wrote to them. It wasn't a big thing... It was a "Hi, how are you?" sort of email. It opened a door if they wanted to answer it.

After I sent it, as soon as I sent it, I thought, "Was that really a door you wanted to knock on? Was that a door that you want to walk through or is it better if it stays closed?"

I sort of hoped that they wouldn't answer the email -- so that I wouldn't have to answer the question. If they didn't answer, it wasn't on me. I would be absolved of the choice.

But, they did.  So I had to really think about it. Is this what I wanted?

I thought. I talked to someone. But I realized that I really didn't need advice - at least not from someone else. What I needed was to listen to myself.  I needed to listen to my heart and decide if walking back through that door was where I wanted my path to go.

And, in the end... it wasn't. It was a relationship that I valued deeply while I was in it. But I had changed, and there were parts of it that I just didn't want back. I didn't want to feel the same way.

So, I closed the door. Politely, nicely, kindly. But, this time, I closed it with the knowledge that it wasn't meant to be part of my future... and I was deciding with my eyes open that I didn't want it to be.

And knowing that makes it possible for me to move on and leave behind the sad and the mad and the indignation and the regrets. I can finally let those go, and I can move into what the future holds without looking back and wishing.

I can move into the future with a head held high and be confident -- because now I know.
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