lookingforlissa

Escape your life for a little while — come play in mine.

Posts Tagged ‘“Deep thoughts” or something’

Has class now trumped race as The Great Divide?

Posted by Lissa on July 3, 2012

So says Robert Putnam, anyway, he of Bowling Alone fame. (I took a Washington symposium between my junior and senior year of college that focused on that book … the gist of it, as I recall, was that you could track the health of a society by the number of its choirs, book clubs, debating societies, etc.)

It got me to thinking about my own experiences.

As far as “Belmont” versus “Fishtown”, I come from a purely Belmont background. No, we didn’t go on fancy ski trips to Vail or expensive Club Med vacations — in fact, our vacations were all either at our relatives’ houses in Toronto or at Ocean City, MD / Cape Cod, MA — but my parents (all four of them!) were college graduates who liked or loved to read. I was always in the Advanced classes at my schools and studied classic literature, history, etc. My friends and acquaintances were all going to college, of course; the real brains set their sights on Brown while others might aim for state universities, but everyone was going. Whether in my European History class, my American History Through Film course (which was AWESOME), my Holocaust class, the soccer field, the track or the stage, these were the people by whom I was surrounded. These were the people I knew.

I went on to a small liberal arts college (ranked in the top ten by US News & World Report). It goes without saying that it was purely “Belmont.” After a few years I went to work for a mutual fund company with headquarters in downtown Boston. Finance = Belmont.

I’ve only had two experiences really getting to know people from “Fishtown.”

The first was when I started out a Ye Olde Financial Company and took a second job to help make ends meet on my first apartment – I worked four mornings a week at Dunkin Donuts. The second was taking courses at Florida Community College when I was thinking about changing careers and going into nursing.

And yes . . . . the people were . . . . DIFFERENT.

Not demographically. DD was a largely female crew, mostly young, with a few women who were in their 40s; mostly white, with a few exceptions. My friends from Anatomy & Physiology class were all women, mostly black, with a few exceptions (including one blond who worked at a plastic surgery clinic and looked like Barbie). My group at Ye Olde Financial Company was mostly women, with a few men, and two out of the eight of us were black.

But the YEFC people . . . well, five of us were married, four of them with children. We all saved toward our retirement. The unmarried folks either were in serious relationships, were looking for serious relationships or were globetrotters who vacationed in places like Morocco and Paris. (How she could afford to do that I don’t actually know, but whatever.)

Whereas the DD people . . . one left for a two-week vacation to get married at 20 in Las Vegas. Her mother-in-law worked at the same DD and kept pestering the girl to hurry up and have babies so she could be a grandmother, already (I believe she was 43 at the time). Many of the workers complained about always being short of funds; they spent their money on rent, food, cigarettes, and perhaps marijuana. “Retirement savings” meant having an extra hundred bucks for emergencies, and most of them didn’t have that. I gave my five-minute Roth IRA speech to anyone who would listen, but they were much more likely to “buy silver, because my boyfriend heard that’s really supposed to go up next year.” Most were working at DD’s full time; a few were in nursing school and, like me, picking up a job to help make ends meet.

The community college people were for the most part trying to become nurses. Many already worked in medical clinics. They shared stories about ex-boyfriends with two phones, which they eventually learned was so the “men” in question could cheat on them. One had a baby out of wedlock at 19; another had two more children by two different men; a third had four children and was not yet married. Most of them had finished high school and never considered community college before, let alone a four-year degree.

The intelligence level between DD, the community college and YEFC was not noticeably different. I worked with quick, competent people and I worked with absolute morons in both places.

Have you worked and socialized in both worlds? What comparisons can you draw? What experiences can you share?

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Do EMT’s get gun training?

Posted by Lissa on August 17, 2011

I was feeling rather ill at work last week and scurried back to my desk to get it under control. I carefully took some deep breaths and surreptitiously lowered my head as though digging for something in my purse. The feeling passed fairly quickly — last time I take vitamins on an empty stomach! — helped by the realization that if I keeled over I’d probably flash my thigh holster.

Even in my muzzy nauseated state it was somewhat of a comfort to me that my boss is a gunnie. If I ever DID get really sick, I know he could safely disarm me and stow Kevin while waiting for the EMTs.

Which begs the question of my post title.

This is Florida. While the vast majority of the population goes unarmed, there are still significant numbers of us who go about our daily business with the best self-defense hand-tool available.*

Do emergency medical personnel receive training in how to safely handle, make safe and stow firearms?

If not – why not?

(I’m hoping that TOTWTYTR will take the lead on this one, but anyone is welcome to chime in with their thoughts, medical professionals or not!)

*HAND-tool. The best tool period is still between your ears. Of course. :)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 8 Comments »

Overdue

Posted by Lissa on February 2, 2011

Good morning everyone!  The water heater is fixed, the guests have departed back to colder climes, and classes are settling into a somewhat-routine for me.  Oh, and there’s a thing I want that I’m told is 99.99% sure will be mine.  Y’all cross your fingers, okay? Please?

So, I’d like to give you a movie review on SALT, and a show review for “Harry’s Law,” and tell you about the water heater leak, and explain why I’m so so excited for the month of March, but I can’t do any of that.  I can’t, until I get this out of the way first:

I am . . . a very reluctant TJIC.

 

I had read some of TJIC’s posts when linked by my good friend Borepatch.  I’ve never linked him myself, nor read him regularly, because he’s just not my cup of tea.  And quite frankly I found his “1 down, 534 to go” title to be reprehensible.  Boorish.  Inappropriate.  Disgusting. Abhorrent.  Distasteful.  I can keep going.

But making a nasty, *ssh*le-ish comment shouldn’t be enough to get your gun rights taken away. (Especially with no trial, arrestable crime or discovery process.  Nope, good ol’ MA can just decide that you don’t *deserve* your guns and take away your ability to legally own them.)

You know what’s funny?  I wish TJIC were a liberal. I would find it much less distasteful to defend free speech that called for Sarah Palin’s assassination or the oldie-but-goodie of wishing death on Dubya.  In fact, I’d probably feel pretty good as I did it — maybe even smugly self-righteous.  “Just because I disagree with everything s/he says doesn’t give the government a right to yank his/her permit,” I’d state nobly.

Instead, I find myself with a good dollop of  “Oh dammit I have to defend WHAT?  This guy’s supposed to be on MY team?”

Sigh.  I know, I know; with friends like these, who needs enemies?

Nonetheless.  Just because TJIC wrote something that I find extremely offensive does not make it right for the MA government to yank his gun license.  It’s not right.  It’s very, very wrong, and inappropriate, and outrageous, and eons worse (and more dangerous!) than what he wrote.  (Duh.)

I very much hope that the higher-ups in the Volksrepublik of MA have reconsidered their rash and inappropriate action.

P.S. The predicted high for today is 82°.  Gun laws are only one of the reasons I like Florida!

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Back to school for me!

Posted by Lissa on January 10, 2011

Good moring all!  Thanks for leaving me your input in the last poll — I really did have constipation of the brain.  So, um, my dear readers are the figurative equivalent of Ex-lax.

Crap.  You know what?  I’m not liking the direction this post has taken.  I’m starting over.

Good morrow, dear friends! Per your stated wishes in the last post, I shall at once describe the change in vocation that I hope to bring about.  Tally-ho!

***************************************

As y’all know, I went to Ye Olde Liberal Arts School.  It was a very nice school, with very lovely professors and very accomplished students.  I learned a lot about myself during those years, started to grow into my skin ( a process I continue to this day), and made some friendships that I do think will last me the rest of my life.

Aaaaaaand . . . that’s kind of all.  Sure, I graduated cum laude. Sure, YOLAS is considered an elite school.  But it’s not that well known outside of its regional area.

I graduated in 2002 and jobs were nonexistent.  After what I like to call my Lost Year, I started working for Ye Olde Financial Company in 2003. I stayed there until we left MA this October.  The company was a good place for me; I moved around some, got promoted some, and generally had a successful career.

I thought, when we moved down here, that it could not possibly be as hard to find employment down here as it was in 2002/2003, and I was right — I’ve got high hopes for a couple leads I’m following.  But the fact remains: It’s damn hard to quantify being a good worker in that industry.

Let’s compare my resume to Made Up Person, who was in my group back in Boston.  Now, the folks there hated MUP.  He didn’t do his work on time, wasn’t attentive to the bosses, was careless in his editing, and generally belligerent.  Every time he was assigned to a project, the other participating folks would groan internally and plan on doing more than their fair share of work — they knew they’d need to.

Me?  (Sorry, but I’m gonna toot my own horn here — bear with me for one paragraph.)  They loved working with me.  Higher-ups would request me specifically on projects, or approach me independently with small projects that I’d have to clear with my boss. I was always careful in my review, massively hard on myself when I made mistakes (I **HATE** making mistakes!!!!), and diligent to such small things as whether the higher-ups preferred their copies double-sided or single-sided, paper-clipped or stapled.

And yet on paper? His resume and mine will list roughly the same thing in that position.  The average recruiter will see no difference between his resume and mine.  This despite the fact that I was told explicitly (well, I would have been told, if I wasn’t making up the MUP character) that they cut MUP’s bonus to increase mine.

I’m so TIRED of this.  I’m so tired of looking for work with nebulous credentials.  And now tack on the fact that there’s a decent chance we’ll have to move again within the next seven years, so I’ll get to do it all over again.  Yay! . . . umm, not.

Soooooo . . . I’m going back to school!

Mind you, I never missed school.  Well, not school per-say.  I missed having tons of friends within walking distance, along with my two choirs, but that’s all.  I have enough younger siblings and friends to remember exactly how much I hated doing 20 page papers and cramming for tests and having the fear of unemployment hang over me.  I never wanted to go back.

But I’m hungry for an actual skill set.  I’m eager for a license or qualification that frees me from depending on the intuition of an HR person who will believe that I’m a good worker.  And I need something that will transfer easily if we end up moving.  Oh, and since I’m tired of being frightened of unemployment — a fear I’ve had my whole life, btw — I want a job in an industry that I know is growing.

Can anyone guess?  I bet people have guessed!

Yes, I’m going to nursing school!  Hooray!

Well, actually, I’m starting at a community college this week to get the prerequisites so I can apply to a university Advanced to BSN program.  I’ve got my BA, so it should take about two years total — one year to knock out the prereqs (who wants to butcher a pig?) and one year for the actual program.

I think I’m suited to being a nurse. Whether it’s caring for the camp kiddee who scraped his knee or holding back some girl’s hair in the graduation party bathroom, I somehow end up caretaking for the folks around me.  I’m fairly sure my stomach is strong enough — I don’t have a problem with blood and guts.  I volunteered at a hawk shelter for months and got to play with rats and dull scissors; that didn’t bother me.  (“Let’s see, 18 red-tailed hawks . . . each one requires one-third of a giant rat . . . wish they didn’t have rat shit all over the hindquarters . . . ”  **)  I don’t have a lot of trouble switching my biological clock — I could do the midnight-to-8-AM shift without difficulty. I know the job can get gross, and I know the job can get absolutely heartbreaking, and I think I’m prepared for that.

Of course, whether it’s nursing or parenting or whatever, everyone *thinks* they’re prepared, right?  Perhaps the first time I get puked on by a complete stranger I’ll hang up my Crocs.  ;-)

But I’m determined.  And, assuming that I get my license, I’m guaranteed a growing industry.  I mean, does anyone think that the medical profession is going to become less important?  And with ObamaCare rolling down the Pike and doctors quitting willy-nilly, does anyone think nurses are going to become less valuable?

So that’s my story, folks.  Wish me luck!

P.S. I know Christina‘s doing sort of the same thing.  Thanks, Christina, I’m braced for Microbiology!

 

**The rats didn’t bother me.  Nor did the chicks.  However, the osprey food? VILE.  It would take HOURS for me to stop smelling that nasty slimy fish on my fingers.  Even if I was imagining it.

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A Question on Rape – UPDATED X2

Posted by Lissa on September 22, 2010

Now you see why I was posting nothing but kittehs yesterday?  Before we start, I would like to emphasize that all parties in Situations A, B and C described here are hypothetical.  HYPOTHETICAL. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

In order for us to rationally discuss the item of controversy, we must first lay the baseline:

If at any point during sexual congress (and that means before and also means mid-coitus) Person A says “Don’t”, “Stop”, or “I don’t want to do this”, if Person B does not immediately stop then s/he is committing rape.

Period.  The End.  If you don’t believe this, kindly seek the nearest exit, because you are not welcome at my blog.  Ever.

However, I am VERY confident that my regular visitors are still here, so let us continue to my question:

Is it possible for there to be an incident of rape without any participating party being a rapist?

I say yes.

******************************************************************************

This unborn discussion has been rattling around in my head ever since the B, B & Guns when Bonnie told us she was a survivor. She said no, and he didn’t stop.

Situation A:

Alpha and Alphette are quasi-dating.  Or hell, married; doesn’t make a difference.  Alphette says stop, Alpha ignores her and finishes what he started.

Verdict: Rape.

************************************************************************

I followed the link from Bonnie and found Miss Britt.

Situation B:

Beta and Betty are both drinking at a party.  Beta starts to get it on.  Betty tells him to stop. He doesn’t stop.

Wait, no.  This is still situation A.

Verdict: Rape.

**********************************************************************

But what about Situation C?

Charlie and Charlotte are hardcore drinking at a party.  They go back to a room to fool around.  They’re both drunk as skunks but manage to fumble their way through sex before they pass out.

When Charlotte wakes up in the morning she remembers nothing. Was she drugged?  Or was it just stupidly overindulging in tequila?

She is ashamed. She begins to get small flashes of memory*, but they are only split seconds — just physical instants that give her no clue how it actually went down.  She suffers from depression* compounded by guilt; she tells herself it was her fault for partying too hard and whatever happened, she was “asking for it.”

Verdict: . . . . . . . ..

*************************************************************************

At many colleges and universities, inebriation is considered to limit or sometimes prohibit an act of consensual sex.  See, for example, Boston College:

If an alleged perpetrator has sexual intercourse with a victim who is incapable of consent by reason of sleep, drunkenness, stupefaction, or unconsciousness, the alleged perpetrator may be convicted of rape and the only “force” necessary for conviction is the minimal force required for penetration. In the case of drunkenness, this does not mean that the victim was merely under the influence of alcohol but that he or she was intoxicated to the extent that he or she was unable to give informed consent to the act. Rape may occur between people who know each other or who have had prior consensual relations with each other. [emphasis in original]

Charlotte was far too drunk to give informed consent.  By the rules, this constitutes an act of rape.

But I do not think that makes Charlie a rapist.

***************************************************************************

Do you see what I’m getting at here?  I’m trying to be very clear about not blaming Charlotte.  She is showing signs of trauma and clearly had a horrible experience.  I consider her a victim of rape.

But in a situation of mutual drunkenness as I described, is it Charlie’s fault that he didn’t know that? If Charlotte is willingly (albeit drunkenly) pulling off clothes, stumbling into bed etc., are you going to say Charlie is a rapist for the sex that he thought was consensual?  If Charlotte never said “stop”, never said “don’t”, and was an active participant in the run-up and also *during* the event, can you properly say that Charlie is a rapist?

I do not think so.

*************************************************************************

Why on earth would I open such an ugly, traumatic and serious can of worms on a blog habitually dedicated to cooking, kittehs and Kahrs?  Well, here’s one reason:

Women, young and old, need to realize that every man out there, no matter his appearance, persuasion, race, profession and/or religious inclination , is a potential sexual predator. Hell, men have been trying to abuse us sexually since we were in grade school, from fathers and uncles and brothers, let alone non-related males, a girl child is not safe, if she is not under her mother’s wing. The woman’s liberation movement only made it easier for men to get some free sex. Be always be aware that men’s most sigle minded purpose is to mate, and to mate as much and as often and with as many women as they can possibly get away with. Some men take this desire to the last possible degree, and they will have no patience with courtship and rituals, and even kill their victims to hide their crime. Of these, we must be even more leery of. The problem is, that it is hard sometimes to tell the violent predators, from the common ones. That is why women must treat every single encounter with a male, as a potential rape, and avoid any kind of confinement alone with a male. Do not give men a chance to have privacy with your body, unless you have made a conscius, not a drunken, decision to engage in sexual relations. Don’t lose sight of this very real clear an impending danger… A woman is never safe, if she is not aware of her surroundings and the fact that she is perceived as weak and seen as a potential victim by these would be predators…
soy1loba 9:26 AM

“That is why women must treat every single encounter with a male, as a potential rape, and avoid any kind of confinement alone with a male.”  What an absolutely horrible way of going through life.  It does not differentiate between situational awareness — always keeping an eye on your surroundings so you can spot potential problems — with assuming as a matter of course that every single man out there probably wants to rape you.

Here’s another, which I will not directly quote:  It is not uncommon for comments on rape posts to contain words like “It makes me ashamed to be a man.”

I think men get a bum rap on this.  Should I feel guilty for being a woman since Susan Smith and Andrea Yates were women also?  And (this part is not hypothetical) I was a hall counselor for incoming freshmen once upon a time.  I had to tell the young men, “Dude.  Be seriously careful.  If you’re both drinking, and she decides the next morning that she didn’t mean to do it, that can count as rape.  She wasn’t able to give consent, no matter if she ripped off your clothes and jumped your bones.  Be careful.”

*********************************************************************

Allow me to emphasize again the differences between Situations A, B and C.  The men in Situations A and B were clearly told “No” and proceeded regardless.  The man in Situation C was not given any such signal.

********************************************************************

I throw the question out to my readers:

Is it possible to still sympathize and empathize with Charlotte as a rape victim, without excoriating Charlie as a rapist?

*Thank you to Bonnie for the RAINN links, which I got from her post here.  HUGE thanks also because I emailed her this post last night (in case she wanted to read it ahead of time and to make sure she was okay with the linkage) and she wrote a VERY kind response.  Among other bits of wisdom, she said:

I’ve read it, and not only do I not mind, I’m VERY happy that you’ve chosen to address this.

If I spent my life looking at all men as the enemy (which is tempting after a situation like that), I wouldn’t have gotten married, and I would have never gotten started with blogging.  Men are everywhere.  Women’d be crippled if they had that view.

Guy she married is pretty lucky, ain’t he? :)

UPDATE: Thank you so much for all your insightful comments!  In response, I’d like to clarify one aspect of this post.

Situation C was created entirely out of my head.  I can therefore tell you with authority what happened.  (Ah, the godlike power of authoring fiction . . . )

But it’s not always that easy in real life.

Consider this Rashomen effect interpretation:

The facts: Delta and Darlene are at a party together. They have sex that night.

Delta’s point of view: He was drinking with that hot chick Darlene and scored.  Awwwww yeah!

Darlene’s point of view: She recalls having a few drinks at the party and the next thing she remembers, she’s waking up with Delta the next morning.

The situation could therefore be:

1. Delta and Darlene drank too much. Darlene made a bad decision and greatly regrets it.

Reaction: Darlene needs to take responsibility for bad choices made as an adult.  We feel sorry for her and empathize with her, but she made her own decisions; she wasn’t victim to a perpetrator.  (Except for herself.)

But it could also be

2. Darlene got drugged last night. The first drink she took had a mind altering substance. Delta slipped it into her beverage, whisked her upstairs when she got foggy and had sex with her.

Reaction: Delta is a rapist. We feel pain, rage and empathy for Darlene. She should have had a buddy watching her back, but she didn’t commit any other errors and she definitely didn’t deserve to be roofied.

But what if it’s yet another situation?

3. Darlene got slipped a drug by Omega, the douchebag in the corner who intended to take advantage of her later.  She got friendly with Delta instead who, not knowing she was drugged, thought it was consensual sex.

Reaction:  We feel pain, rage and empathy for Darlene. She should have had a buddy watching her back, but she didn’t commit any other errors and she definitely didn’t deserve to be roofied.  But it’s NOT Delta’s fault; everyone was drinking and he wasn’t sober enough to realize that his date was drugged.

And now, what if it deteriorates into complete he-said-she-said?

4. Darlene says that she has no memories of the night before, believes that she was drugged and was therefore coerced into sex.  She was too ashamed to go for the urine test the next day so there isn’t any physical proof. Delta says that Darlene was partying right alongside him and that sex was consensual.

Reaction:  This is the type of situation where I would lean towards giving sympathy to Darlene while not assigning blame to Delta.  Your milage may vary; I don’t think there’s Only One Right Answer here.

Oh, and I am very glad that we all agree — soy1loba has some serious issues.

UPDATED UPDATE: Wow! I’m amazed by the number of people who left thoughtful, intelligent comments below.  As I wrote before, I’m not looking for Only One Right Answer; that being said, my commenters fell heavily on the side of personal responsibility.  In retrospect, that doesn’t surprise me; a lot (most?) of my readers are gunnies, and gunnies are HUGE believers in personal responsibility.  You break it you bought it; it’s up to you to insure your own safety; etc. etc.

Number One Lesson to take away from this: Sex + alcohol can = massive trouble.

So behave yourself, kiddos, and always have a friend watch your back!

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Food is not a human right.

Posted by Lissa on September 1, 2010

That’s right, I said it. I’ve gone halfway before – remember this post? – but I’m feeling wild-and-crazy today.  Full damnation, full speed ahead!

Walls of the City linked Joe Huffman’s ruminations on the UN Bill of Human Rights, the first of which is:

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Joe goes on to discuss Communism and redistribution, but my reaction is far simpler (of course):

No.  No no no. Food is not a human right.

After long (muddled? unfruitful?) rumination, I’ve decided to differentiate between human rights and moral imperatives.  (Other folks will describe them as “freedom to” and “freedom from.”)

The right to defend yourself, the right to speak your mind, the right to worship any god you damn well please – I consider these human rights.  You can do these while sitting alone in the woods — all it requires is that the government leave you in peace.

The obligation to feed the hungry, to support the poor, elderly and infirm – I consider these moral imperatives.  You can call them the duties of citizenship or the social contract, if you like.  They are covenenats imposed on us, by us, a decent people, and are integral to being a decent society.

That obligation on the provider does not translate equally to rights for the recipient. 

I think it is morally and ethically desirable to help alleviate hunger.  As I posted a while back:

As you can probably tell, I am still susceptible to accusations of heartlessness and feelings of guilt.  There’s a panhandler outside of South Station who holds out his Dunkin Donuts cup every day.  I felt less guilty about never giving him money once I discovered that he’s been doing that for at least SEVEN YEARS.  He has no physical deformity and he wears warm and sturdy clothing.  Intellectually, I know there is no reason for me to feel guilt or shame for refusing him charity.But emotionally, I still found it difficult.  I studiously avoided his eyes every time I walked past.

The solution?  I’m now donating every month to the Boston Food Bank.  At a rough glance, they seem to have an acceptable level of efficiency — my crude calculations guestimated about 87% of their budget went to food distribution/storage — and it’s a worthy cause.  I don’t want people to go hungry, so I chose to help feed them.  (CHOSE.  Choice.  It’s a good thing.)  If the guy at South Station is hungry, he can go over and get something to eat.  I walk by him now and my conscience makes nary a peep.

But a societal obligation on my part (“We should provide food for hungry people”) does not translate into a right for the South Station guy.

If food were a human right, then the panhandler could sit on his butt outside South Station and demand not only that I provide him bread, but that I walk over and place it gently in his mouth, physically move his jaw up and down and then rub his throat to make him swallow. 

If he has a right to it, then why should he have to do such onerous work as standing all day while cadging handouts? Why should he have to walk to the Food Bank?

If he has a right to it, then the makers of that bread  (including the truck that delivered the bread to Boston, the company that manufactured the plastic wrap, Wonder Bread Inc., the manufacturers of kneading machines, the inventor of the kneading machine and the slicing machine and the conveyor belt, the growers of wheat and sugar and yeast, the chemists who perfected preservatives; hell, the inventor of the internal combustion engine and the workers at the petroleum refinery) then they must do their jobs no matter their preference or wish for compensation.  Because he has a right to it.

I say no.

Your thoughts?

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Today’s Must-Read

Posted by Lissa on July 27, 2010

Oh. My. God.

Mike and I are going about the business of building a life — figuring out if we’re going to move, doing our homework on buying our first house, joking about housebreaking dogs versus housebreaking children.

But we know that the fates don’t always give you what you want. Or what you expect.

I started this post being a little irked about the writer’s slightly caustic take on how, “Duh,” children don’t make you happier in life.  She wrote, “If there’s an occupation more likely to make you feel incompetent and unrewarded than being a parent, I have never heard of it.”

That was apparently to lull me into a sense of complacency, so that the author could quietly approach and knock my bloody socks off.

Because she continues:

If you weren’t an academic, you might define happiness as the experience of being fully alive. To know grace, and despair, and the kind of hardness you have to learn to stand against; to watch your family fail you when you need them the most, and have your ex-husband look around, shrug his shoulders, and hold out his hand to help you up again.

Right.  Your ex-husband, so that you can learn a bit of gratitude, just enough to appreciate him, which you didn’t manage the first time around.

These are things you’d never know if you hadn’t had your daughter.  Things you wouldn’t have had to know, and learn the hard way, bitterly.

If the medical resident hadn’t sat down while you held your baby girl in the neonatal intensive care unit and said, “Your daughter’s brain is massively deformed.”

The daughter you loved even before she was born.  When she was an abstraction, a positive sign on a pregnancy test, before she kicked you in the ribs, long before she ever drew her first breath. Love you did not know you were capable of feeling, primal and angry and powerful, you would kill ten men and Satan if you had to.

But the universe doesn’t ask that from you.

And the further I read, the more my eyes teared up and my throat got tight:

The sky has fallen down many times in your daughter’s short life, the sky with all the stars in it, and you have picked up the pieces more times than you can remember, and you have climbed the ladder and put them back in place, where you think they should go, and you get things in backwards and out of sequence, but you do the best you can, and you climb down off the ladder, and you’re at peace with your work.  You wish it could be better, but there’s only one of you, and the sky is so vast, it takes a while to put it back together again, and you did the best you could.

And you just went through all that work, and here is the goddamned sky scattered all over the carpet again.

Go.  Read.  Thank the gods and goddesses for the grace in your life, and pray that you are strong enough, or will grow strong enough, to bear the adversity in your life.

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Stereotypes and elitism

Posted by Lissa on July 16, 2010

These two posts by Borepatch and Jay G got me thinkin’ . . . (A dangerous pastime, I know . . .)  Only I’m going to approach it from the opposite end that Jay did. I could be wrong, but here’s what I think:

To most casual observers I come off as one of those “smart people”, one of those “elites.”  After all:

  • I went to a small, elite liberal arts college that often ranks in the top ten liberal arts colleges in America
  • I graduated said college cum laude, that is, with a 3.5
  • I attained said grade point average while doing very little homework (please note — I’m not proud of this.  It’s just a fact)
  • I’ve spent three weeks in London
  • I’ve sung in at least ten different languages
  • I’ve sung such fabulous works as Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Faure’s Requiem, Brahams’ Ein deutsches Requiem, and the full Messiah (and poor Mike had to listen to the whole Messiah – he really, really loves me)
  • My reading tastes are notoriously eclectic. Books that I’ve read at least ten times include everything from Stranger in a Strange Land to The Hunt for Red October to Atlas Shrugged to Jane Eyre.
  • I can make conversation with anyone.  ANYONE
  • I can speak in a British accent.  (Or cockney.  I can sort of do Irish or Scottish, but not well.)
  • I’m verbally “quick on my feet” (yes, that mixed metaphor was on purpose. Because it amused me)
  • I use words like “engender”, “unsolicited”, “therein” and “verisimilitude” on a regular basis.  I used the latter three in the last post

And yet . . . and yet . . . the older I get, the less smart I think I am.  A few of the reasons I don’t fit/deserve the stereotype of “smart person”:

  • I am profoundly historically ignorant.  I kind of know who Galileo and Copernicus were; I haven’t the foggiest idea when they lived.  500 AD?  1500 AD?  Something like that?  Anything prior to the 20th century is up-for-grabs in my brain.
  • I am profoundly Biblically ignorant.  No, I don’t think we all need to read, let alone believe, the Bible.  It’s just embarrassing that I don’t know any of the saints except Peter.  In fact, any knowledge of the Bible I have comes from playing a Soul Girl in Jesus Christ Superstar (back in college).
  • That thing about the British accent?  Well, I didn’t mention my moronic habit of adopting whatever accent I’m hearing.  It can be a Southern drawl, a Canadian quip, a prairie twang — if I’m hearing it, I’m speaking it.  That’s really fun when there’s a gathering of Ye Olde Liberal Arts College alums in London — ever heard a woman use “big ol’ ” and “y’all” in a British accent?  Yeah, didn’t think so.
  • I never learned proper grammar. I couldn’t diagram a sentence if my life depended on it.  I’m only familiar with present participle and pluperfect because of my years in Spanish class.
  • I cannot for the life of me remember names or faces.  Unless I’ve spoken with you five times or more, please assume that I don’t remember your name.
  • I’ve never read War and Peace. Or A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Or The Moonstone, The Grapes of Wrath, The Jungle, Great Expectations, Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice, Freakonomics, The Wealth of Nations, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and a whole host of others.
  • I’ve never changed a tire in my life.
  • I can’t sew, knit or crochet worth a damn.
  • I mostly cook from recipes.
  • I never understood calculus.  I got an A in the class by memorizing the types of problems and the subsequent steps to solve them.  It never made a lick of sense to me.
  • Ditto for chemistry.
  • And — oh yeah! I own and shoot guns.

Folks who’ve met me, please feel free to pop up and disagree — but I do think I’m a quick, and witty, conversationalist.  I’m usually the one to fill awkward silences and invite quiet group members to speak.  A lot of folks assume that, therefore, I’m a very intelligent person.

Verbal acuity and actual knowledge/intelligence are NOT the same thing.

Since we’re being all literary and usin’ them thar five-dollar SAT words, I’ll cap this post off with a Jabberwocky meme from Evyl Robot, Jennifer, Sarah and Christina.  Here’s my contribution:

And as in uffish thought she stood,
The Goblin-wock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the front-door wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! NOT through-and-through
My lil’ Siguette went snicker-snack!
The four nine-mil’s quite turned its head
And put him on his back.

Callooh callay, y’all. :)

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Everybody Draw Mohammed Day

Posted by Lissa on May 20, 2010

This blog is usually full of happy, cheery things like kittens, workout songs, and sneering at politicians (which is both easy AND fun!).  Today, however, we take a break from our usual fluffy cheer to make a stand (well, I’m sitting) for free speech.

The original “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” was the facetious idea of Molly Norris.  Ms. Norris has since apologized, explained she didn’t intend to cause offense, suggested that everybody draw Al Gore instead, and issued the public statement: “Please, please don’t hurt me. Pretty please.”

I may have added that last part.

I understand why Ms. Norris backed down.  I wouldn’t want my name all over this thing either.

And I understand people who are arguing against Everybody Draw Mohammed Day (EDMD) because they don’t want to deliberately insult or offend devout Muslims.  Sure, it doesn’t seem that depictions of Mohammed are prohibited by the Koran . . .

The Qur’an contains absolutely nothing about depicting Mohammed. It is only the Hadith, most of which came several hundred years after Mohammed’s death, that discuss this—one of them bans all depictions of living creatures outright, and another merely says that such illustrations are not to be encouraged, but does not decree that those found guilty are to be punished. The major reason it is widely considered wrong to depict Mohammed, especially among the Sunni majority of Muslims, is that it might encourage idolatry. This might be fair enough within the Islamic world, but is clearly absurd to apply outside of it. After all, non-believers cannot make themselves any more guilty of non-belief or idolatry by drawing pictures. But if the justification behind fatwas against depicters of Mohammed is based in the Hadith, then clerics would have to issue fatwas against all those who draw pictures of living creatures—a crime which virtually every person on earth is guilty of. [that link has a few really lovely historical depictions of Mohammed — Lissa]

. . . but whether or not the prohibition is firmly grounded in their guiding book, the fact is that millions DO consider it blasphemous.

And so, I apologize.

I apologize to those who find depictions of Mohammed offensive, because I’m going to post one below.  I’m sorry that I have to commit what you consider blasphemy to make my point.

While I’m at it, I also apologize to people who believe that you should write “god” as “G-d.”  I don’t feel the need to and have never done so.

Further, I apologize to liberals, Democrats, Republicans, people of bad fashion taste, idiots who can’t use their computers, and every other kind of person that I’ve insulted or castigated on this blog.  I know it’s not blasphemy, but as long as I’m apologizing I might as well issue a blanket apology.

All done?  Great.  Now, then, let’s get to my point.

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day, for me, is not about provoking those Muslims who find depictions of Mohammed to be offensive.  I wish I could make my point without that.  But EDMD is a practical matter as well as a statement.  The idea is to have so many depictions of Mohammed come forth that angry vengeful offended folks can’t focus on just one person.  Or one comedy network.  Or twelve cartoonists. (Especially when the most offensive images from those cartoonists . . . were added by Danish imams to stir up offense and outrage.  They blasphemed their own religious traditions and blamed it on others.) Or one museum (did you know the Museum of Metropolitan Art quietly pulled its Mohammed images and may not include them in the re-opened exhibit in 2011?).

I can’t draw worth a damn, so I’m borrowing work from an actual artist.  Below the fold is my depiction of Mohammed:

Read the rest of this entry »

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I know I’m not that important

Posted by Lissa on April 8, 2010

Truly, I do.

I once heard another blogger gently criticized for thinking that the world revolved around her.  You could easily make the same criticism about my site.  It revolves around my thoughts, my feelings, my cat and what I frickin’ ate for dinner.

I write that way because I try to keep my site a cheery little place.  (With occasional descents into self-pity; I don’t deny that.)  I want my readers to stop by for a little gentle conversation, a few recipe tips, and perhaps a few target photos.

That doesn’t mean I’m unaware of the fact that important things are happening out there.  It doesn’t mean I’m unaware that true evil exists in this world.

I don’t concentrate on it.  My site is more Laura Ingalls Wilder than Elie Wiesel; that style is more suited to my personality and my life experiences.

But that doesn’t mean I think the world revolves around me.  I know it doesn’t.

What brought this on?  I clicked through to an article with a truly graphic photograph of a victim of evil.  I don’t think I have a weak stomach but I literally fought to keep from throwing up.  And so I thought I’d state it for the record: Just because I write about my little bubble of a life doesn’t mean I’m unaware of the greater forces out there.  Good and evil both.

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