While My Pretty One Sleeps

My son and I are talking about social issues more and more. Part of me wants to shield him from the world, and keep him from worrying, but I also know that we have responsibilities, and he shouldn’t have to learn about them all on his own. It’s difficult, I’m in uncharted waters for most of it, and there’s always this voice in my mind saying I’m forcing him to be what I want, not what he wants. (I could write a great deal on whose voice that is, but I’ll save that for another day.)

I know who my son is. At the age of 5 he told me he wanted to grow up and find a way to stop the pollution from hurting the planet. When he was 9 he told me he wanted to work in the jungle, to try to keep it from dying. At 12 he told me if he had a time machine, the first thing he’d use it for is going back to the 1600’s and stopping slavery. Last week, he asked when the next Black Lives Matter rally is, because he wants to march. All of these were completely his own idea, brought about because under that shoulder-shrugging, Call of Duty playing, sulky teen exterior, is a sweet boy who cares. Who loves. Who is scared and angry with the way the world is turning out.

So we talk.

However, my son is also growing. Up until about 5 months ago, he was pretty small for his age. He’s since grown about 6 inches, and doesn’t seem to be stopping. This requires a lot of naps, and they tend to happen as soon as he is calm and relaxed. So…. when we start talking. Part of me wants to wake him up, because hey, bedtime schedules, and also I was in the middle of saying something. But that part of me that wishes I could still pick him up and carry him around, that plays with his hair whenever he lets me, that part lets him sleep.

While he does, I read about the other babies. The boys who don’t have it as easy as my white, blue-eyed kiddo. I read about the sons that didn’t get to grow up and change the world, because someone else decided to end their stories early. The mamas who don’t just worry about too much screen time and fast food, they worry about their kids walking in parks and going to the convenience store. The fathers who are torn from their children for having busted tail lights, then blamed posthumously as if a minor crime committed years before justifies them no longer existing. The aunties that are fine one moment, dead the next, and nobody looks into it. The kids who just want to walk down the street wearing a hoodie. The stories go on and on. There are no shortage of them, and they rip me open, every time. Because we did this. We brought the world to this, and then we turned away and ignored it. Pretended it wasn’t happening, told the victims they brought it on themselves.

Sometimes, I let him sleep, just a little longer. I play with his blonde hair that doesn’t get a second glance by a police officer, and I pretend for a moment that if he’s asleep, he’s safe.

But he’s already safe. I know this. We can’t ignore it. We can’t sleep through it.

Time to get woke.

 

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Maximum effort.

So. Here we are. Mid-holiday, post-electionaclypse, pre-Actual Doomsday.

Immediately after Von Douchelord’s acceptance speech, I knew my days of sitting on the sidelines were over. But, it’s also not as if I know what in the great green fuck I’m doing, so mostly, I was just hopping around, mad and lost. I don’t think I was alone.

First, I got all worked up, and was ready to spring into action. Then, I got sort of caught up in a debate about white privilege, and I lost my courage. What if I did it wrong? What if I made it worse? What if I further offended the very people I’m trying to protect? What did it even mean to protect them? Was I sure I really could, or was I just caught up in the moment?

It’s a learning experience, for a lot of people. But, at the same time, though circumstances may be different now, this doesn’t take away from the fact that this is NOT new for so many people. That discrimination and a system stacked against them is daily life for a lot of people. They have been fighting for quite some time, and this is just another day in the battle. That needs recognized, and respected.

So, up I hopped again. But good god, what do I do?? There’s so many directions to be pulled in. There’s so many things that need fixed. So many people that are hurting. So. Much. Gaaaah.

I can’t fix the world. But I can help it. In order to not be overwhelmed and shut down completely, I need to narrow my focus, and figure out where my strengths are. Easy. Love. Love is always my goal. And what, besides that, have I got to give this world? Sass and profanities.

Since the election, there seems to be a new trend of randomly yelling that one is a Trump supporter in public places. It’s usually accompanied by more offensive language, and rude behavior. Why this is a thing baffles me. One, it’s usually pretty irrelevant, and two… dude, that’s not really something to brag about. It’s like saying, “I flipped the switch on the gas chamber in Auschwitz!” No really. A lot like that. But… reasoning with people who respond to an inquiry about purchasing a shopping bag, taking a seat on a plane, or standing in a quiet line at a grocery store with, “I VOTED FOR TRUMP, BITCH! WHAT YOU GONNA DO?” is… tricky. Yet, our longstanding shy-liberal method of ignoring people ’til they wear themselves out isn’t working either. I mean, that’s the shit that got us here, in part. So what to do?

I don’t have the universal answer. This is just mine.It’s not even my whole plan, just a small part. But ultimately, I will not hide, I will not look down in shame, and I will not be quiet.

I’m going to do nice things. Help people carry groceries, open doors, pay for a stranger’s coffee. Show love. Especially to those who make it clear they don’t share my views. And then, I’m going to look them right in the eye, and shout, “I VOTED FOR HILLARY, MOTHERFUCKER. I FUCKING LOVE YOU. YOU’RE A GODDAMNED WONDERFUL HUMAN. I HOPE YOUR DAY IS MAGFUCKINGNIFICENT.”

And I’m going to mean it.

As hard as you try, no I will never be knocked down.

The danger is real. People will say that there’s nothing to be afraid of, that the president doesn’t have that much power, that Trump isn’t really that bad. Those are all lies. Maybe we tell them to ourselves to calm our nerves. Maybe to justify an outcome we played a part in putting into motion. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t make them more true.

He has told us time and time again exactly who he is. It would be foolish not to believe him and prepare. He IS that bad. He’s an admitted sexual predator. He’s a racist, misogynistic,  entitled, xenophobic, homophobic zealot. He openly and enthusiastically incites violence towards those who don’t agree with him. He, and the other Republicans, now have the presidency, House and Senate. That does give them quite a bit of power. Maybe they won’t be unopposed, but it will be a lot easier for them to enact their self-serving plans than it was for say… someone to create a healthcare system. Also, if people don’t really believe he’s going to do what he says, why vote for him? Isn’t the the point, that we vote for a candidate that we believe in?

But we already know all of this. Even if we choose to disregard it, because a big ol’ pervy scumbag makes us a lot more comfortable then one of them uppity womenfolk with their big idears, tryin’ to tell men how to live their lives. The proof is still there.

That kind of person, backed by supporters with that kind of thinking is scary. We’ve already seen it happening, it’s not our imagination, shit has already hit the fan.

But. We’re going to make it.

It will take effort, and we’ll definitely have to get further out of our comfort zones (I’m assuming nobody is still in theirs. If so, you might need to reevaluate.). It’ll take a strength that a lot of us haven’t known before. But it’s there.

Know how I know?

Because this is just another douchebag. Just another controlling dickbag telling us how to think, how to act, who our friends can be, what to wear…

It’s just another insecure, narcissistic assclown. And we have no tolerance for that shit. It’s all been tried before. And it’s never worked. We’re still here, and we’re not going anywhere.

That so many people I know have suffered abuse is not cute or fun. But, if you have, and you’re reading this, you made it. That’s what I’m talking about. We have the skills, we can do it again, and every time we get better and stronger. This time, we’re all doing it at once. We’re standing together to show our abusive future leader that we will not tolerate this. We’re checking in on each other, we’re helping each other back up when it gets to be too much, and we’re becoming safe allies to those who deal with the abuse from his supporters in their daily lives.

We combat this with love. Respect. Patience. Listening. As Douchelord VonCheeto* tries his best to tear this country apart, we prepare to put the pieces back together. We remember that we’re ALL in this together, and the greatest motivator on both sides is fear. While we do not stand for the abuse, we recognize that everyone is hurting, and do what we can to connect with those we don’t agree with. To keep them safe too. It’s the only way.

So throw on some Adele, put on your sassiest t-shirt, maybe wing that eyeliner extra wide, and let’s break up with this loser.

 

 

*The fact that I called him a name mere moments after saying we combat this with respect is not lost on me. I will do my best to respect the citizens of this country. My country. But he gets none. Also, yesterday I called him Satan’s Bleached Asshole, if that one is more to your liking.

You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one.

Sometime before the primaries, I was hanging out with some family. I let my feelings about the over-the-top conservatives be known, and someone sassily responded with “I bet you’re voting for Hillary.” I responded with disgust. “Fuck no. I’m voting for Bernie.”

I did. And that didn’t really pan out. So I dragged my feet over to Hillary’s camp. Because Trump was never a choice. So much that I wouldn’t mess around with a third party candidate, worried that it would be a vote taken away from the only person who actually stands a chance of stopping him. Not just that, though. I didn’t like them. Grudgingly, I admitted that Hillary was in fact qualified. She wasn’t just “not Trump”, she deserved the job.

As I sit here watching the election updates, I am more than a little scared of how close this election has become. But, I’m also proud. I’m proud to be a woman, I’m proud to be able to have my voice be heard, and I’m proud to stand behind this candidate and declare my support.

I really didn’t have great reasons to dislike her. I mean, she is a little more centerist than I like my liberals, but it wasn’t that. She just… bothered me. I’m pretty sure my reasons were pretty close to the ones most people don’t like her, if they’re being honest. They can quote all the paranoid conspiracies they’d like, but she is just easy to dislike. She’s cranky. She’s not overly attractive. Her voice is harsh. She’s hardly ever funny on purpose. And, oh yeah. She’s a she. That last one wasn’t so much a deterrent for me personally, but it’s a huge one for a lot of people. Again, they sometimes hide it behind other doors, but it doesn’t change what it really is.

All of those reasons are bullshit.

She’s what we need. She has spent decades trying to bust through that glass ceiling. It’s not easy. There are so many things that we are just expected to do. It goes beyond staying in the kitchen. Women are expected to stay home, to defer to men, to speak softly, to care more about their appearance than much of anything else, to be weaker, and to always let the man take the lead.

Fuck all that. No… let’s just take a moment here. Reread that small portion of the ridiculous list of things women are expected to do. FUCK. THAT.

SO.

MUCH.

When I think about what she’s had to endure to get here, I’m totally in awe. She keeps going. She’s got the thickest skin I’ve ever seen. She doesn’t dumb herself down to make the menfolk more comfortable. She doesn’t speak in soft tones to make you feel soothed. She means fucking business.

That is who we need.

Need.

No matter what happens, I’m proud of her. And I know that whatever happens, ultimately, we’ll make it. Us women have been fighting our entire lives. We aren’t stopping now.

 

 

My my my my my sensi-shoes.

Yesterday I talked about being brave, and how it took me quite a while to realize it’s actually part of who I am. In contrast, I have always known I was sensitive. Despite my love of colorful language and screaming along with power ballads, I’m just a little baby duckling in women’s clothing (alright, angsty teenage nerd clothing. Whatever.). I was in high school before I mastered being able to read aloud without crying. The word “retard” causes me physical pain. (I WANT TO DELETE THAT SENTENCE SO BAD.) I lose my shizz over The Notebook every single time I watch it.

Even if I hadn’t caught on myself, I’ve been told numerous times. I’m pretty sure it’s come up at least once with everyone I’ve dated. Sometimes it’s in an, “awww, the poor wittle duckwing” kind of way. But usually, it’s accompanied by a speech on how this makes me a useless human.

That’s the thing about being strong AND sensitive, though. I know when to do which, how to be comfortable in my own skin, and when to just tell people to go fuck themselves. My sensitivity is one of my greatest strengths. It allows me to connect to people. Feeling someone’s pain is a great motivator. It keeps me fighting when I want to give up. Because whatever is hurting me, is hurting someone else, too. Though I try not to cross over into full blown martyrdom, I’ll do whatever I can not to see someone hurt.

It also helps me find something to relate to, even with people I disagree with. Remember that they’re human, too. While I do have my limits and will indeed tell someone to kiss my shiny metal ass, it’s not right off the bat (usually. These fucking Trump supporters are testing me, though.). For the most part, I can have reasonable, respectful conversations with people on opposite sides of the topic.

However, there was a brief time that I wasn’t this way. My “freeze” instinct had fully taken over, and for months, nothing bothered me. Nothing made me happy, either. I was completely numb. Not like “Oh, I’m just a little off today”. More like, “I’m not completely convinced I’m actually a real person anymore, and should probably be put on a watch list.” I cannot describe to you how incredibly terrifying that was. Partly because I’ve blocked a lot of it out. But I can tell you for 100% certainty that given the choice, (which I was! So… really. 100%) I will take being a sensi-shoe wearing crybaby any day of the week.

There’s a lot of talk of the world becoming too sensitive nowadays. We’re not. We’re becoming more human. More empathetic. More compassionate. Microaggressions are a thing. Casual racism is a thing. Rape culture, victim blaming, white privilege, rampant misogyny… all things. They all need paid attention to, and stopped. Because we’re all people deserving of respect. Even if you don’t get offended by the same things, it’s not unreasonable to ask that you understand that someone else does. Then, take it a step further and stop whatever it is. Prevent it from happening again. Stand up against it. Care for one another. We’re all in this together, end of story.

If you need any pointers, I’m happy to help. Or to watch The Notebook with you. I can’t help it (nor would I want to), I just fucking love that shit.

 

For the future.

I am one of Those people. The kind who start long Facebook posts with “I usually stay out of politics, but…” And that’s exactly what I’m doing now. Just to be clear.

I have worn out my welcome to use that phrase in the last few months, but prior to this year, I really couldn’t have given two craps about most political events. I voted. I knew what I liked, what I wouldn’t stand for, but I didn’t have any real passion for it. I didn’t do much research, I didn’t get worked up about things, I just submitted my ballot every so often with a shrug and probably a write-in for Donald Duck somewhere.

Those days are far behind me. I didn’t want to be this person, but then… the debate over the Confederate flag happened. There was a part of me that was shocked at first that this was even a debate at all, but especially here in Oregon. We weren’t really a part of it. (We sent one troop. And we were part of the Union.) Regardless, jacknobs tore down the streets in their giant trucks with the good ‘ol stars and bars waving from the beds, yelling about heritage and history. It unfroze me from my shock. This is who we’re saying we are? That this completely bullshit symbol (THAT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD ISN’T EVEN PART OF OUR FUCKING “HERITAGE”. We’re across the goddamned country. WE NEVER TRIED TO CEDE FROM THE FUCKING UNION.) was more important than people? Not just a couple, but an entire race? That we were willing to completely disregard their feelings, at the very least, for a fucking flag? What?

I was not willing to be represented this way. I wasn’t going to let my silence lump me in with this crowd. I was going to make it clear that this is not who I am. So I did. And nobody listened. Or they told me I didn’t know what I was talking about. (Bitch please. I’m a female in the automotive industry. Next time try bringing a new dish to the table.) But that didn’t really matter to me. I kept saying it. Still do. And I’m not done there.

My son and I were chit-chatting on the way home from football practice tonight. We got on the subject of the presidential election, as we often do. Today was the first time I’ve really shared my opinion with him, though. I wanted him to form his own, based on his own research, beliefs, and feelings. He is very anti-Trump. This isn’t at all shocking to me, because I know him, and how he processes things. He is baffled, however, that there are people who aren’t.

When we discuss these things, I try to present both sides to him. I attempt to be as fair as possible, because that’s how I want him to be. But above all, I  have to instill good values in my son. That we don’t generalize, follow stereotypes, use racist language, demean people, laugh at their pain, or try to use it to our advantage. That’s all Trump is. Entirely. And let me make it clear right now that the above values are just that, they have nothing at all to do with “political correctness”. We don’t use stereotypes because we treat people like people, not because it’s frowned upon. We don’t make racist comments because we aknowledge that it is hurtful and thoughtless, not because it’s unpopular or taboo. I’m not afraid of hurting people. I am mindful of it.

Which means I no longer compare Trump’s behavior to that of a middle-schooler’s. Because mine is so much more mature than that, and I would never tear him down that way.

I’d say to go ahead and try to justify being a Trump supporter to me, but frankly, I don’t want to fucking hear it. But maybe you should think about how you would justify it to a child. Tell them when it’s ok to call a Venezuelan woman “Miss Housekeeping”. List out for them all the ways rich people can benefit from working people (which you more than likely are. Odds, not generalization.) being laid off, your jobs being outsourced, your homes being forclosed on. Explain that that’s alright, because personal gain is the ultimate goal, no matter the cost to others. Look your daughter/neice/granddaughter/baby cousin in the eye and tell her why her looks are the total sum of all she will ever be, and if she doesn’t take care of them, she deserves to be shamed. Teach them that when you don’t get your way, you blame others, you call names, and you change the subject. Perhaps (and hopefully) you’ve spent time teaching them the exact opposite,  but if you really back up what Trump stands for, you’re going to have to rethink some things, right?

And no. I didn’t try to win any points by playing the kid card. They’ve been in this game the whole time.

Week One of Red-Lipped Activism

I wasn’t always this person. In fact, last year I wasn’t even this person. Speaking up, especially on topics that run the risk of making anyone anywhere the slightest bit uncomfortable, is not my thing. Or wasn’t, anyway. It seems it just might be, now.

I can’t say exactly what the straw was that broke this little camel’s back was, but I know there were quite a few of them piled on there. Until one day, I said, “Fuck this shit.” and did something about it. It wasn’t instant leadership skills and activism know-how from there, I still feel like I do very little. But it’s better than nothing. It’s not just scared silence, as I had been previously excelling at. (Just on touchy subjects, that is. Still thought-sluttin’ it up about everyday bullshit on the regular.)

That unwillingness to remain silent and bear my shame, paired with a hatred for controlling, manipulative, narcissistic douchebaggery is how I came to find myself toting around no less than 4 tubes of lipstick for the past week. I have remembered to wear it every day, and try to make sure it’s fresh and fiery before going out into public. I mean, I wear it around the house too, but as far as that whole conversation starter aspect goes, it’s far less successful there.

My son and I did discuss why I was wearing it the first day, however. He was telling me how they were watching a video in class about a guy who had been bullied and tormented in school because he was gay. The principal had told him he should’ve expected it, because he acted so flamboyantly. My tiny little optimist was shocked that this would be something one human says to another. I told him this also happens to sexual assault victims frequently. They are blamed for bringing it on themselves because of what they were wearing, where they were, or how many drinks they’d had. After a bit of stunned silence, he said, “Mom. If I ever hear anyone say something that stupid to someone that’s been hurt, I will punch them right in the face.” I told him we don’t use violence if at all possible, but inside, deep in my little Mom heart that’s only concern is the well-being of my precious little homespun star, I danced around like nobody’s business. Then I told him I’d break my own rule if he ever violated anyone’s personal boundaries in such a way. Dude, I’m doing the best I can, consistency isn’t something I’ve started advocating for yet. Gimme a minute.

I’ve had a few more opportunities to say my piece. It gets a little easier every time, but it’s still difficult. I still hate making people uncomfortable.

Just judging from the looks I’ve received alone (it’s noticeable when most anyone wears bright red lipstick. I have rather full lips, so it’s even harder to miss.) it seems to make women far more uneasy than men. They don’t often comment, but they do glare, shake their heads, cringe, look me up and down with raised eyebrows, and make little “tsk” noises if my son is with me. I try to smile back. A genuine, real smile. Because I get it. There was a time, when I was lugging around my straws in silence, that I did the same. “What is she trying to prove?” I’d think. “Poor little slut, just needs attention from wherever she can get it.” Why? Because I was angry. The few times I’d tried to find my voice and speak up about the terrible things that had happened, nobody had listened. The adults, the people I trusted most, had ignored me, or turned it back on me. And I believed them.

I’m the adult now, and I’ve learned a thing or two getting here. I won’t be ignored. I’ll be here, red lips blazing, eyes straight ahead, fighting for all of us to have our voices heard. Because seriously. Fuck this shit.