No Exceptions

8 11 2016

That statement can be taken two very different ways and I think it’s necessary to point out both, on today of all days.

DEFINITION 1: the complete exclusion of something. “No shirt, no shoes, no exceptions.” Meaning that you MUST follow OUR rules or be kicked out. Historically this version has also been implied and/or used to separate drinking fountains by race, ban Jews from entering certain shops, etc.

DEFINITION 2: The complete inclusion of something. As in, Gods bless everyone. No exceptions.

As someone who really does have friends that span nearly every rendition of human descriptors, I choose the 2nd definition.  And I think that’s really important.

Especially on Election Day here in the US.  And while I’m a cynical observer of human behavior (as in, it doesn’t surprise me at all the the actual scary things in the zombie show “The Walking Dead” are not the zombies but the living, breathing human beings who are left), I always hope in my heart of hearts that most people live by definition #2.

So for me, my personal ethos dictates that I think over my wide group of friends, and think how they would like to be treated before I cast a vote.  Love. We. Tribe. Gods Bless Everyone.  NO EXCEPTIONS.

And I feel that there while there isn’t a definitive choice FOR that, there is definitely a candidate who is AGAINST particular groups of people.

My gut says that when you’ve alienated or insulted or tried to shame group after group, and minority after minority, there comes a tipping point when there are enough minorities to make a majority.

Wall of Voters

That’s my election prediction.  And tomorrow? I’ll either have egg on my face from a miscalculation that I was either brave enough or stupid enough to throw out into the internet ether, or my hunch will be proven correct. Neither matters, because my vote is already cast, and whether your vote is cast yet or not, I am unlikely to change anyone’s actual vote at this point.  However, how someone treats another person in the aftermath may still be… undecided.  And if my words factor helpfully into whatever weird aftermath we as a nation are headed towards regardless of who wins (because make no mistake, I think there will be an aftermath), then my time was well spent.

Love matters.  So please, no matter what the outcome, PLEASE use love, acceptance, and kindness in your treatment of ALL of the human beings.

NO Exceptions.





Capturing a Tribe

19 07 2016

This whole thing started several weeks back when I was having an Interesting Conversation with someone I share very few commonalities with.  We typically eventually agree to disagree on many a subject, but the moral of the story is that weirdly, we are on some level friends.  It probably has a lot to do with the fact that we try very hard not to be a dick to each other when our beliefs vary. We also use each other as a sounding board of sorts because we force each other to find actual validating thoughts and theories behind what we feel strongly about.  In other words, it’s an accountability check of sorts that ensures I’m not just buying something hook, line and sinker.

I realized what a rare gift that is – being friends with someone you really disagree with, when, a few weeks later, Supreme Court Justice Scalia died. I read Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s writings about their strange friendship, and had that same feeling of “YES!!! She knows what I’m talking about.”   I think people need a counterpart like that to facilitate not only deep thoughts about the particular moralities or ethics you espouse, but also because it leads to deep thinking about your entire frame of reference, and what you are putting out there into the world.

If that weren’t enough, a few days after that, one of my favorite memes popped up.  I like it enough that it’s currently my Facebook profile photo.

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Not only is it true, but I’m finding that in the weird and shaky times that seem to be at an constant and audible societal rumble, it’s an asset.  And I was trying to think of a way to encourage other people to branch out and talk to interesting people in a “don’t-be-a-dick-and-don’t-get-preachy” kind of way to someone that is drastically different than the particular garden store variety level of BFF you happen to cultivate naturally.

And then Pokemon Go (PoGo) came along. It really is now officially a THING. (Like, if you haven’t heard of it, you probably live on a commune with no internet or have been walking the Appalachian Trail for 4 weeks…) If you’re one of the majority who HAS heard of it? Don’t click the “back” button if you’re rolling your eyes.  Keep reading.  It will be okay, I promise.  I don’t actually play the game yet, but I’m using it to make an analogy, so any error about actual game play versus my perception of how it’s played is totally my fault.

What if we all had an app (let’s call it Human Go for the sake of expediency) that was like Pokemon Go but for actual human interaction? (I mean, I’m kidding… sort of.  I don’t really want someone having that much data more data on people than is already happening), but what if instead of capturing a rare creature, what if you got to enter basic data points that “captured” rare humans?

Here’s the qualifier for capture for “Human Go”.  You have to have actually had a 15 minute conversation (face-to-face!) with someone for it to “count”.  Categories include all the pigeonhole-y, stereotypical human labels we humans are currently fired up about.

Using myself as an example, I’ve had a 15 minute face to face conversation with:

An African American

A Caucasian

An Asian

A Muslim

A Buddhist

An atheist (It’s not capitalized because it’s a belief in an absence rather than a proper noun, in case you grammar folks were wondering…)

A Lutheran

A Evangelical Christian

A Catholic

A nun

Several Jehovah’s witnesses

An Amish lady

An amputee

Her partner, a lesbian

A transgender person

A gay dude and his partner with the most amaaaaaaaaazing love of my work. (They were picking out a shiny thing with gifted money from their recent nuptials. What an awesome conversation that was with them!)

A servicewoman who has done multiple active tours

A BDSM instructor

A professional Dominatrix

A furry (One of the people who dresses up and does fur conventions, I’m not speaking metaphorically of say, my dog. Whom I talk to an awful lot for the record, but he’s not much of an active conversationalist.)

A Libertarian

A Republican

A Democrat

A Socialist

A Yugoslavian refugee

A Serbian refugee

A 6’5″ person

A Deaf person

My list could go on endlessly, but I hope my point is made when I say that my world has been broadened exponentially, 15 minutes at a time, one person at a time. I despise the “us” versus “them” phenomenon that seems to be gaining ground.  I feel like it only breeds fear when people quantify the entirety of their social interactions or tribes by a single unifying factor (at the expense and exclusion of others).

If Pokemon Go can get people off their asses and launch them forth, meeting new people that are completely outside of their “normal” social strata to discuss the spotting of a rare mythical creature, why not extend that to real life?  I mean, talk about a story… “So today I was discussing the merits of running with this 50-something now-vegan guy who – no kidding! – used to be a paratrooper and now runs 50k (31 mile) races for fun.  He helped me with my breathing while running.”

Get out there and play Human Go.  I’d be interested to hear where your journey takes you, and as always, if this post has moved you to action, please share it!

 

 

 

 





Get OFF My Freaking Lawn.

31 03 2016

I try really hard to be a nice person who behaves in a courteous fashion to her fellow humans.  All of her fellow humans.  And that’s the hard part.  Treating everybody as I wish to be treated.

So here I go, making blog hamburgers out of potentially sacred cows, and possibly poking at religion in an election year in which one of the candidates wants to toss all Muslims out of the country. Because, hey, they’re Muslims. (That was sarcasm. And the fact that I have to state that? Sigh.) Except that it’s not and never has been about religion. It’s about the Golden Rule, and the fact that the meat of that tenet shows up in Every. Major. World. Religion. 

(As a comedic aside, can I just take a minute and silently thank the world religions who have never come to my door?  That list includes the Jews, the Pagans, Wiccans, New-Agers, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, well, actually it includes all of the world religions in fact, …except some local Christians.)

When I first bought my house 2 years ago, the local Jehovah’s Witness church (and another Christian church who wasn’t one of the “big” denominations but listed “Christian” in their church’s title on the ubiquitous pamphlet I got handed) came knocking about once a quarter.  Okay.  That’s fine.  I politely demurred taking their literature, explained that I was an eclectic Buddhist who was not interested in converting, and then asked if they would like some water or if they needed use of a bathroom. (Treat your fellow humans as you wish to be treated).  I repeated this process (sometimes repeating myself ad nauseum – “No thank you, I’m not interested. Are you thirsty? Do you need to use the bathroon? No, I’m not interested in your pamphlet. Thank you.” – every time they came to my door for a year and a half.

Now, I own a business.  And from a business perspective, if I tried cold calling the same company or person 6+ times a year to be told, “No thank you, I’m not and will never be in the market for your services. Please take me off your calling list.” I don’t know that I would continue to call. It seems counter-intuitive and likely to garner me an eventual phone slammed down in anger from the other end because I’ve not gotten the message.

From another strictly business perspective, if someone has to continually recruit, (case in point my local Walmart always has a ‘We’re hiring’ sign up) to me that says nothing more than, “We can’t keep good people. We have to keep hiring new ones.” I understand that I’m mixing business metaphors with religion, and that that may offend some people.  If you are becoming offended, hang tight.  Read on a little further – because I’m not actually trying to offend anyone. (If I were, you would know. I swear a lot when I don’t care whom I offend.) So bear with me, there’s additional information I haven’t gotten to yet about this scenario.

So far, the pamphlet-waving hordes have been at my house 3 times this month. (YES, I said MONTH). The first time, they parked me into my own driveway (there were two cars of them tag-teaming the houses on my road) just as I was flying out the door to be on time somewhere else.  We then proceeded to have a “conversation” (them trying to convert me, me explaining “I’m trying to get to an appointment.  Can you please move your car?”) which took way more time than it needed to, and in which I had to repeat my request for them to move their car.  End result? Don’t park me into my own driveway, then WATCH ME lock the door, head to my vehicle, and then proceed to engage me on the wonders of Jesus.  I can’t even.

The second time this month, I saw them coming and got up from my work (because I was afraid that they would see me working at the table through the window and not leave until I answered the door). My experience with getting them to hear my “No thank you.” regarding their literature, and then the last time getting them to move their vehicle swiftly taught me that whatever my wish for our encounter was, it was unlikely to be respected.

RESPECT.  That’s one of the points I’m trying to make.

I put up a sign after that.  “No Soliciting. No Proselytizing. Thank you.”

Today my doorbell rang.  Third time this month.  I answered it. A nicely dressed lady tried to (again) speak to me about the wonders of Jesus.  I pointed to my sign.  I said, “Proselytizing is trying to convert someone religiously speaking. Please read the sign. Thank you and have a good day.” And I shut the door.

And I hung up another sign.  

 To me, it’s a Gordian knot of respect and consent and tolerance all mixed up together. (There is a lot of swearing in the video link fyi.)

Don’t make me tea.  Don’t make me your koolaid.  Don’t force me to drink tea or koolaid when I’ve said I don’t want either, thanks. I feel like the current state of affairs has people gleefully stomping all over the concepts of respect, consent, and tolerance.  Please note, I’m not making blanket statements about any group.  I am specifically speaking about the ones who obviously can’t read or don’t care and therefore, keep blithely knocking on my door. But I think it’s endemic of a bigger picture and a more widespread issue.

I was respectful until it was clear I was not respected in turn.  I consented to engage in polite refusal until I got parked into my own driveway.  I tolerated what I viewed as harmless and quirky behavior (and I am not throwin’ stones here – I myself  have an amazingly long repertoire of “quirky” behaviors that pretty much confirms the ‘I’m an eccentric artist-type person’) until it became evident that “no” (which is, in fact, a complete sentence all on its own) only seemed to result in more frequent visitations.

I’ve voted for my candidate, and it’s not Jesus.  I’m not saying Jesus is wrong.  I’m saying that that path is not my path. And when any path – be it a religious path or a political path, social path, etc. – leads people to disregard, disrespect, override consent, and become intolerate of others? Then we have a problem, and I feel like regardless of any broad-brush quality that someone may possess as a descriptor or identifier (blond hair, Jewish, tall, transgender, gay, hairy, bigger than me, taller than me, in a wheelchair, etc.), that, generally speaking, if they are a human being then they are therefore worthy of the holy triumvirate of “how to treat people.” Respect. Consent. Tolerance.

 

 

 





The Hell With The Holidays

19 11 2015

I’ve never been a fan of the holiday season.  (Find me an empathic introvert who is and I will send them a Starbucks card, complete with a drawing of the cup of their choice on the front.)  And by this point in my adult life I have done enough of those crappy gift exchanges that I would rather not go to an event then have to spend one more evening watching or hearing people diss crap I’ve made or baked or bought because it wasn’t their cup of tea.

I remember the day my mom, my sister (who rarely swears) and I (I swear a lot) were having a “discussion” about the holidays. I finally said, “Mom, the holiday fucking suck.” And when my mom cut her eyes to my sister, she echoed the sentiment.  F-bomb and all.

Is it because I’m empathic? Is it because there is such hypocrisy to me in the “spirit of the season” when most of us (and lemme be the first to point out, I’ve been guilty of it myself) go back to treating other humans like less-than-humans the day after the post-coital-holiday-nirvana-glow wears off? I guess it’s an amalgamation of all of this as to why I’ve always thought that the holidays are just a couple of days of the year where the rest of the world takes off work to buy each other lots of crap that no one needs and generally spend time with people they don’t necessarily like.  I want to work to change that mentality.   Even if it’s just me screaming into the uncaring ether on a cyberspace soapbox to my 17 regular blog readers.

 

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Here’s my freaking wish for this Holiday and every other.  Daesh brought it to the fore this week with the Paris bombings. Right now, I’m angry with my fellow human beings, and I’m disappointed in many people I call friends. But I think it’s been there, simmering in the hearts and hearths of the good old USA for awhile.  I really don’t care whether you think Syrian refugees belong here or not, whether homeless vets are more important than Syrian refugees, or not.  (No, really, hear me out.) My question is, “What have you done to change it?” (“It” being defined as what moves you emotionally, whether that be Syrian refugees, homeless Vets, abused dogs, pick-a-marginalized-and-underrepresented-group-it-doesn’t-matter-for-the-purpose-of-this-exercise.)

 

MrRogers

 

Pick something.

Do something about it.  Especially in this so-called “season of giving“, for the love of [insert the name of the god least likely to offend you here] quit drinking the fucking kool-aid laced with fear, and DO SOMETHING actionable.   Not reactionable.

Be a helper.

So mote it be. Amen. Inshallah. Im yirtzeh hashem.





Boobies in Politics

30 09 2015

I started this particular blog post about 3 years ago.  Amazing and frustrating how we continue to tread water over this issue. Boobies in politics, indeed.  And I refuse to answer on the grounds that I might incriminate myself if I’m referring to the so-called helmsman of the recent shouting match in politics or the actual subject matter at hand.  It’s a spiffy double entendre, if you’ll allow my ego to fly proudly for a moment, whatever my stated objective might ultimately be.

So – I have three general rules about blogging. One, don’t swear. Much. Two, don’t talk about politics. Much. And three, violate the first two tenets only when I think I have a reasonable and logical objective for doing so.

Today is that day. Dammit.

I totally don’t remember where I got the image from. If it’s yours, might I please borrow it for this post? IT’S AWESOME.

About 3 years ago I discovered a lump in my breast. No, I can’t really believe I’m taking the plunge and mentioning this in public, and yes,it’s been thoroughly checked out, but when I discovered it, I was in Florida, and, well, one of the downsides of having no health insurance is that it’s a lot harder to get seen by someone while one is traveling around the country making a living.

See, at the time (prior to Obamacare) I made too much to qualify for the local free clinic. And cash pay folks generally pay a LOT MORE (or did at the time) than what insurance companies payout for procedures.  If that’s not a sick twist of a still-not-great system, well… Anyway. Gods bless Planned Parenthood. They (at the time) had a sliding scale and they are medically recognized enough to have been able to give me that magical piece of paper one needs to penetrate the sanctum of specialists – a medical referral.

I don’t know what your politics are, and, in a pique of narcissism (hey, it’s my blog) I’m going to say I don’t really fecking care, because it’s tangential to this conversation. But assuming you disagree with my politics, I would ask you to think about the GOP’s recent stance on Planned Parenthood, and think about what that means directly to people like me. I am a human being, and it frustrates the everloving shite out of me that here in the United States, which is considered a first world nation, I was (and depending on how much I make in any given year), still am treated like a second class citizen based on my ability to pay for basic medical care, the costs of which are more per capita in the US than in any other first world nation.

Maybe someday I’ll be one boobie shy of a full roster (take that however you’d like) although I’ve had no more scares since then. But please know that 3 years ago, before “Obamacare” existed, I got in to see a doctor when I needed one and was able to pay the full fee they required at the time (which was a pretty big amount for me, but would have been unimaginably unaffordable if I had had to pay the full cash-pay fee). And I got in and got looked at because funding for healthcare organizations like theirs exists. Notice the use of the word “healthcare”.

End rant.





The Faire-y Files: A Rock Named Courage

27 09 2015

I read a quote this week (which I am totally going to paraphrase because it’s late and I don’t feel like possibly crashing my elderly iPhone again trying to Google a random quote): “Be the person your younger self needed.”  

Seemed like good advice, & bearing that in mind, I had an opportunity to (hopefully) be that person.

A couple (with a teenage daughter in tow) was looking at three different pieces in my booth, and had trouble deciding which one or ones they wanted. While they were wandering around I noticed that the teenage girl reminded me of my younger self. She was a bit awkward in her own skin, which most teenagers are, but there was a depth to the awkwardness that suggested that – like I was at her age – she is too ______ to fit in perfectly as she is. That blank space represents whatever word it needs to, as we have all been too short, too fat, too weird, too tall, too artsy, too sporty… Too something to fit in as we are, but somehow I think the idea that we are the only awkward being on the planet is mostly a hallmark of the teenage years. Sometime in adulthood – at least with most of the adults I am now privileged to call my friends – we have realized that our greatest strengths lie in the parts that our teenage selves got ridiculed for. However, the journey in finding that out seems to be fraught with land mines and circumstances that, while they make you stronger and forge you into the indomitable amaze-a-balls person you are now, they leave scars and reminders of hard battles won. 

The parents of said girl finally chose a piece and while I was boxing it up I got near to (but not within) the girl’s personal space bubble. Now, to explain – I have a super good sense of my body and I’m exceptionally aware of the space I take up in a 14 foot wide booth- it’s part of the psychology of selling. In order to move around people without disturbing their browsing in a space of that size requires a good sense of both space and self. So, while I was not in danger of bumping into her, every highly introverted person I know requires a larger than what is generally considered “normal” personal space.

She apologized when I stepped into that space, and backed up. I straightened up and enquired, “Did I just hear you apologize for the space that your beautiful person is taking up? Unacceptable. You take up the space you take up, & you, my dear, should never apologize for that. I was the one who bumped into your space. T’wasnt the other way ’round.”  

Her dad interjected at this point, and while pointing at me said to his daughter, “Listen to her. Isn’t that what I’ve been saying to you too?” 

I kept eye contact with the girl, and asked, “So Miss introvert- d’ya have any idea why I’m saying what I did? Why you should quit apologizing for being whom and what and where you are?” Her head shook “no.” “Because,” I replied. “Fifteen years ago, I was you. I apologized for my work and for my existence both, and once I knew I wasn’t going to fit into the corporate market the way that so many other people seem to fit into it seamlessly, I had to find a way out and learn how to make a living, and a job, and happiness out of this art thing which requires me to be myself. And be true to myself, which means not apologizing for the wonderful quirky creature that I am when it’s completely unwarranted. I see that same fire and potential in you.”

Tears in her eyes, the girl nodded. I asked if I could give her a hug. She accepted said hug, they picked up their box to go and were headed up the path to the exit when I hailed her again. I dug into my pouch, apologized for being a complete magpie, (which I assured them is part of the quirky artist bit) because the thing I was looking for didn’t  put itself into my hand immediately. But when I found the glass stone I knew was there, covered with an obligatory dusting of glitter, (I do work at a Ren Faire) I handed it to her and held her hand open while I spoke. 

“Do you know what this is?” I asked. 

Confused, she answered shyly, “A glass rock?”

“Well, yes. ‘Tis that.” I answer. “But d’ya know what it’s called, this rock?”

She shook her head in the negative. 

“It’s name is ‘courage’ and it will help you on your path figuring out who you were meant to be.”

And as silent tears streamed down her cheeks,  I closed her fingers around it and walked back to my booth.  





The Faire-y Files: Mum’s Proposal

22 09 2015

For those of you who’ve never met me at my day job, there are two facts you need to know so that this reads correctly (as this tale is really the first written chapter in what I hope is a collection of weird but true tales from Faire.) First, I have a rather thick Scottish accent, so bear with me, but I’m going to try and write my part in the farce (for farcical it seemed) as I sound in real life (even though that’s a big “no-no” in professional writing).  I think it’s funnier if you can “hear” me that way.

The second fact is that after selling my glass art at Renaissance Faires in a multi-state area over several months of the year for the past 7 or 8 years, it’s a rare day when something happens that hasn’t happened before.  I’ve seen Storm Troopers in kilts, I’ve seen King Arthur and his knights clapping coconuts and riding stick horses, and I see a guy swallow fire every day I’m at work.  (In fact, I try not to land in front of him in the parade we have to walk in because it makes the back of my neck super hot and prickly feeling when he pops off a fireball.)

Me at Work (photo by Gary Coates)

At Work (photo by Gary Coates)

This weekend had a “first” in it though.  I got proposed to.  By an older Italian lady …for her son. I was chatting with a trio of people -the lady in question, her husband, and her son- in front of my booth. I don’t remember what they were eyeballing (it’s irrelevant) but the conversation went something like this:

Lady: You have an accent.  Where are you from?

Me: You have an accent.  Where’r you from?

Lady: Italy

Me: Mai accent is from Scotland.

Lady: You married?

Me: If you’re asking fer you, while I ‘ppreciate the enquiry, I, eh… I like boys.  I don’t date girls.

Lady: NO! I’m asking for my son. (Points to son, who now looks like he wishes the universe would swallow him into a hinterland of darkness so that this conversation may be over with and he may die with dignity.)

Me: Eh… If your lad doesnae have the bones to enquire for himself? Then that’s a definite “no” straight-out-the-gate.  But I thank you for your interest.

Lady: (Addressing her husband, while pointing at me.) I like her!

Me: Besides, both the boys and the wee kids that folks offer up as payment or in trade are nivver the ones you want to be takin’ home in the first place.  It doesnae work out.

Lady: Gimme your card.

Me: Only if you’re gonna buy something.  I’ve no wish to be wooed over the internet.  I run a small art business, which is verra similar to having a cranky, non-verbal toddler that eats all mae money. I’ve no time for a husband.

At this point she grabs my hands, and looks at them.

“Heh!” She chortles. “No ring! You’re available.”

“No,” I reply “Lack of a ring means naught.  Have you ever worked with glass?” I turn to the husband and the son, asking, “Can ye picture getting wee bits of glass down under a ring? No thank you! Besides, lack of jewelry doesn’t logic’ly imply an unmarrit state anymore.  This is the 16th century.  For all you know, there might be a simple marriage contract pinned to the wall of mae house.  And I refuse to allow you to infer on my pairsonal life based on complete supposition and a five minute acquaintance to boot.”

Lady: (Again, to her husband as an aside) I really like her. I love her accent.

Me: Pah, I hear that every day.  If only I could collect a coin for every time I hear that. My wee house would be paid off. Maybe I should start a “proposal jar” like a tip jar, but you put a dollar in and I can say something funny. Or tell a joke that involves sheep.

At this point the son starts literally dragging his mum to the other side of the booth, away from the scene, because some of the other customers have stopped their perusing to watch us, heads popping up around the booth like a herd of small mongooses sensing either humor or impending fisticuffs. I’m not sure which, so I chalk it up to another Weird Thing At Work, and drift toward the folks that actually look like they might be interested in buying a glass thing.

My Booth (photo by Terry Belles)

My Booth (photo by Terry Belles)

The trio continues to browse, and about 3 minutes later, the son actually expresses an interest in a piece.  We discuss it briefly.  I mention how one-of-a-kind most things are, and he insists he “must think about it.” I start to hand him my card (it’s usually how the “I hafta think about it” dance goes) and then smiling, pull it back out of his reach for a moment.

“Here’s my card,” I explain. “But so as I’m verra clear, I’m handing it to you because we’re discussing my glass.  There’s no subtext, hokay?” He blushes and takes it, looking at his toes.  I then whisper conspiratorially, “Good luck with yer mum. She’s a corker.” He grins, making sure his mum can’t see, and he starts to walk away.

However, his mum isn’t done.  She’s spotted the card exchange (although she’s too far away to have overheard the sotto voce part. I am, after all, a pro.) She turns around, quicker than I would have believed, snatches a card from my top shelf, winks at me, and darts out of the booth to join her men.

I just shake my head and go back to the job of selling my work.