Sunday, September 18, 2016

Birds of Protest: When Words Don't Work

Sometimes you can't do the things you're supposed to do. I was supposed to go to a memorial for a friend today. I couldn't. They're adding up. It would have been the fourth such gathering this year. Maybe that's not a lot, but it's enough for me right now.

I'm tired of loss and focusing on loss. Real loss, impending loss, potential loss, metaphorical loss. There's a lot of it swirling around, near and far. I started running out of words. OK, I had words, but more often than not, they started resembling an unpunctuated string of cursing. I was running out of coherent sentences and paragraphs. I couldn't find them.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Raising a Son in a World of Brock Turners

This whole Stanford Rapist Who Can Swim thing has been everywhere this week, and I haven't tried to escape it. I've read the letters, read the articles, and shared in the discussion. I found myself wandering between disbelief and outrage.

It was strange to realize I've been in the courtroom of the judge who sentenced Turner to the prison equivalent of cleaning chalkboard erasers after elementary school. He annoyed me then. He infuriates me now.

At first, I didn't talk about the Stanford case around my son. I didn't want to talk about rape. I didn't want to explain what Turner had done. I didn't want to talk about how a young man smart enough to go to a university as prestigious as Stanford could also be as vicious as to attack an unconscious girl behind a dumpster.

But then, I did. I am raising a young man. I wanted him to see me angry, astounded, and affected by the case.

My son can go toe-to-toe with me about how unfair it is that I limit his screen time. He can go full-blast pre-teen when I ask him to clean up the dog poop in the backyard. He can roll his eyes so far that I wonder if they'll return to their proper position in their sockets. He is, most definitely, an adolescent.

But he has an amazing heart when it comes to people and emotion. And I am grateful.

Even still, I needed him to know that the culture in which he lives goes far beyond boys trying to impress each other with locker-room talk. That middle school boys are not far enough away from college-age boys. That losing sight of people as human beings means you risk losing your own humanity.

I've talked about elements of the case with him. About a young woman who drank too much and a young man who took too much from her. About her being passed out behind a dumpster. About her letter to the court at sentencing. About what Turner's father wrote in defense of his son's behavior.

Tonight, I read Joe Biden's open letter to the victim, out loud to @. The kid reads novels like they're pamphlets, but I wanted him to hear it out loud. I wanted him to hear things like

"you were failed by anyone who dared to question
this one clear and simple truth:
Sex without consent is rape.
It is a crime."


"We will speak to change the culture on our college campuses
— a culture that continues to ask the wrong questions:
What were you wearing?

Why were you there?
 What did you say?
How much did you drink?
Instead of asking: Why did he think he had license to rape?"

I was reading an article by a public defender in Oakland, who talked about how her clients get much more harsh penalties, even for victimless crimes. He asked me to send it to him. He wanted to read the whole thing for himself. From there he can follow links to see more, including the victim's statement, in all its detail. And he probably will. It will affect him. It will give him a perspective he'll hopefully never experience himself.

I am grateful that I am raising an empathetic young man. I'm glad that he reacts in disbelief that Turner could do something like this, with near impunity. I'm glad that he asks why the sentence is so light when it could have been real. I'm glad he has an opinion, questions, disbelief. I'm proud that he wants to know more.

I am raising a young man. And I am proud of the young man I am raising.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cancer Is a Narcissist

I am angry. And I am sad. But at the moment, it's mostly anger. Keyboard and reader beware.

That androgynous, faceless, scourge
with too many names and ways of wreaking havoc. 

That invisible stalker that sneaks in at the cellular level,
latching on and demanding attention. 

That predatory visitor that remains unseen until
 it's too often too late. 

It wins again. Today, cancer won again. 

It won this morning, taking a young woman barely 30 from her world, her family's world, our world, this world. Quickly. Aggressively. Ruthlessly.

I want to scream at cancer, cuss it out, kick it where it hurts, be heard. But cancer is a narcissist. It doesn't care that I'm angry. It knows nothing but itself and how to propagate until it wins.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Planetary Pronunciation Gone South

First, there was a question of the location of the spare toilet paper. @ couldn’t find it. He looked in the right places. I told him to check the shelf at eye level. Oops, wrong eyes. TG had put it at eye level, except it was his eye level. (Remember, the T stands for Tall…) Even better, it was at the back of the shelf.

TG's choice of TP placement brought on a discussion of whether he was opposed to @ actually using toilet paper. TG claimed he was trying to get @ to think about Star Trek. @ had to think a second… Wait, Klingons? Yep.

“Stop… that’s not funny.”

Somehow that brought up a question of pronunciation. Specifically, is the name of the planet pronounced yur-ay-niss or yurin-us? Where’s the syllable emphasis? Is it a long a or a short a? Because yur-ay-niss just sounds gross and yurin-us doesn’t sound much better and it doesn’t even make sense anyway. I mean, why would pee come out of something labeled with a word that actually has the word has anus in it? See, it doesn't make sense at all.

“Mom! Stop.”

Come on @, we just want you to think about astronomy. You know, like exploring dark space.

“Stop… That’s not funny. It's just not funny.” He threatened to lock us out of the house. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Crap, Cash, and a Killing Spree (Just Another Saturday)

You'd think I had a crapload of cash hanging out my back pocket.

I had neither crap, cash, nor a crapload of cash in my pocket.

I checked.

The safest lane for a motorcycle is the far-left lane. Not today. Apparently, a lot of people were in a "20 miles over? meh" hurry. I stopped counting after the 97th car tried to crawl up my, err... tailpipe. (OK, I didn't count. It's just a low estimate.)

And the guy who tried to read the label on my jeans for 40 miles, but refused to pass until I actually pulled into a turnout? Charmer.

"Perhaps you were riding too slowly," you think. Reasonable assumption -- after all, I'm a girl on a giant tricycle, right?

I checked that too.

My speedometer was quite clearly in the "this could be pricey" zone.

Maybe if they realized I was in the midst of a 310-mile killing spree, they would have backed off. Shown a little patience.

Evidence of many satisfying splats.