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My son always looks so peaceful and beautiful when he's sleeping.  He fell asleep on the couch watching Aquabats.

Hey, I can't use this journal to rant ALL the time, right?  :)

Public shaming of bad behavior


  How many times have we heard, "You need to be the bigger person" or "you need to take the high road"?  Usually this is in response to someone wanting to vent about offensive behavior dealt to them. For instance, when I had a white guy pull the corners of his eyes up in a grotesque mimicry of Asians and say, "ching chong ching chong!" to take a jab at my ethnicity, of course I was pissed off and wanted to bitch about it. I was 11 at the time, and too embarrassed to tell my teacher about it. And what good would it do anyway? My sixth grade teacher would probably have pulled him aside and told him it was wrong to do so. Then the rest of the day, I'd be called a snitch by all my classmates. You know damn well in our society that being a snitch is worse than whoever committed the original offense.

I remember telling some relatives after school was over about the boy's hurtful actions. I was told, "Well, you have to be the bigger person and not react."  Well-meaning advice to be sure; if you're going to constantly let stuff like that get under your skin, how do you live with the bigger stuff you're gonna encounter?

Meanwhile, the boy gets away with it. No harm, no foul, except for, you know, I STILL remember it at 28 years old and STILL get pissed that I didn't slap him in the face for it. It was one of several things that made me feel ashamed for being half-Asian when I wanted to be white like most of my classmates. (I got over that shame in high school, btw, when I realized that my heritage was actually pretty awesome.)

Now, as an adult, I deal with more subtle versions of ching-chong boy. Not so much with the racial aspect, but more with rude things said to cut me down as a person. Every time I want to assert myself, I wonder, "Should I take the (socially constructed and vague) high road?" Should I be the bigger person and just swallow it? Yeah, I'm sure it'd look really good in social media if I did. But I don't live for likes and ratings. What about my right to inform the other person they're being an asshole? And what if I missed my chance to tell them such, because I was too shocked to react at the time?

Something I've seen slowly growing in popularity is groups/ pages dedicated to publicly shame people who say stupid and offensive things. The offenders' names are usually blocked out, so no one can retaliate against them except by showing support for the person who was offended, and ridiculing the offender. I think these forums are wonderful. I hope they are an outlet for people, so that they can get these things off their chest, and be able to find humor in it. Most importantly, I hope that it shrinks the figurative mountain in their mind back down to the molehill it actually is.

Plus, why is anyone entitled to having their bad behavior remaining secret?  All of our actions have consequences: I don't pay my electric bill, they shut that shit off. I randomly tell a stranger, "hey you're an ugly SOB," he'd probably yell at me for being an immature and (possibly insane) waste of a human being. I know this, and avoid these situations. It's a no-brainer for me. For some others, they do stupid things, fully expecting to get their little jabs in without consequence.

So really? Posting about someone's bad behavior kicks you off that sacred higher road? I vehemently disagree. I think sharing situations of unacceptable behavior, and being able to laugh about it, reinforces the standards of acceptable behavior. Also, it's a great alternative for physically assaulting people who are mean and/or say harmful things. Did I also mention that it's cathartic? Why would anyone be more in favor of protecting the feelings of the offender than those of the person trying to be a decent person?

new bed


Justin took down the crib; Rex now has a bed. He likes it, but now doesn't like to nap anymore.

 

Time to adapt, again.

 

Also, getting into my art groove again. There's not much that calms me and makes me as happy as painting does. :)

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I attended one of the 100-city vigils for Trayvon Martin on Saturday. It was the first protest I've ever participated in. I don't feel like discussing any further my stance on the case, as I've wasted way too much time counter-trolling the pro-zimmerman passionistas on FB who keep trying to convince me justice was served. Obviously, I didn't feel like it was, as I managed to get my ass up at 6:30 a.m. and drive to Riverside to gather with other Trayvon supporters. By the way, I couldn't believe how many of my own friends tried to dissuade me from going to the rally. Some of them got pretty nasty about it. Among the many spiteful  arguments people opposing the protestors  made, "well why don't you rally for this [white] victim then?", "this is race-baiting!", "this is dividing our country!" Were among the most common topics they brought up ad nauseam. If you really thought the evidence was so unshakable and the verdict so just and wonderful, why waste your time on little troublemakers like me?

 

 

 

The vigil/ peaceful protest was incredibly energizing. It was wonderful to see so many people who cared enough about this to take time out of their day to come. I know waving signs and yelling at the top of my lungs won't magically create change. But making some noise with thousands of other people? I think it's a great thing. I know whenever I pass protesters, I read their signs and think about them. You get enough people for a rally, obviously this issue is important enough to these people to spend a hot summer day raising their voices. the only ones I outright ignore are the super religious ones. Ain't nobody got time for zealots trying to make me make friends with their imaginary friends.

 

 

 

All in all, I'm learning for myself that one tiny snowflake can melt or crush itself on whatever it lands; but if the weather's right, and there's lots of other little snowflakes clustered together, you could be a snowball. Or an avalanche. It starts with one.

 

Spammy comments

So does anyone else get a million spam comments on their journal?  Every time I go to my inbox, I see a ton of anonymous comments from people trying to sell shit.  What gives?

Mommy stuff and food stuff

No sick days as a mom.  I feel like shit.  Not like, absolute shit, but you know, shitty enough to slow me down.  Right now, the cheery sounds of "Wonder Pets" sing out gleefully from my TV.  I am boiling chicken for my little cold remedy, chicken soup with lemon and little pasta stars.  A load in the wash, the baby learning about teamwork from adorable annoying pets.  Things under control here at the home base.

Falling apart in other areas, but the chaos is contained there too. 

I never thought I'd be a stay-at-home mom, but here I am.  I'll be back to subbing a couple days a week when Justin is off his medical leave, but for the most part, it's me and Rex.  Not saying that it isn't a great honor to be able to stay at home with my child, just that it's difficult to be motivated to go a lot of places and be everything to him.  It was so much easier to clock in and do work that other people told me to do and make some money for my efforts.  This is a true challenge to who I am as a person. 

(sigh) enough bitching.

Music makes everything better.  Plus, Andrew came over last night and helped me make wonton soup for the first time. The wontons were excellent.  The broth sucked because I put soy sauce in it and completely changed the flavor into something suited more for Okinawan-style soup dishes.  Trial and error, right?

Bill Hicks

I decided to check out Bill Hicks upon the recommendation of, oh, EVERYONE.  He was extremely intelligent and way ahead of his time. But as I'm getting older and more sensitive and stuff, I find myself not being able to laugh at what I call "mean humor."  Sure, I'll laugh at a story of someone asking, "Whatcha readin for?" but his brand of bitterness isn't something that gets me chuckling. Interesting, though.  I think good comedians tend to be people who tell the story straight. They tend to be way more observant of patterns in people's behavior and the world around us in general. George Carlin was one of my absolute favorites. It disturbs me that George Carlin wasn't feeling too light-hearted in one of his last stand-up shows.  I think it said a lot about the way things are, that, instead of joking about things that were funny, Carlin was on stage pretty much ranting about our rabid consumer culture and how Americans have been lured into this cycle of shop, eat, buy, shop, eat, buy.  And Hicks, of course loathed "mall culture" and predicted (in the 1989 show I was watching) that in 2000, every American mall would be interconnected and people would be born in malls, live in them, and die in them.  While that hasn't literally happened, it kind of has.  We are persuaded to "buy" good parenting via elaborate nursery decor and programs for accelerated learning. We are told endlessly that if we don't put our kid in private schools, we might as well be throwing him into a den of wolves for all education's worth these days.  If we don't have the latest technology (smartphones, ipads, etc.) we're old farts who are stubborn and don't want to move forward.  I could go on for days if the subject didn't depress me so much. 

In short, I found Bill Hicks' comedy funny at times, but mostly it made me sad.  Because all of it was pretty much true.  RIP, Bill Hicks.
I want to share the feelings that those roaring crowds on TV have, the feelings of jubilation, relief, and satisfaction.  But I can't.  I feel really, really uneasy about it.

After 9/11, I wanted his blood.  After all those other spin-off atrocities within these past ten years, I kept thinking time and time again, why isn't this fucker dead yet?  So many times I just felt like him being dead would be enough, that it would be sufficient to avenge the deaths of those victimized by his acts of terrorism.  Why now does this feel like such a hollow victory?

I flicked on the TV as soon as I saw Facebook posts about it.  I watched the President's address and I still have the news on as I write this.  My first reaction upon hearing the news was, "Good.  Finally."  But as I watched, and still watch the footage of crowds gathered outside of Washington D.C. and other cities cheering and waving American flags, I felt this awful feeling in my stomach.  It felt like a mixture of sadness, disgust, and fear.  I thought of a couple things, one, the part in Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried" where Cross describes Kiowa's account of seeing someone die from a gunshot wound: "Boom. Down," and how he just "flat-fuck fell."  The other, an episode* of the Henry Rollins Show where Henry comments on Saddam Hussein's execution, "It was very anti-climactic.  Another dead body."  That's exactly how I feel about this.  He's another dead body. 

The news says he was killed in a firefight.  I'm assuming someone shot him, maybe a few times or more--God, how many bullets did it take to finally finish this guy?--but that's it?  No grand capture, no letting him suffer a little bit?  I mean I know damn well that my ass isn't out there getting shot at and I definitely don't know the first thing about how delicate this intel operation was.  But the kind of scenario I imagined for really bringing American justice on him went something like, we capture him, we let the soldiers rough him up the whole plane ride to GitMo, televise his torture, let him watch satellite feeds of families of 9/11 victims saying whatever they wanted to him...I don't know, I haven't really thought this through completely, but damn, his underlings have suffered more than he did.  He got off pretty easy, it sounds like.

I am afraid of retaliation, but it is not an immediate fear.  More present with me is the fear that we (and I am including myself in this because I wanted to see him suffer) are sort of like the crowds in ancient Roman arenas, drunk with bloodlust, waiting to watch heads roll.  On one hand, it is moving to see people coming together and cheering for our country.  On the other--for a death?  For a flat-fuck ending of someone's life?  Did he truly understand that he wasn't killed by an errant bullet, that he had the blood of so many people on his hands and the world needed to be rid of him?  At least in a trial, the guilty person is read a list of crimes he has committed.  It might just seem like a feathery formality, but think about it.  The news says a woman was killed because she was being used as a shield for him.  Bin Laden's son was also killed in the gunfire.  Of course Bin Laden knew we were after him, that's why he got so good at hiding all these years, but in a situation like that where there's soldiers against soldiers, he's just thinking, "I'm going to die for my cause.  I'm going to be a martyr."  He's not facing another human being who is looking him in the eye and telling him, "You murdered innocent people.  What you did is not condoned by Allah.  Your crimes are fueled by your own mistaken interpretations of the Quran and their blood is on your hands.  You are a mass murderer."  No, he is now Al-Qaeda's courageous fallen leader.   A corpse among the other corpses.  Yeah, this really doesn't get me in the mood for celebration.

It's better than not having found him at all, I suppose.  Kill the head of the snake, right?  I am very proud of our intelligence operations and am grateful for their hard work.  Also, the news does not credit them at all of course, but I also applaud the courage of the informants and other people on the inside.  Can you imagine being in that position, being so close to Bin Laden who has successfully avoided capture from the most powerful country on the earth for ten years, and working against him without giving yourself away?  I wonder how many have died just from the mere suspicion that they may have been double agents.  

I feel so blessed to live here in this country.  I really hope, though, that this has truly crippled Al Qaeda and is not fueling them further.  

*youtu.be/y_lcpsD3GxU
(Short segment from Henry Rollins Show on Saddam's execution)

2 years

Tomorrow it will be 2 years since losing Joshua.  I still don't feel like he's really gone.  I know I say that all the time, but what if he isn't really, truly gone?  What if he's on every gentle breeze, or in the glow around the clouds at sunset, or in the strains of a beautiful song, like I suspect he is? 

Last year I went to Forest Falls with Justin to leave colorful gerberas in his memory.  I was 4 months pregnant, and I couldn't stop crying except when I stopped to think about how comfortable I felt, how loved, as I was nestled among the large roots of a tree that was half in and half out of some rock.  I know Josh loved me, and I'm sure I loved him more.  I hope that whatever happens to us after we're gone, that love survives.  

Tomorrow, I plan on having fun.  Not partying or anything, just having a good time with close friends and going out to sushi with Justin and Rex.  Spending time with good people, hopefully remembering to laugh and enjoy the day.  Tomorrow I plan on honoring Josh's memory by trying to be happy.  

Driving sucks

Driving to a friend's house today, I found myself on the 10 freeway cruising behind a guy on a motorcycle.  He wasn't a typical "biker" guy at all, just some small-ish guy, surrounded by a lot of cars weaving in and out of each other.  Maybe he wasn't really small, but he looked like it in the midst of all that traffic.  So there I was, listening to Big Wreck, when I see this guy hold out his hand to signal that he was braking.  I slowed down, easy easy, when suddenly I was gripped with this ugly, acute sadness.  I remembered that when Josh and my Dad had driven out to California in preparation for our flight to Japan, they had seen a guy and his motorcycle lying on the side of the freeway.  They had pulled over to help this guy, it had looked like he had been hit by a car, and the driver had fled.  I remember the concern in Josh's voice as he was telling me this.  He had been really worried.  I can't remember the rest of the story.  I'm pretty sure he turned out okay, just got banged up pretty bad.  The really horrible irony of this, though, was that, four years later, Josh ended up being a guy on the side of a freeway.  And lost his life.  So today, driving behind the guy on the motorcycle, I stared at him.  His small back.  He looked so vulnerable.  I can't tell you exactly why it was that moment that I felt like I was going to lose it.  I thought of how pain, real pain, is ugly.  People feeling real emotional pain don't express it in this graceful sequence of screaming "NO!" and then bursting into sobs.  It's a hitch in your throat, a violent blow to your stomach, and sometimes all you can manage is a dumb stammer.  I felt real pain then.  Not the kind I feel when I simply tell people, "I miss him every day."  I held my hands on the wheel and willed myself not to cry.  I heard the faint jingle of Rex's toys from his carseat in the back.  It's not just you anymore, remember that.   Knowing Rex was there helped me to hold myself together.  I didn't cry, but my hands held the wheel like I was trying to choke Death itself. 

I used to feel safe in cars.  Even with shitty drivers.  Now, I can never relax while driving.  I mean, I've always been a pretty tense driver--I've never been able to hold decent conversations while driving, I don't look over to the passenger seat while someone is there talking to me, and I'm constantly checking all my mirrors.  But I did get to the point, eventually, where I could relax a bit, not stress so much.  I could sing to my music, chill out when there was traffic.  That ALL changed when Josh was hit by that car.  Unless I am on a country road with no other car in sight, I will never relax.  No one else can tell when they're with me in my car, just how worried I get about everything. I don't show it.  Unless you look closely, you can't tell how hard I'm clenching my jaw and how nervously my eyes scan over what's around me. I worry that when I turn the curve coming down the road to my house, that some kid is gonna jump out from behind a parallel parked car, and I'm gonna hit him.  I worry that some asshole is gonna make a turn before he has room to, and T-bone me.  And oh God.  Don't even get me started on seeing people on the side of the freeway changing a flat tire.  Let's just say I try to my best to give them a pretty wide berth.  

Another thing.  I get so fucking PISSED OFF when people admit to me they drove drunk.  It's not a big deal to them.  I keep my mouth shut most of the time, but every once in a while, I'll snap, "You do realize that when you're driving drunk, it's pretty much the same as waving around a loaded weapon, right?"  Then they get bashful with this look on their face like, "oh shucks"  And they probably think I'm judgmental.  Yes, I have a fucking RIGHT to be judgmental if I'm sharing the road with drunk fucks who think that they really are good at driving while intoxicated.  I'm sure every drunk driver who's ever killed someone while driving thought, "Hey I'm actually good at driving drunk. hur hur!"  before they actually KILLED someone.  And almost invariably, it's never the drunk driver that dies.  It's always the innocent bystander, or a van with a whole family inside.  

Long story short, I am not in love with driving lately. 

Need to finish packing for Minnesota.  Why is it that I'm always updating my LJ when I'm putting off something important?