Friday, February 27, 2015

~ Crash. Boom. Bang.

It's been a long time since I was involved in a car crash.  How long?  I was 16 driving my sweet ass 1977 Chevette by my crushes house with a gaggle of girls ridin' shotgun when a local physician leaving a drinking establishment drove into me. 

Apparently, last week my number was up (again).  Whilst on my way to the grocery store a vehicle turning left (into oncoming traffic they couldn't see) hit me.  By all rights this should have been the worst part of the crash experience.  It was not.

For starters in the immediate aftermath he other driver informed me that "you don't have to be angry".  (The response to my query of why a person would pull out into traffic without the ability to see all oncoming traffic?)  ...Really?  'Cause someone else bashin' into my ride due exclusively to their dumbassed decision making seems like exactly the time I get to be angry.  (Now between you an me-- you know [if you've spent any time 'round the BBGW, or known me for 3+ minutes] I like to use the curse-y words.  But four-lettered words used during this conversation?  A:  Zero.  And my voice never raised.  So?  How angry was I?  Plus, while having a conversation with a supremely nice random citizen who had witnessed the crash and stopped and waited to make a statement to the police I had already mentioned that this was crappy and not how I intended to spend my day, but all 'n all if this is the worst thing that happened to me today I still can't complain.  ...Everyone's ok.  Alive.  Breathing.  Hashtag Perspective.)

Post Crash Pro Tip:  You don't get to cause the crash AND dictate the reaction to said crash.  It's not the way it works.

I'm (apparently?) angry.  It's 15 degrees.  I'm dressed warmly enough to run into the grocery a block from BBG HQ, but not for standing outside for an hour doin' post crash police paperwork.  I think the worst of this event is over.

I am, however, about to be proven exceedingly wrong.

Now, I expect the next day to be a volley of phone calls to and from my insurance, the other driver's insurance company and perhaps the dealership I intend on taking the BBGmobile to.  Which obviously thrills me.

The reality?  Between 08:00 and 10:30 I received seventeen calls.  7fuckingteen.  Body shops, chiropractic practices and injury attorneys.  The pace of unsolicited and completely irritating ring-a-ding-dings was sustained all day.  I found myself realizing that the only thing worse than being involved in a crash itself (assuming all are fortunate enough to be physically unharmed) is being hounded by phone.  ...That is until I returned to BBG HQ to see that a injury lawyer had actually been to my house.  

BBG Fact:  People I'm cool with dropping by unannounced?  No.  One.

Kid* came to my house.

(Was the home visit payback for Kid's* (Robert Nestico's)

Some states don't make crash information public.  Ohio isn't one of 'em.  Which (obviously) sucks, if you live in Buckeyeland.  And, ya know, value not having to field tons of unsolicited phone calls, or random ass, business hunting people swinging by your house.  As ticky as I've been over the intrusions I can't imagine how close ones head would be to exploding if you were actually injured and recovering from a crash to have to deal with such shit.

Post Crash Pro Tip:  Keep a list of the businesses that call if (and I'm knocking wood that you're not) you're involved in a crash and ask-tell* (it's something I've been told I do  [P.S.  It's super effective, and makes life a lot easier.]) each of them to take you off of their call list.  They have to comply with your request or are subject to fines.   You will also need this list to place in your 'Places I'm Never Doin' 'Bidness With' file.  As I have.

* Ask-tell:  To pose as an order in the form of a (polite-er) question.


Friday, February 20, 2015

~ The Day The Pope Called Me Selfish

Scroll.  Scroll.  Scroll.

Minding my own business.  Trying to be knowledgeable of the worldly ta-doin's.  (And schnauzers going rogue to find their people)  Deciphering raw data to determine how many layers will equate to comfort when the mercury takes its impending sub-zero nosedive.  Internally embellishing the phrase 'checkin' the weather'.  Then.  Bam.

Pope Francis: "Not Having Children Is A Selfish Choice"

What.  The.  Holy.  Fuck?

I pride myself on keeping the expectation level of any given day to a minimum.  Like, a bare minimum.  It's why each morning when my peepers pop open I my first reaction is, 'oh?  This is happening.'  The fact that I wake up alive is considered a win accomplished even before my feet hit the ground.  Anything else decent-to-good?  Is quickly classified as icing on the cake.  ...It's one of the tools I use to keep from shanking every dumbass I come in contact with.  

BBG General Daily Expectations:
  • At some point something inexplicably stupid and/or ridiculous will tumble out of my mouth
  • I will learn sumthin' new
  • Someone or some circumstance will cause my head to explode which will in turn cause a smartass or ass-y ass comment and/or gesture on my part that I will be unable to hold in
  • I will then remind myself that whatever cosmic infraction has happened is nothing compared to being dead (#Perspective) and will is THAT something shiny? 
  • An interaction with someone will make me happy to be a human
  • An interaction with someone will make me sad to be a human
  • My food pyramid will be constructed of ill-advised food sources
  • I will laugh at something no one else finds hi-larious (which will make it even funnier)
  • There is a high probability I will sustain some self imposed injury
A Day In The Life...  Getting in the BBGmobile. 
Hit head on garage door opener clipped to the over head shade thingy.

But of all of the things I expect on any random day?  Having to defend or offer any explanation of why I've never put my baby maker to work has never crossed my mind. 

Ok... that's not exactly the truth, the whole truth and nuthin' but the truth.  Exhibit A:  Aniston, Jennifer.  Now I'm not one to be all up in some celeb's 'bidness.  Generally?  I could not give less of a fuck about any celebrity.   But on the other hand, it's 2015.  Good luck trying to watch any news program that doesn't report on shit that in my opinion should be left to the likes of EnterAcessExtraMZ.  While I have no real feelings good or bad about Jennifer Aniston I've always found it weird that she is frequently questioned about the unused state of her uterus.  Weird in the sense that, how the fuck is that a question a reporter thinks germane to any press junket proceedings?  Weirder still that her personal reasons for not populating her personal uterus becomes fodder for negative and judgmental commentary, as if it has any bearing or impact on anyone else's life.  ...So, the thought of having to (if you're a XX chromosome'd human) defend one's like-new state of their uterus has crossed my mind.  But I sure as shit never thought I'd be caught up in such a thing. 

That was before Pope Francis called me selfish.

So here we are.

Dear Pope Francis,
Long time listener, first time caller (ahem) random blog-y cyber letter writer.  I am one of the never used uterus people you called "selfish" last week.  Like you, I think selfishness is a very poor character trait and habit.   It seems more prevalent than ever these days.   It diminishes our connection and understanding with each other.  I'd go so far as to say it blinds us to our own ability to be empathic -- which is kinda the root of everything terrible humans manage to do to one another, no?  

Selfishness is when my needs and desires automatically supersede yours.  That's what you called me.  As it's clear you wanted me to know that, here is what I want you to know*;  I am a registered bone marrow donor.  While a friend's toddler battled leukemia I added myself to the potential donor list.  I knew I wouldn't be a match for him, but I knew maybe I could be a match and offer health and life to one of God's other children.   I am a registered organ donor, meaning when I don't need them any longer my organs are up for medical grabs to provide a second chance at living or an increase to the life quality of some stranger.  I also am a regular blood donor.  And have donated hair.  I use my able-(non-baby'd filled) body to fulfill acts of kindness, generosity and service to others routinely.  And even though cells have never multiplied in my uterus I have helped mother children.  And if we're keepin' it real, other adultsLiterally down to a molecular level I have tried to lay a foundation that builds my character and legacy as unselfishly as I can cobble together.  Don't get me wrong.  I realize I'm no Mother Teresa(Mother Teresa probably wouldn't have dropped 'fuck' twice already.)  But, clearly, I'm trying to be cognizant of putting efforts into being the antithesis of selfish.  Meanwhile, according to you the fact that I've never birthed a baby denotes some kind of latent selfish streak?  Not cool, Pope Francis.  Not cool.

While I do not agree that baby free equates to selfishness, I'm even  more confounded how that even began being a consideration or working theory?   Not having a baby is arguably one of the least selfish things anyone can do. 

The Top 10 Selfish (and uber common) Reasons for Having Babies (-5):
- To 'save' the relationship
- Because, Opps 
- Wanting a mini-me/legacy/someone who'll never leave/love me always
- All the cool kidz are doin' it (societal expectations)
- Someone to care for you in your old age

A lot of babies are the result of actual, straight up legit selfish reasons as anyone with more than 5-7 friends who are parents, or is super self aware and honest can attest to.  Those of use who, for whatever reason (couldn't/didn't want to, etc.) did not (are not) procreate(ing) do not deserve the head of the Holy Sea labeling us as selfish, especially when our actions indicate exactly otherwise.

I don't mean to be impertinent, your Holiness, but you are so off base on this that it seems you actually believe being child free is some sort of radical choice.  Fact:  Some people have no choice.  (7.4 million U.S. women have sought medical intervention for infertility issues)  Some people decide they are not parent material, again for whatever reason.  Personally?  I think *I don't want to do that* is a perfectly valid enough reason to not have children.  (I never really understand why parenthood is so ripe and rife, for and of, mass coordination's of peer pressure to jump on the bandwagon?   Parenthood is the last thing a person should be talked into.  Talking people into trying a new food? Good.  Talking people into trying a new brand of toothpaste?  Fine.  Bearing other actual human beings?  Nooooo.)  Point of fact, I never decided not to have children.  I always assumed I would have them.  I also assumed some guy, who if he never became a millionaire, or short stop for the Cincinnati Reds, or discovered the cure for cancer would still think he was among the luckiest men in the world because he had become mine would come along.  That hasn't happened. (Yet.)  So I ask?  What exactly was my choice?  Settle for a guy I knew wasn't for me just so I could pop out a few wee ones before we inevitably divorced to avoid shankin' one another?  Or to have lived a life that put me in likelihood of becoming an single parent?  (Which as I recall from my years matriculating at Our Lady Of Bad Catholic Kidz is Catholic-y frowned upon.)  Those were the two choices that have presented themselves.  Your error is in not recognizing that not choosing to exercise either of those options (in the event life doesn't unfold to bring the right mate by the right date) is an unselfish act. 

But it's not just me. 

Last week my selfish babyless friend shared her lunch with a homeless man.   Another selfish child free friend spends her time on works to end sex slavery, participates in several charities providing health and education for disadvantaged children.  Yet another of my friends who has never used her uterus is a mother figure to her nieces, nephews and grand nieces and nephews.  As someone who has no children and started of his career being called 'Father', I would think recognizing that those without kids do indeed serve to benefit the lives of others in great and small unselfish ways would be easy to accomplish.  It wasn't last week when you called me selfish, but I hope it is now.



 * Apologies for breaking the Ash Wednesday Rule  (But ya kinda forced my hand, didn't ya?)   " favorite mass of the year is Ash Wednesday.  One of the readings is about how you're supposed to do your 'good works' on the down low.  So much so that your left hand shouldn't know what your right hand is doin'.  Basically the passage says if you're making a big show and/or tell in order to let others know how fucking awesome you are, you're a dick.  Obviously, I'm paraphrasing."  

‘Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice; by doing this you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win men’s admiration. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.  ‘And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them; I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.  ‘When you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they pull long faces to let men know they are fasting. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.’



Thursday, February 19, 2015

~ The BIG Question: Why Isn't There A White History Month?

Black.  History.  Month.

The 28 (occasionally 29) days set aside annually to showcase historical contributions made by African Americans. 

Which if you're like most people means you've just mentally made a list of black people you learned about in school who you can name drop if/when the subject comes up  just tried to remember if George Washington Carver is 'the peanut man' or not, felt proud that you know who spoke the words "content of my character", and have decided that even though you can't specifically say why Harriett Tubman and Sojourner Truth aren't the same person you will give yourself partial credit for knowing that those are names of black women who existed.  

Clearly, you've got all of the details on black history you need to know down.  Chhhhhhheck

And yet, if you're like toofucking many people, the thing ya find yourself most curious about Black History Month is why there isn't a White History Month? 

Not, mind you, why you didn't know with any level of certainty about all but one of the black historical figures I just mentioned (as I assume everyone is familiar with the MLK quote on character vs. skin color) that Great Uncle Gus is alive because of a heart surgery and a blood transfusion that you can thank a black man (two, in fact, Dr. Daniel Hale Williams and Dr. Charles Drew, respectively) for.  Not why until this moment you just *assumed* that the inventors of those procedures must have been white.  Not why the fuck you are just now finding this info out in 2015.  In a blogThis fucking blog.


Why there isn't a White History Month.

So for the Offical Record, here ya go: 

Didja ever read Moby Dick's If I Did It?  Of course you didn't but seriously, that'd be kinda cool, no? because we only got Melville's account.  It's fair to say Moby probably had a significantly different take on the situation than the version we're familiar with.  (Even though we're talking about fiction look how easily and completely we base all of our entire viewpoint of a situation sourced by a singular voice.)  I'm betting until this very moment you'd never considered how the tail tale might look from a 'Call me Moby' vantage point.  As you ponder that congratulate yourself for taking the first step in understanding why there is no WHM.  (That didn't hurt, did it?)

There isn't a WHM because history is recorded by those with the means (money, power, freedom) to do so.  For context?  When the first census is taken in 1790 former African nationals and their descendants made up 19.3% of the population.  Currently black people account for around 13% of the U.S. populous  (So, we're talkin' an era when black people constituted a significantly higher percentage of our nation than do today.)  Yet, when we sit behind our school desks in American History class our education is even today, with the exception of 28 days in the winter told almost exclusively from a white narrative.  Not because 20% of the population (at the time of the 1st census, the percentage of black Americans prior to the census would have been even greater, mind you) hadn't (didn't) contribute anything worthy of noting for the historical record, but because American history was not, by any substantial measure being documented and culled by black Americans--  or by whites with blacks as being 'people' (and not livestock and/or property) in mind, for that matter. 

Having one side of the story is fine in works of fiction, but history?  History should be based on, um, ya know; Reality.   (The whole reality, not just the nice, impressive and pretty parts that feel good.)

So, either we teach history?  Or we start callin' the class Madeupstory. 

And the reality is; Sure, you'd think there'd be plllllleeeeeennnnnty of time to keep detailed historical records and reference materials, start newspapers and periodicals for circulation, but I'm guessin' being raped/living under the constant fear of being raped, being violently beaten, nay tortured for sadistic sport or as consequence to an infraction set by a malevolent master, or wondering if today is the day you'll be sold away from your child as you toil-- always at risk of death, probably made it difficult to jot a lotta shit down and publish make readily known your individual and/or collective black achievements. 

And let's face it, a black person's invention, idea, concept was considered the intellectual property of the owner.  So, if we're keepin' it real, (and lets, for a change) it's not as if slave owners would have even thought twice about citing credit for something his 'property' came up with.  Listen.  Even today if you design the next big thing at Apple when it rolls out history is not going to say (*insert your name here*) designed (invented, et al) it, it's gonna say, 'Apple's Newest Latest Greatest Thing You're Gonna Blow $500 On'.    (...But Let's Be Clear Side Note:  Enslaved people were not employees.  And regardless of how much you like to think you're 'servin' yo master' when you punch in?  Remember;  Unless your boss has, at will, raped and/or whipped you, sold your child, only allowed you to eat literal scraps, made your 'official work hours' 24/7 for your entire lifetime under threat of death, you are not, in fact, working under 'slave conditions'.  Understood?  [nod your head so that I know you understand])

Oh.  And it was illegal for black people to know how to read or write.   Which I'm sure you'll grant, significantly hinders the ability to document and share achievements for historical posterity.     

Obviously, there have been a shitload of reasons why much of what we refer to as quote black history unquote when really it is simply our history has in large part gone unknown, and thus not included when teaching the history of us

...And perhaps Black History Month would be unnecessary if once our lesson plans passed Revolutionary Era history, when it's easy to explain away a lack of content and documentation of a people who outnumbered white settlers (although, not an accurate explanation.  Exhibit A: This.  Exhibit 2: Solomon Northup (aka: 12 Years A Slave), if there started to be a stronger, more representative inclusion of black contributions mentioned in (ahem) American History class when documentation of African-Americans was easier to verify and come by... 

Gee.  Let's say, history from after black people were actually being recognized as people times.  Fair enough?   There were decent records being kept by the Reconstruction Era.  Newspapers were widely available to cover ta-doin's.  Black people were, in fact, 'people', so level playing field!  History wouldn't be whitewashed, for heavens sake.  If we don't know it, it wasn't worth teachin', right?   

Right?  Well, of course you're right.  That's why you can explain to your neighbor how it is that within five years of President Lincoln granting emancipation to slaves (which of course you already know [wink-wink] happened in 1863, because, history) black men had been elected to the U.S. Senate, and why that didn't happen again until after 1965.  (1965.  Otherwise known as; in probably you, or your parent's lifetime.  ...So history.  But just barely.) 

Oh.  You can not? 

Lemme ask ya, is that because you're unfamiliar with history involving black people because it wasn't taught to you in school? 

'Cause I think it's pretty fair to say that if the American government passed an amendment into the Constitution granting white Americans a right, and then turned around said, psyche and took the right away from them for another 95 years?--  We'd all probably still have the 'never forget' themed diorama we'd made in class.  It'd be the other song people confuse with the National Anthem central subject of a folk song every child learned in pre-K.  Reenactments would take place in the town square every third fuckin' Saturday. 

I'm just sayin' that woulda come up in American History class, ya know?  Might stick in your brain.  Might make you wonder why, if the goal was to act (not  simply speak the words) as if all men were truly created equal, we would pass laws to make things decidedly unequal?  Would make ya contemplate what would be the catalyst for that type of regression? Why the fuck it would take 95 years to correct?   But a decent number of people bitchin' and moanin' about there not being a WHM can't say for sure, without Google-ing, whether I lied or not about the existence of black senators (and congressmen) in the 1800's--  so they (you?) never get around to being inquisitive about those type of questions.  Without that level of knowledge and perspective those questions can't be asked and if they can't even be pondered, pause for a second to consider the implication that bears in present day race relations in our country?   Exactly how often has steadfastly remaining ignorant of a subject ever helped solve, address, or at minimum, provide ya with a rational/realistic understanding, viewpoint or stance?   'Cause it's never happened to me.  Although it does largely explain why I assume my computer may indeed be powered by a hamster in a wheel.  Or magic.   

Start at minute 34 to learn whether I told ya the truth about the rights and freedoms of blacks being revoked for nearly hundred years. 
(Bonus learnin':  Start at minute 23 to learn the origins and significance of the phrase, '40 acres and a mule'.)

You see, people like to think that BHM is all about knowing that a black man (George Crum) invented the potato chip, that the first female, self-made, millionaire in America was a black lady (Madam C.J. Walker), or that a black man (Garrett Morgan) is who is to credit for the invention of both the traffic signal and the gas mask.  And of course, knowing the tales of individual achievements by black people is important.  But the real value of having an understanding of, what we (collectively), and as a huge misnomer call 'black history', is in how it forces people to see the (or at least a more) complete picture of not only black Americans, but also of the role race plays in America.  Perhaps most importantly, the role that you (Yep.  *You*) play in how equal people are treated in our country. 

Knowing any of these individual details is less important than realizing how much of a factor race has always played in how America has operated.  Fact: If you can't come to grips with how race relates relative to a historical context it's harder to see the ways in which the context of our history with race repeats itself  in real time. 

Many Americans would rather pretend race doesn't matter.  That engaging in discussions about it is what is at the root of our ongoing racial issues.  In actuality, it's the knowledge-- based on facts, not (mis)perceptions, (erroneous) assumptions and historical inaccuracies and/or straight up complete historical exclusion that has the power to help end racial strife, inequalities and prejudices.  The ability to enter a conversation about race at a literate level is predicated on having more than a cursory understanding of it.  (I'd argue most of Americans don't even have a cursory understanding of it.)  Being historically illiterate on what the reality of being black in America has entailed, in my opinion, contributes greatly to why we're not doin' better than we are in modern day race relations.

If more Americans were aware of the reality of how often, insidiously and pervasively our culture has consistently proven that race matters a great deal, perhaps it wouldn't come as some shocking news when people of color in 2015 say that race still matters-- not because it's a topic on the nightly news, but because sadly, in 2015 race still matters. (#Sigh)  That is the real benefit of BHM.   Seemingly, much of white America is under the impression that accepting black history as true, and fully integrated American History, is going to mean they're gonna have to feel guilty for what people who looked like them did to black people.  And where would it stop?  Next thing ya know you're noticing and feelin' guilty about present day racism?  Maybe even (gasp) feel compelled to do something about it?  FOR THE OFFICIAL RECORD:    Being knowledgeable about the historical realities (and contributions) of black people in our country is NOT the same as having to assume guilt for what that often sketchy history is.  There.  Do you feel better?

Being literate about a portion of our history that has had such negative ramifications that they still reverberate today, is to take a step towards greater racial equality.  Or, as lots of Americans prove each time they pose the query, 'Why is there not a White History Month?' an opportunity to whine about how you have the lineage of undeniably the most fortunate lot of humans ever to roam the earth yet only get to claim 11 months as your own, so; Oppression. 

2,816:  The number of months American History has been considered and treated as WHM.  40:  The number of BHM's.  (About 2.5% of months have been devoted to the historical contributions of black people.  [aka:  people who have always comprised 13-19(+)% of our country]  Are you honestly complaining that 98.5% of history domination isn't good enough?)

If it's starting to sound bat shit crazy that nearly 40 years into the existence of BHM the most confounding issue is why there isn't a designated celebration and learn-a-thon of white contributions?  That's because it is.    

The question is after 40 years how have some of ya not come to grips with the fact that a 198 year stretch of 'American History:  It's Just For Us' was a good run?  And that opening the circle of history to include, um, more actual, factual history doesn't dilute history as we've known it for nearly 200 years.  It makes it fuller.  More well rounded and representative of how we (all) came to be here.  Moby Dick doesn't become less impressive if we know the whale's tale.  It just becomes a more well rounded story.  History = same. 

Black history was not created to celebrate bein' black in America, (Huzzah, black people!!) but to acknowledge historical facts that had all too often been ignored because of said blackness.  Perhaps instead of whining about and mulling over why there isn't a WHM it's a really good time to be thankful that white history is so universally viewed as a the standard, the norm, nay, synonymous with American history that you don't need a month to validate that your race has been a valuable part of the contributions making this experiment we call America possible.   

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