Tuesday, February 23, 2016

~ My Life Advice

Don't compare yourself.  You can admire, even steal behaviors 'n attitudes you respect in others, but remember the only fair comparison you can ever accurately make is between Today You and Yesterday You.

Live 15% with an eye towards the future.
15% with an eye towards the past.
70% in the fuckin' moment.

When you have an opportunity to be kind, generous and magnanimous do so.  Always.  But when you have to be a bitch/bastard because you've been left no choice?  Do that too.  Don't be a punk, but don't let others make you theirs either.  (Pro-tip:  Know the difference.)

Once you do something, anything, you're responsible for having done it.  Period.  Once it's done know that you do not get to determine the reaction to it too.

Dust pans are for suckers.  If you're already cleaning flat floors that meet with a carpeted area sweep the crud near the joining point, get out the vacuum do the carpet and just suck that crud up.  Two tasks complete and you didn't have to fight that line of crud that is inevitable when attemptin' to sweep it into the dust pan. 

(Bonus vacuum-y advice:  If you have carpet on two levels of your abode have 2 vacuums.  Never have to lug your
suck machine to the other story again.  #GameChanger)

Assess 'yo self.  Daily look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if you're bein' the kind of human you want to be.  Be honest.  (Adjust as needed.)

Should you do it?  Is it illegal/immoral/unethical?  Is death, maiming or a trip to the ER (of yourself and/or others) a possibility (or probability)?  If you heard a story about someone else doin' it would you lose respect for them?   If the answer is no then give that shit a whirl. 

Remember you're never too old to blow bubbles, eat cotton candy or watch cartoons.  Be suspicious of anyone who says otherwise.

Never forget what life was like when you worked some of your first shit jobs.  Never treat anyone doing so now like jerks treated you then.

When the fancy strikes ya have dessert for breakfast.

Don't let anyone else define who you are.  When it comes to you, you are the author of that definition.  With that said, people are free to make judgements of you based on what you show them.  Ones perception is their reality.  (Pro-tip:  If one person asserts you're XYZ that you don't dig?  Write it off.  If scads of people, particularly those who you know have your best interests at heart make the same claim?  You owe it to yourself to take a honest second look.  It's the life-y equivalent of double checking the blind spot on your vehicle.)

Donate blood.  Register to be a bone marrow donor.  Check the box that says you're an organ donor.  Don't just be the kind of person who says they'd save someone's life if they had the chance, actually be that person.

Pay attention to sayin' vs. doin'.  In yourself, and in others. 

Know that the appropriate amount of time you should spend trying to change someone other than you is:  3 Minutes.  After that either you actually have a poor idea haven't sold it in a compelling way, or they're too proud, stupid or stubborn (they've told ya who they are;  listen) to even for a moment consider your way of thinkin'.  By minute four you are absofuckinglootly wasting your time.     

Learn that an apology doesn't contain an 'if'.  (...if I xyz'd ya I apologize...)  An apology is an acknowledgement that you did in fact commit a transgression.  If you don't mean an apology don't give it.  Yes, that might make ya a jerk, but at least it doesn't add liar on top of it.  (Also, please note that to actually fulfill an apology you can't continue to do that fuckin' same thing.  That makes ya a jerk, liar and asshole.)

When you see children wave at you always wave back. 

Remember that respect, character and integrity are more valuable commodities than swagger, cool and popularity.

Sleep nakid.  Those few hours are the only time you can be completely unencumbered (without being arrested), take advantage.

Say 'no' more often.  No isn't a dirty word, it's simply one we use to set the appropriate expectation.  And there's little worse than having to do something that you committed to that ya never wanted to do in the first damn place.  (Side benefit:  When you say 'yes' people will know you sincerely mean it.)

Remember you are going to die.  Weigh options of how you choose to spend your time and invest your energy in against that fact.  Choose wisely.  Nobody ever complained that they spent too little time doin' chores, or pining for someone who didn't pine for you back, et al, on their deathbed. 

Freely acknowledge that shitty situations are shit-tay.  Also, that they create an opportunity for you to prove your might.  The phoenix doesn't rise from fluffy marshmallows 'n rainbows.  It rises from the scorched ass ashes.  You can too. 

(Extra shitty situation fact:  If you find yourself repeatedly in similar shitty situations?  At some point you have to recognize the common denominator is [drumroll] you.  There's plenty of shit to deal with when adulting;  Don't invite additional shit.)

Laugh at yourself.  Often. 

Laugh at others.  Sometimes.  (Like, when it doesn't make ya a complete dick.)

Watch the news.  Yes, obviously it's important to be well-rounded and cognizant of daily and worldly ta-doin's, but it always gives you something to talk with people about.  When you're even minorly knowledgeable about an area someone else is interested in it breeds common ground, which is always an advantage when dealing with people.  Both in business and personally the ability to toss out a tid-bit important to them can not be over evaluated.

Cleaning.  Decide that for the next 15 minutes you're gonna clean.  Short and consistent bursts of cleaning means you never have a messy place and that you never have to do anything stupid like devoting a whole day to cleaning.

Practice left-right-left driving.  Just before the light changes and you start across an intersection look left (your drivers side), right (passenger side) and left again.  You look to your side twice for the same reason parents put their air mask on before they start putting it on kids on a plane-- you can't help anyone else if you're dead. 

Let people fuckin' be.  If how they choose to live their life has no demonstratively negative impact on your life, live and let live.

When new things present themselves try 'em.  Whether it be foods, experiences or people.

DWYSYWD.  Do what you say you will do.  If you can't, won't, don't wanna do it don't say you will.  This act alone will keep you from a million forms of drama trauma.

Put yourself figuratively in the shoes of others.  Explore how your feelings and viewpoints change when you see people and situations from vantage points other than your own. 

Recognize that that's 'how we've always done it', or 'that's how I was raised', or 'tradition' are often pretty fucked up reasons to continue doin' stuff.  Decide to do, or hold on to things, based on their merit, appropriateness, or validity under real-time conditions 'n circumstances.  Ask yourself if X was presented as a new concept today does it (without its history) seem reasonable and sound?

Don't speak of yourself in the third person unless you actually want people to think you're a douchebag.

Look for the silver lining.  If you can't see it, try to be it.

Don't conflate not staring at someone with not making eye contact with them.  There's a dignity exchange in eye contact.  It's a literal acknowledgement that you see them.  Which sounds stupid (of course you see them, otherwise ya'd be bumpin' into and trippin' over folks all the damn time) until you consider how many people, homeless folks, peeps with visible handicaps and/or deficiencies, etc., are made to feel invisible, like their humanity isn't even recognizable.  Even if you can't magically better their circumstances, don't worsen it by pretending they don't even exist.  Or as it was ingrained in us as Our Lady Of Badass Catholic Kidz;  You never know which one is Jesus.  Act accordingly.    

When another driver lets you in acknowledge that they didn't have to do that, and that it was kind of them to do so.  It's called a thank you wave.  Without it know that somewhere there is a story being told about you and you are aptly being described as an asshole. 

Be no harder on others than you are with yourself.  Conversely, be as kind to yourself as you would be to others.

Have a pet.

Have empathy.  Often the only thing that separates you from the them you're tempted to deride is that you weren't born into those exact circumstances.

Make it a practice to be grateful.  The more you practice it the more you notice how very, very much you have to be grateful for. 


Monday, February 15, 2016

~ Guess Who's Taking Their Country Back? (Hint: Me)

Fact:  I don't have a bucket list and I don't believe in goals.  I believe in wanting sumthin' and doin' what it takes (as long as it keeps within the bounds of being legal, ethical, moral and generally not bein' a dick to others) in order to get it, or conversely, relatively quickly giving up and moving the hell on.  Scads of factors go in to which route I ultimately choose.

For instance, on a company trip a million years ago we rented a SUV.  From the moment I sat up in that seat and mashed the go peddle I knew it was a must.  I saved my pennies and the following year I purchased one.  I've only owned SUVs since.  Sticktoit'dness.

On the other hand, I, for a brief moment assumed I'd be Mrs. Adam Ant.  By the time Billy Idol hit the scene I'd given that up.  Giveup'dness.

But one of my most steadfast desires is one I've held onto for more than a decade, which is, as someone so easily distracted by the shiny thing that just caught my eye, an actual eternity.  I want to gain admission into the Daughters of the American Revolution.  Of course I realize this sounds refuckingdiculous.  I mean, what are the odds that any American can legit trace their lineage to an ancestor active in the American Revolution*?  Let alone a brown one?  While I'm certain there are other brown girls in the DAR, my guess is there ain't many.  And.  I.  Want.  In. 

( * ...Yeah, I got curious too.  It's estimated the DAR has 180,000 members while the boy version, the Sons of the Revolution has 33,000 members.  Meanwhile there are 322 million Americans, you do the math.  Seriously.  I'm shit at math
[Obviously there are those who can trace their ties back to the literal birth of our nation who aren't aligned with any number trackin' organization, but listen,
I can't Google everything...)

I have pestered my genealogy doin' (and saintly) Mom for yeeeeeeears.  Now it's important to note the I have contributed zero in the quest to bring such a thing to fruition.  Other than pestering.  And that shit is time consuming and more complicated than one might imagine.  I'm not a great daughter.  But I am the only one she has sooooo... 

To be truthy, not only have I not helped, I have actively attempted to dissuade the efforts, mainly when several months ago Mom told me she was doing that genealogy DNA test and asked if I wanted to also?  Pragmatically Immediately I was all, "just because I haven't had to commit a crime and/or kill someone doesn't mean I won't have to in the future.  I don't know what tomorrow will bring." as naturally, one does.  Rightfully so she did not listen to me.  ...Or maybe at her age she feels confident that she probably won't have to do a murder...  I donno.  (shrug)  Regardless, and obviously to my chagrin, she spit on a q-tip and slapped a stamp on it.   (As if to double down on my terribleness I subsequently mocked her upon reading this)

As you may have come to realize by this point I really, reeeeeally want to be in the DAR.  A) (and I don't know this to be true, in fact, it's probably safe to say it's not) I just suspect there are crested blazers involved in the DAR.  I must have one of those blazers.  (I imagine they're blue.)  I want to wear it every day.  I want a t-shirt underneath that perhaps in sparkly letters says I Want My Country Back.  2) I want to laugh as peoples heads explode when they are forced to see a BBG (big brown girl) free ranging the world in that get up.  Is that wrong?   In the past several years I keep hearing over and over again about folks wantin' their country back.  And frankly, I feel left out and I want in on that too.

(Correction:  My t-shirt will actually read I want My Country
Back, Bitches'Cause I'm that girl.) 

Flash forward to two months ago.  I'm at her (Mom and her hubby's) abode (we call it Southfork), I don't know what we were discussing when out of the blue she says, "oh, there's something I've been meaning to show you" whilst whippin' out the iPad.  Before she can even get the sentence out I chime in with, "did you finally get me into the DAR?"  Super surprisingly Mom pulls up what, from a bit of a distance I recognize as the layout of a family tree.  She goes on to show me one the crazier turn of events I've had in my life.  Ya see, as sheer willpower fates would have it, and in an enormous shock to me, DNA links me up as being the descendant of an American patriot.  By the way, we're not talkin' the loose way 'patriot' gets tossed about these days.  Nope.  Not only are we talkin' a by-anyone's-measure, patriot, we're talkin' a drafter of the Declaration of Independence.  (suck it)  And a President of the United States of America.  (double suck it)   I am the 6x granddaughter of (drum roll) Thomas Jefferson.

As stoked as I am to discover this tie to the beginings of our nation I gotta admit it also fills me with, I guess for lack of a better word, sadness.  Sadness upon the recognition of how common place it is that I'm essentially 'other-ed' in my own land.

Fun fact, this happens all the time--

- What are you?
- But where are you from?
- No, seriously, what are you?

The subtext being very clearly, 'because you're not white, I assume you are not a real American'  ...Which is awesome to have pointed out to you.  Constantly.  By complete strangers in the grocery store.  Or while clothes shopping.  Or when queuing up for a movie. 

...How's that for a routine affirmation that entire chunks of society have trouble even conceiving that the vaguely brown chick in line with ya is, in fact, what America is too?  One must admit that it's a shitty reality when skin hue is the seemingly sole litmus for determining what an American looks like.

But congratulations that's our culture.  We're strengthening it every time we nod our collective heads along with the growingly popular takin' my country back mantra.   It's the contrarian in me that leads me to want to co-opt I-want-MY-country-backness to mean a country where we actually do that everyone's equal stuff we've been having well meaning 'conversations' about since good ol' Grandpa Tom was still alive.  My version of wanting my country back is progressing to the point where America isn't just equal in 'theory', but equal in actual fuckin' practice. 

That's of course, not its traditional meaning.  The mainstream meaning of I-want-my-country-backness is something I've found interesting since it became a thing.

On the surface it's usually explained as; 'I want ol' time-y economics.  Or morals.  Or standards.  Or educational systems.  Or workplace settings.  Or.  Or.  Or...'  None of which off the cuff sound like nefarious notions.  (Completely unattainable and unreasonable?  Yes.  [Fact:  Progress, nay, evolution, has been stifled, held at bay and obstructed, but never has it been kept from actually proceeding.])  Easily palatable to large and nostalgic segments of the country.  Except to those who notice that the underbelly, and in-practice version of yearning for the good ol' days is that those were days that economics were often predicated on harsh conditions for the labor of the day.  Harsher still if you were a POC, whether it be the goin' backness of the 1950's or the 1850's.  Going back to the morals of the day logistically entails a longing for an era that it was either moral to own other (browner) people, or that it was morally acceptable to simply not hire, or serve, or worship with, or provide equal educational opportunities to, or live in close proximity to Americans who were non-caucasian, because, black.  ...Not to sound all, everything is black or white, but if history has taught us anything about how skin color impacts POC it's that with exception of the premise that white men can't jump and that black guys have monster cocks, being black in America has never, like ever, been anything other than a disadvantage.  Yes.  Oprah and President Obama exists.  But there are always outliers.  There are always exceptions to rules-- that's why we have that fuckin' cliché in the first place.  The fact that exceptions exists doesn't negate the fact that the rule is the actual norm most will experience.  And the norm for POC historically, and currently, is a state of disadvantage.  Not because it's my opinion.  Because of the actual evidence of disadvantages experienced by Americans based on the color of their skin, in um, everyfuckingthing*.

(Please Note:  *Not e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.  Just employment opportunities, the ability to get a fair mortgage rate or car loans.  And;  the level of health care received from doctors, dining outemployment opportunities, housing options, treatment in the judicial system, employment opportunities, votingin education and appendicitis pain management.  Also;  if you may be in need of an ambulance, and whilst touring a college campus, and riding on a fraternity bus, and h.s. class photo days and when determining if a child is a child or an adult.  Or any of the literally hundreds of racial bias cases listed here that have taken place since 2003.)   

So, if you're keepin' track that's-- 
For contrast, I'll allow Tim Wise to detail some of the advantages of whiteness in America--  

So, no.  I'm not particularly interested in going back to any past era, no thank you.  Also the same reason I avoid plantations, and places with plantation in its name.  Just.  No.  Historically, folks who look like me haven't had a good time there and I'm not taking my chances.  My only interest is in moving forward and helping to create a country where melanin doesn't determine whether a person is randomly quizzed on their authenticity as an American, or used as a mechanism to put people at a disadvantage by the sheer fuckin' happenstance of being born with more of it than less. This?  This I want more than a blue crested blazer, ya hear me?  I.  Want.  MY.  Country.  Back.

* Even if they don't call 'em 'goals'.  (ahem)  True story.


Things you can do right now to help create such a place:
     - Inform 'yo self.  (Here [source: The Ohio State University])
     - Watch this YouTube of White Like Me
     - Stop waiting for the change and start bein' the damn change
     - Take the Harvard University Implicit Bias Test

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