Typically narcissistic blogging.

Really?

My Heart is Broken

My heart is broken.

Black children and young Black men can be murdered by cops across the country and their families will never see justice. Black cis and trans women are murdered and get backburnered. The idea that somebody is a “thug” is enough to justify that person’s untimely death.

My heart is broken.

My friends who are parents of Black children are terrified. They live in fear for that this means for them, for their children, for their families. A friend of mine spoke of feeling helpless against the concerns of his teenaged son, who is deeply frightened  by the knowledge that he can be shot any day just for being a young Black male.

My heart is broken.

Yesterday as I walked through Oakland I looked down at the black leather gloves in my hand and wondered if they looked threatening enough to get me shot on my way to drinks and dinner with a friend.

My heart is broken. 

mike brown's father

My heart is broken.

The list of names keeps growing, like the most awful mantra, like a time bomb, ticking away one name at a time.

My heart is broken

Broken.

I can’t breathe.


Unrest

In the wake of mishandling of the Ferguson Grand Jury and their travesty of a decision, people have been staging protests across the country, and predictably, there have been protests and riots here in Oakland. There appear to be two camps regarding these protests and riots: in the first, those who believe that protests and riots are an essential element of social change and in the second, those who don’t want to be inconvenienced (in the form of travel, property damage, or noise) by these actions. In particular, I’ve been seeing a lot of whining about protests causing delays and problems at BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit, for those of you not in the know). I’m not even talking about the jagged razor’s edge of a topic that is looting and property damage, here. Just BART.

And I see, repeatedly, the argument that there were plenty of “innocent” and “uninvolved” commuters who had “nothing to do” with the protest and should have been allowed to go about their days.

I just have a few things to say about this.

I.

This is a point that has been made repeatedly by people who believe in the power of civil unrest, but I feel the need to make it again: Since when do quiet, non-disruptive protests get any attention at all? Since when do they make it into the papers, into the public eye, into history? Did the Stonewall riots help to turn shit around for the queer community because the queers were polite and nonviolent? No.

It is not incumbent on the people who are fighting systemic social injustices to make their struggle for justice convenient to you.

II.

Who the fuck is innocent in a society where systemic racism, misogyny, and various phobias regularly destroy lives, families, and communities? Who the fuck is uninvolved? WHO ON THAT BART TRAIN IS NOT AFFECTED BY THIS? Whether it be positively or negatively, who?

Not one person. From the tiniest baby to the most elderly person on that BART train, every single person is affected and every single person who believes that this brief inconvenience is more important than the lives that have been carelessly cut short is complicit.

III.

When a child tugs on your clothes in order to show you her wounds, you don’t chastise her for getting blood on your shirt. Well, an entire group of people, an entire race is showing you that we have been wounded. Repeatedly. Throughout history. And we are gonna get your attention any way we can.

But, you know. Sorry about your BART delay, bro.


Animal

Hey, kid.
Hop off your tricycle.
Listen.
It’s never too soon to know what you are.

You are Black.

You are.
Black.
A diversity statistic.
A token.
A shoplifting risk.

You are.
Potential trouble.
Definitely trouble.
Going to be suspended.
Not a job prospect.

You are a tangible threat.

Terminology is essential, so keep these in mind:
Y’all don’t rally, you riot.
Y’all don’t assert your rights, you resist arrest.
Y’all don’t find, you loot.
Y’all are not persons fighting for equality, you’re animals.

Animals.

Hey, kid.
Don’t worry.
We’ve got your back.
Three squares a day.
Once we manage to pack you away.

Hey, kid.
Hands up!
Just kidding.
That never works.

Hey, kid.
Nice trike.
Now tell the truth:
Where’d you get it?


Fitting Rooms

For various reasons I am not going into right now, I lost a little over 30lbs over the course of the last several months. End result, simplified? My knees hurt less and my pants don’t fit. I should note that, as a person who will never, ever be “skinny” and never plans to be, I find myself caught between two body weight dogmas. The first tells me I am just buying into systemic fatphobia and the diet industry. The second tells me I should lose weight because pretty=skinny.

Neither is true for me, but it makes me profoundly self-conscious about a personal decision I have made about my body and what I choose to do with and to it. But that’s not why I have decided to write this post.

I have decided to write this post because people keep talking to me as if this weight loss is the Accomplishments of Accomplishments. They exclaim over it with greater enthusiasm than they offer over the fact that I have a law degree, that I know Latin, that I am brilliant, hilarious, and great in bed. Okay, I do get some outright skepticism over that last claim, but whatever. Ladies, you can approach that claim scientifically if you like. My number is [redacted].

I hate being told that I should be super proud of my weight loss. I hate people acting as if it’s the best fucking thing I have ever done. I hate people asking how I feel, as if they have just handed me a fucking Oscar and I am supposed to make a fucking speech.

You know how I feel? Fat.

You know how I would feel if I lost another 30lbs?

Fat.

It has nothing to do with my weight, you see.
fat hearts

The fact is, I’m pretty much okay with this. I’m okay with being fat. I’m less okay with how society has made me feel about being fat. I realize this is something of a contradiction. If I am okay with my body, then why the issues? It’s complicated; I’m a multifaceted Whiskeypants. Let’s leave it at that for now.

What gets me is how much people are not okay with it. How eager they are to praise me for my recently pronounced cheekbones and the fact that I can barely keep my pants up, even with a belt.

What gets me is how they say, “Sweet! You can go shopping now!” —as if all of my body image issues have disappeared and standing in a fitting room no longer sets off every single  issue I still have, no longer fills me with anxiety, no longer makes me wonder why designers won’t even acknowledge people above a certain size. As if pride in my body is directly correlated to my weight loss. (Hint: It isn’t.) Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of what I have accomplished, here. But not because I look 30lbs “better” according to society’s fucked up standards.

What gets me is how they think that my reward for losing weight is getting to wear smaller clothes. Shopping for clothes. Trying on clothes that were designed for people 1/2 my size and never my shape. Buying the clothes that look the least stupid on me.

23NOc6p
Yeah. Tell me more about how I should be excited about that.


Death and Social Media

Not too long ago, my Facebook feed was suddenly peppered with vague posts about the death of somebody who was part of a broader (but quite small) community of which I am a member. People refused to post the name of the person who died.

I was immediately filled with fear and anxiety that I was out of the loop on the death of somebody I might know and care about. It had happened to me with Sparkly (learned about her on Facebook, by accident), and I had been the person filling in people who were out of the loop on Donovan (learned he was in a coma when I was, without warning, added to a Facebook group to discuss it). And what I learned from both of those tragic events is that:

1. It totally sucks to learn these things via Facebook;
2. Learning these things via Facebook is inevitable;
3. Nobody, nobody should be out of the loop when somebody in a close-knit community is seriously injured, near death, or dead;
4. We need to take a serious look at how we handle tragedy on social media.

In the most recent circumstances, a small but very visible and active group within the larger grieving community seemed to think that not naming names would protect privacy, even as they posted details about his death that were far more invasive than his identity. This group was also inclined to criticize those asking for more information. When my very dear friend Rachel, who has lived through more brutal loss than the vast majority of the people I know, finally demanded that people name names, another friend commented, “If you are frustrated by not being in the in club over grieving with us, consider yourself lucky.”

Now, I understand that grief totally kills our communication skills. And this is why not a single one of us called him out on this comment. However, the essence of that comment should be addressed, because Rachel was not the only person who was essentially accused of being a vulture for asking.

I think we need to start with the assumption that nobody actually wants to be in that club. Nobody. If you really think somebody wants to be in that club, it’s time to do some unfriending and maybe look into a temporary restraining order. Okay? So let’s start with that foundational premise. Nobody wants to be in that club. If people are going to glom on for drama, that will become readily apparent, and they will not be anybody’s problem but their own.

I think we should continue with the general awareness that people die. I know, it’s something nobody really wants to think about, which makes all of these discussions about death much more difficult. Rachel’s response to the accusation of wanting to be in the mourner’s club nailed my reaction to this series of vaguebook posts: “Our community is very high risk, and I have lost more friends than I have digits to suicide, drugs, and motorcycle accidents. I found out in a million different ways. Because of this, fear strikes my heart EVERY TIME I hear ‘motorcycle casualty on the 880′ or any time [people] are posting about some unnamed tragedy.”

Marisa filled it out: “I’ve known too many quick-and-deads to ever, ever think that ‘if I knew them, I would know.’ I found out last week about a dear friend…via Facebook. But at least names were named. […]Creating this kind of stress and anxiety in this incredibly high risk group is rude. It’s not telling anyone how to grieve; it’s asking for basic consideration.”

I’m not sure I know more than a tiny handful of people who have not been affected by tragedy and/or sudden death. Hell, just in case you think I am being insensitive, I have been struggling with depression and suicide ideation since I was a child. To top that off, I ride a motorcycle. In reality I–or any of us–could die any day. Every day. So many of my friends are similar: they suffer from extreme depression, are risk takers, get into accidents, and some of them have died. We are high-risk. With regard to the death of loved ones, I have not always been in the immediate loop. Nor would I expect even my closest friends to be in the event of my injury or death. Too many breaks in communication can happen. So assuming:

A. that everybody who should know does know is wrong.

B. that not naming names has no effect on those who didn’t know the individual is wrong.

C. that people who ask for the identity of the deceased are just social media vultures is—you guessed it—wrong.

I think we also need to think about how we handle information. Talking about a death in the community, not naming names, but offering other extremely private details is kinda like creating a really screwed up guessing game and it protects nobody’s privacy, ultimately.

For the record, when people understandably don’t want to guess, calling them vultures for asking for information is going to result in some ruffled feathers, especially when you have given just enough information to create the need to ask for more. You are hurting. I get it, and I have been there. I am so very, very sorry for your loss. But freaking out a bunch of your friends and then slapping them down when they ask for information is not the way to handle it. As my friend Normal pointed out in an analog example, “I don’t go to Lucky 13 and yell ‘one of us died and I feel sad!’ and then walk off to the bathroom without expecting a lot of follow-up upsetness.”

fat amyNorm gets a gif for that, because she nailed it.

We have all lost people. We are extremely aware of how truly fragile are the lives of our friends, family, and loved ones. And when somebody in a close-knit community feels the need to say that somebody who was a part of the community died, but not who it was, it does far more harm than good.

If you are going to withhold information out of respect to families and partners, consider withholding all of it and finding a more private forum for your initial response. In examples I have seen and heard of, some folks refused to name names publicly but explicitly offered to if contacted privately. It turns out I didn’t know the deceased, and I had the amazing and unfortunate privilege of getting to struggle with a feeling of intense relief even as I watched people I care about grieve.

I have read everything his friends have posted about him, and I have let those posts give substance to the person my friends have lost. This post is not about the fact that I don’t care; I do. This post is about the fact that people need to know, even if just to learn that their hearts won’t be breaking, this time. 


Different Lenses

Not too long ago I was in Mexico, at a beautiful hotel with a beautiful view. And I took pictures, and posted various photos and experiences to Facebook. And I was told by more than one person to put my phone away and just enjoy my vacation.

My gut reaction, which I did not share with anybody but my girlfriend, was: “Fuck you for telling me how to enjoy my vacation.”

middle-finger-x-ray_large

I’ve been thinking about it since then. Sure, there are the workaholics who really should try to leave their work at home, who can’t stop themselves from responding to work emails, reading up for the next big meeting, doing final edits on memos, briefs, and other shit nobody should be doing on their vacation (on the other hand, work at a beach > work at an office, so it’s still an improvement). But I wasn’t doing any of that. I was merely doing something I find fun no matter where I am, and I can’t for the life of me figure out how posting pics and articles to Facebook was ruining my vacation.

It didn’t stop me from enjoying poolside cucumber margaritas. It didn’t stop me from spending hours on the balcony hammock, watching sunsets and pirate ships. It didn’t stop me from enjoying the ridiculously tasty food. It didn’t stop me from interacting with and talking to people.

I enjoy the shit out of social media. I love having platforms on which I can be my usual opinionated self and where people can quietly block me if they are tired of my voice. I love having a place where I can share my experiences, thoughts, pictures, blog posts, and found material with my friends. I don’t think of social media as some kind of addiction holding me back from experiencing life. I think of it as a place where I can show people I love what I am experiencing, how I am experiencing it, why I am experiencing it that way, etc. Before social media, and some of the people reading this may remember it, I did this via mass email. Without social media, I’d find another platform to do all these things. It’s just part of who I am, and being able to share what I share, how I share, and when I share it makes me happy and ultimately enhances my experience.

I’m reminded of a complaint that, if memory serves, came from the ridiculously talented Audrey Penven, that people too often tell photographers to stop taking pictures and just experience the moment. I’ve seen such comments before and I have always wondered why people cannot realize that, for some, being behind the camera is experiencing the moment. We all see and share with the world through different lenses, and some of us come equipped with extra.

2013-07-23 20.42.10Yeah. How can I ever appreciate this sunset if I take a second to click a button on my camera?
VACATION RUINED.

Now, here’s the thing: I don’t care what you think about the evils of social media. I don’t care if you think it’s a blemish on society, if you think it’s ruining our children, if you are tired of selfies and pictures of cats. I don’t care if Obama himself appointed you the Sheriff of Phoneville and the Minister of Social Media in one. I don’t care if you are the fucking King of Twitter. I don’t care if you see pictures of people on their phones and heave great big sighs of disappointment that tech has ruined EVERYTHING. I don’t care how many shitty smartphone-related anecdotes you have to share with me. I. Don’t. Fucking. Care.

I don’t care that you would choose to experience your vacation differently. I don’t care that you think vacations should = a lack of online connectivity. I do care if you decide that you are the expert on the Whiskeypants Experience and that you need to tell me what I should be doing to enjoy my life. I do care if you decide that you are the authority on when and how I can use my phone*. Because here’s some fair warning: if you do, I’m going to tell you to shut the fuck up. I’m going to tell you it’s none of your goddamn business. And I’m going to do it on Facebook, with hashtags, in all caps, just to make it even more fun for me.

Got it? Good. Have an A1 day.

*Note: This is about quiet, non-invasive use of phones, not the I’M GONNA TALK REALLY LOUDLY IN THIS PUBLIC SPACE LIKE A COMPLETE ASSHOLE use of phones that is just obnoxious to everybody.


Freedom from/of Religion

whiskeypants:

This is something that happened. And it’s not cool. Please, if you are in the Bay Area, consider taking voice lessons from my amazing friend. And/or pass this along to your friends.

Originally posted on No Inside Voice:

As my heart is reeling from news of being laid off from my regular church today, I go back to a story. These all start with a story, all rife with feeling and promise. This one’s about a church.

In August 1999 I returned from New York. My mother had been dead a year, I was recovering in turmoil from a recently broken relationship that I had thought would last forever (I was 23. Of course I thought that.), I had been put through the wringer. It was January of 2000 before I licked my wounds enough to get back in the game. I needed more money than my DayJob provided, and I wanted to earn it by singing. But where to start? Where any tenacious, operatically-trained career rebel starts – the yellow pages. (For the younger folks in the audience, this was a book of businesses listed by type…

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