11 04 2010

Shocking confession of a normal behavior:

Every once in a while, I shave my legs.

If I had it easy, I’d get all the hair on my body removed – except maybe my eyebrows. But that’s costly – and it sounds painful. A needless indulgence. And seriously – the act of removing my hair is followed by a rush of feeling clean and renewed – I couldn’t trade that in for less hassle.

In particular, the process of shaving my head makes for one of the best feelings ever.

I did it earlier this week and it never fails. Bad day at work? Sluggish clouds hanging low? Shave the head.

I step out fuckin’ freshed and feel like myself all over again. It’s as if the hair growing ever so slowly on top of my head is an army of lazy, heavy, depression trying to keep my spirit down.

Sidebar: I lived in New Orleans for a little bit a few years ago and in that city, the public space is a social space. Me being basically shy and essentially content with solitude – it was a change for sure. To be approached on the street – but not by catcallers (though yeah – of course that happens everywhere) but by people seeking meaningful connections – was a revelation. I connected with so many people – we were all so diverse – it blew my mind and when I moved away to my current abode, it was what I missed the most about that city.

Here, it really is just the catcallers. Here, my shaved head stops people in a way that makes me try to act like I didn’t notice. In New Orleans and other places I’ve traveled, I find that the most frequent commenters on my lack-of-hair-style are older women. They express the desire to do the same and all I can say is ‘go for it’.
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Sitting Back

10 04 2010

I just read this personal essay at stuff white people do and need to share it here. I don’t regularly visit that blog, in fact I’ve probably only read it a handful of times over the past year but I saw a link to it from another feminist blog tonight and wanted to check it out again. Kind of glad I did and at the same time, what I just read was fairly upsetting.

Growing up, I’ve often been the one who talks too much and often about things that other people would rather not discuss. I was raised by a mother and step-father who were very successful professionally, very passionate in their personal relationship and very cruel about others. Intentionally or not (not, I’d say), they raised a very conscious girl who grew up to be an often very quiet and at other times, very outspoken young woman. Today I could, at any offensive moment, respond or walk away. I tend to respond because I value ‘teachable moments’ – I cherish what I’ve learned from people who’ve reached out to me to say ‘hey, that’s fucked up’ and I hope to offer the same kind of perspective-changing words if I encounter casual bigotry.

I figure she’s right that on average people don’t speak out – I think a lot of people quietly consent to bigotry without realizing the impact of their silence.

The most significant time that I tried to make something out of ignorance was just a few years ago – my effort was not entirely successful yet somehow was still somewhat positive in the end. As a temp in a corporate setting, I spoke out to a fellow temp without fear of losing my job because hey, I was temporary anyway. I had no expectation of being hired and really, sometimes real life matters more.

It wasn’t the most tense situation in the world but it seemed significant. This coworker asked what the big deal was about a celebrity making a gesture with her hands and eyes that was, essentially, completely, racist (although the coworker didn’t describe it as such obviously). I offered some words about ‘majority’ ‘minority’, and being othered, things like that as she studied the image on her screen of the celebrity. I’m pretty sure the conversation ended with her shrugging her shoulders and us quietly returning to our work.

I can’t remember how I dealt with that moment internally, perhaps a little glad that I said something, maybe a little pessimistic that it had any kind of impact. At the end of the day, another woman pulled me aside to talk about it – she wanted to thank me. I was floored – thank me? I had never heard that one before. She appreciated what I did on many levels apparently and said to me “I live and breathe social justice”. Damn – I thought – maybe this isn’t the worst place to work after all.
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Teen there, Done that

20 03 2010

“But my dreams, they aren’t as empty

As my conscience seems to be”

Perfect words for teenagers struggling with being ignorantly selfish/self-consumed in a small world that hasn’t broken open for them yet. Doesn’t apply to all the world’s youth, of course.

I am several years removed from teenhood today but I still remember the pain of my parents not understanding me – of being branded evil, lazy, shades of worthless. My visions of living in a house without them fueled my forward motion. My creativity and dreams were another world, deep and suffering in a private space that I could share with no one.

In certain moments, I might crave a closeness with my parents that still doesn’t exist (and might never) but to speak that to them, back then, wouldn’t have worked. Our existence was a battle of rights. I moved out at the age of 15.
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