Standing against Racism–Lingering Thoughts on Charlottesville Riots

I wrote this after the Charlottesville, VA riots and murder.   I wasn’t sure if I wanted to post it. But then I wondered—if I don’t speak up, does it look like I am in tacit agreement with the displays of racism?  And if you read here, you know that I  am the opposition (or the opposite, but opposition sounds more active). So, here goes…

I watched. I read. I listened. I cried. I almost vomited.

I am so angry, disgusted and appalled at the outright bigotry, racism, and ignorance that was on display in Charlottesville, VA. This was especially true after watching the entire Vice.com video. Have you watched it? Listened to the hatred, trying to their justify actions?

I never thought that I would see Americans gathering again in such large numbers preaching for the KKK and Nazism. Disgusting. Carrying Tiki torches, like they were at a party, while chanting their nasty, ignorant, racist lines. Then one of their kind killed Heather Heyer,a counter protestor, and injured others—horrifying. We have barely hear anything about the 2 state troopers who were killed, when their surveillance helicopter crashed.

So many people have died standing strong against this bigotry in the past–both as victims and and forces fighting against these groups. Here, it has slithered up again.

Then to have the President of our great nation not stand up immediately and denounce this racism and bigotry was appalling. Embarrassing. At least VA Governor Terry McAuliffe called out the protestors,  telling them they were not wanted in VA.

I know this bigotry has bubbled under the surface for years. But, with the current administration, these voices have become louder, more strident.

I believe in free speech. I also believe that when a group filled with hatred and weapons is given a right to gather, it is only logical to think that the other side will also be there– especially when the organizing side is speaking vitriol and ignorance.

I also believe it was wrong for people to then tear down Confederate statues with no permission, no warning, no discussions.  I agree with their sentiments, but there were other paths. This was vandalism.  I know that many cities have now followed suit and hastily removed statues.

I am doubtful this is the last time these protests and even deaths will happen this year.

I think it is sad that we need to become more vigilant, louder, stronger just to maintain human dignity in this country.  I will continue to resist this movement, and I will speak against bigotry, racism, hatred.

The journey continues.

C

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Conquering Men’s Uninvited Advances

Thank you, Donald Trump. Yes, thank you. Since that video of you surfaced talking about “grabbing her pussy” and the myriad of similar follow-up accusations, the conversation of how women are treated, taunted, poked, and prodded with bodies and eyes has become an open conversation.

Women are angry. Women are vocal. Girls and women like myself are talking about acts that happened to us years or a recent month past. We are admitting to ourselves things we might have buried or denied happened (TOO MANY TIMES) to us.

Trump’s misogynistic behavior has brought to front of my mind harmful words and hurtful ongoing occurrences that have impacted my body image, my eating habits, my relationships with others, my thoughts on sex, fashion, and the world around me since I was a child.

I planned to include some of these events in this post. However, after I wrote them all out, I am so furious and disgusted—and even a little ashamed though I did NOTHING to deserve these slivers of my history—at things that were done and said to me growing up that I have chosen to not include any specifics. Taken singly, they may not seem overwhelming. But collectively they have been staggering to my psyche.

They simmer in my brain, clog my throat with bile, frustrate my soul, and cannot heal that wounded child who stays hidden in my heart. Until now, when viewed all together on paper, they boil over and transform me. Stronger. Purified, like the jack pine tree pine cones that only burst during wildfires. Birth.

I am buoyed up by the women who surround me. Also, by those who have shared their revelations on TV and in the papers this week. I hope that we can gather those memories, pile them high only to light afire, then stomp over them in a dance of fury. These occurrences are part of our histories, our being, but they cannot control us. We will then kick them aside and embrace a new reality of acceptance of ourselves. And other women, with the knowledge that many we know have been forced upon and exposed to, verbally and physically.

I hope that this dialogue continues. I hope that this language of rape, of overpowering, of taking what IS NOT WANTED continues. I hope  it whispers breaths of anger and NO into our daughters, our friends, our silent neighbors, our families. And those tentacles of anger and hope reach into other countries, where women have far less freedom to say NO than here.

C

Parents and Sideline Screaming

Overheard in 2 recent sophomore high school basketball games–

As an opposing team playing was being almost forced out of bounds by two of our defenders:

 Male Fan—he’s being molested out there.

Female Fan, who had been yelling non-stop the entire game, retorted—and the problem with that is?

Male Fan, after long pause—It’s not a female.

My reply, out loud, to the two—REALLYYY??? Major head shake. I couldn’t respond directly to the man, since I didn’t know exactly which DAD behind me said it. THAT is the lesson you are teaching your son? Appalling.

This weekend, we were at the end of an extremely close tournament championship game vs. a local private school:

The refs made a mistake with 5 seconds left, which had the other parents in an uproar. Then with 1 second left, the opposition threw the ball in, and one player for each team ended up on the floor.

A female fan for the other team had been strident and completely one-sided the entire game. When the final buzzer rang and we won the game—as one of her son’s coaches AND teammates both got technical fouls– the MOM screamed

Congratulations on your dirty win!

What a bunch of dirty players!

 And this lovely message was screamed on Martin Luther King Day, no less.

Parents, what kind of message are you sending your kids, their teammates, others in the stands with such obnoxious sentiments? What are they learning from your “coaching” on the sidelines?

I have been on plenty of sidelines where it was my childs team’s parents who were screaming at the players. In a fall outdoor soccer tournament, a group of parents was told by a ref—“Knock it off. These are CHILDREN you are talking do. If you yell again, I am going to remove this whole group of parents from the game.”

Remember that, parents. CHILDREN. I ask my kids about some of the most egregious diatribes, and oftentimes they do not even hear what the loudmouths are saying. But other times, they do hear. And they don’t forget, especially if it is directed to them. How do you think this can impact them in the long run? What if you heard someone directing such negative sentiments to your child?

We teach our kids to respect all and not to bully. So why do some parents think it is acceptable to scream non-stop from sidelines in a forceful, negative manner? Why do you think it is okay to bully and not respect the CHILDREN, coaches, and referees? Game after game?

When your child gets in trouble for yelling at a classmate, how will you respond? He or she is just mimicking your actions.

Go ahead and yell–positive, encouraging words, appreciation for actions well done. Please, please stop the ongoing negative, possibly sexual or misogynistic, inappropriate comments. They can hurt.

C

 

 

 

Egging Stinks!

Open letter to the Hoodlums who egged my house last weekend:

Thanks. For stealing the trust I have being in my home, in my neighborhood, in my kids’ friends who are always stopping by, sharing our food, playing games, chatting.

Thanks. For stealing the only 90 minutes I had to myself the entire weekend, when I planned to winterize my garden.

Thanks. Not. For trashing my home.

I am sure you thought it was funny, when you were throwing eggs onto my windows, my roof, my front porch, the “Halloween ghoul” sitting outside the front door.  While I appreciate a good joke, please know that THROWING EGGS AT A HOUSE IS VANDALISM, NOT A JOKE.

Have you ever tried to scrub off hardened egg streaming down the side of your front door?   Used a putty knife to scrape yolk above your head?  Picked up broken shells scattered around the yard before the dogs eat them? Seen that over half the egg drippings are now congealed above where I can reach them, even on a ladder?

Once the eggs solidify, they are extremely difficult to remove.  They cannot be wiped away, hosed off, left for the rain.  It takes a LOT of energy to expunge the hardened materials from the house.  If we leave them to the elements, they will stain and ruin the cedar, smell, and leave ugly stains.And smell. 

And I am sure you didn’t know—or care—what was happening in our world, our family, our house when you trespassed onto my yard and whipped those eggs around.  I was already overstressed and exhausted from a week of working, running the household, spending 12 hours at a soccer tournament—all while my husband was spending the week with his mom who had surgery and aging father.

Grow up.  If you are bored of your suburban lives, I can show you many kids who live relatively close who would trade places with you for your cars, your freedom, your money, your movie theaters, your bowling alleys, your game systems, your parties, your safety, your opportunities.  And if you want something to fill your days, come by and pull plants from my garden.  The ones I didn’t get to haul out while cleaning up your giant mess.

Thanks again. Brats. 

Cindy, the homeowner

Money, Money, Money

Please stop asking me for money.

When we were kids there were collection tins on store counters, begging for change.

As an adult, those collection containers remain in shops, for anonymous giving.  Several years ago, grocery stores starting asking at check out “would you like to donate to [insert charity name]?”  If you said yes, as a winner they would write your name on a paper balloon/shamrock/rainbow and hang it on the wall for all other shoppers to know that you were a donator.

Me, I would rather make my donations privately, so I was forced to say NO in front of the clerks, other shoppers, sign of a smiling kid starting to tear up. At first I was embarrassed to say no, but the repetitiveness eventually made it easier to stick with my answer.

This weekend I was shocked at the drive-thru Burger King window when asked if I wanted to donate $1 for coupons, for a charity.   NO, I was hungry for a veggie burger and fries.  I so rarely eat food from BK I doubt I would be back to use the coupons.

For some reason, I don’t mind the Salvation Army bellringers at Christmas.  The smiling ones, anyways.  This past winter I had a brief idea of dropping change into each bucket I passed.  I swear, I think those ringers multiplied with that thought, and I quickly began to see 5-10 ringers a day. I changed my offering to giving money to the first ringer I passed each day.

I like the freedom of being able to choose the charities I want support.  There are organizations we help annually. I willingly give to most of my friends and family who are participating in a walk/run/triathlon/head shaving/elephant race.  I buy cookies, popcorn, coupon books, flowers from neighbors and friends.  And yes, we sell some of those coupon books and raffle tickets ourselves.

I am sure that charities must raise lots of money asking every shopper at every store to give to the Important Cause of the Week Fund, but I find it rude, presumptuous. Just let me buy my toothpaste, my milk, my onion rings.  I will make my own donation tonight, from my computer. Trying to publicly shame me into giving money just turns me off. C

Cell Phone Overload

I use my cell phone.  A lot.  For calls, texts, reviewing emails, finding restaurants/directions/the weather, games, to take pictures, to listen to music, as a flashlight; its uses are seemingly endless–sometimes extremely helpful, other times trivial but fun.

However, there are times to turn off the ringer, silence the texting fingers.  When I am out to dinner with friends, we might leave our phones on the table in case our children call.  But, when it is constantly alerting that a new text has arrived, distracting the friend from our conversation to some unknown, it becomes rude. If you would rather be with the person on the other end, then leave.  And answering emails while at dinner, wow.  Go home!  When asked why someone was going through her emails, a friend replied “Oh, I’m just cleaning out the junk emails.”  Not on my limited time, please.

And store clerks, they are people too!  I hang up the phone, acknowledge the people waiting on me, as I find it EXTREMELY rude to act like your conversation about your family squabbles is far more important than the person standing opposite you.  I watched a woman yak-yak-yak through the grocery store, while her purchases were rung up and bagged, while she left the store, and then she circled the parking lot with her overflowing cart as she could not find her car, still yak-yak-yaking.

The dental office has a “phone zone” room, but there are people who ignore it.  Answering a short call is okay, but if you are going to go on about your business prowess, please use that room so I don’t hurl on your feet. Do you think you are on stage, others glorying in your words?  Wrong assumption.

My phone is extremely useful.  It is beneficial to be able to multi-task, catch up  while not chained to my home, making short work calls while working at my Caribou Coffee “office”, telling family the train is late or practice is cancelled, alerting people about emergency situations, just saying “Hi. How are you?”.

But please, spend time with the people you are with, live in the moment, not across the wireless lines, unless it’s truly important.  If you need an intravenous feeding to your phone, please do it on your own time.

When my kids have friends sleep over, I take their phones later in the evening. My daughter and her friend actually asked me to remove phones from an upcoming birthday party.  “They just cause drama,” they told me.  I know that texting is the culprit for them, but we should all do that.  Put the phone away, say HI to the people around us. Don’t hide behind your phone.  And remember not to ignore the people in front of you, whether you know them or not. C

 

Customer Relations? Where is it?

What has happened to customer service?  Common courtesy?  Kindness?  It is stunning in today’s economy that service industries are not focusing on their customer service as a way to maintain their business.  We had an unexpected evening out recently where three separate businesses showed they could lose six customers.  And these former clients will be happy to tell others about their negative experiences.

 

On a busy, whirlwind weekend Bob and I were invited to Chicago with two other couples, including my brother Steve and his wife.  This crazy evening began with an oversized limousine in our driveway to drive to Chicago for the evening.  Though the itinerary clearly stated we were picking up another couple, making several stops then going to a famous Chicago restaurant, the driver was frustrated that we had to stop to pick up our friends.  And what is with limo drivers who do not have GPS today???  And expect their clients to direct them?

 

On a surprisingly low-traffic Saturday night, we were actually early for our reservation.  So, we decided to stop at the bar in the new Trump Tower, since we were all dressed up as an extra treat.

 

“I hate driving in Chicago,” the driver commented several times driving through the busy streets.  “I especially hate it on a Saturday night.”

 

We directed him to Trump Tower, but several mis-cues on the driver’s part led us to being led out on Lower Wacker Drive.  Hey—I was in a limo and wanted to be let out by the front door, not downstairs by the dude peeing and then clanking up metal stairs in my heels.  Ah well, it was a gorgeous night to wander.

 

Trump Tower, beautiful inside.  The desk people were friendly, directing us to the bar, which directly faces the Wrigley Tower clock.  Great views, lovely modern setting, people filling most tables when we arrived.  We ordered an expensive bottle of champagne to share before dinner, telling the waitress we had only a short time, but we waited-and waited more-for her to bring the bottle for us.  So we rushed through our drinks, a bit frustrated.  I noticed as we left that other tables had also emptied out fairly quickly.  Worth a second chance, I think.

 

We then headed to my favorite chef’s restaurant, to be the highlight of the evening.  We directed the limo driver as he lamented further about Chicago, adding that he also hated wet toilet paper, in case you are wondering.

 

They had  changed the long-made reservation from four people to six that morning, to accommodate our growing group. The greeter had seated us, a kindly man.  Then we waited, and waited, no waiter appearing.  It’s a bit embarrassing to have to ask the host in a formal restaurant if someone is going to wait on you.

 

Our waitress acted throughout the meal as if she was doing us a favor by serving us.  As if WE should be thankful to be eating at this establishment.  I worked in the restaurant business for ten years; and I would never have treated customers like this—especially a party of six who ordered several appetizers, meals, several rounds of drinks and (possibly) dessert.

 

Our reservation was later in the evening, so we were extremely hungry when we sat down for our meal.  We wanted to order a couple appetizers, but since the restaurant offered both price fixe meals and a regular menu we were told by the waitress that “the kitchen prefers if you order your meal together” and would not take the appetizer order.  What? “The kitchen” would not let us order?

 

I requested a partial change in an entrée, which she needed to ask the kitchen if she could make.  When two of the men in our group heard my change, they requested the same one.  She was NOT happy.

 

The food divine, the sauces exquisite.  But our waitress never came to explain the meals once we got them, ask if we had any questions, or ask if we needed anything, including more cocktails.

 

It saddens me that I probably will not choose to return to my favorite restaurant in the near future, this being the second visit there this year with excellent food and sub-par service.  I will watch this chef on TV and continue to enjoy his cookbooks (spine is broken it’s so overused). I work really hard for my money.  When I choose to indulge and spend it on myself by going out for a lovely evening, I want to be treated with respect, relax and let someone wait on me for a change.

 

I so enjoy the owner and his cooking—and he always seems like an educated and fun-to-be with man– that I am not going to name his restaurant here, but I am sending him a separate email about the experience.

 

Once our meal was over, our limo was waiting out front for the drive home.  The highlight of the ride home was when I realized my brother was on the phone with someone—who turned was the limo driver who mistakenly called him instead of his friend.

 

“Hey, George, I’m on my way back from where I was coming from,” or some gibberish before he realized it was Steve.  Then, “oh, you are Steve in the back seat, aren’t you?”

 

We had an incredibly fun night of laughter and jokes despite the lack of service from three individuals.  But it did make me realize that customer relations is the key to keeping buyers satisfied and coming back for more.  It’s something to think about for all of us in business, no matter what the industry.  C