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Archive for August, 2009

hate_by_glowingkittenYesterday, I found myself mulling about expectations.

I had read this article in Newsweek about the rage against fatness in the U.S. (I first saw it linked from Lesley at Fatshionista), and thought about the article’s main conclusion that people basically enjoy being angry, and having a target for their anger (even if some of it is self-directed).

I also found myself thinking about my dad, who is one of the most easily disappointed people I have ever met. It’s like his expectations far outstrip the world’s potential to provide him with happiness. He gets so disappointed over small things, like a store not carrying a favorite brand of pickles, or people not going along with his plans even if he’s never expressed what it was he was expecting to happen.

In some ways, I go out of my way to avoid this kind of disappointment by having few expectations, of myself or others. And sometimes this isn’t the best way to go. Other times, there are people who would remind me that I have fairly high expectations of some of the people in my life.

A reader named RosieJo left this comment in response to a post on my other blog:

I do think fat bigotry is more acceptable than any other form of bigotry because people who do it shrouded it in “its for their own good. We want to support a healthy lifestyle.” Very few people will argue with that comment, ie very few people see the bigotry for what it is.”

And I have been trying to formulate a response to that comment*, and found myself thinking about it, along with expectations, last night while I was dancing. And the realization that came to me was this:

All of the fat hatred I see makes me so upset because I have an expectation that I won’t be hated.

How nice for me. The commenter on my site seems to have a similar expectation, to somehow be able to avoid being the object of bigotry.

I mean, most, if not all, people don’t want to be the subject of baseless hatred. But hatred is out there, it gets acted on in violent ways, in subtle ways, in systematic ways, in myriad ways. Do I think that because I’m white, I won’t be hated? Because I’m cisgendered? Because I’m straight? Because I’m not poor? Because my mental health status is basically assumed to be normal? Why do I think I’ll somehow get through life without being the object of someone else’s baseless hatred? Because I’m sensitive? That doesn’t spare most of the people on the receiving end of racism and many other forms of baseless hatred.**

Quick story — long time ago, I worked for a Jewish community newspaper. At the time, there was a large trial going on pitting a Holocaust denier against a prominent female Holocaust scholar. One of my jobs was to read the letters that came in via email, and print them out for the editors to review (this was in the early days of email, believe it or not). The email that was received was vile, nasty, hateful, anti-semetic women hating shit to have to read and it literally made me ill. I asked to have the task reassigned to someone else until the volume of the horrific vitriol died down. The editor said no, that it was my job. There were people on the staff who were non-Jewish men who might not have had the same reaction as I did to reading it (but maybe would have been repulsed by it). But I think that the editor challenged my assumption that I somehow had a right to be spared from being exposed to this. At the time, I didn’t see it that way, and I hated him for it.

Anti-semitism, it’s like this old sickness that reappears or maybe is always there, and I can compartmentalize it. Hatred against women, too, seems ancient and something that needs to always be fought against. But my reaction to being hated because I’m fat? Somehow, that is harder to manage — more personal, somehow. Maybe it is because there’s this idea (wrongheaded, but there) that I could avoid the hatred by not being fat. Which makes as much sense as saying I could avoid anti-semitism by converting to another religion, or becoming male. Neither one would satisfy the haters, who would say I was still ethnically Jewish, or not really a man. Ultimately, I’m not the source of any of the hatred, it’s the hater who carries it and spews it and systematizes it. My job is to fight it when it’s in my face and realize who it belongs to.

Here’s where I think intersectionality comes in. I can’t control other people’s feelings, but I can control my behavior, and I can advocate for laws and systems that protect people from actions based on this hatred. Another quick story — also long ago, Mr. Rounded worked for someone who got him a job as an apartment manager, but many of the tasks fell to me. A woman with a son wanted to rent one of the apartments in our building, and she passed the credit check. “Do you really want to rent the apartment to that (derogatory word for black person in Yiddish)?” my husband’s boss asked me. I could barely contain my rage. I ranted that what he was talking about was discrimination in housing, which was illegal and wrong, and that I was raised not to do that sort of thing. Fine, he said. Rent to her. I hated him for putting me in that position. I’m glad I found my voice.

But why do I think I’m entitled to not be hated, to not be discriminated against? Just because I believe that no one should be treated that way, I get a free pass? It doesn’t work that way. What I can do, is take my experiences, and how I feel about them, and allow them to provide me with empathy for the experiences of others. I can’t know their exact pain. I can’t experience it first hand. But I have had glimpses.

I’m not free of hatreds, myself. I do my best to question them. To uncover new biases and bigotries lurking in my own thoughts, beliefs, actions. One of these that deserves questioning is the idea that I deserve not to be hated. No one deserves to be hated. But to expect a life free of being hated is a set up bound for disappointment.

When I realized that I had the expectation of not being hated, and I began to let go of that expectation, I felt lighter and more free. I couldn’t be disappointed any longer that someone might hate me because of their hatred of fatness or fat people. I don’t expect to be hated, but I don’t expect to be spared from that, either. A strangely comforting thought to me is that no one escapes from life unscathed — we are all subject to bruises and scratches and injuries and illnesses and, ultimately, death.

Along the way, to love and be loved, that’s a balm.
(It’s also da bomb.)

* This is connected to privilege, but I am having a hard time articulating how — it’s like privilege is thinking you are exempt from being hated.

** Is all hate the same? I don’t believe so, I think there are times when we are slighted and we have a strong reaction that has to do with being mistreated that causes that to well up in us that is, if not justified, understandable on a human level. But many people never question their hate, and the basis of it, and allow it to grow to a global, hating all “people like that”-level.

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Be_Happy_by_Alephunky

I’m just not used to being happy.  Thank you, depression.  I like being happy… but it messes with my blog writing mojo.  😉  I’m going to have to learn to work with the happiness… 

My best posts seem to spring out of my most difficult times.  When things are going really good for me, I have a hard time knowing what to say.  As you know, posts have been sparse.  I’ve been waiting for me to either be less happy (less happy enough to post) or for inspiration to strike while I actually AM happy.  Well, neither is happening and I am not giving up blogging, so I’m just going to have to learn to write when the climate in my mind is pleasant. 

I’m realizing how much of my life I’ve spent not happy.  Thank goodness for depression and ADD treatment.  😉  Weirdly, the ADD treatment seems to have a larger effect on my depression than the anti-depressants.  My psychiatrist says that some percentage of depressed people are just like that and really do well once they finally find the right ADD meds.  Funny, eh?  It makes me wonder if my ADD (to some extent) has caused my depression….  who knows…  but thank god for ritalin…

Oh yeah… and the white splotch in the picture above next to the word “happy” is totally my doing.  Don’t blame the artist.  Originally it said “be happy!”… which just bugs me, but I still really like the pic.  Command sentences involving emotions annoy me to no end, so I blotted out the “be.”  😉  I think the pic is still awesome even with the big white blotch.  😀

–AngryGrayRainbows

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Cookie_by_f4shi0nabl3

I work in a cafe inside a giant bookstore.  Our specialty is coffee (it has been so much fun to learn to make a latte!), but we also have a pretty neat little pastry case.  We have all the sweet basics: cookies, brownies, cake, donuts, cinnamon rolls, etc.  I have been pleasantly surprised at how few people I’ve heard go on about how “bad” they are for buying a cookie or a latte.  By far, the people who talk about fat and/or calories and the like are rare.  I can probably count all of those I have seen in two weeks on one hand.  But, one customer in particular really struck me…

She was on some long road trip and was stopping in to have a snack, so she could finish the last leg of her drive.  She ordered a coffee drink and it was obvious she wanted something to eat with that, so I suggested a cookie.  Sheesh.  Had I known what her reaction was gonna be, I might’ve just held my tongue to avoid the drama.  Who am I kidding?  I’m not usually one to skip challenging someone to avoid drama.  😛 

She started off with some cliched diet talk about cookies and “badness” and fat or something.  I responded about life being too short to make so much difficulty over A COOKIE.  (Seriously.  Aren’t there more important things in life???  Well, aren’t there??!!!)  She snarkily responded that life is too short to have fat thighs.  Sigh.  That comment inspired feelings of sadness for her. 

This was a fat woman, though my guess is that if she knew I thought of her as “fat” that she would be really upset.  Well, guess what?  I’m fat too.  😛  It’s just a word.  Whatevs.  Like me, her weight seemed to gravitate to her thighs.  This made her comment seem even sadder to me.  This wasn’t just some hypothetical fat hate rant.  She seemed to be talking about herself. 

Had it not been really late (near store closing and way past my bedtime) and had I not been really tired, I hope that I would’ve gone on to challenge her more.  Instead I pointed out that food is just food (not bad or good) and that it’s no crime to eat a cookie that you really want.  I advised her to get what she wanted and to take her time and savour it.  She ended up buying the cookie afterall… and three bags of chocolate covered expresso beans that she seemed to guiltily declare were gifts for friends.  Who cares?  You have a right to buy whatever you want.  You owe me no explaination, ma’am.  But… whatever…

Had I been “on,” I would’ve liked to have pointed out that not eating that diets don’t work, that forbidding foods doesn’t work (with some health related exceptions that I don’t know how to deal with, cuz they don’t apply to me, so I am not even going there…) and that what I really meant was that life is too short for all the self-hate and food obsession that comes with restricting the foods we really love.  It’s not just “life’s too short to not eat a cookie”… it is so much more than that… I wish I could’ve expressed that at the time. 

I did manage to mention something to a co-worker (after the customer had sat down with her drink/cookie and some magazines) how forbidding food causes obsession and even binges in some cases.  His snarky reply was, “yeah… cuz you know that’s my problem with heroin.”  Sigh.  Meaning he binges on heroin all the time (joking statement), cuz he labels it “forbidden.” 

Well, the good news is that I am secure enough in my recovery to be really tired and still not buy into an idea like that even if I’m not sure why it doesn’t make sense… cuz I’m that beat.  😛

Now that I’m all rested and perky – heroin is not the same as food.  Food we need to live.  Heroin is not something that every person is born needing and will die without.  It’s not the same.  Not even close.  If we restrict enough (at least in the case of most people), some part of our brains will take over and push us very dramatically to the highest fat/calorie food in our proximity.  This system is designed to override any desires we may have to make our thighs thinner or whatever.  Life is too darn short to live in starvation survival mode.  Life is too short to be self-hating.  Life is too damn short to make judging ourselves (or others) over cookies a top priority (or any priority at all!). 

Yesterday I watched a movie called “Just Friends.”  Ryan Renolds plays a fat teen that goes on to become a super fit and conventionally hansome grown man.  He later explains something along the lines of his not eating sweets for 10 years.  I also remember something from “America’s Sweethearts” that was similar from Julia Roberts’ character who also lost a lot of weight… something about not eating any carbs for the last 10 years.  What bugs me about this is that these characters say these things like it’s nothing.  Like the restriction doesn’t cause self-hate and sometimes even binges.  They say it like they just switched toothpaste brands for the last 10 years and that is so disgustingly misleading.  It just isn’t that easy for the vast majority of people.  Even so, some folks are still going to be fat even if they do restrict food to a large degree.  Some people will get even fatter for their efforts.  And… I wonder where this woman (with the thigh-hate) heard the messages that fat thighs are a) bad and b) easily correctable through restriction…. because they are neither in the vast majority of people. 

What really gets me is that this woman was beautiful and I don’t even think she knows it.  She has very distinct features… such wide eyes and a big smile.  I thought her thighs suited her body shape very well.  And yet she is wasting so much time worrying about fat thighs and the morals of eating cookies… how sad. 

I hope she was able to enjoy that cookie.  I’ve had one of those caramel, pecan, chocolate chunk ones and they are glorious… if one can get past all the brain noise about fat and the supposed morals of fat to actually notice the flavours and textures of the cookie that is.

–AngryGrayRainbows

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Open Threadiness 08.27.09

Colorful__Asian_Wallpaper_by_Abi_Tea

This week I am on vacation and determined to do nothing productive… so, I forgot the open thread yesterday!  Whoops!

Better late than never…

Hubby is out of town.  I chose to stay behind to take care of our stray.  Last week hubby tried to capture Mr. Orange, but ended up with a bloody knee instead.  Mr. Orange has been off pouting somewhere, but today he finally returned and ate an entire can of food.  Whoo hooooo!  So, my staying behind from the awesome Canadian lakehouse has just become worth it.  When hubby comes back over the weekend, he will set up his new idea to trap our stray and get him to that shelter that contacted me!  Wish us luck, folks.  We’re cat trapping newbies.  😉 

–AngryGrayRainbows

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My Stupid Racist Family Part II

Stop_Racism_by_soulrebel83

For those of you who missed out on part I, click here.  In summary, my mother said my cousin wasn’t invited to any family function in the future (such as the family reunion) because she has a black partner and two biracial children (black and white).  I told her this was racist… drama ensued…

Today I got a few messages from my mother.  She said that she will never speak to me again because I “called her names” (told her she was being racist) and “threatened” her (stated that I will contact other family members to see where they stand on the racism issue and if they agree on alienating family that associates with other races and to see if I could challenge the racism in any ways). 

My mother disinheriting me is just whatever.  She’s been a ridiculous source of toxicity in my life for as long as I can remember in just about every way I can think of.  She’s definitely a pathological liar and I suspect also a sociopath.  In other words, she’s a nasty handful.  Always has been.  I’ve been on the verge of cutting off communications with her for my whole adult life.  The only reason that I ever kept open communications is that I also have no communication with my biological father (he’s one scary character… even worse than my mother), I’m an only child and the rest of my family isn’t close and don’t even return phone calls.  I just wanted some family in my life, but maybe that is even too much crap for too little reward.  My husband would be more than happy if I never spoke to my mother again.  From his point of view, she just drives me crazy with her nastiness. 

I replied with the following email (edited only to protect names):

I am emailing so that my words are documented and will be less likely to be confused. 
 
I never said I would have nothing to do with any family.  I said I would not participate in any family reunion that is discriminatory.  I stand by this, because I do not want to give any implicit “thumbs up” to racist behavior. 
 
As for “name calling”… here is the definition of racism from dictionary.com:
rac⋅ism   /ˈreɪsɪzəm/  [rey-siz-uhm] 
–noun

1.a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule or exclude others.
2.a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3.hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

 I remember distinctly you saying that my cousin could not attend a family reunion because she has half black children.  That is a racist stance and when I see something so horrific, I feel obliged to call it as I see it and say that it’s not okay… because racism is not okay. 
 
Beyond all this, I find it hippocritical that a woman who has been married to a so-called brown person and who had no problem with my ex who was from the subcontinent wants to take some stand on black people.  I also find this personally insulting as you should know that I am not even fully white myself.  My grandmother (bio father’s mother) is 1/2 Blackfoot Indian – as you confirmed for me.  Guess what?  Your child isn’t “pure” white either.  I suppose the whole family should alienate you then?  Or is it okay, because it’s hard to see the Indian in my features unless you know to look for it?

As for “threats”… I’m not sure why you see it that way.  I had planned to contact people and ask them generally what they felt about rumors of family racism without using your name or my cousin’s name, because I spoke to her and she’s not interested in the drama.  Either way, if you stand so proudly of your views of exclusing someone based on the race of their children, I have no idea why anyone stating this would be a threat unless you are ashamed and therefore secretive of your views – thus not wanting anyone to know that you told me that my cousin cannot go to any family function simply because of the race of her children and partner. 
 
I personally really don’t have a clue what Dad (step-dad) thinks about any of this, since he tells me one thing and then you tell me that he said another.  Either he is telling me whatever he thinks I want to hear or you are lying.  I really don’t care which it is, but at the same time these paradoxes are annoying and confusing.  Ultimately, I don’t really care who agrees or disagrees with me.  What is important to me is that I do the right thing and stand for the right things… thus, it is important to me that I stand against racism, do not condone racism and call a spade a spade when it stands proudly before me excluding someone based purely on race.  It takes courage to stand against people who disagree so fervently and see me as such a “threat,” but I couldn’t live with myself if I just stood by and let the people closest to me behave in such ways without protesting in any way. 
 
Beyond wanting to do the right things, I care about the youth of our family (whether you realize this or not).  I care about my other little cousins and their potential for being “cast out” for marrying the “wrong race” or even being gay or bisexual.  What about my own kids?  I certainly will not raise my own children to be racist and I will stand against any person who wants to alienate them for loving a black person or being gay or whatever else.  My husband and I agree that there will be no shame whatsoever if our grandchildren are mixed or even just adopted because their parents are gay.  Having straight kids that marry white people or never marry at all would also be okay… whatever.  I feel a duty to at least try to create an environment of inclusion in this family for sake of my own future kids and other people of my generation in this family… in addition because it is JUST THE RIGHT THING TO DO.
 
I have no idea how a minister’s wife (who takes so much pride in the title) could have so little compassion for others based on the color of their skin.  Racism is such an ugly personal defect that I would hope that anyone discovering it within themselves would at least work to become better people and learn to not judge people solely on the darkness or lightness of skin pigments regardless of family or peer-pressure to do the opposite.

I didn’t send this to try to reconcile.  It annoys me that she twists my words and all that and I wanted to speak my mind clearly and loudly.  I don’t know why I even wanted to send this email, since I’ve learned that nothing I say is going to make my mother sane, compassionate or ethical.  Sending her those words is like trying to talk to a brick wall.  The place where I do feel heard is this blog… maybe I wrote that email so I could ultimately vent to ya’all?  Who knows.  Maybe some part of me deep down still thinks she can be reasoned with… maybe trying to speak sense to her is an old habit… whatever…

Right now I’m just tired and want to be left alone.  So, of course, I went out on the back deck and saw this poor, adorable squirrel in a trap that the landlord put out.  I didn’t hesitate in letting the squirrel out.  My land-lord is a moronic busy-body who seems to think that he’ll spontaneously combust if he’s not making enemies out of stray cats, squirrels or whatever else.  He admitted to me that he does something illegal in capturing these squirrels that he hates and then he dumps them off in a forest preserve.  It annoys me to no end…  Maybe the squirrels are happier in the forest.  I have no clue.  If I was having a better day, I prolly would’ve let the squirrel be and wish it luck on it’s forest adventures.  But, not today.  It was either let the squirrel out or spend the whole evening crying.  I chose the former. 

But… ya know what?  Now, I’ve opened myself up to that dumbass knocking on my door (cuz he will knock on my door for ANY anomaly) and asking me why there is no food in the trap, but no squirrel… plus I didn’t know how to set the trap back up again after I let the squirrel out… I wanted to do this merely to cover my tracks.  😉  I cannot wait to move out of this place.  So, I will get to explain to this jerk how I did it.  Period.  And, I’m sure that he’ll want to have a conversation about “respect.”  He assumes every time I do something that he doesn’t like it’s cuz I don’t respect him.  He’s obsessed with respect.  It was also disrespectful when rather than putting his clothes that were left in the washing machine in the dryer, I set them ON the dryer… so he says.  I did this OUT OF RESPECT, because I didn’t know if he was picky about how his clothes were dried (god knows he’s picky about everything else) and I didn’t want to step on his toes.  I suspect this dude has an ego the size of a hot air balloon the way this guy is so fixated on “respect.”  Agh.  Sometimes I really hate people…

If you’re new to this blog, I suggest you take a look at the Rules, before commenting.  Here is an especially important excerpt:

Be respectful.  Personal attacks will not be tolerated.  No, not even if you want to be cruel to someone “for their own good”…

In case the above doesn’t make this obvious – trolls will be ignored.  Comments that were obviously written to push the buttons of the bloggers or commentors will be ignored.  Comments that straight-up annoy me will be ignored.  This is our blog and we have no obligation to post any comment we don’t wanna.  Nya nya. 

My rants on racism are like troll nectar or something.  But whatever, the attention only flatters me.  😉 A big MWAH to you trolls. 

–AngryGrayRainbows

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beauty.jpg beauty image by lebanese_queen30

Being a recovery goddess brings with it a certain amount of responsibility.  It takes a certain type of person to be a recovery goddess (mind you, not a recovery FAIRY but a recovery goddess).  It takes flair, gumption, spunk, patience and objectivity.

There’s a certain maturity that comes with being a recovery goddess.  The open mindedness that one has to have comes with the life experiences a goddess has under her belt…the good life experiences and the bad. 

A goddess has the ability to reflect back on past circumstances and leave them in the past.  A goddess has the ability to see what’s right in front of her and be appreciative of it.  A goddess also has the ability to see that the future has so much to offer if she only takes the time to cultivate it.

A recovery goddess sees where she is at the moment and accepts it.  If a goddess sees that change is in order, then so be it.  A goddess is self-assured and it shows by the way she conducts herself….head held high, smile and a nod of acknowledgement.  A goddess lives in the moment and not amid the “what ifs” and “if onlys”.

A recovery goddess knows she’s not alone and that she is surrounded by other goddesses all the time.  Judgement is reserved for the actions of others and not the appearance of others.  Goddesses of all sorts exist everywhere. 

We can all be recovery goddesses (and are!) and we can be here to support and encourage each other.  Can you think of other attributes that would qualify one to be a recovery goddess?

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Listen_To_The_Sky_by_Hantenshi

Whooo hooooo!  Open Wednesday!  😀 

I will start the rambling with a sincere wish that I had a jacuzzi in my apartment…  mmmm… hot water jets…  ((drool))…

–AngryGrayRainbows

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