Friday, February 24, 2017

The Revolution will be Merchandized

I'm uncertain about the signs, not the sings we carry at the rallies, but how we find each other. I've bought three t-shirts; Samantha Bee's simple "Nasty Woman," which hasn't come yet, "I Never DREAMED I'd Grow Up to Become a Nasty Woman, but here I am Killing IT!" and I just ordered "Still, She Persisted." I have knit myself a pink pussy hat with ears (that actually make me look like an annoyed cat, because the ears tend to flatten out), and I have a few pins on my knapsack to identify myself of a Hillary Supporting Liberal.

Is this how we find each other? By our clothing choices? Because I really can't wear them all the time. At work I am supposed to wear "business like" attire, and t-shirts with slogans are not permitted.

I wear the hat to and from work, though. People smile at me. No one has said anything suggesting that they think the hat is inappropriate, but of course, that's because I'm in New York City, commuting between Brooklyn and Queens. It's a safe space, which might lessen the significance of wearing the hat. Now, when people wear them to the Westboro Baptist Church, that will be another story. But will that show that we have won? Or will that show that it's become safe and sanitized enough to wear the pussy hat.

In the 20th Century Cynthia Heimel wrote a piece Notes on Black in which she wrote, "If we didn't have clothes, we'd have to walk around wearing signboards saying 'Hello, I'm a radical lesbian mother with a Stalinist streak,' or 'Hello, I prefer you to think I'm athletic.'"  (Heimel, Cynthia.  If You Can't Live Without Me Why Aren't You Dead Yet?  Grove Press, 1991.)  So I guess I'm right after all, we do need to wear clothes to identify ourselves.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Fear leads to Anger, Anger leads to Hate, Hate leads to The Dark Side

41 people were arrested in ICE raids in New York City. ICE raids that President 45 (I will not use the title and Trump's last name together) has said will defend us from terrorist attacks. That was the reason for the Executive Order that was ruled unconstitutional. But less than two weeks after Trump announced that he was going to protect the nation by preventing people from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the country, ICE goes on raids and arrests 41 people in New York City, all of whom were born in Latin America or the Caribbean. Yeah, because the next terrorist attack is coming from......

You know, I was going to make a comment that's probably racist, or would certainly be taken that way, but 45 is terrifying people, tearing families apart, in the name of protecting us from terrorists, but really just shipping out people who he can pick on.
Has he even thought about this?
Two people I know have responded negatively to FB posts of mine (or shared, let's be honest) in the past few days. One accused me of living in a liberal bubble and not seeing West of the East River. The other just gave a thumbs down to a suggestion that people post a picture of President Obama as a profile pic for Facebook on President's Day.

One hurt my feelings. I have lived west of the East River for over half my life. I've only been living in the Eastern boroughs of New York City for the past 16 years, plus for two years in Astoria inbetween college and Graduate School (both at institutions on the Continental United States, and therefore very WEST of the East River. I have spent more than HALF of my life living WEST of the East River.
But she doesn't mean where I live, she means I live somewhere where I don't see "real Americans," because, well, because I don't agree with either of these women, and these women believe they are representative of "real America" because their friends agree with them and know the problems they're having.
The foreclosure crisis is nowhere near as bad as it was 10 years ago, the year before Obama was elected. In 2007 people were talking about banks failing, and the FDIC was increasing the amount it would insure people's cash deposits to $250,000. It used to be only $100,000. Detroit is no longer the ghost town it was.

When 45 one the election, one of the stories was how could the Media be SO wrong? Phrases like "liberal bubble" were tossed around, but it's not hard to shake the feeling that 45 is a fraud. That he doesn't even WANT to be President, because he isn't acting Presidential. He's acting like a spoiled child who isn't getting what he wants quickly enough.
I don't want to engage the woman who gave a thumbs down to the idea of changing your profile picture, though one of my friends did. Perhaps that's the bad thing. If you don't think that 45 is a fraud, tell me why. Come up with a good reason, but tell me what your reasons are.. Just saying "NO!" isn't helping the discussion.
And if you don't want the discussion, don't talk at all.
Fear of hurting somebody's feelings is a powerful thing, though. I could post a link to the Unemployment Statistics to my FB page, but I suspect she doesn't trust facts, and I don't *want* to get into an argument that will (probably) degenerate into ad hominem attacks because that's where these arguments tend to go, particularly when the phrase "bubble" is used. So we have fear, which leads to hate, which leads....
Enter Yoda.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Safe memories

I didn't look around much as I got on the Brooklyn bound Q train, I was just grateful for the Q instead of the N. Changing trains isn't THAT big of a hassle, but it's just so nice to be able to get on the subway at the first/last stop and take it to where you need to get off. You can pick where you sit, make yourself comfortable, get out your book, and settle in.
So that's what I did. I'd been sent to a different branch than my regular one for the day. They'd let me out a few minutes early, and the sun was setting. The sun was setting over the West behind the Continental United States, but I knew that if I sat on the right side of the train I'd get to look out the window and see the sunset over Manhattan, the high point of my day. A coworker once looked curiously at me as I did that. "Film companies give our state MILLIONS of dollars for that view," I told her. "I get it for the cost of a subway token." She shrugged. She was still too cool to think that it was significant, but I loved the view.
As I got out my book, I almost didn't notice the young man sitting across from me. His shoes probably made too much noise as he sat down, that might have drawn my attention, but what I noticed when I looked up at him, just for a moment, was his eyelashes; thick, long, the sort of eyelashes that women spent hours to get and envy terribly when the men they know have them. He sat across from me, also facing forward. I smiled to myself, and began to read.
Two stops later I glanced up, and there was a young woman sitting across from me, expertly applying makeup. She was trying to look older than she probably was. She wasn't wearing enough foundation for that not to be her skin, but her cheeks were clearly painted on perfectly. Her skin was flawless! Odd, I thought the young man was wearing that same colored hat...Where had he gotten off?
A bob underneath her chin caught my attention, and my concern. The young man had metamorphosed into a overly made up young woman while I was minding my own business. Why was he doing that here? Why couldn't he...
And I realized he was underage. Not THAT underage, exactly, he might have been 17 or even just barely 21, but he was probably still living at home, and telling his parents he was going to visit Jim and they were going out, and he securely painted on his face on the subway where no one he knew could see him, and I realized he was wearing panty hose, and I worried for him.
I worried because I was certain his parents didn't know where he was going and that he was going to make sure they never did. Perhaps he figured at some point he would tell them, one day when he was living alone somewhere, when what they thought didn't matter, but right now they could never know. Was he taking chances that he was sure he was prepared to deal with? Did he know what men were like?
I know nothing about being a gay man, but I still don't think a young man going out in drag is putting himself in a safe place, particularly if he has to get into costume on the subway. I don't think he has a safe place to retreat to if things get ugly out there, and I can't help but worry that a young man thinks he knows how men think but doesn't know how they think about women. And I wanted to tell this young man to be careful.
He put on a wig before we got to 57th street. I was suddenly sitting next to a tall beautiful blond woman with long curly hair that made me envious, but I wanted to call out before he got out at Times Square,
"Be careful out there! Give yourself to someone who cares!"
I minded my own business. New Yorkers are known for that. He was young and didn't want my advice. I wasn't sure I even wanted to give it. His world was different from mine.
That was about 10 years ago. Another Republican was living in the White House. I hope that young man has a safer place to put on his face and get into costume.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

How do you grieve? And for what?

I'll tell you, the thing I think I miss most about my Dad is his disdain for fools.
I'm having a discussion with a relative about how we're going to make "Mexico to pay for the wall," and my cousin pointed out that people would be more likely to buy American if Mexico has a 20% border tax on all its exports, and that's not the point. My father would have told me not to bother, and said something disparaging. I'm not listening.
Of course, I'm not listening because my father's been dead for almost 13 months, and he isn't talking to me anymore. I don't hear his voice from beyond the grave, I just *think* I know what he would have said based on years' of experience, and a fair amount of projection.
A few weeks ago I was reading the obituaries in the New York Times. Nicki Scarfo died in Federal Medical Center in Butner, N.C. He was part of the mob in Atlantic City in the 80s when he got sent away for (I think) basic racketeering involving hotels in Atlantic City. That's when Trump was busy buying real estate and turning Atlantic City into what it has become. (In the mid 1970s, it sounded kind of small townish, if Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume is a reputable source.) And I mourned my father, because he might have remembered the case (he had an exceptional memory) and he would have had a smart comment, and we would have commiserated over how awful things are right now. We also would have taken a moment to suggest whether he knew Fat Hugo or Jimmy the Greek, two imaginary gangsters who could be relied on to beat up, injure and maim ANY bully who chanced to make me cry.
But he would have pointed out that I am not doing too badly. And while he would have agreed that I should care for people who are, he might have suggested that I not get carried away. He was always glad when Mom and I went to bond on political causes, but he hadn't joined us in that since....No, I'm not sure he ever joined us.
And what I grieve for is the special relationship I had with my father; he loved me, not someone he wished I would be, not someone he thought I really was. He was exceptionally proud of me, and his chest pushed out when I suggested that I was what happened when he and my mother were trusted with the upbringing of children. But I wondered if that was selfish -- I didn't miss Jack Robbins, I missed my Dad. I miss my Dad who would hold my hand as I walked along a ledge by Teachers' College on the eastern side of Broadway on my way to Nursery School, allowing me to see the world I was going to inherit. I missed a Dad who was always glad to hear from me when I called. I missed....
No, seriously, I worried that I was treating Dad as less than his own person because I mourned the person he was for me, not who he was as himself. I even got all philosophical about it, worrying that as saying, "I missed my Dad" meant that I missed the end relationship that I had with Jack Robbins and not Jack Robbins as himself (treat everyone as their own ends and never as a means, I think the that section of the categorical imperative went).
And then I laughed at myself, as I thought of him laughing and shaking his head at me. "You too hard on yourself, baby. Don't DO that!"
Of course I miss my Dad, and the special relationship I had with him. I was fortunate to have someone who loved me unreservedly, but was willing to discuss my flaws while warning me not to take myself (or my flaws) too seriously. There is no reason for me to have thought to have had a relationship with my father other than, well, father and daughter. That's who he was to me, and if we hadn't shared blood there would have been no reason for him to think so highly of me (unless he'd married my mother after I was born, or had been EXTREMELY creepy). He probably wouldn't have noticed me if I hadn't been his daughter.
So I will try to not be foolish when mourning him, a year after his death. Of course I miss MY DAD, who else should I miss?