Sunday, December 30, 2007

Why Suffer Fools

Recently, I read a post, On Shattering at Close Range, in a blog that I highly recommend for intelligent writing that makes the reader think, in which the writer made some observations about a boorish dinner guest who made bigoted comments, evoking discomfort and disapproval on the part of the other guests. I left a comment in which I questioned why, when someone makes a bigoted comment based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic class, religious belief, etc., the rest of us behave as if we are the ones who have  done something embarrassing.  I've been thinking about this issue ever since.

It seems to me that bigotry is nourished by our silence. It doesn't matter that the object of the bigotry is not present at the particualr gathering.  Seldom are the distasteful remarks made in the presence of the group being discriminated against; does this make the comments any less reprehensible?

There is a scene in a film starring Gregory Peck, "Gentleman's Agreement," in which a non-Jewish woman tells a Jewish friend, who is a decorated veteran of WWII, of boorish, anti-Semitic remarks made by a dinner party guest. Her Jewish friend repeatedly asks her, "What did you do?" She doesn't understand the question and variously responds that everyone else ignored the man, felt embarrassed for him, etc. Finally, she really hears the substance of his question, "What did you do when you witnessed this man's bigoted commentary?" Upon understanding the question, she looks away, unable to fully face her friend's gaze, finally comprehending that silence in the face of bigotry is a sort of agreement to overlook the bigotry and in doing so convey to the perpetrator a tacit approval of his or her beliefs.

I first read the book and saw the movie when I was in my 20's, and I've never forgotten that scene.

The film was adapted from a novel of the same name by Laura Hobson, and published shortly after WWII when the world was still trying to understand the how and why of the horrors revealed in the camps. I've always thought that Hobson was challenging us all to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, "What did you do?"

This is not a rhetorical discussion for me.  I am a news junkie and everyday the news is filled with behaviors that have at their root bigotry and prejudice. I can't but wonder what it will take for humankind to become intolerant of intolerance. When will the bigoted boor be asked to leave the party? When will the rest of us make the bigot feel ashamed to espouse such hatred in front of us?

I have had people suggest that I am consumed with self-righteousness because I  have no problem calling someone out for their foolish, bigoted commentary. I used to try and appease those people and tone down my challenge of the bigot's comments. It's a new day, and if challenging prejudice, bigorty, and discrimination makes me self-righteous, then hallelujah and amen, I'm self-righteous. The other argument that people frequently offer for remaining silent is that we are all entitled to freedom of speech. I firmly believe that. One of the reasons that I became a lawyer is because I believe in the principals espoused in our consititution, including freedom of speech. However, freedom of speech does not mean that I have to allow your words to go unchallenged. When I choose to challenge bigoted speech, I'm exercise my right to speak freely.  Why should someone else's freedom of speech supress my own right to freedom of speech? If you're bold enough to speak and/or behave as a bigot, don't hide behind the Bill of Rights; you put it out there, now suffer the consequences.

If we witness bigotry in words or deeds, and say nothing, then we are condoning that behavior by our silence.  Bigotry is the nasty seed that breeds hate, feeds wars, engenders genocide, and nurtures holocausts. In the words of Albert Einstien, "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

Music is by Tracy Chapman, Talkin Bout a Revolution

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Taking a moment to stand under the mistletoe

There are so many serious topics that I could address; however, I'm not in a mood to take on the serious; instead, I've elected to be gloriously silly. My blogami, Marc, has contributed to this silly mood with a delightfully humorous post that has given me many giggles. The pictured holiday greeting card is also courtesy of Marc. If you stare at it long enough, you'll catch a glimpse of the gnomes.

In addition, I finished up work early today, so I'm free to go out into a world of people gone mad--the nearest shopping mall. Have you ever noticed the similarities between the crowds at the mall during the Christmas season and the crowd scene in the 1931 Frankstein movie? You know, the one where the mob chases down the monster, carrying torches and sets the windmill on fire. (I prefer the later film versions in which the monster is portrayed as closer to the intelligent and lonely creature in Shelley's novel.)

So I'm off to the mall to join in the bedlam. Now, where is my torch?

New music is by Aaron Neville, Please Come Home for Christmas. If the music doesn't play automatically, just click on the title to listen.

Monday, December 10, 2007

How to avoid doing what I need to be doing

I'm feeling a bit stressed. Too much work to do and not enough time to do it. I remind myself that I will no doubt manage to complete all necessary tasks in a timely fashion, but nonetheless, I'm feeling overwhelmed and tired. I'm also feeling stupid because some of the stress is self-imposed. I said "yes" to helping someone with a project when I should have said no. (Note to my Blogami: Yes, I know that I have an unhealthy desire to please and that's what landed me here.)

However, rather than wallow in my despair, I've decided to engage in a little meme that I found in Mia's journal. Okay, truth is that I've already completed my wallowing and now I need something to amuse me and to ensure that I thoroughly satisfy my procrastination gene's appetite.

Following are the rules. There are always rules. Did you think that there woudn't be rules?

Use the 1st letter of your name to answer each of the following ... they have to be real places, names, things...nothing made up! You CAN'T use your name for the boy/girl name question. Let me know if you're playing so I can click over to your journal and read your answers.

What is your name - Sheria

 4 Letter Word - slut (it's a term of endearment used as a greeting between me and my dear friend of some 30 years, as in, "Hello slut, have you been behaving yourself?" Caution: If your mother, who sounds just like you on the telephone, is visiting, don't let her answer the phone.)

Vehicle  squad car (I've ridden in one. Don't go there, my dad was a police officer.) 

City Seville (Oh to be in the south of Spain!)

Boy Name - Sebastian

Girl Name - Salome    

Alcoholic Drink Scarlett O'Hara

Occupation -Sailor

Something you wear Silk

Celebrity Sidney Poitier

Food - Samosas

Something found in a bathroom   soap

Reason for Being Late super hero (I'm secretly a super hero and I never know when I'll have to take a few moments to save the world.)

Cartoon Character Sylvester the Cat

Something You Shout  Sweet cheeks! (You shout what you want to and I'll shout what I want to!)


Animal snow leopard

Body part shin

Word to describe you sassy

Tags: , ,

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Embracing Me or How I Became a Red Hot Mama

This entry began as an email to my blogami, Marc. (Don’t you just love that word? Marc found it. Ami is French for friend.)  He wrote me a very thoughtful email in response to my email response to his comments to my journal entry on dating. I started an email response that just grew and grew and voila, a journal entry! Marc Olmsted also created the artwork that graces this entry. He calls his creations Hy-Art as they are a hybrid mix of two or more classic works of art combined in such way as to present a new vision of the original works. Go to his journal for other examples of his artistic creations.


I have come to realize that I have finally arrived in a good place when it comes to self-image and self-love. It’s been quite a journey getting here. As a child, as an adolescent and as a woman, I was convinced of my utter unattractiveness, that I was down right ugly. My mother didn't help, as she was highly critical of my appearance. In her eyes I was too fat, too dark, and my hair was too nappy. She was constantly putting me on diets, buying skin lighteners by the gallon, and using a hot comb to straighten my hair. However, what she believed was a reflection of the message that the larger culture was sending and in her own way, she was trying to give me the tools that she thought that I needed to make my way in the world. My mother's skin color reflects the miscegenation on her father's side of the family. My grandfather's father was a white landowner. I get my skin tone from my father's side of the family.


Everyone is impacted to some extent by cultural norms of beauty, but for a black girl growing up in the fifties, there was nothing to reflect that there was anything attractive about being black in the media images surrounding us. Lena Horne was the epitome of black beauty, because her features were more European (which she enhanced with plastic surgery), her skin was caramel colored, and her hair was straight in texture and then softly curled. The entire message from within and without black society was that lighter skin and straight hair was better.


I broke out of bondage a few times. The first time was when I was 14 and decided that I wanted an Angela Davis style afro. My mother was horrified but she eventually just gave up and ignored my embarrassing do! However, by the time that I hit my twenties, chemical relaxers were all the rage and I began getting my hair chemically straightened. The advantage was that unlike hot comb straightened hair, chemically relaxed hair could survive rain, showers, and swimming pools for about 8 to 12 weeks before reapplication was needed. When the Jheri curl hit the scene, I switched to what was a less debilitating process for the hair and was happy with my controlled curly look for years.


However, I was still fat and dark and convinced that I was one step away from grotesque. It wasn't until I hit my thirties that I made peace with my skin color. Partly it was due to Whoopi Goldberg's one-woman show in which she adopted a variety of persona's and engaged in comic monologues with serious undertones. I was particularly struck by her creation of a six-year-old black girl who was wearing a white man's shirt on her head, and referred to it as her "long blond hair." In a monologue less than 10 minutes long, Whoopi skewered the whole notion of "good hair" (straight, silky, more like white people's hair) and "bad hair" (kinky, nappy, more typically black people's natural hair texture).  Her six year old persona was also concerned about being "too black," and Whoopi used her humor to point out the ridiculous beliefs that powered such nonsense. I didn't shed years of insecurity in the course of watching her performance but I started the journey to self-love.


At some point, I later read an article by Audre Lourde on the politics of hair, in which she talked about the complex societal issues that surrounded black folks' hair. I don't remember all the details, but there had been several lawsuits involving employers attempting to ban certain hairstyles from the workplace as being unprofessional, hairstyles typically worn by black people--braids, cornrows, twists, afros, and locks. Ms. Loudre made me think about the politics of hair in an entirely new light. [Lest you think that this issue of hair is a thing of the past, this summer, two women who worked at a corrections facility in Virginia were fired because their supervisor decreed that their natural braids and locks were inappropriate and extreme hairstyles, and they refused to alter them. In 2006 in Virginia Beach, Kokoamos Island Bar refused admission to people wearing their hair in locks, twists, cornrows, or braids.]


My real eye opener came when I turned 40. Several of my lighter complexion black female friends and virtually all of my white female friends were bemoaning the wrinkles and crinkles of aging, but my darker sisters and I were as smooth as we were at 30. For the first time, I begin to see a real advantage to darker skin. As my good friend H wisecracks, "Black don't crack." The extra melanin in darker skin is a real advantage when it comes to showing the signs of aging, as much of the damage to skin is done by the effects of exposure to sunlight. Vanity is my name.


In my forties, I began to experiment with more natural hairstyles. I gave up the use of chemicals to alter my hair texture. I wore braids with extensions, which means that the hairdresser braids your hair while adding in extra hair, artificial or human, to add length and/or volume to the style. But a little over a year ago, I went through another hair evolution.


Not long after Imus’ remarks about nappy hair, I decided to forego the extensions that my hairdresser added to my “natural” do to provide increased length and volume. Actually, decided is not exactly accurate. I had an appointment for Saturday morning to get my usual twists with extensions added. On Friday night, after I had removed the current crop of added human hair, my hairdresser called and announced that she was overbooked and couldn’t see me until Monday. I had only two options, stay in all weekend or give myself a hairdo. I washed and braided my hair that evening. The next morning, I unbraided my hair into a decidedly nappy afro.


I called my sister. “I have a fro. I think that I like it but I need input. Can I come over?”


My sister has a glorious head of locks and I trusted her to tell me true as to whether I was rocking the fro or just delusional.


When I walked in, she gave me her emphatic approval of my new/old style. Since then I’ve been sporting truly natural hair with no extensions. I’ve rediscovered my own hair. Sometimes I wear an afro, at other times two strand twists and my current favorite is a look known as the twist out. The nappy texture of my hair is essential to my ability to wear these hairstyles. I love my nappiness; it takes me back to my youth, when I first wore an afro.


I've also come to like the woman that I see in the mirror. She's attractive. Her skin is a smooth and glowing mahogany color, her hairdo is cute and sassy, and she has a beautiful smile. I'm also no longer afraid of a full-length mirror. I'm buxom, curvaceous, womanly. A few years ago when I committed to losing weight it was because my excess weight was taking such a toll on my physical health. I had long given up the notion that I could be attractive and saw no point in fighting the weight battle; I would still be ugly. But as my health slid down hill, I realized that I wanted to live more than I wanted the numbing comfort of food.


I confess that I'm proud of myself. As I have mentioned before, to date I've lost 148 pounds. No surgery, no pills, just treating myself to healthy food and exercise. I feel younger which is good, because now my feelings match my unlined brow. Told you that my name is vanity.


I admit that I would like to be a part of a twosome. I haven't been in a relationship in quite some time and looking back on past relationships, I recognize that they were for the most part, emotionally unhealthy. I didn't love myself, how could anyone else love me? I made bad choices, selecting men who were unobtainable for whatever reason, and men whom I knew would ultimately leave me. I'm wiser now, and I know that I deserve better.


I don't like being rejected, but then again, who does? I really appreciate the kind words and the supportive advice that I receive from my postings about my online dating woes, but I really am okay. You see, I think that I'm an interesting, funny, sexy  woman and any man would be lucky to have me. I'm also pretty damn cute! 


Saturday, December 8, 2007

Another Journey into the Twilight Zone of Online Dating

It's the time of year when little children are dreaming of dancing sugarplums and I'm dreaming of a date for New Year's Eve.  I've never seen a sugarplum and I can't recall the last time I had a New Year's Eve date, but each year, I still ask Santa to bring me one; the date, not the sugarplums. I decided to do a Google search, and discovered a great many recipes for sugarplums. Some of them actually have plums in them. There is also apparently a variety of plums know as "sugar plums," but I should have ordered them in August; they have a very short ripening season.

No more visions of sugarplums dancing, it's time to return to the dating issue. My subscription to expired one week ago and I have elected not to renew it. I think that I first signed up with eharmony about 18 months ago. My first subscription was for six months ($173.70) and my second was for 12 months ($251.40). Even though the first six months didn't yield great results, naturally I renewed for 12 months because it was a better bargain.  I own lots of stuff that I don't need or use because it was a bargain.

So when my eharmony subscription expired last week, I decided to be strong and ignore all the renewal reminders that I've received over the last three months. As a result, eharmony has pulled out all of the stops. I've received an average of five matches per day since my subscription expired.

Eharmony is evil and tricky; they send me the matches, allow me to read their profiles but if I want to communicate with any of them, I have to rejoin. Get thee behind me, eharmony, I will not succumb to temptation!

I just spent the last hour perusing my new matches. (It can't hurt to look!) It was a good use of my time because it reminded me of why I have decided to forsake my eharmony membership. If you have never used eharmony, then you may not have heard of its 29 key dimensions of compatibility. By matching those dimensions, eharmony is able to match you with your potential soul mate. It's a scientifically proven method of matching and eharmony is the only service to use it. Stop laughing, I also still believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Oral Roberts.

I'd like to share some highlights from my scientifically selected matches. The names have been changed to protect me from potential liability. First I read Paul's profile. He's divorced, 6 ft, age 56 and he doesn't want more children. This is a good thing as my womb doesn't want any either on account of this menopause thing. One of the profile questions asks, "What is the most important thing you are looking for in a partner?" Paul is honest; his response--appearance. However he is "not a superficial person" and he wishes that the one thing that more people would notice about him is "his sense of caring." The one thing about him that only his best friends know is that he's "sensitive." I can't image how he's managed to keep his sensitivity and caring under wraps for all these years.

Then there's Larry, Harry, Sean, and Dave, all clearly very busy, as they didn't have time to answer all the questions, responding to 40% of the questions. Who knows, I may be compatible with all of them but alas, I'll never know!

Some of my matches are quite talented. For instance, there's Jason who, in response to the question to share something only his best friends know about him, shared that he can tie a knot in a cherry stem with his tongue. I would be more impressed except that I can do it myself and I don't need any more cherry stems with knots in them. (If we ever meet face to face, just ask, provide the cherry and I will demonstrate my talent. I forget why I worked at mastering this skill but I was in college when I perfected it.) 

I like Charles, who is most passionate about two R's--reading and rollercoasters.  However, I'm not one for rollercoasters. After a particularly perilous ride in my 20's I promised God that if She allowed me to survive that I would never plop my fanny on another rollercoaster ride. However, I took his interests in such as indicative of his adventuresome nature. I also liked his response to the query regarding what do only his best friends know about him: he once showed Mel Blanc the location of the restroom at Cal Poly University Union. He sounds funny and charming but I'm sticking with my resolve to refrain from paying for a man ever again. I will not renew! Charles, if you are reading this, call me!

I can't end without mentioning Ken. I'm pretty certain that English is not his first language based on his use of language in his responses. I don't say this as a put down; I can only imagine what my own responses might inadvertently say if I were to write them in French, a language that I once spoke with some fluency but that I haven't made use of for 20 years. The final question asks if there is any additional information that you want your potential match to know about you. This is Ken's answer exactly as written: "I believe when someone is in stage of choosing him or her, there should be accurate knowledge about criminal sexual history of their partner. So that there is least chance of getting a partner with objectional background."

I think that Ken and I would get along just fine, as I don't have a criminal sexual history, at least not to my knowledge.

For the next couple of weeks, the music will be of the holiday kind. First up is Christina Aguilera singing Merry Christmas, Baby. If the music doesn't begin automatically, just click the song title to hear it.

Mea Culpa

I have a few comments about my last entry posting the lyrics to a song that I found very funny.

I apologize for being insensitive. If the victim of the "violence" in the song had been  a woman, I doubt that I would have viewed it as amusing. I was insensitive and didn't think about it as connected to any reality. The friend who wrote the song is a wonderful man and he wrote it as a humorous piece and wasn't condoning any type of domestic abuse. There was a series of events involving an over night guest, a wayward pet under the guest bed, and boxing lessons that inspired the tune. For my 50th birthday, my friend provided me with the only recorded copy of this song and it had the desired effect; it made me laugh. The irony is that my friend is a man who is a champion of the downtrodden and abused, and I confess, he was reluctant for me to share his song. Clearly, he is also wiser than I am.

In comments and emails, several of you have pointed out that domestic violence is a serious issue. I totally agree and I did not set out to trivialize such a serious problem in any way. For a two year period, I represented victims of domestic abuse in court, helping them secure restraining orders and child custody orders against their abusers.

I do not find this song offense and I am not apologizing for the song.  It still makes me laugh and I think that my friend is a very clever satirist. His song seems far removed from the reality of domestic violence in my mind. However, I am apologizing for my insensitivity in not recognizing that its subject matter was potentially disturbing and offensive to some.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Love and Pain Go Glove in Glove

As my friends and family know, I have an offbeat sense of humor. I like novelty songs, those intentionally humorous comedic narrations put to music like Ray Stevens' The Streak, or Elmo & Patsy's Christmas classic, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. 

As a result, someone that I may or may not know, gave me a unique present for my 50th birthday two years ago,  a recording of an original novelty song that he or she wrote. I recently asked him or her for permission to play the song in my journal. He or she said that if I identified him/her in any way that he/she would kill me. He/She also said that I was not to acknowledge that the composer and singer of the tune is anyone that I know, again under pain of death. As long as I adhered to her/his request, I could use the song.

So, I may or may not know the man or woman who wrote this novelty tune. I will suffer torture rather than reveal her/his identity, because torture is preferable to certain death should I speak the name of this person that I may or may not know. (Note: For those of you who sometimes take me far too seriously, she/he did threaten to kill me but I don't think that he/she meant it.)

To listen to the song, please click here.

The lyrics are posted below. The fun of novelty songs are the lyrics. Of course, I had to listen to the song three times in order to write down the lyrics; there may be errors. I also love the unknown person's deadpan delivery of this tune.

Killer (Down Goes Frazier)

I’m in love with a tall silly girl

She’s every light that shines in my world

But there’s just one thing ‘bout her makes me blue

And if you got a minute

I’ll share it with you



She’s a boxer

And sometimes she gets mad at me.


I’m as happy as a man can be

To have that girl with me.

But if you said some things can be better,

Well I’d agree,

Like I wish that I could count pass by three.


Repeat chorus

I didn’t want my baby to be bored,

But she found a trainer from the psychiatric ward.

He showed her how to sting like a bee.

She’s landed every punch she’s learned on me.


Repeat chorus

I bought her a wedding band.

She knocked me out later with the same hand.

Her neurologist friend knew what to do,

But for some reason he hit me too.

Think he might be a boxer

I don’t know why he’s mad at me.


No one ever said that love is a thorn less rose

But when I ask my baby to let me get in close

For some reason, she won’t let me in.

I try to kiss her;

She uppercuts my chin.


She’s a boxer

Love’s gonna be the death of me.


If you want to steer clear of total mayhem

Don’t let her catch you under her bed at five AM.

She won’t buy your story about the dog,

And for the next six months you’ll just see a sparkling fog.


She’s a boxer

She’s a boxer

I love her but I forgot her name.

Ah, she’s as pretty as a butterfly

But she hits like Ali

She’s a boxer,

But sometimes she gets mad at me.