Kiss5Tigers

The 5 Tigers represent the big things in life. This blog is about facing them.


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Isms and Whiteness

I’ve been thinking a lot about isms in the past 24 hours.  Before I start, I want full disclosure that I am white cis het female over the age of 50.  I am a product of my environment in many ways.  I am trying to transcend that, but sometimes I get caught in verbiage I don’t understand or old ways of thinking.

I belong to several online support groups.  Two of them have a high overlap of people so there is an issue that started in one group that spilled over into the second group.  That issue was around perceived racism and observed name calling.

Now I will be honest that I didn’t see much of the original thread.  What I caught was a friend of mine trying to defend his position, and another person issuing personal attacks.  I understand a third party made a comment about ISIS that other people took to be islamophobic.  My friend took the position that it was basic human stupidity not racism, based on the third party being a Fox news enthusiast.  You may agree or disagree with Fox news, but they do have a particular perspective to their reporting.  Another person felt that my friend was being racist and supporting a racist.  At some point the thread disintegrated to such a degree that an admin pulled it down so I am unable to review it.  My friend got banned from the site.

My friend went to another site, and mentioned that he was banned.  Of course people wanted to know why and he told his story.  Obviously he told it from his perspective.  The other person almost immediately chimed in that he was wrong and became personally insulting.  The second group tried to get her to tone it down and stop being so rude, but she would not.  Someone moved to ban her from that site.

The other person went back to the first site and stated that a bunch of racist women were supporting my friend.  That of course got the people at the first site riled up.  So now we have two people having a disagreement that has escalated to involve two forums.

Here’s the thing, it brings up questions for me about how to talk about racism and other isms.  The big question for me is, who gets to decide when something is racist?  Is it the person on the receiving end?  Or is it the person who committed the faux pas?  Because it feels like if it’s the receiver, then there is no room to make a mistake while if it’s the committer then there’s no way to call out someone’s bad behavior.

But what if the person who committed the ism is a POC and the person who got offended was a white man?  And what if the POC rather quickly escalated to bullying behavior?  Is this prejudice?  Group one is very supportive of the POC to the point where it has been suggested my friend is gaslighting, and sealioning.  (Apparently sealioning is when you argue with someone who is trying to leave the situation, that is, arguing to argue, posturing.)  On forum number two, the dynamic is almost the opposite, with the most vociferous people defending my friend and even suggesting we ban the POC.  I don’t know her except for this interaction, and I’m not impressed with her.  She gets heated rather quickly and doesn’t seem to be able to defend her position beyond name calling and stating that certain things are obvious.  Oh, and that she doesn’t owe a random white man anything.  So she played the race card twice.

I am so frustrated by this whole situation.  My friend may well be racist, I don’t know him that well, but I think if he is it’s more institutional racism, not a personal bias.  He has been fair with me and I don’t see him being intentionally racist to other people.  Of course if we agree that the person on the receiving end gets to decide, then the POC would no doubt find him guilty of racism.  If we agree that it’s the person making the faux pas, then there’s no way to call out my friend on the part that he’s getting wrong.

He thinks I am not supportive because I don’t argue directly for him.  I will do that with the admin, not on the general website.  I don’t want to stir things up any more than they already are.  And I do support his right to stand up for someone else’s right to make a mistake.  I get that we want to be allies for POC, women, LGBTQ, and all the rest of what used to be called minorities.  I also get that my friend is being vilified for something that I can’t prove he did.  And he claims he did not do.  (I can’t prove he didn’t do it either.)

I’m so confused.

It’s not the responsibility of POC to educate white folk, but on the other hand if someone is having a problem, it’s incumbent upon them to speak up in a way that the issue can be addressed.  If I don’t know I’m being sexist, someone has to tell me, and probably that would best come from the offended party, even though in another way they don’t owe me anything.

What is the best way to handle situations like this?  Ignoring it only lets it escalate and hurts my friend.  Getting involved has only made me upset, although I don’t think I’ve come across as very upset because I am trying to be diplomatic.  Also I have mostly been asking questions, since I could be completely out of touch.  That happens as one gets older.  I don’t see engaging with the offended person since she was rather vitriolic with my friend.

It just makes me sad.

 


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Don’t Get Cocky

The Universe has a way of evening things out.

Today, I got a call from my support group facilitator.  He is also a peer.  He’d had an active weekend and just didn’t have the spoons to lead this week, so he asked if I would.  Of course I said yes.  I want to be helpful but also I like facilitating.

I went in early and set up.  J and B arrived.  Then 2 more B’s, E and M.  It was a full house.  I started the group at 5 after, just in case anyone arrived late.  I started off by reviewing the rules, which the group mostly stated to me.  I think the facilitator would be pleased to know that.

We did two pages of exercises from the workbook we are using, and the rest of the time we just talked.  Now the usual facilitator is very book oriented.  I am more relationship oriented.  I was glad to see people reach out to each other and provide feedback.

M brought up a good question.  A doctor can, for example, prescribe a particular kind of mattress if someone needs it.  Most of us have doctors who want us to attend these meetings.  There is a cost to the book.  Only $25, but for some of us that’s a lot of money.  If the doctor prescribed the class, would the cost of the book be covered by insurance?  Oh, probably not, because that’s how things work out, but if I went for physical therapy and needed equipment it would be covered.  This is psycho-therapy – at least loosely – and the book is the equipment.  I think we should try it out.

Anyway, I felt pretty good when I left.  I feel pretty good about my facilitating.  People enjoyed the meeting and I think they got something out of it.

I was driving home, minding my own business, when the Universe decided to make sure I didn’t get too cocky.  Suddenly my engine didn’t sound right.  I couldn’t figure out what was going on.  I looked down at the dashboard and saw that the temperature was redlined.  I pulled over and shut off the engine.

I pay for good insurance, so I called my roadside assistance and they sent someone out to tow me home.  I waited about an hour in 100 degree heat for a 10 minute tow.  So be it.  It was covered.  I checked fluids and oil was low, so I bought some oil that I’ve added.  Now it’s too dark out for me to be able to check the level again so it will have to wait for the morning.

I hope the low oil is the whole problem.  If not, I don’t know how I’ll pay for it.  I mean, I have 6 hours of training to do in the next week or so, so that’s a few dollars.  There is always unemployment.  I just need to drive the car around the block or something and see if the temperature shoots up again.

I’m just glad I had The Artist’s Way with me  while I was waiting.  It’s a good read.  More about that later.


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The Need to Connect

I love words.  Obviously I do, since I choose to blog.  I love that blogging allows me to explore an idea in more depth than, say, Facebook does.  Not that Facebook puts a limit on how long a post is, but the format doesn’t lend itself to ruminations of any kind.

Now I like Facebook.  It gives me almost instant access to people.  But lately I am missing the old BBS’s.  I miss the connection of paragraphs rather than sentences.  I miss feeling like I really knew people.  It’s the difference between chatting at a cocktail party and having a meal with someone.  Both are good, they’re just different.

I write letters to connect with people.  I do.  I write actual pen-to-paper snail mail letters.  I’d say, if you want one, contact me; but the internet will be around long after I am no longer blogging and I can just imagine some poor person trying to reach me and I’m not around.  I do have a mailing list and I do send out mail on a regular basis.  In fact, I’m planning to send some stuff out this week.

So what is it, this drive to connect with folks?  I don’t build community much in person.  No, I take that back, I am part of several communities.  I have a friend or two who I met just socially.  I have 2 different groups of work friends from different jobs.  I have more than one friend from support groups.  And of course I have roommates.  Oh, and my extended family (the nuclear family have all passed away, but the cousins remain).  So there are several communities of which I am a part.  I am more social than I give myself credit for being.

And yet I feel disconnected.  The only thing I know to do is reach out more.  Go back to The Cat Site and IUOMA and see what’s going on.  Plan lunches with the work ladies.  Call my family and see what’s up.  Write some letters.

Maybe, if you read this, you could leave me a comment so I know we touched each other’s lives for a moment.


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What I Did Today

Today has been a rather eventful day. Especially considering it was supposed to be a relatively slow day.

The plan was to start the day about 8:30 or 9:00, take a shower, go to Recovery International, and have lunch with a friend. I did actually wake up at 8:45 but it all went to hell after that.

It started with a text message from my daughter: “Dude the last 12 hours have been ridiculous and a waste of $100.”

I knew she was serious because she doesn’t usually call me dude. It took a few messages, and you need some back story to know what was going on.

Daughter is on a road trip with some friends. They went to Rainbow Gathering in Georgia, then spent a few days in Naples, FL and were headed to New Orleans. At 5 in the morning they hit Pensacola and decided to stop. They were going to sleep in the car under a bridge but they found out that someone else had tried the same thing about 10 hours earlier and got shot dead. Now we are talking about 3 girls in a car who don’t know anybody. That means some random person — and in my head it’s a homeless guy bumming a cigarette — told them this story that made them uncomfortable. They decided to rent a hotel room instead. This is the $100. Check out time was 11:00 so they didn’t even get showers.

Then before hitting the road again, they went to a dog park. One of the girls had brought her 2 dogs which seems like a lot but personally I’m glad they had the protection. One of the dogs got off the leash, and someone pulled a gun on the girls. I asked my daughter about this, because I thought the whole point of a dog park was to let the dogs off their leash. She replied, “THAT’S WHAT YOU WOULD THINK, HUH?” And followed it up with, “Fuck Pensacola!”

The problem of course was that they had no money and no food. Uh huh. I’m surprised I didn’t get this call sooner. I’m on unemployment right now and I hadn’t gotten paid for the last two weeks yet, so I said there was nothing I could do. My roommate F gave me $60 to send her. We spent an hour trying to figure it out, and finally I paypal’d it to her. She is in New Orleans now, no further incidents.

The girls lucked out in New Orleans, too. They got an Air BnB a couple blocks off the French Quarter for 3 days for under $150. I might be jealous!

All of this took the hour I had for getting to my meeting. I still had to take shower before I could go and get dressed. I made it to RI but I was an hour late.

What is RI? In this case, Recovery International. It’s a sort of rational recovery program for mental health issues. Dr. Low developed the method back in the 50’s, so that was early days for psychiatry in a lot of ways. He referred to his patients as “nervous” rather than ill. He believed that getting worked up was an expression of either fearful or angry temper. He defined fearful as internal and angry as direction outward. His method is basically to have people talk themselves down using sayings and adages that he calls tools. They might be as simple as “peace is our goal” or as complicated as “people do things that annoy us, not to annoy us,” or even as pithy as “Try not to take your own dear self too seriously”. We meet weekly as a group and talk about how to use these tools in our daily lives.

I was so late, I missed the reading for the day and about half the discussion. At least I got to check in with everyone.

Afterwards I caught up with my friend R. He is the president of the local chapter of DBSA ( Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance )and he was delivering flyers around town. He wanted company while he did it, and basically he bribed me with lunch. It was a good day. I met several people in the mental health field, ranging from EAP workers (employee assistance plan) to the folks at Prism Health (AIDS Arms) .  I really feel like, when I get done with the government, I can find a place in mental health, which is where I want to be.  Eventually.

Lunch was at a place called Henk’s which does German food and has a European bakery and chocolate shop in the restaurant. We got the lentil soup, which was amazing. I also got a salad. R got a side of sauerkraut and a beer with his. Turns out the bakery provides the treats to the Black Forest Cafe, a coffee shop that’s in my favorite bookstore, Half Price Books. Later we stopped for coffee. I had an iced cold brew which was very refreshing. R paid both times, which I thought was very kind of him. Basically, it took us all afternoon.

On the way home, I got a message from my roommate. His meds were ready at the pharmacy so would I pick them up? I ended up going to the pharmacy, the grocery store, and a local chicken joint. I stopped at the mailbox because I was hoping either my new headphones or my book had arrived but alas, no such luck. I finally got paid my unemployment, so I ordered some stamps online. I really like the current round of stamps, they are becoming very creative.

It is finally bed time. I have group tomorrow afternoon so I can sleep in a little. The cats are sitting on the bed waiting for me. All I need to do is take out my contacts. It’s been a busy day, but a good one.


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Being unfriended

I got a private message from someone saying that my comments on her posts only make her feel worse so she was going to unfriend me.  She must have already blocked me because I just happened to be online so I read the message almost as soon as it was posted and I wasn’t able to reply to her.

This makes me sad.  I didn’t know I was bothering her with my comments.  I wish she had said something before it got to this point.  I wish I knew better how to connect with her.

I know her from a mental health support group.  I assume she has issues, but then I have issues.  We all have issues there.  That’s why we’re in a mental health support group in the first place.  I would usually go to that group for feedback, but I don’t feel like I can.  I don’t want to piss her off even more, for a start, but I also don’t want to open myself up to trolling if I really am a jerk.

I don’t think I’m a jerk, but it matters what other people think of me.  Not a lot, but some.  I mean, you can hardly be a jerk to yourself but you might not see how you are being a jerk to other people.  We all get nearsighted and can’t see how what we did affects others.

So tell me I am being difficult for you before you get to the point where all you can do is run away.  I thought we were getting to know each other, but apparently that didn’t cut both ways.  I am sad.  I’m sad that she unfriended me and I’m sad that she didn’t speak up sooner and I’m sad that I don’t know what I did.

 


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Firehouse Gypsy

I went to the Firehouse Theatre with a friend of mine last night and saw a production of Gypsy.  The theater itself is a converted firehouse.  We had fun trying to figure out what the original parts of the structure were.  They give you a blanket when you come in, because the air conditioning is so powerful and it gets very cold in there.  I was glad for the lap blanket.

“Gypsy” is the story of how Gypsy Rose Lee found her career.  If you know musical theater at all, this is the one that gave us “Let Me Entertain You” and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”.  Gypsy was a famous strip tease artist back in the day, working burlesque halls.  The story centers on her mother, though.  And it is heartbreaking.  The mother is not a likable character and yet, by the end, I really felt for her.  It was good casting too, the actress was totally believable in the part.  The actress playing Gypsy had a very Dita von Teese vibe, which is understandable when you know that Gypsy is one of Dita’s influences.

There were a few technical problems with sound so I can’t give it the highest marks, but I would say a solid 8..5.

Firehouse Theatre


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Are You Going?

To Scarborough Faire, of course.

This is a local renaissance fair and I am one of those obnoxious folks who dresses up in order to attend.  I own several corsets and a collection of skirts and chemises specifically for this purpose.

So the first place that I always stop by for a second is Eternal Arms.  You can find them on Facebook.  My friend Dave owns the place, but I don’t really want to visit with him at fair because he is so busy.  It’s right next to a historical re-enactment of a cooking fire, which is run by my friend Provost.  I got to give him a hug because I haven’t seen him in so long.

Next stop was the Frock Shoppe.  I can’t find an online presence for them under that name.  I needed an ink blue skirt to go with the gold and blue corset I was wearing.  I also got a pair of skirt lifters for my daughter.  They had skulls on them, which is her signature image.  If I can find a picture of her in garb, I’ll post it.

Then we went to see the shows.  We saw Don Juan and Miguel, Cirque du Sewer, Iris and Rose, and Christophe the Insultor.  The last two are not for children.  All of them have Facebook pages if you’re interested in knowing more.

Yup, this is what I do with my free time.  I dress up in uncomfortable clothing and walk around outdoors in Texas heat.  I drink some beer, listen to some bawdy language, shop a little, and generally spend more money than I really have.  But for me, it’s a great time.