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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Can I Do This?

Last Monday, I facilitated a group.

On Monday afternoons, I attend the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance support group, because I have bipolar II, which I’ve mentioned before.  I’ve been going for about 3 years now.  I’ve worked through the book more than once.  I know the answers, haha, as if I could know the right answers to mental health when it’s different for everyone.

The regular facilitator was having a hard day and asked me if I would lead.  None of this is surprising, since he is a peer and the group could be led by any peer.  I said yes, and I was happy to do this favor for him.

It went surprisingly well.  We worked our way through 2 pages in the book.  That may not be much but it included some conversation and it was the end of a section.  Didn’t make sense to start a new section with only 15 minutes left.  The group appreciated the chance to chat during the session.  It was a little more active than the usual facilitator likes, but we have different philosophies.  He is trying to get through the book, whereas I use the book as a jumping-off point.  Nothing wrong with either one, just different.

At the same time, I have been hearing about women who lead seminars to help other women.  I think I could lead one about vision boards and creating goals.  It would be maybe 3 hours, give or take.  Part of it would be about setting goals, where do you want to be in, say, 5 years?  Or indeed, ever?  Part of it would be making the actual vision board.  And part of it would be about sharing our dreams and visions.  I think I could manage about 10 women, and they would have to bring their own scissors since I don’t own that many pairs.  Glue and magazines I’ve got, scissors not so much.

So I am looking for goal setting exercises.  They are surprisingly hard to find.  There are a lot of sites devoted to professional development and goal setting in that regard but really almost nothing about personal goal setting.  The principles must be the same however so I just need to tweak them.  Of course I would need to tweak them in any case to make them my own.  I’m about being inspired by other people, not stealing their work.

I believe I can do this.  It seems very do-able.  It also doesn’t overlap the government job so there should be no conflict of interest.  The first one or two would be free while I get my feet under me, then I would have to start charging.  I wonder if I could even do it monthly.

Words of encouragement and suggestions only, please.  I have enough nay-sayers in my own head as it is.  I could stand some support around this idea.


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What I’ve Been Doing

I was sitting here drinking the coffee that my roommate L has made for me and I realized that you don’t know what I actually do with my time while I’m demobilized.  I’ve done a fair amount of complaining about things and I’ve certainly shared my (mis)adventures, but really life is pretty good and I want to share some of that.

I sleep most days until 9 or 10 in the morning.  I usually wake up with my cats cuddled up to me, which makes me happy.  If you have pets, you understand this.  Or children, I suppose, though as a mother I dislike comparing pets and children.

I get up and check facebook and email and other online things I’m working on.  I take my morning meds and eat some peanut butter toast.  I like the way the hot toast melts the peanut butter.  Usually by then L is up so there is coffee.  Now you may ask why I don’t make my own coffee since I certainly know how.  The truth is, we use a French press and the thing is just a pain to clean.  I am lazy.  That’s my big secret.  If L makes the coffee, she cleans it up.  Yup, that’s it, silly as it is.

Most days I go to a support group.  I use a peer run support group cluster that is available through a local mental health facility.  It’s free.  Mondays is DBSA, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance and we are working out of a book about managing life while struggling with a behavioral health concern.  Tuesday is Recovery International which has a very formal method.  It does however teach you to deal with daily life, something I don’t always do very well.  Wednesday is the PTSD group.  I don’t have PTSD but nobody is without trauma.  Thursday is a depression support group.  Friday is ATTA, which stands for Achievement Through the Arts.  It’s for artists with brain differences, so there is a mix of people with issues ranging from schizophrenia to injury.  Most of these groups meet for 2 hours, so that gives me a whole lotta free time.

I have been writing letters.  I have an extensive mailing list that I am trying to send everybody something and see who writes back.  Then I’ll keep up with the respondents.  I like getting mail and to get mail, one must send mail.

I also have been working on the 100 Hats project.  I want to sell them but I suspect most of them will wind up donated.  And that’s fine, for me the joy is in the making.  Speaking of making, I am working on some art pieces as well.  One of them is based on my friend K’s living room.

I stay up with my roommates until around 1 in the morning, then I lay in bed on the phone until 2 then I sleep.  So 10 am is really 8 hours of sleep, which is good for me.

I do see friends and go out to eat and run errands.  It makes for a pretty full life, but I would like to be deployed again.  Not that I wish for bad things to happen, but when a disaster hits, I am ready.


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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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Scammed Already

So I was on this dating website about a week and someone contacted me.  The site said his name was Jeff Nowak.  After another week of chatting, he asked if I wanted to move the conversation to Google Hangouts.  Well the website cuts the conversation after a week, so I agreed.

We were talking about having a degree, which I do not.  I am 3 classes short of the degree, but I owe the school about $2000 that I have to pay before I can register for the classes.  Being on furlough right now, I don’t have the money.

Jeff asked if I had a bank.  I told him I have a credit union, which is true, but that I mostly use Paypal, which is not true.  I do have a Paypal account, I just don’t use it that often.  I felt suspicious about the question, but I couldn’t imagine why he’d even ask, unless he wanted to send money, but that made no sense.  Then he asked if the debt was on my bank account.  What a weird question.  So I ignored it.

Next came the story, and I believe it was written by someone who did not speak English as their first language.  The actual text was “Two of my friend has fucked me up when I was in Syria and Cuba, because they headquarter wanted to give me my leave bonus because I can’t access my account here I told to help me out with their account but at the end of the day when I was home I didn’t my money complete.”

The next several texts were, ” That has really made me not to trust people much about money.”  “But now I just think the best thing is to have it once am home.” “But I just can’t be here for 4months”  “Still looking for a way out”  “To have part of my leave bonus to terminate my contract but I need someone I can trust”  “Don’t want it to end up like the last time”  “Do you have the debt in your account?”

Um, yeah, we’re done.

I reported the account to the website.

Then today I got contacted by two other men.  I am chatting with them, because that’s why I’m there, but I am suspicious of them.  Once burned twice shy.

And I feel stupid for not picking up on it sooner.  I guess I am just gullible.


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Meeting People and My Work

I have decided that I’d like to date again, even have a long term relationship.  This is huge for me, this is something I never thought I’d do again.  Truly it has been 10 years since my last relationship.  I figured I was on my own until the end of my life, when I would move back in with my daughter.

The biggest problem is, how do you meet people?  When you’re young, you just meet.  You go out with friends and meet their friends.  You meet people at school or at work.  Then you settle down and family life takes over.  I was single into my 30’s so I lost a LOT of friends to marriage and family.  I don’t begrudge that, I think it’s to be expected.  Family takes energy and time so you just don’t have it for outside activities.  That’s okay.  But it does mean that your single friends move on in different ways and maybe you aren’t that close any more.  So you’re on your own more and more and eventually you’re used to being alone.  How do you get out of that rut?

I asked my friend B.  The first thing is, he had to clarify to me that even though he was dating someone and is not now, that he is not looking for a relationship.  I must be a real dog in that any time I talk to single guy friends about relationships, they feel a need to be clear that they aren’t interested in me.  I don’t assume they are.  And I’m probably not interested in them.  After all, if there was mutual interest, we’d already be more than friends.  I just figured, if you want to meet single guys, ask a single guy where he goes to meet women.  B did tell me two places:  church and online.  I’m not churchy, so online it is.

My friend K has been looking for a partner for some time now.  She has had good luck with online dating sites so I asked her what she thought.  She told me a little about the ones she’s used — which ones were more hook up sites and which ones were more relationship oriented.  So now I’m on a few websites, seeing what I find.  (If you’re reading this and you want to know me, I suggest contacting me in the comments.  And I’m talking about friends, not just dating.)  Now K is beautiful so she gets lots of responses, I am middle aged and plain so I get fewer responses, but I have noticed a few patterns.

Yes I have a job.  No I am not working at the moment.  My job is an on-call disaster relief position so I only work when there is a disaster.  There is not a disaster at the moment so I am not working.  I don’t have a call-back date because disasters don’t come on a schedule.  I will not be going back to work on Monday, this is not a vacation, it is a furlough.

Having said that I am not currently working, I want to clarify that I don’t expect you to support me.  I can support myself.  I am not a gold digger.  I am not looking for a man to take financial care of me.  To balance that, I don’t make enough money to support another person (if I did, it would be my daughter), so don’t expect me to pay for your life.

I don’t want to go dutch.  I don’t have extra money at the moment, so I can’t afford to do a lot of activities.  But even if I was rich, I would want the man to pay for dates.  Unless I asked, in that case I would expect to pay.  The thing here is, I have had a number of serious relationships where all the resources went to the man’s benefit.  Now if you want my interest, you need to be willing so spend a little money on me too.  Not for my necessities, I can pay my own rent and utilities, I am an adult; but gosh pay for dinner or bring flowers or something that makes me feel like you think I’m worth the effort.

Please take the time and pay attention to actually know me.  If I have told you three times that I am furloughed, don’t keep asking how my day at work is going.  If you asked me when the last time was that I flashed someone and I stopped talking, accept that this is not going to be a hook up.  If I don’t ask you about your blow job comment, don’t send me a dick pic.  If I say I read Charles de Lint, don’t recommend John Grisham.  Or at least ask me what kind of books Charles de Lint writes.  Know that my taste runs to steampunk industrial and don’t buy me american traditional.  Even though I love Frank Lloyd Wright.  I am smart and open minded and unfortunately I don’t have a sense of humor.  I am what I am and it’s not going to change much at this point.

So here I am venting.  I don’t think I’m unreasonable, just a little worked up at the moment.  Frustrated.  And trying to make it work out.  Because I don’t want to be alone any more.

 


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Home and Homeless

My daughter E has been on a month-long road trip.  She went to Rainbow Gathering in Georgia, then Naples, Florida.  I believe I posted about the incidents in Pensacola in another entry.  She’s been in New Orleans for several days and is finally back in the Dallas area.  I have missed her and I am glad she’s home.

The problem is, the place where she was staying is no longer available for her.  Apparently the homeowner decided that before E left, but nobody told her until she was on the way home.  Considering what a vagabond she is, they probably didn’t expect her to come back.

I rent a room from someone else so I don’t have a place for her.  Her dad has passed away so he’s not an option.  She won’t stay with my extended family.  So there isn’t even anything I can do for her, she’s on her own about this.

It does make it more likely that she’ll hit the road and work renaissance faires though.  She was loving being on the road and we’ve talked about her working ren faires before, this might be just the thing for her.  I’ll have to figure out paying for her phone and her meds, but other than that she can figure it out herself.

I can’t tell if I am being reasonable as a parent or neglectful.  I mean there’s only so much I can do for her, she’s an adult now.

I wish I could fix it though.