December 2014


Don’t really have a blog to go with this or anything clever to say. Just wanted to say that I hope everyone out there is having a wonderful holiday season. Mac, sedateme, SaBiscuit, kindheart, Xena and other blogger friends–thanks for dropping into my life once in a while and letting me drop into yours! My existence is richer and more interesting for it. Hope your gifts were beautiful and the food was tasty! Smooches!

Well, it’s that time–a new Star Wars movie is coming. I can tell because my Facebook feed is cluttered with trailers, previews, lightsabers and heated debates about stormtroopers. I know all my friends are excited, but I have to say that the whole thing leaves me cold and indifferent, probably because I’m no fun.

Here are a few hypothetical scenarios in an alternative galaxy far, far away which might actually make me care about the new lightsaber:

*If it cracks open a bottle of booze for me,

*If it’s mentioned anywhere in the Senate report about “enhanced interrogations,”

*If Elizabeth Warren gets to use it on our banking system,

*If “The Lightsaber” is the name of a real adult toy, batteries included,

*and definitely if it causes some of those obnoxious holiday shoppers to poke an eye out with it…bah, humbug.

In the meantime, I guess I’ll have to avoid Facebook for the next couple of…hmmmm…how many more of those movies are there going to be? Oh, Jesus.

(First of all, it’s so nice to have my online access back! Our Internet was down after a windstorm last week, but now I’m up and running again!)

There’s a douchebag I blogged about over a year ago, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of him now. The douchebag in question paraded near a middle school here in the Portland suburbs with a rifle, in order to make a statement about his Second Amendment rights. This was not long after the Sandy Hook massacre, so naturally there were frantic parents who were calling the police, thinking that there was a threat to their children’s safety. The police stated that they couldn’t arrest the guy, as he wasn’t doing anything illegal, but a couple of the schools in the neighborhood did go into lockdown mode. It seems that Mr. Douchenozzle purposely picked his location to make a point. You can see why I have low regard for this individual.

And in light of everything that’s happened recently, I have to wonder, what would have happened if Mr. Nozzle had been of a darker complexion?

Because the way this situation resolved itself is that “officers talked to the man and determined he wasn’t doing anything illegal.” Sounds like it was a nice, calm conversation. Let’s be blunt here. If he had been black, would that polite conversation have happened? Would he have been allowed to strut up and down the street with a gun strapped to his back? Or would the cops have instantly shouted at him to drop his weapon, and pointed their guns at him? I wonder how that would have potentially escalated things, and how the Second Amendment defender would have reacted.

Or…would the police even have given him that much time to react? Would they simply have started shooting? After all, the only thing a black man needs to get killed these days is a toy gun or fake gun in his hands.

But nah, there’s no double standard here. And it’s definitely not about race. In fact, I’m the race-baiter for bringing it up. My apologies….

Here’s how a workplace conversation went for me a few months ago:

“Hey, what’s that? Oh…a book about the Warsaw Ghetto?”

“Um…yeah. You know, just a little light summer reading.”

“Why? Is it because you broke up with your boyfriend? Are you depressed?”

Lately, I’ve been on a reading binge about the history of my native country, Poland. I was only eleven when I left, so I’ve never examined Polish history with adult eyes. Yes, that means reading about World War II and the Holocaust. Yes, these are dark subjects. But life can be dark. Part of understanding myself is understanding where I come from, and my psyche comes from the sick and twisted European continent of the twentieth century, with its totalitarian regimes and its spilled blood. There’s no getting away from that.

However, I find myself becoming self-conscious about how everyone else might view me as I lug around these stories of doom. Will they indeed think I’m depressed? Crazy? Emotionally unstable? Now I only pull my books out of my backpack when the lunchroom is relatively empty, and I don’t spot anyone I know nearby. To my dismay, I’ve realized that I would be a lot less embarrassed if I was caught reading a cheesy romance novel, because at least that would be considered normal. A romance novel wouldn’t get me suspicious looks.

Or worse. On a recent train ride to work, I was reading Architects of Annihilation by Gotz Aly, a truly chilling work which examines how Nazi technocrats decided that killing millions of people was justified, based on perfectly “rational” economic policy. The cover design of the book includes a swastika–and this prompted the guy across from me to lean in and enthusiastically explain to me how much he admired Hitler. I literally wanted to crawl under my seat. He finished his tribute with: “And you know what I really love about him? His brutality. He knew that sometimes you have to resolve things in an ugly way, man.”

At this point, his girlfriend hastily shushed him and pulled him off the train. The girlfriend was comical in her own right. She was clearly mortified that he was saying all these things in public, yet had no problem being with a guy who gets a hard-on from the Fuhrer’s brutality in the first place. All of a sudden, the fact that Charles Manson is getting married was no longer such a mystery to me.

Anyway, I’ve come up with a solution to help me continue my history studies with minimum trouble. I’m going to make a fake cover to wrap my library books in, preferably one with a picture of a buff Fabio on it. That way, everyone can breathe easy and assume that I’m having happy fantasies about my future boyfriend. And with not a single serious thought in my head, as it should be.

The radio is already playing Christmas carols, and Ferguson is still smoldering. And the head shaking about what happened in Ferguson is continuing. It’s sad to watch businesses that have been part of a neighborhood for years be destroyed. And I won’t lie–I’ve become an old, comfortable suburbanite, so the thought of civil unrest of any kind mainly makes me nervous. Yet even inside my middle-class bubble of safety, a question lingers…

If the protests had been completely peaceful, would anyone have cared? If not a single fire had been set, would anyone have noticed?

The news media pretty much gives us the answer. The peaceful protesters in Ferguson–and there was a large group of them–were mostly ignored by the cameras. The rioters and looters got all the attention. And the TV channels were waiting with their tongues out, panting for something “bad” to happen. That’s why it’s so galling now to see the CNN experts taking on a “tsk tsk tsk” finger wagging role. This is exactly what they wanted! Peaceful protest doesn’t make for very entertaining television.

We did have some protesters here in town who got media coverage, but only because they blocked the roads, resulting in furious rush hour drivers. And what if they had stayed out of the traffic? We have the answer to that question too. The night of the grand jury announcement itself, a group of activists gathered in front of the Justice Center downtown, chanting and singing songs. The local news anchor gave them about ten seconds of his attention before moving on to Timmy the tap dancing cat or whatever other human interest story he had lined up.

We like to tout the philosophy of non-violence, the example of leaders like Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr–who’s being quoted a lot these days–but how much respect do those who follow the non-violent way actually get? And does peaceful protest even work? I’ve been involved in a couple protest marches myself (I think you’re required to do that before you can get official Portland resident status). I was at one of the Bring Back Our Girls rallies, and couldn’t help thinking that being there was, more than anything, about making ourselves feel better. If the Boko Haram kidnappers could have seen us reading our poems about justice and sending our positive vibes out into the universe, they probably would have laughed their asses off. And, judging from at least one Youtube video, they did.

And this plays out on an even grander global scale. Vladimir Putin has been spending his free time making threatening military gestures. President Obama tried–at least at first–to establish a foreign policy of diplomacy and negotiation rather than war. Obama was dismissed as weak, whereas Putin was praised for being a super macho male, and the conservatives of the world are all but doodling little hearts on the snapshots of his bare-chested horse rides.

So is peace the way of the losers? This is an appropriate issue for me to ponder, especially as I get closer to celebrating the symbolic birth of my symbolic spiritual teacher, who preached about turning the other cheek and then got killed off by the powers that be. As a child of hippies, I would like to continue to believe in non-violence. But it’s very obvious to me which path the world I live in values more.