Saturday, July 27, 2013

Subtle Influences

When I was 17, I was given the Rorschach test (the ink blotty one). Both the auditor and I were a little shocked at how many images I saw were based on, or out of, children's literature. As I've gotten older, I am no longer even a little shocked. If nothing else, as I've learned about childhood development, what else did either of us expect to be my influences at 17? 

Anyway... I cannot even begin to list all my "favorite" books from childhood, but I have recently become aware of the ones that were the most influential. I thought I was just reading. I thought I was just listening to my mother read to me. I was so wrong. So very wrong, and TTG for it!

When Harold's world isn't what he wants it to be, he changes it. With his purple crayon, he creates the mundane and the magical.

Given to me by my grandfather one Christmas, when his walk home wasn't interesting enough, he changed it up. More than a little.

A man's house ends up with a big orange splot on the roof. It becomes a chance for self-expression that spreads throughout the neighborhood. No wonder Home Owners' Associations piss me off.

And of course, my beloved Eloise. Who is six. Who lives at the Plaza, with PP on the door. Who is a city child.

I do believe in free will. I really do. At the same time, I can't help but wonder if my personality was set before I was five. Cut from whole cloth indeed.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Not The Only One Screaming

From what I can gather, my readers are about 50-50 POC/white. About 70-30 female to male. And about 60-40 LGBTQ to straight. And 99.97% to .03% liberal to conservative. We're an open-minded crowd here at Pobble Thoughts. We're "good" people. Which makes reading posts like the one I'm linking that much more important.

Because it's easy to forget that "I didn't mean to" and "but I didn't realize" and "but I belong to (insert allied organization here)" aren't passes. Don't get us off the hook for screwing up.

As my friend, himself, would put it, here's the money shot:

And who are the enablers? 90-95 percent of the white folks in this country. In other words, most of you.

What? You thought you were one of the "good ones" why because you didn't burn burn down a black church or wave the Confederate flag. How could you not be one of the good ones, you didn't do anything?

And that's exactly my point. 

Check out the rest here.

Those are Pobble Thoughts ~ and Dennis Upkins' words and some harsh truths, if we want to admit them or not. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

No, Actually, It's Not

I've taken a really cool new job. It's a writing gig, so I am getting paid to do exactly what I want ~ write. What will happen with the fiction? I don't know, honestly. Right now, it's taking a back seat to the ad copy stuff. We'll see where it goes.

Meanwhile, my new boss is heading off on vacation. In her last email to me today before being gone for a week and a half assures me that, while she will be out of the office, she will still be checking emails. That is, after all, "the world we live in now." While I recognize that boundaries have never been respected, I still maintain they are actually good for us. We are better at what we do ~ from CEO-ing, to mom-ing, to writing, to floor mopping, to whatever-ing ~ when we actually and for real take care of ourselves.

We can stay connected at all times. We can stay at work when we're at the beach. We can deal with our colleagues when we're supposed to be with our kids. That doesn't mean we should.

A friend of ours recently gave us three hours at a dinner. He didn't check his phone once. It seems like a small thing, but it's not. Not when we live in a world where people think you are supposed to be connected at all times, even on vacation, let alone at dinner with friends.

At some point this weekend, this week, leave your phone at home for an evening. Don't check your email, especially your work email. Some people may freak out at the thought of disconnecting. Maybe we should all consider it reconnecting, instead.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

And Then There Was Starbuck

Certainly Not

 But far closer to

My Starbuck...

...has been my friend since we were 16 the coolest, most bad-ass person I've ever known
...knows less, and yet more, about me than most people
...would say all of that about me in return

We spent about eight months being friends ~ but what an impactful eight months they were. Then I was at her wedding. And she was at mine. And we hadn't seen each other any time in between or since. Which makes this even more important.

Pictured: Pretty bad-ass
Just sitting, hanging out on the couch. After twenty-seven years. Never, ever, think you can predict where life is going to take you next.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Stuck Together In Some Societal Bullshit

ETA: Before any nonsense starts, I want to clarify something. Recently, white people going a little crazy with the "but I felt threatened" rebuttal has been a thing. (See Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis.) Because of this, and the recent Paula Deen debacle and her apologists, I thought very hard about the timing of this post. The reason I am not waiting is because all of that played into the one-two (three-four-ad infinitum) punch leveled at Questlove that added to the rawness of his experience (I assume; I do not know the man, but that was my takeaway from his article) and I am trying to respect that. So, to say in clear, plain language: This is not a whiny, "but I felt threatened" post. This is not a post explaining why white people should be afraid of black people. This is not a post giving permission for, or apologizing about, acts and attitudes of racism. If you use this post to defend, rationalize, or justify mistreating a person of color because "you felt threatened" you are getting it wrong. You have misunderstood this post. Now, to the original post:

The other day, I read this article by Questlove. To sum it up, in light of the Trayvon Martin killing and verdict, he discusses beautifully and openly the pain of being a less-than human being because he is a black man. Do you know how difficult it is to write about a pain as deep as that, as ugly as that, with any kind of eloquence or beauty? Yet, he does it. I highly recommend reading it. 

In case you don't, though, know the example he uses is an elevator ride in his condo/apartment building with a gorgeous woman. They are alone. They are strangers. He is a very large man by stature. He is black. She is white. And because he acknowledges all this, he is polite. He does his best to be nonthreatening. She still refuses to give him her floor number and waits until he is getting off the elevator before she punches the button that will take her to her own home. She doesn't see him as a human being who has just been trying to be nice to her. She sees him as a large, scary, black man to be avoided and protected against. It is heartwrenching to read, to experience his experience.

At the same time, while I was reading it, I was thinking "but...but..." Because there is a "but." The "but" is what it means to be a woman in society (also highly recommended blog post). 

Now, since race is a part of this conversation, I want to be clear: I speak and live as a white woman. What that means is that there are women out there who deal with all this, because it is pretty universal for women in the US, and tons more bullshit that comes from being a woman of color and not having the white privilege that I do. Do not read this as disregarding WOC. If anything, keep reminding yourself that my own status keeps me from doing them justice or painting their picture properly. 

Which brings us back to the "but." Women, all of us, are socialized to be polite. Be nice. Not to have our own boundaries. Not to make waves. Not to be too loud. 

If we shut down a man who is encroaching or making us uncomfortable, we are bitches. If we speak up against sexist jokes, we are bitches. If we want to maintain our own space and physicality, we are bitches. 

We are incapable of making educated, adult decisions. Don't believe me? Listen to the various legislatures discuss our bodies and our health. We are less than men. And if we want to make our own educated, adult decisions, we are bitches.

And over, and over, again, we are told we are responsible for preventing our own assaults. Don't go out at night by yourself. Don't flirt with a man/boy you aren't willing to sleep with (while being taught not to be promiscuous AND not to maintain our boundaries if we aren't interested...and as soon as someone can teach me to do all three of those things, I'll run for God. WTF) . Don't wear "provocative" clothing. Don't make eye contact too long. Don't smile too much. All of this holds men blameless for their own actions. Because if we weren't perfect, we are whores and deserve what we get. 

We have all created coping skills around it. Some better than others. Some less paranoid than others. Some to the point it is on an unconscious level any longer. But bottom line is, we have had to create coping skills to deal with the fact that we could be assaulted, verbally, physically, or sexually, at any time. Just for being female, in life.

If that sounds overly dramatic, think it about it this way: Since women are getting these lessons about us, so are men. For everything we have internalized and socialized about the female gender, so have men. For every time a woman is reminded she is less-than, so is every man in hearing distance. Even in this beautiful, painful article, written by a man who so obviously gets it, he is talking about her look, how excited he gets when he believes she lives on his same floor, and how can he start to seduce her. He decides "she must feel safe." Male privilege at its finest to decide when a woman feels safe. And to reiterate ~ everything I know about Questlove (because I don't know him personally, but) is that he is a really good man. A man who gets it.

Now, I have no doubt ~ ZERO DOUBT ~ that race and racism entered into it as well. Perhaps it was overt. Maybe this woman is a racist and saw Big Scary Black Man instead of just Big Man. But even if that didn't happen on a conscious level, just as "good" men pick up on the socialization that women are less-than, "good" white people are socialized that black people are less-than. On some level, conscious, unconscious, subconscious, the white women knew she was in the elevator with a black man, not just a man of unregistered race. 

Which adds a whole new level to the situation. My friend, Denny, a black man, and I even talk about "elevator privilege" which is what happens when a black man and a white women get into an elevator together. He sees her as a threat because he knows if, once those elevator doors open (metaphorically; literally, once they are no longer alone), she says he did something inappropriate, people are going to believe her because of the color of her skin. But while those elevator doors are closed (same metaphor), she is trapped with a man, probably stronger, likely to see her as less than, due to her gender. She has the power once the elevator doors open; until then, it's all him.

I have no answers. I know Questlove's experience is as real as my own, even when I can't see it. I know my experience is as real as Questlove's, even when he can't see it. I know we are each feeling the sting and fear of less-than. And I know we are looking at each other, across an elevator created by self-serving white men, and we deserve better than this.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Not Screaming. Not Ranting.

In fifty or one hundred years, I truly believe historians will look back on this time and teach about the dark age we brought in somewhere between 2008 and 2013. Living in it, I cannot point to the exact moment, nor can I identify the tipping point ~ although it won't surprise if those historians declare it to be 2013. The point where we gathered so much speed that we passed beyond the point of no return and simply had to careen through to the bitter, ugly end.

And, as I do not know the exact tipping point, I do not know when or how that bitter, ugly end will come. Bang-ish, or whimper-ish. No idea. I hope I live to see it. I hope because I want to see us come to our senses, but also, because I don't want it to be that long a dark time.

This country has never fulfilled its promise. All men have never been equal. And all women? Don't even try. But we have had sane-r times. We have moved forward, even as some would try to prevent it.

We have also had darker times. It saddens me that we are moving into one again. I just don't know how else to read the cards.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Working on Definitions ~ Screaming Liberal Post

The latest salvo in the war against LGBTQ people is "Now that they've won, let's see if they are willing to give the same tolerance that they demanded from the people who disagreed with them" ~ or thereabout. That's the gist of it anyway: tolerance and disagreement.

Are You Fucking Kidding Me?????

But you know what? I used to write dictionaries. So, I can help with clarification and do away with some confusion:

  • Anyone who wants to codify the second-class citizen status of another group of human beings isn't tolerating anyone or anything. So no tolerance has been given from the other side.
  • Recognizing rights that one group of people have ~ marriage; safety; employment protections; existence ~ and granting those rights is not giving anyone special rights. They are the rights that straight, cis-people have and take for granted. Wanting said rights denied on the basis of them "being special" isn't tolerating anyone or anything. So no tolerance has been given from the other side.
  • A disagreement is wanting pizza instead of burgers for dinner. A disagreement is rooting for the NY Giants over the New England Patriots. A disagreement is even thinking that we need to put more money into defense than into education. A disagreement is not wanting to round up a group of people and put them in fences rather than allow them to have full status as citizens and human beings. A disagreement is not threatening to take down any government that acknowledges the rights of another group of human beings. A disagreement is not trying to legislate against the very humanity of a people.
  • Winning is not being thrown a bone that only applies to one small aspect of human rights and doesn't even apply to that aspect nationwide.
So. These people want the tolerance they say they have been giving. Really? Are you sure about that, Orson Scott Card?

These people want the same grace in winning that they showed while fighting the battle. Really? Are you sure about that, voters of California?

Reap what you sow. Do unto others. One good turn. Karma. Be careful what you wish for...

They really want tolerance? The same kind of tolerance they showed us? I like that last one: Be careful what you wish for.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

The Fall and Redemption

Does this ever happen to you, or is it just me? You go about your world, appropriately immune to situations, other people, interactions and then *BOOM* out of nowhere, something you understand intellectually is insignificant gets under your skin. It isn't insignificant. It's huge. It's HUGE. And no amount of support, or teasing, or talking, or stiff-upper-lipping or anything can make it anything but the lump in your stomach and the tight in your throat.

Guess what happened to me yesterday? You see this guy here:

I have seen him be taken apart. There is no one inside that costume. It's metal and wire and 2x4s. I have seen this with my own eyes. And I always think I should keep people from putting money in the bucket there, because they aren't giving a performer any money. But I don't. I walk on by. Until yesterday. Yesterday, as Lithus and I were walking behind the metal and wood horse, I saw a small group looking, admiring. And I screwed up my introverted courage and stepped out of my comfort zone and spilled the beans. There is no one in the horse! 

Yes! I had done it! I had shared knowledge and talked to strangers. It was a banner day.

One of the women walked up and whacked the horse in the head. Nothing. See? Rubber and plastic. She whacked him again. We thought, perhaps, the head moved. Nodded, even. Except I have seen it taken apart. With my own eyes. So I told them one last time before Lithus and I walked on. Until we heard squeals and laughter and they were scurrying away ~ from the man in the horse suit. Who was in there. Yesterday. The one day I had finally spoken up.

I wanted to be amused. I wanted to laugh at myself. 364 days out of the year, I would have. But not yesterday. Yesterday, I was a horrible person. I had lied to these people. I had set them up to look foolish. I had taken money away from some poor shmuck in a horse suit. I was the worst kind of local. My throat tightened, my stomach hurt, and Lithus ~ dear sweet Lithus ~ could say nothing right about it. Nothing. My crazy had spilled too far out.

Instead, he changed the subject, got me thinking about something else. We ran our errands and did our shopping. On the way home, we decided it was five o'clock somewhere and stopped into a lovely lounge for a drink. The place was packed. There were no seats to be had ~ until two women caught my eye and assured us we could join them at their table. 

Me. The introverted Pobble who was the worst kind of human being. Had to make small talk. Be nice. Wrangle the crazy back in long enough to not utterly and completely destroy these kind people's vacation, as I had done the other group. 

Instead of running, I accepted. Lithus and I sat. We chatted with these two old friends who have known each other since they were eight. We talked a little about New Orleans, but also got into some deeper, more meaningful conversations. We laughed with each other. We shared intimacies the way you can with total strangers. I was funny and polite and friendly and kind ~ and not at all the worst kind of human being imaginable.

By the time Lithus and I left the lounge, I was able to think that the original group would be amused, have a story to tell, if they even remembered that moment of their NOLA vacation (which let's face it, she'd been whacking this guy's horse head, they're gonna remember it!). But it wasn't horrible. It wasn't a Bad Thing. And it certainly didn't make me a Bad Person. It was even *gasp* kind of funny. Not at their expense, but at mine. I was so certain...

I will never see those two women who offered us a seat at their table yesterday again. But wow, I'm glad they showed up when they did.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

July 4th

I am a list maker. The Lovely Cats talks about the fact that no one makes a list quite like the Pobble. It is with absolutely no humility that I concur. 100%. Therefore, in light of my list-making abilities, here is your July 4th list:

  • Don't set shit on fire.
There you go. It's all any of us need. Don't do it drunk. Don't do it sober. Don't do it in a box. Don't do it with a fox. Don't set shit on fire.

And thanks.

Those are married and protective Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Monday, July 01, 2013


I, along with the rest of the country, am heartbroken. Last night, when the news broke, before I even knew the story, the tears were flowing. I could not bring myself to think about the hell those seconds must have been. I still can't. But, when the word came down they were a hotshot crew, that made those seconds somehow worse. How bad must it have been to take out all but one of a team of hotshots? I can't...

While I don't think I ever met any of these particular 19 men who died in the Arizona fires, I have met them. In Alaska. In California. In Washington.

They are young. They are strong. They are skilled and well, well trained. By the time they are known as Hotshots, they deserve it. They are the best at what they do. Period. Here's the thing ~ they are also good guys. Don't misunderstand ~ I know ground pounders who are assholes. The ones with the chips on their shoulders who think they are all that. The ones who don't shower for the whole season, because they enjoy the cringes of everyone else in the mess when their team walks in. The ones who roll their eyes at the grateful towns and mock the praises behind their backs.

By the time you make a hotshot team, though, you've outgrown that kind of bullshit. You've grown up. You've learned some humility. Some compassion. Some kindness.

I don't know if I ever shared a table, or a mess, or a bench, with any of these guys. Maybe I did, but maybe not. Still, I know them. And I grieve for them.

Angels and ministers of grace defend thee...

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.