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Sunday
Feb122017

This is Totally Normal

I realize it's been a while since around November 8th when John Oliver crafted the #ThisIsNotNormal thing, but I continue to have thoughts and feelings about it.

You guys, this racist bullshit that you are experiencing that's masquerading as the executive and legislative branches of the government?

IS TOTALLY NORMAL FOR AMERICA. I'm over here rolling my eyes at people who are sharing these posts of people being detained at airports and hashtagging it with #thisIsNotNormal.

FOR YOU.

This is not normal FOR YOU, BRO.

Two months after 9/11, my dad was taking a flight to North Carolina. He was pulled aside, detained and questioned. This was a domestic flight from Florida to North Carolina. My father, at the time, was 67 years old, had lived in the U.S. for thirty two years and had been an American citizen for nearly fifteen years of those years. Since then, between my parents, in laws and extended family, this family has had over half a dozen encounters like this. 

THIS IS NOT NORMAL FOR YOU.

This is totally normal for US. 

So, why? Why bring this up in the first place? 

Well, look, there's two major kinds of racist/xenophobic/discriminatory paradigm:

1. Superiority Based Racism/Xenophobic/Discriminatory Paradigm: This says, "America is amazing and wonderful, white people made America, foreigners are terrible, gays are deviants, the only black people that get shot by the police are criminals, blow all of those sand people up and we'll be safe, etc."

And, then, there's:

2. Cluelessness Based Racism/Xenophobic/Discriminatory Paradigm: This says that the current climate of racism, xenophobia and discrimination is some sort of aberrant occurrence and totally ignores the pesky yet relevant fact that this triumverate of bullshit (racism, xenophobia, discriminiation) is somehow NOT woven into the tapestry of the American story.

So.

You know.

I like John Oliver.

But let's not forget John Oliver is the great grandson of an Imperialist Britain which used racism, xenophobia and discrimination to dominate over half of the world's population in throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

And then let's not forget that all those people who are using #thisIsNotNormal are the great great great grandchildren of people who appropriated North America from native peoples with their slaves in tow captured from Africa all of which was justified by racism, xenophobia and discrimination.

Barack Obama, our great hope, our American dream... was not normal.

This guy? P45? Is totally normal.

And he will never NOT be normal if you don't own him as a product of who we have chosen to be as a people for two hundred years.

 

 

Thursday
Jan262017

Another Tap, Tap, Is This Thing On Post...

Maybe this one will stick. I make no promises to the seven people who seem to be visiting here every day. Why? What are you being so persistent about?

I've noticed that a lot of people are either talking about blogging again or actually blogging again.

I looked over the last few posts of mine and it's like I've been wanting to get back to doing this, and I just haven't had the attention span. I think some of us old-timey bloggers just hit a wall when our heads got stuffed with brand identities and all that weird SM marketing based stuff. I've written about that before. I guess since I started this blog nine years ago, it'd be safe to assume I've written about most of it before. I've been blogging long enough to know, for example, that I should probably have backlinked to a few times that indicated the wide span of topics I've covered over the past nine years. Maybe it's not even attention span, maybe it's that I've lost the will to appear interesting to others. Maybe I'm at the point where I'm thinking that if someone doesn't find this sort of high school dairy writing interesting, that this is not my concern.

Let's see... back when I blogged, you wrote about interesting stuff you did. I really wanted to say "shit" there. But I just couldn't. I'm growing up, Internets. Anyway, I did some interesting stuff. I marched in the #MemphisWomensMarch last weekend. That was amazing and rejeuvenating. (If you're interested in my marching experience, you can hear about it on the HTMH podcast that I co-host with Mike Scheinberg. It's available on iTunes or you can just listen from our website at heythatsmyhummus.com)

I did notice that the march was incredibly, er, monochromatic in terms of melanin given that Memphis, like it's slightly dirtier, sluttier sister New Orleans is pretty chocolate. I imagine that most of the some 600 sister cities have their own explanations for why their cities might not have been able to brag about diverse populations at their respective marches. I assume that the diversity factor has to do with who is organizing the march and how committed they are to building inclusivity.

This is the thing about having to build inclusive environments in America: we are a nation of communities who have solid, historically based reasons not to trust each other. So, people have to go out of their way not only to include but to show that they are committed to rebuilding trust. And, oh, also acknowledge that they are aware why trust was lost. It's hard work, and the diversity of your march basically shows how up for working on that you are. I would like to brag at this point that the group of friends that I marched with...very diverse. 

I took some nice photos with my phone at the march, you can check that out on my Instagram account if you don't already follow that.

Okay, I'm done not appearing interesting now. See you later, Dear Diary.

 

Tuesday
May102016

This One is Out of the Way.

There are just going to be those days when you simply get through it. I know you know this, but I think one of us needs to say this out loud. A lot of days are just going to be holding one's head above water and hoping that the people who don't matter don't notice. Because, you know, the people that matter don't mind that you're holding your head slightly above water. It's those pesky people who don't matter, right? They're always over there not mattering and ruining everyone's self perception.

Anyway. Some days are just going to end with a long sigh that says, "Well, this one is out of the way." I'd like to think that I'm doing a-okay if the number of days that are "out of the way" are less in number than the days that end with "Ahh, today was a good one."

I don't really have much more else to say than that.

Except. Maybe.

This one is out of the way.

Sunday
May012016

Podcasts I Listen To & Not Make. But Maybe Wish I Did.

I mean, I do listen to my own podcast because that thing about loving the sound of your own voice. Except I laugh a lot in it and I HATE the sound of my laugh. 

Do you listen to podcasts? If not, you should.

It's not just about learning new stuff or being entertained, but taking advantage of our hyper connected world in a way that allows you to deepen your connection to humanity. That stuff you're watching on television? NOT REAL. That is not how real people act or talk. That is not the stuff that actually happens to people.

While I love my Empire, those are not things that actually happen to people. Although, I will PAY you to be my friend if you are like Jussie Smollet's character in real life. Pay you WELL. Like a monthly subscription.

Anyway, I feel like unless we make an intentional effort to broaden our experience of how people talk, what they talk about and why they talk about it, we run the risk of assuming that human reality is confined to people we talk to and people we watch on television. Also, when was the last time you heard someone tell you a really good story. It doesn't seem to happen very often even though I truly believe that sort of thing is embedded in our supercomputer. Called the brain. I'm talking about our brains, but I used supercomputer in an attempt to be clever.

So, I listen to podcasts. In case you're thinking about getting started, here are some suggestions. If you're new to downloading podcasts, you can usually search by title and just hit subscribe. The iPhone has a little purple icon with a little person doing double dutch with two perflectly circular jump ropes.

You should be advised that I recently retook the Pottermore Sorting Hat quiz and was reclassified as a Ravenclaw. I feel like this is pertinent information as you evaluate my listening preferences. 

Serial. I mean, duh. If you're going to start listening to podcasts, this is the one. Season 1 is better than Season 2. Aside from the unseemly details surrounding the court cases discussed, I love this podcast because it reflects the care with which a story is told and how much of a difference that makes in the delivery of information.

This American Life Once again, the story telling. So great. If you're like me and have trouble telling a linear story, this is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in how that's done.

TED Radio Hour. I'm clearly an NPR junkie. I didn't realize that until just now. I love TED talks, and I love this podcast because it organizes them by topic and also continues the conversation with the speakers after the talk. 

The Moth Podcast. More stories. I love hearing people tell stories about their life -- from the mundane to the intensely deep. It doesn't matter. Tell me a good story and I'm in.

Stuff You Missed in History Class. A great podcast about learning the basics of auto repair. I'm kidding. It's about stuff you missed in history class. 

Lore. Okay, I haven't listened to this one yet, but I am SUPER excited about it. TRUE LIFE SCARY STORIES OMG.

Coffee Break French. So, basically, you listen to people talk in French on your non-existent coffee break and try to figure out what the hell they are saying. The hosts are European so I assume that's why they are implying a coffee break is an actual thing.

Hope that's helpful.

I'm looking for a some more humorous podcasts, so if you have any suggestions - do let me know. 

Wednesday
Apr132016

Creativity, Usefulness and Moving to Selfish

I read an interesting article yesterday about the effect of family life on creativity. Here. Go read it.

Back? 

You didn't really read it, did you? 

Anyway, this article is by a writer and she talks of how her artistic life has been impacted by family in what seems like a negative way, but, then, in the end, there's a semblance of bittersweet conclusion about how things are really just different now and not necessarily worse. Or something.

Don't like that summary? Well, that's what you get when you don't read shit for yourself. They're called consequences, Beav.

As my children get older and as my vocation is increasingly child centered (teaching, running a school - which is not the same as family centered, but still relies on this idea of maintaining order not disrupting it), I find myself less and less able to be truly creative. Like, in an artistic way.

Now, it we're talking about "I have a piece of pita bread, some sketchy looking turkey and a third of a tub of cream cheese and it's 7:20a.m. and I have to be at work in fifteen minutes and I need to make two lunches -- TURKEY-PITA-CREAM-CHEESE-SURPRISE-VOILA," then I'm freaking Picasso. This kind of creativity is not enough. This is really problem solving. This is an outflow situation. It doesn't renew. It takes.

I really just want... Just to be alone in a space for a while where I can disrupt the normal cadence of life and think about things in a new way. I want that fire and passion of looking at reality, saying "this is not the only way things are -- they can be like this, too! Aren't we all uncomfortably energized and ready to live it all in this new way?" 

But I have Life stuff. Stuff that has to happen so that we can, you know, eat and maybe wear clothes that don't smell. And, then, there's the stuff going on inside my head. This brings to another point and by "point" I mean "tedious human struggle." I have this horrible thing of believing that worth equals usefulness to others. Well, wait, this is true thing -- to a degree. It is important to be useful, but it's equally important to be self serving.

When I was growing up, I had a parent that told me I was selfish, a lot. It damaged me. Not in a terrible way that's unrecoverable, but in an innocuous way that shows up when you're forty and you're like, "well, isn't this some fresh hell I thought I had dealt with already?" I've got to tackle this demon that clutches at my throat every time I think of doing anything that doesn't directly benefit someone besides myself.

I'm not selfish. I've proven that to myself. I am now the opposite of selfish. I'm specifically a martyr like that other parent who didn't call me selfish. Isn't that something. You know, the only time I'm not benefitting someone else is when I lay down in my bed to sleep or watch TV. I think I even rationalize using the bathroom as a general public service. Backed up people with urinary tract infections are not good for the planet. Just saying.

The problem with working to the point of exhaustion is that you end up in bed watching a Netflix/Hulu marathon. Although, I did change it up this week by diverting to a Serial marathon.

(Oh, Adnan, BRO, why did you smoke the pot that day? You can't remember where you were because you were too HIGH, dawg.) 

I have to work on this whole being creative, taking care of myself, redefining self worth stuff. Who else is annoyed by the prospect of having to figure something out when when you've reached midlife? That is some serious CRAP. I really thought that forty was taking the red pill and realizing that we're all in the Matrix so we can all just chill. Or maybe it was the blue pill. Or, damn, maybe I took the blue pill and that's why we're having this conversation.

I have plans of attack, though. Maybe I'll share them with you. Maybe. I am planning to start listening to Season 2 of Serial now, so best laid plans and all that.

P.S. I just typed and retyped the word "download" three times. It went down like this:

Downloud.

Downlowd. 

Download.

I thought you'd enjoy that.

Hey! Mike Scheinberg and I have started producing Hey! That's My Hummus! again. New episodes to download. Check it out on our website. Or you can download from iTunes.