Category Archives: civil rights

are YOU better off than four years ago?

Time changes a lot.  When you’re in the How I Met Your Mother timeframe (several years after college has ended), things start to move more slowly.  For your whole life, until you’re 22 or so, every four to six years your life completely changes.  Different school.  Different phase of life.

But as an old friend said when he graduated college and  got his job, “Well, time to work until I’m 60.”  That’s a long time with not a lot of change.

Only four presidential election cycles have occurred in my lifetime in which I’ve been able to participate.  And I’ve participated in all of them, voting in the 2000 election only three weeks after my eighteenth birthday.  I’ve volunteered and canvassed and listened to my candidate speak in the other two elections that have already happened.  My guy is coming to Hollywood on Sunday, and I’ll be out of town, visiting friends who are in from out of state.  That’s just the way my life has been heading, I guess.

Because of my comparative youth, it’s no indicator of the economy to say whether or not I’m better off than I was four years ago.  I do have the same job I did four years ago, although many of the details of the job and my workplace have changed significantly.  In 2008, most teachers in my area were struggling to hang on.  But by now, we’re steadily recovering, and there are more jobs in my field than there were four years ago.  So that’s something.

I also bought my car four years ago – the first car I’d bought in my own name, even with my own bad credit.  (It’s still not great, but I blame that less on the economy.)  I bought it September 21st, 2008, and the guy at Carmax who sold it to me and who discussed Tommy Friedman with us set my radio to Praerie Home Companion as I drove away on that early Saturday evening.  He kind of ruled.  My car payments kind of haven’t ruled over the past four years, but I’m getting it down and will have it paid off next September.  I also bought it about a week before all of the markets crashed.

Back to my job, and even a little further back than that now, I got my job in April of 2007.  I graduated college a week later.  I was set, and according to many economists, the recession, at least in Florida, began in April of 2007.  My timing could not have been better.  Whatever misgivings I have about my job at this point, the reminder of being able to hang on keeps me where I am.

So I got a job right as the housing market started slipping, and held onto it when Florida schools started slashing through teacher jobs.  I got my car, even with my shitty credit, before the markets tanked and there was no credit available.  I needed it, too, as my brakes were failing in my beloved Neon and I needed to get to work.

And looking away from economics for a moment, timing also sealed the deal on me meeting my husband.  It worked out perfectly.  Suffice to say, he is also a hell of a lot better off than he was four years ago.  He’s three years older than I am, and in the fall of 2008, he had just returned to the US after three years living and teaching abroad, landed at this parents’ house, without a single job prospect despite multiple promotions in his prior jobs, despite the fact that they were overseas.

(Side note: if you’re going to teach overseas, don’t look at it as a career move.  Do it because you want to have the experience, and you plan on getting more training back home in the US.  Unless you plan on staying out there.)

We met in the summer of 2009, and suffice to say, we’re both better off for having one another in our lives.  We don’t have a ton of savings, but we have some.  He has some investments, I have a small retirement plan and good, cheap benefit, and we’re doing what we can do.

We flirt with the idea sometimes, but we don’t really want to touch the housing market with a ten-foot-pole, although friends are telling us that it’s only going up from here.  They’re right.  And as much as I want to act out House Hunters, not happening.  I’m into fixer-uppering, and T-storm would rather just buy something without problems.  Although he did marry me, so that philosophy doesn’t exactly hold.  (Heh heh.)

We love living in Wilton Manors, and we love being married, and for all intents and purposes, we are better off than we were four years ago.  I don’t make any more money than I did four years ago, but that’s the fault of my ineffective union* and Rick Scott, who has really screwed me.

So that’s our status.  While that doesn’t particularly affect who we’re going to vote for, as we have our own ideas and we do a lot of research on a lot of things – and for Christ’s sake, we live in Wilton Manors – that’s the answer to that question.

 

*sidenote: I believe in unions, and supported the teachers’ union in the recent Chicago strike.  It just happens that mine gets shockingly little done.  That’s South Florida politics, I guess.

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so what exactly do you believe in?

Today, while at work, exhausting things were happening and making me cranky.  And some of them have to do with religion.

That should not be, whatsoever where I work, and I like where I work because religion plays no part in what we do.  Or at least, it absolutely should not.

But today, it did, and I got mansplained to by some preacher as to why kids act a certain way, and for the sake of being affable I thanked the dude for the work he does with our kids.  Because often, religious workers do great things for many kids.

Religion is not all hurt.  Religion helped me through a lot when I was younger.  I was little Catholic girl, CCD superstar (my nun teacher told my mother I was “brilliant” close to my confirmation), sang in the children’s choir, played in handbells forever and absolutely adored it, and even directed a chime choir when I was in high school.  Loved it all.  It got me through a lot.

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dear Sanford police department…

Hey guys.  Remember me?  I worked at your JoAnn’s superstore (with my boss who had so many “scabs” on his leg from doing “yard work on weekends” that he looked like a leper – and insisted on wearing shorts every day – and was so unpleasant that customers would overtly complain to me at the cash register about him and vow to never come back).  I have sped mightily on your highways, coming back from South Florida to see my mother.  I’ve been a patron of your mall for years upon years, since its opening in 1995 when I was, suitably enough, 13 years old.   I have enjoyed many a reunion evenings at the Ale House near said mall. I enjoyed buying Orange Blossom Pilsner at the convenience store near the little itty bitty Presbyterian church near 46 when I was in town.  My brother was born in your hospital, on the shores of Lake Monroe.  When I was a senior in high school, we did a lake clean-up on said lake and I pulled several tires out of that particular body of water.  I can’t think of any real havoc I’ve wreaked upon your city, and having never actually legally resided there myself, I really haven’t met with your kind.  So of course you don’t remember me.  But now it seems, the world will never forget you.  And it’s all your fault.

My mother worked for Volusia County law enforcement for years, just north of y’all.  (Yeah, I said y’all.  I’ve you’ve ever been to Volusia or Seminole county, you are aware that it fits.)  So between her stories and whatever cop shows/movies I’ve watched, it seems that police departments, aside from serving and protecting, have to cover their own asses.  A lot.  They have to defend the decisions they’ve made, and do a bit of damage control.  And that’s cool, man.  Teachers understand how that junk works.  I know you’ve been affected by budget cuts and that everything sucks being a public employee right now.

However, you see, while I do agree somewhat that the whole Trayvon Martin thing has gotten way out of hand.  (overheard by some educators: “I went up to a kid protesting in Miami one day, and said, ‘Did you know who Trayvon Martin was?’  Kid replied, ‘Who?’  I said, ‘Take that hoodie off, son!'”)

But I don’t blame Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton or the Huffington Post for that one.  I blame you.

In a five minute wikipedia search, I found the link to the Florida state senate law describing “stand your ground”, and while it does indeed offer immunity to suspects who use deadly force and feel threatened, there are specifics within the law.  It doesn’t just say, “Oh boy, did someone come up behind you and say ‘Boo!’  And you shot them?  Self-defense?  K, go back home.”

It says…(quoting the notable sections)

776.012 Use of force in defense of person.—A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:

(1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; or
(2) Under those circumstances permitted pursuant to s. 776.013.
776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.—

(1) A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.
(2) A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.

776.041 Use of force by aggressor.—The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:

(2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:
(a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant;
[Check the whole text here before you pick a fight]
Surely I’m no legal scholar (else I would not be writing this blog, I hope).  But it seems like there’s a lot of room to squirm in here.  But nope.  It’s as simple as one dude being let off with miniscule investigation.  And it’s at very very very least something they should have looked over.  Perused.  Thought about.  Spent a few more minutes on.  Even a few more hours.
But alas.  You did not.  And now, you’ve got absolute hell to pay for it.  And you could have prevented it.
In an hour, a Florida state attorney will do the job you didn’t and press charges against George Zimmerman.  Which had you done your job, could have been over before March Madness swept the nation.   I won’t cry for you.  I know in my job, that my efforts to good faith report things and document the living hell out of things are at least worth it, because I know my position.  It’s just unfortunate that you didn’t do the same.
It’s not Sanford’s fault that Trayvon Martin died.  Stand Your Ground may be the law (and a shitty one at that), but it holds shooters immune from prosecution, not from investigation.  The absolute melee, media and otherwise, that has ensued, reaching all the way up to Attorney General Eric Holder?  That’s a different story.
Long story short: when it doubt, research it out.  Find ways to cover your ass before you try on a miniskirt.  And when uncertain, screw the NRA and their ridiculous backlash.  Do your job and arrest the dude.
Side note to individuals?  When you see something not quite right, speak up.  You can make a difference.  On so many levels.
I will be especially pissed if I can’t cry my way out of a speeding ticket the next time I’m crossing the St. John’s Bridge on I-4 the same way that some dude got away with murder by shouting a gun enthusiast slogan.
Yours Truly…

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furthermore! on how not to be a douche.

One of the things I love deeply about living in Wilton Manors is that I never, ever, ever get harassed.  Go deeper into straight-ville Bro-town Fort Lauderdale, and it’s all over the place.  I was outside a bar called The Poorhouse (which has just somehow gotten into serving five star bar food…so many contradictions) this summer and some dude grabbed my ass in a walk-by.  I shouted out as severe an obscenity as I could think of as loudly as I could down the street, but he probably still snickered as he walked away.  Fucking asshole.

I wrote a few months ago about an odd fellow whose pick-up line in a Panera parking lot while I was on my lunch was “EXCUSE ME!”  (Incidentally the same line I heard some dude yell in the Publix deli aisle as he was about to start a grocery store brawl – I was just trying to pick up fried chicken.)

But not only do I avoid harassment here, it seems, so does everyone else.  All of the bars here make their intentions clear, whether they be Bear Bars or places with names like Ramrod, whatevs.  But whatever happens indoors, it doesn’t lead out into the street.

One of the greatest mythologies that homophobes have, I think, is the idea that if they encounter someone who is gay, they’re going to get hit on and made uncomfortable.  Having lived here, in the US city with the 2nd highest number of homosexuals per capita behind San Fransisco, for a year and a half, neither my husband or I have ever experienced anything remotely akin to this.  I get hit on in creepy ways by straight men in lots of places, but neither of us is ever bothered here.  I see women get hit on in compromising, uncomfortable ways all the time, but I don’t see anyone hitting on anyone uncomfortably out here.

Maybe it’s because the gay community knows what it’s like to be maligned, even bullied.  But the streets of my small city are some of the safest places to walk at most times of either day or night, it seems.  And not just in conventional ways.

I was reading this article a few days ago, and what I love the most about it is that the author brings up ways in which dudes can gather females’ attention without being creepy, stalk-y, and harass-y.  One of the more important ones being of course, don’t touch her.  (Re: earlier statement – just because my ass is big, whether I’m wearing something short & tight or not, does not mean it’s communal property.  I have plenty of friends who I will freely permit to smack away.  But I don’t know you from pig shit, so kindly back the fuck away.)

I have a couple more to add:

1. Smile.  A smile from across the room is the simplest, most effective form of opening up communication.  It’s an invitation to initiate conversation.  And no, not in the Usher inspired “noticin’ you, noticin’ me” sort of manner.

2. Unless you meet at a fetish club/orgy party, sex talk can wait.  At a coffee shop?  Don’t make bad jokes about foam.  At a bookstore?  Leave out the “between the pages” talk.  You get the drift.  Don’t be a Casanova.  Just be a person.

3. Compliment a conscientious detail of his/her style you like.  “You have really cool glasses,” is obviously kind of a targeted line, but it works.  Compliment something that you can tell the target of your affection picked out themselves.  And yes, dudes, you can compliment a girl’s clothing choice without sounding gay, if you are needlessly worried about that.  A dude I dated forever ago who is now one of my all-time ever best friends first caught my attention when he complimented my black and grey plaid corderoy pants.

4. Don’t be artificially nice, just be nice.  I would advise from doing anything you feel that you can’t really keep up throughout the course of well, anything.  Honesty is a good point to start from.  Women, men, everyone is starving to meet people who are kind and who are also upfront.

5. Be thoughtful.  Don’t reuse “techniques” or old lines.  Think of something creative, but not too eager.  And if someone wants to be left alone, as previously mentioned, take a hint.  Sometimes women (or men or whoever) just want to be left alone.  Sometimes people doing things individually are not starving for company.  Sometimes they are eating on the way home from work while their husbands are in grad classes.

Just be cool.  And maybe it’ll make the world at least a slightly more tolerable place.

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eat it, Bachmann!

I was actually looking for reliable information on divorce rates for the decades in which I grew up (I turned 18 in 2000, which should give you a pretty good indicator of my youth-ness).

And I found this, which referenced Nate Silver, on whom I have had a huge crush for years. HIS BIG SEXY BRAIN!

Derp derp, same-sex marriages might actually decrease the divorce rate?!

Well, it’s kind of a shot.  There’s a chance it’s right.  Except that Silver is never.  Wrong.

Big.  Sexy.

Brain.  You got it!

(Addendum: T-storm might not be any use for statistical modeling, but he’s got a pretty big, sexy brain himself!)

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love & marriage

via brightphoto.ca & Dolly Couture

Two of our friends just got engaged!

This is super exciting news!  But it’s complicated.  And it shouldn’t be.

Really, the only thing that’s complicated is that they have to go to a state that will marry them, or wait until certain people catch up with the times. (Not looking good for Governor Palpatine here.)

They are a lesbian couple, and they are wholly awesome as individuals.  And as all great couples seem to be, they are even more fantastic together than they are separately.  They make each other better – you can feel it when they’re around each other.  I was so very excited to hear they got engaged, and then for a moment I got sad.

I hope to have many great accomplishments in my life, and I certainly hope I didn’t peak at 27.  (If I did, well then damn.  I’m in trouble.)  But I am satisfied in saying that getting engaged was the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me.  Anyone can travel the globe, or make the game-winning goal at the World Cup, or win a Nobel prize, but only I get to marry T-storm.  (Okay, that is SUPER hokey & exaggerated, but I do kinda feel that way.)

Not only was it a complete surprise, but he kind of knocked it out of the park in the way he went about it.  I was so thrilled, and the excitement I felt when it first happened is a lasting sort – I still get truly giddy when I think about it.

And I didn’t play it cool afterwards.  Not by a longshot.  I went bonkers berserk to anyone who would listen.  I was floating above the clouds for at least the next 36 hours.  I probably even made some bad work decisions based on how happy I was.  Nevertheless.

So I thought of our friends: I thought of how much they love each other,  how excited I am that they get to spend the rest of their lives together, and I thought of how there are others out there who actively fight to exclude these two totally wonderful people from getting to participate in some of the most beautiful aspects of being in love.

It made me so sad.  I’ve always been pro-gay marriage – it seems like such a non-issue to me and I truly cannot understand why anyone would be against it – and have watched other gay friends get married.  But now that I am ass-deep in planning and preparing for my own wedding, I feel it in my bones.  I feel such a deep sense of injustice that anyone would not recognize the sovereign love of these two people.  Just because both of them have boobs.

It’s clear to me how devoted they are to one another.  It’s clear to anyone within a 100 mile radius of them how devoted they are to one another.  Regardless of when they get married, or where they get married, I hope they plan the most badass crazy amazing celebration that anyone could imagine.  And I hope they each feel the same utter high that I have been riding for the last year and half.  And I will gladly fight anyone who tells them they should feel otherwise.

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landmark

Nothing like going to sleep at night, with everything full of good news.  It is amazing how, despite how much terrible crap that happens, people standing up for what is right can still make such a huge huge difference.

The Empire State Goes Gay - and Is Loving It!

This is a freaking game-changer.

We were at a Stonewall Pride parade on Sunday, in our neighborhood (seriously – at the same time, everyone poured out of their homes to walk down the street, even though the weather was awful, to be there for this event), and there was a lot of hugging your neighbor encouraged.  One of our cadre of friends there was told he had to hug, and say thank you, to someone else in the crowd.  Turns out the guy he was directed to hug was actually at Stonewall on the night of the famous riots.

I don’t know the guy’s name, but I too, want to thank him, for standing up for what’s right.  And I want to hug the four Republican senators who did the same tonight.

The smell of victory.

My twitter went absolutely bonkers tonight, everything all on the same subject.  It was kind of amazing.  Since twitter has been overrun with self-promoting celebrities, I read that Joy Beyhar twote that the best thing about the gay marriage law passing was the right-wingers going nuts.  And I completely disagree.

The best thing about this legislation passing is that it leads to more equality, more civil rights, and overall, an expression of more love in the world.  Isn’t that what we really always need?

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