Wishing for Equality

Today I choose to use Birthday Wish power on the big issue of the day:

Marriage Equality!!!

I choose to write about this today because today is the birthday of another wonderful woman/blogger/friend, Kathy from Reinventing the Event Horizon. She is also one of the few bloggers whom I have met live and in person.

Meeting fellow bloggers Kathy McCullough and Tori Nelson. Picture borrowed from Kathy's post about the experience. Click on the image to read that post.

Meeting fellow bloggers Kathy McCullough and Tori Nelson. Picture borrowed from Kathy’s post about the experience.

Kathy and her partner Sara are two  of the most amazing, caring, intelligent and talented women I’ve ever met, and I have met a lot of amazing, caring, intelligent and talented women.

They are also one of the most loving and supportive couples I’ve ever known.

Kathy and Sara

They, and so many like them, deserve to marry if they wish.

So today I choose to use the power of birthday wishes, tapping into the power of Kathy’s birthday, to wish that the Supreme Court recognizes that equality for all doesn’t mean equality for only the people who look/think/act/love and behave like one group who wants to define and control everyone else.

Equality for all looks like equality, plain and simple.

Today I Speak for Women

I know, I cannot speak for all women.

But I still have to speak.

I am a woman. I have a brain, a heart, a body, a mind. I have feelings and emotions. I can think for myself.  I can support myself. I am educated, perhaps over educated.

I am a mother. I have also lost a child to a miscarriage.

I am a wife, but I lived single for more years than I ever had a partner.

I have been sexually molested, not rape exactly but molestation. I have only shared that story with a few. In addition,  I have large breasts, and in my younger days they become objects of lust and ridicule. I have felt shame in my body, and fear because of my body.

I have been silenced and I have spoken up.

But no matter what has happened I have always believed that I have value and that I offer more to society then just the ability to give birth. I have always believed that women were equal if not stronger than men. I have always believed that women could stand against tyranny, if they could only learn to stand together rather than compete against each other.

I have always been grateful that we had moved beyond the time when a woman was property of first her father, then her husband. I thought that we were slowly coming closer to recognizing the value of all human beings, no matter what race, sex, sexual orientation, religion or any other defining characteristics.

I guess I thought wrong.

Every day, every piece of news I hear makes me weep or scream! I become angrier and more ashamed of  who we have become with every ounce of injustice that is being introduced into our country, as hypocrites try to push us back in time where women are nothing but property and the only people who matter are the ones who look and act the same as everyone else.

Today I speak for women. Today I speak for gays. Today I speak for immigrants. Today I speak for anyone who is feeling oppressed by a government out of control and a group of righteous people who clamor for their rights to believe what they believe while trying to control anyone who believes differently.

I have had enough!

I decided to reread Lysistrata by Aristophanes, a play about women from different countries who unite together in withholding sex until the men of their worlds agree to declare peace.

After all, this fight has become about sex, religion and power.

What would happen, I wonder, if we gave into the demands of no contraception and no sex before marriage? If we said, okay, don’t give us contraception but then we will not have sex until we are ready. Well, some would argue, it is a wife’s duty to have sex with her husband. Okay, then we choose not to marry until we are ready to have children, until after we have created our careers and lived the lives want to live. We will not marry until after 30 or 35 or maybe we will choose never to marry, and we will not have sex before marriage. Having children will become more difficult, but at least we won’t be on birth control.

Is the next law going to be that women must marry before they are 25? Are we going to become nothing more than property again?

Now I am not foolish enough to think that anything like Lysistrata could actually succeed. The women in that comedy won, because they banished egos and overcame their own libidos to stand strong together for peace. That could not happen now, because there is too much disagreement between women, and because women compete too often against each other. Nor am I foolish enough to blame all men, or only men, for the craziness happening in this world.

The only thing that I seem to be a fool to believe is that somehow people will ever recognize that equality, justice, fairness and peace are more valuable than power, control, money, and war.

I have no answers, but I have a voice that needs to be heard. I can only hope the more I speak, the more I write, the more other people might join their voices.

We can only fight this insanity if we join together as a group, and agree that our diversity makes us stronger. We can only fight this insanity if we recognize that every person in society is valuable, and that nobody is more important than anyone else.

I am a woman, and today I speak for my daughter.

A World Sliding Backwards

I had a little wrangle with bureaucracy today and gave up in a fit of frustration (or maybe a temper tantrum).

I simply wanted to accept my current reality and change my driver’s license from Colorado to Kansas. I admit, I clung to the Colorado license for a couple of reasons. Ostensibly, I held onto it because we owned the house in Durango, and I thought it would be good for one of us to still be considered a resident. In reality, though, I did not want to say good bye to Durango, and even more I didn’t want to embrace my existence in Kansas. There was also the fact that they took a really cute license photo last time, and I didn’t want to let it go.

But, we officially closed on the house and it looks like I’m stuck living here for a while longer, so I figured it was time to give in and get a new driver’s license.

“Do you have your birth certificate and marriage license?”

“Well, no.”

“A current passport will do. We need you to prove your married name.”

“But I didn’t change my name when I got married. I’ve had this name on every license since I was 16.”

“We need your passport or your birth certificate and marriage license. Oh, and proof of address.”

“Well, I’m moving into a new rental in a few weeks. I was hoping I could put that address on.”

“Not without proof.”

Needless to say, I still have my Colorado license for a while. I have my passport, but I could not deal with the bureaucracy anymore today. Besides, I feel like the passport isn’t going to be enough, because I kept my name when I got married. Its like I did something wrong, daring to maintain my identity and keep my last name.

Don’t get me wrong. I see nothing wrong with taking your husband’s name when you get married. But for me, it didn’t feel right for a number of reasons. I reserve the name change for my future (imaginary) career as a radio talk show host a la Dr. Ruth–then I will become Dr. Lisa Lee the Love Dr.

We could be twins. 😉

What really bothers me about all this was the implication about my name. I suddenly recognized that marriage, in the eyes of some laws, means that I am the property of my husband, or at the very least his legal responsibility. I mean, nobody asked him for his marriage license when he changed to the Kansas license last year. Why should I have to provide mine?

I am the property of nobody. I am responsible for myself.

Is that craziness, or just Kansas?

Well, after I finally finished jumping through bureaucratic hoops (I also had to pay for my tags today–a nice chunk of change) Sarah and I got lunch at the only coffee shop in town. I read the Tulsa paper as I was waiting only to be repulsed by the fact that Kansas is trying to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, while also forcing them and two other agencies that provide abortions to go through some inspections to grant them the right to perform abortions–inspections which might inevitably fail in pulling those rights (they’ve already yanked it from one of the three). That would make Kansas the only state to not provide any resources for this as well as the first state to pull all funding from a State Arts Council.

So basically, I believe I am now living in a state that wants me barefoot, pregnant, and the property of my husband without the ability to support myself by doing the work I do the best which involves Arts Education.

You know what scares me the most? The potential that our country could easily continue to slide in this horrific direction–backwards to a world where equality exists only in the mouths of men.

 

The Balance of the Detail

When I created my little award the other day, I sparked an interesting discussion on the role of detail in writing.

So, for the sense of clarity, I’m going to go a little more into detail about what I meant. 😉

I’m not arguing for long, drawn out passages of purple prose that try to paint a picture for the reader that would be better done through a visual. Nor am I arguing for sentences that wrap words around each other in a complex convolution that ultimately has no meaning or does not move the story forward. I’m the first person to skim through those verbose passages as my inner vision never matches the description anyway. I will put down a book that tries so hard to be linguistically beautiful that the author says nothing with a lot of words.

No, the magic details that I referred to are those simple details that bring a story or a passage to life. Those details could be expressed in a few words, but with those few words an entire character/place/emotion comes to life. Those are the details that I want to learn to weave more strongly into my own writing.

I’ve been reading argument paper drafts this morning. One of my students wanted to argue about gay marriage, and why it should be allowed. Now, I obviously support gay marriage, but this particular student’s paper was completely unconvincing. The only argument he used was the fact that in  America “every man is created equal.” He kept repeating this argument throughout the paper, until he threw in a list I’ve seen before of sarcastic arguments about why gay marriage should not be allowed. (He also did not cite the list properly, but that’s a whole different issue).  We all know that our country doesn’t  really practice what it preaches, and gays are not the only ones who suffer because of it. So, without more details, his argument suffered because it wasn’t really an argument, it was a rant.

That’s my problem, rants without support. Rants without details.

As I was thinking about this post this morning (since about 4 am when insomnia struck again) I remembered a poem I wrote a while back that I haven’t really shared. Why? Because this poem came from the details around me, and I think those details support its meaning. It is not perfect, but I thought I would share. I am putting this in as a PDF, since I can never figure out how to make the formatting on my poems work.:

HOUSE OF BITTERNESS

So, to sum it all up, don’t worry that I am going to bore you with long, detailed descriptions of meaningless drivel. My challenge to myself is to learn to  perfect my use of  details, not to abuse them.

Finally I will share with you a couple of images I am stealing borrowing from my brother, because I love the details.

The Magic is in the Details

Writing

Today I want to point out two magnificent posts from the past week that have made me realize something about my own writing, something that I am going to challenge myself to change. Both these writers captured me with the eloquence of their details–details which made the locations and people that they were writing about  come alive in my heart and  my brain.

Ed, over at Salt ‘n Peppah, wrote this stunning descriptive passage on a day when  New York took a positive step toward change by legalizing gay marriage:

“The Stonewall Inn was barely open this early afternoon. “The gays” typically don’t begin bar hopping until much later in the early evening, so the bar was deserted, except for a short little fire plug bartender named typically, Joe. He welcomed us in immediately as if desperate for company on this miserable Saturday afternoon. Folding our dripping umbrellas and leaving them by the front door, I looked around. You could smell the age and the mustiness of this dark and dingy place. A thick painted tin ceiling and dark poster filled walls hugged us as small tables were tossed about a small elevated “stage” hardly protected by a single red velvet rope. Black and white photos of the now famous “Stonewall Riots” were haphazardly placed around on the deep paneled walls of this establishment. Framed newspaper and magazine clippings of history were draped behind the bar. Somehow the light of day made this bar look like me when I wake up in the morning. Raw and exposed. Pale and puffy. Vulnerable yet somehow as cozy as the thick fleece robe I throw on to ward off the early morning chill.”

(Here’s the link to the rest of his post, called “Stonewall“.) Eds post was powerful because of its timeliness, but also because of  the details. He described a place in a way that showed an emotion and brought into focus the world around us. I wish I could do that. Yes, I know that I am good at ideas and issues, but I feel severely lacking in the details.

As usual  when I read Kathy’s post at Reinventing the Invent Horizon, my awe of people who can  write the details so they strengthen the message only grew.  Kathy is a master at  making details come to life to show the truth in the story she shares. Here’s an example from the post called “Close Encounters with Well-Wigged Old Women and other Adventures in Government-Subsidized Housing”:

“Bea, like Evelyn, had obviously, at one time, been a stunningly beautiful woman, a fact betrayed by facial features that shown through despite her age—high cheek bones and big, blue eyes that still twinkled when she smiled.

Bea was one of the few ladies in the group who didn’t wear a wig, and for a woman well into her 90s she had a head of gorgeous, light brown curls.  True her hair was largely gray, but she retained enough of the brown to surprise you, since otherwise she looked so old and borderline antique.

Bea was also one of the ladies who slept most afternoons, waking herself up every few minutes with her own overly-sized snores.

But then again, Bea never stayed more than 30 minutes at a time, as when nicotine called at least twice an hour, she struggled to her feet from the over-stuffed chair, shuffled her pink-slippered feet across the industrial blue carpet, and disappeared into her apartment several doors down, only to reemerge a few minutes later having snuck a cigarette or two, still insisting upon her return that she had had to use the rest room or make a phone call.  Never mind she smelled like smoke over the tic-tac she sucked and the Avon she had sprayed post-puff.”

The magic is in the details.

I am setting myself a writing challenge this week. I am going to focus on the details of whatever stories I write. I’m going to write stories that have details, not just the rants that I seem to be known for. But, I need your help, because as much as I want to do this, I’m also afraid. So here is how you can help, if you would like. Ask me specific questions. Some of you have read me enough to know that I have had a bizarre life, but for some reason I find it trouble to write about the details of that life. I avoid the specifics, and write more about the sweeping philosophies and lessons learned. Maybe, if you ask me specific questions, I’ll be able to focus more on the details.

I know that is my next step to grow as a writer. Can you help?

In order to help me do this, I decided to create an award that I am giving to Ed and Kathy. I’m not very good at creating graphics, so forgive my lame attempt (and if someone is better at it and wants to improve the details of my design please let me know). But here is the first official The Magic is in the Details Award. Congratulations to Ed and Kathy–ignore this as you will.

 

It All Comes Down to Sex

A scarlet letter

Image by Monceau via Flickr

After reading this article Firing Melissa Petro Would Be Indefensible and Intolerable I’ve come to realize that the biggest problem in American society all comes down to sex.

Okay, maybe religion and money play a role too.

But seriously, from my perspective and from the blogs I follow sex holds sway over so much of our society’s twisted attitude toward . . . well . . . everything.

Think about it:

  • Melissa Petro may lose her job and never be able to teach again based on the fact that she was honest about selling sex and stripping in the past. I, for one, would love to have her teaching my daughter. I value innovative, creative, honest teachers. I would rather have her in the classroom than a teacher that hides behind puritanical values that do not allow for the students to learn anything about real life. Should we go back to the days of Schoolmarms of yesteryear, who only taught until they married and took on the role of wife? Or maybe all school teachers who have actually had sex or done something not quite proper in their past should be labelled with a scarlet letter so that students and parents could beware. The school halls would certainly be colorful then.
  • Political races are often won or lost based on the abortion issue. Now remind me, where do babies come from?
  • Rules governing how we raised our children are often based on irrational fears of the predators in our midst. This suggests that as a society we are all warped and twisted people who can never control our sexual urges or any other evil acts. For great insight into this trend check another of my favorite WordPress sites http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/
  • Don’t forget the constant political, social and religious debates about Gay Marriage or DADT. Another issue that is really based on who gets to have sex with whom, and who has the legal right to have sex. (I am not diminishing the complexity of either issue. I know there is more at issue than sex).
  • People may argue that money and power are the real issues, but let’s look at it this way. Many of the people who have more money and/or power in this country, also have more scandal/divorces and . . . let’s say it . . . issues with SEX.

So folks, I’ll say it again. It all comes down to SEX.

What do you think?

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