Saturday, October 10, 2015

How reading an offensive facebook posts made me a better person

We all do it. You read some asshole high school classmate’s facebook post, get angry about what a racist/classist/political crazy/general nutball this person is, you type several responses that aren’t suitable for public consumption and then decide to just keep scrolling. This is sort of my life. It’s all just one big hate scroll really.

A few weeks ago a facebook friend posted about a negative customer service experience they had at a chipotle-style restaurant. They also posted their response to the situation and my first thought was, “well we all have our classist moments…I’m not sure I’d want to put mine on blast like that.” As I kept thinking about it over the next few days (yes, I think about other people facebook posts for days…I’m sure it’s perfectly healthy). I found myself irritated that this person had no idea that their behavior was not only not brag worthy but also something that illustrates a lack of understanding of their own class privilege.

I suppose I should back up, just so we’re all clear on terms. For the class I teach I define most of the “-isms” (racism, sexism, etc) as “power + predjudice.” So now we all know what I’m talking about.

Anyhow, where were we? Oh, I’ve decided that my facebook friend is kind of a classist jerk. Right. Now fast forward to the following weekend. I find myself in Costco in a bit of a rush needing my flat tire fixed (aren’t we always in a rush when this happens?) and of course the tire shop cashier is…so…slow. By the time I’m at the counter I find myself a little annoyed and probably grouchier than I need to be. And I was totally curt with this guy. I actually felt bad and promptly apologized. It seemed that he’s pretty used to jerks like me because he hadn’t seemed to notice that I was being a jerk. As I sat in the food court eating my pizza I realized…I’m the facebook asshole! Not necessarily the person who broadcasts my classist shit on facebook (although I’ve probably been guilty of this at various points as well) but rather the person who allows myself to treat other people poorly in public because I’ve trained myself to believe that people in the service industry owe me something. Rather than considering that their job might be hard, or busy, or a little shitty sometimes... I expect to never be inconvenienced because I’m smart, educated (those are different, btw) and can afford to pay for certain things at a retail store. This somehow makes me important right? Well, sort of. Just in so far as we are all important, really.

Now I don’t think I’m more important than people who work retail (based on facebook I think the friend might actually think he is more important or smarter than the people they interact with at the grocery store) but there is something going on there right? What if the tire shop worker had been someone I perceived as more powerful than me? Say, a judge or something? Would I behaved the same way? Probably not. For the last few days I’ve been asking myself what that’s about and I’ve been making an effort to behave differently.

So now we arrive at the moral of my story which is… facebook hate scrolling actually improved my life and made me a better person. Post on assholes of the world, maybe we’ll all be a little better for it.  Also, by the way, my tire is totally fucked. I have to buy a new rim. I’m pretty sure it’s classist karma.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Summer Adventures

It's almost labor day! That means that summer is winding to a close and I'm pretty excited to have some closure on summer. It's been a rough one. Just because we had a stressful few months doesn't mean that we didn't get some fun out of summer. Here are some of the highlights from our outside adventures. 

These are some of my favorite pictures of Olivia. We were planning to on a hike so Truman packed a couple sandwiches (in a reusable bag because we are hippies) and set it down. Olivia nabbed it and would not give it up. After a pretty impressive tug of war Truman decided to trade her a piece of hot dog for the sandwich bag. I found this hilarious. This dog is awesome and she just keeps surprising us. Back in January the vet gave her "weeks or months" to live...and in July she was still stealing sandwiches. It's pretty awesome. 

In July we went on a fun day hike up Mt. Flora a peak near berthoud pass that's just under 14,000 feet tall. We hiked about 6 miles and it wasn't painful which was pretty great. I guess some of those exercise classes are paying off. 

Every August some friends of ours plan a tubing trip outside of Lake George, CO. Last year we bought a two person pool raft for Katy but she popped it pretty quickly. This year we tossed her on top of Truman which she was pretty skeptical about. It made for some hilarious pictures though. 

 Happy Truman, skeptical Katy. 

 Brave Katy.

 Selfie attempt. 

 This is Katy's thinking face. 

The crew (minus Truman who was taking the picture and Leonard who was fishing). 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Family Pictures

I've always sort of wanted family pictures. I do photography on the side and I've taken family photos for a few families but it turns out it's kind of hard to take pictures of yourself. So last week we had Natalie Marie Photography come to our new house (and, um, WE GOT THE HOUSE...more on that later) and take some pictures of Truman, the dogs and I.

Honestly, in January Olivia was unbelievably sick and even the specialist gave her "weeks or months" to live. We're so thankful that she's still going on strong in July but there's always a sneaking feeling that we're on borrowed time. And, well, I wanted some fabulous pictures of the dogs while Olivia is still around and healthy. Here are a few of our favorites, the dogs now have better headshots than most nonprofit professionals I know:

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Missing My Grandpa Already

My grandfather passed away yesterday morning. He was 90 years old and I already miss him terribly. My grandpa was an awesome guy. At 90 he was still in good health. He lived on his own, was still up on politics and what was happening in the world (he was pro marriage equality). I sent him postcards from anywhere I went (whether it was camping a few hours from our house or international vacations) and when we were in person we still had great conversations about family or history or current events.

I think Mexican grandparents are a little more honest than other grandparents and he and my grandmother were always some of the first people who would tell you that you looked nice...or that you'd gained a little weight. After my grandma passed he even still went shopping for Christmas gifts for a couple years and actually had remarkably good taste in sweaters for me.

He was born in 1924, a handful of years before the beginning of the great depression. His dad was able to support the family throughout the depression and my grandpa would tell stories of not having the same clothes as the cool kids. He said that he later realized that the other kids had clothing that had been provided by the government but that his parents we able to provide him with clothes.

It was pretty cool having both my grandparents at Oxy's Latino grad.

Christmas 2009. Just call us the Kardashians. Grandpa and I were taking selfies before selfies were cool.

While my family was in town for my law school graduation in 2011 we rented one of those 16 person bikes and went bar hoping in Denver. Grandpa originally thought it was a set of 16 regular bikes and that he's have to pedal on two wheels, at 86 that idea made him pretty nervous but he showed up anyway. He was pleasantly surprised that he could just sit on the back and not have to pedal at all. Years later that Pale Ale necklace was still hanging in his house.

We shared a love of a good hat.

He didn't have much luck with weddings. The day after he got home from my wedding in 2012 he was hospitalized with pneumonia and the day after Brandon's wedding (picture below) he was hospitalized with liver issues. We were both pretty excited to have him at our weddings though.

The incredible shrinking man! Ok, my bother is more than 6 feet tall so this picture is a little grandpa was shrinking though. On his 90th birthday we did a little photo shoot thanks to my friend Myles. This picture of Brandon and grandpa cracking up is one of my favorites. Rumor has it that my grandfather was a bit of a curmudgeon for many years. Kind of light hearted aren't works commonly used to describe him before he reached his 60s. Thankfully, I only knew him once the years had lightened him up a bit. The man I knew was thankful for his life, took pride in sticking it to the government by living way longer than social security expected him to, and shared my appreciation for the sillier things in life.

Laughing and drinking and eating tacos at his surprise 90th birthday party.

It's hard to believe that he started to get sick the day after these pictures were taken. You'd never know from the silly photo booth pictures that he'd be hospitalized the next day. I'm so glad Truman and I were both in California for Brandon's wedding and that the whole family got to spend time together. I'll miss visiting him when we're in LA, I'll miss sending him post cards, and I'll miss his matter of fact approach to life. My parents and I rarely see eye to eye on politics but my grandparents and I usually did; despite a 60 year age gap, grandpa and I were often able to chat about history or politics and I would smile about how we'd often come to the same conclusions about the world. I'm thankful that he wasn't sick for a long time, that he was always able to make his own medical decisions, and that he died pretty peacefully...I sure do miss him already though.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Remembering Ricky

A few weeks ago (I can't believe it's been that long) Truman and a group of friends were on a rafting trip where a friend passed away on the river. It's not my story to tell but it's been terrible. As we've talked with Ricky's wife and family empathetic me has really had a hard time not seeing myself in them. A lot of the activities Truman does (and to some extent a lot of the activities we do together) carry inherent risk. Terrible things can happen and a couple weeks ago a terrible thing did happen. I don't know what I would do or feel like or be like if this had been my husband.

I actually didn't know Ricky all that well (we'd see each other at parties, that kind of thing) but I've really enjoyed hearing people share stories about him. One of the things that has stuck with me as I've continued to process stuff is that Ricky stressed the importance of choosing happiness. Between this rafting accident, some house stuff, and some other yucky life stuff this summer hasn't gotten off to the best start but I'm trying to practice conscious happiness. It's actually a somewhat difficult skill but I'm finding moments of grace and moments of surprise where I actually am able to appreciate the silver lining.

So here's to honoring Ricky, to learning new skills, and to practicing happiness.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What John Stewart Got Wrong

I spend a lot of time thinking about race, power, privilege and racism. I teach Chicanos and the Law at a university and my full time gig has a lot to do with voting rights. And I'm just a critical race theory geek. Between my personal interest, academia, and what I'm paid to do, this stuff occupies a lot of my world. When about 20 of my (mostly white) facebook friends post a link to the Daily Show intro about the shooting in Charleston I finally decided to click on it.

First, let me acknowledge the good stuff. I do really like Jon Stewart and the daily show. I love that a mainstream television talked about race and our fucked up relationship with it! On top of that the piece was appropriately emotional and captured the hopeless feeling that many of us sometimes have. And it made a reference to racism being an inherent part of our culture. All that was great.

What the segment got wrong was that it continued to talk about racism as if racism is just an individual with prejudices. Stewart talks about how disrespectful the news programs that talk about killings like these as nuanced are. "This one is black and white," he says. The problem is that that kind of thinking endorses the idea that a "racist" (a term I actually don't like at all) is someone who has a conscious and active dislike of a person simply because of their race or ethnicity. Sure, that person is definitely racist but an explicit hatred because of race is not what's actually required here. Stewart goes on to talk about how roads in the south are named after confederate generals. Sure that's bad but, as this blogger pointed out, even if every road was re-named and every KKK member changed their ways we would still have racism. We'd still have wealth and educational disparities. We'd still have people who have a general fear of other (darker) people. We'd still have African American women with worse health and birth outcomes that are worse than their white peers. We'd still have microaggressions and stereotype threat and people of color, in particular black people, who just have a harder time walking in the world.

In my class we definite racism of power plus privilege and distinguish it from prejudice or bigotry. Racism a system that has been set up to advantage white people. And saying you don't see color or that you love everyone or that you have (one) black friend is never going to be enough to dismantle that system. You actually have to examine and challenge your own privilege...which is significantly harder than just taking down an racist flag, renaming a street, or arresting a shooter.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Why you haven't heard from me in a while

The alternate title for this post is #FirstWorldProblems

June has been a crazy busy month. I can't believe we're only 18 days in. All of our friends decided that 2015 was the year to get married so we are going to a total of six weddings this summer. I love weddings and I love our friends but spending the last 3 of 4 weekends celebrating nuptials (two of which were out of state) has been a bit exhausting.

Oh top of that we decided to look for a bigger house. Seven offers later (the Denver housing market is insane!) we had an offer accepted...the day before I had to fly out for my brother's wedding. Which was, coincidentally a huge day of jumping through administrative hoops for Truman's business. I wont go into detail because I don't love talking about work on my blog but this was a project that he and I had been working on for months and one that had a big impact on the future of his company. Bridesmaid duties, flying out, having to get earnest money in, and dealing with heavy business stuff. All in 24 hours, no biggie.

I didn't mention that Truman had pulled up our carpet about two days before the offer was accepted on the new house. This meant that we had to refinish our wood floors (and have some new stuff installed). So we packed about 50% of what we own into pods, packed up the dogs and stayed at a friends house for a week while our hardwoods were being refinished. Then we jetted off to Minneapolis for Jane's wedding. We got back Monday morning at 2a, thanks to a delayed flight, and then I started teaching my summer class on Tuesday.

The home buying process is almost always stressful and unpleasant but this one has been especially stressful and unpleasant. We started with the loan broker from hell and things have just gotten more complicated from there. We're suppose to close on this new house at the beginning of July...I'm optimistic that that will actually happen but there are definitely still some big hurdles to clear. Please send us good house buying vibes.

So we've been busy every weekend, half my stuff (of course the half I feel like I need) is in boxes, we hope we're actually going to moved, and I'm discovering that adding a teaching gig to all of this is a little tough during the summer.

The final layer: I feel totally guilty about being stressed about any of it. On one hand we have a lovely and fortunate life. We have great friends who are falling in love, we have good jobs, and we might move into a house we love. My problems are not real problems in that lots of people would love to have these problems. Intellectually I know all of that but emotionally, I'm stressed and the home buying process is making other things feel not fun. So then I feel guilty about feeling stressed over problems people would actually choose to have. And then I feel worse about the whole thing.

And then I crawl into a hole and don't return my friends text messages (sorry Jeremiah!). But I'm working on it...and we had a lovely time at Aubrey and Michael's beautiful Boulder wedding where we made friends with an entire people and I played an extrovert for the night...and I do really hope this house thing works out because we kind of love the new place...and if it doesn't we have very pretty new wood floors.

The rain held off until after the first kiss! Yay for good weather. 

Aww, don't they look happy?

I managed to do my makeup in the car and not coming out looking like a clown. This is a skill that has taken no less than 15 years to begin to become proficient at. 

Happy friends in love. We've very thankful that they included us in their special day.