Sunday, May 8, 2016

1953 Called. They'd Like Their Racists Back.

Grace and I have done quite a bit of travelling between Texas and Mississippi to visit our favorite aunt. About two years ago when we made our annual trek, we saw a sign on 1-20 in Louisiana warning that up ahead of us they were doing random drug searches, so we should be prepared to stop. We both had a good laugh because they'd be really disappointed if they pulled us over. All they'd find was about 30 pairs of shoes and a bottle of Excedrin Migraine.

Apparently that stretch of highway is a big one for marijuana trafficking and today the Louisiana State Police were out in full force. I, myself, was not making the drive. NJ was and, in the metropolis of Minden, LA he was randomly selected to be pulled over.

Except the part where his selection was not so random as one would like to believe.

According to the officer who pulled him over, he was selected because his truck "looks like a Mexican drives it."

For fifteen minutes, my husband stood on the side of the road on I-20 while he was questioned, had to explain his tattoos (this has happened several times, including right here in our hometown by our local police), and while a drug dog searched his truck.

Because it looked like a Mexican drives it.

And, even though he is only half Hispanic, his birth certificate and all his "official" paperwork where he has to list his ethnic make-up say he is of Hispanic descent.

So, a Mexican was driving the truck. A hardworking Hispanic man who is making a 10 hour drive back to Mississippi so he'd have enough time to sleep before he had to work all night at his legal job remodeling big box stores--not transporting marijuana from Texas, as, apparently, Mexicans do.

This is the second incident in five months where NJ has been targeted because of his darker shade of pale. On Christmas Eve, he was leaving Kohls and the security alarm went off as he and another man--a white man--were walking out of the store. NJ was grabbed by the store manager who asked to search his bag. No one tried to stop the white man. He came back in a few moments later on his own and said he thought it was, in fact, his bag that set off the alarm. And it was.

That very same day, Grace and I were walking out of Academy and I set off the alarm. The store manager just waved us through and told us not to worry about it, the alarm was probably just acting up. It was actually a sensor I didn't realize was on my purse and every time it set off an alarm before a sweet girl at Walmart deactivated it for me, I was simply told to go on. My bags were never checked. I was never looked at with suspicion. And I was most definitely never grabbed from behind.

And it's absolutely because of my whiteness.

Remember that song from Sunday School, "Jesus Loves the Little Children?'
Yeah, the Louisiana State Police officer who pulled my husband over
today apparently forgot the words.

I've always known that racism is alive and well in this country. I mean seriously, I live in the south and when I'm not in Texas, I'm generally in Arkansas or Mississippi. None of these three states exactly have a stellar reputation for tolerance and racial equality. But, I continue to be shocked at how far backwards we seem to be going. It's like there is a growing faction of truly evil people in America that wants to harass, oppress and punish anyone who doesn't look like them or think like them.

It's like we've learned nothing from the horror of the past and we're hell bent on repeating those disgusting sins again.

I don't know what the answer is to make any of this better. People don't change and there's nothing you can do to get rid of their hateful, ugly prejudice. All I know is what I can do, which is speak up when I see and hear hate and intolerance--even when I know it's going to get my ass in trouble.

 I'd much rather get in trouble for standing up to hatred than letting my fear allow it to continue unchecked.

I'm only one woman, but I'm loud as hell.

 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Conversations that only happen at my house

In August, NJ's mom died. Not his biological mother (as far as we know, anyway), but the woman who actually raised and loved him. Some of you who follow me on Facebook (you can follow me by clicking on the link over on the left if you're so inclined) may remember my getting intoxicated early in the morning in order to survive the very long road trip to Missouri with my husband to attend her funeral. And my confusion over Route 66.

A couple of weeks ago, my sister-in-law mentioned she was going to send NJ some of their mom's ashes, but I forgot to relay the message.

Which led to the following conversation yesterday after receiving this package:

No, it didn't come with the hearts and lips. I was trying to
protect everyone's privacy and that "blur" tool on the
picture editor on the phone sucks. But, at least
I went with a theme.
NJ (holding the package up in the air): What's this?

CTM: Your mom. Literally.

NJ (shaking the package and not even cracking a smile, so I think he was serious): It doesn't feel like my mom.

I just turned my lawnmower back on and walked away from him.

Later, when I let my sister-in-law know we'd received the package, she said, "I was kind of nervous mom was going to be mistaken for drugs."

We hadn't yet opened the package, and due to the fact I don't get a lot of dead people ashes in the mail, I was not sure what to expect.

But when we did, it all became very clear:

NJ's mom, not cocaine. I did just google "brick of cocaine"
on my work computer, though, so I'm guessing HR
will have some serious questions tomorrow morning.
NJ, being NJ was like, "Wow, now we have my dad's friend's ashes, my dad, Moco 1 (you'd think I'd stop letting him name animals since we now have Mocho 2, yet yesterday he named a baby chick Aileen Wuornos* because her beak is red on the end like she just killed something) and my mom. We have a lot of ashes."

Mmmmhmmm, that's not comforting because I don't think other people have this many dead bodies in their house.

Unless they run a funeral home. Or kill people.

Seriously.

*I just googled "Aileen Wuornos" on my work computer, too, so I'm pretty sure HR is confused, worried and a little scared right now. And the NSA is totally watching me. All before noon on a Sunday. I'm totally an overachiever.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Peace

I don't have a lot of peaceful moments in my life. Not in like a I-have-a-miserable-life-and-am-never-happy way. Like forty zillion other people, I get up four days a week, commute an hour to work, do a job that isn't exactly making the world a better place, where I definitely don't fit in (that's another blog post for another day) and I write tons of words I get absolutely no credit for, but it does pay the bills (thank you, baby Jesus!). Then I get back in my car and commute an hour/hour and a half home. By the time I get here, I have just enough energy to feed the animals, make myself a bowl of cereal and collapse into bed around 8:30, which allows me to get up and do the one thing I absolutely love every morning--workout. Yes, I am that asshole.

My Friday work-from-home days are really all that keep me going because that commute sucks the life out of me. The weekends are spent doing all the things I'm too tired to do when I get home, so even then, I get a few peaceful moments, but not as many as I'd like.

Again, I'm not complaining. It's all part of adulting and, for the most part, adulting blows.

But this weekend was different. This weekend, I went to my peaceful place: my little backyard "farm". I spent almost 12 hours outside getting my garden beds ready and working on expanding things so we can have the "farm" we've wanted for a couple of years. I put my Americana/Folk Station on Spotify and I tilled our new expanded garden area:

This was my first time to till and I did manage to somehow punch myself in
the stomach with my tiller, which lead me to believe the tiller
was fat shaming me. Also, tilling is quite possibly best full body workout ever.
All the places on my body still hurt.


I turned the soil in all my raised beds and tore down the chicken wire that did nothing to keep my chickens out of the beds and NJ and I created a real chicken proof design, complete with a door so I can actually get into the bed and pick my produce and weed:

My job was mostly just to hold things while NJ nailed and
screwed them into place. I did, however, put the handle on my door.
With a power tool. I am more of a man than the men I work
with. Except the one I think is packing heat.




We laughed and laughed at our girls as they ran themselves ragged "helping" us clear the garden beds and till. Garden prep time is always their favorite time of year because it's a bug and worm free for all.

I feel like they probably should've been way more scared
of the tiller since I was the one operating it, but they had all
the confidence in the world in their mommy. The
same cannot be said for their daddy who looked
like I was about to give him a stroke.
 
And, to help me cope with the tragic loss of two babies I rescued last weekend, NJ decided it was time for me to get back on the horse and add to our little brood, so we added three more little ladies to our chicken family:

As I type this, they are throwing a hissy fit because I turned out the grow 
light and put the heater on for bed time. They are just like toddlers.
 
I worked my ass off yesterday. My Fitbit said I got almost 16,000 steps, climbed something like 14 floors and walked over six miles. My hands were so sore and blistered I could barely open and close them by the time I finally got in the shower.

But you know what? I wasn't stressed. I wasn't beat down. I didn't feel like I'd worked all freaking day for nothing that will improve the world. I was outside doing things that will reduce my carbon footprint, raise healthy, chemical free food for my family and I worked with my husband to build something we can be proud of.

That's the biggest part of all of it I think: I'm proud of the work I did yesterday. I'm proud of the work we did yesterday.

I was 1000% in my element and I finally felt at peace.

And I needed that.

Friday, February 26, 2016

A Guide to Voting in the Texas Primary

March 1st is a very big day in Texas (and 11 other states and one territory). It's Super Tuesday--the day when all of these states (and the one territory) hold their primaries and caucuses to distribute a whole bunch of delegates that could potentially really start to narrow down the field of presidential candidates. There are 595 Republican delegates up for grabs and 1004 for the Democrats. I don't know why the numbers are different. Actually, I kind of do, but not enough to try to explain it and then angrily get corrected and called ugly names by internet trolls. If I want to subject myself to all that, I'll have a conversation with my ex-husband.

I love voting. Seriously. I love it so much, I would vote for homecoming queen over at the high school if they'd let me and it makes me super sad when people who want to vote don't get to because they were uninformed or misinformed before heading to their polling place. That is why I am providing this little guide for Texas voters. Well, that and because I'm a civic minded giver. You're welcome.

  • Texas has an open primary. That means we will be voting for both parties on the same day. You have to pick either the Republican or Democrat party because you can't vote in both primaries and you can only vote in a runoff election for the party you voted for in the primary. You do not have to register as either a Democrat or Republican in Texas, though. My daddy says that a lot, so I guess it's a big deal, even though they stamp your card with the name of the party whose primary you voted in when you go vote, so it's not like it's a big secret or anything.
 
  • Go to the Texas Secretary of State's website to confirm your polling location. Oh, those seasoned voters are probably thinking, "I know where I vote, lady. This ain't my first rodeo." Well, you may just think you know where you vote, sassy pants. Say, for example, you've voted at the school administration building that is within walking distance of your house in every election since you moved to your part of Texas. Well, you may now have to drive to the next town over to a rec center to vote while the other party gets to have their primary right here in town. Bastards.
 
  • You have to take a government issued, picture ID with you when you go vote. It can be your driver's license, passport, military ID or even your I-don't-have-to-conceal-my-handgun-if-I-don't-want-to-so-nanny-nanny-boo-boo-stick-your-head-in-doo-doo permit (also known as your License to Carry a Handgun) because Texas. You may not, however, take your handgun to your polling place. You can strap it on should you visit a state mental hospital or public library, though.
    • Your school ID or hunting and fishing license do not count as valid forms of voter identification. But, you do have a constitutional right to hunt in Texas.
    • There are some exemptions and junk about the ID. I can't go into them all here, so check out the website above.
You can wear you gun in a shoulder holster like Fish, but not
to vote. You cannot, however, use your license to fish as
ID to vote. See what I did there?
Photo credit: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0519032/
 
  • If you did not register to vote by February 1st, you won't be voting in the primary. And, you have to register at least 30 days before the general election in November to have a say in who will be running this wonderful country. The same ID rules apply then, too and, obviously, there will be people from both parties on the ballot because you have to pick one or the other. I don't feel good that I am compelled to explain that, but you know how some people are, so I figured I should probably throw that out there just in case.
Look, I don't care who you vote for (fine, I care a little but that's not the point here), just go vote. A lot of people had to make a lot of sacrifices so we could have that right.
 
Plus, they give you a sticker when you vote. Who doesn't love stickers?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Open Office Etiquette


Not too long ago, my employer moved us to a fancy new office that just so happens to be an open office environment. Are you familiar with the concept? It looks something like this:


Photo Source: http://goo.gl/W0uc9X
The whole idea behind this concept is that it's supposed to make us all much more accessible to one another, which will create "collisions" that will lead to innovations that will provide our clients with some fancy stuff that will make the company buckets of money.

Oh, we're all very accessible alright and there are tons of collisions--of personalities.

You see, people are loud. And obnoxious. And, for an introverted person like me who needs quiet to work, a group of grown ass men inhaling helium and talking while I'm trying to write riveting words that will make people want to buy all the self-help products available in the world, open concept=the hottest and most miserable part of hell. But, since I really like paying my bills, yelling at people to STFU isn't an option conducive to keeping my job. So, instead, I've come up with some etiquette that may help everyone who works in an open office space (since they are all the rage these days) annoy the hell out of their co-workers just a little less. You're welcome.

  • Put your mother f*cking phone on vibrate. Seriously. I don't want to hear the ding of the 90,000 texts you get all day (don't people know you're working and, don't they have jobs) or whatever pithy ringtone you have ring so many times I actually start hearing it in my dreams. Most phones vibrate so loud it sounds like those cheap little plastic desks are about to lift off anyway, so it's not like you're going to miss anything.
  • Take your personal calls somewhere else. No one cares what the hell you're having for supper, that your mammogram is overdue, that you found good gluten-free bread (and please, gripe again about there being no gluten free snacks in our free snack area) at Whole Foods or any of the other 90 things you speak about at full-volume from your wide open desk. Step into the hallway. Go into a private "huddle" room. Hell, go in a bathroom stall. This also counts for voice texting. There is no place better than an open office environment to let your fingers do the talking.
  • Use your inside voice. OMG, did you go on a date with the hottest chick ever this weekend? OMG, did you see the funniest video on YouTube ever this weekend? OMG, is the client whose project you're working on the biggest douchebag ever? OMG, did you go to the best yoga class ever before work? OMG, no one outside of your friends and or the people you are working on your project with give a shit, so don't yell it across the room. Get up, walk to their desk and use your inside voice to relay the details while the rest of us do what we're getting paid the medium bucks for.
  • Put your headphones in your ears and then turn on your music. We all have different work styles. Some of us like total quiet and could totally work in a morgue if it weren't for all the dead bodies. Some of us like music to get our creative juices flowing. Some of us like music, but not your stupid music. Whatever the case, you blaring your BeyoncĂ© and Luke Bryan is rude as f*ck. Listen all you want, but in the name of all that is good and holy and keeping me out of jail, put your mother f*cking headphones on your mother f*cking ears. And, remember, you can't hear you when they are on so it doesn't help to wear them and then sing along at the top of your lungs. Maybe you just don't sing at all.
  • Don't watch videos at full volume. A new movie is coming out and you want to share the trailer with a friend? You saw an intriguing news story you think a co-worker will really enjoy? The SNL skit where Ryan Gosling lost it had you in stitches and you just can't stop watching it? Cool. See the above bullet about ear phones. Or, have your friend roll over to your desk and turn the volume down to something well below movie theater decibels. Or maybe send them the link and they can watch it quietly. With their headphones on.
Mostly because there are no walls. And you
have no volume button.
There are all kinds of studies that say the open office environment is actually causing employees less satisfaction, decreasing productivity and increasing their stress levels. Man, can I see that.

Lets just say, at next year's holiday party, no one will be voting me Ms. Congeniality.

Not that I was in the running before the move, but still.

So, if you are in an open office environment, please be cognizant of the people working around you.

Or, in simpler terms, stop being an asshole.