Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Voting with my wallet

Last week, the CEO of Under Armour said "To have such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset for the country." You can read the Reuter article covering this here.

I disagree with both the premise that 45 is pro-business and that he’s an asset for our country. So I’m voting with my wallet.

I got a gift card to a local specialty running store for my birthday and made sure I didn’t get anything from Under Armour. Instead, I got the Nike top I'm wearing here.

I realize I am one person and almost certainly will not change Kevin Plank’s mind about anything. But I am going to do what I can where I am, and that means I will no longer purchase anything from his company.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A (belated) birthday round up

On my dessert plate

My birthday this year was a little weird—I’d scheduled a day off, and Kent and I had planned on using a gift certificate from my folks to Story. But he had to leave very unexpectedly for Tulsa that afternoon to help his mother, so we postponed everything.

After a week--still gorgeous!
My friend Kerry sent me some gorgeous roses (she knows that pink is my favorite color), and my mother sent me a book she found both enjoyable and thought-provoking (The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson). And oddly, I got a free meal from Ikea (guess that family rewards card pays off?).

This last Saturday, Kent was able to be home for about 36 hours (he is in Tulsa again) and we enjoyed our belated birthday dinner.

There’s a story behind the dress I’m wearing. My friend Jeanne who is both an imaginary and real friend (since we went to the same high school, she’s definitely real but she lives in Ohio so we don’t see each other all that often) has a daughter who is now in graduate school, so in her early to mid-20s. Jeanne had a dress that her daughter had worn in eight grade and was asking some of our mutual friends if their daughters would be interested. I hesitantly said that if none of them wanted it, I would be interested. Long story not so long, she sent it to me.

You can see the details
a little better here
I layered a lace bodysuit under the dress—it’s winter, after all, and the dress has spaghetti straps plus I don’t like wearing strapless bras. The bodysuit has a very deep-cut back and the sleeves are ¾. I also wore a raspberry pashmina with the dress since we had unseasonably warm temps on Saturday (70° in February?) and I didn’t need a coat.

All in all, we had a great time. I’m hopeful that my mother-in-law’s health will continue to improve and we won’t need to make emergency trips to see her and help her with things.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Catching up

Let’s see, where was I?

Oh right, I was going to attend a protest against the travel ban on January 29 at our airport, but my mother in law’s health took a real nose dive and she was admitted that day to the hospital. She was released Wednesday, February 1, then was taken by ambulance Thursday, February 2, released back to her home and then taken away again on February 3. This time she was admitted and is still there.

So I didn’t go to that protest. The next week, I did go to an interfaith vigil against the ban on February 5. As with the Women’s March, I had no idea what to expect, and as with the Women’s March, I found the event very moving and uplifting.

There were about 1300 people at the vigil. As with the Women’s March, the KC area will never pull the kinds of numbers that cities like Boston or LA do, but I thought that was impressive since the area is pretty red. In fact there were so many of us that we filled the sanctuary, the equally large fellowship hall and then a couple hundred of us stood outside in the large courtyard (the building is shaped like a hollow square and this courtyard is the center. Fortunately, the weather was mild but I’ll admit I got pretty cold by the end.

The vigil was definitely multi-faith. To the best of my recollection, the speakers included two rabbis, three Muslim leaders (maybe four?), a couple of Catholic relief charities folks, a leader from a local Buddhist group, the host church (which was Disciples of Christ), and a speaker from an atheist group. And a man who’d only been in the country for about six months spoke about why he needed refuge from Syria, and the threats against him and his family. He lost so many relatives and was being actively hunted himself—it was chilling to hear this story.

I found it reassuring to see that I was not alone in my opposition to this ban (and I was so glad to see the recent ruling on the ban). And I’m still figuring out how to act on my beliefs. Attending protests is a start, but it’s not enough.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

I marched for me

The march itself was great—I didn’t know what to expect, having not participated in anything similar ever in my life. What I saw was a sea of pink hats even though it was sunny and nearly 60, and wide variety of people of all ages, genders, races, religions as indicated by their signs, sexual orientation (again as indicated by their signs), a few police officers on foot, three on horseback, several food trucks, a row of latrines and amazing weather.

I took this picture looking back at the march (I left a bit early—I get pretty antsy in crowds, which is another reason why me participating was a big deal to me personally).

But I’m dismayed by the number of people posting about how the women’s march doesn’t speak for them. Well of course it doesn’t! Just as one size doesn’t fit all in clothing or shoes, neither do marches. But what’s troublesome is the notion that this march was a single-issue march: abortion.

That’s so far from the truth, I don’t even know what to say. Sure, I saw signs on both sides of that issue, but by far most signs touched on equal rights for women.

So if you’re one of those women saying the march doesn’t speak for you or that you couldn’t have marched because you don’t support abortion, I say well find the cause you do want to march for.

Here’s the sign I made and the issues I marched about:

Saturday, January 21, 2017

I found my voice

And I hope my writing skills are up to what I want to say.

In seventh grade, I was going to a new-to-me school in Kentucky. Beaumont Junior High was a beautiful, brand new building filled with horrible ugliness on the inside. I attended school there for two years and in the first year, we had six or seven bomb threats (probably just students who didn’t want to take a test but the threats were all taken seriously) and more the next year.

We also had a race riot that year in the cafeteria that resulted in all forks and knives being removed (this was Kentucky in the early 1970s). And the violence didn’t stop there. Remember the big giant hoop earrings, they were quite thin but large in diameter, large enough to touch your shoulder? Girls had those ripped out of their earlobes, and I do mean ripped out with torn earlobes. As a result, I’ve never worn large earrings. Never. And my thumb was broken by a boy in my home room class who was angry I wouldn’t let him mess with my flute. He pulled my left thumb back across the top of my hand until I let go of the case but by then it was too late, and he’d broken it.

That same year, in seventh grade, I spoke up about the Vietnam War and had a POW/MIA bracelet to support the anti-Vietnam War movement, I’d started a small ecology club to clean up a creek in my neighborhood, and I was vocal about equal rights for women and minorities. You can imagine how that went over at school.

I also took the bus to school. Now remember, this school was a rough crowd and at least on my bus, the really rowdy kids sat in the back and those of us who weren’t so rowdy sat in the front. But you had to hustle to get on the bus early to sit in the front—and that’s what I did, I made sure I could sit in the front because frankly, those kids scared me (side story, one of them punched me in the stomach in PE class and when I asked why she did that, she said very nonchalantly “just felt like it” . . . ).

That year, George McGovern ran for president and I wasn’t shy about supporting him.

So that’s the stage for this story.

It was a coldish, drizzly day in October and for whatever reason, I couldn’t get to the bus early enough to get a seat in the front section. I sat perched on the edge of my seat way in the back of the bus and hoped nothing would happen.

One of the boys called out something about hey she’s for McGovern! The insults (you commie!) flew, and then one of them spit on me. Then more of them started spitting and I sat there in the back of the bus getting spit on because I didn’t support Nixon. The bus driver didn’t notice or didn’t dare notice.

I couldn’t get off that bus fast enough. I remember running into the house, finally able to cry, and going to the half bath on the first floor to start washing my hair in the sink and telling my brother that people who believed the way he did (he supported Nixon) had done this to me.

Nothing happened. At least not that I know of. No repercussions to those boys, no safeguards for students on the bus. Nothing.

And folks, I have to say, that shut me down quite a bit. Oh, I spoke up here and there about issues (for example, I reported someone who sexually assaulted me in basic training and he lost his job; when my first sergeant refused remove the female centerfolds plastered on the walls in a common area, I bought five or six copies of Playgirl and posted those centerfolds in the same area). But I stopped voicing my opinion on politics and stayed silent for the last 44 years.

I’m breaking that silence now. I cannot stand by and silently go along with proposals like a national registry or a wall between our country and another country. I cannot stand by while ACA is gutted and destroyed and people like my son, who has a pre-existing condition and was turned down for insurance, go without coverage. I did not serve in the Army to support those policies.

I’m making a sign today. I’m going to the KC version of the Women’s March. I’m done being silent.

Addendum: I realize you might wonder about being opposed to the Vietnam War, and then joining the Army. Remember that by the time I joined, we’d been out of that arena for a few years. The Cold War was front and center. I joined in that era, and served then as a musician. If we’d still been in Vietnam, I would not have joined.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Put on your mask before assisting others

Sometimes, sewing fills a practical need, and sometimes it’s more about creating something. I’m not a particularly imaginative sewist but I enjoy picking out fabric I like and then making something I can (hopefully) wear.

In December, I ended up sewing this jacket one Sunday. I’d had it cut out for a couple of months but between home and work, I had no time or energy to sew. But that Sunday, I was driven. And when I finished making the jacket, I realized that I had needed that creative effort. And that I shouldn’t wait until the pressure to create something, anything, becomes overwhelming.

Chloe photobombed this time

Yesterday, I made a skirt to go with the jacket. It’s all done except for hand work, and it’s hanging so that the fabric will stretch however much it wants to before I hem the lining and the wool.

What do you do to recharge yourself?

And for your amusement, here's a blurry photo but I'm smiling (clearly I am not very good at taking selfies).

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 in review

So—the end of the year blog post.

2016 has been a tough year for me, I won’t lie about that. I thought 2009 was the toughest year I’d had so far, but 2016 is its equal if not a bit worse. I’ve been thinking about why that’s so, and honestly, I think Kent and I were a little too far down the sunshine and lollipop path in 2009 and heading into 2010. For example, we didn’t realize at the end of 2009 that we would be displaced from our home for five months (yeah, we were crazy optimists about that rehab timeline!).

This year I finally realized that I was being bullied at work, and had been bullied since I started in May 2015. It took me eight months to put that together, and I thought I was crazy the entire time. I finally started speaking up to my direct manager (not my bully) and talked with HR and used our Employee Relations Services to get counseling for tips and tricking on how to cope. Just using the term “bullying” helped open people’s eyes and you’d be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) at how many people told me privately that my bully had also bullied them. That part of 2016 has a decent ending in that my bully ended up finding another job and leaving the company at the beginning of November. Thank God.

In April, my company went through a pretty drastic round of reorganization and layoffs. Because the person who’d been bullying me had been with the company for years and was very knowledgeable in a specific area that the company absolutely needed (and was the only person with that knowledge), I fully believed I would lose my job. I was so sure, in fact, that I’d cleaned out my desk. As it turned out, I didn’t lose my job, which was a relief—but then the presidential campaigns started and our incoming president called out the company I work for as one he wants to put out of business.

I would characterize this year as being death by ten thousand cuts rather than having one great looming catastrophe. I am looking forward to putting this year behind me—I am, at my core, an optimist.

  • In June, an old Army buddy of mine died from a very specific kind of cancer directly linked to his exposure to Agent Orange when he served in Vietnam. Dave was a great guy, wonderful musician and very kind to me when I was young and immature.
  • In July, Kent was laid off and we lost 2/3 of our income.
  • In August, we had a lightning strike at the house which fried some appliances, and our cats racked up nearly $3,000 in vet bills.
  • Also this summer, two friends who are important to me had their husbands walk out.
  • In September, my younger son was deployed for the second time.
  • In October, on a positive note, I picked up another team to manage (which I am evilly pleased to think annoyed my bully to no end).
  • Also in October, we learned that Kent’s mother’s health had taken a nose dive. She is 80, so it’s not unexpected. Kent’s been to visit her five or six times since, and in early December it became clear that she needs to be in an assisted living facility.
  • In November, we were able to spend a great Thanksgiving with our daughter-in-law, the grandchildren and our older son—and did some video calls with the younger son.
  • In December, Kent’s been mostly in Tulsa helping his mother. In fact, he will leave again early this next week and I will join him on Thursday to help move his mother into her new apartment. She’s in good spirits about the move although she’s sad about leaving her house.

So with all of that out of the way, here are my answers to the usual end of year blog questions I’ve been doing for a few years now.

What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before? My answer goes back to what I wrote at the beginning of this post—I think in 2009 and early 2010, I didn’t realize how close to the edge of utter financial ruin we actually were, nor did Kent. When Kent was laid off in July, we both knew immediately that we were on lock down for spending and that his job search was likely to take a very long time (the more senior you are in an organization, the fewer positions are available). While we’ve had his unemployment since August, it’s not a lot of money and we are living on what I earn. That’s both cool and terrifying—cool that I am able to do this and terrifying that it has to be this way.

Did anyone close to you give birth? Not this year.

Did anyone close to you die? I already mentioned my friend, Dave.

What countries did you visit? Sadly, none. We did get to Miami again over Memorial weekend, and Jordan joined it for a great get away. We had a lot of fun, but it wasn’t international travel.

What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016? I would love a little more stability across my professional life. Our incoming president makes that very difficult.

What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? To be honest, I would rather not honor the dates of bad shit happening.
What was your biggest achievement of the year? I essentially got a promotion when my manager asked me to take on a second team. With my bully out of the picture, I like what I do and I’m quite good at it.

Did you suffer illness or injury? No—my health is good.

What was the best thing you bought? We got an Instant Pot (love it!) and also took our daughter-in-law’s recommendation and bought a steam mop. That thing is amazing and cleans our wood floors really well.

Where did most of your money go? Home repair from the lighting strike and vet bills. Oh and also repairing cracks from the foundation work we did in 2015, plus rebuilding the built in storage in our dining room (blogged about here).

What did you get really excited about? We got an electric leaf blower that has an attachment you use to clean leaves out of gutters. It’s amazing.

What book(s) did you love this year? I finished Justin Cronin's trilogy (City of Mirrors) and also read two books by a new to me author (N. K. Jemisin) and enjoyed them both. I hope she writes more.

What song will always remind you of 2015? While I liked David Bowie, none of his songs defines 2016 for me. Honestly I think the song I will remember is a George Michael song Jesus to a Child.

Bye, 2016. I won’t miss you.