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Making it Work

Working the Workplace

     I joined the workforce officially for the first time at sixteen. I was excited to have my first job as this signaled independence, cash flow, and a level of entry into the adult world. I was excited. It was 1994. I was a dietary aide in a nursing home for the elderly. I washed dishes and scooped lumps of mostly unidentifiable food onto plastic trays, production style many times a day. This was all summer long, for an hourly pay of six dollars and sixteen cents an hour. I was unaware then that in 1994 this was a wonderful hourly wage, but for the amount of work and stress and hours I was putting in, the pay did not match my value. I lived in a high demographic area. I drove to work in my parent’s sports car and only had a job because I was quarrelsome and required to learn a sense of “responsibility.” Little did I know my rebellious nature would lead me down a treacherous path of defiance with my family, but I digress.

Mike Rowe Presents: The War on Work. TED Talk

     I was unaware at the time that I had entered the “loop.” I have been there ever since I set foot on the floor that day and punched that clock. Circa 1994 to current my circumstances have changed little. I bought into the idea that if I were a standard American, that went to work every day and worked hard, that in time (a time far away) “rewards” would shower upon me and I would be happy. These rewards would come in combination with seniority and passing of time because getting these said rewards could not be “easy” but they were attainable. You know the rewards. We have all heard them. Dayshift. Educational Reimbursement. Managerial opportunities. Earned time. Weekends Off. Merit raises (my favorite one, has anyone ever received one?). The list goes on. Time passes and you keep your nose down working odd shifts and long shifts, covering shifts for others. Missing family items and before you know it, your youth is gone, and your son is a man and everything you ever wanted to do with him is no longer possible because that time is no longer possible. You work harder and longer because slowly the economy is changing and you need to make the money of two people, but you are only one person. Your company is making money and is screaming for more demand, and you show up to work those hours. You grow old, waiting. You watch and realize the opportunities are gone. The people who made “manager” are all friends and relatives of your managers or younger people who walked through the door ten years after you with double your education level. You also realize, you are now ignorant. While the rest of the world is watching Game of Thrones, reading actual books, learning about “Bitcoin”, travelling, worrying about immigrant children and the possibility of Mexican border walls… you… are working. Probably sixty hours a week, add travel time with days off spent playing catch up on housework and trying to look like you know what is going on in your teen son’s life when you really don’t. So you drink and write sci fi stories no one will ever read. You cry and report to work and do it all again on Monday. Slowly you hate your job because you know it better than the twenty-two-year-old manager with an MBA they hired. You shut up. Because….. you need the money.

 

So like me, you may have found yourself in the “loop”. Constantly working to live and missing out on life and opportunities. I want to make two cases for all “unskilled workers” and the general workforce here. The first point is unskilled workers are necessary. I know proponents may argue that a “machine” could do the jobs of most menial workers. That may be a true statement one day. Please consider many menial and unskilled jobs require actual people to do them. Do you want a robot or machine to nanny your child and swaddle diapers? Some menial jobs like, customer service, require an actual level of people skills and make our own lives easier over all.

“But another kind of teamwork is at the heart of the skilled economy: More skilled workers also create more less-skilled jobs. That kind of teamwork is less obvious, so it’s worth thinking through. How can that MBA launch a new product? Only by depending critically on a small army of essential low-skilled workers. She needs someone to clear the table after a client lunch, empty the garbage at her office, and run the lot where she parks. She needs someone to pick the vegetables she eats and resurface the road she drives home on. She might need someone to care for her child, or grandfather, so she can work late. All of that is just the beginning.

This other form of teamwork is less obvious because it’s often invisible. Apart from the care workers, this MBA might never meet or only briefly glimpse the rest of these less-skilled workers. Yet every step of her daily life critically depends on them as much as it depends on her skilled co-workers. They make her more productive, and she them.”

https://foreignpolicy.com/2013/07/08/more-unskilled-workers-please/

     Second, I would like to advocate that the Federal Government take the leap and raise the minimum wage so that people can live a possible modest life with their skill level. The rent to income gap is outrageous. In the land of plenty, even the most humble of people should have “some.” Raising the minimum wage presents a flurry of counterarguments and in this place I will use my favorite one “it will make business impossible! We won’t be able to keep up financially! We will have to close our doors and fail!” I call this the fear response, I believe the company would not go out of business. What would happen is that CEOs and Owners would have to make marginally less money? According to smallbusiness.com less than two percent of the recorded American workforce are being paid the Federal minimum wage rate.

“The goal of the minimum wage law is not to raise or lower unemployment, nor should it be because evidence suggests that it really can’t. Its purpose is social. It is meant, just like many other laws, to protect those who might not have the power or resources be able to protect themselves. And there’s little doubt who is the in need of protection in this context.

Comedian Chris Rock said once on Saturday Night Live, “You know what that means when someone pays you minimum wage? You know what your boss was trying to say? ‘Hey if I could pay you less, I would, but it’s against the law.’”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/johntharvey/2015/07/31/real-argument-for-raising-minimum-wage/#5afdef79777d

Chris Rock Commentary Video Here

Chris Rock Discussing Work Force and Non Educational Opportunities. Jobs Vs. Careers

     Imagine if we start the workforce at a pay-rate they can actually live on instead of giving them a history of false promises? We would empower them to live happier lives. To spend more time with their families. Watch their children grow. When we tell Americans the only way to change your lives is through education, then the workforce dangles this educational stipend over their heads as a benefit, it is almost impossible for the average person to cash in on it. The secret here is, we are all pretty much average. Some slightly above, others slightly below. Most of us fall in the line of mediocrity. That gives us something unique. Capabilities. We can take that educational stipend and get “ahead” in life, but we can’t do it if you keep our noses in the dirt of your work sixty to seventy hours a week while being underpaid and worrying about our next rent or light bill. You know those stories about people doing remarkable things? Working a hundred hours a week, going to an ivy league school full time, making honor roll and raising six orphan kids? You know those people. We aren’t those people. Those are subhuman people far beyond our comprehension. We are just mere mortals. Don’t compare. We are the workforce, we make miracles happen every day but we have no time for that.

So how does this apply to my degree? As a Communications major I have many plans for myself. Some so broad and fantastic I don’t know if I have enough life span to accomplish them. This is a persuasion piece so I hope you are still with me. One of my life goals has been the Peace Corps. With a Degree I can teach or dig ditches in various parts of the world and do my part because I care about people. When I return I have a two-fold plan here. Phase one is to get loans using my new status as an educated well traveled person of service to open my dessert and coffee “Shoppe”. Phase two is to also journal and write and to be an activist of sorts for the working class.

When I hire someone it will be at a fair and livable wage. Two, I will also have a part-time “redemption” program for female felons. This is off-topic but one issue felons face is getting jobs. In a nutshell my program will be one year of part-time work in a Shoppe. They will do dishes, sweep, etc. In return they get what they desperately need to make their first step back into society, I will help them write a professional resume and give them what they need the most a skill and reference (skill as in barista and cake decorating). Why females you ask? If you know about the prison system, it is mostly male dominant and most educational and program funding goes to male prisons leaving female prisons isolated and lacking. Female inmates and felons actual have a far less success rate than their male peers. I also plan to journal and write about the American workforce someday. You may see my articles and rants of persuasion far and away and say to yourself….’I was in a class with that woman, she was a nutter, but man could she write….’ None of it pertains to my degree now, but it will later. All of my experiences led me here to this degree.

I would like to acknowledge what I call the ‘trickle down effect’. Will the world raise the minimum wage or acknowledge and respect the menial worker just by reading this persuasive argument alone? No. Change happens with many voices, arguments, and counterarguments through a series of time. We all know that. I won’t see it in my lifetime. I hope that my son watched his mother work to the bone until it tired her. That she put food on the table and loved him the best she knew how. And when terrible things happened to her at work and the world told her she wasn’t enough, she then did what the world told her to do. She made herself better. Even though she felt old and tired, she quit her crappy job and lived off scraps and put herself first to get the education the world told her she needed to have so she could dig ditches and get loans to own a business from a bank. I hope my son carries this with him. Trickles it down to his children. Working to the bone is not living when only scraps are given. I hope he is proud. I want to tell the world about it, but unless I have these credentials behind my name, they won’t listen. That is the power of American Persuasion.

The Art of Mom

The

Art of Mom

Father’s Day is upon us. Such a dreadful time that stirs my emotions. I spent my childhood longing for the love of my own father. I watched him dote on my sisters and provide for them in his own stoic way, while he beat my mother and I equally. I was never a child. I remember I reached out to him for a hug around nine years old and he punched me in the face. The only time I remember him ever being tender with me was to soothe me after a stint of violence against me; while my mother whispered softly in the background….don’t tell anyone, daddy loves you…..After these beatings things would be still for awhile. He would ignore me or offer smiles in passing, until his hatred boiled over again. There was always eruption and I walked on eggshells waiting for it. The wait would be agonizing at times and I would pester him into beating me, just to break the tension…..why do you make him so mad? My mother’s voice again.

I will never understand my father or why I was so irrelevant. When I had my own son I vowed I would be the parent I never had.

I failed. I just don’t seem to get it. The whole “parenting” thing. I am constantly late and forgetful. I don’t understand teen culture and my son is now sixteen and I feel as though there is a stranger living with me at times. God I just want to hold him. Laugh with him again. Make a connection and I just can’t.

There is nothing wrong with my son. I wish I could say I did a good job. He is wonderful and quirky. He is an advanced student and I have never had a phone call from his school in the ten years he has been going. I can’t take credit. I was never the mother I should have been. I drank too much, stayed out to late, was probably neglectful….and somehow….he made it through. Became a stronger person. HE did that. I didn’t. I am selfish. Everything I never wanted to be, I have been, and I can’t take it back.

For a while I thought I was “doing everything right.” I worked long hours and put my ‘career’ first. We had money and a home. I got sick and lived to tell the tale, a little damaged but still here. I had a fiance I loved deeply who lived with my son and I for a time, along with his son. I loved them all. It crashed and burned. My son watched me cry for months. I think I fell apart a little after that.

I kept working and doing the best I could for a bit, but time passed. In order for me to sustain us I had to work long and hard. I was trying to attain something I couldn’t. A middle class life at an uneducated price. I was failing. I was never home, working odd hours just for a few cents ‘shift diff’. I missed everything in my son’s life. And that time, you just don’t get back.

Every shit job I have had has been abusive to me in body and soul. It comes at a cost. The older I get the more I realize if you are a blue collar person, you get zero respect. The older I get the more clearly I could see the world around me. I want a better future for my son and his possible family. I want a world where everyone is respected. The equity is spread, education is affordable, opportunities apply to all, xenophobia, and racism are dead. A world where a forty hour work week should be enough to thrive. I can’t work for these things if I am always working to live.

I have heard many stories about amazing people who conquer odds. They get educated, suffer homelessness, raise kids and work 60 hour weeks and graduate sum ma cume laude. I am not that amazing. I am just a mere mortal with a brain injury and most days my house is a mess and I am just beat dog tired.

I got fired last week after suffering a year of emotional abuse, harassment, and poor culture. I pushed limits most people would never push to be heard. When work told me to be quiet, I was not. I sent nasty emails and refused work assignments, was rude to everyone who crossed my path because my complaints were invalidated and shoved under a rug. Timken Aerospace is a conservative culture and if your values are Right and White or circa 1952, you will be a fabulous asset. I was not. I was afraid working there. Afraid anyone could come into my work space and swear at me, touch me, push up on me, or bother me in whatever way they chose because my work place allowed it. The culture is set up for males there and like my team lead once told me “boys will be boys…..”

You see, I am forty and fucking tired. Tired of being bothered, tired of other people being mistreated. Tired of Martin Luther King Day being cancelled. Tired of begging for vacations and being a touch hole for every pervy neanderthal. My son is entering the workforce and I want better for him. A better future overall.

So how can a shitty mother who has nothing turn it around? Stay unemployed, be poor. Don’t worry about the next bill or retirement. Go back to school and those creds behind your name and spend the last part of your life doing something to try to effect change.

So I am. I have no idea where my money will come from, I may lose my home and assets. I may be a survivor story who lives in her jeep with her dog. I may lose my son to his father who posses all the money in the world to provide for him. But I will graduate with those fucking credentials. I will keep writing. I will come back from the dead and use my new skills to try to do my best to make the world better. A place where we can ALL take part in the ‘American Dream’.

To all the mothers I see who have it all together. The ones who seem to know what being a mother is all about, all the mothers I wanted to be and could never be because I just don’t know how. I envy you. What a gift to have such a natural talent because mothering is hard. It is an art. If no one tells you this father’s day how special you are, and how a dad is an extension of you, I will say thank you. Also if you see my son around could you give him some tenderness? I am so bad at it. I am going to work extra hard for all of us mothers. I am getting this education for each of us. So our kids can have a better future.

To the mothers like me, who love deep and can’t seem to get it together. I am rooting for you as well. No one teaches us how to be mothers. We do the best we can.

To my son if he is reading this, wait for me. Someday you will be proud of your hippy poor mom who defied the American dream. Your mother loves you and is imperfect.

Loving Because…

Dating in the UV

Image result for free love images

Dating in the Upper Valley is a test of one’s mental mindset.  You must be a cryogenic olympiad to survive it and if you find love,  consider yourself blessed.  That is no easy task.

I pride myself on being an independent progressive woman.  I am by no measure perfect, at forty time has graced me with wear.  My body tells a story of childbirth and many a braless day (you know the feeling right ladies? Ugh..). A homeowner, three cars, and a scooter, trim-waisted and moderately active (fair weatherly so).  I am dirt broke and working class and living right above the poverty level but I have learned, most of us are.  All of this sounds good, however, it isn’t.

Somehow in the Upper Valley, it seems to be a suitable “date” or partner you must have to be “more.”  More interesting, more monied, more educated, more aware.  The task is unbearable and has become such an enormous burden it turns a simple act, such as dinner, into an interview of sorts. Or debate.  Where you compare achievements and interests, try to one-up the other.  You have to possess a clear political platform and sound mental health (who has that?).   Or you get bored and listen to them banter about themselves and how fabulous they are while you covertly scroll Tinder like Inspector Gadget and grocery shop for humans, before excusing yourself for an early night (not that I do that, sorry previous dates…).

If you get through the competitive dating process and decide the person is “good enough” for you and your family, or they “complement rather than burden” you then we are into new territory.  I always seem to fail here, never to land in comfort zone.  See if you are too…

Somewhere along the line, we focus on the ‘but’ of things rather than because.  For example, some of my own ‘buts’ delivered my way have been:

The sentence starts “I like/love you but…..”

You are too poor

You live in Claremont

I like natural women

Your house is a mess

Your job is taxing/ time-consuming/not interesting (ouch)

You’re not educated enough

Your house is messy…..

This is a small list.  I have many more I am keeping to myself.  Have you heard the ‘but’ before?  I know a relationship is dying by the frequent use of “buts”.  I have done the research and math.  Science.  One or two “buts” is survivable and there may be hope. On the other hand where there is one “but” there is sure to be another because once you focus on the “but” they add up.

Can we challenge ourselves in the Upper Valley to change our dialogue of love?  For every “but” that presents and nags you, for a moment, could we just fold it up and put it in our pocket, let it rest?  What if, like generations before us, we did something for each other?  Give each other the gift of time?  The time to put the “buts” aside and justly get to know each other.  Then one day (like magic), it will be laundry day, and as we clean our pockets out, there go all the “buts” in the trash.  With the rest of the useless pocket items.

Or better yet, what if we turn “buts” to “because”?  I love you because you are messy, rude, poor, etc….  What you would say is…I love and honor your imperfections.  I am giving myself time to accept them because I know this may be worth it to me and you. 

The gift of time goes both ways.  Giving it to yourself and another.  It is an enormous offering.

I decided when my fiance left me a few years ago to love for because.  He left me for a lot of “buts”.  This led me down a road of self-loathing the likes one cannot imagine.  I was recovering from a brain aneurysm and thought his “buts” were true.  That I would never be the person I once was before I was sick.   I was no longer fun or interesting.  Maybe I did indeed love the wrong way and raise children wrong.  No one would ever get close or want me and if they did, I was sure they would see those same “buts” and leave.  Again.

My decision was this.  The next time I felt love like that, I would love for  the “because.”  I would choose “because”.  Every time I would ever want to say “but” and cast self-doubt, I would insert “because” to get me through.  I would wait for a huge pile of “because” to remind me I picked the right human.  I can’t wait to try it.  My theory of “because”.  It feels as though I am taking my love power back.  I am choosing to love regardless because something brought me to you.

I have several instances in my mind planned out.  Laundry piled up, now I am pissy.  I love you because you never do laundry.  Will you help me sort this out?  I love you because you forgot our anniversary.  Want to go do something special?  I love you because you have no money, but I see you working hard all the time.  I value that.  I love you because you choose to learn new things…..  I have no one to practice on.  But it feels powerful just thinking about it.

Can we change our love repertoire in the Upper Valley?  With ourselves and each other?  Try the “theory of because”.  I practice on myself right now.  I love me because I have wrinkles, I love me because I am flawed, I love me because it is enough to love when there is no one around to give it.  I love me because I say awful things.  I love me because I am a good sapien with kind intentions.

No buts about it, I am making my next love great again.  Because I choose to. If only I could survive the first date.

If you loathe violence….BYOB

“Marching forward hypo-critic and Hypnotic computers You depend on our protection Yet you feed us lies from the tablecloth Everybody’s going to the party, have a real good time Dancing in the desert, blowing up the sunshine. Why don’t presidents fight the war? Why do they always send the poor?” -System of a Down

byoy
one of the best video captures from BYOB, thank you System of a Down

Normally I like to keep my content fluffy and light.  This is not to say I don’t feel a certain way about items,  I have issues of my own. I am a queer non-binary single female struggling in a demographic I find very conservative.  I have to work two jobs, I have difficulty find appropriate relationships because unless I am in a large city or possibly overseas I feel marginalized and forced to fall in line with a certain narrow view of my demographic area.  I suppose on some level we all feel this way and struggle.

 

I have to tell you my Saturday night started out wonderful.  I had purchased a gorgeous hairpiece, ombre silver, and finally uncovered my brazen red disco pants during this horrible remodel I have been suffering.  If you know me I live a multi-poly life and went out to meet one of my “daddies” (kinky epitaph for my older male friend) in White River Junction. We had a drink at the Engine Room and found ourselves bored.  We left to go to Windsor and had a nice time there.

But then the darkness hits us.  We decided we wanted to go to Claremont where the lights are low, the floors are dirty, and the girls are purty.  We love dancing there. It is the only place with a wide dance floor and dance relevant music. I go with him when he is home from traveling and we have a routine of it.

premurder
feeling beautiful before the violence

As you have heard by now there was a murder in Claremont.  I live streamed some of it and out of emotion and confusion my message was wrong, but it was right.  Why was there violence on the dance floor (not really, it was outside). In lieu of all second amendment fighters I have heard the term “good guys have guns.”  So my question in my video was….where were these good guys with guns? Why are good guys with guns never there when shit is going down? My other point of the video is marginalization.  This is “Claremont”. I could already predict that people would see this death or behavior “worthy,” “trashy,” or “common” of underserved hard working people. I said these things in my video.

Low and behold I wake up the next day to a slew of comments to the tune that he was some type of “trashy, poor, racist, loser.”  I don’t know if these items are true. He did not deserve what happened to him. Regardless if his politics or lifestyle may have been anti-normative.  

I decided to go live the best I could in a semi-buzzed state because it is important.  It is important to see in real time what goes on in these situations before the media and police state feeds you their version of events.  

What I can tell you is that we were locked in for hours while a body laid on the pavement outside.  With a tarp, I was told. The tension was high, there were minor fights. There was confusion and at one point we thought there was a shooter inside with us.  My friend and I ran for our very lives (or so we thought) into the men’s room. We held the door shut and told the men in there NOT to leave! When we felt somewhat safe to emerge I was hollered at, for being a female in the men’s room by staff (another binary issue, please let me use whatever bathroom I chose for life safety and the emptiness of bladders, thank you).

It took the police hours to get names and facts while that body sat.  I want to say this. If we were in a better demographic, I can only predict that professional patrons would be escorted quickly out an opposing egress.  Information possibly collected and contacts made later. Dead bodies would not lay on the pavement for hours and would be given a proper body bag if they did.  In a better demographic, we would not expose patrons to such ugliness.

This is not the bar’s fault, or the polices fault.  It is the nature of poverty and demographics. This is how it is acceptable to treat us and our loved ones, and our victims of crime when we are just dancing and trying to have a good time like everyone else.  

I implore everyone who has made comments to me about the nature of the establishment and victim to reach out.  Be better people all around. All over the Upper Valley. Go to this business, have a meal or a drink (they make great drinks).  Remember people feel pain and loss and to please keep all unkind opinions to yourself. We have enough issues here and we are fighting them one by one.  People like me who write, and try to form a Woman’s Group and go to work every day. We are here as well in this town. That place was a great place to dance.

I am banned now, for life for taking video.  Somehow it is disrespectful to want to show truths in the wake of violence.  Disrespectful to be pro-gun control. That is alright with me. I can’t even process or translate the experience right now.  I can imagine the fear people are under in these situations. Apply this fear to children in a learning environment. Looking for cover, afraid.  Possibly acting out and confused. Waiting for contact with loved ones on the outside. It is deplorable to think there are no answers here. There has to be.

It is us.  You can tell me that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  I will tell you that you are right.  I will also tell you the establishment feeding you this agenda wants you to be poor, underserved, underinsured, marginalized, addicted, lonely, unstable, unpredictable because if we are in this constant state, we tip our own tables.  We resort to violence and kill ourselves far faster than they are killing us. We deserve more. Equal pay for our work, we are notoriously underpaid and work twice as hard. Safe and affordable housing. Access to medical and mental health care because seriously, who has a sound body and mental health?  None of us do.

Stop judging each other.  If you know someone who is experiencing difficulty offer up help.  If you can’t help then don’t judge. Keep comments at bay, comments are useless when actions work better.  We all judge and have opinions and I am not saying you should change your views, perhaps maybe live by the grade school law of keeping all unkind things unsaid.  I am not perfect at this but I am going to make a huge effort. Starting today. I think changing the dialogue of our thoughts is a giant step.

‘Violence does not cause poverty. Violence is a symptom of poverty. To say otherwise perpetuates false information that has plagued policy in this country for decades and made it impossible to affect real change. When you muddy the relationship between the two, it contributes to a myth that has plagued the poor, especially poor black people, forever: That their situation is their fault.

“If they weren’t so violent, maybe they wouldn’t be so poor.”

“If people are violent, it’s usually because they are poor” because when you are poor, your opportunities to escape poverty are exceptionally limited.

WHEN PEOPLE IN mainstream America think of violence, they also think of poverty: the deviant, defiant, dangerous “underclass” or “undeserving poor.” Such stereotypes contain a grain of truth amid their untruths. Bad apples exist in all classes, from muggers among the poor to manufacturers of defective products among the wealthy; nothing in this essay. is intended to deny the existence of undeserving people. (It is interesting that no one ever complains about an undeserving middle class.) But notions like undeservingness take on an existence independent of the specific behaviors they describe, often broadening into labels and stereotypes that gloss over useful distinctions. The attitudes that such labels reflect and reinforce have political ramifications, some of which exacerbate poverty in their own right. (thehill.com)’

‘Social labeling ­­the resort to imagined knowledge to make moral judgments, differentiating some people pejoratively­­ has a long historical context. America has inherited much of its labeling tradition from England. From the 14th century, when the centralized church conferred responsibility for the English poor on local parishes and a new category of “unworthy poor” was recognized,to the 19th, when the terms “deserving” and “undeserving” entered the language in connection with the 1834 Poor Anglo-American social beliefs have continually dichotomized the poor. Along with their supposed laziness, feeblemindedness, and debauchery, the undeserving poor are considered prone to violence. Whether this is based on beliefs in inherited deviance (as propagated by 19th-century genealogist Richard Dugdale and early 20th-century eugenicist/psychologist Henry Goddard) or in a “culture of poverty” (Oscar Lewis’ famous term), this perception provides a rationale for scapegoating. It is remarkably consistent over time: The characterization of the undeserving poor (the one thing all other strata of society agree on) has changed remarkably little over at least 500 years. Undeservingness is not simply a problem of modernity or postmodernity, capitalism or socialism.

In this mixture of fear, anger, and disapproval, fear is perhaps the most important element. The threat to safety blends into other threats to cultural standards, economic positions, and moral values, justifying blanket measures (e.g., increasing life imprisonment) that do little to diminish violence but increase the distance between the so-called underclass and the remainder of society. The poor are the major victims of street crime, but mugging, robbery, and pickpocketing are particularly threatening to everyone because they involve invasions of intimate personal space. (Auto theft, probably the most pervasive of urban and suburban crimes, is treated as less threatening.)

Fear makes people less willing to distinguish between actual and imagined threats and more willing to listen to politicians who promise harsh reprisals. Local news media rarely miss the most dramatic incidents, especially in white neighborhoods. (Researchers have long argued that the emphasis on crime news is connected to the publicity needs of police departments, especially at budget times, but news organizations also respond to perceived audience interest.) The media rarely explain why crimes have taken place, adding to the sense of randomness and senselessness. 

To break the dubious dichotomy in which the Right blames the poor and the Left blames society, we need less blaming (justified or otherwise) and more policy-focused research into the empirical causes of crime and the (self-) selection of some poor people to turn to violence. More attention should be paid to the relation between ideology and fact, and researchers can insist on empirical study for questions that can be answered empirically. Either street crime is primarily caused by poverty and unemployment, or it is not; this need not be a matter of permanent debate. After all, the middle and upper classes do not mug.

Ultimately, violent crime will not decline until enough Americans realize that punitive measures have not worked. But until the actual threats decline significantly, imagined and displaced threats are not likely to be reduced either. The political, and tragic, reality is that mainstream America appears to be unwilling to give the poor a chance at decent full-time jobs until safety threats decline. The poor, however, need the jobs first. Otherwise, the lure of the streets will be too strong, and the incentive to move into seemingly secure and well-paying criminal occupations too great. (columbia.edu)’

“THE CARNIVAL IMAGERY Grotesque bodies—bodies that drink, eat, fart, sweat, sicken, vomit, and simulate copulation—form the dance floor figuration. Here the grotesque bodily presentation of self-predominates. Speech is loaded with obscenities: “Shake ass with me,” “Bring your ass to the floor.” The floor can be quite filthy; for example, broken glasses; broken beer bottles; bodily and non-bodily fluids, in both liquids and gases; spilled alcoholic drinks and sometimes urine; semen released by sexually aroused bodies; the smell and sweat of bodies; the farts released into the air; people dancing on tables, clearly “shaking ass” in erotically provocative ways for everyone to see and enjoy; the noises of shouts and screams (e.g., the singing along). All these form the carnival imagery of the dance floor figuration. Watching and smelling such scenes can be “such a turn on,” as Blogger 2 intimates: “There have been many times when I have gotten excited just watching others dance slow—sometimes the smell of testosterone/estrogen alone lures me to the heavens! [I]t is that raw energy that is so intoxicating!” These images suggest something about the emotional standards of the dance floor figuration. In contrast to non-leisure associations where people maintain high sensitivity to filthy and gross scenes, in the dance floor figuration this emotional standard is lowered. The threshold of revulsion, shame, and embarrassment shortens. Sensitivity to body proximity shrinks as the invisible walls between bodies tumble. Close body proximity is desirable. Bodies enter in contact and in friction with one another. They move back and forth in the same or opposite directions, simultaneously exerting pressure on each other. They sway sideways—now to the left, now to the right—in friction with each other; while one sways to the left, the other sways to the right; they move round and round and around each other with friction and pressure; they move clock- or counterclockwise in the same direction; they move in opposite directions, one clockwise whereas the other counterclockwise; they move in straight, curvilinear, and zigzag lines, forming intricate combinations of moves. Through touching, pressing, and rubbing, the bodies stimulate each other. Pressure or friction or both during the movements produce pleasurable sensations on the skin. These movements occur spontaneously as bendings of gender, class, age, and ethnicity: Girl dances with girl in erotically provocative ways in orgies of three or more; girl dances with boy but it’s girl who makes the move to ask boy to dance; girls and boys dance together erotically in orgies of any type; class and ethnic distinctions are violated; young and old “shake ass” together in a variety of ways and groupings. The resulting mobile figuration is an emotionally refreshing dance orgy.

The sight of police officers entering nightclubs looking for “troublemakers” is common. On a night in September 2005, there was an episode in the Guilty Martini (nightclub just behind Whyte Avenue) in which two police officers came in, handcuffed a man, and took him away. The police thus enforce the civilizing codes of conduct and impose limits to emotional excitement. In addition to this, individuals also exert social controls on each other. They monitor each other’s behavior and disapprove of each other’s taking things too far, to unacceptable levels. Internalized social controls, shyness, fear of shame, and anxiety about what others might think tie patrons’ bodies to a certain degree. The ingrown armor of self restraints prevents some people from loosening up sufficiently, from taking on the liminal character necessary for emotional refreshment. “Civilization’s overgrown taboo on the expression of strong, spontaneous feelings ties their tongues and hands” (Elias, 1985, p. 28). Some remain restrained, unexcited, and bored throughout the liminal time. These are self-restraints with which individuals in clubs police themselves. The civilizing gaze is indeed internal and automatic.”-Matsinhe, 2009

The dance floor figuration is not complete anarchy, for it has a structural organization of its own. The lessening of controls in human societies of all kinds, but particularly in societies so well ordered and complex as ours, always entails risks, the controlling function of leisure activities which opens up the way for the refreshment of emotions is on its part too surrounded with precautionary rules so that it can be socially tolerable. (Elias & Dunning, 1986, p. 115) Like other liminal spaces, the dance floor is a “place on the margin” (Shields, 1991), not outside, of civilization. It is within the range of the civilizing gaze in the form of external and internal social controls. Consequently, not every participant succeeds in decontrolling his or her emotional controls. As one enters the nightclub, one is greeted by security guards, popularly known as “bouncers.” The bouncers’ physical appearance—big, tall, muscular, and simulated angry looks in the face—is part of social controls. This self-presentation is nonverbal communication that symbolically threatens patrons and stimulates fear in them. The bouncers decide who gets in and who must get out. They decide who acceptable or unacceptable customers are. They patrol the figuration, enforce order in it, and literally throw out those who get out of control. Sometimes the bouncers offer to drive home patrons who are too drunk to drive.

Turner, V. (1969). The ritual process: Structure and anti-structure. Chicago: Aldine.Turner, V. (1975). Dramas, fields, and metaphors: Symbolic action in human society. Ithaca, NY:Cornell University Press.Walkowits, D. (2006). The cultural turn and a new social history: Folk dance and the renovationof class in social history. Journal of Social History, 39(3), 782-802.Wesely, J. K. (2003). Exotic dancing and negotiation of identity: Multiple use of body technologies.Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 32(6), 643-669.Wouters, C. (1977). Informalization and the civilising process. In P. R. Gleichmann,J. Goudsblom, & H. Korte (Eds.), Human figurations: Essays for/Aufsätze für Norbert Elias(pp. 437-453). Amsterdam: Amsterdams Socialogisch Tijdschrift.Wouters, C. (1986). Formalization and informalization: Changing tension balances in the civilizingprocesses. Theory, Culture & Society, 3(2), 1-19.Wouters, C. (1987). Developments in the behavioural codes between the sexes: The formalizationof informalization in the Netherlands, 1930-85. Theory, Culture & Society, 4(2-3),405-427.Wouters, C. (1992). On status competition and emotion management: The study of emotions asa new field. Theory, Culture & Society, 9(1), 229-252.Wouters, C. (1995a). Etiquette books and emotion management in the 20th century: Part one—The integration of social classes.

-Matsinhe, 2009

thehill.com

columbia.edu

*please make sure you click on all hyper-links!

When a Woman Loves a Man

david-lehman
Mr. Lehman, my muse of poetry.  Thank you, Sir.

When a Woman Loves a Man

David Lehman, 1948

When she says margarita she means daiquiri.
When she says quixotic she means mercurial.
And when she says, “I’ll never speak to you again,”
she means, “Put your arms around me from behind
as I stand disconsolate at the window.”

He’s supposed to know that.

When a man loves a woman he is in New York and she is in
    Virginia
or he is in Boston, writing, and she is in New York, reading,
or she is wearing a sweater and sunglasses in Balboa Park and he
    is raking leaves in Ithaca
or he is driving to East Hampton and she is standing disconsolate
at the window overlooking the bay
where a regatta of many-colored sails is going on
while he is stuck in traffic on the Long Island Expressway.

When a woman loves a man it is one ten in the morning
she is asleep he is watching the ball scores and eating pretzels
drinking lemonade
and two hours later he wakes up and staggers into bed
where she remains asleep and very warm.

When she says tomorrow she means in three or four weeks.
When she says, “We’re talking about me now,”
he stops talking. Her best friend comes over and says,
“Did somebody die?”

When a woman loves a man, they have gone
to swim naked in the stream
on a glorious July day
with the sound of the waterfall like a chuckle
of water rushing over smooth rocks,
and there is nothing alien in the universe.

Ripe apples fall about them.
What else can they do but eat?

When he says, “Ours is a transitional era,”
“that’s very original of you,” she replies,
dry as the martini he is sipping.

They fight all the time
It’s fun
What do I owe you?
Let’s start with an apology
Ok, I’m sorry, you dickhead.
A sign is held up saying “Laughter.”
It’s a silent picture.
“I’ve been fucked without a kiss,” she says,
“and you can quote me on that,”
which sounds great in an English accent.

One year they broke up seven times and threatened to do it
    another nine times.

When a woman loves a man, she wants him to meet her at the
    airport in a foreign country with a jeep.
When a man loves a woman he’s there. He doesn’t complain that
    she’s two hours late
and there’s nothing in the refrigerator.

When a woman loves a man, she wants to stay awake.
She’s like a child crying
at nightfall because she didn’t want the day to end.

When a man loves a woman, he watches her sleep, thinking:
as midnight to the moon is sleep to the beloved.
A thousand fireflies wink at him.
The frogs sound like the string section
of the orchestra warming up.
The stars dangle down like earrings the shape of grapes.

From Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art. Copyright © 1996 by David Lehman. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Single, Casual, and Female

Last night I was out.  As usual on my own. I met a male friend, Tom, at the bar for a drink and shortly the conversation turned to the inevitable.

meandmen
…do I dislike men?

 

 

Why do you dislike men?  I heard you have issues with men?

What do you mean?  I implied…..”well, you don’t like men, you are always single…”  I have heard this before and I remember the parting words that rang out when my last serious relationship ended….have fun being single and forty. Ummm, yeah, you as well pal. Ouch.  I have heard this montage from my sister and brother in law who firmly believe I have “issues” with men and relationships simply because of my lack thereof. That somehow I am a failure because I lack a partner and can’t possibly seem to “capture” one.  Surely I am fucking it all up somehow in their eyes. I am damaged and miserable. Epic failure.

 

What about last year?  I was seeing an artist.  I liked him alot. Not enough to dive into a relationship but I was sure a long term friendship was in the making.  We made each other dinners, danced together, spent time at each others homes, made love. I even went to a family event and met his mother and kindred folk.  I held small babies and played with kids. Then after making more love, I was ghosted. In confusion, I reached out for answers. No response. I tried for a week, maybe two.  I felt like a fool. This was no average ghosting we had spent time together. I reviewed every comment I made in my head because I am a human being and surely I had said something stupid or insensitive.  I had tried not to but I fail. Eventually, I let it go. Until he contacted me a year later to tell me my picture on FaceBook was soooo pretty.  What? He apologized for his behavior, saying he was “afraid.”  Afraid. Had he talked about it a year ago I would have assured him there was no fear to be experienced.  The ride could have gone as fast or as slow as he would have liked. There was no pressure. He chose not to talk to me.  I got the ghost. Not even a friend. Valueless. It was painful because I was excited to have a new friend in my life and did not know what to tell people when he disappeared.  Did not know what I did that was so wrong. I know I forced nothing on him, and the only person pushing any relationship type behavior was him. He did not meet my mother.

Tom then led into a series of helpful advice that danced me down a path to make myself better, more suitable for relationship status.  I tried to tell him I indeed liked men, I found them to be rather brash and hardened. Unemotional creatures. That if I were to settle down long term, I would like a man who would talk and not pacify me.  I would like a man who possessed feelings and opinions on items, not a man who tells me my pies are delicious just to make me happy (I know they taste like crap I eat them too). I would like a man who is bold, skips his bills to buy books because he dreams of opening a bookshop one day and has no regard for the normal process of things.  The bills will get paid when he is ready. I want a man to tell me I am ok, that he accepts me, even though I am a college drop out. Even though I live differently and punch a factory clock because I hate the office. I want him to do the dishes while I write and be a voice in my podcasting dreams. I want a partner, not a burden. If I can’t have these things in a man, then I have male friends I sleep with.

Tom wasn’t listening.   He asked me then…what makes you so special? Meaning what makes me so special that a man should have to be what seems to be more than a man to be with me.  The answer is two-fold. It is nothing. I am not special. I want what a man wants, something specific. I also wake up every day and love myself shamelessly just like a man does.  I don’t question my confidence. It is there, always has been. A confident woman who loves herself is a frightening item. Ask me. I am in trouble all the time because I am not modest and meek and it goes against the grain of all things believed feminine.   When a woman loves herself the world tries to tell her she is not allowing others to love her.

madhatta
sometimes we want fun without worry….

I then asked him why he thought I was unhappy being single?  Why did he assume I wanted a relationship? He looked shocked for a moment and his answer was…I don’t know, I don’t want one either.

So I asked a few of my male friends, why men felt “compelled” to fix women who weren’t in relationships?  And here are the answers:

 

“…we are all duped into believing the agriculturally based myth that women need to be taken care of and if they don’t have someone to take care of them…they will be in trouble…that might be simplistic, but that’s the first thing that came to mind also they might believe that a woman can’t be happy if she doesn’t have someone. I don’t feel compelled to tell anyone about relationships. I’m too old for that anymore.” C.S. 54

 

“And as far as the relationships thing. I think a lot of people think that being in one is “normal” and not being in one is “abnormal”.  I prefer to not be in one myself. A lot more freedom that way and if I need to have a casual hookup, then the option is there also. Just bc someone isn’t in one or wanting to be in one, doesn’t mean anything is “wrong” with them.” J.K. 34

 

“Most guys push their own faults onto others to make themselves feel better about their own miserable-existence” L.H. 24

 

“Women need self-reflection…not just women though..but men too. Its how we grow as individuals. What better way than to see the best and worse in yourself through someone else’s eyes” J.M. 38

 

“I get it from women so it might be just your perspective. Or the opposite gender in either case. As progressive/liberal/inclusive gender/queer positive the general populace is, there seems to be a natural propensity towards slut-shaming those who either choose not to be in a relationship or choose relationships with multiple people. A cultural lack of understanding and acceptance.” O.P. 38

 

“I think alot of guys actually believe they are paying a woman a compliment with the old “you’re to pretty to be single” rhetoric. most people are just stupid.” W.F. 37

 

 

The popular stories of our time do not make it easy for single people to define themselves without referring to marriage. And they make it especially challenging for single women with no kids to discuss their lives without mentioning motherhood or family.

The dominant narrative assumes a particular timeline for our adult lives: By a certain age, we marry, and then we have kids. It is considered common sense that people live that way. What is remarkable is that this way of thinking still has such power when it’s such a long way off from how people really do live(link is external). In the U.S., for example, fewer than 20 percent of all households are comprised of married parents and their kids. There are more households consisting of just one person living alone. And there are many people who live with friends, or with relatives other than a spouse or kids, or with friends and relatives.

How, then, do single women talk about their lives? Do they define themselves in terms of what they are not, or do they defy the party line about what constitutes a “normal” adult life and describe their lives more affirmatively, in terms of who and what they are? Or are both threads intertwined? 

(very long hyper-link there, psychology today awesome read!)

the perfectman
The perfect man…

 

 

“Professor Bella DePaulo, 60, a social scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has spent the last 20 years focusing on what she calls “singles studies”: measuring the impact that singledom has on people as well as the way society treats them. “I was always really happy with my single life,” she explains. “I never imagined what my wedding dress would look like or anything like that. Yet for a long time I thought that maybe I was just slow at getting there, that I’d be bitten by the ‘marriage bug’ at some point. I can’t remember when it was I realized, no, I’m never going to want that. Single is who I am. It was so freeing.”

 

However, she found herself perturbed by the lack of writing on long-term singledom or even any positive examples of it. “All the reports I read in the media were that marriage makes you happier, healthier and live longer, and it just wasn’t in line with my experiences,” she says.

 

So she started carrying out her own research. “I found there are such huge benefits to staying single. Women, especially, are more likely to enjoy solitude than men are. Single women find being alone is a wonderful time for restoration, creativity, and personal growth. And there are so many more opportunities to create the life you want, such as traveling, following your passions and doing meaningful work.”

 

Marketing executive Helen Patterson, 44, has been single for 10 years and describes life as “simpler than ever”. “I was 8 years old when I first heard the word ‘spinster’,” she remembers. “I said to my mum, ‘That’s what I want to be when I grow up.’ And nothing’s changed!” However, she says this doesn’t mean she can’t enjoy the romantic company. “My friend and I came up with the phrase ‘casual monogamy’,” she explains. “It’s like, I don’t want to meet your parents or move in with you, but I’m happy to hang out with you and have lots of hot sex with you and only you. Sadly, this concept seems to be rather exclusive to me and my friends!

 

Although she still dabbles in dating, Helen says she finds men her age are either looking for casual sex or marriage. “I think there’s a lot of grey area in-between. I could quite happily date someone until the day I die and not want it to get any more serious than that. My last relationship was this set-up, but after two years he started asking me where it was going. I was like, ‘Does it have to go somewhere?’”

 

Not all single women are on their own out of choice, of course – some simply haven’t met someone they want to commit to. Melanie, 53, a lawyer at a publishing firm, always envisaged herself settling down with someone because – unlike Bella or Helen – she knew she wanted children. “The pressure was on me to find a relationship so that I could be a mother. However, I never found one that I felt was worth sticking with in order to have a child,” she recalls.

She made the decision to adopt when she was in her early 40s. “It is harder having a child on your own, but it’s not impossible,” she says. “But then again, if I’d had a partner I’d also have the stress of dealing with the relationship on top. It’s not better or worse, it’s just what I’ve been dealt, and I’m happy with it.”

 

One assumption is that not meeting a partner equals a life of loneliness. But Bella says her studies show the opposite. “When you look at research that follows people over the course of their lives, you see that on average married people become more insular,” she says. “Single women are particularly good at maintaining friendships and social circles, and seeing family more often.” Both Helen and Melanie report having strong circles of friends, with a mixture of couples and other singles around them. “You can still develop meaningful friendships without a romantic relationship,” remarks Melanie, who’s even talking about moving into a communally owned house with friends as they reach retirement.”(https://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/london-life/why-these-older-woman-are-staying-single-and-loving-it-a3463511.html)

 

I can’t define myself.  I am waiting, disconsolate and soothed.  For the man who talks to me, walks with me.  Indulges in my creative nature and holds no trespass against me.  Someone who lets me cry out like a Princess when I am angry or sad and holds me for hours.  A man who understands passion and longs for me as I long for him. He will let me make mistakes and forgive me.  He will celebrate with me. Enjoy my racey, dry, sarcastic wit. He will understand my darkness and cynicism, my propensity to live life in the grey area.  The part of life that is always questioning and never correct. Perhaps my he will be she? And she will let me be “the he” I always feel like. I don’t know. Maybe I will be alone and love fifty cats and make dog hair sweaters.

 

But for now, we single women don’t need correction.  There is nothing wrong with us. We are unapologetic. Dancing in the street and sitting at bars alone catching the view.  We are having random hookups or not. We may or may never indulge in a peer to peer relationship as Standard America sees fit for us.  We are just fine with that.