I ran this earlier this year. But I decided that it was particularly appropriate for the holiday season so I move it up to today.
From Mother Nature Network: http://www.mnn.com/your-home/at-home/blogs/in-priase-scruffy-hospitality
June 7, 2016
My friends Dana and John perfectly practice what the Rev. Jack King referred to as “scruffy hospitality.” Their kitchen is small. The wood cabinets are dark and a few decades old. Spices and jars for sugar and flour line the countertops because there’s nowhere else to put them. A tall, round table shoved in a corner has mismatched bar stools crammed around it.
The sliding glass doors in the kitchen lead to a back deck with a well-used chiminea, an outdoor table and a large variety of chairs and cushions, many of them bought at yard sales. We circle the chairs around the chiminea on weekend nights during all four seasons, whenever Dana and John put out a simple call out through text or Facebook that says, “Fire tonight!”
There will always be food, but like the bar stools and deck chairs, the food is mismatched. Our hosts provide some food. John may have the urge to make jalapeño poppers or Dana may put together some version of salsa with whatever’s fresh from the garden, but there’s not a formally prepared meal. Everyone just brings something. It’s perfectly acceptable, encouraged even, to bring odds and ends of foods that need to get used up. I often bring wedges of cheese that have already been cut into or half a baguette to slice up and toast to dip in hummus. Everyone brings a little something to drink. And it’s a glorious feast.
This kitchen and deck won’t be featured in in Better Homes and Gardens anytime soon, but maybe they should be. They are two of the most hospitable spaces I know. By opening up their home as-is, Dana and John are the most gracious hosts I know. I almost wrote “by opening up their home with its imperfections,” but that’s not accurate. Their home is perfect — just like it is.
What is scruffy hospitality?
On his blog, Father Jack defines scruffy hospitality this way:
Scruffy hospitality means you’re not waiting for everything in your house to be in order before you host and serve friends in your home. Scruffy hospitality means you hunger more for good conversation and serving a simple meal of what you have, not what you don’t have. Scruffy hospitality means you’re more interested in quality conversation than the impression your home or lawn makes. If we only share meals with friends when we’re excellent, we aren’t truly sharing life together.
He encourages people not to allow an unfinished to-do list to stop us from opening our homes to friends and family.
I agree, but here’s the problem. It’s hard to let go of the belief that our homes need to be picture-perfect — or maybe I should say “Pinterest-perfect” — before we can welcome guests. But the idea that we must make our home look un-lived in before having people over stops so many of us from sharing life together.
Continue reading at: http://www.mnn.com/your-home/at-home/blogs/in-priase-scruffy-hospitality
Things I liked and thought about when I was a hippie back in the 1960s look better and better now that I am old.
Most of the ways of living peddled to us by the establishment as a way of exploiting us and taking what little we have seem far worse by comparison.
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, Oct. 04, 2016
A few years ago, four friends began a conversation: Here we are in our 50s and 60s, still active and (relatively) youthful, but all moving toward the day when we can no longer cling to our cherished independence. Retirement homes seem unappealing, nursing homes a last resort. Why not live together and support each other?
It was casual at first, a bit of a joke. But we kept coming back to it. Finally, a few months ago, we went off for a weekend together to come up with a plan.
We began with our reasons for wanting to consider this seemingly offbeat idea. What attracts us to living together?
First, community. André Picard, among others, has written about the extensive research showing that community is vital to health. Being connected – to family, friends, neighbours, a community group, a running club, a mosque – can add years to your life, studies have found.
Second, a smaller carbon footprint. A smaller home envelope to heat and cool and a shared kitchen with fewer appliances than separate houses mean fewer greenhouse gases.
While affordability is not the key driver of our plan, we do expect living together to be more economical than our current, independent living arrangements.
Gradually, a rough plan came into focus. The house should have a front porch, one of us said (zeroing in on essentials!). It has to be downtown, we all agreed – downtown, walkable and close to transit.
Over the course of our weekend retreat, the conversation took some radical turns. Initially, we had imagined a series of neighbouring condos or other self-contained units, but as we talked further, we found ourselves more drawn to a truly shared space.
We realized, for example, that we want to eat dinner together more often than not. Most of us like to cook, and we all love to eat. So a big common kitchen is essential. We like to discuss stuff – just about any stuff – so we need places for conversation.
We have children and grandchildren, and love to entertain, so a guest suite is an obvious need. A media room. A wine cellar! As the common areas became more central to our discussion, the private areas became smaller. We now imagine each unit (person or couple) having private space of about 600 square feet, designed to suit individual preferences. Naturally, everything will be designed to accommodate “aging in place.”
From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/20/opinion/sunday/the-end-of-identity-liberalism.html
It is a truism that America has become a more diverse country. It is also a beautiful thing to watch. Visitors from other countries, particularly those having trouble incorporating different ethnic groups and faiths, are amazed that we manage to pull it off. Not perfectly, of course, but certainly better than any European or Asian nation today. It’s an extraordinary success story.
But how should this diversity shape our politics? The standard liberal answer for nearly a generation now has been that we should become aware of and “celebrate” our differences. Which is a splendid principle of moral pedagogy — but disastrous as a foundation for democratic politics in our ideological age. In recent years American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing.
One of the many lessons of the recent presidential election campaign and its repugnant outcome is that the age of identity liberalism must be brought to an end. Hillary Clinton was at her best and most uplifting when she spoke about American interests in world affairs and how they relate to our understanding of democracy. But when it came to life at home, she tended on the campaign trail to lose that large vision and slip into the rhetoric of diversity, calling out explicitly to African-American, Latino, L.G.B.T. and women voters at every stop. This was a strategic mistake. If you are going to mention groups in America, you had better mention all of them. If you don’t, those left out will notice and feel excluded. Which, as the data show, was exactly what happened with the white working class and those with strong religious convictions. Fully two-thirds of white voters without college degrees voted for Donald Trump, as did over 80 percent of white evangelicals.
The moral energy surrounding identity has, of course, had many good effects. Affirmative action has reshaped and improved corporate life. Black Lives Matter has delivered a wake-up call to every American with a conscience. Hollywood’s efforts to normalize homosexuality in our popular culture helped to normalize it in American families and public life.
But the fixation on diversity in our schools and in the press has produced a generation of liberals and progressives narcissistically unaware of conditions outside their self-defined groups, and indifferent to the task of reaching out to Americans in every walk of life. At a very young age our children are being encouraged to talk about their individual identities, even before they have them. By the time they reach college many assume that diversity discourse exhausts political discourse, and have shockingly little to say about such perennial questions as class, war, the economy and the common good. In large part this is because of high school history curriculums, which anachronistically project the identity politics of today back onto the past, creating a distorted picture of the major forces and individuals that shaped our country. (The achievements of women’s rights movements, for instance, were real and important, but you cannot understand them if you do not first understand the founding fathers’ achievement in establishing a system of government based on the guarantee of rights.)
Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/20/opinion/sunday/the-end-of-identity-liberalism.html
A couple of years ago when we were in the process of losing our home and starting a small business I sold off my guitars to help us get through our tough patch.
Lately I’ve found myself really missing having an instrument and started shopping and saving to get another one.
I was checking out a Yamaha FG830 and one of the Martin DXs at a local Guitar Center. My finger tips are soft and my hands feel clumsy, Yet from the few things I picked the guy showing me the instruments said, “you used to play. It will come back and there are ways to play around the stiff fingers of old hands.
I was a hippie in the 1960s came out in the 1970s as a dyke. Now I’m an old hippie dyke and have have embraced doing certain creative things simply for the pleasure of doing them.
From The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/more-older-adults-learn-its-never-too-late-to-pick-up-a-musical-instrument/2016/11/10/628857ec-a570-11e6-8fc0-7be8f848c492_story.html
When Margo Thorning was a high school student in the late 1950s, she liked to play bongo drums while listening to jazz records, but it never occurred to her to take a drum lesson. She attended college, raised two sons, and worked as a senior economic policy adviser for a Washington think tank. All the while, the urge to beat out a rhythm persisted. So three years ago, at age 70, she started taking lessons.
“I’m pretty athletic, and I felt like I had a chance to be competent,” said Thorning, a Falls Church resident who plays tennis and rides horses. But drums were a challenge, physically and mentally. “Each hand and each foot is doing something, with a different hand and a different foot at one time.”
Mastering a new musical instrument has a reputation as a young person’s game. Like learning a foreign language, it is commonly seen as something that must be embedded during the formative years, otherwise the learner will be hopelessly behind, if not simply hopeless.
But increasingly, adults are embracing musicianship late in life. Some finally have time after their wage-earning and child-raising years have ended. Some are spurred on by studies showing the health benefits of playing music. Many describe it as scratching an itch they’ve had all their lives. And while some are happy to get to the point of playing “Happy Birthday” for their grandchildren, others achieve a level of competence that allows them to join ensembles and even earn money playing.
“It’s a growing trend,” said Alicia Andrews, assistant director and adult division manager at the Lucy Moses School at Kaufman Music Center in New York City. “In the last few years, more adults are really making music and arts a priority in their lives. ‘Bucket list’ is such a trendy term, but that’s what they say — ‘Playing an instrument has been on my bucket list.’ ”
Gary Marcus, a professor of psychology and neural science at New York University who wrote a book about learning guitar at age 40, said the idea that older people can’t learn new instruments is false. “There are very few really firm critical periods,” he said. “In general, most things adults can learn, but it takes more time, and they have to do it more incrementally. Maybe they won’t play like Jimi Hendrix, but they will be able to play well enough to satisfy themselves.”
Research shows that music stimulates the brain and enhances memory in older people. In one study, adults aged 60 to 85 without previous musical experience showed improved verbal fluency and processing speed after a few months of weekly piano lessons.
Continue reading at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/more-older-adults-learn-its-never-too-late-to-pick-up-a-musical-instrument/2016/11/10/628857ec-a570-11e6-8fc0-7be8f848c492_story.html
Being old has a way of changing perspective. I view things differently than I did 20 years ago when I first came on line…
Sober for the last 16 years.
I gave up fighting with people over words used to describe a shared aspect of our lives. You have your words, I have mine.
I’ve traded engagement for detachment, politics for the quiet joys of simply living out my final years with someone I deeply love.
Yes I am disappointed by the results of the election. But that has been the case many times before. I first voted in 1968 and over the years have been more disappointed than not.
I do not march or go to street protests anymore. I’m too slow to run, too poor to deal with either an injury or an arrest.
Posts on Facebook reminded me that it is that time of year, when people gather to remember transfolks, actually transwomen who have been murdered over the course of the last year.
Somehow we are supposed to feel connected, part of a “community” but I don’t feel a tribal connection, a bond.
Instead as I think back over the last year I think of artists I liked who passed away. Leonard Cohen, Mose Allison, Leon Russell, Guy Clark, Merle Haggard.
I think of friends and family members some of whom passed away this last year. Some battling cancer and surprising even their doctors.
I think of the friends both human and four legged who have passed away and how I miss them.
It is autumn, even here in Texas, the days are short.
Instead of mourning those I do not know I look forward to Thanksgiving when we will entertain an old friend.
Breaking bread, sharing stories about our ailments, remembering friends who passed away when they were way too young.
While the Day of Remembrance for murdered transwomen fails to personally resonate doesn’t make it a bad thing. When I passed the torch of activism on a few years ago I was glad there were people there to take up the battles.
Indeed there are some ideas of special days I really like. Thanksgiving, Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. A Day of Remembrance fits in there.
When I had my implants removed a dozen years ago I had a serious breast cancer scare.
One of the things about being old is confronting my own mortality with courage and free from delusions.
We know many other folks our age, both men and women living with cancer, chemo, radiation and some dying.
All of this makes the concerns of the Doctors pushing “state of the art” reconstruction with their focus on appearances seem sort of shallow.
From The New York Times Magazine: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/01/well/live/going-flat-after-breast-cancer.html
Before Debbie Bowers had surgery for breast cancer, her doctor promised that insurance would pay for reconstruction, and said she could “even go up a cup size.” But Ms. Bowers did not want a silicone implant or bigger breasts.
“Having something foreign in my body after a cancer diagnosis is the last thing I wanted,” said Ms. Bowers, 45, of Bethlehem, Pa. “I just wanted to heal.”
While plastic surgeons and oncologists aggressively promote breast reconstruction as a way for women to “feel whole again,” some doctors say they are beginning to see resistance to the surgery. Patients like Ms. Bowers are choosing to defy medical advice and social convention and remain breastless after breast cancer. They even have a name for the decision to skip reconstruction: They call it “going flat.”
“Reconstruction is not a simple process,” said Dr. Deanna J. Attai, a breast surgeon in Burbank, Calif., and a past president of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, adding that more of her patients, especially those with smaller breasts before diagnosis, were opting out of reconstruction. “Some women just feel like it’s too much: It’s too involved, there are too many steps, it’s too long a process.”
Social media has allowed these women to become more open about their decision to live without breasts, as well as the challenges, both physical and emotional, that have followed. For a recent video created by wisdo.com, a social media platform, and widely shared on Facebook, Ms. Bowers and her friend Marianne DuQuette Cuozzo, 51, removed their shirts to show their scarred, flat chests. And Paulette Leaphart, 50, a New Orleans woman whose clotting disorder prevented her from having reconstruction after a double mastectomy, walked topless from Biloxi, Miss., to Washington this summer to raise awareness about the financial struggles of cancer patients.
“Breasts aren’t what make us a woman,” Ms. Leaphart said.
The nascent movement to “go flat” after mastectomies challenges long-held assumptions about femininity and what it means to recover after breast cancer. For years, medical professionals have embraced the idea that breast restoration is an integral part of cancer treatment. Women’s health advocates fought for and won approval of the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998, which requires health plans to cover prosthetics and reconstructive procedures.
Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/01/well/live/going-flat-after-breast-cancer.html
October 19, 2016
You don’t end up in Round Valley, one of Mendocino County’s finest cannabis-growing micro climates, by accident. It is well northeast of Highway 101, along a winding mountain road that follows the curves of Outlet Creek and the Middle Fork of the Eel River.
After 45 minutes, the valley comes into view. From a lookout called Inspiration Point, even in a light drizzle, Round Valley is a picture of bucolic grace, with wheat-colored fields, black cows and green orchards spreading out below.
Many of those groves conceal marijuana plants — or trees as they call them around here — which flourish in the rich alluvial soil of the valley’s fertile bottomland.
The highway through the valley is dead straight, punctuated by one town, Covelo, population about 1,200. Just past town, I pulled onto a farm owned by Robert and John Cunnan, identical 76-year-old twins who were born in Glendale and left Southern California more than 40 years ago seeking a better life.
“We came here with the back-to-the-land movement,” Robert told me as we stood in front of a shed where dozens of fragrant cannabis stalks were hanging to dry.
For $6,500, the brothers bought 10 acres with a creek down the middle. They built craftsman-style homes for themselves and raised families on food they grew in their gardens and money earned as cabinet makers for what they call “mom-and-pop” businesses — restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques. They got by, but barely.
“A friend of mine came up here in 1985, grew marijuana and sold it for $2,000 a pound,” Robert said. “And that’s when I thought, ‘You know, you might be able to make a little money doing this.’ ”
This, pretty much, is the very thought that has crossed the minds of untold thousands of Mendocino County residents, beleaguered by the crashing logging and fishing industries, and willing to flout the law to support their families.
“At one time, I sold stuff for $5,000 a pound,” Robert said. “It was worth more than gold. Now, it’s down to $1,200 to $1,500. But cannabis allowed me to finish my house and get comfortable.” (Yields vary wildly, but in these parts, each tree can produce two to four pounds or more.)
“I consider myself a teacher and a woodworker,” said John, who commutes to Ukiah once a week to teach woodworking in two schools. “The cannabis is just to fill in where the teaching and woodworking don’t pay the bills.”
I assumed the Cunnans would be strong proponents of legalizing cannabis for recreational use. As it turns out, they oppose Proposition 64, which would regulate and tax cannabis for the adult market.
And they are not alone.
Many small marijuana farmers, as it happens, see Proposition 64 as a threat to their way of life.
They believe that a legal, regulated cannabis market could open the floodgates to corporatization of the industry, pushing taxes up and prices down, perhaps forcing them out of business altogether.
“The thing you need to realize is that this is a movement that is becoming an industry,” Robert said. “The movement was organic gardening, the back-to-the-land, alternative lifestyle. We were the original generation that came out here and set up our pot gardens.”
Like mom-and-pop businesses squeezed out by big-box retailers, he said, so are pot farmers in danger of being squeezed out of business once big corporations get a toehold in the cannabis business.
From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/rei-black-friday_us_580e3581e4b000d0b157b3ff
For the second year in a row, REI is telling its customers to take a hike.
The sporting goods retailer said Monday it plans to close all 149 stores on Black Friday, the annual shopping bonanza that has in recent years sprawled over into Thanksgiving itself. The company’s website won’t process any sales on Black Friday, and all 12,287 employees will be paid to take the day off.
Instead, REI ― whose name stands for Recreational Equipment, Inc. ― is once again urging would-be shoppers to spend the holiday outside.
“Consumerism has had a push for a long period of time,” Jerry Stritzke, REI’s chief executive, told The Huffington Post on Monday. “The response we saw last year to our announcement is really a backlash to the consumerism invading our key holidays.”
A growing number of retail workers can no longer count on being able to take Thanksgiving off. This year, 49 percent of retailers plan to stay open on the holiday, according to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers ― up 1 percent from the year before.
The Seattle-based REI is bucking that trend, enlisting nearly 275 organizations ― including the National Park Service and a handful of nonprofits that take kids from poor, inner-city homes out into nature ― to host events supporting its marketing campaign, known as #OptOutside.
Last year, REI saw a 100 percent increase in job applications in the 30 days after stores closed on Black Friday, Stritzke said.
“That’s a pretty tangible way of telling us that the idea was very well received,” he said.
REI plans to become more politically active, making conservation and environmental advocacy a bigger part of its ethos, Stritzke said. Beyond climate change, he’d like to see more discussion of the value of exposing children to the outdoors and “the power of nature to heal.”
Continue reading at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/rei-black-friday_us_580e3581e4b000d0b157b3ff
When I came out in 1969, gay sex was still illegal and gay men were regularly arrested for simply asking another man to go home with them. We survived.
Being trans was also pretty much illegal and being stealth was a survival tool. We survived.
Last night I started reading Fugitives of the Forest: The Heroic Story Of Jewish Resistance And Survival During The Second World War. Some survived and went on to fight for Israel’s nationhood.
My brother still lives in the mountains of up state New York. Yet his politics are further from those of New York City than are the politics of Dallas. There is an urban/rural divide. Small towns across America that were homes to mills that provided jobs to workers look at mills long shuttered, the work outsourced.
When people talk about making America great again out in the small towns they are talking about the days when there were small local businesses. The days before the big box store (s) out on the interstate gutted out all the locally owned businesses and destroyed their civic identity.
We go to small towns and cities where the downtowns are abandoned. In a lucky few antique shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants occupy the storefronts where there were once small businesses like hardware stores. If there are still movie theaters they are out in the mall out on the highway.
When you go to the mall you find chains of stores, not locally owned businesses. The malls rarely rent to stores not part of a chain. Same goes for the fast food restaurants. The people who work those jobs do not own those businesses. They are owned by corporations and suits who live far away in mansions and penthouses.
I’ve watched since the 1960s as the Democrats abandoned the working class. LBJ was maybe the last Democrat to pull the working class together and unite both urban and rural factions.
The urban coastal folks have treated most of America as fly over country, neglected supporting the party, neglected their needs as the rust belt was gutted out and jobs were out sourced. Then the high tech work, people were retrained for, went direct to China without even paying a brief visit to the places where people had retrained.
Living in Texas and having always loved folk/country/Americana music I listen to, people like The Flat Landers and James McMurtry.
James McMurtry’s most recent album “Complicated Game” should be mandatory listening for people trying to figure out what went wrong.
And maybe the Sanders supporters were right, maybe he had a better grasp on the pulse and could have reached out to the people beyond the coastal enclaves.
It’s an easy cliche to blame racism, to blame all the things those who fly over those small cities and towns blame.
But as long as we are a nation where those areas are ignored by those who live in urban enclaves in the Northeast and on the West Coast we will live in a nation divided.
If those on the right live in an information bubble so too do those on the left.
We live in Texas and are appalled by the ideas and stereotype folks here have of New Yorkers and Californians. Yet having lived in both those places, if we look honestly at some of the people we encountered in those places we see the nugget of truth. But having lived there we also know how those stereotypes fail to represent the majority of people in either New York or Los Angeles.
The same is true of the people who live in that vast sea of red one sees from looking at last nights precinct reports. Some fit the most negative stereotypes one can imagine, the majority do not.
Democrats and Republican have both focused on identities and put a lot of energy into denying others things which they, themselves disapprove of.
All of which is far easier than focusing on how so much of the nation has been economically devastated by trade policies in which both parties were complicit.
As long as we have a government that is structured as a republic which guarantees the representation of those states, cities and people who have had their lives destroyed by free trade, trade deals and out sourcing you will have a major portion of the population which will be angry with Washington and the government.
Yes they voted for a populist demagogue, they saw Clinton as part of the problem and not offering a solution other than more of the same.
On November 9, 1938, the Nazi paramilitary force known as the SA led a pogrom against German Jews that is now known as Kristallnacht, or the Night of the Broken Glass. They torched synagogues, smashed Jewish businesses and ransacked Jewish homes, sending an estimated 30,000 of their occupants to concentration camps. The two-day orgy of anti-Semitic violence was a decisive turning point in the Nazi war against the Jews, which morphed into genocide.
This year, one night before we commemorate that event, millions of Americans will cast their ballot for Donald Trump, whose candidacy for President of the United States is supported by neo-Nazis. There is a cynical aphorism about history — that its most consistent lesson teaches that humans consistently fail to learn from history. Seven decades after thousands of American soldiers died fighting Hitler’s army in Europe, the current election campaign illustrates this frightening truth.
For Jews in America, this election has revealed an additional truth that has not really been sufficiently acknowledged — perhaps because it is too sickening and frightening to think about. And that is that for the American media, which caters to the American people, it was the “Access Hollywood” video showcasing Trump’s misogyny that caused the biggest wave of outrage — and not his flirtations with fascism. Americans’ reaction to the video proved that they find insults to beautiful white women unforgivable; neo-Nazi affiliations are, on the other hand, discomfiting, but ultimately tolerable.
And yet, just as a minority of Italian Jews once joined Mussolini’s fascist party, there are Trump-supporting Jews who choose to overlook, minimize or dismiss the GOP candidate’s neo-Nazi affiliations. Jewish voters are overwhelmingly aligned with the Democratic Party, but about 19% of them support Trump — including casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has given millions to the Trump campaign.
Despite the mountain of evidence that he is a real, old-fashioned, strutting and sieg-heiling type of Jew hater, Trump has for the most part managed to avoid being labeled an anti-Semite.
Even the Anti-Defamation League, which just issued a report documenting a sharp rise in anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish journalists during the presidential campaign, has pulled its punches. Responding to Trump’s last campaign ad, which mainstream American media labeled an overt rip-off of classic anti-Semitic tropes, Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the ADL, said, “Whether intentional or not, the images and rhetoric in this ad touch on subjects that anti-Semites have used for ages.”
It takes a special type of denial, swallowed with a heavy dose of Kool-Aid, to convince an intelligent person that Trump’s embrace of language and images overtly taken from the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” white supremacist sites, the Ku Klux Klan, the “alt-right” and European neo-Nazi parties could possibly be unintentional. Especially given that the “alt-right” regards Trump as a near-messianic voice.
Sunday 6 November 2016
When I was a girl of 11 I had an argument with my father that left my psyche maimed. It was about whether a woman could be the president of the US.
How did it even start? I was no feminist prodigy, just a shy kid who preferred reading to talking; politics weren’t my destiny. Probably, I was trying to work out what was possible for my category of person – legally, logistically – as one might ask which kinds of terrain are navigable for a newly purchased bicycle. Up until then, gender hadn’t darkened my mental doorway as I followed my older brother into our daily adventures wearing hand-me-down jeans.
But in adolescence it dawned on me I’d be spending my future as a woman, and when I looked around, alarm bells rang. My mother was a capable, intelligent, deeply unhappy woman who aspired to fulfilment as a housewife but clearly disliked the job. I saw most of my friends’ mothers packed into that same dreary boat. My father was a country physician, admired and rewarded for work he loved. In my primordial search for a life coach, he was the natural choice.
I probably started by asking him if girls could go to college, have jobs, be doctors, tentatively working my way up the ladder. His answers grew more equivocal until finally we faced off, Dad saying, “No” and me saying, “But why not?” A female president would be dangerous. His reasons vaguely referenced menstruation and emotional instability, innate female attraction to maternity and aversion to power, and a general implied ickyness that was beneath polite conversation.
I ended that evening curled in bed with my fingernails digging into my palms and a silent howl tearing through me that lasted hours and left me numb. The next day I saw life at a remove, as if my skull had been jarred. What changed for me was not a dashing of specific hopes, but an understanding of what my father – the person whose respect I craved – really saw when he looked at me. I was tainted. I would grow up to be a lesser person, confined to an obliquely shameful life.
But I didn’t stop asking what a woman gets to do, and so began a lifelong confrontation with that internal howl. The slap-downs were often unexpected. Play drums in the band? No. Sign up for the science team? Go camping with the guys? Go jogging in shorts and a tank top without fear of being assaulted? Experiment boldly, have a career, command a moral authority of my own? Walk home safely after dark? No, no, no.
Eventually, I wrestled my way to yes on most of these things, except of course the last one. And the same dread that stalks me in dark parking lots – the helpless fury of knowing I don’t get to be just a person here, going about my business – has haunted all the other pursuits, from science team to career. It’s a matter of getting up each day and pushing myself again into a place some people think I have no right to occupy.
My father is very old now. Lately, I brought up our ancient argument about who may occupy the White House, but he didn’t remember it. The world has changed and so has he, urged forward by working daughters and granddaughters. He’s ready and eager to vote for a woman president. But it’s knocked the breath out of me to learn that most of his peers are not.
Hillary Clinton has honoured the rules of civic duty and met the prerequisites for a candidate, bringing a lifetime of pertinent experience, an inquiring mind, a record of compassionate service and a sound grasp of our nation’s every challenge, from international relations to climate change; her stated desire is to work hard for our country and its future.
From The Washington Blade: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2016/11/07/trans-americans-theres-lot-riding-election/
by Allison Van Kuiken
November 7, 2016
With 17 measures on the California ballot, control of Congress up for grabs, a host of local races and a critical choice for president – it’d be easy to say there’s a lot at stake for this election. For me, there’s even more.
I am a new mother. I have a beautiful 11-week-old daughter and a wife I adore. And I am a transgender woman.
As Nov. 8 approaches, I think every day about the freedoms riding on this upcoming election. For the transgender community, our lives and identities have literally become a wedge issue designed to polarize Americans for or against us, so much so that I believe my family’s future and safety are at risk.
I have always voted, but this year my vote takes on added significance as I think about the daughter that I am raising, and the family I provide for. It’s terrifying to think we have a major party candidate who’s been advocating violence and encouraging fear of the unknown and the misunderstood.
This election holds the potential for two very different futures for my family and my community. One where our voices will be heard, our victories sustained and where we will be at liberty to take steps toward true equality. The other holds fear and persecution, and the potential to backpedal on issues critical to LGBT social justice and equality.
In California, a state with the strongest LGBT civil rights protections in the world, my gender identity is still not understood by many people and most certainly carries a stigma. Not a day passes that I don’t hear a story about a member of my community being denied housing, employment or even fired for living their truth. Even with the LGBT civil rights protections in California, the truth is that we are not afforded the same rights and protections as other Californians. So I am voting so that everyone can work and provide for our families.
States like North Carolina have shown us that the fight to end discrimination against the LGBT community is far from over, and that every victory we have won over the past decade is not yet secure. The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the legalization of gay marriage and the recent transgender case to reach the Supreme Court are important milestones for our community. And to potentially have a president who does not see us as equals, or even as human beings, could mean the unraveling of every one of these accomplishments.
In raising a family, my wife and I want to live in a community that supports us and our daughter. Across the country and even here in California, transgender people are still being murdered and targeted for being who they are and that affects our loved ones. In this election, we have a choice to make regarding the kind of communities we all want to live in. Do we let the forces of hate take control of our neighborhoods and cities or do we stand on the side of love and acceptance and work toward building a better world for our children and future generations.
October 7, 2016
There is a growing trend toward ‘New Consumerism’, which means that people are buying more conscientiously than ever before.
Skinny jeans became popular ten years ago. I’ll never forget the horror I felt, arriving back in Canada after a year in Brazil, to find people walking the streets of Toronto in pants that looked like something my (seriously untrendy) mother would wear. I told a friend, “You’ll never catch me dead in those.” A decade later, she still teases me about that comment, as skinny jeans have obviously become a wardrobe staple.
Since then, nothing terribly big or exciting has happened in the fashion world, according to retailer Urban Outfitters:
“Real changes in fashion which spur the public into spending money on a whole new look are few and far between. In mainstream terms, the last really big trend was skinny jeans… And we’re still wearing them” (The Independent).
It appears that people are less interested in buying clothes than they once were. While they’re spending more money than ever, those dollars are being directed elsewhere, typically more toward food and away from fashion, where retailers are reporting decreases in profit. Seasonal trends are increasingly removed from reality, as people don’t want to spend their money on updates that appear insignificant. The Independent reports:
“There is a world of difference between the ‘seasons’ that fashion editors talk about, with different styles offered up to four times a year, and the real world, where people put on layers and just don’t see the need for a new coat every October.”
Today’s consumers are reassessing their priorities and questioning what they really value. This fits into the growing trend of ‘New Consumerism,’ a term coined by research firm Euromonitor International to describe a widespread movement that prioritizes conscientious shopping over conspicuous consumerism. There are eight key trends that comprise New Consumerism:
1) The circular economy (where everything is use and nothing is wasted)
2) Frugal innovation (eliminating costly, unnecessary features from inventions)
3) Trading up and trading down (willingness to compromise in some areas to be able to splurge in others)
4) The sharing economy (connecting supply and demand, disrupting the traditional way of conducting business)
5) Experiential purchases over material ones
6) Buying time for oneself (an increase in outsourced tasks)
7) Reassessing one’s use of space (i.e. Do I really need to live in a large home?)
8) The ‘gig’ economy (characterized by short-term work contracts and freelancing, as well as the ability to move around)
In the fashion world, writes Business of Fashion, New Consumerism has translated into demand for increased transparency, authentic brand values, sustainable production processes, an embrace of the sharing economy, and unique retail experiences, among other things.
She leads a clandestine existence, on the move and under 24-hour guard as France’s most protected woman. Yet Zineb El Rhazoui, the Charlie Hebdo journalist who happened to be in Casablanca on January 7 last year, the day terrorists “avenging the Prophet” massacred nine people at the satirical magazine in Paris, believes she has a duty to defy Islamists desperate to silence her.
Shaken but undeterred by the fatwas and relentless, precise death threats issued via social media to “kill the bitch” since she helped produce the publication’s first survivors’ issue following the attack — and spoke about it in Arabic for the Arab press — the Moroccan-French writer refuses to assume an anonymous identity. Fleeing Paris or abandoning her human rights activism, and her unforgiving critiques of the religion she grew up with, are also out of the question.
“I don’t have the right to renounce my struggle, or to give up my freedom,” says the reporter and sociologist of religion in an interview with Women in the World, during a recent trip to New York, as part of French president Francois Hollande’s delegation when he received the Appeal of Conscience Foundation’s World Statesman Award for 2016. “If the French state protects me it is not little individual me: What is being protected is my freedom to be irreverent, and freedom of expression, so I should exercise this even more because I enjoy this protection.”
“It’s totally crazy. I have done nothing against the law and have nothing to hide, yet I live with security while those who threaten us are free,” El Rhazoui declares with an air of shock and anger that underscores the arbitrariness and brutality visited on a 34-year-old woman condemned to living on the run and mostly in the shadows. “And if you call them by their names you are Islamophobic and racist. I am racist? I can teach them a few things about Arab culture. I can show them how to discover its richness and the diversity of their culture. I believe this culture deserves universality because you can be Arab, Muslim and a free thinker.”
Sweeping in to the offices of Women in the World in Manhattan, accompanied by bodyguards, the world-renowned journalist is living proof of her pledge to keep “living her life beyond its limits” as a key way of resisting terror. Elegant and beautiful, with her long, wavy hair flowing freely and in an impeccably tailored black dress, El Rhazoui is reminiscent of 1940s cinema’s cerebral heroines — her eloquence and composure only occasionally betraying the trauma of the past 20 months. Each time we speak about the aftermath of the massacre at her magazine and how she is coping personally her voice quavers, but when the subject comes back to her fight for reform in Islamic civilization she is fearless.
In a world filled with corporations that don’t give a shit about anything but making money there are some that are exceptions. They treat their employees like family and are responsible citizens. Patagonia is one of those companies.
From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/patagonia-election-day_us_5813af65e4b0390e69d04160
Patagonia said Friday it plans to shut down most of its operations on Nov. 8 in hopes of spurring its customers and employees to vote.
The upscale outdoor gear giant, famous for its environmental activism, said it feared that voters turned off by this election’s vicious mudslinging would neglect to cast their ballots during a pivotal year in the battle against climate change. As such, the retailer plans to close all 29 stores across the country, as well as its headquarters, distribution and customer service centers.
“During a time of catastrophic environmental crisis, when America needs strong leadership to confront the fundamental threat of climate change, voter turnout threatens to reach historic lows as people are turned off by the ugliness of politics,” Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario said in a statement. “As a business, we have a unique ability to take a stand and choose to prioritize the health of the planet over profit, and I think it’s important we take that opportunity when it truly matters.”
The move expands on a marketing campaign, launched last month, called Vote The Planet. As part of the campaign, the company held voter registration rallies at its stores, where it began distributing voter guides detailing where local and national candidates stand on environmental issues.
From The Guardian UK: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/20/nasty-woman-insult-hillary-clinton
Thursday 20 October 2016
Little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice but sometimes they grow up and life corrupts them. They metamorphosize from being sweet little girls into Nasty Women.
The most extreme case in point, as Donald Trump helpfully pointed out during yesterday’s debate, is Hillary Clinton. Not only did she get in her pretty little head that she wanted to run for president. She decided to carry on with the charade and answer real questions about policy during the debate. Worse still, she only let Trump interrupt her every few minutes – and I mean, everyone knows how much he respects women, he was just trying to help her out.
So while Clinton was explaining her views on funding social security, Trump decided to go ahead and say what everyone was thinking: Hillary Clinton is “such a nasty woman”.
While Clinton may be the chief Nasty Woman of the United States, we’ve all been there at some point. There are few women out there who haven’t been informed at some point by a man they are, in fact, a Nasty Woman.
It often happens at the bar. A guy comes over to you and pays you a compliment. It’s a real honor; he’s taken time out from socializing with his friends to talk to you! Instead of understanding how much of an honor it is, however, you tell him that you’re not really interested. He informs you that you’re ugly anyway! He informs you, in so many words, that you’re a Nasty Woman.
Maybe you do go home with that guy, though. Maybe you just feel like having sex. Some women occasionally do, I’ve heard. That also makes you a Nasty Woman. You didn’t wait long enough, you see. You’re a slut. A whore. He’s a stud, a player. It’s not double standards. It’s just the way of the world. Deal with it.
Nasty Women aren’t just wandering our bars. They’re everywhere. Walking down the street, for example. A guy catcalls you, yells a comment. You ignore him. He yells after you, a profanity followed by an uncomplimentary descriptor. Why didn’t you just stop and listen to his compliments? Are you really that rude? Why do you have to be such a Nasty Woman?
They’re at work too. Nasty Women speak up too much. They’re too ambitious. Too aggressive. They’re not team players. Let’s be honest, they’re real bitches. They may get to the top, they may climb that greasy ladder, but at what cost? Nobody likes them. They probably never have sex. Their children probably hate them. They probably have no idea how to bake. They’re Nasty Women.