Privilege and Practicing Thankfulness

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States, a time when most of us stop and think about the things we’re thankful for. This year, the major things on my thankfulness list are Jeremy, my new dance studio family, the new job I’ll be starting on Monday, and the chance to know and learn from Auntie Wanda, a wonderful lady from my hula class who passed away on Sunday. And of course, I’m really thankful to not have to work tomorrow (check out last year’s post about people who shop on Thanksgiving).

But there are a huge number of things I’m thankful for every single day, things that seem so small I don’t often stop and think about them, but things that thousands or millions of people in this country and this world are lacking. I was born white, which is a huge advantage in this country. I was born into a family determined to give me the very best education I could get, and a family that had the money to do so. Jeremy and I make enough money to afford a nice apartment, nutritious food, and occasional treats like ice cream and movie tickets. I have the health and the strength to keep myself healthy and strong most of the time, and I can go outside even if the air quality isn’t stellar. I have a car that gets good gas mileage and is still going strong, despite turning twenty-three years old next year. I have a tremendous support system of family and friends, people I can turn to for advice and assistance with pretty much any problem I encounter. I am straight, which means I’m able to love the person I love without fear of systemic or individual persecution. I have regular access to clean, running water and indoor plumbing. I have a computer and a smart phone and Internet access to help me with communication, education, and entertainment. Continue reading “Privilege and Practicing Thankfulness”

Advertisements

Thoughts on Wicked, Theatre Evolution, and Life Imitating Art

Several months ago Jeremy and I purchased season tickets to the 2017-2018 Broadway in Cleveland series so we could be guaranteed tickets to Hamilton this coming August. Our friends April and Jjay did too. We normally have tickets for different nights than they do, but we each ended up switching a pair of tickets from the regular season so we could see Wicked, and we all got to see it together on Friday.

Wicked is easily one of my favorite musicals of all time. It opened on Broadway in 2003, and when I was in high school (2003-2007), my friends and I listened to its cast album almost constantly. We sang it in the car. We sang it on the band bus. We sang it while getting ready for homecoming. We sang it as part of our show choir set at the spring concert one year. Wicked, along with NewsiesRent, and Moulin Rouge!, made up the soundtrack to my high school experience.  Continue reading “Thoughts on Wicked, Theatre Evolution, and Life Imitating Art”

American Crossroads

Almost thirteen months ago, I did something I never thought I’d do: I wrote a blog post about an NFL player. I probably shouldn’t be, but I am baffled that people are still freaking out over what he did.

I’m going to try really hard not to just rehash everything I wrote last year, but I’m still trying to grasp how people can think that choosing not to stand for the national anthem is an affront to military members. All the service people I know personally (at least the ones who are involved in the conversations happening) are saying that they fought for the rights of all Americans to exercise their constitutional rights and they applaud the professional athletes who are taking a knee. But so many other current and former military members seem to have such fragile egos that they somehow suffer personal damage when someone they’ve never met chooses not to stand for symbols that are supposed to belong to all American people, not just those in uniform. It makes me so mad that people insist on glossing over the fact that Colin Kaepernick changed his position from sitting to kneeling at the request of a military member who thought kneeling showed some respect but still indicated a protest. And anyway, I’m so confused by the ideas that the American flag and the national anthem belong to military members, rather than all Americans, and that military members get to tell the rest of us how to treat these symbols. Putting on a military uniform doesn’t make you any more American than someone who chooses to serve their country as a teacher or a doctor or a lawyer or an artist. Continue reading “American Crossroads”

Close Encounters of the 45th Kind

The only thing I can add to the clamor surrounding the situation in Charlottesville is to condemn hatred, white supremacy, and anyone who seeks to make certain Americans feel uncomfortable in their own homes and skins. I’m so grateful for Heather Heyer and her fellow protesters for taking a stand, and I mourn the loss of one and the injury of several voices for good.

The march in Charlottesville terrifies me because I thought our country had come so much farther than it apparently has. Of course I knew that there were a few small, pathetic enclaves of white supremacists still hanging on here and there, but to know that there are that many people who are excited to wave the Nazi flag without even covering their faces, whether they’re fully committed or just “weekend warriors” chills me to my core. In some ways it’s those “weekend warriors” that scare me the most, those who thought they’d shout a bunch of racist threats one afternoon and then return happily to their comfortable lives and jobs, because if this past year in the United States has taught me anything, it’s the danger of large groups of people being unable or unwilling to see the obvious future consequences of their actions.

I’ve been Facebook friends with a close relative of one of my best friends for a while because of a project we were both involved with last year. Last night, this guy posted a big, long rant (something he’d obviously copied and pasted from someone else) about how no other American president and first lady have been insulted, scrutinized, made fun of, etc. the way the Trumps have. Now, if someone’s going to go and complain about how the current president and their family are being treated unfairly, I will admit that that’s a matter of opinion, even if I disagree with the sentiment. But facts are facts, and I can’t stand people who try to rewrite history, so I pointed out the inaccuracies of this guy’s statement. Completely ignoring everything I’d posted, he responded with a statement about how happy he was to have voted for Trump. Then this happened:

Screenshot_20170814-230354

I already knew this guy was no Einstein, but this floored me. I know there are people out there who voted for Trump without a thought for how their vote would affect the women, LGBTQIA+ people, black people, etc. in their lives, but at least a lot of them are able to seem properly ashamed of themselves when you point it out, like the man my sister talked to the night after the election. This guy has posted more than once in the short time we’ve been Facebook friends about how he became a Christian while in prison a while back and is involved in a ministry that serves current prison inmates — and this is his attitude? My heart breaks for this guy’s sister-in-law and nephew, knowing this member of their family doesn’t see or care about the very real danger Trump poses to them. My heart breaks for his beautiful little daughter, who was a flower girl in my friends’ wedding. She’s white, and she immediately became friends with the other flower girl, who was black — she even told off her brother for bumping into her new friend and knocking her down on the dance floor at the reception. Will she continue to set race aside when making friends as she grows up, given the kind of values her parents are going to be teaching her? Will she learn the importance of consent and the ability to stand up for herself and her bodily autonomy while growing up in the household she’s a part of? How will their sons learn to treat women, or anyone whom society declares weaker or less worthy than themselves?

I care very strongly about the kind of leadership the president of our country provides because it has a profound impact on my life as a woman and a person who loves a whole bunch of non-white, non-male, non-straight, and non-cis-gendered people. It’s become very clear that the attitude set by the presidential administration creates either a favorable or an unfavorable environment for the disgusting actions we saw in Virginia this weekend.

I’ve always relied on facts and figures, as well as personal experiences, to bolster my arguments and help me make my points. But now we are dealing with a huge crop of people in this country who will deny facts, figures, and primary sources until they’ve gone past blue in the face and have simply expired. I don’t know how to deal with that. I don’t know any other way to get important messages across.

I’m currently in the middle of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which I’m reading for (I think) the sixth time. Voldemort has divided the British Wizarding community through terrorism and the spread of misinformation, to the point that the Ministry of Magic is literally asking Muggle-born witches and wizards from whom they stole their magical powers. It’s insane. Those Muggle-borns bought their wands in Diagon Alley when they were eleven years old just like any pureblood wizard, and it’s impossible to steal magic. But Harry and his friends are determined that love and truth will win out, and though it’s a long, hard, sometimes dangerous slog, I know they’re going to be victorious in the end.

As always, Harry Potter gives me hope when little else does.

When $30 Feels Like $1 Million

I was feeling a little down on Thursday. It was so gloomy when I woke up at 8:30 that I thought it was 5 AM before I looked at the clock. It rained all day. I had work to do, plus I needed to finish cleaning my apartment because my mom and grandma were coming up the next day, but I couldn’t seem to concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes, even if I played music from iTunes, which often helps me focus. Nothing was really wrong, but I just felt a little out of sorts and grumpy. I also needed to eat some lunch before I went to babysit in the afternoon, and I was struck by a sudden craving for Chipotle, but it’s the end of the month, and after a couple of unexpected expenses popped up over the last few weeks, my bank account is depressingly low until the start of June.

So I did what any frustrated millennial does: I wrote a whiny Facebook status. Specifically, it said, “Cannot concentrate on anything today for more than 10 minutes. Also craving Chipotle and have no money for it. Life is rough.” Really and truly, I was just venting a little bit. I wasn’t asking for anything. Continue reading “When $30 Feels Like $1 Million”

The Battle of Hogwarts

Today, May 2, 2017, is the nineteenth anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts. Every year on this day, I think very seriously about the bravery and the sacrifices made by some of the greatest literary characters ever created, because the Harry Potter books are not just stories to me. Even today, when something in my life has got me feeling a lot like Harry when he found out how much information Dumbledore had been keeping from him, I think about the children who hadn’t yet graduated school who stood up against the ultimate evil to protect their friends and classmates and even people they didn’t know from prejudice and hatred and human rights abuses. I think about the adults who put themselves in harm’s way even if it meant losing their jobs or their dignity or even their families. I think about the power of love and truth and justice and how important it is for every one of us who believes in those things to never back down, never surrender as long as our fellow humans need our help. Continue reading “The Battle of Hogwarts”

Bill Nye Saves the World

I had heard a while ago that Bill Nye was going to be starring in a new Netflix series, but honestly, there’s so much going on in entertainment these days and in my life in general that I had pretty much forgotten about it. Then, on Sunday morning, Jeremy said, “Hey do you want to watch Bill Nye’s new Netflix series?” And, of course, I said, “Sure!”

When I was in elementary school, I watched PBS shows pretty much from the time I got home from school until the time dinner was ready, which usually coincided with the start of the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour and the end of more interesting shows such as Wishbone, Where In the World is Carmen San Diego?, and, of course, Bill Nye the Science Guy. IMDB says that the original Bill Nye show started in 1993, when I would have been in preschool, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t start airing on my local PBS station until I was in first or second grade. Continue reading “Bill Nye Saves the World”