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#Ferguson, Part Two

I’m finding it hard to think about anything else but the goings on in Ferguson, Missouri.

A friend posted on Facebook yesterday that his observation was that his conservative friends seem to be siding with the police, and his liberal friends seem to be siding with the victim and his family. That seems an accurate assessment of my Facebook and Twitter feeds as well.

I have little patience with the oversimplification of any issue to the point that it divides on party lines. I don’t blame anyone in particular (except maybe the general state of our country only having two major parties so maybe we should change that). I do uphold that justice should not be a liberal or conservative thing.  It should be an everyone thing.

When even the most conservative reports are indicating that the officer in question shot an unarmed man, I’m not sure how one spins that to make it debatable.  I’m not sure how a person says, “He shot him, even though he wasn’t armed, but…” There’s no “but” there.  I want to shake everyone who is trying to do so and yell, “What if that unarmed man were your son? What if it happened in your neighborhood?”

This may be cheesy, but I keep seeing Matthew McConaughey at the end of A Time To Kill as he described the brutalization of the defendant’s daughter, asking the jury to picture what happened to her. He ended his argument with, “Now imagine she’s white.”

Imagine Mike Brown was white.

But that’s just another problem.

Should we have to imagine that shooting an unarmed man – regardless of who he is or what he has done – is within a different demographic to be appalled by the event? Should his skin have to look more like mine, or his voice sound like my voice, or his address be next door to mine, in order for me to demand that his death be investigated and the officer be brought to trial?

The answer is no – hell, no – just in case you were confused by my phrasing it as a question.

I’m not suggesting that we convict without all the facts. I’m not suggesting that we blindly believe everything we hear (although I am personally inclined to believe people who are in Ferguson, taking pictures with their camera phones, posting firsthand accounts without having to run it through the filter of it being their job, which automatically spins it one way or another).  I’m not suggesting that we deprive the officer of due process (even though I understand the temptation to do so, as that’s exactly what he did to Mike Brown, according to even the most conservative reports of the event).

I am suggesting that we pay attention – that we never stop paying attention.

I suggest that we read things like this, even if they make us uncomfortable.

I am suggesting that we support people who have cause to press charges and people who have injustices to fight.

I am suggesting that we support them publicly by saying that we support them.  

I am suggesting that we then put our money where our mouths are and support them financially so that justice can be for everyone, not just the people rich enough to buy it. Don’t know where to donate? Let me help you – The Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, and the NAACP.

I am suggesting that injustice is an everyone problem and that we should act like it is.

#Ferguson

It might be quiet here for a few days. I am watching what’s happening in Ferguson (yes, I’m even following hashtags on Facebook and Twitter – it seems I don’t hate hashtags this week). I don’t know what is going on, but I do know that unless all of us are equal, none of us are free.

Lord, have mercy.

Badass Boots

My style ebbs and flows. I go through phases where everything is loose and flowing (usually a winter phase). I go through phases where I want to dress like Cam on Bones (in fact, I found a fantastic dress a couple of weeks ago, so I feel that phase coming on again soon). Once, a friend said to me, “You dress like a cartoon character,” so apparently, there’s that phase, too.

But the one constant in my closet – the item that goes with every phase – black knee-high boots.

Boots Crossed

I am fond of the knee-high boot. I have had white ones (these will probably be the shoes I wear in my wedding), red ones, brown ones, and even green vinyl ones (I needed them for a Poison Ivy costume.  NEEDED.). But for the last twenty years, I have always had at least one pair of black boots.

Boots and Lace

They are practical. They go with everything. They give an edge to lace and velvet. They dress up a casual outfit while still providing some arch support. They make a dressy ensemble a little funkier.

And let’s just say it – these boots make me look like a badass.

I didn’t fully understand the power of the boot until I was old enough to go clubbing. I tried at first to go the sexy, strappy sandal route.  They looked great….at the beginning of the night. By the end of the night, my feet were angry. Now, I love me a strappy sandal, but unless they are specifically built for dancing (e.g., tango shoes, which is another post altogether), they are best suited for sitting still and looking pretty. As I’ve never had much interest in being an ornament, I needed a new footwear choice.

Enter the knee-high boot.

It is difficult to be a wallflower when you’re standing in fourteen inches of leather. It kinda makes me stand out. And I like it.

These boots are empowering.  Unlike the majority of shoes made for women, they’re functional.  I can dance in them easily without my feet getting tired. If necessary, I could run in them. And they’re sturdy enough that they could do some damage if I were in a situation where I needed to take out the knee of an attacker. I hope I never have to do so, but if such a situation presents itself, my boots and I are ready.

Boot Reflected

I’m writing 31 Days of Personal Beauty, even if it takes me until October to finish it.

At The Club

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On Sunday night, the club I used to frequent had its 20th anniversary party.

I missed going because my car decided to quit and I had to bring my mother’s car back with me, and Mama’s car doesn’t go to the club. 

But car issues can’t stop my nostalgia. 

Margat and I used to be regulars at the Lizard Lounge’s goth night.  It’s called The Church.  When we first started going, I experienced Good Baptist Girl Guilt from attending a place that clearly was subverting the term “church” in less-than-holy ways. But that didn’t stop me.  

Also, I got over that guilt pretty quickly because:

  1. Um…they kind of have a point. And I appreciate that they’re upfront about it.
  2. Good bartenders.  Goooood bartenders.  
  3. The Church creates an atmosphere that recognizes and respects beauty.

I feel beautiful there.

I wear the lipstick that I like, which is darker than beauty professionals have decreed that I *should* wear. I wear black eyeliner, even though I have been told that I really *should* wear brown. I wear dresses that are more sheer than they *should* be, as well as skirts and corsets that are more revealing than they *should* be. I often wear things that don’t compliment (read: cover up…because as it turns out, they compliment it just fine) my body type. Sometimes I wear bright colors; most of the time I go in all black, even though I’ve been told my skin is too pale to wear all black. When I go to the club, I actually dress the way I feel most beautiful, not the way I’ve been informed that beauty is supposed to look. And unlike every other place in my life, The Church recognizes it and celebrates it as beauty, too.

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At The Church, I dance.  I love to dance. I love the way my body moves. And it doesn’t really matter how you dance there.  You can dance gothic. You can swing dance to Concrete Blonde with your roommate. You can tango. You can simply bounce in time to the music (or not…whatever). All (well, most…see below) expression is welcome.

My club experience outside The Church has not been a positive one. I can’t think of a single such outing that did not involve someone coming up to me on the dance floor and grinding on me without my permission, or groping me while we’re waiting at the bar (also without my permission), or if he did bother to ask my permission, yelling at me or belittling me when I had the audacity to say no. As if a total stranger has any business being up in my business. As if I owed them something just by daring to exist within their field of vision.

The unspoken rule at most clubs is that you have to make a choice – be seen or be safe.

That doesn’t fly at The Church. 

The sign by the front door says, “Enter without prejudice,” and they mean it. I’ve seen bouncers escort people out because they were being disrespectful of someone’s apparel or lifestyle. I’ve had a bouncer hover near me when a guy wasn’t hearing the no as quickly as he could have, just in case I needed him to intervene.  That same bouncer asked me after the guy finally did go away if everything was okay, making sure I still felt safe being there. As a result, there is an atmosphere of acceptance and comfort there that I just don’t get other places. When respect is the expectation of an establishment, it is often the outcome.

And it’s beautiful.

I’m woefully behind on writing about personal beauty for 31 Days.

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.” – Emerson

I am playing catch-up with my 31 Days of Beauty posts.  Sunday was supposed to be Day Three and the third installment of my Emerson inspiration.  Then my car decided to freak out and stop working on my drive back to Denton.

I don’t even have a picture.

I suppose it would have been very easy to grab a selfie in the wind (because West Texas…and trucks speeding by at 75 miles an hour WITHOUT GETTING IN THE OPPOSITE LANE) while I was waiting on Dad to come rescue me. But I was not feeling beautiful.  I was feeling annoyed and stranded. Also, after the car completely shut down, the air conditioner didn’t work so well, so I ventured into the grass on the side of the road, and most of my attention was focused on looking our for rattlesnakes (because West Texas.  The struggle is real.).

Suffice it to say that I did not get a picture in time for this post.

I am actually pretty surprised that I don’t have a picture of me with my hair all wild and swarmy around my head in the wind.  I love that. My love of strong breezes comes from growing up on the farm, where the land is so flat you can actually see the sides of the roads meet at the horizon in the distance. Mesquite trees (bushes – let’s be real) are no match for that wind. There’s nothing to stand in its way. Think Chicago – only not knife-like and stabby in its frozenness. Imagine warm gusts whipping around your body, throwing hair, clothes – basically anything not pasted down (and even some things that were) – into a frenzy.

And yet you stand. Embracing the wind but withstanding it as well. Strong.  Grounded.

Beautiful.

Drink it in. Drink the wild air.

I’m writing about personal beauty for 31 Days.

Story 101

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“The delights of the poet as I jotted them down turned out to be light, solitude, the natural world, love, time, creation itself. Suddenly after months of depression I am fully alive in all these areas, and awake.” – May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude

The 2014 winter session was my first time to take Story 101.  In our first meeting, Elora asked us to take a few minutes to write down why we were there. Why were we taking the course?  What did we need? What did we expect to get out of it?

I wrote this:

Last year, I decided (finally admitted) that writing was what I wanted to do. What I was afraid to do. What failing at would break my heart more than any other possible failure. What I must do. This course is my leaping off point to make it an intentional part of my schedule instead of the whenever-I-get-around-to-it part of the schedule that it has been. I need this because I have two other jobs, so if something isn’t planned with a specific time attached to it, it usually doesn’t happen, no matter how much my soul needs it.

By the end of the course, this goal was realized. If that was all that I’d gotten out of Story 101, it would have been enough.  I would have been satisfied that I had gotten my money’s worth. 

A few weeks into the course, however, I discovered another reason that I was there – a reason that I never would have thought to make into a goal. You see, everyone who takes Story 101 probably has their favorite week(s). Some people really love the week on memoir, some soak up all the information on marketing yourself as a writer without losing your soul that they can, and some love discovering new modes of expression that they had not used before.

I’m the weirdo whose favorite week is the week of silence.

I have always required a relatively large measure of solitude in order to function as a proper human. I have also always harbored a relatively large measure of guilt for doing so. I have sometimes felt and have been accused of using it as an excuse to waste time. I have been expected to justify it to others and have tried in vain to do so. I have felt selfish. I have felt that, no matter how much time I tried to make for friends and family, that it was never quite enough.

Then, per Elora’s suggestion, I turned off the television and the Internet while I was home.  I wrote for an hour a day. I spent twenty minutes a day just sitting. I went on walks. I read May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude wherein one of my favorite poets wrote an ode to a lifestyle of solitude, describing it as the reason she was able to give so much beauty to the world.  

And my thoughts began to rewrite themselves.  

What felt selfish was now restorative. What felt like an excuse became a reason. What felt indulgent still felt indulgent, but in the best possible and most productive way.

What felt like not enough was suddenly rich and abundant.

I still have some of those doubts and feelings – old habits die hard. But now when they rear their wagging heads, I have ammunition against them, and I got it from Story 101.

There are many reasons that people take this course, and this fall is your last chance to take it live. Follow my affiliate link to the Story 101 syllabus, and you just might find your reason(s) lurking there.

Swim the Sea

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.” – Emerson

When I was a child, my mother insisted that we learn to swim.  It was mostly for safety – one of those “on account-a you never know” things. But I really took to it.  We didn’t live anywhere near the ocean, and lakes were for fishing, but I spent a large percentage of the summer in the swimming pool.

I love the water. In the water, I feel graceful.  In fact, the water is the only place I feel graceful. Once I’m in the water, I feel beautiful.

It’s the whole getting-to-the-water thing that isn’t my favorite. Being that exposed in public is not something that I enjoy.

I am sure it has a little to do with my weight.  When I was swimming (and dancing…and running…), I was smaller, and it was easy to find a swimsuit that didn’t look terrible on me. But even then, I would dash to the side of the pool, still in my t-shirt or with my towel wrapped around me, and then shed it seconds before I dove in.

I was just in a hurry to get to the place where I felt pretty, and I didn’t want any unnecessary, preliminary attention to mar the experience.

The water was freedom.

I swam all through high school.  If my school had had a swim team, I would have wanted to be on it and might have been interested in something athletic beyond junior high track. I trained to be lifeguard but never passed the timed test.  I probably could have passed it once they took the timed test out of it, but if I were drowning, I’d want to know that the person charged with rescuing me could get their ass there in a hurry, so I declined the offer to retake it.

I haven’t been in a pool in a few years.  I’m not even sure that my swimsuit fits now.

It might be time to remedy that.

I’m writing about personal beauty for 31 days.

 

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