17 November 2006

ignorance

My favorite bumpersticker from yesterday's driving, with a twin on the left bumper that read "normal is relative" ... you may want to click on the image to be able to read the text.

What's the bigger point here?

Any organization who will work tirelessly on behalf of my rights gets the big ol thumbs-up from me.

It's just that ... well. Um. Well. Any organization who will work tirelessly on behalf of my rights but somehow make me feel like a contestant for title of biggest losingest loser ever for trying to help them help me? It makes me wonder if those sweet idealistic workers could use a reality break. Or a reality check-in. Or a wake-up slap. But something, definitely something.

A Fair Wisconsin should not make a member of its population feel like a dopey schmuck for being the unemployed disabled economically challenged woman hidden inside the lesbian Holly Near concert-goer she fronts up as.

Last night I was lucky enough to attend the Holly Near concert in Madison. I would not have been able to attend had I been responsible for paying for the tickets, I'll say that here and now. Oh crap. Okay, I'll stop here and just say this: I don't like talking about the reality of me often or much because that's just not very interesting to me. It's painful and it sucks ass a good portion of the time. But it also makes a difference when I'm sharing a story such as the one I'm about to convey so kick your shoes off and have a gander (no staring though please. or direct eye contact, no looking the wildlife directly in the eye)...

I'm a single mom, a condo owner for 10+ years who was able to buy my home through Habitat for Humanity, who is responsible for coming up with my mortgage payment and monthy condo dues. Because I am disabled I have not worked for over four years. I receive a monthly SSDI check and I am not currently working (though change is coming down the pike, but for now let's call it 'not officially working').

The ugly simplistic way to slap a lable on me and mine is to call me what I am: POOR.

I'm probably a microcosm of many better-financed households in that I have to really argue myself into or out of a "want" by a careful comparison of needs. The microcosm part is that my income doesn't substantiate a particularly long list of wants before I've caught myself laughing -at me, always at me. Mostly I laugh about how ridiculously now-and-wow I must fancy myself if I think I HAVE HAVE HAVE HAVE to have Tivo or cable or an MP3 player (but wow, I'd sure love an iPod, who wouldn't?!).

In fact, I just had that argument with myself (I won!) about whether to pay the gas & electric bill or to make a donation to Tret Fure's fundraiser to help finish Wendy Schneider's documentary, CUT, which addresses teens and self-injury. I totally picked that one right. (I'm digressing again, aren't I?)

But luck and the fates do intervene, and hot dog! - my gal has two complimentary tickets to a Holly Near concert and we're so there!

I wish I wouldn't have felt the need to be so contrary, so assertive with my need to be NOTMYMOTHER during my earlier years. Of all the ironies, Holly Near was one of my mother's favorite musicians so I, of course, had to loathe her. I had to be dispassionate about Holly Near: "Yeah whatever. No, I don't really care about her activism or politics or whatever other magical stuff she can do because as long as my mother is going to listen to Holly CDs every Saturday morning for her "motivational music", I got no opinion about her and even less interest in learning more".

KD's first Holly Near experience was over 20 years ago, when she was just a shy baby lesbian coming out of her closet and she's reportedly attended many concerts in the years since, but the concert last night was my maiden voyage into the Holly Near experience. She's good. She's very very very good. I'm still hung up on that whole 'how can I like her if my weird mother likes her?' thing, but my my my she's good.

By that part of the concert referred to as intermission (or 'halftime', by my Packer-loving friends) I had been thinking for some time about what I have done to take a political stake in my own future and the future for the three generations who will exist beyond me and as honestly worn-down tired as I really truly do feel most of the time, I figured aw hell, I can try one more thing. Holly makes it sound like fun, dammit. I blame her. She made me feel encouraged, supported, activated!

So while she led us up one song about civil rights and down another no more war lane I decided a few things: I cannot give more of my time because so little of it exists to be given right now (another post for another time, perhaps. Just trust me for now, okay?) but I decided I could do one more very painless action to encourage my friends and neighbors who don't already have some common sense or a sense of what's going on around us and why their vote will be very important, who might need one little nudge to be swayed, I could do that one thing.

I decided I could put up a little yard sign.

At intermission I told KD I'd be right back, then I headed out in the slow churning of energized bunnies talking and laughing and sharing plans and sharing tactics on our collective way to the lobby.

I located the table that had Fair Wisconsin yard signs and waited my turn to speak with the young man seated to the side. I cannot recall the name of the organization who 'owned' the table, but that table also held some peace & justice yard signs and a whole bunch of other reading materials.

The person in front of me finishes her business and now it's my turn:

me: Hi there! I'd like to help and the way I could help is by putting up a yard sign - I mean, if that would help I'd be glad to do it for you.

he (pulling a clipboard around for me to see): Ah, well! We're really trying to get people to sign up for shifts so they can...

[I cut him off mid-sentence. I realize this is not polite in conversational terms, but I don't want the poor fella to waste his breath when I have very specifically stated my very specific offer]

me: No. Nope nope nope. I will not sign up for a shift. Let me try again. What I meant to say was: I'd like to help and the way I could help is by putting up a yard sign - I mean, if that would help I'd be glad to do it for you.

he (pulling around another information clipboard, different flavor): Oh, okay. Well, they're asking that people make a $5 donation for each sign.

me (now looking at him with the glint of You're Not Hearing Me in my eye): What. I. Meant. To. Say. Was This: I have no money to give you for a sign. But I'd like. to help. and the way. I could help. Is. By Putting UP. a Yard Sign. - I mean,. If THAT. WOULD. HELP. I'D. BE GLAD. TO DO IT. FOR YOU.

he (seemingly unsure of what to say): mmmm, go ahead and take one.




==postscript==
I can't express how disappointed I was, and still am, by the voters in all but two counties in the state of Wisconsin. FairWisconsin raised more funds and awareness than I think they ever expected, but it wasn't enough to knock the marriage amendment referendum outta the park.

I have been wavering on whether or not to post this entry, in part, because FairWisconsin did what seemed impossible a year ago and it's just not nice to knock them when they're down. There's a lot to be said for the great stuff that results from FW's efforts. I've decided to post the entry because the accidental smalling-down of one of the people meant to benefit from their campaign IS important, and that old Biblical lesson about caring for one of the flock makes a certain amount of sense, even in this non-Biblical setting.

I have not taken down my yard sign yet, nor do I intend to until after the snow falls steadily. Call it grieving, call it whatever you want -- I worked for that sign and it's not leaving until I'm good and ready to let it go.

15 November 2006

if wishes were horses




“My wish isn't to mean everything to everyone but something to someone.”

tickled pink


What a treat to snap the photo for the owner of one of my favorite stores in the Madison area.

Darin and his haa-chaa-chaa manager stock the place with so much cool kitsch that it took me nearly an hour after I had shot their pictures to eyeball everything I wanted to look at (and finger handle nearly as much).

12 November 2006

gratitude



The same pain that can blemish our personality
can act as a creative force,
burnishing it into an object of delight.
--Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, Alchemical Wisdom



At times our own light goes out and is
rekindled by a spark from another person.
Each of us has cause to think
with deep gratitude
of those who have lighted the flame within us.
--Albert Schweitzer




I have never met a person whose greatest need was
anything other than real, unconditional love. You
can find it in a simple act of kindness toward
somone who needs help. There is no mistaking
love. You feel it in your heart. It is the
common fiber of life, the flame that heals our
soul, energizes our spirit and supplies passion to
our lives. It is our connection to God and to
each other.
--Elisabeth Kubler-Ross




On this day I recognize the beginning of my 40th year and I point my mind with gratitude toward my many blessings, including those that come cloaked in heavy veils of trouble, fear or sorrow and those that look nothing like the opportunity they may be.

So shall they continue to bless me, so shall I continue to give thanks.

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