19 December 2008

And Me without a Size 10 to Hurl

I have to admit that there have been times when I have been perturbed enough at our current President to hurl a shoe at him, but I have enough sense and self-preservation smarts not to do it. I mean, he is a world political figure and, more importantly, heavily guarded by people who would gladly give or take a bullet for him. So what made this Iraqi reporter think he could have a hissy fit in the presence of the President of the United States and get away with it? He's lucky the secret service men didn't take him out right then and there. He could have been throwing a shoe bomb at President Bush, for all anyone knew. Apparently that did occur to someone at some point, since the shoes were allegedly destroyed while testing them for chemicals. Personally I think the Bush Administration had them destroyed because it didn't want to be embarrassed by the amount of money the reporter might have raised by auctioning off those shoes on eBay. He could have easily retired early or at least gotten enough money to buy a small army to fight back against the schoolyard bully.

That's how that whole scene plays out to me, like a skinny little nine-year-old getting mad at the bully and his gang who keeps stealing his lunch money. I'm not saying the skinny kid doesn't have just cause to want to throw a shoe at his enemy, but I don't see what he hoped to gain by actually doing it. He'll be lucky if he gets off with just losing his job and press privileges. Of course he's become a folk hero amongst some of our enemies for that supremely childish act of rebellion. So if he manages to escape serious prison time, or a quiet death that appears to be an unfortunate accident, he may be able to write a book about his brave exploits and make it to the New York Times bestseller list. That's exactly the kind of stunt that's likely to end that way. But frankly, I don't think the reporter planned to do what he did. I just think his outrage at the current state of affairs got the best of him and he did what any unthinking human would do--he threw a temper tantrum, and that temper tantrum may very well land him in prison for a very long time.

If he gets off too lightly, for whatever reason, how many more of us are going to start carrying spare shoes to throw at unwitting political figures? I'm already thinking that stilettoes might be more effective. The scary thing is that the actions of a lone reporter is sparking a whole new craze in USA-hating countries. Heck, they may decide that it's noble and brave to hurl shoes at any American, and I really take issue with being blamed for the actions of an administration I very definitely did not even pretend to have voted into office. However, if they're going to start throwing shoes, at least throw some sensible shoes my way. Oh, I'm sorry. That's old school lesbian. Since the advent of the L-Word, I guess I should be requesting some expensive Italian pumps or maybe the stilettos after all. I'll just have to make sure I dodge as well as W or those stilettos might leave a mark. Personally, I think I'll stick to my non-leather Birkenstocks. Size 39 R, please.

Just in case you're living in a tent with no television or newspaper and have no idea what I'm talking about, I've included a few links to bring enlightenment to you.





10 December 2008

Just When You Thought it was Safe to Return to the Mall

We recently had a fatal shooting at a mall in the Seattle area. Truth be known, I worked at this very mall for about ten years, having left there this past summer only because the company for which I worked fifteen years decided to close our store location. This had nothing to do with the current economic situation. This was a matter of one company doing a non-hostile takeover after a merger several years ago. Turns out, it does feel rather hostile, after all, to the thousands of people left without jobs, once they did away with our executives and office staff and started closing all the existing store locations they viewed as superfluous. It'd be different if the company that took over was doing well, but they are not. They took over a company that has been around since before the Great Depression and has weathered many an economic storm and still remained profitable. The same thing could not be said of the parent company, who is becoming increasingly endebted to an Australian company that keeps bailing them out. Eventually, no doubt, when you go into their stores, they'll be greeting you thus: "G'day, mates."

All that aside, the shooting at this mall at the south end of Seattle, was gang-related and had nothing to do with corporate takeovers. It involved underage teens shooting underage teens. Two male teens were shot. One died; the other is still recovering from his gunshot wound. The shooter has been apprehended and has pleaded "not guilty," of course. After the shooting, the police had to put the mall into a state of lockdown and search the entire mall area, looking for anyone connected to the shooting. This was on a busy Saturday just before the Thanksgiving holidays, so of course, merchants lost oodles of money and mall customers lost oodles of confidence in the mall's security. But short of having metal detectors going into the malls, how is anybody supposed to prevent something like that from happening? It doesn't lead to a safe feeling.

Earlier this year, the mall went through something similar. The main difference is that no one died. I was working the night of that shooting and subsequent lockdown. I was the manager in charge and had to huddle a couple dozen captive customers in my store for four hours while we waited for the police to search the mall for the shooter. It's a big mall. Thank goodness we had a bathroom in our store. Not all of the stores do. It was nearly one in the morning before I was able to get in my car and begin the hour-long drive home to the safety of my house on the Kitsap Peninsula. When I got home, I immediately got online and sent a quick email to my mother. I didn't say anything about the shooting. I just wanted her to hear from me at a time that was clearly after the shooting incident. That way if she heard about it on the news, which wasn't likely since she lives on the opposite side of the country, she would know at least that I was alive. If she didn't hear about it on the news, I wasn't going to tell her about it and make her worry. I did finally tell her about it after I was no longer working there.

All this drama can't compare to a situation that occurred this week in a mall in Bangladesh. It seems that a bull got loose and went storming through the mall, wreaking general havoc amongst shoppers and causing damage to shops. No one was injured fortunately. Ahem. They do live in a different world over there, do they not? I mean, I've had plenty of experience with service dogs in my store, but never a service bull. As it turns out, it was not a service bull at all. Or maybe it was performing the ultimate act of service. It was on its way to be slaughtered to provide meat for the poor. Maybe it had gotten wind of its fate so it went on one last shopping rampage. Maybe it had simply heard about the sales. I don't know why it charged on the mall, but what truly puzzles me is how it charged the mall at all. Is this an outdoor mall, or did someone hold the door open for it? The article I read said that it was a "posh shopping mall" where this happened. I guess we define posh differently over here, or we don't use the word at all, lest we want to be subject to lots of sniggering behind hands. I just don't think of cattle markets and shopping malls as subjects that belong in the same paragraph, much less the same sentence. So which is worse? To be trampled by a rogue bull? Or shot by a stray bullet from a teenage gang member's gun? Hmm. I think I'll stick to shopping online for now.

If you'd like more bull, check out the article at:

Warning: Kissing Could be Hazardous to Your Health

Nope, we're not talking about mono here, we're talking about a man in China that kissed his girl to deaf. Not death. She's still alive. However, she is going to be deaf for a couple of months, courteous of her overly exuberant kisser of a boyfriend. I am not making this up. This is one of those times when truth is way stranger than fiction. I can't even imagine what kind of kissing would cause someone's ear drum to rupture. All I can say is that the guy's mouth should be registered with authorities as a deadly weapon.

Here's a link for you to read more about the deafly kiss, lest you think I've completely lost my marbles. I'm not making this stuff up. I just happen to come across it in the news online.


This story brings to mind the lyrics of a song Faith Hill sings, "This Kiss," where she talks about a kiss being criminal. Well, this one certainly would certainly qualify.

05 December 2008

Who Thunk of That?

What's the deal with our beloved English language where a word and what would appear to be its opposite actually mean the same thing? For example, there is ravel. Then there is unravel. You would think by adding un as a prefix to the word that it would negate the root word's meaning. When the scarf you're knitting begins to ravel, it means that it is coming undone. When your knitting begins to unravel, it SHOULD mean that it is somehow magically coming back together, but oh no, it's not so. There's just more of it coming undone. It's like the Law of Entropy on steriods. In this case, you really are damned if you do and damned if you don't. One way or the other, you're going to end up with a pile of yarn and no scarf. Ravel and unravel mean exactly the same thing.

How about sever and dissever? Should you ever accidentally sever your finger, not only do you want to get to the hospital quickly with your injured hand and the severed finger, you also want to make sure that instead of instructing the hospital staff to dissever your finger, you make sure they know that you want them to sew the already severed finger back on. Otherwise you might end up with more than one missing digit. While that may be a little far fetched, it does make you scratch your head and say, "What the ...?"

The same is true with flammable and inflammable. In this case, the confusion is not merely annoying or uncomfortable, it could be downright dangerous and potentially deadly. If a material is flammable, you definitely want to take precautions and keep it away from a source of heat. Just make sure you don't fall into the word trick of thinking that a material labelled inflammable means that it won't catch fire. Otherwise your world might go up in smoke because the words mean exactly the same thing. Fortunately the word inflammable has become mostly obsolete, which I suspect had to do with the internal infernal conflict of the words in question. Still it makes you stop and wonder, "Who thunk of that?"

25 November 2008

This Teddy Bear has Teeth

Anybody read the ridiculous story about the guy who climbed into the panda zoo area? I know it sounds like the opening line to a really stupid bar joke, but it's for real.

Okay, so there's this guy in China who climbs into the panda zoo area...

What do you think happens? No, he doesn't die from that supreme act of silliness, but he also doesn't get the warm and fuzzy cuddles he was hoping for apparently. Instead he scares the crap out of a huge being with teeth. Granted they are the grinding and chewing sort of teeth rather than the tearing and ripping kind, but they do the job pretty well on bamboo stalks. According to one reference I checked, a giant panda can consume over 3500 stalks of bamboo in a day. Now that's a lot of chewing and grinding. It's the kind of chewing this one goofy young man was subjected to during his not-too-swift, nearly worthy of a Darwin Award, maneuver. The panda defended himself against the intruder by chewing on his arms and legs. Heck, he might have just thought they were a new kind of bamboo.

Anyway, that fool survived his trip inside bear habitat, but a drunk guy in the Ukraine this past summer wasn't so fortunate. He ended up being mauled to death by two brown bears when he fell into their pit while trying to get his picture taken near them. Now there's something wrong with this story on so many levels. To begin with, why is the guy drunk at the zoo? Do they serve alcohol at the zoo in the Ukraine or did he smuggle it in with him? Either way, getting drunk and then trying to get chummy with brown bears, whose teeth are the ripping and tearing sort, is not the world's smartest move. I have to wonder if he has been nominated for a Darwin Award yet.

Sometimes the human brain is a wonder to behold. And then stories like these surface. Makes you wonder.

Here are links to both stories in case you're curious.



24 November 2008

Simply Irresistible

Everyone once in a while I come across a quote by some famous person that moves me deeply in some way. Sometimes it's poignant, sometimes it sad, and occasionally it's a little shocking or funny. The quote I share with you today is one of the latter. They are the words of one of America's most beloved and influential First Ladies who, in case you're not up on your American history, quite possibly had a lesbian relationship with her long-time friend and companion, Lorena Hickok, known as "Hick." Only a few of the many letters written by Eleanor Roosevelt to Hick survived. They were preserved and published a few years ago. Many other letters, however, were burned by Hickok at the passing of the First Lady in 1962. The ones that survived certainly imply intimacy and affection between the two women.

Hickok was a well-known lesbian in her day. Apparently she wore masculine attire and drank scotch, which may seem a little tame in today's world, but would have tended to make her more than a little bit notorious in the 1930s. She also smoked cigars and played poker with the other reporters. She was one of the first female reporters in America. She covered the First Lady on behalf of the Associated Press until she was forced to resign because her relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt "compromised her journalistic integrity."1 Hickok gave Eleanor a sapphire ring, which she wore on Inauguration Day in 1933. Later Hick moved into the White House and went to work for the Democratic National Convention.

While people try hard to deny that this relationship was lesbian in nature, you have to do more than your fair share of sticking your head in the sand to deny it successfully. One line quoted from an extant letter from Eleanor to Lorena reads, "I want to put my arms around you & kiss you at the corner of your mouth."2 I don't know about you, but I rather doubt that a woman who didn't love another woman romantically would write a line like that in a private letter, particularly when the recipient was a known lesbian. One wonders what might have been revealed in the letters Hickok later burned. I, for one, am glad that Hick protected Roosevelt's private thoughts and words, given the homophobic atmosphere that prevaded the country at the time of her passing, which still lingers in the political arena today.

All that aside, I share with you some of Eleanor Roosevelt's more public thoughts and words. They certainly allow a glimpse into the lively internal world of this First Lady:

"I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalog: 'No good in a bed, but fine against a wall.' -- Eleanor Roosevelt

1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A493535
2. Doris Faber, The Life of Lorena Hickok: E.R.'s Friend, New York: William Morrow, 1980, page 111.

10 November 2008

One Small Step

9:51 PM PDT, July 12, 2008, updated at 7:23 PM PDT, July 30, 2008
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step."

This quote is from the Tao Te Ching, a book I find most helpful on my own spiritual path. Rarely are we required to drop everything and jet off to the other side of the world. Yes, it does happen on occasion, but most often we get some warning and preparation time. But every journey we take, including a sudden, unexpected one, begins by taking one small step in the direction of the door. There is at some point, an agreement made to undertake life's journeys--both the mundane ones as well as the whirlwind tours of the entire globe. Most often we have multiple opportunities to change the journey, to get off the path we're on and onto another. Every bit of progress we make along life's path is made in small increments. Even if you tend to jog or sprint toward your goals in life, each footfall comes in increments of one step. In the end, it results in a journey from one place to another, from where you are to where you end up. Maybe we make it to the end of the journey and find that we are exactly where we wanted to go in the first place. Sometimes we end up somewhere entirely different, yet all along the way, the small incremental steps we made led us to our ultimate destination, wherever that ended up to be.

Where you end up is not nearly as important as acknowledging that all along the way, you made choices that led you to this place rather than another place. Wherever you do end up is not necessarily where you have to stay, since in each moment we can choose to take another step in a different direction, down an alternative pathway. If you don't see a pathway open to you that you like, you can always choose to forge a new trail. That's what pioneers do. Anyone can become a pioneer. You just have to be brave enough to take one step and then another and then another.

Tired of Kissing Jessica Stein?

Me too. I just watched that movie again, and it reminded me of what I never want to do again. It seems that straight, bi-curious, and sometimes conflicted and/or closeted women are attracted to me. Why? I don't know. Perhaps because I'm out and confident. A lot of women are drawn to strong women because it's part of themselves they want to affirm. Perhaps it's because I don't hang around with lesbians exclusively. Maybe that's a sign that I should. But I love diversity. I love people. I don't want someone's sexual orientation or even gender to decide whether or not I can be friends with them.

Even though I live near Seattle, I don't take part in the LGBT community really. I could say that it's because I don't have time, but the truth is that I'm mostly a homebody, which does make it a little harder to meet new women, women who love women, that is. I mean, I do meet them. I even found this one fast food restaurant near where I work, which has seriously skewed the Kinsey scale for lesbian representation in the general populace. There must be a fourth to a third of the staff there who are lesbian. I'm not sure how that happened except that maybe it was the domino effect. Let one lesbian in and next thing you know, that one will get a lesbian friend a job there too, and on it goes. Now all I have to do is find a few more places like that to haunt and I'll know half the lesbians in King County.

But seriously, other than on the internet, how do you find someone when you don't get out there where other lesbians hang out? I don't really drink, and I don't smoke. Vegetarians don't blend well at barbecues. Maybe I should get involved with another conservative Christian church. God knows I saw a lot of action there. Of course, that brings me back around to my original point. I'm tired of kissing Jessica Stein. I don't want to have to help yet another woman come out to herself, or worse yet, come out and watch her dive back in and deny that she was ever out there in the first place. That's a priceless experience. Moments like that make you wonder if you were imagining things or just acting out some totally self-destructive behavior.

I have had some relationships that turned out better. One was even with a woman who had originally thought that she was straight. She had even been married and had children. Only it turned out that she definitely is lesbian. Still is, after all these years. But too many times, women who have never been with women can't handle it once it happens. There are too many emotions and issues to deal with all at once. I feel empathy for them because it's not easy coming out at any age, and the older you get, the harder it is, and the older you are, the greater the chances that you have more cultural conditioning to unload.

But enough is enough. It's time to meet an available woman who loves women and isn't afraid to embrace that and admit it. I've spent years trying to get over the one who made a dive back into the closet not once, not twice, but three times. She deserves an Olympic medal for executing a triple twist closet dive, but now it's time to move on to lavender pastures. Not mauve, not lilac, not periwinkle. It's time to find a card-carrying member of the Lavender Menace who will watch movies and go for walks on the beach with me. Someone whose closet is filled only with clothes. Someone who isn't another Jessica Stein, just looking for a best friend.