Saturday, January 18, 2020

Time for the "Talk"

For the better part of my professional life I tried to mentor both boys and girls with an emphasis on boys as they were the largest portion of discipline problems so I tried varying techniques, from giving them classroom management duties, to simply sharing food or just talking.  The just talking part truly works as they have few women they talk to on a simple social basis that is not connected to family or duty.  I in turn met amazing young men whom I hope have become amazing older men.  In turn I tried to be open to young girls about issues other than those that seem to dominate dialogues with female teachers and female students - part lecture, part mentor - it is not an easy role with girls at that 13-18 mark and they are in fact by far more challenging to connect to than their male peers.  That may be me as I gravitate to men as friends and as I am really in the asexual category - the Jo March type if one must (although we know that Alcott was trying to write about a woman who was not into men at all and may have found more companionship with another women, she was like her doppelgänger, a spinster.)

So when you are not married, not identifying with a sexual group and seem to travel alone no one know what to do with you and the past three years in Nashville really tested the mettle on what that meant to be identified only by one's vagina or by one's checkbook.  I guess I am more Aunt March than Jo in that respect but hey Meryl Streep bitches!

As  a woman of "a certain age," a "spinster" an "old maid" I find it hard to find the tribe that accepts the "lone woman." Funny we are still suspect despite the fact the vagina is closed for business so what we are after exactly must be something to do with an old shoe and children or woods and candy houses.    Yes women are evil, cunning, duplicitous and we are after youth and vitality so watch out Dorothy or a house will fall on your head.  Or worse we are just ignored entirely.

Funny that I am not brain dead and have depth and wealth of experience that has nothing to do with my checkbook as the power of observation and history is how we have the present but hey I live very much in the now with my eyes on the road ahead and a glance in the rear view mirror to remind me where I just was is worth a road trip if so inclined.   And I miss kids and being in school and I want to get back to Teaching albeit temporary to have those meaningful moments and exchanges that rewarded me and in turn enabled me to grow and learn even in my dotage.

We have a concierge desk here in my building and they vary in demographics the same way the city outside my door does but most are male and in my exchanges I am always amazed that age is rarely a factor in distinguishing differences among men and I realized that regardless of age, men seem to feel safer being a prototype or if one must a stereotype and it was from reading Peggy Ornstein's article in The Atlantic about her new book, Boys and Sex, that enabled the light bulb above my head to alight.

In Nashville I tried to mentor young Ethan for reasons that to this day make no sense, perfect sense and some sense when you put this entire story in perspective. The lack of meaningful work, the social isolation, the feeling I was hostage to Vanderbilt and my dental work and the process of aging without family really hit home so I make no apologies for doing right or doing anything to befriend and love this young man as one would a son.  What I did not know was that his duplicity was not about issues that I was comfortable with, sexuality, but in fact religion and faith that was ultra conservative and radical in its beliefs.  As a result a boy I loved was a boy I became afraid of.  I was afraid of the children in Nashville for not the same reason but in the same way as I have never experienced such damage and destruction that these children demonstrate in their behavior and largely due to both poverty and religion as a supposed balm to compensate for all that they lack in life.

As a result I hated every minute living there and dread going back and the snow storm enabled a 24 hour delay and I welcomed it as another opportunity to find peace and worth by just being here.   In my exchanges from my new Yoga instructor to the boys and the desk and those at my coffee shop I have a sense of positive energy and perspective that makes me relieved to know that both men and women are out there with a sense of self and a sense of community.

I am looking forward to reading Ms. Ornstein's book as I have long thought men and boys don't know women as simply women, those who are are not tied to them via the vagina through birth or sex but there to be friends, mentors, colleagues or leaders, that neither want them for monetary gain or status but as people and fellow humans on life's road.  We have done a real shitty job when it comes to equality in finding and establishing friendships across gender and age. We need a new lesson plan when it comes to teaching both genders about sex and sexuality.

One of my recent conversations with a young concierge was about sexual assault and the current crop of famous or infamous charges and trials that include R. Kelly, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Jeffrey Epstein and Michael Jackson.   In the case of the latter he feels that the boys,  now men, were lying as they did not exhibit qualities or behaviors of those who have been raped.  Well is that because men exhibit different behaviors, take on different qualities after assault or are you speaking from a place of personal experience, knowledge or is there a "type" or "way" one behaves regardless of gender after being assaulted?   He refused to believe any Michael Jackson parallels despite the fact that R. Kelly had not been convicted of assault in 2008, Jeffrey Epstein had been charged with Prostitution versus assault, Bill Cosby had been only convicted after a mistrial the first time and Weinstein has not gone to trial nor made it to court in the past and there are many others who regardless of fame have not been charged with sexual crimes as it is one area of criminal justice where we have a serious matter of failure with regards to investigation and in turn convictions. And to assume that anyone who has been assaulted acts in a "way" that would somehow be a flag or scarlet letter to let those around you know that you have been harmed is rather unfair and again marks one to be remembered for the worse thing that happened to you be you and adult or a child.  There are ways to recover not forget but live and thrive in life if the type of support and help are available and accessible in which to do so.  But as one who knows you don't recover ever and your relationships are affected but not all become hookers, drug addicts, crazy, etc.   I watched the light bulb on his head go on when he realized I might be speaking from personal experience and while I agree that we can see Michael Jackson differently we are no different than any Jury who finds those innocent who are likely guilty or more importantly those guilty who are innocent.  We have streets full of the former and jails full of the latter so the real issue is how to believe, to hear and to trust that we have all the information needed to make the right decision about an other's life even outside a court of law.

But then again some people don't want to believe regardless we have to believe "our truths" which in the ever increasing narcissism of America no one exemplifies that more than Trump; Trump is the perpetual man-child from the temper tantrums to the pouting face to the calling of names he represents all that nature versus nurture shows how a man of privilege becomes a man of denial.  From sexual assault to high crimes and misdemeanors we have what we have now and we are all now in the courtroom in which to believe or not the truths as they are presented as facts.

How we learn about ourselves, our gender, our roles in society are tied to nurture.  We have the families or more importantly the lack thereof in some cases to aid in determining our place in the larger picture.  We have stereotypes and prototypes that are models and guides in which to follow or to ignore or use to our advantage.  No two snowflakes are alike and that metaphor applies to all of us. We have a real problem in America with regards to the two most obvious factors in nature - sex and race - as they are observable and in turn we use what we see to judge and to assign, a type of conviction if you must qualities and characteristics that we have learned to apply.  It makes it easier and in turn requires less work and commitment to actually know people, learn about them, have awkward conversations, honest conversations and even fun ones as they all take work and that shit is hard!

All sex is oral. Try talking to someone you don't want to fuck with or fuck, not of the same gender, race or age or sexuality about this topic.  Bet you can't won't or don't have time.  Change that to race and it is no less awkward.  We don't like to heavy lift that is America and what makes us great.   We get others to do it for us.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Storm Coming

As I prepare for another trip to Nashville I had to laugh as it, along with the two of the other three major cities in the state - Memphis and Chattanooga - made the list of the worst run cities in America.  Shocking! No, not really.   What is truly amazing is the delusional state the residents and the pols have with regards to the city and its "desirability."  For whatever criticism residents in the tri-state area have in relation to the varying issues that in turn plague our area, I would rather live here than anywhere for the people and the place transcend all its problems by still being better than anyone could ever imagine.  They are genuine, they are real and they are proud; I cannot say the same for those of Nashville for every day another story another incident that continues to prove how they live and work dishonestly.

The place is crime filled and utterly unsafe.  There is little publicized about this as it would kill off the tourism trade for which the city relies but the place is a dump folks.  From traffic to lack of an infrastructure you would not realize how bad it is as the city continues to brag about the endless absurd development centered on the supposed Amazon campus that is coming to of course upgrade the city with high paying jobs and other bullshit that we have heard repeatedly from companies in exchange of tax incentives that never quite work out as promised.

The schools are a shambles, literally, the city run into the ground with endless issues about reconciling a budget when the State Legislature hits the first day off and running into the new year with its first bill another anti gay piece of legislation that has been kicked around the state house as long as I had lived in the area - the prevention of LGBQT families from adopting or fostering children if the agency does not approve of their "lifestyle."  What the fuck is Martha Stewart the doyenne of home lifestyle branding going to give one flying fuck over where one's dick or mouth goes? Really?

This lays in wait with the bathroom bill that has been hiding in the proverbial closet that no doubt will come again and sit next to the one that prevents couples from marrying with non-traditional officials or that Therapists can reject clients based on their sexuality so hey now that Tennessee has a Plumber as Governor, a religious right wing kook as one can imagine, who has no problems signing into laws absurd notions of block funding Medicare/Medicaid and of course vouchers for public education.  All while overlooking varying sexual and racist scandals in the legislature during his first year in office.   YEE HAW!

Is it any wonder that Microsoft canceled its second meeting with the Mayor's office regarding establishing a presence there.  They already have no income tax in Washington where they are located, have no reason to move to the red nut state for that purpose so what? They hope to find ill educated and trained workers to do shit at low pay?  And I do mean shit as we already now that Southern states are at the forefront of the Boeing crisis for their lax workforce regulations and requirements.  For the record Boeing's headquarters are out of Chicago and not Seattle but their legacy and prime manufacturing has long been in the region; However, the 737 Max (among others) was and is primarily a South Carolina project.   Right Lindsey Graham?  And its legacy is one of strum and drang.  Gosh shocking? No, not really.

My personal favorite right now is the ongoing Nissan scandal which Nashville and Tennessee takes quite pride about being the state as it is their home in North America. Well it is no surprise that the number two man in the scandal is a Tennessean.  Greed, corruption and lies are three traits that run through the area like the Cumberland, as deep and as dark as any river could be.  Lying like a river should be the new expression and since they are so religious there it may be time for God to baptism the city again as it did 10 years ago.

Lack of education, lack of support for education, training, consistent classicism and racism, religion and of course sexism and overall just plain fucking ignorance is the consistency in the South.  It would require every single generation to leave the area, find a city, get schooling, work among diverse communities and then return, begin to vote, to organize and of course demand change for this to eerie change.  Not.Going.To.Happen.

I have said that the culture there is one that took me very little time to figure out.  At first I was afraid, then I was petrified to think how I was going to live there (to paraphrase better song lyrics than I could write to describe my state of mind) and cope there for any reason let alone my dental reconstruction. When right out of the bat the Cops are sent to my door by my Dentist's office should have been a warning shot fired over the Fort that we are at war.  Instead I tried to reconcile, reconsider and compromise.  I will say that Vega has never disappointed, adjusting treatment, picking up the tabs for all the mistakes and alterations and just basically being amazing.  His interns were nowhere near as capable nor as engaged or as engaging as for they were often the part of the problem not the solution as they like the workers in the South have no ownership therefore no responsibility about their fuck ups.  It was as if I had a Boeing worker do dental implants and act as if it blowing up was just normal and shit.  Sure.

I respect my Dentist and she is a perfectionist but she is a woman in the South and Asian and that is already two strikes when dealing with the status quo.  Vanderbilt is not afraid to let anyone of another race and/or gender take a bullet when they fuck up. Ask the Nurse on trial for homicide who did nothing but give a drug she was ordered to provide.  Hell had the Waffle House shooter not finished the job, Vanderbilt did it for him.

Barely off the plane, no, not even off the plane I received the bill for my dental reconstruction contradicting the one I had, the one I had at home and informed them that I would send it to them once I got there the following day.  But in ever Gaslighting fashion (a common theme and occurrence in Nashville) I was told I was wrong, no such plan existed and so sad, too bad.  Really you could not wait until I got home to debate this?  This makes me wonder had I taken the Cops advice to find another Dentist for even he knew this was over the top.  I wonder if he was the one the day they found a car parked in the lot that looked suspicious.  That may be the time he realized his Police career was just cleaning up the shit from others mistakes?   Wear waders when you go to Nashville folks as you have shit to step over that is real deep.

Irony a storm is coming as I leave the area and perhaps that is a sign that I need to go to close out my business or simply like a storm, pass over, leave a stain and move on.   And move on I will do as each trip means closer to the end.  And from that I surely will never return.