Cracker please.

  I was just reminded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. why I never got into politics. When I was young and up through high school I had a huge boner for politics. I figured that’s how you make amazing change happen, a chance to use the power of your life for the greater good of mankind, and I also happened to be a highly opinionative, extremely loquacious smart ass who was really good at using big words accurately. But as it turns out my lexicon would end there. Politics is not for faint of heart, for people who can’t remember names, thin skinned idealists or for most decent people without a god complex and whom enjoy privacy. I was lucky for I had a choice to not dive into political turmoil, some don’t. For some the adversity is so great and the call to radical change spurs the heart so profoundly that they are given no choice but to be called to action. In the 4th grade I was convinced that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had rid the world of racism. It was as if I had seen Bambi and Old Yeller without the punch line of death by realism played out, instead fast forwarded back to happily ever after. With Vallejo, CA being an old naval town and a socio-economic trap hodge-podge of the San Francisco Bay Area I had a plethora of friends from many different backgrounds. Diversity is an interesting pot to melt in and minority ratios can turn tables in a snap.
  I looked forward to February every year, not only is it my birthday month, but we always celebrate Black History month in school. I got to make Kente cloths, sing happy birthday with Stevie Wonder to MLK Jr. and watch “Roots” a few years in a row. I was proud to be an American, I loved Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and I was proud to live in a time without Jim Crow laws, lynching, or confederates . But as it turns out, the damage was already done and still lurked all over the nation. Dr. King did not rid our great country of racism, it was broken in more ways than I even know to this day. In junior high school after watching another great civil rights leader as played by Denzel Washionton, “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us.” I felt the same, I even personalized it in class one day in class, it got weird and I was desperately trying to prove that I too was a product of slavery, as my grandma’s family came over the second ship after the Mayflower as indentured servants, and I also confused many when I would say I was related to Martin Luther, explaining Protestant Reformation makes for an interesting lunch at the cafeteria. I even started a debate in sixth, ninth, and twelfth grade when I would refuse to bubble in “white” for my “nationality” as my identifier for California state standardized b.s. testing. In senior year it cracked all kinds of racism open that I wasn’t prepared for. One girl told me that if I were to come to her house I wouldn’t even be allowed on the porch, especially if her grandma were home, she told me she had no white friends and wasn’t gonna start now. Turns out once that innocent child like utopian dust settled, I would have to spend years of my life defending the color of my skin to prove I wasn’t a white devil, slave owning, Nazi, cause it turns out it will take a few dozen or so more generations for peoples to stop projecting and repeating history. I grew up never hearing any member of my family ever use any sort of derogatory or racist terms towards another human being. I can not know the perspective of many peoples own personal struggles, I can only gain knowledge through histories and know certain my own.
  The more things fade the more things stay the same, it may just take a different form. Like a viral infection that doesn’t really go away, it just finds a good place to lie low in the shadows for abuse to the system to feed it back to life and await the day till it’s consumed all it can. Growing up a visual minority in all my classes in school I was so very confused by peoples various taste in haterade toward me, but I tried not to take it personally cause I knew even then at such an impressionable age, that this was many generations of someone else’s pain, it wasn’t something I should take to heart or ever replicate that kind of infection. All you know is what you know, and that is why I thrive when I strive to get to the root of the matter. I spent many sleepless nights time traveling, seeing things from other’s perspectives and having an innate common sense that mirrored many great leaders I learned about in school.
  Last year when some people in my life suggested I run for city office, I laughed. History is not kind to rational radical people like me. I told some close friends of mine that I was being nudged to get kicked in the head by city government and one friend remarked, “shiiiit, if you got into politics someday you’d so get assassinated.” Dr. King reminded me of that, as does Medger Evers, Harvey Milk, all the dead Kennedys. When you speak the truth and have the voice to make change they will try and get you good and silent. History is so easily corruptible these day, and that has always terrified me. I am called to action to lead by example with my own life just by living it and I see that as a triumph and luxury I am grateful to have up to this point in my life. I make it my job to make sure my son knows not only the difference between right and wrong, but also to have empathy for his fellow human beings. If equality is to ever truly exist it needs to be nurtured and cared for, just as its history must be clearly played, even the unsavory bits are not to be fast forwarded. Can’t we all just get along?

Here Comes The Sun

  As the gods would have it, I find life at times to be profoundly hysterical. That is to say I have gotten to a point where all I can do is laugh. A little daffy at times but I assure you, not yet certifiable. I’ve observed countless coincidences in my time. There are times it happens so frequently I’ve learned to ignore them, so not to appear insane. Recent example is very personal but I can’t help remark.

  I got married to my second boyfriend at the age of twenty-two. I knew I wasn’t ready and didn’t know if I ever wanted to get married ever, but he convinced me by knocking me up. He loved me a lot, but there were lots of conditions. I was young and dumb and thought I was being a responsible adult by marrying him. Well long story short, I walked down the aisle to The Beatles, “Here Comes The Sun” written by my true favorite Beatle, George Harrison. Over the last eight years I’ve heard that song a handful of times, but within the last month I’ve heard it randomly over a dozen times. It all started to happen the day before my now ex-husband got re-married. I was at Raley’s Supermarket as it poured through the ceiling speakers. Pushing my cart down the pasta aisle I immediately got a giant ear to ear grin on my face that made two people passing by smile. My smile was warm and heartfelt. I didn’t even have a fleeting moment of sadness or angst, and it made my smile that much wider. I heard it the next day on the radio in my car, and almost every consecutive day since. There once was a time after my ex and I split two years ago that I couldn’t bare hear the song, it rocked my heart and made me sad. It’s a different heart rocker now, I feel empowered. I realize the song is for me, the words are for me. “Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces. Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here”
 Some folks throughout my life have told me I epitomize sunshine and the world is brighter when I smile. I finally feel it, I finally see it. I talked to my grandma on the phone the other day, something I don’t do very often, mostly cause I hate talking on the phone. In times of uncertainty and with so much change in my life, I told her it’s been rough not having family in town. My grandma moved 600 miles away about a year and a half ago. She reminded me of something she told me twenty-two years ago. “Do you remember visiting me in the hospital when I had my brain tumor? You asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and I said I wanted the sun to come out again, I want it to feel sunny again. And you know what? It did.” My grandma has been through a lot; widowed, uterine cancer, benign brain tumor removal, breast cancer, skin cancer. My grandpa passed away when I was a year old. She told me I was her sunshine and she didn’t know what she would have done without me. I got to be her sunshine. No matter how uncertain life gets or how much thrown at us or taken out from underneath us, the sun rises everyday and keeps shining on.  “Here comes the sun, it’s alright.” Be it, brain tumor removal or extrapolated husband, once the growth is removed, life only gets sunnier if you let it. Life is strange when your stranger, so laugh it out.

A-Hole In One

  If someone tells you they’re a selfish asshole. They ain’t lying. Retreat
while you still can. That is what they call, a red flag. You may smile or
snicker as they tell you, “No, really, I am an asshole.” Is it true? Yes,
undoubtedly yes. My first high school date, my first official boyfriend, and my
ex-husband all came with a built in
warning disclaimer of the
impending assholedom I would soon suffer if I continued to dole out gobs of my adoring
attention and energy to said self-proclaimed asshole. In each of these cases of
foreshadowed asshole’dness I naively insisted to myself that most people were
assholes, what else is new? I was raised by assholes and a few of my best friends were selfish assholes.
I had no idea I had a choice not to give myself over to an asshole. What then
is my definition of asshole?  As I am
sure my mother will be asking me shorty after reading this. My mom was angry at
the world, a world that wasn’t very kind to her since birth. She has a rough
story, as does my Dad.  They were raised
by assholes. We all have our stories. My parents did their best and worked very
hard to give my brother and myself all the material things they never had. To
do that, they were workaholics. None of us had close relationships or knew each
other very well. My mom was an asshole to my Dad. My Mom was an asshole to me. I
was an asshole to my brother and in return he was an asshole to me. We were
mostly miserable. Assholism runs deep. Our corporate consumer culture in these
United States breeds selfish selfie -assholes.

   I was truly spoiled, living
the born in the eighties “American Dream.”  “Supersize Me”, got nothing on my family. It wasn’t till I was going on nineteen years old that I realized fast food and processed food was unhealthy. I figured if my parents fed it to me and it was sold on every street corner, how could it be bad for me? Why would they sell it? I was raised
up on a steady diet of corporatized sludge both mentally and physically. One of the reasons I consider my parents assholes boils down to one word, sensitive. One of my “sensitivities” was being sick most of my childhood. I got really good at being sick. I got really good at being miserable. I was in pain, I was sick. I had severe stomach pain every day. I spent a lot of time in bathrooms. I had food allergies unknown until my twenties, and thanks to Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto I read a few years ago, it all made sense to me and I silently forgave my parents for not knowing we had been caught in a web of processed deceit executed by corporate governing powers that be. Since I can remember, I’ve always had opinions about how I felt. “Julie’s just sensitive.” Sensitive had become a word I loathed. I was emotional and very in touch with my physical body and nature and I felt all the imbalances. Keeping up with The “Space age” Jones’s in the 90’s, every day you needed
loads of convenience to under-nourish the family and loads of born again strangers to
watch your children while the parental units that couldn’t stand each other
went to a jobs they slaved at miles and miles and a bridge away. Nothing made
sense to me.  Anyhow, yadda yadda, could
have been worse, so, I grew up in a culture out of touch.  I could have been a child in The Democratic Republic
of Congo with a distended belly full of worms and no potable drinking water.
But no, I was living in sunny Northern California chewing Imodium A.D. and on crack-corn punch Gatoraide at age ten so I would not shit my shorts
at soccer practice. I saw money as the root of all evil.

  Our society
is currently going through another age of “Enlightenment” of sorts. It seems fairly clear that most of us
realize how fucked up American corporatized capitalism is and some are making money blogging about it
(trying to tap that.) Almost nothing is taboo and all information is sent and received
within a blink of an eye. Traveling through time we see our reflections and
have enough convenience to be thinkers and tinkers, shifting and shaping time
as we see fit. Prime assholes. Globalfied ecommerce has hacked the humanity out
of us, but it has also enlightened the masses. One of the things that I’ve come
to terms with is the fact that we now have proof about so many things I and many others attuned finally get to
say, “I WAS RIGHT!” From how we learn Spanish in school to what is inside
a number a #2 on the value menu at McDonald’s, down to the horrid smell of
freshly spawned electronics out of a powder coated plastic sheath that I’ve always complained about and feared toxic. I could go on and on, but I digress.  Inflicted with self-diagnosed “Debbie
Downer-syndrome.” I spent years wanting to go back in time and take the blue
pill not the red. Feeling like I was the “crazy” one for being so “sensitive.” Hitting my adolescence I was a chubby privileged white girl
in the most diverse city in The U.S. with irritable bowels and mommy issues and
felt like Jesus watching my every move, perfect asshole bait. They flocked to
me. I was easy prey and a good victim. I was
bullied by enough. We all have our stories. But more importantly we all have
the opportunity to re-type and re-cast the story and not form the same circle
jerk of asshole dysfunction. You know when your parents say, “Just you wait, when you have kids someday, you’ll
understand.” It’s so true. When you become a parent it changes the entire way
you perceive your parents, for better and/or worse. All you can do as a parent
is try and do better than your parents. Mine did, and though at times I may not
seem it, I am none the less grateful for everything. Life was relatively gentle
on me and luckily people are persistently resilient beings. It’s all on how you
interpret and present your unique findings.

  So my web of assholedom is defined as such; a complex person
who goes to any means necessary to get what he/she wants, over inflated sense
of self,  rarely ever puts
others before him/herself, and projects all his/her complexities onto unwary bystanders through a
combination of deceit, control, and manipulation.  Most people are assholes. Being an asshole
pays handsomely. You have to be an asshole to survive our current state of
affairs. I was not good at being an asshole. But it does slip up every once in a
while when I feel threatened or broke.  That’s what it’s about; it’s a defense mechanism
to fear. Owning fear pays very well to the controlling factor. If you thought
the Nation’s war on drugs was profitable, the war on terror owns it. Fear, it’s
built in us as a survival mechanism.  I
have a respect for assholes. They know how to use fear to take what they want.  Guess that’s why I, like so many, fall for the
“bad guy trying to make good.” Respect may not be the right word, historically it eventually turns to repulsed. For the most part, I do wish at times I had a more devilish
conscience, but I am grateful I do not, for that comes with serious damage.  Assholes aren’t made in a vacuum. It is a
learned survival tool that normally clings to some sad stories. It’s also what
happens when people are raised as commodities to lube the global Soylent Green
exchange. Just like the Mr. Wing says at the end of Gremlins,  “Western society do to Mogwai what it has done to all of nature’s gifts.” Generations of Mogwai end up getting the hose and fed after
midnight.  Bottom line, I do my best to keep my asshole leak contained. Life
is fatal enough, you don’t need to perform the same acts of terror over and
over, end the vicious cycle.  Stop unleashing Gremlins into the world. Live the Golden Rule when you can. Just listen a
bit more, have a little more patience, and try and view things from a different
perspective. Do a little of that every day and maybe, just maybe, you’ll not
raise an asshole. Note to self, first step would be, stop fucking self-proclaimed
assholes. Just sayin.