How to respond to your rapist’s “friend request” on Facebook.

 My two month long writer’s block has felt like years. I’ve been avoiding writing mostly because I am afraid of
what I tell me. I am stuck in time. It’s like my flux capacitor needs more plutonium, I have been unable to get it up to 88 mph and out of the year
2001, a year that changed the course of millions of lives, and was a year that officially
marked the end of my innocence. Human sexuality is delicate and complex,
especially when raped of identity.
 When I was a girl I didn’t
understand why I was supposed to be pretty in pink, why my mother made me wear stupid
fluffy dresses, and why my mom would buy me Barbie crap, my little ponies,
poopy real doll creatures and so on. When I was a girl I didn’t understand why when
I turned eighteen I didn’t have to sign up for the draft or why women weren’t allowed to fight on the front lines like men. Well my dad gave me a frank answer to that question when I was eleven, “It’s too
much for male soldiers to see a female soldier get brutalized, men end up putting themselves and others in danger when they see a women in danger, it’s just how men are built, women get raped
and tortured.” So many things out of a father’s control, he also made it abundantly clear that all
men were after one thing and are well, pigs. I understand where he was coming from , and that I was his little girl. Though he may be sexist and extreme
to some, history has not proved him that far off. He allowed my brother to do so many
things that he never allowed me, all on the account that I’d end up raped somehow. I love him for being overprotective, and well slightly right.
 Summer of 2001, after surviving senior year of high school and attempting to leave all its trappings behind me, I was about
to start my first semester at Diablo Valley College with no major intended. I
still had no desire to find a boyfriend or romantic entanglement, but I was
interested in dating. First date, I picked him up and we went bowling in
Fairfield. I remember exactly what I was wearing; my dad’s old work shirt, torn
blue jeans, and hot pink velcro shoes. I remember his cocky walk and thought he
was dumb for wearing a sweater in the middle of summer. He was like Stiffler
and Captian James T. Kirk combined and smelled just the same, it made me puke a
little in my mouth. I had no intention going on another lame date, let alone
ever see him again, especially after he forced himself inside me as we sat in my car in front of his house. I said no, he
said, “come on you know you want…” and before he could finish his
sentence, my pants were half way down my thighs and he slipped his perverted hard rapist dick inside me with one plunge practically ripping my jeans in half, I tightened my legs and pushed him out
my car door. “Date rape” is what they called it in my mom’s day, “your word against his.” It also happened to technically, given the one thrust of penile penetration, be the second time I ever had sex, so I
shook it off, figured nothing would come of me victimizing myself, could have been worse. I just pretended it never happened, went to Kaiser and got a pap,
everything was all good. I had seen first hand what rape and sexual abuse does to women and I wasn’t going to allow that damage to happen to me, not now or ever.
 One of the reasons I went to Diablo Valley College was at my Grandpa’s request. He asked if I would be interested being
monetarily compensated for helping him care for my Grandma when I was done with
school every day, so I quit my job at Hollywood Video, spent my days in Contra
Costa County and my nights in Vallejo. Luckily I was so busy with school and
watching my Grandma’s last days on earth that I would most days forget to eat
let alone remember everything that had been leading up to the Fall of
2001. Around that time I met a local boy I was smitten with through a friend
that I had been working with on a Vallejo after school project called The Yak
House. It was a great non-profit program right in the heart of downtown Vallejo
on Georgia St. The Yak House was a city funded project that provided an
afterschool hangout and they threw shows with live local music every Friday. By
the time I came on board to volunteer, the city of Vallejo had already whacked
the program when they sold the building and is now Chinese food restaurant.
They handed the program over to Greater Vallejo Recreational District (G.V.R.D.)
a total separate entity from the city. Long story short, we were given a few
hours a week at the Community Center on Amador St with major restrictions on
what, when, who and how loud we were allowed to be and the whole project
fizzled after about two months. I was confused and in pain, in pain for the
youth of my city that always seemed to get the short end, in pain watching my
grandma’s body slowly give out, I was in pain for my mother who refused to talk
to her mother and seemed to loath me rather than love me cause she saw me as a
reflection of herself. But really I was in immense pain due to a root canal
that had become an abscessed infection that had been growing for years, pain so
strong I could barely walk a step without it sending shooting vibrations of
white lightning intense pain shooting out my eyeballs. Everything hurt.
 One morning that September I
decide I was going to skip my first class to sleep in, I turned on the T.V. and
immediately knew something was wrong. I woke up my mom and said she better come
take a look at this. She came downstairs and we both sat and watched live as
the second plane hit the Twin Towers. Everything was slow motion after that.
Not long after my grandmother died. I felt nothing, I felt like I was the only
one I knew with feelings and I had none. Eventually I had to drop all my classes that semester because days I was unable to think, eat, or sleep. After finally discovering the cause to all my physical pain I had to wait a couple months more because we didn’t have dental insurance at that time and I had to see a specialist for surgery. Most intense pain of my life for months.
A month or so later I was at a new
friend’s house hanging with that local boy I had been smitten with and a few of
his friends, we were all sitting on the bed and I was going through a photo
album. I turn the page to find­­­­ two familiar eyes peering at me, I ask
“Is that guy’s name Kevin Barlow?” The guy I was smitten with says,
“oh, I know how you know Kevin Barlow, Jesus! Can I ever find a girl he
hasn’t touched?!” I was frozen, I wanted to cry, but then I was pissed and
confused, I didn’t know what to say sitting in the middle of that bed with all
eyes on me. It had rained that night and we took a drive down First Street in
Benicia, he ignored me the whole time. We got out of the SUV that took us all
down to the pier, he walked away from me and I finally just started to cry. I
whispered to him through my tears, “you know, he kinda raped me this
summer right before I met you.” The boy I was smitten with was to soon be
my first boyfriend, and a total asshole I mentioned in “A-hole in One”. 
A month later I was hired right at the front door of Rasputin Music in
Vallejo. Everyone wanted to work there! I was so damn excited, working at an
actual record store in my own hometown. I got permission to create a
community board strung up with Christmas lights for people to put 411 up and I made a local band calendar every
month with local shows I found on and I loved that job, I loved the
people I got to interact all day and all the kids from high school hardly
recognizing me in the skin I was finally getting somewhat comfortable in. And I
was looking good, I didn’t know it at the time, but the store manager thought so too.
He was middle aged non-descript, creepy, greasy, overweight white male with a slight under
bite with wicked cotton mouth that could cause white foamy crust on the sides of his mouth. He loved Jesus and supposedly his African American wife who he lived with
in the Oakland Hills. He sexually harassed me as much as he could get away with.
I was so young and naive; it took me a couple of months to realize what was
going on. He would tell me I needed to stop being so sexy, and say creepstar things like, “look at you trying to look so innocent with the sparkles you put around your eyes, but  I see the look in your eyes.” He would stare at my ass while I would stock the used CDs  and always let me know if he could see my thong. It was so obvious to some of my other co-workers that they would always make
sure I was never left alone with him. That next summer I eventually wanted to
press charges against him after he fired me but my mother told me it was my
word against his and I shouldn’t bother.
 My story is my own and I can finally
face the facts, ­­there is no such thing as “date rape”, its rape. If
you feel that you are being sexually harassed, you probably are, and it’s not your fault! My dad didn’t know about any of these events until this year, for some reason my mother kept it from
him, most likely to keep him out of prison for manslaughter. There are laws to
protect you in such a case, but only if you stand up for yourself, no one will
ever do that for you, you must stand for yourself!

Lured Underground

 The year was 1995, I was twelve. I had a slumber party at my house with a few friends from soccer and church. My mom picked up some new release movies from Hollywood Video. We moved from original East Vallejo into a brand new cookie cut house in a new track development in North East Vallejo to be closer to the new elementary school in town and the future new high school. My mother had impeccable taste and designed each room in our immaculate house herself. Most kids that came to my house were intimidated by it and asked if I was rich. I would give them a break down my moms take home and that my dad made about ten grand less. Yeah, I was spoiled. Back to the party, everyone got their soda on, pizza and napkins in laps, let the show begin. Popped the VHS tape, plastic casings turning, accepted by the flickering motor, the miniature fan vending the aroma of tingling magnetic tape gently warmed and cooled as the film begins. What doesn’t say pre-teen slumber party more than an R-rated dark comedy? I can’t recall if it was one or two that called their parents to get picked up and go home. Sufficed to say, it got weird. Our featured presentation hand selected by my mother from the Springs Road Hollywood Video was Serial Mom. I already knew I was weird by the standards of the ‘norms’, and that night confirmed it even more, I was baptized by John Waters. I thought the film was brilliant, perfectly satirical. Beverly Sutphin as played with insane grace and pristine comedic timing by the great Kathleen Turner who delves into the psyche of the criminally insane, she really does mind about the little things and loves her typical suburban family so much she’ll kill for them. Lethal items used for her killing spree include her car, an antique fire poker, a pair of scissors, air conditioner, a telephone and a leg of lamb all with Barry Manilow’s “Daybreak” playing in her head. I was sold, I need to dive deep into more Waters.

  My first job at sixteen was working at Hollywood Video on Sonoma Blvd. Vallejo, CA. I loved that job. That particular store was huge. It had over a million titles at the time still mostly VHS, but with an expanding DVD selection. I was told by the store manger that I was the only one that passed the pop-quiz movie trivia test when I was hired. I loved answering people cinematic queries. “I am looking for a movie with Bruce Willis and a number in the title.” I slayed at six degrees of Kevin Bacon. Going out to the movies every Friday and staying up watching T.V. for hours on end seemed to finally be paying off. Stocking the “New Release” wall was a piece of cake, but it was the “Floor Titles” that was a thrilling adventure through Hollywood cinema history. I was so captivated and impressed by the vast selection of independent, foreign, directors cut and cult classics. One section in particular I would feel a glimmer of lust and curiosity every time I would pass. Simply marked ‘Cult’ I got to hold history in my hands. Well worn over sized plastic clam shell cases or slight slim fit faded matte finished cardboard covers is what lined the shelves like glory holes into the bizarre and kitschy, a shot in the eye of motion picture entertainment. In a sea of celluloid I always found myself breaching the surface for a lung full of controversy. I enjoyed films that presented the wonderment of natural dark human behaviors in an amusing subversively witty and satirical fashion. Mankillers, They Live, Toxic Avengers, Pink Flamingos, Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension , Polyester, The Big Bird Cage, Brazil, Blue Velvet, Beyond the Valley of The Dolls, Plan 9 From Outer Space, Female Troubles,  Beach Babes 2: Cave Girl Island… to name a few, ok maybe not so much the last title, but a fan none the less. Getting to re-watch some I hadn’t seen since grade school.

 This year I have gotten to be my very own radical main attraction. It seems too I have made friends over the years with some very talented inspiring folks. I even worked up the nerve to do some modeling for the first time since I was a toddler. Including a series shot by Stephen Jacobson where I got to be captured as Serial Mom, antique fire poker and all. Melissa Dale is also one of those very talented people I know and get to call friend. I had seen her over the years going to Shannon & the Clams shows in West Oakland and S.F. I really dug her band Sweet Nothing, she and her boyfriend Ian were an awesome duo, best getaway music ever. I have enjoyed all the projects both she and Ian have added their flavor to over the years, including 9th Floor Radio out of Laney Collage in Oakland which podcasts worldwide online. One night last year during a show at Sugar Mountian in Oakland after spending 20 mins coaxing a can of Olympia out of the vending machine I carpe diemed the shit outta that moment and delicately grab Melissa by the shoulders to tell her, “you are a fucking awesome kick ass woman. And I dig what you do!” She then told me she felt the same about me and went on to shower me with compliments and had been itching to take photographs of me for a long time. She launched her photography and film business this year and this last weekend was our second photo-shoot. We get to catch up, play dress up, and just be our magical selves in her cozy historic building in Crockett, CA. Melissa lamented to me, playing in just shy of a dozen bands over the last decade, she’s kinda over it and her current band Dark Beach will probably the last. Reflecting on our patterns in life and what has driven our styles and attitude Melissa mentioned to me recently, “I think I will always be drawn to the underground.” I whole heartedly concur, the music, film, art, attitude. I also very much love Melissa’s current band Dark Beach. She and Faith Gardner are lovely gloomy surf punk babes who have D.I.Y.’d themselves to the max. Both aspiring women with much to give this world and I see them inspiring many other young women, and that’s what I want to spread more of, plus I have great fun getting down dancing at their shows. I have encouraged her to keep on truckin, she told me she was surprised how popular they were up North on tour, I am not surprised. I want girls in Vallejo to hear their tunes. One of the many reasons I started hosting a radio show at my community radio station, OZCAT 89.5FM KZCT. I host as Serial Mom with my co-host MisDemeanor, we share local stories, community calendar, and local music as captains aboard The Mothership. I am Serial Mom cause I am a huge John Waters fan and apparently have a complex with ‘man boys’. MisDemeanor and her partner in life Dr. G who host Northbay Uprising, Gathering of The Tribes, and MidDemanor’s Hit List on OZCAT. A little over a year ago I chatted with them about hosting a piece of their program, a segment focusing on women’s health, youth programs, affordable living, from our unique perspectives featuring local tunes that involve equality to those with lady parts and or world peace. They came back to me the next day and asked if I’d like my own show every Saturday 5:00-5:30pm, I was nervous as hell and didn’t know what the heck I was doing, but I did it! My friends supported and encouraged me and my community radio station has given me the opportunity to let my voice be heard. Now The Mothership lands every Saturday 5:00-6:00pm on 89.5 FM OZCAT Radio.

  Twenty-twelve was full of sparks and fizzles. OZCAT had a great new studio downtown in The Atrium for The Arts at 600 Marin Street and a lot of things seemed to bee lined up good there for a few months, but like most things in Vallejo, it don’t last too long. After just shy of two months after launching The Mothership, OZCAT was thrown off the air by someone with a motive and a chainsaw who broke into the transmission facility on Saint John’s Mine Road and removed very precise components needed to be on air. The radio station receives no money from the city, state, or federal government. Fully funded by community support. Needing to come up with around $8,000 to repair the damages that had been left over that year and replace stolen parts we were dealt with another blow, OZCAT Studios and any of the artists actually selected to be a part of the new artist collective, Atrium for The Arts, were all kicked out. OZCAT moved back home, under OZ.  Always keeping on, beaming the voice of Vallejo any and every which way it can. Same as it ever was, can’t keep OZCAT down. Been up and running with the voices of the people riding the FM airwaves all year with fantastic programs always able to get real, adapt, and find those like minded individuals that cherish what you do, that’s how you keep rolling.

  It’s motherfucking decorative gourd season y’all, which marks the anniversary of The Mothership on OZCAT Radio. The programs at OZ  run in 3-hour blocks managed by 30 or more DJs 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I have made good peeps at OZCAT and thanks to my burgeoning skills as a radio personality I’ve learned a lot about myself this year of The Snake, keepin’ it real, kicking ass and taking names. Be it orbiting this celestial body or deep underground, if you have a vision and a voice, get it out and be heard. Word. Oh and give a hoot, don’t pollute, and this mom won’t shoot.

“All I hear is dinosaurs sighing…”

I recall my ex-husband not playing well with others. I had discarded all my friends and moved to a new city for a guy who wanted to go the rest of his life without making another single friend. He had moved to California from the East Coast when he was eighteen. He had decided that all of his true friends and family were thousands of miles away and also happened to reside in the past. He had trapped himself behind a wall, thick brick, laid in the past. He couldn’t be present, but then again neither could I, so it only made sense our energies locked on to each other. Locked together living in past lives, hardly creating one of our own. It was like pulling teeth to get him to have any sort of social life. He hated doing things with my family, he had hardly any friends of his own, and then when we had a family of our own he then had new excuses why he didn’t want to do things as a family. He longed for the years of his youth, he always shared his distaste of California any chance he got. Yet somehow I was turned into a “nagging housewife” for wanting to go out for the weekend to the beach, go visit my cousins in Folsom, or gods forbid take a trip to San Francisco, he hated San Francisco and shared his distaste any chance he got. My energy was at an all time drain. I was in my early twenties when I had decided to put my life on hold before it had even begun and completely changed my life to fit the needs and desires of another. It became more important for my husband to receive his reward of solitude for working his forty hour a week job. A job that he had already been working for years before we met. But it was imperative that he have time to himself to play his guitar, watch NASCAR every weekend, and play X-Box. He even had an entire room to himself, his fortress of solitude. OK then. Time for me to find some friends.

I longed for like minded peeps to share my interests with. Most of my old friends were shell shocked that I had gotten married and then shortly after, eight months to be exact, became a mom. My friends were mostly full time working forever students exploring themselves and happily going about their lives. Before I got married I was involved in my local community and was trying to keep alternative arts and music a thriving part of the local culture. I decided I wanted to reconnect with some folks in the local music scene and wanted to get back into it. Thanks to Myspace and an odd connection being one of my husbands ex-girlfriends, I had made contact with one particularly wonderful orb of energy, Alese Osborn. I felt connected to her. We sent groovy messages to each other and eventually started talking on the phone regularly, she had mentioned that I reminded her of a friend of hers I must meet, who happened to be Shannon Shaw, “you should come see her band.” And as luck would have it by the time my son was two, my husband had no problem asking me to find a baby sitter so I could drive out to West Oakland to go to house parties and delightful dive bars by myself and he could stay at home and play NASCAR on X-Box. That became a regular routine once or twice a month. I enjoyed expressing myself fashionably, but like clockwork every time I would go to leave, he would put the controller down and pull me close to tell me I couldn’t leave the house looking that hot. I always wanted him to go with me, he did a couple times and had a fun time, but he would forget.  He was ultimately jealous of everything I liked that wasn’t him. He would make sure to poke the eye of my fun and share his distaste every chance I let him. Cause really that’s what I did, I allowed him to drive me nuts. He would make hella fun of all the shit I like, even down to my hats and tiny blazers, but especially the bands I like, because they weren’t him. Marriage is weird. One time he told me, “you are lucky I allow you to go do these things.” People who feel they are not in control of their own life enjoy controlling the people in their lives that allow them to. I did not go out seeking sex, drugs, just rock n’ roll. I enjoyed the comradery and energy of the people and the music when I went out.

I was a young mom living in a new town with no more close friends. I had always been highly social since I was a lass. It made me well equipt and ideal for my derailed station in life working retail, waiting tables, and hospitality. Attempting to socialize in the workplace, more specifically, the restaurant industry never bodes well.  My own personal insecurities have been on the verbal diarrhea setting of my loud speaker for a long time, people with complex confidence issues are easy to control. My husband fueled my insecurities as mean of control, and it worked for many years. My insecure demeanor had effected a lot of my friendships growing up, I was fairly easy to manipulate and hurt. I’ve always been selective about who I let close to me, and they are the ones that end up hurting the most. My Grandpa Don was worried about me at times when I was a little girl, “Jewel, they’re gonna eat you alive.” He and my grandma didn’t like most of my friends, he saw how they used me. We had a fairly frank discussion one day discussing my new favorite vocabulary word by the pool in the Walnut Creek sun at my grandparents apartment when I was ten. Hypocrite was a very enlightening word. He shared with me about the real world and how people are deceitful and use their power over others for their own hidden agenda. But he recommended I go with the program, study hard, and be the good sweet little girl I am. I loved that man,  I even became a Young Republican in high school to make him proud. He was from a different place and time. After I got married he gave me a copy of Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands.”  Though I refused to read the book, I was a good girl,  good at ignoring my internal conflict and going with the program. I was always good at making the best of my situation and ignoring the radical I had hidden inside. I was good at playing the program, but in the end game I was only hurting myself. Good girl, my do I have issues with men calling me good girl. I am now a thirty year old woman. Unless you are in my bed and I haven’t socked you in the face for calling so, you do not have the privilege. I am no girl. I am now a grown ass woman.

The nights I spent with “Shannon and the Clams” were mostly rather charming and innocent coming of age tales. Yes, there were two accounts of a man-boy creatures kissing me on the mouth without permission while I was out at a show. And each time of mouth to mouth molestation, an affliction I suffer from being adorably affable, I told my husband. I needed a clear conscience, and also make sure he heard it from me directly cause there was nothing for me to hide. He and I had even talked about how getting married so young left a lot of living we felt we still desired, and that if he or I were to ever JUST kiss someone it was no big deal, that we would be honest and trusting. Boy, was that a flipping mistake, cause of course it was somehow my fault, cause how could I have put myself in that situation in the first place? He was livid and I allowed him to always dredge up the past and throw it like sand in my eyes and place heavy projector beams of  blame directed at me. Mind you, after I came home from any event I would make sweet, sweet fuck to my husband, I always made good on my maternal duties. I never hooked up with or chose to kiss anyone at the shows and parties I went to. I had a hard on for the feeling I got making friends and enjoying nights I had never gotten. Well, sufficed to say, I fell in love, hard with “Shannon and the Clams” those years. Hit up every party and show I could. I always felt that I was made for the 60s, and “Shannon and the Clams” helped me feel it, but more importantly made me feel like was right where I belonged. In the right place and in the right time. It was a sound just for us. For me, Shannon, Cody, and Ian embodied the soul of misfit romantic rejects. I would dance my heart out and slow dance to “When You’re On” with one of The Shaw Brothers. I met some of my best friends going to those shows. I eventually made a bunch of friends from Napa whom would pick me up in Vallejo on their way to a shows in the East Bay. I learned a lot about myself and know that those were necessary social experiences for me and luckily came with a killer sound track. “Shannon and the Clams” have great fans, even when I go to shows now and have to wait in a three block line to get in, I know it will be worth it cause I know not only will the night’s soundtrack be great, but the people are always beyond swell. I am done caring what other people think. My ex-husband would always bitch and moan and share his distaste for the bands and musicians that I liked, but would predictably on average about a year of me infecting his ear drums, spontaneously end up being a huge fan. He loves “Shannon and the Clams” and mostly apologized for all the smack he put me through, even asked me about a month ago how he could get his hands on the album with the song that has the lyrics, “All I hear are dinosaurs sighing..”. As you get older it’s truly harder to make friends. Trusting is no longer an option for some. Some even result to making friends sign non-disclosure agreements to make sure the gossip stays one way. True friends don’t make friends sign non-disclosure agreements, another group that don’t make friends sign NDAs, anarchists. “Shannon and the Clams” saved my life while I served time as a good and faithful wife.


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.