Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Eugene Scene

Here in the Eug' we're having a little issue. More than one downtown shop owner has complained of "street people" and teenagers peeing, defecating, and writing obscenities and racial slurs on their shops. The proposed solution? Greater "crackdown" on loitering teenagers and dirty old homeless people and the right to BAN certain people from the downtown area without conviction of a crime.

I'm only kind of torn on this. I really do agree that peeing and writing the n word on shop is threatening and totally inexcusable. But that doesn't mean that you can take away people's right to be in public spaces. If there are benches in front of the library, they're meant to be SAT ON. If there are tables in Kesey Square, they're meant for people to gather and enjoy the space.

What it comes down to is that the people with money and influence don't want to look at undesirables. The ability to banish people from downtown would really only apply to teens and homeless people. Can you imagine a downtown guard asking a group of greyheaded old ladies to move along from the benches in front of the library? Can you imagine a bunch of soccer moms with kids in tow being told they can't gather on the sidewalk while they give their toddlers organic Cherrios? It wouldn't happen.

Teens are threatening to respectable folk because those people know that they haven't given them the respect they deserve as human beings. They've been written off on account of their age, expected to make trouble, and what young person fighting for acknowledgment of their worth is going to want to smile and be sweet to people who make them feel like criminals?

My suggestion is not to be afraid. Carry your toddler into the library, right past the congregation of teens, and smile. Wish them a good afternoon. Compliment their mohawks. I don't care as long as you show respect. I feel that people on this side of success in their lives don't recognize their responsibility to be the bigger person, not in a "better than you" or "more right to be here" kind of way, but recognizing that some people have growing to do. Please realize that respect should be given unconditionally, no matter if the person is a shop owner, professor, homeless person, or teen.

Teens, prove them wrong. Prove your right to be in public spaces by resisting the urge to puff out your chest and claim your territory. That goes for everyone. Don't abuse your right to public spaces by claiming them as your own. Downtowns should be places for everyone who shows respect, and that involves sharing. You learned it in kindergarten. Can't we just share downtown?

Friday, July 25, 2008

This is weird and really personal so don't laugh

Do you believe in prophetic dreams? With everything pregnant happening around me, I had a weird dream, I don't know if it's a prophetic dream or not. I dreamed I was pregnant and ready to give birth. There was no father around, but my family was all around me, and some friends. The high school pep band, which consisted of Mr Breon (our janitor) and Lynn (my childhood babysitters husband, both of whom actually were in the pep band) played music for me outside the hospital window. I told some friends who were sitting around on a sidewalk that I was about to have a baby, but they seemed disinterested. But no matter what I did, the baby didn't come. I walked around and my water had broken, but it didn't come. I was upset that everything happened too fast for me to have any choices about how I wanted to give birth. I hadn't had any ultrasounds or anything. I think I wanted to name the baby Danny.

But the birth just wouldn't happen. What does that mean? There's something waiting to be birthed out of me and it's not happening. There's something inside of me, an idea or a dream or something that I'm supposed to be a part of, something big, but it's not happening o matter what I do. My friends and family are mostly supportive, but some are suspicious.

What is my baby? What am I waiting for?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wear your religion on your chest

A few weeks ago, I went to Cornerstone Festival, a huge Christian music festival in Illinois. I was already cranky from the emotional things I was going through, and then...I went to the merch tent. Coming at me from all sides were tshirts that read "ABSTINENCEISAWESOME" and "I love my future wife" (tempted to get that one), booths for Christian colleges that promised the tools to win souls or get a degree in "Worship Leadership," and a general black hole of creativity in design and thought that proclaims "Christians are to rip off every worldly trend, slap a smarmy saying about abortion on it and in so doing fit into the box that we have created for you that makes you look like an even BIGGER asshole than the guy at the entrance holding a sign and passing out Chick Tracts."

Why am I a Christian again? Oh yeah, the monsters! (Thanks Otto Nobot!)

No really, what gave me a little hope at Cornerstone that Christianity isn't just a boxed in money market were the people who reminded me that human beings are gross and monstrous and we're ALL like that. Christians aren't special by nature of their sexual mores (they just would rather not talk about it) or their appearance or their GODAWFUL music or even by nature of their religion, because God is for everyone. I don't know if God wants everyone to become a Christian or not, but I think he loves people who aren't Christians just the same. What gave me hope was knowing that in little pockets of the world, there are Christians who believe in doing good unto everyone instead of being self-righteous. There are people who walk Palestinian children to school so Israeli grownups don't throw garbage at them. There are people who take in seven teenage skaters into their houses like they're their own kids. There are people who put the money that their churches generate into paying an acquaintance's medical bills instead of building a mahogany pulpit for the church.

I think that things like saying thanks to God and valuing life and saving sex for marriage are right and good, but there's so much more that Christians are responsible for. If someone gets some kind of spiritual nourishment out of the church with the mahogany pulpit, God bless 'em, honestly. But if your entire faith is based on rubbing it in someone else's face that you're saved and he or she isn't, then it's not really following Jesus' example. That's what the Pharisees were doing and Jesus made no bones about how pointless it was.

So Cornerstone made me throw up in my mouth a little. All this has probably been said on the blogosphere before, and I really don't mean an ill will toward anyone. It's saddening to think that this might be all that Christianity is cracked up to be, and I'm not feelin' it. I was much happier to get back to Eugene and the Country Fair, where the jugglers didn't have any self-righteous agendas, the women didn't dwell on causing their brothers to stumble over their painted breasts (although literally...), and pregnant mothers celebrated the life inside their bodies with decoration rather than preach to the choir about how awful abortion is and leaving it at that.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Transcontinental Failroad

The next few entries are going to be about things I was thinking about on my two-week vacation to North Carolina/ Illinois.

I was prepared for the most awkward trip of my life. Not only would I be road-tripping to the midwest with my old boyfriend, the soon-to-be wife, and the converted Muslim brother, but I'd be seeing my ex for the first time in four years, the last time being when we broke up (it was mutual). A lot has happened in four years, and my ex is practically a new person. How so? My old boyfriend is a transsexual person in transition to becoming a full-time woman.

Note: If I try to do pronouns, I'm going to get them wrong. I know it probably hurts my ex's feelings that I can't get them right at the moment...the last time we saw each other, there was no problem saying he/him, and the nature of our relationship makes it difficult for me to make the switch right now. So in the interest of not hurting anyone's feelings and protecting confidentiality, I'm going to refer to my ex as X (get it?) and use the neutral pronouns ze and zir. It might be a little cumbersome, so sorry.

I was expecting to see X at the airport in the full makeup and inserts that we'd talked about before, but on the way to the airport, ze had to visit relatives that don't know about ze's transition, so I saw the same old person that I'd known before with slightly longer hair. When we went out to lunch the next day, X got "girled up" and the waitress referred to the three of us (me, X, and fiance) as "ladies". I expected it to be harder at first, but I actually thought that ze was pretty brave, getting out there and being zirself.

It got harder later on, when I was surrounded by three couples, one married, one engaged, and one in which the boyfriend had moved out of state to be with his girlfriend. The last good relationship I'd had was with X, and four years of insecurity weighs heavy on a person's heart. I probably got all that mixed up with X's transition, and took it out on zir when we talked later. I'm resistant to any kind of change, and everything around me was a whole hell of a lot of change.

It bothered me that I was bothered. I'm the last person that should be a jerk about being supportive of a queer friend. I was confronted with issues of sexuality I hadn't dwelt upon for years. Before X and I started dating, I came out as bi on the message board where we met, and ze was the most supportive person through the whole thing. That's the only group of people, beside a few select individuals who have ever known. I'm comfortable with myself these days, and I don't like to make a big deal out of it, but I also haven't had a date in close to three years, so I don't even know how I'd react if I was particularly into a girl. It's not even like 50/50 attraction, more like 85/15, so she'd really have to be some girl to catch my attention.

X has had the benefit of being pretty involved with a trans group this past year, and I wonder if things hadn't worked out the way they did, if I would have benefited from involvement with an LGBTQ group. Near the end of my year at OSU, I got really involved and made really good friends in the Rainbow Continuum. I didn't even have to come out to them. No one cared if I was queer or an ally, and they were really respectful of everyone. Then I moved to U of O, and everything was different. I was living in a Christian women's co-op associated with a Conservative Baptist church, and the LGBTQ group was a lot more in-your-face than I was ready for. I had to make a choice, and since I don't like to make a big deal out of my bisexuality anyways, it's not the most important part of myself to me, I chose to hide it.

Bi Christians are like the worst of both worlds. In the gay and lesbian community, bisexual people either don't want to admit that they're really gay or they're just bi because it's cool. Oh, and they're total sluts too. In the Christian community, queer people in general are the ultimate sinners with the agenda of afflicting everyone with the gay. And they're total sluts too. I'm celibate by choice, and the pressure of the "sexual" part of bisexual kept me out of the queer community too.

I'm not ashamed of having dated a trans person even if ze wasn't transitioned at all at the time. I knew about zir feelings, but at the time it was no more than "sometimes I think it would be better if I was born a girl" and at 19, I didn't take it as seriously as I should have. X taught me to question the gender roles that I'd been indoctrinated with through all those marriage prep groups also known as youth groups (high school and especially college). So maybe I'm a jerk who can't use X's desired pronouns or chosen name right now, but I'm a jerk who's trying. Our friendship is important to me, and even though it's difficult, I'm fighting it out with myself.