Thinking About Kalamazoo

People from all over have been asking my thoughts on Kalamazoo. I grew up and have lived much of my life just over an hour away. I have several friends and family members who lived there, and some still do. I make at least one trip a year there to eat at one of my favorite restaurants that closed its location in my hometown over a decade ago. Because of that, people keep asking if this latest mass shooting hits especially close to home. I often surprise them when I say it doesn’t at all.

During my time in the Army, I lived in Colorado Springs and South Carolina. I made friends with people who live in many of the places that have made the news with incidents of mass violence. I spent two years of my life in war zones. I had a cousin who was murdered. A young woman I knew, the step-daughter of a close friend, was murdered just miles from my house. Violence, particularly gun violence, has been hitting home for me long before the shootings in Kalamazoo. Continue reading

Peyton Manning and Rape Culture

Add Peyton Manning to the list of male celebrities who have been accused of predatory behavior. The accusations themselves are far from new. They originate from an incident that occurred in the mid-1990s and were mentioned in a USA Today Story in 2003. The story was largely forgotten as Manning continued his successful football career which will likely land him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Specifically, Peyton Manning allegedly placed his naked genitals on the face of athletic trainer Dr. Jamie Naughright. The New York Daily News story which renewed attention on the accusations mentioned two things that may be construed as defense for this behavior. First, Manning claimed the incident happened as he mooned a teammate. Second, in his autobiography, Manning accused Dr. Naughright of frequently using vulgar language. The story brings doubt on these two matters, but the real issue is that neither is anything close to a valid defense. Continue reading

My Blue-Eyed Girl

Much larger and horribly uncooperative with picture taking.
Much larger and horribly uncooperative with picture taking.

I’ve been muddling through a depressive episode lately. Writing helps me feel better, but so much of what I write is so deeply personal that it leaves me feeling drained. So a friend suggested I write some fluff pieces, and one of them ended up here.

This piece happened after Stigma Fighters CEO Sarah Fader requested guest posts with a cat theme for her blog OldSchool/NewSchool Mom. What better opportunity to work on a fluff piece than to write about my fluffy little furball? So I pulled out a piece I drafted for my memoir-in-perpetual-progress and reworked it. I sent Sarah a draft, and it was posted within minutes. Did I mention it was a draft? I was expecting some feedback, a little more reworking… never mind.

As you can see from the picture, she’s grown quite a bit since the night I met her. (That is to say you can see that if you’ve checked out my post about her. It includes a picture from that fateful night.) In a few weeks I’ll be leaving my blue-eyed girl in the care of an old Army buddy while I travel westerly. It’ll be our first extended separation since she took possession of her throne over two years ago. People wonder how I’m going to handle it. I do too.

Lost in a Fishbowl

A fascinating philosophical look at labels and respecting each other.

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Fishbowl

Imagine you’re a parent.

This shouldn’t be hard for some of you. But now imagine your child, a young girl of about 5, has an amazing talent. She totally rocks at that fish game you play at carnivals.

Where at first you’re simply indulging in her delight at possibly winning a fish and then, before you know it, you find yourself driving home with your fish game prodigy daughter who is hauling ten individually bagged fish in her arms.

You stop at the animal store, pick up a tank, rocks and a few castles and cool decorations for your new army of tiny fish that your daughter has procured.

Once the fish are set up and in their new home you call and tell one of your best friends about your daughter’s amazing, but slightly odd, talent. Being your best friend, they of course want to bust your chops and…

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Working to Prove Myself a Feminist

I’m really proud to be featured on Feminine Collective once again with a little explanation of why I am “Afraid to Call Myself a Feminist”.

Whether or not you choose to read my piece, you absolutely need to read “Why I am a Feminist (and other men should be too)” by the wonderful John Michael Antonio. It really hit home for me as his story very closely reflected my own.

There is an important distinction in what I was trying to write about. I’m nervous about calling myself a feminist. I’m not nervous about being one. If my actions don’t speak just as loudly as my words (and more so), then my feminism will be meaningless. If I don’t prove it as strongly as I say it, I can’t expect anyone to believe it. So while I have and will speak out against rape culture and try to destroy it, I also have to pay attention to myself. I need to own my behavior and how it impacts others. That is often the hardest work but is the most important.

I have a lot more to write on this topic, but for now, I’m going to encourage you to head on over to Feminine Collective.

I Never Thought of “Cis” As a Derogatory Term

Dori Owen wrote this fascinating story for Feminine Collective, “Lost In Translation”. In it, she describes a friend’s transition from male to female. Having some transgender friends, a couple of whom are still in transition, the story was especially interesting to me. I tweeted it with the line, “Interesting cis take on trans life”. Dori Owen replied to me with a thanks but with a note that she considers “cis” to be derogatory.

I was quite shocked since I’ve heard other women use the label and had never heard of it referred to as a derogatory term. Regardless, I’m a staunch believer in letting people self-identify, and if Dori Owen is uncomfortable with that label, I’m certainly not going to apply it to her. I apologized, quickly deleted the tweet, and replaced it with a new one that did not include any label of Dori Owen’s gender. (Full disclosure: I don’t know Dori Owen personally, but I am quite an admirer of her work. We follow each other on Twitter. We travel in some similar circles, but we have no personal relationship.) Continue reading