Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dear Troy

Dear Troy

Tonight they killed you

Like they hung your grandfathers from the trees

Like they beat your fathers in the streets

Saying “This is justice”

And I don’t think the word will ever get clean again

In America we talk about fair trials

And reasonable doubt

Until we are blue

Until you were blue, and cold

That officer’s widow is still a widow

The hole he left still gapes

Unsutured by your death

And twice as wide now

It is a hole in all of us

Tonight they killed you

And we are less with your passing

Less free

Less ourselves

Smaller in the face of darkness

But we will shrug tomorrow that what’s done is done

And we did all we could

Didn’t we?

You should have seen our facebooks, Troy

Monday, September 5, 2011

for those who "can never find a good guy"

i had a list, growing up, of the qualities i was looking for in the perfect mate. most girls i know have/had such a list at some point. some keep it secretly in a diary, some bust it out to compare with the lists of others, and for some it is less formal - they say they are looking for someone who is like some character from a book or person they look up to, which implies a list of characteristics. now, when i had my list i thought it was a pretty modest and sensible one. honesty and sense of humor were on it, but income wasn't. height was on it, but that seemed only reasonable to want someone as tall as me. and every time i dated someone or considered dating someone, the list was in the back of my mind and i was taking mental notes (often subconsciously) and seeing how my date measured against the list. i figured that when i found someone who checked all the boxes, i would know i had found "the one". and i often lamented that it was so hard to find someone who met even a majority of my qualifications.
the best decision i have ever made was to ditch my list.

when i got rid of the list, i could finally start seeing the men i dated as individual and complex humans, rather than as potential checkmarks on a list. i spent years lamenting that it was so hard to find a guy who would see the real me in all my diversity, but at the same time i was refusing to see the real them. there is a lot of talk about how men objectify women, but i think there needs to be more talk about how women objectify men. women want to be taken as a whole, but want to choose a man based on certain ideal characteristics. it is common for men to physically objectify women, but it is just as common - perhaps more common because it is so socially acceptable - for women to emotionally objectify men. i'm not saying that it's bad to want to be with someone who has similar values and goals, but focusing too hard on ideal qualities often means missing the whole picture and the individual qualities a mate may bring to the table. if you think of your absolute favorite ideal meal to eat and then go trying to find a restaurant that serves exactly that meal, you'll never find it. you'll go hungry, and miss out on an amazing array of good food. obviously that's a very simple metaphor, but the concept is the same. if you already know in your head what the "perfect mate" is, you'll never find that in real life and will miss out on love.

i said for years that i didn't want to marry someone shorter than me. a few months after i tossed my list, i met the love of my life and the best man i have ever met. my incredible husband is 5" shorter than me, and only a few months before we met i wouldn't have given him the time of day and would have totally missed out on love. there were lots of small things where on the surface it didn't seem like he matched up with my list. but when i lost the list i was able to see past the surface, and to get to know him as a unique and complex human. in hindsight, he does have all the really important qualities i was looking for - he is honest and funny and kind and hard working and places a high importance on family and knows where he wants to go in life - but if i'd had my list in mind, i would never have gotten down to see those layers. and, the more i got to know him, the more individual qualities i saw in him that i would never have thought to put on a list but which made up his amazing whole that i now cannot live without.

i guess all of this is to say that if you are single and lamenting not being able to find "a good guy", i would urge you to stop and think for a minute. if your definition of a good guy includes someone who will love you for you, then you have to start by letting go of abstract, ideal qualities and start getting to know guys for who they really are. you'll probably be surprised how many good guys you find when you take the time to get to know them without your list in mind. let go of the agenda, and start looking at guys as real human beings rather than as potential list fulfillers. you will probably find what you're looking for. just my two cents.

*the gendered language in this post was simply the easiest way for me to write, since i write from the perspective of a straight female. but i think you could switch out "guy" and "husband" for "girl" and "partner" and it would still be true.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

a confession

in target the other day i was passing through the baby clothes and saw an awesome sweater. it had a pirate scull and crossbones on it and was blue and grey. it was so cute and my first thought was "what an awesome sweater, i should get it for haven!". i should go with my first thoughts more often, i think. my second thought was "it's a boy's sweater. too bad girl clothes aren't that cute". i'm ashamed of that second thought, and more ashamed that i listened to it. what exactly is it that makes a sweater a "boy's sweater"? because it was blue and grey? because it was in the boy's section? because an advertiser decided to market it to boys?...i think that last one. some of my favorite sweaters have been "men's" sweaters. does it mean that i'm dressing "like a man"(whatever the hell that means) when i wear them? no. nor do people think that i'm a man when i wear my sweaters. so why should i give in to all that bullshit when it comes to haven? the truth is that my daughter is no more defined by her clothes than i am. too often in the past year i have given in and gone with the "girly" clothes simply because i get frustrated correcting people who call her "he" when she wears any color other than bright pink. i'm ashamed of that frustration and how i've handled it. why should i give a fuck what some stranger assumes about her based on their narrow preconceptions of gender. this weekend i am going back to target to get haven that sweater, because it is awesomely cute. and from now on i am going to buy her clothes based only on awesomeness and functionality, not on what aisle they are in at the store. my daughter will not live in a box. i will continue to encourage her love of cars and dogs as much as her love of dress-up. i will watch myself and make sure that i tell her every day what a beautiful person she is, but not that she looks pretty just because she's in a dress (i already make a point to refer dressing up or wearing makeup as "looking fancy" rather than "looking pretty", but i've noticed a disturbing trend lately of "you're so pretty" being the phrase i say to her most frequently). i love her tutu and all her cute dresses, but i want more than cute dresses for my daughter. society will try to place many limitations on her throughout her life, and i will not be able to protect her from them all. but right now i can at least lay a foundation that will enable her to find her value in her intelligence and spirit and kindness, and not in her looks. i can teach her from the begining that clothing does not make a person, nor do possessions or hobbies. and it can all start with a bitchin pirate sweater. she is going to look so cute in it this fall, worn with jeans and her black sneakers. and if anyone tells me how cute my "son" is, that's fine. i will feel sad for them in my heart that they live in such a small box, but i will not put haven in a similar box just to fit in.