Thursday, October 21, 2010

New Paint on Old Surfaces

As you may or may not know, my family lives in a house that was built over 100 years ago. In 1905, someone stopped in what was probably an empty field with no buildings within throwing distance and said, "Yep, this is the spot."

A lot has changed in 100 years. Families have come and gone from this house. These walls have seen workers rights movements, woman's rights movements, and civil rights movements. There is new paint, new furniture, and new faces.

A lot has changed.

What hasn't changed is the basic structure. It's still wood and stone, built on a solid foundation.

When I think about social progress, this is how I see it, we are solid. An end to racial and gender inequality has not brought our society crashing down around our ears. We can move forward and change without losing our values, our basic structure.

Today I attended a counter protest outside the Gonzaga University campus. Seeing the messages of hatred on the signs of the Westboro Baptist Church protesters made me think about the times I've been wrong about people I didn't know.

How many times have I looked at a stranger and made judgments about their lifestyle or their character? How many times have I been wrong?

I may never know the answer to that question, because I won't have the chance to ask. I can't go back and find out the truth. What I can do is change my point of view.

It's so easy to hate. It's so easy to push someone aside and say they're worthless, evil, or wrong. What's not easy is to really get to know them, then say those things.

I don't know anyone from the Westboro Baptist Church, and they don't know me, it would be easy for me to say that they are evil people, but I won't. I will say that I think they are misguided, and I hope that one day each of them will come to know a gay person or a soldier, or maybe even someone who is both, and realize that they are not so different from any other American.

One of the many messages of the WBC.
Also popular: "Thank God for IEDs" and "God Hates Fags"

Most of the time I'm a little too serious about human rights...if you believe that's possible. I was reminded by a friend today that it doesn't all need to be furrowed brows and clenched fists.

Here's a short video I put together of Jason dancing in a gorilla suit at the WBC counter protest, I hope it brightens your day:

I think I started this post talking about how the house has changed before I was sidetracked by the big picture. Funny how that happens.

Our bathroom has undergone a minor transformation that makes a big difference. I've painted out the yellow in favor of a bright white that makes the room look a little bigger and enhances the natural light.

Here are a few shots of the old color:

Old, light yellow bathroom color

Mellow Yellow

And here's the update to a cleaner look:

Shiny "new" bathroom

So there you have it. Everything old is new again.

Time marches on, the world changes, and we change with it, but our structure remains.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Need costume ideas? May I suggest "networking vampire"?

Being funemployed has got me thinking a lot about meeting new people, not just meeting people for friendship, although that's nice, but "networking" as those crazy kids are calling it these days.

Networking has never been my thing, not least of all because I'm almost entirely face-blind. I have no trouble remembering names or details about the people I meet, I can just never figure out if this brown haired guy at the bus stop is the same brown haired guy from the gym about whom I know those things.

At the point in the conversation where I'm supposed to say, "Oh, right! Because you're a cliff diving concert pianist, it makes perfect sense," instead I say, "mmmm," and nod because I'm not really sure if that was you.

I'm the type of person who could name your grandmother's childhood goldfish, but probably couldn't find you in an elevator.

Actually, it would be very helpful for me if everyone I know or semi-know would wear a bright red top hat with their name on it. That way, when I saw you coming toward me on the street, I would instantly know that I'm supposed to recognize you, and your name would help me remember why. Maybe you could make me some flash cards to jog my memory. That would be helpful.

Unfortunately, that wouldn't be the end to my networking problems. You see, the main problem I have with networking is the idea that introducing yourself to someone makes them obligated to help you.

For example, I could walk up to you at a restaurant and say, "Hi, I'm so-and-so," and tell you a bit about myself and ask about you...and now I know you, and now I can tell other people I know you, and I can call on you when I need something.

Is that what you wanted? It doesn't matter.

Your new contact is like a vampire. You've said they can come into your house and now it's all over. By merely reaching out and giving a firm handshake, you've agreed to make special allowances for your new friend. Pretty soon you'll be flapping your tiny little bat wings beneath the full moon when you'd much rather be home on your couch watching "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown."

Even if you already know the person, it still sucks (ha! vampire joke) when they ask you to help them if you weren't planning to already.

I'm curious about the point where a friend starts to become a nuisance, or an acquaintance oversteps their bounds with their requests for a boost.

Has anyone out there ever been in a situation where someone asked too much of you and used your friendship as an excuse to suck you dry?

How about the other way around? Have you ever befriended someone for the purpose of getting ahead?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

it gets better

On September 23rd, 2010, Dan Savage wrote in the Seattle Stranger about the suicide of a bullied gay teenager.

Savage writes:

"Billy Lucas was just 15 when he hanged himself in a barn on his grandmother's property. He reportedly endured intense bullying at the hands of his classmates—classmates who called him a fag and told him to kill himself. His mother found his body." - Dan Savage, Seattle Stranger

Savage launched a YouTube channel and a Facebook page for people to connect with each other on this issue, calling the effort the "'It Gets Better' Project." In less than a month, the channel has gone from one video to thousands. Their channel has over 1 million views and the outpouring of support is incredible.

I'm not in the business of telling anyone what to think, but when I read about someone taking their own life rather than endure daily torture, I have to stand up and say, "What are we doing?"

Why are we telling our children that it's acceptable or even encouraged to tell another human being that they deserve to die for being different?

I have to believe from what I've read, heard and feel in my heart that the Christian message is not one of violence and hatred. I can't even wrap my head around why anyone would care more about who their neighbor chooses to love than they care about worldwide hunger, genocide, rape, human trafficking or domestic violence.

Seeing the videos and reading the supportive comments from viewers has made the knot in my stomach release a tiny bit.

But here's the thing: It doesn't always get better.

Gay children and teenagers become gay adults who are equally ostracized.

Couples are told that they are not able to raise children, even though a single parent with no job and a crack addition is deemed perfectly fit. According to a report issued by the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, a paltry 63% of children in the United States grow up with both biological parents - the lowest figure in the Western world.

Seems like we could make that better.

Gay couples are told that they devalue the institution of marriage, when any drunken pop star with a few hours of free time can have an a marriage and an annulment just for kicks.

Seems like we could make that better too.

Soldiers in our military are told that they can't serve if they are openly gay. They can't tell anyone because it could mean loss of job and rank, or something much worse like the torture our teenagers experience. This means that they go into battle, to get shot and killed, alongside people who they can't trust.

Could it be better? Yeah, I think so.

Again, I'm not telling anyone what to think, but I would like to see a world where our actions reflect a desire for everyone to be loved and treated as equals.

Let's make sure it actually gets better.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Odd Jobs


When you work for yourself, you are never done working, but nothing ever gets done.

With the exception of the days I've spent immobilized on the living room floor with my messed up foot, I've done little sitting still for the past two months. It's all hard running without moving forward, like sprinting on a treadmill and expecting to end up somewhere new.

Building a solid clientele for a graphic design business is like herding cats. Everyone has heard about the benefits of having good marketing materials and a website, and, oh yes, they definitely want to get that done, but, oh wait, no, don't come any closer...feed me...let me,, outside...

In this strange transition period into being the master of my own destiny, I've been fostering a tiny, pointy, underwater-mine-like, back-of-the-mind freak out about not having a guaranteed income (mortgage payments will do that to you), so I began to peruse Craigslist for a part-time gig.

Worry is like a playful Naval mine

Over the past few weeks, I've sent my resume to every type of business or individual you could think of: barista stands, auto shops, sign makers, typesetters, sandwich makers...really anything, anything at all. And you know what? Nada. Not a single successful lead. You have failed me, internet.

So I turned to the people I know for realsies and managed to squeak myself in as a weekend driver for the Pizza Pipeline. It's not much, but it turns out the job is pretty fun, and the outfit makes me look even more elfish than usual:

Will enchant for +20 spirit with large 3-topping pizza

Among the other things that have been keeping me busy are craft fairs and art shows.

The Ferris Craft Fair is coming up in two weeks, and I'm sending a selection of my jewelry and magnets with a friend to the barter faire at Tonasket.

My very first solo art show opened last Friday at the Brooklyn Deli downtown on Monroe. It will up until October 31st.

I also had a sculptural piece in the Kinetic show at the now defunct Lorinda Knight Gallery.

"Potential Versus Actual" at the Kinetic show.
This piece is intended to be rearranged by each new viewer so that it is constantly representing the movement from a potential event to an actual event. There is no correct way to arrange the blocks. Even when they are put together as the artist intended, they are still not "right."

Cindy arranging the blocks at Kinetic

"Upstream" at the Brooklyn Deli

A wall of paintings at the Brooklyn Deli

Overall, this self employment thing is weird. Sometimes I am making good money and I feel confident, other times there is nothing and that pointy sea mine comes floating toward me again. But feast or famine is the life I've chosen and I'll make it work.