Sunday, May 27, 2012

Speaking Out!

Today, the little town of Newton was the site of a protest that drew about 1,200 people, as estimated by police who were on hand to keep things calm.  Of those, about 20 seemed to be "counter protesters," and I'll get to them in a bit.  Newton is the county seat of Catawba County in North Carolina and usually is home to about 12,500 people.  By the way, I daresay the restaurants were quite happy that a protest was being held on a holiday weekend.

So what were FryDaddy and I doing up that-a-way?  Well, back on Mother's Day, the head of a little Baptist church in nearby Maiden said some pretty awful and hateful things from the pulpit about putting American citizens behind electrified fences and letting them die off.  (Oh, but he offered to have some food flown in.  Compassionate feller.)  I'm not posting a link here - search out hate on your own time, please - but it's easily findable. That was part of the problem.  Even though the church took the sermon down off its (currently crashed) Website, with YouTube, stupid lives on forever.  (Look for footage from today coming soon!)

So thanks to one intrepid woman who thought enough was enough (thanks, Laura Tipton!), the plans for a protest were launched.  Again, thanks to the Internet and social media, plans grew.  And grew.  And grew!  Originally, the plan was to protest at the actual church.  But that's in the middle of nowhere (and speaking as a native North Carolinian, we've got a lot of nowhere in this state) and it became obvious that there wouldn't be adequate parking for so many people, plus the protest needed to be on public property.  So the grounds of the Catawba County Justice Center - which, it turns out, is NOT the home of the Justice League - were requested and permission was granted.

It was my first large-scale protest.  We were sent information about what to do (be positive) and not do (don't engage the counter protesters).  We made signs* and dressed for hot late-May weather.  With a cooler of water and snacks, off we went.

Did we change anyone's mind?  I doubt it.  The people who thought whats-his-name was a nutjob still thought he was when they left.  The people who thought the Bible's "clobber verses" (so called because they are often used to "clobber" gay rights activists) were not the end-all and be-all still thought that when they left.  And, unfortunately, the few folks who showed up to convince the rest of us that we were going straight to hell, do not pass go, still thought that when they left.

So why bother?

Because speaking out matters.  And because silence implies consent.  Every time I stay quiet because I don't want to stick out my neck, I'm saying that what happened to Matthew Shepard was okay.  Every time I look down at my toes instead of telling some jackass using the Bible like a shillelagh that he is not to presume his line to God is any more direct than mine, I'm saying that it's okay to belittle and degrade people just because they're different.  And it's not.  It never has been.

And fighting the Triple Demon of bigotry, ignorance, and hatred with nothing more than magic markers, posterboard, and glitter feels pretty darned good.  Even with a little sunburn to go with it.

Thanks, Newton!

*You like that?  One part of the pastor's remarks went along the lines of:  "I'm agin it!  God's agin it!"  ("Agin" being the presumed slang word for "against" - we had to improvise a little on that.)

Monday, May 21, 2012

In Praise of Doing Not Very Much

During the Victorian era, the best known and most influential art critic was John Ruskin. (He also possessed a quite commanding set of whiskers, but that's a post for another time.)  Ruskin was not without his faults, but I find this quote especially useful:  "In order that people may be happy in their work, these three things are needed:  They must be fit for it.  They must not do too much of it.  And they must have a sense of success in it."  Wise words, indeed.

FryDaddy and I had gotten off that track.  Speaking only for myself, I was fit for the work I was doing, so I had that going for me, but I was doing too much of it (certainly in too short a time span) and I wasn't feeling much of a sense of success in it.  Vacations are good places to reset those sorts of clocks. We were fortunate enough to have a place to go where there was very little to do.  I know that many people enjoy doing this&that on vacation and we've had that sort of trip before and enjoyed it greatly.  But there's often a problem with those trips - there's so much to see and do that you tend to be checking things off a list the whole time and to do that, you need to gogogogo.  Therefore, I tend to come home tired from those experiences and need a vacation from my vacation.

We were also helped out by the coastal weather which had plenty of drizzle and overcast conditions that seemed to whisper, "No, not yet.  Just hunker down here - where's that novel you brought?"  I can't really explain how lovely it was to just turn off the phone, sleep in, pad about a lovely home with a second cup of coffee and spend the day reading, playing games, strolling under the Spanish-moss-draped trees wondering  if we'll see an alligator basking in the lagoon and then doing it all over again the next day.

So we're back now and bills and phone messages need to be attended to, writing deadlines are beginning to strain against their chains, and I have two classes to teach that mean three 10 hour days a week for the next five weeks.  And it's all doable.

I like to pick up souvenirs when I travel and this trip I brought home a heavy diner-style coffee mug to remind me of the importance of "zero tasking." (You can see the picture at the top of the post.)  As soon as I finish my coffee, I'll rinse it out and take it to the office, where I think I need it.

Fit for it + Not too much of it + Sense of Success in It = Happy at Work

Now that's math I can support!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sand, Sea, and Sun!

FryDaddy and I are taking off for a few days.  Some friends very generously lent us their beach house as a graduation present for the newly-minted alumnus and we're heading out for a few days of watching the waves and worrying about absolutely nothing more strenuously than whether or not our chairs are above the high-tide line.

Should be good.

Once we're back, it's into the whirl with us as we get the Breaking Bad draft off to the publisher along with a couple of other projects - one of which has just GOT to involve the house!  Ever wake up and wonder how the place got so disorganized overnight?  Well, that's pretty much where we are just now.  Looks like Goodwill is going to benefit from a couple of massive closet-cleanings.

But that's for later.  The next few days are all about not worrying about classes and politics and writing and, and, and.  We all need a few of 'em.  And about four of them are coming our way.  Someone asked me if I'd checked the weather for the trip and my cheery reply was, "Nope.  We're going no matter what."  And it's true - no hurricanes are forming (for that, I must admit, I'd leave) and we're pretty good at making our own fun in the case of inclement weather.  (Wowr!!)

Now, where'd I put that sunscreen?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Somber Celebration

To begin with, woo-hoo!  FryDaddy's two years of jumping through a series of increasingly-difficult hoops (Fire!  Spin this plate!  Juggle these geese!) has come to a close and he's an official graduate of the university.  He was decked out in bling from various honor societies and looked quite academic, not to mention handsome and thoughtful.

We have a few months here at the Nest before he heads Up-and-Over the Mountain to graduate school.  It should prove to be an interesting summer - we have some vacation at the coast planned, I teach two summer courses, our first draft of the Breaking Bad project is due mid-June (Can we write together?  Hmmm - heck of a way to find out!  Click here for updates), and the biennial Whedon conference (Slayage 5 - for which papers[ahem] still need to be written) is mid-July.  Lots going on over the next two months.  (I'm hoping we spend the end of July hunkered down at home doing very little.)  It's busy, but I'm trying to look at the bright side.  We have some amazing opportunities that we said "yes" to and now it's time to pony up.

In far less celebratory news, my fine state of North Carolina voted "yes" to Amendment One this past week, which makes me both sad and resolved.  Oh, I know the tide of history is turning towards equality and dignity, but I was hopeful that we could nudge the tide a bit.  I'm a little amazed at how "activated" I've become.  It wasn't this one single issue; it goes back to the hack-and-slash job my state legislature did on the budget last year.  In the past, I've been a very quiet, politely political person.  I think those days may be over.  No one pays attention to you when you're quiet, so Those in Power think it's okay to ignore you.

Not any more.  This is my state, too.  And I'm not leaving.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012


It's May First today, which is a day filled with portent and mystery.  The Russians parade artillery, the neo-Druids gather in oak groves, the French hand out lily of the valley to ladies and here at the Nest, we observe the second anniversary of the smartest day of our lives.  Yep, it's been two solid years since FryDaddy and I said our vows and declared our intentions in front of God and witnesses to travel this road together, no matter what the potholes may bring.

This year, we're combining anniversary celebrations with his graduation festivities in a couple of days.   It's a regular workday for me (sigh), although I have the prospect of a home-cooked dinner waiting for me at the end of a long, grading-filled day.  Well, not all anniversaries can fall on weekends, can they?

The traditional gift for the second anniversary is cotton and, while it's not about the gifts, handing me a bunch of Q-Tips at the end of a semester may not be among the best of ideas.  I took a more symbolic route with this one, but that's all you get to know about it.  (It's still a secret, and he reads this blog.)  You see, there's a lovely Southernism to denote being in a state of good fortune - on such a happy occasion, you're said to be in "high cotton."  This past year has been all about high cotton for us.  We've seen our professional careers continue to blossom to the point that we're in the midst of co-authoring a project together.  He's worked hard (and I mean hard) at school and is about two days away from donning a dark-blue robe and very flat hat and striding with confidence across a stage to receive his degree.  I haven't hit anyone with an office chair.  (Trust me, that should count as an accomplishment, although I've yet to find a place to put in on my CV.  Suggestions are welcomed.)  There has been tribulation and trial - it's life, after all - but work is good, friendships are rich, and home is cozy.  We've had the opportunity to travel and laugh and continue to build a life together.   

It's been a good year - and one filled with "high cotton" moments.

That's well worth celebrating, any day of the year.