Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Opinionation - Sitting Down to Stand Up

I have spent the better part of the weekend apologizing to every friend of color that I have.  Most days of this past year, I have been embarrassed pretty much for the entire human race – I haven’t discriminated.  Even in watching the Trump support movement unfold, I have not discriminated.  After this weekend, I’m calling out the general white population for their lack of empathy, their blatant ignorance and rampant disregard for their fellow Americans.

It was the sit-down heard around the world.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s the greatest sit-down since Rosa Parks

Colin Kaepernick made a quiet choice to stand up – or take a seat – and express his feelings on a matter that has been plaguing our nation.  He said:

"There's people being murdered unjustly and not being held accountable.  This stand wasn’t for me. This is because I’m seeing things happen to people that don’t have a voice. People that don’t have a platform to talk and have their voices heard and affect change. I’m in a position where I can do that, and I’m gonna do that for people who can’t.” 

He didn’t make statements beforehand, there were no announcements.  He thought, and he acted peacefully, and he put himself at risk with his career because his felt that strongly about wrongdoings in our society, among his fellow humans.  If we are fortunate, every one of us has a moment in our lifetime that doing the right thing becomes more important than money or other consequences.

And now people have lost their collective minds over it.  He has been called every name in the book, many of them of a racist nature – thereby proving his point.  His actions were immediately declared a disrespect to military – further proving his point.  He has even been vilified as a “radical Islamic supporter.”  (that one wins the award for Most Ridiculous).  It is apples and oranges to say that he is committing offense to our military; the freedoms our soldiers fight and put their lives at risk for include the right to protest.  Even more ironic are the labels of "stupid," "idiot," "dumber than...." (take your pick), because most probably don't realize that he was a 4.0 student.  I could only laugh sadly at those dismissive "armchair quarterback" comments of "like that privileged asshole's ever been oppressed."  You really think that a mixed race adopted kid from the Midwest never experienced discrimination? 

Why is it every time that someone takes a stand for something, it has to be against something that is a far stretch away? 

Then everyone wants to throw in his salary, his upbringing, his color or lack thereof, and of course everyone thinks he should have done it their way.  Money doesn’t solve everything, so throwing his at it isn’t going to solve problems.  Using his celebrity to give voice to those who feel they have none – now that’s doing something.  And it worked.  While this was a personal decision, the media and social platforms did they do best; they bit.  And people are talking. 

This isn’t the first athlete to make a statement during a pivotal moment.  Think Tommie Smith and John Carolos during the 1968 Olympic ceremony.  How about the beloved Muhammad Ali? 

But according to NFL fans, Kaepernick needs to shut the hell up and do his job.  Well, he did.  He played the game he was paid to play, and has continued to do so.  The team management wasn’t scrambling to defend him until everyone went batshit crazy. 
The comments that I have been reading on all of the outlets, of people I know and don’t, have been so vile that it sickens me to be of the same species.  I’m not surprised because it’s a way of thinking that I grew up with, that I know too well.  I’m just disappointed that it seems, between Trump’s encouragement and the breakdown of political correctness – something I’m not always in favor of myself – it is most certainly not improving in any way.  We cannot have disagreements about politics without people resorting to name-calling and vicious personal attacks.  The internet only feeds the fire because for the non-celebrities, there are no consequences.  For Kaepernick, there were consequences, and he still chose to face them head on. 

It’s a statement that I have been making for years, in my own small way, regarding the National Anthem.  That line about “land of the free” has always been a stitch in my britches because only recently have we made more advanced strides in civil liberties, but still too many have those freedoms denied in various ways by fellow citizens, by the legal and economic systems, by ways some of us cannot even imagine.  Yet there is still just so much anger.  Every time I ever wanted to sit out the song, I didn't have the nuts because it was always in a very "patriotic" crowd.  And our ideas of patriotism have become quite twisted since that cold September day.

I have never liked anything about football.  It may be a brutal sport, but it’s also kind of a sissy one.  So much drama all the time for a bunch of guys grabbing on each other in shiny uniforms and always crying foul or amendments or whatever.  What I do love is an inspirational sports story, and I am a fan of sports heroes.

Right now, I am Colin Kaepernick’s biggest fan.

I highly recommend that everyone - including myself - take a good hard look in their mirrors to see if we are putting in even one bit of the effort and courage that he has displayed, but more importantly – take a harder look at why we aren’t.

For an excellent take on the reactions to this story, take a look at this column by Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

We Need a Little Christmas

Haul out the holly, put up the tree before my spirit falls again…
I don’t know in what scientific world red and green together become blue, but as the chill of winter settles in, it seems to upset the entire color wheel.  Gold and silver become sacrilegious, red becomes merry and green brings us peace in a softly lit pine tree. 
It’s the time of year that we wander in and out of lost dreams, holidays past and wonder just a little more about what the future holds.  We reach out for love, whether holding more tightly or search for it with desperation in a hanging sock, a starry night or in a ribbon wrapped box.  Memories abound like scurrying elves and hang about like mistletoe, surrounding us in romantic sorrow.
It seems that each year the ringing of the bells becomes more faint than ever before, that the angels fly higher out of reach.  Maybe it’s that my perspective continues to grow heavier . 
“What are you doing for Thanksgiving?”  It’s the common question on everyone’s mind and they expect polite, standard answers in return.
“Surviving.  Because that’s apparently what I do.”  It is no secret that it is my least favorite day of the year.  My thankfulness is rudely intruded upon by my ungracious family.  Their way of ringing in the season is to let me be the turkey on the table each year as I’m poked or prodded or even ignored.  Maybe the latter part is the blessing in disguise.  Over the years I have created my own family and perhaps I have a deeper appreciation for them because they were chosen rather than handed over. 
As December rolls in, the days grow shorter and my longing for something meaningful takes hold.  Having less and less money at the end of each year doesn’t make it any merrier.  This year Roger and I have agreed to lighten up on the gift giving and spend time away from our hectic lives instead.  We’ll take two days next week and visit the ocean.  Maybe we’ll revisit each other too. 
A few weeks ago, as I looked ahead to my many projects, it occurred to me finally that I may have a habit of taking on too much.  I always think I can handle anything that comes along because that’s what others tell me, but it’s occurring to me that I’m not being fair to those I make commitments to.  I don’t like to let others down, I’m so familiar with that spiral.  It’s like when we stop believing in Santa; one disappointment leads to another until we no longer fall asleep in front of the chimney waiting for something to appear.  Some people will shrug it off like it’s nothing but others will miss that magic for the rest of their lives. 
One such project came along only recently.  I connected with a woman through the social media post of a local journalist who had shared Christine’s story.  She has traveled a harrowing journey through depression and was ready to end her life when she sent a “farewell letter” to Frank, as though she had nothing more to lose by opening up.  I felt drawn to her when she stated that she had the idea to write down her story.  Knowing she had a long road ahead of her, I offered to help where I could.  As I’ve fallen further behind in my current work, it felt as though I’d done her a disservice but promising I could do this.  When she recently visited the Bay Area, we made arrangements to meet.  I was wracked with nerves.  What if we didn’t hit it off?  What if this was too big for either of us?  How would I explain that to her or admit it to myself?  The night before we were to meet, a thought came to me at 3am as many thoughts do and I emailed the newsman and told him that Christine would be here and would he like to meet her?  Then, after the note had been sent, I immediately wondered, had I done that for her benefit or for mine? 
I was quite surprised when he replied in the morning confirming he would be there.  Suddenly the day became even more important as I feared what her reaction might be.  Was I betraying her trust, her privacy?  
As we talked, I felt more at ease because I knew where she was coming from.  The loneliness, the hurt, the anger.  We weren’t far apart in age, or in our lives even if they seemed vastly different at that particular moment.  I asked her why she’d written that letter.  “I just wanted to talk to someone who didn’t know me.”
Then Frank arrived and she still had no idea.  Butterflies hit me as I said “So, I have a surprise for you…”
“What’s that?”
“Turn around.”  He stood behind her and Christine burst into tears as he wrapped her in a hug. 
“You saved my life.” she cried.  It was humbling to be in the presence of that.  Even if I failed in giving what she needed after today, I had done something right.  This was not about me, but in bringing her one moment of acceptance from a world that had betrayed her.  That we all brought each other together, my life would be richer going forward. 
Bells ring from near and far every day in every corner of the world.  They peal more loudly when accompanied by wreaths and gifts and cheered spirits.  We don’t all feel that magic, some of us have to go in search of it and some have lost our way for what might be forever.  It’s not always a scientific world, nor is it surrounded always by frosted marshmallow clouds, but it is indeed our snowball that grows. 
As I look into the eyes of those around me who wish for better and brighter things, it lessens my own sadness just enough to find my spirit.  Today I let Capra whisk me away to Bedford Falls where Clarence spoke once again to my inner demons.  A few days ago, I witnessed a room full of people coming together in faith and charity to make a better Christmas for so many others because I asked them to. 
When my husband and I reach our pier, we will walk hand in hand to the end of the world to stand beneath the brightest, tallest, most magical tree in the entire endless sky. It may not really be the tallest, but that’s my perspective as each year closes, the lights dotted with the faces of those around me.  It is a universe that grows with each day that I live.  It is then that blue gives way to the lining of silver amongst the red and the green.  I will listen for the sweetness of the bells and count my coins of gold, and look for someone to pass them on to, because the glitter and shine is in the sharing. 
For I’ve grown a little sadder, grown a little older.  We need a little Christmas now…

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Event - 2015 Annual Toy Drive!

It's beginning to look a lot like... well, let's not utter the 'C' word just yet.  It's still early, we're all still in a pumpkin hangover spirit and gearing up for turkey.  But it's on the horizon, and it's time to start making plans! 

This year, The Bay Area Collective and Rainfall Press are proud to announce our annual toy drive Dinner and Comedy Event on Sunday, December 13th at 5pm!  Tickets are on sale now (pre-purchase required) for only $20 plus a toy - this price includes a pre-selected dinner (yes, there will be vegetarian options available), a non-alcoholic beverage, and a comedy show featuring the talents of hometown favorites Stephen Turner and Sam Marcoux - more to be added soon!

This is your opportunity to help out a great cause and have some fun doing it.  Invite your family and friends!  All proceeds and toys go straight in the hands of the U.S. Marines, who will be at the event for a meet and greet and to take back your generous donations.  There will be a raffle, too!  You can win great prizes from local restaurants, authors and artists.

If you can't make it but would still like to help, we're accepting donations via check or PayPal as well as Toys R Us gift cards.  Again, all tax deductible!

Contact Kymberlie Ingalls at kymberlie@rainfallpress.com for more information