Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Of -ist things.

It happened a month or so ago, but I guess I didn't really think about it until now.

I was at work, chatting with a customer. I do this; it helps pass the time and the managers smile upon me, thinking I'm trying to sell more stuff. (I'm not.) I was talking to a young Hispanic woman who was trailing a child or two; we got to talking about the difficulties of finding child care. It came up that in addition to working full time and taking care of her children, she was also going to school.

"Oh, neat!" I said. (I do always try to support and encourage those going to school for most anything.) "What are you going for?"

And I knew as she answered that I expected 'cosmetology'...

..and bless her for it, she replied 'Law enforcement'.

I grinned a great big happy (and, alas, surprised-looking) grin. And we talked about that for a while. She's planning to work her way up to detective. I told her that I thought that was absolutely brilliant, and wished her luck.

Then went home and thought about it.

Young. Visibly not well-off (shopping at Walmart, after all). Hispanic. Female.

And I assumed she was going in for cosmetology.


Racist. Sexist. Classist. Ageist. Not pretty words. I went and did it, though, all of the above.

...I know a number of people who will claim 'but I'm not racist', 'I'm not sexist', 'I'm not...' whatever is the topic of discussion. To which I say: possible, but I bet you're wrong. I bet that, somewhere underneath in the recess of your brain, you still make the same dumbassed, unsupported, just-plain-wrong assumptions I made above.

I think that people fight the concept of being racist for a lot of reasons. Self-image. Image in front of others. They don't want to be like the Nazis, the KKK, or that guy (you know that guy...) with the beer belly and the ugly hat who stands in line at the store and bitches about them niggers. They don't want to be horrible, evil people.

I don't think being racist (sexist, et cetera) makes you a horrible evil person. I do think it's wrong, mind you -- both in the factual sense and in the moral sense. But to deny it for your own mental and emotional well-being doesn't help the matter any.

If, instead, you stop and say, okay, I did that; it was wrong; I need to stop and think about why and how so I can try not to do it again next time; if you admit, yeah, that was racist, I am racist; then, then, you can take a step towards fixing it. Towards being not-racist, or at least less-racist.

Or sexist, or whatever.

First step is admitting to the problem. Doesn't that sounds familiar?


This is scattered and weird. I'll likely have clearer thoughts on it later. I expect some people will disagree with me, possibly fairly vehemently. Likely some folks will think I'm seeking expiation, a cheap release from white middle-class guilt; it's entirely possible they're right, too. If it looks like I'm trying to condone racism, read again. (If it still looks like that, accept that I'm not and I can't type for shit.)

Almost feel odd posting about racism as a while person...but if we don't all talk about it, how will it get better?

More later.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Well, hail.

No, really.

It started out rain. Then looked like sleet, but it's been too warm for sleet, y'know? Then the next thing I knew it was hailing marbles and I would have sworn Santa's boys had got confused and were tapdancing on my roof.

Big marbles.

Really big marbles.

The first shot I took while it was still hailing -- crouched in the dubious shelter of the balcony half-wall, trying to fit as much of me as I could under my hat, and still getting nailed in the butt by FREAKING BIG HAILSTONES.

The second one? About twenty minutes after it stopped, once I'd had time to get the first set of shots off my camera. TWENTY MINUTES.

Holy cow.

Then this happened:

See, I'm from eastern Pennsylvania. We don't get tornadoes. So I was all like, wow, look at those swirling clouds, I wish I had a video camera. That siren? The fire sirens always go off during exciting storms.

...no, dummy, that's the tornado siren.

They don't have those where I come from.

...so yeah, anyway, it didn't actually turn into one, and even though I'm on the second floor and have no basement, I have a plan: grab the rat and head for the laundry room. It's halfway buried in the ground and well-protected and about as safe as I'm going to get. The cats are all in closets and under beds anyway, so they're on their own.

It's quiet now, and Tim has said that the birds are a better predictor of imminent excitement than anything else, so as long as they're still chirpy and happy I'm not worried.

In the meantime, one last photo. This one's for Tim.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Buy Local, and a contemplation of those I've left behind

Yesterday was my last day.

I can't say I'll miss working at Walmart, but I will miss the people. Truly, some of the best folks I've known. Cheri, Shawna, Sandra, Karen, DJ, Kirt and Jeff, Tom...many I haven't named. Leanna who inspired Leanna's Favourite Milk Bath (lavender, chamomile and powdered milk). Peg, who tried my Long Day Working salts when I gave her some for a hurt back and asked why I wasn't selling the stuff -- then gave me an idea for how to lay out my labels. Louis, one of the first to actually buy my things -- from a mere description.

Good folks, all.

I've joked that one day I hope to be big enough that I can hire most of my former co-workers, for better salaries, better working conditions, better benefits than they get where they are. I'm not sure I'll ever get that big and I'm not sure I ever want to get that big but if I do, I will enjoy hiring them. They all deserve better than they get where they are now.

Just as I did...and just as everyone who works at Walmart does (save for those high up who perpetuate the system). Please, if you can afford to, if you can get there, if they're still there, if they haven't been driven out of business...shop local. Those little corner stores, the guy who fixes vacuums and lawn mowers, the kids selling lemonade on the side of the road for a quarter. Buy from them. Support them. Every little bit counts.

Because the money you spend is not just a purchase, it's an investment. If you buy at Walmart, you're supporting what they do, their business practices, the way they treat their employees. All of that money you spend there goes right back into building a world the way they want it to be. Not a pretty thought.

Note that I do not condemn those who must shop there, for reasons of finances or simple distance to another option. You're a victim of them as much as anything else! As am I, alas. Money's going to be very, very tight for a while. Once things are better, though...

But if there's another option, please take it. You won't only be helping the little corner store you're shopping at, you'll be helping me, and Cheri and Lewis, and Peg and Karen, Chris and Josh, Adam and Elizabeth, Anna and Tom, Max and Dorrain, Charlotte and Joe...all wonderful, worthy folks.

Please, do what you can.


So today is my first day of freedom. So far, so good -- I've got two orders ready to be shipped out, have caught up on _almost_ all my email, and worked up a new bath salts recipe and the label for it. My current plan is to put together a single-sheet catalog which I can put in with every order, and hand out at shows and stuff. Also useful for talking businesses into carrying my products.

Once that's done (should be tomorrow), I start driving around. 'Here! Buy my stuff!' We shall see.

Contemplating selling at an SCA event this weekend. Also contemplating taking the weekend the hell off. And going to church for the first time in far too long. I'm still aware of God's presence in the back of my mind, but it's been far, far too long and I need to change this.


Mom's visit was...strained. She worries, I get grumpy, she makes suggestions, I take them as orders, it all gets kinda not comfortable. I have to remind myself that she means well. She has to remind herself that I'm thirty-six.

We didn't kill each other, though. And I think she's somewhat reassured about what I'm doing here. She's seen how much I love it; she's seen the amunt of work I put into it. She's watched me sit down and think about the best way to do X (and helped me a few times). She knows I'm not just doing this on a lark. She knows I'm not deciding things randomly.

She's still worried, but she's a mom, you know?


We went driving up in the mountains and saw a sign that said 'Point of Geological Interest'. As basically the entire state is a Point of Geological Interest, we figured we should find out what actually merited a sign that said so. So we pulled off (the sign at the bottom of the ramp repeated Point of Geological Interest and pointed both ways, but we picked the right one) and wound up at Red Rocks.


Can't really do it justice, though.

I'm caught between being pleased at how well the amphitheatre fits in with the rest -- they really did a good job of making it suit its surroundings, and they did a lot to avoid disturbing what was already there -- and at the same time I'm a little sqitchy about its presence there. It's holy ground -- I know this, I didn't even have to research it or ask someone from a local tribe. I saw it, touched the rocks, and I knew.

But then, if we Anglos tried to leave alone every spot that was holy to the natives, we wouldn't have a lot of space left to live in. And for sure we wouldn't all fit back in Europe at this point.

But it still makes me a little squitchy.


Elliott, my big rat, died last week. Tuesday night he wasn't moving too well -- I took him out and held him, fed him a little bit. He mostly just rested against me. Wen it was time to go to bed I wrapped him in his hammock and laid him down next to his water bottle.

I was a little surprised when I checked the next morning to find out he was still alive. I took him out again and snuggled him for a couple hours before I had to go to work. Again he mostly just leaned against me, but he sort of twitched pretty hard every once in a while. I was worried he was going to go into convulsions but he didn't.

When I got home from work he was gone. Requisat in pace, big rat. I was glad to know you.


Remy's running around on the futon now, having a good time. I built him an obstacle course out of random stuff. He's fun, and funny. I'm glad to have him.


And that's the news from Lake Wobegone! Or something.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Well, that did it...

...I just gave my two weeks' notice.

For those just catching up, I work (worked, soon!) at Walmart, see. The Hell of American shopping. The antithesis of everything I value. (Okay, I do value money to an extent, but only because it buys me food and an apartment and books.)

It took working there to finally push me over the edge to starting my own business. So I suppose I owe them something. I'd planned to stay until I was making enough from Om Shanti Handcrafts to make it own my own. I'm not, yet...but I quit anyway.

I couldn't deal with the hypocrisy any more. The greed. The unfair trade practices and the rotten treatment of the employees. I could go into detail but most of you already know and if not, other people have written it better than I could.

So...I'm relieved. And scared. Now I have to make my business work. And I have to make it work now.

Anyone got words of encrouagement or wisdom? Advice? Am I nuts?

*deep breaths*


Just called my mom to let her know. Wasn't looking forward to it and, well, I was right. She's upset. She's terrified. Fundamentally she doesn't understand why -- how -- I could possibly leave a job without having another one already lined up.

She's never had a crappy job. She's never lived on her own. She's never been a risk-taker. She's also never been more than 'normally' sick in her life.

She's...not going to understand.

I still want her to understand and approve. I'm kind of still a kid that way. I guess it never really goes away, does it?


And, yeah, I'm scared. Of course I am -- I'm not stupid. I'm also relieved. I'll say 'hate' when I mean 'really dislike' -- 'I hate it when X happens' -- but this job, I _hated_ it. Hated. HATED.

Don't much like shouting, either, but sometimes ya gotta emphasize.

...but I can try to justify my decision all I want, and at the end of the day it was mine to make. I guess somewhere I'm still afraid of the inevitable scolding. Ahh well, that's long behind me now and maybe someday I'll even stop expecting it.


Anyway, prayers and words of encouragement are always appreciated. I love you guys; you keep me sane(ish). Be well, y'all.