Tag Archives: Opinions

Liberated Woman… Or Not

“I am liberated enough to know that I like to stay at home.”

 

I said that to myself, and maybe other people, a few months back. I think I might have even put it up on facebook as a status, who can remember.  But I’ve been thinking about it recently.

 

Do I want a job?  Yes.  Can I get one at this exact moment in time? No, because my visa status is currently nebulous and ‘wonky’.  Have I worked for my living before? Yes. Have I worked and cleaned and cared for another person? Yes.  Did I enjoy it? Not in the slightest.  I have been in the workforce and I have been a stay-at-home-something.  And to be honest, I think I know myself enough to realize that I like a balance of both.

 

I do enjoy having a job, going to work and being with coworkers that are not completely crazy.  That is enjoyable.  But I also like a lazy rainy afternoon at home, cleaning the kitchen so that I can attempt a new recipe.

 

For my 30th Birthday this year, E and I went halves on some brand new kitchen goodies. A dutch oven, pie dish, quiche pan, etc.  I was ecstatic!  We’ve bought a new set of dishes, new silverware, and just recently I was gifted n electric hand mixer for hannukah.  I can’t even tell you how super excited I was! I giggled like a little girl when we got into the car with my new present!  And then today, I decided to bust it out of it’s confining box and whip up something delicious!

 

So today I was in my kitchen, barefoot, complete with an awesome apron that I bought from Andrea’s  OpenSky shop about a year ago.  I was not in a skirt or a dress, and there was not a string of pearls around my neck either.  But I was humming and happy and boiling up sweet potatoes and sifting together flour and baking soda, all to make a delicious (I hope!) sweet potato bread.  It’s in the oven now so I can’t quite give you guys a verdict, but I can say that the apartment smells fantastic!

 

After a weekend of cleaning the apartment top to bottom, rearranging furniture, and having friends over for boardgames, a nice relaxing day today spent in the kitchen is just how I wanted my day to go.

 

I read some forums online and I see all these people, mostly men, talking about how a woman needs to be treated equal to a man in all ways.  And I like the sentiment, but sometimes things can get a bit overzealous.  Of course, there are others who say that a woman’s place is in the kitchen.  And while I like my kitchen, I prefer to think that I can be other places as well.

 

I think, and this is probably going to get me some crazy thoughts, but I think that in most “Western” societies a woman’s place is wherever she damn well wants it to be.

 

For me?  I like being home. I like being in the kitchen. I like cooking up meals and watching E eat them and enjoy them.  I actually like cleaning the house, some times. And yes, I like going out and earning my own money.  The two do not have to be mutually exclusive. I can be a strong liberated woman while baking a cake.

 

Those are just my thoughts of the day so far.  Now I’m going to go curl up with a hot mug of tea and play some violent video games while waiting for my baking project to come out of the oven.

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Clarity

So yesterday’s post is what most of my friends would call ‘a hot mess’.  And I’m sure it got some reactions from pretty much anybody that read it.  Today, I’m a bit more focused, less emotional, and more informed.  So let me try this again with a bit more clarity.

 

First, yesterday was the most emotional I think I’ve been while writing a blog post and I think that came through in the writing, but in case that it didn’t, let me put this here.  That blog post was a purely emotional response to something that I will explain a bit later in this one.  And if you can read that post and not sense that it is not a logical thought out, reasoned essay, then you have been spending too much time on the internet and you need a break to readjust your compass.

 

Second, Abuse is wrong.  Any form of abuse.  Any form.  No, even that one.  It is wrong.  And the appropriate consequences should be taken.  Sandusky has been arrested.  The President and Athletic Director and Coach Paterno have been fired.  And there is a grand jury investigation, and i’m sure many other investigations as well, going on to find out even more of the truth than what is being reported.  Only once that is done cane the final appropriate actions be taken.   Should JoePa have not only reported what he was told, but also have followed it up?  Absolutely.  There is no doubt in my mind that in his position as head coach for a team of young men, he should have not only reported it, but followed up and pursued the charges until something was done.  He didn’t, and so he has been fired.

 

And he should have been.  That was the correct decision.  But, it’s still not a happy one.

 

Please, spare me your moral outrage for just a bit and go with me, ok?

 

Coach paterno has been the coach at Penn State Football for something like 60 years.  He has helped thousands of young men stay in school, complete their education, and move on to different and better lives, whether that was academic or professional sports.  He has, overall, been a force of good and positive change in the lives of thousands. Perhaps tens of thousands.  For those of us that grew up watching Penn State Football, there was no difference between the team and the man, between the Lions and the Coach.  In a world of sports where soon everything became about the promotion, the money, the getting to the pros and how big and fast and strong you were, in some ways, Coach Paterno was still one of the ‘good guys’, the ones that encouraged going to classes and doing things the old way.

 

Yesterday, and the days leading up to that, everything along those lines came crashing down.   This man that we had known all of our lives as a ‘good guy’ came crashing off the pedestal.  A friend of mine and I were discussing it and we came to this somewhat decent comparison.  It was like finding out that Batman liked killing, that cheetara was sleeping with Mumra, and that Splinter suddenly developed a taste for Turtle Soup.  And that the Green Ranger was actually a putty.   There was one last vestige of brief nostalgic childhood innocence left in a sport that has changed even since I was a child.  And this week that was destroyed before my eyes.

 

So yes, I was emotional yesterday.  I was a five year old that just got told about Santa and the easter bunny and the tooth fairy.  I was that seven year old waiting backstage at a WWF event and seeing the Ultimate Warrior without his facepaint for the first time, or learning that the Undertaker really did have pupils.  It was a crushing blow to one last moment of innocence.

 

But, since this is the internet and the moral compass online is often set to Black or White, there are few areas of gray.  But I am going to stay in one.

 

I am sad to see the legacy of years of coaching and good tainted, tarnished and ruined by this.  I am sad to see the man that so many of us have grown up loving get tarred and feathered.  But I am outraged that the abuse has happened, did happen, and that so many victims had to live through it.  I am outraged that nothing more was done to protect children that were in the charge of not only the coaching staff, but also the university as a whole.

 

It is possible to be both.  Emotional reactions do not necessarily have to contradict logical reactions.  And most people are capable of feeling more than one thing at a time.

 

I got a comment on my blog yesterday, that I did not post up.  The commenter did not seem to be incredulous about most of anything that I wrote.  Of course I was accused of being a man, of having blinders on, and of being clueless.  Which, only one of those things was untrue yesterday.  I am not now, nor have I ever been a man.

 

But what the poster seemed the most incredulous about was my insistence on Beat Nebraska.  And reading back over the post, I think I can see why.   I was a bit rambling.

 

But let me try and clear things up.  Even without Coach paterno on the field, there is one thing that this football teams needs to do.  And that is on Saturday, they need to Beat Nebraska.  With or without Coach Paterno, they are still a football team.  They still have a game on Saturday, and they have a record to uphold and protect.  It was going to be inevitable that Coach Paterno not be on the sidelines one day, and even then the team has but one goal.  Win the game.

 

Now, they have even more of a reason to do so.  Football is life in Happy Valley, and now for the students, for the community, life goes on as it should, while the investigation goes on as it should.  And there is still going to be a football game on saturday.

 

But life in Happy Valley will never be the same.  Saturday mornings will never be the same, or as almost innocent as they were.  And for that, for that I am sad.

 

 

Go State!

Remembrance

of course I remember where I was that morning.  Like most 20 somethings on the East Coast I was desperately trying to ignore the sunlight coming into the window in my dorm room.  I was groggily trying to figure out why my phone was ringing. I hadn’t set my alarm, I didn’t have a morning class.  It was my mom.  Now, when you get a call on a tuesday morning just after the start of your second year of university, something is going on.  Mom insisted that I turned on the television.  Luckily I had one in the room because the roommate had a TV, but we hadn’t gotten the cable hooked up yet so it was a fuzzy picture on channel 3 or 6 or 9 that I got in.  Something was going on in new York.  I couldn’t really tell what.  Mom had to go, but now that I was up and watching tv, she felt a bit better.  My parents always had that opinion that if there was history on, I had better be watching it.  I’m grateful for that for the most part.

 

The picture quality was really crap and my brain wasn’t fully processing what had happened yet, just that something had flown into the world trade center.  Well ok, that’s happened before.  One of the flatmates came into the dorm suite talking about something happening in DC, but again, still half asleep university student.  I remember wanting breakfast. I mean if you’re going to be up at this ungodly hour in the morning, you should at least have some food in your system.  So I got dressed and headed over to the campus center, turning off the tv in my bedroom just after the second plane hit.  Still, not quite registering anything other than I wanted Mike (the grill guy in the food court) to make me some pancakes.  Dude made wickedly awesome pancakes. And maybe a fried egg.  Seriously, guy was good at his job.  So I walk downstairs, well ok, I lie. I took the elevator because I was living on the 7th floor and I’m not a very active person at this age.  Even today I would take the elevator for 7 flights of stairs.   All of the security guards on the front desk and the staff from the housing office are gathered around a TV behind the desk, their mouths open and their eyes wide.  But for me, all I want is pancakes.

 

So I trudge my body across the street to the campus center and there I run into Mike T from the theatre.  Now Mike and I have worked together in the theatre for a bit, and we had some summer classes together, we’re both english majors and he’s cute.  Of course he’s destined to become my best friend at University, but that all happens later.  He asks me if I know what happened, I mumble something about a plane flying into the Twin towers and I was going to get some pancakes.  Holy crap, I really wanted those pancakes.  So I offered to buy Mike some coffee and maybe breakfast (He was a commuter so he’d been conscious for at least a bit, but not yet awake since he’d only had two cups of coffee so far).  So we walk into the campus center and are stunned at what we see.  Everybody is standing around the ‘Pit”, a large area that looks down from the main floor of center onto the lower floor in a kind of mezzanine type fashion.  Down in the Pit there’s a big screen TV.  And this big screen TV is blasting in full color and sound that which I could barely see on my little tv back in the dorm room.  The Towers were both hit (Had I seen a second plane?) and they were both smoking and fire, and holy crap was that a body? And then it happened.

 

I was standing around the pit, my soon to be best friend at my side, surrounded by the other students of this urban campus of every color, religion, background, gender and we all stood and silently watched as the towers fell.  Well, the first one was met with silence, and then the crying started.  And we stood there, our eyes glued onto the television, still not believing what we were seeing.  This was some new viral marketing campaign for some new movie.  Next thing was Toby Maguire was going to swoop into the shot as Spiderman and save the day and the joke was going to be on all of us. No. The second tower fell and the place went numb.  Oh sure, there were people cursing, swearing, nobody could believe what had just happened.  We were staring in shock, stunned into silence and tears.  I think i might have grabbed hold of Mike’s hand or arm, but I don’t remember.  I also don’t remember how long we all stood there for, but I know what snapped us out of it.

 

Cal M, the campus’s events coordinator and head of Student Life stepped out in front of the big screen TV down in the pit.  At first there were yells at him to move, we needed to see what was happening in the world, but he quieted us down  and informed us that as of right now, there were more planes in the air and nobody knew where they were or where they were going.  Our campus was right across the river from Philadelphia.  On a good day from the 10th floor, you could look across the river and see old William Penn pissing on the city.  If they had attacked New York, what was to stop them from attacking the Liberty Bell? Independence Mall? The Naval Yard?  We were all told in no uncertain terms to go home.  If you lived on campus, go to the dorms. If you lived off campus, go home. If you lived on campus, but had someplace else to go, go there. But we were not to stay on campus, classes were cancelled and the school was shut.

 

I never got my pancakes.

 

I remember going back to the dorms, and gathering up some clothes, telling my flatmates that school was closed and that I was going to Jimmy’s house.  I passed on Cal’s message of “don’t be an idiot” to my flatmates, grabbed my cell phone (a delightful virgin mobile prepay) and headed out the door.  I climbed into my car and started calling Jimmy’s house.  His mom answered and I told her to wake Jim up and plop him in front of the television, I was coming home. I had just the one last stop to make before getting there.  For a few months, since April, I had been working part time at one of the grocery stores near Jimmy’s house as a cashier.  Well, we weren’t so much working as we were on strike, and had been for about two weeks at this point.  I wanted to make sure the people on the picket line knew what was going on.  They did, so I headed to Jimmy’s parents place.  I found him, and his mom, on the couch watching the television.  He was still in his pajamas and his hair was still in that awful state of bedhead that just was unfixable.  I dropped my bag in the kitchen and went and sat down.

 

I don’t remember really much else of that day, other than watching Television.  I can’t remember when it was revealed that the terrorists were arabs and not Timothy McVeigh back from the dead to live in my nightmares again.  I remember being confused, scared, and uncertain.  I remember sitting in that living room, watching the television until it became too late to stay awake.  And then waking up the next day and going back to the television. I also remember the days after “That Day”.  I remember going back to campus and listening to the angry Wrath of America and God speeches from my theatre mentor.  I remember all of our muslim and arabic students walking around campus in groups, for their own protection.  I remember the signs, and the posters.  And I remember that moment when the first plane in three days flew over the campus, and everybody stopping, staring, and forgetting how to breathe.

 

I remember going to the picket line a few days later, on the weekend.  I remember the people who had only a week before been bringing us coffee and pizza and sandwiches were now driving by, cursing at us, spitting at us, throwing water balloons and trash and whatever else they could hurl out of their vehicles at us.  I remember the yelling, the angry, high-pitched screaming confrontations of people who thought we were being selfish because so many people had died.  I remember the cashier with the voice of an angel standing with a bullhorn near her mouth and singing the National Anthem and every other patriotic song she could think of while being screamed at for being lazy and a whore.  I remember the huge American flags at half staff and attached to cars, being run ragged and tearing to shreds in the high-speed world of the interstates.  I remember classes starting up again, and the professors saying their pieces and then starting to lecture.  I remember starting work on the next show at the theatre, and I remember going to my dorm every night, thankful for the lack of a television.  And I remember the footage.

 

But I think that this is where I have to diverge from a normal “I remember” post.  I remember all of this, I recall it all as though it were yesterday.  But gladly, thankfully, it wasn’t.  No.  It was ten years ago.  My god I can’t believe that it was ten years ago.  The pain of that morning is still there, the terror of watching those buildings fall, the anger that was everywhere around, and the uncertainty, they’re all still there.  But as with most things in life, with most grief, the pain is less sharp.  There is still a tang of bitterness in my mouth, but it’s not the overwhelming searing ache that it used to be.  And, it was ten years ago.  Look at me, where I am now.

 

If you had asked me ten years ago where I would be today, let me tell you how different the answer would be.  I would have been Rabbi Sarah Priest.  A Jewish woman married to a Roman Catholic man who had gone to seminary school and was a Rabbi.  I would have been married eight years by now, and probably have had two kids.  We would have been living in some city, probably philadelphia and I would have a synagogue that I ran and still done work for a local theatre. Had you asked me about my future on September 10, 2001, that’s probably what you would have been told.

 

But here it is, September 10th, 2011 and I am not a Rabbi. I am not married to a Roman Catholic man with the last name of Priest.  I have no children, and I am not in Philadelphia.  I’m in new Zealand, with a man that I love and he loves me.  He’s not religious, and I’m more spiritual than Religious as it is.  There are no children, and no plans for any in the immediate future.  This was never where my life was ever going to go back then, but my god am I glad it did.

 

So yes, I remember.  and yes, I feel the remembrance deep in my heart and in my body.  No, I don’t think I will ever forget where I was on that morning, or the sequence of events, or the fact that I never did get those pancakes.  But I will also remember that for better or worse that day shaped my country, my family, my friends, and my life and all of that together with all of who I am has led me to be here.  In a country that I love as much as my own, with a man I love as much as life, and happy for the first time in about ten years.

 

For the first anniversary of this horrible day and thing, I can say that I will be better than I was on that day.  I will be happier than I was. I will be ok.

 

I can still remember without being depressed. I can still honor the fallen without wallowing in misery, and I can still live my life as I want to because even though it was a tragedy, life does go on.

 

God bless those who were killed, God bless those who showed up to help.  God bless those who are still struggling to find a place in this new world, and God bless those who are sick and dying because they did show up.  God bless the United States of America, and God bless this beautiful world.

 

And God Bless You.

To Make the Best Better

image courtesy texas A&M Ag Extension

 

“I pledge

My Head to Clearer Thinking,

My Heart to Greater Loyalty,

My Hands to Larger Service and,

My Health to Better Living for

My club, My community,

My Country, and My World”

That is the pledge that I took every Tuesday night in the basement of a small community church, right after saying the Pledge of Allegiance.  Those are the words of the 4-H Pledge and saying them now to myself while I type this up means a whole heck of a lot more to me, than when I said them all those years ago.

It’s been twenty years now since I first joined 4-H, with the Broadkill Kool Kats gathered in that little church in Milton, Delaware.  It’s been ten years since I’ve been active in any 4-H events at all.  But I can still remember that pledge, and holding my fingers to my head, heart, outstretched in front of me, and then to my sides every week.

When I first joined 4-H, it was mostly because my parents wanted to get me into something extra curricular, but I refused to join the Girl Scouts.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being a Brownie or a Girl Scout.  But for me, there was one major flaw.  No boys.  I had grown up surrounded by guys, and in that turn I found them easier to befriend, the thought of being in a group with a bunch of girls mortified me.  In some ways, it still does.

I didn’t appreciate back then, the good that 4-H did for me.  Even when I was leaving the organization upon turning eighteen, I still had not quite grasped just how important it all had been in shaping who I am today.  In giving me the outlook on life that I have currently.

Everything started on a personal level, with project books every year. I hardly ever finished mine, but that didn’t mean that they weren’t useful.  Everything from animal care to geneaology was offered and I had friends who raised chickens, sheep, and pigs, while I worked on sewing projects and making bread.  As a whole for the County we put on Horse shows for local equestrian enthusiasts and students, we cleaned up beaches of trash and filth, we had nights of food tastings and competitions, including my favourite event where each participant chose a country and made a traditional food from that nation.  Everything was geared towards helping children to learn.  To become better adults in their later years.

And what happens during that awkward transition time, when you change from being a child to being an adolescent? That horribly painful time when your body doesn’t work right, everything is changing and nobody is nice to anybody else?  In 4-H, you become a Junior Leader, and you get responsibilities.  While other places are unsure of how to treat adolescents who are trying to become young adults, 4-H is there with the answer, treat them like young adults.

We were given classes on inclusion, very basic psychology, life saving measures including basic first aid and CPR certification.  And we were entrusted with the care and oversight of other children.  We became camp counsellors, the people that you drop your kids off to in the morning and pick up in the afternoon in the middle of summer.  As Junior Leaders, we were given the trust that we could handle these other kids, and the confidence in ourselves to make the program on our own.  There was adult supervision, always, but only for emergencies.  Everything else was handled by the Junior Leaders.

And we handled it just fine.  With responsibility comes Maturity, and with maturity comes something else.  Some other attribute that is hard to place, but is nonetheless knowable to others.   Being in 4-H, while I didn’t realize it back then, and it has taken me several years to open my eyes on it now, has not only made me who I am today, but has enabled me to make it to today.

I am getting ready to turn thirty years old.  I’ve hit a lot of bumps in my adult life, but I’ve always seemed to bounce back from them, somehow.  Currently, I am living in New Zealand and starting my life over again.  I have found myself repeatedly typing the same words while looking and applying for a job down here.  I want to have a positive impact on my community.

I no longer want a job just for myself or for the money.  I want a career that will mean something to somebody else.  A position that will help myself move forward, of course, but will also serve the greater good, the better purpose.  And up until recently, it just made sense, that was how I was.  But then a friend’s son started getting bullied at school and she was looking for something to help him with his self esteem.  I immediately suggested signing him up for 4-H.  And I made a very bold statement in doing so, I quite honestly told her that 4-H had saved my life.

It seemed so out of the blue, and yet, it was true. I owe my life to 4-H, both the organization, my County, and my Club.  My fellow members, my Leaders and Junior Leaders, all of them helped to make sure that I not only survived the living hell that was adolescence, but also have helped to shape me into the adult that I have become.

Without the sense of community, trust, and leadership skills that I learned and picked up during my time with 4-H, I am not certain how I would have made it this far, and I know that I will rely on those skills, those teaching moments to move myself, my community, my country (both of them), and my world further to make them stronger, safer, happier places.

I don’t owe everything of who I am now to this Organization, but I owe enough of myself to say thank you.  And to eagerly, heartily, and readily recommend to anybody with children that 4-H is one of the best options out there to help your child through a difficult time.  They will find friendships, they will find laughter, and they will come away from it all knowing that they can make the world a better place.

-Sarah K

Broadkill Kool Kats, Sussex County 4-H, Delaware, USA

1990-1999

Heart Kiwis

I’ve been in this country for just under a fortnight, and I can already say with definite truth, that I love Kiwis.

 

Love them.

 

Not a single person has been rude to me, insulting, or even given me a dirty look.  Not one shopkeeper or bystander on a corner has said one thing crosswise to me, or been anything but endearingly helpful.

 

To my very limited access of people and my small interactions with them, I can gladly say that I am happy to be here in this country, and I doubt I could have found a more pleasant place to move to.

 

Even with the earthquake this week and all the horrible devastation that has brought and the national sorrow that is palpable and felt even by myself, the Kiwis I’ve interacted with have had nothing but this undercurrent of good humor.

 

There is an overall attitude of inevitability that seems to be innate in Kiwis.  Yes, this tragedy happened.  Yes, it was a tragedy.  But we’ll move on, we’ll fix it, we’ll make it better.  I was watching the new reports yesterday when one of the Australian Urban Rescue teams showed up, and the Kiwi reporter seemed to be so amazingly overwhelmed at the kindness of the Aussies for being here, so astounded that they responded so quickly, it was catching in his throat that this realization that everything would be alright, that the Kiwis had friends.

 

There’s a bit of, self deprecation that seems inherent in nearly all communications with Kiwis.  There’s an underlying current in the tone and diction that says “Yes, we know we’re not from Australia, but we’re really just a likable”.    It’s a black humor, dark and sometimes misleading, but it’s there.  This feeling of being not quite the best, but the best at what they do.

 

I love it.  That sense of humor, the sense of knowing that they might not be considered top notch by the world, or even be remembered by the world farther than Australasia, but they know what they are good at, they know what they have to offer, and they’re more than happy to offer it.

 

I hope I’m being clear.  I’m not trying to poke fun at the Kiwis, especially not now.  But their ability to poke fun at themselves, even if they don’t know that they’re doing it, even if they don’t see the little tendencies of appearing as the younger children that I seem to be picking up on, it’s there.

 

And it makes this place even more delightful than before.  Especially for me.  I seem to have found a nation full of people with the same self-deprecating humor that I have found in myself.

 

I love it here.  And the I love the Kiwis.

Rhetoric

There are lots of thoughts and reaction that happened to me after I woke up yesterday morning to see that a congresswoman had been shot.

 

Anger, fear, irritation, sadness.

 

And yes, there was some major instantaneous reaction against the right-wing in my country and the political drama and troubles that can be stirred up by people in power.

 

But after thinking about it, and thinking long and had about it all together, I have come to a rather dramatic conclusion.

 

Dude was crazy.

 

yes, it probably was helped and fueled by the wild and crazy rhetoric and drama and anger on both sides of the political spectrum in this country.  Yes, it was probably aided by whatever dog whistles he heard or didn’t hear.

 

But it doesn’t change the fact that he was crazy to start with.  He needed help.  And according to most reports, he’d been needing help for a few years.

 

He didn’t get the help that he needed.  There was no apparatus readily available to help him.  Mental health in this country is still under the same stigma as it used to be when women were all classified as ‘hysterical’ and everybody was put into sanitariums.

 

Health care in this country is abominable but will hopefully start to get better.  Mental Health care is even worse and it needs to be looked at even more closely now.

 

This shooter, the shooter at Fort Hood last year, Timothy McVeigh, the man that killed Dr. Tiller, all of them could have benefited from better mental health care.

 

Would they all have snapped anyway?  Possibly.  But there is no way to really be sure.  How many more tragedies can be prevented by making mental health care not only less expensive, but also less stigmatized.

 

Yes, there will be some flak as a result of angry rhetoric and probably even some pushing for a reexamination of the gun laws.  But one of the important things to take away from this, as with almost all of the previous shootings, tragedies, and assassinations in this nation.

 

People be crazy.

 

 

These are my thoughts at the moment.  and I’m sure that they will change and evolve over time.

 

But the other important thing to remember. The Congresswoman was not the only victim.  There are several others dead, and many more wounded.