Friday, June 8, 2012

Art on Lark

Come check out Art on Lark 2012 this Saturday, June 9th, 10am-5pm (tomorrow!).  There will be music, food, and of course, lots of art!  I'll be hawking my wares closer to Madison Ave, offering fine art prints, card prints, original artwork, handmade jewelry, hand sewn fabric bags, and, of course, sock monsters! 

I'm looking forward to the weather getting rain completely out of its system today so that tomorrow is bright and calm and balmy, with nonexistent wind action.  Let's see the power of positive thinking!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

An Opportunity for Consciousness and Community

My grandmother (my dad's mother and my last surviving grandparent) passed away last Saturday, so my sister and I flew down to Florida for her funeral.  On the flight down (and after being frisked by the TSA for having done nothing at all -- is this breach of constitutional rights something we're going to continue to allow to normalize?), I was worried about missing three days of work, and my sister had to remind me that in a year I will not remember missing work at all, but will remember attending my grandmother's funeral, putting family first, and reconnecting with my dad's side of the family, who I hadn't seen in over twenty years.  She always has a nice way of putting things into perspective. 

Over a day and a half of spending time with and getting to know family I never got to, I learned that my cousins and I actually have a lot in common, and they're really kinda cool and my family is pretty fun (and funny).  Though I may be mourning the loss of family for a period of twenty years plus, I have the opportunity now to create meaningful relationships with my aunts, my cousins, and their children.

After my grandmother's funeral and internment at Bushnell National Cemetery an hour and a half away (the wake was the evening before), my sister and I went back to the hotel to rest and print our boarding passes for the next morning.  Arriving in the hotel lobby, we realized the printer was out of paper.  The desk manager, a mid-aged African-American man, came over to see what we were doing with the computers, and we asked him for more paper to print our boarding passes.  He brought us paper and recognized from our story--which we offered freely--that we were our father's daughters (he apparently had had conversations with our dad about the loss of his mother), and he offered his condolences.  After printing our boarding passes, my sister and I noticed the complimentary happy hour beer keg offering next to us in the lobby.  It seemed a sort of free-for-all; guests were approaching and pouring cups of beer for themselves, and returning two or three times over, in front of the concierge/desk manager.  My sister then approached to pour herself a glass (now, my sister is six and half years older than I am, and I am nearly twenty-nine, and though we may look younger than we are, we both certainly look older than twenty), at which time the desk manager asked my sister for ID.  Who brings their ID with them from their room to the lobby to print boarding passes?  There was no signage near the keg saying the hotel would card anyone who looked under thirty, and my sister doesn't look under thirty in any event.  No one else was being carded.  So while all the other guests can freely pour themselves glass after glass of beer, my sister has to trek back to her room to get ID for a man who is participating in the perpetuation of three oppressions: adultism (agism), sexism and racism.  Not to mention the fact that he left the desk and keg area for upwards of ten minutes while a child's high school graduation party was going on in a conference room twenty feet from the then unattended keg.  Priorities?  My sister was very upset, and I offered her the suggestion that she stand up for herself and let him know just what he did, how it affected her, and how it will affect other people.  We went to the room and got our IDs, then headed back to the lobby.  We waited patiently until the desk manager was free, and my sister approached the desk.  She placed her ID on the desk and said to the manager, "now you know what a 35-year-old woman looks like."  He tried to explain himself away, saying that he had to card anyone who looked around thirty or younger (which he had not, for any of the near-thrirty men in the lobby), and that she should take it as a compliment that she looks young.  She responded that it is not a compliment, and that she would be filing a formal complaint for discrimination.  It is discrimination when an unidentified rule is applied to only certain people because of the way they look.  And I will have every reader know that a woman being told she looks young, particularly when she is being condescended to, is not a compliment.  Nor should I be pleased when whistled at or catcalled "because he thinks [I'm] hot" (and whistling -- really?  I am a human, not a dog).  We women all have the ability to stand up for ourselves, and all men can take the opportunity to be conscious of events like these and end oppression in its tracks.

After my sister took her stand, we walked out of the hotel lobby and proceeded to the bar/restaurant across the street.  My sister and I had been having a relatively blithe conversation at the bar, and after my father awoke from his nap at the hotel, he joined us.  After a little while, one of the hostesses, a lovely Dominican woman, approached me at the bar.  She told me that a customer had offered her coworker two dollars to go up to me and slap me on the back.  To preface this, I was still recovering from a bright red sunburn I had received from working hard in my garden four days before, and it was visible above the backline of my funereal sundress.  Who offers someone two dollars to do something cruel to someone else, something that would clearly hurt, and because it would hurt?  Not to mention the sexism that plays in -- the assumption that because I'm blonde, young and pretty, and wearing a sundress, that I would be stupid and lay out in the sun or play in the sun without sunblock, allowing myself to get badly burned, ha ha ha... (insert seething sarcasm).  My first instinct was to ask the hostess where that customer was so I could go up to him (I not incorrectly assumed it was a he) and slap him on the back for free.  The hostess tried to explain away the comment of the customer who had at that point left the restaurant, saying he was just trying to be funny and didn't really mean it.  I told the hostess that I wish I'd gotten my sunburn from laying out on the beach having a nice vacation in Florida, but that my grandmother had passed away and there was no vacation here at all, that I received my sunburn working in my garden in New York.  She immediately felt sorry and perhaps partially responsible for the customer's behavior, because she stopped trying to explain his behavior away and became rather apologetic.  Rather than letting it go and instead opening myself up with the story of my grandmother, the hostess changed demeanor and in turn opened herself up for sharing of her story.  She remembered losing her grandfather two years before, and spoke of her feelings for her grandfather and what that memory was like, as well as other memories.  Her perspective on the situation had changed, and and the three of us (my sister, the hostess and I) made a connection in that moment, so much so that my father (who is severely hard of hearing) thought that we had known each other from some time before.  Taking something really wrong and turning it around, allowing oneself to be vulnerable for a time while standing firm with what is right and true and human, gives us the opportunity to create real connection and closeness with another person -- to foster consciousness and create community.  I believe that something changed for that hostess because of our interaction.  It certainly made a difference for my sister and me.

So I guess my grandmother continues to help to take care of us and bring us together, and be a good person, even in her death.