Monthly Archives: July 2016

Another White Girl Talks About Herself Some More

Oh, the title? I’m just trying to be self-aware. That’s kind of new. Everything in this post is new for me.

Ok, I said in my short post the other day that I was planning something for Monday. It’s Wednesday now and I only just posted it. What did I post, you may well be asking.

This is what I posted:

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 2.41.25 PM

It’s my humble attempt to create change. I had the idea, and so felt obligated to give it a shot, despite my cowardice and crippling fear of my own incompetence. I kind of wish someone else had had this idea instead, someone more knowledgeable, someone with a devoted social media following. If I had to pick someone to start a such campaign in the hopes that it will go viral, I would not have chosen myself.

But I had the idea, and it seemed good at the time. Now that I’ve acted on it, of course, it seems ridiculous. But someone has already made the call! Actually, he did something way cooler than read the script I compiled. He got specific, which (I assume) is way more effective. He did not, however copy and paste the instructions I designed in the hopes of creating virality. I think around three of his friends have already commented that they will call too, but there is no way for me to know if they do, or if it goes any further than them.

Here’s what a friend of his wrote when she reposted his video:

Katrina Huber-Juma is organizing people to call their Congressional, state and local representatives in support of Campaign Zero’s platforms, and take video of themselves doing so. [Redacted] made this video of his call to his Assemblyman’s office and talks about dealing with phone anxiety during the process.

The bill he’s talking about is a state bill. You can find information about legislative issues in front of your own representatives right now by entering your zip code at http://www.joincampaignzero.org/

Having worked in a legislative office, these calls are a lot more impactful than you might think. Offices carefully track how many constituents call in in support of vs. against a particular piece of legislation. Even if a policymaker’s mind is firmly made up, enough calls can sometimes prompt them to focus more energy on an issue, or to tone down their engagement with that issue.

If you can’t make a phone call, that is totally fine! Emails and snail mail are tracked in this way as well and also make a difference.

____

Here’s how the idea grew.

I was horrified by the recent killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille, but wasn’t sure how to express myself. A status update from me didn’t seem useful, so I wrote nothing. I felt I had nothing unique to say. My friends already know that racism and police brutality is wrong, saying as much to them… just didn’t seem useful. I’m not a great thinker or a powerful writer, I don’t have a special perspective that needs to be heard.

Then I saw on someone’s page a recommendation that people call their police chief or something. And I wanted to do it. But what would I say? I didn’t have any solutions.

Somehow, I got to thinking that maybe more people would call if they knew exactly who to call and what to say. I realized I’d already made my mind up to call, so I’d need to figure that out for myself anyway, so why not share that information?

I don’t remember how I made this leap, exactly, but suddenly I was thinking about the wildly viral Ice Bucket Challenge, and it seemed like maybe that would be the way to do it.

I started talking over my idea with friends, both to strengthen the idea, and to add more pressure to myself to actually follow through. One friend provided a link to a site called Campaign Zero, and that had all the information I needed, all neatly laid out.

So the plan became to try and start something. I would film myself making a call to my representative, and I would read a script (I basically heavily summarized the points from Campaign Zero to make the script, and had others look at it). Then I would nominate others to either make the call or donate to Black Lives Matter. They would then nominate others, and so on and, hopefully, so on and so on.

The friends I talked it over with were excited, proud.

Why film a phone call? Because I want to appeal to people who want to be seen to be doing good. I think there are people who will be more likely to make the call if they can get positive feedback for it on their social media (being 100% honest, that might also be me, I’m still trying to sort out my motives in my own mind). Also, I wanted to show that it’s not really hard to call and doesn’t take long, and that you don’t even have to be good on the phone (I’m certainly not).

It took me a while to decide whether or not to include in the text of the post some advice to the effect of “don’t tag your traumatized Black/POC friends,”and I’m still not quite comfortable with my decision to leave that off. I mean, I trust my friends’ judgement, but if it gets further away from me than that, someone might make a bad call. But I didn’t want to discourage anyone.

I asked people before I publicly challenged them to make the call. Some people didn’t respond, although I know they saw the messages. I was shocked and saddened by how many people said “no” or “that’s not really my thing.”

Honestly, each new “no” made me feel personally hurt and, yes, changed my opinion of the person saying it (despite the promise I made to myself not to hold it against anyone). A phone call seems like a remarkably small thing to ask. I wanted to beg “Please, my children will be Black. My whiteness won’t protect them once they leave my arms!”

I had to remind myself that I have it easy. As much as these declinations hurt me, I tried to imagine how much more they would hurt if I were Black. I would be like being told, to my face, that my lives like mine aren’t worth a 3 minute phone call.

My husband doesn’t believe that there will ever be positive change in this area. For a few days, I truly believed that what I was doing could make a difference. Now that this project is pretty much out of my hands, my belief has abandoned me. But I’m glad it lasted me long enough to try.

I wouldn’t say I’m an activist, or that I feel I’ve done enough or all I can do. I’ve just dipped my tiny toe into trying to do something about something. And the call was easy to make. If you claim to care, make a call, make your voice heard.

If you, dear reader, want to try and start this, I would be grateful. Present it as your own idea, if you think that would make it more compelling to your friends.

The script is the cover picture here.

If you want to see everything on facebook tagged with #callingForReform, go here.

Here’s my call

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I Love Ya, Tomorrow

So, #operationVisibleDifference is in full effect. I can’t remember if I explained it already, so I’ll just expain now. My hubby is away, so while he’s gone I want to make a visible difference in my body composition to surprise him. I mentioned this plan in a Facebook group and someone put the number sign in front of it, and that looked right to me, so that’s how I’ll write it from now on. Not being a tweeter (Twitterer? Twit? Twat?), I don’t really understand hashtags. Is there already a tag of #operationVisibleDifference? If there is, is that a problem? 

So the operation is in effect, I’ve had a couple days going to bikram and doing a regular workout every day, and now 3 days of rest (although I probably shouldn’t have taken today off). I lost 3 pounds in 3 days. I ate a little recklessly yesterday, but I don’t think I actually did any damage. I went on an 8 mile hike the day before. I feel really good about this whole idea. It feels good to have a goal and to work towards it. 

Unfortunately, I have not been as proactive about my JavaScript study and job search. But that ends now. And by “now” I mean “tomorrow.” I’ve drawn up a schedule for myself, or more precisely, a list of things to do in order. 



For those who can’t read my handwriting (can I have a show of hands for those who can read it? No one? Oh, ok then), that list is:

Bikram

Breakfast 

Training 

Bird –15 min (I’m trying to get my parakeet to like me. Have any tips? I don’t know what I’m doing)

Shower (damn right I have to schedule that in, otherwise I’ll just be gross all day)

Job search

Anki –1 hr (that’s a flash card program, free for desktop, that I recommend)

Lunch

Room cleaning –1 hr (a sort of side project included in #operationVisibleDifference, because I know he’ll like to see the room looking nice)

Bird –15 min

Headfirst JavaScript (a book I’m working through) –1 hr

Swahili flash cards (also to impress my husband, who is a native speaker) 

Headfirst –1 hr

Movement (a few body weight squats or whatever, I haven’t picked yet, I just want get blood moving again so I don’t fall asleep)

Headfirst –1 hr 

…And repeat the last two until it’s dinner time.

This will be hard for me, as I am very lazy. I will want to stop and sleep for hours. Often I’m too tired after my workouts, such that even taking a shower seems insurmountably daunting. But that shit ain’t gonna fly no more. I’m becoming a new person. I kind of need your help though, because if I don’t put this out on my blog, I will lose steam and stop trying, take a nap. I need to imagine that there is someone out there who has read this and who is really hoping I pull through tomorrow, that I executed my plan flawlessly and who will be disappoint if I fail. Then once I’ve done it with your help, proving I can do it, maybe I can eventually do it alone.

In other news, I took a before pic! 



A bit sunburnt from my 8 mile hike.

And here is one compared to a month ago. Although my weight is technically higher in the photo on the right, I think I actually look visibly better.



And, because those are so ugly, here are some pictures I feel good about





While the Cat is Away…

…The mouse will try super hard to make progress to impress the cat when he returns!

Sad news everyone: people die. I’ve gone a long time without having to really think about that, except for when a beloved pet would pass, and honestly I’m still not really thinking about it because it freaks me out and there is no comfort. But I ought to be thinking about it. For one thing, a gentle, poetic fellow I slightly knew has been murdered senselessly on the street, and for another, my husband’s grandfather appears to be on the brink. I feel like a cold bitch because I’m not as upset about either thing as I feel I should be. It all feels far away and incomprehensible. I’m worried about my husband and how he feels, but I don’t seem to emotionally understand that I’ve lost the chance to meet one of the people who raised him and cared for him and who is important to him. I feel I should be more affected.

But since I’m not, I won’t bother you with it. What you do need to know is that my husband left for Kenya today, to be with his family. He has a one way ticket. He will be coming back, but we have no idea when. I’d hazard a guess that he won’t come back in less than a month, which means…

…I have some time to be a surprise when he gets back! I think I might be able to make a visible difference in my body in that time, what do you think? I’m going to try. He’s observant, so if I manage it, I think he will notice. It’s an idea I came up with when I was wondering how best to support my husband in this difficult time. I decided that what I can do is make his return to the states, whenever it happens, as joyful as possible by developing good habits while he’s away. I also want to study a little Swahili.

A before pic of the body in the room

So now I’m going to set some goals.

  1. Lose 2 lbs a week. In a month I should be at 243 lbs
  2. Be consistent going to Bikram every weekday morning
  3. Go to the gym or personal training 5 times a week (because of the bet) and lift heavier weights by the end of the month
  4. Learn how to keep our room clean and organized. He’s a tidy sort, but somehow my disorderly nature wins when it comes to how the room looks
  5. Practice Swahili flashcards every day
  6. Maybe learn to do something pretty with my hair?

If he’s gone more than a month, I’ll miss him for longer, but I’ll be glad of the chance to make even more difference. I know it’s not healthy, but sometimes I feel like I’m not a good enough wife. Well, if that’s really how I feel, this is a chance to do something about it!

What would you do if you had a month to set up a surprise for someone you love/want to impress?