Category: Just Shelley (Page 2 of 3)

Nebraska’s On My List

Driving across Nebraska was a series of slows and gos due to the road construction. Unfortunately, it was also the location of my first car scratches.

After leaving a construction zone at one point, a work truck next to me that was hauling away dirt and rocks and mud hit a rut and a pile of mud with rocks splashed across my windshield and the front of the car. Considering that the day was sunny and clear I was more than a bit surprised by the mud appearing from nowhere, especially when traveling at around 70MPH. Luckily I have nerves of steel.

(Well, in honesty, luckily no one was around me when I swerved from surprise and hit the brake.)

Today I had the car thoroughly cleaned and sure enough, the little Nebraska legacy left scratches in the door and across the hood.

Golden Girl’s no longer a pristine scratch-free virgin. Sigh.

I knew I should have gone back to the location and beat the crap out of the crew.

It was never about the guys

Jonathon juxtaposed two quotes within a posting – a serious one from a woman questioning whether she would ever meet the man of her (overly perfect) dreams; and a rather humorous exchange between guys on IRC.

In response to a comment attached to the posting, Jonathon also stated:

An alternative reading of the (ironically) juxtaposed quotes might draw attention to the earnest self-centeredness of the woman compared to the easygoing self-deprecating humor of the men. Or to the failure of thirty years of feminist theory to effect a truly fundamental change in men’s thinking.

Leaving aside questions of earnest self-centeredness and self-deprecating humor based on choice of quotes, I wanted to focus on Jonathon’s statement about feminist theory effecting fundamental change in men’s thinking.

I’m not surprised that thirty years of feminist theory, or practice for that matter, haven’t instituted major changes in the male thought processes – feminism was never about changing men’s thinking. It was always about changing women’s thinking.

We can’t say to men, “Look, you have to change your evil ways and start treating us equally”, when we’re not willing to make changes ourselves. And we definitely can’t expect to have our cake and eat it, too.

For instance, do we as women see ourselves as nurturers first, and then as unique human beings? If we do, then we women haven’t achieved the growth and change we need to make. Women are far more interesting and capable then just being baby incubators and brood mares. As part of our complexity, we can be excellent mothers and wonderful mates, but that’s not the sum and total of what we are. Until we start respecting our own uniqueness and individuality, we can’t demand that men look beyond the stereotype we’re perpetuating.

We say that society puts women into a position and keeps us there, but if all women said “Enough of this bullshit”, society wouldn’t have a chance. If we women as a whole rejected the stereotypes, refused to compromise ourselves, didn’t play the “woman” game, change – real change – would occur. And it starts with us, not the guys. It was never about the guys.

Saying that change must start with men perpetuates male-centeredness and denies women any say in this change – yet again another, albeit extremely subtle, stereotype.

And as for humor….

IRC Quote 1834:
[09:50] Hey, anyone who knows Japanese, what does “kikurimu” mean?
[09:52] “I am a preteen with bouncing breasts.”
[09:53] There are probably three or four words for that.
[09:53] Sort of like the Eskimos having so many words for snow.

IRC Quote 6918:
I don’t like pamela anderson type breasts
Their remote controls are annoying and not well documented.

IRC Quote366
“Too few women on the internet?
There are lots of women on the internet,
only most of them are naked and in JPG-format.”

City of Salt

I stepped out for a look around earlier today, getting fairly well drenched in a summer rain storm. Afterwards, I felt like I was in a sauna and finally had to come back to the hotel to cool off. Adapting to the heat and humidity will take me a little time after the relatively cool, breezy San Francisco area.

I used to live in Salt Lake City years ago when I was 15. In fact, I was a “teenage runnaway”, hitting the road and hitchhiking all over the west. I settled in Salt Lake City because I met some people who gave me a place to stay until I found a job as a waitress is a small cafe. Naturally, I lied about my age, telling everyone I was 19.

I have always had ambivalent feelings about Salt Lake. It’s a beautiful city, not too big, not too small, nestled at the foothills of some incredible mountains. If you watched the Winter Olympics earlier this year, then you know that Salt Lake is one of the favorite ski places in the country.

However, Salt Lake has a dark side – an underground population that exists in the streets and the backways, usually ignored by the good citizens of the town. While it’s true that all cities have underground populations, Salt Lake seems to have people who are either Ozzie and Harriet or Undergrounders – no slightly left of center, somewhat in, somewhat out people such as, well, myself.

When I lived in Salt Lake City years ago I was part of the Underground, hanging with kids who did drugs and partied all night. Once a friend OD’d on speed and we had to rush him to the hospital. The ambulance pulled up to the ER room, the nurse came out, took one look at my friend, and told the drivers to take him to the county hospital. Luckily he didn’t die because of the delay. But if he had, I suppose the good people of the City would think that it was one less Undergrounder, one step closer to God for the city.

I remember walking all night with a guy named Blue and looking up at the gold figure on top of the Temple, thinking that if the city was truly based on the foundation of God and brotherhood, why were I and my friend walking around all night, carefully steered away from the ‘good parts’ of the city by the police. You could die knifed to death in the city as long as you didn’t bleed on the sidewalk in front of the Tabernacle.

Today when I was out and about I could see the changes in the city, particularly from the Olympics. Salt Lake has a new light rail system, which is nice. There’s a large new outdoor mall near the city, which I’ll try and visit later this afternoon. Lots of new shops, but many of them look closed.

I also noticed people wearing clean khaki shorts and cotton blouses, hair conservatively styled, several children in tow. Clean cut, wholesome Americans who most likely vote for Bush and fly the American flag from their front door, their reading restricted to those works that bring comfort and feelings of peace and tranquility.

In between the good people were individuals wearing spiked collars and shaved heads, black t-shirts, jeans riding low until the cracks of their butts showed. Haunted looks in their faces – lone wolves trying to find the rest of the pack among all the sheep.

Pardon me—whose unwanted baggage am I tripping over?

The storm had cleared and with it took much of the humidity. The temperature was still warm, but manageable. Best of all a gentle breeze was blowing down off the mountains.

I went walking around Temple Square, drifting in and around wedding parties, tourists, and Mormon Sisters who were helping folks. I walked by one Sister and she gives me a big smile, asking how I was doing and if I needed help. I realized I was next to the Tabernacle and had hoped to hear the Choir sing. When I asked the young lady about choir performances, she not only gave me times when they were playing but enlisted the help of another sister to work out a strategy for me so that I could get excellent seating. They worked with the precision of enlisted soldiers determined that I, visiting from San Francisco, had a chance to hear the choir at its best (tomorrow morning, be there early, sit in this location – got it, Sergeant).

I also splurged on a horse-drawn carriage ride throughout the city – I am a sucker for horse-drawn carriages. My driver, Emily, obviously loved the city, and the horse, Cleo, was young and very spirited. I had a wonderful trip, not only seeing what really is a beautiful city – a unique city – but also talking with Emily and enjoying the antics of Cleo (who does NOT like loud rock and roll by the way).

After the ride, I asked someone on the street for directions and she not only pointed me out where I needed to go, but also took me by the arm, walked me to the end of the street and literally pointed out the building I was looking for, chatting with me the whole time about making sure I see the Beehive house and the Joseph Smith Museum and…and…

Sometimes we can view things, people, and places through glasses shaded by past trauma and sadness. Rather than rose-colored glasses, these are smoky at best, fogging our vision and impacting on our interpretation of what we see. When I walked out this morning, comparing the City of Salt with young memories, all I could see was Ozzie and Harriet on one side of the street, Undergrounders on the other. This afternoon, I took the glasses off and I saw a city made up of Undergrounders and Ozzie and Harriet, true; but I also saw people like me, like you.

I walked around downtown enjoying the beauty when I noticed a crowd gathered around a group of young women with harps. These were students and friends of Elizabeth Smart the young girl kidnapped from her home June 5th. They were performing at a concert to raise awareness of Elizabeth’s kidnapping and to provide support for Elizabeth’s parents.

Elizabeth’s parents spoke first, not 15 feet in front of me, mother stoic, father breaking down in tears. In another place, in another time, they would be Ozzie and Harriet. Today, they were the grief-stricken, terrified parents of a little girl who was stolen from everything she knew, a family of love and taken for what reason we may never know.

And then the harp players, ages 4 and up, started playing:

Bah, Bah, Black Sheep have you any wool?

Yes, marry have I,

Three bags full.

Embarcadero

The doctor is in. I’ve prescribed myself a daily walk along the Embarcadero, gradually extending the distance until I walk the Bridge to Bridge — Bay Bridge to Golden Gate Bridge and back. Over 12 miles. I figured I’ll make my goal by end of May. 2004.

If you’ve never been to San Francisco, the Embarcadero is the road that follows the Bay, providing access to attractions such as the world-famous cable cars, Ghiradelli Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Pier 39. The sidewalk along the water side of the road is extra wide, providing plenty of room for bikers, walkers, joggers, inline skaters and skate boarders.

Palm trees line the road, and the sun and breeze are in your face. There’s plenty of breaks between the waterfront buildings to stop and watch the seagulls, pelicans, and other sea birds, as well as the sailboats and freighters. If you get tired of watching the water-based wildlife turn inwards toward the road and watch the stretch limos, stretch Humvees, and stretch SUVs flow past.

Near the Ferries, I walked behind three backpacking kids, tattooed and body pierced to the point that you wonder how they can hold water when they drink.

At Pier 23, a bike passes to my left, ridden by a guy in a red athletic suit, wearing a gold crown with color coordinated red velvet lining. Yesterday another bike rider had a basket attached to his handlebar containing a black cat, front paws on the basket edge, nose into the wind.

Near Pier 30, skate boarders have claimed a wide section of the sidewalk, testing their agility against the cement blocks that are placed all throughout the Embarcadero. The California rite of passage — skate boarding without pads, daring each other to wilder and wilder maneuvers. Strangely graceful. Oddly beautiful. Brainless.

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