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I’ll get back to you …

2015 March 4
by Lena

Respecting people’s privacy means respecting the fact that (a) not all times will be opportune ones for a visit, and (b) they are not obligated to explain that to you in the moment just because you’re on their front stoop.

In a recent column, Carolyn Hax offered the perspective above when a mother-in-law was upset that her son and daughter-in-law didn’t answer the door when she dropped by unannounced.  Her response really focused on the concept of privacy and the misplaced entitlement that some put on access to other people’s time.  This is a huge, ongoing concern of mine, and one that I’ve spent a great deal of energy over many years trying to subtly address without starting World War 3.  I need my privacy/solitude and will go to the ends of earth to protect it.  This tends to be at odds with how the rest of the world operates, but it’s a walk I’m willing to take.

Most people in my life understand and respect my introversion and how that impacts my ability and willingness to engage with people. It’s taken a lot of time and conversations, but I’m fairly confident that they understand it’s not you, it’s me.  Usually that’s BS, but I’ve learned that it’s the honest to goodness truth about how I engage with people.  Having conversations in any format (in person, on the phone, via text, etc.) is draining. Whether these are positive or negative conversations, they are exhausting for me.  You can ask my boyfriend for confirmation, who has learned to tune out the line of expletives I spew when my phone rings or sounds a text/Gchat notification. It’s probably irrational to have that strong of a reaction, but it comes from the same place: it’s as if people are trying to force themselves into the quiet bubble that I need to maintain my sanity. read more…

Miner’s canary

2015 February 28
by Lena
Image: Billy Hathorn

Miner’s Canary. Image: Billy Hathorn

Miner’s canary:

  1. A caged bird kept caged in mine tunnels because its demise provided a warning of dangerous levels of toxic gases.
  2. (idiomatic) Something whose sensitivity to adverse conditions makes it a useful early indicator of such conditions; something which warns of the coming of greater danger or trouble by a deterioration in its health or welfare

On a major road near my home sits a small medical practice. It’s an unassuming building, with a small sign touting its primary doctor’s name, yet it catches my attention nearly every time I drive by.  Day or night, rain or shine, I see people — as few as 1 or as many as 10 — standing outside, protesting its provision of abortion services. The most prominent sign they display is “Pray to end abortion,” and I always get irked to no end, because they’ve got it all wrong.

When I see that sign, I think “Don’t pray to end abortion; pray to end poor access to adequate health care and misinformation about contraceptives.” By that, I mean: abortion isn’t the bigger problem. Unplanned/unwanted pregnancies are.  A “high” number of abortions is merely a symptom of the bigger problem, which is women being pregnant when they are not ready or do not want to be.  And those pregnancies, by and large, are the result of inaccurate information being provided to sexually active people who do not have access to birth control methods that they know how to use effectively. read more…

F*cked around and got locked up? That’s not in the contract.

2015 February 24
by Lena
Image: Andrew Lamberson for New York Daily News

Image: Andrew Lamberson for New York Daily News

Bobby Shmurda, 20, took the internet by storm in early 2014 when a Vine of his song “Shmoney Dance”  went viral.  After a bidding war between labels, he signed a multi-album deal to Epic Records, and became hip-hop’s new flavor of the week.  He followed it up with “Hot Nigga” and seemed poised for continued success (whatever that looks like in today’s music business landscape).  Yet somehow, with lyrics that highlight drug sales, trap houses, and violent exchanges (or him and his crew just shooting people, as it were), there was some incredulity when Shmurda was arrested in December 2014 on a series of charges that include drug dealing, weapons possession, conspiracy to commit murder, and assault.  Shmurda pleaded not guilty and bail was set at $2 million.  Yet two months later, he is still in custody, and apparently upset that his label hasn’t been more supportive, specifically by posting his bail and voicing its support.

My gut reaction to Shmurda’s sense of entitlement from his label was disgust. How dare this employee expect his employer to bail him out of a situation he got himself into by allegedly committing crimes? If I go out and catch charges, I’d sooner expect to be fired than for my employer to post my bail or handle any of my legal fees.  But then I wondered, what if my legal action comes from something that occurs in the course of me performing my job duties? To a certain extent, my employer will back me and provide legal representation and financial backing.

Hm … Shmurda is an employee. So that begs the question of whether the actions that resulted in his litany of charges were happening in the context of his job.  Well, that’s messy, isn’t it?

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Mind ya business?

2015 January 6
by Lena

This morning, Twitter is all a’flutter about a photo that was apparently posted to a teacher’s Facebook:

hairThe immediate question arose about whether the teacher overstepped her boundaries in doing the student’s hair.   Was it the teacher’s place to judge the condition of the girl’s hair? Was it OK for her to style the hair? Was it acceptable that she posted it on social media?

My first reaction is that I need the whole story, but I don’t have it at all. Too often, social media captures a portion of a situation and runs wild with assumptions.  It happens all the time from celebrity deaths to everything else. People need to learn not to make snap judgments when they don’t have all of the facts in front of them. There’s no way to form an educated opinion if you don’t have a full picture (no pun intended) of what’s happening. My initial questions are myriad:  Does the girl normally come to school looking unkempt/neglected overall? Was this a one-time event?  Is the girl’s hair really all that unkempt or is it just that it was “out” instead of neatly braided/twisted?  Is her overall appearance unkempt or was it just her hairstyle?  Were the parents notified/asked permission? Did the teacher ask the student’s permission to do her hair?  Since she was non-verbal, what checks were in place to make sure the student was comfortable with her hair being styled by the teacher? What were the other students doing when this teacher was styling her hair? There are too many questions left for me to come to a definitive conclusion! That being said …

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Two’s company, the rest are non-factors

2014 March 14
by Lena

Keep everybody out your business, that’s how you do it. And I mean everybody. It ain’t about having a relationship outside of the house. It’s about having a relationship within each other. When something go down don’t be calling your sister or your mother; I’m not gonna be calling my brother or uncles. We’re gonna work it out.

I never would have thought that Ice Cube would be the one to provide the quote that describes my approach to my relationships. But he’s been married to his wife for over 20 years, and I’ve never seen them in the tabloids. (Disclaimer: I also wasn’t looking.)

What he said struck a chord deep in my heart, and I feel like his sentiments are incredibly true. Privacy in a relationship is the best way to keep it intact. The relationship is between two people and only those two people have to live with their decisions and experiences. As such, those two are the only ones who should be privy to all of the good (and not-so-good) details and making decisions that affect it.

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