Human Nature, Social Standards

Another Stigma

When you think of the word “handicap”, what do you think about? I have reason to think you think of the blue square with the white figure in a wheelchair. We see them in parking lots all the time, but what does it really mean?

As someone who worked in parking before, I can tell you that there is more variety than you think. First, there is the Vietnam Vet who lost the ability of his or her arms and/or legs. Then there are other instances where an accident occured during an athletic activity like mountain climbing or an explosion at an event like the recent Boston Marathon. Whatever the case, some of these people have insurance. Prosthetic arms or legs are ordered. Then surgery is performed. These people eventually learn how to walk again, maybe even run.

Then there are those who don’t have inssurance. All they can afford is a crutch or two. You see them in the grocery store, at sporting events, or even at the bar. Others have wheelchairs or power chairs.

You may think all these people move much more slowly than you and that that is a handicap in itself. The important point is that you see them. These people are out there doing the same things you are. I dont think it makes them handicapped. I would much rather refer to them as limited to certain physical abilities.

“Once we accept our limits. We Go beyond them.” Quote by Albert Einstein –> We all have limitations we have to surpass.

For instance, people who are extremely overweight are considered physically limited. Ive seen them go through my area of the parking lot with the blue placards hanging in their rear window. I admit I thought, “How are they going to enjoy themselves?” The answer is: the best way they can.

These people with obvious limitations think about their limitation ever day of their life. They learn to deal with it and move on. Us passerbys only see them for a moment. We imagine the endurance it would take just to walk through the door. We only have that moment we see. We cant get passed it.

There are also people who are mentally limited. They see letters in words backwards or they are more math and science geared. Whatever the limitation, many people find a way passed it. Those people are not handicapped in my eyes.

I’ve seen articles with pictures of people in wheelchairs who are more active in sports than people will the full use of their arms and legs. I know people who travel the country in a van equipped or not with a door that slides open to let out a ramp. This ramp lets them roll into their car and into the driver’s seat. They are out there doing activities that many people who have no physical limitations don’t do. Are these fully able people the ones who should be called handicapped? Perhaps call it “Actively handicapped?” No, I still think calling it a limitation sounds a lot better.

There are no exact answers. Just think about it. Try not to ostrisice the next person you see with a crutch or wheelchair. Maybe open the door for them. Quit thinking, “What do they do for me?” Instead think, “How can I make their day a little easier?” Who knows the kind of effort they have to endure everyday with or without the social stigma they receive when they walk out the door or their home.

I want to end with one more thought to chew on. Art is something many people enjoy. Some create it and others observe it. There are those who think if you can’t appreciate art, you are mentally limited. Some others think that if you spend any time in the arts, you are wasting your time. So who is right? No one. It’s a matter of your own perspective. Do you want a well balance one or a limited one? It’s up to you to decide.

Judge Now

Social Standards

Roots of Displacement

I was born in 1984. This is the year George Orwell predicted his story where Brother is always watching you. He is in your television screen, your neighbor, your lover, and perhaps he is even yourself.

What I remember of elementary. I began kindergarten in 1990, the beginning of the decade known for grunge music. How does a child grow up in the age of “I don’t care” also known as apathy? I can tell you it was easy. From ages six to eleven you only think of having fun and who you can have have fun with.

I hung around the people who brought toys to school that were against the rules. I created the person who became the person who everyone hated because she was so bad. Her mom was a first grade teacher at my school that year. Everything this girl did she learned from me even though I didn’t go as far as she did. I kicked the aluminum can and she made it flammable and set it to explode. I dated a boy in third grade. He was the first and last boy I would ever think I was attracted to. We both had “clubs”. I had zero members and he had two others. I joined his because it was obvious to me that his club was better than mine because it had more members. Never you mind I should tell you what we named our clubs.

In Fourth grade, it seemed that I was finally getting the hang of homework and what teachers expected of me. I was lucky that year. I had the most anal retentive teacher in all of our elementary, Mrs. Anderson (I’m actually using her real name here). I ripped a piece of paper in half by folding the paper in half and licking it. She told me, “I can’t believe you didn’t use a pair of scissors. You are old enough to be civilized.” I thought, “Whatever. I wanted the paper cut and used what I had on me.” This is when I knew for sure that I was not the student every teacher at my private school sought after.

I broke all the underlining rules of my school. These are the rules none of the teachers told you was “wrong” according to them and their religion. I hung out with all the people I wasn’t supposed to hang out with.

It wasn’t until I was twelve in sixth grade that I knew I was going to get in a heap of trouble, more than I have ever before. I’m not going to tell you what I did, but you might be able to guess from previous posts. I’ll leave it up to you to research that. But this, I knew, I was going to be expelled (even though I was expelled from preschool at the same school. Yes, it’s true). I learned to keep quiet. I chose my friends carefully. If I saw the same characteristics I had in someone else, I avoided them completely (with one exception…another story).

I was the quiet one in high school. I tried not to laugh at things. I didn’t know what was against the religion of our school. It seemed as if anything they didn’t like was against the religion. I had no idea what that was.

Now that I’m done with that school and it’s almost ten years in the past, I am almost the person I wanted to be…except hiding myself has killed my motivation. I want to be the change I want to see in the world, but it’s much harder than usual.

My elementary years were the best years of my life. I ran and played with the boys. The guys wanted to know if I liked them and I never told them (even though every girl liked S.J.). We got to play in the playground twice a day, three times if we were a good class as a whole.

If you’re a parent with a child in elementary, let them be. You know once they get into junior high and up, the pressure to be something you’re not rises more and more. If you are that child in elementary, don’t let them take your spirit. And to everyone else who has already been jaded by everyone around you telling you what you should be and what you should do, the road back to yourself is long and hard, but you can do it with the right environment and people. Find a group. There is a website called meet-up that has almost any kind of interest. Go to concerts. Amanda Palmer concerts are the best events to find those who can relate to you (even if you are different from them). Like her song “Bottomfeeder”, fall into the crowd. Those who hold you up are your friends. Look into their eyes. Trust them. All those people who stood in your way will fade away.

Entrepreneurs, Social Standards

Unemployment Stigma

Many  unemployed people are met with a disgraceful opinion from their peers, unless of course you were one of the many people who were laid off from your job recently. For those of us who haven’t had a job in the last year or more and are being productive, this blog post is for you.

A lot of people think that if you are unemployed, you spend every day watching television shows, sitting on the couch, or sleeping in. That isn’t the case for all unemployed people. If you are like me, you have gone to school earned a degree, applied for jobs, but still haven’t met the right employer. You have done everything you thought you needed to do to get a job in your field, but you still haven’t gotten one. You have to make ends meet somehow. I freelance my work, I write via blogging, twitter and work on one of several books I am writing.

My theory is that people who do have jobs they have to go to either don’t like their job or wish they had more time to do what they wanted after their work day is over. They see us entrepreneurs doing what we want and look down upon us for thinking outside the box instead of conforming with the rest of the job force.

Another stigma of being unemployed is that your friends think you always have an open schedule. I still have people to see and places to be, so if your one night off work in two weeks is the night I’m busy, don’t get mad. I can’t change my schedule any more than you can.

Another stigma of being unemployed is that you don’t have any money. I have a little income, so I can still go out when my friends invite me to events. I have been asked by people I know how I make the money I spend. It can be considered a rude question depending on the kind of person you are. In my case, the people asking have always been people who travel every other month to other cities, other states, and/or other countries. Then they complain about not being able to pay their rent. I never once suggested to them that maybe they shouldn’t take so many trips that costs money to drive or fly plus having to pay for hotel stays. It’s not my business to suggest to them how they should spend their money unless, of course, they ask me. And none of them ever do. It baffles me when people ask me about my finances when they should be worried about their own, even if they are curious.

Entrepreneurs and freelance workers just live a different way. And it’s easy for people to look down upon you if you are different. So if you are one the many who are unemployed and still work, don’t let the other people’s negativity stop you. All you can do is shrug their comments off and go about your way. If they refuse to let it go, it’s about time you let them go.

Between the Lines, Television

The Impact of One Television Show

On March 10, 1997, the first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired on the WB channel. I don’t remember what day it aired on because it changed to different nights throughout its television career. No matter the day, my mom, my brother, and I would sit in a room together to watch Buffy conquer vampires and other supernaturals while slaying those pesky homework assignments.

I was in sixth grade at the time. My mom had moved my brother and I into her boyfriend’s house because we were forced to move out of our previous house. Long story short, my dad didn’t pay the monthly mortgage, so we had to live elsewhere.

I was in a new house that was thirty minutes away from my private school. Junior high was turning out to be this horrible part of the education system where I didn’t get to play on the playground with my friends anymore. It was now all work and no play because my friends were now busier and more importantly I couldn’t relate to my fellow peers.

This is where BVS comes into play. I could relate to Buffy, Willow, and Xander’s butting heads with high school. I wasn’t liking Junior high too much. It seemed only to get worse each year. I could relate to being demeaned by my peers because I didn’t follow society’s standard or in Cordelia’s case, her standard. My school believed in a Christian based faith. It taught almost an hour of Bible every day. There was a definite standard to follow. I was far from following it. I wasn’t excited about who I liked or what boy band was trending.

I was excited about Vampires and other dead things. I had a hole in my heart from many things and I wanted to fill it with something tangible. Buffy killed vampires. She won over evil. Just when we think she is done for, she surprises us. I wanted to be someone whose courage and passion surprised them when they least expected it.

The show became more than a show. It was a guidebook to life’s emotional ride. I saw Buffy fall in love with a vampire despite her job description. I saw a tough jock admit he was gay. I observed how Buffy struggled with her mom and vice versa. That was just in the high school years.

When the Scooby Gang graduated from high school on their twenty-second episode of season three that aired on July 13, 1999, a lot of drama occurred. Buffy’s first boyfriend turned against them. There was another slayer, two in fact. An evil mayor wanted to eat all the graduates. Their difficulties made the hurdles I had to jump seem minor. It helped a lot in that way.

When the college years began, I was still watching this show with my mom and my brother. I was three days from turning thirteen. A full-fledged teenager. You learn about the world in small bits and pieces when you are a tween (ages 8-12), but once you were a teenager the world flooded your eyes and ears from all around you.

There may be a fine line for a Christian mother letting her kids watch a show about vampires who kill people and a slayer who kills those vampires. There may be another fine line for letting her kids watch the light sex scenes in the college years of the show. It wasn’t dramatic for me, but maybe it was for my brother who was three years younger than me. But to not let your kids watch the show because Willow and Tara, both Wiccans and both female, are in a relationship? The Wicca part wasn’t the problem. It was the latter part that made my mom draw the line.

I grew up in a household, a school, and a church that told me what I was and wasn’t supposed to do. Then here was this show, saying it was okay to be gay. It was accepted to be Wicca if that was your way of life. It was okay to love who you wanted. Buffy loved Riley even though he was part of a militia who they weren’t certain was on the entirely good side.

Among all the opposition I was receiving from everything my mom surrounded me with in my life there was finally someone somewhere saying the same thing that I believed. The themes underlining the show constantly spoke of equality. Because even if you are a vampire you can be good. And even if your are the slayer or are apart of her entourage, you can make mistakes too, some really bad ones. In the end, the friends forgave each other. Enemies formed an unexpected alliance. All these things and more. Seeing forgiveness, friendship, and love in this show taught me the things my parents, teachers, and peers couldn’t or wouldn’t teach me. Thank goodness for Joss Whedon and the writers on the show like Jane Epsenson. They fed me the knowledge and the fuel I needed to get through junior high and high school.

I shook Jane Epsenson’s hand after one of the panels at WonderCon 2013. I thanked her for her shows and I walked away. Also in March, I had the opportunity to meet Amber Benson who acted the role of Tara the girlfriend of Willow. I shook Amber’s hand and hugged her, but I didn’t directly thank her for acting the role she did on the show. Maybe someday I will have the chance to just say thank you. Perhaps she already knows.

So that’s the impact Buffy the Vampire Slayer show made on me. To me it’s not a hit cult show. It’s the beacon of hope that led me through the dark ages of my life. When I thought I couldn’t endure another week of religious oppression, I sat down to watch an episode of BVS and all was well.

Today I don’t see any show on television that would do the same thing for me if I was in junior high again. There may be shows that have one of the elements, but not all of them in one show. It will be ten years since the last episode of the show on May 20, 2003. That’s less than a month before I graduated from high school on June 13, 2003. It seems as if the forces that control the things we don’t see was giving me the help I needed from the time my parents separated to the day I graduated from high school, when the religious oppression from school and church would end for me. I hope that these forces are sending more outlets like this show, or books, or movies, to other teenagers in need. More great work needs to be published no matter the cost. If the people meant to help us aren’t doing so, we need to get the help from wherever we can find it.

Between the Lines, Movie Themes

Movie: Impossible

Review of Mission Impossible Movies 1-3

Mission Impossible (1996)

We first meet Ethan an IMF opperative. He and his team are sent on a mission that goes array. There are lots of twists, turns, and explosions. The cinema photography is the only thing letting you know where to look. Ethan is single in this installment, so what we see is him being motivated to take revenge on those who killed his team.

Mission Impossible: Two (2000)

Ethan has had a rough lesson in back-stabbing within his own agency. This next installment gives us a break from that. This time Ethan has to apprehend a thief. This thief ends up helping the agency in order to clear her debts. In the end, she ends up putting herself literally in the harm’s of an ebolia-like virus. Ethan is still without a girlfriend, so he is motivated to save this thief.

Mission Impossible: Three (2006)

Rabbit’s foot. That’s all you need to know about this installment’s mission. Ethan now has a girlfriend and possible future wife. He trains operatives at the IMF. No longer does he work actively in the field. At least, not until he gets the call to retrieve one of his students. He succeeds in doing so after much gun firing and building explosion. His student wants to tell him some intel, but she is intercepted. The boss at IMF wants Ethan to capture a buyer and seller of dangerous goods. Ethan accepts even in lieu of his recently made vows with his girlfriend. They capture the weapons dealer, but through a series of events, he is released. The guy then captures Ethan’s wife. Ethan has yet another motivation to seek revenge against the bad guy.

In conclusion: Every hero needs motivation. If he has friends, co-worker, or love relationship, he has a motivation. Sometimes your family members can be a motivation, but not everyone likes their family, and you can choose the other relationships to some extent. If you are watching a movie or television show or reading a book, your character has a motivation. If the motivation is weak, chances are you will be bored and stop watching or reading. Let’s take this idea and make it practical. What’s your motivation in life. You don’t have to want to be a hero. You just have to have motivation or else you’ll end up bored. Some people end up doing things they don’t want to when their bored: Hang out with mean people, drink too much alcohol, watch too much media instead of creating something from their own mind and hands. Be the motivation you want to see in the world. That’s my own twist to the famous quote.

Between the Lines, Television

Being Human (U.K. Version)

I have enjoyed this show so far. <<Season one was great because you meet three supernatural characters “being human” while maintaining their individual hurdles. I also agree with others who have said that the werewolf and ghost are annoying, but how else would one act being supernatural as they are. Imagine how much worse they would be if the three characters did not find each other. I love seeing their personalities bounce off each other. <<Season two was great because the audience is shown more depth to the characters as they delve deeper into the human world while still trying to maintain their secrets. <<Season three was very intense with the war between vampires against other vampires and werewolves. While that description has been used to describe dozens of other supernatural stories, this one does not hold anything back. You may have to close your eyes during a few scenes. <<Season four was unenjoyable for me. Everything is different. Some characters have left the show. The ones who stayed aren’t the ones you really care about. I watched the first two episodes. I was done. It’s unfortunate because I really liked the concept and execution of this show.

All in all it’s great to watch a show that puts a twist to “being human”. We have to face hardships everyday. Even though this show about three supernatural people trying to be human, it can make us “normal” people thankful that we don’t have to add supernatural conflicts on top of what we already deal with. It’s nice to get lost in this show. Then go back to reality feeling ready to face whatever comes our way.

Between the Lines, Movie Themes

Rise of the Guardians

The boogyman returns to the world of children and their dreams. He tells the other holiday and everyday guardians that once the children stop believing in them the guardians will disappear. Which is sad to think of anyone with an actual life disappearing, but in reality these guardians like the Easter Bunny, Santa, and the Sandy-man don’t exist as living entities. They exist as symbols of commerce. The producers of this movie are telling you and your children that if you forget these Holiday “symbols” it will be bad because the profit they bring will disappear. The big companies don’t want that. It’s a shame that such a fun animation has so much to read in between the lines, but that’s how PG movies get through to children: through bright colors and characters who are popular symbols in at least American culture. They want you and your family to love their holiday guardians, so you will buy their products.

I do like how the things you can’t see like Jack Frost’s icicles and snowflakes on your nose bring people happiness even though they don’t see the power behind it or in this case Jack Frost’s power. Then Jack is surprised on how little the other guardians knew about actually playing with children. Because all he did was interact with them via sleighing and snow ball fights etc. And the other holiday guardians mere give and give to children without ever interacting with them. I think Parents can take away from this that they should focus on spending time with them and not only giving and giving toys or whatever it is they buy to keep the kids busy.