Wow! A lot happened last month, some good and some bad, and I wanna share some of it before returning to the subject of this evening's symposium. Let's just dive right in, shall we?
First: I got accepted into grad school! Yippee!
So I'll be doing that in the fall, and then we'll see where that goes. Suuuuuper excited! Like, I can't write text that is me jumping up and down and whooping and giggling and pumping my fist in the air - but rest assured that I actually did that for a while when I found out. :)
I'm also applying for assistantships, because I'm poor & stuff, and need to support myself as I work my way through. I was doing that, and then I finished, and I was like, "Wow, I'm tired. OK, bedtime. Hmm... it feels like I'm forgetting something, though... what could it be?"
The second thing is that I discovered I have a hidden talent. Well, it was hidden, and now it's not any more. You see, I can't dance. I'm not merely bad at dancing, I mean that I physically can't do it. I really don't know what it is, but in my more defensive moments, I claim that it's because I've taken martial arts since the second grade and I've been so thoroughly trained to break and interrupt rhythms that I can't really get into them. But of course, that's not really true: I do rhythmic things all the time, like sing, or play Rock Band, or go running. For some reason, though, dancing has just never clicked with me, and it's not fun, so I don't do it.
Well, I was at an equinox party this weekend, and it turns out that I actually can dance - I just need a stick that's on fire at both ends. My friend tried to hand it to me, and I was like, "No way, I'ma light my ass on fire," because I was in an altered state of consciousness. He replied, "Just try it, I've seen you wave a stick around before, I think you'd be good at it." I countered, "Yeah, but that stick wasn't on fire." So I picked up a not-on-fire stick and went and waved it around for a while in the dark, and when I was satisfied that I could do that without clocking myself in the face, I tried it on fire. And it worked out awesomely! I can't wait to do it again!
So I guess if the goal is just "move to the music," well, I can't really do that. But if the goal is "keep the fire moving and don't get burned by the fire," I can rock out!
This last one... is not so good. It's behind a cut for absurd levels of racism. Oh, also: TRIGGER WARNING for racist slurs. I'm not censoring it, because first, they're not my words and I'm simply reporting them; second, I kinda want you to get the "full impact" if you decide to read, which will help drive home the overarching point.
I work for a bunch of racists. Like, holy shit, racist to the degree that I didn't think existed any more outside of the Deep South. They get these "independent" papers, where "independent" means "hicks with access to printing press technology," which apparently is way more dangerous and toxic an idea than I ever thought it could be. Sure, there's shit about guns and guv'mint conspiracies and what-not, that's all par for the course. But I gotta flip through, y'know? It's like a train wreck: I'm horrified, yet I can't look away.
So I see this article about the pledge, and it was about some kid in some high school somewhere who decided to stop saying the Pledge of Allegiance. "Oh, neat," I thought, "I stopped saying the pledge in high school, too. I wonder what these rednecks have to say about it?" Turns out, some eminently reasonable things... at first. There was a bit of a hullabaloo on account of the principal trying to get the kid in trouble for not saying the pledge, which isn't cool - someone had to explain to this guy that you can't force people to say the pledge. So the principal threw a fit and decided, "FINE! THE PLEDGE IS CANCELLED!" Which... still isn't cool - someone had to explain to this guy that schools are required to hold a pledge. This really frosted him, because I guess there's no point in mandating an opportunity for something without then mandating that thing. Or maybe he was just upset at not being able to make the kid fall in line, when the whole point of these rules is that we're not supposed to be made to fall in line. Whatever.
So I'm reading this, and I'm thinking, "Wow, I actually agree with many of these thoughts, and the main line of this author's argument strikes me as very reasonable. I am surprised by this. Perhaps we are not as different as I once supposed." But remember: eminently reasonable things... at first. Turns out, the principal is black, and so of course the second half of the article is spent making this into a race thing, and now it's an example of "Typical Negro Government" - what the fuck does that even mean?!
But that's just the literature they leave lying around! Like, on the counter & stuff, in plain view of any customers... who, to my horror, seem almost all to be of a like mind. One slow evening, we somehow got on the subject of Dikembe Mutombo, a basketball player whose name everyone except the owner's husband was able to pronounce with ease. Obviously, his mispronunciations became the New Hilarious Topic of Conversation, which... OK, maybe I'm making a mountain out of a molehill on this one. Mangling a foreign name isn't necessarily racist, and in any event, we're making fun of this one white guy for not being able to pronounce it, right? .....Right?
"You're telling me this guy's been playing basketball for years? Matendi Watoba?"
"Dikembe Mutombo. Yeah, at least ten years. I can't believe you've never heard of him."
"Dikembe Mutombo. He's even got a charitable foundation set up."
"Whoah, wait - this guy set up a charity? Sports stars usually burn through all their money."
"Not this guy."
"Well, then. Today is a special day: I was impressed by something a nigger did!"
I managed to catch my jaw somewhere around my navel while everyone else was laughing. I guess it was funny? I was just staring in disbelief as I cleaned the machines at the end of the day. Seriously, what the fuck?!
So I'm starting to get the impression that these aren't... well... I mean... they're just bigots. They're smart people, they have to be in order to do all the different kinds of shit we do in this shop. You have to be able to solve tough puzzles on short notice and often with limited resources and there's just no doing it if you're dumb as a sack o' hammers. But they're huge fucking bigots; they oppose any kind of immigration; they oppose gay marriage; they're all about God, Guns, and the Third Thing; and they get infuriated when their time is so stupidly wasted on hearing or seeing options for anything other than English - because they don't need it, so why should anyone else? Ugh!
So a gentleman came into the store the other day and was getting prices on a remote for his car. White people are allowed to do this - remotes are expensive and you gotta get the best deal you can. But not Asians - when Asians do it, it's a race thing. I asked the owner's husband if "the guy with the Ford" ended up ordering the remote, because if he did, I should probably place that order.
"Who, the foreigner? Nah, he's gonna go to twenty-five places and annoy everybody first. Never make up his mind, then probably get it from where he started. Or not. Like I care." Five minute pause, I start tending the shop, he just stands at the counter staring into space. Then: "Little YELLOW DOTS! Come to this country, consuming everything in their path! Sweep across the land like a virus!"
He went on from there, but it's kind of a blank for me, because all I wanted to do was slap him and say, "Gosh, a virus? You mean like a pox or something? Falling over the whole nation like some big fuckin' blanket, I bet? That must be so fucking terrible for you to have to deal with people from other places!"
So yeah. I am super fucking glad to be getting out of there. Holy shit.