Thursday, November 25, 2010


Today I am thankful that I am a straight woman. I am thankful that I wasn't born pre-disposed to love someone of the same sex because my life would be very difficult. I could not marry the person that I loved in most states. If I died, my partner might not be allowed to received death benefits. If my partner and I had children and she died her family could take my children away from me if they didn't approve of our lifestyle. I could get kicked out of the military if someone found out I was gay no matter how nobly I served or how many times I had risked my life to protest the lives of others.

I live in a country where society as a whole allows gay people to be discriminated against. Where there are government policies that discriminate, or at least don't equally protect, gay people. Why are people surprised that so many gay children and young adults are killing themselves? What are we as a society giving them to look forward too? What message are we sending them about their lifestyle?

I know that things will get better, because they always do. There was a time where I couldn't go to college, marry my husband or go to certain places without fearing for my life because I am black. I hope that gay kids that are born in the next decade can look back at the early 2000's and be grateful that they weren't born then, the way I look back at the late 50's when my mother was born. I hope that we as a society realize then, how ignorant we were as a society and how un-American it was to discriminate against 10% of our population because they were different.
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Monday, November 15, 2010

That Girl

Once upon a time I was "that girl". The obnoxious one who spoke her mind. The athletic one who inspired people to work out. The funny one who was the center of attention and so on. One part of my brain is sad that I'm not that person any more and feels like a phony when anyone who knew me back then still treats me like I'm her. Another part of me feels incredibly jealous when I go into a situation where someone else is clearly "that girl". I'm jealous of her for being what I'm not but, at the same time, I hate her for taking the spotlight that I could have potentially held. Pretty messed up right?

Not too long ago I had sunk into a deep depression where I hated myself and the rut that I'd let myself get into. Over the past several months I've been climbing out of that hole and rebuilding my self esteem and my spirit. I feel good about myself a lot more than I used to but there are still times, in social situations, where I feel insecure because I'm around someone who clearly has herself together. In my mind everyone is noticing how confident and wonderful she is and comparing that to how uncool I am. I know that this happens in my head and not in reality but that doesn't stop the thoughts from entering my mind.

So now I'm in a position where I can take a huge step at becoming the me that I want to be. I can take over as a fitness instructor at a huge gym in my area. Yes, I became a fitness instructor a couple months ago with the hopes that it would encourage me to get in shape so I could inspire other people to get in shape. I thought I would have months to lose weight and develop my routines. I wasn't expecting this job opportunity to fall into my lap. But I'm a total hypocrite if I don't at least put in an application.

The best part of becoming a fitness instructor is seeing all the different types of people who are also instructors. There are people of all ages and sizes from all backgrounds. I was so nervous that I would be "the fat one" when I walked my size 16 butt into training and that people would question why I was there. What I found was a lot of people my size and larger who were active and great instructors. I didn't think for a second that one of these people weren't suitable instructors because of their weight so why would I think that anyone would do that to me?

I run regularly, I do yoga, I have a black belt in karate. Am I at my ideal weight right now? Absolutely not. Should I put my life on hold until I reach my ideal weight? Absolutely not. But I can get in front of a class and give people a great workout. I can suprise people who might judge me by my appearance by showing them how fit I actually am. I can inspire other people who are insecure to work out because I'm not some size 2 skinny girl who can't relate to what they are going through. I can do this.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Normally at this time of year I'm complaining about the lack of a championship in college football and the ridiculousness of the BCS and all the meaningless bowl games. I'm still hopeful that I will see a college football playoff in a few years but what's really got me pissed off is the whole Cam Newton affair. Yes, I'm biased. My husband went to Auburn, his family lives there, he has a relative who is a professor and we frequently visit. But my problem with this situation is more about the way the media is handling all the accusations against the quarterback and not the team that he plays for.

Cam Newton and his family are accused of asking for and taking money from Auburn University in exchange for him playing football there. There is no physical evidence of this. There are several people who talked to other people who claim to know someone who heard the Newton's ask for money. There is no paper trail. There was no sudden shift in the Newton's lifestyle when Cam transferred to Auburn. Despite the lack of evidence, people are saying that Newton should be suspended. That he doesn't deserve the Heisman trophy. That he is a disgrace to college football and another Reggie Bush-type player only looking out for himself on his way to the NFL.

It seems like anyone can accuse any famous person of being guilty of breaking the rules without evidence. The media obsesses over these stories because we are so hungry to see our celebrities fail. Because in this age of reality TV we are more concerned with who Snooki hooked up with on The Jersey Shore than the recession.

Maybe Cam Newton is guilty. Maybe in a few years there will be physical evidence to back up all the accusations. Maybe Auburn will have to forfeit the wins that they earned while he was a starter and he will have to return his Heisman trophy (a la USC and Reggie Bush). But unless we have a crystal ball we cannot punish someone for something that may prove to be true.

How many athletes have been accused of being some baby's daddy only to find out a few months later it wasn't true. When the athlete was accused it's front page news but if they're proven innocent it's hidden on the back cover. I know plenty of college athletes take money. I know lots of famous people break that law and get away with it because they're famous. I also know that the bad ones get a lot more press than the good ones and that we can't punish an seemingly nice kid until there is evidence that proves that he deserves it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lawyers are Evil

In my job I have to deal with lawyers on a regular basis. This is, without question, the worst part of my job. I have not had a lot of experience with lawyers outside of the environmental industry. I'm sure there are great lawyers out there that are fabulous people. I'm not writing about those lawyers. I'm writing about the a-holes that I have to deal with in my very narrow area of interest.

Lawyers, even environmental lawyers, are not technical people. They do not have a understanding of remediation technologies, state laws, geology and a number of other factors that affect site cleanup so they must depend on engineers, like myself, to be their technical experts. Unfortunately, even in areas that they are not experienced, lawyers are incapable of listening to anyone else's opinion. When they don't understand the science behind your recommendations, they attack your proposal based on how the case will hold up in court. But not until after they've asked you to explain to them for the 50th time your reasoning only to shoot you down and end up at the same conclusion they had before talking to you.

If 100% of your decision is based on what you could save in court costs then you don't need any technical people advising you. When you make me sit through hours of worthless conference calls where I might say 4 words. When you have me in meetings as a "technical expert" to give a 30 second answer to a question that I have given you in dozens of previous meetings and that is clearly stated in the hundreds of pages of historical documents that I have sent you. You are wasting my time and insulting my intelligence. I know its hard for you to believe that I have better things to do than sit on the phone while you talk at me for hours on end but I do. I am not a paralegal. I am not a secretary. I am not a legal assistant. No, I didn't go to law school, but my engineering degree doesn't make me uneducated or in some way subordinate to you .

The problem is that every time I talk to these lawyers I get stuck in their trap. If I could only turn my brain off and agree with everything they say I could avoid a lot of this crap. But I try to reason with them and they beat my down. My face gets hot, my hands shake, my blood pressure shoots up, my heart thumps so loudly I think other people must hear it, there is a lump in my throat and my day is ruined. When I get home I have a headache and a brain full of all the things I would love to say to them but never will.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What happened to my shows?

I fell in love with Glee from the pilot episode. I loved that there was a running story line and great covers of songs. It was a like a mini Broadway musical every week with combined with a teenage soap opera. There have been a couple of bright spots this season but, for the most part, it's not living up to it's own hype this year. The story lines are all over the place and there is almost no connection between the different episodes. They seem more focused on having a "theme" episode than on good writing. I hope that this is just a slump and the smart, original show that I fell in love with last year will come back.

The Soup is another show that has lost it's way. It used to be a compilation of the best clips from shows on TV from the past week mixed with witty commentary and surprise special guests. A lot of the clips aren't very funny any more. It seems like Joel Mchale, the host, is trying his hand at stand up (not good) and depending on his jokes and not the clips to get a laugh. The special guests are completely scripted and are on to promote their latest project rather than add to the show. It's like one big commercial.

I know good TV doesn't last forever but I had hoped these two shows would. Sigh