Friday, February 17, 2017

Food for thought but not for comment

"I've been turning it over and over again
Like a stone I'm waiting to wish on
I've been holding my breath just wondering when
You'll make some sort of decision."

In my last post, I was struggling with the problem of what individuals can do, what difference individuals can make, in the face of widespread systemic corruption.

Then a friend sent me a link to a post by Jake Fuentes in which which I thought he summed up my sense of irresolution pretty well.
First, stop believing that protests alone do much good. Protests galvanize groups and display strong opposition, but they're not sufficient. Not only are they relatively ineffective at changing policy, they're also falsely cathartic to those protesting. Protestors get all kinds of feel-good that they're among fellow believers and standing up for what's right, and they go home feeling like they've done their part. Even if protestors gain mild, symbolic concessions, the fact that their anger has an outlet is useful to the other side. Do protest, but be very wary of going home feeling like you've done your job. You haven't.
Unfortunately, Mr. Fuentes didn't wax as eloquent on what it is that we can actually do to get the job done.

I read this quote to Neil, who disagreed with it entirely. He cited the civil rights movement of the '50s and '60s. He said there were protests and marches. People had TV by then. They saw what was happening, black people being beaten for peaceful demonstrations. They saw segregation and discrimination. And they said, oh no, that's wrong, we're not having that any more.

So where are those people now?

And why did the civil rights movement last 15 years? We only have to survive 8 years or, with luck or justice, some fraction thereof.

Not to mention the goals of the civil rights movement have still not fully been met. Integration simply didn't happen just because it was the law of the land. We still have segregation. We still see (and/or experience) discrimination all the time. White privilege is real.

Only I don't feel so privileged right at the moment. Could it be because I'm a woman of Jewish descent, the mother of daughters?

Neil keeps trying to get me to watch Saturday Night Live and I keep refusing after trying a few times. Maybe it's funny but I don't find it funny, I find it sad. And I find it makes a joke of deadly serious matters. And I fear it risks making people feel good, because they are laughing, and if they are laughing, how bad can it be?

Neil tells me I am wrong. He doesn't beat about the bush. He doesn't say, we can agree to disagree. He says it's funny and it brings important matters into the light by mocking them and making fun of them.

So how is that helping?

I'm still lost and uncertain and appalled and feeling helpless.

So I keep living my life day by day.

We spend a few days in Keller with K.C. and Ry and Chris, to celebrate our birthdays. Chelsea joined us and we stayed at an Airbnb home which was really nice. The home that is.

It was nice being together and especially nice getting good tight hugs from my grandson and seeing him do adorable 4-year-old things. It was nice going to the movies with my girls and my boy, even if I fell asleep during Sing. It was a cute movie, but the theater was cold and I get sleepy when I'm cold.

Chelsea had told us in advance that she was at the tail end of a month of the Whole30 diet. No dairy, no soy, no legumes, no grains, no sugar, no peanut butter. It's basically a meat/chicken/fish and certain vegetables diet, using only certain oils or clarified butter. But since Chelsea is primarily a vegetatian with a recent sensitivity to eggs, it made things difficult.

The night before the trip I called her. She and Rob were having dinner. I asked what they were having and it was something with black beans. I pointed out that beans are not on the diet. She said she added them back for protein after eggs began to give her an allergic reaction. She seemed pleased that I had read up on the diet.

That may have been the last time she was pleased with me. I've felt for a long time that Chelsea carries a lot of anger toward me. I don't know why and I'm not sure she really knows either. On this trip, no matter what I said, it tripped her anger trigger.

In one conversation I asked her why she didn't eat meat. I was curious whether her reasons were ethics or health related or something else. She made a speech about how the beef-farming industry is the number one contributor to global warming. I was pretty sure that wasn't true, but I've learned with Chelsea that it's never worth arguing. So I gave my typical Chelsea response. I said, I didn't know that. I say that a lot with Chelsea, along with, I don't remember saying that or doing that or even thinking that. You might be right, I just don't know, I just don't remember.

I talked to Neil about it, and he said if it were him, he'd push back, question, challenge, reason with her. I told him I didn't have his mad people skills. I never can find the right words to say that don't just make things worse.

Nonetheless, influenced I suppose by what he had said, I did push back and it went down badly. I caught the end of a conversation about diets. I talked about what we eat. She asked me why I was talking about it. I said I was making conversation. She asked me why I was being so defensive. I said, it's because you make me feel defensive, no matter what I say, it's always the wrong thing, I'm better off not talking at all.

I flew off the handle a bit when I said all this. I could hear the edge of hysteria in my voice. I apologized. I apologized again the next day, before she left.

She said she forgave. She said she knew I loved her and was proud of her.

After we got home, I sent her this note:
Thanks Chelsea for my flower, socks and chocolate. Thanks for coming to spend time with us for my birthday and K.C.'s.

Just for the record, I don't feel like you are judging me by your diet choices. If I talk about my diet, my intent isn't to defend it. I'm just making conversation.

Also for the record I'm not judging you for your diet. If I ask why you don't eat meat, it's because I'm interested, not because I'm challenging you to defend your choice.

And If it's something you'd rather not talk about, that's ok, just say so. What we each choose to eat is a personal decision, as is how much we opt to share about it.

Mother-daughter relationships are fraught. I know mine was with my mother. I tried really hard not to make the same mistakes (what I saw as her mistakes). In the process I'm sure I made plenty of my own.

All I can do is reiterate that I mean no harm, I love you and admire you and wish I knew the right things to say and the right words to communicate them.

Thanks again for coming and for the thoughtful gifts.


She hasn't replied.

I'm not surprised.

I'm surprised she hasn't unfriended me on Facebook.

I wonder why I get no credit for all the good things I do and have done. All the times we've gone to Austin to see one of her shows. All the small ways I try to help her, financially and otherwise. All the love I feel for her in spite of everything, no matter how she interacts with me.

I consider dropping her cell phone from our phone plan. But that would be declaring war.

I don't want to be at war with my child.

So I'll give it some time and wait for her to be in touch.

And also for the record (although I wouldn't dare to point it out to her because she's made up her mind and the facts are a personal afront to her), the leading causes of global warming are as follows, according to the EPA.
The primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States are:

  • Electricity production (30 percent of 2014 greenhouse gas emissions) – Electricity production generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. Approximately 67 percent of our electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, mostly coal and natural gas.2
  • Transportation (26 percent of 2014 greenhouse gas emissions) – Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation primarily come from burning fossil fuel for our cars, trucks, ships, trains, and planes. Over 90 percent of the fuel used for transportation is petroleum based, which includes gasoline and diesel.3
  • Industry (21 percent of 2014 greenhouse gas emissions) – Greenhouse gas emissions from industry primarily come from burning fossil fuels for energy, as well as greenhouse gas emissions from certain chemical reactions necessary to produce goods from raw materials.
  • Commercial and Residential (12 percent of 2014 greenhouse gas emissions) – Greenhouse gas emissions from businesses and homes arise primarily from fossil fuels burned for heat, the use of certain products that contain greenhouse gases, and the handling of waste.
  • Agriculture (9 percent of 2014 greenhouse gas emissions) – Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture come from livestock such as cows, agricultural soils, and rice production.
Not to put too fine a point on it, methane gas from bovine intestinal tracts makes up only a portion of the 9 percent of agriculture-related greenhouse gas emissions.

So this didn't turn out to be that post about Chelsea's birth story.

I'll get on that soon. I promise.

I'm standing here freezing at a phone booth baby
In the middle of God knows where
I got one quarter left your machine picks up
But baby I know you're there
And I just start crying 'cause it makes no sense
To waste these words and twenty-five cents
On a losing game
Baby you win again

I've been turning it over and over again
Like a stone I'm waiting to wish on
I've been holding my breath just wondering when
You'll make some sort of decision
To let me in or to let me go
I'll always lose if I never know
Where I fit in
Baby you win again

I can't be right if I'm always wrong
I can't stand up if I'm always kneeling
At your altar or at your throne
You could show just a little feeling
For who I am
Baby you win again

Last night I dreamed we were standing here
On the corner of love and heartache
You jumped into your car you found first gear
And baby I felt the earth shake
And I woke up trembling with my heart in my throat
'Cause there's never a look a word or a note
At the bitter end
Baby you win again

I can't be right if I'm always wrong
I can't stand up if I'm always kneeling
At your altar or at your throne
You could show just a little feeling
For who I am
Baby you win again

(Mary Chapin Carpenter)

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz