sisyphus, or “why didn’t I get a condo?”

endless    I forget when or where I first even heard of Sisyphus. It seems to me that I was watching a movie that made some reference to it, and I had to ask someone to explain it to me.  but from the moment that image entered my consciousness, his plight has always resonated with me.  This has been nowhere more true than when I have faced a foot of snow covering my sidewalk and driveway. Last year, I “paid” (it was on a credit card, which I’m certain is not yet paid off, so I can’t really say that I’ve “paid” it yet?!) for a service whereby my driveway would be plowed each time it snowed. (I can handle the sidewalk . . . at least, I can handle carving out one little strip of the sidewalk so that it’s free of snow.) This went well, until near the end of the winter, when the driveway went unplowed two or three times in a row. When I called, I was told that his truck had broken down, blah blah blah. Finally, he told me, “I’ll make it up to you next year.” Of course, by the time he spoke those words, I was already quite clear that there was simply not going to BE a “next year” with him . . .

Sadly, however, neither was there a “next year” with anybody else. When it came close to being wintertime again this year, I was completely out of credit cards with which to perform my usual “smoke and mirrors” maneuvers. A neighbor had approached my tenant a few times, and said that he would be willing to shovel our driveway all winter for less than what I had paid the (ultimately delinquent) plow guy.  We took him up on it . . . only to find that he, too, soon flaked out. In one sense, it was okay . . . he had done a really good job a few times, so I tried to tell myself that I’d gotten my money’s worth . . . but at the same time, I was frustrated. Did he assume that he could screw me over because he’d seen someone else do it?

Anyway . . . tonight I shoveled. The city plows had blocked in my driveway in such a way that it was impossible for me to even pull the car in . . . so I did my usual sidewalk path, and then attempted to tackle the driveway. I got about a third of the way through before giving up . . . but it only took me five minutes to pull out my phone and say to myself, “I need to take pictures so that I can blog about this.”

I was so inspired that I almost went inside to get my regular camera. but I didn’t. I didn’t do much of anything. now I am sore, and I still have a buttload of snow in my driveway . . .

um. I don’t think any of this actually has to do with Sisyphus . . . except you’re supposed to get the visual . . . as much as I am trying to push away the mounds of snow, they just keep returning . . .

it’s madness. but now I need to go to sleep and hope & pray that I can get out of bed in the morning . . . because of course now I’m sure that I’m going to die of a heart attack, or at least a backache . . .                                                                      the never-ending snow

Michigan folks . . . vote today . . . BUT beware

I got wind of this from an e-mail . . . one of those “reply to all” things–and right away I thought it had to be some kind of urban legend.

 Turns out . . . not quite.

 it’s a bunch of gobbledygook, but the short answer appears to be: I can’t vote for Obama today. WTF? I will vote for Hillary if/when she’s all we have left, but I’m not ready for that just yet.

politics is so idiotic.

Sunday blogging against racism #21a–true tales from my former workplace

I wrestled mightily with the decision to leave my good-paying job at the phone company two years ago. Sometimes I still wonder about my timing (that I would have left was, I am certain, inevitable eventually, but sometimes I wonder if I should have held out a little bit longer), but in another sense, I just knew that it was time to go.

hmm. none of what I’ve said thus far has anything to do with what I’m about to say . . . except for the fact that I am occasionally reminded of the rather “unique” culture of that place . . .

I was reminded anew this weekend when a friend related a story of a recent incident at my old workplace. Apparently, there was some minor issue between two employees, and after the one woman involved (who is black) walked away, the other woman (white) said, “If she was hanging from an apple tree, I wouldn’t bother cutting her down.”

(yes, this is hearsay, blah blah blah–and perhaps if I hadn’t heard so many similar comments myself during my time there, I would question this account, but I can assure you that such comments were far from uncommon in that place.)

 There are two aspects of this that are particularly maddening to me:

1) It was another employee who overheard this comment and went to management with it. Apparently, the manager who received the complaint is friendly with the person who (“allegedly”) made this remark. The issue was eventually brought to a higher level of management, but although an obligatory statement was made about this being “unacceptable”, apparently one manager also encouraged the person who reported the incident to contact the company’s EEO department for more help.

I am quite familiar with the tendency of the management there to sweep such things under the rug, to fall back on, “but it’s a ‘he-said, she-said’; there were no witnesses.” (They could get away with this in large part because of the reluctance of the other employees to admit that they had heard anything.) From what I understand, the woman the comment was directed towards (although she did not actually hear it said) is reluctant to pursue this and apparently doesn’t want to “make waves”. BUT THIS IS NO TIME TO BE MAKING FLIPPANT REMARKS ABOUT PEOPLE HANGING FROM TREES! (not that there’s ever a “right” time for such comments, but in light of the events of the past year, such a comment is even more egregious, and I don’t care WHO claims that they didn’t hear anything, it’s still NOT okay to sweep this under the rug. It was like this when I was there also–that whole mentality of, “if we don’t talk about it, it will go away.”

2) I would be remiss if I presented this story without exploring my own complicity in the matter, and the fact that it is so much easier for me to express outrage about blatant, “out there”/”not me” racism than to examine the mess that lurks within my own heart. This would be a perfect example of how we so easily get stuck in Power¹–the ways that racism hurts people of color–and avoid looking at the exponential damage that racism causes in Power² (the ways that I benefit as a white person, such as the fact that my manager, who is likely to be from the same majority culture as I am, will more easily dismiss complaints against me) and Power³ (the fact that racism ultimately destroys us all.) Continue reading

Sunday blogging against racism #12b–The Price of Sugar

I saw this documentary yesterday–Thank GOD for the $3.50 theater, which besides being affordable (as long as you don’t want to eat anything!), is also bringing a number of documentaries into this sorry old town.

The movie was only in Grand Rapids for a few days, but I’m guessing that it will be out on video fairly soon, if it isn’t already–so add it to your NetFlix list NOW. And read more about how you can take action against this modern-day slavery (at different points in the movie, it is referred to as “almost” slavery or “quasi-slavery”–BULLSHIT! There’s nothing “quasi” about it!)  that is taking place right in our own hemisphere, and with generous subsidies from the US Government.

 One of my friends expressed concern that this documentary would hold up the “white man” as the hero, and to some extent that is the case, but more than that, it seems to me that (at least in one pivotal scene near the end of the movie), it’s the CHURCH–God’s people standing together–that comes across as the TRUE hero.

But when you see it, you can let me know what you think . . .