Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Why does it matter?

All over social media, people are posting photos of Freddy Gray's criminal history in order to justify his death.

You know why it matters?

Because he's a human being.

By saying that his death shouldn't matter, you are stating that the people in power have the ultimate decision making poweer over your life.

What happens tomorrow when they decide that list of criminal activities only has to be 5 long for you to be killed in the back of a van?

Or only 1 long?

Or just enough parking tickets?

When there are no checks and balances for those in power, that power gets corrupted.

It does not mean all people in power are corrupt.

It does not mean all those with a record deserve to die.

I have a record. Sealed. What happens when somebody decides that my immigrant status and my sealed record makes me a disposable human being?

Will y'all sit around and talk about how I deserved it?

I saw a meme today that is perfect for this:

Not every colored person is a criminal
Not every cop is a racist asshole

Some people of every color are assholes and criminals

We all need to be human, and attack it as humans, devoid of color, race, ethnicity ... can we do it in our lifetime or do I have to worry about my kid growing up in a divisive, racist, anti-humanistic society?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Things I remember

Daily dinners at 8 p.m. with the family, followed by television for an hour ... every day

Evenings spent in the front yard, playing card or board games with the family

Making quick runs to the neighborhood store for spicy snacks to have with tea

Birthdays and anniversaries celebrated with family friends we grew up with

Yearly vacations with the family to new places

Helping my dad clean the chicken we got at the butcher shop

Learning how to make a cake from my mom for the first time

Being encouraged to do whatever I wanted by my dad, to the incredulity of neighbors (because I am a girl ;-))

These are things I want Oli to remember when I am gone and he has his own kids to pass traditions on to.

Unlike me, he'll never be able to say he remembers a clean house ;-)

But I hope he can say he remembers eating all meals as a family

Snuggling on weekend mornings no matter what time we woke up

Seeing his parents at whatever activity he was in - swimming, gymnastics, baseball, soccer ...

Going on vacations to see new things and learning history

Having silly dance parties in the kitchen

Playing chutes and ladders, Uno or whatever game it is with his mom and dad

Singing to the radio while driving places

In the end, I hope he can tell his kids that his parents were there for him. That his childhood memories are of all of us together. Unclean house, piles of laundry not done, dirty dishes in the sink notwithstanding ;-)

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

The light in my future

After the slightly depressing post about my brush with racism, I thought it was time to have a more upbeat post. And since I just took a management style quiz, I thought that might be fun to talk about.

My chart looks like this:

So, according to this, my priorities are work are:
  1. Getting results and doing whatever it takes to get them
  2. Taking action and hitting the ground running
  3. Offering challenge and being straightforward
  4. Generating enthusiasm by maintaining an upbeat, positive attitude
Apparently, not all Ds have that number 4, but I can see that in me. I am usually a very outgoing person, so while I can 100% relate to 1-3, I can see #4 as well. I just have to figure out how to combine all 4 to be successful at work.

Even though this assessment points out my strong points, it also showcases things I need to work on if I am going to be an effective leader ever. It states that I can be annoyed with small talk, and people can tell if I am irritated. That's so true!!!

Another sentence that resonated with me was that "making an effort to meet people's emotional needs may require more energy than you're willing to expend." That is something I have to reconcile within myself. People I lead have emotional needs that cannot be left outside their cubes. Whether it be acknowledgement of their accomplishments or empathy for their situation, I need to learn to connect to people at that level.

I also like being in charge and I don't questions my decisions too often, having made them pretty quickly. I am also very competitive and quick to point out things that don't make sense to me, pushing for change.

My biggest motivations are innovation, implementing ideas, making key decisions, getting things moving and generating enthusiasm.

On the other hand, my stressors are following strict rules, inefficient meetings, slow pace, dull environments and a lack of control.

So, for me to be a good leader, I need to:
  1. Consider my words carefully to avoid hurting and shutting down others. I need to learn to apologize even when I unintentionally disregard or hurt somebody's feelings.
  2. Need to give people time to take in my suggestions, not accept their silence as agreement and give them a chance to share their concerns.
  3. Minimize wasted time and effort by spending some time up front to ensure accuracy instead of running after immediate progress.
The most interesting thing to me about this was that my style has apparently changed over the last 6 months.I like where I've ended up and I realize I might need to work on some things to be effective but I wouldn't change the basic characteristics of who I am.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The dark spot in my past

I say "the" dark spot as if there's only one. But, there's one experience in my past that I alternate between wishing it never happened and being grateful that I went through it and came out stronger. Because it helps me understand what others are still going through and suffer through daily. Folks who are made to feel less than human because of who they are, because of the color of their skin, because they don't look like people around them ...

There's a lot of back story I am going to skip because none of that matters to my story. In 1999 or 2000, I ended up moving to Tullahoma, Tennessee with a white guy (this piece of information is important to the storyline), in order to get myself back on my feet and not go crawling back to my family in shame (little did I know that might have been my best option but I was too proud ... ok, fine I was young and stupid).
My first indication of something being wrong should have been the way people would blatantly stop and stare at me. Or being ignored if I walked into a restaurant in front of the white guy I was with. Or, how people wouldn't really talk to me unless I was with him. Or, the way a cop talked down to me with a very hostile undertone, when I was at a store alone. He even asked me what I was doing in that town and who I was with. Think back to the last time you were asked that while picking up some groceries at your local store. And, I kept ignoring the signs. The truth finally came by, opened it's huge mouth and bit me in the ass the day I was arrested.

Have your jaws lifted yet? The white guy thought he would teach me how to behave by lifting a hand against me (don't worry, he's still alive and breathing somewhere, and if he isn't, it was natural causes). I didn't take too kindly to being hit. (I've left a lot of incidents out) I hit back and walked out. The neighbors called 911. Cops came. Took one look at me, another at the white guy and told me to come with them. I was shocked silent. The entire way to the police station, the 2 cops in the front of the squad car kept up a diatribe about their town going to hell with these "foreign types" moving in. How women and specially women "like me" not knowing their place. How this should teach me a lesson to control my mouth. I am documenting one incident in the span of 3 months where I probably heard something similar at least twice a week.

Thankfully, they let me make a call before trying to book me. I called my aunt in CA who told them that I'd be on the first flight out of their town the next morning, if they would just take me to a motel for the night. I couldn't be more grateful for whatever she said to them or how she found me a way out of that hell hole. I was just glad to get out of the police station where I was very well aware of all the hostile looks and comments being made. On the way to the hotel, I got a very nice lecture about how they hoped I'd learned my lesson. How I didn't belong there (like I hadn't gotten that message already). about how they didn't really know what I was anyways, was I mixed or something? And how they hoped they'd never see "my type" in their town again.

If you are a white male, I am sorry but can you even imagine that? Being treated worse than a family pet? As a woman of color, I alternated between wanting to do something that would definitely land me in jail or worse and just curling up and disappearing. Even thinking of those few months of my life makes my heart race, my hands colder and tears spring up in my eyes. I rarely speak of it because even now it has the power to make me feel ashamed, because I feel somehow that I did something wrong ...

I cannot imagine how as humans, we can treat somebody so bad that we don't see them as fellow humans. My ordeal wasn't even that bad, there are people who suffer worse ever single day, every single moment of every day because their skin color isn't lily white.

Racism is very much alive and thriving in every part of this country still, some places more than others. We have to identify it in our thoughts, words and actions. Stop joking. Stop ignoring. Start facing. Start confronting. Even if you are not racist, people around you are. Stop walking away. Societies don't change because a large group of humans suddenly rise up. It comes from individuals standing up one by one to create a large group speaking out against injustices.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

No More Miss Four Eyes (sung to the tune of No More Mr. Nice Guy)

So, today, I had my eyes operated on. I had a surgeon cut my lens, lift the flap, do some fancy light show and fix my eyes, hopefully forever!

But, let me back up. I've been wearing glass since I was 11 (or close enough). I tried to get contact lens when I was still in India, but all they had were rigid lens and they hurt my eyes. So, for more than a decade after that, I just dealt with glasses and middle of the night blindness when I'd forget to put them on before wandering through the house.

Then came soft contacts and I ran to my eye doctor. She found me the perfect pair that didn't hurt my eyes. In fact, I could barely feel them. It was amazing. I could even sleep in them, and it was almost like having perfect vision.

Enter allergies. Now, my best friends, the permeable, night wearable contacts, became my enemies. Itchy eyes meant I couldn't keep the contacts in for too long. I was back to suffering glasses. So, even though I'd looked into it many times, I made the final decision last year and went to see Dr. Kameen about LASIK. I signed up to have the surgery in January, keeping in mind Healthcare Savings Accounts and such.

I was so very impressed by Dr. Kameen and his entire team. Everyone I came in contact with was wonderful, without any pressure to get this done there and then. I think that's what made me sign up with them without hesitation. Even though other places have Groupons out for LASIK, and if you know me, you know my affinity for a deal. Well, I didn't want to gamble with something as serious as  an eye surgery and secondly, his staff just made me feel welcome, comfortable and safe. I had my pre-op done and scheduled the surgery, but then I had to reschedule it for July because of how Jeff's Flexible Spending Account works. They did not blink an eye or give me any trouble, just rescheduled it to July 24th. They gave me my prescriptions for eye drops and sent me on my merry way.

Fast forward to today. I had put my antibiotic drops in last night and this morning as told. I showed up at their office at 10 a.m., half an hour before my appointment. The receptionist was very quick in getting my consent forms filled and my payment taken care of. Then, a nurse took me back for some last minute checks - make sure there was no change in the thickness of my cornea as well as in my prescription number. Dr. Kameen came in to make sure Jeff and I didn't have any questions. I got some Valium and some more eye drops and at 11:15, with my hair and feet in blue netting, I was taken to the surgery room.

The nurse covered me with a blanket because she noticed me shivering. I mean, really, it's the small things that make a difference! Then, Dr. Kameen pressed down on my eye to let me know the level of pressure I'd feel during the procedure. Each eye took less than 1 minute. I got numbing drops in each eye, then he used some sort of a white yellow circular tool to hold my lids open, while he used the laser to cut the flap and pull it open. This was where I felt the most pressure. Next, he used a tool that reminded me of something from the movie Clockwork Orange. Metal, goes on the bottom and top eyelids, and keeps them open. Then, Dr. Kameen help my head still as the laser did some fancy light work and apparently fixed my eyes. Dr. Kameen talked to me throughout the procedure, asking if I was ok and counting down each step. I didn't even have time to worry. Or, that was the Valium working ;-)

When he told me to blink some and open my eyes, I looked at the ceiling and read a sign "Believe in Miracles," that had been blurry to me when I'd laid down. It was AMAZING! They gave me post-op instructions and a reminder for my follow-up appointment and we were on our way. By the time we'd had lunch and were heading home around 12:30, I could feel a slight ache starting in my eyes. But I COULD SEE!!! By the time I got home, I could barely keep my eyes open and took a 2 hr nap. When I woke up, the ache was gone.

Right now, there's a slight scratchiness in my eyes, like there's a contact lens in there bothering them. But, I CAN SEE!!! Some things are slightly milky, which I was warned about and should get better by tomorrow morning. I mean, I am going to drive myself to my follow-up appointment in the morning. How cool is that?

I am so glad I got this done and got it done by Dr. Kameen. I would recommend him to anybody who asks. He might not be the cheapest but when it comes to your vision, I don't think you want savings over guarantee.

There you have it. No more glasses, no more contacts, no more sudden blindness because I rubbed my eyes forgetting there was a lens in there, no more solutions to be remembered for trips ... I am so excited for my 20/20 without modifications future!

The only drawback right now is I have to look like this for a couple days when I am indoors (sunglasses when out) ... even Oli seems to have an opinion about my dorkiness: