The Things We See, And How We Behave

Becoming_Lesbian_Quote

After turning 40, I began to see a change in the way that people perceived things and life: more often than not, most want to shy away from the real, even though it is blatantly staring them right in the face.

And they look puzzled when I walk away, head in hand, trying to realize how someone can say something so stupid and idiotic, yet moronic to me, and think that it makes sense.

I took a daring risk for me.  I decided, unequivocally, to move forward in my life with the aspect of moving to a dream job, and letting myself be more well-rounded than the masses.  The scary thing for me is that I am still a woman in tech, black in skin, and dark in nature, but comically funny in nerdom.  There is no place for me in the real world, so I know that I walk alone in this manner.

When I became the lesbian that I am today, I knew no one would outright accept me all the time.  I began to understand, little by little, that the main point of people’s perception was to show you that they did or did not accept you for who you are.  It’s based on antiquated technology that proves in some sort of small-minded fashion that you do or do not belong to their group.  As though… their group was the only one that existed and/or mattered?  I’m not sure, but I guess with small-mindedness, being a part of the normal steed is a regular.  I don’t get it most times.  And they look puzzled when I walk away, head in hand, trying to realize how someone can say something so stupid and idiotic, yet moronic to me, and think that it makes sense.  I already knew the “trouble” I’d be in, but I grossly underestimated the sheer insanity that small-mindedness would bring. Like REALLY underestimated.  The assumptions are… staggering.

I had never really experienced it. I thought it was just fantasy, or exaggeration.

And yet, as we go out in the world, we trust these people – these moronic little imbeciles – to make decent and informative decisions.  Then my partner told me something that hit the nail on the head: they don’t think, they want to be told what to do.  Again, I’m quite sure that I’ve waxed philosophic on this topic many times, but I still find it baffling that these buffoons have not been weeded out of society.  I heard the jokes about mindless managers being praised, about employees being staid into a job well beyond their comprehensive capacity to think logically, or just in general cutting off and demeaning the intelligent, well-meaning assistance for the brute force homo sapiens’ base instinctual process of the person who just looks like you, but is no where near as capable of doing the job.  I had never really experienced it.  I thought it was just fantasy, or exaggeration. Then the stories started pouring in, and I started to see it for myself.

Years went by, and I started to notice a pattern.  I saw the buffoonery, I saw the ignorance, I saw the blatant disrespect for human life, and it became evident to me: they do want to be told what to do, because otherwise, they will do the most dangerous, basic, instinctual thing that their primary brains could think of.  They don’t have a master.  So, they don’t know what to do.

This often leads the relationship to becoming toxic, and a workhorse of a scenario to fight back from.

This seemed funny to me.  Because in my experience, the people that needed masters are historically the ones that WERE… over slaves of color.  But then I thought deeper: What if that is the ruse? What if, and follow me here, the masters needed someone to tell them what to do… and the slaves were the ones to let them know what to do… and by that, their ego told them to do the exact opposite of what the slaves wanted.  Thus, everything perpetuated and unfolded?

You’re probably like, “Wait, are you saying that slaves were responsible for their own slavery?” Of course the heck not. I’m saying that people, these… drones… were following orders.  Led by ego.  And determined by doing the opposite of what they should do in a sad attempt to prove themselves smarter, more powerful, and thus more keen.  Many humans that process this way seek to be more keen over their kin.  They seek to feel better by schadenfreude.  What better way by proving you’re more adept than the people you own?

Now, let’s take that analogy and apply it to the work situation.  Many employees tell their management, repeatedly, what can be done to improve a scenario.  Some management, not to be outdone, do exactly the opposite of what the employees implore.  As a result, they harbor more control over the employee base, and decimate those that are perceived by others to be more agile, friendly, and cooperative, effectively destroying the employees’ personality, and turning the company workplace into a toxic environment.

The fault lies in the biases – unconscious or not – that we bring to the table.

In personal relationships (platonic or not), the same can be said.  The weaker or more feeble-minded takes on a domineering personality, often asking the stronger one for advice, then turning against them by doing the complete opposite.  This often leads the relationship to becoming toxic, and a workhorse of a scenario to fight back from.  Although, many platonic ones fall to the side (ghosting, or disappearance through a slow lack of communication), while the romantic ones tend to bite on the fact that they don’t want to go through the emotional work of building that close of a connection again (and to be honest, who really wants to reveal their deepest, darkest secret to someone again… and then hope they still love you?).  Even though, I will say in either scenario, walking away or cutting it off when it gets to that point is the best method, but I won’t promise that it’ll be easy to do.

In the scenarios listed – slavery, work, and relationships – all involve human to human contact.  All of them involve humans making decisions about other humans.  The fault lies in the biases – unconscious or not – that we bring to the table. Rather it be assuming that another person is dumb by an unscientifically-based denouncement, or the person is judging their own performance based on a bunch of superficial bullsh*t, humans have a difficult time being real with themselves and others, in general.  So, it’s no surprise their behavior reeks of fake narratives and filtered perspectives on how to benefit society.  The best we can do some days is to rip off the band aid, and reveal what’s underneath.

Selfishness and Privilege

Playroom_Quote

I am always confused about the ability of people to be selfish without recognition.  It fascinates me as one would watch a squirrel run up a tree and become entangled in the leaves for what seems like no plausible reason.

When I was little, I was taught to pay attention to the people in the room.  It was something I thought, obviously, was annoying.  It’s my home, my playroom (which was my bedroom), and my area and space… why should I pay attention to anyone else?  They’ve come in to see me!

Now, my mother was very apt to remind me of the lessons that I should learn when making friends and considering the thoughts and feelings of others.  Something that children should do, and – I assumed – all good people were taught in their youth.

Fast forward to the present time, I’m surrounded by 20, 30, 40, and middle-aged folks who only know how to think about themselves, that move around as if no one is in their playroom.  It’s as if they had reverted back… or worse, never received the training at all.  Did their mothers just let them play, scurry, rant, push, and cry loudly without so much as a word to them?  Did they never shush them? Tell them to sit up straight? Or pay attention to what’s surrounding you?

No.

Sadly, all to often the truth is that these children were allowed to roam free.  Much like the little boy kicking vigorously in the back of my airline seat, the guardian or parent around didn’t do so much as to reprimand them with a sharp glare.  I see it then, and I see it now – a grown man who can’t tell that he’s being too overbearing, cutting off anyone he feels uncomfortable with; a young lady who publicly displays that she can’t travel north of a fictitiously-made line by her ancestors because it’s deemed “too dangerous over there”; an elderly woman who’s mouth draws agape at the look of my dark skin walking into the monthly wine club, where I presented my membership card, in hand.

So what does one do when they are surrounded by such selfishness provided at a high cost of privilege?

Pray? Fear? Stay away?

I decided early on that I had a choice: I can choose to continue to deal with folks that don’t know their privilege from a hole in the ground; or, I can try to teach them about it and help them understand. Yet and still, I can kindly remind folks that there are some things greater on this earth than thinking about themselves first – which, by the way, isn’t the same as putting yourself first.

I’ve grown tired of waiting for adults to be… adults.  I deal with a stressful schedule and a lot of misunderstandings by way of people not controlling either their anger or perception of what’s really going on.

Today, I start anew.  Kicking people out of my life and giving less f*cks than before.

Mind: The Lost Art of Thinking

Mind_Quote

It’s been a long time since I’ve written.  Most days are filled with me being too tired to see left from right, others are just me running around like a chicken with my head cut off.  But in every step, I have carefully, thoughtfully, and creatively planned my moments.  I make decisions based on where I think I’ll be next.  That, in itself, seems to be a lost art.

I think on things that might need to happen, but also on things that are not yet formulated in the front of my mind.  I find myself making possible decisions down the road, in happenstance that my first, fourth, fifteen, and forty-fifth thought don’t come to fruition.  Although this seems extreme, many people don’t go past the first two.

I’ve noticed in my world that many people do not think about things.  And then when you admit to it, they shame you with the same disdain they would receive from a doting parent or beloved person they looked up to.  That happens to me and it confuses me: Why should I accept your shortcomings as fact and my own as mere neglectfulness?

I think that people do this to make themselves feel better.  If they can’t understand you, or your thought pattern is too far flung from their own, they make you… convince you… how wrong your train of reasoning may be.  “It doesn’t align with my own,” they may say.  “My thoughts are more reasonable [to me], so your consideration… your explanation… as to why we should even go with yours sound like complete and utter babble.  I disagree.  I disagree because I’m scared.  And what I’m scared of is you being right, me being wrong, and not seeing at all how you could be right ahead of time. Or, at all.  That, would make me feel dumb.  And I don’t want to feel dumb.  So I will get to you, first.”

The anger, the sheer embarrassment that one must feel could be surmounting.  I know this feeling because I had it.  As Randall Munroe said in Thing Explainer, he used “big words” because he felt like he needed to prove to people that he was smart.  I’ll take it even further to say that they could be used to prove that one was far beyond the typical person.  I know.  Because I felt the same thing.  This book opened my mind to me, and I hope it does the same for others, but I digress.

The point of this post is to explain why I didn’t want to be in a place.  And that place depended – hinged – on my multifaceted thinking.  Now, let’s get out of the minutiae of inadequate feelings and progress heavily into the socioeconomic pressures.  Most people are aware of the segregation that happens with minority peoples in this country.  So, how does that play in the ability to think down the line?

I’ve noticed that the majority culture doesn’t have to.  They don’t have to think.  Let’s start at that – Level 1: The High Subconscious.  At this level, people don’t need to really plan anything.  It’s laid out for them to follow, much like the lights of a landing strip for airplanes.  They only need to let their natural instincts guide them right between the lines of lights and they’ll land perfectly with room to stop, turn around, and depart the strip… while being attended to for fueling, maintenance, and whatnot.

Level 2: The Role Fitters.  They’re the ones making sure that even though they may not be quite Level 1, they fit into the globular structure of what’s expected of them.  So they may not be the top airline, but they have plenty of concourses, and maybe even their own section.  They complain about Level 1 and their complete need to be taken care of, but they cannot see that they are receiving the same/similar care, just of a lower grade.  And… more than the next levels. Significantly more.

That brings us to Level 3 through Infinity: The Detailers.  These are like the airlines that struggle for a space on the runway, are often the last to take off (often being bumped by a higher level), and share concourse space with other lower levels.  With each lower level, another layer of pride is stripped. The further away one is from Level 1, the less they’ll receive and the harder it will be to understand and comprehend what it’s like to be working on a subconscious level.  Their moves are pre-planned, almost to perfection.  Every step becomes more detailed and intentional.  If one were to go to their time schedule, it would be broken down into minute sections, whereas the Level 1 would almost not even have one… it would be more of a general rules of thought landscape (emphasis for irony).

The hard part of being anything other than Level 1 is that the world, society in general, is not designed to teach, grow, or cater to any other level.  People born into the lower levels won’t receive the same outcome given the same material.  Socioeconomic status lessons will have to be passed down from other non-Level 1s in order for them to survive.  Otherwise, they get swept in the systematic belief that they didn’t try hard enough to succeed and that is why they haven’t received the same gifts and treatment as the Level 1s.

But there is a problem.  Those lessons have stopped for the lower levels.  There’s a gap in information.  The sharing with non-1s is halted.  Either the people who could teach/pass the knowledge to them are taken away, or a new system has confused the design of disseminating this information and thus breaking the chain of progress.  This break expands exponentially, starting a whole generation of people from scratch, and leaving them with the belief they deserve – and will be – treated as equals.

When it comes to race, gender roles, misogyny, and sexual orientation, each one has it’s own Level.  And even within that level, are more levels – First Class on down to Coach.  Overall, we need to see those Levels in order to fix the problems with them.  The hardest part is admitting that there is one.

That is PTSD… for me.

PTSDforme

Imagine seeing something in your life.  Imagine seeing it over and over again.  Imagine that you have no control over it.

That is PTSD… for me.

Think about something horrific happening in your life.  Something that changes you, makes you a new person.  Something that changes your perspective of everyday life, and what it means to be human and yourself.

Now imagine someone telling you that it’s stupid, to just change it, be different.  And you try.  You pray.  You get on your knees and ask for forgiveness for whatever you’ve done although you know not what it is that has caused this torture in your life, and you say that you’ll change your ways to whatever you need to do.  You plea.  You wait.  You listen.  You repent.  You wait some more.  You repeat until you can’t hear your own voice anymore.

That is PTSD… for me.

Counseling helps.  But when your counselor says that black people being killed is just paranoia in your mind, it doesn’t help.

Talking to friends help.  But when your friends say that you’re delusional and focusing too much on the negative, it doesn’t help.

That is PTSD… for me.

I woke up this morning, thinking that I had a handle on life.  That for once, I had a grip on what I believed and who I was.  But then, something threw me off.

I thought I had thoroughly explained myself to the people I love, but I learned that my truth only hurts and confuses them and they don’t know why I hide my speech.

That is PTSD… for me.

I thought I made sense.  I thought my truth was clear.  I thought my life was easy.

That is PTSD… for me.

That is PTSD… for me.

That… is PTSD.

Do What You Love, Despite the Fear

MyQuotes_PassionEffort

At first, this blog was going to be about following your passion, and then I read this:

http://blogmaverick.com/2012/03/18/dont-follow-your-passion-follow-your-effort/

And then, I stopped to think.

Where does this cycle start?  Which comes first: the passion or the effort?

It seems pretty clear from the article that effort comes first, but really, to start something you have to have a mundane interest in it.

Take for example my thoughts.  I didn’t know what a computer specialist or engineer was.  So, there was no way that I would even know it was something I wanted to do.

Once I stumbled on it… only once it was shown to me… did I decide that it was something worth pursuing.

Am I the greatest at it?  Am I the most adept computer specialist engineer in the entire world?  I would argue to say that I am not.  However, my efforts to be better have nothing to do with whether I’m existingly good or “the best” at it.

That’s where perseverance comes in.  I keep at it.  And yes, with more practice I am getting better.  But, I have not fooled myself into thinking that because I’m not the best that it’s not worth my time or effort.  I think that’s where people often go wrong.

The fear comes in – seeps in – to the skin and the person’s mind becomes disillusioned on the chaos that is insecurity. You begin to wonder, “Was this mine to do to begin with?”  Insecurity is nothing more than fear appearing real to you and setting you on the wrong path to completing your goal.

I’ve stopped to wonder, as I always have, if my fear has prevented me from doing the best things in life.  I almost didn’t go to San Francisco.  I almost didn’t take a job opportunity.  I almost didn’t do an interview, all because of fear.

When it boils down, fear can be a useful subject.  It keeps us out of physical danger, makes us more aware of our surroundings, and demands our focus and things that need our attention.  Otherwise, it seems to only serve the guise of a fool… waiting for you to fail in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So, doing what you love despite the fear won’t hurt you.  Passion is real and optional.  Keep vigil, and your rewards might not be great, but getting the experience is more than worth it.

Picture of Me as a few days ago in my NASA costume gear

Origin Story II

Picture of Me as a few days ago in my NASA costume gear

My latest-ish picture

Every hero has an origin story.  They often start out thinking that the only thing they want is to be just like everybody else.  In March of this year, I resigned myself to realizing that my life would never be the same, let alone “ordinary”.  I may not be a hero, but I do see the potential if cosmic rays hit.

It all started when I was 8.  That was when I was whisked away to the Gifted Program.  Back then, you got yanked out of your 3rd grade class and placed with a bunch of kids you don’t even know in a place you are not familiar with because you tested “superior” or whatnot.

I liked the challenge, but I was surrounded by strangers who winced when I said I lived in the projects of East St. Louis.  It was like I told them I crawled from under a cardboard box and stumbled into the classroom and asked them for food, drink, and some money.  This was my first lesson in what would be called bourgeois.

All I wanted to do was build things from scratch.  After getting my hands on my first computer, all I could do is wonder what was inside of it and how it worked.  I took things apart at home.  So much so, that my mother and I had to compromise on what was game to be taken apart and put back together.

Throughout life, I continued to be thrown into classes and courses where I stuck out.  I continued my gifted education into middle and high school.  I had been talked out of going to it in primary school because the teachers frankly didn’t want me out of their classrooms.  Something about the grade average going down or some such thing.

Once I learned programming in high school, the game had changed.  I wanted to make this machine do and say things that I had in my head but didn’t have down on paper.  I wondered at the vision behind the Macintosh computer.  I wanted to be like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and build something gigantic… something that would change the world, and the way it works.  I wanted it to be glorious, something that would redefine what smart, progressive lifestyles would be like.

But along the way, something strange happened.  Something totally unexpected: people told me that I couldn’t do it because I wasn’t smart enough.  That was the first time anyone told me that.  As a matter of fact, it was often the opposite: you’re too smart for your own good.

I wanted to know what else I needed to know, and I wanted to know desperately.  I felt like I was letting down the thing that I loved so much to do by not knowing enough about it to take care of it properly.  My heart hurt and was burning.  I felt like I didn’t really love it or else I would know what I needed to know already.

I found myself taking a course in college where I was sure that I would be the only girl.  I didn’t care.  I had been the only one in my high school’s blueprint/drafting class and one of a few that stuck around for two computer programming courses when I was refused the boy-heavy computer building one.  What I didn’t anticipate was that I would be the only black person.

The societal pressure in college was unexpected.  After battling with severe depression, returning home degree-less, and feeling all sorts of failure, I embarked on what would be my renewed mission and stepping stone to where I am now: Technical Help Desk.

I remembered how every superhero turns the story from being ordinary to being extraordinary: do something different in a situation where you would normally run and hide.  I would not let depression get in the way nor my fear of doing something wrong.  I didn’t want to look stupid, but I didn’t want to stay that way, either.  I went back to school, back online, and refreshed every little piece of knowledge I had.

I built a computer, from scratch.  I’m talking parts (my solder game isn’t on point, yet): case, motherboard, PCI cards, modem (this was back in the day), network cards, hard drives, CD/DVD drives, cables and wiring, power supply… the works.  And I did it.  All before I had an A+ certification.  The computer still worked for a long time, more than most who bought their PCs the traditional store-bought way.  And as a bonus, I could swap out my parts for cheap and override the repair fees.  I ended up building, fixing, and maintaining computers for others.

I went to a meetup, that landed me a job squarely in the technical field after I had all but given up.  I told one of the staff (who I didn’t even know was recruiting me at the time) that I had tried to get jobs in the technical field but no one wanted me, that I had the best offers in the Help Desk field because I “had a really nice voice”.  It’s like the equivalent to the joke where someone telling you that the blind date they set you up with has a really awesome personality.

Fast forward to now.  I’ve worked as an engineer, tacked on an applicable server engineer certification, and am taking over some duties from former coworkers.  But even more so, I gave myself another shot at taking a chance to be the programmer that I once wanted to be when I left high school all those many years ago.  The funny thing is back then, I thought of it as a side job until I got my computer and OS/software empire up off the ground.

I guess I’m still learning how to fly.

The State of Blackness in Today’s Society

BLACK LIVES MATTER

There, I’ve said it.

If you feel a sense of uneasiness, it may be the latent racism hidden within your bones.

It may be the uncomfortableness of the lump within your throat, telling you that you need to leave or not say anything.

WHITE PRIVILEGE

That’s a thing that is real.

You can not wish it away, say it doesn’t matter to you.

You did not create the rules; it applies to you.

Continue reading