Sunday, January 22, 2017

My Unsolicited Opinions

I’m supposed to be doing my homework. But I decided to take a 5-minute break and look at Facebook because the Falcons are headed to the Superbowl and a lot of my friends are super excited about that. I like seeing posts from friends who are super excited.

A lot of my friends and family, men and women, also marched yesterday in support of women and they posted about that. I really liked seeing those posts.

But a few of my friends have posted long missives about why they don't support the march, which is okay because I'm all about how being allowed to have different opinions is one of the things that makes America great. So here are my opinions. 

My observation about the anti-march posts is that it looks like most of the posts are ones that have been copied onto walls from someone else’s page (which I have done at least once as well, when a post written by my niece mirrored exactly my feelings on the 2016 election). There are two that seem to prevail. One berates the organizers of the march in Washington for disallowing pro-life feminist groups from being sponsors. The other goes on about how “I’m a women… I make my own choices…stop being a victim…protest about things that matter like women’s rights in countries where they are supremely held down.”

First of all, I think it was unfortunate that any women’s group, including the pro-life feminist groups felt disinvited to the party.  I agree that women throughout the world are marginalized, and whether or not you are pro-choice should not be a reason that you aren’t allowed to support women’s causes.  But seriously – some of the posts sounded like there is some conspiracy to encourage all pregnant women to have abortions.

Let me say that NOT ONE person I know who is pro-choice (myself included) is pro-abortion. Abortion is a terrible thing – I am not pro-abortion. So let’s make sure not one girl or woman is in a position to even have to worry about whether or not to get an abortion. Let’s teach our girls about birth control, and having respect, and taking responsibility for their own bodies. Let’s teach our boys about birth control, and having respect, and to take responsibility for their own bodies, and to understand that an unwanted pregnancy is generally  much worse for the girl than for the boy. Let’s stop rape and child abuse and incest. BUT…let’s agree that if an unwanted pregnancy happens, it is very possible that if abortion isn’t a legal alternative, there are women who will find someone to perform one anyway. Someone in a dirty, unsanitary back room. Someone who doesn’t know what they are doing. Someone who can KILL that girl.

Secondly… and I apologize ahead of time for the disgusting profanity copied below...

Is there any woman out there who thinks Donald Trump’s well-publicized description of how he tried to “move on” a woman is okay??? 

Some of the people I know who have posted these canned responses to the march have sons. I want to ask them- "if your son said 'I moved on her like a bitch' and 'grab them by the pussy,' would that be okay with you? Or would you just say 'well… boys will be boys?'' I have to believe that the latter is true if this doesn’t make you physically sick. I don’t care how long ago it was, it’s wrong and perverted. It shows a gross lack of respect for women that we cannot let go unchecked. If we don't continue to let the president and congress know that we won't stand for this type of treatment then it will just get worse. To not say anything against it is to condone it.

Just to be clear, I have friends who I respect who voted for Trump. This isn’t a rant against people who voted for Trump.  But rather than troll anyone’s Facebook post, I figured I’d just get it out here and then let it go. Now back to my homework…

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Ripple Effect

Many of my friends and family are really upset about the outcome of the election. If you know me at all you know that I am too.

But this isn’t a political post.

I’ve had several conversations over the past couple of weeks about how an individual can affect change. There are people out there who can make a large-scale impact on the world. Mother Teresa, for example, or Elon Musk.  But just because my scope of influence is way, way smaller than theirs, that doesn’t mean that I can’t make a difference that matters. And that’s not just true of me, of course. Anyone can.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the scope of whatever disaster you imagine will happen because of [insert catalyst here – Trump’s presidency, illegal immigration, terrorism, global warming – whatever it is that keeps you up at night]. But I know that I can’t change the results of the election. I can’t slow down the melting of the icecaps. I can change my own behaviors so that my contribution to environmental issues is minimized, but I alone can’t fix it.

What I can fix is one child’s ability to read or do their math problems. I can fix a family’s ability to eat healthy food for a week. I can hold someone’s hand while they wait for news from the operating room. I can provide a woman living at a shelter an outfit to wear to a job interview.

My point is that if we want to change the world, we need to start in our communities. If you are frustrated or angry with the state of your community, state, or country, go out and make a difference on your street. Imagine the impact if everyone did just one thing. Imagine if everyone did just one thing every month.

This was what I was telling my brother Tuesday night. Then on Thursday, the leaders of the company I work for said the same thing – it’s time to take care of our communities. And lest you think it was all just talk, they put power behind their words. All employees at 22squared now have 5 VTO days per year to take for volunteer efforts, and if someone is involved in a larger-scale program, they can apply to take a whole month.

I’m grateful to be working for a company that encourages community service. The next step is finding more opportunities to make an impact – to throw a small pebble into the pond and see the ripples grow.

What will you do?

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Grieving For My Friend

My friend Sebastian Benjamin died last Sunday night. I am heartbroken for his family. His wife is a friend - I actually introduced them. And he has three beautiful children whose lives will be forever affected by the loss of this man.

I don’t remember meeting Sebastian. We worked together at JWT Atlanta, and while he started there a couple of years after I did, I have no recollection of a Sebastian-less JWT. Even though we worked on different accounts, we got to be friends, I’d even say good friends, and we talked about everything.

Sebastian was funny. And he thought I was funny, so he made me feel good. We laughed a lot. For the majority of our time together at JWT, we were just two people in a common orbit, spending time together when we could.

For about a year, I actually worked for Sebastian on the US Virgin Islands account. That wasn’t the best arrangement, as it turned out. I wasn’t what the account person he needed on the account, and he wasn’t the manager I needed. But when I moved on to another account, our friendship remained strong, thank God.

I already said he was funny. He was also smart. And he cared about his friends. And when he smiled, everyone around him was warmed by it. He had a “colorful” vocabulary. He was a pain in the ass because he always wanted the work to be better, and he could never tell the client no. He loved his wife, Kim, and told me many times that she was the best thing that had ever happened to him, and he didn’t deserve her. He was madly in love with his children.

All week, memories of Sebastian have been flooding my mind. After I left JWT, we didn’t see each other much. Lives move in different directions. My last memory of him is at an impromptu party at another friend’s house. We were all sitting out on her balcony, and Sebastian was in the corner, right next to me, and we were all laughing. If I won’t have the luxury of making more memories with him, I’m glad this is what I’m left with. But I’m going to miss that laughter.

Rest in peace, my good friend. And I hope you know how much you were loved. The world is a little less vivid without you here.

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Witness for the Prosecution

I had the unenviable task of testifying in a federal trial earlier this week. If I typed the details of the case here, it would be way too long and horribly boring. The short story is that I was a prosecution witness in a case against a vendor that I had contact with when I was working in advertising. The trial was in Tucson, Arizona. Here’s the breakdown of the trip.

The Good:

  •  On the flight to Tucson, the gentleman in the seat to my right didn’t mind me eating a tuna salad sandwich .(Note to self – next time get turkey. The tuna was good, but I wouldn’t have to ask permission to eat turkey.)
  •  My seatmate to the left of me was asleep.
  • I was well prepared by hours of conference calls with the prosecuting attorney and his team.
  • The first defense attorney who questioned me was kind of a doofus (and always smirking) – definitely technology challenged – and he kept asking where the red squiggles on the screen came from. Finally, one of his team rolled his eyes (really - he visibly rolled his eyes) and told Smirky Doofus that one of his file folders was touching the touch screen. This was right after he accidentally turned the system off and didn’t know how to turn it back on again. Looking back, I wish I had secretly touched the screen every once in a while to keep making red squiggles and dots. That would have been hilarious!
  • There were several people on the jury who nodded and smiled encouragingly at me as I was testifying. They were the only really friendly faces I saw in the courtroom that day.
  • One of the nice jury men took a short nap. I couldn’t blame him. I wanted to take a nap too. Actually, what I really wanted was a glass of wine.
  • Right after I saw the man taking the nap, I looked at the clock in the back of the room and the hands were spinning around really fast. I pretended that I was in a movie where everything around me was moving in triple or quadruple time while I was sitting completely still. Well, I actually didn’t, but I wanted to. Instead, I paid close attention to Smirky Doofus so that he couldn’t trip me up with convoluted questions. I had been warned about those earlier in the day.
  • My favorite question that Smirky Doofus asked me was about an email. “So, Ms. Lozano. Do you see this email that Ms. Bailey wrote to my client, Mr. Rivera?” “Well, Mr. Doofus, I see the email, but there aren’t any names in the TO: or cc: sections, so I have no way of knowing if it was sent to Mr. Rivera or not." “Oh…. well… Um… (shuffling of papers) Judge, can I take a minute?” What a doofus. (P.S. I'm guessing that Ms. Bailey had blind copied everyone on the email, which would explain why there were no visible names in the TO: section.)
  • If the rest of my life goes well, I’ll never have to do something like this again.

·  The Bad
  • My seatmate to the left of me was asleep – which was in the good column until I had to go to the bathroom.
  • I was supposed to fly home Monday, but since I was on the stand for 4 ½ hours, I missed my fight and had to stay over another night. I really wanted to be home.
  • I realized mid-testimony that I could see my reflection in the monitor in front of me, and a piece of my hair was sticking straight up. I had to work to NOT see it for the rest of the time I was on the stand.
  • The lady sitting next to me on the flight home, while very friendly, was sucking on candy and making lots of smacking noises.
  • Smirky Doofus was trying to make me say that what the defendants had done was okay. The reasons he was giving for it being okay were bullpoopy, and everyone knew that – or I hope everyone knew. I’m sure that at least everyone who wasn’t on the jury knew, but the jurors are supposed to only take what is testified into account, so I had to be very careful to make my case well. I don’t know if I succeeded.
The Ugly
  • In Atlanta, there was a guy at security putting his shoes back on. I wish he had put his belt on first. I could see at least half of his rear end, and you can’t unsee that. I’m still having nightmares.  
  •  On the way home, the plane sounded like the tuberculosis ward. I’m serious. If I end up with some sort of hideous bronchial disease you’ll know where it came from.
I was told that they’d let me know once the trial was over, and what the verdict was. I hope that’s true.  And I hope it’s guilty!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What's In A Name?

I’ve read a couple of novels recently where one of the dangers of life is to let someone know your “real name.” Apparently, once your “real name” is discovered, the person (or creature) who knows it has power over you and can use it against you. I’ve also read some things that encourage people to tell their story as a way to both know themselves, and to open themselves to others honestly and meaningfully.

There are things in my story that I don’t want anyone to know. Things that make me cringe when the memories break through cracks in my carefully constructed internal walls. Some are just embarrassing, some are heartbreaking, but every one of them is as much a part of my real name as the things that I’m happy and eager for people to know. Mother, loving, faithful, compassionate, helpful, funny, teacher, writer… those are my real name. Forgetful, lazy, procrastinator, selfish, neglectful, liar, hack… these are my real name too. 

My story is filled with moments of grace – snuggles with my children, laughter with my siblings and parents, falling in love with my husband, moments where God has touched my life in very clear ways, opportunities to minister to friends and strangers at church and out in the world. My story is also filled with moments that I’d be happier not remembering. Things that I’m so ashamed of they almost take my breath away. That time in 2nd grade when I joined my schoolmates in making fun of one of the special needs children at my school, losing my grandmother’s letters that I was transferring to typed pages, hurting people I love with careless words. And other things that I can’t say out loud for fear someone might hear and recognize me for the charlatan I am. 

Depending on my mood and circumstances of my life at any given time, I live fully into whichever set of names feels more real. And I believe fully in my story of grace, or my story of disgrace, whichever feels truer. 

It’s easy to assume that I am alone in my duplicity. But it is more likely that we all have names we don’t want people to know – stories that we are too ashamed to tell. If we’re lucky, we learn from those stories and strive to let go of the names we don’t want to define us. And for me, there are a few precious people out there who know my stories, good and bad, and I’m blessed with their love anyway.

Finally, there is a prayer that one of our priests says at the end of the service that gives me hope when the mostly untold parts of my story break through the cracks:

Life is short,
and there isn't much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us.
So let us be quick to love, and make haste to be kind,
resting assured that God is now, always has been,
and always will be infinitely more concerned with our future than with our past.
So may the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
 be upon you and remain with you always.