Sunday, July 21, 2013


Last weekend a tropical depression was supposed to come through. We didn't get much rain, and the news caused the depression part (sorry, I'm not good at puns but sometimes I have to make them). This weekend however, it's been pouring. I love the rain. LOVE IT! I love the way it sounds, smells, feels, tastes. I forgot one there, but you get it. When I was kid and it would rain hard, we would go to the front porch and hold cups under the eaves to see whose cup would fill the fastest. There's a metaphor there if I could find it.

I was looking at a series of maps illustrating different dialects and word usage across the United States, and something that struck me was how much of the country lacks a word or words for rain when the sun is shining. In Florida we call it a sun shower; apparently this isn't a commonly used term throughout the rest of the United States. I can't remember where, but there are only a few other states that use it. The rest of the south calls it "the devil beating his wife," which I'm going to go right by (that's a different blog post), and a whole swatch of the country, when polled, didn't have a word for this happening. Which is weird to me. Sun showers are beautiful and beastly. In the summer, sure you get rainbows, but it's rain without the relief.

The cumulonimbus clouds build and build like the humidity, and then the rain comes. And the relief comes. The big thunderstorms bring a drop in temperature and a respite from the sun. The clouds inspire awe with their size alone. Not to mention the storms they bring. When I was in high school, Florida went through a drought. Needing more rain happens frequently, but this was a drought that lasted all summer. The clouds would build, but then the upper atmosphere would shear them or send them elsewhere. Afternoon followed afternoon with no relief. It seemed like we had a whole summer with absolutely no rain. That's not accurate, but it was bad. The next summer followed similarly. Until one afternoon. The home I grew up in has a long driveway that runs between the house and the garage. In front of the house is open pasture. I remember standing between the house and the garage watching the dark cumulonimbus clouds meet. Thunderhead butting against thunderhead until there was a wall of black clouds coming en masse down the driveway. I could see the rain sheeting down. A wall of cool air hit me 45 seconds before the rain did. Afternoon thunderstorms are for Florida what aloe is for a sunburn.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hoodies Aren't Scary

As my last post pointed out, I gave up. In today's post, I've decided I gave up too quickly; I should have waited to throw in the towel. I should have waited for all of the Zimmerman apologists who are just really afraid of people in hoodies. You know people! Today I read this Salon article, which is in response to this Richard Cohen article. I really recommend not reading the Cohen article if you want to keep your brain intact. Cohen mocks all the people yelling "Guilty!" about Zimmerman without waiting for the verdict, but the only statistic he uses is the percentage of black male shooting suspects in New York. It's not surprising that Richard Cohen is a dick. In his article, a dick who says wearing a hoodie is a cultural signifier or "uniform" of violence. The amount of people who have used this type of logic to justify the killing of a young man does surprise me. And this is why: hoodies aren't scary.

Let me tell you a story. I attended night school during college, and when I left class, it was usually dark. Part of my walk was past a church on a quiet street. It was a little creepy because by the time I was walking, no one was around. One night I got scared. A man was walking towards me. He had a beard. His hands were in the pockets of his hoodie, and his hood was up. He was a big guy. I immediately started running through all the terrible things that could happen to me. Rape, murder, harassment. When the man passed me, he turned and struck up a conversation....because it was my brother-in-law!  He was walking to school. I was walking from school. He had his hood up because it was raining and cold. He wore a beard because, wait for it, he likes beards. He was big because of genetics. None of these things were good reasons to be afraid of him, but culture has taught me to be afraid of these things--to the point that I sometimes ignore better indications of violence because the person acting in the aggressive manner doesn't have any of the physical attributes I have been taught to fear.

My brother-in-law is white. Adding black to the above list is also not a good reason to be afraid of someone. Hoodies are not some kind of uniform which indicate violence. They are a ubiquitous piece of clothing. Everyone in the United States knows someone who has worn a hoodie or wears one themselves. When people use Trayvon Martin's clothing as a justification for his murder, what they are really saying is black people scare me. And if black people scare you, you are a racist. Because hoodies are not scary and neither are black people. And neither are black people in hoodies.

You are allowed to be afraid of a person when that individual starts acting aggressive. For instance, if someone starts following you for no apparent reason. We need to start being afraid of the people who are actively making our streets less safe. In the Zimmerman/Martin case, it seems clear to me which person that was, and it wasn't the kid in the hoodie. We must stop using dress, which is often just code for race, and race as indicators of violence. Because it doesn't keep anyone safe. In fact, it makes the world much more dangerous for kids like Trayvon Martin.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

I Give Up

I'm from Central Florida. I love my home. I hate it when people bitch about the place I came from and the place I love. Especially people who don't know shit about Florida. But every once in a while, my love of Florida and my belief in humanity get kicked in the crotch. Today is such a day.

I'm not going to re-cap what George Zimmerman did. Anyone who doesn't know about this case probably has his/her head neatly packed in sand. But I will say this: laws which allow a person to follow another person, shoot them, and then claim self-defense are fucking bullshit. Justice isn't blind, she's on fucking vacation. Or dead. Or both. Or something equally disturbing.

Trayvon Martin was a kid. Buying candy. Walking home. And he's dead now. I don't know George Zimmerman. I don't know if he is a "good" guy, or a racist, or an evil murderer laughing all the way home from his acquittal like some comic book villain. But I know this: I don't want to live in a society where being black is perceived as dangerous and bad. I don't want to live in a society where someone with a gun can get out of his/her car (after being told by police dispatch to stay in said car) shoot someone, and face no legal consequences for those actions. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Why I Won't Be Seeing Ender's Game

Most of you have probably heard about the controversy surrounding Orson Scott Card. If you haven't, let me sum up: Card is a huge, hateful dick who hates gay people and ignores the LBT part of the GLBT community. To see some of his more hateful quotes, you can read this Salon article. Or you can try. Enter his most famous work of art: the science fiction novel Ender's Game. Considered one of the best examples of sci-fi, the novel has won multiple awards and has made Card a well-known, profitable, and beloved author. The movie, long awaited by loyal fans, is opening in November, and its imminent release has renewed the controversy surrounding the man.

I read Ender's Game in seventh or eighth grade, which would have been sometime around 2000. I didn't know about Card's intolerance. I was living in a small town, attending a small Christian school. Sheltered is an understatement. I loved fantasy and got a lot of shit about that from my peers and teachers alike. My brother-in-law suggested I read Ender's Game. I loved it. Ender, the main character, read as compassionate, brave, and a little lost. I could relate to the emotions, if not the crazy setting. In the next three years, I read many more of Card's novels. As I became more socially aware, I was slightly bothered by his representation of women in his novels, but I brushed that aside because I liked the stories. In 2004, I read this article by Card, which is a diatribe against marriage equality. I was actually reading one of Card's novels at this point. I kept reading it. And that's when all of my misgivings about his female characters and all of the conservative undertones became too hard to ignore. In most of Card's novels the homophobia, sexism, and weird religion shows itself in subtext, but in his non-fiction it is front and center. Once I had read the non-fiction, I couldn't ignore the hateful subtext in the fiction.

Because of his personal views, Card ruined his art for me. His subtext became text. His worldview is hateful, and now I can't help but see the hate seeping through his stories, and for this reason, I won't be seeing the movie of Ender's Game. I'll be boycotting it. Not because I don't want to see it, or because I think it will be a bad movie. I actually think it will be a good movie. But my love of movies and good stories cannot and does not trump my love of human rights. In response to calls for this boycott, Card said, "With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot," which ignores the other issues facing the LGBT community. This is not a man who is sorry for his actions and words. This is not a man who has learned from the negative responses to his vitriolic writing. This is a man who wants you to go see his movie in spite of his hateful views. This is a man who only uses tolerance when he feels the consequential sting of his writings. And I am not falling for it. Mr. Card, take your novels, your movie, and your antiquated worldview and choke on them.

Monday, July 8, 2013

New Endeavor

Since I can't find a job, and I'm trying not to go stir crazy, I've decided to try something new. I started a new blog--don't worry, this one will still exists--where I will write reviews and talk books. If you want to check it out, you can at My first review is up. It's about The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Adventuring in Titusville and Orlando Wetlands Park

This weekend we went for a little adventure. We drove over to the Titusville Municipal Marina to double check the rates and whatnot about a mooring ball. My family is the best. They are always up for an adventure. And they do it right.

They are checking out a row boat and hoping to see dolphin. The row boat was beautiful. No luck on the dolphin front. The kid loves her binoculars.

On our way home, we stopped at the Orlando Wetlands Park. A thunderstorm had just passed when we arrived, and after our walk, another one hit. But it was gorgeous while we were there.

The kid loves playing the game where you yank on a tree branch to splash another person. She found a perfect tree from a look out spot. We saw an alligator from here.

The sound of the water falling through the trees was like music. The birds were chirping loudly, and an alligator was making the sound an alligator makes--something between a bellow and a growl. It was a glorious day.