Rigid Vs. Strong

I was thinking about this on my walk yesterday with Mrs. Wigglebottom, mulling it over after a rather grueling day at work on Friday, and I wonder if there’s some distinction between rigid and strong that I don’t make very well.

Here’s how I work, in general, “No, I’m not going to do that.  No, because I won’t like it. No.  God damn it.  Fine.  Oh, hey, you have to try this awesome thing I do all the time.”  Or, “I will make the right decision.  I will weigh all the factors and mull over everything and come to the correct conclusion, even if it takes me all year.  Even if it holds everything else up.  Even if there might be some easier way or outside help to be had.”

See, I’m rigid.

I think I’ve gotten better about it, but I think I’ve gotten better about it in part because I’ve become more confident and stronger.  I haven’t had to rely on rigidness to the same extent, because I’ve been strong instead.

But what I need to do is to learn to become supple.  And that’s hard for me, I think, because I’m not clear on the ways I’m being rigid instead of strong and decisive.

I don’t know.  Probably this doesn’t make any sense.  I’m trying to articulate something I only have a loose grasp of. 

Anyway, I also wanted to say that, it took me a few days, but I’ve decided that the last picture of my second boob freckle is actually kind of hot.  Hmm.  

 That tickles me.

The Rest of the Speech

It’s Martin Luther King Day.

We could have a game. I’ll list all of the typical responses to King and his day and we’ll all run around the internet looking for instances of them, first one to find them all wins a photo of my here-to-fore underphotographed left boob.

I’m thinking of things like

–Why do black people get their own day? White people don’t get one.

–King was a plagiarist and a communist.

–King said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” therefore we owe it to him to quickly do away with affirmative action.

Yeah, really, I’m thinking of how much we white folks love that line. Let’s see it again, shall we?

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

A whole speech full of stuff we ignore just so we can skip ahead to the part we think requires black people to stop asking us to acknowledge that their skin color matters. Yep, we’re suckers for calls for racial justice that put us on the side of the angels (see Freedom Writers).

But King isn’t calling for a society that is willfully colorblind. Blackness matters. Whiteness matters. He looks forward to a time when “little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers,” a time when, “all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands.” He’s not calling for some utopia* where everyone only sees each other as brothers and sisters.

He’s aiming for a reachable point where we at least see each other also as brothers and sisters.

He’s not saying that this state is reached by judging his children only by the contents of their character; he’s saying that we will realize we’ve reached this state when his children are judged only by the contents of their character. We tend to confuse the results with the process.

And, frankly, for good reason. Because the process he outlines is difficult.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

We, white and black, have to realize that our destinies are tied together and that our freedoms are bound to each other. And then, we must work for real change, change that by King’s standard, we’re not very far along on. Black men are still regularly victims of unspeakable horrors of police brutality. There are still plenty of places where black folks know they aren’t welcome. There are still disenfranchised voters in Mississippi (and the rest of the country) and there are still plenty of folks who believe they have nothing to vote for. And, while these things remain serious problems for black people, they’ve become systemic for all of us (because, to reiterate, our destinies are tied together).

Anyway, my point is that we’ve done a great disservice to King’s legacy by turning him into some easy-to-live-with dynamic public speaker instead of remembering him as the prophet** he was.

*There’s a way in which wanting to read King as some kind of utopian can be seen as the same urge that faults him for having human fallacies, that urge to create unspoken standards and then fault him for not living up to them.

**In the “here’s what’s fucked up about society and here’s what God’s people need to do about changing it and here’s how we’ll recognize when the change has happened” sense, not in the “I see a bright future where we can all just forget about this unpleasantness” way. Prophet, not fortune teller.


Sorry we didn’t finish up with the game. I got distracted by my larger point.

Update on Monday, January 15, 2007 at 11:49AM

Hutch reminds me that Mark has been over this same ground, too.

Since It’s Natural, I Have to Beat It into You

Heather sent me a link to this post, which is an excellent example of how gender roles are taught to kids and then reinscribed as “natural.”

This is exactly why I have so little use for pseudo-scientific just-so stories about how we are how we are because that’s how we evolved, as if we aren’t indoctrinated every step of the way to be just this way.  You would think that scientists would be smart enough to see the inherent problem with looking at things as they are now, assuming our ancestors were the same way, and then using the behavior that we’ve projected back onto our ancestors to explain why we have that behavior now. It’s just the scientific equivalent of sitting in a three-way mirror and mistaking the endless stream of you doing all the things you do for you and your ancestors sharing behaviors.

That being said, it seems like the teacher whose qualifications are that he’s somehow involved in school athletics is a pretty ubiquitous figure.  We had an athletic director who taught us psychology and sociology.  He also told us that all of the football players dried their asses and genitals first and then their faces.  In retrospect, if everything’s clean, I’m not sure why that was supposed to be so gross.


The Park at Twilight

Mrs. Wigglebottom and I got to the park about 4:30 and walked as the sun slid behind the world. I think it did us both good to get out there. I think this was our first time this year and we’d never been in the evening before.

I’m fed up with the park. No, not the park. I’m fed up with people who don’t leash their dogs and who shoot us dirty looks like I’m the asshole. I can’t find a good time when there are no assholes with leashless dogs. That’s put a damper on my park-going enthusiasm.

But I was glad to get back there today. And, if you go when it’s getting dark and rainy, the assholes are just finishing up walking their leashless dogs, and so, if you hang back, you can wait for them to put their dogs in cars and head off into the growing darkness, and you can be on your way.

Once we got over the hill, it seemed like we were the only people for miles. For a long time, all we heard was the crunch of our own feet. After a while, I started singing.

Lay me down a pallet on your floor.

Lay me down a pallet on your floor.

Lay me down a pallet on your floor.

Cause I’m drunk and I’ve got no place to go.

And then I couldn’t remember if that’s how the song went, but it didn’t matter because there wasn’t anyone but me and the dog and the deer in the clearing to hear it.

Plimco is an actor, as you may know, and one of the theater companies she works with is having a contest. She told them I would enter. And so I sat down and wrote them up a little play about a country music star who decides to come out. I’m going to have her read through it again, and then I’m sending it off to them.

It’d be fun if it won. I wonder if that would pull my head out of my ass. Probably not. But maybe.

I wrote a fake Jimmie Rodgers song for it. That’s what I did this weekend. I thought getting clearances and permissions would be a pain if I won, so I faked it.

It goes like this:

Honey, I’m so lonesome, I don’t know what to do.

Honey, I’m so lonesome, I don’t know what to do.

You treat me so sweet, I can tell you’re lonesome, too.


Baby, it’s dark out, can I walk you home?

Baby, it’s dark out, can I walk you home?

I hear your man’s gone and left you all alone.


A good wife’s a blessing. A bad one’s a curse.

A good wife’s a blessing. A bad one’s a curse.

But when it comes to heartbreak, I can’t say who’s worse.


A bad girl will leave you twice for your best friend.

A bad girl will leave you twice for your best friend.

But when a good girl quits you, you’ll never see her again.


Well, what can I say?  They’ll never make me a famous blues lyricist, so Willie Dixon can rest easy.  Not that he was particularly worried, I imagine.  But anyway.

I don’t know.  This was going someplace.  I wanted to tell you how, just when we saw the deer, it smelled like Jack Daniel’s and how that made me smile, because I’d forgotten that it always smells like that right there when it’s rainy.