Friday, July 29, 2016

Growing up girl

Terry Orr, me, Jackie McLees and Marilyn McLees (year and age debatable

 When I was in kindergarten at Jefferson School in 1956 I was in an outdoor pageant. I think every kid in the school was.

But the kindergartners were part of the story of settling the West. Jackie (above) was a settlers "wife" and was riding in a covered wagon. Terry was a cowboy (I think---give me a break it was a few moons ago that this all happened!)

I was suppose to be an Indian "squaw" and stay in the background around the teepee.

Well, I objected. And apparently I objected loudly. I wanted to be in the war party. I was told that girls weren't part of war parties. I saw no sense in that.

So my grandmother sewed me a fringed "Indian" dress and my mom got me a toy bow and arrow and somehow, I was allowed to run from the back towards the "settlers" screaming at the top of my 5 year old lungs, waiving my bow and arrow. I was part of the "war party"!

I was 5.

When I was 8 I was told that I couldn't go fishing with my dad and brothers because it was too dangerous for a girl.

When I was 13 I was told that I couldn't run in track because it might damage my private parts.

When I was 16 I was told that I needed to be "more appealing" (translation: sexier looking) And just a note of reality--I am built exactly like my father---skinny legs, rounded belly, no waist and no butt! I was a tomboy and built like one.

When I was 22, living in Florida, I was told that I could not buy a car without the signature of my father or my husband. My spouse was in a B-52 somewhere over or nearly over VietNam and my father was in California.

In the late 70's, as a single mom, I was told that I could only work as a secretary at minimum wage.

I objected. I had a beautiful, smart daughter and I would provide for her. So I decided to go to law school.

I was told that I would not be allowed to work in a courtroom.
I was told I wasn't smart enough. 

My first interview out of law school started with this question (from a guy in a blue suit):
 "So, why does a pretty young thing like you want to be working in law?"

 I left.

When I began my career in a courtroom I allowed judges and other attorneys to bully me into taking a back seat. It took me a few years but that no longer happens. I strive to keep my power, my words.

Those are just the highlights that immediately came to mind when Hillary Clinton took the stage to accept the Democratic Nomination for President of the United States. 

And I thought of all the slings and arrows that she has taken. I thought of all the slings and arrows most women have taken in this world.

And I cried.

I didn't think I would. I didn't think it would bring up old stuff. But it did.

All the times I was told that I was less than a boy. All the times I was told I wasn't as smart as a boy (when I knew I was) All the times I had to find different ways to get to my goals because I didn't have the boy connections. They all came forward in those few minutes.

I can and have let go of most of the feelings of anger and frustration. But I will always remember all those times. I will hold them close and cherish them. They made me who I am.

And the beautiful, smart daughter?

She went from picking cherries to picking juries.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

La Penquina

La Penguina

The story actually begins several years ago. To be perfectly clear, it began when a fellow Public Defender in Bakersfield bought me an Opus t-shirt. I loved Opus (and Bloom County) But my love for the absurd turned absurdly into a fascination with penguins (as opposed to Puffins).

I began collecting penguins. Statutes and the like. Not real live penguins (or even dead ones) just representations of penguins. Artistic, whimsical, weird, whatever.

Hand sculpted by an artist in Monterey

Part of the collection
 Anyway, I was a bit nuts about collection. I even have socks (several pair) with penguins on them.

That led to the gestation and birth of La Penguina.
She was born the year that Vocal Arts was going to tour Argentina and Uruguay. I had signed up for the trip and paid a goodly portion of the costs.

But work raised its ugly head. I got some big cases that were not going to let me take two weeks off to fly to South America and sing. I was pissed. Then I resigned my self to living the trip through photographs and other people's stories.

And penguins have what to do with this? You asked so I will tell you.

I have a kid who is rather inventive when it comes to such situations. She bought several plastic penguins and gave them to various members of the touring group. (Yes, she was going) The instructions were that La Penguina (the collective name for all of the penguins) was to accompany the member wherever they went and provide pictures to prove that she was there. La Penguina was me in abstentia.

It was a really cool idea and I loved that people would do such a thing. But then there was a hiccough.

Just a little glitch.

Argentina was in a bit of a political crisis. It seems that the President of Argentina and  the ranchers and farmers in the country were have a bit of a disagreement. Strikes were being called for and things were a bit tense. The ranchers and company had given the President a rude name. In Argentina the name was------ wait for it!

La Penguina!

The tour group was told that it was not a good idea to be seen taking photographs with a penguin in the group. It might cause trouble. It would be considered a political statement.

Me? Cause trouble? Even when I am absent!

So La Penquina was put into purses and bags and carried everywhere anyway. Just fewer pictures.

And why this long missive about La Penguina.

I usually have a reason to include these stories in my writing. And I do!

This week (in fact, yesterday) The Kid and her Spouse headed off for a bit of a vacation and the Kid knew I would love where they are going. So she packed La Penguina....

Safely packed for the flight
And every picture she has sent me from the British Virgin Islands has La Penguina.

Ah, the British Virgin Islands

I am really enjoying this one!!!