Taking a stand…for what exactly?

By now, you might have heard of the wedding cake drama across the river from me in the town of Gresham, Oregon. Same-sex couple goes to a bakery there in preparation for their wedding and when the owner finds out the cake is for two brides, he refuses service, citing his religion (Christianity).

A lot of people are outraged and there are high emotions on both sides, those that support the gay couple and those that (inexplicably) support the cake shop owners.

I will come back to this.

Today, I read another story about a man who refuses to file taxes and went so far as to quit his job, when he received his W-2 form with the number “666” on them. He says accepting that number means “selling your soul to the devil.”

I’ve noticed that some Christians have this tendency to take a stand for, frankly, extremely petty things. Situations they blow up in their minds to be of cosmic consequence, that also causes them to make irrational, illogical conclusions.

In the instance of the Gresham bakery, providing wedding cake services for a same-sex couple means you support gay marriage, when it means nothing of the kind. It’s simply a business transaction, that in no way changes your mind about anything. No one is forcing you to agree with anything. Yet, they have convinced themselves they are “taking a stand”.

With the man and his W-2 form, it’s a case of silly superstition that led him to quit his job, jeopardizing his livelihood. Again, he thinks he is taking a stand against…what exactly? Demonic forces that will attack him through paperwork, I guess?

While ridiculous, and probably only causing some minor inefficiency (I hope), the W-2 man is not hurting anyone or denying them rights.

However, the bakery could find themselves in legal trouble for denying service to the same-sex couple: they may have violated Oregon anti-discrimination laws and the state is looking into it.

This is what gets me: supporters say they are simply expressing their religious freedom. But when the act of expressing your religious freedom violates someone else’s civil rights, that is, first, immoral, and second, illegal.

Again, no one is telling the owner of the bakery what to think regarding homosexuality or same-sex marriage. Again, baking them a cake for their wedding does not mean you now agree with their life choices. And there is also the matter of this: no has asked you to have an opinion about a strangers life choices that do not personally impact you.

When you have a public business, you have to follow the laws of the land, provided they do not harm anyone. And it’s also disingenuous to act like a martyr and cover your bigotry with a pseudo-righteous cloak.

Oregon Coast: Lincoln City

 

Last weekend, our family hit up the Oregon Coast. Destination: Lincoln City! It was our first time there and we loved it. Here are some highlights:

Eleanor’s Undertow, 869 SW 51st St.

While the food is just okay, it’s a great place to take kids. There is an area in the back with video games and pinball machines. There are mermaids everywhere (fake ones, naturally) with a huge one out front in a small fountain. The owner/workers are very nice, too. We went there once for dinner and again for ice cream.

 

Tiki’s at 51st, 1005 SW 51st St.

This was our favorite. Excellent food and customer service. They have a parrot that is sometimes taken around to talk to people. DH and I had the best hot chocolate there (yes, hot chocolate at the beach. It’s Oregon). It’s called a Wicked Hot Chocolate: white/dark chocolate, whipped cream and cayenne pepper. Delish.

One hilarious moment: after we got our hot chocolate, a group of people came up, presumably to dine there. One of guys goes, “We’re new in town. How does this work?”

The guy behind the counter hesitated and with a confused, yet completely straight expression, answers, “You order food, then you eat it.”

The guy looked at him and did not laugh. DH and I cracked up though.

Now, there is nothing at all complicated about this place. It’s a restaurant. Not sure if the Tiki theme threw this guy off and he thought there was a dance you had to do before asking for food? My guess is that he was just being an asshole.

 

The Beach

Lovely, easily accessible beaches with tide pools for exploring or just areas to sit on the beach and play. We bought this cheap tent that was a huge fail. We ended up not really needing it because it was extremely windy (kite flying weather!) and not that hot.

 

Sunset

 

Tide pools

 

Coffee!!!

They had quite a few places to choose from to get our buzz on. We went to Beachtown Coffee, which was right next to our hotel, The Inn at Wecoma (good place, by the way). The owner is a transplant from Arizona and was very friendly. The drinks were the bomb. The caramel frappe I got before we headed home was yummy.

Fish and Chips

You have to try fish and chips when you visit a coastal town. We went to The Blackfish Cafe. Our #2 was getting tired for his morning nap and #1 was being super moody, but we made it through lunch. Their fish and chips were pretty good!

There was so much more we didn’t do. Hope to make it there again soon!

Fiction contest update

My story didn’t make it to the final round in the fiction contest. And perfect timing, Wordstock, the day before my birthday!

*sad face*

No, I jest. I love Wordstock and will definitely attend their festival in October. Maybe even attend a class or panel discussion.

I have a lot of inspiration fuel left from writing my short story, so I’m still working on a novel length version. And perhaps I’ll enter the short piece into another contest.

So yes, tomorrow is my birthday. We’re going to the Oregon Coast and I expect to chill and have fun (well, as much as one can chill trying to keep up with a 4 and 1 year old).

And I promise with a capital “P” to take lots of pics and blog about our trip!

ITYC podcast interview

Michelle McCrary, from Is That Your Child Radio, interviewed me a few weeks ago and it was posted on July 6. I loved it! I had so much fun talking with Michelle about raising mixed kids, interracial relationships, natural hair and being a brown nerd. You can listen to the interview here.

Time was limited, so we didn’t get to talk about nerd stuff as much as I wanted to. As an African-American woman, I don’t fit the usual mold in a lot of areas; for instance I am not religious (I am, in fact, an atheist and secular humanist). And I have always loved science-fiction in any form (books/television/movies) and comics. I can’t think of one girlfriend during my childhood/teen years that shared my interest in any of these things.

Speaking of sci-fi, now that my religious/philosophical leanings have evolved, I’ve come to appreciate even more the creative genius of Gene Roddenberry and the future he imagined in Star Trek. I’m thinking that will be the subject of a future post!

Wordstock Ten Short Fiction Competition

A story, a particular story and the people in it, have been haunting me for over ten years! I want to write a short version of it, a snapshot into the lives of my dear characters, and enter it into this competition.

There will be ten finalists. The top submission gets the first prize of $1000 and the story published in the Portland Monthly. All ten finalists get their stories published in Wordstock’s book anthology, The Wordstock Ten.

There is so much talent out there, I doubt I will make it to being one of the finalists, much less the winner. But it gives me a goal to reach with my fiction writing and, if nothing else, I’ll have a finished piece I can expand on.

The deadline is July 1st. Oh, and forget about the final outcome. Lets hope I can actually submit this bad boy in six weeks and three days. Wish me luck!

PDX vs. Philly

Our family finally made the trip to Philadelphia to visit my side of the family. Despite #1 not taking naps half the time and having many moments of crankiness, we had fun.

I spent a lot of time while working as a reporter for a community newspaper trudging up and down Germantown Avenue, a major artery in Northwest Philadelphia. It was nice to see the sights again.

But I couldn’t help comparing the Portland area to the Philadelphia area.

First, the tension and energy are much higher in Philly. You really have to be mentally on guard, like for instance while driving. People drive like maniacs. And I am in no way saying you can leave your doors unlocked and daydream while driving here in Portland. It’s just simply way more laid back here.

Second, what is with everything closing early? Like on Saturdays? We wanted some coffee early in the evening and cafes in Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill were closing at 5 and 6. Really? The small-fry town I live in, Beaverton, population 90,000, has a 24-hour coffee shop that is actually nice. In fact, you can’t turn around without bumping into a coffee shop anywhere here. We had to go to Dunkin Donuts instead, which lacks the coffee shop ambiance and they think a mocha is a flavoring, but it did the job.

Third, the conceit in Chestnut Hill is a bit vomit inducing. It’s always been that way, but it’s hilarious. They have a lot of cute shops and crap, but honestly things like spice shops, cafes and Farmer’s Markets are a dime a dozen here, from the most cookie-cutter suburb to the trendiest area in the city. You’re not special, Chestnut Hill. Get. Over. Yourselves.

While I definitely would not want to live in Philadelphia anymore and talk crap about her sometimes, I still have a soft spot for my birth town. Case in point, while we were driving through Germantown and Chelten Avenues, this dude was yelling across the street to someone in a car, presumably a friend, greeting him like it was his long lost birth parent he had never met. Very loud, very dramatic, and it made me laugh. Good old Philly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are those your children???

I’ve always said how I’ve never been asked this question and didn’t think I ever would.

But it finally happened.

While visiting family in Philadelphia, a woman asked me if my children were mine. This seems to be a right of passage for parents with mixed-race children.

We were leaving the hotel to go out to the car and one of the workers asked me, “Are those your children?”

I kind of hesitated and then said, “Yes.”

She said, “Oh.” And went on to say that they were light like their dad, so I guess that started her wondering about their genetics, I guess.

It was mildly annoying, but I didn’t get too worked up about it. It is interesting though how our minds are so focused on race. When we see a family of people who are of different hues, we start wondering if they are biologically related. We’re confused that someone very dark with nappy hair can birth light babies with straight hair or someone who is white with straight hair can birth brown babies with nappy hair.

I guess I get having the curiosity. But I don’t get this extreme need to verify, to the point of asking a stranger if the kids they are with came out of their birth canal.

Anyway, Philly is a lot different from Portland (working on a post about that). And all I have to say is I’m glad I live in Portland!

Natural hair care in Oregon

There is a petition floating around seeking support for a change in state regulations for natural hair stylists Oregon. Currently, if you want to do hair in most states, including Oregon, you have to go to cosmetology school. However, almost all of the course work is geared toward chemically or heat straightening the hair and you learn very little (if at all) about how to do African-American hair in its natural state.

For years, I’ve thought going to beauty schools (as they are currently set up) was a waste of time and money for individuals who just want to braid, loc, two-strand twist, deep condition or style hair sans chemicals and heat. It makes sense to have a separate certification procedure, like they do for barbers. I hope the petitioner gets the signatures she needs (yours truly signed of course). Not only would this open up more small business opportunities, but it will perhaps create a need for natural hair care schools that can provide the license or certification needed.