What about Bruce Jenner

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So I’m standing in the checkout line at a North Portland grocery.  And not one of the expensive, organic, hipster ones. It’s that post-work rush so the line is crowded.

“So I guess Bruce Jenner is a woman now.”

“Is he–I mean, she?I missed that.When did that happen?”

“I dunno,”he says, “but that’s what it says there,” and he gestures at the now infamous InStyle magazine cover.

“What’s the big deal?” asks someone else, “he looks fine to me.”

“Like I wouldn’t know if I saw him walking down the street that he ever wasn’t a woman,” adds another.

“Because he looks comfortable with it.”

“Yeah.”

“Dunno why it’s a big deal.”

“Well,maybe his wife thinks its a big deal,”points out the first gentleman, pointing out the subtitle on the magazine.

“I’d be fine with my husband doing that,”points out a middle-aged woman, “as long as he really acted like a woman, you know, and picked up his clothes and stuff off the bathroom floor.”

(Ok, that one–I’m not sure if she was kidding or not.)

“Hey,” the guy says to the cashier as we advance up in line, “Did you know Bruce Jenner is a woman now.”

“Cool,” says the young man checking out or groceries. That was all he had to say about the matter.

So there you go. I’m not sure if this is a reflection about how the whole country really feels about Bruce’s gender choices and there are just a few journalists and celebrities out there blowing it all up into another “controversy,” or if it’s just a Portland thing.

But really, that’s all we have to say about Bruce.

I’m not going to work today

wpid-1411782160538.jpg…and its not because of Thanksgiving.
I had marginally planned to take at least some of the day off, to do a little ahead of time cooking if my work load allowed. It doesn’t, but I’m staying home anyways.
I work in a part of the city that historically has had racial issues. And I’m talking about a city that was once know as the Mississippi of the West.
I love my neighborhood by the way. And it is mine. I lived there back in college with my sister and with my poor mad boy. His family home is there. The place where he hides in his little empty room. I always planned on going back. That’s why I looked so hard for a job in the area.
But I couldn’t get a house there. I was dumbfounded by the prices. I was only gone a couple of years. A couple of years! The gentrification that everyone seemed to be doom saying about back when I moved out was real, and it was here.
I work all day with black and Hispanic and Asian clients who used to live in the neighborhood like me. Their family homes were here for generations. Now they bus in from cheaper neighborhoods. Some of them hang on. A lot have moved into subsidized housing that has been built around the outside edges of the area as a concession to those who protested the gentrification. Right. Because a crappy little projects apartment where you have to get rid of your pets and can’t have a garden or a BBQ or a lot of other things is totally the same thing as the family home you lost because you couldn’t pay the hiked up taxes.
They go without food. The prices in local restaurants are hiked up too, but that’s not the real problem. The problem is you go up to the counter and you wait. And you wait. And you wait while the counter people keep waiting on all these white hipsters that keep coming in the door after you.
And this rears it head up constantly at my work. And I’m not just talking about the clients. I often catch people I work with speaking in terms of “us” and “them.”
The other week, I spent a lot of time dodging around corners when the Hispanic workers felt one of the black workers had unfairly denied funding to one if my Hispanic clients. “You’re on my side, right?” They kept literally saying that. Apparently there’s no Indian faction and we redskins are up for grabs.
I was unaware of the protesting in Portland initially when it started. And I got a weird phone call from a black client during that time. He put his girlfriend on the line too. She seemed confused, but offered her two cents too eventually. It made more sense later in context of the protests.
So I’m not going in to work today. I’m not afraid. I did a self-check: is this just my PTSD predicting a possible crisis and avoiding it? No, I don’t think so. Let’s face it, I’ve kind of sucked at avoiding conflict lately.
No. I just have this sinking feeling I’m not going to get much work done. Clients or coworkers are going to be too caught up in trying to find out from me, “Whose side are you on?”
And I think I’d rather just go cook some cranberries.