Only Nice People Have Rights?

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I watched with everyone else this week as Baltimore erupted into riots to protest the death of Freddie Gray. Black vs white, thug vs cop – and hard to tell the difference sometimes between those last two, the lines were so blurred.

And I watched the heroic acts of kindness, because even frustration over racial inequity isn’t black and white, and the lines were blurred there too.

And, then, inevitably, the dirt on Freddie Gray, blurring his status as a martyr.

Apparently, he had a record for distributing narcotics. Several times.

See, some people say, he wasn’t such a saint after all!

Which is hardly the point. As far as I know, we don’t have the death penalty in this country for distributing drugs, for running, for mouthing off. And even if we did, it wouldn’t be death without benefit of a jury and at the hands of the police.

And that is the point. I didn’t know Freddie Gray. Didn’t know if he helped old ladies across the street and only sold drugs to feed his crippled child. Didn’t know if he was the scum of the earth who kicked puppies and fed them the drugs he sold. Didn’t know him, and didn’t matter.

It is human to be frustrated when someone shows no respect, or makes the same bad choices over and over. I get why police are frustrated. But I attended a Citizens Police Academy in Fairfax, VA, and I saw firsthand that good cops are trained to deal with that frustration, given extensive training on all the steps to take before something escalates into the lethal.

Because the police are supposed to be the ones with the training to deal fairly and firmly with the saints and the sinners. And, whoever Freddie Gray was, he deserved due process. It wasn’t just Freddie Gray’s back that broke, it was justice’s.

So, please don’t tell me about Freddie Gray’s sordid past. Because even not-nice people have rights.

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5 WAYS TO KNOW IT’S TIME TO FIRE A FRIEND

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Sometimes, you just have to let a person go. It happens all the time in the corporate world and the metrics are fairly clear: the person didn’t make the sales goals, never showed up on time, stole money.

But it’s much harder to know when to let a friend or lover go. We want to hold on and make it work, against all odds.

When is it time to move on?

  1. You spend a lot of time making excuses for their behavior

Maybe they’re just always like that when they’re drunk. Maybe they’re mean to waiters. If you spend a lot of time explaining that he or she has a good side, too, it’s time to move on.

  1. You can’t get them to see you for who you are now, instead of the tubby/goofy screwup you used to be.

You’ve spent a long time improving yourself, and your new friends know you as a fairly competent person. That’s why it’s so hard when an old friend downplays your every achievement by reminding you that you’re still that same fat, clumsy screwup you always were. There’s having friends who ground you, and having friends who bury you. Move on from the latter.

  1. You know every detail of their dramas but they know nothing of yours.

Every friend goes through hard times and needs support. But when the whole friendship is an endless loop of her troubles and she never asks about your life, there’s an imbalance. When you’re tempted to put the phone down while they ramble on and on about their sad little lives without stopping for breath, it’s time to move on.

  1. You need a drink or a nap to recover from time spent with them.

Some friends are exhausting, and not in a good way. They’re like emotional vampires and you need recuperation after every visit. Let them go.

  1. You hate yourself, just a little, for the person you are with them.

Some friends or lovers are just a whole lot of fun. But maybe they’re catty bitches, inviting you to snark along. Or maybe they’re always filling your glass a little too much. Whatever the reason, you leave them and feel like you’ve failed yourself somehow. Time to move on.

It’s understandable that we feel loyal, or we want to fix someone. But sometimes, you just have to tell a loved one that it’s just not working. And, unless there’s a divorce in the mix, there will be no severance package because, don’t worry, this is no wrongful termination.

Firing a Friend

Busting 6 Relationship Myths

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(note: This blog was previously published on CharlestonGrit.com)

The Internet is glad to give you the recipe for the perfect relationship: a drip of that, a dollop of this, and true love forever.

But, like the best recipes, the ingredients will vary by what’s at hand, and vary by personal taste.

I can’t tell you what makes the perfect relationship, but I can tell you what relationship truisms you can freely ignore:

Myth #1:

Don’t go to bed angry.

Sometimes the mad is so big it goes past bedtime. And sometimes you’re so exhausted that you want to shriek like a teakettle. Go to bed. Exhaustion isn’t going to make you less angry, it’s just going to make you more irrational. It’s more important not to go to bed apathetic. Because anger is a kind of passion, but apathy? It’s just the death of passion. And you may find that, during the night, your body has wound its way around your mate and your body forgives before your mind catches up.

Myth #2

Learn to share your lover’s hobbies.

I love to dance. My husband thinks the three minutes a song lasts is two and a half too long to be on the dance floor. My husband loves tennis. I tried tennis, but our opponents would always send the ball flying at me, the weak link, and my husband would wind up watching me blow the game. The only time I won a game for us was when I smashed the ball into an opponent’s eye, and that was a complete accident. I no longer play tennis.

Myth #3

Never go on separate vacations. Vacations together can be blissful. Long, sexy mornings with nowhere to go, dinners by candlelight with the time to laugh. And shared memories after you get back home. But don’t discount vacations without your love, experiences where you get back in touch with who you are at your core, and memories you get to recount fresh to your beloved, who has give you a chance to miss him.

Myth #4

You Should Share Your Feelings

You don’t want to be the Sphinx, but sharing your every emotion can be exhausting. Does your lover really need to ride the highs and lows of your PMS? Here’s the deal. You are responsible for your own emotions. It’s okay to give your lover fair warning that he should steer clear of you on a blue day, but your lover is not your therapist and you should never get the two confused.

Myth #5

If You’re Having Sex More or Less Than the National Average, Something’s Wrong

Okay, let’s get honest here. The surveys lie. Nobody admits their real number of sexual contacts per week. And, even if they are being honest, what does that have to do with you? You need to communicate with your lover and compromise. The truth is, you are going to have sex more than one of you is interested in and less than one of you wants. Get over it.

 Myth #6

If He (or She) Loves You, They Will Memorize What Turns You On

Bullshit. If you were a robot, maybe the same routine would turn you on every time, but you’re a person. Maybe one day, you want something rough and fast and another, you’re feeling fragile and want to be treated like a delicate flower. If your lover has telepathic powers, more power to you. But most men and women need a little gentle coaching about what it is you need, and you certainly deserve to have what you need, so talk about it!

 Bonus Myth:

A Good Relationship Fixes Everything

heart on windowSure, someday your prince or princess will come. But you’re gonna be the same old schlub you’ve always been. And the funny thing is we tend to pick people who push our buttons. They’re dead ringers for our critical fathers, or shrewish mothers, and they will never, never be perfect. So, until you’ve got a pretty solid relationship with yourself, no relationship is going to be a panacea.