The Big Short

While doing homework today, I had the film The Big Short, playing in the background.  It reminded me a lot of my father. I’d like to reflect back to my childhood in this post.
I think I was about 12 years-old, but am not completely sure.  Our suburb in central Ohio had a weekly newspaper, usually not very interesting, there was a “police beat section” that dripped with the mundane of the suburbs, the self-congratulatory student honor rolls, marriage announcements, house purchases etc.
In this particular memory of my father, the newspaper had published data on the average education and income of an adult in the suburb, and household income. My father sat reading the article and let out a laugh, like a laugh I’d never heard, in my mind like one of an evil villain cartoon character. Smugly, he explained that he was earning more than the average household income and that they had two incomes and unlike him had college degrees. It was as if he had won against them, I saw insecurity and hubris.
The other laugh I remember distinctly was a few years later sometime in my mid-teens while I watched my father in a business suit put on his tie, he was on his way to court being charged with multiple counts of securities exchange fraud. I asked my father, vice president of the firm, if his boss ‘Red’ was going to go to prison.  My father laughed, quite a similar laugh to the one from a few years before and said “No, Elena, he is a very smart man.  No one is going to prison.”  He was right and just like the people in the film The Big Short , a bunch of white men thought themselves very smart, were fraudulent with the banking system, and never went to prison.  Just like those men even after being found out, my father continued on with the same and opened two more firms, until my father was finally shut down—unlike those men he was a comparatively very small fish.
I wonder what it is going to take for this system to finally stop and have a final crash…In 2007 it crashed and we the taxpayers bailed out the banks.  We have to have an educated society who stands up against fiduciary irresponsibility and I don’t see us there.  I don’t hear our collective, I only hear my fathers laughter, and that “No, Elena, he is a very smart man. No one is going to prison.”

I am not upset about the election results

As I watch people upset about the election results I keep asking myself why are they upset?
The main two candidates were overt racists…one was just called out for it less.
We’ve had W & Cheney before…those dudes were evil and we survived that.
People of color have been surviving shit (colonialism, overt oppression, systemic oppression, institutionalized oppression) for hundreds of years.

However, I am upset with white people who are blaming those who decided not to vote for a racist candidate, and searched elsewhere for representation.
I am upset that I am too emotionally scared to go to class today and have white people especially women tell me I should be more sad about Hillary…a woman who hates my people.
I am upset with white people who are asking why Trump won.  We, people of color, have been telling you we live in a racist country…and you only get shocked when it gets overt?

I am going to need white people to do more. To be more active, to know more, to reach other white people.  That is how white people can be an ally.  They can STFU about why did one racist over another get elected and instead work at understanding the historical contexts and the realities of racism.  Racism isn’t and usually won’t be this overt and easy  to grasp.  So, white people, you’ve got lots of work to do.

To my fam, to la raza, we have to know our history.  We have to be loud. We have to be active and keep on keepin’ on.  We got this.  “We gonna be alright!”

Training

A little more than two months left until the half-ironman.  I am scared.
However,  two weeks ago on Tuesday May 31st rode 85 miles with Andy and Ben to Yellow Springs.

Ben, Elenamary, Ela, Ellen after completing first triathlon of June

Ben, Elenamary, Ela, Ellen after completing first triathlon of June

June 8th did a Sprint Tri (1/2 mile swim, 21 mile bike, 3.5 mile run) with Ben, Ela, and Ellen.  Ben and I have trained together but I think this maybe the first time we’ve competed together.  It was a really fun race and one of the best parts was there were sample wetsuits you could borrow for free.  I am short and fat and when I’ve tried on suits in the past, they always ended up putting me in a men’s suit for those 6 feet (1.8m) tall.  I am 5’4 that is an extra eight inches, and while I do appreciate an extra 8 inches and manly cut in other situations, this is not one of those.   It also sat weird on my boobs.  Anyway, at this race they had Athena suits and it fit perfectly! Now, I actually want to get a wetsuit—some day when I have a disposable income or a sugar daddy.

John, Ant, Jess, Elena

John, Ant, Jess, Elena

June 13th rode 85+ miles with Antonio, John McPocho, and Jessica.  John and I have ridden a lot together, and Jess and I have trained and done triathlons together—they both know how to ride and came prepared. Antonio is a totally different story. You may remember Antonio from Shark Week. Antonio is the kind of dude who is very much “Meh, why the fuck not? Let’s try this” kind of dude. Antonio showed up on a mountain bike with no support for his bottom bits, no gloves, no long rides or any training under his belt, and with a backpack full of water. The man is a beast.  We had a good ride from Columbus to Yellow Springs most of it on the Rails to Trails path.  I am in love with that path because it is well maintained, has water every 10-12 miles, is quiet and my favorite flat!

I have good friends, who are a great support in my training.
I’ve another Sprint Tri (same distance as above) in less than a week and Andrej and Ben will be doing that one too, and Matt C. will be joining me for an Olympic in July.

This is exciting.  I am thankful my body is letting my attempt all this, thankful this is how I get to spend some of my time.

woman time

Image

I first met Adlet on the soccer field.  In the beginning, he was the only one, on our college campus, in China, who would pass me the ball and would treat me as a real teammate. I was excited to finally have a male friend that viewed me as an equal—so I thought.   His English, especially at the beginning of our friendship was limited but still better than my ability to speak to him in one of his other three languages (Kazakh, Russian and Mandarin).

Aldet and Elenamary

Aldet & Elenamary

I tried to explain to him one day before going out to play soccer in the city that I was cramping and had my period.  I tried the words “period”, “menstruation”, “menses”, “monthly cycle” but nothing seemed to click and so I simplified and said “I have blood coming from my vagina.  Blood between my legs.”  He was horrified and told me I was dirty and that I should stay away from him for one week.  This of course upset me and I very directly let him know I was angry, and not dirty and that I didn’t want to talk to him.  Aldet, not understanding, why I was so angry or how he should respond, consulted with some Nordic European male friends of mine about if and how he should interact with me when menstruating.  Being products of their culture, my dudes told him that he didn’t need to do anything, just be nice as always and see if he could do anything for me.  A month later while again on my period Adlet asked me “Do you have woman time?”  I answered that, why yes, I in fact did.  He smiled and responded “I be nice to you! What you want?”
I had a lot of respect for how much he had changed but we of course were still learning lots from each other.  Months later we went to the beach with our mutual friend, a French woman, Claire and because there were three of us, we took two motorbikes. Adlet drove his with Claire on the the back and I drove mine.

claire and elenamary

claire and elenamary

When we stopped for dinner at the end of our beach day Adlet told Claire he was not used to having to drive carefully because he had a woman with him, that he only ever drove me around and that I was “strong like man”.  I questioned him, what did he mean that “I was strong long man” he explained he meant it as a compliment that he was a feminist (I’d recently taught him the ‘f’ word).  Again, I shared my viewpoint and that it was different than his and that I understood he meant well. He now says things like “Elena, is strong like woman!”  I’ve also overheard him say that before he met me, he had been raised to think that you always trust what a man says over a woman, you listen to the woman but if it contradicts what any man says, the man is right.   I was shocked because I never knew that he’d ever thought that way.  Thing is though, I learn just as much if not more from Adlet.  He grew up in rural Kazakhstan, a firm follower of Islam, and is like all of us a product of our environment. Adlet, is intelligent and non-judgmental, a tool and a virtue that make him very open to change.  I am giving all of this back story because something amazing happened recently and Adlet surprised me once again.
This week, I found out that a health clinic that provides abortions had been vandalized with red paint.  I contacted my friend who was working at the clinic as soon as I saw the news and asked her if I could take her for drinks at the end of her shift.  She said no that she was exhausted and more than anything wanted to go home but that if I wanted to help, I could come help paint/clean the building.  I headed out and invited friends to join me as well. Pictures of us cleaning and a group photo post-clean up was on facebook and Adlet “liked it”.

clean-up crew

clean-up crew

I figured he hadn’t understood what were doing or what he was “liking” and so I had a discussion with him, sharing what had been done, and what we did to address the situation.  Turns out he fully understood and he responded  “Yes i understand, good job !
And it’s good idea put photo on Facebook, it mean u guys together never give up))
I mean u a together more strong”.  I have infinite respect for this man, who can change his views based on logic compassion, I need to do more of that myself.

 

 

to remember

i write this so i can remember the warmth i feel right now.

i just arrived home from a cold oh so wet bike ride but with the most wonderful company. a human that makes me want to be even more me and happily so.

arrived to find wonderful package from microcosm publishing. but told myself i couldn’t open it until after a long warm shower.

now going to bake bread and cookies, mexican hot chocolate and decorate cascarones. with more wonderful friends who guide me to be a better stronger me.

today is wonderful and warming to my soul so much so that it makes me love the gray cold seeping from the outside in, as it reminds me how perfect right now is.