First Step Into a Larger World

I have a confession to make. I frakking love the YouTuber culture. There, I said it. I swear, it’s like an addiction. So much so that I’ve decided to take Out of the Blue to the next level. “But why vlogs, Laurel, I liked the old way?” Well, I’m glad you asked. First off, the written blogs aren’t going away, they’re still a thing. It’s just that, after making so many online friends and having so many awesome discussions here on the site, I want to start putting faces to your names! Putting some of this stuff on YouTube will let you all post video responses, really kick the interaction up a notch. And – sad but true – it’ll let us reach a wider audience. Now all you people who said “I’ll wait for the movie” are out of excuses!

I will occasionally use the vlog to talk about personal stuff I feel comfortable sharing, but most of the time I’m going to be talking about issues that affect me and the people of Los Angeles. I don’t want to get too didactic, but I also don’t want to lose sight of what Out of the Blue is really about. So, yeah… that’s happening. Watch for the first installment later on today!

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Trust Begins at Home

Today’s entry is about trust.

Not wearing a mask was a conscious decision, and it’s not because the costume glue necessary to keep one of those things on is messy and wreaks havoc with my skin. It’s because I want everyone to know the real me, and to trust that I have everyone’s best interests at heart. As psychologist Temperance Jones says in her insightful book, “The Superhero Complex,” when superheroes unmask, “it helps to dispel the public’s inherent skepticism of the masked vigilante’s motivations,” and I hope against hope that in my case, people are able to suspend their skepticism enough to feel safe when I’m around.

I also don’t want to downplay the tremendous trust I’m placing in the world at large. I’m trusting the police and the powers that be to work with me, not against me. I’m trusting all of you to respect my privacy and that of the people I love. And, excepting the occasional unsolicited late-night caller, that trust has not been unfounded.

Since being thrust into the public eye, I’ve been accused of keeping secrets. Do I have any powers? If so, what are they, and how did I get them? I maintain that the answers to these questions are all very personal, and I hope everyone can bear with me and accept that as open as I try to be, there are just some things I’m not ready to talk about. Not yet.

But I do have to admit, I’m not always as trusting in my personal life. What does it say about me that I’m willing to give the faceless masses the benefit of the doubt, but I sometimes can’t or won’t extend that to be people who are closest to me? I’ve lost friends in the past because I’ve let suspicions fester so long that by the time the truth comes out, there’s nothing left about the relationship worth saving. It’s just so much easier to push those suspicions to the back of my mind, make excuses for them to keep everything on an even keel. But I’d like to think that if history started to repeat itself, I’d be strong enough to confront the people I care about before what should otherwise amount to a molehill grows to the size of Mount Everest. And I’m working on that. Trust me.

Proposition H8

Part 2 of my gay marriage retrospective: A couple of years back, I got pretty incensed by Proposition 8, the now infamous amendment which banned same-sex marriages here in California.  The overturning of prop 8 earlier this year was one giant leap for equality, and our president speaking out in support of gay marriage earlier this week was an even bigger one.  But while that hateful amendment was still on the books, I attended a number of emotionally-charged overturn Prop 8 events.  Here’s a MySpace post I wrote about one of them:

Proposition H8

I went to another overturn Prop 8 rally last week, and god it felt good to be out there.  People always ask me what it feels like to be a “super hero.”  (You might wonder how those two statements mesh, but don’t worry, they do.)  Doing something to help other people, whether it’s keeping a drug dealer off the streets, or going out in droves to fight for equal rights, it all comes down to helping the people who need you.  So just a little shout out for everyone out there who’s doing their bit, if you want to know what it feels like to be a super hero, you already know.

The rally was incredible.  Thousands of people out in the streets campaigning for what they believe in.  Everyone joining together; making friends, creating bonds that transcend race, religion, or economic status, it’s such an empowering feeling!  Ok so I know that sounds a little new-agey, but it really was a great experience.  I’m so used to doing things on my own, ya know?

Doing my job means that I can’t really tell anyone what I’m up to.  I can’t give people updates, or talk about coworkers etc. etc.  I’m a loner.  And I’m cool with that – I’ve been alone for a long time, it doesn’t bother me, most times I’m happier that way.  So having a cause that’s championed by my friends makes me feel like I’m a part of something bigger than myself.  Like I belong to something important.  Doesn’t hurt that I’d do anything for the cause, but I like knowing that it connects me to people who share my values.

I suppose working with the kids I do, and having lost my own parents, I realize more than most just how much a stable home with any loving parental unit would change their lives.  So for me its more than just marriage rights, it the rights of loving parents to take in children who need them.  It frustrates me to see so many people focusing on the negative.  There are a thousand more worthy causes to take moral issue against.  Wasting their energy on banning gay marriage…it’s just so pointless.  You want to change the moral compass of this country – support “traditional marriage”  – how about we get rid of wife beaters and child abusers.  Let’s create a positive change in this world and give every loving couple the chance to help a child grow to their full potential.  Because until we have the courage to truly put our children first… nothing will change.

Yes, We Can: Checks and Balancing Act

So in honor of President Obama coming out in support of gay marriage, I’m reposting two pieces I wrote for my MySpace a couple of years back.  Remember when MySpace was relevant? (Yeah, me neither).  At any rate, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the president’s inauguration back in January of ’09, so this first one is all about that.

Yes, We Can: Checks and Balancing Act

4 a.m., 7th & Independence, 14° F, the gates open and several hundred thousand ecstatic fans rush the National Mall. In what should have been a frigid, pushing, shoving mob scene — that rabid mass of humanity instead exchange stories, snacks and handwarmers.

Obviously, I’m an L.A. girl, which means that my idea of a cold day is 45°. And as I mentioned, it was freezing — like, actually freezing — BELOW freezing. Now, I’ve spent a lot of time observing people in tense, crowded and/or volatile situations, and the amazing thing about Obama’s Inauguration was, no one cared — in a good way. They didn’t care that it was cold (so cold), or crowded, or lacking in clean bathrooms, or that there was no entertainment. We all spent about 7 hours hanging around in what amounts to just a basic grassy field, for one 30 minute speech… from the man about to become the leader of the free world. What made this a day I will never forget is that all of these people; black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Irish (FTW!), etc., spent 10 hours together forgetting all of the things that make us different. I expected to find more than a few people rousing rabble, but minus the usual quota of average jerks, the whole crowd was accommodating, patient and just plain excited to be there. I just wish I could have had the kids with me. Admittedly, the attention span of a few dozen orphans fits squarely into the category of “not so much,” but they would have loved the rush of being a part of history.

We got to watch the concert from the day before and then the entrance of the who’s-who of D.C.’s political elite, marred a bit by the boo-ing of Bush. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Bush fan by any means, but I did have hopes that we could be a bit more classy. Ah, well, in some ways that’s the best thing about being an American. Even when it takes that class out of us — we’re still able to express ourselves without fear of reprisal. That’s something, again, that I’d have loved to show the kids.  I mean, sometimes we don’t even know how good we have it. Just that simple right to criticize our government is a gift we’ve been given — it’s something so many other countries deny. Of course that then dovetails into the abuse of that gift; which leads us to Fury of Solace. Part of what makes our country great is the ability to openly oppose the ruling class. We have a free media, we can protest, we can take legal action — we can rally the support of the people and overturn laws and mandates for the greater good. But, when someone takes the law into their own hands, they jeopardize that right to protest.

Our system is flawed — every system is. But unless we maintain order and remember the value of a human life, all the privileges we take for granted will disappear. As a product of the system, I know that things aren’t perfect — far from it. We have to make changes together, though, as a community. We all have to be on board to make any lasting changes.  If all of us ran around playing judge, jury and executioner, we’d be no better than the dictators and despots we collectively revile. Okay, so, that’s a lot of fancy jargon for — if we go around punching the kids that make us mad, we’re all going to end up with black eyes — but it’s true.

Hmm, how ever did I get on this soap box? Where did it come from, and how can I get rid of it? 😉

The day ended with an inspiring speech from Obama, followed by the parade. A parade in which the nation’s first black president (in a country where tradition holds that some people are created more equal than others) got out of his bullet-proof limo and cheered alongside his fellow citizens who elected him to the high office — without an ounce of fear.  It was incredible. Words cannot describe.

Getting back to my hotel afterwards, on the other hand… now that was a nightmare!

Something to Celebrate

Okay, so, apparently, me telling everybody that talking about Emmett was off-limits only made everyone talk about him more. And since I guess no one’s going to be able to close that pandora’s box again, I’m going to tentatively say that the moratorium on talking about my boyfriend has now been lifted.  Mostly because I’m finding that I want to talk about him!

Emmett came with me to visit the kids last week.  Richard’s been having a rough time of it lately, and his antics have been in high gear.  Not that I blame him, I had a few of those moments myself when I was younger.  I’ve managed to channel that emotional energy into my work, but for a kid…well, let’s just say I’ve been there, and I tend to cut him some slack.  But he’s teetering on the brink of darkness, and he’s gonna stay there until he comes to terms with what happened… or until he doesn’t.

I walked in to Lost Lambs this past Thursday all fired up, emotions high and worried to death about how to help him.   But Emmett just kept a level head, went over and talked to Richard, man to man.  Nothing earth shattering, just the right words when Richard needed them the most.  I never would have thought of that.  Emmett got him to open up in a way I’ve never been able to: apparently his mother died just a few days after his birthday.  And the anniversary is just over a week away.  Imagine what that has to be like for a kid… for anyone.

Most of these kids don’t have a lot of experience with birthday celebrations.  And they don’t usually have much worth celebrating.  But Emmett reminded these kids what birthdays are supposed to be: a celebration of life.  And he and Richard brainstormed a birthday to end all birthdays.  We’re talking laser tag, a live band, a moon castle for the younger kids (and us young at hearts!), birthday cakes, presents, a movie projected up against the wall…

Now I know we might not be able to pull off everything those two crazy kids came up with, but we’ll get as close as we can.  And Richard will have something positive to focus on, something he can share with the other kids.  And really, the party itself, as fun as it’s going to be, isn’t even the important thing.  What Emmett really did to help that adorably outrageous kid was letting him know that it’s okay to have fun even when you’re hurting, that you can be sad about the ones you’ve lost and still live your life, have a party, put that anger on the shelf… Some days Emmett seems like he’s a million miles away… but it’s days like yesterday that I remember why I fell for him in the first place.  When it comes to the little guys, those of us who’ve been stepped on a time or two, you just can’t find a better shoulder to lean on.

Biological Clock

Okay, it’s no secret I didn’t have the greatest childhood.  So I guess it’d come as no surprise that I haven’t exactly been in a rush to bring another life into this world.  The reason most L.A. superheroes only get 15 minutes of fame is that 15 minutes also happens to be their average life expectancy.  How could I bring a baby into the world when at any moment I could wind up at the wrong end of Fury of Solace’s gun?

Readers of my blog know that, when I’m not off saving the world, I volunteer every Thursday night at a local orphanage, Lost Lambs.  When I see the looks on those kids faces when I walk through the door, everything seems right with the world.  They need to know that there’s a future worth dreaming about.  And, honestly, I think the experience is as therapeutic for me as it is for them.

But this brings me to Richard.  The other kids call him “Dick,” and I don’t think it’s a term of endearment.  Anyway, Richard is in a very dark place… His alcoholic father beat his mother to death, then blew his own brains out.  Richard discovered the bodies of his parents later that day when he got home from school.  Since then, Richard’s been in and out of foster homes.  He has problems with authority, and profound rage issues.  He reminds me of me at his age, if you wanna know the truth.

I think I could give him the guidance he needs, and I’ve been giving some serious thought to the A-word… but I’m not sure my live-in boyfriend would be on board.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Emmett to death, but I’m not sure what kind of father he’d make.  And I’m not sure that’s something he’s in a hurry to find out.  And since the hours I spend patrolling the streets of L.A. would put him on parent duty 90% of the time, I figure he ought to have some say 😉

Barton: Fink?

Los Angeles, remember when we had that talk about how we needed new blood in the police department?  That we needed to hand control of the police chief position back to the voters to oust the politically compromised Chief Barton and get our city back on track?  Well, apparently you don’t.  That’s the only way I can explain how a slim majority of you voted Barton back in for a second five-year term.  Now, look: our city has seen a lot worse than Barton, I’ll grant you that.  With him in charge of the LAPD, we won’t exactly be circling the drain.  But at the same time, after how hard we fought to make the police chief accountable to the voters, it seems like a lot of people have missed the point.