Friday, July 24, 2015

Ch-ch-ch-changes!

Hello everyone! I hope your weeks have been more fantastic than the thought of a thousand free-range lemmings synchronized diving to Queen's Don't Stop Me Now!

Sadly, that could accurately describe my life right now, which is why this post is so late. My bad. But maybe you'll cut me a little slack. You see in the past two weeks I have accepted a position at a graduate school in Arizona, sold my truck, bought a car, quit my job, had to find a new place to live, begun the packing process and basically am about three seconds away from going utterly and completely insane.

The picture to the right is what my apartment currently looks like.

Yes indeed, that mass of boxes and a nearly buried bookcase basically sums up my earthly possessions. At this point I am truly sad that there is no incredible transporter room like on the Enterprise that can beam my belongings directly to Arizona. Nerd sigh.

I promise that when I move and get settled in, I will begin posting again with more regularity. I also swear I will get back to posting on Case (Un)Managed, but with life currently in it's unmanageable state, I'm afraid I have had to temporarily let that one sit for a second as well.

So the next time I post, if everything goes according to plan, I will be posting from Arizona. Of course for that to happen I need to get everything I own into the back of a truck and then somehow convince my two agoraphobic cats that spending a couple days cooped up in a vehicle listening to me belt 80's music isn't so bad.

Wish me luck.

In other news, Free the Shorts! has had a successful run so far! As I write this post it is sitting at #1 on Amazon Kindle's Humor and Entertainment Essays list! Here are what the reader reviews are saying thus far:

"...it's worth a Five-Star rating, hands down."

"It's hard to be grumpy or continue to have a bad day if you read anything Allison writes- she is an absolute laugh riot"

"Hahahahaha. So good I went right out and bought the next book."

"Hilarious! I loved the HULK SMASH chapter and the part about the raccoon. Allison Hawn is very funny." 

Thank you to everyone who has read a copy so far! If you haven't yet, go grab your free copy and give it a read! If you enjoy it, post a review! 

As always I can be found on Facebook and Twitter and my books can be found here!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Free the Shorts!

Hello all! I hope your weeks have been more fantastic than the thought of the Chipmunks singing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight!"

Well it is out! Free the Shorts! is, as the title would imply, free on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!


This collection includes six stories, four brand new stories and two from my previous two books. It's a great deal considering the only thing it's going to cost you is a few KB's of memory on your phone, computer, e-reader! Heck, it would even fit on a floppy disk!

So go snatch up your copy! If you enjoy it, do a poor author a favor and leave a review!

In other news Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus received yet another five star review! Reader Sarodnap writes, "Lovely read."

To see what's so lovely about it check it out here!

As always, I am fairly easily found on Facebook and Twitter (@AllisonHawn)! Come say hello!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Deja Moo... The Feeling I've Heard This Bull Before

Hello all! I hope everyone has had a week that is better than the thought of wombats synchronized swimming to Ballroom Blitz!

Alright, so I am just going to get this out of the way. As a resident Spokanite I should probably say a few things about this whole Rachel Dolezal thing, mostly because non-Spokanites won't stop asking me about it.

I find it a little funny that right before this whole thing blew up I wrote a piece on this blog about cultural appropriation. No seriously, scroll down, it's the post right below this one.

Just in case you need a refresher however, here is that lovely definition of cultural appropriation again:


Keeping that in mind, here are the points I would like to make:

1. No one is denying that Rachel Dolezal did a lot of work in the area of equality. The conundrum is that she trampled equality and was deceitful in doing so. You can't claim to be "culturally appropriating for equality" anymore than you can claim to be "bombing for peace."

2. No one in Spokane is mistaking Dolezal's self labeled transracial, which is not really a viable thing actually, with Caitlyn Jenner's transgender transition (how many times can I fit "trans" into one sentence). That was a comparison ya'll outside of Spokane developed and ran with. For the record, no, they are not the same, and no one (outside of our news media, which is weird anyways) in Spokane believes they are the same.

3. Spokane is a weird city. No, seriously, the first headline on the Spokane local news that I read this morning was "Spokane pizza delivery killer denied early release." Honestly, there are so many things in Spokane that could make international news, we're just shocked that the Rachel Dolezal mess was what made it.

So if I've satisfied all the news scandal interest I do have a quick announcement to make. While I work on edits for my third book Life is a Roller Derby Run by a Sphinx, I have decided to release a little collection of stories called Free the Shorts!


This collection will feature four new stories and two stories, one each from my previous books. The best part, it's going to be free! That's right, zero dollars and zero cents!

If the internet deities smiled upon me it will up within the next week or so, watch for more announcements here, on my Facebook and Twitter (@AllisonHawn).


Friday, June 5, 2015

Cultural Appropriation by Any Other Name Still Smells...

Hello all, I hope your weeks have been more fantastic than the thought of playing on a life size Monopoly board (come on, admit it, it would be fun).

Well, this past week I happened to post a video on my Facebook page addressing the issue of cultural appropriation, particularly focused around "theme" parties that tend to stereotype entire races and cultures in a detrimental light (i.e. themes like "Ghetto Fabulous," "Asian Parties" etc). 

For context, and because it is an excellent piece, here is the video:


While most of the response I received from posting this originally was fairly positive. There was one comment that I received, in person no less, from a Caucasian acquaintance who is nearly as pale as I am that made me want to go high five someone... in the face... with a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird.

The comment basically boiled down to (and I am paraphrasing), "I don't see why people of those cultures would be so offended. I mean, it's just a reason to party and it isn't like we're trying to be offensive."

Sadly, I have heard this exact sentiment echoed by many white people I have spoken to about a lot of different forms of cultural appropriation.


"Come on, what's the big deal?" asks the white frat-boy dressed at Halloween as a Muslim wearing a turban with bombs strapped to their chest.

"I don't think this is offensive," says the white girl who is dressed in a "Thug Life" t-shirt, with a fake grill who is addressing everyone at a party using the n-word.

The point that these comments miss is this: Not being of that culture means that you DO NOT have the right to decide what is offensive and what isn't. (I bolded and underlined that, is there some other way I can make the "do not" more noticeable?)

It's as simple as that, just because you don't find something offensive, doesn't give you a pass to use other peoples' cultures, history or race as you please.

My family, on both sides, is Scottish. How Scottish am I? I know Flower of Scotland by heart, am helping organize the Highland Games and I can quite happily tell you where to go and what to ride on to get there in Gaelic.

You know what I find annoying? The phrase, "Oh, but Ireland and Scotland are basically the same thing right?"

Absolutely, if you ignore two completely diverse cultures, histories and just mash ancient traditions together like the ingredients in a haggis, then the two are exactly the same.

Don't get me wrong, I love the Irish, but calling our heritages the same is just not correct.

If I am annoyed by just that phrase, I can only imagine what it is like to have your entire culture hijacked and mocked publicly just because someone else thinks it is "fun" to do so.

Remember, the outfit you're wearing as a "joke" is something that someone else wears on a daily basis as part of their everyday life. You take off the costume and you return to your daily life, but that person gets to deal with the nasty stereotypes or stigma perpetuated by your disregard for their culture.

So how about next time you think, "Is what I'm doing perpetuating harmful stereotypes? If I wore this in a insert culture neighborhood would I find a lot of people who were very offended?"

If the answer to either of those questions is yes, then please rethink your plan.

As always I can be found on Facebook or Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and my books can be found here.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Mulan Effect

Hello everyone! I hope your weeks have been better than the thought of a party hosted by intelligent pelicans.

It is no mystery that I have worked a plethora of interesting jobs. From stable hand to Japanese language tutor, my jobs have not been in the sphere of 9 to 5 normality.

Quite a few of my jobs thus far have not only been a bit on the odd side, but have also been ones that have, in the past, been traditionally held by men. I've been a bouncer, head of security for a homeless shelter, lighting technician for a concert house and self defense instructor.

Now, before I get a ton of comments saying, "But women's equality has come so far! You can't seriously think your gender matters in modern jobs!" let me tell you how much bull pucky that is.

What It Feels Like Working In A Male Dominated Field
I have found that as a woman my credibility and my experience are constantly called into question.

I once literally had a customer when I was a lighting technician for a concert house say, "Move over sweetheart, I'll focus that light."

To which I promptly replied, "What is your profession?"

"I'm a salesman."

"Uh-huh. And how much experience with lighting has that afforded you?"

"Umm...None."

"Then no thanks, cupcake. As I'm the trained lighting technician I think I have the lights. If I need to sell something I will let you know."

The way that I have come to cope with this kind of behavior I like to call The Mulan Effect.

For those of you who never watched Mulan as a child, and therefore I assume had empty and sad childhoods, it is a film in which the protagonist, Mulan, takes her father's place in the army by pretending to be a man.

While I have never claimed to be a man during any of my jobs (and certainly never had a lucky cricket or talking Dragon to help out) I found that taking on certain masculine characteristics helped keep some of the sexism at bay.

It was during my lighting tech days that I started going by Al. Somehow when clients heard that their lighting tech was going to be Al instead of Allison there seemed to be fewer instances of, "Oh, do you have anyone else available that day?"

Of course it was always interesting when they found out "Al" was a 5' 2" blonde twirling a giant wrench, but since no one ever had anything negative to say about my lighting sets, being Al got me through the door to work with customers.

As a bouncer and security personnel, I always got a better and more professional response when I was wearing heavy steel toed boots, a more loose fitting t-shirt and black straight-cut pants than if I wore anything even slightly alluding to my femininity.

Even lowering my voice an octave or so dramatically shifted the level to which others perceived my level of competence, even if I was talking to the same person when I lowered my voice.

This Mulan Effect as I like to call it does have it's limitations of course. There have been times when despite my efforts to suppress my femininity while in the job, I have had people walk off because of my gender.

The fact of it is, that I find it incredibly sad that in 2015 I still have people shaking my hand while saying, "Wait, you can't be the head of security here. I mean, wouldn't he be better at it?" (And yes, I have had that happen multiple times.)

I find it even more depressing that to be taken seriously I have to suppress things as core as my sex and gender to be taken seriously at jobs simply because it has traditionally been worked by males.

So has anyone experienced the Mulan Effect? What about men, do you find that taking on more "traditionally feminine" roles you have to hide your masculinity at times?

I really would love to hear from everybody.

As always I can be found on Facebook and Twitter and my books can be found here.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Putting All Your Chips On The Table

Well hello all! I hope everyone has had a more marvelous week than the thought of a thousand cacti arranged to form the Millennium Falcon.

This past week I had the awesome chance to go toodle around Arizona for a few days (which is why I have been a tad lax on updates, apologies).

Arizona is an wondrous place, full of sunshine, cacti and really odd street names (Bloody Basin Road and Bee King Road among them).
 
As a resident Spokanite, I haven't really seen sunlight since Tinkerbell was saying, "In color!" before the start of every Disney film. 

Is that an exaggeration? Maybe, but having just survived another bone-chilling winter, I was ready for some sun.

I was also exceedingly ready for a break from work. Don't get me wrong, I love my clients, but you can only say, "Stop licking the walls!" and, "Take those panties off of your head!" so many times before it begins to wear on your little grey cells.

I was finally getting away from it all... or so I thought.

Just because I'm on vacation does not mean that I wish to stop working out, so I was overjoyed to find that the hotel in Arizona my mother, grandmother and I were staying in had a workout area.

I was far less overjoyed when I opened the door to their mini-gym and was met by a wave of body odor and booze. No one was in there at that exact moment, but there was a super-classy box of chardonnay sitting on top of the weight bench with a myriad of potato chips surrounding it like some kind of shrine to gluttony.
Of Course I Took a Picture With A Dinosaur Head

I snagged the box of wine to take up to the front desk, but paused when, from an outside door that had been propped open, a schnockered looking man entered. 

When he saw me holding the box of wine he gave me a shocked look worthy of a daytime soap opera and quickly exited again.

I took the box of wine to the front desk who said they would take care of it. 

The next morning, in an insane rash of optimism, I decided to try the workout room again. I knew I should have just gone running when I opened the door and was slapped in the face by body odor, booze and the additional fragrance of urine.

I peered around the corner and found myself looking at the same individual I had previously spotted. Wolfing down chips with one hand and downing fowl smelling rum and cheap wine as his chasers, the man lounged on the weight equipment staring at the TV screen.

"Hey bud!" I said.

He slowly turned as I continued, "Are you supposed to be in here?"

His mouth full of chips and dank smelling rum he blearily looked at me, looked down at his chips, and then offered them to me.

I just shook my head and headed for the front desk to inform them that they had failed to get rid of their unregistered guest.

What lessons did I learn from my little Arizona adventure?

1. When you are caught breaking into a hotel's weight room to settle in to drink and pee, there is no amount of chips you can use to barter yourself out of that situation.

2. There is no taking a vacation from a bizarre life. 

Quick announcement: Due to the fact that I wish to focus more on my writing projects, this blog will be moving from a weekly format to a bi-weekly format. Of course if you want a more frequently updated way to follow my misadventures, come find me on Facebook and Twitter (@AllisonHawn)!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

There Is Such A Thing As Bad Publicity

Hello all! I hope you are all having a fantastic week tantamount to the thought of The Rocky Horror Picture Show reenacted by barn owls!

I received my bachelor's degree from a little university known as Northwest Nazarene University. 

It's in Nampa.

No, that's Napa, which is in California and there were no vineyards surrounding NNU's campus. Nampa, Idaho.

No, not Ohio. You know what, never mind I'm sure you have Google if you're really that curious.

The point is that NNU has been making some headlines! That's right, I can finally say what university I graduated from and no longer have people say, "What?"

Instead I can now hear people say, "Oh! You went to that school that fired that one tenured professor in a really public and awful way, causing a giant scandal and making the faculty nearly start a revolution, including pitchforks and torches?"

Yup, NNU, home of our new mascot 'The Administrative Scandal Machines.'

So for those of you who missed this story on the news here is a brief recap:

A tenured theology professor, Dr. Tom Oord, was informed via e-mail with no warning that he was being laid off (basically the campus president, one Dr. Alexander, sent a break-up text). Dr. Oord, who has not only been a senior member of faculty for a while now, but has some of the most respected publications, is one of the student body's most beloved instructors and just an all around swell guy, had no warning. He was simply given the boot.


The president claimed 'budget issues.' The staff and students claimed he was targeted for his beliefs, which are a bit more progressive than the current acting university president whom I'm not entirely sure has realized that the Spanish Inquisitions, which I'm sure were fun for him and his buddies, are over now.

As it turns out the 'budget issues' were in fact caused by the university president. Against all advice (even his Magic 8 Ball told him "no") he entered into several deals with outside companies that he then later had to use over a million dollars to buy the university out of.

Then, in the pretty much only salvageable moment of this entire debacle, the faculty joined together and called for a vote of 'no confidence' for the President Alexander.

Now both sides are in uneasy delegations, the layoffs of Dr. Oord and other staff have been put on hold, and the president himself is wanting to lead an investigation into "what went wrong."

As one of the alumni of this university who has managed to pay off the nearly crippling debt they left me with after obtaining my degree, I have every right to weigh in on this (plus it's my blog, so there you go).

First, Dr. Alexander is a bombastic twit. I know, I know, Christian charity calls for me to turn the other cheek and not say things bluntly.

But I'm the head of security for a homeless shelter, so my filter has holes big enough to drive a truck through and I have a low tolerance for the smoke and mirrors some are using to cover the giant pile of panda-poo they're trying to hide.

If you are the cause of the issue, you should not be the one to lead the investigation into your own mistakes (thank goodness the board of directors did not side with him on that). That's a little like having the murderer investigate the murder they committed, "The victim clearly stabbed himself... Yes I'm aware that the knife is the center of his back, but come on, he looks flexible, right!?"

Nope, Still Not Buying It
Second, when you send letters out to the alumni begging them to still believe in your ability to lead and make honest decisions, you shouldn't sound like the kid who got caught with their hand in the cookie jar that is still trying to salvage their innocence.

The entire letter basically boiled down to, "We're not saying we did anything wrong, but if we did something wrong, then we might be sorry. But we didn't do anything wrong! Sure, maybe some teeny-weenie mistakes were made, just maybe though..."

Third, when there is a one-million-plus dollar deficit that is all thanks to you making a decision that literally everyone else told you was a terrible idea, maybe you should consider that the wrong person was removed from their post.

Finally, there was a claim that 'floundering enrollment' was part of the reason for Dr. Oord's release from his position. Well, now you have the media's attention and so far that I've seen, none of it has been overly positive. How do you feel about your chances for increased enrollment now, bub?

As NNU pushes through this tough time, I would like to say that I back the faculty there one-hundred percent. You are all awesome and your vote of 'no-confidence' in a man that I had no confidence in ever since the day he told me being sexually harassed was, "Nothing I should be worried about," made me do a happy, if slightly vindictive, little dance.

I can only hope and pray that the school makes the right decision moving forward and decides to support it's faculty, before it's faculty decide to move on.

For my normally less critical and scathing wit, feel free to come find me on Facebook and Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and check out my books here.


Also, there will be one week without a new post from Normally Surreal as I am off on an adventure! Normally Surreal will return with a new post May 8, same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel!