Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Happy trails...

Dear reader(s),

This is where I say goodbye, and bid you to say hello to my new blog! I'm abandoning Where is SummerWaldo, but I hope you continue reading my new blog, Summer Where the Sun Don't Shine.

See you on the flipside!

Love and kisses and raindrops,


Friday, November 16, 2012

Genuinity, gender roles, and biscuits & bacon

I needed some inspiration, so here I am at my favorite place in the world: Oddfellows. It's my favorite people watching spot in the city. There are a hundred different conversations going on in very close proximity, and some very interesting people. There's a job interview for a start up business going on to my left, a man who looks like gay Mitt Romney to my right, and a man who has taken his elderly mother and sister out to lunch to my front. They also serve biscuits with eggs and bacon, which is doing my soul well today. I love it here.

It is also almost entirely run by adorable young hipsters.

It's been awhile since I've written in my poor little blog. These days my writing has been centered around academia, so I'm left with very little mental wherewithal to produce a witty, fun to read column. That being said, I find that when I don't write, I feel brain slugs creep in and suck out my creative...uhh...brain stuff. See? That last sentence was terrible! Damn brain slugs...

They look kind of like this...

In order to shake up these brain slugs, I need to discuss something that has been on my mind for quite some time. I want to talk about gender roles. Some time ago I went out for drinks with a friend, who is a fellow lesbi-lady. I love getting dolled up and meeting friends for happy hour. Curling my hair and putting on make-up is one of those things I have loved doing since I was a little girl and I would sit next to my mother and watch her do her do her own. My mother taught me to embrace femininity, but she never really defined it. All she taught me was that it wasn't shallow to want to look nice, because we don't look nice for other people: we do it for ourselves.

This leads into my conversation with my friend over drinks. She was expressing to me the type of woman she was attracted to, which in the lesbian community is known as butch. Butch, for the uneducated, is a woman who tends to dress and style themselves on the masculine side, or rather who avoid the overtly feminine style. This includes no make-up, dresses or frills. This is the type of woman my friend is attracted to, and God bless. I inquired, just out of curiosity, what is it about butch women that my friend is attracted to? In her words: "Butch women are just real, you know? They're not fake. Femmes spend all their time trying to look like something they're not; they just so fake!"

Fake? I paused a moment to think about the amount of time I took to get ready for our happy hour: 20 minutes curling my hair, 15 minutes on my makeup, 10 minutes thoughtfully picking out an outfit (that includes time struggling into my Spanx; my mother raised me right). Did that make me fake? In my mind, while spending time getting ready, I was trying to make myself look nice by my own standards. Why? Well, because I feel nice when I look nice. Again, does that mean I am presenting a false version of myself. I would like to think that if I venture out into public, with or without makeup, that I am presenting the same version of myself.
...After! See? So not fake.
You may have seen this coming, dear reader, that I take issue with her hypothesis. The fact that butch women are more "real" than femme is not only inherently untrue, but it's rather insulting. Are there "fake" femme's? Sure! Are there "fake" butch women? You can bet your sweet ass there is, and I've met them. What one wears does not an identity make. It's how we present our personality, whether it comes from behind a buzzcut or a weave. So I would like to express to my friend to take that hypothesis and shove it firmly up her nasal cavity. Never assume to know a person by their outer shell; you'd be surprised what you learn.

I may like to wear pearls, red lipstick and bows in my hair, but I can lift steel beams, put together furniture, and do intermediate plumbing.

On a final note, to all you butches out there who look at me and see a "cupcake": I am a bad ass with a Sephora card, and don't you f*cking forget it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cynicism, Christianity, and Fried Chicken

Wow. What a week. There has been a lot of fighting in the social networking world about religion, the right to free speech, and the right to eat fried chicken in peace.

To start out, I need to clear something up: I'm a Christian. I know, weird right? I believe there is a God, heaven, hell, angels, a holy trinity and all that stuff!

"But Summer..." I hear you all collectively say, "'re gay! You like ladies. How can you subscribe to an institution that hates you? Traitor! Let's get her!"

Caalllm down ya'll! Put down your pitchforks and fairy dust, because I'm not one of those self-hating gays who rallies against the rights of my own.

I'll leave that to Rick Santorum.

When I think back to high school, I was more frightened about to come out as a Christian than I was afraid about coming out as a lesbian. It seems that being a Christian rubs some people the wrong way. Aside from believing in "an omnipotent being in the sky that you can't see", Christianity has been linked to some loaded issues: sexuality, gay marriage, women's rights and their rights to choose, and holy wars, to name a few. So, on behalf of all Christians who believe gays should be married, women have the right to decide what to do with their bodies, and don't kill in the name of God, I would like to say the following:

I'm sorry.

I'm sorry that the few has spoiled the bunch. There are people out there who wear Christian badges on their lapels, and do completely un-Godly things, like preach hate, and hurt others in God's name. Do those people speak for me, or countless other Christians? Absolutely not. They speak for themselves.

I bring this up because one of my favorite websites, The Oatmeal posted the following cartoon last week:

*source: (please don't sue me)

In it, creator Matthew Inman (from Seattle, holla!), in a nutshell details all the way religious people annoy him. The whole comic struck me as painfully cynical, and it made me sad. 

Listen Matthew, I get it! There are people out there who have done, and continue to do, some completely annoying, and sometimes awful, things in the name of God. Do they speak for the populous? Absolutely not. Again, they speak for themselves. There are also a whole bunch of people out there who are doing very good things in the name of God. Does Matthew or I see eye to eye with these people on all the issues? No, probably not. That being said, they win in my book, because I don't see me OR Matthew going to any third world countries and helping the sick and hungry in the name of anyone.

That being said, there are people out there who do some completely awful things in the name of Allah, or Shiva, or Xenu, or in some cases nobody. People just do some awful things and pin them on unwilling beings. Should these beings or the whole of their followers be held accountable? No! So Matthew, cheer the hell up dude. You don't have all the answers and neither does anyone else. Let's all just chill out and have a sandwich.

I don't want to get into a religious debate, I just want to say this: acceptance is a two way street. When I came out to my mother, she was not okay with me being gay. I believe the phrase "you will answer to God for this" was uttered.

"Just WAIT until your Father gets home!"

That conversation did not end well, but after a heart to heart with my partner at the time, I decided I'd rather have my queer-hatin' mother in my life than to not have her at all. She also decided she would rather have her queer daughter in her life than to not have her at all. And guess what? After some time went by, my mother found that her perception of gay people was way off, and she's totes down with the gays now! It turns out we don't go to playgrounds and molest children, and leave AIDS on just-washed coffee mugs on our weekends off. We go to Costco and watch Jeopardy in our sweats, just like everyone else!

Wanna know what else we want to do just like everyone else? Get married. Which brings me to this winner:
"My nuggets taste like inequality."

C.E.O. of Chick-Fil-A, Dan Cathy (Cathy's a girl's name!), wants the world to know that when it comes to not wanting two dudes or two chicks to be legally married, he is "guilty as charged!" His words. Hence the quotations. He has also donated upwards of $2,000,000 to programs that are battling the legalization of gay marriage.

This has raised feathers (HA!) on both sides of the chicken-wire fence. In the gay supporting corner, you have people who are mad at Dan Cathy. Should their feathers be ruffled? Hell, yeah! This dude has donated millions to prevent a certain group of people to have the same rights as everyone else. In the other corner you have the not so supporting of gays, who are defending Cathy and his right to free speech.

Has anyone stopped Cathy from saying what he wants to say, and doing what he wants to do? Absolutely not. Should they? Absolutely not. One of the wonderful things about this country is that we all have the right to say whatever the hell we want. If Cathy wants to donate all of his nuggets to campaigns that rally against the rights of others, then that is his right as an American citizen.

Go ahead. Donate millions. Donate billions. We will not stop fighting.

As long as there are Dan Cathys, Ted Haggards, Fred Phelps, Pat Robertsons and James Dobsons out there who believe that they can use the word of God to discriminate against His children, then we will continue to fight their hateful ignorance. There will always be someone ready to stand up to the voices of oppression, as there has in the past.

So Mr. Cathy, bring it. I'll just be over here enjoying an apple instead of a chicken sandwich.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Argosy University Shady

I am making it my personal mission to make 'Argosy University Shady' the first search subject to show up in auto-finish on search sites.
Do NOT enroll with this "university".

Two years ago, after losing my job, I enrolled with Argosy University. I wasn’t planning to enroll in school at the time; you see, I was calling a job lead that I found online, and was directed to an e...nrollment advisor with Argosy. I was surprised, but the woman was very nice, and asked me if I considered going back to school and finishing my degree. At that point in my life, when I was tired of only be qualified for entry-level jobs, I realized it was time to go back to school.
Looking back I wish I had done the research on this university before enrolling with them, but sadly I did not. If I had done the research I would have found they have been sued for fraud, they have lost their accreditation, and they have even been featured in new articles in the Washington Post and on Frontline for shady recruiting tactics:

After completing 15 credits with Argosy, I was starting a new cycle at the beginning of this year. On the day my new class started I received a call from my academic counselor, Zandra Zemora. Zandra told me that I need to set up a payment plan to pay off the remainder of my tuition for the academic year before I could get into class. This was no problem and I gave her my payment information. She said I would be able to get into class that evening; however, I could not get into class that evening, which was a Tuesday. I wasn’t able to get into class until that following Saturday. My academic counselor called an apologized for the error and told me that it was being fixed and I should be able to get into class. All of my homework and class postings, which were due by the following Tuesday, was given a 4 day extension. I started my homework that Saturday and made my first posting and turned in my first assignment.

At Argosy University, if you do not make two postings within the academic week (Tues-Mon), you are automatically withdrawn from the class. I knew that I had extra time to finish my homework, however, so I didn’t attempt to make another posting until Wednesday. When I attempted to log in to class, I found I was withdrawn. Furthermore, I was not only withdrawn from class, I was withdrawn from the university!

I received a call from my academic advisor, Dalles Colby, apologizing for the error and said that the school is to blame and they will get me reenrolled for classes right away. He said that Zandra will be contacting me to help me out with the reenrollment process. After two week I finally got a call from Zandra, who told me I could reenroll if I pay for the class that I was withdrawn from. I told her absolutely not; it was the university’s error. She told me that it was my fault and I didn’t do my homework on time. I told her that we had communicated previously and she knew that I was given an extension; had she remembered me? She finally said she remembered, but that it was still my error and I would have to pay. I told her that was unacceptable and I would be transferring to a new university if that would be the case. I talked to Dalles Colby again and told him I will be unenrolling from the university; I also asked if I would be charged for that class and he said no. I went on to enroll with University of Phoenix; suffice to say, I am really seeing the difference in quality of classes, professors, and function.

A few months ago I noticed in my bank account that Argosy was processing payments on my debit card, without my consent. I called Zandra and she said it was for that class. I told her I did not give her consent to charge me, and she said I did when I was enrolled. I told her I was no longer enrolled and I do not give consent and she said she would stop processing payments, but the money that was charged will not be refunded to me. I told her that was unacceptable and I wanted this issue escalated. She sent me to a person named Lola, who said she would escalate the issue and call me back. Lola called me and said that she could probably get the charge suspended, and that she would call me in a week to let me know what she hears from her finance director. That was over a month ago. I have called Lola, Dalles and Zandra several times since then with no success. Today I called Zandra, the phone rang three times, and she picked up and hung up on me.

Not only am I being charged for a class that I didn’t take, but if I don’t pay for that class, I will not get my transcripts to transfer to the University of Phoenix. This is 15 credits, almost an entire freshman year, that I am paying for and will be rendered useless. I am having to retake those classes at UoP, which will total a loss of $7500, not including the money that they have already taken from me.

Argosy is shady, unprofessional, and should lose their accredidation. If you read this blog, please go to Google, Bing, or what ever search engine you use and search 'Argosy University Shady'.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Women: Not So Bad

**Note: A lovely lady stopped me today and asked me if I found a job. I looked at her bewildered and said that I found a job way back in October. She then said I really ought to update that in my blog. Two things: 1) I have a new reader, and that just ticked my narcissisameter up a full point. 2) I have a new(ish) job. It pays the bills, until I get my undergrad. After that I'll get my MBA. After that I'll be all of their bosses and I'll rule the corporate world. I digress...**

I have to make a confession that may (or may not) startle some: for the last few years I have been a bit of a cynic about women. Now I know you might say:

"Um,'re a woman..."

"Summer, you're a lesbian..."

"Summer, you like women, date women, and was even married to one..."

Well you would be right to all of the above. The latter one, however, might be what contributed to my cynicism of the following:

1. Love
2. Dating
3. Women
Except you Tina...never you...

All of my cynicism of the above was recently challenged when I joined the Seattle Women's Chorus.

I'll admit, from the start, I was terrified. Terrified of auditioning, of rejection; even terrifed of being accepted. Just terrified in general; but I knew something needed to change, and jumping outside my comfortable "never try, never fail" ideology was a start.

I honestly thought I did not do well in my audition for the Chorus. I cannot read music, I was very nervous, and I was seriously wearing way too much make-up. Really. (see: Dallas) I was also at the absolute rock-bottom of my depression from being unemployed, so my self-confidence was somewhere at the bottom of a well. The following day I had a job interview, and after having a sad pity-party lunch with my (amazing) friend Pam, I got a phone call that went a little like this:

Chorus person: Hi, is this Summer? This is mmphhmm (sorry, I can't remember the name!) from the Seattle Women's Chorus.

Me: (preparing my rejection with dignity voice) Oh...hello mmphhmm...

Chorus person: Well I just wanted to call and tell you...welcome to the Chorus.


This was me in my head.

That went on for a little while. I don't think that person on the other end of the phone really understood what kind of impact their call was going to make that day. After six months of unemployment, endless interviews and job rejections, I really needed a win, and I got one. Finally.

After the elation of my acception into the chorus came a sudden onset of fear: I'm going to be in a room with up to 200 women. Women terrify me. Women are judgemental. Women are mean. Women say nasty things about each other and make new people feel like the elephant man. I was not looking forward to my first rehearsal.

Well, clearly I have been hanging out with the wrong women. I walked into rehearsal only to be greeted by 200 smiling faces and my Big Sister (Shannon, holla girl!). During rehearsal I was welcomed with applause, women introduced themselves to me, and I left feeling...weird. No way this could last. First rehearsal they're nice and after that, they'll give up on me. Weird thing: they never did.

Fast forward to the Chorus retreat at the end of January. I had a touch of social anxiety; staying in a hotel, far away from home, where I can't disappear into my laptop when social interaction gets too hard.

You know how some people have an animal spirit? This is mine.

Opening night was extremely fun. Rehearsal, karaoke, and drinks; but it was the next day really took me by surprise.

After a full day of rehearsal we got ready for an evening of festivities: first an awards banquet, followed by a talent show and dancing. The awards banquet is what really changed how I viewed these women. It wasn't best voice, or prettiest, or even Miss Congeniality: women who make a significant contribution either through volunteering in the chorus, or the community, were recognized. There was so much love being passed around. There wasn't a diva in the room. Nobody was saying "I should have won" or "I could have done it better". There was just mutual respect and admiration, and in that moment I realized I really wanted to know all of these women.

The rest of the evening was filled with a fantastic talent show, vodka, and dancing. I had another "A-ha moment" (thanks Oprah) while I was dancing. I should preface this with the fact that I am not a good dancer. I went to the Elaine Benes school of dancing.'s a little something like that...

What was really great about dancing with these women, is that I never felt judged. I was surrounded by women of all ages, from all walks of life, wiggling to I'm Sexy and I Know It. In that moment I felt more at ease with being myself than I have in years.

After going on retreat, attending several rehearsals, and singing in three phenomenal concerts with the women of the Seattle Women's Chorus, I have gotten to know so many exceptional women. These ladies are not only musically talented, but they are smart, driven, caring, hilarious, and fiercely devoted to their community. If I had arms big enough I would wrap them around all 200+ of them and give them a hug, and thank them for letting me sing with them; because when I do, my heart radiates with joy.

So there you have it. Women, especially the right women, are freaking awesome.

Friday, January 20, 2012

My unsolicited opinion on the 'S' word...

I can't drive off my street, so you're stuck with me. I'm watching Anderson Cooper, and the topic is teenage girls pledging their virginity to their fathers in a purity ball. While I feel that it's great that a young woman (or man) may want to wait, I wonder if instead of creating a stigma around sex (gasp! I said the 's' word!), it might be better for parents (yes parents, not teachers) to educate their kids on the realities of sex. My proposal: empower young people to approach sex responsibly and with respect, and if they should decide to have it, not treating them with shame.

Speaking of shame, if you want to see the results of a sexually repressed upbringing, see the movie Shame. (trailer below)

It's an excellent film and beautifully acted, and yes...there's a gigantic appearance in the beginning....gigantic...

Let me lay out the scenario: a young lady, around 16, is walked down the aisle by her father, wearing a beautiful white gown. In a ceremony she pledges her virginity to her father, promising she will save her virginity for her husband. In this they define themselves as remaining "pure". When Anderson asked these young ladies who committed their virginity to their fathers, "What if someone has sex before marriage?"; their answers were, they are "impure". Now that is where it all starts to go wrong for me. Creating a stigma around sex that having it without a spouse makes you impure is very unhealthy. It teaches kids it's okay to be judgemental, and to treat other people who do choose not to wait with shame. They have the idea that a person who has premarital sex is a morally ambiguous person. It actually calls to mind the young girl who posted a YouTube video about "slut shaming". (see below, it's worth watching)

Here's my final word on the subject: your body is your business. Not your dad and not your peers. Your own. If you choose to wait until you meet that special person to have sex, God bless. If you choose not to, God bless still and be smart and always use protection; not because sex is shameful, but because, as with everything we do in life, there is a risk and it's important to take precaution. That is all, I shall step off my Amazon box (who uses soap boxes anymore??).

I would genuinely like to hear others opinions on the subject. Am I full of crap? Is the purity movement full of crap? Is Anderson Cooper full of crap? Just a warning, if you say Anderson is full of crap, I will slap your wet mouth.

How can you not love this man?


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Small Town U.S.A.

When I was a young girl, studying geography in school, I remember the awe of how truly expansive America is. Our mainland is made up of forty-eight states, and two others elsewhere that we like to go to for vacations; the United States of America is 3.79 million square miles. Fifty states of different cultures, geographies, and personalities. However, on September 11, 2001, America became a small town that came together in shock and mourning.

At the time I was working for HQ Global Workplaces, and living in Castle Rock, Colorado. I had to go to work unusually early that morning, because I had to help set up an early meeting for some clients. I didn't have a car of my own at the time, so I borrowed my dad's car to drive to work, since he was taking the day off. I left home around 6:45 am, going through a checklist of what I needed to do when I got to work.

I always enjoyed listening to Dom and Jane in the morning, especially since my car ride to work averaged around an hour. I pulled out of the driveway and turned on the radio, and Dom's shaky voice announced that something has happened to one of the Twin Towers in New York City, possibly a plane had accidentally flown into it. I assumed it had to be some kind of horrible accident; who would purposely fly a plane into a building? My imagination played out a small single engine plane accidentally colliding into the top of a tower; not a passenger airline intentionally careening into the side of a national, and occupied, landmark.

I called my mother as I pulled out of our neighborhood, waking her up. I told her to turn on the news; something was happening in New York City with one of the Twin Towers. She woke up my father, telling him to turn on the news, admonished me for talking on the phone while driving, and said she would watch. I turned back on the radio, in time to hear Dom say a second plane had flown into the other tower. A wave of numb realization washed over me that this was no accident, and New York City was under attack. Suddenly, the world felt very small as I continued my drive, and all of the radio stations went to commercial for the next 15 minutes. I desperately searched stations as I continued my drive to work, searching for scraps of information. Finally I stopped on a local country station when I heard Bryant Gumble's voice as he described what he was watching unfold in New York. As I turned onto the street that lead me to my office I could see the Denver skyline, and a wave of fear came over me that it could happen anywhere.

Suddenly Bryant Gumble starting saying, "Oh my God...oh my God...", which caused me to stop my car in the middle of the, thankfully, empty road. "The Pentagon," he said in a disarming, shaky voice.  "The Pentagon has been attacked, it's on fire." At this point I started to cry, and shouted "What is happening?!", to nobody. A car came up behind me and honked. I drove onward into my building's parking lot, thinking, "If the center for our nations defense is under attack, where will it stop?"

I ran into work, assuming that all of my clients would be waiting for me in my lobby, expectantly wanting to get started on setting up their meeting. However there was nobody, and I went into the conference room where they were setting up, and they weren't planning on starting their meeting at all: they were trying to get the news on the conference room television. They asked me if I had heard what's going on, and through tears I told them the last I heard there was an explosion at the Pentagon, and both of the Twin Towers had planes fly into them. I still helped them set up their meeting, but their leader told me they probably won't get any work done that day.

The rest of my team started to arrive, and nobody was focused. We all went to our respective work stations, and started browsing websites for more news. I turned on the radio on my computer for more live news. Suddenly one of the people in the conference room came out and told me the first tower had collapsed. It was unreal; I told him that couldn't be true, it must have been the top of the tower; but I refreshed my news page and saw the new headline appeared. Suddenly, what was already impossible was possible, and my heart broke for all of the lives that were so unfairly being taken away. A newscaster announced on the radio that an average of 250,000 people, both employee's and visitor's, went through the towers a day. The thought that many lives were in danger was mortifying.

After about an hour my boss came out and announced that we were closing for the day, due to the fact nobody would be focused enough to get any work done. I recorded a message that due to the state of emergency, our center would be closed. I called my father and told him I was coming home, and my dad, who wasn't the touchy-feely-mushy kind of dad, had a lot of tenderness and concern in his voice, telling me to be careful driving home and that he loved me. That was when I felt it start: a nation that is usually very divided by our differences starting to come together in a spirit of unity and mourning.

I walked out to the parking lot, which faced Centennial Airport, and Denver International Airport just miles beyond that. The skies were typically busy with small and large planes, flying over the ever congested I-25. In this moment the world was still. No planes, hardly any cars, and rather peaceful.

My drive home I kept the radio off and just drove with the windows down. When I got home my family was crowded around the television, watching the chaos in New York being played over and over again. The collapsing of the towers were continuously being played, as if to convince everyone that this really was happening. I called a friend in New York whose husband worked in the WTC, and mercifully he was taking the day off, but he lost so many coworkers that worked on the 90th floor of Tower I. The entire day I spent glued to the television, absorbing the shock and awe of what was happening to our country.

The phenomenal thing that happened was that despite the size of our sprawling nation, America came together as a small town that day. A usually very divided congress standing on the stairs of the nation's capitol building singing "God Bless America". A record outpouring of blood donor's (including myself). The feeling of tremendous respect for the President as he addressed the nation that night, and for what he had to take on.

Everyone has a "Where was I?" story for major events that happened in the world. I remember the Challenger Shuttle explosion; Colorado Springs, after just coming home from kinder garden and seeing my mother crying in front of the television. I remember the start of Desert Storm; in Carolina Beach, watching the start of war unfolding on the news. I remember the Oklahoma City Bombing; coming home from school and watching the terror unfold on the news with my mother. I remember Columbine; standing in Clement Park outside of Columbine High School with my Arapahoe Community College classmates, watching students run for their lives. On September 11th, it felt like the start of a very typical day, that ended in changing the landscape of our nation. So today, on the 10th anniversary of what will hopefully be the most tragic thing that happened to our nation in my short lifetime, I remember not only the lives lost, but the time when America felt undivided.

Renoir once said, "The pain passes, but the beauty remains." I'd like to think that if there was any beauty born from that black day, a renewed sense of patriotism and love for our fellow man would be it.