Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Day of Silence

Believe it or not, bullying still occurs where you least expect it.
If you need resources after watching this video see below.

I am not going to be able to be silent on Friday. But I have been contributing today, tomorrow and all the days beyond to a world where silence is not necessary :) If you have questions or need some support, leave a comment or see below.

The number one resource that I am going to give you is GLSEN. They have chapters all over the U.S at least and can help you get what you need in terms of services, support, legal counsel.
And, if you are a parent or family member of someone who is gay or lesbian, you may want to check out PFLAG.
If you need resources elsewhere in the world, I'll help you look for them. Some are listed in my links, but not all.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Limits of Liberal American Politics

I went to hear Naomi Wolf last night to discuss her book, The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot. Wolf explains that fascists like Hitler and Pinochet applied ten steps to ensure their power, all of which the Bush Administration is implementing:

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
2. Create a gulag
3. Develop a thug caste
4. Set up an internal surveillance system
5. Harass citizens' groups
6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release
7. Target key individuals
8. Control the press
9. Dissent equals treason
10. Suspend the rule of law

Most of those whose politics lean leftward know this. I don't need to say much more. But what troubled me once again are the limits of liberal American politics. I did my best to filter through her incessant reference to our revered Founding Fathers. For self-serving economic reasons, a bunch of wealthy landowning men got together and created a political system that would allow them to be independent of the King of England. Call me a marxist-feminist and you've made my day.

But not everything made it through the cheesecloth. As early as her first point, Wolf touched on an issue that is very dear to me. She talked about how, unlike Americans, Israelis had real terrorists (i.e. Palestinians) to be afraid of. What a simplification. Yes, some Palestinians are terrorists and use violence. I do not support that. And yes, both Israeli and Palestinian citizens live under the constant threat of bombings. But the Israeli government uses an accepted violence with much more sophoticated warfare (made in the U.S.A.) to keep the Palestian people caged and is deliberatly breaking treaties by not so slowly building settlements on agreed upon Palestinian land. Israel can also severely affected the Lebanese infrastructure, economy, and stability and no one criticizes them. Their terrorism is condoned.

I barely heard anything else she said after that. Writing this, I had to look at this article in the Guardian to remember her points. I was just plain pissed and had that clinging "I am not going to let this go" feeling that I get when I feel that a group of people are considered expendable. It made me think of Senator Obama's speech from a few weeks ago where he talked about race in a way that Americans needed to hear, but also dismissed Israeli accountability in Middle East politics. I was fuming then too. It has become acceptable to criticize the war and the Bush Administration. Race and wedge issues still cause controversy but are at least talked about. A cloak of invisibility envelops any honest talk about Israel.

After Naomi Wolf spoke I myopically went around the theater looking for all of those that I knew were feeling the same way. My Palestinian friend V. was talking to someone and I completely interrupted them to discuss her omission. Later, I saw him talking to her. I cut in line, walked up, and was getting ready to tell her off. I was so angry. V. grabbed me by the shoulder and lead me away. "At least she just apologized for the injustice her people have caused my people, " he said. I would like that apology and acknowledgement to be made public. It is not enough to say it in a private one-on-one conversation. The woman has the power to make a difference.

A little later, a man who knew a colleague that I was standing with made some comment about how Ron Paul would restore our civil liberties. I let out all of my ire onto him and told him that Ron Paul could care less about women's rights. I didn't even say anything about gay rights. My colleague responded to him with much more diplomacy, "Ron Paul is great on civil liberties- for 50% of the population."

I am glad that V. grabbed my shoulder. After the incident with the Ron Paul supporter, I realized that my anger wasn't going to get me anywhere. Not getting so outwardly angry at least. I went home and read over some poems by the man that had opened for Ms. Wolf, Doren Robbins. I recommend him. He's very political but also can appreciate the small things in life. He can mix the beauty and incrediblenes of nature with the horrors of war and the struggles of economic refugees. I will close with one of my favorites:

Natural History

Tried to lift a swallowtail butterfly out of

a thick web, out of leg and wing fragments.
I think they were parts of moths and flies.
All the truncations, all the leaf chips,
dirty gauze strands, Chinese silver ash spores.
Held my thumb knuckle out for it to walk on.
That hesitating, that erotic clinging, that
flexing and trembling. At a garage window.
I forgot my tools inside the truck,
my work shoes by the pedals.
It came out on one thread. The window
behind the web was blank. Leather
insoles held the stained shapes of
my feet, those white swallows
pointing their beaks
at the underworld, pointing
at the carnivorous, pointing
and clinging. I was trying to lift it
through the leg and wing fragments
past the dry torso of a wasp.
Wrist bones secured with wire
in documentaries, fragmented
in my head. Mass grave photojournalism,
as usual quotas waiting for us,
incidental naturalism of our malice
documentaries went through my
interior gauze and webs. I was trying
to be steady. My hand close to the foot
below the wing, close to the breath
jumping on the rim of dirty strands.
To the antennae that looked moist,
to the remarkable fetal expression,
I held out my thumb knuckle.

Check out more of Doren Robbins' work at Pemmican Press.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I am going to Lebanon

Yahoo! I am going to Lebanon. I received notice this week that I was accepted to study Arabic and bought my ticket today. Studying Arabic can be seen as impractical. I don't even have much opportunity to use my French and Spanish. Why would I want to study Arabic? Oh, because I have always wanted to. In some ways, the language is a part of me. When I was in Lebanon two years ago, I would hear words and know what they meant even though I hadn't heard them in 20 years. And, when I would allow myself to rely on intuition rather than intellect, words would just come out. Plus, I love the writing and have made sure to never forget the alphabet despite the years.

On another level, I feel that language is a key to understanding. Spanish in particular has allowed me to communicate and share with people whose life situations are very different from my own. I carry their stories and share them whenever I can. Language leads to compassion. I live in a somewhat conservative, insular, and very anglo part of the United States. It wasn't always this way. We are surrounded by Native American reservations. But that's another story. When I tell people where I am going and what I am doing this summer, I expand their idea of what is possible. I have the opportunity to respond to a young person who says, "Isn't that Osama Bin Laden's language?" by explaining that alot of people just like him speak Arabic. Still a novel concept to some. I also have the opportunity to remind people that life is not necessarily about a nine to five job that you give your life to, waiting until you are retired to travel and enjoy.

Lebanon has always been a part of me that I won't let go of. No matter how far away it is in distance and memory, I have clung. I can't wait to see how my two months will impact me. I hope that writing will not only flow out of me but will be influenced by the language that I am relearning. It's a little scary writing this down. Doubt and the rational reminder of my impracticality take hold of my thoughts. Nonetheless, I am putting myself out there. I am flying into a touch of uncertainty and am creating my own life.

P.S. After posting this, I felt that I was a little harsh on nine to five jobs. After all, mine is paying for my not so cheap trip. The statement is all about me and my deep need for a break right now to reflect, explore, and express myself in whatever form arises.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Quotes and Creativity

mortar and pestle introduced me to a new book, Creating a Life Worth Living, by Carol Lloyd. It is just what I needed as I have been in a bit of a creative rut and questioning how my day job fuels my creativity. The author encourages readers to read and do the excercises in one chapter a week. I just finished the first chapter where she recommends that readers do a daily action at the same time every day, preferably in the morning. It should be an action that frees your mind and allows it to think whatever it wants to and to free your creativity all the while creating a sense of structure and discipline. My daily action is to do 15 minutes of unstructured yoga at 7:00 am every morning. I already slipped a little because I haven't yet done this today. I may amend my action requirements to be accomplished when I wake up on Sunday rather than specifically at 7:00.
The whole point of this post was to share a quote that I found in the book:
There is vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium. It will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.
-Martha Graham to Agnes De Mille

Saturday, April 12, 2008

From G.

Do not burn yourself out. Be as I am-a reluctant enthusiast... a part time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still there. So get out there and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains. Run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space.
-Edward Abbey

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Thank You

When I was in high school, I had a poster on my wall that was very similar to the one on the right. The image is powerful because it is true. If men were the ones getting pregnant do you think that our right to make and have access to reproductive choices would continually be threatened? The answer is a simple, "No."

This image is also powerful because it disrupts gender roles and binaries. I love disrupting those. The truth is that I never thought it would happen in my lifetime. But it has.

I have a great deal of respect for Thomas Beatie and his wife Nancy for taking on the challenge of having a child no matter how they have been treated by the medical community and the media. Their reasons are very simple and genuine: they want a child together. They are not having a child for the purpose of pushing boundaries, but thankfully they are. The photo below makes me cry; it is so beautiful, and historic. I want to soak it in, look at it so many times that it becomes completely normal and I would never again think of a pregnant man as nothing more than a dream.

I wish Thomas, Nancy, and their beautiful daughter the brightest of all todays and tomorrows. And I selfishly say, "Thank you."

Saturday, April 05, 2008

A. Papatya Bucak: A New Short Story

A. Papatya Bucak has a short story published in Pindeldyboz, Me, Then. I love her stream of consciousness writing, the way she repeats phrases in barely changed forms, and, most of all, her truthfulness.

Because though it may seem the worst has happened--someone has been killed--it wasn't the worst. Because it didn't happen to you, or your children, or your husband; it happened to someone you knew once when you were young and she was young, and who you hadn't spoken to in what will now be forever.

I like this because it is a reminder of how we tend to distance ourselves from horror and injustice, when we have the option, in order to survive.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Day 3: Prolonged

I promised more photos. I have been trying to make my weekend last as long as possible but the time has come to share Day 3.

The following are from Ecola State Park.

I bought a very similar postcard for one of my friends.

I loved the way the sunlight hit the waves in this one below.

One of the trails that we wanted to go on was closed.

Should I say, "I?" E. was being very accomodating despite a bad cold.

I loved this wacko tree. The wind can be so strong it is not unusual to see trees like this.

We tried a hike but between E.'s cold and the mud, we turned around. I did take a picture of the skunk cabbage and the mud before we turned back. The mud has sentimental value. It reminded me of the mud I had to squish through when I was in Guatemala. It's easy to be nostalgic when you have the option of taking a bath in a few short hours.

Because we had the foresight to turn around, we were able to discover a secluded beach before the rain started again. Isn't this seaweed super cool? It's an organic version of an Eva Hesse material!
After the walk, we ran across these sculptures by Angela Haseltine Pozzi. Love the use of fabric and their funkiness.