Friday, June 12, 2009

Dandelion Seeds

I haven't written in a few weeks. That darn Facebook sure is a time sucker. Plus, I've been living and thinking. Lots of hard thinking.

I drove three hours each way to see Adrienne Rich a few weeks ago. I went with a woman that I have known for five years that at first I considered a young person that I indirectly worked with through my job and now see as a colleague and fellow feminist and literature enthusiast. She is walking and receiving her MFA in Creative Writing tomorrow.



Seeing Adrienne Rich was not what I had expected. I thought that she'd be tough and that I would feel totally inadequate as a lesbian and as a feminist. Like I hadn't done enough. Wasn't radical enough. That dreaded inner "enough." Instead I remember her calmness and appreciation for what is, all the while still challenging and questioning. I hope this is where I am at 80 years old.

My own questioning and challenging involved a temporary position that I sent on to as many people as possible. In this economy, I want to make sure people know about the few opportunities that exist. But, I couldn't just send that job description on and hit "delete." I reread it and sent out a little hint to the director that I thought it was a great position and would love it myself if only... To her credit, she responded and I will now be going back to another field that means the world to me, domestic violence work. Add an LGBTQ component and the fact that it is temporary and can therefore end when I start my PhD and the position is perfect! As if the stars aligned to make this opportunity appear for me. It's a drive away and I will need to spend a few nights away from my sweetheart but I already have friends willing to let me sleep on their futon until I figure this all out.

I am listening to my heart again. And there are wonderful people in this world that want to see a better world. I meet them every day.



These dandelions fit for me. They are considered obtrusive but they are really quite the opposite. They "nourish" as my neighbor said recently. The round globes of seeds have now dispersed for the year, settling into cracks in lawns. Some people will spray something on them next year when they flower. Then they will die. Other people will let them go to seed and spread once again. I love dandelions and can relate to them even though I still do not know quite why.


I am leaving an empty chair at work and that scares me. But my style has always been to make mutual decisions with those that I supervise and to share everything that is important for us to contribute as much as we can to the community. Whether or not I have been a model director, I don't know. I know that I have made a small contribution to the young people of my community and have followed a mission that believes that everyone has the right to make decisions for themselves. I stand true to that mission even as I prepare for my departure. Women need to make decisions for themselves and no government or ideology should stand in their way (Bless you Dr. Tiller.) I will continue to believe this as I prepare for my next challenge.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My Eyeball

I had a strange dream last night. I was injecting liquid into my right eye with a small funnel. Part of the funnel was supposed to gently sit on top of the eyeball. I discovered that my funnel had pierced the surface. And so, I started to pull it out. This is when I learned that it actually had pierced through my entire eyeball. While in my numb dreamlike state, I heard sound effects as I pulled it out equal to those in a cheesy horror film. I then proceeded through my dream experiences with my one eye closed. No one really noticed that I had done anything to my eye and I was questioning the severity of my situation. I could still see out of the eye when I chose to but it ached.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

May

I am just plain happy that decent weather is finally here.






Thursday, April 30, 2009

Procrastination Methods

I am going to start sharing additional procrastination methods as a further procrastination strategy. It is my hope that in so doing I will get so bored with procrastinating that I will actually get to work!

1. Google the author of a book you have recently enjoyed, find his/her facebook page and write them a message. The book in question is the graphic novel Arab in America by Toufic El Rassi, a Beirut-born American. Excellent. Haven't heard back from Toufic yet :)



2. Take photographs of the dandelions in your lawn and get yourself totally pissed off that people would actually have the gall to poison their lawn and kill them. How sad for them and the dandelions. What is so awful about dandelions?


3. Besides checking facebook and updating my status way too many times a day, I have been working so I have no more procrastination ideas to share. I imagine there will be more to come. Or, if you the reader have any that you would like to share...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Political Consumption in a Bottle



To continue with with my procrastination maneuvers, I am going to share the bottled water that I discovered yesterday. The company is Okanogan Highlands Bottling Company which sells bottled water with different labels on it so that your water consumption can have a political message to it. According to the website, the label and the owner, the water bottling company started in 1998 as a response to the cyanide leach gold mining that was taking place in Okanagon County in Northeast Washington State. The idea was that "water is more precious than gold." An extra twist is that after you consume the precious cyanide-free water that was actually bottled in Oregon not Washington, you can send a message in a bottle to your favorite representative in the other Washington, D.C. The website shows you step by step how you can drink your water down to the last drop, write a message, roll it up, put it inside the bottle, place stamps and mailing labels and send. According to the label, purchasing this water is POLITICAL ACTION. By buying bottled water you are helping ensure clean water, according to the branding.
Starting in 2003, consumers were also able participate in the peace process and send a personal bottled message to the President of the United States. The description of this product on the website is just beautiful:

Much care was taken in designing the Water for Peace label. We learned from developing the Water More Precious Than Gold label that words are powerful. Dr. Masaru Emoto of Japan describes in his book Messages From Water how water responds to that which surrounds it. By photographing the crystalline structure of frozen water, Dr. Emoto demonstrated how music, words, pictures, and intention actually changed the quality of the water inside the container. Positive words on the label create "high vibration water" within the bottle. We decided to create a totally positive, inspirational and beautiful water label to enhance the already delicious spring water we are using.


The "Si se puede!" water was launched in December of 2007 and supports reforming current "immoral immigration procedures." If the purchase is in Washington State, one dollar from each case of water will be donated to Washington Community Action Network (CAN!) Washington CAN!, a statewide, grassroots lobbying organization that works on immigration among other issues.

I am torn. I love the creativity and good intentions behind the water bottling effort. I also appreciate the call to political action through the letter writing. But as a friend on facebook explained, "There has got to be a better way to spread messages than selling cheap goods." I agree. I met the owner at the World Rhythm Festival and expressed my concerns. He said that he looked into using bottles made out of corn but that the corn used in these bottles was genetically modified. Sometimes he wonders if he should just give up. I shrugged. I didn't have an answer to that. He may be encouraging others to be more politically active, or not.






I have been asking myself how the political efforts of the Okanogan Highlands Bottling Company differ from the Ethos Water campaign. For each bottle of water purchased, Ethos Water, which is owned by Starbuck's, will donate $ 0.05 to their goal of providing $10 million in humanitarian water relief efforts throughout the world by 2010. What bugs me so much about the Ethos Water campaign is that the privatization of water is one of the reasons there are water shortages throughout the globe. Buying a commodity that should be available to all but has been privatized in order to provide water to those whose water has been usurped is hypocritical. Water is a right, not a commodity.


We live in a consumer culture and we all navigate within it. But marketing commodities as a means of creating political and social change makes me very uncomfortable. While the Okanogan Highlands Bottling Company may ask the consumer to write a letter after buying and drinking the water, the route is circuitous. Consumers don't need to buy bottled water to write a letter or donate money to Washington CAN. They may even be able to donate more than $1 per case. This type of consumption is passive and perhaps even cowardly. And I am not even discussing the waste. I will leave that to Chris Jordan:


Plastic Bottles, 200760x120" Depicts two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the US every five minutes.

Partial Zoom

Detail at Actual Size

Clicking Away







I am in Seattle for the World Rhythm Festival. While I do not have any musical ability, my sweetie does. So while she drums, I have been trying to work on a paper. I say trying because I have managed to do everything but. It's been a really lousy few weeks and just getting away and being in a city for the weekend is so much fun. We took a bus ride to Ballard to have Oaxacan food and found myself clicking away. I often wander over to tiny red's blog and wonder why her images are so much more colorful than mine. I have decided that the urbanscape has something to do with it. My photos at home are beautiful in their own way. They usually suggest space and isolation with spare color just like the landscape.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Visitor

I saw The Visitor last night. It's a good movie, very sad. I'm still struggling with how it ended. It painted a realistic depiction of my country's flawed immigration policy. At first I thought the film was reaffirming U.S. exceptionalism, but now I think not. It got me questioning whether the U.S. is really such a wonderful place to live for immigrants as well as for those born here. A happy Statue of Liberty moment contrasts with a giant U.S. flag at the airport.



Further thoughts on the film posted a bit later in the day:

I can't get the main character, Walter, out of my head. He is a financially successful tenured white male professor at what appears to be a prestigious university in Connecticut. Walter has been in a funk for the past 20 years. He is forced to attend a conference on his supposed specialty, globalization and the "third world." Everyone at the conference looks just like him- a statement on who makes world economic policies. At first I resented the fact that the film focuses on Walter. Tarek has a much more important story, in my opinion. However, the more I think about it, it makes sense. Walter, like many in this country, are living in a numb stupor and are politically disconnected from others in the U.S. and in the rest of the world. Walter is the perfect metaphor for what many including Marita Sturken in Tourists of History: Memory, Kitsch and Consumerism from Oklahoma City to Ground Zero would call, apolitical and disengaged innocence. I'll have to write about Sturken's book at some other point. The book is excellent.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

"Unedited"

I haven't been doing any real writing on here in awhile. I am not even sure what my readership is anymore. My life has been wonderfully busy with my work, my class, my girlfriend, and my cats. I put the "wonderfully" in here, which surprises me, because I have also been a bit stressed trying to balance all of these aspects of my life, especially school. Jumping into a class with a bunch of PhD seekers has been challenging but also very energizing as, so far, I have been keeeping up!

This renewed sense of self may have had an influence on me and therefore may have indirectly contributed to the wonderful words that a coworker said to me the other day. She said that I have an "unedited voice." I was surprised because alot of editing occurs before I speak, including at (perhaps even, especially at) work. I called her on that fact and she acknowledged my very honest attempts at diplomacy. "Perhaps I should say "your brave voice, that will say what it believes no matter the consequences," she added. OK. I'll take that.

I hope that is true. There are days when I worry I have turned into the mainstream commodity consuming and paper pushing bureaucrat that I criticized during my youthful years.

I will keep speaking what some consider "unedited" and what for me is just what needs to be said. I also encourage you to do the same.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Way to Go!!

Congratulations to Helem are in order for being the 2009 recipient of the Felipe de Souza Award given by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) for their work on LGBTI rights in Lebanon. Helem was the first LGBTI organization in the Middle East and they have been working hard to ensure human rights for LGBTI friends in Lebanon. Thanks Helem for your hard work and thanks IGLHRC for recognizing it!!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Closed Zone

The animator of Waltz with Bashir made this smart video Closed Zone with Gisha, the Legal Center for Feedom of Movement. It has been sent to me by friends on facebook and has also been posted on friends' websites. This last time I saw it at Modern Mitzvot. Just in case you haven't seen it, I thought I'd share. Now its time for me to get off the internet and read one hundred pages.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Letting it right in

The weather has been improving over here in the Inland Northwest. I put my books down and decided to try a trail I hadn't experienced before. The part that I was on was an old railroad track. Not only was it flat, but it also ran alongside the highway. I still managed to take some photos. Instead of trying to keep "civilization" out though, I decided to let it right in.









Monday, March 16, 2009

Waltz with Bashir

I finally got to see Waltz with Bashir last night. I don't think a film has ever made me cry so much before. Seeing that I left Lebanon a few months before the events on which the movie is based took place, the film is very personal to me. And, I had my own personal trauma that occurred right around that time too with my mother having a severe stroke our final weeks in Lebanon. So, it is a charged time and topic for me. As for many others, Israelis, Lebanese, Palestinians, and Americans alike.

The film is not for the faint hearted. It looks at the bloody massacres at the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps head on. Blaming the Phalangists for this horror, as well they should, but not ridding the Israeli Defense Forces of complicity. I am almost positive that the narrator and main character, the film maker Ari Folman, called himself and others Nazis. From an Israeli whose parents were in Auschwitz, could there be words that are stronger?

This is how peace will be made possible in Israel and Palestine. When Israelis can stand up and show how the wars they have fought have affected them. When they say they will support no more. I just hope we don't have to wait another twenty years like Ari Folman has before remembering. I also hope that we all have the same amount of courage as Ari Folman and admit our own complicity to allow such genocide to continue in Lebanon and in Gaza.

For more information and historical background go to http://waltzwithbashir.com/film.html

Monday, March 09, 2009

My Prom Dress


Here's a happier image after the barbed hula. I finally wore the dress I have wanted to wear for years to our community's ProChoice Prom. Apparently, garbage bags are 80's punk. I had no idea.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Barbed Hula

I wish I had seen this show by the Israeli artist Sigalit Landau at the MOMA in NYC last year. This piece is particularly powerful.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Creating Beauty out of our Waste

I am really loving Jean Shin's work. Once again, I am finding art that relates to my class on consumption. Thanks to dear ada for sharing.

I now need to finish reading Latinos, Inc.: The Marketing and Making of People by Arlene Davila. Hope you are having a wonderful day!








Monday, February 09, 2009

Cronies in the Boardroom Music Video

After consuming my latest batch of readings on consumption, this made me laugh. I love the Reverend Billy's responses to this crazy world we live in.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Is Peace out of Reach?

This was a part of last Sunday's 60 Minutes show which I finally was able to watch. It is incredible that such an honest protrayal of the situation in the West Bank was aired on mainstream TV. It clearly argues that a two state solution is no longer viable. Now, people have to wrap their thoughts around a one-state solution.



Please let CBS know how much you appreciate this unbiased journalism. They need to hear from people right now.

- You can email directly to 60m@cbsnews.com and to audsvcs@cbs.com to thank them for their courage and to encourage more of the same.

- You can register on the article page and send comments

- You can scroll to the bottom of the article and choose "Contact Us".

- You can write to them at

60 Minutes
524 West 57th St.
New York, NY
10019

- you can phone them at (212) 975-3247

This is what I wrote:

Thank you Bob Simon and all at CBS for airing the segment "Is Peace out of Reach?" last week. I don't think that most people in the United States had any idea about the complexity of the situation at this point due to the settlements. The more that I read, the more that I think that a one-state solution is the only viable one. A one-state solution where the country is a peaceful and just democracy for both Palestinians and Israelis alike. I would love to see more coverage regarding a one-state solution. This will start replacing the image that most Americans have of division and conflict in the region with one of compassion, understanding, and hope.

May there be peace in Palestine and Israel.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

E. Pluribus Unum

As my blog is about human idiocy as well as its amazing creativity, I thought Chris Jordan's work is especially fitting. He currently has a show at the Washington State University Museum of Art that I hope to see. This piece is E. Pluribus Unum and includes the name of one million organizations in the world that are dedicated to peace. With so many, don't you think we humans can get there? I hope so.





For more detail about this piece as well as his other works dealing mostly with consumption and waste, see his website.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Freedom Theatre

Here is a wonderful example of art's transformative power.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Searching for Naomi Shihab Nye

and this is what I found.




For Mohammed Zeid of Gaza, Age 15
by Naomi Shihab Nye

There is no stray bullet, sirs.
No bullet like a worried cat
crouching under a bush,
no half-hairless puppy
bullet dodging midnight streets.
The bullet could not be a pecan
plunking the tin roof, not hardly,
no fluff of pollen
on October's breath,
no humble pebble in the street.

So don't gentle it, please.

We live among stray thoughts,
tasks abandoned midstream.
Our fickle hearts are fat
with stray devotions, we feel at home
among bits and pieces,
all the wandering ways of words.

But this bullet had no innocence, did not
wish anyone well, you can't tell us otherwise
by naming it mildly, this bullet was never the friend
of life, should not be granted immunity
by soft saying - friendly fire, straying death-eye
why have we given the wrong weight to what we do?

Mohammed, Mohammed deserves the truth.
this bullet had no secret happy hopes,
it was not singing to itself with eyes closed
under the bridge.

Monday, January 12, 2009

It is a bit early for me to post. Yesterday's was very important for me and I wanted it to simmer in people's minds and in my own more. I have been struggling with truly feeling what is going on in Gaza. For some reason, I feel like a factual account or sharing an article is going to impact people so much more than emotions. But I know better. I have lived through 8 years of the Bush Administration, 9/11, and now the "Yes We can Hope!" President-Elect after all. Emotions are key. The wedge, as a dear former professor of mine would say. In this case, the wedge is EMOTION. And so, I will share some of the outrage and expression that the world is feeling. It is pure in its raw sincerity.



From ei: World Demonstrates for Gaza Part 1 and Part 2
New Orleans, Caracas, Beirut, Bethlehem, Houston, Kansas City, Kuala Lumpur, NYC, Paris, and Seattle. There were so many more. People from all over our dear Earth have been showing their outrage and their humanity. Yes, they get it and they care.
And, I am saving the best for last. A Western song a dear new friend from Jordan sent to me. She is one of few Arabs in my part of the United States surrounded by rolling hills of wheat and misinformation. I share with her a deep sorrow.

We will not go down in Gaza tonight without a fight. That "we" includes you. Please, please respond. E-mail, write, shout, and if you need encouragement or direction just let me know... Our humanity is at stake.