Maybe I spoke too harshly?

January 27, 2012

Ok, so in my last post, when I told the Year of the Dragon to “bring it,” I meant it as an affirmation of strength. Last year beat me down a lot and I was proud that I was able to get through it. So, I wanted to end with a statement that reflected that pride and that fortitude. What that was not intended to be, however, was a challenge. I wasn’t trying to goad 2012 into throwing all its got at me before we even enter February. And yet, here I am, at home recovering from both a really bad cough that I had been dealing with for a few weeks, but also rather debilitating food poisoning from eating a bad batch of Belgian fries on Wednesday. Now, I won’t name the place that I went to where I got the fries, because I have eaten there a bunch of times and I’m sure this is a one-off event. But even so, the result of that fateful lunch was me having to stagger out of my first class of the semester a good two hours early, barely able to stand, let alone make my way back home. Though make it back I did, but not before clearing out at least one subway car and one Metro-North car. In the future, if you ever see someone getting sick on a train, try to help them out, or at least show some compassion. It’s more than likely that person is incredibly ill like I was and unable to hold out until reaching a bathroom.

To say the food poisoning sucks is, I can very well imagine, an understatement. After I got home, I still dealt with stomach spasms at regular intervals until I was so drained (literally, I guess) that I could only pass out for a few hours at a time. The next day, though not so sick, I was still weak as a newborn kitten and hit with a bone-deep ache that I just couldn’t shake.

So yeah, I was trying to be strong, but please, don’t give me more than I can handle. I may have survived this time, but next time? I honestly can’t be too sure. I’ve spent two days at home away from work, but am only just now starting to really recover. Thank God it wasn’t any worse or I think I would have needed to go to the hospital.

In other news, I have started a new semester and I’m actually pretty happy with the new classes. Hopefully I won’t be so anxious all the time as I was last time. I’ll keep you posted on those when I actually get to sit through a class all the way through.

New year, bring it! But…not too much.

I know I’ve been a bad blogger. I let real life get in the way of things and I forgot about this place and the voice I have here. But this has been on my mind for a little while and not for the first time I am glad to have a chance to let out my thoughts on what is going on in my city.

The Occupy Wall Street protest has been going on for a couple of weeks now and I feel it has captured everyone’s attention. Both for its passion and incoherence, it is a symbol of the general discontent of the people. The problem is, there is so much to be unhappy about, that there is no single cause to fight for, no one symbol to hold on to. So more people swarm to Lower Manhattan and it only seems to get worse and more unwieldy as time goes by.

Now here’s the thing: I look at this ever-unfolding event and I can sympathize with both sides of what has been going on. Don’t hate me for saying this: but I do get what the police are going through. Hear me out before you throw rocks! The police force is only meant to take care of the people of New York in a certain way. They are dispersed throughout borough and they are set up as check points in certain subway hubs such as Grand Central and they generally just keep an eye on things. When there is a big event like a parade or the president is in town (or Lady Gaga), they are generally apprised of it far in advance so that they can mobilize in an orderly fashion and try to keep the peace without people getting hurt. Are the police a perfect group of men and women? Of course not! As a petite woman (I’m 5’2″) who is relatively soft and fragile, I always feel a little safer when I see the blue and the badge. But I have also seen the uniform hold a lot of assholes who abuse these symbols to hurt others. But there are also good people involved like in any other group. But you put all of these officers in a situation that becomes rapidly out of their control and you lose that fiercely trained force and instead get a bunch of nervous, frustrated people with guns. This can never bode well for anyone. Occupy Wall Street was never meant to get as big as it was. That’s why it’s getting so much attention. And that is why the police are acting like rabid teenagers. This goes beyond much of anything they’ve trained for.

And the main reason for their behavior that I can think of is this: no one really protests anymore. Oh, we get those in Union Square about the Civil Right of the Week, but those never really extend beyond the park. Small gatherings of like-minded people venting and hoping to be heard. These are nothing like the grand sit-ins and marches of the 1960s. It was a time for revolution and the world did indeed turn, as it always does. But after that, people settled. Gay rights got in a good turn and they eventually got some of the changes they were after. But the apathetic 80s turned into the “alternative” 90s, where people would rather listen to a band rock out about riots rather than get involved with them. This is how I grew up. Things were fine, things were swell, so why rock the boat? A friend emailed me recently because he had a dream that I went down to Wall Street and I got pepper-sprayed and arrested. He wanted to make sure I wasn’t going down there as his dream really made him nervous. My response was immediately, “…no, of course not. I don’t protest.” And it’s true. I donate, I speak out, and I sign petitions, but I don’t think you’ll ever see me holding a sign and yelling. I like when other people do, but it’s not my style. I hate crowds, I don’t like to yell, and I get tired easily. It sounds terrible, but it’s true. And I almost always believe someone gets hurt at those things.

Which is why while I do understand why the police are acting this way, I in no way condone it. It sort of baffles me when I think that this once peaceful protest is now devolving into groundless violence. I just don’t get it. Why Tony Baloney (thank you Jon Stewart, I will never consider Anthony Bologna anything else) had to mace a couple of women who were already detained, I can’t fathom. The country watches with horror (or if you’re one of those “Crazy Conservatives,” with some satisfaction) as the police take down the protesters with seemingly unnecessary force. Do they need to choke, punch, or rip at these poor people? No, I doubt that. Because the protesters, who are calling themselves the 99%, are tired, broke and tired of being broke. Things aren’t changing, so the population has decided to do it on their own. But as I said before, there is too much to be angry about. So what started as a peaceful gathering is morphing into a mass of incoherence because they don’t know what to talk about first.

I am not by any stretch of the imagination in a bad financial situation. I’m not. But, I have lived in times when I could have been homeless and I have lived through times that meant sacrificing anything to get by. So I do understand the aggravation of the unemployed, the wanderers, and the broken. All I hope is that they can unify under something. Anything. As long as it moves them forward. Because until then, they will just be a mass to be dealt with and the police will just keep regressing further into violence. And I don’t know if the world can turn again on that.

For now, I suppose I’ll keep watching and trying to piece together what is happening. Maybe then I, and whoever else is confused, can begin to really comprehend the whole thing. And this is important because when even the casual observer can take a side, then that is when changes can be made.

To be above all that anger is the first step of true revolution.

This post was inspired by the following video. It was posted on another New School classmate’s Facebook page. As I watched it, I realized how little I understand what has been going on around me not two subways stops away. Maybe if you watch this, you can explain it to me. And then we can all understand.

3 Things.

February 15, 2011

3 things that made me happy yesterday: the sun, honeysuckle, and hearts.

Not to get all soppy, but I honestly couldn’t imagine a better Valentine’s Day than the one we just experienced. It had not much to do with love (though I did get some very sweet texts from my honey), but the gorgeous weather. I’ve been itching for spring since summer ended. I don’t mind winter, except when it takes forever to transition back into spring, then it pisses me off. Yesterday, though, was a preview of what I hope is to come. I got to spend my lunch break with the lovely Steff, which made my day quite thoroughly. Nothing like catching up with a friend in the park to lift your spirits. But besides being absolutely glorious on Monday, I noticed something: the sun was still out at 5pm when I left the office. Utterly amazing, I could still feel the warmth on my face. I think I can deal with just about any temperature, as long as there is light. Soon, my lovelies, soon we shall have the beautiful weather again. I’m counting the seconds.

To make things even more wonderful, I found a fantastic perfume that I’ve become obsessed with. Demeter, a fragrance company, specializes in making scents that you wouldn’t normally find on the shelves. Stuff like “Laundromat” or “Grass,” this is for someone who wants to smell fresh and clean. They do have some floral and fruity scents, but to me nothing compared to their honeysuckle. It didn’t smell like artificial honeysuckle, it smelled like I was right next to the plant itself. I don’t know how long I stood in that Duane Reade just sniffing the bottle. Will definitely get it for myself ASAP, it’s a must have. I honestly think that if love had a scent, it would smell like honeysuckle.

Whether it’s Valentine’s or not, I love hearts. Very girly, I know, but it’s true. Nothing brightens me up more than seeing hearts or stars wherever I go. So, even if I’m in the middle of singledom, Valentine’s Day never bugged me. It indulged my love of hearts with no reprisal. I figured since my last blog was all gross pictures (had to be done, I make no apologies, and really, the subject was interesting), I’d post something a bit more pleasant. Sunday I went through my weekly ritual of a self-manicure. I work all week and I go to class on Saturdays, so Sunday is really the only time I can be frivolous, when I can sleep late, watch tons of crap television and, yes, pamper myself a little. Though this was not so much pampering as it was three hours of intense nail care. But the effect, in the end, was worth it, I think:

2011-02-14_08-56-11_751

What do you think?

Recently, I had to read a book by a very smart woman by the name of Susan Sontag. Passionate about her work as a photographer and empathetic to the people around, she felt compelled to write  Regarding the Pain of Others, a series of arguments explaining that, while photo images of war atrocities bring to life the horrors of war, they need to be coupled with compassion. Without at least some interest in humanity, these pictures are just a vague reminder of the terrible things going on in the world. With everything that has been going on in Egypt, it seems like more pictures have been coming out of that country more than ever. The question is, does any of this penetrate the fog that the United States seemed to have wrapped themselves in? We try so hard to keep apprised of the goings-on in the world, but it always looks as though there is too much being thrown at us and therefore we become too desensitized. It gets to the point when I wonder if graphic images even work the way they’re supposed to, if they ever did. The only thing I can think of is how grateful I am that not the protests in Egypt were not as violent as they could have been.

I was asked to compare two photographs, one as mentioned in Sontag’s book (someone needs to add pictures to the next edition) and one from the Egyptian protests. The following can be rather graphic, so I warn you now.

WARNING: there is a graphic image after the jump!