Same Song, Second Verse

January 20, 2012

2011 was, I think, the year that tried to break me. In all my admittedly short life, I have never worked so hard or cried so much. From the moment the clock struck midnight on January 1st until December 31st at 11:59pm, I endured more than I ever had before.

None of this I say to garner sympathy, but to explain. Between work & school, I was under a mound of responsibility that threatened to never lessen. And it still hasn’t. But I learned something very important about myself. I may cry, I may scream, I may throw the tantrum to end all tantrums and I can safely say I’ve done all those things. But never once did I stop or call it quits. Knowing that I was strong enough has been an empowering epiphany. And for anyone going through hard times, remember that you can do it, too. That no hardship is insurmountable. And that no matter how bad things get, others have it worse. It sounds like a “duh” moment, but I think we forget. So let this serve as a reminder.

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The Year of the Tiger is done for. Year of the Dragon? Bring it.

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.

Hi guys!

So, like, normally don’t do the blogging thing as that involves, you know, typing. These nails are not meant for the keyboard! But today, I really thought hard about it and I thought it would be a good idea to talk about what’s been going on in the news and stuff. Yes, I have totally been watching it! Well, I’ve been reading my Cosmo mags while Norma was watching it. And I heard that guy with the hat, the Libya guy, is running away because the soldiers have him cornered. Or something like that anyway. I just wanted to say, that I am totally UNsurprised. Like, seriously!

If he had decided to get into my program, Daff’s Complete Dictate-Over, he never would have been in so much trouble! Instead, he would still be in his evil seat of power, or whatever, and his outfits would match and he’d be wearing MUCH cooler hats. And what’s going on now? The NATO people are bombing his compound, he’s no where to be found, and his son is back, not that that’s doing much good. …What? I listen to Anderson Cooper. Anyone who wears Prada like that has my attention!

So, like, when I get a phone number, you should totally call me and I can make you a merciless, supreme ruler! Or at least show you which shoes go with your complexion. Get Dictate-Overed!

🙂 😉 xoxoxo
Daff ❤

daff!

When I started working at the Company-that-Must-Not-Be-Named, I went through a lot of changes, physically and mentally. This is to be expected, considering this was my first job in the Real World, away from academia and without all of my friends and comforts surrounding me. When a year later I was looking in the mirror and seeing someone completely new, I wasn’t all that surprised. Some of these changes were rather subtle, like my mood when it went from relatively happy-go-lucky to extremely-short-fuse. Or my change in weight, when I just kept losing more and more. This would be a good thing if it were due to diet and exercise rather than lack of sleep, stress, and not eating. Even my memory, once able to hold on to thousands of mundane, daily facts, now barely able to remember what happened yesterday. But these changes, while vast in scope, were slow in speed. I didn’t know I was embittered by insomnia and hellish morning commutes until I was already snapping at people for ridiculous things. And I didn’t know about the physical changes until I realized I really needed a belt for my regular pants. Nor did I realize just how much I was forgetting until my boss started asking me questions about work I’ve done that I could never recall actually doing.

What I did notice quite immediately, however, was a certain listlessness towards all things creative. I used to write. A lot. Most of my stories never got to see an ending, but I was able to crank out pages upon pages of prose and dialogue, all leading to something vastly important, if only I could figure out what that could be. I never considered myself to be particularly good. Ok, when I did get to present my work, it was to a group of writers who always had something good to say, even as they gave me constructive criticism. But while that was all well and nice, I never thought of my writing to be any better than any others, except for one or two students who still had a lot to learn yet. The act of storytelling for me was never borne out of some misplaced sense of my own importance, but almost out of a physical need for release. The pressure of words and characters and conflict building up inside me until one night, usually in the wee hours of the morning, when I would sit at my computer and type them all out until all that was left was a feeling of satiation. It was a rush that I always found somewhat erotic, only without the sexual component. I loved that feeling, craved it, wanted more and there was never enough for me.

Becoming a sales assistant at the Company-that-Must-Not-Be-Named earmarked for me an extended period of creative frigidity, or impotence. I couldn’t get it up, so to speak, to finish even a short, 1000-word story. And yes, I’m done with the sex metaphor. I wasn’t doing anything at all, just coming into work, staring at an Excel spreadsheet (I know, the horror of it all), and then fighting the rush-hour commuters until I got home long enough to shower and pass out by 10pm. Occasionally, I would throw on a television show I had already watched, or some music, so I could have the sound to keep me awake during the day. I was not a good person to be around, snappish at one moment, sluggish the next. It had gotten to the point that my best friend Heather sat me down and told me, with no less tact than is her usual way, that I am stagnating where I am and it’s making my brain dribble out of my ears. I think I already knew that, hell I’ve been seeing a stress counselor once a week for almost a year, but hearing those words really brought it home. And the worst part was: knowing didn’t make it better. I couldn’t find a solution to the problem.

That year, which I believe was 2009, the holidays approached faster than I was expecting. Without any ideas on what to get those I love most in the world, I turned to something new: crafts. I sewed (badly), and made jewelry (not as badly) and people enjoyed their gifts. I found I had a knack for figuring out designs for necklaces and the more I learned the more I wanted to try. In a way, I got my mojo back, though it was displaced to a different medium. Later the next year I signed up for grad school and began life again as a full time worker/student in the Media Studies program at The New School. This past semester I actually did a little writing in the form of half-assed scripts for class projects as well as this blog, and the weight in my chest grew lighter. I got into horribly girly things like fashion and while it was more superficial, it became yet another way to express myself. One romantic relationship ended and I began another one a few months thereafter with someone who tries to cultivate my creativity. I was becoming a person again, not just a flat shadow in front of a computer screen.

Things aren’t perfect, no. I still slip back into my old, two-dimensional ways, and things haven’t gotten 100% better. But it’s a start and the best part? I’m starting to feel that build up again, of characters and places. Scenes are beginning to form with a clarity that mimics reality for me. There are so many stories I could tell and so very little time to tell them. I just hope I can bring myself back to that place of perfect release. Which, I suppose, is why I’m writing this post. To prove that I could actually finish something for once and that I can push those words through like I used to. It looks like I can. Hopefully that’s a good sign.

Though I’m holding off on the afterglow. I am at work, after all, and there is a time and place for such things.

I <3 New York?

May 10, 2011

So, I am a born and raised New Yorker, a hardcore (though I don’t seem it) Bronxbaby. I’ve seen a lot of things in my life and will probably see a lot more. I love my city and anyone who has anything really bad to say about it will probably have to deal with a chewing out from me. Yes, yes, I know the very thought is frightening.

There are days, though, when I wonder if I’ve become too much of a city girl. When my boyfriend derides the attitude of drivers (and let’s face it: pedestrians) and their sense of entitlement and while I do sympathize, part of me thinks the only way to survive sometimes is to assimilate. Become tough, give back as good as you get. This is not really the answer, though, but it does help with the strain sometimes. And being able to yell at someone who cuts you off, and I’m talking about walking through the subway tunnels, is great for stress relief.

Then stuff like what happened to me this morning occurs and I wonder: am I too far gone? Ok, so, here’s the thing: it was nearly 8:30 this morning and I was walking to work at the Company-That-Must-Not-Be-Named. On nice days like today, I like to take the local train to Canal Street and walk the last couple of blocks. When you’re locked in a windowless office for most of the day, you take as much sun as you can, when you can. I had the walk sign, so I was crossing the street, bopping along to Lady Gaga, enjoying the energy that the high intensity beat and my super-strong, chocolate-laced coffee affords me. That’s when I turn my head to keep an eye on the cars. Hey, it may be a red light, but you never know during rush hour. Waiting at the crosswalk was this man wearing a baseball cap in a dark green car. The moment our eyes locked he mouthed the word “whore” at me, an ugly expression on his face. Like a mixture of disgust and hatred. It was definitely the strangest thing that has happened to me, and most especially the strangest thing that’s happened in the early hours of the morning. I said nothing, my eyes slid away, and I kept walking, nothing in my posture or stride conveying that I was bothered, upset, or scared by this man. And this is the way you need to handle people like that. Do not engage, do not escalate. Otherwise, who knows what might have happened? He could have been some nutjob out to run the first person who said something to him over with his car. But that’s not really what makes this such a strange situation.

What’s strange is that I wasn’t pretending I wasn’t bothered. I actually wasn’t bothered.

And this is so incredibly odd to me. Maybe I’m over-thinking this. In fact, I probably am. But you’d think I would have at least gotten a little flustered after I had crossed the street, right? But, no nothing. And two hours later, I still don’t feel anything more than just mild curiosity and befuddlement at my own lack of reaction. By rights, I should at least be a little angry. Not all out upset, because people are idiots, this is an established fact. But some sort of feminist annoyance at the whole thing. So what if my skirt is a little short today? Or if I’m dressed a little less conservatively than normal? That gives no one the right to call me a “whore.” I get upset if my friends call me those kinds of names as a joke. I find nothing funny about it. And yet when this total stranger passes judgment on me and spews hate in my direction, I shrug it off like it was nothing. And it was nothing, but it was still shocking. So why am I not shocked? Why am I not at least surprised by this type of vile behavior?

Have I become so used to random misogyny that it doesn’t even register anymore? I mean, it’s New York, women have been harassed in some way or another. I’ve been hit on, I’ve been ogled, I’ve even been touched inappropriately, none of this is entirely new to me. But that doesn’t mean I should be so used to it that I don’t even care anymore. When it gets to that point, I think it’s time to reevaluate the way I think. And it makes me wonder if there are other women out there who have been so exposed to casual cruelty that it doesn’t even register anymore. It makes me wonder: what will need to happen to make being called a whore an insult again?

The assignment this week is to start putting together designs and framing for a website that we are going to create. As I said in my last, rather confused post, I have made websites in the past. Poorly, but still. A for effort? Anyway, the fact is, I have made them before and while I’ve always enjoyed creating them, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never planned one through. Let’s not break that pattern now! No, just kidding, I’ve been giving some thought as to what my website would be if I were to go back into my HTML ways. In the end, I decided that a jewelry business is a vague ambition for the future would be a good way to jump back into site designing. The problem is: I never gave much thought to what a jewelry business would entail. I need supplies to make inventory to sell. This is not as easy as it may sound as silver, gold, beads, findings, and tools all cost quite a bit of money. Money, which thanks to the Company-That-Must-Not-Be-Named’s meager salary, I don’t have. But even so, it’s kind of fun to come up with a place where I may one day showcase my pieces in the hopes to sell them. This business venture I was originally going to call “Myriad Designs.” Why? Because “myriad” is my favorite word and my tastes are many and varied, which is what the word denotes. Unfortunately, that seems to be a bit to on-the-nose, so I had to go back to thinking of something else. The title I ended up with was “Arsenic and Blue Lace” because blue lace agate is one of my favorite stones and because I’ve never met a pun I didn’t like. This is always subject to change as I am indecisive and not much in love with the name. But for now it works!

Anyway, when trying to come up with the color scheme for the site, I came up with three moodboards from the adobe theme site. These are:

calm&cute
I thought this one was sweet and very calming. Very girly. God, what was I thinking when I chose these?

orchid
This one works with the graphic I later made as a header graphic.

paleSuperman
…these are faded Superman colors. ‘Nuff said.

Along with those, I also made my header graphic, which looks something like this:
arsenicbluelace

I actually like the way this turned out. It’s from a photo that I took a few weeks ago of some flowers I saw at Bryant Park:
2011-04-08_18-47-04_591

Finally, I actually sketched out the vague format of my website. Shocking, I know, but it had to be done! I want a very clean layout with only the navbar at the top w/ the header image, and a couple of picture links in the body. And the rest of the site would be fairly consistent in that I don’t want to clutter my page too much. Here is an image of what, more or less I was going for:
2011-05-07_00-07-00_547

And this is pretty much how I want A&BL to look like if the site ever gets done. Considering I still have a ton of stuff to do BEFORE I ever get that far, we shall have to see what happens next in that regard. Until then!

Creating websites is not a foreign concept to me. My first one, I think, was when I was 15 years old. It was a geocities site (remember those? Nah, didn’t think so) and it featured random snippets of my writing and lots of pictures of the Backstreet Boys. Don’t judge me, I was a teenager in love. Anyway, I promptly lost interest in the site and it sort of went the way of the dinosaur. Even more so now, considering that Yahoo decided to destroy all of the nostalgia by getting rid of geocities completely. A few years later I started up another one, on a hosting site that I can’t recall. Again, it had more snippets of writing, but no signs of boybands anywhere. Finally, I helped design a website for a class project in college to show off Little Italy in the Bronx. The site never went live, but it was well-received by those who saw it. Since then, I have only put up blogs here and there, writing when I can and letting them drift away when I got bored or busy.

I think, if I were to start up another website, I’d want it to primarily showcase the jewelry that I’ve made, hopefully turning it into a shop where I can sell new pieces. Granted, I haven’t had much time to work on my admittedly novice jewelry making, but when the time comes that is something I would like to do. In terms of perhaps making an app to go with this, if I had the ability to do something like that, I would probably like to create something to help novice jewelers know what supplies they’re getting when they are out shopping. It’s simple to say that a London Blue Topaz is Grade AA and will cost $X.00. But, unless you know what the terminology means, you could end up getting gouged on the price and not even realize it. This can become most handy if you live anywhere that has bead stores or metal supplies. My app, which has no name right now, would be a handy reference guide that can give the user a quick tutorial on how to spot different grades of stone and how much those are worth on the market. I would also include something to give the user an idea on how much copper, silver, gold, etc. is worth to dollars. This can prove useful not only when picking up wholesale supplies, but later on when someone wants to sell their work, they know how much the piece is worth in terms of the stones and metal used.

Perhaps there are already apps like this elsewhere, but if there aren’t, I think this could be of great use to someone who doesn’t know a lot about how jewelry supplies are priced. Maybe this isn’t world-changing stuff, but I would certainly find it useful and perhaps someone else would, too!

Daff: The Sequel

April 16, 2011

When the first Daff video was made, I didn’t think I’d be making another one so soon. But another one is made and again, I apologize for any seizures, spontaneous sanguination via the tear duct or ear canal, or intense hallucinatory flashbacks that may be caused from watching my attempt at acting.

Let me tell you, when I set out with Sally to make this video, I didn’t think it would end up being a lesson in what NOT to do in film-making. I believe we made every single rookie mistake in the book. The fact that it came out halfway decent is more a testament to the equipment and the other people involved, rather than any sort of foreknowledge or technique.

Anyway, on to the show!

Daff’s Complete Dictate-Over REVISED COPY from Samantha Gomez on Vimeo.

I apologize in advance.

March 28, 2011

So, my Concepts class has been moving into the video end of the spectrum. Meaning, we had to make a short film. Which means, for the purpose of this project, I had to act. I hold no responsibility for any seizures that may occur or any loss of sight. By clicking play you understand the health risks and have decided to throw caution to the wind. Now…on with the show!

don’t be daff from J9 on Vimeo.

So I admit that this week’s assignment was a bit tougher than what I’m used to. Not because it lay beyond my skill set or anything like that, but because I went out trying to be fancy and it bit me in the ass. Not literally, though, because…ow. Who does that? Anyway, the Monday after class, I went to Best Buy and got myself a nice, digital recorder. I thought, “Well, this will certainly come in handy for future endeavors, like, you know, when I want to take notes for all those stories I will probably never write. But again I digress. So I get this lovely recorder thinking that it would really help. But I just couldn’t figure out how to transfer the files from it to my computer. So I go back to Best Buy to see if someone could help. Turns out? Yeah, the recorder I got doesn’t have a USB port, so there’s no way for me to transfer a damn thing. With over 10 minutes of recordings I was proud of, I became frustrated to say the least. But now I have a nice, new one with a USB cord and everything. The old one will be going back to the store. The moral of this story? Never trust technology.

Ok, so now I have a bunch of ambient noise ready to go, some music for the background and even some voice recordings (by yours truly since I couldn’t get anyone to stand still long enough to do this). I love all of the music I chose, particularly a boppy tune by Gogol Bordello called, Gypsy Part of Town. To me it fits in with the fun, ever-moving vibe of the city. Have a Youtube video featuring this great song, I insist.

The other piece of sound that I really like is this bit I recorded as I was getting into the subway and waiting for the 4 train. The last part of this piece can’t be used for the project as the announcer on the train says it’s going downtown and the next stop is Union Square. Considering our heroine (Karen) starts out there, it wouldn’t make sense to have her on a train going to Union Square. Unless we want to symbolize the fact that she’ll never escape what’s happening to her. Huh, that’s kind of meta, actually. But I really like this because I really can feel the journey down the stairs and the way the sounds almost shift to accommodate each other. The background sound of metal against metal fades away at some point to reveal the chatter of people walking by. I don’t know, I guess I get a really good sense of movement when I listen to it. Of course, I could be biased as I was there when the recording took place. I uploaded it here, so you be the judge:

Thoughts? Comments? Interpretive dance?