I have to share, too

I have to share these posts, the first by a colleague of mine and the second by his friend Justin (whom I have never met).

ANDREW:

I have to share this post by my good friend Justin. He sums up very eloquently the plight of harassment that is still very real for gay people (tempted to emphasize ‘gay men,’ although some may disagree with me) and even people simply assumed to be gay. Read this if you want to know what it feels like, if you want to understand why myself and many others are still so outspoken about creating an accepting world for gay people to live in. It’s not just about rights; it’s about about respecting difference on all fronts, and it’s about bringing a moderate-to-high level of understanding and empathy to your interactions with your friends, and, yes, even strangers. We all have demons and prejudices that were transplanted to us at a young age. At this point, it is our moral and civic duty to try to obliterate these prejudices…to see people for the good that radiates from them rather than judging them for the aspects of their person that you cannot understand. Read below.

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JUSTIN:
“I feel the need to write something VERY important and I hope all of you will read this and consider it. I don’t want to proselytize here, but this is something different anyway, a personal issue.

Last night, walking in downtown Boston from the subway to the museum, I was harassed by a small group of (white, male) thugs. It was dark but very early in the evening, and somehow I was the only one on the street. Had I needed to call for help, I’m not sure from where it would have come. I tend to pay no attention to people on the street and have only rarely had issues of this kind, but this group of men proceeded to provoke me from across the street with homophobic slurs (“faggot”, “Clay Aiken” – never heard that one! – among other things too explicit to write here; to my brothers and anyone else who thinks “faggot” is funny, *this* is how it is used and what it feels like). I didn’t acknowledge them, and they proceeded to cross the street, follow me, and continue to harass me. One of them laid an aggressive hand on me. I naturally walk quickly, and somehow was able to get away with only a little more attention from them. I said nothing throughout the whole exchange – an exchange of their demeaning idea of fun (or “civil duty”, for all I know) for my sense of security.

(It’s worth mentioning that I was dressed normally, like any New Englander in deep winter: heavy coat, hoodie, scarf, boots. That I was immediately assumed to be gay, however accurate, was not obvious. That merits a different discussion.)

I do not often fear for my safety on the street in general, and I am loath to think that I should have to as a gay man. However, this is not the first time I have been accosted in public for being a “fag”. As for last night, I am over it, in as much as that is possible. However, it leaves a myriad of questions to be addressed. Questions which range from: “What the fuck kind of society is this?” to “How is a verbal and physical violence of this kind any different from the non-support so many LGBT people receive, from people they know, from their country and society at large?” I can’t answer the first question. But about the second: “It’s not different.” The effect – be it psychological or physical – of not feeling as though you matter, to a single individual or to a society, is an silent and destructive form of abuse. I in no way mean to trivialize the troubles of those who have suffered abuses far greater than I have; and I should mention that in many areas of my life, I feel supported and cared for. But not in all, and incidents like these remind you of those colossal gaps. For the record, my sexuality (like gender, like skin color) is on the table for precisely no one to discuss, for no one else to have a say in. The ways in which one can be violated are many, but all they feel the same at the end of the day.

I consider myself lucky to have gotten off so easily this one time, in a situation in which my privacy, my personal space, my sexual safety, and possibly even my life is at stake. You never know, and everything hangs in a tenuous balance. There is no excuse for sitting idly by. To say nothing IS a lack of support. To say nothing is to do nothing, while abuse ten times greater than this is happening all the time. People need to know EXPLICITLY that you are backing them, that you care about what they are feeling, and that they are valued; and it is not enough to be “mostly valued” or “pretty much supported, but not totally”. Nothing – literally nothing – will happen on a societal level without this kind of attention on a personal level.

I don’t mean to be sappy or dramatic, but I feel like, this once, I deserve to say whatever the hell I want. Because it’s huge, but it is so, so fixable.”

I felt the need to repost these thoughts once I read them via a facebook post of Andrew’s. I thought that this would be a way of giving the matter attention on a personal level, as Justin calls for. 

There are a couple things I wanted to call attention to, and to discuss a little. First the “gay thing.” As a girl who’s grown up on the outskirts of a small town, and a smaller community, I was privy to the typical village-y small-minded stubbornness and old-fashioned thinking. Remarks like “that’s so gay” were common in my public middle and high school days and toward the end of high school “faggot” was a frequently heard term, especially from the athletic, “I’m really hot, cool, etc” boys (both white and Native) who thought that they could continue to reaffirm their manhood by supposedly undercutting their peers’.

I don’t pretend to have never spoken the word (although I do not use it now, and haven’t for what feels like a very long time) and I don’t pretend to have held the same views I do now in high school. But the beauty of humanity is in change, and accepting the faults in one’s own character and learning from them, addressing them. And in trying to fix them.

But even in the adult world I’d experienced problems, stemming from lack of consideration, respect and education.

I’ve worked for Cattaraugus County in western New York for two summers now, and I like my job, for all it doesn’t challenge me a great deal. It’s physically demanding, and the hours are long and usually not air-conditioned or filled with empty time. I’m either working extremely hard (physically) or I’m sitting around, extremely bored. But 98% of the time I am accompanied by at least one white male over the age of 20.

None of these men are gay. Most of them are outspoken. And nearly all of them refer to one another in a playful, down-putting but affectionate sense as “homo” or some variation of “faggot” (I’ve heard “gay boy,” too) at least a handful of times a week.

One of these men was my supervisor. I can’t tell you how depressing this became. I made every effort to ask him to stop (not in front of his work buddies, so as to not upset him). We had many conversations about homosexuality, not because I really wanted to, but because he liked to hear himself talk. We also discussed gay marriage, but to my surprise, on this he ended up agreeing with me– in that everyone has a right to marry someone they love, no matter the gender. After that small victory I began to think there was a little hope for the manly-man men at the county.

My hopes were dashed when one of my other supervisors, a devoutly religious guy, decided to bring up the topic of gay marriage and lecture me on it one day in the truck on the way to a job site. He asked me what I thought, and I told him, assuming he’d agree, too. He’d seemed like an easy-going, open-minded guy.

He puffed right up like a bantam rooster. “it’s wrong, it’s immoral, the Bible says, blah blah blah.” I’m embarrassed now because I kind of just let him ramble on. But this summer I called him a bigot to his face, in front of a few coworkers. I might have been considered insubordinate or what have you, but he went on a rant in front of everyone about “the gays” and I let him have it. He wasn’t expecting me to say anything, but I made it clear that I found his remarks offensive and he never brought up the subject again. He had obviously been raised with a specific set of values and adhered to them– that in itself is admirable. But he refused to reconsider, to self-reflect, or to admit that there might be something in the world he had a limited understanding of.

And honestly, the biggest fault in a small town,small county setting is the sheer lack of awareness. Half of those people haven’t met an Asian, let alone a homosexual, and wouldn’t know what the hell to do if they did. They base their judgment and mindset on the media and what their children come home talking about (that is, if they pay attention to their children in the first place), and of course, the stories their friends tell them. And that’s really all. Until some fresh wave of insight arrives to deconstruct the ignorance, there will continue to be huge numbers of people (small-towners particularly)

who do not realize the sheer injustice and prejudice in the views they hold. It’s just miserable that so little is being done to bring about the awareness and the acceptance that gay people (among other minority groups, as well) so desperately need.  What’s America doing to remind everyone of our little motto– oh wait, it’s actually a pledge, right? “…With liberty and justice for all.” …RIGHT?

– – – And now… a New Ramble! Get excited, kids. If you’ve stuck with me this far, that is.

The second thing I wanted to dwell on is street harassment. There were some really good comments below Andrew’s post that talked about this. I won’t post them here because, well, I’m going to talk about it (and also this isn’t facebook).

There’s been an escalation in street crime in my area. I live in the artsy-fartsy district of Rochester (East End) and we’re all music people, in some form or another, living one on top of the other in our own little corner of the city. It’s unlikely to walk to class or down the road or across the street without saying hello to someone you know.

That said, we’re smushed up against kind of a seedier neighborhood. Not that seedy neighborhoods as a whole are filled with creepy, lecherous middle-aged men with a hard-on for engaging in street harassment, but the likelihood increases that there might be a handful of people you pass on the sidewalk that are, frankly, unsavory.

I mean, no biggie. You just pass on the street and go about your separate lives. Right?

(Photo by Vivienne Gucwa.)

Well, or not. We’ve had two muggings in the past week. One of them happened outside of an apartment where some of my good friends live. I know that at least two of them heard the victim yelling for help and called the police, then ran down to him as his attackers were scuttling off with his cell phone and wallet. This occurred in a well-lit, highly populated little section of our corner of the city. This happened right down the road from my building. This took place shortly after the school closed for the night (eleven pm) and the person who was attacked and robbed was walking home from practicing.

It doesn’t matter whether he was gay or straight or a fucking Martian. He was victimized and it happened very close to home. That is unacceptable. It’s unacceptable anywhere.

I feel that, as a student population, we have been (for the most part) walking to class and our friends’ apartments and home from the gym and to the library and the café and our jobs with more than just a small slice of fear tagging along. When I walk home, I walk fast, and I keep my cell phone in my bag (although that’s just being safety conscious in general) and my coat zipped all the way. I don’t wear heels unless it’s to studio class and I keep my bag across my chest so no one can grab it easily. It might be paranoia, but I’m not that tall and against two bigger guys I might not stand a great chance at keeping my valuables (or potentially even my physical safety) unless I could clear a knee to a set of balls. You know?

On top of that, last Tuesday a friend and I were harassed– verbally– by a set of four or five guys, clearly inebriated, pushing a bicycle (yes, between the four or five of them) up the street. They were coming from the seedier part of town. My friend and I hurriedly crossed in front of them… I’m an impatient person and they were taking forever to meander their way up the sidewalk. We kept our heads down and simply walked across the street toward our building, but one (and then two, and then three and the rest) of them called after us. “Kelly, hey Kelly!” At first it was an invitation, a cajoling, “Hey Kelly, hey blondie, where ya going?” Then they started to warm up to the game, and the catcalls became threatening. “Kelly! Hey, fuck you Kelly! Why don’t you come back here, Kelly? We’ll fuck you, we’ll fuck you up!” And so on.

There were others on the street. It was well lit. It was right in front of Eastman. We didn’t report it– we didn’t think to, we were just happy we were across the street, and after that we tried to ignore them, and they continued on their merry way in the other direction. We’re lucky they didn’t follow us, I guess, now that I’m thinking back on it. I’ll admit it, I was a little shaken… mostly pissed off, but nervy and jumpy as well. It just sucked.

And I can’t say that an alleged increased police presence has helped a great deal. They increased the police after the first mugging. And oh look, then there was a second one.

I guess I just don’t know where a desire to commit a crime, or to waste so much energy on violence or hatred comes from. Yeah, there are times when I want to give an annoying classmate, a difficult colleague, or a creepy guy leering at me in the gym a healthy punch in the head. But that negativity spawns from frustration, at myself or at a situation or admittedly, often at a person– even then there’s no real inclination to actually physically or emotionally harm someone. And, to be honest, as someone who’s experienced a form of emotional abuse, that shit’s no joke either. You’re left feeling just as vulnerable, just as wrenchingly insecure, and you hate yourself and resent the rest just as much.

And I mean, let’s be serious, all violence is horrific in real life. But there’s something about randomly mugging someone on the street– or following them, harassing them– or calling names to a random passerby– that’s chilling. It could happen to anyone. And as Justin pointed out, you really never know. The situation he (or I, or the guy outside my friends’ apartment) found himself in could have escalated and become much, much worse. You just never know. What happened to Justin is terrifying, and I think it’s made worse by the fact that his antagonizers– bullies with nothing better to do– used homophobia as a mask for their own cowardice (as evidenced by the Pack Attack) and general jackassery. 

All in all, I felt it was important (for me, anyway) to add my own thoughts about harassment to Justin’s and to Andrew’s. The more ideas that can be pooled and discussed and thought about, the more consciousness can be raised around these very real problems in our society. Because you really never know. That’s why I wanted to talk about it: so more people might know, and maybe think about it and talk about it with their mother or their roommate or their elderly neighbor with fifteen cats. And then maybe someone somewhere might, instead of watching How I Met Your Mother, walk their elderly cat lady to the post office on the day a group of Hey Kelly-ers might have considered her easy pickings. You just never know.

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This is just a picture of a crazy cat. Not a cat lady. Sorry…

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Dear Boy I Used to Love,

I think you’re an idiot. And I think you gave up too soon.

You told me once you wanted to work hard. I took that to mean you wanted to work hard no matter what it cost you, because you were determined to make something out of the bullshit life handed you. I saw that as a perseverance to be respected, a drive that would prove to the world how special you were, and how extraordinary.

Well, I helped get you a job, and you fucking blew it. I put in a good word for you and you decided that it wasn’t for you. Instead of sticking it out for the summer, for a measly twelve (or less?) weeks, you quit. You left your colleagues with a reminder of the kind of dumb shit they hate to work with– someone with a piss-poor, know-it-all attitude and a preconceived notion that life owes you.

Allow me to clue you in: life doesn’t owe you a goddamn thing. And you can look down your nose at me in jaunty confidence and treat me to a patented, affronted reverse-snobbery; you can ask me how the hell I would know, haven’t I been handed everything I could ever want?

I’ll tell you something, and it’s up to you whether you want to pay attention. The only reason I grew up with a childhood so different from your own, is because my mother worked as hard as she possibly could at a job she was mentally overqualified for, for nearly thirty years. My mother’s work ethic and drive to give my sister and I a childhood so far removed from her own, are the sole reasons I didn’t grow up with your childhood.

Where do you think she got her drive? Possibly her own determined mother who worked day and night to be the only provider for her three children. Perhaps seeing her father and uncle kill themselves with the bottle had something to do with it. Maybe it was the fact that she realized, almost too late, that she might not fulfill her own potential as a human being. She didn’t go to college for long. She realized that she needed money and she loved my father so they began a life together– but they earned everything they now own from the ground up. Her life wasn’t fucking peaches, either, but she didn’t whine or complain that the work was too hard or that she deserved better than what was handed to her. She didn’t blame others for her mistakes.

She passed those traits on to me. I don’t blame you for hating me. I don’t blame you for giving up on our friendship without so much as a struggle, even though I was hurting and I needed you. Even though it looked like I hated you, I was absolutely miserable without you and you didn’t even bother to look away from your empty-headed, real-college friends to notice. By the time you figured it out, it was too late and my heart had broken and spilled out and healed over. And you didn’t so much as turn your head, except to complain to other people that I was “mean.”

I’d thought we’d worked toward becoming friends again, but you don’t give a shit. You don’t have the balls to tell me so, even now, and truthfully I don’t care enough to make it clear to you. Then again, maybe I’m hoping in some deep recess of my heart that you’ll grow up and we can share some (not all) of the bond we once shared. I do think that once (if) you pull your head out of your ass and realize you’re going to be twenty, that you might come to remember that I apologized. I apologized, and after that I didn’t know how to behave because how could things go back to normal? You seemed to have thought they could in a heartbeat. But I couldn’t do that. I didn’t know how.

Then you were angry and the cycle of misunderstanding started again. I was mad too, don’t get me wrong. I was furious. Even now, you seem not to give a shit that you’ve disappointed many of those who care about you, including my family and, well, me. Like it or not, I do still want the best for you, even if I don’t really like you as a person anymore. And if that didn’t make any sense to you, read it again.

I know now that you think I’m some pretentious diva who lords her expensive school and fancy ideas over everyone (don’t worry that I’m paying for the expensive school out of my own pocket and that I work constantly). Because I’m quiet, I’m stuck up, and I don’t tend to drink like a sloppy whore so I’m not any fun. I don’t dress to cover only my tits and ass so obviously I don’t fit in with the girls you prefer now, anyway. Yes, I’m a bitch, and I’ll stay that way in your mind until (if) you decide to grow up and maybe then you’ll realize: I would have given you everything.

But it’s okay. You’ll continue to earn mediocre grades and a respectable beer gut at some state school where it doesn’t matter how well you actually do, because unless you have something special that sets you apart, you’re going to settle for a mediocre job somewhere that you loathe. You’ll take your enjoyment on the weekends with your slutty girl friends who only want in your pants because they believe you’re the best they’ll ever get. Not because they want what’s best for you as a person or as a lover, not because they give a shit about your dreams or your hopes or your fears.

It’s okay.

It’s even more okay because I’m thinking about this after seeing your pictures on facebook… Don’t you realize potential future employers see those things? How could you be so stupid? I know for a fact some of your past employers have gone back and looked to see what kind of a dumb ass they were mistaken enough to hire, so they won’t do it again. I hope you don’t have really high goals for future jobs. Then again, if you don’t like the work, you can just quit, right? That sort of lack of discipline is acceptable, isn’t it?

I think you talk big and you never follow through. I think you had all of these big plans and loved to tell people about them, and then you realized it would take blood, sweat and tears (God forbid you don’t have “fun” all the time) in order to achieve those goals. So you quit. You gave up too soon on those dreams, and on working hard. And on me.

But, Dear Boy I Used to Love,

I’ve long since given up on you.

Trying to understand, a little (a mini patriotic rant) 

A facebook friend of mine whom I went to high school with recently posted this status:

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First off all, yes, my facebook is in German. So sue me.

Secondly, I have to say, I really don’t know how to feel about it. I don’t understand. What’s the point of expressing you apathy in this kind of situation? Let’s review. 9/11 was a tragedy that shook the world. An unprecedented slaughter of nearly 3000 (yes, three THOUSAND) people, many of whom were trying to save the lives of others even as they died.

I understand that, yes, the world has seen its share of tragedies. And I also understand that many of them are not memorialized. Well, people die every day… shouldn’t all of them be remembered in some fashion? Thousands died on 9/11, all in the same fell swoop. Shouldn’t they be remembered, and the heroes honored? 9/11 gets some publicity yearly. What’s the big deal? I don’t get it.

Is she upset that horrors elsewhere are not being publicized? Stop bitching on facebook and write to your local news station. Or start a blog to talk about issues that motivate you– like Melody has.

Or maybe, it’s the fact that 9/11 is STILL memorialized eleven years after the fact. Is that the problem?

Personally, I don’t see much wrong with recognizing the deaths of thousands of people, remembering that they have families and friends still here, and thinking of them as the day passes. I remember my relatives who have passed on when their birthdays roll around, or a specific thing occurs that reminds me of them.

I think of the victims of 9/11 every time I catch the time on the clock.

I may have only been in third grade in 2001, and I may or may not have only understood that I couldn’t watch TV when I got home from school because the news was on and that’s all my parents wanted to see. But I came to realize in short order exactly how terrible a tragedy it was.

And now, to see something so dismissive, so bland and unfeeling, about an event that changed this country, changed the world, and changed the lives of millions by ripping from them their loved ones… it’s disheartening, at least. “There have been worse tragedies?” That’s like saying, “Let’s not celebrate Memorial Day, because we don’t give a shit and people die every day.” “Let’s not recognize that the Holocaust happened, because they’re already dead and currently no one’s showing a growing desire for gas chambers.”

I just don’t understand. One day out of the year to remember isn’t such a great sacrifice, for me at least, when I think about those who sacrificed their lives nearly eleven years ago. A few moments to pause and think about the victims of an unspeakable tragedy aren’t a huge waste. A life taken is a life taken. And I guess that’s how I feel about it.

Things I Loathe:

  • being ignored
  • having my laundry all over the floor
  • not being able to find a decent healthy/tasty damn piece of food in the dump we call our dining center.. except for a banana, which doesn’t even really count
  • not having a proper black shirt
  • having split ends
  • being acquainted with individuals who feel that it is their duty to point out my flaws in a less-than-constructive manner
  • people as a general rule
  • the unnecessary recurring clutter of my workspace
  • the lack of perspective Eastman pushes on everyone
  • BEING IGNORED
  • being forced to take the social initiative three times in a row with the same person
  • BEING IGNORED

The next part of this post would, typically, address how I (in typical, mostly level-headed manner) plan to solve the aforementioned dilemmas.

Well, I’m just not going to. I am going to stew in my own righteous bitchiness– I just slammed my door a few times, for pleasure– and hope it carries me through the rest of my history homework. And that is all.

Variations on a common bass pattern

Blah, blah. Here I am again. Did I post yesterday or two days ago? It’s been kind of a swift slither of days for a little while.

I had a serial killer dream last night. Something about little kids being taken to a room with pink walls and there was a knife involved, and I’m pretty sure I remember a garrote. Ew ew ew. I think it’s because I watched two or three episodes of Criminal Minds on Sunday while I was waiting to feel busy. I really should have cleaned my room instead. There are clean clothes all over the damn place (floor, lamp, laundry basket) just begging for me to get off of my ass and do something about it.

But I guess I won’t, because right now I’m writing and after this I’m going to put my shoes on and go to history class.

History always stresses me out. It’s one of the few “typical” academic classes we have here, and it’s so stupid because everyone is trying to be more of a know it all than the person they’re sitting next to. I don’t even bother raising my hand, because although most of the time I know the answer and’ve done the reading, there’s no point– someone will either mutter or squeal out the appropriate reply and they’re the ones who are expected to answer by now, anyway. So what’s the point? And in addition to those who actually speak up in class, you have the rest of the vast majority who sit there seething with self-righteousness because they know but they are too good to put their hands up, unless it’s meekly and demurely every once in a while. Then there’s usually eyelash batting or self-deprecating smiles involved. It’s like, please, guys.

I actually don’t give a crap, though. I don’t fall into either of those two categories. I don’t feel left out because I don’t answer– I don’t feel unjustly ignored and too perfect to contribute, either. I just don’t feel like getting involved in it at all.

That’s me. Plain detachment. When I become emotionally invested in things I can’t change, I have to remove myself from thinking about it, caring about it. Having some kind of emotional input about it. Otherwise I tend to drive myself crazy dwelling on it and that’s unproductive, and why — seriously, why?– should anyone be miserable because of a situation they can’t control?

I’m not really talking about history anymore, but the question remains the same. Why should I allow myself to feel like less of a success, less of a musician, less of an intelligent and capable human being?

A question to ponder on the way to history.

Brief rant

I don’t consider myself weak-willed. I don’t think I’m a pushover, I don’t think I’m an easy sell or a wishy-washy personality. I have a love of compromise, and I value harmony.

But there comes a time when a girl just has to stand her ground and say, “Look, buddy. This is my career, and my education we’re talking about. I need us to do what’s right for me, whether you feel like it or not.”

Of course, nothing is that easy. I can state my viewpoint and give a list of reasons why I stand by it, and still be overridden by someone who thinks that they have the greater insight into the music that wants to be made.

But, sure. That’s fine. I’ll just sit here, miserable and hurt, and not just a little angry, while you call my primary teacher directly to discuss a two-page piece that we could easily present five days from now. Go right ahead, override me, make me feel small and stupid and unskilled.

Thank you, but no thank you for being an inconsiderate, falsely concerned, uncommunicative ass. I really appreciate your efforts to ruin my day.

The end.

Finally the little meltdown

Whoa, yep. Here it comes. Here we go. Finally the little meltdown.

I lost my Single Game of Therapeutic Tetris because of this. I was on level five. For me, that’s actually serious failure.

Look, I can’t help it that I am an emotional person. See? There, I’ve said it. I’ve finally confessed. I am a blatantly emotional person. It’s not a crime. It’s how I’m made. It’s a genetic accident that has led to extremely powerful feelings when I don’t want them and mentally know I sure as hell don’t need them (interfering with my daily life).

But on the other hand, those deeply felt extremely passionate reactions are the reason I can write and mean it. They are the reason I can sing about love and have it reach someone. They are the reason I can bring life to old volumes of music that have been around for centuries. They are the reason I can love so fiercely, and with everything I have.

I care about what happens to my friends. I care when I hurt someone’s feelings. I care when I feel I am being used to get to someone else. I care when people I thought were my very best friends treat me like shit.

I care that I am so uncomfortable speaking up when I feel that I have been treated like shit. Why I am walked over so easily? Why am I constantly taken advantage of?

Is it because I like it? Is it because I want to feel needed by the people I love?

Or is it because that, somewhere along the line, I stopped caring that I treat some of my friends better than they treat me?

I think I just love too much. I love so much that I don’t think before I speak when it comes down to protecting what I feel ought to be protected. I don’t gauge the consequences when I can’t take it any more, and that’s why I can’t stand up for myself. Because it usually turns out with me looking like some know-it-all, high and mighty bitch. When really, I just read a lot, so my bitchiness is well thought out and (for the most part) grammatically correct.

I hate myself for caring. I have thought to myself, why can’t I be someone normal, who doesn’t give enough of a crap to speak her mind about something important? Why can’t I just shut up and keep my advice to myself? I get myself in trouble for being honest. For being absolutely one hundred percent honest with someone I thought I could trust… and then I try to fix it, which is almost just as bad.

What’s wrong with me?

But I can’t change. I won’t change. I won’t even go back and proofread this because even if it makes no sense I refuse to give an inch on this… this entire stupid situation. It’s so petty and I’m done. I just want to go home.

Can’t think of a title right now because I don’t want to be late

I don’t know what my problem is. First I’m annoyed by workaholics who take a little too much outward pride in being workaholics. Then I’m pissed off because people who clearly have ability don’t make any effort to hone their talent. I include myself in that group sometimes.

And most recently, most prominently, I get so very irritated with the pious few who can’t seem to keep their obsession with God in their pants.

Let me rephrase. Is it really necessary to put Bible verses as your facebook status? Because let me just say, as someone who’s pretty impartial most days, you’re not going to inspire me to start up Bible-reading or hardcore prayer just because you’re John 3:16ing away in the social media. Seriously.

Is it really that important that you dress conservatively or treat everyone else with a heightened sense of “I’m better than you because I have a religion that is the right religion and you can be better than everyone else too if you give up your sinner’s lifestyle and join me”? Is it really that mandatory to wear blingy cross jewelry or carry your Bible around?

I thought the whole point of having a relationship with God was to use his love to love others (and okay, repent your sins and go to Heaven and all that jazz). But if the current mentality is “be obnoxious about your faith and see how many people like it and join in,” I hesitate to ask how many new followers you end up with.

Personally, it’s not appealing to be part of it… Christianity seems way too much like a clique, an exclusive group that you can only be part of if you’re willing to piss all of the nonbelievers off. I don’t want to join in, I don’t want to hear what you have to say because you are, quite simply, annoying as hell (if you’ll forgive the turn of phrase).

And maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m just close-minded and a bitch. Maybe I just can’t accept that this religion IS actually better than all the rest. Maybe I can’t just face facts: that you have to discriminate and be an obnoxious witness in order to have a successful relationship with God.

Or maybe, there needs to be an adjustment. Because I’m pretty sure that I’m a very open-minded person and although I admit to the bitchiness a great deal of the time, it takes a lot to really piss me off. And this cliquey Christian nonsense? Yeah. It pisses me off.

Little rant about Christianity today

There. I’ve said it. “I don’t even consider myself a Christian any more.”

Lucy and I have these discussions pretty frequently. About what we believe, about the Christian group at Eastman, and about modern belief systems. It made me think about Brendan, the only stable Jesus-loving presence in my life (besides, well, my grandma), and about his organic, true-to-love way of communicating about his faith. The kids here are NOT like that, and it drives me crazy. Okay, being judged is part of life. Fine. But as I actually know a few true, down-to-earth, Jesus-loving people (who love everyone regardless of who they are or what they’ve done), I think I’m on the right track by saying that being judged by a cliquey pack of self-proclaimed, over-churched snobs is not really in anyone’s plan for their day.

Is it really important to take others’ sex lives and drinking habits and potty mouths into consideration? Doesn’t it matter more how they feel about themselves and about others? Or maybe God really doesn’t want people who like alcohol or physical pleasure. I’m sure that whenever someone tells God to “Fuck off,” that he actually says “Okay” and puts their name on a list for hell. That’s what the Good Book says, after all. RIGHT?

Give me a fucking break.

I consider myself someone who loves people (including the kids I’m currently ranting about, weirdly) and loves the idea that there is something out there that’s taking care of us. That gives a shit, you know. But I’m not about to turn my nose up at my roommate, who doesn’t believe in anything. She’s one of the most accepting people I’ve ever met. But she still feels excluded from our local cross-wearers. Because she’s unaffiliated, she’s not welcome.

I have to say, I don’t really want a ton to do with a pretentious sect of people that struts around excluding everyone from their fun and games. Not that I actually consider sitting around bashing others’ beliefs and lifestyles fun. Or game-like.

The 2006 Jeremy Brock film “Driving Lessons” sums up my feelings on modern Christianity in a few sentences.

“How is a person truly free, until they can think and act for themselves. If you say to me, ‘Am I a Christian?’ I say to you, if you strive to do good, then you’re a Christian. If you don’t seek to hurt or betray others, you’re a Christian. If you’re true to yourself, and treat others as you’d have them treat you, you’re a Christian. 
The more a person parades their Christianity for the benefit of others, the less I’m inclined to trust the Christianity they claim to bring. God tells us, ‘True faith is the freedom to choose truth.’
Now, how you express that: the way, the manner, the means at your disposal, these things are of no consequence be you Christian or atheist, unless in your heart you are true.”

I don’t think that making yourself out to be a member of God’s Special Club speaks of love for others. I don’t think that avoiding people who have sex and drink and cuss will have any effect on your so highly valued purity. I don’t think that pretending you’re not human and are all distant, fake smiles forever, even to the lowly un-religious (like myself), makes you a Christian. And I certainly don’t think that proclaiming your love for church and the Bible and other devout Christians puts you any closer to divine salvation, unless you can come down off your self-constructed throne and mingle as one of the masses. Rub elbows with the filthy and share with the downtrodden and the gleeful sinners. Not as an emissary of Christ, but as a fellow human being. Love is the dynamic force that will change this world. Not self righteousness.

So biutiful

So I just got back from seeing a movie with Nicole. We walked to the Little Theatre and saw Iñárritu’s “Biutiful.”

Well, oh God. I’m miserable right now. As I was telling a friend just now via text, “life sucks/I am so lucky. I don’t like to feel like shit about stuff like that, that I can’t change.”

“Biutiful” is about a father in urban, impoverished Spain who has to deal with a bipolar drug addict “massage therapist” wife, shady dealings with migrant workers, and seeing dead people. That’s basically it in a nutshell because I’m tired, but he’s also been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer that has spread to his bones and liver. He has two children and a shithead brother and he’s too busy taking care of other people and surviving– too prideful, maybe– to ask for help. Or to tell his family.

It was biutiful.

His ten year old daughter eventually found out and by that time I was a mess. He not only reminded me of my mother– who suffers silently and gives selflessly all the damn time– but his love for his family was a tangible force the entire time. I could tell that he did almost nothing with a thought for himself. And he still suffered immeasurably.

It makes me feel likes someone’s grabbing my guts and twisting, squeezing for a reaction. I guess that means it was a good movie, but I’d like to think that it meant more than that. “Good movies” generally do.

It was another of those reminders (this time, a rather sickening instead of uplifting or bittersweet one) that life is so short. Any second might be that last, and what the hell do we do? We squander away time instead of spending it with those we love. We think of ourselves constantly– even right now I’m pondering how this movie made me feel– and there is so much more to do in order to improve the quality of life for others.

As for me, I don’t know where to start. Getting my education and studying like a crazy ass seems a fairly good place to start, but what about after that? What about during that? What can I do in the next three years?

More than I have previously in this lifetime, that’s for sure.

Perfection (a reflection)

To be honest, I never usually have so many ideas I can articulate in one day. Occasionally they’ll hit me, quickly and suddenly, and I’ll have to get them down somewhere, somehow immediately or lose them forever. Others drift as remnants, half-formed and vague, until later. Or until never.

But today is just a good day for thinking and writing, I guess. It’s also strange that I’m blogging now because generally by 11:06 pm on any given evening (weekends excepted) I am either sleeping or wishing to God I was sleeping, so hey. This is cool.*

But back to my stream of consciousness at the moment, why don’t we?

I think a lot about perfection.

We all try to be perfect. We all want the 100 on our theory homework or the A in ed psych. Obviously we all want to perfect our skills, especially at Eastman (like, DUH, hello). And there are other ways in which people strive to perfect themselves: religiously/spiritually, physically, emotionally. Still others strive to behave perfectly or respond perfectly in social situations, perfecting their image.

I have tried to perfect myself in all of these ways. Possibly more, I guess. But over the course of the past few years, and especially here, I have put myself at a level with other, more “normal” human beings– and by that, I mean the kids who don’t try as hard, or the kids who aren’t at an advantage socioeconomically, or even the adult working class. I think working at Tim Horton’s all summer and this winter break reinforced my relationship and tie to the everyday average person. And while I refuse to lower my sights or adjust my previously-set goals, it’s humbling and enlightening at the same time to have a glimpse into the real world. It was also a learning experience– an incredibly motivating and meaningful one.

I guess it gave me a glimpse into a life not filled so much with lofty aspirations of a perfect fellowship with Christ and the church, or a toned and physically disciplined body, or straight As.

I mean I’m not going to alter my own goals– I have a shady outline of what I’m here to do, and I plan on filling it in. But there are manners that some adopt that make having goals seem like something pretentious and disgusting. Like, “I’ve got these plans and nothing is going to get in my way.”

It sounds okay, but in my opinion there need to be some priorities. Right? Like, family? Friends? Relationships with people, meaningful interactions with others, your teachers, your peers? What about living life? I don’t mean getting drunk (although hey, sometimes it’s a perk) but enjoying yourself and taking time to reflect on the happiness in your life. Little things, like having a ridiculous discussion with my roommate about Barbie and Ken, or talking to my grandmother about Criminal Minds, or savoring Starbucks because I don’t have it at home– or even staring into the sun and feeling it touch your face because it’s the middle of winter– those things are valuable to me. They are, in a way, much much MUCH more important than behaviors I’ve noticed, such as…

Biblical facebook statuses: I mean I guess people quote meaningful song lyrics and that’s similar, but please, do you really need to shove your faith in everyone’s face? I mean, I can say I love Jesus because, well, I do. But in my opinion and experience, it’s better to show your love for him through your actions. It’s really not how often you talk about your prayers or your youth group or “how you can spread the Woooord.” How about, you just go show it? Loving people without judgment is going to have more of an effect than a club at college where all you do is chat about how to add more people to your club. It feels exclusive. And it feels like bragging, and an exaggerated attempt to make oneself into someone others should seek out or respect.

Physical perfection: I understand that gyms are awesome. I have a membership. But those that get carried away, and do a freakout if they miss half a warmup or a stretch or something stupid? That’s ridiculous. The world is not going to end if you miss Pilates, dude.

Academics are overrated. Isn’t it enough that we kill ourselves to achieve proficiency at our art? The added pressure of grades just screams “give me migraines.” Some overwork themselves to the point where learning the material is secondary and the letter grade is most important. Isn’t the acquisition of knowledge the goal? Not the skill with which one takes tests.

Or, maybe I’m just overthinking this, and it’s the attitude with which one seeks perfection that is the really irksome thing. Maybe I just place too much value on not being an obsessive lunatic. Maybe I have a thing against acting like an overeager or scarily-driven know it all. Hopefully, though, I’m capable of pursuing my own goals with a passion for life and an enthusiasm that’s contagious and considerate, not obnoxious.

But that’s all I know for tonight.

Also, Lucy and I were just having a discussion while I wrote this… for her benefit I’m supposed to mention that Zulu thatchers were hired to thatch the roofs of all the gift shops in Disney World so that they would look legit.

 

* I mean, undoubtably this also has something to do with the fact that, YES I’M GOING HOME TOMORROW.

Successes and failures (but mostly failures)

Feel free to judge for yourself which is which.

I almost wrote a book today.

I’ve stopped reading the Bible. Huge surprise there.

I’m managing my River Campus class pretty well, if I do say so myself.

I wasn’t falling asleep in theory today.

I got up and ready in time.

I really want Chinese food, and have since Monday.

I will probably run tonight.

I’ve been dizzy all day long.

I am not having a good hair day.

I hate when this room is dark.

I need to repaint my nails: I don’t have remover and I hate when they chip.

I don’t know why I painted my nails hot pink to begin with.

I don’t know what I want to do with my life; although ed psych and also Erikson say I should have figured this out already.

I’m going to be really upset if I can’t get Chinese food tonight.

I guess no one wants to go with me to get Chinese food. This is totally acceptable and normal. To work off the pathetic feelings of abandonment and the intense loathing of the idea of going to U of R on the bus by myself and waiting there for an hour–also by myself– I will probably go to the gym early. I can be skinny and miserable. Awesome.

I’m still dizzy. So over it.

I don’t know anyone else here well enough to feel that they would be comfortable and not awkward travelling with me to the River Campus.

I hate complaining.

I hate being sad and pathetic.

I hate the idea that I cannot reverse my own sad and pathetic-ness.

I’m getting off the computer now to figure out how the hell I’m getting Chinese food tonight. I would go to Dim Sum but I have to pay real money there and I can club U of R food. I’ve literally thought of everything. God.

Okay, for real though. I’m going.

Cross my heart

I haven’t blogged in such a long time. Instead, I’ve been busy with finals and wrapping up my first semester of college. Holy God.

In place of blogging I’ve taken up venting. It helps that I have some great friends here who will listen to me and not hate my guts, and who understand that it is simply a way for me to sort out what the hell is going on in my life and in the world around me. Some vent back, and I listen when they need to figure things out. It’s a good balance. Since to me, balance is necessary, I have incredible loyalty and honesty with my friends. It feels somehow that this was never the bond I had with most people back home. Some, like Brendan and Kenny and Sra, are just that honest and openly caring. Others make me wonder why they spend time with me.

Here, we are all crammed together in one little building. Fourteen stories are nothing when compared to the expansive gossip mill that runs around here. This is why I’m always careful now. What I say, who I say it to. There are a few close friends here I could tell anything to: and they would respond in kind with some precious information of their own and never repeat what I told them. It’s a strange kind of loyalty I don’t think I’ve experienced before.

There’s an honesty that tags along with the open and innocent lines of communication. A trust that shouldn’t be broken. If you feel one way, say it straight. That’s my policy.

Take tonight. An acquaintance of mine decided she was not going to shop with us. That’s all fine and good, but she said she was tired and had work to do. We found out when we came back that she had gone skating.

Like, what? If you don’t want to go with us, that’s FINE. Totally cool. We’ll probably say have fun and be on our merry way. But don’t LIE and say you have important things to do when you plan to go out with the nearest other easy social opportunity that comes your way. It’s just so phony.

I can’t take it. When I’m phony, it always comes back to bite me in the ass.

For example, tonight I went to get a beverage with a (gentleman) friend of mine. I think he’s kind of cute. Whatever. We get along. But I had to be honest with myself later that I think he is attractive and funny and kind. Also musical. You don’t see that combination much, and it interests me. I don’t know exactly what I am admitting to by that, but I had to be honest with myself.

Later, another friend decided that he would ask me out. I do not have feelings for this friend and so I told him so. Honestly. I thought about saying I had alternate plans, or that I didn’t think I was ready for a relationship right now, or even that I was sick or studying. But I didn’t. It is so much more direct, straightforward and downright decent to tell the truth, with simplicity. I mean, make it nicer if you want, just be honest.

I guess that was my theme for the evening or something, since it just happened to be on my mind for a healthy chunk of time today. Now I’m going to honestly say that’s it is WAY past my bedtime.

Some days I think, I should shut up. Today is not one of those days

I don’t want to do my diction homework. I don’t want to learn IPA right now.

Okay, I mean, I do, but not the way that we’re learning it and not in a stuffy room crammed full of singers and open e’s and o’s and headaches.

I don’t want to wait for my laundry. In fact, I didn’t want to laundry at all today because I just don’t want to. But no, I shoved two dollars and fifty cents worth of quarters into that machine and by God I will have clean clothes. They just might not be all the way dry by the time I go to get them out of the dryer. I have class at three thirty and I don’t want anyone else touching them while I pretend to enjoy Rep Singers.

I don’t want to do my theory. I don’t even want to go to theory any more. I can’t believe how awkward I made it for myself.

Um, but please. My recently vocal sassy side shakes her head and does the Z-finger-snap thing because hey buddy. If you don’t want me, say so and don’t mix your signals. In my experience, drunken behavior is the most telling because you are at your most relaxed and uninhibited in an intoxicated state. Therefore, it leads me logically to the conclusion that you’d want me if I’d say so.

Don’t lie to me now that you’re sober. Don’t ignore me now that you’re sober. I don’t appreciate it and it makes me lean toward the notion that oh my, you can be a jackass. It’s not my fault I’m mysteriously attracted to you. In all honesty, I cannot think of a solid reason why I am. Okay, you have some really pretty eyes and you’re not a tenor.

Those aren’t even Good Reasons. Like, what the hell. What’s wrong with me?

Or better, what’s wrong with you? Since apparently you can flirt with everyone else and not with me? Unless you’re drunk? I’m so confused. Don’t lead me on. I don’t have time.

I do have a significant amount of stubbornness and crankiness though. I can be kind of a pain in the ass if things don’t work out my way here. But I’ve taken steps and now I’ll wait for you to make yours and if they’re in a direction I don’t like I’ll do something else and pretend it doesn’t affect me at all.

I mean I probably will care but it will look like No Big. But just so you know, I’d have an open ear or arms for you if you ever wanted them.

Hope it’s just a bug

It’s like nausea rising in my throat,

accompanied by that same sickening staccato of

foreboding

like, oh shit

a punch in the belly

the giddiness kicks right up

up and out and forward

It’s making me ill, I

feel so so sick to my stomach

this is not how I’m supposed to feel, I’m

supposed to be productive

Just like this poem was

supposed to make sense

But instead I’m just kind of chopping

up phrases since I

can’t think

in a straight line

Crap, man

I didn’t ask for this.

Every night’s an all nighter

No one ever said it would be easy. I’d even told myself, from the very beginning, that this would be difficult. That I’d work, and work hard. That there would be stress, and infinite pressure, and time management and energy concerns.

Like, I knew it. So why, when seasonal depression and homesickness hit, do they feel like some viciously unexpected wallop from the beyond? Not to mention the added pressure of friendships and balancing a social life with academic proactivity, and the agitation that accompanies the occasional brush of unfriendliness.

I don’t want to be bitter. I don’t want to sit and stew in my own negative outpouring of feelings toward individuals or a course or my own longing to be home. I want to just plow through the rest of this semester and be home. Be home. I’ll say it again: I want to be home.

I know I’ll sink back into the routine here, because I’ve discovered I actually can adapt. There are those who get under my skin and stick there, infecting my mood and my performance, but I am going to work to pop them like the acne they are. That looks really gross and harsh: but honestly, this is a vicious fricking environment if you don’t have your shit together. I can’t afford– emotionally, financially, physically– to not have my shit together. So if certain people are an infection, I hereby antitoxin the crap out of them, right here, right now. I’m a tolerant, patient, sometimes outspoken but generally very balanced and caring person. But there are times, like right now, with two more midterms to go and one month standing between me and my family, where I am going to slam both feet into the ground and say, that’s enough of this bull crap.

It’s so necessary for me to excel here. Not for me, on my own. Necessarily. So much falls to me, to surpass the goals I’ve set for myself. My family is counting on me to make this time worth it.

So, God help me, I damn well will.

Weak thesis post

Ten minutes to go. I thought I’d get through this class– I was really trying to behave. No matter how much I attempt to distract myself or focus in here, though, it’s impossible.

Since class started, I have:
– been on facebook
– (twice)
– tweeted about how much I don’t want to be here
– read a nifty blog
– kind of paid attention
– typed out a half-page of half-developed notes
– saw that David was also on facebook and mentally applauded him
– learned that my professor really does hold true to the belief that musicians can’t write coherent essays
– pretended that me, blogging, is actually me, taking notes
– checked wordpress stats
– learned that Lalime is signed with the Sabres for one more year (courtesy of Sabres.com)
– talked to Julie about taking a nap in the piano
– wished fervently for caffeine.

It’s ironic that we’re (she’s) discussing brevity right now. “If it’s not concise, it can be distracting.” What an outlandish concept.

Uhg. I honestly don’t even have the energy anymore to bitch about this class. It’s just tiring/not worth it.

And so instead of ranting angrily about the review of the my essay that was just returned, I have this to say.

I’m grateful for brutal feedback. I’m grateful for three hours a week I spend wasting in that dull room surfing the web and pretending to pay attention. I’m grateful for the fact I can relax and sit and take a little time away from the constant motion.

I’m most grateful for the happiness I’ll feel once this semester wraps up.

I’ll give you a statement

I hate this class.

I’m sitting here with my head spinning from lack of caffeine and wondering why anyone would want to read an academic paper in the first place, especially when the action is supported by an FML-laden, “I’m going to read your essays whether they’re brilliant… or total pieces of garbage, because I’m paid to do that.” Thanks, Professor. Now go get a job you actually want to do so I don’t have to sit here listening to you. Every word chafes, acidic little scrapes that say to me, “Just because you’re musicians, you’re not above manipulating the English language… but because you are musicians, I’m going to assume you don’t know anything about language, as well.”

Clearly we’re just stupid music geeks with superiority complexes. And obviously the reason I hate this class is my predilection to assume I’m too good to write, especially because I think I know everything but REALLY lack all knowledge whatsoever about essay composition and/or snagging myself an audience that actively reads.

Maybe I’m just a bitch this morning, maybe… maybe… shit, I don’t know. This is just so pointless. “You need to make your reader interested.” Check. Readers usually engage because in anything I write, I usually make sure I know what the hell I’m talking about first.

“Your thesis is your point.” Okay. We all know this. If anyone was not aware, they can take this hellish course instead.  I’m sick of this. I’m sick of sitting here having the theses of each classmate ripped apart in front of me. I’d rather not destroy others’ writing. I like writing. I don’t like critiquing my classmates’. It makes me uncomfortable. And According to Azzara, a classroom setting should not be threatening or intimidating. My thesis was just up on the screen, and although it’s anonymous, it’s like, come on. My tone was addressed, and apparently theses need a great deal of specificity. Whatever. It obviously doesn’t matter what I think or how I write, because I’m not educated and need the topic of thesis statements plowed into the ground until it’s just a slimy pathetic puddle whimpering on the pavement.

“You need to set up and explain the problem and then provide a resolution.” Here’s a resolution, then, or we might call it a revelation. Perhaps one should be able to notice when the majority of one’s class is b0red to tears (this ten person class is 40% Asian,  50% female, and the other boys are clever, despite always being late). One should also be able to engage the class in a pleasant manner. Also, it’s freakin’ critical that one have the ability to note and somehow proactively address significant lack of interest. Here’s a headline: NO ONE CARES, Because Everyone in this Class Already Knows About and/or Can Do What is Being Discussed.

“How does this help you with your paper?”

Well, it doesn’t. I’m not writing a paper right now. I’m blogging, and I’m pissed that an hour of my day is glommed away by this utterly pointless course. If we’re required to take a mandatory writing course, can’t we at least be offered courses that aren’t booby-trapped? Like, you should pick this one, it looks vaguely interesting, but you’ll really spend your first semester wanting to beat your head against the desk in front of you in the fruitless hope that you’ll forget the hours of torture incurred three times a week at 8:30 in the morning.

So, yeah. Just in case it wasn’t clearly outlined, I’ll reiterate: I freakin’ hate this class.

Yeah. No thanks.

Take a few and chill the hell out (badly titled, but I’m tired)

Don’t people realize what they look like? When you stand there and rant, complain, bitch, whatever you want to call it, don’t you understand you’re making yourself look like an incompetent moron in the public eye? Doesn’t it hit that no one takes you seriously?

You can’t spout hot air and expect those with common sense to utilize your knowledge.

Being spoiled does not immediately qualify you for a practice room. You’re not entitled, or above the rest of us. If the general populace has to wait five to ten minutes during rotation time for rooms, then by God, certain previously overindulged hotheads should have to suck it up as well.

If all is being done to open previously locked rooms, effective immediately, that should be satisfactory for the moment. In addition, the freshman rush will trickle down once this class learns that they will not be sent home for only putting in six hours as opposed to twenty. It’s already calmed significantly since the meeting last week, where practice room availability was discussed ad nauseum. There are actions being taken, but no swift solution.

But no, apparently it is Not Enough. Nothing can be done quickly enough to appease “the masses,” which, clearly, are breaking down the doors of Eastman to get rooms. That’s why students are rioting in the hallways and smashing pianos and screaming for more space.

Let’s be serious. Here, the music comes first. We’ve not all been previously privileged enough to assume that the practice rooms should clear when we stroll by. Most of us are musician enough and mature enough to sacrifice a little when it comes right down to it.

And let’s face it. Ten minutes in a day, to settle down, to sit down, to wait? Ten minutes to calm down and pause?

Too few of us take those moments. I’d suggest anyone really worked up about the issue to take a few and consider how much more effectively their time would be spent. Instead of complaining.

What a concept.