I will never hold an instrument and have the ability to create something wonderful. I will never be able to compose anything truly moving, anything memorable or special. I will never close my eyes and hear the sounds of an imagined tune that could change the world. I will never strum a guitar and hear all the possible songs of the world in the sound. I will never put my fingers on a piano's keys and feelt them move of their own free will, creating, living, freeing the melodies just beneath the surface. I will never hear the infinite potential of every note and all the million ways it could be arranged to mean something.
"fat slut" you said
what luck i said
to be stuck in your happy family
don't you dare, i said
you go and
stick it in somewhere
i'm sick of hearing it
go stick it in somewhere
i'm sick of hearing it
The Space Heater, by Sharon Olds
On the then-below-zero day, it was on,
near the patients' chair, the old heater
kept by the analyst's couch, at the end,
like the infant's headstone that was added near the foot
of my father's grave. And it was hot, with the almost
laughing satire of a fire's heat,
the little coils like hairs in Hell.
And it was making a group of sick noises-
I wanted the doctor to turn it off
but I couldn't seem to ask, so I just
stared, but it did not budge. The doctor
turned his heavy, soft palm
outward, toward me, inviting me to speak, I
said, "If you're cold-are you cold? But if it's on
for me..." He held his palm out toward me,
I tried to ask, but I only muttered,
but he said, "Of course," as if I had asked,
and he stood up and approached the heater, and then
stood on one foot, and threw himself
toward the wall with one hand, and with the other hand
reached down, behind the couch, to pull
the plug out. I looked away,
I had not known he would have to bend
like that. And I was so moved, that he
would act undignified, to help me,
that I cried, not trying to stop, but as if
the moans made sentences which bore
some human message. If he would cast himself toward the
outlet for me, as if bending with me in my old
shame and horror, then I would rest
on his art-and the heater purred, like a creature
or the familiar of a creature, or the child of a familiar,
the father of a child, the spirit of a father,
the healing of a spirit, the vision of healing,
the heat of vision, the power of heat,
the pleasure of power.
An LJ writing prompt for lack of better subject matter
Some people spend their whole lives preparing the answer to this question: What albums are on your personal all-time Top 10 list?
I took this to mean albums I can listen to the whole way through and never skip a song, albums that will always make me stop and listen for a bit, albums that make me remember. Not really the sort of things I would put onto mixes, just because I think the album in its entirety is so great. Got it? Okay.
"I have wished that each building around us
Was a cedar, a poplar, a pine;
That the men and the women were statues,
An the rain that was falling was wine;
That the lights were ethereal flowers;
That the cars were the nooks in the wood,--"
Ameen Rihani, Lilatu Laili
i don't think obama will make revolutionary changes or anything, BUT the fact that he won is really exciting to me. michigan approved medicinal marijuana use, massachusetts decriminalized the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana, and colorado and south dakota rejected anti-abortion proposals! this is so encouraging to me. i hope that as older, narrow-minded generations die off and younger, better educated people put their two cents in, the U.S. will become a more just, democratic place to live.
here's to hope.
and obama, you better use your power wisely, bitch!
"The Trans for Obama campaign continues! It's your time to stand up & be counted, trans democrats, independents, and republicans! If you're voting for Obama, why not make your vote count twice?
First, here's a reminder of an event way early in the campaign that has been forgotten by the "they're both against gay marriage" set: Obama made a point of shutting down homophobic sentiments when he could have just let the moment pass. For those who think that them both being against gay marriage means there's no difference between them when it comes to LGBT issues, please remember that McCain chose a running mate who is for "ex gay" therapy.
Then go look at these photos. I love that this photographer just kind of knew - as did Richard Avedon (watch till the end) - that Obama would become President Obama. Look at the one of his shoes. Of him cleaning up the drips from his ice cream. At the faces of the young people listening to and looking at him.
My firm belief is that Obama is an extraordinary president for extraordinary circumstances. [sic] That we are in the latter is in no doubt, considering this week's economic news; there are lay-offs happening in all sectors of the economy. That the former is true - that Obama is the right president for this time - is only something I can be sure of in my head and heart. His decision to run when he did, his unbelievable good planning with making it to the nomination = all of these things, the odds he's beat, tell me that his time is now.
And now it is yours. Go out and vote - early, if you can, to avoid the lines, or on November 4th."
My dad's buying me a Yaris hatchback sometime within the next week or two. It'll be really helpful for me if I get to finally drive myself back and forth between home and university. With my schedule being the ugly mess that it is, is it any wonder I find myself constantly exhausted, constantly waiting or constantly late?
In other news, I feel pretty good about being back in university. My saving graces are four classes in particular that I really enjoy. Four out of six is not bad, so I consider this semester a success so far. One of the four classes I've fallen in love with is a social behavioral science class called "Identity, Difference and Deviation in Society". I absolutely love it, because some of the biggest anthropological studies from about the 1960s and back seem obsessed with blaming social deviancy on repressed homosexual urges. I find it endlessly amusing on the one hand and pretty sick on the other, which means that all in all, I was made for this class, and this class was made for me.
So I guess the short version of this is, I'm tired and overloaded, but I'm relatively happy all things considered, and I'm doing ok. I miss Jay a lot, all the time, constantly, especially in the moments before I fall asleep, when in that haze between dreaming and being awake I reach out to the other side of the bed and am always surprised not to find him there, warm and peaceful and perfect in every way. I'm suffering by being away from him, and it causes a huge massive black hole in my life. In my heart, in my soul, in whatever you want to call it. I'm damaged and incomplete until I can be with him again.
But all things considered, I'm doing ok. How are you?
"Friday, September 26th ended a week in which thousands of copies of Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West -- the fear-mongering, anti-Muslim documentary being distributed by the millions in swing states via DVDs inserted in major newspapers and through the U.S. mail -- were distributed by mail in Ohio. The same day, a "chemical irritant" was sprayed through a window of the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton, where 300 people were gathered for a Ramadan prayer service. The room that the chemical was sprayed into was the room where babies and children were being kept while their mothers were engaged in prayers. This, apparently, is what the scare tactic political campaigning of John McCain's supporters has led to -- Americans perpetrating a terrorist attack against innocent children on American soil."
And when I googled this event, the only sources that showed this were blogs. No news sites whatsoever. The most remarkable source on the list was this Huffington Post article.
I'm in first grade. I'm five. I remember this so clearly, because it was so unusual, but it rained on my way to school in the morning. So my first grade teacher, a spunky American blonde that used to tie my long long braid into a knot whenever I wasn't paying attention, asked the class to write about the weather. And me, I have no idea why I decide to do this, but I write a poem.
"Today oh the weather,
God is very clever
To make the trees so nice and green
Oh, it is a lovely scene!
The flowers blooming, pink and blue,
Mom is driving on and through."
Don't ask me how it's possible I still remember this poem, but I do, every word, every syllable. Apparently, I was destined to be some sort of artist. I remember talking to Ms. Jackie - the spunky blonde - about it, and how she used to tell me I should go for it. Her assistant, a kindly Filipina named Ms. Evangeline, whose favourite colour was blue, told me I was the best artist she ever met. So writing wasn't really a part of the plan. God knows it wasn't a part of my mother's plan for me. No, as far as she was concerned, I was going to be a doctor.
But back to the poem, right?
Well, it gets published in the elementary section of the school newspaper, "The Lion's Roar". Me, I take a copy home and show my mother. I'm very proud. Ms. Jackie and Ms. Evangeline made it sound like such a big deal, the youngest student to get published in the Roar, kudos for me! But my mother, she smiled and said I should concentrate on my work more. So I did.
But skip a couple of years to the future, and really, I don't get along with anyone at home. My brother grows up in middle school and becomes the popular kid. He has fashionable haircuts, and he does Michael Jackson for the Talent Show. Girls love him. He gets me to call their houses and ask for them, in case their parents or their brothers pick up, so the girl doesn't get in trouble for talking to a boy.
My parents, they're getting busier and busier. Divorces take a lot of time and energy, I hear, but me, I'm suddenly eight years old in the fourth grade, and I sit in my room with the door closed and read all the time. At first I read little things. I read Betsy Byars and Beverly Cleary. But then my teacher starts to notice, and in fourth grade it's Mr. Robinson, who always writes on my progress reports that I'm a good student but that I have an unfortunate tendency to daydream. At home I sit in my room while my mother and father scream at one another at the top of their lungs, and sometimes things break, and my mother gets hurt or one of them storms out, slams the door loudly behind them and doesn't come home for the rest of the night. Who can blame me for always pretending to be somewhere else?
So in the fourth grade, Mr. Robinson asks me if I've ever heard of Moby Dick. Then he gives me this big fat book, and tells me to take as much time as I need reading it. I finish it in a month, and then he gives me Shakespeare.
I'm nine, ten, eleven, and all I do is sit in my room with the door closed and read. The house is quieter now. My parents are divorced, my brother goes out a lot - with girls, I bet - and no one really notices me. My mother, she laughs at how easy it is to forget I'm even there. My brother, he tells me I should go out there and get a life. Really, he says, it's too fucking weird that I spend so much time staring at books.
I'm thirteen, and I wear glasses. I cut off the long long braid at last, but I have bad teeth and I'm skinny as hell. I'm much darker than my mother or my brother, and my hair always looks like the product of a bad combination of fork and toaster. Also, my father's wife had a baby girl, and is about to have a baby boy. At this point, though, I'm so ugly being invisible is a blessing. I'm reading Jane Austen and thinking she's not all that great. I finish Pride and Prejudice and I'm so unimpressed, I sit down at the big clanky desktop computer in my brother's room and start writing my own story. In less than three months, I have over two hundred pages full of some action thriller crime stuff with a sharp, powerful heroine that no one ever takes seriously. This is complete trash, and when the computer ends up dying and the book disappears into the magical ether of computer memory hell, the computer has unknowingly done the world a favor. Still, this is something. I realize I can write.
I'm fifteen, and my mother is married and my brother's in Sharjah, failing university. I write a one thousand word essay on Romeo and Juliet. My teacher accuses me of plagiarism. "This," he says, "is college-level work. I won't report you to the principal, I'll just give you a zero for this assignment." Then he smiles and winks, like this will just be our secret. What a bastard.
I'm seventeen and I'm a senior in high school. My brother's moved back home and I'm sending college applications everywhere but Kuwait. I get accused of plagiarism again, but this is no big deal. I'm reading Herman Hesse and Ernest Hemmingway. I have a big crush on the International Baccalaureate English teacher, and I want to impress him. I read Jane Eyre and 1984. I read Wuthering Heights, and I ask him to marry me. He says no, but can he keep the ring? Apparently, he still has it. After I graduate and leave, I start writing another book. I think if I can just manage to become this big famous writer, big and famous enough that he'll come across my book, he'll finally notice me. It's so stupid, I laugh at myself before any of my friends laugh at me, but I write the book anyway.
So I'm walking around AUD asking anyone if they know a way I can reach a publisher. I'm asking everyone, and the English department points me to this guy sitting in an office that looks more like a Simpsons shrine than any sort of professional workplace. I give him my book, and I ask him to read it, and I bug him twice a week asking if he has until he does. Tenacity, I'm told, is an admirable quality.
On my eighteenth birthday, the Simpsons guy says I have a great 'voice'.
I don't really know why I'm surprised at how little I've accomplished, running around looking for someone to read it and then dogging them until they do. I realize suddenly that after all, the biggest difference is that now the grand total of people who have read my work is two. One of my friends gets a poem published in a book of poetry, and me, I'm still wondering why it was so important to me that someone else read it. Maybe I just wanted someone else to tell me I was a good writer.
So I write and I write and I write. By now, I'm living on the praise I got from my first grade teachers for that poem. I'm nineteen, and I'm in China, and I email this woman and ask her if she'll put me in her anthology. And she does.
There's a book on my shelf, an anthology called "The Wonderful World of Worders". I've read Haruki Murakami and Chuck Palahniuk and Erika Lopez and Don DeLillo and Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut and I'm still writing. I have had exactly 150 words published. I am a failure as a writer. No one reads what I write, because it's too intimidating. Somehow, without having ever read what I write, they know what kind of writer I am. They know how important it is to me. They know how long I've been writing. The truth is, writing is the only thing I've ever been good at without trying, just writing and reading. My parents, they're William Shakespeare and Mercedes Lackey. I'm twenty years old and I've read more books than most people I know combined. I read the great classics of literature, and I mock them because I can write better. And I do write, I just keep on writing, one book done, discarded and another book started all over again. Every once in a while, I browse the internet for ways to contact a publisher, but I never follow through. No one reads my writing but me. When I write short stories or thought-pieces, people will comment and say, "I like your style, but you use too many commas." "Your sentences are too long." "You have tons of fragments." "You really shouldn't end your sentences with a preposition." "You're very repetitive."
Everything I write gets discarded, and if some fragment of it remains it gets crushed and recycled and reused somewhere else, too strange to recognize. I reuse it and I recrush it and I reuse it again and again. I figure it can't make too much of a difference. After all, I'm the only one that reads what I write.
For those who still can't grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.
White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because "every family has challenges," even as black and Latino families with similar "challenges" are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.
White privilege is when you can call yourself a "fuckin' redneck," like Bristol Palin's boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll "kick their fuckin' ass," and talk about how you like to "shoot shit" for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.
White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.
White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don't all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you're "untested."
White privilege is being able to say that you support the words "under God" in the pledge of allegiance because "if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it's good enough for me," and not be immediately disqualified from holding office--since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the "under God" part wasn't added until the 1950s--while believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.
White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.
White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was "Alaska first," and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she's being disrespectful.
White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do--like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor--and people think you're being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college--you're somehow being mean, or even sexist.
White privilege is being able to convince white women who don't even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a "second look."
White privilege is being able to fire people who didn't support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.
White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God's punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you're just a good church-going Christian, but if you're black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you're an extremist who probably hates America.
White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a "trick question," while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O'Reilly means you're dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.
White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it a "light" burden.
And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren't sure about that whole "change" thing. Ya know, it's just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain...
Comprehensive national survey on transgender discrimination launched by National Center for Transgender Equality
and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Respond to the survey online at
"This is an absolutely critical national effort. We urge all transgender and gender non-conforming people to take the survey to help guide us in making better laws and policies that will improve the quality of life for all transgender people. We need everyone's voice in this, everyone's participation."— Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality
In the wake of one of the most violent years on record of assaults on transgender people, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force have teamed up on a comprehensive national survey to collect data on discrimination against transgender people in housing, employment, public accommodations, healthcare, education, family life and criminal justice.
To date, in 2008, several young gender non-conforming people of color have been murdered, including California junior high school student Lawrence King, who was shot in public during the school day. King's murder, and the murders of Simmie Williams in South Carolina and Angie Zapata in Greeley, Colorado come in a year in which we are still working to include transgender provisions in a federal bill to protect lesbian, gay and bisexual workers from discrimination in employment.
Hate crimes against transgender people suggest multiple points of vulnerability, which can compound each other: discrimination in employment may lead to unstable housing situations that in turn can leave transgender people at the mercy of public programs and public officials who may not respond respectfully or appropriately to them. These stressors add burdens in a healthcare system that is often unprepared for transgender people's needs. The list goes on. "We know that transgender people face discrimination on multiple fronts," said Mara Keisling, executive director of NCTE. "This data will help us sort out the combination of forces that leave transgender people vulnerable to unemployment, homelessness and violence."
Jaime Grant, director of the Task Force Policy Institute, noted, "There is so little concrete data on the needs and risks associated with the widespread discrimination we see in the lives of the transgender people we know. This data will help point the way to an appropriate policy agenda to ensure that transgender people have a fair chance to contribute their talents in the workplace, in our educational systems and in our communities."
NCTE and the Task Force have partnered with Pennsylvania State University's Center for the Study of Higher Education to collect and analyze the data. Applying rigorous academic standards to the investigation will strengthen any case made to legislators, policy makers, healthcare providers and others whose decisions impact the lives of transgender people. A national team of experts in survey research and transgender issues developed the questionnaire, which can be completed online at https://online.survey.psu.edu/endtransdiscrim/
Keisling notes: "This is an absolutely critical national effort. We urge all transgender and gender non-conforming people to take the survey to help guide us in making better laws and policies that will improve the quality of life for all transgender people. We need everyone's voice in this, everyone's participation."