the fear of change was finally smaller than the fear of staying the same.
my mother can tell you that i am an unbelievably anxious decision maker. as a small child, i would systematically allocate my allowance so carefully, so thoughtfully, long after my sister’s was gone. this – my natural and unstoppable constant stream of internal calculations – may not seem apparent on the street. a lot of people seem to think my life is whimsical. blowing in the wind. crazy bohemian burningman jetset freespiriting 24/7, unattached and unbound. but anyone who knows me, has seen me fret – and probably the people who read this blog with any regularity – know how untrue that is. how anxious i get, how i turn things over endlessly, how afraid i am to sign on dotted lines until everything has been weighed. calculated. and even then.
but while i calculate, weighing all the sides, fretting over the options, the what-ifs, the maybes, i am also waiting for things to reveal themselves, and i have belief in this - for something to emerge out of the cloud as an answer to all those complex quantum equations of love and life and spirit and soul and truth and justice, with their endless strings of if-then variables. and when that answer is shown – that is where my impulse is revealed, and the part that people see. when that is when i book the flight, buy the ticket, take the ride. because after all the calculation, i trust the answer when it appears and i feel it.
and so with that, i will tell you all now that after several months of anxiety and confusion, prefaced by several years of existential angst, endless calculations and nothing ever quite making itself known, i (we) have made a Big Decision.
Continue reading »
oh hey! look! i have a guestpost on Offbeat Home today!Filed in blogging, fashion, most linked/commented on, personal favorites | Tagged with NaBloPoMo, offbeat | Comment (0)
(In response to “50 Reasons to Love San Francisco” which was a response to “50 Reasons to Be Pretty Damn Euphoric You Live in New York City,” which, in its response to the NYC Haters, called for everyone to make a list for their city. so i did.)
in no particular order and without catering to anyone:
50. it’s usually at least 10 degrees warmer (and sunnier) than SF, sometimes 20, especially during fog season (July)
48. the hills: Joaquin Miller and Redwood Regional Parks
47. the Oakland Museum of California
46. Jack London Square, especially the First and Last Chance Saloon
45. the cranes!
44. conscious hip hop, esp The Coup
43. The Fox + Paramount Theatres
41. American Steel
40. Old Town bars & restaurants
39. “donettes” and french press coffee for brunch at Flora
38. the Chapel of the Chimes
37. the Piedmont Rose Garden
36. International Blvd – like the Mission before hipsters!
35. the Bordello
34. The Vulcan
33. The Crucible
30. Mama Buzz cafe, where the hipster watching is almost as good as their veg/vegan food (last time there: a table of 3 next to us: a chick knitting and smoking a joint saying really nonsensical “i’m so high” things while another girl read her facebook page out loud to the other 2 and a guy doing the total Joaquin Phoenix “I’m still Here” thing with the bushy beard and sunglasses. dude, that was 2009.)
29. people in oakland really are as weird as they look/act/seem, they’re not just TRYING to be
27. the A’s / Raiders – keepin’ it real
26. the Grand Lake Theatre marquee
25. the Grand Lake Farmer’s Market (sunday mornings)
24. Trestle Glen – so white-picket!
20. the Oakland Zoo, which i like better than the SF Zoo.
19. the Oakland Coliseum Swap Meet,, where you can find everything from on-site Chinese cupping services to your stolen bike
18. tapioca drinks from Chinatown
17. Temescal – awesome foods from Lanesplitters to Dona Tomas + now there is a Burma Superstar!
16. all the crazy incarnations of Eli’s Mile High Club
15. the Stork Club + The Uptown + 21Grand
14. the Parkway Speakeasy (RIP?)
8. cheaper rent for more space than the West Bay
7. Cafe van Kleef
6. Piedmont – Rockridge Shopping
4. Art Murmur!
1. being part of a truly multicultural urban renaissance
this list is not meant to be comprehensive or exclusionary. these things are off the top of my head and based on my own lifestyle/experience living in oakland – so please add more! and i know it was very hard for me to not to not list a bunch more restaurants…so i ask for you to please add things to do/places to go, not more places to eat unless they are *really* special
and yeah, i remember the KML spoof “Oakland Tourism” video of 2009. spare me.
UPDATE 11/10: TK has now done a “30 Reasons to Hate San Francisco“. i’d take his lead again and do the same for Oakland, but outside of “gangbanger crime”, actually i’d have a hard time coming up with as many, as we don’t have your SF problems! we can park almost anywhere!Filed in bay area gems, most linked/commented on, personal favorites, things you can do, travel | Tagged with NaBloPoMo, oakland | Comments (4)
“I give thanks to America, a country insane enough to declare the pursuit of happiness to be an inalienable right.”
i’m reading Susan Sontag’s most excellent book In America: A Novel, about a group of well-to-do Polish people who give up everything – for some of them including fame and wealth – to become farmers/settlers in Southern California around 1876. why would these people, who had everything, give it all up to work as field hands? the book is amazing at expounding on the thoughts/ motivations of the such early immigrants – The Dream of America was *so big* that even those who had everything in their homelands were willing to give it all up for a shot at The Dream. how many of those dreams came true?
relatedly, yesterday i shared on gReader and facebook this piece from Adbusters written by Michael Larson, a philosophy teacher from Pittsburgh:
That dominant ideal of modernity is tied to a notion of ever-expanding progress and limitless consumption. The oil crisis of 1973 signaled the onset of the postmodern malaise. “Our future was all of a sudden mortgaged,” writes Bourriaud in Altermodern. So while capital has continued expanding its reach in other areas, there has been a lingering denial – an inability to mourn the lost object and the dream’s impossibility. If this was the death of the dream, then our present reality of global warming, water and food shortages, market collapse and the continued proliferation of violent factionalism make it clear that we had better get on with mourning and confront the sorrow we have been trying to repress. Putting it off has only allowed the problems to grow.
We have had a century of continuity in which the basic operating assumptions of the economic system have been hegemonic. In fact this version of “modernity” was to have closed the book on history: We have reached the best of all possible worlds; there are no alternatives. Proclaiming the end of history intimates that our desires have been satiated and that there is nothing further to strive for.
i don’t read adbusters too much anymore because i think a lot of it IS too hopeless/ armageddonist/depressing, but i still subscribe to the online feed and what caught my eye about this one is that there has been something in my mind for a really long time now with respect to my particular demographic – educated middle class americans with plenty of food, clothing, shelter – that goes something like “WE HAVE EVERYTHING. WHY AREN’T WE HAPPY?”, which seems simple, but it is all heavy with a million questions about both of the words “everything” and “happy”, and extends way beyond myself and my community to America as a whole, and our self-image of always “the best. america is the best. the best of everything is here. it is yours to take if you work hard enough”.
but it turns out that maybe, just maybe, that isn’t true, that the American Dream was a fallacy, or, even worse: what if the “everything” isn’t enough when you get it? what if, when you get to the top run of the ladder – the house, the yard, the boat, the kids, the degrees, the “everything” – what if then that isn’t enough? it must be really depressing to get to the top and realize it’s not far enough.
my speculation is that, like the early Europeans who came from perfectly good lives with solid communities to risk everything on the American frontier, there is a part of human nature that is utterly insatiable, no matter what you give it, and that the “everything” we want isn’t as physical as we’ve been lead to believe – via consumerism, marketing – the “everything” is something intangible, and possibly unattainable. it’s what drives us as humans to do what we do. if it were attainable, how would we evolve?
my generation (X), and the next (Y) seems to be the first in a few to really FEEL this. we were taught, growing up in the 80s especially, that once certain things were attained, peace and happiness would follow. but all after our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents hard work, building industries and fighting for civil rights and freedom, those of us in the educated middle-class who have access to all the things our forefathers dreamed about, here we are, standing on the top rung of the ladder, and we’re still not happy, and the world – and the rest of the world – it’s even more of a mess than before.
that is why the one sentence that hit me most in this piece was “Jean-Paul Sartre described anguish as the recognition of responsibility and the ensuing need to act without guarantee, without hope.“ as Americans, we have a lot of responsibility in this world, as we consume most of the resources and control a lot of the politics. but what hope can we feel now about it all, when it seems we inherited a wealth of square pegs but none of them fit in what turned out to be round holes?
so then finally, the author asks:
So we find ourselves in this moment of rupture, precariously exposed to risk and perhaps devoid of hope. Can we think of these facts as possibilities? Can we confront our situation and imagine what things might be like otherwise, even without guarantees? The end of history has reached its end. Can we be the ones we have been waiting for?
i also felt a lot of this, but wasn’t able to express it, during Obama’s HOPE campaign, like all of Democratic and minority America felt like everything had been done – all the groundwork was laid out, and now everyone was pinning their future on one man/one moment that was going to seal the deal. HOPE is what Obama tried to sell us, and for the election season, we bought it. but here we are 1+ years later, and people are getting depressed because the whole world didn’t change when Obama took office.
so what about now? we have to stop waiting for the thing that is going to save us. we have to stop standing on the top rung of the ladder, thinking there is no where else to go. we have the tools to build a new future. we are what we have been waiting for.Filed in culture and random linkage, most linked/commented on, personal favorites, philosophical ramblings, things you can do | Tagged with adbusters, democracy, happiness | Comment (0)
last night on PBS there was a special about Sesame Street and their global productions.
i had no idea they produced localized versions all around the world, especially in war-torn and developing countries, places where poverty and racism and disease run rampant. and when i say localized, i don’t mean that Big Bird gets dubbed over and everything looks the same. i mean that they send in teams to develop and film on-site, using local children, local music, local language, different puppets that reflect their surroundings, and, in addition to the Alphabet and 1-2-3′s, focus the content on what’s most important to teach the children where they are: the puppets on Sesame Street in Bangladesh discuss unexploded ordnance, in Kosovo the Serbian and Albanian puppets broach topics of racism, nationalism and genocide, and one of the puppets on the South African version had HIV and talked about her mother dying of AIDS, which caused a national controversy here in the U.S.
watching how hard the producers worked to develop these localized versions for these children who in many cases have no other means of education, sometimes putting themselves in very uncomfortable positions (getting the Serbs and the Albanians to be in one room together proved to be monumental) and even in the middle of conflicts and wars, all to try to get positive, educational television to children was really perspective-shifting. i never really even thought about how Sesame Street in the U.S. was revolutionary in the early 1970s, having a completely integrated cast and discussion topics like racism and sexism (in 2-4 year old terms), but UXO? AIDS? genocide? wow. kudos to PBS for funding these kinds of efforts and for realizing that, in some places, the children really are the only future some communities have, and reaching them, teaching them, is honestly of global importance.
Filed in art, culture and random linkage, most linked/commented on, personal favorites, tv, books and movies | Comment (0)
There are several things that we hope that people take from the film. Number one is reflected in a quote that Anu Gupta of Sesame Workshop said: “Children are not born haters, they are taught to hate.” We were so surprised to find three- and four-year-old Serbians and Albanians in Kosovo talking about each other with distrust and hatred.
at first i was afraid of the act itself, but with some words of encouragement, i soon got over that. later, it was realizing that with the internet, what would have formerly been a discrete (and discreet) experience now lives on forever in the public eye.
walking down a runway in front of 300 of my peers with nothing on top, a corset, and hotpants. no bra, no shirt, no pants, no skirt, no fishnets, no tights. this might not be that big of a big deal, like going to the beach, if it weren’t on a runway, but getting up on a stage on a bathing suit would also be incredibly uncomfortable for most women. therefore, i almost turned down the opportunity to do this thing that i really wanted to do because of body shame, and also because of a nagging question that goes something like: what kind of girl does that make me?
what does it matter? some antiquated thoughts about being a properly lady mixed in with the memories of my father not wanting me to wear long earrings and my parents upset at my first tattoo rattling around and up against my rebellious nature and my feelings that our culture is so incredibly stupid about bodies and what they mean and are meant for, wanting to say “fuck you” to the notion that “nice girls”, smart girls, real women don’t have flaming red hair and tattoos and they would never, ever take their clothes off.
so at the moment at the fitting when i had to decide “yes i will do this” or “no i won’t”, despite my anxiety, i couldn’t bring myself to look at the designer and say “no, i’m sorry, i can’t do that.” i realized i would be more ashamed of saying “no, i can’t do that” than i would be of being naked. so i said yes. partly to challenge myself, to do the thing that scares me, and partly to be part of the growing movement that says hey: first of all, stop making us feel ashamed of our bodies, and also: sexy+woman does not = any lesser an anything.
i also recalled vera’s similar experience over a year ago, and the feedback she was given: “You’re totally fine. Enjoy this. One day you’ll be 90, and your body won’t look like this anymore. Be thankful for what you have now.”
but then watching some horrible reality show on VH1 the other day i see women with fake boobs and lip injections and hair extensions and stripper shoes – and i struggle to balance my image of myself and how i might appear to other people against that extreme. i don’t want to look like *them*. but now, with this, who thinks that about me?
i know mainstream culture has come a long way around on not judging books by their covers, but it will never be full circle. millions of years of DNA and basic human nature prevents that. so was this some sort of post – post- feminist (re)action, or playing into generations of objectification? so many strippers will tell you that they are feminists, and that they are not the ones being used, but the users.
i’ve been waiting all week to see how i would feel when the photos came out, knowing i can’t take it back. i don’t have any regrets about it. yet. and i don’t know if i will or won’t.
in short – this is one of the bravest and most uncomfortable things i’ve done in a while; i think i needed to push that line to see who i really was/am in that respect, and i’ve been processing it for days. any harsh comments will promptly be deleted; i’ve thought enough about it already.Filed in autobiographical, me myself and i, most linked/commented on | Tagged with feministing | Comments (14)
last night i read a 4-year-old (2005) Time magazine that had a 30-something page special on the American obesity epidemic (that’s where that last post came from), and one of the articles was Can You Be Fat and Healthy? there was a lot of easy to absorb and interesting comparative information in there about being physiologically fit vs. perceived as healthy just by weight and pant size. and then the question:
If you eat well, work out regularly and walk away from your doctor’s office with straight A’s on your physical, what does it matter if you can’t wriggle into slim-cut jeans?
yes, what does it matter, really? why can’t we just be happy in our bodies as long as we’re healthy? how has body image become so twisted?
and then today, thx to Tiny Cat Pants, i read this article about the Minnesota Starvation Experiment (see wikipedia also), which should absolutely be read beginning to end, especially by any women who restrict their calories for diet purposes, but i’ll post a few eye-opening findings here about the effects of a 1,600 restricted-calorie diet on grown men, noting that 1,600 calories is a lot more than a lot of people on diets, especially people on CLEANSES, allow themselves to eat:Filed in culture and random linkage, food, health & vegetarianism, me myself and i, most linked/commented on, personal favorites | Tagged with diet, feministing, fitness, obesity | Comments (12)
i have known and spent a lot of time with someone for almost 9 years now who drinks at least 2 cups of coffee every day, and never, ever, brings a reusable cup. i have been using a resuable cup every day for the same amount of time. so: 9 years x 365 days x 2 cups = ~6,570 paper cups, with plastic lids, that he has disposed of, while i have used ~1.
this kind of thing drives me nuts. i mean, on a rare occasion, i will get a to-go cup, if i forgot mine, or i am wanting a beverage at unusual place and time and without container. but why does someone who HABITUALLY drinks coffee at the same time, from the same place, refuse to bring a cup? i even bought him one once. he never used it. i, on the otherhand, will often forgo getting a drink when i am thirsty because i don’t have a cup, or getting food to go when i am hungry because i don’t want to get the plastic forks/spoons/containers. it can wait.
people sometimes think i’m being really ridiculous about this. but i do, honestly, i do, think that every. single. thing. matters. but i find i am often alone in this, especially about the cups.
and so i was SO EXCITED when i recently watched this TED video, in which Chris Jordan uses statistics about disposable cups to try to visually show the impact of people not recognizing their individual actions as collectively consequential.
i really like this talk because he gets into exactly why i get so unnerved about things like disposable cups in a way i could never before articulate, and then makes a really beautiful point in the end about our culture and mindfulness.
watch it.. it’s only 11 minutes.
the thing about cups haunts me.
40 million paper cups. every. single. day. mostly for coffee.
410,000 every 15 minutes.
think about it. please. (also embedded below)Filed in culture and random linkage, environment, most linked/commented on | Tagged with plastic, TED | Comments (13)
The Places We Live features panoramic photos of slums, narrated by the people who live there (through translators). Really really engrossing. To access the stories in the restricting Flash interface, skip the intro, click on a city, and then on one of the households in the upper left corner.
all the press about Slumdog Millionaire has created a lot of awareness about the slums abroad, which is great, but what about poverty here in america? last night, jay and i watched “Brother’s Keeper“, a documentary about the murder trial of a poor illiterate farmer from upstate NY. it was one of the most heartbreaking, and heartwarming, things i’ve seen in a really long time. i literally ACHED watching this film. related to the website about slums because these 3 farming brothers lived, in the 1990s, without water or heat in a shack on their delapidated family farm, all sleeping in one bed, and when the murder trial hit the news, no one could believe that they lived that way, right here in America. the footage of the news coverage of the way these men lived is downright degrading, painting a sort of “Deliverance” picture of the brothers and their community, not to mention the treatment by the D.A., who basically accused them of being monsters and deviants. there are slums in america too; maybe not as sprawling or populated as Mumbai or Jakarta, but there are places in this country where people live their whole lives without ever having enough to eat, or sleep 3 to a bed, or only own one pair of filthy pants. “hillbillies”, sometimes they’re called, but as this movie shows, in modern america, outside of the visibly homeless in our streets, the impoverished are usually ignored and marginalized to the point that most people don’t even believe they exist.
i also recently watched Reel Paradise, about an american family that moves to poverty-stricken Fiji and opens up a free movie theatre. the movie gets a little tedious, but i think portrays the lessons of being the “rich white people” in a impoverished community, as well as reflections on what it means to be rich or poor in this world.
all of these things make me both incredibly grateful for all that i have, but also incredibly sad that there are so many suffering, and the numbers just keep growing every day, usually due to the rich trying to get richer.
however, unlike in Slumdog, where poverty is portrayed as obviously oppressive, in both Brother’s Keeper and Reel Paradise, there is also a questioning, an implication, that maybe the simpler life isn’t so bad, and maybe being poor shouldn’t be equated with being unhappy.Filed in culture and random linkage, most linked/commented on, tv, books and movies | Tagged with poverty | Comments (11)
Columnist David Brooks, commenting in the Dec. 16th New York Times about Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book called “Outliers,” made a statement as profound as it was accurate: “Control of attention is the ultimate individual power,” he wrote. “People who can do that are not prisoners of the stimuli around them.”
But why is that truer now than ten or twenty years ago? Why will it be truer still ten or twenty years from now? As I wrote in May, Internet distractions evolve to become ever more “distracting” all the time — like a virus. Distractions now “seek you out.”
Distractions mask the toll they take on productivity. Everyone finishes up their work days exhausted, but how much of that exhaustion is from real work, how much from the mental effort of fighting off distractions and how much from the indulgence of distractions?
Pundits like me are constantly talking about Facebook, Twitter, blogs and humor sites, not to mention old standbys like e-mail and IM. One gets the impression that we should be “following” these things all day long, and many do. So when does the work get done? When do entrepreneurs start and manage their businesses? When do writers write that novel? When do IT professionals keep the trains running on time? When does anyone do anything?
~via axelalbin@twitter. (ha!)
(i suck at the new work ethic.)Filed in culture and random linkage, most linked/commented on | Comments (21)