Monday, March 30, 2009

My Ode to Fried Pickles

You were once a cucumber,
You were once some flour,
Together, you're quite a number,
Quite a power.

After the dilling...
And after the frying...
The taste in my mouth so filling,
one bite leads to sighing.

In the form of slices or spears,
you can bring a grown woman to tears.
You give my appetite the tickles,
Oh, how I love you, fried pickles.

Haha, I am not a poet. And I figure out the best ways to procrastinate!

Now playing: Rufus Wainwright - Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Reflections on RAOK

R.A.O.K. -- also known as Random Acts of Kindness. I promote them. But rarely do I like to talk about my own. Talking about the random acts of kindness you personally do, I believe, can undermine the act itself. What I mean by this is that I feel that by telling others about the moments when you do something kind for someone at random one can easily slide into a moment of hedonism -- a moment of boasting about your perceived innate kindness, rather than an opportunity to inspire others to follow suite. To avoid falling into this self-tooting of one's horn, I prefer to keep these stories to myself. Seeing as how I love to talk and share my life stories (or something that loosely resembles a story, because who am I kidding? I babble a lot), I consciously choose to avoid talking about the RAOK I do. After almost every instance of a RAOK, I find myself falling into an intense state of self-reflexivity. This state I more often than not move into is more than likely the reason I prefer to keep my RAOK to myself. A recent RAOK I did occurred about a month ago, and it has lingered in my mind longer than usual. Therefore, I am momentarily forgoing my habitual ways of not sharing my RAOK. This isn't necessarily to attempt to inspire someone or make someone think about something in a different way -- I am really doing it for more selfish reasons. Writing it out enables me to re-digest it.

Enough with the disclaimer. About a month ago I was crossing Guadalupe, the drag that runs on the Westside of campus directly next to CMA, on a mission for food. Heading north en route to feed my face with something yummy from Spicy Pickle, I was stopped by a girl probably about my age for money to buy something to eat at Jack-in-The-Box -- a common occurrence not only in Austin, but particularly on the drag. When one hungry stomach meets another I sympathize, for I am sure she was much more famished than I. Seeing as how I am a firm believer in seeing the outcome of your investments -- that is to say, I am hesitant to celebrate the act of money donations, I offered to buy her lunch, instead of giving her my spare change. She agreed. And without hesitation, we walked into Jack-in-The-Box. We briefly chatted while in line, and I told her she could order whatever she wanted. When it was our turn to order, she asked for some breakfast tacos and a shake. After some playful banter with the energetic black transgendered woman taking out order, I told the girl that I was going to head out and that I hope she enjoys her meal. After moments of silence from both of us, my social anxiety kicked in, and so I decided to leave. I smiled, said goodbye, and walked out the door. Patting myself on the back, I felt happy to at the very least fill her stomach and at the most give her hope that someone -- even a stranger -- can care about her. And so, I bounded across the street in the direction of the Spicy Pickle. Arriving at my destination hungry and happy, I swung open the door in anticipation to fill my own stomach and immediately the hunger pain shifted to a nauseating sickness. Never before had I experienced so consciously my class position. The scents, sights, and people were significantly different from the space of the Jack-in-The-Box. Instead of a black transgendered woman standing behind the register, it was a straight-edged, white girl taking orders while clean-cut (by Austin standards this means well-maintained facial hair) white dudes preparing the food behind her -- as opposed to the predominantly Hispanic employees at Jack-in-The-Box. I never felt a more overwhelming feeling of guilt. Here I am an upper-to-middle class graduate student at the University of Texas attempting to make someone's day by giving them food and maybe some hope in a greasy paper bag. For someone who spends her days critiquing capitalism and it's spawn: gluttonous consumption and taboo class issues, here I was blatantly participating in it by performing my class identity. Often, I do indeed realize and reflect upon my own privileged position, but words really cannot describe the overwhelming feeling that came over me the moment I walked into Spicy Pickle. I seriously felt physically ill -- a wall of privilege knocked the wind out of me.

So, after replaying this scenario out in my head and reflecting upon my actions and the girl I met that day, I am left in a state of total distraught. One thing this experience did was snap me out of sleepwalking through my life as a privileged individual. Undeniably, I don't think about this everyday nor through every action I make, but I certainly have more moments of awareness because of it. As a woman with an often ambiguously read racial and ethnic identity, I think I can easily slip into a mode of being where I easily and sometimes aggressively point to occurrences in my life experiences that exemplify how I have been easily slotted into a not-so privileged position. It gives people some amount of social capital to talk about how they come from something or somewhere not-so-great to a position of higher privilege, but continue to encounter moments of some kind of -ism (racism, sexism, etc.). Grappling with all of this can be quite exhausting. While this whole experience can easily allow me to say to hell with doing anything like this again, I'd rather not completely disregard my act. Keeping this experience in mind brings a new layer of awareness to anything and everything I decide to do -- particularly when it comes to RAOK. What ever the underlying politics may be from doing such acts, there's something inexplicable and potentially powerful about giving someone your time and, thus, cultivating the opportunity for an exchange of smiles and dialogue (no matter how awkward your social anxiety makes it) to occur between strangers.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mister Rogers is kind of a badass...

although he'd probably never refer to himself as one. :)

This made my night...

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's Funny How Things Happen...

After making the decision tonight to slip into my pjs, cuddle up with a book, and go to bed tonight to rise early and do work, I decided to pick up my journal from the summer I spent studying in Paris. I began to read the last few entries and feel compelled to copy word for word my last entry (albeit it very fragmented -- it was hand written). These last few weeks have been tiresome for me, and I have come to realize the excess worrying and emotions that have engulfed my life and, therefore, ability to remain positive about basically everything. Unfortunately, I have seen the manifestations of this negativeness. Therefore, tonight I made the conscious decision to shift my train of thought. And I would never imagine that it would be my own words that would give me the strength I so desperately was seeking. It's quite funny how things happen...

July 2005

So it's my last night here. I don't want to fall asleep. I really feel so sad I'm leaving tomorrow. Being here has been so amazing. Living with this family and taking classes... really feeling at ease in this city has been incredible. I really don't want to fall asleep tonight to wake up and have to leave. The past few days I have really been excited to go home, but now that it's here all I want to do is stay longer. I love this city. I cannot wait to come back. I have learned so much. I couldn't say what all I have learned, bc it is indescribable. I wish so badly that I ha the ability to remember everything I saw, touched, and smelled. Even the stinky Metros. I want to remember the way this house smells. The blind man and his dog T saw almost everyday on my way to IES. The awesome boulangerie sandwiches. Note to self: put hard-boiled eggs on sandwiches. I want to remember the feelings I had when I first saw the Eiffel Tower from the Metro. I want to remember the Rose 9 Euro and Monsieur Miel... and the creme brulee I had. I want to remember the people at IES and the awesome food we had at the farewell lunch... my teachers Sophie and Jeanne. My Franglais. My caramel tea in the mornings. And the morning I dropped the jar of coffee on the floor... how horrible the showers were... the noises throughout the comfy bed...the beauty of Sacre Coeur...the expensive nights out...these mixed emotions...puking in the IES garden after drinking a plastic bottle of wine...being so happy to feel like I bonded with my family one last night or time...walking down the street listening to people speak and how I can understand most of it. Seeing the Eiffel Tower sparkle makes you feel giddy...meeting people here...all different types of people...people who I have learned to tolerate and who made me think about myself. And the girls that I have truly become great friends with -- these girls that I can say or do anything with. They have been amazing. I am so lucky to have done this. I kept thinking tonight at I watched the show at the party about how I am so damn luck and there has to be someone up there who really loves me and is giving me days like today that can make me feel this way. I feel like I have it all. And if there comes a time when I'm not like this or do not feel like this I should know and have faith that a day like today will come again...because these amazing days do happen...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tattooed Under Fire

Tattooed Under Fire is a documentary by UT Prof. Nancy Schiesari that tells reveals the significance of tattoo work for a number of US soldiers before and after their Iraqi deployment. I had the amazing opportunity to work as her GRA (graduate research assistant) last semester on post-production projects for the film project. One of which was a short video profile for the tattoo artist Brannon Grant that can now be seen on the website. If you get the opportunity to see the film, I highly recommend it. It is powerful and portrays an important perspective. Check out the website Tattooed Under Fire and watch my clip! You can find it on the "Video Extras" page.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


QuirkAlone may be the outlet and arena I have been looking for. I'd rather not butcher the mission statement of this site, so here's their "About Us" page:

Who We Are

Quirkyalones are people who enjoy being single (but are not opposed to being in a relationship) and prefer being single to dating for the sake of being in a relationship.

Quirkyalone is not anti-love. It is pro-love. It is not anti-dating. It is anti-compulsory dating. We tend to be romantics. We prefer to be single rather than settle. In fact, the core of quirkyalone is the inability to settle. We spend a signficant chunk of our lives single because we hold relationships to a high standard.

Are quirkyalones loners? Not necessarily. Quirkyalones often value friendship very highly. We're often very social people. But we do value occasional solitude. Quirkyalones are often creative and need time alone to allow thoughts to fully form.

It's Not Just For Single People

Quirkyalones is a mindset that transcends relationships status. It's a newly articulated set of ideas about being in single and in relationships expressed through a set of vocabulary‹quirkyalone, quirkyslut, and quirkytogether‹that's designed to inspire conversation in a fun, ironic way.

It's a tool for conversation about singledom and relationships in a new era where unmarried households are becoming a majority.

A quirkyalone can also be quirkytogether (quirkyalone in a relationship). A quirkyslut maintains high standards for a romantic relationship, but becomes more flexible for the Saturday (or even Tuesday) night encounter.

(My emphasis added)

Oh! It's websites like these that give me a boost on days when my usually optimistic attitude is running low. Last night, I had quite the epiphany regarding dating...I'm super tired now (and in Chicago needing to sleep to prepare for my conference tomorrow!), but I have the intention of posting more about it within the next couple days. I know I've sworn off blogging about my love life, but my epiphany certainly presents a number of ideas that I feel transcend my love life. For now -- I'm signing out with my results from taking the "Are you QuirkyAlone?" Quiz:

Very quirkyalone:
Relatives may give you quizzical looks, and so may friends, but you know in your heart of hearts that you are following your inner voice. Though you may not be romancing a single person, you are romancing the world.

Romancing the world! That's exactly how I'd explain it :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

And so it continues...

A clip from CNN I found on confronts the ways in which the McCain campaign continues to exercise their sexist logic. While I, of course, am not a fan of Sarah Palin and her stance on basically everything, I most certainly am interested in doing what Campbell Brown suggests the McCain campaign should do -- that is to say, FREE SARAH PALIN!

Amen, sister...