Category Archives: Quandaries

Random Thoughts and Sleep Deprivation

I am running on zero minutes of sleep. No, seriously, I’m not even exaggerating. I haven’t closed my eyes in two days.

And you know what, I feel OK. Granted, I just ate a tasty wrap-thang and walked through the crisp air, hearing the Hare Krishnas sing their praises on the plaza. But overall, I don’t want to crawl in the hole and cry myself to sleep.

This comes to the point of my delirious chatting: Human beings are freakin’ resilient.  I mean, I am not even a good example, but I worked all day yesterday, all through the night and morning, presented a serious paper for Medical Anthropology, listened to a bunch of boring presentations without passing out, talked to a teacher without making a complete arss out of myself, and now I sit here in class typing away like a diligent little girl, AND I found time between all that to brush my teeth, wash my face, and apply mascara (haha). Awesome!

I know in about fifteen minutes I’ll start yawning and cursing the gods for my terrible academic habits, but for right now I want to sing my own praises.

Humans have overcome all sorts of obstacles with much less going for them than I.  We built a spaceship that rocketed to the moon!  We know how to cut people open, remove guts, and then sew them back together!  We survive in the Arctic circle with hardly more than a gas stove, long johns, and a fishing pole (don’t quote me on that)!  Humans defeat obstacles with terrible odds, and for that, I can say “rubba dub dub, Yay Humans“!  Sure, we’re nasty brutes who kill and rape and pillage the Earth and our fellow apes, but here we are, a product of all sorts of random and sweet natural selection who can stay up for days and still be somewhat comprehensible! Yay!

Although I abuse my body for four weeks out of every year (two weeks a semester at finals time), I’m appreciative of our physical freedom to do so.  And dammit, I’m proud of myself for pushing to excel at this school endeavor, despite my occasional slacking-off and inexcusable procrastination.

Anyone and everyone who has ever stayed up all night and resisted the temptation to just say F**K IT ALL, Cheers! Let’s be resilient, prove our selves wrong, and kick some a*s!!!

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No answer to suffering

I thought I’d ask the age old question: Why do we suffer?

This question came to me tonight after talking with a friend who’s recently lost his mother to cancer, who’s father is a survivor of cancer, and whose uncle is slowly dying from cancer as well.  They were all healthy, good people.

My friend is struggling for meaning in his life, for hope, for the energy to cope with the pain that’s been unceasing the past few years.  He simply cannot comprehend why this tragedy has struck his family, and it’s lead to his declaration of atheism and his overall indifference toward the joys of life.

My friend is a good man, in no way deserving of this pain, of these hopeless circumstances.

People have struggled with the problem of suffering for thousands of years.  Hindus credit it to bad past lives, to Christians it’s the ultimate mystery.  If God is so great, why is there so much pain? So much doubt? So much terribleness?

I, for one, have no idea, and will never claim to have the answer. It’s plaguing me this evening though, and I wish I had something better to say to comfort my friend.

I know that one should treasure life and live each day to the fullest, yada yada yada, but that’s not good enough. Not when so many people feel their mortality approaching faster with every breath.

Why is there so much pain? Why are entire families wiped out by this silent, painful killer?

How can one remain hopeful when so much despair looms in every facet of their life? How can one confront and challenge such despair?

All I know to do is, hold on. Hold on and surround yourself with goodness. And breath.

We don’t know why life can be so egregious, but I do know that if we still have breath, we should savor it, take it in deeply, and feel it.

Hold on.

A line from a script I read in theatre camp went something like this,

“Life is like a swing. It goes up, down, back, forth. We can just hold on and wait for life to swing back up, that there will always be highs and lows and they are in constant flux.  Hold on to the swing.  Hold on. ”  

 

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Do people change?

Do people ever really change?

Or do we just evolve, learn and grown in small ways while remaining the same essential person?

I mean, even after a tremendous heartbreak or the loss of a loved one, do we ever truly change from the experience?

Does our essence ever change course or are we destined to have mostly the same thoughts, feelings, perspectives, and attitudes for the rest of our lives?

Even if these things change, will we act differently? Will we see the world anew?  Will we be better people after such change?

Will we stop making the same mistakes?  I’d like to think that people can actually change, but I just don’t know. Evidence seems to suggest otherwise.

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If I could change one thing…

“If you could change one thing about our life right now, what would it be?”

The answer to this question eludes me. I have so many regrets.  I wish several things were different.  I would change the way I’ve treated people. I would change how I’ve let other people treat me.

I would wish I had a good-paying job. I would wish that the dog I care for could be truly my dog.

I could change my occasional shitty attitude. I would change the way I tend to judge people right off the bat, and harshly too.  I would be more social. I would change the fact that I procrastinate.

I would change the fact that I’m lonesome. I would  prefer to not secretly wish that I had a significant other as the nights get darker, colder, and increasingly desolate by myself.

I would change to be nicer. More patient. More kind.

I would change and take a bit of my own advice.

I would not live in this house with people that increasingly piss me off. I wish I didn’t get so pissed off.

There’s an awful lot that I would change…

The big one that keeps popping up in my head is my wish that I had treated people better in the past few years. Hell, the past decade. I was a shit head to my parents for the longest time. And then I had a high school sweetheart whose heart I essentially broke. I was a crazy person for a years that followed. Failed a couple classes and got involved in bad stuff before hitting rock bottom and finally learning that my actions have consequences, for myself and others. I could take away that year and be a bit happier, that’s for sure. Later I met a good man. An impatient, grumpy asshole to be sure. But overall he was a good man. That ended horribly. And I often look back upon the way I handled situations and wish I said or done something different to change what I know now was an inevitable outcome.  I haven’t always been kind to one of my best friends. And I’ve been too hard on my mom. Shit… now the thoughts just keep rolling in. There is a lot I could change.

But, at the same time, I guess I’m this person because I’ve messed up so many times. I mean, if I didn’t have these regrets or realizations of my own flawed, wild, sometimes stupid, simply wrong, and utterly plagued self, I wouldn’t have learned a damn thing. At least I’ve got some experience under my belt.

So I guess if I could change one thing, to get this ordeal over with, I wouldn’t change anything about myself. I’m fine right where I am.

Instead of me, I would change something for someone who really deserves it.

I would change the fact that my folks aren’t rollin’ in the dough any longer and secretly grant them a bunch of money.  I don’t know how much is a ‘bunch’, but I want them to have all their debts paid (my college loans especially), and I want them to take an awesome vacation for their 25th wedding anniversary.

My mother and father have put up with a lot of shit because of me. From my overall crazy, rebellious, stubborn, center-of-the-universe attitude to the actual trouble involving the law, police, and the ridiculous amounts of stress that occurs as a result of dealing with our glorious criminal justice system, they deserve a lifetime of vacations.

They have saved me in more ways than I can count.  Financially, emotionally… they’ve stuck by me through thick and thin. My parents love me despite things I’ve done that I don’t share with anybody.

So screw changing my situation. I just want my parents to be happy and comfortable for the rest of their lives. I want to fill their bank accounts and shoo them off to Hawaii where they can eat bon bons and snorkel and hike… anything they want to do. God knows they deserve it.

My folks. They rock. And they deserve a vacation.

 

I don’t know if that’s the answer the prompt was looking for, but that’s all I can come up with.

 

 

 

 

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How to be depressed

These past couple weeks I’ve been feeling quite depressed for no specific reason at all. I’ve been irritable with friends and generally impossible to please.  As a result, I’ve decided to compile a list of a few things that will teach you how to be depressed and cranky just like me.

1.  Drink a bottle of wine to yourself and watch a heartbreaking romance movie.

Not only will the wine make you feel loopy and completely alone, the movie will make you cry and sob your heart out over the lost love, the high school sweetheart, or the imaginary boyfriend waiting outside your front door that never shows up. Guarantees a headache, puffy eyes, and malaise for the entirety of the following day.

2.  Quit every healthy regime you’ve worked hard to implement into your life.

Screw going to the gym three times a week.  And chose the hamburger over the salad.  Skip the vitamins, skip the fresh air for a strong cigarette.  Drink multiple kinds of liquor in an evening at the bar. Forget showering and brushing your teeth.  Bask in filthy clothes and beer breath. Don’t get out of bed for anything.

3.  Harbor resentment.

Let every little thing that annoys you fester inside until your blood is boiling and you’re imagining great insults to spew at the unlucky roommate who doesn’t rinse their dish.  Dig up old drama with a friend and insist on always being right.  Bitch about everything and everyone who isn’t perfect just like you.  Read old diaries to stir up anger from years ago.  Blame parents, friends, ex-boyfriends for your piss-poor mood.

4.  Look at everyone else’s pictures online and see how much fun they’re having and how happy everyone is but you.

Your ex has a beautiful new girlfriend and they’re getting engaged! Yay!  Your girl friend went to a party without you and obviously had such a great time.  That one friend has lost weight and is so cute in her pretty little dress.  I wanted to buy that dress but it didn’t fit me…

5.  Don’t make any effort whatsoever to cheer up or engage with humanity whatsoever.

Don’t go out. Don’t even go upstairs to fry an egg. Stay right there on the couch or the bed and eat those cheetos. Don’t shower or put on a cute shirt. Whatever you do, do not accept an invitation to grab beers at a once-favorite brewery. Don’t even answer your phone. Don’t look at movie times. Going to the movies is your favorite thing so don’t even consider it.

6.  Do not investigate your sadness or express your sadness in a healthy way.

Don’t write a poem, don’t paint, don’t journal, don’t dance, don’t exercise. Don’t call a friend for comfort.  Don’t express any angst effectively. Complain, whine, and bitch, please.

There you have it. This is a preliminary list of things to do/not do to continue being a bitchy little victim of the evil forces in the universe. Now wipe off that smile and start crying, dammit!

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A Thought on Columbus Day

Columbus Day is the twelfth of this month, and I thought the day would be a good occasion for some contemplation and awareness.

I went and saw The Canary Effect on campus this evening, a film about how Native Americans were effectively exterminated from the United States during and following colonialism, and how Native Americans continue a relentless struggle in a plethora of socioeconomic and political spheres.

The film was infuriating and impassioning.

I looked down at my shoes, I was wearing moccasins.  I’m sure these weren’t made by Indians at Pine Ridge, and I’m even more sure that Natives don’t benefit from my wearing the style of shoe they created.  I felt slightly sick to my stomach.  Was I aiding the subjugation of American Indians by wearing these shoes? Was I another ignorant American, exploiting these people for selfish reasons?

I took a deep breath.

I left feeling major white-girl guilt and anger, but at the same time, empowered and determined to make the world a better place.

After the film, I asked how I, a 23 year old middle-class college student, could ever create positive change for Native American populations without being condescending or ineffectual.  Another girl gave a good answer.

She suggested that we become aware. That as individuals we do research and get the facts.  That we seek to understand Native cultures and truly see the reasons for why so many of them are desperately troubled.

She also noted that we must become critical consumers.  We must question what we’ve been taught in our public school systems and be critical of the bias we encounter in our textbooks.  We can also stand up for the Native community, so that when someone says, “Oh, why give them[Native groups] any funding or aid? They have casinos so now they’re rich”.  We can then politely inform them that in fact, 90% of American Indians are in NO WAY affected by the gaming initiatives.

We can confront biases and ignorance in the media.  We can kindly remind each other the truth of what happened to the Native population, that by 1890, 98% of American Indians had been killed, and after that thousands of Native women were forcibly sterilized, and thousands of Native Children were ripped from their families and put into Christian boarding schools that sought to completely deconstruct their Native identity.

Today, natives are seven times more likely to commit suicide than the majority white population. Substance abuse is twice as prevalent on the reservation as it is for white communities.  American Indians face constant discrimination in the search for employment and sexual violence against Native women is at a terrible high.

So perhaps we should contemplate these facts and revaluate our prejudices and assumptions.  Perhaps we should be more conscientious of our words and thoughts.  Perhaps we should continue our personal education and re-examine the history of the United States.

I for one, rather than feeling guilty for wearing moccasins, will use them as a personal reminder of what happened to Native Americans. I will remember what has happened to their families, culture, and heritage, and remember the struggles communities face today.  I’ll challenge myself to be aware, and to stay educated about the past, the present, and on matters of the future.

Instead of feeling guilty, become informed.

(Facts derived from The Canary Effect, directed by Robin Davey and Yellow Thunder Woman)

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Do I declare myself?

“But when you rip open that shirt to find the ripped abs of truth – when you remember who you are – the question then becomes: Do you declare yourself?”

-Justine Musk

I ask myself this question often: Do I declare myself?

Being the self-conscious, justice-seeking, slightly psychotic individual I am, I constantly play with different aspects of my self.  Whether it’s the political side, the philosophical side, or the bad poetry side, there are many facets to my personality. I think this is normal, but it’s difficult to find that one passion, that one part of my being, that is stronger and demands a declaration above all others.

What are my ripped abs, so to speak?  What do I see, what do I feel, when I remember who I am?

Do I too, wear a facade?  Do I put on a ‘front’ when I go out and about?  And if so, who am when I get home to an empty house and a lovable mutt?

I suppose I am a sensitive, calm, critical, and slightly sad female.

Without the face without the facade. Just a silly girl puttin’ curlers in her hair.

Acting tough and intelligent can be exhausting some times.

I remember that I am a flawed, unfashionable, and fervent woman.  I have fears and fallacy.

But this remembrance is more beautiful than my shell of ‘wonder woman’ outer projections.  And I remember it, yes, yes, I do.

I remember my fears and passions, and god dammit I declare them.

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Perhaps some poetry?

Bubbles

Bubbles in a boiling pot,

Second layer of skin.

Original color of hair, written in the

fine print.

Seeds of the fruit and popcorn in your teeth.

A splinter under your nail and

the tears choked down all the way to your

feet.

Secret loves

that we keep in the shoe boxes of our

hearts,

manifested in the hairs that prickle as we turn the corner.

Night sweats and belly button

phlegm,

this, the subconscious lives in.

Paint splotchs

I Am Muddy Puddles

I am

muddy puddles and flowers atop prickly cacti.

I hold onto

dog-eared pages and wine-soaked lips.

I feel my

clay encrusted feet and sandy bottoms.

I smell

the dust-covered romance novels and the spiders on the rose.

I wear

holey jeans and big, chocolaty smiles.

I see

melted candles and paint splotches.

I am

baby boogers, with a hint of mint.

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What happened to common decency?

This morning I missed the bus as usual.  This time is was different though, because a young man had missed it too.  Both of us panting and feeling annoyed, I offered him a lift to campus.  He seemed so shocked at my gesture, but to me it was logic.  If I’m driving to class anyways, why wouldn’t I give the kid a ride who had frustratingly made the same mistake as me?

The conversation during the ride was forced and awkward.  Questions like what’s your major and whatnot formed the basis.  I asked him why he had a cast on his right arm.  He asked me permission to drink a can of Mountain Dew.  I was helping the guy out, but it seemed like the last place he wanted to be was sitting in the passenger seat of my Honda.

After parking, he said goodbye, and I said that I’d see him around.  No smiles, no offer to help put money in the meter(that’s OK ’cause I was going to have to pay it anyway), was there even a “thank you”?

I felt like I had done the right thing, but it also felt so unfriendly, so impersonal.  Is giving a stranger a lift to class rather that weird?

I got to class feeling hot, tired, and hungry.  I sat next to a blonde girl wearing a tie-dye sweater, and as we make eye contact for a split second, I smile and give a nonchalant “good morning”.  The girl averts her gaze immediately, taken aback from my informal greeting, gives an uncomfortable moment of eye contact and looks away.  She practically turned her entire orientation in the opposite direction.

Why is decency so reviled?  Why is common courtesy so rare that when someone offers a kind gesture it freaks the other person out?

I felt like a leper.  What’s wrong with giving someone a ride to class?  Why is saying hello such a threat?

Stay away or I’ll bite you!

It’s no secret that our society is quite impersonal and often unfriendly. We ‘other’ each other and avoid situations where we might feel out of place. We avoid eye contact, avoid sitting too close to someone.  Avoid having our views challenged.  In an age of Facebook where our lives are on display for all to see, we lack intimacy more than ever.

We walk around campus with our headphones in, staring at our shoes and focusing on getting from A to B with the least amount of friction possible.  Sometimes I’m this person.  Avoiding everyone and everything because I’ve got a bone to pick with life at the time.

But more often than not I appreciate a greeting, I welcome the unexpected recognition that I exist.

We’re not all so separate, so foreign.  We’re a bunch of humans walking around on Earth.  Essentially, we’re all the same.  We all struggle, we all carry baggage, we’ve all had a screwed up life in some way or another.

Given this, why do we avoid each other so?  Why is it so hard to make a connection with another being?  Why is friendliness seen as a threat or intimidation rather than a gesture of good faith?

I think each of us, and society as a whole should question this.

Why are we so pissed off all the time?  Why is being kind the exception and not the norm?  What happened to common f***in’ decency?

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A question concerning food and culture in America

Last semester I took an Archaeology course and my professor brought in some roots that Native Americans used to subsist on in the Spring months.  I can’t recall the name of the root, but I remember looking at it, traces of dirt remain, and it smelled of Earth.  It was the most natural thing I had held in years, but it felt so foreign. This came straight from the ground, how WEIRD.  No fertilizers helped this grow…how odd.  It was moist, bitter and Earthy.  Full-bodied and crunchy, I had to have another.  This was the natural way of things, I remember thinking to myself.  How often do people pluck their own vegetables and eat them straight out of the dirt?  This is how it should be done. Why is the concept of natural food so distant to society?

 

I’m still reading The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka, and it’s becoming increasingly challenging and illuminating.  While reading late last night, I came to a passage that shocked me and had me wondering about culture, food, and the connection between the two well into this afternoon.  After all, I study cultural anthropology and religion, so this debate had me quite puzzled, in a good way.  This is the passage that rattled me and had me examining my own values and those of the United States.

“Culture is usually thought of as something created, maintained, and developed by humanity’s efforts alone.  But culture always originates in the partnership of man and nature.  When the union of human society and nature is realized, culture takes shape of itself.  Culture has always been closely connected with daily life, and so has been passed on to future generations, and has been preserved up to the present time.”

I understand this, and agree. Culture is a product of people and nature coming together and learning and growing together.

Fukuoka is discussing culture in relation to agricultural production and consumption, and he goes on,

“Something born from human pride and the quest for pleasure cannot be considered true culture.  True culture is born within nature, and is simple, humble, and pure.”

This is where I stop, reread, and think.  When I consider agriculture in the U.S. today, which is based upon large yields and high production.  Where we use massive amounts of pesticides and fertilizers that are a horrible detriment to our environments, where we pump our produce full of coloring agents and preservatives, where we throw out about half our crop because it is not the ideal fruit or vegetable, it has me wondering, is there anything natural to our food?  Even our meats and milks are pumped full of hormones and additives.  Agriculture today is not natural, simple, humble, and certainly not pure.

Our food is based on more, more, more, no matter the cost.  There is no humility. It is a blatant disrespect to nature in many regards.  We poison our bodies and our Earth for the sake of monetary profits.

If Fukuoka is right, that TRUE culture is born within nature, than the United States could be said to not have a TRUE nature.

In the land of McDonald’s and Taco Bell, where the food is ridiculously processed,  Applebees where half of what’s cooked is frozen and then microwaved, where hunks of beef brought from a slaughter house is considered normal, do we really have a pure culture?  What is American culture, anyway?

 

In the context of food, what is the typical, cultural, American cuisine? First thing to my mind was a cheeseburger and fries.  The burger is probably heavily processed and contains hormones and additives applied to add flavor and longevity.  These additives are needed because the cow from whence the burger came was raised in a dark and filthy industrial center, where it was pumped full of antibiotics to keep it from dying due to its unnatural diet.  The wheat of the bun was probably grown from GMOs, the cheese is probably highly processed, the fries were frozen for weeks and the potatoes were grown using fertilizers and pesticides. This is not natural, pure, humble.

So much about American food is unnatural, the United States at this point could be called the Land of Unnatural and I don’t think anybody could argue with it.

Therefore what is American culture?

What do our production and consumption practices of food say about who we are?  Who are we as a collective and as individuals, consuming all this unnatural food as if it were the norm?

Many Americans know that our food is pumped full of preservatives, colorings, and additives, yet why is no one talking about it?  Why do we put these frankenstein foods into our body?

Are we indifferent? Are we a culture of not caring for our bodily selves?  Are we a culture so absorbed in our own lives that we pollute our bodies and the bodies of our loved ones with nasty food because it’s convenient?

What has food in America become?

What is the culture of America?

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