Sunday, May 31, 2009

It's been a long time with no update, I know. Since I last posted I've been across the Atlantic and back and turned another year older. Yeah, the past two weeks have been overwhelming, even if in a good way. But things are winding down, finally, and finding the time to blog seems like a possibility again, so yay for that because I really missed it.

Friday, May 08, 2009

At last I slept through the night without waking up. When I wake up at 3 a.m. it seems it's always for a different reason -- I'm too stressed, it's too hot in the upstairs of the house, my stomach hurts. I wake up and read about philosophy for an hour then I'm usually able to get back to sleep. Luckily I'm not required at work until 10 a.m.

It's only early May but it seems like summer has already arrived in El Paso. Ninety-nine degrees yesterday. I like the heat but it also makes me restless. For what, I don't know. Fun and adventure? New beginnings? Something.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

It's no secret that I admire the President. In Barack Obama I see the best professors/pastors/bosses I've had, the kind of person who listens to your problem empathetically, writes it down and says "I'll look into it" and when you ask him about it three weeks later you find he actually did look into it. I treasure people like that. They are rare.

For me the most fascinating part of the Obama story is the years spent as a community organizer in Chicago. So many times in my own idealist mind I've floated ideas of roles I could take to make the world a better place--PeaceCorps, AmeriCorps, church volunteer, charity organizer, etc.--but somehow those ideas always remain just that. They always fizzle out when I remind myself of how difficult it is to change people, and convince myself that there is no way for one person to change society. Not to mention the fact that you are paid peanuts, if that, for the work. Why would anyone take such a thankless job?

Maybe it was less curiosity and more a need for a role model that got me to buy a copy of Dreams from My Father. No, role models aren't only for children. As a clueless twentysomething I wanted to see for myself the path of a person who truly cares and doesn't just say things people want to hear. Some excerpts:

Look at yourself before you pass judgment. Don't make someone else clean up your mess. It's not about you. They were such simple points, homilies I had hear a thousand times before, in all their variations, from TV sitcoms and philosophy books, from my grandparents and from my mother. I had stopped listening at a certain point. I now realized, so wrapped up had I been in my own perceived injuries, so eager was I to escape the imagined traps that white authority had set for me. To that white world, I had been willing to cede the values of my childhood, as if those values were somehow irreversibly soiled by the endless falsehoods that white spoke about black.
So Regina was right; it had been just about me. My fear. My needs. And now? I imagined Regina's grandmother somewhere, her back bent, the flesh of her arms shaking as she scrubbed an endless floor. Slowly, the old woman lifted her head to look straight at me, and in her sagging face I saw that what bound us together went beyond anger or despair or pity.

What was she asking of me, then? Determination, mostly. The determination to push against whatever power kept her stooped instead of standing straight. The determination to resist the easy or the expedient. You might be locked into a world not of your own making, her eyes said, but you still have a claim on how it is shaped. You still have responsiblilities.
...[A]t night, lying in bed, I would let the slogans drift away, to be replaced with a series of images, romantic images, of a past I had never known.

They were of the civil rights movement, mostly, the grainy black-and-white footage that appears every February during Black History Month...Such images became a form of prayer for me, bolstering my spirits, channeling my emotions in a way that words never could. They told me...that I wasn't alone in my particular struggles, and that communities had been a given in this country, at least not for blacks. Communities had to be created, fought for, tended like gardens. They expanded or contracted with the dreams of men--and in the civil rights movement those dreams had been large. In the sit-ins, the marches, the jailhouse songs, I saw the African-American community becoming more than just the place where you'd been born or the house where you'd been raised. Through organizing, through shared sacrifice, membership had been earned. And because membership was earned--because this community I imagined was still in the making, built on the promise that the larger American community, black, white, and brown, could somehow redefine itself--I believed that it might, over time, admit the uniqueness of my own life.

That was my idea of organizing. It was a promise of redemption.

Instant '80s mix

Type in Tears for Fears into Pandora.
I once typed "jobs in Antarctica" into Google when I was bored on a Saturday night. Then I saw this and no, I definitely don't think a job in Antarctica is for me. I'm not quite that weird, lol. Part of the movie seems like it belongs on "2001: A Space Odyssey." The loner penguin walk is a little funny but ultimately sad.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

My usual three-day weekend has been cut to two days. Can't complain, I guess, since I got four days off last week. So far productive -- I went out to lunch, cleaned the bathroom and did laundry so far today. I should go to the library since my books were apparently due last week. Darn, that always happens.

Lately I feel like my job is to think about the swine flu all day. I am always worried about catching illnesses, and now I'm even more paranoid. The truth is, I probably won't get sick. I do my best to avoid sick people and I am always washing my hands.

Pigs aren't evil. This wasn't their fault.

I haven't been sleeping well lately. When was the last time I really felt calm? When did the stress level get so high?