we can share our endorphins

The phrase “blogging effort” is a perfect one. Blogging takes so much out of you and is a second job.

You can’t blog if you don’t care. You can’t blog if you don’t care enough. You can’t write if you don’t feel and let that feeling run through your fingers and spread. Ernest Hemingway wasn’t lying about writing being a hemorrhage of the soul.

My first job — the one that pays my bills, permits me to take care of myself, and allows me to care for my mom — takes a lot out of me. But right now, it is not giving me the positive energy that blogging used to give me. I feel disconnected and recycled right now, even though I know I am in a place where I am needed. But others’ needs aren’t enough.

A wise woman once wrote that the best gift you can give to yourself, as a principle of self-care, is to hold yourself accountable to someone else. Anyone else. Another way of saying it is your word is your bond. To thine own self be true. Same principle, different words.

Although I have no desire to succeed in this world because of how corrupt and plain ridiculous it is, I do care about the people it tramples and suppresses to continue its rampant inequality and debasement. And I write. If I can’t write about me, can’t write poetry, can’t write fiction, can’t write ANYTHING at given points, I have to look inside and hold myself accountable to those people by writing about them, to them, and with them.

Compassion is a good skill to have; but it takes practice and constant vigilance.

think twice.

this post is going to be a little didactic.

think twice before you laugh at antoine dodson. i know everything is supposed to take a backseat to short-lived fame and exposure. but how would you feel if your sister was attacked by a rapist and people did nothing about it? officials laughed at you, police took their time coming to investigate, media crews didn’t arrive until you called them, and then your time on the news gets spoofed to entertain others instead of warn them. antoine’s taking his time in the spotlight in stride, and i think he’s doing it for kelly’s sake. i hope all the people laughing and singing “hide your kids, hide your wife” are writing all of the people in kelly’s community and state to do something about catching the rapist.

i planned to write about this at feministe, fast on the heels of the gang rape of a 12-year-old at a nearby skatepark. what does it mean when you read about attack after attack after attack, and one of the thoughts in your head is “i hope no one auto-tunes something like this” or “how can this story garner more attention than it’s gotten,” when these stories should be enough to knock ten people on their asses with grief.

there aren’t psychic holes deep enough to hide away from all the violence and deception this culture heaps on us every day. so if we must sit desensitized and wading through day after day, trying to survive amidst the chaos, let’s use our strong stomachs and weary eyes to bear witness. reinforce our hearts by opening them and letting the scar tissue thicken around them. occasionally be sick with grief instead of overeating, overexertion. let a raw nerve throb for something more than too much sex, too much self-indulgence.

“opinions, we all have them. i try to keep mine to myself, especially in social media forums.”

sometimes keeping things to yourself can kill other people. can get other people attacked. can allow evil ideas to conquer the marketplace and argue why they should go unchallenged. because of the importance of keeping dissent mum. because no one wants to be told that maybe what they’re feeling and thinking is wrong. maybe they ought to think twice before inflicting their will on the world.

maybe everyone should speak loudly. all at once. without looking for a cheap laugh. hide your kids. hide your wife. hide your husband because they’re raping everybody up in here. say it three times with a straight face and wonder how hard you’d laugh if it were your reality. think of how hard you laugh if it is your reality.

how loudly would you scream if you realized no one is truly safe?

poor people aren’t supposed to want nice things.

I don’t know if you guys received the memo; but poor people aren’t supposed to want nice things.

All rags-to-riches (or rags-to-bitches, if you want to get all Boondocks about it) stories start with people who are poor but industrious. Tales of kids eating cigarette ash sandwiches to survive. Tales of people saving mustard packets so they have food that stretches through the whole year. Bonus points if your parent proudly refuses government help, or if you suffer through and survive a vitamin deficiency. You’re a rock star if you live many years out on the streets and still pull down a 4.0+ GPA. You have done poverty correctly.

However, if you take what little disposable income you have and buy sushi, you are doing wrong. Poor people do not want things like smartphones (you’re poor; who are you calling on a smartphone?), televisions (you’re poor; what do you need entertainment for?), nice cars (why wouldn’t you get a modest car to get around when you’re poor), or delicious food (do you know how much ramen you could have bought for the cost of that scone?). Poor people should not take any windfalls or nest eggs or scraped together pennies and expose themselves to luxuries. After all, isn’t that just a brutal reminder of how poor they are any other time? Why not just face the fact that poor is what you are, poor is what you shall be, and poor means that you cannot have nice things?

Poor means you cannot even want Nice Things. You are not supposed to want them. In commercials, do they show people living in Section 8 housing, driving BMWs and sipping lattes, and otherwise enjoying Nice Things? No, they show fashionably abysmal young lithe college students enjoying Nice Things. But what if you are a fashionably abysmal young lithe poor college student? Doesn’t matter. You’re poor. If you ostensibly put together a year’s worth of fortune cookies so that you’d have something to nibble on once the ramen ran out, you are not supposed to want Nice Things.

When you are poor, you are supposed to shock people with the depth of your intellect. It is your responsibility to tell people the reason you are so intelligent or well-read or knowledgeable is:

  • Your parents wanted something better for their children, something that they themselves could never have;
  • You owe your intelligence to treks to the library, sometimes barefoot in 10 feet of snow, backwards, pulling the sled you would overload with books and stories; or
  • Being poor, you have been living the realities that academics and news reporters can only dream about. Nobody knows the trouble you’ve seen; nobody knows your sorrow.
  • Often when one of these three reasons come to light, people forgive your indulgence (sometimes your overindulgence) in Nice Things. But they do not forgive the voracity of your enjoyment. Because at that point, Poor Person, you are their reminder that people who are poor want the Nice Things that they readily and regularly acquire. While you may enjoy yourself once, once you have tasted the fruit, do not repeatedly comment on how much you enjoyed that taste of the fruit. You are poor. They know you like what you have because they presume you have never wanted anything more than to get it, like They Who Have Always Had It. You walk into volunteer events, feeling like a hypocrite because you have benefitted from the programs to which you now give your time and your resources. You may even recognize some of the patrons in the soup kitchen, or you glimpse an address for a Christmas gift package that is doors away from your home. Your friends smile and spend over the encouraged limits for them, and you wonder if it weren’t for anonymity, would they even care to know your neighbors’ needs? Or would they be scandalized that the poor would want Nice Things for their families, for themselves? You know the answer already, though. You’ve heard their stories of contempt.

    Your goal, Poor Person, should you choose to accept it, is to forget about any presumption of haves and have-nots. Your job, Poor Person, is to get as far away from the have-nots as possible in thought and deed and investment. Otherwise, you will tip people off to the fact you are or have been poor. They are only supposed to suspect that you have been poor when you approach the dais to give a motivating speech, or when you are filling out an application to fund more education for yourself, or when you have fallen upon dire straits but grow accustomed to those circumstances with aplomb. Then, dear Poor Person, and then only may you say, “I did not always blithely accept the presence of Nice Things in my life; I lived a joyless existence under the poverty line.” After that statement, you counterbalance those tales with your jaunts to an expensive school among Those Who Have a Lot, the blatantly poor, and the secret poor. You omit the mental gymnastics you played to hide how much you wished that Those Who Have a Lot knew you when, so they’d understand how much it hurt when they’d pipe up in class about how poverty is a birthright of the irresponsible and the deranged, the deviant and the demented. Instead, you speak of overcoming the Blue Bloods, the Jacks and Jills, the Nouveau Riche as a general learning experience that the only time you can say, “I wasn’t that upset or deprived or needy when I was poor” is to yourself or to your progeny, as a whispered admonishment when they laugh at a homeless man on the street or when they sneer at a story of a single mother with four kids and a 58″ flat screen television in her home.

    “Yes,” you explain to your astonished kids or closest friends, “sometimes it hurt, and sometimes we couldn’t afford things; but I made myself remember I was still a person, a good person. That’s one thing my parents always had me remember.”

    Where is home?

    In BFP’s recent post Helen Thomas, she reinforces the solid point that Israel is a settler nation founded on the land of Palestinians.  She also points to the irony of progressives calling Thomas’ remarks out of line, when they adopt the indigenous demands that white racist nationalist settlers of the United States demand that other undocumented nationals (typically brown undocumented nationals) “go home.”  They seem to think they have exemption from the call.  It’s easier to excuse oneself than it is to face responsibility for the actions of those who built this nation on the bodies of indigenous peoples.

    However, I think it is also relevant to consider another conundrum about the homes some of us lack.  In this particular situation, Polish and German Jews and Black Americans descended from slaves have a similar problem.  We have no homes, and we may lack the economic and social capital to recreate a home in the places from which we were taken.

    Now, keep in mind that this is not an excuse for indigenous peoples being murdered, starved, and subjected to ethnocide.  But Helen Thomas seemed to fixate on a quick solution to send “Jews” back to Poland and Germany.  Kind of like when Whites fixated on sending Black American descendants from slaves back to Africa.  Some members of our peoples likely agreed and tried it.  But both perspectives, however justified partly in historical context, fail to consider the full circumstances of how we arrived where we were and how we got to where we are.

    Our forced displacement from our lands, for purposes of genocide and enslavement, have made us culturally homeless.   Why do we have a cultural and social obligation to return to lands that robbed us of our dignity?  What resources do we get to rebuild homes if we cannot afford to go where our families originated?  What happens if those lands reject us again?  Where would we settle without losing some piece of our cultural identities to the area we occupy, to take some space in the international cultural community?  Economic enrichment was another key motivator for the Holocaust, and it clearly fueled the transatlantic slave trade for several centuries.  Who owes us the totality of our lives and work before our homes were destroyed?

    We can all sit on our little acres and shout “go home go home go home” all day.  But the construction of home amidst occupation and trafficking runs deeper than telling People X to set up shop in Locale A or settling for colonization because the international landscape was founded on it, is steeped in it, and knows little else but legitimizing opportunistic violent human enclaves.  The solution isn’t as simple as move as close to the past as possible without repeating it and/or rebuilding history using scraps of citizenry and a road map.

    If we all have a right to exist, what antiquated notions of possession and siege should we relinquish in order to exercise it?

    Reflections and Introductions

    I always feel like I’m walking into a trap when I start any type of self-improvement.  Despite my good intentions for doing it and the fact I WANT to do it, the moment other people get wind of what I’m doing they start projecting these expectations on my motives.  Eventually I join in until I don’t recognize why I started anymore, and the constant external plugging of Instant-Great-Life makes me quit.

    I am physically healthy for a 5’7″, 237 pound African-American woman, haven’t had anything remotely close to high blood pressure or high cholesterol, haven’t tested anywhere close to having diabetes, and have a slight tendency towards anemia (my white blood cell count has been on the low side since I was a kid).  Yet whenever I go to the doctor’s office or whenever I tell someone I want to lose weight (mostly to become fitter and for my mental/emotional health since I can’t afford therapy, not even on a sliding scale), my doctor insists DESPITE MY DAMNED MEDICAL CHART we have reviewed together, that I need to ward off these specters of disease because BMI says I’m obese, and people presume that clearly I have been written a death ticket because I’m a fat black woman who wants to lose weight.

    Reading this Bitch article on the links between privilege and a larger anti-feminist empowerment structure put it into perspective for me, because while I’m trying to make lifestyle adjustments and visualizing goals, I inevitably start wanting unrelated things.  I start wanting things that, for whatever reason, I’ve assumed that I can’t have now while I’m fat.  An excellent career.  A healthy romantic relationship.  Lots of money so I can join a gym, do a class, buy cute outfits.  Driving lessons and a car, so I can get my license.  Dancing lessons, so I can learn to dance.

    Then when I look at all these little fantasies I’ve erected, I wonder, “How the hell did I get to wanting these things when I just want to get rid of these two asymmetrical rolls on my back?  Why is this my laundry list when I only want to get to the point that I can run and not feel like I’m going to collapse after an 1/8 of a mile?  If someone doesn’t think I’m attractive now, rolls and all, what does it say about me that I assume they’ll come running once I’m fit and slimmer?  Even more, what does it say about them that they felt no need to approach me until I conformed to their aesthetic?”

    ***

    Weight Watchers is simultaneously improving and ruining my life.  Let me explain.

    Since the beginning of this year, I’ve lost 25 pounds.  I lost the first 17 pounds using a free tool online called My Fitness Pal for calorie counting and estimating my activity.  I’ve lost the 8 pounds through my enrollment on Weight Watchers through my job.  I’ve been on the program since April, and I like the POINTS system as much as I like calorie counting; but of course, the POINTS calculator makes tracking more convenient, and you don’t have to rely upon people’s inaccurate assessments of nutritional facts as often.

    But I am swiftly realizing it may have been a mistake to enroll in the Weight Watchers program through my job and to let it garnish my wages.  That choice has switched me from eking out a living with an administrative job to existing from paycheck to paycheck.  I cannot afford to go out with anyone.  I cannot afford to buy anything I need.  Instead, my money funnels towards home, student loans, and paying for the times when my fantasies of having enough, having it all, and continuing to have more blinded me to the reality of being a poor black woman with a relative to care for and the constant need to weave her own blessings from dust and dreams.

    If I had that Weight Watchers money every two weeks, it would make a WORLD of difference.  But on the to-do list for a girl playing at privilege she doesn’t have — to eat, to pray, to spend — praying is the only thing I can afford!  So I do it regularly to instill some heaven into the hell I’ve created.

    ***

    Credit is now the bane of my existence.  I relied mostly on credit to fuel my fantasies of having it all.  I could subscribe to magazines I liked.  I could buy my friends thoughtful gifts.  I could donate money to people and charities.  I could go out to eat.

    And I LOVED going out to eat.

    I ran up my credit card in college feeding myself and my friends.  Although we were granted the privilege of being served unappetizing food, sometimes undercooked food, often not very healthy food through our college diet plan, we opted not to take it.  We would either go to other places or buy groceries and cook ourselves.  We would choose our own unhealthy adventures, thank you very much, and we did it until we couldn’t anymore.  My little baby credit card, given to me at 17-18 (with parental supervision, initially) has grown from an $800 limit to approaching $10k while I’m the ripe old age of 24.  Guess how much your girl owes after 5 more years of higher learning, 5 years of running after security in shopping bags, and 5 years of wanting to feel responsibility through spending instead of through… well, taking responsibility.

    I’m coming down from an addiction, and I’ve had mini-meltdowns in recovering from my need to show that I’m magnanimous and generous through spending.  Spending money helped to curb my social anxiety in a big way and helped me feel engaged in a non-profit model that gets by with constant solicitations for money and signatures instead of time-consuming interaction with issues, instead of recognizing the patterns of how these issues affect my life even if I’m not immediately proximate to the causes.  And it’s telling that lately in activism, saying the phrase do something translates often to give money to starting/stopping something.

    ***

    I learned earlier this year that I cannot afford to write for free.  The second I felt the impulse to sit down and write here, on my space, I would follow it up with a question: “Can I make this longer and pitch it somewhere?”  Writing is something I enjoy; it’s something I do to sort out the thoughts that don’t belong anywhere else.  But it takes time, and time is money.  I’m foregoing a trip to work for time and a half to write this.  This is the best self-care I have.

    I’ve slowly tried to phase out using Sylvia Peay as my writing name.  I have a body of work here and other places writing under that name.  I’ve made great friends and occasional enemies writing under that name.  But for a woman who constantly writes things like “this is who I am” to keep using a name that is not the one she was given — it grew tedious.

    Some writers do well pseudonymously.  But I like my name.  I want to write for free and write for money (multitasking!), and I want to do it under my name.  I found an archive of posts from The Anti-Essentialist Conundrum by chance a month ago (proving nothing ever truly dies in cyberspace), and I will slowly integrate them here and bulk up my archives.  Eventually I will learn how to get my own domain space, buy said space, and see if I can pretty things up beyond what WordPress has given me.

    I’m Monchel Pridget.  I’m a Christian (non-denominational), lawyer, writer, poet, radical woman of color, online activist, armchair revolutionary, and big mouth.  Honesty is one of my most precious commodities, second only to love.  My words, opinions, and occasional fits of hubris belong to me and not to anyone employing me at any given time.

    Nice to meet you.

    What If Privacy Is More Than Hiding Your Dirty Laundry?

    The so-called “tell-all generation” is losing its sense of a private life for privacy’s sake.  However, young[er] people are responding to professional pressures and market pressures that demand that a public/private sphere exists for all of its workforce above a certain class level.

    I do think that over time, the joke about “if it’s not online/there aren’t pictures/it’s not chronicled, it isn’t real/didn’t happen/isn’t true” took on a strange nugget of truth and absolution for my generation and its relationship to the net.  And since it is a publishing medium, however mutable it can be, the act of publishing something legitimizes it.  Since you can find everything from the sacred to the profane online, it seems natural to share the sacred and the profane parts of ourselves wherever we can display them, for some kind of permanence in what was once a relatively open space.  But now with so many privacy raiders taking over, it’s no longer like we’re tiny specks in an open field of information.  We’re not being watched by people who validate our choices anymore; we’re being monitored by people who will find excuses for us not to work, not to live, not to flourish.  And if that isn’t disaffirmation…

    Now we have to find ways of preserving our reality by hiding them in pockets and provisions online — whether it’s locking blogs and pictures, creating secret forums and redirects, cache and IP blockers, multiple profiles/personas etc.  We’ve created fragmented selves (and pseudo selves, to quote blackamazon from a private convo) where generations of private selves used to be.

    It’s also a bit telling that people’s private selves from earlier generations are now popular fodder for republishing and sensationalism in our modern media — film, websites, etc.  Not that people weren’t publishing and publicizing journals in the past and making novels out of them; but I think it’s different now because we’re doing it less for entertainment value and more in this quest to hoard and categorize as much information as we can, from wherever we can get it, and the more remote in time the information is from our digital padlocks, the more susceptible it is to reproduction and exploitation for the market and for mass consciousness.

    Publishing generational novels/journals/stories — it’s another attempt to demystify the past and bring more absolution to the present.  You see your mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers speaking in colloquial terms about blow jobs and benders in their diaries, and suddenly your generation doesn’t feel so alienated and demonized for enjoying recreational drugs, partying and music.  The only thing is I don’t know if sharing that information creates an environment of understanding or one of more distance between the past and the present.

    And I guess here’s where hiding our personal lives really doesn’t help: if we’re trying to say that there are certain behaviors and mindsets that were previously taboo but can be (or are) okay with more exposure and understanding, what does it say when we’re asked to hide them again and pretend that they’re still taboos for survival?  Doesn’t that make them taboos again?  It seems like there needs to be dialogue about reclaiming openness, reclaiming exchange of ideas and not just presentation of moments, and actually trying to build a culture with rules of engagement.  Because when anything goes fails to go, we’re left with old and archaic rigidity that betrays its own hollowness.

    The hollowness then breeds executives like Zuckerberg and the types of problems arising around social networking.

    Psych Dreams

    “I tried to look up if there is psychology research on stereotypes about psychology, but I haven’t found anything yet. Ironically, psychologists study stereotyping and psychology, but not stereotypes about psychology.”

    Restructure!, in this comment.

    I’d be really fascinated to see this, and not just on a psychological level.  I have theories (wild theories, of course) that the hostility and stereotypes toward psychological studies likely arose around scientific scenarios similar to the Milgram experiment and the Stanford experiment.  Or when results point to the toxicity of constant exposure to stylized violence.  There are a lot of studies in psychology that focus on how power and information affect people, and it would be very hard to be an impartial consumer of all these elements if you understood and processed psychological studies critically on a regular basis.

    And by critically, I don’t mean the popular form of criticism — basically finding something you semi-understand, and then stabbing at the rest of the elements around it because their presence makes your knowledge feel less cemented.  By critically, I’m thinking that people would be more interested in the history of how things came to be, and they would study the parts and the whole with more intent and purpose to see how they fit together to form whole ideological landscapes.

    Maybe I’m being idealistic.

    May 15, 2010

    “Things I’ve Seen” | The Spooks

    omg, fresas con guajillo chilies. (california dreams, pt. 1)

    some of the candy made in mexico has chilies in it. that’s AWESOME.

    i’m not wild about tamarind; but i got over it because it’s CANDY. 

    my friend in san diego lives about ten minutes away from a dulceria. 

    i’m eating combo vero fresa right now. (check under pulpas.) om nom nom. “what is that dark stuff? it looks like chocolate!” no, it’s chilies! sooooo good. makes you eat the lollipop part faster. haha.

    my friend and i spent a disproportionate part of the trip eating yummy, sugary foods. most of which was candy.

    salty candy blows my mind, though. i still have a packet of pica limon that I WILL NOT EAT until i have something/someone sweet to pour it on. ’cause my friend gave me one of these and…yeah. i don’t eat salt often. the other one i have isn’t the same thing but now i’m wary. lol

    duvalin candy creams are addictive. just so ya know. i got a choc-vanilla-strawberry one. and i ate it in ten seconds.

    going to develop pictures soon and post more. just busy with lots of things.

    updated to add: ladies and gentlemen, a scorpion sucker:

    i bought it while in old town, san diego. they had a tequila flavored lollipop with a worm in it, too. i’m afraid to eat it because i think the scorpion may be still alive and might eat my brain or something.

    Orange is my favorite color!

    This is news I did not expect to see as I returned home.  Those poor children.  (Via Black and Missing and Donna via e-mail.)

    It figures: after I buy a new orange and black backpack for the extra stuff I bought and an orange t-shirt with San Diego printed on it, the Department of Homeland Security issues an terror threat alert of orange.  I’m in Atlanta’s airport right now, and I leave here around 8 a.m.

    I have some bad news: my friend and I weren’t able to do the zombie makeup because she became very ill after we ran back and forth through Disneyland.  I have pictures of some of the places I visited, and I picked up a lot of cool trinkets as I traveled.  I picked up so many cool trinkets that two of them are bags to hold the things I picked up.  One is a very large cloth bag that can hold practically everything, including my laptop.  The colors are also very Surfin’ U.S.A.

    I also bought candy.  Good candy, too.  Including saltwater taffy.  My eyes glowed in that store.

    I’ll write more about my trip after I catch up with sleep, unpacking, life, and everything else I missed while traveling.

    (Finally, let it be known that I blame Donna for MAKING me post this entry before I even reach Maryland!)

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