Archive for October, 2011

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“Guardians” of the Public Morality

31 October, 2011

Let me be the first to say that I am anti-racism, anti-bullying, and anti-hate. I am transgendered. I know, first hand what discrimination is. I have been beaten. I have had my property vandalized. I was once shot at. I know discrimination. I know hate. I know what it is to be labeled a second class citizen.

Now, let me say something else. I am also against the “guardians” of public morality. You know the kind I am talking about. Those, who often but not always, have the power and privilege in society and feel guilty about it. Typically, the “guardians” feel their power and privilege places them in a unique position to comment on things and, because they are inured in their power and privilege, they just assume that their point of view is accurate and are quick to condemn those who do not “fall in line” with it. These “guardians” do more damage than the bigots. Bigots are typically easy to spot and one does not take their attitudes to heart. The “guardians” are harder to spot. They claim to be your ally but in their mad-dash to defend you (and often to assuage their own guilt) they promote a stereotypical view of who you are.

The world would be better off without these so-called-allies stepping in and turning minorities into cases and projects. The “poor and underprivileged are so powerless they cannot help themselves” attitude of social justice is a denial of the other. It denies them the right to stand up for themselves. It denies them the right to pick their own allies. It denies them the power and privilege of self-determination and becomes another way of keeping them down, maintaining the status quo, while looking like the “guardian” is offering a helping hand. “Let’s change things; without actually changing anything.”

This applies to a number of ad-campaigns as well. The idea that just an image is going to stop racism, genderism, ageism, and bigotry in general is a faulty one. Not even the cruelest of visual campaigns against a group of people can succeed in and of itself. There is a pre-existing mentality that fuels the campaign and gives it the strength it has to shape opinion. A number of the “anti” campaigns are the stuff of Halloween candy, a treat for the eye but no substance. The authors of such campaigns, however well-intentioned, forget that you cannot change an attitude just by appealing to the eye. If it is the pre-existing mentality that fuels bigoted visuals, the reverse must also rely on a pre-existing mentality. They need to appeal to those who are already of like mind in a simple way that is easily recognized as true and rely on them to get the message into society. Individuals change individuals. The NO H8 Campaign is a perfect example of an effectively run, long-term campaign. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the “I Am Not a Costume” campaign. It is offensive to me (and I am speaking only for myself and not representing the opinions of others) because it is flashy and gimmicky. The “coolness” of the campaign kills the message. People pay more attention to the slick images and graphic styling; they love the art, but they lose the message. This campaign is short-lived. It will be around during Halloween and will cease to garner any public notice afterward. It does not promote lasting change because it has no staying power and does not recruit like-minded people as advocates.

As a member of the minority, the second class, the discriminated against I have every right to choose who I make my allies. If you have a different opinion, that’s fine. But don’t try to make yourself my ally. I am strong enough to defend myself.

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Second Class Citizen Denied Maintenance Service

30 October, 2011

77 and climbing -- it is 51 out!

The heat has been running constantly since Saturday. It is only by keeping the balcony door open and the heat set at 65 that I am able to keep the temperature below 80. Despite the fact it is only 51 degrees outside.

I placed my service request with EOS-21 emergency maintenance during the four o’clock hour yesterday afternoon. After six hours and five follow-up phone calls I had still not been contacted by someone on maintenance. As of noon today (twenty hours after the initial service request) I had not even received a phone call with an ETA on the service.

When I went to the leasing office to complain, the maintenance staff, via the phone, said to “tell HIM we might be able to get to HIM sometime tomorrow.” [emphasis added]. There was no need for the use of masculine pronoun, they had only my name and they were speaking with a female receptionist who referred to me as she and her.

I believe the implication here is clear.

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Wasteland

30 October, 2011

Wasteland – by J.C.E.

 

 

1. Cassandra

i am a Prophetess
ignored and forgotten
seeing Truths others
do not want to see
cannot see
speaking Truths people
loathe and spurn
cannot understand

i see Shadows
stretched out before me
and Shadows
extended far behind
and i offer to my Owner
Fear
a heart made of dust

 

 

2. Education’s Voices

Stripped bare of technology
Gutted of intrigue and mystery
Filled with corroded compassion
Splayed wide for admittance
Closed to truth and rigor
Swathed in hope (threadbare)
Sixteen hundred residents
Termed community by demarcation

 

She be up in front of the classroom
Soundin’ all white
That bitch
Don’t know nothin’
‘Bout teachin’
The thugs and niggers we got on up in here
Claimin’ “Respect each other”
And “Respect the classroom”
What she really sayin’
“Respect me.”
Sistah! I ain’t got no respect for no white
‘Specially when they got a cock ‘neath their skirt.

 

A lost family
To replace lost family
I came here looking for
What?
A fresh life?
An opportunity to be
Anonymous?
Without history?
Foolish

 

I can’t believe her
The guts that girl’s got
To be coming into a school
Of anger and bitterness to her kind
And teaching students who would
Just as soon steal from her
Her courage just ’cause
They’ve got none

 

I cannot remember the last time I cried
It might’ve been yesterday or a hundred years ago
But it was not over them
They do not get to come to school with me
I am not going to be one of those girls
Flashing pictures of her babies around on her iPhone
I have a chance at a future
For my children but if I am going to earn it
I cannot cry
when I leave them with grandma every morning

 

 

3. O City City

her opulent apartments no longer stand erect
their foundations leached away from beneath
by Vandals and Visigoths, patient rot and mold
and destruction ‘neath the jaws of frost and time

her buildings list like snarled teeth in giant
killer Jack’s crushed and mangled form and her
sidewalks jut and buckle up and out tossed
aside by his felled and bitter wormwood stalk

her streets are empty now, her heralds
having long since blown the end to revelry;
no longer do the pigeons circle overhead
without the crumbs beget by elder men

 

 

4. The Drowned Sailor

Cobblestone made dark and slick by rain
The crisp Autumn temperatures not quite
Brisk enough to turn the film to an ice-glaze
The air is damp and cold with chilling rain
The northwest wind cuts marrow with its bite
He tromps for warmth in the weak winter rays

And turns up the heavy collar on his pea coat
Earned during his Navy stint in the Persian Gulf
Desert Shield/Storm, not this recent cock-up
Thirty-two grams of wool are in a bridge coat
He was glad for it at night in the desert gulf
In bitter cold not mentioned during sign-up

He is even more grateful for the lamb’s sacrifice
As he pounds the sidewalk between offices
Desperate to have a job when his Navy pay stops
Till then he cuts frills, he lives on beans and rice
(Dreams of meats like steak and Polish sausages)
And walks to save thirty-two cents at bus stops

 

The work held little meaning
beyond which lead to the ends.
Shifting printed pages from one
stack to another, repeating action
Lifting Hauling Loading Aerating
The responsibilities of a materials
handler in a modern print bindery.

The warehouse that contained the
Binding machines was the antithesis
Of the page stacks littering its floor.

    It was a
    “vast
    cavernous
    space
    a maze

“of
colossal,
ancient
machinery

“surrounded by
stacks of pages

“to  be  fed  onto
the    conveying
track                to
the           gaping
mouth              of
the binder by its

“minion materials handler,”

Imagined the former Chief Petty Officer.
But for the pages sacrificed
To the binders by the handler

“space meant to be filled; the words on each duplicated and duplicated page running together like the seams in my bridge coat, neat and tight, woven close but never quite abutting.”

His mind often strayed to strange
And poetic imaginings like these.
Each day he labored at the bind-
ery he surrendered a little more
Of himself to the great binding
machine. Pity to witness such
Creativity wasted by the menial and
Thankless task of binding books for
Some other mind to consume.

 

His past was a handful of stones
Worn smooth in his grip.
Though polished by memory,
These stones still had weight
And he drowned clutching them.

 

 

5. Unreal City

the black asphalt with its cracks and gaps
continues unceasingly toward the West
passing decrepit buildings with boarded eyes

convenience, a Rubicon these shops could not pass,
was too enticing for those who dwelt here
now even Mom and Pop get gas and food from Wal-Mart

 

 

6. Tyra

Alone
Despite the people gathered close
Cold
Despite the warm blood pumping out
Farce
Despite the seriousness of her condition
Dying
Despite the EMTs kneeling by her

She
died from prejudice, not from injuries
She
bled out across the hot, black asphalt
She
heard the laughter and I wonder, did
She
know it was her saving angels laughing?

EMTs
angels brought on swift steel wings
EMTs
trained to act with speed and grace
EMTs
disturbed by what they do not approve
EMTs
bigoted and cruel turn fallen angels

 

 

7. Unholy City

christmas is the cruelest time
selfishness runs as thick molasses
stores are swaddled in gilt and tinsel
pine and blue spruce tinge the air

streets are bright with festive lights
goose-flesh is browned and gravy dappled
mistletoe, the spurned lover’s vengeance
stuffed Wenceslas is napping

children sleep to hunger pains
good men shiver in the bitter cold
women mourn the loss of aged love
Death knows not the holidays

angels weep alone

 

 

8. The Worthies

we are second class citizens
we are outlaws and rebels
Prophets to a doomed generation
a generation born to self annihilation

seeing Truths others
cannot see
do not want to see
speaking Truths people
cannot understand
loathe and spurn

we are the Shadow
stretching out before you
we are the Shadow
extending out behind

we are the Doctor
to a lost and hurting people
we are a Song of Hope
our voice cannot be drowned

we are the eighteen Worthies
Hector and Lucretia
Alexander and Veturia
Julius Caesar and Virginia
Joshua and Esther
David and Judith
Judas Maccabaeus and Jael
Arthur and Helena
Charlemagne and Bridget
Godfrey of Bouillon and Elizabeth

we the Earth’s heart of dust
ever-present, ever-wearing

we overcome

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Time Consumption

23 October, 2011

Just spent over an hour shaving eighty percent of my body in preparation for the week. It would be easier to hack off my limbs. It has to get better.

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Things to Come

16 October, 2011

I could not sleep right away last night so I watched Things to Come. Or, rather, I watched half of things to come. The screenplay was written by H. G. Wells in 1936 and was rather loosely adapted from his novel The Shape of Things to Come.

This was a vastly different time in regards to storytelling. Scientific Fiction (the genre that would become Science Fiction) was still relatively new and film was really still in its infancy, barely out of the silents and a long way from colorization. The audience was more patient then. In part because film was scarcely out of the silent age and just being in the theater and hearing the sounds and dialogue was a marvel. (Remember, The Jazz Singer—the first flicker with synchronized dialogue, and the horribly black-faced Al Jolson, seriously different times,—had come out just nine years earlier.) But during this time people were not as inundated by so many things demanding their attention. Movies were the modern technology demanding their attention; now, we have to remind people several times before a show to leave the modern distractions of Tweeting, Facebooking, FarmVille-ing, YouTube-ing, texting, IMing, Pinging, iPod-ing, smart phoning, and a slew of others I do not understand in the lobby. We need to be reminded to focus on the movie, you know, that flickering light-image we paid thirty-eight bucks for our significant others and ourselves to see. Without all those distractions people came to the movies expecting a well-paced, enveloping experience that wrapped them in the warm glow of light dancing through celluloid and brought them to a new and wonderful place for the afternoon.

The scripts from this time reflect that expectation. Now we consider them slow and ponderous. But then, the gradual building of plot, the subtle creation of tension in worlds like and utterly unlike our own, was an experience to be cherished, to be stored up in the treasure room of the soul.

Now we want immediacy. If it moves slowly or takes more than ten minutes to cut to the first action sequence our interest wanes. If the movie opens with a rising sun over a horizon wavering in the heat, then it better have an airplane come roaring past and if the plane explodes mid-flight, even better! I am just as guilty of this as everyone else. Things to Come cured my insomnia, I did not even make it half way before I was out cold. I had to finish this morning, and even then I was on the computer looking at several websites simultaneously and only half focusing on the movie.

The film itself was true marvel given when it was made. The special effects were incredibly advanced. The flying machines and space gun were brilliantly conceived and executed. The space gun being a fantastic advance in filming since the one displayed in La Voyage dans le Lune (A Trip to the Moon—1902) based on the work of another early Scientific Fiction writer, Jules Verne, where they launch their rocket into the face of the moon’s eye. It is such a shame that we have reached a point in our technological advancement that classics like this are seen as obscure cult films instead of a link to who we were and a milestone along the path of writing. Given what we have become, would Wells still have his characters stating science and progress are the betterment of man and that technology will give us the marvels of the universe to ponder or would they just turn to their iPhones and fertilize each others’ digitized crops?

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The Patience of Parkinson’s

15 October, 2011

Old Snatch came a visited me in the classroom yesterday. I was walking across the room, when he snuck up and stole my most precious gain since regenerating: mobility. Without warning I lost control of my right leg and went over sideways. The ancient skill of falling properly, honed to instinct by repeated practice in the previous regeneration, saved me from busting my skull wide open on the concrete wall and floor. It scared the hell out of my Seniors. It scared the hell out of me, but not for the same reasons. They had never seen anything like it before; a healthy woman collapsing for no reason. I know the moment more intimately than I care to. It was Old Snatch, Parkinson’s, come back to for a quick reminder.

He is still there, in the background.

He is patient and will claim me.

Till then he will bide his time, waiting for the day when I am weak and out of regenerations.

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Stayed In

13 October, 2011

We had tornadoes in Northern Virginia tonight. There was a time, not long ago, where I would have had a struggle fighting the urge to drive out to the area and storm-chase. There have been many times in my life where I have gone out looking for the tornadoes, hoping to get up close and personal with them. Tonight was the first night that I did not feel the urge to go out after the storm. The dark, insistent need to find the terrible and dangerous did not rise up. It is not because I am struck by some profound new awareness of the danger, nor is it because I am older and wiser, more stable, or less (or more) crazy. It is because for the first time I did not feel the need to risk my life. I do not have a dark, oppressive secret weighing me down that I need to try to escape.

That feels good.