Thursday, October 14, 2010

It Gets Better Project

i love this project. all of the recent occurrences of bullying, gay bashing, and suicide have been so prevalent lately. not that the situation is necessarily getting worse, but with social media becoming so visible, so intrinsic in our lives, the things we may not have been informed about before are now splattered across every webpage. in a way, things are getting better with more gay acceptance in popular media, and an increasing number of states legalizing gay marriage (fuck you cali, i'm so ashamed of my home state). but when people are still in their teens and 20's, trying to figure out who they are in every aspect, being gay may still seem like being a social leper. with how unsure of myself i was in high school, i cant imagine having the added pressure of either coming out and probably being attacked, or hiding something that was intrinsic to my being. i'm not into labeling, because it seems so exclusionary, but if i had to i guess i would consider myself bisexual. because i am sexually attracted to women, have had same sex encounters, and i think that most women are truly bi. however, emotionally i prefer hetero relationships. i'm not really interested in having a female lover, because of the guilt i feel knowing that it is purely a physical attraction, and i dont feel i could ever devote more to the relationship. so at first i was a bit miffed that this project was for LGBT only, and wasn't open to ALL teens that are feeling rejected by their peers. but what is good about it, giving something a label, is it creates a feeling of unity, allows one to feel a part of something when shunned by others. personally i have always been a non-joiner. the whole refusing to join a club that would have me as a member kind of thing. discovering my sexuality, my character, who i intrinsically am has been a very organic process for me. of course there are the ups and downs, a paradigm shift here and there, but i have never had to bear the burden of any serious shame for who or what i am. maybe it's because of the variety of things i can identify with being a tattooed motorcycle riding human and environmental rights vegan atheist bisexual bibliophile. i've never felt that any of these things DEFINE who i am, but they build the cohesive structure that makes up who i am. and i am not saying that being queer makes someone one dimensional or anything. but i just never had to "come out" with anything, it was always just there in the background. but that is mostly because there was no reason for me to hide anything. being forced to lie about your sexuality is tearing down the foundation upon which a person builds themselves. without that stability, it is so hard to grow in other aspects of your life.

so i really hope that this project and others like it get as much media coverage as the shocking victimization stories that make for good ratings. because i have been allowed to be completely honest about who i am. those who know me are fully aware that i am so totally open, maybe sometimes to a fault. but that is one of my favorite things about being me. for me its like proof that you dont have to play the game or live by the rules that others have set out for you. you can build your own rules, or fuck the rules all together. finding the path that allows you to do so is not easy, there are so many small-minded people out there that will knowingly and purposefully act as hurdles to hinder your progression. but at one point in my life i realized i could just walk around them, or better yet, break them down. i dont have to say "how high" when someone says jump, i can just say "fuck you" and blast right through. when i finally became aware that i could be exactly myself in everything i did, it was such a relief. not that i havent worked for it, the jobs i've taken, the friends i have, all of my experiences have been made with the caveat that i will only be myself. if not, it's a deal-breaker, and i'll have no part in it. i have a lot of people to thank for that, and i try to let them know it often, because few people are so lucky.

so no matter your gender, sexuality, whatever, try to be honest as you can be, first with yourself and then with all those around you. because if you can do it, it may give others the strength to do so as well. figuring out who you really are is a rough road, whether it be parts of your humanity that are chosen, or with which you were born. and this is obviosuly something that is ever changing, (hopefully) people evolve through the course of their entire lives. but once you have determined the things that hold you up, the things that make you proud of being who you are, share them with the world. the people i am closest to do just that, and they do it without pretension or judgement. because of my lifestyle i have friends that i correspond with only a few times a year. but there is a reason i DO stay in touch, even though it may not seem to others not strong enough to hold onto the bonds of friendship. it's because all of those people made such an immediate impact on my world-view, they made me see how amazing a person could be by just being themselves. being uncluttered and non-farcical, people that you can take at their word in every aspect of your relationship. i have had great friends in the past that i have moved on from and are not likely to contact again. the times we spent together were great. but the ones that really last, that i will consider friends throughout the entirety of my life are still in my heart, because i know who they truly are. and they know me. my life has taken me all around the world, meeting people with different backgrounds, cultures, lifestyles, etc. but all of those things can make an even stronger bond when shared with integrity and trust. i have been more fortunate then most in many ways, but one i never take for granted is the knowledge that there are people out there who accept not only me, but any person with a high quality of character. so let yourselves show people. the things you are proud of, the things you are working on, and all of the amazing qualities that you have which will help build the communal structure that is our society. its more than "i disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." that is not enough, you have to defend the right to not only say it, but to BE it. for me, i think the belief in god is a fantasy that people use to give their lives meaning, because they are blind to the meaning all around them. but as long as they aren't infringing on others rights and beliefs, let them have it, and respectfully. people deal with this life the best way they possibly can, and we all know we have to live with ourselves for, well, our whole lives. so be what you are, love what you are, and say what you are, because the more people that do so, the more we can trust in society as a whole. we are disgusted with the politicians that speak out against gay rights yet are caught partaking in homosexual relations. but if that person had just been honest about who they were from the start, they could be a beacon of integrity and someone to be praised. i'm not saying it's easy, it will take a hell of a lot more work going against the grain. but the more people that do it, the easier it will become, until the word "acceptance" is rarely used, because no one would consider any other alternative. it will just be the m.o. so if you've got the guts to do it, shout out who you are, and take it even further by giving support around you to those who want to do the same but are afraid of the repercussions. the point of this project is "it gets better", but it is more than just our lives getting better as we age and are okay with being ourselves, and maybe others are okay with it too. it's about society getting better, humanity getting better, something that will outlast us and our own insecurities, and become yet another rung on the ladder towards "acceptance". it's a movement that i want to be a part of, and encourage others to do so as well. because for all of my faults, i love who i am, and every person on this planet deserves that feeling. those of us that have it have a responsibility to work towards making it happen for others, or the pride we feel in ourselves comes to naught. i mean, who wants to be proud of themselves in a world that demeans others? certainly not me, and i'm pretty sure most of you out there would say the same. so say it. do it. be it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

the benchmark of bland posts

so i've been feeling kinda shitty lately about a whole bunch of stuff going on, but just a couple of barely noticeable events happened, and made me remember how important the small things are.  so i started thinking of all the things i have found to like recently, and such a shame i just dont have anyone to call and gab about this stuff with.  so i'll just gab about it to my blog, we all know i like hearing my own voice best anyway :)

you know what new show is pretty good?  the big c.  i have always liked laura linney, and the casting for it is pretty fantastic.  the dude that plays her romantic interest is one gorgeous hunk of man.  i've always loved black guys with english accents, and this one is a looker.  anyway, the premise of the show is about a woman who has a soon to be fatal case of melanoma, and she is living out the last year of her life without telling her family about it, just trying to get the most out of the life that she has left, while figuring out what the point of it all.  it's not fantastic, the writing could be a little less trite, but it has an organic feel, not gimmicky like it could have been.

ok, something that is nice but sucks at the same time.  this very cute guy asked me out on a date 2 weeks ago.  we messaged back and forth a few times, he called me the night before to confirm, but then in the morning he says he is sick.  so i figured he probably had a girlfriend that unexpectedly got off of work or something.  but he messages me later, promises he is REALLY sick, and wants to make the date for the next weekend.  so he texts me everyday until the upcoming weekend.  he had been missing work because he is still sick, but he is sure he will be fine by the weekend.  friday he goes into the hospital.  and i cant even figure out what is wrong with the guy, we dont have enough of a common language for him to explain it to me.  so at this point im thinking maybe i should block his calls for the sake of my health.  but he seems pretty sweet, so when he asked for one more chance i said okay.  then he asked if we could meet this saturday, of course its the first saturday in ages i cant get out for even a few hours.  cock blocked by my new coworkers and they arent even here yet.  i dont think i am going to be able to see him, because my psyche cant handle much more.  i have had to feel the anticipation of a first date multiple times now, and still without payoff.  it turns out the giddy part of the giddy-nervous feeling kind of wears off after a while.  now i just feel like its too much trouble.  its a shame too.  good lookin guy with great hair, a blue collar worker with just enough english skill to make everything just a little bit funnier i.e. more awkward.  sigh.  maybe i can figure out how to give it one more shot.  he drives a taxi, maybe i can just stand out on the sidewalk until he passes by.  thats how a girl finds a nice guy, stands out on the street corner, right?  good, thats what i thought.

another thing i love.  frozen coke zero.  im eating half of a 1.25 liter like every day.  crunchy, sweet, and not fattening, and cold enough to lower my body temperature and let me work without the fan for a few minutes.  i hate fans.  not as much as i hate air conditioners, but i hate air blowing on me.  part of it is because if it is in my face it dries out my contacts (HATE car aircon for just that reason), and also because it disturbs my peace.  just now i crunched on enough frozen soda to feel a chill, so i switched off the fan.  now i can hear the crickets and the wooden wind chimes outside of my window.  i know the sounds of howling dogs will cover all that up soon, but its nice for a few minutes at least.  hm, i wonder if it is bad for my teeth?

alright, i am going to watch episode 8 of the big c while i eat the rest of my coke zero and text this guy that has a sickness that i hope is not an std to try to set up a date in the not too distant future.  man, he just needs to wait a little longer.  after all this time out here i am finally going to have TIME to date.  all this and now i probably wont meet a guy for ages.  well, theres always that street corner...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Day Has Come!!!

i could give all kinds of excuses about why it has been SO INCREDIBLY LONG since my last post.  i could whine about all of the field work i have been doing.  or the big changes in the company that have to be hammered out.  or the fact that a couple of months ago i just about reached the end of my rope.  but i know all of that will be forgiven.  because today was the day.  the culmination of 8 months of stress, tears, pain, love, joy, anxiety, and family.  there were times for each of us when we questioned our decisions to take on this challenge. questioned, but not doubted.  we all knew it would be a hard road.  of course, my part in this house was the easiest.  sure, i had the burden of most of the actual labor, but no matter what i will someday go back to my home country and return to a normal life.  these people have never even had that to begin with (at least not what most of us would consider normal).  so even if everything works out, all the fear, the processing, the torment that they may have caused harm to others, even when they reach their destination, this "normal" world will still seem like landing on another planet.  sure, we are doing our best to put support systems in place.  i myself am determined to keep these great kids a part of my family.  but since i may not be back for a little while, i have encouraged my father and brother to plan lunch dates, send photos, and of course christmas gifts to them until i can be the one to fill that role.  i know for them to call me a sister, it is pretty common in their culture.  but like many americans, for me calling someone a sister is a promise.  a promise to do whatever is in my power to support them for the rest of their lives.  i have never actually had a sister, but i cannot imagine hoping for someones success as deeply as i wish for theirs.

i know it sucks that i cant be more specific about my work.  i am trying my darnedest to relay the emotional intensity of the last few days, while keeping my bosses from making me delete this :)  but the bottom line is that today, two wonderful girls stepped over a literal boundary that would severely change the rest of their lives.  from today on, they will no longer have to be ashamed of who they are.  and in a couple of weeks when they reach their new homes, they will be able to scream it in the streets if they feel like it.  they can put it on display, use it to identify themselves.  or they can keep it comfortably tucked away and only bring it out when it seems meaningful for them.  its the near unlimited choices that will be the best part of their new lives.

for me, this is obviously pretty emotional.  im not really a crier, i usually have a more visceral reaction.  after my work had reached the finish line, i couldnt even get in a cab, because i felt so much going on in my body.  a stomach clenching nervousness about their future hurdles, the chest tightening sadness of losing two members of my family (for now anyway), and of course the very surreal awareness that a tiny, relatively unskilled, obnoxious know it all like myself had a direct role in making this happen.  and of course if i wasnt here, it would have been someone else, i wasnt anything irreplaceable.  but the unbelievable good fortune that has followed me my entire life landed me in this place, at this time, where i could feel so proud of every person, and i'm not so humble, so yes, greatly proud of myself, to have given so much effort to make this happen.  and some might say that the field work is the most challenging in certain ways.  but in my opinion, the rewards are so far beyond that.  i have the best life in the world.  honestly.  i wake up every day to a beautiful, hard working, determined, and ever growing adopted family.  and even if we wanted to tear each others hair out sometimes, every day we treated each other with the respect and dignity that we all deserve.

this is not the end of the line for me though.  i m not sure how long i will stay, but i have enough time ahead of me to continue to fight the good fight.  the peeps back home are working as diligently as ever, and although this was a great step, there is so much more work to be done on this issue.  so whatever i have left in me to give, i give it gladly.  so thank you, thank you, thank you for all of the people who put their hearts so devoutly into this work.  before i actually started this part of the job, i used to go around talking to people about the issue.  one thing i would say is that at first you wonder if it has any difference to be doing work that indirectly helps these people, that you might never see come to fruition.  but after meeting them, hearing their stories, i felt it to be incredibly presumptuous of me to like, have my name attached to this or that outcome of our work.  luckily enough, i did end up out here, having a direct responsibility.  and honestly, being out here might make it seem more tangible.  but the knowledge that you are working for the betterment of mankind (i know it sounds a bit cheeseball) within the limits that your situation has placed on you is all that anyone could ask for.  because most people dont get even nearly that far.  i am lucky enough to have a lifestyle where i can throw a few books into a bag and head off to just about any place in the world, for just about any amount of time that i want.  and because of that, my situation is easier than those who are trying their best to make a difference while struggling with school, multiple jobs, house payments, dependents, and the admirable trait of not wanting to leave their loved ones behind.  it proves that any commitment that can be made, any devotion to make a difference, will make huge changes that you may not be able to see for yourselves firsthand, but will change others lives on such an incredible level, and it never could have happened without your assistance.                      

                                              my girls on their big day!!!

so i promise to get back to semi-regular posting.  it is always hard, i want to share so much, because there are so many inspiring events that occur here literally daily.  but all i can really say is, sometimes i get down watching the incalculable number of things that are just evil in this world.  the devastating death of the student at rutgers, the senate still having tabled the 1 billion dollar relief fund to haiti, the insanity of the teabaggers, it just seems like too much.  but my father reminded me, that these crazy things go in cycles, the mccarthy trials, the internment camps of WWII. but the thing that stays steady is the community of people that have love for every fellow human being on this planet, and they will fight with an unparalleled tenacity to see justice brought to the world.  and today was the proof that no matter the odds that continue to stack up, we can trust that there will be those that fight for us.  unfortunalty, for some it is too late to reach them.  but their cases should just make us all the more determined to stand up and demand change.  most of us live in countries with true freedom, and can shout our presence down every street if that is what it takes.  and for those who cannot speak, we should do it twice as loud, twice as often.  it can become a roar that in the beginning many people will try to pretend isn't there.  but the more of us that lend our voice, the sooner it will be that they can ignore us no loner.  so seriously, scream out your window right now about an injustice that you know needs to be dealt with immediately .  and tomorrow during your lunchbreak, evening at home, or few hours of respite on the weekends, make a small but tangible effort to spark a change, and a commitment to keeping that small fire alive and growing until differences have been made.  it may not be life changing for you (who knows, it may), but it certainly could be for someone else down the line.  when i decided to take on this specific issue, i never imagined where it would take me.  two years ago i was wondering if i would ever walk again.  but in that time i learned how some people have so little freedom, the would have done anything to be in my situation.  so this has been the most enriching experience of my life, and if not one person remembers my part in it, it so does not matter.  because i will remember it, and it will be a part of who i am for the rest of my life.  so to my two best girls, i know you are fighters, and you are ready to take on the world.  with just a little help you have blossomed into capable, determined women who will take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself, and even the ones they must discover for themselves.  you are my sisters, my blood, and when i meet you again we will meet as peers, ready to support each other with all that we have.  until then, show us all that you can do, and i will keep on fighting for the ones that will join you in the future.  ganbatte! aishiteru!