Writing Challenge

Prior to leaving on my Costa Rica trip, I jotted down several writing prompts from “642 Things to Write About” which my brother gave me for Christmas. I had planned to write everyday, but I didn’t; at least not in regards to the prompts.

In my attempt to become a better writer, jump start my creativity, and find a healthy outlet to stress I have decided to engage in a little experiment. Blog one prompt a day for the next 60 days. A few ground rules:

  1. Pick the prompt at random; basically open the book up and write on the first prompt I see
  2. Do not delete anything. Crossing out is allowed. This will help to engage my stream of conscious while also helping me see my own creative process.
  3. Write on each prompt for 30 minutes

Start date: Monday, June 16, 2014
End date: Tuesday, August 14, 2014 (three days before my 29th birthday!)

See y’all on Monday!

5 AM Dallas ramblings

Thanks to technology, I’m writing this as I sit in the Dallas airport waiting for boarding to start.

I caved. I totally went ahead and paid for my carryon because, in the end, I could budget for $45/way vs a potential $100/way.

Apologies, in advance for any errors or nonsensical ramblings (more so than usual!) I’ve only had like 2 hours of sleep.

CNN’s hard hitting story of the morning is: what’s going on with all these freak bouncy house accidents. Lol, seriously guys. Oy!

So, what do I want to “accomplish” in Costa Rica? I want to relax and relieve the stress of not planning this trip. I want to just go. I want to run. I want to meet new people. I want to be confident in my solo adventures.

I want to read equal parts fluffy reads and intellectually stimulating tomes. I want to make the most of every single day; even if it means getting to San Jose and crashing. I want to eat maracuya ice cream. And, because I’m hopelessly shallow, I want to get a badass tan.

See y’all on the other side

Running Woes

Five months into my “hardcore” running phase I’ve sort of hit a road block. My left leg has been nagging at me ever since the now infamous 5k-half marathon-10k triple header. It usually feels like a dull bruise on the upper part of my lower leg; right below the knee. Now, I have no knowledge on the muscles of the body or body parts but I’m almost 80% sure that the weird feeling is too high up to be shin splints.

Yesterday I went for a run before core class (the perks of getting off of work early). In the past the weird, dull ache will slowly disappear after a few minutes; although I’m not sure its its because of the warm-up or psychological cues my brain sends. Yesterday was different. It got worse and the weird (I’m not good at explaining how this feels) pain slowly evolved into my entire leg feeling weak; like it was going to give out on me. When I tried to explain it to my brother (rather unsuccessfully) I mentioned something about it feeling like I really needed to crack some bones in my leg to release the pressure; sort of how you might crack your knuckles.

The run was uncomfortable and defeating. I know the defeating aspect came from my brain racing nonstop about what a shit run it was, how slow I was going, and how potentially devastating whatever this is could be. I walked, hobbled, and super light jogged all the way back to my car. I hope that whatever this is can be remedied quickly and painlessly (also cheaply since, hello, I’m not insured).

The internet, until now, has failed me; but then again my searches have been super vague since I don’t know how to exactly describe the ache. This morning I went to a yoga class hoping that some deep stretching and exercise variety would help. Tonight I’ll stop by Rogue early to see if Dr. Tuggle has some insight; and hopefully I’ll be able to run pain free tonight. I’ll keep you posted. Either way, I’m super worried about the 5k I’m running on Saturday. I’m definitely looking more forward to the fun girl’s night afterwards!

Oh, Dallas.

I was born in Odessa, TX which meant that our vacations consisted of mainly taking trips to bigger, more exciting cities in Texas. Believe me, any place is more exciting than Odessa unless you’re into staring at your reflection. Dallas, which was only (!) five hours away was a place we visited frequently.

I never liked Dallas. I think it’s because I was traumatized at a very early age by the wax Wicked Witch of the West at the Dallas wax museum. I mean, its pretty traumatic when even at 28 years old you get goose pimples. Fast forward ten years later to a post high school trip and another traumatic Dallas experience: traffic.

However, as I browse for research topics I find myself drawn to Dallas and its history. One of my papers as a graduate student detailed how the Red Scare impacted the Dallas art community. Right now I’m working on gathering research about Horace Bonner; a African American who moved into a predominately white neighborhood in 1950 and whose home was subsequently destroyed (presumably by his neighbors).

I’m excited about where this might go. I’m already planning on making a trip for research and general information digging, traffic be damned.

Vintage Vignettes

*Compiled over the past month or so*

1. Dear Gabrielle Reese, I do not want to exude the type of femininity you espouse. I do not want to be submissive to the wills, whims, and personality of my significant other. In short, I do not want to lose my individuality just because I’m married or in a serious relationship. 

Your entire stance of what it means to be truly “feminine”–soft, receptive, and submissive–completely goes against the strong woman that dominates her sport. I think your opinions are all the more unsettling because you are a woman who has defined her sport in a way very few of your male counterparts have. 

2. Fingers crossed, third time’s the charm. No, no it wasn’t. I am now devastated and torn between letting go of a long-standing dream or pursuing it in a, maybe, less zealous fashion. Also, I’m slightly disgusted that discriminatory laws aren’t universal. Like, adopted by all countries and stuff. I’m looking at you, Japan. 

3. I will be unemployed after May 31, 2013. Well, I hope that I’ll have a job lined up by then; I’ll just be unemployed from my current job at the end of May. This is exciting and stressful, but mostly just terrifying. I will not (cannot) do the whole year of unemployment again. 

4. My first semester as an ESL teaching assistant is over. It was truly an eye-opening experience. I am humbled by my fellow teachers and students. Next time I feel like being a lazy ass I’m going to think of these amazing people I’ve met. Folks that hold two, three jobs and still make the commitment and time to learn a new language. Especially apropos when talking about…

5. SeaWheeze in Vancouver in August. Not nearly as prepared at this point as I would have liked. See above, must kick my ass into gear. 

6. Blind rant: Hi. I have realized that you are the complete antithesis of me. Your wishy-washiness when it comes to (IMO) a toxic relationship has me dropping you like a hot potato. Sorry. Yeah, it harsh and yeah, it’s probably unfair of me but that’s who I am (right now) and how I deal with this sort of crap. Take charge, man! Don’t hmm and haw just because…what? the sex is good? (you seem like a prude so I doubt you’re getting any) Also, you’re shining “anime eye” enthusiasm over Howard freaking Zinn has completely pushed you over the edge of any sort of redemption. 

SOC #3: Boston and Human Nature

Disclaimer: SOCs are stream of consciousness posts meaning that, in many cases, it’s documenting what I am feeling, thinking at a particular moment. That being said, their ideas that may be fleeting; and in a few months or years I’ll be shaking my head to. As SOC posts, these opinions are obviously my own. 

Is there a fine line between empathizing with a tragedy and selfishly associating with it? This has been nagging at me this entire week. Obviously, the tragedy in question is the Boston marathon bombings and, to a much lesser extent, the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.  

I personally didn’t really address either of these two tragedies on any of my social media sites, with the obvious exception being this post. For me it was a matter of not really being able to put into words what exactly I felt as a result of shock and not indifference. It was also because i was unable to synthesize how these two incidents. 

And to some extent, I didn’t want to selfishly project myself on these tragedies because, their horrible nature aside, these two incidents are also very intimate. One of the popular words to have come out of this past week is “community”. For example, in my yoga bootcamp the instructor noted that the marathon bombings reinforce this sense of community found in runners. I agree, the running community is supportive and accessible, but; for most of the community the events this past Monday are far removed from their everyday life. It’s important to, as a community, come to the aid of those directly affected by the tragedy; by offering solace, by making themselves available, by providing hope and strength. However, this sense of community should not diminish the intimacy of the event, again no matter how tragic, that those running the marathon are now a part of. In a sense, the runners of the Boston marathon are a smaller, more intimate community within the larger running community. 

As much as we want to comfort those involved it’s important to not invade their experience by injecting ourselves into that experience. This is especially true for those of us who don’t have close ones that were actually in Boston; that weren’t directly involved. 

I think it’s human nature [more on this in a little bit] to want to empathize and relate what’s happening in our lives with what happened in Boston. To parallel our experiences as it were. Example: One of my Facebook friends was shopping at her local CVS when one of the walls collapsed. She documented her experience on Facebook and ended the post with something similar to “I can’t imagine how the people in Boston felt.” While, no doubt, a wall collapsing is traumatizing in its own right, what she tried to do, even though it may not seem so, is associate her experience with the larger Boston experience. You may think, “oh, but she explicitly said she couldn’t imagine…” so she isn’t paralleling these two experiences. But really, if you think about it, she is. Just the mention of Boston automatically prods those reading the post to associate and compare/contrast these two separate incidents. 

I’m not saying that she did this consciously and in a way to garner more sympathy; in fact, it was probably a spur of the moment adrenaline induced post. However, ultimately, in my opinion it also reinforces this selfish, if subconscious, streak in us. This desire, again conscious or not, to want to be part of the action as it were. To associate ourselves with something larger, regardless of its positive or negative nature. Again, it’s this sense of community. I mean, it’s innate in our nature right; to be part of a group, clan, family; community. We are social creatures, after all. 

Although I didn’t acknowledge, or address what happened this past week on my social media platforms I did stay up-to-date with what was happening. We collectively as an office, a community you might say, tuned into the final moments of the manhunt as the youngest Tsarnaev gave himself up. One of the images that resonated with me was this one

It reinforced the feelings (of disgust, sadness, and anger) that surfaced when I read my friend’s post. I mean, who are we as Americans to selfishly want to integrate ourselves into this personal and intimate tragedy. The picture reinforced this idea because here’s a group of individuals; young and old who have a very real and visceral tie to what happened. I mean, these people deal with bombings; of their homes, neighborhoods, schools daily. It’s a fear that they constantly have to live with. 

It brings to question why we don’t empathize and inject ourselves into this constant terror. I know that it’s not in our immediate vicinity and it’s not happening to “people that could have, conceivably, been us; but still. It brings to light the fact that this sense of community is limited; to geographical areas, similar backgrounds and culture, and religion. This sense of community that is confined is evident, sadly, in the immediate reaction after the bombings; of scapegoating those that seem to be Arabs, middle eastern, those that when things come to push and shove are not a part of the community. 

I guess I’ll end this rambling, extremely stream of conscious post with the notion that instead of being selfish and injecting ourselves into the intimate tragedy of others we should look to community as a way to overcome these notions of us vs. them that are especially apparent in times of great tragedy and anguish. I know its really kumbaya-ish of me, but really its just an extension of our human nature as social creatures. 

 

 

I Am Not Yummy

I recently had a conversation with an acquaintance regarding our views on relationships. At some point he mentioned that although he usually had a penchant for “Latina chicas” he had recently become more attracted to Asian women. To put it in his words, he found them to be…yummy. I found this correlation to be a bit strange and awkward but attributed his choice of words to his social awkwardness.

I’ll admit I sort of called him out on it but also laughed it off. However, the more I thought about it the more it began to bother me. I think that my uneasiness with the adjective “yummy” when talking about the opposite sex stems from two things. First, it reinforces this unhealthy relationship that American’s have with food. Secondly, it objectifies women (and men).

We like to tie food to different aspects of society. For example, Revlon has a line of lip butters that associate food items (mostly sweet) with different shades. Feeling fiesty? You’ll probably want to wear a loud shade like lollipop or candy apple. Feeling more demure? Maybe try creme brulee, cupcake, or sugar frosting.

Food references are also found in English language cliches. You might say that the test you aced was “a piece of cake”. A nice, charming individual is seen to be “as sweet as pie”. If someone tells you something that you’re skeptical about you might take it “with a grain of salt”. We go over a cliche each week in the ESL class that I help out with. The students find it baffling, amusing, and absurd that we incorporate so many “foodisms” into the language. I mean, you don’t have many Spanish language counterparts to these English foodisms*. Personally, I’ve never heard someone say, “Oh, her temper is as spicy as menudo.”

The American people’s penchant to use food words as descriptors, freely reflects the unhealthy relationship we have with food [A weighty topic for another post but basically: Food is for nutrition and survival NOT for overindulgence and gluttony]. This is reflected in the English language; cliches and such and in how freely non-food items–in this case women–are associated with food descriptors.

However, I think the aspect of this “women are yummy” idea that is really unsettling is the way it casually and in a largely unassuming way objectifies women. The argument has been made for the sexualization of food but what about the other way; the food-ization of the sexes? [Yes, I made up a word. Deal with it].  To be fair, there are the more innocuous food related nicknames: honey, sweetie pie, pumpkin which are used for significant others, kids, and strangers alike. “Yummy”, on the other hand, is different. If something is yummy one assumes that it is delicious; to the point of enticing one to devour it.

All blatantly sexual connotations that can be associated with the word yummy aside, the word still conveys an unsettling sense of objectification. To describe a woman as yummy disregards her other aspects: her intelligence, her sense of humor, her physical appearance and instead focuses on her relationship to food; something that, once consumed, is no longer needed. It has a misogynistic connotation to it.

I asked a couple of friends their thoughts on the use of “yummy” to describe women and, for the most part, they had a negative reaction. One deemed being called “yummy” as disgusting. Another friend’s visceral reaction was, “[He] sounds like [a] Hannibal Lecter who eats Asian women”. I hadn’t thought about it from the creepy, almost literal angle. My friend Rebecca added that it was gross considering the recent conviction of a NYPD officer who plotted to kidnap, kill, and eat women.

So, I think that we should move away from using the adjective “yummy” when talking about each other. There are so many more appropriate, descriptive, and flattering words that one can use. For example, I’m guilty of once saying that my ex-boyfriend’s facial hair was yummy. But, really, how can facial hair be yummy? Sexy, rakish, alluring; yes, but never yummy.  Keep using yummy at the risk of seeming like a Hannibal Lecter (or his female equivalent).

*that I’m aware of.