Sunday, February 27, 2011

rules for rallying

Yesterday I took a short trip to Oklahoma City for the "Rally to Save the American Dream" which was being held in solidarity with the protests going on in Wisconsin right now. I got there a little late, so the crowd had already begun to thin out a bit, which might explain the lukewarm tone of the thing. It got me thinking about rallies and what they should and should not be.
(Disclaimer: this is just my silly lil opinion, so it's not like I speak for a group or anything here. I don't mean to offend, and I support activism of all kinds, even if I don't think it's as effective as it could be. I will continue to attend rallies and other activist events no matter how flaccid they may be.)

1. Publicize.
Make a Facebook event, tweet about it, blog about it, text your friends, call the media. A good protest needs attendees, and if there are enough attendees, there should be media coverage. That way, people who did not attend can learn about the cause, know there are people out there who care about it one way or another, and can take action if they want. At the rally, organizations that are relevant can pass around literature and sign-ups for email lists.

2. Unify.
A critical mass is even more powerful when they are unified in a certain way. This can mean wearing a certain color; red seems to be the official color of the current protests. When the Women's and Gender Studies Student Association had our protest of Justice For All last fall, we had a station with spraypaint and a stencil so people could make shirts with the "Trust OK Women" logo. This looks better than just a bunch of people standing around. Another way is to have a few chants that are simple, like "Kill the bill!" or "My body, my choice!"

3. Energize.
A rally works best when it has a lot of momentum. Chants work really well for this, because everyone can participate, and lots of noise makes it more exciting. Singing is also good; yesterday we were led in a few verses of "This Land Is Your Land." Move around, dance, clap, chant, sing, yell. If you are able, stand the entire time. Something that bothered me about yesterday's rally was the endless parade of slow-talkers who got up to the megaphone and rambled on about something that happened 20 years ago. I'm sure that story is interesting, but it can be difficult to hear when the person is speaking through a megaphone. If there is a speaker, they should keep it short and sweet, with lots of passion. Less story time, more firing up the crowd. That way, when people leave, they will feel inspired to do more, instead of bored and burnt out.

4. Bring signs.
This is pretty self-explanatory. If you don't have time or supplies, it's okay. But sign materials are both inexpensive and easy to come by. If you have a cardboard box and a Sharpie, you can make a protest sign. If you happen to be a crafty person with many pieces of poster-board and colorful markers, make extra signs to pass out. This gives people something to do with their hands if they feel awkward, and it also looks good if there are photographers or videographers (professional or amateur) there. A good sign is colorful, clever, and enlightening. DO NOT make a sign that is offensive to marginalized groups, even if you think it's funny. And don't compare people to Hitler. That is problematic, SO tired, and it is usually never actually applicable.

These are some cool signs from the WI protests. I got them here.

Humor + pop culture references = a good sign.
Creepy, funny, and true.
Simple, profound statements like this make for great signs.
Another little nugget of truth!

So pithy! Okay, I'll stop with all the signs now.

5. Stay focused.
This really bugged me yesterday. I know this is Oklahoma, and there's a lot of shit we need to change. But several people got up to plug their own pet causes, which I think takes away from the overall theme of the event. At a rally for unions and workers' rights, a guy got up to talk about marijuana legalization, and a woman spoke about reproductive justice. I support both of those, but it really tears away from the main focus when it just turns into a free-for-all for activists. If you really need to plug your cause or organization, get up and try to speak about the topic of the rally, and say a quick piece about your thing at the end. I beg you.

6. Don't give up!
I am so inspired by the people in Madison, WI. They have been protesting for nearly two weeks now, and the crowds just keep growing larger every day. People are sleeping on the floor of the capitol. They are outside in freezing temperatures and snowstorms. That shit is NOT fun, I can tell you that right now as a WI native. Protestors in the Middle East are dying in the streets for what they believe in. I'm not saying that every rally should go quite that far, but it's important to keep the fight going. This is possible through going to the extreme like Wisconsinites, Libyans, Egyptians, and all the other people fighting for their rights. This is also possible through organizing online, signing petitions, creating more events, calling your legislators, and keeping in contact with the people who attend the events. One rally is not enough to solve a problem! Keep up the good fight.

7. Don't name your event "Rally to Save the American Dream."
That is some lame-ass, PR booooshit. Sorry.

That's all I can think of right now. I've had a very long day of driving - had to bring Damien to the Dallas airport, and I ended up lost in Garland, TX for about an hour. Good times!

Friday, February 25, 2011

oral fixation

Since I can remember, I've had an oral fixation. Freud said that “if a nursing child's appetite were thwarted during any libidinal development stage, the anxiety would persist into adulthood as a neurosis.” (That's a quote from Wikipedia, a source which, despite its poor academic reputation, I always consult if I have no idea what something is or how to explain it.)

I'm not sure if my mother actually did thwart my appetite while I was nursing, but something must have happened that made me want to put EVERYTHING in my mouth. I know that sounds dirty and sexual, and in the literal sense of the word, it IS dirty (how many coins have found their way into my mouth, and how many people have handled those coins? I shudder to even consider it).

Although I am not conscious of my earliest days, I've seen pictures of myself as a baby, chewing on wooden chairs, eating the cats' food, and shoving the whole family's toothbrushes in my mouth. As I progressed into elementary school age, I was an avid reader as well as an avid chewer. I would check out dozens of library books, and then tear out the corners of every page and eat them. My parents had to pay the library for all the books I destroyed.

I was able to cool it on the public property, but over the years I've eaten straw wrappers at restaurants, bits of napkins, the fringe from a torn out piece of notebook paper, the stick that a sucker comes on, and pen caps. I've sucked on coins, chewed gum, and smoked cigarette after cigarette. For a while I had a Camelbak water bottle, and I can't even describe to you how dependent I was on that thing. Something about that nipple top … well, I won't go into it.

The single habit that has been the mainstay of my lifelong oral fixation is biting my nails. One of my best friends once told me, “You are the most intense nail-biter I've ever seen. You twist and contort your hands in all kinds of ways just to get that nail.” And it's true! I catch myself, even in public, even at WORK, holding one of my hands with the other in some unnatural position so I can bite successfully. But it's not enough sometimes just to bite the nail. I rip out hangnails, cuticles, and I really get into that nail bed. Drawing blood is not uncommon.

I bite when I'm nervous or bored, usually. If I'm just hanging out, relaxing by myself, my nails are safe. But if you insert a little anxiety into the situation, I start a-chewin'. Put me in a room of people I don't know, and I'll kill my fingernails before I say a word to any of them. Set me on my lifeguard chair with no one to talk to for thirty minutes, and bam! Any and all white tips (oh how I covet those white tips, the ones you probably have on your nails and don't even think about, the ones I have scarcely seen on my own nails in years) are eaten away.

For as often and as obsessively as I do it, my nail-biting is one of the things I'm most self-conscious and embarrassed about. I remember one day in high school when I looked over at a girl who was biting her nails, looking at them, biting again, looking again. I thought she looked so gross and awkward, and I'm sure I look even more gross and awkward when I'm gnawing away at the sensitive skin underneath my fingernails.

I'm telling you all this because I am attempting to kick the habit. So far it's been about a week and I've only bitten a couple times. It's so tempting! I even had to put a band-aid on my finger the other night at work to make sure I wouldn't destroy it. And I find myself just kind of playing with my hands now, looking for something to occupy them. I guess a few setbacks and growing pains are inevitable.

But I am determined. It might seem trivial to non-biters, but I am really looking forward to my life without the compulsion to bite, chew, and tear at my fingernails. I honestly believe that when I can stop forever, I will feel more free than ever before.

As for right now, I have a phone call to make. I need to talk to my mom and find out what the hell she did to thwart my appetite in my libidinal development stage.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

on wisconsin!

I would give so much to have been in Wisconsin for the last month or so. First, the Packers won the Super Bowl. Now Gov. Scott Walker, who got elected just a few months ago, has the entire state enraged due to his new plan that will take away public sector employees' collective bargaining rights. This affects a lot of people and their families, and I think the main focus has been on teachers this week.

Here are some cool pictures!

(A State Assembly Democrat pumps his fist as supporters voice their opinion against the proposed bill by Republican Governor Scott Walker in Madison, Wisconsin, February 18, 2011. [REUTERS/ Darren Hauck])

Can't go wrong with a banana suit.

Here's a doctor on a street corner in Madison. He's writing doctor's notes for people who called in sick to work.

He's so right.

That very angry screaming boy with the words on his shirt is none other than my badass little brother! He and his friends have been really active all week with a walk-in and sit-in at their high school. I'm really proud of him!

I've heard estimates of 80,000 people just out in Madison protesting. The state assembly Democrats have reportedly fled the state in order to delay the vote on Walker's proposal. I am absolutely obsessed right now with watching this unfold. I really wish I could be back in Wisconsin right now. Until I am, SOLIDARITY!

Monday, February 14, 2011

obligatory valentine's day post

In the spirit of this most special Hallmark-manufactured holiday, here is a picture of me and my darling boyfriend, Damien. His hair is much shorter now, and his beard much longer, so he looks like a sexy studly man. I would have chosen a better picture, but when I tried to drag photos from Facebook into the pictures folder on my desktop, it wouldn't let me. So is that the purpose of that hideous new photo viewer on FB? Either way, I HATE it!

Anyway, I guess today is the day we're all supposed to celebrate love and romance. I don't think I've ever really gone out of my way to do anything special for Valentine's Day ... I have vague memories from high school of an Applebee's dinner, and I think Damien got me roses once.

I guess I just don't see the point of making a big fuss over Valentine's Day. I'm of that popular opinion that if you can only be sweet and romantic one day of the year, then you're kind of a loser and no one should be dating you anyway. I love my boyfriend like crazy, and I try to tell and show him that every day. Sometimes I fail, but hey, it's better than only on February 14th. (Or Feb. 14th and Sweetest Day, which is an even more bullshit holiday, and I think it falls sometime in October? Whatever.)

So what have I done to celebrate Valentine's Day this year? Well, so far, I've gone to all of my classes. Gold star for me!

In Women and the Law, we discussed family law and all the various ways women get fucked over by divorce, the courts, welfare, etc. Quelle romance! In Writing the Short Story, we did what we do every day in that class: chat about various topics that are completely irrelevant to actually Writing A Short Story. We did learn about self-publishing Kindle properties, though, which was surprisingly pertinent! (No offense to my professor! I love the class! Don't fail me!)

In History of Journalism, we had a really interesting group of investigative journalists tell us all about their work on The Pearl Project. They've just released their findings about the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl. I really enjoyed their presentation. Investigative journalism seems really exciting to me for some reason. I imagine 1940's style detective outfits, lots of typewriters and endless cigarettes smoking in endless ashtrays. Que romantico!

Tonight, Damien and I plan to cook and maybe drink some wine. Then I have to go to a meeting.

Yeah, Valentine's Day 2k11 is not exactly the most romantic day. But I don't need it to be. I'm getting ready for the real holiday: Half-Price Chocolate Day, February 15th!

Here's one of my favorite love songs, if you insist on feeling some amorous vibes right now:

Friday, February 11, 2011

an ode to poop

Something happened last night at work that made me realize that lifeguards think about poop in a unique way.

I was working with another guard, Lydia. A woman in the deep end pointed out something at the bottom of the pool. "It looks like a PowerBar!" she said. I was up on my guard stand across the pool, so I couldn't see the object in question, but the whole PowerBar thing sounded promising. As Lydia stood on the side of the pool with a net on a comically long pole, I thought about poops past...

See, for a lifeguard, poop in the pool is a godsend. It means that we get to kick everyone out of the pool area, lock all the doors, and close down for at least a half hour. If the poop is of a weak composition and falls apart, we could close for hours at a time. Bonus! Puke is really the best, though, because it's gloppy by nature.

Before my official Blogger dayz, I was a snotnose high-schooler with a Xanga. Yeahh, remember Xanga? Don't pretend you didn't have one. Anyway, I would chronicle episodes of fecal contamination on my Xanga for the enjoyment of my readers (by readers I mean 5 friends whom I could have just told the story anyway).

Here's what I said about what I called POOP IN DA POOL '07:
I had to craft a long scrubby-brush out of a brush, a pole, and duct tape. Soooo much poop, it was hilarious

Here's what I said about POOP IN DA POOL '06:

Explosive diarrhea ALLLLLL over the stairs to the slide, and yuck I had to walk in it barefoot! It was absolutely fabulous, I just love when I witness a volcanic eruption of shit come from a grown man's swim trunks YEAHH


Yes, I love a good poop incident. The fun, the spontaneity, the mystery - who left the poop? was it a child or an old person? - it's all so exciting. And I know that pretty much no one else gets so excited when someone just takes a shit at their workplace. But lifeguarding isn't like other jobs, I suppose.

Oh, and that PowerBar-looking thing in the deep end last night?

It was just 10 Band-Aids all clumped together. What a disappointment.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

snowpocalypse and other bullshit

There aren't very many things I love about Oklahoma, but this is one of them.

Once a year or so, there's a snowstorm. This year, it appears we got about ten inches in that storm. In the past, it's been less. So I joined the masses in the Snowklahoma ritual:
First, I faced the crowds at Walmart. When Damien and I entered the store, there were no carts waiting in that cart area. So we had to wait for the guy to bring in a train of them from outside. Not that I'm complaining, but that never happens! Wow! Walmart was also out of, or almost out of, onions, tomato sauce, eggs, and various other necessities. Frozen food section? Don't even try. I saw several friends and the CEO of Norman's YMCA (aka my Big Boss) shopping as well. Some people's carts were hilarious - yeah, the snowstorm will probably shut you in your house for a few days, but do you need 10 cartons of grape juice?

After that, we stopped at the liquor store so I could stock up on PBR and Burnett's Sweet Tea Vodka. Hey, if school and work are both cancelled, there is nothing stopping me from taking shots for breakfast.

After that, we went to Family Video to get Season 4 of "The Girls Next Door," some shitty horror movies, and "The Social Network." Great movie; even better the second time around.

So, with all our supplies, we hunkered down for the rest of the ritual: BECOMING A COMPLETE HERMIT FOR DAYS.

Tuesday: Damien acted like he was going to go to work, but then he got outside and realized there was no fucking way. See, we're all above everything because we're all cool and from Wisconsin, but Norman has probably 2 snowplows. This town is not prepared for winter weather. So there was no leaving. So we got high and slept for another five hours! Damien made chili and we ate it. We cleaned the apartment. Then spent the rest of the day watching "Girls Next Door" (Damien's new favorite show) and other movies.

Wednesday: Damien resigned himself to the fact that he would be taking another day off work. We ate more chili, watched more movies, and made cookies with our next door neighbor. The YMCA was closed too, so no work for me!

Today (Thursday): Damien made it to work, and I woke up pretty early (11 a.m.) to shower and make my way to the union so I could get INTERNET!

There are no classes tomorrow, either. I may mock Southerners for their lack of preparation and fear of winter weather, but they sure do know how to throw a snow day. This week has been really fun.

But for the record, I gotta say it: It is not "Snowpocalypse," "Icepocalypse," "Snowmageddon" or any of the other creative doomsday names people can slap on it.

Bitch, where I'm from, it's called winter.