I think I tend to fall more on the side of “confessional poet,” but I also like to write about other people and focus on their stories—even if they’re really small, subtle moments. I prefer free verse, but I sometimes wonder if that’s because my mentors wrote mostly free verse, or because I overused rhyme when I “wrote” in high school. I wish I could be a bit more political, but I always feel like it sounds false/trite when I try to write something. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying.
Yesterday, for the second year in a row, I participated in Red Umbrella Day (International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers ). I learn so much from these events, and there is still so much work to do when it comes to making sure sex workers are safe, and respected.
We walked down one of our city’s main roads, carrying signs that read “Consent is Sexy,” “Sex Work is Real Work,” and “Respect Sex Workers.” We then participated in a candle light vigil and read off the names of victims who were killed in the last year.
Here are the names I read, and some info :
January Marie Lapuz –Age: 26 –From: Westminster, BC, Canada –Date: September 30 2012 –info: Transgender sex worker
Jessie Anne Wilson –From: Mt. Gambier, Australia –Date: October 1, 2012
15 Women –From: Rwanda –Date: September, 2012 –info: Unknown if connected mostly sex workers.
Julia –From: Kirovograd, Ukraine –Date: 2012
Karima –From: Limoges, France –Date: 2012 –info: Transgender, suicide
Maria Felix –From: Antigua and Barbuda –Date: 2012
Marland Anderson –Age: 39 –From:Los Angeles, CA –Date: April 8, 2012 –info: Undetermined cause of death, following altercation with LAPD.
Mike –From: Vancouver, BC, Canada –Date: 2012 –info: Vietnamese male escort.
You can find the full list of names from this year here: 2012 Names
The cumulative list of names can be found here: List of Names
Violence against sex workers is under-reported, and ignored. One of the organizers for the event said that often police reports involving the assault/murder of sex workers contain the language NHI or No Humans Involved. I found this particular bit of information, incredibly disturbing. Remember, we are all someone’s child.
It’s important to listen to the voices, and know the names of the people who were lost because our society is indifferent and ignorant. They are worthy of being noticed and heard.
Monday, December 3, 2007
For the last few cycles, I’ve avoided America’s Next Top Model; I don’t know how or why, but I got sucked into watching this season. Over the past few weeks we’ve gotten to know contestant Alexandria Everett, who has managed to piss off all of her housemates.
On last week’s episode, things reached the boiling point when Alexandria won the challenge and ended up with a brand new Ford Focus. To say the other girls were disappointed would be an understatement, but the most vocal of the group was Brittani–who couldn’t help but bitch to the other contestants. Unfortunately, she was overheard by the client, and Nigel Barker who brought these shenanigans up at panel. During the confrontation and again, when the issue was brought up in front of the judges, Alexandria was amazing. She knew exactly how to play the “poor little me” role and get Tyra’s sympathy, while Brittani came off a little cray-cray.
I have to take Brittani’s side in the drama-fest, I’ve lived with
crazy passive aggressive people. The problem with people like Alexandria is, they can be these wonderful rays of sunshine with those that they believe to be important, or those that just blindly think they’re super. However, if you don’t fit into either group, they really don’t mind making your life miserable. They’re also seasoned performers who know how turn on the waterworks to get out of situations. Once during a confrontation with a roommate over something mundane, she tried to fake cry. Alexandria also employs this tactic.
But, Brittani is young. She hasn’t learned to pick her battles. Nor has she learned who to engage with and who ignore. There’s a saying I like to keep in mind when dealing with people like Alexandria, “the more you try to prove someone’s crazy, the crazier you look.” I know plenty of people who haven’t caught on to that idea, and there are times when I struggle with it. The thing to remember is, people reveal who they truly are. For a time they may have others fooled, but eventually other people will realize something isn’t right.
On Valentine’s Day we all tend to think about the loves in our lives; thanks to the commercialism of the holiday, they tend to be thoughts focusing on our romantic escapades. In previous years I’ve wondered about loves gone wrong, and on some occasions I was hoping for a new love to blossom. This year I broke with tradition, and thought about the warm fuzzy feelings I have for my friends.
For the past few months I’ve been thinking about who fits into my life, who’s a good friend, and who makes me want to be a better friend. I suppose this is a constant process because life is always changing, people are on their own metaphorical paths and sometimes they really don’t coincide with yours. Yeah, it’s frustrating to watch a once beautiful friendship fall apart for whatever reason it does. It’s even more maddening to be the only one who sees that things are no longer working, but I digress.
The reason I’ve been pondering who I want in my circle of friends, is because these are some of the most important relationships we will ever have with other human beings. However, they don’t get the same treatment that romantic relationships do. Do you know how hard it is to find a best friend? I’m talking about a true best friend who loves you even when you’re talking shit about the girl who was checking out the guy you’re into. The person you can call early in the morning because you upset about something, whether it be a relationship that failed or the fact that your story/poem got rejected. The friend that will actually listen to you vent, instead of making blanket statements because said friend likes to think they’re an enlightened individual; but really they just like the sound of their own voice. Write me a screenplay about that, Nora Ephron.
Then there’s trying to find a group of female friends who can coexist peacefully without some weird psychological shit going on. Oh, it happens, and I’ve witnessed it plenty of times, but finding the right chemistry and balance is a tricky task. Look at the friendship dynamics in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants versus Now and Then, or Sex and the City (the tv show, those movies never happened) v. Desperate Housewives. Finding friends who get along with each other, or who are capable of having a deep connection with you is not as easy as pie.
We also have to maintain friendships once we’ve made them. I understand that anything that requires direct contact with a person is a bit more difficult to do than written communication. There have been times I’ve had some serious “games” of phone-tag going on, or one of us had to cancel for whatever reason. However, replying to an email and Facebook message is a little easier to work out. Yes, at times we fail to reply to an email or snail mail(sorry!), but at the end of they day it’s the minimum effort letting people know how you’re doing and showing that you in fact care about them and want to know about their lives. Communicating is such a big part in an ever evolving friendship that it’s sort of ridiculous how we let it fall apart.
Look, I had a pretty traumatic experience with a friend not returning a phone call. My friend knew she was dying, but didn’t tell me. I called her to wish her a happy holidays/see how she was, she didn’t return my call and died a few weeks later. I found out she died via Facebook invite to her memorial service. Yes, I should probably let it go, but I’m still angry. I’m mad about the fact she didn’t give me the chance to say goodbye to her and that the last few times we hung out together she was on business calls the majority of the time. I suppose the latter taught me to be “there” with the person I’m hanging out with instead of checking my phone. I feel the whole experience opened my eyes to cherishing the friends that are in my life now.
We (or maybe it’s just me), need to embrace the friendships we have, see the potential in the new ones and appreciate the ones that are no longer active in our lives. We need to say, “thank you for being a friend.” There are so many memories I keep close to me: the diet coke pow-wows, coffee and lunch dates, crazy train rides through France, stealing cake, re-enacting ANTM, dancing like a fool and not caring, the poetry meetings, wandering through bookstores, tarot readings, car tag and teasing our hair. Thank you for everything, my friends! I love you.
In the end Whistler is right, those “moments are gonna come, you can’t help that. It’s what you do afterwards that counts. That’s when you find out who you are.” So who are we?
“I see in them little details so specific to each of them that move me and that I miss, and…will always miss.” —Celine, Before Sunset
One of my dear friends joined Facebook a few weeks ago; which meant I had to go back and find photos that she was in, and tag her. There’s one picture taken 4 years ago featuring the two of us and a girl we were friends with at the time; we’re making funny faces and you can tell we’re having a blast. Over the past few years since the photo was taken, the girl and I had a spectacular falling out and haven’t spoken in over a year. I think their friendship is at a delicate stage, but I’m not sure to what extent. My friend told me that she doubted the three of us would ever be able to take a picture like that again. Some days I think about messaging the girl and saying that I wish we could go back to that time, where everything was natural and it seemed like we all cared about each other. Knowing how she is as a person, I doubt it would mean much. Where do you go after saying something like that? I wonder about all the words hanging in the air.
So many things go unsaid. There’s that one sentence that if I had said, maybe things would be different now. There are a whole lot of sentences I should have said to various people. I should probably still say them. They aren’t necessarily “I love you,” or “I miss you.” Sometimes they’re along the lines of “we’re not so different,” or “I would like your advice,” or “I know about the things you don’t say, but I’m okay with them.”
I’ve been thinking about the film, Before Sunset. Over the past few years that movie has connected me to so many people, and seeing it made me wonder about what happens to all those unsaid things. I think they add up to the moments and things you miss about a person. The reason you didn’t ask your million dollar question, was because you got caught up in them blowing smoke rings. Or maybe because you knew that last car ride should be a happy one, and that for just one minute you really could be close while jamming out to Josie Cotton. Would those moments have happened had they not been a smoker? What if they had put on some lame-o music instead?
In Before Sunset, Celine talks about how “you can never replace anyone, because everyone is made of such beautiful specific details.” I wonder if my former friend would care about all the details I miss about her: like the time we stole cake from the neighbor boys, or the nights I’d paint violet and silver eyeshadow on her eyes. There’s one moment, and maybe it shouldn’t matter much, but I had been crying to another friend when she walked in the room. I hate crying in front of people so I tried to compose myself; she sat down in front of me and said “I know.” That was it, we didn’t need to talk about what was bothering me. It was something so simple that still means so much to me.
There are tiny elements that represent every person I’ve ever felt connected to. Some are a collection of things that I could spend hours trying to capture on paper. Others, maybe one specific item or moment that defines who they are, what we are…or were. Like Celine, I am obsessed with details, but I’m also curious about whether or not people care about what they are. Sometimes I just want to say, “wouldn’t you like to know the details I miss about you?”
Yesterday Jezebel.com featured an article about childhood friendships; it was originally published in the Daily Mail. The piece is mainly about how friendships from childhood are the ones that tend to last forever. Because we are forced to spend all day with our friends during our formative years we supposedly create these intense bonds that last well into adulthood. Now I don’t completely disagree with that sentiment, I’m still friends with a few people from high school and middle school. We’ll always share certain memories and experiences from those times in our lives that the friends we make later on won’t understand/care about because they weren’t there. However, that doesn’t mean that the friends I’ve made over the last few years won’t be life long nor does it mean that they are any less valuable than those I’ve had for a longer period of time. Two of the people I’m closest with are people I’ve met within the last 5 years, one of the two I met last year.
The comments on the post are mixed: some are still friends with their preschool buddies, others are really only close to the people they met later on in life, a lot have a mix. Some commenters point out that childhood friendships (turned into adult ones) can be simply friendships of convenience, or have pathological/co-dependent elements to them. I have seen that side. I’ve also seen how exclusive those friendships can be, to the point where it means ignoring friends who aren’t in that group because they aren’t as “important” as those friends are.
I once had a friend/ex-roommate, *Ellen, who conducted our friendship like the ones she had with her “friends from home.” What this meant was, I basically had to initiate contact between us, because God forbid she ever IM or email me first. I had to tolerate her flakiness and not get wished “Happy Birthday” because she didn’t see at as important. I think the cake topper was when we had a falling out she chose to side with the friend she knew longer–even though they were being false. I suppose what frustrated me was as roommates I really saw the potential for us to have a great friendship–to the point where I would’ve considered her one of my closest friends. But, when I was constantly being compared to that group of friends and their standards there was no way we would’ve been able to maintain any sort of friendship, especially when she wasn’t willing to meet me half way.
In the end I do disagree with the article’s author, Lucy Cavendish’s statements. I don’t think it’s fair to limit ourselves to the friends we made when we were kids. We never know who really will allow us to be who we truly are, who will help us grow into a better person. Saying that it will only be our tween/teen friends ends up limiting our possibilities. I want the option to have a great friendship with those I’ve met in the last few years and those I’ve known forever. I also want the chance to make even more amazing friendships.
“I don’t think people really change. I think they, we, can become better versions of what we are, more efficient, more impactful, hopefully less destructive. ” — William Bradley
I’ve been thinking about this quote ever since Bradley wrote up his review of the season finale of Mad Men. I suppose I’ve always been infatuated with the idea reinvention, changing into something completely different…for the better, of course. In a way it’s a sort of Frankenstein idea of the emotional and mental self, keeping things you like, getting rid of those you don’t.
I like to think that for the most part we are constantly evolving, making subtle changes not only for ourselves but for those around us. Maybe it means keeping in touch with people who really do care about you, and letting go of the people you’ve out grown. Or maybe it’s even something superficial, like remembering to put the toilet-paper on the toilet-roll holder because you know the empty cardboard drives your partner crazy.
Lately I’ve been wondering if people really are capable of change. I had a
argument discussion with a friend a few weeks ago, where she stated that she didn’t like certain aspects of her personality and was trying to change them. I kept telling her that it was a great thing and that I hoped she found what she was looking for. At the end of the day I’m not really sure what she wants to fix. I feel like maybe it was a nice thing to say at the time, but since then there hasn’t been any real effort on her part to sort of keep the ball rolling. I’ll be honest, I feel duped and find the scenario to be along the lines of her “[announcing] abruptly that [she] has evolved — instead of actually evolving.” I feel like when you’re trying to repair certain aspects of yourself or relationships that need to be mended and managed, well, you can’t really go on hiatus.
On the other hand I’m constantly confronted by the idea of people becoming to be some bizarre ideal that they hold near and dear to their hearts. In a previous entry I mentioned a roommate who used to give us hints of the beautiful person she could be, but then devolved into something selfish and superficial. Will she one day feel like she should do a 180, and find herself on the path to becoming a better person?
I’m always hopeful that people will change for the better. I hope they wake up and see the friends they have who truly care about them. It would be wonderful to have self-awareness and see how we’ve slighted people or unintentionally hurt them, and change those behaviors. It would be great if we became more caring and generous. But by fixing those elements are we actually changing? Or is Bradley right, and we’re simply becoming better versions of ourselves?
Inspired by Sara’s post.
I joined Facebook back in early 2005; my first instinct was to snark on the site because the only people on there were my former high school classmates, and I wasn’t ready to “care” about what was going on in their lives. Then more of my friends started joining, and people I hadn’t seen in 13 years started contacting me. Soon it was the place to make plans, and keep in touch with my friends. I was even more excited when the UK hoped on the bandwagon because it meant I no longer had to write individual emails to my friends, all I had to do was update my status and write “how are you?” on their wall. Voila, a way to “maintain” a friendship.
I was also won over by the addition of applications and quizzes. Let’s face it, I think it’s important that people know I’m most like Elizabeth Bennett, and that if I were an ice cream flavor then I would be mint chocolate chip. One Facebook friend complained that these quizzes were about procrastination and a waste of time. It’s possible that those are some peoples’ motivations, but I think it all boils down to narcissism.
At this point, Facebook has become about showing the world who we think we are. We’re selling ourselves trying to prove to our “friends” that our lives are pretty damn good. Example: I know people who are constantly telling their SO via facebook that they love them. In reality, the relationship isn’t so good. Another example: a friend, wanting to show what a good step-daughter she is, posted a Mother’s Day message to her step-mom(who doesn’t have a Facebook)This resulted in a number of “likes” and showing of approval from various friends. Why not actually call the step-mom, the person it would actually mean something to? Well, the direct call doesn’t show the world that you are amazing for caring about someone you really don’t have to.
Maybe that’s unfair, maybe people do care, but I do think we’re getting pretty lazy when it comes to showing affection/interacting with people outside of Facebook. What happened to actually emailing/writing friends to fill them in? What about calling them? A few weeks ago I had a friend message me via FB instead of calling me to tell me she couldn’t make it to our lunch. Just a few years ago she would’ve called, left a voice mail and I would have known sooner rather than later that my plans had changed. Maybe I’m one of the few that doesn’t have instant access to FB, but honestly, a call seems more personal. It seems like your actually participating in a friendship.
Maybe it’s time we back away from the computer, call up one of our friends and see if they want to meet for coffee. Maybe we actually make the effort instead of letting FB do the work for us. Maybe it’s time we get back to the “real world.”