June 16, 2002
When September 11th happened, along with many people, I fell into a deep despair about the world around me. For me, it was less about the specifics of the event, though they were horrific, but more about the state of humanity. Everyone jockeyed for position, ranking this event among the worst in history. I was a bit more hesitant to make such conclusions and not because it did not terrify me. Rather, I wondered why this atrocity had such an effect on me and the lives lost in other places just ticked by on cnn while I ran on the treadmill. It seems an affront to humanity that somehow US lives matter more. Somehow the lives of the people in countries we continue to exploit don't matter as much. And even the lives of our fellow citizens who suffer and/or die from systemic flaws don't amount to the lives of those lost on September 11th. I was focused on the despair but ever so lost on action.
Before I managed to formulate a plan for myself, we all got back to living somehow and yes, I even went back to the gym. Those extra pounds around the waist mattered again. Regular programming came back to our televisions. Suddenly, that world that came crashing down on us last fall seemed distant and the bombs we pay for with our labor day in and day out dropped on someone else's children.
As a self-titled Bleeding Heart Liberal (I can't imagine a nicer thing to say about someone), I come in and out of guilt. I feel guilty for not doing enough. I feel guilty for doing the wrong thing. I feel guilty for having been born here in a country relatively free of the war we see in distant places. I feel guilty knowing that the country I live in and help finance is guilty of the violence in these places. That's a lot of guilt for a non-Catholic and I needed a release, but not one that plummeted me into complacency. I wanted to stand up and be heard, instead of complaining to friendly ears about how there is no way to make a difference.Nova and Michael Moore!
Sometimes you need a jump-start. I got that in the form of a Michael Moore lecture in April at Lewis & Clark College in Portland. My brother-in-law was able to get tickets for me, my sister, my brother, a friend of ours and himself. The lecture started at 7:00. Vanessa and Dal got there about 3:00. Gabe and I got there about 4:00. We wanted to make sure we had good seats. I even brought a camera so I could immortalize the event (got a book signed by Mike and a picture with him!!!). By the time 7:00 rolled around, the gymnasium at Lewis & Clark was filled to the brim with people. The organizers asked for people to scoot in as close as possible so they could fit more people in. Those of us with actual seats muttered under our breath about potential fire code violations as person after person filled up the aisle, but I was definitely encouraged by the show of support for Michael Moore.
Moore is the director of the critically-acclaimed documentary, Roger & Me. He also directed, "The Big One," a documentary about his book tour for "Downsize This!" and recently had the #1 Bestseller on the New York Times list and Amazon.com for his latest book, "Stupid White Men." Michael Moore has his detractors, but he is a political role model of mine. And it's not because he is perfect or has all the answers, but because he uses his influence and his meager pop culture status, to spread the word that all is not content in the U S of A — that we can and should do better by people.
The lecture was nearly two months ago, so not everything he said is still fresh in my mind but the spirit of his talk is very much with me today. I remember sitting in the audience and hearing him give example after example of how we have allowed our government to be taken from us and how the current administration has exploited the suffering of this nation after September 11th to further their agenda of hate, secrecy and wealth privilege. I was inspired that night through Michael Moore's tales of his reluctant activism in his youth to his deliberate protest of the current state of affairs today and reminded of the optimism I have for making a difference in this world. It may sound a bit cheesy, but I truly believe that in small ways we can facilitate free thought and encourage people to think beyond their respective cul-de-sac.
At the lecture, an audience member notified MM that there was a anti-war march/rally the next day that was going to start at Holladay Park at Lloyd Center and end up at Pioneer Courthouse Square downtown. I knew about it, but had not yet committed to going. However, being at that lecture really brought things into perspective for me for about the billionth time in my life (we really do have short attention spans). I decided right then and there that I was going to that rally and not out of guilt, but more out of respect for my own beliefs — to actually give an outlet for this despair that had been dormant in me for some time, particularly following September 11th.
I am going to write about the rally in a separate entry as there are a few other issues I would like to address regarding that event, but I will close this entry with a poem that I wrote in the early days after 9-11. I was sad, angry and wholly confused by a world filled with such hate and contempt and I reference not only the people in those planes and those who helped plan, but those people who refuse to look inward and recognize the difference they themselves can make to further the cause of peace.
Resolve for Disintegration
Steel hearts and concrete veins
Shattered, torn from safety
Red, white and blue
The color of blood
That bleeds from a gaping wound
A symbol now a hole.
Beating the same drum
Of death and sorrow
Though tears fall
No one to prevent the flood
Question the truth
A lie now uncovered.
We answer without fear
A nation's solidarity
Excuses the carnage
Waiting in the wings
Exacting almighty revenge
Horror now displaced.
June 1, 2002
That's right, everybody. Get over the shock now. That is a picture of the US flag burning to the left here. And no, I am not a communist and yes I am fond of the United States (not that you have to be to live here). To read about the dangers of flag burning, please read here. To read about why I have chosen this image for my politics site, keep reading!
In eighth grade, Junior Scholastic (that grade school journalistic endeavor we used to periodically receive for current events class) held a contest for an essay about what else? Capital P, PATRIOTISM. I am a bit competitive and I really wanted to win, so I came up with a novel idea. I would write an essay explaining how flag burning was a patriotic act. I am sure you will be surprised, but I did not win the contest. It turns out they were looking for something a little bit more puritan.
I have always felt a bit cheated by losing that contest, because I thought it was THE way I could get my message out to people. Much like when I tried out for Rose Festival princess in high school, almost solely to have the chance to be interviewed by the media and actually say something meaningful — lost that, too. I started to think someone was trying to keep me quiet. The internet has changed all that for me and so many other crazed people who think everyone wants to hear what they have to say. Well, I am not forcing anyone to read this, so lay off! This page is my warehouse for all things political from essays to sidenotes to the eventual online storage of my undergraduate thesis on the death penalty. And though I do not have that poignant essay on patriotism, I hope I can capture its spirit on these pages.
A lot has happened since I first set up this site for public consumption. (I am taking great liberty to use the term "public" as the extent of my readership is probably just a few loyal somebodies. Thanks people!) This summer will be quite an adventure for me as I am extending my experience in this life to the international scene. Granted, I have been to Canada and though the folks up north have their own wonderful distinct culture, it just really doesn't feel like another part of the world up there in Vancouver, BC.
So which lands' countrymen/women should prepare for my most-assuredly boisterous arrival? At the end of this month, I have the privilege of visiting the historically rich, pop culture extravaganza that is Japan. I am hoping I will get an equal balance of the two: a little mastery of the sword and a little socializing with Bad Badtz Maru.
The reason for my trip is quite extraordinary. A little over a month ago, my boss at adidas informed me that I would be attending the World Cup Final in Yokohama, Japan. Now, this was a Monday morning and anyone who knows me well can vouch for the fact that a) I am not a morning person and b) Mondays are not really my sharpest day of the week. So, I thought it was a particularly cruel joke being played on me. After several denials on my part, I saw the official invitation with my name on it — official letterhead and everything. This was no joke! So on June 25th, I head off for Tokyo. I will be staying in Yokohama and will return to Portland the day after the World Cup Final. My brother and all his football loving friends are extremely envious, but I have promised to bring back tales of the premier sporting event in the world — even a baseball aficionado like myself can admit the magnitude of this thing. What an experience it will be!
For the days I am not attending the most anticipated match since the turn of the millennium, I will be cavorting in Tokyo with my friend Steph. It is going to be too fun! I met Steph through my boyfriend and though we met about a year ago, we just started hanging out after Peat went to New Zealand. Seems the timing was right for a new friend with Peat going thousands of miles away and she's also super cool in her own right, so it worked out great for me! If anyone has any tips for getting around in Japan or places you think we should visit email me at email@example.com.
You would think a trip like that would be enough excitement for one summer. But as they say, when it rains, it pours. (All of you sun-loving individuals will interpret that as a bad thing, but hey, I am an Oregonian. The rain is what makes it so beautiful around here, so when something good happens to me, I don't mind using a metaphor about rain.) I get just over a month and a half to recover from my trip to Japan before I head off to the beautiful island country of New Zealand. For heaven's sake, if my boyfriend were going to school in a remote part of Siberia (hey, that is a bit redundant isn't it?), I would be excited to go there. However, in addition to the fact that I will be seeing him for the first time in 6 months by the time AUGUST TWO FOUR rolls around, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to visit a country which by all accounts is absolutely stunning. I am one fortunate individual. Again, I am a newbie to this international thing. I just received my first passport a couple of weeks ago, so if you have anything to tell about New Zealand that might be of interest to me, email me at the address above.
Keep checking back, particularly sometime in July. I would like to be able to write updates from Japan while I am there, but I am not sure if that will be possible. Let me know if you would like to be on my mailing list.