Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wake up

One summer in college I worked at a grocery store. I was hired as a cashier and then asked to be a kind of manager of the cashiers and other staff people who would gather carts, etc (for the same amount of pay as a regular cashier). Basically the most important part of my job was that I had a key, and when one of the cashiers had to do a return or something else "not run of the mill" they would turn on their flashing light and I would come over and use the key to unlock their drawers and they could proceed.

Once I walked over to answer a flashing light, the cashier was an older Asian woman, who had an accent but was always very smiley and nice. She showed me her dilemma. Two young boys had come to her lane with a cart full of groceries and they were about 60 cents short. The older of the two explained to me the problem, they were asked to get everything on the list and were given the exact amount of money it should have cost. But he said they got everything off the list, but they didn't have enough money. I looked at the boys and the cashier and didn't hesitate to pull some change from my pocket and cover the rest of their grocery bill. Never mind that I had just recently started earning money that summer and just recently stopped living off of soup cans that my mother had brought over during the school year. Sixty cents was still worth a lot to me, but I felt bad for these boys. Very young, small children and I thought that I could have been them. No, my parents never sent me and my sisters to the grocery store to buy groceries for the family. But many times we were left on our own. I didn't know what circumstances these boys had at home, but I know they had a lot more responsibility at that age than anyone should.

The cashier flashed a huge smile and finished up their purchase. The older boy thanked me and prompted his brother to head home. I walked away, with thoughts racing in my head. I was glad I was able to help, but I wanted to do so much more, I wanted to tell them that they were doing a good job and that surely with perseverance and hard work they would go somewhere in life. And it wouldn't always be like that.

 I don't know exactly why this experience came to mind, in light of the Zimmerman verdict, it just came to me. The color of my skin and of my families skin has always mattered in both small and big ways. And we are just Filipinos, in one way or another it's mattered. And how could it not, it's the first thing a person sees. My own mother will make comments, especially when I've been out and about in the summer and even though I use sunscreen daily, she will say, "I would have never believed that I could have a daughter as dark as you."

It mattered when I was a little girl and decided to hang with my Dad while my sisters and Mom went to the grocery store. Which was a major decision, since my sisters and I were pretty inseparable as children. But for whatever reason I decided to walk with him and wait for them to finish the shopping. It was at the little shopping center closest to our home in Glen Burnie, the first place I remember living. We had been there countless times, and while my sister and my mom went in the large anchor grocery store. My dad and I walked leisurely around the shopping center. It was very small, and there was a small liquor store. My father meandered in and put $5 on the counter and asked for a pack of Marlboros (this was back in the day when cigarettes were quite affordable, there were even some vending machines that sold them, so needless to say five dollars was more than enough). The man behind the counter told my father he did not have enough money. My father not skipping a beat quickly took back his five dollars and we walked out.

He didn't say anything to me, and I didn't quite understand what had happened. I was just left with an indescribable unease. I stored this incident away and didn't let myself process it til years later. We were always reminded that the color of our skin mattered, from the idiot boys who would taunt us with Japanese/Chinese insults to the man who wouldn't sell my father a pack of cigarettes. I can only imagine what its like to be a young black male.

My heart goes out to Trayvon's family. My heart goes out to those two little boys who bought the groceries for their family. My heart goes out to anyone that has been prejudged because of the color of their skin. And it makes me sad and angry when those that have never walked in my shoes much less the Trayvon Martin's of the world to say that this has nothing to do with race. It means that we can't even begin the discussion to make things better when you won't even acknowledge that it even exists.

It's not just ignoring that race matters, but the complete insistence that "people" blow it out of proportion. I am a girl and I definitely enjoy benefits from being a girl, but there are prejudices too. Everyone does it, the important thing is to acknowledge your prejudices and try your best to be decent to everyone. The worst thing is to discount what others are feeling over the tragedy of a full grown man killing an unarmed teenager, or even more telling is ignoring it all together. I guess some people are thinking it will all just go away if we just ignore it, and maybe it will for some...but I think that really depends on how dark your complexion is.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bug Memorials

Another great find from Mental Floss, bug memorials:

I LOVE this, it combines a lot of things that just are so me in the soo wrong, they are right ways. The first re-occurring nightmare I can remember as I kid, is very distinct and clear to me to this day. I was at the bottom of the steps in our old house in Glen Burnie. We had green pile carpet on the steps that had been worn down, and thin under so much foot traffic. At the bottom was a small landing where house slippers and various shoes were stockpiled as people came in and out of the house. I was at the bottom of these steps watching a small fly like insect, buzzing around, I reached over the fuzzy pink slippers with snow white heads affixed to the front to find a nice sound rubber flip flop. I intently watched the insect for several more minutes, and then without warning I swiftly and proudly slapped it, killing it instantly. I looked down at the dead fly body, wondering to myself if I should get a tissue to clean it up, and was astonished to see it's soul, it's ghost rising from the bug carcass and I knew it had come from the dead to haunt me. This revelation always jarred me awake. But it was so vivid and so microscopically tragic.

So the idea, the fact that someone out there has come up with making memorials for some of the smallest, most reproachful living things on our planet, that just warms my heart. Tiny flowers, tiny mementos, I do love teenie, tiny things. Of course there may be a deeper meaning, that maybe we are all cockroaches or flies if viewed by some one who is much larger, or much further away. Maybe one should reflect on the fact that life is fleeting, and think of those who will mourn after you pass. That maybe all tragedies are microscopic from someone else's point of view.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Where are you taking me?

We just saw this artistic, inspiring, interesting, independent film that is now showing at the Anthology Film Archives (32 2nd ave. @ 2nd. st.) Showtimes are 7pm & 8:45. This is a portrait of Uganda, but one that is neither exploitative or sensationalized. It invites the viewer to become a visitor to Uganda. All of it, soaking it in, from everyday people, this is their everyday lives. It was refreshing and beautiful, and thoughtfully shot. If you get the chance I recommend seeing this, not just because I know the director/film maker, but because it's a great film and deserves to be seen. But hurry, it's only showing through March 8th.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Help

The Help was the first book I bought electronically, I have an iPad2 but bought the book through the Amazon Kindle app, why? Because it bugs me that Apple is so greedy. What was funny was that Apple made it intentionally difficult for me to find the Amazon Kindle store, but once I did Amazon had a little button to add the Amazon Kindle store to my apps, so I did that.

This being said I wanted to read The Help before seeing the movie, and it was good book, probably better than the movie in most ways a book usually is, there is more detail and more introspection. The book has different chapters each written by one of the characters in the story so there is more depth and understanding of who that character is and what motivates them. A lot more happens in the book, the movie simplifies everything. But the cast of the movie was pretty good, so I'd say it's worth watching the movie too. Although it's a bit predictable. I guess I'm luke warm about it. If I had to choose one, I would choose the book.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Paint stripping from doors and door frames

If you are considering stripping paint from a door or a door frame, please reconsider. It must be one of the most frustrating, horrible, tortures you could willingly expose yourself to. I love DIY projects, I love to paint, venetian plaster, special finish walls. I am just as happy putting together furniture or fixing small things around the house. I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty, In fact when we first bought our current apartment I was most excited about steaming off the wall paper in one room. Well ok, I was most excited about having two bathrooms, but the wall paper stripping was a close second. That was a messy job, but I got to rent a steamer and of course wanted to get the whole room finished in one weekend so that I didn't have to pay any extra for the equipment rental. It was challenging, but satisfying.

Almásy: "Every night I cut out my heart. But in the morning it was full again." from The English Patient.

The paint stripping is one thousand percent more difficult and only about 1/10th as satisfying. Because even if I am able to get nice solid chunks or sheets of paint off, there are crevices especially around the door frame that laugh at my sweaty brow, cramped hand and well worn six in one tool. Bits of paint layered in these crevices are almost impossible to remove. They taunt me, haunt my dreams and have just about beaten me. At the end of a few hours of working on this, I make a vow to just paint over everything the next day, that no one will notice and I can finally move on to finish painting the foyer. But the next morning I have just enough confidence (or foolishness) to believe I can do a little better and once again attack the paint first in a slow methodical way, then as time passes and I get tired and/or sore, my scrapping becomes frantic and half hazard and I don't believe It will ever end. To be honest I am almost finished, but the torture is that I've been almost finished for a few weeks now. One day I'll be finished, and one day I'll die, it will be interesting is to see which comes first.

If you still want to strip paint, here are some tips:
1. Use the paste version of paint stripper, I used 3M Safest Stripper (Semi-Paste) and also Back To Nature, Ready Strip.
2. Use Plastic wrap to cover the stripper, especially if you plan to let it set overnight. Try a humidifyer to keep the area from drying out completely.
3. Forget you ever thought about stripping the door or door frame and just get on with your life.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Hunger Games Trilogy

I blew through this trilogy in one weekend, angering John that I would stay up to all hours of the night trying to finish. They are very quick reads, and I loved them. Yes, the last book was a little uneventful especially compared to the big build up from the first two, but I still enjoyed it, and was surprised at how easily the author could bring me to tears. She did it in the first book so quickly that I was automatically hooked. A friend of mine recommended it to me, she said it's a Young Adult novel about teenagers who are forced to participate in the Hunger Games, to fight for their lives. As soon as she told me what it was about I was a little turned off, but I kept hearing so many great things about it. And once I started reading them, I fell for them hook, line and sinker. Katniss Everdeen is the heroine and she has many faults, but that's why she's so likeable and relate-able. The author Suzanne Collins was able to capture elements of life as a teenager that almost anyone could relate to, or at least any girl I know, but then just as swiftly put Katniss in situations that no one has had to face, and that's why these series work so well.
I highly recommend them, as I said I zipped through all three in one weekend, and now am waiting for the first movie to come out, hoping that they don't ruin it. And yes the idea of making people kill each other in a televised sport is not new, it definitely reminded me of the Running Man, but these books seem perfect for our time with reality television and apathy toward politics. I would really love to hear what teenagers who've read it think of it, I of course was all caught up in the love triangle. Yeah, I'm a sucker for all that stuff. But these books are a great distraction, so get to reading them already!