Thursday, February 26, 2004
$20 in Ammunition
Dear Warriors in the World,
This letter is so late this week cuz I was hoping to get someone else to do it. But you’re stuck with me again, so it’s political.
I saw a bumper sticker on a truck this morning, right next to a flag. It said, “I’ve only got $20 with me—in ammunition.” Right next to a big old flag, as though that kind of attitude is the American Way: bullying, blustering, intimidating. Yeah, right, that’s something to be real proud of. And these are the people also saying that violence in MOVIES and VIDEO GAMES are causing problems with kids today? While they glorify REAL LIFE violence? Get real.
Since we started the Iraq War, there are so many flags around, as well as those stickers that say “Support OUR troops.” What are these people thinking? Tell me, please, cuz I do not get it. Like thinking or questioning authorities in government is anti-democratic? Like suggesting the real reasons for war might be other than what our leaders are saying? Real support for our troops includes the insistence on keeping our government honest, especially when these rich old white government boys are sending young men and women to die for their own greed. People who think it’s wrong to question government authority don’t really want a democracy, cuz that’s what democracy means, that its citizens have the OBLIGATION to do that: to question, and to protest when that’s called for.
Last year, one social studies teacher complained about how protesters back in the day spit on soldiers returning from Viet Nam; that’s in the books. Well, I’m older than she is. I remember reading about that in the newspaper when it happened—somewhere in the more eastern Midwest, as I recall. It was a very isolated incident. I went to plenty of protest rallies and demonstrations at that time, all peaceful except for when the guard came at us with tear gas and clubs for holding candles and singing. I also talked to plenty of folk at the time, including returning soldiers protesting against the war. Other than that one media flap of that one much publicized spitting incident, I never heard or saw anything like that, and yet that anomaly became THE story. Ugh. I guess it still works that way.
Last spring I attended an anti-war rally, a peaceful and orderly one of a few hundred people, and there were at least 50 cops there, cops that were not needed for anything I could see. I’d recently read in the paper that local cops were now working with “Homeland Security” forces, so when I saw a cop with a very state-of-the-art video camera trained carefully and deliberately on all of us, getting shots of all the folk in the crowd, I thought “Uh-huh; I’ve seen this before.” Those were MY taxes at work, investing in expensive equipment trained on the “enemy”: people like me just trying to participate in their own democratic process. But here’s what pissed me off the most. The high school where I worked didn’t have ANY video equipment at all; budget cuts, you know.
Have a great week, and remember to . . .
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
From Guest Editor Zarkari: "Bushwhacked"
Hey, people. I just want to talk to you about the way America is getting bushwhacked and how it has anything to do with you.
Now everyone knows that the US is losing jobs, though it’s not all Bush’s fault. It’s been going on awhile with so-called free trade, but his policies are making it worse by giving tax cuts to big business. He lets them do whatever they want, no strings. That’s supposed to help the US. But big business just keeps making more money while they ship out more and more jobs, especially assembly jobs, to countries with cheaper labor, like India or China. So some people are making more and more money while the rest of us are looking for jobs or getting jobs with worse pay.
As far as our war with Iraq and their WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction), I will admit Saddam Hussein is an ass, but we still haven't found any WMDs. So what happened? We got lied to. But even worse, North Korea openly says they want WMDs, and what did our prez do? Give North Korea an ultimatum? No. Want go to war with with North Korea? No. He didn't do much at all, just talk. Somehow Iraq
couldn’t be talked to? North Korea doesn’t have oil? Well, war should always be a last resort and pre-emptive strikes (starting a war first because you think someone else might start one) are not the American way. We are not supposed to be an aggressive country.
So let’s get un-bushwhacked next November.
NOTE FROM GAIL: ZARKARI KINDLE IS AN EX-STUDENT AND GREAT POET WHO ALWAYS AMAZED WITH HISTORICAL AND POLITICAL FACTS NOBODY ELSE KNEW. I ALSO VIVIDLY RECALL A MANDATORY PUBLIC SCHOOL EVENT WITH A CHRISTIAN BAND THAT VERBALLY ABUSED EVERYONE WHILE TRYING TO "SAVE" US. WHEN ZARKARI, WHO IS MUSLIM, MOVED TO LEAVE THE TENT, THE LEADER YELLED, “WHAT? AREN’T YOU MAN ENOUGH TO STAY?” AH, YES, THOSE THINGS AREN’T SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN IN THE US EITHER . . . ZARKARI IS ON THE WWP ADVISORY BOARD.
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
From Guest Editor Beth Kyong Lo: "Scales"
I love scales . . . I hate scales.
Whenever I get on one I cringe and am usually disappointed. Sometimes I get on them and my eyes tell me I’m too low but my brain gloats . . . 101, yes!
Even when I’m pregnant I dread getting onto the doctor’s scale. I hold my breath and follow the medical assistant’s hand movements across the array of numbers, back and forth, get it just right . . . please not too high, please not too high. When I’ve gained, I feel bad as I walk out of the office. And when I’ve stabilized or lost weight, I’m initially happy, but once again, I feel bad when I leave the office.
I need a scale in my bathroom or my bedroom but I won’t break down and get one because I was always on top of my old one obsessing, dieting, being mad at myself. So I got rid of it. But I still need one. And I wonder how I’m going to get to one . . . but I can’t find one. Damn scales!
I’m not anorexic. My Body Mass Index ranges between 17-18.2. Although one site called me Calista and told me to stop checking my BMI, I am not anorexic, just underweight. I have not gone beneath the 85 percent mark for my normal weight, haven’t missed my periods (well, I’m either pregnant or breastfeeding for the past 5-6 years), and I don’t look like a bag of bones.
I guess I do feel bad sitting in psychopathology during eating disorder lectures, envying the videos of anorexic clients, going through the readings that I found relevant in my own life—but they’re quickly dismissed as over psychopathologizing myself, something commonly done in graduate school.
When my Korean adopted (KAD) friends talk about hoarding and body image and food schedules and if it is possibly a KAD thing, I do feel like a fat pig, an ugly fat pig sitting next to the . . . and lately, my ankle bones feel like they’re going to fall off when I’m just lying in bed trying to go to sleep . . . and when I have sex with my husband, I feel like he’s going to break me in half, crush my ribs, snap my legs right off my trunk. I have a hard time enjoying our intimacy because I watch how wobbly my thighs seem, or how from the side angle, I’m almost not there . . . and afterwards, as I pinch my fat rolls around my torso, I tell him I need to lose weight and he says I’m a freak, that I’m so scrawny it’s scary.
My brain sees it but my eyes just won’t.
I hate scales.
NOTE FROM GAIL: BETH KYONG LO IS ONE OF OUR UPCOMING AUTHORS. HER BOOK OF STORIES AND VIGNETTES WILL BE PUBLISHED JUNE 2005.
Thursday, February 05, 2004
Shock: It's Not Political!
Dear Fellow Warriors in the World,
Thursday: pretty late for a Monday letter. I’ve been crazy busy, something I’m sure too many of you can relate to. But I just had something happen this morning that I’ve got to write about, even if it sounds sappy.
A semi pulled up with about 600 pounds of posters. A sixty-ish white guy with some additional weight on his frame got out and man, he was snappy and churlish, close to downright mean. First he snarled at me to shovel the few, small mounds of snow left in the long driveway so he wouldn’t “break his neck” getting his four-wheeler up the drive; I obliged. Then, ripping off the shrink-wrap around the skidded posters, he demanded a cutter for the metal bands that went around them. Despite my wondering how the hell he could possibly get 2,000 loose posters up the driveway, I again obliged him. Then he said we’d have to carry the posters by hand up the driveway. I started out by taking a large chunk of them, and watched as he picked up maybe a dozen posters.
I was already in a bad mood when the man got there, was behind in a lot of things I should have already done, and I was about to snap. Then I watched the guy walking, saw his twisted-up, depressed and angry face, and he looked so cramped up into a tiny, little gray box of the world. He looked isolated, unconnected. So in one split second I decided to go against my immediate impulse. I wanted to know if he could get out of that little, closed-up box and reconnect to the world. I asked him if he’d been having a bad day and he snapped some response. I kept taking the big chunks of posters while he took the small ones, and as we passed each other on the driveway, I’d say something about his job. Soon he was complaining about the dispatcher, and about another driver who could pretend nobody was at a prison to pick up a delivery if he didn’t feel like delivering something. He explained that he had a bad shoulder and apologized for not being able to carry more posters.
Over about thirty minutes, he kept growing more and more animated, talking about his sometimes 12 hour days, and his son’s girlfriend who was trying to finish high school without a place to live, and his wife’s work with physically and mentally challenged students. By the end of that time, we were walking together up and down the driveway, even waiting for each other sometimes. He waited while I got him a cup of coffee to take with him and I swear the man was actually beaming by the time he left. I felt a lot better, too. We had seen each other as human beings struggling in the same harsh world, and we were both out of our tight little gray boxes, at least for a while.
Have a great week.