Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Another dose of cute

It's the mind-poison of anger, bitches

I hate whoever ate the rest of my Royal Dark Cadbury Mini Eggs. 'Cuz it wasn't me. I don't live here. By myself.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A dose of cute

The babies love each other:

Friday, March 27, 2009

Civilian deaths in Iraq

This blog is inspired by a conversation I had last night with a woman who works as a lawyer at the local woman's shelter. She mentioned that during the Iran hostage situation, newspapers would keep track of the number of days the Americans were being held hostage. It was her argument that newspapers don't keep track of the numbers anymore because all of our information is coming from about 5 different owners.

http://www.iraqbodycount.org/:
Estimates that there are between 91,337-99,721 civilian deaths. They base their numbers on published reports of deaths (reports which, some have argued have been inflated anyway so as to increase popular buy-in of the war (I assigned this article to my class a few weeks ago; they didn't really know what to do with it.)).

http://www.npr.org/news/specials/tollofwar/tollofwarmain.html:
These are some other sites NPR has identified in providing numbers of Iraqi casualties.

http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/democracyondeadline/mediaownership.html:
Information on who owns our media, in case you need a reminder.

http://www.thenation.com/blogs/state_of_change/421254/zombie_media_still_fighting_the_last_gotcha_war:
Here's an article from The Nation arguing that the press is ineffective in questioning Obama.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Anger and People-Pleasing

So, I had a run-in with Bank of America that has left me PISSED OFF. I was totally mismanaging my money, but my dumbassery aside, Bank of America embodies many of the problems of corporate and capitalist America. I'm not going to relate the details of this incident here (too boring), but I will share what I learned yesterday:
-I need to pay more attention to how I handle money. I was realizing that I was thinking that money isn't important to me, and now I think this might be a product of the mind-poison of delusion. So money has kind of become another thing, like food, that I need to constantly pay attention to in order to keep myself healthy/sane.
-Bank of America employees, especially Juan the Supervisor, just like other Americans being fucked in the ass by The Man, are unhappy people who have learned how to not relate people--they do this as a survival tactic. S and I were talking about this, and he suggested that it's easier to not have a human connection with people. And I disagreed with this because I think being robotic takes a toll on a person's overall health. And that, in turn, effects everyone. I just believe this.
-I get so angry at myself and then I get angry that I'm angry. Then, when I'm angry I start to believe that no one likes me. So I realized that I suppress/ignore my anger as a way to keep the peace and make everyone happy. That is, I believe that no one will like me if I'm angry, mostly because I don't like myself when I'm angry. So, when I was throwing my fit yesterday by myself, I just kept asking myself if I could accept what was happening--all of it (the situation, my varying emotions, America, corporations, humanity, etc.).
-That previous thought led me to think that the only way to accept something is with love.
-S was also saying that he appreciates the idea of tax money only going to help local communities. He got me thinking more about how to spend money locally and pay attention to the community that I actually live in. I know the idea of "Think globally, act locally" has been around for a while now, but I'm just starting to get it. I think I've been in a rage because of too much global and not enough local thinking.
-Also, Sister Ellie's blog had a link to an article by Chris Hedges, and in case it hasn't been completely obvious to those in academia, we are fucked. And not in a self-pitying kind of way--I can't really describe what kind of fucked this is. My point: how about starting a free college? The Tulsa World had an article yesterday about a local college opened by the Muscogee Nation for Muscogee people. This sounded like a great idea to me.

I think that's all the thoughts I've been thinking. I'm going to go listen to some "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" right now.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

When it's put in food terms, I totally understand what love is

I've been reading don Miguel Ruiz's The Mastery of Love and I'm really liking it. It seems kind of repetitive, but I like that, actually. He borrows (I believe (I'm too lazy to actually look this up)) a story to describe what a love relationship is like. He says that humans are basically guided by two types of emotions, love or fear. When one is acting out of love, he says, it is like one owns a magical kitchen. This kitchen has every type of food you could ever want, whenever you want it. You are able to partake of the food and share the food with the whole world--there is always enough. When you have a magical kitchen, you will not be foolish enough to answer to the dude who knocks on your door and offers you pizza in return for your love. You know, Ruiz says, that your own kitchen can provide even better pizza and you should know, Ruiz warns, that love does not ask anything of another person. Love accepts what is. If you are trying to change someone, then you aren't accepting that person, and therefore you are acting more out of fear than of love. This is a problem we all come by honestly, and we have the ability and the choice to notice our actions. We also have the ability and choice to change our response to whatever arises; that is, we don't have to respond the way we have always responded.

Ruiz also talks a lot about respect--this is a topic Sister Ellie and I were talking a lot about last week. She made the point that when you are staying in your own skin, you are respecting yourself and giving others permission to be themselves--you are respecting them. When you try to change someone, then you aren't really fully respecting that person (and you aren't fully respecting or trusting yourself). This one hits home to me because I have recognized my tendency to want to control and change people. I tend to believe that I know what is best for everyone else. While I like the part of me that seems in tune to people's emotions, I also see the ways in which I can step back and let others be who they are. Ruiz states that when we love ourselves we no longer take what other people do/say personally--this, I think, is such a great thought! It helps ease my guilty feelings and claim everything that's happened in my life as a lesson for me. While this sounds selfish, I actually think it's self-love, you know?

(And while I totally love metaphors, I am also wishing that I had a real magical kitchen that could cook whatever I wanted.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It's either Wendell Phillips or Mad-Eye Moody

The other day, Sister Ellie pointed out to me that personal freedom comes, like one of the founding fathers said in regards to political freedom, at the cost of constant vigilance. It was abolitionist Wendell Phillips who said, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." It was Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody who said, "Constant vigilance!"

Well, this Spring Break has found me a little less than constantly vigilant. But, I accept that--so there, judgmental self!

I have nothing really important to share other than I've missed writing in my blog these past few days. I've been thinking about relationships a lot and I came across an important realization today. I've been berating myself and feeling guilty for ways I've acted in my relationships (and not just romantic relationships, but also relationships with friends). Then I wondered, why does it seem like punishment is the only way to teach a lesson? Am I really learning to do better in the future the more I beat myself up about the past?

Um, no, I decided. Lesson-learning can be ongoing, but that doesn't mean I need to act contrite in order to prove that I'm sorry and, now, wiser.

To that end (and since it's tattooed on my skin), I would like send out a big "yes" and a smile to the past. Here's an apology and some laughter, you know?! And here's a big "yes" to the future. But, most importantly, here's a yes to right now.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Gem from Sister Ellie

So in the midst of everything, I nearly forgot to share that I had a great session with Sister Ellie the other day. We were talking about being in the moment and how every little thing that happens in life can be practice and can be something we can learn from. I told her that I understood that and that I was struggling with something else; and then I named it! I was struggling with the idea that everything we do now is practice for the next time when we can get things right.

Right is not an option, Sister Ellie said (to my great and enormous amusement!).

Isn't that amazing?! We can keep practicing and something and never get it right. I love this--it takes the pressure off.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Some current events

Spring has been researching more information on the financial crisis. If you haven't looked at her recent posts, then I recommend doing so soon.

I took my own sweet self out last night and saw Slumdog Millionaire (I enjoyed the movie). I'm trying to learn about India, and here's a NYT article on the high rate of childhood malnutrition. It turns out that 42.5% of children under 5 are underweight. The NYT article discusses the link between democracy and a suffering population.

Here's a NYT article on how the US is trying to ease tensions between political parties in Pakistan. One minute we are bombing them and the next we want to "help" them.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A poem!

Feministing.com posted the beginning of this poem the other day, but I wanted to share it here, too.

"Wild Geese," by Mary Oliver


You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.


Beautiful, right?! I love the first five lines. What happens when we just let go and love what we love?! Let's find out . . .!

You have it, too

So, I'm a little hesitant to share this because it is kinda cheesy and personal, but I wanted to pass along some advice I'm giving myself. Since I've been paying more attention to my motivation behind what I do, I've been feeling inadequate--especially in regards to school. And, well, it's just time to stop feeling inadequate. It's not time to become overly boastful (I'd like to think that that phase of my life is over), or boastful at all. Instead, as the Dalai Lama says (and Sister Ellie echoes), it's time to become motivated by love: "The more you are motivated by love, the more fearless and free your action will be."

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and it's helped me, I think, be a better teacher (which is to say that I'm actually enjoying teaching, instead of it feeling like an energy-drain). And I've used this idea to try to help motivate me to study more than I have; that's been difficult for me, though. But, it all kind of hit home last night as I was sitting down to write. I've been working on my memoir (I've even shared parts of it with my writing group), and I've been struggling with the form it's taking. There are so many things I want to say, things that seem rather disjointed at times, that I wonder if I should separate things into different books. So then I plan and organize and I don't write at all. Last night I realized that I can connect everything if I want to--it's my work and I only have to answer to myself! I'm not writing for anyone else, and I realize that I need to be my target audience. I just think that's the only way I'm going to get anything out. But it felt so refreshing to give myself permission to write what I want to write.

This leads to the cheesy part of this post. On an index card I wrote the following; I pass this along because I think you might benefit from it, too:

BIG PERMISSION: YOU HAVE IT! Courtney, you have ultimate permission to fuck up, be too much, be not enough, be tactless, be too honest, withhold, be coy, work, not work. You have ultimate permission to be in love and to love yourself. Do you need to answer to god? No. You don't need to answer to Dr. X*, or your mom**, or your students, or to three-years-ago you. You have this moment and you have love and responsibility--the creative response to this moment.

*I respect, admire, and am grateful for Dr. X, but sometimes I believe this person triggers some anxiety.
**No offense, you know, Mom!

It just feels good to reside in this skin and to realize that no one else can live my life for me. This seems like such a simple lesson, but it's one that I'm just now getting!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I'm gettin' it

I came across an old article in O, The Oprah Magazine by Martha Beck on how to organize priorities. She cites Stephen Covey, who set up the following way of labeling what you need to do; for each thing on your to do list, put them in the following quadrants:
Quadrant I: Important, Urgent
Quadrant II: Important, Not Urgent
Quadrant III: Urgent, Not Important
Quadrant IV: Not Important, Not Urgent

Covey argues that it's good to do the things in quadrant I and to not do the things in quadrant IV. We usually spend time, he claims, on items in quadrant III, when that energy could be spent in quadrant II.

This is an activity Beck cites from Covey to help organize some priorities; in Beck's words:

1. Get 20 or 30 notecards. On each card, write down one thing you should do, want to do, hope to do, plan to do, or dream of doing. Include everything, no matter how large or small. Keep this up until your brain runs dry.
2. When you've written down all your goals, plans, and ideas, separate the cards into two piles: things that have to be done right this minute (or feel like it) and those that don't.
3. Now go through both of these piles, separating each into 'important' and 'not important' stacks. The four resulting stacks correlate with the Covey Quadrants.
4. Carefully place both your 'not important' card stacks in a safe spot. This, if my experience is any indication, will ensure that you'll never find them again. If you do happen to stumble across them at any time in the future, burn them [Blogger's note: please burn carefully].
5. Commit to eliminating from your schedule all the activities that didn't make it into the 'important' stacks. If you have time after doing your important and urgent things, use it on important but not urgent activities. No matter how pressing something may seem to be, if it's not important, just don't do it.


Last night the idea of striving to live a "quadrant II life" made sense to me. I was lamenting (but not actually doing anything about) the fact that I have a headlight out. It's been out since January. It's now March. I was thinking that it's important to change it, and that at first it wasn't urgent, but as time has passed, it has become more urgent. If I had just changed the thing earlier, then it wouldn't be the little source of stress that it is now. Instead, it's shifted from quadrant II to quadrant III.

Of course this can be applied to other areas of my life, but it took the headlight example for me to get it. I'm going to try this index card activity today just to see if I gain any insights.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Happy International Women's Day!

Well, it's now practically over, but I want to send best wishes for a happy International Women's Day!

Let's hear it for our mothers (those who birthed us and those who didn't; those who give rise to life and newness (and to those who abhor such labels as "mother"); those women who came before (and showed us new ways); those women who came before (and showed us the same old ways); those women who are here now (showing us new ways); and those who are yet to come).

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Protest and Passion

Preliminary thought: I think the old days of protest are gone, in part, because society has become so self-focused--since we can now have things our way anywhere we go, this renders any form of dissent ineffective because we should have had the individual power to not be angered in the first place. I think critics of our generation see us as self-absorbed and ignorant to the power of collective action. I have certainly held this perspective, but now I see this self-absorption as an off-shoot of the change the hippies ushered in. It's as though today's environment attests to the power of protest by allowing us to have things the way we want. Unfortunately, as many have noted, we don't seem to want much more than our own selves to be gratified.

I think society honestly did want to change; it's just now things are so individuated that we don't have a sense of the power in collective action. Perhaps I would start to disagree with the notion that everyone feels so apathetic and powerless; maybe, instead, we all feel so powerful and we aren't sure what, exactly is worth our energy--this would be because we aren't connected to others who feel the same way.

In other news, there are two guitarists (one with a steel guitar) playing and singing on the porch next door. The air in Tulsa is warm and the tree are budding. It is spring and there is love and art all around!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Watchmen

So, last night I saw Watchmen with some friends. It's been a while since I saw a movie where people were applauding and cheering while watching it (way to be, teenage boys, way to be). If you're going to see the movie, then you may not want to read my response. If you have seen it, then I'd be interested in knowing what you think about the following.

No one I saw the movie with seemed to like the soundtrack. I liked all the songs that were played, songs from the Vietnam War era, but it was frustrating to see them used in this movie. I heard an NPR segment report a few weeks ago talking about the way in which music fueled the Vietnam protests and how this musical protest is absent today in relation to Iraq. (Or course, as I write this, I think about the Dixie Chicks, who were systematically forced off the air. But there is a difference in speaking out against war and in writing protest songs.) While the movie deals centrally with war and peace, it still seemed like these protest songs were being co-opted and watered-down for the sake of entertainment. Although, as Sara mentions, Forest Gump uses some of the same songs and the same argument could be applied to that movie.

I found the ending of the movie frustrating; it was implying that there would be nothing to report if world peace existed. I think this is bullshit. It reminds me of Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's discussion on the difference between anger and passion. I think with peace comes a deeper sense of passion for things we care about. Conflict and tension isn't the only source of action!

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

I'm a big fan of whoever has been planning TU's women's studies talks this year; they are pulling in people who aren't afraid to tell it like it is/was. On Thursday night, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, who was born and raised in central Oklahoma, talked about her experiences in the Women's Liberation Movement. She was funny, honest, and down-to-earth. She mentioned the S.C.U.M. Manifesto--I've only read about this; I've never known anyone who actually read it when it first came out! She talked about her arguments with Betty Friedan! She discussed the importance of "extremism" by stating that extremism makes other things possible; she says there aren't enough extremists or radicals around today. Agreed! I am whole-heartedly in agreement (which is to say I agree that sometimes we need to be radical in order to get anything done, but I also think radical positions in and of themselves are also valuable)!

Some other things from her talk that stood out to me were her emphasis on the importance of language and writing as well as her discussion of just how few women were involved in the movement. She named quite a few writers (including one of my favorites, Alix Kates Shulman) involved in the movement--hooray writers and activists! Hooray writing as activism; in fact, let this be the larger theme for this week. Writing is activism and we, as writers, need to claim it as such. Hooray for a change in the political climate that allows people to just speak the truth instead of needing to explain that it is even true; she mentioned ways in which the Bush administration manipulated language in order to spread lies. She just flat-out said they were lies--I couldn't remember a time when someone called the Bush administration liars during a public lecture without qualifying or explaining their statement. How fabulous! She also said that at the height of the movement there were about 200 women working across the country--only 200! She said they were able to receive quite a bit of media coverage and that they insisted on being interviewed by women reporters and taped by women camera-operators as way to promote women in the workplace.

In one class a while ago, the professor, Dr. Laird, off-handedly remarked, "Must we go back 100 years to find friends?" Oftentimes I relate to this feeling, and so it was refreshing to be in the (flesh-and-blood) presence of someone like-minded.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

This one goes out to the one who's taking exams next week

Two wonderful things have converged tonight: my desire to play the Ungame and to send Tara some well-wishes on her studying and resting this week.

The Ungame card for today asks: "When do you feel most confident?"

I would say I feel the most confident when I figure out how I really feel and then act according to those feelings. Case in point: last night I was feeling all periody and complainy, so I made Sara go with me to the store so we could buy chocolate.

Since it's been a while since we've played the Ungame (and I'm pretty sure I've just been playing by myself here), don't forget that you need to answer the question when adding the phrase "when masturbating," too. I feel the most confident when masturbating when the cats aren't around.

So, dear Tara, two pieces of advice: chocolate and a cat-free environment (let your hell-cat stay at the bf's, maybe?).

Maybe others can add their confidence advice?!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Happy 97th Post, To Someone Likeminded! (Why thank you, To Someone Likeminded replies)

So, in honor of this 97th post, I have changed the format of the blog. As Laminated Fragments says, "I'm over it [the pink, which he says is not really me anyway. To which I say, it's vagina-y--I'm nothing if not vagina-y]." I tried to wait for the make-over until the 100th post, but I couldn't wait that long or think of three more things to write about. And I've wasted about an hour changing this thing around: la-ame!

Sending love to you, tonight.

A real-life gun owner agrees with me (I say, in triumph)

In south Tulsa the other day, a real-life gun owner and I agreed on the following point: when one invests energy in self-defense, then that leaves less energy for more creative endeavors.

I am not really against gun-owning (although I am very much against killing people), and I see the value of self-defense. My point is that creative endeavors can be just as life-saving and worthwhile as self-defense.

More Bombing in Pakistan

From the NYT on Feb. 20: "Obama Expands Missile Strikes Inside Pakistan"

It is unclear why the Obama administration decided to carry out the attacks, which American and Pakistani officials said occurred last Saturday and again on Monday, hitting camps run by Mr. Mehsud’s network. The Saturday strike was aimed specifically at Mr. Mehsud, but he was not killed, according to Pakistani and American officials.
The Monday strike, officials say, was aimed at a camp run by Hakeem Ullah Mehsud, a top aide to the militant. By striking at the Mehsud network, the United States may be seeking to demonstrate to Mr. Zardari that the new administration is willing to go after the insurgents of greatest concern to the Pakistani leader.

But American officials may also be prompted by growing concern that the militant attacks are increasingly putting the civilian government of Pakistan, a nation with nuclear weapons, at risk.

Middle Fingers: Up

Please read the following NYT article and then tell me it's bullshit: "In Tough Times, the Humanities Must Justify Their Worth"

How about this instead: "Liberal Arts Education Could Give a Fuck If It's Justified: You Business People Fuck Us Over Regardless of Your Knowledge of Literature." Or, "Humanities Already Knows Everyone Else Needs to Justify Their Worth (In Things Other Than Dollars)."

I'm just tired of things being waged like a war. Smart people already know there's a need for humanities in our society; we don't need to prove anything or somehow sell our craft better. Our craft is all around; maybe out-of-work bankers and CEOs will turn to some As I Lay Dying in between sending their resumes out. (I'm somewhat serious, but I'm also being a bitch; I've never read As I Lay Dying my own self.)

I think I'm in love

On the music front, I'm excited about a couple things. One, Po' Girl is playing in Tulsa this Friday. I was introduced to their music by my dearest Sassafras. While on their website, I was clicking through their links and came across JT and The Clouds, who Po' Girl says is their favorite band. Well, they are my second thing I'm excited about. You can go to their website and download, for free, two of their songs, "Who Shot Sam Cooke?" and "Diamond Cutter." Both songs are beautiful and wonderful; it's been a long time since I've fallen for a male artist like this! (Spring must be in the air!)

Update: I think I'm dumb (hard to believe, I know); the songs that are featured are just by Jeremy Lindsay, I think, and not JT and The Clouds.

Peace out,
Courtney

Interested in a writing group?

Sheila Black, poet extraordinaire, is beginning two writing workshops. If you are interested in sharing your creative work with a group of Tulsan writers, and (by some stroke of misfortune) do not know Sheila, but want to join a writing group, then let me know. (A little about me: I've been going to one of Sheila's groups and have found it a very supportive and invigorating environment (and I'm just working on some memoir stuff). And Sheila is wonderful. Or, as Daniel would say, "Sheila Sucks." That's just how iconic she is.)