Thursday, August 21, 2003

Thinking about complaining

I think I should amend the post below: I don't like to lie around. I like to meander and observe. Usually when I have days off I do not spend them at home but I spend them wandering the streets. I travel when I can. But I'm passive, not active. And I hate to be told what to do. Traits of someone who will be bad at earning a living.

I do want to know: Does anyone really like it?

But besides the 'work is good' brigade there is this other brigade...the 'do not complain' brigade. They tend to think that as long as someone somewhere has it worse than you it is bad for you to complain.

I think what they aren't getting is: Complaining is made in context. Yes, I complain because...well, because of everything and anything. Relatively speaking, I have it extraordinarily good. I am aware of this fact. But sorry! Just 'cause I have it good doesn't mean I can't want it better. Girl's got to have dreams, ya know?

Anyway, I am surprised that people call Salam 'a crybaby and a whiner' (this is what he says). Sheesh, if you don't get to complain when your country is occupied--when do you get to complain?

I am going to try and break the habit...really.
Riverbend's blog: Bagdad Burning
Work is bad

I realized...perhaps for the thousandth time: I would truly rather not work...

But there are these people who tell you things like 'oh, you would be so bored' or 'at first you would love it but after two weeks...'


What the heck is wrong with these people? I remember I used to think that I was the strange one because I don't get bored.

What to know my secret to avoiding boredom? You just lie around and pretend that you're doing something... Pretending that you're doing something is far superior to actually doing something. For one thing there are no costs. True, there are no actual concrete benefits--but if you imagine you are doing something enjoyable there is pleasure and that is always beneficial. (I don't regard pleasure as the supreme good--but it is surely good.)

I think I might be too good at the 'lying around and pretending' thing. In fact, I've gotten so good at it I sometimes wonder why anyone does anything at all in the real world. What's the point when you can always imagine you are doing something. Why go bowling when you can lie around and pretend to bowl?

Of course, admittedly a real beach tends to be more vivid and exciting than an imagined beach. I realize that.

So back to not working: You can see why I wouldn't be bored. I can't see why anyone would be. I think the thing is that people don't want to think too much about the fact they have no choice...We have to work. We are not free.

Oh and then that's the other thing that really gets me when people say things about hard work and being rich. Yes, I've been whining lately about being poor. So I know some eejit is going to say: Well, if you don't work hard you don't deserve to be rich, etc.

Oh, right. Like rich people work so hard. Like anyone deserves to be rich. No one works harder than poor people. The next person who tells me there is a causal relationship between hard work and wealth is risking his or her life. I cannot bear to hear that claptrap anymore.

That's the thing--throughout the ages there have always been this small group of people who don't work and just lie around on their asses while the rest of the world slogs away. Can I help it if I want to be among those people? I so want to be among them that I don't even want to feel guilty when I'm not doing anything (which is often the case now). Is that so bad?

OK but now I have to go back to work...or take a nap perhaps. Or what have you.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

What will they think of next?!

Whatever it is it couldn't be better than Rock Paper Scissors...

a timeless classic

from sleeve notes
Moorish girl's blog got me strangely obsessed with this issue

The evils of domestic servants...according to Barbara Ehrenreich

If you want to order the book Global Woman, here's the link...

One of the best movies I've seen in at least five years was the movie Dirty Pretty Things which takes on this issue of immigrant servitude one point the main character Okwe describes himself and his friends as 'the people you don't see...'

But I always find myself thinking about the immigrants in every place I go or work--how did they get here? How are they making it? How hard is it? Is it worth it for them?

One reason of course is just curiosity about how people make it in life--I find it hard. Even today at the bank the manager helped us change our checking account. I was utterly fascinated by him. I made him talk to us for more than an hour. He seemed to enjoy it. I found out a fair amount. The whole time I was thinking 'Is this a good life? Is this man happy?'

Sometimes I think that's why I write those stories--it seems like unless I do something with this bizarre fact gathering all this research goes to waste. I.e., my horrible nosiness.

A second reason is that it seems to me that many immigrants are treated the worst, have the fewest rights are exploited horrifically and yet so little is done for them. Almost nothing. Of course I am concerned about my fellow citizens. It's disturbing to think of the incarceration, unemployment, destitution of people who are citizens. But immigrants also struggle with so much and they are becoming like this hunted class if they don't have green cards.

When I hear about people being deported because of misdemeanors after living here for years and years I feel ill. Yet which politician--in this climate-would have the guts to do anything about immigrant rights? Or even say the words 'immigrants' and 'rights' in the same sentence?

While they are being used for their labor which is incredibly necessary even in this economic climate--They are keeping the social security afloat, e.g. Every economist knows this but every politician pretends otherwise.

I'm very glad that Ehrenreich is paying attention but then I find myself strangely bugged by the spin she puts on it. I suppose because it does that 'bad consumer' thing--when what people really need to do is recognize that injustices of this kind are politically unacceptable and fight to change them. You may think you have clean hands if you fire your housekeeper (more on this later)--but this will do absolutely nothing. I think I always get cranky when people do the political correctness thing (I recycle! I drive a Prius!) and then think that this will effect a major change.

I wish it would. It is so hard to know what to do to change things. Maybe Ehrenreich will tell us that also.

Moorish Girl

Monday, August 18, 2003

Much of the time I'd rather just be hit by a bus...

I have the ultimate negative outlook. But every once in a while some item on this planet seems glorious and I lose my bitter edge...

Just the other day I was feeling this way about avocadoes...

The word 'aguacate' is a Spanish bastardization of the word for avocado--it meant 'testicle' in Nahuatl (language of the Aztecs).

It was mostly thought of as an aphrodisiac...Yes, there's just something sexy about avocadoes.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

And then there was the crying...

The hours and hours of crying daily.

Oh yeah, and extreme reluctance to have children. And the sudden realization that children are not really very cute. Why do people have them? Why? By choice, that is.

Husband tries to cheer her up with funny baby names: 'Exit!' 'Nissan!' 'Nautica!' He reads the sign off every store, he names each object as they pass as a possible baby name.

There are no cool male baby names. She looks at a web site. Tarik...

Oh, yeah. Tarik. That's a good name. Then: Significant stare. What? Tarik...I mean it sounds familiar. Tarik, Tarik...Where have I heard that name before. Do we know a Tarik?

Incredulous stare.

Tariq Aziz! Wait! That's bad somehow. (Pregnancy hormones have made her forgetful.) Tariq Aziz. Oh, oh, yeah.

Does this mean we can't name the baby Tarik?
So what was your first pregnancy symptom?

The desire to be rich...A sudden aversion to the Bohemian poverty that I had inadvertently courted and which is now to be my permanent fate. I was walking around 5th Avenue with mi hermano though and this may have played a role in the deep dissatisfaction with lower middle classdom.

Because of the hideous Ben I have this idea that my bro could be a movie star and make lots of money and give me some. But the bro claims that no amount of money he could make would ever be enough to give me some. And we were looking in people's windows at their fancy penthouses and drooling over this one building on Broadway. I think it's in the '40s. And I had to fight back tears 'cause of my utter lack of money. Bro claims that some of the 20 million has to go to one of these pads and then he won't have enough left over for me.

Besides the lottery, he's my only hope.

And then I saw this sign on the train that said:

You work hard.
You went to college.
You can't afford health insurance.
Welcome to middle class poverty.

It's for a freelancer's union. I can't remember the name but it's symbol is a beehive with a bee on it. But it was all I could do not to cry right there on the train even though I do have health insurance. Why? I guess 'cause life is so brutal and I'm not up for it. Also, because as poor as I am I can always be poorer (and most likely will be).

Oh, there is poor and then there is so, so, so poor. I'll never get to so, so, so or even so. But it does seem a little pathetic--my immigrant grandparents struggling to better themselves, my father's upper mobility and my slow and slight decline. Still--we did do better. So far.

My brother is very smart. A genius. He's no doubt going to go to an Ivy League school. And even more fancy school than the Ivy League school I went to. However, we cannot assume that this will get him the money. At this moment I know people who went to these colleges who (a) can't afford to live alone (b) in their thirties (c) have no permanent, steady income (d) are way in debt due to a decade of low earning: Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Princeton...Oh, I think there's more. Of course these people are foolish and most also went on to get a Ph.D. and my brother might not be that dumb. But still, I'm not holding my breath for a handout from him unless he takes his ultra-cuteness and turns it into a movie career. And because I was one of those idiots who opted for higher education...a handout from him is the best I can hope for at this point.