Have to be Loved to be Understood

May 2, 2012

I’ve heard that I haven’t posted in a while, so…here’s my post.

I’m currently reading Once Upon a Town by Bob Greene, and let me tell you…it gives me chills every time I pick it up. First, part of the introduction:

Once upon a time – not really so very long ago – something happened in this one little town that, especially on days like this one, now sounds just about impossible. Something happened, in the remote Nebraska sandhills, in a place few people today ever pass through….

…We’re always talking about what it is that we want the country to become, about how we can save ourselves as a people. We speak as if the elusive answer is out there in the mists, off in the indeterminate future, waiting to be magically discovered, like a new constellation, and plucked from the surrounding stars.

But maybe the answer is not somewhere out in the future distance; maybe the answer is one we already had, but somehow threw away. Maybe, as we as a nation try to make things better, the answer is hidden off somewhere, locked in storage, waiting to be retrieved.

The book tells the story of North Platte, Nebraska, and the Canteen that developed as a result of the large train depot where soldiers passed through during WWII. Soldiers would stop for 10 minutes at different depots, but North Platte was different. The people of the town (and surrounding towns) greeted every train with smiles, food, coffee, music, magazines, and gratitude. Every train. There were always people there to greet the soldiers. Soldiers – teenagers – who were traveling across the country to most likely die far away from homes. These people were always there to express their appreciation and to give them one last taste of America before beginning their journeys.

Who does that anymore? What kind of civilians do this for their soldiers? Yes, “it’s a different time,” especially since most people don’t travel by train. But is it really that different of a time? At least during WWII there was a very clear enemy and cause to die fighting for. But what now? And wouldn’t that mean that soldiers need civilian support more than ever?

As all of you know, I have plenty of qualms about the military, but this just sounds like the solution to bridging the gap between the civilian and military populations. I don’t have an idea of how we can implement something like this today, but I think we should all read this book and think about what kind of country we’re shaping for the future.


Wasted on Fixing All the Problems

November 7, 2011

I’ve been thinking recently (as it usually happens before I write a post) about Battlestar Galactica. I love BSG. I also love my manfriend (as you all already know). I also love the earth. I also love studying human rights. I also have mixed feelings about the army. So I’ve been wondering: can a true hippie really love Battlestar Galactica? (beware: spoiler alerts after the jump.)

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Not Enough Retribution or Decent Incentives

November 4, 2011

My mom and her partner were visiting last weekend (hi mom!), and I had an interesting discussion with them and my manpartner. I feel very blessed that they support me being with this military man, but it was a bit shocking to hear how much they supported the function of a military partnership. I have always felt that, while I support my manfriend, I owe nothing to the military, and they owe nothing to me. That’s what I believe is the benefit of not being married. If the military feels no obligation towards non-married partners, then why should we have any obligation towards them?

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Don’t Bother None

August 24, 2011

A phrase I’ve seen discussed recently in “civilian vs military” blogs, posts, and articles is “It’s what you signed up for.” It’s essentially a fuck you to military servicepeople and their families, kind of like “You knew what you were getting yourself into.” And I’ll admit it, I’ve said it to my man buddy. It’s a mean thing to say, but to be honest, it’s how I felt. When I considered doing ROTC, I truly thought about what it would mean, and eventually I decided not to join because I knew it would be a load of bullshit and I wouldn’t truly get to fight for what I wanted. (Yes, there was a time when I considered ROTC, but then realized that any photographs I’d take would be property of the government, and I’d essentially lose my copyrights.)

My manfriend has to do the stupidest things, like stay awake for 24 hours to do nothing and then go straight into work. The day before 4th of July weekend he had to run a poorly planned ridiculous obstacle course for 6 hours with no food or water. If there’s ever another debt ceiling debate that goes on too long, he has to work without pay because he’s considered “essential.” I agree that things like this, yes, you can absolutely be angry about and things that shouldn’t happen. But as I’ve said to him, did you seriously not expect this absurd bullshit from the military? No, it’s not “what you signed up for,” but was it not expected with the territory?

To me, this is different from the hardships that aren’t outlined in the job descriptions or the common-knowledge adversities (at least, what I would consider “common knowledge”). When military partners and families struggle with the emotional impact of deployment, of moving from place to place, of isolation from the rest of the population…no. No one signs up for these things. But from what I can see, the military blogging community tells similar stories to each other, and although it’s on the internet for everyone to see, no one’s looking for it.

And this is why I desperately want (need?) to start my photography project. I’m not very experienced with the military lifestyle, but I also wouldn’t consider myself a typical civilian either. I feel very in between the worlds, and so I believe that I am in the position to bring both worlds together. Not that I’m going to single-handedly bridge the ginormous gap, but I believe I can contribute to it in a way few people can or will.

Anyway, maybe I’ll include some of this in my grant proposals. But first, I have to make some work. That’s the worst part about all this: I can’t ask for money until I’ve gotten started on the project, but I can’t really start the project until I have money. Oh, the vicious cycles of applying for grants and loans…


In the Dunes of a Cave

August 8, 2011

A problem I’ve had with many religious people is their approach to morals. You may be surprised at this, but lots of people have judged me for not having religion. Many people have asked me what my religion/faith is. I tell them that I wasn’t born with religion, and that my parents never raised me as anything. They then look at me puzzled and say “Then where do you get your morals from?” or “How do you know how to be a good person?

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Set to Drain

July 8, 2011

Something else I’ve had on my mind lately is marriage. With all the gay marriage up in NYC and some of my friends getting married, it’s just been weird. I guess the main thing I think about is how conflicted I feel about potentially being married to the military. My manfriend can testify to how much it freaks me out – pretty much every time I get really drunk (due to tequila), I start crying about how I don’t want to be part of the military.

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Erased Me From Your Memory

April 27, 2011

I’ve had a few interesting conversations the past couple weeks. They all seem to revolve around the theme of change and growth. As I’ve written here before, I can’t believe I’ve done what I’ve done. I took a huge leap of faith and started from scratch in a completely new city. I remember people telling me that I wouldn’t like Atlanta, or that I was making a poor decision to leave my connections behind, or that I’d miss New York City too much to make it in a new place.

Whether or not these things are true, I like feeling like I proved people wrong, or at least that I impressed them with how amazing my life is now. Sure, in NYC I’d probably be doing something I love, like working for a non-profit or a film festival. In other aspects of my life, however, I don’t think I would’ve challenged myself. In Fall 2009 I started taking belly dancing classes with a friend and I loved it. I continued to go on a regular basis, but I eventually stopped going because it didn’t really fit into my routine I had created for myself. And I remember being really sad about it because I felt like that belly dancing class represented a part of me I felt was lost or stunted.

Here in Atlanta, my job certainly isn’t the highlight of my time here, but I’m doing things that make me happy. I feel like I’m growing as a person. I definitely have my regular bar and I don’t go out all the time to try new places with my roommates, but I’m twirling baton, which has been a dream I shelved years ago. I never would’ve pursued this in NYC or even California like I have here. Turnin’ TriXXX has opened my eyes to the things I can do. Silly sounding, I know, but I never would’ve committed myself to something like this if I even had a hint of structure or routine to my life.

see? life is good for me. i'm awesome.

I guess my point is this: you can’t hate on people who feel like drones in their own life. I’ve been there, and it feels super lame. I wouldn’t suggest you leave everything behind tomorrow to learn to play some obscure instrument in some rural Indian town, but I would encourage you to leave your routine behind. I still have my routines, like making myself eggs and toast every morning before work, but I genuinely feel like every day is a clean slate.

Try it. You might like it.