Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Victim blaming is bullshit. Also, the personal is political? Advice, please.

Yesterday I was sitting in the backyard with my parents, telling them about the various events I plan to attend in downtown Detroit next month: namely Motor City Pride and SlutWalk.

My dad made a comment that, for reasons I'll explain in a minute, was both racist and sexist: "You know I don't like you going west of Alter Road."

It was about the twentieth stupid comment he'd made all weekend, so I finally told him that if he isn't going to change his way of thinking, he needs to at least have the decency to keep his fucked up ideas to himself.

My mother, ever the peacekeeper, intervened. But instead of supporting my stance, she told me (for the zillionth time) that I need to accept that my dad's not going to learn/change, and ignore his comments.

Now, let me back up a bit and explain the context of my dad's remark:

The thing about most Detroit suburbs is that they're not actually very close to Detroit at all. Royal Oak, for instance (where I was born) is in Oakland County. Detroit, meanwhile, is located in Wayne County.

But Grosse Pointe--where I have lived most of my life--is one of the few Detroit suburbs that's actually in Wayne County. We even share the 313 area code, made famous by Eminem and Faygo ads such as this one.

Which is funny (read: sad and embarrassing) because Grosse Pointe, in stark contrast to its neighbor, is both affluent and overwhelmingly white.

Our house is a block from the border.

And so that's why my dad's comment was both racist and sexist. He was basically saying, "You know I don't want my pretty little girl to venture into the ghetto." Never mind that I'm twenty-two years old and in the process of earning a degree from a university in downtown Detroit. BUT ANYWAY.

So, here's my dilemma: In some cases, I do accept that certain people just aren't going to change. It depresses me more than I can express. But I'd rather focus my energy on people who might come around to the idea of equality. The kids I babysit, for example. They're young (four and seven). I see them three days per week, so hope to have some positive influence over their lives.

But in the case of my dad... it isn't easy to place him into the category of haters that I ignore. I share his genes. And we live together. I actually think it's healthier (for all parties involved) for me to speak up--and release all the pent-up energy I have--rather than keep quiet while he makes comments that upset me to the point of needing to email the people I know who care about the same things I do just to thank them for being there. (I've done this a couple of times, most recently, this past April.) My energy has to go somewhere, you know?

Another example of my dad's outlook: Last week there was a story in the news about a woman on the campus of Wayne State who "says [that a] campus cop pulled her over just after midnight and demanded a sexual favor in exchange for letting her go." She reported the incident; he was taken into custody and suspended without pay.

Upon seeing the story on the 5 o'clock news, my dad rolled his eyes and said, "That woman probably just wants money and came up with a creative way to get some."

Do I even need to explain why that's the worst thing anyone could possibly say? I know firsthand (as I'm sure many people do) how hard it can be to come forward about something that fucks with the whole power structure.

Secondly, I know that if I were to tell my dad that something like that had happened to me, he'd stop at nothing to make sure that the cop in question got his balls chopped off.

I babysit just a few blocks from my house, so I ride my bike or walk to and from work most of the time. I get off work at 9:30, by which point, it's dark outside. The first time I walked home from work, I entered the house to find my dad standing in the entryway. "Don't you ever pull a stunt like that again," he snapped. "I know you don't see yourself as a girl anymore, but you're still my girl."


I'm not an idiot. People know where and when I'm walking. But the idea of "some big burly black man lurkin' in the bushes" isn't enough to make me drive the three blocks to and from work instead of walk. This is my world, too, and I'm sick of being part of a culture that teaches women not to get raped instead of teaching people not to rape. Which is why I'm such a vocal supporter of the SlutWalks that have been popping up literally all over the globe.

I digress.

So, what to do? Part of me just feels helpless, heartbroken, and exhausted because if I can't get through to my dad of all people, how can I possibly expect to have any influence over people who aren't related to/don't live with me?

I believe in living honestly. That's why I don't eat red meat or drive if I can help it, openly identify as a feminist, and told my parents that I'm gay, among other things. My mom, though she disagrees with me, knows that I'm adamantly pro-choice. So I find it really difficult to just shut up while my dad makes racist/sexist comments. I don't understand why I'm the one who's expected to shut up and let him say his piece. Because if I make a feminist remark, he's able to tell me stop because he's my dad and therefore, trumps me in terms of authority.

Furthermore, because I know my dad to be a pretty good person overall (or at least, someone who tries to be in the ways he knows how), I think it's unfair to him to act as my mom does. I can't just say, "Well, he's from Poland. And he never went to college. So he's just never going to get it." Um. He accepted the fact that his daughter's a lesbian, so I like to think that he can be a little more open minded if I do a little bit of work, you know?

Or is my mother right? Am I just wasting my energy?

Lemme know, Internet.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

No Excuses!

I just finished reading Gloria Feldt's latest book, _No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power_. And I've decided to blog about if for a couple of reasons:

1) She offers some great advice for aspiring feminist activists. _No Excuses_ definitely motivated me. But I knew that simply reading the book wouldn't be enough. I had to think about how what she was saying affected me personally; I read very slowly, and (nerd alert!) took a lot of notes. How many times have you read a book full of good advice, but then acted on none of it? I know I have. And I didn't want that to happen this time.

2) Likely because it was published so recently, this book contains a lot of information about how websites and blogs are changing the landscape of feminist activism. I'll elaborate on that in a bit. But suffice it to say for now that as as someone who considers herself a feminist blogger, I'd be wrong not to mention this book here.

Feldt's book _The War on Choice: The Right-Wing Attack on Women's Rights and How to Fight Back_ (published in 2004) totally blew my mind, so when I heard that she was coming out with a new book, I was eager to read it. But I have to admit that at first, I wasn't sure how I felt about the idea behind this one. From the inside front cover: "In _No Excuses_, [Feldt] argues that the most confounding problem facing women today isn't that doors aren't open, but that not enough women are walking through them."

It sounded a little like victim blaming to me. But given that Gloria Feldt isn't exactly the victim blaming type, I decided to read it anyway.

And I'm glad that I did.

She offers a lot of solid examples to back up her claim. For instance, women fought hard to win the right to vote in the US. But many stopped short of using their newly gained right as a vehicle through which to make further progress. Alice Paul, meanwhile, understood that winning the right to vote, though tremendous, was only one step along the road to equality. So she drafted the Equal Rights Amendment.

Feldt does not generalize about how women "aren't doing this" or "aren't doing that." Rather, _No Excuses_ is full of stories of women who, like Alice Paul, walked through the doors that were open to them. A huge part of her argument is really that those women aren't bringing enough people with them. And without a whole lot of us, we won't be able to achieve much.

She illustrates that by focusing on the idea of "power to," which she explains in contrast with "power over." The latter is force. Bad news bears. The former, however, inspires the solidarity that social justice movements are made of. So naturally, I was all over that.

Feldt does a really good job of emphasizing that everyone, regardless of age, race, gender, education level, party affiliation, or any other factor, can and should do their part to make the world better. I was particularly impressed with what she said about my generation of feminists.

There has been a lot of talk in the past couple of years about how "young feminist don't exist." The very first blog carnival I ever participated in addressed this very issue. More than forty feminist bloggers (myself included) posted in response to negative comments made by Gail Collins and Stacy Schiff in the New York Times.

But on page 276 of _No Excuses_, Feldt (who, at age 69, is a couple of generations ahead of my 22-year-old self) says, "Younger women's involvement and leadership in advancing women's rights to equality and self-determination are crucial because that's the only way the movement for equality will continue to flourish and grow. I fear for our future unless young women step up to lead a new wave of civic engagement--and indeed, one of my greatest delights is seeing how many young women are doing just that." She goes on to highlight work by young feminists such as Shelby Knox (24) and Courtney Martin (31).

But where to start? Feldt emphasizes that the best way to gain self esteem is to stand up for what you believe in. The first thing I did when I read that, of course, was compare myself to the activists highlighted in the book. And then I proceeded to beat myself up over what a shitty job I've been doing of standing up for what I care about. But I also realized that there are already things I'm doing correctly.

Like "wearing the shirt," for example, or, in other words, putting your beliefs out in the open. One need look no further than this blog to see that I'm already doing that. In the "about me" blurb, I say outright that I'm a feminist. And below that are badges to all the blog carnivals in which I've participated. From those, you can tell that I support LGBT rights, Planned Parenthood, and pro-choice/feminist issues in general. My Facebook and Twitter feeds are littered with similar posts.

And then there's my tote bag. I carry with me everywhere I go. There's an Audre Lorde quote ("Your silence will not protect you") pinned to it. And there's a "trust women" pin on it as well. And to support LGBT rights, I wear a "gayclet" that my friend Angela made for me out of rainbow-colored pieces of string. I've been asked about all of those. It's not scary to me, because those are topics that I love to talk about--even with people who give me dirty looks.

And in some cases, my vocal habits have paid off. A couple of years ago, I was driving with my friend Kevin from Saginaw to Kalamazoo, MI. As soon as we got onto the freeway, Kevin, who had been following my Facebook posts, asked me why I identify as pro-choice. Because he knew me to be a kind, compassionate friend, he wondered why I was so incredibly passionate about something with which he so adamantly disagreed.

And so, in our three hours on the road together, I explained why I care so much about it. I had all the time in the world to offer up examples and answer his questions. Neither of us were hostile about it; he was genuinely curious and willing to listen. In the end, he told me that he could see that there was good reason for supporting pro-choice issues. I realize now that the conversation would not have happened had I not been spouting off online.

Despite my confidence about certain issues, however, there's still this discrepancy between how I see myself and how others see me. If you use Twitter, you know that you can organize your "followers" into "lists." Followers of mine have categorized me this way: "feminist," "feminist bloggers," and even Gloria Feldt's favorite word, "power."

But in my head, it's a different picture entirely. I've always said that I'm a "feminist with a blog" instead of a "feminist blogger" because although everything I write comes from a feminist perspective, I don't write exclusively about feminist issues. Furthermore, although I've identified as a feminist for a number of years now, it was only a year or so ago that I got active in the feminist blogosphere. I make the mistake of comparing myself to women like Feministing's Chloe Angyal or Shelby Knox, the subject of a documentary on comprehensive sex education. And I get discouraged, because they, like me, are in their early twenties. And they are doing some pretty amazing stuff.

But just because I don't write for Feministing, doesn't mean I'm not a feminist blogger, right?

This got me thinking about all the times that I've underestimated myself, or backed off when I shouldn't have. Here's just one of many examples: A year or so ago, a "Facebook friend" of mine posted a status in which he declared that "feminism has gone too far." Obviously, it really pissed me off. But instead of responding to his post with reasons why feminism actually hasn't reached far enough yet, I just blocked his updates from my feed and got on with my day. Because I didn't want to deal with the inevitable backlash.

I regret that. And I don't know why I constantly talk myself out of speaking my mind when I know that I'm pretty well-versed on a lot of feminist issues. In _No Excuses_, Feldt refers to quite a few books--among them _When Everything Changed_ by Gail Collins, _The Means of Reproduction_ by Michelle Goldberg, and _Manifesta_ by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards--all of which I've read. She also refers to a lot of things that have happened recently in the blogosphere. She spent several pages on "abstinence porn," which is a term coined by Chrstine Seifert of Bitch Magazine to describe the genre of YA lit into which the Twilight series fits. I didn't need a refresher course from Gloria Feldt to understand that, because I read the Bitch article when it was published several years ago. To this day, I cannot think about Twilight without my internal monologue going, "Abstinence porn! Abstinence porn! Hahahahaha!"

So clearly, I know my shit. There are doors there. Gotta open 'em.

And I see this blog as the key to doing that. From page 331: "There are many reasons to keep blogs or maintain websites. To advance our professional lives by displaying portfolios of our work; the thrill of the open confessional; documenting a hobby, talent, or obsession; or simply as a place to document our daily lives. Just as my T-shirt is valuable real estate to proclaim my convictions, so is your online platform--you can wear the cypershirt. You can tell your story uncensored and find a community of people who share your problems and your passions."

As I mentioned, I'm already doing that to some extent. But there are still a few things that have kept me from having much of an impact. So I hope to use this blog as a vehicle through which to change that. I'm part of something great, and need to fully embrace it. This means recognizing that I too have a voice in the feminist blogosphere.

Now stop reading this. Go find a copy of _No Excuses_, and read it if you haven't yet already. Then figure out what your strengths are, and go get shit done.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

So, for the past month I've been working on a 30 day blog challenge. Found the prompts on my friend Katie's blog.

I don't know why I decided to do it, exactly. I was done with school for the semester, and I'm not taking classes again until the end of June, so I knew I'd have time on my hands. I liked some, but not all of the prompts. I went with all of them, though, hoping that I'd find a few interesting things to say about the ones I thought wouldn't appeal to me. And I was right about that. For instance, I haven't traveled much, so wasn't looking forward to the prompt about travel. But then I remembered why I started collecting postcards, and wrote about that, which was fun. I probably would not have thought to write about it otherwise.

Some of the prompts, though, were redundant. I think I was asked to write about travel twice. Some of the prompts about goals for the future were like that, too. And unfortunately, a few of the really good prompts were about things I'd written about recently. Like my views on education, for example.

But it was a good way to bide time while I tried to figure out what to do with this blog. I've always thought that the best blogs have a specific focus. Mine does not. Nearly two years ago, when I started this blog, my intention was just to create a personal space to spout off about things that get my ire up. :) But then, last summer, I started participating in blog carnivals, and that has opened me up to a whole community of bloggers that write about things that really matter to me. I've been trying to figure out how to focus my blog in on those things. Another option would be to start another blog, but keep this one for more personal stuff. I don't know. Decisions, decisions.

In the meantime, I've made a few updates to this page. I added a couple of lines from a Tracy Chapman song beneath the header, because I think it sums up my world view pretty well. I moved my tags to the top of the page, just because once I started adding stuff to the sidebar (I'll get to that in a second), it started to look way too cluttered over there.

Most notably, I added a blogroll. I actually have about twenty blogs there, but decided to just show the five most recently updated ones. Less clutter.

I struggled with which blogs to include because of the focus issue I've been having. I didn't know whether to include strictly feminist blogs, or personal blogs, or blogs on other topics. But because I still don't know exactly how I'm going to narrow this project down, I went with "anything goes." Lucy's blog is there. So is Sarah's. Then I included a bunch of feminist blogs. And then there are a couple of random ones thrown in there devoted to environmental and health issues. I just shared what I liked to read.

Furthermore, I added a link to my Good Reads account. Mine's private, because I'm kind of an Internet privacy fiend. But if you're on Good Reads, feel free to add me.

You might have noticed that a few days ago, I added a badge for a new blog carnival. I will be blogging for LGBT families on June 1. You should, too.

And that's pretty much it. My life has been pretty uneventful lately, because I'm taking a few weeks off school and chilling out in suburbia. I've just been working, reading, and hanging out with myself. One of the books I finished recently is Gloria Feldt's latest, _No Excuses: 9 Ways That Women Can Change How We Think about Power_. It was excellent; I'll post my thoughts on it soon. A lot of the things that Feldt said is what got me thinking about the changes I'd like to make to this blog, actually. So when my review goes up (probably sometime later today), I hope you'll read it. :)

Okay, that's all for now. There's a downpour here, with rumbles of thunder. I'm lying in bed with my laptop, cat, and a cup of coffee, and couldn't be happier about that.

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 30

Your highs and lows of the past month.

I haven't been in school at all since I began the blog challenge, so stress has been minimal, as has social interaction. Therefore, the highs haven't been very high and the lows haven't been terribly low.

But anyway:

The highs:
  • having time off (which means having time to read for fun!)
  • warm weather, which allows for early morning bike rides
  • going to the DIA and Greektown with my friend Toni
  • sending/receiving snail mail from friends
  • ditto FB messages: I've gotten some really kind ones lately
The lows:
  • sinus infection
  • not being able to snag Adele tickets before her concert in Royal Oak, MI on 5/23
  • missing friends in faraway places
  • getting punched in the face by an angry drunk person
  • working on Thursday & Friday nights, which means missing poetry readings
Guess that's all? Bye, blog challenge. It's been good.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 29

Goals for the next 30 days.

I've actually been thinking about this a lot. And though I plan to explain this in more detail in a post 30-day challenge entry, I'll touch on it briefly here for now:

Personally, I need to get some school-related stuff together. And manage my friggin' finances. I've been putting it off, but know that once I get my butt in gear, I'll have some much-needed peace of mind.

And since the one class I'm taking this summer doesn't start until the end of June (over a month away yet), my plan is to keep reading as much as possible. Right now, I'm devouring a lot of feminist nonfiction: mostly books published within the past ten to fifteen years. Some are a little outdated (like, for instance, _Manifesta_, published in 2000), but they're so frequently referenced on blogs I read and women's studies classes I take that I figure I ought to read them. I'm averaging one or two books per week. Not bad, considering that I'm still reading blogs and whatnot online.

Speaking of reading, I also plan to put into action a few things I learned by reading Gloria Feldt's latest book, _No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think about Power_. A lot of what I'll be doing will involve this blog, so stay tuned.

Monday, May 23, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 28

Something that you miss.

See, this is tricky. Because it's not really about what I miss, but who.

I miss my friends; they're all over the place. Chicago, IL. Stillwater, OK. The Bay City/Saginaw region of MI. I've been thinking lately about how people take for granted the fact that people they care about live nearby. That is not the case for me.

But I guess if we're going to pinpoint a specific "thing," I'll go with the Controlled Burn Seminar for Young Writers, which I attended every summer as a teenager.

Liz, a friend & fellow Controlled Burn attendee, summed it up really nicely:

"It kind of feels nice to be in your element, you know? Everyone is constantly drinking coffee even though it tastes like ass... because they need to stay awake in order to finish their homework. We play pool at 1 a.m. and distract ourselves and it's just so laid back, you know? It's just a bunch of kids existing without judgment. Maybe there is judgment but it doesn't get in the way. No one cares. I love it here."

At Controlled Burn I felt, for the first time, like I really connected to people who cared about the same things I did. 2009 was its final year; it was canceled because of funding & other issues. I'm really sad that it doesn't exist anymore, because I wish more kids could have the opportunity that I had. But I'm very glad that I got to be a part of such a wonderful thing.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 27

A problem that you have had.

Well, today I have a sinus infection. This is the third time I've gotten sick in less than a year, which is really unusual for me.

But honestly, I can't really think of anything to write about that doesn't sound like all the other 20-something freaking out about the future type stuff I normally post here.

I already blogged about how it took me a really long time to get my driver's license. And how I lost my front tooth in a scooter accident.

So today, my sinuses are out of control. And tomorrow night, Adele is playing a sold out show at the Royal Oak Music Theatre and I don't have a ticket.

Other than that, though, I can't really complain.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 26

What kind of person attracts you.

"I think I tend to look at people's souls more than anything else." - Sarah

I think the most beautiful people I know are those who live by what they believe in (to the best of their ability, anyway--depending upon what you value, the realities of living in the US can make that hard).

I like people who are honest, earnest. People who care about things. Avid readers. People who have a sense of humor despite the fact that the world is completely bat shit insane.

People who are bat shit insane. And kind. Animal lovers. People who aren't afraid to speak their minds. People who are afraid to speak their minds, but do it anyway.

I am personally biased toward Tracy Chapman fans.

Those are just a few of the qualities I admire. This is not an exhaustive list.

Let's be friends.

Friday, May 20, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 25

A photo you took.

I'm no photographer or anything, but here's a picture I took with my cell phone of some anti-choice propaganda I found in a bathroom stall at SVSU in October of 2009.

People should be able to urinate in peace, you know?

Needless to say, I added this to my list of good reasons for transferring to Wayne State.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 23

Give pictures of 5 people who are famous who you find attractive.

(I changed "guys" to "people" because I hate that the Blog Challenge assumes its only challengers are heterosexual females.)

Also, I'm not posting pictures because I am technologically inept and posting more than one photo per blog entry apparently causes more headaches than I'd like to deal with.

So. Celebrity crushes, in no particular order:

1) Adele. Her voice is so very sexy.

2) Tracy Chapman, which, if you know me, should not surprise you. I think she's so beautiful. (Alice Walker thinks so, too! When I found out about the romance that went on between the two of them, my intellect was like, "Whoa, that is the hottest thing I've ever heard.") I've never gotten over it, and doubt I ever will.

3) And then there's that one guy I'd go straight for. I've had a crush on Taye Diggs since I was like fifteen years old. Ho hum.

4) His wife, Idina Menzel, is pretty hot, too. :)

5) And lastly, Tori Amos. Because she's Tori Amos.

Honorable mentions include Regina Spektor, Emiliana Torrini, and Sinead O'Connor. And I have a giant intellectual crush on June Jordan, too. Watch the documentary "A Place of Rage," and you'll understand why this is.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 22

Something you want to do before you die.

As I said in my answer to Day 2's prompt:

  • graduate from college
  • move somewhere other than Michigan, and
  • live in commune
You're running out of good ideas, Blog Challenge.

Monday, May 16, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 21

One of your favorite shows.

TV shows, you mean? I don't watch a whole lot of television, but the one show that I love dearly (and that's an understatement) is The Golden Girls.

(And that's me, watching it with my cat.)

The show was canceled in 1992--the year I turned four. So I don't really remember how I got into it. Like feminism itself, I wasn't raised on it. I just discovered it one day and was like, "Well, damn. This is really, really good. How did I ever live without it?" I blogged about it when Rue McClanahan died (almost a year ago now--wow).

But I think my friend Christi said it best: "Where else in pop culture do you see women of a certain age portrayed as anything but loony cat ladies or sexless grandmas? Dorothy and company lived it up well past the age most television characters even make it to."

I'll share something here that I've only shared with a couple of close friends, because it's embarrassing and kind of cheesy: I made the decision to transfer from SVSU to Wayne State while watching the final scene of the Golden Girls series finale. That particular episode just happened to be on TV at 1 o'clock on a Thursday morning (when I should have been sleeping but instead was thinking a little too hard about what the hell I should do with my life). Seeing that, I cried and cried and cried and then decided, like Bea Arthur did, that even though it had been mostly good in really surprising ways, it was time to move on.

Thank you for being a friend.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Friday, May 13, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 17


It's not my fault that I got behind on the Blog Challenge. Blogger's been down for the past couple of days; people could still read posts as usual, but nobody could update!

So, I took a blissfully unexpected break from blogging and got some reading done. For the record, I'm currently halfway through _On Beauty_ by Zadie Smith; it's holding my attention, but isn't nearly as good as _White Teeth_.

Now, without further ado...

Your highs and lows of this past year.

This is hard to write about, because a lot of the -low- moments of the past year are really personal. Even though I have a blog and tend to overshare on FB/Twitter, I do actually have a sense of when I ought to keep my mouth shut.

So, let's settle for a purposely cryptic list:

The highs:
  • transferring: I felt incredibly hopeful about everything
  • coming out as a lesbian to my family: it was exhausting, but worked out in the end
  • knowing that I have really wonderful friends, even if they live far away
  • babysitting: I love the girls I babysit
The lows:
  • the not-so-great aspects of coming out
  • getting punched in the face by someone who really shouldn't have punched me in the face
  • feeling like a giant piece of existential fail
  • living in Grosse Pointe
  • loneliness
  • babysitting: Even though I love the kids, that shit is hard work
See what I mean? Purposely cryptic. Suffice it to say that I was really hopeful about a lot of things that didn't turn out. But it's okay, because I was also rather pessimistic about the things that did turn out. Such is life.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 16

Your views on mainstream music.

If you're looking for a hipster's perspective, move along.

I like what I like. Some of it's embarrassingly mainstream. A lot of it's not.

Here are my most-played artists, according to Last FM:
  • Tracy Chapman
  • Adele
  • Michael Franti & Spearhead
  • Tori Amos
  • Cat Power
  • The Beatles
  • Chantal Kreviazuk
  • Regina Spektor
Sarah and I had a conversation about this a couple of years ago. We both really liked Regina Spektor's album Begin to Hope. But a lot of our friends weren't too fond of it for a number of reasons: it was a lot less raw than her previous releases, for one (it did sound quite different than her earlier work, but I didn't necessarily think of that as a bad thing). And all of a sudden her music was being played on the radio, so tickets to see her in concert went up in price. (I saw her at St. Andrew's Hall in 2006 for $13. A year later, she came to the Fillmore, and tickets cost about $40.)

But the way Sarah and I see it, as long as you're being true to yourself and doing what you really want to do, then it's fine. As someone who's a huge fan of socially conscious lyrics, I think it's really great when stuff like that reaches a bigger audience.

This might seem like an odd connection to make, but my feelings about music are similar to my views on/approach to convincing people that war is stupid. I get really ticked off at people who talk about the monetary cost of war without ever talking about the human cost of it. But I make sure to keep the financial facts in my head when I argue with people who support wars. Because that is a way to appeal to their interests. And if I can convince them that we're spending too much money on war, then maybe I'm one step closer to convincing them that killing people senselessly is EVEN STUPIDER.

So basically, music is meant to be shared. So share it, you greedy, selfish hipsters. Feel the luv.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 15

5 people in your life right now who mean the most.

I'm going to organize this based upon how long I've known these people. The ones I met earliest are at the top.

I met Stephanie when we were juniors at Grosse Pointe South High School. She had just transferred there from Interlochen Arts Academy. And she was one bitchin' poet. (Still is, in fact. She's graduating this weekend with a BA in poetry from Columbia College Chicago.)

As you'll be able to see by glancing at her blog, Stephanie's also one hell of a feminist. She thinks that I give her too much credit for her role in helping me to view the world from a feminist perspective. But I wouldn't say it if I didn't mean it; she did a lot to help me become who I am today.

I was a little intimidated by Stephanie when I met her. I don't know why, exactly. Probably because she, like me, wanted nothing to do with most of the people who graduated with us. So I assumed that I was just another one of the people she wanted to avoid.

But I was wrong. Thanks to our similar interests, the two of us became friends. We were kind of huge dicks in those days, and thought we were better than everyone else. We talked a lot of shit and smoked a lot of weed.

But I think that both of us have grown up a lot since then, and our friendship has lasted; Stephanie is one of the most intelligent, compassionate, generous, and reliable people I know. She's also hilarious. And she pours a lot of her energy into really cool/important projects, like West Side School for the Desperate and SlutWalk Chicago.

I actually just sent her an email earlier today asking for some advice on something I'm dealing with, and as I was working on this blog post, she replied with a list of things I need to do right the fuck now in order to fix the situation.

Put Stephanie in charge of any project: running the student poetry organization at Columbia College, forming an arts collective, or dealing with her friends' personal issues, and I assure you, shit will get done.

I met Sarah at the Controlled Burn Seminar for Young Writers in 2005. We were in Mary Ann Samyn's poetry workshop together.

But for whatever reason (likely my teenage lack of maturity--Sarah's three years older than I am), our friendship didn't really form until a couple of years later. She graduated from SVSU in 2007, the year I finished high school. And then I enrolled at SVSU, so pestered her with questions (What the fuck is a FAFSA form? Whose classes should I take? Etc, etc).

That fall, she moved to Marquette to pursue an MA at NMU. But she came down to Saginaw damn near every weekend, and we spent a lot of time together. We also spent spring break together that year. We hung out with her adorable pet ferret Bandit and broke a lot of rules.

When she finished her MA and moved to Oklahoma, I was sad because we'd no longer be living in the same state. But it's not like we've ever lived in the same city. So in a way, things didn't change much. I don't usually like talking on the phone, but I really like talking to Sarah, and because we're completely ridiculous, we manage to talk for two to three hours at a time. I also flew out to visit her this past January.

Also, she sends me the most beautiful postcards, usually for no particular occasion. I wish I could say that I did a decent job reciprocating. But I don't. So props to her, fail to me.

And that is why I love Sarah. She's really ambitious academically (finished college in three years, is working on her second Master's degree, etc), but loves me even though I don't know what the fuck I'm doing with my life. She has always been really encouraging and sincere.

(And since I know she reads this: Hi, Sarah! ILY.)

When my parents met Tracy, my mom said that she was "charming" and my dad referred to her as "a breath of fresh air." Nearly every time we hang out, Tracy rubs this in my face. (Since then, I've been referred to as "charming" in a letter of recommendation, and just the other day, someone told me via FB message that I am "a source of energy for good vibes," so there).

Tracy and I were roommates during our first two years at SVSU. We first bonded over peach yogurt and wheat bread three days after moving in together; I rather liked her taste in groceries. :)

I didn't know it at the time, but food would become a really important part of our friendship; Tracy loves to cook and is damn good at it. She even managed to whip up some pretty interesting things during the year we lived in a dorm without a real kitchen.

One of the things I love most about Tracy is her wit. She's fucking hilarious. All the time. And she makes it look effortless. Her sister Tricia works in a hair salon, and one day, we paid her a visit and asked her to tame my eyebrows. We were both laughing so hard at everything that came out of Tracy's mouth that finally Tricia said, "Trace, I need you to stop being funny for five seconds so I can get this wax off of Amy's face without screwing up the shape of her eyebrows."

Tracy's the friend I stay with whenever I visit Saginaw. She knows to stock up on coffee when I come. And she puts up with all of my quirks and questionable habits. We don't actually talk much when I'm in Grosse Pointe, but whenever I visit her, it's as if I never left.

Matthew and I went to SVSU together; he was the editor-in-chief of Cardinal Sins before me. He's fifteen years older than I am. When I met him, I was a nineteen-year-old freshman; he was in his 30s and a lot closer to graduation than I was.

So if someone had told me then that we'd remain good friends even after he went off to grad school in Baltimore, MD and I transferred to Wayne State, I wouldn't have believed them.

We make an odd pair, but I've realized that that's just the point: Our entire friendship is based on our quirks and fondness for cats. He didn't think it was weird at all that I brought a rubber dinosaur to the student publications office and instead of helping him lay pages, talked to the dinosaur and gave her a name: Gertrude.

In fact, that night he wrote on my FB Wall, "Give Gertie a squeeze for me."

Our friendship hasn't gotten any less strange since Matthew moved out of state. Last month, he sent a package addressed to "Mac the Cat, c/o Amelia Glebocki." It was a mix CD. And yes, there were songs on it that mentioned cats.

I "made Mac send him a thank you card." Matthew told me that I'd done a good job of teaching my cat how to write.

It's just weird enough to work. My guess is that you can only base friendships off of quirks like this if you're both legitimately strange and comfortable with that strangeness.

Rose and I went to SVSU together, but that's not where we met. We met a year or so after she graduated, at a coffee shop in Saginaw in August of 2009.

I'd gone to a poetry reading there and met up with a bunch of people I knew (among them Matthew). I didn't know Rose at all. But when she walked through the door, all my friends went to her. I guess Rose doesn't come out to play much? Everyone was so happy to see her.

Through the crowd of people, Rose saw me hanging out awkwardly by myself in a corner of the coffee shop where our friends had left me. She came over and said simply, "Looks like you're friends with my friends. And they ditched you for me. Sorry about that. I'm Rose. I'll add you on Facebook when I get home."

I figured that we wouldn't interact much on Facebook, and that I'd end up deleting her from my friends list. Boy, was I wrong about that.

For about a year, we commented on each others' posts. By the time I moved back to Grosse Pointe in May of 2010, we were exchanging lengthy, candid FB messages. And that October, she invited me to her wedding.

So back to Saginaw I went. I hadn't seen her since the day we'd met over a year earlier.

She also came to visit me in GP this past February, which really meant a lot to me.

It's hard to explain how we became friends or why. But things that she says make sense. And she listens. I like to think I do the same for her. I think it's lovely that we used Facebook not only to keep in touch, but to get to know each other in the first place.

Friendship takes effort. I think both of us realize that in a way that a lot of others don't. Getting to know each other online and living far away from each other has really forced us to practice what we preach. And I like that.

Monday, May 9, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 14

A photo of a cherished memory.

Unfortunately, most of my photos are on Facebook, and I've deactivated my account (more on that later). So you'll have to settle for the unillustrated version.

The photo I'm thinking of was taken in Ann Arbor, MI on Tuesday, August 11, 2009. My favorite musician of all time, Tracy Chapman, performed there that night. And she was amazing.

At the time, I was living in Saginaw (an hour and a half from Ann Arbor) and taking a summer class at SVSU. The class met on Mondays and Wednesdays. And that Wednesday, I was scheduled to take my final exam.

But I was determined to attend this concert, because not only is Tracy Chapman my favorite musician ever, but she also doesn't tour much. And when she does, she usually spends more time in Europe than the US (not that I blame her, but still).

So I convinced my mom to go with me. And that Monday after class, I drove to Grosse Pointe, where I stayed overnight at my parents' house, because GP is significantly closer to Ann Arbor than Saginaw is.

And the next day, my mom and I left for Ann Arbor, where I spent several hours raiding bookstores. Because she knows what happens to English majors in bookstores, my mom went off and did her own thing. And eventually, she got me to leave the store by bribing me with food; we ate a super delicious meal before the concert.

Upon arriving at the theater, a friendly tall person made my good mood even better by offering to switch seats with me when he realized that his head obstructed my view.

Tracy put on a great show. I really appreciated her subtle and smart sense of humor. Before she sang this song she said, "This is about how we need to be saved from those who think they need to save us." (Creative way to list your religious views on Facebook, anyone?)

And then this song made me cry. So hard. It caught me entirely off-guard, because Tracy just popped out of nowhere with an acoustic guitar after she had performed several songs with a full band. And without any kind of preface, she just started singing this. And it was really, really simple and beautifully done. So I cried. And when I say that I cried, I mean it. I put a lot of effort into stifling weird noises and swore I'd never forgive my mother if she made fun of me afterward (because there's no way in hell that she didn't notice). It was really intense and I'll never forget it.

So I was all over the place emotionally. Not surprising, I guess, given that I've been a die hard Tracy Chapman fan all my life.

But remember, I had a final exam the next day.

And since I'd spent the whole day before the concert dicking around in Ann Arbor, I really had to study.

On our way back to Grosse Pointe after the concert, I made my mom stop at a Tim Horton's so I could get some coffee. But not surprisingly, I didn't get much work done that night. Instead, I was too full of adrenaline (and whatever other crazy emotions inevitably go along with seeing your favorite musician live) to work or sleep. So I talked to friends online about how incredible Tracy Chapman's concert had been.

And then I took a power nap, woke up at 6 a.m., and drove back to Saginaw. I was exhausted, but swore I wouldn't allow myself to sleep or have a concert-related meltdown until after my exam.

I was actually relatively successful, thanks to the anxiety that always creeps up before an exam and motivates me to get shit done.

But by the time I'd finished the exam, I looked like I'd been to war and back. On top of all the normal final exam feelings (Holy shit I'm so tired and my brain is fried and I never want to use my brain for anything ever again), I had all these ridiculous feelings to deal with because I had just seen THE BEST CONCERT OF MY ENTIRE LIFE IN A CITY THAT I LOVE and had been forced to return to reality (read: a small university in the middle of a cornfield) well before I'd had any time to process the experience.

I ran into one of my professors in the hallway after the exam. Upon trying to make small talk with me, he realized that I was a severely sleep-deprived pile of emotions. (In case you think I'm exaggerating about how tired I was, he didn't like the idea of letting me drive home.)

But in the end, I drove home anyway, fell asleep, woke up fourteen hours later, and learned that I'd managed to pull off an A- on that exam.

Tracy Chapman, though, gets an A+.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 13

Somewhere you'd like to move to or visit.

I've been dreading today's prompt because unlike a lot of people I know, I've never really drooled over any specific location. My friend Katie loves Nova Scotia. Lucy and Sarah both went to school at NMU and really love the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

But I've never experienced any level of attachment to a certain place.

Don't get me wrong; I love the idea of traveling. But I'm terribly indecisive. And given my background, that makes sense. My dad's from Lublin, Poland; my mom was raised in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. Yet somehow, my sister and I wound up in Michigan.

I didn't travel much as a kid. But I knew a lot of people who did. And I was jealous. So in the fifth grade, I started collecting postcards. I don't remember where I got the idea, exactly, but I hadn't yet discovered the Internet, and considered postcard collecting to be the best form of virtual travel. So whenever someone I knew mentioned that they were going somewhere, I asked them to either send or come back with a postcard. I still do this (hint, hint).

Meanwhile, whenever I went somewhere, I'd make sure to pick up a postcard or two. I still do this. I brought a few back with me from Pittsburgh this past March.

The picture above includes only a portion of my collection. It has grown to include not only places, but things that interest me: everything from art to literature to ridiculously cute baby animals. I also have a whole series called "Great American Women." Each postcard includes a picture of an American woman with a description of her contribution to history. There are something like twenty-five of them.

If I ever live in one place long enough, I'd like to use my postcards as wallpaper. But for now, I settle for making posters and decorating notebooks full of poetry with them. I still don't really know why I continue to collect postcards after all these years. But every time I look at one of them, I'm reminded of who gave it to me or where I was when I picked it up. I often don't even remember to ask people to send them anymore. But they still do. I've even gotten a few in my mailbox over the years that just say, "This is for your postcard collection."

I took a class my senior year of high school called Literature, Culture, and the Humanities. In it, we covered everything from literature to architecture to film to paintings. I feel like that's my postcard collection in a nutshell. So, this is everything that matters. Yes, that's right, the entire world matters. And yes, I can fit it into a box that I store under my bed.

It kind of makes me feel better about not knowing what the hell I want to do with my life, where I want to focus my energy. But I digress.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 12

Bullet your whole day.

Friday, May 6, 2011

(Of course, catch me on a day when I'm not enrolled in classes and don't have to babysit.)
  • woke up just before 9
  • went downstairs to make coffee/feed the cat
  • read for a while (while drinking the coffee I made, natch)
  • played on the Internet
  • received a text message from my friend Victoria, asking if I'd like to get together for dinner/drinks once she got off work at 8:15
  • replied to that text message with "yes"
  • took a shower
  • did boring, responsible things like 3 loads of laundry, Swiffering the floor, and cleaning the bathroom
  • ate some peach-flavored yogurt and a Nutri Grain bar
  • read some more
  • did the dishes
  • read
  • decided that I needed a change of scenery, so went to Caribou Coffee by Victoria's work to wait for her
  • finished reading _White Teeth_ by Zadie Smith (A+)
  • got really excited when I heard an Adele song playing in the coffee shop
  • ran into someone I knew from high school and exchanged awkward pleasantries
  • went outside to read some more (_When We Were Saints_ by Han Nolan) because it was warm outside and had stopped raining
  • marveled at very large dogs walking with their owners
  • met up with Victoria and her friend Ben
  • went to Victoria's so she could change out of her work clothes; wound up watching "Sexy Gay Friend" videos online for half an hour
  • drove to a 24-hour diner in St. Clair Shores because my uterus demands such foods once per month, if you catch my drift
  • ate $14 worth of cheap diner food, wondered why my bill was so high, then remembered that I'd only eaten some yogurt and a Nutri Grain bar thus far that day
  • went to a nearby bar but left after the first drink because the music was too loud and we're old and boring
  • went to another bar, where Victoria was disappointed because they no longer had her favorite beer
  • went to another bar, where Ben and Victoria got drunk
  • I stayed sober because I'm boring (and had to drive)
  • we played pool
  • the bar closed, so we went home
  • went to bed around 3:30 a.m.

Friday, May 6, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 11

Put your iPod on shuffle and list the first 10 songs that pop up.

"Halfway Around the World" by Chantal Kreviazuk

"A Theory" by Tracy Chapman

"He Won't Go" by Adele

"Half of You" by Cat Power

"Just Dance" by Lady GaGa

"Right as Rain" by Adele

"I Want to Sing" by Regina Spektor

"Lovegame" by Lady GaGa

"I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got" by Sinead O'Connor

"If Not Now..." by Tracy Chapman


Maybe this isn't the best representation of all the music that's in my library. But it's a pretty accurate representation of what I've been listening to recently. I always listen to Tracy Chapman alotalotalot. And lately, I've been listening to tons of Adele. And I'm convinced that everyone listens to Lady GaGa all the damned time, whether or not they admit it. :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 10

Someone who came into your life unexpectedly and made an impact.

The thing about my best friends is that they've all come into my life in very surprising ways. But I'll save detailed descriptions of specific close friends for a later prompt about five people who mean a lot to me. Here, I will elaborate on a group of people who came into my life a little over a year ago.

I spent three years at SVSU prior to transferring to Wayne State at the beginning of the fall 2010 semester. While I was there, I majored in creative writing. The English Department is split into several areas of focus, literature or creative writing, and English education.

And so not surprisingly, there are all these groups/cliques based on one's individual major within the English Department. And even though SVSU's a small school and elective courses have us taking classes with people from all across the department, people tend to stick to their own area of focus socially. That's not an absolute, obviously, but you get the idea. And I'm sure the same type of thing happens at other schools, too.

For a whole bunch of reasons that I won't get into right now, three years into my degree program, I suddenly found myself torn between transferring or changing my major from creative writing to literature.

For purely social reasons, I sometimes wish I'd chosen the latter.

Because all these awesome literature majors popped into my life right before I left. I have no idea what they saw in me, honestly: the semester before I transferred, I was really standoffish. I knew I'd be leaving, and it was hard enough to say goodbye to all my old friends. I didn't even want to think about making new ones.

But somehow, I did. And I've kept in closer contact with them than I have with some of the people I've known since my freshman year at SVSU.

A year ago today, I was packing up my apartment and preparing to move back to my parents' house in Grosse Pointe. My friend Sara invited me to spend my last night in Saginaw celebrating her birthday with her. I gladly accepted, even though I didn't know many of the people she had invited to her party.

And that's how I got to know Toni. We'd had a couple of classes together, but prior to Sara's party, hadn't said more than a few words to each other. And one year later, we're really good friends. Last weekend, she came down to Detroit to spend the day with me at the DIA and Greektown. It was awesome. And later this summer, we'll be going to Lollapalooza together.

Baffling, given that I met her the day before I moved away. (Thanks, Facebook!)

The same goes for Angela. I met her in a class I took the semester before I transferred. And actually, I dropped that class about two weeks into the term. And then I loaned her my textbook. I figured we wouldn't interact with each other again after she returned it to me at the end of the semester.

But no. As a thank you gift for letting her borrow the book, she bought me (of all things) three tiny (and sparkly--yes, sparkly!) donuts from Starbucks. That was just weird and hilarious enough to give us something to come back to. So after I left, we got to talking online. And then I visited her in Bay City a few times. And she even came down to Grosse Pointe for my birthday this past December.

Furthermore, Stephanie, Jamie, and Carolyn--The three people who took me with them to Pittsburgh this past March--are all literature majors, too. While we were waiting for them to come and pick me up my mom said to me, "I don't remember you mentioning these friends of yours, Amelia. When did you meet them?"

My answer: "I've taken a few classes with Stephanie and Jamie. And I don't actually know Carolyn very well at all."

But now that I've spent three days with her in Pittsburgh, I do!

Weird how that works. It's taught me to be more open minded, really. I wish I'd met them sooner. But I'm glad I was given the chance to get to know them at all. I hope I don't fuck up my chances at opportunities like this in the future.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 9

How you hope your future will be like.

But this sounds so similar to the prompt for day 2!

...Or I'm just too lazy to talk anymore on the topic. However you wanna look at it's fine by me.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 8

A time when you felt the most satisfied with your life.

You're going to make fun of me, but honestly, I was probably the most satisfied with my life during the 2002-2003 school year, when I was in the eighth grade.

Everyone hates the eighth grade. But not me. I owned that shit.

Academically, I excelled. The worst grade I got all year was a B+, and that was in math.

And thanks to the effort of a very dedicated English teacher who had had me in class before, I got to do some really awesome things with my writing: I placed in a statewide essay contest, had a poem published in an anthology printed by the Michigan Reading Association, got to attend a young authors' luncheon in Grand Rapids, and at the end of the school year, was presented with a writing award from the English Department.

That year, I was in the choir and also had a role in the school musical, Guys and Dolls. Ironically, I was cast as a missionary, so I had a lot of fun with that.

It was, I think, the only year when I was really active in a lot of things that I loved. During all my other years of school, I focused on either writing or music, but not both.

I think the reason I was so busy was that things were sort of falling apart at home. Both of my paternal grandparents passed away, and we moved into their house. It was stressful, so I just focused on school to keep my mind off things.

Since then, I've kind of been all over the place. That's not necessarily a bad thing: I've figured out a lot of things, gained some interests, and lost some, too. But the eighth grade was great because I excelled at all kinds of things I loved, and was surrounded by people who seemed to care about me.

Monday, May 2, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 7

Your zodiac sign and if you think it fits your personality.

I know nothing about astrology, so this on required a little research.

And by "a little research" I mean that I typed "Sagittarius" into Google and clicked the first link that popped up. (My birthday is December 15.)

A lot of what's there rings true for me: I like to think that I have a positive outlook on life; I'm hopeful even though I have many reasons not to be. I'm definitely honest, trustworthy, and sincere. and it's no secret that I'm a huge champion of the underdog (unless the underdog happens to be John McCain).

But then there's this whole paragraph on religion/morality. I'm not religious, obviously. But I do tend to abide by what I believe in. It also says, though, that "they regard rigid, unloving, intolerant adherence to ritual and conventional codes as more as more important than the truths they symbolize."

I'd like to think that's not true for me. I have my fair share of strict rituals: I need, for example, exactly two cups of coffee and a shower every morning before my day can begin. But I don't see that as harming anyone--other than the person who might be unfortunate enough to cross my path before I've got any caffeine in my system.

I don't really take this stuff seriously and doubt I ever will. I look at my horoscope sometimes. But the truth is that if no one told me it was mine, I could just as easily look at the supposed traits of someone who falls under any other sign and say, "Yep, that sounds like me." I've always found these things to be written in such abstract terms that just about anyone can apply them to their lives.