Category: rants


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I have always been a city person. The sounds of the traffic at night; the bright lights that decorate the sky; the familiar buildings that shape the downtown skyline. Each city has it’s own character, it’s own flavor. I love the smell of the sea in Portland, the architecture in Boston, the festive lights of the Superdome in the New Orleans skyline.

The downside to living in a city, besides the traffic of course, are the faces you see along the streets every day begging for money.  They hold signs. Sometimes they have cups. Here, they also frequently have dogs. But they’re all asking for the same thing. Many of us pass them by without any acknowledgment; some will give an occasional dollar or some spare change.  I often find my social-worker self avoiding eye contact as I pass by familiar faces on my morning rush to Starbucks.  I feel bad that they have to ask for money, while I rush by to purchase an over-priced latte. Most of all, I feel bad that I get annoyed by the begging. I turned away one man the other morning who was asking for money for coffee, saying that I had no spare change. He asked several people standing near me, and promptly stood in line behind me to purchase a coffee. I immediately felt the pangs of guilt: this man really did just want a coffee. At that moment, I wanted to buy him 10 coffees. I felt horrible for my judgment, and it stayed with me for a long time.

Recently, I came across the following collection of photography, entitled Faces of Addiction. It is a collection of photographs taken by a banker in New York who explores the lives of people living on the streets coping with addition. As I click through the photos, reading each person’s story, I am reminded of my judgment and assumption of the people I see standing at traffic corners. These people are fighting their own hell every day, just struggling to survive.

They cannot get back with their family. They cannot talk it out. “Really?” says Bernice, “What? Am I supposed to suddenly have a relationship with my family? Sit down, and pretend one of my mother’s boyfriends didn’t force himself on me when I was young?”

So we throw them in jail. Drugs are wrong, selling your body for sex is wrong.

Being fucked by your dad is even more wrong.

Throw them in jail. Remove the problem.

Throw them in jail rather than realize how damn unfair our society is. How badly some are chewed up, abused, spit out, never given a chance.

Throw them in jail to preserve the fantasy that our culture is filled with domestic bliss, that being poor doesn’t suck, that life is fair.
Throw them in jail rather than ask why so many men rape children?

Spend a night in Hunts Point. Listen to the stories. Know that dads, uncles, neighbors, often rape little children. Know that it fucks them up for life.

 I found myself becoming lost in the photographs, immersed in their stories. Most of all, I was reminded that every person has a story. Every beggar, every addict, every prostitute – is more than that.

 

Look through the pictures:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/arnade/sets/72157627894114489/?page=2

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Chris Brown returned to court this week for a review of his sentence and charges; apparently he didn’t finish his community service. Guess who accompanied him? No, besides his mom.

Rihanna. The girl he beat up… the event that got him this charge in the first place. I have really lost respect for her through this. She is supposed to be a role model, but she is sending the message that it is okay to take a guy back who beats you up.

😛

It’s long been said (I’ve always wanted to use that phrase) that the Super Bowl is one of the largest sex trafficking events in the United States.

According to our local Fox 8 (not to be confused with Fox News), five women were rescued this past weekend during the event here in New Orleans. This same weekend, eight arrests were made in connection to human-trafficking related events.

What’s ironic to me is that we, as a society, know that forced prostitution is wrong. We know that many girls are forced into it. Yet, there are so many men (it’s usually men. Don’t pull the “man hating” card just yet) who will justify this behavior by denying these very facts.  

A lot is being done to help these girls, including cooperation with local businesses to train employees what to watch out for, and to make secret hotline numbers available for girls in hotel rooms or bathooms.  While these things are undoubtedly beneficial in helping these poor girls, it does not put enough of a public eye on the other piece of the puzzle.  (The names of the “Pimps” should be public, as well as the “johns”.  Why are people spending 10 years in prison for weed, while these slave drivers are living freely?) How can these men justify their actions by calling the act “consentual”, and refuse to see that their contribution is what makes it possible?

We live in a world where it is understood that sex-trafficking is wrong, but do we truly understand why? Women are still judged and valued for their bodies every day. Walking through the downtown area on Super Bowl weekend, I saw the “Budweiser Girls” lining the sidewalk dressed (for lack of a better word) in thong-shorts and bra-tops.  How can we ever overcome the slavery of women if we still view them as objects; as something that needs to be decorated and looked at?  I don’t care if you think it “looks nice”. This isn’t about your needs. A nearly-naked woman should have no relevance to the sales of beer, but “sex sells”, and here lies the connection.  We’re taught that this is ok to expect this from women, and we justify it by telling ourselves they have “consented” to it.  No, these Budweiser women aren’t victims of sex-trafficking. They are victims of a world where there is so little that separates the two.

Beyonce’s job during the haltime performance was to sing and entertain. Why did this have to be done wearing a body suit? If Jay Z, or even Beiber, came on stage wearing a speedo, we’d laugh. We wouldn’t take this seriously. “He must be pulling an act; he can’t be serious”. Because we all know that men don’t need to dress like this to gain an audience. Beyonce is known for her strong influences to women empowerment, yet she peformed in a stadium full of people wearing such little fabric. But again, we justify this. “She was hot doing all that dancing. It’s easier to move. She can wear what she wants”.  Whatever justifies it.  It’s this contribution that makes it possible.

Driving home from work the other morning I was listening to a talk-show where they were comparing the the Mardi Gras here with Carnival in Brazil.  Of course, the topic of women bearing their breasts came up, as it is much more popular in Brazil’s version of Carnival than it is here in the Big Easy – despite popular belief. One of the men began making fun of the women here: “I wouldn’t want to see the ones on the women there anyway, they sag so much they’d have to unzip their pants just for us to see them”.  While I realize he was “making a joke”, the point remains that our bodies are always up for others’ discussion; always subjected to others’ opinions and ridicule.  These two hosts would probably call me an angry feminist, but only they have no way of understanding what it feels like to be on the other side.

To bring an end to my rant, how can we end forced prostitution of women if we’re unable to look at the other ways we enslave them?

 

Nostalgia

Tonight I found myself going through old pictures of college; reminising in the nostalgia that flows from pictures of dorm rooms and dining halls. I remember counting down the days until we received our degrees, sick of being treated like the undergraduate teenagers we were. Sneaking jello shots and small caged animals into our dorm rooms, it was us against the world. 

I miss traveling. Not going-from-here-to-Alabama traveling. I miss TRAVELing. Walking across the bridge over the Charles River in Prague. Seeing the concentration camps in Poland. Living in France. I miss getting lost, trying foreign food, staying in hostels. I miss it all.

I have an inability to enjoy the moment. I always look back and long for the memories of last night, last weekend, last year.  I miss sipping iced lattes under the palm trees before class this past summer. I miss my life in the early days of coming to New Orleans: when everything was new and exciting. Heck, I miss the Mardi Gras parade I attended two days ago.

Today, I have that long-awaited degree. And another one, too.  I continue to sip iced lattes under palm trees, and there will be more Mardi Gras parades all week.  But instead of enjoying the moment, I spent the night on Facebook looking at pictures of college days.

Damn you, Facebook. Damn you, Nostalgia. You’re making me appear Emo.

curly hair problems

curly2

I’m so sick of straight haired girls telling me they understand my frustration when it comes to curly hair.

“My hair gets curly when it’s humid, I totally understand”.

Mm hmm.  You have no idea.

“My hair is naturally curly too, actually it’s wavy, I just straighten it”.

If you can “straighten” your hair to the point where it looks like that, then you probably don’t have the same texture hair as me.

My frustration stems from the fact that every time I try to find a new hair stylist, I ask if they have experience working with curly hair, and I almost get an offended response. As if I have insulted them by asking.  Yet I continue to experience haircuts from people who really have no idea how to work with curly hair. I’m talking REALLY CURLY hair. Not Taylor-Swift-who-has-curly-ends-sometimes hair.

A quick Google search for “curly hair” brings up about 90% of pictures of women with STRAIGHT hair with a hairstyle that came from throwing a couple curlers in it for a while. Where are my naturally-curly girls?

I am trying to find a new hairstyle for graduation, and I came across a site that can help you choose hairstyles based on your face shape. After choosing my face shape, (who the hell knows their face shape!?) I was directed to a site for choices for straight/wavy hair, as well as curly hair.  The two girls featured had the SAME DAMN HAIR.

See for yourself: http://www.youbeauty.com/hair/haircuts-face-shape-rounded-heart

 

Until people learn the difference between straight-hair-with-a-little-bit-of-wave, and CURLY hair, we will continue to have these serious, real world problems. And people like me, who work third shift on a Friday night after no sleep due to preparing for graduation ALL WEEK, will continue to have minor issues to worry about.

So many problems. So little time.

Image

As Facebook dwindles down from recent political explosions on the news feed, I’m still catching the odd debate here and there about the results of Maine’s Question 1.

It’s amazing how many people hide behind the premise of their “opinion” while spewing pure hatred. Just because you preface this filth with “in my opinion,” doesn’t make it any less that what it is: hatred. This world is full of it.

“Well I believe gay marriage is just wrong. Its disgusting.”

Maybe I find your face disgusting. Even Marie Antoinette had to learn sooner or later that the world wasn’t always going to cater to her expectations.

“I just don’t understand it”.

I didn’t realize it was necessary to give commentary on everything you dont understand.  I’ll never understand the attraction to fake-platinum blondes. Does this mean I have to clog up your news feed to ensure you know my opinion about this?  Leave the comments about things you “dont understand” to conversations about physics. That, nobody understands.

“I’m sorry, that’s just my opinion”.

Apologizing along with it doesn’t really make you that much less of an asshole.

“Next we’re going to be allowing legal incest and pedophilia”.

Why not? It’s in the Bible. Kidding. Totally fricken kidding.  I have no hope for these people, anyway. With this type of logic, nothing is untouchable.

“It’s a sin! It says so in the Bible”.

This one is probably my favorite. Your cookie-cutter following of the Bible has brought you to the realization that it must be wrong. After all, absolutely everything else that is (assumed to be) forbidden in the Bible is followed to an exact science; all 700 different interpretations of it.  Theologians disagree about scripture every day, but John Doe can’t be argued with.

“I’m being forced to put up with something I don’t agree with!”

You sound like a spoiled child. Gay marriage isn’t forcing you to marry someone of the same sex! Did the feminist movement mandate bra burning?

“I am allowed to have my opinion”

There are always those people who, when all common-sense fails, they resort to the “I know my rights” mentality. You’re correct, you have the right to condone hatred. But after awhile, doesn’t it get old?

The lines coming out of Chik Fil A this past week are shocking. Ok, not SHOCKING… this IS the South. But it is becoming quite apparent what a slap in the face this whole issue has become.

We have one side who is sick of the hatred, and tired of having our lives become the center of ongoing and hateful debates. We have the other side claiming “free speech”, First Amendment issues, blah blah.

Yes, people are entitled to their beliefs. But sometimes these beliefs make one seem quite ignorant, backwards, and overly old-fashioned.  For example, I have the right to believe that people who eat meat should be ripped of equal rights, (for the record I’m a meat eater). I have every right to believe that unicorns exist – and even that they are the Lord’s Savior.  I have had clients who truly believed they we’re Jesus Christ. (Who in this field hasn’t had that experience?)  We all are entitled to these protected beliefs, no matter how absurd they may seem to the general public.

It’s when people gather together with these extreme beliefs that there becomes a problem. Given the outlet and opportunity to act are what provide a dangerous outlet for discrimination.   I have met some vegans who, if given the chance, would probably persecute meat eaters.  These aforementioned vegans have the right to have an extreme dislike of meat eaters, right? What if these same extremists moved to collective political power? What if, in 20 years, it became illegal to eat meat here in the US?  What’s this? The beliefs of some shouldn’t affect the actions and laws that dictate the your life? Welcome to this realization!  

OK, that’s a bit of a stretch. (And sorry to any vegan readers for my hypothetical example). But this is how the Chik Fil A fiasco looks to me: people are rallying in support of one’s First Amendment right to believe that a group of people should not have equal rights.  Switch the specific group of people, and we can see even more how ridiculous this has become:  “Redheads should not be able to marry each other”. After all, that red hair color – it’s just so unnatural. How about divorcees? Should they be able to get married after breaking one of the major rules within most religious doctrines? …How about Canadians? Who needs more Canadians, anyway? (Relax, I can say this: I’m from Maine. We’re all half-Canadian up they’ah).   Somehow, when we insert any other group of people besides gays into the mix, this issue become quite humorous. It is then that we can objectively see what we’re doing to ourselves.

Yes, people have every right to their opinion. They have every right to donate to a cause, whether that be: People United Against the Use of Thumb-Tacks, or even Protection for the Family Against the Unauthorized use of Goat Cheese.  Donate all you want. Believe whatever you want.

When my grandmother was a child, people had every much of a right then (just as they do now) to BELIEVE that women should not vote – and many rallied and donated against their efforts.  There are still people today who believe such horrible and discriminatory things, as we have seen this week.  What if the lines outside of Chik Fil A were in support of someone’s right to believe that women should not be allowed to vote?  What if they were in support of one’s right to donate money in support the removal of all child abuse laws from the books? What if those people with impromptu chicken cravings were really in support of anti-meat legislation? (Hey, irony happens every day. Especially in politics). Suddenly, the issue of free speech doesn’t seem as important. Or, would you still be in line?

Just, please, think about WHAT BELIEFS you’re supporting. This isn’t a debate about free speech. It’s about making people aware of impact this speech is having on those most vulnerable.

This past month I have been looking around for a used car, ending with me purchasing a Mitsubishi Galant a couple of weeks ago.  No, this isn’t a debate about American vs. Japanese cars – don’t get too excited. Rather, I have decided that I have another reason to add to my growing list of resentment about being the “weaker” sex.

I began by looking around online within my price range to see what I could expect to find around the metropolitan area, made tons of phone calls and emails, then took my search out into the streets. I tried to keep my search to local used car dealers, because the obvious assumption is that the car will be better taken care of.

Being a woman, the immediate thing that you notice when entering a car dealership is that the salesmen automatically assume you A. aren’t buying the car yourself, and B. that you wont have any legitimate questions to ask. I prefaced every inquiry with the basic questions about the mileage, any major problems, how many owners, car-fax, and all that jazz. The first couple questions were answered with an obligatory tone, and then I had apparently reached my allotted time for questions, because that’s when things turned awkward.

I asked the salesman, “Why did the previous owner give up this car?” (It seemed like a very nice car for that price). His response? “Uh, I don’t know ma’am. To get a new one??!’  He said this while laughing.

When test driving the car, he proceeded to crank up the music. Because girls only care about music, right? Clinking noises on the car can always be ignored if you have good tunes!  I was also laughed at when I asked when the last time was the car had an oil change. Because that’s apparently a funny question to be asked by a curly-haired girl wearing a pink shirt.

You’ll be happy to learn I left that dealership and purchased my car at another across town.  Just because I’m a woman, doesn’t mean you can easily take advantage of me.

People piss me off.

If you’ve seen a newspaper in this city today (or opened Facebook), you know that Drew Brees (the quarterback for the Saints, northern friends) finally signed a contract yesterday for 100 million dollars. In what was the largest contract deal in NFL history for the Saints, Brees is now the highest paid player in the NFL.

  “Brees skipped the Saints’ offseason practices while holding out for his new  long-term contract, which now gives him the highest average annual pay ($20  million) in NFL history,”  (cnn.com).

In case 100 million isn’t quite enough (he allegedly asked for more but eventually came down), he was awarded a $37 million signing bonus. He was awarded millions for accepting his offer of even more millions. Yet were complaining about the costs of HEALTHCARE?!

One of the things that attracted me to New Orleans is the incredible resilience of the city, the unity of its people, and their ability to contribute so much with whatever they may have.  An entire day can be spent enjoying a BBQ outside, followed by a Second Line, and finished up with a neighborhood block party. These experiences are all what makes this city so amazing.  New Orleans is filled with average people doing what they love,  enjoying life, and their happiness is not unnoticed.   Coming from the Northeast, I was used to money being seen as a major status symbol. Beach houses on Nantucket, summer cottages in Bar Harbor – the abundant wealth in bigger cities is a stark contrast to the Big Easy- a city that brings in 10 times the culture and influence of cities that far surpass it in size and number.  This is such a different type of city – which is why it should come to no surprise that I immediately felt at home here.  But New Orleans doesn’t have the money that other cities have, and the Saints don’t have the money that many other teams have.

But no matter what team, there comes to a point when demanding an outrageously high salary is just being selfish.  The fact that Brees was willing to sit out until he was offered his asking price is the opposite of my initial impression of this city- including those who play for it.  This contract has become about bragging rights; no person requires millions a year to sustain a lifestyle.  This is nice that we have the highest paid quarterback, but can we afford to place any more players on the field? We can’t go to a 2nd Superbowl with Brees himself.  Do the Saints want another chance at the Superbowl, or do they want the bragging rights of having the highest paid player?

As a society, we place a value on certain professions and what their salaries should be. Sports players and Congress, ironically, are some of the highest paid individuals in our country, yet I would argue that they do not “work harder” than many of us who live just fine on an annual salary that rivals the cost of their vacation expenses. When you take into consideration that these salaries are just the portion of their income that we hear about, (there are many other benefits included: healthcare, comped vacations, gifts from the public, etc) it should make the average wage-earner feel highly looked over. Why is athleticism more highly regarded than, say, teaching or foster parenting?

If Brees really cares about New Orleans as much as he claims, why couldn’t he have “settled” with half that to play the sport he loves for a city he adores?   This city’s schools are failing badly, the murder rate is the highest in the nation for a city its size, and much of the 9th ward (including MANY other areas) has yet to be rebuilt. There are so many more worthwhile things that $100 million could be spent on here that don’t include inflating an already wealthy player’s salary.   What about lowering the prices of tickets so more people can afford to attend?  It saddens me that this has become about greed instead of loyalty.  Brees took advantage of the Saints during the Bounty scandal; a time when free agent players are thinking twice about signing with them.  They had no choice but to give him a blank check.

Always remember: money changes people. There comes a time when it’s just too much.  No individual person needs that much money, I don’t care who they are or what profession they hold.