Thursday, March 27, 2008

Unbelievably Angry

Why do I do this to myself?

It had been a year. I told her I wanted to see her. I asked if she would come see me. I pointed out that my Birthday had just passed and that she was retired so she had a lot of time with no commitments. I told her I wanted it to be like a vacation, and I even offered to pay the plane ticket. She said she'd think about it.

I called her two days later to see if she was ready to agree. She informed me that she had been hired for a job at a superstore and was starting the next morning.When I asked her why she had gotten a job just when I asked her to come see me, she explained that she needed the money for the ticket I already offered to buy. I expressed frustration that we would have to schedule around her full-time job now. She said she had told her manager she wanted two or three days off in a row to see me.

I pointed out that if she did this then she would spend one day driving here, one day flying back and we would have so little time in between. I told her I wanted to spend more time. She said she couldn't ask for more. I said I'd try to work around it.

I rearranged my schedule and figured out a way to get to Michigan by driving 15 hours with a stranger from craig's list, spending $150 worth of gas. Cutting out the travel time, that meant two days to spend with her after a year.

When I got there, she informed me that she was working the next two days for eight hours each day.

All in all, I'm pissed that I waisted my time coming here to see someone who obviously went so far out of her way to ignore me. If she wasn't willing to meet me 1/10 of the way, then why am I here?Why is it that I give her so many chances? If I am so totally disappointing to her and she is to me then why do we still have a relationship?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

MIssion Photo Shoot

(link in title)


1) get a better feel for how lighting work with digital media
2) figure out what kind of framing has what effects on me
3) think about how to tell stories with images
4) be less camera shy
5) have fun

Objectives met?

Mas o menos...


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Call for liberation: Rioting in Tibet

News story about what has been happening in Tibet:

Beatings caught on tape:

Upon hearing about the escalating rioting in Tibet, I cried. Few that they were, they were the first tears I had shed in months, a year even.

I admire the way our spiritual leaders are taking stands for the people against oppressive states that dominate us. I admire monks engaging in real life struggles, rather than cloistering themselves away in their monasteries. However, hearing of the brutal repression they face time and again is paralyzing.

How can they beat, shoot, and torture these people who have dedicated their lives to such noble pursuits? How can I live in a world where military phalanxes can descend on a monastery, maiming monk and shooting refugees on camera and nothing happens to stop it?

I was trying to pinpoint in my own mind why the plight of Tibetans resonates so much with me. At first, the only thing I could think is that these people are just like my teachers. The more I meditate on it, they are my teachers.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Researcher Survey for Student Activists

This is not my research but I recently got it forwarded to me and I thought it had some sweet questions to think about (I highlighted them in red)...

Name -- Age -- Gender – Ethnicity/Race
Where do you attend school or where do you work (name/city of high school,
college, university, or workplace)?
What is the focal point of your involvement in activism or youth community
organizing? Are you involved with a specific organization and, if so, what is
the name (and is there a website)?
Have you ever received formal or semi-formal training for organizing and
activism (if so, what was the nature of it)? Were you mentored by others? In
other words, how did you learn to do what you’re doing? (Did you learn by
reading about it, by watching others do it, by simply
What sparked your interest and involvement? How did that come about?
What are some specific projects, and specific victories or accomplishments
you’ve been part of?
What are your major motivations for engaging in student activism or organizing
(e.g. spiritual, religious, philosophical, political, and so on)? Why do you
do what you do in terms of participation, involvement, leadership, etc. in
activism and organizing?
What have you learned through your involvement that you might not have
otherwise known or realized? In other words, what difference has your
participation made in your life (and in the lives of other people)?
How would you characterize your present-day socio-economic class membership,
and the socio-economic status of your family of origin? How do you think our
wider society (“the status quo”) perceives and regards members of your
socio-economic standing (or that of your family of origin), especially vis a
vis other socio-economic groups or classes?
How do you think the wider society views young people of today? As a young
person, do you personally feel that you and your input and your values are
respected by the wider society, and by the institutions of which you are a
What else might you want to communicate to a broader audience?
Do you give permission to be quoted by name? (If you wish, you can state your
wishes for me to use a pseudonym when quoting you.)
Thank you for your time!
Susanne Johnson, Ph.D.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Vulnerability Connection: A Prologue

I had a great conversation the other day (which I may write about later) about how vulnerability is what make radical activism compelling. In so many ways, it is a type of strength I continually fall short of and yet one that I’ve never stopped admiring. Paradoxically, it the single thing I’ve always had the most trouble with and also the most consistent thread that connect all the people and subjects I care most about.

In the next series of posts, I'll attempt to trace some of the contours of my thoughts on vulnerability and draw the connections I see with my attraction to Buddhism, radical political activism, and gender identity.

What's in a Label?

When I was operating in the world knowing that everyone I met either assumed that I was heterosexual or homosexual, I spent lots of time on edge, worrying about how every little compliment or accidental brush would be interpreted. The result was that I stopped displaying positive feeling about anyone especially to their face.

This wasn't all in my head; on many an occasion, people did express romantic attraction towards me and I don't exactly feel like it's okay to send mixed messages. I wanted to be clear and honest. At the same time, I ran away from anyone who I ever perceived as wanting a relationship with me as well, as soon as I got any sort of hint that that was "what they were after." The intent of a romantic relationship took on a sinister connotation in my mind as I fell into the trap of conflating romance, sex, intimacy and sexuality.

So here's where labels save the day...well only kind of.

There is of course the obvious resource that I can now find people online who share (and therfore validate) my concerns, anxieties, and questions within a supportive community of people who don't gawk or scoff when I talk about how to have a fulfilling personal life while avoiding sex.

More pronounced is how it's change the way I allow myself to relate to other people. I've realized that, in the year since I've declared myself asexual [insert over-dramatized reenactment here], I've progressively allowed myself to be much more open to affection and relationships (of all kinds) than I ever have been. It's not just having a word to call myself (though I reluctantly admit that that helps), but that I feel safer after establishing a hard limit (sex) for the relationship and then operating from the assumption that that is not where the relationship is leading. After I come out to someone, I can more freely express feelings without the automatic assumption that affection and closeness equal sexual availability or attraction. Ironically, since I've started thinking of myself as asexual, I've gradually become more open to the idea of relationships in general and physical closeness in particular.

But that's not actually what was the most important transition for me. Thinking of myself as asexual allows me to deconstruct the way I have been thinking about social relationships and sexuality. It allows me to acknowledge how much the my relationships (which I could never imagine being sexual) never-the-less mean to me. It allows me to realize how much I've discounted my own feelings for not being sexual as well as how much I've pushed away the very things I want and need most from other people because I didn't understand how they could be distinguished from something I didn't want at all.

Sex is more than just bodies and sexuality is more than just sex. Others used sex as shorthand for a lot of things I really do value, like intimacy, closeness, connection, communication, etc. and knowing what those things are puts me a lot closer (though farther away than I wish I were) to figuring out how to accomplish them without it. Lastly, without the word asexual, there would be no Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), and I never would have figured out how much I love to talk about sexuality.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Documentary Abstracts:

Here's a little update on the projects that have been floating around in my mind for a while...

Queering Gender: I would profile individuals that identify as genderqueer, portraying how the binary model of gender is limiting and how people struggle to create an identity outside of it.

Filmmaker Commentary: I’m nervous about asking people to talk about such as personal topic in front of a camera, but I’m enthusiastic that I know people who fit the description and the editing itself will be fairly easy.

Military: Reflexive documentary (a documentary exploring an issue through the personal life of the filmmaker) about the way military service has effected and continues to effect my family. The military has dramatically shaped the lives of people in my mother’s family often with tragic consequences (prison, paralysis, dependency etc.) and yet it is a legacy that gets renewed with each generation. Further more, I've recently made contact with my father’s side of the family who are from an occupied territory (Puerto Rico) only to find that a whole round of them have gone to and/or returned from Iraq . I want to explore how military service undermines the health of American families but also makes them dependent on it, creating generational
cycles that makes its influence seem inevitable.

Filmmaker Commentary: I'm not on terribly good terms with my family, so it is questionable whether or not they would be willing to talk on camera about it, however if they were, then I think it could be very provocative. And who knows, maybe we could come to understand one another better in the process.

Trans-activism: I want to talk create an intergenerational dialogue about activism in trans-gender communities through creating a film that attempts to portray both consistent themes and how activism in trans-communities have changed over time. I hope to tell the history of activism not through a linear narrative but rather through juxtaposing experiences of new activists with those of people who were active in the past.

Filmmaker Commentary: This will probably be hard because it will require me getting in touch with people living in vastly different places. Structure will also be problematic if I want it to be coherent.