There should be

*So I've done a lot of posting recently as a GRE exercise.  It's been extremely difficult to stay focused during my study sessions, so I thought I'd keep myself entertained and interested by making the process have a concrete product.  I've got one week before the exam, and am on schedule: final week- the  writing (not that I would write any of this on the actual exam, but getting my brain conditioned por lo menos).  So this is the last of my trials...

There should be a five-year ban on making movies about zombies or the apocalypse.

There should be a one-year prison term for rubberneckers.

There should be a way to rewind life so that you can take a person back to their childhood for a day. And not so they can enjoy it, but so they can see that childhood sucked just as bad as, if not worse than, adulthood, and then they can finally stop pitying themselves for having grown up and will realize that adulthood is just as wonderful as, if not better than, childhood.


There should be a movement to reverse the recordability and portability of music, to take us back to a time when you had to be in the presence of a musician in order to hear music, that is, unless you were listening to a recording in that most primitive of music boxes—the heart—with all its false notes and turned-around phrases, echoes, warped waves, and rattling walls.

There should be a presidential election where none of the candidates are allowed to talk for the entire year leading up to the election. And we will choose our leader based on the work they choose to do and what they get done with their hands and sweat during that fundraiser-free, oh so commercialless vow of silence.

*Let's pretend you're the ETS graders and you give me a (drum roll) 7/6!  Which reminds me of this.

Aisle 2- tampons, candy, lighter fluid, baking soda, and rulers

We live in a supermarket society. You can buy fruit, beer, donuts, coffee, fix a flat, lotto tickets, cigarettes, porn magazines, bread, rock salt, and/or cough medicine when you stop for gas. I spent some time in Ukraine, and they still, for the most part, operate on the old school specialty shop model: you go to a butcher to buy meat, you go to a baker to buy bread, you go to a low-to-the-ground baba at the market to buy fruit, you go to the chocolate shop to buy chocolate, you go to a gas station to buy GAS—NOT FOOD. Even in this country, superrich people operate this way, they go to food “boutiques”—they don’t go to Kroger. There’s a reason why Ukrainian people (and many other non-American cultures- Spain, for sure) and the superrich shop this way—it’s better.

The downfall of a supermarket society is that nobody knows anything about anything. I go into a coffee shop in a nearby city and ask for a Cinnamon Twist (which is a fancy name for a cinnamon roll) and the barista says “Is that a drink?” And I say, “No, it’s one of your desserts.” I ask for a double espresso in a demitasse, and she says “What is that?” And I think, “Are you here to work in a coffee shop, or are you just hanging out behind the register while you wait for the Lady Gaga show to roll into town?” So I explain the subtleties of the size and shape of the demitasse and even point out its location on top of HER espresso machine. So then she picks up a coffee mug and says “This one?” And I say no. You get the picture.

I go to Target, which sells rugs, bicycles, plasma screens, books, vacuum cleaners, and peanut butter, but nobody really knows anything about any of these things, except where they are located. They can’t review a product, tell me about its quality, how long it will last, where it was made. When I bought a rug in Ukraine, she told me where she got her loom from (her grandmother), where she bought her dyes (Hungary), and how she cleaned the raw wool (in the river). She told me the story of how her grandmother left her the loom with the expectation that she carry on the Hutzel tradition of rug making and that all the patterns she designs remind her of a particular person in her life. 

Yes, I know, you don’t want to hear a family history every time you buy something, and neither do I. But even if I did have to listen to an old woman talk for a few minutes every time I went to the store, I would probably be better off for it, and I would definitely prefer that to facing a whole world of stores that expect me to expect their employees to be dumb. Is this only in the Midwest?


Rose-colored glasses

Everything is green. You can build a green house, not a greenhouse, but a house that is built with the environment in mind. Even cars are green, and I hear that there’s going to be a green Bible soon, with green-lettered verses where God’s Creation is mentioned. Everything is recycled and recyclable, natural, organic, transfat free, no CFCs…

Don’t get me wrong, I try to buy things that don’t absolutely devastate the earth as they travel from soil to shelf, but sometimes I wonder about this green explosion. Yes, we should all try to fight evil, be green, buy and eat good things, but as long as our greenness is just another route of consumption we’re still headed down the same road.

Yesterday, they taught us to fear for our safety in smaller cars and then sold us SUVs ; today capitalism has gone green, and they tell us to fear global warming and then sell us hybrids. I have a friend who lived in South Africa for a few years a few years back, she told me Al Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize was ridiculous. She sees all our greenness as a last-ditch plead for some fantastic forgiveness from a God whose Creation we’ve ruined—it’s all a bandaid, she says. And while I loved “An Inconvenient Truth,”  as I stepped to the counter today at a glass-walled, vegan menu, fair trade coffee cafĂ©,  I find that I have a hard time arguing with her.

We used to drink water from the spring

By the time the average Westerner dies they will have spent 7 months, 4 days, 3 hours, 44 minutes and 17 seconds deleting junk emails from their hotmail, gmail, yahoo, and facebook accounts. This eventuality forces one to question the central tenets of evolution—no, it is not the rambling of Creationists that throw a MONKEY wrench (get it? monkey) in Darwin’s theory, but rather statistics like the aforementioned that make one question the idea that humans develop, improve, get stronger, smarter, better. It is what we do on a daily basis that proves or debunks the claim of our steady advancement, and on the basis of a look at these daily activities, I must say that we have not progressed. Consider the following:

We used to gather food and cook it over a fire, now we dig up coal to make a fire in a plant to make electricity to send to a freezer to freeze our food on its ways to a grocery store where it will stay frozen in a freezer powered by electricity (fire) so then we pick it up and start another fire in the internal combustion engine of our cars to take the food home turn on a light turn up the furnace throw away our junk mail and pop our “food” into a microwave (more electricity/fire) that will “cook” it for us, if cooking means altering the chemical composition of the food so much as to destroy any nutritional value left after it was picked from the vine too early to be frozen so it could be reheated. What?

We used to drink water from springs, now we pollute the spring to make a plastic bottle then build a factory to purify the water and put it in the bottle that polluted the spring in the first place, and we do this so we can have drinkable spring water. Right.

We used to eat corn, now we eat high fructose corn syrup.

We used to listen to music, now we listen to [put random auto-tuned robotic voice black dude here, or any of the Youngs will work, or any of the Li’ls].

As you can see, I could clearly go on, but I'm sure it's obvious why I'm skeptical about this thing called human progress.

KitKat patty wack, give the kid his goddamn candy

I love working on Thursdays.  I have the greatest group of volunteers who come and help out at the warehouse.  They don't come on their own volition, but are forced to come by the State of Michigan in order to receive welfare.  If they can't find work for three months, they must start community service to continue to acquire skills.  But it doesn't matter because most of them are hard workers regardless.

All of these women are inner-city women with at least one child.  They talk about the funniest shit when they're here.  And I have to say I learn a lot about the hardships, realities, and the culture of these people.  And anyone who knows me, knows that I love anthrolopolgy... and Halloween.

That being said, I was talking to them today about Halloween.  I mean, Detroit is infamous in regards to this holiday (it wasn't until recently that I became aware of Detroit's exclusivity in this tradition).  But, unfortunately, due to the causes and the effects of this infamy,  the children cannot trick-or-treat in their own neighborhoods.  As a result,  many of them end up getting bussed in or driving into the suburbs to trick-or-treat or trunk-or-treat. [People hand out sweet treats from the trunks of their cars in parking lots.  (Something about this seems contradictory to everything I learned as a child.)]

As I live on the "8 Mile" division between Detroit and the burbs, many of these children end up in my neck of the woods.  Oh, and I hear about it.  I've overheard numerous people talk about "the bullshit of having to give these kids candy on Halloween (they don't even have costumes)".

To this I say:  Go fuck yourself!  The point of Halloween is to give kids candy (and diabetes).  Who cares if these kids are in your neighborhood; put that KitKat in that cute kid's pillowcase and wish him a happy Halloween.  Wake up and realize that he would probably rather trick-or-treat in his own neighborhood anyway. 

This city is ours.  It's not a "their problem" situation we have here.  In fact, this problem is really a microcosm for a larger issue of national security; a problem I see as closer to boiling than Iraq/Pakistan/Afghanistan.  No one wants to share their candy.


A sad crescendo of existence. I can laugh now.

Low moments that have made for good stories.

I went to visit a friend (female) in a nearby village.  Upon seeing her, I hugged her and started humping her leg involuntarily.  I instantly started crying- from laughter and sadness.  I realized I hadn't been hugged in almost a year and I fucking INVOLUNTARILY humped my friend's leg!

I got locked inside a train garage- inside the train.  I was so scared.  I called my friend, Eddie, and asked him what I should do.  He didn't have much advice.  I eventually tried climbing through the window, but reconciled that the drop would be too much.  So, I pried the door open, jammed my backpack between the doors, and jumped.  I was about a 1/2 kilometer outside some random city with the equivalent of $.50 in my pocket.  Not a good situation.

I saw a man fall down a flight of cement stairs with his bike in hand.  I didn't do anything.  I waited to see what the other women would say (one being his wife) who witnessed the event.  She yelled, "asshole".  I laughed.  Then I felt bad for who/what I had become.

A friend and I spent three hours deconstructing a text that may/or may not have had romantic implications (the ellipses were a definite sexual innuendo).  That was the most exciting thing that happened for many weeks.

A friend called to tell me he found a human ear on the ground.  I asked, "Did you take a picture?"  Was that really an appropriate response?

Determined that it was easier to leave the food out on the stove because then I wouldn't have to reheat it the next day and dirty another pan.

Saw a dead body in the trunk of a car and didn't think much of it.

Definitely had more than one "I-just-want-to-go-to-the-forest-and-eat-meat moments".

Have used something other than toilet paper to do the job of toilet paper.  And was proud of myself for being so resourceful.


Bottom of the Ninth

The internet is remarkable.  I truly believe it to be the greatest invention ever.  It's a sea of information at your fingertips, a place to stay connected, a opportunity to influence people to action on a global scale, and a creative outlet for so many.

As I grow older, I often think about what a blessing it would be to have a conversation with my dad.
It would go something like this:

Me: Hi, Dad.

Dad: Hi, Laudenski.  What's cookin'?

Me: Not a whole lot.  Work's good- could use some more money.  Ya know.

Dad: Yeah, well, hang in there.  I've been thinking about adding some flowers around the base of the cherry blossom tree.   Want to see what they've got and pick some out with me?

Me: Sure.

(At this point we would get in the car and Dad would turn on some Tiger's baseball.)

I know it's nothing spectacular, but it'd be priceless.

I stumbled upon a touching website that honors a woman's father.  This is why the internet is so cool.