Oh, America

I was reading this article, and honestly, I don’t even know where to begin. No, seriously, I read through this wondering what the heck was going on with the US government. And more to the point: how the hell has this gotten so bad.

I mean really. Forced to carry a stillborn to term, because cows and pigs do? State sanctioned rape?

What the fuck, America. What the fuck.

I’ve spent my entire life knowing full well that I won’t be as good as a guy in several respects. Hell, my own parents are guilty of sexism — accidental, I’m sure, but it’s there. I’ve been passed over for things that I can do because there was a male around. I know, it sounds like bitter whining, but it’s true. In some cases, I’d done similar things, and I’d done them better than the end product of whatever guy who’d been around did.

These things happen. It’s not right, and it sucks that any woman who complains or even mentions the discrepancy about how men and women are treated is labeled a feminist — which is then immediately equated to man-hating bitch. Let’s face it: though a feminist wants equality, the feminists that get heard are the bitter ones who want a chance at being top dog, at the expense of men, who the rest of us just want to be equal to. Personally, I just want the same paycheck as the guy who does the same job. Currently, though, I’ll have to count myself lucky if I make even 80% of it.

But let’s ignore that. Let’s not take into account glass ceilings, or paycheck discrepancies, or any of that. Let’s talk about the body, and who has rights to what.

Let’s talk pregnancy.

Now, let’s face it — men aren’t carrying kids. If they did, this would probably not even be on the table right now. We wouldn’t be having this discussion. This being said — what the hell gives any man who isn’t my boyfriend, my husband, my father, or my brother the right to tell me how to live my life? And what gives any man who I don’t have such ties to the right to tell me how to be pregnant. Because that’s what’s going on, really. There are all these rules about it now, and more that are trying to crop up. And frankly, I think the whole thing is stupid — and dangerous.

Abortion. Under 18? Need your father’s permission. Rape? Doesn’t matter. Incest? Doesn’t matter. Having the child might kill you? Well, at least the kid will probably have a father. You aren’t ready for a child, and have no faith in the adoption system? No worries, babies are usually adopted quickly, if someone’s looking around that time. The child is dead or dying? Eh, carry it anyway — at least you won’t have to feel it kick.

I don’t know. That’s probably harsh of me, but the more I read about this shit, the more I dread the thought of being pregnant, to the point of being on the pill or carrying condoms for the sole purpose of in case of rape seems like a good idea. After all, if you do end up pregnant after being raped, well, that isn’t a good enough reason to not want to have the kid. Hell, you can’t even commit suicide over it if you’re pregnant — because that’s murder.

I don’t get it. Before birth, all a fetus is is a parasite. It sounds bad, but it’s true. We feed off of our mothers until… well, we still feed off of them, but it’s a different sort of feeding, a different sort of reliance after birth.

Look, at the core of it, I don’t inflict my religious beliefs on you. Why do you get to do that to me?

Copy Paste?

So, last Wednesday, I went to Mummy Brown paint’s presentation: Actually, why CAN’T I copy money? and it was pretty fascinating. She had used this blog to base her presentation off of, which is the link that I’m going to base this blog post of off.

While the title is Why can’t I copy money? Is that censorship?: Thoughts on framing SOPA and PIPA, there’s really not much to do with SOPA or PIPA specifically. Instead, the post talks about what is censorship and how to frame and argument and conquering the Internet frontier.

It’s interesting, the post, because it really is about how to frame an argument properly. After all, if you control how something is framed — where the boundaries are, and what the distinctions are — then you have a good bit of control over how it is defined in the end.

An interesting issue that this touches on is what is censorship? When is it a good thing, or a bad thing? What is copyright? How are the two connected?

I really liked the example of not allowing people onto your property being censorship. It’s a twist to the word that no one thinks about — the connotations of censorship have a more malevolent sort of feel. It’s sort of like the aftertaste to the word is bitter and full of vengeance. Which, yeah, the guy standing with the shotgun has the same sort of feel, but locking your gate doesn’t. Yet, censorship can apply here.

I don’t know, I thought it was cool. I like words, and phrases, and origins. (Did you know that close but no cigar comes from days where there were cigar slot machines? And if you didn’t win, well, you were “close, but no cigar?” It’s one of my favorites. Beating a dead horse is an interesting one as well, but let’s not get into that right now.)

I wish that this blog post was longer, but it’s only seven paragraphs, and not much of that is substance. It’s mostly just throwing questions out, thought it does contain a lot of links. There isn’t all that much that can be said solely about this page, except that the author has really bad grammar. (Which, yes, I know it’s rude, and that mine isn’t all that great either, but still. The way the end of this sentence is never, ever going to be anything even resembling “okay”. Just, no. That’s not where the punctuation goes. Not unless every teacher I’ve ever had was terrible. …Though, US education being what it is, that actually wouldn’t surprise me.) I do,  however, like how he used examples of framing to show what he meant. If framed right, you really can lead the conversation down whatever path you want.

It’s really quite manipulative.

Cool.

~Ekhlami

Bad Things on the Web (or Death and Facebook)

In class, we’ve been doing presentations. It’s been grand, really, because these “presentations” are done in small groups, and are much more like chats, which is great.

My presentation was on a cyber harassment case at Rutgers University. I also used this article, which I mostly only used for emphasis.

Reading the article, I was really taken aback, for several reasons. I wish we knew more about the background of Tyler Clementi, so we knew why exactly he reacted with suicide. No, I’m not one of those “suicide is never the answer!” people, because I can understand that there are some things that someone can’t get over, or through, or even under, and that picking death isn’t actually an easy choice — and actually going through with it, that’s even harder. However, being video taped secretly and having that streamed, well, that’s not exactly on my list of Things That Are Bad Enough To Commit Suicide Over (or, if wouldn’t be if I had a list, but you know what I mean).

So I looked up his background.

While the article makes it seem like he went Oh my God, he taped me, my privacy is gone, I’m going to jump — there was actually more time between Point A and Point B. Not much,  but there was enough time for the roommate to watch him a second time, and for complaints to be made.

However, what interested me most of all wasn’t the why, or the how, but rather, the suicide note.

He left a message on Facebook that said he was going to jump, sorry — and that was it. Several people thought it was a really poor joke — his father was hoping he’d been kidnapped. When they found the body a week later, though, they knew the truth.

Still, it’s interesting, isn’t it, the way our lives and even our deaths are starting to revolve around social networking sites? While this is the first time I’ve heard of Facebook-as-a-place-for-suicide-notes, I admit that it’s not the first time it’s been death related that I’ve seen. More and more, when people die, others leave notes on their Walls, or they Message them. It’s like the online version of a wake — everyone gathering on someone’s Wall and commenting on each others posts. I think it’s kind of creepy, personally. But I guess it saves on gas.

I looked into it, a bit, and found that Facebook allows the family of a deceased person to memorialize or delete profiles. It makes sense — after all, it can’t be pleasant to see your late good friend show up in your Reconnect results. In fact, I would think it’d be a little heartbreaking.

…Looking over what I’ve written, the topic seems to have gotten away from me. I meant to write about the secret taping and sharing of Tyler Clementi in a place where he should have been safe — his dorm room. I meant to write about how his roommate, the guy who taped him, tweeted about it, and how if he’d plead out, he would have gotten 600 hours of community service and some counseling. I meant to write about how a girl in their hall was part of it, and how she ended up with 300 hours of community service and three years of cyber bullying classes. That the laws about cyber bullying/harassment/stalking simply aren’t all that effective — primarily because they aren’t really there, or enforced.

I was asked a question, and though I’ll tell you my answer, feel free to answer as well.

Do you think bullying on the Internet an extension of bullying in real life, or is it a new thing?

Personally, I think it’s a bit of both. Real life and Internet life are one and the same these days. If something outside of the ‘net happens, people bring it to the ‘net — it’s impossible these days to live in only one world, unless you try really, really hard (or are Amish). So, as far as bullying is concerned, of course it’s an extension. It’s just a new place to torment other people, to gossip, to tease.

It’s also a reverse — the bullied can become the bully. This is because, unlike pre-Internet days, it’s really easy to get information about someone onto the web, or to pretend to be someone else. In fact, in a few keystrokes, you could make someone else’s life hell — something that most bullied children daydream about but are unable to do due to size or strength or self confidence issues. It’s a simple matter to get back at someone anonymously as well, something that is harder to do in the physical world.

I would, of course, like to hear (or, you know, read) your opinions on the matter. Which do you think it is? Why?

~Ekhlami

We Come in Peace, Shoot to Kill, Shoot to Kill, Men

Dear God, I want to move. I’ve been in this apartment for a year and a half, and quite frankly, I regret resigning the lease. It has been one issue after another recently, and I am so, so sick of it, I can’t even tell you.

My apologies: this is going to be one of those blog posts that is pretty much a rant. I just need to get my frustration out somehow, and the party concerned (my landlord) isn’t really someone I can yell at.

See, it began with the ceiling. I looked up one day to realize that there was mold and water damage, and so I send my landlord an e-mail.

No reply.

Some time later, there was an issue with the shower, so I called about it — and while I was at it, I mentioned the ceiling again. They asked for photos, so I took some, and then I tried to send them.

Tried. It bounced back. So I tried again, and again, and then gave up and made tea.

The next day, though, they sent someone to check it out, and as I wasn’t home, asked my flatmate to have me call them. So I did.

The phone rang and rang and rang.

So I sent them an e-mail — and it bounced back, just like the others.

I thought to myself, well then, I’ll just call them tomorrow. Again, no response.

I still haven’t heard from them on the topic.

However, two days ago, the toilet clogged, and nothing we did fixed it. Oh, joy. So, we called yesterday and they said they’d stop by.

Today, I got a lovely e-mail. Here’s a bit:

Yesterday we confirmed with your roommate that the actual problem is not the pipes as

you said but toilet drainage, the water goes very slowly. (It should be noted that

the only time I’ve mentioned pipes to them, it was with regard to my ceiling, as I think there’s

some sort of issue with the pipes, because I’m not on the top floor, and I don’t see

how else water damage could possibly occur on the ceiling.)

After our maintenance checked yesterday we concluded the following : the problem is

most likely by you because probably you throw something in the toilet other than toilet

paper , this clogging is caused by your negligence. (It should be noted: this

occured once, it was a cockroach, and it was in December of 2010, so it is,

in all likelyhood, probably not the cause of this particular trouble.)

Then there was general bitchiness about payment. According to them, they sent be a bill for the last problem (the shower), but I never received it. I’ve checked. Either they never sent it to me, or they e-mailed the wrong address. I had thought that that bill had been paid already — that the flatmate of mine who was home at the time of that fixing had paid it and just not mentioned it (she had offered to pay the bill in its entirety) because it had been taken care of. Apparently, this was not actually the case.

So, after receiving this e-mail, I thought I should call them. You know, try to straighten out any misunderstandings, and figure out where the first bill went, because honestly? I’m so, so not comfortable with the fact that they might have been sending out my information to someone else. Because, no. That’s just not good on so many levels.

The phone rang, and then it was picked up. Of course, the woman didn’t speak English, so she passed me on to someone else. I was looking for the woman who we’re supposed to go through, but I guess she wasn’t there. The next person I spoke to told me she’d call me back — and then hung up on me. Without taking my name, my phone number, or my reason for calling.

I can’t help but feel like something isn’t right here. It doesn’t help that the e-mail ends with a threat to kick us out. It worries me, more than a bit, but I don’t know what I can do about it. I honestly don’t feel like I’m in the wrong here — not for not paying a bill that I never got in the first place, or for asking about the ceiling (“Japan is a special country. You have to keep the windows open or the condensation will cause mold.” …No. No, I’m pretty sure that condensation doesn’t cause damage to this extent.), or for getting help when things don’t work — particularly not when we can’t fix them after we try.

So, I don’t know. I’m terrified that they will kick us out, but also, I can’t wait for the day when I don’t have to deal with this stuff anymore. I’d like to think they’re the exception, not the rule. And if that isn’t true?

Well, shit. I guess I better prepare to buy a house.

~Ekhlami

Future Trip

Today’s Daily Create is actually something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. I’m two and a half terms away from graduating with my Bachelors, and I’m starting to grow concerned about what happens next.

No lie, I was talking to my mother about this just the other day. She told me to stop “future tripping” and set goals for myself instead. I’m pretty sure she meant “instead of deciding what you’ll do next, think about who you want to be” or something like that. (It seems mom-ish, right?) Sometimes, though, it’s hard to tell, so I might be wrong.

So, please understand, this was actually incredibly difficult for me. What do I aspire to be? How do I aspire to be? What the heck do I want to do with my life?

Mom says no one has the answers at twenty-two. My cousins did, for awhile — but they’ve all changed their minds. I’m starting to believe her, now. I didn’t when they were all so sure that they knew what their futures held, when we were eighteen and I was the only one without a plan. Moms are like that, though — always right when you least expect it.

Here I am, twenty-two years old. I don’t know who I aspire to be — at least I can’t think of a way to put it into images. I aspire to be intelligent, a good person — and most importantly, capable. But what does that translate to? What do I associate with these things? Do other people make the same associations? Will I get my point across?

I guess it’s pretty hard to miss by now, but I’m adopted. Still, I love my parents, and I do try to be part of my extended family, for what good it does me. I found out when I was sixteen, when my cousin joined the Navy (somehow I missed it when his brother joined the Army), that we were a bit of a military family.

I had know, of course, that Dad was in the Army when he was younger, and I knew my cousin was in the Army as well, with his brother joining the Navy. I then found out that Dad’s dad was also in the Navy, my uncle in the Army, and extended family who I don’t know well had been in either one or the other.

None of them were girls, to the best of my knowledge, but hell. It feels a bit like tradition.

When I was sixteen, I wanted to join the Army like my dad. When I was eighteen, I wanted to join the Air Force. When I was seventeen, my mother told me I was going to go to college in Missouri, and like I have since I was fourteen, I did what I was told.

When I was twelve, I looked myself in the mirror and decided I wanted to be a psychiatrist.

At twenty, I began to consider going to law school.

I’m afraid that if I join the military, I’ll break my mother’s heart, and my family has enough to deal with right now. Maybe things will change before December, when I do have to officially make my choice, but maybe not. My dad’s family would approve, I think — but I don’t owe them anything, and I’ve long since given up caring about their opinions of me. With one exception: the cousin who joined the Navy. I hope he’d be proud of me, but due to the reduction in forces, his contract isn’t being resigned, so who knows. He might hate me for it.

I have family on my mom’s side who are lawyers, and they’d be thrilled if I went down that road, I’m sure. I think it would be fun. I’m tempted to take the LSATs, even if I don’t apply for law school.

As for psychiatry… I’m not sure I want to go through medical school. I’m awful at Chemistry, and, well… Yes.

For now, I’m going to graduate, go home, and see my family. I’m going to get a part-time job and study for whatever test I’m taking (LSATs for law school, GRE for medical school, or the AFOQT for the Air Force). I’ll likely take the AFOQT and go from there. I’m sure Mom’ll forgive me someday, if I make it. I might not. And that would be okay too, I think, though right now I’m rather set on it.

But back to the Daily Create. I’ve been considering as I’ve been writing this post, and I think only one thing will fit the bill.

There may be many things that I want to do, or that I want to be. But at the end, there’s really only one thing I hope for, above all else.

Happiness is a Good Book

I want to be happy. And for me, right now at least, happiness is a good book.

~Ekhlami

Friday’s Child

It seems like every time I turn around, someone is either pregnant, or getting married — or getting married and getting pregnant, or getting pregnant and getting married.  Most are my age, or younger, which, as I am only twenty-two, kind of bothers me.

My roommate says it’s only to be expected — something about when girls don’t know what to do with themselves, they think with their womb. Something about children giving them purpose.

But still.

In some cases, they are accidents — there have been a lot of birth control recalls recently, and a few people I know were on those medications, but oops! it was recalled to late for them.

It’s none of my business, really, and I’d never mention it to any of them, but still. I don’t get it.

Tonight, a woman I know (who is 35ish, I think) told me she was pregnant. She was so excited! After we gushed for a bit (because I’m still a girl and she was so thrilled), I thought to myself finally, someone I know who is getting ready to have a child who is prepared for it. Because, let’s face it, the kids my age are all Oh God! What do I do what do I do what do I do I don’t have money for this!, but she told me all about how she’d been saving so that there would be money for this child, about how she’d looked up tuition costs and medical bills and the like. While she won’t be prepared for everything (how many of us broke bones, or got hurt, or otherwise had surprise bills waiting for our parents?), she definitely planned for this child in a way that no one else was able to do.

In any case, I was glad for her, and I just thought of all the other girls I knew who were starting families and how frazzled/worried/devastated they are. Of course, they are excited too, but most of them are giving up a lot — two have dropped out of college, and another has moved back home, something she swore she’d never do, but can’t afford to live on her own and keep her child fed.

There isn’t much else to say. I hope motherhood agrees with them all, and that they and their children (and husbands/boyfriends/what have you) stay safe and well.

~Ekhlami

Every Moment Counts

In one moment, everything can change. Someone is born, someone dies. Someone gets hurt, or upset, or overjoyed. A family can be destroyed.

A family can begin.

Today’s Daily Create was to create a photo that represents the happiest or most memorable moment of my life. I chose to reinterpret that. Instead of doing the most memorable, I’m doing the moment that literally changed my life.

Allow me to explain, before I post the picture.

My name has not always been Alison. Indeed, when I was little, my name was Alice. But I wasn’t wanted. Or perhaps I couldn’t be wanted. I don’t know. I’ve never met the woman. I don’t ever need to, either, unlike other people in my position.

When I was a little over a year old, I met these two adults who would change my life. I didn’t know it then, of course, and I certainly don’t remember it — I was too young. But that moment is the most important one to me — closely followed by the one where they decided to keep me. If it weren’t for these moments, I would in the most literal sense not be who I am today. I’d be Alice, with a different personality, living in a different country. Let’s face it — if I didn’t have my parents, I wouldn’t have been able to do a lot of what I’ve done. I owe them everything, though I know they’d say I owe them nothing.

After all, what is family for?

Alice

This is Alice, the day she met her parents.

(Of course, I played with the picture — it isn’t actually black and white with a postage stamp border. In case you were wondering. Also, I’m not apologizing for the picture quality this time — I like it just the way it is.)

Have a wonderful day.

~Ekhlami

Valentine’s Day

Oh, Valentine’s Day. It isn’t my favorite holiday — but at least back in the States, there are all of the half-off candy sales on February 15th.

Here, though, in Japan, it is entirely different. Or at least it feels that way.

Back home, I can ignore the custom completely. Unfortunately, I feel almost obligated to go along with it, and make chocolates for my friends. (Which is more difficult that it looks — I somehow successfully just burned mine. And melted the spatula. So I’ll have to buy a new one.) It would be fine, except I ended up making more friends than I expected, and now I have way too many people to make chocolates for.

Well, at least it’s fun, right?

So here’s to hoping that it all goes well, and that I don’t burn any more.

Chocolates

Chocolates, by J. Paxon Reyes

Have a good night!

~Ekhlami

It’s Worse Than That He’s Dead

At the end of the day, family is family, right? And you love your family, and they love you, and death is the saddest thing in the world, because you’re losing someone you love.

Wait, wait — let’s back up. There’s no sense starting in the middle like this. But where is the beginning?

I could tell you all some sob story, about my extended family and how we don’t have the closest of ties. I could tell you how they don’t care much for me or my brother, and I could tell you why. I could provide all sorts of evidence showing their disdain (or at the least, lack of care) for us, from both sides. I could tell you about how we “aren’t really family” — but at the end of the day, there isn’t much point in these tales except to depress people. So this is not that story.

I’m sure you’re wondering, why is it “worse than that he’s dead?” And who, exactly, is “he?”

My family, my immediate family, is made up of my mom, dad, and younger brother (who is about to have a birthday, and this makes me feel old, but that is not this story either). My dad has three siblings: an older brother, an older sister, and a younger sister. He has two currently living, still married, parents: a father and a mother. His older brother has no children, his older sister has three children (two boys and a girl), and his younger sister has one child (a boy). My mom has one living parent, her mother, and four siblings: an older brother, two younger sisters, and a younger brother, each of them with two biological children (all girls, except for her older brother’s first child), and one has a stepson.

None of that is important, really, at the moment — except for the part where my dad has two “currently living” parents. You see, the “he” in question is my dad’s father.

And he’s dying.

This is no surprise, of course — he’s been dying for months. He’s also in his early eighties, so it’s not as though he’s dying terribly young. He’s not even young-ish. So, really, it’s not unexpected.

So why is it “worse than that he’s dead?” Well, the answer to that makes me seem rather cold, but the thing is — that’s not the part I care about. It’s the dying that’s bothering me — primarily because the entire thing is upsetting my own dad, which is perfectly reasonable. But I can’t help, here, so far away from home. All I can do is call every few days and talk about inane things, comparatively, like school, or what I bought from the store today, or the price of fruit here and how I hope I don’t get scurvy.  There are other things going on at home that we talk about, of course — something occurred last Thursday, which was great fun to deal with, let me tell you — but there’s this undercurrent of sadness that I can’t help with, and that makes me feel like a terrible daughter.

The thing is, though, he’s going to die soon. This week, maybe, or the next — most likely sometime this month, judging by the events of this weekend (Sunday, apparently, was a terrible day). And when he dies, the grieving process can start. But now, we’re stuck in limbo, with a half-dead man who is no longer mentally sound, his wife who is cleaning because she has no idea what to do, and their son, my father, who is the one they keep turning to because he’s the most stable of their four children. It’s killing him, having to watch this, having to make decisions regarding his father’s medical needs because neither of his parents can/will make them, and someone has to.

I know that, no matter what, things are going to change. I don’t know how, but it will really hurt my dad when his father dies. I don’t know if this means my family will actually spend time with them for a change (we just do holidays, really), or what, but this is going to break Dad’s heart.

If nothing else, though, I hope Dad remembers that his father is a part of our lives in a rather important way. In 1964, Dad’s father built the house Dad owns now, that my brother wants to buy someday. In that sense, his father will never be gone.

Pakik (Lost)

Today’s Daily Create was to take a picture of a place in your home where you lose things. As it happens, I was tempted to just take a picture of the apartment door, being as the entire place manages to take my things. I was also tempted to take a picture of my bedroom door, for the same reason. (Not, however, the room itself — it’s a bit too much of a mess. This could, perhaps, be why I lose things there, but let’s nevermind that, alright? Thank you.)

In the end, after much serious contemplation, I opted to take this image.

12-02-08_001

Here is a link back to the site I uploaded on.

Yes, this is my washing machine. Yes, it does eat my socks — how did you guess? I felt it was only right. After all, it seems that no matter what washer I find myself using, inevitably, something goes missing — usually a sock, however, this is not always the case. I am still seriously miffed about the time I washed my Jack Skellington sweatshirt and it didn’t reappear from the dryer. That… was not a good day.

Still, not much I can do about it now, I suppose — this was back in high school.

…Suddenly, I feel very old. How odd. >.<

…It occurs to me, all of a sudden, that yesterday’s Daily Create was about laundry as well. I’d better change it up tomorrow — I would hate to feel predictable.

All the best,

~Ekhlami