Monday, March 9, 2009

Body Modification

I had to write a paper for my Woman's Studies class called a Liberating Act. Basically you do something outside of society's comfort zone and then you analyze what you've learned and how people react. I wrote mine about my body modifications. It's nothing too special but I thought I'd share to get back into the swing of things, maybe start posting more.

Body modification has been an accepted practice in human history since the dawn of time. Different kinds of changes to the body are more widely acceptable in America than others. I have always wanted to modify my body, not with surgery, but with piercings and ink. Unfortunately, people who make those steps to change their bodies are portrayed in a certain light. At first only men from the army had tattoos, then it was greasers who were up to no good, then hoodlums and now rock and roll kids with no morals. So when I got my piercings, when I got my tattoo, I made a point to see if I would really be treated differently. I decided to compare my treatment from my teachers, my friends and store owners. I assumed in today’s society, with all of the problems going on in the world, a few piercings wouldn’t make anyone look twice. With the kind of things people were getting done today, like splitting their tongues in half, I believed that I would see little to no difference in the way people treated me before this.

Originally, I had long blonde hair and I wore fairly innocuous clothing; T-shirts and jeans, maybe a dress every once in a while. I was an average high school girl. When I moved to college, I flourished under the liberation of freedom and started to act out and do whatever I could to completely change myself from the girl I was before. I dyed my hair red, cut it short and started to wear more provocative clothing. I had always wanted to do more intense body modification, but something always held me back. This semester, I finally decided to go for it, to let any worries or fears stay behind and simply go for it. My boyfriend took me to a tattoo shop and I pierced my nose, I got my first tattoo, all the while I was gauging my ears up to a 6. My roommate teased me and said that I was having a midlife crisis, and maybe I was. I found that making these changes, some of them permanent, to my body was a powerful sign that I had ownership over my body.

My aunt, who is my legal guardian, was horrified. Every night I would get a call and she would lecture me about my appearance. She would tell me how important it was to present myself as a young professional and that with my appearance such that it was, no one would take me seriously. I would have no respect. What she failed to realize, was that the college campus is a bastion of liberalness, this is where students are supposed to find out who they are and what they want. The most surprising difference in treatment was from my teachers, but not in the way my aunt assumed it would be. Before, teachers didn’t quite notice me, with a ring hanging from my nose and giant holes in my ears, I kind of stood out. I found that my professors were slightly more interested in me. They seemed to listen to my opinions more raptly, they called on me more often and if I made a mistake they were more apt to overlook it. After class I would find myself staying behind and talking with a few of them, exchanging opinions on different subjects. At first I was quick to attribute my new found friendship with professors on my appearance change, but I realized soon it had nothing to do with that at all. These modifications gave me more presence because I became more comfortable with who I was as a person. By finding out one of my passions in life, I grew more confident and sure of whom I was which attracted respect from professors. I believe they have more respect for people who assert their opinions in class rather than quietly finish all of their work.

The change in my friends was actually, also a positive one. They would ask me questions; ask if it was ok to touch my gauges. This positivity, I believe, was much shallower though. They had always known the loud, vivacious me, so my personality had not changed at all. They were more of the opinion that my piercings were “cool” and that my tattoo was “bad-ass”. Always the first question out of their mouths was “how bad did it hurt?”. Of course, when I told them that the tattoo actually felt good to me, they were ecstatic, able to put me in this certain category. I went from the sarcastic girl in my group to the hardcore bitch in my group. Whereas before if someone was rude or mean to me, I would crush them with my acerbic wit, now I would simply crush them with my fists, according to them. My modifications were clearly a sign that I had engaged in numerous fist fights in my life. While it was certainly pleasant to have the air of being a badass around my name, it wasn’t who I was. I was still the same person, just modified. I found it to simply be a sign of how people in my age group want to stick everyone in a certain category.

Store owners would greet me warmly and welcome me into their store, paying me no mind until I checked out, beforehand. Now when I go into a store, I am experiencing something I have only heard about for the first time in my life. The managers of several different stores either followed me themselves or had employees follow me around. As a white woman, I have the privilege of other white people assuming I would never do such a thing. Once that privilege was taken away, I realized how infuriating it is to not be trusted when you have every intention of buying something. The disrespect is astonishing. It is amazing how such slight differences in your appearance make someone think the complete opposite of you all together. I believe though, that the modifications brought more attention to my age. America does not yet have a society in which tattooed and pierced adults are common. Perhaps I was only encouraging ageism in the store owners.

All in all, my liberating act helped me find out who I am as a person. It encouraged me to simply go forward and do the things I want to do. The most liberating part of body modification in my eyes, is having such extreme control over your body. I found that the majority of people in my life had a positive reaction to it. Those that had a negative reaction were those that didn’t know me at all. Stereotypes, I find with this exercise, are alive and well. Meaning, people still force others into them but the people being placed into the stereotype do not fit completely, in all actuality. To a certain extent I do, my appearance, my love for hard rock, my unhealthy habits, but I love reading philosophy and I secretly enjoy listening to N’Sync every once and a while. I enjoyed this project immensely and it will definitely help me keep other people in perspective instead of instantly pushing them into a stereotype and dismissing them.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pessimism, enemy number one.

I am currently enrolled in a modern political theory class and so far it has been fascinating. The professor has been focusing on classic theorists and applying their teachings to today's current political situation. Thus far we have studied Machiavelli, who is a genius through and through. Recently he had us watch the classic film "The man who shot Liberty Valance." starring John Wayne and James Stuart. It deals with many important issues, among them being how a town or a state should be run. The two opposing views clash throughout the film, Wayne advocating an anarchy of sorts, a man who solves his own problems and then there is Stuart who is a man of law and order and government. The beautiful thing about the film is that it isn't overbearing and overplayed, the way they advocate their beliefs isn't on the surface, you have to look and really analyze the film to understand the two.

The bit that I focused on, was not the main story line, as fascinating as it was. There was something else at play, the subject of proper journalism. There are two different journalists in the film. The one in the beginning, Maxwell Scott, and the one in the past, Dutton Peabody. The two are exactly opposite when it comes to journalistic integrity.

Peabody can be characterized as not only the sole Newspaper man in the entire town, but also the town drunk. The audience grows fond of his wit and antics throughout the movie. It is clear that Peabody is a raging alcoholic, so much so that when the bar is closed during elections, he nearly has a panic attack. Despite all of this, when it comes to the news, he is a devout and honorable man. He is the only one brave enough to speak up against Liberty Valance. John Wayne waves his gun about threateningly, Stuart speaks of the law and persecuting him, but it is Peabody who writes the truth about Valance, knowing full well it could get him killed. Peabody is constantly scavenging town, searching for a story, trying to find the truth. When nominated for office, Peabody has no desire to take up such a post because of his desire to stay completely committed to keeping politicians on their toes. He speaks out in protest upon the nomination and says,

"Good people of Shinbone; I, I'm your conscience, I'm the small voice that thunders in the night, I'm your watchdog who howls against the wolves, I, I'm your father confessor!"

This is the kind of journalist I want to be. One who shuns any opportunities that involve putting down the pen and picking up the mask. He is brilliant, a drunken mad man, but brilliant.

Maxell on the other hand, embodies all that I loathe in journalism. He is rude, pushy and self absorbed. He uses the readers as an excuse to act like an ass. When Stuart is sitting in the funeral home, observing the coffin, Maxwell enters and shouts that he needs a story, that the people have a right to know. He interrupts the moment of grievance for his precious story and then once he gets it, he hides the truth and throws it away. Maxwell is the character who famously said

"No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

He hides the real story in order to protect the people in ignorance, to keep the idyllic form of life that everyone is so used to. What Maxwell did was decide that he knew what was best for everyone else. It is not a journalist's place to make such judgments. When it comes down to it, a journalist needs to be ferocious and stop at nothing to get the story, but when he gets it he needs to type it up in an unbiased fashion and put it to print. No one needs to hear his opinion, if he wants to share his opinion, he can do that on his own time. Stories printed in a paper are supposed to be factual. There is no need for flowery language and grand assumptions on the writer's part. Maxwell had an obligation to print that story. He had no place to cover it up, the fact that Stuart was telling him at all was fascinating, if a Senator gives away such a massive tale, you type it up and distribute it to the people! Especially if it redeems a man who was so wronged and so overlooked by history, a man worthy of praise and honor.

I currently can't help but find myself in a state of pessimism though, these Maxwells of journalism seem to be the only journalists out there, or they are at least the majority. How in the world am I supposed to change anything when I am so outnumbered? What can I possibly do in the face of such odds? All I can do is try, all I can do is actually care, unlike most of my colleagues. I'm just going to jump and hope at some point during the fall, I'll evolve and grow wings.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What the fuck was I thinking?

Truth tends to be a pesky noun. Often times in life you will find that people claim that they are the advocates of truth, but more often than not they are actually the people that fear it the most. I tend to be one of those hypocrites. Constantly I search for what is true or real in life, but when it comes down to looking inside of myself and dealing with the ugly truth that directly effects me, that's a completely different story.

I enjoy criticism, I thrill in knowing what people really think of me, but if it has to do with a character flaw I am loathe to realize it. Mainly because of my personality, once I see a problem I have to fix it, I won't rest until I find a solution. So as a result I will stew and focus on nothing but this sliver of truth until it drives me absolutely mad.

I have an immense amount of respect for those who can self evaluate with little fear, who can admit when they are wrong and be happy with themselves. If I see in myself a single flaw that is my fault, I can't forgive that single weakness. I'll beat up on myself until I feel that I've thrashed my dying inner child into submission. I've discovered a new chink in my armor today, one that I've known about all along, but I finally got a really good look at it.

I have this marvelous ability to attract or be attracted to dysfunctionality. I find it in people, I find it in work, I find it in myself. I am fascinated by notoriously damaged people, like the writers and journalists that are depicted as being rather insane self medicaters. Their lives are tragic, because despite their brilliance in so many areas they still have no insight or control in their own existances. There is something so raw and real about that, so ironic... I feel that I went from someone who has had her head on her shoulders to this (as a friend coined) burning ball of fuck. Slowly I've been morphing myself into the cliche.

Perhaps the fact that I am aware of all of this is the most worrying piece of the puzzle. I see myself heading in a poor direction, and like some freak who gets off on desctruction I am bighting my lip and clenching my fists with a feeling of elation in my soul all the while.

It is also quite possible this is all in my head, that I am full of shit.

Ah well..

This was all brought on when a good friend revealed the true motives of a mutual acquaintence. It was just further proof that I have impossible expectations. I go for the wrong thing, always.

I think my own issues can be linked to the American society at large. Perhaps as a nation we are all masochists. We all secretly want to see the world burn but have to keep our faces clear and bright and filled with hope. I've been reading Machiavelli, and his works point out one clear fact about humans. You must not assume that all people are evil, but the evil they are capable of. If we are not looking to put ourselves into ruin, just for that one aggrandizing and glorious moment where we can pull ourselves out of the wreckage and receive praise for our strength of will, then we are sadists. We want to see others hurt so that we can remind ourselves of our humanity. If no one was ever hurt or no one ever tried to hurt another, then we would never have the chance to show everyone how thoughtful and caring we are. It is all a grand show we put on for other people, Social Sadism and Masochism are the giant pink elephants in every home. We all know that they are there, but we continue to watch the news and hope for something catastrophic.

So perhaps I am not so strange, perhaps I am just like everyone else after all.

Then again, I find that very unlikely.

Friday, August 15, 2008


This will be a very short entry.

I've made a lot of mistakes in life, I'm not ignorant of that fact. But it's time to change. It's time to create a better version of myself.

Step 1 = Stop drinking alone

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Story of my life...

While we're on the relationship theme of the day... Ludo has a fantastic song out called Love Me Dead. It describes, first of all, how horrible a partner can be, but still you have this inexplicable desire to stay with them. Second of all, it details just how evil a woman can be! Which I always appreciate.

Not that I've ever been a bad girl.

To hell with sleep!

Get used to me bitching about my horrific sleep schedule.

I was a good girl, went to bed at 2 am, now it's 5:30 and I'm not even tired. Sweet Jesus.

Anyway, the past couple of days have been interesting for me. I haven't had a drink in about 5 days, which is good for me. But the rum is sitting in my freezer and the coke in the refrigerator and they are both singing a downright gorgeous song. They say you're supposed to wait till past noon to drink, but if you haven't gone to sleep yet does that still count? I remember going to work wasted, that was fun. Especially when it's a job that involves reading small numbers on the spines of books.

Well, after a few moments talking to my ex, I hit up the rum. God I'm hopeless. It's just better for me to drink than think about my problems at the moment. That sounds fairly dumb I'm sure, but I'm going to be seeing my therapist in about a week so I need to start the crazy so I have something to talk to her about. Thankfully, the more he spoke the more pathetic I realized my early morning drinking really was and It is now sitting on my desk, untouched. The desire to drink left as soon as I exited out of the chat window, incredible.

I've discovered a song that may very well be a new favorite:

Charlotte Sometimes - Sweet Valium High

You can have me dye my pale skin
You can beat me, I'll love you while I bruise
You can take me, drug my chapped lips
You can hurt me, I'll love you while I trip

But do you think of her - hands on my waist?
And do you think of me when she screams your name?

Don't want you to drug me up, it all just hurts too much
Don't want you to drug me up, your torture was meant to be love

Do you want it?
'Cause when you fuck me
You are loving me and I am owning you

Do you hate me?
Want to teach me that my place with you
Is lying on my knees?

But do you think of her - hands on my waist?
And do you think of me when she screams your name?

Don't want you to drug me up, it all just hurts too much
Don't want you to drug me up, your torture was meant to be love

We can have a pretty house
We can have a pretty car
We can have pretty things
I know that's what you are

The song makes me think of relationships, or rather the ideal of a relationship. Many people want the fairy tale ending, the house and kids and money. That has never really appealed to me at all. I want to live my life in a crazy way to the very end. The song reminds me of many relationships or affairs that I've been a part of. I find that the excitement behind new relationships is quite like a drug and I treat every man I date like a super hero. I try to make the first months like a movie, action packed with him coming out the victor. Just have fun. But afterwords I get bored because the guy changes. He goes from being a fun loving renegade such as myself and turns into this person who desires a long term relationship, serious commitment. Maybe I would be able to do that if I knew it would be fun, but I've never had a good time while trying to be in a serious relationship.

My question is this: why is society so hell bent on the perfect relationship? We have so much media based on women and men pursuing happiness, and happiness always equals marriage, children and a massive estate. Even shows like Sex and the City that seemingly encourage independence and strong female characters, tried to tie up the ending by neatly marrying off three out of four of the characters. The fourth, Samantha, is a character that is more or less there for comic relief, no one views her character with equal seriousness as the others. So when she fails to get married, the writers keep a wild card and the audience gets to chuckle.

I just wish that I could say I think marriage and commitment and love lasting forever are bullshit and not have everyone flip out or look at me like I have a third eye. Love certainly exists, but I'm not so sure about the whole "soul mate" thing. Do you understand how many men I've been with that have told me I am their soul mate? Yeah, oook.

I think we should let go of the preconceived notions of what happiness is and embrace whatever makes us happy in our hearts. To hell with what everyone else says, I enjoy a good one night stand, but I refuse to think it makes me a whore. I am not going to restrict myself just because it makes someone else frown.

And you shouldn't either.

Friday, August 1, 2008

After this post, I'll definitely be black listed.

So, is it frightening that I agree with the theology behind the Joker's rampage on Gotham? He hates order, he adores chaos. He did what he did in order to point out to people that they need to let go of the OCD style of order they desire in their government. Naturally the violence he perpetrated was not palatable, but it certainly got their attention didn't it? Sometimes the only way people will listen or come together is when something is taken from them. I wish words had as much power as action. Not to worry, I won't be killing massive amounts of people anytime soon.

If the government hasn't put me on their list of "people to watch" yet, I'm pretty sure this'll do it....

Eh well, what doesn't kill you makes you stranger.