29 September 2009


i want
whatever that means.
there is no third person.

26 September 2009

i spoke too soon!

i feel like it would be a waste of bandwidth to write another lengthy post about this, but last night's clash between protestors and police was possibly even worse than thursday's. over 100 people were arrested, many of whom were just there to see what was going on. police outnumbered the peacefully gathered people they decided were in a public park unlawfully. university dormitories were tear gassed, and the intentionality of that doesn't matter. students were told to "go home," but then the entrances to dorms were blocked. riot police chased students into the lobbies of their dorms, accusing them of not dispersing when the ones in the lobbies were (i think obviously) trying to do just that.

THIS IS HAPPENING IN AMERICA. the mainstream media is nowhere: any reports that mention it are brief and incomplete (c.f. the New York Times). even local pittsburgh media were not at the scene. police are endangering, not protecting, American citizens, and American citizens don't get to hear about it.

you should all read what my friend Alex wrote about this. he's more articulate than i am when he's pissed off. (also, it's his birthday today!)

EDIT: immediately after i posted this, commentary from the ACLU was brought to my attention.

25 September 2009

What the G20 Really Did for Pittsburgh

When the government geniuses who plan these things announced a few months ago that the present G20 summit would be held in Pittsburgh, PA, they created a buzz about all the benefits this would bring to our city. Foreign dignitaries and media representatives from all over the world. International attention on our remarkably stable economy and success in the realms of education, medicine, and technology. Perks for local business-owners who would be serving the delegations and media reps. And, perhaps most importantly, a re-imaging from a dead steel town to a thriving, green metropolis.

Then came the months of planning, or, as far as most of us were concerned, months of waiting. Details of what roads would be closed, what transit routes rearranged, what classes would be cancelled didn't come until this week for most of us. It seems the best security plan local, state, and federal officials could come up with was, "Don't let the people know what's going on until the very last minute." And yet, they kept telling us, "Be prepared." How can we be prepared if we don't know what we're preparing for?

Then came the police. On Wednesday, the day before all these supposed dignitaries and media personnel were to arrive, security forces from god-only-knows how many different levels and jurisdictions swarmed the city. They were wandering around Pitt's campus, I guess trying to get a feel for the layout, looking like they were waiting for something. Three lanes of Fifth Avenue, a main road through Oakland, were closed for two blocks, full of buses waiting to transport police and other officials. Police cars and motorcycles were everywhere, going through any intersection they felt like because they had sirens and obviously needed to be somewhere more urgently than the rest of us.

Thursday morning, I went to class at 8:00. Campus was dead. I saw more police than students. A bus stop that's usually full of people was completely empty. For three days there have been firefighters sitting in lawn chairs in front of their trucks on sidestreets, just waiting for something to happen. I haven't been Downtown, but from what I heard and saw, most businesses were closed and boarded up. Employees couldn't get to work anyway, because of secured zones and mass transit disruptions. All the regular people of Pittsburgh closed up shop and stayed home, or left town completely.

One of the most powerful images I've seen from this week was a picture of a shop window Downtown, boarded up with a plank that read, in black spraypaint, "PLEASE DON'T SMASH OUR WINDOW. WE CAN'T AFFORD IT." If that doesn't speak to the true nature of Pittsburgh's economic and social situation, I don't know what does.

I went to visit a friend on Thursday night who lives at a corner where a security checkpoint was set up to enter Schenley Park, where the Obamas were hosting a dinner at Phipps Conservatory for the dignitaries and their spouses (and no, i won't say "wives" like every goddamn news source). It looked like trying to navigate a war zone: there were concrete barriers and ten-foot-high fences set up across the entire road, police and military personnel milling around for blocks. We sat on the porch and I couldn't tell if we were on the right side.

Then there were the riots. I'm not interested in the illegal march from Lawrenceville to Downtown that got broken up Thursday afternoon, but the situation in Oakland on Thursday night was absolutely ridiculous. From what I've been able to gather--keep in mind, I was stuck on the other side of Oakland last night when this broke out--it started with a small group of protestors gathering peacefully near Schenley Park. Since this was happening on a college campus, it drew out the college students, who naturally wanted to see what was going on. There were only about 300 protestors, but they were joined by about 1000 student spectators. Then the police decided there were too many people and started trying to break them up. Most of the kids who got into bad situations last night seem to have been innocent bystanders.

Riot police trying to "disperse" the crowds trapped a group of students in an outdoor stairwell, didn't let them move up or down, and threw tear gas at them. They were pleading to be let out, with one girl repeatedly yelling, "Please, I'm bleeding." They threw tear gas into a group of students watching from the balcony of their own dorm building. They told students to disperse and return home, then locked them out of their dorms.

Friday afternoon, there were riot police stationed on every corner of Forbes Avenue on campus. I've felt like I'm living in 1984 for the last three days, like I might be asked for my papers at any moment, like if I look at anyone the wrong way, rats will eat my face.

So what has the G20 really brought to Pittsburgh? Insecurity. Police brutality. Economic hardship for local business owners who must repair their broken windows after not being able to make any money for days. Frustration for residents who can't get where they're going or do what they'd normally do. Disruption to the lives and educations of countless children for whom school has been cancelled. Fear and distrust of police and military personnel. And all that international attention? It's not focused on the economic stability or the green development of Pittsburgh. All they see are boarded-up shops, deserted streets, and violence.

This is not the city I live in and love. This is a city under martial law, a police state. This is more like a war zone than a college campus. I'm sick of hearing the sirens. I'm sick of the helicopters that won't stop hovering--I'm used to helicopters, I live within walking distance of four hospitals, and these unsettle me. I'm sick of the city buses full of men with riot gear and weapons. I'm sick of feeling like I need to check the news to know that it's safe to walk outside and visit my friends. This is the United States of America, where we are told that we have the greatest freedoms of any nation on the planet. And yet, I don't even feel free to leave my apartment. I want my peaceful city back, and I want widespread admission of the reality we've created.

For some incredible photos of what it's really like to be in Pittsburgh this week, see here and here.

24 September 2009


i had every intention today of going to the gym, getting on a treadmill, and running until i had thought through pretty much everything (or the machine cut me off, whichever came first). so i tried this, once i got going, and after a few seconds of what should i think about? and the incomprehensible drivel that inevitably follows, i wound up in a rhythmic mental repetition of, my thoughts need to
S l o w
D o w n .

and so i realized: the great thing about running is, you can't think. you can't think about anything but your body: what you're doing, how you're feeling, how to keep feeling that way or change it. (perhaps this is inappropriately placed in the global second-person.) there's something reassuring about that, being forced to put one's body--and, depending on your perception, one's self--before anything else.

if i'm here in this human shell and it enables all the other things that i do, i ought to pay attention to it once in a while.

23 September 2009

stream-of-consciousness xv

so here i am with an hour or so to kill, because i woke up way earlier than i needed to, and i shouldn't go back to bed, i've already had coffee, but i don't want to read my homework. nor am i awake enough to do so yet. i'm sure there's something that needs writing--i can think of at least one thing for school, but none of that interests me. personal life is infinitely more interesting right now.

i'm dreading the G20. i just want everyone to go home. any sane resident of Pittsburgh knows that despite whatever "international attention" this may bring to the city, it's just going to be a pain in the ass for the normal people who actually live here and are just trying to go about their lives. i'm sorry, but i can't get behind the protestors because i don't believe they are going to accomplish anything except creating a huge headache for as many people as possible. that said, i also can't get behind the conference, because i don't believe it will accomplish anything either. dinner at Phipps Conservatory? yes, let's get together "important" people from all over the world and show them a bunch of pretty plants that DON'T GROW NATURALLY IN THE U.S.

maybe i'm just cranky because i'm awake.

anyway, i'm done with all non-apartment related obligations at 11:00 AM on thursday, and i've been saying only somewhat jokingly that my plan is to lock myself in. i'm sure i'll get out at least a little bit thursday and friday....i haven't decided why or how yet.

i really need groceries. i ran out of bread. that's when you know the situation is really dire. and really, it's just that i haven't had time to go to the store.
i did pick up a loaf of bread, but nothing else.

how much ethernet cable do i have, anyway? i want to move over there....

the answer is, more than enough.

and of course, none of this is the "infinitely more interesting" stuff i want to be writing about. but that's all been written in more appropriate places for the one person who needs to read it.

i can't wait until i have wednesdays off like i'm supposed to. it hasn't happened yet. graduate school, so far, appears to be an exercise in "go where they tell you to go when they tell you to go there. no questions, no complaints." there are parts of town i'd rather be headed into this morning.

i suppose i shouldn't say "that's all been written," because i'm sure there's more to it. there will always be more to it. but for now, nothing seems urgent to communicate, or to purge from my brain via pen. that happens sometimes....i can't count the number of times i've had to Write, my pen almost unable to keep up with the words flowing through it, until everything was completely exhausted--and inevitably, the last thing that comes is something i needed to get to, something i hadn't realized was so important. it's therapeutic. it really is. and i think that's what i mean when i call myself a writer. i need to do it. i would lose my mind if i didn't.

maybe that's the way we know how to label ourselves. what about you would cause you to lose your mind if you didn't have it?

17 September 2009

closing a book

it's funny when we are reminded that laughing and crying are pretty much the same thing. when you're far enough into either one, even you can't tell the difference. both are natural bodily responses to being completely emotionally overwhelmed. both can strike you when you least expect them, and at times that may seem completely inappropriate to anyone else--and even yourself. and each is incredibly necessarily once in a while.

of all people, i want to talk to the girl in my parents' bathroom mirror.

11 September 2009

magnetic poetry 10, 11

it's been well over a year since the last installment of this. how odd!

why would tuna

if together grow
my whole philosophy is
as it were shining

look at her
our almost loudful love
you delicious thing

09 September 2009

reflections on recent mental wandering

Human beings have royally fucked up life on this planet.
we can barely treat each other well, let alone every other living thing we have to share our environment with. Earth would get along perfectly well without us, and in fact, maybe it should. every major religion, and every minor one that i know of, has a flood story: humans get too numerous and too stupid for our own good, not to mention the good of everything else, and something comes along to wipe us out. except now we've gotten to the point where we even fuck up dying off: a vaccine for the swine flu? maybe that was the next thing that was supposed to come along and kill off a large number of us, but we're just too stubborn to admit that maybe we don't know best.

that said, i still believe that the world is a beautiful place, and human beings can be such a beautiful part of it. there is so much good that has come out of human creation, and i think it's so cool that humans can think and feel and do all the things we do. being born human is an incredible opportunity. but so many people have gotten careless, and they waste it, and that in turn wastes everything else. if we could only remember how to live with our world instead of in it....

04 September 2009

a few thoughts:

i think i'm aware of pretty much every muscle in my body right now. and they all feel awesome.

i find it hilariously funny when straight boys trying to pick me up--even when they see me with her--just don't get it.

grad school is going to be way different from anything else that's ever happened to me. i hope i'm ready.