28 October 2011


it's a great moment to remember exactly why some fights aren't worth picking. for instance, no matter how much i'm bothered by what's happening, i probably shouldn't tell you anything that i would expect to be kept in confidence, because i remember the way you've talked to me in the past about people who weren't present.

all life is a trust game, and sometimes it's nice to feel like you're starting to figure out the rules.


yesterday, i gave up my seat on the train to an older woman who looked like she would appreciate it, even if she was perfectly capable of standing until we reached her stop. she accepted it with grace and gratitude, and reached out for me when the train started to move again as i stood up.

later on, while i was walking with a friend, a man held the door open for us at the Chanel store, even though i was wearing a college hoodie and ratty jeans. inside, it smelled like money and stale perfume. it was the first time i've seen a price tag with four digits before the decimal point. my friend touched a few things, but i was afraid my fingers would leave smudges of the middle class on everything and i'd be scolded fiercely and told to get out by the salespeople who knew their commission didn't rest with us.

when we left, the doorman winked at me as he warmly told us to have a nice day, as if to tell me that he knows it's just nice to look at pretty things sometimes.

15 October 2011

Occupy Everywhere

15 october: the movement is global.

[quick post because i'm too tired to make the right words.]

in boston: we marched. the anti-war rally that's been planned since before the occupation began turned into a rally for the entire movement. end the war and tax the rich. support unions. education is a human right.

we stopped in front of the armed forces recruiting center, verizon wireless, bank of america. and when we returned to dewey square (the home of the occupation here), it started all over again.

what started as a student solidarity march later in the afternoon turned into a full-fledged takeover of the city's streets. we walked for two solid hours through boston, stopping traffic and calling supporters to join us from the sidewalks, the shops, and the schools. we went hoarse. the police did their best to stay ahead of us and clear our path. and when we made it back to the camp, it felt like coming home.

this is what democracy looks like.

13 October 2011

why i occupy

i occupy because i finished my master's degree almost 6 months ago and have yet to find work. 6 months is looking less and less like a long time. part of this is locational--i am assured that there are entry-level positions in my field in other places, but i've already relocated once and i can't do it again. most of my education was paid for by scholarships and grants, but i'm still thousands of dollars in debt. i know i'm not the only person from my class to face difficulty finding a job, and i know countless college graduates who can't find work and believe the only option is to put themselves further in debt to earn yet another degree.

i occupy because my partner is a transgender veteran who has no protections for job security, when he's lucky enough to be employed. he is fortunate to have healthcare through the VA. (at the moment, i only have health insurance because of the much-maligned "obamacare" bill that allows me to use my father's insurance for another 2 years.) the courts just decided that prisoners are entitled to more government-funded trans-related care than he is. he is part of a group of dedicated, patriotic americans who fought wars they didn't believe in and sacrificed their lives, their limbs, and their mental health for a fictional idea of our safety and security, who returned to the states to find no jobs and no support from the very people they set out to protect.

i occupy because my neighbors are homeless, unemployed, underemployed, and hardworking. they and their children are hungry, cold, and often untreated when they are sick. i occupy because i want to work with passionate, qualified teachers who are paid for enough time and energy to teach my eventual children about history, art, and music. i occupy because when one 40-hour work week is not enough, it doesn't make an 80-hour work week healthy. i occupy because the American Dream has turned into a nightmare, and the people who made it that way refuse to wake up.

on the 53%

this morning i woke up to suggestions on multiple social networks that i learn about the conservative response to the occupy wall street movement. the response appears to consist largely of exhortations to "stop whining" because only 53% of americans pay federal income taxes, which means those 53% must be supporting the 47% of people who can afford to go stand around and protest because they're not working hard enough to pay taxes.

i know, right?

so here are links to some of the things i have already learned this morning.
Slate.com's overview of the 53% response
an open letter to that 53% guy from the Daily Kos (which is also a terrifically well-written explanation of the occupy movement as a whole)

i'm going to state an intention to update this post with more links as i find them. but you know how things tend to work when i state an intention for this blog.

later additions:
a NY Times article from April 2010 (!) explaining this very phenomenon in great detail--and calling for increased taxes on the wealthy. noteworthy: "
at most, about 10 percent of all households pay no net federal taxes." and, "the picture starts to change when you look not just at income taxes but at all taxes. ... Add these up, and the family’s total federal tax rate was 14.2 percent."
a brief Mother Jones blog post where you can see the original 53% tumblr post and find out what 3 jobs its subject holds.
and in the interest of fairness, the actual 53% tumblr.

the more i read about this, the more i'm struck by a severe misunderstanding of what the occupy movement is all about. what the folks aligning themselves with "the 53%" fail to see is that the occupiers are protesting for them. we support the right of all americans to earn a living wage, to educate themselves and their children, and to pursue their own happiness. so many of these people are angry that they work 3 jobs so a bunch of hippies can sit on the sidewalk on wall street and complain, but they are missing some crucial facts! plenty of those "hippies" also work 3 jobs and can't pay their bills. plenty of them would gladly work 3 jobs to get closer to paying their bills--and federal income taxes--if they could find 3 people who would employ them. plenty of them are also veterans, educators, parents, union workers, and taxpayers.

last, i think: Washington Post blog on whether the occupy movement is "ironic" or "hipster." noteworthy: "
The idea that because you can afford an accordion you ought to be prohibited from complaining is ludicrous."

12 October 2011

Occupy Boston (2)

today i spent somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 hours volunteering in the food tent, chopping vegetables for a salad and washing dishes and serving anyone who asked. i wrote down my name and phone number for anyone who might happen to need ASL services, making sure to tell the Logistics folks that "i'm NOT an interpreter, but i know enough that i can help." i did get to sign with somebody today, a man who just happened to come by the food tent looking for someone. we chatted a little bit when he grabbed a meal. we visited the General Assembly for a few minutes--direct democracy is a fascinating concept, but not one in which i personally have the patience to participate right now. told a woman that she misunderstands unions if she thinks their members are billionaires, and then watched her walk away from the entire demonstration in anger that the occupants will march with the verizon union tomorrow.

when we arrived at the food tent, one of our good friends (and fellow pittsburgh ex-pat) skipped over to greet us. and then i stood with my sweetheart and fed a community we share.

we were not there on monday night when protestors and police finally clashed in boston. it was the first time anybody at this occupation was arrested. it was also the first time they tried to expand the occupation to another part of the park. of course, the police and the protestors present different sides of the story, and i can see and agree with parts of both. the important part of the story i have to tell is that we are both safe. it was quite interesting to see the police stand by and watch a group of activists teach each other how to lockpick their way out of handcuffs, though.

07 October 2011

Occupy Boston

wandered down to Occupy Boston today and collected some stories. like the homeless veteran who volunteers with the safety crew and talked to me about his experience with Pink Floyd right after Dark Side of the Moon came out (i was wearing my hoodie for exactly this purpose). and the young man with Asperger's Syndrome who came up to me in the sign-making tent and just started talking about what he's "learned from history." and the young woman who saw my "misogyny hurts your mother" sign and asked me if i'd been to a slutwalk. and the older woman who read it, looked at me with a grateful smile and touched her hand to her heart. and the men with accents different from my own who asked me what the word means. and the beautifully effective mode of communication that is a "mike check." and the way you can feel the meditation tent before you see it. and the big tent in the middle of the camp with "LOCAL IRONWORKERS 7" written on the side. and the verizon truck driver who went past with both hands pressed into his horn. and the middle-aged woman who, when asked if her dog was "a man or lady?" said, "this is Jack."

then we rode the T home and overheard a college-aged woman telling her friend that her mother is going to New York to Occupy Wall Street this weekend and invited her to join. the daughter's response was, "no way!" she then went on to say of her mother, "she's such a, like, activist." as if that were a bad thing.

i hope one day that girl understands that all of us are protesting for her right to feel like she doesn't need to.