Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Million. That's a lot.

This afternoon, I was set off by a thread on the ProbeTalk forums (my boyfriend drives a Ford Probe). It seems there's been another earthquake in Indonesia. I feel bad for the residents, but there's little I can do to help from here, as I have little to no money and can't get myself out there to help at the scene either.

The Indonesia incident didn't bother me. What bothered me was that while we're all focused on places overseas, there are people right here in the US that don't have adequate food, shelter or health care. I don't think the government should get so involved overseas (or even that our citizens should) when there's still so many problems right here at home. It's like outsourcing help; people in the wonderful white middle-class that makes up what they still call a majority in America don't like to bother themselves with immigrants, lower-class neighbors or the homeless vetrans who we've all heard about, so we just ignore the problem, for the most part.

Habitat for Humanity is the only organization I can think of off the top of my head that actually works within the United States extensively. The rest of the wonderful nonprofit save-the-world-one-person-at-a-time organizations are mostly focused overseas, trying to help tsunami victims and clean up South Africa while two blocks away from their headquarters in major cities, people are living under fire escapes.

This is the latest census data on poverty in the United States. I look at this and shudder. Over ten percent of our population is living below the poverty level - that's one out of ten people. That's as high as the number of gays in any given population, if I remember correctly; and it's absolutely terrifying. That we should have so many people who can't afford a loaf of bread some weeks in one of the richest countries in the world is mind-blowing.

Study that chart. Almost fifty years, and the poverty rate in this country continues to hover near the rate it was in 1959. Even with all our advances in medicine, technology, agriculture and science this society has not yet found a way to improve the condition of life for 12.5% of its population (or hadn't as of 2003). If the data hasn't shifted drastically in the past two years (which I doubt), then we're still in the same situation today. I looked up the latest population estimates for the US: Approximately 293.4 million people. Using the 2003 poverty rate (12.5%), the number of poor in America is currently around 36.7 million.

That's a lot of people. If you'd like to check my numbers, the US Census Bureau is where all my information came from.

The first tsunami killed around 225 thousand(correct me if I'm wrong). The second earthquake has killed 2-3 hundred. Starvation kills thousands every day. So why are we focused entirely on Indonesia?

Friday, March 25, 2005

A Reply...

...to a comment on Badaunt's blog:

"Anybody who’s ever seen smooshed skunks, coons, possums, dogs, cats and rabbits on the roads and expressways will realize that animals (whom I prefer to humans any day, btw) do not have enough understanding to avoid the perils of human contraptions."

And anybody who's ever seen broken bones, crushed limbs, stitches, scars, life support systems beeping away in busy hospitals and emergency rooms on a bad night will realize that humans (whom I place lower on the list than animals myself) do not have enough understanding to avoid the perils of their own contraptions and contrivances.

Just felt I had to get that out. You don't have to agree with my contemptuous view of homo sapiens, and in fact I think it's better if you don't. If everyone thought like I did the world would be a very scary place.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

May Angels Lead You In...

Grandma died this morning at about 6 am. She was my last surviving grandparent - I lost the others a long time ago (two before I was old enough to remember them at all).

I miss her a little, but I feel that we shouldn't be mourning a life of almost eighty years now ended. It was her time, and that's all. I know my parents will be mourning, but I celebrate that up until the last few weeks she wasn't in the hospital, she was laughing at Thanksgiving and sounded like she was still smiling the last time I talked to her on the phone a few weeks ago. I'm glad the last time I saw my grandmother she wasn't in the hospital and deathly ill, because now I can remember her the way she'd want to be remembered - among family and friends, the spirited woman who told me stories about learning to fly a plane and her crush on the instructor. I think if I'd been around when she was young we might have been friends. As it is, I didn't know her as well as I wanted to. But no time for regret now. She knew I loved her.

I'll probably be missing class for a few days to attend the funeral. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Fragments of thought which would have made up longer entries, had I the motivation.

I went to sleep last night with a polished piece of amethyst in my hand. It was a gift from my little sister, along with a pretty mirror-bottomed box to keep it in. Amethyst is supposed to stimulate the immune system and facilitate spiritual awareness. I was curious whether it would help me dream more vividly or remember them later. I guess not. I woke up this morning to the sound of my stupid, loud country music alarm - I keep forgetting to change the radio station. I don't remember any of my dreams, and I found the amethyst in a fold of the sheet.

Tuesdays seem to hate me. Or maybe it's mornings that hate me... at any rate, this morning certainly wasn't kind. I spilled water on a book I just bought for Core (and haven't totally read), I was almost late for all three of my classes today (and had tests in the first two), I forgot my calculator for the physics test and my good pencil for the math test, and I managed to trip over something invisible on the way to my desk in Physics. And there's a little headache randomly poking my brain and threatening to get worse, though it's been there for over an hour and done nothing extremely painful yet.
Core was canceled today. I can sleep now, I guess.. but I'll likely just read, and find something to eat, and avoid homework.

24 days of class left, according to someone's door. My calendar agrees. Holy acorns, that's nothing! I don't believe I'm this close to being done with my freshman year of college.

I have a job (of sorts). I went to the Penn writer's meeting last night and got an assignment. They pay $7.50 per published story, so if I write one a week I'll actually have an income (though it's hardly a living). And writing for a paper isn't so bad... I just hope my writing is up to par and I can sound objective enough. I think I'll turn in that application to work at the library for next fall. Maybe I'll have a shot at the job.

Grandma is dying. I don't know what else to say about that, I've repeated the story to those who really needed to be told. I probably won't get to see her, but that's all right. Dad and my sisters can bring my love with when they go see her this week.

The forget-me-nots are being pessimists. One of the four is doing rather well, while its companion which was nearly as big appears to have given up and has wilted. In the other flowerpot, the two smaller seedlings are being put through some stress - I just took the lid off their little makeshift greenhouse because they're too big for it. I hope they make it... I want to transplant them to the rock garden at home when I get back for the summer. And I really want to see them flower...

I think too much. I need to follow my heart a little more sometimes.

I'm embarking on a quest of sorts - to read at least half the books in the little tub Rick let me borrow by the end of the semester. It's going to be fun... and time-consuming. At least my homework load this semester is rather light.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Change is good... (or is it?)

I have been assigned a new child to tutor, as the other boy stopped coming and his mother has not called. The new child is in third grade, loves to draw and his favorite season is winter (he likes the snowball fights). He's of indeterminable (from my point of view) asian descent, and I believe he doesn't speak English at home much, which would account for his slurred pronunciation of a lot of words. Even so, he's really bright and reads very quickly.

When I told him that he "might be stuck with me" as his other tutor has quit the program, he was pleased and confided in me that he hadn't liked her very much. I hope he likes me better. He asked to draw a picture of me, and I let him; he produced a pretty good likeness in a few seconds. It looks like me, except for the moustache. ^_^

There was a spider in a corner of the bathroom by the door. I looked at it and it didn't move. I was glad, because otherwise I might have jumped - spiders still frighten me. Thank you, spider.

Spring is coming, slowly. I can see grass again, though I wonder if we'll have more snow and it'll be covered up before it warms up for good. I can't believe I'm nearly through my freshman year of college already. High school never went so fast.

Friday, March 11, 2005

The time of my life...

I've been bloghopping again and realized I hadn't looked at some peoples' blogs for a while. TM's latest entry was about her prom(s) and that made me think about mine. I didn't go to my junior prom. I didn't have a date, I was incredibly self-conscious about being seen in a dress, and I was sure my mother didn't have the money anyway. It was probably for the best because none of my friends went either and I didn't feel at all left out.

I did decide to go to my senior prom. I was determined to create a perfect night so that I could look back thirty years later and say 'that is the best high school memory I have' and it would be true. I looked frantically for the perfect dress - affordable for my parents because I knew they wouldn't pay $400 for my dream ballgown but one that would look dazzlingly good on me and stun all the immature boys who hadn't asked me to prom and shame them into thinking I really was pretty after all. I had a little more self-confidence at that point; I at least wanted the dress to reflect that I felt pretty. I still didn't have a date but my friends were going and surely there would be someone who would ask me to dance... except nobody did. The night wasn't so bad, except that like TM's the prom was held at a country club and the music was all the popular rap/r&b that was totally unsuited for dancing to (ever watch a girl in a full-skirted ballgown try to grind?) and gave me a headache. My hair wasn't perfect (thanks, mom, I know you tried) and no guys danced with me and I ended up feeling rather left out after all even though I went and even though I knew that if I'd stayed home I would have also felt left out. The highlight of the evening was seeing my tomboyish best friend actually wearing a dress. I'll never forget that.

I suppose the point of my tale is that running after happiness never really works. Even though TM's junior prom seems like a dream come true (and was exactly what I would have wished for) I never have found happiness when I was chasing it. It just sneaks up uncalled for and pounces gleefully at the most surprising times. I think some of the most happy memories I have are of moments I can never recreate and wasn't looking for.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


R+D says:
I got distracted and thought "Hm.. I'm going to check [your dad's] blog before I go, just to see if he posted anything"

Still Water says:
what'd he post? ;x
Still Water says:
*goes to read*

R+D says:
R+D says:
Your thoughts?
Still Water says:
Still Water says:
it just loaded..
R+D says:
R+D says:
I forgot your connection speed, sorry
R+D says:
Still Water says:
I don't know what I'm thinking, really. I'm crying. God damnit.. all I ever wanted out of Dad was his approval, and he's never given it unless I followed his rules exactly

Still Water says:
I'm trying to get things right but he's afraid to let me make mistakes
Still Water says:
It's frustrating

About a week ago Badaunt made a "Dear Dad" post. I read it, and thought that I was glad my father wasn't like that.

Yesterday was my birthday, and I saw my dad for the first time in weeks. I had no party, just invited my boyfriend and family to share dinner and cake. It was a wonderful evening, for the most part. However, my father has been growing more and more distant lately. Whenever I see him it seems he has some new comment on my behavior, or another question that I can't find the right way to answer. While I spent most of the evening enjoying the company of my boyfriend and my sisters, my father removed himself to an armchair and sat reading, occasionally trying to read something out loud to us, and giving us Looks. Anyone who's seen one knows what I mean. The eyebrow raised, "And Just What Do You Think You're Doing?" look. Then he posted something in his weblog that reminded me how much I wanted to say to him and haven't found the words for. And so this is to you, dad. Even if you never read it. Even if you don't like what I say. Even if in later years I look back and think that these were the words of a silly little girl still looking for her place in the world.

Dear Dad,
First of all let me say that I still love you. In the past few years I might have grown up a little and away a lot, but you are still my daddy. I still like to come to you with something I have made or found or done, and with that little girl innocence I like to say "Look, Daddy. Look at this" and I still love to see a smile come across your face and see that you approve. That's why it hurts when you don't.

I know I have a lot more growing up to do. There are days I still feel like I'm a five year old, unsure of the world and everything in it. There are times I realize just how little life experience I have only because I've forgotten something or done it the wrong way, and have to go back and fix it. There are still nights I cry when I don't have anyone to tell me things will be all right. But I'm nineteen now, dad. I know that I can't be childish any more. Life doesn't offer a second chance at growing up and I'm long past the stage when I can come to you and sit on your knee when I need comforting. I have to learn how to pick myself up instead of reaching for your hand, and you have to learn how to let me fall down without reaching out to catch me.

When I was very young you used to nudge me out into the world and encourage me to grow. I was intelligent and you encouraged me to be curious, I loved to read and you pushed me into bigger and harder books. Always, when I succeeded there was the smile and when I failed there were gentle words. Now that I'm older you're harder on me. I don't get that smile so much any more and when I do it seems tainted by something sad. What have I done that makes you so unhappy, dad? Have I done the wrong thing in using what you taught me?

I've grown up, I'm not a little girl any more and I am trying to learn new lessons. I need to try and fail because I realize that there are some lessons in which failure can teach more than success. You told me stories as all parents do: of past mistakes which I was not supposed to make, because you had made them already. It's my turn dad, to create stories for my children by making my own mistakes.

I know now that you don't disapprove of my boyfriend as a person. I'm sure you don't disapprove of me entirely, though sometimes I wonder whether that would change if you could see me as I really am. I know that I am strong willed and sometimes very immature, and he can be too. I realize that what you have seen from us is mostly a lot of physical contact without much other involvement. There is a lot you miss. I don't know if you see how happy I am to talk to him, even if it's just small talk about his day. I do not think you see how I worry when he does not get to my dorm on time and the weather is bad, or how gentle he is with me when he touches me or holds my hand. I know you do not hear our conversations, or my thoughts about this relationship, which rarely uncurl themselves and find their way into writing. Maybe you do not even see how much I long for the acceptance that everyone needs and how glad I am to have found it with him.

This is all very silly of me, saying that because he accepts me, this is love. I have no definition of love yet. I say I love him because that word seems to sum up the way I care for him. I do not want to see him hurt, I do not want to see him fail. I want to be there for him as support and as a friend, and maybe as a lover. I want to be proud of what he can do and make him proud by doing what I can to the best of my ability. I want to be able to come home and find him there when I have a bad day and I want to be there for him when he has one. I want to have long conversations with him about the future and the past and world politics and games and books and anything else that catches our fancy. I wanted someone to give my heart to and I believe that he can take care of it. In many ways I am a silly little girl dreaming of fairy-tale romance and I know it.

Does growing up change things so much? Do you now look to love someone so differently from that? Do you not still care for them, support them and wish to see them succeed? Do you not enjoy their presence even if words are not spoken, and delight in conversation because you might just discover something new? Do you not wish to be near the ones you love, so that you can offer a hug or a smile or a hand to hold? If you can define love and put it in a little box for me I would like you to send it to my dorm - you have the address - and please leave instructions regarding who it is to be given to and how it is allowed to be demonstrated.

We are a physical couple. I see it so much now among those I know that I have taken it as a natural thing that I should display the emotion I feel. I see nothing wrong with holding hands, or "fondling" each other's hand, as you so described it. Even I will admit that sometimes our displays of affection are inappropriate. We are children yet and we will become more respectful of others with time. You say that public physical contact shouts of relational insecurity. I can stretch my imagination and see your reason, I think. Somehow we have developed insecurities - look at me, daddy. Remember that a healthy and secure relationship first starts with the parents. Before I "loved" him, I loved you and mom. If I am insecure in a relationship, am I then to blame you? Look at my past two tries. Those failures hurt, as any failure does. Insecurities are present in any relationship. They don't always tear people apart.

You are right that I may deny any wrong in my relationship and will do so blindly, I have done it before. I expect that he would do the same thing. If I am insecure it is because I still want the promise of commitment, to be reassured. Losing someone I love frightens me like nothing else. I don't pretend to know why and I don't know if that will ever change. I think maybe one day I'll learn to let go.

“Do I want to be right? Or do I want to be happy?” I want to be happy, daddy. I want to make you happy, too... but I need to learn how to make the right choices even if it means making wrong ones first. I know that you would rather keep me safe from the pain that this world can cause, but I've endured so far and I'm all right. If sixth grade* did not cripple me noticeably, neither will this. Let me mature at my own pace now and be glad you had all this time to prepare me to leave the nest. I remember a lot of your lessons after all.

You tell me now that I need to bail out of this relationship because it will hurt me later. You say it as though you are sure that a commitment is something neither of us can make, as though we can not survive some rough conditions along the road of life. I see you now, and see that you are separated from my mother after years of marriage and wonder: if you can point out the mistakes that I make, is it because you finally noticed your own? Am I walking in your footsteps, or is my chosen path one you have not followed to see where it might lead, and one you can not guide me down?

I'm not sure if I'm saying all I wanted to say in the way I wanted to say it, dad. See, I'm trying to show you why it hurts so much when you disapprove now. I'm still that little girl on the inside. I'm also trying to describe what I think and feel and hoping that you might understand and respect that I have a mind of my own. You are the one who told me it was all right to think on my own, and now I ask that I be allowed to. I did not learn to walk without falling and I can not learn to be a mature adult without a few more spills. Just walk a little behind me daddy, and be there when I can't get up.

*Sixth grade was hell. Adolescent girls can rip each other apart and for reasons I won't bore you with, they turned on me.

For those who don't know, I really do plan to marry him, but I'm not ready for it yet and I know it. Give me four or five years to get through IUP, into grad school and find a steady job or internship. Give him that time to finish PTI, maybe go on to a higher degree and find a good job for himself. We want to spend our lives together, and we know that if we plan to have decades together after we're married, a few years of waiting should not matter.