26 April 2010

old essay from high school

December 2 was the run-off election for Georgia's senate race. That day, after polls closed at 7 PM, I stopped canvassing at 6:58 PM and was able to jump in the car (having to sit on doorhangers) and rush downtown from the suburbs to see Howard Zinn, one of my idols, speak.

Years ago, Zinn cemented my convictions of helping the people, the importance of grassroots, and community with A People’s History of the United States. I could envision no better way to top off long months of community organizing than to see this man speak. My coworkers (fellow organizers from across the nation) agreed with me and we dashed to the swanky Woodruff Arts Centre.

We were the last ten people admitted to the plush theatre for the preview screening of the documentary. My dreams were being realized, in spite of the depressing returning results of the day.

And then these dreams were challenged. Howard Zinn, who I esteemed so much, seemed to look down on the work done by Obama organizers. More than doubting the sincerity and follow-through of the then president-elect (perhaps correctly, it is true), Zinn claimed that the work done by the field team was not true community organizing, as it was too candidate-centered.

Now, I respect Howard Zinn more than I can express. However, having read Alinsky's Rules for Radicals and taking to heart the message of "think globally, act locally" I must disagree with Zinn. The only explanation I can comprehend is that Zinn is not aware of the scope that this particular brand of organizing has had over the nation and its participants. Maybe it is easy to criticize something from the comfort of a theatre with red velvet seating.

Obama's field structure was based on the concept of neighborhood volunteer teams reaching out to their communities. Organizers, under the direction of regional and state field directors, managed turf. They found volunteers and employed the snowflake model, in which everyone is dependent on each other. With things like the Story of Self (reason for personal involvement), Story of Us (community), and Story of Now (call to action), these neighbors become friends who work hard for each other.

I was a part of that. The motto of "respect, empower, include" is flawless. It was used on me by organizers, getting me to become an intern and eventually, after they were taken out of Georgia, help to run the areas they had once run. I could not let down Sonya, who lost her voice so she canvassed instead of making calls, or René, who, after two hip replacements, walked an entire packet by himself each day in the week before the election and on election day. For them, I stayed the extra hours and worked harder. After the session, my organizer friends and I spoke to Zinn. He said he respected how hard we had worked but doubted the program could continue.

Zinn was wrong. My volunteers still care, even after the election of Obama and Jim Martin’s loss. They have gotten involved in county politics, run a book drive for underprivileged kids, and taken me to dinner for my birthday. They have plans to canvass apartments twice a year to keep the lists clean and people informed. With spreadsheets, confirmation calls, and the strength of the bonds they built, I believe in them.

With nights like that night one in December, with all the people sitting around agreeing with Zinn, I can get frustrated. They were thinking about and believing in making the world a better place for everyone. Some of the people, though, would rather sit and discuss and criticize than make some phone calls from a call list with a script, making a start on fixing the life they say is wrong. I used to be one of these people, so I can sympathize to a point. But get up and take a stand. Grab a walk pack and a water bottle and have faith in something. I was apprehensive, too, but it has been more than rewarding for me. “Regular” life is boring and makes me feel guilty. Talking is not quite enough, which is why it is important to think globally, act locally.

05 August 2009

QT Drinks Now Cost $1.05

which signifies the end of my summer.

This summer has been a perfect mix of two songs:

Mstrkrft (probably too applicable)


this song, which was last summer too but now I like it more.

Hellyeah. Summer 09.

And, can't believe I forgot this.

01 June 2009

I got a tree as a grad present.

I graduated from high school last week.
(I think I should have graduated back in 2006, but who is keeping track anyway?)

Am I any different? It’s supposed to be a milestone, but for me, it’s more just a sheet of paper (the diploma, I mean). I’m not any different. I’ve had no epiphanies or life-changing moments.

I’m the same eighteen year-old girl with the same tendencies as I’ve been since December. And that milestone, turning into a legal adult, made me no different than I was before that.

I’m basically the same kid I’ve always been. I’ve lightened up, maybe. If anything, I may have gotten younger. I think I was born a solid thirty, but rather than getting closer to middle-aged each year, I’d like to think of myself as more of a mid-twenties kind of gal. I’m as self-sufficient as I can be at eighteen while I live with my parents, but I still shirk responsibilities I know that I can.

That’s change I can believe in.

So’s this--

I’m comfortable.

I once tried to write a research paper on how people need to stop searching for the elusive happiness and smell the fucking proverbial roses. Contentedness is heavily underrated and we should appreciate what we’ve got.
(Needless to say, that’s a terribly tough thing to prove and cite sources for.) But it’s relevant, I swear!!
See, so far this summer, I’m the most comfortable I’ve ever been while killing time. That’s how I see summer, as the in-between time. Usually I hate that time. The interminable time spent waiting for something better. I’m at a spot now though where I’m completely okay with both where I am and where I’m going. I can’t wait until August and moving to New Orleans. But I reallllly genuinely like my friends. I like drinking and listening to Alanis Morissette. I like hitting up QuikTrip and the park. I like surviving suburbia. I take naps and smile.

I’m living the dream. And I’ve finally got the first of a few diplomas that say I can.

14 April 2009

Oh! Darling

...believe me when I beg you, don't ever leave me alone.
(AKA I always need something in my life. A new revelation, actually.)

I rewatched Brideshead Revisited with my parents the other day. I was in awe of how completely this family took over this guy’s life.
I mean, really. To the point where, after five years, he picked up and went to Morocco because the mother asked.

I began thinking that was ridiculous and being glad that I would never be that malleable. My own life would be mine, and I’d do what I wanted to do in it.

Then, of course, I realized my folly. (Wouldn’t be writing a blog entry if I hadn’t, yeah?) Letting things completely and utterly take over your life? Isn’t that what always happens to me? In some weird way, I constantly need an obsession. Something to occupy my time and save me from seasons of mediocre tv and other, worse, vices.

What are some previous things that occupied my time?

Well, potentially embarrassing, but I’m enough of a cliche to have done high school theatre. But I’m cutting edge (hahah) enough to have started that phase back in middle school, so it was out of my system by halfway through sophomore year. Don’t doubt my dedication, I’ve slept on that stage, on the apron, in the wings, in the greenroom. Not because I was getting out of working, but because I’d been there all night, after school until 11 for tech week, and the like. When you’re fourteen and school starts at 7, that is sort of a big deal. No, I didn’t do theatre because I am Gus Langley’s sister. I hated when people assumed that. “Why are you here? Oh yeah. You’re Gus’ sister.” NO. We both did theatre because we’d been bred to do theatre. Our dad did it. Our mom did it. I’d have done it with or without my brother’s influence. But thankfully, because of my brother’s said influence, I could get out of that world a little bit more quickly.

I participated in Odyssey of the Mind for ten years and was a spectator even before that. It’s been in my life longer than my little brother has. I’ve donated hours, puns, tears, and arguments to regional, state, and world competitions for nearly as long as I can remember. And how does it end in my senior year? We completely fuck up. Don’t even write a script. I’m okay with that. It’s not a part of my life anymore at all. Went out with a bang, at least, and had some of the most fun I’ve ever had with it. Still. Something that was a big part of my life fizzled. A phase, albeit a long one.

Then there’s that whole school business in general. I cared a whole heck of a lot back in middle school, when nothing mattered. I was in nine clubs. I was Gifted Student of the Year. I tried. I did my work. I was involved. I’ve got nothing to show for that now, except the suspicion that this early dedication is what made me something of a burnout by the age of fifteen.

Let’s blame Barack Obama for a minute. It’s his fault, in a sense, that I can now drink black coffee. I did my college applications (A former, similar obsession, I assure you. For two and a half years, my “11:11 wish” was to get into Brown. I tried to start my application essays back in middle school. Ughh) in just two nights (with plenty of that aforementioned black coffee) since they were due in the midst of GOTV weekend.

Not quite picking up and leaving for Morocco, but pretty damn close for the old me.

I’ve always made fun of people who commit and have causes. That sounds bad, but, oh well. I did. I’m sick of trying out passions and going through phases. I want to be done with that and either have one or not. Ideally, I’d like to keep the one I’ve got -- I like organizing. If I can go two weeks with no more than three hours of consecutive sleep, I feel like I’m doing good things.

I think I’m probably writing this because I’m terrified that I will similarly “snap out” of the community organizing kick I’m on, like some people are so certain that I will.
I reallllly hope not. Once an organizer, always an organizer, yeah?

(This is the part where you reassure me, please)

07 April 2009

SB09? A Found Poem.

Do they drive like that in Michigan?

Things I like:
Jack and Diane

jet engine planes
free wifi
the sound carrots make
you guys
color me happy
John Mellencamp
crunchy peanut butter
New Orleans
grand marnier
blue monster
shut up.

my mom is a nurse practitioner fml. LOL deborah is a bitch fml. i wish i had a room to myself. and u guys of course. i wanna fuck *****? lolz fml. i want anyone. fml don't give me his phone number sarah i will strangle you not really though because i love you much more than idk anything what is on my left leg????LOL idk..... take off your pants and jack it.... lolz all the leaves are brown and the sky is grayyyyy

the end.

Ooh baby I love your way.
Ooh chile things are gonna get easier.
Gonna pull a superchug with that?
Oh. That's your foot.

13 March 2009

Heart It Races

I was asleep yesterday, taking a nap. My mother ran into my room, screaming and waking me up.

My diabetic little brother took 24 units of his fast-acting humalog instead of the slow acting lantus. For those without a family full of diabetics, just know that this is bad. Really bad.

So we called 911. EMTs came in a fire truck. We busted out the half-2 liter of Coke that we had from Thanksgiving and realized we had nothing else in the house that's not diet or low-carb. My older brother was sent to the gas station up the road and bought more Coke with all the change from his car. When he was told by our parents that wasn't enough, he drove back up to the gas station where the man gave him a snickers bar, saying he'd given him more than enough change and to go! go! back to the house. They threw the dog at me, so he wouldn't jump on the medics etc. and told me to look up on the internet anything we could do.

This was the most terrifying night of my life. I had to sit with the puppy, looking at all the ways an overdose of insulin can kill you, how when there's not enough food in your system (And know that there's no way to have enough food to justify 24 units. Average after a meal is like 5.), the insulin will start basically to break down your organs and this is how people commit suicide. Arthur had to have like 230 carbs to justify that much insulin. Eight ounces of Coke is only 27.

So my ten year old brother had to drink Coke and eat cookies until he was sick, while his heart rate slowed down, he sweated, and had low blood sugar and talk to EMTs. My family was freaking out. My neighbor called, assuming my grandmother was the one hurt. "It's Arthur? NO." It was the longest hour and a half ever, waiting for his sugar to go back up and know that he wasn't going to go into hypoglycemic shock and then a coma.

You know what my older brother said, after the medics left and everything calmed down? "Think of all the times we did this right. In five years, we only messed up once, and it was still this bad."

We only messed up once.

We only messed up once, and it was still this bad.

I was shaking all night and couldn't get to sleep. My heart didn't return to normal speed until I woke up to get to school. Arthur is fine now. He's fine. But we're lucky. My little brother who draws Mario figures and told me he voted for Obama in his school election "so other kids with my diabetes can get healthcare" is going to be okay.

It's scary how it only takes so little for everything to mess up. I'm not entirely sure what I'm getting to here -- maybe something about how we should all be careful and grateful or maybe something about how life isn't really fair -- but I think more than those things, I'm telling this story to show how people come together to handle things. I'd never have believed my family could have gotten through that as smoothly as we did. Sure, I was shaking. But not even my mother cried during the ordeal. My neighbor offered to come help. Even the man at the gas station did his part to make sure things worked out.

Despite that comfort, I know I never want to wake up to that again.

04 March 2009

It snowed in Georgia

Hospitals turn off coffee makers on the weekends.
But I found money in my pocket this morning and am going to eat a chikfila biscuit. Everything is proof of balance, I'm still convinced.

Somewhere along the line, I got the idea that things in life are balanced. No, I’m not suddenly overly interested in Chinese philosophy and yin yang signs. It’s more that I had to think that in order not to go crazy.

Call it self-fulfilling prophecy, but this idea of mine has just been reinforced repeatedly. Even if it is all in my head, I'm okay with that.

(My mother is reallllly into serendipity and signs and being spiritual. I’ve never been convinced of that whole God business and signs and all, so you can’t chalk this up to that.)

What do I mean? Well. I had a pretty awful July, but it was followed by some of the best months of my life. I thought everything was crashing in September, but without that scare I wouldn’t have appreciated October.

I lost powerfully in a senatorial election I worked on (even with landscape maps), but I got into college. I didn’t get into my “dream school” but did get to work on a campaign.

Yeah, this mindset makes me nervous when things are going well. But I also think it makes me enjoy it even more. It’s modified karma, I guess.

Blehhh. The chicken biscuit connection fell through. But hey, my art history teacher shared her coffee creamer with me, and I am going to the river after school. Things will ultimately be okay. Or balanced, at least.