Only a Pawn in Their Game

There are some interesting things going on in our country these days. I guess, though, it might always be “interesting.” While reading this article I was struck by the well explained paradox that is the South and also the base of the Republican party, and, in the end, the paradox of people. Without getting into more details, the author is pointing out that one of the stronger Republican states is also one of the most dependent on Federal aid for the every day citizen. And, with that, by voting for any of the candidates in the GOP, they are thereby voting to have the very aid they depend on, put in jeopardy.

But that is not what I want to talk about.

As a history major, I am sad to say the story of Medgar Evers (mentioned in the article above) is not one that I was familiar with until today. His life and assassination inspired the Bob Dylan song, “Only a Pawn in Their Game” and this led me to remember this incomparable song written after September 11, 2001. The thread is clear: citizens killing and being killed are just pawns in a system. As poems. We are metaphors.

We are all metaphors for a larger game that we have no control over, or so those in power hope. BGI makes me think a lot about power, and how, although it is the most interesting and inspiring communities I have ever been a part of, it still feels small, and the idea of us actually changing the world seems somehow totally plausible yet incredibly naive. I still feel “stuck” in a system that runs deeper and holds stronger than I could ever imagine.

I did not grow up in the Civil Rights era and I will never claim to understand what it was like for any side at that time. I only have my experiences and research to inform my opinion. That being said, just like then, we have a lot to continue to fight for, right here and right now. Our rights are being threatened. The citizens of this country are suffering because of the food that we are told is okay to eat. We are told that corporations are the same as people. The discussion about women’s health is about politics, not women. Money has more votes than people. It’s all become a game.

Our food system is feeding us food that is not food. I am angry that I no longer feel safe eating the cornbread I grew up on and the biscuits my mom makes with love. Little has changed in regard to social justice and economic equality. As Eric Schlosser eloquently expresses,

As upper-middle-class and well-educated people increasingly reject fast food, the industry has responded much like the tobacco industry once did when that demographic group decided to quit smoking. The fast-food chains, like the tobacco companies, are now aggressively targeting African-Americans, Latinos, and the poor. America’s low-income communities now boast the highest proportion of fast-food restaurants—as well as the highest obesity rates and the highest rates of diabetes. Two vastly different food cultures now coexist in the United States. While some Americans eat free-range chicken and organic produce, exercise regularly, and improve their health, most are consuming inexpensive processed foods, drinking large amounts of soda, and reducing their life expectancy. The contrast between the thin, fit, and well-to-do and the illness-ridden, poor, and obese has no historical precedent. The wealthy used to be corpulent, while the poor starved.

What brings me hope is that, as Schlosser expresses, our future is not inevitable. As large as the issues appear, and as powerful as the status quo feels, we can and must still fight for what is right. What do I mean by “right”?

I mean living in a society that honors our demands:

  • to know where our food is coming from,
  • to truly understand the affects our environment and our food have on our overall health,
  • to have access to healthcare
  • to speak our minds without threat of censorship,
  • to access a life that inspires us within.

This pawn isn’t ready to allow its opponent to declare checkmate yet.

Learning to Walk Away

Goodbyes are like going to the dentist. Nobody likes to do it, everyone should experience it at least once in their lives, and, while an overall unpleasant experience, the benefits will outlive the aches and pains.

I prefer hellos.

Hellos often coincide with goodbyes. The excitement of something new and the sadness of leaving. I’m walking away from something that I know can’t serve me anymore and I accept I can’t help any further. I want the best for them, but you have to give a little in order to get, and to me, they are not giving enough. Such a lesson surrounding people, culture, and true purpose. For my money, investing in people provides the greatest return. People. Planet. Profit. They all bleed into one another.

For tonight, bring on the champagne in celebration of hello!

Trying to Be Big.

I’m often surprised and deeply embarrassed when I cry in front of someone. Tears sneak up on me and all I can do is force a smile while the tears stream down and the skin around my eyes becomes blotchy red. I look down. For me crying is a sign of weakness and vulnerability that I am too often embarrassed to show. I want to appear strong. This is bothering me, but I can handle it.

I love that crying doesn’t lie. That it is essential to living. That I can’t not cry. Crying and I are becoming better friends these days. It’s good. Over the past two years my emotions have become more raw and real. Crying reveals to me what I am experiencing and how I am handling it internally.

I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of hurting me with his words. His words are meant to hurt. Looking for attention and a way to to stir up trouble, like a puppy when it poops in your shoe. When it came up in conversation with a friend, it could have just been another conversation surrounding politics, but instead, out of the blue, the tears. He was surprised.

I guess when a man calls every woman who uses birth control a slut, it affects me. I use birth control. I live with a man to whom I am not married. I have sex. Damn it.

Some inspiration:

Tony Porter: A Call to Men

Eve Ensler: Over It

My Dear Johnny

Where did all the water come from?

I tell this story in honor of my best friend, Meg Fanney, who turns another year older today. It is because of this story that Meg and I know where we are going after we die, to re-live this moment at St. Christophers as ghosts night after night. The mystery will never be solved.

Together we moved to Edinburgh Scotland following the summer after we graduated from college. Living in London for a semester during our sophomore year only heightened our excitement and anticipation for life abroad. Unlike our first round in Great Britain, we were free to roam, get jobs, drink ourselves silly, and create a life.

We met Meg’s friend from childhood, John, who had been bumming around Europe for a while, and was just stopping in Edinburgh for a few nights before heading back to NC. Like all who are young and in Europe, or old in America and ready to forget, we arrived ready to party. We chose our hostel based on many factors: 1. Bar in the main floor. 2. Close to the train station.

We drank a lot that night. Beer. Tequila shots. I remember watching John take three shots of tequila right in a row to conclude the night and close down the bar. Our room was big. There were a total of 4 bunk beds in the room, and we shared the room with one woman from Australia reading a book about Princess Diana. I went to bed. My bed. A twin bed.

I woke in the middle of the night with John in my bed. It was very strange. No, we did not go to bed together, I swear. No, really, I went to my bed alone! I try to wake him up and he won’t budge. He won’t even acknowledge that I am shaking him. Then I notice the bottom of his pants are wet. Soaking wet.

Panic mode. I role John to the side and pop out of bed, shake Meg awake and say, “John won’t wake up!” We are both in mom-panic-mode at this point, but slightly still drunk. Meg tries to wake him up but to no avail, so she runs down the stairs to get an employee. I’m freaking out. And then I notice, the floor is soaking wet. Am I standing in urine? What the fuck is this? Why are there wet footsteps coming out of the bathroom?

Meg returns with the employee, he concludes John is not dead, just drunk, and suggests I take John’s bed and let him stay in mine. He then proceeds to use tons and tons of sheets (I don’t know why he didn’t use towels) to soak up the massive amounts of water on the floor. Let me re-emphasize, the floor was soaking wet, soaking into suitcases and shoes.

I go to bed. Confused. Freaked Out. Confused. Freaked Out.

John wakes up and doesn’t say a word. Not, hey, why I am I in this bed and not my own? Why am I still wearing my clothes? Why are the bottom of my pants wet (that’s how wet they were, they were still wet in the morning)?

I say hi to John in the morning and wait for any sign of confusion or recollection from the previous nights shenanigans. Nothing. When I ask him about it, he says, “Oh Amy, I’m just a hard sleeper” and I say, but John, just tell me “Where did all the water come from?”