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Catching up with Russia

5 Feb

I’m reading this book about a socialist, extremely “left” family in New York. A lot of the references in the characters’ dialogue and thought are about Marxist politics. It occurred to me, while reading about these characters, that I know next to nothing about Marx, and other socialist and communist philosophers and leaders. Lenin, Stalin, Castro … I know them as evil-doers only, I have no idea about what theories brought them into being and helped them overthrow entire governmental systems.  In school, when we thought about communist “regimes,” we were almost always referring to China. I know a small bit about China, just from taking Government classes, but some how, I missed Russian history and German philosophy.

So, without having late-night access to the library, I decided to start watching public documentaries on these leaders… I started with Lenin, and watched this. And then I moved to Stalin, and watched this:

Tomorrow, I am picking up a two-part documentary on Russia that I ordered from the local video store. And I need a book — something like “Russian History for Dummies” or something. I really want to understand all of this; I don’t want to be bombarded with thoughts and ideas (and words) that I have no chance of grasping. I need to read a book on Marx too, along the same lines. I’m worried anything about Marx will be too dense and hard.

Suggestions?

ooppss, i did it again.

3 Mar

I missed a month! It hardly counts though, because it was a shmonth (short month).

Editor’s note: in the post below, I commented about seeing the movie, Milk. I announced that I had been recruited – which caused several people to question my sexuality. No – I was not coming out. I was simply stating that I had been recruited to Harvey Milk’s political stance(s). Whenever he gave a public speech, he said, “My name is Harvey Milk and I am here to recruit you.”

harvey_milk

To me, this means a commitment and an openness to equality. That’s what I meant – I believe in these things, just as he did. On this same note, Milk took home two Oscars, which makes me even more famous!

And, also, it’s finally raining in San Francisco.

raining-in-sf1

Mills

23 Jan

trek-up-to-ethel

Today, I found myself back at my alma-mater, Mills College. It was a surreal experience. I had lunch in the tea shop — which was strange and emotional. I couldn’t help but to look around and see so many memories in the pockets of that campus. Past friendships and present ones. Anxiety, joy, contentness. Hilarity, sadness. Words and paint. Eucalyptus and egg-salad-sandwiches. It just made me think that maybe I am where I am supposed to be right now. Maybe I am doing what I was meant to be doing — even though sometimes it feels like my life (at this moment) is all wrong. I will say this about right now: I feel as if I am getting some stuff worked out, even though it is hard and often lonely. A lot of the time I end up feeling bored, overwhelmed and socially twitchy.

Alright, that’s enough adjectives for one post — I also saw Milk — the film that made me famous. It was fantastic… Sean Penn was such a wonderful act. The story is just so tragic and meaningful. It’s so applicable to struggles that are currently happening in society — and especially in California (Prop 8). It made me feel motivated about the future of social justice and equality. I was recruited (well, I’m sorta already in the club — but this just firmed up my membership)!

2 days ago was

6 Nov

Election day. It was such an amazing opportunity to be able to vote for Barack Obama… it kind of frazzled me. I was excited and nervous, and by voting in Oakland, I couldn’t help but to feel like I was a part of something really big.

It was overwhelming when he won, so clearly, so easily. His acceptance speech made me ball like a big baby.  I’m so content to be living during this time. Though I have the dreaminess for the 60s (mostly the fashion and music), politically and socially, this time is unlike any other. So much justice is happening right now (though there is a LONG way to go), it is very exciting to see, and experience.

VOTE

3 Nov

It’s that time.

I hope we (the country) makes the right (left) decision.

AH!

Reading makes me feel less stupid.

26 Mar

SO, it’s been almost a year after graduation… (yes, I realize that is a major topic of mine as of late, but whatever, it’s what I’m going through at the moment). As I seek to find a vision, I have decided to return to my roots… basically, I’ve been getting back to what gets me going, gets me feeling passionate, makes me want to “move and groove,” if you will.

I’ve been buying (and reading) magazines.

Right after graduation, at the beginning of my job (career?), I would only buy such reading material as People, Us Weekly, and Star Magazine. Maybe I had air of “Fuck you, academia, this is where you got me, so this is what I’m going to read.” For about 4 months, I followed, closely, the goings on of Britney Spears and other falling, failing Hollywood bimbos. Basically, I’ve been feeling as dumb as them.

And then, I had an epiphany at the Borders Mag Rack. While purusing the array of trashy magazine covers, I caught a glimpse of a camel crossing a Chinese desert. First, I thought, “I didn’t know they had camels in China,” and then I thought, “What else don’t I know about China?” So I bought and subsequently read, The Economist. Politics and Economics — two of my faves. Then came Ms. magazine and feminism. And Adbusters, full of media commentary and anti-establishmentness. Perfect.

I’m feeling a little bit smarter these days. And I’m getting to the point of dealing with the big question… “WHAT DO I WANT TO DO?”

semi-modern, i think.

18 Jan

I was just thinking, I should change the name of my blog to “A Taylored Stitch, A Semi-Modern Bitch.” Modern is too trendy. I definitely don’t encompass modern. I think I can stand with semi-modern though.

I’ve almost finished the book I’ve been reading since the summer. Well, it’s not like I have been continuously reading it… more like I read it for a week, stopped. And then picked it up a few days ago, and now, I’m almost done with it. This is good for several reasons. One: I can put it back on my room mate’s bookshelf and not be one of her hated “book stealers.” Two: I can read something else now without feeling guilty for not finishing it. And three: it’s a good book and I have learned a lot!

Whenever I have been spotted with said book, I receive much comment from those around me… “You’re reading THAT!…It’s so… conservative.” “I’m surprised you’re reading that.” “Isn’t that like, really, conservative?” “She [the author] is kind of crazy, right?” “How could you read that? It teaches capitalism.”

I was sort of confused by these questions, statements… but continued to read, with encouragement from the roomie. Academia can be so predictable … everyone has the same opinion about a book they’ve never read. And even if it was “conservative” or “capitalistic,” I could still learn a lot.

I won’t give a synopsis of it, because mine would be so drab, and I think Wikipedia does a pretty good job of it.  The book is The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand.

Here’s my favorite part:

“In what act or thought of his has there been a self? What was his aim in life? Greatness – in other people’s eyes. Fame, admiration, envy – all which comes from others. Others dictated his convictions, which he did not hold, but he was satisfied that others believed he held them. Others were his motive power and his prime concern. He didn’t want to be great, but to be thought great. He didn’t want to build, but to be admired as a builder. He borrowed from others in order to make an impression on others.”

Anyone familiar with Ayn Rand, knows her outspoken beliefs on laissez-faire capitalism and individualism. The Fountainhead definitely had these as recurring themes. I didn’t feel as if it were a political tyrade though – more of a really important critique on humanity. I wouldn’t describe myself as a capitalist or an individualist – but I read the above quote as if it were a bible verse for an evangelical christian. I mean, I wrote it in my planner, so I would have it for the whole year, handy. For me, this part wasn’t a political message, but a personal one. It’s what  do everyday: wrap my self-worth up in other’s expectations and ideas of success. Is it individualistic of me to think that sucks? Can I be selfish and selfless at the same time?

“That, precisely, is the deadliness of second-handers. They have no concern for facts, ideas, work. They’re concerned only with people. They don’t ask: ‘Is this true?’ They ask ‘Is this what others think is true?’ Not to judge, but to repeat. Not to do, but to give the impression of doing. Not creation, but show. Not ability, but friendship. Not merit, but pull. What would happen to a world without those who do, think, work, produce?”