Monday, May 23, 2016

War and Lunch

Imagine the following scenario...

You are an employee at an engineering company. Each department in the company wears different colored uniforms. Administration wears yellow. Engineering wears red. Accounting wears blue, etc. One day, you open the refrigerator in the company kitchen to find that someone has taken your lunch, which was clearly marked with your name. You're upset, as you were very much looking forward to eating that lovely lunch, and you would like to demand compensation from whomever took it. So you ask around to see if anyone saw something. A co-worker that you trust tells you they saw the thief take your lunch. However, your trusted co-worker didn't see the thief's face, only that they were definitely wearing blue, so they must be from accounting. Furious, you storm over to accounting and demand that each person there pays you $10 for your lunch.

Wait...what? Every person from accounting has to pay you? You don't bother finding out which person actually did it? No. No, you do not. Every person in accounting must be punished for that transgression by someone in their department. They are clearly all total d-bags.

Now, I want you to ask yourself a few questions: 1) Will the people in accounting like you more or less after you make all of them pay $10? 2) Will your response make it more or less likely that your lunch will be stolen in the future? Why or why not? 3) Do you think the people in accounting will be angrier with the lunch thief or with you?

You see, it wasn't nice or fair to punish the entire accounting department for the actions of a single asshat. Now, the entire accounting department hates you, and takes turns stealing your lunch and throwing it in the garbage out of spite. But they're sneaky about it. They change their shirt or do it when no one is watching so the crime can't be traced back to them. And you've begun watching their every move, even planting fake lunches and hiding behind the door, trying to catch them in the act. It is all out department warfare. When will the lunchtime horrors end so you can eat in peace?!

At times it is difficult to trace the origins of war but in this case, it's quite simple. No, it wasn't the stolen lunch. After all, you never found out the motive behind it. Perhaps it was a mistake, or maybe that poor accountant hadn't eaten in three days. No, my friend, it was your overblown revenge that sparked this nightmarish world you live in. Even though it would have required a bit more communication and time, it would have been better to figure out who that singular asshat was and punch him in the throat directly. Or, you know, ask him why he took the lunch, and then figure out a rational response. Then, you could have maintained your friendly relations with the rest of the accounting department who are all perfectly nice people (remember Janice who made you brownies for your birthday?). Unfortunately, you did not. YOU BECAME AN ASSHAT YOURSELF by demanding $10 from all accounting personnel. Congratulations.

You might be asking yourself, "Emily, why are you making me think about a situation that sounds like it's out of an HR training manual?" Well, dear reader, this is my attempt to get you to connect to the much larger problem of discrimination. Hopefully, you've already made the connections in your mind as to how our scenario reflects discrimination in the real world (replace "company" with "world", and "departments" with "religion/race/people who are different from you", and ... screw this, figure it out yourself). We can especially see this played out in the very real problem of Islamaphobia that is sweeping across the nation, fueled by some very hateful rhetoric from a certain political party. In response to the rise of ISIS, Donald Trump (and many other people) has called for a ban on all Muslims entering the US. This ban would not do anything to curb terrorist attacks. It is a knee-jerk reaction that is fueled by fear and hate. There is no logic in this reaction. There is no fairness in this reaction. There is no good that could ever possibly come out of this reaction.

Now, before you say "That's total bullshit, Emily. A ban on Muslims is for our own safety," let's compare this with our lunchtime scenario. Let's say 1 out of 10 accountants steals your lunch, so 10%. However, last week someone in engineering stole your friend's lunch. So not all accountants are lunch thieves, and not all lunch thefts are committed by accountants. In fact, less than 2% of all lunch thefts were carried out by accountants during the past five years. Every department has at least one d-bag that steals lunches. So I think it's safe to say, punishing all accountants for the actions of one nimrod is a gross overreaction and completely unwarranted. Furthermore, it's not going to prevent future lunch thefts from happening. In fact, as we can see from the example, it may actually increase lunch thefts, and turn everyone into a grumpy asshole. Do you see where I'm going with this? Because I could go on and on... If you can see that making everyone in accounting pay you $10 is wrong, then why can't you see that a total ban on Muslims is wrong?! It's the same thing!!

This is not the first time 'Murica has tried to do something stupid, nor will it be the last. In fact, the whole reason I'm writing this is because someone on FB posted that sending Japanese-Americans to internment camps during WWII was the right thing to do, and that's what we need to do now. When I read that, my head figuratively exploded. Mind=blown. This was a human that I knew, that I trusted, that I thought was good and kind. How could this be? I began furiously typing a response, even posted it, but then promptly deleted it because I felt that there was nothing I could say to get past the wall that he had built around his mind. Sure I could have listed a million facts about the interment camps and their effects, but it suddenly became clear to me that it wouldn't matter. Facts would not matter... Appealing to his personal life and connections would not matter. He is an adult with a brain, and a wealth of experience in this world. If he could not come to the conclusion on his own that discrimination is wrong, what difference would I make?

Instead, this is my response. This is my catharsis because I cannot bring myself to have another meaningless cyber argument where nothing is gained. Both sides say it is like talking to a wall. Both sides are steadfast in their convictions, convinced that the other is crazy or ignorant or both. If the answer is so clear in my lunchtime situation, why is not clear in every discriminatory situation? Am I missing something? Is there some vague grey area that I can't see? Perhaps it is because the lunchtime situation is personal and affects our daily lives. We get to know our co-workers on a daily basis. At the end of the day, you work for the same company, with the same goal, and nobody wants to get fired. It is in your best interests to operate with the best interests of the company in mind, and that means maintaining friendly working relations. Well, we just need to expand that! Get to know your neighbor. Get to know the people who are different from you. Make a Muslim friend! Because at the end of the day, we are part of the same world, with the same goals, and everybody just wants to live their life. We have far more in common than you can imagine. And at the very least, please, just don't be an asshat.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Sexual Violence in the Upstairs Apartment

I live in an old apartment building with many quirks and charms. One of the less fortunate aspects is that you can hear everything from the apartment above you; walking, vacuuming, TV voices, blowing their nose, EVERYTHING. The new couple that moved in recently has been a bit rowdy. In addition to the normal everyday noises we hear, they also have bumpin’ parties any day of the week (usually 3 or more nights of the week and not always on weekends). I’m pretty sure that during the parties they have one of those dance video games or really hilarious break dancing competitions…hard to tell which. These social gatherings are extremely annoying, particularly if I have to wake up in the morning for work. That being said, I don’t like to be a nosy neighbor, and as long as it’s on a weekend, I’m not going to try to stop them. I figure it’s all part of living in an old apartment building, no big deal.

 But last night, shit got real. When I say we can hear everything, I do mean everything, including activities in the bedroom, which they probably would not want other people to hear. I was laying bed, trying to sleep, when I could hear them begin to argue. It didn’t seem like anything unusual but then I started to hear the woman cry. The boyfriend started telling her to “shut up” and “open your mouth”. This was followed by more crying and sounds of gagging/choking/vomiting(?). Not cool. It continued on like that for quite a while and at one point it sounded like she was trying to stop, saying she needed to use the bathroom, but he wouldn’t let her. More things were said that I would rather not repeat. I didn’t want to get involved. I was scared, shaking with anger. I felt so completely unsure and helpless, and tried to make excuses for the situation happening above me. Maybe they do this sort of thing a lot and she’s ok with it? Maybe my imagination is getting the better of me and it’s not as bad as it sounds? Maybe she’s not really crying and he didn’t really say those things? What could I do? Knock on their door and risk my own personal safety? Bang on the ceiling to let them know I could hear?

I called 911. I couldn’t lie there in bed, pretending that everything was ok and perfectly normal. It was not normal. It was not ok. Those were not sounds of pleasure. The police arrived maybe 5 or 10 minutes later. The noises stopped, nobody was arrested, the woman did not leave or ask for help. The police drove away a minute later. Later in the hour, they resumed their activities in a quieter, more normal sounding manner (from what I could tell). No one was rescued. No one was punished. Life went on. But what else could I expect to happen? I don’t know these people, I don’t know their situation. I don’t know the woman. Does she want to be rescued? Does she know how to save herself? Will things get worse for her because I intervened? I don’t know.

The only thing I know is that if it were me, I would hope that someone would call the police. And I know that if I had done nothing, I would live with that guilt forever. What if that were the chance she had needed to get away but I did not give it her? I am constantly posting on Facebook about women’s rights and the culture of violence and harassment against women. If I had not called 911, I would be part of that problem. Silence and apathy do not equal neutrality. They perpetuate and give power to the violence in a way that is nearly equal to the crime itself. I did not want to be a part of that crime. I may not have made much of a difference with my call to 911 but at least I did SOMETHING. And the girl upstairs may not leave her boyfriend but at least she can know that someone is looking out for her, and maybe eventually, that will make all the difference.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I'm a terrible student

So, I'm sitting in my Multimedia Literacy class and he told us we have 15 minutes to explore how Google uses blogs and what you can do with it, blah, blah, blah. What a convenient time to update my Google blog! So here's the dealio, I'm a mere 6 weeks away from receiving my masters degree in TESOL. Wahooo!!! And in just three months we'll be moving back across the country, leaving our stuff at Ma and Pa's, then heading to Bolivia for a couple of months. After that, we'll be moving to Dayton, OH (or at least Camilo will be). Hopefully I'll get an ESL job there and if not, I'll be searching in other cities too. My real priority at this point is finding a full time job in my field and paying back my 60k in student loans (Holy Mary Mother of God, I'm dead).

Other than that, I love my job here still, my GPA is an awesome-o 3.95/4.0 (yes, I'm a smarty pants), and I love my man. Oh! And I finally made a friend in this random little town! She's only here temporarily also. Anywho, nothing else to update really. Life for the past year has been busy, steady, and quiet. The next several months will not be.

Happy 2012!!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I have a job and stuff!

Well, happy news, I am employed. A lot has changed since my last posting. Where to begin?

First of all, my life was stagnant until December. I'm still in Paonia, and Paonia is, well...Paonia. After long months of being bored to tears, I decided it was time to do something with my life and go to grad school. So, I found the University of Southern California's Master of Arts in Teaching, specializing in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), and applied. The program is also offered completely online so I get to stay in this delightful little town (dripping with sarcasm there). So yeah, I am now a full time grad student, overwhelmed with homework. Woo! This first semester is nearly over and then I'll be a quarter of the way through the program. If all goes as planned, I'll have my masters at the beginning of next March, one year from now.

Also (as previously mentioned), I have a job! While finding a place to do ESL observations for school, I was offered a job to actually teach an ESL class through Delta County Libraries. I now teach a small class of Mexican immigrants, two nights per week at the library in Cedaredge. So my life is pretty much back on track to where I was originally headed. Yay! I am now so busy that I don't even really have time to write this blog, I'm just procrastinating on writing a paper that's due today :)

In not so great news, my trip to Bolivia for Christmas was basically disastrous. First, our plane was delayed in Gunnison because of snow flurries. FLURRIES! The pilot was clearly inexperienced and didn't have the balls to take off in less than perfect weather. Because of this, we had to take a different flight in an attempt to make it to Miami in time for the flight to La Paz. We were in Gunnison for 8 hours so as you might imagine, we didn't make that flight. When we did take off out of Gunnison, the visibility was EXACTLY the same as it had been earlier, and our new pilot had no problem whatsoever. So, because of all that, we were stuck in Miami for 4 DAYS waiting for the next available flight to La Paz. Total waste of our time. Miami smells like a sewer and being December, there was no way I was going swimming in the ocean (December has the highest rate of shark attacks). When we finally got to La Paz, all was well in the world for about a week while we celebrated the holidays, visited family, and went to a resort near Coroico. Then, on New Year's Day, the WHOLE family came down with salmonella poisoning. That's right, not just me the weak-stomached-American, the whole family. Aaaaaand on top of that, I got a kidney infection and kidney stones...all at once! Imagine having salmonella poisoning, a kidney infection, and passing kidney stones all at the same time, at 12,000ft above sea level. And btw, the kidney stuff was unrelated to the food poisoning. I just have the worst luck in the world, that's all. By the time I was feeling alive again, it was time for our flight back. Interestingly enough, the altitude didn't bother me other than magnifying a hangover, and no other foods made me feel sick like I expected, just the food tainted with salmonella that affected the whole resort.

To summarize, my trip to Bolivia was NOT enjoyable and seriously made me question my future life there. It's sad. I know it was mostly bad luck but still, it was the worst trip of my entire life. Not exactly a great first impression to be left with. And because we were so busy visiting friends and family during the week that we felt good, I didn't even get to do fun touristy things and site-seeing. AND it put my relationship on the rocks for about a month. Turns out not wanting to live in the same place someday presents a serious problem.

Whatever, my life is in turmoil but also getting back on track. I'm beginning to regain confidence in my decision to live in Bolivia someday, depending on how the next trip goes. The boyfriend refuses to live in the US forever. However, it also sort of hit that Bolivia only has two CT scan machines in the whole country, and when I came back to the States, that's one of the first things they put me through at the nearest hospital to check if I had kidney stones. I'm beginning to think of things like health care for my future children, and their education as well. Even if La Paz is a totally modern city, it's still a third-world country that's thousands of miles away from my own family. How do I deal with that? And at what point am I making too many compromises?

I hate being a grown-up and making grown-up decisions. Life would be easier if he were French (but still the same person). I miss France.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I'm bored...story of my new life

I have nothing better to do so I guess I'll update this thing. I hate writing blogs.

Anyway, no job as of yet. And the only openings are at the coal mines for things like "Underground coal miner" and scary things like that which I am NOT about to do (even though they get paid something like $24/hr). When there are regular job openings, everyone within a 60 mile radius applies and there's always someone who has a better connection than you. I graduated with a 3.5 GPA with my B.A. dammit!!!! How can you not hire me for a position that only requires a GED?!?!? Not to mention I'm totally charming and lovable...right?

Whatev, I'm in the process of getting my Colorado certification to be a substitute teacher. That may take 10 more weeks to process, and then I can apply to the county. This takes forever! But it's not like I have anything else going for me so I might as well do it. Plus, I think subbing could be at least mildly enjoyable with decent pay, and taking vacation days won't be an issue.

Besides the job search my life is a complete waste of time at the moment. I've been exercising and cleaning like a madwoman, 5 days a week. That's all I have in this town. My highlights of the day include checking our mailbox (which is usually empty, but sometimes not!), and having lunch with Camilo for a measly 30 minutes. Weekends are not much better but at least then I have some company.

I am SO incredibly excited for my brother's wedding in 2 weeks. I'll get to see the WHOLE family in Michigan (a rare treat). Then my parents should be coming here with the rest of my stuff. I miss my couch!! After that I don't think I'll have anything to look forward to until December when we should be going to Bolivia for Christmas. Yay! I'm super excited for that but it will be a little sad to miss my family's Christmas for the first time ever. Ah well...

Ok, I'm done :)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Some good things

Here's a little update for you. As far as internet goes, this town sucks. Some people came out to install it today only to let me know that it wouldn't be possible because there are too many tall trees around our apartment to receive the satellite signal. Damn it!! So now we have to go with this other company to get DSL but they also force you to get a land line phone as well for additional $30/mo. F-you internet companies!!!

Other than that it was a lovely week. We went rafting down the Colorado River near Glenwood Springs, sat in actual hot springs along the river, and saw a family of 3 mountain lions on the way home. Absolutely amazing!! Camilo's company (SEI) and his co-workers are all turning out to be fantastic so that's good. The weather is slightly less hot this week, and this weekend we will consider purchasing a real bed. Hooray!!! No more air mattress!!!

And now I'm being kicked out of the library because it's closing. I hate internet companies!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

We have arrived.

Alright, quick update. I have to use the internet at the library because we've yet to figure out where to go to actually get internet at our apartment. My cell phone barely works here so don't bother calling. I'm pretty much dead to the world right now.

Anyway, Paonia is chock full of real hippies, poser rastafarians, mexican immigrants, and organic "farmers" (although I suppose they could be counted in with the hippies). It's super hot and sunny here everyday. Occasionally it will sprinkle for 5 minutes and then be hot and sunny again. The town is small and strange. Yesterday they had the World Cup Final playing at the local movie theater for free so we were able to watch that with a strange mix of people and their children. This town is also full of very small children.

I'm not sure what to think of this place yet. The locals seem eager to meet us and very friendly. People keep telling us that we'll love it here and that's it's an amazing place to live. I think they have a different perspective and a different way of life than us though... Well, at least this place is cheerful. I just need to find some new hobbies.