Sadness or Euphoria or Requiem for a Coat

With all the talk of buyer's remorse this season--unprecedented numbers of shoppers returning items shortly after purchasing them upon realizing they can't shell out whatever they had paid in the first place--I began to contemplate my own recent large purchases and wonder whether or not they were worth it. Recall the Strategies and Tactics coat from Anthro:
O, how I loved this coat. But those beautiful brass buttons kept falling off and drooping like sad little soldiers. And I kept catching them and sewing them back on with my awkward unsteady stitches. Anthropologie has a pretty liberal returns policy, so I called a couple weeks ago, after perhaps button #4 had met its demise, and they assured me I could return it. I didn't. Instead, I waited it out a few weeks. I continued to rescue buttons with shaky sewing. I had a fiery debate with myself as to whether or not I should bring it back. I loved the shape and the epaulletes. I admired the ease with which the piece melded into my wardrobe, and even appreciated the slight Sgt. Peppers undertones when I paired it with my favorite sunglasses. Alas, I lost one button and was without any more substitutes. I know I could have replaced all of them, but I paid enough money for herringbone cotton as it was--not even all that warm. And where I'm from, warm truly does factor into coat purchases.

It's an interesting phenomenon by which I tortured myself with the debate regarding whether or not I should have brought the coat back. It was as though I was personally affronted that the coat did not live up to my expectations. Why do we (and I use the term we loosely, mostly in hopes that I'm not the only weirdo who does this) invest so many emotions in a piece of fabric? I suppose this is the pinnacle of successful marketing: to make the consumer feel as though what they are buying is not just an item devoid of personal meaning, but rather a piece of a certain lifestyle or approach to seeing the world. Maybe this is the source of the Wal-Mart tramplings and hysteria--corporations have led people to believe that the items they desire play such an essential role in their lives that the threat of not having them brings with it anger and desperation. Maybe that's how AIG felt when they had to cancel their next big bash. . .

Back to the coat. . .

Determination to rid myself of this source of frustration, I marched into Anthro yesterday, receipt in hand, returned it, and swiftly experienced a feeling of relief--in part due to having my money back, but mostly because I felt like, as a consumer, I had made the right decision. How silly to assume that Goliath gives a shit about David's emotional musings. And then I promptly spent the same amount on the Just-Right Ruffled Coat. . . this time, fully-lined wool. And I concur that with a teeny bit of ruffle, it is just right:

Edited to include: After reading this, courtesy of the fabulous enc, I have decided to cut the Anthro cord. I'm not drinking the kool-aid anymore. The above coat, #2, has gone back from whence it came. I just can't get down with a store who's too good to be perceived as a place where one can secure a bargain. No sir. No ma'am. See our comments for more of my thoughts.


"But prisons do not disappear problems, they disappear human beings."

When I lived in California--briefly, after high school--I was taken aback upon filling out applications for employment, as I found that each one contained the same statement: Have you been convicted of a crime?* and corresponding asterisk explanation: If conviction was marijuana related, check NO.

Now, I was never convicted of any crime, but the statement heightened my curiosity regarding the inefficacy of drug policy and the injustices of the prison system. Years later, I found Angela Davis' work and thoughts on the prison industrial complex, from which the title line is borrowed. Basically, Davis points out the disturbing practices of the United States governments--both federal and state-- whereby more individuals are locked behind bars here than any other country in the Western world. The management, so to speak, of the vast number of "criminals--"disproportionately people of color and those who are undereducated and/or living in poverty--is then outsourced to corporations, privatized. Prisoners and the prison system become commodities, then--a means to profit for shareholders. There is no regard for the need to develop solutions to social issues of injustice that extend beyond mere incarceration. Well how, TPNB, you say, could the money that goes into maintaining the prison industrial complex be better used? What types of interventions could ease some of our society's issues before individuals are caged for profit?
I will let the expert answer:

[The prison industrial complex] devours the social wealth that could be used to subsidize housing for the homeless, to ameliorate public education for poor and racially marginalized communities, to open free drug rehabilitation programs for people who wish to kick their habits, to create a national health care system, to expand programs to combat HIV, to eradicate domestic abuse -- and, in the process, to create well-paying jobs for the unemployed. . .

Mass incarceration is not a solution to unemployment, nor is it a solution to the vast array of social problems that are hidden away in a rapidly growing network of prisons and jails. However, the great majority of people have been tricked into believing in the efficacy of imprisonment, even though the historical record clearly demonstrates that prisons do not work. Racism has undermined our ability to create a popular critical discourse to contest the ideological trickery that posits imprisonment as key to public safety. The focus of state policy is rapidly shifting from social welfare to social control.

As I continued to investigate, I began to understand that the "War on Drugs" is simply another way in which officers in police departments around the country keep their pockets lined. In the wake of some sad news about an old friend, I was compelled to research exactly where my state stood in terms of incarceration of nonviolent offenders. Yeah, we came in 1st (ah location revealed). My state ranks "#1 among the fifty states in terms of the proportion of drug offenders as part of the overall prison population and in new prison admissions who are drug offenders" (DPA). How very sad. And how very fiscally irresponsible--with our state cutting budgets like nobody's business (including, but of course, higher ed-my alma mater lost MILLIONS in funding), and with each prisoner costing tax payers $46,880/year, doesn't it seem like now might be the perfect opportunity to reform drug sentencing laws?

Government, on all levels, is willing to continue to prize corporate contracts and lobbyist agendas over basic human dignity and amelioration of a host of social issues. The defeat of Prop 5 in California during the November elections is a perfect demonstration of this. But the fact that Prop 5 was proposed and voted on is a step in the right direction. Radical change is certainly needed in order to restructure our criminal justice system. You can visit DPA to see what you can do and to investigate where your own state stands--I'm quite sure it can't be any worse than mine.


Thanks to Give

I'm thankful for. . .

-Family that loves me and takes me for who I am

-Friends, new and old, near and far, that sustain me through laughter, happiness, and memories

-My dog, who tries so hard to not get mad at me when we skip a walk

-A position in a profession that inspires me and pushes me to grow personally and professionally

-A warm house with a kitchen full of home-grown vegetables and a fridge full of home-cooked meals

-Health and well-being; intellectual capacity and empathy

-Experiences of all sorts that have brought with them life lessons that I do and will carry with me always

To those who read my thoughts and share your thoughts, thank you for your support and a sense of genuine community. Let's all offer our own thanks today, and remember those who suffer, go without, hunger, shiver--those who are lonely, sad, living in poverty. Let's be thankful for our blessings and know that there but by the grace of God go. . . us. Warm wishes for a peaceful and happy Thanksgiving, all!


Awwwwww Yeah

In exactly one month and four days, this beauty will be mine all mine. It's a Rafe and I snagged it via Gilt Group thanks to the access code provided by the lovely ladies at Kingdom Of Style. It was a tough-fought race--someone else had the last one in their cart but they finally dropped it. I feel so victorious. O, online shopping, see what you do to me?

Here's the back, too:


I Think I'm in Love with My Radio

I was never a HUGE Beyonce fan. I've always loved her other half and have just about every one of his cds--one of the greatest artists of my generation if you ask me. I don't mean to suggest that I ever disliked Beyonce--I always liked Destiny's Child and enjoyed her work as a solo artist, but I hadn't owned a single album. I do see her as in many ways unparalleled in style, class and talent when it comes to the new breed of whatever genre it is in which you would place her. She's no Mariah and no Mary J.--there is only one Mary J.--but that's not to slight her talent in the least. It's just a different generation. So imagine my surprise at my new found love! Contrary to my usual m.o., I picked up her new album, I Am. . . Sasha Fierce yesterday. I'm so not a new cd buyer. I'm a chronic burner (just noticed how that could be construed. . . I meant as in I chronically burn c.d.s from others) and the majority of the music I listen to was made long before I was born. I do like rap, as in real rap not hip-hop silly stuff that they call rap nowadays. Anyhow. . . it seemed like B was making a major comeback with her last few songs, so I decided to pick it up. The c.d. is faaaabulous. My favorite tracks so far are "Radio" (line from post title) and "Diva." The Hov influence is strongly identifiable in "Diva" and I eagerly await a fantastical collaboration with him or another equally major rapper. There are some interesting influences which I'm still trying to place cropping up throughout the double-disc album. I'm hearing Prince in there, some Michael Jackson--no surprises here--but then I also hear her channeling more bluesy notes at times. Without question, I'm more partial to the Sasha Fierce half of the album. The beats are, how do you say? Bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

Here's "Diva," for your listening pleasure. . .

I've been super busy lately, so sorry for my lack of commenting on everyone's blog. Parent/teacher conferences this week are finally over, but more to come next week. . . commence dreaming of snow days. . .


Happiness Is a Warm Book (Or a Whole Stack)

While I'm working on Camilo Mejia's Road From ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia: An Iraq War Memoir, I have a new stack of books to look forward to, thanks to a bday gift certificate from my sister. I resisted the urge to spend it on books for the classroom library. Here are the newest additions to my rather unkempt bookshelf:

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris--can't wait for this! I read When You Are Engulfed in Flames over the summer and was so addicted I was sad to finish it.

Rimbaud Complete, the complete poetry & prose of Arthur Rimbaud--French anarchist and poet who quit poetry at 21 and died at 37. I couldn't resist!

The Poetry of Pablo Neruda, edited by Ilan Stavans and including the Elemental Odes. Nine hundred+ pages of Neruda = love.

Orientalism, by Edward Said--I studied excerpts in great depth in college for postcolonial studies but never owned the book myself. I employed the lens of this theory to analyze the seemingly innocuous Magic Tree House book series by Mary Pope Osbourne for a seminar. Loin clothed Masai warriors and magic carpet rides and anthropomorphism, o my.

Sundays are so bittersweet, aren't they?


Deafening Silence

Did you know about Leonard Peltier? I didn't. Here's his website, too.

I stumbled upon this quote of his, and just thought it was brilliant:

Silence, they say, is the voice of complicity.
But silence is impossible.
Silence screams.
Silence is a message,
just as doing nothing is an act.
Let who you are ring out & resonate
in every word & every deed.
Yes, become who you are.
There's no sidestepping your own being
or your own responsibility.
What you do is who you are.
You are your own comeuppance.
You become your own message.
You are the message.

I especially like the line, "You are your own comeuppance." I hold a belief that the idea of karma as something that comes around some day in the far-off future is a false notion. You live your karma every single day whether you lie to yourself or not--you still have to wake up to and fall asleep to your own thoughts and conscience. And we as a nation have to wake up and fall asleep with what we do to people--domestically and worldwide--and the crimes and injustices our government knowingly and forcefully commits. There is just no way that we won't have to deal with our national comeuppance if we continue to let things go on the way they are now.

His quote is important to me because I think I'm seeing my place in the world differently than I had before. I think that I understand more thoroughly what it mean to take action, even if I don't always fulfill the requirements. I used to imagine action as writing my representatives, which I did often and with gusto, but now I'm beginning to see that this is just a farce that we trick ourselves into believing will work. The action we need requires much more effort and entails much less comfort. I think Peltier's message says it perfectly.

Little Green, He's a Non-Conformer. . .

Neil Young on bailing out the big three.

Just another reason I love him! Add it to the pile.

Here's a taste:

"Detroit has had a long time to adapt to the new world and now the failure of Detroit's actions is costing us all. We pay the bailout. Let's make a good deal for the future of America and the Planet. Companies like UQM (Colorado) and others build great electric motors right here in the USA. Use these domestic electric motors. Put these people to work now. This plan reverses the flow from negative to positive because people need and will buy clean and green cars to be part of World Change."

Now, all, don't think I'm that naive. I know the limitations of electric cars just as much as I know the limitations of ethanol. The electric cars still have to be powered, and thus they still are using energy from somewhere. But what's wonderful about what Young is saying is the idea that we could use this time of trouble as a way forward, as a way to step in the direction of higher fuel efficiency and lower dependence on foreign oil. And better yet, he's talking about a way to secure the lives of millions of Americans who are employed by the Big 3, not a way to keep the fat cats on the dole longer--in fact, he says, get'em outta there. And that sounds great to me.

Here's a piece the NYT did on Young's Lincoln turn electric car. I <3 the title. And he buys his grassoline from a spot in Pacifica! That just happens to be the very location that I briefly inhabited after high school.


Trick Ourselves in Portable Stanzas

Just a lovely stanza and a half from T. S. Eliot's "Gerontion"

After such knowledge, what forgiveness? Think now
History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors
And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions,
Guides us by vanities. Think now
She gives when our attention is distracted
And what she gives, gives with such supply confusions
That the giving famishes the craving. Gives too late
Into weak hands, what's thought can be dispensed with
Till the refusal propagates a fear. Think
Neither fear nor courage saves us. Unnatural vices
Are fathered by our heroism. Virtues
Are forced upon us by our impudent crimes.
There tears are shaken from the wrath-bearing tree.

The tiger springs in the new year. Us he devours. Think
at last
We have not reached conclusion, when I
Stiffen in a rented house. Think at last
I have not made this show purposelessly
And it is not by any concitation
Of the backwards devils
I would meet you upon this honestly.


He Said, She Said, They Said, We Said

These are the days of our lives. . .

Do you ever feel like some things never change? This town just isn't big enough sometimes.



Here we come.

Big Brother is Watching . . . ME. Fancy that.

As I sit watching Democracy Now coverage of the election, highlights of which will be enumerated below, I was just rifling through my sitemeter records. You'd be surprised how many people really end up viewing your blog, if only for 1 second on their way to finding what they're looking for, and the referrals page is always most interesting to me. I love to see how people originally stumbled upon my blog, even if they weren't looking for it. So, I check out a referral that says blogs were searched for the following key phrase: "redeployed and Iraq and mental." Hm. So, I open the link just to see. Then, I wonder the next logical question--who in the world is google blog searching such an awkward phrase?

Well, folks, have a look for yourselves:

Domain Name
osd.mil ? (Military)
IP Address
134.152.182.# (The Pentagon)
The Pentagon
Continent : North America
Country : United States (Facts)
State : Virginia
City : Arlington
Lat/Long : 38.8782, -77.1054 (Map)
Distance : 156 miles
English (U.S.)
Operating System
Microsoft WinXP
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv: Gecko/2008070208 Firefox/3.0.1
version 1.5
Resolution : 1024 x 768
Color Depth : 32 bits
Time of Visit
Oct 27 2008 11:45:19 am
Last Page View
Oct 27 2008 11:45:19 am
Visit Length
0 seconds
Page Views
Referring URL
http://blogsearch.go...al&btnG=Search Blogs
Search Engine
Search Words
redeployed and iraq and mental
Visit Entry Page
Visit Exit Page
Out Click

Time Zone
Visitor's Time
Oct 27 2008 12:45:19 pm
Visit Number

THE PENTAGON. FOR REAL? For real. Do they really have nothing better to do? Someone needs to give me a job doing blog searches all damn day long. "Redeployed and Iraq and mental?" Really?

But let's think about this. Why might the Pentagon be concerned with employing some grunt to conduct such a search? Are they becoming concerned, perhaps, that the public is on to the shameful treatment of Iraq soldiers and veterans? Of Iraqi families and children? Are they worried that the whole "P.F.C. Jane Doe, you had a preexisting condition, silly, you already had borderline personality disorder. So f you and the PTSD horse you rode in on" shtick is getting old? Well, it is. It's getting old and soldiers are committing suicide in record numbers. So maybe the Pentagon should be worried.

Ok, on to the highlights of this evening's Democracy Now broadcast, thus far (yes I am this much of a nerd):

-Tim Robbins detailing his story of not being on the voter roll at a location at which he has voted in the LAST 4 presidential elections, if I understood him correctly, as well as numerous local ones, and then waiting 5 HOURS after refusing to leave the polling place and having his right to stay supported by 2 NYC POLICE OFFICERS and his right to vote guaranteed by a judge; 30 OTHER PEOPLE had the same trouble this morning at Robbins' polling location.

-Bob Fitrakis' discussion of possible shadiness a'brewin in Warren County, Ohio--you can get the low-down here, though the O-man has already won that state so it's sort of a non-issue I suppose.

-Jeremy Scahill questioning Tim Robbins on his full support for Obama despite Obama's hawkish rhetoric and Robbins' outspoken support for ending the war; the issue of critical support--meaning support coupled with a critical eye--is key in this and any election

-Discussion of voter disenfranchisement and race, including oppressive tactics such as voter roll purging and misinformation regarding identification requirements at polls

So Big Brother is watching me--he must be watching you, too. I guess if he only clocked "0 seconds," I'm deemed not a threat to national security. I don't know whether to feel affronted or relieved. Or amused. But I'm labeling this post recognition, so I suppose I've answered my own question. Then again, I'm also labeling it g.w. is a d.b.