Blind to You

Note to self: keep your thoughts- the things about which you ponder, your opinions, the topics about which you are knowledgeable, your ignorances- to yourself. Otherwise people whom you barely know will call you out and pick you apart.

The comment wars. How we spend our time debating subjects on Facebook, bullying people, or simply being rude to them when in real life we would never act this way. The veil of the Internet allows sharpness and a disregard for others’ feelings to come out. The social barriers of kindness are gone when the medium is a keyboard or thumbs on an iPhone in lieu of a voice, of eye contact, of facial expressions and body language. It is so easy to hurt people whom you barely know in this fashion. It might even make the perpetrator LOL in the process.

I am not perfect and do not know everything about everything. I am not a cultural expert on the world. However, I understand that black women’s hair can be a very contentious issue, and I know Shakira’s ethnic background because she is my idol and I probably know too many random details about her life. I love Shakira and Beyoncé, the subjects of a Facebook status that I posted. I recently watched Beyoncé’s music video for her song “Blue,” and my favorite part of the video was the fact that her hair was “perfect” in my eyes: long, wavy, silky, and light blonde with dark roots. I then wondered why I loved hair that looked like a white woman’s hair. Additionally, Shakira is one of my “hair idols.” I envy her natural wild curls and love her hair when it is dyed blonde.

Fuck. I dye my hair blonde.

Beyoncé is African-American, and Shakira, though born in Colombia, is of Lebanese, Spanish, and Italian descent. My Facebook status in question was pondering why these two women choose to dye their hair blonde when, according to my knowledge at the time of posting, it was pretty obvious that they are not naturally blonde due to their ethnicities. I totally believe that people can do whatever they want with their appearance, including their hair. Again, I think that Shakira and Beyoncé have beautiful hair. However, there is a cultural phenomenon called a standard of beauty, and in too many places around the world, beauty is associated with having lighter skin color, hair color, and eye color. I was hoping that Beyoncé and Shakira weren’t trying to meet this standard and instead choose to go blonde simply because they like it.

I dye my hair blonde because I like it. I am also of German, Swedish, either Russian or Lithuanian but my mom doesn’t know for sure, French, and Irish descent. I have pale skin and green eyes. It is pretty common for people from my particular ethnic backgrounds to have naturally blonde hair, and so I sometimes I think that I can pass for being a natural blonde. I also live in a place that is sunny all of the time which contributes somewhat to the lightness of my hair.

I learned after posting my status from a commenter that some Middle Eastern women naturally have pale skin and light hair and eye color. I am glad that I now know that and am a little bit less ignorant on that subject.

However, I had a couple of other commenters “calling me out” for the fact that I, too, dye my hair blonde. One commenter whom I met one time two years ago and haven’t spoken to since said, “Posts a status about how weird it is that other women dye their hair. Dyes her own hair. LOL.”

You know what? I do think it’s kind of weird that the two arguably most famous pop stars in the world dye their hair blonde- yet I dye my hair blonde. I also think it’s weird that someone came up with the idea of shaving one’s legs and armpits- yet I shave my legs and armpits. It’s weird that a lot of men will pay for dinner on a first date with a woman- yet I have let men pay for me on a first date. It’s weird that in our society, we respond, “Good!” to the question of “How are you?” regardless of the fact that we may be doing poorly- yet I tell people all the time that I’m “Good!” I think it’s weird that someone came up with the idea of painting one’s nails, and I don’t paint my nails. It’s weird that humans have consciousness and plants don’t. It’s weird that we don’t know what happens after we die.

I like to dance weirdly sometimes. I am prone to meowing randomly. I once went through a phase in which I greeted people by saying, “Hiiiieeeeeee.” I also went through a Scrunchie phase. I don’t ever want to have children.

Weird is not bad. Weird is curiosity-inducing, thought-provoking. Weird is fun.

Or maybe that is just my own weird opinion.

There are things about me that are weird. There are things about life and the world that are weird. There are in things in my culture that I think are weird but in which I partake anyway. I’m a fucking hypocrite, guys. Isn’t it weird how “guys” can be a genderless way to address people but “girls” is not?

Anyhow, I’m entitled to my own thoughts, opinions, and ability to ponder the world around me with my sociology glasses on. I’m a sensitive person and a lot of the time cannot handle the backlash that comes from being a human being with a voice and an opinion- but perhaps I should work on maintaining confidence in my own voice and even my own human imperfection as opposed to bowing down to people who disagree with me or who are flat out mean to me.

As Collie Buddz once said, “I’m blind to you, fucking haters.”

Ataturk

Maybe freedom is worth the ones whom we love
To hop on a train down the Côte d’Azur
or to fly into Ataturk
is so much better than happiness
Sometimes I wish that I could be old
and skip to the part where love matters most
Or I pray for selfishness
Because different maps excite us
and that’s normal
But I hate normal because it hurts so bad

Stand It

How much does it hurt?
I miss the smell of his shirt
I’m too high on caffeine for this to work
Into you I ran
Open mic night champ
I can’t stand it
I wore short shorts
But I fell to the floor
When you didn’t want me anymore
You played shamisen, they’d never heard it before
You held down the floor with photos and videos
I want to go home
I must paint my face like the clown that I am
You bring me down, man
I don’t know if I can
Prop myself up with my own hands
Again and again you leave me out of your plans
And you don’t give a damn
I’m not worthy of your time or your text back
But you’re not worthy of my heart attacks
Come back

Amurrican Gurrl

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Okay that photo is not completely related to the topic of this post, but I thought that it was funny…

Sometimes, I like to pretend like I’m this global citizen- I mean, hello, I’ve lived and traveled in Europe, I’ve been to India, I read Al Jazeera for my news, and I can conversationally speak another language. Look at me. Yet, I am not immune to my own cultural upbringing and have noticed some particularly American behaviors in which I partake.

For example, I am currently eating scrambled eggs at 3:50 P.M. and writing this at the same time. Not only am I multitasking- a creation of the fast-paced American lifestyle- but I am doing to worst type of multitasking at all: eating and doing something else at the same time. Hell, eating and (sort of, does this count as work?) working simultaneously. While people in a lot of other countries actually sit down and have proper meals with their families, I regularly eat whilst writing, driving, cleaning, or getting ready for the day or to go out. I don’t always view mealtime as a way to relax and reconnect with my family- I too often see it as something to get over with so that I can accomplish more things. I also eat at really strange times of the day, such as now, and I eat breakfast foods at non-breakfast times. I remember regularly eating eggs at 5:00 PM in Paris and my host family thinking that I was really bizarre. Okay, that might be a bizarre thing to do in America as well…

I also drive everywhere, seeing as my attempts at biking in America are very stress-inducing. Sometimes, I drive places that are a few blocks away from my house. Actually, I do that all the time. When I lived in Paris and even Seattle, I didn’t have a car and subsequently just walked or took public transportation everywhere. In those places, there was infrastructure and a culture that made a car-free life, for the most part, effortless (totally effortless in Paris, doable in Seattle). I live in a culture of cars now however, so I drive. Not driving is hard, man!

Finally, I don’t know how many kilos I weigh, I drink hazelnut iced coffees at work every day (in Europe coffee comes in one of two formats: a shot of espresso or a cappuccino), I don’t put milk in my English Breakfast tea, I call it a “craype” and pronounce Ximeno Street “eggs-em-in-oh,” and I’ve been told that I may or may not talk like a Valley Girl…

At least I don’t shop at Wal-Mart or eat at McDonald’s? Fuck, I had McDonald’s fries last night… that I bought from the drive-thru and then ate in the car on my way home… they’re just so damn good!

True Happiness

I’m about to do some unabashed bragging/getting personal about my life, but I think that I deserve it because the last 6 months were nothing short of difficult. But now, I genuinely love my life. I live in a city that I love, and I’ve been letting go of people and situations that no longer serve me. I’ve been meeting wonderful new friends and people who inspire me to be my best, happiest self and artist. I’ve been letting go of trying to live up to society’s expectations and have been living my life for me. Things now seem to fall into place effortlessly. I feel happy in this here present moment- not “when I move there,” “when I travel there,” “when I quit this job,” “when my yoga certification is over,” or “when I get this boyfriend.” I’m loving the journey and not the destination, because y’all, there is no destination!

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The Plight of the Cyclist in America

Today, in the mood to be active and eco-friendly, I decided to ride my bike to yoga class and other errands that I had to do in lieu of driving. Instead of the universe supporting me, I was honked at about 5 times and even had one woman physically get out of her car when we were at a stoplight to inform me that I was blocking the flow of traffic. Why? I was doing what is called “taking the lane,” wherein a cyclist rides in the middle of the far right lane instead of the far right of the far right lane. According to California state law, one is supposed to take the lane when there is no bike lane and there is not enough room in the lane for a bike and a car to be side-by-side. Have you ever encountered riding your bike in the far right of the far right lane, and a car will scarily try to go around you by being one foot into the next lane and one foot away from you- as opposed to properly switching out of the lane in order to pass you? Yeah, it’s scary and unsafe. Taking the lane prevents this from happening, so that vehicles that want to pass you must do so properly. 

Riding around on these Southern Californian streets, lacking in bike lanes and not wide enough for a vehicle plus me, I took the lane- and confidently so! Yet, I was apparently a nuisance to all of these drivers who are unaware of the law and/or dislike cyclists who “impede their flow.” Instead of encouraging cycling, which tackles global warming, rising gas prices, and American obesity, cyclists in the U.S. are bullied out on the road and put into dangerous situations; I certainly feel less inclined to ride my bike now, knowing how ruthless and unaccommodating motorists are as well as how few bike lanes there are in my neighborhood. I also forgot to mention the fact that I had nowhere to lock my bike at any of the places that I went to today- I had to improvise by, in one instance, locking my bike up to a pole that was in some plants, and then another time to a gate that caused my bike to block the entrance to yoga class. It’s hard out there for a cyclist. (Check out this video that a Dutch man made about this topic, where he describes how much more accommodating The Netherlands are to cyclists than the U.S. is

city-biking

Why do Americans- and Southern Californians in particular- love their cars so much? Yes, Southern California is very spread out and suburban, and for someone living in a suburb that is far from his or her work, riding one’s bike or taking the bus for an hour plus is not always feasible. Don’t even get me started on our pitiful public transportation system- wherein going somewhere that takes 15-20 minutes via driving is oftentimes 1 hour or more on two different buses. We in the greater Los Angeles area thus know how much harder it is to ride one’s bike instead of driving; simultaneously, we are supposed to be so eco-friendly and health-conscious. Yet, again, instead of encouraging cyclists for their eco-friendly and health-conscious behavior, people in giant SUVs regularly whizz by scared cyclists just trying to do the right thing.

Ultimately, being a physically active and happy person in America is not normal. I read a fantastic article in Experience Life magazine on this topic- how, given that “2/3 of American adults are overweight or obese,” and, “the top-selling prescription drugs are meds for blood pressure, cholesterol, depression, and heartburn — all lifestyle-related conditions that can be greatly improved or healed through lifestyle changes,” and “about 70 percent of us regularly take at least one prescription drug. More than 50 percent take at least two,” it is literally not normal to be healthy and happy in this country. Our “new normal” is being overweight and on a prescription drug or two for blood pressure and depression. Thus, a person trying to be more active by riding his or her bike is quite radical and a threat to the overweight, angry people sitting in their cars. 

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Yet, what is particularly interesting in this article is how the author, Pilar Gerasimo, frames it as a sociological problem instead of a “if you’re fat, then you’re lazy” problem. She says, “What does it mean that our society reliably produces more unhealthy, unhappy, vulnerable people than healthy, happy, resilient ones?” As Krishnamurti once said, “It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” 

So, if you are trying to ride your bike out there and feel hurt or angered by mean motorists, just remember that you are the one making a positive change for yourself and society- and they are not. And you are quite brave for navigating streets that have little to no bike infrastructure! Go you!