Friday, September 21, 2007


I suspect this will be long, so I'm dividing it into three parts.
Part 1: Moving Scariness
We're moving next Saturday. We picked the day, and I reserved a U-Haul which I hope to freaking god works out okay (I hear they have a history of not having an actual truck for you regardless of your reservation status). BUT. Tabitha might well have to work all day, like from 7 AM to 10 at night because she's still doing brunch at work and working on a play at the same time. I have a rehearsal that can't be moved in Evanston from 4-7. And we can't pick up the truck at all until 1 and it has to be back at 9 the next morning. So we might be moving in the middle of the night or something. Plus we are not even close to packed and ready yet. It's going to be a good week.
Part 2: Corporate Qualms
Tabitha has, up until now, worked in a locally-owned family-owned restaurant. She works 50 or more hours most weeks, can't really ask for time off to speak of, and is exhausted and sick a lot of the time. So this week, she applied, interviewed and was hired by Starbucks. As you can imagine, I feel very very very conflicted about this. I know in my heart that no matter how good Starbucks tries to be (and I have to admit, it does seem like they do try, and it's pretty well-known that they are better-than-average at treating the people who work in their stores, if not people elsewhere), they are still a giant world-dominating megacorporation who probably is responsible for many bad and terrible things happening all over the world. I believe it will be better for Tabitha. She'll make more money than she does now and have health insurance and hopefully not be dead on her feet quite so often. She'll also be able to do theater because she'll have a more flexible schedule, which is what she came here to do in the first place. And her manager seems like a genuinely good person, who wants to bring local art, musicians, and performance into his store and distance it from it's corporate identity.
But it's STARBUCKS. I feel sick in my soul knowing that a place that embodies so much that I hate is probably going to save my girlfriend from abject poverty and stress-related illness. I feel awful knowing that I encouraged her to apply because I was worried about her where she is now, and I think that I know no one else who needs health insurance half as much as she does and this is that only way I can see that happening anytime soon. I called (well, texted first, because it was late) Erica a week or two ago in the middle of the night to ask her if I was the devil for supporting this. I just don't know.
This brings me to part 3.
Part 3: Extreme Emotional Shake-Up
I spontaneously decided a few days ago to re-read Inga Muscio's Autobiography of a Blue-Eyed Devil. It's about white supremacist racism, essentially, and everything wrong with the world in a more general sense. I blogged about it the last time I read it, and how it basically crushed me and made me feel totally hopeless and overwhelmed and I couldn't deal with it in any way. I started out better this time, using the information I was learning to try and think about how I live in the world and what I could do to see stuff around me more clearly. But now, I'm a bit closer to where I was before.
There's just so much horrible shit in the world, and so much of it has been caused by the American government, media, and people. And even though I know that with certainly, reading in depth about the complete overwhelming nature of racism makes me feel impossibly sad. How to explain? There is so little that I do every day that even indirectly challenges the nature of the really bad stuff around me, and I freakin try and think about such things on a daily basis. And a shitload of people aren't even trying. I feel so strongly that I need to change the way I go about things and try and address some of these giant major issues, but I also have this awful feeling that the further I venture in that direction the worse the whole rest of all the world is going to seem. I don't know if I am a strong enough person to really open myself up to the pain of looking around me and trying to really analyze and think about it. All day. Every day. I fully admit that I've moved away from critically and consciously analyzing things that lie beyond my own immediate day-to-day life in the last couple of years, and that is a shitty thing to have to admit to myself.
For instance, prisons. SAS people, y'all remember all those prison statistics, like the giant percentage of young black men in jail and the stratospheric skyrocketing increase in prison population caused by laws that target nonviolent drug offenders? That is still the most horrific thing for me to read about, and revisiting the reality of the US prison system (which I had apparently blocked out and rarely thought about since my SAS days) makes me want to get my ass out and try and do something. Which is good, you know? I am glad that I can feel that again. But at the same time, looking at how the prison industrial complex is just part of this gigantic system of oppression and racism and classism and all the various other things that feed into the way the prison system has come to function leads me to an exponential amount of heartbreak. I just am not quite sure how to deal with it.
I want desperately to be critically involved in my own life. I just can't quite wrap my brain around how to do that without becoming incredibly depressed and overwhelmed. I feel like to fully immerse myself would require me to reject such a vast amount of the world around me.
I guess maybe that's part of the point. I don't want to embrace stuff that, if I looked at it critically and learned more about it, I would never choose to take part in. But then where do things like Tabitha working at Starbucks fit in? I do think that, for her right at this moment (and for a lot of people our age, frankly) that it's a somewhat viable option. It's a way for her to survive and make the art that she wants to make. And probably there are other ways to do that, and maybe this is the easy way out, and I still feel my heart cringe from writing what I just wrote. When you live in an environment where a job that enables you to still have a real life outside of it is a job that serves a giant multinational corporation, what do you do? Are we making good choices, or just easy ones?
I haven't said this well, and I'm almost afraid to post it. I don't want people to think poorly of me. But I desperately need to get out at least a tiny unclear portion of all the thoughts swirling in my head right now, because I feel sometimes like I'm going crazy. Maybe I'll be able to write a little more clearly later. I hope I can reconcile this awful overwhelming depressing feeling of knowledge (and that my knowledge is a drop in the giant pool of what I don't know) and be able to hold onto the parts of this that can help me be a better pro-active person in my community. I hope. I am not giving up, but the struggle to maintain my heart with my lived reality is painful right now. God, I feel like such a shit person for some of this. Sigh... This should probably be a journal entry, not a blog post. But I can't bring myself to not put it up now, even if I'm not sure I said everything I mean or made it clear what exactly I do mean. I should stop now, or this is never going to end.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine anyone on earth thinking poorly of you for this. I have a thousand thoughts whipping through my brain about this now, and of course, no way to verbalize them. Wonderful sense that makes: a writer who can't communicate her thoughts. But anyway, just wanted to let you know I was reading and thinking about what you said. I think you said things pretty clearly and I also think it's okay to be confused about things...and I want to say more, but my brain is fried from a million things I wish I didn't have to think about instead. Ugh.
Take care...let me know if you need help moving things or if you'd like to get together when you guys are settled.