Thursday, December 29, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
So, I've been trying to be more creative in my cooking by inventing something different yet recreatable. Result? Unique Christmas cookies. My best idea (at least according to my super sweet tooth) is cherry blossoms.
For 2 dozen,
1t vanilla extract
1T cherry juice (from a jar of maraschino cherries)
2 dozen maraschino cherries
Cream butter and sugar, with mix wet ingredients.
In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients (except cherries). Add butter mix.
Roll dough into 3/4 inch balls, and roll in sugar. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
When you remove them from oven, push 1 cherry into each cookie.
Enjoy. A lot.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Friday, August 5, 2011
Monday, August 1, 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Monday, May 23, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
Friday, May 6, 2011
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Monday, May 2, 2011
1) Believe that I exist. Despite ongoing scientific research that seems so determined to disprove the existence of bisexuality plus the general lack of interest by the greater gay and lesbian community in acknowledging us, we really do exist.
2) When I tell you I'm bisexual, please don't try to talk me into redefining my identity into something more comfortable for you. Please don't tell me that if I haven't been sexual with more than one sex in the last three, five, or ten years that I am no longer bisexual.
3) Celebrate bisexual culture along with me. We have a vibrant and rich cultural history within the bi community. Not only do we have fabulous examples of cultural communities that accepted and practiced bisexual living/loving--Bloomsbury Group, Greenwich Village, Harlem Renaissance--but from Sappho to Walt Whitman to Virginia Woolf to James Baldwin to June Jordan, we have many daring voices that have expressed love beyond the monosexual confines.
4) Please don't try to convince me that people who lived bisexual lives in the past would have been gay if they had lived today. You don't know that, I don't know that, and your insistence that it is true says that you believe that people were bisexual only out of necessity, not by desire. I believe there have always been bisexual people just as you may believe there have always been gay and lesbian people.
5) Validate my frustration with the gay and lesbian community when they ignore or exclude bisexuals. Please don't try and defend an action such as a keynote speaker who is addressing a GLBT audience but consistently says "gay and lesbian" when referring to all of us. It bothers me, so even if you don't think it's that important yourself, please don't try and talk me out of my feelings.
6) Ask me, if appropriate, about my other-sex relationships and my same-sex relationships. Bisexuals live our lives in multiple ways. Some of us are monogamous and we would like to discuss that relationship openly with the people in our lives, no matter whom it is with. Some of us have more than one relationship going on and we'd like to be able to share that with others without feeling judgment.
7) If there is some sort of bisexual scandal in the news, don't use it as an opportunity to make derisive remarks about bisexuals generally. As we know, all communities have examples of "bad behavior," and painting everyone with the same brush doesn't create much understanding between us.
8) When I'm not around, or any other bisexual, speak up when bisexual people are being defamed or excluded. It's great when we can witness your support, but I'd love to know you are helping us even when we are not looking. You'll be the best ally possible!
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Ethics and the Righteous Lumpen
We share so much of our society with our lumpen dopefiends than we care to admit. We live in the same cities, we have the same people in powerful positions making decisions and we share many of the same norms and structures. We went to the same schools, joined the same military (or at least claimed we did), and use the same hospitals when we're ill. While homeless drug addicts are invisible and ignored by everyone but each other, we cannot ignore the fact that we are completely intertwined with them. If they had had a different situation as a child, or made different choices, they wouldn't be one of “them,” they would be us.
However, are they so similar to us? Their addiction to heroin is the most important thing in their lives. Bourgois and Schonberg claim that the righteous dopefiends have sacrificed everything in order to satisfy their heroin addiction. Getting their heroin fix is more important than keeping a job, their family, their social status and even their dignity. They have given up our morals and norms and placed themselves outside of society. They are lumpen because society does not consider them to be worth inclusion. This group of social flotsam is considered to be the lowest of the low who have given up our moral standards.
But have they? Despite their rejection from social norms and morals, they also strive to achieve the “good life.” Tina and Carter make a home together, for example. Many of them try to prove they're not as bad as the others (for example, Tina doesn't consider herself a prostitute, the black heroin addicts do not skin pop, others claim they were veterans) and they have justification for their actions. They don't want to be like this, so they create separate bedrooms in their camps and make promises about “when they're sober.” They create a “good life” through finding a running partner, someone with whom they share their belongings, who they can take care of and who can take care of them. They are not part of society, but they maintain the norms of social lives within their lumpen group. They do not have to conform to the norms and morals of America, but they make attempts to still participate.
How alike are mainstream Americans and those who are excluded from it? In our behavior, we are alike. The norms of family and sharing and racialized behavior are still prevalent in the dopefiend camps. However, when it comes down to thin morality and values, the drug addicts have replaced their morality with addiction. When there is room for other norms and values, they follow them. But even Sonny skin pops when he cannot find a vein, and Tina will sell her sex for drugs. Taboos are easily broken, and morals set aside in order to avoid being dopesick. Unlike Stephen's idea that we are morally alike in thin ways and when we put them into practice, the thick morals are different, it seems as if with the lumpen, the reverse is true. Our behavior is similar in our strive for the “good life,” but what is morally good is different. For them, good is avoiding dopesickness at any cost. For us, while we avoid human suffering, we can still drive by or walk past without being moved to help them. We have other values and morals that take precedence over helping people avoid becoming dopesick.
In fact, we do not even pity those who are dopesick. We hope that by being dopesick in their jail cell, they'll be able to kick the habit. We take hope in their suffering, because we see their suffering as a consequence of their choices. Do they deserve this forced suffering? What do they deserve from mainstream Americans, who have the power in the relationship? With our value of easing human suffering, it would seem logical that they deserve medical care to ease the side effects of addiction, such as treatment of abscesses, or even small doses of medicine while in jail. However, they do not receive it. Furthermore, their shelter is repeatedly taken from them because we have decided that people should not live under overpasses, making them exposed and without a home. As fellow humans, they deserve dignity, but we do not give it to them. They partially take it away from themselves, as a result of the dopesickness and poor cleanliness habits. However, when we pretend they don't exist or ignore them, we take away their dignity and humanity. When we treat them as things that don't even deserve to be in the hospital, we rob them of what dignity they have left.
This raises the question: if avoidance of suffering is truly part of our morals, why don't we help them? Why do we drive by? Why do we look at everything but the face of the man who is asking for money downtown? Why do the police clean up their camps, as if taking away their home will make them disappear, as well? Why do the doctors in the hospital take all day before helping the man with maggots in his leg? Perhaps because we see it as hopeless for us to try to ease their suffering. Perhaps it is because we see them as choosing to suffer. Perhaps this suffering isn't easily fixed by a donation or a race, the way a cleft palate or cancer supposedly is. We don't donate our Facebook statuses to homeless dopefiends. How do we help to alleviate their suffering? The only easy solution is to ignore the problem. If we consider these homeless drug users to be choosing their own fate, to be outside of our concern, we are allowed to ignore them.
Our treatment of homeless addicts raises the issues of choice. What role does choice play in all of this? Did they actually make the choice to use drugs in the first place? There are many other factors involved in drug use besides the individuals decision to inject heroin. The presence of drugs in their life, whether or not other people in their life use drugs, how they've been taught to cope with adversity, their class, their family life, etc all go in to someones likelihood of using drugs. If someone has so many social factors stacked up against them, it becomes less of a choice to use drugs and more of a choice to not use drugs.
Similarly, do we actively make the choice to ignore and judge them? Rarely are homeless heroin addicts portrayed in the media except as a social problem. Few people in society help or talk to the panhandlers who may or may not be drug users (but we assume they probably are). We're taught to avoid them and stop staring when we're young children, and our parents roll up the windows and lock the doors when there's a homeless person begging on the side of the highway. Is it any surprise that we ignore them?
How can we learn from Righteous Dopefiend? How do we judge them with this new awareness of the issues surrounding homelessness and drug addiction? Do we even have the right to judge them, knowing their moral standards are different from our own? Should we judge them for their choices in lifestyle, even if it's not a complete choice? Furthermore, how do we judge ourselves when we see ourselves doing nothing? This book leaves more questions than answers, not only about the dopefiends, but also about ourselves and our understanding of morality.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Today is our last day in Thailand. Sad! I don't want to leave Thailand. I want to travel around to different cities and get out of Bangkok. I feel so anxious in Bangkok because it's always crowded and busy and takes forever to get anywhere. Ah well, Sabai Sabai!
We get up early this morning to go to the Floating Market, which is about an hour and a half out of Bangkok. It's like other markets, only the stalls are boats, and we're in boats and the vendors hook us with poles and pull us in to their boats. I like markets, but they all sell the same things, and when you don't have the option to walk away, it gets a little irritating to keep saying no and ignoring the vendor til your boatman starts paddling more. It was fun once we got to walk around, though. I bought a tacky hat/fan and a pretty green tunic shirt, which is probably a dress on Thai people. Too Tall for Thailand!
After, we ate lunch at a fancy hotel, where we were reunited with Julia, our classmate who has been in the hospital with pneumonia for a few days. One of the waiters was the Thai version of Neil Patrick Harris. I should have taken a picture. We debriefed as a class, and one person did the last presentation (the partner of Julia, who did a presentation for Ryan at the hospital instead, because we weren't sure she'd be out before everyone else left). Then we went to MBK, the giant shopping mall of Bangkok. It's not so great. Too much stuff to be able to enjoy it. Not many people from our class bought anything there. There are 7 floors, and each store has the same products as all the other stores on the floor. I don't know how they stay in business.
Then the group of 4 I was with grabbed the water taxi home. The water taxis have stops at different places along the river and canals, and you just wait on the side of the dock in the direction you want to go until the boat comes along. Then you climb in the boat, which was holding a couple dozen people, and a ticket lady walks around the outside of the boat on a small ledge (about 4 inches), and gives you a ticket for however much baht that taxi costs (9baht in this case). It's pretty fun. It's like a boatbus. We got out on the last stop, which is closest to our hotel, but is also in a super busy intersection with about 8 different roads coming into it, in a confusing area of Bangkok (aren't all areas of Bangkok confusing?). Hence, we got lost. Crossed a lot of roads, walked a lot. Finally, we gave in and got a tuktuk to bring us home. We paid 100baht to go about 6 blocks. However, they were 6 blocks we never would have thought to walk. We would have wandered for hours, lost, asking people for directions and getting different advice each time.
Anyway, we went to dinner at 6pm. We ate on a tourist dinner boat, with a dance show. Similar to the Lanna dinner when we left Chiang Mai, we got a show of traditional Thai dance and music. The food was as good and yet also as odd as the Lanna dinner. The boat trip was very nice though, and we had a good time. Dessert was fruit (pineapple, papaya and roseapple, which is delicious and you should try some if you can find it in the states) and traditional Thai dessert, which were all these gummy jelly things, and a prune, served in individual banana leaf bowls. Oddest things, but they tasted good.
When we got back, I went to get my finished suits. They look awesome, and I got 2 custom-tailored suits for 4000baht, or approximately $135 dollars. The jackets look best. I never look good in jackets, because my body type is too boyish for women's jackets, and men's jackets aren't fitted enough for me. I look great! Especially with my new haircut. I was also videotaped and photographed for their promotional material because I won their special promotion. Also, they included the garmet bag, which means I also have something in which to carry my winter coat! Thanks, komodo dragons! I appreciate the fortune you've brought me!
Now, since we leave for the airport at 3am, I'm going to go let fish eat my feet, maybe get a facial or something, and drink lots of coffee so I can sleep on the second flight and get a normal Minnesotan time sleep. I'll allow myself to sleep in 11 or 12hours, even though I've been up for 17 already today. I would rather get over jetlag fairly quickly.
Overall, I'm really glad I came to Thailand, and I am sad to be leaving, but I want to come back one day, and spend some time in other regions of Thailand and Asia.
Today was our second free day! I organized a trip to the beach (about 2 hours away) for 16 of us. Unfortunately, one is in the hospital with pneumonia, so only 15 of us went. It was so nice to go to the beach, though. The sun was hot, the breeze was cool and the water was like bathwater. We decided we were done with crazy tourist locations, so we went to the “locals” beach called Cha-am. More farang were on the beach than locals, but it was still much less crowded and fewer vendors. Lovely day overall, with a nice lunch of chicken burger with pineapple and a pineapple smoothie. Yum!
When we got back, I showered quickly, and then went to get adjustments on my custom-tailored suits. Hoorah! Now it's on to paper-writing. Boo...
Today we went on a touristy day with Tony, our tour guide. We left early in the morning, and started off the day at a meditation center. We pull up to the curb, and step out into this wonderland just outside of Bangkok. The meditation center is also a nunnery. No monks, only nuns. They're so cute with their shaved heads and white robes. Also, they are much nicer than the monk at the meditation center we went to before. Their garden is walled in, but you can hear the sounds of traffic and construction amid the sounds of fountains and birds. There was no large Buddha statue. Instead, a pagoda with a relic inside was in the center of the room, with circles of flowers surrounding it. Much less imposing when we're all in a circle, instead of facing the monk at the head of the room with a huge Buddha behind him. We did a quick prayer, then went outside for 10 minutes of meditation before the nun arrived. The nunnery was founded in 1988, and provides parenting classes to pregnant women and families (including single-parent families), in addition to the meditation retreats it offers. I wish we had done our meditation retreat there. Ah well. The nun we spoke to mostly translated Thai through Tony and her novice, but she could speak English a little, and was fluent in Hmong. She actually was Hmong, and was glad to talk to our Hmong-American students on the trip. We then took a tour of the center grounds. It is so peaceful and open, yet removed from the busy city. There were ponds and statues and winding forest paths, and new construction of a waterfall into the irrigation ditch, so it would be more part of nature.
After, she gave us books and sent us on our way to Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya was the old capital of Thailand until the early 1700s, when Burma invaded for the second time and destroyed most of the city. The ruins of the royal wats are still there, and that's what we went to see. The temple grounds are so extensive, and we could wander for an hour and not see the same place twice. The pagodas are mostly opened because they would place a persons valuables in them with their ashes when they died, so grave robbers have opened them and taken the gold, etc. Also, all of the Buddha statues (hundreds of them), are missing their heads. All of the gold has been removed, and the heads cut off to sell. Bad karma for the cutter, but lots of money, too. There is an iconic image of the head of a Buddha that has been absorbed by the roots of the bodhi tree, and the body disappeared. It was pretty cool to see. Almost as if the holy tree were retaining at least one head for the temple, when the rest were cut off and sold on the black market.
We then went to the Summer Palace, near Ayutthaya. This is where the royal family goes for the summer (thanks, Captian Obvious), and was the royal palace of the old Thai kingdom. There are many ponds there, and it's near a river, so it's easy to see why they go there in the summer. Natural air conditioning! Anyway, we took farang pictures with bushes shaped like animals, and walked around the grounds. We noticed a large reptile on the edge of a pond. Is that a baby crocodile? Then it turned to look at us. A komodo dragon! Cool! We then saw another and another, all in or around the ponds. We ran into Tony, who told us they had moved in and no one removed them. They used to be bad luck to see, but it changed when they were found on the palace grounds to mean fortune and wealth. I guess a cultural construct is easier to change than it would be to remove a dozen komodo dragons. He also told us they were wild and dangerous and we should keep our distance if we saw more. We then turned around the building we were near only to see three of our classmates about two feet from one of the dragons. One was trying to pet it. It was tasting the air. “Anna! Get back!” They didn't hear us. Finally, Katrina yells “Anna! Those are wild and dangerous!” They scurried back to the path quickly. You should youtube videos of komodo dragons hunting. Scary stuff!
Anyway, when we got back to the hotel, I noticed the tailor shop in the lobby was having their grand opening party. So, I go in and enter my name in the drawing for a free suit. I also tell everyone else in my class about it. Guess who won the free custom-made suit? I did! Guess the komodo dragon paid off, after all. I can pick it up tomorrow night! I also bought another one, because it's 4000baht, so $135 or so for a custom-made business suit. I was going to get one made anyway! One is black, and the other is grey pinstripe. It'll look great!
Early morning wake up today at 6:30, then breakfast at the buffet. I had french toast, pancakes, eggs, fruit, cereal with yogurt and fruit and coffee. Very nummy! We met up with Tony again and he brought us to a very touristy wat with a giant reclining Buddha. Then he brought us to another temple with an Emerald Buddha (it's actually jade, but the only jade I could see was on his face, because he was wearing winter clothes). Then we went to the royal palace. So touristy and gold and shiny and crowded and hot. Not the funnest morning.
After, we went to Thamassan University, where there was a massacre of over a hundred students by the military and police because the students were holding a peaceful protest for democracy in 1976. That was more interesting, and we were only there because Ryan asked Tony to take us there instead of more wats. We are so wat-ed out. No more monks, no more offerings, no more blessings, no more gold leaf, please.
After we returned, we got lunch (street pad thai), and then had the other half of the presentations for 4 hours. Again, kind of a long time to do presentations, but it was okay overall. Then some of us desperately tried to escape the tourist bubble by going to a less touristed area. However, we could not find a tuktuk cheap enough nor a taxi willing to use the meter. So we walked around Khao San Road again. Crowded, whorish, farang kinok and gross.
I got a hair cut, though! Super short! I'm very excited for it. It'll look better in MN when it will grow out a bit and not be as humid.
Today was our first day in Bangkok! So far, I miss Chiang Mai. It's so different. Bangkok is dirty, hot, and touristy. There are “massage parlors” everywhere, tattoo parlors everywhere, “ping pong” shows (involves ping pong balls and ladies with talented pelvic muscles), and dozens of pad thai street vendors.
Anyway, we left Chiang Mai at 5am, and ate yogurt and granola bars for breakfast on the bus ride to the airport. When we got there, we went through sorriest excuse for security. It was an old metal detector and a bag scanner right next to the door. Arty went through too, even though she didn't have a boarding pass. It was confusing. Then we got our boarding passes, and Arty led us to the Bangkok Air lounge, where we had free food and coffee! Yay! Anyway, Arty left us, and we went through another weak security check (shoes on, laptop in the bag, liquids in the bag, left the sweatshirt on, didn't ask for a boarding pass).
The flight was short and I slept the first half, but then they brought out breakfast (cheese roll and fruit), and I kind of drifted in and out of sleep again. I couldn't sleep again because we are already descending and I had to chew gum to keep my ears from popping. Didn't work. My ears hurt for a while.
When we landed, we got our luggage and met our tour guide, Tony. He is originally from Chiang Mai, so we could understand his slow accent better than maybe a person for Bangkok.
Tony brought us on a boat tour of Bangkok, the Venice of Thailand. The city has a canal system built into it from when boat was the fastest way to get around. We saw some wats, and stopped at one and climbed the tallest pagoda in Bangkok. The stairs got steeper with every level. Ascending, no problem. Descending, I was clutching to the railing like an old woman, creeping down sideways. My thigh hurts. We also went to a part of the canal with a lot of fish, and fed them fish. The fish are Asian Carp, which are trying to be eradicated in the US, but they're protected here in Thailand. Interesting. The boat transportation was interesting, but I was hopping in and out with no problem at the end.
We finally checked into our hotel, which is the fanciest in the old city. (Although the old city is described as “bohemian heart of Bangkok,” which basically means it's full of dirty hippies and beggars.) Anyway, it's also fancy because it has a pool and fridges in the rooms, and our shower has a bathtub! Ooh... Xee and I live on the 6th floor with about half our group.
When we got to the hotel, we had some time to go and eat, then went to do presentations all afternoon. It was a little boring, but it wasn't bad. We were there for about 4 hours. After, we tried to find dinner for cheap that wasn't pad thai, which is everywhere. We ended up getting rice noodle soup with pork (the other option was liver). Then for dessert, we had roti (chocolate), then mango and sticky rice, then ice cream! At the ice cream place, we were approached by students to take a marketing survey for their class. After they left, two other students asked us the same thing (same class, different group). They gave us a postcard after to thank us.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Friday, January 21, 2011
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Saturday, January 15, 2011
We went to Wat U-Mong yesterday for an overnight meditation retreat. It was... interesting. We arrived at 9am. We learned how to meditate using sitting, standing, reclining and walking methods. Walking is my favorite. While we were at the Wat, we had to obey all 8 Buddhist Precepts, not only the 5 that laymen follow. They are:
Panatipata veramani sikkhapadarn samadiyani: I undertake the precept to refrain from taking the life of any living creature (Ironically, we ate chicken while there)
Adinnadana veramani sikkhapadarn samadiyana: I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not given.
Abrahmacariya veramani sikkhapadarn samadiyani: I undertake the precept to refrain from incelibacy
musavada veramani sikkhapadarn samadiyana: I undertake the precept to refrain from false and harmful speech
surameraya-majja-pamadatthana veramani sikkhapadarn samadiyana: I undertake the precept to refrain from consuming intoxicating drink and drugs which lead to carelessness
vikalabhojana veramani sikkhapadarn samadiyana: I undertake the training rule to abstain from eating at improper times (from noon to 7am, no eating. Only breakfast at 7:30 and lunch at 11).
nacca-gita-visuka-dassana-mala-ghanda-vilepuna-dharana mandana vibhusanatthana veramani sikkhapadarn samadiyana: I undertake the training rule to abstain from dancing, singing, music, shows, wearing garlands, using perfumes and beautifying with cosmetics.
Uccasayana mahasayana veramani sikkhapadarn samadiyana: I undertake the training rule to abstain from the use of high and large seats and beds (we slept on a mat made out of grasses).
Yup, those are the 8 rules. Anyway, we meditated for a couple hours every couple hours. About 9 hours total. We went to bed at 9pm, and got up at 4:30am for morning chanting and meditation. Yup, 5:30am, I was sitting outside, eyes closed, trying to not think and not fall asleep. Overall, the meditation wasn't bad. The Buddhism isn't that bad. The monk was... sexist? I think sexist, more so than necessary for a leader of a sexist religion who grew up in a sexist society and is now sexually repressed. Made comments like how women are complicated, and therefore need more rules. Or asked “teacher” a question, but didn't mean the woman with the PhD, but her male student who wants to teach, and actually cut her off mid-sentence when she started to answer. Not the best monk I've met by far. I much preferred the other monks at monk chat, but he says that monk chat is not as good as his monk chat. Also, he says Ladyboys and gay men cannot be monks, but we saw Ladyboy monks at other temples, and we have been told that Ladyboys and gay men can be monks as well. He later made fun of a male student for sounding gay when he accidentally said “-ka” instead of “-krup” at the end of a sentence. He blatantly favored the four male students over even our professor. When he asked for questions, and girls raised their hands, he asked the boys to ask questions when they did not have their hands raised. He also took three of the boys on a private field trip, and completely ignored the girl who went along as well. He gave them keychains and his email address, and took theirs. He even went so far as taking his favorite boy on a private walk, and asked him how often he masturbates. It was really strange.
In any case, it put a damper on the whole meditation retreat. As if not eating enough food, sleeping on the floor of a closet (my bedroom was 4x6feet, and freezing), and being sent outside at 5am when it was chilly weren't enough, right? I would put up with that and the sexist religion that says even the youngest male infant or most infamous criminal is a higher status than the most admired and respected women.
Anywho, I took a long shower when I got back, went to the mall, did homework with an iced mocha, and ate half a pineapple. Calmed down. Felt happy. :)