Sunday, November 30, 2014

Money, Monet

Let's get the elephant in the room dealt with- I am most definitely a "privileged white person". Am I a "privileged Christian" or "privileged man"? No. I am just a very fortunate white person. I was born white. Thus, no one hates me for being black or otherwise. Being a Jewish female, on the other hand, has gotten me into some sticky situations. That's okay, though. Well, not okay. It shouldn't happen. Stop picking on me, guys! BUT, it is not a unique experience I've had, because, unfortunately, everyone at some point or another suffers for being who they are. Unless you're a white, male Mormon. I think bullying a Mormon is punishable by four years of feet-dangling.

And... this doesn't have much to do with my topic today. Well, it does, as, money certainly helps one be privileged. On the other hand, I don't have said money because I am caucasian. I have it because my parents are very intelligent and hardworking people. They came from the nether-regions of New York City and they worked their way into a new tax bracket.

If your grandparents or great-grandparents arrived to America from Neverheardofit, Pakistan, Dontcare, Mexico, or Weate Ourkidz, Russia; they definitely suffered. Woe is them! How they suffered.

Then, they had kids who worked hard and achieved "middle-class" status, despite their religion, gender, or background - believe it or not, growing up in the Depression as a Jewish (in my family's case) immigrant from Wemightaswellbedead, Austria, was no easy task.

So, these fine men and women all went on and had families. One kids, three kids... whatever it was, they had those kids and they made them live together; shoved into a one-bedroom apartment or studio like lox in airtight packaging.

These children went on to become doctors, lawyers, and engineers. Again, in my case, literally. Thus, money came into play. Money was not plentiful at first, but with a lot of hard work, dedication, and wacky tobaccy, (but not really. Or, maybe!) these kiddos became successful in their field(s) of choice and moved into the upper-middle class, or possibly even the upper-class. Ooh la la!

The next step was the tricky part, however. When these children grew up and achieved great things, they then had children of their own. Now, these children were in a difficult position. They were growing up with the luxuries of wealth and privilege, so where was "up"? They might be able to do better than their parents. They might make more money and have a fancier job title... but that would require twice the time, money, and effort. Plus, the more modest children would then feel like a spoiled, overly-ambitious copy of their parents.
They could do just as well as their parents, but that wouldn't be too interesting. Or, they could do less than their parents due to laziness, disinterest, fear, or self-doubt.

Not to mention, the years of being told, "You don't understand, your life is perfect. You have money..." pays its toll on a person's conscience. Depending on an individual's personality and experiences, money and success can really mess with one's head. Guilt may lay on one's shoulder like a sack of Moonpies filled with steel instead of cream, and result in depression, anxiety, self-loathing, and way too many cats named "Mitzy Boo Boo".

So, the real question here is, does money make the man? Can we assume someone's life is easier, happier, better... because they have money? Or, does it come with its own stressors, challenges, and not make living life any easier? My vote is "Yes."

Yes- having money means you can travel, eat well, buy gifts, go out, stay clean, maintain a little more safety in your life, pay bills... so on.

No- having money does not make you immune to diseases and disorders, lost friends, no friends, friend who take advantage of you, people who hurt you,  stress, expectations, fears, anger, loss... so on.

If your entire life is defined by what you can pay for, or not pay for, (which is perfectly legitimate, as most things cost money) then, you may see the Yes. You may assume your life would be perfect if you could pay your mom's medical bills, buy your kids Christmas gifts, pay off your student loans, or not have any in the first place, and take everyone on a trip to Disney.

However, if you have all these things, and still feel a sense of loneliness, confusion, and fear, along with all the emotional, and sometimes physical symptoms of life, then you may disagree. Wealthy or not, humans are made to hurt. No human is made to never be sad, but some humans are made to never be happy. Whether there is a fair and right reason for this, that is not the issue. The point I am making is, well, I don't know. I don't know if wealthy people understand unhappiness and suffering as others do. I don't know if it's equal. No one can understand the pain another person is going through. There is no equal or worse pain, there is simply pain and obstacles.

Personally, I don't feel any sympathy or empathy for those who disregard the pain of others. If you get by in life with the mantra that money isn't everything, there is no room for you to treat a "One-percenter" as if they are not human. That they are a different, heartless, cold species that doesn't get how hard it is to be you. Of course, this doesn't work for either side. You can donate to every cause in the world and I still may not respect you if you are doing it for the wrong reasons or partaking in a slave trade on the side. Or, if we learned anything from Plato's Republic, as we should have, we have no use for actions if there is no intention. Sometimes the actions are good enough, but typically, intention is a huge part of things! Huge.

Friday, November 7, 2014

¡Viva México!

Let's talk Mexico, shall we? You know- tacos, sombreros, chihuahuas.
Just, no.
However, this year's "huzzah" goes out to the citizens of Mexico. They've finally caught the fever. The revolution fever, and they are kicking their government in the groin!
"Why?", you ask? Let's discuss.
Forty days ago, forty-three Mexican college students disappeared. Yeah. Like, literally, just vanished! Now, one might say, "That's sad. That's terrible. how awful! But, protesting doesn't bring people home!"
True. It does not... directly. Just like guns don't kill people. Except, nothing like that. In this case, however, the saying is, "Protesting kidnappers doesn't help, but protesting a useless government may!"

Forty days later (and hereon,) tens of thousands of demonstrators are protesting in Mexico City. They are there demanding more action from federal authorities. These protestors are sick of the government corruption, and sick of the cooperation they have with the drug cartels that are overtaking their country and causing their people harm.

The popular chant they are repeating is, "They took them away alive, and alive we want them back."
The sad reality is, we don't know if they were alive when they took them, or if they still are at this point.

To put the situation into perspective, the federal authorities have reported 26,000 disappearances between 2006 and 2012 in Mexico. The causes of death and involvement with illegal activity was not mentioned.

This particular sad case began on September 26th. On this day, students from a teacher training college went and protested and raised funds. Later on, after police stopped the students, six people were found shot shot, and the 43 students were gone.
To add to this tragedy, while searching for the lost students, authorities have come across many mass graves with the remains of hundreds of unknown corpses.

Yesterday, alongside Live Streamer and much-more-informed-than-me-activist, Matt Hopard ( wandered uptown to one of these Mexico protests. Unfortunately, at this point, it was down to a small number of demonstrators. Maybe about 10-12 chanters were walking in circles within the limits of a tiny gated-off area. There were signs and chants, but not nearly as many people as there were in the past weeks. Cold weather, daily life, and less-than-enthusiastic passersby must dishearten these folks, but the brave few left still keep chanting and circling; like vultures eyeing below, their goals and dreams for a safer tomorrow. *dramatic exit music*

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Impressing the Ladies!

How to impress a girl (according to my date last night):

1. After trying to meet up for 3+ years, make sure you are 2 hours late to your first date. Now, I don't mean for work reasons or family issues or anything mature or responsible; I mean, you're showing up two hours late because you were getting drunk with your buddies. Oh, yeah...

2. Get drunk with your buddies beforehand. Not too much, so she can sense it and knows to run right away. No, no, just to that point where the two more drinks you have with her will send you over the edge. To the point where you are slurring, wobbling, and falling asleep as you speak.

3. Obviously, you should be falling asleep throughout the conversation. Which, might I mention, is understandable, since the conversation is incredibly dull. You're either pretending to listen, but not responding, talking about yourself (including, but not limited to, showing her pictures of yourself on your phone), or texting/chatting on your phone every 5 minutes. Along with the fact that you only have one passion in life. Only one thing you do in life. No time for hobbies or a life outside your artistic endeavor of choice. This will mean you have absolutely nothing to discuss. Because, you wouldn't show interest in her hobbies, after all. 

4. Speaking of every 5 minutes, make sure to go to smoke or pee every 10-15 minutes. Hey, if she waited two hours for you already, I'm sure she'll be perfectly content waiting alone at the bar for you as you go across the street and buy a new pack, or a sandwich, or get married (as, you'll be gone ridiculously long....)

5. If you have a beard, and I do hope you have a beard, it'll be all kinds of scraggly and unruly. This way, when you take a swig of your bourbon, it will be soaked up by said beard. Then, when you insist on trying to kiss her every now and then, your beard will act effectively as a sponge and instead of your intended lips touching hers, your beard will squeegee out all the bourbon onto her face. This will leave her smelling cigarettes and beard bourbon (beardbon?) This is super attractive.

6. Finally, when she rejects your offer to either go home with her or take her home with you for the 8th or 9th time, you will them promptly check your phone and, coincidentally, your band mate will need you present immediately. Thus, you leave in a hurry, leaving enough money to cover your drinks (which you requested be the cheapest liquor they have available) and a 2 dollar tip, despite the bartender being a fan and complimenting your music, as well as offering to let you play at his bar sometime. 

Follow these rules and your new lady friend will be chasing you around like a bloodhound on a fox's trail. Hot diggity dog! 
And, hey, even if it doesn't work out, the bartender will remind you that you just weren't meant to be with a "4'3'' hairy and broke accordion player who showed up late and drunk." I guess it's not for everyone!