Public Moments

I’m writing with the understanding that it’s being said in a public space.
Trigger warning: Discussions of child abuse.

My friend recently wrote a blog post about why an over abundance of the presences of small children on social media makes him uncomfortable. The main point being that the Internet isn’t private. It’s public and it’s there forever(or until it collapses) Also, despite what people think, privacy settings don’t mean shit. TOS agreements can be changed. As consenting adults, we agree or disagree with these odd spheres of ephemeral public spaces. I agree to read blogs, thus sharing in the Internet life of friends, family, and strangers. I know that posting pictures to Facebook means they no longer belong to me. Enjoy all the blurry pictures of snow and the 20 images of beans and rice I uploaded, FB. I’m sure they’ll serve you in good stead.

But. I am an adult. Also, I’m an olderish adult. The choices I make are that: mine. Many years have been spent refining opinions and sculpting options. At this point, I have a fairly clear understanding of what I’m signing up for in living a public life. When I am faced with the consequence of that life, I have the ability to engage with those consequences.

Children don’t have that luxury. Not because they don’t have the ability, though I would argue that by a certain age they do, but because we don’t allow them the option. An infant is completely at the mercy of the adults providing for them. While one could argue in favor or spiritual awareness and consent, I think that’s a bit of a stretch. A baby requires grown humans to make sure they survive to the next day. This means grown humans making decisions for the infant. What food to feed them, when to feed them, how to clothe them, how much affection to provide: all of these are things a baby needs to survive. And while my delivery may sound a bit cold, it’s because those are just basics. Those choices will factor in on a baby’s health and well-being. 200 pictures on FB or Twitter will not. Babies do not consent to having their images splayed all over the Internet. That is a choice made by adults for the adults own reasons. Those images, even if “deleted”, will last as long as the Internet.

“So what,” you may say, “No one is going to fault someone for their baby pictures.” Possibly. I think we are creating a culture where children are being taught their bodies are not theirs to control. To be dark about this: who cares if the neighbor is taking naked pictures of them? Mommy and daddy just posted 23 bath time photos online. Why should they care, when they’re older, that their crush is pressuring them to text them sexual pictures? Their legal guardians are always posting their pictures online, even though they’ve said they hate it. Love must mean doing things for other people that make you uncomfortable. Right?

“You’re being hyperbolic,” you cry. Am I? Isn’t Steubenville and the subsequent fallout a perfect example? Isn’t the outrage over a blog post made by an exhausted mother of an autistic child exactly what I’m talking about? What do we do when our public adult lives are meshed with the slowly public lives of the children we care for? I don’t have a perfect answer. I work for an organization that uses images in ads and social media, with parental consent, of the children for which it provides care. I’m torn on the issue. Guardians make these choices for their children of minor age. It’s legal. That means a legal guardian can press charges for the child. That means a legal guardian can choose what to do with the likeness of the child. The child has no say, unless the adult bothers to ask.

“In the end,” you sniff, “It’s the choice of the parent. Freedom of speech. My life, my rules.”
To which I say: I’m not saying you can’t or that doing so makes you a bad person. All I’m saying is that we, as a whole, provide a public life to a whole population of people that may not truly know what that entails. That is something people should consider.

Look, if your my friend, I probably like sharing that aspect of your public life. You want to give unfettered access to those photographs, great! Thank you for that trust. But, I also think it’s weird that we all expect our friends to be willing participants in the Internet slide show of your life. Wasn’t that a cliched trope when we were growing up: being subjected to someone’s projector slideshow of their trip to Florida? Now, there’s this group of people who think that we should all be grateful to be seeing 44 images of so-and-so in as many poses with Mickey or on the beach. I say this as someone guilty of doing this exact thing. Isn’t that weird? Why do we get upset when someone doesn’t want to share in the minutiae of our lives? Also, why do people get upset when you DON’T share your every waking moment? I figure that if someone is that invested in your comings and goings, they should be making the effort to be a part if your life. It’s okay if we miss out on things. It’s okay to be surprised after the fact. We’re missing out on life unfolding at a serendipitous pace. Now that we know all aspects of the trivia, we don’t know how to be act when the small, amazing moments happen. I shouldn’t be beholden to people who only access me through binary, nor should they be beholden to me. It’s okay if I don’t know you bought a house, or had a baby, or became a chef. I’ll find out when I find out. It’ll be such a lovely moment. Let those moments happen.

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Thematic Apperception Test

My results from a brief TAT test. HILARIOUSLY BAD STORY and I’m a super awkward person.  Check out other exercises here: http://secretlifeofpronouns.com/index.php

 

The picture you were asked to describe came from the Thematic Apperception Test, or TAT. The purpose is to see how individuals reveal parts of their own personalities while looking at an ambiguous picture. The words that you used were analyzed using the LIWC (Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count) program developed at the University of Texas and University of Auckland in New Zealand. If you would like to get more information on LIWC, go to www.liwc.net.

The TAT was originally designed to determine the degree to which people wrote about themes relating to achievement, affiliation, and power. Although there are a series of different TAT pictures, this one is somewhat related to each of these themes — although most people make up a story with achievement themes. For example, some people emphasize the nature of the experiment or scientific discovery (reflecting the writer’s interests in achievement and success); others may focus on the nature of the friendship between the two women (interests in affiliation); yet others may focus on the status differences of the two women (reflecting the writer’s concerns with status and power); By analyzing the words that you use, we can get a rough sense of your interest in each of these themes.

Here is a short analysis of your word use. Keep in mind that the more words you wrote, the more trustworthy these analyses. If you feel that your writing didn’t reflect who you really are, go back and start over. At the same time, don’t take these results too seriously.

LIWC dimension Your data Male average Female average
Need for Achievement 6.43 5.8 5.6
Need for Affiliation 2.25 1.1 1.3
Need for power 0.64 1.7 1.8
Self-references (I, me, my) 0.96 0.5 0.8
Social words 9.32 11.4 12.0
Positive emotions 3.22 1.8 2.1
Negative emotions 1.29 1.5 1.6
Big words (> 6 letters) 24.12 18.7 17.7

Overall, you wrote 311 words in the 10 minutes.

Need for Achievement. The typical person generally scores between 4.5 and 8.5, with an average of 5.7. The higher your number, the more you wrote about achievement-related themes.

Need for Affiliation. Because this picture typically elicits themes associated with achievement, most people don’t pay too much attention to human relationships in their story. In fact, the typical person scores around 1.2 on this dimension. Indeed, 30% of participants score 0.00.

Need for Power. Most people score between 0.8 and 2.7, with the average being 1.7. High scores on the need for power dimension hint that the writer is concerned with who is or is not in control andwho has the most status.

One thing that is interesting about this kind of exercise is that language analyses can tell us many things about the writer that go far beyond power, achievement, and affiliation. Look at the table below. In it, you can determine some features of your own writing and can get a sense of your writing style compared with others:

Self-references: People who use a high rate of self-references tend to be more insecure, nervous, and possibly depressed. They also tend to be more honest.

Social words: Social words are words that make reference to other people (e.g., they, she, us, talk, friends). Generally, people who use a high level of social words are more outgoing and more socially connected with others.

Positive emotion words: The more that people use positive emotion words (e.g. happy, love, good), the more optimistic they tend to be. If you feel good about yourself, you are more likely to see the world in a positive way.

Negative emotion words: Use of negative emotion words (e.g., sad, kill, afraid) is weakly linked to people’s ratings of anxiety or even neurotic. People who have had a bad day are more likely to see the world through negatively-tinted glasses.

Big words (words with more than 6 letters): Use of big words is weakly related to higher grades and standardized test scores. People who use a high rate of big words also tend to be less emotional and oftentimes psychologically distant or detached.

The Big Picture: The above interpretations should be considered with a grain of salt for your own writing. Your approach to the assignment may have been influenced by people bothering you, concerns about other things in your life, lack of sleep, etc. In addition, it is important to remember that the TAT is generally administered in a highly controlled situation and is always graded by a real-live human being. You will recall from the book that the TAT was devised to tap people’s needs for achievement, power, and affiliation. Look at your own writings and see if you can pick up if you were in high in these motives. For example, if you said that one person was thinking about her future career, a TAT expert would probably say that you were higher in a need for achievement than if you said that the person was thinking about her lover (which would hint that you were higher in need for affiliation).


Date/Time: 30 April 2012, 11:02 am

Your TAT description: Dr. Mabel Pennymaker watched her twin sister proceed with her experiment. It was difficult competing against her own flesh and blood for the Nobel Prize, but sometimes sacrifices had to be made. Her sister, Hazel, would understand. Deep down, though, Mabel wished they could have worked together. Not because she regretted creating a rift, but because Hazel was her greatest competition. The competitive spirit between them started when they were old enough to walk. Hazel walked first and a good six months before Mabel took her own steps. Yet, Mabel spoke first. As they matured, Hazel entered puberty without much fuss. Mabel had to deal with growing pains, awkward skin issues, and frizzy hair. She delved into books and science. Hazel did as well. Even though the were twins, it was one of the few things they had in common: a love of uncovering the natural world’s mysteries. Hazel looked up from the test tubes and smiled at Mabel. “Oh, is it that time already? Are we taking our predetermined break,” Hazel asked. Mabel and Hazel agreed on working on their separate experiments via a similar timeline and schedule. That way, when a winner was announced, there would be empirical proof who succeed better. No excuses about appointments or emergencies or vacations. Straight up front science. Mabel nodded. “Yes. I brought some leftovers from home. Would you like to share? It’s meatloaf.” “Oh, thanks, but no. I’m fine with what I brought.” Things felt so awkward between them now. Mabel felt guilty for putting these restrictions on their relationship. But she had to know who was more adept at their field. Hazel’s breakthroughs in cellular research were astonishing. Ground-breaking really. Mabel’s focus was also in the cellular arena, but with a emphasis is cellular regeneration and it’s applications with cloning. Hazel focused more on cellular degeneration and staving off death.

Totally want to do this.

domaphile

We have a problem in our house and it goes something like this:

Child: Can I have some  (juice, kefir, water, milk, moonshine)?

Adult:  Why, of course! pulls out cup, fills it halfway with desired liquid.

Child:  Thanks! proceeds to drink 1/2 – 2/3rd of liquid, leaving the restand runs off.

Adult:  Sigh…

The truth is, my family doesn’t belong to the clean plate club.  And given the strange feeding habits of the very young, my girls often pick at their plates, decide they’re not hungry, only to return – totally famished – sometime later.  Thus, I was looking for a way to keep food and drink fresh for exactly these occasions, while avoiding plastic wrap – which is not only wasteful, but annoying to use. The collective wisdom of the Internet has a number of tutorials, all variations on this project, and they looked…

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Bees

Shufs left last Friday to visit our baby nephew in Boston. He’s had a handful of heart problems that, while persistent, have not diminished his spirit or adorableness. Little Nephew is stalwart and stubborn. Sedatives and pain meds go right through him and he coughed up his respirator after decided he didn’t need it anymore. No worries, dudes. I got this breathing thing under control. I am often amazed at the progress reports. Little Nephew handles most life bullshit better than most grown ass adults. Including me.

The first few days of Shuf’s absence left me feeling listless. Yesterday, I decided to put away laundry. This resulted in a total closet reorganization and I fled to work to escape it for a while. Plans with a friend on Thursday have pushed me even further into my to-do list. Clean kitty litter. Clean off counter. Clean out fridge. Go grocery shopping.

When I went to go water the plants, the song of bees filled the crab apple tree in the back. Every branch I looked at had a bee dancing around it. I leashed up the cat(not a euphemism. He needs to go on walks every now and then), and walked around the backyard taking pictures and recording the tree to try and catch the sound for Shufs. I sent him three videos like a crazy person. But the bees! The bees! It’s the best sound in the world.

Bee!

Love this post at “The Crunk Feminist Collective”

The Crunk Feminist Collective

I have recently come to the conclusion that I’m going to have to lose a significant amount of weight in order to have a viable chance at a love life.

Let me be clear: this is not a fat-hating post. When I look in the mirror, for the most part, I like what I see. I like my curves, I like ass, I like my legs, I like my boobs (which I only have in abundance, when I’m tipping the scales), and I like my face.

But the fact remains that I’m a short, dark-skinned, fat Black girl, with a natural. I’m all those things in a culture that not only hates fat, and finds it repulsive, but also in a culture where fat dark-skinned women can only find roles in movies as maids. 

Even so, one could argue that these mainstream films reflect the desires of white America, or…

View original post 1,400 more words

Czeslaw Milosz – National Poetry Month

Once again, I’m not really feeling up to a poem. Which means I’ll have to write THREE tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

So here is another far superior poem by a far superior poet.

Artificer by Czeslaw Milosz

Burning, he walks in the stream of flickering letters, clarinets,
machines throbbing quicker than the heart, lopped-off heads, silk
canvases, and he stops under the sky

and raises toward it his joined clenched fists.

Believers fall on their bellies, they suppose it is a monstrance that
   shines,

but those are knuckles, sharp knuckles shine that way, my friends.

He cuts the glowing, yellow buildings in two, breaks the walls into
   motley halves;
pensive, he looks at the honey seeping from those huge honeycombs:
throbs of pianos, children's cries, the thud of a head banging against
   the floor.
This is the only landscape able to make him feel.

He wonders at his brother's skull shaped like an egg,
every day he shoves back his black hair from his brow,
then one day he plants a big load of dynamite
and is surprised that afterward everything spouts up in the explosion.
Agape, he observes the clouds and what is hanging in them:
globes, penal codes, dead cats floating on their backs, locomotives.
They turn in the skeins of white clouds like trash in a puddle.
While below on the earth a banner, the color of a romantic rose,
   flutters,
and a long row of military trains crawls on the weed-covered tracks.
Wilno, 1931

 

Li-Young Lee – National Poetry Month

Not really feeling a poem just yet so I’m going to post this amazing Li-Young Lee poem and hope it inspires me for later on today.
Persimmons by Li-Young Lee
In sixth grade Mrs. Walker
slapped the back of my head
and made me stand in the corner
for not knowing the difference
between persimmon and precision.
How to choose

persimmons. This is precision.
Ripe ones are soft and brown-spotted.
Sniff the bottoms. The sweet one
will be fragrant. How to eat:
put the knife away, lay down newspaper.
Peel the skin tenderly, not to tear the meat.
Chew the skin, suck it,
and swallow. Now, eat
the meat of the fruit,
so sweet,
all of it, to the heart.

Donna undresses, her stomach is white.
In the yard, dewy and shivering
with crickets, we lie naked,
face-up, face-down.
I teach her Chinese.
Crickets: chiu chiu. Dew: I’ve forgotten.
Naked:   I’ve forgotten.
Ni, wo:   you and me.
I part her legs,
remember to tell her
she is beautiful as the moon.

Other words
that got me into trouble were
fight and fright, wren and yarn.
Fight was what I did when I was frightened,
Fright was what I felt when I was fighting.
Wrens are small, plain birds,
yarn is what one knits with.
Wrens are soft as yarn.
My mother made birds out of yarn.
I loved to watch her tie the stuff;
a bird, a rabbit, a wee man.

Mrs. Walker brought a persimmon to class
and cut it up
so everyone could taste
a Chinese apple. Knowing
it wasn’t ripe or sweet, I didn’t eat
but watched the other faces.

My mother said every persimmon has a sun
inside, something golden, glowing,
warm as my face.

Once, in the cellar, I found two wrapped in newspaper,
forgotten and not yet ripe.
I took them and set both on my bedroom windowsill,
where each morning a cardinal
sang, The sun, the sun.

Finally understanding
he was going blind,
my father sat up all one night
waiting for a song, a ghost.
I gave him the persimmons,
swelled, heavy as sadness,
and sweet as love.

This year, in the muddy lighting
of my parents’ cellar, I rummage, looking
for something I lost.
My father sits on the tired, wooden stairs,
black cane between his knees,
hand over hand, gripping the handle.
He’s so happy that I’ve come home.
I ask how his eyes are, a stupid question.
All gone, he answers.

Under some blankets, I find a box.
Inside the box I find three scrolls.
I sit beside him and untie
three paintings by my father:
Hibiscus leaf and a white flower.
Two cats preening.
Two persimmons, so full they want to drop from the cloth.

He raises both hands to touch the cloth,
asks, Which is this?

This is persimmons, Father.

Oh, the feel of the wolftail on the silk,   
the strength, the tense
precision in the wrist.
I painted them hundreds of times   
eyes closed. These I painted blind.   
Some things never leave a person:
scent of the hair of one you love,   
the texture of persimmons,
in your palm, the ripe weight.