thoughts on last night’s twitter feed
i happened to be on when the twitterverse exploded with updates on the MIT shooting, dovetailing into the Watertown shootout. it was a flood of people who happened to be on the scene, civilians and journalists tailing the police, people listening to the police scanner (estimated at 80,000 listeners at one point) and people re-tweeting all of the above. wild speculations interwoven with actual facts. amidst the details was an emerging debate along these lines:
and a string of reminders that Twitter + police scanner ≠ journalism.
i felt conflicted, getting sucked in to this breaking story in this fashion. it truly was fascinating, and i did find a curated list of journalists tweeting from the scene in a more measured, respectful, factual and safe-feeling manner. following that WAS breaking news. following the feeds of civilians on the scene who were simply stating (and posting pictures) of what they saw was also news. but the folks who took pictures of a guy being stopped by police and then declared “SUSPECT IN CUSTODY! Everyone leaving the scene, it’s safe now.” only to be refuted 2 minutes later when “the suspect” was merely someone walking home who was unaware of what they were walking into? that’s not news. that’s not helpful. you saw someone being stopped, but you don’t know what’s happening. you’re spreading rumors, and misinformation, and you’re muddying the waters for anyone near Boston who is using their twitter feed to see if they can leave the building they are currently hiding inside because their city has become a war zone over the past five days.
i had to turn it off. even writing this post just after midnight, i was going back and refreshing to see if there was more 1) actual information 2) relevant skepticism. but i knew this (<—referring to the tweets, not the actual situation) would go on all night, and after this week of varied and terrible things having gone on in this country, i am too terror-weary to pull a speculation all-nighter.
i can’t imagine if this week had happened 10 years ago, with the social media we had at the time. today, we are SO connected to the world, and to events as they happen, whether that be worlds away from us as we sit safely staring at the screens of our devices, or if we are typing to the world that a bomb just went off on the corner of our block. if you’re on the scene, these advances & interconnectivity are vital, and could save your life. transparency can be a wonderful thing. the ability to collect mass amounts of photographic and live-witness accounts of things is wonderful. but i can imagine how hard it is for law enforcement to conduct their operations when civilians flood the area, or give away tactical information with a careless tweet. and also, i posit that people far from the scene don’t NEED a up-to-the-second account of events when nothing is fact-checked, nothing is certain, and panic swirls around us. it’s sensationalism, and it makes people scared. not that this shit isn’t scary. it is. the world is scary, and scary shit happens every day, every hour, everywhere. EVERYWHERE. not just here, not just to us. everywhere, and to everyone. is it doing anyone any good to know that reports of a horrible thing are 100% certain to be on any screen you may ever look at? or any screen your kids might look at? (this is what i started seeing on monday from all the parents i know: “How do I tell my kids about the marathon bombing without causing them to never want to go outside again because they’re too scared they’ll blow up? And how can I stop them from seeing ACTUAL CARNAGE on every screen available? There’s no way to turn off the coverage.”) knowledge is power, ignorance is bliss; but there’s got to be some kind of balance between knowing what the world is and being crushed by the weight of it. there’s a line in here somewhere, but i can’t find it.
how was i sucked in in the first place? by this:
grenades. they were throwing grenades at the cops. i just… no.
and finally, i’m sure there’s some truth here, but i also wonder if it was a “STOP TWEETING SO MUCH BULLSHIT” move in the midst of things:
Boston, you’re home to some of my family, and i love you. last week i bought plane tickets to come visit you in july. i hope the insanity of this week is the last harmful thing that happens to you for a long, long time. and i hope for strength, healing, and community to all the people of the Boston area. sigh.
Nicki Minaj (BlackBook Magazine)
- me, to an adult actor: Stop whispering "ball sack."
- actor #1: No! It’s our mantra!
- actor #2: [whispering] ball sack, ball sack. baaalllll saaaaccckkkk.
Elevator Etiquette (or lack thereof)
My workplace spans three floors of our office building. This morning I got on the elevator on 5, to go to 7. Two people were already in the elevator with the button pressed for 6, where our main reception area is located. Between floors 5 and 6, the following “conversation” occurred:
adult man i’ve never seen before in my life: [looks me up and down] Scoliosis?
him: [nods sagely] The last generation.
me: [stares at him] Mmm.
1. Sir, the socially acceptable way to begin a conversation with someone is with a salutation. “Hello” or “Hi” is sufficient.
2. Fact: I have a non standard issue body shape. This is not a free pass for you to comment on my body, or to make a medical assessment of it. You know who gets to ask if I have scoliosis the very first time they talk to me? Doctors, and only when I am actively seeking their medical opinion, and only after they have said “hello” or “hi” and we know each other’s names. Non-doctor people who have ventured to ask me about my body have asked me for permission to ask a personal question, and if it is our first conversation and/or is taking place in an elevator, have unfailingly accepted my unwillingness to discuss it.
3. You happen to be correct that I have been treated for scoliosis, but that is not the full picture, so don’t get all smug thinking you’ve figured my body out.
4. “The last generation.” I think you are suggesting that this is an old-timey ailment, that the kids don’t have these days. Are you calling me old? I THINK YOU ARE CALLING ME OLD.
5. Imagine you’re riding one floor on an elevator with someone who looks different than you in a different way than I look different than you, and pretend you are having the same conversation with them. Would you say “Foreigner?” “Huge ass?” “Club foot?” “Boob job?” Oh, you wouldn’t?
6. Did you also happen to notice that I am a woman? Because you should not make unsolicited comments on any person’s body, but I consider it *extra* inappropriate to comment on women’s bodies. We just this Tuesday got a four-year extension on control over our lady parts, and we are particularly sensitive to men who are strangers talking about our bodies as though it’s any of their business.
7. My gut reaction was to tell you to fuck off. I answered you because I correctly assessed you were visiting my place of employment. Telling clients to fuck off is generally frowned upon, even when they are rude.
8. I told my coworker there was a man in our conference room who had been rude to me in the elevator, and she got super pissed and offered/threatened to come beat you with her cane. Protip: It would be inappropriate for you to ask her why she uses a cane or start a conversation with “Gimpy?”, because you do not know her, either.
In summary, sir, you need to work on your manners, because the 15 second elevator ride did not require any conversation to fill the time, and it certainly is not the place for you to ask strangers questions about their bodies.
Women invented all the core technologies that made civilization possible. This isn’t some feminist myth; it’s what modern anthropologists believe. Women are thought to have invented pottery, basketmaking, weaving, textiles, horticulture, and agriculture. That’s right: without women’s inventions, we wouldn’t be able to carry things or store things or tie things up or go fishing or hunt with nets or haft a blade or wear clothes or grow our food or live in permanent settlements. Suck on that.
Women have continued to be involved in the creation and advancement of civilization throughout history, whether you know it or not. Pick anything—a technology, a science, an art form, a school of thought—and start digging into the background. You’ll find women there, I guarantee, making critical contributions and often inventing the damn shit in the first place.
Women have made those contributions in spite of astonishing hurdles. Hurdles like not being allowed to go to school. Hurdles like not being allowed to work in an office with men, or join a professional society, or walk on the street, or own property. Example: look up Lise Meitner some time. When she was born in 1878 it was illegal in Austria for girls to attend school past the age of 13. Once the laws finally eased up and she could go to university, she wasn’t allowed to study with the men. Then she got a research post but wasn’t allowed to use the lab on account of girl cooties. Her whole life was like this, but she still managed to discover nuclear fucking fission. Then the Nobel committee gave the prize to her junior male colleague and ignored her existence completely.
Men in all patriarchal civilizations, including ours, have worked to downplay or deny women’s creative contributions. That’s because patriarchy is founded on the belief that women are breeding stock and men are the only people who can think. The easiest way for men to erase women’s contributions is to simply ignore that they happened. Because when you ignore something, it gets forgotten. People in the next generation don’t hear about it, and so they grow up thinking that no women have ever done anything. And then when women in their generation do stuff, they think “it’s a fluke, never happened before in the history of the world, ignore it.” And so they ignore it, and it gets forgotten. And on and on and on. The New York Times article is a perfect illustration of this principle in action.
Finally, and this is important: even those women who weren’t inventors and intellectuals, even those women who really did spend all their lives doing stereotypical “women’s work”—they also built this world. The mundane labor of life is what makes everything else possible. Before you can have scientists and engineers and artists, you have to have a whole bunch of people (and it’s usually women) to hold down the basics: to grow and harvest and cook the food, to provide clothes and shelter, to fetch the firewood and the water, to nurture and nurse, to tend and teach. Every single scrap of civilized inventing and dreaming and thinking rides on top of that foundation. Never forget that.—
from a post by Reclusive Leftist on women’s erasure in history.
her comments relate specifically to an article by the NYT thanking “the men” who invented modern technology, but pick absolutely any academic field of study, and women’s contributions are minimized, if not outright ignored.
literature has been a huge part of my life for a long time, and i grew up reading the classics—which, of course, are typically books written by white men, depicting their experiences. i was taught that the first “modern novel” was Don Quixote, written in the early 1600s by a guy (Cervantes). i don’t think i know of a word to accurately describe my mixture of outrage, shock, and pride, when i discovered later that actually, the first modern novel was written 600 years earlier—by a woman! (it’s The Tale of Genji, written by a Japanese lady-in-waiting who was known as Murasaki Shikibu.)
this might not seem important, but if you’re a woman you know just how vital this knowledge is. even now, when women are being told that we can do anything we set our minds to, the historical, literary, and scientific figures we learn about are all men. it’s a much more insidious way to discourage women from aiming high—because what’s the point in putting in so much hard work if it’s not even going to be remembered after you’re dead?
All of this. For a long time, women couldn’t apply for patents in the US, so even if they invented something, they had to let their husband or male colleague take credit for it. Us ladies had made significant contributions to every field of study out there, and I am sick and tired of seeing that shit get ignored.
i grew up with jack chu. we were in school together from kindergarten through high school, and while we were never particularly close and didn’t travel in the same circles, we’d known each other most of our lives. after i reluctantly joined facebook at the insistence of a friend who’d moved to the east coast, jack contacted me to say hello. i wrote back, our messages started getting longer and longer, and turned into almost daily chats on our lunch breaks, while playing facebook-poker together. we both acknowledged the irony that after “knowing” each other for over twenty years, we were finally becoming friends; and we also laughed that we were now considering ourselves to be “friends” though we weren’t in touch via any other means than facebook.
we mostly talked about mutual folks we knew growing up, asked after each other’s families, and caught up on what we were doing now. we talked about music and poker, nothing too serious, and made each other laugh. he was still living in the bay area and wanted to know all about portland, declaring that since i’d decided to stay here for so long, it must be pretty awesome. i agreed, and told him if he was ever up my way to let me know and i’d meet him for a drink so we could catch up in person. he extended the same offer for the next time i would be down in the bay.
i started touting jack as a shining example of how facebook turned out better than i’d expected; my attitude prior to joining had been “i’m already in touch with all the people who i care to be in touch with.” jack proved me wrong, as it was delightful to start to get to know each other in our adulthood, and it would not have happened otherwise.
then, in july 2008, jack was murdered.
he went out with a friend. they went to a couple bars. then his friend shot him in the head eleven times, shoved him into the passenger seat of jack’s car, and parked it on a residential street, where his body was not discovered for two days.
it was absolutely shocking. jack was the first friend of mine to die as the result of such violence. i didn’t know how to process it; we’d chatted the day before he’d died and i’d wondered the rest of the week if his schedule had changed, since i wasn’t catching him online at lunch anymore. other friends we’d grown up with expressed the same shock as me. he was gone, there seemed not to have been an altercation prompting his death, and initially, the main suspect was nowhere to be found.
once jack’s murderer was apprehended, there were no easy answers. there were pleas of insanity, there were four separate competency hearings, there were further delays when this guy attacked and choked his cell mate. my heart broke for jack’s family, wishing them closure and to find out why this happened, if that would bring them some peace.
it took years until small steps towards resolution took place. the guy was put on medication, and eventually deemed fit to stand trial. a trial date was set. the trial happened, the guy was found guilty. and just last thursday, he was sentenced. it will be 57 years before he is eligible for parole.
i still think about jack often. he’s the reason i won’t deactivate my facebook account, since our reconnection was such an unexpected treat. now that the sentence has been passed, jack’s name won’t periodically appear in my email, alerting me to developments in the case. i won’t share those updates with the kids we grew up with. jack’s been gone for almost four years, but now there’ll be additional silence when i think of him. i still remember him pulling on my hair during class in kindergarten, and am grateful for the time we got to spend getting to know each other as adults.
i hope his family finds some comfort in the conviction. i hope they are doing well, and that they know how jack touched a lot of people with his warmth, sincerity, and desire to reconnect with old friends. i hope they know that he’s still remembered even by those of us who were orbiting the outer circles of his social life. and mostly, i hope that everyone who knew jack never has to experience this kind of senseless act ever again.
the other years i’ve written this post, i’ve been able to get it done for New Year’s. not this time. a perfect example of the general frenzy and too-busy-ness of this year. let’s review chronologically:
- Kid Simple: holy shit. this was really hard. my cast was amazing and patient, the rest of the team was brilliant and ambitious, it was just, really, truly hard. there was a lot going on and it was stressful and we finally got it up and i didn’t get to watch the show anymore because the consistent rapid-fire pace of the cues was relentless. so honestly? i have no idea what the show we performed looked like. but you bet your ass i know *exactly* how it sounded.
- 29-hour Punk Rock Adventure: for our birthdays, Jen and i decided to head up/down to Berkeley and go see Pansy Division at Gilman St. this was the best idea ever. we used to go see Pansy Division in high school every chance we got, and while jen has spent many a night hanging out at the legendary Gilman St. venue, i had never been there. we gathered our fun-loving troops to the east bay, wandered around on telegraph, took a hotel shuttle to the club, finished off the bottle of whiskey in the parking lot, and danced our asses off, with a crowd consisting of a mix of 15-year-olds and people we recognized from going to punk shows 15 years ago. it was a total blast, and something i’m really glad jen talked me into despite my protests of being too busy and it being too short a trip to be worth it. i was wrong. insane amounts of fun.
- Adding Machine: i’m sad about the timing of this show, because i overlapped Adding Machine rehearsals with the run of Kid Simple, and it was a bad idea. i LOVED Adding Machine, and i am so happy i did it, but i was already fried by day 1. i do think i did a good job, and i had wonderful experiences with the many new people i worked with on this show, i just wish i’d been able to give it my full, less-exhausted attention.
- while Kid Simple was running and Adding Machine was rehearsing, i went on the road with a show for the first time. it was an educational children’s show about water conservation, game-show format with audience participation. we rehearsed a bit in portland, drove up to kent, washington and performed it five times over two days, then packed up the van and came home. the second best part about going on tour was the unexpected free time: the first day we were done with work by 12:30, so we had the entire rest of the day to goof off, and goof off we did. we got lunch, got ice cream, went to target to buy gear so we could use the hotel pool and hot tub, went to a bar, went to a movie, went back to our hotel to hot tub, and went to another bar. the best part about going on tour were my completely fabulous travel companions. total win. love ya both.
- when Adding Machine closed in may, i dropped. i’d been going a thousand miles an hour since january, and i slammed on the brakes and became a only-leaves-the-house-for-food-or-to-work hermit. eventually i started to emerge to do some social stuff, which was good.
- i tried to go see my dad for father’s day, but was thwarted by the airline.
- i successfully went to san diego for the long Fourth of July weekend, which was super fun as always. i timed my return flight to portland perfectly; as we flew up the coastline, we could look down and see clusters of fireworks happening who-knows-how-many-miles-apart, and it was a really cool experience.
- in august i rejoined the world fully, trying to cram in all the socializing i could before the start of my season. i managed a weekend in san francisco, a weekend out on the coast, and a bunch of plays and happy hours.
- september entirely went to shit, like, immediately. my good friend’s baby was in the hospital, having successful but still plenty scary heart surgery. (he’s doing super great now.) another loved one was in and out of the hospital at the same time. in both situations i felt powerless and anxious (not my natural state), and i carried around tension in a way that made me feel physically sick and pretty much constantly on the verge of tears. in all the ways that count, my attempt at the third annual month of rocktember was a total bust.
- Animals & Plants: though overlapping with the month of shit-tember, i had a pretty great time working on my season opener. chris murray is so high up on my list of people i like to work with that when he called to offer me the gig during Kid Simple tech, i said yes without knowing who else was involved or (honestly) the name of the show. [i’m sure he told me, but i was probably yelling something like “FUCKER, I AM IN TECH LIKE YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE AND CANNOT TALK TO YOU NOW, YES I’LL DO THE SHOW, MY BRAIN IS EXPLODING AND CANNOT PROCESS THIS INFORMATION, TALK TO ME IN TWO WEEKS. SHUT UP I SAID I’LL DO IT, YAY WE’RE WORKING TOGETHER AGAIN.”] we had to recast an actor a couple weeks into rehearsal, so that added a layer of challenge to things, but for the most part it was smooth sailing, it was great to work with chris, joe, and cameron again, and all the new-to-me people i got to work with (mike, collin(sworth), jason, nikki, and jon) were wonderful. we also had one of my all-time favorite rehearsals, where we headed over to a seedy motel on Interstate and rehearsed there instead of the theater. it was totally fun and also really helped us nail the “eww… don’t want to be here…” vibe we were going for. lastly, one piece of takeaway knowledge from this gig: if you ever decide to Right Guard your balls, the blue can (any scent) is fine, but the brown can is burn-y. you’re welcome.
- Hunter Gatherers: tom and i started rehearsing this show, and fairly quickly realized we were experiencing post-traumatic-Kid-Simple-stress. he kept saying things like “wait, this feels easy. what are we fucking up? what are we forgetting?” and i kept saying things like “no, it’s just going really well. you’re freaking out. we’re just broken for the next two years, everything we do is going to feel easy.” we teched over New Year’s, are still open now, and despite a very involved pre-show and clean up, it still feels easy (and booth-wise, totally is). of course there were some hiccups (random injuries, sicknesses, people late with their whatever), but i think he and i both spent a lot of time waiting for some catastrophe to drop which never did.
- i went to SF for christmas, where my parents and i all caught my brother’s cold despite him trying hard not to give it to us. they got better in a timely fashion, but mine mutated from a head cold to a chest cold to a who knows, and i remained sick until about january 20th. it was total bullshit.
good things not to be glossed over:
- the Kid Simple peeps hung out more and in larger groups than any show i’ve done in recent memory, and it was really cool. a first for me: pre-matinee breakfast where we got together at someone’s house & cooked together. (of course i was late. non-mandatory morning shit + me = i’m running late)
- the night before the aforementioned punk rock adventure, tom had bought me tickets to the thermals show (they are always super fun), nicely rounding out my weekend so it just entirely rocked. when his birthday rolled around, one of our new favorite bands, Movits! was coming to town, so i bought him tickets to that. emily, tom, and i were three of maybe 50 people in the whole venue, so it was like being at a private party (though we could not understand how the portland indie music scene missed the fact that there was a swedish swing hip hop band playing. i repeat: they are rapping in swedish while playing swing music. AMAZEBALLS. why on earth was this show not packed?) this was one of the best, most fun nights EVER. as tom said “i don’t speak swedish, but i do speak flow.” movits, kom gärna tillbaka, herrar.
- during Animals & Plants, i had enough available time off from work that i took a week off for tech week. repeat: i had no day job during tech week. i’m totally spoiled now, because it was incredible. on opening night people kept telling me how good i looked, and i had to keep explaining that i was WELL RESTED ON OPENING NIGHT. such a thing has never occurred before.
looking forward to:
- YOU GUYS! i am going to New Orleans, like, now! jen’s birthday is coming up, and she organized a gigantic posse of fabulous people and we’re heading down in less than two weeks. i just got my time off from work approved, and am super excited. it’s going to kick ass, and kick my ass too. can’t wait.
- i’m upgrading my technology sometime this year: gonna get a smarter smartphone (poor neglected webOS. i’ll miss you when i leave you for android.), and am getting an iPad. ya’all know how much i like gadgets, so i am stoked.
- i work all the time. i know. it’s on purpose. but i have learned my goddamn lesson and am not going to overlap like i did. that was a bad plan. bad plan. looking forward to a little self-imposed work/life balance.
2011, i won’t miss you. your highs did not outweigh your lows. generally, with occasional pops of greatness, you were lame. good riddance. let’s go, 2012. time for a great year.