I think if there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself in recent months it’s that I have an extremely high amount of reservations. I am perpetually afraid to do something. There isn’t any specific thing or particular fear, it’s just the act of doing. I guess everyone probably has gone through this type of thing, but to be frank, I’m getting annoyed with me. There are a handful of things I have gone through the entire process of preparing for and taking every step toward and yet I refuse to actually jump. I have money invested in places that I have yet to make use of. I’ve sunk more time into not doing than doing.
The awesome part about this blog is that when I spoke about goals and challenging myself, I was forced to do so. I promised a bunch of strangers I would, how could I back out now? Why that was motivation, I dont have a clue. But it was. So I’m going to make some more promises, readers. I will follow through on them.
I have, in my stash of things I have yet to use but have spent plenty of time making, a beat that I made in the style of an Astronautalis song using a Bob Dylan guitar riff. I have lyrics written to said beat. They aren’t completed, but they are partially in existence and are good enough that I don’t want to let them go. So I will make a song. I will not promise anything as far as the quality of it. I do promise that it will be a real thing and (if it’s in any way good) available for download. Which means I should probably make a place to make music downloadable. Yeah, I’ll do that too.
I’ve got a portfolio of all my published and notable writing that I’ve done, from newspaper articles to website content, to school papers. It’s all scaled, clickable, and accessible. Well, aside from the fact that no one else can access it. I’ve fiddled with the coding to try to make it viewable in a more esthetically pleasing manner, and it has gone somewhere between “poorly” and “you’re just typing things without knowing what it’ll even do now, aren’t you?” I will get that online and viewable by next week, partially to show off and partially to sell myself like the attention starved whore that I truly am.
With the addition of the portfolio, I plan to pursue my preferred means of employment, freelance writing. Unless someone will pay me to do nothing, or to not do something. I’m really good at not doing things. Seeing as that is about as likely as me getting paid a proper wage in retail (Hah! This joke is depressing…), I figure I might as well see if I can do something I actually enjoy doing. Crazy concept, I know. I’m continuing to look for work and have taken on a pretty open approach now. I’ve gotten a few offers of things that I would normally turn down or be questionable about and I’m giving them a fair try now, because I’ve gotten to the point of “why not?” So if you need something written and you are willing to pay, I am your whore…er, writer.
I’ve got a green screen built. Don’t ask me why, just know that I have one. I built the frame to a green screen. I would like to use it because if you have a green screen and don’t use it, there are a lot of things wrong. One of the things that will push me to actually use the green screen (did I mention I had a green screen? Who the hell has a green screen?) would be a camera. So I’m just going to go ahead and buy a nice camera. If I get half as much use out of the thing as I think I will, it’ll be worth it. Besides, who doesn’t need an awesome camera that they don’t have a clue what they’re going to do with?
So blog, I demand that you hold me to these things. Make me do them, because if I don’t, I’m a liar. No one likes a liar, except probably other liars but they would lie about it. These are reservations I can fix. My other ones? It’s a little more difficult. You probably can’t keep me from feeling awkward making first contact with someone. I have this thing where I feel like I’m interrupting something, and I make the immediate assumption that whatever it is I’m interrupting is more important or at the very least more interesting than a text message that has a barely clever punchline that loosely ties into the fact that I want to talk to them. Which sucks, because it makes me feel like I give the impression that I don’t care. And I do. Probably too much because it makes me have ridiculous notions about how my text messages are interpreted. I guess the point is if I weren’t afraid of coming off need and too talkative, there would be people I would be talking to as I type this. But I digress, some things cannot be solved via blog post. One step at a time, blog. We’ll fix my other fucked up thoughts and complete lack of understanding in social situations later.
Lines must be drawn.
The massive protests and organized movements that lined the streets of Madison, Wisconsin over the past three weeks have dissipated somewhat. However, the plight of Union workers in Wisconsin and around the United States does not end simply because of this piece of legislation. While the activism and assemblage have slowed, the passion has not. Those who continue to fight the fight for workers rights have devoted more time and energy to the cause than any politician has ever promised to. Perhaps in this lies one of the great things that will come out of Madison. After many days of promise, support from around the world, a takeover of the internet news feeds, and an educated uprising, a defeat in legislature in Wisconsin could very well be the start of victory in populous politics.
What started with a gathering of a few hundred union workers and supporters turned to over one hundred thousand people surrounding the capitol building in Madison, with hundreds claiming the inside of the capitol as their own. While concerns for the capitol building were raised, the protesters adopted it as their own, referring to it regularly as their “house.” This newfound pride for the building and the democratic process is one of the most important things that can come from the events of the past nearly full month. The people who have been present outside the capitol as well as in it for days on end have shown, more than anything, their dedication to their rights. This fight has been for the collective bargaining rights of union workers and state employees, but has called upon the rights of the full citizenry to do so. As thousands of people create signs, organize petitions, and write up pamphlets, others simply walk in solidarity. No way is wrong, and every part of it has been exactly how the process is supposed to work. Democracy works best with an engaged populous. What Mr. Walker has learned is that there is better way to engage a populous than to threaten one. What is perhaps most frightening about this is the attempt by politicians, those who are supposed to represent their citizens and protect their rights, have attempted to strip them away. As Walker attempted to push a 144-page piece of legislation through the assembly and senate that included a portion to strip collective bargaining, it was greeted with masses of workers who would be effected. More impressive, however, were the masses of people who had no affiliation to the unions that showed up day after day. Walker and others did their best to silence the protesters, which only lead to a louder response. This is what happens when citizens become involved; the become enraged as they realize what exactly happens in politics.
What can one hope to see after Wisconsin’s protesters became more aware, more engaged, and more knowledgeable as to what their governor and elected officials had planned? The idea of political transparency forced by an informed populous doesn’t seem like too much to ask for. There are a constant flow of bills passing through legislation with attached addendums and earmarks to send off political favors. Budget bills are so filled with small print that it is nearly impossible to know exactly where all the money of the taxpayers is going, but millions of dollars can be sent off in any direction in a simple sentence. As the people of Wisconsin informed themselves of what exactly was in Mr. Walker’s bill, outrage continued to pour out. As more and more of the small print became magnified, more and more people showed their displeasure with the process. While the hope for Mr. Walker to show what’s in his agenda rather than just tell may be gone, it doesn’t mean that other politicians cannot be held to this standard. If anything is unaccounted for or unexplained in a piece of legislation, the citizens, those who are affected, have every right to know and the duty to find out. We no longer live in an age where political agendas are kept hidden and deals are done under the table unbeknownst to the public at large. Every last move is analyzed and every bill reviewed with a careful eye. The problem is, this has been after the fact. We take a fine tooth comb to the text of bills once they have already gone through. Wisconsin’s citizens have shown exactly what one must do to prevent these pieces of legislation from going through; meet it head on and give the voting members hell. What’s most scary about what happened in Wisconsin is even with a hundred thousand people in the streets, even with an informed, organized, riled base, even with a discovered agenda, the bill to end collective bargaining passed. It passed through the back door on a legal technicality that essentially left Walker with the option of saying he lied about his intentions or he passed it illegally, but Walker was willing to take those options to get the piece of legislation through. Wisconsinites put on a show of political awareness and sensibility that must be duplicated around the U.S. if there is any hope of turning our elected officials into servants of the people rather than of their own interests.
On the topic of interests, it became increasingly clear throughout the process of the protests that the intentions of killing collective bargaining was not simply a budget issue but a political power play. Unions, Mr. Walker and many of his republican constitutes felt, are too strong and play too much of a role in politics. What is frightening to admit to many is that Mr. Walker is correct in one thing, unions have plenty of political power. Three of the top ten donators to political campaigns in 2008 were organized unions. Where Mr. Walker’s agenda becomes extremely clear, however, is in the fact that the other seven largest political donators were private conservative donors and that their donations trump the unions. The reason he probably fails to mention this is that Mr. Walker was the recipient of donations from one of the largest givers to the Republican party through loopholes in the campaign finance limits. Funded on the back of billionaire brothers, Walker only received $43,125 in contributions directly to him from the Koch brothers of Koch Industries. However, the brothers also gave $1 million to the Republican Governor’s Association, $65,000 of which was given from the WGA to Walker directly, while the rest was used to fund part of the RGA’s $3.4 million campaign against Walker’s opposition. So where Walker is correct, too much is spent on political campaigns, he is also the beneficiary of the exact same thing. Spending on politics by any organization, public or private, need to be limited. Killing his competition may have just killed Walker’s own donators as well, as he has drawn attention to the need for reforming campaign finance rules. If a candidate is going to win on the backs of unions or corporations and proceed to hand out benefits to those who financed them rather than those who they are elected to represent, that candidate is of no benefit to the greater good. Until the citizens’ best interest is represented, politicians and their donors will continue a game of give-back to one another. Mr. Walker is no exception to the rule.
While citizens took more and more attention to the agenda of politicians, the media stood by surprisingly silent. CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News all took their quick looks at the events of Madison, but not one of them followed the story regularly. Important, groundbreaking news like a Charlie Sheen interview drowned out the sounds of a political uprising in America’s borders. Even the President barely mentioned the political positioning of Mr. Walker as he attempted to destroy organizations that helped Obama get elected. Nonetheless, Wisconsin was not ignored. While the major media outlets stayed silent, Twitter was full of updates with the tags #wiunion, #wearewi, and #notmywi making their way across the twitterverse and appearing all over the world. The phrase “FitzWalkerstan” even became a global trending topic. The protesters in Madison broadcast the events live on uStream which saw to the tune of 10,000 viewers live from around the world at any given time. Bloggers spread the word and became sources for one another as events from the field by some were matched with research of the bill by others. Youtube was flooded with footage from each day as more and more developments continued to occur. A news stream on Google for the protests and collective bargaining rights emerged. Facebook became filled with groups and events to better organize and have meet ups for discussion and debate. The internet became the forum for the world to see, hear, and participate in all things Wisconsin, and participate they did. Donations from all over flooded in to local eateries as people from countries on every continent bought food for the protestors. Globalization in its truest form arrived, as the newly free citizens of Egypt sent their support to the members of the Madison protest that fought to preserve the rights those Egyptians rebelled for. The media ignored it, but the world did not.
If there is one thing to take from the protests in Wisconsin, it is this: the status quo will no longer suffice. This is a citizenry that exists not to be ignored, not to be abused, not to be destroyed. What is this? This is what democracy looks like.
This is a post I’ve needed to write but haven’t been able to. As of this very moment, there are 1,944 miles between my best friend and I. I should qualify this by saying this isn’t the first time I’ve had a close friend move away, but this time feels…different. I can’t exactly explain why, but going from seeing a person every day to talking via telephone, text message, instant messengers, and social networking is a challenge. Those things are all great and have made communication a breeze. It takes very little to keep in touch anymore, just the effort of actually contacting a person, but it’s not quite the same. I literally spent about half of the time I was awake every day with this girl. We worked together, we worked out together, we at lunch and dinner together nearly every day. One of us had errands to run? The other tags along. One of us needs help with something? The other was there in a flash. It’s not like we lost our friendship, that is very much in tact. It would take more than a couple long stretches of highway to damage that. But there’s definitely a feel of something missing right now.
It’s not like I can’t put my finger on what it is. I know exactly what it is. It’s everything. It’s the fact that we both spent more on gas money driving around for hours at night, just talking and jamming to music, than we would have spent doing our normal “home, work, and back home” trips. It’s the fact that if I try to cook something and fail miserably, I don’t have her here to prod me with insults and embarrass me to no end (only to get covered in flour herself, I may add. I ain’t going out like no punk). It’s the fact that the person that got me to talk about my hopes and aspirations and I told my craziest ideas and dreams to, things that I feared if I told people they wouldn’t take seriously, may not be here to see me live those out. And I won’t have that part of my support system near by if I need it. It’s the fact that I saw her through so many miserable circumstances, difficulties, hang ups, and pitfalls and I don’t get to be there in person to see the next chapter of her life start. It’s the fact that despite those atrocities life committed against her, she still smiled every day, and I can’t see that any longer. It’s the fact that my best friend isn’t here and I’m not there for some of the most important times in our lives.
I think one of the coolest things to come out of our friendship isn’t just the closeness between her and I, but the acceptance of me by her family as a whole. I adore my family, they give me everything I could ask for and have done ridiculously splendid things for me and I love them dearly. Now I feel as though I have a whole other family that I have nothing but admiration for. Over the course of about six months, Angela’s parents house became a regular destination for me. It went from being the in-between stop from the dog park to home, where I would hang out for an hour or so and have a cookie or whatever the freshly baked dessert was for that night while completing (or attempt to complete) the crossword in that day’s paper, to a hang out after work, to a full fledge second home. It was such a welcoming and friendly environment, with a home cooked meal waiting every time one would pass through the door. It was hard to leave sometimes, not because I didn’t want to be at my house or with my family, but because one never knew what was to come in Angela’s house. There were multiple occasions of human vs. animal wrestling matches, midnight baking sprees, and movie marathons with the most entertaining live commentary one could imagine. All of these things are simple, but they became the norm to me. My days often went “school, Angela’s house, work (with Angela), YMCA to workout (with Angela), Angela’s house (post-workout meal, because our metabolism is high and we convince ourselves that makes it ok to have chocolate), home.” Not to avoid anyone else or anything in particular, it’s just those days were so enjoyable that I didn’t even think of breaking that routine most days.
Over the past two months, that routine changed slightly. The inevitable cloud of Angela’s move loomed over our days. As excited as I was for her, and truly still am, it was still a hard pill to swallow sometimes. I wanted this move for her because I knew it’s what she needed. It’s what would make her the happiest that she could be, and she could start living the rest of her life where she wanted to; with her husband. So since January, much of the time spent in Angela’s house was done so with boxes and packing tape in hand. Day by day, more tasks were done. Clothes sorted, drawers emptied, books and movies organized. Items from past trigger memories. Moments relived. New memories created while boxing up the old ones. Fast forward to March 3rd. Watching everything we packed, the furniture we moved, the bed frames we disassembled, be loaded up into a truck to be taken out to Washington. Reality. Angela and her parents started their drive from Madison to Mukilteo the next morning. About 1,000 hugs, “I’ll miss you’s,” some tears, and a 3am “see you later” in between. March 7th and she’s in her apartment. I’ve never been happier for someone else and sadder for myself at the same. Self-pity is an ugly thing and I do my best to shrug it off.
I still have gone to Angela’s house here in Madison every day. I check on her family’s dogs while her sister, who is housesitting, is at work. It’s the same house, but it’s strange. It’s a lot more open, it used to be a very cozy environment. That’s what happens when you remove nearly 2,000 pounds of living necessities from one place to move to another I suppose. It’s still a home, and it still houses a family I hold dear. But it no longer houses my best friend.
It’s so hard to watch the ups and downs from a distance now. It’s only been a few days, but I can’t do it. I can’t be there physically to help things along. There is no pat on the back or hug to offer in difficult moments. No poking and popcorn throwing while watching movies. No baking and eating the ingredients together, nor the occasional ending up covered in them. All of this sounds so miserable when typed out and to be honest it’s difficult to even put into words, but I’m doing my best.
I’ve focused too much on the things that suck, I fear. I still get to talk to her every single day, and have. I’ve spent more time on the phone actually talking over the time she’s been gone than I have in a long time, which is probably even more impressive considering the amount of texting back and forth, and instant messaging when she’s had internet access to save battery on her phone. Communication is not lost, and neither is any part of the friendship aside from the physically being there part. I spent an hour or so last night looking up puppies with her. It’s literally the exact same thing we would have done if she were still here. It would take a lot more than 1,944 miles to keep me from my best friend. I intend to prove that every day.
What is the most effective way of covering a bunch of things in a short period of time? Larry King style.
-Finished Lord Loss, the first of Darren Shan’s “Demonata” series. Definitely some more “adult” themes for a teen book than his previous works. His writing style rubbed me the wrong way at first with his very short, abrasive sentences. They grew on me as the story went along. When it comes to tense moments, shortness and abrupt descriptions really rush you as a reader to keep reading, making the scene filled with that much more anxiety.
-Re-read The Will to Whatevs by Eugene Mirman over the past two days and it still makes me laugh out loud. For the sake of the book, this is a good thing. For the sake of my dignity, it’s really embarrassing to be sitting in a public place and laughing aloud. I either look like I’m having a really good time by myself and thoroughly enjoy my own company or extremely suspicious in the “I would totally get thrown off a plane for acting like this” kind of way.
-Next book on my reading list: I, Lucifer. I could just copy and paste the description of the book, but instead I’m going to guess what it’s about based only on the title: “Glen Duncan’s novel is an autobiographical piece out the several years of his life that he spent playing the role of Lucifer in a traveling off-Broadway production of the musical “Idle Hands.” During the tour across America, Glen began to fall into a very bleak, doleful place as he took on the character of the Prince of Darkness. It wasn’t until the production’s stint in Canada that things started getting out of hand. Duncan chronicles his expedition through North America and his odd transformation as he became engulfed in his character and faces his biggest fear; being Satan.” Did I nail it?
-Finally finished up a “Friends” page for this site, so go check out all my fellow creators over there. They all have tons of awesome work that makes me extremely jealous of them and secretly despise them. I will continue to be their friends on the off chance that one becomes rich and I can mooch off of them though, because that’s what friends do.
-In one of my next few posts, I plan to reveal some future plans and goals of mine, specifically relating to this blog and some other web-based projects. Will I actually follow through with them, I don’t know. But I do know that by telling other people that I have these plans and then not completing them makes me feel like a giant asshole. The hope is having the pressure of not wanting to come off as an asshole, giant or otherwise, will motivate me to complete these plans. I suggest sticking around and seeing what happens.
-Protests continue in Madison and I don’t plan on letting that topic fall completely to the wayside. News coverage dwindles (it was there to begin with?) but thousands upon thousands continue to show up and line the streets surrounding the capitol. This doesn’t go away simply because the news vans have. This revolution will take place on new media if the old is afraid of it.
-Just for the record, just about nothing about this post was very Larry King-like. He used to write articles for USA Today that were basically random thoughts that popped into that old, delusional, liver spot-covered head of his. A lot of it was somewhat nonsensical because, you know, he’s old. What does he know? But most of his writing was pick a topic, one sentence and move on. If my goal was to duplicate that, I failed. I did succeed in talking about things no one’s really that interested in though, so 50% isn’t awful. I’m just kidding, Larry King. I know you’re an avid reader of this.
What was all that? So, yeah. Check back for more stuff. Hopefully complete thoughts and more formed sentences next time.
I spent Sunday night writing the preamble of the Constitution of the United States on the front steps of the Capitol building in Madison along with my closest friend and three people we had never met. We were approached by police officers, whom offered their support and appreciation for us. It felt…backward. It wasn’t how it was supposed to be. The police serve the citizens to keep them safe. But for that hour during which we helped recreate the opening text of the Constitution, for those brief moments that we talked to those officers, something became clear. We, along with the five-hundred people who remained locked within the confides of the capitol, were protecting them.
“We the people of the United States”
Many nations around the world embrace their own heritage in a very unified way because the majority of their populations were born in raised in the same nation as their forefathers. America doesn’t have these unified cultural events per say. The ancestry of many in this nation can be traced all over the world. America is the melting pot of cultures, for better or worse. What is perhaps most powerful about this happenstance in the populace is what exactly does draw these people together. What brings 100,000 people together in one place, during a snowstorm no less, to organize and peacefully fight for what they believe in? What draws the attention of every state in America and dozens upon dozens of other countries, from people of every color, profession, tradition, and belief? A common goal, a similar ending, and a mutual enemy. For Wisconsinites, and for those around the world that have thrown in their support, it started with the Labor Union protests.
“in Order to form a more perfect Union,”
What has continued pushing these protests into their third week, though, has not been the fight for Union rights alone. Rather, a new subplot has emerged once the smoke had cleared from a prank phone call, a few TV interviews, and one Anonymous “hacktivist” attack. As Governor Scott Walker aims to shrink the size of Unions for political gain, the largest donor to his campaign, the Koch brothers, have found themselves in the crosshairs of a new type of electorate. For two weeks, hundreds of thousands of men and women has sat, danced, sang, ran, and slept in the rotunda of the capitol building. Their every movement on Sunday evening was the topic of every household with a TV set that somehow managed to not be continuous Oscar coverage. But once it became clear they were not going to budge, and no one was going to make them, new cards began to surface on the board. The fact of the matter is, this isn’t their movement. This isn’t a left vs. right thing; it is a people vs. government thing. This is Americans from every nook in this nation reminding their elected officials “you work for us, you listen to us, or you won’t have a job.”
“establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility”
While we learned from Mr. Walker’s prank call experience that he and his advisors considered planting “troublemakers” in the protest crowds to draw negative exposure to them, it would not be difficult to spot any planted violence in the crowd. For over two weeks, the hundreds of thousands of people that have lined the streets surrounding the capitol have been as peaceful and as open as any group could be. In the largest demonstrations of protest since Vietnam, there have been no arrests, no one detained, no signs of fights or violent behavior. This is a peace that hasn’t been enforced by legislation or law enforcement, but rather by the people themselves. Anyone who has exposed themselves to the crowds as they gather for drum circles, chants, musical performances, stump speeches, or whatever may be happening, has to realize that the disposition of these people is not negative. There is no hatred flowing for the people who oppose them, but rather positivity about what they are doing themselves. The mood is overwhelmingly optimistic, or at least was for the first two weeks. As of the weekend since the bill passed State Assembly, an eerie silence has fallen over much of the capitol grounds. There is palpable tension that surrounds the area, as no one really knows what will happen. Yet despite this, they continue to show up, they continue to remain in the capitol building, and they continue to hold their ground, and it truly has become their ground.
“provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare,”
The people who spent their days in the capitol building were to be forcibly removed and arrested if they did not leave by 4pm on Sunday. By 4:01pm on Sunday, there were over five hundred people still inside the capitol who did not plan to move. Some sat, waiting to be dragged out. Others continued dancing, chanting, and singing. The police force began to organize and threats of the National Guard arriving were surfacing. By 5:00pm, a simple chant of “We’re still here” echoed throughout the rotunda of the capitol. Threats continued to pour upon these people, as bathroom doors were to be locked in order to create a health hazard to require the building to be shut down. The bathrooms were reopened minutes later as it became clear no one planned on changing their plans. Wireless internet access was shut down, but updates continued to come in through smart phone data feeds. Updates to Facebook and Twitter, photos, and even live video streams from phones made it clear to all those watching this occurrence from outside that these people were dedicated to what they are standing for. And they did not stand alone. Among the crowd of five hundred that remained in the capitol were off-duty firemen and police officers, ready to face everything that their fellow citizens were about to. And when the doors locked, keeping people from the outside from coming in, it did not keep the food from arriving. Just as has been happening all week, people have continued to order food for the protesters and had it delivered to them. This situation was a little different. No one could make his or her way in, nor could anyone come out to retrieve it. So the food was slipped in through windows as it was passed along to those inside. This is a population that takes care of one another.
“and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”
Throughout this entire event, the people of Wisconsin have been playing locked in an interesting match between Mr. Scott Walker. The initial analogy that may come to mind would involve chess, but it has become clear of the past several days that Mr. Walker is no longer playing the same game, or at the very least has begun to ignore rules. From the State Assembly’s speed vote to pass the bill to the complete lack of compromise and threat of lay offs, the man has done all he can to ignore his opposition. This is why the continued protest is important to the democratic process. This may be the most significant thing that will come from this entire event. When your representatives ignore you, you do everything you can to make sure they can’t. The term “representative” is not mean to be any loose interpretation of the word. Those men and women are elected on the basis that they will stand for the rights and liberties of their people correspond with their citizenry. When they fail to do so, they no longer serve their purpose, and it is the duty of the electorate to make their voices acknowledged. The five hundred people who defiantly stayed inside the capitol building overnight at the threat of arrest not only took back their voice; they grabbed a megaphone, too. When the system has failed its citizens, its citizens must not fail the system. It is their duty to make the sure those who abuse powers, who forward destructive agendas, and who bend rules are no longer allowed to participate in the process. The true power in democracy belongs to the people. This movement is the people realizing that.
“do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
The police officers that came to talk to us as we wrote the words above thanked us. Why did they thank us? Because what has been happening downtown isn’t just a group of people who are upset their income will be reduced, it’s the electorate telling the government that legislation doesn’t live and die in their hands. It does in ours. The thousands of protesters walking around the streets downtown aren’t doing it for their own benefit. They continue to protest every day in order to make sure that they, along with everyone else, has the ability to do this in the future. They are making sure the voice of the people is not lost amongst the noise of unwelcome legislation, hidden agendas, and political jargon. They are participating in democracy by making sure it doesn’t die. For that, they should be thanked.