Monthly Archives: January 2017

Why I Went to Trump’s Inauguration, What it Was Like, and What I Learned About Myself.

I’m still trying to process my inauguration day experience. When I was there on Friday, living in it, I didn’t have much time or energy to examine all of the things happening around me. I used all yesterday to compress after returning to Northeastern PA from the inauguration and Woman’s March in DC, and spent the day trying to find peace of mind by watching the first season of Parks and Rec (what a funny show!), yogaing, and eating my weight in Korma Paneer.

So here’s what I experienced at the DC Inauguration:

When I told people that I would be attending the inauguration, most questioned why and what my motives were. I spent time meditating on whether I should attend the inauguration since election day, and the more heated the country became on both sides, the more I felt compelled to attend. Inaugurations are historic days, regardless of who is president, and I’ve never attended one before. My professor gave me and two of my friends permission to miss class to attend, and since Scranton is only about a 4.5 hour drive from D.C., I knew I would regret it if I didn’t go.

So that’s the easy answer to why I went: because I could and it is a historic day. My true, number 1 reason for attending was to promote love and to act as a representative of peace, to represent the ideology that we can communicate with each other even if we think differently, that we can listen to each other, and that true, positive change can happen if it’s governed by an underlying value of love. I expected that there would be a lot of anger and emotion on both sides of the inauguration, and I wanted to show others that it is a possibility to attend to issues with an open heart and mind.

We drove late Thursday night to my friends’ home in Harrisburg where we slept for a few hours. (Shoutout to Mike and Dana for letting us stay at their beautiful home! And to Brendan who let us stay Friday night!) At 5am we embarked to drive the rest of the way to Rockville, Maryland, where we parked the car at the metro station. The Rockville stop on the metro station is one of the last stops on that subway line, which means that it’s one of the furthest stops from capitol where we were headed.  When we got on the train, there was a family of four with a sign that said “need 1 more silver ticket for inauguration”. They looked sad, and even a little pathetic, to me, but now thinking about it in hindsight, they probably were just tired, and I allowed my bias to form an opinion about them. There was another Trump-supporting Baby Boomer couple, who were dressed patriotically, the wife even donning a red, white, and blue scrunchie. I looked directly at them, but they wouldn’t make eye contact with me. I soon would find out that this would be the norm for many of the Trump supporters. Anyways, the train was pretty much empty, and we had our choice of seats.

We got out at Metro Station, in downtown DC, where roads were blocked off all around the Capitol. We walked around for a little while to get our bearings and then decided to make our signs on the steps of a lavish apartment building, on the same block of a checkpoint for people who had tickets to the inauguration. I had some leftover “Stein/Baraka” lawn signs that I brought with me, which turned out to be really durable protest signs, so thanks again, Green Party, for helping me be an advocate. All of our signs promoted love. Mine said “True Change Only Comes from Love”, Kim’s said “Love Trumps Hate”, and Dawn’s read “If It Isn’t Intersectional, it isn’t Feminism”. Throughout the day people told us that we had the right idea, gave us thumbs up, and asked to take pictures of us, which was encouraging, and helped me keep my head up in a place of strong emotions and negativity.

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Me, Dawn, and Kim at the beginning of Inauguration Day.

The first group we came across was where we were making our signs, outside of a security checkpoint for people who had tickets to the inauguration to enter. The Freedom Socialist Party held a demonstration outside of the checkpoint so any Trump supporters who wanted to get into the inauguration would have to pass through them. There were probably 40(?I’m pretty bad with estimating people sizes) people dancing and chanting. I heard later that they also had a gay dance party outside the security checkpoint, so Trump supporters would have to walk through shirtless gay men in glitter and butch women in cargo pants dancing to George Michael. I am OK with this type of demonstration. However, it was during this early morning protest that I saw the only violence of my trip. My group wanted to walk over one block, and the easiest way to do this was to walk through the demonstration and turn the corner. Behind us, a few young, college-aged men, donned in the red hats and dark trench coats, tried to follow in our path. All of a sudden, a bunch of demonstrators started screaming “Shame! Shame! Shame!” in their faces. I’m not one who would protest in this way, but the protesters weren’t really doing anything wrong. The three of us were pushed to to the side, while a police officer helped escort the Trump supporters through the crowd. Then, the cop grasped his hands together in front of him and forcefully, and violently, rammed himself through a group of the protesters, causing a few of them to fall to the pavement hard. This was the only violence I witnessed, and I have to be honest, if I’m truly trying to be objective, it was the Trump supporters who really did nothing wrong in this situation, however they did seem smug when the police officer forcefully pushed people away to get them into the security checkpoint line.

We did see an Antifa group marching and running through the streets with their signs held high shortly after this occurrence in the morning. Antifa appears frightening if you don’t know about them, and I know many on the right and left want them to be labelled as domestic terrorists. They’re a militant left group, and support fear tactics, such as bearing arms while wearing masks that cover their faces. Antifa was the most radical group I saw at the inauguration, and I believe they were the ones who burned the limo in the over-sensationalized “riots” that were depicted on mainstream media and who punched Richard Spenser in the face.

The first mean-spirited thing said to us was right after a reporter from CBS asked to take our picture. A group of well dressed and groomed white, 20-somethings, in red hats, walked by, sniffed the air, and said “smells like hippie” and all laughed while they past us. We received numerous other statements like this throughout the day, all of which were unprovoked. While we stood in the inauguration line, one Trump supporter turned to Kim and asked her if she was a Trump supporter because her sign read “Love Trumps Hate”. Kim calmly replied that she supports love, and wasn’t a Trump supporter. He was condescending towards her, I had to take a few deep breaths and remind myself why I was at the inauguration, in order to not say anything negative to him and his group. I am so proud of us for not giving in to negativity during the inauguration, especially in times I felt threatened.

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Mixed Crowd of Supporters and Protesters Waiting in Inauguration Line

So, yeah, we stood in line to get into the inauguration, even though we didn’t have tickets, simply because we didn’t know where else to go. Almost everyone in line was a protester. There were a few businesses that opened their doors for people to use their bathrooms, and one business even had free hot chocolate and coffee available. It was easy to tell what businesses were protest friendly because they didn’t look any different than their normal state. We didn’t dare try to use the bathrooms in the businesses that were decked out in all things MAGA, which there were a bunch of.

After I watched on my phone Trump’s swearing in, we marched in the Anti-Inauguration March which had demonstrators from all different types of activist groups. It was a sea of people chanting “This is what democracy looks like!” and “No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!”. We were getting hungry and when the march passed by a soup and sandwich shop, we stopped in to grab lunch.There weren’t many people in the restaurant, and we took a much needed rest sitting in the open dining area. Shortly after we started our lunch, the red hatted people started filing in. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little threatened being the minority in that cafe, a smaller version of what the city felt like the whole day, where the anger and hate was palpable. One couple that lunched next to us asked if we were protesting, which we said yes. The woman then gave us a poncho and extra handwarmers she had, and explained that she didn’t need them because they were on their way home after watching their president’s inauguration. She was kind, and it’s this human connection that’s what’s really important. Regardless of political views, she was compassionate towards us, fellow human beings.

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While we were standing in the inauguration line

We did listen to some of the other conversations happening around us in the cafe, in which I heard a table talk about that protesters just are protesting to get their picture taken. I heard some other similar dialogues, but tried to tune and block them out as much as possible. I was happy to leave the lunch place when we did. I felt like easy prey for someone to take their anger out on, and more red hats kept flooding through the doors.

We were able to get in to see the parade, which also was an experience in being the minority. We stood in a checkpoint line for probably an hour, and the vast majority of those in line with us were Trump supporters. We were all connected by a common thread of feeling annoyed towards a man with a megaphone preaching that we were all going to burn in hell and that doomsday was near.

So, we get through the checkpoint and the protesters have taken over a large area. No red hats, but also no room to really move or see the parade. We walked a few blocks over to where the crowd was thinning, but was also turning redder. There was an open space where we could kind of see the parade, however it was standing under a big group of Trump supporters who were standing on a ledge, about two feet higher than us. They were basically hovering over us, and I was waiting to get spit on. It was hard to ignore the “Blue Lives Matter” chant when the police marched by. I wanted so badly to turn around and say, “BLM isn’t about devaluing others lives!” but I bit my tongue, and continued to watch the parade.

When Trump drove by, we could only see his and Melania’s silhouette waving through the black tinted windows. It was at this point, when the crowd around us was screaming in excitement and adoration, that I felt real resentment towards Trump. He couldn’t even roll down his window to wave at his supporters. What a fucking coward.

We walked over to K and 14th Street where the “riots” happened. We could smell tear gas when we approached. We saw the limo that was set on fire and the Bank of America and Starbucks which had their windows broken. I don’t believe in destruction of property, and violence doesn’t solve anything, but people are tired of this wealth disparity! And although I don’t agree with it, I can understand it. The upper class doesn’t know the plight of the underclass, and setting a limo on fire seems like a small rally cry in the context of the enormous unrest.

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Limo that was set on fire, and SUV that was damaged. Also, the glass pane with spray paint there said “We The People”

So out of this whole day, you want to know what really got under my skin the most? It was the rich people walking to the inauguration balls around sunset, dripping in diamond jewelry and smuggly fitted tailored tuxes. They would not look at us. I tried smiling at them, but they refused to make eye contact. I don’t know if it was because they sincerely believe that they are the ones that make America great and can’t see us, or if they are afraid of us- maybe their fear of all the protesters has blocked their ability to assign humanity to any of us, regardless of motivation. Or, maybe, they really don’t care about anyone but themselves. I have never felt so small, so less-than, compared to a group than I did walking by these people. But then, after thinking about this the past few days- maybe they really do fear me, the protester, the other. And if this is the case, then I have some strength and influence over them, because I am NOT afraid of them. And that’s pretty empowering and gives me a glimpse of greater hope for the future of our country.

 

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Digital Personalites vs Real Life

[Editing this article, I noticed that I generalize a lot. I make assumptions and say things like “I think people think that…” or “a lot of people view others this way…”. I don’t know if these generalizations are true. However, I felt that, if I think like this, that others probably do too. This post, along with all of my blog posts, area based off my own observations in life. I may be completely wrong about everything in this post; perhaps it is all just a reflection of myself… but that’s for another article.]

There are the “Album Lists of Your High School Years” statuses going around on Facebook, and I really enjoy reading them. I like seeing the albums that my friends would define as the most influential during their adolescent years, and I liked posting my own and replying to the comments left by friends. Last night was a snowed in, cozy Saturday night, and I contently spent the night coloring, listening to the albums of my youth, yogaing, and checking in on facebook every hour or so to respond to notifications about these lists. And I had a great night! It was a lot of fun!

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I promise I’m not a dog.

I enjoy using social media, and like most aspects of it. I also kind of think that social media is a new type of art, a genre we don’t yet have a name for, in that it can be used as a way to express ourselves and connect with others, and that’s great! However, I think it’s important to keep in mind that social media is an activity. It’s something to do for fun, its something akin to reading, writing, playing an instrument, painting, playing solitare, whatever.

So here’s where I see the problem: I believe a lot of people forget that social media is an activity. I think a lot of people view other people’s social media presence and internet usage as an extension of those people- That their social media usage isn’t something that they are doing, it is a part of who they are. And it is through our social media usage and internet presence, that our digital personalities are created and live.

Ok. Let me share an example of social media defining people. There is this woman who I am friends with on social media platforms. She posts shit that I like (most of the time, I actually ❤ it). And she likes (and <3s) a lot of my posts. We have a few mutual friends in common, and she always seemed like a cool chick. I recently met her in real life, and she sucked. She was rude to my friend, and was not the person who I expected her to be. I was so surprised! I like her digital personality a lot more than I like her actual personality… so, what are the implications of this?

The biggest problem I see with forgetting that digital personalities are not real, is that we judge people before we even know them in real life. We think because someone likes Feminist Pages and endorse #InsertWhatevereHere organizations, then they probably embody the aspects of those pages and things in real life. And depending on how they use the internet (the statuses say that they write, who they retweeet, what pictures they post), most believe that this person is probably similar to their online personality in real life. And this, like my example above, is not true. All digital personalities and true personalities are two different things, regardless of how similar they may seem.

In fact, how I view someone online is made up in my own mind. How I read a status, the tone of voice that I read in my head of a person, is what forms my opinion of them. And this can easily lead to dangerous miscommunication.

Also, there’s the chance of “transference” happening when interacting with people on the internet. I’m thinking of the social work definition of transference, which is when a client is reminded of someone else in their life by the counselor, and then sees the counselor with a tint of the other person’s personality or likeness- which is not who the counselor is. So, another example. Say that Johnny looks at Kim’s profile online. They don’t know each other personally, but Johnny sees that Kim likes “Save The Everglades” page. Johnny’s friend from high school’s sister, Catherine, also likes this page.  Catherine always rubbed Johnny the same way because she was aggressive about her views on environmentalism. Because of this, Johnny already has an idea about Kim, and associates her with Catherine. In reality, Kim just liked the page because her friend asked her to, so the page would get more likes. Johnny doesn’t know this, and decides to not be friends with her online, or in real life, because he doesn’t like how he perceives her digital personality.

This example might seem extreme, but what about when you get a friend request from someone you don’t know personally and they shared a pro-Trump status on their page. Are you going to not judge this person as being a Trump supporter, and then automatically associate them with how you feel about other people who are diehard pro-Trumpers? I’m honestly asking. I can confess that I am guilty of making such judgments.

How about people who aren’t good at using social media? Their digital personalities are most likely not going to be good representations of their actual personalities. What about the person who might not be the best writer or speller? If they use the wrong grammer, do we think they are stupid? This is an easy example, and I’m sure you can think of many more that carry greater weight.

How about the people who seem like they are really good at using social media? Their endless selfies have kabillions of likes, their statues are well thought out, and their videos charming. Is their life really great? Probably not. But that doesn’t weaken their digital personality’s influence on all that they touch.

I’m not sure exactly how my social media/online digital personality is interpreted by people, and that can make me feel a little weary at times. Because I want people to look at my social media usage and think that this I something that I do, not what I am. I also need to be aware that how people view my digital personality is unique to them. I don’t want people to read my posts in a tone of voice that is sarcastic, condescending, or rude, because that’s not the tone of voice I use to write them. However, someone who doesn’t know me and has an opinion of me based on what they see of me online may believe that I am rude, sarcastic, and condescending. And that sucks, man, because its not real.

So I guess the question is, are you aware of your digital personality? And do you care? I care about mine and hope its as similar to my real personality as possible. But it’s still not actually me, just like how I view you online is not actually you. 

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I hope for my digital personality to be as close to my real personality as possible.

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My 2017 Goals

After meditating on the subject, I decided to share my goals for 2017 in order to be held accountable throughout the year. So, if you read this, please do not hesitate to call me out on my bullshit this year.

2017 Goals and Intentions

I will be the best version of myself. I hope to do this by being mindful of each situation, each interaction, and each thought I have. I know this is impossible, but this is the overarching goal of the whole year.

I hope to rid myself of toxic people and spend time with the small, but close, kind, and loving people I have in my life. I don’t need to waste my time on people who make me feel bad.

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I just found this pic online, and boy, what a good way to think about saying “no”

I’m going to try to say “no” more. I say yes to so many things, which then stresses me out when my schedule is crammed. I become miserable and hold resentments towards the people WHO ASKED ME whether or not I could help with such and such. When I do say no to different thing, I often experience so much guilt and self-hatred for not being the best helper person in the world that I’ll beat myself up for days/weeks.

I will mediate everyday in some way.

I will have my two research papers published. I am the author of one research study that I’ve been tirelessly working on for the past 5 months (I’m currently taking a break of analyzing data to write this blog post), and am the sole research assistant for a professor at my university- we’re working on a quantitative study which is really exciting. My dream is to get these published, and I will. I’ve never had anything published, let alone a scientific research paper (who would’ve thought?) and I really hope I can make this happen.

I want to write more. Write more music, write more blogs, write more research papers, write more personal stories, journal more, write poems, write lyrics to songs that yet have to be born. I also will write these in a way that is most pure, and for the sole audience to be me when I’m writing. If I want to share them with others, I will, but the real reason is to strengthen creativity in this therapeutic process.

I am going to take advantage of as many moments as I can to be happy. I don’t want to get too personal, but my whole life has been a struggle with this subject, and I vowed in 2016 to try and experience as much happiness as possible, and I did a pretty good job. So I plan to keep this up this year.

I want to be the best friend/fiancé (or wife?!)/daughter/sister/daughter-in-law/dog-mom etc. I want the closest people to me know that I can be depended upon. That I will do what I can to make sure they have the same amount of happiness I have.

I want to be happy and feel fulfilled at whatever job I get after I graduate. I will not be scared away by the idea of relocating or being inadequate or whatever.

I will practice yoga, I will go running, and exercise on a regular basis. My goal for January is to complete Yoga with Adriene’s Yoga Revolution videos on YouTube. I have done each day so far. If you see me this month, please ask whether or not I did a yoga practice today.

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This will be the hardest.

I want to eat healthier. Everyone who knows me and Ed know how much we love pizza. I really really want to limit myself with food like this and start eating balanced meals. I expect this to be one of the most difficult goals because I love sugar, cheese, and bread so much it brings tears to my eyes. This also means that I’ll probably have to, like, meal plan, and shit that sounds awful to me. BUT I WILL PREVAIL AND FREEZE FOODS AND THEN REHEAT THEM LATER AND EAT THEM AND NOT JUST LET THEM SIT IN MY FREEZER.

I also want to help the world more. I want to donate the things I don’t need and volunteer. I am really busy all the time, but somehow I can find myself sitting on my phone for 2 hours on a Sunday afternoon when I could easily be doing something beneficial for the greater good.

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Green Party of Lackawanna County, I will do as much as I can to help you grow!

I want to be as politically capable as possible. I want to be as educated as I can about the issues that matter most, and really do all that I can to help promote the Lackawanna County Green Party and our efforts. This includes writing more political blog posts, and continuing to do so in a way that allows others to question and challenge my beliefs. I also want to write political posts in such a way that does not come across as intimidating to read, nor pretentious. I think so many people get overwhelmed by politics, and I hope to use this blog to show that it’s not as complicated as it seems.

I also am going to try to love myself. This sounds stupid, but its so hard! One way that I will do this is by not wasting so much of my life on social media (especially Instagram). I like social media to stay up to date with friends, but I often find myself going down these rabbit holes which result in total self hatred because I don’t look like the girls who post pictures of their beautiful faces, beautiful bodies, and beautiful lives. I know its all fake, but that doesn’t take away the feeling of shittiness that accompanies an Instagram binge.

Okay. I think this is a good start. If you read this, what are some of your goals for the year? Do you feel confident in your goals? If you see me out, please feel free to ask about how I’m doing accomplishing these things. One reason why I just confided all these personal junk is to be held accountable! Honestly, next time you see me eating Doritos ask me wtf am I doing

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