A song for these frustrating times

Take it away, Pete.



The shoe situation has been resolved

Last week I wrote about the trouble I was having finding comfortable shoes for work. Thankfully, that situation has been resolved. I bought a new pair last weekend and after a couple of days on the job I can safely say that they are awesome. They’re running shoes, and the one thing I noticed while I was inspecting them at the store was how light they are. Compared with my previous pair that were causing me serious pain, I can barely feel the new ones even after a full shift at work. And they fit much better, which means no more blisters on the sides of my feet. What a difference! My feet truly are grateful.

Now I just hope they last for good long while.

Ferguson links

I’d like to share some of the more interesting and enlightening pieces on Ferguson I’ve come across. Among other things, they argue against the belief that riots and some of their more aggressive aspects – looting, property destruction – are inherently bad. Do take a moment to read them. Even if you don’t entirely agree with the writers’ conclusions, you might walk away with a a more nuanced perspective.

Barack Obama, Ferguson, and the Evidence of Things Unsaid,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

In Defense of the Ferguson Riots,” by Robert Stephen II.

Smashy, Smashy: Nine Historical Triumphs to Make You Rethink Property Destruction,” by Jesse A. Myerson and Jóse Martín.

In Defense of Looting,” by Willie Osterweil.

A great quote from Osterweil’s piece:

The mystifying ideological claim that looting is violent and non-political is one that has been carefully produced by the ruling class because it is precisely the violent maintenance of property which is both the basis and end of their power. Looting is extremely dangerous to the rich (and most white people) because it reveals, with an immediacy that has to be moralized away, that the idea of private property is just that: an idea, a tenuous and contingent structure of consent, backed up by the lethal force of the state.







The disease continues to fester

Last week, I had a conversation with some family members about the events in Ferguson. With the grand jury’s decision on the way, some of them were confident that Darren Wilson was going to be indicted for the murder of Michael Brown. Their confidence came largely from watching news coverage of the protests that had been going in Ferguson since the killing. They saw the anger and the desire for justice and said there was no way they would not indict him.

I disagreed. My reasoning was as simple as it is truthful: this country does not give a damn about justice for black people. People can protest demanding justice, they can demand reforms, they can sign petitions, they can write eloquent op-eds and think pieces, and it will do nothing to change the minds of a frightening number of our fellow citizens. In fact, such actions serve only to harden many of their hearts.

I wanted to write something on Ferguson ever since the grand jury decision came down on Monday, but I kept myself from doing so because I was too angry and too disappointed and my thoughts were more disjointed than usual. Where would I even begin? There are so many infuriating, depressing aspects to this tragedy: the murder, Wilson not going to trial, the media’s stunning incompetence and obfuscation, the astonishing amount of vile and hatred unleashed online.

The disease that has plagued this country since its inception – racism – continues to fester, taking lives and rotting the host. And still many refuse to even acknowledge the disease, making it that much harder to come up with a cure. What the fuck are we supposed to do against such ignorance?

The spirit shepherd

Night arrived only rarely in this particular realm. Usually it came after a period of prolonged turmoil, as if the world acknowledged the significant events that had transpired and decided to signal the end of an era. These were always strenuous times for the shepherds, the beings who were tasked with guiding all spirits to their rest.

One shepherd, who presided over a mountainous part of the world, watched as the shadows descended, as the sun gave way to a starlit sky, each star representing an era that had come and gone. The shepherd remembered to the first time it had seen the night, many eons ago. It remembered being struck by the deep, melancholy beauty the night possessed. The darkness was not absolute, not overwhelming, not frightening. It was serene, gentle. The stars seemed to work in tandem, illuminating a path that reached towards the horizon – the spirits’ final destination.

The shepherd always wanted to bask in the calming light of the stars, surrounded by that melancholy darkness, but his job called for his full attention. The spirits, who in the daylight seemed content to continue their journey, became agitated. The shepherd sensed the sorrow within many of them. Many of the spirits left the world of the living with regrets, with dreams and ambitions unfulfilled. They took the arrival of the night as a sign that their time on this plane of existence was at an end; when the night gave way to the sun once more, the world would belong to those of the new era.

The shepherd empathized with them. It knew the stories of all the spirits it had been entrusted with. When one spirit would break away from the others, as if attempting to return to the world of the living, the shepherd was there, ready to provide comfort and guidance. They had lived, the shepherd would say, but they lived no more. However, behind them were the living, and the memories and bonds that the spirits created in their lives would remain with the living, to be cherished by them.

The shepherd would then point to the sky. It would explain how each star came to be. It would tell what the other, much older shepherds had told it, about how much different the night was before the stars. Before the stars, there was only a suffocating, depressing darkness. The spirits’ final destination was obscured, making the journey a considerable challenge. Then one time, when a shepherd finally led a group of spirits to their rest, the spirits talked amongst themselves and decided: why not help those that would come after them?

The night was so dark, they said, so suffocatingly bleak, that many spirits would get lost and lose hope, despite the shepherds’ best efforts. They would wander the world as ethereal figures, unable to interact with the living. In order to avoid that from happening again, the spirits decided they would light the way, as stars. They knew one star would not be able to show the way entirely, but they hoped that it would provide a glimmer of hope, a beacon to those who had wandered and lost their way. Then, perhaps, other spirits would join them whenever night fell on their era.

And so it went. After countless eras – the shepherd itself cannot even imagine the number – the sky became dotted with stars, illuminating the path. The shepherd said this is why there was no need to fear the night. For spirits who go to their rest will become part of a star, a star that will help ensure no spirit wanders the world aimlessly, their hearts filled with longing and pain. The shepherd gently guided the spirit back with the others, and turned to chase after other wayward spirits. The shepherd was hopeful. It believed that, after enough time had passed, the stars in the sky would be so plentiful and so bright they would remove any difference between night and day. And it was all because some spirits, driven by their love, their memories, and the bonds they forged over a lifetime, decided to become stars and light up the night.

My kingdom for a good pair of shoes

Recently, I finally had to bid a fond farewell to my work shoes. They were your basic running shoes, light and comfortable and perfect for 12-hour shifts at the factory and they served me well for months. But the factory floor proved to be a lousy host, riddled as it is with loose, sharp pieces of wood that broke off from pallets, partially dislodged nails and small bits of metal, oil and grime, etc. My shoes nobly took considerable damage but after a while it was too much.

So I buy some new shoes. I test them out and everything seems fine. They’re a bit heavier than my previous pair but they were on sale for twenty dollars so I’m satisfied. Unfortunately, the problems begin right away. That extra weight, insignificant as it seemed when I first tried them on, starts to become very noticeable by hour ten at work. Worse still, they now seem tighter as well, and throughout the next couple of days the soreness kicks in. Then the blisters come. And yesterday, I wake up extra sore, take a look at my feet, and find bubbly blisters on both my pinky toes. Lovely. Work was no fun, to say the least.

I’m not sure I could handle this much longer if I worked every day, but luckily my job has an odd schedule: it’s basically two days on/two days off, three days on/two days off, two days on/three days off, and repeat. This means that I have the whole weekend to nurse my feet and get some new shoes. Which is my new problem: I have to spend a sizable chunk of my limited funds on work shoes, again.

One of the worst things about being poor is having to buy a needed item – clothes, appliances, phones – and then having said item break down (Though in this case the shoes didn’t break down, they just do not fit properly. My fault for not testing them more thoroughly, I suppose) before you’ve saved enough for a replacement. Then the questions come in: How am I going to afford to replace this? What am I going to have to cut from the budget? It’s almost amusing, in a tired-of-this-shit kind of way, how something as simple as buying a pair of shows can become a significant source of stress.

I’m still going over the budget and trying to make it work, but the bottom line is that I need new work shoes. My last workday was very painful and I can’t keep working like this. Sometime this weekend I’ll be off to look for specials and sales and see if I can find anything decent. This time, I’ll be sure to spend more time testing them out to make sure they fit properly.