Friday, September 26, 2008


When I was ten or something we lived in a house across the lane from the house that we had just moved out of and around the corner from the house in front of the cemetery where we moved when my parents split up. That house had mice. This new house (and it's direct predecessor) sat on the corner of Hampshire Rd and Hampshire Ln. Across from Musicians Towers which I always thought was an old folks home for Russian women but someone recently told me is actually a housing project. Who knows.

The different between HampshireHampshire I and HampshireHampshire II was that HH I was the bottom apartment of a three story house. HH II was the right side of a two-way split house. One was short and wide, the other tall and skinny and not particularly conducive to the four-woman, four cat (not including kittens), two dog household that my mother ran. We had hay stacked up against the back of our kitchen window. "For insulation," my mom always told me. I never got why we didn't have hay stacked around other parts of our house if that was the case.

We had only just moved there at the time of this relatively unimportant story. As I already mentioned, I was about 10, but already knowledgeable about the joys and wonders of a mozzarella, basil, tomato, balsamic vinegar salad. And at the time of this unimportant story I was just being served a plateful of the deliciousness. Ready to enjoy it on the porch of our new skinny home with my mother and her friend. I piled my fork full of fresh cheesiness and crisp greenness and full redness and watched as the oily vinegar dripped onto the colorful plate below. I put the mess into my mouth and closed my eyes ready to be bombarded by the wonderful taste sensation that would inevitably follow. Much to my dismay, however, instead of being greeted by the friendly saltiness and pillowey sweetness I anticipated, i encountered a cruel sour taste that made my eyes squint and my mouth turn into something that should be in a comic book.

Naturally I screamed and made some sort of show about the whole thing, causing my mom to come careening in from the kitchen to see what was wrong with a swiftness that only a mother can conjure. Of course she was wearing her Basic Threads cotton socks and mid-careen slipped on the hardwood floors and plummeted towards a broken leg. Just in time for our annual road trip across the country to the Southwest where she would have to enjoy Arches National Park on crutches.

The End.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Mission Violence

As of September 6th, there have been 11 killings in the Mission District this year. In the past month, two of them have been on Treat Ave- the nice little residential street where I spend most of my time working, procrastinating, and socializing.

For lack of a better way to describe my frustration, anger, pain, sadness, fear, etc: this fucking sucks.

I've never really understood violence. It's just not something that was put into my vocabulary. And I've certainly been around it enough. All of us have. Growing up in Cleveland Heights (suburban though it is), you knew that there were certain streets you didn't walk down because a friend at school got jumped there the day before. Girls brought brass knuckles and razors to Roxboro Middle School. Fights broke out all of the time. At Heights High we had at least one riot a year (usually in the Wendy's across the street). There were plenty of hallway fights. Not to mention Cleveland itself that likes to hang out (statistically) with other cities that suffer from crime, poverty, and racism.

So it's not like it's foreign. It just still really surprises me that it still happens. I mean, haven't we all seen where this is going? Don't we all recognize that it's a horrible thing to have a family member or friend killed? Is there anyone for whom this doesn't suck?

And the Mission in particular. With it's vibrant murals, amazing food, smiling neighbors, great art. Of course there's poverty and all of that but there are also paintings of Cesar Chavez and Zapata everywhere reminding us that we're all in this together. And instead we're (I mean this in the broader human sense. I'm not naming myself as a Mission native) killing each other. Imagine how incredible it would be if this community realized "we're stuck in the same system. Let's start working together, overthrow the system that's keeping us murdering each other. We all have the same goals!" You know, revolution and stuff.

Yesterday I was walking down Treat wearing a red sweatshirt and a group of young guys commented on how they liked it. For the first time since high school I was suddenly aware of colors. Like, how maybe I shouldn't wear red. If red is even a gang color out here, I don't even know. But I guess that's the point, I don't know shit about what's going on. It's so great to go out in the Mission and work here and enjoy it, but I don't know shit about what the Mission really is. And sure, my goal is to work with a community, not just from it, but is that what I'm doing? Is that what I want to do when people are being killed around me?

It's absurd to limit it to the Mission, or to the Fillmore, or Oakland, or Detroit, or Cleveland when it's so clearly the trend of the day all over the world. These are little microcosms responding to a global epidemic that has been going on since...well...since forever I guess. How can we expect communities to support each other and get along, when our governments are allowing and committing atrocities every day? Violence is still violence and I have no words to express how I feel towards the people that perpetuate it, but it is interesting to see how a society seems to respond to the aggression of it's government.

How frustrating. To be here among all of this and know that it's not going to stop. There's certainly nothing that I can do about it. We can be outraged and horrified and scream and yell and cry and be really inspired and empathetic and it will all keep going.