October 31, 2009

Forward-Thinking Is Backwards

Burkas: The new chastity belt.

In todays world (well, most of it) women have the same rights and allowances as men, races and faiths can intermarry, dogs have health insurance and we don't think anything of it.

In America "our women have all the rights as men do!" as if that's even worth mentioning. Sure we don't need permission to go outside, we can drive cars and have jobs and bank accounts, but why on Earth wouldn't women have everything men have? Why is that even a question? Why, especially, in some points in time and space is that not the case?

Third world countries are notorious for treating women like dogs. A recent article details how Somali officials are more concerned with women wearing bras (false advertisement is against the law) than with the widespread famine and chaos. A man wanting to marry a woman for the "ample breasts" she has hidden beneath her burka could be disappointed when he finally gets her naked on their wedding night if her "ampleness" was the effects of a bra. Honestly though, can anyone really tell a difference between bra and no bra underneath a burka? I don't think anyone can tell when I'm wearing a push-up underneath my sweatshirt... And are boobs really the sort of thing people worry about in Somalia?

It never ceases to amaze me how one sect of a population can be singled out as lesser. Many countries single out women as inferior, some single out certain religions or races as inferior, and America singles out gays and lesbians as inferior. Though most Americans now see how horrible it was to condemn blacks simply for the color of their skin and women simply for the ability to produce offspring, many still see nothing wrong with segregating gays simply for wanting to love. One day we won't discriminate against any group for any reason (and women in America will get a full dollar for every dollar a man earns) and we'll laugh at how ignorant and small minded the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries were.

October 26, 2009

Some Things Never Change

Why does fire season feel so good?

Today is a gorgeous, definitive October day. The sun is bright and warm, the air is a mix of Santa Ana hotness and hinting of the impending cold, and I swear the browning leaves give off a firey aura. I absolutely love days like today. Those who say California doesn't have seasons don't appreciate the subtle differences from month to month and Octobers' overwhelming uniqueness.

In high school I hated the Santa Anas (which were way stronger than in San Diego) for making spinning difficult and super painful, but at the same time loved October weather. October brought my birthday, Country Days, pumpkin everything and Halloween. Today I was reminded of Country Days- I think in all my childhood there were like 3 years I was not in the parade, thanks to extra curricular activities and one teacher picking me to represent our class by wearing a cardboard horse outfit- not only because of the weather but because of the fat bruise on my wrist.

Oh colorguard, how I loved you even though you abused me. Being a banner was a status symbol of sorts and you wore the 6-inch welts with pride. Banners required strength and determination- not only did you have to spin the heavy things over your head but you had to slam them against your arms, several times in a row, to make the sequins sparkle. It looked beautiful to spectators.

The fat bruise on my wrist today hardly hurts but looks disgusting. I wear this bruise, and the ones on my legs, with the same pride. They remind me that I'm active, I have a physically demanding job, even that I'm sorta clumsy, a trait that helps me laugh at myself. I grew up tomboy- I hated dresses, my best friends were boys, I played in dirt, rode my bike, tried to fix things, and begged my parents for remote control cars. I was even the only girl at my 7th birthday party. I finally figured out make-up in colorguard, didn't really get it down until college, and recently accepted that sometimes pink is a wearable color for clothes other than underwear. Even though I'm starting to come into adult/womanhood I still hold onto that little tomboy inside me; being cut and bruised from the day is a source of joy.

I take good care of my body from the inside- I eat well, take vitamins, run, usually get enough sleep, care for my skin and teeth, have yearly exams, and don't smoke or take any drugs besides a rare Tylenol. I enjoy myself, enjoy being alive and feeling pain and pleasure, and enjoy using every part of my body. And those cuts and bruises, which I always seem to have, I wear like a badge of honor.

October 22, 2009


This will make sense later...

The New York Times has an article that presents vegetarianism to regular people in an honest, direct and meat-loving way. I know, it hardly seems possible, yet it's so obvious I'm shocked this is the first of its kind I've read. Since The Break-Up I've given a second thought to my diet; The Ex and I made a tradition of cooking, and we cooked amazingly delicious foods most nights. But there was a problem... The Ex did not, and I mean ever, eat vegetables unless they were in the form of sauce, ketchup or fried in oil (and even then only potatoes). I, on the other hand, loved vegetables. My body would actually crave broccoli or tomatoes when I went a couples days without any. But I compromised. And now that I don't have to I'd like to try cutting back on chicken, or cutting it out completely.

So back to the NYT: this guy Jonathan Safran Foer wrote about his struggles with meat and vegetarianism with a side of bacon in an excerpt from his upcoming book. I cut out pork in high school after The Bacon Incident left me fainting in church in front of the boy I had a crush on (I think I had already cut out beef by then) and pretty much stuck to poultry for protein. Though I know the horrors of the poultry industry (Peta is good for nothing if not making you want to vomit with their images) I still eat birds. Why? Part laziness, part poorness, part ignorance.

For nearly two years I've been allergic to avocados. I discovered this after graduating college and losing my health insurance (and the ability to find out why this most amazing fruit now makes me cry), and the dream of a San Diego vegetarian lifestyle started slipping away. My diet would require a hefty overhaul in order for it to be healthy for me to make the switch to meatlessness. Fortunately, I've been too poor to afford meat often so my meals have been vegetarian by default. I used to believe that it would be a better value to order chicken when eating out since meatless meals are usually priced the same (since when did salads start costing $15?), but lately I order vegetarian or fish to get ideas. And by golly it's working. Thanks in part to my pathetic food budget and thanks in part to The Break-Up freeing me from the necessity of meat I've begun looking towards vegetarianism in a new way, even sans avocado.

I've been learning a lot about the consequences of my food decisions. Palm oil is pretty much the worst thing in the world because its production causes so much habitat destruction for countless species, and coffee is terrible for the same reason (buy shade grown!). I learned that eel is farmed at great cost to the environment and you can choose your meal based on the healthiest option for the Earth. I've already started making some conscious decisions about what I eat; but I'm still a total hypocrite for advocating animal rights and eating mass produced chicken.

Foer's excerpt discusses the importance of meat in traditions and the difficulty in participating in tradition without those foods. My family always had Holiday Food for holiday breakfasts: Eggs Benedict. At one point all of us kids didn't eat pork, which frustrated the hell out of our mom. Now it's just me (again) and I don't really care for Eggs Benedict but I'll eat a poached egg on toast to make her happy. The Catholic celebration of Lent is still tradition for me, despite my departure from Catholicism, and it requires abstaining from all meat except fish on Fridays (which really soured The Ex, who also does not eat fish, ever times infinity). I think this year I'll "give up" chicken for Lent and forgo fish on Fridays. If that works I'll be well on my way to eating the way I've wanted to for a long time.

Rather than being vegetarian or pescetarian, I'd like to be opportunitarian, like Costello. He hunts for fish but he'll also scavenge for whatever someone else left behind. I'd like to make my meals of sustainable fish and vegetables (and shit loads of rice... no matter how poor I am I'll always have rice and canned tomatoes) but if someone offers me chicken or pork or even beef that would otherwise go to waste I'll happily eat it so the creature didn't die in vain. Someday, when I have a house, I'll keep a chicken coop so I'll always have fresh eggs. People appreciate presents of fresh eggs and everyone can feel good about eating eggs that come from a pet, rather than a farm stuffed with caged hens.

October 20, 2009


Today I gave the giraffes their daily "what the fuck" moment. It was awesome.

What a gawking giraffe may look like...

Well, kind of... The looks on their faces were awesome, seeing them all stand in a row and study me, seriously wondering what the fuck I was doing, was awesome. What I was doing, however, wasn't incredibly awesome. Flightline staff has to be trained for emergencies, including if a guest doesn't quite make it all the way to the landing deck and has to be rescued. I got to "rescue" a coworker playing dead. Emergency training basically involves being hooked up to the cable in such a way that you can manually pull yourself up the line, hook onto the stranded guest, and ride back in. I climbed probably 100 feet twice then another 25 feet to grab my coworker. It's supposed to hurt your arms and abs but it ended up hurting my back more than anything. But the giraffes all standing around gawking at me (and catching a glimpse of one of the tiger cubs) made it so worth it.

Poor Photo Caravans though... The giraffes were more interested in my training than acacia... Oops.

Also, is it weird that I find the khakis strangely comfortable? Today was my first day back in uniform and the pants just felt right*. Weird? I got my oil changed after work and didn't feel awkward or uncomfortable in them at all. Still not a fan of tucking the shirts in, but at least I can be comfortable and not feel super strange about having to leave my apartment in all khaki. Not my sexiest look.

*I've considered the possibility that they feel right simply because I'm that happy to be working at the Park. Eh, I'm OK with that.

October 19, 2009

Relationships, Family and The Holidays

This is how I'm spending Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sweet.

I like my sisters' boyfriends and I like my dad's girlfriend. Who knows when I'll get to say that again so I'm excited to say it now. The last quarter of the year is historically difficult for my family, but everyone seems content now and I hope it lasts through Christmas. I always felt weird when boyfriends and girlfriends came for holidays because for the longest time I was the only one who had a SO and he was rarely invited to those things; I was OK with my boyfriends not coming to holidays because no one else's did, but when other SOs started coming and mine didn't it got awkward.

This year is epically different. For the first time since I was 16 I don't have a boyfriend to (not) invite to Thanksgiving or Christmas. I'm sure to be on the work schedule for Thanksgiving and most likely Christmas too, so I may excuse myself as well. Apparently my mom is spending Christmas with her dog in Palm Springs (she usually announces her absence from Christmas around this time but come December 24th her plans fall through and she wants to do brunch), so Thanksgiving with our mom will be easier on my sisters if I'm not there and they can have Christmas with our dad and their SOs without a 7th wheel. Meanwhile, I'll spend Thanksgiving with some great friends and might spend Christmas with some neighbors (ooh, maybe I'll finally get my ear pierced again!).

I'll admit I am a little sad at the relief I hear in the voices of those I care about when they counsel me on The Break-Up. My mom has yet to approve of a boyfriend of mine and that caused many problems in my family... Knowing that The Ex cared so much for me that he forever alienated my mom by standing up to her still hurts, but that strength and love will be something I look for in my next relationship. I already know I won't worry about whether or not my mom approves of who I love, but I hope her influence over the rest of my family is gone. I'm also a little sad that just after I gave up the person I thought would be the love of my life my dad and my sisters come into relationships that make everyone the happiest I've seen in a good long time. Part of me wishes I could have shared in their happiness for just a little bit. But I know each has exactly what he or she needs right now: they have someone to better them and I have solitude.

I'm looking forward to an autumn with my friends, a winter at the Park, and maybe a new man for the new year...

October 12, 2009

Building a Future

The most beautiful Kizuwanda, who I miss terribly.

Whatever you want to call it- redefining your life after a major break-up, turning another year older, getting laid off and rediscovering your passion- I've started to evaluate my life, values and aspirations. Somehow I feel more adult these last several weeks, more woman than girl, and more responsible for my actions.

In the corporate world I learned that I don't thrive inside, in heels and dress pants, at a computer underneath fluorescent lighting. I was often sick with sniffles and sore throats, shivered in AC during beautiful La Jolla summer afternoons and went home tired and unmotivated. I was unhappy and, suddenly aware of my waning job security, I searched.

Who knows how long I'd have stayed in office jobs, growing increasingly miserable. I'm incredibly grateful to have not only gotten a job working outdoors but with animals in an organization dedicated to conservation (for this I will be forever grateful to UCSD for having one of the most advanced student-run transportation systems in universities). Even though now I'm removed from animals I'm still so excited and happy to go to work each day. And I'm not completely removed from animals: mule deer love our hillside; dozens of lorikeets are only a few steps away; I have a new perspective on the animals I befriended and watch them from my perch.

Working at the Park has reawakened my need to continue learning; I can't imagine being happier than learning about animals and the world we live in. I can't wait to be a guide, to learn new things and teach them to others. I'm kicking myself now for not pursuing EATM or biology. I'm apprehensive about starting over, making the jump from literature to biology, but it's something I feel strongly about; I don't think I'll be satisfied with "just" a bachelor's degree. Even though I recognize that to get where I want I don't necessarily need more formal education, and I'm in the very fortunate position of being able to learn as I do, my personal goals are more than that. I'm pretty excited for the next few years.

October 9, 2009


For as much as I claim to hate emo music "emo" is short for "emotional" and my most favorite music is highly emotional. I also just realized I have some pretty fantastic break-up music.

It's been a little over two months since "The Break-Up" and things have been pretty good. I initially buried myself so far into my work that what little free time I had I spent sleeping or giving attention to Chloe or friends I hadn't seen in weeks that I really didn't notice much. When my job ended I focused on new friends, doing new activities, sleeping and cooking. But the truth is "The Break-Up" was coming for quite a while, all year in fact, so it didn't come as a big shock.

I was a bit apprehensive about writing post break-up about things having to do with The Ex because I didn't want to call him "The Ex." This was partially because The Ex read this somewhat regularly, but I shouldn't feel restricted, especially by someone I'm no longer dating.

Going back to the title of this post and my first paragraph: I don't usually listen to music all that often but lately I've acquired some damn fine albums of incredible thought and passion. Pardon the emo stereotype, but I feel so alive when I'm in pain. There's something to really feeling that makes you alive. And that's what I love about emotional music: I can feel it. Stay on My Side Tonight is Jimmy Eat World's most emo EP, but I love "Disintegration." I love running to powerful emotional music, tiring my body out to the music as my mind races to the words. It's fantastic.

So I'm doing very well with this whole break-up ordeal. Could have done without finding out an old friend is engaged the same day The Ex decided to never speak again, but hey, you can't always get what you want.

Speaking of which, I want to be not just stable in my job but excelling in the job I miss, to continue to have harmony between home and work, for my home to have a dog and a horse and maybe even a man who shares my values and beliefs. Maybe someday I'll get what I want, but right now it's time to enjoy being 24, confident and single.