Saturday, January 30, 2010
On my first Saturday back in Athens, which was roughly three weeks ago, myself and a friend went to a ‘classy’ birthday party. I cay ‘classy’ instead of classy because while everyone was dressed up, they were drinking Keystone and Natty Light. Not my company, we were classy through and through. Even as we were chatting with self-described micks and wops, and a questionable figure in a white-and-red phoenix leather jacket expanded our know-how of drug use ten-fold. Ever heard of candyflipping on a stick? It’s nothing you want a part of, trust me.
At some point in the night I noticed my friend was gone; probably ran off with some moderately attractive girl he had been talking to on again and off again throughout the night. I feel guilty about being so selfish with my emotions, but bearing in mind that at this point standing still was an adventure I did feel somewhat abandoned. Following that sad feeling, of course, came thoughts of self-disappointment, self-disgust, and ultimately suicide. I’ve been a sad drunk before, but never like that. Moreover, this isn’t the first time I’ve had these feelings, including suicide. In fact, the last time it happened was over the summer–completely sober–in regards to things I thought I had moved on from. Needless to say, the morning after, and after that, and after that were quite depressing.
The following Monday, not allowing time for second-guessing, I headed over to Hudson’s 3rd floor, where counseling and psychological services (CPS) are located. I used their one working computer to fill out a self-assessment, and then they scheduled an intake appointment for me two very long, very heavy weeks later. I didn’t expect any sort of miracle work from one appointment, but the whole time I was looking forward to it. I personally couldn’t handle my problems anymore, having heart-to-hearts with my friends had long ago stopped doing anything, and drowning my problems in various substances, well, even though I felt like I wanted to die what semblance of logical thought I had left kept me from actively or passively pursuing that. Thankfully.
After two weeks of nonstop brooding and finding displeasure in everything my appointment day finally came. When I got to the receptionist’s desk at 3:00 on the dot she said there was no record of my having an appointment to see anyone, not just that day but at all. That was a bit rough to hear but I (mostly) maintained my composure as she told me to wait down the hall. 40 minutes later she has me see this lady who, ironically, they brought back part-time because they were overwhelmed with students needing help. We went into a little office next to a bathroom, she told me a little bit about herself and I told her a lot about myself. And after an hour of talking about a lot of things I really don’t like talking about and (stupidly) holding back tears she confirmed what I already thought; I’m “showing signs of depression related to loss of something that could have been, and to an extent a loss of what was”. It’s what I get for being a dreamer, right? CPS was supposed to call me back this week to set up a permanent counselor and meeting time, but true to their track record they didn’t. So on yet another Monday I get to go there in person and let them know they’re letting a student in need down.
That’s what I’ve been up to these past few weeks. And you?
Thursday, January 21, 2010
I remember way back when they were teaching us about American government for the first time (in high school; it was probably the ninth overall), and one of the points my teacher touched on was the limits placed on the amount of money corporations could give to candidates. On one hand it seems like corporations, like you and I, should be free to donate as much money as they want since they too are constituents of the United States government. However, once one applies even a modicum of common sense it becomes obvious that the comparatively limitless funds of Lockheed Martin should keep them from endlessly donating to a political campaign. You and I can only afford to give maybe $1000. Raytheon could sponsor an entire campaign themselves.
Well, this is how I see things, how my 9th grade government teacher sees things, and how I think most people see things. Except, that is, for the five members of the US Supreme Court that yesterday removed a ban on corporate
financing of spending on political campaigns. You can argue pretty well I think that these laws were really only laws in name only, and any special interest that cared to could weasel around campaign finance laws. But still, it was nice to say we could keep JPMorganChase, or even the UAW, from cutting a check in Barack Obama’s name and blatantly expecting something in return. However, now instead of being inched open like a kid escaping his room at night to get some cookies, the door to fascism has been forcefully kicked in. But I suppose it’s not all doom and gloom; two years ago the “Hail To The Cheese Stephen Colbert’s Nacho Cheese 2008 Presidential Campaign” was a joke. Thanks to the Supreme Court though, Stephen Colbert could be our next president. Now that’s what I call expanding democracy!
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Haiti gained its independence from French colonizers in 1804 thanks largely to a former slave by the name of Toussaint L’Ouverture, who was ironically partially inspired by France’s own revolution. The young nation–first free black nation in the world and second oldest republic in the western hemisphere–also managed to ward off threatening British and Spanish armies. Freedom of religion was enshrined in their constitution (although under L’Ouverture Catholicism was made the official religion), and all residents of Haiti were labelled black regardless of their skin color, in an effort to destroy the racial hierarchy established by the French. Things certainly started promisingly for Haiti. Now, I don’t pretend to be an expert on Haitian history, but it seems clear that something at some point went radically awry.
In case you didn’t know, Haiti is miserable. And that was before the earthquake. The last functioning government they had was headed by the lazy-minded fascist Jean-Claude Duvalier, who was actually less of a murderous asshole than his father. Baby Doc hightailed it out of Port-au-Prince in the mid-1980s with a nation of pissed off poor people clamoring for his neck, the entire contents of the Haitian Treasury, and the comfort of a United States Air Force escort to France. The wonders of the Cold War. Efforts to better the condition for Haitians by foreign governments have, like nearly all of their efforts anywhere else, failed miserably (if you sent any money to USAID, you’d have been better off wiping your ass with it). In Haiti, there exists a traditional cure for hunger pangs that the partakers in it insist contains many minerals needed for survival. However, those of us with a
healthy ample diet know that eating bon bon de terres–dirt cookies–is far from nutritional.
And then came that earthquake. I suppose it’s inspirational that the miserable island nation is literally overflowing with foreign aid at the moment (I know Harry Reid’s pretty damn happy with the timing). But Haiti has been in a desolate, desperate situation for decades now, and nobody’s really batted an eye. Especially not the United States, which seems to be priding itself on generosity towards a nation in crisis, as if nothing was amiss before Monday. Sure Haiti will get a hand in clearing out its streets, burying its dead, rebuilding the Presidential Palace, but then what? The media will find something else to fawn over as Haiti fades from the public consciousness again, and the islanders go back to eating sun-baked dirt to avoid starving to death. 700 miles from Miami Beach, no less. I’m not saying you should truthfully care about anyone or anything in Haiti. I’d understand perfectly well if you didn’t. But if you claim to, at the very least don’t forget about them once Anderson Cooper flies back to Atlanta.
Thursday, January 7, 2010