Category Archives: Uncategorized

putting my body where my mouth is

“Hey hey, ho ho, homophobia’s got to go! Hey hey, ho ho, transphobia’s got to go!” I shouted at the top of my lungs while lifting a colorful sign proclaiming “Love is for All” above my head. Being queer, I’ve felt passionate about LGBT equality for quite some time, but never as much as I did shouting and marching for these ideals during the National Equality March.

the Princeton contingent

At SI, I learned that when your thoughts, feelings and actions are in alignment, you are the most authentic, integrated and powerful person you can be. I also learned the value of integrating one’s body into this equation. As I write this, I feel my body start to twitch – I’m nervous and excited to be writing about the enormous impact that the march has had on me. I still feel excitement in my body from the march. That high that people talk about after a performance or sports tournament or whatever gets you high in life? Yeah, I got that high from marching. Because my thoughts, feelings and actions were in alignment, both in the time and energy I spent organizing to take Princeton students and then in the feeling of marching alongside friends, fellow students and tens of thousands of others for my ideals. Other than in a few extraordinary yoga classes, I’d never felt that connection between body and mind and others as clearly as I did while marching and chanting for equal rights.

I made a video slideshow with the soundtrack of us chanting (audio thanks to Sophie Jin), which comes as close to capturing the spirit as possible.

Related blog entries

Amelia, a fellow Princetonian activist, wrote about the march on a blog: http://www.care2.com/causes/civil-rights/blog/marching-for-equality-a-young-activists-perspective/

Emily, a fellow organizer, also wrote a blog entry about her thoughts: http://worthlessdrivel.net/2009/10/11/even-princeton-or-this-is-what-democracy-looks-like/

Paralysis of Analysis

My tendancy towards perfectionism seeps into all areas of my life, decisions definitely not excluded.

I listened to a Get-It-Done Guy podcast today which mirrored back to me the hilarity of my general decision-making process:

For example (hypothetical, hah!), imagine the motor in your front- loading washing machine burns out for the sixth time, and you decide to buy a new washer. You call a saleswoman and she recommends an $800 model. But you want to be sure you’re making the right choice. So you demur and research begins.

You subscribe to ConsumerReports.org, you print descriptions of dozens of washers, and compare them feature by feature. You call the store and ask about delivery options and service plans. And you realize you can have your dryer venting cleaned as long as the workmen will be poking around. And, you know, since you’re moving the dryer to get at the duct, maybe you should just buy a new dryer to match the new washer.

Soon, your $800 purchase has become a major renovation. Your research gave you so many overspending opportunities that now you’re spending thousands on an extra appliance, delivery, and duct-cleaning. Oh, yeah–and during the project, you’ll be driving your laundry to the laundromat and spending two hours a week doing laundry in bad lighting.

You just spent hundreds of dollars, twelve hours of research time, six hours of laundromat duty, gas to drive there, and the self-esteem nightmare of laundromat lighting, all because you didn’t want to say “yes” to the saleswoman’s $800 suggestion. When you add it all up, you’d have been way better off just buying the dryer.

Except my decisions are even about smaller purchases, like which sunglasses to buy – or more likely for me – whether to even buy sunglasses in the first place. Sun shmun, let’s save those five dollars! And then my mind goes to the slave labor that probably went into making them. And the evil, profit driven machine (company) which might not treat LGBT employees right, or commit some other transgression against my morals. And the materials taken and transformed from the environment to make the sunglasses! Yes, definitely best not buy them. But then I’d go back and forth. Well, maybe I really do need the sunglasses. Or maybe I don’t. Yes. No. Yes. No. Maybe so… and so even if I end up not buying the sunglasses in order to make the “best” decision, my time, energy, and even emotions have gone to waste.

At SI, one of my good friends Jen, diagnosed this mind-state as the “paralysis of analysis,” and that has been one of those quotations that has definitely stuck with me. As much as living consciously is good, my mind is generally overactive as it is, and I’ve been realizing the importance of paying attention to my witness consciousness as well as my analytic brain. Listening to the part of me that can just observe, without judgment, note when perhaps I’m getting caught up in one of my uneccessarily stressful thought cycles, and give me the opportunity to take a step back and relax.

Then, from this place of relaxation, I can actually make a decision, instead of making plans to research, make a pro-con list, and maybe, eventually, come to an even more unsure decision after sloushing through much “paralysis of analysis.”

Now, maybe after writing about this pattern of mine I can catch myself next time I find myself micromanaging decisions and instead step back, laugh, and flip a coin.

Anthropology?

Anthropology has definitely piqued my interest because it seems that it seems to be the discipline best suited to what and how I want to study and research. I don’t know exactly what I want to study, but most of my ideas involve culture and looking at it in all its complexities, from all different angles. With anthropology, this kind of multidisciplinary research would not only be allowed but encouraged. And by “what” I want to study I’m referring to independent work, which can and hopefully will relate to what I want to do with my life. But I also think that anthropology classes seem really interesting in general, and the flexibility that the department allows is awesome as well.

Blah blah blah, you probably could have read a well-written version of that previous paragraph on any anthropology department handout. So in my specific case, I started to learn about anthropology in “Cultural Politics of the Body,” my writing seminar, a requirement for all Princeton freshman, which is actually the only even semi-anthropological class I’ve taken so far. But then this summer is when I’ve thought more seriously about the alluring discipline of anthropology. First, one of the first people I met upon arrival was a PhD anthropology student who is studying Kiswahili and doing preliminary research for her dissertation on refugees. Her passion for her work has been inspiring. Also, over the course of my time here I just keep reaffirming that I love exploring different cultures. Not only have I been able to learn about Tanzanian culture by living here and with a Tanzanian host family at the University, but I’m also getting a small glimpse into the unique culture of my Indian Tanzanian friend and her family. Not to mention American culture by hanging out with people in my program. Or the kind of strange American expat life I’ve lived in for most of my life. Or German or Chinese culture, again through talking to people in my program. And then hearing all of these groups of people talk about each other? So interesting.

I’ve also talked to people about religion in the past month more than ever before, which has also been fascinating and thought-provoking. In our program we have some strong Christians, some people searching for what to believe, some agnostics and some belief in Buddha. Talking to almost everybody in the program about what they believe and why in the hostel and on the bus has been one of my favorite memories from this trip. Now, my host family is Christian and very religious so I’m getting an education in Christianity this month. My dad sporadically starts preaching at least a couple times a day and we read the Bible and pray every night. For example, tonight when I explained that I didn’t want to eat the pork because I have been vegetarian the past year and still try to avoid meat if I can help it his response was “God created this world. He said, feed on these plants and creatures.” Those kinds of comments really turn me off from religion. But although I definitely am not a Christian people on this trip have shown me how it can be good.

So anyway, conclusion from that paragraph is that religion is also definitely up there as a possible major. Anthropology seems more likely though because I think I would get frustrated with lack of logic in religion. I would get frustrated with comments like the one above, using the Bible as the basis for an argument. Although I know I could get around that if I really wanted to study religion. We’ll see, we’ll see.

(Meanwhile, if anybody from Princeton is reading this and has a recommendation for a class or a professor that I must take a class from before graduating, comment or email me!)