OK, I admit it. I haven't left the house in about a week, mebbe more (what day is it today? what month? what year?). I have no idea what fresh air smells like (unless it's through the bathroom window) even though my parents have about an acre of land, a closed swimming pool and a lovely deck. I have felt no need to go outside and instead, hang out with my mom, where the two of us pitter potter around. When she asks me what I am doing, I tell her I am writing a book. I say the same thing to my sisters, both of whom, I think are convinced I am depressed or have lost it.
I feel great. The hunter in the house, my dad, goes out everyday to work and brings us, the gatherers, groceries. It's tons better than Fresh Direct since I don't have to wait for them at home (moot point since I am home all the time, but what I mean more from that is that I don't have to answer the door, or shower, or change my clothes or make my hair, which I am now despairing about. The stupid thing will only grow 6 inches in one year!!). My mother has decided to share her cigarettes with me, the one reason I would have to leave the house, and in a recent conversation last week when I was planning on leaving the house, to buy cigarettes, she said, oh don't worry, I have another carton. Great. We never have to leave.
I have been in NYC for the first two and a half months of being home and I felt, frankly, a little lost there. My friends were no longer there and I was so NOT into the idea of meeting new people and being friends with them. I like the friends I have. If you don't have to offer what they have to offer, fuck off and leave me alone. I was tired of answering stupid questions about Sri Lanka and what I really wanted to do was sit on a couch and read or write and not do anything but when you do that in NYC, a vibrant, lively, wonderful city with a million and one things going on every second, everyone, including yourself (peer pressure) thinks you are a loser. Also, everyone talks about themselves, they will ask questions but not really listen to answers, which pisses the shit out of me. Everyone should shut up, listen to me and ask prescient questions having only to do with me.
I came to NJ to hang out with my parents, I thought for about three or four days but then realized, OMG...these two people will lavish all sorts of attention on me and I don't have to do shit in return. Genes rule and I don't ever have to leave NJ. I feel cocooned like the twin babies of my friend, www.desparatechickoo.blogspot.com.
I have been home (USA) for about three months. In Sri Lanka, working the hours I was and with the intensity I was, I felt as if I were living under a rock. A whole WORLD was happening out there and all I really knew about was the intricacies of housing policy or lying cheating bastard fishermen in the East of SL. Hurricane Katrina took place and I had no idea what the fuck was going on and thought, it's the US, they will take care of it. I suppose, we have, in the manner that we are taking care of everything else in the world at the moment.
I came home and was glued to alertnet.org. I passed a quiz they have on current events with flying colors. I felt all proud of myself to be caught up with the world. Watching American news shows has just become less painful. Well, with the JonBenet Ramsey case opening up again, it is still painful. Watching Bush or Cheney or Rumsfeld is now less painful since I know I will see them at night on the Daily Show with John Stewart, which I watch religiously every night since it gives me relief.
What I have decided however is that I know nothing about the world. I suppose more precisely, the world that I live in. That right now is the USA.
We will treat this post as a choose your own adventure since I have two veins in which to take this conversation. First is the political rant and then I will get to the other one at a later date using the same intro. Spoiler: Neither is leading you to any light at the end of any tunnel.
This is my country. I love America. I feel like I have to say that all the time now in case people get the wrong idea. I hate what our current government is doing and I am shocked that Americans will not get up and pull out their hair and scream and shout. I don't and just bide my time since I am leaving soon. That is no excuse. Another more plausible excuse is that I am terrified of speaking out. I have been wanting to write about this for a while.
I am indeed terrified of being a brown (macaca), Muslim, Pakistani descent American living in America. I feel terrorized by America, my own god damn country right now. I need to go to London soon and I have no idea which sniveling passenger is going to decide that they don't want to sit near me, or next to me and thus force me off the plane which everyone encourages them. In the stories out here right now about planes being turned around or bearded men or arab looking men not being allowed to board planes because of fears of the other passengers, my question is....where the fuck are the people who will stand up and say, enough is enough?!?! That person, unfortuantely, cannot be me. I am (as in 'my people') the one being terrorized, harassed and marginalized so my standing up for this means shit. It's the others out there (basically you white, black, east asian, anyone not brown peoples) who have to stand up for my rights.
After 9-11, my parents, immigrants in this country (who the INS would come and beg for them to become citizens, anad even then, my mom took her sweet time to become one), said to us, their daughters, stop protesting, stop yelling and shouting. They will lock you up and we will never be able to find you. I won't speak for my sisters but I recall, vividly, scoffing and saying with great confidence, *I* am a born and bred American citizen. No one can take away my rights away from me. If I see my country, this democracy doing something I disagree with, I will not stand by and watch this. In this vein, I took part, among various other forms of protest, in a NYC wide protest against the Iraq war on March 27th of 03 and was arrested for civil disobedience. At no point did I feel fear and I went through the whole entire process calmly and unscathed. I was proud of being part of a great American tradition, 60's style, of peaceful protest to bring about change. It didn't bring about change but it was an act that mattered to me.
I am afraid to protest now.
This makes me very sad.
I don't know if this is because I am out of NYC for the time being. NYC is a big ole bubble. I feel most protected there in a strange way. Stranger still, with all the protests going on in the whole world with Lebanon, I don't feel as if NYC represented in a big way. Maybe I am out of the activist loop but that too is a good perspective to have, especially in NYC where we feel as if the world revolved around us. If I, someone who does follow things like this, had trouble seeing that representation, forget about the rest of America and the rest of the world seeing it. That is problematic.
Besides not being in the bubble of NYC, I am out in suburban NJ where like most Americans, I now get an overexposed dose of the news. I don't even need to go into how terrifying that is, and in fact, after 9-11, I had written a piece for www.chowk.com that spoke about my parents watching news 24/7 and being terrified of going out. My mother wears a scarf and my father is a big (really big) bearded man. Again, I had written about this in some derision and implied that they were slowly going mad. Their sanity right now seems more intact than mine.
For someone who has just spent the last year and half advocating for change in another country, how hollow and false does my work now seem to me? VERY. I feel frustrated, helpless and a odds with what I should do with my feelings of fear and love for a country that is by all accounts, my country.
I hope to God to not find myself in a position to have to defend a fellow brown person from being allowed on a plane. I will do it. It matters to me (and chances are, he, and chances are it will be a he, has been quinteplet checked) I just don't know what the outcome will be. It seems almost pointless for me to be the one protesting now.
Why can't we as Americans just take the isolationist stance we had taken under....was it Wilson? All the problems would go away if we leave the rest of the world alone. It really is that simple.
Well, I would like it to be that simple.