Friday, October 7, 2011

A plea to the public, too

Hey guys,

It's your friend, Liz Rapuzzi. You may know me from such fun times as the University Montana, the Shoreline public school system, Evergreen or simply through mutual friends. I'm writing to ask a really big favor from you all. I don't think I've ever asked a favor from you, if I have my apologies and you can ignore this. But I'm writing to call in a big favor on the strength of my friendship with you. I wouldn't be asking you this favor if it weren't so gosh-darned important to me. So bear with me. Please.

If you've seen my facebook feed in the last week, you probably already know that I have been energized by the Occupy Wall Street movement, and more specifically am involved in Occupy Seattle, currently located at Westlake Park downtown. I am not a conflict-driven person, usually. I very much ride the fence between reform and revolution because I like to think of myself as a pragmatist.

As a Greener I have seen my fair share of protests and usually feel the same way most folks do about them- it's the anarchist black-bloc element screaming 'Fuck the Pigs' rhetoric that has me running far far away even if I agree with some of what they say. When I first heard about Occupy Wall Street, I was intrigued, but assumed it would much the same...radical folks already involved in activism who are more about egos than effecting real change. I'm writing today because I want to let you know that I've been down there at Westlake and I've met people, and this is different. It really is.

Don't think of Occupy Wall Street as a protest, think of it as a conversation. I am genuinely worried about the state of our country and want to have conversations with my community about how they're feeling. We are a beautifully diverse country and far too often we self-segregate based on notions of commonality that separate us from our brothers and sisters in humanity. Now is a time when we can say that we have more in common than ever before if only we recognize it- we are all struggling to avoid debt, to make a decent living, to have health insurance and to live that American dream. Age nor race nor gender nor religion nor politics can take away the fact that the people of this country are struggling. Even if you and I are doing okay, we know people who aren't. And it isn't that some people deserve more than others, it's that the financial system and its inextricable influence on politics has become corrupt.

Even if you do not believe this, even if you are unsure, I am asking a favor. Tomorrow at Westlake Center there will be a rally and march for the Occupy Seattle group. I want you there. You will lose nothing by coming down and meeting people. I hope, in fact, that you will gain something-a sense of community and a sense of relief. It's nice to know that you're not alone in this world. And you're not.

There is no committment necessary- if you come down and leave feelingthe same about it as when you started, that's fine. This is an exercise in patriotism- I love my country and want to connect with everyone in it. Please join me tomorrow at Westlake Park and give me five minutes of your time. It is with sincerity and conviction that I make this plea and I hope it does not fall on deaf ears.

In love and solidarity,

Liz Rapuzzi

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pollyanna McCriesAlot

On facebook earlier I said I would be blogging tonight. I finally got around to it. And I feel that because I teased with certain topics, I'm bound to talk about them.


I'm just going to blather, which I can do with remarkable ease, as previous posts on this blog would suggest. You get what you get. And if you do it, you'll just do it. Or something like that.

So I'm like, really concerned about:
1. the planet
2. human society as we know it
3. the economy, I guess?
4. serious stuff that is serious
5. the fact that having made this list, I won't coherently address any of the above at all

Here's the thing- I think most people who know me, even on an acquaintance level, would answer 'extremely optimistic' if given a survey on my general outlook on life. I really like to think that this is true. It is certainly the story I sing to the outside world. I also make my living (and do a damn good job, just so you know) trying to keep upbeat and positive for folks who don't have much of anything to be optimistic about. It is exhausting. I'm not complaining, I'm so happy I tripped and fell into an internship five years ago that would help define who I am and what I do. I can make a decent living meeting insanely interesting people and my life is great in perspective. But it's still fucking exhausting. And so, you know what, internet? I can get downright grim. Not depressed, not pessimistic, just...grim.

I don't cry nearly as much as I used to. Five years ago when I started at Bread and Roses in Olympia, I had nightmares for weeks. The third day in, a young family with two kids in strollers and a babe in arms showed up on our front porch and they had no where to go. No. Where. To. Go. Luckily some other co-workers took the lead with them as I rushed downstairs to just sob. And wail. And I called my mom later that night. And cried some more.

I hope I can make it clear that while this is a story about me, and my reaction to things, I get that it *isn't* about me. I have my health, my sanity, the love of friends and family, and a heck of a lot more options than that family had five years ago. But coming from that background, I was sheltered. Heck, I never even broke a bone (knock on wood). I didn't drink until I was 19. My parents are still together. It wasn't a perfect upbringing (whose the fuck is?) but I guess I'm trying to convey that now, having been exposed to a lot more, I realize all of the protection I've had from the world. The world can be a scary, cruel place, and lonely, too. I didn't know that.

And so yes, I have days where I just feel like I can't hear another story of how the world has failed someone. How we have failed someone. The elderly women who've either outlived their families or have shitty kids and are trying to survive on $800 a month for rent, medical bills, and retaining some dignity. The kids just aged out of foster care, who haven't known a loving home, have learning disabilities and not one iota of hope for themselves. The young mothers who deal with abuse and judgement from a society who won't educate them on sex but refuse to provide condoms in the schools. and then call them welfare queens for the crime of trying to get by. The outcasts, the mentally ill, the veterans of our insane lust for power and domination over the world. They call me sweetheart, angel, bitch and whore. I've been accused of racism, of not understanding their pain, of not caring at all. I'm a sister they loved, a mother they lost, an old girlfriend who got away. And so it goes, day in, day out.

So my optimism is my greatest bluff against a world I'm desperately struggling to understand. Sometimes I wonder if it'd be easier if I were religious. But it ain't happening. People are my religion. The thing that gets me up in the morning. And sometimes people make me cry.

"We must believe that it is the darkest before the dawn of a beautiful new world. We will see it when we believe it." Saul Alinsky

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Well, it's been a minute...

But I have actual internet (!!!) at my house, and I have lots to blab about. So I'm going for round two of the narcissism express. Also, practicing putting up photos.


The Subasaurus Rex died going Eastbound on the West Seattle Bridge yesterday. Unsure if she will ever drive again, I look forward to further bus adventures. Not so much the early morning (see previous blog re: early morning hate).

Layoffs are looming on the horizon at work. I can only hope that the end times correspond to that so I don't have to look for another job. Seriously.

It's Summer Time in Seattle. Adventure time!

Alright, back soon with better than this, I hope.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lucky For Life

The Lottery: not just a fucked up short story you're forced to read in school.

We were having a staff lunch out at some delicious Chinese restaurant ( I'm not sure, because I was waylaid in the parking lot by someone looking for services and missed the 'Eat Chinese for Lunch' boat) and had gone to the 7-11 across the street to get cash. In order to have appropriate change, I was buying a diet coke to break a $20. The guy in front of me purchased a scratch lotto ticket. I was seized by a desire to do the same. I thought it must be a special sign, because I hate anything that looks like gambling, for the most part.

I didn't always hate gambling. My dad taught me how to play blackjack with cheerios instead of money when I was little, and I'm pretty damn good (this is also the same man who, when asked for a school project what his advice was for his then 16 year old daughter could only reply 'Take the money and run'- thanks dad). And thanks to an ex-boyfriend of mine, I'm still tempted to ask people if they 'want to make it interesting' when playing pool at the pub. He used to tell people I was this amazing pool shark and talk up my skills (which are zero-to-none: I can do a jump shot if I'm the right amount of drunk and ballsy), then bet drinks on the result. The team we played against would be so focused on my playing and be psyched out wondering why I was sucking so much, they didn't notice him quietly running them under the table. It was good times, full of free shots of whiskey.

But yes, I hate gambling. A family member went into a casino-related debt spiral that ruined not only his finances, but his mental health and eventually changed his life in ways I can't even begin to get into here. I understand that gambling can be a disease to some and others can walk away from a night of wins or losses with no compulsion to play again. But the people playing into lottery winnings and casino profits aren't the folks who can walk away. It's the folks who play scratch cards and the lottery week after week, because surely a day will come when the gods of luck and chance and fortune smile upon them, showering them with rewards that will more than make up for years of disappointment. Gambling is an abuser who really loves you, baby, but why do you make it hurt you?

I was shaken deeply by the experience of my family member. I have vowed never again to enter a casino (having entered one once, this is not a mighty life change for me). I am humorless about it. I would be awful to take to Vegas (I don't care if I get to see Bette Midler play the ukulele!), and no, I won't get on up to Tulalip and spend my hours eating at a buffet, drinking, and laughing uproariously at every spin of the wheel (have you seen those commercials? Jesus!). But I do have my moments. Last summer at a bar attached a seedy motel, I found myself playing pull tabs. The pathetic simplicity of the game should be a tip off to its absolute worthlessness. I found myself thinking, 'Oh yeah, I picked a good basket. Oh this totally makes sense. I am definitely going to win $125 right here and right now!'. I won $2. I bought two more pulltabs. And lost.

And that's what gets me. The fact that, even though I've never picked numbers for a lotto, I still find myself imagining what I would do with lotto winnings. It's common- people usually have a prepared list of 'What they Would Do/Buy/Experience' on the strength of a winning ticket, ready to extol their virtues ('Well I have several charities in mind, and then of course I'd put some away for the college education/life-saving surgery of a family member(s), and maybe with what's left over I'd get a lamborghini') to others at a cocktail party. I don't even play and I have this list. Because who doesn't want a fuckton of money? His Holiness the Dalai Lama? Yeah, awesome, HHDL, be all special. We're not. We're the hoi polloi, desperate for a 'Get Out Of Mediocrity Free' card.

And there's a family myth that perpetuates the idea that the women on one side of the family are psychic, have pre-cognitive dreams, and are lucky in many things, including gambling. I have fallen prey to this narrative before, and I see it every time my mom wins a little something at the Casino. When you start thinking you're different from everyone, you definitely shouldn't gamble. Because it's a lie.

And so it was with surprise I found myself asking my regular cashier at the 7-11 (Darshawn- whatup Darshawn? You my boy!) if I could buy a $5 scratch card. The guy in front of me did, and I started feeling lucky. There were many to choose from, and so I asked Darshawn to point one out to me behind the glass. Darshawn and I have weekly interactions involving his very earnest religious beliefs involving Allah, which are awesome and very sweet. This special reltionship that I have made up in my head also made me think he would pick a lucky card for me. By magic. He picked 'Lucky for Life' which is a game that, if you win, pays you $1k a week for life. FOR LIFE. That shit is crazy. As I purchased the ticket and went on my way back to the office, I began imagining how many problems of mine would be solved should I win, which I would totally win, because I am special.

And then I scratched the damn card. I even used a penny from my purse, to make sure there was extra luckiness surrounding the momentous occasion when I won a bunch of money. That's how sold I was on this fantasy. Skritch, skritch, skritch went the penny. Down, down, down went my hopes. I won $5. Which I hope is the universe's way of telling me 'Don't be an idiot. You get this one free.'

And because of this, I was waylaid, and missed Chinese for Lunch.

And that's why momma don't gamble.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

This is my morning blog, where I talk about the morning

Gooooood morning, everyone!

(I'd like to take this moment to point out the inherent weirdness of blogs, which is that theoretically you have an audience, when really no one has ever seen your blog, ever)

It's the morning! Mornings are supposed to be good for something, so I've heard. I wouldn't know, mornings are my nemesis. Mornings spat in my face and called me stupid as a child. Mornings gave me a back-handed compliment about looking so pretty when I wear makeup.

Haha, this is all in good fun. I wouldn't want to piss the Morning off. It might make me late for work, or make me miss a bus because morning time is designed for failure.

Personally, I won at mornings this morning, because I am at work a full half hour early! That is bananas! My car died. I was forced out of my natural routine by the death rattle of a beloved hunk o' metal. I am no noble soul, spending my time alone at the bus stop in quiet retrospection. No, I am a person whose favorite job involved living above the space where I worked so I could roll out of bed at 5 minutes to 9, start a pot of coffee for the folks coming in, and not even put real clothes on, let alone shoes. It was a glorious and sketchy time in my life, and I will always miss it.

It is my understanding that some people enjoy this time of day. Some do their best work, others work out or actually make food instead of demanding some ungodly cheese and bacon creation from Starbucks. SOME PEOPLE ACTUALLY MAKE THEIR OWN COFFEE AT HOME AND THEN READ THE NEWSPAPER. That is just insane. But I have no choice-for the forseeable future (and, FYI, I can see a fuckton of future 'cause I'm smart like that), I, too, will be an AM man-about-town.

Pros: energy! possibility of making my own brekky! I might shower! if I catch the bus on time I could potentially be productive! be normal like other adults who do the morning thing! yay!

Cons: either go to bed early or sleep less. feel guilty if I don't create an amazing diner-worthy brekky every day. still dark outside. be a normal adult.

As you can see from the extremely well-thought out lists above, I have much to ponder in the comings days and weeks. Does anyone have tips for the morning so we can stop this childish feud we've had for years?

Monday, January 24, 2011

On Vacation Homes and Privilege

What a refreshing weekend. Champagne and caviar dreams and all that (although let's say, for sake of honesty, cheap Cook's champers and replace caviar with chips and salsa...and double-stuff oreos).

Drove to Westport (about three hours from Seattle) with friends Saturday morning to a really lovely vacation home owned by my pal's sister and brother-in-law. Ran into the Pacific as the sun set, made pasta, played charades. Played ukulele, barely, as drunk uke playing is like drunk sex...totally possible, but very little finesse. The house was kitted out lovingly, and we had everything we needed for a quick getaway from city life, stress, and the routinization of our weekends. I was overwhelmed by a feeling of 'I can't wait to be able to have a vacation place of my very own' and it was then that I realized why I never will.

I've grown up very 'comfortable' my whole life. This is a euphemism for well-off, which is a euphemism for rich. And rich is a euphemism for asshole, but I digress. And my family isn't rich, at least not to us anyway, but compare us to the rest of the world and we do quite well for ourselves. In any case, we always rented vacation homes growing up, and for a short while had a double-wide on a bit of lakefront on South Whidbey Island. Not exactly the height of luxury, but the fact is: We could afford it. I come from a world where it is possible to have not just one, but *two* places to spend one's time. Not everyone does. I'm not complaining about growing up well-off, I should think I know better than that. I also know to not pretend I grew up poor, oppressed or downtrodden when I didn't, which is one of the worst offenses I see amongst Liberals of a Certain Type.

What I'm getting at is that it is commonly accepted that a marker of success is being able to own as much dirt on this planet as you can. Or that you can take enough time off work to go to another place where all you do is enjoy nice things. That you own. Because you are rich. I myself wistfully imagine a place in Missoula, Montana where it's just me, a little bungalow, and the biggest, bluest sky around.

I don't need it. I don't need anything but a safe place to lay my head. And I have one. Which is more than we can say about millions of people in these United States, and so many more around the planet. I do not need more than I need. And sorting out the difference between need and want as concepts is something that we as a race must do quickly and honestly. In a society defined by its consumerism (and by obvious relationship its capitalism), we would say, 'But those people with vacation homes, they've earned it! They have every right to do with their money as they wish! They worked hard and deserve it!' and leave it at that. I disagree. For the continued existence of humanity, we cannot continue on as though winning the money game means you get to have while others have not.

Maybe if we ensured that everyone around us had adequate nutrition, healthcare and shelter, we wouldn't need to escape reality so often in the warm, cozy busom of vacation homes. I cannot fathom owning a home that lay dormant, existing solely to cater to my travel whims, while thousands are homeless every night in my very city. It may be what I want, but it is not what I need.

And as with any sweeping generalization, of *course* I'm a hypocrite. I drive a car, which is a horrible thing for the planet. I don't always buy local, which is one of the best things you can do to support your community. I don't need to use conditioner in my hair. I don't need an iphone. This is not a Matter of Principle, for me. My thoughts on vacation homes do not mean I will never take a vacation or visit the place in Westport ever again. It may be a moot point, because I will probably never be able to afford a primary home on my socialworker's salary let alone a vacation home and I'm not marrying a lawyer. But I do believe in taking stock, and realistically, the more I look at the planet, the more I realize just how screwed we are. Unless there is a huge sea-change in the way we use resources, in the way we treat the 'least of our brethren', then all the vacation homes in the world won't help escape the horrors of our own creation.

We can talk about prosperity evangelism in America some other time.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Getting to know you, getting to know all about you...

Hey hey! This is the post where I actually tell you all about me. Because you're dying to know. Deep breath, here goes...

I didn't learn how to ride a bike until I was 19. I failed my first driver's test. I have a growth in the back of my...wait. Wait. This is all wrong. Do over.

I'm 26. I'm from Seattle. I love the shit out of Seattle. I love the rain (have you noticed the title of my blog? C'mon people, try to catch up), I love our inability to play with the big boys like Chicago, New York and LA and our utter desperation to do so anyway. I'm a savory, not sweets kinda gal. I'm goofy and I have goofy friends. I'm learning to play ukulele. I will hopefully be doing more and more ukulele'ing as I progress, for it is the shit.

I love homeless people. I started working in a homeless advocacy center when I was in college (Evergreen, represent!) and loved it so much I decided that hanging out with homeless people for a living was way better than anything else I could ever do. So five years later, I still do.

I have a lot to say about homelessness, about the future, about my hussy of a cat who just pees on everything, about how I know nothing of music but totally want to be in a band and pretend I'm Frank Zappa, about how hard it is to find cute clothes if you're fat but not super fat, about how soul-sucking office life is and why we will one day move the entire american workplace to a google-plex model or fail as a society, about so much stupid bullshit. That's why I have a blog.

I'm super excited, you guys.

Self Indulgence at Its Very best

Can you possibly believe I've never really had a go at blogging? I'm not going to lie, I have pathetic half-ass live journal entries from 2007, a failed tumblr account, a way too self-serious other blogger blog with one post...but this one feels good, guys. It really does. I totally won't ditch it like the others. It's special.

Notice how many times I said 'I' in that paragraph? This is what I'm talking about. Can anyone who has ever met me really believe I do not already have a regular blog where I write about...myself? I love me! I think I'm rad. I also like to think I temper this attitude with beautiful, understated humility. Hah. You see what I did there?

So what started this particular foray was a facebook post. Facebook- for people like me, who are too lazy to blog, right? I get responses to my status updates, but it's all nice and safe because theoretically I know, like, at least half the a-holes I've friended on FB. Well I caught myself saying, in all self-aware honesty, 'I totally get off on major facebook response.' And it's true.

I totally fucking do.

But, coming to this realization, I now know I must expand my self-indulgent stuff to a better, more appropriate platform. One that people would actually have to bother clicking to from my facebook page, because hey, I don't want to alienate folks who don't want to know my personal distaste for hugging (save it for another blog, I know). I need a little walking around room. There's a crazy awesome word for that and Hitler used it to talk about his need to invade the fuck outta Europe (cause Mr. Artistic Temparment needed his 'walking room) but I don't now it 'cause I'm too lazy to look it up. I totally just compared myself to Hitler. Rad.

Anyway, I like to write, I'm not too awful at writing, and I should probably do more since what the fuck else is the internet for than to help me indulge myself? I sure as hell don't know.