Mar. 24th, 2010

Trash

Mar. 24th, 2010 04:54 pm
azurite: (batman - criminal justice system)
I just came home from Downtown. After an allergy test (which I "passed" by being allergic to lots of things, especially dust mites), I met Mom at the St. Francis and hung there for an hour before Mom and I headed homeward. Or at least I did; Mom had an appointment, so we parted ways at Fillmore.

I was reading "Eat, Pray, Love" because I'm not the type to get "carsick" (or "bus-sick," as it were) and because I feel a strange resonation with Elizabeth Gilbert, the book's author. She could be me in a few years, though I don't know whether that's a good thing or not. I'm not done with the book quite yet, but the interesting thoughts that have crossed my mind while reading the book are not the subject of this entry.

As the bus neared the avenues, an older man in the single seat in front of mine saw the back door across from us open at a stop. He chucked a Coke bottle out and then turned back to face the front.

I was disgusted. To the point of wanting to throw up disgusted, which is a pretty severe reaction for someone who's just witnessed littering. It shouldn't such a big deal, but I was mad. I shot a disgusted look at the guy, who didn't see me, of course, but the girl across from me, an African-American girl with a pretty headscarf, a hoodie that didn't match, and an ever-present yellow lighter, did. Neither of us said anything, not to the man, not to anyone.

I couldn't concentrate on the book anymore because I felt this rage, this fire in me. But I kept trying to temper it down with questions like "Why do you care?" and "Why is it a big deal?" Some people litter on the bus, and frankly trash could be a lot worse than a Coke bottle. The guy could have hung onto it, could have tossed it out when he got off the bus, or he could have dropped it on the bus and let it roll around hitting people's feet and get caught behind the doors.

I contemplated throwing trash on him, but I didn't have any. I somehow managed to lose my transfer between the allergist's and the hotel, and the other transfer I intend to keep until it's expired--just in case. Besides, a transfer isn't really "trashy" enough to teach a litterbug a lesson. I needed some expired chop suey or something, but that would be pushing it, right?

I thought about just calling him a pig as I walked out of the bus, but what if the guy was really some violent Mafia felon (I blame the Mafia train of thought on the book, because I had just finished reading the final portion about Italy and Sicily and the cheap concrete filled with bones of people who displeased the Mafia)? I thought about saying it in another language, but my stop was coming up and the word for "pig" in Japanese escaped me.

So I got off the bus without saying or doing anything, and I felt wretched as a result. What kind of world is it that we live in where we can just throw things away like they're nothing, like the Earth is nothing and we don't even expend a little bit of effort to do the right thing, like "recycle," as if we're really making SOME impact? I try and tell myself even a little bit helps, that even an individual can start something, but I bit my lip and kept my mouth shut because sometimes you can't make an example out of others without making an example of yourself first--and not in a good way.

Did I miss out on a chance to teach someone a lesson, or is it even my place? I did make eye contact with that guy as I got off the bus. Turns out he wasn't some ferocious Mafia guy, just an old Asian guy with flip-flops and crusty white feet. I wonder if he saw the exhaustion in my own eyes, the "sick of the world/sick of you" attitude I felt at that moment, because I'd already swallowed the disgust and anger and decided it wasn't worth it. He looked tired too, or maybe just ambivalent, uncaring, apart from the world. Not his problem.

Thinking about it makes me angry again, but like a wave, it recedes away into exhaustion. I can't change people: they have to want to change, they have to be provoked into desiring to change. Can I be a provocateur? Maybe, but only if I stop fearing the consequences. And maybe opening my big mouth, even if it's to reprimand someone "politely" ("Excuse me, but you could have thrown that in a trash can." / "So? What am I going to do about it now?") or to dare to insult a stranger, even if it's in a foreign language, or to just GLARE at someone, hoping that my anger is clear will get me in big trouble one day, but you don't know if you don't try, right? And I'll keep being angry at the world, at others, and most of all, myself, if I don't even TRY to make a difference, small as it is.

Is it weird, wanting to be an example, standing up for what I believe is right? Shouldn't it come naturally, for the things I care about most? It's not like recycling is my big champion cause, but I've just grown up with the habit that you don't toss Coke bottles out of the back doors of buses onto the street.

All I'm left with is a sigh. I don't know what to do with myself, let alone others who piss me off.
azurite: (blue flower)
In 28 minutes, Ada Lovelace day will have come to a close. I pledged over at FindingAda.com to make a post about women in technology somehow, but coming up with a good topic has been harder than I thought. I was initially hoping to make a post all about female characters in video games, but my post about that sadly didn't get as much of a response as I'd hoped. I didn't hear about the Finding Ada website soon enough to make that other post as early as was probably necessary, to be honest.

When it comes to thinking of particular women in technology that I admire, that could be my heroines, it's actually challenging to think of a particular person or a name. I know there are awesome women behind the scenes at Dreamwidth, at AO3, at LiveJournal and Wikimedia and all those other companies and organizations that are making incredible sites and interfaces and experiences for people the world over. But they're all amazing--there's not just one particular woman who is more awesome than the others, or has done more than anyone else.

I'm pretty proud my own personal involvement with technology. I got a good start from a great teacher: my late sister, Michelle Smith, who helped me learn computers by way of our IBM Aptiva and playing games like DOOM II and chatting online using MTEZ for DOS. She took me to the Windows 95 "reveal," (where the head presenter was a WOMAN! Shock! She gave me a shirt and her card and I felt special even at age 9) and I can't ever remember feeling so excited to be in a room full of people who were unabashed geeks, knowing that we were--still are!--the future while everyone else thought we were weird.

Of course, my sister and I wouldn't have been able to do any of that were it not for my mom, who recognized that technology would be something great for both of us, and she struggled to make sure we both had every opportunity to access and use that technology, whether we had to go to a library or get a home computer ourselves to really experience it. I felt good, sitting in front of a computer and learning about American history through the original Oregon Trail, or imagining all kinds of worlds for stories that got printed on dot matrix printers and green-and-white striped paper.

When I finally started getting involved with computers--going on the Internet, attempting to write stories for others, build websites, and meet people--my foundation was comprised of the incredibly supportive network of young ladies and women that made up the Sailor Moon Romance Fan Fiction (SMRFF) mailing list. If it wasn't for them encouraging me to keep writing, keep reading, keep learning, I might have found some other interest to occupy my time. But because they gave me a reason to keep coming back online, to keep learning more and doing more, I made an effort to get better with technology. I may not be in touch with all of them anymore, but I'm forever grateful to them for getting me started and honestly making me feel comfortable and even loved, even if I've never seen their faces or heard their voices.

In high school, I asked lots of questions and learned a lot about technology. I started a blog, kept building websites both for myself and for classes, and even worked as one of the few female student aides to the school's Technical Adviser. In college, I was one of the few women who worked at the university's Information Technology Help Center, but by the time I left this past December, I was one of many girls. Not all of them were engineering or computer science majors, either, which seems to be the expectation for anyone that really "knows" computers: we had art majors, humanities majors, and people who, like me, just loved technology. It was a guy that gave me--a journalism major--a chance to be a computer "expert" and help people across the university, a position I held with pride. But I felt it was part of my duty to make technology seem easy and not so intimidating, so girls just like me could pick up a computer and feel like they knew what they were doing and that it was FUN to use computers and other devices.

So for this Ada Lovelace Day, I don't have one particular heroine or woman in mind that has inspired me through her use of technology. I think I probably have closer to a hundred, maybe more. I may not know all of their real names, but they have all played a vital role in my life, making me who I am today (for better or for worse, haha!).

Thank you, ladies.

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