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Time:10:48 am
so the roadtrip was amazing. started out in chicago (i flew from philly with my mom and stepdad) and stayed in wheaton IL for 4 days for a family reunion. the reunion was great, but i don't think i'll write about it right now because that's a whole other story...

my ride picked me up in wheaton on July 5, and we drove across the rest of Illinois, crossed the Mississippi River, and drove across all of Iowa. there's not much to say about iowa. we stopped in a supermarket and couldn't even find any corn, even though that's all we had seen out the car window all day. we camped at the western border of Illinois, along a creek right near the Missouri River. it was really beautiful. i had been deprived of nature for so long; after i helped pitch the tent i ran off into the woods, took a lot of photos, walked around, saw about 20 deer. we cooked vegan chili over a propane stove and sat around the fire pit for the rest of the night.
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the next day we drove north up the western coast of iowa and into south dakota. drove almost all the way across south dakota, making some exciting stops at the world's only Corn Palace Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


and the country's largest drugstore in Wall, South Dakota. The corn palace is basically this weird building that was built in 1884 or something like that, and the outside and inside are completely decorated with corn. they make all kinds of designs and murals with different colored corn. weird.

Wall Drug (the drugstore) sucked. they have all kinds of tacky stuff that makes fun of native americans, and they import their workers from taiwan.
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ok...then we made it to the Badlands. absolutely beautiful. well, beautiful in a weird way; there's a reason why it's called the badlands. some parts of it are like the grand canyon, but a lot smaller, and there are large, flat, desert-like areas here and there. it's very desolate, and i loved it. i think i read that the badlands cover about 240,000 acres. it was pretty incredible. i don't think i've ever been so far away from other human beings before. we found a campsite and pitched the tent, but it was so windy that our large tent wouldn't stay put. that ended up being a good thing, because we just slept outside in our sleeping bags under the clearest sky i've ever seen, illuminated by the moon and the millions of stars that we could see. we did some hiking in the morning, and we saw a lot of bison, antelope, cows, horses, and prairie dogs. i guess i'm naive, but i seriously didn't realize that bison still existed in the US. i thought they were a thing of the past. we actually had to stop our car at one point because a buffalo was just standing right at the side of the road.
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we were planning to spend the next whole day in the badlands, but we decided to just continue on. we drove through the pine ridge reservation, which is technically in the badlands, and went to Wounded Knee. at Wounded Knee there is now a visitor's center/small museum and a graveyard for those killed in the massacre. i guess i wasn't quite prepared for all that emotionally. i was kind of just thinking 'oh we'll just stop by Wounded Knee and see what's there and then continue on' but as i was walking around the graveyard, i cried for the first time in 7 months. and that's a big deal for me; i used to cry all the time, but this year i haven't at all really. just seeing all those Lakota Sioux names knowing that they died defending their lives and land from white people. thinking about the fact that no gravestone should ever say Baby Boy Black Bear, and then looking at the dates of his birth and death. only 6 days between..

walked back to the car in silence, drove south to Nebraska, going through the towns of Pine Ridge and Oglala on the way. got to Wyoming and decided to camp in the Medicine Bow State Forest, just north of Laramie. it was really in the middle of nowhere. after getting of the state road, we had to drive several more miles before driving another maybe 45 miles on a small dirt road. at one point we stopped abruptly because there was a huge rattlesnake in the road. it as funny, i started to freak out a little bit because the rattlesnake lifted its head and started moving toward us, so i kind of screamed at everyone to roll up their windows. also had to stop the car for rabbits, cows, and deer. it was cool to see all these animals totally in the wild; some of the animals i saw on the roadtrip were animals that i had only seen on the other side of fences or in cages.
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later as we got further into the forest, i opened my window and noticed an extremely good, cinnamon-like scent from the pine trees. it was probably the freshest air i have ever breathed. for dinner we made stuffed peppers and potatoes by wrapping them in foil and throwing them in the fire pit, which ended up being really good.
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the next day was the drive all the way across the southern part of wyoming and into utah. most of wyoming, as i expected was extremely desolate. there are so few people that when you do happen to pass another car, it's rude NOT to wave at them. each time we entered a new town, there would be a sign saying the name of the town, the elevation, and the population. some towns had populations of 1, some had as many residents as 18. some signs just had the name and elevation; i wonder why they even bother making it a town. wyoming was pretty beautiful though; it was much more mountainous than i had expected.
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utah was amazing. the half hour drive approaching salt lake city may have been the most beautiful part of the trip. it was so green and majestic and beautiful, i'm not surprised that so many rich celebrities vacation there. we stayed with a very sweet couple in SLC that my friends knew, and we hung out in the backyard with them until around midnight, then i took a very much needed shower and went to sleep.

there's not much to say about nevada. it's a bunch of nothing, strip clubs, and casinos. you can even gamble in most of the rest stops along the highway. i was tempted to gamble for gas money, but i probably would have lost. we stopped at a mexican restaurant in Elko and watched the beginning of the Italy/France final world cup game. it's weird, all of the towns that we stopped in in South Dakota and Nevada we so western, i didn't even know towns like that still existed. i guess i still thought those towns were stereotypes from the past, and i guess the roadtrip has made me understand America a bit better.

it took forever to get across Nevada. we thought it would never end. the salt flats were kind of cool, but got old after a few miles. also, route 80 doesn't cut straight across; the Great Basin is in the way and you have to drive around it to get to California. we kept falling asleep and waking up to see that we had only moved another milimeter on the map.

sometime in the early evening we finally got to California. after 5 days in the car, we thought we would never get there, and it felt really good, although we still had to drive across the Sierra Nevada. the Sierra Nevada was a really nice drive, although i don't think our little Saturn enjoyed it very much.

now i'm in oakland, living in a warehouse with about 30 cats and a bunch of interesting people. i really like the bay area, although public transportation is really expensive. i started applying for jobs right away in berkeley and san francisco, and i now have a part time job selling tickets for the san francisco symphony.
so i guess i'm settled in already. it doesn't take me long to call a new place my home.
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for more photos look here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/silenzia/sets/72157594227000970/
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Subject:cartography and relationships
Time:12:56 am
the more i travel, the more i realize i should stay in one place. have a more tangible community. it's nice to know people in a lot of places, but i don't want to be known as one of those people who just comes once in a while and just hangs out briefly, just enough time to catch up and that's it. how can i move forward if i'm always catching up? i can't seem to stay in one place these days, and i'm loving this whole travelling thing, but now i'm feeling sad about leaving people behind all over the place. i really value all the wonderful people in my life, and while sometimes i feel like i take them for granted, i feel like i appreciate them more when i just see them once in a while. makes me appreciate the places more too.

[towns are the illusion that things hang together somehow, my pear, your winter]
[what if you get stranded in a town where pears and winters are variants for another? can you eat winter? no. can you live six months inside a frozen pear? no. but there is a place, i know the place, where you will stand and see pear and winter side by side as walls stand by silence. can you punctuate yourself as silence? you will see edges cut away from you, back into a world of another kind- back into real emptiness, some would say. well, we are objects in a wind that stopped, is my view. there are regular towns and irregular towns, there are wounded towns and sober towns and fiercely remembered towns, there are useless but passionate towns that battle on, there are towns where the snow slides from the roofs of the houses with such force that victims are killed, but there are no empty towns (just empty scholars) and there is no regret. now move along.]
-anne carson

i left new brunswick almost a year ago and went back the other day to get some closure. that town rocked me hard, and i love it because although my experiences there were mostly bad, they were intense. i had so many extreme ups and downs, and i totally lost myself in it. i'm glad i moved on, but i left parts of my heart there.
i've left parts of my life, literally and not, scattered all over the place
jersey. new orleans. west philly. iceland. the mississippi river. montreal. south philly. the lower east side. brooklyn. italy. regensburg. berlin. arizona. oakland.

and i think about you, and you, and you, and how life might be more simple if we weren't defined by the distance that separates us. our meeting wouldn't be such an event.

[when are territory does not fit the map, we reshape it: draw and redraw the coastlines and boundaries/name and rename the places of history/until at last we decide that the maps are completed/(though maps are never complete)/our last map is patterned with hard, bold lines/on it is clearly defined/our separate spaces/what is yours / what is mine
(but somewhere between the first and the last map there was a place where there were no demarcations of space, all lines having become breath, a blur brushed across the skin and sweat beading on the small of my back, here and here, hands touch tender and tongue tastes salt like rain the steam the smell of green / unmappable, this leap of memory, this place where our bodies had no borders between)]
-taien ng-chan
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Time:10:04 pm
Current Mood:anxiousanxious
losing touch with myself.
i realize that i have this pattern of how i interact with people, and it disturbs me. i get to know someone really well, and then one of two things happen. i either get used to them and forget that we are two different autonomous human beings, and get really clingy and kind of freak the person out OR the friendship/relationship can be really great, and i'm really enjoying it, but then i start to freak out about how well i can know someone. and then i back off, and the person probably thinks i lost interest in them, and we are never able to be as close as we once were.

i don't know how to disrupt this cycle. how to break a pattern that has been so constant in my life.

i get obsessive about people.

and there are some people that i don't even like anymore, but at times in the past we were really close, and even though i don't particularly like them, i start to feel like shit about them not really talking to me anymore. like, i have reasons to hate you that you don't even realize, and since you don't know about them why are things different on your side too? don't you wonder why we're not so close and wish we still were? doesn't anyone else get really nostalgic about everything the same way i do?

and then i have friends in so many places, but i'm not as close with them as i used to be because i don't see them very often. and they get sick of waiting for me to come back, and then eventually i return and things have changed, and i don't even know half of the people they hang out with because all the social circles have shifted enough for me to feel out of place all over again.

maybe i should stop moving around so much. maybe that's why i feel lonely a lot. i freak out when i'm by myself for a while, and that's been happening a lot. that's why i get depressed whenever i go to pennsylvania. now i'm in montreal, and everything's great, but i'm wondering what the hell i'm doing. i'm making plans to travel during the summer, getting stressed about money, wondering if i should really go to all these places anyway. i feel like it's time to pick a place and stay there, so that i can develop my life and get some sort of direction. but can't i just combine that with my plan to go back to new orleans in the fall and stay there? i can't figure anything out. i feel like no matter where i go, whenever i pick a place i love and decide to stay there, i start really missing all the other places i love. how can i stay in new orleans long term if i'm always having urges to go to places like brooklyn, and california, and mexico? it's just like how i haven't been able to write anything really creative in a while, because in the last few months, i'll get my notebook, go to one of my favorite cafes, and there's always SOMETHING about the atmosphere that's just not right. or it's fine, but i just keep thinking about all the other cafes i could be in that would also be suitable for writing. i have every reason to be satisfied with a certain atmosphere but there's always a level of anxiety that's high enough to keep me numb. and this keeps happening, and i end up not producing anything because i can't stay in one place.

dum dee dum.
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Subject:fuck yeah
Time:01:01 pm
copied from infoshop news. (news.infoshop.org)

Borders"El Gran Paro Americano 2006" "The Great American Boycott 2006"

"Un dia sin immigrante" "A day without an immigrant"

Immigrants contribute 7 billion in social security per year. they earn 240 billion, report 90 billion, and only are reimbursed 5 billion, "where are the 85 billion?" They also contribute to the U.S. economy 25 billion more than they receive in healthcare, etc., etc., etc. According to the anti-immigrant politicians and hatemongers, "immigrants are a drain on society." If this is true, then during the day on May 1st the stock market will surge, and the economy will boom. If not, we prove them wrong once and for all. We know what will happen!


Therefore, the "March 25th Coalition against HR4437 in Los Angeles," the organizers of the mega march of almost 2 million on March 25th, has called for an emergency videoconferenced meeting on April 8th between Los Angeles and any city that wishes to join the efforts toward "El Gran Paro Americano 2006." The following meeting will take place in Chicago on April 22nd, we ask that all that wish to participate and be a part of a national effort on May 1st and beyond, to attend by finding facilities in your areas that can hold the meeting, technologically.

The points of unity are: No Work, No School, No Sales, and No Buying, and also to have rallies around symbols of economic trade in your areas (stock exchanges, anti-immigrant corporations, etc.).

Cities across the United States have marched during the week, therefore, in essence observing a regional boycott, which is only felt regionally. The March 25th Coalition against HR4437, calls for these regions to develop a national network that will "connect the dots." We believe with numbers we have power, the power currently necessary to keep the pressure on the White House to propose provisions that are
just and fair for all immigrants.

We will settle for nothing less than full amnesty and dignity for the millions of undocumented workers presently in the U.S. We believe that increased enforcement is a step in the wrong direction and will only serve to facilitate more tragedies along the Mexican-U.S. border in terms of deaths and family separation.

More details to come... Keep your eye on www.nohr4437.org
and or write to granmarcha2006@hotmail.com

and any tax deductible donations should be made to:

La Hermandand
Mexicana, 7915 Van Nuys Blvd. Panorama City, CA 91402.

Please organize your areas, and join this monumental event that will put our mark on U.S. history.
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Subject:birthday
Time:08:47 pm
it started with a lunar eclipse at midnight. we went to the st. roch cemetery, heard the sound of a nearby freight train and the echoes of my bicycle chain as we looked for the perfect place to lay down on the concrete, between aboveground graves.

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Time:10:40 am
you don't do time. time does you.
leonard peltier
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Time:09:21 pm
i recommend reading this interview with my friend Shana if you want to know anything about what's going on in new orleans from a racial, feminist perspective:

http://neworleans.indymedia.org/news/2006/01/6740.php
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Time:10:01 pm
i use to have such a hard time standing up for myself. i used to be really quiet in meetings. even if i felt really strongly about something, i'd be afraid to speak up, and then i'd get frustrated when certain things didn't happen because i didn't say anything, or other people would say things that i had been thinking about for a long time. and i'd hate myself for it. recognizing that something was wrong, and knowing what was right, but not doing shit about it, and in the end, letting people or certain things get fucked over. maybe it's because when i knew that something wasn't right, i didn't have any solutions, and didn't think i could do anything about it. but i guess since i've been here, i've learned a lot about how to deal with certain situations, or certain organizing tactics or whatever, and how to call people out on their shit. even if the facts aren't very clear, it does so much just to say something anyway so that a potentially disastrous situation won't escalate.

and i've learned how to be a stronger person, i think. just today i happened to walk into a meeting in which a really serious matter was being discussed, and people were deciding whether or not to kick someone out of a certain organization. certain things were said that really concerned me, and in order to put things into perspective for them, i came out and said that i'd been sexually assaulted, and how and why i'm still having to deal with it months later. i had to talk about it, and i'm glad i did. i don't want it to happen to anyone else, especially if it can be prevented, and especially an organization that's doing relief work in new orleans, and the people who are part of the organization come down here from all over the place to help. i said a lot of stuff that forced people to understand what is most important here, and what they need to prioritize. for once i didn't feel intimidated talking about stuff like that publicly, and later, a guy from the meeting came up to me and said, "that was powerful, thank you for saying what needed to be said."

if you're going to try to lead your own revolution while ditching women (or any other oppressed group of people) along the way, then i'm no part of it. don't try to be a martyr. your martyrdom won't mean anything if you treat women like shit in order to get there. as emma goldman says, "if i can't dance to it, it's not my revolution."

and i've dealt with that so much here. so much that i'm exhausted, overwhelmed, and emotionally drained. there was one night when i was so overwhelmed that i started thinking "i'll just give up fighting and pretend that sexism doesn't exist, and then i won't have to deal with it anymore." but i can't do that. it would be against everything i believe in, and in the end i'd just end up getting hurt so much more. and i'd be dissing my sisters.

it really sickens me how blatant it is here. people say that there's a real revolution going on in new orleans. i've heard people compare this city to palestine, chiapas, to venezuela, to argentina and chechnya. activists here come from some really amazing organizing backgrounds. but the truth is, new orleans is something completely different, a new kind of struggle that's so unfamiliar and intense that there's a lot to get lost in. and then certain people (who aren't even from the local community, i might add) step up and try to lead everyone in one direction, a direction that they say is the revolution, although i can't honestly say i know where it's going. this city has so much potential for building revolutionaries, for going into an all-out war against racism and classism. the problem for me though, is that the people who have stepped up are leaving the women out of the struggle. there's no place for us. we've been dissed so much that sometimes i don't know how much i should even try anymore. there are men who say that they're going to 'lead the revolution' but are extremely sexist, and there are women who defend these men, saying 'oh but they're such good organizers.' and what i'm realizing now is that if i want to be part of this struggle, i'm first going to need to fight what's holding me back. because the struggle that i want to be a part of is being lead by my oppressors, and i've got to do something about that if i want to stay here.
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Subject:goin back down south
Time:12:45 pm
so we just finalized our plans, we're leaving on monday, and i'm fucking excited. it'll be me, ted, and genevieve in ted's little saturn. i don't know how to drive stickshift, and genevieve doesn't drive at all, so ted will be driving the whole way. it's a 24 hour drive (total travel time) and we're going to stop in Asheville, which is pretty much the halfway point. ah! i can't wait!

oh, and becky's going to be coming in the middle of january, which is really fucking cool. i haven't seen her in years, but we just started making contact, and i can't wait to see her. it's weird, the last time i saw her, our age gap was still significant enough that my sister knew her really well but i never really got to spend much time with her (although now, i'm almost 21 and becky's 24; most of my friends are older than that). among my cousins on my mom's side of the family, we were always kind of split up into two groups based on our age, with the older group being natalie, kyle, giulia, and becky. i was stuck with the younger group, and i kind of always resented that. i felt like i would have related much better to the older group. anyway, since the summer i've been in contact with natalie, and one of her emails to me was kind of like "wow, you're really cool, it's awesome to know that there are other radicals in our family..why didn't we hang out before?" so hopefully we'll see each other soon...which is why i'm dying to go to arizona for new year's to see natalie, but unfortunately i just don't have the funds. natalie pretty much lives part time in chicago, and part time in the arizona desert (geographically, i'm not exactly sure where). anyway, she's having this big extravaganza that starts on dec 27th, and people are staying as late as jan 5th. she has all these crazy events planned, and i'm pretty bummed out that i'll have to miss such an awesome time, but oh well.

i can't wait to get back to new orleans. i feel like i've been sitting around waiting this whole time. wait, that IS what i've been doing. it's been too long.
i'm looking at maps and trying to fix my camera and making CDs for the roadtrip so i can dwell in my excitement.
ahh
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Time:06:20 pm
Current Mood:contemplativecontemplative
so i haven't been writing much on here lately, although that doesn't mean i haven't been writing a lot in general. i was in new orleans for 4 weeks, i'm currently back in the philly area to be with my family for the holidays, and i'm going back down south the day after christmas. my mind has been all over the place, but in a good way. having a lot of intense experiences, and learning a lot. much more clear-headed now. i'm not going to describe my new orleans experiences on here because there's way too much to say, and i have a separate blog for just that. it's http://lizadepro.blogspot.com, for those of you who are interested to read it.

it's crazy, how much my life has changed from having such intense experiences, and it's crazy being back in philly. i don't like being home; my life is really in new orleans now. my friends there have been calling me, asking me why i even came back if i want to still be there so badly, and i guess i don't really know. basically, my dad called me while i was down there and invited me to speak at a peace corps event, and let people know what's going on in new orleans. i didn't want to leave, but he told me that he'd pay for me to get home if i did that. so i did, and it was lame. i knew that an audience of rich white liberals would disappoint me, and sure enough, they weren't very responsive. and some things i said seemed to make them uncomfortable, like when i started talking about the police repression and how they specifically target black people. and when it came time for questions, the only person who raised his hand was the other speaker, a guy who had been doing relief work in Mississippi. they're all a bunch of elitists, and my dad was acting that way too. he kept telling me that before i start talking about new orleans, i should point out the fact that i'm taking time off from school and will be going back. he wanted me to say that so that people would be like "well how did you have the time to go down there, don't you have school or a job?" and i hate that shit, so i just didn't even mention it.
where am i going with this? oh yeah, it's weird to be back. i just feel so stagnant here, especially knowing that there's so much going on in new orleans right now, and im just sitting around waiting to go back. and it's such a completely different world there, and so surreal, that when i came home, it was actually a culture shock for me. people keep asking me questions about what it's like down there. usually i start to answer, and shortly after i start talking i realize that i just don't want to try to describe it to someone who won't understand. because you really need to just go there in order to understand it. or i'll start talking about it, and just hearing myself talk takes me back there, and i feel disconnected and nostalgic. i keep finding myself trailing off as i'm answering someone's question, and just sitting there and thinking about it. sean called me today, and we had a really good talk. it felt good to talk to him, a good friend who's down there right now and understands what it's like to be back here and not want to talk to people about it. and it was good for him, because a lot of volunteers went home for the holidays and it's a little lonely there right now. he told me a lot about what's been going on since i left. a lot of really good developments, also some unfortunate things that we'll have to deal with. it's a good thing i came home though, i guess. i mean, i was only planning to go down for 2 weeks, but while i was there i decided that i wanted to stay down there for the long term. so i figured i should see my parents since i don't know the next time i'll be able to come back here. plus it's the holidays, so my sister is home. anyway, time to go make some tea (i can't seem to get used to the cold weather up here).
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[icon] Liza
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