how i plan to resist during my self care downtime

I am an introvert with social anxiety, and as I ranted about on Twitter the other day, even receiving phone calls makes me shake. But frankly, it’s a time when even those of us with mental illness have to buck up and feel like crap in service of the greater good. So I have to start calling. I need to go to the next rally or march or community meeting. I hate those things, but nobody in the United States deserves to feel comfortable right now.

But we do absolutely need self care, and in most cases, we also have to make rent, eat, and do homework. I have three jobs, volunteer work, freelance work, and school, not to mention I like seeing my family and friends at least occasionally. But I’m going to try and shift at least some of my self care practices so that they involve intellectual tools that will serve me when I perform more active resistance at other times.

I minored in Spanish in college and am theoretically “fluent,” but I never use it and, given the aforementioned social anxiety, I feel really uncomfortable speaking it most of the time, and I’ve let a lot of it atrophy. A few months ago I started using Duolingo to get more Portuguese in my head (have heard it my whole life and took one semester in college, Portuguese for Spanish Speakers) for planned work later on in my PhD and for personal enjoyment. At the moment I’m only doing about five minutes a day, and that works for my schedule and the fact that it’s not a brand new language for me, though I may also start listening to Pimsleur while exercising. And now I’m adding Spanish to the mix and working on that again as well. I also subscribed to the podcast Slow News in Spanish (it’s also available in other languages), which means that once a week while I walk the mile from where I park to campus (walking=physical self care!), I’ll be keeping abreast of current events while practicing my language skills.

Knowing a second language (or three or four) not only staves off Alzheimer’s and stuff, but it also helps combat the fake news epidemic when you can read/listen from more sources, and knowing Spanish, Arabic, or Mandarin particularly in these times can make you a better citizen, whether it’s simply helping a refugee feel more welcome or assisting in providing materials in other languages or whatever else. Bonus self care moment: listening to music in other languages may not make you competent in having a fluent conversation, but it’s a great way to get sounds of other languages in your head, as well as learn a few idioms and colloquialisms. Ditto television and movies. Continue reading


a borrowed identity

Every January, Tucson hosts an International Jewish Film Festival, and I haven’t been for years because I haven’t lived here and I was never visiting in mid-January because of school schedules. So it’s been nice to be home this year. I’ve seen two films thus far and will hopefully catch another one or two. The first was called Mr. Kaplan and is pretty strange in its approach to humor, but it was cool to revisit Jewish Uruguay, since I spent a summer there doing a Hillel study abroad program.

The one I saw yesterday was called A Borrowed Identity, and it was great. It’s apparently based on a novel called Dancing Arabs, which I’ll now have to try and track down at the library. Per IMDb:

A Palestinian-Israeli boy named Eyad is sent to a prestigious boarding school in Jerusalem, where he struggles with issues of language, culture, and identity.

[That poster is stupid, because the main character is the boy in the middle, not the girl. She’s cool and all, but she’s just the girlfriend. (That’s very antifeminist of me, but really, she’s not a focalizer at all, just a character interacting with the protagonist.) And if it’s not clear, this boarding school, being prestigious and in Jerusalem and all, is a place where non-Jews are not super welcome]

You never have to say much beyond “boarding school” to get me to want to read or watch something. And add in a fish-out-of-water story with actual substance instead of some sort faux outcast (y’know, the girl who thinks she’s so humble and boring and quirky because she listens to the Smiths and needs a boy to tell her how pretty she is) setup, throw in a pointed microaggressions, and force me to perk my ears up by listening to multiple foreign languages, and you’ve got me.

You may know I wrote an article about Israel recently that spurred some….reactions. (Generally speaking, people who found out about the article via Facebook pegged me a narcissistic bitch, and people on Twitter were supportive.) So it was pretty fitting that a week after it printed, I would go see a movie that might confirm my biases against what I felt was a lot of hypocrisy on the part of Jewish Israelis or that might just make me see a kindred, bicultural spirit, or that would do something else entirely. Continue reading

tiny activist

I like including the word “activist” in my Twitter/Disqus/general Internet tagline/profile/thing, but then I started thinking it wasn’t quite fair. Am I really an activist if I often don’t have the time or energy to make it to events? Am I really an activist just because I sign petitions on, tweet and retweet important social justice and political messages, and try to stay abreast of news as much as I can? Am I an activist if I personally support causes but don’t do much about them outside of my apartment? I don’t know.

I come from a family with a tradition of standing up, of going to protests and rallies, and writing letters to the editor that actually get published. My uncle wrote a book on political scapegoating. My grandfather grew up in the first cooperative housing in the Bronx. My grandmother has an amazing political button collection for the Spanish Civil War, the labor movement, and more. My parents did not buy grapes when that meant you weren’t supporting underpaid laborers, and we don’t buy Welch’s juice because he was an anti-Semite. We do our things, little and small, to do right by the workers of the world, the underserved and underheard, and society as a whole. Continue reading