Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Orange sunset landscape by Cassie K

I painted this quickly and wanted to call it finished, but I still have a lingering feeling that it's missing something and I need to add it. What is it the painting needs?

Women of Walking Dead pencil drawings -Cassie K

Of course this is not all the women of Walking Dead; but these are my favorite characters. If you saw the Michonne (Walking Dead) portrait I did a week ago, I wanted to show you additional portraits I drew of some of the women characters of Walking Dead. Below are portraits of the characters "Sasha" and "Rosita." I may draw these on the larger 18x24 paper like Michonne.

Spring in bloom painting by Cassie Kinney

This is a painting I've been working since yesterday. I'm tired of looking at it, so I have called it finished despite the many flaws that remain. The painting is based on a photo from the early 90's of my brother and I among flowering fruit trees and tulips blooming on an Easter day where we were hunting plastic eggs.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Pol Ledent Belgium artist landscape oil paintings

Check out Pol Ledent on Facebook and Deviant art, his work is fantastic. He paints many landscapes, flowers, and abstract non objective works that I find whimsical.

pol ledent deviantart
abstract pol ledent

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Wheel art decor garden ideas

I have a piece of metal that looks like the one in the photo below; and I've been wondering what kind of artistic use I could put it to. Below are a few additional photos of ways to re-purpose wheels and similar objects as decor in the garden.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Pencil sketch portrait of Punk cowgirl by Cassie K

Comparison photo

Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) of Girl with the dragon tattoo by CK

I don't quite like this drawing and I'm struggling to figure out what I did wrong with this drawing. I think her lips were drawn too small and her face too wide or long. I have drawn this character before, even in a little sketch I done a better job at portraying her mystery.

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, "Lisbeth Salander", Noomi Rapace

Saturday, March 4, 2017

For centuries the world has been misled about the original source of the Arts and Sciences; for centuries Socrates, Plato and Aristotle have been falsely idolized as models of intellectual greatness; and for centuries the African continent has been called the Dark Continent, because Europe coveted the honor of transmitting to the world, the Arts and Sciences. It is indeed surprising how, for centuries, the Greeks have been praised by the Western World for intellectual accomplishments which belong without a doubt to the Egyptians or the peoples of North Africa.

More ways that history is white washed from George G.M. James' book Stolen Legacy: "For centuries the world has been misled about the original source of the Arts and Sciences; for centuries Socrates, Plato and Aristotle have been falsely idolized as models of intellectual greatness; and for centuries the African continent has been called the Dark Continent, because Europe coveted the honor of transmitting to the world, the Arts and Sciences. It is indeed surprising how, for centuries, the Greeks have been praised by the Western World for intellectual accomplishments which belong without a doubt to the Egyptians or the peoples of North Africa."

A conversation about suicide part II: who commits suicide?

There are approximately one million suicides every year, equating to a suicide every 40 seconds. In the US, that is one every 13 minutes. If you read my piece on Kurt Cobain and suicide, you may have gained some insight into my mind growing up with depression. So, I wanted to add a little more to this discussion because I had some additional thoughts about myself and our culture. My mind as a teen was captivated by stories of tragic artists like Cobain. When I think about it now, young White artists killed themselves (accidental or not), while young Black artists like Tupac are murdered. This may be misguided of me because perhaps there are many Black artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jimi Hendrix who die too young at their own hands.

I will note that White males account for 72% of all suicides, and 90% of suicide related deaths account for both White females and males. And even though males commit suicide at a higher rate than females, females attempt suicide at a higher rate than men. According to Chang, in the United States it is greatest in White men older than 80 years in the United States have the greatest number of suicides although younger people more frequently attempt suicide. Although when you factor in occupation, those with the highest rates of suicide are physicians where male and female physicians commit suicide at the same rate. Interestingly, the highest rates of females committing suicide is in South Korea according to Värnik. China is also one country where women have a higher rate of suicide than men. Strikingly from 1980 and 1995, the rates of suicide  increased by 120% among white youth and 223% among black youth between the ages of 10-14. Between the ages of 15-19, suicide increased by 126% for Black youth and 19% for White youth.

This is us. This is our culture. And when I refer to this phenomena as "culture" or 'cultural', I mean to make the distinction that the most (three quarters) suicides that occur worldwide are those in the developing world. Alaska and Montana in the US has the highest rates of suicide, with my state of Kentucky not too far behind. Alaska has high rates where Alaskan men make up a higher portion of the suicides of other races of men in the US. I imagine there is a trend here where the poorest of populations are the most affected by social and environmental factors that would lead to their suicide.

Actually I have to admit, I continue to remain captivated by the many stories of artists, actors, actresses, singers, and the like that died at my age of 27 called 'the 27 club.' I do not mean to romanticize these instances, and I find that the media often sensationalizes the stories as it is. And I worry that the romanticism of suicide and depression influenced me growing up. When I recollect back to the narratives of those lost souls, the hopelessly hopeless, I think: this is me too. I remember reading about Elliot Smith's suicide, and asking myself the question that many of us have asked: will I have a breaking point? I can't tell you of a particular song, band, movie, story, or image, but in my past when I watched people living aimlessly, I was drawn to those images. The drugs, the drinking, smoking, dancing like no one is watching, and living manic and reckless looked like people were just having fun to me. The kind of I imagined myself smoking and drinking, writing and painting, and going mad in my own house. I could only imagine myself as those young artists that lived in style, carving out their own space,  rejecting the mainstream, rebelling against the system. But what I got out of that, was more of the same feelings of sad and loneliness that I also saw in the artists I admired, or the characters I saw in movies. I predicted for myself that I was like these characters that go mad to the point of ending their lives. I, too, felt that. I, too, noticed these same characters of this world, were those who had a breakdown or meltdown, and I felt that too.

I cannot complain about my childhood, I suppose. However, there are parts of me that have drove my mind to torture myself. I, too, had moments in my life as an artist when I was drinking in the woods, or smoking dope in an abandoned car, or going to class at 8 in the morning after doing shrooms all night; and I felt like a piece of shit nobody that will never get anywhere in life. I remember once I ran to the woods and climbed to the top of the hill and asked myself: how would I do it? how could I do it? There's no cliff or edge to fall off of, there's no gun to end it all, there's no sleeping pills, there's no heroin to OD on. My mind still tortures me. I felt the privilege of the world that which my culture gave to me, and because I found it all to be distasteful, I refused to participate in the system.

An artist refuses and rejects this routine sort of life like an office space, which is why I wondered if artists that struggled were more likely to be driven to suicide. Probably not, considering there are all types of people that take their own lives because of mental illness, substance abuse, financial crisis, homelessness, aging veterans with PTSD, etc. As I have said, physicians have one of the highest rates of suicide among other professions, but according to Business Insider, artists, sculptors and painters are 2.12 times more likely to commit suicide than average. This does not include photographers who are 2.50 times more likely to commit suicide than average; nor does this include authors who I also consider artists. Authors are 2.60 times more likely to commit suicide than average. Dancers and actors/actresses have higher rates of suicide than authors and other artists; but that doesn't compare to musicians who are 3.60 times more likely to commit suicide than average. The truth of the matter is that the research still concludes that rich people and rich countries are happier which facilitates the assumption that happiness does not lead to suicide. Mattimore of ChinaDaily says however the correlation between income and happiness gets weaker in wealthier countries. Fairchild of Huffington post states "Although people making less than $10,000 are 50 percent more likely to commit suicide than those with incomes above $60,000, the San Francisco Federal Reserve paper shows that comparing yourself to those around you might have a larger impact on happiness than personal net worth" which supports one study that found for  “higher earnings of neighbors were associated with lower level of self-reported happiness.”

With this in mind, the idea that a starving artist may be more likely to commit suicide versus a wealthy artist may become tricky to explain. One thing is for sure though, you can be a rich or poor artist, but it is a dangerous gamble to be an artist that also abuses drugs and alcohol when they're depressed. And yet, the artists I watched dabble in drugs and alcohol to cope with the daily torment of the mind, I still find them much more intriguing because they were elusive in some way. Growing up, Vincent van Gogh was my favorite artist, and later when I found out that he was just another struggling artist that ended it for himself, I felt that too. Someone wrote that he was "the quintessential misunderstood genius, the artist 'where discourses on madness and creativity converge.'" I have reflected on this many times in my life where if I ever did receive recognition, it would be if I am dead and gone. These are the common thoughts I had growing up where my idols were artists that killed themselves because they didn't fit into this ugly world. I am absolutely not comparing myself to van Gogh or any other artist because I am simply nothing like them, and I have never had a real moment in my life to be considered a tortured artist.

As I said in part I of this essay, I have heard of men that do despicable acts of violence will kill themselves before ever taking fault or before ever going to prison so they are not punished. But I am not focused on these people and I am only to focus on the youth that is troubled by struggle; and perhaps conversations like this can prevent suicide. Although I have spent much time asking why it matters so much to prevent death when it inevitably happens anyway; I still go back to my own way to coping by asking how my life can be impactful rather than my death. A couple months back when 45 was elected as the US president, someone told me that her daughter's friends that were in a same-sex relationship killed themselves the night after in fear that progress for LGBTQ people will be reversed and that there will be more backlash for LGBTQ youth. From here I consider those youth that take their life because they're bullied. Or the gay youth that fear disapproval from their family, friends, community. According to many researchers, LGBTQ youth have the highest rates of suicide attempts in comparison to the general population, especially in areas where homophobia and social stigma is blatant. Besides bullying as the contributing factor for suicide or suicide attempts among LGBTQ youth, there is also high rates of substance abuse associated with this. It is not so much being LGBTQ that puts a person at risk of suicide, but the associated factors like anxiety, social stigma, verbal/physical abuse from bullying, substance abuse, elevate the risk of suicide. This induces minority stress, which is especially true for persons of color in the LGBTQ community. LGBTQ youth that are homeless after coming out are greatly at risk of suicide as well.

Once again, I am at a loss for final words on this discussion of a dark topic. I have reflected on suicide at the intersection of art, substance abuse, and LGBTQ youth. I suppose I focused on these intersections because I too have felt this waning gloom over me as an artist who abused drugs and alcohol, that had thoughts of suicide, and for someone that identifies as a queer woman. I wanted to convey my own experiences because I can personally dive into my past thoughts and emotions to relate to others. I believe in several of my previous posts, in addition to part I on this discussion of suicide, I have mentioned that the forms of art I create have helped me cope with this life-long strain of depression. Just because you're an artist doesn't mean you're tortured; even though our society tells us the more tortured the artist, the better the art; and I have heard several times from people that musicians only write and perform good music when they were sad and penniless.

Although, some of my greatest thoughts, writings and paintings come from a place of bliss and happiness. So I realize as someone that is an artist and someone that has depression, there is a usefulness of turning depression into art. I turn my pain into art, and I write out my pain. And this is the best advice I can give because I am at a time and place in my life where I am still at the young age of 27, and I don't have answers to how and why we should prevent suicide. When we have a culture that romanticizes (or at least normalizes) suicide and depression while simultaneously fetishizing fame and fortune mixed with drugs and alcohol, what are we asking out of the youth of today? And, who are going to be the role models of this generation that will be an uplifting voice in the darkness? What spaces can be created for those looking for understanding, safety, and security? What can you or I do today to make just one other person, or yourself, feel that life would be uninteresting without them?

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Truth Behind Transgender Bathrooms by Kat Blaque

Kat Blaque makes very good points on the Transgender bathroom debate, and I have highlighted her points below which I have paraphrased from a long video which I will leave a link to her video down below for everyone to watch in full:

1. I don't see genitals in bathrooms because I'm not looking, and I'm only there to relieve myself, and that's how everyone should act in a bathroom.

2. Trans people will always exist, and the real debate around bathrooms is that people don't want trans people to exist.

3. The trans bathroom debate also suggests that trans people will harm women and girls in bathrooms, but the reality is that cis-gender men that are our fathers, husbands, boyfriends, are more likely to abuse women and girls, but we don't have a debate about separating these people in our lives away from women and girls. And actually trans people (trans women especially) are more likely to be assaulted in bathrooms.
The reality is that these people who are debating against bathroom rights are the same people that have never cared about women and children and sexual assault except in this debate to pretend their argument is a moral issue. 
And also if a man wanted to sexually assault someone, why would they feel the need to cross dress and pretend to be a woman to get in a women's restroom to do so? And second of all if this was the case, this is not a trans person, this is a cis-gender male committing this crime.
Additionally, if there were transgender bathroom rights, why would that keep people from being punished if they committed that act?

4. No one will make alternative bathrooms around the world--it's not real. People will always use the bathroom that is closest to them, the bathroom that they feel comfortable using, etc. There will be social change that may work towards gender neutral bathrooms.

5. Why are you getting your information about trans people from cis-gender people?

6. It also seems that our society wants trans people to "pass" as the gender they identify, and that's oppressive.

7. Trans people have developed and evolved in so many ways beyond the understanding for a cis person that it's almost not worth explaining trans issues and trans rights. "I have this conversation for so long...your understanding my transness doesn't change my transness."

8. Everybody shits, and everybody pisses, so bathrooms are a necessity for everybody--and the people that hate trans people are those that don't want to share any space. And those people tend to be the Conservative republicans.
And even those people that I dislike (the same people that do things that are destructive) also deserve the right to a bathroom despite my dislike for them.

9. This is an economic, social, and cultural attack on trans people that sends the message that they don't deserve space.

Watch in full here: The Truth Behind Transgender Bathrooms

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Trash Recycled Art Sculptures (+ NEW BLOG TITLE: ART LANDFILL)

I think it very fitting that  I post photos of artwork made from recycled (trash) materials considering I recently changed this blog to Art Landfill. This blog was titled various things such as Edgar Allan Poet, Land of Art, and ART PARTE', and those titles never resonated with me which is why I often changed the blog title. But here I wanted to provide some ideas of the artworks below in the photos to do functional pieces that can utilize recycled materials around you.

First, here are hanging plastic bottles made into delicate ornaments that accent the sky.

This is sweet, but I wonder if the fascination here is because sculptors want a sex robot.
This sculpture has many intricate pieces and the color of materials is a great match work of different elements.

This wall art design was used with toilet paper rolls, so be sure to save about 200 rolls.

Industrial and cold but full of life in this sculpture.
Hey, I'm partial to fake plants too. This was made out of green plastic bottles.

Made with bicycle parts

Recycled wine corks for a functional recycled chair that is a beautiful piece of art.

A beautiful metal sculpture that accents any yard or garden.

Make your own sculptures out of the recycled trash materials around you. Use materials to create a functional work of art that creates a sense of wonder, creativity, and innovation.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Give the people back their land by Cassie Kinney

Not many people know of United States' terrible history of buying up land and exploiting it, nor do people know the extent to which this affects the present state of affairs. One thing that impacted the most was Land lotteries which prompted Indian removal. Land lotteries was simply giving away land to white immigrants like in Georgia. Another impact was creating systemic racism in the form of African/African American slavery. Even after slavery, Black families were not allowed to get loans to make small payments on property, Blacks were segregated, and now there is a phenomenon now that keeps Blacks segregated called Redlining. There are many systematic factors that contributed and still contribute historically to the racist policies, laws, customs, mores, etc which keeps people of color from owning land in the United States. Another example of this environmental racism includes deforestation in Central Africa (Congo) and South America, and pollution/contamination (e.g. Flint water crisis) affecting poor people especially people of color, and the global division of labor. People around the globe still face violence, war, poverty, exploitation of land, which is why many people are displaced in this world that want to live in their own home and land in peace. According to Rosenberg (2016) "There are an estimated 11-12 million refugees in the world today. This is a dramatic increase since the mid-1970s when there were less than 3 million refugees worldwide. However, it is a decrease since the 1992 when the refugee population was nearly 18 million, high due to the Balkan conflicts." The people of Sri Lanka, the people of Syria, the people of Myanmar, the people of Standing Rock, the people of Niger, etc just want their homes back. Roseberg also states that "Some consider the hundreds of thousands of evacuees from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 as Internally Displaced Persons."

Our history has created systematic disadvantages for poor urban and rural people which is why even today there exists a segregation of the worst schools, worst neighborhoods, and worst environmental/housing conditions. Those in rural areas were greatly disenfranchised during the Industrial age in Appalachia because of coal mining and timber companies. For example the expansion of surface mining leveled thousands of acres of mountaintops because the coal industry benefited from mountaintop removal (Eller, 2008.) Additionally, corporate chains like Wal Mart affect small local businesses in those rural areas of Appalachia, especially when the profits do not trickle down into the community because they go out of the region. The Appalachian Land Ownership Task Force found that large corporations and land companies controlled up to 90 and 100% of the surface land and the mineral resources in 80 Appalachian counties (Eller, 2008.) This was a significant study during this time and it's shocking information. Other data the study found was that 8 million acres—more than 40% of land surveyed—was owned and operated only by 50 private owners and the federal government (Eller, 2008.) 

Another example of this is that for 14 West Virginia counties, 25 companies owned 44% of the surface land, yet only assessed for 20% of the area’s taxes (Eller, 2008.) This means that taxes from these large corporations are not going to the community while the poor community pay higher taxes or more taxes to support it's own community. Likewise, these systems of racism has led to the extreme wealth of a select few white families. Today, the median wealth of white families is 20 times greater than the median wealth of black families (and 18 times greater than Latinx families). 

Subsequently, some of the programs put in place to aid those disadvantaged did nothing to help disadvantaged people of color. In fact, FDR was able to pass the New Deal including Social security and other beneficial programs, as long as they excluded domestic service workers and agricultural workers (which meant predominantly people of color.) This gave preferential treatment to whites. Secondly, the dream of home ownership granted mortgage loans to Americans, where 98% of all recipients were white. Third, GI bill was passed to give low cost mortgage, living expenses paid, and paid tuition for veterans, which exclusively benefited whites, and excluded black veterans. 
Additionally, The 62 of the richest billionaires own half of the world’s poorest populations. Those that have accumulated all the world's resources simultaneously destroy natural resources at an alarming rate. Those richest people are the ones that destroy the land (trees, soil, crops, air, water, animals/aquatic life), those people buy all the land, and try to keep people from being truly free. We do NOT live in a free and equal opportunity country, and it is essential that we (the 99%) take back stolen land, take back our stolen creativity and individuality. In an effort to save, protect, and preserve nature and all its species, we cannot continue to deforest the planet, pollute, and kill off ecosystems.

Moreover, the middle class own more land, but it's usually for farming, growing soybeans or corn for livestock to eat, or for hunting grounds (more family owned operations). I'm not sure how anyone figures they own the oceans, but they also wreak havoc on that too, and capture to exploit and kill aquatic life. Those who own the majority of land on this planet are the rich who exploit it for drilling and fracking, mining, infrastructure, etc. In fact the families who own most of the world's resources are the reason the number of trees has fallen by 46% since the start of human civilization. There are over 20,000 different kinds of trees in the world. Actually, 3 trillion trees are left on the Earth. Somehow these same people who don't own land will go to different countries in Africa or South America to mine for gold. And they too are part of the destruction of land, trees, wildlife, and the last remaining tribes.

As mentioned, all of these examples are the many ways land and resources are taken away from the poor and persons of color, and consequently, this land is often used for big business, corporations, coal mining, logging, or fast food chains. What's truly depressing is that absentee owners of land have taken thousands of acres while rich families keep land in the family for to be passed down through generations. I'm not sure redistributing land (redistributing wealth) is feasible, but it sounds effective. And in fact when I think about the few people that own half of the world, this wealth disparity is unfair, and simply unjust. This cannot be normal, this cannot be how the system works. There is much land to be "bought" but there is much land already owned on a large scale.

Simply, if all people were given land to build their own houses and grow their own food, there would be less corporations, less logging, mining, fracking, pollution, etc. If all people had an acre, no one would want to cut down all the trees on their property for a quick buck. People would perhaps use their land to make a home business and then this would create a local economy where everyone had a service to offer. This isn't about poor people paying taxes, because in fact the tax system is not fair for the poor to begin with. Poor people shouldn't pay taxes, only the rich! Poor people pay the same tax rate as the rich, if not more taxes. And something most people don't realize is that half of the US budget goes to funding the military. So, clearly the tax system is not fair for the poor, but it should be used to regulate the rich because they are clearly exploiting people, resources, polluting land, and those are the people that came from money that was passed down to them through the generations of a system that favored the imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.
I am one of the many people who do not own land. Even if I bought land, I still do not "own" any of the trees, the sky, the birds, the deer, the soil, rocks, and rivers. People often talk in terms of ownership like "my girlfriend", "my daughter," "our Earth", "our galaxy", "my America." I find this to be problematic because this suggests that we have a culture that cannot look outside of capitalism, imperialism, and colonization. I fear that if the culture continues to use rhetoric that reflects ownership and possession, then it will be one where the disparities, inequality, destruction will be even greater as civilization ages within this world. But, if those of us don't collectively buy up land to take away from capitalists, then what will be left for those of us that want to protect it? True equality is the providing access to healthy living conditions, healthy food and land to grow food, and education for everyone. 


Eller, Ronald. D. (2008). Uneven Ground: Appalachia Since 1945. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press. 
Rosenberg, Matt. (2016). Refugees: The Global Refugee and Internally Displaced Persons Situation. ThoughtCo.

Monday, February 20, 2017

#KurtCobain A Conversation about Depression & Suicide by Cassie K

Yesterday was my birthday, and earlier I wrote a bit about this short life I've had and moments in my life I remember. In that writing I said when I was 15 years old and listening to Nirvana, "I thought killing yourself like Kurt Cobain was cool." I did not mention that I also thought Cobain's drug use was cool. But first, I will say that suicide isn't cool or trendy. And I don't know if Kurt Cobain actually killed himself, because there is contrary evidence, which I have interpreted from a recent documentary, and I'm still not sure. When I saw that Kurt Cobain was trending now because it was his birthday, I recollected that I had once known his birthday was a day after mine, and also I realized that I turned the same age Cobain killed himself. I was reminded that I too have had an increasing feeling of depression from the time I was 15, and at one time I was afraid that my suicidal thoughts were influenced by Kurt Cobain and other musicians that ended up killing them self.

I realized that there have been so many times in my life that have led me to want to die. Actually once in my life I got into a car accident and later thought to myself: "I wish I had died that day." That is the destructive workings of depression. During times when my depression was at its worst, I just wanted to die. Those thoughts and feelings come and go. Although I couldn't imagine a life an additional 27 years, I couldn't imagine ending life when it is connected to so many people that I care for.
Suicidal thoughts don't necessarily have to come from long term depression, or from trauma, addiction, because some end their life in certain sudden shocking events. Some people that know they're going to prison will kill them selves if their crime was particularly incriminating. Some people will do so like those suicides from Ashley Madison hack list that revealed people that were paying to have affairs. But here, I am specifically speaking on a few thoughts and feelings I have about depression and suicide on this topic. 

For one I think: "is everybody depressed?" "Does depression affect the masses?" or "is depression so widespread that it's normal or natural?" or "is depression made up?" or "is depression a privileged attitude against actual pain and struggle thrusted on others?" I don't have the answers to those questions, however, I know from speaking with many people with depression, they feel conflicted by having pain that hinders them while other people are trying to flee war torn countries, or citizens that don't have access to shelter or clean drinking water. And, I ask: "do these people call their pain 'depression'?" I have no clue, and I would assume those same people do not think about 'depression' and instead see their situation as 'oppression.'
The opposite of depression seems to be happiness, so I turn to the question if I had it "all" if this would make me feel complete or happy, or at least the opposite of depression. I wonder if I had all the things that I consider would make me a complete person if I would still be depressed. In fact when I hear that celebrities with fame, fortune, friends, and adventure that have depression or commit suicide, I think to myself: "oh this will never be the end of it for me." I go further and ask: maybe life isn't about being happy, and life doesn't require me to be happy to live it. This is my own inner conflict.

Another thing I've realized by speaking with people with depression is that they've tried it "all" to help cure themselves from depression. If you've read any of my writings on this blog, you can probably sense the depression. And, I'm one of these people that have tried it 'all' except prescription drugs (or any pills) and I have never had therapy. I have used hallucinogenic/psychedelic drugs (which have been said to help cure depression and suicidal thoughts and PTSD); but that doesn't help. I tried exercising and doing yoga with the addition of meditation, and that didn't work either. Of course I went Vegan in 2005 when my depression "started", but when I was feeling very depressed years ago, I tried eating more Raw specifically a fruitarian-based diet, with the hope that this would elevate my mood but that didn't help as expected. Some people thought the documentary and book "The Secret" was the answer to overcoming your struggles and barriers in your life. 

What I've noticed that helps the most is Sunshine, Nature, and a warm Summer day. Nothing really compares to a lovely Summer day to make me feel whole, complete, or happy. However I found myself last Summer in the throws of depression harder than ever. It's silly, and hard to admit, but last Summer as I was sitting in my garden with all the plants I grew around me, and the sun beaming down on me--I should have felt bliss but instead I was sobbing for weeks. There is one big realization I made which really pressed me into a the point I wanted to die. With this realization, I told the people that were closest to me, so I feel relieved at the moment.
There was a specific reason for the sobbing as mentioned, and I speculate if this 'thing' is part of my depression. But I still say that my depression and others' stems from many personal experiences, attitudes, lifestyle, illness, events, and much more.

One thing that was a tremendous help for me was that I started writing about my narrative and how that creates my sense of identity. So as I was writing out my history, I realized many things about myself that I had forgotten. One of those things I realized that I had been sexually assaulted in times of my life, and realized I had anxieties about these things which affect my personal life.

Of course there are things I write but don't post, and there are things that I think but don't write; but I write at least to write out my casting it out to the abyss or whatever. Remember that you really don't know a person even when you're the closest person to them. Furthermore, you don't  really know how a person is feeling when someone appears well put-together, professional, happy, confident, or successful, because they are human that can still be suffering from pain like anyone else. Remember that you don't have all the answers to those around you who suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts. Remember that this is a sensitive subject, and that you cannot invalidate peoples' pain.

On "President's Day" I'm remembering the Presidents that owned slaves, and reading a book called the Cherokee Removal about Indian removal where a White President, similar to the current, takes away natural rights, humanity, land, and lives.

Land Lotteries

Of The Cherokee Removal: A Brief History with Documents by Theda Purdue and Michael D. Green: "Confronted with Cherokee refusal to negotiate removal, Georgia began awarding Cherokee land to its citizens in an attempt to force the Cherokees out. Thousands of white settlers, who believed that they had legitimate title to land, moved into the Cherokee Nation.
"Georgia had a well-established method for distributing public lands which, the state insisted, included Cherokee territory. Male residents of the state as well as widows and orphans registered for land lotteries, and certain categories of people, such as veterans, could register twice. Surveyors partitioned the land into plots and prepared plats, or maps, for each of these plots. Lottery officials pulled a name out of one hopper and a plat out of another, thereby matching winner and prize. The winner paid only a small filing fee for his or her acreage. Unlike the later federal homestead law that required people to settle the land they claimed, Georgia's lotteries placed no restrictions on the winners...As a result, lottery winners or those who bought land from winners swarmed into the Cherokee Nation." (pg. 92-93.)

Immigrants didn't build this country, slaves did.

Happy 27th birthday to me & Benicio Del Toro (February 19th 2017)

Yesterday was my birthday, and it was also Benicio Del Toro's birthday (in case you didn't know). Today I am writing about the life events of my 27 years. I call these "segments of my life" because my life changes a bit every five years into a new interests or perspectives, which is why I am writing on every five years. The first five years I was energetic and playful and had many friends. I was shy during this time but I was still a dramatic diva child. My memories here are foggy, but I remember once on a birthday that I had wished to be a dog. Little did I understand at the time that I was saying to my family: I would rather be anything else but myself. During these years, once I jumped through a glass window of a door that was laying outside in the yard. I was dumb and I have a permanent scar on my foot from this. I climbed a lot of trees, tore money, made and ate mud pies.

From 5 to 10 years old I was conscious of myself and others. This was the time I realized I wasn't as smart as my friends or other classmates, I realized my house didn't look like my friends and I had more siblings. During these years I went to church and I prayed a lot for something better for me. I prayed for money, fortune, or something. Between 10 and 15, I hunted with my dad during this time and listened to garage, grunge, metal, hard rock music because that's what my dad listened to. I became more self aware and self conscious of my family, house, smarts, so I put on a facade like a chameleon around different groups of people. Boys really liked me and noticed me during these years. I got gifts from boys, and I was asked to go on dates, but realized these kids of teachers and superintendents were middle class kids that wouldn't understand where I come from. I done good in school during these years though because I pretended to be smart, which somehow helped.

At the age of 15 to 20, a lot happened that I remember in my life. I started doing veganism at 15 after I had eaten shrimp for the first time. This moment happened on the first Sunday in April. I started having sex then I moved in with my partner who I am still with. I started sneaking cigarettes from my grandmother and my mother. I was voted Most Changed Since Freshmen Year in my senior year of high school. I quit believing in god(s); my parents got divorced; and I thought killing yourself like Kurt Cobain was cool. I went to prom once at 16 and at 18; and I had jobs painting murals and portraits and then got a secretary job; I voted for the first time which led to the nomination of the first Black President of the US. I went to college and got drunk and high for the first times of my life; I tripped on shrooms several times; I developed a smoking habit and quit all within five years. Although these were the funnest years of my life because I was making friends and partying and learning new ideas and reading new books in school, I was also very sad and confused. It was during this time that I was hyper aware of my future, sexuality, relationships, death, love, fear, and pain.

The years of 20 to 25 I was putting my life into context with the world at large and where my place is in society. I became more socially and environmentally conscious during this time. I was watching documentaries more than ever, and read a lot of books and articles, and writing a lot during this time for school, so these became hobbies of mine. Very quickly I dropped out of college to start growing food and work as a farmer building an orchard for myself and my partner. This was also influenced by me eating more fresh, raw fruits and vegetables and greens. I became a homemaker, gardener, carpenter, and landscaper all in one. Between 20 to 25, I hated being around people, so naturally felt very alone in the world. I felt suicidal as well, and a couple of times I had break downs to the point that I couldn't imagine the next day. During these years I wanted to run away many times, and did jump from house to house one year and lived in a tent, and wanted to spend a year traveling across America (which I attempted for one day and decided against it.)

Later I started to question my sexuality as I had been. Which brings us into the ages of 25 to 30. At 25 to the age of 27 I am today, I realize many things about myself that were influenced and related to my past. For one, I realized I was always around nature in my upbringing that could influence the way I feel protective of nature now while at the same time I was seeing nature destroyed. Two, I realized I became vegan because I grew up hunting animals with dad. Three, I realized I became atheist because I grew up in church reading the bible. Four, I realized I was an anarchist because I grew up being told to respect the American flag, police and military. Five, I realized I was gay because I grew up hearing that I should marry a man when I'm older. Six, I realized I was a Feminist because I grew being told to look pretty for men and let men touch you and grab you so they will pay attention to you, and I "let it happen." When I realized all of these things was when I started writing. I went back to college and got my Bachelor's degree in Sociology and minor in Social Work. I painted a mural for a center in town, and I interned at a nursing home. I write a lot and read daily now, trying to read one book a week at least.

In these years of my life I have always asked myself what I wanted to do, and I feel that this is because family and society are constantly asking you what your next move is in life. What are you going to do now? What are you going to do five years from now? There is a constant stream of these questions about the future that for one can't be answered, two, your mind will change. I have accomplished my goal of building an orchard. In fact, this is slowly happening and I am working on big beautiful gardens. I feel good about that, and I have been taking the initiative to write and blog about this experience as a small scale gardener. But I do beat myself over this question: What is my next move? And I can't say that I have ever wanted to answer that question. I have wanted to be many things in the segments of my life. I wanted to be a star like a singer, a model, an actress, then later a doctor, a guidance counselor (that's a laugh), a social worker, and at this moment I am comfortable with being a gardener. I also want to be a writer, but what I really mean by that is a critically acclaimed author rather than just a writer because I already write. What will 30 look like for me when the next three years pass by? What will another 27 years look like?
Well, yesterday I didn't think about any of those things. Yesterday I went into the city, bought two large vegan pizzas and shared them with my partner and my sister, and that was good enough for me.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

Abortion facts and misconceptions/myths (& F**k You Matt Bevins of Kentucky!)

The governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevins, just passed a bill in my home state that says that it is a requirement to show women the ultrasound of the fetus before the abortion. For one, that is a waste of money using an ultrasound, but it is also unethical. Another terrible policy passed was to ban abortions after 20 weeks. Here, I will discuss the ways politicians and people use their misconceptions to argue against a person's right to make decisions about their own body. Below is a list of myths about abortions that need everyone needs to know.

There is a misconception that abortion is a sad and disheartening moment for a woman. Of course that may be true for some, but generally abortion is for those who are in desperate need and are thankful to have the procedure done when it's over. There is an assumption that people will regret an abortion, and recently with the anti-abortion march this year there were people at the march that stated they regretted their decision, but most do not regret this decision. There is much ignorant rhetoric by the anti-choice groups, and one of those is the view that abortion is "baby killing." A baby and a fetus are different where the baby has been birthed and is living outside of the mother, while a fetus is more like a 'thing' that is developing because of the mother. Therefore the fetus is part of the person and they should be the only one to make the decisions about their body.
The rhetoric additionally tends to be gendered where it is thought that only women need access to an abortion. One could say that the partner also needs an abortion, but here I am specifically speaking about Trans men who need abortions. This is not hard to understand: Trans men can get pregnant even when taking T (testosterone), so clearly cis gender women are not the only people that need access to abortion.
Furthermore, I often ask myself if we would be having these cultural and political conversation if cis gender men gave birth, needed birth control or needed access to an abortion. But I am not going to spend time on this thought because Gloria Steinem and other feminists have before. Now there is much already to discuss when the same people that want to separate church and state for the purposes of avoiding taxing their churches are the same people that want to impose their religious ideologies into state politics. But still as recently as days ago into 2017, my home state has passed egregious bills to reverse progress in human rights.

A second misconception is that foster care is a better option. But that means that the person is forced to carry till birth and give the child away. There are so many children in foster care.  Children's Rights states that "In 2015, over 670,000 children spent time in U.S. foster care [62,000 waiting to be adopted]. On average, children remain in state care for nearly two years and six percent of children in foster care have languished there for five or more years. Despite the common perception that the majority of children in foster care are very young, the average age of kids in care is nearly 9." More Black men are incarcerated today than were enslaved in 1850 according to Michelle Alexander, which could be affecting more than half of children entering U.S. foster care who were young people of color according to Children's Rights.
There is limited research on those who choose to foster children and the living conditions of those children who are fostered. I knew two parents that were both bus drivers and they had taken in a couple foster children while living in terrible conditions and caring for their other children. At one time I would have that they needed an extra check to care for their other children. This is not to say that fostering is bad, and actually I admire those who foster for the right reasons (not for money, and not for their ego.) Research on foster care conditions will have to be further explored, and there is much to be said on this subject, but I have exhausted this point enough.

The third misconception is that late term abortion are common. They are not. And actually those who get late term abortions are those who intended to carry the child to birth and ended up having complications from the pregnancy. Thus they needed an abortion because the baby would die anyway, or the person would suffer health risks. Most abortions are done in the first couple of weeks when a person realizes their pregnant. Actually as soon as they find out they're pregnant is usually when they schedule for the appointment. Some doctors and researchers suggest that the fetus "feels pain" after 24 weeks and consciousness is developed in the third trimester as well, but as I recollect when I started to feel pain and have consciousness--that wasn't until I was probably 2 years old.

Next, one myth about abortions is that they are on the rise when this is not true either. The abortion rate has been on the decline for years, and hit its lowest level in 2011, according to the latest data available from the Guttmacher Institute. There are many reasons for this, one being the greater acceptance and use of a variety of birth control methods, but another could be the fact that access to abortion is not easy. There are many barriers to this procedure and one of those barriers is the location when many people would have to drive 3 or more hours away to have the procedure done. One another barrier is the restrictive standards of abortion clinics. Another fact that the Guttmacher Institute states is that 61% of people who had abortions in 2008 were parents, and 34% had two or more children. This statistic was higher between then and 2011. This is interesting because often the narrative of is of a clueless, young, unmarried girl.

Another myth is that tax funds is used for abortions, but this is not the case. Tax funds may go to organizations that offer this service, but there is audits that make sure that tax funds do not go towards abortion services. The dialogue around defunding Planned Parenthood is that there is a belief that most citizens are anti-abortion, when in fact the majority of people across the US believe that abortion should remain legal and accessible for everyone. I find it extremely inconsistent that groups that call themselves 'pro-life' do not advocate for defunding the police and military, or banning killing animals for sport. What's more, some believe that simply banning abortion (much like banning or criminalizing anything) will stop it from happening when this is not the answer. Abortion is illegal in many places around the globe, and this is connected to the fact that people in those places are dying due to unsafe conditions and procedures. What would happen instead here in America is that people would be seeking out dangerous alternatives. People have the right to make decisions about their body, including the right to safe, accessible, affordable health care.
The take away message here is that people should not be forced to give birth when they don't want to, can't afford it, are not ready-- and all reasons for an abortion are valid. These laws and bills greatly affect the vast majority of people. I have used Plan B several times, and that's luckily due to the fact that I had access to this product at the nearest Wal-Mart, so in those moments I think to myself: I am 'at risk' of needing an abortion in my lifetime (especially because I am choosing to never have children.) I had my partner go in and buy Plan B all those times so I wouldn't to be seen buying it at midnight or early in the morning, or running into anyone I knew--even though it shouldn't be stigmatized for being a normal human animal.