"Smart Cookie"

Strange how quickly you can go from feeling so invincible one moment, to so vulnerable the next. Nothing awful ended up happening, thankfully, but I still feel like processing what happened tonight.

On my way home from dance practice, I decided to go get pizza in the Castro since I’d skipped dinner. I got my slice and sat down at one of the cramped window seats at Marcello’s, looking forward to a bit of space out time before going home to do more work.

A few minutes later a tall pale man asked if he could sit where my backpack was. I said sure and moved my bag. I went back to staring out the window at the Castro Theater for a few moments before he told me how cool my backpack was. I looked at him, said thanks, and turned back around. He started up again with some small talk, asking how my pizza was, and I answered because I didn’t want to be rude. He seemed to have taken that as a sign that I was enjoying this interaction so far, despite my tight lipped smiles and quick eye contact.

He kept talking at me, telling me about the French improv show he just went to see, how he hosts many couch surfers at his place…but then went on to tell me pretty personal things. Like how he didn’t fit in as a kid after his family moved from Paris to middle America, and then how he still didn’t understand how dating worked around here. This was all over the course of 10 minutes. I gave him curt responses while I continued to eat my pizza, and making a point of not shifting my body towards him. But as the conversation progressed, I felt the dread slowly well-up inside of me.

He is obviously trying to hit on me, but why am I getting such an eery vibe from him? He’s just trying to be friendly and make conversation right?

Then he asked me what I did for living, and (for some stupid reason because I am too fucking honest) I told him what I do. He replied, “Aaah, so you’re a smart cookie then?” and winked at me.

In that moment he managed to both insult me and utterly creep me out at the same time.

I told him I had to go work, folded the rest of the pizza, and shoved it into my mouth as I got my stuff together. When I realized that his body blocked my way from getting out of the corner, I stared him square in the face, fake smiled as hard I could, and said “Please, would you mind…?”

He moved out of the way and I squeezed passed as I wished him a good night. I unlocked my bike and started walking home. I thought that was that. But a few blocks away while I was trying to shake off the uneasiness, I saw him walk up behind me.

Whaaaaat the fuuuuuck is he doing here…?

I’ve been followed many times before, and over the years I’ve learned that talking to them in a normal tone of voice as if nothing is wrong is the fastest way to make *them* uneasy.

So I said “Hi!” as cheerfully as I could, “I’m assuming this way is home for you?”

He stammered for a second, then said “Umm, uh yeah. I’m walking up here to catch the 24 to Pac Heights.” He looked at his phone as if he were lost, even though he told me at Marcello’s that he’d lived in the same place for a while, and even though you can catch the 24 bus from the Castro.

He walked up next to me and fell silent. “You thought I was following you right? Ha ha!”

“No. I didn’t.”

“Well good…because I’m NOT,” he said with a creepy ass grin.

I choked on my spit and coughed. Silence. I felt like I had to say something so I said, “So…since you know what I do, what do you do?”

He gave me a long rambling response, about how he’s a web developer, started some hosting company back in the day, but is also selling what he called the “iPhones of pipes”—I wasn’t really paying attention at this point because this guy was following me home. I was busy imagining the worst case scenarios and what my plan of action was to lose him.

About two blocks away from my place I told him I was turning off from where he was headed. He asked me if I wanted to keep in touch and I told him I was just too busy. He suddenly looked a bit angry and walked off without a word. I crossed down the side road but looked over to him continuing down the street a few seconds later. He was staring at me from over his shoulder. I felt a cold shiver run down my spine.

I turned the corner from where he couldn’t see me and I sat on a neighbor’s front stoop for about 10 minutes, just to make sure he’d be gone. I walked back to the street he was on to get to my house, and I peeked around. He was gone.

~

Maybe this guy was being nice? Maybe he’s just an awkward guy who doesn’t know how to read social cues? I don’t know. But this person made me feel really threatened. It seemed possible to me that at any point he could’ve sexually violated me. As we walked, rape statistics kept flashing in my head. I even tried to comfort myself by remembering the fact that only 1/3 of rapes were by complete strangers…

Maybe he had no ill intentions, but that’s not the point. I’d tucked away my past experiences like these so I’d forgotten what it felt like to feel like sexual prey. I know it’s always there, and I know that many many women face situations that are much worse than this constantly. But I’m not capable of doing anything pragmatic about this issue, to try to change things in a meaningful way. I don’t have the energy to devote to that. I feel guilty that I’m not doing more to fight this particular widespread injustice but I don’t want that to be my role.

All I’ve decided to do is to write it down, and move on.

Bring it.

My life is being consumed by my campaign to fight the copyright enforcement provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I’m trying to dedicate every ounce of my being to this without losing my mind.

I’m angry about how much US policymakers are complicit with the copyright industry, and have chosen to disrespect the Internet.

I’m angry that they’re doing this all in secret under the guise of “knowing better” than the rest of us.

I’m angry that they’re trying to pass international laws in the name of promoting creativity and innovation when in fact they’re trying to obstruct them.

But what gets me the most? How this is a way for corporations to design the rule of law in their favor.

Laws need to be designed to maximize the public interest. They’re *not* there to protect a few special private interests who are too cowardly and unimaginative to adapt to new markets and new technological realities.

I’m spending the next month pushing myself to do everything in my power to make the world notice what’s going on. It’s hardly the only socioeconomic threat in the world right now, but it’s the battlefront where I’m fighting.

So bring it on, MPAA, RIAA, IFPI, and all you copyright mafia. Everything you do will just make yourselves look less and less relevant and earn you even less sympathy from the public.

 

I’ve never felt more energized.

Copyright expansionists are digging their own grave.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

― Buckminster Fuller

~

This quote has been bouncing around my head for the past week since I saw it in Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for RevolutionI know I’ve heard it before, but I guess it struck me differently this time given my current headspace.

The Internet is still very young in a lot of ways, but [obvious statement alert] it’s the new model of sharing that makes the pre-existing model of creative content distribution obsolete. Which is why copyright enforcement provisions have become so absurd. They’re *meant* to break the Internet. Those who profit off the existing system want to crush this new realm that allows us to have direct relationships with creators and artists, where we don’t have to rely on middlemen to decide for us what is “good” and what should be distributed to people because we now have a way of finding and experiencing the content that we want.

Part of the major problem with this whole mess is that the very companies that are pushing for more restrictive content restrictions aren’t able to make quality services that reflect how real users expect to be able to view, purchase, and interact with content. Why? I think it’s the same reasons why they’re doing everything in their power to expand copyright protections at the expense of all else: They don’t understand how the Internet works and they don’t really care. I can’t imagine that they could create a remotely popular content viewing or playing platform given their complete disregard for how users just do things online.

Music labels, movie studios, and other publishers are so worried about losing money, they continue to try and resist the new reality. Rather than get creative about their business and even try to adapt, they’re digging their own grave as they shove obscene amounts of resources into lobbying for policies meant to sabotage the new model.

Which is why I love the idea behind Flattr so much. It’s a microdonation service that gives users the autonomy to pay for things that they appreciate on various sites (such as Likes, favorites, etc.), and for creators to get direct financial support for work that others find valuable. These transactions need to become as easy as possible. While there’s still a long way to go, Flattr seems to be the closest thing to achieve that seamlessness in paying for content. This is what record labels and movie studios SHOULD be focused on if they really cared about getting artists compensated.

The copyright industries don’t get that the more they try to harm the Internet, the worse they look and the less sympathetic people will be to their cries against “online piracy.” The policies they’re pushing for demonstrate so clearly their relentless contempt for the Internet and its driving force of user generated content.

A friend on twitter said with dismay today that those private, pro-copyright interests are winning. But I’m happy to disagree. The new model is the Internet and it’s already here. As long as pro-copyright groups go on trying to mess with it, the further they will go on alienating themselves as being regressive and anti-progress.

We're fam

Another stream of conscious [afternote: this post turned out much more personal than I expected but it is what it is].

Today I went to Berkeley to see a friend from high school whom I hadn’t seen for 3 years. We’d seen each other sporadically throughout college but we’ve mostly lost touch. We used to be so close way back when. We were each others’ muses for our art projects, modeling for and critiquing each others’ work. I spent 5 hours once trying to dread all of their straight, jet black hair. As mutual lefties, we made each other learn how to write backwards so we could write lengthy letters and poetry to each other throughout the day.

As cheesy as it sounds, as soon as we met up it was like no time had passed at all. We giggled and teased as we cooked a massive brunch and ate it on a warm sunny porch.

Our worlds aren’t parallel in the same way any more. Which is normal. There were times today when we talked about our lives when I felt that obvious rift.  Still, when I saw them today I remembered that feeling I had felt when we first became friends, that I had finally found someone who was my kind. I was so relieved that they existed. After a few years of hazing at my middle school and the resulting resentfulness towards everyone around me, the relief was huge.

I was a bit nervous before seeing them because I thought we’d both changed too much for us to be recognizable. Maybe we spent enough time during such a sensitive and formative period that we might forever recognize that imprint in each other when we meet. Whatever it is, it was so great to see them.

~

Afterwards, I went to my aunt at the Oakland Museum to get a sneak peek of her environmental habitat exhibition that is opening up next month. She’s been working on it for the past few years and it’s gonna be so cool.

Anyway, the entire museum is incredible including the current exhibit of Hung Liu’s lifetime work. A separate display had a series of portraits all displayed very close together in a big mass and you could draw your own face at a booth next to it, and it would display it on one of the frames. This is the one I did very hurriedly and with not much control:

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