Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

04 August 2014

Inklust #14: What goes without pain


The brain has no pain sensors and so it can’t hurt. The loss of his mind has turned out to be a curiously pain-free process. He feels that it ought to hurt more.
— Gabrielle Zevin, The Storied Life of AJ Fikry 


Image via Marc Dalmulder, available via a cc license.

---

What is "Inklust"? Boy am I glad you asked. Here's the manifesto: part I and part II.

01 July 2014

Inklust #13: Stories are Dangerous



Stories are dangerous. And I don’t mean stories whose messages are capable of endangering. I mean that the form itself is dangerous, not the content. You know what a metaphor is? A story sent through the super distillation of imagination. You know what a story is? An extended metaphor. We live in them. We live in this swirling mass of stories written by scribes hidden in some forgotten room up there in the towers. The day someone thought of calling pigeons flying rats was the day the fate of pigeons was sealed. 
— Zia Haider Rahman, In the Light of What We Know


---

What is "Inklust"? Boy am I glad you asked. Here's the manifesto: part I and part II.

13 June 2014

A Voyage in a Suitcase


My 30th birthday happened and since then, every day has been #ThrowbackThursday for my mom. She's got a weird new picture of me out of the archives and onto the 'net every time I load Facebook.

Today's was this shot of me inside a suitcase. Its caption reads, "I knew baby Angel would be traveling a lot someday."

It isn't the first time I've seen this picture or heard that anecdote. My crawling into a suitcase probably had less to do with an early affinity for travel and more to do with the possibility that, like cats, toddlers enjoy crawling into things that can snugly enclose them, like a womb. (Go-to places for me included cabinets and crawlspaces, where I'd watch while The Adults searched for me with mounting hysteria. They would later buy me a rainbow-coloured leash.)

But we can't resist weaving threads through random snapshots like string through Chex. I've often worried that by doing this, we do ourselves a disservice: A story made up of unrelated parts takes on a life of its own, hardens into a kind of truth. And the "truth" I wanted to save, the truth getting lost in the anecdote, was, "I never planned to be a breezy globetrotter."

There's nothing really important about this truth. It's just the truth, so it's worth more. Isn't it...?

I think of this reflexive defensiveness against narrative as Big Fish syndrome. In the movie, a tight, super-rational guy battles with his dying father's tendency to pass epics off for truths. Most of the movie juxtaposes these lush legends against the son's efforts to find the small kernels of truth that remain, hidden somewhere in the details.* (I love the Siamese twins!) You know the rest: He can't change his dad, so if he wants to make peace with his death, he'll have to find a way to make peace with that grey area between the quantified "real" and the stories we invent.

But what makes us need to invent them?

In a 1973 interview with William Kennedy of The Atlantic, Gabriel Garcia Marquez was asked about his tendency to embed the surreal into otherwise "realistic" stories and settings. He replied, "In Mexico, surrealism runs through the streets. Surrealism comes from the reality of Latin America."

I loved this idea. As a child of Philippine immigrants, I know what it's like to straddle two worlds: One where reality is understood as what we can see and prove, and another where spirits throw mud at your car, meeting men as tall as an apple could spell death, and witch doctors can proffer cures that good San Francisco doctors can't.

Those two worlds easily become warring tribes. For a long time I embodied the conflict central to Big Fish, except that the father and his yarns were my family, whole traditions, sometimes even myself.

Ironically, what calmed this conflict was becoming an immigrant myself. We lack clarity about the future at the best of times; when you leave everything you knew and create a new reality, you're entering a parallel universe, one where you only resemble the person you left behind. You're naked and everything around you becomes incoherent: Unfamiliar rules, uncertainty about the order of "life steps", and even less visibility about where you're headed. Suddenly, it hits you how little of the future you actually control and how much of you is in the hands of others.

So you tell yourself stories. You start seeing signs in small gestures, patching moments together to produce a narrative about who you are and where you're headed. You revise your past, ever so slightly, and invent a trajectory that, when squinting, might resemble a destiny.

Stories are a survival instinct. They tell us who we are, where we're going. They tell us that, if we can just hold tight to the storyline, we can somehow control — or at least come to grips with — the outcome.

That's everything I thought when I opened Facebook and saw the picture of me in a suitcase, with its fond little caption, at the top of my newsfeed.

I knew baby Angel would be traveling a lot someday.

On the surface it's a loving mother's humblebrag. One level lower, and it's simply a statement about where I am (Paris), and where I was (in a suitcase in San Francisco). Descend again, and it's the hope my parents had for a prettier life for their hypothetical kids, where the possibility of travel, as much for pleasure as for work, would be more of a scheduling issue than a financial one. And at the lowest level, the deepest and the thickest one, it's the rippling of my mother's own story: How could a child of wanderers not wander?

It's so many stories, really. And stories aren't born out of the ether; each is a tiny promise of sanity that encourages you to go on changing, an insane quest to find beauty and reason in unmitigated chaos. Stories are the only means we have to survive the violence of evolution.

Why fight that?

---

*The "truths", or at least the realities lost in the stories, are very "meh". In the end, nobody cares about them. Did you know that in ancient history the common interpretation of truth in storytelling was completely different? There wasn't this Wikipedia-esque mania for having to recount things "as they truly happened". It was more like, "there's a truth we want to convey. So we're going to tell a story." Everyone accepted these stories for fact, not because the pieces of them were so important, but because the sum was. I learned that in Zealot, so thanks, Reza Aslan.

29 January 2014

Tumblr's just updated its community guidelines.

They are all-encompassing and hilarious:

TUMBLR'S COMMUNITY GUIDELINES

As a global platform for creativity and self-expression, Tumblr is deeply committed to supporting and protecting freedom of speech. At the same time, we draw lines around a few narrowly defined but deeply important categories of content and behavior that jeopardize our users, threaten our infrastructure, and damage our community.

What Tumblr is for:

Tumblr celebrates creativity. We want you to express yourself freely and use Tumblr to reflect who you are, and what you love, think, and stand for.

What Tumblr is not for:

Malicious Speech. Don't encourage violence or hatred on the basis of things like race, ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation. We encourage you to dismantle negative speech through argument rather than censorship. We will, however, remove anything that is overtly malicious.

Harm to Minors. Be thoughtful when posting anything involving a minor. Don't post or solicit anything relating to minors that is sexually suggestive or violent. Don’t bully minors, even if you are one. Being a teenager is complicated enough without the anxiety, sadness, and isolation caused by bullying.

Promotion or Glorification of Self-Harm. Don't post content that actively promotes or glorifies self-harm. This includes content that urges or encourages others to: cut or injure themselves; embrace anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders; or commit suicide rather than, e.g., seeking counseling or treatment, or joining together in supportive conversation with those suffering or recovering from depression or other conditions. Dialogue about these behaviors is incredibly important and online communities can be extraordinarily helpful to people struggling with these difficult conditions. We aim for Tumblr to be a place that facilitates awareness, support and recovery, and we will remove only those posts or blogs that cross the line into active promotion or glorification of self-harm.

Gore, Mutilation, Bestiality, or Necrophilia. Don't post gore just to be shocking. Don’t showcase the mutilation or torture of human beings, animals, or their remains. Dick.

Unflagged NSFW Blogs. Tumblr is home to millions of readers and creators from a variety of locations, cultures, and backgrounds who hold different points of view concerning adult-oriented content. If you regularly post sexual or adult-oriented content, respect the choices of people in our community who would rather not see such content by flagging your blog (which you can do on your blog’s Settings page) as Not Suitable for Work ("NSFW"). This action doesn’t prevent you or your readers from using any of Tumblr's social features, but rather screens your blog’s content from Tumblr users who would prefer not to see NSFW material.

Uploading Sexually Explicit Video. You can embed anything in a Tumblr post as long as it’s lawful and follows our other guidelines, but please don't use Tumblr's Upload Video feature to upload sexually explicit video. We're not in the business of hosting adult-oriented videos (and it’s fucking expensive).

Non-Genuine Social Gesture Schemes. Don't participate in schemes to drive up non-genuine Follows, Likes, Reblogs, etc. Don’t orchestrate or engage in "follow trains," where users are encouraged to follow lists of other users to gain more followers for themselves. Don't make bulk or indiscriminate use of messaging features, like Fan Mail or Asks, to, for example, bait Reblogs/Follows or drive traffic to your blog or website. If you want people to like you, just play it cool and be yourself.

Deceptive or Fraudulent Links. Don't post deceptive or fraudulent links in your posts. This includes giving links misleading descriptions, putting the wrong “source” field in a post, setting misleading click-through links on images, or embedding links to interstitial or pop-up ads.

Misattribution or Non-Attribution. Make sure you always give proper attribution and include full links back to original sources. When you find something awesome on Tumblr, reblog it instead of reposting it. It’s less work and more fun, anyway. When reblogging something, DO NOT inject a link back to your blog just to steal attention from the original post.

Username/URL Abuse or Squatting. Tumblr's usernames/URLs are meant for the use and enjoyment of all of our users. Don't squat, hoard, amass, accumulate, accrue, stockpile, rack up, buy, trade, sell, launder, invest in, ingest, get drunk on, cyber with, grope, or jealously guard Tumblr usernames/URLs.

Spam. Don’t spam people. Don’t make spammy posts, don’t post spammy replies, don’t send people spammy messages. Be a regular human. Don't put tags on your posts that will mislead or deceive searchers. For example, don’t tag a photo of your cat with "doctor who" unless the name of your cat is actually Doctor Who, and don’t overload your posts with #barely #relevant #tags. Of course, meaningful uses of tags are always fine (for example, ironic "punchline" tags that add meaning or context to a post). Don't put dubious code in your posts, like using JavaScript to cause redirects or inject unwanted ads in blogs. Don't use deceptive means to generate revenue or traffic, or create blogs with the primary purpose of affiliate marketing. Spam doesn't belong on Tumblr.

Mass Registration or Automation. Don't register accounts or post content automatically, systematically, or programmatically.

Unauthorized Contests, Sweepstakes, or Giveaways. Please follow our guidelines for contests, sweepstakes, and giveaways.

Themes Distributed by Third Parties. To ensure the safety and stability of our blog network, it's important that themes are distributed through tumblr.com/themes. It’s easy, it’s secure, and any interested developer can use it to host and promote their work. Besides the inconvenience involved in using them, third-party theme repositories are often used to inject nefarious code that subjects users to spam, ads, or phishing attacks. Don’t use them. Creating blogs or directories that curate themes from tumblr.com/themes is a-okay.

Copyright or Trademark Infringement. Respect the copyrights and trademarks of others. If you aren't allowed to use someone else's copyrighted or trademarked work (either by license or by legal exceptions/limitations like fair use), don't post it. It is our policy to respond to notices of alleged copyright infringement as per our Terms of Service and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Please see our DMCA notification form to file a claim online.

Confusion or Impersonation. Don’t do things that would cause confusion between you or your blog and a person or company, like registering a deliberately confusing URL. Don’t impersonate anyone. While you’re free to ridicule, parody, or marvel at the alien beauty of Benedict Cumberbatch, you can’t pretend to actually be Benedict Cumberbatch.

Harassment. Don't attempt to circumvent the Ignore feature or otherwise try to communicate with someone who has asked you to stop.

Privacy Violations. Don't use Tumblr to deceptively obtain personal information. Don't post content that violates anyone’s privacy, especially personally identifying or confidential information like credit card numbers, social security numbers, unlisted contact information, or private photos of your ex's junk (no matter how remarkable).

Disruptions, Exploits, or Resource Abuse. Our servers, and the valiant engineers behind them, work hard for you. Don't attempt unauthorized use, disruption, or exploitation of Tumblr.com or our other products and services, or otherwise abuse Tumblr's resources.

Unlawful Uses or Content. This one's pretty obvious, but Tumblr is not a place for illegal behavior, including fraud, phishing, or illegally inciting violence.

If we conclude that you are violating these guidelines, you may receive a notice via email. If you don't explain or correct your behavior, we may take action against your account. We do our best to ensure fair outcomes, but in all cases we reserve the right to suspend accounts, or remove content, without notice, for any reason, but particularly to protect our services, infrastructure, users, and community. We reserve the right to enforce, or not enforce, these guidelines in our sole discretion, and these guidelines don't create a duty or contractual obligation for us to act in any particular manner.

You can report violations of these guidelines to us directly.

We also reserve the right to amend these guidelines using the procedures set forth in our Terms of Service.

If you have questions or feedback, don't hesitate to let us know.

Thanks for reading all of this, by the way. Welcome to Tumblr.

Link to Prior Versions

You will find prior versions of our Community Guidelines on GitHub, which will allow you to compare historical versions and see which terms have been updated.

http://github.com/tumblr/policy/commits/master/community-guidelines.txt

15 November 2013

A Story About Dishes

I was my parents' first kid. This is a tough role: they were nervous and wanted to raise me well, and they filled me with all the things they learned to fear, in adulthood and in immigration. My success became first-priority; my capacity to think before acting, crucial.

In short, they wanted perfection. It was an impossible mission, one I could never fulfil, but I don't blame them for that. They thought it was the best way to keep me floating, like a cork in an uncertain world.

When they left me home alone, I memorised words from the dictionary. In the car with my dad, we listened to success tapes. I was put in Gifted and Talented programmes, taught music, and I learned to fold laundry like an employee at the Gap.

But there's one night that stays with me. It comes to me sometimes in exchanges with clients, or when watching superiors deal with assistants or interns. The night is this one:

I was doing the dishes. The dishes were porcelain and we'd had roast chicken, an especially oily meal. I'd been at the washing so long that there was almost no hot water left, making de-greasing long and tricky.

My dad came up behind me, picked up a just-washed plate lying in the rinser, and held it up. "This isn't even close to clean," he said. "Couldn't you tell? Can't you feel it with your fingers?!"

My dad is a big and powerful guy. He could look at you wrong and you'd shrink a foot. But when he yells, it's something out of hell.

He went on like that: What the hell is wrong with you? Don't you think? Are you lazy? Do you think you're the only one living here?

The shouting got louder. My mother came into the kitchen and folded her arms, watching silently. My hands started to shake, and I tried very hard to focus on the dishes. I scrubbed harder, and stared at the white of the porcelain until it blurred.

My dad kept yelling. And in one of those terrible betrayals that your body sometimes makes when it buckles before your mind does, I dropped a dish.

The yelling got worse. He hit me with his go-to rebuke: "Stop screwing up! Only people who don't think screw up. Stop it! Can't you think?!"

I dropped another dish. Then another. It was like a really loud waterfall. Tears rolled down my cheeks; the yelling didn't stop, and the pile of smashed porcelain at my feet got bigger and bigger. I started to have weird thoughts: think of all the elephant statues somebody could make with those. They'd look so sad, white elephants stitched together like quilts. They'd be greasy. The moment felt surreal; I started to slip out of myself, and still I kept dropping the goddamn dishes.

Finally my mother said, "You're killing her concentration. Stop yelling."

My dad stopped, took one last hot breath, and walked away. Eventually I stopped dropping dishes, but the fear that rose in me in that moment has never left.

I live in perpetual fear of making mistakes: disappointing people when I don't mean to, failing to think far enough ahead or consider all the variables involved. I'm working on this, because I know that I get really tense and freak out everyone around me, but it's work I have to redo every day. Mistakes always suck, but even small ones are hard; I repeat them in my mind for days, weeks, sometimes years.

Sometimes people treat employees like my dad treated me that night. I don't know what they're seeking to achieve when they do. Experience, and that moment in the kitchen, taught me it's ineffective and even traumatising; it doesn't improve the job people do later on, and it certainly doesn't improve matters in the moment. Whenever it happens, and however much I know it's not about me, I still can't help thinking: did I fail to do enough? Is something wrong with me? Am I a broken human who sucks at life? And even if those thoughts (or variants thereof) look productive, they aren't. They sit there, eating me inside like cancerous bits, erecting thick walls that slowly start closing in on whatever other — potentially creative, potentially useful — thoughts are left.

When I manage people I put myself in their place before addressing a disciplinary issue. I try not to make them feel worse than the situation calls for; I try to be kind. And I try, very hard, not to expect perfection. People fuck up. They fuck up worse when you put them on eggshells and make them question their roles, their careers, their very existence in the universe.

Don't do this to people.

20 October 2013

Inklust #12: Thirsty Demons


It is chilling, in fact, the similarity between alcoholism and good ol’ fashioned demonic possession, the kind seen in The Exorcist. Like the devil, an alcoholic just wants to hide in his room, curse God, puke on visitors, and die. Attempts to cast out either alcoholism or the devil get the same response: both demon and disease will deny they exist. And when exposed, both will try to make deals to survive, or threaten suicide, or lash out, or play dead. Alcoholism is well described as a sickness of the soul because it is in the soul that the alcoholic’s problem lies.
— Luke Sullivan, Thirty Rooms to Hide In

---

What is "Inklust"? Boy am I glad you asked. Here's the manifesto: part I and part II.