Author: thespazmatazz

Hey, my name is Stormy. Yeah, that's my actual name! I'm a college student living in Philadelphia. I like knitting. I have a cat that does backflips. Much like the name of this blog, it will be filled with my often spastic thoughts about anything and everything. The funny, the weird, the creepy, the philosphical, the crafty.

The Fire Hydrant Leaks

You ever try too hard to be a decent person?

I feel as though the universe actively combats your efforts with unnecessary vigor.

Like you’re too eager, and it doesn’t trust your true intentions.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that chaos will always prevail. You can either let it flow and mind your business, or you can fight the current and inevitably get swept away, becoming a vessel of the very madness you tried to prevent.

The fire hydrant outside my apartment is leaking.

I saw a small stream of water running down the curb one day.

Hmm…

I looked for a car being washed up the road or something. Saw nothing. Moved on with my day.

I saw the stream of water again another day.

Okay, where is this coming from?

A quick scan and I see the hydrant a few yards away, leaking a little. Mystery solved, and I thought nothing more of it. Moved on with my day.

I think knowing what the source of the water was blinded me to it for a while, but a week or two later, I paid attention again.

That hydrant is still leaking. How long has it been? That’s like…not good, right?

It isn’t good, right? It can’t be. We need that water.. That’s why we have hydrants. To have access to water. What happens if it all leaks out? Don’t I pay for this water? Taxes totally pay for fire hydrants and water and sewage and stuff.

My taxes… 

I am being billed for this leak right now.

Oh hell no.

But what to do? I guess I have to tell the city. Has anybody else cared enough to say something to someone? Has anyone even noticed the leak? Nobody is going to do anything. It’s up to me. I have to be the one. That’s noble, isn’t it? Yeah, man! I’m a good f’n citizen of Philadelphia. I’m reporting a leak! But, who do I notify? Who will fix it?

The Fire Department would be my assumption. At this point, I was on a crusade. There was levels to this. I didn’t just report some leak, like it was something simple. Being good is work. I had to research the number to the fire department, because it’s not like I could just call 911 for a hydrant.

I looked up their number and called.

No answer.

I called a second time.

No answer.

I looked up a different number.

Disconnected line.

So not only am I paying for wasted water, but I’m also paying for the fire department to not have phones that work?

I called 911 for a fire hydrant.

I had to. They made me. There was no other way. Somebody needed to know and fix this leak. Somebody, anybody.

911: 911, what’s your emergency?

Me: Yeah, hi. I don’t really have an emergency, but I don’t know who else to call. So there’s this hydrant leaking outside my apartment…

They asked my address and some questions about the hydrant, thanked me for calling it in, and said they’d send someone out as soon as possible. Felt good, I saved some water. I gave our taxes purpose. The city thanked me. I just did a good thing.

The hydrant outside my apartment is still leaking a month and a half later.

 

It leaks as I speak…

As I speak, it currently leaks…

 

I walk out everyday, and there’s that constant stream, running down my block.

I started seeing traces of my patience and sanity float by along with it, too.

 

Water.

 

Water that my taxes pay for.

Water that a concerned citizen notified the fire department about over a month ago.

Water that the fire department said they would stop from leaking.

Water that they probably heard about and hung up to promptly laugh over my concern…mocking me, having a good ol’ time.

Water that won’t be there for an emergency.

Water that won’t be there for an emergency…

 

Now wouldn’t that be unfortunate, an emergency?

 

What if, say…one of the dilapidated houses on my block just, I don’t know…caught fire…somehow? Like, that could totally happen, yeah? They’re very abandoned. Very…made of flammable material.

A fire on my block…

The fire department would rush to the scene, sirens blaring from the big red fire engine, neighbors running outside for safety, for spectacle.

The firefighters pull out the hose, connect it to the fire hydrant, and oh?

The hose points to the billowing flames, but nothing juts out.

Panic ensues from the growing audience around the block as the flames grow out of control and charred remains of abandoned house start falling, with no water to hose it down.

 

Water.

 

Where’s the water? What’s wrong with the fire hydrant? WHAT HAPPENED TO THE WATER?

 

“Oh, the water? HOW PECULIAR,” a deranged voice screams from the crowd, laughing maniacally, “WHEREVER DID IT ALL GO? OH, I THINK I SEE IT, THAT STREAM BY THE CURB TRICKLING DOWN THE STREET…A LEAK? A LEAK EMPTIED ALL THE WATER? WHAT A SHAME! IF ONLY SOMEONE REPORTED THAT LEAK BEFORE SUCH AN EMERGENCY! DID NO GOOD, CONCERNED CITIZEN NOTIFY YOU OF THIS LEAK? Maybe someone did. Maybe someone called. Where were you then, huh!? Laughing, possibly, on the other end of the line I bet? Now look at what you’ve done! Heh.. heh heh, hahaha…HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA LOOK AT WHAT YOU’VE DONE! WHO’S LAUGHING NOW?”

Yeah, soooo I’m just gonna let the hydrant leak.

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Growing Up Beige: Appropriating the Struggle

I remember one day back in college, sitting in the computer lab with one of my friends.

She got frustrated suddenly, and when I asked what was wrong, she points to her screen at some girl’s Facebook page.

“I used to be good friends with this girl in high school.”

She continued on about their friendship and why they were no longer close.

They used to go to concerts all the time together, rock and metal shows with mosh pits and all that. The girl was biracial, half black, half white. In high school, she wore her hair straightened, wore skater clothing brands, and was wholly ignorant to black culture. The Facebook page I was looking at, however, showed a curly-haired girl, with post after post of shared news stories of gentrification in the city, think pieces on race, and general politics. Something had clearly changed since high school with this girl, and my friend wasn’t buying it.

The most recent of her postings was an article talking about the last high rise projects in North Philly. I can’t really remember the opinion of the piece, but the girl shared hers along with the article link. And whatever her stance was, it pissed my friend off.

My friend lived in that area of town. She shared her frustration over how article apparently oversimplified the issues, and how this girl was not only misguided in her opinion, but also had no business speaking on matters she didn’t understand. Then came her biggest issue about this girl, and at that point she said something that has stuck in my mind ever since.

“I can’t just take this off,” she said as she extended her arm and rubbed her brown skin.

Hearing that struck a conflicting chord. I simultaneously empathized with my friend’s rage, and sympathized with this girl’s identity struggle.

I am understanding the beige area, as I’m going to coin it, as the space in between these two feelings.

I am black.

I haven’t always accepted that, and I was kind of allowed to deny it, so I did. I can claim blackness, and I can just as easily renounce my race when it inconveniences me to be so. And honestly I found it to be an inconvenience for most of my life.

While I still struggle with my past upsets over my racial identity, I recognize and admit that I’ve been wrong and severely misguided. Injustice seems a whole lot more important than my pride and hurt feelings, and I don’t want to exploit this racial loophole as some kind of advantage anymore. It’s not one. I’m paying for my ignorance now as I try to work backwards seeking a foundation I didn’t think I needed for years.

What I don’t want to do through this process is to fake a hardship that I didn’t suffer through. What I don’t want to do is speak out of my backside about issues that have never pertained to me. I’m black, sure. But I don’t share or even know all black struggles, and I’m not going to act like I do. I will not and don’t need to appropriate the struggle in order to join the cause.

And I’ll join by speaking what I know, and learning and supporting what I don’t. My issues as a light-skinned Black American aren’t going to be recognized as real struggles to some. I get it, but I don’t really care. It’s my only vantage point, and I think as many shades of the Black American perspective that can be shared, should be shared and respected. We need to understand where we’re all coming from so we can collectively work towards one direction for the better. Colorism is maintaining division and distracting us from moving forward. It’s more complex than that, yes. But we have to start somewhere.

I want to hear perspectives and connect with different views and more insights, so you’ll find mine here, piece by piece.